Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alone in the Crowd

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, November 27, 2016

the Warrior's Path

The average man is hooked to his fellow men,
while the warrior is hooked only to Infinity.
Carlos Castaneda

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Changing the World, One Person at a Time

We live in a world of pure potentiality. There are many possible outcomes and possible realities. At any moment, we can turn left, or we can turn right. The path we choose can be life-altering at a moment's notice, consciously or by inattention. There is nothing that is decided. The rules are simple. Right action is always a choice one can make to move consciousness into a higher vibration. How do you grow in spiritual maturity?

First, remember who you are, that you create your own reality. You are never a victim. You always have a choice. You can always speak your truth through your heart. You grow your power the more you do this, and life becomes all the more precious. Second, use your power to visualize what it is that you wish to be. Focus on your vision every day. Do not focus on the things you fear or do not want. See yourself finding answers to all that you seek. Third, spend more time in your feelings and emotions. It is good to feel. Express your love and your passion. Feeling alive comes from feeling what is within you. If you don't like what you see, turn it around. Hold the opposite vision, change your life. You have the power. Instead of watching TV or surfing the Internet, spend time feeling, meditating, and visualizing that which you desire. Fourth, take time every day to appreciate the beauty in the world. Let nature's colors, sounds, and fragrances seduce you with its essence and energy. Fifth, stop caring so much about what other people think. Be who you are, and if you are not sure, take the time to discover yourself. It is a pure waste of your life to live for the approval of others. Sixth, learn to turn your feelings around. See the good in other people and events. It is the key to sustaining happiness. And finally, remember your gift of  power and inner strength. There is energy around each of us that magnifies the light that shines from within.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

When You Reach a Fork in the Road, Take It

The time has come to fertilize the ground of my being for a joyous re-inventive deliverance. In a world of evolving change there eventually comes a time when obstructions must pass in order to grow. Time is ripe to clear away the old so that a new beginning can emerge. Deliverance is a dangerous time right before the birth of any new life. Timing is everything. I have wrestled with adjusting my running lifestyle and ambitions for some time now, vacillating back and forth with a certain looming tension and uncertainty that I wish to be free of. I sense the time is right to bring this chapter of my life to a close and open to the will of the universe as I await whatever it may deliver. I may finally have the needed strength to achieve a resolution that will lead to a new beginning. It has been a great journey thus far; the unseen road ahead seduces my greater passions.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

the Journey of Renewal Begins

We chose only once.
We choose either to be warriors or to be ordinary men.
A second choice does not exist.  Not on this earth.
Carlos Castaneda

Time and again, rising like the Phoenix from the ashes of my fate, I make contact with my destiny with Odin's Rune. A fresh beginning is at hand as the spirit warrior within is called to the ultimate challenge of relinquishing control. The Great Unknowable reminds me of its ever-presence and of my undiluted potential, both pregnant and empty at once. Both my worst fears and the unfolding of my fertile dreams await in the field of pure potentiality. Trust, as well as courage, is called for, along with willingness and a broad permission, as I leap empty-handed into the void. The path I seek is nothing less than that of karma - all that I am and have done and all that I will become. I keep a light step knowing that the debts of old karma shift and evolve as I so shift and evolve. There is nothing predestined and nothing that cannot be avoided. The challenge of self-change awaits as I drink from the universal well of creative power.

A journey of self-transformation beckons. A journey of the soul. A journey to unite that which is above with that which is below. My prayer of intention is: "I will to will Thy will." I ask the great teacher within for what constitutes right action, and for the courage to allow it to flow through me. I am patient, keeping within my limits, and will work to remove any resistance or obstructions. The journey aims for self healing, self-change, and union with All That Is. I pledge to heretofore regulate any excess in my life, cut away illusions, and trust my own process. I know I am alone at this point in the journey and must stand apart even from those who are like-minded, putting the utmost of trust in my own innermost feelings and spontaneity.

Only clarity matters now, refining my relationship to myself, for only then can I have correct relationships with others and the Divine. The Oracle's counsel is to always remain modest and be yielding, devoted, and moderate. Only then will I find direction in my journey. I shall be in the world but not of it, while remaining open and non-judgemental. I shall be ever vigilant and receptive to the communication of the Divine, both within and without. Grace comes from living an ordinary life in a non-ordinary way. I will not lose sight of what has been and what is coming as I focus on the moment at hand. This is a time of great change and rectification, essential to achieve before my soul progresses. It is not a time to seek credit for accomplishment or focus on results. It is a time to do the task for the sake of the task only. Ruuning and racing have been important contributions in my life, but I must approach them with more humility heretofore, using the marathon monks of Mount Hiei as my example. Forgetting the goal and remembering how to play is the secret to truly living in the present moment. The first counsel written over the gateway to the temple at Delphi was Know Thyself; the second phrase was Nothing in Excess. These are my maxims at this point on my journey.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mysteries, Mysteries, Everywhere

The greatest mysteries of life are the simplest ones. Those are the ones we confront every day. I am always amazed to watch squirrels playing in the yard as they gather acorns for winter. The endless love and patience of my kitty Snookie is a daily lesson I cannot help but attend to. The kindness of strangers, the feelings of joy in prayer, how sunlight brightens our lives as well as our days, all leave me in awe. I think the genius of that very powerful force that is behind it all is that it dwells where we are least likely looking for it - in the play of squirrels, in the loving eyes of my kitty, in the smile of strangers, in the warmth of the sun on our skin, in the depths of our own being, in our own humanity. Any time we try to identify what God is with lofty thoughts, we only identify what God is certainly not. God is in the details, abundantly.

