There is a stage in the journey where “want” and “need” cease to resonate. That space inside that was occupied with so much longing, urgency and dissatisfaction then overflows with the awareness and gratitude of “being”. There is a sweet sense of liberation as the mind is freed up from “trying to figure it all out” and experiences a deep sense of appreciation for how it all is in this moment.
The mind can never know all that is at work in a scene. And since finding and solving mysteries has consumed so much of its purpose to this point, it’s very challenging to turn that function off for a while. Where there is no apparent problem, the mind is an expert at infusing even innocuous things with a troubling sense of restlessness. That “not knowing” drives a constant feeling of dis-ease, which in turn drives a constant feeling of wanting to know more: wanting and needing to fix what is perceived to be broken.
Suspending that cycle just long enough creates a space, an opening, allowing for the discovery of absolute truth behind all the relative ones. Within that calm, there comes a realization that all the implications of an action can never be grasped by the mind, and so resistance falls away as the mind releases limiting judgments of good and bad in favor of honoring the higher good that can never be known.
This deep realization of truth brings with it a sense of peace and acceptance. It is in this space where the mind can move beyond the program of fragmentation and discover the essential joy of being. In this experience of wholenss, the fractured mind is healed giving rise to purposeful actions. Those actions, because they are in direct alignment with creative intent, are far more effective at cultivating fulfillment than any action that arose from “want” or “need”.
Ultimately nothing we can do will ever make any difference in this world, but our state of being while we’re doing those things makes all the difference in the world. Our state of being is ultimately the only thing we are, or can, be responsible for. Every action is just a way of shifting energy from one form to another. Many of us have been led to believe that the end goal is to accumulate the most and the nicest forms of energy, but if that’s our primary driver, ultimately we are operating on a very base level of existence and probably unaware that we even have choice to carry ourselves any other way.
It’s time to evolve beyond “more and better” into the space of “sacred and responsible”. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t have things: what you choose to have or don’t have is a completely personal choice and makes no real difference in the world of things. It is the intent behind obtaining or doing those things that I am pointing to.
If an acquisition or activity celebrates the joy of being and is not designed to enhance a “sense of self”, then that is an expression of love: the only true currency of universal intent. If there’s something you want because you feel it adds to your sense of self, then that is an expression of lack. What an intention of lack says to the eternal host is that you do not feel you have enough or are enough: that you need “something else” to make you special.
That intention of “lack” is nothing more than the “energy that you are” vibrating and resonating at a low frequency, and that frequency says more about you than any acquisition or accomplishment ever could. Mind you, “low” does not denote good or bad: it just is as it is, just as vibrating at higher frequencies is not “better”.
That resonant frequency is what signifies our placement along the spectrum of evolution. It leads us to experience life in different ways than we do at other frequencies, because we are tuned in to those lessons designed to support and encourage our evolution at that stage. And truly, in any given space of time (day, week, month, etc), those frequencies can rise and fall even among those who are deeply aware of their eternal nature.
Your energy vibration is very much like a musical instrument. With practice, you can play the song more gracefully and more precisely than you can without practice. How much you practice is completely up to you depending on your level of interest in mastering that instrument. For some, it’s enough to simply practice in moderation so they are still available to experience other plays of form. For others, practicing becomes their greatest indulgence.
The biggest obstacle along this spectrum is simply becoming aware that you are playing an instrument at all. Awareness is essential in order to attain even a basic mastery of it, and without it your experience will be similar to that of a “Nowhere Man” (The Beatles, 1965). So many people go about their day unaware that they are even contributing to this larger orchestra. Life responds by sending them trials in an attempt to get their attention, but if they’re not aware it’s speaking to them, how does one know to listen? Without that awareness, they will continue to operate at that base level of consciousness, but even that is as it should be. Eventually they will awaken, though it may not come until their release from form.
Our intention behind our thoughts and actions is what determines our experience in form. Depending on the frequency, the universe will respond accordingly by bringing us those experiences we need at that stage of evolution allowing us to tap into our latent skills and abilities. Practicing is nothing more than learning how to listen to life. With love as the primary driver of our actions, the limited joy of “having” is replaced by the limitless joy of “doing”.
The eternal structure of life is what allows all the fleeting content, made real through our perceptions and interpretations, to be here. All of life passes through one fraction of a moment that is so small it is immeasurable. And if you can bring your conscious awareness into that infinitesimally small moment of time, you will experience a vast expansion as you realize the enormity of it. What you discover is that this one immeasurable moment in which all of life unfolds is actually all of eternity.
This eternal structure holds all the content we perceive in our lives. Many live their lives under the illusion that time is real, and from that limited perspective many things are perceived as threatening. But as it turns out, time is just a mind-made construct that helps us organize and categorize and examine life, but in it’s essence has no reality of its own. Time seems real to us because we are just so busy thinking about past and future that we have no awareness of this most sacred present moment.
And truly, we can never know the present moment. The moment this moment rises to the level of thought, it’s already a different moment (in terms of content) than it was before. This fact confounds us, and seems irrelevant and unuseful, so we disregard it in lieu of more interesting things that we can know. These things make up the content of our lives. It’s this content that is ever-changing and gives rise to fear of loss.
But in terms of structure, it is and always will be this one eternal moment. As the saying goes: “You can never step into the same stream twice”. What it doesn’t speak to is the structure of the intangible, unknowable web of energy that allows that stream to be there or that allows you to believe you are here stepping in it. You, as content, will perish one day, but you, as life, will be eternally unfolding in this present moment.
