Yin: Beloved Dark

While your eyes are closed, I want to invite you to let your whole body soften. Let your attention sink into your felt experience. You might take a few long breaths. Focusing on the exhale, just to let the whole body settle. And gentle. Noticing the weight of the body sinking into your chair, into the earth. Letting your root soften open to the earth, as much as it can. Letting your belly be fat. Inviting the solar plexus to soften with breath. The heart to soften. The hands. The face. Let every expression just droop off of your face. Just here. Softy. Letting breath travel around your body. Softening as it goes. Softening all around the things that are tight, letting them be here. Letting them float along in our soft pool of being. Little nuggets of tenseness floating in this soup of being. And this is the voice of yin. The voice that invites softening, the voice that invites sinking, the voice that invites receptivity, availability. The voice that calls us to soften and dissolve. Give into gravity.

In that dark privacy of having your eyes closed, I want to invite you to imagine that you are surrounded by the walls of a womb, so this darkness is a fluid inside of a womb and you float there. Nothing you have to do. Held in every direction by warmth, by protection, by space, receptive, love-filled space. And I invite you to imagine that you aren’t formed yet, that you are tiny. A tiny cord of light from your bellybutton to the heart of Holy yin at the center of everything, tracking you, tethering you. As you float in sweet, warm, dark. No harm, no harshness. Nothing to protect from. Nothing to do. And softening open.

When I first put my new baby into a bath in a candlelit room, she unfurled herself in the water. And so that’s my invitation: an unfurling, an uncurling, an unwinding. Like a fern unwinding. Like a flower blooming open, falling open, sinking open, softening. And whatever it is that you are experiencing in response to my words is just perfect. The words are meant to evoke your experience, not for you to have to completely mimic what I’m saying. Because the call to yin, the call to soften, the call to open, the call to melt into the unity of all things will potentially bring up arguments with that. And they are welcome. Fear is welcome. Tightening is welcome. Holding on is welcome. Numbness is welcome. These are all love’s children. All blessedly welcome to float in the same womb of being held.

I would invite you as you float there, to notice your weightlessness. To imagine warmth. To imagine a kind of attentive holding, not a left-alone holding, but an embracing holding. By an intelligent heart that knows you, blesses you. Stands sentry for you while you float and unfurl. Really letting every struggle be given over to this water. Everything you carry, for the moment allowing it to float. And I want to invite you to imagine that every cell in your tiny floating body has its mouth open, its heart open, its arms open, soaking up the ions of love in the fluid. You are in a brine, marinating in a brine of love pickling. Let the aliveness you feel in the flesh of your body be that charged water coming into your cells, blessing you. Just soaked. I invite you to soak. To even let the gentleness in my voice into your cells. Softening, softening, softening, softening, open.

Receiving. Like the ground receives the rain. Soaking. Like the open flower receives the sunlight. Soaking, absorbing, filling. Uncurling your tiny fingers.

Space. Water. Darkness. Dissolving, yielding, softening, gentling. Taking in Nourishment. Protected by this womb that surrounds you from anything that is not utterly nourishing and made just for you. Just for you, the temperature, the weightlessness, the size of the womb, the love that you are soaking in. For you. Tailored to you. So that there’s nothing you have to do, but absorb. And you might consider in your posture as you sit there or lie there to open your hands or tip back your face. Like let the body be as an open cup. And please be so tender, so patient with yourself, whatever experience you’re having. Slowness. Patience. Space. Abiding. Merging.

We lose touch with yin to the extent that our environment doesn’t nourish and feed us in just the right way. When we have to protect against things, when we have to lean out our effort further than what’s easy as young beings to get something that we need. We leave the yin rest. And we learn not to trust yin. When there’s no company to soften open again in our tears, in our trusting, we forget yin and we harden. And we create a kind of rigid strength, shielding ourselves, and pushing ourselves.

Yin is healing, deep, deep healing. The waters of yin, of rest, of death, of gravity, call us down and call us open. To be rocked, to be renewed, to rest. For some of us the closest we get to yin is exhaustion, and we will finally stop, and we will finally soften when we have run the active aspect of ourselves, until we run ourselves into the ground. And if you notice any exhaustion in your body right now, I want to invite you to really tune into it, the feel of heaviness. Let yourself not hold anything up. Let yourself really just float. A core part of what I teach is the restoration of yin, of being, of softening, of sinking to zero, to inactivity, to receptivity. And as much as I can talk about it, to talk to you from it, to talk to you from tenderness, to talk to you from stillness, to talk to you from resting, from dissolution, to me is far more instructive than anything we could read. That you could feel in your body a softening, a mercy, a warm touch of loving company, an invitation out of alienation into a sweet welcoming embrace that needs nothing from you. And that you could be energetically rocked in that.

We need to know that someone has our back, that someone has the door, that someone has the yang aspect covered so that we can soften open. We need to be able to lean into another being’s energy, whether it’s a tree or a human being, and feel that place where we feel weak, feel soft, feel like a flower petal, like a slender waif, to lean into something solid. And I would invite you to feel the walls of this womb solid, solid for you. So that you are not going to be dropped, you are not going to be poked, you are not going to be left, you are not going to be forgotten, but held in such conscious, deep, tender regard. Love it.

