Fall

April 28, 2017

This talk describes a truth I often find difficult to stomach in principle, but so lovely when experienced.

“At the top of the world, the pinnacle of experience, a window opens and you can see with unsurpassed clarity the total futility of everything you have achieved. The pleasure is still there, the sensation that lured you all along, but what vanishes before your eyes is any notion of accomplishment. We do not succeed here. I’m not saying that we fail, though that is often what we call the feeling we have; I am just saying that it really was perfectly and literally for nothing. There is nothing achieved, nothing built, nothing grown. Nothing materializes at the point of that apex, nothing is grasped, nothing in fact is there, and so the futility of it dawns on us like a kind of clarity of impression, a kind of cleanness that all the acquiring and striving and becoming always masked. And we notice this peak experience is just that, an experience, a feeling-state, a set of ideas, a conditioned response, a sense once more of ‘me’ being ‘me’ and believing in the perceived meaning of that. But there is nothing gained. And that window of clarity can—if it is permitted, if you do not turn away from it—bring a great disappointment, as all the ideas you had about the greatness of your own achievements and your own purpose, the importance of those things, come crumbling down about you. But that is the very fall we most need, that sense of disappointment is itself the remedy; it is the remedy for the illusions, the remedy for the misdirected attentions, the remedy for the striving itself that is, when it is all said and done, too exhausting to be maintained anyway. We need these peak experiences, we need to push the limits of our own ambition, we need to test ourselves, and we need to find what’s really here; there is no substitute for this experience. But the great and beautiful result of this all is that we will fall. We will be disappointed. We will glimpse the pure and total emptiness at the very height of the world’s experiences. The fall is the magic. The fall is the landing place. The fall is the love. Be let down a little more completely than you allow yourself now. Be disappointed; there is truth there. And when the pure futility of all of that achievement, the absolute emptiness of everything you thought you had gained shines before you, please let it light you up. Let it light up your vision, light up your knowingness, light up the truth; and let that radiant, beautiful fall be your perfect relief.”

Life

April 14, 2017

“Life is not a series of events, not a list, chronologically arranged, of happenings, not time-bound, in fact, at all, neither limited nor organized the way we perceive that. This is an apparency that belies life’s true nature and structure, a seemingness which but veils what truly is. Life is unmeasured, uncaptured into moments, indivisible and so vastly and overwhelmingly outgradient that we must, for a time, make time its captor, its boundary, its structure. We don’t yet have the tolerance needed to absorb life in its true form, and to perceive rightly is to absorb, there is no difference. We must make ourselves stronger before we can even allow ourselves to see life as it is, in its true colors, in its radical immediateness, in its self. Until then, we must parcel and divvy up, separating life’s magnitude into some semblance of a reality with which we are at all prepared to contend. We create an illusion in this way, but it is a necessary and temporary one only. As we grow stronger, pieces of our own self-generated illusion fall away, revealing incrementally life’s true face, life’s true power. We cannot rush this, but we can want the unveiling, desire the revelation of life as it is; and through our own desire, life spills through all the tiny cracks we have created and helps push all those boundaries a little bit wider. Where we long for it, life greets us as itself, as it truly is, released from its prison of time, its illusion of smallness. We are not quite strong enough to be kissed completely by what life really is, but we will be, as sure as sunshine, as sure as breathing, and much more certain still. Life will envelop us, life will consume us in its totality, in its all-lovingness, in a kind of fullness we have never yet glimpsed. Life will make us like unto itself, whole without end, full without end, rich without end. But first we must learn to be strong, strong enough to endure that much blessing, strong enough, finally, to not fear what we already are but, instead, only to give thanks.”

Presence

March 31, 2017

“Give to the good of the world your presence. It does not need your kindness or your contribution. It is not lacking your opinion or even your empowerment. The world is not lost without your creativity or your smile. But the very fabric of things needs, and deserves, your presence. You are here, but you are not here. You stand before yourself in the mirror but only as image, most times, and not as a person. You occupy space, but that is your body and not your self. There is breath and movement, words and actions, but there is not presence. Stand still, alone and silent, and if you have presence you have filled the world with all it is lacking; but make and do, attempt and accomplish—without the full palpable sense of your own presence, these are meaningless, forgotten, vanishing. There is nothing here to be; it is only to be here that matters. And you may fight or sulk, or help or be still, and these are all the same if you have within you and through you your own presence. You live here, but life is not an action, it is something given to you. You must be the empty vessel that it fills, and that takes acute and constant presence. “Where am I right now?” Ask yourself this. Where have you traveled to in your distraction and your numbness? What place of pain or excitement, what hope, what memory? All of these, I tell you, require you to leave yourself, and that empty husk that remains while you are elsewhere, forgetting, is no contribution to this place, to this plane and this time. But if you are here, even briefly, then you have accomplished the single purpose of any sentient life. We are here for no other reason than to truly be here; it is no more complicated than that. And while this is simple, it is also very difficult—difficult to practice, difficult to find, and difficult to understand. But if you have ever felt, suddenly, very, very alive, as if everything became suddenly, shockingly clear and simple and calm, then you know what I mean, you know what your own presence feels like. And if you believe in your misguided mind that you have ever felt the presence of another, I tell you, that is not what it was; it was you, every time, all along; it was always your presence that you noticed, and it always will be.”

