Monday, January 30, 2023


    We feel most alive & joyful when we're most intimately, naturally connected to who / what we truly are, and feel most at home in our own skin, independent of external circumstances.
, this is far from our common, shared experience, even if we live in the relatively safe & affluent West. Rather, at best we feel a low, yet chronic persistent level of anxiety, time-poverty, and sense of 'lack.'
authentic spiritual practices, such as self-inquiry, are specifically-designed to lead us back home to who / what we truly are.

     “... behind the conventional religions with their myths, rituals, beliefs and dogmas, are these hidden disciplines for practices for training the mind to induce the same states of consciousness that the founders had realized, and thereby opening up similar possibilities for all of us.
    Religions tend to get started when an individual has some sort of breakthrough of some kind. Different founders have different kinds of breakthroughs, but they have spiritual breakthroughs of one kind or another. And the people who are effective in initiating traditions that have lasting power provide several things. First they provide an insight, a vision, a spiritually-informed understanding. Then they’re also able to transmit partly charismatically, partly technically – that is they offer a variety of practices by which other people can have the same realizations for themselves, so that they transmit two things. One is insight, understanding, a vision of the way the world & we look from that awakened place, but secondly, a set of practices which allow others to have the same insight, understanding & state of consciousness and test it out for themselves.

    Roger Walsh (2hr) interview :

    “All authentic religions – including revealed traditions such as Christianity & Islam – contain contemplative or mystical branches. These are crucially important because they practice contemplative disciplines – for example, meditation, contemplation, and yoga – that foster an array of psychological and spiritual skills such as concentration, insight, emotional maturity, & wisdom. When these skills mature, they result in maturation to transpersonal states & stages that can culminate in a direct insight into reality. This insight yields a radically different (transrational, transconceptual, or transcendental) kind of wisdom known, for example, as jnana (Hinduism), prajna (Buddhism), ma rifah (Islam), or gnosis (Christianity).
    Roger Walsh ed. “The World’s Great Wisdom: Timeless Teachings from Religions and Philosophies.” State Univ of New York Press, 2014.

   The perennial philosophy, which lies at the heart of the great religions and is increasingly said to represent their deepest thinking, suggests that consciousness is central and its development is the primary goal of existence. This development will culminate in the condition variously known in different traditions as enlightenment, liberation, salvation, moksha, or satori.
    The descriptions of this condition show remarkable similarities across cultures and centuries. Its essence is the recognition that the distortions of our usual state of mind are such that we have been suffering from a case of mistaken identity. Our true nature is something much greater, an aspect of a universal consciousness, Self, Being, Mind, or God. The awakening to this true nature, claimed a Zen master, is ‘the direct awareness that you are more than this puny body or limited mind. Stated negatively, it is the realization that the universe is not external to you. Positively, it is experiencing the universe as yourself.’ 

is the claim by an Englishman that to realize our true identity is to ‘find that the I, one’s real, most intimate self, pervades the universe and all other beings. That the mountains, and the sea, and the stars are a part of one’s body, and that one’s soul is in touch with the souls of all creatures.
are such descriptions the exclusive province of mystics. They have been echoed by philosophers, psychologists, and physicists. ‘Out of my experience … one final conclusion dogmatically emerges,’ said the great American philosopher William James (1960). ‘There is a continuum of cosmic consciousness against which our individuality builds but accidental forces, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea.’
    From this perspective, evolution is a vast journey of growing self-awareness and a return to our true identity. Our current crises are seen as expressions that arise from our mistaken identity. But they can also be seen as self-created challenges that may speed us on our evolutionary journey toward ultimate self-recognition.”
    Roger Walsh. "Human Survival: A Psychoevolutionary Analysis." ReVision 1985; 8: 7-10


    turn your attention inward to the awake silence that you are.” Adyashanti  

Select the 14-minute video "Amoda Maa: Meeting the World as Love"
3rd Row from the Top: 


“Ancient Ones” by Autumn Skye

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Silence & Stillness

    We identify with our thinking mind / self-talk far more than most of us realize. Our society reinforces this idea that we can solve every challenge with our reductive, linear thinking. This is like confidently attempting to fix computer software problems with a trusty old hammer & screwdriver. The more we foolishly argue with reality & remain alienated from our true self, the more we suffer. This is the BULK of human suffering, and is completely AVOIDABLE.

