Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Only a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar will turn into a Monarch butterfly. There are over twenty thousand species of butterfly on the planet, and only the Monarch caterpillar will turn into a Monarch butterfly. To think of all the varieties of personality and character that each of us is imprinted with, or have created, the varieties of "expression" in "enlightenment " are truly limitless.

Limitless is a good way to look at this, as limitless is what we are dealing with here. Is it silent? Oh yes, but dynamically so. Is it stillness? Yes, among the unfolding, within the unfolding, there is stillness. Darkness? But with infinite light. Limitless. As soon as it's one thing, it's another. It's a shape changer like the butterfly.

Shape changers. We are this. I went to sleep as a boy and dreamed I was a man. I awoke to find I am a man, and the dream appears as a nightmare. But shape changers don't need to accept this illusory reality. Oh, the "rules " have to be "accepted " (the parenthesis are a kind of fingers crossed behind my back), but only the limitless reality need be actually accepted.

I can, by "God " I must, awaken that boy; that sleeping fool dreaming of being a man. But this is it isn't it? We dream of manhood or womanhood and liberation from an imagined oppression we have piled on ourselvers since we forgot the joy we traded for "security ". Along comes a guru, a teacher. He or she tells you that they have experienced "awakening ", a new view, a new life. They have books, CDs, DVDs, a newsletter (social networking!) and a website to die for.

On their Facebook page, and in their Notes, they let you know what a "real " enlightenment "experience " looks like, as opposed to, I guess, everyone else's. Yours. I have had people write me and tell me how saddened they feel when their "experiences " are held up as "inauthentic " and judged by someone else's measure. The Monarch caterpillar is born, eats, and has it's life experience on one type of plant. If it takes advice from a Swallowtail, eats what it eats, tries to imitate the life of the Swallowtail, it will die. Why? Butterflies all, seekers all?

The innumerable unfoldings that occur within the "great unfolding " of Love that each of us, sentient and non-sentient alike are "created " in, result in a kind of temporary "uniqueness ". There is but one unique "awakening " for us, built in from the "beginning ". You are not a Monarch caterpillar, no Monarch Butterfly in your future! The Swallowtail can't convince you either, as you are not a Swallowtail youngster with a Swallowtail dream. You are a unique illusory character, a puppet seeking desperately to see where your strings go as they vanish into the darkness above.

When you come to realize that the puppet you have taken yourself to be, is manipulated by none other than the observer of the show, you can open your uniquely marked wings and fly. Not as some other butterfly. Not in their colors. Not on their plant. Not parroting another's words, or behaviors, but a spreading of wings (awakening) that is yours alone, and with you since "birth". Limitless.


The "Call" to Exit, Stage Right

When I was in my middle years of High School, during classes, I would occasionally feel the need to just get up and walk out. And I did. This did not go down well with many teachers, as you waved their questions aside and left the room without so much as a glance. Daring move? They thought I was nuts!

In my day, in High School, they had a Dean for every class from Freshman through Senior. I was lucky to have Charles Fesler as my Dean during this time. Fesler was a fat man. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, in any way. It was simply a characteristic that was unavoidable enough to be part of his whole "persona". He was also brilliant and sarcastically funny. As a fifteen year old, I worshiped the ground the man waddled upon.

Mr. Fesler took me aside after my second incident of walking out of some class, and explained that, he too had had a difficult time staying in some classes he had in college. He told me that I already knew everything they were likely to teach me in the next couple of years, and that missing the classes was not so important as changing my manner of exit. "I was prone to nosebleeds in college", he said, "it proved to be the best excuse. I used to carry a handkerchief around that was covered in blood from previous nosebleeds, and when ever I felt that need to exit stage right, I would wave the bloody handkerchief in the professor's face, and head to the door. Worked every time."

He advised me to simply hold my hand over my mouth, point desperately to the door, and exit on the assumption that no one was going to ask questions. I never used that advise.

The simple "I understand" attitude. The implied "permission" to be myself, to "freak out" once and a while removed so much pressure, I never felt the need to run again, at least in that way!

This brings me to the point of this Note; facing the fact that a "call " to the spiritual search is as life altering and dangerous as the "awakening" that inevitably follows a real "call ". The "call ", the "search" and the "awakening" are all part of one unfolding. They appear in succession due to time, but the "awakening" is present at the first "call ", that "call " being to "awaken". The average fellow in the street does not think of this, unless there is the "call ".

Simply looking for "answers " or "peace of mind " are "reasons" a number of "seekers" use for entering the "path". While this kind of "self-improvement " can be commendable, the spiritual search that will bring you home, comes only from itself; Love "calling" itself. This requires "walking out " sometimes. Life on your own terms. Trusting instinct.
I have always marched to my own drummer. Lots of trouble. Lots of trouble! But the march has brought me home.

