Awakening is not about deleting or transcending human emotions, for how would the ocean transcend a single wave, and how would the sun transcend one of its beloved sunbeams? It’s about seeing that every emotion – from joy to despair, bliss to boredom, agony to ecstasy – is only a movement of life energy, actually a movement of yourself, a wave in your vastness. No emotion is a threat, an enemy, or a punishment. Every emotion is an invitation to remember your vastness, rest in your oceanic nature. You are on a pathless path of radical inclusion, friend, and there are no mistakes here.
– Jeff Foster
It’s not the end of the world. Just the end of a dream.
Let your heart break today. Feel your feelings. Your disappointment, anger, fear. Let all thoughts, pictures in the mind, voices in the head, have their say, and know they are only new dreams trying to take root.
And feel your feet on the ground. Bring attention back to the here and now. To yourself. Feel the morning sun on your face. The breath rising and falling. Hear the sounds all around you. The bird singing. The television blaring. The traffic, the chatter of children.
So much here remains unchanged. So much here is familiar. Life goes on. The sense of being alive. The throb and pulse of being. Your ability to love, to hold yourself in presence. To connect with others, friends and strangers. To embrace difficult sensations.
Don’t abandon yourself for a chaotic world. Recommit to your path today with even greater ferocity. Nothing is so bad when you stay close to the place where you are. Nothing is so bad when you touch your own power. Presence itself.
– Jeff Foster
When we stop distracting ourselves, and courageously dive into the heart of any feeling, positive or negative, light or dark, right or wrong, we rediscover the vast ocean of who we are. For every feeling is made of unspeakable intelligence, and no feeling is a mistake. And we are vast enough to hold it all.
– Jeff Foster
Love does not always feel safe because love is pure potential and pure presence and in pure presence every feeling and impulse is welcome, however gentle, however painful, however inconvenient, however fierce.
So when you let someone matter to you and you let yourself matter to someone and you are not ruled by fear your heart will have no choice but to crack to the hugeness of love and you will not be able to control the results and that’s why the ego cannot love.
Safe, unsafe. Happy, sad. Certain, uncertain. Afraid, fearless. Fragile, powerful. Worthy, worthless, and everything in between. There is so much life now trying to fill you up, and you can barely contain it all. You are full of life, penetrated by life, pregnant with life.
They lied to you about love, you see, they said it was always supposed to feel good and warm and happy, they said it was something you’d be given, something you’d have to earn, or deserve, they said it was all butterflies and angels and light, but really it was always you, naked, raw and alive, cracked, whole, vulnerable, shaky but real, inhaling a cosmos, exhaling euphoria and the darkness and the grief and the joy of humanity and sometimes not knowing what the hell you’re doing or how you’re still alive.
Good. Breathe. All is unfolding beautifully, here. Love is not only gain, it is also loss. The beloveds will die and the loved ones will vanish, but love will not. She will simply make you rise, you see, and fall again, and wonder again if you will ever rise. She will open you and close you and break you and humble you and laugh at your childhood fantasies of love.
But it is all natural, and it is all for you. You will come full circle before long, back to yourself, the Origin. You were only ever seeking your own Heart, and its multitude of reflections.
Love is here. Love is always here. Somewhere between the euphoria and the darkness she found you. And the very ground you stand on is blessed, and you are safe.
So cry, laugh, shake, vomit; you will never be abandoned by the Heart.
– Jeff Foster
Rejoice, you’ll be dead soon.
That means that every moment from now on is more precious, more worthy of your full attention, your loving presence, your gratitude.
The dream of ‘more time’ can make us complacent, send us to sleep.
The shock of realising our absolute impermanence can wake us up.
Come on. Be sillier today. Let your heart pound and be penetrated today. Make a fool of yourself today. Give up the hope of finding happiness in the future, and break open into the happiness of this holy day, this only day.
You don’t need more time to be present. You’ve been given another day. Life is a gift.
– Jeff Foster
Any image of the future is an image, and that’s the only place I can find the future. When these images are invested with energy – when they are unconsciously associated with sensations in the body – they seem real. They make the future seem real to us, and a particular future seem real. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s understandable and is even helpful to some extent. And at some point, we are invited to take a closer look. When I recognize that my images of the future
First, I may recognize that my images of the future are images while they still have a charge to them. They may be seen as images, and felt as more real and solid than that. Then, as I separate out the images and the sensations, and examine each at a time (and take time to feel and allow the sensations), the two may separate more naturally and the charge of the images lessen or releases more completely. My images of the future are recognized as images, and since the charge is less or not there anymore, they also don’t feel so real and solid, or they don’t feel real and solid at all.
