THE MIRACULOUS GIFT OF GROUCHINESS

grumpyI used to be addicted to the opinions of others. I took my cue on how to feel about myself or what to think about my day, based on the reactions I got from everybody around me. If someone smiled at me first, I smiled back. (Nice person, upbeat day.)

If they frowned I took it personally, because I was sure it meant that either they were an asshole, or I was—depending on the situation. (Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve responded to life in this same way once or twice.)

This despite a kick-ass spiritual life in which great wisdom and deep compassion flow quite naturally through me. I know people suffer. I know their responses to life say very little about me, and a great deal about how they perceive their own difficult circumstances. And I genuinely want to help ease that pain somehow.

But. Despite glorious light-filled meditation exercises in which I could feel all these things so clearly…go ahead and cut in front of me in the Starbucks checkout line and watch me go to that lightning-quick place of silent outraged judgment. I’m a jerk, you’re a jerk. Or vice versa.

But this approach to life has become too painful and too pointless to continue.

So lately I’ve been kicking the habit of looking to the behavior of others, to tell me how I should feel about myself, or my day. I decided I want to be truly confident about myself, exactly as I am. I don’t want to wait for anybody else’s approval in order to approve of myself.

Because actually that’s nuts. We all do it, we all take our cue from the responses of others—but it makes no sense at all to do that. Others are all wrapped up in their own forms of self-hatred and pain, and guess what: They are just as preoccupied with looking to the outside world on how to feel about themselves. Why would you want to base your own self-worth and happiness on that?

So I’ve taken serious steps to end my addiction to the reflections I get from others. I’ve checked myself into the most private clinic in the world, you might say—only one doctor, only one patient—and the therapy is to wear a Self-Love patch.

This is not some sort of self-esteem/affirmation thing. I’ve never found that kind of thing to truly work, have you? Not way down deep where it counts.

This Self-Love ‘patch’ goes beyond all that stuff. It releases little reminders of my own stupendously beautiful divinity into my bloodstream every so often throughout the day. Whenever I remember to do it, I pause in what I’m doing, and choose to feel my true identity as God’s love. I witness myself as being composed entirely of the sweetness of holy light. And I feel how fantastically right that feels.

I started doing this because I recognized it’s time for me to stand up confidently strong in my own being. It’s time for me to be of truly loving service to others, in the way my soul yearns to be. I want to be a beacon of strength and light for all.

And yet I know I can’t offer authentic love to others if I’m not feeling it for myself first. Because I can’t give it if I don’t have it—not really.

So I’m pausing to feel my own divine radiance a bunch of times a day.

And as my body-mind slowly gets used to this more truthful self-image, I’m noticing an interesting, unlooked-for side effect: The obsessive need to calculate my worth based on the random reactions of others is becoming far less powerful.

Like, far less powerful.

When somebody smiles at me first, I still smile back and automatically go to that same old happy-place: This is a good day. Nothing much has changed there yet. But here’s what is noticeably different:

Anytime somebody frowns, or is snippy, or in any way harshes my happy-buzz…I seem to bypass my usual reaction and go straight to the recognition that this person is composed entirely of God’s love. They are made of sweetly holy light.

This is not an exercise. It just happens.

(Well, sometimes I react first, and then it happens a few seconds later.)

But then the most heartfelt THANK YOU wells up in me. Thank you for reminding me of who you are in truth. It’s such an honor to hold this reminder for you…until you can remember it for yourself.

And that’s the part that blows me away. I’m totally touched and honored that this person entrusts me with the memory of their divinity on their behalf.

Think of it: Every asshole, every brusquely preoccupied person, everybody who treats you poorly…each one of them is only doing it to offer you the supreme honor of remembering their light for them.

In truth they don’t need the help. In truth, their light is self-evident and known by all. They’re just here to help you (and me) practice holding the reminder of it, so that our own light can shine ever more consciously and beautifully throughout the universe.

What a rich and joyous world this is.

So that’s today’s realization.

I can’t guarantee nobody will just plain piss me off, of course. That could happen. But for all the ones who spark this gorgeous recognition of holy light instead…my gratitude knows no bounds. Thank you.

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.

YOUR BODY IS PERFECT

chakra-expandedThis morning, as is often my habit, in between the tooth brushing and the hot shower, I had a shit. It was an unremarkable shit, really. Hardly worth blogging about. I only bring it up because Steve opened the door unannounced and wandered into the bathroom mere moments after the flush. And as I stood in the shower, I noticed my own reaction. I felt slightly…responsible. Like I’d encroached a little bit on his right to a stink-free existence.

For me, the shower is always a juicy place of divine inspiration. So I went inward and investigated that slightly nonsensical feeling of shame. And then I turned my face toward divine Source for further illumination.

The message that came in response was immediate and direct—and although some of the details pertain to me, it’s clearly addressed to humanity as a whole. So here it is, without added commentary, in its somewhat startling entirety. Enjoy.

Your body is perfect. Your body is an indivisible part of a perfect system of creation, chosen by you. It is not an accidental byproduct of blasphemy.

 You are a unique individuation of the one Creator. At the inception of the soul, each human is gifted with a vertical column of light originating from divine Source. It is part of the non-physical aspect of the human body; the light runs vertically up the center of the physical body structure. This stream of light goes constantly with you, it is yours. It contains the full knowledge of your own individual aspect of divinity, your own true identity, and all the love that heaven holds for you. You couldn’t lose it if you tried—and you have indeed tried. Very hard.

 Your body is also gifted with a system of energy centers, a sacred octave, each one vibrating at its own unique frequency. Everything in your world, your universe, is composed of energy in motion. The body is no exception. Everything is vibration, operating at various frequencies from very low to very high.

 Unconditional love is a vibrational frequency—a very high one. If you want to embody the state of unconditional love (and you say that you do) it is merely a matter of raising your own energetic frequencies high enough to be compatible with it.

 You’ve been rapidly “climbing the ladders” from one frequency level to the next, of late. As a result, you fleetingly experience yourself as an undifferentiated field of unconditional love, indivisibly one with all that is.

 And you are asking: What holds me back from fully embodying the state of unconditional love? What holds me back from releasing the small self and choosing divinity as my true expression on this plane?

 This is it. This is what holds you back.

The body is a vehicle of divinity. It was always designed to be so.

Yes, it has uncomfortable urges, inconvenient needs. It shits, it farts. It ages and breaks down in various ways. It demands sexual or other forms of gratification at inopportune moments. Even so. The body is an intrinsic part of the package. It is your divine vehicle. Your gateway.

 But humanity has never seen it that way. It has instead overlaid a complex system of collective agreements onto the body: The body is dirty. Its requirements of elimination are shameful. Menstrual blood, which is nothing more than the neutral shedding of the uterine lining, is especially taboo in virtually every culture.

 And then there are the agreed upon ideals of physical beauty, and the immense pain of self-abnegation that comes with falling short of that ideal.

 Shame and hatred for your own physical vehicle is deeply woven into the human psyche—and therefore into the cells of the body as well as the vibratory field you emit. If you could only see the eternal magnificence of the body’s true energetic potential, you would clearly recognize the enormity of your error.

 The light of heaven can only be metabolized and brought to earth through a body that has been wholly forgiven by the self, a body that is cherished and recognized as a sacred part of all that is. Even though its shit may continue to stink. Even though it may sprout gray hairs in increasingly unlikely places.

 World religions and cultures have promoted the idea of body shame and hatred, in part as a way of keeping you from discovering your own divinity. Make no mistake: There is no more surefire way of blocking full expression of the divine AS you, than by refusing to witness the body in the truth of its perfection. It is the gateway to heaven on earth. To lock the gate and bar the door is to simply never experience that holy union.

 Do you wish to free yourself of your history, dear one, and unburden yourself of all your negative beliefs about the body?

(Yes.)

Then rest now, in the divine light that I Am. And release every belief you’ve ever held about your own body, positive or negative. Empty out all the misinformation from your cellular memory. Let there be no interpretation at all, of what your body is. You have no idea of what your body is. Remain empty, and let yourself be shown.

(I did this. It felt…very unusual.)

Thank you, dear one. This is a process of letting go, and you have begun it. Your One Self rejoices.

THE TERRORIST IS WITHIN

jailbird-withinThese days I can’t help but notice the vast number of unconscious agreements we all make with each other throughout our lives. We make them between individuals, between families, between nations. Not all of these agreements are bad things, of course; some of them are meant to keep the world running smoothly.

It’s just that these agreements we make are…well…unconscious. Nobody is reading the fine print before signing these contracts. And because we unknowingly sign up for these agreements, we’re unaware we have other options. It all feels like it’s out of our hands. A done deal.

And of course, many of these unconscious agreements are not intended to provide harmony or stability for the good of all mankind. Quite the opposite.

Which brings me to the topic of terrorism. It’s on my radar screen right now because I leave for Bali in a couple of weeks—just as Indonesia is heating up once again as a potential terror target.

The point of terrorism is revealed in the name; no secrets there. A few people can create a very large effect in the world, by carrying out acts designed to shock and traumatize its citizenry. The point of their effort, obviously, is to instill terror.

Except nobody is forced to feel terrified in response. Nobody is forced to feel unsafe, outraged, horrified or angry.

It’s only the unconscious agreement we all signed that says you should respond in this way. That guy over there did something horrifying; therefore I have no choice but to respond with horror. But is that really true? Are there no other options? And is horror really the most appropriate or useful response to a horrifying act?

There are any number of large public institutions and corporations throughout the world today that profit greatly from mass fear. Too many to name, really. (No point in getting angry about that, by the way—we’ve all signed the contracts that allow for it.)

What do you suppose would happen if, one by one, we all sat up, rubbed our sleepy eyes, and then erased our name from those contracts that agree to uphold mass fear? There’s nothing preventing it, you know.

Terror is a two-part agreement: One – Somebody does awful, shocking things.

And Two – You agree to feel terrified. The actual terror happens within you.

This was a pact made innocently, of course. You were sound asleep when you agreed to it. Nevertheless, this is the two-part structure that allows terrorism to work. It’s only through your participation and mine that terrorism is able to make a complete circuit. So when enough of us start withdrawing our consent from that arrangement, the whole structure soon collapses.

You can choose to withdraw your participation and unplug from the terror machine any time you want. Well, that’s what I’ve chosen to do, anyway. I look at the work of ISIS, and I’m not responding to it with fear anymore. So now there’s one less person completing that circuit.

I’m not immune to the invitation to fearfulness that ISIS is sending out. I recognize they’re doing plenty of things I can be afraid of, if I want to be. But I’ve consciously decided not to attend that party. How quickly do you suppose terrorism would fade as a viable tool for world manipulation, if more and more people simply refused to RSVP to that fear invitation?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Draining terrorism of its primary food is an important start, but it’s not an actual solution. It still implies that there’s an enemy that must be vanquished. So I’m personally going way beyond simply unplugging, because I know how energetic intention and vibration work.

Energetically speaking, the action of unplugging alone still contains the vibration of Us versus Them. It means I’ve found an efficient way of bringing terrorism to its knees—but this vibratory Us versus Them intention is the very thing that keeps the whole unhappy dance of terrorism locked in that same old perpetual motion machine of victim and victimizer, of revenge and one-upmanship.

So for a change, I’m quitting that, and instead trying what truly works: I’m standing up to squarely face the terrorists responsible for the many acts of terrible violence all over the world. And I’m refusing to judge. I simply stand firm as I hold them in my unflinching gaze. And as I face them I consciously radiate the love that I am.

The love I radiate is agenda-free. It doesn’t seek to annihilate any structures or institutions. It doesn’t seek any outcomes at all—if it did it wouldn’t be authentic love. Love sees only the perfection that it knows itself to be. It doesn’t insist that anybody has to change. And that’s a good thing, because trying to force anybody to change never works. Not really.

Authentic love is the technology of the spiritual badass: By seeing no enemies anywhere, love works to unravel fearful mass agreement, and detangles the energetic bonds that hold things like terrorism in place. Don’t ask me how. I just know that it does.

What?!, shouts the mind. No judgment for such terrible acts? Unthinkable!

Yes, I know. The mind doesn’t get it, and it never will. The mind wants you to believe that non-judgment of terrible things makes you a co-conspirator. The mind believes refusal to engage on the same old battleground means you’ve turned your back on the victims, and now you condone, or even applaud the terrible things that terrible people do.

