02 September 2012

Owning our humanity

We had an interesting Satsang yesterday.  We moved in an entirely new direction. Rather than talking about the Void, spiritual bodies, levels of consciousness, or the need for love, meditation, etc., or how nothing you do will ever result in awakening, we explored love, loneliness, and fear directly in several participants in our group.

We are so many things.  We are consciousness, the abstract awareness within consciousness, the pristine, bright clarity state, the witness, the Self.  But we are also human beings with our wants, needs, and most buried and unconscious pasts and vulnerabilities that determine who we are and how we act even today.

Most often, flight to the "absolute," to the "witness," or to "pure love," are escapes from the real, the underlying human existence in each of us that may feel unseen, lost, confused, hurt and unloved.

I received an email to this effect yesterday.  It reads:


"is the point to remain in that farthest back place of non-judging,
non-thinking space as frequently as possible?

"i have been going back and forth between the monastery and living
within society during the past 3 years.

"                    - at the monastery while doing zazen for 4 hours
a day i find remaining in that alert space happens naturally and
often, but in a certain emotional way i feel dead

"                     - in society i don't generally have motivation
for zazen, and being in that alert space is sporadic, but in a certain
emotional way i again feel alive

"i guess if my goal is to be (no)self-conscious 100% of the time while
also becoming a human being within society, does it work better to A.
separate from society and pursue the ultimate unceasingly until it is
fully established, and then re-enter society OR to B. live within
society and make much slower progress towards the ultimate but perhaps
get a head start on the process of becoming more human?

"in addition, my current situation as a human is of being in college
studying science, dance, outdoor recreation, psychology, and having a
lot of fun with club sports and interacting with people my age for a
change. it seems impossible both to remain watching from emptiness AND
involve one's self fully in conversations and activities. the
attention towards human-ness and absolute-ness seem to pendulum back
and forth, i just dont see how i could swing all the way over to
absolute-ness without having to live in a cave by myself. nor does
that seem particularly desirable or altruistic to extinguish one's
human-ness in pursuit of the absolute

"if a response is merited, do you have any advice for me?"

IS THIS NOT THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE, THE OSCILATION BETWEEN WANTING FULL INVOLVEMENT IN LIFE, VERSUS THE DESIRE TO RUN FROM IT AND REST IN THE ABSOLUTE?  Freud characterized this as the struggle between Eros, or love and life, and Thanatos, the desire to die.  Is this not what we struggle for when we try to awaken, to get away from the human condition to a place of transcendence and not being touched by life?

Is this not what my teacher, Robert Adams, was always talking about, not being touched by the world, that the world was not real, it is an illusion, do not involve yourself?

On the other hand, modern clinical psychology takes an entirely different tact, moving us to an open embrace of everything, becoming totally human, feeling a full range of affect as well as our strengths and vulnerability within the context of having a body and a very fleeting existence before the Big Rest of death.

My personal belief is that we need to embrace both: accepting our limitations, our humanity, including our vulnerabilities and neediness, but within the context of the Emptiness and Void from which we came and to which we will return.

Since I have been talking about the void for many years, I decided now to move the group to explore our human roots, the lost elements of our humaness, and SO VERY WELL DID OUR GROUP MOVE!  It was like magic.

Three people moved into long repressed and lost neediness, fear, loneliness and loss.

This is what one of the participants said about the experience:

"Dear Ed,

Last night's satsang was one of the most emotionally purifying and profound events I've ever been a part of. No jargon, no lofty spiritual concepts, no running from the world. Raw feeling, empathy, involvement. And a deeper understanding of love and what it means to be fully human.Some may see what you're guiding us into as a departure, but I see it as a continuation and deepening of the process whereby we become ourselves.

With love,


  1. Yes, the Yesterday- Satsang like Waldo said was a ''learning'' to all of Us and melting of our hearts to:''a deeper understanding of love and what it means to be fully human''

  2. I use to want freedom 'from' my humanity, 'from' my life; now I'm seeing that what I want most is to be freedom 'in' my humanity, 'in' my life.

    Maybe I was hoping coming at it from this angle would be easier. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yep, I'm always looking for the easy way ...so far, no such luck.

    Last night's satsang was PRICELESS!

    With deep gratitude for you Ed.

  3. Initially I came to "seeking" as an escape to freedom from unbearable mental and physical suffering, after years of "mainstream" therapies.
    I concur fully with Lila's point- " what I want most is to be free "in" my humanity" Only until yesterdays satsang I did not know THAT was what I desired most of all...

    I tried the "easier softer way" of trusting the gurus words and putting as much faith as I could muster into that trusting process...for nigh on ten years!
    However I was resorting to "magical" thinking rooted in the heart of a five year old girl desperately wanting to "come home"
    The terror I felt strangely enough was not of making a complete "eejit" of myself. NO it was when at the end Ed asked who is willing to go with this type of "work". MY heart near stopped, this was it everyone there would decline I was sure - Yet all of you, I could see, raised a hand. As I write this my eyes are stinging and tears are welling up...you all stayed with me -the words "stayed with me" are conveying right at this moment a profundity that literally is taking my breath away...OMG OMG OMG! That John, Adriano and Celio began to share was most definitely the icing on the cake...and to witness Lila's courage was totally affirming of the Love that is our Humanness, a Love that really and truly cannot be broken. To the others in the "wings" please don;t run away we need you, we love you...

    My Beloved Ed- there are no words good enough to convey my everlasting gratitude - you are a pioneer of Love in our times, fearless risk taker wading in to the "mire" of the human condition indeed you make real and possible the notion that-
    "All Healing Begins at the Source of the Wound" you are our rock to kick against and rail at and you are the Balm that Heals the wounded Soul... And all this is happening in a dimension that we are just navigating ... Meeting our "peeps" our families our Selves in cyber space!
    Even my highly imaginative "magical" thinking could never have come up with that little scenario.
    thank you for so patiently teaching us/me to grow and Love...x
    PS Waldo ... you too mate are all of these things, and more ...thanks

    Love and blessings to All