Friday, December 29, 2006

No Such Thing as a True Story

I received a small book for Christmas, Awakening Loving Kindness, by Pema Chödrön. One chapter in it is entitled “No Such Thing as a True Story.” She begins by recalling that in Taoism there’s the saying, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.” And then explains that another way to say this is, “As soon as you begin to believe in something, then you no longer see anything else.”

Well, now, this is interesting to me. I believe in a lot of things. And so I started thinking before I read another word. Pema Chödrön however took the discourse in another direction.

“Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life. That doesn’t mean that beliefs or ideas or thinking is a problem; the stubborn attitude of having to have things a particular way, grasping on to our beliefs and thoughts, all these cause the problems… You want to have something to hold on to, you want to say, ‘Finally I have found it…’ This is a human thing. But in Buddhism there is a teaching… It says, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha.’ This means that if you can find Buddha and say, ‘It’s this way; Buddha is like this,’ then you had better kill that ‘Buddha’…”

So how does one do this? Pema admits that the approach sounds pretty aggressive. But, she describes it as requiring the ultimate of non-aggression. It requires one to “look ones beliefs straight in the face, honestly and clearly, and then step beyond them. That requires a lot of heart and kindness.”

“When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha, means that when you see that you’re grasping or clinging to anything whether conventionally it’s called good or bad, make friends with it completely and utterly. In that way it will let go of itself.”

She then tells the story of a god who knew that people love to believe things to be true. So, the god to provide a teaching and have a bit of fun created a large hat. It was brilliant blue on one side and flaming red on the other side. He then walked straight down the middle of a road that had many people working in the fields on either side. All the people stopped work and stared in amazement at the god. Afterwards amidst much talk and excitement, “Did you see the god!!” the people compared stories. It was then they discovered that some thought god wore a blue hat while others were equally convinced that god wore a red hat. Walls were built. Arguments, rock throwing, name calling ensued.

“Then the god appeared again. This time he stood in the middle and turned to the left and then he turned around to the right, and everyone started to laugh.”

May we remember this lesson in the year to come. May we remember it as individuals living amongst our family and friends. May we remember it as a nation as we live in a world increasingly violated by those who believe in God.

And may we also remember these words of Adyashanti:

“…the goal of Buddhism is to create Buddhas, not Buddhists, as the goal of Christianity is to Christs, not Christians.”

I also invite you to click on the picture and read about it. I really like it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Spirit

Christmas is almost here.

Christmas Spirit
Originally uploaded by markcveitch.

Since a picture is worth a 1000 words and I have no words to share just now, I thought I'd post some nice photos from the folks at Flickr.

If you click on the image you can see a larger view and read the photographer's comments. You can also (if you have the time) explore the links offered up by this person. It leads to words within worlds... and alot of beauty.

My love to you, and have a very Merry Christmas.


Proud Mary

proud mary
Originally uploaded by Elan Photography.

orphan tree

orphan tree
Originally uploaded by Veronika Lake.


Originally uploaded by imapix.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest and There's No One Around to Make A Buck Is It Still Christmas?

Caught in the Snow

Caught in the Snow
Originally uploaded by creativity+.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Words of Christmas and the Baby

Originally uploaded by abhayah~.

Becky and I celebrated our twentieth Christmas early this year because soon she’ll be off to other climes with someone else she now calls, “Baby.”

We three have given one another a rather surreal year. And while I’m not sure if “surreal” is the most appropriate word to use, we could certainly start there if we agree to throw in pain, rage, turmoil, fear, insanity, sailing on the water, learning about love and blessedness as well.

Nothing has been easy. Not even last night, though we knew that we were now arriving at our own version of “Peace on Earth.” Still, emotions were at such a pitch twice we had to stop and recompose, forcing Baby finally to ask, “Are we going to do this every year?” Those were just the words we needed. They broke crying off into bashful laughter.

Then this morning, I came across these words by Jeanette Winterson. She’s a poet and of course much better with her words than I. These particular ones are from her December comments and they seem to put the events of “we three’s trials and tribs” into a larger context of the Season. So I pass them on to you. Perhaps you’ll find something of yourself amidst her sentiments.

Jeanette Winterson: ….it doesn’t matter what God you worship, if any, what matters is how you approach the spiritual life – what TS Eliot called, ‘a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything.’…

Some people find that any religious poem or piece of music or painting feels closed to them, but that is usually because the piece has become too overlaid with ideology, or stolen for some false purpose, or that we ourselves lack the courage or the patience to see though the wrapper… [But]… if Christmas is to have any meaning – and it should – let it be its own message, and not one of fake sentiment or religiosity. The birth of Jesus is about new life, new beginnings, new possibilities, and it happens not when everything is going well, or in a 5 star hotel, or when we’ve just won the lottery, but in there with the animal feed, in the stable, cold and dark and unprepared for. This is a no-frills moment. Anyone can be generous and easy when everything is perfect – but a new chance, for yourself or others, just doesn’t usually happen that way.

Change, when it comes, is often uncomfortable and not at all how we imagined it. The clichés and the sentiment aren’t present in the Christmas Story – we added all that later. An unmarried mother gives birth in a stable – try that now and the tabloids would be after you as unfit, the child would be taken into care and Joseph would be named and shamed – and given a DNA test.

It is an uncomfortable story, and one that is worth a close reading. The moment, when it happens, is never easy, and the miracle we say we long for brings as many problems as it solves, because it demands an entire re-configuration of who we are.

(... And if you still have a few moments to doodle round the blog, return to the photo I selected here. Click on it and view it large sized on the Flickr website. I love the little shed reflected in the red bulb. And the snow flurries coming down... lovely world is captured here. Enjoy!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

When Your Heart Bursts

Azalea & Bath Paint
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.
I wanted a photo to illustrate some words of Adyashanti's that I came across today regarding the relationship between student and teacher. When I got to this particular part I burst into tears. Why? ...I think it was desire. So, here is what I read:

Adya: Most people come to satsang to hear what I have to say. I ought to give them popcorn and coke and send them off to the movies. It would be cheaper, and the seats are more comfortable.

Q: So why should we come here to satsang?

A: Because your heart wants to burst open, your mind wants to crack, and you are ready to die for freedom.

... probably you haven't had as strong a reaction as I did. But anyway, there it is.

I went on with my day too. I "had" to work on my "paintings." One result, I'm posting this picture which is the photo I posted earlier today (see the next entry below this one) now transformed by what I put it through.

It's curious to me.

I printed the photo out on special paper and then did my chop and squiggle thing and then scanned it back into the computer. It looks diferent now. The picture has "gone through me." Both it and I were transformed a bit. The change is visible in the image. You'll have to take my word about myself, about a heart that wants to burst and a mind that needs to crack... and as for the dying... that happens on its own if you do the first two right.

Azalea & Bath

Azalea & Bath
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.

The silence inside of you
is the sound of your knowledge collasping.
Remember, it is you who said,
"I want to be free."


We were getting ready for a birthday party when I decided to snap some photos of Pat's garden in the winter. This is one version of the results. Later, we would have a bonfire in that very same garden.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Twist Again

I went to a party this weekend and found myself a bit dismayed by a conversation a few of us had after our rousing game of charades. In the living room we sat around the fire as one woman tried to explain that she no longer knew what hope was. To her the world is peopled by deeply flawed humans, basically no different from the Middle Ages or the Dark Ages. Another woman spoke of her total distrust of government, yet another of how we now all carried deep seated anxiety. Yet, we all agreed that human beings have a remarkable capacity for goodness. This last point brought to life perfectly when I noticed that while we all talked doom and gloom, at the other end of the house they danced to “Twist Again, like you did last summer.” Tears came to my eyes. Such dear women, approaching and past 60-oh-my-god years old, could still dance in simple delight.

I gave no reply Saturday night. I simply listened. Today I’d like to offer these comments from Eckhart Tolle.

A question to Eckhart Tolle: Do you believe that humanity is ready for this transformation [into a “New Earth”]?

Tolle: Yes. I see signs that it is already happening. For the first time there is a large scale awakening on our planet. Why now? Because if there is no change in human consciousness now, we will destroy ourselves and perhaps the planet. The insanity of the collective egoic mind, amplified by science and technology, is rapidly taking our species to the brink of disaster. Evolve or die: that is our only choice now. Without considering the Eastern world, my estimate is that at this time about ten percent of people in North America are already awakening. That makes thirty million Americans alone, and in addition to those people in other North American countries, about ten percent of the population of Western European countries are also awakening. This is probably enough of a critical mass to bring about a new earth. So the transformation of consciousness is truly happening even though they won’t be reporting it on tonight’s news.

Is it happening fast enough? I am hopeful about humanity’s future, much more so now than when I wrote The Power of Now. In fact that is why I wrote that book. I really wasn’t sure that humanity was going to survive. Now I feel differently. I see many reasons to be hopeful.

Another Question….In your vision of a new earth, the purpose of life involves what you call awakened doing. What do you mean by this?

Tolle: …awakened doing has three modalities, depending on circumstances and the nature of the activity. They are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. If there is neither acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm in what you do, you are out of alignment with universal purpose. You are creating unhappiness, that is to say suffering in one form or another. One way of defining the ego is simply this: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. What I refer to as the “new earth”—the outer forms created by awakened doing—arises as more people realize that their purpose is to allow consciousness to emerge through whatever they do.

From An Interview with Eckhart Tolle
by Kathy Juline
Reprinted from the October 2006 issue of Science of Mind magazine and posted on the Eckhart Tolle website. Go there for more.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fair is Fair...

Soon, hopefully, you will be reading about Bennie.
However, I didn't use a picture of him when composing that entry... for shame.

This is Bennie. All Boy. Nine months old.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dog's Rule

Charlie With Pine Cone
Originally uploaded by luckyrob.

Rule Number One (almost) in the training of a new puppy is that they shouldn’t growl at you as they eat their food. To my great dismay my pup, Bennie, broke this rule. In fact he was downright hostile when protecting a rib-bone. The solution that I found online having Googled “growling over food bowl” was to divide his dinner up into four identical servings which I presented to him in identical bowls. I'd put one bowl down, let him eat, then pick it up and give him the next. What Bennie was to learn through this exercise was that whenever I took one delight away it was to give him yet another. In time, Bennie trusted me and my intentions enough that I could feed him in a single bowl. If I came near while he was eating he wasn’t worried. He didn’t growl. Now, he even trusts me enough to come on his own accord and curl up against my belly while he chews his precious rawhide delights.

Now, why do I bother to mention all this? Because sooner or later Life and the Powers That Be will snatch out from under each of us that which we hold to be most precious in our life. Sooner or later, we all will know loss.

Maybe we will be lucky and the loss will fall within the realm of "the natural order of things." We expect to lose our parents. We don’t expect to lose a child. We expect to lose our partners… if they are older or no longer deserving. But, how much more painful if we are betrayed by infidelity or disease. We expect to lose our physical prowess… but only as we slowly age. We feel betrayed by the accidental and uncalled for-be it aberrant gene or the drunk driver that crosses the median headon into us.

But, have we really been betrayed, tricked, or forgotten by "On High?"

I don’t think so. Or at least no more so than Bennie when I whisk the bowl out from under his nose, or pry his jaws apart to remove a plastic bottle cap he's found. I have a bigger picture in my mind than little Bennie does. And by and large (though I do have my slip-ups) I act in his best interests whenever I take away his latest, greatest love.

I have to have the faith that Life/God - That all pervading Intelligence that plays and displays Creation- is at least as caring as I am for my dog. And if God doesn’t choose to guide my development by dividing my dinner into equal portions placed on identical plates … well, maybe He’s giving me credit for having a bit more brain to work with than Bennie has been blessed with.

And maybe, He’s simply encouraging me to develop the simple love and trust a little dog can have.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Big Debate

There’s a big debate currently running in the journal Medical Hypotheses regarding whether or not meditating, specifically, Transcendental Meditation (TM), can cause epilepsy. I find this interesting for a number of reasons.

First, it is because in hind-site I recognize a number of the features of the spiritual emergency I went through following my abrupt awakening in 1975 to point to my having episodes of temporal lope epilepsy. I often fell to the floor in seizure-like rigidity (however I never lost consciousness), I would be gripped for hours by the desire to write (hypergraphia). I probably qualified as being hyperreligous. I recall also the day I found myself sitting on my bed with no idea as to how I came to be there or why. When I went downstairs I found a wastebasket sitting in the middle of the living room- oh yes, I was cleaning house. Apparently, I had had a complex partial seizure and had wandered upstairs. To this day, there are times when it feels as if my brain is snapping and popping with electricity. It’s a strange feeling and I don’t understand how one could really perceive such activity. But, I know what I feel and I know I don’t like it.

Secondly, there are the rationales of why meditation may have this effect. In TM EEG coherence and synchrony have been linked to a higher state of consciousness. However, neural hyper-synchrony is also a defining feature of epilepsy. It’s argued that TM could either provoke seizures in meditation or long term as the brain is “chronically kindled” with hyper-activity that develops into epilepsy outside of meditation. Physiologically, TM has been found to enhance glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that an give rise to kindling even in normal brains. TM also increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter with both facilitating and inhibitory effects on seizure.

Finally, it is interesting to watch the scientists who do research on Transcendental Meditation (TM) and who are devoted followers of the TM path. They are not about to admit that TM can do any harm. Yet, they want to argue that the technique has a powerful influence upon the body. To my thinking, anything that can have a powerful influence can also cause an “abnormal” reaction. TM does not have to benefit everyone, every time to qualify as very valuable. But, early on Maharishi made this broad and uncritically examined claim, and so his followers maintain that stance today. That’s disappointing to say the least.

(Please click on the image to read about its commentary. I searched for photos tagged “debate.”)

The Sacred Disease.

Originally uploaded by Chitrakari.

Epilepsy was known in ancient times as “the sacred disease.” In 1997, Savir and Rabin, two psychiatrists at UCLA, explained how temporal lobe epilepsy could help define a neural substrate for religious experience. Now, there are many papers on the subject.
But, I was fascinated to discover what a most ancient medical text, had to say about the disease.

The Ayurvedic Charaka Samhita (400 BC) is the oldest existing Indian medical text and is fascinating for many reasons. For example, there it’s description of how the thirst for understanding was inspired not by the problems of the general Indian populace, but rather due to the needs of the “meditators” of that time.

“When people, who lived their lives for spiritual pursuits and observed austerity, self-analysis, studies, chastity, meditation and other spiritual activities, began to have diseases and disorders that hindered in spiritual pursuits, at that times, the great sages gathered in the Himalayan region motivated by compassion for righteous persons….gathered at this first ancient ayurvedic symposium.”
Charaka Samhita, Sutra Section, Ch 1/v.6-12.

Perhaps because of this origin, the Charaka Samhita takes a somewhat different stance than Ayurvedic texts that came later. It describes Life as fundamentally a field of intelligence. This field is both self-aware and is pure knowledge: both the Knower and the object of perception. It was this most subtle level of life - that is Consciousness itself, which was to be treated by the physician.

The Charaka Samhita contains abundant references to all aspects of epilepsy including symptomatology, etiology, diagnosis and treatment. Epilepsy is described as ‘apasmara’ which means ‘loss of consciousness.’ In Hindu mythology Apasmara is also a dwarf who represents both ignorance (avidya) and epilepsy.

It is Apasmara-Purusha, the dwarf-demon, who is crushed and killed by the right foot of Shiva during His Cosmic dance of creation and destruction. Apasmara was causing lots of problems for people. Apasmara, highly ignorant and a trouble maker, is said to be a symbol of the laziness, dullness, and evil feelings within each of us. It is also said that the people prayed to Shiva to save them from the demon’s bad deeds. Shiva appeared in the world and killed him. It is Shiva Nâtarâja: the divine dancer whose movements creates and destroys worlds. These movements are illustrated as mudras, sacred hand and foot positions. Shiva holds a damaru or small two sided drum which punctuates the rhythm in one hand. In the other hand he holds a flame, the symbol of knowledge. Yet another hand is in the mudra abhava or “lack of fear.”

So now all these little bells are going off inside my head. At least 3000 years ago Ayurvedic medicine was meant to treat the problems of meditators’ progress. Today, there is this debate about one problem cropping up in meditators – epilepsy. Yes, people never meditating get the disease. But, now evidence is accumulating that perhaps the path to enlightenment may involve some increased danger of kindling and seizure. Meditation is so central to the path, as central (one might say) as this image of Shiva and his Cosmic dance is to mythology. And what is this epilepsy ? - a demon, the ignorance (avidya) of our own egos. … Ahh, if only I’d gotten around to writing up my thoughts about laish avidya- the “remains of ignorance” we each retain after enlightenment… then avidya would be ringing a little bell with you too. And finally, how curious a balance Shiva maintains in his dancing. He brings a two-sided drum. Go banging on the old Yin/Yang. It is rhythm, synchrony, coherence that is needed to defeat the demon. And that is just what the meditator’s and epileptic’s EEGs are all about.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Enlightenment: Before, During, and After

Smart But Casual
Originally uploaded by Kenny Maths.
The November/December 2006 issue of Spirituality and Health has an autobiographical essay by a woman entitled Enlightenment: Before, During, and After. In it she describes how through Awareness Intensive retreats where the practice consists of considering “Who am I?” hour after hour. Through the practice she felt she became enlightened. She was filled with joy and peace, could generate an energy that filled the room and had the power to transform the consciousness of others. Students came in greater and greater numbers and she held satsangs. Then she cracked and crashed and burned. The initial blow was the death of her teaching companion, but that was only the first step down. Her original guru was unable to help. She found a new master. He told her to stop teaching. Afraid she needed the money she refused to stop teaching, only to have her students desert her. And her descent continued from there until she was reduced to friends and family supporting her, and then her second teacher went into seclusion- essentially abandoning her. Throughout her story she comments upon the nagging little thoughts like- “Now I never have to worry about money… I have what everyone wants.” “Now I never have to bother with sex and relating…I am beyond all that.” And she noticed how her ego swelled in direct proportion to her students’ adulation and her power to radiate energy. And while not her closing words, this was her greatest lesson to me:

“If we do not have a living teacher at the time of awakening, we are in great trouble. We simply cannot travel alone at this point, precisely because we can hardly see the ego by ourselves.”

This story suddenly put into context some comments of Eckhart Tolle that caught my eye months ago. They’re from an interview by John W. Parker and are excerpted from Dialogues With Emerging Spiritual Teachers.

Parker: Is it possible to be perfectly enlightened and have any remains of an ego?

Tolle: Well, perhaps not perfectly enlightened, but there can be remains of ego still there, because I have seen it in teachers. I have seen the ego return in some teachers.

So the ego can go into almost a "coma," and then wake up out of its coma perhaps due to the projections, ego-projections that the teacher is bombarded with. As the teacher is there, more people appear and gather around the teacher. And they (those who gather around them) all have their own ego-projections. They make the teacher very "special." And special-ness is always ego, whether special in my misery or special because I am the greatest, the ego doesn't really mind. So perhaps in those teachers the ego was not completely gone. It just had been reduced to an extremely weak state, but then gained strength again.

This was a surprise to me, and very interesting. Given my own experience of “I saw God and all Hell broke loose,” and being trained in chemistry, I’d always pictured getting there and then losing it something like Sisyphus pushing his boulder almost to the top of the hill (so he got a glimpse from the top), but then he lost it and the rock rolled back down. He never actually made it over the top and down into paradise. Such a hill, or technically an energy barrier, must be overcome in every single chemical reaction. Two reactants may come together temporarily, bind into an “activated state.” Then they either they fall back to their original state and dissociate, or they make it over to the other side and are permanently altered. Thus, oxygen and hydrogen can either transmute into water or fall back into two separate gases.

Similarly, I thought my body-mind simply couldn’t make it over that energy barrier. I couldn’t maintain that integrated state and hold onto that enlightened vision. I figured my body let me down. But Tolle suggests that the ego, temporarily knocked cold turkey, regains it strength and returns to it’s old tricks of identification. Ego – not so much as physiology appears to be the problem here. And I had tried so hard to rebuild my adrenals, restore depleted minerals and fatty acids, to stop the anxiety and panic attacks, to stop my brain from “crackling” with jolts of electricity.

These were necessary actions at the time. But, was I addressing the deepest roots of my problem? Or are there layers of traps here: body, mind, and ultimately ego?

Then I came across these words of Adyashanti:

After sudden Awakening to the Self, there begins a process of gradual embodiment of the transcendent into the human personality. By gradual I mean the deepening of realization after the experience of enlightenment…This process of embodiment is a continual stripping away of every remnant of attachment and ego…It is a phase of spiritual unfolding fraught with many dangers, self-deceptions, and misunderstandings. It is where many seekers of liberation succumb to fear, doubt , and a lack of conviction…It is an area of incredible subtlety and complexity which few truly understand.

Adyashanti’s warnings seem to hark back directly to Tolle’s words and the woman whose ego re-awoke. This to me seems an “immaterial” realm of psyche rather than substance- be that fatty acids or B vitamins or even crackling electricity for that matter. But, then Adya made further comments:

Embodiment starts with the realization that every manifest thing and non-thing constitutes your true body. You humanness is simply a reflection of the depth of your realization… What’s most important is to perceive your entire body, which is everything… The entire cosmos is your body. Let your humanness reflect and manifest the whole.

This comment brought to mind my own awakening in 1975. After the initial shift in consciousness there was an interior “burning” (which I’ve described elsewhere). This burning seemed to be a purification/transmutation of my flesh and nervous system through the elements: earth to water to air to ether to finally the perception that my body (on one level and Ultimately) was Absolute, totally immaterial, and extended throughout the universe. At the time, content to simply Be, I was barely able to walk or talk or think and it was arranged for me to go stay with my brother for awhile. He took one look at me and pulled out a yellow legal pad. Starting at 9 a.m. he made a “To Do” schedule for me blocked out in 15 minute increments. Things like: load the dirty clothes into the laundry bag. Go to the laundry. Wash the clothes. Come home…

Very human, but not so well embodied I would say. On the other hand, I seemed to have taken the process pretty far and still managed in the end to fall back into an egoic, attached state.

So let me just end with these final comments by Adya:

As the opening [dissolving of the self] begins and deepens, the body may go through a tremendous amount…some people’s bodies experience a real shake-down. This can be quite dramatic because energy that has been trapped on the various levels- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual- is released. This trapped energy is what keeps you off-balance and in a state of suffering. Suddenly all the tension, holding, and knots are released, and the energy goes out in all directions.

This energy has to break loose before it can re-harmonize and get into the proper flow. This bursting can feel exhilarating or terrible… the harmonization may take weeks, months, or years. It may be very strong or imperceptible. Everyone is different; it just depends on how out-of-wack you’ve been.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Spiritual Emergence

Mid-Afternoon Elegance
Originally uploaded by

“The door to God is the insecurity of not knowing anything.
Bear the grace of that insecurity, and all wisdom will be yours.”

For “She Who Fell into the River and was Swept into the Ocean”-

I said she fell into the “Wu” just to have a name for what had befallen her: this state of extreme Yin and openness that made her drop obligations and ultimately her job. She said she no longer wanted to think too much. She could not resist the pull of the river. And as the months passed the river became an Ocean, an Ocean she recognized as love. To her friends if felt like she was “going to leave town” or “move away.” Yet she had no plans to do so. She had few if any plans- except to buy a boat and learn to really sail. What an embodying of metaphor! Now, she says, she doesn’t know a thing. But, she has found a partner of utter solidity, someone to keep some ground under her. And recently she sailed that new boat of hers at over 5 knots, approaching the limits of hull speed.

This seems a gentle version of an enlightenment experience. One that wasn’t fought that much. To a large extent thinking was given up. Fears were faced and not allowed to impede the flow. And so process could proceed in a relatively gentle manner.

Adyashanti has some teachings that seem to relate to this experience:

At the moment of enlightenment everything falls away- everything. Suddenly the ground beneath you is gone, and you are alone. You are alone because you have realized that there is no other; there is no separation. There is only you, only Self, only limitless Emptiness, pure Consciousness.

To the mind, the ego, this appears terrifying. When it looks at limitlessness and infinity, it sees meaninglessness and despair. However, the view changes to unending joy and wonder once the mind is let go of.

What it takes

Transitions: Sun Set
Originally uploaded by LynchburgVirginia.
“She Who Fell into the River” went with the flow, which is not to say that it was easy or is easy.

Adyashanti sets out the dynamics this way:

Many people really see themselves as “the one who has struggled”… Others struggle to hold onto a more positive, fixed identity as a good, successful, or spiritual person. However, most people cling to both negative and positive self-images… [T]he reason that you struggle is in order to maintain a sense of separate self, a self which is ultimately a defense mechanism against the revelation that no separate self actually exists. As soon as you stop struggling, you lose the boundaries…with nothing to oppose, the false sense of self evaporates into nothingness, into the Unknown… Your identity is cut loose from all that is familiar and known and you find yourself floating in a vast expanse with nothing to grab hold of. This groundless expanse is the foretaste of liberation, but few choose to remain in this unknown territory…

Faced with a freedom that is absolute, a freedom that leaves no room for separation from the whole, most people will compulsively contract back into a condition of struggle where they can maintain a familiar sense of self. …

It is only when you desire to be free more than you desire the security of the familiar sense of self that you spontaneously move into a freedom that is final and beyond struggle….

This is not the liberation that most people envision when they start out… most people envision a freedom that they can attain and possess. So many who glimpse the enlightened condition tell me that is so much bigger than they ever could have imagined. [When you] realize that freedom [it] is not something that you possess, but something that possess you…

To have a glimpse of this profound freedom requires very little, but to live it requires the destruction of every concept of self you ever held or will ever hold. This freedom is a flame that burns the need to struggle to ash and reveals one’s Self to be all that is.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For Chris and Olga

Beauty of the Moon
Originally uploaded by MacroFocus.

Olga passed last night, the mother of my dear friend, Chris. Olga had two daughters and each was by her side as she lay at peace. Olga was Ukrainian. Her husband (also from the Ukraine) preceded her in death by thirty years, almost to the day. So with a bow to these dear women and all that lived between them, I offer these notes... not speaking of them directly- but rather the poet laureates Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall. Why these two? Because they're poets and they lived and loved and poetry speaks better than mere words at a time like this.

Twilight: After Haying
by Jane Kenyon

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)

The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed--
Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will
--sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen. . .the soul's bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses. . .

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.

Finding A Long Gray Hair
by Jane Kenyon

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.

Jane Kenyon was an American poet and translator. She was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the midwest. While a student at the University of Michigan, Kenyon met the poet Donald Hall; though he was some twenty years her senior, she married him in 1972, and they moved to Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in New Hampshire. Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate when she died in April of 1995 from leukemia. Hall currently is the US Poet Laureate. Without: Poems was published on the third anniversary of Jane Kenyon's death. Most of the poems in Without deal with Kenyon's illness and death, and many are epistolary.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It’s as simple as this:

Deep thoughts ... {}
Originally uploaded by dotlyc.
Student: I am confused because I see the Silence outside me. It is an Ocean I walk through and it’s not within me. My expectation is that it should be inside me and radiate out.
Teacher: And what happens if you attend to the Silence?
Student: It becomes more intense, the Silence and the Gap become absurd, and laughter begins. There is this incredible laughter.
Teacher: And who is laughing?
Student: I am laughing deep inside. And the Universe is laughing.
Teacher: And?
Student: And it is the same laughter … There is only one person laughing. The Universe and I are one.
(and now in tears, the student gets it. I just hadn’t ever noticed)

Remaining Awake

So, it’s not a lack of experience, an “awakened” experience you could say, that seems to be the difficulty. There are… OK- I’ll say it, “I have plenty of experiences.” But they are just beads on a string; moments strung on a thread of feeling very unenlightened that seem to hang around my neck the way you might hang a placard on the school dunce.

I am not alone in this I think. Or to quote Ram Das, “If you think you’re so enlightened go spend a week with your parents.” It’s a funny joke until I realize many/most of us are now reaching that age where “parents” has become the single “parent.” And Chris is sitting by her mother's bedside this very moment.

We are no longer thirty some-things, still hip to our college trip.
There are thousands of us out there now who have meditated for decades, and where has it got us?

Times up! The World is teetering. It's now or never or next life time.

So, what’s the problem here? Perhaps it’s what Adyashanti calls embodying enlightenment. Get the experience out of the head perceived by the intellect, and start to live it from the heart and belly. Getting out of the head means letting go of ego that little prodder of the mind into business.

It’s here that Eckhart Tolle’s teaching can be of great help. For where we get thrown off is by emotional pain "resentment, hatred, self-pity, guilt, anger, depression, jealousy and so on, even the slightest irritation." The pain is "always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is." This resistance takes the form of judgmental thoughts and is accompanied by emotional pain.

What is Tolle's solution to this self-inflicted pain? "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have… Always say 'yes' to the present moment.” Or an excellent corollary, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it." When you accept the present moment as it is, resistance to or denial of it becomes impossible. That is, you have to feel. You begin to burn up what Tolle calls the pain body. You begin to embrace your own shadow. You leave your head and start to live from heart and belly.

Actually, given that awakening often starts in the head with witnessing, or Silence, or what Tolle calls Presence, incredibly facilitates implementing the practice of staying in the present and experiencing what’s really going on in the body (heart and belly). I emphasize here too the word “Really.” Implementing this practice day to day requires dedication to the Truth- wanting to know what’s really going on inside, even if it hurts. And in this way Tolle’s teaching meshes perfectly with Adyashanti’s.

This Moment: October 17th, 2006.

Autumn grasses
Originally uploaded by Barca_Branca.

Today would have been our 19th anniversary. Instead we shared a phone call that lasted something under three minutes. I am also waiting to hear from a dear friend who is sitting by the bedside of her 90 year old mother. When will Olga pass? And to add to this, the day is once again and even more so- rainy.

Still, I am dry and rather cozy here at work. But I find that today is a day that seems to emphasize that “Knowledge resides from the neck up, wisdom from the neck down.” (Adyashanti)

I work mechanically today and cannot bare the intellectually exciting. It seems a time to live from the neck down. Not that I feel at all that wise, but rather today I choose to feel. Let me get my information that way today.

So, I went hunting poems. I found these two by Jane Hirshfield. The first gives a nod to the whole yin yang of creation. The later simply gives me faith to keep on walking.

Poem With Two Endings

Say "death" and the whole room freezes--
even the couches stop moving,
even the lamps.
Like a squirrel suddenly aware it is being looked at.

Say the word continuously,
and things begin to go forward.
Your life takes on
the jerky texture of an old film strip.

Continue saying it, hold it moment after moment inside the mouth,
it becomes another syllable.
A shopping mall swirls around the corpse of a beetle.

Death is voracious, it swallows all the living.
Life is voracious, it swallows all the dead.
neither is ever satisfied, neither is ever filled,
each swallows and swallows the world.

The grip of life is as strong as the grip of death.

(but the vanished, the vanished beloved, o where?)


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs--all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Here's one more poem, as I cannot resist. This one tucks you in and brings you home to silence, which is where you eventually come to rest, if you choose to stay right in the moment.

Recalling A Sung Dynasty Landscape

Palest wash of stone-rubbed ink
leaves open the moon: unpainted circle,
how does it raise so much light?
Below, the mountains
lose themselves in dreaming
a single, thatch-roofed hut.
Not that the hut lends meaning
to the mountains or the moon--
it is a place to rest the eye after much traveling, is all.
And the heart, unscrolled,
is comforted by such small things:
a cup of green tea rescues us, grows deep and large, a lake.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I have been struggling of late. Kind of an implosion. Kind of a “I don’t know anything.” Kind of a coming to a halt. So, I thought I’d just find a poem to share here, certainly that’d be better than anything that might come out of my brain just now.

Wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t even find a poem that I liked. Then I came across this one by Billy Collins, the U.S. Poet Laueate. I really liked the poem. It made me feel better. And for the life of me, I couldn’t explain it to you. Why I felt better or what the poem means. So, I Googled a bit. Turns out Jacques Crickillon is a Belgian poet. He’s written a poem that begins, “You are the bread and the knife.” But, enough clues for now.


You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Isn’t that a nice poem? It makes me smile. I can relate to the voice. … Then, I found this commentary on the Web, “An absolute masterpiece of poetic demystification. Takes the wind and bluster and pomposity out of the pretentious sails of most other poets.”

And then I knew why I liked it so much. Recently, the teachings of Adyashati have taken the wind and bluster and pomposity out of my own pretentious self. The demystification of the mystic. It is not that comfortable. It is also not that bad, and certainly very necessary. And when I figure out how to offer new commentary with no wind in my sails I’ll make more frequent postings.

(Or more probably, I’ll just re-inflate eventually…cause that’s what egos do.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Brown cow
Originally uploaded by shannonweiland.
I’ve been considering the following fragments of Adyashanti’s Teachings:

“The biggest barrier to awakening is the belief that it is something rare. When this barrier is dropped, or at least you start to tell yourself, I don’t really know if my belief that awakening is difficult is true or not, then everything becomes instantly available to you. Since this is all that exists, it can’t be rare and difficult unless we insist it is.”

Student: Letting go of our egocentricity so we can experience awakening- do you suppose it is peeled off us the way we peel an orange?
Adya: Peeling is like having a dream at night in which you dream you are going to a therapist, and you start feeling better, and you feel like you are getting somewhere. Awakening is as if you are sitting on the couch telling your story, and you are still a mess… Then all of a sudden you realize this is a dream, this isn’t real, you’re making it up. That’s awakening…But the awakeness in you is not dreaming. Only the mind is dreaming. It tells itself a story and wants to know if it is progressing… when you realize it’s all stories, there can be this vast waking up out of the mind, out of the dream. You don’t awaken, what has eternally been awake realizes itself.

“It’s not something you prepare for or earn or deserve. Awakening is a radical shift in identity. You think you’re you, but you’re not. You are eternal being. The time to wake up is now.”

Student: I want it so badly that I’ll give up anything for it.
Adya: Are you willing to give up pretending you don’t already have it?

Student: Why don’t more people become enlightened?
Adya: Because they are still finding entertainment in the dream to some extent.

So end the lessons.

I have always believed in the “peeling” theory. I presumed the serious seeker is willing to dedicate life and lifetime to getting there. And along the way, you’ll get mellower and mellower. I’ve equated “spiritual cultivation” with a cultivation of both mind and body. Ideally, you’ll do something to get to know your shadow and clean up your psychological baggage. You’ll also change your physiology. Just about every spiritual path speaks of “purification.” Be it sweat lodge, yoga, fasting… you work at detoxification and strengthening the body.

So, have I been mistaken? Can it be that quick? Well, for the past few years I have been examining my beliefs that enlightened: 1) is a rare event, 2) is too good to be true or ever happen to me, or 3) “Oh my God, what is happening now?”- (extreme incredulity of direct experience). I find that each of these beliefs merely serve to disrupt and destabilize any awakening I am experiencing. So, I am more open to the possibility that awakening can occur in a flash, than I have been in the past.

Still, even Adyashanti suggests that some preparation is required. He speaks of readiness:

“Readiness is the key to awakening. Anyone can have a glimpse of awakening, but only those who are ready for it will remain awake. Readiness means that we are no longer addicted to attachment, desire, and aversion. It means that we are truly willing to perceive and live from a completely new paradigm. It means that the truth is more important than anything else in life.”

Now I’m wondering if “remaining awake” is actually the real trick?
And if so, what does this entail?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

It Use to be a Joke.

smoken' gun
Originally uploaded by svandyke.
I can no longer recall just exactly what Pop told me to do. I was 12 or 13 and probably we had spent the evening with him explaining atomic orbitals to me, or the structure of the alkanes versus the alkenes, or the benzene ring. He may have simply said try to think something through to the very end. See if you can discover something. I was to report my “discovery” the following evening. The area of inquiry was left to my own choosing.

Perhaps the question that I posed to myself was, “What is it that you truly believe?” I do recall that I lay in bed that night trying to discover one thing of which I was “100 percent sure.” Of course, discrimination of a true absolute required very stringent testing. So first, I devised a test system for my beliefs. In my mind’s eye I suspended a revolver hanging in black space. The barrel, six feet away, pointed directly at my forehead. I then proposed to ask myself something like, “Do you really believe in God?” and pull the trigger. If I was 100 percent sure of X or Y or Z, the bullet would stop mid-flight and drop straight to the ground. Otherwise, I had had it. In this manner I tried to test as many things as I could think of from my life. In actuality, I don’t think I ever put any proposition to the test. I’d think about things first, and I always found a caveat. That was my discovery. I couldn’t think of a single thing that I believed to be absolutely true.

This seems a rather negative result, so I was really not prepared for Pop’s enthusiastic response the next night when I reported, “I’m not 100 percent sure of anything.” Well, great answer! It turns out that this idea was the essence of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle - a major discovery of physics- that Pop started explaining in greater detail. And I kept bursting in with questions, still amazed by my accomplishment.

Soon, Mom came over to see what was causing all the excitement.
“Mom, Mom, I made a discovery in physics all by myself!”

“Oh Honey, how wonderful! What is it?”

“I can’t be sure of anything!” I was so happy. But something was happening to Mom. Her face was melting into this distorted expression. She started crying.

“Don’t ever, ever doubt that I love you with all my heart! How could you doubt that?” she had pulled me into a crushing hug by now. I pushed her back to arms length.

“I considered that actually. And I do think that you love me. But, I really can’t rule out the possibility that maybe you are just being nice to me so I’ll take care of you when you’re old.”

It was not the right thing to say to Mom just then. But in the years to come, it became a good story. It became a joke.

The Truth

Steel & Blue A few Rocks too
Originally uploaded by RicKarr.

Prior to this rather cruel conversation with Mom, I’d learned enough history to know that science had got it wrong, at least in part (and often totally and horrendously), repeatedly. So, in sixth grade I started looking around to see what mistake was currently “accepted truth.”

I knew the error was a tricky thing to find. It would be completely hidden by the certainty of society's beliefs. But I had my suspicions. I didn't trust at all the rule that forbade division by the number zero.

It seemed to me that of course you could at least try to divide “Something” by “Nothing.” It simply meant you were left with what you started with and that shouldn't be a problem. (I was in college before I learned that actually you get infinity if you divideby zero. Not that I understand this concept, but at least the operation is allowed and infinity is a very interesting result.) But anyway, I decided that if arithmetic had been left to me, I would have allowed it. And of course there would be consequences.

You could divide by nothing and not change anything. Or if you divided by one, or once, you would double the number that you started with. From this it became obvious that the entire division table we'd been taught was wrong. And thus, all the calculations in the world were wrong.

What really concerned me at this point were the calculations used in the construction of all the bridges. What if really they were all in error? And what if one day the engineers woke up to this fact? Would all the bridges then collapse? I assumed they must. And in my head I saw bloody disasters all across the country. Apparently by age 12, I totally assumed that to which I now give lip service: That our beliefs determine our reality and world.

Well, I never was any good with math. And my grades in college weren’t that great, because in my eagerness to Know, I enrolled in as many science classes as allowed. By my junior year I was taking graduate level courses, was unable to do the required calculus, and had a definite tendency to get off on some tangent that was never tested. It didn’t matter.

I was looking for what I seemed important and just beyond my grasp- some piece to the puzzle, some fact, something that would provide me entry into what my seventh grade science teacher had called, “The secret of life.” I could tell when I was getting close because my whole body came alive. Like the fact, discovered when I was 19, that mitochondria- the cellular organelles that carry out respiration for us- were actually the descendents of bacteria.

My God, the implications! It seemed too large to put in words. I was left trembling in my seat there in the lecture hall. Later, I found that Lewis Thomas expressed my feelings perfectly:

Finally, there is the whole question of my identity, and more than that, my human dignity. I did not mind it when I first learned of my descent from lower forms of life. I had in mind an arboreal family of beetle-browed, speechless, hairy sub-men, ape-like, and I've never objected to them as forebears. Indeed, being Welsh, I feel the better for it, having clearly risen above them in my time of evolution. It is a source of satisfaction to be part of the improvement of the species.

But not these things. I had never bargained on descent from single cells without nuclei. I could even make my peace with that, if it were all, but there is the additional humiliation that I have not, in a real sense, descended at all. I have brought them all along with me, or perhaps they have brought me.

It is no good standing on dignity in a situation like this, and better not to try. It is a mystery. There they are, moving about in my cytoplasm, breathing for my own flesh, but strangers. They are much less closely related to me than to each other and to the free-living bacteria out under the hill. They feel like strangers, but the thought comes that the same creatures, precisely the same, are out there in the cells of sea gulls and whales, and dune grass, and seaweed, and hermit crabs, and further inland in the leaves of the beech in my backyard and in the family of skunks beneath the back fence, and even in that fly on the window. Through them, I am connected; I have close relatives, once removed, all over the place. This is a new kind of information, for me, and I regret somewhat that I cannot be in closer touch with my mitochondria. If I concentrate, I can imagine that I feel them; they do not quite squirm, but there is, from time to time, a kind of tingle. I cannot help thinking that if only I knew more about them, and how they maintain our synchrony, I would have a new way to explain music to myself.

Yes. That was it exactly. Some truths that you discover take you far beyond your confines. And this was why last night, at the age of 56, I sat upon my bed sobbing as my heart broke open. It was the first time I had ever heard Adyashanti’s actual voice. And this is what he said:

The Truth.
Why are we here if not to know the Truth?
It’s good to know why we’re here, so you don’t waste your time.
What brings us together is the Truth.
Not the truth that can be put in words. That truth, that’s a false truth.
Not a truth we can think about. That’s a false truth.
Not a truth we own. That’s a false truth.
But the Truth of you, the Truth of me, the Truth that is Life itself.
The Truth of existence.
The Truth - besides which nothing else is actually true.
That’s what brings us here. That’s what being here is about.

…never settle for static truth. Never settle for anything less than something of the nature of a revelation, something that is entirely of your being, something that is not in any way separate from you, something that’s in no way separate from them.
That’s Truth.

And that is coming home after a lifetime of seeking.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Head, Heart and Gut

Originally uploaded by Chechi Pe.
It was during the process of coming out that I first realized that to really understand something I had to “know it” in three very different ways: via the head, the heart, and the gut. As far as coming out was concerned, I started with my heart. In my heart I knew that “how I loved” was good and pure and brought out the best part of my self.

Of course, this knowing from my heart didn’t really correspond with the understanding that my head had acquired from the world in which I had grown up. I found my mind required answers to a slew of questions comprising the major Question, “Why does society hold homosexuality in such disdain?” It took a year or so of reading, snipping articles, making notes and talk, talk, talk in therapy before my intellect could settle down satisfied. With all the questions answered my head now knew what my heart had known all along. My love was good.

However, at this point it became obvious that the “issue” was still not settled deep inside. I was painfully aware that messages from head and heart had little, if any, impact upon my stomach. Apparently my gut had a mind of its own and on that level my homophobia remained basically untouched. My gut had a clutch of its own issues: fear and shame and nausea to name a few.

I was at a loss as to how “to get the message through.” It’s been over twenty years now and I cannot recall ever having a single epiphany during which my stomach was “transformed.” I think it took simply living my life, day to day for years in a loving relationship that was publicly acknowledged to finally let the message trickle through. Through simply living life eventually most if not all the residual fear and shame became erased.

Now, why bring all this up just now? Because, when I came across the following Adyashanti quote regarding the stages of enlightenment, I knew it was the same process of “getting it.” If coming out is the death of one form of consciousness and the birth into a new (and it was at least for most of my generation), then becoming enlightened is that process written large. So here is what Adyashanti has to say about enlightenment:

“For realization to be complete it has to hit on three levels- head, heart, and gut. You can have a very clear, enlightened mind, but your being won’t be dancing. Then, when the heart starts to open along with the mind, your being starts to dance. Then everything comes alive. And when your gut opens up, there is that deep, deep, unfathomable stability where that opening, who is you, just died into transparency. You are dancing- the emptiness is dancing.”

Yes! Head, heart, gut. With coming out presumably you start with heart for the issue itself starts with love. In a sense, the head is forced into playing catch-up. With enlightenment, the process starts in meditation with the mind- the monkey mind. But still, there are these three distinct ways of knowing that must also be engaged and re-educated if one is to deeply embody an enlightened consciousness.

This is hopeful information to me. A whisper of, “You can do it.”

Three Levels of Enlightenment

Originally uploaded by Flipped Out.
I was telling a friend that I’d spent the last week debating whether the fresh hand towel I’d set out in the bathroom might actually be a bathmat. She suggested checking the linen closet. If there were no others like it, then it was a bathmat.

This solution had never crossed my mind. I probably rejected it because the thought of rummaging through linen seemed an incredible busy-ness that begged the point: I wanted the “thing” itself to reveal its true name and function right to me. I didn’t want to turn away, go down the hall, and investigate the contents of some closet. So instead, day after day each time I dried my hands I’d wonder and be a bit irritated by the “thickness” (of the cloth, not my own.)

So, given that I can’t even tell the difference between a hand towel and a bathmat, I find it totally absurd that I now want to discuss distinctions in the degree and depth of enlightenment. And I suggest you ask yourself before proceeding, “Why am I reading this woman?”

Perhaps it’s Adyashanti quote about “head, heart and gut” that you appreciate. It’s interesting in itself and is a marvelous lead into what I started to discuss back in July (see the entries of the 10th and 6th). I never finished that train of thought, so let me take it up again.

Getting it with the head…
means using the intellect to discriminate between what is Self and non-Self. Maharishi called the process “the separation of Self from activity.” We no longer identify our Self with all our daily roles, functions, history or future hopes. I am no longer a molecular geneticist. Nor am I a seeker. I simply AM.

This realization, and even steps towards this enlightened awareness, gives rise to a duality, thus creating a gap between Self and non-Self (all material creation including thoughts). Back in July I was trying to explain how this process results in the experience of “witnessing” and may be based upon the neurophysiology that also causes depersonalization and/or de-realization. According to Maharishi, this depth of enlightenment is accomplished by the finest discriminatory powers of the buddhi intellect functioning at the finest level of the mind. He called the state Cosmic Consciousness or CC for short. (Hate the name, love the state. Use the abbreviation. But anyway…)

Most people don’t like CC very much. TMers complained of a flatness. The Gap itself is a somewhat disconcerting experience: like trying to engage life while looking at it through the wrong end of binoculars. You are no longer part of or mixed up in the world. And that is uncomfortable. Or as Adyashanti points out, “your being won’t be dancing.” No. It can feel like nothing really matters, for Reality has been drained from all you see. The world in essence seems to be no more real than a movie projected upon a screen- yet in this instance, somehow you can walk through the projection while the screen is a Silent Ocean of Nothingness.

It seems to me now, that the degree to which one experiences the Gap and the lack of “dancing” depends upon the type of meditation one does as cultivation. Some paths simply make it more or less obvious. Some paths can cultivate heart as they simultaneously cultivate the mind and thus the Gap won’t be so flat and lifeless. Eckhart Tolle speaks of cultivating presence and becoming a witness. This is his version of the Gap. It too creates separation between Self and non-Self as the pain body is dissolved and the ego dies. And as ego lets go, it seems like we are freer to love and so dance in ways that may surprise us.

Getting it with the heart…
allows enlightenment to be embodied at a deeper level as the heart “accomplishes the impossible.” The intellect has dissected pulled you out of what you thought you were. And the heart cannot bear the separation. Maharishi taught that a stress-free body (achieved in CC) can now support the physiology necessary for “celestial vision.”

While the intellect dove within and discovers Self (“I am That”), celestial vision takes sensory perception to the finest level of material Creation to discover “Thou art That.” One begins to see more deeply into the world and other people. You begin to see the true goodness and beauty of Life. You begin to understand in terms of what God has done. What develops is a state of consciousness so qualitatively different from Cosmic Consciousness that Maharishi called it a distinct state of consciousness: “God Consciousness.” Or, as Adyashanti describes it, “your being starts to dance.”

That dancing is due to Love, to joy. Upon the Silence, that screen upon which the non-real world has been projected the impossible is happening. That which was totally non-Real is now totally alive. It lives and breathes and is dancing and that is simply joyous. And so impossible and yet right there, it is absurd joy beyond words. Laughter rolls across the Silence and you are immersed in an Ocean of Love.

“Enlightenment: if you don’t want it, you don’t get it.”
What you don’t get is that this part of the path is “Love.” More love and beauty and joy than you thought possible.

I turn the car radio up every time that Elton John’s Crocodile Rock comes on. Because once (a long time ago and I do not want to ever forget) - once it was my direct perception that this song came directly from God. Now, isn’t that absurd? Handel’s Messiah, yes. But, Crocodile Rock? So, these days I listen carefully, and wish I knew more about music. Is it a “modulation” or how that note “resolves” itself? Is that where the Divine came through? I do not know. But, I do know that it is possible, and I hope that I never sell myself or the vision out.

Getting it with the gut…
is the only enlightenment that satisfies a non-dualist. What does this mean? In CC there is a duality of two infinities: Self and non-Self. And in God Consciousness, there is still the duality of self and God. That’s what Maharishi would say.

To Adyashanti there is both a personal and non-personal enlightenment:

“Personal enlightenment is an exclusive transcendence, in that it excludes the world of space and time. It arrives at eternity by a transcendent exclusion of the relative world… Non-personal enlightenment is an inclusive transcendence; it sees that the world of space and time is the expression of eternity. Thus, it is truly a non-dual perspective.

The implications of personal enlightenment are profound, but the implications of non-personal enlightenment are earth shattering in the most positive sense.”

Non-dualists don’t want you to stop at CC. They don’t even want you to stop at God Consciousness. They want you to get to Unity, a non-dual awareness. Maharishi said there was no technique for this. It simply takes time and getting use to living in an enlightened state. I imagine it might be something like homophobia in the gut simply diminishing with time. Time allows one to adjust to the strangeness and mind boggling nature of the new Reality. Eckhart Tolle sat on a park bench for two years before he began to “function.” It’s only then after one adjust Maharishi says, “Either I drop off or Gods drops off. Out of respect we say, I drop off.”

Adyashanti takes a more direct approach. There is no waiting around, there is simply “stopping.” This differs from a progressive path involving time and enlightenment down the road.

"Readiness is the key to awakening. Anyone can have a glimpse of awakening, but only those who are ready for it will remain awake. Readiness means that we are no longer addicted to attachment, desire, and aversion. It means that we are truly willing to perceive and live from a completely new paradigm. It means that the truth is more important than anything else in life."

