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The Heart Cannot be Broken

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A friend on facebook wrote me the following;

The pain I feel is not going to go anywhere anyway..so why not to write to you. It might change nothing, yet it won't do any harm. Moreover, I am always happy to write to you, because you are so warm, gentle and kind.
The thing is now I am completely sure, now I know that my friend, of whom I wrote to you a few months ago, does not love me. This one line may sound so superficial, so silly to you, yet I felt a part of me has died.
Again as it always happens, I feel calm writing you. But these last days, whatever I tried ---looking for the sufferer, or not looking, trying to impose absolute hopelessness on me, repeating always in mind "who am I?"---nothing could ease the enourmous pain in my chest. I felt like jumping out of my body, out of that all.

And this is my response:

Loss is like that. It just hurts. Even when there is nothing you can do to relieve the pain, you still might want to explore the experience you are having. Specifically, I would invite you to explore the part of you that feels like it has died. What is that like? If for just a moment, you completely allow it to feel dead, is it actually a bad sensation, or just a dead sensation? Our suffering always comes from our movement away from our sensations, not from the sensations themselves, even the most intense and enormous feelings. 

It can help to allow the pain to be bigger than your body. There is no need to contain it within your chest. Just let it be as big as it needs to be.

And then you can maybe also be curious. What is the pain like? Where exactly do you feel it? How big is it? What else is present besides the pain? If there is a feeling of deadness or emptiness, what is that like? What is present in the empty space? What is here inside the deadness?

The point of these questions is not really to get rid of the pain. It is to help you discover that it is OK to feel pain. The deepest healing is always to find out that there is nothing here that needs to be healed. Pain is natural and normal after a loss, and yet you do not need to suffer from it. Just let it be here, and you may find you are OK even if your heart is broken. Your heart can be broken wide open without actually damaging anything, because your true Heart cannot be broken. It is big enough to hold all of the pain and loss.

I hope this helps.

Motivation After Spiritual Awakening

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black archesQ: In 2009, my personal story was seen through, and it dropped away. With it, went all motivation. Without a self, there’s no desire or fear of living or dying, and without those desires and fears, there seems to be no drive. I have about two months of money left in the bank and no desire to get a real job. Still, I have no worries and sleep like a baby. It feels wonderful, appreciative, in-touch, pure, loving, and connected. The lack of motivation seems to be the biggest part of the “problem.” The other part of the problem is a lack of identity. Not having an identity to pin myself to is disconcerting. What motivates you when there is no “you?”

A: Although there is no formula for what happens after awakening, I can assure you that your experience is not unusual. I have two suggestions. The first is an invitation to become very curious about what is present in the lack of motivation. Because the deeper movements or drives of essence are quieter and subtler than our old egoic desires and attachments, it can take a very sensitive ear to hear them. It sounds like you are already in touch with them when you say, “It feels wonderful, appreciative, in-touch, pure, loving, and connected.” So what is that appreciative love flowing most naturally and authentically to? Where do you still find a deeper longing in your Heart? Since every expression of the mystery is unique, even every snowflake, what that deeper longing will look like in your case is unpredictable. Being in the flow of your essence may mean continuing to rest and be quiet, or it may mean becoming busier than ever. The key is to be very curious about what is true in your own Heart. What allows the deepest opening of your Heart right now? I know of a man in California who had a profound realization and then sat on his couch for months. One day, he suddenly had an idea for a spiritual bookstore. He said he was too lazy to not get up off the couch and start working sixteen hours a day to open this bookstore. At that point, it took more effort to sit still!

The second thing I would suggest, which may seem to contradict my first suggestion, is that you consider not waiting for motivation to show up. I had a teacher once who pointed out that the word “energy” comes from words meaning “into the work.” He suggested that energy and motivation often come once we are already doing something. So you might simply notice what opportunities or activities naturally present themselves and just do them. That will give you a chance to find out if there is motivation or energy for that activity after all.

I see these two suggestions as complementary, not contradictory. The truth is subtle and has many levels, so sometimes we need to sense the subtle movements of our Being, and other times we need to just get up and do whatever presents itself to do. I find that, as the discovery of the complete range of my true nature continues, I experience a greater and greater range of movements and motivations. I’m willing to experience everything from a deep sense of resting (what one of my teachers called “the contented old cow state”) to a passionate flurry of activity and creativity. Our true nature includes all of these possibilities and more.

As for the issue of a lack of identity, I have two similar suggestions. One is to be curious about what is present in the space where there is no identity or sense of self. “Beyond No Self,” which is included as Appendix 1 of this book, is an article I wrote that explores this further. Reading this may help you become more accustomed to the lack of a self, which is such a strange and unfamiliar experience when it first arises. Once you discover all the rich dimensions of Self that are present in the absence of an egoic sense of self, you might not find the absence of that egoic identity to be a problem.

The second suggestion is to allow yourself to have whatever identity is needed in any moment. Put on an identity when you need it or feel like it, in the same way you might dress up for Halloween. Freedom is when you can spontaneously identify or dis-identify based on what’s true in that moment. Spiritual teachings often emphasize dis-identification because so many people are stuck in identification. But there’s no reason to, then, get stuck in dis-identification. You can play within the limitless range of roles, stories, and dramas that life contains without getting permanently stuck in any of them.

Everything is Spiritual

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Another email question:

I've been writing a story lately. It's turning out to be nasty, I mean it's like a soap opera. One character gets murdered! I'm having a whale of a good time, but I've got this nagging doubt in the back of my mind: is it spiritual? I mean, the feeling is more, I wish my characters were more spiritual or had loftier ambitions or something. Or perhaps I would be a better person if I wrote books about spiritual development.

My response:

Sounds like a good story!  This is another chance to check in your own heart to know what is true. There is no formula....and writing a nasty story can be a wonderful way to see more of our inner conditioning and also maybe just enjoy creating something with some good drama in it.  Because you say you are having a whale of a good time, my guess is that it is something that is true for you right now. Does it open your heart and allow you to feel more alive to write? If yes, then go for it!

Do not worry too much about being spiritual as that is a big category: it only includes everything!


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