3P Random Reflections Blog

At the homeless shelter where I volunteer, they offer an occasional “snack and learn” session where volunteers and staff can come to listen to a leader (from a particular department at the shelter) share about their work. It’s a great way of learning more about the various areas of the organization and the community it serves.



This week’s session was facilitated by the leader of Spiritual Care Services, a lovely, caring woman of Christian faith, and of an open mind and heart supporting the full range of physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the community, no matter the personal faith, belief, culture, race, history, or sexual orientation of any individual. The homeless and suffering community at the shelter come in every human form, and her mission is simply to provide room for all of it with safety, love, respect, compassion, and understanding.



At the same time, a significant part of her focus includes fostering reconciliation for the harm done by Christianity toward the Indigenous community, since they make up a significant portion of those suffering; a direct result of their history of colonization and marginalization, and the cascading effects on each subsequent generation for the last 200 years or so.



Overall, the feeling she was coming from as she spoke was soft and kind.



At the session there was a wide range of volunteers and staff workers from various faiths including at least two volunteers who’s view of Christianity was primarily of winning the fight between good and evil and doing so by bringing individuals to their specific understanding of Christ and the Bible’s teachings. One of them was a “not-yet-started-volunteer-and-checking-it-out-first” person who explained his own faith, and then seemed genuinely curious in asking how the shelter manages the balance between helping the suffering but not accepting or supporting their non-Christian faiths or evil behaviours. Where does the shelter draw the line?



The other one had come to the shelter over a year ago, helping out in the facility that sorts and distributes clothing. She talked about her sense that the homeless shelter was being intentionally misleading, purporting a Christian faith, but only under the guise of getting more financial help and services from the surrounding Christian community. She seemed somewhat tense and unhappy, but advised that she continued to volunteer despite eventually discovering that the organization did not hold or administer to her Christian beliefs.



As I listened to everyone’s sharing, some of them pointing to the universal nature of God, and many giving their advice and sharing their own beliefs, I noticed the feeling in the room. The tension in word and tone would rise and fall based on wherever each person was coming from, and how they were engaging with others. There wasn’t much asking out of genuine curiosity. There was more just telling… sometimes in a more neutral or lighthearted way, and sometimes in a subtle or not-so-subtle judgmental way.



The Spiritual Care leader and several other shelter employees did her best to calmly and pleasantly navigate the conversation and share their own understanding of the shelter’s mission.



Initially I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and judgmental about the two individuals with their fundamental beliefs. At the same time, I felt that I knew enough to NOT jump into the middle of the discussion, sharing yet another version of what appears to be “right”. Instead I just sat, attempting to listen as best as I could, and in an odd way, enjoying the observation of the feelings in me and in the room. I was aware that at the most fundamental level of life, I was simply experiencing the richness of humanity in all its forms (me included), just as I experience it with the guests I get to meet at the shelter.



After the meeting, with time to reflect, I got a little clearer. I realized that although I had some level of understanding of what was happening in the room and happening within myself (which is already something I’m incredibly grateful for), I hadn’t been at all curious about those who were sharing their fundamental beliefs. I wasn’t considering being in their shoes, feeling the struggle of fighting against evil and working with a genuine and heartfelt desire toward the salvation of mankind. It didn’t occur to me to ask them questions to learn more about what they see and how they see it, and to give them the same love and understanding that I offer to the guests that come to the shelter.



It’s not uncommon for me to go in this direction. It easily occurs to me to offer love and understanding to “those on the front lines of vulnerability and injustice”, but rarely to offer the same love and understanding to those I deem as “should know better”, either because of their apparent privilege or their apparent status.



Fortunately, I’ve discovered enough about life and love to continue to receive little nudges from the universe about which direction to look in. I eventually somehow fall out of my head and into my heart, fall out of my disconnect and back into my connection to our common humanity, and remember again that my only job is to love with understanding and without condition. From that place, everything easily and beautifully takes care of itself.

As is sometimes prone to happen, I’ve been contemplating the truth of impersonal, unconditional love, while slowly coming out of the grips of an insidious “making-me-want-to-just-die-and-get-it-over-with” flu virus that has been renewing my acquaintance with physical suffering, apparently for the benefit of the universe.


I know, you’re thinking what I’m thinking, the universe is clearly selfish. LOL!


Anyway, I would personally prefer it, if the universe wasn’t so interested in my painful feelings, but I’ve been told that I am it’s only “learning tool”.


Damn you, Universal Consciousness (which apparently is the same thing as saying damn me, but, you know, whatever).


At the same time, I have to admit that death isn’t really a concern for me anymore, and my painful feelings don’t have as much significance as they used to, but I’m still an apparent work in progress (albeit an often amused and glorious one).


So anyway, here’s what I came up with…




We sometimes use the words "unconditional love", but most of us don't really understand what true unconditional love really is. I didn't. I had no inkling until I got a glimpse of it a few years ago.


Whether we realize it or not, most, if not all the love we experience comes with reference or connection to something or someone, and comes with an ENDLESS number of conditions...


We want them near us
We don't want them to suffer
We want them to be happy
We compare them to others and to ourselves
We see behaviours or traits of theirs that we think could be different or better in some ways
We admire them for some reasons and we have concerns about them for other reasons
We feel pride in their achievements
We feel pain in their losses
We care how they feel about us
We worry how they're doing
We feel loss in their absence
We can't imagine the pain of living without them
We feel the love for them, and sometimes we don't feel it.


Whether we realize it or not, most, if not all the love we experience is perceived as personal... everything in the relationship is in some way a reflection of the personal "me".


Everything is seen and experienced and felt through our personal filter of feelings, observations, opinions, judgments, needs, securities, and insecurities.


We project our illusory sense of who we think we are onto every mutually related experience, memory of the past, and imagination of the future.


True unconditional love, the kind of love that "IS the energy of Life", comes without any conditions, without personal relationship, without comparison, without judgment, without need, without effort, without consideration of time or space.


True unconditional love comes simply and beautifully with pure unconditional acceptance for everyone and everything exactly as it is.


It is a feeling of love much greater, much lighter, and much freer than any personal attachments of love that we create or imagine.


There are NO concepts of right or wrong or good or bad.


There is no love OF anyone or anything or even everything.


There is simply the realization of the essence of all life... the realization of being... the realization of the FEELING of love that is free, open, expansive, all encompassing, infinite, and eternal, of everything and of no single one or no single thing.


Not you. Not me. And yet, you AND me.


We live mostly with the awareness of our experiences of personal and conditional love, and perhaps small glimpses of the impersonal and unconditional.


But, it's those glimpses that are the very stuff of life that all of us unknowingly seek, and yet paradoxically and amusingly, all of us already are, even if we never somehow come to the grace of realizing it.


And for those of us who may be searching, and for those of us who frequently forget, and for those like me who appear to live 99.999% of our time in the non-feeling of it, we can simply hold ourselves gently in any brief moment of any feeling of love (or really any feeling at all) that wells up within us... the brief moment before we attach that love or that feeling to someone or something... the space both full (and yet empty) of feeling, and free of the conditions of any single thought...


We can always look there.

In the past, if anything appeared to go wrong in our workdays, my husband and I would share our stories with each other once we got home.


We would talk about all the reasons why we were right and why they were wrong. And funnily enough, each of us, in support of the other, would use our creative cooperation to come up with even more reasons to be upset, to further prove the assigned rights and wrongs... many more reasons than either of us would ever have come up with on our own. We took an apparent bad situation and made it much worse by getting validation from someone else, by adding more personal significance and meaning, and by extending its otherwise fleeting life.


And then after some insight into the illusory nature and feeling of insecure thought, we saw how we were taking inherently neutral situations, and then adding stories that bolstered our egos, created division, and fostered our own suffering.


We've pretty well stopped this habit, although when we do occasionally imbibe, whoever is the listener often knows enough to NOT add to the story, and to gently listen instead, until the story teller eventually wears out or wakes up.


Being able to navigate life with less need for the insecure side of our ego (judging, blaming, justifying, reasoning, defending), and with more simple common sense (just doing what needs to be done, if anything), is a blessing.


Eckhart Tolle has a few amusing stories to point to this... https://youtu.be/Ci8ZAj6Z8C4

One of the fascinating things about gaining a glimpse of the Truth of Life is that you begin to see wisdom everywhere... Words that you've read hundreds of times before suddenly take on new meaning. Scenes that you've seen thousands of times before suddenly offer something new to see. And thoughts that you've had a million times before suddenly appear with new understanding.


You find yourself living in the exact same physical world that you were in before, but the experience of it becomes something completely different.


You then get to fall back into an awareness of life that you had when you were very new to this world, without all the heaviness of beliefs and limitations collected from a lifetime of thinking.


You get to notice and feel once again, the wonder of life, the mystery of life, the abundance of life, with no clear sense of where you end and the rest of the world begins.


You suddenly open a door in your mind that reveals an infinite number of other doors yet to be explored.


What new wonders will greet you in this new year and new life, as the endless appearance of each new NOW reveals itself?

One of the paradoxes in life is that "trying" to feel better, in the long run, actually makes us feel worse... It's not so much what we choose to do in life, but the underlying (sometimes not so obvious to us) reasons for doing it.


If we do self-help or self-care mostly to quell all the negative judgments we have about ourselves, or to sate our never-ending list of shoulds, then the negative judgments and shoulds will never end.


Instead, there's something beautifully profound in discovering 1) the illusory nature of our negative thinking, and 2) the realization of where our judgments and shoulds come from.


In the moments when we happen to be in touch with the calmer/peaceful/connected part of ourselves (our true nature), our actions come without much thought and are naturally more self-caring.


In the moments when we are disconnected, and giving significance to our thinking, our actions and thoughts become focused on how to fix or change or improve whatever we think is not enough or broken in some way.


And the fixing never ends... We think that "life will be better once this is fixed", not realizing that if/when it gets fixed, more things keep getting added to the list.


Instead of continually exploring all the self-care measures and gadgets and programs designed to "fix" us, some gentle self-reflection may be the better direction to look in first.


Discovering and living from the space of deeply KNOWING that we don't need fixing, is paradoxically what allows us to give ourselves the best self-care.

Latest comments

21.02 | 00:05

Thank you so much Jan! It was very kind of you to let me know.

20.02 | 22:58

What a beautiful, inspiring journey to the inside-out understanding of the 3P's. Well written and full of humor.

20.01 | 20:32

Thank you so much Marnix. The site gets visits but I don't always get to "meet" the beings behind the keyboards. It's always so lovely to hear it's appreciated.

20.01 | 12:02

Hi! I've been hanging around your website for a few weeks now, and utterly enjoy it. I just wanted to let you know that. Thanks a lot for all this work! <3