My beautiful eyes, my innocent eyes

“You are quite naive,” said the Face reader. “You are easily taken advantage of.”  Face reading is a pseudoscience that predicts personality from physical characteristics. It can be insightful; it is at least interesting.  In this case, the reader believes my eyes are shaped and sized in a way that reflects being naive. 

I walked away, incensed. I am a talented negotiator and always leave the table with my goals met. I assess people for a living. How could I be naive?

Mental flash: despite my confidence in life, I have had a history of intimate relationships where I was easily deceived of the nature of my partner. In fact, in all cases of major relationships, my family warned me off each of them. I dismissed my siblings, believing I could see something they could not. In fact, the opposite equally was true. And how many times have I hired staff that were good performers but challenging personalities?  I even have at least two roles where I was not a fit with an organization but I accepted the job anyway. 

So I looked up the word. Naive means innocent, natural and unaffected. As an empathic and a highly sensitive person, I feel pain when I lie or act untruthfully. A line from Tolkien always stuck with me: “the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived.” 

When it comes to people, I believe I tend to see the most beautiful perfect parts of them – I see the Divine in people. Even when a person is mean or selfish, I see the parts of them that are kind and generous. The difficulty with that in a long term relationship comes when the balance between selfishness and generosity is not there. Or when the balance is tipped away from what is best for me. 

I am naive. I have big, beautiful and innocent eyes. I have a big, beautiful and innocent heart. My spiritual path is not about finding ways to protect myself from others. That would mean my goal is to control circumstances and people – folly. My path is to experience without attachment. My path is to be open to all that is, without Self protection or fear. 

My eyes, my beautiful innocent eyes truly are a window to my soul. 

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When It Isn’t Really “All God”

There is a popular phrase in some spiritual circles: “It’s all God.”
This is meant to align with nondualistic philosophy.  Nonduality has its roots in Hindu and yogic philosophy, and is increasingly popular in the West. The foundational phrase is “Brahma satyam jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah — Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self.”  Very roughly translated, Brahman is God.  And so, we find the idea of It is all God.

But, like many ideas that are adopted in the West, the meaning behind this text has become used to defend the spiritual ego. Spiritual ego is when the conditioned ego takes on the trappings of spirituality. So, It Is All God becomes:

It is all God…so I don’t have to let go of this bad habit.

It is all God…so I can’t really be hurting you.

It is all God…so nothing has to change.

It is all God…so I am off the hook.

One of the essential elements of  It Is All God is that it is non-personal.  It reflects realization of the true self.  It is sourced in the realization of both non-separation and the fact there is an individualized expression of consciousness.

Claims like “It Is All God…so…” followed by justification of a personal reality is kinda not it at all!

Jeff Foster is one of the most responsible Western teachers of non-dualism.  He captures this idea really well:

“I am officially no longer an ‘Advaita teacher’ or ‘Nonduality teacher’ – if, indeed, I ever was one. Life cannot be put into words, and however beautiful the words of Advaita/Nonduality are, they must be discarded in the end. I could never claim to be any sort of authority on this stuff. I will continue to speak, to sing my song to those who are open to listening, but gone is the need to adhere to any tradition, to use ‘Advaita-speak’ to avoid real, authentic human engagement, to pretend that I am in any way more or less special than you, to kid you that I know more than you, to play the ‘teacher’ by refusing to meet you in the play, to stop listening to you because I see you as ‘still stuck in the dream’ or ‘still a person’. This message is about love, in the true sense of the word – otherwise it is simply nihilism masquerading as freedom. The ‘Advaita Police’ reply ‘Who cares?’ I say I do. I do.” (emphasis is mine).

The idea of It Is All God points to something beautiful, when it is used with awareness.

“And so what is seen these days is this: nonduality is not a rejection of duality, but a celebration of it – such a total celebration, that one cannot even use the words ‘nonduality’ and ‘duality’ as separate from each other. No-one and someone are actually one – they were never two.”