Home is calling. If you don't hear the "call ", pretending to "answer " it will only create more problems that it will solve. An intellectual understanding will not open the door. The "call " is to the heart, don't let the mind "hack " it. If it "calls" you to exit class or a business meeting, so be it. When life seems a confusion, simplify it by walking out. You are not of this world. Live your life in service to the "call ".

If you are quiet and lucky enough to receive this grace, this awareness of the "call " , you will find the "goal ". The "process " is already "underway ". Follow the "call ". Don't waste your time looking for "self-improvement " or "peace of mind ". Both are noble goals, but only Love seeking itself, perhaps even in spite of "you", will take you home, because it "is " home. So remember, when life starts to get you down or confused, simply remember the freedom outside the "room ". Hand over the mouth, without needless or wanted explanation, exit stage right, into the real. (Mr. Fesler will cover for ya!)


The Tingle itself

If you write Notes on Facebook very often, and if you write about non-dual spirituality, you will, without question, begin repeating yourself. There is only so much to be said, and much of that shouldn't be. Yet, one of life's little paradoxes is that the pull to offer, console and even attempt to explain remains like the pull of gravity, even when there are no objects to be "pulled ".

I don't think that you can point to Love, as our true nature, or becoming like a little child too often, or emphasize them enough. We are One with "God " through Love. We do not "become" "God ". We do not "dissolve" into "God ". Love "connects" us, to each other, as well as "God ". "God " and "we" are only expressions of Love, our "existence" coming out of the "need " of Love for expression.

If I reach out my hand to you like a child looking for that magic of touch, the magic lies in that connection, the second of touch itself. Love; the tingling in your friends hand. It's palpable, it's in the air. Even as adults, the tingling remains; a visible spark, a recognition of "connection". Your hand is in mine, and for that moment "you " and "I " are gone, only the tingle; the connection, Love is present.

Of course, if you remember way back, not in faulty or enhanced memory, but remember back to the heart of the dancing, open hearted child that lives in you still, your encounter with the sunrise, the sunset, the hawk on the wing, or the grief of a friend, will bring that tingle, that connection, thatLove.

Opening the heart, exposes it to pain. As soon as this is discovered in childhood (childhood is also a very scary time!), masks go on, and defenses go up. Love is cast out or at least "filtered" in such a way that we feel in control. To cast out pain, often life itself, we reject real "connections". We replace them with "power " and "sex ". These are tangible control and "connection ". The spirit that flows from Love is distorted and perverted into lust and desire. Control and possession stand in for true connection, which comes only from surrender.

So becoming as little children, and therefore recognizing Love as our true nature, is a constant rejection of masks, a fearless living in the connection. When we hold hands, I don't ask you to vanish, nor do you seek my absence. We seek, are indeed pulled, to be what we are created for, to be expressions of Love, the tingle itself.


The Illusion of Evil

A Facebook Friend put up a status questioning Evil in a universe, presumably "created " out ofLove. He did not expect a definitive answer, and received many interesting ideas regarding the subject. I don't expect that my view is either superior or a "better " answer, but simply a view from experience.

Love unfolding brings into potential an unknowable number of possibilities. The perfection we "live " every day, becomes "distorted ", "perverted ", and "potentially evil " when seen as having a "personal center "; you! Only clear seeing will give you a clear view of Love in action.

As a photographer, I like to use optical illustrations; "optical illusions " in this case. Early spear fishermen learned thousands of years ago to adjust for the water's little "trick " of distorting the target (fish), and making it appear a few inches from where it really was. In modern camera lenses, all manner of adjustments have been made over the last decades to eliminate distortion and other "optical aberrations ". Aberrations is a perfect word here, as this is what happens in other areas of life as well.

Evil is an aberration. An aberration of Love. When Love is taken as "personal "; something I need, something I want, and I can dispense, love becomes distorted through it's expression (you, me, whatever), into selfishness; I need, I want, I can dispense. How far from selfish to evil is really only a matter of degree. Just as in the complicated workings of light inside and outside camera lenses, phenomenon have endless possibilities, even more subtle in the "spiritual " or psychological worlds than in the "physical " world.

Pure Love, projected or held as a "possession " is like Superman hugging a ball of Kryptonite. Love, like in a perpetual game of Hot Potato, needs to be continually shared. As a boy I had a huge marble collection. My Grandmother had made me a huge marble bag, and I set about filling it. Of course, I need to explain that I did not play marbles, just collected them. I couldn't take a chance that someone might win some of my marbles, so I simply bought more and more. I had a huge collection. It was meaningless.

