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.”

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.”

Love

May 20, 2016

“Love blinds the surest among us to all our certainties.  Love blurs the edges and distorts the image of what you thought to be real, recreating it in the image of the very thing’s essence.  Love changes how you see things and makes that clearer.  It can’t transform you, but it can transform how you know, and so, what you know.  Love defines things out of thin air, but erases all the definitions you thought you could rely on; it puts things in perspective so they inevitably look distorted to you.  Love makes what is real appear as it is, indescribable, without the hard edges you put there, and in its core, benign and painless.  Love can’t lead you to itself; it calls your name but you have to look for it.  It needs you but not as a thing it craves, only as a part of its very definition, an essence the same as its essence.  Love can have no urgency, it can have no spiked words, it cannot be unkind; but you will have to learn something new about kindness to understand this.  You will have to know what is really meant by hardness and why it is merciful sometimes to be penetrated.  Love will get inside you because you have no solid boundary, you are porous in every way and love seeps in, filling you up from the inside as much as from the outside.  Love lies in wait for you and will consume you with certainty as soon as you encounter it.  Your death is assured because love will slay you; you will give in eventually to that embrace.  Love hands you the keys to heaven, it wants you to have paradise, it even knows that you deserve it.  But love can’t make you enter that kingdom; you can stay in your illusions if you wish, though they rightly be called “hell.”  And love cannot damage you, but one day it will destroy you and leave no trace, no carnage.  Love kills like that, like a clean beheading, and all identity gone; and then, at that precious moment, all there is is love, there is no you and no story and nothing up ahead.  There is love backwards and forwards in space and time, in every direction, permeating every being, every thought, every bit of dust that you walk on and which you breathe.  Love is all there ever was.  To keep the truth as simple as possible, I can say just this one thing:  Love is all there ever was.”

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.”

Nature

July 3, 2015

At a recent sitting in San Francisco, I had this interesting back-and-forth with one of the participants. She brought up such good questions, ones I think many of us wonder about, that I wanted to share the conversation:

“If this place ‘within’, this place that sounds like some form of true nature, if that is actually our true nature, why is it so inherently hard and such a struggle, over lifetimes, to access the true nature of ourselves? Why wouldn’t it be the reverse?

If it is so simple and authentic and pure, why is it not the easiest thing to be in?

Yeah.

Saying that it is our true nature is a little bit of a misnomer in the sense that that phrase makes it sound as if there is something untrue about everything else, about bodies and form life, about movement, minds, thinking, about the whole world of diversity, activity, living , dying, living again. And so, if you accept a premise of “true nature” then you are somehow deciding that everything else is unnatural in a sense, right? But it doesn’t seem unnatural to you, does it?

What is ‘it’ in that sense?

I mean, you wake up every morning and you feel yourself to be naturally this female, naturally this person you are, automatically; the world is your habitat, movement is your state. I’m saying, does that not seem somewhat true for you?

Yes.

And is it also true that you have somewhere inside you this pull towards something still, peaceful, calm, something perfect perhaps that does not appear to be on offer in this world. Is that true?

Maybe not that it isn’t on offer, but that it is not easily attained…. I feel like often I even have an aversion to sitting down to meditate—my heart’s beating faster than it was, and I don’t feel like I can naturally breathe because I’m thinking on it.

So an aversion to meditation is actually “natural” as well. But some impulse made you sit down to meditate at all, so what impulse was that?

Wanting to find the stillness and peace and clarity around things.

And so, even in your own experience you find that it is natural to want that and natural not to. Do you see what I mean?

Yes.

I am saying it this way because as long as we believe that there is something really wrong with form life and that meditation offers some antidote to some ill that is manifest as normal, active existence in this modern, complicated world, then you will necessarily not believe things correctly.

But the larger answer to your question lies in a process that takes place over such an unbelievably long period of time that it’s almost impossible to put our minds in something that vast, something that long. And if we think that there is something really sick or wrong about manifesting in these individual bodies in this seemingly very distraught world then we will see that incredibly long time as an incredibly long series of mistakes, a sort of almost-endless thread of suffering. I cannot abide such a notion, and I do not believe that if there is anything that can be called God that that thing, made of love at its very core, truly and perfectly harmless, utterly benign by nature, would invent or even allow such a thing as a near-eternity of mistakes and suffering. Do you see what I mean?

Yes.

And so, instead, I would propose that it must be that all of this—the form, the bodies, the world, even the very thought itself which tells you not to meditate—is born of that same impulse to love and made of that same harmlessness, that same benign essence that all of such a God’s creation must be made of. And I am using ‘creation’ in very much the loosest sense, as a kind of constant unfolding of love as it creates itself in every conceivable form, in the form of a rose and in the form of a plague, in the form of a saint and in the form of a serial killer—and in the form of your longing to sit and be still as well as your resistance to it. And so, from this point of view, we are not wrong to be doing anything we are doing here, and the only point of this great experiment is to find love obscured in all these forms. And it is really only for that reason that I suggest you sit, because it is possible to find something in yourself which serves as a kind of compass, a kind of guide, so that wherever you are and whatever you are doing you have the chance to glimpse love’s face there, to see it all in its harmlessness and infinite variety. Does that feel like it answers your question at all?

Yes.”

Love

November 19, 2014

This teaching defines love simply:  “Love is a love of things as they are.”

“To be within that flow that is love, you must love not only the things you want but also the things you already are.  To be in that place, that current you so crave, your own love is needed—the love you must find within your own heart and mind for the things that define and describe you right now, as you are, in your faults and in your folly, those things that make you unique even if that uniqueness seems unbearably ugly to you.  Love is a love of things as they are.  Love loves that way, and if you do not, then you cannot find yourself there.  Love is as it was made, and so it requires that you be the same, and that you love as that, as the creature, the very animal that occupies and consumes you.  Love is this kind of surrender.  Love is made of this ‘yes’, this acquiescence, this immersion into the landscape and the fabric of things as they are.  That current holds everything exactly as it is, and when you refuse to throw yourself into the fire of your own shame or the nightmare of your own deep secrets, it is only love you have refused.  Whatever you have, whatever you are, whatever is true, that is love.  That is our contentment.

In all the history of humankind there has never been one thing people were more confused about than this single, simple idea about what love truly is, and there is not one thing that you see with less clarity or less understanding.  You look out through the lens of your clouded and ignorant mind and can’t find love anywhere.  But I am trying to tell you, the fact that you looked is love, the seeing and the not-seeing, they are both love, and the fact of love’s deep hold over you, the fact that it has already consumed you, is most evidenced by your own looking, by your own need, by the fact that of all the things in the world you might have, you seem to know that only love will really satisfy you.”