What is your capacity to be with loss, to be with grief and sadness and loneliness, to be with fear? What is your capacity to embody all aspects of the human experience, not just the ‘good’ stuff?
It’s not that we need to go looking for this stuff, court it, wallow in it, seek it out. But it will inevitably find you, one way or another. If you spend your life running from this, finding safe ground away from the mud and melee of life, when it does show up it will feel overwhelming and scary, it will feel like it could break you, even worse, it could kill you. This safe space, this gilded cage that you have created from life will be shaken to the core. Your fragility will become apparent.
Freedom is the ability to encompass and embrace it all, it’s the antifragility of life. It’s the allowance of the full expression of life to move through you unimpeded.
Root out where you are feeling fragile with life. Become aware of it and the tendency to avoid it at all cost.
The seeing of this tendency, the noticing of what it FEELS like, how the body responds will give you your clues as to where life is calling for you to meet it still. You may not feel you have the capacity to meet life in the way it wants you to, but you do. We as humans are amazing creatures, the capacity of life to be lived through us is infinitely wise. The only boundary we often have are the boundaries of the mind, the doubts, the fears, the what ifs.
Give it a try, let go, surrender into the wisdom that life is bringing to your feet, the gift it is trying to give you.
Even if only a little, open that clenched fist you have on life, and let it all come in, you’ll be surprised at the space and loving embrace that you already have available to you, to be present for it all.
- I saw an article about a popular video platform (ahem… shall remain nameless) banning “medically unsubstantiated” content today… It’s not the first thing I’ve seen in recent weeks and months on various platforms that brings into question freedom of speech and censoring of content all in the name of trying to curb “misinformation” or “fake news”. Once upon a time misinformation or fake news would have been to call the earth round rather than flat. It would have been a heresy to suggest it even but science and understanding is a constantly evolving thing, a working hypothesis rather than an ‘Absolute Truth’.Lack of freedom of speech honestly terrifies me as a proposition for society. It’s not even the thin end of the wedge… I think we’re past that analogy. I understand the imperative need to work and pull together as a collective, especially right now but not in the name of shutting down exploration, not in the name of shutting down thinking outside of the box.To try and calcify and control life’s expressions and evolution is madness. And while I do see a lot of weird and opposing views and opinions out there, even those termed as ‘truth’, I think it’s up to each of us to use our brains, do some research best we can, and ultimately follow our intuition on what works for us rather than have the whole thing taken out of our hands and centrally controlled. When did we become children who have been put on the naughty step by our ‘parents’??? Is this really how this whole thing has to go?
A Tug of WarRight now I feel we’re in a tug of war between fear and love, Ego and Primordial Being, and this is one of the ways it’s showing up.I feel the censoring of speech is always based in fear because in love there is room and freedom for it all, room for the exploration of it all. Truth, if it’s truly true will win out. To shut down exploration in favour of maintaining the safety or security of the ‘norm’ and the protection of the current popular theories or understandings of life, is the death of inquiry, the death of growth – generally and spiritually speaking.To explore our assumptions and current working truths is to kick the tires and the strength of our lived reality. When did dissenting views become such an evil thing? I feel it’s never a bad thing, and it always leads to greater and greater clarity and understanding. Yes it may feel messy and uncomfortable, yes it may look polarising and argumentative or contrarian… but this is only amplified if we hold tightly to knowingness and rightness. Even those tightly held beliefs will not hold up as the cracks of exploration begin to widen.Love and truth are the ground by which all is held. Love shines into the heart of life, bursting open any untruth. The unexplored darkest corners of existence can be lit with a single tiny light so I say… let love win out over fear. Be that light, be that love. Fear is control, fear is lack of love, fear is lack of acceptance, fear is lack of playful and vigorous exploration of life. But fear is not a drop in comparison with the power of love.It saddens me when I see this world more and more devolving into fear, into control, into lack of questioning and lack of freedom to explore. I may not agree with what your view or current working truth is, but I will go to the ends of the earth to defend your right for genuine exploration and freedom to express that. Love doesn’t control, love honours and gives room to differences.Just think of all the beautiful and amazing evolutions of understanding that occur through people stepping outside of the conventional norms and daring to discover, daring to explore and daring to follow love not fear.
