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...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Skidding Sideways

It is quite common, here in a "transportation" age, to think of life as something we ride through. Our vehicle may brave hills-with-a-twist like a roller-coaster, possess the speed of a bullet train, the time-hopping view of the Eight Mile High club, or the sedate patience of a moped. But life is a journey, a highway, a flight plan; we try to stay on track, buckled down, keeping arms and legs inside, with at least one hand on the steering wheel, tiller, or what have you. If someone or something else is driving, we place our faith and trust there (or in the substance ingested to numb the fear of crashing/never getting off the ground).

We all have our various reasons for traveling the speed, distance and terrain that we do, as well as the type of navigation that we use in an attempt to get to our destination--which is hopefully a lengthy ride with many stops in places like Happiness, Fulfillment and Wisdom. Paradise, of one sort or another, is the secret ultimate goal, the place where we get off the train, out of the car, or to which we make one final ascent.

I love flying, amusement-park rides and other mild adrenaline rushes (except the enforced tailing of the guy doing forty-five miles per hour in a sixty-five zone!). But the Life Vehicle is the "mind", and it is composed of stuff much flimsier than metal, fiberglass or wood. It's usually built, in the interest of "survival", of expectations, wishes and various emotional investments. We plan, we map, we choose the means of getting between birth and death with as much care as possible, given the information that we are provided by our education and our senses. Nevertheless, along the way, glitches, breakdowns and canceled flights are common. Confusion reigns, traffic is thick, and the operator of the pilot car seems to be high, stupid, or asleep at the wheel. Or maybe it's the planners, the cartographers, or the king.

It really doesn't matter who we ultimately blame our misfortunes on. Eventually, even the toughest mental vehicle has a breakdown. Here we are, cruising along, and suddenly the wheels or the wings fall off. There's a crash, or at least an undignified skid, and we find ourselves sitting in a pile of junk in the middle of the road.

When this happens, it's usually due to the loss of something we consider to be a major gear or component of our planned survival system. A career, a marriage or a heartbeat stops, or identity is called into question in some other way. It always feels like a failure and a heartbreak, somehow. All the time, effort, care and love we put into our belief and--snap! Just like that, it's gone.

We feel that, if we are vigilant, lucky or wealthy enough, we can trade in or trade up forever. We can choose a new path, a new spouse, a new religion. Right? Accept stuff and move on. Get a better body, a younger playmate, a new way of thinking, a new drug, a shiny new way to race. Or, make every effort you can to repair your current situation, using ingenuity, elbow grease and spare parts from self-help books. Someone hurry up and invent a molecular "beaming" device!

There are a few of us who get tired of this game, who dab at the cut on the forehead where it hit something suddenly still, and walk around our heap of stuff, come to rest before (to our way of thinking) it should have. Once the initial daze of hurt, anger and grief wears off a bit, we examine the remains of the vehicle, looking for the failure point.

Perhaps it's the same, or different every time; but one thought comes to mind-- I am so sick of this!--followed by the realization that this always happens, regardless of the advertised strength, durability and comfort of the mental transport, or the accuracy of its navigation system. Obsolescence, we realize, is built right into this whole deal. Ugh. How, we wonder, can we keep this up? How many times can we believe that this ride is the best one, the one that will at least bring some modicum of peace as the landmarks fly by, if not a thrill a minute? There has to be an easier, less taxing, less painful way to do this journey...

Of course, this road less traveled is rutted and not on the map, so few travelers come this way. Gorgeous blondes in convertibles generally don't, and neither do knights on white horses. Corporate jets are too distant to spot your tiny self. Census-takers don't even venture in this direction. All you have are your feet. Do nomads even wander by here?

