The space in between
the mundane and
lies a simple
and ordinary truth.
The space in between
the mundane and
lies a simple
and ordinary truth.
OK, I admit it, I love seeing my kids wake up Christmas morning to a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree. This is especially true for my youngest this year, as it’s probably the last year that santa comes down the chimney. Luckily for me, my girls are pretty simple and practical when it comes to their Christmas gift list. Sure, there remain a few toys listed for the younger one but, in general, the list is filled with a few clothes items, pajamas, and maybe a couple of books. Many times they have written things like “hugs and kisses”. One of the cutest things on the letter to santa this year was, ‘please put something in mommy’s stocking this year’. With all of this said, many times what I hear from them is, “You don’t need to get me anything mom. I don’t need/want anything.” What many people don’t realize from that statement, is that is a greater gift, for them, than any present under the tree could ever be. The gift of not wanting and the freedom it brings with it.
Have you ever had the experience of being perfectly content in the moment; completely at peace with everything just as it is? No desire to change anything, not wanting anything to be different from the way it is? What is missing during those moments of perfect contentment? Part of the euphoria in getting something new, be it a television, a piece of jewelry, a new pair of pants, a new job etc., is that, for a short time afterwards, the wanting is gone. The “want” is fulfilled. This brings contentment. Then, after a while, that fades and another want or desire takes its place. Have you noticed? Have you ever lost yourself in a movie and when the movie is over you feel great? What happened during that time? You lost yourself enough to stop putting demands on the moment. For that time you were lost in the lives of the people on the screen, you didn’t want anything different for yourself. Once those moments are over it’s usually not long before you are back to wanting to change things again. I want an ice cream cone. I must have that new shirt. I want that lady over there to stop talking so loudly. I want there to be no traffic on my drive home. I want my husband to pay more attention to me. I want my kids to be quiet. I want a bigger house. I want a new IPhone. I want. I want. I want. Heavy. That’s how I feel when I even think about putting a demand on the moment. It feels heavy, because it’s not freedom. It’s a trap, and one most people find themselves in, many without even knowing it.
So, when my girls tell me that I don’t need to get them anything because there is nothing they need/want is a greater gift for them than any present ever could be. To be free from constantly wanting something is just that, it’s free. You are no longer bogged down or pulled along in life based on wants. Day-to-day activities are not weighed down by wanting anything to be different than it is. Wants may be fulfilled and bring you peace for a short time, but will ALWAYS be replaced by new wants….unless you stop. It is possible to stop. Be perfectly happy with everything just as it is. When you do that, you will eventually see, that you will get more than you ever wanted because everything you need is simply provided, right here and now.
This morning (prompting today’s post), when a coworker asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I answered, “the gift to continue to not want anything”, I got one heck of a strange look. She turned and began telling another girl how her husband had better get her the vacuum she saw over the weekend and new sheets for the bed or he was going to be in trouble. Needless to say, I was smiling, she wore a frown.
This one’s for you Kate. It’s not too late to ask for the gift of not wanting for Christmas.
A few quotes for today, to help promote that season.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.”
Lau Tzu ~ Tao Te Ching
“Enlightenment means waking up to what you truly are and then being that.”
“Do it. Open your eyes. The truth is right there. You ARE it. Everything is it. It’s that simple.”
Exactly as you are.
If you think you should be different – you are wrong.
If someone around you thinks you should be different – they are wrong.
You are perfect – just as you are. It could be no other way.
Let others be themselves as well.
Exactly as they are.
If you think they should be different – you are wrong.
They are perfect, just as they are. It could be no other way.
Be yourself and let others do the same.
You may just get a taste of freedom.
Every thought is a filter. Every thought you have is judging, contemplating, evaluating, and filtering your experience. Every single one. What happens when you let yourself experience a moment without having a thought about it? No opinion, no judgement, no deciding if it’s good or bad, no conditions on the moment, what-so-ever? What happens?
Open up to the experience just as it is, without the filter, and watch your life unfold in effortless beauty.
“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.)
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.
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.