Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
All of reality, thought, and experience is already an interpretation (that was too, by the way).
My exegesical leanings did offer great service: the piercing through layers of experience for deeper meaning. This leaning is still present today, and I take great pleasure in the interpretative understanding of others. I recently came across a teacher and author named Jed McKenna that, in his second book, Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, offered a gorgeous interpretation of Moby Dick in relationship to the path of Spiritual Enlightenment or Abiding Non-Dual Awareness, as he terms it. This re-awoke in me the passionate enjoyment of using literary, historical, and religious works to explain and present greater experiences within existence.
After my first Saktipat, I reexamined the Book of Genesis and interpreted it from a Tantric perspective, retelling this story as the arising of awakened non-dual consciousness. This work will probably never see the light of day, but perhaps.
Since my own experience of awakening, I am, at least for now, doing my best to express the reality that this represents without relying on the content of my own experience. There are a lot of so-called awake teachers out there that try and express the truth and freedom of awakening through the content of their experience. I doubt that most of these teachers are awake, at least as far as I experience it. I would never assume that the content of my experience is what defines awaking. Content is produced by structures and structures are very subjective and personal. The content of my awakening may not be the content of your awakening. To define awakening based on content, is to remain in the delusion of the individual. It might be an updated, freer delusion, but it's still a delusion. Maya is a tricky bitch - be careful.
A huge mistake is made: students compare the content of their experience to the content of their teacher’s experience and then always fail to measure up or wonder why they’re not experiencing things the way their teacher does. The mind then, doing what the mind does, assumes this to be a problem and the student goes spiraling back down to illusion land. Awakening is not a content thing, it’s a context thing, and it’s the great context of everything. The content is just the details.
When myth and story is used to express the nature of awakening, we can point more directly towards reality as it’s devoid of personal content. This of course is still a pointing towards and not a telling of, as we could never tell of the fullness of reality with the limitations of language. Even if language could capture it, there is too much to capture, and writing it or speaking it would be impossible.
By the way, you’re in a state of interpretation right now, assuming you’re reading and understanding (sort of) these words. This brings us to an important preamble truth, truth has nothing to with what is spoken, but is limited to what is heard, and what is heard is already an interpretation. Know that there is no truth in these words, and that there is no truth in your understanding them, as Truth rests effortlessly as the very thing that perceives you perceiving these words. Truth is already in your experience, as your experience. Nothing more and nothing less. Stop looking for truth, and truth is already right there.
I became curious about Captain Nemo a couple of months ago when it occurred to me that Nemo meant “no one” or “nobody.” The awake state of liberation is sometimes termed as the state when self dissolves, or the recognition that there was never an individual self there. This is just one way of pointing towards it, of course, and is not entirely the nature of the experience.
To all of my so-called Tantric Saivite friends that oppose (which, by the way, is a great way to turn non-dual/oneness teaching into dualistic sectarian bullshit permeated by delusion) the so-called Buddhist idea of “no-self”, consider this: if all things are Shiva, then what is it you think your individuality is? Bingo: Shiva. If there is only Shiva, then show me were your so-called individuality ends and Shiva begins. I dare you.
Before I left for this trip, I picked up a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for a little reading and interpretative fun. Maybe something was there, and maybe there was nothing there. Though, I can say, before I interpret the hell out of it for the benefit of my own teaching, it was an enjoyable read.
In researching this project, I was interested to learn that 20,000 was novel for Verne in the sense that he had never created a character like Nemo. Most of his novels were formulaic, and follow very specific patterns of story and character. But 20,000 was different. Nemo was a character entirely unto himself. In certain terms, it seems that the “awakening” elements in 20,000 have more to do with Verne’s rebellion and distain towards his controlling publisher, and are symbols of him breaking free from this. However, there are certain unmistakable qualities in this work that point towards the state of awakening and the human relationship with it. I have over 100 pages of my copy of 20,000 ear marked and underlined. By way of symbolism, there’s a lot there.
I am not sure if Verne ever awakened, but in the least, it does seem that he went through a major transformation over the course of his life. Apparently, he became very depressed towards the end of his life, which may have actually been the stages of a bourgeoning awaking, or at least a huge shift and reordering of his ego structure. He willed a locked safe to his son. For whatever reason, his son didn’t open this safe until 1994. This safe contained Verne’s last novel, which was entirely different from his previous works, including 20,000. In his final work, Verne entirely rejected science, and penned a tale of a poet wondering the streets of Paris, penniless, looking for work. In the end, the poet dies in a snowy graveyard filled with deceased authors. Something happened in Verne’s consciousness, but sadly we’ll never know what it was.
In the authoring of 20,000, several very important markers are present before we look at the work itself. Victoria Blake said, “In his other books, Verne’s heroes are acted upon. The outside world intrudes on the voyage of discovery; it supplies the adventure and propels the books, and their narrators, onward. In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Verne turns the drama inward by making Nemo the central figure and the propelling force” (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Barnes and Noble Classics, p. xvi). If we take Nemo, “nobody” or “no one”, to be an expression of reality and consider this to be the driving force of story, then we happen upon a beautiful understanding. Consciousness, which is just another term pointing towards a reality that is one, is the driving force of the story of our experiences. We are not acted upon, be we are acted outward in a reality that is not separate or other from us. We are this reality, as this reality is always, already our own interpretation (both sensory and cognitively).
The state of awakening invites you to consider that there is only one actor, and that is consciousness itself. The story of your experience is being drive by this consciousness, by this totality that renders the futility of your already labored and porous ego meaningless.
In discussing Nemo in a letter to his publisher, Verne said, “It is important that this unknown character refrain from contact with other human beings, from whom he lives apart. He is no longer on earth, he manages without earth” (quoted in Lottman, Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography, p. 130). The experience of awakening is sometimes described as a departure from the tangles of the human self-perpetuating story. In Sanskrit, this is expressed with the word kaivalya: aloneness. It's not aloneness in the sense that the individual is alone, but the recognition that the universe is one thing, and you are that thing.
Upon awaking, there is a release from the belief in the dramatics that one experiences their self and reality to be into the freedom of the entire unfolding universe – a reality that is one. In a sense, this being stands apart from the immature and delusional ramblings of the bound, has departed from earth, and exists as entirety of the universe: everything (nemo non)/nothing (nemo).
This is made beautifully clear by the first exchange between Professor Aronnax, Conseil, and Ned Land, the harpooner, and Captain Nemo:
A half smile curled the lips of the commander: then, in a calmer tone:
“M. Aronnax,” he replied, “dare you affirm that your frigate would not as soon have pursued and cannonaded a submarine boat as a monster? You understand then, sir,” continued the stranger, “that I have the right to treat you as enemies? I have hesitated for some time,” continued the commander, “nothing obliged me to show you hospitality. If I chose to separate myself from you, I should have no interest in seeing you again; I could place you upon the deck of this vessel which has served you as a refuge, I could sink beneath the waters, and forget that you had ever existed. Would not that be my right?”
