Are We Real?

frogYesterday I received a serious compliment from someone who wanted to buy my new book. What he said was, “There are a lot of books, but I want to buy yours, because you are real!” Now that’s big! But outside of making me feel really good, it raises the question, are we not real most of the time? And if not, what could make us more real?

I think that I, and perhaps you, are real when we are present to ourselves and to the world. But why would this be so rare? What stands in our way? Well, for one thing, to be present I must call upon all my faculties. I need to bring my mind back to the present moment, back from yesterday, or tomorrow, or Timbuktu, or wherever it is ranging. And not only the mind: we get lost in all those emotional reactions that dance through us. How to return to the subtle act of listening with the heart?

I truly believe that in such an effort, and at other times as well, our body is our best friend. Not that it doesn’t have complaints, aches and pains, resistance, out-of-breathness, fatigue, etc. But the body already lives in the present moment full time. So if mind and emotions can join it, we are already on our way home.

However, when do we trust it? We kvetch about it, wishing it would hurry up and do faster all the things we want it to do. But the body can only do one thing at a time, and while we complain that it doesn’t move fast enough, that fact is our greatest help to being present to our lives as they unfold. I often think about what Marion Woodman wrote in The Ravaged Bridegroom, “”As consciousness develops, the body will act as donkey for only so long. Men as much as women need to know that their soul is grounded in their own loving matter. ‘This is who I am. Every cell in my body tells me this is of value to me–not to my persona, to me.’ That is the container whose feeling can be trusted because it is grounded in reality.”

Welcome to the REAL!

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