Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Go Deeper

    My sincere apologies - a software glitch (April 4, 2023) erased most of this post. The first and hopefully the last of such glitches.

    What remained was not worth keeping. Sorry. NOTHING lasts!



Thursday, March 23, 2023

Technologies of the Sacred

“The mystery, the essence of all life
is not separate from the silent openness
of simple listening.”

Toni Packer

    "Awe gives you this big picture, it makes you open up, it makes you creative, it makes you think outside of the box — everything we need in doing good work." Dacher Keltner PhD

     "Fear, suffering, and focus … enable adventurers to release hidden powers and access other realms of experiences. … extreme adventure is not only a spiritual search, but also a spiritual tool. And it is the same for all of us, adventurers or not. The hardest, most challenging experiences of our lives can enrich our existence, revealing our true identity, awakening us to a greater awareness of our own potential, and opening us to the infinite beauty of the universe.”
    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.

    “The importance of non-ordinary states of consciousness for ancient and aboriginal cultures is reflected in the amount of time and energy that the members of these human groups dedicated to the development of technologies of the sacred, various procedures capable of inducing them for ritual and spiritual purposes. These methods combine in various ways drumming and other forms of percussion, music, chanting, rhythmic dancing, changes of breathing, and cultivation of special forms of awareness. Extended social and sensory isolation, such as a stay in a cave, desert, arctic ice, or in high mountains, also play an important role as means of inducing this category of non-ordinary states. Extreme physiological interventions used for this purpose include fasting, sleep deprivation, dehydration, use of powerful laxatives and purgatives, and even infliction of severe pain, body mutilation, and massive bloodletting. By far the most effective tool for inducing healing and transformative non-ordinary states has been ritual use of psychedelic plants.
    Mainstream psychiatrists initially dismissed and even ridiculed native ritual events as products of primitive superstition based on ignorance and magical thinking. They relegated non-ordinary states of consciousness of any kind into the domain of psychopathology. This situation gradually changed in the course of the twentieth century, particularly in its second half, when Western scientists actually made some major contributions to the armamentarium of the technologies of the sacred. Clinical and experimental psychiatrists and psychologists had the opportunity to acquire firsthand experience with chemically pure psychedelic substances and with a variety of laboratory mind-altering procedures from sensory deprivation to biofeedback. They also witnessed the effect of non-ordinary states of consciousness in various forms of experiential therapeutic techniques using breathwork and bodywork, such as neo-Reichian approaches, Rebirthing, and Holotropic Breathwork. Those open-minded enough to take on the challenge of these revolutionary tools thus had a chance to discover their power and their great therapeutic potential.
    When we recognized the unique nature of this category of non-ordinary states of consciousness, we found it difficult to believe that contemporary psychiatry does not have a specific category and term for these theoretically and practically important experiences. Because we felt strongly that they deserve to be distinguished from altered states of consciousness and not be seen as manifestations of serious mental diseases, we started referring to them as holotropic. This composite word means literally ‘oriented toward wholeness’ or ‘moving toward wholeness.’
    The name holotropic suggests something that might come as a surprise to an average Westerner – that in our everyday state of consciousness we identify with only a small fraction of who we really are and do not experience the full extent of our being. Holotropic states of consciousness have the potential to help us recognize that we are not ‘skin-encapsulated egos’ – as British philosopher and writer Alan Watts called it – and that, in the last analysis, we are commensurate with the cosmic creative principle itself. Or that – using the statement by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French paleontologist and philosopher – ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having human experiences.’
    This astonishing idea is not new. In the ancient Indian Upanishads, the answer to the question ‘Who am I?’ is ‘Tat tvam asi.’ This succinct Sanskrit sentence means literally: ‘Thou art That,’ or ‘You are Godhead.’ It suggests that we are not namarupa – name and form (body/ego), but that our deepest identity is with a divine spark in our innermost being (Atman) that is ultimately identical with the supreme universal principle (Brahman). And Hinduism is not the only religion that has made this discovery. The revelation concerning the identity of the individual with the divine is the ultimate secret that lies at the mystical core of all great spiritual traditions. The name for this principle could thus be the Tao, Buddha, Cosmic Christ, Allah, Great Spirit, Sila, and many others. Holotropic experiences have the potential to help us discover our true identity and our cosmic status.

