Jeff Foster: Take away the label ‘sadness’, and what is alive here?

 

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

Jeff Foster: To sit without expectation with someone

 

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

Jeff Foster: The Mess-I-ah

 

Before trying to fix, heal, delete or numb your sadness, your doubt, your longing, your anger, your uncertainty, give it a big hug. Honour its presence, now, even if it disappears overnight. Sit together awhile in this sacred moment, shooting the breeze.

Fall in love with the glorious mess of this moment, for even the mess is divine when held lovingly in your presence. Save yourself by not saving yourself. Become a mess-I-ah.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: When discomfort knocks

 

Just sitting with discomfort, without trying to escape or numb it in any way, without expectation, without a goal in mind, without seeking anything, including some abstract notion of ‘comfort’ – that’s the juicy place, the place of creative transformation, the place where newness shines.

For many years, I would just sit with grief, frustration, anger, fear, pain, loneliness, just resting in that bubbling, burning mess for hours and hours, without trying to escape or fix my experience, without hope, without a dream, without trying to ‘accept’, without time itself … until peace was discovered even in the midst of that storm, the unshakeable, non-conceptual, ever-present peace that I am, and have always been.

Instead of trying to escape discomfort, we let discomfort reveal its deeper secrets. We sit with discomfort and watch all boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘my discomfort’ melt away, until it is no longer ‘me sitting with my discomfort’ at all, and never was – there is only unspeakable embrace. We sit with frustration in the place where it has not yet coagulated into ‘I am frustrated’. We sit with fear prior to the resurrection of the image ‘I am the one who is afraid’. We sit with anger before the birth of our identity as ‘the angry one’. We know ourselves as the vast open space, the boundless and identity-less ocean that welcomes all of these waves, these raw, alive sensations and thoughts, as its beloved children, returned home at last, home at last.

Discomfort may just be our greatest guru, knocking at the door.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Sometimes even trying to ‘fix’, ‘accept’, or ‘heal’ something within ourselves can be a subtle form of resistance

 

Sometimes even trying to ‘fix’, ‘accept’, or ‘heal’ something within ourselves can be a subtle form of resistance!

The moment you make something ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, the moment you secretly want to get rid of something, no matter how beautiful your intention is (fixing, accepting, healing, meeting, loving, unconditionally embracing), you are already at war.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Breathe into the pain

 

Friend, you’ve tried absolutely everything except the obvious:

Doing absolutely nothing at all.

Stay with the thing you call “suffering”. Stay with the grief, the sorrow, the fear, the longing, the boredom. Take away the second-hand words and directly feel the raw, first-hand energy in the body, in the belly, the chest, the throat, as it vibrates, tingles, moves, expresses fully. Let the energy do its sacred, intelligent work. Don’t get in the way. Breathe deeply. Allow the breath to reach these unloved parts, to fill the ‘broken ones’ with oxygen, to dignify these lost and lonely visitors. The fact is, these energies are here only because they have already been allowed into the vastness of You. Dignify pain with the breath of life.

This moment is already shining, it’s already life, it’s already a welcome guest, dancing in your ever-present space. The mind wants to cling or resist, rewind or fast-forward this present scene – to push away the pain or cling to the pleasure. But take the radical step of taking no step at all. Do absolutely nothing right now except turning towards the very energy you have been trying to escape. Meet what is here as an ancient friend, not an enemy; a guide, not a block. See it as intelligent, not a ‘mistake’.

Be what you are, the deep allowing of all of life’s energies – both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ – the vast unchanging Room for the ever-shifting content of thought and feeling…

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Sometimes things fall apart to draw your attention to That which cannot

 

If you’ve tried everything, and nothing is working, trust that nothing is working.

Sometimes things fall apart to draw your attention to That which cannot.

– Jeff Foster

As someone else said, what you can lose wasn’t yours in the first place.

Yes, that’s what people say, and I see too. And yet, it’s often very painful.

