12/30/2011

The World Is Not Such a Violent Place

The world is not such a violent place. It is really quite lovely. And it's not on the verge of extinction.
Research indicates that "a smarter, more educated world is becoming more peaceful in statistically significant ways." In one of several new books about the decline of violence in our world, Harvard scholar Steven Pinker writes, "The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species." ('The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined'). 
According to Pinker and other researchers: 
* The number of people killed in battle – calculated per 100,000 population – has dropped by 1,000-fold over the centuries as civilizations evolved. Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000.
* The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008.

* There were fewer than 20 democracies in 1946. Now there are close to 100. Meanwhile, the number of authoritarian countries has dropped from a high of almost 90 in 1976 to about 25 now.
So why do so many of us feel emotionally jolted, with a sense that the world is on the brink of chaos? It's partially do to the media, of course. Given a thousand stories about peace-making and one about violence, the media repeat the violent image 24-7 and ignore the other stories.

But the media is just imitating an age-old trick of human thinking. We project the shadows of our own mind on the world outside, and see what we want to see.
People in the anti-war movement are vested in seeing a world at war: it gives them an identity. Religious fundamentalists are vested in seeing a world of evil: it gives them a sense of righteousness. Marxist ideologues want to see rich people exploit the poor. It makes them uncomfortable to meet wealthy men and women who are generous and kind. In the same way, laissez-faire capitalists who read Ayn Rand look for poor people who are lazy and deceitful, disregarding any evidence to the contrary.
We perceive the world, not as it actually is, but according to the predilections of our ideology; and we look for conflicts that correspond most readily to our own conflicted thoughts. Most of today's warfare is not in the material world but inside us, on the plane of emotional energy and mental imagery. It is astral warfare, not physical.
That is why humanity's problems cannot be solved merely by political or economic activism: for they are not essentially political-economic problems. They are spiritual problems, solved by the inner activism of mindful and heartful practice. If we do not accompany our politics, our protests, and our Occupy movements with inner activism, we'll just kick the same can round and round.
If you think the world is such a violent place, take a walk down your street. Walk all day through the town and countryside. You'll be hard-pressed to experience a single act of violence.
Now go to the most troubled nation on earth. Even there, the vast majority of people live perfectly non-violent lives. Kids are playing in empty lots. Women are walking down the street together. Men are sitting in village squares, smoking, laughing, sipping tea. Folks are working at their ancient daily tasks. Many of the poor are quite happy. Many of the wealthy are quite miserable. 99% of the time, in 99% of the places, the earth is not violent: it is quite peaceful, and quite ordinary.

In those few places where violence does break out, the press sets up its cameras. By the evening news, they've convinced us that the whole world is on the verge of Armageddon.
A Chicano friend of mine recently told me what a fun place Mexico City is. "I thought it was very dangerous," said I,"with all those drug cartels and murders." He looked at me with pathos, knowing that, as an "educated" U.S. citizen, I am misinformed by a ceaseless barrage of skewed information guaranteed to inflame my prejudices and confirm my suspicions.
I traveled up and own the coast of West Africa as a Merchant Marine seaman, visiting seven different countries. They are nations which the American media portray as violent and dangerous. I certainly experienced a constant buzz of potential violence from American seamen aboard the ship, who were often in advanced stages of alcoholism. But when I went ashore, I walked through cities and villages, nourished from the well of hospitality that is the heart of African people. Fed with friendship and generosity, taken into huts at night by the poorest of village people, I never felt more safe.
TED Talk by Steven Pinker

12/29/2011

Freedom is Non-Resistance


Do you want to know my secret? I don't mind what happens.
~J. Krishnamurti

The gist of ignorance is believing that we have some control over what befalls us. The future is not an option, not a choice. I have no idea what will happen, and neither do you. Our only freedom is to be, or not to be, in the present moment.

Suffering is resistance to change.  ~Maharshi Mahesh Yogi

 Of course, I can't control the present either, because it's already happening. Freedom does not lie in choosing what happens, but in choosing how to receive it. I can embrace what is with spacious love, or I can resist. 

Do not resist.  ~Jesus, Sermon on the Mount

Our culture claims to be Christian. Yet the One we call savior said, Do not resist... the meek shall inherit the earth. Yet ours is a culture of resistance. Resistance is chic. Resistance is politically correct. Our schools teach the intellect to protest, to object, to argue. They do not teach our hearts how to surrender to Presence. Our government is all about resisting the opposition. Our religion consists in resisting the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our medicine constantly battles drug-resistant bacteria. Our economic system is the survival of the fittest, where every business competes with every other. This regards non-resisters as cowards and weaklings. Yet resistance only deepens our suffering.

Is it possible for us to evolve from a culture of resistance to a culture of non-resistance? To open up, bend our stiff joints, expand our embrace, and become empty?

Emptiness laughs and nods in agreement. ~Zenrin Kushu

Hope lies not in controlling the future, but in embracing the present. Let the fierce onslaught of now, containing the whole freight train of the past, flow right through you. Eternity doesn't resist time, any more than the sky resists clouds. What arises and dissolves is the world, not you.

12/27/2011

I Don't Know

"When you seem to understand a situation and label it, This is how it is, that is the beginning of your problem. Problems arise from knowing, not from not knowing. Suffering is a product of limited knowledge.

"When an event occurs, there could be many possibilities to explain it. You label it wrong from limited knowledge. But when there is amazement, patience and joy, you are in a state of I don’t know, may be, and life shifts from the limited I know to all possibilities.

'Stop seeing intentions behind others' mistakes. Then you stop bearing grudges. Your mind drops craving and aversion, and you become free.'    ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Thank you, Beloved Teacher. Humbling me, you expand me. Emptying me, you fulfill me.

