Safe for Anyone?

Why not be content with a slice of life? Why is a moment not a sufficient feast?

Experience has taught me the moment is all I have, and it is more than enough. Yet, my ego remains suspicious. It believes there is more.

Byron Katie said, “when you want nothing from anyone else, you’re safe for anyone to be with, including yourself.”

Michael A Singer wrote that when we understand the world is merely something of which to be aware, then “the world will let us be who we are.”

In other words, go groundless, as Pema Chödrön calls it. Trust in myself and get comfortable with “getting tossed around with right and wrong.” Sit down in the “seat of self” (Singer).

I do manage to do that, from time to time, and when I do, my view of the world is completely changed. Whether in or out of the meditative state, in these moments I am who I am, and the world responds in kind.

It’s not pure, this awareness, just an evenness of mind. The banquet laid before me is more than I could ever imagine. This state stays until I try to hold onto it. The mere attempt at attachment and it evaporates.

My mind returns to ping-pong between the future and past regarding this and that. It whirs, images blur. What was clear and calm is chaos. And I begin to want, again.

Trusting in groundlessness seems impossible, yet how can I not?

Experience has taught me there is a point of balance in each day, no matter how pervasive the impossible. It is mine to find the fulcrum and respond with adjustments.

I have a greater appreciation of the unique, accepting that no day ever repeats. I’m grateful for that. Somehow, it lessens my fear that I am not enough.

With that confidence, I sit in the seat of self and open my laptop to Facebook for uniqueness in both the moment and in human beings.

We are born to difference, related to the stars by dust.

Some of the best Facebook threads are missed by those who comment without regard for reading. Often, that’s a source of irritation, resulting in much asserting of who is lacking. Soon, the original context is completely lost. So many are found wanting, and some demand it.

Social media context is easily misread yet what better opportunity to practice awareness, to get comfortable with “tossing around right and wrong.” It seems impossible, increasingly.

Sometimes, silence is the point of balance in my social media moments. The seat of self offers observation– allowing me to read—to listen hard for the tone. Selecting an emoji signals that I heard.

Sometimes, that is all I have.

 

Maintaining Moderation Requires Graceful Shifting

For me, moderation is elusive. I struggle for balance—the measure of moderation—at times, my struggling is painful.  When I become aware of pain, however, is when I cease suffering from it. I aim for even on the day I have rather than going in search of the day I want.

[When] balance comes of its own accord…

[it] has tremendous beauty and grace.

You have not forced it, it has simply come.

By moving gracefully to the left,

to the right, in the middle,

slowly a balance comes to you

because you remain so unidentified.

~Osho~

Osho’s words remind me of Michael Singer’s observer: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind. You are the one who hears it” (The Untethered Soul).

I find his image of the observer quite helpful in finding the balance in any moment but especially in those where I am on the edge of right or dropping off far left.  As the observer, I have an immediate distance and thus, a broader perspective much like what happens in writing.

The thoughts are in my mind and with my fingers on the keyboard I search for consonants and vowels to create a physical representation of the thought.

The distance between the ever evolving thought and its concrete representation—the word(s)—moves me closer to the center. I am not identifying with the left or the right as I move to the center–not always with grace, I admit.

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That may be the overall process of moderation—each of us has our unique way with it—and at one time or another, we struggle with it. Why? We have to let go of what we have to receive what we are given. To me, that is the grace of moderation.

It means keeping the “big picture” in mind.  Whether we are discussing diet, climate change, or the world future generations will inherit. And that’s difficult to do. In terms of global issues, the big picture now looming is an ominous one.

In seeking a balance for a better world—finding moderation—we have to change the way we live, maybe even who we are. Balance—the measure of moderation—is a constant shift, an adjustment to the world as it currently exists. That will determine the world that is yet to come.

Often, the task feels overwhelming, especially if we anticipate a future we cannot know or gnash our teeth over a past that cannot be changed. All we have is the moment to gracefully move a little left or right to maintain our balance.

We begin with observing the life we know best–our own—ever aware of doing no harm to no thing, to no one. Then, we move gracefully to the right or to the left as life comes at us only to leave us. And when we leave, ultimately, both left and right are increased rather than diminished.

We are all Home

To sit within ourselves is to be at home. Our home is full of emotional energy continuously streaming through our body, the structure we rely on for the experience of being human. All we have to do is sit down.

The more you are willing to just let the world be something you’re aware of, the more it will let you be who you are….

Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul)

Michael Singer introduced me to the “seat of self” as he calls the center of consciousness that is within us all. It is from here that the “great mystery begins once you take that seat deep within” (Singer). We become aware of being aware of the world around us, and we do it from the safety and comfort of home.

Peace is available to us in every moment. We don’t have to go anywhere.

white-heron-110311Some settings may seem more peaceful than others but I find it quite powerful that peace is always available to me if I will just sit down in the seat with my name on it. Everyone has one. We are all home.

A little over twenty years ago, Willie Baronet began his “We Are All Homeless” campaign. He wanted to ease his own discomfort in seeing homeless people. In doing so, he has provided comfort to thousands of others.

Baronet decided to purchase signs from homeless people, offering anywhere from $10-$20 per sign, but that was not what eased his discomfort nor increased his awareness of himself and the world around him.

The purchase was the way to start a conversation with each homeless person who sold him a sign. The conversations continue as his collection of signs grows. It has become a wall of awareness about homelessness and the human story.

Each sign is a line in the story of the multi-dimensional person who created it. Each sign is a single thread in the tapestry of humanity. The stories run the gamut of what it is to be human, sometimes desperate and other times, simply inspirational.

We all are homeless until we come home. Not all who carry signs believe home is a physical shelter as Baronet discovered. Many are home, living in the peace of an open heart. They are always home whether they reside in subtropical peninsulas, high plains deserts or on city streets.

But do not ask me where I am going,

As I travel in this limitless world,

Where every step I take is my home.

Dogen

If we can bring ourselves to sit down in the home we always have—our seat of self—and be comfortable with all that we are and are not, we will find ourselves looking through a lens of equanimity and compassion at the world around us.

Oh the stories we will tell, the stories we will hear.

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Ego Pop-Ups: Drama on Demand

If we listen only to our ego, we are never enough and never will be.  The essence of ego is to chatter constantly for that is how it thrives. Ego is not concerned with what choice we make ultimately for as soon as we make a decision, ego considers the choice not chosen and cites consequence after consequence.

The chatter is deafening at times yet it is ego’s duplicity that does it in for at some point, we realize we are caught up in ego’s never ending storyline. Ego is like the pop-ups on our computer screens—drama on demand—our choice is whether to allow or to block.

As humans, our ego pop-up blocker is found in joy, love, gratitude, and compassion where ego dare not tread for within these emotions, we are always enough. There is no need for drama.

Compassion, love, joy and gratitude remind us to be thoughtful in our speech, not to take things personally, to stay present in what we do so we make no assumptions about anyone or anything for when we are mindful, we really are doing the best we can.

Still, some days it seems as if all we ever do is deal with our ego pop-ups. Ego seems to know our vulnerabilities better than we do no matter how hard we try to remain present.  Why is that?
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Michael Singer says that “reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind….”  Often, we just avoid those places where ego pop-ups abound or we run rather than facing what is occurring. Other times, rather than blocking the emotional pop-up, we stay with its storyline for it is a drama we know.

It is not for us to cling to our ego drama nor to suppress it. It is for us to acknowledge our ego’s existence:

Like two golden birds perched on the selfsame tree, intimate friends, the ego and the Self dwell in the same body. The former eats the sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life, while the latter looks on in detachment. Mundaka Upanishad

We are not our ego but we are the one who experiences emotions; we are the one who hears constant chatter. When we allow our ego to block us to our true self, we are not enough. Continuously, we surf screen after screen searching for freedom from our ego. Yet, exist with ego we must.

We are partners with our ego, one emotional pop-up after another. If we view our emotions as passing thoughts, momentary screenshots, we ground ourselves in the eternity that is the life force.

Ours is the compassionate response, grateful for the experience of being, of knowing love and joy.  We live as we breathe, inhaling each moment so that we may let it go. We are alive, and it is enough.

Thursday Tidbits: Fearlessness and Faucets

Learning fearlessness is like applying just the right amount of pressure to the handle of a leaky faucet spout, trial and error. All things (and people) wear out, which may just be the root of all fear as well as the source of fearlessness.

Being fearless is experiencing the moment fully, regardless. We are told to face our fears for they are all we have to fear (Franklin Roosevelt), or we can consider the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay.”

Once again, I hear the Cherokee story about attending my two inner wolves, dark and light. In order for the light to break Faucet 0213through, I must see into the dark, attend it, which is not the same as appeasing it. Of late, my inner wolves have been as insistent as the drip of my faucet, all awaiting attention.

The longer I live the more I believe the key to fear is acknowledging that it never goes away—it lives within the dark wolf—and requires a lifetime of attention. One remains a fearless witness to one’s life:

“When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile” (Fearlessness, Thich Nhat Hanh).

As in Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, one does not engage the fear by creating a future scenario or by visiting a past moment and tweaking it a bit—no to both. The moment is the only reality there ever is, and if one works with and faces that reality, then one’s life unfolds before one’s eyes, fearlessly.

