Monday, December 18, 2023

A New Relationship

    “The loss of a relationship is not the same as the loss of a life. Suffering a sudden betrayal is not the same as dying from heart failure. Yet both can teach us how to cultivate a new relationship to surrender and acceptance.” Sunita Puri MD

    “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ' ” 

    Betrayal by the Divine, Nature, Source, God, the Force, Ultimate Reality; by a human being we love dearly; or even by a pet that 'suddenly turns on us,' is perhaps the ultimate shock to the system. Even the death of a loved one is a kind of betrayal. Even dropping & breaking something we've worked so hard to make for someone else is a kind of betrayal. We assume that if we're doing good, surely then the Force is with us. Nope, not necessarily.
is constantly reminding us who we already ARE - to BE who we are, have always been & will be, and not to be so busy trying to do more, trying to become someone else, to go somewhere else.
resist hard truths. To the extent we attempt to resist reality, we suffer needlessly. We demand not 'a spoonful of sugar' to make the medicine go down, but gallons of syrup. In the 1992 movie "A Few Good Men" Jack Nicholson's character famously yells, 'You can't handle the truth!'

    In the 2016 movie, "The Dreamseller" (Netflix) the main character, once a workaholic billionaire who prioritized his business over his wife & young daughter, sees his wife & daughter perish when his private jet explodes. At the same time, he loses his business empire when his best friend & colleague betrays him. These events completely transform him - which many see as 'madness.' He now understands that true success is attaining what money can't buy. 

      Spiritual maturation or evolution or 'pulling up our big boy pants' involves a new relationship with reality. Aging involves losing EVERYTHING we've worked so hard all our lives to learn, master, accumulate, depend upon etc.
we must learn to accept loss after loss, after loss, till we have no thing left to lose - the material evaporates - ONLY THEN the Mystery!

Leonard Cohen - Anthem

Friday, December 15, 2023

Release, Be and Share!

    OK, here's a major problem alluded to in the Tower of Babel story in the bible. What makes 'perfect sense' to each one of us differs! What constitutes rational thinking, speech & behavior is unique to each individual - we speak different languages, we're 'on different wavelengths.' And THAT is because of our unique personal histories, different traumas experienced, which in turn give rise to an array of different defenses (armoring) & preferences, neuroses etc. So what each of us sees is not the world as it is, but essentially a cartoon of our personal psychological 'baggage' or 'personality.' BUT, because we all do the best we can to survive, each of us is quite certain that WE see perfectly clearly, while others (especially those weird mystics!) need glasses or are blind.

    “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin

    THIS is why, on rare occasions, when we briefly drop all our defences & neuroses and are momentarily our true Self, we perceive the world accurately, as it really is, everything, including the most mundane things, so amazingly bright, glowingly beautiful, other-worldly & unforgettable. Perhaps this is how we experience everything - for a while - as newborns.

    “Many people have intimations of their true nature in childhood – the sense of a benevolent presence guiding their life, a radiance that shines forth from all things, or a current of love that unites us all. …
    But we lose touch with this luminosity as we age … we forget who we really are and succumb to the way others see us
adulthood we've more or less forgotten who we truly are, and have passively absorbed the current cultural fad of being frozen in the armor of materialism, meaninglessness & cynicism. Not surprisingly, something in all of us 'continues to weep over the barrenness of modern life.'"
    Stephan Bodian. “Wake Up Now. A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening.” McGraw-Hill, 2008.

    Humanity now faces crises on multiple fronts: climate, pollution, wars, 'ethnic cleansing,' over-population, economic, addictions, colonialism, many forms of xenophobia (eg patriarchy, misogyny, racism, religious exclusivism, etc), loneliness, meaninglessness & spiritual. Our left-hemisphere-dominant society, 'frozen in the armor of materialism, meaninglessness & cynicism,' created & exacerbates this dystopia. This ancient part of the brain that we share with reptiles is ONLY concerned with personal & tribal survival / supremacy - 'my tribe (color, 'religion' & politics), right or wrong' - the 'partisanship' paralyzing the US. This narrow, primitive level of thinking & behaving, while essential & useful mainly in emergencies, short-term, is - much like the caveman-like leaders we tend to elect in times of war - is NOT capable of nurturing all that is deeply meaningful & valued so human beings can evolve & flourish.

