Living at the Edge — What Does It Feel Like?

Meditation and Coffee Time – Saturday October 20

Living “at my edge” would be living in those areas of my life that challenge me, where I face fear and anxiety and meet my fear with courage as I go through my fear. Parts of me would want to be at peace and not be in fear, but in this longing for peace I need to be careful. It could be a pseudo peace I am content with rather than pursuing a true Peace.

How so? For years I held on to pseudo peace based upon resolutely clinging to some set of dogma and remaining fixated at that intellectual level of consciousness. The false sense of safety and security I talked myself into tempted me to stop growing in consciousness. Oh it felt safe on the surface, but deep down there was an uneasy and pervasive anxiety.  I now see that not growing in consciousness meant to miss experiencing True Peace.

But this illusory pseudo-peace I held was so tempting: how great it would be to cling to a static, and seemingly solid, framework or rock – my a worldview based upon a set of dogma from the church, for example. It would be clinging to what I thought I “knew” rather than realizing that Truth cannot be “Known” so long as I am in this “merely and utterly human” incarnation. We are in this world with limited consciousness to evolve through stages of life where we cannot yet experientially Know Truth. Hanging on to what I think I know (dogma, a worldview I happen to have at the moment) would be, by necessity, hanging on to an illusion or at best a half-truth, since life is not static but constantly moving, and within me and others, moving to deeper and deeper levels of consciousness.  Each of us matures into adulthood, and our consciousness grows with us, if we allow and foster it. To find peace in something solid and static that may have worked well and was even needed when I was a child, would be to get out of the Stream of Life and stop growing. It would ultimately mean my death – betrayal by pseudo-peace based upon a collection of intellectual beliefs, all be it an ever more sophisticated set of beliefs.

The only true safety I can have is to learn to live in the vibrancy of the dynamic and ever-moving and evolving Life Stream. So I ask, “Is peace possible when the Life Stream is moving, often vibrantly moving?” Yes, provided I come, through experiencing a felt sense of Knowing, to trust the life-giving and benign nature of the Life Stream, and of God and of God’s love and goodness. (See the interesting quote from Pathwork Q&A 113 that I titled: Faith and Doubt Concerning Life after Death)

So where is my edge? It seems to be in daring to be in touch with my own true feelings. Staying with the affect, deepening into my feelings, experiencing them in my body rather than standing at a distance from my body and reporting on my feelings from the shore of my intellect so to speak. Rather than reporting on my feelings without really feeling them, my edge is diving into them, coming to swim in the waters of life, and in these waters to be in full connection with my Self, my body’s feeling Self. It takes courage to face my fear of being me, feeling all my feelings. Often I would so much rather find an escape route, usually via my intellect and often using its skills of conceptualization.

In a way this living in my feelings is like learning to surf or run the rapids in a kayak. Yes I may fall into water a thousand times, but eventually I learn that the water will not kill me. Practicing life is like practicing and becoming proficient at surfing, and as I became increasingly proficient I find that riding the Life Stream of my feelings brings me fulfillment and Joy, even thrill. OK, I’m getting ahead of my experience, but on some deep level I Know the truth of these words: Feeling and Living are One.

At this time Pat joined me for coffee. We sat in silence for a while. Gary: (Reflecting on our recent work with Sage and Anthony) I find that your capacity for entering the wordless space as you shared yesterday is so helpful in our USness. I truly appreciate this capacity in you! (After a pause, I then went on to share some of my sense of living at the edge.) Pat: Yes, I feel risk here in feeling-land as well. Risking letting all our inner characters come to the table of our feeling-lives, risking letting each of them be revealed to us. This is why Sage and Anthony playfully talk about us as “frightened little rabbits.” And so we are! Gary: Back to Rumi’s Welcome All Guests. (Open The Guest House)

Pat: Cultivating that sense of sacredness for all of our inner characters. Gary: Like Dennis Genpo Merzel’s Big Mind Big Heart – especially well laid out in his DVD in theIntegral Life Practice Starter Kit.  Pat: Yes, I would like to watch that DVD again.