“Grokking the Truth of our nature is vital for the dawning of freedom from affliction and suffering. But without love and acceptance it won’t be heard in the heart, just in the mind of knowledge and concepts. Let your heart open fully to your experience; where your heart goes your mind will follow.”
The arrogant one
The fraudulent and untruthful one
The one with complete lack of integrity
The narcissistic and the deluded one
The selfish and self-centered one
The unjust and angry one
The petulant and unreasonable one
The unkind, uncompassionate and unloving one
It is our job to make friends with all these aspects of our self and not just the aspects that are easy to love.
It is our job to find love and compassion for those parts that are hardest to accept.
To forgive ourselves for rejecting and excluding that which so desperately wants to find its place, its home too.
This is the job of work to do.
For if not now, then when? If not you, then who?
This is where life is calling out in pain and suffering.
To love that which is hardest to love, hardest to accept.
To stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, closer than close with the unloveable, unworthy, unsightly.
To meet with space, and love, and compassion those aspects that feel unmeetable.
For there is room for all in this vast space of being-ness, this constant changing play and display of life.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman… probably one of my favourite all time quotes.
Love excludes none and includes all.
Freedom excludes none and includes all.
Life excludes none and includes all.
Can you exclude none and include all?
Can you be the room for both-and not either-or?
Can you bring into the fold, into the inner sanctuary of Being the love, the tenderness and the compassion for even the sinner and tax collector in you.
For it is easy to love your friends, but what about your enemies?
Ideas many associate with Jesus’ teachings, but look beyond the voice that says it, to the meaning and the truth behind it. See what it points to.
The suffering born of separation comes from the abandonment of loving all, the abandonment of seeing yourself reflected right back at you in all of the forms and shapes of life. Be it on a individual internal scale, a familial scale or even a societal and a global scale.
The ability to not other’ize’ and alienate any aspect of life goes hand in hand with the ability to see yourself in it all.
To include and love it all.
To make peace and friends with it all.
Your humanness is a gift to be cherished
not a dirty little secret to be hidden
It is divinity in it’s expression
ALL . OF . IT .
Don’t be tempted to run from it
Embracing the fullness of your experience
reveals the fullness of love
it reveals the emptiness of your core
and reveals that there was never anything to run from
and nowhere to run to
I find it funny that the further into this journey of life I get the less and less ‘spiritual’ I become. Granted, I never self-identified as particularly spiritual, but at least outwardly I certainly was a card-carrying member of the ‘spiritual seekers brigade’. I was brought up surrounded by spiritual types, I meditated from aged 6, I went to a spiritual consciousness-based school and university. I worked for companies where every single employee was a meditator and spiritual seeker. I’ve lived in spiritual communities and Ashrams. I’ve lived like a monk, albeit a married one, but a monk nonetheless (and I still do pretty much live like one).
For a while my focus was well and truly on the abiding recognition of awareness, consciousness, the absolute, the silent awareness at the heart of all experiencing. Seeing that the kaleidoscopic arisings of the content of life was just that, an arising, a happening, a dream.
And while I find this to be true, the primordial ground of life as I know it…. but also there IS a life as we know it and that’s not to be ignored or denied, it’s to be LIVED.
So now I find myself focusing instead of on spiritual attainment or awakening (at least in the traditional sense), it’s shifted onto what it means to be human, to walk in this world, the grounded and intimate experience of life. It’s a messy and beautiful business being human, it’s not something you can do ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s full of heartbreak, disappointment, intense experiences and pain. It’s also full of joy and love, connection and so much more.
We are all fumbling around the best we can and to me the most compassionate and loving thing I can do for myself and others is to turn up for that, to walk hand in hand and support one another through life lessons.