And it can – as it does for me now – bring up a deep layer of anger at life. Anger over all the accumulated injustice of a lifetime.

All of this is an invitation to examine what’s really going on. What do I find when I examine my assumptions?

Does life conform to my ideas of justice? Is it true that life is unjust? Is it true that what happened is unjust?

Is what’s actually happening worse than what I wanted to happen? Can I know for certain? What are some examples of the reverse?

Is this really pain? Resistance? Anger?

Am I really unable to surrender? Would it be better if I surrendered more fully?

Is there really two here, me and life, me and God? Am I a victim of life?

Jeff Foster: Overwhelmingly Alive

 

People often tell me how their lives can feel overwhelming sometimes, how the waves in life’s ocean can be so intense that it feels like they will be destroyed if they go any further, and the only ‘solution’ seems to be to shut down and numb and distract themselves from their present experience, and then dream of a future freedom or awakening. Pain, fear, sadness, joy and bliss, can feel so huge, so unmanageably colossal, so intense or so intensely beautiful, it’s almost as if you’re about to die, about to be crushed by the weight of life, and it can be terrifying, to be on the verge of death like that.

Perhaps it’s not death we are afraid of, but too much life.

But as the ocean itself, as the vast space of consciousness that holds all of these beloved waves, you can never truly be destroyed, for you know that all of the waves are only movements of yourself, and cannot actually hurt you in your essence. A wave cannot overwhelm the water, a storm cannot destroy the sea, a teardrop cannot cry itself, and grounded in this knowing, we can expand rather than contract, we can actually open up to the possibility of allowing ourselves to feel totally overwhelmed beyond reason, whilst knowing deeply that we can never be truly overwhelmed, and that if we ever did reach that point, the vast and creative and loving intelligence of the body would render us unconscious instantly.

And so we can fearlessly open ourselves up to both the pain and bliss of life, incorporating all of it into ourselves, knowing that it can never truly overwhelm us, trusting the intelligence of the body, so that even the darkest places become flooded with the light of ourselves, and loss transmutes into love, and pain transmutes into compassion, and “seek and ye shall find”, that most ingrained of concepts, transmutes lovingly into “stop seeking, child, rest deeply in yourself, now, and ye shall be found…”

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Life is here to break your heart over and over

 

Life is here to break your heart over and over again until you realise that heartbreak is life too… and then your heart can no longer be broken, or fixed. And you stand naked in front of life, moment by moment, knowing that whatever happens is totally okay even in the midst of perfect devastation, which, of course, is devastating perfection. This is freedom beyond the speaking of it.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: The trauma of healing

 

All healing involves trauma, the re-opening of old wounds. Healing does not always look or feel good, pretty or kind.

One of the most dangerous myths we have inherited is that healing is supposed to ‘feel good’. No. Sometimes our pain actually increases as the darkness emerges into the light. But the pain actually indicates that the healing process is intensifying, not stalling.

There is such a tendency in our culture to avoid suffering, distract ourselves from it, label it as ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’, meditate or medicate it away, prevent the experience of it (and of course there is great intelligence in this too!). Much of our Western medicine is geared towards the removal of symptoms, the calming of disruption, the numbing of chaos and the journey towards some socially acceptable idea of ‘normality’.

But sometimes, friends, we no longer have any interest in ‘returning to normal’! The ‘normal’ was the problem, not the solution! The status quo needed to shift. It was unstable and false.

Sometimes our fragile ‘normality’ needs to break open into chaos, the pain needs to be felt more fully, the heart needs to break open more intensely. This is not to destroy us, but to destroy inauthentic modes of being.

Suffering is not a punishment from a judgemental god, nor a mistake in a broken universe, nor evidence of our failure and unenlightened ignorance, but a profoundly alive spiritual teaching. Witness Jesus on the cross. The device of his torture became his ultimate invitation to healing – the rediscovery of his own unbreakable Presence prior to his human incarnation, prior to time itself. The crucifixion was the invitation to the rediscovery of God itself.

We are all on that cross with Jesus! The cross does not discriminate!

Consider the possibility that within your suffering you are being invited to let go, to ‘put away childish things’, to wake up from the dream of normality and embrace life in all its brokenness and wonder. To fall in love with where you are. To be here, now.

Let the winds blow, let the tempests rage, let all that is false be purified, let all that is dead remain dead, let life explode where you are. You are only being invited to a deeper healing, even though it feels like pain, even though the heart is tender and raw, even though you cannot yet feel your tomorrows.

God is here.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Your confusion is sacred and intelligent

 

Your confusion is sacred and intelligent. You are not supposed to have a clear, consistent idea about who you are.

Who you are is not an idea, a concept, a story. You are not the movie of your life, but the constant embrace of that very movie, as it constantly changes…

You are alive, dynamic, ever-changing; thoughts and feelings arise and fall like wild uncontrollable waves in the vast – and unchanging – ocean of you.

You are a vibrant living un-thing and cannot be captured in dead words from the past. You do not live in memory. Your home is now.

In having no clue about who you are, in sinking deeply into the original not knowing prior to thought, you know absolutely who you are, beyond belief or doubt, and this is the gorgeous paradox of crucifixion and awakening; the death of the dream and the embrace of that dream.

Rest, weary seeker. Rest in this…

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Beautiful Chaos

 

It’s not supposed to make sense, friend. Everything is changing now. Everything is thrown into uncertainty. Turn your attention towards the ground where you stand.

Embrace the wild chaos of your life story; sanctify this chaos, make it beautiful, holy. But be what you are, the vast unchanging room for it all, ever-present, a great Certainty in the midst of a storm of forces outside of your direct control.

Begin again in every moment.

Trust the intelligence of chaos.

Life is only refreshing itself.

Breathe.

You are here.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Our greatest pain

 

The saddest thing of all is sadness when it is unfelt, neglected, unmet, rejected. Sorrow, without a home, is truly sorrowful to behold.

We get angry at ourselves for feeling anger. We fear fear, its intensity, its immediacy, its imagined power to overwhelm.

It’s confusing to attempt to not feel confusion when confusion is burning in us. The most frustrating thing of all is trying to make frustration disappear immediately, desiring the absence of desire.

Our greatest pain is our resistance to pain, the refusal of the living fact of pain; our unwillingness to stare life in the face, unblinking.

Only a thought would say, “this thought shouldn’t be here”. Only an imagined mind would want to be “free from mind”.

Taste raw life directly without judgement, or judgement of judgement of judgement…

Our experience is always reflective. But the Heart is forever open.

– Jeff Foster

 

Jeff Foster: There is nothing wrong

 

There is nothing wrong. Sadness is not wrong. Fear is not wrong. Confusion is not wrong. Our pain is not wrong. Resisting our pain is what makes everything seem wrong. And yet here is a deeper truth, for those who are open: even our resistance of pain is not wrong. If that’s what’s happening, it cannot be wrong. It is a valid expression of life in the moment. Beyond ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. This love even embraces resistance. This Now is vast, and forgiving.

Yet even ‘resistance’ is just another concept. Another judgement. Another way to make ourselves wrong. “Resistance bad”. “Acceptance good.” That’s what we learn. It’s not that we “resist” our pain. We just never learned how to be with it. How to sit with it. Stay with it. Have a cup of tea with it. See it as a beloved friend, at home in the vastness. Our ignorance is our innocence. We just never learned. Our pain is not wrong. It is an invitation. An ancient teaching. Universal. Free. Life invites us to come closer Falling through imagined layers Into great mystery.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: What is the risk? Losing everything? Then lose everything

 

Do it – or let it be done – the thing for which your heart has always been waiting.

