A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Alan Watts: A Conversation with Myself-Part 3

Part 4 of this talk is available on YouTube.  These videos by Alan Watts are profoundly mind-opening.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"To accept that our organism is a mere phenomenon, a fleeting emanation from the original source, something of no particular interest, whose individual destiny is quite insignificant, this is to be the originating source of everything."
Hubert Benoit, The Light of Zen in the West, 1955, p. 28.

There is liberation in realizing and accepting one's relative insignificance on the level of form.  The story of our lives is ultimately unimportant, no matter how grand or wretched; what does matter is this breath in this moment, the unfathomable fact of life itself.

The story-line, the content, of our lives can be honored, and we naturally will do the best we can on this level, as Eckhart Tolle says.  But to feel that the story of my life is all-important is to be lost in delusion.  I then overlook the infinite abundance of being that is actually the substance of everything that is.

Losing interest in the story isn't depressing but exhilarating. Consciousness is no longer so entranced by the spell of my-story, and it is freed to be conscious of life now and here.

An infinite sense of aliveness awakens.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Is happiness a disease?

Depression is called a disease, but not happiness.

Genuine sadness and depression are better than fake happiness.  

Sadness may be a symptom of healing from the disease of false happiness. It may be a step in the right direction, closer to truth and reality. We ARE reality, and yet as far as conscious experience goes, we may live in a fantasy world created by the mind that is mistaken for reality.

Who hasn't suffered from the disease of fake happiness? There's a massive epidemic, the whole world is mesmerized by the pursuit of fake happiness, the happiness found through the ego gratification of success, recognition, relationships, acquisitions, etc.

The spiritual awakening happening individually and collectively today  is not immune from this error. Spirituality can be fake happiness. I've used (mis-used) spiritual truth myself that way many times, and still fall into this trap.  "I am awareness" can become another story used to pretend that I don't feel the sadness and confusion roiling around inside.

All I can do is notice the bigness of not-knowing that surrounds my small story-of-knowing.

Reality is just so real! I know that sounds dumb- but there is this zoom lens that is closer than any cognition- there is this dynamite of non-verbal reality- uncategorized, un-thought, un-tampered with- so abundant and unavoidable- that is equally present in sadness and happiness.  

The more I allow the genuine sadness and fake happiness and all the rest to do its dance- the more this Reality reverberates in infinite openness.


Great interview with Tim Freke

Monday, September 27, 2010


I notice that there is a strangle-hold of guilt on every cell in my body and it has been there for decades. Unnoticed. Wow. What is constant becomes invisible and completely unnoticed.

It's a nameless, constant guilt, and it has been choking me for a long time.

And what am I guilty of?

One thing only. I'm guilty of not doing all the things I think I should do.

When I wash the dishes I'm guilty of wasting water by letting the tap run. When I drive through McDonald's I'm guilty of destroying the environment and my body. The drip of guilt in the veins is continuous.

I try to out run it, to throw off the dreadful weight of guilt in a thousand ways every day. I donate to charity. I pay the fine for my transgressions by punishing myself with an internal barrage of self-criticism. I meditate, I pray, I read, I try to find some refuge from the guilt, I rest in the purity of open awareness. I clean the house, hug the children, give undivided, silent, loving attention to the people I work with, look my husband in the eyes and tell him he is the best man I have ever known. I scurry frantically from one good act to the next all day long in an effort to stamp out the feelings of guilt, as if I were stamping out a fire in the house.

Still, the guilt hunts me, it finds me like predator finds prey.

I'm telling you this because I see this circle of running from guilt  has been the substance of my life as seen from the point of view of the mind.

Guilt is a mind-created fiction and it drives people nuts, me included. "Might is right" says guilt as it uses whatever tactics of coercion it can to manipulate the body towards the idealized behavior.

Guilt is supposed to be the inner police man that prevents wrong acts. Yet maybe it is the fuel that propels acts of destruction.

I've been running from guilt all my life and now I am looking at it directly. In this looking it disappears.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Being present with pain

When I was a kid I was horrified to hear that wheat was being dumped in the ocean to drive up food prices while people were dying from lack of food.  

Today I wonder if there is a dumping of emotional pain into some inner psychic ocean when that pain holds hidden nourishment that could revive dying parts of the soul.  In other words, pain is rejected, run from, hidden, dumped onto some "bad guy", etc. but not metabolized, not received, not acknowledged, not integrated into the whole. Externalized pain turns into paranoia. It turns into blame and resentment, it crusts into mistrust and an intensifying sense of alienation.

What doesn't run away from pain?

What can meet pain truly, remaining unshielded by judgment, condemnation, rationalization, or any other armor of the mind?

I've wondered about this for a long time in my work as a psychiatrist. I've seen and felt my own heart clamp shut in the presence of pain many times, passing the box of tissues, wanting the tears to turn off.

