Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
September 14, 2010 (#31)
Student: Is chaos empty?
Michael: Like all things, chaos is empty at its core. With this in mind I’d also say that chaos’ fullness is experienced as emptiness.
Student: Only if you’re open to it, right? Otherwise it’s overwhelming and it feels like suffering.
Michael: Chaos doesn’t feel like suffering. Instead our clinging to order in the face of chaos is what generates the feeling of suffering. When we are closed to any offering we suffer.
Student: So to awaken, we have to be open to chaos?
Michael: We have to be open to everything. This doesn’t mean that we have to like everything. But it does mean that our practice along the path needs to be centered around acceptance of what is. From here we act consciously from this place of acceptance. This is the work.
Student: But egos aren’t open to this.
Michael: No. Not until they’ve been tenderized enough to absorb this kind of teaching. Egos need to get really war-weary before they can surrender to the point where the path can be seen, let alone followed. Once this happens though, the hardened structure of the ego begins to soften. And at some point there is a recognition that what is prior to the ego is the very emptiness that chaos always offers.