I had a decision to make yesterday.
The “one and only” Seth Godin had announced he was doing a live online QnA for the 5000+ students participating in his new SkillShare workshop on Modern Marketing. He’s like a rock star to me right now, so you can imagine my excitement!
The thing is, the live event was on Thursday: the same day local legend, Bonny Boice of BGB Consulting, had graciously agreed to meet with me and share some insights into her path to success.
I could only arrange to do one or the other. The decision was a no-brainer. A face-to-face conversation with a real person ranks miles above a limited online exchange any day of the week.
When we connect with someone directly in genuine conversation, we are transformed in the process. We are able to see ourselves in a way we couldn’t otherwise, especially if we or they are skilled in the art of asking empowering questions. When we engage in an extended dialogue, whether it be with a friend or paid professional, we have the opportunity to gain insight into our inner workings. Those insights can empower us to step more boldly into the fullest possible expression of ourselves.
If you ever reach a point where you feel you’d like some support or companionship on your journey, I do hope you’ll drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.
Our most fundamental relationship is the one we have with our self. Until that relationship is made whole, all of our relationships will suffer, and any step we take towards fulfillment will ultimately be unfulfilling.
This is actually good news. It means that enduring fulfillment is entirely within our control.
Our relationship with our self is reflected back to us through our everyday experiences. Each experience is a teachable moment where we can heal misconceptions, express humble gratitude, dismantle behaviors that no longer serve us, respond rather than react when our “buttons” are pushed, and bring new insight to a conceptually deadened reality.
In the process of healing my most fundamental relationship, I learned invaluable lessons about trust from my innocuous “everyday” activities such as laundry and cleaning. This prepared me for a deeper “relationship detox” as I turned my growing confidence towards increasingly complex relationships. My unwavering commitment to healing gave rise to a deeply rooted sense of personal mastery.
The most powerful teachers in our lives are also the most subtle. What lessons are your everyday experiences waiting to teach you?
The extraordinary relief of not having to look for relief anymore was as sweet as the sting of a junkie’s needle.
We don’t have to know: We only have to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. If we wait until we know something for certain, it can paralyze us from ever taking a particular step. Often the truth of it all is revealed after we have taken a step.
Be present. Take a step. Learn.
When we are learning a new skill, we experience a heightened and enjoyable feeling of aliveness. Our minds believe it is the activity that we are enjoying, but actually it is the feeling of being alive that we enjoy.
This is confirmed when we look at any activity that has become second nature to us. When we first learned a particular activity, there was a sense of achievement or accomplishment. An energy flowed through us and we experienced a deep purr of satisfaction coursing through our veins.
Given enough repetition, however, those same activities now are the very ones we dread doing. We procrastinate them or try to push them off on others, but eventually they fall back to us to make sure they get done and get done “right”. Where is the joy in those activities now?
I promise you, it is still there. We need only shift our focus in order to chip off the crust of those activities we so begrudgedly do in our day. It may seem like you are the same person doing the same activity with the same materials, but I assure you everything about each moment is completely unique and amazing.
Life is in a constant state of flux: physics shows us that. Life is an ocean of energy, which can neither be created nor destroyed, in ceaseless motion and transition. When we think we are doing something, truly we are just facilitating the transformation of energy from one form to another. When we experience the depth of that truth, our focus shifts from what we are doing to how we are doing it.
When we bring fresh and curious eyes to those seemingly life-draining activities, we begin to sense an air of excitement and mystery. As we spend time allowing our energy to merge with the energy of the task at hand, we begin to feel alive again. We come away from those tasks renewed and invigorated, and a window of inspiration begins to open.
But don’t make the mistake of believing it is the activity itself that is the source of that feeling: that joy is simply flowing into the world through you because you are no longer identified as a personal self who is “doing”. It is that experience of presence, of “being”, that is the source of this newly discovered dimension of joy and fulfillment. That experience is available in everything we do.
And when we discover the significance and mystery in those most mundane tasks, our own significance and mystery is revealed. We are the highest expression of life in form. We are the vehicle through which life has the most precision and accuracy to effect change.
And when that change comes from a place of abundance rather than a place of lack, from love rather than fear, everything about the world begins to open to new experiences of wonder and possibility. Here we realize the unique opportunity of learning life’s skill of “being” in each moment. In doing so we tap into the limitless source of joy and aliveness that fuels authentic creativity.
Life will always seem like a trade off until we can open to the fact that even the “bad” stuff is critical to our ultimate fulfillment. Then the concept of “settling” no longer resonates, and all that remains are simple choices to be made and an experience of fulfillment which precedes and permeates each choice.
Too often we exhaust huge amounts of effort and energy condemning the actions of others. That very process not only limits our effectiveness, it also inhibits our experiences of joy. In those moments of judging what someone has done, we are blind to what we are doing right now. Condemnation is often used as a shield of righteousness, but really it is reflecting the fear that is contained in our hearts.
