Oh, the things I’ve done to secure love and happiness outside myself! Waking to the folly of it all, I can’t help but to laugh out loud. And in that laughter, something relaxes. So let us not take ourselves too seriously, lest we lose the thread of wonder and laughter. May you find inspiration in these musings on identity, intimacy, love, peace, happiness and the truth the Heart knows, which never fails us if we only pause long enough to listen.
Image: Marc Chagall
“Pema here. I gladly offer this perennial wisdom to you,
with wee commentary by Krayna. May you take all this to heart:”
1. Pema: The mundane details of our life eat us up. Therefore it is important to keep asking ourselves again and again: What is the most important thing? Since death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing? Let that perspective be your guide.
KC: I don’t want my parting shot in this life to be all about whether I got the crap on my “to-do” list done. How about you? Asking, “what’s important?” is a great question to help us become sane, clear and grounded.
2. Pema: Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. At the gut level, you might want to go for the most comfortable thing. Go for the stretch. Sometimes the stretch is to stay, sometimes to go. Sometimes to say, Yes, sometimes to say, No. You don’t always know. The key is being willing to go through the shedding and unmasking process.
KC: The comfortable or safe is the status quo. Sure, some of that’s okay, but only to a point. Otherwise, you’re reduced to living in a real small, stale room. Discovering the immensity of your being comes from the streeeeetch, not the status quo, yo.
3. Pema: Rest in the insecurity. Remember that when we lose ground we habitually panic and look for something solid to hold onto: that’s a description of suffering. Go at your own pace. And don’t push it. But continue to train in resting with insecurity.
KC: Truth: no one really knows what’s going to happen, though we pretend we do. How often have you “lost ground” cuz things didn’t go as you’d imagined, the plan went awry, or your honey ran off with the circus? Find ease with ambiguity and you’ll begin to truly relax, like Pema. Is this not the face of happiness?
4. Pema: Don’t believe everything you think. If you can follow this advice, you will be in good shape.
KC: Righto! Can we lighten up, take thoughts and fears less seriously? They are, after all, impermanent, ethereal as clouds, ever-changing. What I know is that if I’m suffering, that’s a call to investigate the very nature of the fears we take so seriously. I’m down with that.
5. Pema: Take exactly what appears as your path.
KC: What happens through the course of the day, or my life, is not a detour; that IS the path. Whatever happens or doesn’t, is the path. How I meet what shows up is the key. Good to have a key, right?
“Peace, out. Love you!”
“Silence is the language of God’s Infinite Being. All else is poor translation.”
Imagine for a moment dropping all your hopes for Love and what it will give you. Clearly, anything we hope for isn’t here presently. Where does that leave us? Fixated on an imagined future where we’re finally fulfilled. Consequently, we overlook what’s here. We live in denial of our present experience, of Reality.
Chasing after or trying to negotiate Love, we never know Love. We’ve innocently swallowed ideas that we can find and keep Love, we need to be deserving of Love, that the words “till death do us part” will make us secure, that Love can be nailed down with mutually agreed upon expectations. Let’s take Love out of the box we’ve learned to put it in.
Here’s a contemplation for the Heart. It’s not a theory, not something for the mind to figure out. Thoughts cannot understand. Fortunately, another intelligence can guide us.
It means, however, abandoning all hope for a better future – all beliefs you’re certain are right, correct and true. It will mean emptying yourself of everything you think you are – you can have all that stuff back if you like. For now though, give Love a chance. Are you willing?
Get comfy. Let your mind and body settle.
Now, slowly begin to empty yourself….of opinions….fears…. judgments….assumptions………
Empty yourself….of past experiences….memories….future projections….hopes…………..
Empty yourself….of even the desire for peace….understanding….truth….love….enlightenment…………..
Just let it all go for now.
Keep subtracting….empty yourself of concerns for reputation….money…..to-do lists….plans…………..
Empty yourself….of your name…..and all other identifiers…..your reputation…………………
Empty empty empty…………..enter silence………….
None of this is original to you. It’s all been added on. Can you let it all go, let it be? Don’t rush, please.
Once you are simply here, empty of those conventional reference points, ask yourself…………….
“What’s left that cannot be taken away? What remains that cannot leave me?”
Don’t try to imagine what’s left without ideas about yourself, others, the world. Just notice what is here….without trying to figure it out. What’s here that cannot leave you? Nothing that’s here one minute and gone the next can ever give you the Love you yearn for. Never ever. Stay with the inquiry.
