Birthing Potential

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I had just turned 18 and left home for the first time, when I began to have regular sensations of being “energetically pregnant” with an “unknown potential.” Perhaps this sounds just as strange in 2016, as I judged it to be in 1972. The primary attribute of its strangeness came as an unbearable optimism that I could find little grounds for in my life at the time. How could I place my trust in something that was so unlike the reality consensus that I had come to know as “life”?

Not unlike a physical pregnancy, this strong energy in the cellular core of my body/being felt vital and engaging. It seemed to want to come into being  (be “born”) through me. Its essence was one of profound intimacy, and unspeakable joy and beauty. (Many pregnant women in supportive situations, will experience some awareness of their participation in a deeply personal,  joyous — and yet, mysteriously unknowable undertaking.)

Although this “feeling-pregnant-energy” was part of me — and full of promise and positivity — it felt foreign to everything I had come to understand about life and who I was. This made it an especially inconvenient exploration for an 18 year old. I was incapable of giving myself over to something I had so little understanding of — or external support for — at the time. So I tried my best to dial it down, and live life “normally.” My (very social) upbringing left me with a strong impression that one finds meaning by contributing through the established social order — never outside of it. In my early twenties, I even had recurring dreams about trying desperately to “fit in.” Unfailingly, the dream-characters would gently, but firmly, guide me towards the unchartered terrain within the dream scape.

Forty-four years later,  I understand this encounter to be a mystical experience. From a mystical perspective, this type of energetic/psychic experience is not uncommon or strange. A mystic always rides the unchartered froth at the edges of ordinary (conditioned) consciousness. As such, the mystic experiences “seeing and knowing” beyond the accepted (social/political) world-views of their time. This can make birthing mystical ways of relating into a materially-based world painfully confusing, and highly inconvenient — to put it mildly.

In order to birth their intuitive spiritual knowing, a mystic requires a grounded and integrated vessel (psychological, emotional, and mental alignment) that can sustain the rigours of “birthing the mystery.” For most of us living in a culture of first-world materialism, a supportive “external structure” is necessary to stabilize  the birthing and maturation of this “emergent energy.”

A sangha (spiritual community) recognizes that mystical truths are “birthed through” us, rather than “added onto” the already-known cultural, familial, political structures. This is the main emphasis for each of the Silence Practice series: the practice of “knowing” through discovering our shared depth and mutual capacity for higher-relatedness. As we learn to rest in, and relate from,  the innate mystical knowledge that we are primarily spiritual beings, habitually conditioned reflexes begin to recede.

We are ALL connected to this potential — whether we have directly experienced it or not. It is with great delight that I have been discovering that we can learn to communicate with each other “within this potential” that is wanting expression through us.  When we are willing to be still and see/hear/know beyond our own mental-emotional limits of fear and judgement,  something creative and new is born within us AND between us.

One of the most outstanding characteristics of this “unborn” potential is generosity. “It” only wants to give itself away … completely … infinitely … and precisely (uniquely through each individual). When we follow this impulse and trust it, we discover a boundless energy that delights in re-discovering itself within every life-form it encounters — again and again. The more It gives itself, the greater its capacity to receive more of “Itself.” There is no such thing as burnout in the birthing of our Divine Natures.

Until we learn to birth this innate potential,  and mobilize it in our lives, it is difficult to be in a fully trusting (open) relationship with Life. When life is lived through defense and fear, our lives remain foreign to us. We somehow stand outside of them, becoming strangers in an even stranger land. When we habitually deny our potential to birth our True Nature, we also pollute the birthing environment of our Collective Potential.

What does this birthing potential require? It requires sincere intention, steadfastness (daily practice in stillness), trust, willingness to share and discover with others — and ultimately, surrendering to the process of birthing something beyond what we have previously defined as “life.” Without birthing the potential of our mystical sensibilities, we remain strangers in the strange land of a conditioned-self. Until we are willing to discover our depth, and meet others who are also willing to discover theirs, we remain under the roof of conditioned life-habits — perhaps feeling safe, but not truly alive.

Together, we can create a new reality between us that is capable of holding a trusting space for birthing the Mystery that we are. As our world becomes increasingly global, we more than ever need stable vessels and spiritually based practice-communities to birth our individual and collective potential..

I would encourage you to post any comments and/or reflections below. Such sharing is valuable for all readers of this Blog. Namaste.

Stillness Within

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By Keira Madsen 2015

Stillness Within: A Communal Intelligence

In moments of deep stillness, it would seem that Silence surfaces from the deepest recesses of our being. By some mysterious hand of unspeakable ease, Silence offers a Knowing Intelligence that gently lifts us far beyond habits of an individuated “self.” Within a field beyond time and space, there is an inclusiveness that shatters self-imposed limitations. In these moments, I have experienced “a new world” that is both fierce and gentle: fierce in its uncompromising clarity, and gentle in its compelling generosity.

