Saturday, July 7, 2012

The gooey messy yucky yummy nature of the journey


An old friend was sharing that finally the personality was gone and she was “no longer there.” After 30+ years of dedicating herself to awakening, liberation, enlightenment, she had “made it.” At last, there was “no more self."

I wasn’t really sure what to say. It felt as if she was looking for some acknowledgement, some mirroring, some validation. It was sweet, in a way. I turned inward, scanning for any somatic response. I mostly felt raw, just really open, a bit sad, and a bit shaken, wondering how the precious journey of human spirituality ever came to be about not having a personality or a self, or so wrapped up in following the call to be in a “state” other than the one that is here now. When exactly did spirituality become about the egoic need to prove to others (and yourself) that you are free from the ego?

The ego is such a wily and creative character. It has an uncanny way of being able to get its hands into even the most subtle and sacred experiences and make them its own, wrapping its tightly-woven cocoon around the nakedness of our humanity.

After our exchange, I reflected upon the fact that the truly “awakened” people I have been privileged to meet have very strong personalities, are very much “there,” and use the gift of thought and egoic process as skillful means to help others, not to create armies of awakened people who are separate from one another. They are riveted in the here and now, radically embodied, and profanely human. They are people of the earth, passionately interested in what is happening in the hearts of the others around them, and not terribly interested in moving into some other “higher” state of consciousness. Rather, they are moved deeply by *this* state of consciousness, whatever it might be, curious about its texture and its color and its unique gifts. For them, there is no longer any reference point of what “state” of consciousness they happen to be in, but rather how can they move so deeply into the unknown that love has no other option but to pour though them, forever touching everyone and everything in its wake.

I was speaking with my dear friend Jeff Foster early this morning about what a new sort of spirituality might be like, or maybe we could call it a “post”-spirituality, that was not organized around the notion of “nobody here.” Rather, it involves a returning to “somebody here,” to being here fully, committed to this very human yummy messy precious muddled yucky painful sweetness of a life. It would involve a true celebration of our uniqueness, and a full engagement with this sacred gift of the state of consciousness that is here right now. We would be so willing for everything to matter—every person we meet, every feeling that is experienced, every difficult conversation with a friend, every biting piece of feedback we might receive. We would not transcend it, but allow it to utterly matter, to be excruciatingly real and touch us at the very deepest levels. We would be unsatisfied with remaining the “witness” of our experience because we would be called to know it so intimately, not standing apart from it, but falling heart-first into its sweet lap. We would be willing to be so touched, to be moved, to be hurt, to be completely opened all the way through to the other side of our precious pulsating hearts. This spirituality would be one of love and pain and raw vulnerability, rooted in the unknown. It would be a spirituality of the crucifixion, of the resurrection, and of the transfiguration all rolled into one.


Jeff shared, “It's having a cup of tea with your old dad, your hand brushing against his as you reach for the sugar, and it's not understanding any of it anymore, but it's radically being here, present and awake to what is, being in love with it all even when it hurts, being in love with the one in front of you, for this may be the last time you ever meet, father, sister, mother, brother, husband, wife, friend...” 

It’s about being so in love with this life, with *this* state of consciousness, feet firmly planted right here on this earth, intertwined with time and space, allowing the movement of transcendence to burn up in the fire of unknowingness, of groundlessness, of uncertainty. Finally, home, always home, never having left home, in the midst of it all—the screaming babies, the unpaid bills, the ever-expanding to-do list, the scariness of intimacy, the grief, the joy, the sadness, the anger, the anxiety, the tenderness, the depression, the unbearable bliss.


Finally, discovering in just one moment of right here, right now, when the heart is so fragile that its falling apart seems imminent; finding that it’s all sacred, that it's all there is, and that there is not-- and never was-- a dividing line between the sacred and the profane, between the “Divine” and, what, the non-Divine? What would that be actually? And all of these old concepts and spiritual conditioning obliterate themselves into a yummy pile of grace-honey that you fall into, willingly, getting sticky with the sweet goo that is this life, in all its infinite expressions, in all its wonder and pain and joy, its never-ending and forever incomprehensible grace... and then arising out of all of it, the only response that makes any sense whatsoever… a profound gratitude, for this reality, this body, this state of consciousness, these senses. What a miracle.