Don’t believe emptiness is scary or boring or anything else the mind makes up….stay with the inquiry.
Knowing Love, not as a feeling or concept, is to know the unsayable, simple truth your original nature, call it whatever you like. All else is added. Another word for this Aware-Presence is Love. Remember yourself as Love.
Given the force of habit and power of conventional beliefs, it’s not always easy loving life as it is, for that’s what Love does. That’s why we empty every day, again and again. Otherwise, we suffocate the spontaneous aliveness that is our natural way.
You are the sky, indivisible, eternal, empty and full, in which everything appears without leaving a ripple. What is here that cannot ever leave you? There is nothing more Real than this.
Fourteen years ago, my ex-husband and I divorced after a three year separation. No lawyers, no bitterness, no drama. That’s not to say it was easy peasy; it wasn’t. Nevertheless, we did uncouple with grace. Our parting was honorable, imbued with deep appreciation, love and unexpected blessings.
That experience engendered the birth of radically new perspectives for me about life, love and relationships that unfold to this day. I want to share this message because it could relieve a great deal of suffering: the same possibility that was open to me is open to anyone who’s up for the invitation to uncouple with grace, by which I mean parting in love.
Let me be clear: parting in love is not a belief or a feeling, not always sweet, not putting on a happy face. I didn’t always feel generous or loving in my separation and divorce process. But I realized to uncouple in defensiveness meant I’d keep schlepping around the same confusion and fears I schlepped around in my marriage.
So this isn’t a bunch of fluff. Uncoupling is a provocative process. I reckoned with erroneous beliefs and painful expectations about love and relationship throughout that long, poignant time. I struggled mightily with the fact that, try as I might, I couldn’t work that stuff out within myself, nor with my ex, while we were married. But that rough terrain was an incredible impetus for me to open up, touch into deeper truths, and get real with myself.
Not surprisingly, I have an affinity for people who are struggling and want to uncouple with grace. Divorce* is among the more gnarly of life transitions. The cultural norm to become adversaries is encouraged. At worst, and not uncommonly, we fortify righteous positions, duke it out (quietly or loudly), stonewall, put kids in the middle, use money as weaponry. At the least, we carry burdensome resentments into subsequent relationships.
Perhaps we can understand these defensive postures as attempts to avoid vulnerability, fear or shame we’ve carried around for eons. Or to avoid feeling the tenderness that parting with love evokes. Or we align the common idea that we need to be angry in order to part ways. This dangerous message guarantees suffering.
So let’s pause: what if…..uncoupling were seen as a call to emancipate love and dignity from the tangled, unconscious contracts and beliefs that we’ve subscribed to? Uncoupling with grace entails a dedicated investigation into all notions we assume are true about love and partnership. It means coming to a genuine understanding that projection, blame and judgment are all symptoms of ancient pain and confusion we’ve never fully turned toward…..and then doing just that. I’ve witnessed these remarkable moments, when people crossed a threshold into greater transparency, authenticity and integrity. Imagine the commitment and dedication this takes!
A more demanding route, yet one that’s honorable and rich beyond measure. Because uncoupling can be an evocation for grace, resilience and clarity. The commitment to part in love arouses a dignity we can trust to guide us. Lord knows, we need something stronger than fear to face hard conversations, regrets, sadness, anger or self-recrimination. Certainly, dignity ennobles us to thank our partners, who we can now appreciate as catalytic agents for our maturation and healing.
For most of us, such partings require sustained, holistic inquiries into beliefs we’ve staunchly identified with, enabling us to:
* Realize relationships and agreements may change, but Love never goes away.
* Question the nature of our agreements and assumptions about love and relationship.
* Finally tell the truth of our experience without blame and judgment.
* Have fidelity to the dignity that orients us through the multifaceted dimensions of uncoupling.
There’s an irony here that’s not lost on my clients; they often express a renewal or feeling of love for one another. It’s not that love is newly present; rather, expectations about roles and relationships that veil love begin dropping away. As one man noted:
“Maybe it’s that she’s not ‘my spouse’ now, but things that used to get to me don’t anymore. I’ve also been taking a real look at the baggage I brought to marriage. I don’t know…but if we could have coupled in the way we’re uncoupling…wow.” Ultimately, though, what happened is the only thing that could have happened. That’s called Reality. Best to meet it as the generous teacher it is.
May you never put anyone out of your heart, least of all yourself, and end thus end your own suffering.
Avec amour, always, Krayna
* I use the terms “marriage” and “divorce” to refer to any long-term, committed relationship.