    Einstein long ago warned that we cannot get out of this mess using the same level of thinking that got us into it.

    “We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life.” Edward O. Wilson

    "Wisdom comes when we live from the heart. It’s the recognition that love is the only power that is moving any of this." Jac O’Keeffe

        “There are only two ways to live your life.
         One is as though nothing is a miracle.
         The other is as though
         everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein

    Michael Singer does a wonderful job illustrating how the evolution of the cosmos is equally miraculously wonderful from a scientific and spiritual perspective: Michael A. Singer “Living Untethered: Beyond the Human Predicament” Sounds True, 2022. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

        "The Great Way is not difficult
         for those who have no preferences..."

    Much of our 'self-talk' is repeatedly telling ourselves, 'I like this - I have to have it' or 'I don't like this - I don't want it.' This unconscious brainwashing creates a false small self made up for meaningless likes & dislikes ie 'preferences.' Most of us are so used to the burden of our 'psychological baggage' - a big part of which are 'preferences,'  that we actually mistake it for who we are. No wonder low self-esteem is rampant! Psychotherapy helps us let go of 'psychological baggage.' 

    In this same book, Singer recommends practicing intentionally letting go of our 'preferences.' Instead, he advises that we accept*** everything we encounter, and do our best to nurture ourselves & others helping us to flourish, with no personal gain in mind. Again, it's a very wise, helpful book.
    ***Acceptance – “open to seeing & acknowledging things as they are in the present moment; acceptance does not mean passivity nor resignation, rather a clearer understanding of the present so one can more effectively respond.”
    Shapiro SL, Schwartz GE. “Intentional Systemic Mindfulness: an Integrative Model for Self-regulation and Health.” Adv Mind Body Med 2000; 16(2): 128-34.
    Everything, even things that terrify us, such as death – our own & that of our loved ones – is best dealt with in a friendly, open mind & hearted way. If we “lean into” (rather than keep avoiding) even such scary things with curiosity, self-compassion & acceptance, at our own pace & possibly with expert guidance, we benefit greatly in the long run!

    "The light within you, when resolutely recognized in all circumstances, has the capacity to embrace everything. This uncompromising acceptance is, in fact, your true nature." Amoda Maa

    Mystics & saints operate from a qualitatively higher level of consciousness, able to directly experience ultimate reality. Such wise elders repeatedly tell us something that drives many 'bat-shit-crazy' angry: "Everything is perfect just the way it is." Of course our reptilian level of mind cannot cope with paradox & helplessness in the face of our own (& everyone) suffering, that we (& everyone) age, get sick & die, AND that we can't fix it. After all, the small self is exclusively about controlling so as to survive!
dealing with TWO qualitatively different LEVELS of reality - consensual, every-day, shallow, relative reality of the small self, AND ultimate reality of the true Self. Our usual level of thinking cannot make any sense of ultimate reality because our psychological baggage and energies are focused almost exclusively on survival & thriving on the material plane of existence, the noisy, stressful busyness of which veils or hides the much more subtle, peaceful ultimate reality.

    “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.

     HOWEVER, when we learn to accept the laws of Nature (which like gravity, are impersonal ie have nothing to do with our individual preferences), and learn to be curious & grateful about EVERYTHING, we eliminate all unnecessary suffering and discover that life is filled with joy rather than 'ordinary unhappiness.'

     "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

    "I would’ve claimed to be pretty awake prior to the cancer diagnosis. I’m much more awake now. There’s no reason that we can’t all wake up. That’s the overarching message that I want to broadcast is ‘Join me in the celebration, the appreciation of this miracle that we all find ourselves in.’ ” Roland Griffiths PhD

    “The whole point of spiritual practice is to discover that we’re already good enough. That we don’t have to prove a thing. That’s the fundamental purpose of all spiritual practice."
Henry Shukman

    By giving up our attachments (preferences) in life, we open ourselves up to more opportunities, more spontaneity, and more chances to cultivate deeper connections with others.” Lama Tsomo

    “If you abide in this state of acceptance, you create no more negativity, no more suffering, no more unhappiness. You then live in a state of nonresistance, a state of grace and lightness, free of struggle.”
Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now”

    Many of us spend a large portion of our short & precious life, bitterly unaware that we're all honeybees swimming in a cosmos of honey.
bitter distraction is wanting some experiences & wanting to avoid others. We take our preferences dead seriously, actually believing that a cocktail of neuroses is our actual identity. And because of this common delusion, we forget who we truly are.
not taking preferences seriously, and instead, engaging intimately with all that we're presented with, a QUALITATIVE SHIFT occurs: the veil lifts, and we embody our true self - Self, the One Source of honey AND see that every One is swimming in honey. At this level, we DO see things as they are, AND as WE are!