Faith

March 16, 2017

“The gladness in your heart won’t catch you when you fall. It makes for an inspiring day, a beautiful day, but it sleeps at night and in the dark you must find something else to rely upon. The gladness in your heart is made of sunshine; it is made of things easy and free, made of all the small gladnesses the world offers you, made of the sunniness and the brightness of life, made in the day. And it is not that that joy has fled you when night comes and the pain sets in, it’s not that it is gone; but it is resting awhile, latent, in its potential, withdrawn into the quiet recesses of your open heart. That kind of gladness is not a crutch, not an aid able to see you through your difficult moments; it is not meant to be wisdom, it is not meant to buoy you through the pain. And so, when you are in pain, when it is dark all around you, do not ask, “Where has my joy gone? Why am I without my gladness?” Ask instead, “What is here now? What will see me through this place? What is it that visits me when I am so low and the world so bleak?” Certainly your inner guidance is there, its voice like all the patience you can’t muster for yourself, its kindness the kindness of things already understood. But you have, too, your own resources, those firm places inside yourself that cradle you when you cannot stand on your own. And these are not places of wisdom, or understanding, for, in that pain, in that darkness, confusion is your natural state. And they are not places of soothing reassurance, some way you might tell yourself that all is well, because it is very clear to you that it is not. And so, what gives firmness to your own self-support? What enables you to hold your own hand through the dark night? It is courage, sometimes, that special aspect of will that enables us to persevere because we are braver than we think we are. But I would say that the ground, the very foundation of your own ability to cradle yourself in such dark and painful times is faith, that it is faith that gives resolve to your own self-support, faith that carries you and that loves you as yourself in a way that only that can. Faith is the way you say to yourself that things are not all right and that they do not need to be, that pain is here and it is consuming you and you do not need to be preserved. Faith holds so firm to the notion of universal harmlessness that there is no chaos, no confusion, no catastrophe and no pain which can ever really hurt you, ever damage you in any meaningful way at all. And, in faith, you can be held in this notion yourself, cradled in this very understanding, alive on the exquisite edge of this vulnerability and open to all the possibilities that vulnerability brings. Faith is the firmness in your own mind which makes you sane when you want to be otherwise, and it is the sweet depth of certainty where everything else has none at all. And it is yours if you will have it. It is not the responsibility of your guidance to lend it to you, not the prerogative of your teachers or guides to inspire it in you; it is yours and yours alone—your choice and your blessing. Go forth in faith, and whether or not you have gladness, you are held aloft, you are cradled, you are well. Go forth in faith and there is nothing you cannot bear. Nothing that has been and nothing that will ever be can disturb or destroy you. Have faith and you have your sanity back, you have your touchstone, you have your ground. Have faith and you have everything you need.”

Love

February 24, 2017

“Love gives to us all of our experiences. Love blesses us through every sight and sound of this world, and in that benediction we are able to finally learn that love is all there is. We are tormented by this existence. There are periods of contentment, and even moments of bliss, but without exception every single person has enemies here—things that are too painful, too trying, things that stalk and haunt us, things that we cannot be rid of. And so this place, this plane of form existence, this earth, is a hard place, indeed, for us to find true love. But that is also its secret blessing. It is only in the midst of torment and limitation, of struggle and suffering, of confusion and difficulty, that love serves to shine its brightest and bestow its deepest help and guidance. In the realms of no suffering, what can be love’s role? But here, where it is hidden among all the things that haunt us, it is priceless, more precious than anything we could hope to gain. And it is hidden, yes, but not in the sense that it is scarce, in the sense, rather that it is so abundant, so near, so varied and yet so constant, that it is unrecognizable to us in almost all of its forms. Every single thing here, every piece of matter, every energetic wave, every substance, every emotion, is in fact two and not one: it is itself, its form, with all of its attendant qualities, and it is secondly, and always, pure love. Everything, no matter what we think of it or believe about it, no matter how it feels to us, no matter whether or not it is understood, is these two, never less, and always complete in each of its two aspects. And so, when I say, ‘Love is everything’, I mean it as pure literalism; everything is love’s voice, love’s exhale, love’s graciousness, love’s tenderness, love’s beauty. And you needn’t try to see things as love in order to understand this for yourself, you need only to see things as they already are. Love is the thing itself. It is that simple, that unadorned, that transparent. Look right at anything in this world and love is what you will see. Listen to any voice, any whisper, any vibration, any sound, and love is all you have heard. Feel anything as itself, any emotion, any sensation, any part of your never-ending story, and that is love. Your senses were made so love could be your prize, so knowledge of love could be your knowledge, so wisdom could finally accompany perception. But you must allow all of what is here or love cannot visit you. If you are closed to anything at all, love waits just on the other side of your refusal and your ideas, so close to you that if you were to but whisper, ‘Yes’, you would have it in floods. You will feel pain here; that is assured. You will have confusion, because we are made of confusion. But every single time you allow the world, or any part of it, to be what it actually is, you will have love; you will have it alongside the pain, alongside the confusion, but you will have it. And you will find out that it is enough, that the balm of that caresses you in ways you didn’t even know you needed and leaves you whole again, leaves you as you are supposed to be, and that is penetrated by love, absorbed into love as it is absorbed into you, loved by everything that is. The need to let love in will one day disappear, because eventually you will succumb to it completely and there will be no difference between you and the love that always was. But until that vanishing, let the world love you in every way it’s trying to, through all of its faces, all of its substance, all of its seeming difficulty. The whole process is really just this: Let everything in until the world itself loves you into vanishing.”