There is a sweetness to softening, to tenderizing. A relaxation, this is in a way, the first level of coming out of a grip, coming out of an over-yang position of rigidity and over-activity. And just to ease the system to soften is no small thing in this culture. Sometimes we need help: massage, cranial-sacral, being floated in a hot spring, a cozy bed, a heavy fuzzy cat, someone to hold us, a conscious, sinking our felt experience into every inch of our bodies. Tears soften, shaking the fear out of the body softens. And this act, that is bodily, to soften, can be reflected inside, and the physical act of softening is just a metaphor for the entire apparatus of the human doing to soften open into being. To soften and dissolve in unity, in our mother so to speak. And as we soften,

deeper and deeper, I invite you to soften your organs. Invite your organs to soften, your heart, your liver, your stomach, your intestines, your kidneys. Let them all soften. Our body becomes energetically porous. And then the exchange with the energies we are surrounded by can resume. The Holy can find us and soak our bodies in Love. You can even picture each of your organs being rocked in the arms of a Beloved. Your heart rocked and sung to, your belly, to soften out of the grip of fear and harshness into a reflection of Beloved-ness, of preciousness.

We need yang, we need strength, we need the capacity to act and to move. To stand for things. But we need that to grow out of this yin base, the ground of being. So that when yang is gathered up, it’s gathered up like sparkling energies from the roots of a tree, rising from this great ground of being, tiny roots through the whole body collecting Divine energy, so that it might travel up the roots into our bodies and express itself as clear, zeroed action. And I hesitate to even talk much about that because we have so much overdue yin homework. So much softening to do, so much uncurling to do. So much finding the ground, finding safety, finding what’s dependable, finding what’s simple, finding zero. Reclaiming being.

Yin by nature is utterly present. The minute that our attention moves ahead of just here, the body starts to tighten. Something starts to assert itself and tighten. And so in this softening, in this call to return here, soft, open, I am calling you to yin. I am calling you to dissolve in this amniotic fluid of the Beloved that you are surrounded by. To give yourself back, to return whatever you have built, whatever you think you are, whatever has formed, to the dissolving sweetness of this darkness.

Some of you have heard this story and some of you have not. It’s a yin dream that I had, and it was clearly for all of us. I was in the basement of, some of you know Tecumseh, in the dream I was in the basement of her house where I have given some events. I was in a room that was black, pitch black. And I was meditating so to speak. I was dissolved in this blackness. I was sitting in stillness with my eyes open just dissolved in this luminous beautiful darkness, floating, no thought to any action, just dissolved and blissful. And I heard Tecumseh up on the landing. There was a landing halfway up to the upstairs in this dream, and she was there with a professor and his wife, who were very dear to her. They were old and wise, very dear to her. And my love for her had me leave the darkness to meet these people. She wanted me to meet these people and so I started to ascend the stairs, my eyes still focused as though in the dark. And so I couldn’t see, all I could see was darkness. My pupils were so dilated and I was still looking into that beautiful dark as I walked.

And as I walked up the stairs I thought, “Well, surely my eyes will become accustomed to the light, so that when I meet them, there is someone-ness here to meet them. I will be able to see them. I will have enough of an active principle to meet them.” But as I went up the stairs, my pupils didn’t narrow. They stayed absolutely widely dilated. I stayed absolutely blind, just looking into the darkness. Utterly receptive. Not even the yang of a personhood, not even the yang of sight. I couldn’t see outward. Just this huge, my eyes were like a huge threshold into the dark, and this is how I met these people at the landing. I met them, I held their hands. They could look into me. I was darkness, I could not look out. I was looking into darkness.
And there was a sense in the dream, and it is my experience that, it’s time for this level of receptivity, of blissful dissolution in the dark Beloved. It is time for it to re-enter from the basement up to the landing where the front door is, to meet people as no one, as nothing, as darkness, as utter receptivity.

And the only thing that helps us to feel strong enough, protected enough, safe enough to show ourselves in this yin, is the Holy, is the embodiment of the Holy, is the reclaiming of Holy ground, of Holy breath, of Holy love infiltrating every cell of the body, to return to the places that are crying out in us, and to bring the Holy’s tenderness there. Whether we borrow another being or a tree to seek out every tight fist that lives inside of us and let it feel ground and let it feel warmth and let it feel a regard that lets it know it’s precious, it’s safe, it’s wanted, it’s lovely, it’s alright. It’s alright to come out.

And yin has this beautiful capacity to tailor itself to the needs of a particular moment, a particular creature in a particular moment. And so this is the beauty of the healing property of yin is that it will leave nothing behind. It will require nothing to leap over or out of its developmental cocoon or womb until it’s fully formed and drops out on its own accord. This deep, deep, organic wisdom is the domain of yin. So that everything is seen without judgment, whether it’s just born on wobbly legs, learning and loud, and extra awkward in its teenagerhood, fully formed, aging, rotting, falling to the ground, or utterly still as a seed.

