Freedom and Love

Thank you all for your continued feedback and thoughts on my writing – For the last two days, I have been sitting patiently in front of my laptop, noticing the urge to write and connect but not feeling a specific impulse or topics. So what is most alive for me recently? Possibly, the pendulum swinging from the angst of not doing or giving enough(in my recent posts) towards more self-acceptance? 

The Hologram is a beautiful concept from the Authentic Relating corpus that I teach regularly. My friend and mentor Jason Digges has a wonderful definition in his book, Conflict = Energy: The Transformative Practice of Authentic Relating (IMHO the best book available on Authentic Relating!):

Our “hologram” is the lens through which we experience and make meaning of the world. It is unique to every one of us, yet ubiquitous across our lives. As the old adage goes, The way we do one thing is the way we do everything. Thus, when we begin to perceive our hologram and to work directly with it, powerful change can happen remarkably quickly.

Another way to look at the hologram is as a fully three-dimensional picture, giving us a full view of something in its entirety from any angle. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a hologram is worth a million. Yet in Authentic Relating terms, “seeing our hologram” means much more than simply seeing the details of ourselves. It means welcoming each detail as both valid in its own right, revealing and ultimately transforming the parts that aren’t serving us. Through this process, we become more aware, awake, and whole…Each of us is limited in what we can perceive, and we need each other to be able to clearly see ourselves. Community is the primary resource we have for waking up to, integrating, and beginning to free ourselves from the past relational limitations we were not consciously aware of.

These epiphanies can show us the internal patterns that have been shaping our entire lives. Often, we discover patterns that have been directing the course of our relationships for years and even decades—hidden in plain sight. These realizations, however humbling they may be, are in fact an opportunity to radically change our relational habits for the better.

As I have reviewed your comments and received feedback from close friends in conversation, it is clear that I have a personal hologram around not doing enough or giving enough, being enough, showing up enough, or accepting myself. In addition, my online audience and friends often reflect that I am doing a lot – constantly leading courses in-person and online, studying and participating in new training, and still in the aftermath of an intense healing process from a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

With this feedback and a slow, dawning realization that I seek validation and worth through external sources and success, I decided to start examining if I could source what I needed internally. Easier said than done, I began exploring this topic again through the concepts and language of polarity and the masculine and feminine aspects of my being.

What does my inner feminine seek? To be seen as light and felt as Love.

This subtly connects to my relational realm (my unconscious definition of being a man requires being in a relationship, needed by, loved, attached to a woman). First, I see that this continued efforting to seek external validation from a partner/lover/friendship originates in the part of my shadow that rejected, did not trust, or acknowledge my inner feminine. And if I cannot see myself as Light and Love, what business do I have seeking to be seen and known in this way by another human being? This is one of the reasons I took a long break from romantic/sexual relationships and recommitted myself to more flow, more invitation and surrender, and more self-nurture. I splurged on a beautiful home in Mexico that I would not have ‘allowed’ myself to in the past. I enjoy more time in self-pleasure and indulgence (in all the ways)! I am allowing my body to rest and sleep and go slow. I’m growing my hair longer than usual. I am committed to saying yes to opportunities and invitations regardless of cost or sometimes practical considerations. So far, this has been a delightful dance. Highly uncomfortable at times as this territory of flowing and lack of control is when my masculine would typically come in and dominate – make a plan, a budget, manage, control, and direct my life! I’m committed to this experiment for a while – at least through the summer.

What does my inner masculine seek? Direction, purpose, and seeking freedom amidst challenges.

This is where I operate most of the time – and what I have been writing about recently. The masculine heart responds most fully when aligned with a mission to advance freedom: financial, artistic, or spiritual liberation. The masculine heart often opens deepest when facing death, immense challenge, or going beyond all forms in a spiritual discipline. Rather than write more here – I’ll say for now that I am softening and widening my approach. After noticing how this advancement of freedom, immense challenge, and spiritual liberation is where I direct most of my attention, I’m allowing myself to accept that the outcome of such masculine endeavors may look very different than anything I can imagine at this moment. This freedom is likely utterly personal and may have very little connection to my place or position in society.