It's shutting out the pain that causes pain. Closing the heart hurts; it doesn't block out hurt.  It shuts it inside.  When the heart opens wide enough for me to fit inside it I disappear.

Sometimes it seems like we're a planet gone mad in our rush to run from pain--  turn on the TV, turn up the volume, order another helping, plan another project, buy another gizmo, throw another bomb, but for God's sake, keep all the pain at bay however you can.  Maybe each day we are being backed up closer against the wall of our own avoided pain.

How do we avoid pain and what are the costs? And what is the alternative? And are we running from a hidden wealth? And can we feel mercy for the way we shrink away from pain?

There's only one thing that can meet pain and it is not a thing.

Let pain be an invitation to the one thing (non-thing) that can meet it.

Gratitude for photo: Steve Satushek/Getty images


Unglued is an apt term, and often, a good thing.

I came unglued during some drama with my family yesterday. My upset-button got pushed, not by my family, but by my believed thoughts. 

Un-gluing is painful, like birth pangs, the birth of openness, the birth of nothingness, the void.

My self-image was threatened and a cascade of protective measures shot into action in the form of blaming, accusing, projecting, shouting, arguing. Protecting what? Protecting the cherished idea in the head of who I am. Protecting the image in the mind's mirror.

Unglued, pulled apart, taken off the pedestal in my own mind. Who do I think I am?

Today there's some fasting, some thought fasting. There's a part of me that is sick-unto-death-of-thoughts-about-me. 

Those me-thoughts clunk themselves out, self-reflection is an old habit, but at least I'm a bit unglued from the insanity in my head.
And I've apologized to my family, both in spoken and written words, and my apology is real, and I wish to make repairs and amends however I can, and life goes on.  And I hope the thought-structures of the imagined egoic identity become more unglued in the usual bumps and bruises of daily living.

Let all the bombs be inside of me not outside of me and let them blow away delusion.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Stop trying

I was sitting in some long meetings today and these words arose in awareness: Stop trying. Below the radar of conscious awareness there was a lot of chronic trying going on. Trying to look good. Trying not to mess up. Trying to stay safe and comfortable. Trying to do a good job.

But does the trying produce a
 job well done? Perhaps sometimes, but more often the trying seems to impede the flow of energy.

Effortlessness is the valve through which good pours forth into this world.

The words repeated softly a few times throughout the day: Stop trying. Stop trying. This is another way of saying: allow what is to be. There was an upwelling of energy and quietness as the habitual contractions of pointless efforting eased.

I shared these thoughts on Facebook and my friend Vicki Woodyard made this comment:

"One day I will have a needlepoint pillow to remind myself: 'The answer is not Try Harder.'"

Amen to that!  The less driven I feel, the more genuinely productive I am.  We need a new work ethic where work is experienced as play....


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Claiming Reflex

Watching satsangs with Paul Hedderman on ustream and reading the wonderful wealth of communications here on the internet, there is a noticing of something that has previously been unnoticed.

At lightning speed, there is an automatic claiming mechanism for feelings and thoughts that arise.  The possessive personal pronoun "my" is inserted into every arising, and this creates the illusion of egoic identity.  The feeling of anger arises and it is immediately clutched onto with the possessive identification of the thought "I am angry."  It seems too obvious to question that this anger, misery, excitement, whatever, is happening to "me."

Looking closely reveals that the "my" is tacked on after the thought or feeling arises.  It's not really "my" thought or feeling, it's just thoughts and feelings.  It's unbelievable what a difference there is between "I am miserable" and "sensations of misery are present here."  Without the automatic, unconscious ownership of mind stuff, it becomes quite benign.

The ownership reflex happens so quickly here that it can't be stopped - but that is actually not a problem. What is so astonishing is the simple seeing of this whole process!  Now that the seeing is happening, it is simple, effortless, and unstoppable.  The ownership or claiming reflex doesn't even need to be stopped-- because in just seeing this process occurring as it occurs- the gig is up! For example, as I'm typing these words, the claiming-reflex may come up. What this looks like in this instant is  maybe the ego wanting to claim this note as having something interesting to say....so, okay claiming reflex--- claim away- churn up the usual brew of guilty pride and painful doubt- go right ahead and have a party! It's not a problem, it's just a magic trick, a sleight of hand where the grasping reflex of ownership applied to thoughts and feelings creates the illusion of a personal entity.  Watch the whole spectacle- and remain unfooled by it.

Ramana Maharshi said if you are standing on a train there is no point in carrying your luggage on your head. Put your luggage down and let the train carry the load, for the train is carrying the luggage whether you set it down or burden yourself with carrying it. In claiming to carry the luggage myself I may feel very important as an exhausted and dutiful burden-carrier (my whole personal history, etc.).  I may love making myself miserable by carrying all this mind-stuff. But the fact is that the train-- life- is really carrying what is.

Carrying the luggage is to clamp onto every thought and feeling and experience as more evidence of "me."  Putting the luggage down is to see that there is no "my" story- there are only stories- arisings and passings in awareness.  Even when that automatic claw machine of possessiveness claims this experience as "mine", it can be seen for what it is (i.e. as not mine, not evidence of a personal entity), and no longer cause distress.  The neuroses, the conditioned patterns of mind, the reactivity, are still here, but they are no longer a huge burden called "me and my life"- they are just part of the dance, and "I" am no longer possessed by them...

Gratitude to Paul Hedderman, satsang can be watched at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9143973

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I once came across a poem that keeps surfacing in consciousness at odd and expected moments. I read it slowly from time to time, drinking it in, and every time it opens a new doorway within.


by Jane Hooper

Please come home.  Please come home.
Find the place where your feet know where to walk
And follow your own trail home.

Please come home.  Please come home into your own body,
Your own vessel, your own earth.
Please come home into each and every cell,
And fully into the space that surrounds you.

Please come home. Please come home to trusting yourself,
And your instincts and your ways and your knowings,
And even the particular quirks of your personality.

Please come home.  Please come home and once you are firmly there,
Please stay home awhile and come to a deep rest within.
Please treasure your home.  Please love and embrace your home.
Please get a deep, deep sense of what it's like to be truly home.

Please come home.  Please come home.
And when you're really, really ready,
And when there's a detectable urge on the outbreath, then please come out.
Please come home and please come forward.
Please express who you are to us, and please trust us
To see you and hear you and touch you
And recognize you as best we can.

Please come home.  Please come home and let us know
All the nooks and crannies that are calling to be seen.
Please come home, and let us know the More
That is there that wants to come out.

Please come home.  Please come home
For you belong here now.  You belong among us.
Please inhabit your place fully so we can learn from you,
From your voice and your ways and your presence.

Please come home.  Please come home.
And when you feel yourself home, please welcome us too,
For we too forget that we belong and are welcome,
And that we are called to express fully who we are.

Please come home.  Please come home.
You and you and you and me.

Please come home.  Please come home.
Thank you, Earth, for welcoming us.
And thank you touch of eyes and ears and skin,
Touch of love for welcoming us.

May we wake up and remember who we truly are.

Please come home.
Please come home.
Please come home.

Gratitude to Cynthia Bourgeault, author of The Wisdom Way of Knowing, where I found this poem: http://www.contemplative.org/cynthia.html

Monday, August 16, 2010

Volumes of silence

A few weeks ago I came across this photo of a 12 month old boy being prepared for burial in 2001 after he died of dehydration in a refugee camp. Looking at the image there is horror at this baby's untimely death, mixed with a sense of profound wonder at the beauty of his peaceful countenance. There is such palpable love and reverence in the many hands carefully preparing this child for burial. I post this photo because it continues to speak volumes of silence within me.

It's been a chaotic few weeks with tons of stuff happening, and I ask myself if I have an image or expectation of how I'm supposed to weather these stormy seas (hospital and ER visits with Chris, an intoxicated person threatening one of my children, a loved one coping with dementia, and many other experiences)- and the answer is "yes!"- I absolutely have an image of how I'm supposed to weather life's storms. I'm supposed to be unflappable, serene, wise, a cross between Eckhart Tolle and Mother Teresa- NOT!  What a strait-jacket it is to have all these images of how I'm supposed to be, and then the secret internal-editor busily deleting all feelings that don't jive with the worshiped image of "how I'm supposed to be."

It's exhausting pretending to be someone I'm not.

And yet the pretending becomes a habit with a life of its own.

The flower doesn't control its reactions or strive to be peaceful, it just is itself.  It doesn't have a me. It doesn't need to have a me to be fully itself.  

I wonder if people also don't need a me to be fully themselves.  Even though I think I have a me, maybe there is in fact no me here typing these words, just as there is no cut-off and separated me in the flower curving in the sun.  There is an idea of me, there are plenty of ideas of me all over the planet, but maybe the fact is that there is not a me anywhere in all the universe, there is just life.  Life doesn't need a me.  It's absolutely complete without a me.

Chameli Ardagh talks about realizing that "this me I have been trying to get rid of is not really a thing.  It's not really there so there's nothing to change."

It's a bit hideous to imagine a flower with a me.  A flower with an ego.  Kind of ridiculous.  Maybe it's just as ridiculous to imagine myself or any other person as a me.  A me is a mental phenomenon, an idea, nothing more.  It's fine and will help me to take Mary out for some errands after I finish posting this.  But this mental phenomenon called me doesn't have to consume all my life energy in endless obsessions with protection and gaining.

It's exhausting pretending to be who I'm not, and maybe without realizing it I've been busy pretending to be a me when I'm not and never could be a me.  Maybe I'm fine without me.  Maybe I'm life here, undefined and undefinable.

Maybe that's easier than I think.

Time to take Mary for back-to-school errands.  Chameli says when we forget about me there is a noticing of love...

Indeed, this turns out to be the case.  The egoless flower and all of nature- including human beings- are the energy of great benevolence fluxing through form.  The child being prepared for burial and his caretakers...

Thank you for words from Chameli Ardagh available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Women-Extraordinary-Wisdom-Awakening/dp/1846940680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264527334&sr=8-1
And also here: http://www.youtube.com/user/NeverNotHere#p/u/3/SlaHtyyrZtk

Gratitude to Erik Refner for photo, and to the family of the child for allowing his burial preparation to be photographed. http://www.archive.worldpressphoto.org/search/layout/result/indeling/detailwpp/form/wpp/q/ishoofdafbeelding/true/trefwoord/year/2001

Gratitude for flower photo taken by Bahman Farzad

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sound and Light

Years ago I came across two sentences and they have never left me:

"The spiritual journey," says Thomas Keating, "is not a career or success story. It is a series of  humiliations of the false self that becomes more and more profound."

The world stood on its head.  For decades I had been seeking accumulation and self-enhancement when in fact all along the deeper longing was for the very opposite: diminution of that heavy burden of an imaginary ego-self .

This morning I was watching a video of Dr.Vijai Shankar  in which he asks, "What is thought?"

               I paused to consider this.

Thought is a word, he observes.

And what is a word?

               Again, I stopped to wonder what a word actually is.

A word is a sound.

              Thought is essentially a sound vibration, whether it is uttered out loud or not.

Mind is thought.

Thought is sound.

Mind is sound.  It is a vibration, a pattern, an appearance.

There is sound (mind) and light (awareness).

There is sound and light, there is mind and awareness: these are the two indivisible dimensions or aspects of reality.

Sound is form, light is formless, and they are one.

There is sound and the light of consciousness that is aware of sound. 

Sound and light occupy the same space and are inseparable.

For much of my life attention has been circumscribed to the thought-trance, hypnotized by the sound of the mind.

Yet the light bathes everything and it has always been free.

This light feels like home, and it does not make a sound.  The light loves sound without needing to make a single sound itself.

Gratitude to Thomas Keating, quote is from his book
Gratitude to Dr. Vijai Shankar
Gratitude for photo: http://www.coosacreek.org/way/?m=200910

Monday, August 2, 2010

"If you really knew me..."

I was very struck by this two minute video.

There are several good related YouTube videos based on an MTV show called "If you really knew me..."

Today I don't want to pretend to be happy.  Happiness comes and goes, and there seems to be a tendency to cover over feelings of unhappiness.  To hide those feelings both from myself and others.

If I'm pretending to be happy the first step toward happiness is recognizing my unhappiness.  Who doesn't live with blinders on regarding their own buried depths of pain?


Two way mirror

Reality is like a two way mirror:  looking through it one way everything is meaningless, through the other way, everything is meaning incarnate.


Gratitude for painting by Belgian painter Rene Magritte, titled "The False Mirror", 1928

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday morning

Jack, my ten-year old son and I, were watching Weird Al Yankovic videos on YouTube like "Trapped in the Drive Thru" and just generally hanging out when a natural pause occurred.

"You wanna do a meditation?" I asked. "Sure," Jack responded.

A spontaneous guided meditation appeared that we both enjoyed.  I've been interested in sensing what is most immediate and primary, what is closer than any sensation or thought.  There are different words used to point to the immediacy and directness of the life that is here even prior to any sense perceptions or mind activity.  Words like presence, being-ness, awareness.

So in this meditation Jack and I started with the realms of sensation and thought and then opened to the realm of simply being.

It went something like this, with huge open pauses between each sentence:

Listen to the sounds that are occurring now.

Can you hear the sound of your own breathing?

Can you feel the air touching your arms?

Notice whatever thoughts are appearing.   Notice whatever feelings and emotions are present.

Now be aware of what is closest.

Can you feel your own presence?

Can you sense your own being?

Allow yourself to know fully the fact that you are here now.

When you feel your own life force here very clearly, you will notice something very interesting.

You will notice that now you can sense this same life force in everything else.

As you sense your own presence, look at the tree outside the window and feel its presence too.  Trees are full of presence.

Feeling your own being, you can sense the being of another person.
Keep feeling the fact that you are here, and now sense the reality, the being, of everything in this room- the table, the walls, everything is full of presence.

Feel the life energy inside of you and at the same time feel the life energy of everything that is here.

This is oneness.

We were silent and still sitting next to each other on the couch for some time.

There was a sense of the mind slowing down, a sense of being alive, present, and real.

