The chubby laughing Buddha is an icon frequently seen in gift shops and not so often represented in the Buddhist teachings, which to many people appear to focus extensively on topics like suffering, emptiness, and stillness. He may seem a hollow depiction to some, who prefer the solitary images of the Buddha in the Ox-herding pictures, or his image as a teacher, or even the sleeping Buddha, waiting to be awakened into the world.
Have you ever taken a step away from your mind long enough to notice the relationship between stress and the thoughts you carry in your head? Can you imagine the release if you only could stop all thoughts for a few minutes? Of course we do this every night for a few hours. We realize that if we were to stop sleeping these same thoughts that maneuver us through the day would force us into mental bankruptcy and we would lose our minds. So we try to get our sleep.
At a conference this weekend to learn how to connect with all the people out there who may benefit from knowing about my 30 years of doing spiritual work both personally and professionally.I am at a generating stage of life, eager to pass this on. The web is the new way for finding those you are resonant with and who can support you even when lost in the chaos of transformation, the confusion of emotion, the drama of awakened energy, and the sense your life is crumbling about you. Do you go to the net? to twitter? to amazon? to blogs? I don't know yet but I expect to explore these outer dimensions of consciousness caught in the media and search for those who might like to hear what I have to say. There is a way through and out of your pain, confusion and sense of being all alone . There is a way to shift fear into curiosity, discomfort into ecstasy, fogginess into clarity. There is a way to transform out of you and into the real you that has been hiding all along in the shadows of your personality waiting to be noticed and brought to the surface.
Spiritual awakening is not an improvement of your present condition. It is peace and presence reclaiming you from the confusion of your present condition and encouraging your to see the world in an entirely new way, a way that is not corroded and conflicted by past experiences, disappointments and pains. These must be dropped with compassion, accepted as the difficulties of living in a human condition, and recognized as irrelevant to the free expression of who you really are. Freedom means only that we become free of our old selves, and thus free to live!
Waking up can be sudden or it can be gradual. It happens when positions beliefs, attachments and pains are dropped, because it is underneath all the debris of our mind that our clear awareness shines, free of all burdens, seeing into every moment of our life. No one can force you to drop these burdens. It is up to you and a secret moment called fate. It may happen spontaneously or it may happen because you suddenly see with a flash that none of these moments of problems are true -- they are all thoughts of memories in the past now floating in the mind that have the power to keep you from living the full expression of who you are. How much weight are you carrying? How many arguments are you having each day with yourself? Is that what you want for your life, or would you rather meet each day as a fresh adventure, a curious possibility that might offer something new, something you had never considered before? What thoughts would you need to toss into the waste bin of history to live today fearlessly and openly?
There are many portals into an awakened life. I hope you will explore The Awakening Guide (on amazon) as I have tried from experience and heart to show these doors to any who wish to enter. I am eager to see who will enter, what they will discover and what gifts they will bring to the table of our shared human experience. I can't say where my life has come from nor where it is going, only that these discoveries are what have poured through me along the way. I hope you will let me know your response. I hope it will lead you to love and peace.
I am back home in Ashland Oregon now, and although it's cold and damp it still warms my heart to be in this picturesque town with its charming theaters, parks and people. The pace is more nourishing here, with much to be involved in, yet a quieter pace of traffic and only a few thousand people, most of whom are happy just to be here. It is the best of small-town living. I've created a Spring schedule for the non-dual center here, and here are the events scheduled:
Meditations at 9 a.m. Saturday mornings;
Satsang on Sundays at 7 p.m on March 27, April 3 and 17, May 1, 15 and 29;
A workshop on "The Kundalini Process" on Sat. May 14 from 9 to 5;
A Meditation Intensive "Sudden and Gradual Awakening" from 9:30 to 4:30 Sat. April 30;
A Non-Dual Wisdom Discussion group at 7 p.m. for 9 weeks beginning April 14;
A Transpersonal Exploration group on Weds. for 7 weeks beginning April 13.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need information or want to register.
On World Events:
What has been on my mind most often these past few weeks are world events. Every day I want to know just what is unfolding in Japan, Libya, Bahrain and all the other unsettled and chaotic places on our planet. I see that what I am includes all of these, even though I as a body/mind have the luxury of living free from harm in this particular or apparent moment in time.
One of the biggest challenges of seeking freedom or liberation is the recognition that so many people and places are suffering. It makes it seem one should not allow oneself to be free of suffering since we are all in this together. Guilt can arise in those who are not in pain along with everyone else. But freedom from suffering already exists in each of us and until we remove the patterns that block this freedom we are not capable of bringing any lasting freedom into the world. All of us as humans have our times to suffer --with losses, grief, illness--or because we are holding on to anger, self-rejection, jealousy or fear (psychological suffering). Isn't most of the horror caused by humans in the world the result of someone who suffers from a rage, or greed, or fear of "others" or desire for revenge? Isn't the need for power just a reaction to all these internal limitations we resent and reject? Some folks are simply obsessed with a greed for power. What fear and rejection of humanity must lie beneath this obsession? It is easy to see how a repressed people would want to gain control over their lives and would battle authority for it, would hunger to overcome the pressure of someone else's power drive. It is harder to see how someone could want so much power over others unless they felt a great lack and fear deep within themselves. Despite all of the horrors we witness on the world stage do we dare to remember our own internal freedom, our natural compassion and love, and the true nature that is empty of all conditions while paradoxically holding all conditions? If we who have the breathing space to wake up and to live as freedom do not invite it into our lives how will it ever penetrate the collective, or infuse the planet with wisdom and love? We cannot force freedom or love or wisdom but we can let go of ourselves deeply enough to remember that these qualities are reflected naturally from the light of what we truly are. We seldom see them in the world because most humans are so identified with the surface of their lives, and fearful of the inner shadows in their psyches, that they do not sit still long enough to penetrate the delusions of mind and heart that trap us. When someone begins a spiritual path it is usually for the purpose of ending suffering within themselves, at least on the surface of things. But perhaps it is really a drive imposed by the universal source or wisdom in order to release just one facet of the suffering in the world, to breathe into the universe a fraction more of freedom. If the repression of Truth and Love ends in you or me, something painful ends and something new and unexpected can emerge. If we are then moved in a way to help others who suffer we then can do so from freedom rather than pain,trusting the capacity for freedom in others, and we can see the obvious fact that anyone who truly lets go, lets go of suffering. Even in pain and loss there is a possibility to discover an endless and eternal freedom of spirit.
Some people believe the reason for suffering is to force someone to go deeper and to wake up. But why wait until you are suffering or struggling with great losses to go deeper? Why not move when there are less outer distractions, before loss, before chaos -- why not move inward to see through delusion and get released to be a force for freedom now? Then whatever happens on our vast and erupting planet can be embraced as part of the whole, with compassion and spontaneous wisdom, with love amidst the pain? All of it belongs to all of us but few are those who can bring harmony into the whole. And this harmony will never come from mind, whose nature is division, but must come from the awakened heart.