The Wisdom of the Body

Our consciousness is rooted in the body because the brain is part of the body. The central nervous system is part of the body. The reality we experience through our sense organs originates in the body. The way our minds imagine and process thoughts is a direct result of the structure of neurons in the brain. Beyond just the brain, the entire adrenal system has an overarching effect on our emotions and state of consciousness. Pain in any part of the body affects our perceptions and our reactions. There is no separating the mind from the body in a practical sense. When the body is ill, the mind is ill. When the mind is ill the body is ill.

Amazingly, this organism which is our body has a reservoir of knowledge. It knows how to breath, process food, separate waste products into our urine, regulate blood pressure, sexually reproduce and birth infants. It is like a symphony with many different instruments playing in unity to a single song.

From the time of our birth, our bodies were in harmony with a vast transpersonal self because in our youngest years, the transpersonal self and our consciousness flowed and intermingled without division nor hesitation. At some point, the solidifying of our ego identity and traumatic events in our environment combined such that our consciousness withdrew into an instinctive posture of self-defense. From that point on, each of us is left with scars in our body and our consciousness.

When this trauma is inflicted on a child or even an adult, a portion of the body and consciousness tightens creating a container for the trauma. The trauma then lives inside of the person as a type of anticipatory residue that primes the organism to defend itself against similar trauma in the future. This is a natural reaction that keeps an organism alive, but it has sad consequences for the future freedom of an individual human.

As these traumas start to accumulate in the body and subsequently in the consciousness of a person, the ability to be in free contact with the transpersonal self beyond consciousness is limited. Each trauma shapes the body’s reactions into a defensive posture reminiscent of non-human mammals or even reptiles. The impact of a single trauma may seem extremely small, so much so that a memory of the traumatic event is never fully remembered. Yet, the body remembers and the mind also remembers in a way that may bypass visual memories. These traumas build up through childhood and often reach a breaking point in adolescence.

In adolescence, the pull of social conformity and collective identity is so strong that it often crystallizes many life traumas into a single glob. This crystallization happens by a decision (conscious or otherwise) made to embrace an imaginary construct of the mind as the primary self. This pushes away the nothingness of the unknowable transpersonal self that children are naturally connected with. In the most grim sense, this is what is meant by the phrase growing up. Once this false self is embraced, the body further suffers. From then on the body is imposed upon as a servant to comply with the whims of images that flow into a person’s consciousness. This is typically when the self-abuse of the body starts.

As time goes on we continually traumatize our bodies. Many times those traumas are entirely preventable. For example, we may hurt our back by lifting something too heavy with a bad posture. This by itself may seem like an accident, but if examined there may be a source of delusion responsible for the physical injury. In the case of hurting our back, we may have succumbed to a false image of ourselves as strong, in control and not needing the help of others. When we were wrapped up in our false notion of self, we stumbled along like in a dream and lifted something out of harmony from the signals that our body was giving us. Certainly there was an opportunity to stop at some point while lifting the object, but we were so identified with who we thought we were, that we failed to be who we are. We failed to just be our body in its simple presence. Examples like this compound through our life. As we age, the injuries accumulate and we start to have chronic health issues. Sadly, we victimize our bodies because we hold on to this false dualism that the mind is primary – it is like the driver of a car and our body is just a machine. When in fact quite the opposite is true.

If we can acknowledge our body as self and not a vehicle or servant. Then the possibility for it to be a source of wisdom emerges. The transpersonal self or the unconditioned reality beyond consciousness is always there. We are so deeply intermingled and integrated with that reality that there is no separating it from our bodies or mind. However, functionally our bodies and hence our minds can undergo so much trauma that we become unable to function at a higher level than a non-human mammal. In that state we are entirely subject to predictably reacting to whatever stimulus comes into our sense organs. Our bodies are conditioned to the point where they tense up when we hear a certain type of voice. With enough unhealed trauma accumulated, we can’t functionally integrate with a reality that is closer to us than our own jugular vein. It is like we are like a person on a boat in the middle of a vast lake of pure water who cries out in thirst.

This is why every real practice of awakening has bodily practice as a central principal. It isn’t enough just to think profound thoughts, have visions or to have deep emotional states. You have to be. You have to embody your existence at a level of depth that many people only experience when directly facing death. Mental images and emotional states are like dreams that possess us and block us from this embodiment. This is why using the mental facilities to change consciousness rarely leaves a lasting impact. Put another way, the biological computer that is the brain can’t become free of itself by thinking that it is free. Only when the unconditioned is let to manifest and the entirety of the body becomes involved, does true seeing does and freedom become possible.

When we do meditative practices, those practices help steady our breath, posture and mind. As the body steadies and relaxes, the breathing deepens and one’s posture improves. If we persist, then we start to listen, see, smell, taste and feel like it was for the first time. In a flash, we really hear the birds or smell the incense. In those moments, the image of what we should be doing drops away and we start to see just what is. This is how we start to let the unconditioned manifest through us.

The body knows what to do, when the controlling and judging mind steps out of the way. The breath, muscles, posture, heart rate and digestion all work together in a virtuous cycle when we give up control. We get more freedom than we had in the previous moment because once the body starts to unwind so does the intellectual mind and the facility within us that is always trying to create an identity. This process can continue until we reach a point where we have much more freedom than we do normally.

At that point, we can embrace the unconditioned and let it work through us. When we do that true healing is possible because in those moments, traumas of the past can be entered into deeply. We can disentangle the deep hurt in our body, soul and spirit. As we work out the pain, the body, mind and emotions become unconditioned.

The body can guide our mind if we learn how to listen to its voice. Put more accurately, the body mind dualism can be seen as a delusion and we can regain proper integration with our body. When the body and the mind aren’t separate we can truly be inhabiting our body. The transpersonal self or the unconditioned become embodied. Along with the physical body, the intellectual mind, the sense of self (ego), the imagination and the feelings all find their harmonious place in the physical world integrated with the unconditioned. As this harmony starts to unfold the process of healing also starts.

The call to heal comes from the voice of transcendental wisdom. It comes from the unconditioned. At first, we are so caught up in our notions of who we think we are that we fail to see how our body and heart is calling out. As we settle, the voice becomes more clear. The image of a moment in the past when an awful event left a scar upon us appears. In a flash, we see the full power of the event and how it shaped our life from that point onward. That becomes our call to heal.

