The awakening is a wave traveling miles of ocean to reach your shore. It was born to greet you, long on the days of near despair. It comes to remind you that life is inexhaustible. A deep sigh that empties your lungs.
This is the beach where children collect sea glass and soft driftwood that toss in the sand and foam. This is your life now, surprised by how much is left. You thought the sand was running out, but it was brimming with colors that had not yet announced themselves.
This new land has turned its love to you. These are not the skies of your youth, with their bland promise and abrupt discouragement. These are not the streets that seemed to reject you in their very essence. You never thought your skin could be accepted by the world, so you hid your skin away.
Can this possibly be that same world? You see that it is now made of new substance, warm to the touch. You can taste it from a distance; you can taste it on your lips. It sings a sustained nourishment.
The awakening wave has moved back out to sea, but you have been touched by a love and cannot turn dark. Darkness has lost its grip and dissipated. Light now the fabric of your being.
When night comes, the sky goes purple and the woods come to life. You are welcome here finally, right in the middle of your life. Even your bones feel the deep hum. Stand tall into this new air. You are everything the world has hoped.
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.
When the struggle comes to an end, the suffering lifts. You are not who you thought you were. You thought you were caught here in the world. You thought the world had dominion over you. You believed there was such a thing as dominion.
The sky is more blue than you ever thought possible. Blue like a taste. Blue like a thin film you can walk through.
You thought you were close to solving the problem, but the problem is not here. There were so many answers that seemed to be surrounding you, but they have flown off like feathers, delicate and light. They don’t need you today.
You thought you were something. You thought you were nothing. You found that everything is not enough. You found that nothing is too hard to bear. Then you watched your self float off like shiny dust.
There is a song that has been singing you for a thousand years. Now that your self is drifting, you can hear it once again. It is awake in the taste of the air that turns blue and disappears.
Night and day merge as night grows darker and the day vanishes. You were only here for a moment, but it lasted centuries.
You have spent your entire life in the now and you have everything to show for it. Everything can fit in the now. Nothing can fit anywhere else.
Soon you will lose the sense of falling. You will smell the damp leaves that warm and become your nourishment – until you need no nourishment. You will fill up and disappear.
My God it’s great to be alive.
We tend to spend the whole day chasing our brains. The brain has a to-do list that’s a mile long. Every time you scratch off a completed item – or give up on an item when you realize you’ll never get it done – a new items appear at the bottom of the list.
Then we have to go to the trouble of prioritizing. Item number 14 needs to move up to item one by Tuesday. Suddenly item five has become an crisis. So you do number five at the same time you’re doing item one. Now you’re multi-tasking. And the horror of multi-tasking is that there’s no such thing. You can alternate back and forth between two tasks, but even the most buzzing brain can’t focus on two things simultaneously.
This is how we live our lives. The brain just loves this busyness. And when it’s time to take a break from tasks, we put our brain on the treadmill of media where our thoughts spin endlessly on the hamster wheel of psychic energy. Even sleep doesn’t bring rest as our dreams spin wild.
OK, time to go back to Paul Simon’s lyric: “Slow down you move to fast. You gotta make the moment last.”
There is a moment, and it lasts forever. It’s where your true life takes place. You don’t have to go on vacation or off to the mountains to find peace. Peace exists within you. You are peace. The brain is not you, no matter how much it insists it is.
Let the brain rage on. You can’t stop it. But you can slow down your breathing and realize You Are Here Now. And the You Here Now is peace itself. Nothing fancy. The You Hear Now is everything, and no noisy brain can disturb its eternal peace.
We talk about spiritual experiences, we talk about spiritual awakening, and we talk about the differences between spiritual experiences and a spiritual awakening. We talk about different forms of meditation, and we talk about non-duality and oneness and how it’s impossible to talk about non-duality and oneness without revealing hidden tells of separateness and duality.
We all have our little takes on all the different terms of spirituality.
We think we know, but we don’t know what we don’t know. Or, we think we don’t know, but we actually know and just don’t know we know.
There’s nothing like spiritual confusion over the cornucopia spiritual terms.
In the end, it’s all spiritual. While it seems we can’t help but stumble, in reality we can’t help but find oneness – because oneness is all we have. Oneness is all there is.
Let the battles rage over New Age versus New Thought, Lao Tzu versus Confucius, Hindu versus Zen, The Grateful Dead versus the Moody Blues, Alan Ginsberg versus Ram Das, Richard Alpert versus Timothy Leary.
In the end, John Lennon said it best: I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. Coo coo ca choo.
Most creative people have experienced the sensation that they were being used as a tool by something outside themselves. So many times I’ve heard the exclamation, “Whoa, where did that come from?” Whether it’s a piece of writing, music or visual art, some of the effort seems to comes from another place.
As a writer I’ve experienced the sensation countless times. In prose, it can come in the form of seeing insights on the paper that I didn’t know I had. In poetry, whole portions, sometimes the entire poem will show up seemingly out of nowhere. The phenomenon is often called inspiration.
I went through a year-long period where I tried to conjure that flow daily. I would lie in bed with a pencil and a pad of paper and try writing with no idea what might show up. Sometimes something showed up, sometimes nothing showed up, but the meditative process was very satisfying.
As I moved forward in spirituality, I began to gain a different understanding of the phenomenon that is so common in creativity. Maybe the work wasn’t coming from somewhere else. Maybe it was coming from the true self, the connected self. Maybe the “other” was the self holding the pencil in hopes of something showing up.
The uninspired thinker – the me, the ego – is the really the strange part of the equation, not the inspiration. The inspiration is what’s natural, what’s true, what’s real, and what lasts. The thinking me, the ego me, will go away at some point, leaving only the connected self, the inspired self that knows exactly what needs to be said and exactly how to say it.
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.