Monday, August 27, 2012

Falling in Love


Welcome Mel, it is a pleasure to hear from you.  And Bamboo, thank you so much for joining us.    

Today I want to try to talk about a special kind of love.

It startled me a little to find so many wonderful comments over the weekend about friendship, a relationship I have always found bewildering.  

I think that if friendship had come naturally to me, the Conversation as I know it might never have existed.  I might not have needed it enough. 

The Conversation is the alternative to friendship for me, as Innermost House is the alternative way to live.  Both are my only alternatives
—my only friendship, my only way to live.  I suppose it is possible I could have lived without them, "As though to breathe were life." 

Reading through your thoughts and feelings helps me to understand better what I mean by friendship and the Conversation.  I see that without the Conversation, friendship doesn’t have meaning for me, and without friendship, the Conversation would be meaningless.  The two are almost inseparable.

Julie, you said that much of what we are talking about applies to the ultimate friendship of marriage.  Yes.  This agrees with my experience.  To me the foundation of what I call the Conversation is a special kind of love that began with my marriage.

When I first met my husband I was not looking to fall in love.  My passion took me by surprise.  I thought I was looking to disappear into the woods alone.  Michael quotes Moliere

        My one condition is that you agree 
        To share my chosen fate, and fly with me 
        To that wild, trackless, solitary place 
        In which I shall forget the human race.

It is almost as if the kind of love that makes true communion possible for me depends on a certain estrangement from the ordinary world.  Strangeness is in its nature.  It was as though my husband were there waiting for me, on the other side of the human race, the strangest of strangers.

Every Conversation is a falling in love.  Every Conversation is a meeting of strangers who will become deepest friends around the fire for a few hours of a night.  Every Conversation is a journey we take together only once, a first meeting and a final parting.  To me it is the very rarest, dearest luxury.

What am I saying?  Why are strangers friends to me, and friends strangers?  I think it has to do with something I remember, something I cannot forget.  It is a time out of time, nearer to me than the next moment, when everything was a surprise, and I was everyone, and everyone was me. 

When people meet and fall in love, I think they are surprised.  When strangers meet in innocence, perhaps they are surprised for a moment, surprised into something, and out of something too, some burden.   

I live in a state of surprise.  I cannot seem to get past the beginning in friendships.  Or as my husband says, I cannot seem to back up from the end.  I can only meet others as closest intimates.  In truth I am really only interested in the innermost things, so I love to meet strangers, even for the briefest exchange.  And for a moment, I can be that stranger to them.

Through my husband's Conversations I have shared a deep friendship with many.  Then it is as if the "time" in friendship stands still.  It is a special kind of love.  I believe it is still friendship, but it doesn't "go" anywhere.  There is nowhere to go.  We are already here. 



48 comments:

  1. Hello, Diana. As you can see, I believe the consensus was that we ALL have found friendship to be bewildering, at least in the way society presents it to us. I think I am on the verge of grasping your startling and brilliant idea about the "time" in friendship standing still. It is so obvious, now that you mention it, that there is no need for friendship to "go" anywhere. Oh Diana! You are bewildered by friendship but you are the only person I have ever met who has seemingly apprehended the real meaning of it. You must be the easiest friend in the world to have. I'm going to dream on this one. I can hardly wait to see what our friends have to say. Thank you.

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    1. "Then it is as if the "time" in friendship stands still. It is a special kind of love. I believe it is still friendship, but it doesn't "go" anywhere. There is nowhere to go. We are already here."

      - Do people generally try to romanticize friendship.. meaning that we get a little taste of something good and try to turn it into a preconceived arrangement or project -- perhaps out of insecurity, boredom or even obligation? Is that where we error?

      I really love to hear Diana's reassuring words that the moment is usually enough; that there is nowhere else to go. We can stop the expectations and planning... and romancing of each connection we make with people.