    “We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought.” Eckhart Tolle

Learning to stop thinking sounds a bit paradoxical because usually learning involves thinking. So it’s more like unlearning, because we are conditioned to think continuously. A lot of the time, thinking is not only unnecessary, but also destructive. It cuts you off from the depth of being, of who you are beyond the thinker. The most dreadful limitation for a human being is to know him or herself only as the thinker, with its opinions, beliefs, reactions, and whatever else the mind continuously comes up with. And that cuts you off from that vast dimension of consciousness that is there beyond thinking – not separate from thinking, it makes thinking possible, but it’s deeper than that. And here as we meditate, which is probably not the right word, because it sounds as if we were ‘doing’ something, but we’re not ‘doing’ anything. We’re not ‘doing’ a meditation. But we’re here to realize that, beyond doing, there’s another dimension more vital, that we could call ‘being.’
    And to sense that in yourself, there needs to be at least a gap in the stream of thinking. Even a few seconds is already a slight deepening and a little bit of peace and aliveness, and a little bit of joy, coming through the cracks, so to speak, in what is otherwise a solid wall of thought. But we are here to go beyond that, not just wait for the little cracks to appear occasionally, but to embrace that dimension without which your life is not really that enjoyable. Frustrating in fact, pointless. The continuous worry, upset, anxiety, and complaining – that’s what most peoples’ lives consist of. Maybe yes, the occasional crack is there. Or maybe when they get tired they feel a little bit better because they can’t think anymore, and then they go to sleep. But really, without that deeper dimension, is life worth living? I don’t think so. What for
you think you’ll ever sort out the problems in your life? Never. You sort out one, and another two appear. So there’s nothing more important than this. And realize, when you stop thinking, or thinking subsides, we could say, you essentially are still there as a conscious presence – a still, conscious, aware space. And that still, conscious, aware space needs to be there in daily life, in the background. It doesn’t mean it can only be there when you don’t think. You access it most deeply when thinking subsides. But as you sense it, you realize, even when you think again, it doesn’t go away completely anymore. That conscious aware space can be there even while thinking happens, or while you’re talking to someone, or dealing with things that need to be done. And then you can enjoy life every moment. But the enjoyment doesn’t come from all the things that happen in your life. It comes from a deeper place. And then what happens, or does not happen, is of secondary importance. You’re not dependent on what happens, or is not happening (when you wanted it to happen).
    And then you move through life embodying two dimensions: the dimension of form, which is thinking and doing; and the dimension of formless presence – the conscious aware space. The two are there simultaneously. The conscious aware space interpenetrates, if that’s the word, the world of form. Then perhaps you realize the truth of the ancient Buddhist scripture, one of the most famous sutras, which says, ‘Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.’ Form and formlessness being there as one. [Zen Buddhism refers to this apparent paradox with, ‘Not one. Not two.’]
    And so, it’s not the absolute truth. It’s a way of talking about it. There are two of you, in any moment, in any situation. There’s the person who thinks, and does things, and deals with life situations and people. There’s you as the person. And then there’s the other you as the conscious presence. So you can still deal with things as a person, but behind that, and even within that, there is the aware space. So you become a spacious person, so to speak
who has not realized this dimension within themselves are not spacious. And of course that still applies to many humans. They are, what’s the opposite of spacious? Let’s say they are dense. The density of the person. You can look at anybody that you know, or even strangers when you observe them, when they go about life, how they deal with things, how they interact with people, how they react or respond to changing circumstances, especially when things go wrong, so to speak, by just observing them you can sense and see how dense or how spacious they are. And it’s not a judgment, you just see it, just the same way as you see whether it’s light or dark. You’re not judging when you say, ‘Oh, it’s getting dark.’ It’s not a judgment. You just see it. So you can see it in others. And sometimes so-called people who are into spiritual awakening, even they can sometimes very quickly, when they are challenged by events, become very dense. The spaciousness is lost.
    So your spiritual practice of course, is everyday life. Can you embody the spaciousness in addition to being a person? So you don’t need to achieve perfection as a person. The person will always have certain limitations and shortcomings. And when Jesus said, ‘Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ he doesn’t refer to the world of form, but the deeper perfection – the wholeness that is spacious presence
ancient Greek philosophy, they often use the term ‘the good.’ What is the good? Where is the good? And of course, we know what it is and where it is. The good is not in the world of form. The world of form is good and bad. Nothing stays good for that long. It either disappears, or turns into its opposite. The good is within you, and it is the formless presence – the source of aliveness, joy, identity, the sense of who you are. The source of that is beingness, presence, spacious awareness – I am.
    above from Eckhart
Tolle's EXCELLENT 20min video:

