Thursday, May 31, 2018

Shifting from Fear to Love

     During a massive shit storm, persevering may be a heroic achievement. "We have to learn that what cannot be cured must be endured." Michel de Montaigne

here's the problem, the most significant of life's challenges - constant change, aging, sickness & death - are ultimately incurable, unavoidable, uncontrollable.
     “… living with a terminal disease is like walking on a tightrope over an insanely scary abyss. But living without disease is also like walking on a tightrope over an insanely scary abyss, only with some fog or cloud cover obscuring the depths a bit more – sometimes the wind blowing it off a little, sometimes a nice dense cover.” Nina Riggs. “The Bright Hour. A Memoir of Living and Dying.” Simon & Schuster, 2017.

     Montaigne once more: “Did you think you would never reach the point toward which you were constantly heading?”  
     What if our fervent wish to cure the incurable, or even to endure (while 'raging against the dying of the light') is completely wrongheaded? WHAT IF fearful aversion to life IS our actual basic problem?

     WHAT IF instead, we gradually lean in close to carefully examine real life, warts & all? WHAT IF without any judgment, without any preferences, with a truly open heart-mind, we open ourselves to real life, complete with its constant change, aging, sickness & death? This means letting go of ALL our deeply-conditioned aversions & associated magical thinking: secular, new age & religious. 
     Can we cultivate such a mature, honest direct relationship with life?
     This demands we let go of fear, and instead, approach life with LOVE. Very radical, counterintuitive, YET ...

     Imagine now continuously practicing this. The fact is, you really can, AND there's no better alternative! So how does embodying this radically new perspective change your understanding of the following, otherwise frustratingly inscrutable, wisdom sayings?

          "The mind creates the abyss
          and the heart crosses it."                                   Nisargadatta

          "I was born
          when all I once feared
          I could love.”                                                         Rabia Basri 

          "Always do what you are afraid to do."            Ralph Waldo Emerson's Aunt Mary

          “Someone I loved gave me a box full of darkness.
          It took me years to understand that this, too,
          was a gift.”                                                              Mary Oliver


Time to go LIVE?

     To what extent do YOU sleepwalk through life - your thoughts, speech & actions fully pre-programmed by your genetic & environmental conditioning? How predictable are you? Are you barely surviving on "story of me" re-runs?

          “To live is the rarest thing in the world. 
            Most people exist, that is all.”                         Oscar Wilde

     As one who’s spent far too much time & energy on (wallowing in) miseries from my childhood, I’ve come to wonder if such activity (or more accurately, lack of activity) is primarily an avoidant luxury when we have nothing truly important & urgent to deal with. 
     An incurable disease diagnosis with a month left to live seems to snap about 40% of people out of their “neurotic selfing habit” and right smack into the best quality of life they’ve ever known. And they’re profoundly grateful for the diagnosis! See:

     An excellent, wonderfully well-written book IMHO is: Nina Riggs. “The Bright Hour. A Memoir of Living and Dying.” Simon & Schuster, 2017. A few relevant quotes from it:

          “Cancer removes whatever weird barriers we sometimes have with others. A mastectomy of bullshit, my mother suggests. All the o-yes-everything-is-great stuff eventually gets carted off in a bag of medical waste.”
          “Annie Dillard … reminds us again and again to clear our vision of expectations, to try to see without understanding.”

     And finally, a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke: 
          “Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How Would You Live Today IF ... ?

     Today’s full moon is regarded as the anniversary of the Buddha’s Enlightenment.
     This Awakening is held to have occurred around the 5th century BCE under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India.
     On his enlightenment at the age of thirty-five in Bodhgaya, the Buddha proclaimed:

          Profound peace, natural simplicity,
          uncompounded luminosity,
          I have found a nectar-like dharma.

     This day also marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s parinirvana — his passing beyond this life. When Buddha lay dying in a forest grove in Kushinigar, surrounded by five hundred of his disciples, he said to them with his last breath: 

          It is in the nature of all things that take form to dissolve again.
          Strive with your whole being to attain complete Awakening.

     On this auspicious day it is held that the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times.

     How would you live today if you were awake to the infinite consequentiality of every thought, intention, word, and action that you generate as it ripples out into the universe touching all beings in the most intimate of ways? 

     How would you live this day if you were awakened to the deepest dimensions of your True Being? These deepest dimensions encompass an underlying ground of reality that is shared by all things and all beings -- an inner open dimension of wakeful loving clear presence within all things and all beings in all moments of what we call time.