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    3. Brilliant, Leah! For myself, I am surely glad when I have hit it off with someone; when I have been liked...but that is as far as it goes really. If I had been disliked, that would have been fine too. What I generally find, however, is that my new acquaintances, who are professing that they are literally "ga-ga" over me, must really despise me or feel sorry for me or something. They will not be satisfied until they have made me over in the image of themselves. (Wherefore ME, then, Dear Lord?) Naturally, if they succeed at this nonsense, they are going to like me even less, and it will be thought to be my fault even though I didn't seek to be liked by them in the first place...sigh. Nine times out of ten, I have merely offered a heartfelt and smiling "Good morning!"

      Yes, the moment is usually enough. Beyond that, one or the other party (or both, for complete dysfunction...) will be quickly cast into role of Eliza Doolittle!

      So it looks like friendship can't be "taken" anywhere outside of its own moment. I am as light as a feather today. YAY!

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  2. " I cannot seem to back up from the end. I can only meet others as closest intimates. In truth I am really only interested in the innermost things, so I love to meet strangers, even for the briefest exchange. And for a moment, I can be that stranger to them."

    One of the most satisfying periods of my life was when I worked as a (volunteer) hospice chaplain. It has been the only time when the people I met were operating in the Place where I dwell and feel comfortable - though my family also enter that Place comfortably to find me, but I am incapable of getting out of it, as a mermaid cannot leave the sea.
    The people I met in hospice - dying and facing bereavement, wanted mainly to think and talk about ultimate things; love, reconciliation, faith, the world of light, the context and nature of being, truth, life, death, necessity. They lived in the plainest and simplest of pared-down worlds, all trivia dissolved. We got on famously. From the moment I arrived at their bedsides, usually we found a place of meeting, and were able to travel together in an intensity of joy, peace and wonder at the fulness of life as it expands in the light streaming from the doorway of death, the way home. By contrast, in a cocktail party or a coffee morning, I am just a stumbling nitwit with nothing to say - the most tedious of companions and an embarrassment to myself.

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    1. People often ask "if you only had one day to live, what would you do?" It sounds like you live every day like that, Ember, and it must be an amazing place to dwell.

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    2. Ember, I worked as a private duty hospice nurse for a time. I spent twelve hours a day with my folks. Every day held the "surprise" of falling in love as Diana has told it. These relationships remained always in the present moment where relationships belong. When left my shift each morning, there was literally NO TELLING if either of us would be there the next day. And if we did meet again, it was a whole new surprise for both of us! I have so many stories to cherish from this time.

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    3. like...like...like... :)

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    1. I deleted my original post because it sounded kind of like sour grapes, but I have to admit that my experience of friendship has been less than satisfactory when I truly examine the psycho-dynamics involved. This was my original post:

      Diana, do you have any early memories, and if so, how young were you? I ask this because your description of being with people ("It is a time out of time, nearer to me than the next moment, when everything was a surprise, and I was everyone, and everyone was me") sounds like the pure seeing of a newborn infant who, still without ego, has not differentiated between self and other and lives strictly through the senses. If this is how you perceive the world (and if so, lucky you!!), then it's understandable that your idea of 'friendship' can only be an encounter that occurs in the present moment alone, which would certainly cause you to be confused when you inadvertently become aware of another person's separate existence in time. It seems to me that in your type of perspective the beginning of a friendship WOULD also be the end because each moment would be complete in and of itself and there would be no need of any linear progression in the relationship in order to reach for its still 'undiscovered' wholeness. Your type of friendship is more like looking at a snapshot or the stills of a movie frame by frame and seeing the completeness of the event out of time. I really do feel that for most of us still operating from ego, what we call 'friendship' is merely a relationship based on unmet needs/desires that our ego convinces us we don't know how to provide for ourselves or that will divert our attention from the discomfort of having to feel our own inherent emptiness. It's an unspoken business deal. In most friendships (at least those I myself have been in or have observed in others) there is a co-dependency which is mostly unconscious until our needs are not met by the other in some way and we come face to face with our personal expectations of what we thought we could get 'out' of our friendship through our willingness to 'give' to others what we feel we cannot give to ourselves in the hope that they'll reciprocate in kind (and this goes for intimate partnerships/marriages as well). These needs, based on the dysfunctions of our particular personality structures, cause us to seek someone else to validate our loveability and innate worth--a task that by rights, we should be taking care of for ourselves instead of hoping that someone will do it for us. If we can't truly send our own love to ourselves and bask in our own feeling of self-worth (and this can be done only when we recognize, identify with, and love the truth of our unchangeable essence that goes beyond our identification with our personality, body, actions or feelings), then we're doomed to seek out friends and partners whom we think will fill this yawning chasm in us and yet who will always disappoint us when we come to realize that we can't 'get' love from outside ourselves. Is this friendship? Diana, you can consider yourself a true friend because you appear to have come into this world with your psychological work already complete, but most of us would be better served by working on being our own best friend first. When we already feel completely fulfilled even when we're in total solitude, then we're ready to be a true friend. Until that time, we're mostly learning through our friendships what friendship is NOT, at least that is, if we're self-aware enough to catch ourselves in our ego-created delusions.

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    2. I do believe it is true that most friendships are self-serving at best. -- And no, your post is not sour grapes :) I really appreciate you sharing these points. I certainly could not have expressed it so clearly. A also see the conditional love I place in relationships/marriage so I can relate to that point as well.

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    3. I agree with Leah. Thanks Pam :)

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  4. Such golden poetry...and bread and wine in the mornings!

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  5. At the end of Diana's post I read "There is nowhere to go. We are already here." And out loud, I exclaimed "Yes, that's it!"

    I have been mulling over my actions, or rather, non-actions towards a fellow co-worker/friend for over a year now and just recently decided to let it go and just enjoy our current friendship, but now I understand it a great deal better. The situation was that when she first came to our company via an OTJ program we had an instant rapport - it didn't matter that she barely spoke English. We found ways to enjoy each others company and help each other. After 90 days, her time with us ended. We exchanged email addresses and said we would keep in touch.

    But I didn't hear from her and something kept me from making contact, and I felt bad about that. Now I understand that it's quite all right because what was actually happening is that I didn't want to jeopardize our connection by opening the door into my and her larger life, where we both would become "less" to each other.

    I'm happy to report that after nearly a year, my friend was actually hired on and together we have a "moment" each day when we first greet each other. No matter where we are, or what we're doing, we stop and give each other our full attention and energy. It grows until we are practically grinning like little kids and we say "Good Morning" and REALLY mean it! And she always comes by my work station to say good night as she leaves. I can't wait for those moments everyday and it's enough, because we are already there.

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    1. You and your friend have found your way then, Shea. This is priceless. What I am getting from your story of friendship is that love is HUGE. It requires a lot of space to thrive. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

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    2. Shea, I love your profile picture! It looks like someone communicating from another dimension :0D

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    3. Yes Julie, once I let go of the feeling that we should be More, I was able to fully enjoy the Moments that have became HUGE!

      Thanks Ember. That is the window reflection of a tree house I stayed at a couple of years ago, up near Mt.Rainier, WA,where slipping into another world when you're not paying attention can sometimes happen!

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  7. Sorry about the deleted comment. For some reason the same comment was published twice.

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  8. I just this moment opened this quote in my inbox:
    "What a thing is relationship, and how easily we fall into that habit of a particular relationship, things are taken for granted, the situation accepted and no variation tolerated; no movement towards uncertainty, even for a second, entertained. Everything is so well regulated, so made secure, so tied down, that there is no chance for any freshness, for a clear reviving breath of the spring. This and more is called relationship. If we closely observe, relationship is much more subtle, more swift than lightning, more vast than the earth, for relationship is life. Life is conflict. We want to make relationship crude, hard, and manageable. So it loses its fragrance, its beauty. All this arises because one does not love, and that of course is the greatest thing of all, for in it there has to be the complete abandonment of oneself." - Krishnamurti: Letters to a Young Friend,12"

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    1. Pam, I think you must have the coolest in-box in the world! Just want to tell you that you are a huge highlight in my own in-box! xx

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    2. Haha! PAM NOT SPAM! Way to go!!

