The Peace That Broken People Know

pottery

Your wound is like the purposeful flaw in Native American pottery – it’s there to let spirit in. We all need to heal through life. It’s in the healing we connect with spirit. Spirit reaches us through the wound.

I used to believe that addiction was a form of wounding, that we hurt ourselves and others through addiction. That’s true. But it’s also true that the wound was there before the addiction. The addiction was our way of trying to cope with our wounds. At first, it works. Then of course it doesn’t. Things get worse and soon we’re struggling with greater wounds. When we get sober, we find we still need to heal the original wound.

What is that original wound? Does it come simply from being alive on Earth? We don’t know. Over time, we come to be aware that something within us is broken. The cure is our connection with spirit. Many of us discover this simple truth after trying everything else to ease the pain.

Many of us come to feel gratitude for the discomfort that so vividly prompted our attention to healing. This is good. Our spiritual journey begins as we try to heal the wound.

Living in the Quiet

quiet

I used to want peace. Now I’m not sure what peace is.

The absence of stress? Taking away stress doesn’t necessarily leave us with peace.

So I’ll take quiet as the metric.

The absence of noise in my head doesn’t result in complete silence, but I don’t need complete silence to be quiet.

Birds, the breeze through the bushes, far-off horn honking, the tapping of a woodpecker a few trees away – that’s quiet enough.

Not fretting over the past, not uneasy about the future – just quiet.

My muscles relax and yet I’m not sleepy.

There are worse ways to live.

There are worse ways I’ve lived.

It’s not a long journey to be quiet. It’s right here, and I don’t worry whether it’s peace, whether I’m in the now, or whether I’m all right. It’s just quiet.

The Secret of the Voice in Your Head

 

voices

All day long, we go around with a monologue inside our head – the chatter of our thinking. Much of it includes thoughts such as: what do I have to do next, why is this or that person making things difficult, what am I going to have to eat or drink in the next? Will I be late? Am I good enough to do what’s expected from me? What happens if I lose my income? How am I going to stop this pain?

Often – if not almost always – it’s a mixture of fear and stress.

We sometimes mix the negative voice with fantasies of escape or revenge. These fantasies are not tangible nor rational enough to produce satisfying action.

The voice in your head sounds like your own, but it’s not. It tends to be a compiled rumble of childhood messages mixed with adult conflicts and disappointments. The fears and stress are enunciated in your own words and in your own voice.

On the bright side, we can replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations or steps toward solutions. Even then, a negative voice will pop up out of nowhere. Chasing those negative thoughts is like hitting the plastic moles in What-A-Mole. So, how do you untangle this mess of unhappy inner quarrels?

Here’s a secret for the ages: you don’t have to believe in your own thoughts.

Your thoughts are just thoughts, words streaming through your head like the crawl at the bottom of a news channel. Let those thoughts be. They are not you. You don’t have to own them. They actually get quieter if you pay them no mind.

It’s a tiny thing to learn, but it’s helped me a great deal.

The I Am Behind Who I Am

i-am

Do you ever get the sensation there is someone with you, in the background of your life somewhere? When I was a kid, I had a feeling of something faint in the background. I didn’t think it was God, because I associated God with church on Sunday, and most of what I felt about church was shoes that hurt and an itchy coat.

That childhood sense of something with me was most pronounced when I was by myself out in the woods or fishing or catching snakes or frogs by a pond. Something that knew me was near me. I don’t remember that is was comforting or loving, just that it was there. I didn’t think much about it.

When puberty began, that sense completely vanished. I spend a few years out of sorts with my family and school. I was awkward and hopeless, completely on my own, lost and alienated. In my late teens, experiences with psychedelic drugs brought that feeling back, but only later did I connect it what that feeling I had as a kid. At the time, it seemed the presence I felt was part of the drug experience.

When I began to meditate a few years later, I would experience a sense of presence. The sensation was in my arms and chest, and it came with a feeling of peace and well being. Sometimes the feeling was just above my head and a few inches behind me, connecting to the back of my head.

I thought of it as the sensation of spirit, a sensation of connectedness. I didn’t think of it as consciousness or awareness, and I certainly didn’t think of it as part of myself. Actually, I still don’t.

Then I ended up in the hospital – long story – where I was put into a coma for three weeks. I emerged from the coma with delusions – common when emerging from a sustained coma. The delusions are marked with vividness. Only later did I learn they were delusions. At the time they were exactly like real life.

