People perform good deeds in order to get good feelings, or to avoid bad ones, like guilt. So it is all for the sake of the Self. There's nothing wrong with this. Just accept it for what it is, and don't pretend.
Occasionally, in the spontaneity of the present moment, one finds a need, and true loving-kindness arises. There is no intention to perform an act of "charity," no plan to engage in a "service project"; simply the spontaneous arising of compassionate action. This is actual love, "agape." There is no do-er. It is the action described by Jesus when he says, "Giving alms to the poor, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." It is the action described by Buddha in the Sutras: "When a Bodhisattva performs an act of charity, he has no intention to be charitable, and no concept of 'charity.'"
In such a do-er-less act of love, you will serve another creature with infinite care and devotion, because at that moment no other creature exists but the one whom you serve. You have no plan, no intention, nor any karma to be fulfilled. In that moment of love, there is no past or future.
Performing even the humblest, most anonymous deed in such a manner, pierces the heart of the universe and makes the stars tremble.
Posted by AKL at 12:59 PM
A healing stillness enfolds the deepest pain, the deepest anxiety, very softly. This gentle encompassing is not a product of the mind, a belief, or a technique. It is the fruit of surrender.
The New Testament calls this breath of presence the "Comforter." We may call the Comforter "He" or "She," since She is infinitely nearer than "it."
The Comforter is always already inside us. We don't need to invoke Her. We may not immediately feel the Comforter in the midst of turmoil, because She is even more intimate than our pain. We may not see the Comforter, because She is the seer.
If we cannot find the Comforter, it is because we are looking in the wrong place. To look any further than the one who is looking, is looking too far. The Comforter is your very awareness, when crystal clear.
You may feel clouds of anxiety, but you are not the clouds. You are the space where they arise and dissolve. The nature of that space is peace, clarity, and compassion. Yet in that space there is room for every kind of cloud, every shade of feeling, from the highest joy to the deepest despair.
The Comforter does not transcend feelings, She embraces them. She absorbs them into vast tranquility. Her overflowing stillness encircles the most violent or desperate emotion, without the slightest resistance, the slightest attempt to suppress or control.
Rest effortlessly in the Comforter, just as the color blue reposes in the sky.
Posted by AKL at 1:05 PM
If someone starts talking about 'higher states' or 'enlightenment experiences,' feel sorry for them.
Their 'spiritual path' is likely rooted in discontent, in a flight from the ordinary. They may never find the magic they seek, because only in the ordinary do miracles of wonder happen. Only in the ordinary does Grace flow, fall, and settle into incarnation. Every Autumn leaf is a sacrament of the ordinary, and just to breathe is worship.
Throughout the Catholic liturgical year, there are high feasts and saint's days, but the greater part of the year is called the 'Ordinary of the Seasons,' or simply 'Ordinary Time.' Many chants and praises in the Latin heritage celebrate the Ordinary. The liturgical color for the Ordinary is green....
Ordinary Time is the time when we perceive miracles. The veil between the worlds thins down to sudden mushrooms, dewy webs, silken threads of nature's quietest breath. Let us begin every morning by discovering a miracle. Miracles are the ordinary signs that our gratitude is bearing fruit.
Posted by AKL at 1:34 PM
ANGER is very useful as energy in the present moment. But trapped in the mind as a story about the past or an intention for the future, anger is toxic. If we de-link the anger from mental images of past and future, feeling it directly in the body, we are energized for creativity. We are so much more powerful when we use anger to be creative, rather than critical."Tyger Tyger, burning bright
in the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Posted by AKL at 10:36 AM
When do we finally accept that our fear, anger, and anxiety about the world serve no positive purpose, neither uplifting nor healing a single being? We are not here for fear, anger, and anxiety. We are here for Beauty.
If Beauty stills and stuns our mind, even for a moment, that Beauty must irradiate every atom in creation.
Spend a few moments in Beauty every day. She is all around you: in the fur of a cat, in the last garden rose, in the eye of a child, in the fading light of an evening cloud. Yet these are just reflections of the actual Beauty that vibrates in the core of your heart. Here inside you is the silent pulse of transcendental Beauty, lending its tincture to all that is beautiful: the un-created divine Radiance through whose Beauty we recognize the shadow of beauty in creatures.