    “There is a light in the core of our being that calls us home – one that can only be seen with closed eyes. We can feel it as a radiance in the center of our chest. This light of loving awareness is always here, regardless of our conditioning. It does not matter how many dark paths we have traveled or how many wounds we have inflicted or sustained as we have unknowingly stumbled toward this inner radiance. It does not matter how long we have sleepwalked, seduced by our desires and fears. This call persists until it is answered, until we surrender to who we really are. When we do, we feel ourselves at home wherever we are. A hidden beauty reveals itself in our ordinary life. As the true nature of our Deep Heart is unveiled, we feel increasingly grateful for no reason – grateful to simply be.”
    John J. Prendergast. “The Deep Heart – Our Portal to Presence.” Sounds True, 

My compassion is not me being a nice guy. My compassion is me realizing who I am and knowing that having a heart of love for all creatures, all beings, even a blade of grass, is true to who and what I am.
    Our whole life and all parts of it, every moment of it, and all of existence is nothing but compassion and love. We don’t need to produce compassion. We already are compassion. All we need to do is wake up to who and what we are, and then naturally, we’re going to have a heart of love not only in actions that appear to be compassionate but all the time: picking up an object with compassion, walking from one room to another with compassion, and, of course, caring for one another with love.”
Norman Fischer

    "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

Helen Hamilton "Before duality, I Am" EXCELLENT first 28min of this video:


Monday, January 16, 2023

The Nearly Unforgivables

    It's hard not to be disgusted & angered by the brutality, criminality, war, hunger, poverty, disease, environmental devastation & suffering throughout the world. And even the most fortunate among us will see everyone & everything we love - ourselves included - change, age, get sick & die. To our usual, "normal" way of thinking these are incomprehensible & unacceptable.

    YET throughout the ages mystics, saints & other deeply spiritual people, and now, more & more ordinary people are awakening to a radically different reality:

      "All shall be well,
      and all shall be well,
      and all manner of things shall be well."
Julian of Norwich (1342–1416) English Christian mystic

    "We are one. And we are each perfect, exactly as we are.Natalie Sudman

     How can we have such dramatically opposing perspectives on the state of our world? Perhaps the most comprehensive, detailed research directly related to answering this question has been carried out by former Oxford professor of literature, now psychiatrist, researcher & author, Iain McGilchrist:
    Attempting to
briefly summarize several thousand pages of McGilchrist's 2 massive books, and many hours of lectures & interviews, is foolish, but here goes
usual way of thinking - what most of us consider common sense ("left-hemisphere perspective" LHP) - is highly goal-oriented towards controlling our external environment for our survival.
far broader & deeper intelligence ("right-hemisphere perspective" RHP) helps us understand, relate to & be appropriate in context of "the big picture," including the most meaningful aspects of what it means to be a human being: love, values, connection, collaboration, nurturing etc. It is best equipped to deal with complexity, context, metaphor, paradox, the arts, etc - all essential when confronting topics such as spirituality & existential angst.
our two major levels of intelligence are both essential, with very different perspectives & competencies: LHP is for linear problem-solving & running practical tasks & procedures to keep us alive; while RHP keeps everything in appropriate perspective of the big picture (our worldview / self-concept / long-term goals). Because LHP has a narrow, task-oriented focus, it can't see any need for RHP's broad perspective; while RHP appreciates many pros & cons of any given task, including LHP's "let's get'er done!" Clearly, both must work in harmony. When only one of these runs the show - eg as seen in major strokes involving either, but especially the right hemisphere - the afflicted person is severely compromised.

man-made ecological/climate disaster is finally forcing us to end this "hyper-rational" phase, where our heavy bias towards LHP was focused on one task: exponential growth in profits. Meanwhile, RHP was almost taboo, so context was completely ignored, devastating the quality of our air, water & soil, and with it the quality of human life, in fact posing an imminent threat to our very existence! It's as if the human race has suffered a devastating right-hemispheric stroke, and is now in the ICU.

