Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Paranormality is the New Reality

Have you ever met Bigfoot? Well, neither have I, but not for the lack of trying. When I was a kid, many years ago, my mom took us on a summer adventure searching for Sasquatch (although she denies it now). That was a long time ago – way back before Bigfoot even had an agent.

A lot of things have changed since then. In those days, no one used the term “paranormal” yet, referring to all the crazy stuff that science couldn’t easily explain, like UFOs, ESP, ghosts and evidence of the afterlife, unknown species of hominids, and the possibility of life on other planets. Even alternative energy sources, quantum physics, animal intelligence and all the rest were simply considered to be “koo koo,” with one finger circling your ear.
 Of course, nowadays what we call paranormal is possibly more normal than what we call normal.

“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is opposed. Third, it is regarded as self-evident.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

What does paranormal really mean? The Greek prefix para means “besides; alongside of; or beyond.” As such, paranormal refers to a normality that runs alongside of our usually accepted standards. Geometrically speaking, it “shares a common side, and a common vertex,” or source. So in its basic sense, it is adjoined to what’s normal, and comes from the same point of origin.
To Webster, it’s basically everything that isn’t understandable scientifically. But if you go back (or especially if you stay put) anywhere in human history, that would mean that everything we’ve ever learned (or will learn) scientifically either has been, or currently is, in a way paranormal.

The ascension of the paranormal in our cultural reality isn’t the result of all those ancient alien gods or ghost hunters streaming on your flatscreen. No, those shows are simply symptomatic of the new reality I’m talking about. The real contributors to our change are the rapidly expanding consciousness flooding our world, and the realization of it through our technological global mind, the internet, which simultaneously informs and connects all intelligence on our planet. In short, it’s cause is the spiritual and technological evolution of humankind.

Way back when, the existence of the internet would have been popularly considered a scientific impossibility, but now it’s a functioning metaphor, pointing directly to the foundation of much of what we’ve always considered to be paranormal; that is, a magically interconnected world, where anything that can be imagined is truly possible.
In the wake of quantum physics, and the description of an observer-dependent, wave-based reality where matter realizes itself from the fluid energy alive in the quantum vacuum, crystallized in a musical, extra-dimensional geometry; and then consciousness arises within that matter, connected faster than the speed of light within the “cosmic plenum” or “zero-point field” (the alchemists’ unus mundus), it becomes clear that little is outside the realm of possibility – especially as long as we’re flying around on this planet in outer space. All of that “real” stuff sounds pretty paranormal, doesn’t it?

We used to think that only very particular things could be possible on our planet, which was clearly at the center of the stars revolving around it. Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler were paranormal koo-koos back then. Recently, the space telescope bearing Kepler’s name has discovered it’s one-thousandth earthlike planet. From that we can easily extrapolate the existence of an infinite number of planets like ours, and so too, an infinite array of human-like life forms (many of which, one way or another, possibly visit our little planet).

One of my favorite guys, Dr. Carl Jung, tried to partially describe these concepts of a paranormal cosmic ether or “Akashic Field,” and the “psycho-social” anomalous phenomena of extra-terrestrial travelers in his books, “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle,” and “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.” But despite his careful description of an independent, interlocking field of consciousness, and his rational suggestion of an archetypal based kind of mass-illusion at work in the world, there was no real way around the overwhelming scientific evidence, and personal testimony verifying the existence of each of these “new realities.” Like most scientists and academicians, he had to tread lightly, lest he upset the conventional apple cart, and destroy his professional credibility.
In that sense, the “psycho-social,” mass-illusion based theories of skeptical scientists can cut both ways. The same type of group ‘wishful thinking’ that can be applied to the average suggestible Joe can also apply to the traditional scientific community – to their own kind of ‘cognitive dissonance’ (or denial), evidenced by centuries of their membership in a Flat Earth Society of one kind or another. Another of Dr. Jung’s famous quotes comes to mind in this case:

“One of the main functions of organized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.”

