THE BEAUTY OF A ‘NO’
“On the Tree of Life
there are two birds, fast friends.
One bird eats the fruit of the Tree;
the other bird, not eating,
– The Rig Veda
It is good to stay open to feedback from others, to listen to those who disagree with you. To remain open to alternative viewpoints. To try seeing things through someone else’s eyes, even if you don’t agree with their perspective or conclusion in the end.
But when they cross a line and move from intelligent disagreement and constructive feedback to attack and insult, when they belittle and shame you and remain unwilling to meet, to engage and talk things through, that is something very different indeed.
Of course, you could argue that their behaviour is ‘allowed’, since it is an expression life too. Of course it is. But at the same time, your ‘no’ is also an expression of life! Your boundaries are also completely sacred!
Standing in your power, speaking up for your truth, honouring your feelings and needs – this is also a movement of the Divine.
A clear and direct ‘no’ to abuse, to name-calling and objectification, is not weakness but the ultimate courageous act of self-love. The ‘no’ honours life deeply. It has no venom in it – it is quite compassionate in its essence. It does not shame the other but informs them. It does not attack but protects. It is fire but it does not throw stones.
To the one receiving the ‘no’, it may not feel like compassion! It may feel like rejection and abandonment. It may feel like the opposite of love. It may itself feel like abuse. But perhaps, with time and deep reflection, one day they will understand. Who knows.
We can only speak our truth Now, hopefully in as compassionate a way as possible, and move on. And trust the process. And breathe through our feelings. And remain open to the other’s tender heart, whilst protecting our precious, vulnerable human selves.
Sometimes a ‘no’ is really a great big YES to life!
– Jeff Foster
The ‘trying’ is the self-hatred.
Instead, make room for the part
that doesn’t love.
Or doesn’t know how.
Hold that part of you
in loving awareness.
Breathe into the resistance.
And you will know a love
that is unconditional in nature.
A love that is always present.
A love that never ‘tries’.
– Jeff Foster
‘Blood flowing on the streets of another European city.
People killing people in the name of gods and ideologies and age-old grudges.
Torture, rape, murder, shocking violations of basic human rights. All over the world.
Just another day on this ancient planet.
So, is now the time to give up?
Is now the time to sing more loudly our songs of bitterness, defeat and rage? Is the world a meaningless mistake, an aberration of consciousness, a waste of everyone’s time? Was the philosophy of nihilism correct in the end?
When confronted with news like today’s we can feel so powerless, so frightened, so disappointed, so unstable, like we are living in a world that’s gone mad, insane, out of control. It all seems like a nightmare, like some evil or dark force must be taking over.
Some start talking about the nearing of the Apocalypse. Certainly it can feel like the end of the fairytale world we once believed in.
In the midst of the devastation we seek answers, causes, someone or something to blame, a scapegoat, a way to diffuse our tension, an outlet for all this anger, grief and confusion, this unprocessed life energy. Why is there such evil in this world? Do we blame the killers? Their parents? Society as a whole? The human brain? The food we ingest? Chemicals? The stars? Our governments? Religions? Do we objectify the killers as sick, twisted, deluded, evil madmen? Do we go to war with them as they have gone to war with us, wishing more death and destruction and evil upon them and their children, their mothers, their lovers, their ancestors? Do we enter into the age-old story of good versus evil, us versus them? Do we further solidify our identification with a mind-made sense of self? Do we deepen the divisions? In the name of world peace, do we become terrorists ourselves?
Do we curse God and the Universe and wish we hadn’t been born? Do we try to numb ourselves, distract ourselves from the ‘news’, with alcohol, drugs, sex, work, shopping, worldly comforts? Do we dismiss the horrors, detach our hearts from the hearts of our brothers and sisters in other regions of the planet, turn our backs on their plight, mumbling to ourselves as we read the newspaper on our morning commute about how “awful” things are, then turning a blind eye and doing nothing to bring about change and healing?
Do we broadcast the problem, yet give up on being part of the solution?
Do we turn to spiritual teachers who comfort us with talk about the illusory nature of life and the unreality of all we witness? Do we regurgitate empty phrases like ‘nothing matters’, ‘it’s all just a play upon the screen of Awareness’, and ‘nobody has any choice anyway’? Do we call what we see ‘unreal’ or ‘illusion’, sparing ourselves from the pain of having to confront the messiness and seeming uncontrollability of this relative and impermanent manifestation? Do we pretend that world events have nothing to do with us, that everything is disconnected and we are islands unto ourselves? Do we descend into solipsism? Anarchy? Do we close our hearts even more tightly than they are already closed, build our walls even higher and live in a protected state of fear? Do we reject this world and dream of a perfect afterlife?
Do we use the ‘reality’ of the news as an excuse to give up, to shut down, to forget who we truly are? Do we let the ‘terrorists’ win by leaving our path and living in terror ourselves, and terrorising others who we label as ‘evil’? Do we add to the problems that we see?
