Saturday, January 22, 2022

Not One; Not Two

           On a branch
           floating downriver
           a cricket, singing.    Issa

     This haiku is a "portrait of something probably actually seen, but it is also a portrait of our entire existence. ... We’re on a branch in the middle of a river. It’s not a good place for a cricket to be, especially if there are some rapids ahead. And yet, what does the cricket do? It sings, because that is its nature, because that is what it has to offer, because it delights in this moment in the sun ..." Jane Hirshfield

“Suffering is not enough.
Life is both dreadful and wonderful.
To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Smiling means that we are ourselves,
that we have sovereignty over ourselves,
that we are not drowned in forgetfulness.
How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow?
It is natural — you need to smile to your sorrow
because you are more than your sorrow.” Thich Nhat Hanh

     Near death experiencers (NDEs) sometimes have difficulty knowing the origin of a very clear, authoritative voice they heard. Was it the Divine? Or was it me? Often, they feel that it's neither - at least not in a way they had ever conceived of 'God' or themselves before.
it because there is no real distinction between our 'small self' and Primordial Source?
this about directly knowing the 'paradox' of 'both and'? 

     Is this where the apparent conflict between 'what God wants' and 'what I want' resolves into 'two sides of one coin,' and no longer feeling like helpless victims, we realize that we are actively co-creating & co-discovering life?

     And then I reflect on that powerful, authoritative voice telling my 16 year old self, "You will be loved." Decades later, am I ready to hear, "You will be love"? Both and?

     When will
we embrace the ultimate mystery that we ARE the actual source of the unconditional love for which our 'hurt
inner child' constantly aches?
will we simply remember to BE love?

“Love says 'I am everything.'
Wisdom says 'I am nothing.'
Between the two, my life flows.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 

"Seeing a difference or gap between our consciousness & that of Buddha (Christ)
is the single cause of suffering and delusion.
But it is the Buddha Mind (God) itself which is manifesting Itself
as the sentient being that doesn’t recognize this!"

Jackson Peterson (slightly modified)


Unconditional Love

Friday, January 21, 2022

Where is the Love?

     Everything depends on my love in every moment. Other names for this essential ingredient include heart, wisdom, or life force - 'may the force be with you.'

? Absolutely! Abandonment, neglect & other major abuses, by those on whom infants totally depend for love, shelter, protection & nurturing, often cause catastrophic physical, mental, emotional, psycho-social-spiritual chaos, for generations! This has been thoroughly documented in "adverse childhood experiences (ACE)" studies, since the late 1990's. Lack of love is severely traumatic, devastating lives like a raging forest fire. Most people who commit violent crimes, suffer addictions & incarceration came from unstable, dysfunctional homes.

     Despite far-from-ideal childhoods, some children still grow up to be functional, loving adults. Most, perhaps all such resilient children, had at least one loving, nurturing adult to inspire & energize them to survive, and maybe even thrive.

     Many of us, at least subconsciously crave to be loved unconditionally, without judgment or expectation, just for who / what we are. Our deepest desire is to receive love like this forever.

     “A single force, love, links and gives life to infinite worlds.” Jordano Bruno


     How to wisely keep open our heart energy center is exceptionally-well dealt with in: Michael A. Singer. “The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.” New Harbinger, 2007. 


      "Experiencers" - those who've had near death experiences (NDEs), and the many others who have, by various other means, glimpsed beyond the narrow perspective ('veil') of this physical dimension, consistently agree on the absolute primacy of love. The highlight of their strikingly vivid, overwhelming spiritually-transformative experience is the certainty of being loved unconditionally. Nothing compares to this, the most important message which they all share. To the best of their ability, they resolve to be the source of unconditional love for the rest of their lives:

     This pivotal spiritual shift from craving for to being the source of love, arises from the remembered capacity to recognize in oneself the exact same perfect source of love, as is present in all other people, animals, plants & things - as expressed in the greeting 'Namaste.'

     “If you don’t find God in the next person you meet,
      it is a waste of time looking for him further.” Gandhi

     The only relief available for the worst possible pain - that of losing one's child - is the meaning derived from being able to provide wise loving support to others going through this same terrible pain:

      With every person we meet, the task is to recognize their perfect loving ('divine') true nature, which helps them recognize their own perfect true nature. It's about creating a nurturing, harmonious resonance of authentic beings. We are being asked to radically accept & get beyond our differences, and that's not easy. To finally recognize each & every one of us, including ourselves, as fully divine AND AT THE SAME TIME having a fully human experience, in ALL circumstances - joy, boredom & agony!