RELEASE more & more unnecessary suffering, BE your Self, and SHARE your nurturing presence!


24 Brand New Hours! - by Molly Hahn

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Power Tolerance

    Ultimately, we know that matter, including our own body, is a form or expression of energy. Each of us operates at, and thus is able to safely handle, benefit from, understand & resonate with, a specific level of energy or power. Too far above one's level feels unpleasant, disorienting, dangerous; too far below feels uninteresting, has little benefit. And the power or energy level at which each of us operates is somewhere along the spectrum, from brutishly greedy & destructive, to sublimely nurturing & creative.
    Spiritual evolution appears aimed towards progressively increasing our vibrational energy, ultimately to perfect harmony with the Divine nurturing, creative source.

    There are some who, for example, dogmatically believe that the earth is flat; that science is just one of many conspiracies of the intellectual elite, etc. Most of us (in a generous moment) would consider such beliefs to be caused by lack of education, resulting in scientific naivete.

    "Knowledge is power" has long been the mantra for those hoping to get rich & powerful ASAP. Materialism is exclusively concerned with this base level of knowledge. According to materialism, nothing exists beyond the physical. Again according to materialism, the spiritual or metaphysical are nothing more than irrational wishes like children's belief in Santa Clause. 
    So many materialists dogmatically believe that if something can't be measured / counted, then it can't exist, can't be 'real.' Not only spirituality, but all the other most meaningful aspects of life fit this category: love, empathy, generosity, beauty, inspiration, creativity, all of the arts, etc. No problem, because materialists consider life itself to be completely meaningless. Many of us simply have not had any education in even the social sciences, never mind spiritual matters, so our society as a whole, lacks basic knowledge & understanding in these fundamentally important matters - we are stunningly naive spiritually
    Scientism's dogmatic exclusivist claim (if science can't prove it's existence, then it doesn't & can't exist. Anyone who says otherwise is childish, irrational, or delusional.) is a reaction to theistic religions' equally problematic dogmatic claims of religious exclusivism (every religious sect asserting exclusive claims on their one & only true 'God.' All other 'Gods' being labelled heretical, wrong, evil).  
    Legitimate science has nothing to do with dogma. Spirituality has nothing to do with dogma or religious exclusivism. Science clearly has a very important role to help us survive in comfort & safety. Spirituality is crucially important, allowing us to understand our true nature, the meaning of life, and how to live together in love & harmony.
    BOTH science & spirituality are absolutely necessary for a wholesome, healthy, balanced life

    Our almost exclusive reliance on the left hemisphere's narrow materialistic perspective, while disparaging the broadly inclusive perspective of the right hemisphere of our brain is our present global blind spot & the ultimate cause of our present global crises, that Iain McGilchrist has researched, written & spoken about most intelligently & eloquently:
    Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.” Omar N. Bradley, General US Army

    “Although the final breakthrough is not in our power, yet we move toward this end when we strive for the open mind. Striving for this objectivity is a difficult movement, it means leaving behind mental constructs & security blankets that, until now, we never knew we had… I know of no other path than that of the open mind which leads to this end.”
Bernadette Roberts, “The Path to No Self”

     Many are only capable of resonating with their own sect which is personally & tribally self-serving ("spiritual materialism"). We build up a lot of creds in our tribe over a lifetime. So thinking & especially speaking & behaving outside of our tribe's narrow little box requires a lot of strength & bravery. One identifies with & depends more than one realizes on one's public persona: 'respected church elder,' 'respected man of science,' 'secular atheist cynic,' etc. The thought of being being excluded from & shunned by one's tribe, being labelled 'heretic,' 'fallen' or 'irrational,' 'soft in the head' or 'senile' is often considered too high a price to pay for becoming authentic - true to oneself.