Yin and yang are meant to be dancing, like they are in that beautiful Asian image of the black Yin and the white Yang, with an eye of each other’s color, spinning. But first yin. First Yin. When a being is born, it’s first yin. For nine months, it rests in dark liquid, resting, resting, being. Not a single active thing required of it. First yin. And for any of the places that we want to reclaim our strength or our capacities, first yin. We fall to the ground, we find our ground there, our no-one-ness there. We’re rocked and dissolved, and allowed simply to be. So that things can be birthed through us and strengthened through us.

Yin absolutely needs her partner yang in a human being. Because we have not had a balance or been held in a balance, our beautiful receptivity feels like something that we can’t show. And instead of an active, empowered, charged, alive and nourished receptivity, instead we have passivity or we have exhaustion. And then instead of a beautiful strength that serves this deep knowing and this deep being and this deep surrender and connectedness, we have fear-based action, we have action that preempts this beautiful organic flow of things. And we have a rigidity inside of our bodies in the place of strength. I want to invite you as you soften here to keep sinking and if you notice any place that’s numb, any place that’s held tightly, I want to invite you to surround it with an imaginary womb. Surround it with tender, dark, holding embrace. Let it float there as it is. No harm.

I had a meeting today with someone who wants me to take on a certain role in relation to a conference and co-facilitate with someone who I don’t know, who’s a man. I am percolating on this invitation. But in speaking what rose for me there, there was this beautiful exposition about how yin requires protection and authority granted to her for her gifts to be given. And part of the maturing of yin, because at first yin is something that has no words, it’s something that we are barely aware of because in our culture it’s largely, we’re largely encouraged away from it and so we can have gut feelings, we can hear someone else speak something and say, “Yes, that’s it!” But when yin is newborn or young, it doesn’t have words yet. And this way that words come to yin and it starts to become conscious and able to be expressed, is a really vital part of stepping into an integrated being here.

And in most situations, I notice in the yin aspect of my role, a container is set. A yang container is set for the yin to appear, and the yin to open, and the yin to download its energy from a kind of open portal to the whole. So if you could imagine the pupil of an eye or the heart of a flower opening, opening, opening, being this utter soft portal and sweetness pouring through there. That power, it’s a raw power, the raw power of life. It’s the raw power of love. It’s deeply Transformational. It’s deeply challenging for beings who are frightened of the gap. If it is not carried with a kind of an awareness and a respect and a wisdom, imbalances, harm, disruptions can occur. To open the high beams in an environment where that hasn’t been invited, either explicitly or energetically, is potentially to drop a catalyst into an unpredictable wilderness. So I notice that the way that yin moves here is that it has a certain requirement of containment in order to even bother. And many of you can see the various aspects of containment that are involved in this work. The way that we quiet ourselves at the beginning of things, the way that there’s a guided meditation to invite people to soften. The way that these things aren’t drop-in, and they aren’t open to anyone, and they have a certain start time —this is all to create a cup within which yin can be glorified for all of us, to come through all of us as portals.

And so it was very sweet to be of this age…when I was 25, I didn’t really know what yin was. When I was 35 I had some ideas. In my younger life, I might not have been able to say, “If you would like me to show up in this kind of role, I need to know that I have the authority, the respect, the support, to lead from the heart of softness.” Because the heart of softness does not compete with loud things. It does not argue with arguments. It simply will fold up its circus tent and go where it’s invited. And this is why the heart of spirituality is a heart of surrendering, not a heart of accomplishing. That in its essence, being is yin.

(Pause.) It wanted me to pause for itself there so it could assert its yin-ness. You see if we don’t have a bit of awareness about the beauty of yin, we will miss the way that it peeks out of the cave and spills its light. If we are looking for objects, if we are looking for discrete things, for actions, for content, for stuff, for reference points, we will miss the energetic, quiet revealing of yin in a child’s face, in a loved one who is about to tell us something vulnerable. In a quiet moment.

I remember my daughter when she was young, her most wise utterances would be preceded by a kind of a yin silence. You could feel the energy of it. She got very quiet, she got very sparkly and deep in her eyes, and there would be this quiet. Like you would want to whisper. You would know that church was starting. And then she would say something from that depth, as though it was just born from the depths. And the earth needs beings who can feel, see, know, and embody yin, being, the vibration of things, the sea of things. Even before things are born they arrive as energies. And when we are softened open, we can feel these energies and we can step into them, step away from them, direct them, redirect them for the good of the whole.

The whole way that I teach, I should say the whole way that I speak because there are yang aspects to this teaching. But the whole way that I speak, that I deliver through this portal of my being something for us, is yin. I have no preconceived thought. I give everything that I am to the dissolving waters of the moment, allow it to reclaim every cell of this body. Turn it into a soft, open, downloading station and if it has nothing for me, if it has no words, so be it, no words. If it has outrageous words, so be it, outrageous words. If it takes an hour to give birth to the beauty that it has prepared, so be it. And what’s beautiful is that in between the bits of content and actually sewn throughout, but in between when there is a pause, the dark looks out. The dark invites you into your own depth. The dark invites the things that are scared of the dark to talk to it, to cry to it, to be seen, and embraced and welcomed back.

