• 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kotodama

    Kotodama is a Japanese concept that refers to the belief in the spiritual power or essence inherent in words and language. The term “kotodama” is composed of two kanji characters: “koto,” meaning “word” or “speech,” and “tama,”meaning “spirit” or “soul.” Together, “kotodama” can be translated as “soul of words” or the “spirit of speech.”

    Kotodama originated from ancient Shinto and mystical beliefs which emphasize the sacredness and transformative power of language and words. Speech is thought to possess a spiritual energy that can influence the physical and spiritual realms. Words are the DNA of communication. Homophones, homographs, homonyms, heteronyms and etymologies can reveal the mystical aspects of human consciousness.

    Puns are more insightful than pundits.

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 different shapes (clouds, rivers, oceans) and forms (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 essential to life, water also brings 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.

     

  • Kotodama 22

    No know is the beginning of “The Great Way” to know no.

    “The Great Way” is a Taoist concept of a path that leads to liberation from the self and the realization of the ultimate truth, our oneness with the everything.

    When we realize we don’t know any thing, we can begin to experience the now as it is; not as we perceive it in the context of our memories and stories. Then, we can come to know the nothing which is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Keys to Health

    The key to health is reminding young. Most diseases are a function of old age. Smoking, drinking and cardiovascular problems are not much of a disease when we are young.

    The basic keys to staying young are food, sleep, laughter, aerobic exercise and energy.

    Food.

    Only eat things that look as you’re eating them as they did when they were alive. Fruits, vegetables, small fish and birds look the same. Large fish, land animals don’t. Neither does bread or pasta as they don’t grow on trees. In other words, avoid eating refined foods and foods high up on the food chain which tend to accumulate toxic waste. Your body is built to eat naturally occurring foods, not man-made refined foods.

    Moreover, be careful to not get into eating accidents. These accidents are caused by overeating and often make us overweight. These accidents happen when we’re not paying attention as we’re eating. For example, there is a 90% reduction in fatal collisions in roundabout traffic circles where stop signs or light signals were previously used for traffic control. That’s because when one approaches a stop sign or light signal one may be on their phone, talking or listening to the radio; but, when approaching a roundabout, one dispenses with multitasking distractions and concentrates on the road ahead. Focusing our attention lessens the chances of an accident. Likewise, when eating, best to focus on what we’re eating. Best not to watch TV, listen to music, talk with someone or read.  If you’re hungry, eat as much as you wish but you’ll notice your stomach is rarely hungry after a few bites. If the food is delicious, each as much as you wish but you’ll find the law of diminishing returns results in each bite less pleasing then the bite before. Moreover, when you’ve got food in your mouth, close your eyes and enjoy the intense and subtle pleasure of the food,  undistracted by your other senses. This is meditative eating.

    Sleep.

    Sleep a couple of times a day, a long sleep of several hours at night and one or two short naps during the day. Sleep is akin to dying of old age and awakening after is rebirth. Sleep allows us to recover from simply being worn out.

    Laughter.

    Laughing is the great elixir for pain and stress. As there is something funny about almost everything, one can find the funniness of a situation to relieve pain or stress. For example, I recently accidentally closed a car door on my finger; then immediately started laughing at how foolish I was not paying attention to closing the car door as I was talking at the moment to a friend. This otherwise painful experience was not painful.

    Aerobic exercise.

    That which is so to speak dead is inanimate, not moving. To be alive, move around vigorously as something that’s alive to the point of getting your heart rate up. No need to go anywhere or use any equipment as you can dance or (if constrained by time or space) engage in sex.

    Energy

    Energy keeps us alive and protects us from malevolent forces like illness. Some people or situations are energizing and some are energy draining. Best to think about what brings us energy and what takes it away and embrace the energizing and avoid the draining.

  • 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.

  • Regression to the mean

    It seems odd that people celebrate joyous events and get a bit depressed or anxious in reaction to a difficult turn of events.

    Be anxious when things are good, and calm when things aren’t.

    The mean is the average as in our average day. When things are going poorly (below the mean), best to be calm as they are likely to get better and regress back to the mean. In calmness we’re less distracted by our mind and more likely to make the most of what comes next; that will bring us back to or above the mean. We calm down when we remember that however difficult our current circumstances, they could be worse; so we have much for which to be grateful.

    When our circumstances are much better than average, best to be anxious as the good times are unlikely to continue forever; at some point they’ll regress to the mean or lower. Low levels of anxiety allow us to imagine (and thereby see before they occur) negative events which often precipitate the regression; thus allowing us the chance to avoid or minimize the affect of those events.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • From Pity to Compassion

    We connect with those we perceive as suffering via pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. Pity is a detached (intellectual) feeling one has for others who are suffering as one imagines themselves suffering if in similar circumstances. Sympathy is when one is emotionally moved by the suffering of others. Empathy is feeling the suffering of another, comforting them and sharing their pain which helps alleviate their pain. Compassion is helping others as we would want others to help us make the best of our circumstances and move forward to ultimately realize our potential.

    Pity and sympathy are self-serving (feeling good about ourselves having these feelings) and require nothing of us. Empathy can also be self-serving and is often potentially harmful to the empath in terms of emotional stress and time consumption. However, unlike pity and sympathy, empathy provides real relief to those suffering. Compassion is relatively easy but requires the willingness of the sufferer to move forward.

    Acute suffering is an immediate reaction to unfortunate circumstances that may come our way. Chronic suffering is selfish in that the chronic sufferer is oblivious to all for which they have to be grateful and their otherwise good fortune relative to others who are far less fortunate they are.

    Empathy is what selfish sufferers want. Empaths are ultimately selfish as well. Compassion is an expression of happiness and the wisdom and love of God.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Be Careful For What You Wish

    All our wishes come true but not in the forms we imagine.

    In 1973 I graduated from college and planned to start working, have a family and take a year at a Zen monastery when I reached 40, like Philip Kapleau who wrote The Three Pillars of Zen. At 40, my family and business partners would not have been encouraging had I taken a year-long sabbatical. However, at 43 my family and 140 friends threw a farewell party for me at the Harvard Club before I left for a 13 month stay at a Federal prison.

    What landed me in prison was my involvement in an “insider trading” case. I personally profited $50K. Legal fees cost me roughly $2M and fines and penalties another $1.8M. Moreover, I was no longer allowed to manage other people’s money, though all of my investors stayed with me until I was prohibited from working. As a result of my not being allow to work, my net worth today is not even a tiny fraction of what it would have been otherwise.

    I didn’t think that my trading was criminal. But others obviously did. In any event, the cost of going to trial, fines, penalties and the sanctions placed upon me undoubtedly were punitive to an extreme.  How do I feel? Pretty good as I play squash 4 – 5 times a week and I play with the prosecutor in my case. Why? Because I was born with the gene of happiness and the prosecutor is a wonderful guy, good squash player.

    I did learn something from this ordeal: best be careful what we wish for as every wish will come true but not in the form we imagine. While I didn’t go to a traditional Zen monastery, prison was a Zen monastery of sorts. It did provide an awakening moment.

    During my stay, my interactions with the other prisoners was for the most part fun. As well, I generously paid some to make my bed, clean the shower before I used it and make me foods like hand-cut French fries. The night before I left the prison, I asked a group of inmates whether they would miss me as we had a good time together. Seemingly in unison, they said no, because they hated me. I was a bit shocked. They said they hated me because I had such a good time. Maybe they needed a Zen monastery more than I did.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • God Plays Hide and Seek

    Alan Watts in The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are:

    “God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.

    Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that’s the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do.

    He doesn’t want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.

    Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to him.

    The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘he’ and not ‘she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive. “God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.

    You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn’t really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.”

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Koan 8

    What is it now?*

     

    One day, a Zen master with a clay pot on a wooden table before him asked several students: “What is this?”

    Some said it was a clay pot; another said that it was an artifact; another said it was an assemblage of clay and wood; and soon there were other perspectives as well. A lively debate ensued, while the Zen master shook his head and laughed. Then, a student approached the table and threw the pot to the ground where it cracked into many pieces. An audible silence enveloped the room until the student asked: “What is it now?” The silence again filled the room as some students were shocked and others embarrassed by the aggressive arrogance of the student who shattered the clay pot. Then, the silence was shattered by laughter from the Zen master and the student.

    The Zen master and student laughed as they recognized the other students were like the blind men in the “Ten Men and the Elephant” parable; each embracing their personal view without doubt; especially, their collective view of what breaking the pot meant in terms of respecting their Zen Master.

    A pot is a pot, temporarily; as all things are everchanging. It cannot be described, as it is different now than it was in the now before now. Moreover, the pot, like every thing, does not have an independent existence; it is, simply, a facet of the temporary expression of the everything. Ultimately, it is what it is whatever it is.

