Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tears of Joy

A little over a week ago, I experienced something quite beautiful. I went to a satsang (Sanskrit - truth gathering) where a spiritual teacher by the name of Jeannie Zandi ( came to share with us her experience of being one with truth. It’s rare that I attend such things, in fact this was probably my first one that involved a live teacher as opposed to a prerecorded one. But I’m quite grateful for the opportunity.

We began with a meditation and sat in silence until the last participant arrived (there were nearly 30 of us). As she began speaking I tried to maintain my level of awareness. She spoke for a little while and then began taking questions from the group. There were a few times early on when something was said that resonated so deeply in me that I began to get teary eyed, but I don’t remember now the specifics of what it was that was being talked about at the time.

It was about halfway through or so, when one of the participants started talking about how she knew that everything was beautiful and perfect and so forth, but Jeannie interrupted to tell her to use the first person. Then, the woman began saying things like, “I am beautiful, I am perfect, I am beauty, I am...” While she was talking I finally opened up fully to the fact that she was speaking for me, as well as everyone else in the room. I realized and accepted that she was me speaking to me for my benefit, and I began to cry. The tears kept coming and they kept talking. The man sitting next to me put his hand on my back and told me not to hold back and to be with it, for which I was quite grateful as my mind may have began making me uncomfortable had I let it. He and the woman sitting next to him (possibly his wife) provided me with tissue and continuous support. He also told me that it tends to come in waves. This obviously meant that this was not an uncommon experience, but as far as I could tell I was the only one crying uncontrollable tears of joy.

Jeannie did make a comment about it not being a satsang until someone was crying, but the questions and answers continued as I cried. I was not judging myself and not experiencing anything other than a beautiful warm and tingly feeling throughout my body. There was no need to analyze or question as everything seemed to make perfect sense. Once in a while my tears would subside a bit, but something else would be said that brought up laughter and more tears. As far as I can tell I spent the last hour of the meeting crying and laughing at things that were not necessarily funny or sad. It was a surprisingly liberating and beautiful experience.

Toward the end my tears subsided a bit as a man was asking about how we sustain states such as the ones that are experienced during satsang. I knew this was something I too would be curious about if I were not already in a state of joy, plus just pondering such a question seemed a foreign idea at the time. I don’t remember exactly what Jeannie’s response was now, but it made perfect sense and I think had to do with him examining who it was that was asking the question (the thinking mind which like to remain in control or the Self).

One of the last questions was from a woman who apparently thought that everyone else was experiencing the same level of pain she had, and pointed at me as an example. Apparently she had her own pain and was projecting it on me, assuming I was experiencing tears of sadness. Jeannie was quick to point out that we do not all have the same pain that she was experiencing.

After she finished answering the last question, Jeannie asked the other participants if they would like to check in with me. They expressed interest so she turned to me and asked almost jokingly if I had anything I would like to share with the group about my experience. Then, I began speaking clearly and easily about my experience, without any nervousness or awkwardness that I might have ordinarily experienced in such a situation with a room full of strangers. I started by saying comically, “She started it,” and pointed at the woman (me) who had described herself (me) earlier. I then explained all I could about the experience and clearly stated that they were not tears of sadness to make sure there were no misunderstandings. After I finished I said, “I hope that lived up to everyone’s expectations,” and we all had a chuckle.

I was in a very good mood for the next couple of days and found it easy to laugh and easy to tear up with joy when remembering that night. It was also easy for me to see the innate beauty that is all around us, in the trees, the sky, the ground, pretty much everything. As time passed I became more entrenched in my own thoughts about the events around me and thought again became my predominant state of mind.

Though it can be frustrating to experience states such as this and then lose them, it is important not to get attached to a past experience, which may be one of the beneficial lessons to be learned from this. It also points to other things which we are still attached to. The mind likes being in control and likes figuring things out. It’s hard for it to accept that it can not understand everything and it will keep trying if you let it. For me, the veil separating me from my Self has been pulled back and then closed a couple of times now, but it does seem a bit thinner. I’ll be there once I realize I’m already there and not a moment before ;) So will you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment (Eckhart Tolle).

There is a conspiracy a foot to bring you to a point where you are experiencing eternal gratitude for everything you encounter. Everyone and everything you encounter are involved, from the person who cut you off in traffic, to the pile of dog poop you stepped in while walking in the park, to the person in the express line with more than twelve items, to the stranger who smiled at you on the street. Their aim is to remind you that all of your suffering is self created through your identification with thoughts. Thoughts are simply electrical impulses that occur in the brain and what happens in our lives is neither bad nor good until they are interpreted through thought.

All of our emotions are reflections of what we are thinking at the time. Frustration, anger, resentment and fear all happen as a result of our thoughts about a situation, not as a result of the situation itself. This is what our coconspirators are trying to tell us. If we want to be free of negativity, we can learn a great deal from them.

When we treat everyone we come in contact with as a noble messenger who is trying to protect us from our thoughts, we enable the conspiracy to work more effectively rather than fight it. Gratitude is the natural outcome. We then feel like giving thanks to all of those around us who have helped us on our journey, which is ultimately everyone.

Our free will enables us to choose whether to identify with our thoughts and take them to be the absolute truth, or to choose to realize that they are not who we are. Feeling gratitude is a choice we can make as well as our natural state of being concealed behind a layer of thought, which is why this time of year is so valuable. It reminds us to set aside trivial matters and connect with that state of gratitude that is in us all. As for me, I am grateful for the role you play in the conspiracy to bring about my realization and show my thanks by doing the same for you.
Happy Thanksgiving,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Profoundly Meaningless Words

I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for being a part of my email list, despite the fact that some of you may think I’m a bit off my rocker ;) . I think of each of you quite often despite the fact that I seem to only contact you when I’m contacting others. Some of you are familiar with the things I talk about in my emails and have had similar experiences or read similar books, and some of you have no interest what so ever and may even delete the messages when you see who they are from. However, after a friend of mine recently said that she could not meditate unless she was getting a tattoo, I realized that there are probably a large number of people I know who have never tried to meditate at all.

A day or so after that conversation, a very simple and profound meditation technique came to me that I have used before. However, this time I realized just how powerful and simple it actually is. I call it the Blah Blah Blah technique. So, whether you are an old pro at meditation or have never tried it before, I’d like you to take a moment right now to try this technique. You can either do it with your eyes open or closed, but you might want to do it with your eyes closed if you have never tried to meditate before.

Take a deep breath and relax any muscles that you notice are tense. Then think the words, “Blah. Blah. Blah” (don’t say them out loud). Pause a couple of seconds between each “blah” and pause for a few extra seconds after the third “blah.” Then repeat, “Blah. Blah. Blah.” Be the witness the thoughts. If it helps at first you can visualize the words spelled out in front of you as you think them. I also recommend that you pay attention to your body when you do it and relax any muscles you feel tense up.

While doing this, realize that You are not these thoughts. Instead, You are the awareness that “sees” these thoughts. Focus on that part of Yourself that realizes these are just thoughts. You are witnessing these thoughts occur. This creates a space between the thoughts and You. Once that space has been created you can rest with a still mind in that space, noticing any random thought that happens to go through your mind for what it is: a thought.

Take as long as you want to think and observe the “blahs,” but I would recommend spending at least 20 seconds or so. Then, I invite you to spend as long as you want resting in the space of silence you have created (maybe 5 minutes at first). If thinking the words helps you remain in the observer role, then by all means keep thinking them the whole time. Though it may seem silly and pointless at first, you’ve actually done something quite profound that most people never do. You have broken your identity with thought.

Most of us spend the majority of our waking moments so identified with our thoughts that we don’t even realize we are thinking. There’s nothing wrong with thinking, but when we are so identified with our thoughts that we loose ourselves in them, we become taken over by the mind (so to speak). By taking a few seconds out of the day a few times a day to do this practice, we break that cycle and connect with ourselves on a much deeper level.

It’s a great mental exercise and I recommend you do it when ever you feel stressed, worried, or realize that you are caught in habitual thought. You will likely begin to “catch” yourself thinking more often during everyday activities, which is a wonderful sign that you are becoming more present. As you begin noticing your habitual thoughts more often, you will probably find that blah, blah, blah summarizes them nicely.

When you do find yourself thinking a thought you would rather not be thinking, don’t scold yourself for it, just realize that it is a thought and nothing more. That’s all there is to do. In this way, this meditation can be done any time during the day or night without the need for the “blahs” simply by witnessing any thought that happens to be going through your mind.

There is another very simple and powerful technique that helps in day to day life which involves connecting with the body. It too can be done eyes open once you have done it a few times. Start by taking a deep breath and relaxing. Then, try to feel the tip of your finger. With your eyes closed, can you tell if it is still there? When you put your attention on trying to feel it from the inside, you can easily feel the aliveness in it either in the form of your pulse beating in it or even a tingly sensation.

Keep your attention here and then put your attention on your whole hand, then both hands. Once you feel the aliveness in your hands you can focus your attention on your feet, then proceed with other parts of your body until you feel the aliveness running through your whole body. Again, the point is to just spend a little time feeling the aliveness within different parts of your body from time to time throughout your day (without the need for needles being stuck in and out repeatedly). It is very simple and calms the mind dramatically. When you get more accustomed to the practice you can even maintain attention in some part of your body (such as your hands) while talking to someone, driving, or watching TV.