This is an ongoing exploration. Images about the future come up. They may feel real or have a charge. I explore them with gentle curiosity. Something shifts and something in me becomes more aligned with what’s actually there. (Images and sensations.) And then something else may come up I am curious about, including images about the future.
I also wanted to say something about “the dream of ‘more time'” that can make us complacent. When our images of the future seem real and solid, it’s easy to put off things into the future. When they are recognized as images, it’s actually easier to do things right now. After all, that’s all I have. If I want to love an unloved part of me, there is no time like the present. There is no time other than the present. If I want to rest with what’s here and notice it’s all already presence, there is no time like now. And that’s the same with anything else. Of course, this goes along with a trust that if something is important, and it’s not happening now, it will happen in “another” present. (Aka in the future.) And if it doesn’t, that’s OK too.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts and intentions, despite your incredible ‘spiritual progress’, you just feel like shit.
So, feel like shit! Where is the problem, in actuality, when you dive fearlessly into the heart of that unique experience?
Feel like shit, but consciously so! Dive in, knowingly!
And discover that ‘feeling like shit’ can be the most spiritual feeling of all, a fresh (and much misunderstood) gateway to grace, as sacred as the most profound joy, as alive as the creation of a universe. No self-pity, no drama, no justifications, no seeking, just a raw, broken-open heart, a fresh wound re-opened in love, and no desire to escape it at all. You forge a new spirituality with your courage to remain in that broken place, infusing the sadness with your brilliant light.
Perhaps this will save the world: brothers and sisters courageous enough to feel like shit consciously, without numbing themselves or turning away from the pain.
Warriors of shit. Shit warriors. Let’s start a revolution.
– Jeff Foster
For most of us, this goes against our familiar patterns and it can seem quite scary. Do it anyway. Do it as an experiment.
What happens if I allow myself to feel like shit? Notice how I feel. Feel it. Allow it. Notice any fears or resistance coming up. Feel that too. Allow that too. Allow all of it as it is. Do it even for a moment. For a few seconds. Perhaps a few minutes. Try it out.
As Jeff Foster says, there is a relief in this, opening to joy, aliveness, and grace. There is an alignment with reality and what we are which opens for all of this. What we are – and reality – already allows how we feel and any fears about it. When
There is an alignment with reality and what we are which opens for all of this. What we are – and reality – already allows how we feel and any fears about it. When we consciously align with it, there is a deep relief.
What we are already allows and is whatever our experience happens to be, including feeling like shit. When we get caught in ideas that our experience should be different, we get into struggle with what we are and reality. So when we instead allows it as it is, and consciously align more with what we are and reality, there is a deep relief. And it opens for aliveness, joy, gratitude, receptivity, a deepening into our humanity, a deepening connection with ourselves, and all humans and all life.
A true healer does not heal you; she simply reflects back to you your innate capacity to heal. She is a reflector, or a loving transparency.
A true teacher does not teach you; she does not see you as inherently separate from her, or less than her. She simply reflects back your own inner knowing, and reminds you of the vastness of your being. She is a mirror, a signpost.
And love is the space in which all of this is possible; love heals, and we learn best in a loving field, no threat of failure, no punishment.
– Jeff Foster
Your heart is broken. You no longer feel at home. The world as you know it is crumbling. You feel you have lost something very precious to you, something that defined you, something that made you “you.” It feels like a part of you missing. Life doesn’t seem fair, kind, right, or even real anymore. You long to escape, to move away. To rewind to the way things were or to fast-forward to how things could be. You feel disconnected, lonely, lost, beyond help. You feel nobody could possibly understand, for nobody stands where you stand.
You feel like you are standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Stop. Breathe. Consider that this is exactly how things are supposed to be right now. This, this present scene, is life, not a violation of life.
A Universe cannot go “wrong.” Life only seems to go “wrong” in our thinking.
Come out of the movie of past and future, time and space, and turn to meet a sacred moment, this moment, the only moment there is.
