Jeff Foster is a refreshing new luminary and author we recommend to our readers. He studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University and after years of depression and illness, and had a spiritual awakening in his mid-twenties. Candid, thoughtful, and humorous, he is deeply compassionate toward those searching for a way out of suffering. He inspires people to stop trying to “do” acceptance, and start falling in love with “what has already been allowed.”
I had the opportunity to hear Jeff Foster speak at last year’s Wake Up Festival, and his talks were like an orchestra of sensations for the ears to process — to take in his direct and uncompromising message, which comes broken up with his funny laugh, and the too long pauses, which you later realize are a gift, allowing you the time to inhale and exhale – and to allow his words to go straight to your heart to feel their truth. If you ever have the chance to hear him live, please go! And if you are in Southern California, he will be holding a day-long retreat at Byron Katie’s “Center for the Work” in Ojai, on Saturday July 19. (click link for more info.)
Here are seven favorite passages from his book The Deepest Acceptance.
1) Since every wave in the ocean is ‘made of’ the ocean itself, since it has the same ‘substance’ as the ocean, pushing away a wave of yourself – a thought, a sensation, a feeling, a sound – numbing yourself to it, rejecting it, denying it, trying to escape it – is equivalent to pushing away the entire essence of the ocean. Pushing away a moment of sadness, or pain, or doubt, or fear, or joy, or delight, is the same as pushing away all of life. Even the smallest wave, in essence, is as vast as the ocean – there are no insignificant thoughts or feelings, no ‘ordinary’ experiences, no moments unworthy of kind attention. All is consciousness – or if you prefer, all is God – beyond all our limited and outdated ideas of what those words mean. Even the smallest wave is sacred, here in the vast open space that you are. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me”, and perhaps he was talking about You.
2) In a sense, you have already accepted the present moment, exactly as it is. What you are has already said YES to these thoughts, these sensations, these sounds, these feelings – otherwise they would not be appearing like this. The floodgates are open – this moment has already been allowed in, in its totality.
3) We eventually realise that our partners, jobs, religions, achievements, possessions, won’t make us happy. Not permanently anyway, not the kind of ever-present happiness we truly seek.
This is dis-illusionment. The breaking-up of illusions. It manifests as anxiety, depression, mid-life crises.
And disillusionment can be a wonderful thing. For contained within its sacred core is an invitation to go beyond all those comforts and pleasures that never really delivered what they promised, and rediscover That Which Never Changes – our true nature, our true content-ment prior to the external content of our lives.
When you realize that nothing, no “thing”, ever has the power to make you permanently happy, you receive a deeper invitation: to realise that nothing, the no-thing that you are, IS the source of true happiness.
Nothing can make you happy – and that is the reason for joy.
4) Without the label ‘fear’, what is fear? Without the label ‘sadness’, what is sadness?
Without the label ‘anger’, what is anger?
Instead of calling it ‘fear’ or ‘anger’ or ‘sadness’, drop that heavy, second-hand label, pregnant with judgement and thousands of years of karma, and directly contact, first-hand, this raw, present-moment sensation in the stomach, the chest, the neck. Allow the sensation to burn, tingle, flutter, move, however intense it is. Allow it to live, to express, to be here, just for now. Contact the miracle of life in its raw state, before the layers of words and the play of opposites. Feel the vibrantly alive energy of what’s here, without the labelling. Feel the life in it. Can you see, this is not AGAINST life – this IS life?
Perhaps it’s not what you think it is.
5) Pain is the memory of pain. Sadness is the memory of sadness. Fear is the memory of fear. Without the dualistic labels, which are memory, do we really know what we are at war with? Understand this, and you understand everything.
6) What is success anyway? It is not how much money there is in your bank account – we know that now. It is not a list of achievements and awards and recognition, it is not the string of letters after your name and the certificates on your wall, it is not how many customers or followers you have, it is the fire in your belly, is it what pours naturally out of your heart in the moment, not what pours into your pockets in the future, it is absolute alignment with life, with who and what you are, it is doing what you love and loving what you do, loving it so much that you have no choice but to allow it to be done, loving it so much that the worldly rewards are secondary, even if they come flowing in abundance. Be absolutely aligned with what and who you are, and live out of that alignment, and you will know true prosperity, as you did when you were young and had not yet learned how to conform or fear failure.
7) What happens when, just for a moment, we stay with our pain, our fear, our doubt, our discomfort, our grief, our broken heart, even our numbness, without trying to change it, or fix it, or numb ourselves to it, or get rid of it in any way? What happens when, even when we feel like leaving, abandoning the moment for the promise of a future salvation, we stay, sitting with the raw, unfiltered, boundlessly alive life-energy that is simply trying to express right now? What happens when, just for a moment, despite all urges to the contrary, we don’t “do” anything about our discomfort or grief, we drop all tricks and tactics and clever manipulations, and instead, begin to deeply acknowledge what is here, honouring it, listening to its deeper call, sinking into the mystery of it? What happens when we make the radical commitment to never turn away from this moment, as it dances in emptiness?
In reality, we are only ever given a moment of pain, and never more, although thought tries to project the pain into time, creating the story of “my past and future pain”, moving into the epic movie of “my lifelong struggle with pain”. But life itself is only ever a moment, and we are always spared from time itself. Can we meet the raw life energy as it arises right now? That is the question. And who meets life? Is there anyone here separate from life in the first place? Is there any choice in the matter? Is there not just intimacy with all experience? Is the ultimate meeting not already happening? Am I not, as the ocean of consciousness, already totally inseparable from the waves of myself, the thoughts, sensations and feelings? Am I not already fully committed to these children of myself, these beloved expressions of my own blood and guts? Is this not an ancient devotion?
And so, it’s not so much that we need to make a commitment to fearlessly contact our embodied experience. It’s more a case of remembering this ancient promise that we already are. In the depths of our being, we are already fully devoted to being here. It is when we forget this primal commitment that we are, that we suffer and seek and long to return home.
“Turn towards me”, our grief whispers. “Just for a moment. Do not be afraid. I am made of you.”
“But I don’t know how to turn”, we reply.
“Then I shall turn towards you. Do not be afraid.”
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