But that just isn’t true. It’s time to put the arguments of the mind aside, because frankly they don’t work. Fighting enemies just brings on more of the same. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Contracts that call for fighting fire with fire can easily be broken.

So forget the arguments of the mind. It’s time for something different. This is a job for the ultimate superhero: The heart. The limitless transformational power of unconditional love is one of those paradoxical things that the mind can’t seem to figure out. But the heart, the very seat of spiritual bad-assery…well it just knows.

So I’m grateful to ISIS, in a way, for this beautiful opportunity that has arisen on my personal radar screen. It gives me the chance to discover more of who I am in truth. More chance to experience the unconditional love that I am, in action.

If spiritual bad-assery is a technology that appeals to you too, I invite you to respond to ISIS with open-hearted, agenda-free love instead of fear. If you’re inspired to join my party of one, feel free to RSVP to this invitation instead of theirs. You know where to find me.

A Tree Grows in Dorset

tree wingsActually, lots of trees grow in Dorset—England is a very green and beautiful place. But this particular tree sprouted only a few nights ago, and it may well be the first of its kind. This is a tree of freedom. A tree of safety for all.

••

Here’s one way of describing the human condition: Each of us lives in our own little fairytale cottage, and all of these cottages are set in a beautiful forest. We all deeply love the forest. Our ancient family roots are there.

But we’re each sealed up in our own little house. There’s no door to the outside. And the windows are coated with the grime of 10,000 years, so no light gets in. We long for a view of the forest, our true ancestral home—but we can’t see a damn thing out those windows.

So we spend all our time looking through magazines, tearing out beautiful pictures of forests instead. And then we tape them up over the windows and pretend the view is real. When those images yellow with age, we tape new ones over top.

It’s just what we do.

And yet it doesn’t satisfy. Magazine pictures don’t smell like a forest. Birds don’t make their home in them. Putting up pictures (an activity designed to alleviate the ache of homesickness) actually makes the pain worse.

I got bored with putting up pictures long ago. I wanted to be able to see the forest outside my window. So over the past few decades I’ve been persistently clawing away at the crackly, yellowed scotch tape that holds those magazine pictures in place. Layer after layer, the old faded pictures were removed. Every so often I would take a break from this activity, and run to a different window—the one in my office, say—and put a new picture up.

It’s a habit that’s very deeply ingrained. It took some concentration and effort to learn how to stop doing it.

In recent years, most of my windows were now no longer covered with magazine images. There was still sticky goo from mountains of ancient Scotch tape around the edges, and a few torn corner fragments still remained here and there. But the false pictures themselves had mostly been taken down.

This didn’t mean I was then able to see the forest outside. All I saw was the impenetrable grime that caused me to put up pretty pictures to cover it up in the first place.

So now I was severely bummed out by the view. Poor me. All that hard work for nothing. My windows were so dark and ugly, and I was no nearer my goal of seeing what was outside. Seemingly.

But of course that wasn’t true. The decision to stop wallpapering over the grime is itself a huge step in the right direction. Taking down old pictures is a necessary start. But what now? I looked around at all my grimy windows and sat down on the floor in a puddle of tears. After I stopped sobbing (a year or two later) I looked up to notice a beautiful, luminous, heavenly gift had been quietly placed by my side.

It was a mop and a bucket.

The window grime was my own. I put it there, and I was the only one who—with divine help—could remove it. It was time, clearly, to get busy and clean my own damn windows.

A funny thing happens when you start to clean your own windows. Even though you’re focused on washing the window glass, the outlines of a door start to automatically appear all by themselves, over there where only a blank wall had been before.

The door was always there. You just couldn’t see it, for all the shmutz on the windows. The light was just too dim.

••

So all this talk about grimy windows (and reappearing doors) is all well and good…but what does that actually mean, to clean your own windows? What does that look like in practical terms, and why bother doing it?

First off, this is why it’s important to attend to one’s own grimy windows before doing anything else: If the world outside my window seems to fall off its collective bicycle—yep we’re introducing yet another metaphor into the mix—gashing its knee and howling with shock and pain, it’s my own wound that actually needs attention first.