    Mystics & rapidly increasing numbers of spiritually-independent seekers of Truth  - like Rami Shapiro - are sufficiently open mind-hearted to clearly see what mystics of all traditions & ages have been pointing to.
    “A Judaism without tribalism accepts as true only those Torah teachings that promote justice & compassion. Everything else we understand to be the pronouncements of tribal leaders in search of (self-serving) power.
    Both, however, are worthy of study. We study the Torah of justice & compassion to see the best that we are capable of. We study the Torah of power to see the worst.”

    Rami Shapiro. “Judaism Without Tribalism: A Guide to Being a Blessing to All the Peoples of the Earth” Monkfish, 2022.

    "Once we have died to the false self, we have a hope of getting out of our own way and meeting the Holy One face to face.”
    Mirabai Starr. “Caravan of No Despair. A Memoir of Loss and Transformation.” Sounds True, 2015.


Within each of us, in the ground of our being, powers reside for the healing of our world. These powers do not arise from any ideology, access to the occult, or passion for social activism. They are inevitable powers.
Because we are part of the web of life,
we can draw on the strength — and the pain — of every creature.
This interconnection constitutes our ‘deep ecology’:
it is the source of our pain for the world
as well as our love and appetite for life.”
Joanna Macy 

    "These grace moments that happen to all of us are very powerful. Sometimes there’s a moment of oneness, in the aftermath of which we’re never quite the same. But almost always these moments are extremely delicate, very subtle. And we can’t make them happen. The thing is, we can freely choose to assume the stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the oneness we can’t attain."

    James Finley:

    “In Presence, you are One with all life. And from this place of fullness, completeness, wholeness, you create - or rather, you allow creation to happen. You manifest – or rather, you allow manifestation to move through you - with a spirit of playfulness, ease, lightness. You let go of goals, comparisons, all ideas of success, even the idea of manifestation itself!
    Manifestation through relaxation. Creation through surrender. Building up through letting go. Power through effortlessness. These are the wonderful paradoxes of your creative heart.”
Jeff Foster


    Surrender – what an amazingly powerful word. It often engenders the thought of weakness and cowardice. In my case, it required all the strength I had to be brave enough to follow the invisible into the unknown.
    Do whatever is put in front of you with all your heart & soul without regard for personal results. Do the work as though it were given to you by the universe itself – because it was.
    By now, I had become thoroughly convinced that the constant act of letting go of one’s self-centered thoughts & emotions was all that was needed for profound personal, professional, & spiritual growth.”

    Michael A. Singer “The Surrender Experiment. My Journey into Life’s Perfection,” Harmony, 2015.

"The beautiful thing about compassion
is that when it spontaneously arises in you,
an inner door opens into an experience of love,
which is our part of fundamental reality....
When the inner door opens,
it becomes effortless
to reach out & connect with others.
This is why the greatest antidote to insecurity
and sense of fear is compassion.
It brings one back to the basis of one's inner strength.
A truly compassionate person embodies a carefree spirit
of fearlessness, born of the freedom
egoistic self concern
The Dalai Lama

    “‘Alo’ means ‘in the presence of’,
    ‘ha’ is the ‘breath.’
    The power of the breath is identified by Hawaiian people as more than the air one                draws in and expels from the lungs -
    It is the impulse to breathe,
    the very life force itself,
    the divine spirit in us."
Alice Holokai


    And now, a simple yet powerful breathing practice for you. With each in breath, feel the nurturing energy you attract. With each, much slower exhalation, feel the warm energy rising from the base of your belly (hara / dantien), up your spine, further warmed up by your heart center, spreading outward to all the rest of your body, and finally up to and outwards from between your eyebrows (third eye).
repeating gently, patiently, effortlessly, nurturing your entire body, and the world.


