Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Abide in Tenderness

When asked about his personal path, Sifu Adam Mizner listed several aspects, the first being “abiding.” What he meant, he explained, was a quality of empty knowing, leading to freedom, awakening, and liberation.

Abiding. What a great word. When I looked up the etymology, I found a reference to “waiting onwards.” This is not the impatient waiting while we are on hold listening to annoying music and recorded announcements about how important our call is. This is the pregnant waiting of possibility, curiosity, innocence, trust.

One of my favorite lines in the Dao De Jing counsels us to “abide in tenderness.” When we abide in tenderness, we are at peace, trusting the Universe, confident in our inner guidance. Compassion naturally wells up, bathing our spirit, spilling over to everything and everyone around us.

So what is the secret to abiding in tenderness? What books do we need to read? (I just realized how that last question dates me. I should ask what podcasts we need to listen to!) What workshops will teach us how to do this? We just want someone to tell us what to do, because who doesn’t want to abide in tenderness?

These questions are often answered with murky messages about looking within. And of course that is true. But there is one very concrete, unambiguous answer I’ve found. Adyashanti said, “The price of awakening is giving up every reason you have to stop loving.” Awakening is what opens up the spirit to abiding in tenderness.

So all I have to do is give up all the reasons I have to stop loving. No problem. Except for that one jerk that ruined my life. Or the driver who cut me off in traffic. Or the kid who was mean to me in school. Or the friend who ghosted me.

Hmm. Every reason? Really? Yes. Every reason. Really. The price of awakening sometimes seems too steep. That’s what price means, though. We have to want something more than we want to keep what we have to give up to get it. And when we do want something that much, the price is paid willingly.

Not ready to pay yet? That’s fine. Here is the back door secret to abiding in tenderness. Start with yourself. Give up every reason you have to not love yourself. Are you feeling judgmental about your unwillingness to give up resentment towards someone? That’s okay. Love yourself anyway. Love your precious, judgmental, unforgiving, human self. That is the love that will open your spirit to abiding in tenderness. For real.

Abiding in tenderness isn’t something we “do” as much as it is something we experience. It is a quality of grace, received rather than attained, received when we surrender everything that blocks its blessing. So “wait onward,” knowing that you are cherished just as you are, liberated, free, beloved.

lean in to kiss me
in all the places
where the ache
is the most special
~Sanober Khan

8 thoughts on “Abide in Tenderness”

  1. Hi Galen! Ahhhhhh….your post was like a gentle breeze blowing through the forest and across my skin. What a lovely way to think of grace and that quiet space of peace. I’ve never thought of it as abiding but thanks to you I now have a new reference. And oh yes that LOVE bit… As usual it’s easy to think we want to “abide in tenderness” but giving up our judgements and habits of thought that keep us out (all for good reasons of course!!!) continue to hold us back. Thank you for yet again another wonderful reminder of the path before me…. onward always! ~Kathy

    1. Thanks Kathy. Abiding might be my new favorite word, especially the phrase abiding in tenderness. I hope you will write another post soon about your word this year “surrender.” I’m interested to hear how you have engaged with it over the year. Thanks for commenting.

  2. As ever, your timing and words are a lifeline so critically needed today, last week, and possibly many times in the future! What a beautiful coincidence as I wake up this morning and the sun shines through the trees. Many thanks for this writing!

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