Elegant Simplicity

May 7, 2020
In elegant simplicity lies the beauty of living: attention, focused, intimately aware of the present moment and its happenings.  Conscious motion, self-reflection, deep contemplation, mindfulness, the ever-present witnessing of one’s own existence.
Permanence within impermanence, the fleeting crossing-the-screen of what is.  A diamond in the rough, surrounded by coal.  Magic.  Music.  Romance.

That upon which attention is focused becomes the focus of attention.  The more focused the attention, the greater the quality of the experience.  The more quality, the more awareness.  The more awareness, the more elegance.  The more awareness, the more simplicity.

Sublime life energy turns into experience.    Richness follows, then poverty, then richness again.  The corpse becomes living, and then dies again, only to revive and live.  All focused, elegant, simple, happening.

A dancer doing a pirouette.  A skater lifting another on ice.  Boxers dodging, weaving.  A director’s eye for the light.  The teacher honing his craft.  A doctor checking for disease.  Fishermen, fishing.  Elegance.  Simplicity.  Focus.  Awareness.

Waiting for the buck to clear the brush.  Breathing lover’s tender breath.  Coaxing off a rusted bolt.  Crying in the hopeless night.  Intensity.  Focus.  Simplicity.  Totality.

In timeless moments of depth and brevity, self is lost in experiencing the moment.  Torture.  Pain.  Heartbreak. Terror.  Amazement.  Astonishment.  Revelation.  Complete and simple.  Full.  Elegant and total.

Wind bristling leaves.  Waves lapping rocks.  Painters painting paintings.  Sacred geometry.  Elegance.  Simplicity.

The stuff of life: total moments, complete experiences, full happenings, perfect executions.  Elegant simplicity.

Written on May 6, 2013 and freshly formatted on May 6, 2020.


A Note from the Bridge over the Chasm Between Darkness and Light

May 5, 2020

“Ignorance is bliss.”

–“They”

Ignorance is not bliss. He knew that. And awareness is not suffering, as the old saying seems to imply. And yet both can be seen as either, through the magick of language. Ignorance can seem to be bliss, and awareness can seem to be suffering…for awhile.

He thought thoughts such as these from time to time–more frequently than most other things, anyway. He was not ignorant, but of course he had been, as most everyone is at one time or another. Though his ignorance had lessened in the light of understanding of himself and The Way The World Works, his awareness of his ignorance had grown, and so his ignorance seemed greater than it had been before.

The tide of ignorance hadn’t crept farther in; the inner lighthouse had simply revealed more of it. There’s always a trade-off, always a balance to be struck by human nature, by the flow of Life in a human being, by the forces of Nature within and without, and by the oft-shifting currents of the Divine Urge that flow just beneath the visible All and are detectable to the sensitive.

Give and take. Give ignorance and take awareness. Give suffering and take bliss. Or vice versa.

There is, of course, a paradox among it all, as there tends to be when life is viewed from more than merely a first-person point of view. Things seem one way from one angle and another way from another angle. One angle is not right and the other wrong, at least not most of the time. When divergences appear, they reveal the existence–somewhere above or beyond or in between–of a convergence, a unity, of which the seemingly opposing points of view both partake.

A truth to be uncovered, in other words, and then understood: a truth severed in half and taken hostage by two opposing human camps.

So there he was, aware of his condition–trapped between awareness and ignorance, far enough from ignorance to be untouched by some of its more common sufferings, and yet still deep enough in suffering himself to be unaware of certain things of whose existence he did not yet know, but which called softly to him in quiet moments.

In other words, he was a member of two worlds: the free and the slave, the wise and the foolish, the light and the dark. To tell the truth, he enjoyed the fruits of both–and at all times was aware of which side of the line he was dancing on.

He was an apparent contradiction, to many on both sides of the fence.

(He did not believe in the fence.)

In his limited awareness, he saw the suffering that his actions even now still caused from time to time. Even so, he was able to shift his perspective to a much broader view and see the eventual bliss that his actions would bring–not to himself, but to the All.

Over and over again came the lesson, spoken at certain times from somewhere deep within:

“Trust.”

In some ways, this one word was the key to all understanding. It hinted at the interconnectedness of the All, including his apparently separate personality. It was a clue to the mystery of the importance of individual human experience to the All. It was a word that echoed, although sometimes twisted beyond understanding, in spiritual messages throughout history.

“Trust.”

