ALL ROADS LEAD TO HOME

compass-roseA couple of years ago while strolling through the walled city of Old Jerusalem, I had a sudden realization:

“I” didn’t exist. I was not the busy person immersed in highly important doings, who I had always assumed myself to be. Surrounded by this noisy tourist throng, I suddenly experienced myself as a vast empty hole, an impartial and impersonal gap through which oceans of stunningly trivial stuff—past lives, present lives—poured forth.

It made me cry.

I’d been a seeker of enlightenment for a very long time. This shift in perception was exactly what I’d been aiming for, hoping for, all along. But the actual experience of sudden identity loss, coupled with the recognition that none of the things I cared about had any meaning at all…well it was more uncomfortable, more disturbing than I’d bargained for.

Part of me knew this realization would lead to the liberation I’d been craving—if I could only manage to hang onto it as a permanent state of awareness. But most of me wanted nothing to do with it. And so the recognition faded as quickly as it came.

I’ve really only ever dabbled in the Advaita Vedanta stream of enlightenment. I’ve watched videos and read books by a handful of excellent teachers, and tried to do as they suggested. Tried to look in the direction they pointed. Tried to figure out who was the “I” who was doing all that looking and trying. But in the end I really wasn’t particularly drawn by the promise of emptiness, or detachment: Too harsh. Too depressing. I wanted some other kind of peace.

And so life led me to the version of nonduality taught by the Everything-Is-One crowd: God Is. Nothing else is real.

It seemed, on the surface, to be an entirely different stream. A completely different road to freedom. It allowed for the existence of divine intelligence, and for unconditional love.

Sure, I would still have to render the world meaningless, and shed the personal identity—but I could do it in a way that seemed a little more happy-clappy. A bit more Kumbaya.

*          *          *

Over the past 10 years I’ve made my home in these more God-centric teachings, and they’ve been wonderful. They do indeed offer a slightly cozier and more comfortable place from which to pursue enlightenment. But I’ve also wandered freely onto other resonant paths, some related and some not. It’s been the combination of all these diverse teachings that seem to have collectively done the trick.

Case in point: In the weeks since divine love has taken up partial residence within (as described in the last post), the most amazing sort of full-circle Advaita-like thing has occurred: Suddenly I recognize the true eternal nature of everything. Without working at it. Without hunting for the “I” who is, or isn’t, busily searching for itself.

I seem to effortlessly see that everything in existence, including my own body-mind, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Insubstantial puffs of steam—each looking unique and different and utterly believable on the surface—yet so obviously arising out of the one undifferentiated sea of existence from which everything springs.

Yep, that’s the same sea of existence that I previously identified as an empty gaping hole, devoid of identity or meaning. Which seemed so disturbingly freaky two years ago. Two years ago it had all seemed so…unloving.

Because I was so unloving in my witnessing of it. Funny how that works.

Back then, I experienced emptiness through a very startled and reluctant human mind. Yet seen through the gentle eyes of divine love instead, the experience of that empty hole is quite different now than it was the first time around. This time around I like it. The sea of existence, it turns out, is actually pretty cool.

That may sound kind of hard to believe. But trust me, it’s way more fun to bask in that, than to stew in the raggedy old identity I’d always previously thought of as me. I find it both comfortable and comforting now, to enjoy brief visits into my own pristine, limitless nature, where my only identity is that of the eternally holy now moment.

The antics of the personal identity are still here to be enjoyed (or endured) like a rambunctious puppy—but formless awareness is my undeniable home. I haven’t yet brought my overnight bag with me, but I have no doubt where my home lies. Even if I’m only currently staying in it for brief periods at a time. The truth is always true, even in extremely short snippets.

There’s plenty I don’t know. Tons I haven’t realized. Loads of misperceptions that have not yet been released and transformed into light. I certainly don’t claim any special state of being. And if you have any question at all in your mind about whether or not I’m wafting around in an abiding state of rainbow-unicorn-transcendent-awareness…talk to my husband. He’ll set you straight.

But there are some definite things I now know to be true. Beyond any doubt.

*          *          *

Advaita Vedanta is a wonderful path. So is Buddhism, which I practiced for 20 years before that.

And. Speaking only for my own highly subjective self, it wasn’t until I let divine love come and take up residence within, (an effect of following the Everything-Is-One path taught by A Course In Miracles and others) that I was somehow freed up to recognize formless emptiness as the one true underpinning of all existence. I have no opinion on the comparative merits of each of these teachings I mention. I’m not playing favorites here. I’m just pointing out that I haven’t really seemed able to get to those realizations by following any one single path or teaching. I seem to need that blend.

These differing streams have all worked for me in beautiful harmony, like the threads of a tapestry. Squiggly on the backside, but—surprise!—coming together into a cohesive picture on the front.

Maybe that’s just me.

But if my strange and wiggly path rings a bell for you too, then I would offer this advice:

Try not to be insistent about what your path is supposed to look like. Trust in the wisdom of your higher Self, which is always ultimately in charge of the journey.

No matter how random the roadtrip might seem at times…no doubt the universe—and your own experience of its divine perfection—is unfolding as it should.

(Hum uplifting Desiderata choir music here.)

Sooner or later every road leads home, is what I’m saying. Of that much I’m certain.

A Year without Fear: GOING STEADY WITH GOD

going steadyThere’s a scene in Private Benjamin where Goldie Hawn enters an army recruitment office and is shown a beautiful, slick brochure on the benefits of modern military life. She’s so impressed, she enlists right on the spot.

But when she arrives at bootcamp in Mississippi, she’s confused: Quonset huts. Latrines. What the hell? This is definitely not what she signed up for.

“I think there’s been a mistake,” she tells the drill sergeant. “I joined the other army. You know, the one with the condos, and the private rooms.”

•          •          •

Asking to know spiritual truth is a lot like that. The brochure looks great, and plenty of us sign up for it right there and then. But it’s never what we think it’s going to be. We imagine a perfected “spiritual self” who never gets upset, never has issues. A luminous, blissful peace-bunny spreading divine love and joy to a thankful world.

The truth, it turns out, seems so distastefully alien by comparison to our spiritual fantasies—so upside-down from everything we think we want—that it’s damn near impossible to stand still long enough to even consider it.

At least, that’s how it’s been for me. For years I’ve been patiently shown the truth over and over, and over again. I’ve seen it in videos, I’ve read it in books, I’ve witnessed it in visions. It shows up in my email inbox.

But each time I’ve brushed it away.

Because that’s not the truth I signed up for. I wanted the one with the condos.

•          •          •

I really want to know God. It’s been an unstoppable urge for a while now. In the last post I spoke of being in the goodnight-kiss-at-the front-door stage of my relationship with God—but the desire to go all the way, so to speak, is a craving that seems to emanate from the depths of my soul. It’s really my one great desire.

And that’s a fairly uncomfortable predicament to be in, when the only way to know God is to get with the program and agree to accept the irritatingly, disappointingly unacceptable truth of existence:

There’s nothing to fix. Nothing to teach. Nothing to learn, and nothing to heal.

Everything is perfect exactly as it is right now, because everything and everybody is composed entirely of God. Joined in perfect oneness with God. No matter what things look like, and no matter what disastrous effects those things may seem to be having on your life, or the world…innocence and safety, love, peace and joy are the only things going on in truth.

 There’s nothing to accomplish or do. You already have it, and ARE it. Stop striving to be better. Stop yearning to wake up. Stop trying to escape from your perfectly imperfect circumstances. Your job is just to be. Recognize you don’t know anything about anything. Refuse to judge anything you see. Have faith that it’s all innocent. Disbelieve everything your mind tells you, and instead walk through life snuggled deeply, blindly, trustingly in God.

 There is no “you,” no spiritual self who can heal the world. You can’t bring love into this world—bodies can’t bring love to other bodies. You can only see through the illusions this world of bodies presents to you, and find your one true love in God.