  I wouldn’t be the first to suggest a similarity between organized religion and the institutions of science, but I may be one of the few people you’ve ever heard say that God is paranormal, and in fact, the very foundations of all our science and religion fit into a paranormal framework, rather than the other way around. What we call paranormal is always finally reached through further evidence of an enhanced reality, permitted by a more balanced, less insistently delusional approach, or by pure faith. There has always been a metaphysical core to the progress of our understanding.
When we simply sidestep conventional, archaic beliefs, and follow the paranormal path (from a common origin) that heads more directly along our spiritual and technological evolution – engaging a sixth sensory potential, you might say – we can start considering our new realities in a much more beneficial, even realistic way. We can even start to consider some of God’s “alternative” work.

Then UFOs are simply real indications of a technology that, being available to other people from the stars, is available to us – based only on the limits of our imaginations. On a personal paranormal note, I’ve witnessed three UFO events myself: “The Phoenix Lights;” a swarm of orbs; and a ‘star’ that zipped away, drawing a huge “Z” across the sky (…and I’m only high on life).
The silhouettes of “stealthy” aircraft, regular documented occurrences of different, “unidentifiable” crafts, the odd coincidence of “The Roswell Incident” with our sudden surge of technological innovation like integrated silicon circuitry, fiber optics, microwave technology, advanced construction materials, and the development of alternative propulsion, power sources, and artificial intelligence all suggest to fascinating new realities, many that are already commonly at use.

We may find the Crystal Skull phenomena kind of silly while we read about it on devices linked instantaneously to the global brain, operating on microscopically programmed crystal circuitry.
It becomes pretty impossible to imagine that some of those intensely elaborate, precisely hewn crop circles appear overnight thanks to techies with boards and rope.
There’s a ton of evidence, conjectural and empirical, for transpersonal communication (formerly ESP) in a human sense – not just in the reliably provable context of quantum non-locality and entanglement.
Reasonable investigation of the literal mountains of alternative archaeology can bring to light an entirely different history of humankind than what ‘s conventionally accepted; and the former science fiction of genetic manipulation and fabrication of species becomes reality, once we’ve mapped the human genome, and regularly manipulate those building blocks ourselves.
The confluence of “conspiracy theory” with the paranormal gets stood on its head by the revelations of whistleblowers, documenting our super hi-tech mass surveillance by ‘secret’ corporate and governmental agencies.

I also happen to be a three time near death survivor, and as such (along with hundreds of thousands of others) can testify to the experience of a broader, enhanced field of consciousness, beyond the limitations of our physical form (and I’m not particularly paranormal). This field of consciousness then could easily contain a profundity of animal intelligence – the understanding of which is being expanded upon by science everyday; as well as ghosts, aliens, and extra-dimensional phenomena of every kind. It could provide the basis of the very “cosmic plenum” that enables and energizes everything we experience as being either normal or “paranormal.”

I’m sorry to have left Bigfoot standing in the corner all this time. He must be feeling neglected – as hard as he is to ignore. But discoveries of “lost peoples,” and samples of early hominids, whose genomic analyses demonstrate relationships to completely unknown species of early man; along with the simple vastness of everything we have yet to discover, have got to make him, at least, not so paranormal after all. “I’m not going to flat out deny their existence,” says Jane Goodall, highly credible primate researcher, I’m sure that they exist.”

Perhaps we’d be better off embracing our paranormality. Or how about this? How about we just simplify all the old definitions, and call it all Reality.

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Creating Your Landscape with Karma, Intention, and Ego

...let's dance

" made by mind. If one speaks or acts with with a pure mind, happiness will follow..." 
 Buddha, The Dhammapada

In the course of our time here as our path takes us towards what some call self-realization, there is a kind of leveling of the landscape of our life, so to speak, as we get more and more accustomed to simply being alive and getting along. That which didn't kill us, has not killed us, yet. When we look back at the past, the rough features of that daily existence—which at the time seemed so difficult to maneuver—the power of all those dramas we took part in unconsciously diminish and the landscape over which our road has taken us seems to smooth out into a calm, even plain of being. Of what was, then. Just as the future arises unpredictably out of nothingness, the past simply returns to the uncreated, only popping up occasionally like a whack-a-mole when we need to re-learn the same lessons we've forgotten. 

 The landmarks left standing behind us are just the ruins of those "great dramas" that shaped us, that changed us. Their matter and mass blow away like sand castles in time-lapse photography. We intuitively understand our quantum reality, the way it builds and deconstructs—packets of energy and information that become real when they react with our consciousness, and one another. Nothing is actually solid. 

