The Surrender of Limitations
“Craniosacral Therapy is so many different things
to different people at different levels.
At its tenderest it is a journey taken by two or more people
to a level of being where there is no pathology.”
We all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors. If we fully acknowledge that we are able to continually reach higher, to expand further. Only, though if we can avoid hubris and thinking that we have invented or created something. We do not create something, the expression of the universe is constantly expanding and we, starting from the digested standpoint of those shoulders we stand on, express that expansion in a form resonant with the time, place and space, genetic inheritance, personal development and societal influences in which we temporarily exist. We are the universe expressing itself and, in joint practice, we express the universe. Like a kite on its string, we must remain grounded in order to fly to higher reaches. Daoists talk about the human being as being a bridge between Heaven and Earth – perhaps kite string implies a similar concept.
To realize this we must surrender much or all of that impermanent abstraction that we call me. That separated and ego-ic me that has to make the revelation of the Universe match its level of comprehension. Creation (that is to say the new) takes place when the pro-activity of total presence replaces, albeit momentarily, the reactivity of already knowing.
To go to the deepest or highest levels we must surrender even the form of our modules and methods and stand on the shoulders of our teachers and reach higher. This is the greatest respect we can give them for their work with us. To limit the expansion of those forms is to invite stasis and death.
Sutherland perceived rhythms in the body which he called tides. The long tide, 150 years ago, or thereabouts, was just about at the limit of palpability. Now, first year students, or even people who are not students at all, drop straight away, in some cases, into what others with experience of these things, structures, recognise as the long tide. It was always thus. The model of Morphic Resonance, that Rupert Sheldrake proposes is very clear, in my view, on this point. Others have talked about what they have called Universal Intelligence.
Equally clear, though that does not make it the Truth, is that a route to higher – and I did not, and will never, say better – levels, could be a re-empowerment of the Feminine principle. We do not want to get rid of the Masculine principle, we could not as it would take absolute Masculine to get rid of it and that makes no sense at all.…We do perhaps need a little of the other face of Masculine, the face, or better, side, that does not need to get rid of things that detract from its dominance. Perhaps this side, a more useful one, could provide the motivation for, and the conditions in which, the Feminine can flourish again. The end of suffering will be the two principles in a joint practice from equality and difference. There must be both. I do think there is a place for the masculine to defend the feminine for her self (particularly in the 21st century where she has been so brutally subjugated), rather than be continually aggrandising him self
Perhaps it must always be so that the masculine pushes out into new territory or recovers old territory and the feminine receives and conserves in due course.
I would really love that we could go straight to sitting with the feminine and just witness what arose from that without judgment of any kind. The impulse to do that will be masculine. In whomever it arises.
If we could learn more fully to listen ( not tell ), to hear and receive, without judgment, analysis and remedy, the story in its fullness might get more fully told.
The healing is in the hearing and in deep listening there is deep healing. The story is actually infinite and the coming into full wholeness is dependent on listening from the infinite core of one’s being, Intelligence itself, not the limitation of the personal Intellect. Let us call that place the heart.
I am inspired by the Chinese ideogram for to listen which looks like this:
It has five components; Ear – this is obvious. Eye – implying observation. We observe, probably mostly, with our eyes.. You – not me, for a change. I am as fully as possible with you, not my thoughts about you, or what I am going to say when you stop talking. Undivided attention,- this is very rare and I speak for myself as well. From the heart – the centre of wisdom, not from the brain, the centre of intellect.
I will just mention that intellect (nous Gr.) in its roots is Masculine whereas Sophia, wisdom in Greek, is Feminine.
Let us listen to the body where all of these reside. All of our perceptive faculties are in the body, not “out there” somewhere. And having listened, do nothing other that listen some more to a deeper revelation of the story that is being heard, perhaps for the first time. Heard by the practitioner for the first time, yes of course, but in may cases heard for the first time by the client who has buried the story so deep. That revelation, that coming into awareness is magnificently empowering and there is no telling the client what to do. The work does the work Intelligence speaks. Be still and know!
The message I read into the lives of all the very great teachers, is that they were fully embodied.
Craniosacral Therapy is a beautiful model for approaching the body in a manner appropriate to the twenty-first century in a safe and acceptable way, and just listening to the unfolding of its story. Just listen to it, not fix it, until that level of being is revealed where there is no pathology and the suffering has not come into form. There may be touch or not but credibility probably demands that we listen to the body though physical contact Especially if we indicate that we are a bodyworker – otherwise what does Craniosacral mean?
The journey is into the heart, a journey with no conclusion only an expanding awareness of our true nature.
The monumental leap that has to be taken, is not to believe this but to trust! Just trust and listen.
That is my vision for the state of love called CST.
