sink deep down into yourself

So.   The atoms in a human body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space.
But is space really “empty”?
Bob O’Hearn echoes the ancient sages – Eihei Dogen comes to mind – in reminding us that what we think of as “empty space” is in fact vibrantly conscious, aware, and synonymous with the pristine and timeless awareness that is the bottom-line of our Being.  And – crucially – that one can know this irrefutably, for oneself and by oneself.

 

Just take the dive.

 

Sink Deep Down Into Yourself - Bob O'Hearn

 
 
Sink deep down into yourself, passing through flesh and bone, blood and water, nerves and electrical impulses, cells and molecular structures, atoms, and between atoms, immense empty space, conscious space, pristine awareness without gender, race, age, affiliation, belief, identity — our fundamental nature, nameless, formless, yet the basis of all names and forms, all life, all worlds.

Within this vast spaciousness, which has neither ceiling nor floor, nor any boundary or circumference, something appears. Immediately, attention flows out of itself and merges with that manifestation of itself, in the same way a cloud might appear in the midst of the empty sky, or a wave on the ocean, until we forget about the sky, or the ocean, in our effort to grasp at the cloud or wave. By habit, we grant these objects of consciousness a substantial and independent existence apart from their basis, identifying with them to the point that, when they inevitably vanish back into the space from which they originated, we tend to suffer a sense of loss.

Just so, this essentially cloud-like and transitory matrix of memory, thought, and perception which we generally regard as me, myself, and I spontaneously manifests within the spaciousness as a play of the spaciousness itself, except that we then imagine it to be our exclusive identity, and consequently squeeze the vastness down into this fragile formation of bubbling elements which we want to somehow persist forever, even though it never will, and so in its inevitable vanishing we tend to suffer a sense of loss.

Our friends and relations may gather around a glazed box of stuff which we once took to be our self. As it is lowered into the ground or rolled into the crematorium, some tears may flow, because the spaciousness took back what it made, leaving memories which too will fade, and eventually it will be as if it never was, and that much will be true — no praise or blame, no lingering regret: a wave arose, an ocean swell, it subsided again like a night’s brief dream, and all is well and will always be, in the empty sky of eternity.

– Bob O’Hearn


 
Sourced from Bob’s Facebook page.
Bob also writes on several blogs. Here are links to a couple of favourites:
the conscious process
feeling into infinity
Thank you dear friend.
 


 

memo to earth species H. sapiens

Let us find our place:   on our knees in awe, wonderment and humility.

 

Earth, Jupiter and Venus seen from Mars

 
Consider that:

– You can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum.

– As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy.

– 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you.”

– The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star.

– Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.

– The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist.

So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it.

This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.
 


 
Source: NASA Lunar Science Institute

Image: Earth, Jupiter and Venus, seen from Mars

Thanks to: love is a place
 


 
I posted this to Facebook a year ago.  It’s been circulating again recently and since many readers of this blog don’t ‘do’ Fb I decided to share it here as well.   It’s a keeper.
 
PS:
Where, in this whirling mix of cosmic biomaterial and activity can a solid, changeless self be found?  If such an entity can’t be found, what KNOWS this?
 


out here

Out Here - Chuck Surface
 
 
I like it out here, where no one can see,
Far from any notion of myself.
Here, I am no one, and yet, I Am.
 
 
Out here I am Unclothed.
Can you imagine the Delight,
Leaving that scratchy garment behind?
 
 
Out here no intercessor stands,
Between the arising and the arisen,
Between Heaven and Earth.
 
 
Out here I am far away,
From the raucous din and clamor,
Of the spiritual bazaar.
 
 
“Shhh!” We don’t debate out here,
Where “Truth” is a word,
In a land where no language is spoken.
 
 
Out here I care nothing,
For what others think of what I think,
For I care nothing of what I think.
 
 
Out here thought and feeling arise,
Only thinker and feeler are lost,
And the River Flows, undammed.
 
 
What Rapture, out here,
Where I Exist without existing,
In the Answer to every Prayer ever uttered.
 
 
What a Blessing to discover,
Out here,
In Here.
 
 
– Chuck Surface
 

And there was endlessness

The wholeness of undivided, intimate attention – an awareing that has no boundaries, no sense of separation, where observer and observed are both obliterated in a single movement of observing – is the subject of one of Denise Levertov‘s last poems, First Love.  The whole poem is sublime, but the final few lines speak so powerfully to me that I’m singling them out for this post.

It seems to me that one taste of that timelessness changes everything. This is not some cunning escape into yet another thought-bubble; not some desperate effort to transcend one’s mediocre little life. This is an experienced glimpse of another order of relationship. Haven’t we all had this glimpse? For me, it took hold of the steering wheel and has driven the trajectory of my life.

Through the entirety of your lifetime, what is it that you’ve deeply desired?

What has been – is – the Great Motivator of your days?

 

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)

 
 
[…]

`Convolvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.

It looked at me, I looked
back, delight
filled me as if
I, not the flower,
were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlesness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness
of that attention,
that once-in-a-lifetime
secret communion.