The types of traumas that can call out vary widely. A moment of social ridicule in elementary school can make us believe that we are stupid and we are cast into ego compensation for that. In that case, the link with the body can be tied to how our body forms habitual postures when we take tests or sit in the classroom. For example, we may have a slouch that we fall into when we start to become possessed by the notion of stupidity. We may be totally incapable of addressing the false belief directly, but we may notice the slouch and ask our bodies to release. If we investigate further, we may ask the body “why are we slouching?” and the original cause may be revealed in a flash. With that vision, we can start the healing process.

In the cases of extreme trauma like rape, torture and abuse, the side-effects are so numerous that they can be hard to tease out because the trauma was so deep that it disrupted the growth of a healthy sense of self. Work on any part of the body will lead to that central trauma. If you have been unfortunate to suffer trauma like this, it is beneficial to get help from body work specialists who understand this territory. Going about this alone is an inadvisable path.

Regardless of how little a trauma or how big, each trauma is a collective scar on the soul of humanity. Each trauma healed is one step that humanity comes closer to peace and the effects of the healing radiate out in time and space affecting countless generations to come. This is why it is so essential that trauma is addressed and not ignored.

Our bodies are the culmination of hundreds of thousands of years (or more) of DNA. Each one of us is directly influenced by our most recent ancestors. The trauma sustained by them is passed on to us. Recently, there has been research proving the basis of hereditary trauma by way of gene expression and epigenetics. This research reaffirms the reality of hereditary trauma. For example, when our parents have undergone serious bodily stress or abuse, the effects can be passed onto their children’s bodies. These traumas also call out from within us to be healed and by healing them we heal a small part of the collective soul of humanity.

Sadly, we may never fully recover from an injury. When we heal from deep cuts in our tissue, we scar. Things are never the same again. However, the body has recovered as much as it is going to. Likewise injuries to our heart also can scar. We may never be able to go back to being how we were before a deep trauma, but we can get to a place of good enough. Healing is a multidimensional process that differs as much as the individuals and injuries involved. It is also a process that is measured years and it is best to have realistic expectations. It can move forward in sudden leaps at times or change gradually, regardless it takes a long time to integrate.

When we really start to look deeply at the injuries in our body and heart, it may seem that the trauma in us is endless, but it isn’t. It may be plentiful, but it isn’t endless. There is a finite amount of traumatic events that happen to an individual and each one of us has the capacity to get to a point where we become good enough. When we become good enough, we are ready to start to help others heal.

The process of awakening is a process of healing. Each and every trauma that we bring into the light and heal brings us more freedom because it frees us from conditioned instinctual responses. Those responses are etched into our muscle memory and the most primitive parts of our brain. When we heal them, we are literally modifying our bodies. Healing in the context of awakening is holistic. We awaken in a moment to a reality beyond time, space and consciousness all the while being present in our body. The opening to this unconditioned reality allows us to enter into the moment in the past in which our trauma occurred and facilitate a change. This is reality and not a metaphor. In awakening, it is possible for the unconditioned in us to enter into a time and place in the past and to bring a healing light into the present moment. As an individual, we sit in the crossroads between the unconditioned and the conditioned of our body. When the transcendental self or spiritual nature facilitates the healing of deep wounds in the past, it is also repairing the present state of the body and allowing for a new future to be possible in the conditioned physical world. This only happens when we are fully present in the transcendent reality of both worlds – the unconditioned world of nothingness of the absolute, and the conditioned material world of the relative.

When the skin is cut and heals, it never returns to the same state that it was before it was cut. It reforms, grows anew and perhaps scars. The new skin isn’t the same as the old skin. Just like this when we heal our emotional, mental and physical traumas by integrating wisdom from our spiritual nature (the unconditioned), we reform, rebuild and regrow our body integrated with the substance of the unconditioned. 

As we heal, each cell of the body becomes permeated by the spiritual nature and it becomes spiritualized. The unconditioned flows into us and through our bodies, leaving traces with each contact made. As it quickens our body cell by cell the traces start to add up eventually creating a new body. Looked at another way, it is like the cells in the body are regenerated with a different quality and over time those cells start to add up until most of our body has the same spiritual quality.

The more of this new body is formed, the better the individual can regulate their own spiritual discipline because their very body (which includes all of consciousness) becomes spiritualized and autonomous with wisdom. Even if the mind wanders, the breath, belly or even the ears may reestablish contact with the unconditioned without the assistance of the dualistic mind. This leads to a virtuous cycle where the body and hence consciousness can increasingly heal by making contact with the spiritual nature.

As the blockages caused by trauma heal, consciousness as rooted in the body becomes a channel for the unconditioned. As each cell in the body becomes spiritualized, the wider the aperture available for the spiritual nature to flow into the material world unimpeded. Essentially, this is how a human being becomes a spiritual being who is liberated and can freely help others.

Suffering

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We find ourselves naturally drawn to spiritual practices when we suffer because of our innate need for meaning. We may want to know why people kill or abuse each other. We may want to know why we suffer so much when those we love die. We may want to come to terms with our own victimhood. We may have inescapable pain. Being driven by suffering towards a spiritual path is not unusual and is surprisingly healthy.

Yet, if we are suffering and pursuing a spiritual path as an escape from our pain, it can be a dangerous route. There will be no end to the suffering of the body and mind on the path. There may be peace, but it is a different peace than the peace we are prone to imagine. As we grow, we may come to terms with suffering and find meaning in it. We may learn how to help others with their suffering. We may even learn how to avoid certain types of suffering, but we will never not suffer. Yet, we can be free from having it shape our lives.

As we stare at the suffering in our lives, we can ask ourselves about the nature of the particular form of suffering we face. Not all suffering is of the same material and yet all of it is unpleasant. The causes and the meaning of it in our lives can differ greatly, so it can be helpful to reflect upon the nature of our suffering and how it affects our spiritual practice.

Examining Suffering in Our Lives as a Practice

Whether our suffering stems from grief, homelessness, starvation, abuse, addiction, pain or illness, we should first pursue a way out of our situation as part of our spiritual practice. Some forms of suffering can be avoided, healed or transcended and other forms can only be accepted. Our practice must include cultivating the wisdom to know which is which.

As a first step, we have to get our out of control suffering in a manageable condition. If you aren’t in a condition of abject suffering, be thankful. Read the following as a guide for future reference when a hurricane of suffering engulfs your life.

If you are suffering intensely, first seek to understand and not to escape. Many people have touted meditation as a form of escape from pain and a means to go to a peaceful place. Although there is truth to the statement at face value, it is largely misinterpreted and its healthy execution requires considerable spiritual maturation, so rather than seeking to escape our suffering by using spiritual practices we must face it head on and accept it. By doing so, we cultivate compassion towards ourselves and eventually others. This is by itself a highly transformative spiritual practice.

