I travel a lot, and I meet the most well-intentioned, beautiful beings who are fighting against the injustices of the world. They stand for ending sexual violence against women, the destruction of Gaia, climate change, social inequality, and any number of other very good causes. I appreciate that these people are DOING something to heal the world. Their passion seems admirable and their commitment and self-sacrifice command respect.
Yet, I find something about the energy of some forms of activism weighing heavy on my heart.
We’ve all met the angry feminists that lash out at men, the rainforest activists who judge those who drill in the Amazon, and the Occupy activists who hate the 1%. But how can we possibly co-create a more beautiful world if we’re coming from the energy of judgment and hate? As one of my spiritual teachers said, (forgive her language), "Fighting for peace is like f*cking for virginity."
When I was in Australia speaking at the Uplift Festival in December, 70 spiritual self-help leaders, elders from the indigenous tribes of five different nations, and change-the-world activists spent a week before the festival participating in an ongoing conversation about the intersection of spirituality and activism. How do we marry the principles of "Being" that we learn through our spiritual practices with the practices of "Doing" embodied by many activists on the front lines of global change? Are we better off sitting on our meditation pillows, raising the vibration of the planet and emitting frequencies of love into the world? Or do we need to get off our pillows and go DO something? Is there a way to be even more effective by merging the two?
He broke your heart, violated your trust, betrayed your confidence, ignored your needs, and disrespected you. When you tell your friends, they shake their heads, clucking, shaming. You’re better off without him. He doesn’t deserve you. You can do better than him. You make up a story, one that casts him as the villain and you as the victim of his dastardly deeds. It’s a good story, the kind they make movies about. You feel righteous when you kick him to the curb. You did the right thing, they all say. There’s lots more fish in the sea.
But deep down, there’s hurt underneath the anger. And beneath the hurt lies Something Larger, something that understands why he did it, something you’d have to reckon with if you acknowledged it, something that disrupts your story. So you stick to your story, ignoring what lies beyond it. It’s easier that way. You have to protect yourself, after all.
But I ask you this. What would Love do?
I haven’t written much about it publicly because it’s been so intense and confusing and extraordinary, but for almost a year, I have been involved in what others describe to me as a “twin flame” or “soul twin” relationship. Dennis and I are not a “couple” in any traditional sense of the word. He’s a gay man. I’m a straight woman. Both of us have recently experienced divorces from our partners, so we are technically “single,” but a number of factors keep us from getting involved in a typical romantic relationship.
And yet, we are both learning more about love than either of us ever had in our other conventional relationships. Before last January, I had never heard of a “twin flame” or a “soul twin.” Of course, the term “soulmate” gets bantered about, but I’m told this is not the same thing. A soulmate may be someone with whom you’ve had a deep soul connection and perhaps been involved with in past lives. Such a relationship may have a lot of karma attached to it, so such relationships can be quite intense and deeply loving.
But apparently (I say apparently because my ego mind still argues about whether such a relationship is really “real”), twin flames are different and much more rare. I can’t quite grok people’s explanations of what a twin flame is. Some say you’re one soul split and incarnated into two bodies. Others say you’ve just had many many past lives together so the link between you is like high speed internet through a direct cable. Some say you’re from the same soul family in the spirit realm, but you rarely incarnate together, that one partner of such a relationship usually stays in the spirit realm to act as a guide for the other, and if both parts of the pair incarnate together, it’s because they’ve been called into spiritual service in an extraordinary way. None of these explanations make sense to my rational doctor’s mind. And yet, something feels true about this with Dennis and I. The link between us feels like more than an emotional bond or an energetic cord. It feels skeletal.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting on gratitude and our relationship to it. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It feels like the only big holiday that doesn’t buy into the commercialism of our materialistic Western culture. It’s not about candy or presents or more, more, MORE. It’s about giving thanks, being with those we love, coming into the heart, and remembering to be grateful for the abundance of blessings in our lives.
The typical Thanksgiving gratitudes are easy. I’m grateful for family—both the family I was born into and the one I’ve chosen. I count my blessings every day for the opportunity to be the mother of my little girl Siena, who is the most extraordinary child, and I would say that even if I weren’t her mother. I’m grateful for the beautiful home where I live, where the redwoods meet the mountains and the ocean and the bounty of nature surrounds me. I’m grateful for the mountain of delicious food I will be offering my loved ones today. I’m grateful for meaningful work, excellent health, and my Tempurpedic mattress, which I rest upon as I write this (yes, it’s one of my deepest gratitudes and no, they’re not paying me to say this!) I’m grateful for my deepening relationship with the Divine and all the fulfillment and meaning that accompanies my spiritual development.
Every relationship in my life lately has been an experiment of the idea of unconditional love and freedom. Byron Katie says egos can't love; they always want something. Whereas the soul can love unconditionally and expect nothing in return. Wide open heart. Zero conditions.
But this week, I finally really got a critical piece of this puzzle. Here's my epiphany. It's totally possible to offer unconditional love plus absolute freedom with no conditions. But ACCESS is completely conditional. (LIGHTBULB!)
Brene Brown says the most compassionate people on the planet are the ones with the highest boundaries. Now I get it! For so long, I made the mistake of thinking that unconditional love and freedom meant forgiving people over and over again when they hurt you or betray you. Giving people permission to break your heart. And that’s part of it. You can’t walk around guarding your heart all the time. When the gates of your heart are closed, you may be less likely to get hurt. But you’ll also be incapable of giving and receiving love.
I’ve spent years learning how to love without conditions. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But perhaps, even harder, is loving unconditionally while setting appropriate boundaries.