Monday, August 5, 2013
You are standing at a precipice
Why am I not changing? Why am I not healing? Why am I not transforming? Why am I not “awakened” yet? What is all this fear, this neurosis; what are all these strategies that I’ve adopted to protect myself and to stay safe; why do I continue to choose certainty and comfort over love? Why do I choose the same kind of partner over and over, who is unable to see me, to understand me, and to take the journey of intimacy-yoga with me? Much of the correspondence I’ve received lately is centered around these sorts of questions. In short: why am I so neurotic and when will it change? What am I so afraid of?
In exploring this with you, I’m reminded of the very compelling idea that you might just set aside your neurotic organization and finally just choose love over fear, sort of the way you might choose soup over salad at your favorite restaurant. You’re bombarded with all sorts of promises that this or that course or “new” process, this or that book or method, or this or that guru will remove it all, in one cosmic stroke of unbelievably fantastic and awesome grace. But what you forget is that we have a very deep investment in our neurotic strategies. In order to live a life beyond your wildest imagination, in my experience, it is often important to first see how and why you are holding onto this protective material, and just how much you have invested into the paradoxical wish that your neurosis *not* actually be resolved.
To truly set aside your defensive organization would, first of all, require that you go immediately into those feelings you have spent your entire life avoiding. But this way of relating to your experience may in actuality be deeply unkind, for it is only the ego that feels the need to storm its own castle. You forget that your neurotic organization is serving a protective purpose, and has in fact held you in very important ways. It emerged when your little hearts and nervous systems were still developing to protect you from overwhelming emotional states that you simply could not metabolize on your own. You learned very quickly how to stay safe, how to receive the love you needed, and how to survive – emotionally, psychically, and sometimes even physically. From this perspective, the presence of your defensive strategies was incredibly intelligent, creative, and life-affirming; you might even say they were the product of a certain kind of grace.
The purpose of your neurosis – and the entirety of the less-than-awakened strategies you’re now observing and often so hard on yourselves about – is to protect you from somatic and emotional experience that was accurately perceived (at the time) to not be safe to let in. To do whatever it took to prevent the shattering of your precious somatic-emotional world was an act of kindness, not something to shame yourself for. The good thing about these strategies is that they often work quite well. The not so good thing about them is, well, that they often work quite well. They work so well, in fact, that they have become ingrained not just as strategies that you choose consciously and temporarily in the moment but as unconscious organizing principles which have become embedded as character structure. What to do now? Where to go from here?
Many of you have found yourselves at a precipice, standing on the edge of cliff, with the known on one side and the unknown on the other. There is the lure of the known, on the one hand – that sort of familiarity, safety, security, and certainty; on the other you are being called to by love to fall into its uncharted waters, to swim in its majesty, and to be transparent to its movement. You are not exactly sure what will come next, but you are sensing a precious opportunity that has been laid out in front of you: these feelings that you have spent your life avoiding (whether through addiction, habitual eating, co-dependent relationships, or even through spiritual beliefs and practices) seek your holding; they only wish to touch and be touched by you. They mean you no harm, but only seek the light of your awareness. They have provided you with the most intelligent, tender, and compassionate care but, for many of you, the time has now come for you to consider parting ways. You are ready to fall into the unknown and to let love have you.
This is not an ordinary moment. In fact, it is the heralding of a new world. You are being asked open the door of your body, your psyche, your nervous system, and your heart – in a way that you couldn’t actually do until now – and allow that which has yet to be metabolized to reveal its intelligence, creativity, and guidance. These feelings, emotional states, and bodily sensations are here now so that they may be integrated into the splendor of your being, at which time they will then be returned to the stars. There is a trade-off, though, and that is that your life will no longer be organized around safety, surety, and the known; there will be no more ground and no more support for conventional egoic process. It is important to recognize the immensity of this.
You are in the unknown, and it is both terrifying and exciting; there is no reference point, but there is a sense that anything is possible. It may be disorienting, confusing, and bewildering here, but one thing is certain: it is only through kindness that you can approach your neurotic organization and defensive strategies. There is no other way. It is by being willing to make the most radical commitment you have ever made and could ever make: to the truth of your experience, exactly as it unfolds, and to receiving whatever appears in the most outrageous holding field of kindness. Nothing need be discarded; nothing is “non-spiritual,” everything is valid, everything is path, everything is God.
You will be asked to remain vulnerable and broken-open forever, but I think it is a trade-off that you are willing to make.