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Blog Post

Our Relationship To Practice

Published June, 2024

Making Sacred

To endeavor in practice is to engage in the art of “making sacred”—carving out space in time where the unconscious may be made conscious. Humans have long sought contact with the Mystery that undergirds the whole of life. In the material world, we might build a cathedral or temple as a space set apart, hallowed. Or we might construct symphony halls and studios to house the inflow of the creative force—the intention being to provide a container such that the profane can undergo the conversion into the profound. To endeavor in practice is to shift from a state of being as an isolated, closed system, recycling habituated patterns of thought and action into one based on a relationship between self and the Mystery. Put simply, practice is the vehicle through which we convert tumescence into Eros. Within the walls of practice, the vital energies of the unknown can make contact with the default survival patterns that are passively grooved into us. Beneath these patterns lie the untapped potential of our humanity.

Dynamic Relationship

To shift oneself into living as a dynamic relationship rather than a static reality is no small matter. To do so is to work as a sculptor, carving away what is not us, so that who we truly are is revealed and ultimately liberated from the confines of static identity. We fundamentally exchange systems of order. On their own, the pre-practice, default rational and ideological systems we employ that precede this shift, leave little room for the Mystery to circulate. Instead, they dictate that we receive the world in the boxes, categories, and classifications that we seem to have been born with. Information and perceptions are sorted accordingly in terms of the preexisting. Reality is made to fit into our constructs. We take reality in.

Practice-Based Approach

In a practice-based approach to life, the aim first and foremost is to dissolve the preexisting so that we may then offer ourselves to know reality on reality’s terms. This means our practice exists first to be destructive. We take down the walls, the filters, the sorting mechanisms, and the stagnant energy that blunts our contact with the living, breathing, self-evident truth of each moment. We make ourselves available for reality to communicate itself to us, rather than demand it deliver itself in forms we’re familiar with and then protest when it will not. And so, at its foundation, all practice rests upon humility. Not the head-bowed feigning of humility that typifies spiritual tradition, but the humility of admitting the futility and cost of our selfish demands. Having been driven by them so long, we come to the hard-won realization that no matter how valiant the effort of the will rooted in the self may be, self-will employed in opposition to reality will eventually lose every time.

Humility and Truth

Our soul yearns for us to learn this lesson experientially; and indeed, we repeat it as many times as we require in order to accept that it is not so much virtuous as it is practical to remain with this humility. We find that it renders us willing to relate with life as an interconnected participant, not a would-be director. Over time this humility matures and presents not only as the willingness to receive and be altered by deeper truth, but by an unwavering fidelity to it. It evolves further into a willingness to release anything that does not align with the flow of truth, and finally employs us in the activities that are our nature: ease, joy, and incandescence. Humility, not often associated with thrill, becomes one when we discover how to move in pitch-perfect response to constantly shifting and ever-emerging truth. Being at once rooted in the truth and moving with it confers a sense of dynamic stillness... and from this stillness we dissolve into the clear radiance that is the substance of the Mystery itself. This is making love, where the self melts in the warmth of the light we have sought. This is the promise of humility.

Relationship with Truth

Before all else, our primary relationship then is with truth, and at the root of all truth is love. Truth is the vehicle that will deliver us to love every time. The tumescent, pre-practice mind is not engaged in a relationship with, so much as it is interested in a dominion over. When we live under its rule, our default programs always attempt to drive us to a peaceful slumber—physical comfort and pleasure free from irritation. We are offered a surface-level life with a promise of safety so long as we follow the rules; the first rule being to remain on the surface and suppress the itch to discover what lies beneath.

Accessing Deeper Truths

In practice, we carve out access points to the deeper dimensions of truth, gradually flooding the surface with love from below. At the beginning, each new channel we forge provides a temporary reprieve from the dry, arid surface—a place we can enter when we need some refreshment. The effect is cumulative.