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  9. Just a thought. When I read falling in love defined by a psychologist as "a collapse of ego boundaries" I found this very illuminating. As I have difficulty telling where I end and someone else or the world in general begins, and I easily lose myself in another person, falling in love comes very readily to me - not (only) in the sense of finding a sexual partner but in the sense that my ego boundaries are more like mist than fences, so rapport is quick and easy. However I get into trouble because people sometimes mistake this for entering a friendship with all its implied commitments and loyalties. I have to be very careful, because though it can be a handy ability to cross over into another person it can be almighty irresponsible as well. So I set very firm problem-space boundaries making myself hard to reach, and live very privately, otherwise I am always disappointing people.

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    1. That's very interesting. I think I might be doing something very similar, but I haven't thought of it that way. A recent friendship ended with the other party obviously feeling completely let down by me and I wasn't able to understand why, particularly as we were in the same boat about a lot of issues.

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    2. Ember, as we all got fond of saying the other day, I could have written your post! "My boundaries are more like mist than fences."
      Katrina, I have experienced an ah-ha moment myself here. For a second there, the sea of my befuddlement parted.

      Diana said, "It is almost as if the kind of love that makes true communion possible for me depends on a certain estrangement from the ordinary world." How amazing that she set out into the wide world with her innocent and wide-open self, looking to disappear into the woods alone, and encountered Michael on the other side of the human race! What are the odds of this do you think? What are the odds that she didn't instead run into a wolf in sheep's clothing? I think those odds were slim. Ember mentions the inherent dangers...

      Long ago, I set out on the same adventure as Diana did, with the same intentions and the same spirit. Back then, people often remarked that I "glowed", that I had an "aura", and a remarkable "vibration". The fellow that I encountered said as much himself. But what he made of this was that I was amenable, moldable, and useable. I'm afraid I have since thrown a bushel basket over my little light for protection's sake. If both parties in a relationship don't set their egos aside, then neither one can.

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    3. But Julie, this relationship you have with your husband is the perfect school for learning to keep your heart open and vulnerable, no matter what. The only way to do that, though, is to drop behind the surface circumstances and just witness your husband's assumptions about you as an ego, a body, and a set of expected responsibilities as separate from the part of you that has remained the same from birth, through childhood and into adulthood--the Witness Consciousness. Practicing staying anchored in that Witness is, as Katrina so beautifully said, "flowing from the Source of Love". Tall task, but for each of us it is the sole purpose of existence--to learn to re-identify with this inner Witness as our real essence and live and move and breathe from that perspective. This is how Diana lives and it is why we are so attracted to her story. To me, she represents true humanity as it is meant to be lived. Everything else that we accomplish in the mundane world, no matter how great or useful to others in the phenomenal world, is just window dressing and subject to decay and change.

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    4. Pam, I thought I would share something that I shared with IH some time ago when the conversation turned to destitution. IH had checked on me to see where I was since I hadn't commented in a while. He said I should have shared it, but I didn't. Anyhoo...Here gos: "I have been following the Conversation closely, however. I just haven't had the energy to respond and, in any case, The Conversation is now touching upon my own experience so closely that I would only be repeating what is already being said. All of you are helping me more than you know to sort things out. I am in the midst of destitution at this time and, believe me, there is much here to be feared. The "blessing" in this is perhaps that I no longer have the energy to do anything but lean upon the Everlasting Arms--I'm surprised to find that I am not flying into my formerly customary panic and dismay. Not at all. My secret, unspoken wish has always been to be upheld by God or not at all. (Our most deeply held desires must always be kept in secrecy, you see.) I believe you once told us that Diana said that at the END OF EVERYTHING came Innermost House. I may be very close...This period of pain has allowed me to begin to "reel mySELF back in" from the wide world. There was very much less to be retrieved that what I had thought. I am meeker than I imagined I was. This is encouraging.

      I am glad that we "Conversationalists" are now experiencing the safety of the Conversation. To the other participants, I think that each of us has come across as being very personally strong and capable in our writings. All have seemed to be so much smarter and more together than me. But now, in the Space Between, we are at last face to face before the fire with our knees very close together, keeping it real.

