Tuesday, November 11, 2014


You know it is truly amazing that we can feel anything. That we are alive. That we can reflect. That we can know that we are alive, that we are feeling, and reflecting on that.

When I am miserable, I don't know any of these things. I am too busy being miserable.

When I am joyful, I don't know any of these things. I don't want anything to disturb my joyfulness

But sometimes, sometimes in the middle, I am feeling alive and reflective and joyful and miserable and the incredible gratefulness that comes with witnessing of all these things.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I forget who I am sometimes. I forget what I am. It's like I take these trips down all these different roads, each time a journey.

Every time I have to get to the end. You get the point where you give up, surrender, and then back away from the illusion. So I can turn again toward what's real.

It's a little like dying, getting killed. Then pulling yourself up, like a soul leaving the body, realizing who you are, what you are, coming back.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Space and Time

What if you could see the world move over thousands of years from single vantage point.

You might think it would look like videos you've seen where someone placed a camera and took a snapshot every day for a year or longer. You might image a flipcard view, like an old fashion movie. Those kinds of studies are interesting. But they create a very shallow view, mostly in terms of human impact on the environment.

What if you could really see the changes to the earth, the forest, the streams, the land, the ebb and flow of the rivers and valleys.

Don't get distracted by the rotation of the earth or the daily cycle of day and night. Those are phenomena in our experience.

No, at this level there is no day and night. The sun, moon, planets and stars are vibrating strings in the sky. There is no discontinuity. They are literally waves at this scale.

Time span changes the world.

Now ignore that fascinating effect and look again the ground. It's moving, breathing, in and out, expanding, growing, shrinking, here and there.

It is here you find the continuity that describes experience. It's now the land that lives. the forest that moves. the rivers that literally pulse like blood in the veins of larger system.

The planet itself is moving, changing, like a blob of water weightless in space, the earth bobs about, shimmering and changing shape.

The gas and dust in the space around our solar system now come alive, they are like violent weather, blowing and wearing on our local system.

Speeding up, space itself is now comes alive and and reveals a living system of activity and change.

Stars appear, shine for a while and then either explode or puff out like a flower blooming, spreading its seed.

As we speed up time, larger and larger scales of the universe come into focus.  Frozen at first, then movement, then hyperactivity, then that level disappears as micro-time of the next universe.

Can we really think that we understand what experience is at this level?

From this perspective, we bacteria appearing for a moment on a larger body.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zen And The Art Of Missing The Point

When I was 19 (attending Ga Tech in Atlanta), I found a local Buddhist (Vajrayana) study group where I went for teachings and meditation.

I had read enough up to that point to build up a set of imaginative constructs involving enlightenment, higher planes of existence, and of course "the secret meaning of life".

I 'knew' the way to truth lay within. And that meditation would enable me to unlock these secrets and claim them for myself. Was it just a matter of concentrating long and hard enough? Was it just cleansing your mind and waiting for God to appear? I was determined to find out. So I read and sampled as much as I could on Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Cabbalah, and many others I can't recall anymore.

I thought I understood what I read, eating it up, one world view after another. A spiritual orgy if you will.

Achieving enlightenment seemed to be the point. But I was particularly interested in the 'technical details' of meditation as a means to expand my consciousness, which I saw as the shortcut to enlightenment.

This was the key to my spiritual goals:
  • Experience higher realms of existence
  • Understand the meaning of life and existence.
  • Live a spiritually fulfilled and inspired life.
  • Travel the path to its ultimate purpose.
  • Help others do the same (not really, I just felt I should say that to not sound like such a selfish louse).
And in so doing:
  • Escape suffering (starting with my own).
  • Attain wisdom (impress pretty girls)
  • Become beloved by all (especially pretty girls).
It wasn't just spiritual materialism; I also wanted to live an inspired life, being the best kind of person I could be.

Yes there was karma, suffering, reincarnation, attachment, the ego, etc. But they all seemed secondary, maybe even irrelevant. After all, if you achieve ultimate consciousness, you escape all that right?

My internal translator put it all together for me; All paths were really saying the same thing. That consciousness was the only thing worth considering. Only cultural wrappers make one path appear differently to another. What doesn't fit is probably superstitious bullshit anyway. I mean, c'mon, can't you see the obviousness of it all? I understood. I knew. I relished in my keen awareness of the meaning behind all teachings. I felt superior.