 Ahead, the landscape likewise appears even and smooth—except for potential obstacles arising that will only manifest themselves as difficult life-events if we invest them with too much of the wrong kind of energy, and turn them into monuments to future drama, future suffering. This includes the inevitable sorrows and losses of life. The death of a pet; the loss of a romance; a career disappointment; the passing of a parent. But as we go on, we learn that we can avoid a lot of the difficulty in those obstacles by approaching them a different way, maybe with love this time. We can climb to the top of those monuments to past or potential dramas and put them into perspective. We can energize their quanta with positivity.

Look out over the views behind and ahead of you, and notice that the landmarks left on the geography of your past are the same shape and made of the same stuff as those potential obstacles ahead. Become a geographical detective. What do those patterns mean, and where do they come from? Why are they always so familiar? You know you have built those forms out of potential energies, and going forward you know that you can bring anything into being by focusing your energies on it. That's "The Secret."

Once you determine your patterns, you can build your life landscape based on the three great life factors: Karma, Intention, and Ego:

Karma is practically self-explanatory at this point, the average person's consciousness now being evolved enough to almost automatically understand that each soul labors towards it's inherent completion, and the cause and effect generated by one's life or lives determines what's needed to complete the lessons. Life is the result of cause and effect. You have to do something because you have to learn that. Your life sets itself up with certain conditions, the luck of the draw and the seeds that you plant, so to speak. Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you. It's evidence of the spiritual evolution of our species that this formerly esoteric Eastern concept is now pretty well part of the global mainstream of thought. What goes around gets around.

Intention refers to the fact that we live in that thoroughly plastic, quantum world, where whatever you set the focus of your intention on, and follow the event stream of your life diligently and with passion, you can manifest out of the potentially material field of being. The trick is that you have to show upkeep trying, and believe. There are greater powers at work than meet the eye, and they are quite capable of producing your wildest dream, just as you are quite capable of preventing it by your own resistance and negativity. Which leads to the last of the three, Ego.

Ego is simply the mechanism by which one remains fictitiously attached to the visible, superficial, material aspects of the world. It fears the underlying change, which is life. It's the false self that keeps you out of alignment with The Divine by convincing you that you're separate from it, often because you "don't deserve it," when you naturally deserve to manifest your dreams as much as anyone. If you can put this Ego (judgment and comparison) aside, you'll immediately develop insight to being. Using this insight, life will show you your karma; and then when you focus your intention on following your life, you can take short-cuts along your karma path simply because your soul is learning the lessons it requires for completion. Jung called it IndividuationSome of us tree-huggers call it finding yourself.

"Samsara, the transmigration of life, takes place in one's mind. Let one therefore keep the mind pure, for what a man thinks that he becomes."
 Maitri Upanishad 6. 24

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Don't Be Afraid of Your Fear of Death (An Excerpt)

I talked a little about "scary" stuff back at the beginning, and that darn elephant is no doubt still in the room with us. Did you happen to notice that huge, quivering pink creature in the corner?  It's just our old companion, Fear.  
Fear is like a bad relation who shows up uninvited and moves in with you for an unspecified length of stay. Or just comes walking out of the guest room unexpectedly one morning, scratching his heinie and asking what's for breakfast. You don't want to have to feed him, but it's always hard not to when he moves in like that.  After all, it's only the human thing to do.
If I knew how much time I'd spent in my life fearing things that never happened, I would be stunned, I'm sure. It would be one of those statistics like how much time I've spent stuck in traffic, or what percentage of my life I've slept in total.  
At this point, I've probably spent years fearfully worrying about one thing or another. Yet when I think back on it, a good 98 percent of what I was worried about never came to pass. And if the other two percent did come to pass, it just kept right on passing without too much consequence—or even left me better off than before.
Sometimes, my fears were answered (especially if I was helping them along, as usual) or small fears came out of nowhere and suddenly became unjustifiably huge and seemingly insur-mountable. But then even those dark, looming threats turned into something self-imposed and imaginary—not based on anything real. But Fear certainly can feel plenty real, especially when a fearful situation appears on the horizon ahead, or suddenly and unex-pectedly seizes you by the neck.
Still, the one thing that has remained true at the end of all those fears is this:  At least nowin this momentI am still here (as well as can be expected) and things are okay. So I know those fears weren't as real as I am. And if you're with me now, reading this book, you are more real than those fears too. Yet even with this under-standing, this wisdom of everything's being just the way it's supposed to be, it's still very difficult not to let fear rent space in my head.

