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THE HOLE IN THE WHOLE

Last week, a teacher of mine said the line, "As much as you are longing for Mother Earth to hold you, remember that Mother Earth is longing to hold you too." When she said that, I could feel something inside me remember that truth, and release whatever falsity had been in its place. It was so good to remember. 

What we don't have the capacity to recognize, when we are in the grasp of the tiny human self, is that there is a much bigger realm in which we exist. Every living being is a creator, and we are all creating on an individual piece of a much larger canvas in which all of our creations are inextricably linked. Our creations are linked with our ancestors, to each other, and to our collective future together. Our canvases are linked to the tides, to the sun, to the trees and the earth. They are linked to the stars, universes beyond ours, and the place where time and space converge. 

Alan Watts has this beautiful line: You are the process. You are the big bang unfolding. You are an expression of this unfolding, and you are held inside of it. You have a place to rest, where you don't have to work to be anything other than who you really are. You are perfect as far as Life is concerned, and Life wants to hold you well. When you don't know how to let Life hold you in this way, there is a you-shaped hole in the whole and it hurts us all. 

This larger canvas on which we are all creating is outside of our conscious awareness day to day. When we are in our habitual patterns and modes of thinking, we can only see our individual piece of canvas, and we tend to get irritated if that canvas gets disrupted. We forget that we share that canvas with the rest of creation. So when that canvas gets messy or complicated, we can believe that we did something wrong, or that we didn't do enough right. But the truth is that our canvas is not actually ours. We forget about the other forces that are also at play. For instance, the wind could gust and blow sticks and leaves all over your beautiful canvas. Your canvas is not yours alone; that canvas is shared with billions of other people, not to mention the plants, animals and the wind. The perfection of our individual canvases can run away with our imaginations. We can get so caught in tending to the made-up idea of their perfection that we totally miss the beauty of the harmony happening in the bigger picture.

  

The world at large is acting on a scale that we often cannot comprehend, so we make stuff up based on what we were explicitly and more importantly implicitly taught about how the world works. We make demons out of ourselves or each other, and we carry on with -isms and othering because back and back and back this how we have collectively made sense of the world. Except it doesn't make any sense... at all.  These made-up misunderstandings keep us in a very uncomfortable bind, which we really do not like. Then because we feel uncomfortable, we attack ourselves and each other, rather than the wicked implicit agreements we were handed down about how this world works. The thing about letting Life hold us is that it gives us the power to break the implicit agreements about who or how we have to be to exist in the here and now.

So much of what I move through with clients is surfacing the obedience to our tricksy implicit agreements. Because the agreements I'm talking about are on the scale of society as a whole, they look very, very real -- and they are. They do exist. It is not that they don't exist. It is that they only do and continue to exist because we do and continue to obey them. Obeying them is unconscious; we don't even know we are doing it. Because we don't know we are doing it, we don't know how to stop. So we continue to hurt ourselves, and each other, because somewhere inside of us we believe we have to. We cut out parts of our deepest soul and we offer them to false gods in the hope that we will be loved, accepted, belonged and held. We expect others to cut out parts of their deepest soul because we have had to and we now see this twisted thing as a form of love or respect. But no god - or human - who is worthy of our souls would ask us to cut out any part of them in order to be loved, accepted, belonged or held. This is a mistake that costs us our sacred life force. It is that sacred life force that will save us, and each other, if we let it.

This is not philosophical but practical. Each time we break from a wicked agreement with our friends, our partners, our parents, our roommates, our bosses... the agreement ceases to exist for a moment. In that moment, all parties have the ability to choose another way. This is not to say that all parties will choose another way, but just that the chance is there. If you're asking me, there is no holier thing we can offer each other than the chance to liberate. 

The world at large is burning, and yet, this is the only way it could be. It cannot change until *we* change. The world is just doing what the world does. It is adding the vectors of us, as human forces. The world is just doing the math. It cannot change until the formula changes. It cannot change until we learn how to break away from the implicit agreements, and stop bowing at the altar of the false gods. We have to turn back toward our own sacred life force, and that of our fellow human beings. 

 

I went to see Báyò Akómoláfé at CIIS last week - a man whose work makes me feel at home in body. That night, he spoke about ants that wind up in what he called a "death spiral". In his recounting, ants use pheromones to get away from their hill, and back again. And sometimes, something gets a little wonky and the ants wind up in a circle, rather than in a line - and because they wind up in a circle, they will continue to circle until they die. This is what happens to human beings as we continue to obey wicked agreements and bow to false gods.

  

Now, depending on which "spiral" from which you would attempt to break, this choice varies in degrees of challenge. It is not generally easy. But we can struggle in the spiral towards death, or we can struggle breaking away from it, towards Life. I know what it's like to be writhing on the floor calling out to god to give me the strength to continue on my own sacred path. The new-age idea that if you're "on your path" the world builds you a personal fast lane is a gross deviation from the truth. Breaking away from each spiral will include struggle. But each struggle away from a death spiral makes you stronger. Each struggle away from a  death spiral builds in you the faith that breaking from the spiral ultimately makes things better - not just for you, but for everyone. It creates openings, it strengthens us, it betters our abilities to handle adversity, it allows us to break away from more and more hypnotic spirals. When we do this, we give ourselves the opportunity to surprise ourselves. We inspire others. We build our dreams into the world, and we pave the way for those who come after. We get the idea that we actually can be who we most deeply are, and this is the only thing that encourages others to do the same. Everyone can feel this kind of deep, loving, strong security. It is undeniable, and magnetic. It changes hearts, minds and worlds.  

 

Without you inhabiting every single cell of your unique human offering, there is a hole in the whole. As much as you are longing to be held in all of your messy perfection, Life is also longing to hold you there. Life is longing to pull you back in, and to reconnect you so that you can feel secure moving into the fullest expression of your being - which is the process of breaking away from wicked agreements, and death spirals. When you stop bowing at the altar of false gods, you can start bowing to the god who only wants you, and the world, to be whole, balanced, harmonious and well. We won't see the best of it in our lifetime, but if we're not fighting for it now, no one will ever see it in any lifetime. 

 I can't figure out how to end this one, so I'll let Mary Oliver take it from here: 

 

Wherever you are, no matter how lonely
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

Claim your place. Repair the hole in the whole. It is one principle thing that will make true, long, lasting change for you as an individual and for us as a collective whole. 

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