When you find that you are loved unconditionally deep within, that is the essential foundation of joy. Once you find that joy, you can't help but want to ignite that same warmth and love in others to help them discover the same. You show others what you have discovered by living your life, by being compassionate and loving, respectful, and being a vassal of service at every opportunity. To embrace love because one is so loved can be overwhelming at times. It is just so simple, however, so absolutely right there in front of you all the time, yet so powerful.

A full embrace of spirituality is about accepting things as they are. Prayer is the one time you are demanded to use your imagination. If you are paying attention, most of the time it just leaves you stunned; all we can do is say thank you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

There's a Place in the World for a Gambler

Weekly Poker with Al, Steve, and Sir Isaac 
(we don't always talk about quantum mechanics)
(yes, I generally outsmart all three of them - because I CHEAT)

There's a place in the world for a gambler
There's a burden that only he can bear
And he Sees, oh yes he Sees

There's a song in the heart of a woman
That only the truest of loves can release
Set it Free

There's a light in the depth of your darkness
 There's a calm at the eye of every storm
Let it Shine 

lyrics by Dan Fogelberg 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

the Magical Approach

Writing in this blog has been like opening a long-closed and covered window to let in fresh air and sunshine. Life seems to be sluggish at times because my bucket is always full; there is no room for novelty and fresh insight until I pour off some of what fills my head. The blog allows me to capture the overflow by writing it down to make room for a renewed flow of energy, ideas, and imagination. There have always been journals that I've written in throughout my life, note cards with reminders of ideas or quotes, and pages upon pages of notes that get stuffed or filed somewhere and forgotten. While the blog is published in a public forum, it is written essentially for my own satisfaction, but I don't mind sharing it. People generally don't read much these days, at least anything over 140 characters, so there is little danger that I will ever have to manage comments. It is just a joy to let it out and allow my mind to work through its machinations to organize my flow of thoughts in some sort of coherent manner.

Emptying out on a daily basis has again led me to read more, to think more, and to dream more. It has brought magic and surprise back into my daily life, along with the wonder and awe that I normally seek as I play in the world. While my attention seems focused on more complex and weighted issues of spirituality, politics, history, mysticism, archaeology, science, and so on, the net impact, personally, has been a simplification of my orientation toward problems and personal and societal concerns and a return to a childlike magical approach. I've been around for awhile and find that the magical approach is the best way to steer through life - to be as a child once again. It seems to contribute to the balancing of all manner of conditions, whether they be physical or mental health or with relationships and outlook. I seem to be restored to a certain harmony with the universe. Once again I find that feeling - that magical feeling - that I felt as a child. I default to an instinctive level of trust and faith in all things. It opens up my options, expands my comprehension, rendering any difficulties or challenges that I may have been experiencing in the recent present as no longer important or worthy of my concern.

The blog has allowed me to dump the jetsam and flotsam that have been weighing me down, and no longer hesitate to cut the cords of my parachute. No matter how fast you free fall, the ground always seems to be coming up faster than you like. When time no longer matters and you are free to fly, it is amazing just how far you can glide and how much fun you can have on your run into the finish.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Just Passing Through

I was running through the world one day,
half deciding not to stay,
when I found you running there,
half a life behind me in time
but so close in space
that you reached out
and touched my heart.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

On my way back home

 “A Message From The Hopi Elders”
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.
Here are the things that must be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know our garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal. Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word “struggle” from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for!”

- Oraibi, Arizona, Hopi Nation

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Love, Devotion, and Surrender

Love, devotion and surrender.
To serve and never be tired is love.
To learn and never be filled is devotion.
To offer and never to end is surrender.

Love is man's reality
Devotion is man's divinity.
Surrender is man's immortality.

Reality is all pervading.
Divinity is all elevating, and
Immortality is all fulfilling.

Sri Chinmoy

Love is sweet, devotion is sweeter, surrender is sweetest.
Love is sweet. I have felt this truth in my mother's spontaneous love for me.

Devotion is sweeter. I have discovered this truth in my mother's pure devotion towards the perfection of my life.

Surrender is the sweetest. I have realized this truth in my mother's constant surrender towards the fulfillment of my joy.

Again, love is mighty, devotion is mightier, surrender is the mightiest.