There are obviously hundreds of other ways people use meditation in their daily lives, but these are the two that I have found the easiest to use on a regular basis throughout the day. Connecting with your breathing and following the breath in and out is also a very easy and ancient form of meditation that I started out with a few years ago. However, the goal of all meditation is the same: To break the cycle of habitual thought and put us back in control. We then realize for ourselves that we are not our thoughts, which is truly liberating.
Be well,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Navigating the Switch

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the transition of the seasons as Fall begins to get situated. I wanted to share something that happened recently that may or may not interest you. A couple of weeks ago, a few days after my last seizure, I had what might be called an awakening experience that lasted most of a day. We were in the car on a beautiful day, and I was just taking in the scenery that I had seen before. I started to practice an eyes open meditation practice I had read about the day before, and as I released the thoughts that arose and relaxed muscles that I felt tensing, a strange sensation began to occur. It was the sense of fear almost like the stage fright you might encounter before making a speech. As it intensified, I felt some tension in my body as well. The sensation was almost like an aura that I might encounter prior to a seizure which only added to the fear of what was happening. Instead of trying to change the mental subject as I have done before when encountering this fear, I relaxed and surrendered into it.

At that point warm tingling sensations began to occur in my body. These grew more intense and felt almost orgasmic in nature. I was overcome with the feeling of joy and exhilaration. It seemed to escalate to a point and then even out as I took in the beautiful scenery around me which had become vivid and alive. I realized that I was seeing everything for the first time ever and that I was seeing it without a mental story or label attached to it. Everything made perfect sense without the need for thoughts to reconcile it. It was a sense of knowing that settled over me that allowed me to see the beautiful necessity in everything that is happening in the world, including wars and all forms of suffering.

As the full implications of this felt knowing flooded my body I was on the verge of tears. Not tears of sorrow but tears of joy. Before they started flowing I found myself quietly laughing to myself. It all made perfect sense. Though it was beyond what words could describe, it was like seeing how we are all perfectly connected in a way that makes us creators and products all at the same time. I had this sense that we are all part of a cosmic conspiracy to bring about this moment and to see and experience it fully. Everyone you ever come in contact with, and even those you don’t, regardless of how seemingly insignificant the encounter, is a part of this conspiracy whether they know it or not. The end goal of the conspiracy is to get us to awaken.

I also realized that everyone I see is actually a reflection of myself. They too are the same “thing” I am and the only difference is a perceived difference I’ve placed on them, which actually says more about me. None of these realizations were in the form of thoughts, as thought seemed to be relatively absent. Instead they were just known or felt. If ever a thought began to form, it was met with a sort of reassurance. For example, as I experienced a thought about being able to get back to this point I was reassured that did not need to concern myself with this and that I would be able to return again and again and that this was just a sample. This allowed me to remain present.

Interestingly enough, when my wife would ask a question or I was in some other way called upon to do something, I seemed to be able to snap out of it or regain control without losing my connection. The sense of joy and wonder remained in the background and available for me to step back into at will. I realized I was learning to negotiate the switch.

On the drive home I smelled a very potent dead animal smell. But before the mind could step in and label it as a “bad” smell it was realized that the only thing that made it a bad smell was past experience. Instead it took on a somewhat sweet smell all its own that was actually quite pleasant. Throughout the rest of the day I took great joy in whatever I did, whether it was doing laundry or feeding dogs. I was doing it all for the first time without any stories from days gone by. That night the dinner we ate was among the best I had ever tasted and I had to stop myself from savoring every bite with groans of pleasure as it was a bit much for my fellow diners ;)

In short, it was a great experience that I savored until I went to bed that night. The next day I woke up to my normal mental activity but with a residue of the pleasure I had encountered the day before. It faded over the course of the next day as I had work to do in preparation for our business trip. Though I have tried on a number of occasions since then to reconnect, I have not had much luck. I have also spent a fair amount of time mentally analyzing the experience knowing that it would not get me back to that point.

I was very fortunate to get to experience that which I’ve been reading about for the last couple of years and I realize that I am apparently not quite ready to live it on a full time basis. I recognize now that “it” is always here and can be experienced by anyone anytime if they are interested. I highly recommend it and look forward to being there (here) again in the near future. One thing I came away with that had to do with facing the fear that ultimately arises as you get to the edge is this: You’re doing it for humanity. That was one of a couple of notes I took during my ride home that may or may not have helped me fully surrender to what was about to happen. I wish you well in your journey.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Epilepsy and acceptance

As many of you already know I have had epilepsy for three years (as of this coming November). It is actually what started my original investigation into consciousness, and why I started an email list that you are now reading. For the last year and a half I have been working on getting my driving privileges back, which requires going 6 months without a seizure. Interestingly enough every time I make it 6 months I have another breakthrough seizure, typically in the form of a partial complex as opposed to a grand mal (the partial seizures are much easier to live with but still prevent driving). In fact it has been about a year and a half since my last grand mal.

Having said that, as of Monday night I had been driving for a about a week for the first time in a long time and enjoying being able to take myself places, without imposing on anyone, when I had a grand mal seizure. I had just returned home from deeksha, which I have done several times before, parked in the driveway and felt the tell tale signs of an aura starting. I made my way upstairs and said hello to my wife, Shelby, but the aura had gotten stronger. She could tell something was not quite right and told me to sit down. It was a very strange sensation compared to past partials and I knew something was not quite right when I started spilling water on the floor, which I did twice before sitting down.

The next thing I really remember was coming to with Shelby on the phone telling someone I had had a seizure. My brother soon showed up and I could sense that they were both worried about me and wanted to take me to the hospital. I was too weak and cloudy headed to communicate with them effectively, but could understand everything they were saying and made it clear that I did not think that taking me in was necessary. It took me close to an hour before I had regained my ability to communicate effectively and answer questions.

It was during this recovery time that I tried to sit up several times. They were concerned about me getting up and insisted that I remained seated, so I did. After my seizure, I was in somewhat of a forced state of acceptance. Someone wants to put some juice in my mouth. Okay. Someone wants to put essential oil on my temples. Okay. Someone wants to prevent me from standing when I want to stand. Okay. The outcome of that is a much more peaceful state than one of resistance and struggle, especially when those around you are concerned for your well being and doing what they think is best to help.

In the end, I had a headache, a little bit of nausea, a sore tongue from being bitten and a little fatigue, but I have definitely had worse. What I got in return was a better grasp on the essence of acceptance that I have read so much about and shared with you all.

The truth is that we have no control over what happens to us at any given moment. We are totally and always at the mercy of what is, regardless of the lengths we go to. Any semblance of control is just an illusion. That’s why I needed epilepsy in my life – to show me the many facets of acceptance that can’t just be read about and understood. One would think the lesson would be obvious since it is a disorder that removes your ability to control your mind and body from you periodically. But it is just now being fully digested by my analytical brain, or should I say allowed to pass through it.

We experience frustration when what we are experiencing is different from what we think we should be experiencing. No problems exist in a state of acceptance to what is. This also does not mean you should do nothing to pursue what it is your body feels it needs. In the case of epilepsy, I have been following the increasing medication route for some time now, and will be exploring the Vegus Nerve Stimulator implant that has helped many other people overcome seizures. So, you see, I can fully accept my present moment situation and still not resign myself to being stuck in that situation. Rather than hit a wall and try to climb or punch through it, it’s like hitting a wall, acknowledging its presence and then searching for a way around it while accepting every part of the wall you encounter on the way.

In all honesty I think my mind was too cloudy to be integrating all of this that night, but it has all made a great deal more sense in retrospect. Epilepsy found me because it was what I needed to see the world for all of the beauty it possesses when I don’t impose my beliefs on it. Call me thick headed ;)
Take care,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Conditional Happiness - War and Peace

I hope this finds you all doing well and enjoying this September weather. I wanted to share these thoughts with you in honor of the upcoming International Peace Day (see PS for links to happenings). I tried not to get too side tracked but this topic seemed to lead my mind astray a few times. Let me know what you think.

Many of us are in states of conditional happiness, or at least contentment, a good deal of the time, some more often than others. This means that as long as things are going our way, or our life situation meets a certain list of criteria we have set up as prerequisites for happiness, we are happy or at peace. This manifests as people making sure these criteria are met and doing what they think will set the stage for continued happiness. But when things are not going our way, or certain criteria are lacking, we tend to be unhappy. This unhappiness, in whatever form it takes, is a form of war. We are at war with the way things currently are.

If we take the state of the war in Iraq as an example of this phenomenon, we see a country in chaos and conflict. We also have many people divided over the best way to proceed to bring an end to this war. As human beings we all want stability and peace but different people have different ideas about what peace looks like and how to bring about peace. Some think that using force to defeat those who oppose peace will bring about peace. Some think walking away from the conflict is the best way to bring about peace. There are obviously several different variations of these approaches, but in the end no one really knows for sure what will result in peace in Iraq.

