(Author and Teacher)
The Magnificent Unfinished Story of “You” – Embracing the Paradox of the Never-Changing and the Ever-Changing
Jeff Foster invites us to consider a stunning paradox right at the heart of our existence, a universal conundrum that every human being has grappled with since we first walked the earth. We are the main characters in an epic movie called “My Life,” adventurous protagonists in our personal saga that stretches from cradle to grave and perhaps beyond. We grow and we change, and we follow the yellow brick road, and we seek our salvation and the salvation of others, in all kinds of ways. Yet as all the world’s great spiritual and religious traditions have always been reminding us, who we truly are is timeless and unchanging, and beyond all mind-made stories. We are paradoxical beings, with one foot in the world, and the other, out of it. And yet, here we stand!
Beyond the individual, time-bound stories of our lives, beyond the complex tales of our past and the rich dreams of our future, we are always deeply rooted in the Now, grounded in this timeless moment. Behind the ever-changing myths that are played out in our minds and hearts, we always find the never-changing cosmic movie screen – consciousness itself – which allows everything to “be” in the first place. Are we really two things at once, the ever-changing and the never-changing? How can we be fully human, and fully divine, at the same time? How can we live with one foot in our life story, and the other one in the Now?
Jeff Foster invites us to wake up to something obvious and yet constantly overlooked. In any moment, when we simply step out of the story of our lives – our challenges, our plans, our problems, our successes and failures – without ignoring or denying them, we find at the core of our being an ever-present, unchanging life force, timeless and free, deeply at peace and cosmically uninvolved in the epic drama of “me”. Again, this is not about ignoring or denying our challenges, but always remembering the consciousness that animates them, the consciousness that unites us all. Some have called this life force Presence, some have labeled it Awareness, many know it as God. There are many names for the nameless ever-present movie screen that you are, the cosmic theatre in which all human drama – war, romance, comedy, horror, science fiction – plays itself out. Jeff calls it Deep Acceptance.
How can we reconcile this paradox of at once being fully involved in the movies of our lives, fully absorbed in their trials and tribulations, yet fully aware of the screen on which they play out? How can we reconcile the paradox of being fully engaged with the world, busy fixing its problems and discovering creative solutions, on this exciting and rich journey towards our futures, and yet being fully at peace, grounded deeply in the Here and Now, and already complete? How can we live both as a character in a movie, living in and loving the world, and being passionate about transforming it, yet at same time, rest deeply, knowing ourselves as the movie screen itself, seeing the inherent perfection of things as they already are, knowing that everything is deeply okay as it is, even before it is transformed?
Does the greatest transformation actually happen when “we” get out of the way?
Jeff Foster is an author and teacher from the UK.
He studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. Then, in his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.
The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous, and Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.
Jeff presently holds meetings, retreats and private one-to-one sessions around the world, gently but directly pointing people back to the deep acceptance inherent in the present moment. He helps people discover who they really are, beyond all thoughts and judgments about themselves, even in the midst of the stress and struggle of modern day living and intimate relationships.
Jeff’s teaching style is direct and uncompromising and yet full of humanity, humor and compassion. He believes that freedom is everybody’s birthright. He belongs to no tradition or lineage, and makes his teaching accessible to all.
Jeff was voted #51 in Watkins Mind Body Spirit’s 2012 list of the world’s 100 most spiritually influential living people. He has published four books in over six languages. His latest book The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life was published in 2012 by Sounds True.
Why I support GATE
I have always recognized the life-changing power of art. When I was a child, books and movies helped me feel connected to life and to other people. They helped awaken compassion in me and opened me up to other ways of living beyond my own limited upbringing. I see the potential for media to not just entertain us but awaken us, to serve not just as distraction but as profound (and yes, entertaining) spiritual teaching. I feel that now, maybe more than at any other time in human history, it is essential that we harness the power of media and use it for good. My vision is aligned with GATE’s, and that’s why I support it.
My Current Media Diet
Book: Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth
TV: Downton Abbey
Movie: Cloud Atlas
Music: Wild Beasts
“There’s no place like Home”
- Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts…”
- William Shakespeare, As You Like It
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive… Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience…” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth