What does it mean to truly love another?

What does it mean to truly love another?

Krishnamurti QuoteLet’s talk about love. For me, this quote by Krishnamurti (philosopher) picks out one of the most true aspects I see in relationships. I’ve thought a lot about love, and what it is. Because for me I always truly believed real love was possible, but I felt that for love to be real, it didn’t make sense that it would just start to go away after you break up with someone. That would mean the love you felt was based on something temporary. Like some kind of conditions or desires they were fulfilling for you. And could we truly call that love?

Being “in love” on the other hand is a bit different because those feelings do fade at some point. Which does not mean they are not meaningful, but shows that you feel something for another that eventually will lose its “newness.” The fact of the matter is that I rarely see true love in relationships, and I believe it reflects the general awareness state of ourselves as humans in this period of time.

Truly loving someone means that it doesn’t come from a place where you only love them if they fit into some mental model you have either of who they are or what they’re doing (or not doing). You’re able to truly let go of those things and appreciate them, exactly as they are!

Truly loving someone does not mean that you need to be bound to them in any way. You need the right timing and compatibility to be committed to someone in a partnership. But you can truly love someone whether those things are in place or not.
It’s also okay if we aren’t sure if we have truly loved yet. I don’t think every relationship necessarily will contain real love.

Sometimes you have to be in a place where you are ready to actively love in that way. This happens naturally when you have come to a place where your ego doesn’t have such a firm hold on you. Where your inner world has expanded beyond yourself to a certain degree to make room for a true appreciation and compassion for others. This takes time. You learn through experience to see how often our ideas of who someone is can taint this as well, so you learn to slowly let go of those to really be able to SEE someone for what they are.I also believe that love is the most fundamental thing between two people even if the relationship doesn’t last.

Too many humans are operating in the world with themselves as the center — so the filter for their entire experience of life (not just relationships) is very much solely about fulfilling their needs, though this is invisible to them at the time. We are used to operating from within ourselves because that’s all we’ve known. But once you get to a certain point in self-realization and awareness, an inner shift will start to happen that will expand your life’s filter to be truly more inclusive of others. This is really a prerequisite to being able to come from a place where we’re not always evaluating something’s value to us based on our mental models but truly appreciating it as it is.

It is normal during our growth phases in life that we NEED to focus on ourselves. But I feel too many stay stuck in that for many reasons. It all comes from within. We must come to know and understand ourselves to begin to make that inner shift.

I’ll tell you many people are very surprised and often confused when I explain that I have been in relationships with people whom even if I’m not with them now, still truly love and care for them just the same. If the love is true and based on the right things, why shouldn’t you?

Two people truly caring for each other and supporting each other on their life journeys regardless of the status between them is a beautiful thing that should always be treasured, because it doesn’t happen often enough.

 

Broken Soul: An Evolution in Awareness

Broken Soul: An Evolution in Awareness

I. Darkness

I said I was a broken soul; nothing could repair me.
Nothing ever seemed to have much meaning anyway.
This world is nothing but a parade of images, and humanity’s keeping score —
Yeah well, I failed to fit into those frames long ago.

I’ve got a broken mind; I’m stuck in a rut and I’m probably blind.
I’ve worn this mask so long I don’t know want to know what lies behind.
I can’t even seem to let go; I’m holding on tight
But hey my time’s up — I don’t have strength to fight that fight.

Life’s broken my heart and no one lives up to their word
Sellouts, liars and fakes are at my every turn
People don’t really give a shit about you; they just pretend
So I’ll be fine by myself, I don’t need to let anyone in.

II. Light

The other night something came to me, randomly in my sleep.
Maybe a dream, yet it was much more real than anything I had ever seen.
I saw my mind right in front of me; I saw all of my pain —
It was like a gigantic, visual, cause and effect chain.

I looked at my mind in 3d space as I was existing outside of it.
Immediately I exclaimed, “how is this possible?” — and then I heard a voice say:
”Don’t you see? None of this darkness nor this mind has ever been who you are.
You are a being of duality and your soul is still pure…”

It continued: “Earth is but a play; And your mind’s ideas and concepts set the stage.
You created your own prison because your pain perpetuated more pain.
It’s no mystery darkness overcame you because of your mind running this game.
You were never separate from the light, you were simply living in a cave.”

III. Integration

I then woke up from this “dream” in a daze and had a strong urge to cry.
I felt I had finally found what I was looking for my entire life.
I knew the voice talking to me was simply part of my self
But in this Earth school, like most, I had been partially blind.

Even so, my mind and its patterns did not immediately change
But how I subconsciously defined my “self” infinitely expanded and rearranged.
Clarity began to seep through my once shaky foundation;
I then knew what to do to let go of these self-imposed lines.

I realized we sometimes may need help from the outside
To shatter the boundaries of what we thought we knew.
Carrying through the midst of an often dark world
We might then eventually find the truth: the battle has always and will always be within.

Understanding My Own Duality: The Journey Of Being Both a Human and a Soul

Understanding My Own Duality: The Journey Of Being Both a Human and a Soul

I’ve always been, since I was a child, someone who is very tapped into my soul.

”Soul” is one of those slippery terms that varies too much based on the person, so I’ll define it as I understand it. I can’t claim to know what the soul is made of, its exact properties, nor exactly how it operates.

But I have always had a strong awareness (and sense) of a part of me that I would call simply an awareness in itself. It does have its own attributes — it is ME, in the deepest sense. But it is something that remains constant while the rest of my human character does not.

As humans, we define ourselves by humanly things: genetics, various factors in the environment, values, likes, dislikes, and so on. The soul is outside of this. It is a constant presence — an essence — and many describe the soul as having more of an “observer” role throughout our Earthly journeys.

Being aware of my soul to the degree I am today often makes me feel like I am simultaneously in two worlds.

All of this generally sounds like a positive thing, and it is. But now that I have been through multiple types of consciousness-breakthroughs as well as various types of spiritual experiences that came to me rather spontaneously, I’ve become increasingly able to differentiate between the “soul” part of me and the “human character” part of me.

The Challenges of Increasing Awareness

As I become more aware of my soul as I am experiencing being human, I’ve realized that there are inherent difficulties that can come with this.

Part of the difficulty for me has been the fact that learning to follow your soul has been very much like walking blindfolded in a pitch dark place, having to learn to use another set of senses to guide your way.

You have to develop this set of senses, and keep developing them, if you want to fulfill your soul’s desires and understand yourself to the very core. This requires discernment: you have to know when to shut out outer influences and trust your inner voice.

There is a time to acquire knowledge from outside yourself, and a time to shut it out and pay more attention inwardly.

I’ve noticed that the majority of people I meet don’t really know how to trust themselves, let alone listen to themselves, and it’s not really their fault. We are part of a time when we look to external authorities, common knowledge or perhaps the “latest” knowledge in order to decide what anything means. We are taught this from a young age — we get our knowledge from going to school and having someone tell us what things mean.

It’s not a surprise to most at this point in time that as a whole on Earth, we are spiritually lacking, because we are mostly cut off from our selves.

The idea that there is wisdom to be gained from our own selves — from a part of our selves — sounds ridiculous to many. So they don’t even attempt to believe in themselves or begin to listen. They see themselves as just another human going to school to “get smarter.”

From the time I was 17 years old, I began to have significant things happen to me psychologically (including my first “consciousness-expanding” experience at 18). If I, for example, had had a parent who was not very open-minded and I had told them what happened to me, I could’ve been committed to an asylum.

Instead, I learned to follow what my intuition was telling me. Because it was sending messages to me loud and clear, and honestly, those messages were hard to ignore even if I had wanted to.

Potential Isolation

The other difficult thing that happens when you begin to align more with the “soul” part of you, is that you begin to have things happen to you that make it more difficult to relate to others at times.