 

Needless to say, I had some wee issues with all that—particularly the business about there being nothing to heal or fix or teach. Also the bit about being just dandy, thank you very much, exactly as I am right now. Come to think of it, I’m not crazy about big chunks of the truth, to be honest. My mind is still spluttering its indignation.

But I got sick of seeing the truth gauntlet thrown down in front of me every time I turned around. And even sicker of stepping daintily over it, pretending it wasn’t there.

•          •          •

Last night, before falling asleep I finally agreed to drop my resistance to the truth (despite its distasteful appearances), and to try joining fully with All-That-Is.

But on one condition.

A prayer, of sorts: You know everything about me, my thoughts, my beliefs. You’re there when I fart. You’ve seen me have sex. But I know nothing, really, about you. Give me a hint. Show me how you see things. Help me know you better.

I slept as I normally would, dreaming about nothing in particular. But then I woke in the early morning with a strong sense that I was in the presence of a huge entity of some kind. It was vast, deep, powerful. It felt thoroughly benign. No…more than just benign: It was wholly suffused with God.

I felt I ought to recognize who or what this entity was. It seemed somehow familiar, yet I couldn’t quite place it. And then suddenly I realized:

Oh. My. God. This is the devil.

I was seeing Satan—as viewed through a completely sane mind.

•          •          •

Well, I asked for an example of God’s truth. That was a pretty good one.

Alrighty then.

A radiantly gentle, spotlessly innocent Satan is pretty clear testimony to the fact that I know abso-freaking-lutely nothing about anything. (Not to mention that my lifelong terror of the supernatural is a pointless joke.)

If the devil is perfectly, luminously innocent, you might ask…then what the hell isn’t?

That’s a very good question. Oops-a-daisy. I may have made a teensy mistake here, wasting my time judging and condemning everything and everybody, 24/7…

Because, apparently I’m entirely wrong about everything. I mean, like, ENTIRELY wrong. About EVERYTHING.

Which means my distaste for God’s truth is probably all wrong, too.

Probably. In all likelihood.

•          •          •

So it’s looking like God might be marriage material after all. Possibly it’s time for me to get serious, and stop playing hard to get.

I guess I’d better start picking up the phone whenever the truth calls, instead of letting it go to voicemail. Because I suspect we’ll probably be seeing a whole lot more of each other from now on.

 

A Year Without Fear: ME AND MY SHADOW

shadowConfession: Ever since the shadow-man’s nocturnal visit a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been afraid of the dark. Just like old times.

It’s a colossal flashback to a pattern I thought I cleared ages ago, and I’m a little bummed out to find myself seemingly back at this same scaredy-cat spot once more.

In the last post, I discovered it was necessary to embrace and accept the unseen supernatural world, because it’s an aspect of the self. Because I created it, and am therefore responsible for it. I learned that if I choose instead to remain terrified of it, shoving it out of my perception, perceiving it as something out there, then I’m choosing to stay separate from, and terrified of, myself.

And that’s not cool. That’s not acceptable.

In that last post I also learned that all benevolent entities, deities and protective forces are also me. And that’s fabulous news—in theory.

When both the dark and light aspects of the self are embraced equally and seen correctly through healed perception—again, in theory—my hope would be that they would balance out: The illusory dark would learn to make nice with the light, and eventually find a way to quietly melt together with it into oneness.

None of which does me much good at the moment, because of one teensy technicality—and it’s the same stumbling block that just about everybody bumps up against at one time or another:

Opposing beliefs are hardly ever evenly matched. So you experience the one you believe in most.

If you say you want wealth, for instance, but you’re way more convinced about the reality of lack than you are about the existence of abundance, then lack is what you experience. Not because you deserve lack, but simply because your belief in your own ability to be abundant is a pale, will-o-the-wisp yearning, compared to the muscular certainty of your expectation of lack. Lack kicks abundance’s butt every time, until such time as abundance firmly takes up residence as your predominant belief instead.

So …when it’s up in my face (as it is right now), it seems I believe in the scary stuff with every quaking fiber of my being. My longstanding terror relationship with the unseen world is way stronger than my newish trust relationship with those protective entities of love and light.

My unconscious mind is thoroughly convinced of the reality of the scary stuff. My conscious mind—the top 15% of the iceberg that sticks out above the waterline—has forged some delicately lovely new relationships with angels, guides and God, over the past few years, and it thinks those recent alliances are totally swell.

But those wonderful new relationships are still in the tentative dating stage. And the supernatural is a bitterly vindictive spouse that’s fighting the divorce papers with all it’s got.

Which relationship is more real to me? Which one brings more lawyers to the table?

You do the math.

So yes, it’s all me. But the terrifying ‘me’ who goes bump in the night is the one that’s in the ascendancy at the moment. And I can’t help but illogically, unconsciously believe in it 1,000%. I deeply trust it to do its malignant worst.

The joyously illuminated ‘me’ of much more recent dating history, (the ‘me’ whose parents I haven’t even met yet) is not particularly a comfort in this situation. I suspect it loves me but I’m pretty sure it’s seeing other people.

So I really haven’t committed. I haven’t fully learned to trust it or believe in it yet.

And if I don’t truly believe in that beautiful new relationship when push comes to shove—and I don’t, and it has—then it’s a fairly useless form of protection, and will be total crap as an evenly matched force for neutralizing darkness.

So that’s why I’ve been afraid of the dark ever since the night of the shadow-man: I’ve lost all protection, because I can’t be counted on to protect me from me.

•          •          •

It’s not like I’ve been passive about this retreat into terror. It’s not like the old days—I don’t ignore it or run away anymore. I don’t put healing off for some illusory future tomorrow. Every day and night I’ve indicated willingness to take that journey into darkness, to see what it’s made of.

I’ve prayed for a way in. I’ve poked at this supernatural terror repeatedly with a stick; I’ve put my arms around it and tried to love it open. But this thing has seemingly rolled itself up tight into an impenetrably armored ball.

It’s the Armadillo of Doom. The Hedgehog of Horror. And there seems to be no way of making the little monster unroll and show itself to me.

I’ve managed periodically to spend some quality moments dissolved into oneness with my highest wisdom Self, where all fearful stories are recognized, at least temporarily, as fantasy.

Yesterday, while joined with the Self, I said: “I know none of this is real in truth. I don’t care about the past-life stories or whatever else this thing holds—I’ll relive it all if it’s necessary for my healing, but I’m really just interested in accepting and releasing it, so I can know myself in wholeness. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, this crusty ancient fear—it doesn’t leave me alone. It feels like it’s clawing to get out. It seems to want to make itself known in my awareness, but can’t quite manage to come to the surface and show itself to me. What will it take for this thing to open up and reveal itself? How can I help? How do I get this process underway?”

The answer: You have indicated that you choose a quick and gentle path devoid of agony. Therefore, you’ll need to develop much deeper trust in your guides, angels and God. Before you go down this road, you will need to believe in them every bit as strongly as you currently believe in your fear. Otherwise, fear will overtake you.

 It’s all you; all the illusory beings of dark and light are aspects of the one great Self. And only Love is real. But you don’t truly believe these things yet. In order to walk through this seeming valley of darkness without experiencing great pain and fear, it’s necessary that you believe the two ‘teams’ are evenly matched. Your trust in light will need to be at least as strong as your belief in darkness. Then, as you witness the contents of your armored ball, you’ll be free to choose which interpretation to believe: The unfathomable horrors of darkness, or the unfathomable innocence of light.

 If you try to pry open that ball right now, you will find it very difficult to view its contents through the eyes of Love. Yes, the ball wants to be seen by you (for you have offered it welcome), but you must prepare yourself first, if you wish to view its contents correctly.

