Life Musings, Spiritual Musings

No Knight in Shining Armor

If you’ve followed this blog since the beginning, then you’ll know that I used to have quite a thing for knights in shining armor.  I often found myself falling for people – especially men – who could swoop in and take care of all my little problems.  Exhibit A can still be found here, even though I’ve fought the urge to delete this post and thereby remove all evidence of past codependent tendencies.

Therapy, introspection, and a fantastic book on overcoming abandonment issues helped me uncover the roots of my attraction to men who could fix my life — deal with car stuff, lift heavy objects, make phone calls I didn’t want to make and generally do things I was too lazy, insecure or spoiled-brattish to do myself. Continue reading “No Knight in Shining Armor”

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Race & Ethnicity, Spiritual Musings

Why The Negro Problem is a Lost Cause

I want to be very clear about a few things up front before I lay out these ideas, because what I’m going to share is a bit complicated and my argument is probably unlike most of what you have heard and read – possibly ever, and certainly in the wake of the countless reflections on “the race problem” that have emerged in our collective efforts to grapple with what happened to Trayvon Martin.

So here are my caveats:

  1. This is not, in any way, a minimization of racism and its very real consequences for millions of people who have lived and died in this country – or en route to its shores – since its inception.
  2. This is not a post-racial post.
  3. This is not a hopeless story.

* * *

In the days following the Zimmerman verdict, I found myself moving about the world in a heightened state of racial awareness.  Going about my business, I observed anxiety as I interacted with strangers I categorized as white — and/or Latino. “What are they thinking? Do they care about the trial? Are they racist?” Walking into a grocery store, I glanced at a pile of newspapers, with a smiling Zimmerman and the verdict in bold letters. And then I glanced at my white neighbors, pushing their carts and picking through cantaloupes.  “Are they happy? Are they disappointed? Are they indifferent? Are they allies?”

Beyond words, I observed the emotions caught in my chest — the fear, fatigue and frustration.  The relief I felt in the middle of aisle 6 when my eyes met those of the one other black person in the store — a woman with graying hair who took a moment to smile at me.  I smiled with gratitude in return, but I imagined that she knew it was not a smile of happiness.  It was the smile of survivors acknowledging with simple defiance that “We are still here.” It was a smile, tinged with pain and resistance, that black women and men have been wearing in the wake of tragedy for generations.

One morning last week, I sensed myself do a double-take when seeing a Latino brother who, to my mind, looked like Zimmerman.  In a flash, self judgment and shame: “This man has nothing to do with Zimmerman.”  And yet there it was – the ugly seed of prejudice.   I saw it in my heart — the heart of an antiracist, a woman who is highly committed to living beyond her own conditioning, with multi-racial, multi-ethnic family members, friends and loved ones of every hue.  If this seed can exist in my heart, then it can exist in any heart.  In fact, Buddhists teach that the seeds of consciousness and unconsciousness exist inside all of us.  We can either choose to water the unconscious seeds or we can choose to wake up to our true nature.  Looking at my Latino brother, I saw Zimmerman.  I saw Trayvon.  And most importantly, I saw myself.  In that moment, I knew that part of my spiritual practice in a time of racial crisis must be a renewed decision to water the seeds of compassion, to consciously acknowledge the seeds of prejudice and to be very clear about the core of the human problems that ail us.

* * *

I’ve always been a big fan of W.E.B. Du Bois.  I like to joke that he actually attended my dissertation defense.  (This is also a litmus test for determining whether someone actually knows who Du Bois is.)  In fact, my defense was to take place in the department’s main seminar room, where Du Bois’ portrait hangs on the wall – the only black face in a sea of whiteness.  At the last minute, I was told that we’d have to move to another room.  This was so distressing to me that a friend secretly arranged to temporarily steal remove the portrait and place it in the seminar room where I defended my thesis, directly across from my seat.

Du Bois’ sociological work has always been near to my heart because he spent so much time thoughtfully and creatively meditating on what he termed “The Negro Problem”.  In fact, he wrote (1898) not simply of the Negro problem, but of Negro problems as a multifaceted set of complex social conditions with historical roots and myriad consequences:

“A social problem is the failure of an organized social group to realize its group ideals, through the inability to adapt a certain desired line of action to given conditions of life. If, for instance, a government founded on universal manhood suffrage has a portion of its population so ignorant as to be unable to vote intelligently, such ignorance becomes a menacing social problem. The impossibility of economic and social development in a community where a large per cent of the population refuse to abide by the social rules of order, makes a problem of crime and lawlessness… Thus a social problem is ever a relation between conditions and action, and as conditions and actions vary and change from group to group from time to time and from place to place, so social problems change, develop and grow. Consequently, though we ordinarily speak of the Negro problem as though it were one unchanged question, students must recognize the obvious facts that this problem, like others, has had a long historical development, has changed with the growth and evolution of the nation; moreover, that it is not one problem, but rather a plexus of social problems, some new, some old, some simple, some complex; and these problems have their one bond of unity in the act that they group themselves about those Africans whom two centuries of slave trading brought into the land.”

