Not Giving Yourself Away – Paul Ferrini

There is a tendency when people go into relationship to “go limp,” the way an animal goes limp when caught by a predator. There is a kind of “false surrender,” a giving away of one’s power to the other person. This sets the stage for later violation.

I urge you to go slowly and consciously into relationships so that you do not give yourself away. The desire to please the other, to be liked and accepted, to be loved and adored easily and quickly crosses the line and becomes self-betrayal. You must realize that relationships can be addictive. They can offer you the opportunity to escape from self, to avoid feeling your feelings.

If you are unhappy with your life, a relationship may provide a temporary escape from your troubles, but sooner or later your problems will return. And they will be exacerbated by the demands and expectations of your partner. When your ego agendas emerge, both of you will feel disappointed, if not betrayed. The emotional high of a new relationship promises more than it can ever deliver. If you experience “falling in love,” you can be sure that you will experience “falling out of love.”

The very expression “falling in love” should tell you that this experience is about self-betrayal. In what other area of life would you allow yourself “to fall” and be whimsical about it? The whole romantic tradition suggests a socially acceptable, nearly institutionalized, form of self-betrayal.

Just as the child creates a false self to cope with the unreasonable demands and expectations placed on him early in life, so does the adult create a “false surrender” to a lover to ease the pain of personal and social isolation. The reason the surrender is false is that it does not withstand the eruption of the dark side. As soon as the unintegrated, unconscious fears arise in the relationship, the feeling of “in loveness” quickly disappears. Were this a true surrender — a sacred union of two people committed to their own and each other’s spiritual growth — the dark side would be welcomed into the light of the mutual commitment to truth, authenticity and awareness.

In true surrender, one does not choose the partner just because he or she makes one “feel good.” One chooses the partner because, in addition to feeling good together, there is a shared vision and a mutual commitment to growth. There is a context, a healing environment, in which the self is both nurtured and challenged to evolve. This is a conscious partnership. It tends to be at odds with “falling in love,” because it is not a giving away of oneself. It is rather a commitment to be present with oneself and the other person through the ups and downs of experience.

Most relationships fall apart as soon as trouble comes along. The promise “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health” is for most people an exercise in absurdity, for many people go to the altar without having taken the time to get to know each other. For this reason, formal marriage should be discouraged until couples have lived together for at least three years. During this time they can discover if they have a mutual commitment to be present for each other.

Most relationships will not survive this three year period of mutual exploration. Indeed, many relationships do not survive the “falling in love” stage. That is because, for most people, relationships are a form of addiction. They are a form of substance abuse, initiated by a mutual desire to “feel good” and avoid the pain, fragmentation and isolation of the self.

Try as they might, no couple can avoid the dark side of experience. Couplehood is never a panacea for-the wounds and traumas of the individual psyche. At best, it is an incubation chamber. At worst, it is succession of eruptions, as all our subterranean “faults” are triggered by mutual trespass and violation.

Hard as it is to believe, emotional safety is not to be found in most relationships. That is because most relationships are addictive and temporary. They end in mutual distrust and/or abandonment. Yet when we “fall in love,” we have the expectation that they are offering us not only safety, but perpetual bliss. If there ever were a set-up in life, this would have to be it! What better way to punish yourself than to enter into one destructive relationship after another?

The question, of course, is how do we avoid this scenario of “falling in love” and betraying ourselves? The answer is not to refuse to fall in love or to isolate ourselves, but to “fall in love” consciously, or to simply “be” in love.

To be in love is to be present with the other person through all of the ups and downs of experience. To notice the attraction. To notice the judgments that come up. To notice the desire to please or to be taken care of. To see when one feels accepted unconditionally and when one feels conditions have been placed on the gift of acceptance and love.

It means to go into relationship with open eyes, seeing all that unfolds. It means not seeing selectively. Not seeing just what you want to believe.

It means telling the other person the truth about what you feel from the beginning. Not just sharing the mutual admiration and approval, but the fears and the judgments too. It means not hiding the truth from each other.

If you can keep your eyes open as you explore an attraction with someone, you avoid the “false surrender” syndrome. By staying awake through the process, you can avoid the pain and disappointment of waking up a month or a year later and finding out it was just a dream.

It all comes down to one question. “How honest are you willing to be?”

Are you willing to be with your feelings and tell the truth to yourself? Are you willing to be with your feelings and tell the truth to your partner? Do you want to inhabit your life fully or do you want to give yourself away? If you answer honestly, you will know clearly where you stand in your relationships.