War in the world leads to personal wars with what is. Many who are opposed to the war are struggling to bring an end to it as best they know how. Their happiness is currently contingent (at least in part) upon bringing an end to a war that has taken countless lives and promises to take countless more before it is all over. Many of those people believe that bringing home troops will bring about the end of the war and an end to their personal struggle and eventually happiness in their lives.

For others, their happiness may be somewhat contingent on bringing peace to Iraq by defeating those who are disrupting the peace. They hope to beat back the insurgents so that the Iraqi people can regain control of the peace themselves. These people are engaged in a personal war to see the outer war won and brought to a peaceful close.

In many respects, these two different camps of people are at war with each other because they see the opposing side as a hindrance to the closure they are seeking. They see the opposition as an obstacle to the personal happiness they are seeking. Those who disrupt our personal peace are often seen as the cause for our suffering.

In reality, the world we see around us is actually a mirror reflecting back what is going on inside us at any moment in time. This outer war, currently being fought predominantly in Iraq, serves as an example of the inner war we experience when things are not going our way. We are at war with what is and want to bring about peace through manipulating our outer environment and circumstances to meet our check list for happiness.

(On a side note, our dependence on foreign oil is another prime example of how we, as a collective, have become dependent on external circumstances for our perceived happiness. On this front we see a movement toward breaking our dependence on the external and seeking within for our independence, which is also very symbolic of what many individuals are doing at a personal level.)

However, we can not always control our outer circumstances, and if we could there would inevitably be someone with a different idea of what was needed for happiness who would disrupt our status quo. Therefore, being in a state of conditional happiness guarantees you will be unhappy.

Can we achieve a state of permanent unconditional happiness? If so, what can we do to bring about the permanent peace we all desire? What are your feelings about the answers to these two questions? We all have an arsenal of beliefs we have cultivated over the years that we are likely to turn to for help when asked questions like this. Beliefs are ineffectual when searching for truth as they keep you stuck in the past, where they were originally formed.

First, you have to ask yourself if you really want to live in a permanent and unconditional state of peace and happiness. Some may have enough conditional happiness in their lives that they don’t feel the need for more at this time, especially considering that they may have to give up some of those beliefs and judgments they have been protecting (and seemingly protected by) for so many years.

If you do want permanent peace in your life, look at those things that seem to disrupt your peace rather than avoid them. Your greatest teachers are often those which cause you stress, make you angry or create tension. These things are pointing you toward unresolved issues in your own life. Look deeply at the true cause for negative feelings to see if there is something there of any substance. More often than not all you will find are thoughts and beliefs about the way things are “supposed” to be.

When you find these thoughts, try doing The Work on them. Ask yourself: Is this (thought, belief, idea, statement, etc.) true? Can I really know if it is true? How do I feel when I believe this thought? What would I be without this thought? Then turn around the thought or belief to see if the opposite is more true than the thought you started with. Byron Katie suggests writing these statements down to ensure the mind does not circumvent the process, but the real thing to realize here is that our suffering is not caused by events or people in our lives. It’s all caused by our thoughts, which means we don’t have to change anything outside of us to be happy.

How can we bring about the end of war in the world? I’m not afraid to say I don’t know for sure. I have experienced periodic states of consciousness that have given me glimpses of the awareness beyond thought that connect us all (whatever you want to call that). I now realize that unconditional peace is real but that our attachment to, and identification with, our thoughts prevents us from experiencing it all of the time.

I still have my own set of thoughts and beliefs about the way of the world, but I realize that they are nothing more than thoughts are potential hindrances to my peace. I have seen that my mind is the sole source of conflict in my life, but I still need to remind myself now and then when conflict arises and remain mindful of my thoughts.

Can you create peace in the world without being at peace with yourself? I don’t know. Which is more true, “I can’t be at peace unless there is peace in the world,” or, “Be peaceful and there will be peace in the world?” It seems to me that making your peace or your happiness contingent on something external makes suffering inevitable, and when we suffer we tend to cause suffering. When we are at peace we tend to cause peace.
Peace out,

PS - If you are interested in doing more to radiate peace in the world, there are two links below you might find interesting as we approach International Peace Day (Sept. 21). Both are global in reach but local in participation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What am I?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I, truly?” and then sought to actually find the answer? This is something suggested by Adyashanti, who is another enlightened teacher that takes a straight up, no holds barred approach to teaching people to find themselves. With this particular approach (which is referred to as the direct method) you would sit quietly and clear your head of thoughts (or ignore the ones that come up) and ask yourself some serious questions, then feel or experience the answer as opposed to thinking about it. Here are some of the questions I have been using in my practice: “What am I? What is it that is seeing these things around me? What is it that’s underneath or behind all of my thoughts and ideas about the world? What is truly behind my eyes looking out on the world?” Focus all of your attention on finding what it is that is really there underneath it all. You might be quite surprised at what you find.

In effect you are connecting with what is below or behind your senses to what it is that is truly there experiencing them. The idea is not to use the mind to label the things you are looking at, but to let go of the thoughts you have about them and focus your attention on that which is experiencing the world around you. As you do this you will likely see that it is not a “who” that is experiencing these things, but a “what.”

The mind may try to cover up the answer as it tries to remain the primary interpreter of the forms around you, but if you spend a couple of minutes focusing ever more deeply into what is really there, you will likely find that there is nothing there but a presence, a stillness, consciousness itself. This is what you truly are: pure awareness. What you are doing when you do this is turning your awareness back on itself, and in doing so becoming aware of your inner self. This is where our ultimate search for truth will eventually lead – inside.

Another thing you might also discover while connecting with your inner self (after doing it a time or two) is that this presence within you is also all around you. It permeates that which you are as well as that which you are seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. It’s all around you as well as within you. It has no borders. It’s always there and never goes away. Thoughts may hide it from view, but it’s ever present and it’s what connects us all. It’s what we all have in common and can be accessed at anytime.

Having spent some time lately just being, I can safely say that it (this state of being or awareness) is a very peaceful state. This is where all of the truly powerful teachings point and I now have a far better grasp of what it is all about, despite my mind’s constant drive to try to understand, analyze or describe it. Rather than go on I will just suggest that you try looking into what you truly are for yourself and see what you find.

On a final note, I have also started a temporary web page that has a few quotes and notes from four enlightened teachers that have greatly influenced me lately (see link below). Despite the fact that they are all pointing to the same place, I have found it very beneficial to have different perspectives on the subject. I will be sharing more of my experiences soon and would love to hear from you on yours. In the meantime, take some time now and then to stop and just be (as suggested by Gangaji’s teacher).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Thousand Names for Joy

The following are some selected quotes from A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie. I hope you enjoy.

I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.

The apparent craziness of the world, like everything else, is a gift that we can use to set our minds free. Any stressful thought that you have about the planet, for example, shows you where you are stuck, where your energy is being exhausted in not fully meeting life as it is, without conditions. You can’t free yourself by finding a so-called enlightened state outside your own mind. When you question what you believe, you eventually come to see that you are the enlightenment you’ve been seeking. Until you can love what is–everything, including the apparent violence and craziness–you’re separate from the world, and you’ll see it as dangerous and frightening. I invite everyone to put these fearful thoughts on paper, question them, and set themselves free. When mind is not at war with itself, there’s no separation in it. I’m sixty-three years old and unlimited. If I had a name, it would be Service. If I had a name, it would be Gratitude.

All fear is like this. It’s caused by believing what you think–no more, no less. It’s always the story of a future. If you want fear on purpose, get a plan. Fear is not possible when you’ve questioned your mind; it can be experienced only when the mind projects the story of a past into a future. The story of a past is what enables us to project a future. If we weren’t attached to the story of a past, our future would be so bright, so free, that we wouldn’t bother to project time. We would notice that we’re already living in the future, and that it’s always now.

The Great Way is easy. It’s what reveals itself right here, right now. “Do the dishes.” Answer the email.” “Don’t answer the email.” It’s the great Way because it’s the only way. Whatever you do or don’t do is your contribution to reality. Nothing could be easier. Nothing else is required; you can’t do it wrong.

She lets all things come because here they come anyway; it’s not as if she had a choice. She lets all things go because there they go, with or without her consent. She delights in the coming and the going. Nothing comes until she needs it, nothing goes until it’s no longer needed. She is very clear about this. Nothing is wasted; there’s never too much or too little.

When you hide your flaws, you teach us to hide ours. I love to say that we are just waiting for one teacher, just one, to give us permission to be who we are now. You appear as this, big or small, straight or bent. That’s such a gift to give. The pain is in withholding it. Who else is going to give us permission to be free, if not you? Do it for your own sake, and we’ll follow. We’re a reflection of your thinking, and when you free yourself, we all become free.

When you revere a spiritual teacher, it’s yourself that you’re revering, because you can’t project anything but yourself... It’s a fine thing to love Jesus [or Buddha], but until you can love the monster, the terrorist, the child molester, until you can meet your wort enemy without defense or justification, your reverence for Jesus [or Buddha] isn’t real, because each of these is just another of his forms. That’s how you know when you are truly revering your spiritual teacher; when your reverence goes across the board.