As a social scientist, Du Bois concerned himself with the social dimensions of the problematic features of black life in the United States. In The Philadelphia Negro – the first significant urban sociological study in the history of American sociology – Du Bois argued and empirically demonstrated that whites’ anti-black discrimination resulted in reduced opportunities for blacks, limiting where they could live, the jobs they could occupy, their social environments and the even the functioning of their families.  While his work was largely ignored by mainstream sociologists during his life, over a century later, his insights into the dynamics of race, discrimination and opportunity are highly influential and have been so for several decades.  And Du Bois’ related meditations on the subjective dimensions of oppression, as seen for example in The Souls of Black Folks, continue to shape our understandings of race in America.

* * *

At some point in my 20s, a startling and depressing thought occurred to me: The Negro Problem is a lost cause. In long discussions with friends, activists, teachers and family members, we would always come to a point where we’d throw our hands up in resignation to the seemingly eternal nature of the bullshit.  I began to suspect that the mutlifacted and institutionalized problems that Du Bois and so many others have explained could be improved — but only to a point. Like many students of race, I found myself struggling to imagine that racism could ever be eradicated.  And more than this, it also seemed that the black/white wealth gap — which is only one dimension of racial oppression — would in all likelihood never be erased.  Over the years, it became increasingly clear to me that while our society certainly can and has become more tolerant, there are certain features of our history that have produced path-dependent effects — effects that will probably linger, in some way, shape or form, for a very long time to come.

This feeling – which first emerged in the classroom – was reinforced when I went into the field and began interviewing nearly 200 people of African descent in the United States and France.  As I probed their views on race and racism, I heard that many of them believed that the problem of race cuts to the core of something fundamental about the human experience.  In the voices of many black people I met, on both sides of the Atlantic, was an acknowledgment that the struggle against racism feels interminable because its really a struggle against the human condition.  It is a struggle at the core of the human heart.  The question is: Can this problem be undone?  Or will we forever be undone by it?

* * *

If we try to solve our race issues by nibbling around the edges of oppression, by making superficial changes, by merely signing petitions, taking to the streets, by engaging in political movements, by becoming more entrenched in our racial identities — if this is all that we do, then yes, I am arguing that the Negro problem is indeed a lost cause.  We might as well go home now.  Game over.

But if we begin to acknowledge that the Negro problem is not really a Negro problem at all, then there may in fact be hope for us.  What we really have is an Ego problem — and yes, it is at the heart of the human condition.  But this is not a death sentence.  Another way is possible, but it will require that we transcend the ordinary ways in which we’ve been conditioned to think about ourselves and each other.  It will require us to see the N(eg)r(o) problem not simply as a social problem, the way Du Bois did, but rather as a special form of something more universal, something more pernicious, something more intimate than “structural discrimination” or “the system”.  Undoing the N(eg)r(o) problem is not even primarily about other people.  It must begin with each of us getting real about how we see ourselves and the consequences of these beliefs for how we interact with others.  So what does the ego have to do with the Negro? And what does any of this have to do with bringing about a more just society?

* * *

Years ago when I read Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”, I noted with pleasure the fact that he acknowledged — albeit briefly — race in his work.  In describing the endlessly varied dimensions of egoic identification, he writes:

“Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance  special abilities, relationships  personal and family history, belief systems, and often also political, nationalistic, racial, religious and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

What does it mean to say that you are not your egoic identity?  Does it mean that your identities do no matter? That the way others identify you has no consequence? Absolutely not.  To say that we are not the ego is to bring attention to the fact that we go through life believing that we are the ideas we have of ourselves — so much so that most of us don’t even realize that we are acting upon this core belief.. what Mooji calls our belief in the “I-entity”.  We take our self-concept for granted, as though it actually, concretely, represents who we are.