“It might be the right of a savage,” I answered, “but not that of a civilized man.”
“Professor,” replied the captain quickly, “I am not what you call a civilized man! I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I alone have the right of appreciating. I do not therefore obey its laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!” This was said plainly. A flash of anger and disdain kindled in the eyes of the Unknown, and I had a glimpse of a terrible past in the life of this man. Not only had he put himself beyond the pale of human laws, but he had made himself independent of them, free in the strictest acceptation of the word, quite beyond their reach.
After a rather long silence, the commander resumed the conversation.
“I have hesitated,” said he, “but I have thought that my interest might be reconciled with pity to which every human being has cast you there. You will remain aboard my vessel since fate has cast you there. You will be free: and in exchange for this liberty, I shall only impose one single condition. Your word of honor to submit to it will suffice.”
“Speak, sir,” I answered. “I suppose this condition is one a man of honor may accept?”
“Yes, sir; it is this. It is possible that certain events, unforeseen, may oblige me to consign you to your cabins for some hours or some days, as the case may be.”
“We accept,” I answered; “only I will ask your permission, sir, to address one question to you – one only.”
“You said that we should be free on board.”
“I ask you, then, what you mean by this liberty?”
“Just the liberty to go, to come, to see, to observe even all that passes here – save under rare circumstances – the liberty, in short, which we enjoy ourselves, my companions and I.”
It was evident that we did not understand one another.
“Pardon me, sir,” I resumed, “but this liberty is only what every prisoner has of pacing his prison. It cannot suffice us.”
“It must suffice you, however.”
“What! We must renounce forever seeing our country, our friends, our relations again?”
“Yes, sir. But to renounce that unendurable worldly yoke which men believe to be liberty is not perhaps so painful as you think.”
“By what name ought I to address you?”
“Sir,” replied the commander, “I am nothing to you but Captain Nemo; and you and your companions are nothing to me but the passengers of the Nautilus.”
As you can see, the professor and the captain are two entirely different beings. When I first read this, it very much echoed to me conversations I often have in satsang. In explaining the nature and experience of freedom, those listening question how, what I am explaining, could be free.
Captain Nemo has shed all bounds to human reality. He has removed the shackles of delusional reality and entered an entirely new reality, the ocean, which is a symbol for oneness, realization, and the fullness of consciousness in Indian traditions. In this reality, this liberated reality, Captain Nemo can still interact with those from the human world, but as you can see, these interactions are strained. It is almost like they are both speaking a different language, and this is because they both are. They’re obviously using the same grammar, vocabulary, and structure, but their experiences stand in such drastic opposition that they cannot really understand each other.
For the bound individual living in delusion, the state of awakening, when it is pointed towards skillful, sounds like a liberty one would never want. In liberation one loses all ability to believe in thought, value, preference, experience, feeling, or intuition, as it has all been released into the vast and gorgeous freedom of ever present unfolding. All personal ambition, perspective, memory, desire, and consideration dissolve and the entirety of universe moves through you as you.
To the bound - being that they are bound to their perspectives, thoughts, feelings, intentions, memories, plans, desires, feelings - the loss of their experience runs entirely against their experience, as their experience is entirely based on being an individual. Like Aronnax expresses, “this liberty is only what every prisoner has of pacing his prison. It cannot suffice us.”
People want to make enlightenment what they want. People want to be enlightened people. You don’t get you be an enlightened person. Upon awakening, there is the recognition that you are nothing/everything. You see that anything you believed your individuality to be was simply a self-constructed perpetuating illusion. Illusions are not bad, by the way; they are simply illusions. This particular wanting of the ego is not exclusive to perspectives on enlightenment, but pretty much everything. Most people want other people to be how they would like them to be. Most people want reality to be how they would like it to be. It’s nature of the ego: I want you to be the way I want you to be. This is suffering.
Freedom is to forever live in the mystery of the nothing and the ecstasy of the everything. With this, like Captain Nemo, the conventional world has to be left behind. It’s not leaving the conventional world for an unconventional world, it’s leaving the world all together for an entirely different reality. Like Nemo says, “But to renounce that unendurable worldly yoke which men believe to be liberty is not perhaps so painful as you think.”
Christ said, "Any person that loves his father or mother more than he loves me is not good enough to follow me. Any person who loves his son or daughter more than he loves me is not good enough to follow me. If a person will not accept the cross that will be given to him when he follows me, then that person is not good enough for me (Matthew 10:37-38, ERV).”
To step into awakening is to die. The illusion of individuality, and of unity, dissolves into the freedom of ever-present reality. But for this to happen, all bonds to the world of separation have to fall away. These bonds are strong. These bonds are deep. Most of these bonds are entirely unconscious. These bonds are relationships, memories, spiritual practices and traditions, beliefs, morals, values, and perspectives. Everything that you think defines you, must fall away.
Most people that come to me want my help in releasing the stuff they don’t like, the stuff that causes them suffering or problems. This is fine. I don’t mind this. But most have no interest in going all the way. Everyone wants to get rid of the stuff they don’t like, but no one wants to get rid of everything, and this is why almost everyone will remain bound.
Everything must go, for on the other side, truly, everything returns. And by everything, I mean everything. Be Nemo.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Another: Well, it's sort of annoying. Your shit is starting to piss me off. I liked it at first because you were all tearing apart spiritual traditions, teachers, and students. You know, fun shit. But now there's stories about throwing fucking starfish in the ocean? You're fucking gay.
Another: Well, what is this shit? Are you trying to create some enigmatic, enlightened guy sharing parables persona, where you are entirely lost in the contradictions? Some bullshit, Krishnamurti, Avril Levine, "I won't be defined," persona? You piss me off.
Me: No. I am expressing an enigmatic reality that is impossible to define. Wake-up.
Me: Yes, wake-up. I'd take your head through a wall if I thought the density of it could pierce the density of your self-constructed delusion.
Another: An enigmatic reality that is impossible to define?
Me: Entirely impossible. Do you actually read the blog? How many posts are about the impossibility of what I am talking about?
Another: You'd take my head through a wall to wake me up? That' s sweet.
Me: The Avril Levine comment was pretty funny.
Me: How ever you interpret it, I suppose. I could tell you what I thought it meant, my interpretation, but then you would just be interpreting that, so what's the point? What does holding on mean? What does letting go mean?
Them: I'd still be interested to hear your interpretation.
Me: Fixing something, in a forced way. Keeping something in your experience - at times, this thing may want to stay, and at other times, this thing may want to leave. I suspect that holding on when something wants to stay is pleasurable. I suspect that holding on when something wants to or has left is painful.
Them: You are a wise, wise dude...
Me: I am just a dude.
Them: I am entitled to my own interpretation of you.
Me: That you are, my dear. Oh, another thought. Often when something wants to leave our experience, and we hold on, and because of this we suffer, there is the belief that we are suffering because the thing is going away. We project our suffering onto the object that is leaving or has left. I suspect that most of this suffering arises because we are still holding on, not because the thing left.
Suffering is different than the bitter sweet sadness that arises at loss; suffering is resistance and attachment. In circumstances of holding on to an illusion (the idea that something that has left should still, somehow, be in your experience) and not letting go, the sadness rests in our own holding on and not in the other's leaving.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
the starfish from http://www.emrgnc.com.au/index.html
Once upon a time there was a philosopher who would walk along the beach every morning thinking about how to help the world.
One day as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a figure moving back and forth, rhythmically dancing to the day.
This gave him great pleasure, so he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young woman and the young woman wasn't dancing, but instead she was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
When he got closer he called out, 'Good morning! What are you doing?'
The young woman looked up and replied with simple joy, 'Throwing starfish in the ocean.'
The man looked puzzled and said: 'I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?'
'The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die.'
'But, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!' said the man.
The young woman listened politely. She then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea past the breaking waves and said with a smile...
'... but I made a difference to that one'.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I take long bike rides through the country. I twist, wind, meander and frolic through the Javanese countryside. Villages, rice fields, dirt paths and highways, I roam. I sometimes get lost, but this makes things better. When I ride through the country, villagers and farmers stand from their living work, smile, wave, and yell, "Halo!"
"Halo," back as I ride on.
Those that know me pause and say, "Welcome home, Bapak Kris Nelson."
And I say, "Home, indeed, Ibu (or) Bapak."
"Pagus, pagus, goooood, gooood," they say.
I am, indeed, home. Where does home not exist?
Vladimir Nabakov, Lolita
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Inside the illumined space sits two things: you and a machine that looks like a projector. You sit here for a while wondering.
Suddenly, a little person wearing a white and orange jump suit, painted in clown make-up, walks into the circle. He hands you a disc and says, “Please put this into the truth machine.” You do.
From the truth machine a beautiful, insane, chaotic, complex, horrible, simple, yet entirely pleasing 3D image appears. The image is complex. The image includes with it feelings and sensations in your body. “Neat,” you think.
“What’s this?” you ask to your little Umpaloompa friend.
“This is what’s happening outside of the room,” replies the little messenger.
“How do I know it’s real?” you ask.
“What else do you have? Would you prefer the blackness again?”
“No. Thank you. I’ll stay with this.” And you do. You stay with it. Soon there is a huge host of Umpaloompas. They bring you more and more discs. The more discs they bring you, the more complex the 3D image, your sensations, and your feelings become.
One day, after you’ve enjoyed the hologram for quiet awhile, you simply begin to assume that what you’re being shown is true. What they’re giving you is actually what’s happening outside the room. What else do you have to go on? Because you accept what you’re experiencing as true, you begin to think about it. You make theories about it. You create all sorts of ideas about what it means, why you’re experiencing it, your place in it, and the relationship you have with the others that appear in it. You assume that, like the reality you’re experiencing, these thoughts, theories, and beliefs are true too. What else do you have?
You rely on this reality and these thoughts, as it’s more entertaining and interesting than the empty space that was present before. You fool yourself into forgetting about the empty space that is right there, all along, behind the holographic image around you. As you deepen your relationship with what you think is real, you even begin forget about the Umpaloompas. The exchange of the discs is now so automatic, you become completely unconscious of it.
You believe that the hologram is real. You believe that your thoughts about the hologram are real too. You like this reality and your truths about it and become angry and frustrated whenever these beliefs are challenged. And your beliefs are constantly challenged, so you now suffer. What was once entertaining is now insanely painful, even though you pretend it is not. But you can’t go back. You’re stuck. You’ve forgot about the emptiness, and the Umpaloompas, and the projector, and you choice to participate in the process in the first place. You’re stuck.
What, then, is real?
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The waves that didn’t close out on a section of reef called Race Tracks were curling into beautiful tubes the size of my living room. Each set was breaking further and further out, as the size continued to increase. The gorgeous thing about Uluwatu and the outside corner is that if you can make Race Tracks, there’s another 200 yards of wave, sometimes reaching all the way down around the cliff to Padang Padang, Bali’s Pipeline.
I was in position and another huge roaring set was coming in. The thing about waves this size is that there is the urge to paddle out, as it looks like they’re going to break sooner than they do. Stay, I thought, so I sat in position. The first wave was a giant close out. A surfer a hundred feet up the wave from me went over the falls and I lost sight of him in the white water. It’s a bad day to break a board or leash.
The second wave came screaming towards me – dark and mysterious, she roared. I drop onto my board and pushed off. The thing about waves this size at Ulu is that they’re going fast. Really fast. I pushed hard pulling myself through the water. I could feel the wave fall in behind me and I started kicking. The wave doubled up and I pulled hard and paddled faster.
I was about to drop in. Everything in my body was screaming – no! With one more kick my hands slammed down onto my board, my feet sprang up into the air and planted hard. I dropped in. I tucked my left shoulder back and grabbed the rail with my right hand. I went screaming down the face of the wave. Insanity. I built so much speed in the drop the board began shaking violently. My toes pushed and gripped hoping the board wouldn’t fly out from under me.
The roar was so loud. I couldn’t hear anything else.
I reached the bottom of the wave and gave it a hard backside turn. One mistake and I would be slammed against the reef with twenty tons of water on top of me.
I made the turn. I zig-zagged up and down the wave building speed – I had to make race tracks. The wave started to come down over me. I pushed hard with my front foot as the wave peeled. I leaned forward, and the wave completely arched over me. Perfect barrel. For a moment, the roar silenced and there was nothing. Perfect floating bliss, suspended in space. Freedom and God.
The mouth of the monster opened back up and I saw daylight. I pushed harder on my front foot and charged for the exit. I made it out with a splash of spray in my face, and gently, calmly, rode over the crest and dropped onto my board. I paddled back up the line to sit and wait for the next one, to do it all over again.
Monday, April 28, 2008
A girl danced up to me. “Are you lady boy?”
“Are you the gay?”
“You dance like lady boy.”
“You mean I dance good?”
“No, I mean you dance like lady boy.”
“In the U.S. dancing like lady boy means good dancing.”
“In Thailand dancing like lady boy means you dance like lady boy.”
“Oh. Okay. Are you a hooker?”
“What is hooker?”
“No - Hey man, you rude.”
“You just asked me if I was a lady boy. You don’t think that’s rude?”
“Okaaaaay, okaaaay. It’s cool, dude. Want to be my friend?”
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
I felt good for having traveled for 22 hours. The three hours of sleep was sufficient.
I walked along side one of Bangkok’s many canals. Waterways used to be, and still are to some extend, Bangkok’s main arteries. Tucked back in a neighborhood, I saw a muted yellow, French colonial house surrounded by gardens and gazebos, all held by a high, stone wall. I liked the house. It called me.