If you are stuck in a place where you only believe what you can directly know, you are only going to know very little about life. But if you can throw open those doors of limiting thought, you will discover a deeper dimension to that life as well as your absolutely critical connection to it. You find yourself in a space of endless time, and the need to “hurry up and finish” and the fears of “getting it wrong” just don’t resonate anymore. All of a sudden you are free to be your authentic self in a way you just couldn’t before.
Eckhart Tolle reminds us “There is never a time when it wasn’t now”. It’s only when we get caught in the illusion that we are separate from this eternal life that we feel limited by time. Awareness is the only way to experience the truth of the vastness of this moment. The life that you are is unfolding here in this pure and perfect moment, and will continue to unfold even when the “you” that you think you are isn’t here anymore.
When we tap into the truth that in our essence we are inseparable from the very essence of life, we are filled with a sense of awe as we begin to explore all the many ways we have manifested. We are filled with compassion for all those who are still locked in the prison of their conceptualized, time-based realities. We experience a love so deep and so pure that all previous experiences of love just pale in comparison. Fear falls away, freeing us to live and celebrate this unique expression of life in a way we just couldn’t before. Welcome to heaven: please leave your baggage at the door.
The human mind is a truly amazing feat of life. Through it, our species has produced some incredible achievements as well as some horrific devastations. Advances in biology, technology, earth and space science, humanity, psychology, architecture (to name a few) are being realized at a pace more rapid than has ever been seen before. We stretch the boundaries of the limitations of our minds, but only to a point, and then any further concepts become a leap of faith that we either choose to believe or not.
The mind cannot easily wrap itself around what it cannot perceive, though it is a master of inference. The mind is much more satisfied when it receives information that can be categorized and classified and put into the larger context of the construct that it filters all of life’s experiences through.
Beginning in infancy, the mind perceives an experience though the senses, and now it has its first data point. It labels it as good, bad, or indifferent (for now), then sets out looking for another experience. As we grow, this process continues until it has a model that it feels adequately represents reality. Anything it already knows is quickly dismissed in favor of experiences it hasn’t had yet, but typically only to the point where those experiences aren’t perceived as threatening to the life that is experiencing it.
Based on the options you feel are available and achievable, you craft an idea of the life you want to create for yourself. Mind you, to a large extent, most of this process takes place before you are even out of your teen years. Once that idea is formed, however, you set about looking ways to make that dream a reality.
You’re so focused on the end goal, however, that as you check off those things on your list you don’t stop long enough to consider whether those original assumptions of life still hold true. At some point, you probably find you have much of what you set out to get, but something just doesn’t feel quite right about it.
You mind begins to feel unsettled. It wants more experiences. It looks at the things around it that once brought it a sense of accomplishment or specialness, but now can only see them as unfulfilled promises of satisfaction. It begins making changes: job, house, furniture, spouse. Those changes bring satisfaction for a while, but continuing to change these major things threatens other areas of your life. Now you either resign yourself to whatever life you have, or you can continue to make changes in spite of the instability they cause.
But there’s another option that is beyond the minds ability to offer as a solution. It’s like a bug in the software: The mind will continue to think it must be a problem with the input rather than a flaw in its original programming. There is a patch for that bug, though, and all it takes to upload it is for you to open yourself up to experiencing the unknowable. In that experience of truth, you come to a place of “knowing” that lies beyond the minds ability to know.
Because the mind operates on the basis of differentiation and assimilation, it is incapable of sensing its absolute connectedness to the web of energy that forms the true basis of reality. Because it’s intangible, as well as omnipresent, the mind can’t know it. Anything the mind can’t know is disregarded for things it can know, and anything that is commonplace is disregarded for things that stand out as extraordinary. But this field of energy which pulses our form based reality into existence, however common and however unknowable, is nonetheless there, and it is not afraid.
You can only sense it though, and once you sense it, you come to know that as you. From there, you begin to sense it in the things around you, as well as in the space that allows those things and you to be here. Then when you turn to look again at those things in your life that seemed so ordinary, you will be able to experience their true depth and beauty as if for the first time, every time you experience them. That is where true fulfillment is found: it is the essence of the life that you are.
When we believe a thing to be true, like “I am a woman” or “I am forty” or “one plus one equals two”, those truths set us up to build limiting stories around those truths. When we think we know the truth about something, we stop looking at it and start looking at the nature of everything else in relation to it. Eventually, things around that truth shift and change, and eventually even those truths shift and change. When I was five, I held the truth that I was a girl. Much of the time when I talk about myself to this day, I still refer to myself as “just a girl”, even though at other times I identify myself as a woman. Which is true? More importantly, how does that truth help or hurt me?
I would offer that so many of the things that we hold as truth are really only beliefs. Beliefs shift and change over time and are dependent upon perspective and circumstance and depth of knowledge about that topic. The truth that I am forty is really just a belief, because every split second I’m not the same biological age that I was before. One plus one is generally equal to two, but I can also say one group of ten plus one group of ten equals two groups of ten OR it can equal twenty depending on perspective and purpose.
Beliefs can be useful and helpful to us, or they can shake us to our foundation. A belief, if held strongly enough, can be the key to our ultimate demise. When that belief is shown to be false, when we had so much riding on that belief, it can shatter our trust in ourselves and bring the whole illusion of life that we have built up and around that belief crashing to the ground.
So is there really any truth? I say there is, though it’s not a truth that can understand through the mind. This truth is one that can only be grasped by direct experience, and when we do, we are released from all the other fragile truths that have been undermining our efforts in life. When we merge with this truth, we are no longer threatened if someone else doesn’t believe it too, and so we are better able to experience this truth even in volatile situations from a platform of peace.
Even this truth, though, if held onto too tightly, can become a barrier to peace. If we believe we know this truth, and build our lives upon it, it can still all come crashing down. To experience this truth is to realize that we must always reexperience this truth: to hold it loosely and allow it to change and grow and shrink based on this situation. And as it does, so do we. Our experience of life shifts from one of supporting and defending our beliefs to one of experiencing the truth of this moment.
