Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.” ― Paulo Coelho, Brida


Like most people, I grew up believing that trust means trust in a person or a system. There’s a foundation for this. As children, we expect our parents to feed us, for example. If they do so consistently, we trust them. If they don’t, our natural impulse to trust is fractured.

In this example, food could be love, praise, discipline, anything a child requires consistently. Parents could be any significant person in our life. But our natural, infantile impulse is to trust life, to trust a benevolent universe. As the famous mystic Julian of Norwich put it, we trust that all will be well. Read more

Lessons in Surrender

A sojourn in the Indian sub-continent has been one of my most abiding childhood fantasies.  By definition, a fantasy is a day dream, a personal home movie in which our imagination has complete directorial control.  India, in contrast, is a decidedly real and chaotic assault on all our Western senses, an assault so beyond our control we have no choice but to surrender to the onslaught.  My first lesson in surrender came as soon as I stepped outside Indira Ghandi airport into the sultry, 2 am Delhi night.

A friend from Ireland had booked a hotel room for us in Delhi.  I had the address.  All I needed was a way of getting there.  Outside the airport, I squeezed myself into the back of one of the tiniest taxis I’ve ever seen, bumped and dented and a complete stranger to a car wash.  On the rare occasions when I take a taxi, I make sure I know where I’m going.  Knowing the route gives me a sense of control, a little insurance policy against exploitation by the driver.  As we pulled out into the night in this city of around 17 million people, I realized with a touch of panic, that I had absolutely no idea where we were going.  And even if I did know where the hotel was located, I couldn’t identify street names or road signs.  I was completely at the mercy of the taxi driver. Read more

The Spiritual Mind

The spiritual, or in the Christian tradition, the contemplative mind is a way of seeing and processing life.  Mind, in this context, is far greater than the cognitive function of thinking and problem solving.  It’s more like the Hermetic principle that “The All is Mind”.  The contemplative mind is an element of the universal .  So what are the elements of the contemplative mind? 

For me there are five:

  • Awareness
  • Living in the Moment
  • Trust and Openness
  • Embracing everything without judgment, including what is painful
  • Non-Dualism

These elements all work together.  Sometimes we’re more in one than the other – we can be aware, for example, but not trust so easily.  That’s ok because in the spirit of non-dualism, that doesn’t matter.  What is, is.  I’ll be dipping into all of them over the next few months, but although they work together, the fundamental skill is Awareness.

Awareness is spiritual literacy and my favorite proponent of awareness is Anthony de Mello.  De Mello’s book is not for the faint-hearted.  His take on awareness is uncompromising.  It demands a level of honesty that cuts through our most cherished values and beliefs and leaves us standing spiritually naked before ourselves.

Too much to jump into all at once?  Maybe we could start dabbling a little for starters.   

Any thought on awareness, what it means, how it works in your life?