It seems to be even tougher to accept that Fear has almost always been good for me, because it's forced me to take some action that I'd been needing to take for some time. That's actually been the most real aspect of fear in my life. Then, simply recognizing the actions that I needed to take helped deflate the fear, and actually taking those actions gave me relief and renewal, and often took me to a new level of consciousness that I had never expected to find in such a "dark" place.

I imagine I would've been afraid of my Near Death Experiences, if I'd known they were coming. But I didn't. Unless we're very old, or very ill, or find ourselves in a very dangerous place, I don't think we ever see a chance of it coming. In any case, it never serves us to make up scary scenarios about death. Instead, you might try inventing something based on my testimony, as long as we're making things up. Like there's a good chance you may not even know when death is happening, or feel it much when it does; or that it may come quickly, as a pleasant, or even amazing thing.  So, as usual, much of that preliminary fear is not necessary at all.   
Occasionally, however, fear really is necessary—especially if you're being chased by a bear, or, God forbid, by a crocodile. I hate that. Now that's real Fear. But if there isn't a bear chasing you, then what you really fear when it comes to death is probably just the “Great Unknown," and that's understandable too.

What has always been the biggest question when it comes to accepting an unknown? Will it be good or will it be bad—right?  Am I going to be better off after this or not?  I've got a very simple answer when it comes to this one particular unknown: From my personal experience you have nothing at all to fear, except the harsh, but temporary, discomfort we might all have to expect in such a case. In the larger context, your outlook is excellent. If you're in the midst of unpleasantness and pain, the moment immediately after your transition you will instantaneously feel greatcompletely free of any of the painful physical circumstances that led up to that moment. And, on top of that, if your spiritual condition is already good here, everything will be downright delightful "there." If it isn't, you'll have a chance to improve it, since that is always the nature of the process. So the answer to your big question, "Will I be better off after this?" Is this:  Yes,  you will.

Of course I can only speak from my personal experiences. But keep in mind that thousands and thousands of people have gone on the record on this matter, and report incredibly wonderful things after their transitions. In fact, more often than not they have reported ecstatic releases, joyful reunions, and transcendent surroundings. They have reported experiences of a miraculous nature.  
Yet there are some rather bad reports as well. For example, my third experience was much darker than my first, or my second. But I believe that was because I'd become more and more blocked from Love in my life, and was carrying almost nothing but self-centered fear.  In one way or another, I believe that's the case with anyone who has a dark, or in some way hellish, transition. My experience didn't last long enough for me to delve deeper into that darkness, thank God; but I do understand a little something about Hell, having definitely touched on a bit of it myself. 

If you're living in that kind of self-centered fear in this life that I was, without Love in your heart, you're probably living in a kind of hell already.  Hell, as compared to how nice life can be.  Heaven is an open-hearted world full of Love and light; Hell is a self-centered world without it.  It is always so.

Excerpted from the book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond —now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Why Do We Have to Die?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”  Lao Tzu

I have the dubious distinction of having "died" three times, experiences I definitely don't recommend; and obviously, I didn't really die because I wouldn't be talking to you now. What I did do was to survive three "Near Death Experiences," each one completely different from the other; and since my book about it, How to Survive Life (and Death) was published, I've found myself answering a lot of questions about what death is, what it's like to die, and to the point of this piece: Why do we have to die?

Well, apparently I came back to give you some good news, and some bad news, all based on my (painfully obtained) understanding of it. The good news is that we don't really die, spiritually speaking, we only die to this life of flesh and bones and blood (but many of you suspected as much, I'm sure). The bad news is that we do have to die – our souls seem to require it. On top of that, we have to die in a number of different ways, none of which are all that pleasant, and all of which seem designed to accomplish the same thing. Here's what I mean by that:

If you've ever been around a loved one who's dying, or if you've ever been gravely ill or injured yourself, you know that there's no bluster left in your game in those moments. No claim to fame or fortune remains at all relevant in that grounding bubble of unfortunate reality. What's realized then is a state of absolute humility, where there's no longer any external importance attached, no pretense of "winning"–even though you really are, in a way, because you're free. That state of absolute humility is really a state of grace. You are reduced to the simplest condition of egoless selfhood – the state of simply being who you really are.

