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I rent a yurt from my landlord and landlady to use as an “office”.
Yesterday I was in the yurt and a yellow jacket was crawling on the floor nearby.
The yellow jacket looked to be in distress. It was struggling to stay upright.
It was dying.
I felt sad. Was this preventable? Could I do something to help?
But what could I do? It is fall. The yellow jackets are downsizing the hive in preparation for winter. This yellow jacket was dying.
I was powerless, as I always am, to fix things and make them how I think they should be.
The yellow jacket flipped over. Legs moving. Righted itself. Then flipped over again.
The yellow jacket died.
I didn’t get to be the hero. I didn’t get to save anyone. No one survived.
Life seems to keep communicating this message. “You have no power.”
That doesn’t sound like a message of love in the traditional sense.
But it is. To me it is. It is the greatest love.
I have no power. And yet all is taken care of. Life and death completely taken care of.
I will die. That will be taken care of. I won’t have to do it.
Meanwhile, I am alive. Oh, sure, we could argue the finer points of whether there is anyone to be alive, yada, yada.
But for now, let’s just say I’m alive. And that is also taken care of.
For all my grasping for power, it is not needed.
Life is telling me “you have no power”. And it is like Mother’s soothing touch. “Shhh,” she says. “You have no power.”
I have no power.
The power can’t be had. Not for all the gold or silver in the universe. Not for all the wanting. Not for all the pleading.
Thank goodness it can’t be had.
I don’t need to have it. It has me.
Everything is falling apart.
This lifetime. These ambitions. Security. This body.
All falling apart.
I can try to fix it. Try to hold it together. And I can look around and scream for help.
“We’ll help you hold it together” some say.
Others say “Pull yourself together, man!”
But it is falling apart. All slipping through my fingers like water or air.
No solutions. No hope.
So finally, let’s let it fall apart. It is falling apart anyway.
Does that mean that we should do nothing? Should we not try to feed ourselves? Should we not take care of our children?
Should we hide out in “It’s all delusion anyway”?
No need to hide. No need to reject.
Instead, let us allow the falling apart to wash over us. And through us. To cleanse us of all that never was. All the burdens. The burdens of hope. The burdens of holding it together.
Let us discover our essential freedom. And then let us tell the truth, which is that despite the delusion and illusion and emptiness, we are still here. Showing up. Showing up fully. Choosing this. Choosing this not because we are virtuous. Choosing this because there is no other choice.
And though it is empty of what we thought it was made of, it is not precisely empty. Not truly. It is only empty of hope. Empty of things. Empty of holding it together.
But it is full of wonder. Full of aliveness. Full of us.
Then perhaps we can celebrate.
Not a celebration of things or of holding it together or winning or hope. A celebration of us as we are. Flowing. Hopeless. And free.
To me, this is true love. I know that’s a dirty word. “Boo!” call the hardliners. But fuck it. If we’re to call anything love, isn’t this it? Here we are. Despite all the reasons why not. Despite all the fears. Despite all the emptiness. Despite all the hopelessness. Despite all the delusion. Despite everything.
In the midst of falling apart, I declare this love. And I welcome you to discover it too. Not as you thought it was. Not the love of future security. Not the love of having or holding.
The love of this as it is. Open. Free. Whole. Alive. You. Me. Now.
Say yes. Say yes. Say yes.
My friend, John Veen (https://johnveen.weebly.com/), just sent me this lovely and clear image. I like it so much I asked if he’d be willing to let me share it with you, and he said yes. So here it is.
It was serendipitous that John sent me this image because on Saturday during the second of the workshops of the workshop series I’m offering a similar thing came up.
I had been describing how it is that in my experience it is valuable to be able to shift from fixation on the conceptual overlay to recognizing the unified nature of direct experience. In my experience this ability to shift focus and recognize the wholeness or vastness that is actually here – what is merely getting filtered through a conceptual overlay – offers us the opportunity to stop fixating on all our problems.