     "There’s only one happiness and it’s who you are. There’s only one place to find lasting happiness, and that is to know who you are and to be who you are.” Francis Lucille

"It is this love which will bring about miracles
in the hearts of men.
Luther King, Jr.

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself 
that you have built against it. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Choosing Light or Dark?

     At birth, and until we're around one & a half or two years of age, we feel at one with everyone & everything around us, perfectly loved, perfectly at home, perfect: I suspect that most of us, at least vaguely remember this wondrously perfect direct experience, have no words to express it, but try desperately to recapture it for the rest of our life. The result is an almost universal sense of 'lack': .
rtists, those with addiction disorders, perfectionists, and perhaps most successfully, mystics are drawn towards the tantalizing perfect love that's almost within reach. Brief as well as more prolonged re-connection, re-membering of this perfect love (a "heart opening") occurs in mystical experiences: awakenings, near-death experiences (NDEs), "trips" on entheogens, post-traumatic growth experiences, etc. Even listening to people recount their NDE can help us to remember our own direct experience of having been loved unconditionally, and thus can be a profoundly meaningful, healing experience. I invite you to immerse yourself in these profound, transformative experiences:

Daniel Giroux:

Tricia Barker:

Jose Hernandez:

David Bennett:

Robin Landsong:

NDE overview, by NDE-researcher Jeffrey Long MD:

     Of course, we all know people who respond to this powerful calling by turning away from perfect love, denying its existence, and fully committing to fear, meaninglessness, materialism, cynicism, bitterness, anger & hatred. Here's the powerful NDE of a man who pushed this approach to the max, and how that worked out:

Howard Storm:

     We can choose to be the source of love, nurturing everyone & everything - OR - to take all we can away from everyone & everything. This choice between being an evolved human being or a narcissist is always ours, moment-by-moment, with very different effects on everyone.
     EVERYTHING depends on this choice, and clearly, we can all be choosing MORE WISELY!

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
              Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

All That Is

     Our brain, according to an increasing number of experts, acts as a "reducing valve" to prevent us from being overwhelmed by the infinite amount of information that surrounds us. The efficiency of this reducing function differs for each individual, resulting in very different perspectives.
extremely inefficient reducing valve can result in data overload, making navigating the world impossible. However, an extremely efficient reducing valve can give a false sense of certainty that one's extremely narrow worldview is accurate & all encompassing - that nothing outside of it can possibly exist. There are very popular secular ("scientism") and religious versions of such dogmatism. Simplified, easy-to-understand models of reality, to which everyone must conform, provides a temporary hiding place from reality - which is awe-inspiringly complex & ever-changing!
these two extremes, is an infinite range of possibilities: markedly increased perceptual awareness, amazing creativity, & incredible skills in every arena: communication, visual arts, music, math, etc.
instantly shut down & walk away when faced with above-average skills & capacities. Their narrow, rigid, mechanical worldview & identity would be shattered if they were to admit that extra-ordinary things can & do occur. No amount of data, evidence, or reasoning can cure this fearful emotional reaction, any more than it's possible to reason people out of a phobia.
of us have a (mostly unexamined) small box with walls or 'boundaries' - whatever's inside, we accept as 'real' & safe; everything outside, 'can't be real' & is terrifying. I've noticed that those who seem to have the most rigid boundaries, around the smallest 'box' are the most susceptible to having their boundaries / box blown wide apart by trauma eg a good friend & devoted family-man, who was rigidly anti-religious, unexpectedly lost his prestigious, high-paying job. He then suddenly abandoned his wife & children, joined a religious cult, changed his name, and moved to another continent.
Many events can & will rock our world, both mundane (eg accidents) and "out of the ordinary" (eg NDEs) : What's critical is learning to respond to shocks to our system in a way that transforms us into wise elders, instead of shrinking & hardening us into bitter victims!
maturation involves progressively expanding our horizons, opening up our mind & hearts, and exploring the ever-expanding, wondrous universe - our 'box' endlessly enlarging, its 'walls' / 'boundaries' becoming more & more porous to all that is.
      “People have accessed the higher realms through near death experiences, through mystical encounters, or through meditation. Others have had a sudden insight or ‘aha’ moment. All doors lead to the same place: a transcendent recognition that our true nature is spiritual, not physical. There often is a simultaneous awareness that we are all interconnected and that we are somehow manifestations of one energy.
     Brian L. Weiss, Amy E. Weiss. ”Miracles Happen. The Transformational Healing Power of Past-Life Memories.” HarperOne, 2012.