In order to look at our suffering plainly, we can do a simple exercise. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down your single biggest cause of suffering in a single sentence. Try not to use too many connecting phrases like “and”, “because”, etc. Make the statement simple. Here are a few examples:

The nerve pain is stealing my life and I can’t do anything.

I lost the last chance to be loved and I’m worthless.

My son is dead and I can’t change that.

I can’t take back the pain that I caused – I fucked up their lives and I can’t take it back.

I’m so fucking depressed that I wish someone would just shoot me.

My life has no meaning and no future.

Stare at it for some time. It is okay to cry.

Now, underneath it write one of three phrases: it can be changed, it can’t be changed, or I don’t know if it can change. For things like addiction – change is hard but possible. For things like chronic pain, there is little an individual can do to change it. For mental illness, the answer may be “I don’t know if it can change.” Be as honest with yourself as possible. Be as sincere as the last moment of your life and answer this question.

If you wrote it can change, then changing this single thing can be a good initial goal of your spiritual practice. For if you can overcome this, you will be able to help others when they face similar suffering. This will lead to a virtuous cycle that will help to open our heart to further awakening. Your situation will be specific to you and there is little advice one could give in general for solving your specific situation. Seek for the answer. Pray for the strength to persevere. Keep trying anything and everything you can until you see what must be done.

If you wrote it can’t change, then you have no choice but to accept the suffering as an immovable pillar in front of you that cannot be avoided. Your path is to accept and let go of resentment, feelings of unfairness and anger. All beings suffer but the degree in which they suffer varies. The only meaning to it is the meaning we bring to it. Look at this suffering deeply. Stare into the dark bottomless well until you see the fear, anger, pain and envy connected to the suffering. Keep staring until you see the fear, anger, pain and envy are shared between all who suffer like you.

Avoid attachment to your suffering for it doesn’t define you, yet use it as a tool for seeing beyond your limited sense of self. Understand that what you suffer from may impede your spiritual practices and accept it gracefully. With steady effort and with an open heart, you will find new ways to practice that work for you. The truth is ever present and revealing itself. Even if you don’t have eyes to keep open when meditating, the truth can still be seen.

If you wrote: I don’t know if it can change, first approach your suffering as if it can’t be changed. If change starts to be possible, then steadfastly guard yourself against attachment to your suffering and do what you can do. 

In order to build a strong practice, we have to get to a place of stability. This means healing or mending ourselves so that we are no longer in the state of crisis. The long shadow of suffering can be helpful to our practice, but the flailing of crisis isn’t. This is why we must do whatever is necessary to come out of such a state. It is okay to pray for help. It is okay to accept help from others by putting aside our pride. It is okay to let go. Do what it takes. You will find the strength.

Natural Suffering

Natural suffering is the suffering that happens to all beings due to being alive. It is the suffering of illness, injury, grief, disappointment and sadness. There is no avoiding natural suffering because we will likely succumb to it before dying.

This suffering is natural because we are living organisms who eat. In the very act of eating we inflict suffering upon countless beings in order for our life to continue. Be us a vegetarian, fruitopian or vegan, ultimately we must consume some form of life in order to live. This is the reality of life and there is no escaping it. It is only fair that as our body degrades we suffer like those we eat.

Yet, this form of suffering is the most unfair because it is the suffering of a broken leg and of the sixteen year old with terminal cancer. It happens to good people and bad people with seemingly random frequency. There is little reason for it and we are powerless to change it for there is no escaping the pain of spinal injuries nor is there escaping the grief of the death of a child. We must face such suffering in order to continue living.

Amidst this suffering, we may seek for the meaning of the horrors we are facing. When such meaning is found, it can drive us towards acceptance and service because the meaning is coming from within us and isn’t just a thought. The values of acceptance and service when actualized, allow for the quality of suffering to be transformed. Suffering transformed such becomes a tool for our growth. The sting of the suffering doesn’t cease, but now it has context which allows us to meet it in a new way.

The hole in which pain carves in us can create an opening which allows us to be a beacon of light to others. It can drive us forward to change the world by manifesting compassion in a way that only someone who has been through such suffering could. This is the miracle of the lives of the ordinary who awaken because each person comes to an awakening with a history of a very specific chain of suffering. The particular forms of suffering that they have experienced allow for them to be of service in ways that reflect that history. For example, someone with a history of spinal pain can have a unique capacity for helping others who suffered the same. In this way, we shouldn’t be too down on ourselves about our past traumas for they can be transformed into a ray of light that can shine through our lives.

Avoidable Suffering

Suffering that comes from our own acts of egotism is avoidable.

Before explaining avoidable suffering, it is important that we look at the word egotism because it has more depth than its common usage. Egotism as the term is commonly used refers to when we think too much of ourselves. The first dictionary that I picked up defined it as:

e·go·tism

/ˈēɡəˌtizəm/

noun

noun: egotism

the practice of talking and thinking about oneself excessively because of an undue sense of self-importance.: “in his arrogance and egotism, he underestimated Jill”.

synonyms: self-centredness, egocentricity, egomania, self-interest, selfishness, self-seeking, self-serving, self-regard, self-absorption, self-obsession, self-love, narcissism, self-admiration, self-adulation, vanity, conceit, conceitedness, self-conceit, pride, self-esteem, self-importance, boastfulness, boasting, bragging, blowing one’s own trumpet, amour propre, looking after number one, braggadocio

For the purposes of this post, we will be adding nuance to the usage of the word by widening the definition to include when we think too little of ourselves. This widening of the definition is natural because “ego” in Latin simply means I and “-ism” means the state or condition of. Looking at a term as a way to describe the state of excessive self, it makes sense that exaggerating the value of ourselves in all directions would be included in its meaning.

This definition is important because both views are inaccurate and pathological. I’m the best and I’m the worst are both statements which are rarely true. So often both views are driving each other forwarding in a vicious cycle. Due to feelings of our own inferiority, we may bully someone we view as inferior to us. Later, we may reflect on our actions and how it doesn’t match our own image of self and begin to feel worthless. This feeling in turn can set off more inflated feelings of importance driving the cycle to repeat.

Understanding avoidable suffering requires understanding the negativity that such false views can wreck upon our lives. If we believe that we are worthless, we will make decisions that cause lasting damage. We may seek ways to bolster our sense of self worth temporarily with drug abuse, violence, self-harm or poor sexual decisions. After the high of our actions subsides, we will find that our sense of self worth is lower than before. The suffering we experience as a result of these choices is avoidable. If we were able to not give into egoism we wouldn’t be suffering as we are.