37 comments:

  1. You're welcome, Linda-- thank you for stopping by. Lots of love...

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    1. Thank you Matt....You, Jeff and as I recently discovered Tim Freke and Michael Brown are a new generation of spiritual teachers that really resonate with me....I appreciate it....Thank you
      PS Couldn't see a general reply button...sorry :)

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    2. Hi Marina, lovely to connect with you here... i'm happy to hear from you :) sending much love...

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  2. Beautiful. So much what I've been yearning for...

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    1. Thank you, Debby, for sharing here... and for your precious yearning for love in all of its expressions :)

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  3. made my here and now wider...One Love from the jungle

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    1. mmmmmmm, yes. sending much love, Professor!

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  4. Wonderful reflections on the concept of bondage and freedom. all about here and now so well expressed.
    Finally home always home....so true!

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  5. So grateful that Jeff Foster shared your blog on his facebook page today. Wonderful to find you here and read your beautiful and honest description of a truly integrated spirituality grounded in being human. Realy loved this, brings me hope of the possibility for experiencing the depths of an ordinary authentic and geniunely human life. :)
    Thank you!

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    1. Hey Lisa. thank you for your sweet words and for sharing the gooey yummy sticky human journey with me-- and with my dear friend jeff. lots of love...

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  6. Yes, I came here through Jeff's post on Facebook too. You successfully put into words my own point of view. It was lovely to read. Thank you Matt. Nice to "meet" you.

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    1. Good to connect with you here, friend... thank you for stopping by; look forward to more. the sunrise here in Colorado today reminds me of BC (i used to live in Nelson; i noticed you were on the coast); we have needed the rain so much. it is so lovely this morning. sending much love...

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  7. Wow, so beautifully expressed. Thank you for writing this and sharing. I feel broken wide open by your words.

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    1. Thank you, Sorel... i am happy to be broken-open with you :) sending much love

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  8. Really well put, Matt. (Found you through Jeff on FB also) Not knowing the intricacies of your exchange with your friend of course but I do feel as if the whole 'no one here' experience might be seen a different way. If for the duration of an entire life ones identity has been bound up within a highly limited sense of 'personality' and that identity is suddenly seen to be no one other than the whole shebang itself, one might exclaim in unutterably delight, 'there's no one here!' That very assertion, despite it's 'stink of Zen', might actually be a loving and intimate assertion of 'there's someone here but it's not what I thought it was...'
    I remember reading a funny story about some enlightenment experience. The young monk, having achieved sartori, is walking around touching things like stones and flowers and exclaiming, Ah this stone is so... stonelike! Everything is so perfect! After a a while the master turns to the side and says, yes, it is, but probably best not to speak of it so much....'

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    1. Hi Piers, nice to connect with you here and thank you for your response. Yes, it can be so freeing when identification is somehow released from limitation; when we, even for a moment, find ourselves no longer looking into the field of thought to tell us who we are, who another is, what this mystery of a life is. We realize that there is in fact no psychological center from which our experience is being organized; rather, organization is organically unfolding out of a radically infinite and pregnant space of love. These moments are so precious, and they can break us open in so many ways, allowing our hearts to be touched, bringing about a radical re-wiring of the way we perceive reality. Perfection indeed!

      And of course there is no problem at all with labeling these experiences as “no self,” “there is no one here,” etc. While the appearance of a “self” has a way of dancing throughout our lives, the radical reality, which is revealed in these sorts of experiences show us that upon investigation—or in one sweet moment of an unexpected grace—things might not be what they seem. It can be quite poetic and sweet and a moving way to describe such a subtle shift, and can even help in our connection with and communication with others. I think what Jeff and I were pointing to, (granted, in our shared provocative style :)) after speaking with hundreds/ thousands over the years about these experiences, is that, as you mention, there often arises an almost natural tendency to become identified with even this subtle level of experience, and for it to become the basis of yet another identity project, for that separate sense of self to now begin to organize its experience around “no one there.” Yes, as you mention, the “stink of Zen” or what Zen refers to as “makyo.” And then of course we find ourselves stumbling through the advaita shuffle, “you still have a self and I don’t,” various types of disassociation, and just a sort of coldness that can permeate a spirituality fixated on me and my experience.

