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
February, 2014

Does Anger Ever Work?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

My seven year old grandson periodically has difficult moments when anger rises up within him. As children, sometimes the urge to grow our anger seems uncontrollable. There’s a restlessness that seems to well up, an unpleasant thought about something not going the way we expected, etc., and we end up acting on our anger, making a mess of things. My grandson will raise his voice, use unpleasant words, and sometimes wish unpleasant events to those in his presence. I recently asked him if he thought anger ever worked. He couldn’t think of a time and he acknowledged how it always makes things worse.

So can we stop anger? That would be as silly as thinking we could stop thought. Anger comes up and what we do with it determines the quality of our life. There’s an old story called “Solomon’s Wisdom” where three critical pieces of wisdom are handed out. The last is “save your anger for another day”. The story stresses the need to not act on our anger, humbled to the truth that we never have all the information. We’re advised to look at the anger, in patience see how it changes. In most instances, over time, the anger diminishes and new emotions/thoughts arise. My grandson said that sometimes the anger is still there the next day. I told him that we can continue to watch it, and if we can’t stop feeding it we may need to address the problem, but best to do it with the help of a third, neutral party. Our work is to see how the anger grows when we feed it with negative thoughts and how it diminishes when we return to gratitude for the present moment. I told him that this is some of the hardest work we have to do as humans. It’s so natural to feed our unsatisfactoriness, to fuel complaint, and grow our negative emotions. But it never sustains our joy and most often makes a big mess of things.

Noticing anger doesn’t make a mess of things. It’s how we act with this anger that results in complicated lives lacking the joy that’s possible. The strength to not act with intention to harm comes from spiritual security. It’s the basis of the Christian command to love our enemy, the basic premise that we aim to cause no harm since we are each other. The strength and courage to do this comes from the authority of the heart. While the head concocts all the reasons to act on our anger, the heart knows how to move from a sense of equanimity and peace. The heart leads us through difficult situations with the skill of a surgeon’s trained hands. It’s very delicate work, but when we pause, listen to the heart, and move forward with care, we avoid making a disaster of things.

Anger has momentum similar to fire. This is why awareness training is critical to a joyful life. Once we start feeding negative emotion and/thought, the momentum builds just as a fire grows from adding fuel. Awareness helps us identify what’s happening so we can let the negative go and return to balance and harmony, just as putting out a fire from withholding fuel. For my grandson, once the momentum has reached a certain point there’s no way to put out the fire except to remove him from the situation with a ‘time out’. Many of us need a ‘time out’. I work with men at a prison who experience a big time out. Over the years they come to see how acting from anger made a huge mess of their lives. They’ve come to see how they would have done things differently given the information they now have. Had they ‘saved their anger for another day’ they would have discovered new information coming to light. Had they developed an awareness training practice, they would have better caught the negative thought/emotion before it gained the momentum that led to their destructive action.

It seems that we’re here to hold our balance, help one another, and at the least, avoid hurting one another. The natural human condition of restlessness clearly shows how we’re all involved in pushing things away or grasping for things, providing the fuel for our negative thoughts/emotions. Our hope comes in knowing we can catch these early before momentum has its way with us. With awareness, we can catch them at their seed, let them go, and return to positive thoughts/emotions more in line with the present moment, with meeting things as there are, resulting in skillful actions that minimize/reduce/eliminate harm.

In summary, I’ve found that growing my anger has never worked and when momentum builds to a point where I act on it, it never goes well. The use of anger through action spiritually is never justified. I’m now sixty-three years old and consider myself a novice in this practice. For your health, the health of our children and grandchildren, it’s my hope that we put a big focus on awareness training, noticing how we can grow or diminish these negative thoughts and feelings. It’s the difference between having a quality life filled with peace or a messy life filled with violence and discomfort.

