Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This is it: Seizures and Truth

The whole spiritual search has lost its luster. After a while the enlightenment carrot starts to look like…well… a carrot, no different than any other carrot, the pursuit of another ideal in one form or another. Oneness chasing oneness is another case of conceptual bullshit.  Utter and complete. Every attempt to experience oneness/enlightenment/liberation is a movement away from it and an investment in a false world of conceptual duality.  It just doesn’t matter. Our western conditioned minds, raised on autonomy, the pursuit of happiness and platonic thought, divide body and soul into oppositional constructs, only to provide some arbitrary point of reference.

Today, while at work, I had a seizure.  This one was accompanied by hours of disorientation, loss of words, heart fluctuations, dizziness and the typical emotional aftermath.  Hours later, as I sat with the vulnerable uncertainty of life, I realized I am no longer interested in concepts.  I don’t give a damn for the spirituality and matter debate.   I couldn’t begin to care if there is “other” or if the whole show is the creation of a mind intent on separation.  In the final hour does any of that matter?  Does any of that offer peace in the quiet hours when you lay awake before dawn and all pretense of self is suspended?  No.  It’s all noise. 

I breathe.  I need air.  I stand.  I need gravity.  I move.  I need energy.  I eat.  I need all the life forms from which my food comes.  This human body did not evolve in isolation, intellectual or otherwise. I need other as plant, animal, human and more.  It is ludicrous to postulate about spirit AND form.  It’s mental bullshit.  It is all LIFE as ME, as YOU, as air, as earth, as cosmos, as seizure, as heart arrhythmia, as us, as whatever is here.  Right now.  In truth, we don’t know what is going on here; we only know that something is.  That’s the best we can say with any measure of clarity and honesty. 

Given THAT how do we meet THIS moment?  Do we try to adapt it to fit some imagined version of how it should be? Do we try to manifest something else or employ some other resistance to THIS? Do we wonder how a more enlightened version of ourselves would handle it?

I sit, disoriented, dizzy and emotional, offering a tender yes to this, utterly awed by the unresolved, uncertain and unknown nature of life.

The whole liberation thing can by cleared up pretty simply:
This is it.
Love what is. Or don’t.  Doesn’t make a lick of difference.
This is still it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The paradox of self: Intimacy with life

We are, each of us, a paradox, a seemingly senseless combination of contradictions that, when considered in full, prove to be the truest expression of self.  We each try to negotiate our interactions in an effort to cloak our inconsistencies from ourselves and those we love.  How can we be both joyous and sad?  How can we experience deep love and union alongside contraction and separation?  How can we be patient and irritable, tolerant and judgmental, kind and cold?   We crave closeness, belonging and connection but are afraid to be known fully.

My godmother and one of the great loves of my life, recently … I don't even know how to write it…died? (Death is a word meant to point to a mystery beyond anything the mind could comprehend and yet the mind doesn't like inconsistencies.)  She lived a long life as a remarkable being.  In the days and weeks following her death, people remembered her and in their memories she became less and less human and more and more saintly.  She was special AND she was human too. I was blessed to love and know the whole of her, perhaps because she knew and loved the whole of me. That kind of love moves mountains.

When we ignore the paradox of our own humanity we distance ourselves from intimacy.  It is not our perceived greatness that needs the warmth of belonging, it is our weakness, our vulnerability, our inconsistency... our humanness.

Navajo weavers intentionally weave mistakes into their rugs, to remind us that we are not perfect and that Spirit enters through our imperfections.  When we welcome this paradox, in ourselves and others, we open to love and true intimacy on life's terms.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I don't know…the dance of creation

What is life?  The mind is eager to regurgitate its many "known" and cocky answers to that question.  But they don't hold much water, they leak all over the place and we spend a lot of energy trying to patch them up.  The honest response is, "I don't know".

There is an experience and something being experienced.
There is a sense of an experiencer.

Wisdom rests far less on what is known and far more on the unknown.

Okay, great, nice thought or unsettling thought, but we aren't interested in another philosophy to organize our life around.  That's more of the same.  How on gods green earth do we live in uncertainty?  And not living with uncertainty like living with a rarely seen, and thoroughly disliked house guest who eats all the food in the fridge and pisses on the toilet seat, but like… holy shit the house is gone and the ground is gone and what the holy hell is going on around here…again and again.

It's a bit terrifying really.  But it doesn't need one jot of my energy to make it so.

No matter how much we invest in elaborate buffering beliefs, we don't really know anything beyond what is arising right now and even that is experienced rather than known.

Herein lies the invitation… this moment, exactly as it is and YOU exactly as you are…creation dancing.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Aunt Bertie

What is death?
I don't know.
It is not what we tend to think it is.  Of that I am certain.

On December 29th, 2015 my beloved god-mother/teacher/sister/friend/kindred spirit/aunt/soul-mate left her body.  Her spirit, always so strong, luminous and buoyant, had simply outgrown the body, like a caterpillar does its cocoon.  I celebrate her transition and my heart selfishly grieves.  I have often noticed when lovers part, that it is the one left who grieves the hardest, surrounded as they are by the reminders of a life created and shared together.  

Remembering….
…Looking through the eyes of my two year old self at a white haired woman so filled with magic and laughter that all the world's petty concerns bow before her.  She talks of fairies and angels and elves when all the adults around me talk of war and money and concern.  Her world and my world…same, same.
…A boom of thunder forces me into bed beside her where we listen to rain and she explains the nature of light and its booming bravado at high speeds.  Suddenly thunderstorms are friendly and full of magic. 
...Parents fight and divorce, a young life in chaos... her arms and home are solid, unwavering and constant.  
...Holidays highlighted by farm home packages wrapped in glittering tissue paper and angels, smelling of home (or musty if you possess less refined olfactory sensibilities).  
...Apprenticing for years alongside her, learning the power of thought, word, feeling and meditation. Immersed in metaphysics, astrology, angels, ascended masters and more until those no longer satisfy. Then she smiles knowingly and says, "This has been my path Angelina. Yours will take you higher my bright and shining one!", certain as she always was that I was destined for soul greatness.  

She has been my north star, my constant, and I have always been her beloved Angelina.  She told me she would not leave until I was ready.  She waited.  And when my life bloomed into fullness, I was ready and the butterfly took flight. 

I feel her now, as I write, her arms around me in an embrace so wide that all the universe dances in her love.  Light waves of grief thunder across the sky of my love, but I'm not afraid.  The salty tears, like rain, cascade down the windows of my heart, not because she is gone but because the little girl who lives in me still, can never again climb into bed beside her and feel the warmth of her body as we listen, together, for the heart beat of the world.

I love you Aunt Bertie, beyond time and space, beyond thought and belief.  There aren't words sufficient to express my gratitude and so I will do, what I have always done,  I will shine.  I will love.  I will live and I will continue to see through spirit eyes… a world luminous and full of love. 

And I will always be your bright and shining one.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016

The first day of the new year has a peculiar effect on me.
While people busy themselves with resolutions born from holiday excess, I ruminate on the nature of time.  I know we all live by it and yet complicit agreement doesn't make it so. Time is a human contrivance and convenience and although it may be necessary for practical purposes, our reliance on it obscures a genuine engagement with the uncertainty and robust vulnerability inherent in this moment, and this one, and this one, ad infinitum.
Sitting on a chair worn from the weight of countless asses and working at a porcelain table whose dings and dents describe meals and gatherings, I inhale the sweet scent of white lilies, a gesture of love from my treasured mate and peer through glass at a snow covered yard hiding countless spring flowers yet to emerge. I breathe, I live, I am.  And the grand joke is that all off it…the grand sum total of life… offers up a singular invitation, in infinite forms, that you can only hear in this moment and this one and this one, ad infinitum.
For a moment, no more, drop past and future and meet life in all it's immediacy, as it is, with the full weight of what you are IN THIS MOMENT.  The only moment there ever is.  In the face of that…what is there to resolve?
Happy New Year again and again, until the end of time.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Creation and Fly fishing

From the bank of a river I watched my partner fly fishing with the fluid movements and rhythmic motions of a longtime fisherman.  I realized then, that he was meditating with eyes open, fully present and aware.  Amidst the cadence of water flowing over well worn stones and the soft whir of a rod in motion, I understood fly fishing as an ideal metaphor for conscious creation.  In fly fishing, the weight of the line carries the fly to the fish. In manifestation, the weight of our focus carries our intention to the field of infinite possibility.  In fly fishing, the fly rod and line (and thus the fly) go in the direction that the rod tip is pointed during the cast.  Similarly when we create, it’s the clarity of our focus that determines the aim of our intention. 

Attention is flexible, giving us the ability to focus the mind or soften and widen it. When we center our attention on what we want and feel it in real time, NOW, we are building the energy and frequency necessary to match and meet the experience.  We are not asking for something we don’t already have.  We are saying yes to this moment, affirming the reality of this particular possibility with focused clarity and full commitment.  Once deeply felt and experienced, the cast is released into the creative field where all possibilities exist. In fly fishing this is called stroking and stopping and is the key to a good fly cast.  The stroke is the bending of the rod which focuses the energy of the cast.  The stop releases the energy. Once released, the aim carries the fly to it’s intended destination.  Similarly as we let go we allow our attention to widen into surrender.  We rest back and trust the water to carry the intention to it’s target.  The catch is contained in the cast.  What connects the two is presence and surrender.  If in the drift phase, we doubt and question and lift the hook from the water too soon, we have created interference in the signals and will receive mixed or muddy signals in return…no fish. 

The surrendered release is as vital as the clear cast. The catch takes care of itself.  Our only job is to remain present and focused here and NOW to receive, in unexpected ways, from a depth of life that we never imagined when we first set our hook on the water.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

ghost in the mirror

I had a conversation with a dear friend about the limiting views we have of ourselves and the voice in our heads that serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the past and our outmoded perceptions and beliefs.  

I had obviously trespassed too far into bliss and the mind needed to assert itself with alacrity and gusto.  I spent several days grappling with the unpredictability of this body and wrestling with the fierce demon of dysmorphia that assured me in no uncertain terms that I was horribly unattractive, flawed and therefore unlovable.  I knew, as I often know, that the voice was just a symptom of pain arising and nothing more.  The shadows don't need my stalwart efforts to shove them back into the recesses of unconsciousness, rather they are arising in order that they might meet with the full weight of my love and fade in the light of my awareness...but holy hell the ghosts in the mirror can be terrifying in all their pomp and circumstance.  It's laughable when we get enough perspective and can look honestly at the whole show.  Seriously, who let that voice in and why on earth do we devote so much energy trying to convince it that it's wrong?  The nonsense our mental chatter churns out isn't something I would ever say aloud to anyone...ever.  Honestly, I don't even identify with its verbiage.  That's when the effort to fight it stops.  It just doesn't warrant one more instant of attention.  No matter how it catastrophizes, terrorizes, plans, worries, controls and projects...it's really not necessary... it's just background noise in the wide expanse of being that we are.  

If I'm not beautiful... So what.  If I'm flawed... So what.  If I'm unlovable... So what.  When the worst it has to offer is seen for what it is... ghosts parading as real... and it's fully realized that nothing can take from us the essence of what we are, then it has no more power to harness our attention and the ghosts in the mirror are gone.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Perspective

Sometimes life gives you wide vistas and sometimes small gems, but all of it, no matter how ordinary or sublime, is an expansive invitation into this beautiful moment… a gentle mirror (or occasionally a slap in the jaw) reminding us, in a million subtle and bombastic ways, that we are the capacity to experience it all.
Now that is something to be grateful for.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

God seeds

We are all God seeds.  Cells in the infinite body of consciousness.  Not separate and apart from that which we are but intimately one with all life everywhere.  In the dream of separation we float in the great waters of truth but imagine a ME separate and apart, longing for more, longing for other, longing to wake up, longing for home.  Not knowing, in all our reaching and contriving, controling and predicting, that the me so intent on waking, never wakes up.  It is awakened from.  Not in some violent transcendence of self, but in the same innocent, eye (I) open, waking from sleep.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

seeking

Seeking.
At some point, along every great journey, we come to see that it is not the destination that matters but every step along the way.  We remember that there is no "path", no grand design sprinkled with glitter  and marked by a giant neon sign announcing "my purpose this way". We lay down our path by walking.
Seeking, with all its incumbent strategies of fortune and fame, youth and vigor, me and mine, meditation and austerity, enlightenment and greatness, is simply a distraction from this one and only Now.  It's a subtle aggression against our life, as it is, in this moment.  It isn't another something to be overcome.  That would require a great deal of tilting at windmills with Quixote inspired absurdity. No. When we see this moment as it is, complete with it's vulnerability, uncertainties, unknown variables and obtuse horizons, we arrive in the only place we can ever truly call home.

Now.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

hiking

When my mind begins it's whirl of thought and constricts my heart, I take to the woods.  The moment my feet hit the trail, I experience a softening.  I don't mean to suggest that I leave my chatty companion back at the jeep.  No, she comes along, but conditioned thought is no longer the object of my attention; my eyes are too busy beholding beauty, my ears too rapt with the song of bird and the rustle of wind across the horizon, my nose is held captive by the smell of sunshine and earth, pine tree and sweat and my hands are too busy caressing the tall fronds of grass and rolling sage.
 With so much beauty and grandeur, the little rumblings of a busy mind just don't garner a lot of hype.
And as I walk, my breath slows, my mind clears, my heart opens and I surrender, again and again, to this moment, as it is, right now.

Love

 
For those of you who know and love me, it will be sufficient to say that I am happy.  Not superficial, moon-eyed happy, but a deep resevoir of happy that overflows with contentment.  It tastes like gratitude.

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.”
-Rumi

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

You are it.

Be Present?
In enlightenment teachings, you may hear the phrase, “be present.” But if you look around, ‘you’ are the present moment. ‘You’ are not separate from it. ‘You’ are life itself. The only thing obscuring this realization is mental and emotional activity that continuously tries to move away from this moment into a dream of past, future, and resistance to now. The notion that you are separate from life is a creation of thought.
The personal will who tries to ‘be present’ and bring about a personal awakening is the dream. Instead of doing anything, including trying to be present, gently notice what is already being done. A dream of self is already being told. Thought is replaying the past, searching into future, and resisting what is in this moment, all for the benefit of a “me.”
That mind movement is a dream of control. It is a dream of personal will. Suffering and searching arise when you buy into the illusion of control and personal will.
When the personal will is seen to be a dream of thought, it dies on its own. That is true spiritual awakening. You realize there is nothing to seek. Paradise is already here, now. It has always been right here, right now under the dream that there was a “you” who was somehow separate from it and who needed to do something to find it.

~ From: Reflections of the One Life by Scott Kiloby 

falling in love with life

In nature, I find myself standing in awestruck amazement before the craggly, twisted, worn and weathered aspects of life.  Their seasoned journey through time tends to bring me to my proverbial knees.

As I pass through check-out lines, I see evidence of our cultures limited notion of beauty, with it's deification of the unmarred, slender, frizzless, lineless ease of youth.  We internalize these messages but seldom seem to ask ourselves on a foundational level if that has been our experience.

I see beauty in the bud, fresh with promise.  It's easily discerned in that springtime rush. But it is no less apparent in life's fading from fullness, when the passage of time is discernible in the history on the surface of a tree, a face, a stone, a faded bloom.

In that wide embrace, nothing is outside beauties door and my heart breaks open, time and again, falling in love with life itself.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blooming

This dance of life has long been a conundrum to me, the ultimate zen koan. I tried hard to make sense of it all...to understand...to comprehend...to manage...ah yes... and to control... until something quite wonderful happened.  I came to the undeniable truth that I can't.  Whew!  In fact, that's the great comedic relief to the whole dog and pony show.  It's beyond our thinking.  We can lean into life, trust it and surrender. Not in some great sweeping, once-and-for-all enlightened "Aha! I got this" but in the ordinary moment-to-moment, leaning back into life. We can drop the opacity of self and embrace the unknown with all the hot messiness of our own misplaced longing.

After all this time, all these books, all these workshops, all this practice and all this seeking it's humbling to admit that it's just not that complicated.  It doesn't require years of ascetic devotion or my poetically, pious pretense masquerading as "I'm gonna get this". No.  Why? Because I don't need to "get" this.  The actual sexy, living, waking invitation is to trust the transparent, incomprehensible, vulnerable, awake, alive NOW to be, exactly as it is and me to be exactly as I am. In that fierce embrace, we don't need to understand life in order to live it, anymore than we need to understand love in order to love.

This robust NOW is the unltimate guru, whispering in every breath, that we are, ALREADY, right now, exactly what we have been seeking all along.  There is no other moment in which to bloom.  There is no other moment in which to be.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

True love

True love is like the love of a parent for a child: even though you feel frustrated at times, this love is constant. It is similar to life, which might drive you bananas at times or be really nice. 
This love is beyond the good moments and the difficult moments, which continue to happen. When you have awakened to this love that transcends every good and bad moment, a radical revolution occurs in your relationship with life itself. 
This is a love that has no opposite, such as hate, but is present through everything, in all moments. 
When you realize this, it is a revolution because, when you see that this love that you are loves the unlovable, loves what you're not supposed to love or what you were not allowed to love culturally, and is not paying attention to the separating rules of ego, you realize this is a different kind of love. 

~ From: Emptiness Dancing, by Adyashanti. 

Now

“Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”     -Eckhart Tolle

Friday, August 14, 2015

light

We can experience countless sunrises and still fear the unknown darkness, lurking in the hidden recesses beyond our visible encounters.  Every day we experience the sun's birth afresh and fears are relegated once more to the periphery.  Yet in the dark of night, when our senses are blinded by the limitations of our perception, is it possible to lean back into the unseen, unknown and trust that all is well.  All is well.
Gautama Buddha is credited with saying, "Be a light unto yourself".  Perhaps if we linger in that uncertainty, when all our senses are screaming for proof, and rest, even in the midst of our fearful imaginings, we will find ourselves self-luminous.  Lighting our own way in the dark.
Perhaps.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Laugh anyway

I used to live in 
A cramped house with confusion 
And pain.

But then I met the Friend
And I started getting drunk 
And singing all
Night.

Confusion and pain
Started acting nasty,
Making threats,
With talk like this,

"If you don't stop 'that'---
All that fun---

We're
  Leaving."
-Hafiz

Find a Better Job

Now
That
All your Worry
Has proved such an
Unlucrative
Business,
Why
Not
Find a better
Job.

-Hafiz

Sunday, August 2, 2015

eyes to see

When I was very young, I heard a story and it goes something like this:
There are two birds that fly over the deserts of California, the condor and the hummingbird.  If you ask the condor what the desert is like, it will describe death and carnage, blood, rot and decay.  If you ask the hummingbird what the desert is like, it will describe flowers dripping with sweet nectar and an unspeakable beauty hidden everywhere.
Life is like that.  We find exactly what we are looking for.  We think it's the other way around.  We think it's random and "happening to us".  But the lens of our particular perception changes everything we see and all we experience.
We literally find what we are looking for.  But we can't trick the looker.  All our positive thinking-new age-psycho babble doesn't focus the lens, our beliefs do. Life isn't "out there" happening to us.  It is in here, happening in us.
If that's the case, perhaps we can stop our victim-perpetrator-coulda-woulda-shoulda stories and ask what it is we expect to see.  There's no judgment.  If I want carnage, it's not hard to find.  If I want beauty, I need only LOOK for it with eyes prepared to see.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

natures invitation

Nature is sanctuary... home... life. When I am surrounded by the natural world it is easier to discard my sense of pompous separation and acknowledge my interconnection with life's many disguises.
When in nature it's ridiculous to assume a Pollyanna approach to its brilliance, waxing on about its kindness.  I know that I don't understand it. I know that I must remain open and alert to the possibilities arising in each moment.
Nature demands respect and careful observation.
Nature demands that we come to our senses.
Literally.
And practice once more our neglected sense of:

  • smell as the scent of pine, wildflower, rain, moose, earth and wind speaks its olfactory dialog with our nose.  
  • taste as our tongue receives the fresh tangy air of a pine forest.  
  • hearing as we silence our cellphones and internal chatter long enough to listen and hear the rustle of wind in trees and the various sound each plant and tree and flower makes as it moves in conversation with the breeze.   
  • touch as we feel the caress of life meeting life in and as tree, flower, bird, moose, you, me. 
With senses open, nature becomes a lover inviting our bodies toward the vulnerability and pleasure of this particular NOW.
It is a miraculous invitation held out to us in every single now since the dawn of creation.  And when we accept it, even for a moment, what wonders we behold.

Monday, July 20, 2015

summer

Three of my best best reasons for smiling throughout the long days and warm nights are as follows: Bodhi, nature and our beloved little dog too... and then there is just the big joy of SUMMER.  Ahhh.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

love-listen

Listening is loving.

If we listened with our whole bodies, what might we hear?  With our senses, with our hearts and with our presence?  You can not actually deeply listen and think at the same time.
Stillness and yet openess.  Spacious benevolence.

Love.

letting go

Nothing good can be lost." - Steinbeck
If that were the case, how might we live differently?
I'll tell you one thing for certain,
I'd sure as hell let go, lean in and rest back
a whole lot more.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

love

"What is love but the acceptance of the other, whatever he is."
-- Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller
I have been contemplating love, real love and not just the "feeling" of love, for a long time now. Most of us are infatuated with an ideal of love or "mate" and not with human beings.  We set up arbitrary parameters saying, "I will love you if... or as long as...".  These parameters provide an artifice of safety from which we expect our beloved other to protect us from all the many unpleasant feelings arising within the scope of intimate interaction. When our ideal of other does not coincide with the fact of other, we unabashedly turn toward our beloved with a vengeance, prepared to crucify him or her for imperfections and abandon our beloved, thirsty and trodden underfoot, along the dusty path of disappointment.  Joseph Campbell wrote, "Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love – and I mean love, not lust – is the imperfection of the human being." When love transcends the "feeling of love" it begins to resemble love itself.  Love isn't greedy or enamored with its own glossy, photoshopped, botoxed and puffed up self concept.  Love offers itself to be known and to know.  In so doing it opens our innermost, vulnerable, raw and imperfect self to be seen...by other and perhaps more importantly by ourselves.  There is no other way to bloom.  Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary, “Where the myth fails, human love begins, then we love a human being, not our dream, but a human being with flaws." 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

growth

We are always growing.  I have decided that I prefer to grow without bystanders shouting their suggestions in my ear or throwing shit balls at me promising compost.  But we are always growing.