“Love begins on the other side of despair.” ~ Jean Paul Sartre
~ Question: There seems to be so much truth in the above quote. Why does this seem to be the case so often? Why can’t love begin on the other side of mild dissatisfaction? It feels like to me that Love seems to want everything and nothing from one at the same time?
Susanne Marie: Despair is a doorway to love. But we have to be willing to walk through it. Mild dissatisfaction does not necessarily give one the drive to seek out something different. Haven’t you noticed how mild dissatisfaction can become a habit, a state of comfort in a strange way? Sometimes we don’t even know that we are cozy with being dissatisfied. It is the internal condition of many. But despair is not a state that we can hang out with for a long time without wanting a way out. Whether through drugs, death, or seeking relief in more healthy ways. Despair can be that which finally stops you from seeking. That is when love appears. It has always been there, but mild dissatisfaction covers it over, as does most other things. Surrender opens that door, revealing that which has been underlying all experience. That is what love is in truth, and you have tasted truth many times. The flavor of it changes, because we are in bodies, and we feel and experience truth through different avenues. The love feeling comes through the heart area, and it fills the body and mind up with its expression and flavor of truth. The mind’s expression of truth is the experience of vast spaciousness and presence, and the gut/stomach’s expression of truth is feeling the ‘I am’ in a settled, complete way occupying the body without existential angst running the show. It is comfortable with being here as an expression of the totality, located in time and space.
If you do not have despair, and wish to step through the doorway of dissatisfaction, I would ask myself: what is it that I am avoiding? What is it that I am not totally telling myself about what is true? Apathy and dissatisfaction are closely linked. And apathy comes from not fully occupying ourselves. This is why despair is closer to truth. With despair we are occupying a feeling to its end. Apathy or mild dissatisfaction, as you put it, is hovering in a middle state somewhere. This is why I present you with some questions in regards to it. What you not fully feeling into? What are you not feeling to its core?
It is true that on the other side of anything felt to it’s end (such as in Sartre’s quote above), there is love. The feeling is covering over something essential. And the feeling is essential as well. Are you allowing what is essential to reveal itself and teach you what it has to say? There is information there. Your being in an in-between place has had its run. It is worn out and tired and ready for a shift. I can tell. As Adya once told me: You have to stop running from yourself. Finally and completely stop, turn around and face what is creating this gap between what you know to be true and your living it. Your living it looks like what you are experiencing/feeling right now. This last part is touching on your question above about love wanting nothing and everything at the same time. It wants all of you to face yourself. And what you are is in essence empty.
~ Question: I am presently looking at this path as the lost path. In order to proceed, it seems things have to drop off or get lost, that the desire is to lose oneself or at least a self I think I am. So even this is a bit conceptual but would you care to comment?
Susanne Marie: I will answer this as best I understand it. There comes a time when we have to walk off the trail of our own knowing into a pathless path. This stepping off the trail has the sense of being willing to get lost, being willing to not know the landscape, the rivers edge, and feel the utter lack of ‘I don’t know anything’, which is what is really the truth of things. The willingness to not have landmarks, including teachers to refer to and so on. Perhaps you are feeling yourself entering this domain. Certainly you have had many teachers/teachings over the years. These teachings have penetrated deep in your heart and being. Still, teachings seem to be useful. This is not a forced thing, or one where you now lodge these words in your brain and say to yourself: this is how it should look, that I don’t refer to anyone or anything anymore. It is the intelligence of life which leads the way. Basically it is a choice-less thing. And this feeling comes to visit from time to time, entering and leaving when needed. Dipping in and out of feeling lost and then re-orienting, and then dipping into feeling lost.
When the feeling of being lost is welcomed, because you have no more need to orient yourself in your life, no more need to find yourself, then that desire to lose yourself has been served. That is what this is in the end, the knowing that having a center is just that, it isn’t what orients you anymore. You are not locatable. It is extremely freeing to surrender to not having to be locatable. Then we discover the truth of things, that we are the whole. So, this feeling that you have is a healthy one, IMO. We lose ourselves in order to truly find ourselves. Similar to the Sartre quote. On the other side of truly letting go, on the other side of being utterly lost, on the other side of not knowing, of despair, and so on. There lies the truth. I have seen you go there. You know it. It is desiring to trust it and surrender to it in all areas of your life. Your question often seems to be ‘how’, and ‘will my life still function?’. This is control holding you back. That is the true relinquishing. Going off the path and losing yourself in the unknown of how anything works or happens. Trust is the key.
~ Question: I don’t really know what love is. I just know the feeling of it and the perceived lack of it. What is love? How does love relate to what we have been talking about?
Susanne Marie: What is love you ask? What you gave in response is a doorway into your own personal discovery of it. The more that you open up to the whole of your Self, the more that you will know what love is. Love contains and is the entire created space of existence. It is also pure potentiality. It is so endlessly vast that if you knew what it was in its entirety, right now, it would blow you to smithereens! Grace is the gradual opening up, like a flower, to the truth that we are all of existence. Every single being manifested is on a journey of opening to this truth. Existence is eternally creating itself, then it learns about itself through its creation. ‘What am I?’, ‘what is this love?’, all these questions are expanding understanding. Love is truth reflecting upon itself and growing as a result. Love is an expression of creation, and it is an evolving experience, not an end in itself.
