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Death is Our Companion

tutankhamun-death-mask-pharaonic-egyptDeath is Our Companion

My 13-year-old nephew died of a rare blood disorder that stayed hidden until three days before it took his life.  The shock of the statement is enough to stop people in their tracks, let alone the reality behind the statement.  Death can come at any time, at any age, in any circumstance. If we are wise, it is our constant companion, reminding us to stay awake. It can rattle us out of our normal calm and complacent acceptance of the dreamstate, if we are still unaware of Reality with a capital “R.”  However, even aware of Reality, the shock of the sudden death of a young person brings a palpable heartache.  Certainly, it has produced a shattering of the hearts of those close to him.

The human body is frail.  Even those who take exquisite care of their bodies, and have the resources to spare no expense, will eventually succumb to illness and death.  How do we live in light of this truth?  Soberly.  Compassionately.  Adroitly.  As the shock wore off, and the numbness gave way to feeling, grief was and is my companion, as well as Death.  There is no adequate explanation to offer the bereaved, even though inwardly my thought is ‘The Absolute is taking back a part of Itself: it gives Itself into human form, and returns to Itself when it decides to dissolve that form.’

Whether we’re here in this three-dimensional construct, or awake from this dreamstate, we’re still in a body.  We can say, speaking a bit too imperiously from the Transcendent point of view, that “Nothing is happening and Everything is perfect, even the death of a boy.”  Yet even as we speak or write those words, we feel the sensation in our throats, or the perception of our fingers striking the keyboard.  Death will take the one who takes refuge in the Transcendent and refuses to acknowledge the Immanent (here and now 3-D world), just as quickly as one who denies the Transcendent and acknowledges only the material world.

What do we do in the face of Death?  Wake up to our True Nature as the Absolute Itself.  Live as free from the distraction of the chattering mind as possible.  Serve The Absolute in as many ways as possible.  Comfort the grieving, even if they are ‘lost in the dreamstate’ and without denigrating their lostness.  If we are no longer lost, we once were!  The Absolute goes ‘down’ into form, awakens in and as and through these bodies, in order to serve Itself and know Itself in a multiplicity of ways.  Our job is to cooperate with that, to surrender to that, and to accept the real suffering that exists in many forms here, including in saying goodbye to a wonderful 13-year-old boy.  May our grief serve the good purpose of breaking our hearts open, so that more light shines through them in all directions.

May all people who read this ‘wake up’ in this lifetime: it is possible!

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Family of Human Beings

Family of Human Beings

When I was 16 years old in 1971, I had an answer to the first and ‘cheekiest’ prayer I ever prayed.  The prayer was ‘God, if you exist, create the miracle of getting me a scholarship to international high school  (6th Form, A Levels, International Baccalaureate level) in South Wales, U.K.’  I had originally been told that my parents were ‘too rich’ for me to qualify for a scholarship, though they had four children they had to educate and send to university.  After being accepted in April of that year, there was a postal strike, and I prayed the same prayer for another month until May 1st because there had been no word on the scholarship.  I found out that my prayer was answered then, when against all known odds I got the full tuition scholarship.  This led directly to becoming a believer in a Higher Power immediately afterwards.

Because the international school (United World College of the Atlantic) had students from over 50 countries, including all inhabited continents and even some from countries ruled by communist governments (in 1971 during the so-called Cold War, this was a rare privilege), I came to see that whatever country we are from, we are all human beings.  In fact, because we were put in common circumstances in a new place, all of us formed lasting bonds in spite of having different religions, ethnicities, currencies, and languages.

Though I was narrowly sectarian in my own religious views at the time, even this fact didn’t keep me from becoming friends with many of other faiths.  Now, 45 years later, I still long for communication and communion with people from all over the world, and am finding it by meeting people on Facebook.

