Welcome to the Space that always is…

Compassion is not a Label

This month, October, marks 14 years as an ‘official’ end of life care provider. In truth, we are all end of life care providers but we don’t know it. Each of these bodies is dying every moment, every day. All the forms are dying and being reborn- over and over it goes. As my current ‘end of life’ client-friend Jack, aged 92, likes to remind me (besides: ‘There is no such thing as time’ -which is true and though I prefer Jack’s presence and storytelling, this great article covers this topic well):


Jack says:

“I know where I’m going. I’ll see you when you get there.” Then we laugh together, realizing that ‘there’ is – in reality- HERE and NOW.

Death is a great paradox because, in truth, no one dies.

‘That does not mean we don’t care or show compassion during this very short sojourn on planet earth. I have experienced  much while caring for those in their last days of human-form existence . When someone is dying we don’t need to know what they are dying from in order to show that we care. We don’t need to box the illness or disease process. It does not really matter what the signs and symptoms are, or whether the details of the deterioration process has a label like cancer, kidney failure, or heart disease.

This holds true for someone with a chronic illness, which may or may not be immediately ‘life-threatening’. Labels are tied to our beliefs. If someone is sick with cancer—-our belief often sounds like this:

‘There is a really good chance they are dying’ or we play the other side and state: ‘They can beat this thing’—so instantly we project importance to their condition-usually based on our own fear of death.  At times, hearing of someone’s dis-ease can spur compassion and genuine caring but more often our pity, judgement. and condemnation.

On the other hand, if someone has been diagnosed with lyme disease or an auto-immune disease,  generally misunderstood conditions with a difficult to distinguish diagnosis, we tend to think:

“Well at least they don’t have cancer.” As if their condition is not real, life-altering or somehow has less impact on one’s life. For instance, if it has been discovered that one has heavy metal poisoning, a rotting root canal, or parasites –the actual root physical causative agents behind so many ‘false labels’, most Americans do not believe these toxins are actually causing debilitation. It is a great irony. Instead, more often, we accept the indoctrinated label–Alzheimer’s disease or Crohn’s disease-labels which signify the particular body part involved, like the brain or intestines. The root toxin in both of these conditions, Crohn’s and Alzheimers are usually never identified or treated properly.

Often when someone is manifesting signs and symptoms of a chronic illness and no diagnostic label has been given,  even though they are deeply debilitated, things can get really murky.

We are also likely to say, mostly to ourselves:

“Well, they are just emotionally weak. If I had what they had, I would do such and such and be perfectly healthy in a matter of days.” I use to have those thoughts until the Universe escorted me through a chronic illness.

And when we hold on to any belief, we exit the heart, the one place where compassion and love thrive.

During the most challenging and debilitating phase of a chronic illness transformation which I underwent beginning in 2008, Qi (Chi) Gong was one of the few physical activities possible. The simple movements helped me release stuck energy patterns. I would practice a medical qi gong style suitable for beginners known as ‘12 treasures’- for 5 minutes each day. It was all I could muster at the time.

The 12 treasures were part of the introductory phase of the Qi Gong taught by Medical Qi Gong Master Bingkun Hu, who has practiced for over 50 years. Master Hu studied with grandmaster Yang Mei-jun, who died at age 106. Master Hu is over 80 years old and one of the few Masters who knows the complete Wild Goose Qi Gong System. Master Hu has ‘passed on’ much wisdom through his many students.

Amanda Stiler-Kennett is one of them. Amanda has practiced Qi Gong for the last 10 years. She is also a certified Jin Shin Jyutsu healing arts practitioner who has attended many long silent meditation retreats over the last 20 years. When someone has basked in silence that much, they carry a vibration of stillness. Lineage mixed with Silence is a potent elixir that infuses Amanda’s Qi Gong classes.

Empowerment via a lineage is highly esteemed in the Eastern-based healing arts. Lineage refers to a living-link to all of those who have practiced before. These transmission links may go back thousands of years.

Qi Gong is a revered, holistic energy system that cultivates not only longevity and bodily health but has the ability to awaken the dormant seed of spiritual realization inside the heart. It invokes self-healing and soul-level renewal which can restore kindness and love to the areas in one’s life that have fallen out of harmony.