As I came out of the delusions and began to get my “self” back, I had the sensation of something else looking out through my eyes. The feeling wasn’t alarming; it seemed natural. Everything was so crazy during that time, it was just another part of my bizarre recovery. I had to learn how to eat and walk again – those seemed to be the more pressing issues.

Yet that sense of something looking out through my eyes didn’t subside as things slowly returned to some sort of “normal.” The sensation has not left to this day, many years later. Something is looking out through my eyes. Some of the sensation is exactly like meditation, with a warm buzz in my chest and arms and a sense of well being and peace.

At any time, I can bring it into my awareness, in traffic, during moments of anxiety. It almost always calms me. I suspect that what I’m experiencing is the awareness of the larger “I Am” behind or beyond the self. If I were to choose one word for it, it would be “awareness.” Whatever that means. There is an awareness with me that seems to be looking out my eyes.

I believe it’s the same thing I experience as a kid in the woods, the same thing I experienced during psychedelic experiences and during meditation. Only now, it is much more pronounced. I can’t explain it, but it has become the centering focus of being alive.

This Day I’m Thankful for. . .

This day I am thankful for

The taste of water fresh from the sky,

The sound of the moonrise,

The crisp rocks of the Sandia Mountains,

My dog’s eyes when she wants a walk,

Bare feet on the carpet,

The absence of mail,

The first taste of coffee, and the second,

My son talking through the night,

My friend showing up unexpected while I’m working,

The smell of rotting apples on the dirt,

A spoon I’ve used for decades,

Everyone who is reading this,

Words,

Black type on a white screen,

The presence behind my mind that writes,

The feeling in my arms when that presence is in my chest,

Breath,

Each story in an AA room,

Someone’s whisper,

The young woman minister when she tears up,

The pain of peppers,

My bed in the afternoon,

The smell of fall’s first heating,

The nativity scene carved in a gourd, a gift from my ex-wife who signed it, “to my husband,”

The touch of the uterine lining my child grew in,

My Harris tweed jacket,

Each day I’m alive.

Your Bloom Opens the World

When you awoke this time, something new looked outward through your eyes. You have not seen this world before. This awareness has not yet become familiar. You count the stars to make sure you are home. And you are home, even though the stars look different. This is a new home. The decay around the edges is ripe now, offering the green-chile scent of a rich harvest.

The language is the same – families, pairings in love, the cycle of newborns, the enemies over the hill, the endless insistence that this is the one true reality. It goes into the bone and sticks. It drives us into the ground.

But you can see now. You can see through your self into the world as it connects back. It bends to your view, and you bend back to let the whole thing inside. Worlds upon worlds build up and break through. You are a moment in the tension that is giving way.

The touch of your finger to your thumb holds eternity. You live in the soft buzz of that warmth. No love can go further – this is the love that opens skin. Above you there is so much more, and you’ve anticipated every step – like cool water and the healing of a long winter.

You are at one here. You have found a way to touch the world. The suffering may not be gone, but it is no longer yours. It belongs to the years that are drifting backwards. Out here in the sun, everything is revealed – your past is reconciled, and your future is rushing into the present.

You have never been so present.

The Accidental Mystic

For many years, I followed the New Thought beliefs at Unity and Religious Science meetings. I attended Self Realization Fellowship. At all of them, I enjoyed the meditation and the message. I believed strongly in the teachings and became involved in these groups, including board activity and teaching the kids. I studied New Thought literature and read books by sympathetic thinkers such as Emmet Fox. When our minister was out of town, I often conducted services.

This involvement had a positive effect on my life. But it took a health crisis to really connect with spirit.

I woke up from a three-week coma a couple years back, and the person who woke was different from the person who entered the coma. When I woke up, something else was looking out through my eyes. Something larger than the little me.

As I recovered, learned how to walk again, and resumed my life, the sensation or presence didn’t go away.

In trying to understand what was happening, I read further than deeper. I now think that what I’ve experienced is what is often called oneness or non-duality. I’m the same person walking around, working, and interacting with family and friends. My personality is generally the same, but there is a presence that is with me all the time, something positive that seems to neutralize negative feelings. Anger and frustration are gone. And while humor is still part of my life, the cynical side of humor is absent.

Reading about spirituality is quite different now that I’m trying to understand what’s happening to me rather than trying to make something spiritual happen. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the decades of spiritual study helped bring about this positive change. Don’t know. But the world – which once seemed inhospitable – now seems beautiful.

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

When we have a spiritual awakening, it’s natural to ask the question: How do I live now? How does this change my life? Does the internal breakthrough come with external responsibilities?

The simple answer is no, nothing has changed.

The more complicated answer is yes, everything has changed.

The title of this blog comes from William Butler Yeats. In his own spiritual development, it became clear to him that great dreams come with responsibilities. Your response to the world will change as your view of the world evolves. This works both ways. Slip into a dark place, and you will see an unforgiving world that is hurtful. Your actions will follow: hurt people hurt people.

But when your spiritual life expands, you see more and you will begin to understand you are part of everything and everything is part of you. As the small and ever-pressuring self begins to break apart, you will see that your presence itself begins to have a healing effect on those around you.

Dark, constricted vision produces after itself. Light likewise, produces light. As you develop spiritually, you will automatically pull away from hurtful behavior as from a hot fire. You will gravitate toward healing behavior because it is nourishing and feels right.

Detachment from worldly pressures does not mean separation from others. Quite the opposite. It means freedom to do what is lovingly needed. In the dream of a greater, more spiritual existence, you will see where you can be helpful, and it will be your pleasure to serve.

You will see the thorn in the other’s palm, and you will remove it – not because you have new strength to take up this weighty task, but because you will see that it is so easy to do.

Spirit Looking Through My Eyes

As time passes it becomes clear that I am seeing the world as spirit. The “me” looking out through my eyes has changed.

For many years, I invested myself in a world that didn’t seem like spirit at all. I tried to fit into the world, to make my way, to find love and love others, to be a good partner, a caring dad, to learn the workings of the world and help where I could. Those intentions were fine. I cherished them.

But the insecurity of falling short over and over was unbearable. And we cannot help but fall short.

The insecurity brought dread and self-loathing. I tried to sooth those painful feelings with alcohol. It worked for a while, but alcohol only works for a while. Then it quits working. After that, it produces its own dread and self-loathing.

I tried to wrestle peace out of the darkness of a world without spirit. A fool’s errand. There is no peace in darkness. I fell further and further behind in my goal of being a decent person.

Thank heavens a crash came. The crash was inevitable. It was my health. And surprisingly, it came with an overwhelming feeling of relief and a final, “OK, I give up.”

Surrender was all I had left, but I had no idea that surrender was a door, the only door. My surrender was followed quickly by healing. It was surrender and healing, over and over, day after day.

Once I was back on my feet – a bit wobbly – it was clear I had become a different creature. Something else was looking out through my eyes. And the world I saw had become a spiritual place. Now I know that it had been spiritual all along. My eyes were finally seeing the truth.

A friend observed that my spiritual awakening was not intentional. Indeed it was not. It came through a life-threatening health crisis. Nor can I credit myself for my recovery. Recovery came through medical science and sustained sobriety. I can’t even credit myself for the sobriety. When I awoke into this new world, all desire for mind-altering substances was gone.

So I can’t say follow my path. Please don’t. But I can say, the world is a spiritual place to the eyes that look out through me to the world. It’s a spiritual place for you as well.

I Am What I Think

 

We are what we think. This idea goes back centuries. It has been used to encourage people to put spirit first; it has been used as a way to get ahead in business. Here are some quotes about how our thinking affects our reality:

  • Proverbs 23:7: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
  • Henry Ford: If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
  • Buddha: We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
  • Albert Einstein: The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
  • Earl Nightingale: You become what you think about all day long.

Some have been skeptical about the power of thought. Lao Tzu held an interesting view: “Stop thinking, and end your problems.”

Some spiritual teachers warn about the tricks and trapdoors that come with too much intellectualization. A friend recently said, “Don’t trust the intellect except as it comes from the heart.

My favorite quote about the power of thought comes from “The Course in Miracles” on the subject of vision and wholeness. You’ll find it in Lesson 56, paragraph 27.

“Recognizing that what I see reflects what I think I am, I realize that vision is my greatest need. The world I see attests to the fearful nature of the self image I have made.  If I would remember who I am, it is essential that I let this image of myself go. As it is replaced by truth, vision will surely be given me. And with this vision, I will look upon the world and on myself with charity and love.”

That’s clear. Let go of the fearful ego and its troubled thoughts. Let your true nature and true vision look out on the world with love and compassion. The Christ/Krishna/Buddha within you looks out on the world with love. If you allow that vision to be yours, you will live in peace. Spirit is present within us all. It is infinite and eternal. Its influence on our lives depends on how much of our self we’re willing to surrender to its light.

Let the light inside cleanse your thoughts of fear. You’ll then see the world as it truly is – a reflection of the spirit light within.