Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recycled by the beloved

There is a trade-off that each of us must face if we choose love as the organizing principle in our lives. It is not possible to give everything for love, to burn in the fires of intimacy, and escape utter, unbearable vulnerability. It is not possible to let the unknown guide us into the uncertainty of the grace-caves of love, and not live every moment until the day we die in an empty-luminous field of utter groundlessness. If what we really want is love, we must be willing to feel everything – especially the tender sadness at the core of each and every human heart. If there is one other person experiencing sadness on this planet, we, too, will wade into the deep waters of broken-openness with them. We will stay very, very close. 

We will be called to surrender the irresistible movement to exit immediate experience for some “better,” more “spiritual,” “higher” state of consciousness, and be finished forever with our spiritual fantasies of “awakening,” “enlightenment,” “pure consciousness,” “God-realization,” and all the rest of it. None of this can survive an encounter with love, for such a meeting involves a shattering, a loss of hope, and an abandonment of all dreams and second-hand spiritual acquisitiveness; along with the simultaneous fulfillment of the most essential longing that this raw human heart could ever, ever, ever know. In this love, we are crucified, resurrected, and transfigured over and over and over again, recycled by the Beloved and seeded as grace-fertilizer throughout every star in every galaxy, no longer riveted to what new glorious spiritual experiences can I get for me in this day, but how can my life and my love for others become one continuous prayer of gratitude in motion. I’ll take this life, thank you; this experience, this state of consciousness, without the demand for some other, better, more “spiritual” or more “divine” one. For I know that everything I could ever want is embedded by grace within it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A confusing, gooey love and the messiness of the wide open heart

We want to know so badly… how things will turn out, when we’ll be awakened, when our heart will no longer be at risk of shattering, when we’ll stop suffering. It is so easy for our spiritual lives to become just another expression of our own unmet emptiness, boredom, self-aggression, unmetabolized pain, undigested addictions, lack of self-acceptance and of self-love. It is no “secret” that our culture is one of acquisitiveness – please, somehow, give me more. What is here now is most definitely not enough. I know there is some Divine glorious reality waiting for me, where angels are singing, harps are playing, perfect soul mates are appearing and disappearing, the perfect spiritual career presents itself, all of my dreams are manifesting abundantly, and above all the “divine” is endlessly catapulting me into very, very “high” states of consciousness, into some utterly fabulous cosmic state of reality, where the pain of my deepest longings for true intimacy are wiped out in the bosom of the great guru from beyond. 

But perhaps there is no “secret.” Perhaps the love and true meeting we seek will never be found through the acquiring mind, that mind that is forever spinning frenetically into some “new” and “high” state of consciousness, where “the body” laughs for hours, where we giggle like little children with goofy smiles on our faces, unable to contain the massive jolts of “kundalini” running through our systems, finally transcendent to the scariness of a radical opening of the heart, which we intuit will shatter *everything*. 

Life has no interest in us living up to some second-hand image. It doesn’t want or need us to be “perfect” or “divine” or “enlightened” or “God-realized” or any such nonsense. Life is only ever offering its invitation to fall heart-first into an immense field of not-knowing – not knowing how to live, not knowing how to forgive, not knowing how to accept, not knowing how to get awakened, and not knowing how to finally acquire the “right” “spiritual” thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences, and “states.” I hear from so many of you how exhausted you are, so tired of chasing around some fantasy of a “spiritual” life that you were told was the right one by some teacher, author, or exotic avatar who is beyond it all. 

In the very center of your heart, there is always an open doorway. It has nothing to do with any of this conditioned silliness of “higher” states of consciousness, the mythical sustained transcendent experience, and somehow moving beyond this messy world of intimacy, confusing gooey love, and human vulnerability. It wants so badly for you to walk through, to meet for the first time this unbearable longing to go home, to behold for the first time the miracle of this precious human body, of *these* thoughts, of *these* feelings, of *these* passing states of consciousness. For in just one moment of caring enough – of somehow resisting the call to exit this experience for another – what you see is that it is all made of love, crafted out of the substance of love, all the way through, from the inside-out and outside-in. And no matter what the details, love has somehow configured itself as your unique life, and has offered itself as a gift… only forever waiting for you to receive it, as it is.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A cure through love

