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 you...an 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 shadows...how 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!