Forgiveness creates the possibility for change. One way to begin is to forgive ourselves for not always having all the answers. In that act, there is a recognition that we have done the best we could with the information we had at the time. We recognize that we are here to learn and grow, and that making mistakes is an essential part of that process. In the willingness to make mistakes, we become willing to accept that others will make mistakes as well, and we become gentler with ourselves.
That gentleness can then extend to those around us in the form of compassion, allowing us to refocus our energy on more healthy and productive activities. Rather than fearfully trying and blame, eradicate, or insulate ourselves from the actions of others, we are now empowered to make authentic changes in our lives from a space of wholeness.
Our lives then begin to reflect the love in our hearts, and there is no fear anywhere that can withstand the intensity of deep compassion. Without someone to fight, there can be no war, and when we stand in judgment of another it is really just a reflection of the battle being waged inside ourselves.
Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves because we love ourselves and because we honor this life that birthed us. Forgiveness does not condone the behaviors and actions of another, it simply frees us to experience the abiding Love that is all forgiving. Forgiveness is a vehicle that delivers us to an act of grace: it does not make us right, it simply allows us the possibility to not always have to be right. From that platform, we are empowered to try things we never have before. Our actions arise in celebration of a life lived on a foundation of love, and we experience the limitless joy that is available to us right now.
Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but not when it comes to the law of love. When we are ready to play in the upper leagues, we need to forget all the rules we have learned while playing in the minors. Those rules only serve to limit our ability to experience an abiding state of love unlike any we have ever felt before, even though it has been available to us since the beginning of time.
In this age-old game that we are only beginning to discover, self-love is revealed as the core principle because all other aspects of authentic intimacy flow from that. When we love and accept and forgive and are compassionate and at peace within ourselves, we experience ourselves as an extension untainted. We realize that this source of all love does not possess anything because it is those things, and the concept of possession simply does not resonate anymore. Fear no longer colors our interactions, and boundary lines begin to disappear.
From here, there is no longer a need to possess anything, least of all another person. Transplanting a flower to a new garden changes the structure of that flower as it begins to integrate the nutrients from the new soil. In the same way, another’s beauty is recognized as an integral part of their surroundings, and so we realize that removing them from a situation or relationship would change the very essence of who that person is. We allow a person to remain where they are out of our absolute abiding love for our self.
In freeing someone to live as they are, we free ourselves in the process. Now when two people genuinely come together, there is a celebration of authentic sharing that occurs. No longer are there power struggles and resentments, just a freedom to dance together. Only then can true communication and intimacy occur, because there is no fear that the other will take advantage of our unguarded self.
Feeling love for someone else may incite potent responses, but loving ourselves as an expression of life propels us far above that mortal love we have all come to believe is the brass ring that we could never quite reach. In this experience, we are free to love someone for who and how they are because we love ourselves for who and how we are. We no longer need them to love us the way we want to be loved, and instead honor the ways in which they feel organically inspired to express their love for us. There is no longer a perceived deficit because we are now overflowing with pure love from the source of all love.
And when we love someone for who they are and value how they show their love for us, they feel free and valued and loved. Possession does not even factor in anymore. If a person is fulfilled in a relationship, then there is nothing in the world that would get them to leave, and if a person we love is not fulfilled, we love ourselves and them enough to let them go because we realize that trying to get them to stay does not serve the higher expression of love.
A promise of love, whether it is one of eternity or just until death, is only a poor cousin to an expression and experience of untainted love in this moment. The ability to love someone for who and how they are is the best indicator as to whether or not a relationship is healthy. We can only gain that skill, though, if we first completely love our self, and we can only completely love our self completely if we grow beyond the limiting concept of possession.
How many years have we spent ineffectively trying to change the things in our lives so we can have some sense of fulfillment or success? We exhaust so much time, effort, and energy on trying to keep those things we want, push away those things we don’t want, and wrangle to get what it is we still feel we need. It is an exercise in futility, but it is the only way we have learned to try and affect change towards cultivating the life we feel is still just beyond our reach.
True change can only come when one stops trying to change the things in their life and instead changes how they interact with those things they already have. Until that time the same patterns of fear and resistance and unhappiness will continue to persist, and regardless of what changes we make externally, we will still end up with the same feelings of dissatisfaction.
Rather than focusing on what we wish was different in our life, try looking differently at those things instead. As ridiculous as it might sound, I have found that my least favorite chores and activities contained within them the fulfillment I had been longing for the whole time: things like dishes and laundry and cleaning and ironing. It is not that those tasks are in and of themselves fulfilling to me: fulfillment arises by opening to and honoring the process of doing them. These chores simply provide the impersonal landscape for my own joy and insight to be liberated.