If we were able to let go of being the best, we would have never raced our car and found ourselves paralyzed. If we were able to let go of being worthless, then we would have applied for colleges rather than giving up and working at our mother’s company. If we were able to let go of being the toughest, then we would have never gotten into the fight which led to our criminal record. If we were able to let go of being strict upon ourselves, we would have had fun singing and dancing.

If we believe we are better or worse than everyone else, we make a fundamental error in judgement. Our sense of superiority or inferiority damages our ability to form genuine connections with others. It makes us unable to be a real parent to our children for we will be only interested in ourselves. It makes us unable to be a friend to someone in need because we are too fixated at looking at our own face. It makes us unable to love because we find ourselves seeking love rather than giving it.

As we carry our overconfidence into decisions, we will drive too fast, exercise too much or work hard. In the process, we will damage our body, our wallet and our relationships. All of which would have been avoidable if we had made different decisions. Thus, overcoming the layers of egoism that permeate our life from the crudest to the finest is an important part of any spiritual practice because it saves our energy from being spent on unneeded pain.

This is why developing the ability to recognize egoism in the moment in which it is happening is an essential early stage in our spiritual development. Each moment where we see it clearly acting within us or within others, opens a portal to new possibilities. Only after seeing the egoism that grips us is change possible. Effecting that change is not easy and it may take years of maturity to be able to actualize it. However, the act of seeing in and of itself is transformative for it forces a choice upon us.

When you see clearly how your own egoism harms your life and others, you are forced into making a choice (even no choice is a choice in these circumstances). You can choose to assent to your selfishness or you can choose to do something different. The choice for doing something different is remarkable because all that is required is not giving into selfishness. In the moment where you are in front of the television with your six pack of beer and about to get violently drunk, nearly any choice other than getting drunk is positive. You could start clucking like a chicken walking out the door and it would be a radical statement of growth.

As we start to change things in our lives by reducing our egoism, we also start to change things in others’ lives. Even if we don’t realize it, who we are starts to change and our effect on others becomes more positive. This change is a baby step that leads us towards service and it further allows us to become more receptive to spiritual awakening experiences because it reduces our fixation on self.

Only at a later stage after sufficient awakening, does the ability to do something about the source of egoism in us become possible. Yet, we don’t need to strive for that because the simple transformation of improving our decisions is sufficient to transform ourselves and the world. Further growth is something for those who will be teaching and serving others in a spiritual capacity. In the meantime, we can guard ourselves against egoism by clinging to our values and conscience remembering that our life is created by the decisions that we make.

Voluntary suffering

When we embark upon a new task in the hope of achieving something, we voluntary suffer in order to obtain something. An athlete who attempts to set a new record running wakes up early every morning and runs. A student who wants a degree in chemistry works hard doing homework. A person with a gluten intolerance stops eating bread in order to improve their health. A parent puts in long hours at work in order to pay for their mortgage.

Voluntary suffering is healthy and normal. Suffering in this way allows us to make money, grow our abilities or to heal our bodies. It is a direct suffering done in order to obtain a result. As we progress on our spiritual path, many find that the amount of voluntary suffering increases because there are many areas of our lives that need strengthening.

We may be prone to colds, so we need to exercise to keep our immune system strong. Perhaps we want to help others by writing about our spiritual experiences, we will need to practice the craft of writing in order to make our message clear. As we are called to increasing amounts of service, the need for simple strength in our bodies, minds and hearts becomes greater. In order to strengthen our abilities, we must suffer as we learn, build muscle or heal. Yet, this suffering isn’t mandatory and we typically have a great deal of choice available to us in how we choose to suffer and to what end. This is why it is referred to as voluntary.

Of all of the types of voluntary suffering, the suffering we endure when being of service is the most transformative. Whenever we take upon a task or bear a burden for others with no benefit to ourselves, we are intentionally choosing something greater than our self. The action may be small like helping someone clean their house. The action may be as large as giving one’s life to a cause. Regardless of the action, suffering that stems from selflessness due to positive activity in the world is a fire that burns through our egoism. In the process, it transforms the world. I’m reminded of the old proverb:

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Yet, the cynical will quickly point out that every action a person takes benefits them in some way. Perhaps that may be true, but there is no requirement that such a benefit is known by the person acting. Even if the benefit is known, there is no reason why the person needs to be attached to such a benefit. Suffering can be a deep expression of freedom because when we suffer in this way our intentionality is directed outside of ourselves. If we are attached to the benefits that we would get of such actions, then the suffering undergone is due to our own egoism like those who chase martyrdom.

Pause a moment and reflect on what this means. If you can accept that a person could do things for others without any hope of reward both inwardly or outwardly, what effect would such an action have on our spiritual life?

By suffering for others, we have to directly face our negative values and affirm our positive values over and over. At times this struggle is internal and at times it is external. The repeated choice of positive values when presented with real life situations where you are helping is fire that burns out one’s self-pity and selfishness. At the same time, it gives you a meaning greater than yourself.

We become connected to a sense of self greater than just our own life. Our sense of self becomes smaller and our ability to perceive the truth expands. This in turn allows us to be more receptive to awakening experiences because it changes our mental attitude such that we become less focused on awakening for our own benefit. Put another way, intentional suffering is the suffering we experience as a result of practicing compassion. This is why you find the teaching of compassion emphasized in the teachings of Christ, Krishna, Buddha and Zarathustra. Suffering for others transforms the world and at the same time it transforms our self.

Intentional Suffering

    Intentional suffering is qualitatively different than other suffering. This suffering is just as awful as all of the other forms of suffering, but the inner world leading to the suffering is of a different structure entirely. When we experience some significant degree of spiritual awakening, this suffering becomes possible. For once we truly start to see, then it becomes possible to act in a real way in the world. By acting in the world, we take on suffering to effect positive change.

Intentional suffering is never a thing that one pursues. Rather it is a byproduct of being of service to the spiritualization of others. As we awaken, we become connected to all of life in a fundamental way. As we help others, their suffering becomes a thing that we can taste. As our vision continues to grow, we start to not only see but to feel the collective suffering of mankind. Thus, when we take a real stand in the world, we intentionally accept whatever suffering we must bear in order to see our actions through.

At times that suffering may even be foregoing further awakening in the service of others. The right action in our lives at times is not for us to directly pursue further awakening for ourselves, but rather to put ourselves in difficult and intractable situations for the benefit of other’s awakening.

