Saturday, July 27, 2013
* * *
It is true, what Dogen says. I know this is true because I, I, have spent my life shuffling through other people's words. Look back through these 200 (200!) posts and you will see almost 200 epigraphs - my jumping off points. I listen to the words long written down, the songs sung in a hundred thousand hundred thousand voices and I believe I have found a thread, a through line, a sweetline, connecting them, or I connect them by the shuffling and sifting, and I see the faintest pattern emerge and I come here to tell you what I've seen. But you, my dear fartlet, my brother, my sister, all you get to see are more words for you to sift and shuffle through. They may lead you to further words, they may help along the way, the hard road down, but Dogen is right, all these words cannot reveal your true self to yourself. Only you can do that. It may be that your true self is a writer, a story teller, but the sorrow for all storytellers is this: we know we can only accompany you so far. It is up to you to complete the story.
* * *
I tell you this upon your face: the story you tell is the life you live. Think for a minute before rushing past this one. Look around your life. Look at the lives that intersect with yours. Look. What do you see? You see lives ordered around sets of ideas about how to live, about what life is, about time, about love, about death. Read the labels we attach to ourselves: male, son, brother, father, divorced, writer, Irish, youngest in the family, right-handed, liberal, middle-aged. And the others that haunt our thoughts: broke, lost, afraid, searching... It is possible to tell every possible story by the combination of labels we reside in. And those labels become prophecy. But like sifting and shuffling through other people's words, these labels cannot help you become your original self, the god who is part of the universe and the universe complete. These labels coalesce into a story, congeal into habit, harden into molds and then you are gone. Gone and having missed the chance to experience the fullness of your life.
Snap out of it. Quit playing at the edge of things. Enter the stream. Nothing bad will happen. It cannot. Here's why: when thou art that, when you cast off expectation and labels, when you are done with dichotomies, you are as you are - free, full, alive - and you experience your life as miracle, electric, pulsing and you belong to the moment, the everpresent moment you have to live. Boom. Stay attached to the labels, stay connected to either/or, stay immersed in longing and you live as a label, live balancing won and lost columns, live as a hungry ghost - never satisfied and walking past the gifts available to you. You die either way. Only one brings life.
Knowing this, how can you still stand on the shore?
* * *
But these are not truths that can be told. They cannot be written down like a set of instructions. Any set of instructions must be rejected. Even the most beautiful words are half-truths, approximations. No, this truth can only be experienced and only by you and only when you are ready to see it. This is the heart of the mystery of consciousness: our ability to choose the reality we live in. Tell one story, live one kind of life. Change your story and your life changes along with it. Choose to live without preconceived ideas about your life, your story and then you get to experience it unfolding in real time, moment by moment: exhilarated, awe-struck, fluid, alive.
* * *
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The god of writers rushing to record
The names of each and everyone who died,
Ashes impregnated with human souls
Who couldn't save each other or themselves
In never-ending wars compounded by
Oblivion. Mortal forgetfulness.
- Gjertrude Schnakenberg, "Bedtime Mahabharata"
* * *
We forget don't we? We forget and so lose our way. It isn't that we don't know how to live, but we forget to because the way is seemingly hard and there's all this oblivion surrounding us. So we forget and we pretend the new car is proof of living, that the shit shoveled our way at the places we work or the shoddy relationships we have actually tastes fine. just fine. We paper over the holes in our souls because to confront them would be to see all the time wasted, the love turned to dust and still we sail on - Everything is fine. All that could be done has been done. What more is there to do?
Here's what's more: you can remember.
* * *
The god of writers rushing to record every name of everyone who has died is a beautiful, beautiful image. In a single moment the god sees the breadth and depth of our human desiring, the dreams and sins and failures and heroic acts and the love exchanged like children sharing their delight in iridescent sea shells - passing them back and forth as secret treasure. And in that moment he sees it is too late to record all the names, to tell all the stories. He breaks off one of his tusks and uses it to write the names of all and even for a god it cannot be done. It is too much, we are too many and he has seen this vision too late. Here the god of writers broke his pen.
