Bearing fruit

The seed and the fruit

The seed and the fruit

This morning I decided to yoga-stretch these muscles and joints, slowly, mindfully.  One breath per movement.  This ten-minute routine brings joy when I consciously decide to do it.  Although often the mind attempts to talk it away.  Let’s not do it today, it advises, because it’s too boring, inconvenient or useless. Because it doesn’t feel good at first.  It feels too effortful, even though it’s one of the slowest stretching routines on the planet.

In the middle of the downward dog or upward something-or-other, another thought attempted to take root.  “I don’t know anything,” said the thought.  Immediately a wave of complimentary emotion accompanied the thought, because that’s what emotion does when it thinks a thought is true.  The emotion seemed to say, “Because you know nothing, you’re worthless, ridiculous, empty, pathetic and awful.”

If a person believes every thought is produced by an independent mind—and the thought defines who the person is and what she believes—then suffering often ensues.  Thought becomes entangled in identity.  What I think equals who I am.  It’s a disastrous recipe for human suffering.

Somewhere in this journey of life dozens of kind guides pointed out the fallacy of this.  Thoughts do not define us.  Thoughts are not who we are.  Thoughts come and go in the field of our awareness.  Thoughts arise in us but exist more as kind guides or sadistic demons.  Depending on our willingness to believe and identify, our struggles often arise and continue.

It’s possible to discover the truth of who we are at the ground of being.  Not our outward labels of woman, man, mother, father, gay, straight, black, white, yellow or red.  Not our clouds of feelings:  happy, sad, angry, accepting, annoying, loving, hating, wondering.  Not even the sensations arising that say we’re a separate mind in a separate body.  Of course we’re this body:  what else could we be?

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Bliss

Bliss is the whole picture, not just the bubble

Bliss is the whole picture, not just the bubble

One of the side-effects of spiritual awareness or realization is that one can sometimes experience delightful states of bliss.

The heart opens, the mind feels clear and relatively quiet, the body relaxes.  Ahhhh, bliss!

I used to think that bliss equaled a state of spiritual “arrival”.  I also thought that it would stay forevermore, the ending of a happily-ever-after story.

What seems to happen is that a pervasive feeling of joy does exist beneath the busy planning, judging, figuring-out mind. Joy does seem to be what *aliveness* feels like.  When the preoccupation with “me” quiets or ceases this natural state often surfaces.  It’s the spark of life moving, shining, illuminating, loving.  It feels like happiness, but it’s really not associated to external circumstances.  It’s an inside job, a shining flashlight of awareness, illuminating everything internal and external.

When the “me” story lessened, even for a short time, I used to experience a sense of deep peace.  Other times it felt like ho-hum emptiness.  Kind of boring.  Kind of like nothing joyful was arising.  I often pondered:  Where was the joy?  C’mon, bring on some Yogi Juice!

Sometimes a glimpse of uncaused joy would arise, but it never stayed around.  It was seen that the joy was Life itself, moving in the stillness of awareness.  A sense of BEING life accompanied it.  It flooded the body with bliss.

And then it would move on to something else.  Life isn’t stagnant. One moment it’s joy. Then it’s despair, peace, what’s-for-dinner? and maybe a flash of anger.

Last week bliss visited for the entire week.  Joy set itself as the background.  It felt amazing. This time, though, the mind didn’t think:  Can this last forever?  It knew that something else would flow into the next undulating moment.  Maybe it would feel good; maybe it wouldn’t.

What seems to stop the bliss?  An unexamined thought.  A belief which isn’t true.  A mental and emotional story filled with shards of pain or rejection.  Pushing away of the moment.

So, in the next moment, the spiritual journey becomes meeting this arising thought, belief or story.  Ahhh, here you are, dear little girl who still seems to want or need approval.  And that’s the next moment.  That’s what is important to be with. Not to cling to yesterday’s bliss, but to say “hello” to what is arising next, whether it be death or injury or sad tears.  To accompany the little girl without falling into yet another story of her inner tragedy or blaming John,Sue or Sally for her woes. To feel her pain without medicating it with compulsion.  (And, if I choose to medicate it with too much email or cookies–being with that in an open-hearted way.)

It’s all life.  And what are we but life?  The “I” is just beginning to relax into this, the turning of the wheel of karma.  Life breathes.  It opens, it closes.  It’s as wide and blissful as an ocean, then it’s as narrow and constricted as a fussy grandma in a wheelchair.  It’s breath flowing in, then flowing out.  It’s a bubble in a stream and–pop!–it’s gone.

What’s next?  Who cares?  When delight or curiosity in the next moment exists (even if it’s the hardest moment of one’s life) then that’s Presence realizing itself, isn’t it?

Who would have thought?

Bud

Bud

Since I’ve made the decision to close my “primary” blog for now, some folks have wondered if this little spiritual blog might too disappear.

The answer is:  “I don’t know.”

It might.

It might not.

What is happening these days is a deeper surrender into what arises beneath the level of thought.  What emerges beyond ego’s wanting and not-wanting.

Such blossoming arises each day.

Sometimes petals fall away.

Sometimes joy arises.  Pain arises.  Insights arise.

Every day is an adventure, let me tell you. In surrendering to “what is” gifts appear daily.

It is so hard to write what is happening now.  Words don’t explain anything.  They circle among themselves and remain silent, canceling themselves out.  Yet, it’s good.  It’s so good–even the pain, even everything which the ego despairs–becomes more and more welcome.  More and more accepted.

