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.