    “Albert Einstein called the intuitive or metaphoric mind (RHP) a sacred gift. He added that the rational mind (LHP) was a faithful servant.
    It is paradoxical that in the context of modern life we have begun to worship the servant and defile the divine.” Bob Samples
    Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.” Neils Bohr

    We "Make sense with stories. If you give people facts without a story, they will explain it within their existing belief system. The best way to promote a new or different belief is not with facts, but with a story." 
Dave Gray. “Liminal Thinking. Create the Change You Want by Changing the Way You Think.” Two Waves Books, 2016. 
The Bus Stop Conversation - by Sue Morter
Just imagine you’re going to the bus stop one day, to catch the bus to come to earth, and while you’re there, you strike up a conversation with others at the bus stop. You ask them, 'What are you going to experience when you go in?' And the other person does the same. Somebody else says, 'Well I don’t know, I’ve never been.' 
    And somebody else raises their hand and says, 'I’ve been there before, crazy place, super wild. The last time I left, I accidentally, like coincidentally did this thing that they call "forgiveness," and it felt so amazing, that all this energy just rushed through me, and I let go of all these things that I’d been carrying around forever, and boom, I just had this amazing revelation, and it was over, because I was on my way out. So I’m going back, and I’m going to do that again, but I’m going to do it sooner, and do it bigger. So I’m going back for a level-10 forgiveness, and I can’t wait, because what I felt was amazing, and it’s going to be ten-fold of that.' 
    So another person at the bus stop goes, 'Woah, sounds great! How are you going to do that?' 
    'Well,' the first person answers, 'I guess I’ll have to experience something that’s nearly unforgivable. And then I’m going to live with that, be angry about that & frustrated, compress it inside myself, get down the road & feel the physical effects of that, my health is going to decline, I’ll live this contracted & compressed life, and at some point, I’m going to get sick & tired of being that way. I’m going to reach inside myself and going to find some part of me I didn’t even know I had, some in-depth level of forgiveness, reach down and express it out there, and I’m going to have this huge experience of forgiveness, and get to know a part of myself I never would have known.' 
    So the other people at the bus stop are saying, 'Woah, sounds amazing. How can we help?' 
    And the person says, 'Well somebody’s going to have to do something that’s nearly unforgivable – you know, like drink too much at happy hour, get behind the wheel, cross the center line, hit my car, take my loved ones, cripple me – these kind of things that could have been avoided, it has to be completely wrong, the wrong of wrongs. And so who will help me?'
    And everybody’s, ‘Not me! I don’t want to be that guy! Who wants to be that guy?’ 
    And so the conversation goes on, and the guy says, 'Come on, I bought my bus ticket, here I am, here’s my chance, don’t leave me out.' 
    And so finally, somebody in the back raises their hand and says, 'OK, I can see how much this means to you, I’ll be the one, I’ll be the perpetrator, the one that does these nearly unforgivable things.' 

    So this story can be interpreted in many different ways, in many different peoples’ lives. Invariably when I share this, people are crying, recognizing, ‘Oh my God, the person who abused me’ or ‘The person who abandoned me, actually was the one who finally raised their hand and helped deliver this scenario for me that is going to allow me to reach inside and find maybe a level-10 self-love that I never would have found had I been up against the adverse circumstance, the friction that was created from that dynamic.'"

    Interviewer: “Which is not to say that an abuser can say, ‘I’m doing this for your own good.’

    Sue Morter: "No, so, it’s not that we ask for it in that way. And ultimately that abuser is going to have to take inventory on what they’ve come here to learn. So it might be self-forgiveness, it might be redemption, it might be something along those same lines, that they will have to come to terms with, whether it’s now or whether it’s a few lifetimes later, it does resolve, because that is the way the universe works. It does abhor a vacuum, it wants to fill it, it wants flow & unity, so these kinds of concentrated energies that are unresolved cannot maintain themselves. So we’re here to resolve them consciously on the spiritual path so that we don’t have to pay it out karmically in some kind of unconscious manner, we can resolve that right here with our own awareness and intentions. 
    So the Bus Stop Conversation is to allow this understanding on more of a personal note that there is purpose, that nothing is bigger than us, that we managed it, that we requested it so we could awaken ourselves in certain ways, that we are bigger than these individual circumstances that we are facing in this life.” EXCELLENT interview:

        "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
         Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet, William Shakespeare

    The 2022 movie, "Father Stu" on Amazon Prime, is imho an excellent, powerfully-portrayed true story of a transformative NDE.

Actual example of a Bus Stop type of conversation:
"My Near Death Experience in Iraq - Natalie Sudman"


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Glimpses Beyond the Veil

    We label "fanatics" others who are enthusiastic about experiences we've never enjoyed. We can't imagine ourselves ever doing certain things like them eg climbing Everest, assume we'll never get to experience whatever lures them to extreme adventures, and quickly dismiss it as "madness."
    Early in her fascinating book, Maria Coffey wonders, “Was it possible … that as these adventurers tune into the natural world, they unwittingly open channels to hidden powers and realms of experience that we call mystical and paranormal? That these channels lie dormant in us all, shut down beneath layers of insulation? And that the process of risk-taking strips away that insulation, opening the way to spiritual transcendence?
    … I became increasingly convinced that extreme adventurers break the boundaries of what is deemed physically possible by pushing beyond human consciousness into another realm.
    reaching a spiritual state of being is the principal lure of extreme adventure
Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008.

    There are of course many other, more direct, more efficient & infinitely safer ways ("to the top of the mountain") of reaching spiritual states of being than via extreme sports. One of the wildest danger addicts, Kristen Ulmer - for 12 years was the best female big mountain extreme skier in the world; voted by the outdoor industry as the most extreme 'fearless' woman athlete in North America - finally realized that it didn't make sense to continuously risk her life for something better achieved through well-established spiritual practices, which for her happens to be Zen meditation.

    Kristen Ulmer. “The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead.” Harper Wave, 2018.

    Nevertheless, Coffey's book is inspiring & insightful, filled with heroic yearning & striving often required to pull oneself out from the powerful gravitational pull of comfort & conformity. With apologies to Star Trek, let us boldly read about where few men & women have gone before!:

    “In 1993, Marshall Ulrich was running the Badwater course ("for ultra-marathoners, the toughest race of all"), trying to break his own record. He set out at six pm, watched the sun go down, and carried on running into the night. At some point, around the forty-mile mark, he felt himself leave his body. Suddenly the effort of running was gonefrom above, he watched his lone figure pounding along the road, he could hear his footfall and see his support team waiting at certain stages with food and water. He saw himself eating and drinking as he ran.
    ‘It was like watching myself on a movie screen,’ he says. ‘I lost all sense of time. It could have been only ten minutes that had passed, but then I realized that dawn was coming, the sun was about to rise. I knew it was time to go back into my body.’
    He was reluctant to tell anyone about this, particularly other runners. ‘I was sure they’d think I was nutty.’ Then he met Yiannis Kouros, the legendary, world-record-breaking Greek ultramarathoner, who now lives in Australia. Kouros is unabashed about the spiritual component to his running.
    ‘It is not easy,’ he writes, ‘to grasp what is taking place in the mind and the soul, in the senses and beyond the senses of a runner due to the refusal of the body. Only if the runner achieves his transcendence, and especially in the metaphysical level, he is then able to continue.’
    When he heard Ulrich’s story, he fully understood. And he told him how to get back to that place.
    ‘He said I have to break myself down until there’s nothing leftuntil I transcend the limits of my physical body and enter a new realm of existence.

We must live in the free fall of infinity. Standing at the edge, the heart opens." Thomas Moore

It is often the hardest, most challenging experiences of our lives that crack us open. For some people, these experiences are chosen, or accepted as a consequence of risk-taking. For others – for most of us – they come without warning. Unlikely gifts that rip away our layers of insulation, allowing us glimpses of the mysterious, the ineffable – the infinite realms of human consciousness.

for the finale, Coffey recounts her own dramatic near-death experience (NDE) - her own glimpse 'beyond the veil' past our consentual, mundane, physical reality to the transcendent, helping her grok the insights of extreme adventurers & many, many others.
Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008.

 Short (8min) Oscar-nominated Canadian film "The Flying Sailor" about a real person in Halifax :

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Discretionary Suffering?

