Two Monks and a Girl

There is a classic Zen story of two monks and a girl:

An old monk and a young monk were walking together to their monastery and came to a river with a strong current. As the monks started to cross the river, a young and beautiful girl called out to them asking for help to cross the river as she feared its current. While the monks had taken vows never to look or touch a woman, the older monk picked the girl up on his shoulders and carried her across. Then the girl went her way and the monks continued their walk to the monastery.

The young monk was shocked by what had just happened but spoke not a word. After a couple of hours the young monk could not contain himself and said: “As monks we have vowed not to look or touch a woman, how could you carry that girl on your shoulders?” The older monk looked at the younger monk and replied: “Brother, I set her down on the river bank a couple of hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”

This is a story about living in the present, not living preoccupied by events now passed. The purpose of meditation and vows is to unshackle oneself from the prison of the past which the old monk has but the young monk hasn’t. The story is about the role of vows, meditations, diets and other disciplinary tools deployed by those on the path to enlightenment. These tools are tools. However, often these tools are held sacred as the means and the end of righteous practice, which explains the reaction of the young monk. The older monk is enlightened. He hears a voice crying for help and does what he can to help. The vows are artificial constructs which ultimately mean nothing to him. The girl too is an artificial construct, not a girl but only a voice crying for help.

Another, more graphic version of this story describes two monks who were making their way from one monastery to another. They had been practicing meditation together for many years and were very good friends. In fact, not only were they close friends, but there was also a teacher-student relationship in place – one of the monks was much older and had been a monk since long before the other monk was born. Their journey involved many days traveling on foot. As the two monks walked through the forests and countryside, they spent a great deal of time discussing various aspects of the Buddhism.

At a certain point in their journey, the monks heard the screams of a woman coming from a nearby river. They rushed to see what was happening and in the middle of the river they saw a naked woman who was drowning. The older monk swiftly threw off his robes, dove into the water and rescued the woman. He then brought her to the riverbank and proceeded to cover her with his spare robes. After assuring himself that she was safe and well, the two monks continued on their journey.

The rest of their journey was quite different. The river incident had quite an effect on the younger monk who for the rest of the journey was surly and refused to even speak to the older monk.

A few days later, the monks arrived at their destination – a monastery they were going to stay for the next few months. At this point, the young monk started to ostracize the older monk and refused to even acknowledge his presence. The older monk was rather dismayed and worried about the comportment of his friend, so he confronted the younger monk: “Please, young sir, why have you changed? What have I done to warrant being treated in this manner? If I have said or done something that has hurt you then I am truly sorry and I must have done it mindlessly and certainly without intention”. The young monk replied: “You are not a true monk – you have broken the vows we’ve taken and as such, I no longer wish to be associated with you”. The older monk was rather shocked to hear this and asked what rules had been broken. The younger monk replied: “Not only did you touch a woman but you touched a naked woman and gave her the robes of a monk”. “How very true” replied the elder, “I saved the woman and carried her to the banks of the river, I made sure that she was warm and well and then I left her. However, it would appear that you are still carrying her around on your shoulders! In all these years of so-called practice of the Buddhist path, you have learned absolutely nothing. You cannot live without your rules and regulations – what a small and wasted life!”

The graphic version of the story provides further insights into Zen. (1) One purpose of life is to make this world a bit better than it would be otherwise; take every opportunity to do so, which is what the older monk did in helping the girl from drowning. (2) Treat others as you wish to be treated which is why the older monk provided the girl his comfortable robes and made sure she was safe and well. (3) Don’t take your view of a situation too seriously as by doing so you will fail to learn from the situation (as the young monk failed), make a fool of yourself or cause the demise of your relationships with others. (4) Don’t be judgmental of others as by doing so you may cause yourself to be indicted. (5) An enlightened monk is one with everything, not conflicted by duality. As such, even though both the monk and the girl were naked, the monk was not sexually attracted or repulsed by her.

Black Hole/Big Bang

Joshua Henderson

Josh was a friend, an artist, a father, husband, handsome, a lot of fun and endless other characteristics. Josh was also bipolar; at times a big bang, at times a black hole. Ultimately, the black hole turned into a big bang; Josh used a rifle to end his days.

Mr. Many Heads

This surreal figure (wood and pigment, 21 cm) is from the Lega tribe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is called “Sakimatwematwe” or “Mr. Many Heads who has seen an elephant on the other side of the river.” As an aphorism, to see the greatest animal in the jungle (which is not easily seen as it is on the other side of the river) requires wisdom, fairness and omniscience, characteristics of someone who can view things from the different perspectives of many heads.

This object is in the Tomkins Collection. The collection can be viewed at tomkinscollection.org.

Eccentrics

The etymology of “eccentric” is out of center. Likewise, eccentric people are off center in terms of their beliefs, views and behavior relative to conventional thinking or the views of affinity groups generally. Their views tend to be unique and insightful. Yet, like Cassandra in Greek mythology, few believe in the prophecies of eccentrics that have a good track record of seeing the future.

According to Dr. David Weeks who has studied eccentrics, the characteristics of eccentrics are:

Enduring non-conformity.

Creativity.

Curiosity.

An enduring and distinct feeling of being different from others.

Idealism, unrealistically hoping to improve the lot of others by having others think like them.

Happily obsessed with a number of long-lasting preoccupations.

Intelligent, in the upper 15% of the population.

Opinionated and outspoken.

Non-competitive, not needing tangible recognition of success.

Unusual eating habits and living arrangements.

Not particularly interested in the opinions of others.

Possessed of a mischievous sense of humor, charm, whimsy and wit.

More frequently an eldest child.

Having an eccentric family member.

Focused on thoughts, not feelings.

Feelings of invisibility as they feel others don’t take them seriously.

Feeling that others can take them only in small doses.

Dislike small talk or other inconsequential conversation.

A degree of social awkwardness.

More likely to be single, separated or divorced.

A poor speller in relationship to their intellectual capacity.

Eric Hoffer

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

The learned know the temporary “it.” The learners know the everchanging “is.”

Is marble colder than wood?

In a room, marble and wood have the same temperature, room temperature. However, unlike wood, marble is cold to the touch. This is an anomaly as it doesn’t comport with our expectations. (Marble feels colder because it’s a relatively good conductor of heat and as such it drains heat from our skin, making our skin feel cold.)

What makes the foregoing interesting is that while it’s common knowledge that marble feels colder than wood, very few of us are curious enough to find out why; probably because our curiosity is not aroused by anomalies, though maybe it should be.

Anomalies are funny. Funny as in odd as they don’t conform to expectations, preconceived notions.  Preconceived notions are categories in our mind that organize past experiences. These categories have descriptions and associations. We experience not our experiences as they happen but the descriptions and associations we have with the experiences. Thus, also funny, as in laughingly funny, is when we realize we mistakenly placed an experience into a category into which it doesn’t belong. We laugh at our stupidity. If not, then we are truly stupid.

Anomalies nudge us to awaken from having mechanical/category based experiences.  While everything is unique, not like or unlike anything else, we fail to experience its uniqueness when we mechanically classify our experiences. When our curiosity is aroused by the uniqueness of an anomaly, we seek to understand the anomaly and in doing so we start on a journey that makes us realize everything is unique; unless we ignore the anomalies.

where the gods sit

Life is a play, we are the actors and the gods are the audience. However the actors experience the play (comedy, tragedy or a bit of both) doesn’t matter to the gods as for them it’s all a farce. But where do the gods sit in the audience? In the front row are the gods that most clearly know the human mind and the deceptive costumes that clothe it. These gods have the greatest laugh. In the back are the gods that don’t completely get what’s going on. However, they are fortunate (or not) to be closest to the exit, wherever that might lead.

Enlightenment is Overrated

Enlightenment is overrated except by those who are enlightened.

That’s the essence of enlightenment: non-judgmental, acceptance, humility and joy.

The enlightened are non-judgmental. To them, the world is flat, not vertical, as they don’t rate their enlightened state as higher than other states of mind.

They accept each state of mind as it is what it is whatever it is, to be appreciated as it can be appreciated.

They are humble and as such they don’t confirm the status bequeathed them by others who desire to be enlightened as they view everyone as enlightened, some more some less. Asked if they are enlightened, the enlightened would respond: I am who I am. That is, categories, descriptions and identities deny the uniqueness of everything; the enlightened know that everything is unique; hence, self-descriptions are not an enlightened view.

The enlightened don’t overrate enlightenment as they know the joy that springs from wisdom and compassion can never be overrated.

Meditation of Death

There are times we are overwhelmed by stress, pain, multitasking, internal strife (mixed feelings about choices we need to make), depression, anxiety, etc. Overwhelmed means drowning. Drowning leads to  death as without freedom from that which overwhelms us, we are living in hell. Fortunately, there is a life vest to save us from hell: the meditation of death.

The meditation of death is setting our minds to imagine we will die in the next 5 minutes. With death imminent, everything transitions from like wallpaper that’s been up for years (flat and unnoticeable)  to three dimensional objects of intense beauty. Ugly, unfashionable Formica kitchen counters become beautiful abstract art. As we are energized by the beauty of everything, a calmness settles inside us and we are free from that which was overwhelming.

As we continue with the meditation of death, we realize that death is a transition to becoming one with everything as we were before we were born. As one with everything, we view the universe from infinite perspectives (the essence of wisdom) and treat everything no differently than we treat ourselves (compassion). This is living in heaven, as before birth and after death.  From the perspective of heaven,  all that happens on Earth is absurdly funny. Thus, that which was once overwhelming now seems trivial, selfish and funny.

To avail ourselves of the life vest, the meditation of death, we need never forget it is always near. But as we tend to be forgetful when we’re overwhelmed, best to keep us from oblivion are short periodic prayers (meditations) several times a day wherein we are thankful for our circumstances as we acknowledge that there are many in the world who would love to be in our shoes (especially if they have no shoes).

Across the Universe

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless, undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva

The Beatles, 1968

“Jai Guru Deva, Om” is a mantra-like refrain which in Sanskrit literally means “glory to the shining remover of darkness.”

However, the lyrics seem more reflective of a psychedelic journey than a meditation. Interesting is the refrain “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” Does that mean that my world will never change or that from nothing will come the light that will change my world (the shining remover of darkness)? The ambiguity of the refrain suggests that one’s person experience (“my world”) is as it is (eternal) and yet bizarrely changing with revelations when traveling across the universe.

Things to Come

Each of us has a somewhat different perception of reality, i.e. the nature of something. Arguments can erupt between people having different perceptions. Logic and pervasiveness are tools we use to convince others that our perception is more correct and another wrong but those who win these arguments don’t necessarily have them most accurate perception. A better way to judge individual perceptions of reality is by their accuracy in forecasting how reality will unfold, as understanding the nature of something likely allows us the best guess of how it will be over time. Studies of “super forecasters” (people who are much better than most at forecasting upcoming events) have identified the following characteristics these people share:

Probabilistic thinking. Nothing is certain. There is no right answer, just likely outcomes. Ability to put mathematical weights to possible outcomes.

No righteousness. What happens isn’t preordained, isn’t necessarily a logical or moral outcome.

Metaphorical thinking. Able to see unrelated situations as shedding light on the subject at hand.

Curious. Engaged by thinking about how something works and driven to understand it.

Open-minded. Realizing that possible outcomes are only limited by one’s imagination.

Economic. Good at productively allocating time and resources to information gathering.

Detached/dispassionate. Able to view things from the outside in, without personal prejudices.

Wise. Able to view things from many perspectives.

Flexible. Openness to changing one’s point of view as conditions or one’s perception changes.

Humble. Knowing that one will never really understand something. Accepting that other forecasts are likely more accurate.

Integrity/confidence. Able to ultimately chose what one believes is the likely outcome.

While few people exhibit all of the above characteristics, those lacking many of them should be cautious in taking their perceptions of reality too seriously.

Faces of Enlightenment

Enlightenment is being one with the light. Light/energy is the essence of everything (E=M*C*C). When we realize we are one with the light, we are one with everything. As one with everything, there is no duality, no friction; just peace beyond our understanding.

The word “enlightenment” is the Western translation of the Buddhist term “bodhi.”  The verbal root budh- means “to awaken,” and its literal meaning is closer to awakening. Presumably, prior to awakening, we are asleep. Asleep, we see the world through our mind, not our eyes. Our mind shows us a world based on the memories and stories our mind creates. Our eyes reveal the universe as it is.

Human beings are a transitional species, part animal and part divine consciousness. As animals, we are finite in space (our physical being) and time (birth to death). As divine, we are one with the light and its manifestations, the universe; infinite in space and time; eternal. This realization is enlightenment.

We are born as animal consciousness and as we develop we can access divine consciousness; sometimes for short moments, sometimes for much of the time. However, we cannot be fully liberated from animal consciousness as it is the cost being in bodily form; so we all toggle back and forth. As such, even those who are enlightened much of the time are still animals some of the time. As animals, they may act in ways we don’t associate with enlightened beings. They may get intoxicated, lie, cheat or be abusive to others. Such behavior has resulted in the shaming and dismissal from leadership roles of many presumably spiritual/enlightened masters.

That said, the faces or characteristics of enlightened beings are:

Gratitude. They are grateful for their circumstances, however dire, as they know that their circumstances could always be worse.

Optimism. They know that in time their circumstances will improve as the present will always be better than what’s passed.

Forgiveness. They forgive all who have not done right by them as what’s past is passed. They don’t seek retribution. They may however feel that whoever has not done right by them might not do right by them again and avoid that person.

Laughter. They find much of how others think and act as funny; funny as odd; funny as laughable. What’s funny is others taking their illusionary selves seriously.

Childlike. They are childlike as they experience the present as unique, unlike anything they experienced that’s now past;

Humility. They don’t perceive themselves as better than others regardless of their talents or whatever good fortune has brought their way.

Non-judgmental. They accept others as they are, not grading them, holding them up to certain standards.

Acceptance. They make the best of what comes their way without distractions of what could or should have been.

Empirical. They learn through observing.

Insightful. They have interesting insights into the nature of consciousness. The enlightened are enlightening. Those who are highly enlightened have the greatest insights.

Wisdom. As they identify with the infinite manifestations of the universe, they have many perspectives. The synthesis of perspectives is wisdom.

Compassion. As they don’t differentiate between themselves and others, they treat others as they wish to be treated.

Karmic liberation. Karma, the stories our mind has created about the past, frame our experience of the present. The enlightened experience the present free from the prison of the past.

Calmness. As they meditate regularly, they are calm and clear and have little internal conflicts in making choices. Moreover, as they identify as one with everything, their lives tend to be less volatile as the universe is less volatile than any of its finite manifestations.

Integrity. They do not have internal “self” conflicts where, for example, one self inside their mind tells them to have a cookie because they’ll enjoy it while another tells them not to because it’s not good for them.

Confidence. Clear in making choices, come what may.

Divine. As one with the light, the enlightened are one with God. They realize the true nature of the universe: the universe is one, a manifestation of God; it is what it is whatever it is; no beginning, no end; eternal. This is the ultimate purpose of enlightenment, to not suffer in life or death as everything is one forever.

Karma

Every day is a life in a day, not a day in a life. Each night we die and are reincarnated in the morning.

Each morning we choose to assume the identities of the person we were last lifetime (yesterday) and embrace the stories we’ve made up of who we were in past lifetimes (days passed). The identities, an amalgam of role-playing and habits, feel familiar and safe.  Others around us reinforce our self-perceptions. This is the foundation of karma.

Karma is the thoughts we associate with the intentions, actions and the consequences of our actions in our past lifetimes. Karma, living in the context of previous lives, has us living in a karmic prison. Karma frames our experiences in our reincarnated life. Our karmic prison precludes us from experiencing the present as it unfolds.

As life is otherwise overwhelming, our mind (which is a mnemonic device) categorizes our passed experiences and creates memories and related stories. Thus, we do not experience the present as it unfolds, we experience the categories into which our mind places present experiences.  The categories, their meanings and the stories we ascribe to them are artificial and illusionary.  However, we believe our stories are true and as such we make them real by experiencing the present in the context of our stories. Only when we are freed from our karmic prisons, we can experience the present.

Good karma, bad karma

Bad karma is living in a karmic prison of preconceived notions. Bad karma doesn’t allow us to experience the present as it is, unadulterated by reference to the past. Good karma is learning from our past successes and failures which helps us navigate our way in the now and what’s next.

Bad karma creates a road on which we travel forward. It feels safe, secure, comfortable. Good karma is a light that helps us see our way forward through an ever-changing landscape of undefined roads.

Bad karma leads us to living habitually, oblivious of the world about us. Good karma helps us navigate in a world in which everything is unique, engaging and has us feeling alive.

Bad karma has us feeling we understand what we’re doing. Good karma is knowing we know nothing.

Bad karma is intelligence, the ability to analyze and make sense of the past in evermore complicated ways. Good karma is wisdom, knowing that everything can be viewed from different perspectives.

Bad karma is why. Good karma is how.

Bad karma is when the past overshadows the present. Good karma is the light that helps us negotiate the present as it emerges from nothingness.

The popular view of bad karma is that when you treat others poorly you’ll get your just deserts sometime later. When that happens, people say: “karma sucks.” Likewise, good karma is the concept that when we do right by others good fortune will come our way. There is truth in these views.

Karma is living in the context of the stories our mind has created.  These stories are like a storyline of a play. As the present unfolds, we view it in the context of the storyline and incorporate it into the storyline. There are several roles in the play. Our personal role is the central actor and to some extent the writer of the play. However, at times there are role-reversals and our role is that of other actors. When in our storyline we treat another actor abusively, we may find ourselves playing the role of the abused actor during role-reversal. This is retribution via bad karma. Likewise, good karma is when the storyline has us treating others well. Then, role-reversals work out well for us as, so to speak, “good things happen to good people.”

We have great liberty in creating our stories. Our storylines can bend to tragedy or comedy. As a tragedy we risk finding ourselves in role-reversals that are not those for which we would wish ourselves. As a comedy we are likely to be happy regardless of the role in which we find ourselves in the play. That’s the enlightened view; to view the past in comic relief and come what may.

Enlightenment is liberation from our karmic prison; liberation that reveals our karma was just an illusion.

Mark Twain 1

“To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth.”

The Trees of Knowledge of Good and Evil and Life

In the Bible, God creates man in his own image and hosts him in the Garden of Eden with plants and fruit trees for his sustenance. Among the fruit trees are the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. However, God forbids man to eat the fruit of these trees.

Man nonetheless eats the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Upon realizing man has eaten the forbidden fruit, God declares that man is now “like one of us [gods], knowing Good and Evil.” God then banishes man from the Garden for fear man will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life which would grant man eternal life; thus, truly becoming one of the gods.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represents wisdom, the ability to see not solely from our individual perspective but through infinite perspectives as do the gods. We, the decedents of God’s  creation, man, are born with the potential of unlimited wisdom.

As man was banished from the Garden of Eden before having eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life, man is not born to eternal life. However, there is a way to the Garden of Eden where man can find the Tree of Life, eat its fruit and live forever. It is the righteous way, the way of God: compassion. Compassion is treating others as we treat ourselves. We can only truly have compassion when we realize that we and all others are one. This realization allows us into the Garden of Eden which is everywhere. Here we can now enjoy the fruit of the Tree of Life and be one with the universe which is eternal. Now, created in the image of God and with wisdom and compassion, we are forever; one of the gods and one with God.