     May you live with this intimate sense of interbeing and with a heartfelt lovingkindfulness today – and all days.

Joel & Michelle Levey

Loving Awareness

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Going through Hell?

     If you're going through hell, 
     keep going.
     That is no place to stop!                          John Randall Dunn (paraphrased)

     Below are the words of a 35 year old, diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly before he would have completed neurosurgery training:
     "... yet now I felt that to understand my own direct experiences, I would have to translate them back into language. Hemingway described his process in similar terms: acquiring rich experiences, then retreating to cogitate and write about them. I needed words to go forward.
     And so it was literature that brought me back to life during this time. The monolithic uncertainty of my future was deadening; everywhere I turned, the shadow of death obscured the meaning of any action. I remember the moment when my overwhelming unease yielded, when that seemingly impassable sea of uncertainty parted. I woke up in pain, facing another day - no project beyond breakfast seemed tenable. I can't go on, I thought, and immediately, its antiphon responded, completing Samuel Beckett's seven words, words I had learned long ago as an undergraduate: I'll go on. I got out of bed and took a step forward, repeating the phrase over and over: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'
     That morning, I made a decision: I would push myself to return to the OR. Why? Because I could. Because that’s who I was. Because I would have to learn to live in a different way, seeing death as an imposing itinerant visitor but knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living."
        Paul Kalanithi. “When Breath Becomes Air.” Random House, 2016.

Precious Life

Friday, May 18, 2018

Who am I really?

     "What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."                                                                                            Abraham Maslow
"From the same womb we came,
that of magnificent sovereignty.
Feeling lost in time
I tried on a thousand costumes
but only Infinite Knowing
will fit."                                                                                        Rumi

     "There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in your heart."                          Chandogya Upanishad

      "An awake heart is like a sky that pours light."              Hafiz 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Doing & Being

     Just saw an insightful 2017 documentary: "I Am Heath Ledger." He seemed 'driven' to constantly create. Stardom came quickly & easily. He hardly slept, despite taking sleeping pills. At some point he became very interested in musicians who died young. He himself then died at age 28 - such a painful waste - he had so much more to learn, so much more to contribute. 

     Obsessively doing is such an easy, dirt-common addiction. But it's just an anxious, nervous, involuntary twitch. Please don't be proud of it, even though people may admire you for it and say "Oooooooh, you're sooooo BUSY!"
     WHO is busy? The puppet you, or YOU?

     “The purpose of life is not to transcend the body, 
      but to embody the transcendent.”                          Dalai Lama

     When we're open-heartedly engaged with whatever or whoever in the present moment, there's no thought of self, fear, worry, suffering, time, etc. When we ARE BEING loving awareness, we embody the transcendent. We can't be loving awareness, AND at the same time, do the fearful twitching bit. We choose, moment-by-moment, to BE loving awareness - or - to anxiously twitch. 
     We can & should of course act while being loving awareness - such authentic action feels effortless, timeless, peaceful, joyful.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Awareness, Inner Wakefulness, Presence

“Though we seem to be sleeping, 
there is an inner wakefulness 
that directs the dream, 
and that will eventually startle us back 
to the Truth of who we are.”                                         Jalal al-Din Rumi

      “Be mindful of this ‘inner wakefulness’ that is the clarity amidst the confusion, and the stillness amidst the turbulence of your life. Cultivate it and let its Presence grow in your life.”                                                                                     Joel & Michelle Levey

     "When we are continually lost in thoughts and concepts, we miss the immediacy and the fullness of life in the here and now — the only place we can ever experience it. In our attempts to find peace, we create more suffering for ourselves and others. 
     That is, until we discover Presence (‘awareness,’ ‘inner wakefulness’) ...
     Presence is the arising of a dimension of consciousness from where you can become aware that there is a voice in the head. That awareness is beyond thinking. It’s a space of consciousness where you can be the observer of your own mind — the awareness behind the thought processes.

     For human beings to discover this dimension is extraordinarily important. It is in fact, as I see it, the next step in the evolution of humanity. When you no longer look to the mind to provide you with your sense of identity — because your sense of identity now comes now from a deeper place — that’s the shift that changes everything, dramatically. It is the most important thing that can happen in your lifetime.
     As Presence arises you’ll find in many areas of your life enormous improvements. One is that the voice in the head that before created such anguish and unhappiness no longer has that power over you. As the mind’s conditioning begins to subside, you can be with people, events, and situations in a non-dysfunctional way, aligned with whatever arises in the present moment.”                                                            Eckhart Tolle