And when I look back at all the years I resisted those activities, I realize how my dismissing them as mundane and unimportant was an outer reflection of my inner state. I was trying to make myself more important than what was in front of me to do. I paid those chores little mind, and would rush through just to get done, or I would ignore them completely, telling myself that I would do it later (but not really meaning it).
I discovered is that those burdensome activities concealed within them more insight and inspiration then I could even begin to process. It was while folding laundry that I unfolded purpose. It was while detailing the kitchen that the details of how my life would evolve were revealed. It was while cleaning out the garage that my fears and limitations were swept away. It was while sorting through paperwork that my mind was freed of its clutter.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s not that I’m all about cleaning now…anyone who’s been in my house can attest to that. But I certainly recognize now how negative feelings about things I have to do anyway only serve to limit myself. That awareness is all it takes to help me open to those activities and discover what treasures might be hiding inside.
If you are one of those twisted people who love to clean, :) then you will need to find what it is you resist and open to those tasks instead. While there may be limited pleasure in doing what we love, the clues leading us to our absolute and abiding fulfillment are lurking in the depths of those things we tend to resist most.
Our task is not to change our life: we need only stand still and find the joy where we are, and then life will change around us to best reflect our inner state of fulfillment.
When we posses something (even if that “thing” is an experience), it makes it difficult for us to celebrate it or appreciate it for very long because our thoughts of it are soon replaced with desires for something new. We see those things as extensions of who we are, and we believe that somehow having those things makes us more special. The desire for things comes out of a place of lack: before we “had” it, we felt “less than”, and so we believed we needed that thing to fill the void.
In the process of desiring something, we think about it, long for it, dream about it, talk about it, and imagine the fulfillment we will experience upon acquiring it. When we do finally get it, initially there is a sense of relief and a feeling of “specialness”, but eventually that experience fades away.
The structure of desire, however, does not fade away: it remains intact, and so eventually we find something new to focus our desires on. It is important to recognize that the feeling of relief does not come from the thing or experience acquired, it comes from the momentary reprieve of desiring.
The ultimate purpose for all desire is to bring us beyond the need to desire anything. If we can open to this truth, it will lead us to the end of one journey, a journey of fear, and the beginning of another journey, a journey of absolute fulfillment beyond all fear.
Who are we if we are not desiring something? Even if our desires are altruistic, they are still desires. Is it even possible not to desire? I say it is, and when we abide in that experience, we discover possession is just an illusion. We realize we are all things, including the “no-thing” out of which this experience arises. Possession becomes an obsolete notion and is replaced with a simple celebration of this experience of life.
This experience shifts the lens through which we view ourselves and the world we live in. No longer do we seek experiences for what we can get or what we can give, but instead we simply merge with it. We allow life in that moment to shape us and use us to satisfy its desire to better know itself. In each of these innocent interactions, we experience a resounding and unparalleled fulfillment and deepest joy. We no longer seek to find ourselves in the things of this life, and instead we become life seeking to experience itself in things.
Once we recognize the structure of desire, then we are able to hold desires in awareness and recognize how it limits our experience of joy. Those desires then fall away on their own because the ultimate purpose of desire has been fulfilled. The structure of desire becomes dismantled, and our interactions in life are no longer coming from a place of lack, but instead arise from a place of ultimate fulfillment.
I died today. I breathed my last breath. When I breathed in again, I was born into a new life. It is a beautiful life, filled with All Good Things. For some strange reason, though, I seem to be the only one who recognizes the beauty. Everyone I meet projects only heartache and pain and uncertainty. The lives they are leading are driven by fear, and I see the damage it is doing to their bodies: even this is beautiful in its own way. I have such deep compassion for them, and intense love, and most seem to breathe a little easier when I am near. I feel compelled to want to ease their fears, and yet I know that it is only by turning and facing the things that scare them most that will help them die to their fears too: but not before they are ready.
There is excitement in fear. The drama it brings can be exhilarating which may be why we hold on to it for so long. Exhilaration is one reason why we are born to this life in the first place. When we die, as I did, the drama stops, and all that remains is a deep vibration of peace. When we live again, as I am, we radiate light so that others who are ready may find the way into eternity as well.
In my last life, I was a motherless child. There was fear in that experience, but there was peace as well. I knew that I was ultimately alone, which spawned an intangible sense of worthlessness. Because I believed I was not worth having, I understood quite simply why no one would want me around once they had gotten what they came for.
But now, I am that truth. I am in fact not worth having, so instead I am being. Truly no thing can really have any thing, because it all manifests from the singular “no-thing” that is the source of all things. We cannot have any thing, because that which gives rise to this illusion of “having” already has us. It is us, and it is experiencing itself through us. It is what we are each born out of with every breath we take. It is our eternal mother and father, and now that I know the truth of my origin, I am that too.
