From Shame to Joy

Sitting in Spike’s, a local coffee shop this morning, looking out the rain falling and feeding the earth what it needs. Such a deep feeling of love, appreciation, joy suffusing my entire being. Is it possible to distinguish between appreciation, love and joy? I’m not so sure any more. I used to be able, when they were more intellectual concepts rather than embodied. Now they seem to all be the same, an overall radiating laminar flow of energy through the core and out. Are they all aspects of something larger then, some other concept that includes these and others like wonder? I believe this is resonating in my natural frequency, fully harmonious.

This morning I danced in the shower, naked, free, deeply happy and joyous. I imagined while dancing, someone – anyone else, any other human – walking in to the bathroom, andknowing without shadow of a doubt, that I would have just continued to dance, smiled at this other human, and offered an implicit invitation but no requirement to join. Previously shame, embarrassment, would have been so strong, prevalent overwhelmingly so, that instead my actions would have been to cover up, to stop dancing, stop being happy. Not a single thread, not even an echo of this exists any more.

So, how did I get here? What are the steps I took to get rid of shame. Well, it is difficult to summarize years of exploration, study and practice into a few words. But, if I am to do so, how it happened is that I came to understand the Shambhala concept of basic goodness, as taught by one of the most amazing humans to ever exist, Chogyam Trungpa. To know this intellectually vs knowing this in an embodied fashion, an embodied experience, as I came to, makes all the difference.  This fundamental concept of basic goodness is the driving force behind my radical dissolution of shame and all related blockages. Through a pairing of study and practice of this concept through meditation, and direct experience of it during deep shamanic medicine journeys, I came to actually see and realize “my” basic goodness. I put “my” in quotes since it is fundamental, not belonging to me in particular, but I am of it, from it, it is of me. 

There is a difference between being shown evidence for something existing – the effects it has, or testimony from witnesses that claim to have seen it – and seeing or directly experiencing the thing itself. All my life I had witnesses that told me of my goodness, and constantly sought myself to create or find evidence for my goodness. People would tell me I’m nice, handsome, a good friend, funny, smart, kind, compassionate. I didn’t believe a single word of it. At times there were little openings when the words could come through the massive one way walls of perspex I had constructed between me and the world. But there was no fertile ground for those words to land on, to germinate and sprout and grow into anything of substance. They were seeds blowing in a tornado. This external evidence was fundamentally flawed in my weighing of the facts. It just did not jibe with my experience. And so something was wrong. The people saying these untruths must have an agenda, for lying – conscious or unconscious. I didn’t know what was wrong, why they were lying, because clearly they didn’t *know* they were lying. They seemed genuine in telling me that I was a nice person. But they clearly were in fact lying, because what they were saying disagreed fundamentally with my internal landscape. In my experience, my internal ground, my earth was made of soil. These people, my friends and strangers alike, were all telling me that my earth was actually made of cheese. I know on my inside that they however were lying, a strong word. Somehow they clearly and fundamentally believe and see that internal earth is made of cheese, they are saying what they know to be true. But they were wrong. Something was fundamentally wrong with the entire situation. I was open to the intellectual idea that earth is made of cheese – in this analogy that I am not wrong for existing, that I perhaps might be kind or good, but it’s not my experience. I spent years – decades actually – living in this fundamentally disjoint experience, where everyone’s description of me disagreed fundamentally with my direct experience.

Enter the concept of basic goodness. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, an impossibly deep and unknowable being, teaches that we are all basically good. This, my friends, makes all the difference IF we can truly, deeply, fundamentally accept it. It is the simplest and perhaps hardest truth for humans to actually accept into our fabric of existence. 

What does Basic Goodness mean? It can defy a straightforward explanation, it is a very deep concept that is deceptively simple but also needs to be absorbed into one’s being in a layer by layer fashion, at least that is my experience. Here is part of a description of it, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche himself, in his seminal text “Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior”:

Every human being has a basic nature of goodness, which is undiluted and unconfused. That goodness contains tremendous gentleness and appreciation. As human beings we can make love. We can stroke someone with a gentle touch; we can kiss someone with gentle understanding. We can appreciate beauty. We can appreciate the best of this world. We can appreciate the yellowness of yellow, the redness of red, the greenness of green, the purpleness of purple. Our experience is real. And when we appreciate reality, it can actually work on us. We may have to get up in the morning after only a few hours’ sleep, but if we look out the window and see the sun shining, it can cheer us up. We can actually cure ourselves of depression if we recognize that the world we have is good.

So, returning to the question of alchemizing shame – the story continues from here in two installments:

1) Coyote showing me my basic goodness, riding the tubes

2) Finding a mirror in another human, and turning shame into a green alien with no more home inside me

Wishing you peace, love, magic, joy, and play in your journey.

If you think I may be able to help you, please reach out.