just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
October, 2011

Subjectify Everything

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

The source of our restlessness can be found in our difficulty facing uncertainty.  We are drawn to create an object of desire.  This attachment creates anxiety about the inevitable felt loss we face as the Law of Impermanence works on us.  Yet, when All is subject, we are humbled in the experience of the Divine and its mystery/simplicity.  This is the purpose of meditation, to silence the thinking mind as we cultivate the feeling of the Divine.  It’s deepening our faith in the undivided Mind, what Ken Wilbur called “the One without a second”.

Wilbur has written, “For the sages of every time and place have unanimously maintained that the Absolute is actually ineffable, unspeakable, utterly beyond words, symbols and logic.  And not because it is too mysterious or too sublime or too complex for words, but rather because it is too simple, too obvious, too close to be caught in the net of symbols and signs.  Because there is nothing outside It, there is no way to define or classify it.” p. 226 The Simple Feeling of Being. He goes on to make the distinction that this is not pantheism stating the Absolute is in everything.  It goes further to the Buddhist commentary on, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”.  Wilbur writes, “…the entire Absolute is completely and wholly present at every point of space and time, for the simple reason that you can’t have a different infinite at each point”  p. 228 The Simple Feeling of Being. I once heard a nun describe it like a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.  This realization breaks our logical notions of time and space.  Our journey is to wake from the trance of the subject/object illusion.  Our meditation helps cultivate this awareness of the Absolute.  In the stillness, outside the illusion of Two, we deepen the ‘feeling’ of what Thich Nhat Hanh has called “inter-Being”.  We discover that we can “always touch the Ultimate”; it’s always here in this arising moment.

As we step from our tendency to objectify we discover a tenderness that causes less harm.  We become more mindful of the impact of our thoughts, words, emotions and actions.  As we soften our reasoning mind and our attachments to ‘being right’, we deepen in our compassion and understanding for one another.  Cultivating the ‘feeling’ of the ‘not two’, we can step into the shoes of those we’re in contact with, even our perceived enemies.  While we aim to reduce the suffering in the world, we can hopefully minimize the harm caused through our illusion of subject vs. object.  As we subjectify everything, we are confidently humbled in faith to the omnipresence of the Divine.  The illusion of security through the material and pleasure through consumption diminishes.  Abiding in the present moment with deep sense of ‘being home’ strengthens.  At this point we touch the creative, expressing what we feel in wonder to the mystery of not knowing who we are.  At this point of awareness there is no division, all is Subject.  At this point we touch possibility.

The Circle Has No Sides

Under the Influence

Friday, October 21st, 2011

We human beings are pretty complicated.  It seems neuroscientists are discovering more and more how we move between a variety of consciousness states.  I recently heard one use an analogy to the discord in our political system. He said it was like we each had a variety of political parties in our head vying for attention.  As he described why we sometimes do things which harm and other times do things which steward, I was reminded of Hawaiian Huna wisdom.  It basically speaks to a low, mid and high self.  The low self can be much like the undisciplined child, seeking ease of the restless mind through consumption and mindless actions.  The mid self is our conscious self.  It’s what we’re aware of during our waking state.  Our higher self is considered our divine nature.  Huna contends that our mid self can’t speak directly to our high self.  Also, our mid self has to send directives to the low self to make decisions which don’t harm and hopefully help.  Without the help of tapping our divine nature, we tend to be under the influence of the relative, material world.  A dedicated spiritual practice will lead us more and more under the influence of the absolute world, the Ultimate.

The relative consciousness functions from a perspective of duality.  We deepen in our sense of separateness and sense of linear time.  We tend to grow our fear and anxiety, often grasping for what was or worrying about what will be.  In the absolute there’s an easing as we cultivate an acceptance of change and our interdependence.  When in the consciousness of the Divine we’re no longer stressed about the impermanence of things.  We’re no longer filled with despair from feelings of separateness.  The divine settles us into the peace of the here and now.  A cultivation of singularity, of nonduality, brings up the illusion of birth and death, beginnings and endings.  When in the consciousness of the Ultimate, the main response is gratitude.  There’s a great fullness, a sense of peace, of having arrived.  There’s a palpable experience of ‘enough’.