Give all your love and trust to those aspects of the Self that offer you their infinite Love and support in return. Forge a relationship that can’t be broken. And then we can revisit the armadillo after that.

•          •          •

It’s a bit of a Catch-22, or so it seems to me.

I’ve discovered that the story goes like this, inside the deepest crevices of my unconscious mind: Fear of the supernatural equals fear of the self…which equals fear of the one great Self…which equals fear of God. It’s all the same damn thing.

In order to trust fully in God as an ally in the release of fear, I need to first release my desperate fear of God’s supreme untrustworthiness as an ally. To stop fearing fear, in other words, I have to cozy up to God—whom I’m desperately afraid of.

Which is why God and I are still in the goodnight-kiss-at-the-front-door stage of our relationship. Right now it’s just a serious flirtation, but part of me believes I’m playing with fire.

If I invite Love in for a nightcap (whispers my darkest unconscious mind) who the hell knows what may happen?

Who knows what horrible death, what terrifying loss of identity would result if I give myself to oneness? It’s all fun and games, as the saying goes, until someone loses an ‘I.’

•          •          •

So which is worse? Being swallowed up by the devil, or being dissolved into oneness with God? To a deep unconscious mind, it’s the same thing.

I seem to be at an impasse, here. But the operative word is seem. Experience has shown me that a roadblock is only impenetrable if I say it is. All roadblocks are illusory; they’re made of smoke and mirrors. Which means there has to be another way of seeing this. I’m sure there’s another way through. I just don’t know what it is, yet.

Next time God and I get together for pizza and a movie, I’ll be sure to ask.

A Year Without Fear: WHO YA GONNA CALL?

ghostbustersI came into this life with a major chip on my shoulder toward the supernatural. And by ‘supernatural,’ I meant all things unseen, from ghosts and angels to demons and faeries, to chakras, auras, the devil and God. I was blindly terrified by all of it. Wanted nothing whatsoever to do with any of it.

Yet it all felt so alarmingly, threateningly close by. So I slammed and locked all possible doors of entry, fingers plugged securely in ears, eyes squeezed shut, my quavering solo rendition of La-La-La-La-La echoing tunelessly throughout the black, malicious universe.

But then a spiritual life started following me around. Licking my hand, gazing at me imploringly with those irresistible puppydog eyes. What’s a body to do? I brought it home to live with me. And with it came a gradual acceptance of unseen guides and helpers, and maybe (grudgingly) an angel or two. I even began to consider revising my opinion of God.

Old fears started to heal. I found I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore. But I knew there was still a deep, untouched core of terror at the heart of this supernatural issue. And that was more or less ok with me. It could stay there if it wanted, down in the horrifying icy depths, as long as it promised never to come out and do its unimaginably evil thang in my presence.

•          •          •

But then I started regularly visiting England a couple of years ago. Home, seemingly, to a disproportionate number of the entities on that original supernatural shit list. Between the ghosts, faeries and ley line whatnots, ‘supernatural’ is the UK’s Middle Earth-middle name.

One day in April of 2012, on a drizzly park bench at the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, I was suddenly shown an inspiration by my higher self that caused me to take a spontaneous vow: I agreed to stop hiding. To take my fingers out of my ears, open my eyes and stop blocking my own gifts of awareness. It was a vow to fully let in the supernatural, as well as my own true relationship with it—whatever that might be. (For the complete story of this event, see That ‘Ol Black Magic, written in May of that year.)

The vow itself scared the bejeezus out of me. But I knew it was the right thing. Even if I wasn’t ready to actually do what it suggested at that time, at least the intention for wholeness had been set.

•          •          •

These days I live on a farm in the Southwest of England. The farm property dates back to Georgian times, as does nearly every other building within a 10-mile radius. (That’s ‘Georgian’ as in King George, by the way. You know, the one who reigned during the American Revolution. 250-odd years of inhabitants between then and now, is what I’m saying.)

Uh oh.

Luckily, a lot has changed for me over the past two years, and one of those changes is that the supernatural core of terror has begun to melt of its own accord. So much so, that I’ve developed a sort of an unexpectedly fond relationship with a rather playful entity that seems to intermittently share the place with us.

Which doesn’t freak me out. Its antics amuse me (usually), and it, in turn, seems to enjoy my responses.

And in those times when it isn’t funny—when, for instance, the sat nav disappears from the table where Steve put it just moments before rushing out the door to an appointment, I chide the unseen entity as I would an 8-year-old. And the next time I turn and look, the GPS unit has been put back where Steve left it.

It means us no harm, this thing. I think it’s probably just bored.

But I wasn’t congratulating myself on the healing of the supernatural issue. Not quite yet.

Because even though I’ve been forming peculiar little relationships with, um, invisible friends, I knew full well that there was still an entire universe of unseen stuff that I was resisting.

And somewhere in there, the terror was alive and well.

•          •          •

A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep. I was physically uncomfortable, funny little electrical impulses running through my legs. I felt like I couldn’t get enough oxygen, like my body was compulsively demanding deep, rhythmic breathwork. (But I didn’t want to do breathwork in the middle of the night. I wanted to sleep.)

My mind felt like it does whenever the veil is too thin for comfort—scratchy, swirly, trance-y, with a feeling of old, stuck emotions coming up in the far distance. I watched as grief and terror showed themselves faintly before being squashed again, scolded like wayward children and sent back to their prison cells without supper.

I knew something big was coming up, asking for healing and release. I strongly suspected it was the supernatural thing. I got out of bed, not wanting to disturb Steve, and went to sit by myself in the darkened living room.

Uneasily, I reviewed my options. I could keep the whole thing bottled up for the rest of this lifetime; I could go on holding back the terror avalanche that pressed against the door of my conscious awareness. It had sort of worked thus far, and would probably keep doing the job for another several decades. Damn, except for one thing: That vow I made back in 2012…I promised. I swore I’d heal this issue.

Besides, much more recently than 2012, I signed an agreement with my higher self, to live a year without fear. There were no exclusionary clauses in that contract. I’m either all in, or I’m not.

But the supernatural is a special category.

No it isn’t. There are no special categories.

It was time to get at that silent-screaming core of horror. Time to see it, feel it and let it go, once and for all. (Assuming I did not drop dead of fright first, of course.)

So I went into negotiation mode.

Ok if I have to do it now, I’m the one who gets to choose how it goes down. I refuse to do it the hard way. The hellishly heart-attack-making, agonizing way. It’s either gentle and easy, or I don’t wanna play.

I must have dozed off after that. Groggy, I roused myself and shuffled back toward the bedroom. As I groped my way toward the door, I suddenly stopped, stepping back with a gasp.

A dark figure stood between me and the bedroom door. I could see no features, no gender, no clothing. Just a bald-headed shape of a slender human body, slightly taller than me. Standing there. Waiting.

At first I thought it must be Steve, passing me in the hallway on his way to the bathroom. But it did not move.

Was it a trick of the eyes? A shadow? I couldn’t be certain, but it didn’t seem like either one. This thing had…gravitas, for lack of a better word. A sort of weight, or presence.

I wasn’t afraid, exactly, but let’s just say I was very alert. Very.

I surveyed it as closely as I could in the dark. Its essence seemed neutral, empty of ambition or intent. I didn’t know what it wanted, but apart from its slightly forbidding appearance it didn’t seem to mean me any harm.

As we stood facing each other (less than 2 feet apart), I reached up to tighten the belt on my bathrobe. To my amazement, it reached up simultaneously and made the identical gesture at its own waist. Even though it wore no bathrobe.

In a flash I understood.

“OMG! It’s me!” I laughed out loud and walked right through it without a thought, opened the door and went back to bed.

•          •          •

I lay in the dark, thinking about that non-accidental proclamation, OMG! It’s me!

I knew it was a teaching. This was the easy, gentle lesson I’d asked to learn.