Counterintuitively, from that point on everything becomes possible, because in a way, you're starting over. In the grand–call it cosmically spiritual–picture, this happens in a big way when you actually physically die (reincarnation-wise, that is). But first, let's look at the other ways, the other "deaths" our souls require. Let's consider the 'living deaths' that also cause us to regenerate a new, unavoidably more authentic life. Let's look at the difficult times that lead us to be "born again" in this life.

When we witness the death of our family or friends. When a lover or spouse has a change of heart, and decides that they have to leave us and move on to their own new life. When a job or serious expectation we have suddenly, unexpectedly vaporizes – these are all "deaths," of a sort, that cause us to reconsider who we thought we were, and to consider anew who we may have to be from here on. Each death of this sort opens us up, strips us down, and makes us teachable about how we can change and improve our lives on that most important spiritual level – unattached to the material definitions and expectations that have failed to make us happy.

When we learn those hardest-of-all lessons – that our material, ego-based outsides aren't what's really important; when we "die" to that superficial sense of ourselves, and let go of who we thought we were, we instantly expand into Consciousness, and it suddenly becomes possible to become who we all authentically are not as separate, searching individuals – but instead as loving, giving, creative, contributing pieces of a divine wholeness. Expressions of a single, love-based reality.

Now, let's get back to when we actually die physically. According to the Tibetan Buddhist monks (who really do know all about this stuff), if we don't learn these lessons on a spiritual level, and continue behaving like human animals, delusionally feeding from one desire to the next, we'll be reincarnated as a wild beast, most likely. In the meantime, we'll destroy ourselves, each other, and our planet. Quite a setback on either count, you can be sure.

When I had my experiences I lost my earthly body, and I lost my material identity, but I never lost Consciousness. Instead, I was folded into it. In two of my three NDEs, a new life effervescently expanded around me, I was liberated from the constraining limitations of the material life, and seemingly anything became possible. 

So, I'm afraid we do have to die to this difficult form – in a number of difficult ways. That's the deal here, this is a difficult life. But if we, in a way, embrace death – our many "little" deaths and our one "big" one – they will liberate us to our new, unimaginably amazing and wondrous potential, in this life or our next.

And that (I have learned, the hard way) is why we have to die, and have to keep dying. Our souls require it to merge us into our greater life in Love and Consciousness – into a life beyond our wildest dreams.

"Without a dying to the world of the old order, there is no place for renewal, because…it is illusory to hope that growth is but an additive process requiring neither sacrifice nor death. The soul favors the death experience to usher in change."
James Hillman, Suicide and the Soul

Read a related article: Suicide and the Superficial Self, at Gaia's "Spiritual Growth."

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life, Death, and Baby Boomers––an Excerpt

"I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens."
                                              Woody Allen 

When I mentioned the quote earlier that Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you, I think that without a doubt the same is true for death. Death doesn't happen to you, it happens for you (unless you are eaten by a crocodile; that could not possibly be for you). We're all part of a much bigger set of ongoing considerations––the big picture I'm asking you to see as the context of your life. 

In particular, we need to escape that one self-centered cultural definition that's leading us so far astray––that death is our obliteration. The sad, absolute cessation of Life. The final chord of a sonata that starts wonderfully well, but ends in a dirge. That idea that we only have "one go-round," "one shot at it," and then "the party's over." There's a selfishness (a "sinfulness") in that definition that prevents us from living well, from showing up for each other with the proper compassionate presence. It's a self-centeredness that insists we should be getting something we want out of it all and each other when, instead, we could be forming true partnerships with one another––an understanding global fellowship of shared human experience––and creating a sane stewardship of life here on Earth. When we can get ourselves over this delusional assumption of self-importance, we can create a much less "sinful," more evolutionarily responsible, way of living.

If we know we're missing the mark with the cultural definition of death––one that leads to the fear of losing what we want to hang on to and the "I've gotta get mine before it's all over" approach––then what is a more realistic definition? What's the proper direction in which to aim our lives? Well, Shakespeare's always good for a few spiritual bull's-eyes, like this one: Death is a consummation most devoutly to be wished! So we can see death as a lifelong goal that we struggle to attain––one that we want to meet with preparation, with humility and honor, and with open-hearted promise. It is our matriculation of sorts.