Gary: Of course for me so much of my edge comes up in various dimensions of our relationship, including our emotional and physical connecting with each other. I am committed to our relationship and committed to my growth at this edge. Pat: Yes, honoring all these characters at the table of our relationship! So many patterns come up – defenses and images and wrong conclusions. Instead of being curious in the Grand Mystery of our relationship, part of me wants to figure out all these inner characters in each of us and only after I figure them out in my brain do I think it is safe to proceed in life.

Pat: Yes, something in me has to figure life out – and this was amplified in my childhood – I could not “Not Know” what Mom and Dad wanted of me, for example. I had to figure out what they wanted and had to share everything I knew – and “share” even things I couldn’t know but which they did not know that I couldn’t know and kept pressing me. There were one or two occasions I can remember – very painful for me, even frightening. “I have to know!  I have to figure it out!” These words were etched upon my soul. From here, this fearful place, my edge is “trusting the goodness of life” – is the Cosmos really benign working on our behalf? Gary: Back to Einstein’s question about whether the Cosmos is friendly and nurturing or dangerous and destructive (click to open).

Gary: I go back to our internal splits: Either my ego figures life out and speaks from what it knows (though very limited) or I surrender and let the Universal Self (Higher Self) speak – allowing words to arise from that wordless place in me that you mentioned and found in yourself and in us.  But then so often it seems we don’t really hear ourselves what our own Universal Selves are saying. Yes, amazingly we seem to split our speaking part from our feeling part, or our brain from our heart. I shall report on my sadness but I shall not really feel my sadness or share my feelings of sadness with you from that wordless place, that wordless place that speaks through the body via the tears I could shed if I allowed them. Pat: It is so dangerous to feel that sadness! Gary: Let alone express that sadness spontaneously as it arises from within. The Life Force is, above all else, spontaneous. My ego steps in and asks, “Can I allow this spontaneous arising? Dare I allow it? Even if it means tears, tons of tears?” In the end it seems it is the job of the ego to dance with the spontaneous currents of the Life Stream rather than to suppress or deny them.

Pat: Like the group picture that hangs over our fireplace done by Margaret – all of these characters are our inner characters – arms on shoulders supporting one another. This is a clear manifestation of the inner life expressed. Gary: And perhaps the fire in the middle of the painting is the Life Stream.

Gary: Let me change the subject. Another point came up for me this morning. One of our helpers shared with me that someone he/she and I both know appreciated my depth and honesty in some of my writing. The helper did not say that he/she appreciated my depth and honesty his/herself, but only that someone else did. Immediately I could feel my pain.  I was triggered. I wanted the helper him/herself to appreciate my depth and honesty! In fact, I could see that I was demanding that the helper appreciate my depth and honesty!

This realization of my demand opened up lots for me. I could see that I want other Pathwork helpers and other spiritual teachers, pastors, therapists, and ultimately Mom and Dad and God to see and appreciate my depth and honesty! This sharing from my heart, sharing as honestly and deeply as I can, is what I love to do. OK, I’m even identified with this part of me, and I long to connect from these deeper levels. AND I demand that people connect with me from there and appreciate me for “sharing deeply.”

BUT now I can realize and accept that not everyone does, in fact, enjoy sharing from depth and honesty. AND, amazing to the part of me that thought everyone was looking for depth and honesty, this non-interest in depth and honesty is OK. In fact, perhaps only a few have such interest, even in Pathwork circles it seems. I could see how much pain I have been bringing to myself by demanding that others, especially spiritual leaders and teachers, appreciate and affirm my honesty and depth and share their own beings at that level.

And when I let that demand of them go, I am immediately free.  And so are they. I am free to be me with my passion for depth and honesty, and others can be free to pursue what inspires them: dancing, teaching, and the like.  Neither of us is right or wrong, better or worse, just different. What a gift this freedom is — to all involved. It also means that I can be easier on myself and not demand that I be deeper or more honest than I am in any moment.  As the Pathwork Lectures say, the Mask Self has a role, just don’t be unconscious that you are using a mask and are deliberately and appropriately holding back your deeper sense of truth.

And another note on this. I have a hunch that others do see and appreciate my depth and honesty, but I refuse to let their appreciation in. Do I myself appreciate my depth and honesty? Or am I demanding of others what I refuse to give myself? In all likelihood. Another character — the one who refuses to see and appreciate my depth and honesty — has joined the table. “Welcome!” It is enough!

Shared in love, Gary