    Stanislav Grof, Christina Grof. “Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy.” State University of New York Press, 2010. 

    Psychiatrist Stan Grof (above) spent 50 years doing pioneering research on the use of entheogenic plant medicines (ayahuasca, psilocybin, peyote, etc.) and Holotropic Breathwork. Holotropic Breathwork, which uses circular breathing, music & bodywork, harnesses the intrinsic healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Grof's book explores the healing, transformative, & evolutionary potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness accessed through Holotropic Breathwork, and their great value as a source of new revolutionary data about consciousness, the human psyche, and the nature of reality

    One-day, experiential courses :


Saturday, March 11, 2023

What Does It Take?

Are we ready to lose EVERYTHING we can think of?
Yet it's only a matter of time that we DO.
So how do we BEST PREPARE?

      "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live." Marcus Aurelius

     Many teachers have said that "meditation is learning to die before dying." In deep meditation we intentionally undergo "ego death" ie letting go of the "small self" - the reductionist model of who / what we imagined we were.

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

Nisargadatta Maharaj

    Without being mindful of death, whatever Dharma practices you take up will be merely superficial.” Milarepa, The One Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa


    During general anaesthesia for an operation, "I was just going through the feeling of the essence of loss of control, and tears washed down my face when I had to think about it. That this is the essence of dying, to just let go, to dive down without any ground under your feet. That this is to step out of control, like in death. If we let go of the rational control over our own consciousness, we can get somewhere that forms us and that also forms the universe. I acknowledge that this is, in my opinion, a very important state of mind, a very important process for us all.”  Beate M's Near-Death Experience:


    "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matt. 27 Verses 45-46, Bible, King James Version 


    "And here I would advise a sort of intellectual humility. Near-death experiences are obviously deeply mysterious. Death has always been viewed as something holy by religions because it is deeply mysterious. Near-death experiences suggest at least that death isn’t just a flame of life that is slowly burning down, but that it is once again a phase of life that is of extreme importance for life as a whole. Even if you can’t see any of this from the outside, but for the ones who live through this process of dying from the inside, it is of extreme importance and a moment of clarity of the consciousness.” Near-Death Experiences and the Mysteries of Consciousness - Godehard Brüntrup in Conversation :

     "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." Marie Curie

      "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." Joseph Campbell

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

Rabia Basri

    "On the day her first book came out ― a new translation of 'Dark Night of the Soul' by Saint John of the Cross ― Mirabai Starr’s daughter, Jenny, was killed in a car accident. 'My spiritual life began the day my daughter died,' writes Mirabai. Even with decades of spiritual practice and a deep immersion in the greatest mystical texts, she found herself utterly unprepared for 'my most powerful catalyst for transformation, my fiercest and most compassionate teacher.'" Mirabai Starr "Caravan of No Despair : A Memoir of Loss and Transformation." Sounds True, 2015.

"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

    “So long as one is merely on the surface of things, they are always imperfect, unsatisfactory, incomplete. Penetrate into the substance and everything is perfect, complete, whole.” Philip Kapleau “The Zen of Living and Dying. A Practical and Spiritual Guide.” Shambhala, 1998.

    “I have watched people choose growth over fear as they navigated some of life’s most difficult transitions. I have seen how it is possible to approach the challenges of real life with openness & optimism – even with wisdom & joy.” Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow.” Villard, 2005. POWERFUL BOOK!

    Rapture is not a selfish emotion. It is pure gratitude, flowing freely through the body, heart, and soul. Gratitude for what? For breath, for colors, for music, for friendship, humor, weather, sleep, awareness. It is a willing engagement with the whole messy miracle of life.” Elizabeth Lesser. “Broken Open. How Difficult Times Can Help us Grow.” Villard, 2005.

    "I just had to keep going, even though the cockpit was shaking mightily just before breaking the sound barrier." Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager, first pilot to break the sound barrier

    On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.” Gregory S. Williams

All of our days,
a single drop of dew
from a slender leaf.

Chris Thorsen

    You needn’t worry about anything because this isn’t your real home. It’s just a temporary shelter. Everything there is, is preparing to disappear. If you look at it like that, your heart will be at ease.” Ajahn Chah, “Our Real Home” 

    Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute & passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love.” Rainer Maria Rilke

    Especially if you fear death - and most of us do - I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful book - you will feel much better about death AND about life!: Bruce Greyson. “After. A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” St. Martin’s, 2021.