A couple of blog posts ago, in I Am $600,000 (and so are you) I had learned to accept responsibility for the creation of the whole 3-D world. I recognized not only that I had created it, but that I was it, for better and worse. And that felt like plenty to digest and accept at that time.

But let’s be honest, the 3-D portion of the cosmos is only a tiny fraction of all the vast stuff we creators create. The whole unseen world has to be accepted as my own creation—and my own responsibility—as well.

Through that slender, naked shadow-man, I had been gently shown the mind-boggling truth: Everything that seems to exist, whether seen or unseen, is part of myself. The good, the bad, the ugly. The supernatural. They are all my creations, and I’m responsible for them.

And if I remain in terror of them, then I remain terrified of myself.

This was a lot to take in. I started to call on Archangel Michael and various assorted guides of divine light and love, asking them to lead and protect me as I processed this alarming new information. (I also didn’t want to encounter any more shadow-men without beefing up my security detail first.) But halfway through the call for help I realized…oh shit…they’re all me, too.

They’re happy to assist for as long as I believe I need it, but they want me to recognize this: They don’t have anything I haven’t already got myself, because they’re not separate from me in any way. Their power is my own.

There’s only me, apparently. Only one of us in truth.

It sounds great as spiritual theory, this business of being all one.

But in practice, it’s a hell of a thing to stand still for, let alone embrace.

I decided not to resist the new information. And with this decision, I was shown a vision of myself, teeth gritted, grimacing with the supreme effort of holding back the wall made of self: The wall of unseen supernatural knowing and dread, which is actually nothing more than a part of me that’s begging to come home and be loved. I watched as I sagged, collapsing against the wall, exhausted.

To my great surprise, this act of surrender did not release the hounds of hell. It brought peace. The weight of eons, lifted.

•          •          •

I’m still afraid. I still don’t want to encounter things of evil intent (or even things of spooky demeanor), if I can possibly help it. I know I still have work to do.

But this was a biggie, this acceptance of responsibility for the supernatural. I have undergone the DNA testing to determine its parentage, and OMG, it’s me.

So there you go. It turns out that in the clear light of oneness, I am both the ghostbuster and the ghost. And the same, my dear, is true of you. Which makes that old question a surprisingly interesting one:

Who, indeed, are ya gonna call?

 

A Year Without Fear: LOVE IS A THING WITH WINGS, DAMMIT

thing with wingsIn my chosen spiritual ocean, I’ve spent many a pruney year dog-paddling in circles around the idea of unconditional love. It’s an authentically healthy love (I’m told), one that offers complete freedom and true healing to all who experience it. And all, apparently, are equally worthy of it.

It’s a beautiful theory. And to practice unconditional love feels totally great as an abstract exercise—always performed on my own terms, of course, and only when I’m in the mood for it.

But in real-life daily practice? Where it actually counts? I’ve barely dipped a toe into that pool. I’m talking about real, true, healthy unconditional love. I want to see how it applies on a blood-pumping individual, interpersonal human level—you know, the one where we actually live.

What does truly healthy love even look like? I mean seriously—I want specific personal knowledge of how it works. How it feels to do it. (This is where the spiritual books all scurry forward to fill the experience gap, flipping open to well-thumbed pages:

Healthy love, they inform us, is given freely and without a need to get anything in return. It’s a love that holds no creepy crawly strings or hidden clauses: I’ll love you IF. Healthy love is our true identity, they say. We become whole as we remember our own wholly loving nature.)

Yes, I know all that. But I’m tired of letting book-knowledge substitute for lived experience. There’s no liberation in it.

 

•          •          •

 

These days, I’m all about bringing my own interior darkness to light. Historically, some areas have always seemed darker and more persistently painful than others. They refused to go away, so I told myself they were beyond my power to heal or transcend.

But I’ve grown bored with telling myself the lie that I’m helpless to transcend my own crap. In fact I’m not the slightest bit helpless, and never was. (No one is.) In my mostly unconscious misuse of my infinite God-given creative power, I have created my own suffering entirely by free-will choice. I accept this truth; I own it, I take responsibility for it. And having recognized and embraced this unlimited creative force within, along with its unconsciously crappy effects, I am therefore free to un-create those effects anytime I choose.

So there was this black hole of self-hatred and unworthiness that I spoke about last time. I reported that it had miraculously healed all by itself. But I didn’t tell you that in the months leading up to that profound transformation, I had chosen to shine a light into that deeply unconscious black hole for the very first time, to see what was in it.

(A black hole is not a place that readily accepts illumination, by the way. And nothing can escape from it. Which was why I had never seemingly been able to touch its interior in all my years of trying. Until I finally recognized the black hole’s existence depended solely on my permission. I had created it, and my choice to let it endure was the only thing holding it in place. It behaved as a black hole would, in other words, until I saw I was bigger than it was. Upon realizing my own power over it, I found I was suddenly able to access its secrets, because I had granted myself entry.)

Upon examination, I saw that the black hole was a sort of a cosmic bucket without a bottom. And forever falling through that bottomless bucket was a tiny, terrified self in search of a worldly identity. A ‘me’ that was unable to offer itself the smallest crumb of love or compassion. A self that fruitlessly searched the external world for evidence of its own lovability and worth. But even when that evidence showed up, there was no ground to hold it. No matter how desperately the small self grasped at those bits of external validation, nothing could stay. It all fell right through the hole.

That black hole was the very essence of neediness and terror.

We are told in spiritual practice—and in every self-help guide ever written—that real love is within. And it’s clearly true. Real safety, real peace, real wholeness and real validation can’t possibly come from anybody but the self. Trying to get any of those things from another person (who, let’s face it, has their own black hole to deal with) is, in the immortal words of George Carlin, like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.

It has to be an inside job. The external approach simply can’t cut it. But I knew no other way. I tried doing what the spiritual teachers said. I really did.

I looked very hard for a very long time, searching determinedly within for all that juicy good stuff.

But the black hole just couldn’t love me back.

 

•          •          •

 

I’m married to a gorgeous guy who is delighted to be married to me, and isn’t shy about telling me so. I luxuriate in his loving approval. I know exactly how lucky I am.

He and I find ourselves participating in spiritual retreats together fairly often, either as presenters or attendees.

Retreats are funny things. Due to the nature of the exercises involved, everybody wanders around with wide-open hearts. Beautiful souls who are often starved for true communion (with the Self!) gain temporary nourishment from the next best thing: In the safety of the retreat setting, we all let glimmers of our true beauty out. A bunch of magnificent open-hearted angels, holding up shining mirrors to one other. And everybody falls a little bit in love with everyone else’s light.

Is this a problem? No, of course not. It’s beautiful. It’s an honor to participate in it. But the needy Black Hole Troll has been known to have an issue with it now and then—like when the husband’s light gets admired a little too much, if you know what I mean. Or vice versa.

But how much is too much? Degrees of anything is a fool’s game. I know better. Trying to manage something by degrees is a slippery slope that leads directly toward suffering and away from liberation. There are really only two choices: There’s either healthy, authentic unconditional love (which has no degrees, and means total freedom is extended to the spouse, to give and receive love as he sees fit)—or there’s guaranteed darkness and pain.

I’m not talking about monogamy or fidelity, here, by the way. That is a closely related subject, only because we humans who are so starved for authentic light and purity of love, often confuse its beauty for the kind we’re more familiar with. And then complications ensue. But that’s a topic for some other blog post.

Right now I’m just talking about my own exploration of the perceived danger, the extreme threat that seems to rear its head when a loved one is allowed in fullness, as a sovereign being, to receive love or express open-hearted admiration for the light of others.

Last month, the husband and I attended a retreat workshop at a beautiful monastery in Israel. Our group took over the entire monastery. The only other person staying there at the time was a lovely woman on a personal silent retreat, who spent her days in walking meditation out in the garden.

