The Taste of Sky

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.

Who’s Speaking through Me?

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.

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.

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.

 

 

Fear Was the Problem

Fear was my biggest problem. I had no idea.

I didn’t know anger was fear. I thought my anger was justified. I didn’t like being angry, but I thought I couldn’t help it. It was a natural response to a broken world and its broken people.

I didn’t know anxiety was fear. I thought my circumstances warranted anxiety. I thought the solution was to change the circumstances. The circumstances were impossible to change.

I didn’t know resentment was fear. I thought my feelings of resentment were justified. My resentments extended back many years. They produced anger, sadness, and discomfort. I was stuck with them.

I didn’t know jealousy was fear. I thought my jealousy was caused by others.

I didn’t know sadness was fear. How could sadness be fear?

The negative feelings were with me for years. I thought they were a permanent part of me and intrinsic to all life. I prayed that the negative feelings would not manifest into illness. They felt like illness. They also produced negative behavior. I worked hard to separate my behavior from my feelings. I didn’t want to behave poorly just because I felt poorly. But I did.

I tried to be positive, but I worried I was simply putting a bright blanket of untruthfulness over the darkness. Wasn’t it better just to accept the negative? I didn’t want to be phony. I took pride in my ability to face the inky black void.

All the time, I was surrounded by light. I couldn’t see it. I thought this dark world around me was the entire world. But my dark world was a delusion. I was the problem. Remove that dark me, and the world goes light. So I removed the dark me.

Who Is Here You Are Now

I know that title here looks like it has a typo in it. Yet the awkward wording is intentional. What does it mean? I’m not sure. But I know one thing: our language does not lend itself to easily speaking or writing about deep spirituality, or what is referred to as nonduality.

Nonduality essentially means oneness. If there is oneness, there is not a subject and an object.

Alan Watts was the first teacher I read who questioned whether you can discuss nonduality in written or spoken English. Toward the end of the “The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,” Watts concedes he can’t adequately describe nonduality because our object/subject language will not accommodate it. Many poets have tried to wrestle deeper meaning from English by defying conventional syntax.

The idea is to break syntax to open a hole in the language large enough for spirit to enter. Gertrude Stein said, “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Robert Duncan also said it with the line: “There’s nothing inside but the inside inside.” Or anything by John Ashbery, such as this: “The music brought us what it seemed we had long desired, but in a form so rarefied there was no emptiness of sensation.”

Perhaps you could defy our language this way:

You not you who you are not here where you are not now.

Or this question:

We not I who we are not here – are we you not now as we are you here?

Maybe it’s nonsense. Maybe it’s an opening to nonduality speech.

You can sound it out, and it makes as much sense as looking at a photo of yourself and saying, “This is not me” and being correct (thanks Zak).

To crack open the language is to crack open the thinking. And if thought is the barrier to true vision, then the language needs to be cracked open.