I celebrate Life truly, maybe for the first time ever.  (Except, Life always celebrated itself in EVERYTHING, in everyone and everything, even this spider which now crawls up the file cabinet.  Even in what has been disliked.)

Infinite possibilities exist.

INFINITE

And that’s what you are.  What I am.  What is.

And the answer still shines:  “I don’t know.”

Yet somewhere along the forest path “don’t knowing” became more joy than fear.  More allowing than the endless attempts to know, to feel secure.

I want to shout it from the depths:  Follow your heart to your deepest desire!  But you shall anyway.  So I simply delight in your spirit, you Being, you amazing star, you dawning sun.  You are my own precious self.  Who would have thought?

“Let everything be as it already is”

Your morning meditation, should you choose, might be:  “Let everything be as it already is“.

Do nothing.

Resist nothing.

Let everything simply be as it is.

This includes, my friend, the realization that trying to “do nothing” is a way of doing something.

Simply let it all arise.

Let your resistance arise.

Your resistance is what already is.

Allow it all to be exactly how it already is.

It’s all included.

Watch your response arise.  Your action is what is.

Nothing has ever been separate from this, has it?

Watch how your thoughts attempt to tweak what already is. How they attempt to exclude.  To divvy up.  To divide.  To separate into categories.  To reject.  To endlessly argue. To strive.

Don’t push that away, either.

Let it all arise and be what it is.

This is the most radical meditation we might choose.

What could present itself that isn’t perfectly what it is?

 

Resistance to Presence

Presence

Almost ten years after discovering “Presence” as an intellectual concept, the active awareness of embodied life, movement, emptiness, now-ness, whatever words we want to wrap our minds around the divinity of aliveness, of this-here-now, yes, the Church of Whaz Happenin’ Now, I am finally more deeply realizing my fierce bodily resistance to Presence.

We may have been born free of thought watching that mobile-like-thingee dance around above our cribs, hello smiling face, milky spurts of joy, warm diapers of release, ow that hurts!, cuddle-hug, but we soon learn to compartmentalize through language–and, yes, admit it, to discern and judge–and soon we tiptoe in a hushed dream world of abstract thoughts and concepts, far from initial perception, the pure presence of a breast, that dollie, that spinning top, squirming toes.

Add sixteen years, or twenty-nine, or seventy-three, and pretty soon we’re ensconced in a dream-world of abstract thought.  We’ve labeled everything dead.  We’ve removed ourselves from rain’s soft cold chill.  We’ve insulated ourselves in a make-believe world about six steps away from that which just revealed itself to us here, now.

It’s amazing that we can perhaps, if we’re lucky, intellectually understand Presence within a moment of reading about it.  Our heart can sometimes resonate–yes, yes! that’s what I want, O Presence, Come Hither!–but to live it, truly live it, at the level of feet and knees, in this particular room,  by this sky, near the humming of the heater, to realize it at the level of the nervous system (O Ye Nervous System, trained in Thought and Belief Politics) it’s another matter.

I realize, meditation after meditation, day after day, how this body, this being, has forgotten to relax completely into this moment.  How this nervous system cranks up like an over-wired motor at times, reaching out to do, do, do.  How impossible it feels to sit, sit, sit, doing nothing, allowing Being to dance its empty-full dance.

About two months ago, one morning at work, I realized the depths of my body’s inability to relax.  This is a body that relaxes day after day, never turning on the television, walking long hours in nature.  Yet, truly, the nervous system still zings, zangs, refuses to decompress to the open expanse of Presence.

As this realization arose, the body relaxed.  It simply let go.  Ahhhh…into here…this wooden door, that computer over there, all simply being.  And I simply released into being.  Awareness joined awareness in the room, finally, at a body-level, a being-level, yes, here, now, finally.

It didn’t stay relaxed, mind you. It soon returned to pre-surrendered levels of abstraction, but for long moments of now it realized its innate resistance to Presence.

Non-dualists will say we’re always awareness, we’re always already complete–and yes, of course we are.  That’s our great secret gift!  We’re already that which we seek.

However, our nervous systems–let alone our minds and hearts–have often forgotten.  We can lose ourselves in days and weeks and lifetimes of imaginations, can’t we, a step distant from what reveals itself here, now?

I could tell stories until they throw clods of soil over these decomposing bones and perhaps, if awareness still lingered near the body, finally realize the joy in that grave-digger’s shovel, the heavy wet feel of dirt without labeling, without making it a tragedy or a release, without making it anything that would disguise the moment into a personality with an experience,  a multi-layered story, a song separate from itself.

Every day now I want to spend more time simply surrendering to what arises.  Here, now, enough

Here, now, more than enough.

You can see how true it is.  That which we truly are shines like the brightest clearest sun, perfectly radiant, perfectly relaxed, perfectly compassionate, perfectly open.

What arises–even our imperfect personalities–is also perfect, but we don’t really see that beyond a mental concept of perfection–until the nervous system relaxes and moves through our mornings, afternoons and evenings in tandem with the arising. 

When the nervous system moves effortlessly with the arising–here, now–the tea cup moving, fingers clasping ceramic, hot, mint, liquid, no me, no tea, no other, one movement, one sip, one taste–then resistance is seen as yet another story, a little chuckle, a guffaw, less than a story, more than a song, but it’s over before you label it and awareness moves on toward itself and there’s nothing to grasp because you’re free, simply, totally free.