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.”

A Matter of Voice

When is a voice not a voice or why does the voice inside my head not resemble the voice in the movie, Field of Dreams? Beyond the obvious answer of “it’s only a movie,” there is also the reality of building a baseball field, which I could never do. That’s the kind of voice I hear.

Perhaps chatter is a better term but regardless of word choice, the voice is not reality, incessant as it is. The voice is so pervasive that it filters the reality of living for us, if we allow it. Why is that?

Michael Singer says that “…reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind… As long as that’s what you want, you’ll be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it…. In the name of attempting to hold the world together, you really are just trying to hold yourself together”(The Untethered Soul).

I admit I have relied on this voice for almost all my life. As a writer, I’ve considered voice essential for I do hear the word as I type or I did. Now that I use voice recognition software, I am not aware of hearing words before I speak them. Inadvertently, voice recognition software has helped me be more present in life.

In short, I am no longer interested in listening to the voice in my head “… [take] both sides of the conversation, [not caring]… which side it takes, just as long as it gets to keep on talking” (Singer).

As I understand space-time, past, present, and future are all occurring simultaneously. All we ever have is the moment, which is completely free for it is attached to neither past nor future but is simply occurring.

The present is not a comfortable setting for the voice, as it is attached to past and future outcomes. The voice builds on situations that exist in either the past or the future. Situation is the foundation for the voice; it is the known. When we listen to the voice, our focus (and thus our perspective) narrows so rather than exploring the infinite field of possibilities, we explore only what we have known for that is all the voice knows.

Vividly, the voice narrates image after image stored within our memory archives. When it reaches the end of that file, it creates one future scenario after another. The voice is like a pendulum, swinging toward what has been and then all the way to the edge of what might be, with nary a pause at what is.

When we are still, we are in the moment, where the voice does not reside. “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. If you don’t understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you.” And we are none of those things for consciousness—being aware that we are aware—is observing the voice we hear without engaging it. In being aware, our focus broadens.

We experience life as it is and only for what it is. “If you’re willing to be objective and watch all your thoughts, you will see that the vast majority of them have no relevance” (Singer). Rather than defining ourselves as past or future events—what has happened or what may happen–we immerse ourselves in the infinite field of possibilities that is the moment, free from past or future outcomes.

When we are in the moment, we are completely involved in all that is. There is nothing for the voice to attach to. We do not focus on the outcome of that moment, which is not to say that we are passive, not at all. It is to say that we do not react; we do not reach for what we have always known.

Rather, we “…decide not to narrate and, instead, just consciously observe the world, [feeling] more open and exposed” (Singer). Consciously observing the world is experiencing all that life is. It means that our every action is one that encompasses compassion, gratitude, love, and joy—maybe even simultaneously– for these are the emotions that are never felt in the presence of the voice, the ego of the known.

These four emotions reverberate throughout our physiology as it connects to our consciousness. In the moment, we are all that we are completely.  This possibility always exists if we forgo the pendulum swing of the voice of the known. Yet, it is not as if the voice will be still but we are not the voice. We are the oneness that observes the voice, for we have more to observe than we have ever known.

I consider it quite a challenge not to engage the voice but the unknown has always intrigued me. As a writer, the role of the witness is certainly not new to me but once again, my switch to voice recognition software provided yet another unanticipated benefit.

Obviously, using the software is a physical change in how I write but while adjusting to speaking my writing as opposed to typing my writing, I became aware of another voice. In speaking my words, there is an immediacy that does not exist with my typing. At times, the words are a pure surprise. Sometimes that is the software doing its best to communicate what it thinks I said while other times, I do surprise myself in the words I say.

Regardless, the thought is rough, meaning there is no longer any thinking through a sentence before I speak it. I wasn’t aware that I had been a writer who edited as I created but my voice recognition software revealed otherwise. Now, I am no longer aware of that voice even when I do edit finished drafts.

And there is this about writing: no matter how or what I write, it is story. In story, there is always a voice–as there should be–just as there is a conclusion–the outcome of the story–as there should be. In story, voice frees us from clinging to outcome, releasing us into the moment, perhaps into a field of dreams.

(All Michael Singer quotes excerpted from The Untethered Soul, Kindle Edition, 2007: New Harbinger Publications)

Inner Energy of You

My last two posts have explored freedom through the pause we all experience in every breath–if not in every deed–and through the unknown, where the risk of hope resides. To write of freedom is to explore the oneness of humanity for it is the freedom that connects us all.

When I began publishing this blog in January, I created a homepage of oneness to frame the concept for my blog posts: quantum entanglement, my favorite term for the pure energy of the consciousness connection. Within a few months, I began a study of ancient traditions, primarily Taoism, Hinduism and early Christianity (pre Saint Augustine of Hippo), having previously studied Buddhism, Zen in particular. I sought a synthesis and considered it the rest of my life’s work. Still do.

I have discovered writers, ancient and contemporary, who have written most thoughtfully, and some beautifully, of the inner and external worlds of humanity. Then, I read the “elegant simplicity” of Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul. Yet again, I have Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday program to thank for this discovery; currently, her website is offering a full episode replay of her interview with Singer.  Oh, that middle initial is important if you are going to search for Singer on Google.

Singer’s graceful prose is stunning. Quietly, he lays down one sentence after another, orchestrating a synthesis of thought, word by word. He  allows the reader to rediscover the spiritual energy within, as if it were the first time. “This flow of energy comes from the depths of your being. It’s been called by many names. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is called Chi. In yoga, it is called Shakti. In the West, it is called spirit.… All the great spiritual traditions talk about your spiritual energy; they just give it different names.” (The Untethered Soul).

We do seem to insist on labels for our innate consciousness and thus, the connection to one another. We identify with one label over another to preserve, and possibly to protect, the nuances within each of the spiritual traditions. It has been like this for over 5000 years, for one reason after another, both East and West.

“Consciousness is the highest word you will ever utter. There is nothing higher or deeper than consciousness. Consciousness is pure awareness…the ability to become more aware of one thing and less aware of something else…” (The Untethered Soul).

Singer removes any mystique regarding consciousness and leads the reader into “the seat of self,” the center of consciousness [where] you are aware there are thoughts, emotions, and a world coming in through your senses. But now you are aware that you’re aware. That is the seat of the Buddhist self, the Hindu Atman and the Judeo Christian soul. The great mystery begins once you take that seat deep within” (The Untethered Soul).

It was Deepak Chopra who described Singer’s writing as “elegant simplicity.” If you watch the interview with Oprah, you will see it is an apt description for the man as well. Singer’s book is not about one set of beliefs or any religion. It is a book about consciousness: “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–the awareness, the self, the Atman, the soul.”

For me, Singer’s book offers an unanticipated foundation for my  synthesis of the ancient traditions and thus, an added dimension to this blog. Abraham Heschel wrote that to live a spiritual life is not a gathering of information but it is “facing sacred moments,” the rediscovery of what has always been, one open door after another.