Contemplation

October 6, 2017

“The quiet that you keep in your heart takes its form in your breath, in your words, in the way you are kind and, sometimes, in the way you seem unkind. The space, silent and still in the core of your being, is what gives life to your actions, substance to your utterances, meaning to your world. There is nothing empty about that space except for its lack of structure or limit, nothing hollow in its vastness except that it is unoccupied and cannot be reached by thought. It can be reached, however, by prayer, it can be reached by meditation, it can be reached, even, in that instant of thoughtlessness which allows you to enter even though you did not know the door was there. It is the space of contemplation and there is no entrance for it in thought. You access that core through your sensitivity, through your receptivity—these things which are the heart and soul of contemplation. You reach it through being, and through being yourself. And when you have come there, when you have settled there, if it is only for a moment or an hour or a very holy week, you will be tempted to stray. You will not know you are being tempted, you will not be conscious of anything that could be more blessed or more desirable than occupying that vastness, but there will be a subtle, insidious pull from the mind, from the manifest personality, urging you to return to all things solid, all things known, all things thought. And so, you will return, you will return to your busyness and your restlessness, you will return to your smallness from your greatness; each and every time you will be pulled back eventually. But I say to you, that does not matter. Though you know you cannot remain, though you know you will leave it, there is still no less pleasure or significance, no less importance to seeking that vast place of contemplation, because you can always return. And you always will. You will, over and over again; you will by accident and you will on purpose; and every time, each fresh encounter with that holiness will be equally lovely, if not more so. And so it is a general rule that, though you know you will fail, though you know you will stray, the turning inward, the prayer, the meditation is essential anyway, and is no less blessed because it will end. Reach inside that place within you in which that vast holiness resides. Reach by receiving it; it already fills your center. And then rest there as long as you can, however short or long that period is. Because when you are pulled back, when you return to your world of worry and upset, of busyness and thinking, some sliver of that wisdom which lives inside silence will accompany you back to your world of chaos and clutter. And that wisdom will live and grow in you even if you do nothing else to feed it, and it will open the door for you, again and again, to that cavern of eternity, that limitlessness, that space in your core. And so, every time, a little more wisdom comes back with you, and so, almost imperceptibly, your days are brightened, your worries lessened, your trials more bearable. This I wish for you. Tap the wellspring of your own unlimited holiness. Breathe that air sometimes; it is sustenance for the soul, comfort for the grieving, and clarity in confusion. And you all, already, have it. Just visit there. Make it a prayer or a meditation; make it your contemplation, your science, your art. But reach that holiness because it is waiting for you—and it always has been.”

Brightness

September 19, 2017

“The brightness that lives inside you knows no season. It has no boundary in time, it needs no special occasion, it knows no weather, no fluctuation, it knows no difference from one moment to the next. The brightness that lives inside you is not technically yours since everything that is yours will one day pass, but it is also not outside of you since it is so integral a part of you that you cannot ever lose it. That brightness is a shining that knows no day, no month, no year. It is not bounded by moments and cannot be counted or measured. It is full of itself, a light that has no color but also is not transparent since it is your substance, like it is the substance of all things, and that cannot be seen through. The brightness, that shining, not only illuminates all form but is that form in its essence. It does not create the things that are but, rather, it is their being. The brightness within you shows itself in the most subtle and rarified of your experiences but also in those which are most overt, most crushing, passionate or exuberant. That brightness is like a fire within you, but it is not hot and it destroys nothing. And when you look into it, as into the burning bush, you hear the voice of God, as if God had a voice, and you know the shape of things, as if things had a shape. The fire of that brightness, the shining of that brightness, is all you really have. And while that does not mean you should not seek every pleasure and every treasure there is to find here, it does mean that all of those, too, are just this brightness, this fire, this shining, and so all of those, too, if you look at them intently enough, if you feel them intimately enough, speak back to you the voice of God, the only voice there ever really was. And these things, too, when they are truly known to you, reveal all else in their essence, reveal that that brightness was the one light, your one true possession, your only real hope, the sum of all things.”

Body

June 26, 2017

Here is a simple meditation for settling into physical form.