Without sharing my marble collection; basically using it for that which it was intended, I was losing the whole point of marbles, of life. Life calls us to make an investment. Be it marbles or an investment in courage and earnestness. Love calls us to play the game, all the while recognizing it as a game, but playing our little lives out with all our hearts. This means simply sharing Love. Evil sneaks in when we fail to examine even the tiniest of "aberrations"

Everything we see and experience is perfect. This is one of the non-dual communities "mantras". The unfolding of Love is so complicated that it is conceded that it is not explainable. Mother Nature may cleanse herself with drought or fire, but the persons experiencing this may have a less benevolent explanation. We know not what comes. All we can do is share what is given. To experience evil, to participate in evil, to look in the mirror and see the face of evil, is one of life's truly terrifying moments. But we know that this is it's home; this mirror creature, this ego.

Only a complete irradication of the ego will allow you to see this "evil " that lives in "you ". Once the "you" is gone; recognized for what it is, the "evil " in "others " becomes seen for what it is, a distortion of Love. The Friend who wrote the status mentioned that this came up after reading of the young Orthodox Jewish boy from Brooklyn who was murdered, dismembered and thrown into a dumpster, his feet preserved in the refrigerator. Pretty awful. Pretty evil.

The torture of the perpetrator, the "story " that got him there, the "story " he now faces, I feel these here too. The sadness of the boy, his family and neighborhood, are matched by the twisted life of the perpetrator, his family and neighborhood. It all unfolds before us, and we shout, grieve, and ask why? why? But the answer is withheld. We must live with the Love that comes our way, and live beside,sometimes within, these distortions that we label "evil ". We must live for Love alone. Not a "personal" love, but one that is shared constantly without fear.

Fred Rogers of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" told the story of his mother advising him in times of emergency or terrible events, to "look for the helpers "; those who emerge in the midst of the events like agents for good. Sure, there is evil in the world of the dualistic mind, but it is always surrounded by Love. We are swimming in Love. Enjoy the swim or drown, it makes no difference!


Enjoy the Show

If I told you that the universe was unfolding right in front of you, and past, present and future are being played out right here, right now, completely outside of time, how would you react? Perhaps with understanding, but more likely, confusion.

This, of course, is what is happening. The appearances continue, even to the "enlightened ", only the "enlightened " see them for what they are. The thoughts, impressions and manifestations are all just the play of the Absolute Loving. Not Loving, as in "making love", but being in a state of "Loving ".

All of this "Loving "; thinking, manifesting and leaving impressions creates a lot to absorb for a linear mind. It all happens at once, the past and future being projected out of the present. The mind cannot think that way. In fact, it is just the opposite of how the mind thinks. The mind wants linear order and time is created to give the appearance of duration. Past and future become the way to explain anything; what was, what is, and if all else fails, what will be.

The mind, bless it, performs these wonderful feats of creation in an instant. An instant "object " in an instant "present ", needs the creation of an instant "past " to explain it's "existence" in the first place. And then an instant "future" must be created for the duration, and potential improvement of the object. All very confusing, and funny as hell, by the way.

This play; the creation of this "story ", with past, present and future, happens so quickly, and seems so natural almost from the beginning, that we get "into the program " so quickly that we may not recognize it for years. As we "awaken" to new truths and experiences, it may seem a bit, perhaps a lot, confusing. To awaken one day, and see it all unfolding, as it is, not just the appearances, may be a bit overwhelming for some, if not all.

I suffered for years during my early adulthood with panic attacks. Almost always occurring when around crowds, these embarrassing attacks would take form in anything from the inability to breath to simple, but sometimes spectacular fainting. Too many times I found myself coming to on the sidewalk or on a department store carpet surrounded by my Partner and way too many curious strangers.

Finding these were caused by stress and extreme anxiety, a psychiatrist recommended watching for "danger signals". These "danger signals" are "triggers"; little thoughts that start a cycle of memories and newly "minted" thoughts that fit in to the pattern already established. It's a kind of a setup that sets off the panic attack, even before there is a "reason". To short circuit the panic attack requires catching it at that "trigger" .

This can apply to spirituality as well. If we learn to catch the little triggers that set the mind to creating appearances, we can see through the appearances, and eventually learn to simply enjoy the show. This requires understanding that past and future are part and parcel of the "present". A step outside of time, even for an instant, allows for freedom from the tyranny of time. The mind will always "try to make sense" out of the appearances it believes it sees, just like an idle mind will try to make an "object" out of the abstract pattern in the wallpaper.

Life is really about simply enjoying the show. The show follows a basic plot, but may not be understood by the mind. Free will is only an appearance. Love, in an unfolding flow, creates the objects that appear to "do" the actions. The "objects" then take it upon them selves, (cheeky little devils!) to think they are the "doer", and that the "actions" come from them. Again, this is funny as hell!

When I was a boy, the British Cinema, particularly it's comedies, had a reputation for being enigmatic, and something needing close scrutiny. "Don't try to get all the jokes, get into the flow of the damn thing". Life is like that. We don't need to get all the jokes. We probably wouldn't like many of them anyway. Getting "into the flow" shouldn't be that hard either. Lie gently on your back and float. Down woodside stream or ghetto gutter, the flow goes on, and we are more than carried with it. We come to realize that we are it.