      Well. It would seem that I HAVE come up with a bit of energy for sharing, after all. Again. Thank you for thinking of me."

      I became ill after an injury almost a year and a half ago. Somewhere in the midst of this, my ego seems to have lost interest and kicked the bucket. If not for the injury, I am sure I would still be in there "swinging". Haha. I love the way you have worded this Pam. (I always do.) I am in the beginning phases of what you are proposing here. I am keeping as open and vulnerable as I am able since no other attitude is really available. But I am now dropping behind the surface circumstances and witnessing my own assumptions about MYSELF as separate from the part of me that always has been. Does this make any sense?

      I found something on facebook today that kind of made me chuckle. It is so baldly true: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=460924810606935&set=a.115634591802627.10872.115203495179070&type=1&theater

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    5. God bless you and keep you safe in your journey, Julie. The compost is in the lily but the lily is in the compost - it is always only a matter of watching and waiting xxx

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    6. Dear Julie, I just read your comment. What amazing fierce grace you're experiencing right now as you surrender into the unknown while your physical and financial foundations are being shaken asunder. Yet, there is also something so very comforting that when we can allow ourselves to rest in God's hands instead of trying to hang on with dear life to the familiar vestiges of security and safety, we are never abandoned. You strike me as such a strong person, and yet even the strongest among us need to know that we can be vulnerable and can look to others for support. I would be so happy to be a listening ear for you should you need one. Just email me privately when you feel the urge, and know that I wish you only the best outcome--a true healing of heart and mind and body.

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    7. You strike me as being very strong too Pam. Of course, if pressed we would probably both be obligated to deny this...Thank you for the very generous offer, friend.

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  10. Ember, I like your descripton of falling in love as being the collapse of ego boundaries. In your description of hospice work, isn't that exactly what is occurring and what we would hope our friendships and intimate relationships could be like over sustained time, moment by moment? In working with the dying, when we finally know and accept that the last time we will be together on this earth plane is just around the corner, we are more able to step back in surrender to the realization that we were never in control of Life after all and thereby we finally relax and open ourselves to true communication, friendship, wonder, gratitude and forgiveness. Everything we held so dear about our own needs and expectations about what life should be like so that we can defend and maintain our ego boundaries is seen for what is really is: a total waste of the glory we might have experienced in our lives if we had been willing to step out of our small selves and relax into the mystery of the Love surrounding us on all sides. Falling in love may be described as the collapse of ego boundaries, but rarely do the walls remain down which is why we also fall OUT of love (and friendship)! When I read Diana's description I was saddened by how different her experience of friendship is from mine, except in the occasional moments when I'm able to step out of my ego and rest in the spaciousness of 'just one thing'.

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    1. "I like your descripton of falling in love as being the collapse of ego boundaries. In your description of hospice work, isn't that exactly what is occurring . . . "

      Yes - exactly so. The reason it was safe to do so with gay abandon in a hospice is, of course, that the terminus was in close view.

      " . . . and what we would hope our friendships and intimate relationships could be like over sustained time, moment by moment?"

      For me at least, I find this does not work. What happens in practice is that either individuals want more and more of my time, and because the rapport is so intense it makes them feel let down when I set limits, or they hope I will be immediately and completely available to them with little notice, and are disappointed when I am not.

      For this reason I prefer to interact online or correspond by letter, as writing fulltime requires a discipline of solitude and concentration. But when and where appropriate, I find human interaction a very beautiful thing, provided there is no small-talk. The presence of the holy in a human being, and the vulnerability and complexity, are a source of wonder.

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    2. Ember, your words: "The presence of the holy in a human being, and the vulnerability and complexity, are a source of wonder." are very beautiful. Diana mentioned her own feeling of amazement and wonder as she moves through life. To this I would add 'gratitude' as a natural, concurrent response to the awe.