     Natalie Sudman's near death experience (NDE) carries a wonderfully liberating, uplifting message for those of us with the 'bandwidth' to hear it:

I’ll try to describe some of the qualities & perspectives that were present in all the environments that I experienced (in my NDE). 
this non-physical state of being, there’s a profound sense of belonging. Everything about everyone that exists is not only accepted, but admired, respected, recognized & celebrated. There’s a cooperative co-passion for being that permeates everything that I experienced.
there is effortless. It is just so easy. It’s blissful, and it’s filled with a joy that is so fundamental, it’s only really remarkable from outside of that state of being.
imagine that everything you have ever thought, imagined, experienced, dreamed or created, was recognized to be valuable to you yourself and everyone else, to all that exists. Imagine that no matter what you do or how you express yourself, you belong and are valued. This is true. What was known to me, what was so basic as to be assumed was just that. That we are each intrinsically valuable, and everything we experience matters, not just to ourselves but to each other, and to all that is.
     I use the phrase ‘all that is’ instead of God, Source, Universe, whatever – a lot of those words have just personal connotations that limit my ideas. And so when I say ‘all that is,’ it includes all that is. That’s the term that I’ll be using.
     My experience is that we are always within and expressions of all that is, which is a beautiful force of infinitely curious and creative energy & awareness. How can we be anything but perfect. We are all that is, just as much as it is us. We are created by it; it creates us. We participate in it; it participates in us. We extend it; and it extends us. We are each individual expressions of the single infinite awareness. We are one. And we are each perfect, exactly as we are.

Near Death Experience in Iraq - Natalie Sudman :

     Natalie Sudman. "Amplification of Impossible Things. My Near Death Experience in Iraq." Ozark Mountain Publishing, 2012. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


Saturday, January 8, 2022

How Awake am I?

      It's generally agreed that we can't accurately estimate how awake, consciously evolved or spiritually mature we NOR others are. Nevertheless, the further along the 'path' of awaking one is, the less one tends to behave in a self-centered, antisocial manner; and the more one tends to behave with unconditional loving-kindness towards everyone & everything.

     It's natural to be drawn more to those who are kind & nurturing, than to those who are difficult & drain our energies. Of course after one has been on this path of awakening for a while, one will have objectively observed one's own self-centered past behaviors, perhaps even being surprised how anyone could have tolerated them. So we should naturally resonate with & feel empathy towards those following in our footsteps on the path. Of course holding rigid, harsh judgment against others suggests that currently there's lack of awareness of the path and of a deeper reality. Fortunately, there seems to be no rush. In fact, impatient striving for awakening is considered to be one of the major obstacles on the path.

     Above & beyond these considerations, Natalie Sudman's near-death experience (NDE) gave her powerful insights into how it's reasonable to love others as ourselves unconditionally, with no judgment. She ALSO sees how it's perfectly OK no matter where one appears to be on the path of awakening or what one's opinion is on the matter. According to Sudman, ALL perspectives are equally acceptable & valuable. Her deep insights will help all of us, no matter where we guess we or our friends are on the path.

     “We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass

     "If we think of this physical life as the movie; we wrote the movie, and now we have parts, and we’re playing in the movie. Well somebody may have written their part in that movie to be a character who is totally cut off from their whole self, and to really experience what that is like. There are a lot of things you can learn from that, and some really interesting experiences. Some other people may write the movie saying, ‘I’m going to be a character who forgets who they really are, and then makes their way back to an awareness of who they really are.’ I think there are a lot of people out there who are hunting or searching for that, ‘How do I get that?’ And that’s what I’m talking about when I said that those are instances for healing. Being cut off from who we are as full selves – that too has value. It can have value. There’s nothing wrong with it. You’re not going to be punished for it. There is no judgment on it. It’s an experience. And you can turn it into a valuable experience.

      The biggest (lesson I learned through my NDE) is just knowing that I am more than the physical body, I am not my thoughts, I am not my emotions. I am an infinite being, having experiences through those thoughts, & through those emotions, and through this body.”
Natalie Sudman from her 64min interview:

     I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the series of 4 in-depth interviews Natalie Sudman did (with Bob Olson) filled with WONDERFULLY beneficial insights into our true nature:


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Bouncing into Graceland

     Our origin & true nature is timeless, inexpressible, inconceivable. We can however directly experience our original perfection, ease, oneness, at-homeness, completeness. Romain Rolland named this 'the oceanic feeling' in infancy & early childhood.