I won’t be able to correctly perceive anything about the world’s so-called knee injury unless I’m willing to address my own throbbing knee, right where I am. Because in truth I wouldn’t be seeing a bike wreck in the first place, if I hadn’t first pasted a picture of it on my grimy window. It’s me who needs the paramedics.

Those of us who want a clear window view, bless our hearts, we tend to try and scrub down the outsides of the windows first. Fix the problems we see ‘out there.’ But we’re not on the outside, so we can’t get at them. Besides, in truth the outsides of the windows are sparkling clean. They just look dirty from in here.

Everything depends on cleared perception. Because as long as my windows are grimy and covered with magazine pages, all I’m actually looking at is a picture of a bike accident.

But as my own injured knee responds to my loving attention and care, I’ll be better able to recognize what (if any) action should be taken to help heal the ongoing bicycle mishap that seems to be happening out there. Until my own knee is attended to, outward efforts to fix the pain of others don’t mean a damn thing. Not really.

So I’ve been patiently cleaning my own windows first. Taking responsibility for the distorted lens through which I view myself and my world. And here’s what that means:

I’ve been welcoming in my own stuff, my own uncomfortable baggage. Not necessarily to try and fix it. I invite it in so I can accept it, just as it is right now. All that stuff I dislike about myself—the stuff I judge, the stuff that brings me pain, fear and frustration—I’m not suppressing it, or wallpapering over it anymore.

I’m not fighting with it or denying it. I’m letting all those discarded, rejected bits of myself come back and be seamlessly reintegrated as newly remembered, newly loved and respected parts of my one indivisible self.

I’m cleaning and kissing that infected gash on my own knee, as it were, before even trying to bandage the giant, collectively wounded knee I seem to see out the window. And ever since I started doing that—instead of focusing my attention on the wreck outside—the changes have been profound.

••

It dawned on me not long ago, in one of those spectacularly mundane DUH moments, that instead of working hard to get my own needs met first, and only then helping all others—my spiritual and worldly method of operation up until this point—I could simply focus on meeting the needs of all beings, for the highest good of all.

Why? Because ‘all beings’ includes me. (DUH.)

When the highest good of all is my firm intention, my own highest and best needs for safety, survival, love and all the rest of it, are automatically met—just as everybody else’s are. Not only that… my own life is bound to be that much safer and more beautiful if everybody in it is happy and released from pain, too. Right?

So why wouldn’t I choose to live in this way? What the hell took me so long?

••

A few nights ago I was reflecting on the whole idea of fear. Recognizing that it all boils down to a simple desire for safety. All those terrible things we do, all the awful effects out in the world, are really just cries in the dark. We all just want to feel safe. I just want to feel safe.

And all of a sudden, a shaft of very clear light shone through one of my less grimy windows. And I realized: I can do something about that. For the highest good of all—and therefore for myself.

On behalf of all beings, I open myself to receive the fearful anxieties and terrified emotions of the entire world. All of the pain and misperception, all of the naked hunger for peace and safe harbor—including my own. Bring it. I welcome it all gladly. And let a heavenly recycling plant operate as me, through me, allowing all universal pain and fear to be dissolved, transformed and purified within. And let my smokestacks belch infinite pristine peace and healing back out into the world, for all eternity.

And you know what? When I set that intention, when I agreed to stop screwing around inside the cottage, and finally try my hand at stepping out the door to take on my true job description…my own remaining fears and anxieties melted away. And for that moment at least, I experienced myself as not only being outside in the forest—I was the forest itself.

I am the forest.

Or at least, in practical terms, I’m a single tree—quietly absorbing the world’s pain and fear, and allowing heaven’s divine essence to perfume the atmosphere via my branches, leaves and flowers.

Imagine what the world might be like if lots of people were doing that same thing.

I’m not actually ‘doing’ anything, by the way. It’s all done for me, through me. As me. My only job is to let the process take place. And that’s amazingly easy to do. It’s only the decision to do it, that seems so ridiculously hard.

The world can use a few million-billion more of this kind of tree. Don’t you think?

So let every day be Arbor Day. And if you feel inspired, consider this your invitation to come on outside and rediscover the forest. Smell the fresh air. Dance in the sunlight. And maybe decide to be the fantastically beautiful tree of divinity you were always born to be. For everybody’s sake. For the highest good of all—which definitely includes your own.

— Carrie is the author of 3 books. Her latest, Tastes Like God, will be released July 30, 2015.

A Year without Fear: (IM)PRISONER

open-cageI thought I was done with the war between the sexes. For me, that battle was so, like, 1975.

I am woman, hear me roar, and all that.

I’m not making light of the very serious and ongoing worldwide challenges women face at the hands of men, mind you. I’m just saying that, by and large, it hasn’t been my fight.

Over the decades of spiritual practice, my early gender rage and frustration have slowly given way to genuine empathy for the other half, the hairier half of the human race. Sure, as a global group, they make some seriously appalling blunders based in fear and anger. And the consequences of those actions are never pretty. But let’s face it—the stonefaced and steel-balled ideal of masculinity (as the world defines it) is a nasty bit of business altogether. And trying to live up, or down, to that code of behavior can’t be easy. Most guys, in my estimation, are honestly doing the best they can.

•          •          •

These days, I’m all about the attempt to go home to God with empty hands. And that’s an interesting process. You look down and notice all the useless baggage you’re carrying. The old grudges. The phobias, the various beliefs in limitation.

And as each one comes up for examination, you ask yourself: Would I rather remain scared of this spider, or hang out with God?

Or maybe it’s: Would I rather be disgusted with the banking system/oil companies/government corruption/insert your pet peeve here? Or would I rather spend quality time resting in God?

Because of course you can’t have both, you know. You always have to choose.

So I’ve been agreeing to drop the mismatched set of luggage, piece by piece. Because I’m starting to finally recognize that all the juice, all the peace I crave can only be found in God. And the peace of God is way better than any baggage I currently own, no matter how much I might enjoy carrying it around.

But after the hands are empty of readily visible suitcases…well, that’s when it really gets interesting. Because the other stuff—the bigger stuff—has to go, too. The opinions and behaviors that run so deep, they form your worldview. The ones that are so automatic, so unquestioned as truth that you can’t imagine who you’d be, or what your life would be like without them.

•          •          •

So I was surprised to find myself triggered a bit by all that old gender stuff again recently. Only this time, I was seeing it from completely outside my own frame of reference, as if my spaceship had just landed and I was viewing this aspect of humanity for the first time.

I saw and felt the vast scope of the world’s rage and hatred toward women. And it kind of took my breath away to notice how we, as a species, have all collectively agreed upon the idea that women, simply because we exist, are so scorned, so feared, that we are therefore legitimate targets of violence anytime the opportunity arises. That this is an unfortunate, yet unavoidable fact of life.

By ‘collective agreement,’ I don’t mean to imply that we all approve of this concept, by any means. I would guess that most men, and virtually all women, are appalled by it. But when we fight an idea—when we take karate classes, or choose a jogging buddy, or helpfully offer to walk a woman to her car, we reinforce the solidity of the very structure we rail against. We accept this hatred and control of women as a real and permanent condition, and we plan for it by fighting fear with fear. Rage with rage. And in doing so, we guarantee it will persist as a fact of this world.

I don’t really know why I found all this enmity so astonishing. It certainly isn’t news.

I guess I just personally noticed in full enormity for the first time, that I am not welcome on this planet. And in age-old response, I seem to have been sporting some hella thick emotional armor all this time. I also noticed I never go out walking by myself, and never, ever alone after dark, if I can help it.

So here’s the truly interesting thing about all this: I absorbed that hateful message way back when, without even knowing it. And only now have I suddenly recognized that, in response to this collectively agreed-upon belief in my own vulnerability as a target, I’ve chosen to live my entire life in a self-made prison. The armor keeps me in, a whole lot more effectively than it keeps anything out.

And I don’t go to the park by myself. I rarely walk alone at night. Hell, I rarely do much of anything alone at night, really. Because you never know who might be out there hating me tonight.

Why have I agreed to live this way? Why do so many women choose to live this way?

For every actual attack that takes place, ten thousand other women attack themselves every day by not going where they want to go. Not doing what they want to do. Not feeling free to simply exist, just as they are. Without airbrushing or apology.

We clip our own damn wings.

I suddenly noticed I’ve chosen to live my entire life in a cage that’s no wider than my shoulders. Clipped or not, I’ve never even bothered to raise my wings and try to fly. I don’t even know if I can.

•          •          •

So who might I be without this shoulder-width cage? No idea. It’s very hard to imagine a “me” who is unbound by these constraints. And honestly, it’s even harder to imagine a me who is free of the old, calcified fear and rage that make up the bars of that cage.

But really, who is there to be angry with? The jailer is me.

Nobody in the world has the power to do to me what I freely chose to do to myself. Men are certainly not to blame. And I’m not mad at myself for choosing the cage—not really. I know I did the best I could with the choices I thought I had at the time.

So…am I willing to open my hands and drop this rage I feel at nobody in particular, in order to hang out with God?

Yes, definitely.

Ok, then. Am I also willing to know myself in a completely different way—as somebody who is unconstrained and unafraid to walk the world in safety and confidence in my right to exist?

Ummm…sure?

Yeah. That one’s a little bit easier said than done. Because it’s hard to imagine that which is hard to imagine.

Meaning, the mind can only grasp what it knows from experience. And that kind of fundamental change in worldview is beyond anything this particular mind has ever known.

But I’m willing. And I’m pretty sure willingness is all it takes.

So. How to go about taking a leap beyond where the mind can go? The first step is to believe that you can.

No, seriously. I’m not launching into a song about ants and rubber trees, here. This is important. Significant change comes only when we allow the possibility for it. Prayer without believing that what you’re asking for is possible…is just aimless wishing.

Luckily, I’ve already learned that anything is possible IF I SAY IT IS. This world of dreams is infinitely malleable—and as the collective architects of this dream, we can change the rules on it anytime we choose to. I, as an infinite creator, have that power. And so do you.

So if I can manage to authentically believe it’s possible for me to experience myself as being free of fear, free of rage…hell, just plain free… then it is possible. Even if I have no idea what that freedom actually feels like, or how to go about it, I recognize that it’s possible.

So I’ve been choosing that possibility all week. Feeling it fully, believing in it completely. Claiming it as my own.

Step two: I’ve been stating clearly to the universe that it’s my choice to start walking this earth in confidence, safety and trust. Open and un-armored. And just by claiming the possibility and stating this intention, I seem to have broken free of the collective agreement for fear-based gender control.

(This doesn’t mean all worldly precautions should be ignored now. I still probably won’t lounge around in Central Park alone at midnight, festooned in my most ostentatious diamond jewelry. That would be foolish. But it does mean willingness to learn how to walk in trust and open-hearted forgiveness, seeing the world—and my place in it—with fresh, loving eyes.)

So the collectively agreed-upon structure of gender-based hatred has lost one pillar. I’ve stepped outside the building. Actually, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me who did the stepping. My job was just to recognize that it’s possible to see another way…and then to make good on that recognition by choosing to release all crusty old fear and blame. That’s where the empty hands come in.

Step three:  Yes, I recognize that it’s possible to release my grip on fear, hate and rage. Because anything is possible. EVERYTHING is possible, including this. I can know myself without fear, without hate for my so-called oppressors, even though I can’t yet picture what that’s like. So I open my hands now, and because it’s possible to do, I agree to let these old beliefs and old protections slip through my fingers and be gone forever.

And once I’ve let my attachments to the old hatred slip away…hello, Step Four: I can then ask to be airlifted higher than my current perception would allow.

As far as I can tell, this method seems to be working. The view seems a bit different up here.

•          •          •

Yes, sometimes major shifts really can be that easy. Airlifting is my new preferred mode of travel.

But be warned: This method of release is accomplished without drama. Without plumbing the depths to revisit old pain. I let it all go without examining every injustice I suffered, every wound inflicted, in an attempt to find resolution and healing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when that kind of excavation is very appropriate. But take it from me, because I’ve done it both ways: Hard work and pain take a whole lot longer than simply letting yourself be lifted. And they’re way less fun.

WAY. Less fun.

So this is my heartfelt advice, if it interests you: Take the quick and scenic route. Let your liberation unfold in a way that’s free of agony. Stop rolling boulders uphill, and let yourself be lifted instead. Four easy steps. Really. That’s all it takes.

If you’re anything like me, and your wings don’t work so good yet…divine helicopters are standing by.

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