The most beautiful quality of all in a human being, in my humble opinion?
The ability to listen deeply.
To listen from Presence. From stillness.
To listen without trying to fix someone, or change them, or ‘save’ them.
The ability to allow another to be exactly as they are.
Not giving unsolicited advice. Not lecturing them about the latest psychological research or the ‘most true’ spiritual teaching. Not trying to mould them, manipulate them into matching a concept of who they ‘should’ be. Not projecting your own trauma – or traumatic answers – all over them.
Just listening. Listening with an open mind and an open heart and a receptive nervous system.
Allowing them to breathe, to express, to weep, to question, to be completely unique, to expand into the space, to discover their own truth.
I have met world experts in intimacy, relationships and honest communication who are unable to do this.
I have met spiritual gurus, so-called “enlightened masters”, expert psychologists and life coaches who are utterly unable to do this.
I have met popular teachers and authors on ‘listening from the heart’, ‘holding space’, ‘pure awareness’ and ‘embodied spirituality’ who are unable to do this.
It is a rare gift – the ability to allow others to be exactly as they are.
Broken. Whole. Sad. Angry. Afraid. Lost. Awake or asleep. Whatever.
To listen to them with every fibre of your being.
To receive them through the senses, to listen like the wild animals of the forest.
To swaddle them in undistracted, fascinated attention.
To envelop them in a silent, warm Presence.
To make them feel – in those precious moments that you are together – like they are the most beloved One in the whole Universe.
When you sense this kind of sacred listening from someone, it’s unmistakable.
God does not exist for me on the tip of a sharpened sword
or on the lips of a sermonizing hate-evangelist who is foaming at the mouth
or in the licking flames of a torch held by a marching bigot or in any dogma that have been soaked in the ancient poison of guilt and self-shame
the divine doesn’t exist for me anywhere where wounds are being caused in its name
I don’t know about how any of this works but I’ve never found much of God in the towering hierarchy of unchecked power
the Great Mystery isn’t a cracking whip or a flag or an internet manifesto or a pointed finger or a political party or a dividing line or a box of ammo or a corvette driven by a tv preacher or a specific gender or a book bonfire
Creation is more of a florist than she is a fundamentalist
the Weaver of Life is more interested in stitching us together into a quilt than how to separate us into metal bins
to come into relationship with Unending Love shouldn’t require us to loathe ourselves~ it should be the exact opposite
to know ourselves is to know God
to love ourselves is to love God
I believe that the divine is just about everywhere
~ except in the slow-poison sands of fear and control where so many have built temples for us to worship inside
~ in those places
I am an atheist I don’t believe God has ever existed
but everywhere else
there is so much fertile soil
where we can let the sunflowers of empathy grow wildly in the spaces between us
and I’ve heard that if we remain still
and listen so very closely these evangelizing sunflowers will whisper to each of us a secret we once knew while we were cooking in the cosmic womb:
You are pure Awareness with very human wounds. You are indestructible Light, untouchable and infinite, yes, but you are also deeply sensitive, fragile, a human with a tender heart and unspeakable longings, and more questions than answers.
Do not abandon yourself for the Absolute, friend, but do not lose yourself in the relative either. Just see them as One. God taking shape. Non-duality dancing as duality, as the deep mystery of the belly, the throat, the genitals, the hot blood and the yearning for home and the search for union, and the restlessness and the rest, and the boredom and the joy of this ordinary life.
All form is sacred here, since all form is formless here. The relative is absolute in its holiness here. Your pain is not an error here but a call to home. Your sorrow is not a mistake but a movement of divinity. And even your sense of incompleteness is complete, and your feeling of unworthiness has endless worth.
The old dream of perfection has crumbled. The old myth of spiritual enlightenment has turned to dust. The untouchable gurus with all the answers and no human flaws have been swept away.
Certainty has been destroyed by fire.
What is left to trust now but the belly and the throat, the whistle of the kettle and the pitter-patter of rain hitting the roof, and the laughter of children, and the pressure between the eyes and the loneliness of evening, and the yearning for God and the simplicity of breathing.
The spiritual patriarchy is collapsing under its own weight. The fear-based notions of how you “should” be. The sad ideal of bliss and light and only positive vibes. It has destroyed souls for too long.
A new spirituality is dawning. One that allows for imperfection. Healthy shame. Flaws. Not knowing. Allows us to doubt. To feel sad. To break. To be groundless yet know our ground. To be Light yet love our darkness too. To be Awareness yet maintain our humanity.
A spirituality not of opposites but of inclusion. A spirituality of the feminine and the masculine working in harmony. A spirituality of the breath, the dirt, the erotic, the taboo and the inconvenient, the impure and the unfinished and the unknowable.