I trust everyone. I trust them to do what they do, and I’m never disappointed. And since I trust people, I know to let them find their own way. The wonderful thing about inquiry is that there’s no one to guide you but you. There’s no guru, no teacher who, in her great wisdom, shows you the answers. Only your own answers can help you. You yourself are the way and the truth and the life, and when you realize this, the world becomes very kind.

We think that because Jesus and the Buddha wore robes and owned nothing, that’s how freedom is supposed to look. But can you live a normal life an dbe free? Can you do it from here, right now? That’s what I wan t for you. We have the same desire: your freedom. And I love that you’re attached to material objects, whether you have them or not, so that you can come to realize that ll suffering comes from the mind, not the world.

The litmus test for self-realization is a constant state of gratitude. This gratitude is not something you can look for or find. It comes from another direction, and it takes you over completely. It’s so vast that it can’t be dimmed or overlaid.

Beliefs Lead to Suffering

I just finished a wonderful book called A Thousand Names for Joy. It’s by a lady named Byron Katie who is in her sixties and “woke up to reality” (a.k.a. became enlightened) back in the mid eighties. I was previously unaware of her work, but am grateful that a friend suggested this book. It’s so nice to get a female perspective, and an altogether different perspective, on what it’s like to be enlightened and how we can all get there. It’s also wonderful to see how much it agrees with Eckhart Tolle. The bottom line is that acceptance of what is will set you free.

Katie, as she likes to be called, had the following observation about life after she awakened, which, by the way, took place while she was living in a halfway house for women, depressed to the point of being suicidal (a state that many enlightened folks underwent before their transition).

“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”

She quickly developed what she calls The Work, which is a series of four questions that she uses to put thoughts and beliefs to the test, thereby transcending their hold on us. The Work has gained widespread popularity and she has been traveling the world to bring it to people everywhere (see for more, as well as my example at the end of this email). The four questions are:
1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know that it is true?
3. How do I react when I believe this thought?
4. Who would I be without the thought?

The steps are then followed by a turn around where various opposites of the thought are stated to see that there may be truth in the opposite of the truth, or at least see how we feel when we choose to believe the opposite of what we believe. The goal is finding the truth behind what we believe to be the truth.

I was lucky enough to see some real life examples of what I had learned from reading this book, as well as use the work on one of my long held beliefs, and what a wonderful thing it was. My wife and I were dining outside at one of our favorite local restaurants one evening. A couple sitting nearby on the patio had a couple of well behaved dogs with them (the restaurant typically allows dogs on the patio so it was not an uncommon site). At one point, one of the dogs decided to take issue with the waiter and began barking at him. The waiter quelled him with a treat and we all continued about our business. The dog barked a few more times at the same waiter, who continued to try to make friends with the dog. Eventually they figured out that it was the hat that was making the dog uneasy and eventually things settled down.

However, during this period of time one of the diners complained about the presence of the dog to their waiter. Management was notified and the staff, it appeared, were debating whether to ask the couple to remove the dog or just let them finish and leave (they were almost done with their meal). The dog had settled down and none of the other diners were really bothered by his occasional outbursts while he was having them. When the couple, who like most diners was unaware there had been a complaint made, finally left the man who had complained began clapping very loudly, I suspect hoping that he would be the start of a wave of applause throughout the patio. He was the only one who was so inclined and I suspect I was not alone in finding his behavior more disturbing than that of the barking dog.

As if that were not enough excitement for one evening, a little while later the couple at the table next to us began to wonder where their food was. They asked their waiter about the status and indicated that they were there before someone else who had just gotten served. He went back to check the status and came back empty handed. Before he could get the words, “Here’s what happened...” out of his mouth the man at the table stood up abruptly and said, “We have to leave! Come on, let’s go!” the waiter was trying to apologize for the mix up that had occurred in the kitchen, but the man didn’t wan to hear it. His female companion was calmly explaining that they were very disappointed while the man was saying, “And your food isn’t really that good.” or worth waiting on or something to that effect.

As you can see it was quite an evening. It made me tense witnessing both of these encounters and left me with an internal cringe that lasted a while. However, as I found myself confronted with passing judgement on these people, I immediately realized that their suffering was based on their beliefs about the way life should be. One man believed that the dog was a nuisance and that dogs should not be allowed on the patio. So it was not the dog’s presence that upset him, it was his thoughts about the dog’s presence. The couple next to us believed that they should have been served before someone who came in after them, which brought about their anger.

It helped me see that these real world examples of suffering are caused by all of the beliefs we have accumulated throughout our lives, but what’s more important is what I got to witness in myself (where it all begins). My initial impressions at the man clapping and the man leaving in a huff would have been, “What an asshole.” However, I accepted that they were doing only what they felt was right at the time thinking it would bring about what they wanted. Instead I had to look at the feeling of uneasiness that I had and see why it was there. I am obviously made uncomfortable by conflict but what thoughts do I have that might bring this about? Here was a chance for me to do the Work on myself.

It finally occurred to me that the reaction I experience had to do with the belief that people should be more tolerant. So, let’s put that to the test and see what happens.
People should be more tolerant.
1. Is it true? Yes.
2. Can I absolutely know that it is true? Well, it seems pretty true. The only thing that makes me hesitate from saying it’s absolutely true is that people are all on their own path and can not help it if they are not yet aware of the fact that their intolerance is causing them pain. So I guess I can not know for sure that everyone should be more tolerant even if it seems like a good idea.
3. How do I react when I believe that people should be more tolerant? I become uncomfortable with the way things are. I become worrisome. I get angry and indignant and judgmental.
4. Who would I be without the thought? I would be more accepting of others. I would not have internal conflict. I would be happier.

Now turn it around. People should not be more tolerant. They should be just the way they are now. People already are as tolerant as they should be. I should be more tolerant. The truth comes out in this step and the problem is realized to be one inside me and not caused by others. My lack of tolerance for less than tolerant people creates more intolerance in the world and makes me an unhappy camper when I am exposed to intolerance, thereby pushing me further away from my end goal. It’s simple but powerful Work that helps set us free from the thoughts that keep us from realizing our full potential. See what you think.
Take care,
PS - I’ll send you another email full of inspiring quotes from 1000 Names for Joy after this.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Blame - Don’t take it personally

I had to share this story with you. One day on my way into a local supermarket I frequent (Greenlife), I paused at a table out front taking signatures on a petition for something. While I’m there an employee is returning from her lunch break and pauses to relay a story to the person next to me. She was saying that her day had taken a turn for the worse when one of the customers threw money at her rather than just handing it to her. She was upset by that because she felt she had done nothing to deserve such a thing.

After I had done my shopping I ended up in her line. I jokingly forewarned her that once she told me my total I was going to throw my money at her. She smiled and thanked me for the forewarning. When it came time to pay I just handed it to her and said I couldn’t bring myself to do it. She laughed and said that she later realized that the customer’s behavior probably didn’t have anything to do with her and that she shouldn’t have taken it personally. I agreed and wished her a better day to come.

It later dawned on me that her insight into the situation was quite profound. We are so prone to take everything personally that it distorts our thinking. We then tend to blame others for any and all negative feelings or emotions we experience from being exposed to their behavior.

This brings me to a lovely little email from Daily Om I received the other day that sums up dealing with such feelings nicely.

“As we begin to truly understand that the world outside of us is a reflection of the world inside of us, we may feel confused about who is to blame for the problems in our lives. If we had a difficult childhood, we may wonder how we can take responsibility for that, and in our current relationships, the same question arises. We all know that blaming others is the opposite of taking responsibility, but we may not understand how to take responsibility for things that we don’t truly feel responsible for. We may blame our parents for our low self-esteem, and we may blame our current partner for exacerbating it with their unconscious behavior. Objectively, this seems to make sense. After all, it is not our fault if our parents were irresponsible or unkind, and we are not to blame for our partner’s bad behavior.

Perhaps the problem lies with the activity of blaming. Whether we blame others or blame ourselves, there is something aggressive and unkind about it. It sets up a situation in which it becomes difficult to move forward under the burdensome feelings of shame and guilt that arise. It also puts the resolution of our pain in the hands of someone other than us. Ultimately, we cannot insist that someone else take responsibility for their actions; only they can make that choice when they are ready. In the meantime, if we want to move forward with our lives instead of waiting around for something that may or may not happen, we begin to see the wisdom of taking the situation into our own hands.

We do this by forgiving our parents, even if they have not asked for our forgiveness, so that we can be free. We end the abusive relationship with our partner, who may never admit to any wrongdoing, because we are willing to take responsibility for how we are treated. In short, we love ourselves as we want to be loved and create the life we know we deserve. We leave the resolution of the wrongs committed against us in the hands of the universe, releasing ourselves to live a life free of blame.” -

There is another part to this that I hope to discuss in my next email to you. In the meantime I would like to wish you the best. And remember, don’t take anything personally. Or, better yet, practice not taking your thoughts too seriously. These are wonderfully liberating practices.
Best of love,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Political Reconciliation

Happy first day of summer. I trust it is off to a good start and that you are enjoying the warm weather. Below is an email I've been working on off and on for a couple of days now and finally decided just to stop messing with and send it. I suspect I have written about it before some time ago but somehow felt compelled to revisit the subject.