~ Question: You said:
“… This verbing yourself into existence is exhausting to the system. Becoming aware of this habit of mind which is felt physically as a wanting, as a drive, is the first step. It may be extremely uncomfortable at first as the habit of leaving ourselves is so strong. Repressed denied material may come up to be met, and felt, as we have been running away from feeling most of our lives. By denying what is arising now, we are in imagination. This is what suffering is. Peace is here now with all that is presenting itself, including not feeling peaceful. When you stop running, when habit of mind is laid to rest, then the inherent peace that you have always been reveals itself in the midst of everything.”
I agree that I am verbing myself into existence (a lot of the time) and I just love what you say here but If I hit my thumb with a hammer, there is pain. So how does being with this pain lesson suffering? I know that you have said that the resistance prolongs pain but…
Susanne Marie: Pain is pain. Where is the suffering? Suffering is a thought that is produced when we believe that it should not be there, when we desire for things to be different than what they are. This is also a natural thing, isn’t it? It isn’t that it is unnatural, or that we should get rid of feelings that arise out of pain or out of the desire to move away from pain. This also goes for emotional pain. Telling ourselves the truth begins right where we are. We are right in the midst of having an experience. Can you settle in and allow it to be as it is? How strong is the habit to move away from pain in yourself? Paying attention to habit is the first step. Stopping and resting right where you are with attention. Feel into the pull of habit to want to take you away from this current experience. Is it going into fantasy, into wanting to move on, into another experience? This is ok as well. The important thing is not to make anything wrong. But if there is a pain, a suffering that is deep, it will bring you back to itself until it is fully met. When your finger throbs from pain, it will bring you back to that feeling, won’t it? It is just the way it works. Much of this is how you are using the word suffering. If you are linking it up to pure pain, then yes, suffering arises due to physical pain. If you are referring to it as I do in the above quote, that suffering comes out of denial, then suffering is what follows pain, and is not a result of pain in itself.
~ Question: You have talked about trusting the source (maybe not quite how you phrased it). Other teachers say that it is a benevolent universe but of course we know that bad stuff happens. How can both these things exist? Is it because of the bad stuff is there for Karmic reasons? Of course people have free will and a lot of bad stuff is because of people. Please speak to this.
Susanne Marie: All is arising and falling within source. When I use the word trust, this is not something that we ‘do’, but rather that by knowing this for oneself through and through, that we are the background that all is arising within, then trust arises on its own accord. Trust is what we are in essence. The source is creative manifestation in motion. Out of source we arise, hardships arise, benevolence arises. Good and bad, all the polarities that we are experiencing here while in these bodies, on this planet arises. Mother Earth has her own set of laws that we are abiding by. Impermanence being her greatest law. Inherent in that is the concept of time. What I am saying is that trust is not something to be manufactured in oder to feel better about being here. There is nothing that you can ‘do’ to feel better in the end about being here. In the end we all end up in despair. If you do not end up there, you aren’t telling yourself the truth of things. The Buddha said that life is suffering. Only by realizing the truth of things are things set right. And not in the way of anything being fixed. There is no way out of this world other than by taking your last breath. So, surrender to it all as it is, is the only way to have any peace around the way things are. Even Neem Karoli Baba, one of my favorite Teachers of love, said when he was dying: ‘It is time to leave central jail’. Imagine that! A beautiful realized being saying such a thing. Hearing this makes me relax inside knowing that hardships just are, things are challenging here, it is maja, meaning that karma and her laws are in full operation here. But, the backdrop of what we are is, as you already know for yourself, the container of all that arises. Place your trust in this.
~ Question: Although I have asked about this once, I am interested enough to ask again so here goes: One of your writings, instead of saying Life itself you say: “Life herself.” Another teacher, said: “If we are lucky, we get disillusioned so badly that Life tends to help us to be emptied of that is not real, so She can take full seat in this wonderful body as Herself.” Yet another woman teacher speaking in Portland once, said: “this is the feminine path”.
Is it because you are women, that your perception of “this” is of a feminine quality or is there something more here? Is it the idea of a Divine Mother that gives birth to all that is what you are referring to? Or is it the act of taking in rather than projecting out (masculine quality and a society that reinforces that) and that the taking in is one with what is? You told me that you were for balance but one thought that surfaced is that it may be easier to surrender if this presence has a gender rather than just an it. To my surprise in a Kundalini yoga class I attended last week, we had a time of Shivasina and the instructor said something like: “Now just let yourself be held by Divine Mother into infinity” It felt very soothing.
Susanne Marie: There cannot be a belief attached to the above statements. This goes for my own as well as for the others. We are operating within duality, using language which emerged out of people believing in duality. English is a language formed out of the need for commerce. So, given these perimeters, and given the fact that we are doing our best expressing truth by using language and concepts, depicting the Earth as a Mother, who gives birth as it does, seems to be useful. Why not? Woman bodies, and all female bodies on the planet are the ones which give birth. It has been used for as long as people have thought in a self-referential manner. Spirituality has evolved as well using the Shiva/Shakti principles. It is a useful way to depict the universe, its creation, it’s manifestation, and its dissolution. We are learning about ourselves through the medium of contrast. Go with what feels true to you, if feeling that this Mother Earth is a live Being with her own set of laws is useful, then I say go with it. In the end, knowing ourselves as the whole goes beyond dualities. But once known, why not re-enter and dive into ourselves and get to know ourselves in all its nuance?