Life isn’t a sterile experience to be witnessed. Life is a heavily felt and embodied experience. It astonishes me the capacity for each and every one of us to experience what we experience, the full-on aliveness that asserts itself in every moment. Yes we are the vessel that experiences all of this, yes we are prior to all of this, yes we are the witness to all of this. But ALL of this is US TOO!!!!!!!
There is no ‘me’ and ‘it’. There is just THIS. The full-on multifaceted, kaleidoscopic, multi-sensory experience of life. The good, the bad, the ugly, it doesn’t matter, it’s ALL OF IT. The freedom is in seeing this, knowing this, not being in denial or resistance to this.
It’s not to escape it, it’s to embrace it. It’s not to run from it, it’s to know that you ARE it. You are life. All of this is for you. All of this IS you. (And I am NOT just talking about the nice fluffy cuddly bits ;p)
Awakening to me is waking up to your nature, seeing life for what it is, the transient, ineffable life that is experienced, felt, lived. When seeing the nature of how things are you find yourself not in resistance to life, you find yourself free from the bondage of ‘should’ and instead standing in the freedom of what IS.
There isn’t a box where the lines have to be coloured inside of in-order to be ‘the most spiritual’, ‘the best human being’, ‘the most enlightened’. Freedom is to step outside of your false self-imposed gilded cage and see that there are no boundaries and rules as to what the experience of life should be. No rights and wrongs, just this, just experiencing itself.
So this, this is where I find my energy, my focus, my attention. Not by design, but because life continually asserts itself as something that is full of experiencing. So full that all that we can do is jump in feet first and buckle up for the ride, because it is a ride, we’re not in control of the steering wheel, but we’re fully along for the journey. Let go or be dragged, either way… it’s happening.
I was asked the other day how I deal with being around others, particularly when there’s a level of pretending or not speaking your truth that seems to be required of you.
I too know all too well this feeling of suffocation in the company of others. The subtle unsaid permissions of what you can say, which topics you can touch on and how deep that can go. The unsaid permissions that someone can’t give for fear of threatening their own sense of Self, views and place in the world that they hold so tightly so as to keep the facade of security and knowingness intact.
I think this is why the idea of Sanghas can be so enticing, a place to commune with others who were of like mind and place in their journey of unfoldment, of seeing. A place when you can find common ground and openness, common experience and views. Alas it’s not as easy as it sounds to find the ‘right’ sangha!
You are lucky if you can find this in a partner or in a close friend or two – this is what I have with Martyn and this is what I am eternally grateful for. Alone together and full permission and delight of me to be me and him to be him. The freedom to be as we are, the freedom to plumb the depths and go anywhere – no ‘sacred cows’ that are off-limits.
You asked how I deal with the difficulty of pretending with others. Firstly I take plenty of time to go into my aloneness, isolation and unknowingness and revel in the freedom to be. This place of ‘only don’t know’ is such a beautiful place to be. Beautiful and vulnerable. Delicate, embracing and loving but powerful and full of strength. It’s in this space that we can truly see ourselves and breath in the fullness of existence. Taking this time of solitude is incredibly important, especially for me being the hermit and introvert that I am.
But these days when I am with others I find myself laying it all out to bare, trusting in this process and letting the chips fall where they may. Standing in my truth, being open and honest and trusting. Trusting that even if I get push-back or hurt that I can handle it, that they can handle it too and the freedom to be me, the freedom for them to be them is much more important than any particular outcomes. It has meant the loosing and changing of many relationships, but it has also meant the discovery of those relationships that can withstand this vulnerable nakedness of openness and truth that I find myself standing in.
Then of course there are those relationships where masking and pretending is absolutely necessary. Practically speaking I try to minimise the amount of time spent in these types of interactions, that certainly helps. Making sure that I do have plenty of alone time and nourishing relationships where masking and pretending isn’t needed so that there is capacity for those relationships where it’s not possible. Also in those interactions to find as much openness and compassion as is available in any given moment. To not shame or blame the need to protect, defend or set unsaid boundaries, but honoring and accepting those boundaries where we find them. Understand that they are often there for a reason, even if it’s a reason I (or they) can’t see or understand.
