relationships

29 12, 2007

The essence of compassion (channeled)

December 29th, 2007|allowing, counseling, love, non duality, relationships, suffering|28 Comments

The following is channeled material on compassion:

 

 

Let us speak to you today on the topic of compassion. Understand that when we use this term, we would like to refer to it as ‘an expression of Love’. Compassion is, in our perception, a melding of one’s energy with another’s. A combining to create something new that didn’t exist before. This new creation of energy as a combination of yours and another’s unites you, creates a bond between you. Over time, this act of creation between two people takes on a life of its own in some ways. But regardless of the length of time of the melding of energies, there does exist to varying degrees an understanding, awareness, acknowledgment, and acceptance of the state the other is in at that present moment. This acceptance for the state of another, whatever state that may be, is what we see as compassion.

15 11, 2007

Knowing Self and knowing others.

November 15th, 2007|non duality, relationships, spirituality|9 Comments

There is paradox in everything about the human experience. For instance, it is through giving we receive, and through receiving we give. It is the ‘unimportant’ in our lives, such as stopping to breath under an unfolding oak tree, that gives importance to other activities. It is the “meaningless’ connections in daily living, such as a hello at a checkout at the supermarket, that provides framework and meaning for the more intimate connections we have. These apparent paradoxes are not part of any cosmic game played on us, but rather a daily reminder of the wholeness and perfection of life. Each moment offers glimpses into this, often via these connections with others.

These connections with others are a foundational part of living. Without them, we would quite literally go insane or feel tormented, as those in solitary confinement in prison sometimes do. Exploring connections is hard wired into our bodies, and even when lives of relative isolation are lived, there will always be an element of this exploration.

Exploring longer term connections, the depth of them, is termed ‘a relationship‘. We all have different preconceptions of what a relationship is – as many preconceptions as the word ‘love’. It is in longer term relationships that we meet the dichotomy between these preconceptions and what is head on. Conflict can be the natural result. We also see how much the ideal of ‘relationship’ we have works within ourselves, for we can try to fit ourselves in a mold very easily in an attempt for intimacy. It is a dance with essentially the present moment, Now.

 

In this dance of intimacy, which can also be termed ‘knowing the Self’, I’ve identified two fundamental forces and motivations based in Love:

  • Knowing Love through interconnection. This is the desire to know one’s wholeness and completion through seeing how fundamentally interconnected we are with others. We connect with others via sharing ideas, emotions, and space, and feel the joy that comes from this experience of oneness in whatever form it takes. It is a desire to fully experience the knowledge that you are not separate from anything in the universe.
  • Knowing Love through autonomy. This is the desire to experience wholeness simply by being exactly who you are in this moment. In other words, it is the sure knowledge there is nothing lacking in you, and that nothing can be found in another that cannot be found in the Self. There is thus no empty need for connections with others. There is nothing you can ‘get’ you cannot find already there, and so there is no need for any pretense in order to gain anything externally. All of the universe is within you.

 

These two forces sound diametrically in opposition. Most people place more emphasis on one than the other; some are focused on new experiences and connections at all costs, and yet others are about maintaining and building identity. Yet the paradox involved in all this is that they are not separate at all. Wholeness is found both in the universe and in the Self, without conflict. ‘As within, so without’ was the maxim of the alchemists studying inner transformation. This has parallels to the psychological concept in Bowen family systems theory of differentiation. A healthy balance is obtained by a core self that is maintained in the midst of stress and deep connection. The oneness of the above concepts shows itself in the world through the fact that the depth of your connection with others is always equal to the depth of connection you have with your Self. Again, this is not theory, and it is not simply in the long term. It is a truism of every moment of your life. When you lose connection with Self, you may indeed feel ‘highs’ of connection with others, which can feel as intense as opiates. But this connection always feels around the corner, not Now. This law of connection is itself an expression of the oneness of the universe.

Relationships are the most visible manifestation of this oneness. If a man feels inner lack, or emptiness inside from not being connected to Self, then it is common to seek someone in a relationship to fill this apparent void. He might even obsessively seek more and more connections with others, seeking to know wholeness through the eyes of many others. But because of the utter unity of inner relationship with the Self and outer relationships with others, this soon manifests as co-dependency, conflict or other ‘problems’, even in short term relationships. I also see this in nightclubs and dance events; when others are in close proximity and there is no firm knowledge of Self (autonomy), then there is a natural diving into others that is in essence a giving away of the birthright of knowing wholeness. It often pleasurable, but it will always contain seeds of experiencing the separation the action comes out of. This is not a punishment, but a continual invitation to know Self.