 

– Denise Levertov, from First Love
 in This Great Unknowing, Last Poems

 


Painting by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Morning Glories (Convolvulus)


 

now is the time

Sometimes a poem demands a visual counterpart; sometimes an image demands a poem; occasionally the symbiosis is stunning.  

This much-loved poem from Hafiz paired with Scott Morgan‘s sublime photograph delivers me to a View that is boundless.  

I dance there, breathe there, and I am grateful for this Grace.

 

Photograph by Scott Morgan

 

Now is the time to know

That all that you do is sacred.

 

Now, why not consider

A lasting truce with yourself and God.

 

Now is the time to understand

That all your ideas of right and wrong

Were just a child’s training wheels

To be laid aside

When you finally live

With veracity

And love.

 

Hafiz is a divine envoy

Whom the Beloved

Has written a holy message upon.

 

My dear, please tell me,

Why do you still

Throw sticks at your heart

And God?

 

What is it in that sweet voice inside

That incites you to fear?

 

Now is the time for the world to know

That every thought and action is sacred.

 

This is the time for you to compute the impossibility

That there is anything

But grace.

 

Now is the season to know

That everything you do

Is sacred.

 

– Hafiz

 


Today, by Hafiz. From the The Gift: Poems of Hafiz as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky.

Image: Scott Morgan – www.thissimplegrace.com


 

pointers can be perilous

Perilous?  Why?  Because it’s so easy to forget that so-called ‘pointers’ are made-up stories that never tell the whole story; they can never open up the whole view.  Why?  Because, like all thoughts, they are limited.  They may be briefly effective as an antidote to another outworn concept; they may shift our focus to a new story that seems to expand our understanding.
But mostly they just fizz around in their own isolated and fragmented way like mental bullies, ostracising other idea-bubbles that dare question their superior understanding.  What’s more, pointers can easily become addictive.  How?  Unless they are seen for what they are, they play right into thought’s conviction that there must be One Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
(Thought wasn’t satisfied with ’42’ for long. LOL)

Pointers should come with a warning: Beware, extended habitual usage may cause blinkered vision.

Hanabusa Itcho: Blind Monks Examining an Elephant
With her characteristic penetrating insight, Joan Tollifson reminds us that no matter where we find ourselves right now in our exploration of existence, we can only be aware of a nano-portion of the immensity of aliveness:  “Nothing is just one way.”

Joan writes:

Very often, people read or hear something—and this pointer triggers a profound insight or shift for them.  Something opens and clarifies.  They see the truth of what is being pointed out.  But then, very often, they fixate on the pointer and make it into a dogma.  I see people do this all the time with a number of popular pointers: the idea that there is no choice, the idea that there is no self, the idea that there is nothing to do and no one to do it and therefore any practice or exploration (such as meditation or inquiry) automatically reinforces the false self, the idea that there is no such thing as awareness, the idea that awareness is the ultimate reality, the idea that there is no way to describe the living reality and therefore anything anyone says (other than that) is false and should be dismissed, and probably a few others I’m not remembering at the moment. Each of these ideas points to a truth (or an aspect) about the nature of reality that can be directly realized. The mistake comes when people fixate on the pointer and land on one side of a false, dualistic, conceptual divide (choice or no choice, self or no self, practice or no practice, effort or effortlessness, something to do or nothing to do, something that survives death or nothing that survives death, the world is real or the world is unreal, and so on). 

Pointers are useful, but they become a hindrance when we fixate on them and turn them into fundamentalist dogmas.  It’s easy to see this tendency when it shows up “out there” in fundamentalist Christianity or fundamentalist Islam, but it’s harder to see it in ourselves.  We think we’re beyond all that.  But I see this dogmatic fixation and fundamentalism happening all the time in the nondual subculture.  We fixate, for example, on the notion that there is no choice, that everything is a choiceless happening, that there is no individual chooser.  This is a very liberating discovery, a profound insight. But it’s only a partial truth—reality itself can’t be boxed up that way.  And if we fixate on that as the whole truth, then if anyone dares to speak of “choosing” in any way whatsoever, we instantly pounce.  Wrong!  We tell them. We don’t listen anymore to what the person is actually saying.  Our mind has already been made up.  We’ve landed. We’re stuck on one side of an imaginary divide, identified with a particular formulation, ready to defend it to the death.  I’ve certainly seen this tendency in myself at times—it’s quite human.  It’s how the mind habitually works.

Some people look at the list of recommended books that I include on my website and wonder how on earth I can reconcile such seemingly opposite viewpoints.  As I say at the top of that page, “This list includes books from a variety of different perspectives, and in many cases, they may seem to contradict each other. Some of them say that life (including you and your whole spiritual journey) is nothing but a dream-like illusion, while others say this present happening is all there is.  Some insist that there is nothing to do other than exactly what is happening, while others offer some kind of apparent process, practice or method for waking up.  Some seem to suggest that “you” have the power of choice, while others say that everything is the result of infinite causes and conditions and that there is no one apart from this whole happening to direct or control it.  Some say liberation is found in the realization of complete impermanence while others insist it comes with the recognition of that which never changes.  Who has it right?  What should you believe?  No words or concepts can capture reality.  Maps are useful, but they can only describe and point to the territory itself.  Eating the meal is what nourishes you, not reading the menu.  Take what resonates and leave the rest behind.  Don’t believe anything you read, but instead, question, look, listen, feel into it, and see for yourself.  The book that wakes you up one day may lull you to sleep the next. Always be ready to see something new and unexpected.” 