Knowing is being, and being is peace. Compassion and joy and fulfillment and gratitude and love are all the flavors of the rainbow that permeate experience. Sadness and longing and desire and fear are here too, but they are the sprinkles on top that accent the glory, as do pleasure and pain. These are All Good Things, and these too shall pass. It is in trying to possess them or repel them that creates suffering and perpetuates the illusion that we need to possess or repel them in the first place.
That which does not pass is who we are. When we know that, we become the structure through which all things pass. Every thing changes, but our essence is the “no-thing” that remains unchanged by experience.
So when it is your time to die, do not be afraid. Step boldly into that experience and immerse yourself in the truth that essence can never die. It is in that experience of death that we are released from our fears and discover the deeply fulfilling joy of being life.
When we tap into the eternal truth beyond all relative truths, there is an experience of deep peace. There is a “knowing” beyond any level of thought that transforms how we see ourselves in relation to the rest of life. If we experience that truth deep enough, all relational references merge and all that remains is the knowing itself.
But our conditioned minds do not allow us to linger in that experience very long, and we find ourselves back among mortals. That experience has changed us, however, in a very essential way. As we go about our daily activities, instead of resistance, which is a tool we have learned to use in order to guard ourselves from our deepest fear, we bring peace and joy to even the simplest chores.
Things that used to grate on our nerves now serve as openers, guiding us to ever deepening levels of peace. They provide us with opportunities to practice acceptance and discover gratitude, and in doing so, we open ever wider to life and to the truth that sustains it.
We come to trust ourselves in a whole new way. We are able to speak with more certainty because we trust our own words more completely than we did before. We are able to extend this new dimension of trust to those around us because in knowing the truth, we are no longer at the whim or mercy of another’s illusions.
And as we open to life in this way, open to receive all the gifts we have been given, we are able to ask those questions that have plagued us our whole lives: What is my purpose? Why am I here? How can I serve? What should I do? And because we are open, we are able to receive the answers. Those inspired answers not only bring peace, but they also bring a clarity and focus as they illuminate where and how we can best focus intent.
We become like a magnifying glass, and each opportunity we meet and open to helps us adjust the angle of the lens so that we can most effectively focus that pure light of consciousness in a way that it burns through the illusions that give rise to suffering. In serving in this way, we experience more joy and fulfillment than we ever imagined was possible.
And because our activities now arise from pure creative intent, we are infused with all the energy necessary to meet the challenges we face. We come away from tasks energized instead of exhausted, and we inspire others to seek the same drive and purpose within themselves.
Rather than resist the burdensome tasks in your day, use those simple tasks to practice opening to life. Take fifteen minutes a day and surrender internally to the activities that draw your attention rather than putting them off for another time. In opening to them, you will find the joy contained within them, and a healing will occur. This healing brings gratitude, and opens you wider to receive those answers you seek, often in the most unlikely of moments.
Growing up, our minds became conditioned to expect things from life and from others. And while on the surface we believe those expectations can and should be met, subconsciously we fear that they will not. In this way, we become unwitting participants in creating that which we fear, because the more we are attached to certain expectations, the more we will focus on them and find the ways they are not being met.
This makes us feel very unsettled, and we are compelled to make it known that certain needs and expectations are not being met, only to find there is resistance and accusations of needs and expectations that we are apparently not meeting. It can be a vicious cycle that can deteriorate our relationships.
Ultimately what we are expecting is that the other person will be able to love us in a way that no other person has before and therefore we will experience the fulfillment of true connectedness. We expect that other person to want to love us so much that they sacrifice their own needs and expectations for us, and in doing that, our fulfillment becomes their fulfillment.
But when both people are expecting the same thing, a power struggle is sure to ensue. And the most difficult thing to realize is that regardless of how hard that other person tries to meet those expectations, our fear that they won’t will continue to undermine their efforts by focusing on all the ways that they don’t, and the power struggle will persist until there is either a treaty reached or the relationship is dissolved.
But if we are able to genuinely shift our expectations of our relationships, then it is possible to find fulfillment without having to continue to fight for what we want or switch one relationship to the next. If we can realize that our relationships are here to make us conscious instead of happy, then we can tap into the fulfillment available in each relationship we have.
As long as there is some expectation or desired outcome, then we are missing the joy concealed in our interactions. When we interact with another, often judgments or unmet needs are revealed. Instead of looking to the other person to adjust their behavior, we can begin to realize that this is just the unconsciousness within ourselves surfacing. When we become aware that the only purpose of this unconsciousness is to limit ourselves and our experience of life, we are able to release those judgments and needs that keep us from finding fulfillment.
Our relationships are simply mirrors reflecting our true self back to us. Until we can get past the idea that the other person is the cause of the dissatisfaction, then we will continually be unfulfilled in our relationships to some extent or another. But when we can just open to the fact that their being in our life and offering us that reflection is an act of genuine love, then we are able to find the love available in every interaction within the healing that occurs each time any unconsciousness surfaces.
This is true connectedness: to be able to be the space for the other person without judgment or expectation. To allow each person to play out their own unconscious fears and drama without getting mixed up in it. When we can set aside our own reactions, or recognize that our reactions to their behaviors are our own unconsciousness, then we are able to find the love woven into each connection as well as each disconnection.
Our awareness that another’s drama has everything to do with their own past conditioning and nothing to do with us allows us to love them unconditionally. And when the other is able to recognize our acting as the space for their unconsciousness as the ultimate act of love rather than a disconnection, there is a healing that occurs within themselves, and a connectedness is experienced beyond anything that had been felt through any more traditional or physical acts of love.
The human mind is indeed a crowning achievement of creative intent. As with any tool, though, if certain functions are used in excess of their intended purpose and to the exclusion of other functions, the entire tool can become irreparably damaged long before its otherwise optimal lifespan.
One overused function of the human mind is its ability to isolate a situation and find something undesirable in it. To resist “what is” is to resist life. In your willingness to accept a situation, you allow life to live through you. You release identification with the limited mind-made entity that wants its way and you open to an experience of perfection.
Hope is one form of nonacceptance. It implies that there is some part of us that cannot accept the way something is in this moment, and that if it could change it would make our experience of life better in some way.
To hope that something will be different in the future makes about as much sense as hoping that something that has already happened won’t. In its overuse, hope has become a conditioned pattern of the mind. As long as we are subject to that conditioning, we are unable to recognize the perfection in this moment. This drains us of energy to respond appropriately, and instead we continue to react in this moment according to those conditioned patterns of behavior. It’s that conditioning that is the ultimate cause of our unhappiness, because it results in a limited experience of life.
The future is happening right now. As long as we are hopeful for some specific future, we are denying the future as it is presenting itself in this moment. When we hope, we reinforce that pattern of hoping, and even when we get what we had hoped for, we will not be able to fully appreciate it for very long because our mind will just find something else it is unsatisfied with that it hopes will change because that is all it is trained to do.
Another consequence of overusing hope is that it strengthens our limited, and often unhappy, mind-made self. When we stop hoping, we release the energy that is trapped inside us and instead allow it to flow through us. Hope can be an indication of limited perspective, and the thing that is truly being limited most is you.
That’s not to say we can’t ever hope for anything ever, it just means that we need to stop for a while until we have experienced the truth of the perfection of this moment as it is without needing anything to be different. Until we can realize that the consequence of hope is to support the false idea that we are an exclusively separate being, then we should instead try and use hope as our cue to awaken to the truth. It becomes like a homing signal: whenever you become aware that you are hoping, remind yourself that “all is as it should be”, and perhaps express gratitude for whatever it was that served as your cue to awaken.
It’s not wrong to hope, but until we can tap into the fact that the true purpose for hope is to help us awaken, we will continue to be blinded to the complete perfection of this moment and of ourselves within this moment. When we do awaken, we no longer live at the mercy of hoping for change, and it becomes but one function of our now fully functional mind. Life is unlimited, and as expressions of that life, we are unlimited as well. When we let go of hope, we become more fully alive. When we hope less, we are free to live more.
As a species in this contemporary society, we are afforded many luxuries that our ancestors could have never dreamed of. In spite of these advances in quality of life, as a culture we remain largely unfulfilled, always seeking outside ourselves for an amazing experience of life.
In many ways, our quest for fulfillment is mind-made, and arises out of the luxuries we take for granted in these easy times we live in. And while they don’t seem so easy on the surface, if you take a look at centuries past you can see how so many of our apparent complications are truly man-made struggles of convenience.
Our lives are not about mere survival any more; they are very much about achievement or accumulation. And the thing we are striving to achieve more than anything is fulfillment and peace of mind. But because we have so much free time available to reflect upon our lot in life, we continually pick up on ways we are not fulfilled in this moment while completely dismissing all the ways in which we are. We pick up on feelings of dis-ease inside of us, and then we set about making up stories of why it’s there and what we need to do about it.
Rather than seeing that the solution lies within ourselves, we look to the situations we are in and the people in our lives. Though this filter of “problem seeking”, we attribute our unhappiness to those things. In this way, we often create crisis situations even where there isn’t one.
And because our bodies cannot tell the difference between a thought and an actual situation, they react as if there really is some immediate threat. In this way, energy becomes trapped inside our bodies in our constant states of tension and stress. This can often create a true crisis situation in the form of physical disease or illness.
