“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (RSV)
I’ve just watched the final of what we in the UK call “Bake Off” or “GBBO” . And I only cried a bit. Not based on who won. But based on the crazy brilliance of a team of 100, who spent the summer in a bubble at an English country house hotel. Cleaners, camera crew, hotel staff, presenters, everyone. To make a baking competition, in a big tent with no air conditioning, in temperatures of 35 degrees centigrade. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much. But, it was a huge creative step into the unknown.
The day before I watched a Christmas movie. A made for TV one. I love a cheap Christmas film when I am slowing down. And, I thought I knew them all: the heiress ones; the place swap ones; the last minute rescue ones; the learning the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas ones; the last wish ones; the reconciliation ones; the falling in love with the boss ones; the drunken shenanigan ones. This one, “A New York Christmas Wedding” didn’t look like it would break the mould. But I cried, a bit more. Not to spoil the story, here’s one line: “Love deeply, trust your heart, and be brave.” Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But it’s the guidance for choosing between alternate realities. Another step into the unknown.
There’s an exercise I’m involved in right now, where each participant brings to mind people who have had an impact at some point in their lives, positive and negative. And then considers if they feel unconditional love. This isn’t about love FOR the person, that would be conditional. It’s not about forgiving or forgetting. It’s not about making peace or righting wrongs. Simply, can they feel unconditional love while thinking about that person. I found something really surprising. There are a few people who’ve royally thrown me under the bus at various times in my life. Yet reflecting on them didn’t shake that felt sense of love. Even in the midst of tears. Yet a couple of the “easy” cases threw me right off balance. Conditioning is sneaky like that.
Remember, on the whole, the nondual teaching points to the knowing of Awareness as unconditional love, to the nature of Awareness as knowing its own Self, and to the essence of our being as Awareness. In other words, if we know unconditional love, we know Awareness, we know our Self. If we don’t know unconditional love, some learnt trauma has been triggered, and we’re temporarily out of alignment with our own Self. If we’re being triggered in multiple arenas, we’re living that way. If we’re out of alignment, we’re compromising.
What do a popular wedding verse, a baking show, the story of a Christmas movie, an exercise in unconditional love, and a reminder of the nature of Awareness have in common?
Love without compromise.
If we put being right and making a point above love, we’re compromising.
If we’re fighting, or running away, we’re compromising.
If we can’t think about a person and feel unconditional love, we’re compromising.
If we’re whingeing about other people, but expecting compassion for ourselves, we’re compromising.
If it looks like we need to make the world behave a certain way for us to feel the love, we’re compromising.
When we are compromising, we are less effective in the world, not more. And, if you’re not sure why, please ask.
If we recognise that we are compromising, that’s a call to healing. And healing takes more forms than the made-for-tv Christmas movie: a meditation on the nature of Awareness; any one of those questions of the “who are you?” variety, that may bring you straight home to yourself, or may add fuel to the fire; a chat with a friend; a letter of apology or forgiveness (even if it’s never sent); moving your body; learning something new; exploring the conditioning (unless you are addicted to therapy, then don’t); watching a Christmas movie; ice cream; journaling; gratitude exercises; drinking fresh water; having a nap; doing something you love; asking for help. Whatever the form, healing is what dissolves the conditioning that makes us compromise.
There is a deep, radical joy in the decision to make a televised baking competition in the middle of ever-changing social distancing rules. Those who took part chose their reality, just as much as the movie character chose theirs.
And we’re called now to choose our own reality. To step back into the shadows, or to step more fully into our true nature. To reject, or to embrace our own radical joy.
To love without compromise. It’s a step into the unknown. Are you ready?
quintessence: the poetry of true nature
Published in 2019 by River Grove Books, quintessence is a poetic exploration. It offers space for you to find your own voice.
The Little Book of Lochend Reflections
This miniature photo book showcases a selection of Instagram posts. Lochend is the location for our annual retreat, and one of my favourite places.
The Wisdom of Clouds
This miniature photo book comes in two sections. The first is a set of 12 steps towards a non-dual understanding. The second is a series of poems, alongside the photo that was taken as it was written.