Speaking from my own experience, death is an expansion into transcendent being, for crying out loud. We need to restore death to it's rightful place as a sacred ritual of passage. Let's get kind of Egyptian with it again. Don't mourn me; send me off with an open heart and a song!  This party is definitely not over.
It's absolutely essential that we show up for each other with this positive, life-affirming definition of death as a continuation of always being present. Contrary to what Woody Allen might request, you must never take a raincheck for anyone's dying. (That's the only "must" in the book.) While we supposedly have much busier lives than ever, that's just an illusion caused by technology. The really important parts of our lives are still what's really important. Put the business aside. What technology is best suited for is efficiently arranging our lives around those important people and occasions, so that we can maintain close contact with the loved ones involved in all of our momentous life events––making the appropriate reservations, booking the trip, and being there; contributing whatever you possibly can; showing up in a way that honors Life's real connections of the heart; bringing Love right up to the surface, front and center where it belongs. Again, it's not about me; it's about we.

Notice how when we're "coming to the end" of our time in this life with someone we love or for ourselves, just how precious and how special that remaining time together suddenly is. How intensely focused our love and appreciation for each other becomes in those few moments that are left. We need to try to treat each other that way all the time, and grow spiritually together in that kind of Love. We need to recognize the eternal in each other, always. That's what's really important here; everything else is a distant second place. These may be lofty ideals, granted, but pursuing them throughout our lives is time well spent, and leads to a sense of fulfillment that can never be matched in any other way.

From the time we reach that more adult perception we start to come upon as teenagers, to the time we lay ourselves down, our essential spirit remains generally young and energetic––especially in pursuing our passion for Life. It's just our bodies that atrophy, that break down and require costly repairs––or that just quit running. Our spirits, our eternal selves, always feel youthful. They're always ready to keep growing upward and onward, and so they do. That essential part of us can only collapse under the weight of selfish self-centeredness and that oppressively off-the-mark definition of death––and the negative effect it can have on the last third of our lives––when we permit those attitudes to define us as limited.
The truth is that we always have that unflappable, limitless hope that comes along with youth. Just scratch the surface and, like Love, it's always there. We've also got all that blind faith that we don't hardly notice enough even to take for granted when we're young. And, although it seems somehow harder to come by as we age,  there's also more evidence of that faith as we grow older. Hope, and faith are real working spiritual mechanisms that are always alive, and always will be in all of our lives.  And if you just add grace to those two, then you've got my three favorite names for girls.

This selection is excerpted from the chapter "A Baby Boom Goes Boom," from  How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide for Happiness In This World and Beyond based on the observations of a three-time near death experience survivor; available now from Conari Press.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm grateful to sit here…and I'll miss it till Spring…with gratitude for the holiday.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A "How to Survive Life (and Death)" Excerpt from the Chapter "The Last Time I Checked (Out), I Was in Arizona"

