Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Awakening Through Book Titles

In a recent discussion with a friend about books we found insightful, I mentioned three by Adyashanti  – Falling into Grace, The End of Your World, and Emptiness Dancing. Then I realized that these three book titles are a perfect description of awakening.

Falling into Grace

When I was growing up, we used to go to a recreational area on the Tennessee River called Pickwick. There was a cove with a waterfall accessible only by boat. From the boat you could swim over to the base of the cliff to the side of the waterfall, where there was a knotted rope you could use to climb up to the top. It was not an easy climb over slippery rocks and mossy footholds.

Once at the top, you could look out over the boats floating below. From this ledge, the cliff seemed much taller than it did from water level. This was the “oh s- – t” moment when you would realize what you had done. There was only one way down and that was not climbing back down the way you had come up. The only way down was to jump.

So you stood at the top of the cliff wondering why you had wanted to do this in the first place. What looked so enticing from below now was terrifying. You worked so hard to get to this point and now all you had to do to get where you wanted was to step off solid ground. Gravity would do the rest.

This is where we sometimes find ourselves when all our practice and effort gets us to the point when there is nothing left to do except let go. And that becomes the hardest thing of all. We read books, meditate for hours, go to workshops, chant and beat drums. We call ourselves seekers and embrace the journey. But when life says, “You are here! You have arrived. Seek no more. Just let go,” we balk.

Because on some level, you know that if you just let go and fall into grace, it will be …

The End of Your World

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly.

We are so afraid that if we let go, our world will not be the same, we will not be the same. We will not be in control. We will be in free fall. And that is the key word – free. Here is the secret: you were never in control. Once you step off the cliff in surrender, the fear is immediately gone and you know that everything is all right, no matter what. You realize that you haven’t lost anything but delusion and the fear that goes with it. And that changes everything.

Nothing is the same. You are not the same. It is extraordinary. And immensely ordinary. It is everything. And nothing. You feel exhilarated, and relieved. It is liberating, and you are …

Emptiness Dancing

You plunge into the water and come up laughing and sputtering. You look around at the boats and the waterfall and the people. Can they tell that everything has changed, that you have changed? No one seems to notice that everything seems fresher, the colors brighter, the water cooler. You have released everything that you held onto, emptied yourself of all your fears and stories and limitations. Life is exquisite. Every moment is a gift, an invitation to dance the divine dance.

You climb back onto the boat. Your mother wraps you in a towel and slathers sun screen on your face over your protests. Dad opens the cooler and everyone reaches for sodas and fried chicken.

It is all so deliciously normal, in a way you have never noticed before.

Nearby there is a splash. A face pops up out of the water. Eyes full of wonder search until they meet yours. You smile.

20 thoughts on “Awakening Through Book Titles”

  1. Wow, you do have a way with word and I loved your flow of thoughts and outcomes. I do believe that life is be filled with joy. There are some deeply exquisite moments. The minutes of our life are a gift. I liked the thought; "dance the divine dance". In my life I feel I do have a great deal of joy and that I dance the divine dance in between the struggles that come and go,. What brings me joy is love, family, faith, service and knowing who I really am and where I came from and where I am going.
    Have a lovely weekend. Sending loving thoughts and hugs your way!

  2. "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly."
    Falling into grace . . . It's there for the taking, yet we turn away more often than not. God is there in both the realizable and the indefinable. Coming up for air, spluttering, I will search and long for Him. Let us fall . . .
    Blessings, Galen!

  3. Oh Galen, my eyes are filled with happy tears after having experienced this wonderful post. You have described the feeling of skydiving and being in freefall perfectly. I saw the world with new eyes after every jump. I LOVE this post. Thank you, dear friend. 🙂

  4. In the earliest Christian traditions of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and the Christian mystics who followed them, the word perichoresis, or “circle dance” developed to add "aliveness", "wings", to our bond with the Divine. Dance often implies partner, or in this case infinite partners — being led by, and adventuring into, a glorious cosmic connection called the Dance — perichoresis.

    Seeing with the heart (and at times terrified of what we think we perceive) — we climb up those slippery rocks of life (beyond what most call reasonable), then taking a deep breath (like it could be our last) and just before liftoff (and maybe death!) we leap… unknowingly, directly into the Dance.

    All beautiful metaphors for perichoresis — trust, hope, and in the end freedom…

    So finally we embrace the Dance. And what we embrace becomes a more delightful, inviting, sense of our own being. As Ms. Pearl so aptly describes, “Nothing is the same. You are not the same. It is extraordinary. And immensely ordinary. It is everything. And nothing. You feel exhilarated, and relieved. It is liberating,.”

  5. Perichoresis — what a wonderful word! I looked it up and read more about it. One description used the phrase "heart speaks to heart" which reminded me of one of my favorite Bible verses — "deep calls to deep."

    What a lovely description you have offered here of the divine dance. Thank you, Bei Kuan-tu.

  6. You continue to amaze me, DJan. I have never done any skydiving. I can only try to imagine what my brief second of jumping off the cliff might feel like if stretched to the time you spent in skydiving freefall. And the feeling you must have in that moment when you stand in the open door of the plane…and step out. Wow.

    So glad you liked the post and that it somehow captured your transcendent experience.

  7. I loved the way you expressed the awakening, Galen. Its the surrender to what is, releasing the need to be in control and the watching in wonder,at how life unfolds.Its a trust in infinite intelligence, the power that is greater then little "me". It is the end of "your" world, a free fall into grace, and a flowing into the divine dance. Thanks …Life is extraordinary when we let go and stop searching, realizing we already have all that is needed.

  8. I want to let you know how much I appreciate and have enjoyed your blog since I found it about a year ago. Through reading your posts, especially your poetry and your explications on the I Ching, I have come to realize that the philosophy of the Tao (which maybe isn't a philosophy at all!) best expresses my own spiritual perspective and practice. Thank you for all of your hard work! Blessings & peace.

  9. Love your name (curiouser). Curiosity is the perfect attitude to have towards life and all its mystery.

    Thank you for your kind words. I'm so pleased that the blog resonates with you. The Tao Te Ching (and the I Ching) are both full of practical and inspirational passages. And yes, I think you can call it a philosophy. They are not religious texts. It is a "way" (Tao means way) of experiencing the essential reality of Truth (by whatever name you use).

    Thank you so much for your comment.

  10. Indeed, Brian. I used to joke that I didn't want to be a seeker, I wanted to be a finder! Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we wake up one day and realize that everything we every wanted or needed is right in our own back yard. Thanks for commenting–always nice to hear from you.

  11. Oh that's beautiful, Galen! Lovely metaphor for the liberation of letting go, and loved the way you connected it to the book titles. But loved it mostly for the simplicity of the message!

  12. I know–I read all these books but never put the titles together until talking with my friend. So surprising and refreshing to find something so simple and so profound right in front of you!

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