If not for your own sake, then for the sake of the earth, take a moment to taste and see some small beauty. And from that external image, sink to the source of Beauty in your heart. Your faintest breath will become an eternal spark; and for that instant, You are the diamond at the center of the lotus.
Posted by AKL at 3:34 AM
Religious beliefs are ruining the earth, and robbing our most essential civil liberties. Now the invitation is offered to give up believing in God, so that we might experience God. The mind that is emptied of every belief descends into the heart, to taste the boundless luminosity of divine love. Love depends no more on a belief than the clarity of the sky depends on a cloud.
Took this picture of the clouds over my village on a late summer walk. Some clouds sweet, some heavy, all dissolve. Sky remains...
Posted by AKL at 3:28 PM
It is more important to be myself than to be spiritual.
Those who are very spiritual, but make war on themselves, cause great stress in the world. If I am against myself in order to become a better person, dividing myself into a 'higher' and 'lower' self to do interior combat, I may call it 'self discipline,' I may be a good Christian soldier, a good Jihadist, a good Yogi, a good Pacifist, a good political activist - but I will inevitably project my inner conflict onto others. The world is not healed by my improvement, it is healed by my embrace.
Be a wounded lion in the forest, licking and healing your furry gashes. Honor your flesh. Be not a soul and a body, but a whole field of self-nourishing energy. The Comforter enfolds you as You. The forest heals you, and you heal the forest.
Posted by AKL at 7:12 AM
When I am unhappy, it is easier to dissolve the I than the unhappiness.
When I dissolve, the cloud of the world has nothing to cling to. I evaporate into clear space. In this sky, who cares if clouds come and go? Who cares if whole lifetimes, whole worlds come and go?
Ashtavakra says, "Layam vraja: dissolve now!" How then do I dissolve?
Begin by accepting that these clouds of unhappiness aren't really mine. They belong to the world. So often I imagine that my unhappiness is a private angst: but it is the world's sorrow that I feel, a great darkness around me that is not truly my own property.
When anxiety brings me to my knees, it is a moment of grace. Why? Because mind gives up and sinks into the heart. There, in that deep well, I drop all my worries, because I drop the I. Then there is surrender to a Presence that is always right here, in the midst of doubt or fear. This depth, this very space of nothing at all, becomes alive with sparkling consciousness. At such a moment, trust the Presence, and know it is the womb of Mother Divine.
"Amma, Mother, I am powerless! You are the only power. I am falling, but I am falling into the abyss of your grace. My very hopelessness is the infinite depth of your heart. Not I, Mother, but you. You are All around, above and below, deeper inside me than my own being."
To surrender like this, one must be brought low, with no one and nothing to depend on, neither money nor status, neither name nor intelligence nor degree. Only then can a humbling grace burn the me away. This is what Jesus meant by being poor: "Blessed are the poor in spirit." The word he used did not just refer to an economic poverty, but to an inward state of destitution, total surrender.
As I dissolve into this mothering space, my surrender not only lightens my burden, it lightens the burden for others. The cloud of world-suffering lifts from their hearts too. It is the greatest mystery, how our own interior cloud produces the world-cloud, and how our own interior surrender heals the whole planet.
Persons are not separate particles, but inter-penetrating waves in one ocean of forgiveness. When my tiny wave rises or falls, the ocean rises and falls in you. We contain one another.
Posted by AKL at 8:26 PM
The night behind your eyes is illuminated with countless stars, whether you sleep, or dream, or wake.
The breathless wonder of this vast inner sky exists before time, has no boundary, never begins and never ends.
The radiant emptiness of perfect bliss is available before you even have the thought of "I." In fact, this thought of "I" is the only illusion overshadowing the Truth, just as the reflection of a fiery red rose overshadows the unfathomable clarity of the mirror in which you behold it.
The bounteous joy of your essence is so immediate, so free from thought, all that stands between you and this Grace is the search for it. Drop the search.
One could quote the Psalm and say, "Be still, and know that I AM God." But even this implies that there is something to do, something to know, something to find.
You already ARE the stillness, you ARE the source of knowing, you ARE the "AM" from whom both "I" and "God" arise as playful companions.
Krishna meets Radha, Jesus meets the Magdalene, in a fragrant secret kunj. You yearn to be there, a bee in one of the blossoms, or a moonbeam stealing through the branches, even for just a moment.
For thousands of lifetimes you wondered and wandered, searching for the path, the gate, the opening among the petaled branches...