To me, that is freedom. And that freedom isn’t the freedom to solve the problems of the conceptual filter. It is the freedom to recognize what is here always that doesn’t have a problem.
By the way, I am not an advocate of trying to remain forever with your focus shifted to non-conceptual wholeness. I find that to be just another unnecessary trap that leads to more unnecessary suffering. So this is not a practice that I am advocating that you should do in the aim of trying to maintain some perfect state.
Rather, I’m just saying that if you look, you might notice that in direct experience, if you just shift attention or focus from objects, places, people, things, ideas, and all the conditioned conceptual overlay, you can notice that simultaneously (and inclusive of the conceptual overlay) there is simply this non-conceptual. unconditioned aliveness that is perfectly obvious. You don’t have to see something other than what you see. You only need to let your focus soften and then you can recognize that all that is happening and appearing is actually already unified, non-separate, whole. There is no boundary or distinction except in concept. And even concept doesn’t have a boundary or distinction. It’s weird, but it becomes obvious if you just catch a glimpse.
To me this actually translates to benefits for the person. And I know that’s probably offensive to many people. But that’s my experience, delusional or not. I find that this shift saves me, as a person, from an awful lot of unnecessary suffering. It doesn’t have to be all the time. Just when I remember. Then it wipes clean all the mess that seemed to have built up. In this instant of seeing all the problems that I had disappear, and even when I find myself again imagining problems, there remains this little whisper that I can’t deny. The vastness and wholeness that instantly dissolves all problems is still here.
During the workshop I was suggesting that one way to notice this is to notice that we are in the habit of hearing sounds through a conceptual filter and so we assume that when someone is speaking that the meaning is innately there in the sounds and in the hearing. We assume that the sounds are coming from over there and that I am here hearing the sounds coming from over there. But if you just soften your auditory focus you can notice that the sounds are just happening in a unified flowing way and that there is no meaning inherent in the sounds. And the sounds aren’t even happening over there and being heard here as a place separate from there. All that is just the conceptual overlay. In the softening of the auditory focus and the loosening of the fixation on the conditioned conceptual overlay, it is obvious that there is just this flowing happening that leaves us (me, at least) in wonder.
I also suggested that the same kind of exploration is possible with visual experience. We normally believe we see things. But we don’t see things. We see. Or, rather, seeing is happening. And the conceptual filter that we fixate on gives this whole story about objects and distance and location and separation.
Well, anyway, John Veen’s image says it better. Just look at it. It is so clear.
I’ve been saying so many word lately. But I guess it really is true that a picture is worth 10,000 words.
Bless you, John. You’ve saved me even more unnecessary talking.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re life is a journey. (If you’re already finding things to object to, just play along with me for a second. You don’t have to actually believe anything. Just play with me here.)
Imagine that on this journey, you are traveling along a river on a boat through a steep canyon.
Just up ahead you see that the river forks. And as you get closer still, you see a sign. On the sign it say:
<- Divisive Absolutist Materialism and Lifelessness
-> Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing
Which do you choose?
I know which I choose. Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.
Now, I know, the inner cynic might be calling bullshit on this. The inner cynic might say that this is a false polarity. It might cry out that I’m leading you into some kind of trap or trick.
It’s understandable if your inner cynic is fearful. That’s it’s job. That’s what it is. It’s a fearful, self-protective reaction to all the trauma of our lives.
But how well is that working out?
Many years ago I had to be honest with myself. That was wasn’t working out well at all. It was a way of separation, emptiness, and death.
And I had dressed it all up in a neat package and called it non-dual spirituality. Which might have sounded nice, but it wasn’t very pleasant or functional or useful.
My experience is that opening to the way of Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing is life affirming, unifying, and restorative. It is a healing balm that has given me back life.
And beyond the truly false paradigms of the conditioned mind, this pathway has opened me to true non-dual realization. Not keeping some aspects of myself and life separated into silos. Rather, dissolving all the false barriers and revealing the connection and unity of everything in my life.
