Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taking the perfectly-designed next step into love...

We can be so hard on ourselves in so many ways: why did I choose the same kind of partner yet again, why am I not able to find more meaningful work, why am I acting just like my mother/ father, why have I not become awakened yet, why am I not truly loveable by another. Recent research and clinical reports in the fields of attachment and interpersonal neurobiology have shown us that the way we’ve come to see ourselves, others, and relationships was formed in the extended nervous system prior to the acquisition of language. As little ones, we lived in a non-verbal world, shaping our models of self and other according to our deeply wired need to survive, to receive love, and to be mirrored empathically. 

Fortunately, the realities of neuroplasticity have shown that it is possible to reorganize the way we see ourselves, conceive of this sacred reality, and interact in close relationships. By some unknown grace, it seems that we are wired for love; somehow we are supported by the unseen world to allow love to restructure our lives. While this journey is simple, we know it is not easy. We sense that it demands everything – and this can be scary. But through compassionate self-inquiry, authentic contemplative practice, psychotherapy, and especially through attuned, intimate relationship, the opportunity is there to give ourselves fully to this life and to receive the fruits of a wide open heart and wise, intuitively-guided mind.

It does seem that one thing is required though, and that is tremendous kindness to ourselves – an unconditional friendliness to who and what we are, and a deep respect for the journey from fear to love, for it requires everything we have – and more. Let us nurture and hold ourselves in kindness today, and to appreciate the difficulties and challenges in living a life beyond belief. Let us set aside the spiritual superego, our desperate need to be something other than what we are, and to allow the grace that is always and already here to wash down throughout this sacred body, pouring through these precious senses. And let us behold the miracle of this life as it is, seeing how lucky most of us truly are, and how we could only ever be in the exact right place, to take the perfectly-designed next step into love. 



  1. Thank you Matt. Again and again your posts are inspiring and encouraging me to keep meeting "what is" with an open heart, and with kindness and friendliness towards this little human being I think of as me. Working in a low-status/low-paid job,being rejected by the man I love, seeing my son struggle to find his way in life could so easily lead me to misery and self-hatred, and it does from time to time...but support from wonderful friends, both the ones I know personally, and people like you, Jeff Foster and others, helps me back to my deep knowing, that everything is love, and I don´t need to try to avoid anything...thank you!

  2. ....but what I find is, that as my heart keeps opening, and I feel more and more love for myself, life, others,less judgmental, less certain of anything, paradoxically I don´t (generally) feel more joy, happiness, gratitude for this human life - quite on the contrary. There seems to be more and more sadness wanting to be met, and endless sea of pain, despair, longing, wanting, and I am not particularly happy about being here...Is this what you call "love demands everything" and what Adyashanti refers to as "there is nothing for the ego in awakening"?

    1. Hi dear Agnette, this opening is always endless and always a mystery and we never really know how it will resolve, do we? We want so badly for a resolution, to touch and know directly the preciousness of this life, that we sense is there; this is so natural and so sweet, this longing. What choice do we really have, other than to be so curious about this lived, immediate, embodied experience, to let it reveal itself to you in all its forms.

      Yes, when we make this sort of commitment, we will be asked to look at *everything* which is unresolved within us, everything that has previously been untouched and unexplored. Often, as you are seeing, there are times that we touch directly the love that is there, the uncertainty, feeling less judgmental, but we also touch an immense sadness, grief, pain, and despair.

      There is nothing for the ego in awakening, yes. Chogyam Trungpa calls enlightenment the "greatest disappointment." Somehow, we remain committed to being kind to our experience, this is the most radical practice, in my view, to be unconditionally kind to what arises.

      At times, it can be very helpful to work with another person - a teacher or coach or counselor or therapist - in the exploration of these difficult feelings. I am not sure if this is a possibility for you, Agnete, but it may be another way of being kind to yourself if you are able. There is a lot there and we can always use help from others.

      I really appreciate the depth of the journey you have been on and for sharing with me over these months. We are certainly all in this together, my friend. Lots of love...