So he trusted. Time and time again he failed, but he sought with straining ear to hear the lesson gained each time he failed. He mistrusted. He un-trusted. He resisted. He battled for days. He fought passionately–to see what he could not see. Eventually, the vision always became clear.

There is much that happens on the surface of things that doesn’t reveal right away the great improvements being made underneath. That’s where trust comes in.

What’s underneath is infinitely more complex, rich, and complicated than what we see from day to day. “There,” moments of time are not measured in days or weeks but in years, centuries, and eons. A moment of pain and suffering can bring years of bliss and freedom. A slight happenstance can reverberate for centuries in humanly unpredictable ways.

In our hubris, we “important” humans desire to control, believing that we know and understand enough to decide the fate of the world around us. We exert ourselves in our effort to make things happen. We calculate the future and decide our actions based on that mental blueprint. All the while, life is happening as life happens, and we are either its pawns, its victims, or its messengers.

What he wanted was simple: greater good for the All and a clear and peaceful mind to understand and enjoy life. He didn’t know why the Universe had spawned him for the purpose he was living, except that he was the best candidate for the job. Maybe the others were sleeping in or dancing around a fire.

After hearing the call, he had responded in his own broken way–and then resisted every step of the way, like a dumb puppy who ends up with shit on his nose over and over again. He had learned. He had learned to listen. To trust. To move with courage and confidence when he heard the call from within. It had not been easy.

And still he fucked it up sometimes.

Not any time had it been easy to look at the face of experience, listen to the voice inside, and believe what he knew instead of what he saw with his eyes. Every succeeding chance to exercise trust brought with it a greater apparent reason to resist and control with his earthy self. Even so, he could not avoid the lessons (and opportunities to learn them) that came.

Once the light is on, it stays on.

He was being used, he was aware, as a surgical tool for the hand of the All. Why? Because he had proved himself to be worthy of the Voice. He had risked, and lost, and learned, and been restored because of his willingness to obey. He was willing to be (that is, to look like) a fool–for “God.” He was willing to give up, to lose, to trade, to give away, to shed, or to appear evil or wrong or misguided or stupid.

And at times he did, or was, any or all of these–but mostly he was not. He knew he was not. And yet sometimes he felt that he was these things after all.

He was not perfect, but at least he could see. At least he could see well enough to know that things are not always–not ever–as they seem to human eyes. In that, he could trust and feel bliss.

And suffer, a little bit.

He knew he wouldn’t cross the bridge while in this life. (He did believe in the bridge.) He would remain forever on it, one foot in each world, bridging some gap that no one else had claimed.

And he knew that this certainty would one day change. Maybe even while in this life. But, for now, it was right, whether he liked it or not.

“Trust.”

Written on May 4, 2010 and freshly formatted on May 5, 2020.


What Makes You “You”

October 6, 2011

Two things define you as an individual: your mind and your body.  Put another way, “nature and nurture.” You were born with a set of potentials (like intelligence or musical talent), just like you were born with certain physical characteristics (like gender or eye color). These potentials influence or predetermine the outcome of your life to some degree.

Your personality is also molded by the experiences you have in life—especially in your early life—particularly in your relationships with other people. In your early years, those potentials were formed by your experience into what you think of as “you.”  These experiences can have a “predetermining” effect on your present reality, too.

Ultimately, though, you determine the events and relationships in your life, apart from any outside influences on your choices. Nothing is truly predetermined; anyone can radically change the course of their life at any moment. Even if you can’t change the characteristics you were born with (like intelligence or shoe size), you can change the ones that your environment shaped (like political views or health).

What you do in life is create a present reality for yourself by choosing from the possibilities “out there” in your daily experience, based on the values you hold “in here”—in your mindset. Your beliefs are one kind of value you’ll find in there. Beliefs are so powerful that, if someone really believes their life is predetermined, this belief will be reinforced by their life experience.

But so will a belief in free will. Or anything else!

If you learn to overcome your beliefs and other false impressions, you can see what’s really happening here: your reality is being created every moment by your mindset (which includes your beliefs, opinions, assumptions, and so on). Then questions like Free will or destiny? and Nature or nurture? won’t be an issue. You will be in control of your own life, and you will see how your experiences contribute to your own decision-making.


We Are Alone in This World

September 19, 2011

We are all utterly alone in this world. Though we may share the company of other people, we are ultimately our own companions.

