I friend who believes in LOVE but not in “God” shared with me his understanding that all of the religions and spirituality concepts we can encounter are simply metaphors for some unknowable truth. I used to agree with him whole-heartedly. Continue reading “Metaphorically, how about NOT speaking?”
I’ve had the identity of myself as the curator, the writer, the wordsmith for a number of years now, but I’m starting to have radically new visions. Continue reading “Visions of the most fun to do list. Ever.”
I’m so honored to be in conversation with someone who is discovering the joys of loving another (I assume romantically and for the first time). She found that a poem I wrote accurately reflected the experience she is having, and I am inspired by the way she is connecting it to a universal experience of feeling the joy of being in connection. Here is my reflections on that.
On Falling in Love
This joy is not something we construct, merely something we tune into. I believe this feeling of joy we attribute to early romantic love and infatuation is there all the time, yet most of us only manage to access it when we are enamored with a new partner (the “you”), or when we first have children, or when we have something that feels like “winning” happen in our lives. Then, our egos and strategic minds tell us the feeling comes FROM the event or person, and we create a lot of suffering for ourselves chasing/clinging to people and events that we hope will “make us” feel this happiness. The invitation for me is to simply notice in myself this ability to feel joy and love, and grow that, regardless of who is in the room with “me” (and to feel deep gratitude for the triggering person or event for helping me awaken)!
OK, so I dropped a few layers. I still have a personality, an ego structure, a history, and an opinion about things, but I am also less driven from those forces as I am driven from a place of awakening and now awareness.
My experience last week (with Ashamarae and my current beloved) wasn’t insight, or understanding a good career opportunity when I see one, or “letting go” of some thoughts that have been troubling me. My experience last week didn’t even take place exclusively last week, that particular string of moments was simply a more tightly concentrated connection of moments that lead to a nice “Aha!” discovery, but what was there to be “Aha’d” has been here all along and would be here even if I hadn’t noticed. Last week was simply one of the precious first moments where I let in some help to really pay attention, and so I did.
It came about because I’ve learned to practice – meditation, listening, feeling, compassion in a way that was at first self-serving and thankfully has begun to shift to being of service. It was the logical next step of learning to meditate, of awakening my energy body, of beginning to let in the truth that this idea of separateness is an illusion. It was the next gift after learning how to access what the Buddhist call the “God Realm,” come back to what we call the “Human Realm,” and notice that neither is the true reality. (And the also the same experience with the “Hell Realm.”
It was possible because I became willing to turn to face and walk straight into the thoughts and feelings that have been most compelling – be they extremely attractive compelling or extremely aversive compelling. So long as I was unwilling to think of myself as worthy of the beauty of those compelling ideas that were enticing me, so long as I believed myself too weak to experience those compelling ideas that were scaring me, I was driven by those ideas and was therefore less aware. One by one, as I’ve turned into and deconstructed those compulsions, they have dis-integrated. This brought me to the emptiness, to the question, to letting go of the argument with the question, or wanting to get the question right, or even believing that I’d ever get an answer to the question.
Now, the tiniest taste of awareness has come and it is like one of those life changes that is like jumping off a cliff. There is no going back, and only the faintest idea of what the landing place looks like. And although what I understand is vast and amazing, I have the deep knowing that I’ve got only the tiniest inkling of a clue here. It is just like the books and (non snake-oil salesmen) gurus say, only not at all like that. All of these things we say to describe what it is are metaphors. And there are 7 billion of us, each with a very unique configuration of personality, ego structure, history and opinions about things, so many many metaphors are needed. Pick your philosophy, pick your path, it is not important, the how. It isn’t even important that we all awaken, but wouldn’t it be great if we did?
I’m not entirely ready to share what my particular insight into the oneness is, partly because I am reluctant to sully it with words, but mostly because I understand it is the tiniest little insight that has had to be interpreted through my silly little human mind and when I describe it in words, I will get it 99% wrong. And because it isn’t important that you know what my awareness is, it is important that you know what your awareness is.
And also, it is important that you know that awareness is possible in this lifetime, even for a middle aged house wife so inclined most of her life in overthinking and senseless chatter.
So get to it, and if you want some encouragement, radical honesty, undefended love, compassion and empathy on your path, let me know.