     

    *Courtesy of Bill Wisher.

  • Koan 11

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

     

    Responded the Pope: “It depends on the size of the pin.”

    Responded the Zen master: “What’s a pin?”

  • 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.

  • Anecdotes

    Lester Wunderman

    Lester Wunderman was a successful advertising executive, renowned as the father of direct marketing which he created in the late 1950s. Lester was also an avid collector of Dogon African art, having amassed a “world class” collection which now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Musee Du Quai Branly in Paris.

    I knew Lester as an investor in my hedge fund in the late 1980s. However, as we both had an interest in tribal art, we spoke more about art than investing.

    Lester started collecting Dogon art from Mali in a chance view of a figurative object at a gallery in LA. He didn’t quite know why this artwork stirred a passion, but “it spoke to me.” After much time and money spent on amassing his collection, Lester visited the Dogon people who lived at desert’s edge and for whom sourcing water was often a preoccupation. Warmly received and aware of the water issues facing the Dogon, upon his return to NY, Lester contracted geologists and engineers to drill several drinking water wells for the Dogon. He later returned to visit the Dogon and was initiated as a shaman, with a animist festival highlighted by singing and dancing at a village where he had connected the Dogon to a water source.

    The singing and dancing resonated within him. It was then he realized the artworks in his collection were essentially empty; for what he was seeking was not artworks, but the singing and dancing connecting him and all in the community as one. Soon after, Lester distributed his collection to museums for those less fortunate than himself to experience the life of the Dogon vicariously.

    Merton Simpson

    Merton Simpson was a black man born in 1928 in racially segregated South Carolina. Merton was a musician, painter and, after settling in New York, a world-renowned tribal art dealer.

    As a collector of tribal art, I met Merton in 1991 and over the years purchased a few objects he had on offer. More significantly, we became friends; that is, we were completely open in our talks; taking vicarious joy in each other’s tales and perspectives, without judgement.

    I did much of the talking as Merton was not a man of many words or paragraphs. Yet, Merton conveyed his feelings by laughing which is what he did much of our time together.

    Merton loved the physical experience of being alive. He loved looking at art, listening to music, eating and fucking. I could appreciate that.

    While in his day Merton was considered a top tribal art dealer, in his later years there was much talk about some of the objects he had on offer being of dubious authenticity. (Authenticity is the foundation of the collectible art market, without which art prices could not rise to as high as the sky. For if art was simply a visual experience, high quality “fakes” would be as valuable as authentic artworks.)

    Some in the field of tribal art collecting suggested that Merton’s “fakes” were not offered with malintent, but perhaps Merton with age lost his critical “eye” for identifying artworks that were “real” or “fake.” However, I suspect Merton evolved beyond these artificial categorizations. Merton came to simply enjoy and appreciate art things, as well as things generally, as there were, not as a function of how they were categorized or relative to other objects. He saw things not as this, that or another, but as is.

    In one of our many get-togethers, we looked at an African Nkisi figure, commonly called a “nail fetish,” to consider whether it was “real” or a “fake.” After some minutes, I asked Merton what he thought, to which he responded: “It is what it is.”

    That’s as God self-identified to Moses: “I am what I am.” Simply, Merton delighted at the light from the “Burning Bush.”

     

    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.

    Antiquities dealer in Jerusalem

    Some 25 years back, in the “old city” section of Jerusalem, I stepped into a shop selling antiquities. As I looked at various objects in glass cases, the owner of the shop introduced himself and said he’d been an antiquities dealer for more than fifty years, had dealt in very fine and desirable objects and was sure he had something I’d like. I told him I’d been collecting antiquities for some time and wanted to look around. He then asked: “What are you looking for.”  I replied: “I don’t know what I’m looking for until I find it.” To which he said: “In that case, you’re looking for nothing.” While not apparent to me at the time, ultimately he was right.

    Now, after many years of collecting antiquities and tribal art and generally living to pursue personal desires, eureka: nothing. Looking for nothing, desiring nothing; not because I have everything, but as I am the everything.

    Be Careful For What You Wish

    All our wishes come true but not in the forms we imagine.

    In 1973 I graduated from college and planned to start working, have a family and take a year at a Zen monastery when I reached 40, like Philip Kapleau who wrote The Three Pillars of Zen. At 40, my family and business partners would not have been encouraging had I taken a year-long sabbatical. However, at 43 my family and 140 friends threw a farewell party for me at the Harvard Club before I left for a 13 month stay at a Federal prison.

    What landed me in prison was my involvement in an “insider trading” case. I personally profited $50K. Legal fees cost me roughly $2M and fines and penalties another $1.8M. Moreover, I was no longer allowed to manage other people’s money, though all of my investors stayed with me until I was prohibited from working. As a result of my not being allow to work, my net worth today is not even a tiny fraction of what it would have been otherwise.

    I didn’t think that my trading was criminal. But others obviously did. In any event, the cost of going to trial, fines, penalties and the sanctions placed upon me undoubtedly were punitive to an extreme.  How do I feel? Pretty good as I play squash 4 – 5 times a week and I play with the prosecutor in my case. Why? Because I was born with the gene of happiness and the prosecutor is a wonderful guy, good squash player.

    I did learn something from this ordeal: best be careful what we wish for as every wish will come true but not in the form we imagine. While I didn’t go to a traditional Zen monastery, prison was a Zen monastery of sorts. It did provide an awakening moment.

    During my stay, my interactions with the other prisoners was for the most part fun. As well, I generously paid some to make my bed, clean the shower before I used it and make me foods like hand-cut French fries. The night before I left the prison, I asked a group of inmates whether they would miss me as we had a good time together. Seemingly in unison, they said no, because they hated me. I was a bit shocked. They said they hated me because I had such a good time. Maybe they needed a Zen monastery more than I did.

  • Images
    • “No tree… can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” Carl Gustav Jung

      As above, so below.”

    • This shaman figure, made of bone, is depicted wearing a hat with seven heads, presumably representing ancestors, historically important clan members or wise men. The heads are the shaman’s helper spirits or guides in the world underpinning the world of the living; the world before it’s tangible to our senses. The spirit helpers provide the shaman with multiple perspectives which is the essence of wisdom, the stock-in-trade of shamans. The triangular shaped head, pointing down and perfectly balanced on the torso, implies an open mind with no predilections. The figure has a disproportionally large head (40% of its entire body while man naturally is 14%), implying that, unlike others who use their physical body when working, the head plays an outsized role in the shaman’s work.

      Moreover, the figure is sexless as, unlike most work in tribal societies which is exclusively the domain of one sex or the other, a shaman can be male or female. As well, without sexual identity, the shaman’s perspective is unbiased, nondual.

    • At first sight, this object engaged my attention; great presence (which has not diminished with time), surreal, and enigmatic as it seemed to have an ambiguous utility function. Initially, I thought it was a hearing aid; the top inserted in the ear and the bottom the mouthpiece. Others have guessed it a spout for pouring wine or an implement used for snuffing out a candle. However, notwithstanding other creative uses, it’s a mini trumpet a shepherd would use to get the attention of another shepherd in the distance.

      Now, I see it metaphorically; a mouthpiece through which the breath of God enters a human head which processes the breath into sounds. The sounds are music. The sounds are signals, like words. An apt description of this blog as I, your humble writer, am just here to convert the breath of God into words for all to hear.

    • 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.

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

    • This contemporary, post-WWII, object describes the evolution of society from tribal peoples to the modern world. The social evolution is marked by the change from a group-centered to an individual-centered world. The base of the container represents the foundation of civilization, tribal peoples. The tribe members are connected as one in dance. The faces of the dancers are undifferentiated and their bodies unclothed, implying their essential selves. Each member is not an individual; they are the dance. As societies evolved, they centered around the head, the mind. The members’ heads surround the container, the mind, and are differentiated by facial expressions and hairstyles. At the top, the container’s lid, is a man sitting alone in contemplation, lost in thought. The man, now individual-centered, closes the container/mind and no longer connects to others as in the dance.

    • This 5500 year old female figure comes from the time before the dawn of the written word. Much has changed since then but perhaps men have not. The figure is depicted with eyes, nose, breasts and a vagina; but no mouth or ears. Perhaps that’s how most men like their women.