Suffering in this way fundamentally transforms our being because it is a manifestation of the will of the universe being expressed through ourselves that spiritualizes material existence through our bodies. One comes into harmony with the spiritual force beyond one’s consciousness and allows for its manifestation to work through you affecting the world. This very act causes the individual acting as a conduit to suffer. The suffering can be psychological, spiritual or physical. In fact, it may demand the ultimate sacrifice as in the story of Jesus’s crucifixion.

    At the surface, for someone who hasn’t had an awakening experience, it is difficult to distinguish between intentional suffering and voluntary suffering. The key difference is that actions that come through us from our deeper spiritual nature, revelation or dharma expression can lead to a person suffering greatly in order to birth a creative transformation into the world.

The Two Streams of Life

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I would like to share a worldview that has shaped my life. It is a bit of a journey to fully paint the picture of the view, but I’ll do my best. The world of consciousness is a world bound by causation and the limitations of the physical universe. At the same time, there is an unconditioned uncreated reality beyond consciousness. Humans are at the middle point between both of these realities. The unconditioned works through humans changing the threads of causation in the physical universe. This process is at the core of all of the great religious teachings. Humans have been in a struggle between the force of instinctual egoism and the force of awakening for over 12,000 years – ever since humans started living in hierarchical societies. These two forces have been washing over humanity in a tug of war and penetrating into all of our lives. The drama of our age is the uncertainty of mankind’s continual existence – if our instinctual hunger for resources and power will result in our own destruction.

Foundationally, we as humans perceive all things to have causes in the physical world. The very brain perceiving is part of the physical world and is subject to all of the limitations of the physical world. The perception and cognition of a consciousness is entirely the result of the previous configuration of the environment. If you were magically transported into someone else’s body, you could not help but to be exactly them because all of the genetic, hereditary and environmental conditioning would be the same.

Essentially humans are biological robots that are behaving based on their programming. Information travels like a virus between people and infects one consciousness after another altering each brain it encounters. This in turn changes behavior which feeds into more information and further behavioral changes creating cyclic loops of actions that draw people in like gravity. Even though individual people are born and die, the patterns that control each human continues unabated despite the death of any one or all people.

Some of these feedback loops result in wars where biological robot kills biological robot. In these events, every last illusion of humans being the most rational of animals falls away as humans behave like lizards. Masses of people are caught in the hypnotic trance of propaganda which influence their behavior as predictably as a computer program. Caught under this spell, they can’t see that the human in front of them was once a pure baby like themselves. They only see a conceptual object, so they bash the object’s brain in.

If the above description was the whole story, things would truly be hopeless. The good news is that materialism is incorrect because humans have the capacity for experiencing something that is functionally unconditioned. This unconditioned experience breaks the chain of causation and sets it on a new path. Some call this experience the God experience, awakening, enlightenment, gnosis or seeing into one’s true nature. The capability for experiencing something altogether different from the form we experience in consciousness is recognized in every single culture, yet no one knows what it is because it is by definition unknowable.

Fundamentally, this experience is beyond consciousness and hence beyond the reach of the imagination because if it was not it would be subject to the same mechanical laws of causation as the brain. This is why being connected to this reality is so important. It allows for true freedom by transcending the limited illusion of self.

When a connection to the unconditioned is open, the chains of causation in the material world can be altered by some other force other than the egos subject to causation. This other force works through people. People become the conduits for bringing about change in the physical world and thus in the social and psychological realities. It is like humans are the bridge between the unconditioned and the conditioned. When they open themselves to the unconditioned, it can flow through them right into the physical world. In this way, we humans have the capacity to spiritualize physical existence.

It is by this act of being a conduit, that the great teachers of all of the religions altered the trajectory of humanity. Each teacher brought in a unique manifestation of the unconditioned into the world which transformed countless lives leading up until the present time. The unconditioned worked through the great teachers to create images and forms which spread from biological robot to biological robot in a predictable way.

However, unlike the typical memes that are spread, the images originate with the great teachers are of values and practices that create a map to the unconditioned. When people fully internalize the values and practices received from those great traditions, they become part of a chain of transmission. That chain connects each person as part of a link in a great work to undo the effects of the trance-like state afflicting most of humanity. The transmission points to the unconditioned which gives freedom which in turn begets more freedom.

Humans are subjected to two opposing forces. One force is the unconsciousness that is pulling humans towards a mammalian or even reptile existence where we behave like biological robots entirely subject to our environment. The other force is the unconditioned reality beyond form that pulls humans towards participating as co-creators in the material world. The great teachers’ role has been to bring new images into the world in order to change the software of the mind. Both forces’ energy radiates through the mental facilities of people through images.

Each teacher brought in a unique esoteric vision for how humanity can connect with the unconditioned. The particular manifestation of each vision differs but the origin being the unconditioned remains constant. For many of the followers of the great traditions, the vision of their tradition may never come into view, yet it will nonetheless transform their life. Examining a few of the traditions, we can see a beautiful prism of love entering into the world from beyond. 

In many ways the religions of the world are irreconcilable in terms of their doctrines. There is no way to mash them all together and say all of them are right. Yet, if the religions are viewed as vehicles for the unconditioned to work through people and give them a path to awakening, then there is a common thread among all of the great teachings. Most often the path shown is one of values as it is the path most relatable to the population at large. The path of values is a truly transformative path when engaged in earnestly, but it is slow without the practices of mysticism. Each religion has a mystical teaching and practitioners of mysticism. How the values and the practices of mysticism manifest varies greatly, but the reality in which they lead people is fundamentally the same.

Zoroaster brought the world the message that all humans have the innate capability to experience the truth and distinguish it from the lies. Buddha birthed the image of the way of healing with equanimity and spiritual rigor. Christ showed the world how we are crucified – losing connection with the unconditioned and how we can be reborn into a life of revolutionary action using love. Muhammad birthed a new image of how a society could be structured around worshiping God (the unconditioned).

Only a small percentage of people (mystics) are inclined to transcend the religious images and to connect with the reality behind the image. For the vast majority of humanity, positive images are the only thing that keeps together society and they can’t afford to throw them away. For each religious value when followed to its source leads to the unconditioned because there is no self in any of the values. All values point to something beyond consciousness and act as a call to action in the material world.

The teachings of each one of the great teachers continue to live in people today. Each follower channels the particular manifestation of their religion into the world in as much as they have integrated into the unconditioned. When the Christian mystic imitates Jesus’s love, they are able to access the unconditioned via the interface of the image in their consciousness of Jesus. They see and imagine Jesus and if it isn’t a cheap imitation, then they channel the love from Jesus into the world thereby transforming the world, themselves and others. Jesus is the mystic and the mystic is Jesus. There is an unconditioned revelation flowing into the world from a point beyond consciousness that allows all of this to be possible.

The question I pose to myself and to all others who walk the path of the mystic is – what role does your life play in spiritualizing the trajectory of humanity? What image of a new way of life can you offer the world? Humans are going to go extinct if they continue on their current trajectory of unconscious behavior as biological robots. What can we do to change it? Better put – how can we open ourselves to the unconditioned such that the change can work through us?

The Bella Lou Highway

In the spring of 2001 I had a dream – so profound that it has stayed with me since that night. I had dreamt that my family and I were living thousands of miles under the earth, in a small community formed for some bizarre governmental reason. Luckily, we had moved into this place only recently because it was already too late for those who had lived here for some time.

The sky of this vast subterranean cavern was dim and unearthly. Light from the sky had an unnatural epileptic flicker to it like florescent lighting. The buildings were all uniform in a prefab military base sort of way.

However, the most striking thing about this place was the inhabitants’ faces – years of atmospheric pressure had cause premature aging and a condition in which the blood in peoples bodies would slowly sink and stay at the bottom of peoples’ body parts. Giving the bottom of peoples’ faces a dull purplish blotch that would slowly get taller as time passed. It literally looked as though the life was being squeezed out of people. In short, the environment of this cave was killing everyone slowly.

The toll that this environment took upon individuals was so great that once these changes start to get set in motion it becomes increasingly difficult to escape from this hell. Thus, most people accepted their fate, and spent the majority of their lives in idle daydreams and useless pastimes.

As for escape from the cave, there was only one way out – the “Bella Lou Highway to the Stars” and you had to pay for every inch that you ascended out of the cavern. Thus, very few people were willing to attempt to ascend the highway. The reasons were twofold: one, the cost was so great that even though everyone had enough money to leave, they were not willing to give up spending their money on idle pastimes and daydreams; two, none who had left was ever seen again – no one knew what would happen to you if you did leave, so most feared the journey more than death. The community at large was always discouraging the few that had made up their minds to try to leave. Once word had gotten out that one wanted to leave, the community would make life miserable for the one who wanted to leave, until they had given up their hopes.

My family and I awoke to find us in a run of the mill house (fully furnished) with all of the latest Walmart style goods. We had no memory of what had happened in our previous lives, or the events leading up to our arrival in this dark land. Suddenly, we all became aware of an all encompassing crushing feeling that was bearing down upon us. The pressure in the atmosphere was painful. Dazed, we ventured out of our house, through a neighborhood of identical houses. We saw lots of people pretending to be happy – but we could see the pain that was being afflicted upon them by the environment just by looking at their skin. Eventually, we found ourselves at a McDonalds and we got a close up look at the other people in the town. They were hideous! I ran to the mirror in the bathroom. I say that similar changes were starting to happen to my own skin. I was scared and confused. I started to ask people about a way out of here. Everyone feigned ignorance.

Eventually, we found out about the highway – “The Bella Lou Highway to the Stars.” All we knew was that the journey would be long and hard, and would cost us everything that we owned. But what alternative was there? This? So we set off in our car to the entrance to the highway. We drove onto a plank like ramp and saw a meter to our left that would calculate our inches ascended and the amount owed. Then as we ascended up the highway – I awoke.

To My Daughter

I wrote this in 2016 before my daughter was born. This is the message that I wanted her to have if I was to die early.

My lovely girl, I have loved you before you were born. I’m writing this as a gift for your first birthday. I want to tell you about the gift that I have been given. This gift is not a thing nor is it even a thought. It is something more beautiful than the sunset. This gift can’t actually be given. In fact, this is less of a gift and more of an inheritance. All people can inherit this, but not all will. I’m going to do my very best to point at where this inheritance can be found, but sadly I won’t be able to give it to you.

As the days count down to your birth, I dream about what type of person you will be. I wonder about what type of life that you will choose for yourself. I ask myself – how can I guide you to be the person that you want to be? I don’t necessarily want life to be easy for you like I hear that some parents want. Rather, I want you to be you. I want you to come into this world and find your foothold and stand firm. I want to help you have a better foundation than I did, so that you can do more in this world.

This is the story of my soul. It points at your inheritance, but it is not it.

Both of your parents come from different continents and cultures. Our bloodlines have been separate for thousands of years. Yet, they have met again with you.

If you start to look back at your ancestors, you will see something astounding. For each generation that you go back the amount of ancestors is increasing by a power of two.

1gen 2gen 3gen 4gen 5gen 6gen 7gen 8gen 8gen 9gen 10gen
 1    2    4    16   32   64  128  256  512  1024 2048

They say that on average a human generation is 25.5 years. This means that in just 255 years, your ancestors will have reached 2,048. In just 20 generations (510 years), you would have had 1,048,576 ancestors. In the year 1500, there were around 450 million people on the planet and 0.4% would have been your ancestors. Can you imagine that? Over a million family members? Try the math yourself. See how the percentage of the population that is your family increases the further that you go back.

I hope that you can see now how your family gets big quickly when you go back in generations. In fact, if you go back far enough, you find out that all people are part of your family. According to the latest creation myth, us as humans, have been around for 80,000 years. You are part of a lineage of birth that goes back to the very first people. The first people even had parents and their parents were more like animals than the people that you are familiar with. Yet, even they had parents. If you go back far enough (around 3.5 billion years), you find out that at one time there was only one type of life. That life gave birth to three children. One of them was bacteria, another was a bacteria-like microbe, and the third child was the mother of plants and animals.

This is why all life is surprisingly similar. It is because we are distant relatives, that some plants have medical properties that have effects on people. At its very essence, all life is one. Every animal, plant, bacteria and human is part of a large family. This is why it is so important to have reverence for life. Even if you forget it, we are still part of a larger organism that is so much bigger than our limited perception of self.

One of the saddest parts of belonging to this family is that we are forced to consume each other in order to stay alive. The transfer of energy from lifeform to lifeform causes unimaginable suffering for all of life. Typically, lifeforms consume other lifeforms that have less consciousness than themselves because they make easier prey. The brutality of the act of eating can be easy to ignore, but it is a fact. We as humans take part in this to live. We cause immense suffering to the other beings (be they plants or animals) in this world that we eat and that is why we suffer so much in our own lives. We are part of the cycle of suffering and pain of life. This cannot be escaped. Life will have suffering. Some may be avoidable and other suffering may not. Realizing this and not fighting the inevitability of suffering is the path to avoiding more suffering. Loving the beings that we eat and not wasting their energy in how we live our lives is how we give thanks for their sacrifice.