I’d love to be able to write here and say what exactly this truth is, but the very nature of it doesn’t allow for that. The truth can only be felt or it remains incomprehensible. And at the very essence of this truth lies the ultimate paradox: on the one hand, it is the most personal truth you can ever know about yourself, and yet on the other hand it is the most impersonal truth of all. It’s impersonal because it is shared by every facet of life. It is the very essence of life.
And when we know that truth about ourselves, we withdraw from the battle of trying to find and hold onto and defend the scraps of power from the situations we are in and instead allow the power that is within us to flow out into those very same situations. We share it freely, because there is an unlimited supply, and that creates openings in ugly power struggles that allow grace and peace to flow in.
I posted this editorial as pure offering to peace, in hopes that you, the reader, will be inspired to dig deeper than you ever have and experience this truth for yourself. When you find yourself in that space, that is where you will know the absolute truth, beyond any belief, of your essential oneness with life.
“Surrender” is a challenging concept to bring up because it tends to trigger a lot of resistance. But there is an alternate view of surrender that I would like to share in the hope of revealing the healing and empowerment that this otherwise rigid contains.
Most often, “surrender” stirs up feelings and images of giving up yourself and your power to another, yielding, or admitting defeat. The battle cry “Never Surrender!” rings in my ears. It is a closing off and pushing back from the enemy, even when the enemy is a situation and not a person. It resonates with deep resistance, at the center of which is fear. But fear cannot fight fear and win without causing other things to be afraid of. An imposing force, if resisted, may or may not be momentarily overcome, but any apparent victory will contain within it the seeds for its defeat at a future time. If we look to nature, the tree that moves and sways with the strong gusts of wind has the surest chance to grow and thrive where the rigid inflexible tree will snap in two.
From my experience, surrender held the key to my ultimate empowerment. It was my willingness to let go of my wants and needs that diffused the resistance to what was happening in my life. In place of that resistance came a sense of peace and stillness. Instead of fighting and struggling to be heard or seen, I became very fluid, wrapping myself around the situations rather than trying to wrap them around me. I wasn’t surrendering myself to others, I was just calling a temporary cease-fire so I could see if the war I was fighting was even still going on.
That experience of peace created an opening, and I began to see things in my surroundings that I just couldn’t see before. I followed these clues with a playful curiosity, and they revealed to me a loophole in life that, when realized, released me from the need to resist anything. I wasn’t afraid anymore, and those fears that had held me so tight were revealed as having their roots in childhood when, in a very real way, they were very real fears. But I wasn’t that child anymore, and so I could let go of those fears that caused me to misinterpret so many of the situations in my life.
In a sense, I surrendered to the life that I am, and I became one with life again. Now instead of fighting the “current” out of fear that I will be taken out to sea and drown, I ride the waves and allow them to carry me to my destination. I operate now from a place of deep responsibility, and instead of fear being my motivating factor, I experience compassion and love beyond anything I can even express. It has freed up so much energy that I am able to share with the world.
Through surrender, we are transported to a platform of peace. From there, we can see the root cause of the suffering around us and are empowered to take the necessary steps to remedy that cause rather than waste energy on mitigating the symptoms. In my willingness to let go of my limited wants and needs, I became more fully myself.
I cultivate this realization each day by finding a few brief moments to surrender my wants and needs to those of life. And regardless of how grand or small the gesture, I am inevitably left feeling more energized and more peaceful. Those gestures help create the space necessary to allow awareness to surface in those other moments of the day when I feel myself beginning to resist. It’s those moments that I now realize are simply being offered as a chance for me to practice peace. As I go about my days, the battle cry “Always Surrender!” helps transport me to a platform of peace, and allows me to face any situation with strength instead of fear.
Compassion is an amazing compass guiding intentions and interactions. When we listen, think, and act compassionately, we have recognized the “sameness of being” between ourselves and the situation or person we are interacting with. That recognition inspires us to act with deep love and respect, and opens us up to creative solutions for even the most difficult situations. The four cardinal points of our compassion compass include:
“N” stands for “Now” (a.k.a. “the present moment”). It is the never-changing construct in which the ever-changing content of life is unfolding. “Now” is the only moment you’ll ever have, and there was never a time when it wasn’t “now” (see Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”).
If you are not aware of, or grounded in, the now, your perception of what’s happening in this moment is viewed through a distorted lens of past conditioning: the result of the compulsive stream of story telling about the past (a former now) or about the future (an imagined now). On the other hand, when you are centered in this pristine moment of now, there is no story line to color your perception and you are free to simply take in whatever is happening without judgments or labels, and without limiting yourself to a story of who you are and what should be happening. This is absolutely essential in order to listen and respond compassionately.
“E” stands for “Eternal”. If Now is the present moment, Eternal is all of time in this present moment. It’s the “big picture” of everything that happened before that made this one moment possible, all the way back to the “flaring forth” of the universe. Countless processes and infinite good and bad events went into making this one single moment possible, but each of those processes occurred within the same single construct of now. And when we enlarge our perspective to include that longer now, we can see how even mistakes and misdeeds served a grander purpose and we open ourselves up to finding compassion for the most challenging situations.
“S” stands for “Structure”. In every single Now in all of Eternity, there’s been an underlying neutral structure behind all the content of life. We, as humans, too often get hung up on the content of our lives and can act with great bias as to what we want that content to be. This inevitably causes us to suffer and struggle and make fear-driven choices. When we are stuck on the level of content, any problems we solve will only address some problems but create others because we are limiting ourselves to our own individual story. But with wisdom, we look and listen compassionately, and discover the structure at work behind the content of whatever it is we are facing. We discover the foundation of “sameness” that is at work in that situation as well as in our own lives. Only then can we respond compassionately, creatively addressing the issue without creating more issues in the process.