I would invite you, if you like, to gaze at me with your eyes looking into my eyes. But I want to invite you to have your felt experience be paramount so that your eyes are soft and relaxed and your attention is buried in your felt experience. What happens then is that it invites the eyes to be receptive, to receive. So you can feel your breath, your weight, the vibration in the body. And let the eyes be soft, let them not be focused hard, but just kind of receiving. Imagine the world falling into your eyes, falling into your heart, and let my words fall into your heart. Let this energy fall into you. This way we meet each other as being, as emissaries, wide, open portals of the Beloved’s love. This is to me the most beautiful thing about yin. The dark, yielding openness charged with love. Anything that’s brought before it is blessed. And you can play with grounding, feeling weight, feeling your feet on the floor, opening your root. Softening the body. It’s sweet here because I’m just on a screen, and so it’s all the more safe. For just simply being in the privacy of your own nest there where you are, letting the body soften and if it’s numb or if it’s tight, just bring some womb to it. Soften all around it. Let it be here. We have been terrorized, many of us have been brutalized and terrorized in this softest of places. Softening. Being here together. No harm. Warmth. Embrace. Invitation. Goodness. Love. Quiet.

What if our planet, and the planets of our solar system, and all of the stars and the planets that we can see, are held in a dark womb? I would invite you again to picture every cell in your body like a mouth or an open hand, drinking, drinking the quiet, drinking the tenderness. And I would invite you to use my eyes with anything in you that has forgotten that it’s precious. Let it look at me. Let it look at me in the safety of your own nest. Let it show itself with only tenderness to greet it. And feel free if you are just rocking the dark yin right now to just join me here. That we would be a single field of invitation and embrace to whatever has hidden, whatever has been banished. Among us and among anyone who is called to utilize this energy, this energy of loving emptiness to reveal itself, welcome. Welcome to the dark, deep, womb heart of the Beloved: travelers, aliens, derelicts, homeless, desperate, in pain, terrified, agonized, stalked, raw, helpless.

From the heart of the universe, there, there, precious children. We are all her children.


[A response from Jeannie to a question about responsibility, being and acting, with regard to the world and the people in it.]

Being with felt experience begins to tend the ground of surrendering to Being, which is yin, receptive, still, just here. Out of Being rises true yang, holy impulse, integrous-with-Being action, without stress and effort, without “you” doing it. These impulses are clean, clear, simple, effortless and beyond reason. It is the Holy moving as us, the Holy dancing as us.

The beautiful thing about being wrecked is that the doer who thinks she can do it all perfectly and well and save the day, avert disaster, starts to be undermined. We become sick to death of being the tool of fear and conditioning – we can’t stomach it any more. From there, entirely humbled and on the ground in stillness, in Being, we listen at the mouth of the cave for what impulses come, and feel into the motivational ground of those impulses. We develop a taste for the True, a willingness to feel through whatever we have to in order that our system be cleaned of the dross and become simple, clear and able to hear and taste the resonance of the Holy and of true action.

One of the biggest pieces of dross for those of us with hearts that want to help is to reckon with the world as it is, with the pain that’s here—the model of this is the sacred heart of Jesus, as he looks on from Being, still, and immeasurably tender. Because we carry this unplumbed heartbreak, because we carry this unmet terror, of our own trauma and pain, discerning the holy impulse and right action in the moment can be difficult, blurred by our own fear, unexpressed heartbreak and over-responsibility as we look out at the pain in the world around us.

Desperation rises. Pain rises. Heartbreak rises. It’s too much! Save them! This must all be felt through to the bottom, until we are wrecked, and we look out and only see what Love asks of us. How Love/Holy wants us to move. And it’s not what the everyday mind says. Sometimes it’s not at all what we “think” is proper or loving.

So what do we do when we are in a position of responsibility? Our best. We do our best to feel what’s lurking in the wings and beneath our pulls from fear and control, the heartbreak, the grief, the fear, the concern to be the bad one, the blamed one, the neglectful one, the harmful one. We become willing to be whatever “one” is necessary to be obedient. Sometimes we can’t feel through all that there is to feel that obscures our right action, that distorts our view of what’s happening, that confuses our minds and makes our hearts ache. And then we do our best.

The everyday mind is not necessary in matters of responsibility and discerning right action. It’s much more a heart question. It’s much more a question of if we are trying to stand in for God because somewhere long ago we decided God wasn’t qualified to hold the world, we had to help Her, or if we have come to that great reckoning that humbles us into handing the world back to God and simply feeling through what there is to feel through and doing our best.

There is a great paradox in here and a requirement to do a lot of fine discerning to tell, what is ours to do? What does Holy will want of us? And what is painful but not ours to do, ours to hand back, ours to grieve, let go of and be humbled before the great and mind-blowing movements of life that we cannot understand?

Can We Get It Together?

