Monday, November 24, 2008

And the Story Goes On

Hey guys,
I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather and the sky that gets larger as the leaves on trees disappear. I wanted to pass this along as an invitation to take some time for personal investigation. I almost called this one “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It” but opted for something a bit simpler.

Byron Katie likes to ask, “Who would you be without your story?” In fact, that’s the name of her newest book. Eckhart Tolle tells us that “You are not your story.” I recommend spending some time looking at what who you are without your story. Seeing yourself without your story involves dropping your past. If you set aside all of the ideas of who you are, who are you? Where are you? What are you doing here? What is all this?

It’s a return to innocence we are talking about here. If you have kids, or watched children, then you have vicariously witnessed what the world looks like to someone who has no preconceived notion of what it is they are looking at. The fascination with the world around them is present without the mental constructs and labels grown ups have. It’s joyful to watch an infant looking out at the world with a sense of awe. That’s our true nature, but we lose site of it along the way as we carve out identities for ourselves and for others.

You are not your name. When that idea first came to me it was a bit shocking. It was as if the question, “Who would you be without your story?” had taken on a new depth to it. Before, I was Trey looking at who Trey would be without his story. Then, all of the sudden, I had to take Trey out of it. If I’m not my name, who am I? We’re so attached to our names, because we have been called by them all our lives, that we don’t even realize that who we are is far more than just a name.

What was it before you knew what it was? Look at anything around you and ask yourself, “What was that before I knew what it was?” There was a time when you didn’t know what it was. What was it then? It must have been a complete mystery. Just as the infant looks on the world with the same curiosity and wonder, you can look at that with the same nameless sense of wonder that permeates everything we have come to know.

Throughout each day, we are adding to and narrating our story. Our minds are like story tellers weaving a tale about everything that pops up in our life. I’m constantly telling stories in my head. In fact, for each one of the blogs I actually write up and send out, I mentally write half a dozen. My mind is busy writing instead of Being a great deal of the time. Or it’s caught in a vicious, repetitive, ego dominated conversation with someone who’s not there. When I realize it’s happening I have a choice to either stop the story, or just notice that it’s going on. But I still get sucked into my story over an over again.

Recently I started compiling my past blog posts into one big journal. I’ve been writing these for the past few years and decided I would put them all together into a book. It was beneficial for me to go back and read what I had once written, but in the process of compiling them I realized that I was contributing to the story of the guy who shares these ideas, insights and teachings with others, still seeing myself as my own mind made identity (or the “little me” as some have called it).

Why not just stop telling my story? In my case I think it’s my mind’s self-defense mechanism. When I am setting aside my story, dropping my thoughts, becoming present, connecting with the witnessing presence underneath, becoming still, allowing everything to be as it is (however you want to state it), the mind tends to come in with an attempt to describe it, or grasp it, thereby ensuring its survival. It is attached to the story and doesn’t want to let go. Who would I be without everything I hold as true? It’s a bit scary so the mind starts seeking and the story is then reborn. In fact, the story of the little me who can not see my true nature due to my attachment to my story, is yet just another layer to the story. Raman Maharshi said, “The only blockage to self realization is the idea that there is a blockage. You already are what you are seeking.”

I believe this is a quote by Papaji but I did not cite it when I wrote it down. “So put your story away. It is not who you are. People usually live carrying a burden of past and future, a burden of their personal history, which they hope will fulfill itself in the future. It won’t, so roll up that old scroll. Be done with it.” Gangaji invites us not to deny the story, but not to indulge the story either, and take an opportunity to see what is untouched by the story.

Byron Katie tells us, “We do only three things in life: We sit, we stand, and we lie horizontal. That’s about it. Everything else is a story.” The story is sticky because we’ve been telling it for so long, but what we truly are is far more substantial than just a name or a history or a set of beliefs. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself who you would be without a story. See what the things around you would be without a story.
In peace,
The story formerly known as Trey ;)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Political Correctness

This post was written prior to the election, As a post election note - I was over joyed to see Obama win the election in a landslide. These are some truly historic times we are all living in. I feel so lucky to be here to witness it.

Dear friends,

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful time of year. The Fall colors are in full force. The air is crisp. The insects that have been providing songs all Summer long are growing quiet. The nights are getting longer. But there is something else in the air. The impending election and financial crisis has a lot of people on edge. Politics seems to be on everyone’s mind and is the subject of many conversations. All while activists on both sides are doing their best to help ensure their candidate wins.

I have tried not to get sucked in by all of the drama, but I’ve watched a debate or two and listened to a few news stories. What I see is different people who have different ideas about what is best for our country. What I also see is negative light being cast on those who have a different idea about what’s best for our country. “I’m right,” “No, I’m right,” seems to be the easiest way to sum it all up.

Regardless of what our political views are, we think they are right, otherwise we would not cling to those views. When these beliefs are held too tightly, it results in negatively judging those who do not agree. Often times people will go to great extremes to prove they are right and the other person is wrong. This is what wars are fought over. In fact, the ego can’t even entertain the possibility that our beliefs might be wrong.

The interesting thing about it is that no one can really be impartial or unbiased if they are clinging to beliefs. Everything they hear is colored by their beliefs. We only hear what we want to hear, which reinforces the belief that we are right. The spin doctor in the head (the ego) is being fed by the spin doctors of the candidates and the media (their egos).

I have not been very politically active since I became diagnosed with epilepsy, and found a new path to follow. If you haven’t heard the story before, I had my first grand mal seizure, which led to my diagnosis, on November 7, 2004 (my anniversary is coming up). I had just learned that John Kerry had conceded the Presidential election before all of the votes in Florida had been counted. I was quite shocked, and as I went into the kitchen to tell my wife, I seized. A while later in the ER, I was told I had had a seizure. Prior to that event, I was an avid Bush hater (though I’m not now), and had been very politically active since the 2000 election. So, this was a bit of a climactic experience that made me realize there is more to life than politics.

Needless to say, I am familiar with all of the frustration people have about politics. But I was lucky enough to have my priorities set straight after the last Presidential election. I now see how harmful this animosity for opposing views can be to everyone involved. I may have my own ideas about who might be best suited to run the country for the next four years, but I see both candidates as people who want to win for what they perceive to be the greater good. I no longer have any animosity for anyone, and know that it’s arrogant of me to think that I know what’s best.