Amazing Grace…Still Here

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

I know so many friends who are deep in their suffering. There’s tremendous stress that comes from their restlessness to be somewhere else or to have a different situation. For some it’s unemployment, giving rise to much space to feed the restless mind. For others it’s a serious illness that challenges their notions of ‘forever’. In all cases, it’s the mind wrestling with the Law of Impermanence. Everything changes, moment by moment. The quality of my life revolves around my willingness and capacity to embrace what comes, to breath in gratitude for the gift of what’s given, and eventually fill with joy and enthusiasm fed from the opportunity to participate within this next arising moment.

When I was young my parents taught me a prayer that forced me to face the reality that some day, I too, would die.

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

This simple prayer really, really worked for me. I woke with joy and enthusiasm for the gift of another day, no matter what. It gave me the ‘felt’ sense that I am more than my body, that I’m more than this limited time in it. Today I have to ask my friends, “Is what you’re doing to face your suffering working for you?” Most of the time they’re not curious about what’s worked for me. I’m now living sixty years in this body and feel somewhat obligated to share what’s been discovered in truth through 100% working for me. I don’t mean 90% or 80%. This is learning that goes to the core of the soul, touching flesh and bones, resonating with every cell within the body. It’s learning that deepens with every breath, moving in alignment with the belly and the heart. It’s learning verified through aware doing in full alignment to Being. So dear friend, “Is what you’re doing working for you?” If affirmative, I suspect you’ve stopped reading this. If not, where’s your curious mind? Here are a few things that always work for me.

If I want to make space for something new to come in my life I have to be filled with acceptance for what ‘is’. This means filled with acceptance for what I have, do, and experience within this moment.

My life is about ‘waking up’. My awareness to this moment requires work. There’s a practice that commands focus, precision and obedience. My mind is continually creating thoughts of ‘not wanting’, of ‘dis-ease’. I have a choice of trying to avoid this moment or ‘trying to fix’ this moment. Yet, peace comes when I face and accept this moment as opportunity to participate. This gratitude work yields a higher vibration, one of joy. The higher vibration removes obstacles and I can embrace life with energy. By accepting this moment as it ‘is’ I’m no longer separated and a huge space opens to receive what’s new. I’m pulled to be around those who accept, are in joy and especially those who are enthusiastic about the next arising moment.
Be amazed for the grace we’ve received. I’ve had several experiences where my life in this body should have ended. This brush with an end to my time in this body has made me more aware of life. I think anyone who’s lived sixty years has seen how precious our time is within these bodies, has seen or faced death, and now realizes our work is to ‘wake up’. Amazing Grace has become a very special song for me as I fill with joy for waking to the gift of this moment.
Sometimes you may not know what your instrument is. In my early years I thought I knew what would make me happy. My desire mind created a craving. I deeply desired to play guitar and to fly jet planes. I was gifted the trumpet, harmonica, hang gliding, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. I didn’t know how much I wanted children and grand children until I had them. They now feed my joy beyond imagination. My deepening relationship with my wife, mother and grandmother to these children, has found new territory never expected in my early years. It’s softer and more tolerant, and much more accepting to the ‘new beginning’ within this second half of life. Whether it’s family, boardsports, or music, this life is richer because of the joy I find in deepening the rhythm and harmony of our song. Again, it takes focus, precision and obedience to a ‘practice’ that cultivates the bigger sense of belonging. One of my teachers called this Big Hope. A famous trumpet teacher said, “When the mind leaves the tone, obstacles appear.” A Zen teacher said, “Life is about removing obstacles and going deeper.” I now know that intellect knowledge is very shallow. The real learning comes from dedicated attention that absorbs into the flesh and bones, touching every atom and cell within the body. The joy found in this learning is beyond the imagination, limitless, and filled with curiosity/mystery.
In the midst of the restless mind, patience is huge. I’m finally improving my capacity to pause. ‘Hot’ emotions have generally followed a restless, reactive mind. Things always go better when I embrace the ‘feeling’, let go the growing of negative as I witness ‘change’, aim to ‘stillness’, and eventually move to action that at the minimum does not harm. This requires letting go the need to fix, to be right, to defend, and to change a situation or person. It’s once again refining the capacity to rest in uncertainty, seeing the delusion of resolution. It requires returning to the matt for deepening into reception of the ‘rising moment’. Poof! Here it is. Yes! Thank you! Joy returned.

Dear Universe (God, Source, Love)

Thank you for this restless mind and the struggles I’ve engaged to settle you down. From that struggle I’ve come to where I am now. Thank you for showing me the silliness found in attaching to ‘my story’. I’m so happy to rest in faith, love, and the felt sense of Big Hope. Touching the infinite, it’s all dance, letting go the critical mind in joy that I’m better than I was. Thanks for showing me that judgement is my biggest obstacle to love, to the felt sense of belonging. This has given me the strength to stand in the presence of another’s suffering, the courage to move into unfamiliar territory. It’s given me the wisdom to find new space when thoughts arise creating negative emotions. It’s shown me the power in tasting the future ‘now’. Why wait when heaven is here, in ‘this’ moment. The ordinary is no more, nothing taken for granted as all becomes perceived as extraordinary. Thank you for the joy found in cultivating awareness to your Presence within my Being. I am not my stuff. I am not my achievements. I am not separate. I am the tone. I am the breath, the dance, the harmony, the rhythm, the Divine. I can not be separated and consequently relish this moment free from the fear of eventually surrendering this body. Thank you for what Carols Castanada calls ‘the active side of infinity’. Thank you for the taste of peace.

No body— before I had a body and after I let this body go

Some body— I have this body

Some body else— I am aware that I’m connected to more than my body

Take nothing for granted.
You’re entitled to nothing.
Don’t complain.
Cultivate your relationship to this moment with obedience to a diligent practice.
Meditate from the heart or belly.

This work, cultivating depth through deeper living, stewardship and good food, helps slow energy dissipation so you can progress along the way in this body—being/doing to your fullest.

Trees want to grow old and strong and then a beetle comes…or drought. The chances for slowed entropy increase for the tree who’s paid most attention to stewarding those around him, roots reaching out for mutual support.
Mountains exist because their rock was slower to dissipate. Yet, erosion happens, but it’s slower with the commitment of a mountain.
Nothing dies. It just changes. Nothing disappears. It just changes. Nothing stops. It’s forever in motion. Change varies according to our vibration. It’s either fast or slow, high or low.
It’s good to cultivate a higher vibration that smashes our restlessness. It’s good to cultivate space to strengthen our felt sense of Unity. It’s good to break our addiction to busyness, our ‘too busy to Be’ mind set.

More on your body.
Your somebody is your body.
Give it your dedicated stewardship.
Never criticize it. It’s doing everything it can to help you catch up to the beauty of response for the gift of your materialization.
If you have any sense of lack-ness, not enough-ness…Stop it!
This is a ‘dis’ on the grace you’ve been bestowed. It’s a disgrace.
Rather, cultivate gratitude from the grace received to manifest in this body.
Our work is to be in joy. Enjoy is tied to pleasure and the consumptive mind. We’re forever left in the vacuum of desire. Joy is sustainable, even as we move through the earthquakes of life. When ‘in joy’ I make my best effort to love all life, to leave a gentle wake with minimal harm.

Quality living is about cultivating first hand information from the Divine. You can function with second and third hand information, attached to beliefs and dogmas. I want to taste the direct experience, outside the thought mind, aiming to reduce my felt moments of separation.

I have found ‘to be/do’ my best requires opening to the nonverbal/nonlinguistic experience…beyond thought. Best performance of an action commands commitment to steer from thought, any thought. A thought removes us from the power of flow (from coincidence/co-inciding) which is purely nonverbal surrender into the receiving of ‘this’ arising moment in 100% fullness.

For sure, this requires thought, practice, rehearsal, vow, obedience, commitment, etc., before we can surrender in flow, grateful for the unity of action outside of time and space, outside judgment from the critical mind and all its birthed obstacles.