Tolle is simply stating that logically, this cannot be true.  To say that you are not your ego – that you are not your identity – is to gently point out the incontrovertible truth that you cannot be any idea that you have of yourself.  “You” – your presence, your consciousness – must precede everything else.  This isn’t even about spirituality at all – it’s simple logic.  Think about it for a moment. Can you be an idea? Or do you have ideas? And if you have ideas, Who is it that has it?  Does that Who have a gender, a nationality, status, sexuality, height or weight?  Does that Who have an age?  Does that Who have a race?

* * *

Sociologists are very good at describing our social problems and — sometimes — proposing some measures of improvement.  But we cannot solve them with empirical studies and well-couched policy implications alone.

In fact, we cannot solve the race problem inside the race problem.  Does this mean that we should simply transcend race?  Of course not.  Why?  Because it is not possible to transcend something without first acknowledging it!  Biases based on appearances are hardwired into our social conditioning through our interactions with others and our absorption of language.  Bias is not something we can simply choose to let go of or disregard without first becoming acutely aware of how it has shaped — and continues to shape — the way we live our lives.

bell hooks teaches us that one of the key mechanisms of racial oppression is convincing human beings to see themselves primarily as racial subjects.  I concur and argue that we must see racialized thinking for what it is — a particular form of a more general phenomena — the socially reinforced habit of thinking that we are defined by the thoughts we have about ourselves and others.  Effective antiracist activism will require acknowledging race and racism from a place beyond race and racism.

When we think that we are our racial identities and our racial thoughts, we perpetuate systems of inequality – not only out there in the world but also and primarily inside of our own experience.  As long as I think I am merely my ideas, then those ideas are dependent on validation, either from other thoughts of my own, or thoughts from others.  As long as I think I am merely my ideas, I cannot be totally awake and alive to my full humanity.

This isn’t woo-woo-woo spirituality . . . it’s simply a fact. The tendency to reduce ourselves and others to thoughts of any kind blinds us to our inherent worth and the worth of others.  And it is impossible for us to make truly positive change in this world, change that will last, if we are not aware of our inalienable worth, beyond thoughts, beyond social conditioning, beyond what we have learned to believe.  Prejudice of all kind stems from a human being mistaking themselves for an idea (egoic identity) and seeing others they interact with through the lens of that delusion.  Thus, instead of interacting with other human beings, in their full presence, the unconsciously prejudiced person interacts with them as stereotypes — as mere ideas… ideas that can be ranked, negated, diminished and disregarded.

So what can we do?

The Negro problem, as traditionally defined, may be a lost cause, but the Ego problem is not.  I don’t have the secret of how we will once and for all solve these pernicious problems, but I know for sure that we cannot do it without sustained awareness, honesty and transparency about our egoic impulses and the ways in which we have all been influenced by the biases we’ve absorbed through socialization.  Being biased is part of what it means to be human. Living beyond those biases, in the light of awareness and compassion, is what it means to be Divine.

Part of unpacking the ego is becoming more (not less) aware of our own racial lenses.  We must see ourselves beyond ego, yes, but we must also pay attention to the way our conditioned mind reacts when we encounter others – and take responsibility for living beyond the bullshit. What expectations and prejudices do we have when we interact with people we perceive as different? What thoughts — good, bad, or otherwise — arise when we see folks we categorize into “groups”?  What feelings do we experience when we encounter “one of them”?  Can we witness these thoughts and feelings without judgment?  In so doing, can we become more alive to that part of ourselves that witnesses our social conditioning but has Itself never been conditioned?  Can we become more alive to the Presence that is at the core of ourselves and every other living being?

When we are faced with racism, it is very tempting to be unconsciously dragged down into racializing others in return.  But this is a terrible mistake.  If we are going to help others wake up to their own racism, we must first wake up to our own racial concepts and in so doing, see beyond them.  From that place – in the racial world but not of it – we can rise in consciousness, inflecting our activism for social justice with wisdom and compassion, empowered with an unshakable confidence in Who we really are.  For, as bell hooks writes:

“To move beyond race is not only the goal of critical thinking, it is the only path to emotional longevity, the only true path to liberation.”

What I’m trying to say here is that we don’t, in fact, have to move beyond race, because what we really are has always been beyond it.  What we have to do is consciously realize what is already the case, by waking up to the part of ourselves that has never been defined by ideas, racial or otherwise — the part of ourselves that is Consciousness Itself.