Then we went with Greg to see the new Steve Carrell comedy, "Dinner for Schmucks", which we thoroughly enjoyed.  Now Jack is calling me so it's time to sign off.  Hope you enjoyed sharing this meditation with us.

Essence is everywhere, don't try to find it, just notice the fact that you are alive and aware right now.

Sensing the alive awareness that we are is easy, it just tends to be an underused ability in a mind-dominated civilization. For an instant, stop looking away from this moment into some kind of imagined superior moment.  Don't make it hard, simply feel the life that you are now- the life that doesn't need improvement and that couldn't possibly be improved.

Gratitude for photo, from this link: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Assets/Environment/Sustainability/Green%2BTree%2BPic.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Environment/10_Ways_to_Reduce_Greenhouse_Gases.htm&usg=__kAodJHRmoNrjwfIGFNu781Eluq4=&h=853&w=1280&sz=322&hl=en&start=150&sig2=nnj27xQ1YBjD9vFyCKQhYQ&tbnid=R3nvESuKiiIIwM:&tbnh=157&tbnw=209&ei=W6hUTOKoH8qAnwftjtSTBA&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dtree%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1366%26bih%3D641%26tbs%3Disch:10,3758&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=1050&vpy=214&dur=1259&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=210&ty=77&page=8&ndsp=18&ved=1t:429,r:11,s:150&biw=1366&bih=641

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Internet for Peace

I enjoy being able to communicate with people all over the world on a one to one basis through this blog, and through email and Facebook and many websites and blogs. There is the chance to speak honestly about things that matter and to see how much we have in common.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Listening to life

I was getting Chris, my 16 yo son with cerebral palsy, ready for school this morning, and Barney was singing a song on the DVD, "You are my hero."

I told Chris he is my hero, and I mean that 100%.

What  is a hero?  Chris is a transparent window beaming sunshine effortlessly all day long.  He doesn't try to be loving, he can't help but be loving- it's just who he is.

Lately I'm feeling more keenly this formless life energy that I am, that Chris is, that we all are, the invisible spring beneath the body and mind.  I'm noticing that it wants to move, to go along in the invisible current of  life that is right here now beneath all the mind's stories of unhappiness, and that I can feel its quiet pulse and follow it.  I whisper in its ear, "What would you like to do?" and I feel it move within me.

Eckhart Tolle has said that he doesn't ask so much, "What do I want?"  Rather, he asks, "What does Life want?"  In the end they turn out to be the same question,  for I and Life are one and the same.  But due to confusions of language and mind, the word "I" is also used to mean its opposite, which is ego, the pseudo-self that is an object made out of thoughts and images, created by mind activity.   The true I is anatta, egolessness, the formless being that we all share, that is one.

Chris can't walk or talk, yet he is clearly more productive and contributes more to this world than many CEO's ever will.  He is the hero of my heart. Thank you Chris for Being, the greatest gift of all.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Uncontrived authenticity

Meaning is not found in thought, but in an immediacy closer than thought. Meaning is the substance, the clay, out of which everything is made. It is the suchness of what is, before the mind pulls it into the funnel of thought.

Reality is what we are. Not what the mind says. Mooji points out that in a crowded restaurant the cacophony around us is naturally overlooked as we experience the sweet conversation with a friend, and in the same way, all the voices in the mind telling us who we are can become no more than peripheral background noise when attention is no longer fixated on them.

The uncontrived authenticity of being alive is happening right now and every moment without a single word, and it is this above all that we want- to be real. We already have what we want, we already are real and authentic. When the mind starts going (out of habit) with endless notions of "should be more," all that can be like background noise in a restaurant, easily overlooked, while the flow of consciousness is naturally present to the suchness of This Life, felt fully within and without. The flow of aliveness is felt within the body, and awareness plunges effortlessly through the eyes and ears, breath moves in and out, and there is nothing to search for but everything to enjoy and be grateful for.

"...the meaning we are experiencing is not the conceptual meaning; it is the very presence of reality."

A.H. Almass, The Unfolding Now, p. 77.

Seeing the waves and being the ocean is happening right now for everyone, it is the natural state.

The anxious restless energy pattern of "something not right" or "needing to find enlightenment" is recognized as simply a transient energy pattern and nothing more. No energy pattern can disturb the vastness in which it occurs.

Not needing to be special. Not needing to be awakened or saved or enlightened or different in any way from this as it is now. The beauty of anonymity, of being undefined and unseen and image-free even in the mind's eye.

The reality of being- this present wealth- eases the misguided longing for personal specialness or enlightenment.

"The preciousness of being is your true specialness." Eckhart Tolle


Saturday, July 17, 2010


What doesn't have to be maintained?

What doesn't have to be propped up?

What is here effortlessly?

What doesn't need to know how to do anything?

What doesn't need to know what to do?

