Can I trust you?

If I reveal myself, will you judge me? Will you stick around if it starts getting tough? Can I trust you with my real self?

When we go into a circle, when we do a sharing circle, when we have a “talk”, who is going to open up first? Are we going to keep it at the surface or can I trust you with my heart?

Will you understand? Will you be able to relate? Will you be able to hear me, see me, get me without judging me?

When I go into meditation, can I trust this experience? Can I trust this body? This mind? This experience? Can I be completely with this experience in surrender and acceptance?

Fundamentally, life is a not knowing. Everything changing. No way to know the next moment. Civilization is just an artificiality to make things more predictable, more controllable. But, in the end, death takes everything.

And, so, I practice forms like meditation and circling. To focus on this experience right here right now and see where I am not in surrender. Where I’m not taking responsibility. Where I’m not willing to be with the experience. Where I give up my power to others, to circumstances.

After I did my final Boston circling night, I remember a friend asked me, “what’s the point?” After the night is over and structure is gone, people just revert back to normal, right? You can’t be like this all the time, right? You have to survive. You’ll get eaten alive being authentic and vulnerable in the “real” world.

All of us are constantly calculating to what extent can I trust this person, this group?

And we also do it to ourselves. We have inner defenses protecting ourselves from experiencing ourselves completely. It’s almost comical in meditation to see hindrances like sleepiness arise at the cusp of real breakthroughs.

This distrust, this holding back prevents us from living fully.

For me, practicing in a center like this, I get to see how much my experience of the world is just my projections. My ideas and thoughts and opinions. How the distrust I feel is mostly just me; not the situation, not the other.

In the last year, a lot of my work has been trying to build relationships with other people. Many diferent kinds of relationships. Recruiting residents, speaking at another teacher’s group, building business relationships, and so on. Each time, the most important question to answer for the other person is can I trust you?

A lot of times, I can see people tighten up because there’s a lack of trust. In others and in themselves. I give critical feedback to someone, and they go into victim-hood, defensiveness, or explaining themselves. The feedback has nothing to do with their value as a person. It’s purely about an action they did. Yet, we turn the feedback into judgments about ourselves, our self-worth, our identity.

When I go to conferences or start sales calls or talk to a new potential resident, I always begin by trying to be friendly and setup good rapport. First and foremost, business and relationships are answering this question, “is this someone I want to continue seeing in the future?” About trusting that this other person at a minimum won’t be a burden or a drag to be around. Don’t start by selling your product or justifying your value. Unless you’re talking to an engineer type.

I think intellectuals (scholars, coders, engineers) particularly have trouble with this. We want to look at the cold specs and inherently distrust people and emotions.

All of us are craving connection, authenticity, and vulnerability yet we, ourselves, fear being real because it’s not clear if the other person will stick. If I reveal myself will you see me without judgment? Will you stick around?

Someone has to be the first person. Someone has to be willing to be the first voice to go deeper. To reveal themselves.

Sort of a rambling post. But, this question has often been on my mind. Do I trust myself? Do I trust these other people? Those two questions are interwoven. Much of the training here is about returning to that fundamental, unconditional trust, joy, and confidence that relies on nothing but itself.