Friday, November 30, 2012

Left in the tatters of love… forever

Are we willing to make an *unconditional* commitment to being kind to our immediate, embodied experience? That no matter whether fear appears, shame comes to visit, anxiety arrives for tea, conflict sneaks in the back, unlove shows up unannounced, sadness drowns each and every cell of this precious heart – that these grace-guests will be received in the most luminous, vast field of kindness? Are we willing, somehow, to love ourselves so much that these ones will not be turned away, that they will be met directly, held, allowed in, and touched – for we know that they come showering gifts from beyond. Are we willing to surrender, once and for all, the frenetic spiritual-scramble to organize our lives around feeling good or having certain “powerful” experiences or otherwise staying safe in our spiritualities of experience and specialness? Are we willing to stay unbearably close to this sensual reality, to these tender hearts, allowing *everything* and *everyone* to matter, so deeply that we find ourselves falling excruciatingly in love moment-by-moment - naked, exposed, unresolved, and utterly vulnerable forever? 

Will we, even if for just a moment, set aside our habitual escape-routes of transcendence, our spiritualities that tell us nothing matters and we’re “above it all,” soon to arrive in some landing place of protection, hope, and security – safe from the terrifying reorganization that the movement of love always demands. In place of this transcendence, all that is left is an unbearable intimacy with this life as it is, with this one-and-only utterly precious somatic reality and raging luminous movement of grace that assembled this body, cell by cell. Yes, this grace is sometimes sweet, often terribly fierce, and will demand *everything* from us. We know we will no longer be able to find ground, security, protection, or identity in our spiritual concepts and will be facing very soon all of our fears of intimacy and its inevitable shattering of safety. 

But mostly it will become so excruciatingly clear that if we are crazy enough to give everything for love, if we have no choice, that this heart *will* be broken open, piece by piece, and that it may never, ever, ever, be reassembled again; that even our sacred spiritualities will not be able to neatly collect all of the shards, resolving and weaving them into its fear-fables of awakening. We will be left in tatters forever, feeling everything, unbearably exposed to the movement of love in this world of time and space; even the wind blowing or the sun rising or the birds singing or looking for one precious second into the eyes of the one checking you out at the grocery store may be too much; the utter preciousness of this life may shut this heart, this body, these senses down. There is nothing left to hold onto, nothing left to “achieve” with our spiritualities of specialness; nothing left to get for “me,” but only everything to give. From here it is one endless miracle, moment by moment, and utter wonder as to how love will make use of this body – these eyes to see, these hands to so sweetly touch those around us, these words to speak kindness, and this broken open heart to feel utterly everything. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Through the doorway where stars and galaxies are born…

I was speaking with a friend who was seeing how her relationship with her spiritual life had given her so much - had helped her open her heart and experience the depth of being in so many ways. She was also seeing how spirituality had in subtle ways allowed her to avoid her emotional life, unmet pain from the past, and kept her split off from feelings that she did not want to feel. She was in such a raw place with it all - so grateful on the one hand while knowing that she needed to re-look at everything, that she was being called to something much deeper. I just listened… and felt honored to yet again be able to witness such sweetness, such grief, such pain, such darkness, such raging light. 

As she continued sharing, she started to feel so much grief that she had previously been unaware of, that she had subtly been able to cover over on her quest for awakening. As this grief poured out, it was like a firestorm of grace, all of this unmetabolized material in her psyche and in her heart, unleashed in an an eruption of fierce love. She wasn’t sure she could do this. I told her I knew she could and we would stay close to her experience and go wherever we needed to go together, into the utter darkness and emptiness, into the black-hole inside her heart. I knew she could tolerate a lot more. She remained unsure but somehow kept going…

She saw that despite the powerful spiritual experiences she had been graced with, that they would never be able to fully express in her life, pour through this body and mind in this world of time and space, until she was finally able to see how she used her relationship with spirituality as a way to avoid her pain. She was becoming aware of the many ways she had taken on level upon level of spiritual identity, as an “awakened” person or a person able to access “high” states of consciousness at will – as ways to defend against undigested material from her past, primarily in the areas of intimacy and whether she was actually loveable as she was. She saw so clearly how, some of the time, she used spirituality to fortify a sense of special separateness rather than to transcend and include it. She became deeply angry at herself as this was revealed to her, and then deeply shameful, and then started grieving at the sweet preciousness of it all. 

As she allowed herself to be exposed in this way, somehow she and I were transported into a field of love together, where she was given permission to fall apart, to see so clearly the ways she did not feel loved at the deepest levels. She saw the many ways she did not believe herself to be loveable as she was – and the ways that spirituality had provided a very effective defense against the raging black hole of grace-darkness in the center of her being. She sensed that it was totally possible for her to meet and directly experience these long lost friends of grief, hurt, unloveability, and sadness – and that until this material was metabolized in a deeply somatic way that her “awakening” would always remain on the surface, that it would not be able to penetrate the entirety of her conditioning and somatic-armoring. She could never truly love another – and become a vessel of the most radical grace and sweet love in this world – until this was faced, finally. I just listened… and couldn’t help feeling such love for her and for this precious reality, for this rare opportunity to have a body, to have feelings, to have this human brain and nervous system. My god, what grace. 

As she went deeper and deeper, she came to see that she could meet this sorrow directly, in a really embodied way - to allow it all the way in, and finally come to know it in her body. She couldn’t breathe, she was crying so hard, she was shaking, she was falling apart; she wasn’t sure she could make it. She had memories of being a little girl, looking out the widow, while her mum and dad drove away, of the many ways she was not seen and noticed as the special and precious one that she was. She saw herself crying in her crib, totally alone, just wanting for one sweet second to be touched, to be seen, to be held, to be validated as a living breathing being. But there was no one listening. “Where the fuck was everyone,” she yelled?! In that moment, she hated God, she hated me, she hated herself, she was in total rage against a reality that would allow for this. She saw how she had taken on a lifelong quest to be seen as a person worthy of love, specialness, and preciousness; and how these important developmental needs expressed themselves in her spiritual life. 

I was quiet, empty, we were both really raw; we cried together. We wanted so badly to come to know her experience at the deepest level possible. We wanted to stay close to her somatic reality; there were so many feelings and sensations arising and passing, each an important messenger of held trauma from her past. We wondered if we could hold it all.

Stars, moons, galaxies, nebulas were being born, dancing, dying, moment by moment… the preciousness of this life was becoming overwhelming.

She came to know, at the deepest, cellular, sensation-level of her experience that she would not die if she allowed this in; that the panic and survival-level anxiety she was experiencing could never destroy who she really was; that underneath the sacred stories and narratives that held it all together, was the direct experience of the darkness of not being loved… knocking at the door of her heart and wanting to finally be let in. She saw that she could honor this fear, this sorrow, this grief, because it held a tremendous truth, a key that would unlock her body and her heart like none other. It became clear that she could love herself so deeply that she could travel into these undigested areas of her psyche and soul with a wide-open heart; that it may not be fun or easy or sweet or “spiritual” or “blissful,” but that it was the only way; that the only way out was through; not a flight into some “high” state of consciousness or otherwise transcending her very real human experience. Intimacy not transcendence. Love not fear. Human not divine. Close not far. All… the… way… in. 

She saw so clearly how she had used her spiritual life to avoid pain. She saw so clearly how in her family she so rarely had the experience of being loved, of feeling lovable as she was, without having to adopt some secondary identity-structure. She felt how she was an object in her parents’ reality and was never actually held as a subject in her own right, with her own feelings and ways of organizing her experience. She had memories of trying so hard to be seen as special or unique or worthy – all to receive just a bit of the sweet love her little heart needed to develop – and how she had transferred this very same template onto her spiritual life (as well as onto her intimate relationships). She felt the deep wound of unlove that was there and how she had come to organize her life around avoiding this wound, including through her relationship with her spiritual life and community. She saw so clearly how this undigested trauma had played out in her spiritual life as a way to protect her. 

Together, we felt a tremendous gratitude for this protection, while at the same time acknowledging that she was ready to give everything to shatter into love, to move beyond these protective and previously unconscious mechanisms, entering heart-first into the raw, naked, uncertain, vulnerable, groundless reality of love and all that it demands. Which, we both recognized, is *everything.* Everything must be given away to the Beloved, the destroyer of all separation, of all time, of all identity, of all fables of “full,” “permanent,” and “final” “awakening.” She saw how she had lost a piece of her heart to this trauma of unlove, of not being seen; and how being seen now as a spiritual person, an “awake” person, was yet another way of defending against this primal wound of unlove. 

