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31 - The Practice of Stillness - Part 5: Boundaries

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Happiness is found in letting go.

And yet, every day I fight to believe and live by that.

The beauty of Jesus' message is that we need not run anywhere, or get anything to be happy, fulfilled, or content. He taught that all those things are always with us and in us to be discovered in concert with God. That is the peace Jesus came to give, rest from the rat-race of self-fulfillment through resting in God.

Do you believe it?

Do you believe it enough to try it?

The experience of stillness for the three Knowing Centers is something like that image I described in our last discussion, of floating above the river of data called reality.

About a month after my breakdown, God gave me a clear picture of where He wanted to take me in my recovery. He gave me two different words. The first was “unshakable”, and the second "nothing jostle or displace" from the Ralph Waldo Emerson poem “Woodnotes II.” What those words spoke to me was that God wanted to teach me a new way of living more grounded in Him. There is a way to live where the tumult and chaos of life can exist without upsetting or unsettling us. This is the place of peace I'm grounded more in.

That doesn’t mean I no longer have fearful thoughts or feelings. It means my experience of that negativity is more like a mesh screen than a sail. Things can flow through me more easily without getting caught inside. In the Gospel of John Jesus prayed this prayer to the Father on our behalf, "my prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" (John 17:15 NIV). That is the goal of stillness, not to calm our outer world, but our inner world.

Think of it like a kind of inner Teflon. It is not the negative energy which really hurts us, but the ways we’ve grounded our identity in the ego self which gives that negative energy a stronger place to register. Remove the ego patches from our mesh-screen soul, and we gain a greater ability to register that energy less intensely. It is in trying to protect ourselves that we get the most hurt.

If I establish my identity from a defensive stance, and say, “nobody is going to do this or that to me,” then I create the opportunity to be offended and upset. I am attempting to determine how I should be treated by the environment I encounter and the people in it. That sound sensible, except the world has no idea who I am and how I want to be treated. In that defensive stance, all I’ve really done is set myself up with some boundaries to be pushed and broken. The world will not perceive the energy of those boundaries, but it will feel the negative energy of my pushback when those boundaries are disturbed.

Stillness entails relinquishing to God the role of establishing and maintaining any ideals for personal boundaries and human dignity.

Jesus very death on a cross was meant as the ultimate example of the kind of peace that comes from surrendering our lives to God. He was murdered by the very world he came to save, and yet, like a sheep led to slaughter, never spoke up in his own defense (1 Peter 2:21-24). Why? Because he knew his life was in God's hands.

True transformation comes in no longer pushing back against others boundaries, and working to get rid of my own unhealthy boundaries. That’s why transformation is from selfishness to selflessness. Not that I surrender to a space where I have no boundaries, but where I have no boundaries which I must establish and defend. Then I become, not a fortress of self-protection isolated from the world and the love of God, but a free-flowing spirit now open to the flow of God's love, also letting it flow through me to others. When I have no self-created boundaries, the boundless energy of God can flow to and through me, as I trust in that energy to establish, sustain, and protect me in a reality of indestructible being that can never be broken or die.

Then I am living in the true essence of God’s being, and mine. Then I become a mesh screen in the midst of all this negative energy, instead of a sail. The full-on assault of everyone else’s established boundaries can crash upon me, and I will not be moved to that same kind of negative energy. Instead, I can be moved to compassion and love, because I see all the harm of those boundaries, and desire to help others become free from them, as I have. Then I can die a thousand deaths every day in my pursuit of helping others get free, feeling all that negative energy, but knowing that it cannot truly hurt me.

This is the energy of God in the universe, the energy of love overcoming hate, healing overcoming pain, by taking on that pain, by absorbing it in order to see us free from it. This is the truth of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.

As we take on the negative energy of others in the world around us, it kills us and then brings us back to life much stronger. With each encounter, as we take on the pain without retaliation, we gain greater strength to endure that pain, and response with love. And this kind of love is what renews the world. Again and again we die through the pain, and are resurrected into new life. That new life is a continuing reconnection with our true self, through new and renewed awareness of ourselves and the world around us.

This is the hope of the Gospel of Jesus; that God does not run from our negative energy or seek to eliminate it by eliminating us out. Instead, He seeks to deliver us from it.

If we think God has come to protect our personal, group, cultural, religious, national, or political boundaries, then we don’t understand just how universal and expansive God is. It is these boundaries Christ came to save us from. They divide and separate us from each other, and from God. They produce the very thing we are using them to protect us from, a fragile identify which actually is capable of death. The degree to which we attach our life to that fragile identity, with all its self-referential boundaries, is the degree to which we will feel the fear and reality of death. The degree to which we are able to let all these go, and relax into the embrace of God, is the degree to which we will know we are held in love’s eternal embrace. Our boundaries will never keep us safe, nor do they keep others from crossing them. They only create invisible lines of offense, anger, fear and pride for others to trip over as they attempt to interact with us.

Imagine meeting someone whom you could not offend? What would be like? That kind of person would be easy to talk to, and comfortable to be around. You would likely feel like you could be yourself, and not need to worry about your boundaries being crossed, or value being diminished. That kind of person would feel like a person and space of peace.

We can be the space of peace in a world where peace is lacking.

That's how we bring peace to the world.

Peace is an internal reality which effects our external reality.

We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all experienced the pain of an oppressive, insensitive world. The instinct is to withdraw, insulate, isolate, and protect. It’s a strong survival instinct within us. We often decide from a very young age to draw these boundaries around ourselves out of fear. We all have child wounds. But, we will never put this world back together from the corners of our castle defenses, waiting for everyone else to come out of hiding and lay down their armor first.

We must admit, our boundaries are not protecting us, they are merely isolating us and the world. We will only come together to the degree that we can drop our defenses and come out into the open, and we will only be able to do that when we can trust that there is a greater space of eternal love that can sustain such a vulnerable move.

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