I walked into the neighborhood and up to the main gate. Woven into the iron and brass a metal trident and double headed drum sat sparkling in the sun; both Shiva’s accessories. Something Saivite was going on here. I looked up at the sky, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me?, I thought.
No. I’m completely serious.
I’ve only been here 10 hours.
I know. It starts now.
The gate was open, and I walked through. The property was beautiful. Gardens. Lotus pounds. Gazebos and open -air halls. The main house was a French Victorian design – muted yellow with white trim. I wondered around the property. I walked inside the house and sat down.
After ten minutes of sitting there an older, Thai woman walked by, stopped, and looked at me. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“What sort of place is this?”
“This is a healing center and ashram.”
“I saw the trident and dhamaru on the fence, so I came in.”
“Aww, you know Shiva?”
“My guru, the master of this center, is an avatar of Shiva.”
We talked for a bit. She told me her story. Buddhist; studied with monks. Met the avatar, and he introduced her to Saivite practice. Now she runs the center. It seems to be one of those oneness-of-all-religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, sort-of-teachings.
“Why are you in Bangkok?” she asked.
“I’m here teaching.”
“What are you teaching?”
“Yoga stuff. Enlightenment stuff. Stuff like that. It’s really not that interesting.”
“It seems very interesting. Very important. You are special. You must meet master.”
“I’m not special. I’m just a guy – The Dude.”
Master was in Chiang Mai. She wanted to show me something, so she led me outside. We walked through the garden. She talked about Buddhism, Saivism, and Christianity. She said Buddha and Siva came from same source. She talked about how badly the world needed enlightenment. I smiled and nodded. I looked up at the sky, really?
We walked onto a dock and into a small floating house. It was their shrine. Adorned with many Shiva and Buddha statues. Many Shiva and Buddha pictures. Incense. Burning ghee lamps. Small stupas with the ashes of earth-retired monks. A large lingam. Half of the small houseboat was the puja.
“Shiva brings wisdom to the ignorant.”
“Shiva is wisdom and ignorance.”
“There is no need to make the ignorant wise. Shiva is all things. All things are already, always awake and free. Believing that something needs to wake-up reinforces your own delusion.”
“I want to be enlightened.”
“How do you know you’d like it?”
“It’s oneness with God.”
“I doubt it.”
“What do you teach?”
“Nothing. I say what I need to say when I need to say it. I don’t have an agenda. I in all honesty couldn’t care less if another person becomes enlightened on this planet. Because everyone and everything is already, always enlightened. It is the nature of things. To think that there are enlightened people and non-enlightened people is a great way to remain in delusion land. That’s Maya’s tricky game, and she’s a sneaky bitch. I don’t enlighten people. I destroy them.”
“I want to study with you.”
“We’ll see, I suppose.”
“Who is this?” said Carlo. We pondered it. I proposed it was myself, wearing a shroud.
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
I walked around the first floor again. The lights were out, but I found another door. I ran out the door, leaving it open, for fear that stopping to shut it would give the dog time to make it around the house. I ran towards the stone wall. In one Jackie-Chan-style-running-push-off-the-wall jump, I flew over the top and landed in an alley. In front of me was an outdoor bar. There were lights, Thai music, and lots of Thai kids drinking whiskey and eating. I walked in.
Jack Kerouac – On the Road
Monday, April 21, 2008
I had been talking to the one of the writer and producers of Weeds for a long time. He appears as the typical writer/producer: a bit over weight, jeans and a tee, unshaven, and a low baseball cap.
Kris: “Hey, so I have to ask, the fires at the end of last season and the fires on the show – were they coincidence or did you guys rewrite the end of the season to make the show correlate with current events?”
Insensitive Producer: “The show had been written for months. It was just one of those great coincidences. We were really happy with it.”
Kris: “Great coincidence?”
IP: “Well, yeah. Awesome. I mean, we were sad thousands of people lost their homes, but you can’t buy better advertising than that. Awesome.”
Kris: “Yeah… Right. Okay.”
We talked for a little while longer. He was pleased that I liked the show, especially after I mentioned that I had been a serious stoner most of my life, and highly approved.
Alex: “Hey, want to go to a strip club?”
She twirled her ice.
Kris: “Yeah, I guess.”
Alex: “Really? Awesome. You don’t think Tara will care?”
She hesitated. I looked at the mutating light cascades. They were wonderfully pleasing to me.
Kris: “Neat lights.”
Alex: “Yeah. Well?”
Kris: “No, I don’t think she would care.”
I had not been to a strip club in a very long time, except for the quick Soho tour I had in London last fall. It had actually been about seven years, when I took my friend Aaron for his bachelor party, since serious strip club time.
Kris: “Why are we going to strip club?”
Alex: “My boy friend Darren is at a bachelor party in New York. It seems fair that I share his experience.”
Kris: “Bachelor parties. Right. Fair enough.”
We escaped Century City.
Alex: “Where should we go?”
Kris: “I don’t know. Crazy Girls? They have pool tables and cocktails.”
Alex: “We’re not going to play pool.”
Kris: “Right. They have cocktails.”
Alex: “Have you been to Body Shop?”
Kris: “No, but it looked cool in Entourage.”
It was 12:00 already, and the Beverly Hills streets were empty and silent. We drove north and east, moving towards Sunset and debauchery.
Alex: “Body Shop then - All for new experiences.”
We parked behind the club and walked to the entrance. The neon silhouette cut outs of dancers on the street wall blinked prophetic messages of the experience inside – naked dancing girls.
Alex: “Can you see the action inside? Does it look good?”
Kris: “No, I can’t see anything. It’s a strip club. Naked girls, creepy dudes, and awkward drunk girlfriends is what we can expect, I suppose.”
Alex: “Right. Let’s do it.”
We paid and went in. The club was almost empty when we walked in and sat down. The waitress came over and asked us for our juice order. The Body Shop is a nude club, so they don’t serve alcohol. Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale. It bubbles. We watched for a while.
Alex: “Does this turn you on?”
Kris: “No. Not really.”
Kris: “I don’t know.”
Alex: “What do you see when you watch?”
Alex: “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Kris: “No. I am totally serious. When I look across the room, I see consciousness. I get that there’s naked dancing bodies everywhere. I understand that this should, in some way, turn me on. But it doesn’t.”
Alex: “Are you bored? Do you want to leave?”
Kris: “No. I’m never bored. I’m just not turned on, and that’s fine.”
A girl flopped down, naked, on the counter in front of us. She said, “Hi,” with a hair toss. Eyes flashing, she began to dance.
Alex: “Are you going to blog this?”
Alex: “You know, I feel like I’m some pop-culture-celebrity-gossip-Hollywood-hipster character in your blogs. But I think our conversations and relationship is deeper than the surface stuff you portray.”
Kris: “Yes. It is.”