Occasionally there would be full weekend meditations where you sat for 12 hours a day both days.

I started meditating with a group that practiced the practice 'coming back to the present moment'. It seemed to be the most direct route.

You Are Going To Be Disappointed
At one of these meditations, a teacher of the group visited and gave a talk at the end of the 2nd day. Amongst the many points he made, one stood out, actually jumped out at me.  He said, with a soft spoken matter of factness "you are going to be disappointed".

Huh? What was that? Going to be disappointed? About what? I mean really, it's been just the opposite! All this great stuff I was learning. It wasn't disappointing, it was exciting. And I couldn't get enough of it. So what the hell was he talking about?

Still, something about what he said or the way he said it broke my state of quiet bliss. I felt the wind come out of secret glamorous thoughts I had been harboring concerning the nature of existence and my place in the world.

Magic Powers, Impress Your Friends, Or Not
Being told you are going to be disappointed is very disappointing. So was that it? OK, I am disappointed that I probably won't astral project, read minds, have godlike wisdom and impress pretty girls. So are we done?

Follow your Breath. Be Here Now. I Got It
The instructions for meditation were pretty simple. Follow your breath. Inhale, exhale. Follow your breath. When you realize your mind has taken your attention, come back to following your breath. Don't judge or engage. Don't try to control it. Keep coming back. Follow your breath.

It is much harder than it sounds. Your mind is like a monkey on acid. At least mine was.
But, eventually I did develop a knack for remembering, coming back and starting again.

The meditation practice provided many benefits, not the least of which was the relief I felt from my mind's endless activity.

So, I did this for a while. A few months. It felt good. I thought I was making progress.

And Then..I don't got it
But inevitably, the questioning began...

OK, I get it, be here now, be in the moment. Now that I'm here, what do I do? No, I mean really, whats next? I get it. What comes after being in the moment?

I was frustrated.

I mean "what a waste of time"! Lets get this party started already. After all, I'm taking the time to sit here and do nothing for hours at a time. At least something should be happening in the arena of my mind, right? I mean that's the point right? To develop your 'spiritual powers', right?

What an idiot I was. Well, maybe idiot is the wrong word, but what childish mind I had! Philosophical and religious teachings had filled my imagination with notions of fantastic, beautiful worlds, perfect beings, absolute harmony, and total awareness. And this could be mine for only an hour a day! Count me in!

My unexamined mind wasn't ready. I was annoyed by the burden of inner issues, emotional imbalances, endless negative judgements, anger, and desire. I couldn't imagine how I would ever find enlightenment when I had so many distractions!

Fake it until you fool yourself
I couldn't have imagined what really was being asked of the student. To not only practice a meditative discipline, but to actually change the way you thought, the way you feel, and the way you behave in the world.

Oh not directly. Rarely are their instructions so specific, although one can easily mis-interpret spiritual guidance with rules and regulations.

I struggled for years with what I thought was a better way of living against what I actually felt, thought and  ultimately did. I rationalized this with adage "fake it until you make it".  That really only helps you to fool others (and yourself as well) that you have actually changed, that you are making progress.

But what about what's really going on inside? Oh that. Well don't tell anybody, it would be too embarrassing, right?  Right.

When The Fruit Is Ripe, It Kinda Messy
It took years for me to come to grips with certain elements of my mind and heart.

Since that time in Atlanta, I kept the habit of 'remembering myself' several times a day.  Coming back to awareness. Coming home, being here now. To begin again.

But I think the mental and emotional forces which played out in my life had a schedule of their own. Not that it was out of my control, or that I wasn't responsible.  Its just that I wasn't ready for certain issues, until other issues had been resolved or had just exhausted themselves.

I had read accounts of people who had gone though years of therapy and had reflected upon how they weren't able to come to peace with elements of their lives, until other aspects had been dealt with.  And that once those other aspects were resolved, what they had been searching for, but unable to achieve, then became attainable, sometimes effortlessly.

I remember when I had read those kinds of things I would feel some frustration. But, I don't wanna wait until 'it's' ready. I'm ready now. Lets get to it!

Ah, but that's part of the problem isn't it. Wanting to skip over the 'small' stuff, to get to the 'main' event.

Facing Disappointment
Reflecting on my experiences over the years I can see how holding on to particular ideas, concepts, feelings and desires are the very thing which gets in the way.

It was only when I was able to internally face myself, be deeply honest about who I thought I was, how I really behaved in life, and what I actually did, vs what I imagined.

For all of these things, I was able to come face to face with the problem. -Me- being attached to ideas, often fanciful, about who and what I am. Living inside a model of the world vs living in the world.

When I would go through these periods of deep self evaluation, and face what were obviously self indulgences, I would feel real disappointment as I discarded naive notions and feelings. It was like turning to face a different direction. The old is no longer being engaged.

I remember actually feeling more sober, as if my feet were just a little closer to the ground.

Reaching For The Ground
It has been 25 years since that disappointment in Atlanta.
But I think I now understand what that means, and that's its actually not a bad thing. Its just a process of coming back, coming home, being here now. So we can begin again.

We The Egos
Still, I often catch myself thinking "OK what's next. C'mon, I've made all this progress, what do I do now?".


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Tyranny of Self Discipline

If you temper yourself to encounter the aspects within you that tend to be rebellious, narcissist and immature, it may be good to be on guard for situations which support this goodness but aren't necessarily good for you.

I am speaking of unquestioning obedience to a spiritual guide or master. I have seen situations where western people, in their deeply authentic search for spiritual knowledge and grace, accept roles where they must completely comply with their spiritual teachers guidance. Now generally this is done benevolently and for the good of the student. However, not always. And it is the cases which cross over, in which the need to adhere to the rule for the benefit of the discipline it provides, can also be opportunities for subtle forms of abuse and victimization.

The challenge is to maintain enough common sense awareness that would naturally defend against such situations. The risk is to be so enamored and glamorized by the rule, that you don't trust yourself, or that you have illusions that unconscious total surrender provides some secret or hidden benefits. This is a false value that must be understood rightly.

A seeker's consideration should always lead him or her to the point to standing up, throwing off the shadows of subtle glamour and false ideas.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Sound Of One Hand Scratching

I find myself in many different mental states over the day and across the week. From centered, mindful, peaceful, quiescent times, to aggravated, scattered, mind numbingly frustrating times. They all have particular characteristics that I think are worth exploring and describing.

Radio Head
Radio head is the state where I am perennially running some mind bending tune through my mind. Its a state that comes and goes, but sometimes stays for days and even weeks. When this happens, I am in a supreme state if shit.

Monkeys on Acid
Monkeys on Acid is the worst state of mind that I experience. Its the typically out of control, cant find my way back home, mode where every act of mental alertness designed to bring a more calm and comfortable state of mind, just brings more chaos as the efforts are actually just short applications of mental censors and heavy handedness.

Totally Norbal
My usual state of mind. Sort of here. One foot somewhere else.

Look But Don't Touch
An epherial (made up word that feels like what this is) state of mind, where I have deep and penetrating insight, with metaphorical references that quickly emerge and build tantalizing models of insight and wisdom. Very fragile and rarely able to bring any of it back.

Flowin In The Wind
Flowing in the wind is a convergent state where I am not bothered at all with extraneous thoughts ideas or disturbances both from within and without. Typically I am watching or being the witness to something, but in such a tight flow that I don't experience the typically watching the watcher kind of mindfulness.

I find this state of mind very nourishing and am glad when I find myself in it.

One moment one mind
One of the highest states I experience, usually after waking up from a dream where I remember the dream and am recollecting to my wife. There is a such a calmness in my demeanor, no mental racing whatsoever,

Also, I trust my mind such that as I describe what my experience was, I don't try to rush ahead for fear of forgetting it. Its all right there. And it comes out simply but with a grace and presence that adds the feeling of authentic depth to the moment.

Sadly, it only lasts a few minutes.

Sipping The Light
The highest peaks I have ever experienced, where I have the feeling of things being granted to me. Often it is accompanied by a calm but spectacular insight, usually with a kind of inner vision and story telling quality.

I have experienced this only a few times, each time lasting a few hours to half a day or more, and has always been life changing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I have a Doubt

I have a nagging doubt that everything I think, everything I imagine, everything that I am and can be is just a complex bio-chemical interaction of organic molecules and energy.

That, all that is, perceived, dreamt, experienced, pain and pleasure felt, is but a transient flitter of conscious experience that will pass as quickly as it came.

Yet at the bottom most reaches of my doubt, lies the feeling of experience, the essential-ness of it, the need for something to exist, just a bit more, just a little longer.

I have a doubt, and it is knawing at me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Daily Dose

More and more I am realizing how much I indulge in glamorous thinking. In almost every corner of my mind, its like layer of fat that covers everything. We are so used to and for the most part aren't conscious of it.

My process is something like this..

Start thinking about something.
Flit from thought to thought until it hits me...
Wait a minute... I am flitting from thought to thought!
Thank god I caught myself.
Relax in the awareness of ones self.
Consider the process of catching yourself on a runaway train.
Mild self congratulations for being aware.
Indulge in self aggrandizing positive thoughts.
Catch yourself indulging in self aggrandizing positive thoughts.
Repent, punish and take a more serious attitude.
Feel the relief of handling a small existential crisis.
Indulge in more more self aggrandizing positive thoughts.
Catch yourself once more.

Repeat until totally disgusted.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Calling The Wild Pendulum

There are times when I feel especially close to things. Its as if I am actually more in touch, more intimate with everything. Its a feeling of being absolutely present inside. As if the things which separate you or make you feel separate, fall away.

Strangely, thinking about this state and writing about it doesn't help me towards feeling that state of mind. Its only when I manage to throw off the ever present analytical part of my mind, can I take these steps and feel closer to the world in the most intimate way.

But its not just not thinking about things either. Its a real movement internally. Its something that feels like 'relaxing into' but not in an unconscious way. I feel more conscious in these moments than ever. I also feel absolutely naked in my sense of being completely exposed and intimately in touch.

I experience these moments periodically. Interestingly, I find it somewhat elusive, and only rarely can invoke it at will. Its as if the wild pendulum swings and occasionally hits the spot just right.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holy Shit

I believe in the cosmic significance of our existence.

I believe I am sacred and holy, and that I am a part of god, and that I exist as a spark of its essence, learning and gaining experience so that god can know itself.

I also believe there is no god, and that our existence is meaningless and insignificant.

I also believe that we have evolved in a mechanistic biological evolutionary sociobiological system. and that what we think of as thinking, experience and the soul, is but a aspect of the system in which we exist.

I believe all of these things, at the same time.

Holy Shit

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that consciousness might be an inconsequential aspect of a living organisms.

I don't say that because I think consciousness and/or experience doesn't matter. Clearly it does.

Whether you value the experience of consciousness or not, it is an inescapable fact that it serves the species. It enhances the ability for the organism to survive.

Whether the existential aspects of consciousness reflect some other realities of existence really cannot be known. Or maybe it can. I just don't know.

I can imagine how sentience favors survival. But does it reveal a numinous existence?

Can we understand these qualities without either diminishing them to un-relegated biological functions, or elevating them to cosmic significance and destiny?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Leaving The Ground

I realize that all the activity, all the effort, all the focus on the state of mind, the activity of thinking, the calming of the mind, the being aware of the process, that all of this is preliminary.

That all of this is just the most basic preparation for other things. I don't even pretend to know. I imagine deeper experiences. I tend to imagine more comfortable experiences. And a more desirable waking life.

I cant help but notice that all of the commotion about consciousness is really focused on escaping much of the misery, uncomfortableness and undesirable parts of our daily lives.

Clearly, this is only preparation. But preparation for what? And we can guess all we want, but in truth we don't know. And even when we have references from people who happen to have gone beyond the daily struggle of simply developing a meditative state of mind. It varies so much in what they report. And tends to be connected to whatever path they happen to have assigned themselves to. And is many times subject to interpretation in the context of that path. Or the particular practice of that path.

That is difficult to differentiate or distill out the aspects of that which are meaningful, and true for everyone (if that is even a reasonable assumption to make).

We like to say that all paths ultimately lead to one path but we really don't know what that is. Its probably just a guess anyway. Maybe a good one.

It sounds or hints of something true, its seems logically true, in a weirdly intuitive fashion, which is kind of ironic in its own right. But there is nothing explicitly requiring that. We just tend to assume that all things ultimately come together in some common way that we can then explain how one thing is simply the instantiation of some more generic thing.

I want to talk about the difficulty in choosing or finding your path. Because I have had terrible difficulty with this all my life. I suppose that makes me somewhat qualified to talk about it, because it is in more or less the center of my struggle, to come to grips with my own consciousness from day to day and moment to moment.To explore my experience, and to grow as I think I want to. As I imagine I want to, into a higher being. I don't think that is very well stated.

I am guessing that there is nothing special about our evolutionary state, in that whatever progress we make is incremental to what our fore bearers may have made. And that there is no great leap, and also, no step too small to take.

We just all find ourselves at one particular point, lost and somewhat confused (me anyway). And imagine that there is some greater, freer clearer less fettered path awaiting us if we can just get our shit together and stop distracting ourselves from the essential aspects of our own lives.

So getting back to choosing a path, I cant help but think that the difficulties that I have had certainly related to whatever deeper issues I have with being connected to things, with making commitments etc. Maybe its fear of making mistakes (so don't do anything!) or just getting lost in the sauce of some path, in that it may bring you along the way but it will also skew your perception by the whatever apparatus surrounds it.

This may be rationalization, may be inevitable, but still I resist it.
So I have skimmed around a lot, taking up study in several different paths. Always when I get to the point where what I perceive is a ritualistic change in my life is required, I bow out.

Yet those changes cannot be insignificant in what they mean for a person to change their life. I am searching for a way that doesn't connect me to something I can identify as 'out there' and as a 'member of', just because that's what they call themselves.

I do think that the difficulty I have had can work for me. I think it defines a perspective of non-participation, yet with the very strong impulse to proceed. In my own experience, to a more enlightened viewpoint, to achieve a deeper understanding of my life and life in general. To experience others in a deeper fashion, at least in a fashion that is less peppered with the bits of uncomfortableness which I tend to feel.

Its a way to finally understand oneself in a simple form of just being comfortable with oneself and with others. To come to understand things through reflection and focus of consciousness.

The problem with all of this is that at a certain point you have to leave the ground. You have to establish certain things in your daily life that end the struggles which make up most of your daily life. Struggles like calming your mind, struggles like watching your thoughts.

I think the practice of that has to be comfortably understood and comfortable in its own way, before these other things can happen, because the struggle with this is so persistent in the daily life, that until its approached, I cannot imagine how you can really make any progress except perhaps in the one off-ness of the awakenings we experience throughout our lives.

Swimming Into Consicousness - Part II

So what are those qualities that I remember in that moment of coming back?

One of them is a kind of shrinking back to the boundaries of the body and mind and gaining orientation from the standpoint of, I guess I would call the 'seat of perspective'.

It is somewhere in back of the third eye on top, like being on top of the hill. and its perspective is above the eyes and behind them.

It has to do with coming back to the source or the seat. And that feels like the most fundamental point or the most fundamental character or attribute of this moment, the feeling of 'coming home', with a perspective such that the orientation of the mind is 'back to this point', back to 'what do I do', 'what do I remember', what's going on here? Not thinking anything in particular but to be in the perspective of thoughts themselves.

One of the earmarks of this is the cessation of activity, conjoined with a kind of of emotive relief that comes from an out breath or exhale, sitting down, or just coming to rest.

Swimming Into Consciousness - Part I

I keep coming back to the moment of self-remembering. Realizing that I've been away from the moment, away from conscious of being conscious.

And I find that the moments when I come back are small celebrations for having come home and taken a moment to restock, reflect and remember myself.

Unfortunately these moments are very short, although I do try to cultivate the more important aspects of what it means to be conscious when they occur.

One of them being the quality of being conscious in all that we do. And being aware of ones thoughts as things are happening on a level which is independent of them. That's not so say not being immersed in what is happening, but to have a reflective quality that is watching all the time. And not just in the sense of watching, but in the sense of becoming familiar with that process and recognizing what is happening when it is.

What I find most astonishing is that there are moments when I am watching my thoughts and I suddenly realize that I am not watching my thoughts, I am watching something else. I am trying to watch my thoughts, and I will realize that I am thinking something entirely different from what I think I am watching. The whole episode escapes me until the moment of its conclusion, then I realize 'wait' I was just thinking about such and such and I did not have any consciousness of that in the last few moments. I thought I was being conscious of something else.

This is, I think, one of the points of the exercise. And one of the insights we've got to bring into other areas of our experience of swimming into consciousness.

It's a very odd thing to realize that you are not conscious at all. And that what you think is only a small part of what you actually are, and there are things going on right next to you in your own mind that are not in your conscious mind.

This is disconcerting as well as enlightening.

So, in these moments when I do come back to myself and I realize (its definitely on differently levels each time, its not always at the same depth. some are more far reaching than others) they all have the quality of remembering and remembering to remember. and rejoicing in that moment of remembering.

It is like coming up for air after swimming in the unconscious for a long time.