Those more physical symptoms of crisis often serve as a wake up call, and with this new set of parameters, people often quickly and dramatically change the way they see themselves and the world around them. Some rise above all negativity and fall into the grace and beauty and wonder of the world around them. In spite of all the challenges to survive that they now face, they are in so many ways more free and alive than when they only had mental complications rather than physical complications.
Without an authentic crisis, and without someone telling us there is another alternative, there is nothing driving us to know ourselves at our deepest level. Instead, we continue to look outside ourselves for fulfillment, and we point to how others are not doing what we believe they should do, believing that is the reason why we are unsettled and unfulfilled.
Until we can tap into our being and experience our limitlessness, this feeling of dis-ease will persist. In lieu of authentic crisis, our minds create complications where there otherwise aren’t any. This is by design, because until awareness of our eternal nature becomes mainstream, we need crisis in order to disidentify from the thoughts that limit our being in this world.
In these relatively comfortable times, our lives can sometimes seem unsatisfying and shallow. This is our mind creating crisis where there isn’t one in order to wake us up to this amazing experience of life. It is nothing to fear, and through recognizing it as a gift, we are able to embrace it and discover the fulfillment that has been available inside ourselves all along.
In our various stages of growth, we strive and hope and yearn to create the life we believe will provide us with the fulfillment we feel we are deserving of. Often things do not work out as we had planned or hoped, and in our efforts to figure out what it is that went wrong, we often blame others or life or our own inexperience. We set about making changes, but eventually after enough trial and error, we can begin to believe that our apparent failings in life are nothing more than a monument to our own worthlessness.
In these darkest moments, what is it that keeps us hanging on to life? Often it is our fear of how it might affect a person in our lives: a parent or a child or another who is equally tied to us but yet unaware of our despair. These are people who, although we will suffer to live another day for them, we will not reach out to for help. Somehow, in spite of how alone and useless and pointless we may feel, if we believe that our absolute absence would be harmful to even just one person, we somehow find the strength to continue. We do this knowing they will never understand the sacrifice we have made for them in living.
And while we are hanging on to those threads of mattering at least that much to just one person, there is someone far more significant who we absolutely matter to that we have completely overlooked. That person is being masked by the story of our not mattering. That person is trapped inside a cell of expectations and desires. That person is our authentic self.
And it’s not even appropriate to say that our authentic self is masked or trapped, it is just experiencing the absolute power and limitation of thought. Regardless of how it looks and feels on the surface, this is an essential, valuable, and purposeful stage in our growth. This is a large part of why we have even come into this world of form: to experience these limitations so we can better celebrate our limitlessness. And when we can experience that limitlessness while in form by awakening from those limiting hurts of the past, this brings in a whole new dimension to the celebration.
In those moments of deepest despair, we need to open to the realization that it is not our body that has to die to be released from these stories of hurt we have collected, whether they are true or not. Those human stories of hurt have worn us thin, and that is when our being has the best opportunity to try to break free. It tells us to just let go, to stop, to die, but with only a conventional understanding of what those words mean, we lose ourselves in thoughts of mortal death.
Everything has a purpose, even darkness. The age-old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn” takes on new meaning when you can learn that by embracing and welcoming that darkness into your heart instead of fearing or resisting it, you are able to discover the absolute beauty of the light that it conceals.
It is not you, in your essence, who is alone and useless and pointless: it is the mind-made story of who you believe you are that is all those things. And when you can get inside those limiting beliefs, you find that they were actually gifts leading you to discover the truth that in your essence, you are pure and beautiful and untouched by any of those stories or experiences of pain and hurt.
Your spirit, your authentic self, your awareness of who you are beyond all limitations of thought, is now free to be in this world as an expression of the love that it recognizes in all situations. Through expressing this love, you are able to create and experience a truly fulfilling life beyond any story of the one you believed you were deserving of.
There are many obvious advantages to belonging to the human species. One seemingly not so desirable trait is our insatiable longing. We hunger and ache for those things that seem out of our reach. They distract us from whatever else is going on, and undermine our efforts to best achieve our goals. This longing is primarily the work of our ego: our mind-made entity that we mistakenly believe is the essence of our true self.
It is part of the human conditioning that masks our being. We wish for those things we don’t have, and then because “wanting” is all our minds are trained to do, when we get those things it’s not long before we are wishing for something new. It’s just a cycle, and one that can be overcome through a practice of awareness. And in breaking free of that conditioning, extraneous longing in service to ego falls away, leaving us with a clear understanding of where we need to focus our energy on.
Certainly our purpose as humans isn’t to have every worldly thing we want. In letting go of longing, we open to the possibility of discovering our authentic purpose in life. When we are graced with this truth, honoring and serving that truth becomes our primary desire. We have a much clearer understanding of those individual wants or needs that do not serve our higher purpose, and we are able to more easily let go of those distractions to keep our energy available for more purposeful activities.
