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.”

Simple

March 8, 2016

“Keep in touch with simple things. The complexities you give so much of your life to are more draining than they are feeding. The many pursuits, though shimmering with potential and declaring themselves radiant, are in fact the mirages that keep you from what is truly beautiful. Almost invariably, what is beautiful is also simple. The caress of the wind is irreplaceable; there is no substitute for it, not in your thousand dreams, not in all of your plans. The way you feel this very moment is the simplest thing there is, and the grids and calculations that fill your rational mind cannot touch this one simple, beautiful thing. Complexity is almost always disconnected from reality, and that is what makes it ugly, that is why it must pretend to be beautiful, why it must promise you the moon and the stars to lure you to itself. Reality, being already beautiful, needs no bait. If you will just look at it as it is, you will find only beauty, only simplicity. You have dreamed yourself a thousand ways to be anywhere but right here, and these are all complicated, they are all exhausting, and they are all untenable. The most beautiful fact in the universe is that you can be nowhere but right here. The reason your dreams fail you is because you cannot move from where you are, and so when you believe that you have chosen your complex imaginings over the simple experience of this very moment, you tell yourself a lie. There is nowhere to be but right here, and that will feel, above all else, exceedingly simple. Love the spirit inside you which already knows simple things to be home. Keep close to you the knowledge of this fact, that there is no place for you except right here, and no time which is real except right now. And discard as much as you can the promises of a mind which would tell you that there are any alternatives to the experience you are having right now. Do not allow yourself to retreat into complexity; it is almost always only imagined. Allow yourself the refuge of your own simple being, whatever that feels like right now, and you will find that this is beauty, whatever is right here and right now, that this is home, this place inside yourself of retreat from complication, this center of emptiness. Let it be that reality is very, very simple, and that only the mind thinks otherwise. Come home to what is real. Touch its simpleness. Rest there, and be as that.”

Emptiness

February 2, 2016

“Being related to emptiness yourself, you cannot ever be a stranger to it. Emptiness is part of what you are. It is the space inside all your spaces. It is known to you intimately, too closely for consciousness, but there, known, all the same. Emptiness is friend to you, but more than that it is your home. It is the beingness that pervades your coming and going, that stays in you, making you real, making you permanent. Emptiness fixes you to itself, not as an adjunct but as that which is incorporated into wholeness, that which is one and never many, that which is real and never lost. Emptiness makes a husband of you, or a wife, joining into singularity where there used to be duality. Emptiness proves to you that you are a single thing, and that you are single with all other creation. Emptiness is manifest in manifestation—all aspects, all parts. Emptiness is real throughout reality, found equally in all places and in all times, without any sense of difference or quality or division. Emptiness gives being its beingness, makes reality real, creates nothing but includes all. Emptiness needs nothing, and so you, as part of that, living within it and it living within you, also need nothing. Emptiness makes you safe. It forgives all circumstance because it was never affected by any. It relieves all suffering because suffering never reached it. Emptiness is alive. It is not simply lack, though it gains nothing, not merely absence, though it claims nothing as its own. Emptiness is full, but of emptiness. It can be recognized, it can be felt, it can be known, if only subtly, because it is part of you, one with you, and inevitable. Emptiness cherishes you with no attachment, and loves blindly with no sense of division. And it’s already yours, already here, already now. Emptiness forgives everything because nothing was ever done to it, and celebrates endlessly because there is nothing to stymie its bliss. Have you lived there in any single moment, this day? Try to. Emptiness is there.”

Freedom

January 21, 2016

This talk unfolds as if spoken directly by that undifferentiated oneness that goes by so many names—God, the Universe, the Self, the Lovely (as I recently saw it referred to in a Buddhist sutra).

“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.”

Contemplation

January 4, 2016

I’m dedicating my new year to this practice:

“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 come back to all things solid, all things known, all things thought. And so, you will come back, you will come back to your busyness and your restlessness, you will come back to your smallness from your greatness. But that does not matter. 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 the turning inward, the prayer, the meditation is no less blessed because it will end. Reach inside that place within you in which that vast holiness resides. 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 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. Tap the wellspring of your own unlimited holiness; breathe that air sometimes. 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.”

