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“How do you feel?” “I don’t know…”


“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know…”

I don’t think it’s unusual not know what we’re feeling. Nor even to be unable to feel.
What are you feeling now?
Are you feeling a mixture of feelings?
Are you feeling one shallowly?
Are you feeling one deeply?

If you aren’t sure, there are some almost universal triggers to make or help you feel.

I’m not at all a fan of the musical genres jazz, classical, or country. I can enjoy occasional hits from each, but rarely more than one or two at a time. Upon hearing of my disdain for classical, my sister challenged me.

I believe this 3.5 minute piece is one of the almost universal triggers that cannot be heard without a maelstrom of accompanying feelings (listen with space to move your arms through their full ranges, and fasten your headphones or earbuds securely, for your head will dance upon your neck, and, almost certainly, you’ll need to stand, and quite possibly dance):

If you are a classical music aficionado, don’t try to convert me, but please do share with me pieces like this one, which do not require an appreciation for the art form, and do not for the uninterested include wasteful bridges, interludes, and introductions. I wish to hear more brief pieces like this, in which every note has intrinsic value, even to the infidel.

Neil D. 2020-07-19


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My love letter to me


My love letter to me
…from my mom,
…from my soul,
…from me.

[6 minute read]

My rational mind loves theology, and I can wrap many of my beliefs into tidy packages to delight my reason. But that’s horribly dangerous, just like this theology: “The wages of sin is death, and you need a savior.”

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? Despite the crown of thorns, humiliation, false charges, excruciating death, do I threaten my wrath? ‘Forgive them, Abba…’ He was not begging on your behalf because you are unworthy of Our love. He was vocalizing what flows inseparably FROM Our love. Our sadness that you ‘know not what you do…’ To your Selves.

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? When I, your passionate and personal God, say that I love you unconditionally, that means no necessity of forgiveness. Our acts of love are not to show you how sinful you are. They are deeds to show you the purity of Our love for you. There’s no need at all for forgiveness when all is love….

“Love does not originate FROM or BY forgiveness. Love is no hostage, contingent on redemption by contrition and absolution. There is NO requirement that forgiveness PRECEDE My love. Neither offense nor guilt affect pure love. Nothing binds love. Forgiveness is a coincidence of true love, NOT a prelude…

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid. Look at my Son’s crucified, bloody face. Does He look angry?

“The sadness on his face is for you. His face is My face. I am not angry and demanding justice because you have hurt Me. I am the Lord your God, Who fears nothing. I do not fear being hurt. But I can and do feel hurt. I can and do feel sadness. They are part of love, and I AM love. So I am also Hurt. I am also Sadness. But hurt and sadness out of love, not out of fear. Fear is not part of love. Do not fear that you have hurt me, and need my forgiveness. For I love you already. Fearlessly, and fiercely.

“You only fear Me because you cannot feel and trust the fullness of pure love — yet. My Son’s passion is a show of love’s purity, not a message that you need to fear Us, nor that you needed His sacrifice…

“My Son’s passion is Our love story for you, Neil. Don’t corrupt it into a tragedy about sin and penalty and any sense of justice and consequences and conditions and laws and rules…

“His love is pure. My love is pure. Conditions and rules for gaining it are impurities.

“I am sad, because you hurt your self, child. I, the Lord Almighty, BEG and PLEAD with you, Neil… I do not COMMAND you by any other power or authority except love… Fearsomeness is false power, and I am not false. Love holds no space for fear. And I am love…

“Your very Creator is begging and pleading for you to feel Our love in the story of my Son’s life. We do not wish for you to see some sacrifice to atone for your shame and restore your worthiness. Our love is NOT affected by your sin. It doesn’t stop just because you sin. Don’t be so conceited to think you can diminish Our love! Let this love story fly past your ego and annihilate barriers of shame, to touch your tender soul, sweet boy…

“The story of Yeshua is about Our goodness and YOUR goodness… Our and your OUTRAGEOUS capacity for love. Be outraged about that! Stop – STOP – making it about your badness and failure to love. You are hurting and saddening Us and your eternal Self by your ego-centeredness. Center the story on your WHOLE Self, as I made you. Be Self-centered about THAT story.