I’ve been trying to stay relatively uninvolved in political goings on for a long time now, but I’m still on email lists of various activist groups that I joined during my outrage over stolen elections, the war, etc.. This does not mean I have become complacent, however. I’ve learned enough to know that I am doing the one thing I can truly do to make the world a better place by increasing my level of awareness and presence. True activism must come from a place of oneness and non-ego in order for it not to continue to feed the negativity that is breeding that which is being fought.

If you “love” the green power initiative, but “hate” those contributing to contamination of the environment, then everything you do to fight for that initiative is tainted with the negative energy that is creating that which you are fighting. The same is true for any issue whether it be the war or whatever. “If you fight madness, you become mad yourself.”

Therefore, I have remained relatively quiet despite constant email calls to take action regarding this or that. I have also remained relatively informed about what is going on in the world, however, and I have been recognizing the true nature of the issues causing the pain and suffering in the world at this time. This is where reconciliation comes in.

I have mixed feelings about sharing this type of information because of the negativity it may bring, but I know that many people may feel that what I have been sharing over the last year or so does not “fit” with what’s going on in the world. Hopefully, broaching this subject will illustrate how what I have been saying applies to the world situation and serve to shed some light on what we each one of us can do to bring about positive change in the world (which I think is what we all truly want). With that in mind read on and know that I will close on a very optimistic note.

Based on an investigative report from a BBC reporter (Greg Palast), who has done a great deal of investigation on the people currently in power in the US, there is a very strong connection between the Iraq war and big oil companies. The gist of the story was that the Bush administration had planned on privatizing the oil in Iraq once Saddam was taken out of power. However, James Baker (one of Bush Sr.’s staff) was serving as Exxon Mobile’s lead attorney at the time and threatened to sue if they did that. Then proposed that the Iraq oil supply be “controlled.” The end result? Gas prices reach record highs and big oil companies reach record profits and everyone in a position to make it happen gets rich. Everyone else, whether that be the gas buying public or the people of Iraq, suffer the consequences of that decision. This might also explain the reluctance to leave Iraq for fear of the loss of control over the oil there.

At about the same time I read this report, I received an email from the mother of an Iraq war veteran whose son came back in a bad state. He suffers from severe PTSD and has had difficulty receiving the care he needs from the VA. She mentioned in her email that many of the friends her son served with in Iraq have also come home and either committed suicide, turned abusive to their wives and children, or become lost in addiction to alcohol or other drugs. As a result, this mother has been living in a state of fear that her son may too commit suicide because of his pain over what he has seen and done in the past. She has been camping out in DC in an attempt to bring an end to the war and make sure veterans receive proper care once they return.

After reading her email, I felt compelled to help, so I offered to send her son a copy of Practicing the Power of Now to help him break free of the past (the author, Eckhart Tolle, was also on the verge of suicide when his life changing event occurred). She gave me his mailing address and I mailed him a copy. I have not heard from him but I can only hope that it will help in some small way.

So, how do I reconcile all of this madness? I recognize it all for what it truly is: unconsciousness. These people in positions of power that appear to be profiting from this war are after the same thing the rest of us are after – happiness. They naively think that more money will bring them what they seek. They are still bound by ego. However, no matter how many billions of dollars they accumulate, it’s still not enough. They still have not found happiness, which creates internal conflict for them. I suspect they are not totally blind to the misery being caused by their quest, which may lead to even more internal conflict. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that some of the world’s most unhappy people are also some of the wealthiest. Their lives still feel empty despite all the worldly goods.

This may be too much for some of you to swallow since you may still be under the impression that money is a key to happiness and that if you just made a bit more everything would be alright. I too used to feel this way. But it doesn’t really matter how much money you have if you are still in an unconscious, or ego dominated, state of mind. The more you make, the more you spend and you stay in the exact same place you are in now with more “stuff” to show for it. That is until you change what’s on the inside, which is where everything on the outside is created.

My challenge to you is to not fall into the trap of resenting these government officials and oil executives for their lack of consideration for the suffering being inflicted so they can find the fulfillment that they will never find, and to remember that this resentment only breeds more negativity. If we take a more compassionate attitude toward these people, without judgement or blame, we bring much needed positive energy into the world necessary to create true change.

If you need further evidence to help you overcome your outrage, think about it like this. We, as a collective population, have been recreating the same mistakes over and over again for a long time now. This is true on a global level as well as an individual level since individuals make up larger organizations of people. So, why does history seem to be repeating itself? I think it’s because we have not learned our lesson yet and woken up to the truth, so life keeps giving us new opportunities to do just that. In fact, it could be said that life’s one true purpose is to awaken us from our unconscious madness before we destroy ourselves.

However, in order for a great number of people to awaken the world situation will likely have to deteriorate more and more. Some people are easier than others to wake up, but each time a new person wakes up it creates a ripple effect that raises the energy level everywhere, increasing the likelihood that more will awaken. So, do you want to save the planet? Start by having compassion for those who are still destroying it and do not view yourself to be superior to anyone else. We are all one inseparable energetic organism and you are just looking at different forms of yourself in human form, all of whom you need to see for who they truly are in order to awaken.
May peace be with you,
PS - Please read the quote below as well (it is posted as a reply to the blog as well). It’s a quote from the end (page 138) of the book “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, which I trust you have all read or listened to by now. If not, let me know if you want a copy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Preconceived Notions

If you’re like me you have a large stock pile of preconceived notions about things. These are the ideas and standards we have for judging people, events, places, etc. For example, we have preconceived notions about what makes a person a good person, which is broken down into countless categories depending on a person’s role such as what makes a parent a good parent, what makes a friend a good friend, what makes a teacher a good teacher, what makes a leader a good leader, etc. We have these preconceived notions about everything from what foods taste good (or would taste good if we have not tasted them yet) to what careers are worthwhile to pursue. These notions (conceived in the past) are influenced by our upbringing, social and cultural environment, as well as our own egoic drive to have an opinion or view point about everything (i.e. our own identity).

We feel that these preconceived notions are our survival tools that keep us safe and happy, and we can rationalize hundreds of ways in which our lives have been made better by having them. The truth is that we are clinging to them out of fear, the fear of losing ourselves without them. They make up our ego, our perceived identity, which is a mind made self that separates and differentiates us from the world around us. But this perceived separation is actually what leads to various levels of suffering or discontent in our lives.

These preconceived notions control how we see the world around us. Since they are the yardstick by which we judge other people and situations, they keep us stuck in the past and cloud our judgement of the present (in effect they have become our judgement). The past then perpetuates itself through this dense filter made up of past experiences (our mind) into the future. This is why we continue to manifest repetitive patterns in our lives or still feel the same after something in our life situation changes (i.e. a new job, a new home, etc.). In effect, our judgments and preconceived notions are creating our future to be just as it was in the past.

Judging others based on our preconceived notions is one of the major obstacles we have to obtaining happiness, but it is what we have relied on our whole lives to bring about just that. So how do we overcome this habitual practice of judging everyone and everything that comes into our lives and break free of the past? Well, it doesn’t happen overnight, at least not for most, but there are some basic practices you can start right now that make it happen.

First, start becoming aware of your own judgements when they occur. Realize that they are based on preconceived notions that you still hold to be the truth. Then, realize that not everyone sees the world the same way you do. In fact, there is no limit to the level of differentiation among people. We are all as unique as our fingerprints. And no two life situations (past or present) are the same even if you are brought up in the same household as another. However, if you look deeper than the outer layer you will see that we are all exactly alike. We have all created our way in the world with the hope that we will find true happiness. That’s all anyone wants. And we do what we do, say what we say, act the way we act because our preconceived notions (and ego) tell us that is the best way to bring about happiness. Therefore, the judgement you place on someone else could just as accurately be placed on yourself (i.e. “Look at that fool, he/she thinks what they are doing will make them happy.”).

This practice will help you eliminate judgement and unlock the door to true happiness. However, there are a few other pointers that might help here. It all starts with this: practice being the watcher, or listener, of the thoughts in your head. Pay attention as often as you can to the thoughts in your head. At first you can use key events as reminders to pay attention to your thoughts. For example, when you find yourself judging a person or event, or you find yourself formulating an opinion on a subject, or when you find yourself defending an opinion or getting upset, just pay attention to the thoughts. Don’t judge yourself for having the thoughts, just listen impartially. If you find yourself just having internal conversations about random things (as I find myself doing a lot) just bring your awareness to the thoughts and don’t beat yourself up for having such trivial thoughts. They are not trivial when you are shed the light of your awareness on them.