It Is All God. It is all love.  And love will explore that bad habit, be concerned about hurting another, change to be in alignment with love, and take responsibility for authentic human engagement.

My Self Reclamation Project

When you have been hurt, it can be natural to avoid things that remind you of that hurt. My dog won’t go near a toy that startled him. My daughter avoids opening soda cans since she cut herself on one. And I stopped doing alot of my favorite things because I could relate them to past relationships. 

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It was easy to justify. My spiritual path was about letting go of attachments so clearly it was ok to let go of these activities as part of my past. It was part of letting go of Self. Wasn’t it?

Probably not. It was spiritual hijacking by the ego to protect the ego. 

Over the last year, I have actively and deliberately done things that were associated with emotional pain. What I learned was what the false beliefs were that were attached to each of them.

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I had avoided certain trips because I thought it would be lonely to travel without a partner. It’s not. I had avoided certain Christmas traditions because I thought they would trigger feelings of loss. When I experienced them NOW, not loaded with the past, they were beautiful not painful.

Freedom from the mind is so full of light. And since this is the Season of Light, I am drinking it in.

You Can’t See Me

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A colleague asked for my perspective.  “I want your view,” she said, describing a relationship issue. “You are touchy feely. You get this.”

I tried not to laugh out loud. I am not sure there are many people who would call me touchy feely. I hear the terms strong and confident alot, but not touchy feely.

But I would describe her as very touchy feely.  Which makes sense. “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” – Anaïs Nin

Yet, I don’t truly disagree with her perception of me. What I have learned is that while my egoic conditioning or personality may be defined and limited (e.g., I am THIS,  I am not THAT ), my true self is all possibilities.  I can be touchy feely. I like to express my love through touch. I am less expressive than some with my emotions so I let my actions be my Love Language.

What I know is that for all the times we crave being seen, what we mean is that we want to be seen for our ego and still be accepted and loved. I can’t crave being seen for my true self – it is infinite.  It is all possibilities.  You can never really see me unless you can see the divine. You can only see me as the word Namaste – the divine in me recognizes the divine in you. And when I glimpse that, it is a beautiful and miraculous thing.

Meet Me At Me

“I need you to meet me at me,” I once told him.

“What does that mean? What would that look like?” he asked.

I have thought about that question many times. I know what it feels like when someone meets me at me. I know too well what it feels like when it doesn’t happen.

The real key to that question is what happens when I meet me at me.

The Me is not my personality or my ego. It is the Me that longs for truth. It is the Me that does not believe in separation.

I know that Me is more present than ever because of what others are experiencing around me. Three times this week I was described as stunning and beautiful. I am not stuck on being judged as an object and have my self determined by others. What I love is being seen, truly, and that what is seen aligns with my desire to be Truth.

I have been told I am a calming influence. I am wise. I am strong. I am inspiring and bring a perspective to things that most miss.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also selfish, irresponsible, prone to flashes of temper, and sometimes judgemental. But only when I believe my own thoughts.

What does it mean to meet me at me? It is no longer something I can ask of another. It is me that meets me. Any aspect of that which I attribute to you is an image of separation.

“Awakening to the truth of perfect Unity means to awaken from the dream of a personal self and personal others to the realization that there is no other. Many spiritual seekers have had glimpses of the absolute unity of all existence, but few are capable of or willing to live up to the many challenging implications inherent in that revelation. The revelation of perfect unity, that there is no other, is a realization of the ultimate impersonality of all that seems to be so very personal.

Applying this realization to the arena of personal relationships is something that most seekers find extremely challenging, and is the number one reason why so many seekers never come completely to rest in the freedom of the Self Absolute. Inherent in the revelation of perfect unity is the realization that there is no personal me, no personal other, and therefore no personal relationships. Coming to terms with the challenging implications of this stunning realization is something that few people are willing to do, because realizing the true impersonality of all that seems so personal challenges every aspect of the illusion of a separate, personal self. It challenges the entire structure of personal relationships which are born of needs, wants, and expectations.” –Adyashanti

When I asked intimate others to meet me at me, it was the longing for My Self. It was the longing to know my Truth.