In contrast, a consciousness failing to cultivate spirit will grasp for more.  As we struggle to fill our hunger in the delusion of our separateness, we grow our focus on special interests.  Our insecurities have us investing heavily in persuading others to think like us as we perceive our sense of security from others’ acceptance.  Systems become corrupt as we come under the influences of greed and fear.  The failing of our world economic systems can be credited to systems falling under the influence of greed and fear.  Functioning from the relative, material realm, we’re deluded to think winning at the other’s expense is everything.  Under the influence of the Ultimate, winning at another’s expense is nothing.  Being our best is everything.  A grounded sense of our interdependence has us cultivating generosity, compassion, moderation, listening, curiosity, open mindedness, forgiveness and kindness.  This cultivation of the nondual experience has us deepening to the feeling of sharing the same boat.  The analogy Thich Nhat Hanh uses is that of wave and water.  In the relative world, we perceive our form as wave.  As we approach the shore, we may hope to cling to our identity as wave form, yet as we crash on the shore we come to realize (from ultimate consciousness) that we always were, always have been, and always will be water.  For sure, the form changes and we can experience this each day we study our body.  Yet, the Ultimate consciousness stands outside our relative mind’s notion of time and space.  Given the now scientifically proven truth of our interdependence, wouldn’t it make more and more sense to nurture and cultivate our relationship with our higher self?  Don’t you think this is what Jesus was speaking to when he advised us to love one another, even our enemies, as ourselves?

We can’t escape our need to function in the relative world.  We need to function with one another under the laws of the material world, using our notions of time and space in stewarding ways.  Yet, when we’re more and more under the influence of the Ultimate, we take better care of one another.  The questions change from how to compete and consume without regard to others’ harm to how to help in the reduction of one another’s suffering.  Our attachment to notions of being ‘right’, ‘special’ and separate from others begins to evaporate as compassion grows.  Rather than focusing on differences and persuasion, there’s a move to common sense and deeper understanding.  The fear based need to get as much as we want at the expense of others diminishes as we make space to cultivate joy in wanting what we get.

I was taught the American Dream was owning a house, having a family and a steady job.  We’ve come to see that the house is a liability instead of an asset, and there’s nothing steady about the job.  Under the influence of the relative world it’s easy to see the growing of despair.  We wanted ‘this’, but got ‘that’ and so we fill with complaint.  When under the influence of the Ultimate, there is no complaint.  Put simply, there’s just growing awareness that ‘this is this and that is that’, ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’.  Our capacity to meet challenge and discomfort with a sense of spiritual security deepens us.  Our tendency to numb the discomfort deepens our suffering.

A lot has been written about life purpose.  The Dali Lama has said we’re here to live in joy.  I’ve heard others say we’re here to be kind, to love one another, and to leave a gentle wake.  I like the one that advises us to do what we can to reduce the suffering of others.  Huna Law says we should examine our thoughts, words, emotions and actions from the notion of ‘best for all with harm to none’.  Under the influence of the relative world, we may be tempted to reason an acceptance of collateral damage. Under the influence of the Ultimate, directed from the heart, there is zero tolerance for collateral damage.

Moving through our day, through our life, it’s helpful to put awareness to what we’re influenced by.  Where are we influenced by the perception of material need?  What exposures do we have to experiences that grow the restlessness from the toxins of greed, fear and ignorance?  What exposures feed us in deepening the influence of the Ultimate?  As we deepen our influence from the Ultimate, so do we find our integrity.


Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Where does our suffering come from?  Isn’t it because we ‘think’ we’re separate?  Isn’t it because we’re caught in our resistance to change?  Isn’t it because we’re drawn to the illusion of duality over the reality of our interdependence?  And isn’t our peace found in touching stillness, feeling the interdependent and impermanent nature of all things?  For me, this is what our great spiritual teachers have shared.  While we struggle with words, the directive is to love one another as ourselves because we are each other.  Our pain and suffering comes from our ignorance to this.  Our healing, rooted in the word ‘wholeness’, is cultivated through our transformation from dualistic thinking to nondualistic ‘feeling/thinking’.  When we reference God, we speak to omnipresent (11 letters), that God nature can’t be divided.  This brings us to an awareness of the fragile nature of things, to the mystery of our relatedness, and to a deeper vow of compassion, generosity, and love.

Can we say love is nondualistic and notions of duality are obstacles to love?  Aren’t the virtues based in a sense of One?  Aren’t the poisons of greed and fear based in Two?  Doesn’t our cultural focus on competition at the expense of others and our mindless consumption without regard to harm create more suffering?  So how do things change when we move to greater awareness to One?  What happens when we let go notions of Two?

Stepping from notions of Two to One, we may discover the following:

Debate moves to dialog.

Need for fixed answers moves to need for deeper questions.

Conformity and persuasion moves to precision and curiosity.

The need to be ‘right’ moves to courageous curiosity.

Dogma and rhetoric moves to expression from the open heart.

Busy-ness diminishes to make space for cultivating stillness and silence.

Thoughts, emotions, words and actions are examined for potential collateral damage.

Gratitude for what ‘is’ deepens.  Pain is reduced through dedicated forgiveness practice.

Awareness to interdependence and impermanence drives our mindful, quality living.

The art of ‘taking care’ deepens as we aim to reduce suffering in ourselves and others.

In wholeness, we awaken to the delusions of time and space, honoring the mystery.

Greed, fear and ignorance transform to generosity, courage and humble confidence.

In short, we’re here to love.  Love is One.  The more we practice from One, the more peace and joy we live in.  For several years, when I’ve looked at a clock, I’ve been struck with how often it’s been 11:11 or 1:11.  Now more than ever, I take it as Universe (God, Source, the Indivisible) ‘waking me’ to the power and truth of One.  We can numb ourselves to this or we can wake.  The social trance of Two is accelerating just as the awakening to One is picking up speed.  It would seem that 11/11/11 is a critical mass point where more and more of us are waking up to the indivisible, to the truth that God is in each of us, in everything, indivisible.  With this awareness we’ll lead more generous lives from moderation, compassion, gratitude and forgiveness.  From this awareness we’ll find our healing, our awakening to Wholeness.

Be Your Best

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Success in life is about the vow and consequent courage to show up, pay attention, be/do your best, and to have the humility and grace to know we can’t control the outcome.  In today’s ‘busy’ world, too often we’re distracted from showing up.  The excusing mind creates many obstacles to meeting the situation the heart draws us to.  The restless mind often keeps us from showing up 100%.  And by definition, we can’t be our best if we’re less the fully present.

These past few days we’ve had strong fall winds and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play in the wind and water with fellow boardsport enthusiasts.  The power of fractal energy is at work when I find myself in the presence of others aiming to be their best.  I suppose you could call this ‘common sense’.  What you have in common with others influences you.  If you want to have a closed mind, hang with those who carry a closed mind.  If you want to have an open mind, hang with those who are curious, holding an open mind.  If you want to stagnate, hang with those who want to stagnate, staying the same.  If you want to deepen your life experience, surround yourself with others who want to deepen their life experience.  If you want to be your best, hang with others who want to be their best.

It seems that life begins at the edge of our comfort zone.  Pro snowboarder, Tom Burt, has defined ‘extreme’ as action just past our previous level of performance.  There’s a stepping into the unknown, but with a sense of stewardship.  If we’ve jumped a five foot cliff, the next step would be a few feet higher, not a fifty foot cliff.  There’s a love of life and a deep listening that feeds our sense of support in drilling deeper.  Some call this ‘Big Hope’, this felt sense of being supported by the universe (God, Source, etc.).  I suspect this is the essence of faith.