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    3. :0)

      I ought in fairness to mention that the collapse of ego boundaries thing is not always lovely - there have been people in my life who have robustly loathed me. Most of those that I am aware of have been teachers and clergymen. This could be because they are authority figures I threatened in some way simply by being me, or because their wisdom and spiritual maturity allows them to perceive my inner corruption.
      Apart from being loathed and loved I am usually overlooked; hardly anybody recognises me in the street, or anywhere else without some kind of prompt.

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    4. When a person no longer feels the need to protect or defend themselves, has seen through the illusion of their own ego's boundaries, and can therefore be a clear mirror for another, it can elicit great fear (which may be masked as loathing) in the other person who comes face to face with their own 'stuff' reflected back to themselves.

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    5. I have been robustly loathed myself, Ember. I am beset on all sides those gifted with the ability to "see my inner corruption." Bwah-hahahahaha! (snort!) is all I have to say. I salute you for your own gift of invisibility.

      "The presence of the holy in a human being, and the vulnerability and complexity, are a source of wonder." May I share this, friend, with your blessing?






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    6. :0) Share whatever, of course. x

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  11. "It is almost as if the kind of love that makes true communion possible for me depends on a certain estrangement from the ordinary world."
    I think this must be so; in the same way that worldly friendship is friendship with the world and therefore not flowing from the Source of Love. As we move away from the systems of the world to our Creator we move closer to each other. We are moving from lack of Trust to Trust, from seen to unseen, material to spiritual.

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    1. Exactly! Beautifully put. Thanks, Katrina! I suspect that in conversing with Diana in person there is a true sense of being heard, accepted and valued just by virtue of her ability to open her heart (and keep it open!) to everything and everyone as equally good and worthy of love because everything and everyone IS Love. This, at least, was my experience with my own Guru. With my Guru I felt 'known' in a way that I had never experienced before, in which, like Diana said, there was no beginning and no end to the union between our souls--we were as one person. My Guru's third eye was open and I could ask her a silent question in my mind and she would answer me out loud. If we embraced, she moved her arms exactly at the same instant as I did and in the same way, so that we were mirror images of each other. When I walked behind her I was so enrapt in feeling the Silence she exuded that I lost consciousness of my own body as separate from hers and felt like I was just another appendage of her body, like another leg or something! It is a quality of being that I would wish for everyone to experience at least once in their lifetime because it absolutely transforms one's understanding of life from a mere set of infinite disparate elements into the possibility of one unified whole. For the rest of my life I know that my relationship with my Guru will be the benchmark against which I evaluate all other relationships I have or will ever have. But, this blessing is also a curse. Since being shown this glimpse of the Truth I can no longer be content with the ego-based way of being, and to not be able to rest in my Guru's inner spaciousness as she does as a constant way of 'being' is like an ache in my heart that never goes away. It has fueled my spirituality and kept it burning brightly and has urged me on to opening and surrendering, and opening and surrendering, and opening and surrendering, as each new way my ego comes up with blocking the resting in this inner field of impersonal universal awareness arises. I can think of no worthier pursuit to which to devote the rest of my life and so I continue to search within and without for ways to keep my focus on That.

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  12. I have always been naive. I still am in spite of lots of letdowns. I almost always believe what I am told because I don't expect people to lie to me. I used to want to be more "savy", but now I am happy that I am this way. That way I don't have to bother with judging people. I am not saying that I don't get different vibes from people, but that is intuition and I wish I WAS better at that.

    I have met many people that I call "old souls" (phrase not coined by me). The type of people that you just feel like you have known forever. Most of the time these people just float in and then out of my life. Usually I remember these people and what they said. I just figure they were sent to me for a reason at the time. Rather mysterious, but delicious! These people are the type that you feel free to open up to. But, I have to use caution, because, like I said, I tend to be a bit naive.

    I don't want to go through life with a suspicious attitude. I am pretty much "what you see is what you get". Living that way can keep you out of a dangerous web. Sometimes it can get you into one, lol! I am rather blunt sometimes. Working on it....

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    1. So glad I caught you here today, Sherry. Like, Like, Like! You are living on the right track, because the opposite of naive is not a pretty picture. (And you ARE a pretty picture!)

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