The girl, with a slap on her crotch, gets up and leaves. She frowns when neither of us unfold a dollar bill and throw it her direction.
Kris: “It’s not that I don’t value you, as you are. My blog is about something very specific that transcends my life and relationships. I am blogging about reality, and I am using myself, my actions, and my words as a tool to do that.”
Alex: “And me? I’m a tool for reality?”
Kris: “No. Your character is a tool for expressing the complex and simple beauty of reality. Just as my character is a tool for expressing reality.”
Alex: “Kris, we never had this conversation. You’re just making this up after the fact to make things clear.”
Kris: “Yes. But we did talk about the consciousness thing.”
Alex: “Yes. So what about that? You can’t get turned on because you view all of this as consciousness?”
Kris: “I suppose I could get turned on, if need be. But yes. I look across the room, and I see consciousness, awake and gorgeous, enacting upon itself.”
The club was getting crowded now. Twice as many dancers as when we first walked in, and now just standing room only.
Alex: “Well, what about morals and stuff?”
Kris: “Morals? That’s God dancing on stage in front of us. How are there morals absent?”
Alex: “That girl on stage is God?”
Kris: “Yes. Everything is.”
Alex: “I thought you just said that in class because it sounds nice.”
Kris: “No. It’s just the way I experience things. There is nothing more Divine than this right here. And I’ve been to some of the most sacred areas of the most sacred temples in the world.”
Alex: “And what about wasted, lame, pervy guy over there, throwing his money and yelling at all the girls?”
Kris: “Yep. God too.”
Alex: “Do you realize that sounds crazy?”
Alex: “Do you realize that people will interpret this as simple debauchery and blow off all the spiritual things you’re going to write about?”
Kris: “Yes. That’s why I’m here and that’s why I am going to write about it.”
Kris: “I’m going to write about it because, really, why can’t the most sacred place in the world be the Body Shop? Why can’t God be right here, right now, as we are, as this is?”
Alex: “Yeah, but…”
Kris: “God is not divided. There is nothing more sacred than anything else. God is one. Reality is one. Anything that divides that reality must be destroyed.”
Kris: “Destroyed. Where ever you think God doesn’t exist, go there immediately and find the Awareness, the Beauty, the Bliss, and the Freedom. It’s always, already there.”
Alex: “That’s why I like you.”
We both throw a dollar on stage.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
For more information: http://www.vma.cape.com/~jdale/science/movement.htm
Saturday, April 12, 2008
It was not a huge production, but it did involve a motor home, two photographers, eight models, two locations, and crew. We were shooting intimate couple scenarios, which essentially means we were shooting couples in their underwear making-out 100 different ways. This was not pornography. Think: generic Cosmo article about how to drive your boy friend wild in bed, and the pictures that represent that.
In one of our pre-production style meetings, our stylist, in recapping our discussion, said, “Various states of undress, right?” Right. I immediately crossed out Intimate Couples on the top of the paper I was holding and wrote: Various States of Undress.
Obviously, in order for the shoot to work, the couples have to seem authentically interested and excited about each other, and they have to be willing to play the game a bit. Needless to say, there is some warming up to do. This is generally easier for the boys than girls. Any normal and adjusted human male is ready to get down at the first flash of the bulb, but girls generally need time, even if they are excellent professionals. This means that a huge part of the day is about developing intimacy and interest among the cast members, slowly building towards liberating nudity.
We never quite got to nudity in this shoot, and we hadn’t planned to. I noticed though, that what was unfolding was becoming a great metaphor for awakening. The process of undressing, peeling off layers, and opening one’s self to another in an intimate situation is as rushed as one’s desire for the other person. Meaning, in awakening, the layers peel as fast as the desire to peel them is present. In a serious macking situation, the clothes, generally, seem to take themselves off.
“Oh my god, we’re naked,” I’ve said many times.
In intense and spontaneous awakening, the clothes fly off, without effort. It might be an effortful and even painful experience, but it’s the only thing one can do, so it takes little effort in initiating and enacting the process. Because it’s the only thing one can do, it’s an effortless process.
In a workshop Tara and I taught in December, I likened the process of awakening to undressing to get into a hot tub. Over the course of the ten-hour workshop, I took the metaphor to all sorts of strange and surprising places, but the major point was: we are already always naked. We are born like that. Suffering and delusion is as simple as believing that we are only our clothes without recognizing that we are always already naked; our work clothes, our home clothes, our date clothes, our spiritual clothes, our parenting clothes, our exercising clothes, (it was actually tee-shirts at the workshop) etc. Awakening is taking off these clothes, recognizing that you are were always already naked, and recognizing that everyone and everything is intrinsically naked. No one is his or her outfit. Everyone is naked. Outfits are for fun.
Sadly, though, most spirituality is about updating the outfit, making it appear more spiritual, developed, natural, connected, and lends to the appearance and pretension of freedom, but not the radical freedom of naked existence. Most spiritual teachers offer a few more accessories or, if you’re lucky, perhaps an outfit change, but not nudity. As you accessorize or change clothes, they tell you how wonderful you look, how good you’re doing, and how special you are. You, in turn, compliment them on how wonderful they look. Everyone goes home happy. All of this is fine, by the way. I don’t have a problem with this. It’s just not going to get the job done.
This is important. Spend a moment with this. Most spiritual teachers simply validate their students, so that their need for validation is reciprocated, and everyone goes home feeling special and validate. I’ve watched this unfold in almost every spiritual community I’ve been a part of since I was 8 years old.
It takes about two minutes of ego-less honesty to see this. If this is your teacher, and you’re serious about freedom, run away as fast as you can. If you experience this in our relationship (if we have one), run away as fast as you can.
I don’t do the validation thing. I do the destruction thing. If you’re serious about waking-up and you come to me, I am going to rip your clothes off faster than intoxicated high schoolers on prom night.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
A humming bird nest is small.
These humming birds have brought joy to my kitchen time, so I decided to buy them a feeder and some other humming bird gear. As it turns out, there isn't any other humming bird gear, so I bought them two feeders. Now they both get their own.
The first trip to the hardware store did not produce humming bird feeders, but I did pick-up potting material to re-pot all of our indoor plants, and I got some new lighting fixtures so my friends Rachael and Robert will stop complaining about our lighting, which I admit was horrible and is now rapidly improving. I didn't realize that I forgot what I originally set out for until I returned home and saw the humming birds outside. It is not surprising that I forgot. I often arrive places and forget why I am there, and then just wonder around to see what happens.
It was too late to go back to Home Depot, and I now needed to get into some re-potting and light experiments.
I went to Laurel Hardware this afternoon. I like Laurel Hardware. It's like one of those old school hardware stores from the 80's, before we came up with the idea of super-hardware stores. Laurel is cute, small, strangely stocked, and hosts clerks that have worked there since it opened in the 60's.