I am amazed that we are able to speak to each other so openly about ‘waking up,’ ‘enlightenment,’ and the spiritual journey.  I’m also deeply delighted to again feel part of the Family of Human Beings.  Writing these posts and meeting people from all over the world on Facebook has made life richer by far, in a few short weeks.

Today’s little bit of writing is just to say ‘thank you’ for one more thing I’m grateful for: the family of all human beings that are now speaking together about spiritual Truth.  My experience is that we are each, individually, The Absolute Itself in form.  My hope is that these writings help all readers to uncover this for themselves.  May we continue our open dialog until all realize Who is the Origin and Who is continuing to come into a multitude of forms as The Family of Human Beings.

May all Human Beings who read this awaken in this lifetime: it is possible (and wonderful)!

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Enlightenment Now: Emptiness and Fullness on Thanksgiving

Clearly, many in the United States are feeling a fullness in their bellies right now, after Thanksgiving dinners.  A different kind of fullness arises out of Inner Emptiness, once one realizes that there is no self, simply a spontaneous cacophony of perception, action, thought, and emotion without a center.  All of this Fullness, arising out of Emptiness.

Having been with family for the day, I’ve noticed speech alternating with silence, involvement in conversation alternating with solitary moments, eating and drinking alternating with hunger and thirst.  In the midst of this, there was no continuous self to be found anywhere.

As far as I can tell, it was a lovely day for those who think they are a self and this one who knows he’s not.  There seems to be little difference on the surface.  Underneath, I don’t know any one else’s experience, just the experience that seems to arise ‘here inside.’  This was the most peaceful Thanksgiving experience I can remember: there was no worrying about a ‘self’ to protect or defend, no ‘persona’ to present, and nothing that ‘anyone’ had to do.

Yet, action did continue to spontaneously arise and this year it wasn’t tiring.  Things seemed to be done with no effort, whenever attention moved to something needing doing.  That said, attention didn’t wander everywhere to every possible action: some things seemed to need to be done and others didn’t.  Some people needed to be listened to, or responded to and others didn’t.

Right now, typing this blogpost, I’m sitting in a room with five people and two dogs.  Sometimes a response wants to come to the conversation going on, and sometimes writing is happening.  There doesn’t seem to be any conflict in the two, disparate activities.

How did ‘I’ get to experience life like this?  I don’t care to elaborate it anymore, just to enjoy it.  To those reading, I wish the same.  If you need help along the way, let me know.

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Enlightenment Now: ‘Me’ and ‘My Family’ at the Thanksgiving Holidays

In the United States, this week is our Thanksgiving celebration.  Millions of people will travel somewhere to be with members of their ‘family.’  As someone who is awake to their deepest nature, I sat in the car with family members this morning (my spouse and father-in-law) and thought about how we define family.

It used to be that family meant: biological family, my biological parents, my biological siblings, and perhaps grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.  Given the explosion in the rich variety of blended families in the last 50 years in the U.S. (and other places, I’m guessing), we already may need to expand the definition of family, to include my stepparents (still have one alive), my stepsister and stepbrother, my half-brother, and all of their children.  Although, being with my in-laws, I need to include all of the in-laws and their families too, don’t I?

If we take a look at the ‘glue’ that binds any ‘family’ together, it generally comes down to love, right?  I know it does but, I’m asking the question so that readers might consider the truth of this.  What causes most issues at the holidays?  We create expectations that we should be the center of attention, we should have our needs met, our ‘family’ should pay attention to us, our family should talk about what we want to talk about, our family should make us feel special.  If they don’t then they’re AWFUL or BORING or DISAPPOINTING.

So, one problem with family is we expect them (whoever ‘they’ are) to love us.  We don’t necessarily think about whether we are loving them.  On the three-dimensional level of physical life, in our personal relationships, ‘the love we make’ or create is ‘equal to the love we take’ to quote a Beatles song.  So, if we’re disappointed in our families over the holidays, we’re probably not loving THEM.  Loving them will actually feel good, if we allow ourselves to feel the love.  Loving them will feel better, if we reduce our expectations of what they ‘should’ give us too.  The great spiritual wisdom traditions teach us to lose our attachments (desires) and aversions (anti-desires, things we hate).