You can also do this when engaged in conversations with other people. Instead of constantly thinking of what they are saying has to do with you and how you are going to respond, just listen to them with your full attention. All of this can be called practicing presence or mindfulness and is the first step in awakening, which releases you from the control the past has over you. I think you will like the results, but I’d love to hear how it goes.
All the best,

PS - If you are interested in space photos, this link has some great pictures taken from the Hubble telescope. These images are truly humbling and magnificent. Once you realize how tiny our galaxy is compared to the size of the universe (full of 100s of billions of galaxies, each with billions of solar systems like ours), it might make your mind made problems seem pretty insignificant after all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's About Time

I hope you are enjoying everything you are engaged in on a daily basis and bringing more awareness to the thoughts rolling around in your head. If you are, I’m sure you have noticed some very interesting things about how your mind works. One of the things I’m noticing is how much time I spend thinking about something that has already happened or thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet (and may not even happen). It’s interesting to witness what happens when you become the witness of these thoughts rather than being completely immersed in them. I’ll share more about this at a later present moment (see below to understand), but in the mean “time” I wanted to share a few things about time that might interest you.

I’ve been reading this interesting book called Exploring the Sky (Richard Moreshl) which has quite a few projects involving the objects in space we see from Earth, as well as historic information about how ancient people used the sky to guide them. So far there is a lot of information about how the passage of time was determined based on the changes observed in the stars, moon, sun, and various other objects. One project in the book involved building a nocturnal time piece which consists of a circle with tick marks for months and hours along with a couple pointers. To use it you center the hole in the center with the North Star and line up the markers with two stars in the Big Dipper and you can tell what month and hour it is (in the Northern Hemisphere).

There is a great deal written about the evolution of other time keeping devices as well. One thing that I found interesting is that minutes were not measured on clocks until a little over 300 years ago. Imagine a life without minutes :) Prior to that only hours were tracked and before that only days, etc. It’s obvious from what I have read so far that human fascination with time has been around for thousands of years. But I thought it was all summed up nicely by a quote in the book taken from H. W. Longfellow:

The shadow on the dial
The striking of the clock
The running of the sand
Day and Night, Summer and Winter
Months, Years, Centuries–
These are but arbitrary and
outward signs, the measure
of time, not time itself.
Time is the life of the Soul.

To me this means that time is but a figment of our imagination that helps us organize our lives. In this context, time is equated to the eternal and inseparable part of our essence. Time is just a label we put on the ever changing present moment we find ourselves in.

As Eckhart Tolle likes to point out, nothing ever happened in the past. It happened in the now. Nothing will ever happen in the future. It will happen in the now. Everything always happens in the present moment. Even if you experience something 20 years from now, you will be experiencing it in the present moment. As you can see, this makes the present moment ever lasting and all you will ever have. So why not enjoy it?

If you are still unsure about how you can enjoy the present moment and still get things done that you need to get done, I suggest the book I have been suggesting for a while now, Practicing the Power of Now (or even The Power of Now), as it clearly addresses these issues. However, I will also continue to share my own observations on how you can bring your awareness back to the present moment to make the most of the only thing you will ever have. More to come...
All my best,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

It's all necessary

I wanted to share something with you that I have trouble remembering in my daily life, but when I do remember it life becomes much more pleasant all the way around. If you can remember this always, I think you will see the same results I do.

Everything that is happening right now, to you as well as anywhere in the world, is absolutely necessary for our evolution, and evolution is absolutely necessary for our very survival. Therefore, everything happening right now is critical to our survival, as was everything that ever happened in the past. It’s all necessary and accepting the necessity of it is the key to transcending pain and suffering.

This does not mean you have to sit back and do nothing about what’s going on. Quite the contrary. When something happens that you see as being wrong, the first step is to accept that it is happening or has happened rather than just reacting to it. Once you have accepted what is happening, you can decide to act to rectify the situation and your actions will be to be magnified in their intensity and effectiveness. This is because you will not be acting from a place of frustration, resistance, and negativity, which taints your actions with negativity. Instead you will be reacting from a place of non-judging acceptance and understanding, which by itself radiates a kind of peacefulness and power. In short, acceptance is the key to it all.
Take care,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Power of Gratitude

I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the beautiful weather that Spring is bringing. I want to say something that I’ve been wanting to say for a while, which involves sending you all gifts. If you have not already read or listened to one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, I want to mail you a copy of one that is continuing to help me see the world in new and inspiring ways: “Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from The Power of Now.”

Just email me your mailing address and indicate whether you want the book or the audio book. I will mail you a copy free of charge for you to share amongst your friends. I know many of you will be reluctant to accept this offer, so just consider it me loaning it to you for an undefined period of time, like Net Flix or the library or a no obligation free trial offer (if you’re not satisfied, return it and pay nothing ;) It is great stuff and I want everyone to be a part of the experience.

Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to share with you a quote from the book I’ve been going on about (Practicing the Power of Now).

“[M]any people are waiting for prosperity, but it can not come in the future. When you honor, acknowledge, and fully accept your present reality – where you are, who you are, what you are doing right now – when you fully accept what you have got, you are grateful for what is, grateful for Being. Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future. Then, in time, that prosperity manifests for you in various ways.”

This speaks volumes about the power of gratitude, which I have mentioned in a previous post. What it also does, is illustrates the essence of the Law of Attraction, which has been getting a lot of media attention of late. If you want more things in your life to be grateful for, then you need to be grateful for what you have now. Soon you will be given more reasons to be truly grateful. Said another way, if you want something, ‘be’have as if you already have it and it will be yours.

With this in mind, I would also like to share with you a very powerful gratitude experiment. It is amazing how powerfully just feeling grateful can be, and so you can see for yourself I have included something called the “Ecstasy and the Heart” exercise below. It will explain what to do in detail as I have included it in it’s entirety.

If at first something to be grateful for does not come to you, here are a few things I like to use just to get the gratitude flowing. I am grateful to be alive today, grateful my heart is pumping, grateful for all of my family members, grateful for having a roof over my head, grateful for everything I have ever experienced, grateful for all of the friends I have, grateful for being who I am, grateful for Being, etc. You don’t need to go through a list, but if you do the following exercise I think you will feel great and want to do it more and more. Feel free to share how it feels. I hope you enjoy.
Take care,

Ecstasy and the Heart
Hathor Channeling
We wish to speak with you in this section concerning the generation of ecstasy through focusing on the heart. We do not speak of the heart chakra in this instance, but rather we refer to the physical heart, the heart muscle itself.

This technique involves your focus, or attention, joined with the emotion of gratitude, or appreciation—which ever you prefer to use.

As soon as you focus your attention on the heart, you may notice a flow of subtle energy.

From our perspective, your focus of attention operates much like the central point of an energy vortex. This is especially true within your physical body and the field surrounding your body—your energy field—what the ancients called the aura.

Your ability to create a focus of attention is not just a cerebral, or brain, activity. It is an activity on many levels of consciousness. Wherever you place you attention within your body, or within the energy field of your body, there is an immediate flow of subtle energy to that point, or area, which has an enlivening effect upon the cells of your body, and/or the luminous light fibers that comprise your energy body.

Your focus, indeed, creates a warping effect at the subatomic levels, what you might call quantum field effects. These field-effects create distinct flows of energy, geometry and harmonics within you.

To alter the quantum field through the power of your focus is an important ability we urge you to master. Its applications are numerous, the cultivation of ecstasy being just one of them.

In this method, you use this ability to hold focus or attention, joined with the emotion of appreciation or gratitude. These two emotions have a coherent effect upon your energy field and upon the rhythmic magnetic emanations of your physical heart. This combination of focus and coherent emotion can be used to generate high states of ecstasy.

As we have said previously, the generation of ecstatic states of consciousness is an important evolutionary catalyst. We strongly suggest that you learn to create states of ecstasy throughout your day.

We realize that, for many of you, your daily life may not be conducive to the cultivation of such states, but we urge you to find times throughout your day where you can practice attaining these states for at least a few minutes at a time. A little bit of time spent in ecstasy is better than no time at all.

This practice will set up a harmonic or a relationship with the Earth, as a conscious living being, and with the harmonic waves of catalytic evolution that are flowing through your galaxy.

In this technique you focus your attention on the physical heart. As you focus your attention on this area, you generate the feeling of appreciation or gratitude. It is not the thought of appreciation or gratitude—but rather the emotion. In this method, thought will not activate the subtle energies needed to generate ecstasy—only feeling is capable of activating the energy vortices within you.

As you focus on the physical heart and generate the feeling of appreciation, or gratitude, a waveform of energy begins to flow throughout the body—carried by the magnetic fields of the heart, which emanate outward from the physical heart to encompass your entire body. As the flow of energy begins throughout the body, there is a spontaneous arising of ecstasy—cellular ecstasy.

Experiment with this technique. Sense what happens in your body as you focus upon your heart and generate these feelings of appreciation and gratitude. Physically feel what seems to be happening at the cellular level as the one trillion (or so) cells of your body receive this coherent energy of gratitude or appreciation.

Once you have established the ability to create ecstasy as described above, and once you are able to generate ecstasy whenever you desire it—at will—begin to experiment with your energy field—what some call the subtle energy body.

In working with this method your attention is, again, on the heart, generating feelings of appreciation and gratitude. And as you sense ecstasy beginning to arise in your body, you shift your attention to the field around your body. This field of energy looks very much like a luminous egg when viewed clairvoyantly. The wide part of this luminous egg shape is up around the shoulders and the more narrow part is around the feet. There is a central line or axis that runs through the center of this field, and it happens to also run through the center of your physical body—through the top of the head and down through the perineum. This line is the central axis of the magnetic field that comprises the subtle energy body. This body, or field, extends above the head and below the feet a few inches, to a several feet, or even yards. In certain highly charged energy states, the axis and subtle energy body can expand much farther than that.