      For whatever reason, Jeff and I are both drawn to the very human, messy, intimate expression of nonduality in the world of time and space, and both find ourselves emphasizing this in our current writings and sharings. As I mentioned in my invitation to Jeff’s events in Boulder:

      “What I most appreciate about Jeff is his willingness to be fully exposed, and to take spirituality out of the ashrams and meditation halls and into the streets. Jeff and I talk often about how we're both so drawn to what we might call a "human" or "relational" nonduality, a "kitchen-sink-level" nonduality where the focus is not so much on our struggle to get to the Absolute, but a curiosity about how that Absolute expresses itself in the world of time and space, in the reality of this messy yucky yummy life of intimate relationships, work, career, family, illness, and paying the bills on time.

      For both of us, the reality of nonduality is total aliveness, and includes everything and anything that could possibly ever arise in our lives. It is not only found in the "spiritual" world of bliss, silence, "no-self," and so forth, but is radically shining in the busted water sprinkler in the front yard, the mis-shipped item from Amazon, the challenge of honest communication with someone we love, and in the eyes of a cuddly little baby in the grocery store.”

      Sending much love to you, my new friend…

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  9. What an exquisite piece Matt! Touched me so deeply I am speechless!

    Namasté,

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    1. Thank you, LadyButterfly, happy to be connected with you here. Lots of love...

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  10. Beautiful piece... if I could offer a short film I put together from Buddhist teacher Michael Stone, he shares a similar view on the true meaning of "non-attachment" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXbmRK6dpZg

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    1. Hey Ian... nice to hear from you. I enjoyed this video from Michael Stone; you are the second to send me a video from him in the last few weeks. I had not previously heard of him... yes, i really like his perspective, and his embodied view of non-attachment as engagement... these seem to arise together, co-arise, and share their gifts in a way that is mutually interpenetrating. a true nonduality :)

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  11. Matt,

    Your words touch me... and I can't help but feel connected to you, even from miles away and through digital screens. Thank you for sharing, caring and expressing yourself... the world is a better place with such reflections being spread around the globe...

    Perhaps, you can come visit us some day, we'd love to have you... think about it. We are spread around the planet but are also in Colorado, you can find us through our site or searching 'path of love'.

    Either way, I look forward to reading more and connecting...

    with love and gratitude,
    Rups

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    1. Hi Rups, lovely to connect with you here and thank you for the sweet words and invitation. I, too, look forward to more connection with you; let us definitely stay in touch. Your website is pathoflove.net, yes? You can find me here, http://www.facebook.com/bcmatty, wakeupfestival.com, soundstrue.com, and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sounds-True/182708684718. Sending much love, matt

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  12. Thanks Matt, for a lovely response. I'll stop by regularly.

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  13. Hello Matt, I have now read your post twice , the more I read it the better it feels!! I love your straightforwardness and your honesty.....and your words resonate so true in me...I am in the same place. For it is not about enlightenment any more....it is about being human, it is not about disassociation with human nature but about participation....in this is my light. Thank you for the reminder..much love Mushkan

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  14. Hi Mushkan, happy to hear from you; thank you for reaching out, my sweet friend. And thank you for sharing the very human journey with me, and for opening to the excruciating raw vulnerable ever-rewarding dimension of love... sending lots of love from Colorado :)

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  15. Barry Long once said that he speaks the truth to his fellow man and woman in a way like saying "Pass me the jam on the breakfast table please."

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  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3n3ImUc1lg

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    1. Hi Graham, nice to connect with you here and thank you for stopping by; and for the lovely Barry Long quote :) Much love...

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  17. Matt, your words went straight to my soul at a level of knowing and comfort I cannot express. Thank you for sharing your incredible gifts of wisdom and writing with all of us.

    With love and gratitude...

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    1. Hi Kelly, thank you for reaching out and sharing with me here. I'm happy to be connected with you. Looking forward to more... much love, new friend.

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  18. Wonderful post. I love how similar what you say is to Jeff Foster's message. 2 beautiful spirits!

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  19. I really enjoyed reading this, it reminded me of two lovers intertwined, one beloved.

    Thank you for sharing

    Blessings

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  20. Thank you, Shar Shar-Ka-Tana for connecting with me here... yes, two lovers, intertwined- one beloved. So very sweet... sending lots of love, matt.

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