Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Road Kill
Originally uploaded by tommy forbes.

Authentic Ignorance

From “Silence”

The mind hurls itself
into sacred questions.
But Silence remains
unmoved by the tantrums.
She asks only for nothing.


But you won’t give it to Her
because it is the last coin
in your pocket.
And you would rather
give her your demands than
your sacred and empty hands.

Adyashanti, in Emptiness Dancing.

I have been having tantrums quietly in the privacy of my own home.
To wit, tip of the iceberg: This Blog has not gone as planned.

When I began I thought that I’d be sharing some of the lessons I’d learned from my fairly intense, somewhat unique, and multi-decade experiences with meditation. This background, coupled with the fact that I’m a scientist by trade, training, and inclination, made me think that I was special and had something useful to offer.

Well, thank you.

It took awhile but what has become clear is that I simply have my own brand of ignorance and arrogance. (Ignorance and Arrogance: I should write a story about how the two met at a tea I hosted and they immediately lock-stepped into a tango… another time perhaps.)

As I was saying, I suppose we all bottle our ignorance in a somewhat unique yet generally universal form. But create a Blog in its honor?! The nerve!

Yeah. Yeah! I know, that’s called “branding.”

Oh, God! The ignorance rolls out non-stop it seems. P. Bralley taking up with “branding.” Does that mean I am finally in advertising!! Geeze.

I keep discovering the wabanga I have stepped in.
(Well, discovery is good. Wabanga is bad, said the Non-dualist.)

Anyway, today in the bathtub, it occurred to me that the byline under “Seeing for My Self” shouldn’t be “a scientist’s blah, blah ….,” but rather, “A Commentary on My Authentic Ignorance.”

What is Authentic Ignorance? It is the dribble from one whom:

1) Isn’t enlightened, yet dares to opine on the subject.
2) Knows full well that her troubles all stem from stories the ego spins out, yet continues spinning.
3) Then, upon seeing her own partaking of #1 and #2 proceeds to self flagellation with snappy little plastic bats… bang, bang, bang upon the head.
4) And finally, fully complicit in all of the above, spontaneously collapses into the laughter of self recognition and is lifted momentarily by a little wave of love.

I was pleased with this outline. Then I realized others call it “living the full catastrophe.”

OK- the Full Catastrophe, Authentic Ignorance.
Oh well.
That’s all I have to offer.

And thank you, Kalibhakta. I do enjoy this…
and promise to attempt to confine such catharsis in the future to my bathtub.

PS. Take a moment to click on the picture offered here. There’s a good commentary.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Story People
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.

Story People

I love this card from StoryPeople (a great little website- where you can sign up to receive the story of the day for free. Check the links.)

They come up with all these short pithy “stories” that have a rather amazing way of showing up at just the right time. Things like:

"I only promise the little things. The big things don't pay attention to what I want anyhow."


"this is a magical beast that holds the secret of light & shadow in a safe place in her heart & when it has been too long grey, she starts to dance & laugh & cry & sing & the sunlight fills her up & spills in wild abandon back into the world again"


"I finally settled on Buddhism, she said, but it's more than just a fashion statement. I've always done some of my best work in my bathrobe."

And then they add a drawing of these colorful people.

So, this Christmas having finally found my way through one hell, hard year I received this card, “…& there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them,” which brought tears all round, and which I still hold onto and treasure…

Then the other day it hit me, “Story People” - we are the people who tell ourselves all these stories. Noble stories, funny stories, tragic stories… all these stories that Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti have so clearly shown cause all the Trouble. All these stories that the ego spins to hold itself separate and special and ultimately ignorant. If I didn’t know for sure before, I do know now- just how subtle, delicious, seductive remaining ignorant can be.

So, what’s your favorite story?

I think mine regards “the seeker.”

But, that’s another story.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thy Will not My Will

Originally uploaded by osbock.
When you allow awakeness in, you will find that it plays games with your life. It doesn’t move according to the agenda of the little me, the one who has all these ideas about this or that happening when you awake. The awakeness could care less about the agendas you have. It’s moving, and it’s not listening to what you want, and you are grateful that it’s not listening. You discover that it has its own movement, which I suppose is what real surrender is- following that movement. This is the real meaning of “Thy will be done.”

Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing, p13

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Asleep in a Dream

Caught in the Web
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.
It's only a vague memory now. Was it Mom singing "Asleep in a Dream" or was it Pop singing, "Asleep in the Deep? And did one of them play it on the piano? So long ago, but I still can hum the melody. Even at five it haunted my heart.

And over fifty years later I find I have made this painting. A child in cocoon. A child waiting to awake. A child caught in the strings and webs of life?

Mystics say it's just a dream from which we're waiting to awake.

I'm waiting.
I'm waiting.
I hear this melody playing upon my heart.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Abrupt and Sudden… a Commentary

Defining Boundaries
Originally uploaded by HatHome.
I’ve been asked to explain my understanding of the story of Abrupt and Sudden, which goes like this:

The lord of the south sea was Abrupt; the lord of the north sea was Sudden. From time to time Abrupt and Sudden got together in the territory of Primal Unity, and Primal Unity treated them very well.

Abrupt and Sudden planned to repay Primal Unity’s kindness.

They said, “People all have seven openings, through which they see, hear, eat, and breathe; Primal Unity alone has none. Let us make openings in Primal Unity.”

So every day they gouged out a hole. After seven days, Primal Unity died.

To me, this story is a lesson in not insisting upon poking holes or making divisions in something that by its very nature is Unity. In short, it urges us not to live in ignorance of our own state which is One with the Tao.