    Many today are drowning in a dazzling array of challenges: burn-out from overwork / depression from unemployment; anxiety / boredom; overwhelmed by too many people / desperate loneliness; obesity / hunger; adrift in too much choice from wealth / imprisoned by poverty; etc.
    “The Buddha once spoke of what he called the eight worldly winds. Gain & loss, fame & disgrace, praise & blame, and pleasure & pain spin the world, he said, and the world spins after them
eight winds blow through everyone’s lives, no matter how much we have meditated or how accomplished we have become. They challenge us endlessly: we instinctively recoil from the discomfort they create yet chase after the ego gratification they promise
Buddha suggested that this (our recoiling / chasing reaction) ties us unnecessarily to the vagaries of worldly life. The eight winds come and go ceaselessly; as much as we try to pick and choose among them, it is impossible to have some without the others. While we cannot stop them, with enough foresight we can learn to relate to them differently. Desirable things do not have to beguile the mind, and undesirable ones do not have to bring endless resistance. We can let the winds blow through us instead of letting them buffet us about.” Mark Epstein, “How Meditation Failed Me” Tricycle 2022

    MOST of our suffering is "discretionary" - completely unnecessary according to Buddhism! We CAN: learn to gradually accept even the painful challenges that we can't change eg constant change, aging, sickness & death of even our closest loved ones & ourselves. We CAN: find the energy & courage to change the things we can & should. And we CAN: discover our innate wisdom to know the difference between what we can't change & must accept, and what we can & should change.

    Obtaining relief from the bulk of our suffering (as described above), demands radical acceptance!

    We underestimate & overlook the EXTREME efforts SO MANY make in their FUTILE attempts to escape relentless suffering:
    • An estimated 703,000 people a year take their life around the world. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide
    Overdose deaths remain a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. The majority of overdose deaths involve opioids. 91,799 in the USA in 2020. 3,556 in Canada, between January & June of 2022 - approximately 20 deaths per day.
            Psychologists estimate that the prevalence of work addiction in Americans is 10%. Other estimates that range from 15–25% may include people who are committed workers rather than those who have a true addiction to work. Jun 3, 2022
            Chronic phone use is a recently developed form of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association does not officially recognize the condition. Still, it is acknowledged as a behavioral addiction by many medical professionals and researchers worldwide. According to several studies, over time, the devoted use of smartphones can alter and negatively impact an individual much like gambling. The devices are carefully designed to be hard to put down. Through its colors, sounds, & vibrations, the technology purposely keeps its users engaged. According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, features like “pull to refresh” were inspired by slot machines & other casino games. Designers & engineers meticulously develop every aspect of the device to create fanatical users.
            Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem. The most recent research estimates that 6 to 9 percent of young people and young adults experience problems related to gambling -- a higher rate than among adults.
            About 10% of all adults admit to having an addiction to sexual content on the internet. This includes 17% of women. Officially, however, about 200,000 Americans meet the classification of porn addiction. Sep 13, 2022
            More than 5% of the population may suffer from food addiction, according to one study. Foods full of fat and sugar can supercharge the brain’s reward system similarly to the way addictive drugs do. They can override the brain’s normal ability to tell an individual to stop eating. When this happens, a person may want to eat more and more.
            Hoarding disorder is now a medically recognized mental health disorder and one which can be greatly affected by addiction. The overall prevalence of hoarding disorder is approximately 2.6%, with higher rates for people over 60 years old and people with other psychiatric diagnoses, especially anxiety and depression.
            More than 3 billion people play video games globally, including 214 million in the U.S. The World Health Organization reports that up to 3% of people who play video games have a video game addiction.
            Some extreme adventurers readily admit to being addicted to their very dangerous sports: "Something larger than you takes over. It’s mysterious and inexplicable. You need to go out there again and again to find it.”
Maria Coffey (see below)

    Regarding the use of the term "addiction," one psychiatrist who specialized in treating addictions for over 25 years wrote that there's only a quantitative difference between those addicted to substances and the average person's clinging to the momentum of their sleep-walking life - ie most of us resist living a more consciously evolving life. Gerald May. "Addiction and Grace. Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions." HarperCollins, 1988.
    Even more pointedly, neuroscientist & professor of developmental psychology Mark Lewis PhD, argues that addiction is not a disease, but results from the motivated repetition of the same thoughts & behaviors until they become habitual.