Humming bird feeders were in the back. As I mentioned, I bought two, and they both look like strawberries. There was one that looked like a rocket ship and another that looked like a hot air balloon (These were the Art Stylish models. Begging to differ.). Between the rocket ship, hot air balloon, and strawberries, the strawberries were the obvious choice.
"Hey, do you guys have humming bird food too?" I asked the ancient clerk (think knight from India Jones and The Last Crusade), Terry.
"Nope, all out."
"What am I suppose to feed them? All of the Helen Keller action has to have made them hungry."
"Helen Keller? Never mind. Strawberry Soda. It's great. They love it."
"Strawberry Soda? No shit?"
"Yeah, they love it."
"Lindsey loves blow and Xanax, but that doesn't mean it's good for her."
"Who's Lindsey? Never mind. It's about the glucose. Soda has great glucose. And they like the strawberry flavor."
"That doesn't seem healthy. What about maple syrup?"
"Nope. That will straight kill them."
"Too acidic. Strawberry Soda,"
"Look, Strawberry Soda has only existed for 80 years max. That doesn't seem biologically sound. What did they eat before that?"
"Flower nectar like they do in the wild."
"Do you guys sell that?"
"No. You can't buy that. That's what they eat in the wild."
"Oh. Strawberry soda, huh?"
It seemed strange. Perhaps this was because the clerk was 70 and had no teeth? Strawberry soda seemed off. I decided to give it a try anyway. What the hell, right? But between Laurel Hardware and home, I forgot to stop and get it. Again, not surprising. I decided to make my own glucose mixture with 1 part raw sugar and 4 parts water, like it said to online.
I just hung them up outside, with the two upstairs, young, twenty-something, gay neighbors watching.
"What are you going to feed them?" one asked.
"This is a mixture of water and sugar. Apparently, though, it's all about strawberry soda."
"Strawberry soda? No shit?"
"That's what I said. Terry assured me it was the way to go."
"Well why didn't you get that?"
"I love this shit. You're all spiritual and shit, and into mother nature. Taking care of the wild life and the like. Bring the animal friends to our building. Awesome!"
"Are you stoned?"
"Yeah, totally. Going to work."
"Awesome. Have fun."
"You too. Have fun."
Indeed, have fun.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Am I boring you?
I was discussing in that article (which has been edited and greatly reduced) and post the fluid unfolding nature of existence and freedom. In the writing of Chance the Gardener & Rocket Travel I attempted to represent that fluid, rambling, rolling, turning, meandering-to-the-edge-of-pointlessness nature of free existence. Freedom is always unfolding, effortlessly. In the post, I wondered if I could represent this through a linguistic landscape. I wanted to use the writing style and geography of the work to point towards what freedom is. I am a context sort of guy, and with this blog I am ultimately pointing towards the context of all things – liberated freedom. The very reason that this is called Empty Content, is that I am pointing towards a context much greater than the content. I am pointing towards the freedom of always already present awareness – the context of all things.
I could never truly write or speak about awakening, freedom, and truth. It can’t be expressed. It’s too big and words are just too small. Further, there is no it, so that makes things even harder. Freedom is free to be whatever it is. If I was to type for the rest of my life, I could never get close. I can say what it’s like (until that doesn’t make sense anymore). I can say what it’s not (until that doesn’t make sense anymore). But I can never say what it is, so it’s all metaphor.
Someone emailed me this, and I thought it was good:
So I'm reading some McKenna, and a part made me think about you and what you mention earlier today (well, technically yesterday) about the desire to open up people to the fluidity and freedom of each moment, about how you're not trying to convey any concept, but rather create a meta sense both of metaphor and of confusion. McKenna says "the reason for all the excess is that there's no saying it directly because there's no it, so everything has to be communicated indirectly; what it's not, what it's like. Never what it is." I increasingly get it – the ineffable quality of what you are trying to share, how it necessarily and always-already evades language and description...
This makes things rather wonderful and simple. There is nothing for you to understand. When understanding is let go of, you know everything you need to know, in the ultimate sense. There is no need for this or any teaching, ultimately, because everything you need is already right here, now. When you look into your experience, through everything that rushes to the surface, there is empty alive space. Free, infinite, pregnant space. Context. The black space behind these words: context. The white letters: content. The content is empty.
In trying to understand what the content means, you are already missing the point. In trying to understand what Chance the Gardener & Rocket Travel you are already missing the point. The content is empty. The context is free.
You are free.
Monday, March 24, 2008
WOW, Thank Tara for her comments. I know what she is talking exactly. I'm not so sure my non dualistic conceptually intellectual friend is enlightened, but he likes to talk from the nothing matters perspective, which gives him permission to rain on anyones parade at anytime without remorse. But when it comes to turning the table on him and repeating his very own words back to him when things on his to do list didn't go as planned, he doesn't respond in a nothing matters manner.
Tara is fabulous, isn't she? I can say for sure (I think, and we know how far that goes...) that without her I would not be as integrated as I am now (which isn't that integrated). Waking-up is wonderful, liberating, and amazing (but simple and always already present, so don't project any of your feel-better-in-the-future fantasies on awakening), but not necessarily conducive to relationships. Apparently, sitting on the couch drooling for three months, while staring of into space without talking, doesn't make for interesting companionship. Other things were and are great. Since waking-up Tara and I haven't been in one argument. How do you argue with someone that doesn't react, resist or have an opinion about anything? Doesn't work so well. Because of this, I thought things in our relationship were perfect. I think things everywhere are perfect, so my perspective might be a bit warped.
About three months into the awakening thing, Tara had a bit of a breakdown and asked for her boyfriend back. This was all very interesting to me, and it did elicit a response. A play of consciousness began to unfold: how does nothing/everything date something? It was fascinating. What began was a process of learning to relate from the freedom of ever-present liberation. I'm still not very good at it, to be honest, but every day learning unfolds. I am certainly free, but relationships are tricky and challenging aspects of the unfolding mystery of consciousness. I am free. I am free to be in relationship and I am free to be rather poor at it. I am free to practice it, and I learn every moment.
Since waking-up and loosing all ability to take anything personally (it's not a forced, obnoxious practice of non-attachment, but naturally takes no consideration - I couldn't take something personally if I wanted to), my experience of being in relationship has been amazing. Sitting before me is a mysterious and intoxicating being, offering and unfolding emotion after emotion with no apparent reason or cause. People are insanely beautiful. Even if she is raging mad at me and pulling out all the stops, the only thing I can truly feel is absolute wonder. Again, none of this is forced. It's a natural unfolding of my experience.
It's very interesting when people have experiences of Truth and awakening, and somehow manage to still hold on to attachments and resistances. Everyone likes the nice aspects of truth. Everyone likes the:
sense of being, but very few people follow the implications of that. Very few take it all the way through. Waking-up truly means that you get no stickiness, no resentment, no opinion, no fixed perspective (yes, I am aware that this seems like a fixed perspective), no reactions, no projections, no anything. If there is stickiness in your experience, you are not awake. There is not partially awake. It's awake or it's not. Stop fucking around with bullshit spiritual philosophies and wake-up. If you are sticky, resistant, opinionated, fixed in any perspective or attached or resistant to any emotion, you are not awake.
