Integration or the Tolerance of Incompleteness

I am in conversation with Massimo Shinco, a fellow Board member of the International Assn. for the Study of Dreams, about presenting together at the Berkeley conference in June. Our ideas have followed a similar evolution, leading us both to acknowledge the futility of such concepts as enlightenment or even integration. In the west, we tend to project ourselves into some ideal final state, and then to imagine that life and dreams are pushing us toward those end points. However, they never seem to arrive, do they? Our notions of success of the ordinary kind (money, status, the right person) are all end-state fantasies, as well. This yearning for completeness may rob us of the rich discovery process that is always unfolding. Of course, we can endeavor to follow our highest ideals in all we do, but that should not obscure the existential fact that we somehow never arrive, except perhaps in our final breath in which we might, as Steve Jobs did, simply exclaim "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!" In light of this, what does life offer? Where is the dream "going?" Perhaps toward a place within the soul where the unfolding process is enough, where the journey is everything as the Zen Buddhists say, or where samsara actually does become nirvana. Perhaps the journey is all we ever have, not just a focus to distract us from a there-and-then more desirable end point, but a way of coming into a radical acceptance of our incompleteness as sufficient. What does the surrender of enlightenment give us? Relationships with others and ourselves that are no longer compared with something we will never experience, anyway, in this life. Of course, some of us leverage the process to include some final state called heaven. But that, we know, is an article of faith. If you need that, then so be it. But I would rather find peace with the people and situations that are in my immediate field of attention. By acknowledging my inevitable incompleteness, life effloresces, and lead turns to gold because I give it everything, because it has become everything. If am wrong, I will find out, but in the mean time, the present will not suffer my premature loss.

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