Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poem of the Day

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
~ Ranier Maria Rilke ~

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peace On Earth, For Real

I received a beautiful little card yesterday in the mail, in which the image of a dove floats on an imperfect globe, watercolor greens and blues suspended in a violet, star-sprinkled, tie-dye heaven. "Peace" is written in a lovely, curlicue script across the top.

I posted it on the bulletin board next to my desk so that I can look at it every day...or, at least, until I don't have a wall to hang it on (tough year for many).

A most excellent friend reminded me recently that it's easy to write a best-seller--all that's required is to give people something that makes them feel good, in spite of the state of the world or themselves. I thought, "Yeah, hope and distraction in a pretty package." (Tough not to feel outright cynicism, in general.)

I can't offer hope for peace, sanity or any other evidence of connection in the way it is typically held out, as a carrot-on-a-stick reward for patient, long-suffering endurance of living. Neither can I offer you any sexy new technology designed to mainline a fountain of youth, cultural appeal and oblivion into your veins. Hope, in the accepted sense, is about "better things in the future". I'm sorry, but in reality, the future is right now. Postponement and denial of this is...exactly so.

There is only one place to be or to see, whether you sail on calm and enchanted waters, or hungry, stormy seas (especially then!). There is only one location on any map that points to the shining beacon, where packaged hope can be seen for the retail product that it is, complete with planned obsolescence (just nine-ninety-five!). That place, of course and on course, is You. Here. Now.

I am not speaking of the "you" presented to the world, or any role you play. I'm speaking of the eye and heart opened wide, perhaps scared, in pain or seasick, but nevertheless noting the peaks and troughs and how one begets the other. There is no victim or perpetrator of storms, you see--not in the Reality that you actually are! The legendary Safe Harbor is the simple act of dropping all ideas and descriptions about everything, just for a moment, long enough to clear the "education", self-medication, mass-hypnosis from your mind.

I know, easier said than done. We all find ourselves in "coping" mode. We exist in a vast energy network, from the smallest fractal cell to the largest, and everything we do individually both affects and is affected by everything and everyone, whether we are consciously aware or not. With billions of people on this planet and a media-driven, virtual hell in our faces everywhere we turn, it's very easy to succumb to a nightmare. Nothing seems good, easy or right anymore. Nothing seems worthy of faith, too many things hurt, and confusion is the dominant paradigm.


But that world and its belief system, heavy as it may seem, is fleeting and shallow as a shadow.

I am not saying this in denial of poverty, war, and sickness, or to sell an idea. I am saying that the "solutions", the answers we seek on both a personal and global scale, are only found right here, right now, in this moment. Too often, we hide below with our arms covering our heads, waiting for some leader or sign--a savior, a knight, a goddess or a white stag--to tell us that it's alright to come and shelter are over there, love is over here, esteem and direction are down the hall...never mind, it will just be brought to you, so you don't have to get off the couch!

There is some effort involved, alas. The instructions may be in a kind of language unfamiliar to you. If that is the case, then you are hearing a voice not pandering to your ego, for once. You are hearing something calling to your native intelligence, your innate creativity, your responsive beauty. I urge you not to dismiss it or ask some authority figure for a translation. Only you can unwrap this particular gift. In the end, you will wonder how you could have carried it within you all this time in such complete ignorance. You will be astonished at the worthiness of this bit of work, as the world unfolds itself to you in a priceless way that you could literally never imagine.

I ask you to consider your favorite symbol of hope, peace or beauty, and its actual location. Is it really somewhere "out there"? Is it really apart from you, in some other time and place when the world ends, or you lose twenty pounds, find a job, get through the holidays, stop smoking or talking or whatever else you compulsively do? Is it possible to look very clearly at Peace apart from its symbols and face value, to get all the way down to what it means to you, and then just live in it, even part-time? Living in peace and love means simply expressing a natural aspect of yourself. It is already there, before the symbols and the conditions you think must be met. To continue to believe in the "right" conditions for its emergence is to conveniently keep it out of your own range, and to make someone else responsible for its growth or death. In other words, your own growth or death. Now that requires a good deal of energy!

Honestly, the hardest part of this is admitting a fear of "failure" (and fears in general), and standing still in an apparent maelstrom of conflicting feeling. It is difficult to turn the light upon oneself and see, in such crystalline clarity, exactly where and why we withhold our love and vision. And for some reason, it is difficult to admit that we are the source of that light, which thankfully glows like the sweetest candle through even the muddiest glass of self-image.

But the stilling results in a sort of dis-stilling, a purification and unveiling of resources. Oddly enough, those means aren't arrived at with a five-year plan, and the reward isn't at the end of some timeline or packaged in a resolution. We don't have to wait to make peace with our fat, the credit-card company or so-called addictions; neither do we have to wait for various "world powers" to settle their endless differences. There is no condition attached to the availability of unconditional love. There is no shame in expressing it. There is no stigma in falling in love with the fearsome gorgeousness that Earth is always revealing to us--thus falling in love with oneself, without protective coverings and virtual distractions--and even more to the point, falling in love with Love to the extent that we become it.

I think most of us know by now that we don't need one more thing to buy into or to sell ourselves out of; we don't need to be told what is important and valuable. We know exactly what it is that we can't stick a price tag on. It lives even while "coping", and can't be turned into a commodity or a currency. It is writing and reading these words. It is restless with creativity and utterly still in its timelessness. You can hear it, see it and feel it right now because it is asking, right now, your attention.

All peace, all love to you, and the courage to let it live in what you say and do! This is what I wish for you, and what unwraps Itself through all seasons.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Inside-Out Dreams

I have a long history of dreaming about earthquakes, volcanoes and the motion of large bodies of water. This makes perfect sense in light of my "discovery" that I am, indeed, intimately tied to the Earth and her universe.

My son told me this morning that he had a vivid dream of Crater Lake, here in Oregon, which is, as the name implies, a very deep lake in the crater of a sleeping volcano. In the dream, the lake was warming, and he was picking up crystals and geodes which were appearing on the shoreline, while distant people were swinging on a huge rope-swing over the water. "I knew I couldn't swim," he explained, "but I wanted to swing--it looked fun."

He is seventeen years old, and just starting in on all the fun of risking one's life over deep waters.

I told him to make sure he has a flotation device.

There are many ways to look at such dreams and portents. There is no hard-and-fast analysis, no absolutely correct interpretation...the necessity and key lies in the looking and examination itself, in the attention given to the flow of that particular language. Not once have I ever been able to dismiss a dream or vision as "nonsense" or "irrelevant" to life, any more than I can look at a mountain in the distance or listen to the ocean and call it stupid or useless.

Personally, I experience volcanoes and earthquakes as the shifting and turning inside-out of the planetary expression of Self, human psyche and geology perfectly mirroring each other. It can be no other way, as none of this occurs separately from itself. And those crystals lying about on the edge of the volcanic lake are akin to the treasure uncovered when one dares to walk the inner shores.