The word “metaphysics” may conjure up images of bookshops with “psychic readers” and crystals and a cat or two hanging around. Fair enough.
But the actual meaning of the word is that which is beyond the physical.
Take a moment and test this out. After you read this paragraph, pause, close your eyes, and see if this is true in your experience. With eyes closed, where is the physical? What is true in your actual experience with eyes closed? Where is the body? Where is the world “out there?” Where are all the physical things? And yet, is there still aliveness? Is there still some sense of some phenomena? Go ahead and test this out now.
Okay, now, what did you find? Is there, in fact, a metaphysical experience? Can you, in direct experience, discover for yourself that there is, in fact, a metaphysical reality?
And isn’t it true that this metaphysical reality is the greater aspect of your reality compared to the so-called physical?
Okay, okay, the inner cynic might have to admit that there’s some truth to this. But magic? Come on! Magic is bullshit, right?
Well, let’s see. One definition of magic is enchantment. That is, to be under the influence of or entrained to a force. Literally, a chant, which is a frequency.
Ever been in love? You’ve been enchanted. Ever believed in anything? You’ve been enchanted? Are you able to understand anything I write? You’ve been enchanted. Ever heard the news? You’ve been enchanted.
Enchantment, magic, is a phenomenon that we’re all experiencing all the time. In fact, our normal, ordinary, consensus reality is all enchantment. We just aren’t normally awake to it as such.
When we deny the magical nature of our experiences, we play victim. We play separate.
Waking up to the magical nature of our experience give us a new wonder and awe and freedom.
Okay, okay. But healing? Geez, really? That sounds awfully New Age and bullshit, right?
The word “to heal” derives from the root meaning “to restore to wholeness”.
On the surface that might not jibe with our super-evolved, better-than-thou, high-falutin’ spiritual understandings.
Yet the truth is, we all have been enchanted to believe in separation, individual power, and suffering. Meanwhile, if we pause for a moment and just notice what is actually true in our direct experience, we may find that wholeness is already our most true reality. Go ahead and check it out now. Without referring to a thought, memory, belief, or label, can you find any boundary? Is there any actual separation in direct experience?
Our most intimate experience of ourselves is already whole. Wholeness is primary. Only through enchantment do we come to believe in anything other than wholeness.
To heal is to restore our proper recognition of ourselves and our nature as wholeness.
Now you might see why I choose the path of Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.
And I’d like to invite you to join me for a three-part workshop series that I’ll be holding over the next three weekends exploring these subjects.
Each weekend we’ll meet together live, online, in a group and explore Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.
It will be fun and with practical explorations that will allow you to experience these things for yourself. Not mere theory, we’ll do a variety of experiments that will let you taste your inherent wholeness.
Come and play.
This is the first of a bunch of workshop series I have planned. Some ideas for workshops that I have in mind include Myth and Storytelling for Healing, The Power of Relationships, and Spiritual Herbalism, among others.
Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing is the prerequisite for other workshop series as we’ll be creating the foundation for future explorations and fun.
We’ll meet live Saturdays September 28, October 5, and October 12 live at 2 pm Vermont time (US eastern time). All meetings will be recorded and archived on the workshop website (link below). That way, if you cannot attend live, you can watch the recordings.
Want to join us? Go here and sign up: https://joeylott.podia.com/metaphysics-magic-and-healing
The standard price is $100 which is to compensate me for my time and my costs to offer this (my monthly costs related to an internet presence are around $200).JOIN THE WORKSHOP
Don’t let price be an obstacle. If you are unable to pay full price, I’ve created some “pay what you can” coupon codes that you can use to choose your own price. I ask that you pay as close to full price as you can to respect my time and my family’s financial needs.
But if you genuinely feel unable to pay full price comfortably, feel free to choose your own price using one of these coupon codes. The name of the code indicates the price you’ll pay in US dollars (click the link to apply the coupon and sign up): NINETY, EIGHTY, SEVENTY, SIXTY, FIFTY.