As we open our hearts to the truth that our self is a small but important part of all of life and the universe, we are like a blind person who starts to see. Our minds can imagine the significance of this and trick ourselves into thinking that we understand this. It is one thing when this is just information and it is an entirely different thing when it is an unshakable reality in one’s being. My advice to you, is to find this as soon as you can. This is the start of finding your inheritance. Realize that I will die. Realize that you will die. Realize that all of life will perish and consume each other. Realize that there will be new life birthed and that everything will renew. You and I are both part of this beautiful dance and it is of the utmost importance that you can see this with clear eyes. Once your heart acknowledges this truth, then your life will begin. This is one’s second birth.

One of my own amazing realizations was that I am part of the material of the universe. My very bones are indivisible from the rest of the matter in the universe. There is no hard line dividing my body from the rest of the soup of life. Yet, if I am part of the universe, this means that the universe is perceiving itself. It is looking back into its own eyes. Even beyond what we typically call life, we participate in the movement of the entire universe.

Coming to this realization alone will transform your life significantly and is the prerequisite for a life of meaning. This is why it is so important to find this place because it is your true home. When you see this, your fears of death will start to be settled and you will have a foundation to truly live.

Each of our lives seems so small when we look at a larger scale, yet we are immensely larger than the atoms that make up our bodies. Our lives give us choice about what we do in the world and we can directly create and destroy freely. In this way, we can participate in the creation of the universe. In this way, we are co-creators of the universe. Every act we make. Every movement is an act of creation. No matter how small an action is, it is linked into a chain of causation much larger than any of us is capable of understanding. This is why it is so important to learn how to let something larger than yourself manifest through you.

In this act of letting something larger than ourselves manifest through our self we find our true self. We transcend time and directly participate in the raw creation of reality. When we are in this place, our decisions become real and tangibly affect the lives of countless people connected to us. Things in the past can be healed and the future can be prepared as a place of love. This activity is the essence of my life and it stands in stark contradiction to the usual way of life.

The usual way of life is one of sleep – that is to say one is not letting something larger than oneself manifest through oneself. There is only the basic animal drives and desires present when one isn’t in touch with this larger something. There is nothing wrong with the drives and desires that are part of our heritage as mammals, but to limit oneself to them would be a tragedy.

Moreover, there are those in our society whose selfishness and lack of connection are so great that they are driven by forces that are below that of mammals. Within our society these people have almost supernatural powers over those who are just sleepy. They have no attachment to what others think and feel. They are totally free from all restraints but one. They are an eternal slave to their own egos and are unable to come into contact with anything greater than themselves. These types of people are often referred to as psychopaths or sociopaths. You should familiarize yourself with their traits and behaviors because you will encounter them in your life. They are like a dangerous reptile who cares only about their own survival and treats all other beings as food.

Psychopaths are sometimes born that way and are sometimes self-made. They can be any gender. They can be geniuses or dumb as rocks. They can come from privileged backgrounds or broken families. What they all have in common is the propensity to treat people as objects. These people are in the highest ranks of government and religion. They will do whatever they can do to psychologically manipulate people to their whims. They aren’t necessarily organized in the conventional sense. Rather they are united by collective egoism. There isn’t a secret society controlling the world (as far as I can tell), but more horrifyingly it is completely out of control.

People are born and they die every single day. People get older and fill in the roles laid out by the ones who came before. New psychopaths fill the roles of old ones. New egos battle with old egos with neither one having compassion for others. This is the horror of the situation. No one is in charge. Our patterns of behavior are set like computer software and replicated from human to human. As long as the general population is asleep, then the software of the psychopaths will run most people’s minds.

This is why it is so important to let God (a name given to the unknowable something greater than oneself) manifest through one in the world. This vaccinates you against the lies of the psychopaths – it doesn’t provide immunity, but it helps. By letting God work through you into the world you are actively transforming the world. You are counteracting the influence of the psychopaths on the world. You are bringing the many manifestations of love into the world. When that love is brought in, it passes from person to person and has an unknowable effect. It is transformative in a way that you will never understand.

For the last 12,000 years since humans started the first city states, we have been in a struggle between those who manifest the love of God on earth and those who spread lies that seek to keep people in bondage. Many messengers of God’s love have come and many power hungry kings, priests and warmongers have come. All in all we have seen a transformation of the world due to the work of these messengers. We only know a fraction of the names of the messengers for they do their work without seeking recognition.

Perhaps more important than the messengers is the masses of ordinary people who carry on the work of love in the world. Those people have touched something beyond their ego and now have the capacity to let light flow into the world from an unconditioned place. Being a conduit of this light is one of the only things of lasting meaning in life. This is why it is so important that one come to experience something greater than one’s limited self.

I love you with all my heart. Make the best of this life by living with freedom and joy.

The Mystical Quality of Materialism

I’ve often described myself as not being a materialist. I often have to qualify that statement by saying “in both senses.” Inevitably, I get asked “what’s the other sense?” To which I reply “in the philosophical sense” and I explain that I don’t subscribe to the school of philosophy that holds:

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism that holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all things, including mental states and consciousness, are results of material interactions. According to philosophical materialism, mind and consciousness are by-products or epiphenomena of material processes (such as the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system), without which they cannot exist.

Wikipedia

This view looks at the universe as just made of stuff. There is no god, no soul, and no free will. Each consciousness is just the result of a peculiar formation of matter. I don’t believe in this view because it doesn’t match my life experience, yet I’ve found value examining it.

I find value because I’m struck with dissonance when I witness the pop-culture version of the materialism. To me, that view seems dishonest because it espouses that the atheistic rational self is king. There is nothing bigger than oneself – or ego. Everything experienced can be explained by science. There is no magic in the sense that are things that are impossible to explain or touch with the rational mind. There is no mystery – only causes that have yet to be explained.

The problem with this mindset is that it isn’t rational because the material view is filled with problems beyond our understanding.

When we look hard enough at life with a sterile materialistic lens, we are amazed at the mystical vision that emerges. In this vision there is little room for an individual self and what room there is for it is infinitesimally small.

The magic starts at the beginning of life when a sperm fertilizes an egg. From this moment onward the process of building the hardware of consciousness is in motion. By the time a child emerges from the womb, there is enough instinctual self awareness to cry when needs aren’t being met and a rudimentary sense of separation from the environment.

Later as the child develops a more solidified identity is molded from the environment and social conditioning. Eventually, we have a human who has a sense of self who has strong opinions on who they are and who they are not.