In China, according to Luke Chan, a couple of decades back there was a place simply known as ‘The Center’. It was the world’s largest Medicineless Hospital. The Center, formally known as- Huaxia Zhineng Qigong Clinic & Training Center was founded by Dr. Pang a medical Qi Gong Master. The Center utilized love of the life force, exercises and a particular Qi Gong style called Chilel which emphasized strong belief that the life force can heal, synchronized group healing, and Chi cultivation exercises. The Center was a non-profit formed in 1988 (and closed for political reasons in 2001) and during that period it treated nearly 200 different types of disease labels, including: diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, severe depression, paralysis, systemic lupus and cancer. The overall success rate was an astounding 95%.

I connected with Amanda, first through silent meditation daylong retreats which she co-led with her husband Jay. After lunch, during these silent daylongs, Amanda would lead our group through a 30 minute Qi Gong healing. These sessions were timeless as well as invigorating and relaxing.

Wu Wei is well-known as a Chinese and Buddhist tenet, which can be translated as: ‘doing, not doing’ or ‘action of non-action’. It refers to effortless movements which come about spontaneously when one is ‘in the flow’ or ‘no mind’. Wu Wei, often used in marshal art circles, is a beautiful way to describe Qi Gong. Many hatha yoga classes in the West, though they can be potent, may lead one into the realm of mind, where appearances or the postural forms become the central focus. Coming from a background steeped in a hatha yoga, initially Qi Gong seemed ineffectual, as if nothing was happening. Naturally Qi Gong eliminates the ‘doer’ from the practice.

Qi Gong is intrinsically set up to be a bridge between form and formless (as with true hatha yoga). Simultaneously, in Qi Gong, one disassociates from ‘me’ as a body and yet is even more fully embodied as the living spirit. It’s a great paradox, the yin and yang meeting point. The Buddhist refer to this quality as: equanimity. Those trained in Western terms might call it: ‘the balance point’.

Amanda calls her Qi Gong synthesis Wild Heart Qi Gong, an appropriate name, for she is a woman who embodies deep compassion and tenderness. Amanda leads her classes with gentle direction, pointing one back to their essential nature as the life force itself. This quiets the mind and allows a direct experience of: the incredible paradox of embodied formlessness.

The flowing movements of Qi Gong are potent and well-suited for anyone wishing to embrace their true nature, ideal for those recovering from chronic illness, injury rehabilitation or individuals in the later stages of life. Kids love Qi Gong too, if you keep the sessions short. Intuitively children feel the inherent grace of the practice especially when they see mom or dad becoming more emotionally open and available. Patience and kindness deepen with Qi Gong.

*Amanda, who teaches classes in the Santa Cruz area, is currently at a silent retreat until August 22nd but you can fill her email inbox at: amandaring@gmail.com.

When I was 4 years old (until age 10) our family lived in southwest San Jose. California. This was the mid to late 1960’s. At that time, Santa Clara County was still considered one of the most fertile valleys in the world. Fruit groves were everywhere; wildlife and healthy ecosystems flourished. This all changed quickly as the 1970’s and 80’s arrived. The soil, once black and rich became contaminated with toxic chemical residues as pollutants infiltrated the region. The fertility of technology and greed replaced the natural; the countryside transformed into the Silicon Valley.

In those days my dad worked for the tech giant IBM and on weekends and week day evenings, he created the best lawn in the area. In fact, dad’s entire yard was the envy of the neighborhood. His lawn-edger, produced circa 1950, was a ramshackle device requiring physical dexterity and strength. Dad manually mowed the lawn with an even more archaic push mower, the original blades needed to be hand sharpened weekly. Dad enjoyed working in the yard though he was not a fan of weeding.

When we moved into redwood trees just north of Scotts Valley, yard maintenance changed. Dad still had a small lawn to care for but beginning in 1974, hand weeding ended. A modern alternative herbicide arrived. It promised to ease the strain of weeding while being non-toxic to the environment. This new herbicidal invention was called Roundup. A stealth bomb had been dropped on us without a sound but its impact was atomic.

