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!

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.
http://www.nevernothere.com/

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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

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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:
http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/david-foster-wallace-in-his-own-words)

(* 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)

~

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Awareness held hostage




This morning I am struck by some words from Huang Po:

"There is only one reality, neither to be realized nor attained.  To say 'I am able to realize something' or 'I am able to attain something' is to place yourself among the arrogant.  The men who flapped their garments and left the meeting as mentioned in the Lotus Sutra were just such people.  (These people THOUGHT they had understood and were smugly self-satisfied.)  Therefore the Buddha said:  'I truly obtained nothing from Enlightenment.'  There is just a mysterious tacit understanding and no more."

This knocks the wind out of my seeking- it is recognized as a self-fueled obsession that enhances the false notion of separate self-hood, digging deeper the pit of suffering and delusion.

Freedom from the obsession with grasping opens awareness to what is already here.

This breath.

This silence, permeating all the noise, all the thoughts.

Awareness had been held hostage to ideas of more, to ideas of getting free, ideas of being a better me, a happier me, an enlightened me.

The hostage is no longer held hostage when these ideas lose their allure... their falsity is recognized.  No ransom to be gained, the 'kidnapper' (believed delusions) lets the 'hostage' (awareness) go.

It's an ordinary day.  Sunday mass at 11:30, and then all five of us will go see the new movie, Karate Kid.

Awareness opens outside of the mind and into the fullness of no-thing.  Awareness is untethered from the torture machine of external seeking as the futility of the machine is recognized.

Freedom from seeking doesn't mean stagnation.  It means movement toward goals is unhindered by anxiety.

THIS floods awareness, this life in this moment.

May we all enjoy the abundance of no-mind.  The vastness and real-ness of nonverbal consciousness is here, free for the noticing, whenever attention opens wider than the TV-in-the-head.


(Note: Gratitude to Jan Frazier, author of When Fear Falls Away, for the phrase "awareness held hostage." Here is a link for Jan's website:http://www.janfrazierteachings.com/. The essays on Jan's website are highly recommended.)
(Quote is from The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, translated by John Blofield, p. 45.)
(Gratitude for image available at this link: tomsteel.wordpress.com/ post dated Feb 13, 2008)

~

Friday, June 4, 2010

The attraction of the eternal now






There is a natural love of life.  This love of life may also be called an attraction to the now, for life is now.


Here is a passage from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle that I came across today (p. 71):

" Question:  Even if I completely accept that ultimately time is an illusion, what difference is that going to make in my life?"

"Answer:  Intellectual agreement is just another belief and won't make much difference to your life.  To realize this truth, you need to live it.  When every cell of your body is so present that it feels vibrant with life, and when you can feel that life every moment as the joy of Being, then it can be said that you are free of time."


Life is not primarily about "getting somewhere".  It is about being here.  When I become overly focused on "getting somewhere" something feels off, like a joint out of socket.  This is feedback from an inner thermostat- it is the call or nudge to return to the true vocation of living fully in the eternal now.  As life becomes more about being and less about "getting", I still move toward future goals, but with joy rather than compulsion.

There is a stronger attraction to what is present here right now than to even the most glorious possible future. 

This is always the case even when the attraction to present reality is obscured by longing for imagined future gain.  When I stop running away, sooner or later I feel reeled in by the attraction to the invisible heart of this moment.

When awareness touches the actuality of being alive in this moment there is contentment.  Not a static contentment, but a dynamic contentment that blooms and shimmers.


"What to do

 but draw a little nearer to

 such ubiquity by remaining still."



(R. S. Thomas, excerpt from poem But the silence in the mind in Roger Housden's 2009 anthology)
(Photo is from Flickr public files)



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Greetings. I am a psychiatrist working at a state hospital, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Medical School. I am also a wife and mother of three grown children. Qigong has profoundly changed my life for the better. I am interested in connecting with other people interested in qigong.

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