To do this, however, we have to take a look at the heart of spirituality which is well summarized in the Buddha’s teachings on the three essential factors of life: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and no-self.  All experience is impermanent, including pleasure.  Since that is the case, all experience, and the possession of every object, and ‘getting what I want’ is inherently unsatisfactory because it disappears quickly!  Feeling my desire to be ‘paid attention to’ being fulfilled is a prime example of that: as soon as I’m not being paid attention to, I revert immediately to feeling unsatisfied.  “Someone else is getting the attention.  No Fair!”

Of course, to really track all the way to the most basic problem in family relationships, one has to go all the way to the lack of reality of a so-called self.  The ‘self’ that most people think of as ‘me’ is a series of thoughts that say ‘I’ or ‘me’ or ‘my’ or ‘mine’ somewhere in the thought.  In other words, the ‘self’ is composed of a series of impermanent thoughts that come and go extremely quickly.  What makes a ‘self’ feel more real is that the thoughts often produce a special subset of physical sensations that we have called ‘emotions’ which register in our bodies and make us feel more like there is some sort of permanent ‘self’ or ‘identity’ or ‘person’ here.  This is especially true when the feelings include anger, sadness, grief, or some other feeling that causes us to tense up and make the muscles hard.  The harder and tenser the muscles, the more ‘real’ the ‘self’ actually seems to us.

If we stop thinking, even briefly, what happens to this so-called ‘self’?  It disappears.  And, anyway, if the self is the chattering ‘voice in my head’ that also creates ‘feelings’ then Who or What is watching the chattering voice and feelings arise?

Therefore, if we take our idea of family, and holidays down to our idea that there is a ‘self’ to begin with, we find a whole series of problems that first create a false ‘self’ when it doesn’t exist.  Then, our thoughts create a whole set of categories and relationships that exist as thought constructs.  For example, we think we’re having ‘relationships’ with people who aren’t in the room or with whom we’re currently not in communication.  Where is this so-called relationship though?  It’s in our heads….in our thoughts.   Is there any reality to it, ultimately?  No, it’s ephemeral, temporary, or as the Buddha says, impermanent.  The ‘relationships’ only exist when communication is occurring between the people.

So, when ‘you’ are getting together with ‘your’ ‘family,’ you might want to consider something different.  Since ‘you’ aren’t really a self, and the ‘family’ is more an agreed upon idea than a permanent reality, you might want to just go in with no expectations and see what happens.  If love spontaneously arises in your heart, let it flow.  Then the next question for you, “Does the flow have to stop at just your mind’s definition of ‘family?’”

Grandmother (long gone in 1989), showed me that love wasn’t confined to the biological family because she loved my father’s step-children too.  Gay friends taught me that sometimes the biological family is going to reject you because they think you’re bad for being yourself, so love can make a family of choice.  Traumatized clients, whose parents abused them and never apologized, also taught me about this family of choice: they create new ‘families’ based on people who love them and whom they love.  They create new kinds of family ‘traditions’ and ‘celebrations.’

Jesus teaches us to ‘love God above all else and to love your neighbor as yourself.’  Really, I understand now through the insight of meditation, that my neighbor IS myself.  The Buddha teaches us that there is no ‘I’ to demand anything and no good definition of ‘family’ at all that excludes anything.  His teaching was to love everyone and everything, since it is all Emptiness.  Said another way, the Absolute is manifest in, as, and through everything visible and invisible.  How can we deny love to anyone or anything when it is all the same Essence that we are?

So, when ‘we’ gather with ‘family’ this week, we can go deeper than to ask for ego-validation for a non-existent self.  We can experience a spontaneous unfolding of love.  If that doesn’t happen, we can at least begin to ask ourselves how we can be so far from who the great masters teach us we really are.