She did nothing to call attention to herself. She wore no makeup, her hair was pulled back in a simple low ponytail. She wore plain white cotton shift dresses and flat shoes. She was the essence of humility. The women in our group (if they noticed her at all) saw her and smiled at her lovely simplicity, and then gave her no second thought.

The men in our group zeroed in on her like flies to honey, like moths to a candle flame. They obsessed over her, speculating about her, telling themselves and each other stories about her presumed state of elevated ethereal awareness. Some of them even followed her around and made general pests of themselves.

Observing her effect on all of the men, yet none of the women, I would ordinarily be inclined to call it a simple case of pheromones, dressed up in spiritual claptrap. Except for the effect she had on my husband.

The first time he saw her, he didn’t actually see her. He was facing me, and his back was turned to her as she walked quietly past our group. He nearly fell off his chair, swiveling to see who it was that possessed such a powerfully tranquil vibration of stillness and peace. Screw the workshop. He wanted more of that.

I didn’t like it a bit. And I wasn’t entirely sure why. What possible threat was it to me—I mean really? I did quite a lot of conscious spiritual work around it while it was all going on. But I admit it, I was not crazy about Stillness Girl’s effect on my darling spouse.

It wasn’t until days after we’d left the monastery behind that I realized why. Steve and I were playing hooky that day, relaxing on beach chairs beside the Sea of Galilee while everybody else was being carted around on a tour of the area. I was deep in thought on my beach chair, sitting with crossed legs as I often do, one foot swinging rhythmically in tempo with the noise in my head. Steve gently put a hand on my leg to stop its incessant motion, before sitting down on his own beach chair. And as he did it, a flash of insight showed me what the hell my problem was. What it had always been.

I am not still. I don’t exude profound tranquility. If I walked behind you, trust me, no swiveling would occur—not for that reason, anyway. So it seemed to me that the Lady in White had something I lacked. And that’s the part that felt so threatening. That’s the part that felt like a rebuke, a judgment, an accusation, whenever the spouse admired a quality in somebody that I believe I lack.

Stillness. Straight hair. A lyrical recording voice.

Whatever it might be that I think I lack, his innocent admiration or love of it in another felt like abandonment, betrayal and finger-wagging all at once. And that made it the worst possible kind of identity theft—it threatened my identity as the one who is loved. But that’s the black hole that was doing the talking. Not Steve.

Steve actually has never agreed with my troll-self in its unloving assessment of me. So he couldn’t figure out why I would find such a thing threatening. The way he sees it, his open-hearted admiration of the Lady in White (or anyone else) did not in any way take away from his love and admiration for me. And you know what? He’s right.

But I didn’t truly know he was right until the Black Hole Troll gave up its post a week or two after our return from Israel. I’m not 100% free of dark misperceptions about myself yet, but I am truthfully beginning to recognize myself as the Beloved. Yes, the Beloved, with a great big gorgeous capital ‘B.’ And that recognition is a breathtakingly short hop away from seeing everybody and everything else as that, too.

Case in point: The other day in the car on the way to the post office, I suddenly choked up and cried a little. Because the English countryside in bloom is just so fucking lovely, I became overwhelmed with joy.

It—and I!—were indescribably beautiful and perfect and whole. So much tenderly magnificent Belovedness all around, my lumpy little emotional system couldn’t cope.

In those brief moments of authentic Belovedness, I know without a doubt that inside where it counts, I am approved of to an unimaginable degree. And because of this, I now know my safety and my true identity can never be withdrawn. External events can’t touch it.

 

•          •          •

 

So how does all this Belovedness change things, in the neediness/jealousy/control department? I’m not sure yet what the changes will look like, but I’m guessing it will shift the landscape profoundly.

I still observe myself wanting to clip Steve’s wings, to limit his freedom, as a knee-jerk response to perceived threat. But I know it isn’t the way forward. I know it doesn’t lead to safety or happiness. So I immediately bring a “sun of illumination” into that dark desire for constriction. And as this gently brilliant searchlight streams its loving rays into every shadowy corner, I allow for the (terrifying? unthinkable?) possibility that my husband can actually be free to give and receive love as he wishes without it harming or stealing anything at all from me personally.

Gasp.

Is this really true? Am I safe whether Steve’s love is kept for me alone or extended freely like blown dandelion seeds? It’s mighty scary territory, even with the newfound knowledge that the Beloved is within. Because letting love out of the cage is just about the most frightening step imaginable for this tiny little ego self. And once love is out of its cage, I’m pretty sure there’ll be no stuffing it back in.

But I do know this: I have thoroughly clung to the alternative throughout my entire life. And for fifty-something years, my futile attempts to contain and control love have brought me only pain. So I’m setting aside the books and the teachings of theoretical unconditional love, and am finally taking my own shaky steps onto the diving board.

I hope to God I can swim.

 

PS, if it interests you, I have a free e-book that touches on some of these same topics. It’s called I AM THE LOVE OF MY LIFE (a field guide to unconditional love for self and others). Download it from my website or from Kobo.com

WAKING UP. SMELLING THE COFFEE.

love me some coffeeThere’s been a lot of talk among God’s students lately about food’s perfect innocence. How it’s neither good nor bad for you, how it doesn’t make you thin or fat, sick or healthy. How (like every other aspect of this 3-D illusion), food is entirely neutral. That I’m the one who gives it all the meaning it has for me. If I say it’s fattening, in other words, then it is. If I say it’ll make me sick—or well—then it will.

I get it in principle. I’ll bet many of us do.

Well, forget the theoretical realm. I decided to test it out for real. And I had just the perfect test subject in mind:  Lately coffee disagrees with me in a big way. And you know how I love my morning coffee. That sexy siren scent wafts in from the kitchen and I either give in and have a cup—and then spend the morning wishing I hadn’t—or I deny myself a cup and spend the morning wishing I had.

So it was a perfect test candidate, then.

Today I wanted a cup, but decided to check in first to see if it was a good idea or not. It’s the first time I ever asked for internal divine wisdom beforehand, instead of just making the decision unilaterally.  The few times I tested this food innocence business in the past, I made my choice to eat or drink something, then after that I asked my Highest Self to be present with me while I ate or drank it.  Then I ate or drank consciously, together with Spirit, giving it my best attempt to enjoy those foods I thought were bad for me.  Doing my best to let them be neutral while I consumed them.

My results were always inconclusive.

•                •                 •

Today, when I checked in prior to pouring the coffee, I got schooled on how it’s really done:

By drinking coffee with your digestive tract in its current state, worldly laws indicate you will suffer for it.

 If you want to experience no ill effect from this coffee, you must withdraw all belief from your self-created universe of hate and rage (which is the only power that upholds worldly laws), and place FULL trust in me. Through me, you will be able to see and feel the coffee’s true innocence. Not a concept of innocence, as your thinking mind would generate, but a true knowing of its innocence.

I silently agreed to withdraw all belief from worldly laws, and to lean into holy truth instead.

The coffee is neutral. Do you feel this?

“Yes.”

Good. In its neutrality, the love of God shines through it.

I saw that the moment my beliefs about it were released, the coffee’s true God-nature was revealed: It was lovely, gently radiant in its ineffable holiness.

Now look at your stomach and digestive system. They, too, are perfectly neutral. They, too, are suffused with God. More than suffused, actually. They are composed of the God Self, as is the coffee in its cup. As is the cup.

 Can you feel your wholeness, dear one? All is the God Self. In this knowledge (which is always felt, and never intellectualized through the thinking mind), nothing in this world can ever harm you. You are just pretending to shuffle bits of your God Self from one spot to the next. It’s all you. It’s all equally innocent and harmless, and it all cherishes the infinite perfection that you really are.

I relaxed into the profound safety and joy of this simple truth. My world shimmered with God-awareness.