Perhaps the scariest, but most awe-inspiring (and comforting), realization I finally reached—long after all my bumps and bruises had subsided—has also been the hardest one for me to wrap my head around and to actually learn to live with. It's the part I mentioned earlier that has to do with really never getting any privacy (in a way that has probably crossed everyone's mind at one time or another).
Years later, when I came to the point where I could turn the corner on all the pain I'd suffered and caused in my life, I was hit by something I'd known all along—something very, very moving: Someone had been with me each time I nearly died. Someone had gently shepherded me away from my wrecked car; someone had shown me those scrupulously selected scenes of great significance from my life; and someone had gently, but forcefully, pushed me back into this life to tell you what I'm telling you now. I've realized now that it was one someone—my guide, my guardian, my angel—whom I have finally come to know personally (like a lost and loving aunt). I'm certain that we all have one, and that we are all receiving that same kind of personal attention. We are never alone.
Now, we all know why that's scary. I mean, really, somebody's watching me all the time? That's right. But it's no big deal because, fortunately, I'm not particularly important, and neither are you. Nobody is, yet everybody is.
And "all the time" is nothing really. I believe that our angels observe us from a perspective apart from time. I believe they can see every one of those life moments eternally, as they happen, like discreet panes of time suspended in space—in much the same way that those moments can suspend themselves in our memories. All of this is happening now. All of it has always been happening now, and always will. Being human makes this impossible to see. Yet, in our hearts, each of us knows the cause and effect of all these moments strung together, especially when we concede to this intimate exposure of the truth. We know the parts of our lives that need mending, the edges that need smoothing, the loose ends that need to be bound.
Who really wants a witness to all their stuff, regardless of how forgiving that witness may be? It's been said that "your sickness lies in your secrets"—your misdeeds, selfishness, hostile thoughts, and all that stuff we "safely" hide in our little compartments. Being human makes us want to believe that no one can see it written on our faces, or veiled in our desires, or behind our actions. But, of course, they do. That's who we are, on the outside. The question is, who are we really; and who are we going to be? Those self-revealing secrets shouldn't cause us fear, because we're actually keeping them so we can learn from them. Life doesn't happen to you. . . 
Our angels (and angelic people) immediately forgive our misdeeds because they, too, know them so well. In this way, our fears can be dissolved into the reality of that profound intimacy—that shared knowledge of our greater selves. The Sufis call it fana, the dissolving of the human self into Eternal Love. That's nice, isn't it?
I think it was a great Swami named Maharshi who said that we don't fear death because of the painful end of life. By that time, many of us are ready for it. What we're never ready for is that painful accounting for what we've been up to, that golden interview. It's an embarrassment we naturally wish to avoid, again. So death is a blissful relief, but it can be made even more blissful by the way we live.
All of this helps me describe the hidden, but always available, "technology of the heart" that I've been talking about. It's all part of that greater reality that we're actually occupying—the realm of the spirit that constantly enfolds, supports, and directs us—and to which we and all of Life belong. But you already knew that.
 Still, I hope they haven't been watching everything. . .

Not to scare you any more than the idea of being watched all the time, but in the context of my last moments in Arizona, it is clear to me that there are real consequences to being bad—both now and later. It just simply is not good. Being self-centered, cruel, violent, even just unconscious will deliver us to a "darker" place, in this life or the next, than where we might be able to live otherwise. How much darker is up to you, what you've done in Life, and how hard you're willing to look at yourself–and don't fool yourself, everything is accounted for.
It comes as no surprise, does it? There simply are better ways to live and better ways to die, and one has everything to do with the other. And as I've found out about ways to die, exiting on a bad note is not the best way to get there. 
The way this physicality is imbued with life energy—the means of our animation and of our sensual awareness—is all achieved by a pretty particular set of forces. And it won't do to go about releasing it all willy-nilly, or without some consideration and some proper well-deserved reason. It may require effort. 
Personally, along with the very clear lessons I've learned through my own experiences, I find a lot of resonance in the wisdom of the ancient masters when it comes to the possibilities for our future, our past, and our present. And how can you go wrong with the good old ancient masters, for crying out loud? So, as best I can (and preposterous as it may seem), I'm going to try to describe what the three "fatal" experiences I've had have taught me about what may actually be the best way to go about "dying"—which (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) I don't believe is really dying, but actually just changing forms from this matter into a form of energy that grows out beyond our current constraints into an entirely different dimension of being. 

I hope that, by now, you see that this is the central message of this whole book—what my experiences taught me and what I want to pass on to you: Simply that there's nothing to fear about dying. It's really a logical and beautiful culmination of Life, and quite a fluid process. And once you get past the rough patches you may have to cross to get there, you'll see, as well, that there is no Death. 

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How "Polishing the Mirror" Helps You Reflect the Miraculous

Although I'm an avowedly non-violent kind of guy, it's not beyond me to ruthlessly torture a metaphor along with the best (or worst) of 'em, and seeing as this is a session that requires lots of spiritual elbow grease–nearly everyday–you have my permission to cover your eyes. You won't need them to look into this mirror.

"Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think."
                    Buddha, The Dhammapada 1:1

In Zen Buddhism, where meditation is called sitting zazen, they use this marvelous house-cleaning metaphor of "polishing the mirror" when they talk about how to think about not-thinking. It's like this: If the way we think is just an incomplete reflection of a greater, more blissful consciousness (based solely on how well-connected we are to it), then the best way to perceive more of that blissful Source is to do some housecleaning, so to speak – starting with the "inner mirror" that serves as our doorway into the unimaginable potential of Life.