We may sit, for a while, in exhaustion, in depression, nursing our hearts. When a backside is in contact for a bit with a landscape in the middle of emotional nowhere, a funny thing happens. Our hearts somehow connect with our minds and bodies, and we realize that heart is independent of the flaming pile of rubble we chose to travel in. Heart is actually so flexible as to be unbreakable, no matter the pain around the wreckage of what we thought we were. The pain is actually the true opening of the center of feeling, an opening which is an untinted window of opportunity, an honestly different and relevant way to go.

It is the heart urging our first shaky steps away from our former way of life, out into the wild blue and greenish-gold yonder...the heart which recognizes the softness of the dust between the toes and the intensity of gravel beneath the sole; the heart which takes in the possibility of nothingness in great big gasps--nothingness and aloneness and spaciousness, unmapped adventure among people and stars and stalks of wild oats. Because the heart is the author of the ultimate way, and writes its own vast beauty exactly to fit you as you walk for perhaps the first time amid your creation.

Human-speed is exactly right for bone, blood and muscle. It allows a new path through the eye in which dewy spiderwebs, distant barns and small pieces of blue plastic come together like a stained-glass portal to soul. Details burst into view, microcosms of the universe swirling above and around, fractal patterns of rythmic sounds and smells. The world is far more sacred than could ever be known from the confinement of a well-aimed trajectory!

The holy leap could take a person directly into the lap of a Swedish model or the driver's seat of a Lamborghini; but everything has changed, and you will never be able to trade the sweetness of pure love for belief in that new car smell again. Love gets trapped in your hair, like smoke from a disaster which has transformed, somehow, to incense. People might notice that, even in heels, you walk like you're barefoot in the grass; or that you wear a hemp bracelet as if it were diamonds. Even in the air at 600 miles per hour, you are cloud-roaming, heart-dwelling. Daisies and houseplants are aware of you as their very unfurling. Animals lean on you in delight and birds lure you into vocalizing your longing for echos.

All this is directly traceable to your breakdown, or maybe to the mass dreams of the future, or perhaps a gleam in Lilith's eye before she bolted to some other dimension. The wreck has been reframed as art, as a gift, as an invitation accepted. You can never be a mere passenger, a hardened commuter again, because life is not something traveled through--it appears on your breath, as your touch and feel, before the speed of light...

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Spontaneous Plan

Long ago, I was a semi-student of martial arts. I say "semi", because I never developed an entirely consistent or devoted practice. However, I was exposed often to the philosophy, ideas and culture of self-defense and its ultimate goal, which really has nothing to do with fighting.

There were at least two teachers who talked about mushin, or the art of "no-mind". This translates in combat to an effortless, flowing state in which a person does not consciously think about or plan a move, is not affected by restrictive emotion, and is so open that an almost supernatural response is possible. A lack of ego allows a heightened awareness of the opponent's intent, and the ability to block, deflect or strike very accurately.

Most athletes are familiar with the idea and sensation of being so practiced in a particular motion or activity that it has become instinctive; hours and hours of repetition and training have everything to do with physical skill and "muscle memory". But there is a deeper level in martial arts training in which one feels an opponent and the environment very intensely, without thinking. Remaining open, "soft", and aware seems almost counterintuitive when facing something or someone intent upon injury.

Letting go of fear requires letting go of any ideas one may have about oneself...I understood the concept, except when under perceived attack! An emotional, fearful body simply took over, or so it appeared to me. I was always grappling with my own lack of skill, my embarassment, my short stature, my anger.

One day, in the middle of a pretty intense sparring session, I got an unexpected taste of "no-mind". Somehow, I forgot all about my limitations and became very, very involved in what my body was doing, what my opponent's body was doing. My senses were heightened, but not in the usual adrenalized way--everything was simply very sharp, clear and timeless. I was in a perfect dance, both leading and following. All motion was absolutely unforced. There was a gigantic opening through which the heel of my hand struck (gently) my partner's chin--for a good point, a compliment on the "nice shot", and my utter astonishment at what had just happened.

Of course, I could not "reconstruct" the state in which this effortlessness occured, although I attempted to! When I gave up trying, it happened again, a few times. It was frustrating that I could not control it...and when I approached a sparring session while intending to relinquish myself to that elusive feeling-state, the intent itself became one more form of self-consciousness, one more obstacle.

It took a while for me to understand that an intent to "gain" forms a mind-self--a fascinating bundle of reflex and emotion with all kinds of causes and effects. There's nothing wrong with this selfing, but it can be distracting if one puts too much faith in it! It has less substance than a cloud, and a much shorter life span; it is the effort to maintain it that exhausts most people. Like anything else, a self can exude energy or absorb it. It is the Self innocent of too much thought and certainty that spontaneously inhabits the conditions of its present moment in an appropriate, effective and natural way.

I've discovered that there is an art to intention, planning, and choosing that involves acknowledging both the fact that the mind/body is educated, conditioned and "grooved" by spacetime experience, and the equally relevant fact that it is not. Being is never closed, no matter how we imagine it, what rules we dream up to play by, or how many times we believe we've failed. Our complex consensus story demands a complex individual character--a very densely-packed brain, complete with an equally dense schedule and sense of "responsibility" (which, alas, usually has nothing to do with the ability to truly respond). It is a game most of us play in a kind of desperation, lugging around the dead weight of a self created by a craving for more security, more sensation, more power--a craving that exists, actually, in a fictional self that will never understand any of these things--because to understand means its own dissolution.

In the midst of my mock-battle, I realized that I did not choose the action of mind and body; that I am less than a passing thought, and so much more; that when I separate myself from the leaping tiger (or human, illness or bank account), I construct an epic fight on the spot that is nothing but an extension of the game, the story of having not enough. It is a sort of virtual reality that is about as nourishing as any other addiction.

Do we really need to keep playing this way?

The idea that we choose our battles, or that we are chosen by them, is necessary only as long as a person believes that security, peace and power exist as "things" to be attained.

The idea of choice lives for the same length of time as the idea of self. If one "abandons" the idea of self, does one still choose? No, and of course! I am perfectly able and willing to select an option out of a batch of them, pick the ripest tomato or the best available light in which to paint. But my sense of security has revealed itself to be the fact that I (formed and unformed) am here, now, so fear no longer rules my choices, whether or not I'll choose, or even who is choosing. This awareness is spontaneously determined. Should I attach myself to an outcome, a larger context is both aware of this "attachment" and the fact that it exists in complete openness, as well. There is nothing, really, to gain or lose.

I find that many previously precious goals have naturally dissolved or sloughed off like too much skin. The intentions and plans that remain are things that consistently "choose me", rather than the other way around. They simply feel "right"--not necessarily convenient to my schedule, comfortably routine or even completely safe. But there is a sense of wholeness, of both leading and following, and a joy that has nothing to do with what I can get...more a sense of what is given, what I'm breathing, what I am sweetly drowning in as it becomes my inspiration, my eternal flowing.

We are so vulnerable, so incredibly powerful in the fact that we simply are all of this...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Path In


I won't just gripe about the state of non-union without a how-and-why session.

Why do I write here, and why do I talk about things which are directly unspeakable?

Well, joy. Not joy as an antidote to pain. No--more a holistic, perfectly self-generating potential that registers as a newborn feeling in the heart, in all senses, in the most common or sublime moment. Even the most painful moment, even in a state of "shock". Even when the conditions here are interpreted by the mind as being not optimal. A joy that doesn't need a reason; a joy that "I am".

I'm compelled to share this in almost the same way that a teenage girl in the throes of fascinated love starts every other sentence with "He" so beautiful, so perfect, so cool, so powerfully yielding...and I am so into him!! (I can tell, because although we may be talking about dirt or moldy cheese or biological warfare, somehow He always fits into the conversation.) The only difference is that the He/She is not someone "out there", but is, instead, the all-inclusive fact of being. I am in love with my imperfect life, in all its perfection.

How did I arrive in this love, this state-of-all-states?

In the most basic sense, I didn't, because "I" am nothing except a mental reference point. When I talk about any journey that Maria made, it is a tale chosen out of the grand alphabet soup that concurrently creates billions upon billions of other stories. I have to "ignore" the big picture in order to focus on a detail--"myself", in this case--which I am nonetheless aware is literally fashioned, sculpted, delineated by all the elements of Big Picture itself.

Still, on the level of the story, I can see strings of non-mechanistic cause-and-effect that seemed to unfold or open consciousness in such a way as to "reveal", ultimately, a kind of depth. I've called it the Can Opener of Life...but it is anything but a machine, or a mere tool of some cosmic other. I am both the container and the opener.

Someone recently asked about "paths"--the ways, means and education of arriving in realizations that actually change a person's worldview and manner of being--some kind of knowledge that trickles or blasts into the practical to make this existing business easier and less of a struggle, if not downright pleasurable.

I can repeat the obvious, which is to say that paths are as varied as people are, and that probably every well-traveled road is that way for a reason. I can also say that setting out on a path for the sake of "enlightenment" immediately delays it, because it is not a thing to be gained, like a hot date or a fat bank account or a chemical "high". Hard work, certain moral values and lofty ideals do not "produce" understanding. When the understanding dawns--that is, when we stop fighting it--one can "look back" at all the resonating points of contact and say with total confidence that it was fifteen years in the lotus position that brought about this state of love. It was also the strict adherence to/defiance of some kind of diet; prayers/silence entered; TV talk therapy or ayahuasca; a religious experience, a sexual experience, or both; something seen in a tele/microscope; a lucid dream; the raindrop falling from a fir into the Pacific Ocean.

Choose your story. Now choose what chooses.

There are some well-known energetic ley lines to follow, though I would advise an investigation out of pure curiosity, just to see what's around the next bend--as if you were nine or ten, barefoot on summer break, and those in charge just informed you that yes, you can explore the creek (take this cellphone, mind you!). And you have all day. No chores. Sure, the dog can go. Now, scoot while the sun shines!

These singing energetic pathways coincide with those of our bodies, hearts, minds, planet, galaxy, and so forth. In the beginning, the starting-point for exploration reflects the "temperament" of the explorer. For instance, some choose a physical path having to do with moving or manipulating the body. Some investigate the intellect, thinking and the imagination. Some prefer trials by fire. And some dive into dreams of past and future and their deep realms of hidden feeling.

No matter the initial starting point, there comes a day when one is standing in a place where all the lines converge--when one can no longer deny the physical, intellectual, destructive or loving forces that interact to dream us up. At that point, exploring the intellect will uncover the body, or vice-versa. Falling into feeling will reveal the healing of addiction. No matter what way is chosen, there is a sudden overlapping of all things, and a common denominator. You.

This is true for all of what is that point of no return, the holy leaping-off place, the grove of Aha?

I am standing in, jumping off and absorbed into it right now. The liberation is in the following of any path all the way to its origin. You. Trace the intellect to its source. Trace the proddings or denial of the flesh to theirs. Follow the intensity of feeling all the way around to your own heart. Every experience you ever have, or wish you did or didn't, or have no knowledge of, is sourced in you. Reading these words, staring off into space, calculating the distance between you and a mountaintop, your girlfriend or your next meal is you seeing your own face, imagining your own span, relating to your own heart and your absolute longing and abundance.

No matter how many divisions you make or paths you dream up or stories I tell, there is no escape from such a vast freedom!

Tell me, how do you know you are loved?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Default World

Excuse me for a minute while I note the current schizophrenic appearance of human nature--the giant split, the huge sleep, the blank stares in front of the fifty-two inch screen of life. If there is any rebellious identity I enjoy, it is the one in which I am a nomad on the fringe, in secret contact with a whole bunch of other fringey, nomad-types. But it is just a story!