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid.

“Let this story through your ego-self to your soul-Self. Begging… Pleading… In love… THAT is who We are.

“Know your shame, son. We do. Let it waft into your ego’s consciousness, and your whole Self can be compassionate with it, as We are. Your repression is keeping Our love from your soul. Even your ego, Neil, can love Us, and can love all of you, if your soul can embrace your whole Self tenderly, as We created it to do. You are made to love. Your soul can do its work, son.

“Imagine my Son’s face at the wedding in Cana, with a joyous smile crinkling his eyes. Imagine the fiery warmth of those eyes locked on the eyes of the woman to be stoned, ‘Nor do I condemn you…’ That is not a warmth that flows FROM forgiving; it is the fire of passionate love, from which forgiveness – like all things truly and purely good – cannot be separated.

“We hurt when those whom We love feel hurt. Just as you do. ‘I have become one of you.’ I have joined humanity because humanity is worthy. You are worthy of Our unconditional love because that love is Ours to give, NOT yours to earn. NO conditions. I am all-powerful. And I am in you. Our power is not rooted in meting out justice. Do not be afraid. Our power is love. I dwell in you: YOUR power is love.

“The moment I and your mother brought you to life, she held you in her arms, and adored you with unconditional love. You had done nothing to earn or deserve it. It was hers to give, not yours to earn. Your soul is no different from your mother’s. Your soul is no different from Me.

“You too have unbounded power to give love without conditions. Please, Neil, pour it out, unshackled by shame, with NO conditions. And, please, begin with pouring it onto my own infinitely lovable son, whom your mother named Neil…

Neil D. 2020-03-06

Related: My love letter to you, My love letter to you PS

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Advent Prequel to Footprints


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened…” (Mt 11:28)


Adeste fideles. (Come, faithful).


Advent Prequel To Footprints

(Neil Durso)

Energy, misbalanced.
Self-centered lifetime.
Other-centered lifetime.
Tiresome battles lost.

Shameful failure.
Wasted toils?
No. Delivery to the now.

A curled, sobbing heap,
Writhing on sands of self-desertion.
A finger trembling, raised to an eye…
Tap its pool of tears, running them thin,
Glimpse through the blur:

A shadow over tears on dead sand
Shades the relentless brightness of scorching shame,
Revealing a garment’s hem resting on sandaled toes.

Stretch out of despair a hand.
Touch a finger to the coarse fabric.

From that cloak, a hand extends,
Re-flavoring tears that flow still.
From a spring deep within, never fully felt.
Feel it now. Don’t wrestle floodgates inside.

Epic struggle.
Ordained end.
Rivulets of tears baptize anew.
Every ounce of unrequited effort poured out has prepared the way

Enormous fruitlessness was the way.
En route to the quenching fruit of energy exhausted.

The garment takes you up, in its arms
So gentle, their power feels misplaced.
You tremble at tenderness so unfamiliar.

From this bottom, from this birthplace,
In His wake are one set of footprints.

At cool evening’s arrival,
You’re lowered lovingly
To your own feet.
Refreshed.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
Then,
The silence drips into distant song
On fleeting breezes.

Whispering beneath the rising chorus,
“Whither, Yeshua?”
“The City of David.”

A bright star draws your gaze.
And He is gone.

Shepherds appear.
On pilgrimage.
To Light.