*

Life Musings, Spiritual Musings

No Hair. Don’t Care. My New (Bald) Look

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If you follow this blog closely, you’ll know that I’ve been progressively letting go of my egoic attachment to hair.  Earlier this year I did a big chop — with a pair of scissors, that resulted in 2/3 of my hair ending up on my bathroom floor.

After my big chop in January
After my big chop in January

Going short felt liberating.  But something in me wanted to go all the way.  It was not so much a question of if, as when.  While visiting Thich Nhat Hanh’s Blue Cliff Monastery a few months ago, I spent some time with a few Buddhist nuns — women who deeply impressed me, not only with their wisdom and spiritual strength but also with their bald heads.

Photo Jul 19, 11 49 43 PM
My hair journey, over the last six months . .

I’ve loved my shorter hair – so much so that I’ve documented the transformation with an endless stream of selfies that I periodically post on twitter.  But all good things must come to an end.

As we’ve moved ever more deeply into the bowels of global warming the hottest summer ever, my fro, even in its diminished form, has just felt like too much to bear.  It’s been really fucking hot on the East Coast this week. We’re talking day after day of 95+ with intense humidity.  Even with just 1/3 of my hair on my head, my curly fro was a heat magnet.  Yes, it was low maintenance — shower ‘n go — but I had to deal with all that heat stuck up in my head . . . and I’d wake up looking like Don King.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Don King, but it really just wasn’t the “good morning” I was looking for.

Anywho, last night it occurred to me: If I’m tired of my hair, why am I still wearing it?  What is keeping me from the big shave?  In a flurry of excitement, I decided that I would go to the barber first thing in the morning. I almost attempted to shave it myself but, with five inches of hair on my head, and no barber skills whatsoever, reason won over enthusiasm.

It didn’t really feel like a decision so much as it felt like a calling.  I was simply compelled to do it.  If I have to come up with reasons, we could say it was personal, weather related and spiritual.  For sure, it is a way of sacrificing a little more vanity (though I still have wellsprings where that came from) and practicing even more non-attachment to my pre-conceived notions of what beauty and femininity are all about.  But really, there was no one reason. It just finally felt right.

So, here it is. My new look – and my first time being bald since I was a fetus.  I was born with hair so this is literally the only time post-womb that I have moved about on Earth with an unencumbered scalp. It’s like meeting myself for the first time.  I love it — and I love me, for having the courage to experience this freedom.

2013-07-19 18.13.09

Life Musings, Spiritual Musings

Observing the ego

Here’s Mooji explaining in a very subtle and lovely way what happens when we observe the ego:

I really love, in particular, how he points out that any observation of the ego that is interested (not indifferent) is still the ego.

Eckhart Tolle on the difference between the “real” I and the fake (egoic) “I”:

Life Musings

Making Peace

Photo from my trip to Jerusalem in 2011. Found this very moving.

Everyone’s talking about “the conflict” in Israel and Gaza.  Meanwhile, most of us struggle to resolve the largely insignificant conflicts in our everyday lives.  I always see what’s going on “out there” in the world as a reflection of what’s going on “in here”.  Gaza is a mirror.  If we can’t assert compassion, love, acceptance of self and others on a daily basis when the stakes are low, how can we ever expect entire nations to make peace when the stakes are perceived as incredibly high?  If we are ever-ready to defend the microscopic terrains of our little egos, why do we marvel and scratch our heads when groups of people feel compelled to defend their land and their dignity, no matter the cost?  I’m simply amazed that folks who can’t get along with their in-laws nonetheless feel justified in getting on their ideological soap-box about politics and war.

It’s hard to believe, but I was actually in Israel and the Palestinian territories almost exactly a year ago.  I traveled to Jerusalem as part of a research team of sociologists studying stigmatized groups in the U.S. (African Americans), Brazil (Blacks) and Israel (Ethiopian Jews, Arab Israelis and Mizrahis).  You can learn more about that on-going project here and here.  This was my first trip to the Middle East, a voyage that changed me in ways I’m still processing.

Graffiti on the “security barrier” built by Israel in Jerusalem.