This is the purpose of life.

The Little Girl and the Atheist

From Reddit:

“An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.

“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”

The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmm, I have no idea.” To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?”

And then she went back to reading her book.”

 

What makes this story funny is that it reveals certain truths and there’s nothing more funny than the truth.

The little girl is curious as she observes an odd transition in life (as that of the grass). She is reading a book as she has an interest in learning. She values her time and doesn’t simply want to kill it as the atheist suggests they do. As a little girl she may not know much but does know that as the atheist doesn’t know much about what human nature finds repulsive (he doesn’t know shit), he unlikely knows much about spiritual matters. As well, as he thinks he’s intelligent (as he deems himself a good judge of her intelligence) and is adamant about his views, he is not open to other possibilities, lacks wisdom and not worth talking with.

Intelligence and Wisdom

Intelligence is having strong cognitive abilities. Wisdom is good judgement.

Those who are intelligent do well at analyzing complex data. Data by its nature is historical. The intelligent are good at explaining the past. The wise are good at assessing current situations and determining the likelihood of future outcomes.

From early childhood our intelligence is measured by tests and school grades. This is a easy measurement as it’s ex-post. Those perceived as highly intelligent are put on fast tracks and given many opportunities to excel to the top of their classes or organizations. They excel at many technical skills like  math and verbal communication. Their minds can be microscopic and/or telescopic, able to view that about which people of average intelligence seem clueless.  They can make sense of an otherwise ambiguous past which gives them and their audience confidence in their ability to predict how things will transition in the future. However, there is little relationship between those who most convincingly understand the past and those who are best at predicting the future. As everything is forever transitioning and everything is unique, using the past as a basis to predict the future puts limits on one’s imagination. This is significant as we can’t see what we can’t imagine.

The wise are best at assessing current situations and predicting how they will transition over time.  Their wisdom is generally more valuable than the perspectives of those considered intelligent. However, it is difficult to measure and identify those who are wise. To do so would require measuring ex-ante outcomes which would take time for forecasts to be realized (or not) and require many forecasts.  Moreover, excellent forecasters give different scenarios percentage probabilities which is not what an interested audience generally wants as percentages don’t give their audience as much confidence about going forward as do definitive forecasts. Thus, because of the difficulties of measurement and little demand by the general public, identifying those who are wise is not done systematically. However, those in the interested audience who are self-confident want forecasts from those who are wise, not those who are intelligent.

The difference between the intelligent and the wise is clear as academics are intelligent and successful business people tend to be wise (and/or lucky). Academics are great at explaining the past and confidently predicting the future. But if the value of an individual’s contribution to society is simply measured by the amount of money they earn, academics aren’t highly valued as predictors. Successful business people are paid considerably more for their predictive abilities as they are able to profit from correctly predicting future markets and cost-effectively providing what those market want. They are wise.

A good metaphor is the hedgehog and the fox. Hedgehogs are best at digging through a hedge. But that’s all they can do well, like an idiot savant who is narrowly intelligent. The fox doesn’t do anything particularly well but can consider many approaches to obtaining what he wants. Ultimately, always bet on the fox rather than the hedgehog to survive.

Modern society (more so than primitive tribal societies where wise elders are often consulted) are led by those considered intelligent. This often results in relatively poor choices.

As our social system doesn’t measure and identify those who are wise, how do we personally identify them? The fox would say to not listen to those most intelligent and best at explaining the past as they are unlikely to be good predictors of the future; best to take advice from those who know the past as a multifaceted amalgam of not necessarily related events and can speak of the future in probabilistic terms.

Trust

Trusting others may lead us at times to costly losses and disappointments that might have otherwise been avoided had we been more cautious and defensive. But the value of the tranquility that comes from trusting overwhelms the costs.

Unless experience or knowledge informs us otherwise, we naturally trust others when we feel connected with them.  As such, we try to do well by them and assume they will try to do well by us. This sense of connection is very powerful. It is identifying with the whole of the universe, not solely with our finite selves. As the universe has been and will be here forever, identifying with the whole infuses us with a sense of confidence and optimism that everything will ultimately work out well and there’s nothing to worry about as our personal lives need not be taken too seriously. This instills tranquility, a stressless state of mind.

Those who don’t feel so connected have stressful lives as they are on the watch for others who might do them wrong. While in their over-cautious approach to life they might avoid some undesirable situations, the ongoing stress in their role as a watchdog may be more harmful to them than would have been the situations they were lucky to avoid. In fact, prison guards have significantly shorter lifespans than prisoners.

Trust however need not be open-ended. Best to trust others while limiting potential risks if things unfold with negative consequences. In other words, if we lend someone $100 and they don’t pay us back, the situation is manageable; less so if we lend them our credit cards.

Beginner’s Luck to Bad Luck

Beginner’s luck is an often heard lament by seasoned players in some game or business explaining the success of a novice. Beginner’s luck can partly be explained by the beginner performing better than the low expectations seasoned players have of his performance. Another explanation is that the beginner is less aware than seasoned players of the subtle risks he is assuming, hence he is more aggressive and can reap higher rewards from taking greater risks. Similarly, the beginner is more focused on one or two key variables that most of the time affect outcomes while seasoned players’ attention is more widely focused, distracted. As well, the imagination of beginners is not limited by their past experiences, as is seasoned players, in their views of possible outcomes; hence they can envision as likely, what seasoned players perceive as highly unlikely, extremely positive outcomes from the choices they make and position themselves accordingly. Finally, in a competitive game, the beginners (who are typically a minority of the number of players) have the advantage of low costs for the choices they make as there are few players competing for those choices.

At some point beginner’s luck runs out as the beginner is no longer a beginner and becomes a seasoned player. However, before that happens, beginner’s luck can easily turn into bad luck as the beginner becomes overconfident and makes unwise choices.

Ultimately, seasoned players and beginners might both have greater luck if they made choices not solely  based on their individual perspective but the perspective of the other as well.

Awakening

Most of our lives are spent in a dream-state; a dream of stories based on memories and imaginations that seem very real. Awakening is the realization that our memories, imaginations and past have little to do with us beyond finding ourselves in certain physical circumstances (our body and the immediate world about us) and with certain network connections (social roles with family, work, friends); that everything otherwise is new, always and all ways new; new from one moment to the next. The newness of everything is engaging, energizing and arouses our curiosity which further engages and energizes us. We then realize that everything is new as everything is temporary, ever-changing. We realize that we are not solely ourselves as defined by our physical circumstances and network connections but are one with everything and temporarily separate from everything.

The dream is like a movie which our mind makes real, giving it three dimensions. When the theater lights turn on, the screen images fade and we recognize it was only an illusion.

“Sooner or later we’ve all got to let go of our past.” (Dan Brown). Best to do so before the movie ends.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

From earliest days in memory until early teens, my father who had a temper would often yell and hit me for things I thought were inconsequential. One time he even screamed “I wish you were never born.” I didn’t take this personally; thought that’s just the way he was, nervous and easily agitated. He died at 60 of the flu. My mother lived another 28 years. I would often ask her how daddy really felt about me. Her response was always the same: “He couldn’t stand you.” To which I just laughed. What was funny was that he was irritated by meaningless things he took seriously which made them real. For example, if I got home a couple of hours passed my curfew, he would go into a rage; seemed odd to me because at that point I was home.

My mother loved me unconditionally. Always gave me preferential  treatment; she cleaned my room first, spared no expense in serving only me the best foodstuffs, even when we couldn’t afford much.  However, 20 years before she died she announced her entire estate would be bequeathed to my sister. While my sister was not indigent and likely to die with more money than she’d inherit from my mother, my mother felt that my sister needed it more than me. I shared mother’s news with my children, including my 5 year old son, who from then on would always greet her: “Hi grandma, how about 50/50?” However, she never changed her will. How did I feel? Just laughed. It was funny because others with whom I shared my story were taken aback, vicariously felt hurt. That seemed silly. There was nothing personal to me about this experience. My mother did what my mother did; seemed the right thing to do in her mind.  I was happy for her. (Of course, had she been worth say $10M or more, maybe I would have felt differently.) At her deathbed, I was with her and my sister. I asked her whom she loved more, me or my sister. She said she loved me more. That seemed like a good deal. I got the blessing and my sister got the goats.

The point of my story is that many of us in situations like mine with my father and mother would have told themselves stories like mommy or daddy didn’t love me, I’m worthless, etc. They might feel wounded, traumatized perhaps. But that’s not really what happened in times past. That’s just a story they chose to tell themselves. Perhaps they might feel better if they change their stories.

The Purpose of Life

The purpose of life is to have a wonderful and happy life, realize our divine potential and help others do likewise.

HAPPINESS

Happiness is a function of gratitude, optimism and freedom from the karmic prison of our past lives, the days of our life now passed.

Gratitude

Gratitude is the realization that even the seemingly worst days could always be worse. Thus, we are always grateful. When grateful, we are “great-full;” full with feeling great, happy.

The etymology of  happy is “hap” which means luck. When we realize how lucky we are relative to most who are here now or who once were and are no longer, we are grateful and happy.

In the absence of gratitude, complaining thrives. Complaining is selfish. While complaining feels good temporarily, it precludes happiness. Complaining is selfish as in doing so we are oblivious of others who are truly suffering, those who would be very happy in our circumstances. When we view our lives from the perspective of those who are suffering, we have much about which to be grateful. Thus, one of the most significant choices in life is selfishness or happiness.

Nothing is perfect but the universe which God has created. As everything but the universe is imperfect, when we are oblivious to God’s perfect creation it is easy to find some aspect of “every thing” about which to complain. As God gives us bodily form to enjoy ourselves and have happy lives, by complaining we risk that God hears us complaining and self-entertains by putting us in harm’s way; giving us something about which to truly complain.

Optimism

A fundamental truth is that all things, including our circumstances, are temporary, ever-changing. As what is now will soon be no longer, when we are in difficult circumstances we can be calm and happy as we know that our circumstances will change for better or worse but sooner or later for the better.

Freedom From Karmic Prisons

Karma is the intentions, actions and consequences in our prior lives (days now passed as each day is a lifetime) that we weave into stories, generalizations and meanings which frame our experience of the present. Our stories imprison us, keeping us from experiencing the ever-changing and unique present as it is. Experiencing the present in the context of the past is living in the past.

To free ourselves from our karmic prisons, we need to realize that our past and all our stories are an illusion that is made seemingly real by our mind. (The etymology of “mind” is “memory.”) This can be done through mindless meditation and otherwise not taking ourselves seriously.

REALIZING OUR DIVINE POTENTIAL

Humans are a transitional species, part animal and part divine consciousness. We are born as animals and are socialized as animals. As animals we view ourselves as apart and separate from that which is not ourselves. In that context, we effort to fulfill our needs for food, shelter, security, health and companionship with little regard for that which is not ourselves. Simply, we are selfish.

The ultimate human potential is the realization of divine consciousness; the realization that we and the universe are one. This is enlightenment, being one with the light and one with everything as everything is light. As enlightened beings, we treat others as we treat ourselves (compassion) and embrace multiple perspectives (wisdom), not solely the perspective from our finite selves. Enlightened, we live happily, finding most people funny as they take their singular perspectives seriously, thinking they know that of which they have only a limited understanding.

The road to enlightenment is difficult, yet easy. It requires accepting our complete ignorance of everything, not taking ourselves seriously and mindless meditation.

AWAKENING OTHERS

To awaken others is like the process of awakening ourselves. We arouse their curiosity by questioning them as to who we are, why are we are here in life, why is he universe here. Answering these questions is difficult and frustrating work as the answers require us to see beyond ourselves. Yet the work is simple; reflecting on the nature of mind and the universe. The work can lead to near exhaustion like a dog endlessly chasing its tail. Then, suddenly, we stop and fall down laughing at the absurdity of our chasing our tail, as we realize we were enlightened from the very beginning.

Spirit and Soul

Each of us is a unique spirit with a common soul.

God is all there is. The universe is the manifestation of God.

In the Bible, the Burning Bush is the image of God that appears to Moses at Mount Sinai. The flames are ever-changing and the bush is not devoured by the flames as they are light, not fire. The flames represent the spirit, the bush the soul.

The words spirit and soul are often used interchangeably. However, spirit and soul are different. Spirit is the animated, vibrating life force. Soul is the sole essence of everything alive or not. All that’s alive has a unique ever-changing spirit and everything alive or not has the same soul.

We show up in life as spirits; some with high energy, some low; some big flames, some hardly visible; some volatile, some steady; each unique. When we go to sleep, we go to our death(1), our spirit is extinguished and our soul joins all other souls in the well of souls. As soul is the essence of everything, we are then one with everything. When we awaken our spirits arise. Soul is then only visible to those who know it exists and our attention focuses on our spirit and the spirits of others.  When aware of our soul, we can celebrate our common essence instead of finding ourselves distracted by spirits.

(1) Each night we die, each morning reborn some resemblance to the person we were yesterday who is now no longer.  Each day is not a day in a life but a life in a day.

Micro and Macro Love

Love is having peak experiences as we connect with others and/or the universe.

Micro or personal love is connecting with specific individuals or experiences.  It is physically pleasurable; intense; dramatic; joyful; sometimes painful. When in micro love we take ourselves seriously as it feels very real as it energizes us. It is an experience of heart and loins. It is finite as it is specific to the individuals or experiences that engender it.

Macro love is love of everything. It is a sense of being one with everything; a calm, joyous state. It is an experience of the soul feeling the soul in everything. It is experiencing the eternal, God.

While micro and macro love are mutually exclusive, we can experience both. However, those who haven’t experienced macro love only know micro love. Those who have macro love experiences can also experience micro love. Those solely experiencing micro love view those experiencing macro love as having an experience of the head not the heart, as not having truly experienced love. Those who experience macro love pity those whose only experience is micro.

Sequential and Synchronous Time

Now is a time, now is the time.

Now is a time as a point in time, a way to differentiate between past and future. This is sequential time. Now is the time as the only time that exists is now; past, present and future are all woven into now. This is synchronous time.

Those experiencing time sequentially have a logical perspective, a narrow focus, start one task after another is finished, are conscientious, organized, punctual, view activities as finite, value time and are careful in how it’s spent and view the past, present and future as distinctly different. They view the future as something that can be organized based on the present and recent past. They tend to often glance at their watch to tell time as time is telling them what’s next. They work at jobs. They fish with a rod and reel.

Those whose experience of time is synchronous are flexible, multitask and move seamlessly between activities, focus on a project and not on the time it takes to complete it, are more concerned with quality than quantity, develop long-term working relationships, perceive the world as continuous and view the past, present and future as continuous, not segmented. They feel that everyone dead or alive today is present; feel connected to them all, wherever they may be, and have their perspectives. They have careers. They fish with a net.

Experiencing time synchronously allows us a broad and deep  understanding of our circumstances and opens us up to the many possibilities as the future unfolds.   A sequential view of time frames our expectations within our most recent experiences.  For example, in Germany in the 1930’s Jews with a sequential view of time had no reason to suspect the holocaust was coming. In 1871 Germany adapted a constitution that granted Jews social and political freedoms equal to all German citizens.  However, those with a synchronous sense of time knew of Jews burned in masses in barns in Germany during the Black Plague 600 years back. As such, they could envision a similar outcome with the rise of the Nazis and plan an escape before none was to be had.

Time is time, whatever that is. We can artificially divide it and use it as a measuring tool or we can accept its ever-presence like a body of water where a school of fish swim.

Corona Virus

The corona virus pandemic is a terrific individual and collective existential moment. (Terrific once meant horrible/terrible and now of course means wonderful.) Like everything else in life the virus can be viewed in multiple ways; however, not viewing it at least in part as terrific implies we take our personal views too seriously and as such have a limited understanding of it’s nature and ramifications.

It is an existential moment as we are awakened by the immediacy of death as many we know or hear about die unexpectedly and as death rings everywhere with highly publicized daily death tallies. While we know that no one is getting out of here alive, the virus is a constant reminder of that reality. This reminder arouses us to consider our own death which leads us to question why we are here in life and how should we use the time remaining before we die. Is there any value to us continuing from now until our death the same life routines we’ve embraced for years or should we do something more meaningful or of greater value to others? Contemplating this can lead us to a life-changing state of mind and life changes. Helping us make a life change is the quarantine which prohibits us from continuing our habits of socializing, shopping and other routines that devour much of our time. Having a break from these habits makes them easier to break which in turn gives us time for other matters that might result in a life change. This change is likely to be terrific.

Collectively, it is also terrific. As now in quarantine we consume only what we need. The quarantine shows us that much of our consumption has been of goods and services that we want but don’t need. This suggests that maybe it’s better to have a life based on less expensive experiences than chasing things we don’t need. Moreover, the common threat of the virus solidifies nations and people everywhere which leads to peaceful coexistence. Thus, the virus is terrific as it may re-shift collective priorities to the benefit of all.

Most of us will receive a reprieve from the virus. This will be a watershed moment for us; a point of reference from which we will judge whether our time from now until the end was well-served or we just killed time until time killed us.

Integrity

The etymology of “integrity” is wholeness. When we have integrity we are of one mind. We can hold disparate perspectives but those perspectives, while they may be diametrically opposite, don’t give rise to internal conflicts. We are free to make clear choices without ambivalence.

However, many of us lack integrity. While we appear as one person, within us are many people arguing, each telling us what to do. For example, one person in our head tells us to have a cigarette, we’ll enjoy it. Another person says don’t smoke, it’s not good for us. Likewise, externally we may lie to others so that they view us in a way unlike who we truly are, giving rise to two different people, who we are and who we project ourselves to be; again, lacking integrity. That these various people within and without us exist begs the question: who are we?

Each of us is like a ship with a captain, first mate, navigator and oarsmen. The shipmates often fight over control of the ship’s steering wheel, forcing the ship to change its course.  The captain can assert control through discipline, get each shipmate to perform their respective function and steer the ship’s course. But at some point the captain needs to sleep, the mates leave their stations, enter the captain’s cabin and again start fighting over the wheel to change the ship’s course. As such, discipline is often an ineffective way to develop integrity.

Love and meditation are an effective way to making us whole, to promote integrity. Love is connecting with others harmoniously, accepting them and their perspectives. Love connects all the shipmates within us and accepts their views and needs. With love, the shipmates work together for the benefit of each other and the whole.

Meditation is a process for calming the mind. The mind is like a pond. We view the world as reflections off the surface of the mind. When the surface of the mind is disturbed by our different selves fighting within us, the images reflected are distorted and we don’t see the world clearly. Through meditation we calm the mind and its reflections give us a clear view of our world, allowing us to make choices not skewed by conflict. We have courage, resolve and strength of character; grit, the root of integrity.

Ultimately, when the various people inside our mind compete and integrity prevails; it can be said that integrity, one, won.

Why Buddha doesn’t need a guru

The Buddha’s path to enlightenment is without a guide or guru. On the path he observes the world around him, questions his observations, realizes he knows nothing and that ultimately there is nothing to know. He knows that of the universe can only be said that it is what it is whatever it is. Any other descriptions are illusory. He realizes he is temporarily part and eternally one with the universe and whatever happens to him in this life is of little matter in the scheme of things. As he is one with everything he treats others as he would wish to be treated. This is compassion. As one with everything he can experience whatever happens to him from the infinite perspectives of others. This is wisdom. Wisdom mitigates the affect his personal perspectives have on him. In other words, when we are one with the universe we significantly hedge the idiosyncratic risks in our lives. (1) This has a calming effect and provides us a good laugh seeing others take their personal perspectives seriously. That is why in classic images of Buddha he is laughing. All other truths Buddha realizes stem from the foregoing.