As she got in touch with these feelings and allowed them to penetrate the deepest levels of her body, psyche, and soul, you could feel the most luminous doorway open in her heart. As she led me through this doorway, we touched the preciousness of this life together, we entered the darkness and the light and the pain and the sweetness of this life, where stars and galaxies were born and died. We were left in awe, at the unbearable magnificence of this human body, these senses, the fragility and sensitivity of this brain, heart, and nervous system, and with a raging gratitude beyond words for the mystery that is this journey, for the love that assembled this Universe, star by star, cell by cell. 

Photo of the Carina Nebula, surrounding our sweetest Milky Way home, holding us in the most sacred field of love...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Love scattering in the four directions...

If we look carefully, we might notice a secret hope within that our spiritualities and our intimate relationships will somehow make us feel better. But is this their actual purpose? When we liberate both our spiritualities and our relationships from the burden we have put on them to produce certain feelings and to remove others, then what? If we no longer organize our lives around feeling certain feelings and avoiding others, then where are we? If we set aside once and for all our habitual desire to be in some “state” other than the one we’re in, what will happen? If we are willing to give up all of our fables and fantasies about “never feeling conflict again” or “never suffering again” or being “fully awakened” or being happy all the time, then where will we find ourselves?

It requires tremendous courage – and an unbearable willingness to plunge into the groundless and unresolvable nature of love - to no longer take refuge in any idea or concept to tell us who we are and what this life is. In this uncertain, ahistorical, acausal heart of reality, there is no longer any confirmation for personal identity. Is that really what we want? Are we crazy? There is no “awakening” here, personal enlightenment, “final” and “permanent” this and “fully” that. There are no longer any landing places for the separate self; none of this has any meaning from the perspective of love. The idea of some “full” or “permanent” state or reality is a construction of fear and is seen to be a projection of the unresolved child within us, wanting to be happy on the playground, fueled by an avalanche of unmet narcissism. As we step outside of constructing a life in this way, things are completely, utterly, and totally out of control. Whether we feel this or that feeling, experience “conflict,” touch “suffering,” feel bliss, have “low” or “high” states –we are no longer organizing our experience in this way. Spiritualities of acquisitiveness no longer hold any meaning; they are exposed for what they are: the movement of fear. What happens when somehow our life is no longer about me and my experiences, but something else? What is this “something else?” If my life is no longer about how to get into some other state of consciousness where I never have to feel anything yucky, what might possibly be next? What will love do with us then?

We want so badly to know what’s going on, to understand why our lives are the way they are, and most importantly when they will be different. We want to find that solid ground, certainty, and resolution to the struggles we’re experiencing in relationships, with our families, in our work lives, in our spirituality. We think that we want to resolve once and for all the ways of love, but we don’t want to give up anything to get there. When the bottom falls out from underneath this life, we see so clearly that there was never any bottom there at all; when by some grace we’re able to allow ourselves to completely and totally fall apart, an intelligence is revealed; a creative life-giving support system of grace that is beyond this world. This new view though offers none of the previous delusions of safety, and can be so terrifying that most of us run back into the safe known structures of our spiritualities of specialness to avoid the uncertainty of this open-ended vast space of love. 

Love is the substance of every appearance in this Universe, and will never ever be resolvable or organizable. Its light is too bright. In one never-to-be-repeated moment, inside the center of your vulnerable breaking heart, that love which holds the stars, planets, sun, and moon in the sky is revealed, that same love that holds you at all times, offering support, guidance, and opportunities that are completely beyond your wildest imagination. And then somehow everything has shifted… this life is no longer about getting to love, resolving our struggles, understanding our lives, getting “awakened” or “free from conflict forever,” or even accepting the way things are…rather, it might become about an endless curiosity, an unprotected opening, and an unbearable surrender to how love is going to express itself through this unique, sacred, and precious life. We are no longer searching for ways to feel better – in our me-oriented spiritualities or in our intimate relationships; organizing our lives in this way has lost its meaning. Our lives are no longer riveted to how to get more things for me me me, driven by fear – more specialness, more experiences, more love, more intimacy, more divine this and that, “higher” this or that, some final, permanent, full this or that – but rather taken over by and exploding out of an immense gratefulness and wonderment around how love will choose to move through us, scattering its sweet essence in the four directions.