Light

December 28, 2015

“The light that shines in your mind takes its luminescence from the same source that makes all this shine. It is one light, really, one light underneath the mountain, underneath the leaf, shining as the sun, born inside your mind. There is only one light, and though luminosity itself may vary, that singular shining does not. There is one ray that divides itself so that all the people, every stone, every thought—they can all shine just as brilliantly as every other person, every stone, every thought. One ray is all that we are, one light seemingly encased in so many different things but really not bound at all by anything real, anything material, anything essential. The one shining gives this place its form. It gives you your body—light become matter. It gives essence to your words—light become expression. It gives meaning in the sense that because it is all the same light it is all holy. There is one real thing, we are just emitting that; every action, every thought, every movement, every practice just a ray of that ray, a defraction in time and space of that one light. We are the children of this in the sense that it literally bore us, and we are the source of this in the sense that it begins again inside us, every single moment. We are light, not in the sense that darkness cannot be or is somehow wrong or forbidden, but in the sense that even the darkness is part of this same shining. And whatever we think is unholy and ‘other’, whatever we believe too black, too obscure, these are all just another way the light bends and shines and is. You cannot be anything else. You cannot not shine. The love that brought you here, that love that light has for its own shining, is your very essence, your very being, and all other expressions of that, all hatred, all anger, all violence, all mistrust and disdain and despair, all are subsumed into that one love, that one light, all pieces of that, shining as surely and as brightly as all the rest of creation. We are not just made for this shining, we are made of it. We are complete, we are whole, we are harmless, and we are already home because of this shining. We are one as this and we are one with it, and it is the same in each thing, in each body, in each mind, in every action, every choice, every manifestation of will. We are shining, and that is endless, that is perfect, that is being. Begin this new year knowing your place in all things, knowing your belonging and your wholeness, knowing that despair is a ray of light too, that hatred sings the same way all form does. Know that your shining is perfect and that it is yours, and that in it and because of it, you are already whole, already healed, already home.”

Perception

December 16, 2015

“Your mind notices everything, but in the noticing there is, almost instantaneously, a judgment, some kind of interpretation, a spin or a color, some kind of taint added to the thing itself. The mind does not present to you simply what is observed; it presents to you instead that which is decided, the verdict it has passed on that object, that sound, that person, or that experience. It offers you its understanding of the thing perceived, it offers you its judgment. And herein lies all your hope, because the moment that observation, that clean and clear perception, is turned into interpretation is the moment in which you will be free or not depending on how you attend to that. The space in between perceiving something and understanding it is the space in which freedom flourishes. Until the point at which judgment is passed, there is nothing but the fresh ease of simple perception, the input that has no name, the experience that has no consequence, the person encountered who simply is, without that meaning anything to us at all. That is the moment of your total liberation, and the key to being present to that split second between perception and interpretation is vigilance. But vigilance must be coupled with a certain relinquishment on your part, a relinquishment of the need for the thing perceived to satisfy you or mend you or feed you or fix you in any way at all. When we believe that we must have this input, these objects, whether it is love from outside, food from above, or riches of this earth, we condemn ourselves to interpret, to judge, and so, in every single instance, to misunderstand.  You cannot know something through the mind’s lens and expect to know it truly at all. You cannot see something through the verdict you have passed on it and expect that you have seen truly at all. The mind is capable of pure receptivity, a kind of knowing that needs no cognition in order to be complete, and it is that knowing, that pure and absolute receptivity to what is, and only to that, which becomes, in the mind, wisdom. All perception is wisdom if the mind is not allowed to interfere. All seeing is true knowing if there is no lens through which the mind passes judgment. And all understanding is unadulterated if allowed to emerge from that clear and perfect moment between perception and interpretation. The mind as judge and jury, as philosopher, as thinker, as knower, can actually know nothing at all. Wisdom appears in empty, untainted space, the space in which that which is is allowed to be only itself.”

Port

December 7, 2015

“The mind is like a storm in your port. You are already home, already safe, already free, and your mind brings into this safe harbor, into this ground of calm, the spinnings and weavings, the chaos of noise and complication, the very upset that seems to rain down upon and threaten to destroy your safety, your groundedness. Mental formations are all like this; no matter how different they may seem from one another, worry, rumination, future planning, fantasizing, all of these activities, being all functions of the mind, are by their nature essentially the same. They are all that storm. But what you must remember, first and foremost, is that though there is a storm, you are not a ship at sea, you are already safe on dry land, and the storm, no matter how fierce, cannot ever dislodge that ground. To remember that you are anchored in this way is the first step in dealing with the mind. It can be very intense, very distracting, very disturbing at times, but it cannot actually topple you, it cannot sink you. You are already in a place of total safety, and there is no ground more stable than that which is your own being. I am simply saying: you are already here, you already are, and there is nothing your mind can ever do to undermine or upset or change that in any way. There are so many reasons for our thinking, so many objectives we attempt to carry out through constant mental formations, but no matter the goal of each of these formations, the key to unlocking the mind’s secrets and dissolving its chaos lies in the ability to be conscious of it, witnessing of it, attentive to it, so completely and open-heartedly that whatever pain, whatever strategy, whatever misgiving it hides, that is revealed and becomes clear to the person willing to notice and willing to know. But that kind of clarity requires that you remember that nothing in your mind can ever really defeat you, it cannot damage you, it cannot destroy you, because you are already anchored in something so fundamentally and deeply real that the mind cannot reach that. And a good part of its storm, its intensity, is all the smoke and mirrors created by its own helplessness, by the fact that it, when all is said and done, will never be more than thought, never more than reflection and mirage, while you have always been, and will always be, perfectly real, containing substance and essence that thought will never have. And so I urge you, don’t ignore your mind, it takes attentiveness to demystify that storm. But remember that you are not there, you are not in the storm yourself, subject to its whims, its gnashing, its chaos; you are in the port of your own absolute substance, the port of your own is-ness, your own being. And so, watch that storm from your safe harbor, watch it closely and learn everything it’s trying to keep you from. Learn what is underneath all of those strategies of mind. Watch, but do not obey; listen, but do not believe.”

