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‘I wrote this a few years ago:
Spiritual teachers, philosophers and some psychotherapists tell us that it is beneficial to live in the present moment, that ultimately only the present moment exists. However in practice it is difficult for many of us to feel fully alive in the present moment.
Many of us ignore the present moment and or try to seek out fulfillment through following an ideology or belief systems or through striving or struggling towards some future goal.
For thousands of years, mystics, prophets and anyone who has momentarily stumbled outside the mainstream culture of coercion and control have told us that love is the substance of our bodies and the ground of all being.
And yet most of us find it difficult to see that we are the love that we are seeking for. We often get caught up in hatred and tacitly accept a culture of violence. Why is it so seemingly so difficult for us to be in contact with the love that is the ground and the root of our deepest being?
Perhaps the reason is that in order to really embody love and to really feel present to life we need to descend into our body, attend to our vulnerability and feel all our feelings, including difficult feelings such as grief.
Martin Prechtel tells us that grief is praise and love for those things which we have lost. Praise and love is grief for those things that remain in our lives. When we are grieving for those things which are present, this is praise. When we are praising those things which have past this is grief. Love and grief are ultimately the same thing; they are two sides of the same coin
Grief does not necessarily involve loss; we can feel feel grief and praise for those people and things which are still present in our life. Then our love for them will become an uproarious shout of joy, an outrageous and joyous celebration of the life of the people we love and of all life.
Instead of only grieving for a person after they die, perhaps we can also grieve for them before they die, so that our grief becomes a fierce love for that person and a fierce love for all life .
It is only possible to feel love for something or someone that is impermanent and imperfect. Love for something or someone that we imagine to be perfect is not love.
We can only truly love when our hearts have been broken open. We can’t fully love a person if we think or imagine they will be there forever, or if we try to hold onto them forever. It is only when we realize that they won’t be there forever that love is possible.
Because of death, because of impermanence, there is love.
Grief, vulnerability, imperfection and the body are the gateways to being fully alive in the present moment and to our wild selves; they are the gateway that we must move through if we want to fully enter life.’
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling in Exeter since 1994