And yet even in this higher state of awareness, there can still be some element of desire that distracts us from time to time. Longing can be beautiful if it is experienced from this higher state of awareness because we are no longer lost in identification with it. When something we want is seen as a conflict with our higher purpose, we are free to indulge in this bittersweet longing from time to time. No longer at the mercy of it, we are able to see that even longing has a purpose in service to our higher self: it is the vehicle through which we are able to genuinely treasure all we have.
So it would seem that part of belonging to the human species is to be-longing. When we can open to the beauty of it, it becomes a gift instead of a burden. It drives us now to fulfillment instead of unhappiness. As long as we are feeling there is some fulfillment in the world that we haven’t yet experienced, we are rendered helpless to experience the fulfillment we already possess within ourselves. Until we can tap into that experience of fulfillment, our lives will be lived in service to unhappiness.
Rather than expend all our efforts trying to get what it is that you want, use that sense of longing as a way of tapping into the fulfillment that is available Now. It is not necessary to suspend wanting indefinitely, just long enough until you experience the truth of your purpose beyond any of those persistent worldly desires. You will know you are there when, for a time, you do not want or need anything to be different than it is in that moment.
Because wanting is a conditioned human behavior, you can rest assured that it won’t take long for those wants to surface again. Through awareness, you get better at watching them in order to make sure they are not steering you off your true path. Then, even when there is longing, there is also a deep experience of peace. After all, that is really what it is that we, as humans, genuinely hunger and ache for most.
When we look back upon our childhood, we probably recall moments of pure simplicity where we were just “being” without any worries. We experienced freedom as we explored the world around us, and because we lacked the ability to predict the consequences of our actions, our curiosity was not stifled by fear of “what might happen”. We were more identified with our “being” aspect than we were with our “human” aspect”, and as such we had no way of truly understanding or appreciating that special quality in our lives. At best, we recall a sense of deep joy in those most eternal moments.
But slowly, gradually, that eternal freedom to just “be” was suppressed. More and more as impulses would arise, our internal judge would tell us we shouldn’t do certain things for whatever reason. That mind-made entity had been passively “collecting” ideas about ourselves as a human individual in a world of individuals, and was beginning to assert itself by pretending to be the authority on how we could best get our needs met: needs to be liked or successful or happy or whatever it was which that entity believed held an experience of fulfillment.
It is that entity that believes “if I do this-and-that and have this-and-that and avoid this-and-that, then I will be (happy, successful, liked, etc)”. This is a necessary stage in our growth and maturity, but in our complete identification with this mind-made idyllic “human”, we are unable to acknowledge and express our eternal “being”. When we can disidentify with that mind-made judge and jury, our being can shine through again, and we can begin to integrate the two through cultivating genuine balance in our lives.
As I explored in another post, “Regaining Balance“, it’s not about having enough “me-time” to offset all those other things that “judge” tells us we have to do, it’s about balancing “being” and “human”. As long as we believe that “me” is exclusively human, anything we do to try and indulge and celebrate “me” will only be partly successful. There may be some exhilarating experiences, but they will be short lived and only serve to make other things stand out as less desirable or even burdensome. In that way, any sense of aliveness will be mitigated by a sense of eventually having to return to our more deadened “reality”, and that perspective steals some of the joy we might otherwise have experienced if we knew that joy is available to us in every reality.
To achieve balance, some people try to bring in elements of yoga or meditation or worship. While this can be effective to some extent, as long as those expressions of our eternal being are isolated and seen as rewards or indulgences, they are less effective than if we are able to bring in moments of recognizing our beingness throughout our day. There are many ways of doing this, like by creating gaps in our streams of thoughts and by embodying gratitude for various things in our life, and when we can bring in enough of those moments into our everyday lives we discover a level of fulfillment we will never find through meeting our human needs alone.
Ultimately, our humanity is one aspect of this experience of life. When we believe it is the only aspect, it limits our ability to experience true fulfillment. While this human form has a clear beginning and end, it is our ability to recognize our “being” that liberates us to really explore what it means to be human. Our “being” is eternal, and as such has no beginning or end. It is not limited by concepts of “should” and “shouldn’t” or “gain” and “loss”. In rising above these mind-made judgments, we realize that nothing that matters can ever be lost. We can now know beyond any doubt what it is we have to do to best honor this experience of life, and that certainty brings with it that deep sense of peace and joy and fulfillment that we had been seeking all along.
Our children can stress us in ways no other person can. They frustrate us and interrupt our thoughts and create messes that we as parents feel an obligation and responsibility for. But really, they are just innocence personified. They are not bound by all the limiting thoughts and fears that we have as adults. They are closer to the pure source of life because they are not subject to the relentless stream of thoughts about past and future. They are “now” in a way that can at times baffle us adults.