It was just a thought, really, when you look deeply enough. So some thought happened, and everyone involved had really big ideas about what that meant. Big ideas. Thoughts about a thought, as if that is what matters. But this time, we did something different – we tried letting this thing completely BE rather than trying to make something else happen.
We let the thing be and we paid attention, and that lead us to the thoughts and then the thoughts to unveil the feelings, and we let those into the light as well. And those all just turn out to be either desire or aversion, and we let that be, and under that, we could see the deeper truth, and I’ll tell it to you now:
It isn’t about the thing. It isn’t about the thought. It isn’t about the desire or the aversion, or about what happened or who you think you are. It’s about where this all comes from, and what is below that. That’s the lesson. The thing, the decision, the outcome of that decision, these are nearly irrelevant.
Letting myself be fully seen, to see with undefended love, has changed me. I think I just shed half a person and am now bare, light, released from a lifetime of story. That thought experiment brought so much into focus for me. Life is short. I want my time to matter. I want to live in love and nothing else matters. In love with art, in love with myself, in love with my people, in touch with whatever those people call God. I want each moment, the love making ones, the ones where I am a wretched puddle on the floor, the ones where I’m preparing a meal for myself and my family, to be fully experienced, unburdened by what I think should happen or how I feel about what happened before.
Today, the absurdity of e-mail and washing dishes and that there are practical things like bills to pay and train schedules is making me laugh. I used to think it was about these things. Sometimes, I used to even cry about these things. Ha!
So I say to myself: Give the people attached to these things a bare look. Such sweet small souls, each carrying these giant heaping piles of armor and baggage, making these Herculean and inherently flawed attempts to connect through all that. Look at yourself doing the same. Isn’t it amazing how much energy we have to keep trying this experiment in belonging, in knowing ourselves?
And then I say: I love you.
And that is all that matters.
If you have ever fallen in love, then you know what it is like to be with God.* There are many opportunities to feel this in the beginning of a romantic relationship, as you each crack open your hearts for exploration, as you each look into one another’s best selves. In these moments, we see the God in our beloved, and in the reflection of their eyes, we see that they can see the God in ourselves.
But this is not the only place to see and feel God. If you are paying attention, you may also notice that God is there when you embrace a new baby, ride a wave, witness the passing of a loved one, experience a victory or win. These are beautiful opportunities to transcend the apparent mundaneness of human existence. So, it feels so good to be one with God, and it is therefore logical to want to seek out these God experiences. But becoming too attached to this type of seeking can lead to needless suffering.
Just as we cannot live in a perpetual state of victory, just as we know that the baby must inevitably grow into a messy adolescent, we should not become too attached to this particular lover with whom we have our God awakening. This lover is not God, is not the source of God energy. This lover is simply a beautiful and harmonious manifestation of and channel through which we can connect to God.
So, now that you have had the experience of falling in love, notice that you know how to feel God. Then see if you can release yourself from becoming overly attached to any specific God awakening person, action, or location as the sole source. Hold these with reverence, but hold them lightly. And then bravely and joyfully explore new techniques, new ways of connecting, and new places of beauty which facilitate additional ways to be with God. Notice that as you practice this,
* For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to use the word God, but you can translate that to being on the path, being one with truth, being connected to the divinity of the universe, or whatever language works for you. I don’t generally prescribe to an external God, but there are simply times where this word works well for me. Also, this is not mine. I received it during a Snatam Kaur kirtan.
At Kirtan on Saturday, for the first time, I reached a stillness so deep, that I could feel the clarity and intensity of my own heart beat like I was being rocked by a wave. I found a deep slow breath, a gentle placement of my closed eyes slightly up and centered. I felt my heart open. I became presence.
From there, I could open my eyes, smile, and see. Not look around – See.
There were children dancing joyfully, some were rambunctious, some cooperative, some silly. There was a flow to their play, coming together, and pulling back into their individual trajectories. The young warrior fathers danced with the children, gently powerful and potent. The young mothers held hands and danced and spun, or sat strong and ready as their little ones flitted over for a pat before going back to the celebration of movement. This observation landed in me as a very simple statement. I could see these families choosing to spend their Saturday evening together in loving joyful tribal community.
I felt these words: They are doing this right.