As I reflect on the harrowing news coming in from the region – a familiar and in most ways unsurprising story – I know for sure that there can be no lasting peace in this world unless we all figure out how to make peace in our everyday lives.  This is not an abstract or philosophical point.  Nothing could be more pragmatic than your commitment to practicing peace.  I’m not saying that one must be the Buddha in order to have a political opinion, engage in activism or resist domination or violence.  But we have to be just as committed, indeed more committed, to creating peace in our individual lives as we are to bringing about justice and reconciliation. For me, peace-making has been an integral dimension of nondual spirituality.  Pre-2012, my life was full of drama.  Because I was (unbeknownst to me) entirely identified with my ego and sense of individuality, my overall perspective was quite negative.  My greatest source and repository of drama was a dysfunctional romantic relationship that I finally ended after years of deeply unconscious, mutually-traumatic conflict.  But there were also many other little pockets of discontent.  I was easily offended and often angry. Someone was always getting on my nerves.  My shit list was maxed out.  I frequently spoke ill of others and had frenemies who enjoyed gossip.  It was a pretty awful way to live, but at the time, I didn’t know how things could be otherwise.

Took a mud bath in the Dead Sea after visiting Jericho in Palestine.

Fast forward a year.  I’m far from perfect, but the experience of peace in my daily life has gone from “almost never” to “the vast majority of the time”.  This does’t meant that I’m constantly singing Kumbaya or that I never get into arguments or fire up with anger. But arguments and strife are fairly rare occurences for me now.  And when they do happen, the key difference between then and now is that I see the ego.  I sense (and sometimes laugh about) my mind’s urge to be right, the desire to be noticed, admired, the ego’s need to feel superior. In the past, I was so wrapped up in the ego that I did not even understand there it was operating in my life.  [See Eckhart Tolle chit-chat about this aspect of the ego here].  I felt totally identified with my thoughts, my emotions and my narrative–the story of “me”.  My transformative encounter with God and conscious experience of nonduality has allowed me to identify with the presence, the space, the no-thing-ness within which my existence (and everything else) unfolds.  As a result, either in the moment itself, or immediately thereafter, I am able to observe my thoughts and feelings rather than become fully absorbed in them.  Not only does this create peace in my life by reducing my stress and lowering the volume of mental noise, but it also spontaneously produces compassion for everyone else as I consciously realize that the boundaries between us are illusory.

Now when someone upsets me, I express whatever feels appropriate in the moment — but I don’t do so with the unmitigated and unapologetic cruelty that I used to feel justified using in the past. An angry, unconscious ego always feels justified.  Now, when I feel wounded, I notice the feeling. I know that I am not the feeling.  I may hurt and suffer terribly.  My ego may feel that I’ve been terribly wronged, disrespected or mistreated.  But now I am not automatically driven by the pain or the anger.  The reaction is not quite so knee-jerk and automatic.  There is greater space, more distance — an observation of what is happening as it happens.  When negative thoughts arise about someone, the very awareness of those thoughts also dissolves the self-justification of the ego.  When I think of that guy who treated me poorly, the thought might come: “Wow, what a jerk!  I hate him.”  But as I notice that happening, that very awareness itself serves as a wake-up call.  It’s as if the awareness sets off an alarm: “Ding! Ding! Ding! Your Ego’s showing its ass again!”  And, as Eckhart Tolle and Mooji and everyone else who knows this truth says: once you see the Ego, it ceases to really be an ego.  That is, the Ego only really functions as such by fooling you into thinking you are it.  When you see that it is just an illusion (when you experience the truth of this) then it loses its power.  I might still tell that guy to never talk to me again, but something in me also asserts compassion and love for him, knowing that he and I are really one – and we’re both just doing our best.

I’ve also been making peace in very small ways. I used to be terrified of all bugs and insects. I would kill them (or, more likely, enlist someone else to kill them) with impunity. It first occured to me that there was something wrong about this when I started attending Buddhist meditation classes. But nothing changed in my experience – nor the experience of the poor unfortunate insects who dared cross my path – until I really began to feel more presence and stillness in my life. I didn’t make a decision to stop killing insects. It just happened. One day I woke up and found I was no longer afraid of them. And if fear did arise, it still didn’t have the kind of hold on me that it used to. Instead of squashing spiders and insects, I save their lives and liberate them, assuming Zora doesn’t hunt them down first.

You can’t make peace if you aren’t at peace.  For me, that means cultivating full, total, radical acceptance of my Self.  Accepting my Self means letting go of the illusion that I’m the little story, the illusory narrative, that my ego has contrived.  In so doing, I generate compassion for myself (the suffering of this imagined ego) and compassion for all living beings.  Awareness — conscious attentiveness to the present moment — inevitably leads me to see that we’re all the same.  When I hurt, I am reminded of the hurt I have inflicted on others as well as the universal pain we all feel when we forget our own Divinity.  What I know now, for sure, is that awareness is a pre-requisite for peace.  The first step is always consciousness, whether it’s in the Middle East or the middle of your daily crisis.

