Thursday, June 30, 2011

Belief is
the wall of separation
between church and reality.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Truth About Heaven

Sitting still this morning, leaving my thoughts alone, following the river of my breath to the place within where that beautiful shining peace reigns supreme, it became obvious:

Heaven is not someplace to go.

Heaven is what remains 
when everything else is gone.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

War and Peace

What an inappropriate pairing.
As with disease and health, they sound like opposites, but
one is a result of something, and the other is a state of being.
Like darkness and light, the two have no knowledge of one another—no real relationship. War happens when human beings are too ignorant to coexist peacefully; they’re at war with themselves, and have only unrest to express. Oddly, war arises from a lack of peace, but peace does not arise 
from a lack of war. It’s totally independent.

Peace is in a category all by itself. 

~  From "Wise Cracks"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Breath-Bliss Connection

Sometimes this happens spontaneously. 
Sometimes a little effort is needed. 
Sometimes it seems impossible.
Always, even if it takes sitting still a long time, I find my way to freedom.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clash of the Titans

God is great.    Sex is great.

Both sayings may be trueeven profoundbut when spoken, they carry unequal degrees of fervor, as well as in meaning of the word “great.”

In Arabic alone, possibly a billion human beings utter the first saying at least once a day, if not five or more. Including all languages, the number may be much greater than that. God knows how many utter the second, or at least think it to themselves.

Interesting, is it not, that almost everyone in the world above the age of puberty agrees on the second, while great arguments ensue constantly over first? I would venture to say that this is because, owing to direct experience versus allegiance to a belief, those who utter the second have a clear understanding of what they’re referring to, unlike those who utter the first. 

As far as I know, no one has ever exclaimed the second as a rallying cry in support of belligerent activity, or in triumphant celebration of a public execution by hanging, stoning or beheading. No one uses the second in connection with attitudes of hatred, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia or xenophobia. 

How very odd, that so much guilt and shame surrounds the very natural activity that we all generally agree is great and worth pursuingindeed is crucial to the survival of our specieswhile there is so much reverence and praise associated with something people know virtually nothing about, yet are willing to kill and die for.


Friday, June 10, 2011


I remember reading a scholarly discussion of the "sermon on the mount" back in the mid-seventies, which made reference to the words in Aramaic that Jesus would have used. The New Testament people read today has been so—to put it mildly—drastically altered, that most of his original meaning and intent have been lost. Even the word "prayer," which would seem pretty fundamental, is no longer used as Jesus used it (according to that scholar of Aramaic, whose name, sadly, I have forgotten).

He explained that the Aramaic word Jesus used for prayer, "zlotha," meant "to cast one's net." The intent there had nothing in common with the pleading associated with religious notions of prayer. Rather, it indicated setting an intention of openness, an inner stillness, in order to commune with the divine.  It was not about asking for something—least of all the outcome of an illness, war, or sporting event—but about becoming receptive to what is already present.

I’m not religious, so why is any of this important, let alone interesting to me? There is something universal that drives all human beings, a profound and powerful thirst.

Religion—in its purest form—is an external effort to give that thirst expression.  I see an underlying flaw with the religious approach, however: what we thirst for is not external, but internal. We can talk about the object of that thirst, imagine a little about what it might be, perhaps agree on an abritrary definition of it, even sign hymns in praise of it, but unless the thirst itself is addressed, unvarnished and unmitigated, none of these activities bring us even close to quenching it.

Belief is at best unhelpful, because it is, in effect, a patch that covers the gap of ignorance, an artificial replacement for actual knowing. It's like a wall that separates a person from the discomfort of not knowing—an anesthetic whose sole function is to dull the craving we have to finally know the “Truth.”  The one that sets you free. Ultimately, belief is the cruelest kind of thief, because it makes us think we have found what we’ve been looking for. It lets us assume we can relax and call off the search. But it doesn’t really work, because belief is not the authentic peace of knowing; it’s only a pacifier that temporarily deafens us to the cry of the heart. And we have so little time to find what we genuinely yearn for.

Thirst is my best friend. It's far too real to be institutionalized, made into a slogan, or reduced to a belief system. I’ve come to understand that I must never ignore it, cover it up, or misplace it. I need to fully acknowledge it and admire it as the wonderful ally it is. Most of all, I need to implicitly trust and follow it, wherever it wants me to go. It’s not foreign; it’s the longing of my own heart. It's beautiful, a sublime emptiness that absolutely must be fulfilled. Without it, I would be truly lost. Again and again, it has taken me to that stillness within where peace reveals itself to be both still and dynamic, pulsing with pure joy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Permanence / Impermanence

Sobering, is it not, when you stop for a moment and realize the impermanence of all things. We won'tI hopesee it in our lifetime, but the sun itself is slowly burning out; just yesterday, I watched a video clip of a massive explosion on the sun's surface. I've read that scientists expect its final gasp will be a flare of such magnitude that it will consume the entire solar system. Everything on earth will turn to ash, return to dust. All the monuments to greatness, all the collections of human accomplishment, all of our silly, petty arguments, struggles, and perceived distinctions, even the memory of our existence will one day be gone without a trace. 

The mere recognition of this fact is powerful: it has the potential to shake us loose from our preoccupations. It might enable us to stop for a change, and enjoy the fabulous beauty of each momenteach breathas the perfect divine blessing that it is. 

The meaning of life, the inherent purpose, the fulfillment of life itself is not in any of our achievements or possessions, or even our relationships. It is in one simple miracle, in fact the only miracle that matters: Life, the recurring gift of our breath. Utterly unlikely, implausible, even impossible, yet impeccably constant, as long as we live. The immortal, ensconced and living in the mortal. The source of love, and joy, and wisdom, and our ability to perceive beauty—to appreciate it, be moved by it, and feel grateful. The one indestructible supreme existence that can never be lost, inside each living creature. And only human beings are capable of discovering this, understanding this, directly experiencing this. 

How lucky does that make us?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shortly after 9/11, I was wondering what I might say to Osama bin Laden if I somehow got a chance to reason with him. Surely every human being has a point of kinship with every other human being, so what could I say, briefly, to connect? This is what I came up with. I had a dream a couple of weeks ago, in which I met the young Osama (before he became the man who would justify murder in religious terms), and spoke these words to him--sort of a dream come true, in a dream. We then had a discussion which I no longer recall, but I do remember that he understood what I was saying. The human heart is like that. Especially now that he's dead, it's much less a bit of advice for him than an excellent note to myself.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

even on my worst days
body a mass of aches
mind a thicket of worry
my way impossible to see
still inside I’ve got
this urgent bursting urge
to elevate and leap and
flee it all and fly and
be myself
the self I really am
and yes beyond a doubt
when I can only stop
just feel it calling
let it seize me up
I’m so gone
a world away
from good days
and bad days

Saturday, June 4, 2011

We humans have a powerful tendency to remain ignorant of reality unless something dramatic happens that shakes us. Even then, our vision tends to be short-lived. The only antidote to this condition is to persist in trying to wake up, stay awake, and see what we’ve been missing. In this struggle for consciousness, it's not so much what we've missed that matters; it's the recognition that we've been asleep without realizing it.