That is the heart of my practice these days: transforming my fears so that they are attended to, rather like the persistent drip of my aged faucet with its spout and base leaks. I am mindful of the pressure I apply to its worn handle. It has a bit more time left and is worth my attention.

 “Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Tomas at Heartflow 2013 offers another perspective on experiencing the moment for what it is. My favorite quote from the post is “don’t pacify yourself with platitudes.”

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

As this is Valentine’s Day,  here is Eva Cassidy singing “The Water is Wide.”

Thursday Tidbits: Unconditionally Easy

Welcome to Thursday Tidbits, choice bits of information that celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, and it is how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is immediate.

It occurs to me that in exploring peace I am also exploring unconditional love, whose existence we freely acknowledge in animals but when it comes to humans, we grow very quiet very quickly.

Yet, what if the connection between peace and unconditional love lies in the law of detachment, like a bridge between the two? 

Deepak Chopra describes the law of detachment in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success as: 

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty… In the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. 

“And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.” 

Therein, lies the rub, trusting in the wisdom of uncertainty, free from the conditions of our past or what Pema Chödrön calls “The Dream of Constant Okayness.” 

“It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. 

“When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. 

“Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human” (Heart Advice, Weekly Quotes from Pema Chödrön) 

And finally, from the Mundaka Upanishad:  

“Like two golden birds perched on the selfsame tree, intimate friends, the ego and the Self dwell in the same body. The former eats the sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life, while the latter looks on in detachment.” 

These are favorite quotes of mine that I read so frequently I can recite parts of them from memory, which is not to say that I live them, only that my memory is in constant retrieval mode. However, there are moments I visit Michael Singer’s “Seat of Self,” where I am aware of the world coming through my humanness but alas, I do not yet sit for long.

How about you? Are you familiar with the golden birds of the Mundaka Upanishad? Do you struggle with the inherent ambiguity of “constant okayness”? Is there wisdom or freedom in uncertainty? Are humans capable of unconditional love?

If questions are not what you seek, then here is a north Florida treasure, Hot Tamale, singing “Easy,” a song for all of us wherever we are in our awareness.

Life: A Chronic Condition

Life as a condition generally denotes the state of being human but when health is implied, the meaning involves a defective state. Thus, considering life as chronic implies a wearing away, a wearing down.

Often, I use “chronic illness” to describe my health, although it makes me wince. I am no more an illness than I am a writer, a family member, a friend or a neighbor, although I have met each of these conditions with joy and sorrow, success and failure, the usual mixed bag that is life.

Life with conditions resembles what the Buddhists call clinging, attaching ourselves to this or that. We rarely regard reliving a fond memory as clinging but it is; Michael Singer describes this fondness as “I don’t want this one to go away… I want to keep reliving that moment” forever attached, completely embedded.

Just as chronically, we eschew those memories that are less than fond, even though they are always readily available. From those moments we cannot run fast or far enough, unaware we are on a treadmill of attachment incapable of escaping what we know.

Ironically, a shift in our attention from the known to the unknown of awareness frees us. Being in the moment switches off that treadmill, shuts down that memory to experience what always is, the freedom that is in every moment we ever have. Conditions result from experience but in the moment—the state of being– there are no conditions only creations. Chronically, life is; only we attach.

The ancient traditions teach us that everlasting joy is inevitable when we stop pushing away or holding onto life. The freedom integral to peace and contentment is available in every moment. In truth, freedom requires risk and risk resides in the unknown, not exactly comfortable conditions, or has our chronic response to risk become comfortable.

Embracing risk feels as if we are opening ourselves to each and every moment changing us—we are–as if risk were a mere matter of inhaling and exhaling—it is, if we focus. In a mere matter of a breath, consider the strength of a sigh, an exhaling of what is no longer necessary.

Almost any form of meditation considers the breath. In learning to meditate, I focused on inhaling and exhaling and discovered the pause in between. As basic as the pause is, I had never considered it. Only recently did I realize my daily meditation practice has immersed itself into my daily life: inhaling and exhaling, I release all-too-familiar conditions, as if I were sweeping 10,000 rooms daily, which I do.

For me, it was chronically easy to cling to conditions in the belief they secure one’s life. Labels–gender, occupation, health, neighborhood location–categorize life, as if the familiar confines could stay the constancy of change. I spent a lot of my life that way but I admit to a fascination with risk, which has always served me.

It has taken most of my lifetime to realize that joy, love, compassion, and gratitude are chronically inherent in the risk that is life. These emotions eschew the ego and all of its conditions; these emotions launch us out of ourselves into all of life. They are worth every moment of risk.