I’ll share a few words from David Deida on this dance of the masculine and feminine ( from chapter 31 of Blue Truth:

Feminine spiritual growth is about opening to receive all—all people, all situations, the massive presence of the entire moment—deep into your heart, surrendering open to breathe and move as the full force of Love, aboundingly alive, appearing as all. Whereas the masculine grows by realizing identity with emptiness, boundless consciousness, the unchanging ever-present witness of life, the feminine grows by realizing identity with ever-changing light, radiant Love, or the very love-fullness of all life and every moment.

The masculine craves unchanging nothingness—if not as eternal consciousness, then at least in post-ejaculative peace or zoned out in front of the computer. The feminine is drama, volatile passion, an ocean of tumultuous and ever-fluid light, changing shades, dark and dazzling, concealed and exposed, longing to be seen, felt, entered so deeply as to be overflowed beyond fullness.

Emptiness and quietude are masculine obsessions. The masculine often wants to resolve feminine turmoil and conclude in unadorned openness, the one taste that feels like home to the masculine. But the feminine opens as cinnamon and garlic, as salty, sweet, and bitter, as every possible flavor.

 Since we embody both masculine and feminine energies, we all can benefit from opening as BOTH unbounded emptiness and love’s fullness. Sitting in the open silence of meditation and surrendering open as love’s dance is helpful for each of us. At different moments in our lives and journeys, we may be required to emphasize one over the other. An important point I want to make in my inquiry into these topics is that it can be easy to assume or oversimplify this journey and think that if you increase your masculinity, you will decrease your femininity and vice-versa. Nothing is farther from the truth! Both can be expanded to unimaginable capacity – and even though we will very likely have a preferred way to enter and meet the world, we may be asked or demanded to call upon the other polarity to meet life’s uniqueness and dynamism.

This is enough for today – next time I want to inquire with all of you what happens when we can develop and satisfy our inner masculine and feminine ourselves – and then walk forward in the world from this place of wholeness? Love and Freedom, expressed in their uninhibited fullness.


Your thoughts and feedback are welcome and always greatly appreciated.

Be Alive as Gifting

I am sitting in my home this weekend, facing myself. I’m uncomfortable, I’m tired, and I’m in pain. I wanted to say that I am hiding from the world – but the more accurate statement is that I am hiding from myself.  

David Deida summarizes this well in the final chapter of his book Blue Truth, Be Alive as Gifting:

If your true gifts have become lost in the struggle with life’s demands, then you are in pain. Ungiven gifts hurt. Unoffered love sears the heart. Unexpressed insight sucks the strength from your bones.

I know I write this not just for myself but also for many of us. I have been sharing my personal journey with many of you, and I keep hearing –  yes, me too. The world has shifted – more so in the last two years than in any two years of my life. Politically – call it what you will: the great reset, wealth transfer, rise of authoritarianism – yet I view these changes as a painful gift at a personal level. We are being prompted even more strongly – WHAT ARE MY VALUES? WHAT DO I STAND FOR IN THIS WORLD? WHAT ARE PURPOSEFUL AND MEANINGFUL WAYS TO LIVE?

These past two years have coincided with me entering my forties and surviving a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Life is finite. We all know this from an early age, but I didn’t live as though it was finite in my twenties and thirties. There’s always more time, another opportunity. Now I have a different perspective – this may be the only opportunity, and there may not be much time. The world may be getting better or worse, but that is no excuse not to work on my relationship with it and with myself, right now.

Two timely books have crossed my path recently that I have recently finished:

Letting Go by David Hawkins and the Untethered Soul by Jefferson Singer

The pathway of surrender was something I learned about and slowly began understanding a decade ago through my teachers of yoga and specifically Sahajananda at Hridaya Yoga. However, I realize now that I have not fully grasped its potential or true meaning. There are layers upon layers of letting go and surrender. From letting go of being overcharged a few dollars at the store, letting go of the frustration at oneself for missing a flight. To forgive others who may have harmed us significantly. To forgive ourselves for our misdeeds. And the most significant surrender may be letting go of one’s life, accepting that we have very little control and choice in the grand scheme of things. The only legitimate choice may be to resist or not to resist the constant change of life.

