Edited from a talk to participants in the Love, Sex and Shadows workshop for couples last week in Czech Republic.

Most of our schooling – what we call education – can be summed up as “think about it”. Never mind learning to be present in your whole being, never mind really experiencing what is going on; just think about it and be able to talk about it, and have apparently intelligent things to say about it. Then you are considered educated. If other people are doing the same – and so many are – they don’t notice that you are thinking life instead of experiencing it. A lot of the chatter is just so much comfortable noise to cover everyone’s absence!

It’s the great disservice foisted on us by our schooling. Learning to think life saves us from feeling too much – especially from feeling vulnerable, which is still such a taboo for many people. But the fact is that if we want to fully experience life, we have to be able to feel how it touches us, and that can only happen if we are in friendship with all our feelings. Otherwise we reject our inner life, and likewise reject it in others. Scorn, sarcasm, bullying, intimidation, even joking, or just talk-talk-talk – anything to shut out the inner life we’ve learned to shun. That is where our educational systems have failed, and it is a massive failure.

If you just pay attention to yourself, you can become aware of how your personality functions to make sure that you don’t feel anything you have learned to avoid in yourself, and the games you play to keep your highly developed personality in control of the show. It’s hardly surprising that it is so. Our image-obsessed culture is a product of its own schooling. It doesn’t know any better than to believe that our personality is who we really are. Just look at how personality is idolized by the media! The crazy truth is that it is our personality that conceals our real being.

So this evening I am inviting you and your partner into a ceremony in which you are guided into removing the costumes of your personalities so that you can meet each other in an experience that may actually be quite magical. You see, if your personalities are running your relationship, they have to constantly sabotage the possibility of deep intimacy, because personality is only interested in its own survival. It is nothing more than a costume that thinks it is who you really are. As long as it is running the show, its deepest intention is to keep running the show, which prevents you from ever discovering the truth of your real being. Only you in your whole, open, sensing and feeling being can ever experience the magic and mystery of meeting another in his or her whole being. Or indeed of being on your own, fully in touch with yourself and so in an intimate relationship with life itself. It all happens because you are in friendship with your feeling life.

Way back in the 1920’s, D. H. Lawrence said it beautifully in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, his great novel celebrating sexual love: “While you live your life, you are in some way an organic whole with all life. But once you start the mental life, you pluck the apple. You’ve severed the connection between the apple and the tree: the organic connection. And if you’ve got nothing in your life but the mental life, then you yourself are a plucked apple, you’ve fallen off the tree.”