Love is mighty. This truth I feel when I look at my father's face.
Devotion is mightier. This truth I discover when I sit at the feet of my father

Surrender is the mightiest. This truth I realize when I live in the breath of my father's will.

Love, devotion and surrender. St. Augustine has blessed us with a profound message, "Love and then do what you like."

Our mind thinks that this is absolutely true. Our heart feels that this is undeniably true. But unfortunately, in our day to day life we are not able to practice it. That is to say, we do not know what love is. We do not know why we love something or someone. Finally, we do not know how to love.

What is love? From the spiritual and inner point of view, love is self expansion. Human love binds and is bound. Divine Love expands, enlarges itself. Here we are dealing with the Divine Love.

Devotion is the intensity in love, and surrender is the fulfillment of love. Why do we love? We love because at every moment we are pinched with hunger to realize the highest, to feel the inmost, to be consciously one with the universe, with the universal truth, universal light, peace and bliss, and to be completely fulfilled.

How to love? If we love with a view of achieving something from others, then that love is no love. Love means constant self offering on the strength of one's own inner aspiration.
This world of ours needs peace, joy, bliss, harmony, and understanding. We feel that here on earth there is no fight, no truth, no divinity, nothing of the sort. All the divine qualities, all aspects of the Lord Supreme are in the skies, in the deep blue skies, not here. This is what we feel. Hence we always look up high for help. We feel that God is in heaven, not on earth. God will come down into the world to our rescue. He is not to be found here on earth. Here we are wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance. There can be no light, no truth here.

But we must realize that, God being Omnipresent, He is here too. He is within us. He is without us. In the inmost recesses of our heart, we feel His living Presence.

As you all know, George Bernard Shaw has warned us, "Beware of the man whose God is in the skies." But our God is everywhere. He is not only in heaven, He is here on earth. He is with us, He is within us, and He is for us. We do not have to enter into the highest regions of consciousness to see God. Our inner cry will bring to the fore our inner divinity, which is nothing other than God.

Surrender is protection, and surrender is illumination. Surrender is our perfection. We begin our journey at the very commencement of our life. We surrender our existence to our parents and the result is protection. We listen to our parents. We surrender to their will, to their advice and suggestions, and we are protected, well protected. Joy boundless we felt in our day to day life when we were children. Why? Because we surrendered our personal will, our own inner thinking to our parents. Here immediately we received joy plus protection. In protection is joy and in joy is protection.
Now in the evening of our life, what happens? If we follow the inner life and the spiritual life, in the evening of our life we surrender. To whom? To the Inner Pilot, the Lord Supreme. At the end of our journey we surrender our very breath to the Supreme. Then we again get joy, perfect joy, unalloyed joy.

To quote Dante, "The happiest man is he who can connect the evening of his life with the beginning."

Now, if we are all sincere seekers of the ultimate Truth, then our journey begins with surrender to our parents, who are our well wishers, who are our dearest and nearest ones. When we surrender to them our existence, we get joy in abundant measure. Then, when we walk along the path of spirituality, every moment we try to listen to the dictates of our inner being. The more we listen to the inner being, the greater is our joy, the higher is our fulfillment; and then, when our term is over, when we have to enter into another world for a short rest, if we consciously surrender to God's Will, ours will be the supreme joy, ours will be the glory supreme.

It is difficult to love mankind. It is difficult to devote oneself to mankind. It is difficult to surrender oneself to mankind. This is true. In the same way, it is difficult for us to love God, to serve God, to devote ourselves to God, and to surrender our living breath to God.
Now, why? The simple reason is: we want to possess and be possessed. Now, here we are constantly making ourselves victims of ignorance. That is to say, our desire can never be fulfilled. We have countless desires. God will fulfill only those desires that will be of some use, from which we will derive benefit. But if He fulfilled our countless desires, then He would be doing an injustice to our aspiring souls. That He will not do. He knows what is best for us and He has given us beyond our capacity, even beyond our necessity. But unfortunately we are unaware of this fact.

St. Francis, from his own experience, has offered a unique truth to the world at large, " He who thinks that God's Love is inadequate is very greedy." Really we are all greedy people. If we go deep within, we see, we feel, we realize that God has given us infinitely more than we need, needless to say, more than we deserve.

Love, devotion and surrender. These are the three rungs in the spiritual ladder, or should we say the ladder of our evolving consciousness. The first rung is love; the second, or you can say the penultimate, is devotion; and the ultimate is surrender.

A tiny drop enters into the ocean and becomes the mighty, the boundless ocean. Unfortunately in the West, surrender is misunderstood. We feel that if we surrender to someone, that means he will lord it over us. We will have no individuality and personality. From the ordinary point of view, the human point of view, this is true. From the spiritual point of view, it is absolutely wrong. When the finite enters into the infinite, it becomes the infinite all at once. When a tiny drop enters into the ocean, we cannot trace the drop. It becomes the mighty ocean.

