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.
A video excerpt from the June 14th Sunday Zoom Group.
The questions that were asked were:
Are you always good with what life asks from you?
Do you still like the change or development?
Details of the Sunday Zoom Groups and other events can be found on the ‘events’ page.
The YouTube link to this video: https://youtu.be/tg6saIOIzTo
Transcript of Excerpt
I’m always sort of advocating and saying how important I feel acceptance is in life. That acceptance of what is. But what does that look like practically speaking, when life is sometimes asking something of you, as it invariably does. Asks you to drop something that’s not working anymore. Or step up to something that quite clearly your life is moving in that direction. And then you get things like resistance coming in and you get the mind kind of analyzing and going, “should I do this? Should I do that?” But this is the way life is moving and so that question sort of sparked this feeling of you know, it’s very well and good saying you should accept whatever is coming up in your life. But does that mean that you don’t have resistance? That you don’t have doubt? That you don’t have a sense of, “I don’t want this.” Does it mean I have those things?
You know, people assume that awakening means you don’t. You don’t deal with these issues anymore, you don’t question life. You just have this deep acceptance. And yes, while that is very true, it doesn’t mean on a practical relative surface level, that you don’t come up against those things. That I don’t come up against those things, I do. I do struggle with life sometimes where I see the inevitability of something, and yet there’s something still in me that is like, “boy, this feels uncomfortable.” Or, “I didn’t imagine this for myself.” And then there’s a sense of maybe grief that comes up, or sense of resistance or struggle with that. Now, it’s all held in this bigger space of acceptance. Even the resistance, even the doubt, even the railing against life. Is still all held in that love, in that acceptance, in that compassion for life. But yeah, do I still struggle with these things? Of course.
Sometimes life is asking something of you that feels too much. That feels like the small human brain can’t comprehend where this step leads to the next step to leads to the next step. And all it can see is this doesn’t make sense. In all this it feels… it’s not just about the mind, it’s about the body, is the body ready?
So yeah, I very much do. And I think people assume that if they’re… and this is why I’m bringing this up, because they assume that if they’re going through a struggle, that they’re the only ones that possibly could be going through that. And if they’re going through that struggle or they’re going through that resistance or whatever it is, that they’re going through, that makes them “unenlightened”, that makes them, “not conscious” and not doing the work and all of these sort of ideas and these projections that if I’m experiencing this, it means… it could even go as far as to say it means I’m a lost cause. I’ve had people come to me and say “I’m a lost cause because I experienced this” and, and I say “No, see that there’s a bigger acceptance in this picture. See that there’s a bigger place of compassion and acceptance and love that has room for even all of this stuff, this very sort of human experiences. To not assume that you’ve somehow got to wipe the slate clean in order to recognize your own nature. All of this stuff happens within that.”
As for the second part of the question, Do I still like change or development? Like?! Oi!
Again, it’s both. Do I like it? Sometimes it’s not comfortable. So no, in those moments sometimes I really don’t. But there’s a bigger picture. And this is where I say both, and because there’s always a bigger picture. Yes, there’s acceptance and there’s acknowledgement of those individual fluctuations in life, let’s call them. Change is inevitable. You can’t escape change. Does it stop with awakening? No, not at all. I used to think it would actually. I had this grand vision that, you know, awakening would be like, “that’s it, we’re done.” And I actually found the opposite.
Change and growth are inevitable and actually the brakes come off because the strategy to avoid that change, it dissolves, it disintegrates, it doesn’t hold up. But it doesn’t mean I’m always totally on board with it. On a deeper level, absolutely. But on the surface level, does frustration come up? Yeah. Because life asks of us sometimes things which feel impossible. Asks us to let go of something which feels very dear to us. Our sense of who we are. Our image of ourselves. The sense that we’re in control. Many things, there’s many things.
So even if those things are coming up in you, or any number of other things are coming up in you, it’s okay. Can you even accept that? Can you fold even those things into that level of acceptance and that recognition of life being as life is. To not have expectations of life is a really difficult one. To be in life, with life, in communion with life rather than having ideas of what life should or shouldn’t be.
