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3/31/2011

Vivekya: Discrimination


 Om Asaato Ma Sat Gamayo. Lead Us from the Unreal to the Real.

To discriminate between illusion and reality is actually to choose the subtler of two illusions, peeling back layers of fantasy again and again, until we discover that there is only One who is real: the One who is seeing.

One gazes at Oneself. How absolutely Selfish! Yet this effulgent Selfhood reflects in all. Every creature you see is you, the Seer, enjoying another playful effervescence of your uncreated Self.

As Seer, you are Lord Shiva. Your radiant energy, effervescing in the form of the Seen, is Mother Shakti. They embrace as subject and object in the love-making of every perception. Is not this world your bridal chamber? Are not these senses given to you for making love to creation?

3,000 Thoughts


Psychologists calculate that the average human being has over 3,000 thoughts per day. Enlightened awareness also has 3,000 thoughts per day. What's the difference?

We chase our thoughts, assuming that someone is thinking them. Every day, we try to string 3,000 disappearing drops of dew into an I. This is a great waste of energy, because the thinker dissolves with every thought.

Whatever we think the problem is, the problem is thinking. Drop the mind. Listen beyond thought. The rose never worried about opening. It just opened.

St. Paul writes, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." I doubt that these words refer to a First Century rabbi named Jesus. If they did, then Paul would be giving himself up to spirit possession! No, these words are about the Christ-consciousness shining inside us deeper than mind, as the sun shines beyond the clouds. Paul's words mean: It is no longer necessary to identify with this separate little I who worries so much. I can surrender, I can dissolve in the boundless expanse of Christ-consciousness.

Christ flowers through inner silence. There, beyond thought, is our resurrection and our life.

Impulse Control?

I'm not into impulse control. Controlling impulses divides me in two. The question should not be, "How can I control my impulses?" but, "Where do my impulses come from?"

There is no need for impulse control when we connect impulse to Silence. Divine Silence throbs at the heart of nature. Impulse arising from Silence is pulsation of Natural Law. Such an impulse is a spontaneous creative response to the need of this moment: a responsible impulse.

How do we connect impulse to the pulsation of Silence?

3/29/2011

Authority Is Within

 

Seriously, where does the should come from?

If from an ancient book, who gives that book authority over your heart? You.

If from a master, who gives the master authority over your heart? You.

If from a God above, who gives that God authority over your heart? You.

Namaste, I bow down to the divine authority in your heart.

Authority is within, not above.

3/24/2011

Conversation Before the Dance


















Lila said, "Where does the time go?"

Adin said, "Time does not go anywhere."

Lila said, "This instant is gone. The distant past seems like yesterday. The future is suddenly now. Why does it pass so quickly?"

Adin said, "Time does not pass."

"Then what is passing?" asked Lila.

"Mind is passing," Adin said.

"I am confused," said Lila.

"Darling Lila," said Adin, "you are not confused. Mind is confused."

At these words, Lila sighed, sinking from her mind into her heart.

Adin said, "The body passes away. Particles arise and dissolve. Past and future are but thoughts that appear and disappear like droplets from a mist. With the coming and going of thoughts, there is the illusion of a thinker, a thread who seems to bind one thought to another and one moment to the next. But there is no thread. There is no one there at all. The thinker dissolves with each thought."

"Then what remains?" asked Lila.

"What remains is the ancient stillness of eternity, which is the vastness of now, where this mirage of birth and death ceaselessly shimmers."

Lila wondered for a moment, then asked, "May I see this great space? May I know it?"

"You cannot see it, you cannot know it," Adin said.

"Then, by what means are you aware of it?"

"By means of awareness itself," he replied.

Adin closed his eyes, resting within. Then he opened them and continued. "O Lila, the boundless now of eternity is your own pure awareness. You do not need sensation or thought to grasp it. The grasping of the senses and the intellect only conceals it! Therefor, drop seeing, feeling and thinking for a moment, just as you might do if you were falling asleep. But instead of falling asleep, simply be aware of awareness."

Lila was silent. She rested in the blessedness of the Self. Then she said, "In that moment, what happened?"

