I have been prompted to write this because of recent events in the Secret Garden community. I have so much respect for those who value their awakening ‘process’, commit to resolving ‘stickiness’ in their interactions, and take the openings they experience as a guide in future choices, behaviours and actions. And yet, life is wholly unconditional! Life simply is, and living consciously is an art form.
It is the nature of living on this planet in a body that all beings and all circumstances which appear real and fixed are actually impermanent, unfixed, transient. The kahuna (Hawaiian healer-guide, the protector of the treasure) knows that life is a dream. Buddhists talk of samsara. The illusions of this appearance can be very compelling, however. Humans have killed each other for the sake of money or sex or land or because of a frustration that feels utterly real and justified. It is extraordinary that the discoveries of quantum physics have come thousands of years after the truth of the emptiness of life was spoken of by the ancients.
The kahuna sees through life, that it is real and unreal, that, apparently, stories – of all kinds – happen in the dream duality and, in appearance, strong feelings might arise and fall away. There is ultimately no cause and effect. That is simply an appearance.
Quantum physics confirms that all things that exist in the relative universe are transitory. Galaxies die, black holes die. Atoms are comprised mostly of empty space.
Is it a suffering that you will one day cease to exist? For many, maybe most people, yes it is. Mortality is a truth so painful for the separate self that anything will be used to escape from it*. Yet nearly all you are is space. And almost all of physical matter is too. And it’s the same all the way down. Even the most talented and compassionate human being is atomic dust, enjoying a temporary dance.
Space does not suffer.
One of the most painful and rich learnings for a human being is that we simply cannot be happy when we hold on. So learning to co-operate joyfully with the naturalness of letting go is a beautiful – and wise – thing. All the physical and sensual attachment and pleasures that human beings love to try to own and control must be lost, cannot be touched or tasted or felt, because they naturally dissolves back to source (emptiness) from which all comes.
So trying to get more or hold on is directly arguing with the very nature of life.
Disillusion and loss become friends then. Wise teachers. It can be learned that anything you believe to be true or think is about you is a trap. And sadly so often becomes an excuse to judge, withdraw and separate.
Desire and wanting is the fuel that drive much of Western culture, our politics, our economy. It is even the case that so much ‘personal’ development is exactly that – it strengthens ego, the importance of the personal self, beyond the point of necessary and healthy maturation, and encourages self-absorption and pride.
Nevertheless, to abandon all desire is a big leap for many, if not most, and can lead to repression, guilt and shame, which dampen the rocket fuel needed for deep transformation. Wanting energy is natural. It is the personal investment in it and the holding on to it that is not. Understanding that attachment to desire is at the root of suffering however, allows you who live an ordinary in the West to begin letting go of investing energy in what is necessarily transitory.
Desire propels the body forward, it is natural. And nature abhors a vacuum, so while there is life, newness will always follow loss. It is simply that attachment to life’s gifts and beauties causes suffering. It is possible to enjoy the world, if you don’t get attached to it. It is possible to be in this world yet not of it.
This does not mean you should resist or reject the world. Indeed, bringing the sensual and sexual desire nature and the other more specifically unique longings of your own nature into the light of consciousness with full awareness is absolutely necessary for realisation.
Christians discuss ‘the Peace that passeth all understanding’. We might call it Grace, or the luminous freedom that comes when one is empty of the personal. Christianity, Buddhism and other teachings or -isms have become religious, have become a body of belief systems about what is right or wrong, because for many human beings this direct knowing, the boundless freedom that utterly satisfies, so that the world recedes, has not happened. The original intention for practical guidance becomes something that can lead to judgement, separation and war.
If one does not have a direct sense of life’s wholeness, then there are certain ways of living, or codes of conduct, that can act as guides. Denial is unhealthy and repressed energy (which I have seen so often in those who first come to me after having been following a strict ‘spiritual’ code), tends to either drag life down so that less energy is available for transformation, or leads to explosions that sabotage what is truly good and wholesome.
