Monday, February 28, 2011



Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I'm not where I started!

And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you too decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.

Halleluiah, I'm sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Our youngest grandson, Ben, reminds us everyday that we are all born into this world full of joy, open-hearted and loving everything. Just look at the joy in this boy's smile! It's easy to be stuck in the daily trials and tribulations, but take a moment to remember how wondrous the world really is and how precious this life of ours is.

Some days we truly do have wings ~ Halleluiah!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Absolute Truth

Do realize that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, 
but the dreams flow before you, and you are the immutable witness. 
No happening affects your real being - that is the absolute truth. 

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta, the beloved Indian teacher of Advaita (Nondualism), is considered to be the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi. According to Nisargadatta the purpose of life is to know who you are. He taught the "direct way of knowing," sometimes referred to as the bird's way. This method of Self-knowledge is reached much like a bird flying easily from branch to branch, instead of crawling like an ant up the tree. 

He suggested we use our mind to break from the unreal to the real, from the mind's false indentification with the ego, simply by listening to and continuously repeating what is said in Advaita, knowing...

 "You are already That."

Friday, February 25, 2011


I awoke this morning to another snowfall. It is soft, yet heavy and reminds me that winter is drawing to a close. So, I welcome the snow knowing everything comes and goes. Each moment is perfect just as it is...

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; 
wait without love,
for love would be love for the wrong thing; 
there is yet faith
but the faith and the love and the hope 
are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought.
So the darkness shall be the light, and the 
stillness the dancing.
~ T.S. Eliot ~

Monday, February 21, 2011

Your Deepest Presence

umi Mevlana.jpg

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.

Rumi lived from 1207-1273; that's a long time ago.  Amazingly his poetry is just as easy to relate to in 2011 as it was then. He was a prolific writer and you could probably read his poetry everyday for a lifetime and not finish it all!

There are so many poems that touch me deeply, but I'm choosing this today because it speaks to this present moment. The stark reality of impermanence; the ebb and flow of experience; the gentle reminder to let go of both the joy and the grief; the deep comfort that all is well. 

Everything balanced and coordinated as bird wings...

Monday, February 7, 2011


If this me is not I, then
who am I?
If I am not the one who speaks, then
who does?
If this me is only a robe then
who is
the one I am covering?

- Rumi, translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi, from Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved, posted to Sunlight

When I first heard the analogy of the body being like clothes, it seemed very strange. I really identified with my body/mind. I believed this was who I was. But when the idea began to penetrate the layers of my mind, I recognized the impermanence of all objects. Though I can't convince anyone with words, I do say that the most important journey to take is the one that leads inward. Each of us will travel to these inner dimensions in order to find the truth of who we are. 

Always Shining

The Sun is always shining whether we can see it or not.  More than that, it shines without prejudice, radiating its life-giving rays equally to everything. The Sun just is; there's no effort, no goal, no planning, no judgment. We are like that, too. Our essence is vast openness, pure awareness.

"This pure mind... shines forever with the radiance of its own perfection. But most people are not aware of it, and think that mind is just the faculty that sees, hears, feels, and knows. Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing, they don't perceive the radiance of the source. If they could eliminate all conceptual thinking, this source would appear, like the sun rising..."

Huang-po was a Chinese Zen Master and teacher who lived in the 9th century. He taught that enlightenment could be achieved by a silent mind and putting an end to conceptual thinking. In the tradition of the non-dual teachings, direct experience is the source of truth. If you can describe it, it's not it. If you can understand it with the mind, it's not it. So simply BE. Allow each moment to unfold. Let go of all preceived notions of who you think you are and what you believe life to be. Move into the direct experience of BEing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Three Things

The Buddha taught there are three characteristics that all human beings share:
  • Impermanence 
  • Egolessness  
  • Suffering 
If we can recognize these in our lives, we can learn to let go, to soften into things as they are. As we pay attention to the sensations in the body, the flow of emotions and thoughts through the mind, and the changing situations of our everyday lives, we come to know impermanence. As we recognize the self behind the role we play, we see how ego is a creation of the mind. As we notice how we cling to things we want and push away what we don't want, our suffering dissolves and we simply experience life as it is.

Life is constantly changing! It's unpredictable and out of our control. We know that everything changes, even to the cells of our body. But emotionally we have a deep-seated need to hold on to what we think is permanent. Often it doesn't matter whether we are enjoying the situation or not. We just don't want to change. The teachings give us permission to relax into the obvious truth of change. There's comfort in knowing that all things change, that no one is immune to impermanence.

Egolessness is sometimes called no-self. But this is misleading, we do not really disappear when we let go of the rigid idea that we are solid and separate from each other. The mind creates ego in order to try to control life, to feel this false sense of security. Egolessness gives us permission to be comfortable with the idea of not knowing, of not needing to control. Pema Chodron says, "In the most ordinary terms, egolessness is a flexible identity." Egolessness reminds us that each moment is unique and fresh.

If we can detach from the ego, from the roles we play in everyday life, if we can know that we are not our body, mind, or roles, we can stay open and curious about our beliefs. Chodron believes the Buddha would tell us the very best use of our lives as humans is to be open and curious, watching as layers of beliefs and assumptions dissolve away.

The third characteristic is suffering or dissatisfaction. Basically, we suffer because of three misunderstandings. First, we believe that we should be able to understand everything, that life is predictable; and because it's not, we suffer. Second, we proceed as if we are a separate, fixed identity and this brings suffering. Third, we mistake what brings suffering for what brings happiness and remain stuck in patterns that continue the suffering.

Our being is actually pure openness, the experience of awe, surprise, and wonder in each moment. As our awareness moves more and more into this openness, we dissolve into Being.  It becomes natural, effortless to accept everything just as it is.