We’re not in control of what life calls of us. Even this idea of you can avoid something. Life has sort of got an inevitability about it. It’s in the mail. Even if we think we’re successfully shoving something under the carpet there’s an inevitability about it. That at some point life will cycle background and ask that of us. To see that. To integrate that. To accept that.
Make friends with that aspect of yourself that you are rejecting or avoiding, those aspects that you judge or deem unsavoury.
That which we reject are often those aspects that require the most love, the most compassion, the most kindness, the most attention in-order that they be integrated into the wholeness of our Being. Those gnarly, messy, ‘bad’ rejected bits of ourselves are often being called to be transmuted into acceptance and love.
For love is the greatest power in the universe. Love has the power to move beyond all seeming boundaries and inhabit every aspect of life. Love has the power to transcend any sense of separation or ‘other-isation’. Love has the power to encompass it all.
So fall in love with all of yourself, all of life, and you will see that that love is eternal and ever-present even in amongst the mess.
This life is sacred.
This body is sacred.
This mind is sacred.
These emotions and these thoughts are sacred.
This fear and this grief is sacred.
This existence is sacred.
All of life’s existence and expression is that of consciousness.
Awareness-consciousness makes no distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary,
no distinction between the humanness and the divine.
For all is the playground of existence.
All is the sacred emanations of life.
All held in the embrace of awareness.
Do not presume to know better.
Do not presume that your minds judgment of what is holy and what is not
means anything in the eyes of consciousness.
For even the messy, fearful and supremely human expressions of consciousness
are sacred and beautiful moments dancing in the light of awareness.
Even the protestations of right and wrong,
the valuing and the rejecting of this or that,
even these too are sacred expressions to be experienced and tasted fully.
Can you include it all?
Because how is it possible to not?
Can you really truly reject anything if even that rejection is included too?
That which turns up as us and in us is there through Grace,
it’s there as the wisdom messenger of life,
it’s there as the sacred actor on the stage of life.
So don’t cast aside any aspect of your experience so quickly.
Don’t belittle and shame your sacred humanness.
Let life dance in you and as you in it’s holy uncensored way,
beyond the logic, beyond the reason, beyond limits and conditions, beyond it all
– just as it is.
I came across this great post by Scott Kiloby this morning on Facebook , it’s long but worth the read… (probably before you read my comments on it)
End the Neo-Advaita LieBy Scott KilobyFrom the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering…
[I’ll post the full article at the bottom of this page if you don’t want to hyperlink out to it.]
I agree with Scott here in that awakening is not the end. For me it was the beginning of meeting myself, maybe for the first time, and seeing where there were traumas and conditioning to be met, worked on and integrated. It’s a continuing process for me, one that I believe wouldn’t be fully possible without awakening (for me at least) as there were far too many egoic structures in place to prevent the ability to go where was needed to go. With awakening there was openness and space for it all.
The statement “there’s nothing to do and no-one to do do it” for me has truth to it on one level, but where the rubber hits the road on this human embodied level of existence it doesn’t account for the felt experience of living. And what really matters for our daily life is how we experience it, how we suffer it, how we love it, how we LIVE it.
Yes, there’s no one to do it, but yet doing happens. Yes there’s nothing to do, it’s all unfolding perfectly as it needs to… But that INCLUDES the work of healing and growing and integrating ALL aspects of this human experience.
Putting my neck on the line here… My perspective is that awakening is half baked unless the humanness is fully brought back INTO the awakened recognition of the underlying unity of this all appearing in awareness. To deny our humanity is to create separation and confusion where there really needn’t be.
Its BOTH-AND not EITHER-OR… and our ‘job’ on an individual level post-awakening is the job of clean up. The cleanup of what it means to live and breathe and relate in this world WITH the recognition of the underlying truth of our nature as that of awareness/consciousness. It’s a naturally occurring process if you let your heart stay open to all possibilities and make no attempt at pinning ‘wrongness’ to whatever needs to show up because is not ‘spiritual’ or ‘enlightened’ enough!
