We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ~ Pema Chodron
Pause for a moment and feel the world changing, feel the absolute impermanence of all things, feel the deep ache of vicissitude moving through you, around you, maybe even despite you. It is equal parts silent and cataclysmic.
Take a deep breath. You are the vital space in which “coming together” and falling apart” are eternally dancing. Be still and honor this paradox that is moving within you.
Surrender to the delicious puzzle of yourself going through the motions of putting itself back together, again and again.
There is perhaps no more powerful an archetype than that of the Never Not Broken Goddess. She is a lesser known Hindu deity named Akhilandeshvari. She embodies the ability to come together and fall apart, again and again.
She is the personification of healthy annihilation, the archetype of unexpected change. She breaks apart in order to come back together as a more powerful version of herself. Indeed, it is exactly because she is able to break apart that she is so powerful.
We are never not broken. And that’s okay. In our brokenness there is potential for unlimited growth. It is through our brokenness-turned-robustness that we become stronger, more flexible individuals.
Integration and disintegration
Make visible what, without you might perhaps never have been seen. ~Robert Bresson
You are an amalgamation of cosmos, a coalescence of universal aspects that have somehow come together in just the right way, for a finite amount of time, to become you: mind, body, and soul.
Sometimes there are breakdowns in this amalgamation you call a “self.” Sometimes these breakdowns hurt, like when your heart gets broken. Sometimes they are necessary, like with a dark night of the soul. Always they are a disintegration.
But within the compost of disintegration there is the seed of integration. The Never Not Broken Goddess is there planting the seed and watering it with liquid encouragement.
Governing the Nietzschean precept of “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” it stands to reason that if we can find a way to cultivate this seed, it will grow into a reintegrated Self more robust than the Self that came before.
Answers and questions
Every question possesses a power that does not lie within the answer. ~Elie Weisel
What could be the power that lies between breaking apart and coming back together again? Could it be the same type of power that lies within “every question” that Elie Weisel is talking about in the above quote?
Could there be a kind of magic between opposites that either side by itself simply cannot sustain? Might there be a way, perhaps in meditation between breaths, perhaps in the deep silence of no-mind between thoughts, perhaps in the throes of the flow state between imaginings, for us to tap into this sacred energy?
If I were to answer all of the above questions, would those answers be as powerful as their questions? Would they maintain the same mysterious integrity? Perhaps, but the problem with answers is that there is the tendency to stop questioning further.
What being never not broken teaches us is that there is never not an answer that cannot be questioned. In the cocoon-like annihilation of being broken all things are in question, despite the answers on the other side of the cocoon, and definitely in spite of the answers that came before it.
Chaos and cohesion
In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. ~Carl Jung
Within the shadow, there is a key to making the unconscious conscious. Usually we never meet our shadows because our lives are too comfortable and certain, or we become complacent. Sometimes it takes falling apart to discover the shadow, because that’s when we’re the most vulnerable.
If we’re able to embrace our shadow in such times, our soul becomes more cohesive and more holistic in breadth and scope. In short: more self-actualized. We’re able to come back together again as a healthy unified front, and we become more capable of utilizing the full range of our powers.
We turn chaos into order so that the worst in us can be transformed into the best in us. We turn order into chaos so that we’re not clinging for dear life to the basket that holds all our eggs.
We turn chaos into order so that we’re not bumping into walls and petting scorpions. We flatten the box of black and white fallacious thinking by smearing it all into a rich, cohesive, mysterious middle gray so as to sustain our astonishment.
Silence and action
Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation. ~Rumi
There is a sacred stillness at the bottom of hitting rock bottom. At our lowest point, caught between dashed expectations and gross misinterpretations, between past mistakes and an uncertain future, there is a secret voice convincing us that we can be new again.
It whispers: now is the time to be reborn. Despite the old self that got us into the mess in the first place, we are free to gather ourselves up and reunite into a more up-to-date version of who we are as an ever-evolving self.
There is a power in hitting rock bottom that we never experience in any other state: absolute freedom from certainty and expectation. When we’re able to proactively engage with this secret power, we eliminate the greatest obstacle of all: ourselves. We get out of our own way. Certainty be damned. Comfort be damned. Expectations be damned.
Our courage becomes foremost, and the crippling aspect that caused us to fall apart is replaced with a more robust aspect. So on and so forth. We fall apart, we purge expectation and certainty, and we come back together again, more resilient and flexible than we were before.
Wisdom and folly
I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am. ~Thomas Cooley
Understand: we are never completely whole. We are always never not broken. Even the new whole that comes from being reborn again is incomplete.
Even the new vision of the world that comes with having survived a dark night of the soul is unfinished.
Even the answers we’ve gotten from questioning the answers we were conditioned into believing can be questioned, ad infinitum. We are beautiful because we are imperfect.
It’s all an infinite path with sojourns that seem like stopping points but are really just resting places for those who understand that the journey is truly the thing.
This is precisely why there is such a fine line between wisdom and folly, between the genius and the fool, between sanity and confusion.
And this is also why having a good sense of humor is the pinnacle of a healthy disposition toward life, especially a life that is never not broken and caught up in the throes of being the butt-end of a (funny?) cosmic joke.
But here’s the thing: Nothing is either funny or not funny, but laughing makes it so. It is a penny-wise and pound-foolish blunder to think that anybody has it all figured out. It’s funny precisely because nobody has, or even can, figure it all out.
If, as Carl Jung said, “The soul demands your folly; not your wisdom,” then coming to terms with constantly being and becoming, with falling apart and coming back together again, while in the grip of being never not broken, is the height of folly as foolish wisdom and wisdom as sacred folly. It’s within the union of these opposites where the power of being never not broken transcends itself.