Stickiness and awake do not exist together. It's one or the other. If there is stickiness in a so-called awake experience, the experience of awakeness is just another delusion and should be immediately destroyed.
This isn't a pissing contest. Awakening is not a who-got-there-first game. I am talking about freedom. Ultimate freedom. I am talking about your freedom. Freedom is not another notch on the ego belt, it's the recognition that there is not truly a fixed ego, and this means, again: no stickiness, resistance, opinions, fixed in any perspective, or attached or resistant to any emotion.
If you are serious about waking-up, whenever you experience resistance, frustration, stickiness, or disagreement there is an opportunity for you to awaken fully to the always already liberated freedom of reality. Find out what's there and destroy it. Destroy it all. When it's done, it's done. You know when it's done, but if there is any resistance, it is not done, and the belief of awakening is just another delusion that must be destroyed.
Now, let this go. It means nothing. The next moment is unfolding.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
"But fucking non-dual enlightened guys like Adya, Jed, and now Kris are fucking with my bliss. So reality and this "fully human" experience, which seems to mean there are no aims, no preferences, no sides, only being - also means you can act however you want running the gambit from whack job to asshole. So having traveled over 6000 miles to the most so called "spiritual" place in the world is probably a strange choice to make with an allegedly awake guy who walks around in Channel sun glasses towering over Indians wearing more spiritual garb than Swami Muniji at the ashram - so much for no fucking preferences. What a fucking fraud."
Awesome. And then there's this:
"I'm in the purgatory of getting it and not wanting to get it. Get what? To look like K-Pax walking around the "half-human" human world seeming like Ali G on acid? To know that there is no quest, journey or goal? Fuck. I wake-up and turn into some fucking spiritual rapper? Kris wakes up and becomes half K-Pax and half Ali G depending on his mood. That's it? What's the point? But, otherwise, like Adya says, "It's all just rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic. What else am I going to do, but this?"
Wonderful. Why is this wonderful, you might ask? Because she's doing two beautiful things: 1) She's being damn funny and God knows we could all laugh more, and 2) she's killing me. She's taking apart her invention of me, awakeness, spirituality, destinations, goals. She's driving into her core belief that there are awake beings and non-awake beings. She's dismantling her awake projection, placed on someone else, and is turning it within. Perfect. This is how you wake-up - not chanting mantras, reading ancient texts, and pretending to give devotion to a "higher" being.
Like Tara, kill it all. If you'd like, start with me. The Ali G, K-pax, crazy wisdom on acid situation should make it pretty easy. I am a big fucking fraud. Get it.
"Sir, is that a service dog?" the large black security guard, who could be chef from South Park, asks. I look down at Moxie, and she looks at me. I look up at the security guard, and he looks at me. We all stand there for a moment.
"Yes," I respond.
"Um... what's its function?" I look down at Moxie again. She looks at me and smiles. I look at the security guard and smile. He doesn't smile back. Her function seems pretty clear to me - what's the issue?
"Isn't that obvious?" I ask. He shakes his head indicating he doesn't like what's happening.
"You'll need to take her outside."
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
When Stacy invited me to write this article, she mentioned that the theme would be spring emergence. Wonderful, I thought. The seasons have provided rich spiritual metaphor dating back well beyond Christ and Buddha. This will be fun. About a month into thinking about this article, I still had not experienced the flash of what I call the core concept – what will carry this article through the cascading flow of words, images, and ideas? I had no idea when I sat down this after to take a break from my already too leisurely day to watch a film that the core concept would emerge, but, wonderfully, it did.
About six months ago, my girlfriend, Tara, told me I was becoming like Chauncey the Gardener more and more everyday. “Who’s Chauncey?” I asked.
“You know, that guy from the movie Being There. Peter Sellers played Chauncey, I think.”
“I don’t remember a lot of the film, but Chauncey walks around, does particularly nothing, and mutters random things that people interpret as brilliant.”
“That does sound like me, except for the brilliant part.”
“Well, that’s the thing. You don’t know if he’s brilliant, autistic, retarded, or enlightened - until the end, at least. Ever since you woke-up, you’re like Chauncey the Gardener.”
“You’re not making a very good case for awaking.”
“Neither do you, babe.”
I forgot about the conversation for a long while (not surprising). It was true to a certain degree. I do spend a lot of time wondering around, doing nothing in particular, while saying random things. I like to be alone. If need be, I can lucidly interact in conversation. Other than my teaching work, or organization development projects, I like to meander directionless and stop to “Watch the plants and flowers grow,” just like Chauncey.
Just a few weeks ago, Tara was reading a book series by a Non-Dual enlightenment teacher I really like named Jed McKenna, and in these books he likens himself to Chauncey. It was a joke, but jokes are only funny because they are partially true. Again she insisted that I see the film. “It will be good research,” she said. I dutifully logged on to Netflix, found the film, and bumped it to the top of my waiting list.
The film came a few days later. Like most of my rented films, it sat on the table for about a week before I watched it. I liked this film. Its slow melodic quality, meandering insights, and deep subtle meaning reminded me a lot of the last year and a half. And, as I had been putting off this article for about a month, it gave me the content I needed to produce. I knew what I wanted to say, but how I was going to say it was not yet clear. Like all circumstances where there is not a clear choice, I waited for the content to present itself, knowing it would all perfectly unfold as it was suppose to – much like Chance’s experience in the film Being There.
In case you have not seen the film, I’ll give a quick synopsis:
Chance is a resident gardener in a large Washington D.C. estate – Chance the Gardener. It seems that the owner of the home, a women who is his caretaker, and Chance are the only people living there. The owner dies, the caretaker leaves, and the bank repossesses the home. Chance is now homeless. He packs and wonders out into the city, going nowhere in particular. No plan, no money, no destination – life unfolds. A limousine that chauffeurs the wife of a powerful and influential businessman hits Chance, and she brings him to their house.
At their home, Chance’s (who they misunderstand to be named Chauncey, which Chance does not object to being called) interest of gardening comes out in all conversations. Everyone thinks he is speaking metaphorical. The President of the United States comes by one afternoon and he too believes Chance is speaking metaphorically – on this occasion regarding the economy. This conversation changes the face of the national economic discourse. Appearing on talk shows and receiving requests for interviews, Chance becomes famous.
The most important and reoccurring theme in Chance’s conversations is the changing seasons. “Something’s have to die in order for other things to grow,” he says. This natural, simple truth applies to both development and spiritual transformation. Chauncey hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.
