Radical awakening in ordinary life, by Jeff Foster (a summary by Pat Evert)
- The wholeness of life
Don’t try to change or escape your present experience, just accept what is here. Even if the feelings are undesirable, accept them as they are. As waves in the ocean, so are all my experiences in me. Who am I? I am as the Ocean, the unchanging one. Waves come and go, but the ocean remains. All my experiences are waves. They are all allowed, otherwise they would not be here. Every wave is allowed in the ocean. You and I are beyond words. Who I really am has already allowed in these thoughts and feelings I am experiencing. The real me cannot say ‘no’ to this. I cannot separate myself from life.
- Why do we suffer?
When we forget who we are, that is when the suffering begins. Then the wave starts to look for the ocean, the wholeness. We become a seeker looking for wholeness. We think we need something. What do you long for? When I try to describe myself I identify as someone in the past or future, but my story is not me. If I am the sum of my experiences, when will I be complete? Everything is impermanent, except the ocean. I am already at rest, I need not become anything. Even when the waves are violent, the ocean is at rest. It cannot be destroyed or threatened. Consciousness is in disguise. They might appear different, but they are all the ocean. Sadness, fear or anger are all accepted by the real me. It is all beyond my control. It is life happening. Don’t try to control life or block out some of the experiences. Maybe it doesn’t need to be controlled. Maybe it knows best.
- The ocean of acceptance
The author was an obsessive seeker of enlightenment. He had a breakdown and wound up in the hospital. He was always trying to maintain and control his life. This depression was a giant invitation to awaken, to rest. From depressed to deep rest. Life knows how to bring us to an end of ego’s resources. What we seek to escape is who we are, it is all part of our completeness. It’s just the simple recognition of what has always been here. The miracle of life includes the desirable and undesirable. Recognize that you are accepted and loved in your completeness – unconditionally. I need not filter out the parts of my life I don’t like. The real me needs no protection, and allows everything in. I need no improvement. The entire universe is exactly as it should be. Discover how every moment is perfect! This is the end of suffering. Admit the truth, 1) allow it in, 2) notice it as acceptable. I am ever only facing myself. Don’t try to escape this present moment. This is the end of war with yourself.
- An exploration of present moment awareness
Every moment is an invitation to the present moment. Nothing is a problem, no imperfections. Discover how ‘even this is allowed’. Even my imperfections are perfect (pain, addictions, etc.). Even that resistance is allowed. I am loved.
- Deep acceptance in everyday life
We forget who we really are. “Wisdom tells me I am no-thing and love tells me I am everything, and between the two my life flows”. Notice the difference between ‘feeling’ and ‘being’ something. When we forget we feel separate from all else. We make up a story of our image, but this is not who I really am, only an image. Who I really am is beyond all stories, all images. It allows everything. I am not a success or a failure, a sad or happy person, a brave or fearful person. I am everything. No image can capture all that I am. Who I am is a capacity of weakness, ugliness, etc. I allow all feelings to come and go. In the present moment you’ll see all kinds of feelings. Presence accepts all the feelings without becoming any of them. Thought says there is not enough or too much … there is always something lacking or something that needs to be fixed. Only consciousness sees it as it is. We have an image of what this moment should look like, what awakening should be like. Suffering is that gap between what is and what we think it should be. The ocean is how it should be… even if it is pain or sadness. This is not a block to awakening, but an invitation. Life will threaten and even destroy your image. You are not who you think you are. You are so much more vast. Don’t fear to allow in failure or unconsciousness. It will not overwhelm you, only your image. There is room in you for despair, for …….. Ego is there with fear to preserve your image.
An awakened woman for 50 years with two weeks to live felt like a failure, unable to be OK with that moment. A sense of failure is OK. We use the image of Buddha (fat and happy) to punish ourselves. In the ocean there is no such thing as always or never. Stop trying to control this moment. The aliveness of this moment is not my enemy, especially those I think should not be there. Life will burn up all my images. It is all allowed in this moment.
Who I am does not resist the waves. It doesn’t push away any of the waves, whatever life gives you. Who can say this wave should not be here? Our whole life we have been avoiding failure and seeking success. Allow failure and you succeed. Grow into your true vastness. You do not need (a better) tomorrow. Forget about escaping or waking up tomorrow.
Life is constantly in motion. There is no such thing as a stationary, permanent wave. Illustration – a spiritual man with anger. We are impotent to control this moment. Some waves we feel are unacceptable i.e. A wave of powerlessness. To allow this will overcome me and make me powerless. Freedom is not about getting rid of waves, the negative or dark. But rather freedom is to accept these unpopular feelings. Accept the powerlessness, all things are allowed in me. We forget this wave is accepted in me. These imperfections I hate in myself are not imperfections. Who says they are bad? These are expressions of my perfection. I am what you are. Our stories separate us. Acceptance of all that is in us is love. Enlightenment is not a goal, it is who we are. Everything that is happening has already been allowed in.
- Pain and illness
The end of conflict. So easily we forget who we are. We are hurt or angered. Love is this capacity to accept everything. Love is who I really am, unconditional acceptance. It is not something to find or accomplish, but what we already are. If I don’t realize it in myself I will seek it in others. Waves cannot define me, I am the sum of all waves.
We all want to tell and believe our story, but we are much greater than our story. My image alone can be threatened, not myself. Another might say I am a failure and there is truth in that. I have failure within me, but I am not a failure (my image vs. me).
I can admit the truth that weakness is in me, so also is failure, dishonesty, stupidity, unkindness, judgment, etc. All these are allowed. I find them all in me, I feel them in me, but that is not who I am. When someone hurts me, feel it before moving to defense or attack.