Adin said, "In that moment, nothing happened. There was only eternity. You transcended birth and death."

Lila said, "Why do I feel like I have just been born?"

Adin said, "Nothing nourishes you, nothing inspires you, nothing re-creates you like that moment."

Full of joy, Lila arose and began to dance. Full of joy, Adin watched her dance in silence.

3/21/2011

I Said to My Soul


I said to my soul, "I want adventure. I want to travel to the great cities, the wild places, the mountain tops. I want to experience the world!"

My soul replied, "You're not missing anything. It's all here."

I said to my soul, "I want to earn vast riches, beautiful mansions, elegant and abundant living!"

My soul replied, "I am that priceless jewel."

I said to my soul, "I yearn for the romance of passionate relationships! I want to fall in love again and again!"

My soul replied, "Our relationship is that which you are seeking."

I said to my soul, "I want to be recognized!"

My soul replied, "Recognize your self."

I said to my soul, "I want to create beauty, art, poetry, music!"

My soul replied, "The beauty you yearn to create, you are."

Then I said to my soul, "If what I seek is already found, then why am I here?"

My soul replied, "To love."

3/19/2011

What Would Jesus Charge?

 

I'm considering a three day course with the Guru in LA. The eleven hundred dollar fee is just for the Guru's teaching. It does not include room and board. You have to stay in an LA hotel for that. I'm assured that the money benefits "poor people in India," but as far as I can tell the ashram over there is full of India's nouveau-elite dot-com caste.

In my limited state of awareness, I can't help thinking of Jesus, who hung out with yom ha-eretz, "people of the land." They were the homeless, the blind, lepers, disreputable women and, of course, fishermen. Once he went to a feast in a rich man's home. He told his host to open the gated community and invite the poor.

"That was a past age," I'm told. "Now things are different." Are they?

I am filled with loving gratitude for my gurus. I will never give up the graceful meditation practices they taught me. But it saddens me to see how many spiritual movements adopt the glamor of America's corporate marketing culture: chic, high-tech, and pricey. The more successful the guru, the more his brand is sold to the Brahmin caste of rich yuppies, and his teachings are cut off from the juiciness of working class folks. Many prominent Indian gurus are, in fact, children of Hindu elites who inherit an ancient disdain for poorer castes. They have no problem charging high prices for their courses, the assumption being that those who can't pay the cost just have bad karma.

Though no one wants to admit it, America's New Age movements thrive on this age-old assumption that the rich are simply better people that the poor. Of course, if poor people work hard at minimum wage jobs, serving corporate Brahmins, they will be reborn as yogis. Then they can afford courses in Pasadena.

Such thinking not only fueled India's caste system but justified slavery and feudalism in the West. In the ancient world, the presumption that wealth is a sign of blessing was unquestioned until the Jewish Prophets. Jesus thoroughly rejected it.

The contemporary gospel of prosperity does not represent the real Gospel. Yet it is wildly popular with modern "life coaches" who share "the secret" for a fee, and mega-church evangelists who seem to forget what Jesus really said: "Blessed are the poor, but woe to you rich. It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." If Jesus showed up in today's pulpit or yoga studio, he'd be accused of preaching class warfare.


This mock gospel of prosperity spikes the kool-aid of all right-wing ideologies. In one of the most important books ever written about our national culture, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), Max Weber analyzes America's peculiar tendency to regard wealth as a sign of spirituality. As we rise in economic status, we easily slip into the unexamined assumption that rich people are blessed by God, and God proves it to them by making them rich. An absurdly circular argument. Once we buy into this little conceit, we can ignore almost any call to social justice, and justify almost any extravagance to please ourselves.

The truth is, almost all of us have roots among the poor. How many of your ancestors, not so long ago, were immigrants and aliens, share croppers, brown-fisted tillers of the dust? In colonial America, the Protestant work ethic was balanced by the notion of the Covenant community. Colonial Americans understood the moral contract between wealth and poverty because it was clearly defined by Jesus, the Jewish prophets, and the oldest verses of the Torah (the sacred books of the Old Testament).