“When you meet a person of greater openness, your closure stands in stark relief.”

Deida writes about this specifically in terms of how when we are in the company of someone more open than us, we naturally receive an invitation to open ourselves – masculine openness being clear, intentional, and integral action, feminine openness being radiance, and flow. In this sentence, what comes up for me is the importance of community, specifically sangha, where people are committed to understanding and living these questions. And the remembrance that while I am constantly being inspired by my teachers and guides, I’m simultaneously inspiring those that I have walked the path ahead of. I notice the tendency of myself and others to surround ourselves with those at a similar level of openness – as the presence of those with much more openness can feel confronting and dangerous to our egos.

And again, this theme of not being alone in this. Knowing that as I write this, my habit energy is the deeply stoic approach of figuring this all out on my own, solving the problem, and finding the solution. Yet, I am trying to soften into the actualization of the interdependent life that we exist in. I have written before about the crux of finding purpose before or after a partnership, seeing that these may not be linear, they may be complementary – as well as trusting the shared experiences of close friends, strangers, or guides that may appear in my life, ever so briefly.

“Feeling the choices you have made of security and self-guardedness, acutely aware of your yearning heart, lost time, and ungiven gifts, you can either surrender open and embrace the force of superior openness or fortify your closure. Suffering is only your refusal to open. You are alive as gifting

This feeling of those choices made for self-preservation and safety are the source of the pain. I see the tendency and energy while in this painful place, wanting to leap forward with:  Here are my gifts, world. Receive them and me! I also see the necessity of the slow reckoning with myself, the painful process of building up the pressure of this yearning heart, lost time, and ungiven gifts such that the actual gifting comes from a place that includes and acknowledges the pain rather than as a means of avoiding it.

Thank you all for being with me this morning.

An Unremarkable Scrotum

Two weeks ago, I had a routine CT Scan (X-Ray) as part of a scheduled series of tests after my cancer treatment in 2020. Marking two years since diagnosis, the scan and all my blood work indicated continued remission of any disease and is an encouraging sign that I have moved beyond a significant window of risk for recurrence. I will likely do one more exam in six months or a year and then say goodbye to the treatment center for good.

As I walked out of the cancer center and towards my car in the brisk winter air, my celebrations were cut short: I glanced at the printed copy of the scan results, and my eyes jumped straight to the last line:  “The scrotum is unremarkable.” Not to take anything away from the more relevant statement earlier in the report: “There is no evidence of pathology, no evidence of disease,” but my scrotum (and my prostate and seminal vesicles too) labeled as unremarkable – was very upsetting to me and I found myself quickly deflated! I personally always assumed my scrotum was, in fact, quite remarkable. More on this later. First, an update:

I’ve shifted locations from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, to Mazunte, Mexico. Mazunte is a small (but currently very crowded) pacific coast village that I first visited in 2011. It is one of the most naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been, with endless beaches, rocky cliffs, and wild nature everywhere. One of my meditation teachers is here, Sahajananda, the founder of Hridaya Yoga, and a few friends who are here for various reasons. Unfortunately, I arrived a bit later than expected – I missed my flight (for no one’s fault but my own) for the first time in a long time. Clueless that the plane had already boarded, I was hanging out at the gate drinking water, eating a snack, and even taking a selfie (which I’m far too embarrassed to post) with the open gate and agent behind me. In the end, I had to fork out $250 for a new last-minute ticket and spend a sleepless night in the Mexico City airport, all the while going through a wild shame spiral for being so careless and unaware. I notice I am very hard on myself when careless actions cause me a significant financial loss. This feeling is related very much to my relationship to control and a masculine-oriented view of life. I used to think and say, ‘how can anyone miss a flight,’ sitting in a café or whatever. Now I understand – and a story I have been unfolding for myself that I referred to in my last post is shifting from a masculine-oriented worldview to incorporating more aspects of the feminine worldview. A friend even reflected that I feel more like I’m allowing myself to be penetrated (feminine-oriented) by the world, which is new territory. I’m not saying that missing a flight is feminine, rather that there are more non-linear aspects of life that take on more aliveness and make things like time and money less interesting.

