Just to Be Here

Just to be here is all the reason. Just to be here is all of your breath. To be apparent and to be aware. Aware of just being here.

You have seen to it, and you have seen how. Just to be close to it. And then it envelops you.

For a long time you were not sure you were here. You thought you were someplace dangerous that repelled you. You were not fit for where you were, and you couldn’t find anywhere else. When you can’t find anywhere else, there is nowhere else.

You were here all along and didn’t know it.

When you awoke and found yourself here, your sails billowed with freshwater air; your ship finally came about. You pick the metaphor.

There is nowhere else to be but here, and you were here all along. You were here even when you were lost. For you have always been here.

There is nothing to say about it, and so I am saying nothing about it. There, I said nothing.

Yet everything is here, right here.

Just to be here is the reason. Just to be here is home. Just to be here is the escape from death. Here is where death has come to rest.

This is where you have come to rest. This is where you are revitalized. This is where you can find what you were searching for all this time, even when you didn’t know you were searching.

This is for you. This is where you meet your everyone. This is where you meet your self. This is where you bid your self farewell.

This is where the inside reacquaints itself with the inside. This is where you knew you were headed all these years. And now you are finally here.

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A Vacation from the Self

A vacation is a time of respite, recharging, and reflection – a time to shift from the laptop to the whitewater rapids. For my daughter and me, last week was a time to leave the gold-brown hills of New Mexico for the dripping green ponderosa pine and white-barked aspens of Colorado’s western slope. A road trip for dad and daughter.

Most of all, it was a vacation from the self.

The self owns the working week and the self runs the weekend. Needs, obligations, and commitments. Chores, connections, and meetings. This is how we live, this is how we serve, this is how we grow. This is our life as we take care of each other, serve the needs of those who need, and practice the reaching out again and again.

The self is the thread that runs through it all even when we’re unselfish. The energy is not mine, the energy flows through me. I’m the one who must put myself to the work, to call on the powers that I don’t possess, and direct them to the good at hand. Not my good, but the good at hand.

I’m the one who must caution all that is yearning to go haywire. As I put my shoulder to the work – with energy I’m able to muster from some place not me – I’m the one who wonders if it’s me that yearns for chaos and collapse even while I work to keep things steady.

And so, a vacation from the self. I’m with my daughter, but this week, I’m not dad. We’re equal beings in this astonishing world. We’re in the green, skin glistening with the morning mist of the high mountains, amazed we’re here at all, tossing stones into a glassy lake and listening to the crisp splash thunder across these granite hills.

Who Is the One Who Suffers?

A friend of mine was suffering – old wounds from childhood violence were opening. The pain she said was unbearable.

I told her I understand. I do understand. She was absorbed in the details, and in those details, what she experienced has never happened to anyone before. Nothing has happened to anyone before.

I understand that. I stayed in her presence and she stayed in her pain, not understanding how there can be so much pain.

I wanted to tell her, “You are not who you think you are.”

I wanted to say, “You are something else.”

I wanted to say, “You are the one who sees the one who suffers.”

I wanted to say, “You are not the one who suffers.”

I decided to not want.

I stayed in her presence, and her pain began to subside. The pain will return, perhaps less strong if she is willing to stay in the pain and feel it again. But who knows, maybe stronger.

I wanted to tell her, “The pain is not yours. It’s just pain.”

I decided to not want.

I am not the one who wants. I am not the one who decides.

The pain is hers, and the pain is mine, and the pain is alive in the one who suffers.

She is not the one who suffers, and I am not the one who wants or decides.

The pain is an instant, the pain is an endless road, the pain is a memory of a person who once lived but lives no longer. The pain is the entire world, and the world is nothing.

 

 

Nothing Exists But the Now

What time is it? It’s now. What times is it now? It’s still now. How about now?

Everything is now. Life seems linear. We’re young and then we’re older, and then we’re older yet. Or so it seems. That’s the story we live by. But in reality, the past doesn’t exist and the future doesn’t exist.

I’ve often thought our lives may be like the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. In the tale, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. He continually shifts from one moment in his life to another with no apparent reason. One day he’s a boy, then he finds himself in mid-life, and then he’s a child.

Vonnegut may have been on to something about how we actually live our lives – in a scattershot of time rather than a linear progression. Yesterday, I may have been five. Today I’m in mid-life. The only continuity is now. Right here, now.

When I was a teenager – which may have been yesterday – a friend challenged the notion that we die. He was unconvinced. I said, “Of course we die.”

He shook his head and asked, “Have you died?”

I replied, “Not yet.”

