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a conversation with David Truman

Most people would agree that the pot at the end of the enlightenment rainbow is universal love. So why wait? Better to grab a bit of that treasure NOW -- and use it to fund and power our cosmic journey through life. For most of us, the social sphere in which we find ourselves is THE most appropriate place for our spiritual practice.

Q: Often my two year old son is such a drain. I feel like he's stealing my energy. I know that is not true, but I feel that way a lot. The burden gets so overwhelming that I sometimes just want to run away -- and I feel guilty about that.

David: My dear woman, I see that you are suffering from a case of the child-rearing blues. There's no doubt that raising a child can be tiring work. And of course rest is necessary when you've worked hard.

On the other hand, when service is done in a happy spirit, serving others is HIGHLY uplifting and invigorating, isn't it? But the fastest way to exhaust ourselves is by living and serving in a state of inner conflict. So if you want MORE energy and resilience, try to weed out the psychological components of your exhaustion.

Fear of being
depleted is the
number one cause
of exhaustion.

I grant you, many people find being with others difficult. Without a doubt, their experience matches their expectation. Fear of being depleted is the number one cause of exhaustion. Our fearful orientation CREATES unnecessary hardships, and DOUBLES the unavoidable ones.

If you are afraid that you will be drained by being with other people, you certainly will be. As you spend more and more time with other people, you will begin to feel more and more anxious. Eventually the inner feeling of stress builds up until it comes to a head. Finally you must run away. You feel you must run for your life!

Q: But when we go away, aren't we rejuvenated?

David: Yes, sometimes we are. But when our motivation is running away, getting away from it all is not SIMPLY rejuvenating. It becomes a time to mope and nurse the self-inflicted wounds from having been negative and conflicted about being with people. THAT kind of vacation, though it may provide some relief, isn't half as relaxing as a vacation that starts on a positive note.

Q: If I'm experiencing an inner conflict, what's the conflict about?


Inner conflict about relating comes from
our presumption of separateness.

David: It's quite simple. You feel that interacting with others is contrary to your own well-being. You think that in the social experience, you are being drained or diluted or scattered. That conviction arises from your presumption of SEPARATENESS. You don't think you're THERE -- where the people are; you think you're HERE, getting sucked out of yourself. So you conceive a need for solitude in which to gather yourself back together. You feel that taking time out to regain your center would better equip you to re-enter this trial.

Q: Well, isn't that reasonable?

David: It is reasonable to take a break from an overly stressful situation. But when the presumption of separation is contributing to the stress, withdrawing only makes things worse.

For many people, the more they "get away from it all," the more disturbed they feel.

We say we "need our space," and so we do something completely peaceful. Maybe we take a bubble bath, or read a book. That tranquility is supposed to allow us to recover from the stresses of our day. But watch what happens next. For many people, the more space they get, the more asocial, eccentric, low energy, depressed, and disturbed they become. The deterioration may be noticeable only in extreme cases, but it can happen even when people take their space in a relatively benign and unreactive way.

The paradox of "getting away from it all" is that after you have "rejuvenated" yourself, you actually feel a bit more apprehensive about going back into the world. Why is that? You may explain the fearful feeling by telling yourself the bubble bath was so great, it showed you how harsh the world really is. But most likely, the mood of fear generated in that bubble bath -- the feeling of having become a more separated being in your heart -- was what weakened you.

Q: Yuck! If withdrawal feels that bad, why am I so attracted to having my space?

David: At times when your ego feels vulnerable, even something that feels bad might look comparatively good. Your self-concept is driving all this.


The more separate
you believe you are,
the more vulnerable you feel.

The ego is a self-concept of smallness. The ego tells us that who we are is small, separate, and vulnerable -- and we accept the idea. That's our first mistake. The smaller a thing is in this world, the more vulnerable it is. So if you BELIEVE you are one small separated being, you've suddenly made yourself maximally vulnerable.

Ego claims that social interaction is spiritually destabilizing. But it is the ego that is threatened by relationship.

If we buy the ego's argument, we will seek to become "safe," "centered," or "invulnerable" by withdrawing. The ego tells you that participation in outward activities with other beings drags you off your spiritual center. But in reality, by interacting with others you may just be moving off your ego center. Social experience expands consciousness, but it threatens and disturbs the ego -- and makes the ego desperate to withdraw and regroup.

Once we have withdrawn, we may be afraid to reconnect with others. We may even reach a point where we don't want to open the bathroom door and venture out of that womb-like seclusion anymore. We wish we could just stay in there forever! Such is ego magic.

Q: What a vicious circle! What can I do to break it?

David: Remember that separation is only a notion; it is not true. What you are reacting to -- the perception of being diluted or sucked out of yourself -- really isn't happening. Be more willing to recognize the identity between yourself and other beings. You'll start to notice that you are not like an orange, so sweet but so easily squeezed out. You are much more like the air; you are already everywhere.

See the truth that you and others are ALREADY together. Then being together is no longer felt to be a conflict. Instead, it feeds you, it strengthens you. Your self sense is bigger; you have a broader base. The broader your base, the less your little self quakes, and the more invulnerable you really become -- INVULNERABLE in the positive sense of the word, that is.


"What you call WITHOUT, I call WITHIN. I go without whenever I'm tired; then maybe I'm strong enough to stand another bout of being by myself."

It really comes down to where the source of happiness is. Does it come from within? Or does it come from what we now call "without," but we don't understand? Being is EVERYWHERE. What you call WITHOUT, I call WITHIN. And I go to it whenever I'm tired, whenever my nerves are on edge; whenever I feel separated and difficult, I go to WITHOUT and it fixes me. And then maybe I'm strong enough to stand another bout of being by myself.

Dinari realizes we need each other

When I regroup, I go out to all the people -- that is my regrouping. I am completely happy to know that you are my salvation, and in fact, myself. It is not negative dependency, it is a relief. When I withdraw, I feel the pain of separation immediately. I don't have any further illusions about how separation feels, and I don't complicate it with a thought that it feels good, even when it doesn't feel good. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy solitude, but not separation.

Q: Does awareness like yours occur all at once or gradually?

David: It could happen either way, but it doesn't matter. It only matters that it happens. It is the essential goal of all spiritual and psychological processes to turn out from a contracted condition of awareness into a larger awareness. This happens as the being surrenders into the expanded condition and becomes freely aware, freely attentive, and freely communicative. Awareness expands gradually throughout all evolution in general. And it happens much more rapidly once the person becomes willing to share this subtle experience of spiritual evolution with other people.

Q: Wow, I never thought spiritual life had to do with other people. I've always considered it to be some kind of inner experience.


A relational, communicative,
loving life IS
a form of expanded consciousness.

David: You are finally beginning to realize what expanded consciousness MEANS, Grasshopper! When you finally become willing to live an essentially relational, communicative, loving lifestyle with other people, you have solved the problem of feeling stuck, alienated, and unloved. And you are at the threshold of what is truly called spiritual life.

Q: Can you give me some practical instructions?

David: Remember the truth! Remember that your son's outward actions do not burden you half as much as your negative reaction to them. Remember that your tendency to collapse inward has been "doing you in." With that in mind, release your inner conflict.

When you stop reacting against life, you will be amazed how much more energy and free attention you have. Then you will recognize your unity with other people. You will have sympathy and compassion for all these other people -- including your son! You will experience more of yourself in him, and more of him in you.

The path to freedom starts with disciplining the tendency to withdraw.

The immediate thing that confronts us is what I call the relational condition -- other people in relation to ourselves. The path to freedom starts with disciplining the tendency to withdraw and to want to exclude ourselves from other people -- like someone at a dance who doesn't want to dance. We become aware of our larger self when our attention isn't concentrated on our own fears and what it all means to our little self.


Conventional spirituality seeks to escape the problems of life; true spirituality integrates with life at all levels.

This is where the relatively esoteric spiritual process begins -- the part that most people don't get into. It isn't even known in the average "spiritual" group. Conventional spirituality is about trying to get out of the world, trying to get away from the problems of human life -- including the problems of loving. True spirituality fully integrates with life at all levels.

The true spiritual process is about expanding the consciousness to, through, and beyond manifest things. As our awareness frees up, we find that we are expanded beyond our own body and beyond ALL the things that appear. Consciousness moves in a cosmic dimension which extends through the floor, through the ceiling, through the walls, through the people, into Space.

Loving is the real way
to "be IN the world
but not OF it."

Your expanded consciousness, your real attention and awareness, is Divine love. Divine love is a complete integration of the body into one gesture. In love, you are not only socially manifested as caring, but you are spiritually manifested as transcendental awareness. This is the real meaning of "being IN the world but not OF it."

Love in every place at all times

It's every person's birthright to realize love and spirituality in every place, at all times -- with no dilemma. No one wants to feel that "my social relationships are an obstruction to my spirituality," or "my spirituality is an obstruction to my social relationships." That dilemma is resolved in the being who strives for greater integration. You WILL achieve it -- if you insist.

by David Truman

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