The other side of it is common to those involved in spiritual quests, as I was:

When I was in my twenties, I was coming out of a very isolated and empty family. Because of the framework and pains I had accumulated through childhood, connections with others were painful, and I thought that heavy meditation was the answer. Eventually I would ‘get it’ and find enlightenment. I was determined to find the wholeness in myself, so I would retreat into long meditations and avoid connections with others until I obtained this. Of course, the denial of the interconnection with others led to even more disconnections within. Depression continued and I thought that I must not be meditating hard enough. It took a lengthy trip to India to see that I was literally trying to cut off part of myself in order to find ‘wholeness’. This in itself was violence to myself, and it took me some time to recognize this. On my return from India, I immediately dived into a tumultuous and emotionally heavy relationship, which was necessary on my path to balance and knowing Self.

The ultimate expression of Love in this world, is seeing another as Self. This is not a theoretical statement, but a simple expression of the non-duality that is underlying all of life. If you look at the two forces described above, in fact the only way of harmonizing them without conflict is through this perceptional transformation. This is in fact what the root of the Hindi word ‘Namaste’ is. I see that we are truly one, and I honor this unity.

You could think of a third force in addition to the two above, a neutral force. This is referred to as “the observer”, “the ether”, etc. It is a state of potential, of simply being and allowing. It provides the framework that lets harmonization occur, where “the observer becomes the observed”, as Krishnamurthi said.

 

So then, given this state of the universe, how do we experience this oneness? How do we know Self, and truly experience the joys of the interconnection with all aspects of life? According to Gandhi, ‘The ends are the means’. As superficial as it sounds, it is good to ask yourself how you would act if you knew the truths above in every aspect of your being. Would you still look for the same distractions? Would you not look in the eyes of those surrounding you in life? Would you still have the same short, shallow breath through much of your day that keeps you from experiencing what is actually going on in the present moment?

There is no substitute for experience, and the greatest lessons are always obtained by completely being present in life, without any escapes or attempts to be anywhere else but Here or Now. When disconnections have been built, it is of course natural that the first experiences would be painful, but this is nothing more than an awakening of awareness. And it is through awareness â???? being fully and utterly conscious of Self and others in their completeness â???? that Love is manifested on this Earth. Is this not what we all wish to bring?

23 09, 2007

the prison of emotional denial

September 23rd, 2007|emotions, love, pain, relationships, wholeness|12 Comments

These last two weeks I’ve been witness to a few rather emotional discussions. Which is not at all unusual for me. However, in these weeks I’ve also been seeing how much push there is to suppress emotion in them – even for discussions of an inherently emotional nature. This kind of reaction seems to be pervasive in our culture. As a society, we’re extremely uncomfortable with emotion, and this shows up in a lack of appreciation of simply allowing it. To take an example, say there’s a conflict between two people you know and like. There are no ‘easy’ solutions in such a situation. Both of them usually have valid perspectives, which are linked to their own emotions, who they are, and their own boundaries. It’s easy to get alienated from such situations because there’s no ‘right’ answer, no “good side”, and it’s easy to feel trapped between the opposing forces. Aligning yourself with one side usually generates more problems. Emotions, therefore, are something best to avoid. At least so many thoughts go.

If we look deeply at the mechanism of suppressing emotions, it’s easy to see why. Who we are, which includes emotions, is actually extremely flexible â???? we can do almost anything we want to ourselves. We can develop ourselves to be almost anything desired, but we can also push emotions, memories, and thoughts away from sight and try to squish them into nothingness. Our training in this culture involving doing such things almost from day one. However â???? and this is the root of almost all ‘problems’ â???? we cannot truly disconnect ourselves from ourselves. There is no way to cut off and discard any disliked portion of ourselves. There is truly no escape from who we are. We can try to surgically disconnect a painful emotion, and we get a reasonable facsimile of this disconnection. But it will not be a true disconnect. Any emotion we’ve tried to shove away is always there, waiting to come back, and in fact pulling on us in every moment.

