tough love

Tough Love? Because most readers will find the contents of this post confronts their comfort-zone. Like happened here when I first encountered these notions. I won’t be surprised if you unfollow this blog, but I’d nonetheless love to think that you’ll take a look for yourself. For yourself. For. Yourself.

faith and hope


When you open your newsfeed and scroll through the week’s latest instalment of tragedy and brutality, you are observing the carnage wrought by faith and hope.

Faith and hope are two words sagely trotted out by both traditional and new age purveyors of fixes for the human condition. They feature large in the Christian Bible, and slip easily off our politicians’ tongues at times of crisis. “Only have faith!” “Defend the faith!” “Trust (have faith in) our democratic processes!” “Hope is our salvation …”

We are warned about “losing faith” or “losing hope” as though such absence will lead us to the top of a slippery slope and the inevitable descent into despair.

My teachers were strict. They demanded that every word employed be fully understood in all its implications. They would incisively question words that fed the illusion of separation, or that implied a ‘self’ solid and separate from the all-containing movement of creation. They had no time for those who counselled one to have faith, to hope, or to trust, because each of these positions betrays a desire for a self-satisfying outcome, a result that will bring relief, comfort, security or improvement in the life of the supplicant – or in the world they perceive to be faulty. They pointed out that these words, and others like time, need and want, are just more names for the illusory self, which is the root cause of all violence and suffering. They dismissed those who enthused about the merits of such attitudes with ruthless compassion: “Please come back when you want nothing but the Real.”

And I have grokked this so deeply it actually hurts my heart to hear people tell themselves they only need more faith or hope or trust (or compassion or understanding, or even time) to embody “the peace that passeth all understanding”, when it is the very abandonment of these notions that will throw them into a ‘me’-shattering, heart-melting intimacy with Life. An intimacy that makes future outcomes irrelevant, for the future is seen to be as illusory as the present (a dreaming streaming of perceptions, imagination, and ceaseless commentary); an intimacy that brings the mind unconditional peace and rest.

Let’s get the crucial questions lined up and check them out for ourselves:

Where can the one who needs to have faith (in any ideology) and hope (in any imagined outcome) be found? Be very precise. Where is the world to be found? Again – precision please. Where are disharmony, violence and tragedy to be found?

If you suggest they are all in the mind, tell me, where is one’s mind to be found?

If you can locate any of these, or anything else, outside of your fundamental awareness, you’ll be the first in the entire history of humanity to do so. And you’ll be wrong, because no matter where you stick the pin, it will still be a gesture occurring exclusively in the awareness that you are.

Gertrude Stein put it pithily: “There is no there there.”

If there is no place or time, or me or them, apart from the awareing of them, what does that do to ‘our relationship’ with the streaming shimmering dance we call world? Does it even make sense to speak of ‘relationship’ (which again implies separation), or is there only the streaming shimmering dance, dancing?

What are the implications of that mindshift?

Where is the brutality? The tragedy? The heroism? The suffering? It is nowhere but here, and it is all ours; it is all us – busily entertaining robotic thoughts and believing them to be real.

On the other side of faith and hope there’s a spaciousness that knows exactly how to respond to anything it meets with intense appropriateness. It’s a movement without a centre – without a trace of conditioning, without the burden of memory. We have all experienced it.

Let us rest in that spacious stillness, alert and awake, and see what Life will do with us. It might be something shocking, something we’d never imagine for ourselves. That will be a good indication of its authenticity.

I’ll meet you there.


In a similar vein, something I wrote in 2009 on ‘this unlit light’ blog:

the universe arises in your light



I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men’s hands
even at the height of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound.

– Hafiz


14 thoughts on “tough love

  1. There was, throughout the 1950’s, a sign above the entrance to Wat Paknam – a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. It read: “Abandon hope all you who enter here” – the supposed inscription at the entrance to hell from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

    1. Your comments always add texture and breadth dear Hariod, thank you. I remember seeing photos of that sign at Wat Paknam in the 50’s and being quite mystified. It seemed so negative. But I was just a teenager then, and the big questions had yet to fall into my brain. As for Dante – well!

  2. Louisa, – there is a yes in me to your words, reading this – and some minutes ago i found this video from a beautiful friend, Coreen L Walson Facebook – “raw, from the heart” – where she trusted God’s voice telling her to heal a fainted woman. She had no idea how and what to do, but knelt down and because she had faith in God and not her small self, the perfect words came: she told the woman’s daughter: “Your fear is affecting your mother” and the daughter gasped and her mother opened her eyes and all was well.
    Could you comment, please?
    much love

    1. Thank you dear Nina – I delight in your comment and query.

      Whenever there’s a release of the contraction we feel as ‘self’, healing and seeming miracles can happen. There’s room for the movement of the Whole. Sometimes people call the Whole “God”, and the movement “Grace”.

      The movement of Grace over-rides our laws of physics, and I doubt there’s one being who hasn’t experienced it. It will be verbalised according to one’s unique matrix; some will speak of “faith” in this context and refer to a deep, impersonal knowingness of the Real.

      Others may be expressing from a belief in, and hope for, salvation (etc). Eventually it’s seen that beliefs of any kind are red herrings. Can psychological fear exist without belief?

      Belief in a contracted separate self is the generator of a labyrinth built of dominoes. Seeing through this one unholy myth topples the lot. Grace gets space. It will use the ‘me’-matrix in whatever way it wishes.

      Returning your love 🙂

      – ml

  3. Ha! There was a lot of writing going on — of just this kind of thing late last night. Or so it seemed. To be healed of hope is to be without qualms. The war is over.

    1. “To be healed of hope is to be without qualms.” – I love that. Thank you dear Colette.

      Perhaps there’s a meme about. I look forward to reading what fell from your pen last night!


  4. i get where you r coming from with this post, but it reminds of a sage in India not to long ago saying that the teenage girl on the bus got raped by several men because of karma. Although these things are true, some things should be said around certain company 🙂
    I love hope and faith because their opposites, doubt and fear bring about tremendous questioning 🙂 lolol

    1. Dear Myles – I love your comment. Since I know you are the right “company” I can say –

      I am the rapist and the raped
      I am the sage and the idiot
      I am every perpetrator of evil and good that has existed in this timeless stream of being.
      My only love is this incomprehensible Knowingness that contains and creates ALL – which means I love all as myself.
      Nothing can escape this fierce embrace. And yes, It seems to thrive on tremendous questioning.

      – ml, having a good laugh

    1. I “like” that you have left a comment dear Amrita – but it seems to have evaporated somewhere between your iPad and the WordPress servers…

      Perhaps you’d be so kind as to repost? I know that whatever you have written will be a wise contribution – not to be missed!


  5. Hi Miriam, your post is asking me why I summon hope and faith. It may be Adyashanti points toward this in the following:

    Love Without Division~
    The impulse to alleviate suffering can come either from our own anger, resentment, and horror about the presence of suffering in the world, or it can come from a true state of love and compassion that is free from negative motivations.
    If we resist the suffering in the world, we are resisting a fact of life. We are in a sense saying no to life. However, there is also a natural impulse to help others in need, not because we have an existential resistance to their suffer- ing, but because love and care are our natural and instinctual responses to the sorrows of life. One motivation is divided, while the other is not. The difference is vitally important because it determines whether our actions will actually relieve suffering, or perpetuate it. To resent suffering is itself suffer- ing, and it does not help anyone.
    When you resent suffering you are judging it as wrong—as if everything that you dislike is somehow wrong. But suffering is not wrong; it is suffering. The judgment is a purely human fabrication that we project onto life. Drop the judgment about suffering and there is Love. Love knows how to respond to every situation without going into division.
    Redemptive Love Course

    1. Dear Di – I deeply appreciate your comment, thank you for taking the time to ponder my words and to share Adyashanti’s wisdom with us all.

      It’s a beautiful statement, and I find nothing there that quarrels with my own understanding – I can’t imagine for a moment that you thought I was positing a resistance to, or denying, the suffering of the world. Or that assistance is futile. Quite the opposite. It is all exactly what we ARE, how could it be resisted?

      As Adya points out, our assistance/action needs to come from “a true state of love and compassion that is free from negative motivations.” It’s a subtle and tricky point. We are often driven by unconscious motivations that are more about our own story than the situation that presents itself to us.

      This “true state of love” is waiting, however, on the other side of our personal agendas, beyond right and wrong, faith and hope, and yes – it is what one comes to know as truly redemptive Love. Love which is synonymous with undivided Life (the only source of “right action”) unburdened by our ideas about how everyone and everything should be. Acting from ideology or belief or psychological need of any kind can be lethal – as is so evident in our world. We are reacting rather than responding. (I would say that reaction is always divisive; response, on the other hand is fluid, without a centre… )

      Can there be Love when there is division? Or is Love what is actual, real and inescapable, when all desire is absent?

      Your heart is immense and full of kindness Di. I know you understand what I’m trying to say, even though the words can trip us up at times… thanks again for your comment. X

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