By shifting your attention to this central axis and to the field surrounding your body, you allow the ecstasy to move out from the physical body into the field. This is very positive and creates powerful harmonic patterns that bring you into resonance with the waveforms of accelerated evolution that are flowing through your galaxy.

Do not underestimate the powers of this technique. Though it is very simple, it is profound and effective. It will bring you into a higher state of resonance and vibration. And this is, from our perspective, crucial in order to pass through the energetic portals and transformational energies that your Earth is now experiencing and will continue to experience.

There are things we would like to say to you about your nature and your destiny, but they would, most likely, not be understood by you unless you are, at the very least, in a state of ecstasy.

This is because the reference point for consciousness is established not only by belief, but also by one's emotional harmonics. And without you being in a state of ecstasy, it would be like trying to describe a sunrise to a blind person who does not have the ability to directly perceive what you are talking about. To such a person it would be a make-believe world you are describing. But if suddenly this person could see, he or she could sense the sun directly and verify that your description of the world was accurate. And what was once deemed to be in the realm of myth will now be seen as real.

And so we leave you in this moment with what may seem like a myth, but which we hold as self-evident. You are creator beings in the midst of creating your future and the future of generations yet to come. You hold within your heart a key to the Mystery of Mysteries. And the threshold, the opening into this mystery is through your capacity to enter ecstasy. Be bold and find your path, your way of living upward into this elevated state of being. Do know, however, the ecstasy is not the end of the way. It is simply the beginning.

Try the method we have laid out for you here. Experiment with the methods we have given earlier and that we will give in the near future. Enter ecstasy whenever you can. Know that when do so, you enter into communion with all the elevated beings and masters who have served and who are serving humanity. Know that when you do so, you enter into communion with your Self.

In joy and laughter.
The Hathors
©copyright Tom Kenyon, All Rights Reserved, 2005
This article may be copied and shared as long as nothing is changed and Tom Kenyon is credited along with the web site

Friday, April 20, 2007

Guns, abortion, drugs, ego

I hope all of you all are doing well. I wanted to let you know, in case my last email left you wondering, I am still working on being fully present and aware. It is very easy to get sucked back into the old way of life because it has thirty years of momentum behind it. But I am celebrating the successes I have and making progress.

It has been a very long time since I wrote anything of a political nature, though that is what I spent a great deal of time doing before epilepsy changed my life's course a few years ago. However, after I received a recent invitation from one of the the Asheville Citizen Times editors on the subject of gun control, it struck a chord that needed to be strummed. In case you're wondering, I'm on a list of people who has published a number of editorials and letters and we get invitations to write on various current events.

I thought this issue might provide a nice segway to a cause that is near and dear to me so I sent in an editorial (see below). I don't think they are going to run it, but I wanted to share it with others who might find themselves being sucked into the gun control debate all over again. Let me know what you think either at the blog ( or via email.
Take care,

After the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech, the gun control debate has been forced back into the limelight. Those calling for stricter gun laws have very pure intentions. They want to save lives and they see stricter laws as a means to that end. However, these same individuals also tend to be on the pro choice side of the abortion debate. Not because they see abortion as the preferred method of birth control, but because they know that outlawing abortion will not make abortion go away. If abortion were made illegal in this country, a huge black market of underground clinics would open with no regulatory oversight. The number of do it yourself procedures would also increase dramatically. That may or may not mean fewer abortions (there would be no way to know) but the mortality rate of mothers in need of an abortion would certainly go up.

A similar thing happens when we make guns harder to get. The black market for gun traffickers grows dramatically. Where there is a will there is a way, even if there is a law against it. One can only debate as to whether stricter gun laws would have prevented the Virginia Tech massacre, but I suspect he would have found a gun one way or another (people with criminal intentions tend to be quite determined). In fact, being forced into black market venues opens up whole new worlds of outlawed firearms to choose from.

What we have now is a regulated gun market that requires certain conditions be met before someone can purchase a gun. It doesn’t guarantee that individuals will obtain the gun legally or that they will not commit a crime with a gun they obtain legally. What it does do is prevents us from starting another black market war we can not win, like the current war on drugs. The war on drugs costs our nation tens of billions of dollars a year and results in untold number of deaths on both sides.

In short, if you want to focus your energy on saving lives in the wake of this tragedy, start at the source of the problem: the Ego. Ego is the source of all of the pain and suffering in the world. Our ego is what makes us believe we are right and those who disagree are wrong. It makes us blame others for our unhappiness and try to escape blame for anything that goes wrong. It makes us feel like victims of others. It causes us to project our feelings onto others and take everything projected onto us personally. It also lashes out at others who threaten our way of life or who do something to cause us pain. Thus, it creates a continuous cycle that feeds our ego just the right levels of righteous indignation and/or self pity. The only real difference is that some people have very strong egos, which lend toward physical violence (directed outward or inward), and others have weaker egos, which tend toward psychological attacks (directed outward or inward).

Once you realize the power ego currently has over all of us, you realize that you no longer have to be its victim. You no longer have to find someone to blame when something goes wrong. You see that we are all victims of not knowing any better when we are acting out of ego. You control whether you listen to it or not. This means your happiness is your choice and not someone else’s. Your misery is your fault, no one else’s. Ego transcendence is the way to free yourself and your fellow human beings of their misery.

If any of these words moved you in any way, either made you want to debate me and point out the ways in which I am wrong, or made you want to tell others about it, take the next step. Look up “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and see if there’s anything to all this ego talk. I can guarantee it will set you free.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The World Revolves Around Me

I’ve caught myself a few times lately doing something I think I have been doing all of my life (thanks to my increased level of mindfulness): Looking for reasons for everything. After finding myself doing it, I discovered why it is I seem to always be looking for reasons. The bottom line of the search seems to be to find something to blame (call it attribute if you like) for that phenomena. Or, possibly to escape blaming myself for that particular event. At first I thought I was just a pattern searcher, but then I realized that the pattern I was seeking had that common thread. I wanted to discover why something is the way it is so that I could rest assured that it’s not my fault.

Well, I don’t do that anymore. I have now come to the realization that the entire world already revolves around me. I am the cause behind every event in my life. These different forms that come into my awareness all day long are all being put there by me. And, they are being put there because they are exactly what I need to encounter in order to increase my level of awareness. For the past thirty plus years I have not been giving each event its due, but I am now.

Since I have no one else to blame for anything that happens to me, I am now free to use each life event to get me further down the path I am traveling, rather than getting bogged down in the search for ways to ensure I’m right and something else is wrong. A great weight has been lifted and I now see the world through different colored glasses. Ones that are not tinted by the film of self- rightfulness. I am now grateful for every event that happens to me knowing that there are no “bad” things.

When confronted by a difficult situation, I will be looking for the lessons I have not yet learned from countless previous encounters with that situation. I will be grateful for the opportunity to respond appropriately this time, and therefore grateful for everything that happens to me at every turn. I will also do my best to help others along if they are in need of help because that is ultimately what I feel drawn to do.

I will take every ache, pain, misstep, awkward moment, pause, negative emotion, naughty thought, as well as every peaceful moment or beautiful scene as a reminder to be present in this moment and practice acceptance for all that is. I will not judge myself harshly when I fail to live up to the high standard I have set and will treat myself compassionately if I find my mind wandering counterproductively. I will also treat others with that same level of compassion with which I treat myself, knowing that they too are human.

I will sit with and observe each negative emotion that occurs in my life from the standpoint of the observer behind my thoughts, because I know this to be the way to make negativity dissolve. For there are no negative situations, only negative thoughts about situations.

All of the pain and anger in the world is simply a mental position being perpetually fed by all that information we amass regarding who is to blame for what, while we maintain our own secure place of always being right. I am no longer afraid to be wrong and admit it even when I know I’m not, because I know that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter. So what and big deal will be the things I say to the things that used to get me worked up, because I am the one who gave them power over me.

In short, I’m free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last!

After I wrote that, I cried and laughed at the same time and felt too moved to go back and fix any typos. I hope you enjoy.

Peace, love, and happiness (they are yours if you want them)
I would like to say a special thank you to Eckhart Tolle for sharing his message with the world and doing it in such a simple and powerful way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Simple Tools

We had a good discussion in the book group meeting I attend on Monday night. We each discussed some of our favorites off of David Hawkins 10 Simple Tools list (see list below). The idea is basically to pick one of these tools that resonates with you and apply it in your everyday life for a period of time and enjoy the results. In my last email I mentioned applying acceptance and the importance of that. Number 5 in the list below is basically the same concept because it involves forgiving everything that is witnessed.

I got to use a couple of them today while spending a brief while outside enjoying a beautiful Spring day. I was listening birds sing as well as the heavy earth moving equipment going back and forth on the mountain behind our house. Then rumble of the engine was easy enough to overlook but it was combined with periodic beeping noises when the equipment began backing up.

