I Don’t Mind What Happens

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When you begin to see life without fear, frightening things become acceptable. Or so it may seem.

At the same time, we may feel called upon to act in response to a world that is out of balance, whether it’s someone in trouble or larger harmful developments.

This world matters even if we are convinced our experience in this world will dissolve into oneness.

It’s a spiritual fantasy to believe that nothing matters, that the world before us is not real. The world is not real is the same way as the eternal inside inside, yet it functions as real in our spiritual journey.

In the late 1970s, Krishnamurti famously asked an audience whether they wanted “to know his secret.” Audience members reportedly leaned forward in anticipation. Krishnamurti quietly said, “You see, I don’t mind what happens.”

It’s one of my favorite quotes.

Another quote I love comes from Angela Davis, and it seems to say the exact opposite:

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

This twist on the Serenity Prayer is a commitment to act in the world.

These two ideas live inside me comfortably, though it took a few years to understand they are not in conflict.

We offer ourselves to the presence within. We ask for guidance, and we ask to be useful. “Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will.” And we surrender the outcome.

We will be okay. The world will be okay. Whatever happens. And we give ourselves over to the guidance to do what we can do.

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Watch The World Come Home

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When we get these feelings of spiritual connectedness, when it seems we are one with all that’s around us, even at one with our own lives, maybe we’re seeing a crack into the next world. Or the in-between world where spirit breathes for a moment before we enter a new earth with new skin.

Or maybe the world is spiritual in its essence and the connectedness is a brief view of what is actually true.

We wake up with needs, we wake up with pain, we wake up and choose to see the connectedness behind the pain and need. We wake up and see the need and pain of others and our own troubles subside. We attend to the needs and pain of others and the connectedness seeps in and the needs and pain drift away.

And what world is here before us?

Trees and houses and moons and clouds and dogs and wind and water. Is our pain among these?

Is our connectedness elsewhere or is it mixed into the world before us? Is our connectedness taste and skin and smells and the weight of air? Is our connectedness relief from this world, a reminder that our mammal life is just a moment along a curve of outrageous beauty?

For now, I am here among so many people, alive in the exquisite presence of love that doesn’t even know it’s love.

The Secret of the Voice in Your Head

 

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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.

Truth Is an Arrow

Keeping to a spiritual path is not as easy as it looks. Meditation, staying in the now, keeping mindful, reading the latest “it” book, reading one of your past “it” books that got you started into all of this. The list doesn’t seem taxing. Yet it can be surprisingly difficult to remain on a clear spiritual path.

On the song, “When He Returns,” from the album, Slow Train Coming, Bob Dylan sings, “Truth is an arrow, and the gate is narrow that is passes through.” The entire album is Born Again Christian spirituality, but the idea of truth as an arrow and the gate is passes through being narrow applies to any spirituality.

I can fall asleep spiritually very easily, and when I fall asleep, the arrow is gone. When I turn my attention back to my spirituality, it is there waiting. It goes nowhere. I’m the one who goes away. At times, I had nodded off for years.

When I’m not paying attention to my spirituality, my life doesn’t go very well. When I’m paying attention, things are fine in my life – most of all my life isn’t really my life any more. The sense of “me” diminishes and the world grows large. I disappear into the arrow. And the view from the arrow shows that everything is cared for.

Getting back to my spirituality is not a climb, it’s a fall. A release and letting go.

The truth is an arrow and the gate is narrow that it passes through. Beyond that lies nothing. Beyond that lies everything.

This Little Light of Mine

“Some of my friends don’t know who they belong to. Some can’t get a single thing to work inside,” lyrics by Gram Parson, from “A Song for You.”

I spent years in the condition Gram Parsons describes in the song lyric. I had no idea who I belonged to. I seemed to be isolated in the universe. I would sometimes have a fleeting feeling I was part of something larger than myself,  but it was usually an odd inarticulate sense. It was certainly not a feeling or a sensation I could call up for support or comfort.

I had great difficulty trying to get anything to work inside. I had a head full of noise – insecurities, uncertainties, fear. That didn’t stop me from trying to accomplish things – a writing career followed by successful efforts to launch and grow a publishing company. From the outside, my life probably looked orderly and deliberate. In reality my life was a whirl of dashing from one thing to another – putting out some fires, starting others.

At some point during adulthood, we all reach a point when life just doesn’t work any longer. When we get to this point, we usually realize life hasn’t been working for a long time. Even if we do everything right – whatever that means to us – things just stop working inside.

If we have half a brain and a little bit of guts, we throw up our hands and say, “Wait, just wait! I want off this crazy train.” Tom Waits described that feeling of desperation well in the song, “Fumblin’ with the Blues.” He sang, “Two dead ends and you still got to choose.” That’s when it’s time to change your life.

Some turn to alcohol or drugs. Some turn to therapy. Some turn to spirituality. I tried all three. What worked was the therapy and spirituality. Slowly I began to become aware there was a tiny light inside. I began to gain some new enthusiasm for life. I loved singing the words, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

At the time, I didn’t really understand that tiny light. I thought it was mine, and I thought it would only show up intermittently. When I sensed it, I would feel wonderful warmth and encouragement. Inevitably, though, things inside would go dark again and the noise in my head – the fears and insecurities – would return.

Real change in my life began as I came to learn that the tiny spec of light wasn’t mine at all, but something larger. And it wasn’t distant and intermittent. It was constant and inextinguishable. I came to realize the light was spirit and it was always in me. The light wasn’t tiny at all; it was everything. What was tiny was my ability to perceive it, my ability to truly believe in it, my ability to call it forth into my life.

The noise doesn’t go away when you come to believe in the infinite light within. Fear doesn’t go away. But it becomes less important. You notice the insecurities and anxieties, but you let them go. They’re the cage-rattling of the ego. You learn that the noise doesn’t have to threaten the truth, and the fear doesn’t have to disrupt your life.

If you focus on the light inside it grows until you are aware of it most of the time. You come to realize whatever truth we find in this world resides there. The light will guide you. The fears and insecurities that were once vicious monsters become mere gnats that are easily swatted away. That’s when you truly know who you belong to,  and that’s when things really begin to work inside.