Or do we use the appearance of problems to look deeply at ourselves and the way we live and treat others? Do we see the madness as a call to clarity? The violence as a call to love? The pain as a call to compassion? The terror as a call to remember and express more deeply and with more conviction that infinite intelligence that we are?
Do we condone the killings? Absolutely not. Do we feel the pain of the victims, and the victims’ loved ones? Of course, for we are not separate. Would we do everything we could to prevent this kind of thing happening again? Certainly. Do we work for justice? Yes. Do we sit back and simply ‘accept’? If acceptance means detachment and passivity and toleration, no. If it means coming into profound alignment with life, knowing that intelligent change and healing always emerges from a fearless plunge into the mystery of the moment, then yes. True acceptance and creative change are lovers.
In the Middle East, a Jew donates a kidney to a sick Palestinian, saving her precious life. In India, a woman feeds and washes those with leprosy, because she sees that we are all expressions of the very same consciousness and it brings her joy to live in this way, despite the names that others call her. In San Francisco, a son holds his elderly father’s hand, and suddenly forgiveness happens as if by magic, unexpectedly, the weight and violence and resentment of a lifetime falling away, as if it never happened at all.
What ‘news’ are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them that they have been born into an essentially scary and bad and sick world, and they should live in fear and hate? Do we teach them that violence is inevitable and ‘built into’ to their nature? Do we give in to terror and use it as an excuse to abandon our true calling? Or do we teach our children that the murder and torture we see in the news every day stems from a deep forgetting of who we are, a false and misguided belief in separation?
What is the true news of today?
Are we teaching our children to give up on their dreams because there are bad people out there intent on stopping them? Are we teaching them to give up on love, and give up on compassion, and give up on change, and give up on humanity, and give up on joy, because of all the ‘news’? Are we teaching them to focus on what is wrong with the world, to cling to the ‘negative’, to sing songs of defeat and disillusionment? Or are we blinding them to the ‘negative’ by focussing only on the ‘positive’? Are we teaching them to acknowledge the violence of the world, the pain of it, but to see that all this sorrow is part of an infinitely vaster picture, a picture where everything is interconnected and everything makes a difference and everything is in balance and nothing is set in stone?
Don’t use the ‘news’ as an excuse to stop living your truth, even for a moment. Don’t believe for a second that there is a force called ‘evil’ in the world with any power whatsoever to win out over love.
Terror cannot win, for it emerges from a gross misunderstanding of our nature. We are only hurting ourselves, stabbing ourselves, blowing ourselves up, and deep down, we know this and have always known. A wave can never be separated from the ocean, or from any other wave, and beyond our differences in opinion and belief, we are all movements of the One Life, the true Power, beyond the worldly ‘power’ of guns and meat cleavers dripping with blood and trucks ploughing into crowds of innocents.
Teach your children the realities of the world, yes, but, more importantly, teach them the realities of their hearts and the hearts of those they call ‘others’. Let the current play of violence actually serve to deepen your conviction in that timeless and unshakeable gift of Presence that you have always known, and reconfirm your intention to end all violence in yourself, to live as you know you can live. Don’t allow the ‘news’, or at least the stories selectively presented to you as the ‘news’, to distract you from Truth.
Honour the victims.
Walk your path with courage.
Speak out. Create. Organize.
Switch off your fucking television.
Keep your eyes on the prize.’
‘Sometimes I look around this world and a great and ancient sadness moves through me.
Everything is so damn fast here.
I feel like an alien, often.
A slow, mindful, present alien.
I watch people rushing from experience to experience, barely stopping to contemplate the fucking miracle of their existence. Hardly ever taking time to let the wonder in. Going for days and days without ever telling the truth or feeling their feelings.
Running from themselves. Running towards imaginary futures. So mesmerised by the ‘there’ that they forget the miracle of here. So identified with the ‘doing’ that the most precious thing is lost. Being. Life itself. Comfortable. Popular. Fabulous and successful, perhaps. On the path towards a better and exciting tomorrow. Yet so afraid to slow down. Afraid to rest deeply. Afraid to stop and invite in whatever lurks in the deep. The repressed terrors. The anxieties. Unmetabolised childhood yearnings. Unlived lives, unfulfilled potentials, unspoken truths.
Loving the light yet afraid to touch the darkness.
Abandoning the cosmic love that was pushed down in order to survive.
Forgetting the natural joy that was squashed so we could become ‘grown ups’. Neglecting the playful aliveness that had to be numbed in order to ‘fit in’. And now, content with surface pleasures. Success. Popularity. Looks. Achievements. The things that matter but don’t truly matter in the end.
Satisfied with a limited, conditional version of happiness. The kind you can post on Instagram. The kind that you can buy and sell. The kind that has an opposite.
The kind that looks good.
It’s sad to see our great potential forgotten.