You may begin to feel, see, and desire different things that sets you apart from the rest. You may become more detached and potentially not enjoy the things you used to enjoy in the same way anymore.

Values or other perceptions you felt once were a part of who you thought you were may begin to fall away as your human character expands beyond what you thought it could ever be.

Seeing the Duality More Clearly: My “Higher Self” Is a Parent to Me

I like to say this journey of awareness really accelerated starting at age 17, and I am now 35. It has taken me this long to be aware of this “soul” part of me to the degree I am now, after developing my mental tools.

In one key experience I had which was some type of random out of body experience, I sensed my “higher self” presence there directly. It felt as though it was the parent and I was the child, yet both were me! It’s hard to make logical sense of with the way we understand things, as it did feel like a separate presence from me in some way, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t somebody else.

After that for about two weeks, I felt this incredibly secure, beautiful, unimaginable sense of love. It felt like something was taking care of me, showing it loved me and wrapping me in the most unbelievable security blanket. It wasn’t a presence I sensed at that time, but rather just the love itself.

I still don’t fully know where that sense of love came from, but I believe it may have been a result of experiencing that higher consciousness state in the way I did.

The Expansion of Your Understanding of Your Identity

As you continue to wake up to your soul’s presence and understand that you are not just merely the human character you’ve been playing for so long, there is usually a bit of an initial shock or time period of integrating this knowledge. Because quite honestly, it changes your life completely. But it only comes to you when you are ready.

When this integration happens, over time you slowly start to uncover things that feel like you simply had long forgotten them. But at the same time, you can’t put these memories on any kind of timeline. They feel like they are coming more from another dimension (for lack of a potentially better term) than they are another “time.”

For one thing, I began to constantly get what feels like pieces of memories coming from this “soul” part of me. I was able to feel that it not coming from the same part of me that my typical human memories come from. But these memories are so vague that I can’t hold on to them for more than a second. However they often offer me some recognition of something. They often feel like a very sudden remembrance and confirmation of something I experienced but once again, on a timeline I cannot pinpoint.

No matter where you’re at in your life in terms of understanding who you are and how things work, I think the most important thing to take away from all this is simply to believe in yourself and trust in yourself. Learn to go within.

Sometimes this starts by simply questioning who you think you are and why. Where do some of your opinions and perceptions come from? What types of emotional attachments might you have that drive your desire to interpret something one way or another?

Try to look at yourself objectively and with an open mind, and watch how your thoughts tend to process things. Are you mostly negative or positive? Where is the negativity coming from, and does it have any basis?

The journey within typically starts with questions and really learning to acknowledge why you are feeling what you are feeling, without judging yourself.

It’s all easier said than done, but it is one of the most worthwhile journeys there is — and it becomes an endless river of learning as well as many rewards along the way. Over time, you’ll begin to have more confidence, depth, and clarity than you could’ve imagined having.

