Embodied Transformation & Evolution

The Path Towards Our Deeper Longing ~ and the deaths we meet along the way

Posted by on Jan 3, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 2 comments

The Path Towards Our Deeper Longing ~ and the deaths we meet along the way

The deeper longing in us can feel soft and innocent like a deer, or jagged, like a sharp claw across the skin. It changes and moves—it’s alive and slippery and won’t be nailed down. If we do not fully individuate, we will settle for something that isn’t our real desire, that isn’t what pulls deeply at our heart. Then day by day, sometimes so gradually we hardly notice it, our life loses vitality, becomes small and narrow. Our days feel flat and gray. Something dies inside when we live like this. We have sacrificed the deeper current in our river for something that floats aimlessly on the surface.

If we say yes to the force of our evolution, yes to the living river of life, that energy will enter our lives and begin to sweep away the structures that obstruct it. This is usually a frightening process, very easy to avoid for a long time. To grow into our real maturity, parts of us have to fall away; space is needed for the new life that is emerging. Sometimes these parts of us die gracefully. Other times we have to jump right in and assist in the process. We need to become our own merciful death doula, supported by skillful assistants.

We can chose to hide from our deeper longing, or surrender to it–in either direction, death waits for us. When we move with the electric current of our evolution, whatever dies supports the emergence of the unknown and unexpected. We can embrace this radical kind of change if we learn to breathe with the waves of fear, as they come, and offer each one down into the warm lap of the earth. On this true and naked path, we often stumble. We can move, step by step towards our deeper longing if we learn to fall, if we learn to fail. Not just once in a while, but often. There is a mantra in the entrepreneurial world: “Fail early, fail often.” It’s interesting how many people are opposed to this idea. To our egoic self this approach can feel like nails on a blackboard–instinctively wrong, as if I’m just setting myself up for needless failure by even considering it.

I don’t believe life works like this. On the path towards my deeper longing, I face profound challenges and disorienting dilemmas. If I try to tackle these dilemmas by myself, it will be very hard for me. I need allies, I need guides, I need friends; sometimes I need a whole village. One is a very lonely number on the path of my deeper longing. Even though certain aspects of my life may be solitary, I live and breathe in a vast web of life in which everything is entangled, as the quantum scientists say. How do I find these people, these beings, who will support me, love me, offer me warmth and light? It’s quite simple really: life requires of me that I learn the art and science of relating. If I don’t know how to relate from the deeper place in myself, I’ll find myself walking alone, or with people who do not really see me.

 

The Path Towards Our Deeper Longing

Let’s have a look at a bigger picture for a moment. How are we human beings doing at this point in our evolution? Tom Francouer, a beloved philosopher and counsellor puts it this way,
“Given that we are only about a million years old, I’d say we are not doing too bad. But we are not going to win any blue ribbons in the area of relating.” What a masterly understatement! The truth of this is something I touch and feel every day of my life. How could we fail to notice that we are not very good at relating, on this planet?

Perhaps, at other times in our history, the necessity of learning to relate did not feel urgent, even though violence, mayhem and terror were woven into the fabric of life. Today, we face a different kind of challenge, a very intense one. If we don’t grow ourselves up and learn to relate quite soon, our species will very likely not survive. I’m surprised these days, when I meet with people, how many of them resonate with this perception. The truth of this is entering our collective field. Our bodies know this, even if our minds cannot face it fully: the healing and evolution of our relational field is no longer a luxury.

Which brings us back to where we first began: how do I learn to relate? By failing early and often. There is no other way. Human relationships are so complex, so full of shadows and potential trigger points, that there are no real experts. I might have written 23 books on relating, and still say precisely the wrong thing when I meet my son for dinner. Or when I’m lying with my wife in bed. Or joking with someone in the staff room. The ways in which we misunderstand each other, offend and hurt and miss each other, are endless. Even when our love is as deep as an ocean, these painful glitches can happen in a moment.

We need to embody a deep resilience in our relating, like a baby learning to walk. He falls down, and gets back up without a second thought. Old people are afraid to fall, and they are much slower to learn. If we all learn to fail early and often, we’ll find a new place to meet, like Rumi’s green field, out beyond right doing and wrong doing. We need this green field; it’s what our hearts and minds are longing for. To meet the experience of failure directly, immediately, without shame, and to get back up and take another step—this is our future calling us. Can you hear her?

with love,
Shayla

2 Comments

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  1. Pauline Dupas

    At 68 I agree that my generation grew up with the belief that a stable future with no failure was the only path to follow. It is now that I am learning painfully that I need to leave this belief behind and proceed on the great adventure that becomes and will have its failures. Thank you for your insights.

  2. Jonathan

    Your call to developing deep resilience to face into the inevitable disorienting dilemmas that arise as our lifespans extend further into the future, is unavoidable and must be answered. The alternative responses of indifference and numbness are great ways to ensure continued suffering; a recipe for sending these unresolved agonies on into the next generation. Suffering begets suffering, yet with resilience and determination, my legacy will be just a bit freer from unresolved pain. Gratitude for this clear guidance.

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