Abrupt and Sudden represent humans living only their relative, ever changing natures. Lords of the Seas, their consciousness is localized in the shallow, choppy waves of seas. They seem unaware of the silent depths of the true ocean- the territory of Primal Unity. So they insist upon trying to make Primal Unity appear just like themselves… a big mistake.

So upon first reading, to me, the story is about the interplay between the Absolute and Relative: the Unbounded, never changing and the Bounded, ever changing. So, you could say the story is about boundaries.

And that is why this story probably has its greatest impact emotionally on a more personal level, for “boundary issues” are played out in most personal relationships and are the grist for a lot of painful therapy. The impact of this pain, familiar to us all, is in this short story as boundaries are violated through innocent ignorance.

The story has this sweet feel going and then it says, “So everyday they gouged out a hole.” With that one word, “gouged,” things take on this whole other direction and feel. Gouge is not a nice word. It speaks of violence. It speaks of abuse.

Abrupt and Sudden, out of kindness, thought Primal Unity should be different. And they forced their ideas upon him.

How often have we received similar treatment? How often have we been the perpetrators?

Make no mistake- Everyday we give as surely as we get.

One Further Thought

Hole II. Rameswaram
Originally uploaded by entrelec.
“Perpetrator” is a heavy word.
So let me end with these additional words (abridged) from Pema Chöndrön’s “Awakening Loving-Kindness”:

[The Buddha] taught that there is a kind of innocent misunderstanding that we all share…as if we were in a dark room and someone showed us where the light switch was. It isn’t a sin that we are in a dark room. It’s just an innocent situation…

The innocent mistake… is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is with gentleness. Instead there is a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to get away from painful things, and if we could just learn how to get away from painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent, naive misunderstanding that we all share, which keeps us unhappy.

Meditation is about seeing clearly… It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now… It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness…

The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. … Our neurosis and wisdom are made of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom. Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy … that’s the reason people love that person.

The idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness. …The gentleness involves not repressing the anger but also not acting it out. It is something much softer and more openhearted. … So whether its anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression- whatever it might be- the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. That means getting to know it completely… and… once you’ve experienced it fully, to let it go.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jeanette Winterson: We Make a Difference

In the Wind
Originally uploaded by AZ Sun God.

My apologies to those I’ve promised “answers.” I’m working on them. Meanwhile, I came across this from the February column of the poet, Jeanette Winterson. (I’ll add a link to her.)

I love her spirit!


I was reading about the polar bears today, and how we will have destroyed their habitat within our life-time. Meanwhile the oil-men are pleased because they are going to be able to drill into permafrost and run their 4x4’s for longer.

For the first time ever, I have momentarily given way to despair. I look at my geo-thermal heating system, and my eco-bulbs, and my recycling, and my half a bag of rubbish per week, and all the trees and hedging I’ve planted – not just now but over the years, and I feel like I’ve done nothing – or rather the something that I have done is nothing.

But I know I can’t think like that. No matter how little, no matter how pointless it seems it has to be done, because as well as the direct impact, there is something harder to quantify, which is a spirit of change. And that only happens when more and more of us believe that our efforts are worth the effort.

If one more person says to me ‘Ah but China… meaning so what’s the point of anything we do, I will stuff their smug, knowing despondent face in a bucket of low-fat yoghurt.

HOW WE LIVE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. If we fall victim to the ideology of apathy we go straight down into that Dante circle of Hell reserved for those ‘who wilfully live in sadness.’ The sad shake of the head, the worldly-wise shrug of the shoulders, what can we do? Answer – everything we can do, big and small, and bring up the kids to do better. There might still be time. I believe in second chances and miracles, whatever the weather, whatever the science. Oh God, give it a go. Who is to say for sure that it’s too late?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Speaking of Faith, HERE

It's a Small World
Originally uploaded by bubba trout.

A friend came for tea and a visit yesterday. After years of depression and exhaustion she's gone off her medication to simply be with what she feels. She is tired of doing "as she should." She's tired of being her “husband’s bracelet” at affairs where people speak of things that hold no interest for her. She wants to do what she has longed for since she was a little girl.

She wants to touch God.

And she is no longer going to be put off by lack of permission, a checklist of obligatory to do’s, nor the terrifying Nothing that she sees inside. She decided to do what makes her happy, despite her minister’s warning against self-indulgence.

So she came to tea and held Bennie in her lap and ran her fingers through his fur and bit into her first falafel.

So, here. Here is a poem to her courage. Here is tribute to her choice and to her path.

Here is for all of us.

I came by it via National Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith program on depression, the link to which you’ll find either below or under links.


is a tree abundant with lemons, in dark midwinter. Here
is another instance of embrace, you call it
the ocean meeting the horizon. Here
is your chair, your orange cat, your cup of cranberry tea.
Here is the rain no one was sure would fall.
Here is the conversation, did you think
you wanted another? Here is your daughter
coming downstairs to call her dog, this dog,
who bounded into our lives the summer you thought
nothing so comical would ever again be possible.
Here is the love that seemed impossible, as much
in your hands as that rock you're holding,
picked from the crest of a hill you thought
you didn't have the strength enough to climb.
Here is your joy, that created itself
without your knowing it;
here is the sunlight pouring through leaves
of pyrocanthus, lush red berries, the last sunlight today
between layers of cloud & evening.
Here is the life you meant when you said
to your friends after the walk & the good
morning's work, I wish I were living
my days like this, & she
handed you the carrots she had peeled
only for you, just at that
moment, & smiled
at everything, & said to you, You are.

Anita Barrows poet, psychologist, and translator of Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

And in case I don’t get the link put in, here it is for Speaking of Faith in simple text: