This blog post is written by Ruth Levin, a Dharma student in Canada. She shares her synopsis of Doug & Catherine Sensei’s “Cha Cha Cha of Awakening” class in Calgary, Alberta on February 18 2016.
I recently had the pleasure and privilege of attending a class called the Cha Cha Cha of Awakening, taught by Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei. Even having studied with them as my teachers and guides for the last ten years, I still find myself impressed with the depth of the message they deliver.
Spiritual Awakening as a Dance
Life is movement and life is desire. In the class, they emphasized that the process of spiritual awakening is inherently dance-like. A still, clear center must be maintained internally for the dancer’s limbs to be free, and the same is true for freedom in our own lives. Most of us are so busy with the ‘movements’ and activities of life that we miss the stillness.
As a dancer myself, I know this to be true first-hand, and I find that when it comes to the process of growing spiritually, it can be easy to want to pin things down, to find some perspective or behavior to grasp onto as fail safe. And I also know that this isn’t possible, that indeed, as Doug & Catherine emphasized, true freedom lies in embracing and being aware of the dance, and continually remembering the place of inner stillness. Awakening is the stillness in the middle, while everything else is swirling.
For me, the message that was most central in what they covered was that awareness is the most important part of moving towards freedom, and that what tends to limit our awareness is the fear of pain, usually painful emotions. In their words:
“Stuckness comes from clinging, and what we are clinging to is the fear of being hurt.”
Connection & Union, Independence & Autonomy
To meet and skillfully negotiate this fear of being hurt we need to gain self-knowledge and strength. Doug and Catherine described that this can be developed via two opposing, or balancing forms. The first is connection and union and the second is independence and autonomy.
- Connection and union is about connecting and falling into the experiences and other people in our life.
- Independence and autonomy conversely are about maintaining a strong sense of a separate center throughout.
Each of us tends to be stronger in one of these than the other. For me, my tendency is to fall into experiences, and so connection and union is the more developed of the two. I need to learn to hold my own center throughout experiences – in Doug and Catherine’s words – to become my own mother.
In developing both of these skills in balance and tandem we can meet the pain with the strength and care it takes to let it go. Then, instead of going to all sorts of efforts to avoid the pain, I have the strength and softness to maintain awareness while being fully with the hurt until it dissolves on its own, leaving me freer to live, care and love fully.
A huge thank you to Doug and Catherine for sharing their wisdom and presence so generously.
This blog post was written by Ruth Levin, originally published on the Dharma Hub Calgary website.