Spiritual Musings, Video

A Love Story

Every day . . . every single day . . . something happens in my life that shines light on some area in need of greater “realization of Self”.  One of the “gifts” of awareness of one’s inner world is greater sensitivity to any and all unpleasant sensations.  It is always sometimes very uncomfortable to deeply engage these moments of tension, pain or stress, but looking unpleasantness in the eye is really the gift that keeps on giving.  Because life is so full of suffering, we are never at a loss for opportunities to learn, stretch and grow in the throes of unpleasant feelings and situations.  Somehow, if we’re lucky, we come to experience grace in the midst of suffering as we allow Life to show us how to more fully and deeply rise in consciousness of who we really are.

One of the frustrating and frankly embarrassing side effects of this “path” as I’m experiencing it is the inconsistency of the realization.  While I have been living with a much higher “baseline” of peace, tranquility, joy, love and compassion, there are not-infrequent-occasions on which I still react/think/feel out of ego and the small “self”.  On a certain level, I understand that being too invested in maintaining an ongoing experience of inner peace is just another game the ego plays . . . and yet . . . I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the embarrassment I sometimes feel about the limitations of my own ability to remain consciously aware of Presence.  Yes, another ego game, and yet a peculiar one.

It can be a little disconcerting to have your friends and family use your own “wisdom” against you, so to speak,in an effort to show the error of your ways.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone tell me something along the lines of “Weren’t you just talking about unconditional love?  What did you say about the ego?  Didn’t you have a realization about inner peace a few minutes ago?  Remember when you said . . . “

How sad is it to feel the impulse of selfless compassion in one moment, only to cede to the lure of egoic self interest in the next?  How often have my friends and loved ones marveled with a mix of lurid fascination and pity as I regale them with tales of my enthusiastic spiritual practice only to later reveal the latest emotional melodrama from my love life or the hair-pulling-stress of my work?

And yet . . . how can it be otherwise?  How many of us are fully realized?  Who experiences total tranquility and perfect equanimity?  I know of no one who has become immune to the dance of the ego and its tote bag of suffering.  If there is any immunity, perhaps it is as Mooji and Eckhart Tolle teach of it: simply cultivating awareness of the dance, without attachment to or interest in its footsteps . . . like watching clouds build and dissipate on the canvas of the skies.

All of this to say: today I fucked up, knew I fucked up while I was fucking up, felt the ego’s call to identify with the fucked-up-ness, felt like crap for being so imperfect, then glimpsed the extraordinary, unchanging and unchangeable perfection within which all else arises — including ordinary, flawed ‘me’ .

I was led to the following teaching, entitled “A Love Story”, as I ruminated on these unpleasant feelings.

In this video, Mooji carries on an exchange with a man in satsang who feels that he has trouble “connecting with” God.  He laments that: “I sometimes have the feeling that I am not in the right place or I don’t do the right decision.”

Some of my favorite bits from Mooji’s response:

“I don’t feel that God wants you to make right decisions . . . but more just [wants you] to be yourself.  And at least, to see, there’s a saying, no?  To err is to be human, or something like, the very nature of human ways is to make error.  But also to be somewhat humble in our self, to see that we’re not so great.  There is something in that.  And something relaxes and opens up and makes possible an opportunity to see beneath the surface of our conditioning. And what you will discover will not frighten you. it will always make you realize that you’re much more a love story than you think.”

“God is not playing with you.  God is playing as you.”

“Whatever caused you to be here is also taking care of you.”

“I don’t see anything in you less than what I’ve found in my own Self.  And it’s not an achievement . . . it cannot be achieved.  It can only reveal Itself, which is what it’s doing.  And if we don’t cling to our attachments and dreams and fears and all these projections, you’ll come much more quickly into that seeing, because nothing is being withheld from you, you see?  So whatever it is your heart longs to connect with or to make known or to be refreshed in, my feeling is, let’s find out what can possibly be in the way of that.”

“Even if you say you lost contact with the I Am, that cannot be true!  The very I is the I Am in whose presence the sense of losing contact is felt and maybe momentarily believed in. You are the I Am, the very fact of your existence, the very fact of your perceiving is evidence that everything is issuing out of that I Am. It is the very seed of perceiving – that pulsation, that vibration of I Am . .  . Maybe what you are saying is momentarily there is some distraction to some other things. But you’re going to come to see that even the feeling of distraction can only occur in consciousness and that consciousness is the I Am and you are that consciousness.”