And this brings me back to a conversation about my scrotum, as it symbolizes masculinity. I know I speak a lot of masculine/feminine polarity, and I will continue to because of its connection to my life, interests, teaching, and mission. And a significant goal in my life is to be in a partnered, committed relationship, so I feel my life path and this goal are aligned. I’m currently involved in two Men’s programs, a Couple’s intimacy course a tantric consort course for couples. And my mission consists of this desire for healing, depth, and healthier, more alive relationships. A word that summarizes this is wholeness. I seek wholeness in myself and want to be in a position that invites others into their wholeness.

And from here – I feel some vulnerable words about to come forth. I notice an imposter syndrome as I navigate this sphere of my life. I’m helping men with their purpose, their sexuality, and their hearts. I’m teaching couples how to communicate better, AND here I am, 42, unsure of where I will be living in a month from now, single, and with an insecure income stream. Despite now wanting to admit it fully,( even to myself), COVID and CHEMO were like putting on a weighted blanket that I am trying to crawl out from underneath. On the positive side, they significantly strengthened my resilience, brought me an incredible amount of humbleness, slowed me down, helped me narrow my focus and goals. However, it also left me slightly dizzy, with 15 extra pounds, decreased vitality, and more financial burden and stress than I would prefer.

This imposter syndrome manifests specifically in the lack of relationship/partnership in my life. I am teaching men and couples how to IMPROVE – intimacy, sexuality, communication….and I know myself to be a confident lover and excellent communicator, yet lacking clear direction and stability. Therefore, I often feel unattractive to potential partners.

For me, there is a crux, an edge that I am exploring related to staying authentic, congruent, and in integrity with my values. The values of simplicity, non-materiality, freedom, and service. The importance of a quiet, meditative life of practice and contemplating my scrotum.

Yet, I believe that to mate signal for a potential partner properly means I need to develop other values: physical fitness, financial stability, owning a home, etc., thereby defining myself through a career or capacity to provide to be marketable. Even if becoming more marketable means losing touch with my inner life and practice. As I type this, my heart knows the answer – it does nobody a service to be inauthentic to gain and enter a relationship only to find oneself removed from one’s values. I think the answer to my question is trust and patience. And the clarity that the very act of remaining true to my principles and values is the most attractive thing in the world to the type of woman I believe I am attracting. This feels like a good moment to pause.

Thanks for being with me.

Right Under my Nose!

I am winding down my time at Lake Atitlan, spending my final days in this magical, mythical and mysterious land. Two weeks ago, as I sat through illness and mild depression, I could not imagine this time coming soon enough. But now I feel like putting the brakes on, extending my time, and slowing down to take in the people and the places that I very much appreciate. I may be back; I may not. But, I most likely will be. I have always noticed how the appreciation of a place increases once I am away from it.

Today marks the 12th day my right ear has been blocked since the illness I contracted at the beginning of the year. It has added an extra layer of challenge to the last two weeks. Finally, after the body gained strength and energy, a friendly omicron leftover invited me to lean into a (hopefully) temporary disability to navigate, leading an event that deeply depended on my listening and speaking skills. With no success, I’ve attempted ALL of the methods to unblock this ear known to mankind and the internet. I have seen a doctor who diagnosed an infection and gave me antibiotic drops, which have also been futile. Continuing to cross my fingers that the pressure will relax before flying in two days.

Amid this rather significant impairment, I facilitated and led an Authentic Relating Training for 20 people. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work: marketing, following leads, promotional events, working with a challenging venue, etc. However, once the event began, I found myself slowing down, relaxing, and doing what I love – being with others and helping and teaching them tools to be more with themselves and others. With the blocked ear, I felt like I was speaking underwater. I had no idea how loud I was talking and found it took extended effort to stay focused. Fortunately, I was with my trusted co-lead, Ash, who helped ensure nothing was missed.

I guess everything above is a preamble for what I want to speak about today: A recent dissonance that has appeared in my awareness around my purpose and meaningful place in the world. I have had the good fortune of hosting a weekly brothers circle here in San Marcos the past two months, full of rich harvests and insights and a space of healing for many of the men, myself included. Yesterday we ranged in age from 20 to 65 and spent a good portion of the circle sincerely inquiring into each man to level him up in a specific area of life that he was struggling with. For one man, it was faith in light of a terminal illness. For another, his leadership in his intimate relationship, my inner conflict between what I have found deeply satisfying recently and my pre-existing story of what success is supposed to look like. Let me unpack this:

Recently, or more or less for the past three years, I’ve been contemplating, exploring, considering my purpose in the world, my search for meaning, which has shown up as a repeated theme on my blog. I now notice that I may have been missing something directly under my nose. The pain of not feeling on-purpose is due to this fixed idea of what being ‘on-purpose’ is supposed to look like: a pre-defined notion of what being satisfied in my purpose is. My ego wrestles with and opposes the idea that being on purpose might look very different than what it has gripped for so long: success in the masculine sense: having a significant impact, owning a brand or center, being in the limelight, earning fist loads of money changing the world.

When I measure my last couple of years against this idea of success, no wonder I feel like I have fallen short! Being diagnosed with cancer in the middle of a pandemic and spending most of my energy healing myself and nourishing my relationships and emotional intelligence – what a tremendous waste of time (from that vantage point)! But wait a minute – maybe there is something here that I have been missing? What have I discovered, developed, and nourished these past two years? One-one relating, small group interactions, esoteric body-mind-spirit practices, nature, deep healing, sensemaking, poetry, and mysticism.

But what if, just what if…the purpose of this leadership was in these inner realms, in the more feminine aspects of leadership: empathetic, intuitive, passionate, collaborative, instinctual, versus the more traditional masculine individualistic, analytical, decisive, independent, and logical?

Leadership in community, service and teaching are clearly part of my calling and path. However, I realize that while my WHY is clear, I may have been envisioning the wrong HOW and WHAT. As I transition away from Guatemala, returning to Colorado briefly before heading abroad again, I will ponder this possibility and continue to allow my lived experience to challenge my old stories and beliefs. Let’s see what unfolds next. Thanks for being with me.

From Loneliness to Unity

From Loneliness to Unity

I am feeling a ton of appreciation and gratitude for the profoundly touching, thoughtful, and insightful comments and responses to my last post. My heart vibrates with the knowledge of our deep connectivity, with a feeling of sacredness for our impact on others, no matter how well we know each other, due to the similarity of this human experience.

I find it interesting how different people resonated with various aspects – for some, the broken heart. For others, the alcohol, loneliness, or illness. The inspiration to write what came from a conversation with a friend who expressed that this sense of loneliness and isolation was something she was feeling strongly in the past months and aware of it in many individuals who she would have never imagined in such a way position. We are all human, and we are certainly amidst a strong collective process. As a result, I am inspired to write more. I have been guided and fully believe that my heart expresses itself strongly through the written word.

Returning to last week – As I stewed in what I was calling my story of isolation and aloneness, I noticed some cracks in the foundation. I was in rich connection with so many incredible souls throughout the holidays. I had developed new relationships here at Lake Atitlan and nurtured many long distant connections that have evolved with time. I even connected with an ex-partner, and we spent time reviewing, healing, forgiving, and getting to know the current human on the other side, not the fixed image of a person from ten years ago. And despite all of this, I was clinging to some idea that I was alone and separate. When I took an honest account of this contradiction, a few things emerged. First, not being in contact with my mother over the holidays seemed to impact me significantly. And second, lacking an intimate relationship shortly after a breakup seemingly cast a large shadow over my entire relational field. I am happy to report that my mother and I have spoken and started healing a recent would between us. As for the shadow of no intimate relationship, this has been a deeper and more subtle dive into me, asking myself why such a relationship (or lack thereof) carries such an inordinate amount of weight on my well-being.