Children naturally live their early lives in an eternal state of being. In their innocence, they are more open, and more inclined to act upon impulses with no real way to anticipate the results. But where do those impulses come from? Who am I to say which ones they should express and which ones they should stifle? They are not conditioned in the ways of society, so they act from pure inspiration.
Often times we try to bring them out of that experience of eternity in an effort to make them feel the gravity of what they have done and learn why it is “bad” or “wrong” or “inappropriate”. If the purpose for that lesson is to try to keep them safe, like teaching them not to run into the street, that’s one thing. But if the purpose is to make them conform to some personal preference or to get them to adhere to a conditioned standard of behavior, it may be best at times to let them be who they are and figure out for themselves when they are ready what works for them and what doesn‘t. Rather than stifle their spirit, allow that spirit the opportunity to experience the truth of some lessons for themselves.
Developmentally, they don’t possess the ability to look ahead and reason the consequences of their behavior, so we take that thankless job upon ourselves to try and teach them that skill. It never even occurs to us that they will learn many of those things directly when they are ready, and that trying to teach them any sooner may not only be doing them a great disservice, but it is definitely the source of so much of our own stress and frustration.
As a parent, it is also sometimes necessary to set aside our dreams for a time while we make room for our children’s dreams to take root. Sometimes those dreams of ours are big, like wanting to travel extensively, and sometimes they are small, like needing to get something finished or just sit peacefully at the end of a day. Along the journey there are also changes we are required to make in our lives in order to support their immense needs. We make those changes without pause or hesitation, or even consideration of our own needs until our children are settled once again.
As our children trigger our frustrations and disrupt our peace, we have the opportunity to either school them in the ways of judgment and etiquette or learn to open beyond our own conditioning. We can choose to exert our power and will over them, or we can take their lead and expand our awareness of all the ways our thoughts and judgments limit our being and steal our joy.
It is through these experiences of parenthood that we learn the true power and depth of unconditional love.
Our children stretch us in ways no other person can, in ways we wouldn’t do for anyone else, and we do it knowing they can’t possibly comprehend the significance of those sacrifices we make. Regardless of how many times they mess up, we continue to open our hearts to them so that they may find strength to try again. Only by becoming parents themselves will they ever be able to begin to understand the depths of our love and the sacrifices we made in celebration of their being in this world. It is through this celebration of their being that we open to the possibility of learning how to celebrate our own.
As adults, we have the opportunity to rewrite the story of the lives that we, as children, learned to expect or desire. But so often when we try, the same issues that troubled us before manifest again in our new situations. This is the case when the changes we make on based on what we have as well as what it is we perceive that we don’t have. From this place of lack, regardless of how many times we change our surroundings, we will always manifest some level of discontent.
But when we can shift our focus from what it is we have to how we are in each situation, we open to the possibility of real change. We can never find the fulfillment that we are looking for as long as we continually look to a new or different situations to provide that for us. We can only find it when we open to the fulfillment is all around us in this moment. Once there, it may not even be necessary to change our surroundings, but if changes are necessary or desired, they come from a place of inspiration and so are backed by the support of creative intent.
Seeking change by changing our surroundings holds valuable lessons for us and is a necessary part of our evolution. But until we can see that manner of thinking as simply a reflection of a limited, conditioned concept of ourselves and of the world around us, we will remain stunted, destined to repeat those same patterns. Until we can change that conditioning, we will continually recreate our unhappiness in our quest to satisfy the desires of our conceptual identity.
By opening to what is available to us now, we begin to break down those conditioned patterns. When we meet our current situation face to face and find gratitude for what we have, it becomes possible for the first time to affect real change that will support our authentic selves. No longer bound by the confines of fear and judgment, we embody a compassionate presence allowing things and people to be as they are.
Many of the changes that support our true self will unfold organically around us, though other changes may require direct action on our part. From a place of abundance and awareness, we are able to discover the lessons contained in the things we have collected to that point in our lives. As those lessons are learned, some things fall away easily back into the world, while other things continue to challenge us to grow ever deeper in our awareness.
Those things that continue to cause us some level of frustration or suffering are the true gems in this experience of life. By turning away from them, we only prolong our opportunity to finally grow beyond our need to be limited by them. And while there are instances when it is absolutely appropriate to turn away, recognizing that it is a choice of postponement rather than an escape empowers us to step boldly onto our new path. It may simply be the case that we have other lessons to learn in order to acquire the skill set necessary to face that deepest level of conditioning and limitation.
As eternal beings, we are unlimited. In our humanity, we experience all sorts of limitations. Learning the lessons contained within those limitations is a primary reason for this experience. In that way, our spirit is able to grow more deeply aware of its limitlessness. When we shift how we look at life from a quest to have desirable experiences to a desire to experience our quest, we discover the fulfillment in the lessons that are available to us in each moment.