I thought I would leave you with some lyrics from a Michael Franti (of Spearhead) song entitled “Is Love Enough” that seems well suited for this occasion. May we all remain open to the possibility that our ideas about what’s best may not be what is best after all.
In peace,

We want freedom of speech
but we all talkin' at the same time
We say we want peace
but nobody wants to change their own mind

And So it goes on and on and on and on and on
for a thousand years
A thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears
are your Tears

Everybody wants to live the life of kings and queens
but nobody wants to stay and plow the fields
Everybody wants to tell their neighbors how to live
but nobody wants to listen to how they feel

And So it goes on and on and on and on and on
for a thousand years
A thousand years I say
And it goes on and on and on and on and on
What language are your tears
are your Tears

What I got to say right now
is love enough, yeah
love enough, yeah
love enough
or can you love some more...

Friday, September 19, 2008

We Only Hurt the Ones We Love

About a month or so ago, I was at the DMV getting my driver’s license renewed. As is common there was a fairly long wait. I was sitting there, observing my surroundings and meditating a bit. A man and woman came in and sat down across from me with their son (maybe 4 or 5 years old). The boy was interested in exploring a bit, but not straying far from his parents. The father decided the boy should be sitting in a chair next to him rather than wandering about. After the boy was placed in his chair, he got bored and got up to stand in front of his chair. The father gently popped his behind and told him to sit down. The boy really didn’t want to so the father decided it was time for some disciplinary action because the boy was not obeying. So, the man took the boy by the arm and walked him down a hallway to spank him. The boy knew what was coming and started to cry, causing much more disturbance than the boy was causing before.

When they came back the boy was sniffling a bit and the father placed him in the chair next to him. The boy got up and wanted to go sit on the other side next to his mother. The father was insistent that the boy sit next to him (the mother was reading something and not getting involved). When the boy went to sit next to his mother, against his father’s wishes, the man took the boy again by the arm down the hall. This time the boy was crying much louder than before and trying to pull away. He said through his tears, “I just want to be good.” Despite the boy’s plea, the father proceeded to take him down the hall and discipline him. It was very heart breaking and frustrating to watch.

When they came back the boy went over and sat by his mother, which was allowed this time. Meanwhile, I was grappling with my own emotions over what I had witnessed. I felt extreme compassion for the little boy who was just trying to be good. But I was having problems having compassion for the father. I thought about how this man was probably raised the same way and was under the impression this was the best way to raise a child. I thought about how this child’s karmic disposition placed him in this situation to somehow shape his life in unimaginably positive ways. I thought about the mother who stayed out of it the whole time, wondering if she had been taught by her husband not to get involved.

Despite all of this, I was still feeling anger toward the man. I tried doing The Work in my mind which lead me to remember something Byron Katie said in one of her books. She was asked how she would react if she saw a mother in a store abusing her children in some way. Katie said that she would see that and remember a time when she too felt that way, angry and confused at her children, lashing out at them. She said she might approach the woman with a deep compassion and ask if she could help, or even tell the woman that she too had been in her situation.

Since I have never been a parent I couldn’t quite identify from that perspective. But then it hit me. A few days earlier, my wife Shelby, and I were out running some errands. We had stopped at a store and I was going to run in for something. Shelby asked me something about getting a bite to eat while we were out, and I said something out of frustration, dismissing the idea as I got out of the car. As I got into the store I was struck by what had just happened. I saw Shelby’s face and mood go from upbeat to defeated. I saw the smile disappear from her face. I almost started to cry when I replayed the scene in my head.

I thought to myself, “What have I done?” “How could I be so unfeeling?” “How many times have I done that and not realized it?” She was trying to be nice and I had just acted pissy. I basically reacted out of unconscious habit, which I’ve been doing most of my life, causing unnecessary suffering each time. This time I caught it and I felt the pain it caused. I got a glimpse of true compassion. When I got back to the car I apologized for my behavior and resumed the conversation I had so rudely cut off.

Once the memory of this came back to me at the DMV, I was able to look at the man and see myself in him. I have been just as abusive to my loved ones without knowing it. How could I condemn someone else for doing something I myself have done in one form or another? I then felt compassion for this man (who is me) hurting the one he loves most out of total unconsciousness. It makes me want to cry thinking back on it all.

In hindsight I can see clearly that we are all just trying to be good. But when we are punished for it we shut down. It’s a self defense mechanism to protect us from getting hurt again. We begin to put up barriers to prevent future pain, barriers which also cut us off from love.

I can look back and find countless ways in which I have hurt my loved ones, which can lead to deep feelings of guilt and shame. But guilt can be a teacher showing us that there is a better way. The better way is to become fully conscious of our habitual thoughts and transcend them. Be willing to drop the barriers we have put up. Find compassion for all of our fellow human beings.

Now, when I find myself judging someone else, I just take a quick look and see that I too have been just like that, felt just like that, acted just like that. I am no different from anyone else on this planet. I have no one left to judge but myself.
Lots of Love,

Friday, August 01, 2008

Out of Control

I hope you all are well. I'm sending this on the heels of the passing of my wife's uncle, who recently lost his battle with cancer. Since we have no control over when we die, what we do while we are here is always of the utmost importance. I hope the following will, in some way, help you enjoy your life to the fullest. After all, that's why I continue to share what I share.

One of the recurring themes in my readings and self inquiry lately has pointed me toward the idea that we are immersed in a continuous unfolding of events over which we have no control. What has been revealed to me more and more these days is that as things happen in our lives we impose thoughts on these happenings that make us think that we are somehow responsible for their occurrence. When in reality we can not know for sure, that we are actually responsible. It has been said many times by many different people that we are not the doer, nor are we the thinker. Our mind tells us that we are doing these things and can readily show us evidence of how true that is. But if you allow yourself to look deep enough to see the fallacy in that belief, you may get a glimpse of the freedom that can be experienced without that belief.

Byron Katie has this to say: “I invite everyone to notice where their hands are right now. Where their feet are right now and did you put them there? Did you plan it or was it a happening? You know, it could be that we are being done and everything else is just a story we’re believing and who would you be without your story? Not forever, but just right here, right now, in this moment, who would you be without your story?”

Our mind takes credit for what we do and may be uncomfortable with the idea that we are not the doer. It may think that it has to be a doer in order to get things done. The mind creates stories about what “it” does that just reinforce the illusion that the “it” doing things is the “me” I see myself as.

Jeannie Zandi poses these questions: “What if everything is always happening through you; not yours, not something you created? But is being created through you? What if it’s not up to you? What if it’s not even a little up to you?”

Eckhart Tolle points out that we are not the thinker. Instead we are being thought. In fact, our thoughts are not personal and have nothing to do with who we really are. They just arise and then disappear. When we believe them, we see ourselves as separate entities rather than the animating force behind our thoughts. His suggestion is to not take our thoughts all that seriously. Tolle also suggests that you can “choose” to step out of identification with the mind and into presence. But what is really happening when you choose to be present, is that presence is choosing to emerge. It appears that the little “me” is choosing it, but it is happening by itself. He points out that it is helpful to think that you are making it happen even though it is happening by itself through you.