[From the Jamboree 2011, a 6-day experimental love community retreat in the woods – from a talk on interdependence, which was one of the focuses of this retreat…]

I’m noticing, with this small group and our intention this week, that I’m not tending to start until everyone is here because I feel and love and value our woven-in-ness. To move out of separation would be to say, screw those guys, I’m starting. Natural interdependence is the way of creation. This interdependence is something that many of us have turned away from and protected from, because when we acknowledge our oneness, our weaving into each other, it hurts when one acts as though the others are not vital. Where we are hurt and operating out of separation, we drop each other on our heads, we bail on interdependence and go it alone. We don’t even notice the interdependence any more – it’s as if we actually ARE alone. When we start to open to interdependence, it feels vulnerable, it feels like needing, and most of us have a lot of conditioning and pain around that. To come screaming back into the weave we have to feel things, the things that originally caused us to distract from and pretend that the weave was not real. It is a necessary initiation, to burn through those places of conditioning, in order to soften open to this weave, this web of interdependence, this field.

Within conditioning when we open to and acknowledge this beautiful yin of interdependence, we feel what we call “needy” and many of us go get therapy for it. This is an absolutely beautiful place, to be woven in, to be open to interrelatedness. To be open to the ache where something needed can say “No, doesn’t matter to me to help” and turn its back. We call this openness vulnerability, and yet it is the way creation operates, absolutely interdependently, and to turn our backs on that creates what we have in the world now. Every man for himself, so to speak.

I’m talking about oneness. I’m talking about living from the fact of oneness. We have a little bit of a head start here on most of the rest of our world, which will sail its boat of separation all the way to the brink of death. Most will.

I invite everyone to consider, even if you don’t know what it means or what it applies to, “I can’t do it alone.” You can be talking about a very tiny “it” or a very huge “it” — the bigger the vision, the bigger the “it” you can’t do alone. Just consider that. And anything you’ve erected in the way of that fact. The beauty of Love! And the sadness of having had to turn away from it. We narrow and narrow and narrow our vision until we find something we can do alone, some way we can be here without that burn of need, and our lives shrink. Forget feeding the hungry, forget keeping the planet healthy, forget moving outside of our conditioned bubble. Let’s just have a tiny little track we can run around in circles in and call it our lives because we can do that alone.

It’s kryptonite to the “me” to need. Separation’s days are numbered when we admit that. And until life brings us to our knees, we’re reticent. We don’t want to. And yet, we are entirely dependent, at the mercy of, the Beloved. If we could paint a picture of an embodied reality, step one: need. Interdependent. That’s how this whole thing was created, beautifully interdependent, oneness!

Can we get it together? Can we operate from something besides separation and fear? Not without a price, the price being “me” and “my” comfort, and “me” doing it “my” way. Want to come? I’m not going without you. We don’t know how, we’re not good at it yet, it hurts, we’re confused, and still, we have to come.

Rest as the Offering

We rest as the offering, we rest as the emptying, we rest as the simplicity that arises before this everyday mind that has been so conditioned to think it’s the one that will move us forward. This rest can feel like resting for eternity—there’s a quality of being in a waiting room, or waiting for a friend, or tending to someone who is sick, you’re just available. This is a different movement than what the mind likes to do, swooping down and trying to connect the dots itself. So rest on this throne of not knowing at the edge of the vastness and let yourself be fed by that.

The Unknown

When we slip out of the known, into a little gap, we oftentimes feel great discomfort. Let’s say in the middle of daydreaming in class, the teacher calls on you and you have no idea what they are talking about. There’s a gap of “I don’t know,” and a kind of terror that can rise. I should have something to show for myself! What if I’m speaking in front of a group and I don’t know what to say? Oh no! Toddlers seem to survive this all the time as they gaze at each other, taking up space for long periods of time, just there, without content. Despite the fact that there is generally no imminent threat to survival, we are terrified of this gap of “I don’t know,” this moment when we might feel that we don’t have our ducks in a row, when we don’t know what’s going on.

The place we call not knowing is only not knowing from the everyday mind’s perspective — from the perspective of being, it is simply life in the moment. This sort of gap is an entry point into the land of presence, hanging outside the reference points that thought offers to soothe our fear. Here there is so much depth and sweetness–this is what we like about events that are saturated in presence–we can feel the energy of the gap. Spiritual energy pours toward us all the time here, from every corner of the moment. The ground emits spiritual energy, the sky, the trees, the hum of bees, the songs of birds, and the bodies of other human beings, even our own body, to the extent that our bodies are grounded, softened and open to the moment. Conditioning closes us to this openness, trains us to hold ourselves in a certain way, and to keep ourselves focused on the track of becoming, of going somewhere.

We can tend to look at spirituality in a linear way–we’re waiting for that moment where something brilliant happens and everything is blinding white light. If I can get there to that experience, then bliss will occur ever after. The reference-point-less gap, is here now. You are floating in it, floating as it, surrounded, penetrated and absorbed. Most of us are humming in our little energetic hamster wheels within this deep ocean of silence and things as they are. The tiniest, mundane moment, where you find yourself lost in the city or late for your plane or at a loss for what choice to make or freshly waking in an unfamiliar hotel room, contains the deep gift of sudden disorientation.