12/26/2011

Peace


Peace to you...

The Peace that only comes when the mind is quiet, and the heart spills over with the innocence of a newborn child.

This morning, every body is flawless, every atom is pure, every photon of light is perfect, and there is nothing that is not made of this perfect light.

In the whole cosmos, the only thing that is not perfect is the thought, "This is imperfect."

Celebrate the birth of divine love in the human heart. All holidays, all rituals, are just re-enactments of love's breath.

With a mind spacious and free from judgment, with an innocent heart and the eyes of a newborn child, observe what is; deeply, deeply observe what is.

Peace be yours...

For only the action that flows from Peace, makes Peace.

12/23/2011

Christmas Message of the Hubble Snow Angel




Learn the lesson of a single snowflake.

Isn't every flake flawless in its unique and sacred geometry? The intelligence who perfects a snowflake designs this whole creation.

Divine Mother pours perfection upon us, and weaves the very molecules of our flesh from the fibers of her beauty. She is not only Holy Mater, she is Holy Matter. Like a snowflake, each sub-nuclear spark of the physical world is an instantaneous revelation of God, and a momentary effulgence of heaven on earth.

Merry Christmas from the inconceivable, born in every photon of your perfect body. Though you dwell in form, form does not confine you, for each particle of you is boundless, and eternity infuses all that appears to change and die. Physicists confirm this: an electron is surrounded by a photon-cloud in which each instantaneous photon of light has an energy charge that is infinite. Your body is made of no-thing but the boundless self-luminosity of the void.

The illusion of imperfection arises because I resist the ordinary, I react against the suchness of what simply is. The master, MMY, once told us, Suffering is just resistance to change. When I relinquish my resistance to the tidal wave of this present moment, eternity washes over me in waves of time, and this finite body dissolves into galaxies of bliss-consciousness.

Each one a masterpiece of pure mathematical intelligence, millions of perfect snowflakes fall around me. Do I appreciate the fact that I am inundated with miracles? Or do I take the miraculous for granted and call it ordinary?

When I was living in a Trappist monastery, I discovered that the liturgy of daily chant and mass are called the Ordinary of the Seasons. It is only in the depths of the ordinary that we find miracles.

But such is the gift of freedom that I super-impose my own mental qualities on the fresh miraculous suchness of the earth. I see what I choose to see. And what I too often choose to see is a drab and fallen world.

Seeing is an act of creation.

When the busy innkeeper met Mary in Bethlehem, he saw a pregnant, homeless, immigrant girl and offered her no resting place. But when the simple-hearted shepherd and the Eastern sage met that same lady, they saw a mother of God.

12/19/2011

Reason is a Hoax


Thoughts that feel good in our hypothalamus and reticular activating system we call rational. Thoughts that don't feel good we call irrational. The gist of our thinking is more often determined by what we had for dinner last night than by any inherent quality called reason. The most radical wisdom requires no thinking, no reasoning at all.

Reason is a hoax. For example, the invasion of Iraq felt good to millions of Americans in 2003. Thus it felt perfectly reasonable to bankrupt our economy, exhaust our military power, kill a million people, and hand Iraq over to Iranian influence. This idiotic scheme seemed rational because thinking was simply a disguise for sweet feelings of revenge in our primitive brain.

On the other hand, when Osama bin Laden sent us a message in 2004, explaining the reasons for his antipathy toward U.S. foreign policy, we heard it as the ranting of a madman. What he offered was to end the war if America fulfilled three conditions: show neutrality rather than prejudice in the Israel-Palestine conflict, withdraw military bases from Muslim holy lands in Saudi Arabia, and stop supporting oppressive Arab dictators. These were perfectly rational ideas, but not to Americans.

Here is a case in point for why, if we wish to survive, human culture must turn from the value of thinking to the value of Awareness.

Neither reason in the cerebral cortex, nor emotion in the primitive brain, have anything to do with Awareness. Awareness is the infinite self-radiant space that was already here before the brain or the elements of this body were formed. And Awareness will be here long after human physiology has dissolved back into the cosmic soup.

Have you considered the possibility that you can shift your attention from thinking to Awareness?

You can relax from the tangled skein of your neurons, which is the primitive web of karma, into the pure space that pervades the atoms and the galaxies. For Awareness is never trapped in a nerve cell or contained in a thought, just as water is never caught in a net.

This very moment, as Awareness, you are already free. You are neither the mind, the body, nor last night's dinner. You are all-pervading clarity and joy.

The solution to our conflicts is Awareness, not reasoning.

Photo, Indra's Net, by Doug Benner: Link

12/18/2011

'I Have Too Many Thoughts'


"I have too many thoughts in meditation."

So what if you have a thought? A thought is just a wave in the sea of silence.

Like right now, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, and Sarah Palin covered in hot melted chocolate wrestling an elk, and Laotzu floating in an emerald sky, playing his pearl-encrusted violin from which stream melodies of silk connected to every star, as a radiant winged donkey with the eyes of Jesus alights on my brow, whispering lyrics of unpublished Elvis songs, which I will sing only to the children of the 60's who remember how we wept by the waters of Babylon, and hung our harps from the willows there, smashed on buds that sprang like green nipples from the sugary bosom of the Great Mother, whose black body of starry Silence dissolves all limits between form and formlessness, allowing us to dance in fractals of Delight, the only energy that is.

Welcome to the mirage, where boundless awakened space pervades every ripple of mind.

What Do You Say?

