I could have been a cloud on Jupiter

When the inevitability of one’s life-package and its path becomes evident and one realises that nothing could possibly be other-than-it-is, the sweetest awe and appreciation flood into the space left empty by the imaginary controller.  It’s often misunderstood, this disappearance of the doer, and explained away with all manner of hypothetical imaginings. Actually, it isn’t understandable or able to be conceptualised by means of any erudite definition or name.  Best then, to leave the labels alone and keep silent unless confessing one’s own experience.  

Wislawa Szymborska’s poem didn’t fall from my own pen, but it expresses to perfection the astonishment and gratefulness I experience as I reflect upon the wondrous “coincidence” of the life-pack I call mine.  This is probably my favourite poem of 2017.

Clouds on Jupiter photographed by NASA's Juno


I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.
Nature’s wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.
I didn’t get a choice either,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I’d prompted only fear,
or pity?
If I’d been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.

– Wislawa Szymborska


Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska

Photograph of clouds on Jupiter, courtesy of NASA.


on saving your own life

shining river


On Saving Your Own Life – November 19, 2009

Yes, it’s a paradox.  You’ve fallen into the wild knowing that the life you thought was ‘yours’, isn’t.  It isn’t yours any more than the rise and fall of your overlooked breath.  You are awake to your wild awakeness.  Well, occasionally.

And yet.

And yet the choices involved in being alive and healthy don’t go away.  It’s a lie to assert that they do, and a trap to believe that they should.  Every minute of every day choices are being made – in most cases, unconsciously.  Patterns of conditioning are playing themselves out, tirelessly.

Wild awakeness – effortless awaring – has a knack of bringing robot-mind into focus.  There’s a glimpse of the old reflexes groaning on.

And at that precise point a nanosecond window of opportunity opens – the story can change.

The ‘I’-stream, the lifestream, can flow in a fresh and unknown course.

(‘I’-stream?  Lifestream?  This language is being invented as writer-mind moves into ineffable territory.  These terms imply something utterly non-personal.  And yet wholly You.)

Life has no agenda other than its ongoing health, wellbeing and survival.  It knows the score in these matters.  And it knows when to withdraw its resources and start over.  That can be pretty tough love.

But for those of us in whom Life still has an investment, the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.  It scares us witless to ponder the ultimate unselfishness of Selfishness.

Yet Life has an awesome way of looking after itself once efforts to contain and control it are deconstructed.  Notions that life needs saving act to build a mega dam across its path – a dam that generates dis-ease and stagnation.

The paradox is only apparent: whatever you choose – whatever – is the movement of Life as it branches, eddies, streams, dances, disappears underground, springs forth, tumbles, flattens out in depression, rages, murmurs, merges, evaporates … while it pretends to be You.

– ml

I wrote the post above almost six years ago. It was early on in the life of this blog – only a few months after the departure of the beloveds whose care and wellbeing had been the focus of my life for the better part of a decade. My health was in tatters. I was receiving treatment for chronic fatigue and was enduring the nightmare of paroxysmal vertigo and nausea. I was slowly learning how to look after ‘my own self’ again.

The vertigo revisited last weekend, severe enough to warrant a little holiday in hospital. On the other side of the experience, I marvel at the way these words remain as relevant as when they were penned. I’m reposting them to remind myself that “the toughest love turns out to be Self-love.” With the world spinning and the stomach heaving it’s easy to overlook the Shining Self. Yet it’s right here, whirling like a dervish, inviting me to release, relax, weep, disappear altogether into its subterranean womb – into Rio Abajo Rio – the great river beneath the river of the world.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes,

Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them.

I would add that we can also arrive there unintentionally, unexpectedly, delivered by grief or illness or any experience that knocks us out of our ‘normal’ sense of self, and that our arrival is always the necessary Grace for the deepening and widening of Love’s embrace of Itself: the ultimate Selfishness.

Image by Reuters from Google.


in praise of the wayfaring life

I have been a wayfarer for the better part of my adult life. There’s something in these genes that finds life on-the-road ease-full and natural – and frankly, more alive than staying in one place.

There are two types of men in this world:
those who stay home, and those who do not.
– Rudyard Kipling

Perhaps, as Bruce Chatwin speculated, we carry either the Abel gene or the Cain one. We settle and farm like Cain, or we wander and gather like Abel. (I’m keeping my hands off the rest of the Biblical story about these brothers and their weird experiences with the God-bloke.)

I’ve often had cause to wonder why those why are inclined to stay-at-home (apart from very well-planned vacations) tend to consider their wandering siblings in a lesser light.  Ask any frequent traveler – even those who travel as foreign correspondents and have incredible stories to share. They inevitably report that upon arrival ‘home’ few folk will ask them about their trip. No one wants to listen; they would rather talk. All they want to know is when one is planning to ‘settle down’.

I have been without a home for the last nine months. It wasn’t planned that way. Now that I am about to move into my own burrow again I can’t help but notice nods of satisfied approval. A little post scribbled itself down. It’s dedicated to all who follow the call to wander.


“Wherever you go, there you are.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) It’s a delicious statement, one which never fails to remind me that the wonder of Being that I is/am is inescapable.  What a relief – I can neither lose myself nor can I find it. Ever.

Yet the same statement is often trotted out as a kind of admonition, as though one ought to stop, constrain oneself, stop exploring, stop following the heart’s call or the soul’s whisper or whatever imperative it is that pulses through the veins insisting that it’s time to go. As though moving is somehow sinful, a problem, a defilement about which one ought to feel guilty. As though the ‘you’ that goes is running away and must be faced, tamed and contained. As though it must fit within a  prescribed pigeonhole  and act predictably – for your own good of course.

Well my version of the ‘you’ that goes is much bigger, braver and authentic than that. It can’t be corralled. (If it is, it will quickly wither and fall ill in body, mind and spirit.) It can’t be tamed or even schooled. It’s the you that’s ubiquitous, revealing Itself in every facet of experience. It adores meeting Itself wherever it goes; it never tires of the fresh and the fantastic, no matter how challenging. It sniffs the wind and scans the horizon and instinctively knows how to proceed, how to survive and thrive. It follows no fashion, hoards nothing ‘in case’, keeps no keepsakes and delights in the unknown.

The beloveds who stay at home are following their own imperative and I have no interest in changing it – for the ‘you’ that stays at home is no different from the ‘you’ that doesn’t. But it’s pointless to believe a judgmental story about how those who wander are ‘running away’. They will go anyway. It’s an imperative. It just may be that they are running with the wild wideawakeness that they are, and that they know it.

Whether we go, or whether we stay, it makes no difference to the choiceless Awareness shining through all experience, whatever the imperative.


blog maintenance has prompted a new page

When I launched this little blog three years ago I was clueless as to how to organize its contents – I didn’t even have a clear idea what would be written or included. All I knew was that there was a compelling movement to present material relevant to the enduring theme of nondual divine light | pristine awareness | mystical luminosity.

Re-reading the posts recently as I edited the code on some, I saw how they could have been more usefully grouped, and the categories better defined. So I decided to do a bit of reshuffling, hoping that items of specific interest to readers can be more easily accessed. (The search box – lower right sidebar – is also handy for tracking specific topics.)

This new page, located in the menu bar above, presents an overview of the new groupings:

the categories

You can go to a separate page listing each individual category’s posts, by date, by clicking on the title.

I hope this is helpful – let me know what you think!

~ ml