From a broader view of this topic generally for me it was the attachments to outcomes and desires in terms of interactions and relationships that had to go. The attachment to the desire of people liking me, people seeing me, the desire to looking a certain way, to be loved or even liked. Even the attachment to the desire to connect deeply or in a certain way, to be understood and acknowledged.
The power in the lack of attachment has been enormous for me, scary but completely freeing. I have nothing to lose, I have no rights to certain outcomes of how I think things should go. I just am who I am in any moment, it’s raw and risky feeling but it’s real and honest. And so in this I’m eternally grateful for what I do have, for all that comes across my path, forget about ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
There is only so much that one can repress and suffocate themselves, the cracks begin to show. The holes start forming and things start to escape in more violent and unpredictable ways.
I encourage you to breath into the fullness of your experience, let the chips fall where they may and find those moments, those people, those spaces, those pages even, where you can freely be YOU.
Life is such and unbelievable gift, how often do you stop and smell the roses? Appreciate the little simple ordinary moments? Without reference to the past or thoughts to the future.
We miss the beauty of the moment so easily. Ordinary life has become so throwaway, so undesirable. Instead marked with the next glamorous instagram shot, the next big ‘experience’, the next enviable goal. Next next next. We miss the sheer joy of this extraordinary, but divinely ordinary moment.
Whether that moment be filled with anger, joy, sadness or bliss it doesn’t matter. Just the fact we are alive, that we bear witness to all of this. Oh the magnificence that
This morning I came across a beautifully articulated post on Facebook by Unmani (one of many I might add). She recently unexpectedly lost her husband and has been sharing openly her journey/processing throughout this difficult time – it’s beautiful, raw and brave and I see that this is very much what she is being called to do, for the benefit of herself and for all those who read what she writes.
In yesterday’s online open meeting someone asked me a very interesting question that I feel has been coming up for many people around my recent sharing on Facebook.
What is true spiritual attainment if a so-called spiritual person can be so human? Usually being or attaining a spiritual state is assumed to mean that you rise above the ordinary human emotions, sensations, thoughts etc. Here I am, as a so-called spiritual teacher, revealing that actually I am very human and have a wide range of human experiences that many people can relate to. If you have put me, or any spiritual teacher, up on any kind of pedestal as being the ideal to aim for, then you will most likely be disappointed by my down-to-earth humanity. I am just like you.
Perhaps you have come to the spiritual search to overcome the discomfort of this human experience. And at first when you wake up to your true nature as the Awareness of it all, then it seems that you do rise above the whole of experience. But don’t build a comfortable nest and get stuck there. Yes your/my true identity is Awareness, but this is only one side of the coin. There is no safety in knowing your true identity. If anything it strips away all the safety that you previously believed in. It allows you the freedom to lose yourself into the human experience, knowing that you are never limited to that. You are always the Awareness of the human, but you are also the human that lives, experiences, feels, and explores this life experience.
True spirituality is living this paradox.
I find this to be a common idea that she’s addressing here, something that I myself very much bought into for years – that ‘spiritual attainment’ somehow means you ‘rise above it all’. In reality it’s a much more intimate and raw experience, one that precludes nothing. It brings into light the full experience of humanness, those shadows, those once hidden aspects. It’s a constant unfoldment, movement and changing of life’s experience. Not always pleasant but honest and true. All the while, all this experienced in the ineffable and un-bounded ocean of silent open-awareness itself. Not separate from at all…….in the dirt, in the mix, having fun!
Awakening or freedom/liberation/Moksha is a waking up and freedom from the constrained ideas and ideals of shoulds and should nots. It’s the recognition and abiding realisation that you are not the body-mind that is limited to these concepts, that you are the Awareness, Beingness, Isness that is experiencing this, but is not limited or bound by this. That you are big enough, to contain the multitudes of human experiencing, that you cannot be overwhelmed and taken over by this, but that you ARE this, but not ONLY this.