Now let us expand a little on how this conceptual outline is applied in the work, it is a story that never ends. It is your life; take part in it…
The Teaching not the Teacher is a concept that has been dear to me for a long time:-
This model arises partly out of my search for meaning in my own Insecurity, a substantial gold mine of material; and partly out of interaction with several hundreds of students with whom, over the last fifteen years or so, I have shared and explored my Insecurity and theirs.
About forty years ago, on the way out of a mid-life crisis, which is another story but also compost, I started becoming a therapist. Training and then practicing, first as a counsellor/psychotherapist, then an acupuncturist, then a craniosacral therapist, I was moving gradually into the body, discovering en route that the apparently surface levels of being contained the inner and that whatever is innermost is not separate from the external form.
I found that the Cartesian mind/body split (as I understand Descartes) stood up and was valid only from the point of view of an already split off or disembodied intellect. I have experienced that truths of so many kinds are true in one context and then not necessarily true in anther context. This has been a big one for me and has probably made me a little more tolerant. “If only I had known when I was twenty what I know now at eighty-odd!” is an expression of that thought.
After tentative toe-dipping in the ocean of experience called teaching, quite happily for several years advertising advanced courses in craniosacral therapy for practitioners, it gradually dawned, first on my students, I think, that I was not teaching techniques in anything. What was arising however, in this joint practice; for that is what it had become; was as exploration of the embodiment of Spirit.
Slowly again, it became apparent that people needed no particular occupational label to be able to do this work; just the yearning to grow. A list of current students would embrace most occupations that you can think of; some apparently, most unlikely. But then you see, I don’t teach occupations, I walk the path with people, as best I can.
In recent years, I have worked with a group of very senior lawyers mediating in horrific sex abuse litigations, doctors and nurses on how to be with the dying and in this field am about to embark on some research projects in Spanish teaching hospitals. I hope one day do extend the research to working with Alzheimer’s in early and mid-level advancement and most recently have been working with large numbers of Family Constellation therapists, particularly trainers, on introducing a level of embodied spirituality into their work, beyond the reaches of knowing and the intellect. This has been very popular just recently in two Spanish speaking countries in Latin America and next year will extend to four more. I also made some very good friends of the Abbot and friars of a Cistercian Monastery who resonated very well with the work They have asked me to return and walk the path together.
We have discovered that transformation comes, not from engaging Insecurity in a war, that only serves to feed it the energy of attention but rather, from accepting it as a blessing that keeps us forever in the intimate and eternal present. Only in the present can we be truly proactive: to be anything other than in the present means to be re-active. To be constantly in the present is to be truly alive.
About twenty years ago, I heard from Franklyn a saying of William Sutherland, a founder of Osteopathy and a great visionary, certainly well before his time, who said, when discussing various rhythms in the body, not associated with the medically accepted rhythms of heart and lungs but nevertheless palpable, “you can rely upon the tide.” Once I had taken on board what I thought he meant by this seemingly innocuous statement, I was hooked and have spent the last fifteen or twenty or so years, studying just these six words and the implications of the existence of Intelligence, not subject to the Intellect. I continue, now with others, to work with these implications. Not just within the field of bodywork-of one kind or another- but extended to life, as we live it.
In my two books I have expanded on these points touched on above and have explored how we can make the conclusions relevant. There must inevitably be some theory, there needs to be a lot of practice and out of this continuing insecurity, continuing unknowing, Intelligence itself, uninhibited by the limitations of the personal intellect, does the work; whatever that is! You are invited, whatever modality you employ to join this concept to your work and to surrender, at least in part, some of the undigested data and re-activity that we all identify with, in return for a revealed truth. Only true because it is embodied and does not remain just a concept of the Intellect.
What I, or anyone else cannot do is tell you how you should be! I cannot possibly know that and a “how to do” primer in Spirituality would be an impertinence. What I hope this little structure will do, is serve as a mirror in which you may see resonance of your own expression of Being and from reflecting on the struggles we encounter in ourselves, facilitate a greater level of freedom for others Perhaps find a way of letting go of some of the chains that we, all of us, carry. My own experience tells me that a degree of immersion in and surrender to what comes up from within, rather than an analysis of the words, is what is required.
There is no success or failure, there are no silver cups or bonuses, there is only an expansion of awareness. The prize, perhaps the surprise, is to discover the clarity of who you really are and this is beyond price. It certainly passes understanding.
Please join me in this exploration. I believe it to be worthwhile. I hope you will find it so.
Spirituality, like the Dao, is a difficult subject to address.
In both cases, anything you can say about it is really not worth saying as what is said will be words about something, not the experience itself, and will, therefore, be a concept. A concept is about a truth and is not, and never can be, the experience of Truth.