“W” stands for “Whole”. As humans, we are undeniably individuated, but when we tap into the Now, the Eternal, and the Structure of it all, we quickly realize that every individuated atom is one infinitesimal piece to an absolute whole organism that is inextricably tied to, and influenced by, every other atom. Each action we take, right down to the intentions behind our thoughts, affects everything else at a level our human minds cannot possibly begin to grasp. When we can begin to embrace this concept, we are much more likely to act with compassion for the good of ourselves as part of the whole of life.
And when you can embody these facets of compassion throughout your day, they act as a compass guiding your intentions and interactions, bringing a deep quality to every encounter. Peace and joy are no longer derived from what you are doing, but instead flow into what you are doing from the creative forces that are at work beyond your own individuated self from the whole of life.
As for the shape of our compassion compass, unlike a standard compass we cannot limit it to a flat circle with one needle because doing that would limit us from being able to really integrate all four points. Instead, we start with the standard shape with the cardinal points in the standard location, but from there we give each point a needle of it’s own. When we are using our compass effectively, all four needles are pointing upwards and angled towards a center point above the face of the compass. This forms a sort of cone shape, allowing for the integration each facet, and pointing the way towards compassion.
All the answers to the really big questions in life can only be found in one place: inside yourself. But until we can get through the filter of past conditioning, we continue to seek the answers through our thoughts. The trouble is that thoughts can be deceiving. All thought begins with an initial impulse, but how that impulse is interpreted is subject to our awareness of the past conditioned filter we have been cultivating since our first experience as humans soon after we were first born.
That first experience was one of separation. We had a direct experience of our dependency on another for survival, and this is by far the most powerful influence over every choice and decision we make. Depending on the situation, we either feel at the mercy of another or we rail against the need of another, but regardless they are still just reactions based on the illusion of this first direct experience as separate beings.
[I know: “but we are separate beings”. While I can’t deny the overwhelming evidence supporting this fact, the best I can offer is that it’s not the only fact about us as a species, just the most apparent one. The rest of the truth, again, can only be discovered by you through your own direct experience, and any words I offer can only help direct you to that experience if you are receptive to having that experience.]
A direct experience of truth is far more powerful than any knowledge acquired through thought or study. Without this filtering process of ourselves as separate beings, as is the case with infants, a person just takes in all the information without labeling it as good or bad. It just simply comes in, is processed, and then a response comes as a result. But as we get older, and we have collected enough responses and labeled them as good or bad, we begin to anticipate certain outcomes based on our limited perception of a situation, and that anticipation sets us up to find the very experience that we are expecting to find. Instead of responding to situations, we now begin reacting to situations based on this limited perception and anticipated outcome. Then, when we have “confirmed” our expected results enough times, we simply avoid that situation all together because now we are sure we know what the result will be without even venturing to try.
But what is that past filter based on? Again, it’s based on direct experiences from our childhood of ourselves as limited beings. And unlike in other cultures that have “rights of passage” to help children disidentify with this necessary but limited perspective of themselves and of life, we in contemporary cultures continue to identify ourselves as separate beings and view our lives from this stunted perspective. It limits everything we think is possible in this life, and everything that we are capable of achieving. Everything either becomes a battle for resources and power or a reinforcement of ourselves as being at the mercy of others. Any attempts to “reclaim” power are just us waging our own war against what we see is an unjust situation, but really the only injustice is the one that we have created for ourselves. And really, it’s more of just a tragic misunderstanding than it is an injustice, but it creates the same turmoil for us nonetheless.
So what is the solution? How can we step outside of this perspective of life when it’s the only perspective that seems to be logical and reasonable? I freely admit that so many of the concepts that I share sound absolutely ridiculous. I shared those same feelings of “it sounds great in theory, but it could never apply to my life” and “people who see the good in bad situations are just deluding themselves in order to cope with their difficulties”.
But then I had a moment of direct experience of the truth of it all. My thoughts and logic and rationalizing faculties all broke open for just a few brief moments, and I experienced the absolute truth beyond all the concepts. This happened without years of studying religions or traditions, it happened without having to give up anything I have and without having to shave my head, and it happened without me having to change my diet or move to a cave in Tibet. It happened, quite simply, while reading a book. And it can happen for you if and when you are ready for it to.
And when you get there, you will see the absolute simplicity of life, and all the answers that have continued to plague you will come to you without any effort at all. I’m not saying you’re going to like all the answers you find, but they will be there and you will realize it as truth and that realization will give you the strength and focus to face any challenges you might have with grace and certainty. What stops is the internal struggle, and in that cessation of hostilities, you get filled with a deep peace, inspiration, compassion, and truth. But don’t take my word for it…
The human mind is designed to focus on things it doesn’t understand: things that seem out of the ordinary. Anything we have a solid understanding of is quickly dismissed, most often before it even rises to the level of consciousness. But when something is unusual, or when something is impeding our perception of what’s supposed to be happening in “our” life, we take strong notice of it. We swiftly classify it as good or bad, then we experience a feeling based on that classification. If it’s “bad”, we will feel some form of unhappiness about it. Those feelings can cause many different reactions: but they basically all serve to either give you power or steal your power.
What about when we’re happy: why is that the preferred state? I mean if everyone were happy all the time, we wouldn’t begin to even notice what it feels like anymore. We might experience varying degrees of “happy”, but then the “happy enough” would become the “unhappy” in contrast to the “extremely happy”. So in every feeling of happiness, there is an inextricable unhappiness woven into it. The brain will always seek out that unhappiness or create it for itself in lieu of actually having something to feel unhappy about because it wants a puzzle to solve.