I wrote about this recently in a post called the Eden Project. Despite articulating this process and even understanding the source, it’s much harder to shift the habit. In the days after writing this, I made a conscious decision to be utterly sovereign in my sexuality and approach to relationships for a while. And how fleeting that was! Probably within a day or two, I had found myself in some situation where the inner self was asking, what about this one, it’s different, she’s different? Is this the one that may complete the Eden project for me? What a comedy of errors and contradictions I am!

 And what does completion even mean? I was joking with a group of men recently that this desire is like wanting to rest my head on a woman’s chest, have her put her arms around me, tell me I’m perfect, and never have to do anything strenuous for the rest of my life. A return to infancy! Obviously, that is not going to work as a full-time strategy (even though on occasion and at the right moment, that’s one of the best feelings in the world!).

Why am I even writing about any of this? 

I’m noticing how much loneliness is a perception, an idea, a concept that is not often grounded in present moment reality. Some are genuinely isolated and alone due to choices, external conditions, or myriad factors. And they may not feel loneliness! Many do, I am sure. Yet this is not me, nor many of you who are reading this. There are probably 50 people out there, you included who I could text right now asking if we could connect and speak, and within 24 hours, you would be there for me.

As I contemplated this theme, I was also uncovering Richard Rudd’s recordings and serendipitously found and listened to a playlist where he explores how we can transform many of the shadow energies into something lighter, loneliness being one of them. Combining his and my words: When we feel loneliness, we feel cut off from everything from our life source. It doesn’t matter who we are surrounded by or what our life consists of; a part of us believes we are alone in this world. The answer to this dilemma is in the heart. In the heart is warmth. And warmth melts the ice of isolation. So the way to transform loneliness is to go within your own heart, chipping away at the ice every day. When there is enough warmth in the heart, when you are alone geographically, you don’t need to feel alone energetically.

You can go outside, under the stars, see the moon, and see them as alive. The moon is not just a dead rock but has a being-ness. This warm heart and knowing connect us into a unified field, and you can realize that when the heart is open, we can never feel alone. We can be alone but not feel lonely. We feel alone only when the seat has folded in on itself.

Loneliness is an invitation to Unity.

Comments, please:  How do you proceed along the path from Loneliness to Unity?

The Drunkard and the Lover

The Drunkard and the Lover

As I transitioned into the new year, I felt ready to begin anew, to move past some of the grief and loneliness I had been experiencing in the last week of 2021. As if on cue, I was stricken with the flu on the 2nd, which gave me even more time to examine my current state, although this time mostly horizontal, through night sweats and skull-numbing headaches.


I intended to record a video to show up in this weak, raw, and vulnerable moment, but my voice is almost gone, and I am coughing heavily after a few sentences. But rest assured, I will still let you into some of my angst through my words.


It has been a journey into isolation and loneliness the past two weeks – my two closest friends here became unavailable for different reasons, one also succumbing to a severe illness. And while I have made many connections on this lake, I am someone who does not build up depth, trust, and intimacy with people quickly. A stranger in a strange land, the expression goes. In addition, and somewhat ashamedly, I still feel the effects of heartbreak from a couple of months ago. It was a short, intense relationship that pulled on the most profound aspects of my lifelong inner feminine healing process, forcing me to face all the ugly parts of that internal relationship: the betrayal and lack of trust, the dependency and validation, the overemphasis and need for sex and eros and contact. And experience has shown me that this inner feminine, the anima as Carl Jung referred to it, tends to possess the face of my previous beloved. This is very much a work in progress and one that has invited me into a state of pause.


One bright spot in the last week has been my discovery of the contemplations of Richard Rudd: poet, and creator of the Gene Keys system. I specifically found myself listening to an album called The Ecstatics, where Rudd explores the mystical nature of some well-known individuals like Walk Whitman, Ananda Mayi Ma, and Hafez, along with some lesser-known mystics that were new to me.