I’ve also created some coupon codes that have limited uses for those who feel they cannot afford even with fifty percent off. Each of the following codes has just a few uses, so please use them with respect for others who may have difficulty paying (but if you truly have difficulty affording $50, please do not hesitate to use these coupons): FORTY, THIRTY, TWENTY, TEN, FREE. And if you are unable to pay and wish to give something in exchange, I am open to a work-trade for one or two people. If you wish to inquire into a work-trade opportunity, contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, and let anyone you know who might be interested know about this workshop series.
Lastly, if you’re inner cynic is still complaining. Don’t worry. You’re not missing anything. There’s nothing to see here. These are not the droids you are looking for… 🙂
It is true. I want you to fail.
With all my heart I want you to fail.
But only completely.
I want you to fail in your search for what you think will make you happy.
Because your search for what you think will make you happy is the only thing that makes you unhappy.
It is what causes your pain and struggle.
It wants more, more, more. Less, less, less. Different, different, different. No, no, no.
But don’t misunderstand me. Because I’m not saying I want you to restrain yourself from the search.
I’m saying I want you to fail.
Failing is falling. It is tripping and looking up and seeing it all differently.
From the normal perspective up here, it is so easy to mistake habits for the totality of reality.
But trip, fall, and then look up. Then you see differently. Everything you thought was the totality of reality is not actually available here if you pause for a moment to see this as it is.
Down here, having failed in the pursuit of winning…
…there’s just this as it is. All the assumptions can be left up there.
Down here, there’s just what’s happening. And who knows what this is?! Do you? If so, you haven’t failed.
And I hope your next failure is soon. Very soon.
If you’re willing to play with me for a moment…right now, come on, let’s be silly and play for a moment…If you’re willing to take your shoes and socks off and get down on the ground and look up…or just look out. Just look out. See whatever is here. Or just see. See without all the stuff that got left up there.
Down here there’s just seeing. Seeing freshly. Never happened before.
Now you can stand up if you want. Put on your serious face again. Stop playing if you want.
Or you can keep playing, even with serious face on. Even with all the other habits and niceties of life happening and even with all that life seems to “trigger” “for you”…why not keep playing?
Play and look out. Just see this as it is. Forget the drab, boring stories of the past for a moment. Just see.
Forget about all that boring grown-up stuff about achievement and self-image and whatever else grown-ups are so concerned with. Just for a moment. And see as you can even now remember having once done. And notice that it is still happening. And if you tell the truth for a moment, it’s never not happened. This seeing. Its happening now is everything that is.
Play and explore it like a child pretending to be a fearless adventurer. Pretend to be someone. Pretend the story. Pretend it all. Like it is for real.
And just notice that this is what is happening.
I want you to fail in your pursuits for happiness because they make you unhappy. This right now is already happening. This is already the miracle. Inconceivable. Ungraspable. And undeniable. Totally obvious.
Look out. It’s happening.
Funny thing about the spiritual search is that it usually seems to be about being something or someone better.
Because we’re unhappy with our idea of who we are. We’re unhappy with what we perceive of our experience. And innocently, we believe that if only we could become someone better, more enlightened, more spiritual, more powerful, whatever…that then we’d be happy and okay and lovable, etc.
Which turns out to be completely wrong. But it is also apparently a necessary part of the journey of self discovery. We start from assumptions and experientially discover how those assumptions are flawed and create unnecessary rigidity and pain.
So it turns out not to be so much a journey of acquisition as a journey of loss.
Loss of identity. Loss of ideas. Loss of beliefs.
And also a loss of burden.
The burden of trying to become someone else.
And an acceptance and surrender to you being you.
Exactly as you are right now.
We complicate this. We dramatize it. We create all kinds of stories about it.
But none of that helps or is necessary.