In order to come to terms with the constant beeping noise and the peace it had the potential to disturb if I allowed it to, I decided to find the beauty in the noise (number 4 below). It was not hard at all. All I had to do was imagine how many lives were lost in construction related accidents from people being backed over by drivers who could not see them. Once I began to appreciate how many lives have been spared as a result of this simple invention, I began to really appreciate and accept the noise as a wonderful thing.

Once I came in and looked at the daily quote from the Dalai Lama, I saw how appropriate it all was. “To deepen your gratitude toward all people, it is helpful to reflect on the unintended kindness of those who provide goods and services without necessarily knowing the names or faces of those whom they serve. In this life there are so many facilities we enjoy–nice buildings, roads, and so forth–that are produced by other people.”

I have become quite proficient at seeing the good in people and can easily think of the positive things that can result from disastrous events, which makes everything easier to accept. The tools below are great and you might end up using one or more of them as the situation determines. They really drive home the importance of the unconditionalness required to find true peace within yourself. I hope you enjoy.
Take care,
PS - If you catch yourself judging someone or something harshly, look for something to be grateful for so that you can fully accept it. Then be grateful for the opportunity to live up to your life’s challenge.

1. Be kind to everything and everyone, including oneself, all the time, with no exception.

2. Revere all of life in all its expressions, no matter what, even if one does not understand it.

3. Presume no actual reliable knowledge of anything at all. Ask God [higher self, all that is, etc.] to reveal its meaning.

4. Intend to see the hidden beauty of all that exists–it then reveals itself.

5. Forgive everything that is witnessed and experienced, no matter what. Remember Christ, Buddha, and Krishna all said that all error is due to ignorance. Socrates said all men can choose only what they believe to be the good.

6. Approach all of life with humility and be willing to surrender all positionalities and mental/emotional arguments or gain.

7. Be willing to forgo all perceptions of gain, desire, or profit and thereby be willing to be of selfless service to life in all of its expressions.

8. Make one’s life a living prayer by intention, alignment, humility, and surrender. True spiritual reality is actually a way of being n the world.

9. By verification, confirm the levels of consciousness and spiritual truth of all teachers, teachings, spiritual groups, and literature with which one intends to be aligned or a student.

10. Accept that by spiritual declaration, commitment, and surrender, Knowingness arises that provides support, information, and all that is needed for the entire journey.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Let me start by saying that “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is a book that I strongly urge everyone in the world read or listen to (I’ve listened to it twice now). I’ve been doing some very thorough reading for the last two years, and this work presents everything you need to know in a concise and easy to understand way, with specific techniques to practice in your daily life. It will change your life (and the lives of the people around you) for the better.

Having said all that, let me do my best to give you some helpful tid bits I’ve learned from it and some of Tolle’s other works. Please don’t take my words as a substitute for getting a copy of this book (in print or audio) as Tolle does a much better job at explaining it all.

Acceptance is the key to eliminating all of the pain, suffering, frustration, annoyance, etc. in your life. You may have a relatively happy life, but if you are like most people and experience periods of time when you are dissatisfied in some way, shape, or form, it is a sign that you have not fully accepted “what is” in your life. Pain and suffering are caused by nonacceptance. If you are ready to be free of negativity, it’s time to start practicing acceptance. I’ve been doing it for the last week or two and experiencing some very positive transformations. I’ve also realized that acceptance is a prerequisite to experiencing compassion because you can’t feel compassion toward someone or something that you have not fully accepted for who or what it is.

Before I continue, do not mistake acceptance for becoming complacent. Just because you accept something does not mean you can not take action to make changes. You are not accepting a situation, you are accepting the “isness” of the current moment. Since you are powerless to change what has happened, you can either react to it out of resistence (if you have not accepted it for what it is) or you can react to it from a place of acceptance, which leads you to a much more insightful and positive action (as opposed to a programmed reaction). Say yes to what is, then take action. Surrender to the way things are “in this moment” without judgment and inner peace naturally manifests.

For example, we have several dogs and a new foster puppy who needs to be house trained. So, when the puppy poops in the house, I don’t accept that there is poop in the house and leave it there. I accept that it has happened and take the necessary steps to fix the situation without judging myself or my wife for allowing it to happen. Taking steps to fix the problem from a place of acceptance makes cleaning up poop a much more tolerable task.

When you experience conditions in your life that seem to limit you in some way, realize that these are concealed openings into the formless state of peace for which you have been searching all these years (whether you realize it yet or not). Be grateful when you experience another frustration, because you have been given yet another opportunity to practice acceptance. I know it sounds crazy to some of you who have a very challenging time, so it’s important to start this practice with the little things in life that frustrate you.

You will begin to notice that there are recurring things in your life that cause you frustration, and will continue to do so until you accept them and deal with them from a state of acceptance. When an opportunity arises to practice acceptance, notice how you feel (angry, sad, lonely, worried, etc.) and recognize it without judging yourself for feeling that way. This puts you in the place of who you truly are: the consciousness behind your thoughts, the silent observer. This opens the door for you to be more mindful of how your mind works and increases your awareness.

One final thing to remember in all of this involves staying present, or in the now. Stay out of the past and the future as often as possible when time is not necessary for practical purposes. Clock time involves setting a goal and focusing on each step as you work toward that goal and letting go of the outcome. Psychological time is the compulsive projection on the future goal and all of the possible outcomes (something I catch myself doing fairly often). We tend to use our past to create our identity and look toward the future for fulfillment, but remaining in the present brings us a sense of freedom. It takes practice to stay present, but I have seen first hand the positive impacts it can have.

As Tolle says, don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself. You will likely see that surrender to what is will transform you, which will in turn transform the world around you. You will naturally begin to attract less negativity as you free yourself from the power it has over you. Realize that most people around you have no choice in what they do because they are in a mindless state (as we all are most of the time) and your resentment will disappear.

Get “Practicing the Power of Now” and listen to it or read it, and apply it in your daily life. In the meantime, share with me your questions or comments. I’m going through these changes now and may be of at least some help in clarifying what I have discussed here.
Peace be with you Now,

Monday, February 26, 2007

Allowing Peace

For those of you who are interested in obtaining an unprecedented level of internal peace, which would thereby create an environment of peace around you and ripple outward, I find the words of Eckhart Tolle quite simple and to the point. I’m finding myself fully in the present more and more often these days, but still being sucked into the old patterns of habitual reactions. Practice makes perfect as they say.

Tolle’s website has numerous interviews that I am still reading through, but I have found his words to be quite powerful (especially when listened to on audio). To paraphrase what is quoted from an interview below, if you just accept everything that happens to you without judgment, you no longer get upset when things don’t go your way. When you just do your best and release your attachment to the outcome, it brings about an inner peace that dissolves all of your worries and anxieties about what the future may bring.

So next time you find yourself being cut off in traffic, spoken harshly to by someone, or in some other way hampered by events or other people, remember that everything happens of its own accord and that the majority of people are just going through life with blinders on, cruising on an autopilot programmed by their past experiences. They are not fully aware of the effect they have on the rest of the world as of yet and can not help doing what they do. It’s not your job to fix them when it happens, just to accept them for who they are and not take it personally. You will begin to feel more at peace and an increased level of happiness if you begin to practice what is suggested below. I know I have.

In the meantime, feel free to share this message with anyone you think might like the message it conveys, and/or email me with your feedback. I hope you have a great week and enjoy life and all it has to offer all of the time.
Take care,

The Power of Now and the End of Suffering

Sounds True (ST): Being "in the present" sounds so obvious, and yet is quite hard to sustain. Do you have any practical tips for people for maintaining awareness of the present moment?

Eckhart Tolle (ET): Although the old consciousness or rather unconsciousness still has considerable momentum and to a large extent still runs this world, the new awakened consciousness – presence – has already began to emerge in many human beings. In my book The Power of Now, I mention ways in which you can maintain present moment awareness, but the main thing is to allow this new state of consciousness to emerge rather then believe that you have to try hard to make it happen. How do you allow it to emerge? Simply by allowing this moment to be as it is. This means to relinquish inner resistance to what is – the suchness of now. This allows life to unfold beautifully. There is no greater spiritual practice than this.

ST: How much time and effort is required to realize "the power of now?" Can this really occur in an instant or is this the work of a lifetime?

ET: The power of now can only be realized now. It requires no time and effort. Effort means you’re trying hard to get somewhere, and so you are not present, welcoming this moment as it is.

Whereas it requires no time to awaken – you can only awaken now – it does take time before you can stay awake in all situations. Often you may find yourself being pulled back into old conditioned reactive patterns, particularly when faced with the challenges of daily living and of relationships. You lose the witnessing presence and become identified again with the "voice in the head," the continuous stream of thoughts, with its labels, judgments and opinions. You no longer know that they are only labels, judgments, and mental positions (opinions) – but completely believe in them. And so you create conflict. And then you suffer. And that suffering wakes you up again. Until presence becomes your predominant state, you may find yourself moving back and forth for a while between the old consciousness and the new, between mind identification and presence. "How long is it going to take?" is not a good question to ask. It makes you lose the now.