For the visually minded, I liken this process to a great white elastic band. We can stuff part of ourselves in a box, bury it, and walk away, but we’ll have that ‘pull’ from it. It will exert pressure on us in every single moment, bringing attention to it. The farther we push it away, the more pull there will be. This is why the elastic band image helps. This pull isn’t a harsh ‘you must deal with it’ one, but rather a force of nature that simply wants us to be in wholeness, bringing us back to our greater Self. This elastic can be influenced by others, too â???? if someone else walks through the area of the denied connection, what occurs is the elastic force snapping back, similar to a real elastic band. This is another description of what ‘triggering’ is.

Now in almost everyone there is not just one such pocket of emotion buried and abandoned, but multitudes. Each one exerts this pull back. Try to imagine how that would feel with real elastic bands. Because of the constant pull in many conflicting directions, there’s very little freedom to move in any direction. A little movement can be made, but even small can movements pull against hidden emotion which will then pull back, producing an emotional reaction in response. This can generates fear of any emotional movement at all. Most people are quite literally trapped in a static place by buried emotions. In such a place, life is filled with emotional minefields and geysers waiting to erupt. Words must be watched and controlled in every moment. Walls and wired fences mark off areas where unwanted emotions lie fallow.

inside a prison

Now imagine on top of this picture that you are close with someone else, who also has a huge amount of buried emotions. It would be very easy to get a reaction in that person if you tried to move through any of their “elastic bands”. So in most relationships, there is a general, unspoken agreement for both parties to act in such a way that no one will be triggered. The initial rush of being ‘in love’ at the beginning is usually the time such agreements are formed. It’s quite natural, of course; being triggered is not enjoyable to anyone, and it is normal to demonstrate you’re not going to trigger pain to someone you love. However, this restricts motion even further. After some time, there’s often a realization of how emotionally static such a posture is. This is when relationship questioning happens. It can either lead to greater freedom if both sides are open to questioning or to the end of a relationship if one person blames the other for opening up emotional cans of worms. There was an unspoken agreement, after all!

These unspoken agreements are actually pervasive in all aspects of our society. Social groups often have a number of these. To see this, try to imagine you showing the raw spectrum of an intense emotion without filtering (and without blaming others) to a group you’re part of. If you feel that this would cause a lot of alienation, or you simply cannot even imagine it, that is a sign of unspoken agreements. In such cases, someone not acting in accord with these agreements are the vast majority of the time thought of as ‘the problem’. To someone in a prison, those outside of it can indeed be a problem! Unfortunately, the label of ‘the problem’ sticks far too often to anyone with even a little self-doubt, encouraging further denial of emotions. And thus the cycle continues

The road less travelled, of course, is simply to not push away any emotion that occurs. This applies to both emotions within and emotions in others. Without the network of opposing forces described above, an incredible amount of freedom begins to take root. There are no longer any self-created chains rooting you to a particular emotional landscape. At first this is terrifying, but as the infinite amount of choices now available are gotten used to, the dance of freedom truly begins.

Of course, it takes a good deal of time to reincorporate denied aspects of ourselves back into the fold. Try to imagine trying to rush this process and having many of these elastic forces snap back all at once! It takes gentleness and patience. Nevertheless, each part of Self allowed back into a space of wholeness always adds to your sense of freedom, and brings a greater strength for any further challenges. This is the path of wholeness. When the freedom and joy of this is seen, then there is no need to even try for disconnections from Self. For we are complete, just as we are.

7 04, 2007

On Intimacy

April 7th, 2007|allowing, Intimacy, listening, love, relationships|2 Comments

The magical state that is our glimpse of oneness can be called by many labels, including “intimacy”, but my favorite is the term “essence contact”. It speaks of the frivolous aspects of our personalities (including fears and expectations) stepping aside and letting the core of our selves connect with another. This passes by all this images we have about it.

It’s hard to describe how to get there because it is after all a very natural thing. Look at the way a baby interacts with the world – with wonder. Every touch is a fully present touch, an invitation to explore. The effect this has on others is magical.

There is no difference between intimacy and meditation. Each comes from a state of division-less. There is no “other”, no “I am this, and I want that, which I am not”. There is only a wholeness that comes of no separation inside one’s self; no difference between “outer” and “inner”. In true intimacy, there is no difference between “the other” and “yourself”, because at that moment, there is union.

