Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The self I can find is always incomplete… always dissatisfied.

But the Self that’s always complete — ugh! —I have no way of finding.

Hmm.

Well, I’ve waited and waited, and since it seems my little self will never find the courage to shift over to that unknown completeness, today I opt for something different… I abandon my stalled vehicle.

I choose blessed completeness instead… not because I received some sort of faith, mind you. The truth is, I simply couldn’t wait another day… to heck with knowing!

I take the chance… out of the greatest Self-love!

Please Like Me… or Not

I read the other day that more people than ever are single nowadays. That’s obviously thanks to Covid, but there’s another explanation I like as well. People enter into relationships mostly to get validation from a companion, but these days one can get their daily need for validation online. A like here, a retweet there.. our insatiable need for constant approval will get fed, one way or the other.

Or is there a way to live that takes us out of that endless cycle, that life of self-doubt, of wondering what others think, never knowing or trusting ourselves?

Indeed there is… and it comes down to which part of ourselves we identify with: the ego or the soul.

See, the ego is never quite sure about itself. It’s always needing approval and authentication from the outside world. Am I doing the right thing? What should I have done? What will I do? What do you think?

The soul, on the other hand, has no doubts. It knows that whatever it’s doing is the perfect thing at the exact right moment. It has already grasped its own inherent beauty and importance; it glows by its own light. And it certainly doesn’t need a million likes… heck, it doesn’t even need one. That’s because it feels as if the entire universe were applauding… that’s how self-sustained it is. Why, it doesn’t even need the world to exist to know how great it is. That’s true self-esteem (without even the need for a witness). Wouldn’t that be a great thing to feel?

So, on this my birthday — with all your wonderful well-wishes pouring in — I wonder which identity I’ll choose. 🙏

Releasing the Tension

As you awaken spiritually, you won’t enjoy being smothered behind the ego’s overprotecting walls any longer. You need to breathe, to feel again, and to heck with false pride. You’re finally ready to let those scary emotions come to you – loneliness, sadness, fear of abandonment – in their full force… the ones your ego convinced you that you couldn’t handle. Anything but this agony!

So when you say to yourself, “I can’t take it any longer,” what it really means is that you can’t resist the flood anymore. The emotions have built up to a point that they must run free. So sit down, get some tissues, and get ready for a really good cry. Your body might even start shaking, or howling. You can allow these powerful feelings to flood into you. You must!

All of us, I believe, are just one good cry away from feeling better. We need to rediscover these raw emotions, the ones that make us human… and reclaim them. Yes, they knock us down, but they also make us stronger.

Occasionally you’ll meet someone on shaky ground, and you can tell they’re about to let loose. Without saying a word, put a hand on their back, let them know you’re near. All your body language has to say is “I understand. It’s perfectly ok to cry.” See, it was the idea that crying was “weakness” that held us back for so long. I’m here to say not only that it’s ok… but that it’s the only way we ever really heal ourselves.

In this spirit, I’d like to propose a new emoji: a yellow man crying and smiling at the same time. That’s because the release of tension that accompanies a good cry is one of such overwhelming relief – as if the heaviest burden has finally been put down – that we actually start laughing. We see how resistance actually compounded the pain, made it twice as heavy… and kept us constantly in terror of our own feelings. What total relief… from our own pent-up resistance!

“The problem isn’t how you feel, it’s that you don’t feel SAFE to feel how you feel.” —Teal Swan

So, friends… let it out, let it flow, and when it does… you might even want to take a picture of yourself afterwards, red-eyed and crazy-looking. You’ll feel so relieved that later, when you look at that photo, you’ll marvel at how relaxed your features are.

It’s as if you suddenly became more beautiful, more human, more yourself… and so much more alive!

Love Never Moves

It’s funny
We imagine that
Love comes
And goes
Here one day
Gone the next

We imagine that
“We” love
And that
Others “don’t”
That love can be
“Earned” or
“Lost” or
“Wasted”

We’ve got it
All wrong
It’s not
“Ours” to give
“We” cannot love
Nor can anyone else
Love cannot be
Possessed
It can’t be transferred
It can only be sat in
Allowed to
Waft freely
Through us
Among us

That’s the most
We can do

When we imagine
That it can somehow
Go somewhere
Or disappear for
Even a second
We make its absence
Seem real
Each time
Taking a beating
Not for
Lack of love
But for believing
An untruth

Love is not limited
In any way
It’s HERE and
Everywhere

Stop believing
You can
Throw away
Or lose
That which
Never leaves
Never moves
Stay away from
Those who would
Have you believe it
Especially your ego
Whose only job
Is to convince you
That someone else
Moved the cheese