I have found this series incredibly inspirational, and I was brought back to a time, 10-12 years ago when my life shifted dramatically – I was in my Saturn return (~age 29), I left my comfortable corporate job, sold all of my possessions, discovered zen, yoga, tantra, meditation, and poetry. All things were pouring in and out of me with great ease and joy. AND there was so much that I was utterly unconscious of! And certainly still am. Looking back, I can see and feel that dream of youthful optimism, reaching ecstasy without pain, without suffering, without heartbreak and disappointment. And Rudd sums this up beautifully:


The path of love involves a different kind of suffering from the path of meditation.


The path of love drags us through the world, whores us through the taverns and marketplace. And we will be battered and bruised by it.
But one day, one day we may have the epiphany… that the love on the outside is but a shadow of love on the inside


We who have passed beyond the age of 40 or so, we have learned that all is not what was promised. And even if we find it, it slips through our grasp. It eludes us, and it must do, because love in the phenomenal world is the effect of a deeper love, an acausal love, and this deeper love, this ecstasy is beyond any effects; it does not have a target; it is simply our true nature.

Two small new years resolutions/intentions I have committed to are:

  • No alcohol for the first three months
  • Drastically reduced use of news and podcasts

Both connect to the ecstatic state referred to above. Both news and alcohol are significant distractions from the inner landscape. And while I have not been abusing alcohol by any means, even moderate amounts are not in the best interest of a human healing his body from serious disease.
Rudd’s exploration of Hafez reminded me that the reason for reaching for alcohol is all too similar to that of reaching for love, except that they end up in drastically different locations. Rudd quotes Indian spiritual master Meher Baba comparing the lover to the drunkard:

The Sufi master poets often compared love with wine. Wine is the most fitting figure for love because both intoxicate. But while wine causes self-forgetfulness, love leads to Self-realization.

The behavior of the drunkard and the lover are similar; each disregards the world’s standards of conduct and each is indifferent to the opinion of the world. But there are worlds of difference between the course and the goal of the two: the one leads to subterranean darkness and denial; the other gives wings to the soul for its flight to freedom.

The drunkenness of the drunkard begins with a glass of wine which elates his spirit and loosens his affections and gives him a new view of life that promises a forgetfulness from his daily worries. He goes on from a glass to two glasses, to a bottle; from companionship to isolation, from forgetfulness to oblivion. Oblivion which in Reality is the Original state of God, but which, with the drunkard, is an empty stupor–and he sleeps in a bed or in a gutter. And he awakens in a dawn of futility, an object of disgust and ridicule to the world.

The lover’s drunkenness begins with a drop of God’s love which makes him forget the world. The more he drinks, the closer he draws to his Beloved, and the more unworthy he feels of the Beloved’s love; and he longs to sacrifice his very life at the Beloved’s feet. He, too, does not know whether he sleeps on a bed or in a gutter, and becomes an object of ridicule to the world; but he rests in bliss, and God the Beloved takes care of his body, and neither the elements nor disease can touch it.

One out of many such lovers sees God face to face. His longing becomes infinite; he is like a fish thrown up on the beach, leaping and squirming to regain the ocean. He sees God everywhere and in everything, but he cannot find the gate of union. The Wine that he drinks turns into Fire in which he continuously burns in blissful agony. And the Fire eventually becomes the Ocean of Infinite Consciousness in which he drowns.

My favorite line is: He, too, does not know whether he sleeps on a bed or in a gutter, and becomes an object of ridicule to the world, but he rests in bliss, and God the Beloved takes care of his body, and neither the elements nor disease can touch it.

Cheers to the path of the lover – willing to love wildly and freely and have my heart broken repeatedly!!!

And the need for the break from news and podcasts is clear to me – I/we are being confronted with a pandemic of fear and isolation and division, and seeking outside solutions and answers and distrusting our inner guidance is only a recipe for more isolation and separation. How much of what I’m feeling is my own making? This topic I will soon explore on its own.

I leave you here for now. In the hour or so it took me to write this, I am feeling physically stronger, emotionally more connected, and overall much lighter.

Thank you for being with me, and I’d love your feedback.