Above the sonorous din of lambs’ bleating,
Lyrics grow clearer…

Carried by the parade, your heart then
Your tongue join the hosts’ song.
Reborn of unshackled brokenness,
The beckoned joins the calling:

“O… O… come, all ye faithful…”
(song)


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


-Neil D. 2019-12-16
(revised from 2018-12-24)

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Green Shirt

The gently soft-spoken 20-something didn’t seem to ever stop talking except when he asked of me simple questions and waited for replies with earnestness that made me feel like my answer would be divine and resonate with profoundly undeniable truth and universal wisdom. He sat on a park bench with his beautiful, unthreatening, expectant, wide eyes open naturally enough to look up at me as I stood beside the bench on which he sat lower. His eyes weren’t bloodshot or distant, squinted or spookily wide. His pupils locked on my gaze, without blinking, without discomfort or shame. Without abiding by any conventions of time or rhythm familiar. Just natural, as anyone’s might be awaiting an answer, unconsciously exhaling the puff of smoke from a satisfying drag off the cigarette he just bummed off me…

He did that several times, awaiting several answers to several questions. Of me. Me. Me? Me!

Not hard answers to give. But not easy questions to ask. So, wait–maybe hard questions to answer, but not hard words to summon in answer: “Yeah.” “That’s true.” I know.” “I feel you.” “Right.” “Damn.” “I know.”

Know? Do I really *know* anything?

Now I know I do.

Green Shirt talked and asked about his joy and loss of waking next to her, whose name he didn’t remember. Of being anxious about how he would get eggs and bacon like yesterday. Would the nurses let him have the medicine he needed again?

He’s glad it’s warm today.

Hopes it will be tonight, wherever he winds up.

Wants to work on my car. She knows how to service bearings. He knows he has to clean up dog poop in the park before her company lets him collect cans. She’s not afraid to work hard. Why do they think their reality’s rules make more sense?

Yeah, I suppose Yeshua from Nazareth wore some shade of white fabric in the middle eastern form of that time. But I think, yesterday morning, He wore a green t-shirt.

If you see Green Shirt today, tell her I miss him. Tell him I said hello. Tell her I remember him. Say Hello to her for me. Thank him for talking to me about her own world. Tell her I love hymn… because he trusted me just to affirm her truth. And … loved ME too.

Neil D. 2019-07-25

I am being loved (3) – Moments


My gait halts. Breathing slows, deepens. From my breast swells a transparent cloud, invisible but real and virtually touchable. Mist. It envelops me but is weightless. In fact, buoyant. My ears can hear, my eyes can see, my heart can feel…

I am being loved.

That moment originates within. The divine within. It seems to be the Spirit. Its origin, my soul.

When you lock eyes with mine for a moment, in pure loving compassion and a fleeting completeness of knowing, such moments have no words. It is the fullness of words.

A momentary connection, soul to soul. Being loved by the other. It originates from you. YOU are divine. God loving me. You loving me. The distinction melts to meaninglessness. Mystics call it non-duality.

From within me. From outside of me, from within you, to me…???
See?
No words.

No words, but stark, stark, soul-moving reality.
A fullness of knowledge.
Sacred.

Spookily intimate.
Spooky, but not fearsome. There is no fear in that moment.

Why do we call it a moment? As if it passes? It was the present. Why does the present become the past? Was the moment lost? To the past?

How/why do we conceive a past or future? Only the present exists. Does the past not exist? Does the future not exist? Just because we can conceive them, does conception mean existence? Are they real, or are they artificial conceptions?

Why do we let those sacred moments dissolve?
Or do we not *let* them?
We instead *make* them pass?

Perhaps, more simply, those moments are not up to us?
They are not moments we control?
They are moments given to us.
By what? Your divinity? My divinity?

Do we “snap out of” those moments because they are too much for us? I believe so. Why else does something that seems so fearlessly perfect for a moment not seem fearlessly perfect for an eternal string of moments? Why is it fleeting? What flees? Seems like it can’t be the divinity within us which flees from the divinity of another. But perhaps it is.

Perhaps divinity is always in some kind of motion. Perhaps the Spirit is ever-moving, alive and never still? Then why do contemplative mystics cherish stillness achieved? Is it because, when their whole human persona is still, it is then that they can perceive the perpetual movement of divinity?