We discover love wants to be liberated in every facet of our lives. The surface, now weakened and no longer able to delude us, washes out completely, and the surface-dwelling “you” is absorbed into and becomes this truth. We are relieved of our self—that pain-manufacturing machinery comprised of the ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and preferences that keep us buoying on the surface. We can finally sink down and know the true dimensions of our self in the depths—in our uniqueness and in our universality.

Practice Mindset

In the pre-practice mind, we must defend our rightness. Tumescent thinking is based on the rational, so arguments will be made against us, which we must in turn overpower. Everything is assailable. In the practice mind, defense only works to keep us from our birthright of freedom. Our practice then becomes the free person’s means of cultivating their plot of land. The composting of old ideas eventually bears the fruits of realization. Our relationship to this land, to our practice, is itself a practice. Remember, the root of all truth is love, and the root of all practice is love as well.

Love of Practice

We practice for the love of practice, the discovery, the uncovering. We can either trek terrain like a mule, trudging along hoping for a carrot, or like an adventurer who loves the path unconditionally. We are not practicing to become a good or even better person, to find peace or feel better. We are not practicing to acquire new skills or assume the identity of “practitioner.” We are not even practicing to feel more, or increase our sensitivity or connection, or any of the various outcomes that often occur as the result of practice. We practice in order to liberate the active, sentient, intelligent, and life-seeking aspect of Eros known as desire.

Desire and Mystery

Deep within each of us lies a yearning. True desire, when activated and followed, becomes an agent of what we most yearn for: a living, breathing relationship with the Mystery. That yearning is the Mystery seeking itself. When, through care in practice, we offer ourselves (our attention, time, frustrations, vulnerability, inexperience; essentially our heart), we are met with access to the heart of Eros. Where outside of it we were confused, irritated, and out of focus, we are now granted entry into the interior world wherein lies a living presence—the source that naturally orders, clarifies, vivifies, and feeds that hunger of the heart: the need to know, to touch, to be made whole by this force that surrounds us and is now moving through us.

Homecoming

We come home, curing the homesickness of which all suffering is a symptom, and inhabit our life on its terms. The tumescent fixing that consumes everyday life resolves on its own. We discover that it, along with judging and comparing, dissolves upon contact with our practice mind. They are rendered unnecessary as that chronic background sense of “something’s wrong” is now made right. All along, it was seeking for this contact with itself. Practice then is where we allow this deep-seated hunger to draw us to sustenance. We are drawn by this desire to this living presence, this source, to be changed, informed, emboldened, and attuned in the process in order to access more through this exchange with life itself.

Embodied Experience

The Mystery draws us ever more out of known patterns, habits, and needs into the only thing that will truly gratify: the spacious field where we get to see our experience through life’s eyes. Here the dramas, the jealousy, the love, the passion, the angst, the isolation, the grief, and the yearning play out as rich and beautiful textures and sensations, not as problems and obstacles to be solved, but as rhythms and notes to be first felt and then played through the instrument of the body. And so develops a respect, a care, a tending to the body as the instrument through which all experience is known. Each day a tuning, an inquiry into what would facilitate this pitch-perfect response to life, brings about this sense of presence. Not in spite of the body, but because of and through this body, through its tenderness and frailties, we know the whole of life from the most subtle to the most extreme.

Incarnating Truth

And so we make it our life’s work to incarnate. This is where we start, with gentle care, attending to and including the body where we might otherwise like to go faster or higher if we were without its discomforts or drives. Instead, we make the body our particular point of access. Rather than going “up and out,” we move into and through the body and, as a result, are rewarded by Eros’s first experiential lesson: truth is whole and can only be accessed when everything, even the lesser, the slower, the lower, is loved and included. 

We are rewarded by the sense of devotion and fidelity that only the “lower” (the body) can confer. Our body becomes the most loyal friend and guide. We develop a trust in life we may have never known as we enter a wholly honest relationship. People spend their lives lying to their bodies, telling them they need to be other than they are or that they are somehow unnecessary or inconvenient. Our bodies forgive us and reveal a whole new possibility as the truth is revealed: our bodies never lie.


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