I thought nothing of dad applying one of the early versions of the increasingly popular Roundup around the house and yard. In a world driven by the next quick fix, Roundup was the weed king, promising to destroy weeds fast while you relaxed and watched TV. One no longer needed to touch the soil, perspire or even get dirty.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned the power inherent in a living ecosystem, like a vegetable garden. It’s healing to touch an organic earthen soil that has not been contaminated by chemical poisons. Putting my hands into the soil, I became part of the dynamic life inside this microcosmic environment. As a practicing massage therapist, I found that placing my hands into the earth was no less sacred than touching another human being or animal. The Earth Mother feeds and sustains all forms. The relish of one day consuming the bounty of simple food grown in your own garden was equally appealing.

Chemical herbicidal research started in the early 20th century. During the Second World War these early ‘products’ were originally designed as biological warfare agents.

Roundup was designed by Monsanto Company. Monsanto, for those who may not be familiar, began about 1900 as a chemical company which created saccharin (an artificial sweetener and known carcinogen linked to cancer) for Coca Cola. Monsanto has been exposed in several documentaries: The Future of Food, The World According to Monsanto, and Sweet Misery: A poisoned world.

Monsanto is an agricultural biotechnology company that claims to be saving the world with their GMO seeds. This business conglomerate is responsible for chemically poisoning the planet in myriad ways: herbicides (DDT, Agent Orange), through its pharmaceutical wing (attempting to crack the genetic code and takeover of the world seed market), and poisonous food additives, like Nutrasweet (a known neurotoxin).

In the 1930’s Monsanto bought the chemical company that invented PCB’s (toxic chemical compound) and disseminated these toxins all over the world, leading to wide scale industrial-chemical contamination, now linked to many diseases.

Monsanto has monopolized the world seed market because their Roundup chemical has been sprayed all over the world creating genetically modified seed strains which Monsanto now claims ‘patent ownership’ of. Crops sprayed with Roundup then contaminate nearby seed beds which are then claimed by Monsanto via patent. Monsanto continues to sue farmers in India (and elsewhere) creating a wild scale epidemic of suicides when farm saved seeds were no longer allowed. Over 25.000 peasant farmers, in India alone, have committed suicide in the last 15 years when these poisonous, mutated Corporatized seeds were forced on the farmers.

Roundup’s main ingredient, Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine) is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Glyphosate kills insects, aquatic invertebrates (via runoff), mice and other small creatures. Glyphosate was initially classified as environmentally safe. It is now known to cause numerous diseases. Besides the glyphosate, the other so called ‘inert’ ingredients in Roundup create a synergistic amplification of toxicity. Glyphosate binds to heavy metals and evades the detoxification pathways in the liver, instead being filtered through the kidneys, where high acidity breaks the metal’s bond and release the herbicide, destroying the kidney tubules. According to researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Glyphosate wipes out the navigational ability of bees. After being exposed they are unable to return to their hive.

In 2013, the country of El Salvador banned Roundup because of an epidemic of Kidney disease which has been clearly linked to Roundup overexposure. Many people, from Central American, Sri Lanka and other countries, have reported similar incidents.

Animal sickness and death, lesser known poisonous pathways, related to Roundup usage affect both wild and domestic animals whose deaths can be attributed directly or indirectly to Roundup.

As an example, I recently visited my friend Victoria who was preparing to move. During the course of our conversation, she said with eyes, equal parts moist and tired:

“Moving is challenging enough but then my baby, my beloved Tasha almost died.”

Tasha is Victoria’s cat. Both Victoria and I are healing arts practitioners: my background as a health coach and former acupuncturist, hers as an enzyme therapist and nutritional consultant. As we began discussing some details related to Tasha’s acute illness, suddenly a flash of intuition came rushing in:

“Could Tasha have been chemically poisoned?” I asked. Victoria’s eyes widened as recognition arrived.

“She got sick the same day they sprayed the building with Roundup…”. She gasped.

Victoria cast her eyes in my direction but at the same time her gaze was inward. After a short pause, with energy open, alert, but aghast, she continued:

“They spray Roundup once a week around the sides of the apartment buildings.” She stopped. “Her symptoms started that day. She loves to play in the plants and then she, oh my god, licks herself!” She exclaimed.

Tasha would go outside and come back into the house and vomit a stringy plant substance. It was not food. She vomited a clear liquid with little pieces of long strings of plant in them. Over the course of a few days she got weaker and weaker and then her left eye got bloody and puffy and almost fully shut.

Victoria took Tasha to a vet and they ran a blood test. She told me:

“Her blood work showed hyperthyroidism, liver dysfunction based on elevated liver blood markers. The vet simply gave me three choices: cut out the thyroid, radiate the thyroid to kill it, or heavily medicate the thyroid so it stops functioning and producing its hormones.”

Cats, dogs and other wild animals are attracted to the chemical scent in Roundup and if they lick their fur after a recent coating of Roundup, they will become very sick or die.

In our appearance driven society, no one wants to see weeds cropping up to ruin their vision of what beauty is. Instead we put chemicals on. We do it everywhere: with perfume and cologne, paint on the walls and exterior of the house, while the sofa is dipped in chemical fire retardants, as are almost all mattresses.

Cleaning agents, soap and even the blue sky above is sprayed with chemicals to engineer the weather. And it has long been socially acceptable to allow our food crops to be dusted in the name of pest eradication. Chemicals have infiltrated our lives to the point that in one 2009 study of U.S. minority infants, the umbilical cord blood of a newborn fetus contained over 200 chemicals.

Tasha survived her scare, thanks to grace, love and innovative nutritional support which included high grade intestinal supplements, pet-specific probiotics, natural antibiotics and homemade non-grain based food. Tasha has gained 8 ounces, up to 7.5 pounds and is showing signs of playfulness and authentic well-being again. As Victoria said to me the other day:

“She’s my little daughter, and meowing at me right now to feed her and give her some attention- so I will go now.”

Grocery Shopping

“Man lives on 10 percent of what he eats, on the other 90 percent lives his doctor.”

I went shopping at Staff of Life, our local natural foods store. Really, it does have natural grocery items inside, unlike the other neighborhood establishments, Lucky and Safeway.

Lucky if you get out alive and Safeway, where you must shop with cover from a SWAT team.

“Danny, check the back, see if they’re unloading any of that new aspartame-infused, cow pus ice cream or antidepressant-laced jelly doughnuts. Move, move!”

“Stan, sneak in that front window and kneel by those 6 withering, organic carrots.”

“Ray, John, Billy, my green beret brothers, infiltrate the center aisles. Godspeed. Use full riot gear, the MSG crackers, bacteriophage bologna, Autolyzed yeast soup and nutrasweet, bonechar-bleached cookies, carmine-red mashed insect potatoes have been known to spontaneously combust.”

The only reason I went to Safeway was to pick up a few select ‘food’ items for an elderly lady friend. I use the word ‘food’ loosely because if we dissected the entire store into elements, like a chemistry experiment, food additives would take up the majority.

The Food Policing agency uses the term GRAS (generally regarded as safe). This means that untested, unregulated and ‘FDA authorized poisons’ take up most of the substance of our so-called food. This is what the FDA has to say:

“For centuries, ingredients have served useful functions in a variety of foods. Our ancestors used salt to preserve meats and fish, added herbs and spices to improve the flavor of foods, preserved fruit with sugar, and pickled cucumbers in a vinegar solution. Today, consumers demand and enjoy a food supply that is flavorful, nutritious, safe, convenient, colorful and affordable. Food additives and advances in technology help make that possible.

”If you are able to decipher the microscopic labels on these boxes and cans, interesting words for synthetic and scientifically- designed sugar, mutated wheat gluten- finely articulated in a lab to be as addictive as opium, shellac – to put a fine coating and optimize appearance. Many other chemical dyes and poisons are being consumed.

I think I will stick with the Staff of Life or maybe go to the farmer’s market or grow my own garden….

Death is Not Real

My father passed on almost 6 months ago. He did not die. More and more I see that our idea of ‘death’ is only a misconception. When someone ‘dies’, the communication avenue shifts, becoming more subtle since the bodily instrument dissolves back into the Source. As we pay attention to the inner, energy current, what we thought was lost in ‘death’ is instantly found.

During our most intense moments, the current increases to meet the challenge. This current is the vital force, our essential nature. From our true nature, we can sense and hear the ‘deathless ones’ residing in the light space that permeates not only the ethereal realm but the earthly realm–as they are not separate.

Lately, the voice of my father has arisen from within. I hear it most profoundly during moments when I feel disconnected, caught in thought identification, feel overwhelmed or distraught. My father is the eternal assurance, saying:

“All is well son.” And then a few tears come. I realize the truth in those words. The words come from me; because I am not separate from my father.

The great thing is:

We all have our inner father- inner mother, beloved friend or power being appearing when we most need to remember who we really are. They show up incognito as angelic-like presence but often they communicate quite loudly through ordinary life situations.

If we are attuned to the inner vibration of the heart center and keep returning there, resting in that love space, all that we need appears without fail. These curtain calls arrive even if we do not notice because death was not real. Our greatest friends and intimate ones are always here.

Medicine of the Heart

‘Medicine of the Heart’-that was the title of a book I wrote and published in 2008. In writing that book, I was asking for heart medicine. Immediately, this love potion began to pour into every orifice of my being. In the first few years, this medicine came in a form that was not immediately recognized as beneficial. In the last months, however, I have been saturated in -what I call: ‘heart friends’.

In my opinion there is no other type of friend. The word ‘friend’ comes from the Germanic word: ‘freon’ –which means:

“To love or be affectionate to”.

All of us have challenges in the journey called Life. Heart friends remind us that we are never alone. They show us that our greatest challenges are only tiny bumps on the road back to where we have always been, our true Home.

When one lives from the heart, they live from a fullness that never grows tired of sharing Itself. Each time a heart friend touches us, a healing takes place. LOVE floats between the bodies and is the bodies at the same time. Heart friends shine the light and help us see everyone through this love-centered space.

Heart friends transcend words, concepts or things. They do not fall into categories related to religion or spirituality. When you are with heart friends, this love and affection is all-encompassing. The room, the space you share together, is lifted above the surface ‘human’ mind-level.

From this authentic perspective, the real and true ‘being’ shines.

As this heart-saturation continues I am feeling the heart-being in everyone I meet. It does not matter what is said or done, how they act or what I say. It matters not what history we’ve had. Those things are superficial dust on the mirror.

Seeing through the heart-lense, is to see through what apparently exists. All that remains: The heart-being shining.

That light which is watching becomes inseparable from what It witnesses. Everywhere It looks, that essential heart-being is seen.

This heart-insight, how things really are,  is timeless, yet ever deepening. It melts away all resistance, effortlessly, like clouds evaporating and revealing the Blue Sky.

Thank You Heart Friends. You are everywhere and I embrace all of You.

Giving and Receiving

When I visited Thailand in 2005, I was mesmerized by the early morning alm’s rounds of the young buddhist monks. Alms is a process of giving and receiving- in a reciprocal energy exchange loop. The humility the young monks carried inside was matched by the lay people.

The monks had worked diligently at creating peace within and realizing their inherent formless nature. The lay people understood this and were grateful to receive the spiritual blessings. In exchange, the villagers gladly gave all they could- in food or money.

In America, if someone claims spiritual authority and we like them, we freely give them money. There are many deeply spiritual beings that do not publicize themselves or ask for money.

They do not wear robes or go into town in a formal way but daily offer blessings and yet we are too busy to realize it.

And then there are beautiful, heart-beings who come to us covertly, from the fringes of society, in the guise of homelessness or mental illness. In our culture, these heartful souls are mostly dismissed as annoying pests to be avoided at all costs. We seem to have lost our ability to recognize the heart qualities and formless aspect of reality which is alive inside these beautiful souls.

The formless gifts that are bestowed cannot be stopped by our avoidance tactics. These subtle, potent riches come our way each and every day whether one recognizes it or not. If we slow down, even stop, however, we would be in awe and feel honored to complete the energy loop by giving something tangible back to them: be it a sandwich, a dollar bill, some clothing or even a hug.

As we start to recognize the formless spirit reflected inside the heart, it will be impossible not to acknowledge the grace before our eyes in a way that is beneficial to all.

Tag Cloud


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.