Katie also has this to say, “Being present means living without control and always having your needs met. For people who are tired of the pain, nothing could be worse than trying to control what can’t be controlled. If you want real control, drop the illusion of control. Let life live you. It does anyway.”

I invite you to visualize what it would be like if you had no control over your life and where it takes you. Visualize what it would be like to know that everything that needed to be done would be done, right on time. What would it be like if every decision that needed to be made would be made through you and would be made in your best interest? I invite you to go deeply into what life would be like with the confidence that you are a puppet being guided through life by a force that knows what is in your best interest, where making mistakes are impossible. Observe that force in action as it breaths you, feeds you, walks you down the sidewalk, or drives you down the road. What does that experience look like for you?

For me it looks like total freedom. Total inner peace and acceptance of what is become the norm. From that place I could go about life following it wherever it decided to take me, without worry or stress or conflict, with a deep knowing that whatever happened was exactly what I needed. I wouldn’t become complacent, or worry about complacency, because something wants to experience this life to its fullest through me.

Michael Gazzaniga, a prominent neuroscientist, has this to say, “The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control... What is so adaptive about having what amounts to a spin doctor in the left brain? The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves.”

Here is another quote from an interview with Byron Katie: “You know what I love about this world? No control. No control. Oh my goodness! What could be better than that? We are not the doer. We can just watch.” But when we believe the thoughts that say we are in control, and things don’t go our way, we become frustrated. When thought arises, and we see that thought as just another happening, we don’t use them to delude ourselves into thinking we are the doer.

John Sherman has this to say: “The idea that you are in charge of how this form [our body] meets the needs of others is arrogance. The idea that you are the one who is responsible for determining that just the right thing is said, or just the right thing is given, is arrogance... It is not your job to decide how you should be used. Really. You have no idea. Well, maybe you do have an idea, but ideas are useless!”

There is quote after quote I could share with you from various sources. Instead I just invite you to entertain the possibility that we are "being done" rather than "doing the doing". To do so makes surrender so much easier, and surrendering to what is is the ultimate key to peace.

When I asked Jeannie Zandi about how free will fit into the grand scheme of things, she said, “We must function with a full intentioned heart and at the same time with a sense of the futility of changing anything without the will of God. Basically that's what we surrender to - the Holy Will - and what we surrender is our own will.”

Katie puts it like this, “When you no longer have a will of your own, there is no time and space. It all becomes a flow. You don’t decide, you flow from one happening to the next, and everything is decided for you.”

Enjoy the ride. You can’t do it wrong :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Driving Lessons

Three and a half years after being diagnosed with epilepsy and losing my driving privileges, I am now back in the driver’s seat. It was so beneficial for me to be relegated to the passenger seat all of these years, and I am just now realizing the significance of it all. It helped teach me surrender and acceptance of not being in control. I’ve ridden with many different people with different driving styles over the years and have had to put my faith in each one to get me from point A to B.

I wouldn’t say that I made a “good” passenger necessarily. There were countless times, while riding with my wife (who is a very good driver by the way), that I over reacted to situations by grabbing the “oh shit” handle. That tended to stress her out even more and it showed a lack of trust in her abilities. But I occasionally found myself preparing for what I thought would be certain impact. In effect, I was reacting to a future possibility that never happened. I gradually improved in my ability to remain present and allow it all to be.

Now that I am back behind the wheel I’m learning a great deal more about what driving is really about. I have tended to be a bit more inconsistent than I used to be, sometimes going under the speed limit and sometimes over, always knowing that I’m going the right speed. I’m just taking in the scenery from a whole new perspective. My wife, who is now having to adjust to passenger life with someone who doesn’t drive the way she does, sometimes points out that I am driving too slow or too fast. I’ve had a few good laughs over her comparing me to a 90 year old driver.

But one of the things I’ve noticed from this is that if I believe the thought that I am doing it wrong, I create stress for myself. It’s not her comments about my driving, it’s my reaction to them that does that. I love that. I can be a stress free driver if I so choose.

However, there is this whole other side of driving that I am rediscovering. Bad drivers used to be one of my pet peeves when I was behind the wheel. I lost that pet peeve as a passenger because it wasn’t my problem to deal with anymore, which gave me the ability to see the hidden lessons for those who were impacted by poor driving. Now I’m getting to see my old reactive patterns resurface. I see how easy it is for me to project onto other drivers.

For example, if I’m going the speed limit and someone behind me is following closely, I project that they are in a hurry and I am slowing them down. I can’t know that for sure, but when I believe that thought it creates tension in me. I notice a tendency to always be checking in with the surrounding cars and projecting how my driving is impacting their view of me. I notice tension in my right thigh, which has so much “riding” on it. (On a side note, I had a lot of body work done a few months back and discovered a great deal of pent up emotional energy in my right thigh).

Also, when I get in a situation where I cut off someone (it’s happened a time or two), I can create a whole story for the other person on how they might be angered by what I have done. I notice my tendency to justify my actions, possibly even blaming them. I can monitor them in my rearview, looking for evidence to support my belief about how they must be feeling. I see that happen and realize I am, again, the cause of my own stress. I’m seeing how I concoct stories about the drivers around me and how I’m affected by seeing them as stories instead of just other people going from point A to B, going through the same things I’m going through. What a wonderful lesson it has been to see driving without the stories.

Driving can be such a relaxing meditation when I don’t allow myself to believe the stories I create. I can give my full attention to the beautiful scenery, the road ahead, and allow myself to relax, knowing that whatever will be will be, as well as see things that cause tension as opportunities for personal growth. I’m being propelled through space, not knowing what the next moment will bring, without the stress of how I will react to it. Ultimately, even though I’m the one driving, I’m not in control anyway. But that’s another observation in and of itself. May you drive safely and without stories :)
In peace,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When to Act vs When to Accept

One of the gray areas for me on my journey has been acting on vs. accepting what is. I would like to share with you my own experiences with this in terms of interpersonal relationships, as well as what I have read.

As an example, when I am engaged in a conversation with someone and they say something that I feel is untrue about myself, I accept that rather than react to it (unless I slip up). In fact, I go a step further to look for the truth in what is being said to me. Other people tend to point out the things in us that we don’t want to deal with or haven’t dealt with yet, especially if what they are saying causes an emotional reaction in us.

Aside from that, what they are saying is true for them even if I see it as being false. Sometimes I see how another person is actually projecting their own issues onto me, but I don’t point that out to them as that is their business. Plus, I may be tempted to use that observation as an escape route from my own culpability. The main thing I do is notice how I feel when that happens and respect the other person where they are on their journey. I don’t try to convince them they are wrong.

