Radical intimacy

In Radiant Mind and other courses I offer I prefer to talk about “intimacy” rather than “love.” This gives us a fresh opportunity to invent what we mean by the word “ love.” Rather than saying a lot about “love” and potentially debase with word, the idea of “intimacy” can be approached more openly. I feel that the word intimacy works better than the word compassion, because compassion is often understood in a dualistic and hierarchal way. We can give something to someone, something that they need. Compassion can be expressed by seeing what another needs and working to fulfill that need. Intimacy isn’t like that. Intimacy gives us the opportunity to totally enter a situation openly in whatever shape it takes. It allows us to be aware and completely engaged with others no matter what is happening.

When we abide in unconditioned awareness we take care of others in the same way we take care of ourselves because there is no difference between ourselves and others. While we don’t feel people’s pain and suffering, or joy and elation in exactly the same way that they do, we deeply participate in their feelings, because we come together in the field of undivided awareness. Other peoples’ thoughts and feelings aren’t arising with the immediacy and with the clarity with which we experience our own thoughts and feelings. It’s more like a shadowing, more opaque, yet whatever is happening for others is effectively part of our own experience. Even though we don’t know what other people are thinking, and while physical pain is very personal, when we rest in nondual awareness, we somehow sense the general structure of people’s throughts—their confusion, worry or clarity. And we relate to their pain as though it was our own.

From within undivided awareness we are just a clearing—a centerless space—through which a universe moves. I am me, not because there is a unique me somewhere in here, but because the space I am reveals a unique and distinctive universe. Even though it seems I’m at the center of this, I’m not in here, and there is no center. This means that everyone who enters into the clearing that I am is as intimately related to me as my thoughts and bodily feelings. There’s no difference.

In the nondual state there is no inside or outside. There is no me in here who exists separate from everything else. It’s impossible to locate where I stop and you begin. There is no point where I stop and you begin. There’s just this, which is everything. This is real intimacy. From within the nondual experience we don’t invite into, or exclude, anything. There’s no one home who is capable of doing this!

Everything is already here. We don’t push anything away, and we don’t hold onto anything. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the structure of our relationships takes the same form with everyone. The people with whom we live, work and practice have a central role in our lives. Nonetheless, there is nothing artificial or contrived about our relationships.

In the nondual realm, intimacy isn’t a particular set of feelings, such as feeling really close or connected to someone, or feeling deeply committed or concerned about someone else’s wellbeing. Nondual intimacy doesn’t carve out a particular relationship with one, or a few other people. Nondual intimacy is all encompassing and all embracing. Nothing is excluded. Everything in our known universe is touched with equal sensitivity and compassion. It’s the experience of total interpenetration of our being to the point where the no one who we are expands to include everything.

I invite you to explore the idea of being a “centerless clearing.” I find that it’s an extremely powerful way of being in the world.


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