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.”

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.”

Time

May 19, 2015

To me, this teaching is such an antidote to the hurry, busyness and internal pressure I so often feel in relation to the clock.

“The mistake that people most often cling to is the mistake they make about time. Identities may seem fluid, and most people will glimpse, at some point or other, alternatives to even their most sacred beliefs, but through it all they will insist that time is truly real, truly the constraint that it appears to be, and they will suffer in that misunderstanding. It seems like one of the more trivial things that we get wrong; it seems that so many other of our holy ideas are more important, more inspired, closer to God, than any understanding that we may have or not have about time, and so even our mistake is trivialized and the relevance of that misunderstanding about time denied in pursuit of greater truths. But think how much of your suffering, day in and day out, revolves around the way you view time, the way you feel that everything must fit into this container somehow, that everything—all your potential, every possibility, your very joy—is limited and constrained by the boundaries set in time. ‘I have an hour to meditate’, you tell yourself, and suddenly the whole meditation is defined by its time component, when in fact nothing about the quality or experience of that meditation is in any way a reflection of the number of minutes that you choose to sit. You think of yourself as having a certain life span and that becomes time to which you feel entitled, as if you have been allocated this paltry ration of life, and that is all you are allowed. When looked at through the lens of time, almost everything seems lacking, too spare, not enough, and because our working and even our leisure—in fact, even sleep and food and other fundamentals of our lives—follow strict prescriptions of time, we become accustomed to this tyranny, we acquiesce to the whole illusion of it, and so allow ourselves to feel that we are servants somehow of this relentless, measured march.  But, in truth, we invented everything about time. We invented its surface structure; we decided we would call a certain unit of time one ‘second’, and thereby unfolded all our other invented units. And we decided that our whole vision of life would be organized around this structure. Socially, we did this for very good reasons—it is a convenience, it is a tool, it is an organizational system that helps our communities run smoothly. But that does not make it real. And, on a much deeper level, time was actually invented by the same mind that fears and suffers and misunderstands everything about this world and everything about itself. That thinking mind which is the fount of all things misunderstood decided on time, decided that time was real just like it decided that you, in your essence, are fragile, that life is dangerous, that we are the victims of our circumstances and not their creators.   That fear-based mind seizes on the limitations and constraints of time the same way it seizes on all of its other mistakes. That thinking mind, that ego, that most basic of all mistakes itself, can do nothing but misperceive, and so it misperceives this. And so, just as it invents danger and decides that that is real, just as it invents all of its illusions, it invents time, and you suffer in your allegiance to that belief. In fact, nothing exists except now; this is often said, and it is taken to be a lofty, esoteric concept, but truly I mean it in the simplest sense. There is literally nothing at all that you can feel or discover or experience, there is no reality with which you can make any meaningful contact at all, except that which is right now. And right now is always here. Right now will never end, and because you are not that thing constrained by seconds and years and lifetimes, right now will never end for you. There will always be a now, and it will always be yours. And so while it is technically true that you can be late for work, you cannot actually ever miss anything. You cannot be at the wrong place in any moment because there is only one place, only one time: here and now. We have let our colloquial use of the constraints of time mushroom out of our control. There is no reality in lateness; equally, there is no reality in the sense that time is too short, or that something has been going on for too long. There is no reality in the belief that ‘I am running out of time’ or that ‘I am wasting it’. You have right now, absolutely and completely, and you don’t have anything else. And so what you really have, what you can always count on, is not numbered in any way, cannot be measured with any tool, and will never be anything else but fully and completely available to you. In this very precise way, you literally have infinity. Right now is literally eternal, and you always have it. Wrench yourselves back into a position of presence. This, right here, right now, is all there is. Be here right now and you have everything.”

Stopping

January 26, 2015

This talk concluded a day of silent meditation, a practice that is, at heart, just “stopping”.

“Our days are not living, breathing time unless they have pauses.  It is as if time is only alive because sometimes it stops and there is nothing in that gap at all, nothing to identify it, nothing to fill it, nothing to decorate or embellish it, just the emptiness and absence of no sound, no activity, no speech, no accomplishment and no mind.  Silence is the deep taproot of our lives.  It is the thing that makes us grow.  And all the accomplishments that will come, as well as all the activity, all the speaking, all the filled time, is rich and nourishing because it is fed by the silence.  It is not nothingness itself which is so important, it is just that we opened ourselves to it, we let it through and into us, we let it permeate us, and, so, infuse all the rest of our days.  We meditate so that when we speak it is made right; and we close our eyes to sit so that when we open them we might see things properly again; and we stop doing everything we do so that when we resume our doing it has a rightness to it, it is clear and it is meaningful in a way that the silence has made so.

I hope the stopping itself will start to penetrate your life so that in the doing you can feel the silence, in the speaking you can feel the silence, in whatever tragedies and joys befall you, you perceive the same silence.  We are lucky to be allowed to be so still.  We are blessed by this, blessed by what is not here and by what is made possible.  Please stop sometimes and feel the root of that nothingness, the source of that silence, as the source of all that is bright and purposeful in your own life.”