I am probably not alone in that, if I had a prayer of any kind for my species, it would be that each and every one of us was struck with a serious case of reality in all its incredible beauty--that some bodywide third eye would be startled open before the event of "death" to see our default life for what it is.

Every political, economic or religious system we live by is imaginary, supported negatively or positively by the belief of groups of people. Some espouse a structure or a program, some fight it, and some just react to it blindly. Almost everyone believes in the solidity of these institutions, and that is why they "exist".

If all of humanity suddenly failed to recognize a currency, it would revert to its worth in reality...maybe one could eat paper, although the nutritional value is questionable--or build a shelter with stacks of coins. Sometimes, people stop believing in a wall, and it goes down. Lines on a map get rearranged. Even gods come and go.

I understand that we organize in groups and herds, and that our brains operate within a seemingly innate dualistic "template" for survival. I am fully cognizant of the value of peaceful and cooperative society. I do not believe that having more means someone else has to have less, however; I am convinced there is always a win-win solution to every potential conflict. With a deep trust comes ethical behavior that is just as innate as defense.

But this overall peace and prosperity cannot come about until we mature, become responsive to what this is, and stop living by default. Getting to what this Is requires a collapse into the most basic state of personal relating--not to life, which is in no way separate from what we are in the moment--but as life. We can do this individually, in a voluntary awakening, or we can flounder around in what my son might call an "epic fail" and do it collectively. In case you haven't noticed, collective collapse is in the air. It's quite natural for anything extremely top-heavy to fall down.

When I was a child, I was presented with two basic systems of operation (when it became clear to my parents that I was a bit "right-brained", and would probably not go to church on a regular basis--and that I was stubborn--and dreamed too much). Either I could "keep my feet on the ground" and ensure my survival with hard work, straight lines and a conservative point of view, or I could do the unsafe thing, become an artist, and probably starve. This is so trite as to be laughable now, but the impact to an eight-year-old is pretty large.

My parents and schooling taught me (mostly by their actions) not to trust my own instincts, my own love, my own passion, and it took me years to be unafraid. They so convinced me of the "either/or" that I forgot a third alternative was standing there, soaking up or rejecting their belief systems. This Reality that I am does not "believe in" creating choices such as they proposed. It does not recognize lines in the sand. It does not seek power at the expense of anything. It does not believe in the "truth" of systems, of status quo, of failure, of the concept of no concepts. Yet, these stories are generated regularly within it--not necessarily as methods to follow, but perhaps also as definitions of what truth is not.

This does not mean that I completely disregard social law, order and tradition--it just means that I recognize what these things actually are in this collective dream, and therefore am free of the sickening fear, repression or delusion that their more extreme forms tend to encourage.

In spite of some labels I acquired over the last thirty-five years or so, I deeply understand that I am not weird or crazy or an anarchist. I might be chased into the woods, imprisoned or burned at the stake (or just shake my head occasionally in utter cynicism), depending upon which way the wind blows...or, I could live to see some prediction-defying social Utopia. It doesn't matter to what lies beneath and above all outcomes.

Living by default is something I can no longer pull off with a straight face. I've discovered that my personal preferences and longings are a perfect path when they are not based in fear or reaction or "herd mentality". They are original in the sense that they keep me in Origin. Sometimes I get physically lonely or hungry sitting at the place where being comes gushing out of nothing; but it's home, and I can't forget it, because it's with me wherever I go. I bring pain or fear there so that it may be washed clean and the stark beauty exposed. I bring joy there, believing it may flow into other human hearts. And although I must speak of it in dualistic terms, it is nothing other than this, right here, right now. It is so basic and intrinsic that the only thing left to do is admit it.

Can we admit it? Can we admit that we are not in control--that in spite of appearances, nothing and no one is actually is? Can we trust ourselves enough to listen to the barely-audible voice coming from the heart, urging us to take a hike, grow a plant, yank the kids from the horrible school, quit the soul-crushing job, find supportive and understanding humans--before it becomes a shriek? Can we admit that we will never be numb, that we are meant to be sensitive, that we are much stronger than we are told and capable of things currently thought to be impossible?

Can we please feel?
It's the only way out of the program...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lover Earth

I have been working on a "creation" painting, recently, which invites me into a highly symbolic space each time I pick up the brush. It could be said to represent a coupling of the highest male and female energies, resulting in what we know as the manifest world. The imagery speaks loud and clear to the "sensual" within the contemplative...and like the nebula in which this mythical god and goddess are united, truth flies out cloaked in stars and planets, in cast shadows from a light so brilliant that it defies physical eyes.

You and I are this brilliance, with the cosmic dust of our common body of ideas condensed around our spinning cores. There appears a density, a gravity in which we come to believe we are somehow "trapped", and which we tend to fight in ways subtle and overt through most of our too-brief lives. But that dark gravitational pull is where we must go in order to taste freedom.

Always, in the midst of this struggle, there is a whisper (or a cry) of "God, this can't be all there is--can it?" It is the most painful grief and longing for love, for meaning and purpose. It is truly an awful sensation to think of oneself as being netted in a nightmare of some kind. And this grief, this longing is generally unexpressed, locked down in shame and fear. And when we look at it, off-guard because exhaustion drops some defenses, it appears as an ugly body, or bad news, a planet in turmoil, collapsing ways, mental or physical illness, or despair. On better days, it might be just a big, blank, unscaleable wall...the better to turn away from.

What we ignore or imprison tends to creep out (or explode) into destructive acts and deafness to the pleas of the heart and the wisdom of the evidenced, perhaps, by our current belief in personal and social dilemmas.

Synchronously, the phrase "Lover Earth" has made its appearance a few times while I have been involved in this painting. Earth is indeed our mother, but in the course of maturity, she must morph into our lover, as well, if we are to stop being lost and selfish children. I am not speaking necessarily from an obviously "responsible", save-the-world point of view. I am talking about allowing a shift in our deepest personal (and by extension, universal) psyche, within and without our mental/emotional/physical bodies.

An interesting thing happens when this deep longing for love and truth is acknowledged and carried to term. "Carrying" means not feeding the longing with typical reactionary behavior or intellectual conclusion. "Term" is when truth is born, when you gaze in hopeless bliss upon a face that always sees and feels you, because it is your own.

The process is akin to being pregnant with oneself (as Earth always is). Dwelling in the womb of longing without an answer, what we reject is presented to us again and again until we understand that we are rejecting the very body, literally and figuratively, that brings us life. In psychological terms, our rejected aspects become "shadow selves" that haunt us, like lost pieces of soul. This understanding is more than a way to "claim wholeness" or experience "acceptance", however. It is something foundational, something felt in the bones, a steadiness that allows a standing, a balancing with our own ability to fall.

When rejection ceases...

...the "shadow" is clearly seen.

Imagine a dark light.
Imagine the absolute opposite of everything you experience, as if total voiding stood directly behind anything you can sense--your very consciousness.
Imagine the complete lack of surety, of solidity, and an utter immersion in a question that continually answers itself.
Imagine watching the universe slide into nothingness, which gives birth to you.

I say "imagine", though it isn't any resultant image that is the point or the feeling. It is rather the allowing of oneself to be in the position or stance of openness to something "impossible" that creates the blasts of energy which we call awareness.

Being aware this way, it is impossible not to fall in love, in the only love. It's a love that is beyond any fear of death, because it is backed by a complete mystery, nourished by the continuous dissolution of what appears. Still, there is this and that, word and silence, somehow emerging in a purity that I am continuously thankful I cannot injure!

I can paint it all day, write poetry to it all night, knowing this is nothing more than an endless throwing of myself into that which bursts me into being again, still. This is a woman, a planet, a life/death completely out of control. This is a soul undivided and free to multiply...