Gratitude

November 22, 2017

“Give to God, but not praise; give Him gratitude. Imagine everything that you have and everything that you love, and if you still do not feel gratitude then remember that you have life, a spark of holiness itself, playing itself out in you, living itself through your flesh, greeting every day through your eyes. And then, if still there is no gratitude, imagine that you have only one moment left to live, only one more second in which you will draw breath, and for that one second, if that is all you have left, then I think you will find that you want that moment and that the only attitude which makes any sense for the brief remainder of your life is gratitude. If you knew that everything you already have and everything you already love was as precious as that one remaining second, then perhaps you would feel grateful for everything that has filled your life. And everything that has filled your life is God; it is all God made manifest for you. And so, when I say, Give gratitude, I mean give it back to all that you have for all that you have, and by doing that you have thanked God. Can you have gratitude when you love something, instead of just desire it? And can gratitude be part of ownership so it is not all control? Gratitude changes “having” from greed into joy. God has given you everything you have asked for, and will never stop. If there cannot be gratitude for that then when should it begin, and how much will be enough? Give thanks, and give it daily and with your heart. God is already here with you, in your life—in that spark—and in your fortune. Praise be for that. Thanks be for that.”

Changing

November 4, 2017

Here is a brief meditation/prayer on emptiness:

“Everyone wants to be perfect. It is everyone’s wish, this purity, this gracefulness, this constancy. Everyone wants to remain, and remain utterly perfect. But we are the changing ones, and in this we are perfect. We are the circles, the coming and going, and that is our constancy. We are the perfect nothing that lasts, and lasts perfectly. We were not made in static deathlessness and dark, unmoving breathlessness. We were not made the changeless solid, the seeming forever. We were made as we are, and we are one with our own emptiness. Be as perfect as the sun burning itself up day after day. Be as perfect as the moon, eclipsed and then illumined. We are the changing ones, we are the perfect, perfect dying, and we are the light ones, perfect and shining. We will not be the deathless. Thanks to God for the perfect, perfect changing. Thanks be to God for the dying, for the light and the shining.”

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.”

Happiness

February 19, 2016

“People arrive here for all different reasons. They come alone and they leave alone. In between they give to varying degrees. They take as they need and sometimes more. They lie or they cheat or they are honest. They love or they do not. But always there is life expressed. No matter the virtue or the vice in a particular life, it is still life and, as such, every moment of it is divine and no life any more divine than any other. The manifestation itself is a spark of holiness. There is nothing unholy in holiness; nothing lived can be anything other than divine. And so in a great and perfect way it makes no difference what you do. You cannot be unholy. Even as you swear at God and turn your back you are only, even then, expressing divinity; there is no option in that. You were born, and so you are God. What you do here matters only to your happiness; it matters never to your essence. I will say ‘Do not lie,’ because lying will make you miserable. I will say ‘Do not take what you do not need,’ because having too much is suffering. But please know that if you do lie and you do take, if you are cruel and if you hate God, you are nonetheless the same as God and you are the same as each other. You live in God because you live as God, quite without regard to your circumstances or your qualities. And so there is nothing that will draw you any closer to God; such a thing is simply not possible. But you can be—and I think you wish to be—more happy than you are, more content than you feel regularly. This is where any instruction is of use to you; it is of use to your happiness. I cannot say it any plainer: If you wish to be with God there is never anything you’ll need to do, but if you wish to be happy, you may need to take some action, you may need to stop lying, you may need to stop blaming yourself and other people for things that are far beyond anyone’s control, and you may need to leave things you don’t need rather than acquire them and contribute to your own misery. It’s simple, really, to be happy, though it is difficult. And simpler still to be God—and this, this is never difficult. There is no effort, there is no choice, there is nothing else here but God in an infinite number of ways, in an infinite number of forms, in you, nothing here but holiness expressed, divinity made manifest. Don’t reach for that, reach for happiness.”