[More love letters]

Neil D. 2020-11-28


Shitty blame boardgame

Here’s the game. We each sit on a different side of the gameboard. We all start with an equally-sized pile of blame in front of us. Each time we win a move, we get to move a piece of our pile and “place blame” in front of another player. The winner is the one who places all of their blame pile onto others first.

Piles of blame are piles of shit. At the end, the one who moved the most shit has the shittiest hands. Anybody want to play?

Cold starts in nature’s cathedral. Cheryl


This morning I rose with the sun at dawn. An angel stoked my heart with tenderness, and the sun set afire a red-leafed tree outside the window where she poured me coffee. The angel talked about classrooms of little angels. And those moments in the middle of the day’s dawn moved us both in our midlives, removed from childhood angelicity, but in the dawn of later life’s glories.

I had to ride Cheryl home. Cold, she stalled when I didn’t let her warm up enough. Then we rolled, and it was bone-chilling cold, my visor fogged. This was the first 1m13s of the music piece here:

Then, I turned out of the neighborhood onto the main thoroghfare where the day’s Sun was spreading its wildfire among the leaves that hung on into early November. And the movement that starts at 1m14s into that piece welled up from inside. It’s a glorious, glorious day, and a gift of extraordinary weather lies ahead. Have you gone outside yet, to feel the flaming tongues of Nature’s cathedral licking at your heart yet? Go now…

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(More on that same musical piece)

(More on Cheryl)

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Neil D. 2020-11-07


Beware of therapy goals! (2) Envy and the Pitfalls of Validation


This article by another author presents envy as a sort of mirror of shame— a gap between what we have and what we want.

I think this is the grave peril of self-help as well as therapy to “work on things,” instead of doing inner work. Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, etc. are part of our biological hardwiring. This makes us goal-driven creatures. And evolution has programmed us with negative emotions when we fail to achieve goals.

What the author presents as “expectations” is what I often have written about as ideals or idealizations. If your self-help materials or therapies have you “work on something,” beware. High expectations can lead to more pain than good. Some schools of therapy urge you to take little steps, so you can keep feeding your addictive hardwiring with incremental achievements. I think that has its place as the “gentleness” I mentioned in my prequel; but it can make us prey to therapy. What you should be working on is understanding your inner self (see my prequel Beware of therapy goals! (1) You’re prey.)

Knowing your fuller self enables you to recognize more realistic boundaries around your expectations.

Knowing your fuller self also more realistically tempers our desires to achieve ideals.

We are programmed to unconsciously and reflexively identify desirable ideals. We say we want to be “more like her,” or we want to be more of “this,” or less of “that.” Knowing your self reveals how much of “this” you are, and how much of “that” you don’t need, and that you are not “her.” That can yield what that author presents as humility. And that puts a foot on the ship of contentment, and a little less suffering.

Wish to be more You, and as you discover that you already are You, disappointment with unachieved goals lightens.

To know how good You already are demands that you study who you are, and that doesn’t mean affirming your good of which you’re already conscious; instead, plumb the depths of your dark Shadow, because it’s the You of which you’re unconscious.

Your Shadow is the perfect “textbook” custom-tailored to You as the subject! Over and over throughout the history of the best human thoughts recorded in writing, we are repeatedly urged to know our own evil and potential for evil in order to be more good—AND content.

That author presents this as “Expectation vs Reality”

“Betrayal — the worst of all pains — comes when that expectation is broken. The pain and sadness you feel is your body telling you ‘HEY, that false reality you’ve been living in, yeah not the best idea to keep living like that,’ and adjusts your view of the world to fit whatever data point you’ve just learnt.”

“Validation is like truth without facts. You feel like your belief is right because other people say so, but that doesn’t hold up to reality.”

“The reason why validation is so dangerous is that it actually puts you in the same spot as the liar. You’ve created a false reality around yourself that’s fundamentally rooted in experience, not fact.
So again, we become prone to betrayal and suffering.”