      More seriously, what this apparently sacred object (it is referred to as an “idol”) means is open to interpretation. Eye idols are almost invariably depicted with eyes only; no mouth, nose or other body parts. Perhaps that’s the nature of a presumably all-knowing deity, they observe and do not speak. As Lao Tzu observed more than 3000 years later: “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”

       

    • Thousands of these presumably votive “Eye Idols” have been found in a building now called the Eye Temple in Tell Brak. They depict a deity who observes the world but lacking ears and a mouth does not hear or speak. The deity’s view is pure, unadulterated by the words of others which could have the deity see the world as they would wish the deity to see it. Lacking a mouth, the deity knows but does not speak; implying that those who speak do not know and those who know do not speak. In the contemporary world, seeking enlightenment, some monks take a vow of silence.

      To view other eye idols, click here.

    • Kanako Iiyama

      In the Edo Period some believed that Fujiyama was a female deity and that by climbing the mountain one would be reborn, purified and able to find happiness. Today, most people are made happy by the mountain’s simple beauty.

      The pantheist star (on the waters below, reflecting the top of the mountain and the sun rising) informs us that everything we see is only one thing: energy in its infinite manifestations.

       

    • Kanako Iiyama

      Sunset, August 22, 2020, Kaizouji Temple, Kyoto, Japan.

    • From the flow we flower

      into a conscious island

      in a stream of consciousness.

    • As an abstract, non-representational, cylindrical sculpture, this artwork is referred to as an”idol.” Its solar eye suggests the universe is revealed by the light emanating from the eyes of God.

    • Our mind is quicker than our eyes in defining what we see. It’s funny when our eyes prove our mind wrong. Unfortunately, we rarely open our eyes; otherwise, much of what our mind sees would be funny.

    • The sun is always and all ways shining; always the same and all ways not the same.

    • This surreal 19th century Kongo fetish (an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit) depicts a bundle containing juju (magical substances that empower an object) from which a mirror-faced head with a feather atop emerges. When we look at the mirrored face of the object, we see ourselves. This suggests we are the fetish and the fetish works its magic through us. The feather protruding from the head suggests the mind of the fetish connects it to the spirit world;  that can take flight and see beyond the range of man.

    • 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.”

    • Kanako Iiyama

      Before midnight, August 1st, 2020, Awaji Island, Japan.

      Awaji was the first of a group of islands born from Izanagi, a creator deity in Japanese mythology.

    • Kanako Iiyama

      Koan 13

      Is it so?

    • The serenity of this mother goddess amulet from the dawn of civilization is reminiscent of certain sculptures of Buddha who arrived at the dawn of human consciousness.

    • 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.

    • Three years ago I was in LA in a shop that sells clothing and accessories. There I found the pendant in the photo above. Store manager said he had found it at a flea market and that it was a “Navajo star.”  While I’m not a jewellery kind of guy, the pendant was sufficiently engaging that I purchased it. Researching after, I couldn’t find a Navajo star like it or another  similar star. But that was of no matter as I liked the pendant as it was, regardless of any associations or stories that often accompany artworks. In time the pendant revealed itself as a symbol of pantheism, the view that everything is a manifestation of God.

      The pendant depicts two stars with a common center. The shorter star ends in points and the longer one ends in heads. The shorter star represents energy/light. The longer star represents matter. Energy and matter have a common center as they are equivalent (E=M*C*C). The common center is God; hence, a pantheist pendant

      The heads at the endpoints of the longer star represent consciousness; five heads, five senses. The longer star also appears like a “spread eagle” cheerleader pose, a celebratory pose.

      When we realize we are one with everything and one with God, we experience the world via our senses, not our mind. That’s something about which to celebrate.

      I’ve made 25 copies of the pendant and give them out to friends who would wear them. Three years later, I still have 15. I suspect none would be left had  I offered them for sale.

       

    • This whimsical, unique, rare dancing figure is not an iconic example of African art but one that is both inventive and allegorical. (For additional images of this figure, click here.)

      With its arms oversized and swaying and its legs bent, the figure is dancing. The arms are oversized as they would be in a slow shutter speed photo of  a dancer in motion.

      It is both male and female. But unlike hermaphrodite figures generally (which host breasts and a penis), this figure has a vagina, a male torso (no breasts) and an Adam’s apple. It is a man with female genitals, as in dancing celebrations in West Africa where males dress as females.

      Unlike this dancing figure which is rare, the majority of tribal art figures are standing, not dancing, and host a head that is disproportionately large relative to torso. This figure has a tiny head and long neck separating the head and the torso. The message it conveys is that when we are dancing our experience is physical and our heads play a disproportionally smaller role in how we experience the world.  A corollary is that when we are not physically engaged our experience is a function of our head.

    • This 5.9cm object is reputedly a charm used by a Siberian shaman. A shaman is a healer and diviner. The etymology of “shaman” is the Tungus root sā-, meaning “to know.”

      At first blush it looks like a maskette with a smiling or angry human face, spanning the gamut of human emotions. The empty or negative space within the outline of the face is greater than the lines that form the facial features. That suggests that what’s behind the face, the mind, is empty. With our mind empty, we are cured from much of what ails us and are free to see beyond ourselves, the future.

      Alternatively it looks like a woman’s body without a head; just a pair of breasts, vagina and protruding legs. For some men that would be the ideal woman as it would cure them of much of their woes.

    • This one-hand quartz watch is an entertaining timepiece.

      The watch’s one hand is gold-colored and emanates from a gold center disk, presumably the sun. The one hand is like a ray of sunlight whose movement reflects the passage of time. A full-circle move of the one hand represents the 24 hour day. Hence, the perimeter is crowded, allowing only markers that indicate time in quarter-hour segments. The day begins and ends at the lowest vertical point on the perimeter, the darkest hours. Other than the one hand and the markers, the watch face is a dark blue cover over the watch’s internal movements which is like dark matter; unseen but presumed to affect all that is seen.

      With one-hand indicating time, it is like a sundial. Like the movement of the sun’s golden rays is the movement of the watch’s gold-colored hand. However, sundials are the most primitive of time-telling machines and this watch, propelled by a quartz movement, is most modern.

      With a quartz movement, the watch accurately measures time with a monthly accuracy of 15 seconds, considerably more accurate than a mechanical watch. However, as it has no markers indicating minutes, reading the time indicated is a bit of guesswork with 5 minutes leeway. Ironically, the most accurate watch is also the least accurate watch.

      As reading the time indicated is a bit of guesswork, this watch is unlike mechanical watches which we read without thought. Reading time on this watch requires our attention, awakening us a bit, and each reading is like never before which is the nature of time. Moreover, as we cannot precisely read the time, we know we can never be completely certain  where we are in time.  Maybe we can’t be certain of other things as well. If so, best to go slow and not make choices impetuously. As well, we are unlikely in the same time-place as most other people whose watches are more in sync.

      The preceding is what I see in this watch, making the watch funny. Funny in that the watch allows very different views which are at odds. In looking at things I always find something about them funny. If not, I know I don’t know what I’m looking at.

    • Image of the soul created by artificial intelligence.

      The image suggests the soul is like a sun that our body shrouds in darkness. The soul represents love as it resides as does our heart in the center of our upper body. In the stillness of meditation, we realize our soul is but one of an infinite number of eternal stars (a universe of infinite centers) and our body (the personal self) is nothing but empty space.

    • Takeshi Fuji, photographer

      Shiga, Japan, 2/2/2022

      There are 8 million gods recognized in the Shinto religion in Japan, a number that in traditional Japanese culture is considered synonymous with infinity. Taisha (coincidentally, pronounced like my name, Teicher), is the oldest and biggest shrine in Japan where it is said that all the gods meet annually. This photo, not of the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, is metaphorically Taisha. It depicts a reflecting light path over water (coincidentally, “teich” in German is “pond”) and through a shrine to the sun god, the origin of everything. The sun god is seen rising over mountains and through clouds. The mountains are opaque, ignorance, which requires great efforts to climb above. The clouds are translucent, our mind which otherwise is what shrouds the light that is everywhere.

    • This symbol of Taoism reveals the essence of Taoism. Tao, in Chinese, literally means the (right) way. The Tao is the way, the nature, of reality; the way of the universe; and the harmonious way or path through life.

      The circle represents the universe. Within the universe are two seemingly independent abstract fish forms, in shades black and white, that are actually interdependent as curled together they form the universe as a whole. The fish represent life, consciousness, which is what makes the universe whole.

      Each fish has an eye, black or white, reflecting the shade of the other. Looking eye to eye, each sees its own shade in the other. Likewise, when we look in the eye of others, we see ourselves.

      The way through the life, along the interface of the white and black forms, is everchanging; bending left and bending right; requiring us to be conscious of our way, lest get lost in the white or black forms.

      Ultimately, the symbol of the Tao implies all things in the universe are interdependent; the path through life is everchanging; however, life is in balance, harmonious, when we consciously move between counterbalancing forms.

