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, 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


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