What is the risk? Losing everything? Then lose everything. The experience of failure? Then experience failure, taste it, find a new kind of success within it. Rejection? Then open up to the glory of rejection, open your heart wide to the ones who reject you, see their pain and forgive them for it. Ridicule? Then fall in love with those voices of ridicule, seeing them as your beloved newborns, your own voices in need of kind attention.

Life is too precious to waste, and too immediate to postpone, and the ‘worst’ that could happen is a broken body or a shattered image, neither of which are who you really are. Nothing to lose, except perhaps your imaginary pride, your frightened ego which secretly longs to burn in the furnace of living.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: The right place for life

 

Your heart is broken. You no longer feel at home. The world as you knew it is crumbling. You feel you have lost something very precious to you. Life doesn’t seem fair, kind, or right. You long to escape. To rewind to the way things were, or to fast-forward to how things could be. You feel disconnected, lonely and lost, even beyond help.

Stop. Breathe. This is exactly how things are supposed to be right now. This is life, not a violation of life. A Universe cannot go ‘wrong’. Life only goes ‘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. Remember your presence, here and now. Feel the body pulsating. Feel the heart pounding, the chest expanding and contracting. Feel the raw life that is here, enveloping you, filling you, animating you, being you. Feel your feet on the ground. Know that the next step can only be taken from here, where you are, the true ground. Relax into never knowing what the next step will be before it is taken. Trust that you cannot trust right now. Be here. Yes, be here.

Your heart may be broken, friend, your dreams may be crumbling to dust, but you’re always in the right place for life.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: The little “no” and the little “yes” become celebrations of that limitless and uninterruptible YES that we are

 

Acceptance doesn’t mean always saying “yes” to everything.

Acceptance is not toleration. When we are tolerating, we are pretending to have a “yes” when we secretly feel a “no”. We are pretending to accept, in order to appear nice, or kind, or spiritual, or positive, or in control, or enlightened.

In Acceptance, there is no pretence. Acceptance means living as a giant YES to a life which can include an honest “yes” and an honest “no”. We no longer say “yes” just to please others, or to hide our doubts, or to give the impression of being decisive or courageous. We no longer say “no” out of fear or deficiency.

Spoken in truth, both a “no” and a “yes” are expressions of an infinitely bigger YES to life. The little “no” and the little “yes” become celebrations of that limitless and uninterruptible YES that we are, and will always be.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Forget trying to have the perfect experience

 

Forget trying to have the perfect experience.
Forget trying to get life right.
Sink into your current experience.
Let it wash over you, drown in its embrace.

When you feel lost, heartbroken, unsure where to turn,
When doubts smoulder and questions rage,
Know that this is only Love in disguise,
Burning all your dreams of tomorrow to dust.

You are doing better than you ever could imagine.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: You are here, before the question “Who am I?” even arises

 

Who are you?

Wait! Even before you start to think about the answer to that question, the true Answer must already be present, right?

You are here, before the question “Who am I?” even arises.

All the mental struggle in the world won’t lead you to the Answer, for you are the Answer, the unchanging presence in which the question, and all of its associated answers, arise and dissolve like waves in the ocean.

Be the Answer. Love the questions. Love even the search for the answers. They are all beloved movements of yourself.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Everything that you believe is wrong with you….

 

Everything that you believe is wrong with you is absolutely right from the perspective of the universe. Everything that happens in your life – including the suffering and the endless seeking – is your unique invitation to awaken from the dream of tomorrow, and profoundly embrace what is here today. There are no mistakes when even mistakes are cherished.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: No spiritual fireworks

 

What is awakening? No spiritual fireworks here, friend, no big dramatic experiences of unending bliss and unbearable joy, no ecstatic visions or mesmerising altered states, no special transmissions from the one who believes themselves to be the guru, just the intimate taste of your own unchanging presence, just effortlessly allowing this moment to be as it is, just the pricelessness of being alive and awake, now.

This, an ordinary moment, held in the natural state, saturated with natural transmission, arising as the natural guru, intimately so.