      Another interpretation is the symbol represents two animals engaged in a sexual position commonly known as “69.” If so, the message there is that a happy way to make it through life is simply enjoy yourself.

      As above, the Tao acknowledges there are different ways for different people.

    • An extraordinary genius is successful and celebrated by society. A true genius is happy whether or not they are successful or celebrated.

    • This Marquesas Islands personal adornment is made of human bone and often worn as a necklace, hair braid or used as a fan handle. It represents a generic ancestor deity.

      While the deity is in human form, the head is disproportionally large; implying the deity embodies far greater wisdom than humans. Likewise, its eyes are disproportionally large, implying the deity sees far more than mortals.

      Perhaps the presence of such an ancestor deity in physical form as a personal adornment humbles its owner, reminding them there is more to this world than they are capable of knowing and seeing. Humbled, the owner will not suffer the consequences of hubris.

    • What is true does not necessarily reveal the truth.

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  • Contact

    Vector A. Teicher

    vector@iawia.net

  • Kotodama

    Kotodama is a Japanese concept that refers to the belief in the spiritual power or essence inherent in words and language. The term “kotodama” is composed of two kanji characters: “koto,” meaning “word” or “speech,” and “tama,”meaning “spirit” or “soul.” Together, “kotodama” can be translated as “soul of words” or the “spirit of speech.”

    Kotodama originated from ancient Shinto and mystical beliefs which emphasize the sacredness and transformative power of language and words. Speech is thought to possess a spiritual energy that can influence the physical and spiritual realms. Words are the DNA of communication. Homophones, homographs, homonyms, heteronyms and etymologies can reveal the mystical aspects of human consciousness.

    Puns are more insightful than pundits.

    Kotodama 62

    Working at small companies is about business.

    Jobs in governments are about busyness.

    The difference between business and busyness is the difference between “i” and “y.” Companies are about self-interest: I. Governments are impediments to doing business as paper-hungry bureaucrats keep asking: why? Businesses ask a different question: how?

    Kotodama 61

    Each sense connects us to a facet of reality. Thoughts are senseless.

    Kotodama 48

    Heaven is “have-even,” where everyone and everything is even; one thing: the soul.

    The soul is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

    The now is also heaven when we realize we and all things are the soul.

    Kotodama 58

    Our eyes and ears can misinform us, but the nose knows.

    Kotodama 53

    When we remember every day is holy, every day is a holiday.

    Kotodama 52

    Those who can explain “what it?” have wit.

    Those who know “what is?” are wis(e).

    Kotodama 40

    Those who worship an idol are idle. They miss their divine purpose: to enjoy their self and its roles in life, realize divine consciousness and help others likewise.

    Kotodama 47

    You’re (what you are) not your possessions, thoughts and self-identities.

    Kotodama 44

    IIWhat IIWhatever IIs

    II-WII-WII

    Acronym: I why why

    Why do I exist? Why is the universe as it is?

    It Is What It Is Whatever It Is.

    Kotodama 50

    When we are our tale, the tail is wagging the dog.

    Kotodama 36

    Accepting and excepting is the essence of unity and duality.

    Kotodama 43

    As dogs chase their tails, we chase our tales.

    Kotodama 46

    In the eternal and endless universe, we are wee.

    Kotodama 39

    The holy is holey when some things are holy and some not.

    Kotodama 34

    The enlightened know light is the essence of all things; hence, all things are but one thing.

    Kotodama 33

    The inside of a circle: a hole.

    The inside and outside: a whole.

    Kotodama 31

    What we see is the sea, not the vast ocean beyond.

    Kotodama 30

    There is consciousness of the self and consciousness of the soul.

    Self-consciousness makes us self-conscious.

    Soul-consciousness is peace that comes from knowing all is sole.

    Kotodama 4

    When we are grateful, we are great-full.

    Kotodama 5

    The definition of passion is:

    emotion

    an intense or overwhelming feeling

    an outbreak of anger

    a strong desire for some activity, object, or concept

    sexual desire

    The etymology of passion is suffering.

    Kotodama 19

    What we hear is here. Sound is the presence of the now.

    Kotodama 28

    Hap (luck) is the root of happiness.

    Happiness is essentially realizing however difficult our current circumstances or role in life, we are lucky they’re not worse and lucky we still have a role.

    Kotodama 16

    The soul is sole.

    The soul is one thing; what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

    In the now, the soul appears as an infinite number of independent things. Yet, all things are a sole expression of the soul.

    Kotodama 26

    Good evening.

    Have a good time transitioning to sleep, where all are even.

    Kotodama 41

    The now is always and not all ways the same.

    Kotodama 27

    Good morning.

    Have a good time mourning the person you were yesterday, who is now no longer.

    Kotodama 15

    Things of like kind connect with kindness.

    When we recognize every thing is of like kind, an expression of the soul, we treat all things with kindness.

    Kotodama 58

    The sole of a foot is like the soul; the rarely seen foundation upon which we stand.

    Kotodama 14

    We win or lose, or we are one or lost.

    In the daily trials of the self, we win or lose.

    In the context of the soul, it’s one or lost; one with the everything or a lost soul.

    Kotodama 13

    “Sol” is the name of the Roman sun god.

    Light is the essence of all things, as is the soul.

    Kotodama 9

    Awareness is like clothing.

    It comes in two forms, “A-ware” and “B-ware.”

    A-ware is open and loose fitting. B-ware is closed and uptight.

    Kotodama 32

    Unlike adults, children are unadulterated.

    Kotodama 8

    When every day is everyday, we are oblivious to the everchanging now.

    Kotodama 6

    The everything is the no-thing and the now-thing.

    No-thing is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now-thing.

    Kotodama 18

    The two letters in the Hebrew word for “life” have a numerical value, in terms of their sequential order in the alphabet, of  8 and 10. Added together, they total 18. Consequently, in the Jewish world, the number 18 is symbolic of life. Acknowledging this equivalence, monetary gifts between Jews for various rites of passage (birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc.) are often given in multiples of 18 ($18, $54 (18 X 3), etc.).

    The number 18 also informs us about the nature of life, finite and yet eternal. The number 1 implies life is finite as the number is drawn from top to bottom, from the heavens to Earth, from birth to death. The number 8 implies life is eternal as, graphically, 8 is continuous, having no beginning and no end. We are a finite physical self and the eternal soul.

    The numbers 1 and 8 also reveal the nature of the everything in the now and how we can relate to every thing. The number 1 implies every thing is one thing, the everything, as the number 8 implies every thing is interconnected. Realizing we are all one thing, we treat every thing as we treat ourselves. That’s compassion. Moreover, our oneness with every thing allows us to view the world from innumerable perspectives. That’s the essence of wisdom. Wisdom and compassion are how a realized life is manifested.

    Kotodama 48

    “M” is a vessel with one bucket,

    “W” a vessel with two buckets.

    We can do more than Me.

    Kotodama 45

    No thing is forever, but nothing is forever.

    Kotodama 3

    Life is a present we receive when we are present.

    Kotodama

    Kotodama is a Japanese concept that refers to the belief in the spiritual power or essence inherent in words and language. The term “kotodama” is composed of two kanji characters: “koto,” meaning “word” or “speech,” and “tama,”meaning “spirit” or “soul.” Together, “kotodama” can be translated as “soul of words” or the “spirit of speech.”

    Kotodama originated from ancient Shinto and mystical beliefs which emphasize the sacredness and transformative power of language and words. Speech is thought to possess a spiritual energy that can influence the physical and spiritual realms. Words are the DNA of communication. Homophones, homographs, homonyms, heteronyms and etymologies can reveal the mystical aspects of human consciousness.

    Puns are more insightful than pundits.

    Kotodama 22

    No know is the beginning of “The Great Way” to know no.

    “The Great Way” is a Taoist concept of a path that leads to liberation from the self and the realization of the ultimate truth, our oneness with the everything.

    When we realize we don’t know any thing, we can begin to experience the now as it is; not as we perceive it in the context of our memories and stories. Then, we can come to know the nothing which is what every thing is before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

    Kotodama 24

    Hear here; when we dance to the sound of music we connect to the now.

    Kotodama 1

    Piece or peace is stress or serenity.

    As a piece of the universe, we are apart and separate from the other pieces. This is duality, the principal cause of stress.

    When we realize we are the universe, we are at peace.

    Kotodama 37

    I + Word = World

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” — John 1:1, The Gospel of John.

    Words were first transcribed symbolically, in cuneiform tablets, around 5,400 years ago. (This is after the start of the world according to the Jewish calendar which marks this year as 5,784.) It was then that man became god as man transcribed words and thoughts which in turn created the world as we know it now.

    Kotodama 20

    Every thing creates a duality, yet the everything is one.

