August 20 – Holding in the Belly – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“The inward battle—against our mind, our wounds,and the residues of the past—is more terrible than outward battle.” Swami Sivananda

I saw a sea otter rolling in the bay. It held a crab or small turtle against its belly, and on its back, it would eat a piece, then press the crab or turtle to its belly and turn over and swim some more.

This stayed with me for days untilI realized that I have been living like this otter; holding the uneaten part of my shell to my belly as I roll through the deep, and,of course, it is impossible to swim freely while holding dead shelled things so tightly.

Indeed, trying to move on and eat the past at the same timeis the cause of many ulcers. Realizing this made me stop and face the sadness of old wounds that I was holding tightly in my belly.

It made me understand, yet again, that while we try to integrate inner and outer  experience, while we aspire to such a oneness, the work is often one at a time: facing ourselves without going anywhere, not nibbling at the ailing soul on the run.

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