There’s a tendency to negate life with the ‘neo-advaitins’ (yes that’s a massive generalisation of course, no offense intended) to go towards the nihilistic and denial of the human experience in favour of tropes that can quite frankly be even more damaging such as “Who is experiencing depression? It’s just a thought appearing, it’s not real”. There’s a coldness, a non-compassionate side to it that leaves someone feeling hopeless and lost, or even gaslit. Because if not done very skilfully can be taken by a seeker as a denial or a wrongness for their felt experience, like they need to ignore or get rid of that experience of depression because it’s not real and it’s certainly not enlightened.
Humanness is relegated to the realms of ‘you’re identified’ putting it straight into shadow and wrongness. I would go as far as to say creating an idea of separation (the opposite of the nondual recognition) because it suggests that this experience isn’t ‘it’, that you aren’t ‘enlightened’ if you are experiencing life in this X,Y & Z way. But even the so called dream is a living, breathing, fully immersive experience IN and AS consciousness and that can’t be just denied away. It’s felt, it’s experienced, it can’t be separated from consciousness because it IS consciousness TOO.
The full colour experience of consciousness expressing itself as this human body-mind. It’s all the be met, it’s all to be experienced and it’s all to be accepted into the heart of life.
Anyway… just my 2 cents tapped out with my thumb on my phone first thing in the morning ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Scott Kiloby’s Facebook post 7th February 2020:
End the Neo-Advaita Lie
By Scott Kiloby
From the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering while sitting under a Bodhi tree (as well as other experiences by sages that resulted in the same dissolution), man has become fascinated with the prospect that this kind of deep awakening is possible and that it may even be our our birthright – our natural state when the false ego is seen through. Buddha’s realization was that there is no self and that, since all suffering comes from the belief in being a separate self, when that self is seen as illusion, suffering ends.
The awakenings of the great saints and sages throughout history have confirmed again and again that what happened to Buddha is not connected to Buddha himself. It is an awakening available to anyone who shifts their perception from believing that their thoughts are true and that there is a self to seeing through the illusion of thinking and no longer being able to find a self. In this discovery, profound peace, freedom, love and even bliss can show up. No wonder people are chasing this elusive phenomenon called “enlightenment.”
Although Buddhism and other traditions began to write about the subject, the texts of the older traditions are sometimes hard to translate to the modern world. Plus many of the texts were written after Buddha died, leaving lots of room for mistranslation, just as when Jesus died and others began to translate his experience even though they didn’t experience it directly. Second hand knowledge is not only ineffective. It can also be highly misleading. And a lot gets missed in the translation of these older texts, which can frustrate current day practitioners seeking enlightenment. Plus the language that explains the practices in these older traditions is sometimes hard to understand or translate, leaving the seeker with little specific guidance about how to realize this profound state of consciousness. To make matters worse, many traditions become too bogged down in describing this state rather than giving any clear instructions on how to wake up. That’s like describing a lemon in books for hundreds of years, when what would be more potent is to let people actually taste and explore a lemon firsthand, leaving no room for second hand knowledge.
But the psychology of humans sometimes carries with it a need for dependency on the teacher and the teacher’s writings because they do not trust their own experience in the way I imagine Buddha did.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, a movement called Neo-Advaita was born. It’s promise – very seductive indeed – is that no practice is needed. “You are already free because there is no self,” as if pronouncing pithy one-liners like that automatically brings about the experience of freedom. They are referring to a sudden experience that comes out of the blue and “wakes you up out of ego.” It’s a lot like going to a meeting to listen to a teacher hoping to catch a cold accidentally. I find Neo-Advaita teachings to be first grade level fairy tales. Even those who have had such sudden awakenings by listening to Neo-Advaita teachings, many of them continue to struggle afterwards because they haven’t studied history and tradition. They lack context around awakening. They lack the understanding that trauma and certain core conditioning often sticks around even after a sudden awakening. What’s more troubling is that they often ignore this conditioning that is left, eager to pronounce to themselves, others and to the world (sometimes) that they are awakened.