Sense your own presence, here and now, so still, so stable amidst the chaos of the world. Feel the body pulsating, tingling, every part alive. Feel its heaviness, its weight, the way it is attracted to the ground, pulled downward toward the center of the Earth, giving itself to gravity. Feel the heart pulsing, the belly rising and falling. Feel the raw life that is here, enveloping you, filling you, animating you. Feel the pressure in your head, the fluttery sensations in your belly. Feel your feet on the ground, the way the air moves across your nostrils. Listen to the sounds appearing and disappearing all around you.
Know that the next step can only be taken from here, where you are, the true ground of all grounds. Relax into not knowing what the next step will be before it is actually taken. Trust that you cannot trust right now; the next step will appear in its own time.
The true path will emerge; it always does. Be here, now.
Your heart may be broken, friend, your old dreams may have crumbled to dust, but you’re always in the right place for life.
– Jeff Foster
In reality, your world is set up so that nothing happens to you, but everything happens for you – for your awakening, for your growth, for your inspiration, for your exploration – even if you forget that, or sometimes cannot see it, or sometimes fall into distraction and despair. When there is no fixed destination, you cannot ever lose your destination, so you cannot ever lose your path, so nothing that happens in your life can take you off your path. Your path IS what happens, and what happens IS your path. There is no other.
Everything is a gift on this unbreakable path that you call your life – the laughter, the tears, the times of great sorrow, the experiences of profound loss, the pain, the confusion, the times you believe you’ll never make it, even the overwhelming heartbreak of love – even if you forget that sometimes, or cannot see that sometimes, or lose faith absolutely in the entire show sometimes. But even the loss of faith in the show is part of the show, and even the scene where ‘something goes wrong’ is not indicative of the show going wrong, and so you are always exactly where you need to be, believe it or not, even if you are not. Life can be trusted absolutely, even when trust seems a million light-years away, and life cannot go wrong, for all is life, and life is all. Understand this, know it in your heart, and spirituality is profoundly simple, as simple as breathing, as natural as gazing up at the stars at night and falling into silent wonder.
The universe is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
– Jeff Foster
OUR NEW SPIRITUALITY
Throughout these precious years I have come to discover that our humanness is not ‘less than’ our divine nature; it is her expression and her fulfilment.
Spiritual awakening has very little to do with transcending thoughts and feelings, denying our vulnerable humanity and attempting to escape into some state of pure awareness, some higher realm, some other dream.
Instead, we bow to our sorrow, embrace it tenderly in our arms. We hold our doubts close as we walk the path of today. We see the sacredness in our fear, the joy in our confusion, the freedom in our anger. We bow to life in all her forms, not just the ‘pretty’ ones.
The most alive people I have ever met are actually the most human. The most ‘awake’ ones often talk little of spirituality. Often they are not the teachers, spouting stale words about the separate self, the ‘truth’, and making promises of happiness they cannot actually live.
In my humble view, the most ‘awake’ ones are the ones who have cultivated a deep warm compassion within, a profound self-kindness, and who radiate that delicious empathy into the world.
One foot in awareness, the other foot dancing and playing in the glorious mess of relative existence; courageous enough to receive both ecstasy and agony with the same kind of humility.
I know no spirituality that is unwilling to bow to the broken heart and saturate it with attention, breath; to flood the darkness with light.
So we are no longer numb.
So we can meet each other in the fire.
– Jeff Foster
If you feel sad, just feel sad.
Make room for sadness, today.
Soften around it.
Don’t reject it, numb it.
No need to spin a drama around it either.
Breathe into the heart of sadness.
Drench the belly, heart, throat and head with oxygen.
Let the sensations of sadness tingle, flutter, pulsate and throb.
Let sadness be alive, in this moment.
Know it will pass.
Know it is never a mistake.
You are not sad, you are not ‘the sad one’, you are the home for sadness, this ancient and supremely intelligent energy. You are the container, never the contained, never identified, never at war with feeling.
Be the embrace of sadness, its sanctuary, its great Invitation.
– Jeff Foster
Conflict in relationship is not a sign of failure.It is inevitable, just as pain as inevitable in the body.
Pain is not the problem; it is our relationship with pain that defines the quality of our connection.
Are we willing to connect, despite the pain?
Are we willing to let our hearts break together?
Each instance of conflict is an opportunity.
For misunderstandings to be brought into the light.
For recognising the places where we have stopped listening to ourselves, and to each other.
Where we go into fantasy, where we dissociate from the living truth.
Where we blame each other for our own unhappiness.
Where we blame ourselves.
Where we forget our true nature.
In conflict, we can come together, or we can be driven apart.