99% of what gurus say, you could say. You just don't have the white robes and long hair going for you. 
99% of what college professors say, you could say. You just don't have the capital letters after your name. 
99% of what politicians say, you could say. But you're too intelligent to talk like that. 
What I'm saying is, you are the supreme authority in your life, and no one else. What do you say?
My most exciting discovery on this journey is that spirituality has nothing to do with authority. Spirituality is an adult issue; authority is an infantile issue. 
Many follow a guru, a pope, a holy book, a charismatic preacher, not because they want to be free, but for precisely the opposite reason. They want a surrogate daddy. They want to give their innate authority away to someone else. The infantile comfort we get from giving up our self-authority accounts for much religious behavior.
I love my Guru: I do not give him authority over my life. My surrender to his Presence gives me infinite freedom to be myself, wherever I am. Real devotion, bhakti, flowers in a realm beyond should and should not, beyond authority.
I do not ask the Guru what I should do or believe. I do not ask anything. I let my heart dance in the breath of his divine silence.

12/17/2011

Christmas Card


Stop sending yourself postcards:
"Having a great time, wish you were here."
It's the picture of happiness we send ourselves
that makes us miserable.
You don't even know your address:
how will you get the Christmas card
you put in the mail box years ago,
full of sleigh bells and snowy farms
and mothers who never get mad because
they have no job but gazing at babies?
Fuck these Christmas lights.
You break one, and they all go out.
There's a better kind of light,
fainter but always glowing
in the darkness of your aching heart.
This light is never born
and never demands perfection.
It's your real home.
Rest here.
Don't send pictures.

12/16/2011

Awake



















Jesus said, 'I am troubled. I need you to hang out with me. Stop your work and come to the garden.' 

So I stopped work and went to Gethsemane, where I gave Jesus all my prayers. He said, 'I want your friendship, not your worship.' 

Then I told him my ideas about happiness, and gave him all the advice I could think of. He said, 'I love your presence, not your opinion.' 

I offered to serve him day and night, ending poverty, fighting for justice, cleansing the earth of corruption.' He said, 'I cherish your being, not your doing.'

Then I dozed off. After some time, his voice gently spoke again: 'I just need you to stay awake. That's all I ask. Just be with me, without going to sleep.'

12/14/2011

Between the Notes


Winter morning, between two junco songs. Wait, listen: a moment of silence is a note in the melody of Presence.

This momentous sliver of silence between sounds, between words, between thoughts, is treasure overflowing, inebriating nectar, and eternal healing. You can drink from this source any time of day, the infinitesimal serenity at your windowsill. If humanity practiced such listening for brief moments, we could transform the world very quickly.

Yet our schools and colleges never taught us to hear silence. From earliest childhood, they taught us to hear only the noise and sort it out, analyze it, argue with it, then make a louder noise to win the argument. None of our teachers said, "Listen to the silence between your thoughts."

That is the silence where we become waves instead of particles, waves of one another.

If you want your children to be creative, take them on a journey into the back yard. Show them the vast space between blades of grass. Then teach them to vanish through the portal between one junco's twitter and the next. In that brief Winter nothing is the first moment of creation, the silence that is always here before God says, 'Let there be light.'

Painting: "Winter Birds," Delilah Smith

12/12/2011

Warrior's Return



You enter my kingdom by ten thousand roads of death.
Each chariot wheel rolls toward its center.
No restless search for honey in some other garden,
but this dark syrup, blood thickening to stillness.
Some pray until dawn. Some ask, "Who listens?"
But you have become a wonder without words,
eyes dazed wide, worshiping the lance that pierced you.
Never crying, "Withdraw it!" you seek no immortality,
the whisper of your ebbing breath, my Name.
The song swells up your throat, a voice
that is yours and not yours, the way
smoke curls from a wick just blown out.
Then you return to my lips.

12/06/2011

A Revolutionary Act


Even if you don't "think" your laughter is real, just laugh and it will be. Your body is the channel of joy, not your intellect. Your flesh knew the beauty of its smile before you ever conceived of  "happiness." Smiling takes you to your source. It is a revolutionary act.

Your laughter is more ancient than your cerebral cortex. It bubbles up your spine and flowers on top of your brain stem, which is the tree of life in the wildest garden of your physiology. New research in neurology indicates that consciousness reflects in the cortex only when the cortex is flooded by energy from the hypothalamus and reticular activating system of the ancient brain.

Whatever the problem, simply wrap it in a belly laugh and you will see the problem, quite literally, in a new light.

12/05/2011

Wake

It's so crystal clear that each morning we choose to wake up or to wake back down. The moment we awaken, we can start looking for the same patterns of stress and negativity in the news of the world that the mind was mired in yesterday; or we can wake to the miracle of Presence, welcoming the revelation of a Winter sunbeam, the symphony of a raindrop. The mouse-mind is free to click on 'Yesterday' or 'Today.'

Take No Thought

"Take no thought." ~Matthew 6

Five times in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, "Take no thought" (μὴ μεριμνᾶτε), which also translates as, "Don't worry." He says this with reference to our anxiety over food, clothing, the body, the future, and life itself.

Jesus offers us the stunning possibility of life free from care, without "taking thought" for even the most basic provisions. By today's standards, Jesus would certainly be considered irresponsible, and probably insane.

Even the most devout disciple replies, "All right, Master, I will enter the lovely silence of no-thought, after I have solved all my problems."

But what if the solution to all our problems is this very silence, free from thought?

12/04/2011

Blame Doesn't Work

Americans are paralyzed by a culture of blame.
Right and left, rich and poor, 99 percent and 1 percent, we blame each other. The tea party blames labor unions. Liberals blame corporations. The occupiers blame Wall Street, and are so disdainful of government they refuse to join the political process to offer real policy changes. College graduates blame employers for not hiring, yet seldom ask themselves, “Why did I major in sociology instead of engineering?”