Welcome home to naturalness.

– Jeff Foster

I have had my share of spiritual fireworks, and equivalent descents, and those are helpful too. They help me recognize facets of reality, and also see that these are all experiences that come and go. What already allows all of it is what eventually notices itself – and notices itself as all of these shifting experiences, all of these (what a thought would call) ups and downs and middle ground experiences. What’s here is all there is, since it includes any images of something “other” out there in time or space. And what I really seek, the essence of what I seek, is already here.

Jeff Foster: When you think about yourself

 

When you think about yourself, you think “I am this” or “I am that”.

But if you are the self that you think about, the self that you speak about, write about, sing about, worry about, like or dislike, who is the one who knows that self, recognises that self, remembers that self, talks about that self?

Are there two of you, two selves, the self that you know and the self that knows it? The self that is liked or disliked, and the one who likes or dislikes it?

If you can be aware of ‘the self’ as it comes and goes, changes, evolves, grows, appears and disappears to you, can it really define – or be – who you are?

Even when you feel “I have lost myself”, who is it that feels that? Whomever or whatever that is, hasn’t been lost, cannot be lost, and is forever found, here and now, in the immediacy of life itself.

– Jeff Foster

I can hold satsang with the image of a self that is observed and related to, and the image of a self that’s the observer. And any other images of a self as a center, a doer, even awareness.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. How would you like me to relate to you? What’s your deepest desire? What are you really?

Jeff Foster: Perhaps your imperfections are not really imperfections, and not yours at all

 

Perhaps your imperfections
Are not really ‘imperfections’
And not ‘yours’ at all

Perhaps they are the last remnants
Of a greater perfection Misunderstood by mind and forgotten long ago

Come out of the story of the ‘poor me’
And discover the riches in the smallest of things
A single breath, a glance from a friend, an autumnal breeze

Celebrate the unwanted, the unloved stranger, the perfect mistake

Collapse into wonderful unknowing

Be perfectly unfinished

Finally

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Stop

 

Stop. Whatever is happening in the circumstances of your life, stop. Just for a moment. Gently begin to acknowledge what is HERE, in this moment. Come out of your conclusions about life, your ideas about the past and future, and begin to notice the sensations, feelings, thoughts that are present, right here and right now. Notice what is ALIVE here. Let your present experience – sights and sounds and smells – become totally fascinating, the most curious dance in all the universe. You are seeing, tasting, touching, hearing the world as if for the first time. This is your Garden of Eden.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: Just a moment of sadness or fear, consciously felt

 

Just a moment of sadness, or anger, or fear, consciously felt, experienced absolutely, profoundly savoured and intimately touched, not denied, rejected, pushed away or neglected, but held like a newborn, embraced like a lover, changes everything, for in the bosom of the very thing you feared was hidden the grace you longed for and dreamt of, in those private moments.

You will find no dark centre at the heart of sadness, no destructive energy in the belly of anger, nothing ‘anti-life’ at the core of fear, if you are willing to stay awhile. Imagined boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘my emotions’ dissolve, and there is only pure life energy, never divided against itself. Any emotion is the door-less doorway to this revelation, and our internal enemies were only ever messengers of infinity, ingeniously disguised.

Go beyond the positive and negative game, and touch life before it can be named, before the question “Who?” is even imagined.

– Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster: We name everything

 

We name everything, including our own intimate feelings. Sadness, we say. Anger. Fear. Frustration. Joy. Boredom. Longing. But matter is energy, and beyond the conceptual labels, without the words, we really have no way of knowing what we are experiencing. Take away the label ‘sadness’, and what is it? Take away the description ‘anger’, and what is it? Remove the word ‘boredom’ and what is this raw life energy that moves? Stop calling the energy ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, ‘light’ or ‘dark’, and what is there? Raw life. Consciousness moving. Tingly sensation. Inseparable from what you are. Sacred. Intimate. So present.

– Jeff Foster