The Eden Project

Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the time I am being carried by great winds across the sky.  ~Anonymous Chippewa

I read this line yesterday as I sat on the edge of Lake Atitlan and found myself feeling somewhat heavy.  Reading this, I took a small, energetic step back, and I suddenly realized the incredible privilege, freedom, and opportunity that this life is, particularly this moment in time.  I felt the true meaning of keeping the heart open while in pain, smiling at my friend’s recent joy at my confusion and suffering.  Paradoxically, growth comes when we suffer, for suffering quickens consciousness and generally requires the enlargement of the personality to assimilate the pain. Secondly, the radical encounter with the Other (in the form of a love relationship or with God) can also pry us out of our ego-bound position. A metanoia or a transformative experience.

Today was such a beautiful, expanding day for me.  I attended three hours of Kirtan (devotional singing) in Tzununa, a small village outside of San Marcos. My friend Jenna ( I happened to be her first yoga teacher in Thailand 5 years ago!) lives in a small sustainable community called Karuna. They offer this practice every Sunday, with all proceeds and donations going to the village children in need.

There has been a tension around my heart recently – which I could feel loosening as soon as I jumped into a tuk-tuk cruising past my house with two beautiful new friends I just met on the way to the same event.  We sang for hours, and my heart ripped open the moment we began chanting the classic Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soham.  The backdrop of Lake Atitlan supported us as we poured our hearts and voices into the sacred mantras – sending them outward for the healing and benefit of All Beings. I wondered why it took me so long to find this practice since arriving here at the lake, recalling how profound this practice was for me over the years of living in Thailand.  I have found it now and have realized that its happening several times a week at different venues❤

Recognizing that a great wind across the sky is indeed carrying me, last night I reread the book “The Eden Project” by James Hollis, which I highly recommend after any painful breakup or relationship ending. Hollis explores this idea of the sacred Other and the going home project that many of us attempt while in an intimate relationship. His words to describe it:

The going home project is deeply programmed in us from our traumatic onsets. But, as we see all around us, it remains the chief saboteur of intimate relationship. Thus, we are all caught between the deeply programmed desire to fuse with the Other and the inner imperative to separate, to individuate. This tension of opposites will always be present. Holding that tension, bringing it to consciousness, is the moral task of both parties in any close relationship, a task that requires conscious effort and heroic will. When one has let go of that great hidden agenda that drives humanity and its varied histories, then one can begin to encounter the immensity of one’s own soul. If we are courageous enough to say, “Not this person, nor any other, can ultimately give me what I want; only I can,” then we are free to celebrate a relationship for what it can give.

I have repeated this pattern many times over the years. Throwing my projections onto the Magical Other and then left in confusion when these projections collapse. The fantasy is something like this: Someday, amid the humdrum of life, the fated, fabulous stranger will drive into your life, grant you transcendence, and then go off forever, leaving you to the ordinary but soul afire. No partner, no matter how worthy, can compete with that fantasy. One of Rumi’s famous poems starts with: The moment I heard my first love story, I started looking for you… Hollis again:

Only when one has suffered the collapse of projections onto the Other, or tracked the symptomatology to its lair, may one begin to recognize that the enemy is within, that the Other is not what he or she may seem, and that one is summoned to a deep personal accounting before one can begin to clear the terrain for true relationship. One does not come to such recognitions easily, without having suffered failure, shame, rage or humiliation. But in such dreary states may be found the beginning of insight into oneself, without which no lasting relationship may be achieved.

As if heeding this advice, Rumi continues: . . . not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. All of this is to say that once again, the call to personal responsibility in my trauma, pain, and longing is here. To seek and find wholeness and worthiness within. And when this is indeed done, the possibility of a deep, transcendent relationship may be possible. Hollis again:

Using relationships as an escape from one’s personal journey is to pervert relationships and sabotage one’s calling. To care for the other as Other is to open to pain as well as joy. Both emotions can be transformative. Though we may not hold or reify either, both may engender largeness of soul.

If we genuinely love the Other as Other, we have heroically taken on the responsibility for our own individuation, our own journey. This heroism may properly be called love. St. Augustine put it this way: Love is wanting the other to be. One of the best formulations of this relational paradox is expressed by Rainer Maria Rilke: I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.

And with this, I prepare to jump again!