Courage

February 6, 2017

“Blessed are they who can walk through the line of fire and never care. Blessed are those, shattered and broken, who stay their course anyway, who walk still, without thought for their destiny, and care nothing for the chaos around them. Those few have a courage in their hearts that we all must look for. They know what it is like to be beaten, and they know that it doesn’t matter. They know what it is like to have lost and have no hope of winning, but still to have that fire which is their life and their purpose intact and burning. Blessed is the one who can go to his death with his eyes on God. He is royalty; he is the most noble among us. Blessed are the poor, but only if they have his courage; without it, they are nothing. We have died a thousand times and it has never diminished us; why then can we not all look on the face of God without turning away? Why can we not all remember the peace that outlasts us, that peace we all know and only temporarily forget? Why are we not all that brave? Bravery is wisdom; it s nothing more. Bravery is the remembrance that you always die and it never matters, that you always lose, and nothing can stop your heart from beating or your life from continuing. If you knew you were eternal, would you grieve so much? If you knew you had no boundaries, would you protect them so obstinately? Courage is remembrance; courage is infinity speaking in your willingness; and courage is possible. Every single one of you can remember eternity. Did you find it today? Did you remind yourself? Did you prize it? Walk on, eyes on God. Wisdom would have you do nothing less. Remember your defeat only so you know it doesn’t matter, and suffer your dying only to remember that you outlive yourself over and over again. Your eternity is untouched, your boundarilessness is uncompromised, and the deepest recesses of your own heart are deeper still, and never end.”

Love

January 20, 2017

“There is no use being little and unholy. Being loveless, you are small. You make of your life a trinket and a bauble. Being less than life, you never glow, you never sing, you never move your feet in the dance they want. Being your unholiness, you shrink—you shrink not from the world’s view, and never from God’s, but from your own substance, your own power, your own potential, and you shrink evermore from your own loving. Lovelessness is unholiness; that is all unholiness ever means. Has your heart broken today? If it hasn’t, you have not loved enough. And did your mind rupture, finally, and become still? That, too, is love doing its work. Peace is only the aftermath; look for love. All that power, all the fullness that life has, all the rage and all the tenderness—it is all in love. The mind breathing, finally expanding, that is love. The body moving, finally one with its own longing, that is love. What a small notion we’ve made of love’s glory. What a sad, small thing it has become. Let not your life reduce love; let it sing in your fullness, in your courage, in your quiet. Let it move in your embracing and in your aloneness. Solitude is love’s best friend, and kindness is loves inevitable consequence. Love what you have come here to love; there is no other instruction. And make no exceptions with your longing, but do not waste your time on smallness. To grasp and beg is not to embrace; to plead and shrink is not to live. Never cower—there is no time for that. Live all this life and there is love there. Live all this life and there is hope. Live as you are drawn to and you will live with no moment wasted and no regret possible. And never shrink; love won’t have it. It needs you to give back out of this life that it has given you.”