Now, in this peaceful certainty that coffee is your own love shining its holiness, you can temporarily reunite it with a dream of a 3-D digestive system which is also shining its holy God Self. By resting in this truth, coffee can have no ill effects. Nor could it ever want to. It has been reminded of its own perfect innocence in you. It has been liberated, dear one, and welcomed back into the one holy Self.

The awareness of divine gentleness, love and safety has persisted all morning, coloring every aspect of my perception.  And oh my, that cup of coffee went down easy.

I think I’ll have another.

Science or God?

Science or God?

Recently, as part of an article about atheism, I was asked the following question by Illuminata Magazine:

Q: How do you respond to Richard Dawkins’ brand of ‘informed’ atheism supported by scientific investigation? Or what would you tell somebody who’s confused by all these genetic theories that these gentlemen use to prove what they call the ‘God Delusion’?

Frankly, I had to look the guy up. These kinds of arguments hold little interest for me anymore, and this is why:

A: I don’t respond to Richard Dawkins’ brand (or indeed any other brand) of scientific argument around the existence of God. Richard Dawkins is a brilliantly intelligent man, and I understand why he has arrived at many of his scientific conclusions. And I also understand why his arguments would appeal to many. But intellectual brilliance and science are Stone Age tools, quite frankly, when engaged in a search for God; they’re hopelessly crude and thoroughly unequal to the task.

I too was once a cynic, by the way, and for many years it never even occurred to me God might actually exist. I just assumed God was a made-up concept designed to prevent me from sleeping in on weekend mornings. And then one day I had a spiritual experience. I wasn’t looking for it—it just happened.

And that’s the funny thing about all intellectual arguments for or against the existence of God. They don’t matter worth a damn, because God is not ever found through the intellect. Authentic spirituality is a felt experience that bypasses the intellect entirely, and permanently changes one’s perception. And when that experience occurs, mere intellectual understanding or opinion or argument is completely eclipsed by Knowing, and that’s knowing with a capital ‘K.’

I have experienced that which could be called God (or Divine Source, or any of a hundred different names) many times. Not only is it real, in my knowing God is the only thing that’s real. This world as we think we know it, is not real. All the great spiritual teachings of the world say the same thing. All is one, in truth.

As Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” And my knowing concurs with this scientific statement. (Einstein was not speculating on the existence of God here, just making a general statement about our perception of the world versus its actual properties.)

To the naked eye, science and spirituality appear to be diametrically opposed, with opinions and “proof” flying on both sides. I’m not interested. I hew to a higher truth, a deeper knowing. I do not require theories or proof to back up the truth, because real truth, once experienced, blows everything else out of the water.

I have no investment in trying to persuade anyone of this. Until one experiences it for himself or herself, what I’ve just described makes no sense. Or perhaps it sounds (to an intellect) like I’m advocating a big frosty glass of happy juice, an abdication of rational thought in favor of unicorns and rainbows.

Actually I would suggest the opposite—that it’s exceedingly healthy to maintain a certain skepticism as one treads a spiritual path. Take no one’s word for anything. Have your own firsthand experience.

For anyone truly interested in a serious search for the existence of God (as opposed to intellectual brawling as ego entertainment) I would suggest this: Go someplace quiet, be still, and ask. Just ask, very sincerely and with a completely open mind, for evidence of the truth one way or the other. Evidence of God, or no God.

Call it a scientific experiment if you like. And see what happens.

 

 

WHEN IS A BACKLASH NOT A BACKLASH?


Rooster Crowing at Dawn --- Image by © G. Baden/zefa/CorbisBack in the day – say, 5 or 6 years ago – it seemed that every time I got on a spiritual roll, every time I felt big breakthroughs in wisdom, trust, love or peace, I knew this wonderful sense of expansion would come only as the first half of a 2-part cycle: I could expect an inevitable ego crash shortly afterward. You could set your clocks by it; a dreadfully fuzzed-out period of lethargic contraction that would arrive right on the heels of all that glory, every time, as night follows day.

2 weeks of confusion, stagnation, depression and/or ‘spiritual amnesia,’ of the sort where one actually forgets both the original breakthrough and the beautiful clarity that accompanied it. I’d watch that slo-mo wave of sickly ego backlash rising up to engulf me, and feel utterly powerless to stop it. After all, what goes up must come down, right? And who am I to mess with Newtonian physics?

•          •          •

Thankfully, after several years of deepening spiritual maturity, the 2-week ego crashes are no more. These days it’s more like a very occasional few hours of temporary insanity. But regardless of the duration or frequency, I see these egoic backlashes in a very different light, nowadays.

Now, they’re interesting opportunities.

•          •          •

Lately, as I’ve traveled the world and stayed in homes and accommodations not my own, I’ve noticed how very narrow my tolerances are when it comes to bodily comfort: Heat vs cold; light vs darkness. Too dirty or too clean (oh yes, there is such a thing as excessive cleanliness.)

How just a few degrees one way or the other can make or ruin my experience. How European daylight at 4am is so much harder than Californian daybreak at 6.

And don’t even get me started on the topic of plumbing. Talk about narrow comfort preferences! I really had no idea just how high-maintenance I really am.

So I’m noticing very keenly how much energy and effort are spent trying to keep the body comfortable and the personal preferences satisfied. Full time job, really. And the reason I’m noticing it so acutely is because lately these tolerances and preferences of mine have been taking a beating. Bigtime.

All of this observation of my own brittle needs and preferences occurs against a backdrop of huge recent leaps toward spiritual freedom: I’ve been happily getting my mind blown and perceptions shattered – yes, again! – by the Way of Mastery series of books and videos. They’re a pointblank invitation to ‘stop being a spiritual seeker, and start being a spiritual finder.’

They present a stark challenge to just get on with it: You say you want the fully awakened, 100% embodied experience of knowing yourself as One with Heaven? Then start right now. This minute. And here’s how to do it.

Because our Creative power is unlimited (even if we don’t yet recognize or believe that fact) it turns out we can actually just decide to reach out and start creating a bridge between our current state of limited egoic perception, and the limitless vastness of perfect Reality. Just like that. We can start that bridge-building process anytime we want, just with the power of fully committed choice.

(In my last post I talked about relinquishing the quest for enlightenment, releasing the identity of the perpetual spiritual seeker. It’s one of those paradoxical things; it seems it was a necessary prerequisite for me to release the “goal” of future enlightenment, before I could seriously entertain this next exploration – right now — into that which is already here.)

So in my exploration, I discovered that right now I’m just exactly strong enough and sane enough at this point to sincerely give bridge-building a try; not just theoretically, but actually.

But not actually sane or strong enough to ease into that practice gracefully. Because of course it includes a vow of 100% commitment to want the peace of God instead of all else. In every circumstance, in every moment of every day, no matter what.

I was only sane enough to go for the committed vow. And that’s pretty darn good all things considered – even a couple of months ago I doubt I’d have been able to get that far.

But honestly, between you and me, my follow through leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Speaking of follow through – and ego backlashes – a mere couple of days after making this electrifying leap into active bridge-building, Steve and I left England (where scarves and woolens had been the order of the day) and headed for California, Land of the Record-Breaking Heat Wave. Along with the blistering temperatures came a change of habitat so uncomfortable, so opposite my preferences in nearly every way that it gave my ego permission to do its worst.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m incredibly grateful to have this house for the next couple of weeks. The home’s owner very generously bailed me out of a jam, an awkward period of time where I needed to be available locally for business but had nowhere to stay. This is peak tourist season, so there was, quite literally, no room at the inn.

This lovely friend has been remarkably patient, kind and accommodating. In fact, she cleared her family out of this house and went on vacation so that the place would be available for me to rent during the days of my visit. I’m incredibly blessed, all in all, and I know it.