A Little Taste of Spiritual Love, a Piece Written by Sophie Bashford

A Little Taste of Spiritual Love, a Piece Written by Sophie Bashford

“If you choose to love an awakened woman, understand that you are entering into new, radical and challenging territory.
If you choose to love an awakened woman, you cannot stay asleep.
If you choose to love an awakened woman, every part of your soul will be aroused, not just your sexual organs or even your heart.
Frankly, if you prefer a normal life, stick with a normal girl.
If you want a tame life, seek only a woman who has allowed herself to be tamed.
If you only want to dip your toe into the flowing waters of Shakti [Shakti is the concept or personification of divine feminine creative power in Hinduism], stay with the safe, tamed woman who has not yet plunged into the wildness of the sacred feminine ocean.
It is comfortable to love a woman who has not yet activated her inner sacred powers, because she does not push your buttons.
She will not challenge you.
She will not press you into becoming your highest self.
She will not awaken the forgotten and numbed-out parts of your spirit that urge you to remember that there is more to your life here than this.
She will not look into your weary eyes and send a lightning bolt of Truth through your body, jolting you awake and stirring long-lost desires for Soul Love within you.
A safe, unawakened woman will be wonderfully satisfying and soothing to your ego, heart, and body. She will walk quietly beside you and make you feel needed, responsible, like you are fulfilling your manly role.
If this is enough for you then accept it, love her with all your heart, remain faithful to her and thank her daily for the gift of her mild, un-threatening feminine presence in your life.
If this is not enough for you – if your heart, body and spirit is only craving the ‘other kind of woman’, the wild one – then know that you are on the cusp of soul-shifting transformation.
Know that you are making a serious choice with karmic consequences.
If you choose to step into the aura and body of a woman whose spiritual fires are blazing, you are accepting that you need a certain level of danger and risk in order to grow.
Once you begin to love a woman of this nature, you must accept total responsibility for the life-changes that will then ensue.
Your life will not be sleepily comfortable all the time. Your life will not allow you to stay stuck in old ruts and stagnant routines. Your life will take on a radically-new flavour and scent. You will be ignited by the presence of the wild feminine, and it will begin to send electric shock waves of spiritual light through your entire chakra system, attuning you to the call of the divine.
Choosing to be sexually and romantically-intimate with an awakened woman takes masculine courage to walk fearlessly into the Unknown. But it will reap rewards beyond your mind’s comprehension.
She will take you into undiscovered worlds of mystery and magic.
She will lead you, mesmerized and half-drunk with love, into the wild forests of sensual ecstasy and wonder.
She will show you sacred skies so full and burning with stars that you will start to wonder if you are still living on the same planet that you were born on.
She will break and tear you open so that your fierce, passionate heart drives you half-mad with longing. You will want to consume and penetrate her on every level so that your masculine essence can consume and penetrate the world – illuminating the universe with your devoted Love.
She will see you like you’ve never been seen before.
She will trust you.
She will appreciate you.
She will acknowledge your efforts to make her happy.
She will value everything good that you do, and everything good that you are.
She will not run from your darkness, because your darkness does not scare her.
She will embrace, kiss, caress and love you back to life. She will speak words that your soul understands. She will not punish you for your mistakes.
It is a monumental risk to love an awakened woman, because there is suddenly no place to hide. She sees everything, therefore she can love you with a depth and presence that your heart and body have yearned for so hard, so long, so fiercely…that you wonder whether you have actually been alive for all the time that she has been away.
Loving a woman like this is a choice you make to start living with your soul on fire.
Your life will never be the same again once you’ve invited her energy in.
Take this risk on yourself, or step back, stay with the “normal” girl and accept a different, safer, more comfortable and somewhat calmer life.
Just make sure that if you choose the latter, you don’t spend the rest of your days with your eyes looking back over your shoulder, straining to see once again the hazy vision of feminine mystery that has now disappeared from view.
She has long gone..spiraling back up to the Stars, the distant Galaxies and the Heavens…from where she came.”

–Sophie Bashford

Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

In this world we will continually experience battles between the ego and the “soul” or higher self parts of us, whether we realize it or not.

Personally, my first most obvious battle in this way happened when I was 21, when I reached a very crucial point in my meditation sessions (I had been meditating constantly at this age). I had been spending two hours per day, five days per week, at a Zen Buddhist center in New Mexico where I had been living. I had been doing this for months.

Later on that year, I went on a camping trip where I camped out at a music festival for a week with my mom. I was dedicated to my meditation at this point, so I really didn’t do much except meditate there. It became kind of like a meditation retreat, meditating for most of the entire days I was there.

The more I meditated, the more I began to progress into this higher awareness state. This is when everything began to change.

For one thing, my senses were greatly heightened. I remember being able to hear a cat’s footsteps as it was walking around outside, and I could hear them so insanely acutely. The cat wasn’t even that close to me.

