Performance coaches, therapists, fitness experts and nutritionists are doing it and sharing it with their clients – it’s being taught in hospitals, prisons, businesses and even finding its way into the school timetable. What is the ‘it’ I’m talking about? The ancient practice of ‘mindfulness'; of being ‘present’. Read More
I have a friend who is really good at the Japanese art of paper folding. Whenever we’re together I’ll often discover a discarded scrap of paper that’s been miraculously transformed into a beautiful flower.
Imagine a boundless sheet of paper, imbued with the talents of the ultimate origami master; unfolding and refolding with endless creativity into an infinite variety of forms, whilst never becoming anything other than itself. Read More
“Welcome it, open to it, embrace it, love it, honour it, accept it as it is”. These are the words of guidance we’re often used to hearing when we find ourself immersed in difficult, upsetting or emotionally painful moments in life. But when we try to follow that guidance, and the pain doesn’t go away, we can become increasingly frustrated.
It’s that frustration which reveals our hidden agenda: we are actually only ‘honouring’ and ‘welcoming’ the pain in order to get rid of it. Beneath our spiritual disguise it’s the same old separate ‘me’ hard at work, still resisting, still trying to manipulate life, still wanting things to be different.
What if the pain were welcome to stay forever?
Then our clever thought strategy is totally obliterated, and maybe we can hear those words of acceptance afresh, as an invitation to see life from a radically new perspective. What we truly are is the source and substance of all that is, and so the fact that something exists at all means that it is already welcomed, already embraced, already loved, honoured and accepted – including the moments when we’re caught up in the game of ‘me-ing’, when the pain is so great that we simply can’t accept it, when we fundamentally resist, when we judge ourself for having resisted.
True acceptance is not a strategy, it has no time limit or conditions attached; it is the very essence of our being.
This is never about chastising ourself for getting it ‘wrong’, that’s only more of the same old game, but rather seeing deeply into the mechanism of how we operate, of how we’re easily caught up in that old familiar model of belief, of how the marvel of this illumination starts to pervade each and every activity of our daily experience.
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Why is it that Chinese Emperors, Egyptian Pharaohs and English Kings and Queens reputedly consulted with fools and court jesters? Because the fool is unburdened by the expectations and conventions of society, is unconstrained by the shoulds and shouldn’ts, the need to keep up appearances, is entirely free to cut through our man-made-up concepts and beliefs to expose the unmodified truth.
So what if we are the fool, what if we dare to step outside our mental framework of ideas and explore the sensual reality of the moment?
Through the eyes of the fool we discover that we have no eyes, that what we are is not an isolated person looking out at the world but rather this entire colourful image of life happening, that a computer keyboard is no less ourSelf than the fingers that dance across its keys, that the cry of a bird, the image of open sky, the sound of children playing, the taste of peppermint tea, the fizzing aliveness of sensations, the wonder of unbridled joy, the intense sorrow of grief, every experience experiencable is our infinitely creative Self shapeshifting into ever fresh, ingenious compositions.
It’s in this fool’s wisdom, which our thought-made version of reality regards as pure madness, that we discover the magical homecoming for which we’ve always longed.
All our seeking and exploring brings us to the edge of our certainties. We yearn to dive into the unknown but fear continually pulls us back, back into life-as-we-think-we-know-it; and so we remain there, teetering on the brink.
But what if we dip our toe into those unchartered waters and, despite our racing heartbeat and urge to run away, we see that we’re still here, still breathing, that nothing gets destroyed? Then maybe we get a little more courageous, we put our feet in, we go in up to our waist, up to our neck, we become entirely immersed. And rather than experiencing unbearable pain, annihilation or an inability to function, we discover that the whole colourful play of life is still unfolding.
But something is washed away in this ultimate baptism: the feeling of being split apart from life. And in that jubilant re-union, all is pervaded with the light of infinite love.