I also noticed an interesting set of phenomena showing up in people after watching the Neo-Advaita movement:
1. Even if someone has a sudden realization while listening to an Neo-Advaita teacher, that teacher cannot help the student past that point. Why? Because there is a prevailing belief among Neo-Advaita teachers that once you experience that initial “pop” into awakening, into seeing no self, all your suffering and troubles are over. “You’re now liberated and so you can give up the search,” so the story goes. We now know through western research on trauma and years and years of anecdotal evidence that the “sudden pop experience where one expects never to suffer again” is mostly a myth. The more common experience among people is that sudden experiences can happen, bringing a profound shift in perception BUT that’s not the end of it. Within just a few years of that sudden pop, any unresolved traumas, deficiency stories or other deeply embedded conditioning can begin to surface for many people. And unless that person turns away from the infantile rhetoric of Neo-Advaita at that point, that person will suffer, albeit quietly sometimes, and flat out refuse to do any more work on him or herself. He has been conditioned by the Neo-Advaita rhetoric to ignore all the stuff that is still coming up, making him feel not-so-liberated at times. And there is no place in the Neo-Advaita atmosphere to even bring up these post-awakening issues. If you bring it up, you can expect to be shot down and hear more of the same rhetoric – “there’s no self.” But just saying there is no self is not enough. If someone has an awakening experience, “selfing” still happens, albeit much less. That’s what I’ve learned from doing thousands and thousands of one on one sessions. I’ve learned that Neo-Advaita is misleading people and that people truly aren’t waking up out of the deeper strands of conditioning. When people stay asleep to these deeper strands, that is bypassing. So they have no business claiming “full liberation” for that would be a lie. But these people can’t be blamed because they learned this misguided information from teachers they thought they could trust but whose own half-baked realization keeps them sticking to a party line that is outdated – namely that in one fell swoop, all self-referencing or self-identification vanishes immediately. I can assure you that this normally doesn’t happen. It’s the stuff of fairy tales told within cultures that long for a one time fix that will solve everything. Awakening doesn’t work that way. The teachers you see claiming that all suffering has ended for them are lying. Trust me. I’ve worked with them, spent time with them and have done inquiry with them. The lies have to stop because nondual teachings are coming close to becoming a scam (if they aren’t already).
After all, it takes courage to come out and say, “Hey I thought I was liberated but there is more ego stuff in me, I’m not done.” Nobody really wants to own that because it opens up the prospect of more years of work to undo what has been left behind in terms of ego conditioning. Bottom line: there are a bunch of half awake Neo-Advaita people (teachers and non-teachers) continuing to spread this misinformation about Neo-Advaita as some sort of magic pill. They are diluting the message of freedom, serving up a plate that is half empty and fooling practitioners that the plate is full, that they are fully liberated. And so the lies continue . . . .
2. Even if someone has a sudden shift through contact with a Neo-Advaita teacher and the shift feels complete, a huge misunderstanding can happen after that. The misunderstanding is that ”just like me, everyone can wake up suddenly and be free of all suffering at once.” Again, tons of anecdotal evidence shows us that this is a rare phenomenon. No one wakes up just like everyone else. Everyone’s experience is different. So if someone has had this sudden shift, they may feel pulled to go out and share a false promise such as “There are no practices needed, you can just wake up fully by attending this or that teachers meetings.” Most of the time, when other people do attend those meetings, the sudden shift doesn’t happen, and they eventually learn that they have to work out some very real human issues before they can truly live in a liberated state. This is bad news for people who were looking for that one time experience that ends all suffering at once. And the misleading came directly from the Neo-Advaita teacher who was also misled by his Neo-Advaita teacher.