While gurus can be helpful as guides, they are no substitute for independent thinking. Few who follow gurus ever awaken to the truths of the Buddha. Most simply play the role of follower in the play of life. They will likely learn much but know little. That’s their life.

(1) Idiosyncratic risks are those that are personal to an individual, like an accidental fire in our house. Experiencing the related losses is difficult but less so when we also experience it from the perspectives of our neighbors and others.

Kanako Iiyama Awakens

Recounting the train accident in Japan on April 25, 2005: “I had a sense something will happen…and went back to the train. I saw the tragedy of the train snapping in two and the people underneath it. The ambulance didn’t make it in time, so I dragged out the people around me who were breathing. Yes, it has changed the way I live my life a bit. I began to take a narrow, short path. It’s not like before. The scenery around me were all clear and the nature was near there, making for a very beautiful way.”

A moment of awakening. There is a small gap between when something happens and when we realize it has happened. Before the accident became real, Kanako was in that gap and knew something was happening which called her to the train. When the accident became real she did what she could to help, stepped out of her role as a pedestrian and acted as an ambulance person in triage. (When we awaken we realize any role in the play of life is ours to assume.) At this moment of awakening she realized that right then right there was different than all that came before in her life (“It’s not like before.”).  Moreover, she knew that as life can end in an instant, best to awaken as soon as possible; best “to take the narrow, short path” to self-realization*. Then she awoke to the beauty of everything around her and her path forward as the accident and its ramifications were now long past.

 

*The narrow and short path to self-realization is the meditation of death. It is setting our mind on the thought that we will die moments from now. Soon, the overwhelming energy of everything is revealed; that we and the energy are one. However, it is a narrow path and if we slip along the way we may very well not make it through. The wide and long path to self-realization is working with an enlightened master, formally receiving his teachings and engaging in meditative/contemplative practices. It is a long path as it involves many years of work until we get it. It is a wide forgiving path as it is walked with the support of the master and other students.

God’s Role

In the play of life I am who I am. I am god and so is everyone else. The only difference between us is that some realize we are god and others are oblivious to who we are before birth and after death and all times in between. It’s the difference between being one with everything (eternally transitioning manifestations of God) and viewing oneself as finite in space and time (birth to death). It’s the difference between realizing we are actors in a play for our own entertainment and taking our roles in the play seriously. In cannabis speak, it’s the difference between being high and feeling stoned.

Everything is a manifestation of God. As long as we perceive God as something different than ourselves, we can never be one with God, one with everything.

Present-passed and True-present

The past is the past and what we perceive as the present is also the past. We consciously experience the present as “present-passed,” not  the “true-present.” The true-present is the universe, waves of seemingly chaotic energy in an otherwise empty space. The true-present is the pre-sent, the universe before we consciously experience it. The conscious experience of the past (the past and present-passed) is our perception of the universe as reflections from our mind.

The mind is a mnemonic device (etymology of mind: memory). Memories are illusions, stories we’ve created.

The two constants in the universe are change and interdependence. Thus, the true-present cannot be described beyond saying that it is what it is whatever it is. Like God’s response when Moses asks who God is: “I am who I am.” Like the Tao, it is nameless.

We experience the true-present when we are in the gap between true-present and present-passed. This is the space of nothingness. It is like breathing. After we exhale we pause before inhaling. That pause is the space of nothingness. When in that space, we are set to experience the true-present as it unfolds.

The true-present unfolds as waves of light and sound energy; visually, like a kaleidoscope. It is overwhelming, like trying to drink water coming off a fire-hose.

The purpose of the mind is to organize the true-present so that it’s drinkable, not overwhelming.

Experiencing the true-present is akin to hallucinating. The etymology of the word hallucinate is to wander in the mind. In our everyday life, we experience the world as reflections from a point along the perimeter of the pond-mind. As is our habit, every day we go to the same point on the perimeter which results in us having a consistent perspective of the world. However, the mind often is turbulent (a function of our lacking integrity and other distractions) and its reflections distorted. When we calm the mind (through practices like meditation), we can leave its perimeter and wade into the pond, wander in the mind. It is here we can experience the true-present.

In experiencing the true-present, we realize that the reality we’ve heretofore experienced was not reality; just reflections, illusions. The true-present is curvilinear and rectilinear cosmic waves of images and sounds that overwhelming come upon us until we drown. Our drowning however results not in our personal demise; it’s the demise of the various identities we’ve created that define us, the various stories we’ve made up about who we are. It is here when we realize that the past was just an illusion; that we are truly one of the waves, one with everything; as we’ve always been from before our beginning.

Then, we fall down laughing as we realize the play of life and our roles in it are based on illusions. The play starts as a tragedy and ends as a farce when the true-present is revealed.

Koan 50

We are all unique and the same, simultaneously.

Mindlessness

The mind is like a pond reflecting reality. We experience reality not as it is but as reflections. The reflections most accurately represent reality when the mind is calm, undisturbed by motion beneath the water and activity above. Motion beneath the pond is a function of us not having integrity and our reacting to stories of our past we’ve created.  Activity above the pond is a function of multitasking and distractions like desiring that which we don’t need.

Mindlessness is the purpose of meditation. Meditation is a tool to calm the mind by focusing on, say, solely our breathing. This is mindfulness meditation. Beyond mindfulness, we can advance to mindlessness meditation wherein we focus on the space of nothingness between breaths; that is, the space between when we exhale and before we inhale again. In the space of nothingness we are free from distractions and are ready to experience reality (the present) before it becomes just a reflection from mind.

In the space of nothingness we experience the present and the nature of mind is revealed. Once revealed, we realize the mind’s reflections are not reality but a derivative based on reality that’s distorted by a disturbed state of mind. This realization transforms our relationship with mind from the mind being our master to our servant. The is the foundation of enlightenment.

So remember, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. If we forget this, enlightenment will be the least of our problems.

The woman from Tibet

In the cold of winter, February 1992, I drove with a guide from Lhasa Tibet to Kathmandu. During the four day trip we picked up a couple of hitchhikers. One was a 40 year old woman who looked deep into her 60s. Her skin was very dark for a Tibetan but that was apparently dirt from not having recently bathed. She was friendly and open about her life. She said she rarely bathed since her village home had no running water; had last bathed in a river in the summer; never in her life had a shower.

Every morning as I shower I think about that woman, imagine how she would feel in the shower with its temperature controls, great water volume and soothing soap melting accumulated dirt, yak candle smoke and caked perspiration. Feeling it’s the first shower of my life, my awareness of everything is heightened, I glow with gratitude; an unforgettable experience.

When involved in the mundane, it’s easy to fall into automatic pilot mode and oblivion. Imagining ourselves as someone who has never experienced these activities allows us to experience them as for first time which in fact it is as each time is never as any time before.

Koan 64

The more you look the less you see.

Enlightenment

Enlightenment is simply being one with light. Light, the visual form of energy, is the essence of everything. Enlightenment is being one with everything. To the enlightened, this realization is  manifested in the many faces of enlightenment.

As E=M*C*C (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared) is M=E/C*C (mass (all that there is) is energy divided (slowed down) dramatically by the speed of light squared), all things are essentially infinite manifestations of light.

As energy is all there is, all things (however seemingly real and independent of energy) are just an illusion disguising energy. As energy is all there is, the Big Bang is all there is. The Big Bang happens at one time. Hence, there is no such thing as time. The appearance of things sequentially is an illusion that creates the illusion of time as well.

A Rosy Marriage

Some years back I attended a wedding in the English countryside. The bride was pretty and ebullient. I congratulated her and wished her the best of luck; adding that she was wise going with an arranged marriage as those tend to be more successful than “love marriages.”  She was a bit taken aback, claiming her marriage was a love marriage, not arranged; her parents had nothing to do with her choice of groom.

I explained that in times past children married at a young age and didn’t know much about choosing a mate. Moreover, as marriages were a merger of families, parents arranged the marriages of their children. Today, however, children are no longer young and living with their parents when they marry; post marriage family get-togethers are mostly on ceremonial occasions; and there are often great socioeconomic differences between parents and children; thus, children arrange their own marriages and pay lip service to their families’ input.

The bride and groom were both good-looking, graduates of a top university, Jewish, bourgeoisie, in professional jobs at highly acclaimed organizations and had common life goals. That seemed like an arranged marriage on good footing. Had the bride chosen to marry an ugly uneducated elderly drunken bum with no means of support, that would have been a “love marriage.” When we make choices based on emotional feelings without practical considerations, it must be out of love. However, emotional states of mind are like the weather, they can change unpredictably. Likewise, emotional love relationships often don’t sustain themselves and have a higher failure rate than arranged marriages.

My view was that the bride was in love with the particulars of the marriage she had arranged, not with the groom. However, I was proven wrong. It was a love marriage. The marriage lasted less than two years and ended with great acrimony.

The Mystic

In life there are always more variables than equations. Hence, there are forever unknowns and a rational approach to solve all of life’s mysteries is a fool’s errand. Only through the realm of the divine can we truly know the unknowable. This is the role of the mystic.

The etymology of the word mystic is via Latin from Greek mustikos from mustēs ‘initiated person,’ from muein ‘close the eyes or lips.’

An initiate is someone who has been, often via rituals, admitted into a secret or obscure society or group. Closing the eyes means dispensing with conventional views. Closing the lips means not telling others of your secret society membership as in so doing you might be perceived as mad; as only those who can imagine the mystical experience can see it.

By definition, a mystic is one who by contemplation and self-surrender seeks to obtain unity with God or who believes in the spiritual understanding of truths that are otherwise beyond the rational.

In the play of life the role of the mystic is unlikely to win an Academy Award as it’s generally a supporting role with few lines. However, otherwise it’s good to be cast as a mystic as it makes for a fascinating experience. While I am who I am, professionally as an actor in the play of life I’m an eccentric mystic or at least I hope so as otherwise I must be mad. In any event, it’s much fun.

Koan 65

The present is what remains when every thing else is absent.

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Koan 28

You here, long time?

More than 40 years back, I found myself in a NYC taxi. Though the driver didn’t greet me, he didn’t seem unfriendly. As he was dressed in clothes from the Indian subcontinent, I assumed he had recently arrived in the States. To get going a conversation, I asked him in mock pidgin English: “You here, long time?” To which he responded in the King’s English: “I have been here 10 years, but I don’t know if that is long or short.” We then both laughed, sharing an enlightening moment.

Ten years is ten years, whatever that is. Long or short are empty categories, like bottomless buckets; yet we continue filling them to make order of an otherwise seemingly overwhelming world.

My Mother’s Transition 1

In 2014 my mother collapsed in her apartment in Brooklyn. Simply, her legs gave out. An ambulance took her to Maimonides Hospital to diagnose the problem. Initially she was diagnosed with having had mini-strokes. As she had been to hospital over the years for one problem or another, I wasn’t concerned but felt best to visit her; overruling her objections to do so.

At hospital I was told she was in Room 520. I went to Room 522 where there was an old man in a wheelchair sitting outside the room. I approached him and said: ” Mother, how you doing?” He looked a bit confused, so I said: “Mother, it’s me, Victor. You ok? Don’t you recognize me?” Then quickly, “This is room 522? You’re not my mom. Have a good day.” He laughed.

I then went next door to Room 520. My mother was there, in bed, alert and smiling. As well, her doctor and a nurse were there. After greeting my mother, I turned to the doctor and asked how my mother was doing, whether I needed to make funeral arrangements. Everyone was a bit shocked but for my mother who knew me too well. But I then added: “No, I understand, this is a serious matter. But before we get into it, I want to be sure I understand the relationships here. You are the doctor, she is my mother and I am her son. You’re not the patient, she’s not my son and I’m not my mother?” From there we got onto business. The doctor said that he initially thought my mother suffered from mini-strokes but as her neurological motor system was deteriorating further, she might actually have Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Guillain-Barre is an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves and damages their myelin insulation, rendering the patient paralyzed to a greater or lesser extent. Within a year, 90-100% recovery is possible.

After extensive and painful testing, including a spinal tap, the doctor determined she in fact had Guillain-Barre. In the ensuing days, as her condition worsened, she was put into hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I hired additional nurses to be by her bedside 24/7. In the ICU she was put on a ventilator and a feeding tube was inserted into her stomach which made her two favorite activities, eating and talking, not possible.

A couple of days later I visited my mother. I asked her nurse how my mother was doing. The nurse said I need to ask the doctor making rounds. I went out the room looking for the doctor. I approached a man in uniform and asked him how my mother was doing. Another nurse volunteered that the man I was talking with was not a doctor but an HVAC man. That didn’t matter as for me every opinion counts. I took the HVAC man to my mother. I told my mother that he was from Harvard Medical School and a specialist in Guillain-Barre. Then I said: “Doctor, what do you think?” Well, he was a religious guy from Jamaica and said best we consult scripture. My mother laughed.

Some days later, as her condition stabilized, my mother was moved out of the ICU into a less intensive care patient’s room. By then my mother had been on the ventilator for 10 days. Medical protocol called for her to be taken off the ventilator and to be intubated as continuing with the ventilator increases the risk of infection. Alternatively, she could be taken off the ventilator and effort to breathe unaided. If she was unsuccessful breathing, she would suffocate and die.

I told my mother that the next step was intubation and that over time she might get better and lead a normal life. However, as she was 86, she might never recover and be with feeding tube and intubation until the end of her days. I asked her what she wanted to do, try to breathe on her own now at the risk of dying or go with the intubation. She couldn’t speak but pointed to me. I asked her if she wanted me to make this decision. she shook her head indicating “yes.” I then said: “OK, this is what are going to do. You’re going to hold my hand as tight as you can, close your eyes, concentrate on breathing and the nurse will take out the ventilator. If you can’t breathe, you will transition. So before we get started, I want to tell you I love you, it’s been a wonderful trip, thank you for everything and God bless you.” The ventilator came out and my mother lived.

My mother never fully recovered and was wheelchair bound until she passed a couple of years later from congestive heart failure.

My mother didn’t have a lot of marbles but whatever marbles she had she retained until she passed. In my mother’s last days she said she had but one wish. She wanted to pass in the daytime, not at night. I asked her why the daytime and she said she would likely be sleeping at night and not during the day and she wanted to see what it was like to die. She died a couple of days later, after the sun turn from up high, in the early afternoon. I guess she then knew its journey from there.

That was my mother. No wonder I am who I am.

Defusing Anxiety

In the winter of 2017 I awoke one morning with pain in my right thigh. The pain felt like a serious bruise; maybe a torn muscle as my range of motion was limited; but there was no related black and blue skin marks to corroborate that diagnosis.  Moreover, I didn’t recall banging my thigh to cause injury. Yet the pain and the limited range of motion made me think that it would take a couple of weeks before I could get back to playing squash. Sort of a long time as I had had a meniscus and a couple of hernia operations in the past and was able to get to the squash courts in a week’s time.

Ten days later with the symptoms unabated, I went to my personal doctor for a diagnosis. She had me take an MRI. The next day, a Friday, she informed me that it looked like I had a tumor which most likely was cancerous. She set me up for Monday and Tuesday consultations at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and at Yale University Hospital.

She also sent me the MRI report which I immediately emailed everyone on my contact list with a note: “Just got notice from my doctor that it looks like I have a cancerous tumor in my leg; further examinations to follow. Wish me luck it’s not the big “C. Will keep you posted.”

I received many responses to the email, wishing me well. Some friends were shocked as I’m generally perceived as very healthy. Some doctor friends opined that in fact the MRI indicated a cancerous tumor more than anything else. Others offered encouraging words.

In the ensuing days, my wife was a wreck as we discussed the real possibility of having a leg amputated. I was good with the situation, figuring come what may. I also shared the particulars of my circumstances with everyone; from my doormen to strangers I’d meet on the grocery checkout line.

Monday I went with my dutiful son, Alex, to Sloan Kettering. Alex joined me so that we would have a clear understanding of the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment protocol. At Sloan I met with Dr. Patrick Boland, a “top doctor” specializing in orthopedic cancers. As I understood his examination would involve a surgical biopsy, before he started I told him that “I know there is a small but real chance the best way to proceed is to amputate the leg. If you think during the biopsy operation that’s the way to go, I’m good with that. However, if that’s what you think, don’t do anything. Just leave the leg as it is. Let me enjoy it for another couple of weeks and I’ll come back to have it removed.” Dr. Boland laughed, more than a bit surprised by my marching orders.

Dr. Boland and his assistant first examined my leg, pushing and tugging it forcefully. After not saying much beyond sounds like “hmm” and “ahah,” Dr. Boland said he had seen many tumor and cancer patients but I was different, “none look like you.” I thought my upbeat attitude was not what he commonly encounters. Dr. Boland then recommended more tests, an X-Ray and a sonogram. Hours later, with test results in hand, I met with Dr. Boland again. The good doctor advised me that the apparent cancerous tumor was just old dried blood from a long ago bruise that had leached spider-like to appear as a cancerous tumor on the MRI; that unbeknownst to me I must have banged my leg recently to cause my thigh muscle strain.

As I had an appointment the next day at Yale and the weather looked good for a drive up north from the city, I went to the meet the doctors at Yale. They confirmed Dr. Boland’s diagnosis.

Driving back to the city, I noticed that the pain in my thigh was no longer. Two hours later, I was playing squash.

Upon arriving home, I wrote to my email list that the cancer scare was a cancer scare, nothing more; that in fact I was back on the squash courts. Lots of congratulatory emails came back, though some a bit cynical. On Wall Street friend called my experience “the tumor rumor.” Another friend, a Catholic, said mine was a divine recovery; the Friday email sounded like I was in hospice and five days later a miraculous complete recovery; from hospice to squash court; Jesus must have played a role.

How did I feel about this rollercoaster ride? Terrific, from beginning to end. Terrific I had an early diagnosis, terrific that I could avail myself of modern medicine, terrific that I was not ill, terrific that I was able to play squash, terrific to have had an entertaining experience; or that’s how I chose to remember it.

Before the good news that there was nothing wrong, I wasn’t particularly stressed out by the dire possibilities. That might be a function of my general attitude and sharing my diagnosis with anyone who would listen. The sharing in effect had many others share my burden of an ominous ordeal which made moving forward, whichever the direction, relatively easy. When we have a problem and tell everyone about it, we ameliorate our anxiety and are better able to enjoy the moment.

The Way Of The Way 403

Wealth and social status are imaginary hierarchies. Those atop hierarchies are generally very happy with themselves. When they look at those below them, they are pleased as they see the admiring and respectful faces of those below. However, the laws of gravity disturb this otherwise mutually pleasing relationship. Invariably, those atop need to relieve themselves and their droppings are resented by those below. There is nothing imaginary about that.