Blame loves to generalize. All bankers are crooked, all poor people lazy. All government programs waste money, federal regulations always dampen growth, and capitalism always makes people greedy. Our national IQ is hardly bolstered by such mindless stereotypes.

The blame game cripples our two-party system. But Steve Jobs observed, “The axis today is not liberal and conservative. The axis is constructive-destructive.”

Let Americans develop marketable skills instead of blaming scapegoats for our non-productivity. We are masters of getting and spending someone else’s money, but can we make anything?

The problem is not wealth or poverty. The problem is creativity. Here’s a radical suggestion: Learn to make something people actually want to buy, then sell it to them. And when we get really good at it, we can hire others to help us.

We were created in the image of a creator, not a beggar. We were created to create: not merely beauty and peace, but mutual abundance. Let Americans build things again. Valuing our own worth, we can value each other, instead of blaming each other.

Published in The Olympian, Olympia WA, 11/12/2011 

11/27/2011

Teach Us


Teach us to be gentle, Four Leggeds. Teach us the Way of the Fur.

It is said that people of the land know this. But when we occupy our hearts, we are all indigenous people. Not one of us is not a native in the land of divine silence.

Saraswati


I yearned for the great mother's breast.
Saraswati, Saraswati!
By the grace of my own yearning
I heard music.
I became milk.

God Is Even Bigger Than Care


"To care, and not to care..." ~T. S. Eliot

I  count out the rhythm of my heartbeat. I work so hard to keep it regular, I sometimes forget to breathe. Monitoring my lungs, I painstakingly exchange oxygen and CO2 in every little alveoli. Meanwhile, I carefully maintain the electrical gradient between sodium and potassium ions in each cell of my body, watching over every membrane to let in nutrients and expel toxins with utmost vigilance. Whew! Concentrating on 700 trillion cells at once isn't easy. Not to mention manually spinning every quark in the nuclei of each atom. No wonder I forget my telephone number.

If all this sounds ridiculous, then how much more ridiculous to imagine that the Divine must pay attention to the details of creation, and to each of our little cries!

Your body simultaneously carries out quadrillions of complex operations without the slightest effort, and without the slightest demand for your attention. In the same way, the cosmic organism administers each jot and tittle of karma, each minute cause and effect from the galaxy to the electron, without God's concern. Divine awareness rests in freedom from care. God has something much more important to do - dancing in delightful bewilderment.

For the Divine, this is all just happening. Her wonder is like yours and mine, only bigger.

11/24/2011

Grateful


The sign of an awakened heart is gratitude. Why not give thanks for every atom of dust - seeing that the ocean gives thanks to the wave, the tree gives thanks to the seed, and the universe gives thanks to its smallest creature? She holds you in the palm of her hand, whispering, "We are so grateful! None of us could be complete if you were not you!"

11/21/2011

A Reason To Be Happy?


Upanishadic texts declare that the very nature of existence (Sat), is bliss (Ananda). In the Bible's opening verses, Creator rejoices in creation because it is all pure Goodness (Tov). Every particle of the universe is made out of Bliss, molded from Goodness. Utterly delightful is each atom of dust.

If we think we need a reason to be happy, do we not deny the gracious gift of life itself? Therefor, give thanks for the simple, immediate, ineluctable purity of mere being. A wet voluptuous fern in the midnight forest taught me this.

11/13/2011

The Miracle of Knowing Less

 

I know less and less about anything but who I am. Empty and un-knowing, I gaze into the miracle of your eyes. I see petals falling from the Autumn rose: the naked center is so beautiful. I marvel at the engines of transparency in the wings of a dragonfly. Beyond understanding, I bow to every creature. When my forehead touches ground, the whole earth sings in silence, "You are the miracle!"

11/12/2011

Chocolate Is Not Vanilla

I took a non-dualist friend to an ice cream parlor on a hot day and said, "The treat's on me. Which flavor will you have?" The non-dualist said, "Chocolate, please." So I bought vanilla.

11/11/2011

Which Is I?

Every moment, mental chatter arises and dissolves. Yet the boundless Silence in which this Mind chatters has been here forever, and will be here forever more. Which do I identify as me: the Mind or the Silence that contains it? This is the only decision that really matters.

11/10/2011

Mater

Ever thickening mirage of interwoven mythologies, corruscations of I upon Ithe names of gods contending with gods, of thoughts the thoughts of thoughts, the mother's body of momentary splendors, virtual galaxies enwombed in perpetual darkness, diamonds of thisness not yet "this'd" by a word or a kiss of possibility, unspoken, dreamless, waking sleep: what Mater Matter is made of.

11/09/2011

Blessed Are the Uncertain

"Δp × Δx = h"  ~Werner Heisenberg
"Dwell in possibility"  ~Emily Dickenson

Blessed are you when you are uncertain.

Uncertainty is quite different from doubt. Anyone can doubt, but it takes a very courageous person to be uncertain, and to stay there, dwelling in the positive energizing force-field of uncertainty.

Uncertainty expands the space of what is possible. A doubter cannot tolerate possibility, and so becomes a true believer. But one who rests in uncertainty refuses to cling to any belief. Uncertainty is the secret force within the artist, the poet, the improviser, the creator. The electron's uncertainty in time and space  is the spirit in matter, the lightness in creation.

Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman said, "It's more interesting to live by Not Knowing than to live by knowing what might not be true."


Feynman's language, by chance of course, resonates with the radical Christian mystical tradition of "Unknowing":

"But now you will ask me 'How am I to think of God, and what is God?' and I cannot answer you except to say 'I do not know!' For with this question you have brought me into the same divine darkness, the cloud of unknowing, where I want you to be!" (The Cloud of Unknowing, 14th C.)