But. (Ready for some churlish ingratitude? Here goes…)

The heat and jet lag threw a party and invited the rooster that lives next door. The one that crows nearly every hour of the day and night. And added to all this, the caretaking duties of this temporary rental include looking after a gaggle of willfully incontinent pets. Willfully. Incontinent. Pets.

Are you starting to get the picture? After 24 hours of this, my ego was feeling really, really justified in letting it rip.

 

Virtually everybody has that tipping point. That moment where it seems fully justified and natural to unleash the hounds and let the ego run roughshod as it chooses. For some the tipping point can be a very small big deal; like maybe when the waiter screws up the coffee order and brings caf instead of decaf.

For others with far deeper reserves of peace and tranquility, it might take a tsunami or other epic disaster to rock their boat and give the ego mind an excuse to take over and reinterpret the story for awhile.

Regardless of where a person falls on that scale, nearly everybody has a point where the story is no longer neutral; where it isn’t merely difficult to want to forgive…it’s more like the event is so jarringly unpleasant that all ideas of forgiveness fly right out the window.

External events decree that it’s time to misbehave, the ego says. And as it’s decreed, then so it is.

In my case, that means it’s time to wallow in unhappiness, to muck around in spiritual amnesia and get utterly lost inside the story of my own discomfort and unmet needs.

And that’s where I was for a good 8 hours, the other day.

•          •          •

In the old days, I’d have called this an ego crash, an inevitable ‘course correction’ that I was powerless to stop. And I’d have waited it out, feebly offering snippets of helplessly unfocused prayer and meditation. And then eventually the momentum would shift and a more comfortable, more recognizable degree of sanity would return.

But I recognize something quite different is afoot now.

Here I am, vowing to start consciously choosing the reality of Heaven above all else. And what do I get as an immediate response?

Not an ego crash – unless I choose to see it that way…in which case that’ll be exactly what it is: a 2 week diversion steeped in pain and lethargy. But no, this is no ego crash. It’s not my ego mind devising a punishment, nor is it an attempt to stall my momentum. This circumstance has been presented to me as an act of purest Love.

My vow to want Heaven above all else has been duly noted. And my own highest Self has helpfully, lovingly arranged the perfect mix of off-kilter circumstances designed to push me off my foundation and press all buttons at once, so I can see firsthand where my weakness lies. The places where I’m still hanging onto those pesky blocks to Love.

Because I won’t be living the 24/7 experience of Heaven anytime soon, if I get rattled when a cat knocks a lamp on my head at 2am – twice – and then a rooster crows me awake an hour later. Because if I’m rattled, that means I’m choosing that story instead of the peace of God.

A 100% vow means the willing relinquishment of ALL tipping points.

Even the really big ones. Even the really petty ones. That vow is a specific request to set in motion the necessary training to be able to view all worldly events as equally neutral; equally meaningless in the face of perfect Heavenly joy.

And I want that training. I really do.

So actually, I’m pretty damned incredibly lucky for the customized curriculum. And I’ve been walking around with an odd feeling of tingly joy and unspeakable gratitude, mixed, of course, with clammy sweat and general sleep deprivation.

Life, my friends, is good. It’s just the 3-D living of it that sometimes sucks.

God, I’m dripping. Is it too early, do you think, for another shower?

 

 

 

ENLIGHTENMENT-AHOLIC


Road-to-NowhereFunny, isn’t it. You’re positively sure you know some fact or other; you understand it completely from your head down to your toes. And then one day the candle of Knowing spontaneously ignites, and whoosh!  It’s made a liar out of you, just like that.

The other night I came to know — really know — there’s no point to the goal of attaining future enlightenment.

Mind you, I would have said I already knew that chasing a phantom “future enlightened state” is an exercise in futility. I seem to recall I wrote a book on that very topic.

And yet I discovered I was doing just that.

I realized I was still seeking enlightenment as a future-based end goal, complete with checkered flag and trophy cup. One more item to check off the to-do list. But there is no end goal, and no finish line where enlightenment is concerned. How could a limitless state of awareness ever be brought to completion?

I honestly thought I knew better. [You probably know better too.]

But when an authentic knowing floods in and rewires your perception, as it did the other night, you can’t help but recognize with a shock that up until now, you really didn’t know what you thought you knew.

That you didn’t, in fact, know squat.

Because now, suddenly, you have become the knowing — and no amount of shriveled-up previous mental “knowledge” compares, once that fully integrated whoosh of living, breathing, juicy, mind-body-Spiritual embodied wisdom takes permanent hold of you.

•          •          •

It happened this way:

Having recently vowed to live our lives as “loving servants of God *with plumbing*” (it was me who added the plumbing clause to the contract, because I do enjoy a good hot shower in the mornings), Steve and I have taken to spending big chunks of our day in meditation or contemplative prayer, since we have no clear idea of what form that service might take.

But we haven’t been praying in the sense of asking or telling Spirit what our ego minds think should happen; rather we’re doing our best to simply stay open and empty and trusting, and rest in God while listening for…what?

Inspiration, I guess.

Mostly I get Big Silence. Peaceful, sure. Grounded? Absolutely. But not much clear direction happening on the topic of loving service – or any other.

This particular day’s meditation was much the same. But then suddenly at the end, the candle whooshed, the dominoes fell and a fully formed knowing clicked into place:  It’s pointless for me to go on chasing the goal of enlightenment. It’s only my ego mind that seeks it, and what’s the mantra of the ego? Seek and do not find.

I had long ago convinced myself that awakening was a necessary step toward choosing Love instead of fear, because theoretically if I’m awakened I’ll be present enough at all times to remember to choose correctly between them.

Sound enough logic, as far as it goes. But it’s a future-based ego trap, designed to put an end goal on something that has no finish line.

And then a second knowing whooshed in: I needn’t wait for, or struggle toward enlightenment (which is a pointless effort anyway because the time and circumstances of my awakening are not within my control). I need only choose to let my life be guided by Love in every moment starting right now. Awake or not awake is kinda beside the point, when one’s life is being shaped and moved and art-directed by God.

So I let go of enlightenment as a goal. And I chose to let every moment of my life be guided by Love instead.

I can’t say it felt good, letting go of that firmly entrenched goal – which is a pretty fair indicator of how deep my attachment actually was.

I felt disappointed, deflated in the pit of my stomach. And alarmingly close to tears. My identity as a spiritual seeker was a huge chunk of who I thought I was. If I was no longer chasing enlightenment, my ego mind would now be forced to give up acres of prime real estate.

And then a third knowing tumbled in on the heels of the other two: Letting go of the cherished goal of future enlightenment allows me to have less resistance to what’s going on right now, in this moment.

THIS moment is the classroom, the treasure, the eternal choicepoint. Every gorgeous, messy, imperfect, confusing moment of it is a fresh opportunity to be guided by Love. But if this moment is chronically unworthy because there’s no awakening happening in it, how can I hope to embrace it fully and receive all the infinite gifts it has to offer?

Ah. Oh I see. Ok, I get it now.

It’s all well and good to agree to let my life be guided by Love. But it’s not quite the passive activity I imagined it to be. (Not at this stage of my development, anyway.) I’m no leaf, peacefully surrendered to the eddying stream; I’ve got a very bossy ego that is still mostly sure it knows best in every situation. And that ego will not hesitate to grab a motorboat and tear upriver at full throttle against the current anytime I let it.

So am I serious about living my life in alignment with Divine Will? Do I really want to let Love guide me?

If so, then an ongoing commitment to action is required. It’s my moment-to-moment responsibility, as crap hits various fans, to pause, step back and ask: How would Love have me respond in this situation?

To ask it over and over, as many times a day as I manage to remember to do it. And this is key: To ask it and listen. And not assume I already know the answer.

Oooh, another small whoosh: Yes, forgiveness will always be a component of the answer. But Love is chiefly concerned with extending Love. So the decision to be guided by Love is a request to be used by Love as a conduit for actively healing, nourishing and replenishing everybody and everything I encounter.