No, friends
There’s absolutely
No escape
Love is
All there is
And when we
Stop withholding
Stop escaping

Oh how
Pleasantly
Anihilated
We’ll be

The World is made of Fool’s Gold

This old world is full of fake promise. It appears to be able to provide us with what we are truly seeking:

A stable identity
A feeling of security
Lasting happiness

…but it cannot. It can only promise them to us in some non-existent future. We must all eventually discover this for ourselves: that the only value this world has for us is in offering us this illusion. Only insofar as we believe it can actually deliver on these promises do we give the world meaning; it has no intrinsic value on its own. The moment we come to realize that what we are seeking can never to be found out there, we simply stop expecting the world to give us what it cannot. Saddened by all our effort, our striving, and now completely exhausted… we must be honest with ourselves: we’ve been hoodwinked. Actually, it’s worse than that… we’ve hoodwinked ourselves!

“How strange when an illusion dies. It’s as though you’ve lost a child.” –Judy Garland

But there is some good news. All these things we’ve been asking the world to give us are suddenly found, here and now, hidden within ourselves! Why, they’ve always been a part of us, we just forgot. So why did we have to chase fool’s gold for so long?

Why, to remember! to rediscover for ourselves, one person at a time, our own intrinsic value. Seeing as how the whole world couldn’t give us what we longed for, we had to take back the importance we gave to it… and give it back to ourselves. Yes, it’s that simple. We go back to when we were children, didn’t know any better, and traded our own importance for a bright, shiny world of promise, of surprise, of possibilities. The world promised so much joy and happiness… who wouldn’t give it a shot? Yet after all our fruitless seeking, we discover that, wow! it is our own inner Self that is beautiful, authentic, and full of love… and not the world.

Thus, in truth, we are greater than the whole world.

Yes, once we find our identity, security and happiness within – the more we taste pure gold! – the more we discover that the only thing that was ever of any true value here in this world… was our inner Self.

“Listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world,” says Jack Kerouac, “and you will remember the lesson you forgot.”

Why Cancel Culture is Wrong

“It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance.” –Aldous Huxley

If I try to shut down one side of an argument without trying to understand it… or listen to it… or let it inform my opinion (as today’s cancel culture often does), it’s because I don’t understand the value of conflict. I think it’s dangerous. I think it leads to untruth. But conflict is dangerous only to my ego… never to the truth.

All the best conversations and products, ideas and inventions come from the contrast between two points of view. We need friction to cause a spark, so to speak, to create unexpected and miraculous outcomes. Flint or stone won’t do it, both are needed.

Take an oyster, for instance. Oysters only makes pearls in response to an irritant – such as a grain of sand – that somehow slipped inside its carefully guarded shell. In response, the creature produces nacre, a protective coating that helps reduce irritation. It is by trying to reduce the irritation that a pearl is bornnot by cancelling it or ignoring it, or pretending it isn’t there, or isn’t valid.

It took me a long time to understand the value of friction and contrast. I would argue that they are actually good for us… because they help us overcome our fear of conflict. Perhaps we were raised in a household where there was a lot of shouting. What happened? We became the Peacemaker in the family, trying to assuage both sides, thinking that if we can help everyone avoid conflict that we could restore harmony. This was certainly an honorable goal, but a fantasy nonetheless. It wasn’t our role to maintain harmony in the house, just like it’s not our role to maintain harmony in the world. We were too young to imagine that adults use disagreement to define and refine their points of view, to evolve, to arrive at compromise.

Unless there was a member of the family that absolutely wouldn’t compromise: a bully. It’s a mafia tactic to insist that only one way of “pure” thinking is permissible, that only allow one side is allowed to speak. Or that if we get rid of the holder of an opinion that we’ve rid ourselves of that point of view altogether. That’s such a naiive and bone-headed approach, I don’t know what to say.

“I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies, that’s all.” –Michael Corleone 

I think that’s what’s happening today. Why else would so many people think that harmony could be reached simply by cancelling the other side? Harmony can’t be enforced on others. It’s like imagining that fascism can be fought by silencing your opponents. In doing so, we become the very beast we set out to conquer!

A world without sportscasters

Listen to those commentators. There they go again, analysing every move on the field, filling our heads with past stats, future prognostications, arcane fluff. In some goofy way, they think they control the game, but there’s only one problem with that:

They aren’t playing.

They can’t describe the smell of the turf, the fear of failure, the excitement of a good pass or the exhilaration of winning. They weren’t there… they only imagined they were. Only the players on the field can do that, and usually their experience of the game can’t even be put into words.