"Do thou, in the diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and non-being, that you may arise by Unknowing towards the union, as far as is attainable, with Him who transcends all being and all knowledge. For by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of yourself and of all things, you may be borne on high, into the super-essential radiance of the Divine Darkness." (Dionysius the Areopogite, 5th C.)


Blessed are you when you are uncertain. Maybe.

11/08/2011

Blameless


If you think the world is unfair, just imagine how much more rotten it would be if you had no one to blame.

Blaming brings us consolation in the midst of chaos, the consolation of pretending that someone is really in control. Blaming feels good because it assures us that there must be a few bad guys up in a sky scraper smoking cigars and oppressing us. If we could just string them from the lamp posts, the shattered crystal of our perfectly imagined world would magically recompose itself with the ping of a marvelous chime.

Blame is fantasy. We grew up and abandoned our imaginary friends, but we never stopped imagining scape goats. The real division between us is not money, religion, class or politics, but blame.

No one is to blame. Blame is an illusory link of causation formed out of ignorance through maya. Blame solves no problems

Our ultimate defense against impending chaos is the infantile fantasy that somebody is doing it to us. But what if no one is doing it, and things are just out of control, and the fat cat up in the sky scraper has no more power over the chaos than a white-bearded God in the clouds?

What if the world just runs down the old thermodynamic slope, and all of us, rich or poor, Tea Party Republican or Wall Street Occupier, share exactly the same fate: to commingle and shmooze in the glutinous broth of entropy?

Maybe bankers and stock brokers are just average dudes who happened to find those jobs because they were too dumb to get into medical school. Maybe they have no more actual power than the angry 99% camped out on the sidewalk below, eating other people's bread and using other people's plumbing. Maybe we're all freeloading off this planet, and none of us have any idea how to thank her for her bounty or restore what we have wasted.

What if it's not Obama's fault? What if it's not Mitt Romney's fault? What if its not the fault of the Federal Reserve or the Pentagon? What if those guys are just as confused about what's going on as you and I? What if the folks in the White House and Congress and Wall Street are all just winging it, without any conspiracy?

Maybe we're not totally screwed because liberals have kicked God out of schools, or because gay people get married, or because George Bush was an idiot. Maybe we're just screwed, and its nobody's fault.

Are Muslims to blame? Or Pagans? Or the Caterpillar Corporation? Nope. Not their fault. Is TV to blame for making our children stupid? Nope. Our children are just naturally stupid, but its not their fault.

And don't blame Adderall or Prozac. They just re-arrange a few atoms in an already doomed brain-full of Cocoa Puffs and Spaghetti-O's. Atoms are over-rated. Chemicals are blind. You can't blame all this on a few molecules.

Don't blame Dick Cheney either. He's just following his nature. Blame nature then? No, global warming is not to blame. CO2 is not to blame. And humans? Humans are part of nature, which means that whatever we do is natural. So how can you say humans are to blame? Then who in hell are you going to blame, the devil?

The real problem is that fundamentalist Christian lobbyists team up with Israeli infiltrators to pervert the Constitution and launch World War III against Iran... Right. That's just blame on steroids. The folks in Congress, Israel, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are just like you and me: husks of chaff driven by a fickle wind of indiscriminate chance, blameless.

The devil is not to blame. Sin is not to blame. You are not to blame. I am not to blame. Jesus gave too little too late, but he is not to blame. At least he tried.


There is no one left to blame. Are you OK with that?

So now that we've exhausted our blame, can we open our arms? Wider. After all, there's no one to reject any more. Hug everything.

With sad, sweet purposeless compassion, certain that we save no one, not even ourselves, weeping a gift of tears for the run-down universe just as it is, hug everything. Breathe in the whole pain, blameless, unblaming.

And then, please, consider the possibility that we might survive. A few more years anyway. Or a few thousand. Whatever. Especially if we give up this bitterness, this blame, just as Jesus did when he spread his arms and embraced the world, whispering, "Forgive them, father, they are total idiots. They have no idea what they're doing."

Yeah, we survive. There might even be time for laughter.

11/03/2011

Occupy Your Heart

All rich people are oppressors, just as all poor people are lazy.
All cops are fascists, just as all protesters are anarchists.
All bankers are criminals, just as all occupiers are hippies.
Corporations are instruments of imperialism,
just as labor unions are instruments of Stalinism.
Soldiers are baby killers, just as peace activists are terrorists.

One good stereotype deserves another.
Does it have to be us against them?
Let's look a little deeper now, behind the masks.

The money that supports your Americore grant was given
by a rich philanthropist who deeply admires
your work with the poor.
Village compasinos earning eighteen dollars a week
picked this coffee, the grapes in your wine,
and nearly everything you ate today.
The policeman who came to your door when you called 911
is a member of the 99%;
his job is threatened by state budget cuts.
The one holding that protest sign is a grandmother
and a retired science teacher.
That banker wears blue jeans and just made a micro-loan
to this once-homeless single mom
so she could start a pet-grooming business;
but the credit union he founded is closing
and now he can’t sleep nights.
This Wall Street occupier in the pup tent
is an Afghanistan War vet who can’t find a job.
That corporate executive would gladly hire you
if you had majored in engineering;
he manufactures solar panels to liberate you
from fossil fuels.
This union worker will take pay and pension cuts
if you promise to keep his job in America.
That Army officer will return to Afghanistan
for a fourth tour of duty
to protect school girls from men trying
to throw acid in their faces.
This peace activist used to be a Black Panther,
then he lost an arm in Viet Nam serving his country;
now he owns a successful business manufacturing
gourmet Barbecue Sauce.

Let all of them, and all of us, sit down together
at the roots of an enormous oak tree,
with no leaders, no PHD's, no political parties,
and just talk, just listen, just open up and
occupy our hearts.
When can we meet? Where is the tree?