Suffering comes when there’s a denial of this, that you ‘should’ feel a certain way that you ‘should’ rise above and only experience all the ‘good stuff’, the higher vibrations, the positive outcomes, peace, love & bliss (only) and not the dirty, messy, human frailties. Not the anger and hurt, not the loneliness and uncertainty.
Life is vibrant and muddy and messy and beautiful. Life is changeable and spontaneous and unpredictable. Life contains EVERYTHING from purest silent awareness of nothingness to loud crazy chaotic experiencing. You ARE that life, don’t be tempted to diminish and limit the infinitude of this experience, it is after all what it means to be an embodied human being.
I don’t require you to be anyone
to turn up
to be someone
Here in this space
I have no use for concepts and opinions
assertions and knowledge
here in this space we can just BE
Be as we are
naked and vulnerable
strong and fiery
broken and lost
angry or sad
joy-filled and blissful
or nothing at all
Here in this space we can explore the depth of humanity
traverse the fields of experiencing
sit in this divine Isness of life
but most of all be free
free to be
free to be without attributes
free to be whatever and whoever we are
free to sink into this moment
“As long as you want life on your terms there will be something to gain or lose; the opposite of freedom.”
“There’s nothing more beautiful, intimate and vulnerable than another person saying “I see you, all of you.” Be see-through, be transparent, embrace that vulnerability, dare to look in the mirror that they hold up to you and share yourself with open abandon; with great risk comes greater rewards – freedom.”
“Stripped of all your beliefs & assumptions the beauty of raw truth shines through and there you stand, free.”
Life has become about living; living not in past regrets or future worries but life lived in this moment… None of the second guessing, the questioning, the “is the right thing?”, or shoulds and should nots. The age old – before awakening, chop-wood-carry-water and after awakening, chop-wood-carry-water is so so true it’s laughable. Being a seeker you imagine some different ‘state’ where everything will be beautiful and blissful – life will be perfect. Well… life is perfect, but not in that way, perfect in that it IS. It’s happening exactly as it is, nothing to do, nothing to change, nothing to be; even in amongst every imaginable phenomenal occurrence. That’s where the miracle of life is to be found, in the very ordinariness of existence.
You are, and always have been exactly what you seek. You are the freedom that was/is always here, it’s only a matter of seeing through the trees of ‘personhood’ to see that the ‘person’ that you take yourself to be is such an incredibly limited and narrow view of you. We take ourselves to be the body; the body that has changed, morphed and grown since birth, the body that will die. We take ourselves to be thoughts; the thoughts that tell us one thing today and something completely different tomorrow. We take ourselves to be the emotions and energies – sometimes blissful, sometimes not. You get my point…. In all of these we are, but we are more than this, we are prior to this, we are the one that sees all of this. We put so much emphasis and importance on everything that can be perceived, everything that can be experienced, yet we put almost no attention on who is perceiving and experiencing life. What is the nature of this one, what are the quality & attributes of this one, how can this one be described.
That One never goes, never changes – that one is YOU!
“Liberation isn’t a spiritual prozac against feeling; it’s the opposite – pure openness to everything that arises, the good, bad & the ugly.”
The utter humanness of existence cradles in it every possible emotion, sensation, feeling & thought. We can’t run from that, we can’t hide from that, we can’t avoid or resist that, and nor should we want to.
It’s our human experiencing that reveals the ever-changing world of perception that we live in – our ‘world’ is constantly being born and reborn in every moment. Embrace this change, embrace it as the play and display of awareness-consciousness (you). This play is set on the stage of pure open, unconditioned and ineffable awareness-consciousness.
I had a recent conversation that brought into focus how important it is for someone who overthinks to get out of their head, and allow whatever feeling or sensation that occurs to arise and to just feel it. Don’t analyse it, don’t name it, don’t judge it – just feel it.
The very act of focusing in on the thought to try and ‘figure it out’ tends to perpetuate the suffering that’s being felt. What is being ‘felt’ is literally a feeling or energetic sensation arising within you that is being interpreted by the mind.