There is beauty and perfection in unhappiness. If you can find that place of recognizing the unhappiness as a temporary state, then you can realize that it contains within it the seeds of happiness that will inevitably blossom. Embrace the unhappiness. Even celebrate it. Unhappiness helps identify things that you might want to change or highlight areas where you can grow. It serves to help you deeper know yourself and brings you to that place of peace where the unhappiness looses it’s heaviness and even significance. You reclaim your power and free up energy that you can then focus on making those changes in your life where that peace can flourish.
But what is it that you change? Your car? Your job? Your clothes? Your spouse? Sure, you can try that. But how many times have you tried that before? It works for a little while, then the happiness loses it’s effectiveness and you fall back into unhappiness again. And that will always be the case when you haphazardly look to change something externally in order to find happiness internally.
The only thing you can really change in order to be truly happy is your perspective. You need to start retraining your brain to notice all the things that are “good” so you are not so focused on picking out the “bad”, and you need to realize the perfection in the unhappiness and how useful it is to bring about positive change. When you are able to do those two things, you quickly recognize what things that you are unable to bring happiness to, and then those things stand out as areas for growth or change. You are then in a position to claim your power and make those changes instead of giving away your power and feeling like you have no control.
By noticing the “good” that’s already there, you stop arbitrarily changing things that are actually good but which seem bad because the level of “happy” that they bring you has become diminished simply because you’re so used to them and they no longer hold any mystery or puzzle. You no longer feel the need to chase happiness, and can use that energy in more effective ways. Instead of looking to things and situations and people to bring you happiness, you bring happiness to people and situations and things. You begin to realize that happiness was there all along, and all it took was changing your perspective to find it. And when you’re there, when you’ve reached that point, that’s when you find the peace and perfection of unhappiness.
I was in the kitchen one day leaning against the oven, looking out the window to the birch trees that line our back yard. It was a cloudy day, with heavy, gusting winds. I saw a robin sitting on a branch of a birch tree, and as the wind blew, the tree swayed back and forth. The robin kept rebalancing itself and bracing itself against the wind. At one point it seemed like it had gotten a good footing against one gust of wind when an even stronger one followed up and pushed the branch even more. This caused the robin to flap a little: but yet still it stayed put on the tree.
I asked myself: Why did the bird stay on the tree? What I realized was that when the bird felt unbalanced, it made adjustments but never got deterred from what it was doing. It wasn’t resisting the fact that it was windy: it was becoming one with the wind and the tree. It was doing what it needed to do, while at the same time allowing the wind to do what it needed to do.
What the scene reminded me of is that balance is not something to be achieved and then checked off your list as an accomplishment. It’s not something you can quantify, and is not the same for everyone. You won’t find balance by assigning a point value to activities and making sure the “have to do’s” equal the “want to do’s”. Balance has nothing to do with what you do and everything to do with how you do what you do. Balance isn’t making sure in a day that you had time for body, mind and spirit. It’s about considering body, mind, and spirit in everything you do.
Balance is a process: a way of growing and learning and building in new information and knowledge. It’s about taking out old information that isn’t useful, or that may have been outdated or proven false. It’s a never-ending cycle of growth and attrition, and so it’s important to remember to let go sometimes, of both things and ideas, and trust that maybe this is just an adjustment to get you back to some equilibrium.
Sometimes there is important knowledge gained when you experience the extremes. One helps you appreciate and value the other. Without fear of death, can you truly enjoy and savor life? And so much of the drama we experience comes down to fear. Every worry or concern or frustration or anger or sadness or excitement or passion or hope all have fear at their core. Without the fear of being alone, can you truly feel passion? Without the fear of loss, how can you have hope?
Drama and fear arise from the duality of life: the seeing of yourself as separate from another and from life. In times when you find yourself in a struggle with another, keep in mind that diversity and differences are what help us grow and learn and thrive as a species. Collectively we balance out life. If everyone were the same, we’d all be on one side of the scale and it would be life that would be off balance.
And when you find the perfection of each extreme, and are able to value and savor both sides, it is there that you find balance: the peace that surpasses all understanding. And once you find it, you apply it to the next moment or the next trial, and with each turn of the wheel you find it easier to regain that equilibrium.
Life is always adding or taking away, and you have to be able to constantly adapt and adjust seamlessly in order to accomplish what it is that you set out to do, even if what you set out to do is just sit quietly in a tree.
Ever since I was a child, I always thought it would be so cool to learn how to intentionally wake up inside my dreams, otherwise known as lucid dreaming. Maybe a dozen times in my whole life I’ve been able to do it just by accident, but within minutes of gaining that heightened state of awareness I would end up waking up from the dream before I had a chance to really test it out and see what I could do.
And so in this past year, I had been thinking more and more about that curiosity of mine to gain that skill. I started looking into various media that might guide me to that experience, feeling like there was something important about that concept that could aid me in my quests in other areas of my life. But before I ever got to explore or begin any practice of it, I was struck by a huge insight.
It occurred to me that the real trick isn’t to learn how to wake up while you are asleep: the real trick is to stop dreaming while you’re awake. Within that realization, I was shifted into a new realm of absolute reality: one that coexists alongside my very own personal perceived reality that I have been constructing since the day I was born. Upon experiencing this shift, I was also able to clearly see all the other realities that coexist in this life: be it from the perspective of animal, vegetable or mineral.