Make Your Own Music - by Molly Hahn

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Finding True Self, Peace & Joy

    Advanced spiritual practitioners are well aware that we all have two, very different operating systems. The egoic separate self is one most of us habitually contract into under stress & tend to stabilize in, even without stress. The other is the open, spacious, peaceful, timeless, silent, unitive state of awareness or true self that is always there, but for most is usually hidden, veiled over by our egoic self's fearful striving to control our lives for survival & reproduction.
    "When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished." Mihály Csíkszentmihályi PhD

     Our small, egoic self (& it's constant, very loud spokesperson, "ordinary mind's self talk") can only see consensual dualistic relative reality - of adversarial relationships, competition to get to the top, which even includes war (rape, plunder & murder). Small self's / ordinary mind's natural byproduct is dualism & rigid materialism - where ego can, or soon will be able to control everything ("promissory materialism" - a joke for everyone, except materialists).
    Our true self, when we don't drown it out by setting off our alarms, experiences ultimate reality. We all experience this occasionally, at least fleetingly. We are most likely to experience our innate authenticity & ultimate reality when we feel relaxed, open to & engaged with the flow of life.

     Psychologist Csíkszentmihályi researched the "flow" state & summarized it as: "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, & thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." Mihály Csíkszentmihályi PhD
    An important component of "flow" was autotelicity - performing acts because they are intrinsically rewarding, rather than to achieve external goals; learning to enjoy situations that most others mind find miserable; associated with curiosity, persistence, & humility. 
    Despite the formality of scientific language, "flow" seems remarkably similar if not identical to a common experience shared by serious meditators, mystics, saints, extreme adventurers, surgeons, artists of every description, and all who intentionally spend time being intimately engaged with whatever the present moment holds for them
. A very impressive real-life example of this is detailed in the book :
Michael A. Singer “The Surrender Experiment. My Journey into Life’s Perfection,” Harmony, 2015.
    Intimacy is a direct, heart-to-heart expression of unconditional love (nothing to do with reward / personal gain ie not transactional.)

    The huge practical problem in our lives is that most of us live as if a fire alarm was constantly ringing, resulting in our small, separate mind running & ruining our lives, and completely obscuring our authentic, true self.

    “Once I stop shaping reality into a theatrical performance with myself at its center, mindfulness allows the world to surprise me. The universe becomes delightfully open-ended.” Belden C. Lane 

    "When the mind appears, reality disappears. When the mind disappears, reality appears.” Bodhidharma 

     So our small mind, by way of constant "self talk," is constantly telling us how uncomfortable we are, and reminding us of our preferences: all that we "must have", and all that we "must avoid", in order to survive & be happy. Fixating on these attachments keeps us constantly self-centered, stressed & striving to be somewhere else, do something else, become someone else RATHER THAN be intimately engaged with whatever the present moment presents us.
By giving up our attachments in life, we open ourselves up to more opportunities, more spontaneity, and more chances to cultivate deeper connections with others.” Lama Tsomo

    “The mind is a wonderful gift, but the voice inside our heads ("self-talk") can also be a never-ending source of suffering. That’s the last thing we need when we’ve already got so much of the outside world challenging us. We can spend our lives trying to change those external conditions to ‘be and feel OK’ — when the real problem is what’s going on inside.
    The solution? Surrender – the willingness to let go. To realize that ultimately, our thoughts, emotions, & even our body are not who we are. We are the indwelling consciousness witnessing it all.”
Michael A. Singer

    Much of our repetitive thinking is about escaping discomfort by getting some things & avoiding others. Our life experience has surely taught us by now that no amount of getting & avoiding can lift us out of "ordinary unhappiness." Buddhism teaches that this obsessive self-centered actually causes unnecessary suffering. Surely we're ready to start inhabiting our far more evolved, true self - often just referred to as "Self."
The thoughts change
     but not you.
     Let go of the passing thoughts and
     hold on to the unchanging Self."
Sri Ramana Maharshi

    So what am I learning, if ever so slowly? It's ridiculously easy & common to remain overwhelmed by our past traumas & resultant reactivities, which guarantees continuous unnecessary suffering. Though many assume that this is 'just the way life is,' and 'nothing can be done about it,' that's just a 'helplessness & hopelessness' slump we all need to get past, from time to time.
in the absolutely most horrible cases of suffering, it's been shown that it's best to let go of our 'hurt child' identity, and instead direct our energies toward embodying our 'wise elder' identity (
transpersonal Self or divine identity), and thereby nurture ourselves & others so we may all thrive ie be the best version of ourselves ie true self or Self.
authentic is our only way to peace & joy, that is independent of life's constant ups & downs, aging, sickness & death.

Finding the True Essence of You (Self) - Eckhart Tolle Explains (20min)