My lover danced in the joy of feeling his body. He invited me to dance, and I knew my place in this moment was to witness. He danced a lyrical communication of the mystery of spirit and love which I don’t yet understand. I feel honored to be his student in this. And he danced the longings in his heart, longings I also know well, and I feel honored to be one of his teachers in this. I felt sadness at my recent struggles with seeing him as a gift for me, rather than for this truth.
Again, words arrived: Hold this one lightly.
The older people and the young seekers, the guides and the musicians, were the roots of the room. I could feel them each, and I could feel them all, and I could begin to understand the mystery that I’ve always had, and always will have, a place in this continuum. Even before this understanding, I have offered myself in service as the child, the seeker, the lover, the mother. With this awakening, I will now be able to offer myself as the guide and some day, as the elder. And always as the seeker and the lover and the mother, and as the student and the teacher.
Here more words: I belong.
I reached these words in the stillness.
In these words, the stillness reaches me.
My mind is not here to make these words, it is here to understand them. I felt tender and naked from this human awareness, electrified and alive from my loving relationships, and harmoniously connected to myself. And I could see with clarity. I could feel what matters, how what matters is always in abundance, and how little the rest matters.
This landed in me as this simple mantra:
This isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.
Holding the stillness and this mantra together, I allowed it to become an exploration.
This relationship isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.
This child isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.
This role isn’t something to work on, it is a celebration of life.
My work isn’t even something to work on, it is a celebration of my life.
The tears that accompanied this truth poured gently from my eyes, and I felt no need to hide them or wipe them away, so they created a sweet stream that caressed my face, my chin, my neck, and pooled in my heart.
This was gift enough, more than I had expected would happen, and then I received even more. As the evening began to come to a close, the last mantra was an invitation for each of us to envision the way in which we can use a portion of our lives in service to one another, to our families, to our communities, to spirit, to the earth. It wasn’t a call, or an order, it was an offering of the gift of knowing. In this sacred space, I received a clarity.
First and foremost, my service is love, and absolutely nothing else matters. Any detail of location, destination, logistics, who is there, what shape it takes, is secondary, or even insignificant.
I explored this.
What of my adult loving relationships? The answer was Love. Who to love and what it means for my future, is secondary. Because there is always enough love, and if this one beautiful person has his or her own calling, my love gives only one choice: joyous celebration. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.
What of my children? Love. This, so simple. Nothing to engineer, nothing to do right or wrong. Lovingly witnessing their becoming and joyously celebrating their choices and empathetically holding them in their struggles, even if their struggles include me, is all I’m required to do. Loving is doing it right. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.
What of home? Also simple. My home has spaces for stillness and spaces for joyous celebration for me, for my children, for whomever feels drawn to join us here. My home will be a place of refuge and community. For love. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.
What of work? This one particular ego struggle became the lightest and most insignificant of my mysteries to understand. My employment can be my work, or it can be the source to fund my work. If it is the source to fund my work, it can also be an opportunity to live lovingly in every one of those interactions. This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.
This isn’t something to work on; it is a celebration of life.
So I set an intention to reconnect to this stillness, this mantra, during the next day, to allow it to become familiar, a new form of muscle memory. I realize this will be a practice. The next day turned out to be a day, precisely like every day, in which I was invited to contemplate connection, commitment, the preciousness of time, and living with purpose. It was a day in which I was invited to ask how I will choose to live this one life. And I know. And this knowing isn’t something I needed to invent or create or work on. It was given to me.
So, during the day, I experienced sadness about the times when I believed there was not enough. I felt the pull to drop back into that familiar story of scarcity and grief. And also, I breathed, I found the stillness. And I felt gratitude for this moment when there is enough.
And I experienced regret for my past actions when I was disconnected from living love, when I was driven by neediness or ego or my unreliable thoughts. I felt the pull of self-pity. And also, I breathed, found the stillness, listened to this awakening heart, and found gratitude for having made my own discoveries of doing it wrong.
And I experienced a joyful noticing of how the abundance I receive when I stopped trying to collect, is a profoundly infinite abundance my egoic mind never could have imagined in that misguided desire to control and predict. I found surrender.
I experienced longing for home. And in my breath, in my stillness, gratitude for the chance to create.
And I lived this one day as true to my calling as I ever have.
I honored love. I honored the struggle. I honored the path –
For myself, for my family, for my community.