It is easier when we allow it to be easy. And simple. And direct. And immediate.
Right now, you are you.
This is obvious when you take a moment to notice.
A second later, the mind starts to wonder who this you is. Ideas start flowing. And if we fall into our usual habit, we grasp at those ideas in hopes of getting something that will make us better. Or protect us. Or help us in our quest to become better.
But we don’t have to give attention to that. And even if we do, as soon as we notice that we’re giving attention to that, we are noticing our inherent freedom.
We can notice that regardless of what ideas come and go, in this moment right now, we are always ourselves. Inescapably.
And being ourselves doesn’t require effort. We can’t get it right. Nor wrong.
It doesn’t require anything, in fact. Even when we’re trying really, really hard and totally fixated on fixing and bettering ourselves or protecting ourselves, we are still being fully ourselves in this present moment. Exactly as we are. Inescapably.
So nothing is required. But the status quo for most of us has been to continue to suffer from the wrong imagination that something is required and that we need to protect and fix ourselves.
Fortunately, we can notice right now that we are being ourselves. Before the idea of ourselves. Before the impulse to get it right, do it right, hide, protect, manage, manipulate, etc. Here in this most intimate moment we can notice that we are simply being ourselves.
And we can notice that this is always the case. In retrospect we can see that this has always been so. And we can even see that this will always be so. All in this one intimate moment right now. Just drop the fixation on understanding or fixing or getting somewhere and just notice the absolute simplicity of this right now. Nothing needed that isn’t supplied perfectly right now.
This noticing is the first step.
In my experience, only doing the first step is very powerful, but it has a tendency on its own to lead to a subtle seeking. Better than the older form of seeking. But still a subtle suffering because there is still a subtle seeking for betterment or protection. Because then we can imagine wrongly that we need to hide out in noticing.
But that’s not true.
So there are other steps that can help.
For example, one possible second step is to not only notice, but to confess one’s vulnerability, insecurity, impermanence, “flaws”, etc.
Not as a means to get something. But simply because it feels good. It is light. It clears the air of any confusion. Lest either of us begins to mistake ourselves or one another for something we are not. This ongoing flow of self expression – not just the “good”, but also the “bad” – reveals what is beyond good and bad. It offers a living invitation to all “others” to recognize that they too can be themselves.
Because they already are. Inescapably.
One of those quirky (and fairly dysfunctional) things that I learned growing up is that I need to be special to be okay.
It wasn’t enough to be me. I had to be special me.
When I was in school, one year the teacher asked us to write a report on what we’d be when we grew up. Being me wasn’t enough to write a report on. So what would I be when I grew up? Something special.
This is a recipe for unhappiness, of course. Because even if I succeeded in becoming something special, even if I got the admiration, adoration, and approval that I thought I wanted, I’d be left with a terrible anxiety inside. A doubt…”Is it me they love? Or my specialness?”
My specialness can disappear. For example, if my specialness is some special talent or ability, I could lose it. Or it can easily turn into something that people despise instead of love.
So no matter how special I manage to become, it only makes me more anxious, feeling more isolated.
Fortunately, I was so completely miserable being special – with my special OCD, special anger, special aloofness – I had to die to specialness.
And what that left was just me.
Just me…and the totality of life.
In comparison to the totality of life, it’s tempting to fall into the idea that I’m unimportant. Because I’m apparently pretty small and apparently pretty insignificant. And life is apparently really huge. After all, life is holding it all, moving it all, being it all. The stars and the light that stretch across space so vast that it might as well be infinite. Planets orbiting those stars. Moons orbiting some of the planets. Planets so large that in and of themselves, they make me appear insignificant.
But my heart is also beat by the same life. My apparent life is animated by that same intelligence.
And it is intelligent. It is responsive and creative and alive. Clearly. All I have to do is open my eyes and it is clear.
Heck, I don’t even have to open my eyes. Even with them closed, here is an infinite universe seemingly “within”. Alive, intelligent, aware.
