Questions & Response

“Love begins on the other side of despair.” ~ Jean Paul Sartre

Rising and Falling with Susanne Marie~ 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?


Susanne Marie-Root-of-LongingWhat is longing? What do we ultimately, most intimately long for? In most everyone’s heart there is a yearning for something. It is intimate, poignant, and probably the most real thing we know about ourselves. That and the absence of ourselves, is what we know. The absence reveals itself as that which has always been there and the same since you can remember. What has always been here, and not changed, no matter what age you are. This absence is so intimately close to ourselves, that it can be easily overlooked. What we long for, is for this knowing, to become consciously known. For the one that is always the same to reveal itself, consciously be known and then felt into.

Because we are sentient beings, we can feel into the truth of our being. The one that is always the same can be felt into. Even though it is empty of content, not located in time (timeless), and is absent of any personal sense of self (the me that is a layer overlying this one that is always the same), when felt into through the body, it has a felt sense. The sense of You. The You feeling, the feeling that has always been there, and is right here, right now, looking out of your eyes. It walks around with you, sleeps with you, eats with you, cries with you, plays with you, and dies with you. It is that which always has been, and is. And even the death part is not so clear. We just don’t know. This is a science experiment, not a spiritual belief to swallow. Who you are, has always been here, isn’t it true? Can you remember when you weren’t here?

What has always been here, as far as you know, is like a clear, empty screen, on which everything occurs. Like a movie screen, for instance. Our moods, experiences, our thoughts, even the sense of me is superimposed upon this felt sense of being. These layers can and do take on so much meaning and felt sense of reality, that we forget that underlying it all is this empty, always, isnees. We are the characters on the stage, playing our roles so well, that we get lost in these roles. Spending ones life in a role, now that sounds like fun, doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t and it isn’t. As children, we played roles, and why did it feel so good? Because once we were done, we let them fade back into where they came from, imagination. We were not afraid to take something on and fully believe in it, and then also to let it go, like wisps of smoke. Putting the cloak on, and taking it off, on and off, over and over again. Until, one day, we don’t take it off. That is what all the other adults are doing, right? Believing in the roles they are playing. This hypnosis is passed on from generation to generation. Many of us feel the pain of it, as childhood begins to fade away. What was once believed to be make-believe, persona, becomes, oh to real, the character of ‘me’, solidifying more and more, over time, the fluidity for playfulness and joy to live there, any

Children do not have a need to maintain a sense of self, a center, the way that adults do. This need crystalizes over time, becoming more and more solidified. This is the ‘me’ center. The sense of self. When asked where are you? Where do we point? We orient and locate ourselves around this center (here I am), creating along the way, a central character, more and more complex, around a simple feeling, a sense of self. Something to believe in, and to orient oneself around, like a planet with its gravitational pull, pulling in debris and all sorts of things into its orbit.

The self becomes individuated as we grow up. Layer upon layer of experience and thoughts, crystallizing that felt sense of me. That just seems to be the way it is. Once it occurs, once the doorway closes, and there is that moment, perhaps not remembered, or many moments, when there is no more going back to that ability of letting go of the need to have to locate oneself, of knowing that you are playing a part, the part of good girl, or unhappy person, until play sweeps you back into not needing to be anything, again. Once the center is solidified, and the ego (the belief that you exist independent of the whole), is solid, the longing for what was lost begins. What age does this occur? For me, it was around the age of 9, but I felt into it, starting at the age of 6-7. I was very aware of what I called my childhood coming to an end, something I deeply mourned. I even expressed it to my Mother, who did not quite understand it. How could she? That was part of the problem, I felt alone in the losing of what felt like wholeness, exchanged for a divided world, a world divided into parts, but one which everyone else seemed to believe in. I longed for authenticity from the adults around me, looking for moments when the veil of persona would drop from their eyes, and be here, present, nakedly meeting me. It was food to me, those moments with others. I experienced this as a very painful, and difficult time of my life, which went on for many years. Silently suffering from what I saw the adults around me being drawn into, into which I felt that I had no control. The gravitational pull of mass unconsciousness being to thick for me to push away, forever. I likened it to a cloak descending over me. An apt description, the wool being pulled over my eyes.

What do you remember from your childhood? Do you remember having moments of being aware that something was changing for you, that the adults around you were inauthentic at times? For many, it can be earlier, it just depends on how early conditioning takes hold. The lost age of innocence, it can be called. The innocence, being, when we lived without the need to assert our sense of self into our environment. Unconsciously proclaiming: Here I am, with every turn, with every thought, with every moment. And even that is seen as play with children, something fun to explore: ‘here I am!’, ‘look at me!’. Delighting in the expression of me. It feels good, at least initially, when not forever believed in. Children flow from moment to moment, until they don’t, anymore. We were children, once. We flowed from moment to moment, not needing to impose ourselves upon it, the fluidity of the moment taking us with it. What changes this? Wanting things to be different than what they are, is the first step in the loss of innocence. And even this is an innocent thing. This is truly the disease of humanity.