As long as you have something to hide, there will be deceit operating in your psyche. Whether it is the deceit of the false self or the deceit of the false surrender matters very little. There is a part of you that is missing in action. Where did it go? And who are you without it?

All masks must be peeled away if we are to stand face to face with ourselves or each other. Until then, this is just a carnival, a public dance ritual the meaning of which has been forgotten.

Remember, brother and sister. I see who you are. I see the face behind the mask. Stop hiding from me. Stop giving yourself away.

Stop chasing pleasure and avoiding pain.

Stand up inside yourself. Be visible. Be vulnerable. Tell the truth. That is what I ask.

(The Silence of the Heart, Heartway Press)

Either Unawake or Realized

What an illusion
what an illusion
only when I realized.

else I am simply the dream
experiencing what has not truly occurred
except an illusion
of which I took for real.

It looks like
yet it is not
it feels like
but it is not
whichever way I think
it is not
what it is.

I am only separated
as in dream separating from the wake
in reality that is not so
for separation
has no meaning except
a perception

have I truly left Home
except in dream
for I have never left anything
except in delusion
of unawaken
having meaning
as its beginning till its end

the only difference is
either I am unconscious
or awake
and that takes a realization.

I seek that

I seek that
I do not try to understand you
for it is impossible
I seek to understand
that I can never understand you
and that brings me to my own peace.

I seek that
I do not try to remove your loneliness
for that is impossible
I seek to recognize
why I am so afraid to know you are lonely
and that brings me to my own truth.

I seek that
I do not try to entertain your seeking for approval
for that is impossible
I seek to investigate
why I play the rescuer role to feed your addiction
and that brings me to see my own shortcomings.

I seek that
I do not try to heal your abandonment dis-ease
for that is impossible
I seek to know
why I cannot stand seeing you being abandoned
and that brings me to my own understanding.

For you are merely mirroring my reaction
and in that
I respond with
for my own sake and also for you.

By saving you I am not saving you
By not saving you I am saving you.

Pain is my Grace

If you find there are s**t coming up in you – wait a minute – stop judging or blaming those whom you wish to make a scapegoat out of, and  instead ponder for a moment that they are here to bring up what you need to heal. In silence, give them a mental hug and respect them for being here for you.

Consider wisely who will take on the role of triggering you. Only a person of insane mind will do that as he will surely be aware that he is risking having you exterminating him from the friendship you may already cherished. And yet he takes on that role out of love for you knowing consciously that he is doing it with risk; and as and when you can see the truth, his role has been well executed.

Similarly if someone was to blame you for making them miserable, thank them anyway for bringing up your pain as without them those stuffs will still lay constipated in your mind. Imagine how horrible it can be for those stuff latent toxic in you.

Thus whether it is betrayal, jealousy, hatred, aversion, unsatisfaction or whatever retinue of negativity there are, please do quickly remember to pull the brakes of inciting further hatred. It is time to look at them as your own mirror as they are merely mirroring you of what is already within that needs to be understood, realized and released. We are all the same, lost in wilderness of who we are not. We linger aimlessly in the forbidden forest, pricked by the thorns of discomfort and pain.

If only you can see that within those thorns are roses that make your journey easy in the midst of pain. Surely there is a way out. So instead of the impossible complaint of imagining the roses without the thorns, why not accept the thorns lovingly together with the roses as it is part of the whole journey of completeness. And to move gently with presence and awareness is a gift you can offer yourself. It is a refuge of love, of non-separation, of grace.

Look not far to heal your hurt as it has never been until you misunderstood yourself. Look deeply and you will find the antidote for that pain. It has never left you and will never be as within the hurt itself is the remedy. Do come as close as you could without hurting yourself further. Only in that space do you give yourself the grace in accepting that pain. Look at the pain and not the meaning of it. Face it as if you are facing the mirror – for you will find your truth there. Until you are able to do that you have to content with whatever courage you have in your space. Little by little you will find the loving part of you ready to embrace each difficulty as it arises in life. Only then do you see the world differently with deep compassion and peace. For freedom is all you have.