Each moment we are given ample opportunity to love mankind, and if we really love mankind, then we have the feeling of devoted service to mankind. And then when we really want to enlarge our existence, expand our consciousness and be one, inseparably one with the vast, then surrender is the only answer.

Each moment we see right in front of us a barrier between one human being and another human being-an adamantine wall between two human beings. We cannot communicate properly, wholeheartedly, and soulfully. Why? Because we are wanting in love. Love is our inseparable oneness with the rest of the world, with God's entire Creation. We can break asunder this adamantine wall that we feel between us on the strength of our soulful love.
India's greatest poet, Rabindranath Tagore, said, "He who loves finds the door open." So our heart's door is already open for those who really, truly, and soulfully love.

God loves us out of His Infinite Bounty, and His Heart's Door is always wide open. Just because He is all Love, we approach Him. He is our dearest, not because He is Omniscient and Omnipotent, but just because He is all Love.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Pacing the Cage

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you've lived too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And everyone was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage, pacing the cage *

*  lyrics by Bruce Cockburn

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Revolution of One

 The most important thing a person can do to bring about positive change in a conflicted world is to practice compassion and be kind - not just to those you love, but especially to those that do not agree with you. When you are able to remove self from self and empathize with compassion for another, only then will the planet begin to evolve to be a better place. Acts of kindness have the capacity to sort out everything and everyone and become the catalyst for change that will move the world. Be kind to yourself first by loving and respecting who you are, removing all those things in yourself that you disrespect in others as well, as the hidden things in yourself that you do not respect. Think pure thoughts and the world will begin to move forward rapidly. If we are true to ourselves and act in our own best interests, then we are doing what is best for others too. The magic of grace interlocks everybody. Express yourself in words of love and words of joy. Celebrate your divinity and oneness with all things, and don't be so serious. Know that you co-create your own reality always, and are never a victim. Peace be with you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

the Limits of Tolerance for the Common Good

In most places throughout the world people are not able to safely make their most personal convictions public. The United States is one of the few bastions of freedom where people of all creeds and colors are invited to practice their religious and political beliefs openly without concern for discrimination or prosecution. It is a nation that has always been distinctive as a healthy diverse religious democracy. While there are often great differences in religious beliefs and practices most people are tolerant of their fellow Americans who have different lifestyles and convictions.

Each religious tradition has its own definition of justice. This is where tolerance must yield to the common welfare of the collective citizenry of the nation. It would be nice if there was one common definition of justice that treated everyone fairly and equally, but that is not the case. In the United States we pride ourselves on being a nation of laws originating from our founding documents. In order for all people to get along, all citizens must agree to yield to guidelines established by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

There is considerable resistance on the part of many Americans toward the unchecked influx of Muslims resulting from the loose and often illegal policies of the Obama administration. People who are characteristically very tolerant of differences of expression in the greater community are angry, not only because they see a dramatic increase in violence on the part of practicing Muslims toward innocent American civilians, but because they see a tradition whose adherence to sharia law circumvents a cooperative understanding that all Americans yield to the definition of justice as defined by the Constitution.

Sharia is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith, and is considered the infallible law of God. Adherence to sharia has served as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Muslim faith historically. Sharia is considered a body of moral and religious law derived from religious prophecy, as opposed to human legislation. For American Muslims this becomes problematic - follow precepts laid down by God or set them aside for laws made my humans. For most Muslims there can be no compromise. Sharia is part and parcel of the Islamic faith.

The ongoing conflict between the sons of Abraham representing Christian and Islamic beliefs extends back beyond the Crusades. Any reconciliation for the two cultures to live peacefully together may always be pre-empted by the requirement of Muslims to practice sharia.The concept of crime, judicial process, justice and punishment embodied in sharia is different from that of secular law. The differences between sharia and secular law have led to an ongoing controversy as to whether sharia will ever be compatible with secular forms of government, human rights, freedom of thought, and women's rights.

America is not a place where diverse definitions of justice, like sharia, can be tolerated. There once were people in America that believed lynching was justice, even though it was outside the law. It was not justice for most of the rest of us. Should we say that the lynchers just had a different idea, or should we say the lynchers were wrong? How do we deal with lynchers? Do we empathize with love, without condoning their actions? Do we educate them about the law? Or do we put them in jail because that is the justice that Americans believe in? In a similar light, there is no room for Sharia law in America or in any of its expressions. The Constitution must be followed if Muslims choose to live here and become citizens. A healthy diversity depends upon certain agreements such as this. Without agreement we risk fracturing a diverse way of life that has worked better than any other in the world for more than two hunded years. Muslims are welcome to become a part of the American community, but sharia law has no place in America.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

the Zen of Running

Dancing in space
Clad in clouds
Eating the sun and holding the moon
The stars are my retinue*

While living in Boulder under the shadow of the Flatirons in 1982, my neighbor and running partner Paul Harris and I would chase across the Enchanted Mesa daily from Chautauqua Park to Eldorado Canyon testing each others limits of pain and suffering while exploring lofty existential questions from a Buddhist perspective. Paul was studying at the Naropa Institute under the tutelage of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It was a heady time in my life and instrumental in steering me toward further studies of the Buddha's path and meditative practice. Paul continued as a practicing Buddhist while I have continued to live a life of physical action in line with the Buddhist off-shoot of Zen.