When I speak about spirituality, I speak about it in two contexts: awakening spirituality and developmental spiritual. Almost all spirituality, at least 95% (I’m being generous, as it’s probably closer to 99%), is developmental spirituality. One of the unique circumstances we have been present to is that a great deal of developmental spirituality masquerades as awakening spirituality, and this leads to a lot of unnecessary confusion, leading to neither awakening or development.
Growth is a process of letting things wither and fall away, in order for new things to arise and blossom. We are in the spring now. Days are longer, and emergence is in the air. You might find that you have more energy, and there is a sense of excitement. Flowers begin to bloom and their sweet fragrance dances and mingles in the wind. However, none of this could happen without the withering and dying process of the empty chill and dark night of winter. Without the rest and hibernation of winter, the expansion of spring is impossible. Without the harvest of fell, and the death and removal of the excess and indulgence, there would not be the space and invitation for new growth.
Spiritual transformation, all growth really, requires the same cycle. Things have to be let go of. Old patterns, ideas, values, and perceptions that do not serve will have to be surrendered, so that there is space for new and spontaneous growth – growth that we could not have even imagined. Spiritual growth, like all growth, is wonderful. It is an intrinsic aspect of our natural world, our lives, and every moment of our experience (think of the cycle of a moment like the flow of seasons). However, we can exaggerate the process, and this, very simply, is where every spiritual tradition has come from. Spirituality is a natural human thing. Humans came first, and then came spiritual meaning making and cultivation.
From a very limited and simplistic, yet liberating, perspective, we can view spiritual paths and traditions as processes of letting go (the process of winter). “Not my will, but thy will be done,” are Christ’s words of salvation (think transformation) imprinted life. Each cycle brings us back to deeper and deeper layers of trust and surrender. “Something’s have to die in order for other things to grow,” says Chance Gardener.
I spent a good portion of my spiritual life asking the question, what needs to die today? I would begin and end each day with that simple yet powerful question. This question does not take faith, experience, training, tradition or anything of that nature – just ask the question. By the way, there is certainly nothing wrong with faith, experience, training, and tradition; however, when you add those simple five words to any of the above, you’re tossing gasoline in your own spiritual fire. You are inviting the winter of spiritual experience that will, always, inevitably usher in a new, expansive spring.
There is a huge misunderstanding in spiritual circles, and it goes something like: the more I develop, the closer I will be to enlightenment (or whatever this particular group of people has decided to call it). Development and evolution never stop. They never end, and this is the very reason they are called development and evolution. If there were an end game, it would be called a project or something like that. But, wonderfully, evolution and development never ends. The seasons will unfold until the earth ends. No one has, and no one will, ever develop himself or herself into awakening. Sorry to switch metaphors, but it’s a whole different ball game.
If development is like the flow and experience of the seasons, then awakening (enlightenment) is like leaving the planet and watching the whole thing from outer space. Think of my roll as NASA – I run a space travel program.
Imagine in the middle of winter, you wonder what the whole season thing looks like. What is it that is actually going through these birth and death cycles of transformation? You begin to ask. Some people tell you to do more season work. Some tell you to focus on winter more, or spring more, or the transition between the two. You find someone with an eastern perspective on seasons. You do that for a while. You find someone with a western perspective, and you do that for a while. You decide to make your environment cleaner, as this might help a bit, so you purify, fast, and detox. You invest in some super food to assist with growth. But through all this you never find out what it is that is actually changing. Then, one day, you walk into NASA’s apartment and you’re invited into a spaceship. Blast off, baby!
You fly hurling through the atmosphere and land in orbit. From way up above, you realize many things. Like when it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is winter in the southern. You can see how seasons affect weather patterns, and how weather patterns in one part of the world will affect the patterns on the other side of the world. You realize that you are not any longer bound by the seasons, or weather, or anything happening on earth. You are no longer on earth. And because you are no longer on earth, you are no longer affected by earth. Earth is obviously a part of your sensory experience – you are looking at it. You are free to experience earth, but you are no longer subject to its cycles. “Life is just a state of mind,” rings loud as the last line of dialogue we hear in the film Being There. You recognize this fully.
You then realize something further. Because you are no longer affected by earth, you are free to experience it fully. You are not that season thing, but you are free to be that season thing. You also realize that as long as you are present to the season thing, it will continue to unfold. Chance’s experience in the film effortlessly unfolded. When I woke-up, I no longer experienced any identification to my thoughts, personality, or self-expression – my developing self. Being free from this self allowed me to fully be myself whenever and however I wanted.
It is often said that transformation, whether developmental or spiritual, is painful. My experience, post-awakening, is different. When there is no longer any identification to the person that is being expressed and experienced in the moment, then changes within this person are rather simple, easeful, and wonderful, just the way the seasons unfold. Most of my teaching is about awakening and assisting people with this. I ask people to make a clear choice – which way do you want to go? If it is a developmental path, be clear and committed to that. If it is an awakening path, be clear and committed to this. For a long time, I always said, ‘Awakening first, worry about development later.’ But I now see this as an error, as I find that most people do not have the rocket fuel capacity (back to the space travel metaphor) to see the awakening thing through all the way to orbit, even if they think they do. And though I spend most of my time talking about the awakening path, I encourage people to be fully and deeply committed to the development path.
Developmental spirituality is about moving through the cycle of seasons, with each new cycle producing more growth. There is no end game to growth, just as there is no end game to the flow of seasons. Growth always grows – wonderfully. Spiritual awakening is to step away from identifying with the process of growth (and everything else that happens on the planet, which is you), and is to recognize your self as the space that contains all things earth, which is what you believe yourself to be.
You are ultimately that space. Your true, undying, unborn nature is that space. Right here and right now, you are empty space. Within that space something is happening: thoughts, memories, perceptions, growth, and death. Within that space is a transforming and evolving spiritual being. However, you are not that being, you are the space that contains that being, and because you are the space that contains that being, you are free to be that being. Be that.
In this time of seasonal transition and the inevitable emergence of spring, become absolutely clear about what your path is. Is your path the process of moving through the season of growth and life skillfully and consciously, or is it the radical transformation of space travel? I spend most of my time talking people out of the space travel adventure – it’s a rough ride and you never know what is going to happen. But it is up to you. Like Microsoft asks, Where do you want to go today?
“I watched the film,” I mentioned to Tara while staring across the room at light streaming through the windows. It is not really about the light, but the way dust floats through it. Actually, it is not really about the dust either, but how sweet and soft light touches upon the surface of the dust – beautiful.
“What film?” she asked.
“I guess it’s been awhile. Being There.”
“Yeah, it’s been a few weeks. Did you like it? I told you, you’re like Chauncey, right?”
“I’m not retarded,” I say while laughing. She hits me in the arm.
“He wasn’t retarded. He was enlightened. Retarded people don’t walk on water.”
“I don’t walk on water.”
“It was a visual way of expressing his fluidity. You’re fluid. Just like that.”
“I suppose. But you know what’s most important?”
“The last line of the film. Remember?”
“Life is just a state of mind.”