As wonderful as this sounds — and is — I also experience times of painful resistance to the direction of this authentic practice. During these times, I am torn between the desire to stake a personal claim within this field of generosity; and a deeper Knowing that everything turns to dust within its landscape.

The extraordinary edge to this Communal Intelligence is that everything belongs. Everything. Even my desire to personally manipulate it belongs. The paradoxical realization that even my egocentricity is a non-issue, brings with it a palpable heart-response that spills over into my entire body. I experience a fluid freedom that causes my body and psyche to relax. This generous field of “All is Well,” even within the struggle, must be what the mono-theistic traditions refer to as Faith, or Buddhism’s trust in the Dharma. The thrill of these mystical moments is augmented when shared in communion with others. There is no “teacher,” but rather a willingness to lean beyond our separative habits, into the communal nature of the Stillness  within.

This prose, written in December 2012, expresses some of the inclusive abundance of this Communal Intelligence, as well as my resistance to it — trying to hold on, to make the experience “something about me.” Like many of us, making life “something about me” has been encouraged and rewarded. And yet, mystical awakenings of deep connection far surpass any fulfillment I might experience within the separative paradigms we fiercely hold as reality. Deep Stillness awakens a Communal Intelligence that is uncompromisingly paradoxical: in both its glory, and in the ruthless mirror it holds before me. It shows me the nothingness of my Allness.

When I listen … deeply …

I am not alone.

Something echoes through my being,

like a distant memory …

It speaks of endless time,

 endless tenderness, endless generosity.

As I sit alert, ever more still in response to this energy,

wave after wave of Reality washes through my heart,

which is becoming The Heart,

and I lose track of the identity that entered the experience.

No wonder I have been avoiding Silence Practice lately.

It is no longer about me.

It can no longer be about me …

It is now about Love,

And Love’s story is not about me.

I don’t like the lost feeling when life is not about me,

so I make ugly scenarios in my mind.

I make things up about how much better or worse I am than others,

or what they must be thinking about me.

I really don’t believe any of it, but it keeps me busy enough

to distract me from being nothing

in this dynamic field of Love.

Love …

uncompromising, and yet wildly compelling;

disorienting, and yet gloriously up-lifting.

One can never find the separate-self identity here.

It is burned beyond recognition.

The fire of Love is strong,

uncompromising,

Liberating beyond comprehension,

and utterly unshakable.

Nothing exists but Her …

nothing

ever

did.

Scriptural References

“When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear and he feels the joy of the dharma” (Buddha)

“Be Still and Know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Permeability

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Over the course of the last weekly Silence Practice group, the recognition of our need for “permeability” evolved quite naturally. People began to recognize their availability for something beyond the conditioned mind and heart. Like a stain-glass window, many of us began to sense our unique colour (essence) becoming more permeable to the light.

Relating to Silence through our personal willingness to “let go” into stillness, makes us more and more transparent to Divine influence. When we begin to taste (experience) the profound effects of “being permeated,”  our spiritual eyes open and we are able to see the Divine Light in another — even when they may be blind to it themselves!

The result of increasing permeability is a transformational alchemy that opens us to the experience of our true nature: which has never been — or ever could be — separate from Love. It is impossible to know this if our heart is closed by habits of unwillingness. The simple directness of Love, makes a closed heart is impermeable.

When defended habits bind the heart, we succumb to increasing levels of spiritual blindness. A classic “catch 22” situation can develop, whereby we defend our defences through constant (unconscious) habits — usually rooted in fear. We eventually become twisted in our denial habits — to the point where we will strike-out when the truth is spoken.

Many times in the Hebrew Bible ( Old Testament), “God’s people” are described as stiff-necked and/or hard-hearted. This is a story of the human condition. It is an eternal story. It is therefore a story that we cannot ignore. If we do, we do so at our own peril.  The myriad forms of global crisis are fueling a deep calling to live life from a higher dimension of conscious-relatedness.

It is profoundly humbling to recognize where we have become stiff-necked and hard-hearted.  But it is this same humility which grows our permeability — our willingness to be influenced by higher states of Consciousness.

The inter-permeability of higher states of Consciousness, makes it the only reliable path to recovering our true nature in God and in Love. Unless we experience the orchestration of  Love’s Intelligent movement within and between us, we remain stiff-necked and hard-hearted.

The defended ego likes to talk about surrender and humility, but until ego learns to be permeable, it will remain on the outside of Love. What does it take to permeate the hardened walls of a heart wounded by pride, shame, or fear? Like many, I have tried to “Love from the outside” by living up to ideals that I thought supported Love. But, ideals and concepts don’t permeate. They don’t foster the surrendered nature of the “permeable ego.” Only the permeable ego can be present in Love.