The reality of this moment is what is being presented to us, regardless of what form that takes. As Byron Katie points out, “When I argue with reality, I lose – but only 100% of the time.” So rather than argue with reality because I don’t like what it has presented, I try to make peace with it and take action from that space. I remember that we are always being presented with exactly what we need at this moment, otherwise it would not be happening. I try to look at my life situation as if it is calling me to awaken. Life serves as my mirror. My ideas about myself are projected out onto others and I can learn from that if I am open and not in a state of resistence.

It’s also been illustrated to me that someone else's pain that they take out on you, in the form of anger or hostility, ultimately may have nothing to do with you. It has to do with their own past pain. This makes it much easier for me not to take things personally, or at least notice when I do. If someone seems angry at me, I know deep down that I am playing an important role in bringing something to that person's attention that they have not dealt with yet, just as they are doing for me. I am just a mirror of them and vise versa, so I try to look at it from that perspective. Regardless of whether we are acting consciously or unconsciously, we are all part of a universal process designed to bring about freedom in one another, whether we like it or not, accept it or resist it.

When someone close to me is suffering and I want to help but don’t know what to do, I can accept "not knowing" as it is. In so doing, I have had ideas come to me out of that state of accepting my own confusion. In effect, clarity can come from a state of confusion when we surrender to the fact that we don’t have a clue what to do. Meditation can also aid in finding the "right" action by becoming fully present and putting out an intention or question. It's said that we can not ask a question we don't already know the answer to, which I have found to be true. That means we just need to clear our minds so that answer can come to us.

At this stage I am constantly seeing how identification with the past creates hostility and suffering in myself and other people. When I see two people arguing or saying things designed to hurt, or complaining about something someone said to them, I see how simple it would be for them to release that feeling, simply by doing The Work (as Byron Katie refers to it) on the issues at hand, or by becoming fully present with no concept of an imagined past. It is not the other person causing the suffering we experience, it’s our own thoughts about the situation or person. I typically don’t offer this up to people because they may not want to rid themselves of those feelings for fear of losing their victim identity or having to admit they might be wrong. That’s a scary concept for the ego.

The conclusion I have come to is to accept, then act if need be. If I can’t accept something, I look within to see what is causing the resistence. It always has to do with me and not someone else. Once my present situation is accepted fully, I can then act more efficiently than when I am in resistence. Resistence just creates more resistence in the mirror of the world we are looking at, so it’s up to me (and you) to make the world a better place.

Below are some quotes from “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie I think you will enjoy.
Be well,

If [he] says something that hurts, he’s just revealed what you haven’t wanted to look at yet. The man is a Buddha.
P 133

[W]e’re babies just learning how to live out our love. We keep trying to meet love in everything and everyone, because we haven’t noticed that we already have it, that we ARE it.
P 261

What I love most about reality is that it’s always the story of a past. And what I love most about the past is that it’s over.
P 269

“It’s a tree. It’s a table. It’s a chair.” Is it true? Have you stopped to ask yourself? Have you ever become still and listened as you asked you? Who told you it was a tree? Who was the original authority? How did they know? My entire life, my entire identity, had been built on the trust and uninquiring innocence of a child.
P 300

But even the Now is a concept. Even as the thought completes itself, it’s gone, with no proof that it ever existed, other than as a concept that would lead you to believe it existed, and now that one is gone too. Reality is always the story of a past. Before you can grasp it, it’s gone. Each of us already has the peaceful mind that we seek.
P 303

We [the world around you] don’t know how to change; we don’t know how to forgive or how to be honest. We’re waiting for an example. You’re the one. You are your only hope, because we’re not changing until you do. Our job is to keep coming at you, as hard as we can, with everything that angers, upsets, or repulses you, until you understand. We love you that much, whether we’re aware of it or not. The whole world is about you.
P 310

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I know by now you are well familiar with the idea that the present moment is all there ever is, has been or will be, but I wanted to use memories as an example of how one can touch that which is always present. Think back to your earliest memory. Visualize it as if you are reliving it. For me this was when I was two years old. My mom was going into the hospital to give birth to my brother. I was in the car with my uncle Bill and I had a can of peanuts between my legs. As we were pulling away I spilled the peanuts between my legs. As I was trying to pull them out from under me I realized that they had slid so far up under me that I couldn’t reach them. So I lifted my butt up and as I did the peanuts went sliding back under the seat and into the floor board (the back of the seat had a gap where it met the bottom seat). I also remember my uncle being a bit flustered by this.

When I think back on this memory, I look at what has not changed since then. The one who witnessed it all happen is the same one who is witnessing these words being typed on a screen. It is the same “I” that has witnessed all of my life situations and will continue to witness all of my life situations. It has not changed through out my entire life. My physical body has changed, my thoughts and ideas have changed, my likes and dislikes have changed; but that “I” that has witnessed it all has not changed. That is the ever present awareness of what goes on in daily life. Everything we experience happens in the space of that awareness, which is untouched by the mental interpretations of those experiences. The mind labels, judges and learns from these experiences, but the awareness behind it all has no stake in the outcome. It is simply here.

When you look back on any of your past experiences you are “seeing” them Now from that same awareness. Focusing your attention on that awareness is how you can “see” that which you really are, underneath the thoughts and mental labels. Asking yourself, “Who am I?” or “Who is this “I” that is witnessing all of these things happen (past or present)?” is a very effective way of turning your awareness back on itself, or becoming aware of awareness.

This awareness, which is the only thing about us that is real, is not ours alone. In fact, that awareness is what we all have in common. We are all that same ever present awareness beyond thought. That is what makes us all one.

Once you have become aware of your own awareness you can then look at others with that awareness and see them as that same awareness. They may look and act differently, have different life experiences, but deep down they are nothing more than that same pure awareness. You can, in effect, look through the eyes of another and see that there is a background of awareness behind everything they say, do and see.

It’s from this space of recognizing all as awareness where true compassion arises. Ultimately there is no difference between me and you. We are all just conscious awareness. This is what all of the spiritual teachings are pointing toward. They all provide pointers to going beyond thought so that we can view the world as this awareness, and, in so doing, Be that which we already are. Interacting with life situations from that space is how we can achieve a state of peace. A peace that most of us have only briefly glimpsed in our lives.

There are many practices that assist in disassociating with thoughts so that we can rest in that spacious awareness, but one of the most simple (other than self inquiry) is one that is mentioned in The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Ask yourself, “I wonder what I am going to think next?” Then focus your attention and wait for a thought to occur as if you were a cat intensely watching a mouse hole. When a thought occurs, let it go and ask the question again. Then go back to waiting for the next thought. While in that state of waiting, without thought, you are completely present as that awareness.

There are many other portals to connecting with awareness and I recommend you try them all. Don’t just try them once. Engage in them on a regular basis throughout your day. It will become easier and easier to go deeper into self awareness. Just be still.
In peace,

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Circle of Life - a brief overview

A few years ago, after I was diagnosed with epilepsy out of the blue, I began a search for answers. Within a few months it became clear that I was not going to find any clear cut answers regarding my diagnosis, but I felt driven to find out as much as I could about everything and anything. I consumed books on every imaginable subject from the brain to physics to religion to cosmology, etc. I eventually discovered what I had actually been searching for all along: Truth.

Over the past few years I have been sharing my experiences along the way with all of my friends and family in the hopes that my search would be contagious. After reading multiple books from multiple teachers, I have been lead to the point where all of the paths converge. This is my attempt to encapsulate all that I have learned.

The present moment is all there ever really is. Life is always unfolding right Now. The situations that arise are largely (if not completely) out of our control. It is not the situations that cause us pain, it is our thoughts about them. Events and situations can be blamed or resisted but it does not change the fact that they are here now. This is where acceptance comes into play. If you want to be truly happy in all that you do, the acceptance of what is is a crucial element. It’s profoundly simple actually. If you want to live a life of joy, simply love what is, in this moment.

Our beliefs are at the center of all of our negative emotions. When we encounter something that causes discomfort, we “believe” that what’s happening should not be happening. Beliefs are simply thought patterns we have picked up along the way that we use to judge the world around us. As I once read, if you think something is a fact rather than a belief, ask yourself if there is one person in the world who would disagree with that “fact”. If the answer is yes, then it is a belief and not a fact. When we believe things should be a certain way, we create the stage for disappointment and pain because things will not always fit in our belief system.

We are actually not who we think we are. We are so identified with our thoughts that we can’t see what lies underneath. What lies underneath is often referred to as awareness or consciousness. That is what we are. It is ever present but our thoughts cover up its existence. Our awareness is totally identified with our thoughts most of the time. Connecting with the awareness that we all are is true liberation from all pain and suffering, and we can connect with it anytime we so choose.

There are numerous ways to connect with who we truly are, but they all have a common thread. Though it can be described in a number of ways, these descriptions are simply pointers and not the absolute truth. Here are a few ways you can find your true identity:

Focus all of your attention on what you are doing Now. Give each activity, regardless of how insignificant, you fullest attention.

Focus your attention on your inner body. Feel what it feels like to feel your body. Become aware of that force that animates your body and how it feels to abide in this body.

Accept what occurs each moment without resistence. If the situation calls for you to take action your action will come from a space of acceptance and will be a much more effective response to any given situation. Realize that what is going on now is exactly what “should” be happening. The universe is giving us just what we need to grow even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface.

Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Don’t look for an answer to the question. Simply focus your attention inward. Ask yourself repeatedly and “look” behind the question to see who it is that is asking the question. Who is it that is aware of the question being asked?

What all of the above practices have in common is that they stop the incessant stream of thoughts that pervade our everyday lives. It allows awareness to become aware of itself, and/or allows awareness space to act through us. This is a very powerful experience, but don’t create any preconceived notions about what it “should” be like. Don’t even do it with the intention of “getting” something out of it. These are the crafty thought patterns that can distract you from experiencing who you truly are. They allow you to judge the situation to see if you are doing it right.

One of the e-books I read recently (which is available for free at the link below) provides a clear understanding of the self inquiry method mentioned above. The book is called Meeting Ramana Maharshi by John Sherman. John is an ex-bank robber turned spiritual teacher and does an excellent job of putting Ramana’s teachings into perspective.

After reading it I began to practice focusing my awareness on the awareness that I am. It is simply a shift in perspective that is so obvious it gets overlooked, which is why it is often referred to as the cosmic joke. We’ve always been awareness and it’s been under our nose all along. So simple but so oddly difficult. My experience with turning my attention inward makes the world come alive. The colors and textures become much more vivid. Thought subsides and I am able to just Be. (See also my previous post on The Moving Sidewalk of Life) As John says, this inquiry is self realization and if you continue to practice it you will eventually no longer need to practice. It will become your normal state of being.

If you are interested in finding out who you truly are and freeing yourself from all forms of suffering, all it takes is your strong intention to do so and you will succeed. I highly recommend downloading the free e-book mentioned above and practicing turning your attention inward as often as possible. Incorporating daily meditation into your routine is extremely valuable regardless of how much time you take. Meditation can then become a part of your everyday life.

I wish you the very best in all that you do and am grateful that you took the time to read this. May it benefit you in some way. Wishing you eternal peace and love. After all, that’s what you already are even if you haven’t noticed yet :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's okay to love

We recently were faced with the tough decision many pet owners face in their lives: having a beloved pet put down. It was tougher than usual because she (Lotus) was still alert and at times energetic. But she just would not eat. She had been fasting off and on for a couple of weeks (probably close to a month) despite all of the various home cooked combinations and appetite stimulants we tried. Since she had become so thin and was eating just barely enough to stay alive we decided the time had come and that she was not going to make it much longer.

It was difficult on many levels, as many of you already know. But I learned something very valuable from it all. At one point, about a week before we actually had her put down, I was sitting with her on the couch petting her and crying as if it were her last night with us. It occurred to me as my tears fell on her that I was mourning a dog who had not died yet and that I was living in the future. It’s inevitable that we are all going to die and it could happen at any time. But we don’t spend our lives mourning about the death of a loved one, or our own death for that matter. This realization helped me come back to the present moment and just shower her with love, enjoying the fact that I was spending quality time with her Now.

After my first dog died as a young boy, I took it hard and a part of me closed up and became resistant to love for fear of the inevitable pain I might feel if the object of my love were taken away, by death or some other means. I didn’t really want to have dogs around because I knew I would likely out live them and have to go through the pain of losing them. But dogs have always been in my life, trying to teach me things I did not want to face. One of which was my fear of becoming too attached. This was a sort of protecting measure that kept me from loving as deeply as I could, and I think a part of that has stuck with me through out the years.

Around the time Lotus began her decline, a dear friend of mine entered my life and was reassuring me that it’s okay to love, reminding me that our true essence is love. But it was not solidified in me until the day we had Lotus put down. That day the lesson hit home: it’s okay to love. There may be grief when the physical form of the object of our love disappears, but their essence does not leave us. They remain a part of who we are. The grief we experience is yet another form of love, and though the grief passes, the love never does.

From my experience you can either allow the death of a loved one to harden your heart and make you bitter, or you can realize that death is inevitable. Life is short so don’t make your life miserable about something that hasn’t happened yet or happened in the past. Enjoy it while you have it. I take comfort in the idea that nothing real ever dies, it just changes forms.

The moving sidewalk of life

Here is the quote that I would say best describes what I have experienced lately.

"Keep your focus peripheral as you look out from this inner cave, from this sweetness. Let your eyes, instead of actively looking out at the world, simply receive the world. Instead of putting your public face on, let innocence be there, let openness be there, let the world come right inside to you without moving a muscle to try and manage it. Openness itself sitting in a chair, daring to not have a strategy about how to get through the next moment, just openly here and receiving."
Jeannie Zandi

We were recently staying at a hotel which had some elaborate decor. One day while riding the escalator up to the second floor, I decided to take a moment to be present, after all I was being propelled toward my destination without effort and could just take a moment to absorb what was around me. I looked into the huge chandelier that hung from the ceiling next to the escalator and allowed myself to look at it from the perspective of the observer that lives within my body, and yet has never seen anything before because all it knows is the present moment. A warm and tingly feeling came over me as my awareness shifted to that of a peripheral one in which I became aware of everything in my peripheral vision as well as what was right in front of me. In effect, my awareness grew to the point where it seemed almost like an out of body experience in that I was not attached to my body, I was the witness of it and all that was around it (hearing, seeing, and smelling it all).

I engaged in this exercise or shift in awareness quite often while at the hotel and it seems to take a simple shift in awareness, or point of view, from person to observer. Most of the time I did it when I was alone such as when I went to the bathroom or was walking alone or riding elevators, etc. I like the metaphor of the escalator because it seems to come close to an accurate description of our lives. To a certain extent we are at the mercy of where we are taken and what appears in our field of awareness.

It was during these moments when the teachings and techniques we have learned about (such as present moment awareness, being the witness or observer of our thoughts, we are consciousness or awareness, ego and thoughts hide it, etc.) all made sense. But I saw them for what they are: pointers that do not accurately describe the truth which can only be experienced.

I often ran into the ego during these brief moments. It was seen from a new perspective of clarity, though it's hard to put into words. But it was seen clearly that ego was an obstacle to this present moment experience and could easily hide it. I understood that it (the present moment) was always here right under the surface of our identification with thought. Thoughts had to be still to see it (or were stilled by allowing myself to see it) and breathing, inner body awareness, and relaxation were seen for their importance as this experience can cause some bodily tension and "stuff" to come up.

The basic experience was one of peace, realization, as well as some compassion for those who had not discovered what is always here but so rarely seen. I got the sense that there are different depths to the experience, but I never spent long diving deeper. It took making a conscious choice to see and I did not choose it for long periods. Instead I practiced connecting for brief moments and occasionally while I was in the presence of others, trying to give them my full awareness (a bit more difficult).

I have to say that it can be easy to connect with, but at the same time very difficult for me to maintain. However, sometimes it seems easier to become fully present than others, so I hope to continue this practice and deepen it when the opportunity allows.

Below is another inspiring quote I ran across that enabled me to connect fully with the present moment.

"Now is the time to have a direct introduction to this moment. This moment is free of time, of mind, of any notions...introduce yourself to this moment."
Papaji -


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Miscellaneous Quotes and Realizations

Below are some things that have come my way that I have written down over the last few months. They serve as helpful reminders for me and I felt the need to share them with you in case they might be beneficial to you in your life. Feel free to share with others. I hope you enjoy.

“As soon as you learn how to treat your wife [significant other] with respect, you will have a much better life.” by Shelby Carland.

My wife is always good at pointing out when I am reacting out of habitual programming and not from a place of truth. Her gentle reminders help me realize when I am neither being present nor mindful in my interactions. Our significant others can be very valuable teachers when it comes to recognizing our own ego.

“There’s no better song in the world than the one you are listening to right now.” note to self

This one came to me one evening while listening to the radio and a song that moved me came on. I hadn’t heard it before, but I allowed myself to open up as I listened. The message hit home with a great deal of energy but I realized that all songs can be just as powerful if we allow ourselves to listen to them without judgement, as if it is the first time we had ever heard music before. Each note disappearing forever as it is replaced by a new one.

“Give EVERYTHING you do your fullest attention.” note to self

When I realized how being fully present could be maintained in daily life, it became clearly summarized by these words. If you are giving what you are doing your full attention, there is no room for dwelling on the past or future. In fact, there is very little room for mental noise at all. Stillness and the significance of each simple thing captures the attention.

“My ego makes me do things I don’t want to do, and prevents me from doing things I want to do.” note to self

While I was paying attention to the thoughts going on in my head as I was doing something, I realized that I had stopped myself from doing something for fear of what someone might think. I’ve noticed that this happens quite a bit and feel grateful when I notice it. On the flip side of the coin, when I am identified with my ego (possessed by it is more like it), I do or say things that I did not want to do or say. The ego is on autopilot and just doing what it has done for years without my awareness. This is also nice to catch even if it is not caught until after the fact. Noticing is all it takes to be free of the ego’s control over us.

“Is there resentment in the action you’re doing right now? Did you know there didn’t have to be? Forgiveness can save the whole world from self destructing, but only if enough people participate. No one else will unless you do it first and continue to do it for the rest of your life. Once you take the first step, nothing else will matter.” note to self

This one came to me one morning when I was awakened by dogs needing out to pee. It was probably 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. and I reluctantly got up to walk them. As I was headed to the back door I realized that I was carrying resentment with me over having to do this on multiple occasions. I realized that my mind had created a mental story painting me as the victim. It was using the past to illustrate the unfairness of life (one of the ego’s favorite past times). I realized that having resentment was a choice and I chose not to engage in it. I became present and wiped my mind clear of past, as if this was the first time I had ever walked the dogs before dawn. What a blessing it turned out to be. I got to see the morning star in all it’s brilliance illuminating the woods around me. The predawn sky was just beginning to lighten and I felt honored to have seen something I would not have seen had it not been for the seeming inconvenience of being “awakened” from my sleep. I have since come to accept the role of early morning dog walker and try to use it as a way to see what it is I’m missing.

“True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment.” - Stillness Speaks, by Eckhart Tolle

I had to mention this Eckhart quote because it so beautifully sums up overcoming our ego identification. Why would there be any resentment if I chose this moment to be as it is? Why would there be any negative emotions at all? I have seen enough to feel that everything happens for a reason, which means that everything that comes my way does so for a reason far bigger than the mind can comprehend. Though we have no control over what happens in life and are at life’s mercy, we can choose how we feel about everything life throws at us. When it came to the resentment I had over dog walking, I realized I had a choice and I chose to accept what life had given me, which turned out to be a beautiful sky. Acceptance of what is is another way to sum it all up.

