The Unlived Life.

The idea of karma has appealed to me at different times of my life, times when I’ve believed myself wronged by others or by life and needed to believe those who hurt me would one day be hurt by someone else, or that I had done something in another life to justify the pain of this one.

But I think I had karma all wrong. Karma is not really about external events. Karma is what we do with those events, how we process experiences within ourselves.

The Buddhist tradition says the unconscious is the body. If that’s true then I can’t help but think that every cell must be a moment of the life unlived or abandoned for something more acceptable, more do-able. And each moment is a half-thought, a dream relinquished to practicality, an idea unexplored. The body then becomes a fleshy collection of unwanted experience that challenges our sense of self.

Spiritual teacher and author Reginald Ray asks, “What happens to all that denied and rejected experience that we are holding in our bodies? It abides in a no man’s land in our tissues, our muscles, our ligaments and tendons, our blood, our bones.”

It abides in our blood and in our bones. I can’t get that out of my head. When he talks about denied and rejected experience, I interpret that to mean unexpressed and unacknowledged emotions. Emotions are messy and sometimes entirely unclear commentaries on our lives ... think of every time you’ve caught yourself thinking some shitty thought about someone else, every time you’ve felt your own ugliness, any time you’ve found yourself enjoying something you previously thought was beneath you. These thoughts are rooted in emotion, or themselves stir up other emotions – it’s no wonder we don’t want to drag them out into the light where just anyone can see them.

When asked how one might exhaust karma, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche answered,” When things come up in your life, you feel them completely and fully and you don’t hold back. You live them right through until they have completed themselves.”

I have finished holding back. I feel each moment completely, to the point that I think surely my chest will split down the center, whether from heart break or intense happiness depending on which minute we’re talking about, and a white light will beam out across the valley where I make my home. This light is fueled by darkness, by the energy generated as things complete themselves.

 There is no more unlived life.

“What you see in the daylight is what you want to see. What you see with the lights off is what wants to be seen.” -- Reggie Ray
What I see with the lights off is my unlived life, my karma, my unconscious, my body. And I’m inviting you, whoever you are, to step into the darkness with me, to forego tidiness and practicality in the name of raw experience. We can hold hands and dare the universe to show us what wants to be seen.


  1. I love this Christie! This feels like a new mantra for me "to forego tidiness and practicality in the name of raw experience"
    Thanks for sharing!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts