Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A letter to a friend

"What kind of universe is this that people get tortured, children die, there's war and disease, and everything lives only by death?"

I'm not sure if there's any answer to this question, at least not a "true" one. It's obvious that there must be varying qualities for life to be experienced. We just want to be rid of the unpleasant half of the equation but that doesn't seem in any way possible. What certain people have realized is that the majority of our discontent comes from our thinking process. It's unlikely that the uncertain essence of life will fundamentally change but if we can drop our assumptions, expectations and beliefs about it, maybe we can meet and even embrace it as it is. 

For me there have been a few of what could be seen as major "awakenings." The first was to the simple fact of consciousness, the second was the realization of the folly and fallibility of knowledge and the third was the recognition that this too--this present life, as we know it, is the perfect expression of nature, just like a pine cone, that we humans are just another species trying to do what every over species does--trying to thrive. This is one of the things that can happen with cosmic stardust.

A few weeks ago, I was experiencing some new parent hell. There was no point in trying to avoid it, that would only make the suffering worse. There is some challenging shit that comes up in life, no point in trying to deny that. It seems though that everything that we live through has the potential to wake us up to another, perhaps formerly unknown realm of experience and to expand our understanding and compassion. Seeing what my mom has gone through has helped me empathize with old people and seeing what me and MJ have gone through has helped me empathize with parents.

Leaving questions unanswered

Who am I? What is the meaning of life? I think most human beings have asked these questions at one time or another in their lives. There is the bustling marketplace of belief where a great many answers to these questions are peddled with unflinching conviction but one thing that can be asked of all of those offering such wares - how do you KNOW?

For years I sought security in an image of self. Of course I preferred to have a good self image but when something within me would prove that image wrong, I felt crushed and destroyed. A negative self image isn't satisfying either and it can be proven false at any time as well. Now I try to live in the moment and see what it is showing me. All kinds of thoughts and feelings make their appearances. Now I experience life (which includes ourselves, of course!) not as a thing that can be known or comprehended but as being constantly revealed. It's strange how satisfying I find NOT thinking I have the answers.

To me, life is a great mystery. In the emptiness of mind, there is an effortless way of being. Fear is absent as there is no projecting into the unknown happening--there is only what is present. What is present? The only way to know is to be present--preconceptions and assumptions are no help here. It is an ever-unfolding journey. One has no idea where the next step will take them. It is a beautiful journey and I am filled with much gratitude. Even the rough parts of the road reveal hidden treasures and new depths. Expect the unexpected!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thinking about death...

This morning I woke up thinking about death (a rarity for me these days) and it occurred to me that death is only experienced as a problem if you think about it. What do we really know about death, other than the second-hand ideas we've picked up from one source or another? When I was younger, there was a time when I was obsessed with dying so I read as much about near-death experiences as I could since I figured that they are the closest that we have to firsthand accounts of what it's like to die. I tried to wrap my head around these accounts and come up with a viable explanation for them but really, the more I read the less I could explain them. Now I find it more pleasing or at least, less dis-easing, to not have any preconceptions--I'll find out what death is when I get there (or not).

Looking back on my little stint as a non-duality enthusiast, I can see that often our ideas about being eternal awareness or any such concepts may simply be a coping mechanism for the underlying fear of death. Afraid of non-existence and the relentless river of change that is life, we imagine and cling to the belief in an absolute, unchanging "Self" (with a capitol "S," of course!) that is untouched by anything that happens to us. I can't say with any certainty whether there is such a thing or not but it smacks to me of denial--it denies the unceasing transformation that we experience life as.

The hungry ghost of the conceptual self wants a meal (intellectual Truth) but an imaginary self could only eat an imaginary meal. Truth isn't known, only lived. Learning about ourselves and life is a never-ending journey. It is a constant revelation. Any concepts we cling to only mask what is actually taking place in this moment. It takes a very open mind and heart to be with life without armor and boundaries, then there is only life and no "me" that is believed to be apart from it. This state of openness isn't achieved but is found to be effortlessly present when we quit mistaking thoughts for reality.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wonder

When I look in my son's eyes, I see pure, undiluted wonder. As we grow older, it's hard for us to imagine being back at the beginning, looking at the universe with fresh, unjaundiced eyes but, for him, it is the only way to see. It seems we can access that same sense of wonder any time, no matter how old or young we are, by suspending our knowledge and beliefs about the nature of life.

"Ooh, it makes me wonder..." - Robert Plant

Ob La Di

Life goes on. Any conceptual footholds that I once might have taken refuge in are washed away by the flow. I am a father now. Indescribable seeing that little one born, the tiny chest heaving... life goes on.

After his birth, it struck me that many absolutist and transcendent philosophies (such as Advaita Vedanta and certain schools of Buddhism) are rooted in a fear of living. They call the world an illusion and tell the seeker of peace to control their passions and cultivate detachment. The approach could be summed up--"nothing touches." I like coming at it from the opposite angle. Instead of denying life and calling it "unreal,“ seeing that everything touches, living the reality of constant change and transformation. Detachment is a cowards way. Why seek some philosophical or physical opiate to dull one's feelings? Why not feel deeply? Is there actually a separate self that can withdraw safely into itself at all or is there only living, in it's fullness and completeness? The true path of transcendence is into the heart of life, not away from it.

This is an imperfect, linguistic representation my view at the moment, subject to change, of course!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spiritual Self-Reliance

I am now negotiating with Non-Duality press to publish "Myth of the Ego" and my latest book, "Spiritual Self-Reliance" together in one volume. Since I wrote "Blessed Disillusionment," there have been many changes in my personal life and the way I see things. I passed the manuscript for SSR to them a few days ago so it's very fresh material for me and illustrates where I'm at currently.

Here's something I posted on facebook last night about being in love with the mystery of life:

"Free from belief in limiting concepts, I live as unbounded life. No safety net. No tightrope. The wholeness of life in this moment lives itself as me. No position to be defended or forced. No shortfall or surplus. This, just as it is, enough. No description necessary to be. The mystery fills the horizon and circumference of space in even the quietest moments. The fact of existence itself, absolutely inexplicable. Nothing to buy or sell. It blows my mind how nothing I know. Eyes look outward again and again in wonderment. This is impossible. Entirely. Entirety. Eternity."

Love.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friends in Presence interview

My friend Jen Peer Rich and I recently talked on her interview series, "Friends in Presence." It was a very casual conversation about how our lives have changed since seeing through the narrow, thought-based sense of identity. The entire video can be seen here. Non Duality Press is currently editing "The Myth of the Ego" so it should be out in the not-too-distant future. Hope all is well for you.