Book notes: The Silence of the Heart by Paul Ferrini

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The first book I read of Ferrini’s is Love Without Conditions. It’s written in direct address, simply, boldly. This book, The Silence of the Heart, follows it, though it can stand alone as its own book.

There is some repetition in the two books, which could get annoying. However, I find that Ferrini’s writing is simple and direct enough that it moves quickly. Generally, when there’s repetition, it’s needed in context. I had a lot of those moments in reading that are the best: moments when you read something you’ve been thinking for so long, or feeling, but haven’t been able to express. Suddenly, it’s before you, in words, in print, seeable, repeatable, articulated. It’s such a good moment to share that recognition and connection, to hear your own thoughts reverberating back to you in words you couldn’t come up with yourself.

Reading is a solitary activity, right? Unless you’re reading aloud to someone, you’re sitting by yourself, alone with a book. But reading is communal. It’s connecting. It opens up a community and brings you into it, in a non-abrasive way. It’s a universal and timeless community of shared thoughts and feelings.

I need to go buy some more books now. Here are some quotes (and notes) from Ferrini’s The Silence of the Heart:

Few human beings take direct responsibility for their physical and emotional well-being. It is no wonder that they lack a spiritual perspective on life. When people do not care for themselves, they blame others for their problems. They feel like victims. They feel trapped in their jobs, their relationships, their physical location, their roles and responsibilities. They appear to live inside a pressure cooker. Either they stay in their external situation and feel victimized and resentful. Or they leave that situation inappropriately before it is healed, leaving a wake of broken hearts.

For once, before your ego tried to take charge of the journey, you were the patient captain of your own ship, moving to a destination intuited but unknown. And it is the same now, even though you think you must work at being in charge.

One of the things I love most about Ferrini’s work is how he acknowledges that the limited-problem-anxious-state we live in is not our natural state. We’ve learned to be fearful, anxious, limited, powerless little creatures, but it’s not who we really are.

The problem is that the victim will never acknowledge the ladder. He will never admit that he has the tools he needs to extricate himself from his suffering. For, as soon as he admits that he has these tools, he ceases to be a victim. Nobody feels sorry for him anymore. The game of being a handicapped creator comes to an end.

You are not a victim of the world, but the one who holds the key to freedom. In your eyes is the spark of divine light that leads all beings out of the darkness of fear and mistrust. And in your heart is the love that gives birth to all the myriad beings in the universe. Your essence is unbroken, whole, dynamic and creative. It but awaits your trust.

Ferrini is adamant about the responsibility and power we each hold. We are not victims, no matter how much we’ve been victimized. This echoes what I’ve learned in my own life about personal growth, success, achievement, satisfaction, happiness, etc.: taking responsibility for every thought, feeling, reaction, word, action is the first step to almost anything that matters.

There is only one way that you will find genuine fulfillment in your life and that is to learn to love and accept yourself. With that as a foundation, relationships cease to be traumatic. Perhaps that is because one does not bring such intense expectations to them. When you know how to “be with” yourself, it is not so difficult to “be with” another.    However, if your life is a flight from self, how can you expect any relationship to be grounded? It just is not possible.

Such an important reminder: it’s not selfish to heal. It’s not selfish to learn to be who you are. It’s not selfish to learn to love and accept yourself, because until you do that, you cannot really love and accept anyone else.

Don’t accept any intermediary between you and God. Reject all gurus and teachers. Do not make the mistake of thinking that someone else has more spiritual knowledge than you do. That is preposterous. Anyone who is close to God knows that it is you who gives God permission to be present in your life, only you. The attachment to the ideas and concepts of others interferes with the clarity of your direct connection to Spirit.

Don’t accept anyone else’s authority over you and don’t accept authority over anyone else. Claim your freedom and offer freedom to others.

This has become  a life mantra for me: on the basis of respect, I consider my own freedom and the freedom of others in every decision. I allow no one to control me and neither do I seek to control others. I’m not saying I live by this mantra all the time… Um, no. It’s a goal, a reminder, a lesson that I keep learning. Because inevitably, when I forget, when I don’t respect myself and others, I run into issues, pain, problems, conflict.

Know thyself. Do not become lost in the world before you know who you are or your chances of waking up are not strong. The world will be only too happy to give you a role and a responsibility. Other people will be only too happy to assign you a role in their play.

Oh, it’s so true, isn’t it? We assign each other roles unconsciously. We step into roles unknowingly. We trap ourselves and each other in this limited, dangerous, hurtful narratives. And when we begin to see what’s happening, and step out of the roles we have accepted, we encounter resistance and conflict and, many times, we end up with broken relationships. People feel betrayed when we don’t do what they expect us to do, when we break the patterns they’ve come to depend on. But that’s not a reason to stay trapped in your role(s). You are the owner and creator of your own freedom. By standing up for yourself and stepping into freedom and your real identity, you give others permission to do the same.

When you fully inhabit your life, you will be drawn to others who are doing the same thing. Then, you will not have to give up your life for another. That is the beginning of a more beautiful and challenging dance. But it is a dance that cannot happen unless you are already dancing in your own truth.