I recently competed in a windsurfing speed trial in Worthington, Minnesota.  I felt the support of a community, of the conditions presented, and the equipment provided.  Conditions manifested that allowed me to step from fear to a sense of surrender as the GPS unit on my arm registered speeds I’d never before reached.  I had shown up, practiced and trained in full attention, and was now able to lay down fear as I melted into the conditions that brought me to my best.  Being in the presence of other skilled riders aiming to their best supported me.  There was deep satisfaction in knowing I had given my whole heart to this action.  There was nothing comfortable about it, yet the action itself, at the moment of peak speed, was effortless.  I recall the famous quarterback, Joe Namath, saying his peak experience in football was when he felt he was being played by the manifesting conditions.  Rather than struggling to fill the desires of the grasping mind, there’s a release, a surrender to the non-struggling mind that’s filled with a deep sense of support from the conditions presented.  There’s an indescribable joy for the opportunity to participate, to just be vital in each unfolding moment.

So, if you want to cultivate your best, train in courage to show up, take up a solid practice in mindfulness/meditation, and cultivate a deep, abiding faith in the support of the universe.  Finally, cultivate humility and gratitude for the gift of the given, no matter what.  Life is mystery far beyond our control and our courage to keep showing up is fed through this awareness.

What’s Workin’ You?

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

This is a common phrase in Appalachia that gets more to the point than, “How you doing?”.  We usually answer the ‘doin’ question with an automatic affirmative response, even when we’re swimming in the negative.  ‘What’s working you’ gives an opening to really explore the current situation of your world.  Most of our responses may better be analyzed not from ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’, but from ‘peace’ vs. ‘restless’.  We could also respond from a sense of ‘being supported’ or ‘belonging’ vs. a sense of ‘not being supported’ or ‘alone’.  Given the accelerating nature of the universe, we all seem to be getting worked more now than we did in what appeared to be a stable time.  The platform seems less stable as uncertainty seems to grow.

I’m now in my ’60’s and what’s working me is much different than what was working me a few years ago.  I used to be very concerned about others’ good opinion of me.  I used to aim for more ‘stuff’, and I used to think success in life was about personal achievements and accumulation.  It seems more and more that my work is to cultivate gratitude for this gift of life, even in the face of an apparent lack of response from others.  It seems that intention to ‘not cause harm’ and ‘to reduce others’ suffering’ fosters a better sense of place, a deeper cultivation of belonging.

While the first ten years of life were about moving from nothing to a sense of somebody, this decade seems to beg a humble response as we learn to let go our need to be defined by others.  It’s a time to diminish the illusion of two, of me here and you there; a time to cultivate the felt sense of our Oneness, of our interdependence on one another outside notions of separateness.  It’s a time to cultivate a sense of grounding, of a Ground of Being, that’s always there, even in the most turbulent of times.  This is a time to once again visit the deeply curious mind, relishing the mystery.  This is what’s working me.

In America today it’s fascinating to watch the political contrasts. The Tea Party stands up to their perceived loss of freedom from what they think is a government grown too big. The Occupy Wall Street movement stands up to their perceived loss of freedom from what they think is private enterprise run amuck from lack of conscience.  Both sides would seem to agree that the system is broken, primarily from money’s influence in the political arena.  The Occupy Wall Street people are calling out greed, claiming the top 1% of the people who control 40% of the wealth of this country have invested heavily in their own self interests at the expense of the country and planet’s health.  Both would agree that it takes being in the 1% or heavy affiliation with that 1% to get elected, hence our broken system.