Grab a bag of Popcorn, lie gently on your back and float. Get into the "flow" and most of all enjoy the show!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reinventing the Wheel

The old adage about not reinventing the wheel is useful in most of life's endevours. In spirituality however, it may not always fit. The spiritual texts, books and literature are filled with "sage " advice and sound descriptions of the journeys of "others ". The making these things "real " for us requires our "own " experiential contact, not simply listening to other's words.

Any "advice " given to us or made by us must live in experience, all the while realizing that "experience " itself becomes a story, after the fact. I can only "engage " this moment. If I try to avoid "reinventing the wheel " in spirituality, I find myself accepting "other's " concepts, even repeating their words. The truly scary thing is that we all sit on the perch, beg for crackers and parrot the words from time to time, and we don't even realize it!

It is very easy, over time, to fill the mind with so many non-dual concepts and words that you don't even realize it's happening. There have been so many studies of the "wheel " from before Shankara to ongoing Facebook Notes, including this one! I quote him or her, you quote me or someone else. We paraphrase, we "clarify ", we may even argue, but we are just a breeze against the cheek. To quoteBob Dylan: "You know that something's happening, but you don't know what it is. Do you? Mr. Jones".

Unlike Mr. Jones, we do know what it is, we just can't squeeze it into the limited world of words. I guess, not unlike the clown, we can silently point to the big smile, even in the face and awful reality of pain, and mime a follow me gesture. But I can't think that you will perform my pratfalls, accept my pies in the face, or be asked to squeeze into tiny cars designed for me. No, your embarrassments, show stoppers and vehicles are waiting in today's script. You will find them as you go. No rehearsals here. Everything is "live ".

There is no "wheel " until "you " rediscover it, and it makes you it's own. Once rediscovered, this pearl of great price is understood to have been there all along. Yes, I remember, it's all one. Nothing was ever lost, it just "looked " that way. So I run out and say, "Look, nothing was ever lost!, stop seeking, identification as the "seeker" will just keep you bound.", as if I expect you will understand my words. Here, you must reinvent the wheel. You will only understand that there is no "seeker" when he vanishes before your very eyes.

As I have said, as we repeat the biblical or traditional verses, or memorize ancient texts, they become "part " of us. Some of us, like myself, scatter biblical references around like salt and pepper. I, for one, have to say that I try not to. I try to describe my experiences in my own way, but we live in a world of words and memory, and it all becomes a muddy stream a piece down the line!

Your rediscovery will not be like Ramana Maharshi's. Nor will it be like mine. The "wheel " exists. It does not need so much "reinvention " as rediscovery. "Your " rediscovery. Maybe not so much about death experiences or clouds at all, but "your " rediscovery. It may come from the appearance of a "person", guru, lover, or the sudden overwhelming feelings over finding a dead butterfly in the gutter. It may come from finding the Love in a child's eyes, or seeing for the first time the wickedness in your own.

Yes, dare to "reinvent the wheel ". Look for your own "experience ". Not an "experience " that will live in memory or anticipation, but this experience; this life!


Peace of Heart

I have written about this point again and again, but find that it can't be mentioned enough; the Call. I'm not talking about some "call " from "God ", or a "pull " toward something, but a constant drive that leads you, often in spite of yourself.

So often we hear about gaining "peace of mind " through spirituality. Visions of bliss and silence fill the mind, but this is where this idea of "peace of mind " belongs, in the mind. The nagging we feel, if we are truly "called ", is a tugging at the heart. In this case, only "peace of heart " will do.

It is the heart that is the observer of Love. The mind tries in vain to organize Love, but the heart watches it unfold in complete trust. No judgment, that's the mind's job. No matter how "peaceful ", the mind will continue to try to "organize", for that is the dualistic nature of the mind, and thought itself.

If the "call " is from Love, calling to itself, then it is a "call " to the heart. This does not bring "peace of mind ", in fact it recognizes that "peace of mind " is a desire of the mind, and one that can only be satisfied by it's elimination. It is only when we live for the whole of Love itself, seek it for itself, that we follow our "call ". Try to use "spirituality " or "the search " for personal gain, even "peace of mind ", and you will bury yourself in the search.

There must be more than a desire to "make things better ", or "improve life ". We must seek more than our idea of "truth", or yoking with "God". The pull to Love toward itself is the only power that can make it, cross the line and bring "you " home. Your own desires, no matter how desperate, or sincere will not do it. "Peace of mind ", and any ideas of it, must be abandoned, and replaced with acceptance. There may be peace of mind, or not. With "peace of heart ", peace of mind becomes irrelevant.