A wound has cracked open, and wants some loving attention.
Conflict is inviting us to growth, to know our triggers more clearly.
To touch the parts of ourselves we have been pushing down, the thoughts we have been suppressing, the feelings we have been denying, the truth we have been running from.
We must go beyond this dualistic language of ‘failure’ and ‘success’, and return to the living truth of the moment.
A relationship that seems conflict-free may simply be a relationship of quiet desperation, two held-back hearts holding terrible secrets, bodies numb to pleasure and pain, agony and ecstasy.
Two unhappy people, addicted to each other, afraid to share their truth, afraid to lose each other, clinging to comfort and an old dream of security…
And all in the name of ‘love’!
Bound by the image, numb to pain, blind to the depths of presence.
Love is a risk, a challenge; a journey, never a destination.
And love will destroy every single concept you have about ‘love’.
Sometimes healing involves the upsurge of uncomfortable feelings.
Sometimes breaking free involves feeling more pain.
Sometimes when we avoid conflict, when we hold back from truth, conflict only buries itself more deeply in our bodies.
We are traumatised, but we claim we are ‘happy’, and relationship becomes an image instead of an aliveness.
Conflict is inevitable, but if there is love, we are willing to work through the conflict together, to share honestly, and to listen with the fullness of our being.
To feel our pain, and listen to the pain of the other.
To let go of our dreams, and fantasies, and futures, and meet each other, almost as strangers, in the Here and Now.
So conflict becomes the fertiliser, and trust can take root.
So conflict is not ‘negative’, but opportunity and opening.
To begin again. Yes. To begin.
Love as a beginning. Love as a curiosity.
Love as a great mystery that helps us find each other in the darkness, a great beacon of safety and presence.
Love not as clinging, love not even as letting go, but love as connection, authenticity, listening, the courage to be vulnerable.
To hear, and be heard.
To see, and be seen.
– Jeff Foster
When you’re feeling angry, just feel angry.
Don’t try to ‘not feel angry’; you’ll only split yourself in two,
and end up attacking, or repressing, in your quest for relief.
Don’t think about feeling angry, then.
Just feel angry.
Be present with the raw, fiery, burning sensations
in the belly, chest, throat, head.
Invite loving attention deep into the volcanic heart of anger.
Let the sensations tingle, pulsate, vibrate, flutter.
Breathe into them, soften around them.
Dignify their existence.
Drop the word ‘anger’ now; simply connect with what’s alive.
Be the room for the fiery sensations, their loving embrace.
Know that these sensations aren’t a mistake;
you’re not doing anything wrong.
Anger is not ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ or ‘unspiritual’,
or a sign of your weakness.
You are alive. And you have a right to ALL your feelings.
You need not act on them, and please don’t push them down.
But simply stand with anger; be its loving parent, not its victim.
Breathe into it, let it move. It will not stay long.
It comes to cleanse, not to destroy.
It comes to remind you of your tremendous power.
So be kind to your anger;
It is only trying
to protect you from harm.
– Jeff Foster
Who will love you
when everyone disappears
(including the ones
never to disappear).
Who will be there
when the surfaces have gone,
when the walls have crumbled,
when the horizon has fallen.
Who will embrace you
when you feel unembraceable,
unworthy, far from home.
Who will stay
when the world has fled,
when its armies have retreated,
when the darkness has descended.
When even Orpheus will not go down.
Who will keep every promise.
Who will never turn away.
Who will not die, nor turn absent.
Who will walk each step with you.
Hand in hand.
Never behind, never ahead.
Never judgemental of your constant evolution.
The One you longed for,
The One you always sought,
The One who lived in your heart for a billion years
was always yourself,
naked, open, present, aflame.
Too close to name.
Too near to find.
You are never lonely
when you are with yourself.
– Jeff Foster
Just to sit, without expectation, with someone who is in grief or fear or loneliness or despair, without trying to fix them in any way, or manipulate their experience to match your idea of how it should be; just to listen, without playing the role of ‘expert’ or ‘enlightened guru’ or ‘the one who knows best’; just to be totally available to the one in front of you, and to walk with them through the fire, to hold their hand when they are broken – this is how we begin to heal each other through love.
Beyond our roles, unprotected, unresolved, undefended, we truly meet.
– Jeff Foster
Lose a few friends.
Offend a few people.
Say no if you mean no.
Say yes if you mean yes.
Nice little boys and girls
never win mommy’s love anyway.
