Jeff Foster on ‘dirty love’ and the place of rawness in lives that we package as ‘spiritual’ – a word that sometimes goes with a certain kind of polish.
“Love is … a living, breathing, real-time reality. The poets and sages were right. …This love, this deep and ever present silence that you are, is so vast it swallows everything. It pays no heed to images of how it should be. It does not try to impress, it is not looking for rewards, acceptance or validation. It is not pretending to be transcendent, or fearless, or beyond pain, it has no use for the word ‘spiritual’ or ‘enlightened’, it does not act as if it’s above everything. It knows no bypassing, no clever tricks, no way to numb itself to itself. It gets its hands dirty.
“Yes, this is a dirty love. The unloved and unwanted and unmet get stuck under its fingernails. It wants all of its children, not just the pretty ones. It is the mother, the father, the lover, the guru we have always longed for. It loves because that’s all it knows. It would work its knuckles to the bones just to be here.
“We pretend to be fearless and beyond human concerns only because we are afraid. We act at being peaceful and undisturbed only because there is a storm inside. We strain to show others how far beyond anger we have gone, only because anger still rages within us, longing to be met. We show off our perfect spiritual know-ledge in public to mask our perfect private doubt. It’s a perfect balance.
“Who will stop pretending? Who will meet the ‘shadow’, the misunderstood ‘dark side’ of life, those waves of ourselves that are not inherently negative or sinful or dark, just neglected and abandoned and longing for home? Who will meet life’s orphaned children? Who will sacrifice the image for the delight of not knowing?
“Even the unwanted are wanted here in the vastness that we are. There is plenty of space. Beyond awakening, there is this grace, this inexplicable and heart-breaking timeless welcoming of everything as it arises. By dirtying itself until it cannot dirty itself any more, love purifies itself.”
Jeff Foster Falling in love with where you are: a year of prose and poetry on radically opening up to the pain and joy of life Salisbury: Non-Duality Press, 2013