It's quite obvious that we are collectively entering a cauldron of heated exchanges and transformation, and things are being exposed at an exponential rate, the likes of which we have never seen before in our brief "global communication" history. There are events waiting in the wings which the ultra-sensitive can already feel.

We do love a good drama, and tend to put a fearful spin on just about everything. Violence, poverty and increasing social tension seem to be more "in the face" than ever, and some extra caution or preparedness is justified. But keep in mind that an apocalypse is a revelation, an exposure, an uncovering. It is perhaps the end of a story, but never of the heart of Reality, which beats with an undying intensity and generosity, and has room for birth and beginnings as well as the destruction of outworn paradigms.

Artists, philosophers, dreamers and lovers of all kinds are actually the priests, priestesses and human representatives of the Deep, those that dwell near caves and wells and bottomless lakes, carrying various lights in strong contrast to the scary darkness and obscuring layers of dust, mist or jungle. We know without any doubt that there is a rosy warmth shining through the coldest expression of ice, and a vast peace holding all our turmoil in its cupped hands. We make sure, in the end, that this is not forgotten.

I'll be looking for you, on that distant shore. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009


Sometimes I get hit with a love wave so big that I literally must sit down.

Such was the case this morning, when I paused in the midst of my insanely busy life to recognize my own heart staring back at me.

Kinda funny--it resembled a computer, a messy desk, three or four "to do " lists, and you.

Stories are ending everywhere, I am too broke to even pay attention, and I get to drown in sweet, sweet love.

We do, all the time, underneath. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Losing Yourself

By the time a human is determined to be middle-aged (like yours truly), he or she has generally developed a very strong virtual self--a sort of default mental program consisting of patterned sensory impressions known as "memories", as well as imagined times and spaces occupied by representative images of our bodies and feelings. We call this bundle of thought "me", "myself", and "I".

All through a typical day, we return to this virtual character a million times, holding it like a touchstone to orient us in our personal map of the world and the game therein. In this way, we "remember who we are", and locate ourselves in what we perceive to be the larger scheme of things.

Even a little time spent observing how this process works begins to reveal an underlying honesty, an authentic quality of self that "generates" in the moment, a bit like an invisible source code. Something unnamed can observe the creation and adoption of images and thoughts upon waking in the morning, like a naked reality throwing on a layer of clothes against the chilly unknown, shuffling to a screen with that first cup of habit and calling up the role-playing game of the day. We agree that we are one type of character or another, with specific goals and tasks, and comfort ourselves with the general predictability of this world.

There is nothing wrong with such a life, and it can be successfully argued that these default selves are islands of "sanity" in the midst of what otherwise might be construed as chaos. Imagine an inability to remember your given name, address, family...we call this state of affairs "dementia", or some other form of mental illness. We say the brain has ceased to recognize, or cannot agree with, reality.

In truth, not much stands between the world we believe is safe and sane and the condition we refer to as "lost"--maybe a blow to the head or some other kind of shock. We carry a deep, primal fear of such a state, even though people who cross that line clearly adapt, in some way or another, to their new reality. We sane people often become, for them, the insane ones.

Perhaps it is this fear that keeps us from fully exploring the mentally indefinable Self that is awareness Itself, being the capacity for recognition, pattern-making and habit-forming, always with us as the matrix of our world. We all touch this base level of reality at some point, but most people withdraw immediately. It's as if we look into a mirror and find no reflection there. Scary.

But every time we believe we are returning to our mental/emotional talisman (Me) to orient ourselves, we are actually creating it on the spot. Something we cannot explain is doing something we cannot explain. Any explanation is just another point of view. So in our oceanic universe, we react as if we are small boats set adrift, and we must create a mooring-place to tie ourselves to, however momentary it is. We pretend, all our lives, a solidity and stability that our temporary identities can never possess. Indeed, it's the inattention to the creation of these "personalities" that brings up the stormy sea we try to guard against!

Most of us create a whole fleet of role-playing selves that "take charge" in various circumstances. On the surface, this works...but there is a downside to being unconscious to all this activity. Conflict between our interior characters is common, and unresolved, usually leads to exterior conflict of some kind. But even more painful are the false limitations posed by the belief that we are one role or another, or one "type" of person or another. The limitations are immediate and extensive, and we believe in them to the degree that we believe in our definitions and assessments of ourselves, almost all of which are socially imposed.

There was a time that I generally agreed that I was "the artistic type"--talented, but moody; prone to being antisocial, disorganized and idealistic, among other things. I used to begin and abandon projects on a whim, and this tendency fit quite neatly into my rebellious, slightly bohemian character. It didn't help my financial situation much, so eventually I concluded that I lacked self-discipline, and needed to work on developing some. Otherwise, I might end up starving, stereotypically, in a garret.

After a challenging period of deliberately finishing things (no matter what!), I was quite successful at bringing almost every endeavor to a satisfactory conclusion. But the original belief that I was somehow discipline-challenged remained as a sneaky saboteur, a chain I needed to hit the end of many times before I recognized it for what it was. It appeared over and over in every part of my life. It was an underground reason to avoid challenging new things, an excuse for staying within my "comfort zone" even when I desperately yearned to get out. I was afraid that I wouldn't meet my own expectations, afraid of biting off more than I could chew, and afraid of being response-able, because it sometimes hurt.

One day, I realized the true extent of freedom.

The temporary characters and their various roles in the game were--well, temporary!--and the vast majority of their habitual action simply stopped. The need to believe that I was somebody, and the right kind of somebody, was a crutch I could drop. I was, after all, not standing upon anything--I was the standing, Itself--understanding.

This kind of freedom determines my (now mostly unchained, unpropped) behavior and thus the scope of reality, the degree of my creativity and security. It's permissible, now, to follow new interests, explore possibilities and assign myself names I never considered before. I can, for instance, entertain the idea of being "a runner", whereas such an activity used to be for people who were far more disciplined than I! These days, I am free to lace up my shoes and indulge in an activity that feels good, for ten blocks or ten miles, ten minutes or ten years.

Even the more "positive" and nonthreatening patterns I hold are automatically questioned. I usually assume that Maria is fond of both chocolate and thunderstorms. However, sometimes chocolate is something the body neither needs nor wants, like standing on a hill in the midst of a shower of lightning. I am not bound by my loves to the point of physical peril. I don't have to be addicted to a substance, a point of view, or a lifestyle, as enjoyable as I may find my highly responsive senses and their stimuli to be.

In a way, I have become quite goalless, in the sense of using habitual patterns toward predetermined ends. Oddly enough, this "losing" of myself introduces me each day to a woman who is far more interesting, capable and creative than any self I could possibly dream up. I love her life, even full of twists and turns as it is; I never really know what might blossom from her heart next! Boredom is something I have not experienced in many years. Most stress is resolved by a day or two of downtime, of passive attending to Self both local and extended, doing nothing, really, about it all. Amazing, what a hot bath can accomplish!

Many of the things I used to do, think about, or worry over have proven to be unnecessary and energy-stealing--like carrying a heavy middleman which insists loudly upon its own value, while trying to keep the simple, most efficient, intelligent and direct connection hidden. At some point, I dropped the extra burden. I lost the rigid form of my mind, and discovered something easier, more flexible and almost weightless.

It certainly isn't the latest in technology, the coolest or most profitable's too simple, too available for that. It manufactures no dangerously edgy mind-toy, no artificial way out, no distraction that must be chased or repelled. Just beautiful, unpredictable and kaleidoscopic loving, consensus reality still intact...

Seen, though, for what it really is.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

...A person? A nation? Maybe an impersonation. :)

Our epic travels around the sun are taking the populations of the northern hemisphere into a time of increasing darkness, while we respond by turning up the heat and the lights. Stress is already being dialed up, as well--family stress, "holiday" stress, and conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder...right along with National Financial Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the clouds have moved back in, making the brief visits of sunshine seem precious. The artist in me is on high alert for those remarkably beautiful spears and cascades of brilliance, the heightened contrast that brings such gorgeous dimension to the sky and landscape.

I do love the light! Along with this true love is a corresponding appreciation of deepening shadows, and the natural downtime involved in approaching winter. My animal self wants to burrow under the covers, retreat to the back of the cave for longer periods, and hibernate. Not out of fear or depression, but in rhythm with the native cycles of being.

I'm convinced that much of our seasonal and social/political angst is due to a denial of this urge to deepen, to go within for a while. Some of us fear what we might find at the back of the cave, in the dark. Many years ago, I realized that interior forays are as well-lit by the beam of attention as exterior journeys are in the middle of a clear summer day. The inevitable discoveries are invaluable and necessary to the thriving of all aspects of life, even if the terrain and creatures encountered seem foreign. Much treasure is found in the willingness to venture below the surface, simply to shine an observational light upon oneself. It is a gift that truly "keeps on giving" long past our symbolic celebrations.

This is the time of year that feeds my contemplative soul, and not only am I unafraid, but I look forward to it!

"As above, so below" is an ancient observation that is certainly borne out as soon as one shines even a dim light on the human psyche. Depending upon the point of view, we are one universe of many galaxies, one world of many countries, one species of many members, even one god of many faces. Our complete nature is fractal that way; psychologically speaking, we experience ourselves as one person moving through time and space. In reality, we are many, many characters, each playing out a part, each with its own set of fears and desires and carrying an agenda. That nagging feeling of being "at war" with oneself is the inevitable conflict of an unexamined "subconscious" colony. The corresponding physical "fact" of our wars with each other is this ignoring (ignorance) taking further form as the world of disputing ideoligies and needs.

All of us have ideals that we adopt or develop as responses to our personal stories. Socially, it is important to us to feel secure, healthy, cohesive, attractive, balanced, loving, powerful in some way. Inevitably, this translates as a list of shoulds--the singular "I" should be thinner, wealthier, more caring, less timid, more objective, etc. In the quest to personify our ideals (thus, we believe, finding happiness), we tend to run into countless stumbling blocks along the way, in the form of an annoying--and sometimes destructive--self that can't stay out of the candy dish, consistently shows up late, refuses to accept the inevitable, wants to intimidate the neighbor or is still afraid of monsters in the closet. This rogue self seems to thrive in the face of our judgements about what is good, right and best for ourselves and all concerned. We give it lots of names--Ego, Satan, Because, Addiction, In Case, Biology, Them. We tend to treat it as an enemy that stands in our way or a trait to be vanquished, pretty much guaranteeing an energetic fight.

There is a different way, one which involves a mental pause, a descent through the tear in the fabric of one's world (we always leave this opening to put our heads through, and yes, pull our heads out!), akin to the instinctive burrowing of a mammal and the healing quest of a shaman. Our own intention to see is the very light we need; our attention to the process is exactly the vision that changes everything.

The sheer depth and horrific beauty of our underground suspends judgement for a time. This is good, because we are not here to praise or condemn what we find. The moment that we stand there with nothing in mind but the torch of awareness held up in invitation, the children of our deep begin to come forth. Oh, my. All ages, conditions, professions and types, fascinated by the rare appearance of light, anxious to tell all about themselves and their mostly unnoticed existence. It's like an entire world, just out of sight--but now, it can't be ignored!

Initially, much hunger and desperation may be encountered, along with every form of wounding known to humankind. Just the simple act of being there dissolves most of it. Things quiet down, and the most persistent and permanent resident characters of the underground become known. Aha--there is the sugar fiend! There is the abandoned child, the hangman, the joker, the fool, the princess, the visionary, the beach bum. Some of them spend all their time persecuting, some of them acting the victim role, some of them avoiding and some of them chasing. It becomes clear that they exist within for reasons that are quite logical to each of them; they are what they are, and they don't need changing. Attempting to change them or convert them, another judge springs to the fore, and another argument ensues.

A reconstructed role is not required, here. A different mask, a new set of clothes, a new coping behavior is not what this exploration is about. Open looking, naked observation is all there is. Feelings like fear and disgust soon reveal themselves as yet more characters of the underground, one more victim and one more judge. Nothing can hide from an intrepid light.

Inevitably, an ageless, solid security arises, an independent and utterly free sense of cohesiveness that has nothing to do with manipulation or pandering. It is discovered through simply recognizing what appears as an entity, character or feature in its own right, needing nothing in particular and granting no special power. Whatever it is exists fully and completely in the warmth of attention before dying a natural death; in truth, nothing exists before your awareness or after it. The size of the world, the quality of its being, is determined by the quality of attention.

At the back of the cave, the direct connection between what seems to be within to what seems to be without becomes obvious. At exactly the same point and time that we imagine we are characters standing here looking out at the world, we-the-world is looking into our interior. Each projects the other in a mirrored dance so close that only an imagination could discern any difference. I am looking out at you and looking in at myself, all at once. My imagination exists to draw lines between the two of us in different places, for different effects...or no lines at all!

The characters, either interior or exterior, both and neither, continue to appear. No threat now, no false masters. I can see them, finally, with compassion and an affection which appears to spring out of an underlying stability beneath the ceaseless change. I can see them clearly when I am not busy downsizing to characterhood, losing myself in the drama.

A little reflection goes a long way in the waning of a moon, a year, a system, or a self...eventually, we will outgrow our mirrors, and know that we are nothing but clear, full light.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walk With Me

There is a trajectory in the social layer of the world at the moment toward chaos and entropy. Personal, financial and political systems which seemed to serve us in the past are being exposed as inadequate, false or just too complicated to hold up their own weight. Relations are strained, and tension is mounting. Many people are throwing themselves into this story, pulling the pin, tossing the self, waiting for the explosion.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing...but, don't follow it! Let's go for a walk, instead.