They only become beggars.
Stop trying to do it right.
Do it real instead.
You don’t have to win love.
Only live it.
Weep. Wail. Laugh like you did when you were young and didn’t care what people thought about you.
Speak your truth without apology.
Let your heart break.
Let your certainties crumble.
Be a blubbering mess on the ground of love.
Life is too short to hold it all together.
You have longed to fall apart.
You will lose ‘safety’
but you will feel
– Jeff Foster
Stop trying to heal yourself, fix yourself,
even awaken yourself.
Stop trying to Fast-Forward the movie of your life.
Let go of ‘letting go’.
Healing is not a destination.
Your pain, your sorrow, your doubts, your longings,
your fearful thoughts: they are not mistakes,
and they aren’t asking to be ‘healed’.
They are asking to be held. Here, now, lightly,
in the loving, healing arms of present awareness…
– Jeff Foster
Your sadness doesn’t say, “Please fix me, heal me, or release me”. It doesn’t say, “Please get rid of me, numb yourself to me, pretend I’m not here”. It certainly doesn’t say, “Please get enlightened so I can die!”.
Sadness does not come to punish you, or reveal to you what a ‘spiritual failure’ you are. Sadness is not a sign that you are unevolved or far from healing, awakening, enlightenment, even peace. The presence of sadness is not an indication that you’ve done something wrong.
Sadness only whispers, “May I come in? I am tired, I long for rest”.
And you reply, “But sadness, I don’t know how to allow you in!”
And sadness replies, “It’s okay. You don’t need to know. I’m already in”.
And we bow to sadness then, we recognise how it’s already allowed in, how there’s enough room in us for sadness, how we are not ‘the sad one’, not contained within sadness, but the room for sadness, its space, its home, its salvation, its loving embrace; not as a goal, but as our nature – consciousness itself, already free.
Don’t heal yourself from sadness; let sadness heal you. Let it show you the way when you have forgotten. Let it reveal to you the mysteries of love. Let it remind you of your vast heart, your refusal to split off from any part of your ancient Self, that bigger Happiness you danced when you were young.
– Jeff Foster
Thought will never be happy. By nature thought is restless, ever-changing, always seeking something it cannot quite reach. Even when it resolves a problem, the next problem soon pops up. You fix one thing in your life, and the next thing breaks.
Thought is always trying to complete the story of ‘me’, fix it, wrap it up neatly, bring it to a conclusion, take the Me Movie to some kind of resolution, some perfect ‘final scene’, but the story is endless and has no conclusion, since all form is impermanent and subject to change, and the search just keeps going and going…
Thought will never find the permanence it craves. Thought will never be happy, even when it momentarily concludes that “I am happy”. That is its nature.
And so, perhaps, at some point, there is a kind of disillusionment with thought altogether, a loss of faith in it, a distrust of its supremacy. Attention turns away from thought, away from that which is relentless and restless and always changing, and towards YOU.
There is something here, prior to thought, that is ever-present, and always and already at rest, and silently watching and holding thought as it struggles for permanence and happiness. That which sees thought is not itself made of thought.
You are the loving space in which thought arises. You are aware of thought, so you are not made of thought, or bound to it. You tenderly hold thought as it wears itself out looking for home. You are thought’s embrace, not its enemy. You are its mother, not its son.
Thought will never be happy, but what can be remembered is this effort-free happiness – otherwise known as You – in which thought is allowed to come and go, this natural embrace of all waves in life’s vast ocean. Who you are, beyond even concepts of happiness and unhappiness, is unlimited and ever-present, and even thought’s exhausting search for something it cannot name is deeply allowed to come and go in your limitlessness.
You have always been at rest, friend. Your true nature IS rest. And the fact that thought will never be happy is your perfect disillusionment… and your perfect liberation.
– Jeff Foster
Do whatever makes you feel passionately alive.
Find a way, however much you have to struggle at first,
of making a living from truly living.
Honour your unique talents and abilities,
your God-given gifts and sensitivities.
Do what moves you and connects you
to the deepest truth of yourself and the universe.
Trust prosperity and passion over profit and comfort,
and do not seek primarily the approval of others,
because all the approval in the world is empty
if it’s for something your heart isn’t really in.
Risk everything for what you love,
for what makes you feel alive,
because life is short, and never serious,
and nothing of any true value can be destroyed.
– Jeff Foster
I was speaking to a young man who was dealing with severe anxiety. None of the ‘cures for anxiety’ he had been offered had worked for him. I asked him to stop trying to fix his anxiety, just for a moment. I invited him to stop imagining a future filled with anxiety or even free from anxiety, and to meet what was actually here, right now. I invited him to drop the label ‘anxiety’, to let go of that word, to come out of his story of past and future and look at his present experience with fresh eyes. What thoughts and sensations were appearing presently?
Lots of thoughts buzzing around, he said. Lots of mental activity. What did he feel in his body? I invited him to contact the body directly. Intense fluttery sensations in the stomach and chest. I asked him if, just for a moment, he could allow all that activity – thoughts and sensations – to be there, something he had never tried before, because he had been too busy fighting his ‘anxiety’; a fight which, of course, had increased his anxiety. Instead of fighting the sensations in the stomach, could he drop all labels, all judgements, all descriptions, and recognize himself as the vast open space in which these sensations were allowed to come and go? Could he be friendly to these sensations, just for a moment?
He started to feel some space around what he had previously been calling ‘anxiety’. He was aware of the anxiety, he was conscious of it, so it couldn’t truly define who we was. He was no longer trapped in the feelings. He was bigger than anxiety. He could hold it, surround it, embrace it. And the thoughts too, he was bigger than those. He was not trapped inside them – he was the space for them.
He had been able to turn towards his anxiety, and had used it as a guru, to help him remember his true vastness. He had discover that, in truth, there was no ‘anxious person’, simply thoughts and sensations, arising in presence, that had been labelled as ‘anxiety’ and then rejected. He was not a victim of anxiety – he was its loving parent, able to hold it as it was born and died. His anxiety didn’t need to be ‘cured’ – it needed to be met.
Vastness in the midst of anxiety- the last place you’d ever think to look!
– Jeff Foster
Heaven is this moment.
Hell is the burning desire
for this moment to be different.
It’s that simple.
– Jeff Foster
Heaven is this moment, as it is. And when I (appear to) consciously allow it – when I sink into the experience, when I notice it’s already allowed – it’s revealed as that.
A part of me thinks and feels that this moment needs to change. It’s not good enough. It’s unpleasant. It may even appear unbearable. Another part knows that it’s OK, and that resting with it allows it to reveal more of itself. (In the softening, there is a quiet delight.)
In my short time on this planet, I have known great sorrow, plunged into the depths of oceanic despair, been thrown so deeply into my loneliness that I thought I would never return. I have tasted the ecstatic joys of meditation, the fierce intimacy of love, the savage pains of heartbreak, the excitement of unexpected success and the blows of sudden failure. There were times when I thought I’d never make it, times when my dreams had been shattered so thoroughly I couldn’t imagine how life could ever go on. Yet it went on, and sometimes I found humility within the devastation, and out of the ashes of imagined futures often grew new and present joys, and no experience was ever wasted.
I have come to trust life completely, trust even the times when I forget how to trust at all, trust that life doesn’t always go according to plan, because there is no plan, only life, and even the times of great uncertainty hold supreme intelligence, and sometimes you have to fall to stand more fearlessly, with greater kindness.
And somehow I am always held, in a way I cannot explain and do not want to. I may be crushed yet again before too long, I may experience further seemingly insurmountable challenges and heartbreaks, but somehow I am always held. Somehow I am always held.
– Jeff Foster
Some of the greatest therapists and healers I’ve ever known have no diplomas, no qualifications, no letters after their names. They have written no books, and you won’t find them being interviewed on TV chat shows. But they are so effortlessly compassionate, able to listen deeply without prejudice, willing to hold the most intense energies in their unshakeable presence. With their loving attention, the unacceptable can move into a space of acceptance, traumatic material can re-emerge without shame, the darkness can come into the light, be felt fully and integrated in a space of safety and kinship, without fear. They are as comfortable with silence as they are with the most heart-breaking personal stories. There is no sense of “I am the expert with all the answers”, no image of themselves as the great saviours of mankind or enlightened gurus. These unknown, undiscovered Buddhas are the therapists and teachers of the future, humanity’s hope, and they may not even know it.
– Jeff Foster
Friend, I know your heart is broken, I know the future seems unclear to you, I know you feel the absence of answers right now, I know you feel a terrible longing for something you cannot name.
But let’s begin where we are. Let’s not focus on the thousands of steps that will come on the path, but the place where we stand on the path right now. And there is only now.