It’s good to also differentiate between intimacy with another and intimacy with yourself. Intimacy with yourself is always a prerequisite to intimacy with another, and the intimacy you have with another is never more than the intimacy you have with yourself. Intimacy with one’s self largely falls under the heading of “know yourself”, and is also meditation. Most relationships will focus on intimacy with each other, which often leads to frustration if there is not time and space given to self-intimacy as well. We all know about this â???? it’s like banging your head against a wall that gets harder and more immovable the more you bash against it.

What’s very humorous about the whole topic is that intimacy is extremely easy to achieve. It’s a natural human condition. If you want to learn about intimacy at its basic nature, hang around babies; they don’t know any barriers yet, so they touch the world and others in a basic, unfiltered manner. You touch a newborn baby and you’re touching their soul; there is no separation. We can all return to that place very easily. All it requires is a willingness not to resist it. That is, not to resist ANYTHING. You cannot be in a place of intimacy and vulnerability within a sphere of protection against any feelings going on inside.

Building on this, for us adults, many things can block intimacy, but in my eyes they come down to fears and expectations.

If you look at a fairly ‘normal’ person in our society, despite the best intentions to head into a relationship with an open heart, there are fairly standard expectations. Some I’ve seen are:

– Their partner should think of them as the “only one” for them and act accordingly.
– Their partner should never be critical of them and should always be unconditionally supporting.
– Couples should spend as much time together as they possibly can, and should always be first on each others agenda.
– Their partner should demonstrate affection and love in a very specific manner that means something to them.
– Their partner should understand them fully.
– Their partner should never feel attraction to other people.
– Good relationships should never have shit come up.
– No matter how negative or destructive you are, the partner should always be there.

Perhaps you’ll recognize some of them! To see how a block might happen, say a person in a relationship feels a strong attraction to another outside the relationship. They don’t want to leave the relationship, and don’t do anything to further it. However, their partner feels what’s going on and gets angry â???? a very natural result of having these expectations. So the person resolves to “wall away” these feelings, resulting in an inner separation between what’s “acceptable” and “not acceptable”. The consequence of this is a lack of wholeness, and therefore intimacy within one’s self. This means that this person cannot actually bring their whole self to the other, resulting in a lack of intimacy in the relationship.

Note that there’s a world of difference between agreements and expectations. Agreements are conscious and can be very clear, providing a nice foundation for intimacy. If there’s an agreement to be monogamous (very useful in most cases!), and one person breaks it without a talk to change the agreement first, there’s a very natural erosion of trust. It also speaks of lack of integrity/lack of self-intimacy. Integrity and intimacy with one’s self are very intertwined.

Any expectation is a barrier to intimacy. No exceptions. Any condition, such as “I’m not willing to see the anger seething inside you” blocks the person’s whole being from true intimacy, since intimacy is related to wholeness. Note that this is VERY different from not accepting behaviors. Anger can be welcomed as part of the other’s experience of life; welcoming violent and/or disrespectful behavior is very inadvisable! To be able to see, in the moment, the innocence of the source of the behavior while being firm with boundaries about some behaviors (such as venting anger at you) is absolutely essential and a great help to the world.

I’ve noticed I can be frustrating in a relationship because my natural inclination is to value a relationship only as much as the intimacy in it. I don’t judge relationships based on how long they lasts. I don’t care much about “building a life together”. Those things are in the future, not in the present moment. Most people approach relationships such as “if only the other person would commit to me, if only they’d be completely open with me, then maybe we’d have the intimacy we need”. I try to approach relationships from open eyes that ask “is there intimacy here?”. That is, intimacy in every moment, a welcoming from the heart. If there is, then each moment is a foundation for the next; that momentum can indeed last a lifetime.

13 06, 2006

giving, receiving, and the flow of love.

June 13th, 2006|boundaries, love, relationships|2 Comments

To begin this, when referring to giving and receiving, I’m not mainly talking about giving and receiving of things, though of course that’s included. Giving includes such things as time, appreciation, listening, insight, “energy work”, and so on. I sum up all of these things as “energy”, because that’s about as generic as possible.

A main thought that I see as very misunderstood is the concept of “as ye give, so shall ye receive”. It’s sometimes understood to mean that we should all be selfless and give endlessly, and then in the future we will get something for our actions.