For 15 years, I have been translating what the older traditions are really saying (the traditions that started way before Neo-Advaita) and also testing it out in my own experience and with the people I work with. I found that when you peel away the old language from Buddhism and translate it into a simpler language and then help people begin to explore their own experience more skillfully from awareness, waking up happens in a healthier way. These older traditions have a lot to teach us about how to be truly free. But these older teachings are often ignored because the promise of Neo-Advaita is such a seductive sales pitch that it wins over people very easily, but then eventually “fucks them up” once they realize after the awakening that the promise of Neo-Advaita was and is empty.
Helping people work through the human issues either before or after an awakening experience ends with a healthier and more balanced freedom. You don’t need to trust what I’m saying here. Just go hang out at some Neo-Advaita meetings. They can sometimes have the feel of a show being put on by a snake oil salesman. Something feels off if you have done any real work on yourself and your traumas or if you understand that trauma work is necessary for most people. Without work on trauma, a person can walk around all day claiming to be liberated while secretly suffering because they choose not to inquire into that suffering. After all, they were told that the sudden experience is the end of the road and there’s nothing left to do. Nothing left to do? We now know that everyone is traumatized to some degree due to solid western research. Walking around claiming liberation while you have unresolved traumas is like walking around dressed as Santa Claus. Everyone knows you’re pretending, especially those close to you who have to endure the brunt of your unresolved emotional baggage that you claim doesn’t matter because “there is no self.”
In all that I write and share I only ever want to invite you to explore, discover and ultimately accept the entirety of your experience. To standing in YOUR truth, YOUR self… not mine and not anyone else’s. To encourage and support you to see more and more of the beauty of your expression, even when that expression isn’t how you thought it ‘should’ be.. to accept even that too!
It’s never been about knowing or being anything. It’s never been about gaining or loosing anything. It’s never even been about changing or fixing anything. It’s never been about being more than or less than. It’s simply about coming to see all that you ARE. It’s an accepting, it’s a recognition, it’s the very act of living and being ALL that you ARE. Taking the binds of limitations off and taking a full breath of life.
It’s about walking through life step by step, moment by moment, learning to love all aspects of it. Learning to love even the hate, or the fear, or the shame, or the frustration; even the sadness, or wrongness and definitely the messiness too. Learning to see it’s all there as part and parcel of life. No separate boxes for good and boxes for bad.
Don’t judge any of it. Judgement puts a box on life where there is none. Judgement says this not that. Judgement assumes a knowing… but if we’re completely honest, we’re all clueless to the beautiful mystery of life. If there’s any sort of knowing, it’s a knowing that this life, this beautiful crazy messy life is far too incompressible, far too mystical to rely on any kind of knowing as ‘the truth’.
Life can’t be grasped, life can’t be contained, life can’t be worked out. Life is to be enjoyed and experienced, not to be figured out. You can try, but even that’s just a part of the play too. The dog chasing its own tail.
A multifaceted, multi-sensory experience playing out in its full range of diversity, all part of the dream… All of it arising in and as consciousness. A beautiful, beautiful display of life. A light show of this very moment.
Every cell of my being delights in the exploration and aliveness of living, exploring and playing with this so called life. No expression limited, no expression judged, just one big playful dance with the infinite expressions of life. And for that… for that I am so eternally flawed by life’s ineffable beauty and grace.
To me it’s all an endless expression of love and creativity of life. Expression just for expressions sake. I don’t see any boundaries or limits to what that expression can be, what it wants or needs to be. And in this expression, this expression right now, life seems to want to shout its love from the rooftops.
So what’s left in my heart when all other false boundaries, conditionings and beliefs are left behind, thrown out and dropped, is love. Love and gratitude for all of life. Faith that whatever is playing out for each and every embodied human expression is exactly perfectly as it ‘should’ be.
It’s those moments where we are hardest on ourselves that actually call for the most kindness, for the most understanding, most forgiveness, the most self love. But sometimes that feels like an impossibility, the moment feels too heavy, too overwhelming to bring kindness into the equation. It feels like too much of a leap and too far to go.