Remember the fun of actually playing sports on the field? There is none of that constant analysis going on in your mind. There’s just this wonderful feeling of aliveness, the thrill of play.

That’s something we lose when we give our lives to our minds. We trade being a player for being a sportscaster. We live in the future and the past… always trying to figure out what’s going to happen and what shouldn’t happen… and lose the capacity to actually experience — and appreciate! —What Is Happening.

Look at a bird without mental chatter. You’ll realize that you’ve never really seen one before… in all its aliveness. In the way it turns its head just so, or flies effortlessly through the branches. Or the way the wind plays on a field of wheat, or how the shadows of clouds move gracefully across open valleys. Aliveness is everywhere, but we can’t see it… when we’re listening to the sportscasters. They aren’t there, they’re only imagining they are.

“An interpreted world isn’t home.” —Hildegard von Bingen (Christian Mystic)

That’s because the mind is not interested in aliveness. That’s just a sportscaster, way up in the booth, thinking he’s safe, that he controls the world, trying to tell us what’s coming next… as if 1) he knew, and 2) it mattered.

Aliveness is the only thing that really matters, friends. Come down on the field and grab you a handful!

Blame… or Shame?

“Hypocrisy is the outward acknowledgement of inward shame.” —Norm MacDonald

All blame is a form of hypocrisy; blame is simply our shame pushed outside. “I’m unhappy, so it must be someone else’s fault,” we tell ourselves. And the more we blame others, the less we change… leaving core issues unresolved.

Shame lies within us all, protecting us from parts of us that we were taught were unloveable. Parts we deny, try to hide… mostly from ourselves. Yet if we have even one part of ourselves that we consider unloveable, we unconsciously consider our whole selves unloveable.

Isn’t that the biggest shame of all… to not feel worthy of love? Others might not be able to see what we’re hiding, but they can certainly tell that something is wrong with us… that we have a fear of intimacy, that we don’t feel loved.

So… there’s a hard way and an easy way to uncover our core shame. The hard way is to keep blaming others, which means we have to continually find scapegoats to make ourselves feel good… and we never heal, never feel loveable… and never realize that the problem is ours. The easy way, on the other hand, is to stop, look and listen: every time we’re about to blame someone, we say (at least mentally), “They do such-and-such… as do I.”

Try it. If we’re attentive, we’ll suddenly see that same part of ourselves hiding in the dark basement, waiting for us to love it. They’re not a good planner? Maybe our spontaneity was squelched at a very young age. They’re not clear about what they want? Maybe we weren’t allowed to speak directly. They’re not working hard enough? Maybe our inherent playfulness was crushed. They’re not as perfect as you? Maybe we weren’t allowed to make mistakes.

Certainly, no one taught us that these could actually be good, normal traits. In any event, if we can’t love this part of ourselves, then why should others be allowed to love that same part of themselves? Why should they get to do what I wasn’t allowed to?

Do we see the connection? Why else would we project ugliness onto other people?

Shame is never easy to confront. We need to break our false pride, that part of ourselves that insists, “look… they do it, but I don’t.” We cannot do this alone; we need to ask for help. It takes humility, courage… and self-honesty. We say to our “broken” part, “Please forgive me for not being able to love you. I am trying my best. O Universe, if you can’t help me love that part, please help me to at least love the part of me that can’t love this defect, the part that judges myself for having it.”

This self-compassion eases the standoff. Then help is on the way; know that the aid you seek will be swiftly brought to you, either in the form of a person, book or movie. You’ll see the innocence of that lost part… its true beauty! Only by end-running the mind can we ever melt the hard shell coating of hidden shame. Without denial and self-importance, we can finally break the chain of sadness and hypocrisy… and a most tender reunion within is possible.

You’ll see. Every time we invite forgotten parts of ourselves back to the “lovable” pile, we increase our capacity to let ourselves be loved. The whole Universe wants to love us, in fact does love us… right this very second! The only thing blocking us from knowing that is our pesky hidden shame.

O Bursting Heart, aren’t you proud of me for freeing you?

The Window in My Heart

Wow, there it is again… opening just a fraction of a millimeter… The Window in My Heart. By George, shut out everything else, the senses, the mind, the world even. Focus, heart of mine… focus focus focus. Ahhhhhh, what peace.

Did the world just turn inside out? What is this dimension? We seem to have stepped out of time and space… with no limits in any direction…. Is this who I really am… this unlimited beingness?

Finally it feels like the universe and I have a physical connection. Why, one can see eternity from here!