Yes, you can fit it into your schedule (if I can, you can). No, you shouldn't be doing other things, pleasing other people, plotting some kind of overthrow or writing a different ending. The time of quantity may be over, but quality is something all of us are capable of intending and experiencing. Quality of life, of soul, of being.

It may seem as though you are disconnected from such a possibility, but you are not. Even if you spend your days in a big city working and socializing through a computer, go home to stare at your giant TV, and get your exercise on machines--no disconnection is actually possible. Your life, no matter how much you may long for numbness, is not virtual.

Everything you are experiencing at the moment is directly related to what you are thinking, the kinds of stories you tell yourself, and the type of fiction you believe. The only way to change the quality of your life, to prove what's real, is to step out into it, beyond your familiar ways, means and ideas! Reading about it is fine; theory is marvelous, preliminary exploration with caution all well and good. Even denying serves as a kind of proof. For the sake of your precious Being, for understanding and defragmentation, get out of your head for just a little while, and into the element of the Real.

Can you take your head with you? Sure! But an amazing thing happens when you do one small thing just a little differently, when you brave a tiny action, take a few moments to venture in the spirit of exploration-without-expectation.

Head changes. Mind becomes an ally instead of an enemy. Mind, body and spirit take in the change (however incremental), the intention (however tentative), and the actual substance of what is beneath your feet, under your hands, and flowing back and forth through all the gateways of whatever senses you are blessed to use. The shell of resistance begins to crumble. Beauty, possibility, strength and an elemental grace begin to take up their natural residence within and around you. Reality changes, bends, morphs, shifts until you admit what you really are, what it really is.

Trust me--it is something you do not have to believe into existence. It is not a case of having faith in the unseen or the seemingly impossible. It is made real, manifested, grown by simple willingness to be open, to drop your grasping in favor of what is much, much bigger than your ego and all its temporary desires.

I took the picture above just yesterday, amazed at what flows into and out of Being. This is not something I have to invent...a soft Autumn lull, ageless rock, trees and water, delicate fern and swift mushroom. But the beauty is not limited to some location visited by an awestruck female with a is found everywhere, in everything--slums, dreams, problems both personal and universal, scary things, violent things--even your resistance to being everything you sense, on some deep level, that you are.

It is not something that must be negotiated, bought or rented for the day; it does not need therapy or pills; it does not come after dark nights or war or extensive retreats. It does not depend on your involvement, because it is here, regardless, and ever-willing to blossom and expand with attention. Even if you manage to successfully convince yourself that no such love exists, such love is willing to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye, just for you, and will never abandon you. Ever.

Please come.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Whole Truth

My grandson, like all babies, is a shining example of the truth inherent in all of us. Love, playfulness, curiosity, innocent wisdom...honestly happy, hungry, tired, frightened...states passing like sunshine and rain.

Somehow we bury this with mind telling us how to be and not to be, and we live only a part of ourselves, as expressed in this beautiful poem:

Half life
We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream
barely touching the ground
our eyes half open
our heart half closed.
Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.
Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.
Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.
~ Stephen Levine ~
(Breaking the Drought)

Even through all of this heartbreak and seeking, the truth smiles and reaches for you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This, Too, Shall Pass

Someone I love very much called me in the middle of the night recently, to tell me goodbye. To tell living goodbye.

The conversation, which was filled with despair and the desire to "go to sleep and never wake up", was really a searching for a reason to continue, and a reaching for love in tangible form. This was a heart at the bottom, thinking it had lost everything and everyone.

Hearing that kind of pain is like sitting in an acid bath. Tears pour out; I'm thinking no no no, while understanding on some level that suicide is as valid an option as anything else.

Protests that the world is still beautiful and life worth living can't reach a mind in that state. I want to explain that Life has indeed yanked the rug out from under a bunch of illusions, and right in this moment is urging the ultimate letting-go--not into physical death, but into what is real, living and breathing and holding you.

Incarcerated in a wounded mind, there is no proof.

Fear holds up shining examples of just the opposite--hate, rage, injustice, addiction, poverty, struggle. Weariness says that this will continue, long into a future with death at the end. So what's the point? I'm tired, I just can't do this anymore.

I'm not there to hold you in my arms, so I hug myself. I say I love you. I love you. Listen to me! I love you.

It's all I have to offer. I don't know what else to say.

As I write this, there has been no self-murder. Of course, I am relieved. But I grieve as if the alternate reality stepped in, as if I'm preparing for a funeral, because I can't offer proof in a bottle, in a safety-net, in predictability or power. All I can give is myself, someone who dissolved and lived to tell about it.

I sit on the porch and let the sun warm my back while I cry. I put my head on my knees and feel my body blown wide open, for the closing of my eyes, for all the sounds coming out as birds and wind-chimes, the noon siren at the fire station, the leaves falling, pain collapsing into love.

I think about you as a baby, as a child, admonishing your friends not to hurt bugs or plants because they have feelings. I keep all the veils down so I can stay clear and clean, and let you run through me like a river, from the source to the source.

I know it hurts...but stay with it, stay with me. I love you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back To School Happiness

In case you ever wonder why a normally intelligent, very busy woman would take time to write, over and over from any conceivable angle, about the same subject...

It's because, my loves, I am convinced of the existence of actual happiness. Not through logic or deduction or wishful thinking, but through experience.

Here is just a smattering of statements I've recently heard:

I don't like myself.
I have completely f***ed up my life.
I should be thankful.
I should have made other choices.
I can't think of anything to be happy about.
Life is so hard.
I have nothing to show for anything.
I just need to get my head right.
I am tired/broke/depressed/hurting/confused/lost/pissed off/done.
I don't care anymore.

Nothing is wrong with this kind of thinking. I've harbored all of it. I've learned to pay attention to the actual life span of these thoughts, and their power or substance, which amounts to exactly nothing. I no longer believe them. I am so uninteresting to them, these days, that they hardly ever even bother to appear.

Despair and suffering are interesting, but there comes a point when natural "evolution" or maturity demands an expanded, more effective mode of being.

Maybe we all have to go through this to learn exactly what doesn't work. It seems stunningly obvious that wallowing in conflict and unhappiness does not allow happiness. Living "problematically"--that is, adopting "problems" at every opportunity--guarantees Really Important Issues to tackle. Some seem to thrive on that.

Please understand that I am not unsympathetic to personal issues, world issues, universal issues. But if we must have them, let's keep them extremely basic. We are biological beings, so we need to eat, stay warm and have some contact with our own kind. That's pretty much the extent of our "problem". I'm speaking on a personal level, here, where all issues, like war and disease and excessive violence, originate.

If you, beautiful one, are angry and depressed, there is nothing out in the imaginary world causing your fuming and despair. The conflict originates in imaginary you against an imaginary you, either acknowledged or swept under the mental rug.

Allow me to introduce a different, maybe even "evolved" you.

Sit still for a moment, and look around. Notice everything you see, hear, feel, taste, smell. Notice your thoughts and all their judgments about these things. Notice how they whisper that there is a better way, life, body, bank account, spouse, drug, place, situation, time, etc., etc., etc.

Notice the shame you feel, the unworthiness, the frustration, because you have not yet gained this Betterness, or even ascertained exactly what it is. You just know, somehow, that this isn't it.

Alright...this is your brain at work, doing what it is essentially set up to do, but taken by you and all your training to a new level of chaos. We can enhance this craziness all the way into mental breakdowns, blind violence and even suicide. But such activity ignores the other You, and that would be a real tragedy.

The searching that your mind is doing is meant to find you food and water, shelter and a bit of company. Do you have these things? Do you have access to these things? Give thanks to your mind for helping to find and enjoy the basics. After that, the searching and longing is purely for creation, for the bringing meaning and beauty into being. That's it. So if you are frustrated, you are not taking the time to explore what is meaningful or beautiful for you.

Next step is to employ the full extent of consciousness, right here and now.

So understand that all your senses at work, all your thinking and emotion, and everything you are sensing "out there"--light, sound, temperature, muscle tension, anything you can experience, in fact--is one big Nature. (Nature is a good name to use, as we already understand it as a kind of force not under our control.) Even the movement in and out of sensual range of "others" is all one big Nature. Not part of it, mind you. This Nature is not separate from you. You don't exist "within" it or "outside" of it...these are just ways of speaking. Nature is so large that it has no edges, and so involved with anything you can think of that it has no barriers.

The mind, Nature working, cannot understand the size and scope of Nature in words or numbers. It can't explain exactly how this Nature works, since its own process is...well, Nature working!

Any conclusions by Nature about Itself would be akin to the ocean using itself to cut itself into separate drops of saltwater.

How does this apply to "problems"? Well, any issue, as well as any explanation, is Nature, also, doing what it does. Follow me, so far?

Since we are so used to thinking of ourselves as alone, cut off and apart from what seems to be a hostile world, I would like you to consider the idea--just as valid--that you, sitting here with your sensations, thoughts and feelings, are the sum total of reality. That there is nothing other than what you are experiencing in this moment. That there is no Better. That this is it, all, everything. There is no hostile world out there. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, that is the world. There is no separate you...the stuff you can see, like the end of your nose, your body, how and what it feels, combined with anything else in your sphere of existence--that IS you, all of it. Go ahead...try to separate your senses from the world. Notice that your senses ARE the world. When you move and think, you carry reality with you, and it unfolds through your moving and thinking and feeling, on the spot.

Everything you know, and all that is familiar to you, mapped out and lodged in your memory, is (to use a metaphor) your Dream. In the dream, you think and believe that you are a single body in a big world full of stuff, and you "prove" this to yourself by apparently moving around in this seemingly still space on an apparently solid surface. In a memory you call "yesterday", you went to school or work in a building which is still there "now". You remember this again and again. The building stays the same. Are you sure? How do you know? How do you know that you don't unfold and create all of reality, complete with a "memory" function, just for you, so quickly that time is too slow to catch it?

Just asking.

Asking is good, questioning reality is good, because it keeps definitions flexible. To this huge Nature, such questions are pointless, as Nature is perfectly lucid and aware as Itself, like the ocean is perfectly oceany without having to dissect itself into single drops labeled "saltwater". Nature doesn't "care" in the emotional sense about maps and conclusions, or how many problems you decide you want to create. It simply cooperates with your maps and conclusions, since It is you and you are It. What else would happen?

The ocean doesn't "ask" for waves, starfish, dead seals, great white sharks or islands. In the same way, we don't ask for cancer, war, dysfunctional relationships, genius, or enlightenment. But all these things are what we are, what It is. The value of any aspect of Nature is never set in stone, but is decided by you. In other words, your own value is granted by you. Not by society, not by accident, not by anything but the width and depth of yourself.

In this dream, from the "perspective" called human or "yours", there is a giant ability to create whole worlds just by changing focus. Widen the aperture all the way, and we have Nature--infinite, unbounded, pure potential. Narrow it, and we have "levels"--universe, galaxy, solar system, world, society, human, cellular, quantum...and the focus can be narrowed even more, paths marked, maps made, theories born. Nature, flexing. Nature naturing. Nature, changing focus, creating problems and solving them.

Simply considering any of this as possibility takes the pressure off. Are there really set ways to live? Does a person really have to stay inside the lines, work nine-to-five, achieve, attain, conform, in order to be happy? Could it be that happiness exists and is recognized because it is already what we are? Could it be that we simply need to stop endlessly expanding our inner conflicts in order to recognize that we (Nature) are happy, by nature? What if we are just as blissful as we are sad, just as healthy as we are sick?

If the natural setting of Nature was fear, would all this variety, this endless questing into parts of Itself unknown, even happen? What if the real definition of fear is suppressed happiness?

Happiness pregnant, happiness forming, happiness waiting to explode? If it did explode, what would happen? Would the stars go out, would your father have a heart attack? Would you die? Really?

Is it possible to experience happiness--also known as love--in the face of the economy imploding, your lover smoking too much pot, your girlfriend cheating, your bones deteriorating, your pet rat, pet project or pet-whatever dying, the earth shifting, the cold coming, the pantry emptying and all that?


Can you love your own weakness, your tendency toward addiction, your reluctance, your ignorance, your denial, your paranoia, your sheeplike tendency to do whatever is easy and jump when you're barked at, your excessive aggression, the fact that you still somehow believe in love even though you said you wouldn't...

Yes. Secretly, you do. You may not want to admit it, but you are incredibly strong in your tenderness, in your empathy, and your capacity for beauty. You know what's real, what's Natural.

Focus there...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating:

Real responsibility can be taken up without suffering when the ability to respond has not been suffocated.

Every single moment offers us an opportunity to feel it--which is the only thing these moments deeply ask! They don't ask you to recreate yourself as an object of attention. They don't ask you to build in your mind a long, dead corridor of similar days that you somehow must struggle through. And they don't ask you to meet a certain set of conditions before you can receive.

Don't toss a blanket over messy parts of your life. Open up to all the things you sense (which are the senses), think (they are the thought process) and feel in your heart (emotion, the motion of energy). Admitting all of yourself puts your Being in the position of knowing these things...not whether they are good or bad, true or untrue, right or wrong...just that they are.

The cessation of fighting this knowledge automatically creates a clear space in which to breathe, in which appropriate action or non-action can be embodied. Response is no longer a task, but a joy. Look at the things arising! Look how temporal they are! Feel how mountaintops and deep valleys are born also in our soaring freedom and darkest what you actually are has a planetary face, an energy-moving face, a thought-appearing face, a sensual face. You seem to move amongst your surfaces, your creations, every day--but moving among them is also bringing them into being, containing, and releasing.

Yes, that is You. Here. Now.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Shift

It is as impossible to describe the point between ordinary and awakened consciousness as it is to describe a line between seasons. One day, some clue arises pointing to the reality of Fall, when just a week ago it was Summer. The season gathers momentum and seems to peak, but always carries within its movement the entire cycle of the year.

Insight often descends with a crash loud enough to awake the dead, thunder and lightning swirling, guaranteed to get the necessary attention. Violent storms can bring about an immediate concern for personal safety and an instant assessment of where one is standing. The focus narrows to now. In just such a way, unusually heightened focus in even ordinary weather brings attention to feeling, to state of mind, to size of being.

Some say that a serious forgetting of oneself and devotion to service is necessary to break out of ordinary suffering. Others say that intense attention to the smallest detail of experience in the moment is the proper prescription. Each of these ideas is perfectly valid, as one leads to the other, like day to night and back.

But people want to know what it's like on "the other side". On the other side, one can't know, because there is no other side. It becomes crystal clear that, not only am I looking directly at what I was seeking, but I have never been apart from it at all.

Some teachers are fond of saying that nothing is necessary in the "attainment" of enlightenment. It is true that I can look back at the struggling with a laugh, and point out that I was busy chasing my own tail. However, I truly don't know what is "necessary", and what isn't. Post-shift, an immediate understanding arises that whatever arises is "necessary". Emphasis upon relevance or irrelevance of any given physical, mental or emotional situation is entirely ours. In this, we have absolute power and complete freedom.

On the other hand, ego is dead. Everything in life moves of its own accord simultaneously, without cause, without end, without concern. Being stops positing a fundamental "I" which must control or submit. In that moment, "I" am plunged into the far reaches of reality. This is a poetic way of saying that I have the capacity to not only be aware of life, but as life. Not an echo of being, not an effect of it, but directly the whole of it. I can tell you that it is so whole, it can never be broken!

Still, there is "I" as a kind of technique, a shorthand, a bridge from one side of me to the other. A teacher might pounce on that assertion: Who is it that uses this "I" as technique, shorthand or bridge?

Why, no one, of course--and everyone! We do, to both ask and answer that question! We do, to point out the relevance/irrelevance of asserting and questioning and being, as we like to, out of love or frustration or whatever it is at the moment.

There is no above or below in our capacity as thinking, feeling, languaged/speechless Being. When the inevitable shift occurs, it turns out that, far from all questions being answered or points being made or goals being reached, there is a cessation of the impulse to create all these points in space and time. An unwinding occurs when it is seen that none of these big questions will ever be answered to our mental satisfaction, as mentalizing is not intended to make things whole, but to tear things apart.

A different season emerges, carrying both teacher and student, answers and questions, the cycle of life and death, and the highest skill involved in unknowing. That skill feels like the opening of a heart, literally and metaphorically. All I can do is open, and open, and open. The point of living becomes the awareness of places where this is not allowed and the exploration of these tightly grasped reflexes. One by one, they relax, and circulation is restored.

Love returns.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It has been an interesting summer, in which many people have checked out and checked in...lots of projects and extra demands. I want to apologize for not addressing questions and comments sooner. My thanks to those who read these posts...I am not a "teacher" in the formal sense, but I'm happy to participate in an exchange of ideas, or explorations--such as this one, on "The Way In":

I’ve been enjoying reading your blog for several months now. I find these last two entries particularly interesting, as I am at a place where I am looking at the whole concept of “story.” It appears that in non-dual circles there is the idea that we wake up from the “story” – aka – the dream, and the “stories” dissolve, and we no longer participate in the story. It has been my experience, however, that when one has “awakened”, one awakens *to* the dream or story, not *from* it. In other words, you realize that it’s *all* just a story, whether a story of being victimized, or a story of enlightenment or liberation… Once one “awakens” or should I say once That which Is wakes up to Itself, or, once That which chooses the story to be lived – ie: “your” story – once That storyteller wakes up, “you” realize it’s all just a story, a dream! And the dream story continues. You continue living life the way it is. The only difference is you *know* it is just a story, but you keep living it, *aware* of it, as opposed to being caught in it unconsciously. (sounds dualistic I know). It seems it’s about living life as it is – knowingly – with awareness, with inspiration and yes feeling, passion and creativity – even humor. But some in the non-dualistic community give the impression that one becomes immune, living aloof from “the rest” – in their non-dualistic ivory towers – which is just another dream world as far as I can see… Maybe you can address this more...?

Thanks for your offering here. It is much appreciated.

You are most welcome. :)
It has been my experience that, rather than becoming "immune" to suffering after awakening to the story, one, instead, has the strength, fortitude and perhaps curiosity to actually enter deeply into that state to see what it is. None of us are immune to physical or emotional pain. It is true that a great deal of it falls away, instantly seen for the compulsive grasping that it is...however, there are deep rifts and losses, major injuries and fears that seem to be part of our individual landscapes.

These features beg and long for exploration--not in support of the story of victimhood, but rather in the spirit of open willingness to feel them all the way through. If it appears, it is meant to be felt. The necessary degree and depth of this "feeling of" and exploration becomes more and more obvious as a person traverses the full territory of themselves. There comes a time when one can discriminate between a chattering, habitual thought/feeling (Oh--you again? Hi! Now go away!) and something with deeper roots that is asking to be followed.

The "language" of nonduality is such that it does have that "ivory-tower" feel to it. All the storying and identifying and so forth really is just that...our active minds are "set up" to storify everything, to create beginnings, plots and endings; however, there is also a "silent" quality of mind that is recognized not to be apart from this activity, but more a matrixing and vantage point where the origin of all stories is clearly experienced. Not from a "higher" place, but more from the heart of it.

Having said all that, there is a deep shift in realization, in which the absolute pointlessness of storytelling, clinging, polarizing, etc. is glaringly obvious. I think this is the place where lots of people stick. It's a perfect hangout for an ego that senses its own demise...a ledge of semi-denial on the face of a cliff, high above the silly people that believe themselves, but below the "holy leaping-off place" of absolute admission. That jump is probably the most painful and terrifying decision ever, as it involves complete honesty. Ironically, one lands back in the sea of humanity, in the ocean of dreamworlds and stories...but not the same, not blind. At that point, a person can decide to pack it all up and move to that cave in Tibet, or go back to work at Wal Mart. Bliss is located in either place. Love is no longer an item, a location, a reward.

The degree of participation in the story is always optional. Thing is, "the story" is not something out there, standing by itself, as if there literally was a giant, sequined Veil of Illusion blocking the view that needs to be torn assunder! So the degree of participation in oneself, which is all of Being, said and unsaid, is what we're pointing to, here. "Duality" lies in being aware of the story. "Nonduality" lies in being aware as the story...which is when the entire thing dissolves, having lost its name!

I woke up to the fact that, not only is life in my face, it IS my face, all of it! This used to be a threat, somehow, but now it is a joy. It is as if I present myself with a gift, every moment of every day, whether I am high, low, or in-between; whether I am creating a story or sitting in an absence of spacetime. There is literally nothing between you and I, as we are a continuum, points of contact in Contact Itself.

I accept this gift, and toss it over to you. :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Greater Depression

This post goes out with my depressed friends and loved ones in mind, as well as my happy friends who are counseling the suffering. My heart breaks for you. I want to stop the killing, smash the television, rescue your pet, get you some respect and pick up the baby. I want to tell you that this, too, shall pass; that there really is a reason to keep slogging through the mess you think you're in, and that beauty is just a breath away. I also want to tell you a further truth--what is coming is most definitely much worse, and much better, than what you are experiencing at this time. Your sole job is to simply recognize these two faces and listen to your own heart. Not your ever-judging, ever-fearing mind. There is nothing needing fixing. Please, just attend. The "right thing" comes naturally. Deep peace to you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tale of a Comfort Zone

The truth is in here.

Truth, like deceit, wears many faces. The fearful masks of deceit seem to be an attempt to lead one away from truth, while the masks of truth could be designed to lure a human into itchy curiosity about what's underneath.

I say "seem" and "could be", because however terrifying or gorgeous the layers of the mind, they are exuded by the same intelligence.

Tell me the truth of an oyster. Is it the tender animal organs? The pearl that could form within? The shell so tough that it takes determined strength to pry it open? Is it the seabed, the fact of the ocean soup, earth/air/fire/water, what? The truth of an oyster is all of this. The truth is also none of it, since the Intelligence at work cannot be described or contained, as it will always and also be the describer and container.

The truth of a human seems to display in a similar fashion, the fragile animal living within a series of calcifications that most are too fearful to shed. It is what it is. But here in this story, humans are curious, reaching and generally fun-loving by nature. Growth, fulfillment and the regular discovery of one's own pearls are part of the natural program. Why-oh-why would such a being deny, attempt to escape, routinely sabotage or even fight this process to the death?

Theories abound. We call them causes and effects, and use our ideas to create methods of healing the malfunction. We say that such misery and suffering is environmental, genetic or both. We say that dis-ease is inevitable, that our sick society produces sick people stuck in sick situations, and indeed, this is one form of truth.

I was almost a professional victim, myself. It is difficult, in our current legend, not to identify with being victimized by everything, and I dabbled in this career for a while. After all, my childhood included various forms of abuse--yes, even the really bad ones--as well as some hard times known as "poverty". This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I aligned myself with some fairly violent and addicted characters in my young adulthood.

There were a few very dark periods in which I suffered immensely and thoroughly, wondering how on earth anyone would want to live on Earth for a period of seventy or eighty years, and how I could muster up enough courage to get the hell off this planet. Fortunately, I had babies, and they regularly gave me reasons to live--not the least of which was being on the receiving end of the absolute purity, love and confidence of their tiny-human grins and expressions of delight at the simplest of things. This was a Truth, I realized, not just infantile, but human. I remembered that delight in my own childhood, which flourished in the least amount of natural radiance, in spite of the senseless violence or depression participated in ritualistically by adults.

Wanting to be there for my kids, wanting sanity more than any insurance policy, I sought various forms of therapy, several times. I paid people to listen to me talk myself into corners and back out again; I paid people to give me some form of structured thinking, some rope to follow out of my own whirlpools; I paid in an attempt to educate myself in the theories of self. I had a burning desire to get to the bottom of The Truth, whatever that was, and perhaps that is why I eventually stopped seeking therapy. I was offered ideas, one hour of adult contact (however professional) and medication. I was offered several diagnoses--perhaps I was "bipolar", "clinically depressed" or a statistical victim of childhood trauma. At one point, I exhibited all the symptoms of what is now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wanted more than these disease names. I didn't want to be comfortably, numbly identified as an incurable statistic, with nothing to look forward to but med changes.

I wanted what my babies showed me, which ironically I knew how to preserve and protect in them to a great extent, in spite of the state of the world and my personal history! See, the truth was constantly in my face, which was why I couldn't see.

My point is, there comes a place in the therapy game where one understands, even faintly, that this is one more comfort zone, one more mask, one more identity to hide behind. Yes, it's better (in most cases) than acting out on the street. Yes, it has it's place. And going to a meeting where you get to play the part of someone lost and struggling and making occasional breakthroughs can be fun. Yes, fun. Like Mardi Gras, like a carnival, like a movie, like...

It can kill time, offer a relieving distraction, and definitely give one a safe place to "lose it", to grieve and rage and howl...if that's what you want to do.

I had to reject the clinical identity. I could "legitimately" call myself a victim, right now, of abuse in childhood and marriage; a victim of social ills, earthquakes and climate change, government and doctors, nasty landlords and dog bites, poverty, conspiracy, the school system, the church, mass hypnosis, menopause, apathy, others-in-general, or my own stupidity. Perhaps I could even be a victim of my tendency to victimize, or to judge, or to just "not get it".

Oh, the comfy shells we grow...

But I am not a victim of anything or anyone. I am not separate from these or any scaly husks I imagine in my psyche; I am not separate from the not-so-tender love pats (more like wallops) that the universal current administers. My imagining that there is an innocent self that is somehow "punished" by circumstance is an activity of the whole, spinning out the sacred geometric patterns and apparent random chaos that express this, painting the outsides of pearls and the insides of humans. Knowing this is freedom from the masks of reality--comedy or tragedy, truth or deception. Masking, my loves, is voluntary, while loving is not!

Loving is not. I can't volunteer to love or not to love, because it is the loving that does the deciding. The love I am talking about precludes the idea that I am one thing loving (or unloving) another. Any identity I can "adopt" is subsumed, presumed, assumed in that which I already am. An ocean and its oyster are two faces of the same process, as are a chicken and an egg, a human and a fear. Love is the activity of it all. "Being in love" is the awareness of the activity which lives both inside and outside time.

This activity is going on always, every second.
Babies and oysters know, and invite you in with their smiles and with the sheer unlikeliness of pearls.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Middle of the River

When I experience a sticky inner storm that seems like it may be around longer than a few minutes, I often go to a river (or some other body of moving water). The motion, sound and temperature calm, soothe and exemplify what is real and speaking heartsense.

I had just such a conversation the other day, sitting on a rock in the middle of flowing compassion. I was busy "letting go", I thought. I went there consciously, with that purpose in mind--to let go of a painful situation, let it all flow downstream. I am well-versed in the value of this letting-go intention. It brings a much greater awareness of my part in the creation of suffering. But on this day, though I spent quite some time in the middle of the river, and put my hands and feet in the cold water, and cried, and recalled deliberately anything I had been avoiding, the letting-go was insufficient. I only felt marginally better. There was still some kind of residue in my heart and on my hands that the flowing water would not take away.