It’s this absolute reality that provides the canvas that each of us paints our personal realities on. It’s this absolute reality that is not limited to stories of personal pain or fear or love or loss. It’s this absolute reality where absolutely anything is possible. By awakening from the dream of my personal reality and awakening to this absolute reality, the limited story of “me” becomes transformed into the limitless experience of “I”. I tap into that source of pure creative energy, and the clarity that accompanies it reveals what I need to focus that energy on. It’s this absolute reality that I began to realize was life’s dream for itself.
And so I wanted to share that experience with you, because I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than helping life fulfill it’s wildest dreams, and that starts with helping others awaken to it too. Imagine what we could accomplish if we set aside our own dreams and embrace that dream of life. Essentially, we are life waking up inside of it’s own dream. Let’s test it out and see what we can do.
What is it that causes us to struggle and suffer so? It is as if we are wild animals, caged by trappers who are trying to train us to do their bidding. The things they ask and expect from us strike at everything that seems normal and natural to us. We bite and snarl and tear at the cage trying to get everyone to change to fit our ideals, which all but precludes any real ability for us to properly honor and respect their ideals.
We create these cages out of wants and expectations of ourselves and others based on concepts of how we believe life should be. These concepts are rooted in our past and in society, and compounded by the fact that from a young age we start practicing how to “want”. By the time we are adults, we’re very good at wanting, and that limits our ability to recognize and value all that we already have. It reveals ourselves to be limited beings, and closes us off to the infinite possibilities that are available to us Now. Through this filter, we project images of the dismal future that we are sure is awaiting us, and these become the bars that seemingly condemn us to a life less lived.
Even when we get our way, we’re still trapped in this cage and we just move on to want something else because that’s all we’ve ever trained ourselves to do. We will never find our way out of the cage by wanting our way out, but by realizing the cage was just an illusion created by the mind and based on a limited perception of ourselves and of life.
So how do we free ourselves from this illusive cage?
The illusion dissolves by itself when we stop looking to the world to make us happy and instead start looking inside ourselves. It dissolves when we let go of expectations of how we thought life should be based on past scenarios in our mind, and look around to see how life actually is. It dissolves when we begin to notice all the things that we already have that we had wanted at some level before, and find the honor and gratitude for those things. It dissolves by itself when we learn how to tell the truth, to ourselves and to others, about what is the true cause of our unhappiness.
Then we find ourselves in a space of clarity and peace and acceptance. We look around and can decide what’s working and what’s not, and then we can address those issues that need to change from a platform of empowerment instead of lack. But until we can step outside of past-conditioned thoughts, we will remain trapped in the cage.
The good news is that even just the awareness of the cage is enough to remove some of the bars. We become more tolerant and compassionate, because we recognize others are in their own cages too. We become open to new possibilities that we were just unable to see before because we were so locked in to some single concept of how life should be. Fulfillment and joy is suddenly found in unlikely places, and we end up with more of what we want but without all the struggle and suffering. More importantly, we end up with more clarity and peace.
What is it that keeps us from finding the joy in our activities? There are many symptoms I could point to, but really what it comes down to is that we are lost in a story. One story is that of “why I am doing this in the first place”, and another story is “what I expect to get out of it when I’m done.” We humans have a unique way of covering up those basic elements with all kinds of content: love, loss, lust, anger, greed, fear, hope… But underneath that content, the structure remains unchanged.
The issue isn’t that we shouldn’t look to past or future: it’s simply a matter of having skipped over the only critical element of the structure that has any reality. It’s that element where we tap into a pure creative energy that can carry us through any issues that may surface. It’s that element where we embody an adaptability to mold ourselves to whatever it is that is needed in the situation to bring about the best results for all concerned. That critical element is this moment. That critical element is now.
“Now” is the only point in our lives that has any true reality, and yet we go about our plans and intentions without any notice of it whatsoever. It is the veritable platform on which our entire existence unfolds, and yet all our experiences are projections of an imagined future through the filter of a distorted past.
What do I mean when I say “distorted past”? A distorted past results from experiences in a former now that limited how we see our self in this life. It is the identification with this limited perception of yourself that distorts and limits your choices now.
For example, if a child “learns” that their scope of influence is very limited at home because they are not taken seriously and feel like they are not heard or seen, this creates an impression of themselves as a limited being. A couple ways that may play out: some may overcompensate for that and exert extra influence over other children, others may embrace it and feel they just don’t have much to offer anyone. Flash forward twenty years: you are likely to find the same person behaving in much the same way. They are behaving now in a way that supports and reinforces the experience they had as a child of themselves as a limited being, and so how can their actions now be anything but limited? They are unaware of the truth of themselves now because they are identified with a story of what was true in their past. But was that past moment really real? Were there other ways that the same situation could have played out differently?
That’s the real question. Although it’s true that children do have a limited scope of influence at home, it is not necessarily true that they needed to internalize that as an aspect of who they are as a being. A child’s influence can be limited, and they can still understand that it’s not personal but is instead just a point of fact that will surely grow and change over time. It is also possible that a child can recognize that the parent’s attempts at controlling them is just an aspect of the parent’s own perception of themselves as limited beings trying to exert control over the only thing they really feel they can: their child. Maybe such a level of awareness in a child is not quite so common, but it is certainly possible.
So when an adult with a limited perception of themselves contemplates undertaking a project, they view the possible outcomes through this filter of a limited “self”. Based on that, they decide whether or not to even enter into the project by what they imagine, through this limited filter, are the possible outcomes. If they decide to go forward, they are focused on achieving the outcome they saw as achievable, and get anxious or frustrated when the unexpected happens or if the project doesn’t work out as they planned.
In short, there is no joy in what they are doing because they are so focused on what it is they want or expect to come of their efforts. Even in success, any joy they find is short lived because now they are still faced with looking to the future through the lens of a limited self, and how can they see anything but a limited future?