“Soften into the sound of your own breathing. Surrender into the gentleness of your heartbeat. Fall back into your own form, letting it hold and nourish you, letting it feed you and replenish you from all its deep, abundant reserves. Settle into this body, the skin that holds and buffers you, the flesh that moves and stretches you, the bone that holds you up so that you may be perfectly still, perfectly at ease while the body supports you and takes care of you. Be at home right here, in this form, in this body, in this time and place. Settle into this fleeting and temporary thing and trust it completely. It doesn’t need your instructions; the heart will beat with or without your permission, the lungs will fill and empty no matter your agenda. So you can stop now, telling it what to do, bossing it about, punishing and tensing, using thought to make it do something it does not need to do. You can settle here and be completely, perfectly still, without any expenditure of effort whatsoever. This stillness is the only time you let the body just be as it is, just exist as the magnificently constructed dwelling it should be. In this stillness you can finally remove all your objectives, every goal and task you have ordered your form to achieve. You can silence all those agendas and be only as you are, letting the form be only as it is. Our bodies are not tense, not inherently, they are simply bossed around by thinking until they become knotted and frayed, prevented from functioning with the lovely seamless fluidity that is their nature. And our bodies are not sick, not inherently, but they are judged by and subjugated to the thinking mind that deems them so. Don’t hold your body; let it go so that it can hold you. Let it be the container for your stories and your experiences, the gentle well of vitality that gives you the whole world by giving you the senses by which to perceive that. Let it be the spark, the flame of physical aliveness that gives you so many opportunities while it burns. And let it be in charge of itself, beholden to no mind, no judgment, no condemnation, no agenda. Let it heal itself as it already knows how to do. Let it move and be still, both, without your continual interference. And right now, while you are still and silent, just let it rest so that you may rest too. Let it be free of all that thinking so that you may be free of that as well. We are very lucky to have these bodies, these personal little homes to shelter and support us for the time that we need them. Rest here, in this form, without struggle, without need, without expectation. Rest and be nourished by the heartbeat, by the breath, by the blood coursing in the veins, the energy radiating through the whole form. Trust it completely, even though it will change, even though it will die. Trust it completely in every moment you have it, in every precious, life-affirming moment.”

Solitary

June 5, 2017

“Time keeps each of us in the confines of our own solitude, and that is its purest benefit. Time teaches us that we are alone; it bathes us in the illusion of separateness so that, no matter how we try to connect, to merge with the formed material world, we find ourselves always, entirely alone. Time teaches us that that connection is not real, no matter how alluring it may seem, and that the formed things we seem so desperately to need are, themselves, always lost to us, always without us. And so we find ourselves always in solitude where, sometimes out of pure frustration, we look, instead, within for connection, for merging, for the satisfaction of all those persistent needs. It doesn’t seem that solitude can be remedied by turning within; it seems, in fact, to enhance the very aloneness we each seem to need to escape. But it does turn out that there is a unifying, a connecting experience within ourselves that somehow is both completely solitary and encompassing of all those forms and faces we once tried to merge with. By leaving all of that behind and succumbing to the depth of your own aloneness, all of it is yours. You are no longer choosing the special, the particular, the singular thing you wished to connect with; instead you are just choosing connection. And you are no longer pushing into the form of things to try to find the essence; instead, by abandoning that form, the essence is suddenly abundant. And so, to be solitary, to be alone, is to have the heart and soul of everything ever created, the spark of life itself that gave animation to all those things you thought you needed. We are blessed to be so deceived and so dissatisfied, for how else would we give up at long last and come only here to this core of solitude, this ground of aloneness? How else would we find the truth of all that is and all that we are? Stop pushing into form, stop ravaging the world with your mind and your body, trying to find its deep and satisfying essence. You already are its deep and satisfying essence. You’re already there, and your aloneness will show you, and it will make you happy once more.”

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.”

Breath

October 13, 2016

“Every breath is a moment of pure possibility, every inhale a taking-in of what might be and every exhale a breathing-out into potential newness, possibility. The breath belongs to this realm of opportunity and growth; it is the movement of life, and life is an unfolding into something never before known, something wholly different from what has come before, something so fresh, so potent, so unexpected that there is no way to anticipate it, to know it in advance before it is met in reality. The fact that you breathe tells you that you are this well of possibility, this ocean of potential newness, this ‘might be’ that is always exponentially more vast than the whole of your ‘have been’. You are constantly at one with and embedded within this vastness of possibility; hence you breathe. You may forget everything you have ever learned and yet at the moment you notice your own breath you are reminded of your own endlessness, re-educated right then in the knowledge of your limitlessness. You remember what is true when you notice your breathing, and you find the current of its aliveness and the potential that fuels and imbues that breath with its very rhythm, its very dance. We are able, at any moment we choose, to remember our own transformative potential; the fact of that is never far from our experience because our own breathing keeps it close. We are loved by this, this reminder of life that life itself imbues us with. We are loved by it without condition, without cause, without ceasing. The constant potential of this human experience rises and falls, cresting continuously in the wave that is breath. It is because we breathe that we live, and in our awareness of it, in our allowing ourselves to enter into that breathing and, so, into the vastness of possibility that awaits us in each inhale and each exhale, we live truly, deeply, actually. It is already here, your breath, your possibility, your endlessness, your transformation. Breathe that. Be as that.”

Emptiness

September 6, 2016

This is from a very early talk of mine, but it rings so true for me today.

“Let the vacancy have you. Let it love you. You have been headed steadfastly in this direction, and yet somehow the emptiness surprises you. You have been reaching for it all along, so why not take it now? You designed your life, plotted your course, all with this very vacancy as your aim, and now you are at its threshold, you look frantically about you for something to fill that space. Space is what you need. The chaos and disorder of the world has hurt you. You have tried to put it behind you, so why are you now looking back? Take the emptiness when you find it. It’s what you came here for; it’s all there is. You have no other purpose to your days but to lessen your activity, and slow your constant spinning, and beckon to your stillness from the world of noise. You have put things behind you that were killing you, and now you beg to have them back. You have rid yourself of pain long a burden to you, and now you wonder where it’s gone. It is not time to start again what you have tried so hard to quit, it is time to let yourself be consumed by the consequences of your best actions, the blessed result of your most honest and most courageous steps forward. Please don’t turn back. You know what you have to do. There is nothing here for you right now but that vacancy. If you cannot head toward it then you are headed nowhere; if you cannot love it, then there is nothing here to love. Find your companionship there, find your heart and your spark in that emptiness, find yourself and your home. Find the end of all your trouble, the beginning of redemption, a life, finally, of ease and light and promise. Find what you’ve been hoping for. It is long past time.”

Forgiveness

August 20, 2016

“It is a long, patient process, the way you wait for understanding, the way understanding becomes forgiveness. It is a slow process, the light shed on what is true, the light revealing what was hidden. And then, like a dawn, there is forgiveness. There is the clear seeing that can bring only patience; there is the perception of things as they are and the perception that they are right as they are. There is the patience to continue each day in forgiveness, to walk still, past punishment and past despair, towards what is slowly revealed, towards what the open eyes show you. There is deliverance into patience and into forgiveness, a deliverance that your rage could never bring you and your protest will never allow. It is right, finally, just to see things clearly; no other transformation is ever needed. It is right, finally, to know things for what they are, beyond all preferences, beyond all judgments, beyond any concept or design you may have invented. What you see in forgiveness is things simple, things known, things reduced to their realness, their uncomplicated essence. You see that a thing is only itself and not something you’ve added to it, that an event or a behavior, or even what you have called “tragedy”—that these are only themselves, and they are nothing more. They do not deserve their dramatic titles. They do not deserve their storylines. The clear seeing that comes when you swallow your bitterness and stop your complaints is the clear seeing of forgiveness. And it is a gift bestowed to the seer, a blessing for you and no one else. Try to put away your objections. Stop feeding yourself on your bitterness. Clear seeing comes from such humility. It comes in the brokenness of that defeat, and in the willingness to accept all that is and all that was as a simple part of things as they are. If you want forgiveness you will need humility, and you will have to be willing to be done with your rage, to put aside your anger as something you don’t need anymore, and to swallow the bitterness that is of your own making for the sake of the possibility that you will see things correctly for the first time.”

Completion

August 8, 2016

You can also watch the video of this talk. Keep in mind that it’s a meditation, not a lecture, so it’s very slow, meant to give you time to relax into yourself while you listen.

“The prize for the fortunate is the sense that time is gone, life has vanished, and space is not—and yet what remains leaves nothing whatsoever lacking. This gift that comes like a spontaneous blessing out of nothing at all eliminates everything known and, indeed, the structure of knowledge itself, but leaves behind only that which makes all of this real, that which makes the truth true, that which makes life alive, that which sparked every idea simultaneously so that all of this unfolding might be possible. To the very fortunate, that moment of grace, that penetration into not the form of reality but its is-ness, comes completely unbidden, spontaneously arising in spite of every seeming obstacle and contradiction. And what is it, then, to be fortunate? What does it take to become so lucky? It is not a matter of virtue; it is not a function of purity; it is not a reward for accomplishments; it is not a consolation in defeat. This moment is not reached by the body perfecting itself, is not granted out of any sense that some are good while others are not yet good enough. This holy moment is given to the fortunate, and by that I mean only one thing: I mean those who are finished. It is the instant arising out of completion, the knowing that has no mind left to know, the deep experience of reality in which there is no one there to experience it. It happens because you allow things to come to a close. If you have been reaching, if you have been consuming, you let yourself feed all you can and then you let it be over. And if you have been terrified, you cross that threshold and walk, at last, right into the arms of whatever would destroy you. You lay down your pride for that, you stop fighting and you let yourself be consumed so that that cycle can finally be complete. At the end of things there is always an open door into what is real. Ultimately, you will give up the very person who seems to have been doing all this reaching, all this fighting, all this living and all this dying, so that, at last, even that grand notion that ‘I am’ is allowed to end. And without that ‘I’, time departs, space is meaningless, life is no longer an interplay of forms, and instead, there is reality only, there is essence only. And so the fortunate are really just those that let things end. There are so few, but there will be more because each and every day, if you pay attention to your own life, you will see that things are trying to come full circle, everything is trying to end: your illusions, so unstable to begin with, are trying to crumble, your hauntings are trying to overtake you so that they may pass through you and finally rest. Your joy can’t stay at that perfect pitch you so prefer; it leads always into its own closure. And the pain you have hurts only in its trying to be free; it wants to hurt only long enough to fulfill itself, so it, too, can move, and dissipate, and end. And so, every day, everything within and without you is trying to make its beautiful way toward that moment when reality can be seen, at last, for itself and not in any of its disguises. And that blessed moment is always waiting, always just on the other side of your insistence that things remain. Allow it all to come full circle. Allow the story you began to complete itself, the experience you avoid to run through you, and the illusions you think you need to be shattered. We are so lucky that none of it lasts. We are all, truly, the fortunate ones.”

Now

July 29, 2016

“Live in the absolute and perfect present tense. Live in the absolute meaning of “now”, in the way that it is here already and you needn’t wait for it, in the way that it is known and palpable and belongs entirely to you. Be in that tense which is not active, does not seek or journey, does not become or travel; be in that tense which has no future and in which the past has already resolved itself, the absolute and perfect present tense. ‘Be here now’ is your single objective, the only guidance you ever really need, the instruction that cannot, no matter the circumstances, ever be wrong. Your experience in this perfect and absolute present tense is always, itself, perfect, always the only relevant experience there is. But what is “now”? What is that target, that reference point, itself so often pointed towards? What is now? And why is now so rich and full and meaning-laden when all else is so dim, so superficial, without nourishment and without purpose? It is because everything that is real lives in that moment we call “now”, and it does not reside anywhere else. Everything about the past that is rich and true and promising, every experience we have had, every lesson we have learned, every revelation, everything we have loved and lost—all of it resides, still, completely, in this present moment. And whatever of the past does not live in you right now is not real; if it cannot be felt and touched and known palpably in this very present now then it is not real at all. And the future too, although almost entirely obscure, sometimes offers fragments into the known and present now, and in that moment—that moment which is this moment—they are real and they can be known to be real because they are, like you and like all of us, here now. We are burdened so heavily by our planning for a future which simply does not exist and our recollections of a past which has no meaning, and while we are thus absorbed, while we allow our minds to be distracted and led astray in these two meaningless directions, we miss literally everything that is real, everything that experience holds in store for us, everything that can be known and felt, everything we can purposefully be absorbed into. It is all right here. It is all right now. The depth and breadth of this moment and even its almost-endless complexity escapes you almost constantly. But it needn’t. It is here. It is now. It is yours. It is waiting for you, and it always will be.”