Recently I’ve been contemplating how and why it is that with all our spiritual maturity, self-awareness and earnest desire for true freedom, we might continue to betray ourselves for love, for money, for pleasure, for security, for image, for sex, for comfort, for success or for power?
Or why it is, if what we truly want is peace, we continue in an infatuation with drama, an attachment to there being something wrong, or a problem to fixate on? Or how it is we somehow remain subconsciously attached to being a victim of our circumstances; thus remaining powerless in our lives?
Is there any way you continually betray yourself?
Can you relate to this? Does it resonate?
And I’ve also been curious about what arises within us, if/when we are given the choice and chance to set ourselves free of these self-betraying tendencies? What excuses or reasons or defense mechanisms show up within us in the face of this dare to surrender our capacity to betray ourselves; to betray that which we most deeply want?
If I say to you: “Dear One, you can stop. However it is you are betraying yourself, your deepest, truest self– for power, for security, for comfort, for drama, for image, for love, for sex– right now: you can simply stop.” What comes up for you?
Relief and heartfelt willingness? Doubt and disbelief? Fear and anxiety? Stubborn resistance? Perhaps a story or belief that others are dependent on your self-betrayal, and if you stop, you will somehow let them down? Or maybe a feeling that you are too wounded, stuck, or otherwise unable to stop? Maybe a sense of being out of control, powerless, or addicted? That you are somehow a victim of this chronic choice; that you are trapped by it? Perhaps there is a dread of loneliness and isolation, if you were to truly stop? Or the fear of leading a loveless, joyless life? These are all places I’ve been at one point or another, and can compassionately relate to.
What is it that comes up within you? Check in with curiosity and see.
Whatever it is specifically for us individually, the common thread is a pull to comply with what we think life wants of us, or what we think we need of life, in order to be safe, happy, comfortable, successful or fulfilled; in order to feel loveable and worthy of peace and joy.
Some examples might be: “I need a relationship in order to be happy.” Or “I need to be free of this relationship in order to be happy.“ Or “I need more money in order to feel secure.” Or “I need to have sex in order to feel loved, beautiful, sexy or powerful.” “I need to work all the time in order to be successful.” “I need to feel intensely challenged or stressed out in order to feel truly alive.” “I need to meditate daily in order to be spiritually awake.” Etc…!
Are you willing to question any presumption you are making in this way? Are you willing to stop feeding the internal story that keeps self-betraying tendencies in place?
Dare we discover the vigilance to choose a single, one-pointed desire; to focus on the truest desire within us, that which all other desires are simply distorted versions of?
What is it you most deeply, truly want? Is it freedom, peace, truth, to know the deepest life fulfillment or divine love? What is it for you, really?
Dare we give everything to this truest desire? Dare we sit at the altar of our truest longing, refusing to move in any direction away from that flame of our truest, holiest desire? To allow that holy longing to take care of everything else? What if this is all we are given to, even if just for a day, an hour, a moment? What if even just for this instant, we turn and give everything to that desire, surrendering all the rest?
What happens then? What do you notice?
Yes, as human beings we have needs, real needs: to survive, to provide for our young, to put food on the table. As a single mama of two, I know this oh-so-very well. How do we honor the reality of our physical and economic needs, without being either paralyzed in fear or anxiety by them, nor purely led by them?
And yes, as human beings we have an inherent need for connection and love. How do we honor the vulnerability we live with, the sacred needs of the animal body– to be touched, to be held, to be intimately embraced? And how do we respectfully honor (rather than spiritually bypass) the ways in which we’ve been hurt, wounded, failed by life and love and relationship; undeniably impacted by the world around us and how our lives have unfolded until now?
As humans we are naturally drawn to evolution and expansion and participation in life. How do we honor the holy pulse of motivation, the drive to excel, to evolve, to contribute, from a place of freedom, rather than in compensation for some sense of inner deficiency? How do we respect the sacred inspiration which propels us towards ever-deepening empowerment and participation in the larger tapestry of human life, but from a place of wholeness?
How do we honor all these true human needs, wounds, desires, impulses, without being run by them? Without falling prey to the false sense that true fulfillment could ever come from food, from sex, from romance, from parenting, from money, from fame, from worldly success or power?
We pray for right relationship with all of life. We pray for truth, clarity, humility, maturity, discipline, discernment, dignity and integrity. We pray to know our own selves TO BE the very love we seek.
We pray that in our willingness to stop betraying ourselves for what we think we want, we become more fully connected with the deepest truth of what we want, and with the discovery of where this is to be found.
