Category Archives: General Truth Talk

You Don’t Act Awake

“You don’t act awake.”

“He doesn’t act like he’s enlightened”.

Have you ever thought this thought or known someone who has? It’s more common than you might think. One of the curious things about the spiritual seeker is the preconceived notion of what someone looks/acts like when they are awake or enlightened. Many believe that a person who is enlightened will be in constant bliss, always calm, always smiling…on and on. But is that true? One of our foremost and well-known spiritual leaders, Jesus Christ, was known to get angry and knock over a table now and then. So does that make him less awake than he is depicted in the Bible? In truth, it makes him a very good example.

When awakening happens, yes, it does bring about a certain calmness, a certain contentment with everything that comes. You see that everything is right, just the way it is. What it doesn’t mean is a loss of personality. What it doesn’t mean is that you will necessarily “like” everything that happens. There is still an attraction to certain things and a repelling from others, kind of like a magnet. Certain energies will flow together more than others.

Will there still be emotion? Of course. It’s the identification with the emotion that fades. It becomes more a movement of energy instead of something you own, and it doesn’t come from thought. For example, I still see an anxious energy arise sometimes before I give a talk or teach a class but instead of getting wrapped up in it, I step back from it and observe it flowing and essentially watch it fade away. I don’t identify with it and I don’t attach to it. I observe it arise and I observe it fade. I don’t try to control it or change it. I just observe it, appreciate it, watch it fade.

There is no mold. An awake or an enlightened person may be the man who spends the rest of his life in a secluded cave in silence. It may be the person who finds solitude in a cabin in the woods. It may be the woman who leads her own Sangha to point others in the direction of their own awakening. It may be the grocery store clerk who scans your items and takes your money. It could be the old yogi who smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day and grumbles at the ignorance of his followers. It may be the gas station attendant. It may be that old oak tree in your back yard. It may be you. There is no mold to fit. An awake being can take any form and can perform in any way. It’s not up to you and it’s not what you think.

(And I’ll add that the awakening process itself can be a quite messy affair. It isn’t usually some instantaneous snap of the fingers where the clouds open up and the angels sing. It’s not always light and glorious. Most of the time it’s messy, confusing and can look like a complete mental breakdown to an unfamiliar observer.)

So check in with your conceptions now and then. Because we can never know the expression the universe has in store for us, until we let it happen.

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As-You-Are

There are different levels of awakening.  Rarely does someone simply “snap out of” the dream with no residual pieces of ego left behind.  Lately my awareness has come to focus on a piece that many hold on to, even without knowing it.  The piece of ego that says, “you should not be that way” or “you should not act that way”.  You can see this everywhere.  It’s part of what creates the human drama.  True freedom cannot come until you allow others the freedom to be who they are.  Allow others the space.  Accept them for who they are.  If you are not allowing them to be who they are then there is resistance to what is.  Full awakening includes a release of that resistance.  It is allowing everything (and everyone) to be as it is.  This isn’t to say that you will always agree with it, or even like it, but you can accept it.  Allow it.  This is true for ourselves as well.  For example, maybe you meditate and get frustrated that your mind will not slow down.  What would happen if you just allowed yourself to be as you are, busy mind and all?  What would happen if you accepted yourself as you are instead of trying to ‘better’ yourself, change yourself or resist yourself?  Instead, allow yourself to just be as you are.  Make it your practice.  Allow yourself and others to be as you and they are.  It will not only assist in allowing reality to be as it is but it brings you to a place of presence.  A place of true freedom.

Enjoy the beauty.


Snow Days

I love snow days. My kids do too (of course). We were blessed with one just the other day. As with all of our snow days, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to just stop. A great time to ‘drop out of life’ for a day. We relaxed, played games and, of course, basked in the beauty of a foot of newly fallen snow. Even the need to shovel the driveway was a gift, the wind in my face, snowflakes wetting my cheeks and the birds chirping overhead. There was nowhere to go and no timetable to keep.