I began to sleep in a completely different way. I didn’t like this at all, because I could never tell if I was actually sleeping or not. Some part of me always felt really awake even while asleep, and this was maddening. It was nothing like a lucid dream, in fact I’m not sure I was dreaming at all during this time. If anything I would probably say I was constantly awake, and this worried me as I truly didn’t know if I was ever getting any real sleep whatsoever.

The pressure in my forehead (which I guess would be called the “third eye” area) would become so overwhelming at times that it would practically force my eyes shut, and I would often then fall into those sleep states.

I also became hyper-aware of the concepts we understand ourselves and the world through, and how limiting those can be. They literally serve as a box that keep us from experiencing the true expansiveness of ourselves and the world.

When I talked to people, I felt myself responding with my whole self, rather than just my mind. This is difficult to explain. But usually when we are talking with someone, our mind is conjuring up in the background how we want to respond, or how we want to word it, or just feeling out the response conceptually in general. With the constant meditation I was doing, my mind was not in the way nearly as much as usual, and it was like the responses to people came from the depth of my being without my mind in the way at all. It’s almost as though I had no awareness of myself as I responded to people. I just responded. I was one with the response.

I also began to be able to see all of my mental states happening simultaneously, as though I were watching a movie where these “worlds” were being created. There was a world that my speech created, a world that my thoughts created, and a world that my actions created. Then, there was the pure awareness state outside of all of these, that I was merging with more and more.

I felt intuitively that I needed to have the world of my speech, thoughts, and actions completely in tune. It felt extraordinarily important for these to be completely in harmony, or else I would not be able to maintain higher awareness.

However, as I kept myself in this awareness state through meditation, I also began to become increasingly dissociated. Thoughts felt slower, and I began to feel very disconnected from my body. And the more that I became disconnected from my prior concept of myself, the more I felt like I was walking on air, and not the ground. I was becoming ungrounded. This went on for days. I told myself this was my new mode of being, a new experience of love and expansiveness. The problem was I realized over time that I was becoming out of balance.

I started to feel anxious, and like I was playing with fire. The anxiety spiraled with the pressure of knowing that the fear-filled thoughts I was having was keeping everything out of harmony, and I wouldn’t be able to keep higher awareness this way. But I couldn’t control it. I was beginning to experience a world where I didn’t know the rules or what anything was anymore. I also didn’t know how to consistently operate in a world where my conceptual understanding of things was falling away.

My ego felt the need to cling, to hold on to my prior understanding of myself and the world.

I got to a point where I got a very clear intuitive message that told me in order to continue, I would have to abandon everything I “knew to be real.” I literally had to abandon my understanding of my self, and any conceptual frameworks I had developed of things. Because ultimately, these concepts were limiting me.

The fear that I was feeling took over. It won. It had felt too much to me like I was traveling into no-man’s land, where I was out of control, and the fear of the unknown progressed into full blown panic attacks. For a year or two. I thought I was going insane at this point, because I felt like I had gone too far into this strange land to even come back the same person (I wish I had known at the time that this was just the fear talking).

A counselor I saw later on that was knowledgeable in spiritual things, told me that because I was so young and my ego had not developed yet, if I had “jumped off the deep end” into the unknown, it may have resulted in massive confusion and psychosis. She said very matter-of-factly, “ironically, you have to have a very stable ego in order to be ready to explore the realms of the soul.”

To this day, I still don’t know if that’s true. It is very clear to me now that the intense fear I was feeling came from the loosening of my entire framework of reality. Honestly most people would be scared shitless if, for example, they were to be thrown into the massiveness of space suddenly, feeling as though they were at the mercy of whatever. I did not know how to trust that process. How to trust that if what I understood as my self died, that I wouldn’t really die. Just my sense of self would.

In the moment, our ego can’t differentiate. We don’t realize how tightly we hold on to our sense of selves, because it is what we use here on Earth to operate as a self. It’s all we really know, unless of course we have a taste of our higher selves, and of higher consciousness states.