Is it even possible to drop this limited perspective of ourselves? I mean, we are actually limited beings, aren’t we? Sure, if that’s the reality you want to create for yourself. And I’m not necessarily saying that you aren’t limited in some way or another, but I think what my point is is that perhaps you are far less limited than maybe you thought you were. You don’t have to let go of the past, I’m only recommending that you stop identifying with it.
Open yourself up to what is true for you now and you may be surprised at the myriad of possibilities that avail themselves to you. In doing that, you also avail yourself to the absolute joy in the only place it can ever truly be found. But that absolute potential is only available for a limited time. In order to take advantage of this special offer, you must act now! :)
There is joy in absolutely everything you do in your day, and if you’re not “in-joy-in” what you are doing, then you are destined to experience only brief moments of limited joy in your life.
Everything you come across in your day can be a source of absolute joy, and all it takes is for you to open yourself up to the possibility and investigate it for yourself. How? By “doing” for the sake of doing and not for the sake of what is being done. If you lose yourself in the moment of what this one crucial moment is offering you, you will come to feel as if you are seeing it for the first time, regardless of how many times you have done it in the past. Essentially, every moment is a new moment, with new possibilities, but you can only tap into them if you are open to finding them.
Typically, when I would set out to do something, I would have a goal in mind that I wanted to achieve. Then I would set out trying to find the best way to get there, and sometimes that would be as far as I would get. Negative self-talk would often creep in and tell me all the reasons I’ll never be able to do it, or that someone else can do it better, and so I’d be dead in the water before I even tried to swim. But on those occasions where I did persevere, and maybe even make it all the way to the finish line, I’d look around with some sense of satisfaction, but it would never last. I expected that result to bring me joy, and when I got there, any joy I did find was short lived and I was off looking for something else to bring me joy.
Maybe in the process of meeting that goal I was energized and driven, maybe I got frustrated or lost momentum, but regardless I was not enjoying the process. How do I know that? Because I was looking towards the time when I would be done for that moment to bring me joy, and it just can’t. All I did the whole time I was working towards that goal was practice looking to a future moment to bring me joy, and so that’s what I got better at: looking to a future moment to bring me joy instead of finding the joy that is all around me in this moment.
The only place you can ever find joy is right here, right now, in whatever it is you are doing. It’s in the process of “doing” where you find joy, not in the end result. And when you are enjoying what you are doing, the results will take care of themselves. The outcome can be nothing short of quality, because each moment that went into that result was one of quality. And when you are done, it’s almost like you just let go completely of the results and just set right out again to find something else to do. You have experienced the truth that the joy of doing is also the joy of being right here, right now, regardless of whatever it is that is contained within this moment.
But don’t take my word for it. Look around. See where you’re at with fresh eyes. Upon discovering just one or two things that you hadn’t noticed, you’ll start to feel an aliveness tingling inside you: that’s joy. Even if all you are doing is breathing, just notice that breath, and you will find joy. (I like to feel my hands breathing. It’s a sensation that I discovered one day a few months ago and I have yet to meet someone who knows what I’m talking about.)
And when you find yourself in that feeling of joy, you realize that all the boredom and frustration and angst that were filling up your thoughts are no where to be found. Become like an explorer, seeking out joy in everything you do: you may be surprised at all the unlikely places you find it, as well as all the insights and inspirations that arise in its discovery.
So in yesterday’s post, “Unknown Love“, I asked you to investigate, and feel without naming, what it is that you are most afraid of. How’d you do? Did you find it? What did it feel like? It’s that feeling, reinforced by the stories your mind continues to tell you about it, that limits your being in this life. It’s that feeling that is masking the love that you seek.
But it’s more than just masking the love. The real joke is…it is that love! That dense, sick feeling that makes you want to cry or flee or fight or die: that is love. That is the absolute passion of life. You call it fear and it becomes scary. You make up stories about how bad it is and so you turn away from it. It colors every choice you make so you can avoid it. And yet…and yet, what you will find is that what you have been running from all this time…is Love.
You run because when you open up to the experience of it, there is no need to make up stories about it anymore. The past dissolves, along with the limited story of you. All that’s left is who you are in this moment, and what you find out is that you are that love.
And the need to forgive is replaced with a compulsive compassion and gratitude. And the knot dissolves, and life floods in to fill the space. Awareness expands, and everything you thought you knew to be real is revealed as just an illusion: a story you’ve just been carrying about all the things you thought you knew.
And then you use that feeling that you used to call fear as a compass to guide you on your rightful path. It’s your cue to awaken and notice where you’re at and what lessons have surfaced for you to learn, and what signposts are around to guide your way.
I know: it sounds absolutely ridiculous. So let’s test that idea. Now recall a time when you felt absolutely in love with someone: What did that feel like? Really linger in that thought for a moment.
Was there a dense tightness? Did it make you want to spill over with tears of bliss and relief to have found it at last? Did it make you want to just drop everything and run to them? Did it make you want to just rip through all the obstacles that stood in the way? Did it make you want to just die because you felt too small to contain such an enormous feeling?
Those experiences of feeling love (cry, flee, fight, die) were all just appetizers, mere tastings of that absolute love that is waiting for you to find it inextricably woven throughout what it is you fear the most. And when you can experience that love, you know it was always there, and that it will always be there. You know yourself as that love, and you are liberated and empowered to really live your life instead of just survive it.
So the answer to the question “what is it you are most afraid of?”…is love. Fear is love in disguise. It is the last place you would ever think to look for it. It is a bigger and scarier than any love you’ve ever known, because in it, you let go of the story of you and all that remains is who you are now. And who you are now is limitless.