“The future is unknowable. The past is memory. The present is real.” note to self

Since I find myself spending time in the “what if” land of an imaginary future or dwelling on the memories of things that have already happened, I occasionally realize that these are just thoughts that are happening now. If I’m identified with my thoughts and don’t realize I’m thinking them, I am actually reliving the past or acting as if the future has already come. This makes these imaginary realms seem real. When I catch this I realize that there is only now and that the past has no power over me and the future only needs to be used for planning certain activities and not constantly through out the day. When you are able to step fully into the present you can stop to smell the roses and truly appreciate the life that is all around.

The following are exercises that I wrote down to help remind me of how I can connect with the present moment more easily. I've been trying to take mental notes on what makes it easier for me and those mental notes are typically what take me out of the Now. So it is a bit of a double edged sword, but one that I hope will benefit others. I call them Familiar Surroundings I and Familiar Surroundings II but they are interwoven.

Familiar Surroundings I
“View the world as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it. Pretend you’re a visitor to a place you’ve never seen before and get in the mind set of trying to take it all in as if it’s completely new and fascinating. Be in awe of everything around you, without judging it or getting caught up in the story behind it all. Then, do that in everything you do from going to the refrigerator to get something to eat or drink, to walking down the hall or street. Start doing it with all of your routine activities and it will breath new life into everything you do. You will start to see the truth in it all.”

I can typically connect with the present moment for short moments through out each day, but it is sometimes easier than others. It takes practice since we have been identified with our thoughts for so many years, but it does get easier with practice. The key is not to get frustrated when it seems hard to do.

Familiar Surroundings II
“Look out a window or stand outside looking at some trees, or the forest, or whatever happens to be in the surrounding area. Then ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before and this was the first time in my life I had ever laid eyes on this? What would it look like to eyes that had never seen such a thing?" Then look around at everything in that context, as if it were all totally new to you. Allow a sense of awe and wonderment to fill your body over the miracle that you are witnessing. Let that sweep over your body and filly you with warmth. If thoughts arise, be the witness of those thoughts and don't follow them. Let them fall by the way side and continue to focus on the totally new and foreign sites you see as you look around. It may be helpful if thoughts come to stop and ask yourself, "Where am I?" Stay with it for as long as you can and just enjoy the feeling while it lasts.”

Distractions ultimately pop up that take away our attention, but the more times you can do that, the easier it gets. You may not feel the same warm and tingly feeling you would get from other experiences, but you are none the less in a state of limited or no thought. You are present in what you are doing and not focused on the future or past. Every little bit helps and makes it easier.

The last exercise I will leave you with is a popular form of self inquiry that has been suggested by many different spiritual teachers. It too can have a profound impact on connecting with who you truly are. We’ll call it the Who Am I exercise.

Right now, sitting where you are, reading these words, take a few moments to breath deeply and feel your body. Settle yourself... relax... come fully into this moment. Close your eyes for a moment if you need to, then proceed. As you look at the print on this page, ask yourself, “Who is here seeing these words?” Rather than searching for an answer with your mind, shift your attention to what is behind your eyes looking out of them. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” If thoughts arise notice them and ask, “Who has these thoughts?” “Who is the thinker of these thoughts?” Let thoughts fall away as you continue to look for who is behind them. Continue to ask questions and look deeper within. “What is it that sees these words?” “Who is looking through my eyes?” Feel for the answer. Turn your awareness inward and direct it at the one who sees. Look within to see who sees. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” on a regular basis and don’t try to find an answer, just experience what it’s like to connect with who you are.
In loving peace,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliminating Time

Quote from A New Earth:

"You cannot make the egoless state into a future goal and then work toward it... because it will always seem that you have not arrived yet... Look carefully to find out if your spiritual search is a disguised form of ego. Even trying to get rid of your “self” can be a disguised search for more if the getting rid of your “self” is made into a future goal". - P 206

When reading the quote above under Eliminating Time, I reread that first paragraph three times, with the full meaning hitting home harder and harder each time, taking me into wakefulness, as if I were watching a movie of my hands holding the book and the print on the page. A sense of joy pervaded me, as well as a little fear of the unknown. I realized that I had indeed made my quest for truth, to be free of ego, into just another obstacle to finding it. I realized that I could never find it if I was in search of it. It’s right here. Just step out of time.

Upon later observation I found that I unknowingly spend a great deal of my time thinking about what I’m going to say or do at some point, and wondering what to do or say next, what might happen if I do it next, what other people (or dogs) think of me, how I’m shaping that image, what’s expected of me, why I do these things, etc. I’m always looking for distractions to avoid being fully present, even if those distractions involve ways to get to the present moment. Lost in thought or doing, but not in what I’m doing right Now. Touching presence periodically but not committing. Where am I now? Words that help pull me back to center.

"So instead of adding time to yourself, remove time. The elimination of time from your consciousness is the elimination of ego. It is the only true spiritual practice... What we are speaking of is the elimination of psychological time, which is the egoic mind’s endless preoccupation with past and future and its unwillingness to be one with life by living in alignment with the inevitable isness of the present moment." - P 207

After reading this I stopped and tried to feel what that actually meant. I asked myself, "What would it be like if there was only now?" Rather than try to answer it with thoughts, I just experienced what life would be like if there was only Now. There is no past. There is no future. No yesterday or tomorrow. Any thoughts that arise regarding either are arising now. There is no five minutes from now. Only Now. I repeated to myself, "There is only Now," as I continued to walk, wash my hands, etc., knowing that each step I was taking was in the Now. Each thing I looked at I was looking at Now. The words I am typing I am typing Now.

Though the full impact of these connections may only be felt for a brief while, it is an exercise that can be done at any time and I highly recommend you give it a try. Feel what it would be like if there was only ever Now. Everything else is a figment of your imagination.

There is only now. Just immerse yourself in it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Love is in the Air

There are as many manifestations of love as there are stars in the sky. Everything we do we do out of love. We are the walking embodiment of love. Even those actions or feelings that seem on the surface to be linked to pain, anger, sorrow and so on, are nothing more than love being exhibited. Whether it be out of love for ourselves or love for others, it makes no difference. It is one and the same.

When we are grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship, it is out of love for that person. When we are angry at someone who has done us wrong, that too is out of love for ourselves and possibly that person. When we try to tell someone else how to live, it is out of love for that person. When we fight for what we believe is right, it is out of love for others as well as ourselves. It matters not whether you are at work making money for you and your family who need food to survive, or whether you are at rest indulging in your favorite intoxicant for the love of the feeling it brings with it.