Only I can meet me at me.
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I Hope to Meet You

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“I hope to meet you.”

Lately, I have been living more virtually. In my work, I have meetings with people from across the country and often from across the province. In my spiritual community, my kula mates are all over the world. My current study partner is in Australia.

Virtual relationships are as satisfying to me as face to face ones. Over the last month, however, I have been told regularly “I hope to meet you.”

I suppose, as an empath and a tantrika, my experience of most people is energetic. It is absolutely lovely to sit over a cup of tea with someone with whom I feel connection. But I am just as excited about my Skype study sessions with my friend in Australia.

What that phrase triggers in me is the awareness of people who have met me but not truly Met Me. People who could interact beautifully with my egoic self, my projected self, but who could not meet Me at Me.

What does that mean? The people with whom I have the most fulfilling relationships have an awareness of the radiant self in them and in me.  This is where we interact. These people often know very few of my “stories” and may not be part of my mundane life. But beyond space and time – we connect. What we are doing isn’t as important as our Being.

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. ”
-Rumi

Being Gentle With Myself is About Freedom

hand-2I am told to “Be gentle with myself” quite often.  It irritates me (don’t be offended – YOU don’t irritate me, just the idea does) and so I am exploring that now.

To say I am a perfectionist would be true at times.  I have very high personal standards, but they are meant to be in service of what I am capable of being.  My standard is about being loving, awake, in truth, accepting, surrendering, and living from consciousness.  I have very little problem in looking at my egoic bumps and lumps to release them.

But sometimes, I feel disappointed or like a failure when the same conditioned reactions arise in me over and over.  I feel even worse when I act from them.  I think at times, I even feel proud that I am telling you about them – see how responsible I am? See how awake I am? I own my stuff with pride!

Possibly, that is a subtle form of ego. If nothing else, when I am busy doing that, I am unconscious, so it goes against my own desires.

“A thought or emotion emerges, you notice it, and it passes by because you allow it to.  This technique of freeing yourself is done with the understanding that thoughts and emotions are just objects of consciousness.  Wen you see your heart start getting anxious, you are obviously aware of this experience.  But who is aware? It is the consciousness, the indwelling being, the Soul, the Self.  It is the seer, the one who sees. The changes you experience in your inner energy flow are simply objects of this consciousness.  If you want  to be free, then every time you feel any change in the energy flow, relax behind it.  Don’t fight with it, don’t try to change it and don’t judge it.  Don’t say “Oh I can’t believe I’m still feeling this.  I promised myself I wouldn’t think about that car anymore.” Don’t do that; you will just end up going with the guilt thoughts instead of the car thoughts. You have to let them go.

But it’s not just about letting go of the thoughts and emotions.  It is actually about letting go of the pull that the energy itself has on your consciousness.  The disturbed energy is trying to draw your attention into it.  If you use your inner will power to not go with it, and just remain seated within, you will notice that the distinction between the consciousness and the object of consciousness is like night and day.  They are totally different things.  The object comes and goes, and the consciousness watches it come and go.  Then the next object comes and goes while the consciousness watches it.  Both objects came and went, but the consciousness didn’t go anywhere.” – Michael A. Singer

My resistance to “Being gentle with myself” is that I don’t want to identify with a self.  I want to return often to that awareness of consciousness and act from there.  I can celebrate that I return to that place more and more quickly – minutes now, not hours or days.  I can also celebrate that it hurts and feels uncomfortable when I act in a way that is out of alignment with with my Being.  I know it will take time for inner energy shifts to show up and dissolve old patterns.  I want to be aware of them, without energizing them when they occur. 

So, next time you want to support me, and you tell me to be gentle with myself, I am going to remember that you want me to be free of myself, my guilt, and my ego.  And I will be very grateful. 🙂