Natural morality and following the intelligence of life is not the same as social or religious rules of conduct (which can be a cover up for judgement and hypocrisy and pacts).
Tolerance, patience, humility, kindness, forgiveness are learned in the circle. Not because ‘being good’ leads to freedom, it doesn’t, but because complications, conflicts and hidden resentments distract from the subtle and demanding work of awakening.
It can be learned and embodied that any feeling, attraction and desire is simply energy moving. Nothing has to be acted upon, though one is free to do so. Uniting consciousness with the impermanent nature of desire is a necessary initiation before absolute freedom.
In Secret Garden there is an imperative to align actions with what is revealed through meditation – that silence and stillness at the heart of life’s potency, which is what ultimately satisfies.
Even if this numinosity is glimpsed it is possible to lapse back into ways of being that lead not to revelation but rather to delusion and further attachment to the personal, and to further separation, consolidation of the separate self, and withdrawal.
This is, however, a tricky aspect of waking up, which can be treacherous. It requires a high degree of discipline, self-honesty, respect for others, and high quality guidance.
A useful question for reflection might be – when are you likely to choose to withhold love and compassion?
The shared meeting of the heart with another – who might just as likely be a stranger as not -is a jewel of human experience. It might be experienced with special friends too, or special teachers or guides or lovers or animals.
Those who are in our lives for the long term ask more of us -work might need to be done -both on the past in the cells of the body that those here now remind you of, and in untying any present life tangles that emerge with clarity, compassion and kindness. Digging deep allows the heart to flourish in these longer term connections. The apparent solidity of things & the apparent seriousness of a situation is actually a dream, what we call reality is never fixed. This means healing is always possible, & forgiveness is always possible.
What captured my heart and resonated so strongly when I became an apprentice many years ago to my own teacher, was his unfailing vision that all human beings are able to live free. We are all naturally free. It is just common to forget. And until the full self-realization, life can be expressions of delusion, projection, dishonesty and attachment. The withholding of love and compassion from what or who in the appearance does not fit a personal map of the world is only possible from separate selfhood.
The accountability of authentic and focused community is very helpful as one peels the onion of ego and conditioning. Humour is also helpful! The seed of an oak tree is not an oak until it has grown. Yet it always carries the potential to become one. Given the right circumstances, and the skilled care of an experienced gardener, who can watch for pitfalls, it can fulfil its potential. The human awakening journey is no different.
You may be realising that you suffer if you hold fast to denying the innocence of others. If you are struggling with this, practice forgiveness. Start somewhere. The 4 webinars in the deeply healing Let Go, Live Light online course take you through short yet profound exercises and guide you carefully through all the necessary stages of handling strong feelings, blame, finding self-responsibility, forgiveness, what options you might have and actions to take to change your life – and you can re-visit whenever you need a re-boot.
The veils that separate you from the awareness of the profound sacredness of life, of all beings and all things are lifted in true forgiveness.
A true meeting in compassion, even if it can only happen on the ‘inner’ – the jewel in the crown of the lotus of the heart – is innocent of all ideology, projection and personal agenda. Tasting this is one of the main gifts of the circle in Secret Garden. So that you might know the taste of this and seek to be available for that more often.
Fixation of personal self and identity dissolves, and suffering dissolves, there is a new availability to see what is really needed, what life’s intelligence asks of you (which is always what you need but not always what you want). An indivisible blend of purification practice and wisdom realisation allows freedom. The music of silence can be revealed then. The beauty of the most beautiful lotus, the most beautiful diamond. It is the silent song of bliss.
Colours are vibrant, the air is sweet. Being showers celebration, joy on you…so that you must share it with others.
*If you are interested in exploring the themes of aliveness, desire, and true meeting, consider attending the unique and rarely offered New Year Retreat. Go to https://secretgarden.co.uk/events