open secret

credit - naturalmindfulness

credit – naturalmindfulness

Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.


Elizabeth Lesser is co-founder of the Omega Institute and author of 2004 book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow. In an excerpt titled Open Secret, she writes:

How do we use the forces of a difficult time to help us grow? There are many ways, but the first way, the gateway, is to know that we are not alone in these endeavors. One of the greatest enigmas of human behavior is the way we isolate ourselves from each other.

I am struck, all these years later, by the relevance of her words – especially in the aftershock of last week’s Newtown horror. She goes on to say:

We imagine that we are unique in our eccentricities or failures or longings. And so . . . we feel shame when we stumble and fall. When difficulties come our way, we don’t readily seek out help and compassion because we think others might not understand, or they would judge us harshly, or take advantage of our weakness. And so we hide out, and we miss out.

Rumi addresses this idea as the ‘open secret.’ In her words:

When we don’t share the secret ache in our hearts – the normal bewilderment of being human – it turns into something else. Our pain, and fear, and longing, in the absence of company, become alienation, and envy, and competition.

The irony of hiding the dark side of our humanness is that our secret is not really a secret at all. How can it be when we’re all safeguarding the very same story? That’s why Rumi calls it an Open Secret. It’s almost a joke – a laughable admission that each one of us has a shadow self-a bumbling, bad-tempered twin.

Rumi claims that the moment we acknowledge our troubles, a door opens. An undefended heart shared encourages a second heart to open. And so on. Such important wisdom, as applicable today as ever. Might this be one step toward dialogue, toward breaking down barriers, toward healing??

wholeness is possible


“Wholeness is possible when human qualities, now usually designated as masculine or feminine, are seen as part of the spectrum for everyone.” So writes wise woman Jean Shinoda Bolen. And when you consider that ‘heal’ comes from the same root as ‘whole,’ it really makes a whole lot of sense.

In our culture that works so diligently to divide head from body, body from feeling, human from nature, politics from reality – to pit one against the other, creating a false and compelling sense of hierarchical value . . . I find myself thinking – a LOT – about healing into wholeness. As I also do when, as now, I am holding internal intensity at two ends of a seemingly irreconcilable spectrum.

The other morning I pulled a Motherpeace Tarot card from the deck spread out before me. The four of wands emerged, its golden background highlighting four young women celebrating their rite of passage with joyful abandon around a circle, centered on an altar to life. ‘Each holds a wand, symbolic of the masculine energy being integrated into their lives as they enter adulthood. The symbolism of four is stability, the four directions creating a space where something special can occur.’

I have pulled this card before at times of transition in my work. I can be very goal-oriented when it comes to moving forward with running my business, readily getting caught up in the external details of plans, schedules and deadlines. At the same time, without the centering and balancing awareness of my connection with Earth, her seasons, the four directions and their powers, I would lose both purpose and meaning of the work I’m striving to build. Without centering ground, I would be little more than hot air.

Isn’t it time to heal the divides that keep being hammered at us – or rather, driven between and among us? From where I stand, the only outcome of this trajectory is ever-increasing extremism, fear-mongering and the almost certain destruction of everything truly meaningful. What about the more realistic, sustainable and inclusive concept of integration?

What the world does not need is ego-driven leaders hungry for blind power. Nor does it need the rest of us to sit back and follow blindly as if we had no ability to think for ourselves or contribute to the common weal. What we need is wholeness—within and among us—of clear rational thinking and decisive action guided by compassion, vision and inclusion. We need to grow up past adolescent finger-pointing doings and move into ourselves as whole, integrated beings. How we will get there is through acknowledging the values, needs, hopes and fears we share as people, first and foremost. We are in this together. Isn’t it time we started to act that way?