What keeps us from falling into Grace? What is the block?
I would say one of the biggest blocks, if not the biggest, is our contemporary search for perfection. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that life is supposed to get better and better, and humanity can somehow overcome being human.
Look at what your expectations are, and culturally accumulated understanding of what you’re supposed to want—a lot of it is focused on what we’re supposed to want—and begin to sense into what your heart truly wants. The human heart wants more than anything else to return home. We just keep trying to find home where it’s not.
I work from an understanding that human beings are triune beings—we have three parts. We have our bodies, which is clear. We have our stories—that’s anything that makes up the story of our life. Both of those two things change. Then there is the part of us that doesn’t change. It is a still place inside, where the human is joined with the Divine. And the two can’t be separated. It has no qualities. Qualities arise from it, but it’s just a very still place. And it’s always there.
So, to rephrase the original question—why do we resist the stillness? Why is it so hard to begin to know that that’s what lasts? To a great extent, I think it’s culturally ingrained. There are cultures who understand more deeply that their lives are finite; that self-improvement is not the goal of being here. In our culture it’s very hard to understand. But, if you begin to ponder that, what is the goal of being here? Is it to have a really good human life? Is it relationship-based? You want to get married and have kids? —whatever it is that on the human level appeals to you. There’s nothing wrong with it, in general. But it will change. It’s never going to satisfy you all the time.
It’s very, very hard to let go of what we’ve been told all our lives—that our lives should be about improving ourselves. It should be about less pain. It should be about more comfortable surroundings. Whatever it is, it’s very hard to let that go, and to begin to find your anchor and your center, your happiness, in the stillness. People come to me and we talk about this, and we sit together. We sit in the stillness. And for many of them, it might be the first time. But it’s there.
Then, most people walk away. Because stillness is so still, it’s hard for it to seem like it’s enough. It’s like, “I’ve got to keep searching. Life is so painful. I have to find a way out of the pain.” We begin to continue to look for situationally based things that can help. And we have so many of them. There are so many distractions. You can go to all kinds of modalities and classes.
Or, you can begin to sit in the midst of a body that might be hurting, and a story that’s really painful, and let yourself know that the stillness is already there, and there is nothing you can do to increase it or decrease it. It’s already there. If the stillness can maintain its place; if it can be just as it is, always, then the truth of it is that, even as you go about your human life, experiencing the ups and downs as humans do, your deepest Self not only can be, but already, is, rooted in the stillness. You can allow yourself to know it. You can allow your story to be informed with it, and your body.
This is what we call peace that passes understanding. It’s the birthright of every human being. We just tend not to know it. And so when you find yourself searching after something that is not that still place—which you can’t search after anyway, because it’s already there—you can use that as a cue, a reminder. “Oh, I am just overwhelmed with this emotion. There is nowhere I can turn. It’s eating me up from the inside. I feel like I’m dying. I feel like I can’t breathe. These are all human emotions. Or, “My body is in such great pain right now.” It’s a human feeling. Yet, in the middle of that—dramatic, big things but also little, tiny things: “I get up in the morning and I can’t find my socks.”
Allow yourself in that very moment to stop, just even for a millisecond, and ask yourself, “Is the stillness still here?” At first, you’ve been culturally trained to say, “No, it’s not.” But if the model is right, if there are three parts to the human being, then if the stillness wasn’t there you would not be living and breathing. So if it’s there by definition, begin to put your attention to that.
In a way, this begins to retrain your whole system. You begin to find that things like love, peace, joy, hope, comfort, the sense of being held—all those are yours to experience, along with many other qualities. They arise from the stillness. But they are not the stillness. It’s a different way of being in the body, and being in the story.
And, it takes everything—and nothing—to be there.