I’ve probably listened to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth CDs in my car 12 quillion times. Each. I can tell you where I was, geographically speaking, and what I was looking at out the car window when I GOT this or that Eckhart-thing for the first time. One of those aha-s found me riveted to my beloved Prelude driver’s seat in the underground parking garage of my P St. Sac apartment as Eckhart discussed Relationship as Spiritual Practice. I GOT it.
Two gratingly stereotypical things I’m discovering the longer I’m here: a) I as the identity knows nothing and b) when I think I do, I really don’t. There’s always a false bottom, always a trap door, an opening in the back of the wardrobe. Relationship as Spiritual Practice? No different, and in a very big way.
Years ago, sitting in that parking garage sparked new worlds of understanding for me about where I’d been and what I wanted in a romantic partnership. And until recently, that meant practicing, at the highest level I knew, enacting “spiritual” realizations about myself within relationships. Which is absolutely true. But having recently fallen through the back of the wardrobe into a completely unknown new wonderland of Relationship as Spiritual Practice, I can see that that’s not the half of it.
Sometimes when I step through something I thought was solid (“step” is an hilariously inaccurate term—“misstep and fall screaming” is usually much more appropriate), through something “known” and comfortable (which always comes down to a belief), it feels like the rug is pulled out from under me. I never see it coming—I can’t. I thought “it” was the truth! The wind is knocked out of me; it’s like falling through the floor while you’re in a bathtub or dropping 20 stories on a rollercoaster. Sometimes that fall is perceived as extremely painful and life-threatening. Sometimes it’s just a small jolt. But I often land hard on my ass, bruised and disoriented, and it often takes a bit of time for me to get any kind of conscious awareness around what just happened.
The false bottom in my previous experience with Relationship as Spiritual Practice was that it was about me consciously practicing what I was discovering about me.
Sure, there’s practice, but it’s not always a classroom-drill like activity of enacting new discoveries made from reading a book, a conversation, a realization, a dream, whatever. That’s the false bottom. When that falls through, R as SP is more like having my heart torn out of my chest, clawing and shrieking, knowing I’m going to die and then finding out I just imagined the whole thing and I’m actually just fine—it wasn’t my heart getting ripped out after all, merely my old beliefs I assumed as truths. Sometimes there’s no conscious allowing or awareness of this process, in fact, it’s often all resistance. But then, somehow, a little bit of light. A lightness. From anger, a curiosity. From rigidity, a release.
Who I thought I was is dissolving. Was always dissolving.
The illusion of identity thins down to the head of a pin, to nothing, to the pinpoint of this moment. But in a millisecond, in a moment, in any moment, unconscious thought rushes in, fills that space and the movie screen, as Byron Katie would quip, is back up. For the moment, I’m entranced. And then the rug, the falling. The dissolving. So it goes.
It’s not that there are many paths, it’s that everything is path. Nothing but path. Resistance, allowing, staying, leaving, shutting out, opening up, putting a foot down, bending a boundary—all of it: path. In fact, “path” is only a concept. And as we always return to here, there is only now. As Amir Zhogi says, in every moment we are either waking up or we’re fighting to stay asleep. That’s it. In this physical form, my conscious commitment is always to waking up. My unconscious commitment however, appears sometimes only slightly stronger on the waking-up side. That seems to simply be the way of it, and it’s enough. That push forward, that step into the fog—it just happens, maybe sometimes simply because standing in one place too long is painful, like the need to change positions during sleep. The identity illusion is strong, but not as strong as the truth.
R as SP, like any SP, eventually exits the realm of the comfortable and known, just when it felt like you “had it wired”, and drops into a deeper place of holy-shitness. I don’t care if it’s tennis, or cooking, dog massage or anything else, if you stay with it (which results in it staying with you when you can’t hold on any longer), this practice becomes the decoder ring to the matrix, and we find out who we really are. The illusion thins. The game continues, but more now as player than played.
The practice stops being a conscious practice and starts practicing you.
Relationships can serve as a practice that goes hyper-deep, hyper-fast, because they’re so close to our hearts and so present in our daily lives in such a concrete way. When you live with someone, you can only hide from yourself and your partner for so long before there’s a choice: reinforce or dissolve. I’m grateful to dissolve, and to have the most amazing partner who holds my heart and my body in love when I can’t see up from down, when dissolving feels like death. The illusory identity/ego’s perception of itself is dissolving… but into what? Into Who We Really Are. Into Love.
I’m in. Even when I’m out, I find I’m really in.
It’s in dissolving our protections that we find we are invulnerable, and in my opinion, that’s what we’re Here For; for the illusion of separation to disappear and to realize the wholeness, the oneness that was always all there ever was and all that will ever be. Living from that place; could there be a more critical time to be called to do this? LiveLove&BU, my friends.
Two men enter; one man leaves!—Beyond Thunderdome
Image credit filebb.org