11/01/2011

Important Virus Alert!

Beware the Viral Luminosity of the Heart
If you get a message in your heart that says, "Open Me, I Am Infinite Light," don't open it! It is a virus that will erase all the doubts and fears that have kept you safe in the illusion that you are finite, that you only exist as this body, that you are a weak fallen creature of lack, that anyone other than you is responsible for your happiness. This virus is extremely dangerous. It is God.

10/28/2011

Three Secrets of Abundance


1. No one is to blame. 

Blame is an illusory link of causation formed out of ignorance, feeding the sense of separation. Every time we blame someone, we make them the cause of our life and forfeit our freedom. We empower whoever we blame.

2. Money is an illusion that we can live without.

Money was invented to give few power over many. Money was never a necessity for human community. Humans will one day awaken to the realization that we could have lived without money all along, communicating at the subtlest level of trust, extending to one another unlimited credit and debt-forgiveness in every transaction.

3. We will discover the free, clean, unlimited energy source.

We will tap into the infinite energy that is inherent in pure empty space, liberating us from dependence on fossil fuels, nuclear power, and every previous source. Empty space overflows with abundant potential energy, in the form of virtual electrons and virtual photons of light. These virtual particles exist as fluctuations of the vacuum, vibrating in infinitesimal polarized fields. By tapping into the positive-negative polarity that resonates at every point of infinite space, we will draw unlimited energy from the void.

When we understand the relationship between these three truths, and see that one leads to the next, we will progress.

Namaste.

10/22/2011

Today, become so free you cannot find your way back to an I.

Namastes Me


You think you are liberal? God is way more liberal.

God's wild open-hearted forgiveness makes every radical look conservative. How else could humans get away with it?

Sometimes I think God should be more strict. But God knows what She's doing. She wants us to mature beyond the laws of right and wrong, fulfilling all possible commandments by following one simple rule:

Namastes Me, Namastes Me, Namo Namaha.

Bowing to the divine in you, I bow to the divine in me. We bow to the divine in each other.

10/21/2011

Is Detachment A Practice?


Does a Buddha feel sadness? Does a Buddha feel joy?

A Buddha is established in Upeksha, which we can translate as dispassion or detachment. Many Westerners conclude that to be a Buddhist one must suppress or annihilate all one's feelings. This misinterpretation makes Buddhism seem nihilistic and even depressing to Westerners.

Yet it is precisely the quality of Upeksha that empowers a Buddha to embrace the richness of human emotion, without getting stuck in it. A clear empty mirror reflects every details of the world, yet the world is really not in the mirror. The mirror is always clear and empty. When the events are over, they do not stick to the mirror. So detachment allows a Buddha to experience the passions of others with understanding and forgiveness, as if they were her own. Sakyamuni Buddha compared this state to a mother's infinite care for her only child. When the child cries, the mother feels the cry, yet does not share the baby's fear of abandonment or craving for milk. Such is Metta: universal compassion. Yet it is dispassion that allows for this compassion.

The void is bliss. Bliss is beyond both joy and sorrow. Yet in the emptiness of the transcendental void, a Buddha embraces both sorrow and joy. The Buddha feels the sorrow of sentient beings and weeps their tears. This empathy is called Mudita. The Buddha likewise feels the joy of sentient beings and laughs their laughter. This sympathetic delight is called Karuna. Yet both Mudita and Karuna are reflections in the empty mirror of Upeksha: deeply felt yet ever dissolving without a trace.

In the words of the English poet, William Blake: "He who clings to a joy, doth the winged life destroy. But he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise." Upeksha, Metta, Karuna, and Mudita are called "The Four Immeasurables." They are the emotions of a Buddha.

You are a Buddha when you do not resist any part of your humanity whatsoever, letting every laugh or tear arise like a cloud and dissolve like a cloud in the spacious sky of your heart. Laugh all your laughter, cry all your tears, but never try to be detached. Non-attachment already is. Upeksha, the space of Being itself, is not attached to anything that it contains. That space was here before you were born into it. And when you die, you will dissolve into that space, as into a living womb.

Do you have to practice space?  Of course not. You live and move in it always. Neither do you need to practice detachment. To practice detachment is like the sky trying to stop the wind.

10/16/2011

Leaderless?


They say the movement has no leadership. But perhaps there is a new kind of leadership, rooted in collaborative Unknowing, with a deep faith in Presence.

This movement is only a taste, a rehearsal for post-2012 leadership, which will see the end of outmoded governments.

What is our new leader's name? Issoa. Intuitive Spontaneous Self-Organizing Awareness.

Follow Her.
Painting by Regina Argentin

10/15/2011

Western Philosophy's Wrong Turn



With the so-called Enlightenment of the 17th century, Western culture found its religion but lost its soul, embraced the methods of empirical science but forgot the methods of meditation, invented objectivity but turned the self into a four-letter word.

"When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception.... We are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity..." (David Hume, A Treatise On Human Nature)

Why does Hume write, "I never can catch myself at any time without a perception?" Because he tries to catch a thing instead of a Self. He grasps. And in the very act of grasping, he breaks reality in two. The subject denies its own existence as it reaches out for the object of attention, instead of resting attention in its source. Like Hume, we live in a culture of grasping, a culture of distraction, a culture of flight from Self-awareness.

On Hume's oversight hangs the entire Age of Enlightenment with its Empirical Philosophers. Francis Bacon, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Newtonian physics, with its laboratory method of science, Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations," with its blind faith in free markets, even fundamentalist Christianity: all rooted in Hume's oversight. I say oversight rather than insight, for Hume's philosophy is doomed by its failure to perceive what is most obvious, immediate, and intimate to the act of perception: awareness itself.In honoring the content of awareness as a flow of perceptions, he overlooks the prior space that must be already present to contain its content. O Philosophers, you are so absent-minded in your knowledge that you cannot find your spectacles, though they sit on your nostrils! You do not see the invisible clarity through which colors and forms appear. You do not hear the silence through which sounds arise. You do not know the consciousness that is already there before a single thought is born!

