Trust In Being

In a way, the entire journey of awakening and unfoldment is about discovering Trust in Being. Yet I find it practically impossible to define what I mean by Trust in Being because there is no particular way it shows up. There’s nothing I can point to and say “this is Trust in Being” or “this is not”. There’s no formula for how to find it, how to know it, or how to live it. It is not a way to be, or a thing you can attain through intention, any more than a flower could bloom by wishing it.

Trust in Being is a basic disposition toward Life that comes from realizing that Life is Yourself. Once you’ve realized that Life is You, you realize the futility of fighting it. Fighting with yourself is exhausting; it shortens your life and makes you prematurely sick and tired. Are you sick and tired of fighting with life and self? If so, perhaps you are ready to find a different relationship with Being.

Perhaps Trust in Being is hard to explain simply because it’s not so much a thing in itself, but more the lack of distrust in Being. And we have all learned the various meanings of distrust in Being very naturally, for we have all lost our childhood innocence through painful experiences.

We are all born with a hardwired kind of trust that is the essence of innocence: we believe that the world is fundamentally good, that our needs will always be fulfilled for us, and that nothing bad will happen. We assume the world is here to nurture us and make us happy, just like it did while we were in the womb. But the moment we are born into this world, we encounter a very different reality; a reality in which our needs are often not met, and thus we learn about pain and suffering. For most, the hope that this must be a temporary mistake dominates our worldview for years. We tend to assume that if we somehow adjust our behavior, it will all go back to the way it was.

But sooner or later, our innocence is dashed. It must be dashed, simply because the state of innocence represents a very partial awareness of life, appropriate only during childhood while we are being nurtured and protected by our parents. To survive and thrive in the world as autonomous beings, we must have a much fuller grasp of the reality we live in. If you believe that grizzly bears want to invite you over for tea, you’ll be in for a shock when you find that they want you for dinner instead.

However it is that our innocence gets shattered, it is rarely without anger and regret. We had such a wonderful life! We had such trust. And then something had to happen and ruin it all. If only that something hadn’t happened; if only the world hadn’t violated you. This loss of innocence is not the loss of Trust in Being because at this stage, we do not even know what Being is. Nor is this the Rot or what I call the Reversal. The loss of childhood innocence is what initiated your distrust in Being and set you on your path to fix the problem or to return to innocence. The Reversal doesn’t come until you start to get that you can never return to the innocence of childhood and that maybe the problem you were trying to solve all those years was simply the feeling of being alive as a vulnerable, independent human form of Being. Which of course isn’t fixable, and nothing was wrong in the first place.

The thing is, had we not lost our childhood innocence, we wouldn’t be able to recognize Trust in Being if it walked up and kissed us on the lips. Without distrust, we cannot know trust. Without separation, we can’t know unity. And so for the sake of our own whole Being awakening process, we need to experience and learn about separation.

The beginning of the loss of our innocence coincides with the beginning of feeling separate. It is an awakening into our lives as autonomous beings; it marks the beginning of our awareness that we are not merely part of our mother. But the passage from unawakened unity with mother into awareness of being a separate autonomous being is a shock so tremendous that some of us never fully adjust. If our parents didn’t adjust well, we have no template for how to grow up well adjusted. Many of us went from the shock of separation into anger at having been yanked out of our private heaven in the womb into the hell of having our needs at least sometimes unmet, if not outright violated.

For many of us, the passage into awareness of separation without proper guidance set us on a tantrum that has lasted for decades. The tantrum is saying something like “I don’t like, I don’t want it, and I won’t put up with it! You should be giving me what I want, and I’m going to resist everything until I get my needs met.” So here we are many years later, still feeling entitled to be given the goodies. And rightly so. But living thus deprived of true nurturance for half a lifetime becomes draining and socially awkward. In polite western society (as well as in most polite spiritual societies), it’s not cool to be pissed about unmet childhood needs (just ask Dr. Phil!), and it’s certainly not cool to need remedial parenting. So you are left with a choice: be cool, or seek remedial parenting.

We make it easy to seek remedial parenting by making neediness cool. That’s part of the culture of our work, including Whole Being Awakening (my work with Hillary) and Waking Down in Mutuality (shared work). We’ve realized for ourselves that waking down into the body necessitates embracing the body’s needs. Having needs is OK. Really OK. This usually takes awhile to grasp. After all, ever since kindergarten it’s been uncool to have needs and feelings. (Hanging out with other immature members of the species is a great way to have fun and get your feelings deeply hurt). So we bring the protection mechanisms we learned at home to life during and after school. So there we were, defending ourselves from those around us, twisted up in knots and confused to the core, and we were only five.