That mirror stands for the surface of something unfathomably deep, that we can only reach into through the center of our imaginations. In the reflection that we are, we see ourself only on its surface. We wish to feel ourselves more a part of it, to become more a part of it, and sometimes we can momentarily reach down into it, but we, ourselves, are what's reflecting that profound reality so poorly. All of the fogginess and flaws are a result of own conscious, and subconscious designs. The obscurities are of our own making.
 So, it stands to reason, that if we can improve the quality of the reflector, we'll improve the reflection.

To start that process, we need to sit in stillness and roll up our 'inner sleeves' to ready ourselves for housecleaning. Everything goes better when it's picked up a bit – straightened, inventoried, and organized. Most–if not all–of the mess on the surface of the mirror are simply our thoughts. Thoughts about who we are, about what we don't have, or what we think we should have – what we think we need to be happy, and to feel whole. We need to stand back a bit, and clean up our streaky, smudgy thoughts.

"The deluded, imagining trivial things to be vital to life, follow their vain fantasies and never attain [bliss]; but the wise, knowing what is trivial and what is vital, set their thoughts on the goal, and attain [bliss]."
                     Buddha, The Dhammapada, 1:11, 12

In a recent article ("Sitting in the Wilderness," at The Mindful I tried to simplify the three "temptations," met and overcome, by both Jesus and The Buddha as they sat and faced their 'devils' – temptations that can stand in quite nicely for the substance that clouds our internal mirrors – the content of most of those surface-obscuring thoughts. Simply, they are: 
1) The deep wish to control things to be just the way we want them to be.
2) The superficial, or material, or physical desires we desire to have gratified, and 
3) Our fears – usually having to do with numbers one and two.

 Our fears are the basic filmy schmutz (that's Yiddish) that "as through a glass darkly" obscure the perceptions of our brightest potential – and they should be the easiest to simply wipe away, seeing as how most of our fears aren't even real. The shadows they cast over the way things appear to us are largely the product of our own negative imaginations. Most of what we fear comes and goes with little or no real consequence, and even when it does impact on our life, it is still just life – doing what it will do. Usually, we learn our greatest lessons that way.

Polishing that inner mirror puts us directly, 'palm-to-palm' in touch with the surface of a magical ocean of underlying support and serenity. There's a quality of contact with the depth of all that potential that allows us to see through the fears to the calm sanity and intelligence that stands behind them, and beneath everything. You gain a purpose that lets you patiently wipe away the default negative thoughts that obscure your underlying potential – feelings that you don't measure up, or resentments against others (who are simply doing their best to reflect consciousness too). A crumpled-up newspaper, and ammonia works well.

And then, as long as you're making things up, make up something wonderful; visualize the miraculous for yourself and others. That ought to lighten up your life quite a bit, and allow you to reflect the sanity that lies at your true Source.

There, in the clarity of that improved reflection, we realize the funhouse mirror distortions our ego causes us to see – the illusion that we're much taller or broader, that our head is so much bigger than everyone elses (when really, we're all just about the same size). It's not the mirror that causes the distortions, it's our pride, our ego. Smooth that surface out flat with a calm, deliberate, repetitive circular motion, until the reflection invites you in – beyond your ego illusions. Feel the freedom of becoming that truth that lives beneath your projections.

"To identify consciousness with that which merely reflects consciousness, this is egoism."
                      Patanjali, The Yoga Sutras, II.3

There will always be little surface smudges, and underlying distortions, but the more you experience the sense of transcendent being – that expansion of consciousness into our deeper dimension of being that occurs when we lose "our self" in the act of polishing, the greater ease you'll experience in every other moment too, and the better you'll feel about how well you can reflect your true potential.

With the mirror cleaner, you need never obsess on the flaws again, because you'll see, clearly at last, that your reflection is something of unimaginably great beauty. You are a perfect expression of the greatest, deepest, and most beautiful mystery of all…a perfect expression of Life's Consciousness that all of this world can only merely reflect. 

Sit, and if you "polish the mirror" patiently, soon you'll be able to step right into it, and into a whole new world, where all you need is to simply be who, and what you really are – a beautiful reflection of the miraculous.  

The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!