O Friend, don't you understand? This garden is your heart!
Posted by AKL at 10:49 PM
A discussion on the Four Keys to Human Existence was held in the assembly of those who were thought wise.
The modern philosopher stood up and said, "The four keys are sex, food, money and death." The people applauded with great enthusiasm.
Next the moral philosopher stood and said, "The four keys are prudence, temperance, harmony, and fortitude." There was general murmuring, because these words had not been heard for a thousand years and no one could remember what they meant.
Then the Yogi spoke. "The four keys to a good life are dispassion, loving-kindness, non-violence, and contentment." Some of the people smiled, but the rest whispered among themselves. Finally someone said , "This is not philosophy!"
Now the Fool stood up and spoke. "The keys to human existence consist in being grateful." The whole assembly waited. Then they began to grumble. Someone shouted, "What are the other keys, Fool?" To which the Fool replied, "There are no others, just gratefulness, gratefulness, gratefulness, and more gratefulness," to which the assembly replied with uproarious laughter.
When things settled down, the philosophers turned toward the Tattagatta, was was reclining on his elbow, listening. One of them addressed him. "They say you are the Awakened One. We haven't heard your opinion yet!"
The Tattagatta gently smiled. With patience and dignity, he came to a sitting position. Then he stood. After a pause, he began to walk slowly through the assembly. The gathered guests all felt the strange sensation of their hearts melting inside them. But they could not fathom the meaning of this, for their minds had become mysteriously empty of all thought.
Then the Buddha, saying nothing at all, returned to his place, stood quietly before them, sat down, and reclined gently on his right side, head at rest on his elbow. There was profound and glowing silence in the air.
Since no one else rose to interpret the Dharma, the Fool stood up. The philosophers scoffed. He waited for their laughter to subside, then spoke.
"One who is awake needs no thought. One who is present requires no philosophy. The river flows all by itself, the moon rises and sets, weightless as a feather on a breath of air.
"The mountain has been bowing to the cloud for countless ages, and the cloud melts gently at the mountain's caress. How sweetly flowers spring up for no reason, and frogs sing songs without meaning.
"What can a human do but stand, walk, sit, and lie down? If you stand, walk, sit, and lie down with an undivided heart, dwelling without resistance in the present moment, welcoming with a gentle breath whatever appears, whatever dissolves, well then - justice, wisdom, compassion, contentment, and all the finest virtues will arise in your body naturally, without any discipline at all."
Posted by AKL at 5:09 PM
"Beauty is a light in the heart." ~Kalil Gibran
In Kali Yuga, the most demented souls incarnate to work out their karma through violence, while the most enlightened souls incarnate to reach liberation through surrender. In no age is the negativity so great. In no age is the outpouring of Grace so overwhelming.
In the age of Kali, our attempts at economic, judicial or cultural reform feel futile. The chaos is too extreme. "Progress" in Kali Yuga is not measured by the degree of political change, but by the depths of the heart's surrender. This does not mean that we don't work for change. It means that we do the work that is ours with a heart free from fear and attachment to outcome.
This age plunges us into disharmony, caused by the extreme polarization of opposites. Yet it is precisely this quality of desperation that opens the possibility of surrender. In Kali's age, the pleasures of the senses are too fleeting to grasp, therefor liberation is much easier. In Kali's age, no belief of the mind can be absolute. As soon as we grasp one thought, we see that its shadow, its opposite, is equally real. Thus we can more easily discriminate between mind-stuff and pure awareness. There is really no salvation in the beliefs and concepts of the mind. Freedom lies in consciousness its Self...
The very instability of the senses and the mind drives us to abandon both material cravings and belief systems, and to sink into the heart. Here, in the depths of loss and confusion, we can only keep falling, until we fall into the abyss of Grace. Our salvation is the state of wonder.
Here we find that darkness is not the opposite of light. Darkness is the womb of light. In our absolute fallenness is a joy that can never be robbed by the world.
If we think we must end all the injustice, all the poverty, all the sorrow of the world before we can be happy, we will never begin to generate the energy of healing, the mightiest gift we can offer the people around us: our happiness.
Tap the source, the wellspring of Love, in the silent core of your own chest. Don't wait for the planets and the stars. Let the sun rise in every cell of your body.
Jai Guru Dev
Posted by AKL at 11:23 AM