Holding an image, pretending to be something I am not is the origin of all conflict. Feeling hurt is allowed, but it’s not who I am. It cannot hurt me, so allow yourself to feel it.
What does it feel like to be hurt, a failure, dishonest, stupid, etc? Admit it, the real you has already admitted it. Notice and acknowledge what you have already done. I could spend my whole life defending my image of how I see myself. My whole life, all that happens to me, is the invitation to discover who I truly am. Don’t see yourself as the hurt one, the unloved. This is the beginning of conflict, that of forgetting who I am. This may seem like an impediment to awakening, but rather it is food for awakening. You cannot block awakening.
I think Adolf Hitler forgot who he was. I cannot say I am separate from him or different from him. The question is always, ‘What am I trying to defend?’ Conflict only leads to suffering. You are who I am, why would I want to go to war with myself. I don’t have to live up to an image. Allow whatever is to happen, instead of trying to control life.
Humility and humiliation are an invitation to let go of the image. Any image can be humiliated. Don’t defend yourself, allow the death of your image. Feel that heartbreak. Only that which is false can be destroyed. How do I love when I am hurt? And love the one who hurt me? Discover this deepest experience of who you are.
- Love, relationships and radical honesty
The completeness I am looking for cannot be found. I am complete. Ego can never be complete. We think of our relationships as stories. What does true honest communication look like? We forget who we are. We look for intimacy, stop pretending I am my story, an image of strength, or so and so. If I give up my image maybe I will lose my loved ones. To stop hiding behind my image, I might be weak for the rest of my life. Is that OK? Do you want something from them? Then your love becomes conditional. I will love you if… you have forgotten who you are. You feel unloved and you want to go to war. Feel it, allow it.
When I don’t feel loved I withdraw my love from you. Love isn’t missing, it is appearing as this feeling of abandonment. This is part of the invitation. People cannot be controlled, they all feel as you do. When you forget you have the capacity of all these feelings you identify with the feeling. To feel unloved, does not mean you are unloved. The feeling is allowed to be here. You need not find love in others, you are love. Nothing is a block to love. Stop demanding love from the other.
True love and honesty is expecting nothing. No need to get something from them or to change them. Feel the hurt, allow the sadness. You cannot make the waves or feeling permanent. The only permanent thing is the ocean, yourself. I have no enemy, person or feeling that is not for my good. Whatever is appearing now is the ocean, exactly as it should be.
The hurt one either attacks or withdraws, but you cannot end a relationship. There is no need to manipulate the other, or to pretend the pain is not there. Admit the pain. Reveal yourself as who you truly are. Trying to find fullness in a relationship just won’t happen. I cannot look to you to complete me, I am already complete.
It is OK to not know what to do. To not be in control. Stop pretending and admit the truth of what is. Admit it to the person in front of me. All thoughts have a place in what I am.
- Addictions – beyond pain and suffering
Life can become very challenging, waves in the ocean quite fearsome. Pain can be intense, extreme. Freedom is not escaping the waves, not freedom from pain, but freedom in the pain. I am ‘in pain’ is not an accurate assessment. What is pain? It is not a solid or fixed local. It is a dance of sensations. Are they still or moving? Does it have edges? Texture? Rhythm? Temperature? Color, shapes or sounds? It is a mystery of life. Pain is not the problem, but rather our reaction or attempt to escape is the problem. I am not a victim to which pain is happening. I am a marvelous capacity that has allowed this pain.
I cannot be overwhelmed by this, it is only a threat to my story. I am only facing this moment of pain. The mind wants to make a story about past and future, “this is going to kill me.” Pain does not get in the way of my life, but only in the way of my my plans. Pain is part of life, it is no impediment to my spiritual progress. I do not need to get rid of it or escape it, learn from what I have allowed.
Just sit with the painful emotion. Don’t try to manipulate, change or escape it. What is the invitation? How is it drawing me away from my image to myself? Maybe there isn’t a problem after all. The only problem is forgetting who I am and identifying with these emotions.
‘I used to think I knew you, but now I wonder, who are you?’ Sit with the urge to escape pain. True acceptance is unconditional. Every thought, every feeling is allowed.
Addictions, we want to move from the negative to the positive. But opposites only exist in our minds. I feel incomplete so I seek fulfillment. I have forgotten my completeness. Rest in this moment of discomfort. A future fulfillment outside of myself will never come. Remember your present fullness, you are love. I do not need …….
To seek power from another, person or thing, is to give your power away. Nothing is missing. Just sit with your urge, allow it to be there. Don’t push it away. Don’t judge it, feel it. You don’t have to either remove it or give into it.
It is only a wave and I am the ocean. It’s a natural part of life.
What we truly long for is deep acceptance. Accept it. I lack nothing. Even the feeling of lack is welcome. I am not an addict.
- The search for spiritual enlightenment – the challenges of spiritual awakening
It’s not a goal or achievement. It’s about discovering what already is. Don’t miss what this moment has to offer. Don’t forget who you are. Don’t fear the waves.
Awakening is not the end of the waves. They don’t even become more gentle. It’s not being strong, but rather open to whatever comes. Awakening is a discovery of who I am. It is not a protection from pain, or a path of bliss. I need no protection. Suffering is trying to escape this moment. It is futile to try to avoid what is.
This moment is home, don’t try to escape from it. Who I am is alive, vast and free. The mind turns who I am into a concept of who I am. Our true home can never be lost. Even the feeling of being lost is accepted. Certainty is allowed to rise and fall, doubt is deeply allowed.
Why shouldn’t this wave be here? It belongs here. What makes me think it shouldn’t be here now? The ordinary is the extraordinary, don’t miss it. The miracle is always here.
All my life I have been told I am not ……… enough. I am as I should be. Rest in your imperfect perfection. I am already accepted, unconditionally loved.