It was a very scary battle between who I thought I was and everything that encompasses, and my real, higher self. But, this battle was happening at a very rapid pace. At one moment I was embracing my new experience of life, a higher sense of love and oneness, and a temporary new way of operating. Then the next moment I was cowering in fear, extraordinarily scared I was losing control, and losing myself.

My ego won. I stopped. But that’s okay. Because I felt I did indeed delve too quickly and deeply into this new world, and I needed to take a step back. I think the whole process of loosening ourselves from our clinging to our concept of ourselves and the external world is something that needs to happen slowly, over many, many years of time.

It has also taken me years since that experience to even understand that my inherent desire to reach new heights of awareness was due to having a natural awareness to some degree of the higher self, and longing to return to the richer experiences of life that are available through these higher awareness states.

It’s a part of my self that is consistently wanting to bring my “lower” or ego-self up to the higher self’s level.

Having any awareness and experience of this higher self makes it more difficult to live in the contrast of the “lower” self. Therefore, it creates a sense of longing to return to the higher self’s reality. The reality that is far, far more expansive than the limited reality we typically experience here.

Another very important thing that hit me just recently is how real these higher experiences of love, of existence, of understanding, actually are.

The most unimaginable joy, pure love, and living with a higher level of awareness is very. fucking. real. These are not just dreams, a desire for an escape (though it can serve as that), or a plight of the imagination. It is totally achievable. But here on Earth, it’s very difficult. We have to be in such a place of mental freedom and openness before we can ever experience these things without our clinging to our conceptual understanding of things, as well as other mental obstacles bringing us down.

I also realized intuitively after this particular meditation experience that the different part of my selves were out of harmony. I was trying to experience a reality that I didn’t have the tools to integrate. Kind of like when you go on an acid or shrooms trip (which I haven’t done before), you gain great insights, but then you come back down and ultimately it fades into a memory, with very little or no integration into your daily life.

I had slightly more integration with this consistent meditation I was doing, but I also realized quickly afterwards that it was going to be a long road of developing my own tools and everyday awareness before I could hold and process the intensity of the reality I was experiencing during those temporary states.

Nowadays, as I go through this life, I get to experience that higher sense of joy and love much more consistently than I did before. The more I learn and grow, and the more aware I become, the more my mind expands and naturally allows for this reality to be experienced more regularly.

But all of this is where the battle of the ego lies. You might be lucky enough to be faced with the most unimaginable, otherworldly beauty you have ever seen on this Earth, whether it comes in the form of a higher consciousness state or a pure love, and you may experience it for a moment. But then if you have not worked on overcoming your mental obstacles, this beauty will simultaneously arouse all of your fears and any blockages you have that keep you from realizing higher awareness.

It can be scary. And if you don’t surrender, your ego will win, and you will shrink back down into your normal understanding of things, and you may even pretend what you saw wasn’t real. Or maybe you were just going crazy. You might even feel intense fear, anxiety, and anger, depending on the situation. It will all be your ego kicking and screaming, trying to hold on to what it thinks is real.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

But it’s all okay. It’s all part of the learning process. It takes many years, a lifetime, for us to surrender who we think we are and not allow the ego to have such a hold on ourselves. Some of us may never experience higher awareness states at all, until death. That’s okay too — we are all on our own personal journeys, and we experience the things we need to to help our own growth, at our own pace.

“In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
—Kahlil Gibran

The Hidden Grace of Pain and Suffering

The Hidden Grace of Pain and Suffering

A long time ago, my talented best friend and spoken word artist Cory Russo wrote a poem about the power of pain and how it can change us entirely. For me, one of the most meaningful lines from this poem was, “I can make an atheist drop to his knees and pray — I AM PAIN.” (Click here to listen to her entire poem!).

This line is meaningful on many levels. For me, it has only become more relevant and meaningful over time, as I relate it to my journey of life’s experiences kicking my ass and deepening my character in the meantime.

It is my journey of a dominating skeptical attitude into openness, as I became more aware that this skepticism was primarily due to my own lack of awareness and knowledge, which in turn led me to believe that I was knowledgeable enough to assert my opinion on things I didn’t know enough about.

Like most people at one time of our lives or another, I was more aware of popular opinion regarding certain topics that seemed “illogical” and this is the stance I would take, without actually having proper experience regarding that topic.

Skepticism obviously isn’t necessarily bad — as everything should be examined properly and skepticism often exists for a reason.

However at the same time, it has the great potential to keep us closed, and doesn’t always allow us to actually examine from a neutral and open mind state. We don’t have to believe, but we don’t necessarily have to be skeptical, either.

Being open is ultimately about getting to a point in life where you have enough humility to understand that our levels of knowledge are always relative and life truly is a much more multi-dimensional place than we can fathom or experience easily here on Earth.

After 34 years on this Earth, I’m at a point now where I look back and see how much openness has given me vs. how much skepticism did. There is no comparison.

For example, if I had allowed skepticism to dominate what was happening to me during any consciousness-expanding experiences I had at a very young age (without knowing what the F was going on with me), I wouldn’t have learned from it the way I did.

During that sensitive time, I had to completely shut out the noise from the external world and really pay attention to what my own self was telling me about this experience. If I had listened to some others, I might have believed instead that I needed to be reeled in with some medication.

Now, to elaborate on pain and suffering.

Many of us that are trying to understand the mystery of our existence often wonder why, if there’s some sort of higher power, that pain and suffering are allowed to exist to the extent that they do. What is their purpose? Why would a higher power make us suffer seemingly needlessly at times, if there is one?

It is something I had pondered on some occasions myself, but as I grow in awareness I feel I’m starting to understand it a bit more.

There is not necessarily one easy answer, as there are multiple reasons why pain and suffering occurs. Sometimes we cause our own, from our own lack of awareness. In those cases it is just simply cause and effect.

For whatever reason, from a young age I had multiple consciousness-expanding experiences that shattered my reality as I knew it.

My entire life felt like an illusion as I had discovered new inner worlds on another consciousness plane, not produced by thought and conception, but as a literal direct experience.

While I learned certain things in the moment of those experiences, it has taken me years to process each one of them and really understand them more over time.

These experiences did not come from a firmly held belief in anything. They were simply something that happened as a result of listening to myself and following these “feelings” I was getting from my intuition.

I was always very eager to share them with people, but with these not being common or well-understood phenomena, I was usually met with responses like, “are you SURE you weren’t on any drugs?”. Thankfully, this did not make me question the validity of my experiences. They had shaken my world in a way that was unlike anything I could have imagined, and I felt like I needed to share what I saw with the entire world. I felt I had a very important message.

But, people learn things at their own rate and in their own due time. It was not my place to control that, as much as my ego desired people to understand. All I could do is tell my story and leave it at that.

After the first experience, I still did have many unanswered questions about life and existence (and still do). There are many things I simply can’t know yet and am not going to pretend to. Each subsequent experience would show me a little more context, but generally what they gave me was more insight into the nature of our true selves, or our essence.

They led me to understand that there is more to our selves than what we experience here on Earth.

Yet as significant as these experiences were, the insights gained from them felt very obvious and clear. This knowledge is something that is with us all the time! It is just blocked by so many elements of our humanly experience. All of it was completely familiar. It was just finding something so essential that I had just long forgotten.

The best way I can explain it is that it was literally like waking up from a dream (the dream in this case being your current understanding and experience of your entire existence) into a completely new “world” where you suddenly meet your “real” self and you directly experience that you had merely been playing this human role your entire life, thinking that the role itself was you.

What an illusion! And what incredibly immense JOY it was to encounter my “real” entire self again! To see that there really IS more than this human drama we are playing out; that all of our sorrows, our worries, our pain, would someday be put in perspective. It feels like such an insane relief.

I had never known joy like what I felt in that experience. I literally cried for days out of happiness in meeting this part of myself. There is no way I could respond except by just an endless release of emotion. In attempting to explain it to my mom, I’m sure she thought I was nuts. I had no words.