What Words can do to Me, and Others

what I give to the world
I give either with ignorance or wisdom
am I aware?

with ignorance the world is led astray
if it is wisdom
it can only be a symbol of symbol
twice removed from reality
… so where is there truth except meanings?

as much as I would like
to accurately convey my understanding
words will always inadequately
portray my wishes

no matter how best I try
words will remain as words
and yet behind those words
are essence of what I intend

thus read between the lines
and reflect deeply what has been conveyed
but then again
do you have a choice
or can that be ever possible?

considering that you can only know
what you know
and do not know
what you do not know

as words enter your sight
your ideas
will read according to what it perceives
how then could it be possible
that you are able
to understand fully what I am trying to say?

it is a mission impossible
to point to Truth
as Truth is not to be spoken
but only to be realized
but yet, but yet
if Truth is not conveyed
how then could one realize there is such journey?

and here I am back to ground zero
asking myself
to speak or not to speak
as either is a dilemma

can I take charge of what is out there
except what is in here?
Or that what is out there
is merely a reflection of what is in here?

that nothing needs to be done or look forward for
except reminding myself over again that
in accepting, surrendering and trusting
that what is entitled
will come in due time without
“I” getting in the way.

How Real can NOW be?

How real can now be, except as an experience? If past and future is just a figment of an imagination of the mind, isn’t the now too another illusion? Consider that if a past memory is brought to my attention and because it is occurring in the now, it then becomes my reality; as an experience. My reality is defined by what I am experiencing now. If I am experiencing anguish from that memory, obviously this feeling that is so real and tangible now defines that what was in the past was and is still real. Similarly if I am experiencing euphoria from a past thought, this experience that I am savoring now becomes my reality and hence the mind concludes that what was in the past was and is still real too. What would it be like if a past event was met with a neutral feeling, say, as in remembering a walk by the street? It is still an experience to me as in now, though the feeling may not be relatively as intense as those from the earlier examples – as such it is still real, for me.

My “real” is defined by what I am experiencing now. Whether it is something that has passed or yet to arrive, so long as I am experiencing it, that experience is defining “my reality” – as in I, me or I am. The power lies not in the now, past or future but in experiencing itself.

If I am experiencing loneliness now, the feeling of it is my reality, along with all its thoughts; inseparable. The past doesn’t haunt us, but rather we haunt the past, or make the past real, by the meaning we give to our present experience. Experience defines me. Experience defines now. Experience defines reality. In truth, to say that the power is not in the now but in the experience is not entirely true too. To be able to recognize and realize that an experience is merely an experience and it does not have any bearing on the witness except as a passing moment and soon too, or rather as immediate as it arises, shall pass – is power itself.

Power as to mean influence. It is either the experience which influences me or I am not influenced by the experience. The former has attachment to it and the latter, detachment. When I am attached to the experience, I become a victim to it, hence the feeling of powerlessness. It does not matter whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or even neutral. Either one leads me to desire, to adverse or to seek further. It is a similar game I play over and over again, as if there is something better coming up next. And yet it is a passing-by experience that I am savoring as I can only experience it when it has arisen, not while it is arising, though in my space I seem to have the perception that it is constantly here. Merely, an illusion.

Power lies in the ability to be awake, to observe and to realize that experiences are merely a phenomenon, arising and passing away as quickly as a bubble, as meaningless as dust, each moment independent of itself, with a period upon it. Unless and until we see them as unreal, each experience becomes dependent on the past and future and thus grips us, as another story, another drama, another continuation of suffering, having happiness or sadness, with all their relatives in it.

Power is not found in the Now but in Wisdom itself – seeing the world, merely an illusion.

Just as a bubble may be seen,
just as a faint mirage,
so should the world be viewed
that the Death-king sees one not.

–          Dhammapada 170

(Look at a bubble. How impermanent it is? Look at a mirage. What an illusion! If you look at the world in this way, even the king of death will not see you.)

The Passing of the Dream


To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one in favor of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defense the ego has for separation.

The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.

The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love’s replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and a fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each seems to requires a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behavior, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behavior stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasized, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison for either acceptance or rejection of suitability for acting out a special form of fear.

You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms because it was the substitution of illusion for truth, of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship which you have ever made is part of it.

You have expressed surprise at hearing how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to further substitutions.

That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside-down arose from this? [It was inevitable]. For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was, and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it. When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rise to frighten you, say only, “God is not fear, but love,” and it will disappear.

The truth will save you. It has not left you to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity, insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside and error and guilt within. Your little senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate in shifting and totally meaningless patterns which need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?

Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and your wild substitutions which you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.

- A Course in Miracles (Chapter 18, I. The Substitute Reality)