    "The more you understand, the more you love; the more you
love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes!’ to your adventure.” Joseph Campbell

 Bill Hicks, 1992 - "It's Just A Ride"
all over in 2 minutes :-) ! )

Friday, March 10, 2023

Of Two Minds

     Many are 'of two minds' about spirituality, awakening - actually about anything that involves stillness, silence, and meaningful depth. Many quickly label these: 'too serious,' 'depressing,' 'too deep,' 'too confusing,' 'unscientific,' 'an individual matter,' etc - whatever it takes to quickly change the subject to 'something lighter.' While these comments might be age-appropriate for teens, they are as likely to be voiced these days by those in their 70s

    “In the lives of children & adults, there is often little time and encouragement to be still and feel the deeper currents within & without. Our lives are shallower as a result."
    Tobin Hart. “The Secret Spiritual World of Children: The Breakthrough Discovery that Profoundly Alters our Conventional View of Children’s Mystical Experiences.” New World Library, 2003. POWERFUL BOOK imho

    Our strikingly shallow, materialist culture is driven by the endless, restless cycle of working & shopping, working & shopping... Stopping, or just slowing down to get our bearings, asking ourselves meaningful human questions: Who am I? What is life about? - in the short term - is BAD FOR BUSINESS! And sadly, materialist culture is itself SHORT TERM - unsustainable, as we're finally starting to notice.
time to pay very close attention to humanity's wisdom traditions (& far less attention to ads & frenzied shopping).

    "Compassion and love are not a luxury; they are essential to our existence. Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. We must learn to work not just for our own self, family, or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind." Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

    "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Antoinne de Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince"

    "In the midst of a conflict or frustration, in the middle of a hurried day, or as a regular ‘tune-in,’ you and I, and our children, too, can get a look from the heart by simply sitting quietly for a few moments, taking a deep breath, and gently bringing awareness to the area of the chest. There is often a felt shift involving a sense of tenderness, spaciousness, slowing down, and settling in. This process can change the scene that is in front of us or the one that is spinning in our mind. Few activities are so simple and powerfully beneficial, but so infrequently practiced.” Tobin Hart (from his book above)


    changing a habitual way of being is a huge challenge. Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is calm. Rome wasn’t built with twigs; calm isn’t built with tips. It’s not that we can’t help ourselves: We can learn to maintain calm, to roll with change when change rolls in. We just have to acknowledge, even honor, the scale of the adventure before us. It requires nothing less than … allowing the mind to be rewired by mind training — by meditation. It untangles us. Gradually it replaces ancient patterned reactions with fresh & appropriate responses. This is why it’s called practice. It takes time and effort, but to an amazing extent we find ourselves helped.
    Practice changes our relationship to what would otherwise be upsetting. Facing change, we see how futile and painful it is to try to hold on to what is passing — which is everything. Compassion washes in with a kinder, truer understanding of why people do what they do (and that includes you). Things seem simpler, easier.
    The self-help mentality is a matter of shopping, accumulating tips. We don’t have to go shopping. We just need to sit back and let practice work on us. We don’t need tips; we need patience, we need equanimity. How to develop these qualities? I have a great tip for you: Meditate! Start now, continue forever!Amy Gross


“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep!

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!

People are going back & forth across the doorsill
where the two wolds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep!”

Jelaluddin Rumi -  The Breeze at Dawn


Thursday, March 2, 2023


Some remember & dramatically experience life as INFINITELY MORE than our tiny little concepts can possibly hold, as they AWAKEN, opening up to REALITY.
our ordinary mind (ego, left hemisphere) tries hard to convince us that it knows & can (or some day will) control everything. This ("promissory materialism") has slowly transformed into a secular belief system ("scientism") with much of the hubris, dogmatism & intolerance associated with theistic "religious exclusivism."
    Actual scientists
are usually surprisingly humble. The world's foremost expert in a very small area of knowledge, when asked about it will usually start by saying, "I don't know. There are four main hypotheses about this," then go on to succinctly summarize these, say that her team is investigating one of these, then finish by saying, "I don't know." This is a top expert truthfully expressing the humble limits of ordinary human knowledge - even about relatively simple "physical matter" we can all see & touch!
    “One of the key spiritual adventures of the last hundred years (is) that of fusing together the best of the Western philosophical & mystery traditions with the highest understanding of unity & divine identity of the East. This is an adventure that many of us believe provides the fuel for the next evolutionary stage of humanity and for the birth of a universal mysticism that can lead to a wholescale transformation of all forms of earth life.
Harvey, preface to Hermann Hesse. “The Seasons of the Soul: The Poetic Guidance and Spiritual Wisdom of Hermann Hesse.” North Atlantic Books, 2011.