He said, “Then how do you know you’re going to die? You think you’re going to die because people told you you’re going to die, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“How do they know you’re going to die?”

“Everybody dies,” I replied.

He laughed. “That’s just what you’ve been told, but you haven’t died. So you don’t know?”

At the time I thought it was a crazy conversation. Yet it haunted me. Now it doesn’t haunt me because I’ve come to see what he meant. All I’ve known is a constant now. I believe in the now, and what’s there to believe in anything else?

 

They Just Can’t Kill the Beast

If you quit feeding your beast, it will die. What’s the beast in your life? Fear, anger, sorrow, jealousy, anxiety, grief, depression. I could go on, but it comes down to fear in one form or another. It’s not only in your thoughts, it’s in your blood, it’s in your nervous system. We’re wired with fear, and if it’s fed, it kills us.

It’s a curse, passed on from generation to generation. We try to calm its ragged edges with alcohol, drugs, food, or relationships, but in the words of the Eagles’ song, “They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.”

This beast ruins the lives of those who feed it – the raging parent, the withdrawn and brooding child, the jealous lover, the resentful spouse, the conquering army. All of this is the beast of fear feeding on wounds that won’t heal.

The only antidote to the fear that surrounds us is not-fear. Some call it love. I’m not sure what love is, but I know what not-fear is. It’s well-being, it’s deep breath, it’s a wide open sky, it’s a bright and refreshed world each day we wake.

Courage isn’t the antidote. Courage is the ability, usually brief, to behave in a healthy, caring manner even while surrounded by and encompassed in fear. The antidote is not-fear, and we find this when we quit feeding the beast, for it feeds on us. We believe we will die if we’re separated from the beast, when it reality, it’s killing us.

We learn to quit feeding the beast by going within. When we go within, we go outside ourselves and find a world free from the beast, larger than the beast, a world in which the beast has never existed and never can exist. It’s not an escape, it’s a coming home.

How Does a Spiritual Awakening Help You?

How does a spiritual awakening change your life? You have the same personality, the same body, the same family and friends. At first, everything is the same. Yet when your spiritual awakening comes, everything changes.

You see that you are one with everything around you. You are not separate. That understanding takes away your fear. Maybe not all at once, but bit by bit, your fear begins to stop running your life. You come to realize you have nothing to fear. It’s not that you gain courage. It’s simply that fear has become irrelevant.

You come to see that you have been afraid most of your life. Your reactions, your responses, your decisions have all been based on fear, based on the belief that you are threatened, that you can lose everything that matters, and that you will die.

Lift that fear and you see that nothing that matters can be taken away. You see there is no such thing as death. You are free now. It doesn’t matter who loves you or who doesn’t love you. You suddenly have no argument with anyone – you have no argument with life.

Everything slows down. For perhaps the first time, you can catch your breath. The cloud of cares and worry begins to dissipate. You are lighter now, free of resentments and free of anger.

Your decisions are no longer based on what you need – they are based on kindness and how you can serve. This detachment doesn’t mean you don’t care. You care more for this world than you ever have. Never before have you really seen its beauty. In this caring, you become a caretaker.

You don’t renounce the world; you embrace the world, for the world and you are one.

You Are the Guru You Need

Your spirituality is within. You already have all need to know and everything you need to learn. Your spiritual journey is to the inside. Right this very moment, you are where you need to be. You just have to realize it.

Who is your guide on this journey to yourself? You are. Who shows you where to turn when you’re lost in the dark woods? You will show yourself the way.

How far must you travel? You are already at your destination.

That’s easy to say, but how do teach yourself the way? It’s simple and difficult. You have to be willing and open. Plus, you have to be diligent in exposing yourself to teachings that prompt the recollection of oneness.

The key to willingness is nonresistance. We become resistant when we feel threatened, and without spiritual bearings, we feel threatened most of the time. That’s an illusion that closes down our ability to stay open and willing.

A truck barreling down the freeway is a threat if you cross its path. But a perceived slight in a social situation is not. Yet even a minor slight may close you down with reaction and offense. Then you lose connection with the source within. These soul cut-offs happen all day long, and they can keep us perpetually locked up. Willingness and acceptance are the tools to stay openm open.

Exposing yourself to spiritual teachings, readings, workshops, and more importantly, discussions with friends, will open you up to the source of the oneness within. Seek this exposure. The teachers and the people you meet in spiritual context don’t have something you don’t have, but they will prompt you to yourself.

That’s all you need for a grand spiritual journey. Willingness and spiritual exposure. They will lead you to the oneness within, and that’s everything.