Koan 70

“What we see everywhere but rarely notice is our selves.” — Masako Nishi

Hassidic perspective of our good fortune

A man once visited the holy Rebbe Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezeritch and said he had great difficulties applying the Talmudic saying that “A person is supposed to bless God for the bad just as he blesses Him for the good”. The Maggid told him to find the Maggid’s disciple Reb Zusha of Hanipoli and ask him. The man went and found Rabbi Zusha, who received him friendly and invited him to his home. When the guest came in, he saw how poor the family was, there was almost nothing to eat, they were beset with afflictions and illnesses. Nevertheless, Rabbi Zusha was always happy and cheerful. The guest was astonished at this picture. He said: “I went to the Holy Maggid to ask him how is it possible to bless God for the bad He sends us the same way as we bless Him for the good, and The Maggid told me only you can help me in this matter.” Rabbi Zusha said: “This is indeed a very interesting question. But why did our holy Rebbe send you to me? How would I know? He should have sent you to someone who has experienced suffering.”

The essence of happiness is gratitude, the realization that however dour our circumstances they could always be worse. We are truly blessed when we recognize and serve God, the ever-changing and eternal whole, as we in turn become one with God; thereby realizing our self-perceived relative good or bad fortune is perception, not reality.

Haiku 80

Life is a jigsaw puzzle.

We start out whole with the picture clear.

Yet, out of the box we break apart,

pieces and pieces, each unique.

Madly scurry the pieces to find their mates

until no piece remains

but the peace from being whole.

Frank Wilczek

“Complementarity: the concept that one single thing, when considered from different perspectives, can seem to have very different or even contradictory properties.”

Embracing complementarity is the essence of wisdom.

Insinkerator

One of my favorite gadgets is the Insinkerator. It sits beneath the sink and grinds down all but beef bones. I use it several times a day and each time it’s an experience. I think about the bacteria beneath the Insinkerator; how they will enjoy the rinds of blood oranges, watermelon remains and eggshells. I’m sure they know that my eating preferences are different than that of the people who lived in my house before me.

Likewise, I think about the bacteria below the toilet. They’ve got lots of shit to eat several times a day. Recently, I had a couple of stale dry cigars that I put down the toilet instead of tossing them in the garbage bin; thinking they’d be a refreshing treat for the bacteria. After flushing away the cigars, I imagined the bacteria greeting them with amazement; amazed at their uniform shape. Thinking the cigars a treat, the bacteria rushed to eat them; but were likely put off by the taste of the cigars and declared: “this tastes like shit.”

When we are sensitive to the experience of bacteria, feeding them via sink, toilet or other pathway makes for an engaging experience. Those who are not conscious of the bacteria’s experience are essentially asleep, mechanically going through the process of disposing food and excrement. Likewise, in other aspects of their lives they’re asleep.

When asleep, we are on automatic pilot and our mind easily controls us; we are its prisoners. Our mind convinces us that those who are awake are crazy because we can’t experience what they can. Our mind makes us fear being awake because that would mean we’re crazy. Well, those who are awake may be crazy, however they are the relatively happier and free.

Haiku 82

When

I am me

and you are you

and I am you

and you are me,

we are the everything.

The Way Of The Way 407

Perhaps the most important choice we make in life is between selfishness and happiness. Though selfishness is a choice and happiness is an outcome.

We cannot choose happiness but happiness is possible when we choose not to be selfish.

Uncomfortable unless Uncomfortable

I’m uncomfortable unless I’m uncomfortable.

High anxiety can be extremely debilitating. It can cause us to freeze or panic, not a good state of mind when we need make a decision.

Low levels of anxiety may be uncomfortable but can be beneficial. Low anxiety spurs our imagination to envision many potentially negative consequences that can result from our choices. As negative consequences generally unfold slowly and then suddenly, imagining these negative consequences allows us to see them and act accordingly before they fully unfold and it’s too late to do much about them.

With little anxiety, we are comfortable, tend towards laxity and not see dangerous outcomes even when they may be obvious.

Thus, I’m uncomfortable (unless feeling uncomfortable with low levels of anxiety) when I’m comfortable.

Exit-Essentialism

Exit-essentialism is a philosophy or attitude to life and death that focuses on exit strategies.

The universe has two constants. It is forever-changing and forever. Exit-essentialism in life is a micro/personal approach to the forever-changing. Exit-essentialism in death is a macro/philosophical view of our individual transition from bodily form to forever.

The difference between exit-essentialism in life and death is like the difference between micro and macro economics. Our lives are micro. Our death is macro. As in microeconomics, micro exit-essentialism in life is an approach to individual choices and changes that come our way. As in macroeconomics, macro exit-essentialism is a big picture approach, a top-down philosophy, that is the guiding light on our way through life. While seemingly different, the micro and macro are interdependent and complimentary.

In life, as Heraclitus informed us 2500 years ago, everything is forever-changing. Most changes we find imperceptible but some changes are significant; beneficial or detrimental. Awareness of the ever-changing nature of life allows us to experience the newness of everything. It is energizing.

As we make our way in life, micro exit-essentialism is the awareness that our choices and unexpected detrimental changes that put us in harm’s way. Exit-essentialism is imagining detrimental changes to our situations and ways to most safely exit these situations. As detrimental changes generally happen slowly and then seemingly suddenly, by imagining detrimental changes we can see them before they fully realize and make choices that keep us from the full brunt of harm’s way. As such, best to avoid situations where we cannot envision detrimental changes and exits to limit our losses.

Macro exit-essentialism is knowing our exit out of this bodily life. The exit is to the place from where we, our soul, came before we were born. A place about which no one has ever complained. The place where everything that is and will ever be is, the true-present. It is God, divine consciousness. It cannot be described other than by saying it is what it is whatever it is. When we go there, we are one with everything. Moreover, in knowing where we go when we no longer in bodily form, we know we are a temporary expression of everything as is everything else. We are always (before, during and after life) in this place but are distracted when we assume a seemingly independent bodily form and have animal consciousness.

Having the knowledge of macro exit-essentialism provides us a certain perspective on life. We are less distracted by everyday situations and experiences, taking them less seriously. We accept changes as they are a constant in the universe. We experience the newness of everything. We are energized. We find it hilarious that other people don’t know exit-essentialism and make fools of themselves when they take themselves too seriously. Our experience in life is less stressful and more wonderful. Macro exit-essentialism makes for a terrific life.

When we know and embrace micro and macro exit-essentialism, our lives are wonderful and we are comfortable taking risks that reward us in life.

Two Ways To Happiness

There are two paths to happiness, the long and the short way.

The long way is gratitude, optimism and freeing ourselves from our karmic prisons. Gratitude is being thankful for the circumstances in which we find ourselves, regardless of how dire, as we know that things could always be worse. However, it is often difficult to be grateful because our mind easily distracts us to selfishly focusing our attention on our plight and not the more overwhelming suffering of others. Optimism, especially during relatively difficult times, is a natural negative feedback loop as all things tend to regress to the mean; better times follow difficult times, sooner or later. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for us to be optimistic as many of us are prone to thinking in positive feedback loops, that difficult times will lead to even greater difficulties which makes us see the light at the end of the tunnel  as a train coming at us. Karma is thoughts we associate with the intentions, actions and the consequences of our actions in our past lifetimes. (Past lifetimes are the past days of our life as each day is a lifetime, not a day in a life.) Karma is seeing through the filter of our mind, not with our eyes. Thus, karma imprisons us from experiencing the present as it is. Fear of experiencing the present as it is, without the delusional comfort of collective and personal meanings karma assigns to things, makes escaping from our individual karmic prisons very difficult. Many years of meditation, a long process, can help us to happiness.

The short way to happiness is simple: love all others as we love ourselves, the Golden Rule. When we truly love all others as ourselves, we in turn feel everyone loves us; we feel one with everything; a calm, peaceful, joyful state of mind. We are grateful happy.

It might seem difficult to unconditionally love all others as at times some people treat us with loathe, not love. However, we still love them because we accept them, not judge them. Moreover, we are optimistic that if they don’t love us now, they’ll love us later. We feel badly for them because they simply don’t get it. They’re locked in their karmic prison. Or they might suffer from a mental disorder that precludes them from loving others. Or, simply, they are animals locked and have not yet realized their potential of divine consciousness. Hopefully, sooner or later, they will.

Animal and Divine Consciousness

Humans are a transitional species. We are born and socialized with animal consciousness and with the potential of realizing divine consciousness.

Animal consciousness is viewing ourselves as finite in time (birth to death) and space (bodily form). It is essentially dualistic as we perceive ourselves as apart and separate from all that is not ourselves. Implicitly, it is Darwinian, stressful, as each of us competes within our environment for our survival.

Divine consciousness is the realization that everything is one of infinite temporary manifestations of the universe; ever-changing, interdependent (hence, essentially one thing) and with no beginning or end. Divine consciousness is the realization of our harmonious connection to all there is.

Animal consciousness perceives life as imperfect with relative flaws in one thing or another. Divine consciousness realizes the universe is perfect and as we are one with the universe we realize our perfection and having nothing about which to complain. This is an essential element of happiness.

The Golden Rule applies to both animal and divine consciousness. In animal consciousness, those with the gold rule. In divine consciousness, we do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

In animal consciousness we experience our world with descriptions and stories, making “every thing” seem different from every other thing. The experience of divine consciousness is beyond words; it is what it is whatever it is.

With animal consciousness we view ourselves as the center of the universe. With divine consciousness light is the center which in effect means the center is everywhere. Divine consciousness is enlightenment.

Animal consciousness is about living, divine consciousness is about loving. The difference between living and loving is the difference between “I” and “O.” “I” is the self. The letter’s form implies hierarchy. With each of us a point on a vertical line, we perceive others as above or below us (the Great Chain of Being). It implies duality and competition. “O” is continuous, each of us a point connected together to form a circle. This is love, the connecting of independent points creating a whole; a circle with no beginning and no end. Though the circle may appear as a duality with spaces within and without, the duality is an illusion as the spaces are not in conflict; they are mutually dependent, one cannot exist without the other. That is, love is the realization that what seems like a duality is just an illusion.

Beyond happiness, realizing our individual divine consciousness is the penultimate, second to last,  purpose of life. Life’s ultimate purpose is the collective realization of divine consciousness.

II-WII-WII

IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS

II-WII-WII

Acronym: I Y Y.

Mantra: I why why! I why why?

Koan: I why (who am I)?

The Universe is the uni-verse (one verse): IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS.

“W” is “double U.” II-WII-WII = II-UU-II-UU-II.

Double Helix of the Universe: II-UU-II-UU-II. I am I, U are U, I and U are one.

II-UU.

The initial “I” is I as a finite and temporary being, finite in time (birth to death) and space (body); temporary, as I am not now who I was before now. The finite “I” is our self-identity; a duality, “I” and all that is not “I.” It is our finite consciousness as created by our senses and defined by descriptions and stories our mind creates. The second “I” is the infinite “I” that has no birth and no death; eternal, before the beginning of time. The “I” that is the Universe and its infinite unique and ever-changing manifestations of itself. I am who I am, both the finite and the infinite “I.” The “U” is “U” as in “Universe.” The initial “U” is the finite, temporary and that which is not “I.”  The second “U” is the Universe and its infinite unique and ever-changing manifestations. The finite “I” and finite “U” are discrete manifestations of the one infinite “I” which is also the infinite “U.” The finite and infinite are interdependent as one cannot exist without the other.

The Universe is a timeless void and it’s manifestations ever-changing in time. Finite consciousness experiences time as a duality, the present and the past. However, what we experience as the present is an illusion; that which is happening now is actually the present-passed. The present-passed is not different from the past. The true-present is the pre-sent, the universe before it is sent out as expressions of itself that we experience as now. The true-present is nothingness, empty and timeless. It is the time before time begins. Presence is the Universe’s present to us: divine consciousness, the experience of the true-present. Presence is awakening to the realization that we are both finite and infinite; one with the Universe before the Universe expresses itself as finite manifestations of which we are one. It is a calm and peaceful space, like the empty space between when we exhale and inhale. It cannot be compared to anything or described, for IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS.

“Terrific”

“Terrific.”

The play of life in three Acts

The word “terrific” in the 19th century meant terrible and has since transitioned into meaning wonderful. Likewise, the play “Terrific” begins as a tragedy and ends as a farce.

In Act 1, we are children, unadulterated by memories. We experience the present as it unfolds without preconceived notions; everything is new and unique. In Act 2, as adults, we no longer experience things as they are; but as we are. Our memories frame our experiences; comparing them to others that not real, as they exit only in our mind. In Act 3, we return to our unadulterated, childlike mind.

Act 1

Emergence of Self

Act 1 begins at birth; a happy time, a sad time. While the most joyous moment in a parent’s life, birth starts a tragedy for newborns as they enter the stage crying. Newborns feel the tragedy of it all; that before birth they were one with everything and upon their birth they they are finite in space; from oneness with everything to duality, the finite self and everything which is not the self. This is animal consciousness which is the basis for much of the conflict in the play of life.

After birth, we learn the ways of human life on Earth. We are socialized to perceive, think and behave in the ways of the socialization circles (family, religion, nationality, education, special interests, etc.) in which we are members. Thus ends Act 1, the transition from otherworldly, the time before birth and after death, to the human experience.

Act 2

Life Experience

In Act 2, each of us assumes various roles in the play. Roles include career, family, religion, personal relationships, social group identities, passtime interests, etc. Most of us take these roles seriously, take ourselves seriously and forget that these roles are simply roles in a play and not who we truly are. We are oblivious of who we are before birth and after death: one with the nameless infinite, God.

As we make our way in the play, our mind creates memories and stories that are the foundation of our identities and roles. The stories frame our experiences. We don’t experience things as they are but as our mind has defined them. This is karma. Karma often leads to live unhappy lives and precludes us from realizing our potential, divine consciousness.

While our lives are often difficult dramas, they are an entertaining farce to those in the audience viewing the play. The audience are the gods like those from Mount Olympus who Homer tells us in the “Odyssey” effuse the air with a deafening sound of laughter.

Act 3

The Transition

In Act 3, each actor is written out of the play’s script with their bodily death. However, Act 3 is the transition of our essential self, God, to a seat among the gods in the audience where we can enjoy the farce, the play “Terrific.”

The transition is the realization that life is a play; that we are not finite but one with everything; temporary, ever-changing and interdependent expressions of God. As we let go of our finite bodily form, we embody wisdom and compassion and realize life is terrific.

Epilogue

Most of us never come to realize during the play of life that we are just actors. We take ourselves and our roles seriously. We are oblivious as to whom we were before birth, one with everything, and that we will again be one with everything after bodily death. This makes our lives great dramas, but at the cost of much suffering.

Those of us who are enlightened actors know that life is a play and that we are gods with temporary human roles. For these enlightened actors, regardless of their various roles, life is terrific as they have a good laugh making their way through the play of life.

As to the audience of the gods, the actors on stage cannot see them in the dark theatre. The dark space is nothingness. But as from the audience come forth gods to act on the stage, it is from nothingness that everything springs.

When we see the world metaphorically, as above, that is the world we live in; as Gods.

IAWIA

I AM WHO I AM

Acronym: I Y (IA-WIA)

Why am I?  Because that is the nature of I. I is the 1 thing that is everything.

Mantra: I why?

A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. Mantras calm our mind to free us of random distracting thoughts as well as stories, meanings, explanations and justifications that accompany much of what we do in daily life. When calm and free, we have only a child’s answer to “I why?” or “why am I doing what I’m doing?:” “Because that’s what I am doing.” In other words, it is what it is whatever it is.

Koan: I why? Who am I?

A koan is riddle whose answer awakens us from the illusory nature of conventional thinking to realize the nature of reality. Who am I? The answer is not my name or other identifying characteristics. The true answer is that I am who I am; I can’t describe myself otherwise because I’m not the same person now as I was when I started describing myself. This answer acknowledges the ever-changing nature of the everything. Thus, when we truly know something, we know that it ultimately can only be described as it is what it is whatever it is. All other descriptions are approximations or illusionary.

Divine riddle: When Moses asks God who God is, God says: “I am who I am.” Why is God not more specific with a name or description?

God has no name and cannot be described as doing so would mean that God is one thing and not another. God is everything, as everything is a manifestation of God.

The Tao: I am who I am as “the Tao is ever nameless.”

“Though simple and subtle…As soon as rules were made, names were given. There are already many names. One must know when it is enough. Those who know when it is enough will not perish.” — Tao Te Ching, Chapter 32.

Names are identities and descriptions of things. Names are necessary for us to communicate. However, by defining parts of the universe as discrete things, names disguise the nature of the universe. “Every thing” is not a discrete thing but is interdependent as the universe is one thing that is expressed as infinite ever-changing manifestations. When we come to know the nature of the universe, we know we are the universe; the universe is eternal and we will never die as death is just a name of something which is temporary.

Self-realization: I am who I am. I am one of the gods.

I am the roles I play in the play of life. My roles are many, various and temporary. When I am eventually scripted out of the play, I join the gods in the audience watching the play which is who I am before entering the play.

Mindlessness Meditation

Meditation is a practice that puts us at twilight, the space between the states sleep and awake. It’s purpose is to bring us to a calm and restful place by disengaging us from the stimulation which our sensory organs and mind use to claim our attention. In this space we simply exist. Sometimes called “mindfulness meditation,” it is perhaps better termed “mindlessness meditation” as we are now free of identities and attachments of our mind’s construction.

While there are countless meditation techniques, one approach is three short daily meditations. In these meditations we sit still in a quiet place with our eyes closed, uninterrupted by our senses. We focus on our breathing for maybe 20 breaths without our mind disrupting us with thoughts. If interrupted, we start again until we reach 20. Breathing-in is energizing. Breathing-out is relaxing. The space between exhaling and inhaling is completely dark and silent, a void that our mind would prefer we avoid. This is the present.

The present is the “pre-sent,” the space before the universe expresses itself as manifestations that are sent out and received by our senses. In the present there is nothing and we are now one with nothing. Moreover, we realize that all our life experiences are not in the present but in the now. The now is when we initially experience the manifestations of an inherently nothingless universe. Hence, the now is not the present but the past as it is initially. As the past has no independent existence outside our mind, the past is an illusion. Hence, our life experiences as we know them are an illusion.

While meditating, as we are calm and restful, we can easily drift off to sleep. But to complete the meditation we need open our eyes and awaken. We are now reborn. Everything is new to us, as we’ve never seen it before (which we hadn’t as everything is unique from one moment to the next). Now, everything is unadulterated by our mind’s meanings, categories and generalizations and fresh to our senses which heretofore had been numbed by memories of past stimulations. In our rebirth, we slowly and gently separate from being one with nothingness (which is ultimately one with everything) and assume our finite bodily being. Soon after we engage with the new yet familiar world in which we find ourselves until our next meditation which is like all others and unique.

It is through mindlessness meditations we come to realize the universe has no beginning and no end; that it has infinite manifestations; that it is ever-changing, in constant transitions; that it cannot be described beyond that it is what it is whatever it is. Upon knowing this, we know we are the universe and as such we never die as death, like all else we experience, is an illusion.

The Way Of The Way 107

When our essential bodily needs (food, shelter, security and health) are met and our mind is calm and doesn’t distract or imprison us, we are free to experience it as it is, through our senses and soul.

The experience through our senses is, well, sensuous; the experience of being alive in the now as the universe is unfolding; heightened physical awareness; the uniqueness of each breath; the rhythm of our pulse; the waves of sound, light and air coming upon us; no duality between us and the experience; we’re connected with everything as all there is is is (the plural I, we).