The Torah tells land owners to glean their bounteous crops in a rather sloppy way, leaving the edges of the fields unharvested, with lots of left-over fruit and grain. You wouldn't learn such unprofitable economic theory at Harvard Business School. Why are the fields so inefficiently harvested? So that yom ha'eretz, the alien poor and homeless strangers, may eat some food.

If we want to become one human family, a true sat-sang, we must not forget our atavistic connection to the poor. "You too know the heart of a stranger; for you were once aliens and strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23)

3/18/2011

Opening the Heart to Catastrophe

 

 Do not resist negativity. (Matthew 5:39) 

"Can my heart remain open in the midst of disaster? Or will it close in fear to protect my illusion of a separate self? I must choose this day whether to use my heart to project fear or blessing.

"I will not armor my heart against feelings of helplessness, nor ascribe blame, nor try to explain the unfathomable mystery of human suffering, for I am the world.

"When I don't resist what overwhelms me, I don't feel overwhelmed. In vulnerability, there is secret strength. Stillness abides in the midst of chaos.

"Now I offer a prayer for the people of Japan, and for people who suffer everywhere.

"I breathe in the world, without resistance, embracing all its fear and uncertainty.

"My awareness descends from the head to the heart. Because I welcome this breath, my breath becomes the Breath of Buddha. Because my heart does not resist, this heart becomes the heart of Christ.

"My heart is wider than any darkness it contains. My pure breath dissolves into light.

"I breathe out compassion. I send healing to the people of Japan. I breathe peace into the world. Amen."


 Perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

These sites for donating to Japanese disaster relief are recommended by the local Japanese Citizens Alliance of Olympia WA, where we have a sister city in Japan and a strong connection to Japanese culture.  ガンバッテ "Ganbatte!"  

 


3/15/2011

I am not a multi-tasking high achiever. I do one thing at a time, one thing in an hour, one thing a day. In a whole lifetime, just one thing.

3/13/2011

The Great Cliches

There are times in life when I must return to the great simplicities, which some would call cliches. That's all right with me. A cliche is a truth that never needs to change because it always works.

What are the great cliches, the great simplicities? God is. God dwells in the intimate center of my soul as an incomprehensible Other. I do my best when I surrender my work to God. And if I wish to know God's gift of Grace, all I have to do is breathe.

Breathe out: pour the mind's confusion into the heart's silence. Pray when empty, "Lord I am nothing, you are all, I rest in your Presence." Now, breathe in radiance and joy to share with everyone who touches my life.
Prayer clears the mist and brings back peace to the soul. ~ Rumi
I live in Salmon Nation, at the edge of the Salish Sea, near the mountain called Tahoma, 'Great Mother's Breast Whose White Streams Nourish Us.' This is native land. I am not a native. How could I call the land 'mine', even with deeds and documents? They are pieces of paper. No man or woman can own the soil, the waters, the wind and sunlight. On sacred Earth, I am a guest: no, not even a steward, but a guest.
I pray to Great Spirit for the wisdom and humility to act like one.

Faith is the Sister of Despair

Faith is the sister of despair. They look alike. Despair surrenders to the dark unknown and leaps into Nothing. Faith surrenders to the dark unknown and leaps into God. Between Nothing and God is just the faintest difference: one of them is awake.

3/11/2011

Do Victims of Disaster Need Prophecy?


In difficult times we seek meaning in "prophecy." But victims of disaster need aid and compassion, not vague predictions that seem to come true whenever something terrible happens.

Why do we find meaning in the ambiguous symbols of Nostradamus, or the end of the Mayan Calender in 2012? Don't all calenders end sometime? When we see a terrible earthquake in Japan, some of us dust off the hopelessly out-dated predictions of Edgar Cayce. Others insist that Biblical navi like Isaiah and Amos foresaw today's events. In fact, the concern of Old Testament "prophets" was not the future but the moral injustice of their own society.

"Prophecy" comforts us with the age-old illusion that somebody, somewhere, knows what will happen next. But faith is not knowing.