     Then around age 2, we start to feel that something's amiss, off, not right, as we start to create & perceive a 'self' (ego) as separate & different from the people & things around us. This model or concept helps us function somewhat independently, and allows each of us to have our own unique, distinct conscious perspective on reality.
, wise, sustainable individuals/societies have quiet egos. Such evolved individuals are productive AND collaborate, for their own benefit AND for the greater good. This is the very essence of a 'civilized individual,' and 'civilization.' The left- and right hemispheres are working in harmony - the right hemisphere being the master; the left hemisphere having an important, but subservient role: 

     However, balance easily devolves to imbalance. When individual egos attempt to dominate ('noisy ego', narcissism, hyper-rationalism, left-hemisphere dominance) at the expense of the common good, such devolution cause the collapse of the Greek & Roman civilizations, AND we're in the same mess now. Those causing the greatest immediate threat to humanity's survival persist doing 'whatever it takes' to become the richest, most powerful, most armed, most defended, most self-centered individuals & nations, though this brings only suffering.

     We can, at least briefly, regain our original sense of intimate connection with the source of all, while retaining our individual conscious capacity to supply our unique perspective & co-creative force through the process of 'awakening.' See:
people have mystical experiences, yet our spiritually-impoverished society tends to consider these as nonsense, or even pathological, so we tend to keep it to ourselves & even suppress these.
     "Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry asleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence.”
     Anthony de Mello. “Awareness. The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.” Doubleday, 1992. p5

     "I hope there is no human being who has not had one moment, at least, when they stood in the world, undone by awe & radiance, and the small self vanishes, and you understand the world as immense and yours, and not yours."
Hirshfield – The Fullness of Things – On Being with Krista Tippett

     "There’s only one happiness and it’s who you are. There’s only one place to find lasting happiness, and that is to know who you are and to be who you are.” Francis Lucille

     “Leo Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilych, originally published in 1886, tells the story of a middle-aged man who is suffering from a terminal, yet undiagnosable, kidney disease. The stress of his illness and impending death has left him in deep personal anguish and despair. Remarkably, after much suffering in his last few days, Ivan has a spontaneous mystical breakthrough:
At the end of the third day, two hours before his death…Ivan Ilych fell through and caught sight of the light.... It grew clear to him that what had been oppressing him and would not leave him was all dropping away at once from two sides, from ten sides, from all sides.... ‘How good and how simple!’ he thought. ‘And the pain?’ he asked himself.

     ‘What has become of it? Where are you, pain?’

     He turned his attention to it.

     ‘Yes, here it is. Well, what of it? Let the pain be.’

     ‘And death…where is it?’

     He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. ‘Where is it? What death?’ There was no fear because there was no death.

     In place of death there was light.

     ‘So that’s what it is!’ he suddenly exclaimed aloud. ‘What joy!’…

     ‘Death is finished,’ he said to himself. ‘It is no more!’ He drew in a breath, stopped in the midst of a sigh, stretched out, and died."
     Bradley Lewis. “Mindfulness, Mysticism, and Narrative Medicine.” J Med Humanit DOI 10.1007/s10912-016-9387-3 Published online: 10 March 2016

     “There is a beautiful passage by an anonymous writer of another age that is sometimes read at the end of a funeral service: For life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.’
     The passionate longing of the human heart has always been to press beyond the boundaries of the known, to break through the limitations of our understanding. This is perhaps our most fundamental and essential freedom. Now, more than ever, we need to honor that longing and welcome those pioneers who can unveil new horizons, new possibilities of understanding our nature, our potential and our destiny.

Baring, in the forward to, Betty J. Kovacs, “The Miracle of Death: There is Nothing But Life” Kamlak Center, 2020, pxiii

     “A single force, love, links and gives life to infinite worlds.” Jordano Bruno

     "I began by asking myself, “What do I want out of life?” And the answer was happiness. Investigating further, I went into the moment when I was feeling happiest. I discovered something which to me was startling at the time. It was when I was loving that I was happiest. That happiness equated to my capacity to love rather than to being loved." Lester Levenson

"But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption;
the end is the creation of the beloved community.
It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age
into the exuberant gladness of the new age.
It is this love which will bring about miracles
in the hearts of men

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.