What is comfortable not doing anything?

What is comfortable with whatever is being done?

What is all right as it is?

What doesn't need to change?

What isn't going anywhere?

What doesn't need to get somewhere?

What is here when there is no pushing against anything?

What is here in the absence of thought?

What is being here right now without the slightest effort?

Gratitude for photo:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.newark1.com/images/beautiful-flowers.jpg&imgrefurl=http://newark1.com/2009_07_01_archive.html&usg=__OcTg9vGIUIfuK2KlH0ZdCnZ14d4=&h=285&w=409&sz=17&hl=en&start=1&sig2=zJkuNOEJfxnQl78r2KMY0Q&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=rusZ9ttB7BWBSM:&tbnh=87&tbnw=125&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbeautiful%2Bflowers%26tbnid%3DrusZ9ttB7BWBSM:%26tbnh%3D0%26tbnw%3D0%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26ndsp%3D18%26imgtype%3Di_similar%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=ozZCTIftJOWznAeS1oCbDw


Monday, July 12, 2010

Pure beingness

"...there is somebody here, some pulsing alive loving being, that has nothing to do with your life experience or your opinions or your value system."

Jan Frazier

It is possible to inhabit this emptiness of sheer being, even in the tumult of the busiest day.

In any case, this alive being, this true nature, is fully here at all times, whether it is noticed or not.


Gratitude to Jan Frazier, quote is from essay, "The New Adventure".  http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/blog/index.php?s=The+New+Adventure&searchsubmit=Go

Gratitude for photo, from this link:  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://beautiful-garden-waterfalls-screensaver.smartcode.com/images/sshots/beautiful_garden_waterfalls_screensaver_27842.jpeg&imgrefurl=http://beautiful-garden-waterfalls-screensaver.smartcode.com/screenshot.html&usg=__SBGRcCGDUF1uyZ7NKvYgiH5X8K4=&h=768&w=1024&sz=161&hl=en&start=24&sig2=crCsRQLSM2ymUT0JxenKTw&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=kJfTXyAMNv5UOM:&tbnh=113&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbeautiful%2Bimages%26start%3D18%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26ndsp%3D18%26tbs%3Disch:1&ei=4qI7TNDcCIv8nAfzuLSbAw

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.

Chinese proverb

I used to feel that a moment free from thought had no particular value. I used to feel that thinking was a better way to spend time than not thinking. I used to wallpaper every moment with a million ruminations.

Thinking felt productive, like it was getting me somewhere, finding answers, figuring life out. A blank mind, free of thought, was a wasted moment. It was zoning out, vegging out, goofing off, being frivolous. Thought was the vehicle to wisdom, understanding, and insight.

I was bound and determined to think-my-way to happiness.

And every thought took me away from the realm of no-thought that is happiness itself.

It has also been a surprise to discover that alert no-thought is actually more intelligent than thought. The space of no-thought is the source of any intelligence that shows up in thought. The no-thought that is "upstream" of thought is the source of creativity and wisdom.

While thought can be a beautiful and powerful tool, a lot of thought is unnecessary and destructive. Who doesn't have a merciless voice of internalized self-criticism? Or, even worse, a secret voice of thought that whispers hopes of personal specialness? Self-hatred and narcissism are two sides of a coin that have one thing in common: me, me, me. Which is the point of the bulk of thought: to conjure and perpetuate this huge fiction of separate me-hood. Thought builds up an imagined sense of me that must be constantly maintained and expanded. It is exhausting. It is a parasite draining life energy.

The me-image is fragile and flimsy and insecure by nature, as any image is a frail and evanescent thing. An image (especially the self-image) has a bottomless craving for attention, for without attention, where is the image? Poof! It is gone that easily.

These days there is a treasuring of the space of no-thought, whether thoughts are present or not. In the morning when consciousness opens its eyes on a new day, it savors the glint of silence between thoughts. So many of the thoughts that arise are recognized as unimportant, or as luring conscious attention towards hooking into some new drama of suffering, stirring up a new pot of pain.  Sometimes the unnecessary suffering cooked up by thought-stories is caught early on and the drama is side-stepped, nipped in the bud.  Other times I'm swept into the waking dream of thought lock-stock-and-barrel and ride out the storm.  Either way, all the while the space of no-thought gleams with fathomless presence. Attention opens from the thoughts to the space of awareness in which the thoughts occur. Such freedom here now in this space!

Gratitude for photo of Mourning Dove available at this link:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Feeling feelings

Both personally and in my work in mental health, I have come to see that the value of feeling our feelings (rather than avoiding or indulging them) cannot be overstated. The "emotion phobic" tendency that seems to be inbuilt in us drives all kinds of addiction, over-consumption, violence, etc. Therefore I love this video (which applies equally to men and women) that invites us to experience our feelings nonverbally. Thinking about feelings is the opposite of feeling them; thinking is a defense and barrier against unpleasant feelings, it is a distancing mechanism which walls us off from our own life energy. When we block out the "bad" stuff (unpleasant feelings), the "good" stuff is equally blocked out. A kinked hose blocks the flow of any fluid equally.