Fast forward to now. We’ve spent so many years hiding our true needs and feelings that we might even think we don’t have them anymore. Or that our needs and feelings aren’t important. Or maybe we decided that our needs are SO important that ours are what matters and everyone else’s pale by comparison. One way or another, you may have lost all hope that your needs and feelings might actually be met — for real — with real love and compassion. So, for all these years, you’ve been coping. Waiting and hoping, hoping and waiting. Most have been waiting and hoping so long we’ve grown cynical and forgot what we were waiting and hoping for.

I am here to say that your needs can be met with true love and compassion. So in your quest for Trust in Being, I invite you take some new risks in asking particular beings who you trust to help you actually get what you need. Trust your body, your needs, your feelings, and your impulses. Yes, that’s right, I mean trust your “small self”. But not only that; trust all of yourself: the child, the animal, the confused adolescent, the competent adult, and your own universal Divinity. Trust your own impulse to find love and nurturance.

Getting your needs met brings absolutely magical results: your needs actually get met! As your needs at one level get met, your needs at other levels reveal themselves. By fulfilling your needs, you will find yourself spontaneously moving to new levels of unfoldment.

You may not have fully connected the idea of getting your needs met with getting enlightened or awakened. After all, most of us were taught that enlightenment is about transcending your needs. And it’s true that at some point you’ll need to transcend your body and your needs (at least for awhile so you can realize transcendence), but transcending your needs will never fulfill them. Transcendence may give you the clarity to discern which needs are important and which are not, but still you can only satisfy your hunger by eating.

When you eat, when you let yourself be OK with having needs and then get them met, you will spontaneously grow into the next stage of your evolution. You will relax out of all the ways in which you were resisting your own reality and the world and you will see (at least with the benefit of hindsight) how the miracle of Being is always exquisitely perfect. Seeing this, your distrust in Being will melt away and Trust in Being will take its place.

Before you discover Trust in Being, there is a place at the very core of your self that can never fully rest, never fully relax. At the center of your very Being, there is a primary distrust so distressing that it keeps you vigilant. Watching, waiting, sensing (and rightly so) that sooner or later something will go wrong. The unconscious assumption is that when that horrible something finally does go wrong, if you are vigilant, you will be so present in that moment that you will spring into action with such great skill and effectiveness that you will deflect the problem and save yourself from an otherwise certain death.

The problem is, death is certain. Our lack of acceptance of this fact keeps our awareness absorbed in denial and vigilance. When your time comes to die, neither an hour nor a lifetime of denial, self-defense, or vigilance will do you any good whatsoever. In fact, the interminable inner vigilance keeps your immune system over-revved and stressed out, eventually leading to auto-immune disorders and the (conscious or subconscious) desire to kill yourself because you’re so tired of trying to keep it all together. All of which tends to make your certain death happen prematurely.

The experience of primary distrust in Being brings utter misery to life. It makes living a barely tolerable experience that you consciously or unconsciously hope will soon end, so you can finally just rest. Without Trust in Being, life can feel, as one friend put it, like living on a Siberian chain gang.

When Trust in Being dawns, it’s like the sun rising over a vast, dark, and parched desert. Way beneath your public face, where fear, doubt, and cynicism has stolen your heart, Trust in Being brings a new and unexpected ease and warmth. It releases you from the intense stress of needing to try to make life work out, as if it was all on your individual shoulders. As if something was wrong with you, that you alone needed to fix or atone for. It lets you relax at the core of your Being. Relaxing at the core, all the holding you’ve done to keep your life together relaxes with it. Your entire life of holding your breath and waiting to get through it — and everything that was built on that foundation — crumbles. This is the end of your tantrum and the end of your war with life, self, and Being. This is The Only True Relaxation.

When you are living Trust in Being, everything changes. Life is still difficult in many ways. There are endless challenges, and you must still face fear, sickness, pain, and death. But you are no longer alone in the same way. You are no longer separated from Being; it is no longer you versus the universe. You know you are part of Totality, and that you and life are perfect. Not perfection according to the mind, but perfection as a living ease and wisdom at the heart of your Being.

© 2007 Ted Strauss

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