There is no comparison between way that I see and understand life after these experiences versus my perspective prior  — i.e., the “me” at that time that thought, “I have no reason to believe there is any form of existence after death or let alone any higher power. Why would I?”

And honestly, at that time, I was right — I didn’t have a reason to believe it. I had no personal experiences or insight into any other mode of existence, and I was never the type to blindly believe things like this. I was never religious, never believed in God (especially not in the traditional sense), and I had been a self-professed atheist or agnostic. I was once actually almost prideful to proclaim that I thought we entirely cease to exist after death.

That being said, words never fully do an experience like this justice. Unless you’ve had a similar experience, it’s easy to underestimate how much this can shift your entire psychological landscape.

It’s not just, “oh I didn’t know this and now I do,” the way typical knowledge acquisition works. No. It felt like I got a whole new operating system — and it mentally opened up door after door to new realizations. My beliefs didn’t change; I was just simply awake.

Occasionally I would casually ponder as to why this knowledge regarding our selves is as uncommon as it is. Why is it for the majority of us that our consciousness levels are lowered to the point that we have no recollection of these things unless we have some sort of consciousness-expanding experience?

I have learned over time that there is a VERY good reason why we aren’t able to easily remember our existence outside the Earth realm. Continuing to play the “human role” after meeting the “essence” or “soul” of ourselves and seeing that it’s so much more massive than this and not confined to this body, can feel very odd at times to say the least. It can make it incredibly more difficult to focus on just having a normal human experience if we are not ready to properly integrate the knowledge with our existence here.

Regardless, I understood that we are here on Earth to have an experience, no matter what that experience entails. Within the experience will be many trials and lessons.

So, any pain and suffering we may go through — it may be seem needless or unjust, but it’s not us or even close to our entire story.

However, suffering WILL ALWAYS deepen our characters and give us perspectives we may not have been able to have had otherwise. It rounds out our character and strengthens our spirit.

Ram Dass speaks on this all the time. He is a former Harvard Psychology professor who turned Hindu spiritual teacher and later in his life suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.

I’ll take this passage from one of his most recent articles:

“There is a line from a letter that I wrote to the parents of a young girl who was raped and murdered that I would like to share with you. It said, ‘Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. In other words, you go beyond just the horror and pain of it because it takes you beyond it. You can’t bear it and it is only in the dark night of the soul that you’re prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.’

It’s the horrible beauty of the Universe and to realize that there is a wisdom inherent in it, and that wisdom includes suffering and that all suffering is not an error. Until you are resting in a place that understands that, it’s quite presumptuous to think you know best. I have watched in the work I do with people that are dying, where they suffer and suffer and suffer and if I could, as a human emotional heart, I would do everything I could to take away their suffering. It breaks my heart that they’re suffering and I watch as the suffering burns its way until they finally give up because the suffering is so great. I’ve watched as they give up, something emerges in their being that is so beautiful and so radiant and so spiritually innocent, that it’s like they meet a part of their being that has been hidden all their lives. It’s like an egg being cracked open.”

He also talks at length about what suffering through his stroke has given him, and that he wishes that all people could experience the grace that the suffering gave him, but without the unfortunate experience of the stroke itself.

It is from people like Ram Dass and my own consciousness-expanding experiences I was able to have that I feel compelled to share this message:

The experiences we have here on Earth are all for a purpose and there is hidden beauty in them that we will eventually be able to see. The greatest part is that it is not our entire story, so we must have hope that one day we will be able to see the greater context for why we are going through what we are going through.

My wish is that you may retain a glimmer of hope and that every minute, every second that you fight a battle you are strengthening your own spirit (even if it feels like the opposite) and the end result will be something beautiful.

If you’re currently suffering from anything at all, hang in there and know that you are not alone, and there is a bigger picture that you will see one day that will bring you a peace and understanding like you could never imagine.

The wound is the place where the light enters you.” —Rumi

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