     

    Kotodama 23

    Patients need patience, as time heals all wounds.

    Kotodama 11

    Ah, aha, haha, hahahaha.

    Ah, joy.

    Aha, the realization that joy is the purpose of life.

    Haha, laughing at the simplicity of this realization.

    Hahahaha, laughing at how silly we were not to have realized this earlier.

    Kotodama 17

    We are “i” or “I.”

    “i” is the small (underdeveloped) “I.”

    “i” is a short vertical line, or body, with a detached head above; implying separateness/duality between our physical and mental experience of the now.

    “I” is one long vertical line, the integrated body and mind; Axis Mundi, connecting heaven and Earth.

    Kotodama 55

    We have it backwards.

    A man’s best friend is not the material (dog) but the transcendental (god).

    Kotodama 7

    The present is the pre-sent, not the now.

    The pre-sent is what every thing is before it is what it is whatever it is in the now.

    When we are in the now, the now engages our attention.

    When we are present, we can see the entirety of the now and realize we are the consciousness that created the now.

    Kotodama 35

    “Real eyes realize real lies.” — Tupac Shakur

  • Haiku

    Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry characterized by its simplicity, elegance, and focus on capturing moments of beauty and inspiration in nature, inviting readers to contemplate the essence of existence and appreciate the transient beauty of the natural world.

    Haiku 71

    Time is like water,

    drink it or it evaporates.

    Haiku 86

    Every thing is two things,

    a reflection of light and a shadow.

    Yet, the source of the light is one thing.

    Haiku 91

    The light we see disappears in an instant

    yet the path of light is eternal.

    Haiku 90

    In the white light

    we are free to see things right.

    Yet our mind is like a prism

    that puts us in a prison.

    We see things as red, yellow or blue

    but that’s simply not true.

    Haiku 88

    The soul and the self are complimentary.

    The soul emits energy.

    The self absorbs energy.

    Haiku 86

    Every thing is two things,

    a reflection of light and a shadow.

    Yet, as each cannot be without the other,

    they are one thing.

    Haiku 85

    $38 can of paint

    brushed on a canvass, priceless

    spilled on the floor, worthless.

    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.

    Haiku 23

    Stars seem motionless, timeless.

    Only constellations tell time, near and far.

    Time of night, month of year.

    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 67

    Verbs are fluid, time passing.

    Nouns are imaginary moments frozen in time.

    Verbs are the now, nouns something else.

    Haiku 63

    Good or bad,

    wrong or right,

    left or right.

    What’s just black or white is colorless.

    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.

    Haiku 5

    There’s nothing new under the sun.

    All there is is the Burning Bush,

    ever-changing flames and eternal branches.

    Haiku 87

    As my self

    I see the world.

    As the soul

    I see the universe.

     

    Haiku 49

    Every eye is unique.

    Yet, the reflection of my face

    the same in every pupil.

    Haiku 48

    The universal mind is a reflecting pond.

    Each of us sits along its perimeter.

    One thing, many perspectives.

    Haiku 62

    When we forget from where we come,

    we know not where we are going.

    Not knowing what we are,

    we go the way of others.

    Haiku 3

    The mind is a reflecting pond,

    but do I see my true face

    as backward letters hard to read?

    Haiku 6

    So much depends upon

    five baby rubber ducks

    walking behind a red rooster.

    Haiku 65

    There is no fountainhead, river or sea

    just something flowing freely, whatever it be.

    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 21

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

    Relative to the now that is coming and the now that once was, the now that is now is so infinitesimally small that it can’t be seen.

    So we look to the now is coming and the now that once was.

    But all we see is the now we created.

    Haiku 59

    Gently rafting down river.

    Calm as the pulse in my veins.

    Rapids approach, pulse quickens.

    Haiku 58

    With the eye of the sun,

    we see things as they are.

    Yet our eyes see only illusions.

    Haiku 57

    Love from the soul connects all as a whole.

    Love from the self takes us into a black hole.

    Haiku 56

    Many see what looks to be

    the distant river flowing into the sea,

    yet what I see is me.

    Haiku 69

    I am eye

    a pupil studying the world

    filtered by the unique colors and patterns of my iris.

    Haiku 54

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

    no grape tasted like a grape.

    Haiku 53

    Our pupils are like stars and black holes.

    As stars like the sun, they reveal everything.

    Yet, whatever light enters them can never to be seen again.

    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 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 reflecting pond.

    Haiku 70

    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 be what we are without the soul.

    Haiku 72

    As my eyes can see,

    every thing I see looks beautiful.

    Seeing through my mind,

    few things beautiful.

    Haiku 73

    Before the now,

    before the world of form,

    the soul is whole.

    In the now

    the soul is countless forms and roles

    and we forget the soul

    until once again we become whole.

    Haiku 74

    We are temporarily on Earth,

    awaiting our turn to go to heaven.

    But there is no wait

    when we make Earth like heaven.

    Haiku 75

    I thought an ant infinitesimally small and meaningless,

    until I saw the night sky and realized I was.

    Haiku 18

    The light of the moon can guide our way.

    The light of the sun is the way.

    Haiku 2

    Bell ringing in the empty sky

    bouncing sound

    awakens me to time passing.

    Haiku 42

    There is many a way

    to a place far away.

    Yet the Great Way

    is here, not away.

    Haiku 41

    Holding something tight,

    our hand forms a fist.

    Letting go, it’s a handshake.

    Haiku 40

    A coin is integrity,

    its different sides duality.

    A coin is worth something,

    its sides worth nothing.

    Haiku 26

    Guru and I shared stories.

    His stories, histories.

    My stories, mysteries.

    So quickly, roles reverse.

    Haiku 22

    The mind is the night sky.

    Stars are events we remember.

    Imaginary lines form constellations,

    guiding our way at sea.

    Haiku 20

    The sun is rising and setting

    simultaneously and continuously.

    Day and night is about space, not time.

    Haiku 19

    Birth is fission.

    Love is fusion.

    Fusion is a greater explosion than fission.

    Haiku 17

    We come from a black hole

    arrive with a big bang

    make fireworks

    then turn into confetti.

    Haiku 16

    It is what it is whatever it is.

    What it is is of no matter.

    What matters is that it is.

    Haiku 72

    When past is passed

    it is over and under, finished and buried.

    When past is past

    it is over and over, hanging over the present.

    Haiku 9

    I am a vertical thread.

    You are a horizontal thread.

    We weave in and out, until we disappear

    and now a fabric is here.

    Haiku 82

    In the darkest moments

    the stars are brightest

    if we look to the sky.

    Haiku 82

    When I am me and you are you

    and I am you and you are me,

    we are the everything.

    Haiku 80

    In the box, like a jigsaw puzzle we’re one and whole.

    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.

    Haiku 7

    In the night sky,

    looking for constellations

    we notice few stars.

    Haiku 75

    An ice cube alone melts and evaporates quickly.

    Many ice cubes together, slowly.

    Haiku 65

    In the zoo, beautiful tigers and playful elephants.

    Strolling in their cages, we see their nature and ours.

    Haiku 1

    As the thirsty child

    drinks from the inkwell,

    his parents turn white.

    Haiku 12

    Fertilizer makes roses smell sweet and bloom.

    With too much, it’s stink and doom.

  • Wow

    Way Of Way 436

    “Now that I no longer desire all, I have it all without desire.”– St. John of the Cross

    Way Of Way 435

    “In the beginning…God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” —  Genesis 1:1-3

    Every thing subsequently is a derivative or an illusion.

    Way Of Way 434

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

    When we are grateful and love the now that is now, as our ancestors, the now that will be later is poised to bring us happiness; for when we are loving and grateful, we are filled with happiness.

    WoW 431

    Everything is in the now. Yet, when you miss something in the now, something is missing: you.

    WoW 426

    The messiah is here, but is hiding; yet, revealed through our acts of kindness to all, treating others as we treat our selves.

    Within each of us is the messiah, hiding behind our self.

    WoW 429

    “The Great Way” to liberation (awakening and enlightenment) is like the infinite paths of light that lead to the sun. Yet, “The Great Way” is unlike these paths of lights, as it is the realization that the light that’s here is the light that’s there.

    WOW 433

    “[C]ynic…a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing…a sentimentalist…is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.” — Oscar Wilde

    A cynic doubts the value of everything; hence, he accepts values based on market prices. For example, he accepts that a Rolls Royce is worth $400K because that’s the price at which a willing buyer and seller agree, regardless of the relative merits of the car or its cost of production. A sentimentalist values everything based on personal feelings and thoughts without regard to the reality of prices determined in the marketplace. For example, a sentimentalist might be unwilling to sell for $10K a ring received as a gift and replaceable for $1K.

    The cynic values things empirically, it is what it is whatever it is. The sentimentalist values things based on concepts and theories that rarely comport with reality.

    Successful traders are cynical. They tend to view the current price of something as the best predictor of its price in the immediate future. Thus, they buy and sell things based on price trends. As something is moving higher in price they buy more and more of it at higher and higher prices. When the price trend breaks, they liquidate their positions at whatever the prevailing prices. Thus they buy high and sell low.

    Successful investors are sentimental. They believe the value of something is a function of its relative value and cost of production. That belief allows them to continue buying something as its price declines while whatever they purchased previously is worth less than they paid. In this way they buy on average at lower prices. Likewise, as prices rise they sell. They buy low and sell high.

    Successful traders tend to realize greater returns over time than successful investors. Moreover, successful traders have a lover volatility of returns than successful investors. However, successful trading is simply more difficult a task than successful investing.

    From a political perspective, a cynic is the capitalist and the sentimentalist is the socialist. The cynic applies a cost/benefit analysis to government programs, while the socialist considers the benefits without the direct, indirect and opportunity costs of the programs. Moreover, the cynic perceives government programs as self-serving to those espousing and implementing the programs, while the sentimentalist views the programs solely in terms of their beneficial objectives. Essentially, the capitalist is rational and self-serving, while the socialist is an emotional do-gooder. Ultimately, the capitalist is frustrated by the socialist’s inability to see what the capitalist feels is common sense (economics) and the socialist feels that the capitalist simply “doesn’t get it;” that is, we all live in a community and need serve the community (high taxes) which in turn cares for its members (welfare).

    On a personal level, sentimentalists are emotional and cynics are practical; symbolically represented by fire and water. Fire hates and fears liquid water and tries to make it disappear by turning it into vapor.

    WoW

    The Way of the Way (WoW) is the nature of the way to awakening and enlightenment. The sound of “WoW” is made when we pucker our lips like when making a kiss.

    WoW 426

    Love that arises from the self is conditional love. Love from the soul is unconditional love.

    When we love a particular person or thing, that’s conditional love; that is, love conditioned on that person or thing being who or what they are.

    Unconditional love is love of everyone or thing as they are or as it is. Though there may be some people or things we don’t like, we nonetheless love them.

    Cosmic love, the nexus of conditional and unconditional love, is an orgasm.

    WoW 425

    As children we need to be loved, for we will surely die without the help of others who presumably will help us because they love us.

    At the end of days, we need to love everyone and everything, for otherwise we will surely die if we are not one with the everything.

    Way Of Way 421

    It is not the fittest (most able) or the fattest (wealthiest) who are most likely to survive; it is those who are finest at identifying changing environments and either adapting to change or changing their environment.

    Way Of 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.

    WoW 424

    It’s easy to equally divide a pie without knowing math, but impossible when you know the math of pi.

    Way of 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.

    As well, those 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 who “get it” might find themselves recruited for the most difficult roles, the roles of the ones who don’t.

    Way of 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.

    Way of Way 378

    Someone who asks a question wants to learn.

    Someone who has an answer wants to teach.

    Someone who asks you a question and provides you with an answer wants to sell you something.

    Way of Way 388

    In the Bible, Moses comes upon a Burning Bush whose flames are everchanging yet its branches unburnt, eternal. The Burning Bush represents God. When Moses asks God who God is, God responds: “I am what I am.”

    “Am” is not an “it,” but an “is.” God is not a noun; for if God is a particular thing, then God is not another thing; yet, God is the everything in the now. God is the most general of verbs (to be), the ever-changing and eternal now; the Burning Bush.

     

     

    Way of 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.

    Way of Way 405

    Life is a test to which 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.

    Way of Way 408

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

    Way of Way 386

    To the curious mind, awareness of its ignorance is bliss.

    Way of Way 385

    Desiring what we don’t have distracts us from appreciating what we have.

    Way of Way 385

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

    WoW, 429

    Talking about others, we are talking about our self; for the self creates the others.

    WoW 427

    As no one has ever complained about the night sky, the universe must be heaven and Earth must be hell.

    WoW 430

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

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

    Wow 428

    Ignorance is bliss; temporary bliss for those who think they know what they don’t and eternal bliss for those who are curious.

    Way of Way 384

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

    Way of Way 383

    Courtesy of Marc Faber, in a cartoon of a college class a professor asks the students: “Who hates the rich?” Everyone in the class raises their hands. Then, the professor asks: “Who wants to be rich?” Everyone raises their hands.

    Those who hate the rich, and yet want to be rich, hate themselves as they are not who they want to be.

    The truly rich are those who gratefully accept who they are and make the most of it.

    Way of Way 382

    The rich think the poor are lazy and the poor think the rich were just lucky.

    They are both right.

    Those who work 40 hours/week get paid accordingly and receive 40 lottery tickets. Those who work 60 hours/week receive 200 lottery tickets. Those who work 75 hours/week receive 400 lottery tickets. As well, the rich are more conscientious in checking their tickets for winning numbers.

    Way of Way 381

    The soul and the hole makes us whole.

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

    Way of Way 379

    Love connects us with the everything, while the self separates us from the everything.

    Way of 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?

    Way of Way 377

    Conditional love is loving 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.

    Way of Way 375

    All emotional states, other than love, are a form of selfishness. Love too is selfishness when it connects us with some things but not every thing. Soulful love is love of one thing: the everything.

    Way Of Way 374

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

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 371

    In the past and future are an infinite number of things. The now is only one thing.

    Way Of Way 370

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

    Way Of Way 367

    Fake artworks are real, but real artworks are often fake.

    Fake artworks are real, tangible.

    Real artworks are also tangible, but often trade at fake prices when they are priced multiple times higher than fake artworks that provide an experience indistinguishable from real artworks.

    Way Of Way 364

    The time before the now is the time before time, the place of infinite possibilities.

    In the now, we are the manifestations of those possibilities.

    When we realize each manifestation is everchanging and the now is forever unchanged, we can return to the time before the now.

    Way Of Way 362

    Awakening dispenses with boredom, as every moment is unlike another.

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 359

    The mind can be a dark place, when we don’t open our eyes and see the light.

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 384

    Money is a beautiful thing as it equates the value of all exchangeable things. Yet, money is often ugly in the context of our personal relationship with it.

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 353

    The goal of a man of wisdom is to make food of happy memories to feast on at the end of days.

    Way Of Way 352

    When you recognize God in every thing, that’s who you are: God.

    Way Of Way 351

    The mind is like a hand, only open when it lets go of whatever it holds tight.

    Way Of Way 350

    The mind is self-perpetuating. We need it to solve problems, but it creates more problems as it solves problems.

    Way Of Way 344

    Love expressed by the soul is unconditional, unlike love expressed by the self which is conditional.

    Love from soul is gold, while love from the self is fool’s gold. A simple acid test can determine whether love comes from the soul or the self.

    The test is how do we feel when someone we love engages sexually with someone else. If our love is from the soul, we are happy for them and for 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.

    Way Of Way 343

    Love is love. From where it issues is of little immediate matter as love is love.

    However, over time, love that flows from the self is temporary; at times running dry as it transitions into other emotional expressions. Love that flows from the soul is eternal, as the only emotional expression of the soul is love.

    Moreover, love from the self is conditional, while love from the soul is unconditional.

    Love from the self is proclaimed with “I love you.” Love from the soul is expressed as “We love you.” “We” are the gods. Those who don’t recognize everyone is god cannot love unconditionally.

    Way Of Way 342

    That upon which we focus our attention is seemingly real and in turn makes us oblivious of everything else about us. However, the seemingly real is but an illusion, as it is but a facet of the infinite and everchanging faces of one thing: God.

    Way Of Way 341

    Religions are like sheep.

    Their wool warms and protects us.

    Their bodies provide us sustenance.

    But, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    They may make us feel comfortable and safe,

    but their only interest is to sustain themselves.

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 339

    We don’t need to worry about the future as that will be what it will be. 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.

    Way Of Way 338

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

    Way Of Way 337

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

     

    Way Of Way 335

    The universe is made up of matter. Our world is made up of stories.

    Way Of 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.

    Way Of Way 156

    Much of what we undoubtedly think we see as reality is just a movie projected from our mind. To see reality we need to close our mind and open our eyes.

    Way Of Way 318

    In a world in which we can have innumerable pronouns, we’re allowed only one ideology.

    “According to the survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, 44 percent of those aged 25-34 think “referring to someone by the wrong gender pronoun (he/him, she/her) should be a criminal offense,” versus just 31 percent who disagree.” — Newsweek

    Way Of Way 316

    My purpose each day is to create the sound of people laughing, with me or at me. Either way, we are harmoniously connected and the world is a safe place.

    WoW 422

    While a lie may initially hide the truth, when the truth is revealed the lie ultimately reveals more than it hides.

    WoW 423

    Why I loved my father is why he hated me. I thought it was funny when he got angry, but he didn’t get the joke.

  • Koan

    Koans are paradoxical statements or questions used in Zen Buddhism to provoke deep contemplation and insight into the nature of reality and consciousness. By presenting seemingly illogical or nonsensical scenarios, koans challenge the rational mind and encourage practitioners to transcend dualistic thinking and directly experience the true nature of existence. Through prolonged meditation and reflection on koans, individuals may attain moments of profound awakening or enlightenment.

    Koan 83

    Eureka! All There Is Is Is

    (I have found it; all there is is is.)

    EATIII (pronounced as “80”)

    “8” has no beginning, no end; like an endless knot that twists and turns in every direction; like a vertical representation of the symbol of infinity. “0” is a hole with an inside and outside that seem independent, but are actually interdependent as one cannot exist without the other. Together, the hole is a whole. Simply, the universe is eternal, constantly changing and an illusion of separate things that are not separate.

    EATIII is a paradox. Eureka,* “I have found it;” yet there is nothing to be found as there is no it, as all there is is being and becoming; beyond description, other than it is what it is whatever it is. The search for an otherwise ultimate truth is a fool’s errand. As a hand cannot grasp itself, the seeker and that which they are seeking are the same – an interconnected oneness.

    The path to the realization of EATIII is suggested by a related word: heuristic. Heuristic refers to experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning, and discovery. It is the antithesis of learning from a guru or texts. This is exemplified by zazen meditation with eyes open looking at nothing.

     

    *The exclamation “Eureka!” is attributed to the Greek mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Archimedes (d. 212 BC). According to legend, he proclaimed “Eureka! Eureka!” after stepping into a bath and realizing that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the submerged part of his body. This simple insight provided the basis for solving the problem of measuring the volume of irregular objects. Excited to share his discovery, Archimedes leaped out of the bathtub and ran naked through the streets, shouting “Eureka! Eureka!” This story illustrates how the power of a small insight can move us to behave outside social norms or, perhaps, an unconventional view of everyday things leads to insights.

    Koan 82

    “He learns so much. When does he have time to know anything?” — Kotzker Rebbe

    Koan 4

    “Water is the face of fire.” — Kanako Iiyama

     

    On the surface, from moment to moment, all things seem like water, not to noticeably change. Yet, beneath the surface, all things are everchanging, like fire.

    While water as the surface of fire is unfathomable, the appearance of things is unlike their true nature.

    We see water and fire as mutually exclusive. Yet, they, like every thing, are one thing: different facets of the everything.

    Water appears in many shapes and forms and can be variously described. Yet, the essence of water is, as is the essence of every thing, light.

    What we see everywhere, but rarely notice as what it is, is light. Things are not things, just light reflecting off things. The things we think we surely see are reflections of ourselves.

    This koan was presented to Kanako as a family motto. It suggests the family interacts with others in a calm, nourishing and practical way (like water), yet at the family’s core are powerful emotions, like fire.

    Koan 81

    The enlightened find everyone and thing enlightening.

    Koan 79

    Before and after the now, there is no time.

    The now comes and goes in an instant, yet the now is eternal.

    Where is time?

    Koan 77

    As enlightenment is so simple, so obvious; it’s a joke that not everyone gets it. Though, like a joke, it’s not funny when it needs to be explained.

    “When a wise man points at the moon the imbecile examines the finger.” — Confucius

    Koan 76

    Only when you know what you are, you can appreciate who you are.

    Koan 38

    You are what you are. Who you are is subject to change.

    Koan 15

    Are you Earth, fire, air or water?

     

    Earth is physical.

    Fire is emotional.

    Air is conceptual.

    Water is practical.

    Koan 75

    When you know your self, you know all there is to know.

     

    To know the self you need see the self in its entirety. That requires escaping from the self. Without the self, there is nothing to know.

    Koan 74

    “Speech and silence are one and the same.” — Fuketsu Ensho

    Koan 69

    “Serving yourself is a form of idolatry.”  — Kotzker Rebbe

    Koan 72

    It has no name.

    It cannot be described.

    It is an illusion, but not when it is what it is whatever it is.

    What is is?

    Koan 9

    When we choose to be loved over loving, we will surely die.

     

    Love is the connectedness that dispels the duality separating what is our self and not our self.

    By loving, we exist not for our self but beyond our self.

    Free from the constraints of the self, we are joyous and realize we are eternal.

    Yet, there are many whose self is so powerful and controlling they rather be loved than loving; though no self is powerful enough to survive death.

    Koan 68

    “He who doesn’t see God everywhere isn’t capable of seeing God anywhere.” — Kotzker Rebbe

    Koan 63

    “Whoever gets angry, it is as if he worshipped idols” — Zohar 1:27b

     

    Getting angry at some one or thing presumes it has, like an idol, an independent existence. Yet, every thing is just one thing, the everything. God is the everything that is manifested in the now.

    Koan 71

    Love your self to escape from your self.

    Koan 62

    “The devil is in the details.”

     

    Without details, every thing is one thing: God.

    Koan 60

    Every “it” is an illusion, but the “it” that is the everything.

    Koan 30

    We see the it but not the is, though all there is is is.

     

    There are two forms of vision, foveal and peripheral.

    Foveal vision is the “it” we see when our eyes focus and create detailed images we describe as various discrete things. However, the “it” we think we see is but an illusion; as all things are everchanging, interconnected and interdependent. That is, every thing we perceive as a real and independent thing is but one unified thing, the everything in the now. As such, the illusionary “it” created by foveal vision is the antithesis of reality, as a discrete “it” per se implies duality (the “it” and not the “it”).

    Peripheral vision is unfocused. As such, what we see with peripheral vision is indescribable, the everything in the now. The function of peripheral vision is to arouse our attention to look for the presumed discrete “it” when peripheral vision senses changes in the relative motion of a presumed “it.” That is, peripheral vision is about the “is,” not the “it.” We can sense the “is,” but cannot see (to the extent we can describe) the “is”

    While peripheral vision is 98 – 99% of our visual field, we rarely notice peripheral vision as our attention is captured by the various temporary “it” things in foveal vision. Though illusionary, the “it” things we think we see and how we interpret them is our personal reality. With a countless number of people on Earth, there are countless personal realities; though only one true reality, the “is.”

    Koan 59

    How do you square a circle?

     

    You don’t.

    With only a compass and a straightedge (the tools of classical geometry), it’s impossible to square a circle (to construct a square with the same area as a given circle) due to the transcendental mathematical constant π (pi). That is, the space inside a circle is the the product of multiplying the diameter of the circle times pi. As pi is a transcendental number (an infinite, non-repeating decimal expansion), the space inside a circle is imprecise. The space inside a square is precise. Thus, as an imprecise space cannot precisely fill a precise space, one can never square a circle.

    Transcendental numbers arise naturally in exponential growth and decay processes and are used extensively in calculus, probability, and mathematical analysis. Transcendental is also the nature of the universe; infinite (eternal) and everchanging.

    Like trying to square a circle, the mind cannot precisely grasp or contain the entire universe. The mind, like a square, views things with words and thoughts that describe a universe as linear, logical and finite. Yet, the universe, like the space in a circle, is transcendental; infinite and everchanging.

    While our eyes tell us that the space inside a circle must be a precise measure; in reality, the precise space will never be known precisely.

    Koan 19

    “Crow with no mouth” — Ikkyu, 1394 – 1481

     

    Can a crow with no mouth caw? Does a crow with no mouth have a craw? Is a crow with no mouth a crow? A crow with no mouth is a crow with no mouth; it is what it is whatever it is.

    Crows are exceptionally intelligent birds. They can solve complex problems, use tools, and even recognize human faces. They are also highly adaptable and thrive in various environments. They are keen observers and can consider alternative strategies to realizing their goals. Crows represent wisdom.

    Wisdom cannot be conveyed with words. Hence, a crow has no mouth, as “he who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.” — Lao Tzu.

    Koan 58

    My parents were born after me. They were born just now, 98 light years from here.

     

    There is no time, just space; as every thing that was, is and will be happens at the same time but in different spaces.

     

    Koan 5

    There are more stars than grains of sand on earth. Am I smaller than a grain of sand?

    Koan 33

    Those who are enlightened are an illusion. Those who are enlightening are not.

    Koan 47

    What is calmer, the sea or me?

    Koan 44

    When we can’t identify what we are seeing, we are experiencing reality.

    Koan 34

    Enjoy your self, otherwise it might make you miserable.

    Koan 16

    Love makes all things one thing.

    Koan 13

    How can the now be infinitesimally small, yet contain an infinite number of things?

    Koan 12

    Is that so?

     

    The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

    A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

    This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

    In great anger the parent went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

    After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else he needed.

    A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market.

    The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

    Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

     

    This Zen koan, “Is that so?,” like koans generally, encourages self-reflection and the questioning of assumptions we hold without doubts. However, unlike other koans, it is unique in that it isn’t disguised as a paradox or absurd riddle.

    “Is that so?” Hakuin asks the girl’s parents to question their initial certainty that Hakuin fathered their daughter’s baby and their later certainty that he did not. Unlike the girl’s parents, we, the readers of this anecdote, know we don’t know who fathered the baby. Maybe the girl’s parents don’t know either.

    “Is that so?” simply suggests we consider things from many perspectives. That is the essence of wisdom. Wisdom leads us to conclude that perceived truths change (like the girl’s claim as to who fathered her baby) and that ultimately no thing is truly knowable. This is the same conclusion we come to when considering paradoxes and absurd riddles.

    Moreover, without wisdom, there is no compassion (as the girl’s parents carelessly ruined Hakuin’s reputation). Yet, Hakuin, a man of wisdom and compassion, is unfazed by how he is thought of by others; for he knows who he is, beyond descriptions and thoughts.

    As well, when we embody wisdom and compassion, we gracefully accept what comes our way and make the best of it.

    Koan 11

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

     

    Responded the Pope: “It depends on the size of the pin.”

    Responded the Zen master: “What’s a pin?”

    Koan 10

    “Does a dog have Buddha nature?”

     

    This is the first and perhaps most famous of 48 Zen koans compiled in the early 13th century in “The Gateless Gate.”

    To the question, the Zen Master Zhaozhou responded: “Mu.” Mu means “nothing.” However, the sound a cow makes (“mu,” pronounced “moo”) is perhaps what Zhaozhou meant.

    Few would disagree that a dog is a physical manifestation of a certain kind of thing. Unlike a dog, Buddha nature is ambiguous; variously defined in uncertain terms. Yet, those who know Buddha nature, do not know what’s a dog; for a dog is not an independent static thing. It is an interdependent and temporary facet of one thing, the everything in the now.

    The now is a manifestation of the soul, which is the everything before and after it is what it is whatever it is in the now. However, from the perspective of the now, the soul is nothing, mu. As every thing is the soul, it can only be said all things (such as, a dog and Buddha nature) are mu, nothing.

    Alternatively, moo, the sound a cow makes, is what every thing is in the now: energy in a form we can sense, but beyond certain description as every thing is everchanging. Thus, it’s a fool’s errand to considered whether a dog has Buddha nature.

    Koan 8

    What is it now?*

     

    One day, a Zen master with a clay pot on a wooden table before him asked several students: “What is this?”

    Some said it was a clay pot; another said that it was an artifact; another said it was an assemblage of clay and wood; and soon there were other perspectives as well. A lively debate ensued, while the Zen master shook his head and laughed. Then, a student approached the table and threw the pot to the ground where it cracked into many pieces. An audible silence enveloped the room until the student asked: “What is it now?” The silence again filled the room as some students were shocked and others embarrassed by the aggressive arrogance of the student who shattered the clay pot. Then, the silence was shattered by laughter from the Zen master and the student.

    The Zen master and student laughed as they recognized the other students were like the blind men in the “Ten Men and the Elephant” parable; each embracing their personal view without doubt; especially, their collective view of what breaking the pot meant in terms of respecting their Zen Master.

    A pot is a pot, temporarily; as all things are everchanging. It cannot be described, as it is different now than it was in the now before now. Moreover, the pot, like every thing, does not have an independent existence; it is, simply, a facet of the temporary expression of the everything. Ultimately, it is what it is whatever it is.

     

    *Courtesy of Bill Wisher.

    Koan 7

    What do we see everywhere but rarely notice?

     

    Light.

    Things we see are not things, just light reflecting off things.

    Moreover, the essence of things is light; for all things are energy slowed down by the speed of light squared (E=M*C*C is M=E/C*C; Mass is Energy divided by the speed of light squared).

    As all things are light, perceiving things as otherwise is an illusion.

    Koan 6

    What is a gateless gate?

     

    “The Gateless Gate” is a 13th century compilation of 48 koans. The koans are meant to guide the way to awakening and enlightenment. The Gate is what separates us from enlightenment.

    The title itself is a koan, a nonsensical paradox; for how can a gate be gateless?

    A gate implies a separation. The Gateless Gate separates who we think we are (the self) and enlightenment (that we are one with the everything). However, the Gate is an illusion, as the Gate is gateless. That is, but for our self, we are enlightened.

    The Gate is a creation of our self, the perception that we are separate from all that is not our self. Separation creates duality, the antithesis of enlightenment.

    Enlightenment dispels the illusory Gate (the self) which in turn dispels duality. Then, what remains is our oneness with the everything.

     

    The book explains its title: “The Great Way has no gate. A thousand roads enter it. When one passes through this gateless gate, he freely walks between heaven and earth.”

    “The Great Way” is the way to liberation (awakening and enlightenment) from the prison of our seemingly individual mind which is where the self resides. The mind creates descriptions, generalizations and stories that frame our experiences of the now, precluding us from experiencing the now as it is. The frame is the Gate. Liberation dispenses with the Gate as we realize the Gate is an illusion of our mind’s creation. The illusion is the conceptual duality of yin and yang, the mundane and the divine, the self and the other, subject and object, good and bad. Enlightenment is the realization that conceptual dualities are an illusion, as all things are interdependent and interconnected. That is, all things are but one thing.

    “A thousand roads enter it” suggests there are numerous approaches or paths that can potentially lead to enlightenment. That is, individuals have unique dispositions which may resonate more or less with different teachings, practices or roles in life.

    “When one passes through this gateless gate, he freely walks between heaven and earth” means that upon liberation one can move freely between dualistic concepts and directly experience the interconnectedness and oneness of all things, wherein all distinctions between things dissolve.

    The Great Way leads us to enlightenment, the realization that we are the everything. It is characterized by wisdom and compassion. As the everything, we can view the universe from infinite perspectives which is the essence of wisdom. Moreover, we treat every thing as we treat ourselves (compassion), for we are the everything.

    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 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 what I be,

    not what you think you see.

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

    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 different shapes (clouds, rivers, oceans) and forms (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 essential to life, water also brings 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.

     

    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 (the 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/duality. Yet, it also implies enlightenment is a state that is lighter than air, unaffected by fundamental rules of gravity (everyday reality), 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.

    Koan 22

    Now is forever. Everything else is out of time.

    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.

    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.

    Koan 20

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

    Koan 78

    Every thing is forever changing, but the everything is forever unchanged.

    Koan 14

    “There is nothing new under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes

     

    In the now, the only constant is change; yet, the now is eternally unchanged.

    What seems new are things that are changing; yet, things are not things, just illusions as all there is is the everything.

     

     

     

    Koan 43

    The now is always the same, always new.

    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 an infinite number of seemingly 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.

    Koan 45

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

    Koan 18

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

    Koan 46

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

    Koan 35

    A objective description of reality lacks a sense of reality.

    Koan 9

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

    Koan 26

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

    Koan 80

    God is the everything, but rarely noticed in every thing.

    Koan 28

    The sun is always and all ways shining; always the same and all ways not the same.

    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.

    Koan 82

    When the inside becomes the outside, we experience creation.

    When the outside becomes the inside, we become the creator.

    Koan 36

    Judging someone reveals less about who they are than who we are.

    Koan 42

    Experiencing the everything precludes us from describing it.

    Koan 37

    While we are naturally eccentric, it’s difficult to be eccentric.

    Koan 21

    Why can’t a vegetarian become enlightened?

    Koan 40

    There are those who experience life very differently than others, but know they are not different which is what makes them different.

    Koan 70

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

    Koan 67

    “If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!” — Kotzker Rebbe

     

    When Moses encountered God in the desert, Moses asked God who he was. God said: “I am what I am.” That is, God is indescribable because God is the everything. Any other description implies God is one thing and not another; the antithesis of God.

    If I am what I am and you are what you are, I and you are God. Hence, I treat you accordingly, as I treat myself. However, if I define myself in terms of what I am not (you), I am not God.

    Koan 66

    The mind is always open and often closed.

    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.

    Koan 65

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

    .

    Koan 64

    The more you look the less you see.

    Koan 50

    We are all unique and the same, simultaneously.

    Koan 49

    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” — George Bernard Shaw

    Koan 48

    “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.” — Voltaire