There is only one soul which is the essence of everything. The soul is every-thing before it is something. The soul is nothingness; the space between exhale and inhale. In the space of nothingness we are one with everything.

The Enlightened Cells

We are all individual cells in one human body; nerve cells, heart cells, fat cells, skin cells, blood cells, etc. Each type of cell lives in a cluster of identical cells that function, behave and think alike.

The most unusual cells are the blood cells. Red blood cells don’t have a nucleus, can’t reproduce and have the flexibility to easily change their shape. Without a nucleus or mind, they are essentially selfless and embody compassion; their sole purpose is to serve other cells. They travel through the body, visiting all types of cells, bringing cells oxygen for sustenance and removing carbon dioxide which would otherwise kill them.

Through their travels, red blood cells recognize that there are many different types of cells, each having a different perspective of the body. While the nerve cells might be the smartest, the white blood cells the most combative, the stomach cells the toughest, the bone cells the hardest, etc.; the red blood cells, having the perspectives of other cells, are the wisest.

With wisdom and compassion, red blood cells are the enlightened cells. Maybe that’s what makes them the most colorful.

Rock-Paper-Scissors

Rock-paper-scissors is a game dating to antiquity. It is also a metaphor for the dynamic interrelationship between nature, civilization and technology.

In the game, each of two players declares themselves as either rock, paper or scissors by a show of a fist (rock), an open hand (paper) or the index and middle fingers apart (scissors). Paper wins vs rock (as paper can envelop rock); scissors wins vs paper (as scissors can cut paper); and rock wins vs scissors (as rock can destroy scissors).

Rocks are nature in rudimentary form. Paper, as it’s organic and manmade, represents civilization. Scissors are a simple form of technology.

A fist is a symbol of oneness, the fundamental nature of the universe. An open hand, like a handshake, represents openness and cooperation; essential in development of civilization. Fingers apart are fork-like, a useful tool that is also potentially a weapon.

Civilization, as in the advent of farming, dominates nature. Technology is often a force used in the destruction of civilization. Nature, as an asteroid or sun storm flare hitting Earth (see Carrington Event of 1859), can destroy technology (electric grid, GPS systems, etc.).

In an informal survey, I’ve found that those who pick rock, paper or scissors identify themselves as a knife, spoon and fork (see knife-fork-spoon) respectively.

Ten Commandments

First Commandment

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

The First Commandment tells us that we were once slaves who were freed through the workings of God. Knowing God is our savior, we are well-commanded not to follow the ways of other gods who presumably cannot provide us the way to freedom.

Before birth, we are one with everything and at peace. Upon birth, we perceive ourselves as apart and separate from everything that is not us, an overwhelming and often hostile world. Our mind serves us by protecting us from this world; making sense of it and integrating us into it. However, as we become dependent on our mind’s protection, our mind is no longer our servant but our master. Fear of the world is supplanted by fear of experiencing the world without our mind’s framework. It is then that we are prisoners of our mind. God, however, can free us from the prison of our mind.

Our mind is an mnemonic device. It organizes the world through memories of our intentions, actions and consequences of previous lives and through our socialization. (Our previous lives are not lives before the time of our birth but the days of our life before now, as each day is not a day in a life but a life in a day. That is, our lives end when we go to sleep and begin anew when we awaken.) This is called karma, the categorizations, meanings and stories our mind creates based on our past experiences that frame how we experience the world now. Karma is effectively a karmic prison as it limits and defines our experience, not allowing us to experience the world as it is.

Unlike the other Commandments, the First Commandment refers to the past, the time when we were slaves. Slavery represents our karma prison. When we unite with God, we can be freed from our karmic prison.

God is everything before it is what it is whatever it is. God is revealed as infinite and ever-changing manifestations. This realization unites us as one with God. As such, we realize that our mind through the illusionary karmic prison it created is what separated us from God. In union with God, we are free of the fear that kept us in our karmic prison. Upon our liberation, we experience the universe as it is; one thing, the present. The present is what it is whatever it is, beyond words and descriptions. The past is now passed and our mind has no past through which it can imprison us. Now we are free, at peace as we were before we were born.

Unlike God which is essentially everything and through whom we can be free, one with everything, other gods cannot free us from our karmic prison. Other gods are gods of things like the sun, water, earth, etc. They are illusionary gods as they are the gods of temporary manifestations of God.

Second Commandment

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;…”

The Second Commandment prohibits the making of artwork that is also worshiped; that is, idols.

Idol worship is holding sacred a tangible object and worshipping it as an incarnation of God. This is the antithesis of worshiping God as it negates the sacredness of all else. As everything is a manifestation of God, everything is sacred.

Idols are not solely objects worshiped as deities. Idols are things we hold sacred like prized possessions and celebrities who are “idolized.” More generally, idols are things we perceive as having an independent existence. For example, getting angry with a car that’s stalled is akin to idol worship as it presumes the car has an independent existence. Thus, idols give rise to an artificial duality, that which is an idol and all else that is not. As such, dualities repudiate God since God is one, everything. Hence, idol worship precludes us from being one with God.

Moreover, idols are a personal and/or collective designation. Thus, idols are a reflection of ourselves; that is, an idol is an I-doll. Ultimately, the prohibition against idol worship is a prohibition against taking ourselves too seriously.

Third Commandment

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,…”

When Moses met God in the desert, Moses asked God what is God’s name. God responded: “I am who I am.” God effectively self-describes as one who cannot be described. Any name or description of God would be a misuse as God is everything, not one finite thing that is unlike other things. God is what it is whatever it is.

Fourth Commandment

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

After creating the universe in six days, God rested on the seventh day. Undistracted by work, God sat and observed the beauty and wonder of creation as it unfolds in the play of life. God commands us to do likewise. In so doing, we and God are one.

Work is essentially what we do that we would otherwise not do but for the rewards we receive. Thus, work is a means to an ends. When we are at rest, the means and the ends are one. At rest, we are at peace, present and having no desire to be elsewhere or to do otherwise.

Disengaging ourselves from our everyday work is akin to meditation. In meditation, we commune with God in the present and realize the universe is what it is whatever it is, not as we’ve created it in our mind. This leads us to realize that we and the universe, the manifestation of God, are one.

Fifth Commandment

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Like Commandments Sixth through Ninth, the Fifth Commandment can be generalized as the Golden Rule, treat others as we wish to be treated. The Golden Rule is a common concept in all the major religions.

However, unlike Commandments Sixth through Ninth, the Fifth Commandment is less of a Commandment and more of a contract God offers us: honor your parents and you will be rewarded with a long life. The reward is generally assured as it’s founded on behavior modification. We honor our parents by respectively including them in our lives and providing for them in their time of need, as they age or can no longer work. Our care allows them to live longer than they would otherwise. Seeing how we treat our parents, our children are “imprinted” to treat us likewise which increases the likelihood we will live longer than otherwise.

Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Commandments

Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder.”

Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”

Eighth Commandment: “You shall not steal.”

Ninth Commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

The Sixth – Ninth Commandments are straightforward: we are commanded not to murder, engage sexually with someone who is married, steal or lie. These Commandments can be generally described as the Golden Rule: treat others as we wish to be treated.

The purpose of the Golden Rule Commandments is to foster peaceful interpersonal and community relationships. Moreover, living by the Golden Rule is a testament to our realization of divine consciousness.

Divine consciousness is the realization that every thing is not a thing unto itself but one of infinite temporary manifestations of God; ever-changing, interdependent (hence, essentially one thing); with no beginning or end. As we are not solely our personal finite self but part and one with one thing, God, we treat every thing as we wish to be treated as every thing is us.

The Ninth Commandment, the prohibition of lying, also reveals a certain truth: we cannot be one with God if we are not one with ourselves; that is, if we have no integrity. Lying precludes integrity as when we lie we are two people, one who lies and another who knows the truth.

Tenth Commandment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Tenth Commandment is that we not desire what we don’t have.

Generally, our needs (food, shelter, security and health) can be simply satisfied but our desires not; as the more we feed our desires the hungrier they get. When we’re distracted by our desires, we are not grateful for what we have. However, when we are grateful we are great-full; that is, we are full of the great feeling that God has blessed us. Gratitude is integral to realizing our purpose in life: to have a wonderful and happy life, realize our potential and help others likewise. When we are grateful for all God has provided us, our gratitude is an acknowledgement of God who is appreciative and treats us accordingly.

Epilogue 

The First Commandment is that through our union with God we can be free from the prison of our mind.

The Second Commandment is that we don’t take material things or ourselves too seriously.

The Third Commandment is that we realize everything, including us, is God; that God is unknowable and beyond description.

The Fourth Commandment is that we enjoy the beauty and wonder of creation as God.

The Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Commandments are that we treat others as we treat ourselves because we and others are one.

The Tenth Commandment is that we are grateful to God for the wonderful life we’ve been given.

The Ten Commandments were given by God to the “chosen people.” The “chosen” are those who journey through life on the way of the light. They are lighthearted, have interesting insights into the nature of mind and ultimately are one with the light: enlightened.

Albert Einstein

“A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the “Universe.” He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation [enlightenment] from this bondage [illusion] is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.”

“It seems to me as though our ideas of ourselves, including “space and time” (known more modernly as a single entity space-time, which Einstein was a pioneer in discovering), are entirely psychological constructs, “limitations” of our common state of “consciousness,” and these thoughts and ideas in our common state of consciousness is what generally creates the “illusion” of “separateness.” We can only perceive separateness if there is a space in which there is something here and another thing there, in space.

Our experience of being separate is an illusion of consciousness, just as much as space-time is an illusion of consciousness. But our consciousness itself is ultimately an inseparable “part of the whole” that we call the “Universe,” the One, the Absolute, Reality, Nature, or what many refer to as God. Our brains and bodies, and consequently our minds and consciousness, emerge from out of Nature, from the Universe, while still being absolutely a part of that Nature and Universe. We are not separate from Nature looking out onto Nature, but we are Nature looking at itself.

Our minds construct the perception of reality such that we appear separate from all that is around us, independent, isolated, as siloed islands in the ocean of the world. We have an incredibly strong subject-object duality in the everyday nature of our perceptions, such that “I” am perceived as here, and everything “else” is out there separate from me. This often makes us feel alone, weak, fragile, broken, temporary, mortal, and thus in “bondage.” We are prisoners of our own perceptions, of these “illusions,” of our own typical state of consciousness which perceives the world in this way.

Through “liberation,” which religions call by many different names, we free ourselves from this limited nature of our perceptions, of our consciousness, to see the greater whole directly. The inquisitive, thinking, intellectual, rational, thoughtful, conceptual, inner chatterbox, monkey mind, of our brains can become quiet in certain times of spiritual reflection, contemplation, meditation, walks in nature, extreme activities, near death experiences, etc. Our consciousness actually shifts to a different mode of perception, like in sleep or in dreams, where the “I” falls away, the ego is dislodged, the psychological self seems to dissolve, and we perceive reality much differently. It can seem like a kind of death (death of ego-self), but it is also a liberating realization that we are not fundamentally this ego construction, and all that goes along with it.

It seems to be a much more direct, intimate, personal, immediate, primary perception, devoid of thoughts, concepts, ideas, and even images that typically pervade our conscious mind. It is a direct knowing of awareness itself, which has no center, no distinct sense of “I,” but rather sees the wholeness and interconnected nature of reality, and this essentially and fundamentally includes one’s own awareness and consciousness. We are freed from the bondage of our egoic thoughts, of our typical selfish nature or “natural man,” and we can perceive the One indivisible nature of reality more directly. We have “overcome” our ego-self, our ego mind, our “separate” perception.

And we realize we are that One, we are a manifestation of This, an emanation of This, and we have never been separate from This, we only thought we were, in our mind. Our mind often makes it seem like we are separate from it (which is the illusion), but how could we be? We are fundamentally the One, but in order to perceive the One we must become separate from it, to divide ourselves from it, so that we can turn around and witness it. An eye cannot see itself, but must use a mirror. Similarly, the One cannot perceive its Self, except by dividing its Self, so that its parts can see the other parts. But the error comes in thinking that we are witnessing something separate, apart, and isolated. We are not, but we are witnessing our own Self, our own true Nature, the Source from which we’ve come, of which we are, and which we will always be. When we look out onto Nature, we are looking in a mirror. We are looking at our Self. We are looking at the One which we are.

The “overcoming” of our typical state of consciousness to perceive the One Great Whole of the universe in this way is the objective of perennial ancient wisdom found at the core and origin of the world’s major religions, and it is that core that is “true religion.” It is what gives us “inner peace,” to know we are not separate, “limited,” apart from this Universe, but eternally at-One with it, in It, as It. This is “liberation,” enlightenment, salvation, redemption, transcendence, freedom, resurrection, rebirth, peace, and rest. Christians seeking salvation, seeking to end the separation of the Fall and reunite again with God, through realizing at-one-ment in Christ, even realizing Christ in themselves as at-one in the Father, are seeking the same thing as Buddhists in the awakening or enlightenment of their consciousness to their eternal Buddha-nature or true essence or original nature, or as Hindus in the moksha or liberation/freedom of knowing their soul or Atman is One and the same in Brahman, the Ultimate Reality of the universe.

These are all just a diverse array of different symbols pointing at the same One Great Whole of Reality, and how we may experience This. Every religion and spiritual tradition on Earth has their own set of symbols, and this includes science. We can appreciate the wide diversity and beautiful uniqueness of each point of view, while also recognizing that underneath their apparent differences they are ultimately pointing at the same Ultimate Reality, Nature, the One, the Absolute, the Universe, the Transcendent, the Eternal, the Source, what theists call “God.” Just as we can love all the diverse and different and apparently separate and beautiful individuals, beings, life forms, and infinite array of creation all around us, while realizing that there is a much deeper and more fundamental unity, oneness, nonduality, and infinite indivisible eternal Love that keeps it all together, interconnected, interexchange, united, and as One, forever and always.

For all those apparent separate things out there are not separate from you at all, but they are You! Coming to this profound realization directly, in our own consciousness, is a very much “attainable” Peace and Rest in our lives.” — Bryce Haymond

 

While Einstein is considered genius incarnate for his discoveries related to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, much of his later work on the unified field theory or the Theory of Everything was never successfully proven. However, Einstein transitioned from physics to metaphysics; realizing the nature of consciousness and enlightenment, matters that cannot be subject to proof as they are an experience.

The Path To Liberation

The Buddhist path to liberation refers to enlightenment. Liberation is liberation from the personal mind.

There is only one mind, the universal mind, the mind of God. The universe is the manifestation of the universal mind in the now. Dwelling in our finite body (which seems apart and separate from the universe) is a personal mind that is connected to the universal mind. However, we identify with our personal mind and are mostly oblivious to the universal mind. The path of liberation is realising our connection to the universal mind.

The personal mind buffers us from directly experiencing the now. In other words, we experience the now not as it truly is but as a function of our personal mind. The personal mind defines, describes and compares; transforming the now, which is a flow, into a static experience. The now we experience with our personal mind is illusionary, empty of reality. However, we embrace our personal mind for we fear losing our identities and in turn being alone, not knowing who we are and where we are.

The personal mind is grounded in memories. The memories are stories we create based on our intentions, actions and their consequences in previous lives. (Previous lives are previous days of our life.) These illusionary stories frame, define and describe the now. These stories are our karma.

By not allowing us to experience the now directly, our karma essentially holds us in a karmic prison. Liberation is liberation from our karmic prison.

Once liberated, we can experience the now as it is and in so doing we become one with the now, one with everything, eternal. There are no words to describe or compare this experience. All that can be said is that it is what it is whatever it is.

The path to liberation is how we escape the karmic prison of our mind.

Our escape is difficult, blocked by fears created by our personal mind. To escape, we need to quiet our mind until it falls asleep. Then, we can sneak passed it to liberation. Meditation puts our mind to sleep. When our mind is asleep via meditation, we transition from our personal mindlessness to universal mindfulness as our personal mind merges with the universal mind.

Beyond meditation, we can renounce our personal mind. This is done by surrendering to the reality that we know nothing and that every-thing our personal mind tells us is not real, just illusions. Then, our curiosity is aroused; what am I, who am I, why am I? To answer these questions, we observe the universe with our eyes; not with our personal mind. We know we are experiencing the universe with our eyes when every-thing is unique, an experience like no other; nothing can be described, nothing can be compared. All we can say is WOW, as we feel connected to and love every-thing and everything. (Mouthing the word “wow” is like mouthing a kiss.) With our eyes open, we can see the light and come to know that we and the light are one. Now the path is clear. We are the path, the way of way (WOW).

This is the path of the Buddha. A path guided by the light, not by a guru who at best can only reflect the light.

Preface

IAWIA, the acronym for “I am who I am.” Pronounced: “I why?”

IIWIIWII, the acronym for “It is what it is whatever it is.” Pronounced: “I why why?”

Why do I exist? Why am I here? Ultimately, who am I?

 

There is only I and there is no why.

I am who I am and it is what it is whatever it is.

Whoever knows eye and I are one does not suffer death.

 

The universe is a glass of sparkling water.

Each of us a bubble that seems to come out of nowhere,

takes a unique journey to the top of the glass

and then seems to disappear.

We don’t disappear.

We become one with everything

as we are before we appear as bubbles.

 

My name is Victor Teicher and this is a book about the nature of consciousness.

Many of the observations herein are based on Kotodama; the interconnectedness of language, spiritual matters and the material world; wherein, broadly, the sounds, meanings and etymologies of words hold mystical revelations and affect the material world. For example:

Teicher is a German name. In German, “teich” means pond; Teicher, someone who ponders. That’s what I do; ponder reflections from the universal mind which is a reflecting  pond.

In English, a digraph (two letters together that are pronounced as only one of the letters) made of two vowels is pronounced as the first vowel with the second vowel silent. Thus, Teicher would be pronounced as “teacher.” Teaching, sharing these reflections, is the purpose of this blook.

Alternatively, in German (wherein the second vowel of the digraph is pronounced), Teicher is pronounced like the Japanese word “taisha.” In Japan, Taisha is the ancient shrine where all the gods meet annually. I am, through this book, a forum for the gods.

Finally, the etymology of  “Victor” is “conqueror.” The purpose of this blog is to conquer the self (our personal identity) which imprisons the soul, precluding us from experiencing the world through the universal mind (the mind of the soul). The soul is every-thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is and before time begins.

Moreover, synchronicity has it that in numerology the name “Victor Teicher” is “11” which is a master number. Those whose name is a master number (estimated to be around 1% of the population) are thought to represent spiritual enlightenment, heightened intuition, and a strong connection to the universe or higher power. They are idealistic and have a special spiritual mission or purpose in life to make a difference in this world. This book is the realization of my mission.

Yet, I claim no ownership of the chains of words and thoughts in this book as I am merely a conduit for the author who is us. Ultimately, hopefully, this book reveals there is nothing new under the sun; all ways always bring us to the here and now which is forever-new and never-changing, eternal.

Ten Men And The Elephant

The ten men and the elephant is a parable in many variations from the Indian subcontinent, dating back more than 2,500 years.