It was Freud, in a letter to Carl Jung, who said: “psychoanalysis in essence is a cure through love.” It hurts us so much when those around us are suffering, when those we care about are struggling. What do we do? How can we help? What are the most direct ways to lessen the grief, the sadness, the anxiety, the shame, the fear? We hear that to truly love another is the most powerful form of healing but what does this mean? What I’ve seen, over and over again, is that at the deepest level all any of us really want is to be validated, is to be seen, to be met fully, to have our experience held and contained by another. It sounds so simple, but in practice is in fact a revolution. 
We long to somehow receive permission to be what we are, for another to understand how we are organizing our experience, for another to somehow be willing to enter into a burning love-field with us, without needing us to be different, to be “cured,” or even to heal. When we are truly met, when our organization is fully validated by another, a very organic process of healing is initiated – one that does not come from us or from our friend who is suffering – but seemingly from some mysterious Other. When we allow ourselves to enter deeply into the subjective experience of another – and when they feel us with them inside of the cracks and crevices of each and every cell of their heart – love takes over, grace begins to whisper its secrets, and we turn toward home, together.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Maybe it was only love after all...

How willing are we for the heart to be broken – and then put back together – over and over and over again? Sometimes we wake up feeling so vulnerable, so sensitive, so raw inside. What will the day bring? Will we allow another fully into our hearts? How deeply will we meet that which appears on this new day? Will our old friend anxiety come for tea? Will our faithful companion fear ask to join? Will our long lost acquaintance shame arrive for a reunion? Will we resist the temptation to turn from our old friends, to spiritualize them away, to dishonor their endless gifts through our habitual need to be in some state other than the one that has been given? Our dear friends only want to be met – to be held, to be seen, to be validated – by our presence, by our touch, and by our love. Can we cuddle and stay close with these ones? 

There is a part of us that knows that in such a meeting something will be shattered. Our images? Our dreams? Our hopes? Our strategies to avoid the risk of relatedness? Our ways of hiding out from the burning fires of true intimacy? It seems we are also simultaneously aware of a call from beyond, whispering to us that in this shattering something will be reborn, reconstituted out of the dust-heap of the broken pieces of our tender hearts and faded dreams. Maybe it was only love after all, taking whatever form required to re-introduce us to ourselves. Perhaps it was all orchestrated and set-up by the beloved from the start, flooded with her grace-signature from the very beginning, and carried by her sweet love for all time.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The traveler of love

When we get too close -- to another or to our own unprotected hearts -- we often find ourselves becoming extremely careful. We somehow know we are on the brink of being unbearably exposed, and our addiction to ourselves is on the brink of crumbling into a grace-heap of shattered hopes. Intimacy is terrifying. It’s not so challenging to carry on with our fabulous new meditation or rest contentedly at our prayer altar or open in devotion to the great avatar from afar… but one instant of an utterly exposed intimacy can annihilate our entire egoic structure, and we know it. When all is said and done, all we want is love, but still we find ourselves organizing our lives around feeling certain feelings and not others, having certain conditioned and constructed “powerful” “high” “spiritual” experiences that are better than others, and otherwise frenetically spinning around the ever-enticing call to comfort, safety, certainty, and distance. 

We want a radical intimacy more than anything -- a partner or a situation or a friend or a guru or an experience or a life situation through which we are able to share our deepest truths and our raw open hearts, to finally, once and for all, let go of the exhausting effort to become someone different. But until we deeply embrace our utter aloneness, invite it all the way in as the sweet friend it is, meet it as a beloved guide from beyond, receiving its gifts from the stars, the intimacy we so long for can never be fully embraced. We will always be holding back slightly, not fully able to allow the other to mean *everything*. We will always remain experience-distant, longing painfully for a plunge into the experience-near, driven from within to seek some experience, any experience, other than this one – one where “the body” shakes, where we laugh for hours, where we’re taken over by “bliss,” harps begin to play, angels sing, golden chariots arrive, magical sounds appear, and all of our problems and struggles are removed in one blast of cosmic grace. And then the lone voice of our friend Rumi, as a faint echo: “Any search moves away from the spot where the object of the quest is. Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way. Maybe some traveler will wake you."

So, friends, can we allow ourselves, somehow, to be awoken by the traveler of love, to stay utterly, unbearably close to the other, painfully close to our own experience, as it is? Can we stand still in the raging fires which pull us away from *this* moment, into some new fabulous experience, into some constructed “very high” state of consciousness, where we laugh for hours, transcendent of it all, looking around to ensure that we’re doing it right, finally given a new spiritual identity, finally seen to be the special one (that Mom and Dad somehow couldn’t quite see)? For when we stay very, very, very close, resisting all temptation to hold back just a little, ducking behind our spiritual fantasies and concepts, the apparent reality of separateness is revealed to have never, ever happened. And then, in the end, love is revealed to be a luminous thief, with nothing to give, everything to take, and yet still somehow offering everything, more than we could possibly ever want. Our fear of intimacy, which even our most precious spirituality can help us to stay distant from, melts into unbearable grace, and unspeakable connection, over and over and over again.