In direct experience, my life isn’t separate from life itself.
I may not be special. Blessedly so.
But I am important.
You are important. Not because you are special, though.
Just because we are. We are important because we are.
There is another option, you know. As Shakespeare famously posed it…to be or not to be.
But this is not a choice we can be assured that we get to make. Me, my idea of myself as a separate, time-bound thing…do I get to choose to be or not to be? Would killing myself result in not being?
I don’t think so. Plenty have killed themselves, but still, being persists.
So to be or not to be is not my choice, not your choice.
Being is happening. Being is choosing me. I can know this because here I am.
Sometimes it seems like and appears like torture. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes we wish it wasn’t.
But wishes aside, being is happening. So rather than wishing or hoping, what can I do?
I can choose being now. I can choose my life now. I can choose what is and live from trust. I can choose all of what I am as important…not just the parts that I think are good, acceptable, and okay. All of me, all of my experiences.
What I’ve found is that choosing to live from trust is terrifying to my self-concept. My conditioned ideas of myself as an island responsible for all my own experiences and feelings and for being special can’t co-exist with the immediate direct raw experience of 100% choosing this now.
My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay when I have $$$ in my bank account enough. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if people approve of me. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if I’m “getting it right”.
But these ideas are stiffling. This whole idea of myself is like a straightjacket.
Here’s the question I ask: am I truly fulfilled?
If the answer is no, there are three options:
1. Ignore the warning signs and keep doing more of the same
2. React by seeking for solutions to the problem
3. Trust fully, surrender to life, and be moved
I tried the first two for most of my life with extremely painful results. Ultimately, the pain of that led/forced me to truly open to the third option.
The third option is humbling. It is unknown. It completely undoes my ideas of myself.
It strips me bare and often puts me on display in uncomfortable ways. It leaves me exposed, vulnerable. It has repeatedly shown me that I don’t need the money, things, experience, people, or other things that I thought I needed to be okay or fulfilled.
This way is uncommon, though I suspect that it is becoming more common. It is uncommon because it flies in the face of what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and life. But I believe it is becoming more common because more and more people are waking up to just how painful the other options are.
Collectively, humanity has more than enough nuclear weapons to ensure that doing more of the same is a terrible idea.
And we’ve sought for solutions (at the level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place) without success. The search for solutions leads to the holocaust and to the (in my humble opinion absolutely insane) neuralink (google it) and to rare earth mineral mining and tar sands projects and on and on.
So those of us with open minds and open hearts are ready for a different option.
And I am proposing the third option – surrender to life, trust in the intelligence that beats our hearts.
This is a messy option. It doesn’t allow for the 1% to decide for the 99%. It doesn’t even allow for representative democracy.
Because this third option acknowledges the importance of everyone and everything. And the wholeness and integrity of everyone and everything.
It requires that we prioritize listening. Listening to our hearts. Listening to one another. And listening to those who don’t speak in the same language we do…
Which requires patience. And slowing down. And a willingness to see and feel and be witness to what we have tried to avoid.
Because when I surrender to life, I am humbled to realize that I am not the center of the universe. Everything and everyone is important. And this reveals that my own experience is not just for me. My experience is a gift that is given through me.
A humble receiving of my own experience without treating it as a problem or trying to solve it, without trying to ignore it or sweep it under the rug…but a true surrender…is my spiritual practice, as it were.
That’s what I am here in service of.
I am the father of three children.
Being a father has changed my life in ways I could not have predicted. Well beyond merely having additional responsibilities and learning to live with more people…though including those things.
Having children has given me the clearest and most direct lesson that life is not all about me.
This has been a difficult lesson to learn. And some might think that is curious since much of what I share is about awakening to the impersonal nature of life. But all the same there is a difference between discovering something and actually *living* it.
