Sunday, May 30, 2010

Invisible money

The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work...
He shall go directly to the creation.
-- Walt Whitman*

I walked down to the local coffee house for a small cup; often paying with odd looking coins and bills. One morning, I paid with a Peet’s Card "charged up" with $21. The clerk poured me the coffee. When she saw the card she said it wasn't my usual funny money. I said, “It’s invisible money!” Almost all money is now invisible. For many years, I carried little pieces of jade and silver in my pocket; a habit picked up from my friend Glenn, who enjoyed buying small amounts of silver and old copper coins, as well as picking up deep green jade stones at the beaches near Gorda (south of Big Sur) in California. Jade, silver and gold make excellent money tokens. But no one uses them as money anymore.

The dematerialization of money started with paper money. Originally, paper money was "backed" by gold, silver or other tangible items. Later, we removed money's "backing" or base; effectively, debasing money. Most money is now intangible data configurations stored in computers. Paper? Why even use that? Plastic cards are better. Actually, "money" is even more intangible than the computer's memory banks; it's the meaning we give to these data configurations that defines money. Money has absolutely no physical basis at all, not even the electronic data. It's all mental. Money is based on customs of trust between us, banks, and governments. Inflation, deflation, and monetary collapses show us that money is mostly a state of mind. It's time to break the money mind spell; to go directly to the creation, and stop confusing symbols for reality.

*From "Preface", Leaves of Grass (1855).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To let learn

Teaching is more difficult than learning because what teaching calls for is this: to let learn. The real teacher, in fact, lets nothing else be learned than -- learning. His conduct, therefore, often produces the impression that we properly learn nothing from him, if by "learning" we now suddenly understand merely the procurement of useful information. The teacher is ahead of his apprentices in this alone, that he has still far more to learn than they -- he has to learn to let them learn.
-- Martin Heidegger*

* What is Called Thinking? (Translated by J. Glenn Gray). One of my guiding concepts for teaching. Sometimes, I even share this "secret" with my students.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our work

Our work, our labor, is to awaken to our true nature which was forgotten due to false identification with the content of consciousness. The theory and practice of meditation help us again realize (make real) our true nature. When I speak, write or listen to these words, I am in the realm of theory; when I take in the meaning of these words, I inform and transform myself along the path of self realization. It’s very, very important to remember that words are not what they refer to. “The map is not the territory.”* Speaking or writing about meditation is not meditation. Meditation is in the gaps between the words, between the thoughts. But the word “gap” is not the same as a gap itself as-it-is. Get past the word – allow the great silence to come. At the point of great silence is the great labor of liberation. **

* Famous phrase summarizing one of Alfred Korzybski’s great work on general semantics.
** Published in Meditation: Waking Up to Life by Americ Azevedo, Cognella Academic Publishing, 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Between birth and death

Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, gives a wonderful metaphor for life, birth, and death – a waterfall. If you think of a river flowing downstream, it is all one river. When the river reaches the edge of a waterfall, it breaks up into billions of drops of water. The individual life is like one of those drops of water. Our friends and family are those drops of water around us, that fall with us. We see ourselves as separate, individual. Then, at the bottom of the waterfall, we become the river again.

Life happens between the top and the bottom of the waterfall. Birth is that moment we become separate, the span of a life is the time we fall as individual drops of water, death is the moment we merge back together. Unity before birth, separation during life, unity again at death.

* "Waterfall" (2003) - original audio version of this post. Another version published in my book, Meditation: Awaking Up to Life, Cognella Academic Publishing, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Becoming human; becoming divine

Humans have reflective consciousness. This allows us, once in a while, to have the experience of cosmic (non-dual) consciousness; to become divinely human.

Metaphorically speaking, we stand erect with our heads in the sky and our feet on the ground. (I’m not speaking of just the physical frame, but of the relationship with all-that-is. Someone lying down in bed is still human.) A human being holds all the levels needed to connect heaven and earth:

Consciousness – transcendental awareness
Awareness – reflective perception
Mind – simple mapping of environment (world)
Brain/body – neuro-somatic matrix; ground of experience

Mind and brain/body are the material aspect of humanness; while awareness and consciousness are the spiritual aspects of the human.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Intentional Living

If you have known how to compose your life,
you have accomplished a great deal more
than the man who knows how to compose a book…
You have done more than the man
who has taken cities and empires.

A life can be composed, can be intentional. Freedom or liberty implies an inner power to change thought patterns, leading to new words and actions, leading to new life at large. We dynamically walk the path of our life purpose – that means that we change and adjust as we walk along the way. Here are several steps that enhance intentional free living:

• Create an ideal vision of the way your life can be.
• Write and repeat affirmations (a firm, “to make firm”), prayers, or mantras that support you in getting to that ideal vision.
• Make plans to support the steps of realizing each one of these affirmations.
• Externalize/realize. Turn plans into actions (either internal or external).
• Keep observing, re-evaluating where you are. Make adjustments based on feedback from circumstances -- so that your inner power works to change and improve circumstances.**

Circumstances are given to us from the beginning of life; but, at every point we are also changing those circumstances.

* Quoted in The Practical Cogitator: The Thinker’s Anthology. Selected and edited by Charles Curtis, Jr. and Ferris Greenslet. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962. page 85.
* * These steps based on suggestions from Mark Allan’s teachings.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Undivided wholeness

In the very early phases of the development of civilization, man's views were essentially of wholeness rather than of fragmentation. In the East (especially India) such views still survive, in the sense that philosophy and religion emphasize wholeness and imply the futility of analysis of the world into parts. Why, then, do we not drop our fragmentary Western approach and adopt these Eastern notions which include not only a self-world view that denies division and fragmentation but also techniques of meditation that lead the whole process of mental operation non-verbally to the sort of quiet state of orderly and smooth flow needed to end fragmentation both in the actual process of thought and in its content?

David Bohm*

To know the whole, we begin with fragments and end with a leap of faith to the oneness of all things. Our true work is to realize wholeness within the fragments of our own life. The whole is not a thing – just as the Self is not a thing. Realizing this, we realize all that is. In fact, we become whole; in becoming whole we realize the great human virtue of integrity.

Image: Three Spheres II, by M. C. Esher (lithography, 1946). First suggested to me from page 258 of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. New York, Basic Books, 1979. Oddly enough, Hofstadter was using this image for the idea of Indra’s Net – a metaphor I had not imaged him using in all these years since reading the book.

* Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Focus on one thing for a while

Focus on one thing for a while…
Just a little longer than usual

Watch your footsteps on a woodland walk
Sit, follow your in-breath and out-breath
Stand and look into the distance with a quiet mind
Feel the contact between your hands in prayer

When your mind goes elsewhere
Come back to the object of awareness

Moments of peace and stillness come of themselves
Without effort
Doing nothing, everything is done

At our root
We're not the endless thoughts and images
That stream through our minds

At our root
We're limitless beings of light, love, and peace

At our root
Pure consciousness

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vessels have done their job

The vessels* have done their job.
Gone to the other shore.
Light & free, passing beyond, now.

I asked God for help in writing this book
God gave me a tip
“Get out of the way!”

Liberty is freedom, enlightenment, salvation, fulfillment, and union with all-that-is. Words for liberty keep coming and coming. But, it’s not about words; it’s about realization – about making, being real. I’m reminded of Jesus’ expression about being “born again” in spirit. It may seem like a sudden event, but there is gestation that many take most of a lifetime (of minor openings, grand openings, working on self, laughter, and dropping away of the ego). Who are we after our spiritual rebirth? Perhaps as Jesus suggests, we “become as children again”. In Zen Buddhism it’s said that we recover our “original face”; the face of a young child – open, free, and expressive of love at a moments notice. Our new condition is like pure light with a sense of the oneness of all-that-is. There is only this: this moment now. (+)

* "Vessels" are the containers for wisdom -- the traditions, the religions, and the schools. You get to a point, a place, where you just are wise and live in wisdom. It's spontaneous.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make a distinction, a universe comes into being

... a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. The skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside....

At this stage the universe cannot be distinguished from how we act upon it, and the world may seem like shifting sand beneath our feet.

G. Spencer-Brown*

* Laws of Form.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Only one job - data entry

Everywhere I go, everyone's work looks like data entry. Workers sitting or standing in front of electronic devices -- inputting or receiving symbolic data. Jobs progressively transforming into "information manipulation". Doctors, lawyers, plumbers, truckers, teachers, students, engineers, store clerks, factory workers, and children -- we're all exchanging text, voice, and graphic data on computer terminals. Someday every job will automatize ; on that day the remaining work will be either data reception or entry. Pay may differ, but the work will look much the same. Hopefully, I'll be wrong!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Take time, now, to return to center

Sometimes the "monkey mind" gets too busy. There are so many things we feel we have to do now -- as soon as possible. It's painful to "keep up while falling behind". At such moments there's an accelerating feeling (to get more done faster) but no sense of relief in sight. The mind darts around, with divided attention on far too many tasks. This is exactly a moment to pull back; and meditate, pray or contemplate. But something stops you from doing so! It's as if a little voice inside says, "I don't have time now. Wait until later when things get better." Don't listen to that voice. It's like a little child refusing to take a medicine because it does not taste good at first. The mind healing medicine happens to be meditation, prayer, or contemplation. The medicine tastes better after taking it. Go find a quiet place away from your tasks and be alone for ten to fifteen minutes. Settle down. Let go of thoughts as they come. Have faith that you are moving closer to your own quiet center -- that you will be more effective when you return to your activities. A short centering rest does wonders.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