What a load of malarky! I don’t subscribe to any notion of doing something so that something good will come in the future. Some things need to be planned, yes, but I try to always do things because they’re the right thing to do *now*. All spiritual teachings are really built into the Now, the ever changing present moment. If you look at the tense of the above quote on giving and receiving, it’s about the present moment. It isn’t about future reward – it’s a statement of how the universe works. As energy goes out, it also comes in – and vice versa. You can’t have one without the other. “As ye receive, so shall ye give” is equally true.

Giving and receiving are always happening at the same time – often in a very non linear way. As we give to another person (e.g., giving them a compliment), we’re at the same time giving to self by saying we appreciate this quality in ourselves. We’re also receiving a sort of feedback loop from another person as they truly receive it – this can be in the form of gratitude, or joy, or even the other person’s transformation. This last one is an extremely powerful feedback of energy. We all can grow and invite joy helping others grow. (Note: we don’t help others grow by ignoring our own growth at the expense of others!)

We’re not islands unto ourselves – our entire being is really an energetic system. And because it’s a system, wherever there’s an output, there has to be a corresponding input, or motion stops. As we give, we also have to be open to receiving, or the flow stops. The reverse applies – in order to truly receive, we need to be completely open to giving.

I’ve met a number of “selfish” people in my years so far. To me, it’s simply sad, as they’re so focused on getting all they can that they block out the possibilities of giving. Because they severely limit their output, or giving, (even if it’s a heartfelt thanks!), they don’t take that much in either. If they want to “accumulate” love, for example, they find it never sticks. At the energetic level they aren’t letting that much of what’s given in, because they’re blocking the entire flow that’s needed. Oh, they can accumulate things, and when you’re monetarily poor it seems very seductive to have this attitude, but because of the attitude, they often get mired in a poverty consciousness. External things are really only a small part of what makes us happy, after all. You need to give love in order to have it flow in. This isn’t about reward or punishment – simply how the universe works.

A similar thing is when people, to external appearance, are always selflessly giving, but blocking receiving anything. One manifestation could be because they’re afraid of feeling worthless, they keep giving to not feel that feeling – but then don’t think they’re worth getting anything. This can make people around them tense, because there really isn’t much giving energetically – the flow being blocked on the receiving end makes the real giving (ie, “Love”) slow down to a trickle.

This energetic feedback loop of giving and receiving is subtle, but very important to be aware of. When I’m trying to help someone, I notice if the person is receiving it and open to the entire process, including the giving part. If I start to feel “drained”, I usually stop, because something’s going wrong with the flow. If the other person’s not taking it in, the energy can simply dissipate. Now I’m not even close to perfect in this regard, and I’m still learning an awful lot, but I’m getting better in trusting my intuitions. Trying to give – even in forms the other person wants – when they’re not open to all that’s required to receive it is simply a waste of energy, and it’s not loving (for self OR others) to persist at it.

The best example I know of giving and receiving are babies and cats. If you think of it, there’s very little they conventionally “give” other than their presence, attention, and natural response. But what a joy that is. Everyone can feel that flow – how grandly loving the energy is. We get so much from giving of our time and love. That’s the flow I’m talking about.

Now I’ve been writing mostly about energy, as the world of things can have a lot of variety. Giving away $1 million means nothing to Bill Gates, but to me it’s an extremely large amount, which I don’t even have. The time and energy I’d invest to get it is enormous. So while detachment from things is very helpful, it’s important to have self-care in giving. It wouldn’t be self-loving for me to give away my retirement, whereas by the time Bill Gates has gotten back from a coffee break he could have made that much. Self-love is as an important part of giving and receiving as anything else – if something doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t. It can be a very loving thing to do to stop an ongoing gift that doesn’t feel right, because it can bring the element of truth and clarity into it. If it doesn’t feel right, you often learn more about why after you take a break from it.

Now, I look at this unrestrained, unblocked energy flow simply as Love. That’s part of what Love is – the natural flow of energy in this grand universe. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if you’re giving or receiving at any given moment. If you’re part of this natural tide of giving and receiving, without ego-centered controls (but with self-care and good boundaries), you’re in a loving state. When we isolate ourselves or block off part of this flow, we natural block off all of it, because a river flow needs both an entrance and an exit to exist at any point. But when we participate, we find the utter joy in being part of the grand energy system we simply call “Life”.

As Gibran quote from The Prophet says:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.