Sunday, November 29, 2009


Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

When I was in the sixth grade I learned that throughout history science has held fast to one erroneous belief after another. This lesson totally amazed me and then and there I asked, “What is it we now accept as true but one day will discover is all wrong?”

At the time, I decided it was division by zero, which we were told dogmatically, “you cannot do.” But, if you had a quantity (5 for example) and divided it by Nothing, I figured you had to have exactly what you started with: 5. This of course meant that division by one (you divide an amount once) gave 2 and ½ not 5. It all seemed obvious to me and I ran this fantasy through my head of all the bridges in the country collapsing on the day the mathematical error inherent in their construction was discovered.

Perhaps even at age twelve I intuitively understood the power of “The Story” that we tell ourselves.

Anyway, the lesson stuck and my years in science have not dissuaded me.
The discoveries that have just amazed me often are predicated on their over turning a long held dogma of biologists. A layman would simply say, “Oh? That’s nice.”

And so it was I approached the dogma of having Bennie neutered.
Yes – everyone is neutered these days. It’s the politically correct behavior.
All the experts recommend it.
And I didn’t care. I could resist all that and did so for three years.

But, it didn’t go unquestioned. I didn’t really understand my opposition until the day I drove by the vets on my way to work.
“Why?” I wondered. "Why do I resist?" And just like that I was flooded with the images, the memory of putting Annie down, of seeing Kitty Carlisle go limp in our hands.
The small warm bodies had put their trust in me only to rewarded with…betrayal? Human frailty masked as the humane?
All I knew was I couldn’t put another animal under anesthesia, even if only temporarily.

And then, Bennie's eager pushiness became blatanly agressive.
The animal behaviorist diagnosed it as “status aggression” meaning that in a world where he is not sure, he tries to control his environment. Nice words.
In practice, it means lying in bed reading, Bennie would come, sit on my belly, give a hard stare, growl, and then lunge.
My cuddly cocker had morphed into a naremarish Cujo.

It deeply frightened me, even as it broke my heart.

The past few months have been filled with learning about dog behavior and positive training. Going against all feeling and intution, I had Bennie neutered.
Within days he had ripped his stitches out leaving a gaping hole.
He had to be sedated yet again, re-stitched with twice the sutures, and go on antibiotics.
Wearing an Elizabethian collar, no running, no jumping, training had to be put on hold.

Well, Bennie’s stitches have held this time. They’ll come out in a couple days.
He’s behavior (due to clicker training) has changed amazingly.
When I do my morning yoga now, rather than climbing all over me, he sits on his mat and watches.
He loves his puppy-pushups: sit, down, sit, down, sit, down … his exercise that avoids running and jumping.
He will rush from the living room (Ok some running is unavoidable) and jump into his crate whenever I ask, “Wanna go to the slammer?”
He’s making progress on loose leash walking, will sit and stay focused upon me, even when a squirrel or dog flaunt him.
And he loves to cuddle and be massaged with TTouch.

It’s been an intense journey for the both of us.
And I guess that’s why tears came yesterday as I read these words from May Sarton’s, The Fur Person.

“He’s a tom,” Gentle Voice would say, as if this were not the best thing in the world. “There’s no getting around it.”…
It never occurred to the Fur Person that what they were contemplating was to change his personality, not his name, to change him

He had suspected that something was brewing but The Thing Itself took him totally by surprise… His first instinct, of course, was to escape (the eight Commandment of the Gentleman Cat is: “Never allow constraint of your person under any circumstances.”) But he was after all quite mature and he soon realized that struggle would achieve nothing. So, he quieted down, his eyes very big and alarmed…

Fortunately, the Fur Person, like any respectable animal, had unlimited amounts of patience to draw on, and what he did in the hospital was simply to wait for the strange experience to be over, a prolonged and exhausting yoga exercise which left him quite weak, so weak that he hardly responded when at long last Gentle Voice lifted him out of his cage and he knew that he had been rescued…

“I don’t like that cough,” Brusque Voice said the next morning.”…
“He’s not feeling at all well, “ Gentle Voice answered. “Oh dear – that awful hospital…”

When a cat begins to lose his fur, it is a very humiliating and terrible thing…
He who had been so full of self respect that his walk (his tail vertical, his paws lifted lightfully and gracefully) was a delight to behold, now felt an impulse to hide…
And one day Brusque Voice said, “Nobody could love him who had not known him before. But we love him, don’t we? And we won’t abandon him.”…

Ah, he thought, taking a surreptitious look, after all I still do have the white tip to my tail. And I must not despair…

A strange thing was happening little by little. He was coming to understand that even if he never got well at all, his housekeepers were now more than housekeepers, they were true friends and they would not abandon him…
They did not love him for his glossy tiger coat, nor his white shirt front and white paws, nor his great green eyes, no, not even for the white tip to his tail.
They loved him because he was himself…

It is all in the name “Fur Person,” he decided then- not really a name at all… For a Fur Person, he saw in the state of his extreme concentration, is not an ordinary cat. He is a cat who is also a person… a Fur Person is a cat whom human beings love in the right way, allowing him to keep his dignity, his reserve and freedom. And a Fur Person is a cat who has come to love one or, in very exceptional cases, two human beings, and who has decided to stay with them as long as he lives.

This can only happen if the human being has imagined a part of himself into a cat… just as the cat has imagined part of himself into a human being.
It is a mutual exchange.

And such is the power of love and such is the path of love and consciousness.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to you all.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Tax for Having a Life

You have not been educated to that you could be perfect from the beginning.
You think you will be perfect at the end.
And therefore a journey comes into play, the birth of all religions comes out of this.
So do we need the journey?
For a while, that seems unavoidable… we must taste the tax for having a life.
Mooji, You Can Be Free Today

Thanks to FaceBook I have reconnected with a friend I’ve not seen in over twenty years. Mark and I taught TM together in the late ‘70’s.
What a marvel to compare notes about the path after thirty years.
We speak the same language. We share the same roots… and a lifetime of practice has flowed past the bridge.

I asked Mark which non-dual teacher he likes the best.
I wasn’t that surprised that he said, “Mooji.”
Mooji’s soft, gentle, loving manner feels so like Maharishi to me.
Turns out, Mark had the opportunity to sit an hour with Mooji in personal dialog:

My question was about my teacher of Vedic wisdom (MMY, of course) teaching that the human nervous system over time and through repeated alternation of meditation and activity develops the ability to maintain pure awareness 24/7.
His response, quite lovingly, was, "Bullshit."

Ah! So Maharishi’s teaching left Mark with the same question I had – is awakening spontaneous and in the moment, or is there some kind of process, a ripening, that’s required?
I tried to look at this sometime ago. Now’s as good a time as any to revisit the subject.
Why? Because paying the tax bill has become just about unbearable to me.

Or, perhaps these words of Joan Tollifson will make the point from yet another angle.
I came to Joan on a tip[ from another FaceBook friend. Someone I have never met and known less than a year.

Some say enlightenment is the absence of suffering,
some say it is the absence of non-functional thinking,
some say it is the end of identification with the thinking mind,
some say it is the absence of ego or the dissolution of the separate self,
some say it is the absence of any sense of agency or of being the author of the thoughts and actions that arise.

Some say it is the realization of Oneness,
others describe it as the merging of difference and unity.
Some compare enlightenment to lucid dreaming in the waking state and say that it is the abiding realization that all of consciousness is a dream state, including the entire movie of waking life and the whole spiritual search.
Some insist that enlightenment manifests only as saintly behavior and is characterized by being soft-spoken, generous, kind, vegetarian and pacifist, while others insist you can be enlightened and still be an alcoholic, a meat-eater, a womanizer, a thief, a warrior, or someone prone to angry outbursts.
Some say enlightenment happens suddenly and irrevocably at a particular time on a particular day, and that it is a permanent, final shift;
others describe it as a gradual unfolding;
and some say that it only ever happens Now and that it never happens to somebody…

Who has it right?…
Who (or what) is it, exactly, that would be enlightened or unenlightened? …

Enlightenment doesn't “happen.“
It is.
It is neither gradual nor sudden, and what is realized is both ever-present and ever-fresh.

It can appear gradual in the story where it seems (in retrospect) that awakening was a shift that unfolded slowly over time—that which is false was seen through ever-more clearly, ever-more deeply, ever-more subtly, ever-more often, ever-more completely….

To say, “I am enlightened and it happened on May 2nd at two o’clock in the afternoon,” sounds to my ear like a good story.
To say that “I am not enlightened yet, but maybe someday I will be,” sounds like a different story.
Both stories refer to a “somebody” that I have been unable to actually find, a “somebody” that is the bottomline myth or idea (the snake in the rope).
Joan Tollifson, Am I Enlightened?

I like Joan. Reading her entire article is worthwhile.
And if that is too many words, click here and watch a bit of video.
How very different from Mooji.
I just love to see the packaging!