All the modern perspectives spawned by your empiricism - from physical science to evangelical Christianity - insist on one principle: an objective interpretation of what is real. All assume that the world of the object, external to our subjectivity, is the only reality. Because the object is valued as real, the self is unreal. This devaluation of consciousness, as a reality in itself, leads the scientist to assume a material particle as the essential building block of nature, and leads the Christian to assume an external authority as the only source of revelation.

Dr. Hume, what is that formless and motionless space through which your perceptions pass in frenzied succession? If you are nothing but a "bundle of perceptions," then who is it who perceives them? Who is the witness of your thoughts - the "I"? Why do you overlook your Self?

O Philosopher! Overlooking the Self, you forget the Self. Forgetting the Self, you degrade the Self. Degrading the Self, you subject the Self to the institutions and armies of an ignorant world, a world inanimate and devoid of Spirit. Our economic and political crises, spawned by your philosophical materialism, cannot be solved by any progressive reforms. All reform movements are reactions to the problem, growing out of the problem, born of the same oversight. A problem is never solved by reacting to the problem, but by shifting attention to a prior level: the level of the cause. Therefore, economic and political problems have no material solution. Their solution is to know the Self.

Our problems have one cause, whether they are private or political: we mistake the sensation of things for the inward satisfaction that arises when our mind rests in the radiance of its source, which is no-thing. This world is at war because we grasp at money, land, weapons of dominion, food, clothing, naked flesh to fill the lusts born of mental distraction. The violent nihilism of our culture is the logical end of an argument that began in the 17th Century. For over three hundred years we have raised our children to believe:

* That there is nothing real inside me;
* Therefore, there is no good inside me;
* Therefore, the only real and only good lies in matter, ownership of property, and external authority;
* Even God must be an external authority, for God could not possibly dwell in my sinful soul;
* Therefor, I am bad, my intuition is untrustworthy, and my salvation is assured only through blind obedience to someone else.

We have come to the point where a great reduction is required. We need one thing: an act of simplification. We need to turn the beam of our attention 180 degrees inward, to shine upon its source.

Resting there, Philosopher, become wise. Not in sensation of objects, or in grasping of thoughts - for thoughts are also objects - but in the glory that arises when you dive beneath all sensation, all thought, and touch bottom. Yes, touch the dark and formless ground where the subject alone becomes an object of its own awareness. This happens where I meet AM, with no noun predicated on that AM. For I am not a noun. I am not a man, an American, or a Christian. Those nouns are accidental to my essence: but what I know as AM is essence itself. I must return to an infinitely simple relationship with the ground of my Being.

Philosopher, rejoice in the reverberations of pure consciousness. Your magical stone, your wish-granting jewel, is simply the no-thing where awareness knows itself. That tremor of awareness, pulsation of Self on Self, strikes creation's fire, producing wave upon wave of reflection, a cosmos whose energy is pure awareness. As an algebraic equation appears to be composed of numbers, yet has no other substance but abstract intelligence, so all the complexity required to manifest this universe arises from the stillness whose sole business isto be aware.

We can now clarify the colossal mistake of Western philosophy, and ease the crisis of perception that dis-eased our science and religion for centuries. We begin to see the Truth: Consciousness is not produced by an evolving complexity of material particles. On the contrary, matter is produced by consciousness, imagining itself in evermore complex reflections of its first and only Self-Reflection.

Thus, religion and science are grounded in the same awareness. The founders of modern quantum physics told us as much, but few listened. Einstein wrote: "The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and the noblest driving force behind scientific research." And physicists Arthur Eddington, founder of quantum mechanics and president of the Royal Academy of Science said, "I assert that the nature of all reality is spiritual, not material nor a dualism of matter and spirit... I contemplate a spiritual domain underlying the physical world."

Plato tried to tell us this at the source of Western philosophy. But we listened to Aristotle, the materialist, instead of Plato, Hume instead of Leibnitz, Calvin instead of St. Theresa. We sought reality out there, when all the time it was arising from within us. Now it is time to strip naked, dive deep, touch bottom, and come up singing again....

10/12/2011

Occupy Yourself

 

 Being pissed off is not the answer. It only feels like the answer.
Then you discover that you've given half of your energy to the very people you're pissed off at, in the form of your outraged shadow.

I wasted most of my life blaming, scapegoating, projecting my anger on the "enemy." That's what my culture taught me to do as a "man." But I was just making the "enemy" bigger and more powerful by feeding him with my aggression. Now the enemy, the slogans tell is, is "the rich." For a while there it was Muslims. Then it was "the far right." We just keep replacing one scape goat with another: we need someone to hang our shadow on.

I'm finished with toxic blame. Projecting anger and blame wastes half my energy, energy I could be spending actually creating something - like joy, like beauty, like abundance. 
I refuse to buy into any more conflict between Rich and Poor, Left and Right, Christian vs. Muslim, Israel vs. Palestine. These are just shadowy generalizations, not living people. Nobody is 1% or  99%. We're all 100% human. 
In the 60's we shouted the same slogan we hear today from the Wall Street occupiers. We were convinced that "all the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few ruling-class families." Remember that? The truth we didn't want to hear, and still don't, is this: if we evenly redistributed the wealth of the 1%, we'd each get a few hundred dollars and spend it in a week without creating a single job. 
The problem isn't wealth or poverty. The problem is that Americans just don't make stuff anymore. This is not an economic crisis, but a crisis in creativity. If you need a better income, you have to make something or do something that people want to buy, then sell it to them. That is your declaration of economic independence.

