Monday, December 31, 2012

Burning up in the raging furnace of love…

It requires tremendous courage to no longer take refuge in any idea or concept to tell us who we are and what this life is. In the uncertain, ahistorical, acausal heart of reality, there is no confirmation for personal identity. There is no “awakening” here, no enlightenment for me, no magical stories of how I’ve “shifted” from this to that, no “final” and “permanent” “states” where we’re protected from conflict, safe from the burning fires of intimacy. There is no longer a landing place for the separate self; none of this has any meaning from the perspective of love. 

The concept of a “full” or “permanent” reality or condition crumbles as any other construction of fear and is revealed to be a projection of the unresolved child within, daydreaming that they are happy on the playground, protected and kept safe from a reality that is utterly groundless. Love will remove any “permanent” egoic landing place as it wishes, pulling the rug out from under the spirituality of me, if that is what is required for its essence to pour through this reality, reorganizing *everything* in its way. The fable of the final resting place, the “awakened” me, “fully” this, “final” that, “permanent” the other - simply burn up in the raging furnace of love.  

How might love move through us then? How will love make use of this body and these senses as vehicles of grace? In this burning up, the possibilities of what is next suddenly move from conditioned and finite to unconditioned and infinite. 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

All the way inside the purifying fires of gratitude…

When we become aware of the specific ways we distract ourselves from the intensity of immediate experience – including through our spiritual beliefs and practices – we can then make a choice to re-embody. We can return to the life of the senses, to our open-hearted dedication to the truth of our experience as it is, to our uncompromised commitment to kindness, whatever appears. In this field of heart-centered, compassion-infused embodiment, we can no longer pretend we’re not feeling what we’re actually feeling; whatever guest arrives in the home of the heart is welcomed, allowed in, taken directly into the inner sanctum, and held tenderly. Inside this secret chamber, our neurosis, our fear, our heart-wrenching humanity, our nakedness, the movement to reach some final landing place where we’ll remain forever untouched by the crushing power of our vulnerability – all this begins to become dismantled, dissolved, disassembled, and taken apart by love. It’s not always easy, often not fun, but somehow we know that falling apart into a radical intimacy with embodied experience is the only way Home.

When love is revealed to be the ultimate organizing principle of this unprecedented human experience, a wild grace steps in and takes over, showing us at the most profound level that this life is not and never was a problem after all, that needs to be transcended, transformed, accepted, or even healed. Something else is calling – we are being summoned by that same energy of love that assembled this precious universe and this tender exposed heart, particle by particle, cell by cell. When this call is let all the way in, grace in all its forms is unleashed throughout our lives – sometimes fierce, sometimes sweet, always ultimately unknown, and often unbearably transformative. Gone is the scramble into some “higher” state of consciousness, into “no longer having a self, into “no longer experiencing conflict,” or otherwise into our mythologies of awakening, fables of enlightenment, and fantasies of permanence. In just one moment all the way inside the purifying fires of gratitude, we sense that maybe we had it backwards all along. Perhaps the journey was never actually about how to get more for me, how to get to God, how to get more love, get “permanently” awakened, or to wiggle into some sustained transcendent experience, and then to tell others all about it.

By some grace, the journey from “here to there” dissolves right before our eyes. The rug is pulled away, all spiritual reference points vanish, and in its place only love remains. The journey from “here to there” is replaced with “there to here,” with love, not “me,” running the show. “How will I pour forth through your particular body, using your individual senses, expressing as your humanity,” love asks? “How will I take shape as your hands to touch another so sweetly, as your words to speak kindness, and your being to presence the sacredness of the other as they are?” This life is then turned upside down, in total wonderment, filled with an unfathomable gratitude, and taken over by an excruciating curiosity as to how love will reassemble your world.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Healing the Core Wound of the Heart - with John Welwood

Friends, please enjoy this audio interview with Dr. John Welwood, one of our most inspiring and provocative Insights at the Edge episodes of 2012. John’s work has been important to me – both personally and professionally – over the last 15 or so years. John is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and longtime Vajrayana Buddhist practitioner, who has spent several decades exploring the relationship between psychological and spiritual work in an integrated approach to personal growth, psycho-emotional healing, and spiritual transformation. In 1984, John coined the term "spiritual bypassing" in the exploration of how spiritual teachings, beliefs, and practices can be used defensively in the avoidance of unresolved psychological wounding. Toward a Psychology of Awakening and Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships are two of John’s excellent books that I recommend (and read) often. 

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, my longtime friend and colleague Tami Simon speaks with John about his understanding of the relationship between psychological work and the spiritual journey, as well as his view of the phenomenon of “spiritual bypassing.” He also spoke about committed relationships and the most common issue that couples present in couples therapy. 

Listen/ download (or read a written transcript) here - 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The groundless uncertainty of the forever vulnerable movement of love...

So much of the journey seems to be about increasing our ability to tolerate disturbing feelings, survival-level anxiety, and experiential intensity in the body. We have seen how we can use our spiritualities of “enlightenment” to avoid the facing of unmetabolized pain from the past, to sidestep our psychological wounding – our feelings of being unloved or unlovable at the deepest levels – and the lack of empathic attunement we experienced as little ones. We intuit that there is nothing scarier than one moment of true intimacy with what actually *is* – and that even our fabulous “high” states of “full” and “permanent” awakening” cannot touch our core vulnerabilities. To open our heart to another, to fall into the unknown, to set aside the spiritual project of “me” – these can be terrifying if we let them in all the way.

We’ve all seen the ways we organize our lives around not having to feel certain feelings – including through our “me and my experiences” focused spirituality; any way to not make contact with the unconscious sadness, grief, and shame that is lurking in the shadows. The most radical commitment that we can make – far more challenging and infinitely more rewarding than to some conceptual “awakening” or to our favorite guru or superstitious metaphysical ancient path, for these are relatively easy – is to the truth of our immediate, embodied experience. Are we willing to be 100%, fully committed to *this* experience, right here and right now? Do we really want to know what is true more than anything? This commitment is utterly terrifying if we let it in all the way because it is the end of all protection, all safety, all security, all ground, and everything that is known. But more than anything it is the end of the special, “awakened” me. There is no longer a guru or our magical thinking or our spiritual superstitions, conditioning, and constructions left to protect this raw, pulsating, naked vulnerable heart from shattering into billions of tiny pieces, from being fully and nakedly exposed to the gaze of the Beloved in all her forms.

When through some unknown grace we begin to organize our lives not around me and my amazing special experiences, but around the love of truth and the truth of love, we finally set aside the stories of how “there is no self any longer,” I’m “permanently” and “fully” awakened and all the rest of the ego-driven spirituality of me and my specialness. And then the ground falls out from underneath the spiritual self. This life is then no longer riveted to what new fabulous spiritual experiences I can gather, how special and awakened I am, how “no one is there” (that “no one” that we are so keen to tell others not yet awakened about), but rather our lives become organized around how Love wishes to make use of our eyes to see beauty, our hands to touch another sweetly, our words to speak kindly, and our heart to feel unbearable gratitude for this life as it is.  

As the dream of the special “awakened” me comes to a close and the fable of 2012 passes, let us open to the unknown together, to the groundless uncertainty of the forever vulnerable movement of love. This energy offers nothing in terms of supporting our personal identity projects and messianic visions and missions. Let us somehow open to the unbearable transformation that love always demands, knowing that it has nothing to offer, except for everything. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Producer’s Pick… wisdom from the Sounds True archive

Enjoy our free Producer's Pick series... treasured wisdom from the Sounds True archive. Producer's Pick is introduced below by my longtime friend and colleague - and Sounds True founder/ publisher - Tami Simon.

There's something that happens when we let go and open, and have the space to receive the wisdom of another person... there is a kind of heart-to-heart, being-to-being communion which occurs. Hope you enjoy our new Producer's Pick feature, as part of our Weekly Wisdom series. To access the current Producer’s Pick – updated each week – please see To join our free Direct Access Membership program, where you can search for and watch all previous episodes – as well as all of our Insights at the Edge interviews, A Good Minute teachings, and Wise Words book excerpts – please visit