Three Jewels

 

Human birth was our initiation into the highest path. At that time, we each received three magic talismans to use on our journey. They will take us over every mountain, through every valley, guiding us to the kingdom of love. But we hid them under our cloak, so close to our breast we forgot they were there, and how to use them. The spiritual practices taught by masters and gurus simply remind us of this birthright, our three precious jewels: the Breath, the Heart, and the Sound of Silence.

3/10/2011

Joni Mitchell Was Right: We Are Stardust


"We are stardust, we are golden," Joni Mitchell sang. Astro-physicists inform us that this is literally true. Every atom of this human body was forged inside a supernova.

Statements like "you are not this body," even though repeated by "saints," express centuries of monasticism and denial of earthly life. Just as calling life a dream is meaningless for someone who is dreaming, so it is meaningless for someone in a body to say, "I am not this body."

Innocent though it sounds, the monastic teaching that "you are not this body" may justify unspeakable slaughter in the name of religious duty (dharma). If flesh is just an illusory veil to imprison the immortal atman, then killing the flesh doesn't matter, as long as it is done as dharma.

We don't need an enlightened mind, we need an enlightened body. Here is the politics of enlightened body-awareness: When we realize that our flesh is sacred, we will we stop killing people in the name of God, for we will wee every body as God.

Why seek enlightenment elsewhere? Give up the search and just become aware of your molecules. Upanishads declare, Ano raniyan, mahato mahiyan: "One particle of the smallest is greater than the greatest." Relax and be this sparkling condensation of God-Consciousness, every cell overflowing with starlight, every atom expanding with the silent majesty of infinite space.

Body awareness is not materialism. It is the play of Krishna, the Formless in form, who dances with you just as you are. Body awareness is Christ, whose incarnation demonstrates that God's golden light is human.

Meditate on your body, in your body, through your body. Your body is woven from layer upon layer of celestial choirs, angelic hosts clustered into sub-atomic particles. Your body contains worlds of wisdom, spiraling ever inward in galaxies of downy light. Your body is not an obstacle on the path of transcendence: it is your ticket to transcendence. In your body, you can encircle the cosmos without going anywhere. Bathe in the inter-stellar radiance of your sacred flesh. "Glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:20)

3/09/2011

May Divine Love Pitch Her Tent Over All


I sought wisdom from a Native American medicine teacher. I practiced Tibetan Buddhist loving-kindness meditation. I incorporated the methods of Yoga into my daily life. I embraced the elements of Tai Chi. I sang with Sufis.

But I was called an imperial pirate, appropriating indigenous tribal cultures. So I returned to my white Anglo-Saxon root and tuned my life to Christianity.

Then they called Christianity a patriarchal empire that exploited the tribes.

So I decided to became who I am: a citizen of the whole Earth.

My tribe is Humanity. All religions are my birthright, all wisdom paths my heritage. I learn from indigenous people everywhere, and honor them.

And I discovered that seekers have been doing this for thousands of years. There is no religion on Earth not deeply informed by other religions, nor any living tribe that has not be nourished by contact with other tribes. The myth of "tribal purity" breeds its own exclusivity, conservatism, and oppression.

Of no religion do I declare, "This is the way." Of Christianity I never say, "This is the one truth." Rather, I tell my teachers, Eastern and Western, Earth-centered or Sky-breathing, "Gracias. Namaste. Thank you for nourishing me. May Divine Love pitch her tent over all."

3/02/2011

Shiva


Shiva means the Pure, the Transcendent, the ash-like Essence that remains when all else burns away in the fire of truth. 

Shakti is Shiva's creative power, radiating Shiva into the cosmic play of names and forms. 
All matter and energy are nothing but Shiva sparkling through his play-power, Lila-Shakti. The world and its whirl of opposites is the dance of the Lord and Mother Divine. 
May this self-luminous purity manifest its playful splendor in your heart as Love.

3/01/2011

Visitor

 

If you feel like you're from
another planet
you probably are. 
Please stay. 
We need you here. 
You have something 
wonderful to tell us
and we are only now 
learning
to listen.