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Archive for September, 2013

Pain: a great adventure

I have always been up for great adventures out in the natural world and seem to accept that aches and pains come with it. Put me in  situation where I am sitting at home and an illness symptom or injury arrives, well that same pain becomes unacceptable. This type of inner adventure is not one I am fond of. And over the last 20 years, the conscious, inner adventures have been happening but the pain-filled adventures always seem to get bypassed. It is so easy to take the sensations that make up ‘pain’  and have them shrink your Universal Self into a pseudo entity called ‘me’.  Now, this ‘me’ seems to have to navigate around this pain so it can continue to live as it wishes. A very strange phenomena and one that recurs at regular intervals for most folks. 

I am writing with what you might call  a ‘pretty significant headache’. It came on in the middle of the night. I am doing nothing about it; pain is just part of what is showing up. I cannot say ‘this is my pain’ or claim that I had a choice about it arriving. 

I remember, in what appeared to be one of the seminal moments of life, a spiritual pilgrimage to India. I was standing at the gates of the Osho ashram in Pune. I could accept what was behind the curtain and enter into the wild sexual escapades and spontaneous allure of exotic spirituality or choose door number two–which is what actual took place: severe dysentery, ego-dissolution, karmic debt and humility–of course that is an over-simplification filled with labels. Did ‘I’ really have a chose? Do ‘we’ have a choice about how this play of Life unfolds?

It is only a misconception of our true identity that appears to have a choice. When you realize that you are Pure Consciousness, the Universal Space and not a tiny individualized aspect called ‘I’ or ‘me, it is an awakening to Reality. To see things as they are instead of how they appear- even that is not a choice. The body, we often identify ourselves as, will do whatever it needs to do but We as Consciousness only watch. 

So as the headache plays out, no thoughts or actions are occurring that wish to attack the pain–the usual modus operandi. There is no movement to throw alternative remedies at the symptoms. I’ve use acupuncture, acupressure, massage, herbs, lemons, spices, treatments, modalities and if the natural stuff doesn’t work, I go for good old-fashioned ibuprofen. Somehow, this time, there is just, as the sage said, ‘ignoring it’. I cannot say the headache is going away or diminishing as awareness still flickers towards it but I am becoming less and less interested in the reality of it–that it has anything to do with me. One of the sagely wise dudes from India once said:

     “Most pain and suffering is provoked and you have to pamper it. Don’t pay attention, ignore the symptoms and they are lost. You must have the capacity to tolerate pain.”

 Ultimately I do not know what is going on with the sensations and such which make up that label we call ‘headache’.  Pain is one of the ways we create an identity in the body. We cannot even say what the body is but the habitual belief that ‘the body is me’ operates like a magician’s illusion.  As we watch the magician’s slight of hand, we must not be tricked into believing in the appearance. And one of the greatest tricks is getting lost in the mind. In my case, it use to be in ‘figuring it out’, not only barraging the pain with holistic stuff but I also needed to know how it happened to begin with. As soon as you enter the false domain of mind, one is lost in the endless realm of ideas and more thoughts. It will not end until we stop being interested in knowing. Instead we realize that our home is the unknown and there we remain. Content, peaceful and easy is the unknown. To enter the world of the known is a mouse’s spinning wheel inside a cage. Fortunately in an instant we can not only step off the wheel but leave the entire cage behind.



Abundance and True Wealth…

Recently, I visited Ashland, Oregon. One day a grumpy mood struck while I was in and around my ‘damp, moldy, severely rained-upon tent’. The internal dialogue was beginning to manifest a ‘me persona’–or so it appeared.

     “Why did ‘I’ come here?” It began to rattle, like a snake striking out at everything in the nearby vicinity.  “If only that guy in the nearby tent would stop that incessant cough…” “Why are those people over there burning a fire when it is so warm out..” The insinuation being: ‘then all would be okay’. The fact of the matter: nothing was wrong, out of place, needed to be fixed, or changed. Fortunately this part of myself was aware of this, including what you might call the ‘poor me quibbles’ and with awareness at work the distracting, inner rants chortled on but I was less interested in them.

I sat crouched in the East Indian squat in front of my tent while tea water was heating on my portable stove. Suddenly a black cat appeared in my peripheral vision. The fixated identity began to turn on the cat too. “Don’t even think about. You ain’t getting any food bubba. Take off, scram!” The stingy, small-minded, powerless energy pattern spat. Then, the black cat not listening to the banter, even to the slightest degree, gimped into camp. Once she was in full view, it became immediately evident that this fine creature had only three legs. A long sigh came out in a slow, humbling exhale and the inspiration, the deep in-breath came.

A new voice, the chant of abundance and true wealth, now audible- said aloud.

     “Are you okay little buddy? Do you need anything to eat…anything at all?! She didn’t need anything from me; my three-legged angel had come only to snap the trance, remind me of the abundance that is always, already present. What grace. 

Once you have seen through the veil of mind, into the truth of existence, it becomes easier and easier to drop the trance, since you are the watchful screen, awareness,  witnessing the whole movie of Life playing. Nothing can become a problem; even an inner dialogue that is saying: ‘Look, there is a problem and this is what it is.’

Awareness does not care. Awareness knows that everything is appearing and disappearing and that It is the only thing that never changes. 

A wonderful discovery arrives when you awaken to this truth and the transitory thoughts we call ‘mind’ no longer become the fallback state of consciousness–awareness does. What we call mind (thoughts, opinions, ideas) will always disappear and only incessant involvement with them can keep their appearance going. 

So how are you going to share your inner wealth today? That is a question that came after I told my dear friend this story. We were sitting together on a bench on the cliff above the beach and as usual the conversation turned to living authentically in all ways, to finding the places we have buried our authenticity, often in spiritual garb.

What we have seen with so many so-called spiritual people, the ones who say they are on the ‘conscious spiritual path’, ourselves included, is that they avoid the places that most need the laser beam of awareness. The universe always sends us towards the areas where authenticity is most needed. Only you can really know if ‘spirituality’ is being used as a guise to bypass authenticity in areas of life.

For instance, as useful as spiritual pointers from ‘great master’s can be (those pithy, profound sentences that stop the mind, like a stun gun-revealing something beyond mind) they are often usurped by the tricky mind and used in an attempt to hide out and keep a stagnant, conditioned energy pattern or identity in place.

This is where the Zen Koan becomes useful. The Koan is a nonsensical or paradoxical question wherein the answer will lead one to true meditation and illumination. 

Here is one:

     “All of you are perfect just the way you are and you could use a little improvement.”


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