In order that I may understand the path to peace:
Let me be able, upright, and authentic, impeccable with my word, gentle and caring.
Let me be content and easily satisfied, without pride.
Let me cultivate a boundless, limitless, unconditional love and compassion for all beings and all things in the world.
Let my prayer be:
“May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,
Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,
Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.
Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.”
On October 8th of 2017 I drove 1,774 miles straight into hurricane Nate to find out if my Beloved and I had a future together. It appears that answer is “no”.
She is an extraordinary woman. Extremely intelligent. Highly creative. Spiritually evolved. She has a great career and is upwardly mobile. She is vibrant and alive. Sensual and sexual. Healthy and active. Has great kids. In short, she is everything I hope to find in a partner.
Almost everything. She would tell you the same about me.
Because I love her and have a deep respect for her no matter what, and because we are making the effort to remain friends, we spoke quite a bit before making this post.
What follows applies to everyone, including myself.
The two things I address most often when talking about relationships is our ability to manifest love through faith in action and our obligation to be as prepared as we can be.
Being prepared starts by knowing yourself and your needs. No one can ever truly know you if you don’t know yourself.
It means we acknowledge and address whatever issues we have as best we can. That we understand that we are complete as we are and that we embrace our wholeness.
It means we have a pretty good idea of what we want, and do not want, in a Lover. What type of person are they? What do we expect from them and what do we offer in return? How might our lives affect each other? Are we able to commit to the effort it takes to build a relationship? Are they?
It is so much more than “I want to be loved”. That sort of open ended desire leads to suffering. How do you want to be loved? What does it look like? What actions are involved? What do you bring to the table? What expectations do you have of your partner? Have you made room for them in your life?
I will not point to any of these examples and say “this is why we are not together” because the simple truth is that neither of us was fully prepared. Not in the way we needed to be. We are both worthy and deserving and I have no doubt that we will both find ourselves in incredible loving relationships. Just not with each other.
We do not see this as a “failure” and neither of us have any regrets. Making the move to be close to her was the right thing to do, there was no way for us to learn these things from a distance, and the opportunity to find real love is always worth the risk.
Our last day together as a couple was sweet. We went for a walk. Set up her porch swing. Did a little arts and crafts shopping. We sat close and talked and laughed. We kissed.
Two days later we mutually called an end to it and offered each other metta, a spoken intention and meditation of loving kindness: “May you be loved. Be happy. Be healthy. Live with ease.”
That is what I will always want for her, and for myself, because even though the relationship has ended, the love remains. We continue to communicate regularly and do our best to carry these intentions of loving kindness into action. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it, we are worth it.
I am grateful for our time together and will continue to learn from the experience as I do from everything that happens in my life. It was good to love and be loved, even if only for a little while. Love is a gift and loving her was a privilege.
I am not sure where to go from here, I guess I’ll discover that along the way, all I know for sure is that my journey continues.
“Lord, make me an instrument of peace.”
With that single line St Francis defined a life of mindfulness and loving kindness long before those terms were first used. Long before pop culture turned them into an industry. A t-shirt slogan.
He goes on to describe how that instrument looks. It is one of understanding and giving. A life in service of love.
“Lord make me an instrument of peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
Oh divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life”
This is how I want my life to be yet I often fail in these intentions. Instead, I want to be understood. To be consoled. To wade deeply in my sorrow. To be loved despite my shortcomings.
When I find myself on the needy end of the spectrum that runs from giving to receiving I remember that I can not only offer these gifts to myself, I should.
My efforts to be an instrument of peace must begin with myself because to offer peace to others I must first have it within me. The good news is that inner peace is often gained in the offering of it to others. It is a beautiful, endless, self-sustaining circle.
This was my meditation this morning:
That I forgive myself and not beat myself up for being human.
That I keep strong the faith that brought me here.
That I keep the flame of hope ever burning within me to light both bright days and dark nights.
That I be willing to find and feed my joy, especially when it seems so far away.
That I love myself as I wish to be loved by others and that I share that love regardless of my pain.
That peace isn’t just something we feel, it’s something we practice.
I believe I need more practice.
Peace be upon you.
Life has been hard on you. It has given you challenges you never expected. Pushed you to do things you never thought you would do. It has kicked you when you were down. Stomped on you. At some point it convinced you that you are unworthy. Less than perfect.
Yet here you are, embracing those imperfections. Finding strength in courage and hope. You are authentic. Unafraid to be vulnerable. Honest with others and with yourself. Compassionate. When life knocks you down you simply get back up and proclaim, “You hit like a bitch.”
You have uncaged your wild nature and embraced the divine feminine.
You are a goddess.
You deserve the worship and love of a warrior. A god.
He will support you. Go out of his way to show his appreciation and his love in every way he can. He will dance with you while doing dishes. Kiss you long and deep without reason. Ride the stupid spirit wagon with you at your kids football game just because you are on it.
He will caringly touch and lovingly kiss all those areas, physical, mental, spiritual, that are hard for you to reach or uncomfortable for you to touch alone.
When you are down he will help you up. When you are up he will raise you higher. When life hands you shit he will make fertilizer from it, plant seeds in it, wash it from you, and put you to bed with soft words and hard passion.
He will reflect those things in you that make you a goddess without fear. You will see yourself in him and you will like what you see. You can be vulnerable around him because he will never take advantage of you. Never use your vulnerability against you. Because he is also vulnerable.
He will bring out the best in you by being his best. Only his best is good enough for you.
He will encourage and help you to grow and in doing so grow with you. Not separately. Not as competition. Together. As One.
He will do these things because he wants to. Not because he needs to. Not because he feels obligated. Because he wants to. He wants to because he loves you.
You are a goddess, you deserve to be loved like one.
Image: “The Fountain of Love” by Jean Honoré Fragonard, c. 1785
I scan the news with horror
How can we
Be anything more
Than most inferior
So long as we treat others
Our sisters and our brothers
Because of the color of their skin
Or the person they love
Or the person they are
They are Human
All of them Sacred
All of them
All of us Carry
A Spark of Divine
All of us Sacred
All of us
All of us Sacred Human
I turn it off
There is no room for hate
This is my Heart
There is no room for hate
This is my Soul
There is no room for hate
This is my Life
There is no room for hate
My Heart is a place
Of Peace and Compassion
Of Truth and Passion
Of Hope and Sensuality
Of Joy and Sexuality
There’s no place here for hate
It has no place in my Heart
This is a place of Love
A place of Love
A place of Love
A place of Unconditional Love
This is my Heart
It is large enough for Everyone
Image by J.M.Greff
As published in Elephant Journal 8/5/17
I see a young woman punished by a mind that differs from my own pushing a shopping cart through the dregs of society.
The aisles of humanity staggered randomly like blockades of sheeple that spite or ignore or pretend she does not even exist.
She winds carefully through the labyrinth. A test of the gods. A test of her worthiness that she believes she failed long ago.
I wonder: What test? What god would be so cruel to allow this woman, who carries the spark of the divine itself within her breast, to live like this? Why threaten to extinguish the gift of that spark?
I step in front of this woman, only occasionally glancing behind, and part the cascade of ignorance like Moses in a sea of flesh so she can make her way to the hovel that is her home.
I see a man on a corner with a worn sign that says “will work for food” and I know, without a doubt, that he has neither worked nor eaten in far too long. I watch the constant flow of people pass by like a river of wealth that is just beyond his reach while he slowly dies from dehydration.
I wonder: Why should he work for what the planet gives freely? Why should he be reduced to begging for that which comes naturally?
I step into the closest convenience store, a place convenient only to those with means, and spend what little is left on my debit card to ensure that he will not go another day without that which is his right, and I bring it to him with one request—that if he knows another who has not eaten, he share it. He looks at me and offers a portion, and I gently refuse because I have a job.
I see an old man struggling to carry his meager supplies to his humble home. He staggers under the weight of the few small bags that are his sole source of sustenance for the next month. His “retirement” is barely enough to pay for the two rooms in an ancient building that could, at any time, be condemned and leave him homeless.
I cross the street, add my own bags to his, and carry them all to the crumbling facade which represents the dreams of his youth. Without a word, I leave all the bags, including my own, at his door and walk away in silence as he speaks the only word we shared in those six blocks, “Why?”
I wonder: Where did he work so hard that I can see the memories of his past etched deeply into his face? Why did the system he paid into for so long leave him with not so much as cab fare to transfer a true month’s worth of food? Why would my actions, which seem so natural to me, leave him questioning my motives?
When I return home, I see myself in the mirror: this man that proclaims love, who shares it freely with the hungry, who widens the aisle with his imposing figure and intimidates the sheeple with a glance so the meek can pass, who carries the bags for those who are too weak to carry them, and leaves them with more than they started with—where would he be if not for the love and care of the one person who first offered the very same compassion that he feels for others: his Self.
I see their faces in my reflection. I feel their pain, know their suffering, and, in fact, share it.
Where would I be? Exactly where I am now—with them.
I quietly acknowledge my gratitude to a universe that gave me the gift of this vision and know that I am home.
If you want to change the world, begin with yourself, and then carry that change into the world one person at a time.
Author: J.M. Greff
Editor: Travis May
As published in Elephant Journal
I know you are hurting.
I feel it. I feel the anxiety that burns. The weight on your heart. The pain in your shoulders. In your neck. I feel it all as if it is my own.
My stress. My ache. My desire. My confusion. My depression. My heartbreak.
Because I feel it I want it to stop.
Because I love you, I want to be the one to make it stop.
What I usually feel from you is an intense, unnameable energy that is your life force. Your very soul. A spark of the divine.
It is love itself.
It is glorious.
When I close my eyes, I can still see it. Colors that have no name as brilliant as the sun. A swirl of prismatic energy that sings in unison with the universe.
You still shine brighter than any soul I’ve ever known, but all I feel now is the suffering.
It overwhelms. Consumes. Destroys.
It dims that light in you—but cannot put it out.
This is not who you are.
You are laughter and joy and adventure and peace and commitment and life. I know this because I feel these things too. Not today. Not yesterday. Not for some time now. If I try hard enough, I can still touch them, but they are buried deep.
Hard to reach. Made all the harder to reach because you know me.
Knowing me has made it worse, because you know I am an empath. You avoid me and block me and keep these things to yourself because you do not want anyone, especially me, to see that what you want to feel now is the pain.
Pain does that. It blinds us to the truth that it, like all things, has purpose. Has a season. Will pass. Is temporary.
Pain doesn’t want you to know that.
It wants you to remain in the moment, convinced that it is lasting, so you either do whatever it takes to overcome it or be seduced into remaining there forever.
Suffering is possibly the most seductive of all emotions.
Misery truly does love company, but the company it desires most is your own.
You have stopped talking with me because you know I can see within you, and it makes you uncomfortable. It makes you want to run because you honestly believe that the person you are right now is who you will always be, and you don’t want me to see that person.
I see you. I see you though you choose to remain in the shadows. You cannot hide the truth from me; you are goddess. A manifestation of the divine. A sacred human.
Because you are unable to feel these truths, to access them, to realize them, you pull further and further from me and from the rest of the world, for fear of the off-chance that you will be revealed by another empath.
There is a better way. Join me.
My ability goes far beyond sensing. To be a true empath means to literally share feelings and emotions.
This sharing does not have to be a one-way street. The relationship can be symbiotic if you allow it to be. It takes practice and patience and trust but we, as One, can overcome those feelings through the simple, difficult, and always fulfilling acts of love.
Through shared breathing and the joining of heart and soul through Tantric practices, through faith and determination and commitment, and, most of all, through the sharing of love and gratitude, we can lift those feelings out of the dark places and raise them into the light—and we can forge new emotions in their place.
You will not hurt me in doing this. I have spent my whole life absorbing what other people feel. I have a capacity for pain and suffering that goes well beyond what others have because I have spent my whole life dealing with others’ pain as well as my own.
I have learned to separate those feelings, and to transmute them. I can take your pain and infuse it with intentions of love and gratitude, and together we can turn them into something meaningful.
I have also spent a lifetime absorbing other people’s love and joy and faith and trust and all those other wonderful things that we all want in our lives, and in absorbing them and making them my own, I have extended and expanded my own capacity for them.
Let me share that with you.
This is what it means to be loved by an empath.
Let me in.
Author: J.M. Greff
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Erin Lawson