Kindness

July 13, 2015

This talk from a recent daylong sitting retreat touches on the essential role kindness plays in meditation:

“Kindness is the means by which you are able to penetrate your own self, your own twistings and contractions, your own fears and hesitations, all those unlit places that are otherwise impossible to visit. Kindness is the way you make meditation accessible to yourself. It is only because you are kind to your knees that they can bend and lay still for a period that is not natural to them, only because you are kind to your inner child that he or she might rest or speak, whichever is needed, during your meditation. And it is only because of your own kindness and patience to the seemingly flawed and foundering physical and astral forms that you come to have any sense at all how incredibly kind that universal power I call God is towards those forms itself. God does not, cannot, and would not ever condemn or judge any part of you. But even more unbelievably, that wholeness, that oneness, has a kind of deep affection and love for every single flawed and broken aspect of you, that is nearly incomprehensible to us in our human smallness. But if you are incredibly kind to yourself, kind towards everything you find, loving towards everyone you meet within you, then you may start to approximate that love which is God’s love, that acceptance which is God’s total understanding of you, an understanding that is so deep it makes forgiveness itself irrelevant. And so when I say to be kind to your body during these periods of sitting, which are actually quite difficult for it, I do not mean tolerate the aches and pains, or grudgingly acknowledge that you are, indeed, uncomfortable, I mean love what is in pain, and if it is reasonable and possible, comfort and fix what is in pain, and when that is not possible, be with it so the body does not have to suffer alone. It is the same for all the parts of you, for so many parts of us suffer, and so much of that astral, mental, and psychological pain is revealed during periods of continuous meditation. We are challenged when we sit, and it will always be so, and so please be almost unbearably kind to everything in you that begins to suffer during this process, whether that suffering appears as thinking or boredom, as anxiety or grief. Be kinder than you’ve ever considered you needed to be, and see if that is not exactly the thing that penetrates the deepest.”

Life

June 22, 2015

“What makes the heart inside your voice sing? What makes the soul at the center of your mind know? What brings joy to the places in your brokenness that have never known such before? What is it that applauds when you smile and takes its own sustenance from the fact of your growing? What thing at the heart of life itself both feeds and is fed by you? There is something breathing in this worldly plane, and it is not a lung and it is not air. Something fills these molecules and that impenetrable energy of which we are all composed. Something penetrates us, just as it penetrates all existence, and it gives to that existence not meaning, never that, but life—life not as energy or matter, not as birth or growth as opposed to dying, but life as that spark of divine animation which is inexhaustible, ever-present, and transcendent. We are made of it, this life, and without it we are not at all. Within it, we have found ourselves moving and being; it is what exists permanently and irrevocably at the core of, even, suffering. It is the thing which makes all pain bearable. Do not distrust it when you find it but wonder, instead, that something so raw and so fragile could yet be indestructible. Let it put the song back in your body. Let it grow you in its own natural and inevitable way. Let it christen you, making you new again, giving you the hope that always lies at beginnings. It is always here but we cannot always hear its singing; for that, you must let it resonate in the chamber of your life and reverberate through the structure of your body. We are not born into much luck but we do have this, this one great blessing—that life, indestructible, ever-potent and absolutely transcendent, has pierced us to our very core and we cannot be separated from it. Use that blessing; it is sometimes the only one you will find you truly have. Sing what is inside you before too much time has gone and you can no longer find your song.”

Freedom

April 8, 2015

This beautiful teaching on one of my favorite subjects, freedom, speaks as if it is from that universal Oneness (which we varyingly call God, Self, Buddha nature, the Universe) itself.

“What I give to thee is not pleasure or pain but the possibility of a lifetime of freedom. The pleasure is an illusion and the pain just as much so, but the freedom is real and it is not measured and small but vast and unencumbered. What I give thee is not knowledge or even, rightly understood, wisdom; it is not something considered nor something contemplated; and it is not something foreign, something discovered like exotic treasure. It is not made of gold but it is not without substance. Freedom, the promise of this lifetime, is what has been handed down to every living being. It is what has been given out through the very act of breathing. It is what you already have, even though you almost never know it. And when I say, I give to thee, I am saying, Look at what is offered here; it is as if you have a present like no other and you have not even unwrapped it. And when I say, I give to thee, I hope that you will say, ‘Who?’, because in that question your face turns towards the source and, just out of curiosity and wonder, you might glimpse the bestower itself. I give to thee all that is possible in a human lifetime. Not the achievements, none of the goals, not even the emotions, the states, the revelations—my gift is that none of these, ultimately, inhibit you in any way, that you are whole and perfect because you are already free, that you are loved and loving because you are already love, and that you are the dearest of life’s creatures, each and every one of you. You breathe, and so you are free. You are, and so you are holy. And I give this to you so that you will look back towards my face and see only your own. I give this to thee so that in your freedom you will love as deeply as you can, and in trying to love me find that everything you touch is love. I give this to thee so that you will be happy. May you be happy. May you be free.”