Love is all around us and yet we don’t see it unless it is overt. When we see someone taking care of a loved one who is ill or when we see two people looking endearingly at one another, it is more clearly seen as love. Even punishing a child for wrong doing is more clearly an act of love on the surface (unless you are the child).

Even the ego, which tends to view itself as separate from and often better than others, seems to be just another manifestation of love. The ego wants to be loved by others. It wants to be thought highly of and have its feelings and beliefs honored and respected. It tends to dislike or judge others who do not fit into its strict mold of what is acceptable or threaten its self image, all in the name of love. In a way, the ego is trying to bring about the desired end result of love through its actions, without realizing its efforts are actually sabotaging its attempts to achieve the end goal. Herein lies the fundamental flaw. We must first realize everything is love before we can experience it as such, and the ego can’t help us do that.

To realize all is love and love is all, there must be an effort made to recognize the truth in the statement, “Everything is a manifestation of love.” If we hear this statement and make no effort to see the truth in it, then we go along doing what we have been doing with a sense of justification. Everything I do must be okay because it is just an example of my love for myself or someone else. To do this actually hides the love from yourself and those around you. When love is hidden from view, then what good can it bring?

Make an effort to bring love out of hiding in everything you do or think. Make love known. When love feels absent, go inside to look for it (see note below). When someone says something mean to you, or rubs you the wrong way, don’t just react out of habit. Look to see if there is actually a hidden motive tied to love. If our inner core feels threatened or hurt, we tend to react defensively to protect that core. That reaction creates a domino effect of reactivity. But it can be stopped at any time by simply recognizing the underlying motive of love that is being exhibited on both sides.

We’re all here to find love. Even the Beatles said, “all we really want, all we really need is love.” Ironically, it’s always here right under our nose. It’s as if we are fish swimming in an ocean of love so we don’t recognize it for what it is. Instead we focus all of our attention on all of the other fish in the sea who are also blind to the fact that they are living breathing manifestations of the same thing. Once you see it you will realize that you have been swallowed up by it all along. And what a wonderful feeling that is.
Peace and Love,

Note: One place to start looking for love within is through a technique that can be done anytime and anywhere. I try to do it as often as I can all day long, regardless of the activity at hand. You can read about it in a previous blog post at the link below. It helps to remember you are not looking for a thing but a feeling.

Also, below is an excerpt from a book I recently read called The Translucent Revolution:

Who is here?

Right now, sitting where you are, reading these words, take a few moments to close your eyes and feel your body. Settle yourself... relax... come fully into this moment.

Can you see the print on this page/screen? It is seen, right? But seen by whom? In this very moment, outside memory or concept or images, who is seeing? Shift your attention for just a moment from the words on the page back to yourself. Perhaps you find thoughts and feelings. Shift your attention again from the thoughts and feelings, which are also experiences that are coming and going, back to yourself. What do you find when you look for the real thing, what you have called “me”? Do you find anything? Is there something there with substance, with form and edges?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Freedom to Feel

I was told recently by a very intuitive aunt-in-law that I was a highly sensitive person deep down and that I had put up barriers for unknown reasons to protect this sensitive core, which has left me somewhat cut off from my feelings. She told me to open myself up to experience these feeling when they arise instead of trying to keep them buried, so that they too could experience freedom. This was coming on the heels of me experiencing tears of joy during a satsang I attended (see previous blog post). The conversation struck a chord in me and I have been mindful of my feelings since then.

What I have noticed is that I have a tendency to avoid feelings as they arise (especially the ones that might cause tears). In the case of hearing about some tragedy in the world or some other story that might cause sorrow, I use my knowing that everything is innately perfect as a reassurance. However, I think there may be an inclination to hide out behind that knowing instead of actually experiencing these feelings to their fullest.

With all of the tragedy going on in the world today, it seems natural for us to avoid it to a degree, or at least turn off the part of us that might experience it on a personal level. Otherwise, we feel like we will get sucked into the endless drama of the world. However, this too can create a disconnect or resistance toward what is.

Since I have been more aware of feelings lately, I have had a few glimpses of this sensitive inner core that I have been protecting. The triggers have come in the form of a moving song, a news story, and meditation just to name a few. When I start to experience the precursor to tears welling up, something akin to fear steps in to prevent it from fully developing. It may be disguised by thoughts like, “I can’t just start crying for no reason, so and so will worry or think I’m crazy.” But deeper than egoic level fear is a feeling, “I can’t open myself that much because it will open me up to a whole new level of vulnerability so great it could kill me.” Therein lies what I think the fear is truly about. The fear of egoic death. Not just the fear of being free to express feelings over seemingly insignificant things, but the fear of being without the ego’s protection.

Here is a quote that came back to me recently while scanning through some audio clips on my computer. It’s from Adyashanti on a track labeled “What freedom really is.”

“[It is a] myth that [when I’m truly enlightened] I can rest in some assuredness that I will never again feel insecure, or feel fear, or feel doubt, or feel those emotions that we don’t want to feel. Forget it. That’s not it. That’s the pipe dream. That’s the opium that’s sold to the masses. And they eat it up and they never get there, and the end up disillusioned. That’s not how it works. Freedom is never freedom “from.” If it’s freedom “from” anything, it’s not freedom at all. It’s freedom “to.” Are you free enough to be afraid? Are you free enough to feel insecure? Are you free enough not to know? Are you free enough to know that you can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally comfortable, to know that you can’t know what’s around the next corner? How you will feel about it? How you will respond to it? That you literally can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally at ease and comfort with the way things actually are? That’s freedom. The other thing is the ego’s idea of freedom.”

Another audio I listened to recently by Pamela Wilson has several questions from people in the audience regarding how to deal with certain feelings that they considered unpleasant. Pamela likes us to invite those negative feelings into the light of our awareness and find out why they are arising. In one man’s case, who was suffering from grief over a lost relationship, their dialogue eventually lead to the heart of what that feeling truly was about. Below is paraphrased from the essence of that conversation.

“Sorrow and love are the same. How could we feel such sorrow if we weren’t capable of so much love. Sorrow comes to show us the depths of our love. We are caring itself, and always have been. We are love itself, and always have been. We just didn’t realize it. Sorrow just brings love down into the body. It’s funny how in the beginning emotions obscure who we are, then later they can help us realize who we are.”

Behind every seemingly negative emotion is our true loving self, trying to protect our true loving essence from harm. Whether we are feeling anxiety, frustration, or sadness, when you trace those feelings back to their origin you will likely find a defensiveness trying to protect you. Fear is often at the center of it, which triggers that defensiveness to step in with a response that has seemingly worked in the past to protect us. Once we see our “negative” feelings for what they truly are we can embrace those feelings as well. We can thank them for trying to protect us. After all, it’s happening out of love and for love’s sake.
Peace and love,