In those moments where self love and compassion can’t be found maybe it’s possible to look instead to the ways in which we’re being unkind and too hard on ourselves and loosen the grip just a little, for just a moment. Let some space, some breathing room into the moment. Take a momentary pause and feel the relief and space and peace that that brings.
Sometimes it’s not a case of completely flipping the script, sometimes it’s just the case of simply finding the tiniest of cracks to what is already there. Those cracks can be found anywhere and are waiting and willing to be found. Sometimes the kindest thing that can be managed is to find that single crack in life to take a momentary respite.
There’s a tendency to avoid dealing with the subject of mental health in some spiritual traditions and teachings. To poo poo inner work and growth, to try to meditate away ‘negative’ emotions, reactions, thought patterns and conditioning. But spirituality and spiritual awakening is not a panacea, it is many things and in some ways a lot of the “problems” of the mind do in fact disappear. But in some ways post awakening the work and cleanup becomes intensified and it can become even more important to address and give attention to anything that’s still arising. This can be when some of the true work begins, because the strategies that have stopped you from looking beneath the covers of the mind dissolve.
It is the embracing not the running away that allows one to look at where the stored traumas, memories, reactions, conditioning and energetic imprints are having an impact on the current moment, your current experience of life. So in some ways it’s only then that you can truly move through and on from the issues or patterns that may have plagued your life.
We all know someone, or maybe ourselves that have experienced mental health issues, and yet it’s still so hard for society as a whole to acknowledge, embrace and talk about. Why do you think we even need to have a ‘World Mental Health Day’. We’re too quick to try and fix, instead of taking the cues that are being shown. Those cue want to be heard, want to be seen. Not fixed or forgotten about, or covered up, or shoved under the carpet; but instead seen and heard and embraced like a small child looking for love.
There is no manual about how to live life. It’s difficult and there are no singular right or wrong answers that apply to all. But especially when we pay too much attention to what those around us, and society are saying about how we should feel and act and be in life. Often the first thing to go when we try and fit into something that we feel we should be fitting into, is our sense of internal well-being and peace.
The term mental health is a catchall for many experiences and often comes measured against a theoretical blueprint about what it is to be ‘normal’. This is massively problematic, particularly as from everything I can gather, there is no normal. And beyond that… often these things that we fear are ‘abnormal’ about ourselves are actually experiences that our friend, our neighbour, our family member, the stranger on the bus are also feeling and experiencing too.
The mental suffering comes in when we falsely accept that our experience is wrong – that we ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing x, y & z. I’ve often said to people that I encounter along the road of life who tell me that what they are experiencing is wrong or broken, that what if they were an alien who had just arrived on Earth and were told x, y & z is completely correct to feel, what then? What would their relationship to x, y & z be? Would they think it wrong? No.
So it’s often our relationship to how we perceive what we’re experiencing that causes it to be wrong or right, to suffer it or not. What if we were taught happy is bad, sad is good? It’s our labelling of experiences that determines their value and therefore where we derive our sense of value in life. What if we were to drop these labels and sit in the pocket with our experiences. To not run away from the ‘bad’ and towards the ‘good. But to feel all.
I feel this is true mental health. To attend to all that’s arising with awareness and compassion, without labels and judgements of right or wrong.
Mental health assumes there is a good health and a bad health. It measures this good and bad against the idea (or ideal) of normal. But show me normal, find me who it looks like? We have to face facts, there is no one-size fits all. There is no ‘normal’, just life playing out as it does with all its colour and variety, shapes and sizes, all its seeming paradoxes and diversities.
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 & reveals that there was never anything to run from and nowhere to run to.
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
One of the biggest helps for me to move beyond my conditioned responses and traumas and to heal and integrate them has been learning how to cope with strong and intense emotions – which for the record I was pretty fantastic at avoiding for most of my life!
I would say that when all the strategies for avoiding no longer worked the only way to turn was through and into them. It was a case of let go or be dragged but turning into them was definitely the last thing I would have originally thought would be of help, go figure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For me this was learning to hold emotions and energetic arisings like you would a small child in a loving embrace, to pull them closer and say, “It’s okay you can be here. I don’t need you to change or be gone, you don’t need to be fixed or healed. You can be just as you are for as long as you need. You are also free to leave if and when you’re ready to as well.”
