Transcript from a meeting with James Eaton on 24 June, 2017
“The individual cannot love. When the individual loves, he ceases to be purely individual” D H Lawrence.
Q: One of the things I find difficult or challenging, that brings up a lot of stuff for me, is how to relate to other people and how to have relationships. Because relationships for me are one of the great joys, and one of the great frustrations of my life. How do you have a relationship, any sort of relationship, from that place of awareness? And how can you relate to other people who might not have any idea about any of that, in a way which feels authentic to you? And how can you hold back that anxious need to attach to people, whilst still maintaining some sort of relationship, which I see as necessary for a life which feels full and supported?
James: Great questions. You ask: how can you have a relationship from that place of awareness? I actually find myself asking the exact opposite question: how can we possibly have a relationship not from that ‘place’? It’s extraordinary. I take my hat off to the human race! Because when we believe that we are exclusively a separate self, then essentially we are running on reactivity—almost everything we do is about upholding and protecting our sense of separateness.
When two separate people come together in ‘love’, what tends to happen is that we accentuate each others’ idea of ourselves. It’s like an agreement: I’ll support your idea of you, if you support my idea of me. And so, along with the physical attraction to each other, it’s all lovely and wonderful for a time. But once the honeymoon period starts to fade and we get used to having each other around, then we’ve got two people who start not supporting each others ideas of who they are. That’s when ‘love’ can very quickly turn into hate, frustration and continual arguing—trying to be the one that’s in the right, the one that knows better and so on. It’s a wonder that we manage to hold relationships together at all in the midst of all that.
The reason we can is because, without even knowing it necessarily, this flavour of being, of presence, is always there, always available. There are these moments when suddenly we touch each others hearts, and a vulnerability opens up. Then there’s that shared intimacy and we dissolve one into the other. That’s what real love is: when we are no longer two things.
You then asked: how can you relate to others, particularly if the other person is not interested in awareness, or presence, or any of that? The key to that is vulnerability. If I truly walk my talk, if I truly live as I really am, then I can be vulnerable. This is the wonder about this message. It’s not some cold-hearted, stepping out of life and being this transcendent, ethereal spirit. Yes, that’s an important step along the path—to help dissolve the utter conviction that what you are is located inside your skull, looking out through two eyes; to realise how all of life, including thoughts, feelings and body parts, are appearing to the awareness that you truly are—but then the invitation is to see how that awareness is actually merged with all of life; is immanent. It’s right here; in living, in breathing, in everything. And you are THAT.
So rather than removing yourself from life, you fall into life, fully; you can be utterly vulnerable. And vulnerability is very powerful, because it’s in vulnerability that we start to access all of these beautiful qualities of our being: love, joy, compassion, sincerity, playfulness, sweetness . . . tenderness . . . softness . . . these beautiful qualities that when we’re being a protective me, upholding the sense of self, are simply not available.
And when we’re operating in that way in life, then it’s very magnetic. A conversation is a good analogy for this. If we’re having a conversation, but actually I want to get something from you, then you’ll know it on some level; you’ll feel, “This person is trying to manipulate me”, and so instinctively you’ll start to close down. If however there’s just openness, connection; not for any reason, but because that’s simply our nature—love, openness, sweetness, tenderness; when there’s no sub-text, when nothing is being manipulated or subtly demanded . . .
Q: . . . you’re not required to be anything else . . .
James: . . . you’re not required to be anything else, then what happens? You start to soften and open. So like the conversation analogy, when we ourself are operating from openness, from vulnerability, then whether or not the other knows anything about what we’re exploring here is irrelevant; they’ll feel that welcoming, opening energy and their system responds. Then there’s the possibility of a deeper meeting.
And yes, some people will immediately respond to that invitation, while others will say, “Whoa! That’s too close”. Then maybe, if there’s a willingness, you can go on a very beautiful journey—two people opening together, finding this depth together. Or maybe, if there isn’t a willingness, we may have to accept that the relationship simply isn’t going to work.
And lastly you ask about how you can maintain a relationship without having the anxious need to attach to the other person. This can be so challenging, because there’s such a natural yearning to share love in an intimate relationship with another—like you say, it’s part of what life is about, it’s part of the way we as humans are built—that there can be a tendency to sell ourself for less in order to begin a relationship, or to enable a current relationship to continue. But it’s so important to trust in your own sweetness, your own beauty; that you don’t have to sell yourself for less, ever; that if you shine your natural beauty, your sweetness, your tenderness, it will find its reflection.
What’s coming at the moment, just as we sit here? Any particular thought or feeling? Just try and be as honest as you can.
Q: That those qualities you spoke of are not really there, and that if someone sees that, it wouldn’t be enough for them.
James: Thank you for saying that. Thank you for your honesty. So we can talk about the ideas, we can do the exploring, we can start to get a taste of what it is that we truly are, and then we get down to the level of deeply held beliefs in the mind and body. And the universal, it’s not just in your experience, the universal belief is: “I am not enough”. So if I just be myself and shine my sweetness, it won’t be enough. So I have to pretend, I have to be something, I have to BE enough.
(Q softly cries)
So we’re allowing that belief to be acknowledged, to be listened to . . .
Feel your feet on the floor, bum on the seat, notice the rise and fall of the breath . . . in through the nose . . . slowly out through the mouth . . . Here you are.
Allowing this belief to come up, to speak, to be listened to. It’s as if you, you as awareness, as consciousness, are saying to this split off part of yourself, “Yes, I understand. You believe you’re not enough”, and are simply filling it with love.
It’s the belief that we all take on, because we think we’ve been separated from life, so there must be something wrong with us. But now, in realising that ‘this’ is what we truly are, that ‘this’ was never broken, now we can allow those beliefs to be unveiled, to be revealed, listened to, acknowledged. And just like in everyday life when a child comes to you and says it feels hurt or unworthy, and you comfort it with your loving presence, you’re being that same acknowledging love for that part of yourself that still believes it’s not enough. Not to try and change it, or make it believe otherwise; just to literally be there with it. There it is. (deep breath out)
Q: It’s a relief.
James: Yes, and every time it comes up we just give it more love, more acknowledgment. “Yes, there you are, I understand, I understand”. Until the energy of it is no longer split off, but integrated into being.
Here you are.
You’ve seen it very clearly. There’s the belief, “I am deficient. And I can’t possibly show my deficiency. Nobody will love that. So I need to present to the world some new version of myself that is enough, that is worthy of love”. So we look to the world and wonder, “What does the world want? Oh it wants this. So that’s what I’m going to present; then everyone will love me.”
Other: It’s called Facebook!
James: Facebook yes! (everyone laughs) But that’s interesting, because it’s not the function itself. Facebook could equally be used as a function to present authenticity: “Here I really am, warts n’all! This is my real life; not my artificially sculpted ‘perfect life’,” and so then be a powerful advocate for authenticity. But often it’s a case of—I remember reading this analogy somewhere—everyone presenting their ‘front room’ and hiding their ‘back room’. So we see their front room, and compare it to our back room and we think, “Oh shit, I’ve got to do something here!” So we present our front room. Then they look at our front room and compare it to their back room and they think, “Oh shit, I’ve got to do something here!” (laughter in the room) And round and round we go.
Q: So there’s a day–to-day pressure to keep it up and that’s exhausting!
James: Yes. So actually these things like Facebook and Youtube can be utilized for the opposite purpose: for people to actually stand up and say, “This is me, and I’m not pretending”, and so instead of proliferating the pretending, it encourages authenticity: “Ahh . . . thank you. Permission to be as I am”.
Life is an incredible mirror: the more we pretend, then the more we attract pretence and so our life becomes more and more pretend. When there’s the courageousness to be as we are, to live authentically, then that’s what gets reflected, and the people we find ourselves meeting reflect that same energy, that same quality.
It’s courageous living, especially when we’re young, because there is such a pressure to be like others and to ‘fit in’. My whole life was about feeling that I just don’t fit in—being that piece of the jigsaw that you can never quite find where it goes. And so what do we do? We try to contort ourself into the shape that seems to be required in order to fit in; but that’s incredibly uncomfortable, because we’re not being true to what we are.
And when you’re pretending, you know you’re pretending; so there’s always a fear that, “They might find out! What if they find out?!” When there’s authenticity, it’s powerful. Even if you get it wrong, you just hold your hand up and say, “I got it wrong”. Thank You. Take a bow. Next thing! You know? It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to hide.
So it’s a great question. My experience has been that relationships are really where it’s at if you want to uncover your deepest patterns and self-beliefs. You can go on a beautiful week retreat and realise all kinds of things and . . .
Q: You come back and someone asks you to do the washing-up (laughs)
James: Yes and not only that, “Right, you’ve been off having a laugh for a week, now it’s my turn for a break. Here are the kids. They’re dirty, they need a bath, dinner and bed. Thank you.” (everyone laughing)
That’s the truth of it. That’s when you get to meet what’s still there: frustration, powerlessness, or whatever it is we’re still holding onto. And a relationship that is supportive can really be a crucible for all of that to be unveiled, acknowledged and faced, and so reclaim the energy and expression that was locked up inside those patterns and coping mechanisms.
Q: Yes. Because there can be this idea that I need to sort myself out, I have to be perfect before I can enter a relationship, because otherwise I’ll just give all my shit to you!
James: Ha! Yes. Good luck with being perfect! (laughter in the room)
This is not about being perfect. There’s no goal to reach here. It’s ever deepening, ever widening. There are no goalposts. I think that’s where a lot of this gets confusing. What we truly are can be recognised instantaneously. Everyone in here I’m sure has had that. People call it a ‘glimpse’, and it’s instant and self-evident. But being established in what we truly are is an ongoing process—of emptying out these beliefs and bodily contractions, of seeing them, acknowledging them, of opening deeper and wider. That takes its own sweet time, and doesn’t have to have an end to it.
Q: Thank you