So who will write your name?
It falls to you, my brother. It falls to you, my sister. It was always yours to do. You've just been forgetting.
* * *
There is no meaning to life. There is the experience of it. That's its meaning - to experience it. Each of us will experience it differently. There will be things we share in common, broad categories of experience - new life, illness, motion, death - but you will know life differently than I will because your eyes, your experiences, your expectations will filter the world just for you. The road you travel is just that: yours. You cannot walk another's path and call it your life. You have to enter your life where there is no path, no road, no markings. You are the one who has to live it, you see. If you take off down the wide boulevards of religions and politics and commerce you might have a very fine, comfortable way of it, but you'll have missed the experience of living your life. Now it may be that your unique path includes religion or politics or commerce, but you cannot call it your life unless you make the decisions.
There is an idea that says: the universe created itself so it could know itself, could have the experience of being itself. The same atoms that are in the stars above us travel in our blood as well. We are the universe. We are, individually, the universe. We are part and whole at the same time. And our lives, these ashes impregnated with human souls, are the chance for the universe, for God to experience and know itself in the field of time.
Just like you and me.
We have but one life and one life won't do. Our task is not the accumulation of wealth, but the accumulation of experiencing life, our lives, the singular expression of life that is held in our name. We fuck ourselves when we forget this, when we substitute the experience of being alive for the experience our time, our culture, our society expects from us.
Yes, you are of this time and place, but, no, you are something more than this time and this place. You are the unceasing Now, the everpresent moment to live. Do not, like Ganesha, see it too late. Tell your story. Live it out. If you don't, no one else will and the universe will have lost a chance to know itself.
* * *
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Hold to the real behind the false and don't be afraid.
You must know
that the Beloved you seek is none other than you.
Hold to this truth and don't be afraid.
- Jalaluddin Rumi
* * *
There are but two ways of living out this life - either through love or through fear. Everything else is hairsplitting or variations on a theme. In the end you have to choose which way you will experience life - either through love or through fear. If you're fucked, guess which way you are doing it.
Fear operates as the idea that there isn't enough love in this world for you. Fear teaches love is conditional and finite. Our parents, broken as they were/are, taught us this - not to wound us, but because it was what they knew. Their love for us was conditional, part of the welter of responsibilities pulling at them and the only way they knew to control us was to give and withhold their love based on our behavior. Some went so far off the reservation that no matter what you did, you could not get their approval, their attention, their love. But the fault wasn't with you. It wasn't even with them. Blinded by their own fears, they did not see what they'd done and if a stranger asked them how well they did their job as a parent to you they would say, "I did my best."
You know this is true.
And what results did it bring?
Yeah, I know.
We cycle through relationships that start with great promise and end in a heap of broken-ness for the minute we say "I love you" we want to hear it back, need to hear it back, need to be validated by the saying of it. We alter our selves, our behavior to keep the crack pipe of what is passing for love lit. It ends badly - even if we stay married for a lifetime. And should love be returned to us in kind, and not its easily offered shell, we fear the day it changes for we have learned the lesson well that all love fades, becomes complacent and so again, we are defensive, looking for fault, living from fear.
And it fucks us.
And all we cry at night is "why?"
* * *
Such a ridiculous, vicious cycle.
* * *
That is how it is if you are fucked, if you have ever been fucked. You've been living from fear and scarcity and the idea that you cannot have a different kind of life because the circumstances you grew up in, the lessons you internalized have put a keeper on what you can do, on what you can be. And it is so. At least it remains that way as long as you choose to live from fear and not love. For it is a choice, my brothers and sisters, my best beloveds. It is a choice.
Think. You know it is true. You've just been afraid.
What good has your fear brought you? What benefit has it bestowed on your life? Broken relationships between you and the ones you have meant to care for? And what of your relationship to yourself? Do you even know you have one, and if so, if someone treated you the way you treat yourself would you stay? This is what fear harvests.