So in yesterday’s post, “Love, Love, Love…”, I wrote about a pure, unconditional love that’s always present, but at the same time I pointed out that you must not love yourself if you find yourself wanting others to treat you differently. So how can both be true? What is it that is masking that liberating, absolute Love?
It’s going to sound absolutely ridiculous, and you’re not going to believe me. It is absolutely essential for you to experience the truth of it yourself. You already know exactly what it is; you’ve just been calling it by another name. It’s the name you know it by that makes you want to turn away from it. Let me ask you this…and take your time and really investigate the single, most precise, most honest answer you can…
What is it that you are most afraid of?
In all that you do today, open yourself up wide to that question. Allow it to penetrate deep. Feel the absolute truth of the answer. You will know when you find it, because instead of it being a thought in your head, it will be emanating from somewhere in your body. When you find it, notice what it feels like. Where in your body is it stored? Perhaps it’s a tightness, a constriction, in your shoulders or chest or throat. Mine is in my gut: a knot right below my rib cage. Maybe it makes you feel queezy or like you want to cry or flee or fight or die?
Don’t give it a name, don’t tell a story about why it’s there, just feel it there. Whatever it is, wherever it is, open yourself up to the experience of feeling it.
I will ask again, and then let’s meet back here tomorrow:
What is it you are most afraid of?
(Refer to post “Unknown Love Revealed” for conclusion of this post)
I had an insight centered on the “experience” of love versus the “feeling” of love that I wanted to share, because so much of what I see in this life is infused with, as well as complicated by, this sticky topic.
The saying goes, “you must love yourself before you can love another.” I thought I understood what that meant. I believed I did love myself, and yet as I look back now I see countless moments where I had overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I just couldn’t see it because in this illusion that I loved myself, I was confronted and bombarded by situations that caused suffering and angst, and so I spent all my energy trying to trouble shoot those situations. “What’s wrong with me? Why does this have to be so hard? How can I change? Why can’t they change? Why can’t they just love me the way I am? I think I’ve made a huge mistake, but I don’t know how to fix it…”
If this feels very personal, like I’m telling a story about you, that’s because I am. It’s my story too. It’s just one of the many stories that we each carry inside of us. We all want the same thing: for others to love us and trust us and accept us just as we are, unconditionally. But wait…there’s something just behind those words…can you feel it? Look at them again, only this time, feel the words, savoring each one, instead of just reading them.
The paradox: if you loved them and trusted them and accepted them just the way they are, unconditionally, you wouldn’t need them to treat you any differently than they do. I know that stirs up a lot of defensive feelings, but please just try to bear with me for a few more minutes. Not needing someone to treat you any differently is dramatically different than putting up with mistreatment. It actually empowers you to effectively address those issues of mistreatment. But that paradox is just the surface: let’s go a little deeper.
The bigger “a-ha” (hopefully): If I loved myself and trusted myself and accepted myself just the way I am, unconditionally, I wouldn’t have gotten myself in the situation where I am perceiving mistreatment in the first place. I would have recognized the seeds of mistreatment much earlier and dealt with them then instead of letting things slide, because somewhere inside I didn’t feel worthy of better treatment, until it reached the point of: “Okay, enough is enough. I may not deserve much, but I deserve better than this.”
And all because you thought you loved yourself. Now, are you going to flog yourself with that personal failing too? It’s not necessary, I assure you. Does it mean you deserve the treatment you get? Absolutely not. But until you know better, that’s just what you’re going to get more of.
There’s so much more in there that I would enjoy expanding on, but I feel it’s important to explore the other side of the equation: the “experience” of love.
There is a part of you that is love, pure and untouched by all your many “flaws”. Yes, I said it: flaws. It’s those perceived flaws (“perceived” being the operative word) that create the situation where you put up with any mistreatment in the first place. “I know I’m not perfect, so I guess I’ll let that one slide for the greater good.” When you can experience that pure love, you are freed from having to lower your standards, and you no longer look to any situation to provide you with a sense of self worth.
Those “flaws” are nothing more than limiting thoughts that you’ve carried with you from the past, the big ones go all the way back to childhood. They have colored every choice you’ve made, and have set you up so you put yourself in situations that support the illusive truth about those illusive flaws. They are nothing more than thoughts in your head, and they have no bearing or relevance to what is true for you Now unless you continue to identify with them.
Once you have had a direct experience of that pure love, you even love your flaws. They’re like quirky little pests that try to keep poking their head in where they don’t belong, but because you love yourself, you recognize them and have the awareness to make the conscious choice not to feed them.
All of a sudden, you are free to love everyone just as they are, with all their flaws, because you know now that the only reason they keep trying to mess with you is because they just haven’t experienced the love within themselves. You have compassion for them, and your interactions with them shift and become more productive and effective. You make the changes that need to be made, but you do it with love instead of with resistance. You love yourself, and you inspire the love in others.
And because I love myself now, I don’t need myself to be any different than I am. And because I don’t need myself to be any different, I also don’t need others to be different than they are. I am free to love them just as they are because I am not afraid that they are going to mistreat me or steal my energy. I have enough energy for myself and for them, so I am not threatened if they don’t agree with me. It creates a space where we can meet and talk openly and compassionately. Trust me, I am different than I was, I just no longer need myself to be different than I am, and the changes that had to be made to support a truly fulfilling life just happened organically.
And what’s more important than telling others the truth about my experience of love is living that truth. And by living this truth, I set the example for others that it can be done: that they can let go of the fear that another is mistreating them and be okay. Better than okay.
Thank you for spending the time reading this post. I hope it was helpful somehow. Be sure to email me if there’s any questions or comments.
In peace, compassion, and absolute love,
Care Mycue :)
“Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.”
– The Beatles, All You Need Is Love