Who am I? Where do I fit within the scheme of things? Am I following the right path? There are times during a long run or race when I receive the clearest understanding to these inquiries of any other time in my life. I've always said the mountains were my sanctuary and trail running my prayer. In that sense my running has always been a time outside of the daily routine where I steady my mind and practice an actionable form of meditation.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with information, where we are constantly pressed to produce and achieve. The practice of mindfulness, essentially Buddhist meditation, is increasingly taking hold in the West, contrasting with the otherwise violent frenzy of our culture. I hear other runners referring to receiving similar spiritual benefits during physical activity. People are looking for a non-reactive stillness or serenity to balance or stop the world and counter the stressful overload that is undermining and preventing us from living fully. People sense this; they don't want to have a life that is just dictated by cultural expectations.

Buddhism employs practices that can be done in a secular fashion, as opposed to ritual practice of traditional religion, without all the ideologies attached. You can be a Christian, a Jew, an atheist, or a Muslim and these practices are just as applicable, accessible, and fruitful. The institutionalization of religions has led to a well-formulated set of rigid answers. Buddhism is a living response to living questions, and therefore melds well with all belief systems. Buddhism speaks directly to people of all ideological persuasions; its teachings seem to address the needs of people across time. The power of Buddhism's ability to thrive throughout any culture is not because it has a certain fixed set of dogmas, but because it has managed again and again to reinvent itself. Buddhism's spread has to do with its ability to trigger imaginative transformations in those that are drawn to it who can engage with its ideas and practices. Its teachings continue to have contemporary appeal because they address the perennial suffering of humanity.

Religion caters to peoples' need for security. In a highly contingent, unpredictable, changing, and tragic world, religion provides us with a sort of stable foundation upon which we can begin to make sense of it all. In that regard it has a vital place in the world, but it obscures what is radical, what is original, what is unsettling in what the Buddha or Jesus was saying. The Buddha did not offer a consolidating view of the world to help us better cope with our lives. (and I suspect neither did Jesus). What the Buddha aimed for was to see us be more engaging with our lives without basing them on non-negotiable dogmatic beliefs.

I began by studying the Eightfold Path to enlightenment but gradually migrated from the disciplined practices of Buddhism to the more practical approach of Zen. While the meditative practice of Buddhism led me to inner peace and elucidation, I felt like it took my focus away from the mystery of life. In my youth, the mystery was more enticing. Zen cultivates perplexity and astonishment, wonderment and doubt. As a movement in China about a thousand or so years after the Buddha, Zen sought to rebel against the consolidating certainties of scholarship and belief and return to what the Buddha's own experience was when he left the luxurious life that he was brought up in and went outside the palace to experience the lives of the sick and aging poor. That is where the sense of astonishment, curiosity, and deep, deep bafflement began that led to his awakening as he sought resolution to the primary existential questions he encountered. Christianity too has migrated away from the life of Jesus, with much the same result. Zen seeks to recover the spirit of awe and discovery in life experienced by the Buddha, or Jesus for that matter. Buddhism has become a set of fixed answers to the essential questions; the questions inevitably seem to slip away and get forgotten. Zen returns to the primacy of questioning. While Buddhism is very much an intellectual discipline, the concluding guiding message from Zen for me was to burn my Zen books and just "Do it", which I have been following ever since.

Astonishment, Wonder, Doubt and Questioning are at the root of a Zen spiritual life, nurturing a deep curiosity about the meaning of existence. It is a rigorous intellectual practice of action. Zen has very exotic, metaphysical teachings as well as attractive mystical aspects. It has always filled a void within me. However you term it - existential, agnostic, atheist, secular - Zen provides a path to recover what is at the heart of the Buddhist tradition; it is not religious, but merely seeks a language to address the primary questions that face us all at one time or other in life. It is not just something to believe in, but a way to act within the world.

A person begins to die when they cease to be surprised at every moment, like a child. Socrates said that the source of philosophy is wonder. Buddhism, in and of itself, doesn't seem to have much room for that. I was drawn to Zen where wonder is emphasized as the central point. I seek to be surprised in each moment, with every experience and by each person I meet. This wonderful moment is one I have never lived before. I feel a strong sense to celebrate and express gratitude for the gift I receive at each moment.