[Regarding why you should plumb the depths of your Shadow:] ”
Humility — low expectation.
Entitlement — high expectation.
Entitlement is really just the expression of expectation. Humility on the other hand is trying to minimize that expectation, and feeling satisfied with where you are.
Since we’re so goal oriented, it’s hard to feel super humble all the time, because it implies a satisfaction with your current state… Our biology doesn’t like that. We’re wired to self improve… Buddha believed our pain is caused by our goal-oriented nature, and constant striving to fulfill our desires.”

“…the expected outcome… When we don’t achieve it, we become sad — a sign that we aren’t well conditioned to the reality of the universe, and that our expectations based off previous experiences were actually wrong.”

The unfortunate hard truth is that you may be the only one to blame, explained by the same author here.

Each one of us constructs a perspective on reality according to our experiences. Two people can look at the same thing very differently—AND both be very “right.” Envy is a powerful emotional signal not so much that you are wrong, but that reality has alternative perceptions and you’re preferring a change in your perspective.

FeelWithNeil wishes for you to see the alternatives because many may be “true,” not just yours, and not just yours at a given moment. There’s an infinite space for you to grow into.

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More to come in this series on therapy goal pitfalls. To be alerted when published, at the bottom of this page under Leave A Reply, enter your email (remains private), and checkmark “Notify me of new posts via email.”

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Neil D. 2020-11-03


Compassionate Reactions


When you see someone suffering, are you moved with sadness to compassion? Don’t you long to show them the love and kindness that every human being deserves? Even when the victim is a mean or miserable bastard, some of our heartstrings get plucked:
Someone didn't love you enough when you were little, did they?

Seeing blameless victims moves us deeply. Most of us are also moved deeply when we see people suffering senselessly by their own hand. The better angels of our nature tell us that those who hurt themselves or others have some suffering in their own pasts.

So, how about you? For various reasons, we get conditioned into thinking that weakness is bad, so we don’t like to see ourselves as weak victims of suffering at the hands of another. What we like far less is any recognition that we have suffered at our OWN hands.

None of us can fully resist the power of shame. Aimed at it are all of our powerful psychological defenses and the insidious blame game. And that is why…

our own suffering fails to move us to the same depth of compassion for our own selves.

Yet, that is how God looks upon us. THIS is the “mind of Jesus.”

Most of us have some subconscious level of skepticism when we look at acts of altruism, but not when we look upon suffering. When most of us think of the story of Christ, we see the suffering of the crucifixion. It was a large act. We also bring to mind the many acts of compassion Jesus showed others, but we tend to do that collectively, as if it has to approach the size and scale of the crucifixion.

This sort of collectivization is a form of idealization. But it betrays the example of Jesus. We have ascribed too much grandiosity to the story of Jesus, so we lose sight of the person-to-person compassion he exemplified.

In our subconscious are some grand ideals that we subconsciously know are impossible to achieve as an individual. That distracts us from the tiny moment-to-moment opportunities we have to pour out love from inside of us.

We get consumed with thinking about the ultimate salvation of our soul and the perfection of our humanity, and we lose sight of how grandiose each small act of our loving truly is.

Large scale suffering easily elicits compassion. So, think of yourself as suffering on a large scale. For you, as an individual person, are as precious to God as the whole world is.

Let God save the world. Let God love the whole world. Let yourself love you and each face you touch moment by moment. Selflessness does not mean no self consideration. Touch your own self with the limitless compassion and love you think you aim only at others and the whole world:

God loves us not collectively, but each tender and suffering soul at a time. That’s what the Christ shows us.

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Neil D. 2020-10-23


We need YOUR loving


Does someone need your loving today?

EVERYONE you encounter today needs your loving.

Your brand of loving, from deep inside of your humble heart, is a unique stitch in the fabric of creation. Pour it out from inside you, without fanfare, when no one is looking.

We need you.

Our world is less, without your loving.

“EVERYONE you encounter today needs your loving.” Even if YOU are the only one you encounter.

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Neil D. 2020-10-22