I find it very interesting that his students speak of confronting “fear.” Isn’t that just the gut’s specialty! It’s also interesting that 90% of the serotonin receptors reside in the gut and that serotonin is the hormone and neurotransmitter that the scientific literature currently correlates with “self transcendence.” And finally, isn’t it interesting that Maharishi describes soma, the traditional material that gives celestial vision, as the finest product produced by digestion.

And that boys and girls, is hardly the rest of the story, but where I am going to stop today.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

For Rebecca

Allagash River
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.
Two summers ago Becky and I went alone to Allagash River in Maine- one hundred miles of a river running north to the Canadian border starting in the part of Maine that is demarcated by letter and number rather than county name. We’d paddled the hundred miles a year or two before, so this last time we knew where we wanted to stop and base camp for 2 to 3 days before moving on. The first three days the only person we saw was the ranger who came by to say hello. We were out there totally alone, except for moose and loon, pines and gravel banks, for there is a string of lakes along the river.

When we got home I was surprised to discover that I had been changed. I felt like I’d been on a long meditation retreat and that deeply held neuroses had simply disappeared. I was amazed, for I never felt “a thing,” none of that usual purging required to be free.

After your email the other morning where you described your own “lightening” that occurred by the side of the river in north Georgia, I went to take a sauna. I carried a book by Adyashanti with me and opened to these words:

The more harmonization there is, the more there is an intensification of the Truth, or radiance, within us. Of course the radiance is everywhere. We can’t get away from it. But for a period of time, it’s helpful to have some intensification in our environment. … We come to that by being willing to expose ourselves to experiences and places that make it more potent… This harmonization is the reason it’s been said that if you want to wake up, you need to hang around awakened beings. It can be awakened human beings, awakened trees, awakened mountains, awakened rivers… If we are sensitive, we can feel when environments are awakened. Human beings can be more or less awakened. So can trees or a mountain, canyon, hilltop, or a particular street corner in our neighborhood…

The old Taoists would call this “rectifying the chi.” In ancient times… the Taoist priest was called in if there was a problem in the village…. So he would trot off from his hermitage and go to the town and say something like, “Give me a quiet place, give me a cabin, and leave me alone.” There he would sit down and open himself to the chi of the environment. Now that’s a great compassion because when you open yourself to the environment, if it’s out-of-kilter, you are going to feel the out-of-kilter in your own being. But if you have enough stability, if you have enough insight, nothing in you is going to be worried about that. It’s not even going to make you suffer, but it will just happen: turbulence… The Taoist priest would sit there in the cabin and just open himself to the chi, feel it, experience it, and then open the chi to the light of his own consciousness. It could take a day, a week, sometimes a month, but he’d just expose the chi to the light of his own consciousness and the energy would start to rectify itself. Then people in the village would start to feel better and get along for awhile.

That’s why scriptures have advised us to hang out with awakened beings. The awakened one could be a human being, a tree being, a street corner being. Expose yourself to them. Don’t worship them and put them on a pedestal. But expose yourself and this rectification happens; this harmonization happens because of the state of their consciousness. But don’t become dependent. You wake yourself up.

Adyashanti Emptiness Dancing, p 28-31.

This rectification is also the subject of the book, The Developing Mind, Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience, by Daniel J. Siegel, though it is never called that. Siegel describes it as the spreading of coherence between brains. It occurs and is required between mother and child for the development of attachment and love. It also occurs between therapist and client.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Enlightenment: If you don’t want it, you don’t get it.

yet another waterdrop
Originally uploaded by paxflickr.

I am amazed and frustrated that often people who have heard about the possibility of enlightenment aren’t all that keen on going for it. All I can think is, “they must not understand.” From the bit that I have experienced, turning away from enlightenment is turning away from the opportunity to live totally immersed in love.

But, what do I know?

I have taken the liberty of condensing down the words of Adyashanti as he described what becomes of you when you awaken.

Three qualities arose in me when I experienced a deep awakening: wisdom, innocence, and love. Although they are actually parts of one whole, this wholeness can be expressed by these three qualities.

Awakening opens wisdom. [It] doesn’t mean that I suddenly became smart. It simply means I realized the Truth. This Truth is what I am. This is what the world is. This Truth is not a matter of philosophy, science, faith, belief, or religion. It is beyond all of that- far beyond.

The second quality born within this awakening was innocence. This tremendous innocence produces the feeling of an ever-present newness in life. [The] brain no longer holds and compares, so every moment is experienced as new, just as it would be in the mind of a young child. The adult mind tends to take things in [and] compare its perception to the litany of things… “Been there, done that.” The innocent mind arises when this comparison is no longer happening. This innocence could also be called humility.

The third quality that arose was love. What is born in awakening is a love of what is- of everything that is. The fact that there is anything at all seems wonderful because when the insight of awakening goes very deep, there is a realization about how tenuous existence is. I mean we see an unbelievable miracle and from that seeing there is the birth of so much love simply for what is. This is a love just for the fact that we have shoelaces or for the fact that toenails exist, that kind of love. A tremendous love arises simply for the miracle that is life, realizing that all and everything is the One.

When the awakening is very deep, we no longer operate from a place of personal self. In other words, everything doesn’t relate to “me.” Nobody can really explain what the personal self is; we just feel it. It’s a visceral thing. As we see through it, we realize that the personal self is not who we are. And as we really see into our true nature, there is a paradox that arises: the more we realize that there isn’t a self, the more intimately present we actually are.

So, what took the place of the personal self in my experience was the innocence and the love.

Adyashanti, from Emptiness Dancing

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What First Caught My Eye

Originally uploaded by impersonne.
I have become quite interested in the teachings of Adyashanti. I simply stumbled across him on a poetry site. I liked his poetry on enlightenment. It was modern. It was hard hitting.

So, I went to his website. There I was startled and then pleased by his description:

“Adyashanti dares all seekers of peace and freedom to take the possibility of liberation in this life seriously.”

“Take the possibility seriously”… this is exactly what my current practice does not do, and I have always struggled with that.

So, I started reading what I could about Adyashanti online.

And I started posting some of his writings here on this blog.

What I didn’t post were a couple of teachings that struck quite close to home and stayed most vivid in my memory.

Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special, it's not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred. I meet a lot of people who think they are enlightened and awake simply because they have had a very moving spiritual experience. They wear their enlightenment on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They sit among friends and talk about how awake they are while sipping coffee at a cafe. The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it. Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence.

I felt some guilt in reading this.
I also understood exactly how “there is no one to claim it.”

The second teaching addressed a confusion I have had since a Thanksgiving dinner several years ago with an old friend who claims to be enlightened, yet seems to possess such an ego that I am quite uncomfortable around him.

Enlightenment has nothing to do with states of consciousness. Whether you are in ego consciousness or unity consciousness is not really the point. I have met many people who have easy access to advanced states of consciousness. Though for some people this may come very easily, I also noticed that many of these people are no freer than anyone else. If you don't believe that the ego can exist in very advanced states of consciousness, think again. The point isn't the state of consciousness, even very advanced ones, but an awake mystery that is the Source of all states of consciousness. It is even the Source of presence and beingness. It is beyond all perception and all experience. I call it "awakeness."

This teaching also brings up so many questions for me that I am not even going to start.
I’m just putting this out there for whomever to take whatever.

Instead, I’ll end with something that has come into my head, a bit of a koan:

“Enlightenment: if you don’t want it, you don’t get it.”