Creation

November 2, 2015

This meditation on that original power that gave rise to everything in form, that power which is in fact our very being, helps me when I need an antidote to my own sense of helplessness.

“Listen to the birdsong.  You made that.  Listen to the wind, and feel it on your skin, feel it in your own breath, feel it until you know it like you know your own person.  You made that.  The earth itself throbs underneath you with the life it gives all things, but you gave it that life in the first place, and though it seems to feed you, and you seem to need it, really you made that too.  You bore it, you named it, you hold onto it, and you can at any point let it go.  You aren’t visiting this world, this world is visiting you; it is one of an almost endless stream of things you are capable of creating, things that must dissolve while you, the bearer of them all, remain.  You are the only thing that stays, and anything you glimpse you must have created, anything you feel you must have conjured, and anything you know is nothing more than a tiny fraction of your own infinite knowledge appearing before you because you summoned it.  And any moment that we do not know this absolute truth is a moment in which we must also have conjured the veil that hides it from us.  We are the bearer of all things, even of obfuscation itself.  You made all of this, and you have done a brilliant and glorious job of it, but do not hold onto any part of it for one second longer than it delights you, for there truly is no other reason to have conjured it in the first place.  If you are enjoying this, your own creation, then let it make you smile, but when you are not, release your own grasp on it; it is that grasp that makes anything live.  I congratulate you on your world; it is a lovely invention.  And I congratulate you just as much on its dissolution.  We are not captive here.  In fact, this is all our prisoner.  Love it sometimes, enough to let it go.  Enjoy it until it is over and know that the end point of all things is entirely within your choice.  The love that you have for all this will never, itself, expire, even though everything that is here, as you clear your vision and empty your mind, eventually succumbs to the ground from which it arose.  And that ground is love; your love and you as love.  Go softly into your own creation.  Treat with gentleness everything you have conjured, most especially your own precious form.  Treat with kindness what you only invented in order to love it, and love, I assure you, is all you will see in return.”

Future

October 21, 2015

“There is no hint of tomorrow in today.  Everything you see, all you touch, and whatever befalls you in this present, in the time that is now, bears within it no impression, no spark, no omen or foretelling of what will be in the future.  This moment is always the settling of old consequences, and what you see in it is always only the vision you have out of your own past.  You do not see the future, and if you have predicted it, you have predicted nothing more than a recurrence of the past.  But the future is fundamentally different in nature from either the present or the past.  It is, in a very real sense, the only unknowable of the three, and, in being unknowable, it differs not by degree but wholly, in its very defining characteristic, from anything we might perceive as either present or past.  You never actually see the future, and though a good deal of mental activity is dedicated to the intent to do just that, and predicated on the notion that just that is actually possible, in fact, all of that mental activity is a restaging of the past.  And so, you have never looked forward at all, you have never turned, not once, to truly face that direction.  You have loved what you have found here and you have hated it, both, but through it all you have always assumed that what will come is almost identical to what has.  You may have entertained fantasies that seemed brighter and more joyful than anything you have experienced in the past, but in fact, even these are just modified, resurrected, healed versions of all those past stories.  They are not new, not really, and they are never in contact with the actual future.  Look at time through the porthole of the future and it is a blank void; it is nothing but unknown-ness, and the rest and relief of putting your vision there is the rest and relief of this absence, this lack, this void.  Look at the future and there is nothing there.  Don’t let the lens of the past play its best optical trick on you: Don’t let it convince you that it is the only lens, that everywhere you look time is only this—these characters, these stories, these discreet but interwoven elements.  Try to remember, as you face the future, that if you see anything other than the vast, unanswerable darkness of unknowing, then the future is not what you have seen at all.”