I thought about leaving, about calling it good and going home to my distracting responsibilities. But I couldn't. I was tired. The rock was a magnet that pulled my spine into its contours and my blood into eddies. There was some point where I truly gave over to the ministrations of the river, a distinct moment in which sound and feeling took on a different quality--very intimate, very thorough. The dampness, the buzz of passing insects, the clouds I could see floating down the parallel course between the treetops above me--everyone at once informed me in the true nature of ease. I was reminded about my place in the world, should I choose to imagine one, and the arrogance involved in the pushing away of pain. I had imagined that I was loosening a grip and opening my fists, but until that moment, I was not receiving. And receiving is the balance of letting go.

I was reminded--literally re-minded--and I will pass this shape of things to you, in case you need it. Please read slowly (like the deliberate drifting of a leaf).

There is the story (whatever it may be), and when the story is perceived to be no longer concurrent with reality, there is an attempted abandonment or release of the story. But the release is the continuation, in a way, of something that was never more than an idea in the first place. There is nothing to let go of, since my fists closed on emptiness. Yet...

The events to which I attach a personal storyline have a fullness, a shine both foreign to and reminiscent of myself, like a mirror beacon in the wilderness of being. They guide me to exactly what I need to know. It is only in the dropping of the arbitrary "end of the story" that I can actually see what this knowing is only in the letting go of the letting go that the river settles into a suddenly willing space, to do its swirling and cleansing and reshaping.

Next thing you know, the water is the story of my body and senses. The hollowness that was painful is recognized as room for something so close to me, I could never choose an ending; a story that I can't tell alone, to myself, but that the world can speak to Itself, blissfully, through this.

Did I lose you?

We write very simple plots of gain and loss, honor, betrayal and romance. But all of our stories stick, because the fascinating main character is "I"--what I get, what I lose. The elusive state of "happiness" is the point--happiness for this "I". But our ideas of happiness are incredibly flat and one-dimensional, painfully thin and non-nourishing. Smoke where there could be fire, or an old, flickering bulb pretending to be a sun. Vision is obscured or incomplete. And it is this lack of vision, due to our reflexively familiar limiting of the Story down to something we imagine we can understand, feel without a threat, or cope with, that produces such dissatisfaction and disgust.

When sight is restored, all points of view are seen as necessary to Happiness. Not the pale, imagined happiness that an "I" can manage to sneak off with without too much, more like the harmonic bliss of an orchestra of perfectly-complimenting sounds...the rock star goes to a cabin in the wilderness alone, with enough battery-power to listen to Vivaldi, backed up by crickets and wolves. The next time he picks up a guitar, his soul flows out, unimpeded, having been stretched in ways one could never, ever plan, by a story so much greater and so much more intimate than we could ever imagine. Happiness sings out in longing, anger and triumph across the strings of an instrument, singing of itself, to Itself. That is the point. That is always the point.

So in an honest letting-go, there is nothing left to replace the feeble plot line. But I am the author of something that begins and ends in places far outside (and inside) my interpretation of experience. It's a story so vast in its complexity that I will never be able to finish it, and so simple that I can write it without using one word.

The river shows me how.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heart of the Edge

I delight in the stark simplicity of various expressions of the "Perennial Philosophy", in which all experience boils down to the single crystalform I am That. Following anything back to its origin, those three words are probably the best a brain can do when it comes to verbalizing a human reality.

Nothing more needs to be said. We can all retire, now. :)

But here I am, an artist in a box of colors with pure, blank surface forever...a kid in a giant silly-putty universe...a self-spawning vortex. Scribbling, shaping and living/dying are details, beautiful, sacred and immersion-worthy! Immersion is attention. Attention is opening. Opening is feeling, viscerally and beyond.

What is that "thing", that consciousness that notices, loves, attends and opens? God, Love and Nature are good names. But there are no names, no symbols or representations that can fully and adequately capture the scope or the nuance of the metaphysical, alchemical reaction known as "this". People like myself keep on trying, though, convinced of the absolute value and finding great joy in the occupation.

I am interested in trying to evoke in others that indescribable feeling-state which involves much more than sense data. Senses are almost like "gateways" in and out of an utter mystery which all experience and all phenomena can only metaphorically describe. They are elemental and initiatory, the way an acorn can become an oak, or bread, or compost.

Fully "engaged" senses are willing teachers, open books, endless manna of potential for the soul. They always offer "extrasensory" perception, a refined sensitivity to what always is, as a sort of extension course, a deeper plunge into reality. In practical terms, this translates to vastly improved communication with oneself, and therefore, greater trust and increased openness, leading to greater stability. To put it graphically, even if you find yourself wandering around in carnage, it is experienced as God's guts, and your own. You cease to respond as a victim of senseless circumstance and have the option of acting with sensible (and sense-able) compassion. That kind of love, you see, is our basic design, program, structure, or however you'd like to think of it. We have to overlay it with a lot of garbage in order to get to the point of pathology.

Someone said--forgive me, I can't remember who--that love is like a basic immune response to dis-ease. So true. And it's what happens when we allow healing.

Love is a resolution, in both senses of the word. A resolution to love is a dedication to openness, an intention to awareness. And love--Big Love--is the resolution of the basic tension that we all are. We are like an invisible line between two primal conditions--an original duality, if you will--one which is eternal and unchangeable, and one which is in a state of constant and complete change.

We experience ourselves as this tension as we live in relationship to ourselves, each other and all of life. On one level, we relate to the world from a contained point of view--or a series of nested containers, perhaps beginning with the very local boundary of the body, nested in a community, a country, a planet, a galaxy. On another, we are aware of the fact that whatever container we identify with is somehow "permeable" to all the others, and that actually, we aren't sure where we begin and end. We are some kind of a "whole".

All life long, there is a fascinating pull between our timeless and our "timed" identity. It's a source of war, eternal suffering and struggle, or a source of creation and deep realization of harmony. There is no conflict when one finds the inherent flexibility to "straddle the line". There is simply appropriate and perfect motion with oneself as a kind of third alternative, which feels like a very passionate, always sought-but-realized kind of love. The container of being becomes both partial and indivisible, a sort of unbounded body which fills all and is open to all.

It is nothing less than ecstasy to "contain" these seeming opposites, to be free enough to know that they are created in an instant by This when a stepping-stone in emptiness is desired. It is nothing less than utter lucidity in an ultimate dream, in which things like silly-putty, attention and metaphor can conjure themselves from the glowing river of imagination. Upon arrival, there is no going back, because the new address involves at least a foot in every state...where we can all retire, now. :)

So I'm off to pick tomatoes and blackberries...