We pray that in our courageous handing of everything over to our truest desire, in this bold leap of faith, and by standing in the fire of knowing we want nothing more than we want this, we somehow become irresistible to Grace.
And then, by the light of Grace, we can simply see what has already, always been here: true, free and whole within us, absolutely un-needing of anything or anyone, to make it so. We might notice an emotional equanimity that is deeper than peace, and an inner light that is brighter than joy. We might notice clarity, buoyed in stillness. We might witness a compelling and mysterious force, simultaneously drawing our heart ever-more-deeply into its own majesty, while opening, ever-more widely out, into the vast capacity of its infinite callings and expressions.
We can choose, continuously, to be vigilant to this. We can choose to resist the temptation to betray ourselves; our tender beloved hearts and deep, wise, clear knowing. We can choose to give everything to our truest desire, and then see what this brings. May it be so!
Death is always with us; an inescapable promise that goes hand-in-hand with life. And yet there are times when the undeniable presence of death comes in closer than usual, making its reality acutely known and felt.
Whether it’s a death from heart-wrenching suicide, or after a long-battled physical illness, or due to a tragic accident, or as a sudden, unexpected surprise—there is nothing like Death Medicine to bring us intimately close to the mysterious, precarious edge of our aliveness. When death comes in close we notice our own precious, mortal breath pressed up against the holy, vast unknown. Death sends ripples out into the communities it impacts, making waves—through the hearts of loved ones, and then to everyone those lives touch. In this way, death boldly illuminates and accentuates the ever-changing web and field of life we blessedly share.
When death comes for someone we personally cherish, we are thrust into the incomparable life experience of grieving. In our grief, it is natural to fluctuate rapidly between extremely diverse perspectives. In one moment, we might revel in celebration of our beloved’s beauty, feeling nothing but humbled gratitude to have known such a miraculous love. And then in the next moment, we might get lost for a time in rage or sorrow—searching our soul for a way to reckon with a loss that feels wholly unacceptable. Sometimes we experience a bittersweet joy and relief upon the passing, knowing that the suffering their life may have included has been released. We are grateful to sense their human pain transmuted and transcended now; we imagine them flying free. At other times we would give anything just to have one more moment with the form of this one we so desperately miss.
When death comes close but not that close, we watch respectfully from the periphery those closest in to the loss. We let our hands rest upon our compassionate beating hearts—empathizing, bowing, sending love, sending prayers. We pray only that their tender, grieving hearts might just keep breaking open even wider into the love that holds it all.
When death comes in close enough not to devastate us, but still to touch us deeply, we think of everyone we love so dearly. We remember, at least for a moment, that all form is temporary and fleeting. We remember that along with the rest of life, we are present here, embodied like this in our world, only for the briefest of moments. We count our blessings, we give thanks for the aliveness of those closest to us, while soberly knowing it is truly only a matter of time before the circle of life returns us to whatever lies beyond this lifetime.
We look down at our own slowly aging hands, our own ever-changing bodies, still breathing, full of life for now. We pull our beloved children in close to us and breathe their scent deeply in, making a memory through active cherishing. We behold our lovers, our parents, our furry creatures, our dearest friends, and even those we do not know, and we see them through fresh eyes, taking in their light, their warmth, their utterly unique beauty.
With Death Medicine comes an awake and refined sense of presence in life. We remember to notice what it feels like as the soles of our feet touch the earth. As the sun kindly lifts our face to kiss us, we notice the sweet smell of flowers on the wind. When we’re dancing, we notice how much gravity loves us to lean in and taste it. We delight in each sunset, crescent moon, and starshine. We notice the hummingbird, resting for just a heartbeat, on the tiniest thread of branch. We wonder at the mysterious animating force that enlivens these bodies, arousing these senses, only for a time.
If we are lucky, we suddenly become present to the most essential questions:
What in this moment of my life, if anything, remains unlived?
What remains unspoken, unforgiven, unthanked, unsung, unloved?
What of my assignments remain incomplete?
We notice what we’ve been postponing, and we feel the sacred urge to leap. Upon deeper inquiry, perhaps we notice we are actually afraid of living and loving our lives the way we yearn to. And then, perhaps, we notice an even deeper fear: We fear missing out on our own lives; we fear dying an unlived life. What did we come to say, to give, to live, to serve? And what on earth are we waiting for?