The generational conditioned thought, passed on in mass. The desire for wanting things to be different than what they are, while asserting the sense of ‘I’ into the picture, creates a feeling of being separate from the moment, and as a result from the whole. Consequently, the moment no longer feels complete, because what ‘I’ am is a fabrication of imagination, it can’t be felt complete, when something is being superimposed on it. It is complete nonetheless, nothing can change nothingness, but this isn’t yet consciously known (also known as realization, a word we made up for remembering that we are the whole, and not lost as a ‘me’, a part). We place this character, that was meant to be playing a role on a stage, as we did as children, and was meant to come back down when needed, as the central character in every moment. We place ourselves, created in time, a creation of imagination, as something real, overlaying what is in fact, timeless, boundary free, fluid, known as this moment. No wonder it does not feel real, or good, or enough.

No wonder we are searching for something lost. This searching of course, takes the shape of anything. It is whatever you are doing in order to make yourself feel better about being here. Spiritual searching is the same as wanting another car, or wife, or ice cream cone, if it is filling up a hole inside. Those things in themselves, are not the problem. They are made out of the same emptiness that you are. They have no center of their own, either. We give life meaning. We make meaning, like conjurers at a magic show. Voila! This is what is going to make me happy, fill in the hole, give me a moments peace in this endless search for meaning. But, we are the ones who give life meaning. On it’s own, it just is. Just as we are. On our own, we just are. Everything is superimposed. The one who always was, the one that is in the background, silent, aware, and is the point of awareness out of which all creativity emerges, is empty of content. It just is. Turn your attention there. Return to being a child without the need for a center. Location is created by consciousness in many of its manifestations, in order for the body to survive. It is an important detail for the food to go in the right mouth, and so on. This is the simple felt sense of you. On its own, it is innocent and not a problem. It becomes one when believed to be all that you are.

But in truth, you are the whole. Location, the feeling of having a center is a survival instinct. The mind, with its brilliance, creates the sense of being a continuous I, and bingo, with this idea, comes all the pain and suffering that ensues. But, it is made up. You are made up. Feel it melting away, allowing the costumes to be put back in the closet, come down off the stage, leave the theater, altogether. The theater doesn’t exist anymore for you. You are so free, that you have no more need for a center. Then this that always was there,
silently in the background, is now in the foreground, the ground of being, taking up residence, once again. It has always been there, but have you noticed?

So, what operates when there is no felt sense of a center? If it isn’t ‘me’, then what is it? Was that a problem when you were young, a child playing imaginary games? Who was lost in the playing? There was something that was always the same throughout, and that was there, when you were lost playing a game, and that was there, when you moved onto another moment. Fluidly shifting to the next then. That is what happens, when the center is seen through. When it is seen that the center was a fabricated thing, and not real. Imagine a donut with a hole in the center. The hole in this case, is filled with cream, your sense of self.

When this sense of self which became ever more cream filled, as time went on, layer upon layer of belief, and conditioned response, gets seen through, a glimpse perhaps, of the fact that really this sense of ‘me’ is imagined, then the center of the donut becomes more and more translucent, opaque, in fact empty of true substance. Waking up out of the dream of a fabricated self, can be a sudden thing, or something that gradually falls away. There are so many different ways that this can happen. It is a deconstruction project, and at times, a demolishing project. You can participate with it, as it, or it comes as a grace, something unasked or seemingly longed for.

In my case, I consciously wanted to demolish everything that stood in the way of my feeling authentically ‘me’. I remembered the feeling as a child, when I felt connected to the whole, not divided into parts. You and me, this and that, were navigated, without the feeling of having a divided world come as a result. When did the division set it? I believe that it set in the day that this center came to be more solidly felt. Perhaps before there was still a permeable wall that could be entered into and exited, so that it was not held onto as solid, and believed in. Believing in it took time, and validation that this is how things were, from the adults around us. This is how we do things.. Yes, and this is how we undo things. And we can, it does unravel, as we are still that free being, underneath the experience and imagination of ‘me’. It never went anywhere. That is what awakening is, or realization, remembering, whatever you want to call it, these are just words pointing to something that is wordless, and is always here, in the background, not needing to be anything, coming back into the foreground, as it was before identity solidly set in. Even the desire for freedom which comes in the form of longing, comes from what we are in truth. Where else would it come from? It doesn’t insist.

All insisting comes from believing in your being a separate somebody. It is empty of content, all stories, all me-ness, leaving only a trace of a sense of me, an I am-ness, the gateway between nothingness, and you-ness, a trace, a scent, enough so that you can individuate yourself, and play pretend, without getting lost in the content of its own imagination. Do you remember that from when you were young? Again, how you could play pretend, and then go to dinner, reconstituting yourself when necessary? Just enough, until, it became habit. We can and do operate from non-locality all the time. This is because feeling like there is a separate you is just an experience, a virtual reality being superimposed onto life, and is not necessarily, true. Everything you do is not even done by a ‘you’. It is life itself, doing. Imagine that.

Everything born, returns back to source. Birth takes place within time. It is part of what I call Mother’s laws. Earth Mother’s laws of impermanence, and the laws governing all creation, all things created. All things born, in time, return back, recycle back to whence it came from, the timeless. Have you noticed? The same goes for the experience of being a me. Longing for what was lost, the innocence of non-being, of not being anything in particular, of being able to usefully navigate personas, is born immediately upon its absence. It longs for itself, as soon as one’s sense of self becomes solidified enough to have the donut hole (one’s sense of having a
center), for instance, be more cream filled, than empty. Longing is a song consciousness sings to itself, in order to help it remember its way home. Trace the longing back to its source. It is a thin thread of truth extending its arm out to itself. Follow this thin thread backwards, retracing its journey from the known, back to the unknown, where it was birthed, where all things are birthed. This longing permeates our lives, morphing into so many different forms, so that it is hardly distinguishable. Who knew where the root of wanting to be someone in the world, to make something of oneself, to feel validated originally came from? Who knew that greed, the act of fulfilling ones needs above and beyond what we really need for basic nourishment, would come from this loss of innocence? Who knew that this gaping hole that never gets
filled up inside, the insecurity, the feelings of unworthiness, would all stem from this donut hole being filled up with something fabricated, something made up?

Of course you feel fake, a fraud, insecure, unworthy of love, longing for something, that you don’t even quite know what it is. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of us. We feel like there is, needing validation from others, from life, from our work. All to no avail, as sooner or later, everything, absolutely everything
believed in that would bring fulfillment, will fail. This is because something created, something made out of imagination, cannot be made whole. It is made out of falseness, a dream, a fabricated self. All self is empty, essentially, of content, and content is a plaything, something to move in and out of, not something to take as real, day in day out. Supporting and the propping up of falsehood, is exhausting to the system. No wonder we feel stressed, depressed, ill, and depleted most of the time. Being inauthentic takes energy, fuel, and over time, this fuel burns up our vital energy. Most of us cover up deep grief at this loss of innocence. Grief creates apathy, and stagnant energy. Dense stuff. What if we allowed our inherent nature, the center-less truth of our Being, navigate, create and move freely, spontaneously, unencumbered by belief, like children? What would your life look like? You can’t imagine? And perhaps you do imagine, and it looks scary,
like someone who would not be able to hold down a job, have a family, and be responsible?

What if all that is, is more imaginative thinking, coming out of fear of letting go? We are afraid to let go. And we are afraid, because by now, it is what is known, the unknown pushed to some distant far off corner, in another galaxy, altogether. Did you know that you are made up of empty space? That your body and everything around you is composed of empty space? That that distant galaxy, and the space in-between you and it, is actually made of the same stuff as you are? This is scientific fact. Galaxies are being born, the earth is rotating around its axes, birds are flying, the wind blows, you swallow, without any need for a center, for a ‘me’. It is just happening.

Now, why wouldn’t life move smoothly without the sense of ‘you’? Well, it already does, in fact, only you don’t know that yet, or maybe you are getting a sense of it, and this sense is deepening, ever more fully, into a known thing. Life already is moving and making things happen without ‘you’. And without minds assertion of ‘you’, you would know that, or that would know that. Semantics. Language was created out of separation, and therefore, only reflects that bias. Because, you are that knowing, that doing, that allowing. The rest is imagination. When the mind, as consciousness, wakes up to itself, to the fact that it is the whole, that this sense of ‘I’, is just that, a sense of being a center within wholeness, then it knows itself consciously as a part within wholeness.

We are parts, a you and a me, a bird and a tree, within the totality of life. Wholeness with the conscious understanding of also being a part , an ‘I’, or the experience of an ‘I’. Life is in the details, lost apparently at times in the details (the sense of I), and it is the remembering that it is not lost, that it is everything in creation. This is the paradox that is realized. That we are the whole, as well as the parts. Would this have been known, had we not gone on this journey? Would consciousness know this for itself, without a sense of ‘we’? This has been a very long play, one that as a child, began at some point, and one, which, you never stopped playing. It is really old, this game. And the fun left long, long, ago. Don’t you agree? That is sometimes what it takes to start questioning things, when the fun has been eked out of life to the point where self-reflection about what is really true emerges.

The awakening comes directly from source, to nudge its asleep part, known as you, awake. What is really true, why am I here, Why does life feel so empty of meaning? These very important questions are the beginning, the start, and the motivation, for waking up out of the hypnosis, of the dreaming ‘me’, state. Believing in being a separate somebody, hurts. Sometimes a game has to really suck, for you to want to end it.