The body and psyche are overstuffed suitcases full of repressed emotional material. I feel this is true to some extent for every human being. How do we "unpack" the suitcase of stuffed feelings? We don't. It unpacks itself. Whatever feelings are present in this moment are all that need to be met. We don't have to worry about whatever accumulation of grief and fear is lodged in the tissues, it will surface of its own accord at exactly the right time and pace. This makes it simple: we need only meet what is here now with openness and silence. I find that the "taste" of even unpleasant feelings can be surprisingly enjoyable when they are experienced on an energetic level without labels or judgments.

Flooding feelings with the energy of consciousness is inherently beneficial.

This is very different than ruminating over feelings or trying to work out a bad mood with the thinking process- this usually backfires and embeds the feelings somewhere in the "suitcase" of body and psyche.

Thought is used as a kind of protective shield to fend off unwanted feelings through analysis, rationalization, explanation, blame, guilt, etc. In whatever way the mind can label, package, shelve, project or otherwise "get rid" of unpleasant feelings, it will do so. This is how we get tied up in knots and drive the brain-engine to an ever increasing and chaotic velocity.

From an evolutionary, biological perspective, the capacity of thought to fend off unwanted feelings through judgment, analysis, repression, etc., may have been useful. But this once helpful survival mechanism has "gone overboard" and hypertrophied to the point where thinking has become a mental disease. We don't need to "throw out the baby with the bathwater"- thinking can still be beautiful and beneficial- but when thinking is used to alienate us from our feelings, it is harmful rather than helpful. The mind and thought processes have swollen to such an extent that they cause much personal and planetary suffering.

Enjoy this wonderful video that invites us to enter the energy of present feelings.

Gratitude to Chameli Ardagh. You can read about Chameli in the outstanding book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom, by Rita Marie Robinson.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What is here.

Listening to the sound of the dishwasher and looking at the cat napping on the blue chair, something is suddenly clear (it becomes visible as if  floating up to the surface of water).  It is this:  The mind will never be able to tell me who I am.  I've searched long and hard in the mind to discover my identity and it is not there.  I won't find myself in any thought or story or experience, not even in the experience or story of awakening, enlightenment, or self-realization.  Identifying with mind-objects (i.e. seeking my identity in objects such as thoughts, stories, experiences) is the basic confusion that I have suffered from. It's the basic confusion we all suffer from.

Even though I am myself always (it cannot be otherwise), there can be a sense of not knowing who I am, of being strangely lost and disconnected from the reality of my being.  Of being out of touch with what is most vital and real within me.

There is a longing to know directly who I am apart from any mental ideas.

What I want is some kind of fundamental, conscious contact with the being, the actuality of the life that I am in this moment.

What is prior to any mental idea of who I am?  What is here in the absence of thought?  What am I apart from ego, apart from any personal history? What is here right now?

The awareness or being that everything shows up in is prior to any appearance.

In seeing this, sensing this, there is a plunge into immediacy, a wake-up slap of reality.

Attention had been locked on the clouds (thoughts, appearances) and now opens to the sky (presence/essence).

This sky of awareness or presence is here at all times; inseparable from the experiences that arise but not confined to them.

I am in no way separate from my experience, but my experiences are not who I am. There is great freedom in this fact.  The sky is not confined by the clouds within it, and no human being is defined by thought.

The sky is not diminished when the clouds dissolve. If anything, the sky is even more present, or more apparent, when there are no clouds. A sky naked of clouds is not less of a sky. Without all the buzz of experience and thought, what I am is not diminished, but unveiled or more readily apparent. Without a big pile of accomplishments and failures and ideas and experiences (without all these clouds in the sky), the true essence of the reality that I am- the sky of awareness- is more readily apparent.  The very things I sought to define myself did just the opposite: they obscured "my" reality- the wide open sky.  All the things I thought defined me were more like a mask that alienated me from my reality.

What I want to know is not so much what I am but that I am.  I want to feel/sense/know my reality, that indeed I am very much alive, aware, in this instant, un-separated from life itself.

I am.

I am!

What could be more astonishing than the am-ness of anything at all, the am-ness that is typing these words, reading these words, the am-ness that is ubiquitous in the single sky that is everything?

There is a sensing/feeling/knowing that I am.  I can't wrap it up in a neat little mental package, but I can be what I am- effortlessly, unceasingly, like the space of the sky.

The joy of being is something real and present and accessible, and it is more satisfying than any passing experience.  Why pine after a cloud when the wealth of the sky is here?