In a small village in India there were ten men who had heard of but had never seen the greatest animal in the jungle, the elephant. Determined to see an elephant, they hired a guide to lead them to one. After several days of trekking in the jungle, the guide saw an elephant and called forth the ten men. The men approached the elephant and in their excitement each touched a different part of the it. The man who touched its tail said the elephant was like a snake. The man who touched the elephant’s leg said the elephant was like a tree trunk. The man who touched the elephant’s tusk said it was like a seashell. Each of the ten men described the elephant very differently. Soon the ten men, each insisting that their view of the elephant was right, started to argue and eventually came to blows.

Clearly, the ten men were blind and didn’t know it. As to the elephant, clearly it is big; bigger than one blind man can imagine it in the context of his pervious experiences. Moreover, the elephant is like the universe itself; having so many facets, it is beyond description; it is what it is whatever it is.

The moral of this parable is that (1) as our individual perspectives are limited, we cannot come to know the nature of things. (2) When we are certain of the infallibility of our perceptions, we are blind and don’t know it. (3) Things appear quite different up close (as when we are within) than from a distance (when we are without). (4) Our understanding of things is limited when we understand things in the context of our memories of other things. (5) Taking our perceptions too seriously, we make fools of ourselves and at times come to strife. (6) Yet, the audience for this story, the Gods in the form of children, find it funny.

The Way Of The Way, Heaven And Hell

Heaven is above and hell is below.

Our lives are a journey in hell or heaven; depending on who we are, the temporary self or the eternal soul.

Our self engages us with never-ending needs (food, shelter, security and health) and desires (that which we think we need but otherwise don’t) for which we can realize but temporary satisfactions and happiness. This is the endless cycle of hell; where happiness is but temporary, leading us to search for more temporary happiness. We search here, there and everywhere. The more we look, the less we see. Eventually, we come upon a rabbit hole into which we and and others like us descend. It is a lightless place where our eyes cannot see. What we think we see are individual and collective illusions of our self’s creation; stories, descriptions and generalizations to which we react as if they are real. As the illusions are not real, we keep searching; searching for the duration of our lives. This is the journey in hell.

Those of us who have no needs or desires are grateful. Gratitude brings us sustained happiness; a calm state devoid of the self’s distractions and illusions. We are in the pre-sent, the time before time begins and before everything is what it is whatever it is in the now. Happy, we don’t search the Earth for temporary satisfactions. Then, we can look up and see the sun revealing our world and trillions of stars revealing trillions upon trillions of other worlds; the endless, infinite universe. We realize how infinitesimally small, meaningless and insignificant we are in the scheme of things; that taking our illusions, our selves, seriously is silly and laughable. We realize we are not independent entities in the universe; we are the soul, the universe before it expresses itself. As the light of the sun and stars enter our eyes, we realize we are the light; that what we see is who we are; that I am who I am and the universe is what it is whatever it is. This is enlightenment. This is the journey in heaven.

Happy Birthday

Every night at sleep-time we die. Every morning upon awakening we are born. Each day is not a day in a life, it is a life in a day. Thus, we’ve lived thousands of lives before our reincarnation today upon awakening.

Before sleep-death, we acknowledge each other with “good evening;” that is, “good even-ing” for in sleep-death everyone (the smart, the stupid, the rich, the poor) is even, equal.

In sleep-death, our soul leaves our body and merges with the universal soul, which in some traditions is called God. When the soul returns to our body, we are born.

Upon awakening, we greet each other and ourselves with “good morning;” that is, “good mourning,” have a good time mourning the people you were in past lifetimes (yesterday and all days now passed) by remembering them in the light of wisdom and compassion; but, don’t identify their life experiences as your own.

Upon awakening and before we assume the roles and circumstances of the person we were yesterday,  we recite out loud the Mourning Prayer. The Mourning Prayer acknowledges God’s creation, the universe, and expresses our gratitude for the life and consciousness we have been given which allows us to be one with God. Moreover, we declare that we are free from karma (our intentions, actions and consequences in past lifetimes (days of our life)) and look forward to realizing our purpose in life: to have a wonderful experience, realize our potential of divine consciousness and help others likewise.

 

Mourning Prayer

Oh eternal universe

Oh endless universe

Oh ever-changing universe

Oh timeless universe

Oh universe of infinite finite things.

Thank you for granting me today a role in the play of life.

The people I’ve been and the roles I’ve played in days passed,

my prior lives,

are illusions in the seemingly real form of memories.

Now, I am who I am

and every thing is what it is whatever it is.

Regardless of circumstances,

I am grateful for however my life unfolds today,

hopeful to realize divine consciousness before I’m scripted out of the play,

happy helping others awaken to their good fortune

and laughing at my efforts to realize that which is always here.

Shanti Shanti Shanti

 

We recite the mourning prayer aloud, again and again and again, until we feel it and truly awaken. Then, hopefully, we won’t forget who we are as we make our way through this day of life with the peace that comes from not taking our self too seriously; as we know that our self, which will die in the even-ing when our soul departs, is not who we are.

At day’s end, it is time for the Even-ing Prayer before our sleep-death.

 

Even-ing Prayer

Oh eternal universe

oh ever-changing universe

oh timeless universe

oh endless universe.

Thank God for my  role in the universe

and for now,

sleep-death,

when my soul joins God

which is what every-thing is before it is the universe.

Shanti Shanti Shanti

 

As few remember that every day is our birthday, we should remind whomever we meet with the greeting: “Happy birthday.” Whether they recognize today as their birthday or not, they will undoubtedly have a laugh. What better gift can we give someone on their birthday?

My Awakening

When I was 16, living in Brooklyn with my parents, one summer night I drove to Brighton Beach and sat on the rocks along the shore. Reflections from the moon danced on the water, the ocean breathed in the surf and breathed out a roar. The night sky was a black blanket with pinholes to unknowable worlds on its other side. Lights and sounds vibrating the air, every-thing teeming with aliveness; unique, unlike anything experienced before.

I wondered why the ocean, expressing itself with motion and sound, was not considered as alive as are plants and animals. What did it mean to be alive? The “alive” classification made little sense. Classifications, descriptions and thoughts generally felt artificial, man-made; helpful for organizing and communicating, but otherwise empty of aliveness.

Who am I in all this?

The sounds, the lights, the ever-changing shapes unfolding from nothing, the ocean smells; overwhelmingly beautiful, yet eerie as in the presence of a great spirit. Then, the infinite number of finite things were no longer finite, but manifestations of one infinite thing. I was infinitesimal before the infinite, until I realized I was the infinite.

This was a religious experience, but not connected to an organized religion. It was initially animism and then pantheism. This was my awakening and realization of our immortality.

Duality

Duality, duality; within and without.

Duality within is when we have conflicting minds. For example, one mind tells us to go out and have fun, while another mind tells us to do homework. This happens when we don’t have integrity.

Duality without is when we perceive our self as apart from all that is not our self.

Dualities within and without are the cause of much of the stresses and conflicts in our lives.

Duality without begins at birth and ends when the our mind’s self-perception of separateness is vanquished; when our self is confined to its purpose of providing us and those for whom we are responsible with food, shelter, security and health.

At birth, we are separated from having been eternally one with everything in the womb to being temporary; finite in time (birth to death) and space (our physical form). Being one with everything before our birth must be idyllic as no one has ever complained about it. However, upon birth,  rudimentary complaining begins: crying. Upon our birth, we are no longer one with everything and now begin to suffer the stresses and conflicts between us and that which is not us. Moreover, duality distracts us from our purpose in life: to have a wonderful go of it, realize divine consciousness and help others likewise.

To dispel duality without, we need to know who we are.

We have two principle identities, the role and the soul. The role is whichever role we play in the now, the world as it unfolds. We play many roles; family member, professional, personal interests, etc.. The roles are temporary, ever-changing. The roles presume the existence of duality, our role at the moment vis-à-vis the roles of others who are not us. When our identity is our roles, we are forever imprisoned by duality.

Unlike the role of which there are many, the soul is the but one; sole. It is the present, the pre-sent; what everything is before it is; before time begins, before the now. The soul is eternal, forever unchanging. The now is the manifestation of the soul. As the soul is one, when our identity is the soul we are one with everything and dispense with duality without. We are at peace.

Consciousness

Consciousness is a double helix, a ladder that takes us from finite-lived sentient beings on Earth to eternal being in the heavens.

The first rung on the ladder is animal consciousness, awareness of oneself as an entity apart and separate from that which is not oneself. This duality has the self as its center and all else relatively close or far from the center, but separate from the center. It is sustained when one identifies with affinity groups, as groups also see themselves as separate from other non-group members.

The second rung is self-consciousness, awareness of one’s awareness; awareness that one’s perceptions are not necessarily reality, but solely our mind’s perceptions. Self-consciousness is unsettling as we feel uncertain about our perceptions in light of the perceptions of others, especially group perceptions for which we are ridiculed if we question.

Above self-consciousness, the third rung, is awakening consciousness, the realization that the generalizations, meanings and stories our mind and others have created are empty illusions that frame and limit how we experience the now. Upon awakening, we are freed from the prison of these illusions which have us experience things not as they are but as our self and the selves of others are.

On the forth rung, having dispensed with illusions, one synthesizes a rainbow of views into white light that reveals the nature of things. This is wisdom consciousness.

With the clarity of white light, we realize that what we see everywhere is who we are. Thus, we treat all that heretofore we saw as other than ourselves as we treat ourselves, presumably with kindness and compassion. This is compassion consciousness, the fifth rung.

On the sixth rung of consciousness we enter the clouds, mystical consciousness. Here we realize that every-thing is nothing before it is what it is whatever it is and that the nothing is eternal, endless, timeless and forever changing in its manifestations as things. The nothing cannot be named; for if it is this, it is not that; what it is is what is beneath the surface of everything. The nothing is the now-thing; experiencing the now which is temporary manifestations of the nothing. However, we know we are conscious of the now-thing only after it is no longer; our experience of the now-thing is just memories; thinking otherwise is also an illusion. Those who speak of the nothing do not know it because by its nature it cannot be named or described; those who know do not speak. (Lao Tzu, paraphrased)

The seventh rung brings us to the heavens, above the clouds; ultimate consciousness, enlightenment. Now, all there is, including us, is light. Our consciousness is awareness that we are is one of infinite temporary manifestations of the nothing that cannot be named, one with all its manifestations and, essentially, one with the nothing; eternal.

The Now

The now is eternal.

The now is ever-changing.

The now is all there is.

 

As every-thing is everything,

the now is one thing, the now.

 

As every-thing in the now is unique,

ever-changing forms and colors,

the now is overwhelming.

 

The now does not know the past

as the past does not exist.

Memories of the past are an illusion.

Yet, the past informs and defines the now,

allowing us to survive in the overwhelming now.

 

The past anchors us in the sea of the now.

Letting go the anchor,

the past is passed,

leaving us adrift at sea.

Our only refuge is the present, the pre-sent,

where every-thing is before it is in the now,

before time exists.

 

In the calmness of the pre-sent

the now no longer overwhelms

as we and the now are one.

Paradox 12

Nothing is perfect, but no thing is perfect.

Nothing contains no thing to like or dislike,

describe or think about.

As there is no thing to complain about, nothing is perfect.

No thing is perfect as every thing is but temporary, ever-changing;

perhaps seemingly perfect momentarily, but not eternally perfect.

The Way Of The Way 321

No thing in the world is perfect as there is always some thing about every thing about which someone complains.

Complaining presumes a duality between us and the thing about which we are complaining. That is, duality is the foundation of complaining.

However, there are two things that must be perfect as about them no one ever complains: the universe and nothing.

Nothing is what every thing is before it is what it is whatever it is and before time begins. The universe is the infinite and ever-changing manifestations of the nothing in the now. Nothing and the universe are one thing, the everything; mutually dependent, like two side of the same coin. As one thing, the everything, they dispense with duality.

Those who realize every thing is one thing, never complain. They too are be perfect.

Paradox 13

As every thing is unique, no thing is weird; but our mind is weird, as it sees things as normal or weird.

Post Card, 1910

“Don’t worry about the future,

the present is all thou hast;

the future will soon be present,

and the present will soon be past.”

Family post card sent from Kansas to Tennessee, 1910. Courtesy of Kate Bowers.

Homespun advice from the farm belt; reminiscent of Buddhist teachings, long before they were popularized in America.

Psilocybin Mushrooms’ Depression Magic

Psilocybin mushrooms have been long and widely used, extensively studied and identified as having the highest success rate relative to other medicines and treatments for depression. How psilocybin scientifically works this magic is unclear, but below is a metaphoric explanation.

In our everyday life, we view the world exclusively through the light that informs our eyes. The light is interpreted by our mind which in turn creates stories and generalizations we accept as reality. That reality affects how we feel; happy, sad or a multitude of other ways.

Light is roughly 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum. The spectrum otherwise consists of various wavelengths of energy; gamma rays, X-Rays, microwaves, radio waves, infrared waves, etc.

The psilocybin journey is a journey along the electromagnetic spectrum. The journey is hallucinogenic; in effect, we see things that do not otherwise exist as they are not visible to our light-receptive eyes. However, these things do exist, only revealed by wavelengths outside the visible light spectrum.

Viewed from outside the light spectrum, every-thing we see is unlike anything we have heretofore seen; energizing, engaging, beautiful. Everything is alive.

It is then we come to realize our mind heretofore saw the world through a tiny pinhole in the electromagnetic spectrum. Clearly, there are infinite views and interpretations that are equally valid to those we had previously unquestionably held; much of what we heretofore had taken seriously is now funny; hence, it’s silly to take our self too seriously. This is wisdom.

Realizing there are infinite views and mind interpretations of every-thing, a question arises: “Who am I?” As we know we can be perceived in infinite ways, we ultimately realize we must be one with everything and every-thing is an ever-changing manifestation of that which is beyond our understanding, the soul. As one with everything, we treat that which heretofore we viewed as other than ourselves as we treat ourselves. This is compassion.

After the psilocybin journey, we are not whomever we were before. Now, our reaction to what we see through the view of the light spectrum is like our reaction had been when viewing the world for he first time through other electromagnetic wavelengths; things are energizing, engaging, beautiful and alive. We are now free from solely experiencing life in the context of our earlier mind’s interpretations, stories and generalizations. We are free of thinking that everything is either us or not us.

An effective psilocybin journey frees the depressed from their pre-journey view of reality. Enlightened to the nature of reality, one is beyond temporal selfish feelings. With wisdom and compassion, one now has a deep appreciation for life. Gratitude is a key to happiness. One can’t be depressed when they’re happy.

Haiku 69

Under the sun

Earth with an infinite number of things.

In the night sky

an endless universe, one thing.

The Way Of The Way 324

Each of us is the soul covered by a self.

Some of us realize we are the soul and some identify with a self.

Both the soul and self express themselves emotionally.

The soul is expressed as unconditional eternal love.

Alternatively, a self is versatile and appears as many emotional expressions that often change; anger, joy, sadness, hate, fear, surprise, envy, etc.

While soul can only appear as love, the self can appear in many different emotions, including love. When a self is expressing love, it is actually masquerading as the soul. It does this in an effort to gain something from someone to whom their love is expressed.

As they love all, those who realize they are soul often can’t distinguish between those who are the soul and those who are masquerading as the soul; as it’s often difficult to tell whether someone is full of light or full of shit, unless one is full of shit.

The Way Of The Way 324

Unconditional love is how the soul expresses itself. When we recognize that we are the soul, we unconditionally love all others, regardless of whether our self likes them, and we feel all others love us, regardless of how their self feels about us.

With unconditional love, we don’t see others as a self living to satisfy selfish desires. We only see their soul of which they may or may not be aware is their eternal essence.

As the love we emit reverts to us (in our feeling everyone loves us) and then is emitted again, we feel eternally connected with the universe; one with everything. That’s unconditional love.

The Way Of The Way 326

Each of us is a self that covers the soul.

Like a shoe, the self is the visible surface atop the sole.

However shiny and polished, a shoe is useless without a sole

as we can’t self-actualize without the soul.

The Way Of The Way 327

Looking at the sky, every day

the sun is always and never the same,

as we are always and never the same.

 

Haiku 46

Big buddha statue sits in silent meditation.

Tears of bird droppings encrusted on his cheeks.

Some sit at his feet with offerings and prayers

while boy Buddha laughs, swimming in the river.

Ikkyu 1

“Having no destination, I am never lost.”

Introduction

Before and after the now, the sole thing that is is the soul, the everything. In the now, every thing is the everything.

Upon our manifestation in bodily form, we assume a temporary self which disappears when our body is no longer.

As every thing is a manifestation of the soul, the soul is what connects every thing as one thing, the everything. This connection is called love.

Unlike the soul, the self views itself as apart and separate from every thing that it perceives as not its self. The self connects with every thing with ever-changing emotions like joy, hate, love, anger, indifference, envy, etc.

Our experience of life is a function of how we connect, through the soul or our self.

In a world inherently hostile to the self-sustainment of our bodily form, we need the self to survive. When we do so, we experience life with the emotions of our self. However, when we are not oblivious we are eternally the soul, we can return from the emotional rollercoaster of our self to the eternal love that is the soul; where there is peace beyond words and every thing is absolutely beautiful. That is the purpose of this blook, to guide us to the realization we are the soul.

The Way Of The Way 331

Everything happens all at once but in different places or over time in the same place.

ChatGPT responds:

The statement you’ve made touches on some fundamental ideas related to the nature of time and space in physics and philosophy. Let’s break down its implications:

  1. Simultaneity and Relativity: The idea that “everything happens all at once but in different places” is somewhat related to the concept of simultaneity in the theory of relativity. In Einstein’s theory of special relativity, events that are simultaneous in one frame of reference may not be simultaneous in another. This suggests that the notion of “now” is relative and depends on your perspective or frame of reference.
  2. Space-Time: In the theory of general relativity, space and time are intertwined in what is known as space-time. Events in the universe are described as occurring at specific points in space-time. This implies that everything that has ever happened or will happen is already “located” in space-time, and events occur at different points within this continuum.
  3. Change and Persistence: On the other hand, the idea that things happen “over time in the same place” highlights the concept of change and persistence. In our everyday experience, we perceive events unfolding sequentially, and we see objects enduring through time. This concept aligns with the common-sense notion of time as a linear progression.
  4. Philosophical Considerations: Philosophically, your statement raises questions about the nature of time, causality, and the relationship between the past, present, and future. It invites contemplation on whether the past, present, and future exist simultaneously in some sense or whether they are purely sequential.

In summary, your statement touches on the complex and often paradoxical nature of time and space. It highlights the interplay between different perspectives, such as the relative nature of simultaneity and the idea of events existing within space-time, while also acknowledging our everyday experience of time as a linear progression. These ideas have fascinated physicists and philosophers for centuries, and they continue to be subjects of exploration and debate.

The Way Of The Way 332

We are a like a boat making its way

sometimes turning port, sometimes starboard.*

The port is manmade.

Star-board is the universe.

The port is the self.

Star-board is the soul.

The self and the soul are complementary,

each guiding our way,

as solely turning port or star-board would have us in circles.

 

*Looking forward, the left side of a boat is the “port” side and the right the “starboard” side. The port side is from where people come on board and leave the boat, when the boat ports. The etymology of “starboard” is “steer” board, as the steering mechanism, the rudder, of a boat is generally on the right side.

Alternatively, though not cited by etymology sources, when ships sailed from England to the far east, the left side of the boat provided a view of the coastline where a boat could port; while on the right side was the vast board-flat ocean where at night only the stars, moon and their reflections could be seen. Hence, star-board; a flat surface with stars. This suggests an etymology for POSH. On voyages to and from the far east, the preferred cabins were from where the changing coastline could be seen, port side on the way from England and starboard side on the way back, Port Out Starboard Home.

The above, wherein the port is the self and starboard is the soul and the self-side view is more valued than the soul-side, implies that the everchanging self is more engaging than the eternal soul.

The Way Of The Way 333

The self and the soul have a symmetrical relationship, laughing at each other.

As the self cannot see the soul, the self laughs at those who identify with the soul; thinking they are fools.

As the soul sees people taking seriously the illusions created by the self, the soul laughs.

But, as the self is temporary and the soul eternal, the soul has the last laugh.

Tao Te Ching — Verse 45

True perfection seems imperfect,

yet it is perfectly itself.

True fullness seems empty,

yet it is fully present.

 

True straightness seems crooked.

True wisdom seems foolish.

True art seems artless.

 

The Master allows things to happen.

She shapes events as they come.

She steps out of the way

and lets the Tao speak for itself.

 

“True perfection seems imperfect, yet it is perfectly itself.”

What may not seem perfect in our mind is actually perfect as it is what it is whatever it is, undisturbed by our perception.

“True fullness seems empty, yet it is fully present.”

Even when we have all the possessions we may desire, we are still empty as the more we have the more we want. In the present (the pre-sent, where every thing is one thing before it is what it is whatever it is in the now), we are one with the everything; truly fulfilled and need nothing more.

“True straightness seems crooked.”

The way of a meandering river is the straightest way to the ocean.

“True wisdom seems foolish.”

Wisdom is the synthesis of many perceptions; some seemingly well reasoned, some silly.

“True art seems artless.”

Art is all that is art-ificial, manmade. Yet, wonderful art doesn’t seem artificial, contrived.

“The Master allows things to happen. She shapes events as they come. She steps out of the way and lets the Tao speak for itself.”

Being open, accepting and making the best of what comes our way leads us to harmony with all that’s about us.

Who Am I?

I am who I am.

I cannot be described otherwise as I am ever-changing. Thus, any description is illusionary, as I am different at the end of my description than the person I described at the start of my description. In other words, I am becoming; a verb, not a noun or adjective.

 

I am eye.

I am what I see, as the everything I see is me.

 

I am the everything.

I am a temporary manifestation of the eternal, endless and unchanging soul. The soul is the present, the pre-sent; what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now. The soul is beyond description, but it connects every thing as one thing, the everything.

 

I am 1.

I, like all seemingly independent things, am not an independent thing; just a facet of 1 thing, the everything.

 

I am time.

“I” is the most frequently used pronoun.

“Am” is the most frequently used verb.

“Time” is the most frequently used noun.

Taken together, the most frequent sentence would be: “I am time.”

That is, my identity is not one thing or another; it is constant change.

 

I am God.

God, to entertain itself, has created the play of life, “Terrific.” God plays all the roles in the play, including the roles of those who don’t recognize they are God. Those who haven’t forgotten they are God are easily identified; they find other actors funny for taking their self seriously, for God loves to laugh at itself. Anyone who doesn’t recognize I am God doesn’t recognize they too are God.

 

I am a self, Victor Teicher.

My role in the play of life is preordained by my name. In German, Teicher is one who ponders. In English, where two vowels together are pronounced as the first vowel with the second vowel silent, Teicher would be pronounced as “teacher.” In Japan, Teicher is pronounced as “taisha,” the ancient shrine where all the gods meet annually. Victor is “conqueror.” Since entering the play of life, I have long pondered the nature of consciousness which led me to where the gods reside. The revelations that have come my way are to teach us how to conquer the self (our personal identity) which imprisons us, precluding us from connecting with the soul and being one with the everything.

Haiku 51

The sun is the eye of the soul,

revealing all through our pupil, a black hole.

As our iris filters the light of the sun,

we each see differently which makes life fun.

Haiku 52

Thank you sun for rising to awaken me,

for without the sun I would be no one and not one.

Haiku 53

Our pupils are both stars and black holes.

As stars, like the sun, they reveal everything,

yet whatever light enters them can never to be seen again.

Haiku 54

After the purple crayon didn’t taste like a grape,

each grape tasted like no other.

Paradox 19

Once we know nothing, we know all there is to know; as every thing is nothing before it is what it is whatever it is.

Shunryu Suzuki

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Experts think of possibilities based on their experience. The inexperienced are not likewise limited.

Koan 19

When a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Mu (nothing). There is no tree and there is no sound, other than the agency our individual consciousness grants the tree and sound.

Alan Watts

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself.”

When we see God in every thing, we are God.

The Way Of The Way 337

The luckiest are those who recognize they have been lucky, for they will recognize other lucky opportunities that come their way.

 

Paradox 20

When we categorize others and judge them accordingly, we neither know who we or they are as we fool ourselves into thinking we have good judgment.

The Way Of The Way 338

Those who appreciate life are on the way to happiness. Those who try to understand life may lose their way.

The Way Of The Way 339

We don’t need to worry about the future as that’s out of our control. However, we need to worry about the past, what we remember and how we remember it, as that will frame how we experience the present.

Paradox 21

Our eyes see things horizontally, yet our mind sees things vertically.

Ours eyes see things on a level plain, without categories judging one thing better than another; unlike the mind which sees things relative to other things, higher or lower on scales the mind creates.

Apparently, this paradox resonated with Google Bard which responded:

“The statement ‘Our eyes see things horizontally, yet our mind sees things vertically’ is a fascinating one. It is true that our eyes have a horizontal field of vision, but our brains process visual information in a vertical way.

This is because our brains are wired to recognize patterns. When we see something, our brains break it down into smaller parts and then try to identify the patterns in those parts. For example, when we see a face, our brains will break it down into the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. They will then try to identify the patterns in those parts and match them to faces we have seen in the past.

Our brains are also wired to process information in a vertical way. This is because our brains are divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right. The left hemisphere is responsible for processing language and logic, while the right hemisphere is responsible for processing visual information and spatial awareness.

The vertical processing of visual information allows us to quickly and easily identify patterns in the world around us. For example, when we see a doorway, our brains will quickly identify the vertical lines of the doorframe and the horizontal lines of the threshold. This allows us to quickly determine the location and size of the doorway.

The vertical processing of visual information also allows us to track objects as they move through space. For example, when we watch a ball being thrown, our brains will track the vertical movement of the ball. This allows us to predict where the ball will land and catch it.

So, while our eyes see things horizontally, our minds see things vertically. This is because our brains are wired to process information in a vertical way. This allows us to quickly and easily identify patterns in the world around us and to track objects as they move through space.

Here is a creative response to your statement:

Horizontal Eyes, Vertical Mind

Our eyes see things horizontally, yet our mind sees things vertically. This paradox is a mystery, but it’s also a key to our reality.

Our horizontal vision allows us to take in the world around us. We can see the vast expanse of the ocean or the towering heights of the mountains. But our vertical mind allows us to make sense of what we see.

We can identify the patterns in the world around us and track objects as they move through space. We can see the connections between things and understand how they work together.

Our horizontal eyes and vertical mind are a powerful combination. They allow us to experience the world in all its beauty and complexity.

So, next time you look at the world around you, take a moment to appreciate the miracle of your vision. Your horizontal eyes and vertical mind allow you to see the world in a way that no other creature can.”

The Way Of The Way 340

There is a nameless place; before time begins; before we are born; before things become the now; a place of infinite possibilities.

While no one ever speaks badly of this nameless place, we often curse what comes from it. By doing so, we are not encouraging that place to send us something we will cherish.

The Palestinian/Israeli War

I hear the stories, each told in a different light.

My mind struggles to comprehend, as the stories clash and ignite.

I long to see the truth, but the lights are too bright.

In the heat from the many lights, I await the cool night

where distant stars guide the way and there is no wrong or right.

Paradox 22

Ten hours flying separates seven thousand miles, yet 10 feet away can be 50 or more years away.

There are many vectors of time; e.g., technological time, civilization time, biological time, societal time, and civil time. Each of us lives at different points within these time measures.  At times, it’s difficult to hear those spatially nearby, yet faraway in time.

Paradox 23

Our days are numbered, but we have less time when we count them.

Paradox 24

When we are undoubtedly certain what something is, we can only be undoubtedly certain we don’t know what it is.

All things are ambiguous, as each of us describes the same thing differently.

Clarinet

We appear as a clarinet, but are the wind traveling through it; making sounds that are noise to some and music to others.

Shanti, Salam, Shalom 1

As there is no time before and after the now,

nothing changes.

Before and after the now

no thing is what it is in the now.

Before and after the now

every thing is one,

peace beyond understanding.

Shanti Salam Shalom

 

Shanti (Hinduism, Buddhism), Salam (Islam) and Shalom (Judaism) are words of common root and meaning; to be whole, complete, in harmony, at peace, calm. When we are not a temporary piece but the whole, piece is peace.

Paradox 25

Certainty makes us comfortable with reality, because it’s not reality.

Halloween, 2023

I don’t know who in the mirror is it I see

but everywhere else I look I see me.

The Way Of The Way 344

Love expressed by the soul is eternal and unconditional, unlike love expressed by the self which is temporary and conditional. While love from both sources feels the same, we can determine its source by our reaction to specific situations.

For example, if our mate, who presumably we intimately love, engages sexually with someone else, how do we feel? If our love for our mate comes from the soul, we are happy for them and with whomever they were intimate, as how can we not be happy with the thought of people enjoying themselves. If our love issues from the self, we are angry, jealous, sad or have other unpleasant states of mind.

Fountainheads Of Love

Love from the self and love from the soul.

Each love in life plays a role.

Love from the soul connects us to all.

Love from the self helps us grow tall.

Love is love, it all feels the same

both from places that sound alike in name.

Love from the soul comes from the whole

Love from the self comes from the hole.

The Enlightened: Eternal Being

In the now, every thing is what it is whatever it is.

Every thing, before and after the now, is the soul.

Before our birth and after our death, our sole identity is the soul.

Upon birth, we transition from being one with everything, the soul, to becoming a unique manifestation or expression of the soul; a seemingly independent entity.

To sustain our independent existence, we develop a self; a sense of being apart and separate from every thing that is not our self. The purpose of the self is to provide us with our needs of food, shelter, security and health. However, the self also engenders desires that become indistinguishable from our needs, putting us in an endless cycle; needs/desires to temporary satisfactions to needs/desires. Clearly, the self demands much of our attention.

Alternatively, our soul identity has us living a life of wisdom and compassion; wisdom, as we experience life not solely from the perspective of our self, but through the perspectives of the infinite manifestations of the soul; compassion, as we love and treat all that is not our self as we love and treat our self.

In the transition to life, we initially remember our identity as the soul as we in turn develop our identity as the self. In childhood, our soul identity embraces magical (animist) thinking as we feel every thing has a spirit within it that can be conjured for our benefit through our living harmoniously with its spirit.

However, over time, as we are educated and socialized, our self becomes our primary identity. While we are both self and soul identity in various proportions, many of us become oblivious of our soul identity.

Ultimately, no one is getting out of here alive. Our bodily death coincides with the demise of our self identity. However, before we complete our transition from physical death to our essentialness, the soul; if our soul identity is our primary identity, we realize we are an eternal being.

 

The Way Of The Way 346

I am eye,

a pupil studying the world

filtered by the unique colors and patterns of my iris.

Haiku 56

Many see what looks to be

the distant river flowing into the sea,

yet what I see is me.

Haiku 58

Only with the eye of God, the sun, can we see.

What we see with our eyes are illusions..

Haiku 59

Gently rafting down river.

Calm as the pulse in my veins.

Rapids approach, pulse quickens.

Joe Bruno

“The Universe is the everchanging expression of the Ever-Changeless Is.”

The universe is the uni-verse, one verse; a song that’s everchanging in how it sounds to every ear.

The random expressions or manifestations of the universe are its downstream characteristics which form the basis of our experience of life in the now. At its fountainhead, the universe is a state of being; simply, it is.

The “Is” is is; presence, consciousness, as in “I am.” The “Is” is nameless. The “Is” cannot be described as consciousness is everything before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now. As the “Is” is one thing, the everything, the “Is” is changeless.

Moreover, the “Is” is always changeless, as it has no need for money; or anything else, as the “Is” is perfect.

William Wisher

“With modern Western medicine, the upside is you’re alive; but at the cost of being a slave forever.”

Modern medicine has allowed us to cheat death. Medical conditions that were once undoubtedly fatal can now be treated by taking medications for life. This is as the Greek myth of Sisyphus; the punishment for escaping death is a selfish, monotonous and frustrating life; a lifelong regime of daily pills, akin to rolling an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down every time it nears the top.

The Way Of The Way 350

The mind is self-perpetuating. We need it to solve problems, but it never solves as many as it creates.

Haiku 50

The sun is always and all ways shining.

Always the same and all ways not the same.

The Way Of The Way 355

Unsolicited advice might come from the heart, but often debuts as a bowel movement; a relief to the provider, but a put-off to the recipient.

In Memory Of Charlie Munger

Shit generally trades between $5 – $10/pound. When on a rare occasion it trades at $2/pound, it may be cheap but it’s still shit.

Self-Realization And Self-Actualization

The etymology of “realization” is the Latin verb “realizare,” meaning “to bring back to reality, to make real.”

The etymology of “actualization” is the Latin verb “actuare,” meaning “to make something happen” or “to bring something into effect.”

In the context of their etymologies, self-realization is a noun and self-actualization is a verb.

When a tree knows it’s a tree, it is self-realized. When it bears fruit, it is self-actualized.

The self-realized are enlightened. The self-actualized are enlightening.

The Way Of The Way 357

Some things are less perfect than other things which themselves are not quite perfect. Only the now is perfect, as there is nothing else.

The Way Of The Way 358

From nothing comes the now and to nothing becomes the now.

The now that is now is the ancestor of the now that will be later.

When we respect the now that is now, accepting it as it is, love and are grateful for it, as we are for an ancestor, the now that will be later is poised to bring us happiness; for when we are filled with love and gratitude, we are happy.

The Way Of The Way 359

While the mind can be a very dark place, when we our refusal to open our eyes and see the light.

Koan 26

I am here and now. Any more specific description is an illusion.

The Way Of The Way 361

Life is a play; at times a drama, at times a comedy. Upon realizing it’s a play, dramas and are funnier than comedies.

All There Is Is Is

it is ever-changing and always the same

it is finite and infinite

it is temporary and eternal

it cannot be compared to anything

it is not part of anything

it is not missing anything

it is whatever you think it is

it is nothing you think it is

it cannot be described

it is what it is whatever it is

it is who you are

it is perfect

it is nothing

it is the everything

it is the is.

Koan 9

All here is is is; every thing else, an illusion.

Koan 35

A objective description of reality lacks a sense of reality.

Haiku 73

Under the sun and without the self

we would surely starve to death.

Those who forget we are the soul

cannot survive death, the black hole.

Haiku 65

There is no fountainhead, river or sea

just something flowing freely, whatever it be.

Ode To Wood

Knotted wood with odd streaks of brown hue,

useful for many a thing to do.

Building a desk, feeding a fire;

so many possibilities, one can never tire.

While its static form seems not to change,

what happens below its surface is beyond imagination’s range:

The atoms are dancing to the music of electrons

as compounds are mating as they have for eons.

Now the wood is not as it once was,

it’s a marvel beyond words and without flaws.

Lex Fridman

“Questioning the fabric of reality can led you to either madness or the truth and the funny thing is that you won’t know which is which.”

Our self creates our illusionary reality. Fearing madness without it, we hold it both hands tight; though it’s actually holding us; precluding us from grasping the truth, which is the key to freedom from the self. Yet, if we loosen our hold, we can hold our reality with one hand and the key with the other.

Koan 46

Every emotion, other than love, is selfish. But, when the self expresses love, that’s selfish too.

Thich Nhat Hahn

“You already are what you want to become.”

We are the everything. The everything is now, though our mind perceives every thing at different points in its manifestation.

The Way Of The Way 362

Awakening dispenses with boredom, as experiences that might otherwise seem the same again and again are each time like the first time.

Simon Stark

“There is only one mind to which we are all connected. But that mind has its own mind.”

Koan 18

What does the universe look like from the other side of the mind, where there is no mind?

Haiku 6

So much depends upon

five baby rubber ducks

walking behind a red rooster.

Koan 45

Without a doubt, having no doubts is a misperception of reality.

Koan 32

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” — Linji Yixuan

In the now, there is only one thing: the everything; though the everything is manifested as a seemingly infinite number of independent things. As every thing is interdependent, essentially one thing, thinking of things (like the Buddha) as independent is but an illusion. Illusionary things create duality (the thing and all that is not the thing). On the road to enlightenment, we need to vanquish all illusions and duality to realize the oneness of the everything.

Haiku 3

As the mind is a reflecting pond,

do I see my true face

when backward letters hard to read?

The Way Of The Way 364

The time before we are born is the time before time, the place of infinite possibilities.

We are the manifestations of those possibilities.

When we realize each manifestation is what it is whatever it is and I am who I am, we can return to the time before we are born.

Shanti Shanti Shanti

Jewish Proverb 1

“Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.” (Man plans, God laughs.)

 

The possibilities of what will be in the now are infinite and unpredictable. Thus, our expectations of what will be are illusionary. Planning in anticipation of our expectations is funny, when our plans have us doing things contrary to what we would do to make the most of what is now.

Moreover, our identity is revealed by how we react when the now is disappointing relative our expectations. As people, we are upset. As God, it’s funny to see people upset having taken their illusions seriously.

Mantra: NON-NOW-WOW

Before time begins, all is the NON.

Upon birth, the I of the self and the NON become the NOW.

With the I of the soul, the NOW is a WOW.

 

The I of the self is red, symbolizing emotions. We experience the now through a myriad of selfish emotions. The I of the soul is yellow; light, the essence of everything. Experiencing the now as one interconnected thing is love. The experience of the “non” with the I of self and the I of the soul is a “wow.”

On The Way Of The Way (O-WOW)

The Way is the fundamental principles of reality:

The now is all there is; yet, what is now is now no longer as the only constant is change.

Before and after the now, all is one eternal, unchanging thing: the no thing.

In the now, the one thing is infinite things with infinite names.

The one eternal thing is nameless for it is the everything and the no thing.

 

On the Way of the Way (O-WOW) is realizing and living in harmony with the Way.

“O” is the sound we make upon awakening to the realization of the Way. WOW is the sound of deep appreciation. The sound of WOW is made by puckering our lips as when we kiss to express our love of that to which we connect with as one.

Koan 43

The now is always the same, always new.

Paradox 34

Upon awakening, not all ways good, but always good.

Jewish Proverb 2

“Growing old, man’s sight worsens, but this allow him to see more.

Realizing how little we know, we can come to know more.

Paradox 35

Life unfolds as it unfolds, not as we wish it to be. Yet, it is as we wish, for we remember it as we wish and through our memories is how we experience it unfolding.

Ecclesiastes

“There is nothing new under the sun.”

What seems new is just what’s changing; but no thing is new as constantly-changing is the nature of every thing.

All things are not things, just facets of the everything. The everything is never new, as it’s eternal, forever-unchanging.