Freedom

January 4, 2017

“Lose your way and you have lost, too, all of your obstacles. Cry if you must for that parting, but weep yourself dry and begin again. What you reach for is not your liberation but another way that you whip yourself into submission. You are a slave reaching for nothing but an easier chore, one less brick on your load, begging for your master’s mercy. There’s nothing worth reaching for that is not the unbinding of every chain and every fetter. Nothing but your total liberation is worth anything at all. You count yourself lucky when the master says, ‘An extra ration for you today.’ What luck is there in that? Will you not wake tomorrow in the same chains, with your greatest dream being only one more ration? Such fortune should not make you smile. It means nothing if your slavery is intact. And it means nothing when the handle of the whip is in your own hand. You bow to a god that means you nothing but harm. It is a way you have imagined God to be, and then you have followed the dictates of your own imagination. God does not wish you these chains. God is the voice calling through the dark forest, begging you leave and come home. God is the ray of light that says, ‘Right now, put down your heavy load, loosen your grip on your whip, and walk away.’ There is no God in your prison, no God in your self-loathing, and no God in the way that you torture yourself even for being human. But God is in every breath of real freedom. God is in every word that comes from the liberated voice. God is the heart that says, ‘I will be free, or I will die trying.’ Escape now. Every moment you wait is a new lesion on your already tattered skin, on the back that bleeds and breaks for transgressions long passed, for guilt that seems bottomless, for pain that is only born anew with every lash. Light your way with your intention, the intention to be so utterly free that nothing threatens you and nothing is too much to lose, and even death is only a way into greater freedom.”

Intention

December 19, 2016

“The fire that lights your innermost way burns because you intend it to. You see what is before you because you have willed yourself to see. You perceive the path not by its own light but by the light of your intention. Simply said, you want to know the truth; you intend to know the truth; you mean to know the truth. And when you are dark and the way lost and blindness set upon you, that is the light of your intention gone out momentarily, flickering though not entirely extinguished. In that moment, you have willed that you will not see the way, that you will not know the truth, that you will not face the real. In that moment, you have taken, as it were, a holiday from truth-seeking. You are stalling, though not for long, because nothing can keep you permanently from that light, nothing can keep you blind for good once intention has lit that fire in the first place, nothing can keep you lost, hopeless or afraid forever because your will has spoken and it will speak again. You are not here knocking on the door to reality because you are forced to, you are here because you desire it, and if you did not desire it, then there would be nothing in the world that could bring you here. You are here knocking for truth to open its face to you, asking to be allowed to see what is real because you have the felt hunger for that and you intend to have that hunger satisfied. And so, please remember, no one has set you upon this path and no one coerces you to stay; the universe has not colluded to force you here. You mean to tread where you tread, however dark the waters or barren the landscape, and you would not be here, opening your eyes to the truth, if you did not love the truth for itself and as itself more than you love so many of the other things the world has to offer you. And for your love, the truth repays you with itself, that blessed knowing, that glorious vision, that seeing that is, finally, right-seeing. The truth calls to you just as it calls to everyone, but you answer because you want to, you follow it because you love it. Even in your forgetfulness and distraction, try to remember this, remember your love, remember your hunger. Remember that this is exactly where you have willed yourself to be.”

Faith

December 3, 2016

“Abandon your reason; let faith take over. Just for now, just for a moment, let go of what you know and why, let go of what you understand and how, let go of logic and of perception, let go of contemplating and cognating. Let go of the thinking process altogether; faith does not reside there. Let go into blindness, into an abstraction which seems groundless. Float there. Let go into unknowing, into transience, into fathomlessness. Let go of the grasp you have on all things solid and sensical, the footing you have in surety and meaning. Let go of your orientation, of your perspective, of your knowing. Let go and fall through empty space, through uncertainty, in darkness, unanchored. Let go until you land, and when you do, it will be in faith. When there is nothing else to hold onto, the net of faith stretches itself under your falling form and catches you. It does so because, beyond all concepts, beyond reason and logic, beyond knowing, there is a greater and a deeper anchor and orientation. That orientation we call faith. It does not mean that you choose an alternate concept and believe in that instead. In true faith, there is nothing in particular which is believed in; rather there is the sense, found but not formulated, that what is here is of a nature so vastly different from anything you have ever perceived that there is no reason to fear falling, or to fear anything at all. It is the abolishing of all ideas for the sake of a kind of seeing, a seeing which is so immediate, so instantaneous, so clear, that it is without any reference whatsoever to the mind. To have faith is to see without eyes and to know without ideas; it is to perceive the truth not as a concept, not as a belief, but as an inescapable and all-permeating reality. Faith is the other side of knowing, where radical absolute uncertainty leads to the most permanent kind of ground. Faith takes what is unknown and makes it apparent, and takes what is known and turns it into illusion. Faith promises nothing; there is nothing to gain by it, nothing to learn, no achievements or progress it will lead you to. But to live in faith, beyond reason, even for a moment, is its own reward. Once without the mind, even for only a moment, it is impossible to desire that mind the same in the future. Faith takes us from the certainty which causes our suffering through the uncertainty which mends it and into the place where suffering can be forever forgotten. It is worth a moment of your time. It is worth this moment. Faith lives here already alongside logic and concepts, but ever deeper than either. Faith is already yours. Let go and find it.”