Love doesn’t need support. It needs our surrender. Surrender comes from being on the inside of Love, whereas support carries the dangerous illusion that we are somehow outside of love and able to orchestrate It! This is the primary trespass of ego-pride, and widespread in our Western culture. This creates spiritual blindness, especially within New Age spiritual movements and “liberated” Churches.

So what is to be done? What does freedom from our pride (stiff necks) and defense (hard-hearts) look like?  How do we find others who are truly interested in being transformed by Love, rather than discussing It as though it were some kind of object? How do we recognize the presence of such true Love within our relationships?

Somehow, we need to come together to practice a way of relating that is aligned with our True Nature. When we are able to be still within ourselves, we are in relationship with the Depth of Silence. This Depth is a place of undivided reality. It is not separate from the unmanifested or the manifested. The experience of this Oneness does not compute in the ordinary thinking mind with which most of us are heavily identified.

The courage it takes to be willing to practice relating from Depth cannot be overestimated. It is truly the most profound gift we can give to each other. The courage to recognize that we belong here together,  within an Intelligence of Universal Love, comes through the activation of the Permeable Heart.

The Permeable Heart is activated when we are willing to not-know. When we are more interested in discovery and inquiry then we are in defending a particular position. With time and practice, it is my experience and observation that this is when the heart begins to be permeable. We then see the world through softer eyes, which can take in the world through the heart’s compassion. It is not something we do, it is something we experience when we let go of “doing.”

It is with great delight that I have discovered my mind is also permeable! Drop by drop, like an IV-drip, the Universal Heart begins to enter and expand the personal heart-mind. Stiff-necked and hard-hearted habits begin to yield to higher influences.  We begin to truly live, and to live truly. We have become permeable to Love.

By Whose Authority?

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By whose authority do daffodils bloom?

By what magnificent hand do the soft petals of my heart respond?

One of the most challenging hurdles to spiritual transformation is the transition from “looking externally,” to “knowing (experiencing) internally.” Here, inside of that experience, there is no dogma or ideology to protect us from direct experience. The potential blossoming of our innate belonging to the whole (holiness) has space to bloom (know itself ).

When we are still, the heart has space to respond. Habits of self-concern recede. We step into a field of Consciousness that “transcends and includes” (Ken Wilber). In the Evolutionary Collective (evolutionarycollective.com) practices, we call this “being on the inside.”

Centuries of soiling Scripture with layers of dogma, has made it largely inaccessible as a “living word” (access point for direct experience). Secular groups who wish to connect “within wholeness” rather than “from conditioning,” are creating new languages to express their experiences of connection within and through Source. Scriptural phrases such as  “the kingdom of God” become “being on the inside.” Both describe something far more vast than the enmeshed conditioning of our separate selves.

I did not grow up going to church regularly, and my first exposure to Scripture came through a Bible study course at age 13. I literally “heard” Scripture through direct experience. The teacher and I continued to read Scripture together weekly, after all the other students withdrew. Each week, a golden Presence flooded the room — my body felt alive and resonant, I felt lifted and upheld, and unspeakably peaceful. Because of this profound experience,  I read the Bible each night for the next three years. How could I not? The mysterious “golden Presence” was a regular visitor. I felt at home and unafraid. At the time, nothing within me resisted it.

With no cultural or religious structure to help integrate this experience, being “on the inside” (of this vast intimacy), left me unable to ground it in everyday life.  Normal activities continued like a distant busyness around me, but my true life was on the inside of this magnificent field — appearing at night, and holding me through the day. I remember having no condemnation or judgement whatsoever — even though I knew my peers would not relate. It seemed that I was held “on the inside” of … something … more real than life.

Like many, I have learned to layer over such vulnerable openings to God/Spirit/Source. Perhaps because not doing so guaranteed becoming a cultural and/or religious “outcast.” Today, an overpowering impulse to share these words runs through me. We need to help each other remember. My deepest wish is to commune with others who also deeply wish to step beyond fear-filled habits of separateness. By engaging in this activity and exploration, we challenge the dark authority of collective and individual shadow, and its paradigm of suffering.

Relying solely on our private meditations and religious belief-paradigms cannot effectively challenge collective fear patterns. Our collective and individual shadows hide out behind unchallenged fear. From here, we resist making inroads into the shared mystery of our mutual belonging. Our only agenda is preserving the self that we have been conditioned to “think” we are.

Nonetheless, through courage and willingness, we practice dialoguing from within the truth of our inherent non-separation. Our pain becomes One pain, our Joy becomes One Joy. We slowly learn to relax and listen beyond our fear and its entourage of needs. The mind discovers alignment with the heart and its deepest Yearnings.

Internet is highlighting global teachers of this paradigm Consciousness shift. Last month, I was on a teleconference with spiritual teacher Thomas Hubl. Our number was 5,400 from around the world. I Skype weekly with a Korean woman. Her Yearning reflects my own. She calls me “sister.” She laughs at my un-integrated bits of “shadow” that surface. She cried with relief at recognizing the profound trust emerging between us.

