Spiritual opening is not necessarily a benign, nice, neat, or comfortable process. Initially we may flirt with spiritual opening, doing some meditation practices, reading spiritual or metaphysical literature, trying out different teachers and teachings, perhaps hoping that our spiritual experiences will make us happier or more successful, but when we go beyond spiritual dilettantism and cultism, reaching the point where we don’t give a damn about being spiritually correct, and where spiritual opening is not an option but a fundamental need, we find that it is more of a sacrificial process than we bargained for, necessarily bringing us face to face with all that we have turned away from, risen …..
Pain can be such a pain, but doesn’t have to be. Pain comes with life, closely accompanied by our “solutions” to it, most of which are all about getting away from it, whether through alcoholic, narcotic, erotic, intellectual, material, egoic, or spiritual means. The fact that these “solutions,” despite their anesthetizing capacity, only end up catalyzing more pain usually does little to stop us from pursuing them. Our resistance to our pain amplifies it. The more we try to avoid it, the darker and more tenaciously rooted it becomes. But when we stop avoiding our pain, when we cut way back on judging or fighting it, its presence starts serving …..
Telling another to “lighten up” or be more positive can be shame-inducing, however nicely we might do it. What if they need to stay with their hate or despair or depressiveness for a while? How can we be sure that they’d be better off getting away from such states as soon as possible? Perhaps at such times we are — through our contact with their endarkened condition — starting to feel more in touch with such states in ourselves, and want the other to get away from their “darkness” so that we don’t have to feel our own. Pressuring ourselves to be positive only increases our negativity toward …..
Emotion includes feeling, but is more than feeling. In the literature on emotion, the terms “emotion” and “feeling” (and the more academic “affect”) are often used interchangeably. And even when they are not, there is not much agreement as to what they mean. Nevertheless, it’s important to distinguish feeling from emotion. Feeling means the registering of sensation (e.g., the feeling of a stone in our hand or hunger pangs in our stomach), and it also refers to the registering of a specific sort of sensation: an innate noncognitive evaluative sensing that’s at the very core of emotion (e.g., the visceral feeling of fear or shame or joy). “Noncognitive” means that …..
We have an astonishing ability to delude ourselves, and an equally astonishing ability to cut through what’s in the way of seeing more clearly. The first ability — which appears at every level of development (including spiritually) — generates conditions that help catalyze the second, conditions featuring enough suffering to really grab our attention. However unwittingly or unconsciously, we thus involve ourselves in circumstances which can bring our dissatisfaction to such a peak — or trough! — that something has to give, providing us with whatever rough grace is needed.
“I won’t confront you because I don’t want to hurt you.” This and related statements — like “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to upset you” — may sound good on the surface, perhaps even nobly intentioned, but are usually little more than denial in caring’s clothing, whether consciously or unconsciously animated. They generally are not really intended to spare our partner pain, but rather to keep us as far as possible from our own pain or discomfort, including that of directly facing — that is, confronting — what we are actually doing. How ironic it is that our supposed effort — however nicely dressed or apparently considerate …..
To go truly deep in an intimate relationship, we need to feel safe with our partner. We need to know — and know with our whole being — that we can trust them, and not just when we are physically with them. This trust is based not on thinking that we should trust them, but rather on consistently sensing in our core their trustworthiness—their integrity, their reliability, their commitment to being present under all conditions, their passion for accessing love, depth, and freedom with and through us. If we cannot count on our partner to consistently take good care of the container of our relationship — as when energy is …..
Fear is basically just excitement in drag, tightly knotted and turned in on itself — like a wide-open hand compressed into a fist or a snail pulling back into the innermost coils of its shell, squeezed into thick-walled darkness. Pay attention next time you feel excitement, noticing the similarities in how it and fear feel; in fear, the sensations usually register as unpleasant and in excitement as pleasant. Of course, in many situations we may feel fear and excitement at the same time. For example, when beginning psychotherapy, many people will say that they feel scared/excited. If you’re excited — energetically aroused — and then contract, fear arises. Similarly, if you …..
When we are engaged in blind compassion, we rarely show any anger, for we not only believe that compassion has to be gentle, but we also are frightened of upsetting anyone, especially to the point of their confronting us. This is reinforced by our judgment of anger, especially in its more fiery forms, as something less than spiritual; something to be equated with ill will, hostility, and aggression; something that should not be there if we were being truly loving. In blind compassion we don’t know how to — or won’t learn how to — say “no” with any real power, avoiding confrontation at all costs and, as a result, …..
The healing between men and women — and men and men (and women and women) — has the capacity to revolutionize relationship on a significant scale, but only if it goes to a sufficiently deep level. More than cosmetic shifts are needed, more than superficial gains, more than dips in self-help literature and seminars, more than attendance at men’s groups. Without a saner, deeper bonding between intimate partners, dysfunctional associations will continue to dominate the relational landscape, along with all the compensatory activity — ranging from apathy to violent acting-out — that inevitably accompanies such dysfunction.The shift required is from fragmentation to wholeness, from frozen yesterday to fluidly alive now, from …..