Stillness, Empty Chair, Teaching not the Teacher, Enlightenment and, and, and, are all grand concepts and how ever long I go on and on, describing them, talking about them, reading about them, they remain concepts until they become experience. The implications of that are the whole drive of this work.
How then, do we obtain the experience? Not, evidently, by thinking harder; nor, I suggest by exercises, prostrations, or repetitions of a mantra. These may well lead to a more disciplined and clearer, mind and body, but not the truth as experience!
And yet the Truth is there, it always has been and always will be; how could that not be so? Perhaps, as I suggest it, Spirit, Dao, Emptiness – Intelligence might be another word- are the very core of our being and that what is required is not an acquisition but rather a surrender of that which keeps us out of touch. What keeps us out of touch is simply this, the separation from source which we know as personal intellect or ego. That fiercely defended construct, called me!
It is time we moved on from Descartes. Not to reject his enormous contribution to Western thought but towards a more integrated Intelligence than the separated Intellect allows.
There is perhaps a form of spiral operating. First there was blind intelligence, then there was blinkered and limited Intellect, now there may be awakened and conscious Intelligence.
Some Buddhist thinkers talk about the Maitreya – the Buddha yet to come – as being a raising of collective awareness rather than being a single enlightened being, whether male or female; this has certain resonances with the Christian picture of the next and last coming-into-form of the Christ. In either case, if consciousness raises sufficiently then what need for further manifestations of form?
Another parallel between the two great traditions is in embodiment. Jesus was/is the incarnation into human form, of God through the breath of the Spirit. The Buddha taught that the highest form of Being was contained in “this fathom-long body.”
And yet, and yet, the dogmatic structures formed around the teachings of both teachers, seem to resolutely repeat concepts and construct shibboleths, rather than listen to the revelation of those eternal truths as they express themselves in the body. The body that is always there, in so many different forms. We do not have to intellectualise or rationalise the form that Intelligence takes. We can of course, but that will be to limit by definition or naming. The other way would be to just watch, in awe, the expression of the synergy of all forms responding to THE Intelligence, without the limitations of Intellect.
This, as I see it, would be an expression of the Maitreya, on the one hand and a completion of the Human Being on the other, perhaps not co-incidentally.
Perhaps this is what could lie behind the way we approach the subject of Spirit-; as a revelation in the body and from the body.
I find it so satisfactory that there is nothing here, in any material sense, to be gained, or acquired. No-one is going to control or monopolise something. The Truth is there, only when we surrender separateness. It is sort of strange – or perfectly obvious – that the advances in technology, particularly in the field of communications, manage at the same time to make the Maitreya more possible and less likely!
What I am saying in a roundabout way, is that there are many teachers out there on these subjects. Some very good and honest Spiritual Teachers, some beautiful and honest books and we could say, somewhat paradoxically, when we read about some of the more acquisitive behaviour of many people, that more words are being written just now than at any other time, on Spiritual subjects.
Yet, and this is what I and some others are trying to address; where is the Teacher/book that is equating Spirituality with the revelations of the physical body, rather than intellectual conceptualisations about it. Many people work with the body in order to train it and the mind.
What I would like to propose is that the body IS the experience. Every possible thought, feeling, sensation or intuition – direct knowledge – that we have ever had , or will have, is right here, as a product of this body.
My past, my present and my future are incarnate experiences. In as much as there is reality or separate existence in that thing I call ME, it is as witness of all phenomena, constantly changing, not in the identification with these comings into form.
It has been a formidable struggle, but I am finally bound to the conclusion that the forms it witnesses are not separable. If there is an object, be it thought, feeling etc, then there has to be a subject. For there to be a subject, there has to be an object ! The startling result of that is that life, and all its forms, really is a joint practice. This is nothing new, only the realisation of it is, for me.
Taking that one stage further, the Creator and the Creation are one and the awareness of that is in the body. I am that! Is that my permanent experience? No. Is it the truth, yes.
Most of the time the experience of separation is jealously guarded by that concept called
Ego, as though its life depends on it. It does !
In this work we try to surrender the inevitably impermanent structure, me, which separates, to the source of that me. This source I describe as Intelligence, there are many other words for it. What may be found in that surrender is, in as much as there is any thing, is Love –
Who I Really Am
No beginning, only Process.
The Spirit reincarnates.
Birth and Life
The meeting of the unfolding and the experience.
Layer upon layer of delusion.
I have become I and forgotten.
Yesterday was and tomorrow will be-or so it seems.
A tide there is,
An ocean then.
Beneath the waves,
There is only still.
And I remember who I am.
The Ocean stirs,
There is only process.
What I am trying to say here is that work at a deep level, the level which we are calling the level of the Spirit is an exercise in coming from a very deep place in our Being not an exercise in refining what we do with greater and greater anatomical precision..