I consider the classic Meditation on Death most every day: "Since death alone is certain, but the time of death uncertain, what should I do?" It is an ancient human question that we each face. It is a question that penetrates our primary sense of being in the world. My sense of being in the world is deeply infused with the acknowledgement that this may very well be my last day on earth - today. Reflection on death is neither morbid nor gloomy. The more you ask this question the more it brings you back to the vibrant sense that you truly are alive. It intensifies the sense of aliveness through all your senses, a celebration of being here at every moment - a sense of wonder, a sense of awe, a sense of possibility, a sense of responsibility with what you say, think, and do. Today may be my final legacy. That's where the reflection leads me, making life that much fuller, allowing me to flourish and perhaps approach more of my true potential. 

Before us great Death stands
Our faith held close within its quiet hands.
When with proud joy we lift Life's red wine
To drink deep of the mystic shining cup
And ecstacy through all our being leaps -
Death bows his head and weeps.**

 * poem by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
** poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, November 7, 2016

the Anxiety of Growing Pains

Anxiety is an unavoidable part of life. We should always acknowledge the anxiety in our lives, but never let it turn into fear. The origin of the word anxiety comes from a root that means narrowness and choking. Our original anxiety is our birth anxiety. We all come into this world through this very uncomfortable process of being born. It is a life and death struggle for both the mother and the child. In childbirth both mother and child have to be fearless. Fear is the resistance against anxiety. When you don't fight anxiety and just go with it, it brings you into birth; when you resist it, you can die in the womb.

Anxiety is a reasonable response to a lot of human experience. It is important to acknowledge and affirm it because to deny our anxiety is really just another form of resistance. Fear occurs when we resist. It ends up taking our bodies and minds in a completely different direction. When we look back at the most difficult times of our lives through which we suffered anxiety, we find we somehow always got through them. We made it; we prevailed against whatever odds, despite our anxiety. And when you look back at the very worst of times you can generally identify a beginning of something completely new in your life. Herein lies the lesson. When we find ourselves in a tight spot, if we just have patience and faith, and just go with the associated anxiety, it can result in a new birth. Trust in life. Always look for opportunities for growth in the worst of circumstances.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

We Are Spirits in the Material World (Sting)

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
They subjugate the meek
But it's the rhetoric of failure

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it's something we can't buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world

From an early age I always had a certain sensitivity to the underlying world unseen. By paying attention to subtle clues around me I have been able to develop certain talents that gave me advantage in negotiating the world successfully. Learning how to create favorable circumstances without much effort has enabled me to live comfortably and always have choice. It is hard to define exactly what I do to achieve this because it usually results in someone accusing me of manipulating others to get what I want. In essence, that is a fairly accurate description, but such manipulation has always been with the good of the collective in mind. Always.

There is a certain counter-intuitive position entrenched in the prevailing ‘educated’ culture that outright denies the possibility that people might have such talents. Scientific materialism lumps folks like me into labeled categories as psychics or just plain freaks, one step away from the recycle bin. While Western society embraces tolerance, it only means tolerance of what fits into the politically correct narrow definition of reality. Much of my internal life is outside the lines they draw, so I largely keep things to myself to avoid social distress. It seems necessary for people to have some sort of jolting psychic encounter before they take a stand in opposition to reigning dogmas.

As I have often conveyed, my world changed with a Near Death Experience (NDE) in 1973. While the doors of my perception were letting in light that others did not perceive prior to that existential event, surviving a drowning in the surf off Emerald Isle in North Carolina opened a world where even shadows have no place to hide. Anyone who has had such an epiphany cannot help but challenge mainstream materialist thinking.

I've always had psychic experiences - precognition, past-life regressions, and telepathy as well as encounters with other worlds and entities not focused in our physical world. Yeah, I have always communicated with spooks. All of this experience that I find normal is officially verboten because it contradicts the materialist creed. It implies some sort of independent reality beyond the material world and suggests that people survive bodily death. Officially, they want us to believe that nothing follows death. Anyone who has experienced a NDE is loaded with ammunition to argue.

I knew I wasn't alone, so from an early age I sought out metaphysical writings that supported my experience. For three years around 1980 I engaged weekly in remarkable experimentation in realms beyond our own with a group of three other amazing talents. My library probably rivals those of Art Bell and George Noory of Coast to Coast A.M. With the support and encouragement of my contacts and readings, my perception of reality and myself has long since migrated away from the consensually agreed upon definition of reality. I no longer give much attention to or argue with know-it-alls that pontificate about the non-existence of things I know by personal acquaintance. My own experience and the experience of countless human beings blatantly contradict the worldview of reductive physicalism. In my book, experience trumps theoretical obsession every time.

When I taught high school science in the Eighties I found a healthy receptiveness and enthusiasm for psychic topics and practice. Many students expressed considerable talent for psychic expression and even some of the staff and administration was open-minded enough to invite me to speak to groups of adults as well as kidults in some lively sessions, even by invitation to other schools. While the mainstream largely pooh-poohs such discussion and practice, enough people have some affinity for the topic that I can generally find a kindred spirit anywhere I go, even though we are in the minority at this time in history.