    "similarly to my alcoholism and addiction, I view depression and anxiety as the inevitable result of a consciousness that doesn't take time to turn inward & listen to what needs acceptance. My sanity, like my sobriety, is a daily reprieve born of effort & diligence, rather than a birthright. And, quite frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way." Josh Korda 

    Former world champion extreme skier, Kristen Ulmer, teaches her workshop participants “to breathe in their fear and breathe out the possibility of ever getting rid of it.
    ‘As humans we have these disowned voices. For years I completely disowned fear; it was not going to help me accomplish being the best woman skier in the world. No fear, no fear – it was like having this screaming child in the basement desperate to get out. At some point it’s going to start tearing you apart
when you embrace your fear [AND other parts of your "shadow"] can your fear relax. It’s like a child that needs to be listened to. Once it’s listened to, it calms down.’”
    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008. FANTASTIC imho


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



Sunday, January 1, 2023

Gradual AND Sudden

    VERY serious, DEEPLY committed spiritual seekers, Bill & Susan Morgan, who've spent a good chunk of their lives meditating, including a 3-year silent meditation retreat at the wonderful Forest Refuge (in Barre MA), and who a week ago returned from a 1-year silent meditation retreat, shared some of their insights last night with over a hundred folks who gathered around them for a New Year's online sitting.  
    Bill shared that he had always gone on retreats planning to have the BIG awakening experience - by which he meant the final, once & for all, complete enlightenment, where suddenly, he would be completely transformed forever.  
    But that has not been his experience, and it's certainly not for lack of interest, know-how or effort. Interestingly, and this is important for all of us, Bill & Susan have come to realize that focusing on the goal of an earth-shattering experience can easily overshadow the many, small but meaningful insights we all invariably have on this journey. So while most of us will not experience sudden mind-blowing fireworks, we WILL gradually experience deeper & more abiding levels of calm, peace & gratitude. And this is wonderful!

    Society's present focus is overly self-centered - survival & "success" of our self & closest loved one(s) first & foremost. So it's very counter-culturalcounter-intuitive to shift from striving to achieve a sudden dramatic personal goal and to instead, recognize & value calm, peace, gratitude, equanimity, stillness, silence, interbeing, spaciousness & intimacy with ALL. Even within Buddhism, and some other spiritual disciplines, there is debate over sudden vs gradual awakening (though there is general agreement about the life-long necessity to skillfully integrate spiritual insights into one's daily life).

self-care & self-compassion are important parts of life, in context of the BIG picture, which includes everyone & all else.
Our talent for division, for seeing the parts, is of staggering importance – second only to our capacity to transcend it, in order to see the whole.

    “As we travel through life, we are all seekers
     after something larger than ourselves…” Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer PhD

    “The inexorable yearning for something beyond the mundane or the explainable runs deep in the human psyche. It arises from an urge to find meaning in existence, for something bigger than ourselves. It also comes from a need to belong, to experience life in terms of a harmonious interaction – with others, with nature, with God, with the universe. An interaction that was once part of the human condition.
    In hunter-gatherer societies, religious belief was always linked to nature. Facing constant danger, people sought ways to live in harmony with the unpredictable environment by worshiping the earth, its elements, its wild animals. Life was shot through with spirituality. And the powers of ESP, or psi – contact with the dead, premonition, telepathy, astral travel – were accepted as an essential part of man’s interconnection with nature.”

    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008.

“We clasp the hands of those who go before us,
and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,
and the larger circle of lovers
whose hands are joined in a dance,
and the larger circle of all creatures,
passing in and out of life,
who move also in a dance,
to a music so subtle and vast
that no one hears it except in fragments.” Wendell Berry, “Healing”

“We consist of and are sustained by interweaving currents of matter, energy, and information that flow through us interconnecting us with our environment and other beings.
Yet, we are accustomed to identifying ourselves only with that small arc of the flow – though that is lit, like the narrow beam of a flashlight, by our individual subjective awareness.
But we don’t have to so limit our self–perceptions ...
It is as plausible to align our identity with the larger pattern, interexistent with all beings, as to break off one segment
of the process and build our borders there.”
Joanna Macy

     Join Bill & Susan Morgan for their daily sit starting Monday, Jan 2, 2023 :