Being a father is a choice to actually live it. It is choosing to show up and keep showing up and receive it all. Including the daily failures. Failures to communicate. Failures to keep my cool. Failures to be non-reactive. Failures to get what I want. Failures to protect them as much as I want. Failures to know everything. Failures to be kind and patient.
It is humbling. And it is often thankless.
And it is the most important thing.
A young person I know recently got into some serious legal trouble. I feel a lot of grief, sadness, and anger. He is charged with three felonies. Heartbreaking. Because he is so sweet, such a good, honest person with a loving heart.
And he had and has no father for most of his life. His biological father abused him as a child, and he was removed from his father many years ago.
The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma are ours to take responsibility for. Now. Here. In ourselves. And in our relationships with others.
The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma can only continue when we’re unwilling to show up fully. If we show up fully, they cannot continue.
To show up fully is to be vulnerable. Not to be perfect. Not to get it all right. But to show up and be real and vulnerable. To admit to failures. To look others in the eye. To say I’m sorry. To be humbled and to still show up.
Even when the conditioning of millions of years says to get the hell out of here. Or to hit. Or to shout. To blame. To shame. To violate.
Even when that conditioning has already played out. It is not too late.
Now is the time.
I came into this life with a lot of challenges. I developed more challenges through this life. Emotionally challenged. Shame, humiliation, disgust, terror, arrogance.
Before I became a father, I thought I needed to change all those things and fix myself first before I could be worthy of relationship.
Nearly nine years after becoming a father, nine years of choosing to be a father, to show up daily, I know differently.
I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to fix everything first.
I just need to be willing to keep showing up, keep being humbled, keep opening my heart.
Trauma leads to more trauma…when we try to avoid it all and fix it all and isolate.
But the healing of trauma occurs with presence, the willingness to show up and be vulnerable and receive this experience, this moment right now. And in the healing of trauma there is a gift to the world.
The gift of presence matters. It matters to everyone.
First, I choose to be present to my own experience. I choose not to reject my experiences, my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts, my circumstances. I choose to receive it all, acknowledging that I don’t know what any of this means. But I can choose to receive it and trust in life, Trust in that which gave life to me.
Second, I choose to be present to my own experience in the presence of others and to be present to others as they have their experiences.
Third, I choose to forgive myself and others for when we forget what is most important. And I choose to show up vulnerably now.
To me, this is what it is to be a father. And a friend. And a lover. And a human being.
It matters. It makes a difference.
Your presence matters. Your presence to your own experience. And your presence to others. Your presence heals.
You may be a father. You may be a mother. You may not be a father or mother. But your presence matters. It matters to you. It matters to your friends, family, and loved ones. It matters to the world.
Don’t underestimate the importance of showing up vulnerable and authentic now.
When I’m feeling happy, I’m breathing.
When I’m feeling sad, I’m breathing.
When I’m feeling angry, I’m breathing.
When I’m rich, I’m breathing.
When I’m poor, I’m breathing.
When I’m succeeding, I’m breathing.
When I’m failing, I’m breathing.
When people like me, I’m breathing.
When people don’t like me, I’m breathing.
Whatever is happening, I’m breathing. I’m alive. Life is happening. And it is all given freely, unconditionally, always.
My mind says, “Yeah, but what about if you can’t breathe?”
Yeah, maybe at some point. But right now, I’m breathing. So right now life is happening freely. Right now despite any protestations of mind, reality is I am alive. Right now there is an infinite field of potential that is open. Right now there is no problem that can overshadow the fact that all this is happening (instead of not happening).
Why overlook it any longer? Why deny this?
All the overlooking and denial doesn’t change the fact that this is happening. I am alive. I am breathing. I am.
This is always here. Whether I overlook it or deny it or not.
Do you ever feel that something is wrong? Not as it should be?
Of course you do. We all do.
But have you ever considered, and I mean deeply considered, what exactly is wrong?