Nothing ‘wrong’ with any of this unconscious activity, of course. I do not sit in judgement. I love our vulnerable humanity, and understand the mechanism of running, and we are all only doing our best, given our conditioning.
I used to run. But I had to break down. For the love I sought could never be found in the future. It was always here, buried in my own Heart, closer than breathing.
I only wish that everyone could truly find the courage to stop. Rest. Break, if they need to….’
“ITS ALL YOUR PROJECTION!” Erm.
No. It’s not always your projection.
Sometimes the other person
really IS angry, or sad, or scared,
or judging you.
Or fleeing themselves
by shaming you.
Sometimes you really CAN trust
your feeling, your gut intuition,
Sometimes it’s not a question of working on yourself more, clearing up your projections, but of simply standing in your truth, knowing yourself more deeply, validating your own vulnerable human experience.
Sometimes you’re totally projecting.
Sometimes you aren’t seeing clearly at all.
Sometimes it really is YOUR anger,
It’s your own incorrect thinking.
It’s your own unmet material
thrown onto the ‘other’
(really yourself). You must look for the truth
in each and every moment.
There’s no formula. No map.
Truth is alive!
So stay mindful, present, aware.
Don’t settle for easy answers.
Be willing to LOOK.
With humble, open eyes.
– Jeff Foster
IN TIMES OF DARKNESS, TURN YOUR LIGHT WAY UP! -Jeff Foster
When someone calls you names, reduces you to a thing,
When they offer advice you didn’t ask for,
When they blame you for their pain,
When they do not listen to you, and endlessly talk about themselves,
When they compare you with others,
When they ignore, invalidate, judge or ridicule your thoughts and feelings.
Know it’s their pain, not yours.
Know they are dreaming the only dream they can dream until they wake up.
Know that they don’t know you, only their fantasy.
Perhaps they find it hard to love themselves.
Perhaps they seek their worth externally.
Perhaps they are disconnected from their breath, their bodies, their precious aliveness, their true calling.
Perhaps they live in a dualistic world of good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure.
Perhaps they have forgotten the simple joy of being.
Perhaps you understand this.
Perhaps you have been where they have been.
Don’t try to change them now. They may never change.
Don’t try to fix them. They aren’t asking to be fixed.
The more you push, they more they’ll push back.
Don’t get entangled in their web of sorrows.
See clearly, even have compassion, but don’t push.
It’s okay that they are upset. It really is.
Give them space to be upset.
It’s okay that they are disappointed in you.
Give them space to be disappointed.
It’s okay that they judge you. Make room for their judgements too.
Make room for your own thoughts and feelings!
Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, guilty, doubtful.
Let all these precious energies wash through you.
They will not harm you, as you allow them to move.
Yes, you will meet many gatekeepers on this journey.
Walk your path anyway, and allow others to walk theirs.
You don’t need to justify your path, or defend it.
Stay close to yourself in these challenging times.
Do not fight the darkness; it has no power anyway.
Simply turn your light way up.
THIS IS MEDITATION
Let what comes, come.
Let what goes, go.
Don’t try to push away what comes.
It’s already here and it will pass.
Don’t try to cling to what goes.
The leaving is natural. Bless the leaving too.
Let what stays, stay.
Let what dies, die.
Let what lives, live.
Be the wide open space
for all of it.
Every thought, every feeling.
Be the awareness.
Be the ocean.
Allow the waves.
This is meditation,
your True Self.
– Jeff Foster
‘In reality, your world is set up so that nothing happens to you, but everything happens for you – for your awakening, for your growth, for your inspiration, for your exploration – even if you forget that, or sometimes cannot see it, or sometimes fall into distraction and despair.
When there is no fixed destination, you cannot ever lose your destination, so you cannot ever lose your path, so nothing that happens in your life can take you off your path. Your path IS what happens, and what happens IS your path. There is no other.
Everything is a gift on this unbreakable path that you call your life – the laughter, the tears, the times of great sorrow, the experiences of profound loss, the pain, the confusion, the times you believe you’ll never make it, even the overwhelming heartbreak of love – even if you forget that sometimes, or cannot see that sometimes, or lose faith absolutely in the entire show sometimes.
But even the loss of faith in the show is part of the show, and even the scene where ‘something goes wrong’ is not indicative of the show going wrong, and so you are always exactly where you need to be, believe it or not, even if you are not.
Life can be trusted absolutely, even when trust seems a million light-years away, and life cannot go wrong, for all is life, and life is all. Understand this, know it in your heart, and spirituality is profoundly simple, as simple as breathing, as natural as gazing up at the stars at night and falling into silent wonder.
The universe is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
– Jeff Foster
BE FULLY ALIVE
There is no love without loss.
No heart without heart break.
No joy without tears.
The trick is
not to annihilate
from your life.
But to hold it ALL
in your vast and ancient heart.
Be the sky!
Hold the thunder, the snow,
the sad moon,
the glorious Sun.
Hold it all.
And you are free!
To be fully alive.
– Jeff Foster