Abe Lincoln once noted that the Republican party was always known for taking better care of man and his money, noting that with conscience, man was always before money.  He also noted that the country’s demise would come from extremes in wealth distribution.  Today the bottom 80% control about 10% of the nation’s wealth.  Abe did credit the Republican party with always putting man before money, however.  Somewhere, this got lost.  Today, as we try to implement budget cuts at great harm to many of our citizens, we’re placing the power of money over the care of our citizenry.  More and more people are now against the wall with no hope.  When ‘life and death’ programs are called optional ‘entitlement’ programs, people’s survival skills kick in.  What was apathy turns to anger.  That’s what’s working a lot of folks around the world today.

So how do we move to a more ‘common sense’ approach?  How about by listening to each other to better determine what we have in common?  How about stopping the whine and exploring what we’d agree on for the health of one another?  How about exploring policies from ‘best for all, with harm to none’ intention rather than the heavily backed self interest lobbying that’s broken the system today?  How about diminishing the poisons of greed, fear and ignorance to our global interdependence, and increasing our generosity, gratitude, hope, faith, and compassion for one another?

The bottom 99% will never be able to ‘steal’ the wealth of the top 1%?  But can’t we compassionately explore their deeper suffering from hoarding wealth in full knowledge to the massive suffering in the world?  If we truly are here to ‘reduce suffering’, it’s no wonder we eventually meet deep pain as we end our time in these bodies, knowing our fear and greed kept us from loving others.  All spiritual traditions promote a life of moderation.  A simple life gives us more space to cultivate our ‘great fullness’ for what we have.  The more stuff we have to worry about, the less space we have.  It’s why those in third world countries smile much more than those in the top 1% of this country.

When we look at life as the pursuit of happiness, peace, and joy, we can see our grasping, restless mind is our biggest obstacle.  We’re heavily trained to feel thirsty for the next advertised thing, bombarded by advertisements through multiple media channels.  We’re told we can’t be at peace until we ‘achieve this thing’ or ‘purchase that thing’.  Yet, our happiness is grounded in cultivating appreciation for what’s been given rather than feeding our never-ending desire for what we’ve been trained to think we want.  Our lasting happiness is found in grounding to joy for the opportunity to just be.  It’s grounded in knowing we did what we could to not harm others.  We did what we could to alleviate the suffering of others.  We cultivated the truth of awareness to being each other.  We walked in humble confidence to the beat of our heart’s knowing, committed to show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and softly hold our vulnerability in not controlling the outcome.  Hopefully, we’ve come into our integrity, better knowing when to stand up, when to hold silence and when to step forward.

I think what’s really working us in our ‘knowing’ we’re all One, yet our acting like we’re two.  The upcoming 11/11/11 event is a symbolic reminder that we’re all One.  We can continue our dysfunctional ways or we can wake up to this.  It’s in hope, faith and love that I stand in gratitude to more and more of us waking up to this truth.  For effective leadership, we need those who live from One, outside the illusions of ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’.  We need leaders who can take the shift to collaboration, deeper listening, and momentum to a higher vibration.  Our political debates need to be turned to dialogs.  Our candidates need to be tested for active listening skill and for their understanding of all spiritual traditions.  We need to end the pointless rhetoric and violent persuasion and test our candidates with hypothetical situations. We need to know how they’d handle them based on their spiritual background and world view.  We need to explore their deeper wisdom.

Dysfunctional government run from the influence of money over people’s interests will eventually fall.  Corporations without a moral conscience, aimed solely at profit and pleasing shareholders, will eventually fall.  The health of our family, community, nation, and planet will depend upon our capacity to love one another as ourselves, to steward a deeper care for the impacts of our thoughts, words, emotions and actions.  If our policies and political rant clearly show potential to harm others, it’s time to pull back and cultivate deeper ground.  It’s time for our real spiritual leaders to call out the poisons of greed, self interest, fear, and the temptation to ignore our interdependence upon one another.  It’s time for us to all pause, to ask what we’re here for, and to let this be what’s really, really working us.