When death comes in close, we notice that WE ARE ALIVE, and that we are literally surrounded by all of it: by the living and the dying and the dead. We cannot help but feel the sacred continuum in which we are a tiny yet essential link. We feel the poignancy of being led simultaneously by the light of our ancestors and the dreams of our unborn great-grandchildren.
When death comes in close, we notice that we truly love to live; to take our humble place in the great circle of life. And we confess quietly to our own hearts how vulnerable we feel in this love and this aliveness.
We pray for right relationship with all of life. We pray for clarity, humility, maturity, patience, discipline, dignity, and integrity. We pray for wisdom, empathy, truth, kindness, and compassion.
And then we bow to one another and to ourselves. We bow to this Death Medicine that never fails to shake our hearts wider open to life. We stand at the threshold of inevitable death, and we say to life: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Relationship, in all its many forms, is sacred, exquisite, essential, mysterious~ and oftentimes messy, troubled, loaded and charged.
Whether we are married or single, wishing to be free of a partnership that has run its course, or actively calling a partnership in; whether we are delightfully dating, waiting for love, or exhausted by the search; whether we are monogamous or polyamorous, happily or unhappily sexually active, desperately wishing for sex, simply and honestly disinterested in sex, or deliberately celibate; whether our parents are still alive or have passed, and whether we have children or are childless; whether we have a vast social network of friendships, peers, teachers, students, clients, healers, patients, bosses, co-workers or employees, or whether we find ourselves mostly alone, with very few people in our lives~ regardless, the opportunity in relationship, for all of us, is the same: to discover the deepest calling that all relationship is reflecting, revealing, invoking and inviting, and to be true to this call.
Relationship has something deeper for us than what we tend to look to it for.Deeper than needing anyone to give us anything, and deeper than our need to feel valuable to any other; deeper than our need to be loving, or feel we are loved; deeper than our yearning to feel seen and worthy and wanted; deeper than our desire to feel safe and connected, needing and needed, to hold and be held; deeper than our wish to feel powerful and successful; deeper than our longing to be met by another in the fullest way; deeper than our desire to be useful or talented, to be good, kind, helpful and caring; deeper than our wish to be sexy, juicy, attractive and exciting, desired and desirous; deeper than the fulfillment of bringing joy and pleasure, and deeper than our love for orgasm; deeper than the way we look to community, to who we know and who we want to know and be known by, fixating on our place in the herd; deeper than our want to be rescued and healed, to provide or be provided for; deeper than our resentment of others needs and expectations; deeper than our story of loneliness or martyrdom, fault or blame, stagnation, frustration, jealousy and possessiveness; deeper than our identification with all the roles we play~ as parents and children, husbands and wives, ex-husbands and ex-wives, lovers and healers, sisters and brothers, friends and companions, providers and teachers and students, presidents and CEO’s, assistants and servants, artists and seekers; deeper than our greatest suffering and greatest joy in relationship, there is a calling waiting to be discovered, that which ALL relationship, at the core, is in service of.
That calling is to discover the deepest Truth of who you are; who one is. In order to discover this, we have to exhaust, at least for one full instant, all the rest of what we look to relationship for. We have to be curious about what could possibly be deeper than all we engage in relationally. In this supreme discovery there is a possibility of realizing our own wholeness, our freedom and joy: simply in Being. There is a chance to come all the way home to this LOVE we are, and to discover in this, regardless of all relationship or lack of relationship, we are already beyond loveable and worthy, not for anything we do or give or take or transmit or deliver, and in spite of all our shortcomings, limitations and mistakes. We can discover we are already more than fulfilled and met, inside the vast embrace of our own exquisite love. We can come home to this if we choose, and rest with the Beloved within.
From this place, of not needing any relationship or role we play to give us anything, we can revel in the mysterious design which allows Oneself to show up as many, and bow with awe in the face of such truly wondrous, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, multi-talented and gifted forms of countless individuals incarnate! We can open to receive the great meeting that happens, through so many different relational flavors, and in this great diversity of roles we play. We can choose to meet Self to Self, wholeness to wholeness, heart to heart, consciousness to consciousness, love to love.
We can choose to rise to the occasion of the deliciousness, the exquisite sobriety, and the sacred responsibility of True Relationship; personal and impersonal, intimate, collective and universal, alongside our essential aloneness, and cherish our mysterious time together in form, in spirit, in life.
Then, oh then, a great opportunity for true relating arises, with all whom we meet. Nothing to get or be gotten; nothing to sell or be sold, nothing to want or be wanted for; love takes care of it all. Love takes care of it all.