So, now, to the choice.
If the life you have at this moment is exactly as you would have it, stop reading. You are there. You've made it. You are exactly who you meant to be. Right, the fuck, on. But if you are reading this, odds are you know something is missing and you are tired of looking for it. So, hold to the reins of Love and don't be afraid.
* * *
There are two ways of experiencing your life - either through love or fear, or to put it another way so you don't mis-understand what is meant by love, you can either be awake or sleepwalk. If you are awake, if you can see, you will see boundaries dissolve. There will be no barrier between you and your beloved, no filters of expectation or hurt or conditions that must be met before you can give or receive love. You will simply be the other. You will recognize your soul in her soul, in his soul and the veil will drop. But don't think this is limited to romantic love and sexual expression, it becomes part of everything. It is everything and you are in it. Fear separates, creates distance, silences, chasms that cannot be bridged. Love dissolves distances, is electric, alive - like licking the business end of a D-cell battery.
But your father wasn't there. You mom was too wrapped up in her pain and you've been on the road a while now and when will it be alright? The minute you choose it to be so. The minute you forgive it all and not because this is an equation, a promise that if I say these certain words, then this wonderful thing will happen. No, man. It won't work. There is no secret, no affirmation, no fake it til you make it bullshit. It can't work because going at it like that is still living from fear. Baby, you have to love it all. Right now. As it is and forgive all those who hurt you. They are just on their journeys, their paths and they might be well off into the weeds, no doubt, no doubt, but forgive them because they are travelers just like you. You may be at a different point in your journey, walking a different road, but you are still the same as they are - just a soul making its way through time. And you have to forgive yourself for the hurt you've laid on others. You're no saint, nor should you be. That cannot be your goal. You are the goal. Being exactly who you are, unburdened by the fear, is the reason you're here. If you've burned up a lot of time, if you've been wandering for a while now I am here to tell you it is all good.
You see, the minute you hold to love and are not afraid, time won't matter. You'll be home and in the arms of your beloved.
* * *
One last thing, you are free to choose. You are free to choose to try and out wrestle pain, free to choose to try and rewind time and stop that first hurt. You are free to do so and if you do choose that I wish you well and I hope to see you again somewhere down the line. Pride and ego drive us like cattle to our slaughter. If you are in between, uncertain, wanting to let go, but don't quite know how, be gentle with yourself. Don't panic. You're almost there. When you're ready to live a different kind of life without the weight of all that hurt and frustration and pain then you'll cross that threshold because it was time to do so. If you are already living from love, leave a few breadcrumbs on the road. I am on my way.
* * *
Monday, July 8, 2013
This is not the end
- Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More
* * *
There is this: love, once released, once given, once felt, once received, once embraced sustains that which cannot be sustained - our very selves.
What else are we here for except to learn the ways this is so? In pain, we reach out to a memory of love and wonder why it has left us. In doubt we trash the idea that love exists at all. In joy we wonder how we ever lived without it. But it is only our perception of love that changes. The love itself exists as it always has: ready for us to recognize it in every corner of our lives.
The fucked do not believe this. The fucked prefer anxiety over the loss of something they cannot lose. The fucked hoard their affections as if there is a finite amount to be drawn upon. The fucked only see all that they lack and refuse to consider life is anything other than a zero-sum game.
This is why they are fucked.
Snap out of it.
* * *
But the chords of doubt ring loudly, no?
It is easy to succumb to it. It is easy to walk away rather than mend what is broken. Zero-sum thinking always leaves you with zero. The hurt we feel when a relationship is bruised, pushed to the point of breaking, is broken, is very real and is not to be ignored. The problem becomes that we include everything in that one moment of hurt - all that is good is diminished, dismissed because we decide, if A , then B and B is always giving up and in to the lie that love is fickle or unsteady or not meant for you. Brothers, sisters, it is not love that is weak, but rather our pride and ego that wound us and those we mean to love.