Let us each honor our unique power. We were created in the image of a creator, not a beggar. We were born to make, not to take. But self-worth is difficult for many of us. It's amazing how many folks feel bad about asking a fee for doing what they love and do best. They think they have to give it away. What they're really telling the world is, "I'm not worth anything."

Here is the economics of full employment and mutual abundance: I will honor your creative power and pay you for it. You will honor my creative power and pay me for it. Each of us produce a real product doing the work that we love, and place a worthy price on it. Does that sound selfish? It's not nearly so selfish as whining with resentment against "the rich."

I don't need to occupy Wall Street. I need to occupy my Self.

10/11/2011

God & I

Sometimes there is unity. And sometimes there is God and I. Why should two be less than one? I talk to God without words, the way a sparkling stream talks even in the darkness, flowing from water to water. God isn't interested in my reasons for believing or disbelieving. God is interested in my friendship. If  God and I were not friends, we'd have to settle for oneness.

10/09/2011

Science?

 

Ultimately, the purpose of science is to validate the benefits of laughing, dancing, and singing God's name.


10/06/2011

A Sign

 
Let the sign of the movement not be a raised fist, but the Abahya Mudra, the raised hand of the Peace blessing, Eye of Wisdom in its palm, so open.

Abahya means "without fear." Fear closes fists and hearts. The spirit of peace opens hands and hearts.

10/05/2011

A Platform for the 99% Party

Corporate lobbyists own both major parties. The 99% Movement has the energy, but is not yet focused into a political strike force. 

Perhaps the next step for this  movement is a viable third party: the Progressive People's Party of America. We need candidates and concrete legislative plans. But first we need a focused party platform. Here's a potential one to get the discussion moving.

* Rid politics of private money: institute public campaign financing.

* Cut military spending in half. Bring home the troops. The age of empire is over.

* Link educational reform to the green economy: Make sustainability the basis of public school curriculum. Inspire students to develop clean energy technologies, and life-styles of environmental harmony. Use game theory and internet computer gaming to pool the nation's collective intelligence and produce collaborative solutions to green energy problems.

* Extend the 7% FICA withholding tax to all earned income, funding single-payer national Medicare for all citizens. This will grow new businesses, because entrepreneurs won’t have to worry about health insurance for their families and employees.

* Stop lying about Social Security, which is perfectly solvent. Just quit robbing the SS fund to pay other debts.

* Use tax incentives to promote worker-owned cooperatives as an alternative to corporations, so that companies are run by the people who actually make the products, not stockholders on Wall Street. (The successful pattern for this is the Mondragon company is Basque Spain: LINK).

* Drop the international banking cartel and the Federal Reserve. Instead create a network of publicly-chartered regional banks and credit unions. Explore the use of barter-credits to replace debt.

* End agribusiness subsidies. Instead, subsidize a network of local organic family-owned farms.

* Drop the two big lies of Reaganomics. (1) Wealth that accumulates at the top does not trickle down to create American jobs. (2) A nation must tax wealth to survive.

* Therefor, stimulate job growth by ending Bush tax cuts, and use the revenue to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, pipelines, electrical grids, wind farms, rural high-speed broadband, and rapid transit for cities. Give priority to sub-contractors who employ green technology.

Yes we can make real change. 

(Published in McKlatchy Newspapers including: The Olympian, Olympia WA, May 31 and the Tacoma News Tribune, July 9)

10/04/2011

Sandbox

Just beyond the edge of our sandbox, where we throw sand in each others' faces and make each other cry, ceaselessly whining, "Give me that, it's mine!", our Mother watches patiently over us, whispering, "Children, when you finish your hissy-fit, I will make you lunch."

Unclosed


Be a horizon, become a curve.
No need to take sides
when you spread your arms.
The tantrum of this world
is smaller than your body,
smaller than your rising falling chest.
Be unclosed, an embrace.
from the galaxy of your crown
to the belly of your atoms,
one breath.
This is how Jesus died,
whispering "forgive them,"
and woke up inside every flower,
every eye.
Something in you has awakened
to infinite rest.
If your heart did not just open,
what did?

10/03/2011

The Courage To Be Neutral


‎"It is not enough to be neutral. I must passionately choose sides in the conflict."

"It is not enough to take sides. A deeply centered part of me must remain neutral."

Both of these statements are true. In the heat of conflict, each side stereotypes the other, projecting its shadow of fear on the adversary until what is beheld is not the other, but the darkest aspect of oneself. Thus the Capitalist and Socialist, Israeli and Palestinian, Believer and Non-Believer, energize the darkest aspects of each other. In such conflicts, the only sanity is neutrality.

In progressive circles, it has become fashionable to condemn neutrality as implicit cooperation with the oppressor. But neutrality can be the deepest form of courage, and the way to peace.

Without neutrality, where is the meeting place, the space for listening, for mediation, for conflict-resolution? Standing at the heart of conflict, with the courage of neutrality, our very Being defuses polarity and dissolves fear. Our neutrality may be the only place left where both sides can recognize their common humanity.


In such conflicts, neutrality is the majestic expanse of awareness itself, embracing both sides with compassion. Neutrality is the wisdom of emptiness, free from judgments and stereotypes about the other. Neutrality is the stillness, the silence, where both sides come to cleanse their mirrors. In the simple clarity of neutral space, enemies discover that they are the reverse images of each other. Then they can cease projecting their shadows.


In any conflict, if your heart feels drawn to neutrality, don't be intimidated into taking sides. After all, you may be the last sane person in the room.