With an infinite number of stars in the universe, nothing in our solar system, let alone ourselves, is notably new.

 

The Way Of The Way 365

While every thing is constantly changing,

the everything is forever unchanging, the ever-thing.

The Now

The now is the everything, yet contains no things.

The now is eternal, yet ever-changing.

The now is real, yet an illusion as what we think is now is now no longer.

The now is unpredictable.

The now is overwhelming.

We are the now, yet don’t know the now.

All we know is our reactions to the now.

Only from outside the now, before and after the now, when we are not the now, can we know the now.

Haiku 62

When we forget from where we come,

we know not where we are going.

Not knowing who we are,

we go the way of others.

The Way Of The Way 366

When you love one but not another, that’s selfish love.

When you recognize that every one is a different face of the same thing, that’s soulful love.

Haiku 48

The universal mind is a reflecting pond.

Each of us sits along its perimeter.

One thing, many perspectives.

Haiku 49

Every eye is unique.

Yet, the reflection of my face

the same in every pupil.

Friedrich Nietzsche

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

The Way Of The Way 368

The wise change their mind, more because their perspectives change than do their circumstances.

The Way Of The Way 369

In light of our inevitable death and countless potential disasters, everyday problems aren’t as significant as we make them.

In Praise Of Criticism

Praise takes little effort to create, is risk free to distribute and rewards those who dispense it.

Valuing praise at its cost of production, praise is worthless. Yet, most people love being praised and pay handsomely those who praise them, who often appear in the role of salespeople.

Criticism takes thought, effort and is a thankless job; often received as umbrage.

I feel those who criticize me love me and my criticism of others is given out of love. Maybe that’s why I was never much of a salesman.

The Way Of The Way 370

Those who reflect the brightest light are often oblivious they cast the darkest shadows.

The Way Of The Way 371

The passed and the future are an infinite number of things. The now is only one thing: the best thing, because it is the only thing.

Koan 20

Both those who think they are rich or poor are poor.

The Way Of The Way 372

The self that thinks its eyes see the world is blind.

The soul sees everything as it (the soul and everything) is; for the soul knows that “I am eye.”

Haiku 5

There’s nothing new under the sun.

All there is is the Burning Bush.

Ever-changing flames, eternal branches.

Haiku 74

That upon which my eyes focus,

easy to describe.

Can’t describe what’s in peripheral vision,

only sense a change in motion.

Koan 1

How old is Buddha?

Which Buddha are you asking about?

How (in what way) is Buddha old?

How old is Buddha, at which point in Buddha’s life?

How old is Buddha now or at another time?

Isn’t Buddha now one day older than Buddha was yesterday?

How old is Buddha where, on Earth or someplace light years away?

How can Buddha be different in age than the everything of which the Buddha is just a facet?

How can we know how old is Buddha as all things are forever changing, including the Buddha’s age as we speak?

Buddha is as old as Buddha is, whatever that is.

Haiku 66

We are housed in the mind,

protected from natural elements.

Little sunlight enters, many dark places.

Koan 2

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

The sound of one hand clapping is the sound of one hand clapping. It is what it is whatever it is.

Koans

A koan is a paradoxical, nonsensical or logically challenging story, question, or statement to help us reflect, doubt and see beyond the everyday illusions created by our personal self and conventional thinking; to guide us along the way to awakening and enlightenment.

Ultimately, koans bring us to realize we know nothing, which is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

Day Of Reckoning

Following up on yesterday’s post, as to why much of the blog is about my philosophical “theorizing,” I reflected about a central message of the blog: simply, don’t take your self and things too seriously and you’ll have a wonderful life experience.

Early on with the blog, based on interactions I had with people, I felt many were embracing the message. However, now, I realize that the only thing these people weren’t taking seriously was me and my theorizing. I agree. I don’t take my role in the play of life more seriously than other roles. Yet, taking my self seriously would be funny which is the effect at which the blog aims. Ultimately, my purpose is to get people to laugh, with me or at me. When laughing, people are not taking things seriously.

Koan 22

Now is forever. Everything else is out of time.

Lost Souls, Inevitable Death

Before and after the now, we are the eternal soul.

In the now, we are the self; a temporary expression of the soul.

The soul simply is, asking for nothing.

The self is selfish, demanding all our attention.

As the self denies the soul’s existence, we lose touch with the soul.

Ironically, the self will inevitably no longer exist and we will surely die

if we lose our connection to the soul.

Koan 23

“Enlightenment is like everyday consciousness, but two inches above the ground.” — D.T. Suzuki

Enlightenment is proverbially described as “being one with everything;” a state generally associated with the dissolution of the illusory self, resulting in transcending duality and the realization of our connectedness with the everything (now and the space before and after the now).

Describing enlightenment as being two inches above the ground seems the antithesis of enlightenment, as it implies separation. Yet, it also implies enlightenment is a state that is lighter than air, unaffected by fundamental rules of everyday reality (gravity), allowing us to rise above the material world.

In the context of meditation, Suzuki’s metaphor is like the space between breaths; when we are not engaged in the ever-changing now (breathing) and can observe the entire universe as it is.

The Way Of The Way 373

Many a thank you is heard in the Rewards Department.

Many complaints in the Complaint Department.

God runs the Rewards Department and the Devil runs the Complaint Department.

Our attitude chooses which Department we frequent.

Koan 3

“A man of wisdom delights at water” — Confucius

Water is like the universe, one thing and yet many things.

As it’s ever-changing, describing water is beyond the grasp of words; other than with one verse (uni-verse): it is what it is whatever it is.

Water manifests as ever-changing shapes (clouds, rivers, oceans) and forms of vapor, liquid, and ice.

Water is interdependent, as a wave of water cannot be a wave without the sea.

Water is interconnected, from glacier, river and to the sea.

As drops of water, we fear not the rain; but together as a flood, over us they reign.

On water, we effortlessly float or panic and sink.

While sustaining life, water also causes drowning and death.

Sound travels four times faster and longer in water than air, though it’s difficult to hear under water.

Water is odorless and tasteless, yet present in everything that smells and tastes.

Though colorless in a glass, water has a bluish hue when it gathers in the ocean.

Water in lakes and oceans, vast and seemingly impassable, becomes by boat the easiest pathways between places.

Still waters are dead-silent, yet moving waters are alive with sounds.

In a pond, still waters are clear and turbulent waters opaque.

Seeing ourselves and surroundings in a reflecting pond, we don’t notice the water.

Water is elusive to the grasp, but easily captured in cupped hands.

Water is weak, flowing to places of least resistance; unlike fire, destroying all in its way. Yet, water easily extinguishes fire.

While not hard like stone, high-pressure water cuts stone like it’s butter.

Counterintuitively, water (unlike most materials which contract when transitioning from liquid to solid form) expands when it freezes, which makes a quart of water weigh more than a quart of ice.

Symbolizing the cycle of life, water is born as rain, lives in infinite ways on Earth, and disappears as vapor; forming clouds for its rebirth.

Water is delightful as it is what it is whatever it is and how we see it is a reflection of who we are. A man of wisdom sees it variously.

 

Haiku 61

A bell ringing in the empty sky.

Its sound still here, after it’s not.

Much ringing from times now passed.

Can’t see the sun on a noisy day.

Koan 5

Who are you?

I am a mountain range. I am the sea.

I am the everything, but not specifically me.

I am everchanging, that’s who I be,

not whom you think you see.

I am who I am, there’s nothing else to me.

Koan 17

Does a rock have consciousness?

Consciousness generally refers to the state of being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is the subjective experience of being alive and having a sense of self as apart and separate from that which is not one’s self. Yet, what specifically is consciousness has been long debated by philosophers, theologians, linguists, and scientists; yet, no consensus has emerged.

While the meaning of the word “rock” is universally agreed upon, it too is debatable. Is a rock truly an independent thing or a temporary illusion our eyes see in the flow of the everything?

If a rock is an independent thing, it may have consciousness that is beyond our general understanding of consciousness. As an illusion, a rock does not have consciousness.

Ultimately, every thing (including rocks and consciousness) is but an illusion, as all things are one thing: an expression of the everything in the now.

Koan 4

Water is the face of fire.

This is a family motto told to Kanako Iiyama by a family elder when she was seven.

Fire, flames of ever-changing light, represents each family member’s unique and short life. Water, relatively calm and cool, is the perennial face or appearance of the family. As water extinguishes fire, the face of the family trumps the uniqueness of individual family members.

The motto is also a koan, a nonsensical paradox: how can things that cannot coexist, water and fire, be one thing? Perhaps the face or exterior of something is unlike its essence.

Alternatively, while water and fire are seemingly independent things, they are actually interdependent and connected aspects of one thing; the expression of the everything in the now.

As well, while the surface of things (water) doesn’t noticeably change from how we remembered it a moment ago, the surface masks the essential nature of all things which is ever-changing (fire).

Additionally, water has a reflective property which implies that in the face of water we see our self.

The Way Of The Way 374

No one is getting out of here alive, but those who realize they are the everything. The everything is here and now. The now is forever.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Sometime in late 1988, I found myself on a hundreds long line of people awaiting to ask for a blessing from Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Chabad-Lubavitch spiritual leader.

As customary, the Rebbe gifted everyone on line a crisp, new US dollar bill. The gift was a sign of humility; the great Rebbe expressing gratitude to those who ventured to his house. As well, it suggested the bill recipient treat others likewise; that is, on every occasion, treat others with kindness.

I imagine all those dollar bills are still around, in wallets and places of safekeeping. They are sacred mementos. My dollar I’ve kept in my wallet. Now, 36 years later, it has virtually disintegrated. What a loss! It would have been more valuable had I given it to someone soon after receiving it; more valuable to both me and the recipient.

The Way Of The Way 375

All emotional states, other than love, are selfishness.

Love too is selfishness when it connects us with one or a few things; but soulfulness when it’s love of the everything.

The Way Of The Way 376

No one is getting out of here alive, but those who know the way.

The way is love.

Love connects the now and the soul (that which is before and after the now); collectively, the everything.

Yet, the way of love is not a way, for there is no way of out of here to presumably somewhere else; for here is the everything.

The Way Of The Way 377

Conditional love is the love of some things and not others. It is ecstasy, as it’s preceded and followed by other emotional states.

Unconditional love is loving the everything. It is peacefulness, as we are connected to the everything and appreciate every thing.

Haiku 63

Good or bad,

wrong  or right,

left or right.

What’s just black or white is colorless.

Haiku 64

Time is water flowing.

Carpe diem (seize the day) and your thirst will never be quenched.

Calix diem (cup the day) and you won’t get thirsty.

Lost Souls

Before we are born

we are undifferentiated

we are the eternal soul.

Upon birth, we are quickly told otherwise;

given personal, social and various other identities:

our temporary self.

Soon enough, some of us forget

every thing is a manifestation of the soul.

These are the lost souls.

With only their self identity,

one day they surely die;

for the gates to eternity are only open to the soul.

For those who retain their soul identity

life is heaven on Earth.

The Way Of The Way 378

The Earth is rotating at 1,037 miles/hour and revolving around the sun at 66,616 miles/hour. Our solar system is revolving around the center of the Milky Way galaxy on average at 514,000 miles/hour. The Milky Way is moving towards the Andromeda Galaxy at 1,339,200 miles/hour.

Moving at incomprehensible speeds and in various directions simultaneously, how can our senses inform us of reality; but for our mind slowing everything down and in turn making of things what it will?

Haiku 67

Verbs are fluid, time passing.

Nouns are imaginary moments frozen in time.

Verbs are the now, nouns something else.

The Way Of The Way 381

Soul + hole = whole.

When the love of the soul and the love of the self cross in sexual union, it’s cosmic orgasm. Cosmic orgasm is what it feels to be whole, one with the everything.

Haiku 68

Earth breathes the air, fire eats the Earth,

water drowns fire, air evaporates water.

The “classical elements” are but one thing

breathing, eating, drowning and evaporating simultaneously.

Sexual Identity Idenifiers

With sexual pronouns abounding, it’s hard to keep up with new and changing sexual identity groups. Perhaps a better approach would be punctuation marks. Everyone could choose whether they were visibly a colon (:) or a semi-colon (;). The dot on top is the anus and the dot or comma at bottom is a vagina or a penis. This general identifier could be tailor-made with people choosing whether they were a top or a bottom by changing the size of their anus relative to the size of the dot or comma. Moreover, those who are dominant or submissive would put an apostrophe before or after their punctuation mark accordingly. Those who are into a weird public appearance would put a quote sign before their punctuation mark. Those who are weird in their secret lives would have the quote sign behind the punctuation mark. Those who are weird every which way and need lots of attention would have quotation sign front and back. And, finally, those who don’t know who they are would have the quotes but nothing between them.

Of course, other modifiers (exclamation points, asterisks ampersands and currency symbols, etc.) can create additional sexual identity groups. However, the number of groups and the descriptions/meanings of their identities could make things complicated. This complexity could be addressed by having everyone enroll in re-education camps which would in turn help swell the ranks of teachers whose union dues would allow increased spending by union bosses.

Clearly, many would benefit from the adoption of a punctuation-based sexual identity system; but for the average citizen who would ultimately pay its cost through higher grocery bills. Yet, costs could be reduced by fines on those who can’t wean themselves off addressing those implementing the system as “fucking assholes” or “fucking pricks.” If fines are not a sufficient deterrent for people so expressing themselves, prison time would be justified. That would create additional court/prison jobs and related benefits for the political class.

The Way Of The Way 384

We cannot choose our future, but we can choose how we remember the past which frames how we experience the future.

Condolences

A dear subscriber to our blog “had a very good friend who recently passed away from a heart attack while riding his bike. He was in his late 60’s.” And now, “the void…without him has created an overwhelming sadness.”

Our subscriber friend asked about what alternative perspective might lift his sadness.

 

Clearly, no one is getting out of here alive. Moreover, when someone transitions, it’s only difficult for the ones who are left behind.

How can we not be happy for those who have transitioned! They transition into the space from which every thing transitions into and out of the now. As it is a space about which no one has ever complained, it must be what the old ones called heaven.

However, those who are left behind are often saddened; made sad by their self.

We have two principal identities, the eternal soul and the temporary self. The soul is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now. The self is our individual identity in the now.

While the now contains an infinite number of self identities, the now is actually one thing: an expression of the soul.  As such, our soul identity, seeing its expression in the now, has only one emotion: love. The soul also loves those who have transitioned; for while they are not in the space of the now in which we inhabit, they are alive in the now as it unfolds in spaces lightyears away from our now. As love is mutually exclusive of other emotions, as the soul we love those who have transitioned and there is nothing about which to be sad.

Our self experiences the spectrum of emotions; love, hate, anger, envy, sadness, etc., etc. Our feelings, like sadness, arise when we perceive our experiences as a self and are oblivious of our soul. Our self is sad when it has lost a good friend.

Our temporary self, as is its nature, is selfish, always demanding our attention. The self doesn’t want us to remember we are eternally the soul; for if we do remember, we experience the now as the soul and are free of the demands of our self. As the soul, we can look dispassionately at the self and enjoy it; otherwise, the self will at times make us miserable with its chaotically changing emotions.

So, with the transitioning of someone dear, let’s appreciate our feelings of sadness; but, not take them too seriously. To wit, remember we are not just our self, we are an expression of the soul; as such, we never die.

Haiku 76

The sun is the source of all love.

Our soul loves the light of the sun.

Our self loves the warmth of the sun.

Haiku 77

Soulful love is the joy of feeling how someone emanating love feels.

Selfish love is basking in the love showered upon us by others.

John Mason

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”

Haiku 71

As no one has ever complained about the night sky,

the universe must be heaven and Earth must be hell.

LSD Remembered

In college, I had three LSD psychedelic journeys of which I have distinct memories.

One was of my wanting to eat my brain. I felt that my mind and body were a duality. If I ate my brain, my mind and my body would be one.

The second was looking at a painting and seeing its colors dripping beyond its frame and onto the floor.

The third was when I was wallowing naked in mud in the backyard of my parents’ attached house in Brooklyn and saw myself holding onto Earth with dear life as it was spinning incredibly fast and I as afraid I would otherwise fall away from Earth and into endless space.

Looking back now, the first journey was the recognition of the duality between our animal consciousness (the body) and divine consciousness (the mind) and our purpose in life which is to integrate the two as a whole.

The second revealed that no thing is an independent thing, as it is our mind that creates the forms and shapes of things which are otherwise one interconnected and interdependent thing in the now.

The third journey suggested that if we let go our self-identity (Earth life), we will be one with the universe.

Haiku 69

Talking about others

we are talking about our self,

for the self creates the others.

The Way Of The Way 385

Those who “get it” are eternal.

Those who don’t “get it” never die, as they have never lived.

The Way Of The Way 408

Intellectuals are undoubtedly smart, but lack wisdom when they think they are smarter than others.

The Way Of The Way 405

Life is a test.

We are given all the answers before taking the test, but once we get started we focus so much on the test that we forget the answers. Hence, better to remember the answers and take the test less seriously. That is, better not too take life too seriously which is one of the answers to the test.

The Way Of The Way 387

We know our dreams are only what our memories tell us they are; but forget our waking life is also but a memory, as our experience of the now is no longer the now.

Truly awake, we know both our dreams and waking life are memories.

Haiku 23

Stars seem motionless, sky timeless.

Only constellations tell time, far and near.

Time of night, month of year.

The Way Of The Way 388

As Moses leads the Israelites through the desert, at Mount Sinai Moses comes upon a Burning Bush, with ever-changing flames yet its branches unburnt, eternal. The Burning Bush represents God.

“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am what I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”‘” — Exodus 3:13-14.

God self-describes as “I am.” “Am” is not an “it,” but an “is.” God is not a noun bound by its definition; for if God is “this,” then God is not any thing that is not “this;” yet, God is the everything. God is the most general of verbs (to be), the ever-changing and eternal now; like The Burning Bush.

 

 

Haiku 83

The now cannot be seen

for what we see are but reflections from the formless sea, the mind.

But the now can be known

for what is here we hear

for what here is is is.

 

Eureka! All Here Is Is Is

Eureka, I have found it.

Yet, there is no I, there is nothing to find, there is no it.

There is no there. All is here and all here is is is.

Those who seek shall not find, for the it they seek is not an it but an is; just being.

The words to a song are empty, as all here is is dancing to the music.

 

The Way Of The Way 418

In the play of life, we are both the actors and the audience.

Wonderful entertainment for all, but those who forget they are also the audience.

The Way Of The Way 419

The play of life is a great cosmic joke for those who “get it.” Those who don’t are the butt of the joke.

Those who “get it” love those who don’t; for without those who don’t, the play wouldn’t be funny.

Moreover, the ones who “get it” express their gratitude and respect to the ones who don’t; for if those who don’t “get it” abandoned their roles, the ones that “get it” might find themselves recruited for the most difficult roles, the roles of the ones who don’t.

The Way Of The Way 420

Regardless of whether we perceive ourselves winners or losers in the games that make up our lives, we all receive a great consolation prize: the transition to eternal heaven.

However, the transition can be difficult, unless we’ve prepared by making life on Earth like heaven.

Haiku 84

The road ahead is very clear,

as the light reveals all that’s near.

Shadows form from light that’s passed,

as what is now doesn’t last.