Know that many others have gone through what you are going through, and remember that sometimes it seems darkest before the dawn.
But instead of longing for the dawn, and rejecting the darkness, let us touch the dark parts with gentleness and light. Let us meet what is here, not rush towards what is not yet here.
For even the darkest cave may contain treasure, and even the most intense and uncomfortable feelings may actually contain strange medicine.
Walk your path courageously, friend, and know that loved ones walk with you.
– Jeff Foster
Conflict in relationship begins when we forget our own presence, and therefore forget the living presence of the other. We reduce the aliveness of the loved one to a mental image – a judgement, category, label – and we end up confusing who they really are with who we THINK they are. The labels and judgements are so dead: “You are wrong. You are stupid. You are insensitive. You are crazy. You are unkind. Your heart is not open. You are so unenlightened”. They reduce the other to a thought-created ‘thing’, and we forget their immediate, living, vibrant presence. We engage in a war of images, and stop listening.
Conflict in relationship can end when we remember the presence of the other, their humanity, and therefore remember our own. We feel the other’s presence as our own intimate presence, making the other not an ‘other’ at all. We see them as a brother or sister on the path. We understand that they are not there to complete us, save us, fix us, make us happy, bring us inner peace or meet all our needs, nor are they a threat to our inner peace and alignment. We listen deeply, allowing them to have their experience, honouring what moves in their depths, feeling compassion, but never pity, for their pain and unmet frustrations. We do not try to fix, change or manipulate them, and we do not judge them as right or wrong, good or bad, ugly or beautiful. We don’t reward or punish, but listen more deeply than we’ve ever listened before. And if we listen very carefully, we may just hear ourselves, meet our own broken hearts, feel our own longings, see our face in their face, and lose all interest in violence of any kind.
~ Jeff Foster
Face it. Your life is never going to work out.
That is, the story of your life is always going to be imperfect. That’s the nature of story – always incomplete, always searching for a conclusion, always bound to time and change.
In the movie of your life, thing won’t always go according to plan. People won’t always understand you. They will mishear, misquote, and misrepresent you. They will form their own ideas and opinions about you, no matter how clearly you try to represent yourself. Your success can turn to failure. Your wealth can turn to poverty. The ones you love can leave you. Problems that get fixed can lead to new problems. No matter how much you have, you can have more, or lose more. It’s never going to work out in the story of “my life”. And even if it does work out, whatever that means to you, you will still be here, in this moment, now. This is the only place where things can ‘work out’, if they ever do.
In actuality, things have already worked out, beyond the story. For in this moment, in reality, there is already no goal, no image of perfection, no comparison, no ‘should’ or ‘should not’, and the thoughts, sensations, feelings, sounds and smells appearing right now are entirely appropriate, wonderfully fitting and beautifully timely for this moment in the movie of your life.
Without a script, how can this moment go off script? Without a plan, how can life not go according to plan? Without a path, how can you stray from the path?
Realising that your life is never going to work out, and that it cannot ever work out, and that it isn’t ever supposed to work out, is the greatest relief, and brings the greatest ease, drawing you deeply into the sacredness of things as they actually are. Your life may be an imperfect mess, but it is an imperfect mess that is perfectly divine – a work of sacred art, even if you forget that sometimes.
Humiliation turns to humility in the space of just a heartbeat, and all that’s left is to fall on your knees with gratitude for what is given, and what has not yet been taken away.
– Jeff Foster From ‘Falling In Love With Where You Are’ (Non-Duality Press)
We label everything and everyone – the plants, the animals, the stars, even our own intimate feelings. “Sadness”, we call it. “Anger”. “Fear”. “Boredom”. “Confusion”. These are second-hand words picked up when we were young. But underneath the labels, prior to the abstract language, there is a profoundly alive mystery here, unspeakable, unable to be captured by thought. Without our mind-made descriptions of experience, do we really have any way of knowing what we are experiencing?
Take away the label ‘sadness’, and what is alive here? Take away the description ‘anger’, and what is this raw, passionate energy we feel? Stop calling an emotion ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, and what happens? Come back to the raw sensation of life, the present-moment dance of the body. What is this unfiltered, dynamic, raw life energy? Can we touch life before the labels? Who would touch it? Who would be separate from it? This is the river of life, my friends, sacred, intimate, familiar, and we are inseparable from its flow. Every thought, sensation, feeling, image, is infused with the mystery of universes.
– Jeff Foster