Physicalist metaphysics and practical materialist ideologies are triumphant almost everywhere on the planet today. Materialists condemn anything outside of their own narrow worldview, including every variation of spiritualism and the whole of ‘religion’ as nonsensical and pernicious, even psychopathic. The predominating materialist view denies questioning or belief beyond their own self-prescribed dogma. Once we acknowledge the reality of a broader worldview, we can appreciate the positive contribution of all spiritual ideologies.

A contrasting spiritualistic view of the world is broadly shared by a significant portion of scholars and thinkers that have ever lived, but most of them are no longer among us. At this point on the planet we seem to be a minority, a voice in the wilderness of self-destructing neo-liberalism, at a time when materialist values in all their expressions act to the detriment of life everywhere. Materialism today is not just a philosophical position to argue about conceptually. It is an attitude, a disposition that has become a cancer metastasizing throughout the world. It needs to be not just intellectually refuted but excised from the entrails of a morally challenged culture.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Seeding Reality

 Following a Near-Death Experience of drowning in 1973, loving messages from guardian entities were subsequently conveyed to me regarding my specific purpose for being here in this incarnation - my mission, so to speak. When asked in casual conversation what I do for a living (since I don't have an occupation other than to play) I am always tempted to tell someone what it is, actually, that occupies my attention outside of play. The short answer is that I am involved with nurturing the evolution of consciousness on this planet through measured focus and prayer. Of course, that begs further inquiry, so I'll briefly open my kimono and elaborate for those who have their windows and doors open, who otherwise recognize the light.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, we are in the middle of a shift of consciousness at this point in our evolutionary history on this planet. Perhaps you have begun to notice subtle shifts in your own awareness of the world. All of us are involved and will experience the impact of the change that is occurring to one degree or another.

One of the most readily acknowledged laws of the universe is that you get what you focus upon. Our world seems to reflect a considerable amount of chaotic and disturbing energy right now. You may feel things are getting worse, but you must recognize it is your focus that is directly feeding this energy and keeping it going. My prayers and focus are upon promoting a balanced vision for the world. That's my job. Focusing on negative events is a misuse of our incredible gift of co-creating our reality. Without realizing it you may be manifesting and perpetuating what you don't want in physical reality by focusing your thoughts/emotions/creative energy upon negative manifestations.

Thoughts and emotions imprint energy. Einstein told us everything is vibration. The field of energy of which we are all a part is neutral until given an impetus. Energy waits for your imprint, your projection. If you find yourself in an ocean of mis-creation, characterized by poverty, illness, violence, and limitation, you have a choice, an opportunity to shift your focus. You alone are responsible for calling forth this shift to begin to reconcile creation.

Every advance of humanity, every revolution was the result of people re-directing their focus toward a different outcome, thinking outside the box, so to speak. Even the tiniest of shifts moved the consciousness of humanity along its evolutionary path. Examples abound - fire, agriculture, flying like a bird, computers. Advances in scientific inquiry and focus are opening a heretofore unimagined reality with all manner of quantum entanglements. It is proven beyond question that when any two particles of matter interact, they continue to interact regardless of the distance between them. They remain connected, or entangled. When there is any sort of energetic change to either one of the particles, the other particle will change at the same instant. Any thought or act that you have impacts every other part of the universe simultaneously - a proven fact.

While it is convenient to believe the 'you of you' stops at the physical edges of your body, you have an energy component that extends beyond your body without limits. Everything you think, feel, and do has unrealized impact. If you fear, worry, and allow stress to negatively impact you, your DNA and that of those around you contracts; when you experience joy, gratitude, and appreciation, DNA strands expand. Your cells respond to everything you do energetically. You have an awesome underlying awareness of the world around you and abilities that you may only be discovering how to use to influence that world. Everything is interconnected. All of nature is interdependent.

All words, thoughts, emotions, actions, and focus influence the quantum field of reality. We each have the power to shift the entire field of collective consciousness. One person can make a huge difference. It may seem that you have made no impact, but the science of quantum physics demonstrates otherwise. When you begin to imagine the possibility of a new reality around you, you set into motion the seeding of that new world you envision.

So think BIG. Imagine the possibilities. Explore beyond the limits you perceive. Focus on the world that you want, and not on the world that you don't want, and along with other kindred spirits you begin to co-create that world and shift away from mis-creations. Stretch your imagination and have faith in the unseen. We are all entangled and interfaced with a quantum energy field of limitless potentiality. The more you hone your focus the more you increase the potency of your individual impact, as well as making a contribution to collective creation. Each of us is far more magnificent that we appreciate. Pay attention to what you focus on at each moment and embrace your magnificence as you seed the reality that you most desire.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Time for Well-Trodden Paths

The power pyramid that has characterized our society, our whole civilization, from the very beginning, for at least the most recent 6000 years, throughout our culture - in our education, music, science, religion, government, economics - has all been advanced at the price of oppression and exploitation. If you speak to people close to the top who really have an insight - (I have been personally fortunate, having been exposed to successful  people from all over the world while living much of my adult life in Vail, Colorado, to have spent quality one-on-one time with significant people at the top of our culture - Cabinet members, heads of state from Europe and the Middle East, Illuminati, and renowned cultural icons in sports, business, education, science, religion, and music) - there has been a consensus for quite some time that we are approaching some sort of significant end of the road. Things are breaking down because the form and structure of this pyramid, the very paradigm upon which we engage the world and how we create it, has no future.