    “To me a mystic is someone who is really after facts. And to me someone who really sincerely is after the facts, becomes a mystic sooner or later. Often people will say to me, ‘Oh I feel skeptical.’ And I say, ‘Wonderful, but be skeptical about your skepticism! And keep on being skeptical. Go all the way with your skepticism. Go right to the end, because when you come to the end, then there is the inner reality.”

    Peter Kingsley interviewed by
Adyashanti :

    "... among the earliest Greek philosophers were people who couldn’t have been more different, or more distant, from the curious & simple-minded rationalists they are made out in the West to be. They were extraordinarily powerful mystics who had the spiritual methods & meditation techniques needed not only to bring people to reality but to bring entire cultures into being."
    Peter Kingsley “A Book of Life.” Catafalque Press, 2021. POWERFUL BOOK
"We are stars wrapped in skin.
The light you are seeking
has always been within.” Rumi

    If we're being honest, most of us are far less open-minded than we claim or perhaps would like to be. We instinctively grip unexamined dogmas - religious or secular - like those drowning grip bits debris knowing that these won't help.

A Cup of Tea
, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

    The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’
    ‘Like this cup,’ Nan-in said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?’
    “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” compiled by Paul Reps, Anchor Books, 1961.

    “We have our outer lives with their bumps & smoothnesses. Then we have our inner lives with their threads along which we guide and help, are helped and guided – the ties of love, the delicate threads that link and bind us.
    But behind our inner lives is the secret that lies hidden even from ourselves: the life that connects us straight to the root of our being.

    If something bursts in from another reality, that’s a regrettable embarrassment to recover from as quickly as possible; to rationalize away with our skillful choice of labels and words so we can keep clinging to the thread of what’s most familiar by breaking the thread of the sacred.
    And, of course, this is a problem for everyone without exception because we all need continuity so we at least can seem to function. But even those of us who think we’re most awake are so easily lulled asleep by the sweet lullaby of routine – never quite able to take the next steps 

    ... wisdom doesn’t come from building clever structures or thinking things up. It comes from being ground down, because the only way to get to the truth is to let yourself be cracked open so that the truth can get to you.
    Peter Kingsley “A Book of Life.” Catafalque Press, 2021.

    Contemplatives & mystics often point to the critical turning point in their practice when they finally, often (but not always) after utterly exhausting themselves through heroic efforts, they completely gave up the DIY project - when they finally "surrendered," "got out of my own way" or experienced "ego death." THIS is when we break through from the common shared self-concept / worldview "consentual reality" to what is real - "ultimate reality."

Surrender is the letting go & peeling away of identity or beliefs. In that process of letting go or peeling away, there’s a deeper relaxing that happens inside the body & nervous system. Surrender is a deep, deep relaxing of everything, acceptance of things in the moment - not adding to it, this feeling of deep resting. Sometimes, when things get really, really difficult, when you really don’t know what to do, and you’ve meditated and, you’re just really stuck, then there’s a deep resting, and I might call it surrender that you can do, but it has to be very real. It can’t be, ‘Well, now I’ll try the surrender thing.’ So you might say, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ You might even ask for help. And you don’t even know what you’re asking help from. It’s better if you don’t know. You’re not asking of anything in particular, you’re just saying, I need help. I don’t know what to do.’ As soon as that is real, you have let go, you’ve surrendered. And you’re not trying so hard, not working so hard, and you’re not frustrated with it. And so it’s in that, ‘I just don’t know.’ This surrender really is an acceptance of everything just as it is. And you don’t know what to do next.” Lissa Friedman interview:

    I HIGHLY recommend listening to this 2-minute talk by Bill Hicks:  


LISTEN to "Joyride" (below):