Usually some kind of fear or mad scrambling will kick in right away to soothe yourself back to the mentally known and understandable. The push from conditioning is so strong to handle that thing, to figure it out, to nail it and move on. I invite you at those times to give yourself a few moments to let yourself rest out of a conceptual context in the pure being there of the moment, sinking attention into your senses and noticing that no harm is coming. I invite you to linger in the places where disorientation enters, and to let the body notice that no harm is coming to it, that to rest in the gap between worlds is actually just fine, and not a threat to survival.

As the creature builds a capacity for resting in the clueless moment without scrambling to a reference point, as it discovers the sweetness and ground of resting outside of the mentally known, your capacity to rest in presence deepens, for it is the fear that lives in the creature, supported by the ancient strategy of soothing oneself with reference points, that drags us again and again out of resting open in being. So please, hang in cluelessness just a little minute, letting this tremendous gap get a hold of you.

That’s my invitation to you in everyday life, as you’re bopping around, with each surprise, with each challenge, with each place you are thrown off your groove into the awkward moment — instead of working hard to get a better handle on things, hang there without a strategy or even knowing what to do. Let yourself for a moment live in this gap and look out of the eyes of this gap, giving the creature of the body a chance to acclimate to the fact that nothing needs to go any certain way for things to be just fine.

One Good Shake of the Hips!

When you get to the point where the delusion is really starting to fit tight on you, that’s when you start looking for another way. We can’t sway in church. We can’t sing a song. Lord! Someone might look at us. Someone might be embarrassed and then mad and then not like us. So, is your freedom and your own heart more important to you than anything? Because unless or until it’s the most important thing, you’re gonna keep straddling both worlds and have quasi, half-way-out-the-birth-canal suffering, as you ignore the place that you don’t dare dive into. And here’s your opportunity, right in church, there’s the impulse – sway. Holiness, the expression of what we are, is no further than right in this moment, this body, this impulse. We don’t have to read a spiritual book to know that we feel like shaking our hips, you know? A good shake of the hips is worth ten of those books.

The Mystery of What’s Here

Have you ever fought with reality? Consider a day where things didn’t go your way. You’re running late, you open the fridge to grab something and that something spills all over your shirt. You get into the car and there’s only traffic and red lights. Each apparent obstacle piling up in a heap of “this shouldn’t be the way it is!” I shouldn’t be late, I shouldn’t be wearing a shirt with stains, there shouldn’t be traffic. This is the innocent yet delusional habit of the mind to carry an idea about how things should be and then go to war with things as they are. It’s as if we say to the Holy, “Your world is screwed up, it’s not going my way. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with this world? It’s not conforming to my idea of ease and rightness.” We sit in a puffed up prideful place of “I actually know better than all that is how things should be going.” What usually follows is “And I’m going to attempt to bend things to this tiny will.” And as nothing bends to suit you, it’s painful.

There’s a move in there that’s kind of like breaking one’s own back, or like laying down, that says: “Alright. I have salad dressing on my blouse. Alright, I’m 10 minutes late and getting later. Alright traffic. Alright.” What has to die then? The one who is neat, the one who is on time, the one who is respectable, right, in control. To return to things as they are is a great reckoning as we break down all those ‘it should be different’ places and we fall to the ground in humility, fall to the ground of things as they are. Reality as it is, is constantly inviting us out of identification through the reminder of pain.

And we don’t have control over letting go either; we cannot will surrender. It’s an invitation for humility that even inside our own bodies, we can’t make it go the way we want it to go. This is not a mistake; it’s supposed to hurt to fight reality. Delusion hurts. And the delusion that we’re actually in charge hurts. To fight the nature of things sends us right into noticing how helpless we are. And helpless is exactly the relationship between something that’s convinced it’s separate and the Whole. The small self IS helpless.

This great reckoning is like a great undoing, an undoing of delusion and illusion – and we fight it! It is a sanding down to the ground, a cleaning out, a purification. When it has really begun to take us over, we can spend time in a stunned place, all of our coping strategies taken from us if we’re lucky. We enter a clueless place, maybe a dark place, and we’re being remade. We don’t yet know how to hold that beautiful instrument of our heart and actually play it, we’ve been focused on coping for so long. And now it’s handed to us in the dark.

To be prepared to sing the holy song we’ve come here to sing, we have to be entirely emptied out so that our flute is so clear, so empty, so offered, so filled with nothing, that the beautiful breath of God can blow through it and there’s not a single distortion. Just a wide open portal that’s done fighting for its own way, done fighting for how it thinks it should be, or how it learned it should be, how it read things should be or how its friends say it should be.

So maybe we can enter into the mystery of what’s here. Maybe we can stop calling what-is names because it doesn’t fit into the stale brainwashed menu in our heads. Things as they are, are just as they are meant to be. Every moment and every flavor of every moment, a gift straight from the Holy, the Holy’s touch on your face. We can be so nothing that no matter what shows up we can say, “Thank you, sweetheart, Holiness, for another moment. Another chance to serve you, to serve the glory of this love that you are and that I am.”