I want to encourage all of us to stay open to new possibilities, to seeing things in a new way, to questioning our assumptions and conclusions.  It’s easy, especially if you’ve written Facebook posts or books or been teaching something one way for twenty or thirty years, to feel uneasy about seeing things differently or changing your mind!  How will that look?  What will people think of you?  But who cares?  In fact, this living reality is no way in particular.  It is ever-changing, evolving, dancing, vibrating, unfolding—while at the same time never leaving Here-Now.  It never resolves into some final package, some ultimate formulation. There is no finish-line on this pathless path from Here to Here, no definitive model or map that captures reality. What all true pointers are pointing to is the living reality, and the living reality is ALIVE—fluid, spacious, open, ungraspable.  It’s not frozen or solid or one way only.  It can’t be pinned down.  To take but one example, unlike the picture of it in an anatomy book, the living breathing human body is porous, ever-changing, moving, pulsating, oozing, circulating, being born and dying moment to moment at every level, and utterly inseparable from its so-called environment.  It is more like a verb than a noun.  No map is the same as the territory it describes.  Whatever we say (choice or no choice), it can never capture the ungraspable, unresolvable, indeterminate, living totality that it attempts to describe.

Sometimes everything opens up when we hear a teacher say that there is nothing to do.  And at another time (or for someone else), everything opens up when we meditate or engage in meditative inquiry of various kinds.  Sometimes formal meditation is helpful.  Sometimes it becomes a hindrance.  Sometimes we need to hear there is no choice, and sometimes we need to hear that there is a choice.  Nothing is just one way.  A good teacher pulls the rug out from under wherever we try to land.  If we assert there is no choice, they push us to see how there is.  If we insist there is a choice, they point out that there isn’t.  We can’t pin them down.  They don’t fixate.  They don’t offer rugs to stand on—they pull all the rugs out from under us.

There’s a great Zen story in which the teacher and student have been talking late into the night, and finally the teacher tells the student it’s time for the student to leave and go back to his sleeping quarters.  The student opens the door and says, “It’s very dark outside.”  The teacher offers the student a lighted candle to find his way home.  Just as the student receives the light, the teacher blows it out.

www.joantollifson.com
This piece was originally posted on Joan’s Facebook page; it is shared with her kind permission.


I can’t help but think of the parable of the blind men and an elephant, which, according to Wikipedia, “originated in the ancient Indian subcontinent, from where it has been widely diffused.”  It tells the story of six blind sojourners that come across different parts of an elephant in their life journeys.  In turn, each blind man creates his own version of reality from that limited experience and perspective.

John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) penned a poetic version called Blind Men and the Elephant:

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!


Poem source

Image: Hanabusa Itchō (英 一蝶, 1652 – 1724), Blind Monks Examining an Elephant, Ukiyo-e print.
Source


the joy of dying

Today is the 4th day of the 4th month and 9 years since my mother breathed her last at 4am.

Two Miriams, Hervey Bay QLD

This little blog was created to express my gratitude for her wondrous wideawakeness and wisdom; she was a priceless teacher for me. Her lessons – lived in her everyday life – deepen and mature in me as the years go by.  She gave us 97 years of her presence.  Even on her deathbed she was wide-eyed and full of praise for everyone.

This year I’m moved to share words from two teachers she’d have loved for their open-hearted honesty, warmth, sweetness, and for their radiant wisdom: Joan Ruvinsky and Robert K Hall. Joan was speaking shortly before her death. Robert is still with us, but his departure is immanent.


 

just this… in all its simplicity…
welcoming what is here already…
not coming… not going…
obscured even by seeking…

So we meet in the paradox of apparent teachings, retreats, trainings or gatherings, to celebrate and explore this nameless presence that we are.  At first, there is the tendency to accentuate the myriad of practices the yoga tradition has developed, to focus on concepts like nondual, true nature, awareness, self-inquiry or other-inquiry.

But all this activity eventually leads us to a giving up.  And in this surrender what is revealed is seen to be what has always been here, before the search began, during its full intensity and after its cessation.  The task turns out to be ceding to stillness, and in that stillness the recognition of just this.

Falling back and resting in what is so familiar that it has been overlooked during all the body sensing yoga, during all the pranayama, all the yoga nidra and amidst all the dialogues, amidst life itself, we find our self simply sinking back into just this.

Joan Ruvinsky

 


 

Letting go is not an easy process, especially how much I’m enjoying life, surrounded by so much love and people who take good care of me… I have talked at length about my experience and difficulties about the dying process… today I’d like reflect on the positive side and share my experience about the joy of dying…

Robert K Hall

 

This short talk (8:07) expresses so much warmth, love, joy and presence, it will melt your heart.
For more videos and audio teachings: Robert K Hall Dharma Talks


From the archives:
grief is a shower of grace
the gift of grief

here is where the vista opens
the cosmic chirp