I did, despite the gift of a day off work and school, check my e-mail now then and, yes, I jumped on Facebook. In that, this past snow day brought another aspect to my awareness, one I hadn’t spent much time with. It caused me to take a step back and look at how life on this planet and within our society works. To look at how conditioned we’ve become within the societal boundaries. There were so many people concerned about missing work, getting kids to school (those that didn’t get the day off) and a myriad of other issues related to the weather. So many things that people were set on doing but couldn’t or things that would now be more difficult because mother nature had the “nerve” to bring on a snowstorm and interrupt their plans. In one way, it’s our society that keeps us in the chains of busy-ness. It has conditioned us to believe we must be busy. We must produce. We must get out there and make money. We must get our kids to school so they can learn. In another way, it’s ourselves that bind us in these chains, because we believe it and we ourselves keep so busy that we don’t know how to stop. We feel confined because of all of this perceived societal responsibility or perhaps our own personal fear of just stopping and being in silence (but that’s a whole other story in itself). Many people are even penalized if they miss a day of work, either by loss of pay or the threat of a “black mark” in their employee file. Just another link the chain.

During this past snow day it never occurred to me to be upset with it. It snowed. My kids were home from school, which meant I was too. Pretty simple. Work could wait (even though I’m one of the ones to get a “black mark” with this particular job). School to could wait. I was going to enjoy it. I was going to take the day to slow down and jump out of life for a while and it was wonderful. There was no conflict within me. I went with the flow and enjoyed every moment.

This is something that comes with awakening. Call it trust. Call it “going with the flow”. Call it what you will. It is the realization that this moment is all we have. Wherever we are is where we need to be. You can struggle with it, fight against it and be angry with it or you can accept what is and enjoy it. If there is a snow day and you can’t do the things you have planned then trust that. Get your notions and your expectations out of the way and enjoy.

The next time there is a snow day, it is a gift. Relax and enjoy. Trust that the universe is doing this for you, not to you, and you will not be disappointed.


Self Verification

One of my favorite lines from Jed McKenna’s Spiritual Enlightenment Trilogy is “think for yourself or not at all”.  It amazes me how many people don’t think for themselves.  It amazes me, even more, that most people don’t even think of thinking for themselves.  I don’t usually talk about my day-to-day life or tell stories such as this but today was too beautiful of an example to let pass by without mentioning.  The premise of this story?  “think for yourself or not at all” or equally accurate, if it’s not self-verifiable then it’s just a belief…and no belief is true.

I work for an employer that decided to make the flu shot mandatory for employment this year.  I err on the side of ‘no thanks’ when it comes to getting shot up with a curious mixture of ingredients so I sought and received an exemption.  In a meeting today the subject came up because so many physicians have not yet gotten the shot.  To make things interesting I mentioned how it just doesn’t seem very nice to make people shoot a toxic substance into their bodies in the name of “health”.  Vaccines should remain a choice, not a mandatory ultimatum.  I proceeded to be ransacked.  The 3 managers in the room immediately dove into the pre-scripted talking points released months before by Corporate Communications, the propaganda machine of the organization (very similar to the book 1984 I might add).  I let them go on about how I was going to kill our sickest patients by eating in the cafeteria or by using the restroom.  I listened to claims of clinical studies (of which no one in the room had ever looked up or even knew the names of).  I looked at open mouths and surprised faces that said, “how could you dare not follow us and get the shot?”.   We had a little back and forth on the subject.  I asked one of the ladies how she would explain that most of the whooping-cough cases last year in California occurred in the vaccinated child population.  She stammered and said that it was because most of the kids were vaccinated……dramatic pause…..  I waited for her to realize what she just said.  She didn’t.  She had no clue.  I was speechless.  I ended the conversation by asking one of the manager-nurses in the room if she had verified any of this “evidence” for vaccination herself or if she was just taking other people’s word for it.  The answer she gave me was something like, “aaaahhhhhh???” with a quick change of subject.

Exactly.  If you have not verified it (experienced it, seen it, smelled it…) for yourself it’s just a belief.  Think for yourself or not at all.  SIMPLE.  It didn’t occur to any of the managers in this room today to think for themselves.  They were being good little employees and were simply following directions from the “powers that be”.  None of them realized that there is NO other ‘power’ than yourself.

Bottom line, whether it’s a job, a flu shot, your religion, your belief in God, your thoughts about the tree in your backyard – everything – think for yourself or not at all.  Be your own authority.   If you cannot self-verify it then it’s a belief.  It’s a lie you are telling yourself.  Question it.  Question everything until you know.

Disclaimer – I really have no opinion on the flu shot one way or another.  To each his/her own.  There is “scientific evidence” pointing to both sides of the spectrum.  I’m drawn to refrain from such activities and really have no opinion on what others choose to do or not do so if you feel strongly about this subject, here is not the place to debate it.  The above was simply an example of people following the herd without questioning.  The flu shot just happened to be the subject.


Just actors

Waking up is getting off the stage. It’s like sitting in the audience knowing you are just watching a play but the actors in the play still believe it is real. Day to day life? 99% are still in the play.

In the Play


Boo!

If you are anything like me there are times you like to get scared.  Halloween is always one of those times in our house.  We fill our time with scary movies, haunted houses and lots of tricks and treats.  Fear in a setting where we ultimately know we are safe can be an enjoyable experience but what happens when we dive into our deepest fears?  Those fears that keep us awake at night and the ones that we don’t feel safe with?  These fears that feel real and that can control how we move in the world, such as fear of death, fear of losing a job or fear of living life can come from different places.  They can come from a difficult past event in the form of conditioning, such as someone who has been in a bad car accident being afraid to ride in a car.  They can come from the mind, such as someone who is afraid of death because they don’t know what will become of them when they die or they fear that the people they leave behind will not be okay.

Ultimately, fear is misunderstanding.  This isn’t to downplay what can be a very powerful and real emotion, it is to bring light to a false perception, which is a gift if you allow it to happen.  The misunderstanding is generally that everything is not okay.  We tend to want things to go a certain way in life.  We want to be happy, we want to be healthy, we want our friends and family to be happy and healthy, but as we all know, this isn’t always the case.  Something happens and we think that things have gone wrong because they are not going the way we want them to.  What happens if we let go of that?  What happens when we just let things happen without the thought of “that is good”, “that is bad”  or “this is right”, “this is wrong”?  When we stop arguing with reality there is a contentment that comes along with every situation, no matter what it is.  When you stop letting your thoughts dictate the rightness or wrongness of any situation there is peace, no matter what.  For example, a friend of mine’s son just broke his arm in an accident.  It was a pretty bad break and, of course, it is never fun to see your child hurt.  The boy, who is 5, is incredible to watch through all of this.  Never does he say something like “how could this have happened?” or “why did this have to happen to me?”.  He simply goes with it.  Yes, his arm bothers him at times and yes the cast gets in the way but he doesn’t look at it as if it should be any other way.  He accepts it as it is, like most 5 year olds will do with something like this.  On the other side, my friend, the boy’s dad, is suffering greatly because he is telling himself consistently that this event should not have happened.  He’s telling himself how terrible it is that this happened to his son.  Who is suffering more?  The son, who has the broken arm and has accepted the reality of it, or the dad, who is constantly telling himself that this is wrong?

Fear manifests itself in the same way.  If you stop and look intently at your fears you can start to see the misunderstanding.  Let’s say you are afraid of death.  Hold that fear of death right in front of you.  Then, even if for only five seconds, stop thinking about it.  What does that feel like?  Five seconds is all it takes to get a taste.  Five seconds is all it takes to find out what it would feel like to be free of that fear.  Five seconds of stopping your thoughts and/or stopping the commentary that tells you something is good, bad or something that you should fear, that’s enough to get a taste and one taste of how that feels is all it takes.  From there you can let that grow into freedom.  As you practice this expand the time,  make it ten seconds…then 20…and so on.  What happens?  Feel it, get a sense for it, make it your meditation.  Before you know it you will be free from it.  The more you do this, the more you let go of the thoughts that tell you something is wrong, the more free you will be.  The thoughts may still come but you begin to see that they are not the truth.  You begin to see that everything is okay exactly the way it is.  If you were to die, everything is okay.  If you were to lose your job, it’s okay.  If you simply have a bad day at work, it’s okay.  Everything is perfect, just the way it is, no matter what.  Once we stop trying to control everything around us, once we stop labeling everything as right, wrong, good and bad we see that YES! everything is fine just as it is.  Whatever happened yesterday, perfect.  Whatever is happening right now, perfect.  Whatever happens tomorrow, perfect.

Five seconds is all it takes to get a sense.  Just five seconds.  So this Halloween when you are done watching those scary movies and walking through those haunted houses, take a moment to investigate one of those fears that you don’t feel safe with.  Take those five seconds and realize that you are always safe, always fine, and that everything is just as it is and just as it should be.  Realize you can be free from fear.


Yes…

It is that simple and that beautiful…