How did this person go from no self as the raw atoms that composed the sperm and egg to a person? Materialistically much of this process has been discovered. We know much about  the cellular mechanisms that lead to a mammal’s growth from an embryo to an adult. However, we don’t know really know that much about the materialistic basis for consciousness. What we do know indicates that our sense of self is an illusion. In fact, our body is made up of an uncountable number of cells that are acting independently and in purposeful order that allows for our physical form to persist through time (for a little bit!).

An alchemical Ouroboros

Western philosophy has been eating its own tail in trying to resolve the problem of mind body dualism. Increasingly, the materialistic view is becoming the popular view. In this view, a universe where there is no mind is emerging. There is only the body and its material components. Incidentally there is a living computer (brain) made of the fabric of the universe that can perceive the mind body dualism, but it doesn’t mean that the mind perceiving has a basis in reality. Yet, it is only through this consciousness that we perceive the universe.

The limit of the material self is the sense organs. Beyond the typical sense organs of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling, we possess the capacity to use our consciousness to construct mental imagery and frameworks. Through the process of growth from an embryo we were creating more than just a sense of self. We were creating the entire universe as we experience it. Our brains are putting together a sense of reality based on the inputs from the sense organs. Even the rules of gravity became internalized in our brain through the experiences in our sense organs. We have constructed inside of us a conception of the universe which our sense of self inhabits. Everything we experience and know comes out of the brain’s material configuration. There is nothing else. At first glance, we are caught in a paradox of meaninglessness.

Let’s take this as is. Everything that is ourselves as we know it has bloomed out of the material universe and created this sense of self that we are experiencing right now while reading this paragraph. There is no objective basis for the existence of self in the materialistic view. Then, it follows that if the self is just the mechanical result of physical interactions in the material universe, there is effectively no free will for the entirety of our actions is determined by the configuration of matter and energy through time.

Eventually, the particular configuration of matter and energy that we perceive to be our self fails to self-replicate and our body dies. With our body decomposing, our consciousness is gone. The entire identity that we scaffolded out of nothing is nowhere to be found outside of its effects on the environment (including other consciousnesses) outside of the body. In the scale of galactic time, our life is nothing more than a speck of dust that formed and disintegrated for a fraction of a nanosecond.

A dissected human nervous system. This is what is in our bodies and moving about.

So, now what? We have a universe of unknowable size containing lifeforms that move based on their environmental configuration. Those lifeforms are made from the material of the universe. Yet, they function with an illusion of time and sense of separation from the universe. They are like nervous systems floating in liquid moving in time interacting with other nervous systems. The lifeforms are exchanging configurations of matter and energy which rewire their own material. Zoomed out, there is an entire planet of such patterns of life of varying complexity in constant motion like a big chemical stew. Zoom further out and you see a solar system that is interacting with this planet stewing with life. Zoom out yet again and you see an entire galaxy with mind bending distances and funny physics. If you push the human conception of the universe to the maximum, you see a universe that from the standpoint of a human being is functionally infinite. From our standpoint, the possible configurations for matter and energy are infinite.

If we accept the materialistic view as is and stand back, what we see is breathtaking. We see a universe in which there is no separation from ourselves. This universe is infinite in scale and transcends time. A consciousness that is inseparable from the universe came into being allowing a portion of the universe to have a limited perception of itself. The universe outside of the perceiving faculty of our own consciousness is unknowable. There is nothing objective nor is there anything subjective for it takes a consciousness to perceive the material world to create a taxonomy of what is and what is not.

Timeline of the universe. A representation of the evolution of the universe over 13.77 billion years.

Where is God, the soul and free will in all of this? Those are taxonomies that fall apart just like the terms objective, material, causation and time. You can define the terms to correspond to portions of the universe that fit within the materialistic view, but that it is still just a thought. God can represent the vast unknowable universe. The soul can represent our perspective of separate self that does the experiencing. Free will can represent our functional capacity to be creators of this universe with our actions because pragmatically we can never understand the materialistic causation that led to us taking any action.

In a view of reality where all states have original causes, the chain of causation for all events springs back to the creation of the universe – the big bang. If all of existence started with a singularity exploding, then all causes radiate from that explosion.

This leaves a universe where our conceptions of God, the soul and free will spring from a center point that radiates out. The universe as we experience it is still being created. It is still expanding and so are we. At the center of it all is an unknowable point before the beginning of time.

This entire worldview is filled with magic and mystery. How could a brain made of the physical material of the universe understand something as big as the universe? Where is free will in a nearly infinite world confined by rigid causation? Does the consciousness perceiving have an independent existence? All of these questions are breathtaking if you stare at them and apply the questions to your own existence. If these remain abstract mental ideas to you, then there will be no meaning and wonder.

Spinning through infinity you and I are together right now

Twenty years ago, when I was sixteen years old, I fell down on my knees in my bedroom and started praying. I prayed like a man on a sinking ship. Until then, I had done everything that I could to keep my spirit alive in the face of a world that wanted my conformity. I prayed that I would find a way and a teacher.

That same year my stepfather started his involvement in a spiritual group. I would pepper him with questions about meditation, philosophy and life. Unknown to me he would relay many of my questions to his teacher. Eventually, his teacher relented and told him to bring me.

A photo of me at my first Zen sesshin in 2002.
A photo of me at my first Zen sesshin in 2002. I was on fire when this was taken.

When I came to the group, our teacher said: “I will help you grow spiritually and protect you from the world if you give up drugs and go to college.”

It was twenty four years ago that I agreed to this bargain. Since then, I’ve been blessed to have worked with many teachers who have tolerated my limitations, arrogance, ambition and mistakes.

My path has led to opening myself to the traditions of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, John Godolphin Bennett, Hasan Lutfi Shushud and the Rinzai Zen School of Buddhism. I’m grateful to the depth of my being for their love and with this gratitude comes a feeling of wanting to share the gifts that I was given.

I remember one night during my sesshin at the Ryutakuji. It was late at night and the jikijistu had given us a break from zazen to stretch our legs. I stumbled outside along with the young monks. We all stopped and stared at the full moon. The moon reflected through us. It went through us into the pond. The light shone through our hearts into the infinity going right into the future. How I wish to give that moon.

My writings here are my attempt to give the moon – that which I can’t be given. There are countless masters who have done a better job than me at pointing at the moon. I hope that my unique experience and perspective is helpful.

As you read this – in this moment, our minds are temporarily joined. You are reading an expression of my self that is traveling through time and meeting your mind. It is my sincere hope that it helps you on the way.

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