Relating to another from within the wholeness of our being changes EVERYTHING. Where there once was mechanistic (i.e., unconscious) distancing, there is only the thrilling recognition of our awakened (liberated) hearts. There is no fear from this place of being “on the inside” or “within the Kingdom” because nothing stands outside of it. Because we choose to communicate from within the already-whole dimension of our being, false structures of authority — both internal and external — reveal their lack of substance.

Like Dorothy and her friends, we discover the Great Oz is a sham. We have been bowing to an external authority that only exists in our conditioned minds! Unchallenged fear has been the authority — collectively and personally. Our global crisis is its most visible manifestation.

But we continue to practice … together … because we have tasted the Divine within and between us. This field of mutuality carries the divine potential to birth “heaven on earth.” We are willing to be shaped, and orchestrated, by something unknowable and yet devastatingly intimate.

Relax and listen my friends. “Be Still and Know.” Something mysterious and wonderful is touching the soft petals of our hearts.

Namaste.

 

Backdoor Revelations

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Over time, the “letting go” nature of Silence Practice begins to yield “backdoor revelations.” And nothing quite prepares us for the immediate freshness of one of these transparent (open) moments. It is like discovering hidden treasures in the most unlikely places or times.

In the heightened mood of a backdoor revelation, we find ourselves in relationship to the world in radically different ways; while being more grounded and present than ever! Backdoor encounters have the paradoxical nature of being both simultaneously natural and new. While feeling deeply relaxed and at home, we also feel a sense of emergence. Something has awakened that I wasn’t aware of before.

Our absorbing frontal-self, with its accompanying world views and mental habits, leaves little space for emerging awarenesses. But through sincere and regular practices of stillness and authentic communication, we build awareness “sensitivities” within the body, and the subtle energy fields around us and between us. We learn to trust the process of leaning in to what we “don’t know,” rather than falling backwards into conditioned patterns of  already-knowing.  We do this on and off the cushion. We practice in every moment we remember. We don’t expect outcome, but we are resolute.

And yet … in the wake of a backdoor experience, we see that nothing prepares us for the vastness of that experience.  Because … a backdoor revelation takes everything we have previously “believed” about the “how-to’s, where-fores, and there-fore’s,” and turns them on their presumptuous heads. That is the simple purity of backdoor action — direct, uncomplicated, and impersonal. And did I mention devastatingly humbling?

Jesus spoke about the first being last and the last being first. He also spoke about the meek inheriting the earth. He never endorsed the known — the power structure — personally, culturally, or religiously. Backdoor revelations displace power structures in every life-facet. In many ways, Jesus’ subversive parables are reminiscent of a Crazy Wisdom teacher. He undermined cultural and religious structures almost constantly. If he were alive today, I am sure our narcissistic ideologies (secular,religious, and spiritual) would become targets for his sharp tongued uncompromising  commitment to Love.

Jesus also spoke of many being called, but few being chosen. I sense that there is a deep calling in many of us, and those “chosen” become servants to the unknown future-of-our- divine-becoming — however reluctantly that may manifest at times. (Even Jesus showed reluctance in the final hours of Gethsemane.) Servants of the not-yet-here future are pulled from familiar or recognizable paths and ways of living, into something far beyond their personal habits or “bucket list.” They are given something far more fulfilling, and yet infinitely more demanding.

The demand is for nothing less than everything. The parable of the rich man not being able to enter the kingdom of heaven addresses the reversal inherent in the backdoor landscape. Our Western tendency to live on steroids of self importance is living “richly.” This creates a certain psychic/emotional/intellectual “fatness” that removes us from direct relationship with Life. Over time, the practice of  “letting go” and choosing to align with stillness and silence, teaches us to travel lightly with our opinions, judgements, and fears — no matter how precious or founded.

The refining process of being “chosen” into servanthood, eventually means that we are available to listen more reliably from a holistic/deeper/higher dimension of Self. We become effective servants for the greater evolution of  God/Self Consciousness. We become increasingly able to see and act from beyond the slings and arrows of the personal dimension. For example, when we are offended, we refrain from throwing stones, and take 100% responsibility for what we are feeling. Moreover, we do this willingly because we know that our life — our True Life — depends upon it. As Crazy Wisdom teacher, Lee Lozowick (d. 2010) would say: “Practice like your hair’s on fire.” When we have nothing left to defend, everything can live through us. We are free to live fully engaged because nothing stands between us and the movement of life.

The evolution of consciousness into higher/more inclusive dimensions is a backdoor affair. Any knowing before hand, or intellectual prowess that might try to lead the way, needs to be released in the uncompromising rigour of backdoor revelations. The mystics paint images with their words, but they do not create very much for us to hang on to. At best, they leave a trace … a fragrance … that lingers long enough for us to realize that we’re being called by a divine reality — distant, but strangely familiar.

Backdoor Revelations might read like this:

1. We do the preparing, Grace does the choosing.

2. Backdoors are hidden when we lose ourselves to front door living only.

3. The backdoor revelation is the Truth of our Heart. We discover that we are home.

4. When we have “steeped” enough in Truth, only the backdoor exists.

5. Backyard discoveries “include,” no matter what habits of fear & judgement  “conclude.”

6. Shared Truth has always been stronger than Separate Suffering.

7. Backdoor realities are relaxing, uplifting, and aligning.

8. We are where we are going.

 

The Call of the Wild Heart

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Again, I was awakened this morning between 4:30 & 5:00 AM by the clarion call.  And again, I lay in bed for 45 minutes convincing myself that I needed more sleep. But sleep is impossible when the heart awakens. With this realization, I surrendered to the magnificent Beauty that seemed to be flowing from “my” heart centre.

Where does this come from? Who does it belong to? And what is it within me that could ever resist such Beauty? Choosing sleep over this? I find my body in a state of breathless  anticipation — like the delightful anticipation of meeting a lover, sensing that something is about to happen that is mysteriously beyond both of us. And so we lean in and make ourselves available … to the mystery. Beyond all common sense or reason: we trust in the unseen, in what has not yet fully shown itself.

I lean into the thrilling nature of this Wild Heart. My whole body feels awake.  The bottoms of my feet feel like they’ve been slapped. They vibrate and tingle. My thinking mind trys to make sense of the experience: “Not “my” heart, and yet it lives within my heart. How could it be my heart calling me beyond myself? A call going far beyond even my loftiest ‘ideas’ of enlightenment, and any self-constructed limitations of what is possible and real.”

The nature of the Wild Heart is untameable by religious tradition or secular culture.  It has a language and law all its own. Its wild unpredictability frightens me. The “me” that I identify with has no way to find its ground here. Niceties and norms fall flat. Father Thomas Keating refers to the “Divine Indwelling.”  This certainly resonates with what I am feeling. While it is not good to get stuck on definitions, it is important to name experiences.  Naming helps us grow in understanding because we are reasoning creatures. It helps us to integrate divine beauty through awareness. Like many, I have strong tendencies to claim divine experiences as my own.  To pump myself up with importance because I have “tasted” (“Taste and See that the Lord is Good” – Psalm 34:8). I have found this habit to be devastating to the alive relationship with the Wild Heart. Surrender is the only way, and then learning to listen.

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For the most part, I have let fear run my life.  Fear of being nobody, fear of not fitting in, fear of disapproval and being misunderstood. So I have turned away from the Wild Heart, the Divine Indwelling,  and the deadliest fear of all — I have claimed “Divine Tastes” as my own. But even while I have chosen to remain small and safe, throughout my life, people have continuously seen through my “straw-woman-smallness” and expressed their appreciation of who they “saw” me to be. And yet, for the most part, I have still defended against the beauty of the Wild Heart and its abundant gift of undefended freedom. Jesus taught from the Wild Heart. He also taught how to have relationship with it: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Mt. 10:39).

With 6 years of focus on the philosophy and practice of Silence behind me, habits of denial and fear are slowly weakening. I can feel it. Instead of shutting down with fear, I am simply being present with it. Such a simple practice, and yet with so much power. It seems that the Wild Heart has no problem with fear!

I am also discovering groups of people here, and around the world (internet is amazing), who are willing to learn to relate in ways that allow for the untameable Beauty, Truth, and Goodness to emerge within and between us. With time, we learn to operate from courage and trust, allowing us to bypass individual and collective fear patterns. We relax into ways of participating in something deeper/higher than the separate-self and its illusion of safety. Our willingness counts a lot. Our willingness to get out of bed at 5 AM and write a Blog Post. Our willingness to lose our life in the stillness, so that we can come alive in the Wild Beauty of the untamed Heart.

Namaste

Reflections of the Sun

The last full moon of summer

Photo by Dan Hicks 2014

Winter Solstice. Humanity’s ancient celebration of the Universality of the Sun. The recognition of which cultivates perceptions of our innate dependence, mutuality, and fragility.

Raised in a culture that idolizes the individual as a “separate-self,” this simple awareness can provoke squeamish discomfort. It has taken several years with a Bhakti (devotional) path and 6 years of dedication to the philosophy and practice of Silence, for transcendental glimpses — free from the “pervasive ivory tower of individuality” — to begin finding their place in (my) consciousness. Experiencing the Sun as belonging to everyone, but to no one individual, reflects the mystical descent from a primarily head (thought) orientation, to the inter-connectivity of the Universal Heart.

In his delightful book “Prophetic Imagination,” theologian and scholar Walter Brueggemann calls us forward to use our imagination and intuition to discover God.  He claims that such practices rescue us from habits of diminishment and disillusionment about God. If we cannot imagine (conceive of) that which exists beyond concepts (the world as we know it), we are unavailable for the transformative dance of divine relationship.

