This blog is an attempt to put in words a process of “coming to”, of exploring consciousness, connection, living. These are very personal accounts – written spontaneously, with little editing – neither teachings nor necessarily success stories – but they are always about sincere attempts to awaken to a deeper truth. I share this publicly with some trepidation. After all, this comes from a Sensory Awareness Leader with 30-some years of being on a path of awakening, someone who has made it his passion and profession to guide people on a path to profound happiness, connection, healing and participation – someone who should have arrived!
Won’t it hurt my “résumé” if I declare publicly that happiness often eludes me, that I long for connection more than experiencing it, that I have not healed yet and that I am at times completely wrapped in my own story rather than participating in a world that cries out for help? Maybe.
However, it has often been my experience, that being open about my “shortcomings” can be a helpful tool, even though it is not a comfortable one, because I am not as perfect as I expect myself to be – and that may show. But who am I kidding? The truth is, I share this predicament with most people I meet. A student wrote a while ago about me being her “amazing inner wilderness guide”. I thanked her for that compliment but said that I am often quite lost myself and maybe not such a trustworthy guide. She responded by saying that this was exactly what she liked so much about me, that I could be present with her where she is, rather than pretending I knew the way out.
And indeed, it is then that we feel most understood when we are being met where we are by someone who knows how it is to be there. From there we can venture out together through the often rather bewildering places life can take us to. From this place of not knowing we can explore and maybe even make ourselves at home instead of trying to escape.
I chose my Dharma name Joyful Dharma of the Source for this blog. I feel very fortunate to have been given this name by Therese Fitzgerald and Wendy Johnson, two beautiful Dharma teachers in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh. Joyful Dharma is also who I am – in spite of myself I do have access to a profound joy from a very deep source beyond the boundaries of ‘self’ and ‘other’, to a place that has always been at peace, connected and engaged. Deep within ourselves we know this place is right here, in the midst of the mess we’re in, though much of the time we cannot recognize it.
It is with all of this in mind that I share with you some of my meanderings in the wilderness of ‘self’ and ‘other’ – not because I think my experiences are particularly noteworthy. This is not about me but maybe I’ll meet you there and together we can awaken. May it be so.
All photographs by Stefan Laeng-Gilliatt
(except portrait of Stefan by Maud Séjournant)