Those with ideas for the future say it will be replaced by networking. Catholic priest Raimon Panikkar, one of the great minds of the 20th Century, said it best with: “The future will not be a new, big tower of power. Our hope in the future is … well-trodden paths from house to house. That is the image that holds a lot of promise for our future.”

We have lived through many crises throughout our civilizational history. The crisis we face today may seem to be delivering us to the brink of self-annihilation. The stakes seem higher and more urgent because it is the only time in history that we are personally familiar with. But there is a monumental transition occurring apart from our limited experience. When we look at the reckless impact that we collectively make upon our limited home planet, when we look at the thoughtless violence that seems to be increasing throughout the world, we know we are living in a dark time. 

Rather than panic, I believe we must take faith in our inevitable advance upon the planet by looking back and remembering that all of the most difficult experiences of our civilizational history have led to a major reset, a new direction, to an ultimately improved human condition on the planet. Things have progressed with a positive tendency through the worst of all times. I believe the times we live in right now will be fundamentally no different, even though in the short term we may suffer immensely.

One thing seems apparent, as forecast by all the wisdom teachings of the last 6000 years - the prevailing power structure built on oppression and exploitation is drawing to a close. A new age of inter-dependency is upon us. Take faith. Be kind. Think gentle thoughts. Be ready to jump.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quantum Dreaming

The central pillar of quantum physics is what can be termed "the observer effect" in which the act of observation is not merely passive reception of information, but is in reality a very much inclusive creative act we are all engaged in, knowingly or unknowingly, every moment of our lives. One cannot help but wonder how the world would change, and how quickly, if the general population understood what quantum physics is telling us - that we have all been endowed with the power to co-create every detail of our own reality.

In the practice of lucid dreaming we learn to control ourselves, as opposed to controlling the dream, getting in touch with our sovereign power to co-create what occurs within the dream landscape. When you become consciously aware inside a dream you can make conscious choices as to how you wish to interact with the dream experience. What would happen if more of us could become aware of the world-shaping creative power that we wield? If we can learn how to make choices while dreaming, how would things change if we wake up to our powers of quantum creation in our daily lives?

Have some people already figured out how to apply their own power for personal success and happiness? Could everyone learn what they have discovered and apply a deeper understanding of the connection between consciousness and the manifestation of our experience in the world? In both our night and waking dream worlds? While night dreams and our waking world appear to be different, are they, deep down in their essence, really different, or are they made of the same stuff? Spiritual wisdom traditions through the ages —including quantum physics— have indicated we live in a sort of dreamlike reality. Perhaps we need to take their considerations seriously and realize we are all just living in one big dream. Becoming lucid in our waking dream would change everything.

Could the process of transforming our semi-conscious waking state into one of lucid choice-making be the very shift that our species needs to make the evolutionary transition from “Homo Somnabulens” to “Homo Lucidus”? Perhaps an engaged understanding of quantum physics may be the thing that enables us to finally bring about and e-lucid-ate a comprehensive and long dreamed for bridge between spirituality and science. The real potential of Lucid-Dreaming Quantum Physics may be a human world that is able to collectively embrace the power of lucid dreaming to bring into physical reality its yet unrealized yearnings that lie deep within the unfulfilled dreams of the night and the human heart.As quantum physics reflects, often asking the right question is more important than finding the right answer!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fire Within Me

All humans are religious beings. We are all open to this great mystery that surrounds us. Some use the word God. Whether or not we do, we all confront this great mystery. In that sense religiousness is very close to spirituality. Out of this religiousness humans have historically created these social bodies called religions. A religion usually begins with a founder that is a particularly spiritual person. Then it kind of gets a life of its own. It freezes as it ultimately evolves to become institutional and imperial, losing its fire and its spirit. To use the metaphor of Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, all religions are like volcanoes. At one time they were spewing fire and were a wonderful spectacle. But then the lava hardens and we begin to forget that at one point there was fire. Here and there someone comes along, like Mother Teresa or Oscar Romero, who makes a little crack in the hardened lava and out comes this live fire again to reignite our hearts where the core of every religion is to be found. This is where the spirituality of the individual keeps ideas about our take on the great mystery alive. While religions come and go, the spiritual sense of our place in the great mystery remains.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Peaceful Warrior

the warrior without a sword
riding on a rainbow
hears the limitless laughter of
 transcendent joy

The Spartan Warrior in Me

I must have been a Spartan warrior in a former life. It is a lifestyle and mindset that suits me, and maybe always has. Being a Spartan in...