Fiend or Friend
“Work. Hard work. First day in the cold-gray morning the weather is stating change with wind and snow flurries throughout the early hours. In the afternoon, the sun breaks through revealing violet patches of snow on the upper hills across the valley.
In the Methow valley and I’m building a fence next to a fence. Even when my work turns to wood, stone is ever-present. Posts must be set to begin a fence and I’m digging in an ancient riverbed. Rocks, stones of granite, basalt and others I don’t know are packed-in tightly amongst the lighter-than-air soil. I’m using only a 20 lbs. pry bar and a shovel (couldn’t afford a post-hole digger) and wondering what it was I had done in previous lives to incur such debt. Digging 2ft. x 1ft. holes that yield stones half that size and larger in diameter. Pick, pick, pick and loosen dirt, bend down scoop out the loose stuff by hand. Chink, metal against stone. A large stone, pry, pick, dig, pop it out, pull it out – move on; on my knees dozens of times per hole cursing rocks, noticing the ache in my belly as I go.
According to my spiritual mentor there has been a blockage in my midsection for some lifetimes. In these past two years, I’ve labeled it as a big stone right there in my gut if I felt depressed, conflicted or downright heavy. Apparently, all I needed to do is befriend the fiend. The formation of fiend is parallel to friend, and in OE is a cognate with the old Frisian fiand enemy. In old, high German fien, and old Icelandic fja both translate to hate. In many spiritual traditions, to confront fear face to face, dissipates fear. This reminds me of a dream I had not too long ago…. The dream opened with me on my back staring into a very bright light; very much like a bright, overcast day but two times more intense. Suddenly, a horrible deeply-lined face with red rimmed eyes and a craggy, smelly mouth surrounded by greasy, stringy hair was thrust into my view. At first, I was startled, in the next instant I realized that it was fear that breathed its hot plan in my face. Next, I gathered my will, stared the grisly image in the eyes and swallowed it whole!
To finally stare through the eye of the enemy cures the need to fight the enemy because then the unknown, fear/enemy, is realized as one’s self and then we move one step closer to self-integration. When we eat the demons, we complete a journey, a circle, a closed cycle of development – like the image of Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail – that leads to a higher state of spiritual growth. Or, in Buddhist language, “when you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.” And as my adviser told me eventually, I met the entity and it wasn’t stone as I had envisioned. The stone is my friend keeping me here and now – anchored. The true enemy was my own mind!”