What I want, it turns out, is what I've got:  Life.  Life as it is in this moment.

Not a single movement of the mind is needed to be what I am.

Not a single thing needs to be different in order for me to be fully who I am.  There is no circumstance that can block the fullness of being.

The dishwasher is quiet and the cat is still napping on the blue chair.  The presence that is here is alive and a great wave of benevolence moves through.  Thank you for being here and sharing this space.

Gratitude to Annette Nibley for pointing out that "without a single movement of the mind" being is known. Annette's extremely lucid writing can be accessed here:  http://www.whatneverchanges.com/

Thanks also to the video of Stuart Schwartz on Never Not Here TV, which powerfully points attention to the obvious. Video can be accessed here:  http://www.nevernothere.com/stuart-schwartz

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Authentic Heart- an interesting documentary

Authentic Heart from Rafael Stoneman on Vimeo.

"Authentic Heart" is a spontaneous, unscripted travel around North America, to meet with people of all paths and cultures, and to connect in the timelessness of the eternal heart." (description of this film posted on Vimeo)

Thanks to Never Not Here where I learned of this film.


Monday, June 21, 2010

"No need for concern"

"What is being spoken of here is not any kind of freedom or emancipation in the life of the character- rather it's about this that already is, regardless of any circumstances.  No need for concern then about whether there's an 'I' or not, nor for whether any process is underway, finished or not even started.  Your true nature is always Being, and the play will take its own course."
(Nathan Gill, Being, p. 95)

There's a relaxing that occurs when I read these words.  All the endless attempts to improve life are abandoned, and it is clear that life needs no improvement.  There is still a natural flow towards the good, towards "improvement", but it is not fueled by notions of deficit.

If you are not used to reading books on nonduality, the word "character" in the context of the above passage refers to the limited personal sense of self as a separated mind/body.  There is more to us than the "character,"  there is more to any human being than meets the eye.

"No need for concern" does not mean apathy but equanimity, which is lack of excessive anxiety over the ever-changing circumstances of life.  The presence of awareness is something real and alive as the "container" of all the changing content of each moment.  The presence of awareness itself is the heart of being alive, and it is inherently peaceful.

The image is from Flickr.  Gratitude to Nathan Gill, here is a link to his website:http://www.nathangill.com/
Gratitude to Jan Frazier for her writing about the "container" and the contents in her essay Remembering to Notice, available here:http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/blog/?p=1981#more-1981


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The thermodynamics of attention

I am in a dark cave holding a flashlight.  The beam of the flashlight is the circumference of my reality.

What moves the beam of attention?  What are the thermodynamics of the flow of conscious awareness?

"Most people give their attention to what they don't like.  Put your attention on what you love."  (Adyashanti)

Recently I read an essay by David Foster Wallace called This Is Water that keeps coming back to mind.  I had never heard of Wallace, but here is a one sentence description of him (written by David Lipsky):

"He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive now, accepted a special chair to teach writing at a college in California, married, published another book, and hanged himself at age forty-six."*

Explaining his struggle with depression, at one point Wallace said, "I think I had lived an incredibly American life. That, 'Boy, if I could just achieve X and Y and Z, everything would be OK.' "

The essay by David Foster Wallace was the commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College in Ohio in 2005, three years before his suicide in 2008.  It's one of the most lucid, honest, and penetrating essays I have ever read. One reviewer said that the essay is "like six Eckhart Tolle books rolled into one."

Here are some excerpts from Wallace's essay (with slight paraphrase).

"There is a blind certainty, a closed-mindedness that's like an imprisonment so complete that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up."

 "A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded."

 "It is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your head."

"But it is possible to be conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to...If you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.  Think of the old cliche about the mind being 'an excellent servant but a terrible master.' "

"I submit that the real value of education is supposed to be about:  How to keep from going through life a slave to your head."

"Our own present culture has yielded the freedom to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation."

"But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying.  The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness."

"The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the 'rat race'- the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing."

"Real value has everything to do with simple awareness- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us."

Wallace describes a routine trip to the grocery store to illustrate in concrete terms what he is talking about.

Freedom of attention.  This makes me wonder about the thermodynamics of attention.  Thermodynamics is about the flow of energy, and attention is a kind of energy, for which we have not yet discerned the underlying dynamics.

What are the thermodynamics of attention?  Is there a magnetic pull toward clarity?  An attractive force towards truth?  A gravitational tug of ego?  An electromagnetic force field of love?  More and more there is a noticing of the flow of attention- what captivates it- what frees it. What does it mean for awareness to be aware of its own presence?  Life becomes an adventure in attention, as David Foster Wallace suggests.

(David Foster Wallace's commencement speech is highly recommended and can be read at this link:

(* quote about Wallace is from  Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, p. xv and p. 66)

(photo is from: http://zombiestories.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/light-beam.jpg)



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