We do not do this level of work with the other – let us call him or her, the client – it is quite simply the revealed outcome of the synergy created in the relationship that does the work.
Let me break this sentence down and explain what I mean.
Relationship, at this level, is what is there when that which keeps us separate: the personal intellect, the personal ego, and perhaps, the individual and personal soul, are surrendered. What is left is the communality of Being, that is Spirit.
Revelation is the arising (and falling) of forms, phenomena of whatever sort, out of the immanent emptiness of presence, the eternal present, of the now.
To let go of that which keeps us separate and approach the client from that place means that we touch the client at that level in her, whether or not that is held in her, or our, consciousness. A synergy arises.
Synergy:- when two elements approach each other in such a way that the scope of what they can achieve together far surpasses what they could achieve separately, they are acting with SYNERGY. Synergy in this case takes the effectiveness of cooperation beyond normal expectations. Chambers Dictionary.
The barrier to this level of work is that which I have described in the explanation of relationship, above. It is very scary to surrender our sense of separateness; it is so well entrenched that we have come to believe that our life experience, largely undigested is who we actually are. In reality, that person, that image, that I have come to think of as me, is nothing but a limited contraction of the arising and falling of essence into form, it is we could say a reflection of conditions
To be aware of who I really am, involves me in an examination of the assumptions that are laid out in the first stanza, of the poem I read just now.
The second stanza talks of the descent into the unknown, the hidden depths of the unconscious, layer by layer. The final two lines treat of the revelation that the first arising from the Stillness at the utmost depth is awareness. Just awareness itself with no form yet; no separation between form and formless. Emptiness, in my book is not nothing, there is no nothing, just unformed immanence.
To get back to the title we started with, The Surrender of Limitations, what I am proposing is the following ; that whatever work we do has many levels. One level of work is not better than another, it is merely an expression of what is appropriate to the conditions. The so-called deeper or Spiritual levels of work are not subject to or to be accessed by the intellect. The route to Spiritual work is surrender of the personal and limiting intellect to the infinite creative potential of Intelligence. The magic arises from trust, not as a concept that we talk about and pay lip service to but a complete falling, or even jumping off the cliff. The work will do the work. Just trust, there are no guarantees and the commitment is total!
I totally trust the workings of Intelligence that is beyond my understanding and experience that the door that has to be opened to the relief of suffering, is not a revisiting of the original trauma, which we can only do conceptually, not actually, but a deepening to a level of being that is interior to the coming into form of the pathology. The relativity of time and space, there become irrelevant and the door is open to a new formation without necessarily re-creating the backpack of trauma. This is the decent into the cave of the minotaurs, the voyage of the Argonaut and it takes place right here and now in a deep joint practice facilitated by presence in stillness. It is rebirth not reincarnation. This is my standing on the shoulders of my teachers and mentors to whom I am eternally grateful, for their support. I propose it as a way forward.
I am afraid that this has been a speech, I do not like making speeches very much as inevitably the content comes from another time, place and space. I prefer being present in conversation that addresses whatever is in this room, at this time, right now. I propose, therefore to invite questions from anyone on anything that arises from these words and make some sort of relationship at a more direct level and then the speech will have served as a framework.
Perhaps it might be useful if I gave a small demonstration of doing nothing with a client in a therapeutic model, if anyone is brave enough to volunteer. Last time I did this right here in Sitges, there was an admonitory call from the back of the room, “that’s not true”, it said “you don’t do nothing.” “Thank you darling,” I said politely, It was my wife Barbara, “what do I do?”? “You trust” she replied. (Introduce)
Let us sum up and close like this;
what needs real attention is where we are coming from when we do what we do. I give this precedence over the techniques of the form of what we are doing. This is certainly not the intellectual or scientific approach; it demands continuing awareness, in stillness to what is revealing itself right now, it does not allow for blanking out or going off somewhere. It involves continuing beginner’s mind.
In the relationship between practitioner and patient; teacher and student, the ever broadening awareness that unfolds, is not an awareness of facts for analysis but, rather, an embodying of what is there, deepening by progressive, though not necessarily equal steps, to a level of being that is untraumatised. I hold this to be experientially true. And I am completely unable to classify or explain what has happened. If I could, I should have objectivised and limited the awakening. To objectivise must, surely, mean to limit. But the work is not an object, any more than is the student/client an object, there is only a happening, a revelation, movement, change, which is the nature of all things, without there being any separation between the experience and the experiencer. The flowers bloom. The flowers die. The seeds fall. The end is the beginning. The beginning and the end are not separate, they are both right here.
That is mindfulness.
This is my method; I hope it has a little wisdom. It is yours.
I love you all