The way forward is direct, simple and so hard for us: trust that love cannot betray or mislead you. Only we can do that. Love, the pulse itself, has no agenda, no doubt, no history of loss. It knows only itself as bounty and balm.
* * *
I cannot tell you I have lived by these words. I have stumbled and fallen over my fears and doubts and have hurt those I love because of it: my beloved, my children, my friends. It has damaged much and yet I have seen love in every corner of my life: the scent on a pillow, a freshly dug grave, dinner made and words typed across thousands of pages. Love pervades my life, any life, and when you set aside your fears, when you forgive your frailty, when you look, just fucking look, you see the one thing that has allowed you to rise each day is love: the love of your children, your wife, your husband, your beloved, your work, your desire, your chance to mend what is broken, to rebuild what has fallen.
The song quoted above continues in part:
Love; it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
Do not doubt love.
Do not doubt your ability to give and receive it.
Do not doubt its ability to heal what has wounded you.
Do not doubt love. It is what we were made for.
* * *
Bones are made stronger at the point at which they break and heal.
The Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold is called kintsukuroi. It embraces this universal truth: things become more beautiful for having been broken and then restored.
* * *
Serve God, love me and mend
This is not the end.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Save some time for yourself
Don't let your time slip away
Or be stolen by someone else.
- John Mellencamp
* * *
There is a truth we tend to walk on by because it troubles the mind to consider: we are a finite event. This life, this consciousness, this name, this form is finite and we waste our time on useless things. I'm not talking about the smallness of mindless entertainments or the like. No, I define useless as anything that does not help you discover, reveal and live by the soul that lives inside you, waiting to emerge from its debasement, your neglect, your unwillingness to admit it exists at all. That is why you're fucked, friend. You have cut yourself off from the very thing that could save you: yourself.
Blah, blah, blah, you say.
Fuck you, I say.
This is not a game. It is time you set aside the excuses and fears that have kept you trapped in this welter of unhappiness and drift and crack open your metaphoric chest to see what is there. We pass through our days like idle shoppers - glad to acquire what catches our eye, but glad enough to window shop. We take in what what others have determined for us. We consume ideas and beliefs that others have set down as the way, the truth (or its opposite - nihilism and deconstruction) and our souls are consumed, swamped, painted over, forgotten.
And you wonder why your shit's all fucked up.
And because you brought all this crap in from the outside you have ready made excuses as to why it doesn't work out.
And you wonder why your shit's all fucked up.
You got to this unhappy, lifeless place because somewhere along the line you learned to doubt yourself, to fear your soul. The expectations and demands of those around you snuffed out that light and you let them do it. You fucking let it happen rather than risk losing approval or love or money.
What you got now?
Anytime, every time you play not to lose, when you hedge, or play it safe, you lose. You lose just that much more of your connection to yourself, to the world around you, to the weird, insistent hum of Life calling you into your life. But the analogy is weak, no? This isn't a game. This is your one chance to live and you've been hedging your bet against time's inexorable march.
* * *
Why give away our time at labor whose benefit can only be measured in dollars? Why give away our time in return for a love that flattens out to mucilage? Why not insist on work that is truly yours, or love that is electric? If you don't own you time or your name or your dreams or your soul, if you haven't taken possession of the gift you have been given and found out what it can do, then how can you possibly know that all love must fade, or that all work is unfair? You don't know what you don't know because you haven't admitted to yourself that there is something more than this.
But you know there is. You fucking know it. This is the hurt that keeps you up at night. These are the prayers you get on your knees and beg God to answer. This is the love unrequited. So, here, my friend, here's is what I have for you: when you go inside you will find a way to slip the knot of time. Not because you will become infinite, but because you will finally be able to fulfill your name and so add to the infinite. The way to get there is to save some time to dream. It is your connection to your soul and your soul is your connection to everything else. Life moves from the inside out.
Oh, and there is this, as well: you will no longer fear your death. You will be too busy living and love, electric and alive, will know your name.
* * *
Boom. Boom. Boom.