Sometimes it seems so clear. For example, I once was sick with Lyme disease. I could attribute the wrongness that I experience as being caused by the illness. And if I believe that my illness is caused by an infection, I might attribute the wrongness to the infection. Or if I believe the illness is caused by my life circumstances, I might attribute the wrongness to the circumstances.
Of course, other times, it isn’t so clear. For example, after a while – about 7 years in – I started to suspect that maybe, just maybe, my Lyme disease symptoms had nothing to do with Lyme disease. But then, what was the cause? If you’ve experienced (as we all have) mysterious symptoms of feeling that something is off or wrong in your life, you probably know what it is to search for the cause.
In my case, I wondered if it was caused by heavy metals or maybe sleep problems or maybe breathing problems or maybe nutritional problems or maybe because once upon a time my school principal threatened to paddle me with a wooden paddle or maybe because of the trauma of a dental surgery I had when I was 21. Or maybe another million possible reasons.
But here’s a radical idea. What if none of my interpretations are correct? What if all the causes I’ve assumed were the causes of the problem are not the causes at all?
What if…and this might be hard to truly consider, but just open to it for a moment…what if there is no problem at all? What if everything in my life and your life and life in general is exactly perfect?
Not perfect in the sense that all that happens is kind, loving, gentle, generous, and all the other kinds of things that I think that life should be exclusively made of. Because clearly that’s not the case.
But perfect in that this is actually happening.
Let that in for a moment. Let it blow your mind.
This is happening. If you are willing to set aside for a moment all the things you think you know about why this shouldn’t be happening – the pain, suffering, misery, torture, horror, terror, etc. – you can let in that this IS happening.
How many times in life have you shied away from happening? Tried to avoid feelings, people, conversations, situations, thoughts, judgments…
I have done that a lot.
But life doesn’t shy away. Life keeps showing up.
Even with the pain, suffering, misery, etc. Even if it is hard or scary or whatever else, life keeps showing up 100% without hesitation.
Every moment, life keeps showing up. Never not here.
Even when you curse it.
Instead of assuming that life is against us, what would happen if we just see what is actually happening?
I know what would happen.
We’d be surprised.
We’d see clearly that this is all happening. And we’d see that we don’t know what any of it means.
And we’d be in awe.
Even when we’re sick. Even when we’re reactive. Even when we’re suffering.
Nothing could strike the awe from us because we would recognize that awe as the purest manifestation of the divine, which is the seed of our human being.
It would allow us to recognize that while we don’t know what any of life means, we can choose to trust.
We have been misled. We’ve been taught that we are gods. We’ve been taught that we are responsible for fixing and managing our lives.
At a certain phase of development we need to learn that we can make our own beds and brush our own teeth and wipe our own butts.
But we’re all functioning at that level and have been for a long time. We know we can blow our own noses, chew our own food.
Is that idea that we are gods still useful to us? Or does it blind us with nearsighted fixation, always thinking only of my, me, mine?
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself. And for me, it is very much time to admit that I don’t know what any of my life means. I don’t know what life means. And every time I try to figure it out, I overlook the awe that is my purest connection with the divine. The awe that is always here.
Rather than assuming that I need to figure out my life and fix it, I find immense joy in the awe.
That awe is always here. In the happiness and in the frustration, in health and in sickness, in gain and in loss.
My every footstep, every breath, every thought, every desire is guided perfectly now, now, and now. Always now.
And so is yours. Just look and see. Everything is happening. All of this, including you, is happening. Happening perfectly.
Whatever I may think my purpose is, the meaning of my life, the truth of my purpose and the meaning of my life reveals itself always now. This happening.
My mind always wants more. It is not content with the infinite. It wants to control the infinite and augment the infinite.
But me being just as I am already augments the infinite. Me as I am, including my supposed faults and my supposed illnesses and my supposes traumas and my supposed seeking and my supposed suffering, is already happening. It is already new. This has never been before. This is happening freshly. Always fresh.
I don’t need to do anything to make this happen. I can trust in the awe. Ride the wave.