Imagine for a moment that the Sun represents the Godhead, Atman, the Creator, ultimate Reality …

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Now imagine the possibility that the essential nature of your heart is nothing less than a Sun reflector — like the moon doing what the moon does best. What would change? … What would come into focus? … What would fade from view? … Who would you understand yourself to be in relationship to life? … I am quite sure that John Lennon was exploring this possibility when he wrote “Imagine.”

What if we were able to practice communicating together in ways that called forth our essential “Sun” nature in God (by whatever name)? If we were present enough to relate through the “I-Thou” described in Martin Buber’s classic book. How would we experience life if our styles of relating could awaken experiences of life’s unfolding mystery, rather than reinforcing the already-known of “I-It” (Buber) relating?

I tasted the allure of this possibility during a Silence Practice group this series. While overhearing various triads of people express depth levels of understanding, feeling, and knowing with each other, I became aware of the remarkably similar comments coming from each group. Their words reflected universal truths — glorious threads of profound connectivity. It was like hearing “firsthand Scripture” through their mutual willingness to explore communication beyond personal paradigms of the known. The Universality of the Sun was being reflected, and the light in the room was palpable. Involuntarily, my body relaxed and my mind became still — available — attentive — receptive.

Practicing Sun-reflecting styles of communication sets the stage for new discoveries of inter-relatedness. Communication habits that have hidden our essential nature from each other, begin to recede as we choose to indulge them less and less. Our willingness to engage beyond egoic and cultural paradigms of the “conditioned and known,” puts us in touch with our “spiritual faculties” (Fr. Thomas Keating).

Spiritual faculties naturally reflect the light of our divine inheritance, making us receptive and permeable. When we “Taste and See” (Psalm 34:8) that we are not separate from truer/higher/deeper Source, a profoundly liberating shift in life-orientation occurs. “We” do not do it, but we can create environments more conducive to its emergence.

It seems too simple to believe that it only takes the willingness and courage of a few individuals to explore beyond mind habits and their corresponding emotional/psychological playlists. When we succumb to mind habits of judgement and objectification, we reduce our life and relationships to the “I-It” dimensions of fear and manipulation. The more wholly we relate, the more wholly we live, and visa versa. They are inseparable.

Through exposure to the shrapnel from familial, cultural, and karmic energy fields, we tend to be riddled with neurotic communication styles — a mixture of trying to reach out to the other, while securing an identified (i.e. safe) position.  We eventually lose sight of the possibility for clear and wholesome communication. And even if we glimpse it, we may feel a lack of permission to express such transparent vulnerability.

When a shared truth is liberated collectively, the sweet vulnerability  of mutual willingness is palpable…  A perfumed hint of divine promise fills our hearts and the space between us. Eyes water in recognition as profound levels of gratitude and humility sweep through consciousness. We have found our proper place as reflectors of the Light — the Whole — God.

Through Grace and mutual willingness, we create fields of love. We have met in  Rumi’s field “beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing.” When I have lost myself within it, I have to wonder why I would spend time anywhere else?

From one willing sun-reflecting heart to another, Namaste.

Steeping in Presence


photo 1by Laura Madsen 2014

Taking the time to steep ourselves in Divine Presence has always been an essential ingredient to realizing our authentic Spiritual Nature. In Bhakti (devotional) paths, the Sanskrit word “Rasa,” describes the emergence of God’s flavour, or juice, that can be found within the steeping. When we commit ourselves to exploring the still depth of Divine Yearning, we are following the ancient art of steeping in Presence. Historically, Presence has been given many names. Much more important than the name, is our willingness to steep again and again in It.

The dictionary defines the action of steeping as “extracting flavour” and “softening.” Steeping in Presence is like steeping tea.  In order to extract its flavour, we need to experience the heat (of Divine relationship) and give ourselves time to steep. Through our willingness, we soften into fresh ways of discovering Authentic Relationship to Life. The longer and more frequently we steep, the less relevant life’s abstractions become.

Without the recognition and experience of our inner Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, conscious or unconscious (fear-based) conditioning becomes our only recourse in relationship. And as Einstein so wisely said, we cannot solve a problem from the same thinking that created it. If we continue to respond to life from habits of the already-known, nothing substantial changes. Without steeping ourselves in the Presence of the not-already-known, we fail to “soften” into the recognition of the web of Unfathomable Inter-Connectivity that our life is an expression of.

In the Hindu tradition, it is Shakti who embodies Creation’s form, through the Divine Feminine. Shiva holds the formless nature of God, and delights in seeing the ever-evolving expressions of Life, through Shakti. In the direct experience of her Abundance, we enter a spiritual portal. We are now in the realm of the Mystic, having landed on the “inside” of an intimate encounter with Divine energy or Rasa.

220px-Manasa_DeviParvati as one of 50+ representations of Shakti

Twentieth century English Mystic, Evelyn Underhill stated: “In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience.”

When we have not experienced Presence, the authority and directness of someone speaking from Presence can be difficult to take. Jesus and Paul are both examples in the Christian tradition. Their speech appeared arrogant and assuming to many. When in fact — to this day — it remains truthful, straightforward, and liberating for those willing to hear.

The style of communication, and how we understand others, changes as we “steep together.”  It is vital to find “sangha,” or groups of people willing “to steep” in something beyond the (known) of egoic paradigms and socialized communication. Typically, relationships willing to steep in the vulnerability of  the “not-yet-known,” discover new flavours of Presence together. Mystic and theologian, Martin Buber wrote: “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” This is the essential expression of Silence Practice for the twenty-first century.

The unselfconscious depth of “steeped relationships,” have their hallmark in attributes of profound Trust and Good-Will. Unburdened by cultural and personal expectations — that usually reinforce the predictability of the known — these relationships experience freedom from hardened habits of fear and judgement. As the separative lens of perception softens, a dynamic abundance emerges in the space between us. Shakti comes alive in the essential creativity of Divine Relationship. An unmistakable flavour of freedom and joy abounds, as we learn to steep ourselves in a Presence much bigger than anything we’ve known. For me, this is nothing less than a living  expression of heaven on earth, and the embodied expression of our Faith in God.

Please do not “think twice” about commenting below!

Namaste, Laura

 

Eyes of the Heart

 

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Every once in a while the Eyes of my Heart open and it seems that I am exposed to a unitive reality that exists far beyond the reality that I have been living from. It is so vastly different that it can feel like a parallel Universe in a Science Fiction novel. To have this experience is both shattering and thrilling. Like waking up from a dream. The dream goes “poof,” and I am more “here” than ever.

Two years ago, near the end of an eight-week Silence Practice series, I asked everyone in the circle to share their reasons for practicing Silence. I listened intently to everyone: “making time for me,” “to have some time free of doing,” “to let go of mind identification,” etc., etc. I was listening so intensely that, at the end, when it came to my turn, I heard myself say “I practice Silence because I don’t know how to Love.” Quite something for the facilitator to say!

The penetrating truth of this statement has never left me. It seemed to send a “Truth” arrow into my Heart that I have not been able to dislodge. My mind argues in protest: “but you are loving,” “everyone has always told you so,” “look at what you have done in your career,” and “many people have come to you for help.” In the light of this deeper truth however, all of these thoughts are straw. They feel so insubstantial and anemic, that they no longer mean anything. I recognize in them a mechanically hard-wired drive to “be somebody.” Nothing more than that.

And in that desire to “be somebody,” I sadly recognize that I am forsaking who I really am at the Heart of me. I am forsaking who I am in God. I am forsaking the moment by moment opportunities to see through the Eyes of the Heart. I am missing out on an invitation to live a Sacred Life. I am saying “no” to being born into this Awakening.

When the Heart opens it as though a different world awakens. A soft connection exists between the Heart and Eyes. They become Mystical Eyes. Their focus is gentle, inclusive, transparent and receptive. They frequently become filled with gentle tears. Everything seems to slow down, and in that slowness, everything finds its place. Nothing is excluded. Nothing. It is not that thoughts and emotions disappear, so much has they stop moving about. They are simply seen with Eyes that can hold them. Likewise, with people and situations. The personal charge is gone. It seems that the Heart is sitting in the middle of all-of-It in a very steady place. And the Eyes of the Heart see where the eyes of the world cannot. They see through the Grace-filled lens of Trust and Faith.

I have had these experiences enough now that I am aware of a certain pattern of responsiveness in my body. It seems that my body remembers more easily how to surrender than my mind does. Like many of us who have grown accustomed to discussing spiritual ideas with the mind, I can easily overlay the body and the heart with “ideas” of unity consciousness. This literally suffocates the immediate awareness of the  experience of unity from within my heart and body. This subtle gesture of surrender is so simple and immediate that my mind can easily dismiss it as “not real.”

I have just completed a three day workshop in San Francisco with the Evolutionary Collective (Patricia Albere and Jeff Carreira). Many of the dyad exercises involved looking or gazing into another’s eyes for extended periods of time, and naming what we saw there through various directed exercises. I could feel my resistance quite strongly initially. But eventually I realized that our eye gazing was opening my heart in spite of my resistance! This is very good news. It became obvious that my separative thought-habits had been exposed and were making me uncomfortable.

The Awakened Heart is primarily an instrument of Connection. Only the heart knows how to bring Reason (the head) and Action (belly) together. Only the Awakened Heart can truly see with the Eyes of Love. And the Truth is whole. It can’t be dissected. The experiential flow of it cannot be made academic or hardened into doctrine. It is no more mine, than it is yours. It is Unitive because we experience being together within it. Through our sincere intention, we can feel the thrill of being within the Awakened Heart together. The glory of Love is made manifest in our Living together through a Reality that does not separate and divide.

I am the first to admit that this is an extremely challenging paradigm to describe. However, I also feel that if we are touched by it, we should honour it by trying to name it — in ourselves during experiences of deep Silence, in communion with others, through art, music, writing, etc.. It has been said that the eyes mirror the soul. After three days of eye gazing and authentic dialogue, I would say this is true experientially. When we can receive someone looking at us through the Eyes of the Heart, the hardened habit of separation loosens its grip. And within this spaciousness, Love simply shows up. And that changes everything.

If this blog post has moved you, please respond in the comments section below.

Namaste, Laura

 

Meeting Resistance


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Meeting Resistance

is always an interesting experience. Whether we experience that resistance within our own psyche and emotional makeup, or within the other. I have been studying resistance for a very long time. Mainly through self observation, because I am so very accomplished at it! I have made a very good subject for this study, and made it one of the five themes in my Silence Practice research thesis in 2010.

A new realization exploded within me around resistance during the final Tuesday of our Silence Practice group this spring. As is usually the case, a fresh experience is often a humbling one, as it brings new depths of understanding and compassion into awareness. The realization that “life,” and “my place in life,” are not what I had previously assumed, sends shock-waves of Reality through habits I have spent a lifetime endorsing: the need to be right, to compete, to know, to prove, to try harder, to judge and compare… etc. etc. I saw clearly that nearly every event in my life had become a stage for these conditioned patterns to re-enact themselves. From the more wholesome awareness of a spiritual awakening, these internalized patterns are simply seen as defensive  “habits of resistance,” and have nothing to do with who I am.

If these  habits/patterns are unchallenged, they can eventually run our life. They form the basis for decisions, conversations, and our social “glue” — what we hold to be real and important. For this reason, I have been expanding my explorations into silence practice to include the practice of dialoguing from a depth dimension. Not only experiencing it in our own private world of interior silence, but being able to live with and among others from this relaxed and trusting place — a place that is so pure and real, that our experience of it leaves us wanting to share it with everyone we meet. Evangelism however, never works!

I remember years ago hearing the story of the monk who lived in a cave for many many years. Upon his return to his nearby town, he met someone on the path who did something that annoyed him and he instantaneously struck out with verbal aggression. He displayed total intolerance for the very attributes he was likely seeking to avoid in himself, through isolation. So we need the “other” to expose the habits of resistance within ourselves. Anyone in an intimate relationship discovers the feeling of being “trapped” in something they don’t feel they signed up for! Our mutual habits of resistance have compounded to the point where they have taken over our relationship. Never a pleasant feeling.

So one has to ask oneself, what good silence practice or any meditation practice is on its own, in isolation? The traditional models of enlightenment are ones of retreat, so that one could “escape” the triggers of the conditioned self and the civilization that helped to produce it. In order to become a true agent of change for the world, we are challenged in two ways. One is to become increasingly aligned with (surrendered to) the depth of our autonomy in God — through Silence, stillness, and deep listening. And the other is to bring that direct contact alive within relationship (communion).

This combination of individual direct experience of depth and the struggle to birth it, is where many of us sit at the moment in our spiritual development. In order to awaken, many of us have “gone away” to India, to a group or cult, or secular and traditional belief-structures. But it is our alignment with the living expression of our Divine nature in the-moments-of-everyday-life where transformation occurs — personal and collective. It is our willingness to own and express our deepest knowing in a paradigm of mutuality that will change our lives in ways we could never have dreamed possible. In this, we are not evangelizing, teaching, or preaching. We are sharing in the mutual delight of knowing each other through depth, rather than through conditioned habits of fear and defence.

When we experience depth in relationship to the world around us, we taste Love’s true nature — which always gives Itself fully and completely in the moment. And if we are “doing good deeds” without the depth of wisdom and love, we are actually serving our own need to be needed. This can perpetuate a perceived lack within ourselves, and results in a constant state of agitation with our life.  We are always trying to find “our place” as special and different from others. Competition in any form is the antithesis of spiritual evolution. It is an old, albeit well rooted, paradigm that does not heal or transform.

As we learn to trust in Silence — and the revelations of our authentic heart — we begin to hear and experience something new. The arresting quality of this direct experience cuts through the never-ending agenda of our separate-self stories and belief systems — including those we hold around God. Until we begin to trust implicitly in the depths of who we are in God (rather than who we believe we are), we will be unable to surrender to the magnetic quality of stillness and Silence. It is a profound intelligence that awaits within the Silence of our own heart.

Our authentic dialogue is crucial to our collective emergence. I would appreciate your comments or questions in the comment section below. Namaste, Laura …