When we hurt, we alone hurt, even if others try to hurt with us. When we exult in our achievements, we enjoy them ourselves, though others may pat us on the back. People come and go in our lives.

Have you reconciled yourself with the fact that you will die alone?

Someone may be present at both your birth and your death, but when you shed your mortal coil you will leave them behind—alone, as they always have been. In the days in between, that person will not have been a constant companion; you will have celebrated and grieved without them at some point in your life.

And they will have done the same without you.

We try to console ourselves from the thought of our isolation from others by surrounding ourselves with other people, or animals, or things. There is value in this, as long as we don’t succeed in deluding ourselves that we truly share our lives with others. Our lives are our own and, though we may seek to share them with others, other people don’t share our experiences or our perspective.

They can’t.

Our experiences are what we are. Not only do they affect who we are, but they proceed from us. Our mindset creates our experiences as we are reflected back to ourselves in the events and relationships that comprise our human existence.

Paradoxically, though, we are not alone. As our deepest selves are reflected in our experiences, we can come to know ourselves intimately by paying attention to what happens in our lives, all around us.

In this way, all that we know and all that we can see is part of us while we are alive.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


“Inside” vs. “Outside”: A Proof That All Is One

September 13, 2011

People love to divide and categorize. They place labels on everything and, if anything doesn’t have a name or a definition, someone will think of one. One of the most basic and simplest examples of this tendency is the division of experience into an “inner” and an “outer” world.

The “inner” world includes a person’s thoughts and feelings. It’s the part of one’s experience that is uniquely one’s own, which one may or may not choose to reveal to others. The “outer” world is the world of things, beings, and circumstances, which are seen and shared between us.

Other people are, from this perspective, part of the “outer” world.

Where a person chooses to place the dividing line between the world of (inner) and the world of Thou (outer) is to some degree up to the individual. One might see his or her body as part of I, while another considers the body to be part of Thou.

In reality, though, there is no boundary or separation between I and Thou.

It’s true that, from my own perspective, there can seem to be an inner world that is uniquely mine and an outer world that is not. However, this apparently clean division of the Universe into two parts is an illusion, and clearly so when you consider that there is more than one perspective.

This means that, if there really are two worlds which are separate from one another, then everybody else’s inner world is actually in the outer world. But, if the inner and outer worlds are indeed separate, then one cannot be a part of the other!

In this case, whether the outer is a subset of the inner or the inner is a subset of the outer, there is only one “real” world—and it therefore makes no sense to speak of “inner” and “outer”! A seed or peel is not separate from the apple it constitutes.

The alternative is to consider that the “inner” and “outer” worlds are, in reality, only one world—which only appears to be divided when examined from one’s own perspective.

Whichever way you choose to describe the “division,” it becomes clear that there is no division: only oneness, only unity. Your inner and outer lives are one Life, and so are everyone else’s!

Life is One…but with many perspectives.

(Written in 2004 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


Negativity

September 12, 2011

Life is like mining.

As we live, we gather for ourselves the raw dirt of experience. That “dirt” consists of a load of information that we sift through to select the bits that we incorporate into our view of the world.

Our World View

There are many bits of information, of many different qualities, in our experience, and we accept or reject them based on our present world view.

Our world view, at any time, consists of our judgment of the nature and qualities of reality, based on the values we hold in mind, and reinforced by those bits of information we glean from the experiences we “mine” from reality in our daily life.

We choose the information that makes up our world view from all the experiences we encounter…based on our own world view!

Thus, our experience tends to reinforce whatever idea of reality we already have.

You encounter a million and one things in each day, and you don’t notice nearly a million of them. For example, I might have seen an ad for an upcoming marathon. If I did, I didn’t notice it–because running marathons isn’t part of my version of reality. My uncle Mike, on the other hand, who plans his vacations around marathons, definitely would have noticed it!

There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” experience (although experiences vary in the amount of pleasure or pain we feel, or in how much they jibe with what we want to happen).

Each bit of life experience comes to us judgment-free until we judge it (again based on our world view!). Yet it has value to us because it is a reflection of the mind elements that we consist of. It has value to us because we can learn more about who we are by noticing what things in our experience seem important to us—and what things don’t.

Life Reflects YOU

This is because, just as life is like mining, it is also like a mirror. Just as we pick and choose from our vast experience the bits of information that we already value, so it appears to us that Life occurs in a manner consistent with the values that we already hold in mind.

Thus, as we are, so we experience life:

because of our world view, which affects what we “see” in life, what we see is a reflection of what we are.

To change what you experience (or what you perceive as your experience), you have to change the way you see the world. Amazing things can and will happen when you become aware of the way you see things—and the effect that your view has on your entire life!

“Good” and “bad” are concepts (in this case, judgments) that many people hold in their world view. How do they judge the “good” from the “bad”? Primarily,

  1. violating their own childhood teachings is “bad” and
  2. physical pain and, by extension, death is “bad”—especially their own.

“Good,” then, is the opposite:

  1. seeing the fulfillment of their childhood teachings in their own experience and
  2. avoiding physical pain and death.

Although all events in our experience are neutral in value until we ascribe value to them, the events that we pick out of our wealth of experience are important to our understanding.

They reflect what we value; they also reflect the thoughts we focus on. Our thoughts affect us in two possible ways: they can be positive (nudging us closer to a clear understanding of Life and Love) or negative (hindering our growth).

Negativity, Growth, and Love

Negativity is the accumulation of negative thought. It is also known as sin, evil, baggage, and negative emotions (such as anger, frustration, fear, and depression).

Our thoughts tend to snowball upon each other. Negativity begets negativity; Love begets Love. The good news is that you are more powerful than any negativity. But you can’t beat Love. Although negativity obscures Love temporarily, Love is always there, even if it’s out of sight.

Love is the goal of growth.  Growth is the casting away of negativity; Love is its absence.

If we don’t deal with the negativity that we have accumulated in our lives, it gradually overwhelms us and obscures our perception of the world. The results are:

  1. we see the world as an ever-more hostile or bad place, and other people as our enemies, and
  2. we lose sight of the universal value, Love, and experience it less in our life.

We become miserable, suspicious, cold, closed: we become evil.

Everything that is done can be undone except death, which is itself an undoing. If we have accumulated negativity, we can also cut it off. The way we do so is by becoming aware of it.

Then we can learn how we “got” it and we can undo it in our own lives by seeing the error of its presence and literally commanding it to leave.

Just as the cells of our bodies are part of us, and yet they are also separate yet dependent organisms, so can the elements that make up our personalities be thought of as separate, yet dependent, entities and can be treated as such.

A negative mind element, like a cancer cell, didn’t “come from” anywhere, but was always a part of our psychological makeup. It has only been corrupted.

It is our task to do away with our negativity. Then we can truly say that we have overcome ourselves and the world.

(Written in 2004 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


Mental Conditioning

September 11, 2011

As adults, virtually all of our actions are conditioned responses. That is, we generally react to whatever (stimulus) happens in our daily life in the same way each time. This is largely because we live in the same environment day after day, and nearly all of our daily activities are a pattern. We’re programmed to operate in a certain way within that pattern of daily life. We are a pattern. We’re conditioned

When we are conditioned to do any particular action, our decision to choose that action nevertheless still can be a conscious one. This is the process:

  1. We perceive a stimulus;
  2. we think of what we will do in response to the stimulus (the conditioned response comes to mind first);
  3. we decide whether to do it or to pursue another response;
  4. we respond.

This takes very little time, and you don’t notice it until you decide to notice it.

When we think of the conditioned response, we can consciously choose not to give that response. Then we will think of another possible response, to which we can also choose yes or no. In this manner, we can take steps to liberate ourselves from conditioning and live more consciously.

Conditioning hardens and leads to living death. Liberation leads to real living: conscious living.

Conscious, waking life can be likened to a dream. We can experience both with varying degrees of consciousness. Some dreams we are hardly aware of, while others are vivid and rich in imagery and meaning. As we increase in consciousness, the waking dream which is our life becomes more vivid and real to us and we experience life more fully until, eventually, we recognize the dream of life for what it is and we become more and more able to influence the course of our life and our relationships with others in it.

Do you understand the significance of being able to determine to a large extent the course of your life and the nature of your relationships? It means that your life reflects your will: what you want to happen.

What does everybody want?  Basically,

  • to be happy and confident that everything is okay;
  • to be their own master;
  • to live more easily;
  • to be sure that they’ll have what they need.

Anyone who wants these things and is determined to have them can have them; it only takes one step. There are a million first steps you could take, but here’s one:

observe yourself when you’re reacting to something.

It doesn’t matter what. Identify your conditioned/automatic response. Decide to do something else instead.

Too easy.

(Written in 2004 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


%d bloggers like this: