Monday, July 23, 2018

Why Meditate? Because "Meditation Works When Your Mind Doesn't."

Sitting quietly clears our mind to reflect Consciousness better, and grounds and binds our mind to our heart...

      As a three-time near-death survivor, I can tell you that Heaven is not any place in particular—in fact, it is different things for different people; but all heavens have some very powerful attributes in common that demonstrate it to be an attainable state-of-being, available to everyone...possibly in the next life, and very possibly in this one.
      This little excerpt from the chapter Meditation Works When Your Mind Doesn't, in the Part III: Purpose section of How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), is a taste of the relief, clarity, and serenity that meditation can provide anyone (even the most unlikely meditators) in a successful search to find a little piece of Heaven.

      "When we start being able to sit longer in meditation, we can consciously engage that holistic experience and hold ourselves in a balanced state where we discover that most demanding thoughts aren't really so important. Life can be experienced in a more "realistic" way when we are in this way "less realistic," because we recognize that the actual moment we're living in is fine, as it is. Life isn't really full of sequential demands or threatening "realities" at all—those are mostly imaginary delusions thrown up by our prehistoric ego. Equipped with the conscious awareness that a meditation practice gives us, we can start freeing ourselves from unnecessarily demanding thoughts. Nothing really needs to happen right at this moment—unless a bear is heading your way or you're sitting on something wet.
      The escape from serial thinking delivers us into presence, and the power and comfort alive in the eternal moment. It's a presence for Life that only becomes possible when we can gain some control on the courses we run through our heads, and meditation allows us an easy awareness of those different parts of of inner life—the duality of material ego versus our extra-dimensional spirit. When we can identify ourselves with our loving, spiritual nature, we become more effective in our demanding daily lives, because the ease  in our thinking makes it easier to get things done.
      As we sit making space in our thoughts, we experience a sense of joyful transcendence, and a sense of unity that's impossible to experience when we're pent-up and weighed-down by material demands. There's the presence of that graceful intuitive intelligence, rising up through our more spacious thinking, informing our decision-making and problem-solving with fresh clarity and confidence." 

      I almost always end my encouragements to meditate with this wonderful quote from the Buddha, when he was asked: 
"What have you gained from all your meditation?"
"Nothing at all," he replied.
"Then what good is it?"
"Let me tell you what I lost through meditation: sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana."

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? And BTW, in Buddha-talk, nirvana is Heaven.

(quote; Easwaran, The Dhammapada, p.58)

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide can be pre-ordered online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

What a Jumping Fish Can Teach You

        What is the best way to live? With a BMW, a big house, and a job with an important title? Of course those things may be great to have at times, but they only contribute to the real quality of your life in a certain way. Your true happiness—the way you really feel—has more to do with your understanding of Life and how you fit in it. When we completely identify ourselves with the material aspects of our being-in-the-world, we may come to feel insecure or ungrounded, because those things come and go. They're undependable, momentary, 

        The other day while sitting on a rock by the river giving my mind a break, a fish suddenly surprised me by jumping clear out of the water right in front of me. Naturally, fish do that while pursuing bugs to eat, but there didn't seem to be any bugs around. This fish appeared to be jumping free of its watery medium for fun – or to make a kind of statement, like:
        "Here I am! I'm free of the water for this moment! I'm exposed to the air-world!" (of course, he may have been saying, "Hey buddy, you seen any bugs?" but for my purposes we'll stick with the first version).
        For a very brief moment (the image of which stays with me indefinitely) the fish was "a fish out of water," separated from the actual medium of his being – the water; but if you had blinked, you would have missed it.
        People say that about life too, don't they? You blink, and it's over.

        Water has always served as a great metaphor for the nature of Life as a medium – the depth of its mysteries; the ceaseless directional flow of it; the images and inevitabilities that it carries our way, that arise from it; the surprises that suddenly drop into it from out of nowhere. Those are the things that change, that come and go – but it's the medium it takes place in that I want you to think about. This is about the way you think about it. Let's think about it like we were fish (in a Buddhist way):

"As a fish taken from his watery home and thrown on dry ground, our thought trembles all over in order to escape the dominion of Mâra (the tempter)."
                          The Dhammapada, 3: 34

        Like that fish out of water, we're not entirely safe or secure exposed to this world of shifting material conditions, filled with destructive temptations. As an "Out-of-Body Near-Death Experiencer" myself, I can testify to you that we are clear, sweet spiritual (energy) beings, inhabiting the (sometimes unreliable) vehicles of this body we're in—and this tenuous world all around them. 
        No wonder we might feel insecure.

        Like that fish, humans are 90% water ourselves; and if we can remain aware of that medium that is our natural element (and our real ultimate home)—the true ocean of energy we swim in every moment—we can leap free of the demands and pressures of this difficult world, and "who we're supposed to be" in it. We can detach with compassion from all this messy stuff, and return to the true, secure medium of our being—which I like to simplify as Love.

        Have you ever heard of "The Gnostics?" They lived what we think of as Christian spiritual principles before Christianity was institutionalized, and they had a very interesting "fish-out-of-water" way of looking at life that I think fits the picture I'm drawing pretty perfectly. They saw themselves as brief visitors here, in a way:

        "The Gnostic ideal, simply put, is that you really are a displaced part of Heaven, but during this experience of human life, that knowledge eludes you. Momentarily, you’ve forgotten your true connection and the way to return, so you’ve actually come back into this life to rescue your authentic self, trapped in your limited perceptions of this world. Within a transformative moment of gnosis, you’ll remember who and what you really are, where you really come from, and how to take yourself back home.
        In Gnostic mythology, all of humanity is an expression of a divine light imprisoned on an imperfect plane of existence, enfolded in the beauty of earthly existence, yet victimized by the suffering that is such a big part of it all. Each of us contains a connecting spark of the Divine Light within called the pneuma (what the Hindus might call atman). Our fragment, imprisoned in this body, has fallen away from the radiant, infinite matrix of limitless potential, which is our Source called the pleroma. 
        Life's sadnesses inspire the longing to reunite our spark with the transcendent unifying power that we inherently know to be our loving origin—the effort to restore ourselves to our authentic nature. When gnosis takes place, we are restored as beings of light."
                    from How to Get to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) 

        So whenever you're feeling uncomfortable, when you're experiencing that "fish-out-of-water" feeling, take a blink and give yourself a moment of "gnosis." Return to that medium of our solid, profound grounding – this ocean of Divine Energy we all come from, and all return to – and experience being enfolded in that Love that is the true nature and source of life on this beautiful Earth.
        ...and remember what every fish knows by heart:

"Everything that changes, isn't real."
                    Nisargadatta Maharaj

        "Reduce your needs to the simplest level of intelligence and
practicality. Live lightly and respectfully on the surface of Mother Earth!"

                    from 20 Tips for Getting to Heaven; How to Get to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Llewellyn Books, 2018.

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor, from Llewellyn Worldwide, and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and BeyondBoth are available everywhere – but ask for them at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Busting Out of the Bubble of Delusion (How All the Best Answers Can Pass Us By)

“Deluded by ignorance, man mistakes one thing for another. Lack of discernment will cause a man to think that a snake is a piece of rope. When he grasps it in this belief he runs a great risk. The acceptance of the unreal as real constitutes the state of bondage. Pay heed to this my friend…”
from Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination

            It’s just the nature of the way our minds work that the world as we perceive it seems like a pretty important, pressing, and immediate thing. It’s really the tiny bubble of anxious circumstances that surround us – the bills we have to pay, the kids we have to pick up, the movies we ‘have’ to see, the politics we need to get our panties in a bunch about. In this ‘western’ society we live in, even when we expand our focus beyond that personal immediacy, we tend to look to mainstream media as the window to the rest of world – but in fact that is a tiny bubble of delusion, too. We end up getting our heads [literally] wired into a kind of sphere of presumed realities, when if we simply step back from it all and look at it objectively, we can see most of it isn’t really real at all.

What we all seem to have here is actually a perception problem – or let's call it a limited perception problem.

            There’s a lot of powerful forces that play with us in this way these days, what with all of the devices that we're constantly engaged with – hi-tech pocket belief-inseminators that enclose us in a kind of “protective and secure” bubble of reality, where our fears are managed by our ability to confirm what’s most comfortable to us. They don’t simply connect us to a very particular world, they monitor the complexities of our every reaction, and keep instant tabs on our fears and desires – in order to better form the realities they would have us presume. We walk around, staring at screens, surrounding our heads in a bubble of ideas that support a “safe” and entitled worldview—when just beyond the bubble’s confines, we clearly see that certain very very important things are going terribly wrong, and require some legitimate, immediate and principled attention too.

            Our mainstream media even goes so far as to constantly parrot that those profound values we’ve always taken for granted – values like honesty, sanity, responsibility, civility, and charity – are passé and archaic. We’re continuously told that we live in a “post-truth” world, when the actual truth we all know intuitively is this:  NO, WE DON’T.

We’re told that we have to look at things in one of two, or possibly three ways only, and by that volition we’re given the precious (democratic) gift of “choice,” when, in reality, if we’re only looking at the three choices presented in that one little bubble of delusion, we are actively surrendering a virtual ocean of far superior choices – the truly powerful potential we are actually swimming in all the time. That “acceptance of the unreal as real” is what “constitutes the state of bondage.”
It’s time for us to start paying attention to what we’re paying attention to!

“…illumining with the candle of our ego a bright circle of awareness, we also darken the remainder of the room…The process of making conscious thereby also makes unconscious…the ego concentrates into one pole the divine primordial half-light, thereby also darkening the divine.”

                                    James Hillman, from Senex and Puer

            The destruction of our planet's environmental balance, the willful vivocide of the planet’s biodiversity, the aggressive misappropriation of the Earth’s resources by a fearful minority, the rejection of the very values that keep humanity a going concern, and the suppression of Life’s collective intelligence, reason, and spiritual sanity are the ruinous symptoms of living in that little ego-bubble of delusion – of only casting light on to a tiny bubble of manufactured interests at the expense of keeping our real well-being, and our responsible stewardship of the planet and all the life on it, ignored in a realm of increasing darkness. We’re painting ourselves into a corner and trying to be happy cowering there because we’re essentially being brainwashed to think it’s the “best” choice we have.

Break out of that bubble now!

Turn away from that artificial technological reality, and place your faith in the miraculous underlying spiritual technology that supports and sustains all of being. Fear is what separates us, fear is what divides us – Love is our unifying reality. The presence of Love as a defining inspiration for change and growth is what must free us. The true reality of this amazing life is alive in that surrounding universe of infinite creativity—everything that isn’t within that tiny bubble of fear—the ocean of innovation, interdependence, and the energy of Love alive in all things, and available in absolutely every other direction we have to choose from—where all the spiritual solutions we need plainly are awaiting us.

“As you become more truly alive, you see an infinitude of universes, a beginningless, boundless sea of life, energy, and delight, full of goodness, aware of itself in its absolute ultimate peace and security, freedom and happiness.”

                                    Robert Thurman, Infinite Life

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor, from Llewellyn Worldwide, and the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and BeyondBoth are available everywhere – but ask for them at your local bookstore!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Drop in a Day: How Ego Puts Us on The Little Spot

"We are created by our thoughts. We become what we think. Pain and suffering follow negative thoughts like the wheel follows the ox that pulls it." 
The Dhammapada, 1: 1

      It's crazy what a fussy thing it is to be a human being sometimes. Fussy, itsy-bitsy preoccupations can end up occupying an entire day, or week (or life). Small slip-ups can cascade into torrential hang-ups and unexpectedly put a lock on practically everything, even when it might all be based on nothing, really. Just look at the way we look at things, and wonder why we tend to see them in such an upside-down way…

      We're up, awake, and "fully-functioning" for what – about sixteen to eighteen hours a day? The other six or eight we're safely in dreamland. During the course of that sixteen hours of activity, everything usually goes fairly well. Usually. For the most part everything runs pretty smoothly, except for the occasional day when nothing at all seems to go right. (My wife often blames that on "Mercury going retrograde," which doesn't do anything for me, except to get me mad at Mercury–a very hot planet that I barely even know…) 
      Even then, the problems of a problem-filled day at most add up to just an hour or two of difficulties, if you're really keeping track of it. One-sixteenth of your waking day. Most of the time, the trouble spots we experience are actually very brief – singular sticky moments that pass quickly, but that for some reason we may hold on to and inflate well out of proportion. 

      It could be one cross look. One misplaced word, or phrase, or gesture. One tiny misunderstanding, or slip, or traffic cross-up, or failure to hear something right, and suddenly it's as if the world got knocked off it's axis. That minor flaw—possibly only two minutes in the whole of our otherwise smooth sixteen-hours—can  take us hostage, eat up all of our mental bandwidth, and demand ownership of the entire day. Just two minutes – out of the one-thousand-four hundred and forty-four in a day.

"The cleaner the tablecloth, the more obvious the spot." 

      …says my mentor Ray, pointing out that unnecessary obsession with the one itsy-bitsy thing that goes wrong, the one little thing that can throw our entire well-being out of whack. So what's really up with that?

      Part of the hardwiring we labor with as humans being human is our vestigial, eternally fearful Ego – the picky, judgmental part of our thinking that still likes to imagine some prehistoric predator is hiding behind every bush. Nothing is ever right for this fuss-bucket from our left brain, constantly pointing out the smallest flaws in an otherwise beautiful finish. Unless we recognize that aggravating inner voice as not being who we want to be, and consciously calling it out, it will happily take ownership of our day in two silly, uncomfortable minutes. 
      That's the simple mindfulness  required – to become aware of that fearful self-criticism (by default), and reject it! After all, who needs a scold when things are actually going quite well?
      The other thing we can do to defuse that out-of-proportion foible is to fix it immediately. Blot out the spot right away! Instantly apologize for the dumb thing you said. Spontaneously extend forgiveness to someone who seems to have slighted you. Brush off the inconsequential objection your fussy Ego wants to stick on your forehead, and... 

      Instead of letting one wrong minute own your day, take ownership of the fifteen hours and fifty-nine minutes you got right! Be empowered by the fact that you're doing very well, thank you, and you won't need any more help from the self-criticism department. The fact is—you're really on a roll when it comes to living well, and as long as you remember that kindness, honesty, humility, forgiveness, compassion, and service are everybody's friends, you can ignore that little spot on the tablecloth – who cares? It just means you had a nice lunch.

      In the bright light of Love, one little spot is nothing...really.

"We are created by our thoughts. We become what we think. Happiness attaches itself like an inseparable shadow to the positive thoughts that precede it." 
The Dhammapada, 1: 2

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide can be pre-ordered online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Talk for Virginia Beach IANDS at Cayce A.R.E., 4/14/2018

Thanks to Neil Helm and the Va Beach Chapter for this lecture/book event, and excellent workshop – a beautiful group in a lovely location.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

I'll be appearing at the IANDS 2018 "Explore the Extraordinary" Conference, Seattle 8/30–9/2

Join me for my lecture on How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying) - Registration opens soon!

...yours truly, and many more. My lecture will be Thurs. August 30th,    
3 to 4:00PM. 
I Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It's "How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying)" Book Launch Time!

March 2018

NDE survivors, mystics, swamis, and saints have all described a Heaven of infinite Love, luminous radiance, and complete compassionate connectedness—but I'm here to tell you that you don't have to go to quite so much trouble to locate that Heaven on Earth in your everyday experience of life. It's all around us, and within us, all the time!

Here you'll find reviews from Thomas Moore, Anita Moorjani, Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, and many others, for a voyage into the Perspective, Presence, and Purpose that can help us realize a kind of paradise, in any world we may happen to live... 

Monday, February 12, 2018

How Media and Science Sell Us a Dangerous Delusion

I wanted to re-post this (slightly updated) article, because I think it speaks well, and with some immediacy, about what we see going on more and more these days. I hope you enjoy it. It starts with this:  

"Yeshua said: If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Logion 70, The Gospel of Thomas

Denial is ignorance, accepted as truth through the force of will. Our personal will, and our collective will.

Popular Media and Science justify and enforce this will, directing us away from the self examination that makes us face our collective truths realistically, and psychically cornering us in the "The Way Things Are." They preoccupy us with good enough reasons for why things are like they are—and why they have to be like they are. Much of Media and Science is created and used to diffuse truth and replace it with a designed objective, to sell an idea or product—turning the truth into an obstacle that needs to be suppressed, where it becomes, as stated in our Gospel of Thomas quote again: "That which will destroy you." We end up walking confusedly through a false world, looking for what's real. This is the Maya of Media and Science.

It may sound funny to call this Occultism, and to suggest that media operatives and scientists are occultists, but unfortunately it does work for a couple definitions of the word — in the sense of using supernatural or paranormal means and methods: Media people know they are manipulating dark fears; and in the sense of it being only for the initiated: Scientists and media people consort amongst one another to keep their stories straight. They both harbor scary secrets about what motivates them, shared only by a select few.

Popular Culture often harnesses the psychic energy of "that which would destroy you" as it's chief attraction. The Collective Ego is always on the lookout for something to prove that humans are not particularly Divine and that we don't measure up, and so there must be something that can fix it—something that can calm or repair our shortcomings. So Media constantly stimulates those hot buttons of judgement and comparison—Fear, and the pathology of self-enhancement, to get you to quite literally buy into it:

My clothes are right. My lifestyle is right. I have the right friends, and the proper idols. My country is right. My religion is right. If you don't keep in line with these artificial demands, you won't measure up, or deserve material reward and the acknowledgment of others—which in reality can do nothing to assure happiness or fulfillment. You're made to fear that you might not even deserve Love unless you've achieved some cultural standardand we all know the truth—that Love is the only thing that really assures happiness and fulfillment, and it's available to everyone for free.

These common fears are manipulated, heightened and kept malleable by the ever-increasing exposure to explicit violence, explicit selfishness, and explicit narcissism, without which, there would be practically nothing on television—or increasingly at the movies, or on the radio either. And lately, these fears are increasingly exploited to define our political choices. In mainstream media's earlier years, human foibles were often pointed out as a lesson, or morality play. News programming reported events fairly objectively. But nowadays a corporate business model prevails that requires media to ruthlessly exploit human faults and fears, in every format where selling products, ideas, or candidates is possible.
Television and film must be be watched very selectively to avoid these base, destructive energies; and while the internet also allows for content choice, you musn't forget the greatest selectivity of all: You have the choice not to take part in it at all, if you don't feel it's serving your best interests. And if you must take part, don't invest yourself in it spiritually. You can't find happiness with an unhealthy spirit.

Remember what Marshall McLuhan said: "The medium is the message." If you are constantly carrying, sitting in front of, looking at, a device that keeps you constantly attached to a false world, it will be impossible to live the easy, authentic, love-filled life that everyone deserves. If the forms of input you receive are superficial and fragmented and designed by people who don't have your best interests at heart, your life will always feel the same. Attachment to current media results in the collapse of your consciousness into a dark and selfish place.

In a generally (though not always) less intentional way, Science does the same thing by manipulating the agnosticism of the seeker. It's kind of like a religion whose dogma is always changing—a religion of logic, of data, of "empirical" observation, based solely on what our current senses and devices permit us to perceive and calculate. In the past, these means were limited, but even in those 'dark ages' Science was still very sure of itself and it's authoritative description of the world. As means of observation improve, the world and being itself changes—according to Science—but still needs to be subjected to a healthier, more spiritual interpretation.

Now, as evolving Consciousness allows perception beyond our five senses (and is verified scientifically), and technology enables us to observe more and more of our (formerly invisible) nature of being, Science begins to resemble a dogma chasing a tale that Mysticism has been telling for a long, long time. And here's how that tale ends, and what it tells us about the real nature of our reality:
 Everything is connected and interdependent; and, if we aren't willing to investigate the truth behind our being, and the motivations that suppress that truth, then "That will destroy us."

But there is a form of Maya that can free us from the delusional limitations of the other (scary) three: We can switch to a Maya of inner experience and collective ecological sanity...The Maya of Nature. Turn off your mind, open your heart and your senses to the beauty and balance alive in the natural world, and the truth will rise up out of the ruins of our false structures of ego—media and science.

The Universe is an awesome and beautiful mystery, activated by our shared Consciousness. If we bring forth that Universe that is within us—that we all share—then what we bring forth will save us.

Read about this and much more in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide can be pre-ordered online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!