It was Adyashanti that first introduced me to this idea of embracing not running away from difficult experiences. To lovingly hold what is arising tenderly closer than close in my heart with the deepest compassion and patience, to let whatever is showing itself to just BE. And in this way whatever is coming up in the moment gets to be fully heard and met, not cut short or rushed but just patiently allowed for as long as needed. There’s no waiting or willing anything to be gone, just the full acceptance that if it’s there, then it needs to be there. To unconditionally allow, accept and embrace with compassion and tenderness.
And so in this I have learnt to not run, to not avoid, to not change or reject, or try to morph, transmute or even heal anything. But to just innocently and patiently accept and love anything that can and does show up in the field of experience.
This was and is one of the most powerful tools in my tool box of life, allowing me to come to a place of deep peace and okay-ness with whatever shows up. I’ve also noticed over time this has spontaneously become a big part of how I meet others too, it’s seeped in not as ‘something I do’ but as a by-product of meeting myself this way continuously. The work started with me.
I know there’ll be those of you well versed in non-dual teachings that will ask “yes, but WHO does the work?” So let’s not be coy and beat around the bush…. yes there’s no ‘I’ to ‘do’ the work but you can be damn sure that nonetheless the work sure does show up to be done! And for me it was almost as if that work could only really truly begin in earnest once the false ownership of ‘I’ was let go of and the inevitable flow of life came rushing in.
I don’t have any method of teaching or techniques to hand out, but if I were asked what was most helpful to me where the rubber meets the road in terms of the practical embodiment of life; the act of tenderly embracing whatever showed up was the most pivotal turning point of my experience. Whether you take that as a prescription or a description… I leave that to you to discover.
I have a secret to tell…
I sound like I know what I’m talking about
but in truth I live entirely in the unknown
No stakes to place
No walls or ceilings or floors to hang on to
life is a free-fall of continuous newness
It’s a leap of faith and trust
and it’s the ever present continuation of acceptance
I have no opinions
and no agenda
nothing to rely on
or anything to lay claim over
I see life as a gift
and all the content that shows up in it part of that gift
Most people are so quick to try and pin down life
to make rules to live by
find positions to take
and opinions to have
But to step into the unknown is to step out of the mind of conception
and into the realm of Grace
into the realm of Self
into the realm of awareness
logic will do you no good here
Do not shrink into smallness
Let yourself roar and feel fully into your inherent power.
Your power is found in the courage to be you,
to fully present ALL of you.
To cease with the judgements and accept all of your wholly divine messy humanness as your own.
To not second guess and hide yourself for fear of shame and judgement from others.
To let them see you, really see you in all your glory, in all your power.
Power is not an ‘evil’ blunt instrument that gets indiscriminately wielded around.
Power has many faces.
Power is found in full on vulnerability and openness
Power is found in the soft tenderness of heart
Power is found in the depths of sadness and heartbreak
Power is found in all the bits of yourself you can’t yet met
Power is found when living on the knife edge of exploration
Power is found saying no in order that you follow your yeses
In love and acceptance, there power resides.
So don’t be afraid to stand in your power.
Don’t be afraid to turn up to your life in a completely unapologetic way.
Own your power, don’t shy away from it.
There’s an impulse to avoid difficult and uncomfortable feelings. To reject them and cast them aside, to deny their existence. We think we can exert mind over matter and control our inner world, think positive thoughts and all will be okay. Yet when we do this we push these experiences into shadow. We don’t resolve them, we hide them, we sweep them under the carpet.
Life includes in it the whole gambit of human experience, all feelings, all sensations, all types of thoughts and emotions, the whole spectrum. By judging what we experience as good or bad and trying to ‘keep’ good experiences and ‘get rid’ of bad experiences then we are limiting the wholeness of our expression. We’re putting ourselves in opposition to what is, we’re creating tightness and limitation where there naturally isn’t any. We’re trying to control what turns up in our life, a futile and unnecessary battle.
So instead don’t listen to this learned conditioning of avoidance, break the cycle and embrace all, reject none and find freedom in the wholeness of your existence.
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.
Embracing our own humanity is embracing all others.
We deny our humanity. We hide in the ideals of ‘The Absolute’ and yet it’s the absolute that contains all of humanity. It’s the absolute (field of awareness) from which all of this springs. Does awareness have such distinctions? Does awareness *need* life to look a certain way. No! That is the small limiting notions of the human mind, too feeble to comprehend the magnitude and the mystery of how life is playing out.
It’s easier to think that we don’t have to deal with difficult emotions and wounds. It’s easier to think that all our problems will be solved when we are established in silence, in the absolute. But silence is only half of the equation, silence may be the ground of experience but from that ground springs forth the full diversity and experience of life. And included in that is the story of our personal life where wounds and traumas and relationships have a deep impact on our emotional, physical and energetic experience of life. So we can’t hide in the silence expecting that those experiences of life will fade away.
What does happen is that when established in silence, in Being, in the Self, when faced with those hard truths, those hard experiences, those very human experiences, that when faced with this we find that the capability and the capacity to hold space for these in the ground of our Being is infinite.
When established in Being, this is when the true work begins. When the strategies no longer work when they are seen through and seen as temporary Band-Aids for the work that is inevitable.
Don’t be afraid of the radical honesty and difficult work that life requires of you. It’s in this that you see the pure power and magnificence of humanity. It’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s a glory to behold, the complicated and messy magnificence of being a human. Don’t run from it, if anything, run towards it. It is in the full embrace of all that you are where you will find your freedom, where you will find your peace.
Peace and freedom don’t come about from limiting and controlling your experience. Peace and freedom come about from blowing the doors, and walls, and floors, and ceiling off of life. Peace and freedom come about when you are no longer trying to avoid any experience that shows itself in your life.
There is a lot of emphasis in spiritual circles of the wonderful, blissful, joyous experiences that can happen in life. But life is so much more. Don’t be tempted to only go towards the “light and good” experiences. Don’t be tempted to run away from the “dark and bad” experiences. Instead run towards all experiences, run towards and beyond all experiences. You are beyond all experiences. All experiences appear to you, you are greater than them and therefore need not be afraid of them. Experiences come and go, you are that which witnesses and knows those experiences. Don’t be tempted to identify only with those experiences, see that they come and go. What you are is far more and therefore cannot be overwhelmed by any experience.
Let go into the void of Being. Let go your notions of how this should and could go. Let go of any limits and any concepts of what life will look like. It is the height of arrogance to believe that you can figure out and control the mystery that is life.
So see that anything that does show up in your experiencing is a gift and bow your head to the feet of life. Surrender your small notions of personal authorship. Bow to the feet of the unknown, let life and Grace carry you through. Give over your need to pen the story, instead bear witness to that story. That story is your path and your path is uniquely yours. Never can you stray from your path, never can you take a wrong turn. Never is there a moment when you are not carried by Grace. Grace is at the centre of all actions, don’t be the judge of Grace.
So in the depths of strong emotions, and fears, and memories, and projections, fear not, even this is being held in Grace. Even this is the destiny of your path playing out. Even this is a gift being given to you, a gift that you are capable of receiving. Strength is not found in ease and comfort, strength is found when all else is lost. Strength is found in vulnerability. Strength is found when you let go into the unknowing. Strength is found at the core of your being.
Give life a chance to show you this. Take a leap of faith. Let go of the steady ground you think you’ve found and take the next step, even though you don’t know the one after it. Have faith that Grace will carry you.
Life is the ultimate mystery. Not ‘life’ in some mystical imagination of the mind, of some projection of what you think I am talking about when I say life. But life in its very ordinary and mundane and very human experience. This is the mystery, nothing more than this. This is mystery enough, we need not try to hijack it with imaginations.
Life is mystery enough.
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.
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.