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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

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


Beware of therapy goals! (1) You’re prey.


(oft-attributed to Carl Jung:)

“The reason modern people can’t see God is that they won’t look low enough”

Beware of therapy goals, unless they are centered about inner work to know your unconscious self. Most are not. Daily reading books like “The language of letting go” seem like they are aimed at knowing yourself, but it’s superficial. These modes prey on our desires for therapy to help us feel better about ourselves. They present ideas to examine about ourselves, but they do not dwell on them because that would contradict the goal of feeling better. They tend to focus on how we have perceived things that have happened to us, and “mistakes” we may have made in our thinking or behaviors. They mix it in with some nuggets of how things *could* be—gentleness to give us hope. Many conclude with uplifting resolutions, often as prayers (which I find *potentially* abominable to my God), whether “The language of letting go” or the AA serenity prayer. Why all this cynicism from me?

First, whip open such a short reading and evaluate it from these perspectives above:
1. I’m a victim. I feel bad.
2. I’ve made mistakes. I feel bad.
3. There are alternatives. Feeling better.
4. I agree with them. I feel better.

Why so cynical? These modes — whether books or therapy sessions — keep us in a limbo of optimism mixed with consciousness of our victimization. That consciousness is only half the truth of victimization.

I am aware that some people are not ready to dive deeply into their inner selves, and that they might need some gentle affirmation, and causes for hope. So, for how long? The best of therapy guidelines advise this gentle initiation as necessary to establish rapport between the therapist and client (or author and reader). Clients can only expose themselves as far as they trust the therapist. Almost universally, clients mistake this trust as therapeutic progress. That capitalizes on this obvious reality:

You’re not in therapy if you have not suffered numerous violations of your trust.

A therapist who won’t violate your trust by being non-gentle is just what you’re looking for to feel better!

That’s therapeutic, but so is talking to your dog, or a few beers and a banana nut muffin.

How much time should we spend growing our consciousness that we are suffering victims? We all are. Every wisdom tradition in human history tells us that. When does a client know it sufficiently to take some next steps? And what are those next steps?

Here are the two solid principles in any therapy, whether it’s Dr. Phil or Jesus Christ:

1. “Own from your bones”

No therapeutic progress can occur, or stick, unless the client comes to realizations as their own ideas. Clients must “know” these things by ways of knowing that far exceed cognition and rationality in the “mind.” This form of knowledge is internal, and comes from our inner places; it does not come from platitudes or working to implement ideals, because that’s external. It is knowing with the heart, not with the mind. So, how does one come to that?

2. “Worst First”

No authentic progress in feeling better about yourself can occur, or stick, until you first feel much worse about yourself.

Optimists despise this reality, but pretend in ignorance of every wisdom tradition in history.

Beware of the false gentleness by which sources of affirmation prey on you to keep you in limbo. There is no breaking out of this superficial loop until you feel much worse about yourself.

From AA to Buddha to the Bible to Carl Jung, authentic growth demands we recognize our denial of the undeniable.

No one in history has EVER felt “prepared” to take this step into their inner darkness. It is ALWAYS forced by one or a couple life events.

No one EVER feels ready to confess their utter brokenness to themselves and face their abject failures. And THAT is why gentle therapies won’t take you there. They don’t want to lose you. And you don’t want to go there. A perfect match of procrastination! But, it’s also why so many clients relapse into depression that they haven’t made progress that stuck. Most ultimately abandon therapy before authentic growth.

Many therapy modes and affirmation material like “The language of letting go” skate on the superficial surfaces of these two principles, and trap us there by fooling us. We think that just because we recognize some wisdom, that is progress. It won’t stick. That’s external wisdom. It’s no different than memorizing multiplication tables:

You’ll never meet anyone who abandoned therapy because it made them feel too good about themselves!

Think about that truism very carefully.

At some point, every authentic therapy must take the step that results in your feeling much, much worse about yourself before anything good can stick with you for very long. And here is the important thing about that, the fuel these gentle sources feed us as their prey: Do NOT mistake your prior bad feelings as this step into your darkness. You have suffered as a victim of others. But this step involves suffering that originates when you become conscious that you yourself are a victimizer.

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To read more about stepping into your own darkness, Google this quote oft-attributed to Carl Jung:
“The reason modern people can’t see God is that they won’t look low enough”

Why do we get trapped into goal-seeking in therapy? The sequel to this article explains that we are drawn to goals in general, by our biology that’s so irresistible. What’s so easily and subtly overlooked is this: Biological evolution wired us for survival, not contentment; contentment and survival are a paradox that calls us to look for truths that transcend what we think are facts. Therapy goals trap us in envy (which, like shame, is the opposite of feeling better): “Beware of therapy goals! (2) Envy and the Pitfalls of Validation.” 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. 2020-10-15


Let your nature carry you


Let your nature carry you through this day. You do realize that it is your nature which carries you all the time, don’t you? Despite your learned resistance?

You think you manage your life well because you are strong. The consequence of that thinking is a feeling of weakness when life feels less in your control. Our egos get disturbed about weakness.

I suggest you take much less credit for feeling strong. Virtually all of your strength is not your doing at all. It is simply your nature. It is how you are wired. But our conscious ego-minds like to take credit for anything good, like strength. Um, that’s ego inflation. Conceit.

I suggest you stop concerning your conscious mind with credit. Ha! Easily said. Our culture is obsessed with credit. That’s why we compare, and judge, and reject, and complain. Um, our culture sucks. In that regard, at least (which is a pretty damn BIG “least”).

I am not suggesting that we don’t applaud virtues like hard work and defense of freedom. But I would like us to grow in our conscious awareness about why we value those ideals so highly—why we are concerned about being a land of opportunity. I do not believe it is so that others can enjoy this safe haven for the purposes of inflating their egos. I believe it is so that we have a garden where can dance the better angels of our nature.

Cultivate that garden today by letting your nature carry you. Your nature is good. I know that, because I share that nature.

Your nature is beautiful. I know that, because when I see you act according to your uniquely individual nature, it is different from mine. Our world is beautiful because it is a garden lush with variety, not monotony, not obsesssion with conformity to a narrow range of ideals.

Be the flower which that beauty needs. No one else can. Let your nature carry you naturally. I need you. We need you. We just aren’t aware enough of that. Yet.

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Neil D. 2020-10-06