Love and Piercing

There’s an experience out of time when the heart is moved and it has nothing to do with any action or any potential relationship on earth. It’s not earthly. Suddenly in a moment we see someone’s beauty and pow! There’s that bowing. I think of Teresa of Avila when the angel comes and pierces her with an arrow. It’s like a swoon. When you’re at the height of devotional singing and it’s just too much, so you go, “Ohhhhh!” It’s like breaking open to something way beyond what’s here on earth. There’s a lot that comes when we see and are inspired in that way by another human being. It’s like a cookpot, like stew that has all these ingredients.

The first thing is the leaping of the heart, the “Ohhhh!”. Before it hits the mind, and invokes the fears, the desires and everything else, there’s that pure “Ohhhh!” And it is devoid of self. There is no “me” in it. It’s just, “Ohhhh!” And the beauty of marinating in that is that the hands are off it, the mind is off it, it is a naked on-your-knees swoon to the Beloved. Now that alone, you could just park your jeep there and have a picnic, you know? Ahhhhh. What pours through the door to the other world into this one in that experience beautifies, purifies, humbles.

It can be uncomfortable to stay there. We can feel young, stupid, caught, get-able, foolish. It can feel unbearable to be that naked before Love. So I want a pause here for that. I want to say, “Ohhhh! That!” That is beautiful in another-worldly way that does not connect with anything in your so-called life. It’s an experience of the ineffable. It’s an experience of piercing!

We can, if we’re lucky in a moment, allow ourselves that, allow ourselves to be taken by that, razed by that, ravaged by that. And as it comes and meets our instrument, boy is that a meaty place! ‘Cause here comes desire, here comes fear, here comes self-loathing. Here comes wanting to hide. Here comes wanting to grab. Here comes wanting to find out, find some reference points, nail it down so we don’t have to feel so exposed! Like, hi, here I am, and here’s my mess. How’s it going, duh? Do you like me? Do you want me? Please?

If we can stay with our paws off, attempting to nail things down, and instead stay in the unknown, what a cookpot, to not try to push the love away, manage it, master it, explain it, say “Oh no, she has a husband! So I don’t have to bother being open to that door.” Or, “Oh no, he’s 50 years older than me.” Or, “Oh forget about it, I’m too ugly for her.” You see all the little doors we escape out of to nail a reference point and get safe from that feeling of, “Holy shit!” instead of allowing ourselves to burn in the fire of that. So to unleash your heart in the world, this realm of utter devastation, utter ravaging, utter beholding and being rendered completely dopey, becomes your home. You are perpetually caught in being dumbstruck by beauty and love.

Let Yourself Be Rocked

For this little while, I want to invite you to drop into your felt experience and let yourself float in the unknown. Let even the idea of yourself as a person be suspended for now, and look in a felt way into your experience. Let everything be exactly as it is, and touch with your attention the simple quality of sensation. Return again and again simply to feeling, becoming curious and letting awareness play through this sensational field. Let this curiosity express itself in a felt way with the exploration, “What is it like here, in this moment?”

Feel the body come alive wherever awareness lands and in this noticing let the body relax and open. The body can just let itself be here, feel open, and not have to fend anything off—profound receptivity–feeling or imagining the light of the Holy vibrating in every sensation. Let yourself be radiated by that, opening and softening and giving yourself such a deep break from what you call your life. Be here as this simple breath, this vibrating sensation, and this alert awareness.

Return over and over to simple sensation. It doesn’t matter how many times you get drawn away and return. Feel the world, the field, between objects and emptiness that is right inside of sensation as vibration. Keep letting the body open and feel, as though you can listen in a felt way and every cell could open itself like an ear, listening into the silence and vibration inside of sensation. Let your body soften and give itself to this field, as when you float and give your body to water. Let it be given to this moment and to this sensational field, letting your whole body and your whole being breathe in the simple harmlessness that is here. This moment of existence and how it feels.

I offer this returning to sensation and awareness as a ground when the mind gets going in one of those swirling, whirling hamster wheel experiences of stressing yourself out beyond belief to try to solve something unsolvable. For now pitch the whole thing into the ocean and drop into sensation. Even for the tiniest moment turn toward love and say, “You do it. I am unqualified. Here.” And let the body, where the freak started that turned into a hamster wheel, taste and directly experience that no matter what the unresolved questions, no matter what the agony, it is in this moment like this, and bearable. Call on love over and over and over, like an inner getting down on your knees, opening your hands, dropping all attempts to master anything or get anywhere different. Feel into the simple actuality of what’s here right in the moment.

Let the boundary of this that you call your body dissolve. With your eyes closed feel the field of vibrating energy that you are. Let yourself open to this unborn, new, not-known potentiality. Let your cells be impregnated by it. Feeling this river of silence that calls you down into itself, leaving everything else to just fall inward.

I want to invite you to open to, and to consider, what if nothing is wrong? What if nothing is wrong with you, and nothing is wrong with how things are? What if you’re not screwing up? What if things are just like this, and it’s not wrong? Maybe uncomfortable, maybe painful, maybe confusing, but okay. Let your whole body open to things as they are right here, tossing aside everything undone or un-figured-out to drop into this felt fullness of your existence. Say “time out” and drop into eternity. And rest.

Despite all evidence to the contrary that the mind might supply, simply submit and let yourself be intravenously fed by vibrating love. Let it pump through your arteries and veins. Let it pour through all your cells as vibrating aliveness. Let yourself lean into these words, this field of vibrating energy, into the Holy. With every burden that you’re carrying and every place that you feel like you’re all alone — let that place open and lean, like you are physically giving the Holy your weight. Say, “I give up” and let yourself ride for a moment. Let yourself be rocked by love.


Most of us have been schooled in a way of learning that is based on mastery. To master is to take a particular realm of the unknown and seek to dominate it with knowing. In our culture that’s the only accepted method for learning and for negotiating life. If you aren’t mastering, you’re a loser. The “me”-structure, based on the fear of surviving, loves mastery. It is bolstered by mastery. By attempting to master, it maintains its sense that nothing can harm it.

There is a deeper form of learning which is an undoing. Rather than mastering, we are mastered. This runs counter to and thwarts the whole structure and operation of the survival “me.” We can deny, skip over, or look away from little bits of being involuntarily mastered and call them failures, saying, ‘I’ll do it better next time.’ In this way, the self-concept can remain intact, as these anomalies and so-called failures are woven into the story of ‘me’. Alternatively, we can turn toward, allow and court this experience and allow ourselves to be opened by it, undone. Lucky are the ones who experience something in life that foils every survival strategy one has, and calls the entire apparatus into question.

What seeks to master is afraid, aggressive and completely unaware of the beauty around it, because it does not know how to stop or to listen. It feels that it needs to keep moving and mastering in order to survive, or else be conquered and die. It lives in a false universe of its own projections, and manipulates false objects for a false sense of security and dominion, in an elaborate game of pretend, believing “I am Superman.” Like young boys who play at being superheroes at recess every day, we say “I am big, nothing can get me. I am strong, nothing can get me. I’m smart, nothing can get me. I’m winning, nothing can get me.” In this game, for a moment we have a sense of control, and all while we’re on this little train toward the grave.
Living as love is about being mastered. Below the human being’s desperate attempt to master, is a recognition of the beautiful. The beautiful is a gift that is not given by mastering. You can’t master the flowering of a bud. If you try to force it open, you’ll end up with flakes of flower. And yet we try to master, because that’s all we’ve learned to do. We even bring this to the spiritual search, until the drive to master exhausts itself.

Where do we think we’re going? Where do we think God lives? Not down the road, but right here, at this house–this great hall of IS. If what we find here feels uncomfortable or overwhelming in any given moment, we may try to numb it, leave it, judge it, attempt to change it, or violence it. All in a frightened attempt to avoid being mastered.

We fight against being mastered. One need not damn oneself for fighting, and for not surrendering. What fights is beyond our reach. It’s a wild animal, and it thinks it’s going to die. It just fights until it’s bested. And when it’s bested, it finds out the worst happened, and it didn’t die. There was never a threat. The threat was an ancient ghost. There’s no need to hide anymore.

Love calls us out of hiding. That’s why it’s so scary. Something in our heart, below our awareness, wants to run to it like a moth to a flame. The beautiful! While simultaneously, something wants to run FROM it because it knows the jig is up. Love will strip everything you don’t need and leave you naked, clinging to the Holy.

There’s inherent failure in the human being: a failure to be invincible. The doors of grief, hopelessness, helplessness, longing, sickness, and failure are beautiful gates to the utter relaxation of the me. Yet we are taught that they are the last place to open to. Despair. Inability. Impotence. Weakness. Dependence. These are kryptonite to the fantasy Superman of the me. They fill out the beautiful land of our lost wholeness and meeting them helps cultivate mercy toward this humanness that we all share.

To learn by being mastered takes place right here in IS, as energies come to visit, right now. They come as teachers, but not teachers of the head. No mental understanding is necessary. If they are listened to deeply, opened to, and allowed to enter you, as Rilke says, ‘like a great storm,’ a kind of learning occurs that is nonverbal, non-conceptual, and in your flesh. Whatever it is that masters you leaves its imprint in a form of knowing. This is why people who have been through and digested great grief, war, tragedy or a brush with death, look so beautiful in a weathered kind of way. The human-beingness becomes soft and transparent and their eyes glow with a kind of embodied knowing. The ocean takes them and pounds the fight out of them. They become the ocean.

When this movement starts pressing itself into your life, you no longer fit into most spiritual circles anymore. Because so many want you to go up! And you’re going down. But this is a way. And it is a way that is utterly counter to everything you learned in this culture. Out in the world, or in some spiritual circles, you may feel like you’re not ‘getting it’, or like there’s something wrong with you. You may wonder why you suffer so much, or feel that you’re a ‘bad spiritual person. If you could just get that little bit of suffering under control, you’d wake up!’ But you aren’t going to wake up. You are going to be disassembled, and what’s eternal will dance on your bones. There will be no you left to congratulate yourself for ‘your’ waking up. What treads water as fast and furiously as it can, afraid it will drown, when exhausted, sinks below the surface and becomes the sea.