Them, before myself.

And I haven’t a clue what’s the best way to do that in each new situation. Only Love knows.

So it’s a whole new moderately unfamiliar landscape here that I’m looking at, one with several key landmarks missing. And a certain amount of mildly uncomfortable newfound humility heaped on top.

I haven’t entirely made sense of it all yet, but there seems to be a faint, sparkly joy playing around the edges of it. But I can’t absolutely swear to that.

We’ll see.

I’ll let you know.

 

THE BREATHWORK CHRONICLES


Have you noticed? There’s a bewildering cornucopia of seemingly contradictory forms of breathwork out there to choose from. Some kinds have you breathing through the nose only, others say to use just the mouth. Some want you to focus only on the inhale, others only on the exhale.

Some forms of breathwork super-oxygenate the brain and body; certain other forms of breathing do the opposite, consciously restricting the oxygen in the brain to create an altered state of spiritual readiness.

All agree that breathwork is very healing. Except, of course for when it’s very damaging.

It can be confusing as hell to know what to do.

And this is no small matter. Because (as Yong made abundantly clear to me) breathwork is extremely powerful. I’m told that in the wrong hands, it could have very undesirable effects.

So you’ll understand why I spent a few days doing the bunny-in-the-headlights thing. On the one hand, I’m being asked to do LOTS more breathwork as part of this much vaunted ‘legacy’ I’m supposed to leave. But on the other hand I received not one, but two very hard spankings in recent days (one from a Being, the other from a human being) over the potential dangers of breathwork.

And so I put my prayer, my confusion, my fright, my petulance about breathwork in a big old suitcase, and flung it off the cliff of trust and surrender. As in: I don’t have a fucking clue. You want me to step forward and do this thing? Show me.

(Fortunately, Spirit always pardons my French. And my bratty attitude.)

•          •          •

It took a few days to get my answer. It arrived in a huge download of information in the middle of the night – the kind that drags one’s ass up out of bed to write it all down, because the sheer volume just keeps flowing and flowing — and you know from experience it’ll be gone by morning if you don’t get up now and document it.

So this is what I got. This is my knowing:

What matters is the intention.

Powerful Spiritual beings that we are, our intention is the universal force that moves mountains. Our intention is what creates and destroys worlds. Literally.

So all forms of breathwork are nothing more than neutral tools, like everything else we toy with in our 3-D dream existence. It all boils down to how I INTEND to use those tools. And thanks to Yong and others, my intention about breathwork has become completely clear:

 I only want this tool to serve the highest good. Always.

And the details of how that intention comes to life are none of my business.

So all tools that flow through me must function for the highest good of all, or I don’t wanna play. (I’ll pack up my tools and go watch tv instead.)

So these are my conditions:

I ask that these tools be truly, authentically and deeply helpful for each individual who is drawn to them. And that the tools always be profoundly loving in nature.

Part of the scary unpredictability surrounding breathwork is the unregulated power with which it is able to drag up insights from the unconscious into the conscious mind, whether that mind is prepared for them or not.

So I also ask that each of these breathwork students receives only as much insight, only as much healing and light as is perfect for them to absorb in that moment. (These are things I can’t possibly know or control, left to my own devices, so I’ve handed my full intention over to Spirit permanently on this.)

And that’s how I know that whatever breathwork program I develop will be completely safe. {Which is not to say it will always be comfortable. My intention is to use the breath as a tool to help self and others wake up. And sometimes that process ain’t pretty.)

But because the great power of my intention has been surrendered to Spirit, I know without doubt that my breathwork programs will always function for the highest good, and could never be damaging or destructive to anyone.

But. Will I still make people read disclaimers anyway, stating all the benefits and potential dangers of breathwork, and then make them sign waivers before moving forward with it?

Yup. You betcha.

I’m going for broke with God, but there’s no reason to be stupid. This is the 3-D world I live in, and it’s chock full of lawyers.

•          •          •

So this is the nature of the program I’m currently developing — it’s a two-part process. (It’s not necessary to do both parts.)

1. A guided meditation/breathwork session whose purpose is to gently open us to the holy light of Presence, drinking that Divine light deeply into every cell of the body. (Those very cells are where deepest illusory pain and misperception are held.)

This exercise reveals areas of darkness and deep resistance almost by default – nobody can drink in holy light 100% unless already fully awakened.

So very naturally, our dark matter is revealed to us.

And that gives us the opportunity to gently observe those areas of dark misperception that arise, using nothing but our loving and nonjudgmental awareness. By just agreeing to be aware, and feel this thing we’ve suppressed and denied for so long — that’s where freedom lies.

(The power of our own loving awareness is right up there with the power of intention. There’s literally no limit to the healing it can bring.)

 

2. The second breathwork exercise, for those who wish to go the Indiana Jones route, and intentionally excavate the deepest caverns of their own unconscious misperception… (bullwhip optional…)

…for them, another guided meditation/breathwork session, this one designed to actively access and release the unconscious blocks to Love.

In both of these guided breathwork sessions, we intend to use a combination of music, sacred sounds, specific vibrations and tones that are precisely calculated to access these targeted areas of the unconscious mind and body where stuck pain and old frozen energies are stored. The intention is to facilitate as deep and thorough a healing result as possible.

But again, the vow remains the same for both exercises, even though the second one is designed to be much more proactively intense than the first. I only want to be an instrument of highest good. I’m not attached to any of these processes that we’re developing; if any of this breathwork falls short of that goal of being truly helpful, then I won’t use it. I’ll move on and wait to be shown what to do instead.

•          •          •

When I was first Guided to explore this breathing stuff (first through Michael Brown’s Presence Process, then Judith Kravitz’s Transformational Breathwork), I saw the immense value right away, in its ability to help us undo our ego thought system and release our unconscious blocks to Love.

On a 3-D physical level breathwork also has great healing benefit — because we, as a species, typically starve ourselves of oxygen. We shut down our breathing to almost nothing as a way of hiding from our trauma, and refusing to feel our own unconscious gunk. (That’s why relearning to breathe with full capacity unlocks the unconscious stuff we’ve been suppressing.)

All organs, all cells, need full oxygenation to be healthy. In addition to the emotional/spiritual healing that can take place through the release of unconscious trauma, many seemingly intractable illnesses of the body respond in dramatically healing fashion to the rich oxygenation that breathwork delivers.

But beyond those benefits, I noticed something else: Breathwork seems to facilitate a much easier, much deeper and more profound connection with Spirit. Judith Kravitz’s guided breathwork CD is about 45 minutes long, but each time I listened, by around the halfway mark I would spontaneously feel inspired to join deeply with Spirit in Divine Presence…instead of whatever Judith was instructing us to do.

I was working daily with this CD, roughly two weeks prior to the October Power of Power retreat workshop that Nouk, Stacy and I were to be teaching in Colorado. And I started to feel really inspired to share this breathing practice at that workshop, despite my near-total lack of experience with it.

So during one breathing session, while joined with Spirit in holy Presence, I asked if it would be appropriate for me to teach this at the workshop. And the answer, stated powerfully, was: THIS IS THE PATHWAY WITHIN.

And the unspoken feeling surrounding the words was: Yes, Yes definitely. Yes. Teach it.

So I did. At that retreat I led a couple of guided breathwork sessions, and just let the inspiration flow through me for how they should go. And I have to say, the results were amazing.

But that was beginner’s luck. (Or beginner’s Grace. Either way, it had nothing to do with me.) So I’ve been slowly studying, researching, developing it ever since. Just so that I have some kind of clue about what I should be teaching, here.

But it doesn’t really matter what form the breathing ultimately takes. Now I know my only real job is to keep my intention on the highest good. Eyes on the prize. After that, it really isn’t up to me.