Embodied Intimacy, Transformative Inquiry, Creative Emergence

Falling into the Wild Radiance of the Heart ~ our nature as never not broken

Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 5 comments

Falling into the Wild Radiance of the Heart ~ our nature as never not broken

I have discovered, over the last decade, a great love for goddesses. I’ve been inspired by them, and deeply nourished. They speak in a language that is wild, non-linear and indecipherable by the mind. They seem to be the ones who are involved with the really messy side of life, like Inana, who went down and down into the underworld. As she descended, Inana was stripped of everything she thought she owned, everything she thought she was. That was her journey. From Queen of Heaven to someone hanging on a hook, in the underworld. Somehow, these goddesses are indestructible, even when the very worst keeps happening. Clearly, we need this kind of encouragement, as we struggle with what Deena Metzger calls the ‘grave affliction of extinction illness.’ As we feel the impacts of the ecological catastrophe, our global culture continues to unravel in hundreds of different ways. There is nowhere to look these days, without glimpsing the escalating chaos and destruction.

Some time ago, I was introduced to a goddess I had never heard of before. Her name, Akhilandeshvari, also known as Akhilanda, means never not broken. Or always already broken. She displays the power we can access in the place where everything is falling apart – when we are right up against it, with no idea of how we’re going to make it through the day, or even through the next breath. When we have no idea how we will protect our beautiful planet from the unending ravages of destruction. When we have no idea how to feel the depth of the grief that arises as we face the extinction of our own species and thousands of others.

Akhilanda rides on a crocodile. The crocodile lives in the middle of the river, in the constant, wild flow of life. A baby crocodile, as it grows, is not learning how to cross the river, but to live in it. It’s the same with this goddess. What Akhilanda offers us is not anything to do with getting across to the other side, ascending, getting higher, attaining something better. It’s a very different kind of possibility we are looking at here – so different that we might feel disoriented, a little dizzy, or nauseated.

I’ve had this feeling of vertigo come over me while doing deep inquiry. When my reference points fall away, my whole sense of right and wrong, good and bad disappear, and then my body no longer knows what’s up and down. I feel like I’m kind of spinning inside. Which is very interesting, because this is how the crocodile disarms it’s prey. It grabs the creature in it’s jaws, and then goes into the river and spins it around until it’s done.

So here is Akhilandeshvari, riding on this fearsome creature, and living in the middle of a wild river. Why would I feel devotion for such a goddess, why would I want anything to do with her? Don’t we ask for refuge from goddesses like this? Isn’t this my real prayer: “Please Akhilanda, spare me from ever having to live like you do. I want a safe and solid existence. I want to know what I can count on.”

At this point, on planet earth, none of us has the luxury of knowing what we can count on. Other then very deep inner resources that do remain unbroken in the face of utter catastrophe. Our prayers for safety, security and stability are becoming rapidly outdated. We don’t need what we think we need right now. We need real courage, we need a radical kind of love, we need to come together and get naked: share our grief, heartbreak, loneliness and fear. And our passions, our deepest dedications.

We need to create new prayers together, and Akhilanda can help us with this. She is offering us direct contact with life as it is. This direct contact is frightening; it doesn’t leave us a safe place to stand. But it does offer us wholeness.

What is always already broken in Akhilanda is her heart. Her heart has been broken open, shattered, so there is nothing to protect or defend. The power that she offers us is a divine capacity – something we don’t often encounter in the human realm. It’s the willingness to stop holding ourselves together.

Have you ever had this feeling, when you looked back at a very difficult time in your life, that you were much too strong? That you didn’t know how to let go, to crack open and let life hold you? That there might have been help you never dreamed of in that place of great suffering, if you had only known how to receive it?

Sacred Heart Pat Fleming_n

Hardly anyone ever taught us what true wholeness is. We only know how to protect ourselves from the wild unpredictable nature of life. “I’m keeping it together,” “I’m staying on top of things,” is good news, in our culture, and “I’m losing it,” “I’m falling apart,” is bad news. The crocodile goddess offers us another view. In her eyes, life is always falling apart. Everything that comes into existence is going to fall apart. To try and hold ourselves together is to struggle against the nature of existence itself.

Everything spirals and spins. Children, molecules, atoms, whirlpools, tornadoes, dervishes, universes. We don’t want to fall into the great spin, into that vortex. Of course we don’t. That’s why we have to love ourselves so much. So that we can discover that Akhilanda lives in us.

We don’t want our hearts to break; that’s the very last thing we would ask for. And as long as we are living our lives inside the impulse to protect and defend the heart, we can never discover its true nature.

There always will be a sore spot. It is just an open wound, a very simple open wound. That is actually very nice – at least we are accessible somewhere. We are not completely covered with a suit of armour all the time. We have a sore spot somewhere. Such a relief!
– Chogyam Trungpa

When we finally fall on our knees, when we reach the end of our own rope at last, when we come unglued – what gets shattered are only the walls around our heart. We find, to our great surprise, that broken and unbroken both live in us. They were never the opposites we thought they were.

There is a sorrow beyond all grief
which leads to joy and a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being


with love,


photo credit: Pat Fleming, ‘Sacred Heart’


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Stan

    Yeah, this is really undiscovered and unmapped territory. There’s so much spiritual talk about finding your true nature, as if there’s some stable core or center or understanding I can finally operate from. This post, and my recent experiences running into wild goddess territory, point to “true nature” as an unscheduled and uncharted unraveling, that ( if it’s ok to be poetic) leaves me raw and shaking in a larger world, that has become very personal through omens and messages and uncanny synchricities I start to notice. It seems messy and beautiful, not “I’ve got it together”. Anyway, thanks for this post.

  2. Charon

    WOW wow wow Shayla … a perspective most noteworthy and liberating. ‘Notorious’ just appeared and as such a smile emerged. Can only imagine what is being pointed to … or out.

  3. Diane Steinbrecher

    Very beautifully expressed–the human journey.

  4. Meranda

    Hmmm. This is the scary perspective I resist but feel I need to embrace. Maybe I am doing it in my own way already, just not acknowledging it? Thanks Shayla.

  5. Michele Wilcox

    Yes, there is the sense that we continue to be birthed by this neverending womb, and as it somehow in the ongoingness of it all, the deaths and rebirths we are being in-formed by and as. Having signed divorce papers last month after 36 years of marriage, I am seeing and being seen from a new perspective, having been so spun around by that alligator angel She rides a little differently from Kuan Yin surfing in on her dragon. I had never heard of Akhilandeshvari either, but I sense our kinship! Thanks again for your enheartened sharing that does light up the neural network we all share.

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