As if flowing down a river

We can live as if flowing down a river. 
We could struggle to go faster or slower; 
toward the Sea of Being, 
toward the oneness-of-all-things. 
The Way is easy that goes 
along the river's current. 
Resistance adds pain 
beyond the required suffering. 
Surrender to the flow, 
going Home. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Opening to true love

Our beginning is already our end; and, our end is already our beginning. We came into this world with nothing, no-thing; and, we leave this world with nothing, no-thing. All we have is the limitless openness of consciousness. Even when enlightened, still the world goes on and on. We're within and outside the world; remaining self-realized, filled with compassion, love, and wisdom in daily life. To be free and enlightened is embracing life; it is living more abundantly. The greatest gift is providing space for insight, wisdom and clear action within everyday life. We return from self-discovery's journey, not because we have to, but because we love. Then begins an even greater journey. (+)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Going backward to go forward

Sometimes I feel so backward. You'll catch me saying phrases such as, "Better to not travel so within a small island-like'll shop less...use less fuel...Encourage your children not to go away for college...go to a local school...keeps the family more extended...less expenses as everyone ages". The list goes on! This goes against the grain of hyper-mobile civilization. Yet, it's where we must go: to build a more meaningful, connected localized global culture. Is that so backward? Is it not forward?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ask for wisdom

Young king Solomon asked God for wisdom, rather than wealth. God was impressed, so he made Solomon the wisest of kings; giving him wealth as well.

With wisdom there is more time for stillness and less time for needless thinking, chatter, and activity. Power and possessions mean nothing; and, usually bring more distress than we can imagine. Love may get us through the night; but, Wisdom gets us through the day.

My parents gave me a big red leather bound copy of the Bible. It had classic prints of old master paintings depicting scenes from memorable biblical passages. I looked at the prints trying to understand the meaning of the words in the Bible that I had yet understand at all. I just enjoyed holding these mysteries up to the mirror of the mind. The words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes turned my eyes, mind, heart and soul toward wisdom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Great sages, humble teachers

In Ancient China, Lao-Tzu, one of the greatest sages, said, “My mind is so foolish, so simple others look bright. I alone seem dim; others are certain…”* Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, Socrates visits the Oracle of Delphi, where he asks, “Who’s the wisest man in Athens?” The Oracle responds, “You are!” Stunned, Socrates realized: “If I’m wise, it’s that I know that I don’t know, while others think they know what they don’t know!”

* Tao Te Ching, chapter 20.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lampshade and light

Is the disturbing person next door nothing but an "idiot"? Is the boss only out to get us? Are those homeless people merely the untouchables of society? Do we pay attention mostly to clothes and possessions? If so, we're looking at "lampshades". We could instead "see the light and not just the lampshade."* The light in others is also the light within us -- a spark of Consciousness. The Golden Rule found in all great religious traditions becomes totally self-evident. At the core, everyone else is like us. What a marvelous sight to behold! Seeing the light in others spontaneously gives others permission to be all that they can be -- freed from our lampshade-like judgments.

* I've heard this attributed to the Jerry Jampolsky's Attitudinal Healing center.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Arrive where we started

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot
Little Gidding
Four Quartets

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

True wealth

We constantly forget to realize the wealth we already have. Failing to acknowledge our true wealth we keep grasping for more, like hungry ghosts who are never satisfied while constantly eating! Thus, we go about despoiling the earth, corrupting relationships, and twisting societies into grotesque forms that promote needless suffering for ourselves, others, and the earth as a whole. Realizing true wealth leads to personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal fulfillment. Life, love, and this present moment is true wealth.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Two birds

Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship,
in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge.
One of the twain eats the sweet Fig tree’s fruitage;
the other eating not, regardeth only.

The Rig Veda[1]

[1] Book I, Hymn CLXIV, Verse 20 from Sacred Writings, Hinduism: The Rig Veda. Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Book-of-the-Month Club, New York, 1992.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Two lives

We have "two lives" - a temporal life and eternal life. Temporal life comes and goes with birth, growth, decay, and death. Eternal life was, is, and always will be. This seems impossible. It is, however, an insight that grows from years of meditation practice; and, the study of ancient teachings such as the forest hermits in the Himalayas who delved into the ground of consciousness. Our bodies "plug into" the universal eternal absolute consciousness. From Absolute Consciousness we came and to Absolute Consciousness we return. Eternal life is already given. That's the good news.