the ten thousand things

To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.
– Eihei Dogen

If one is very fortunate indeed, one comes upon – or is found by – the teachings that match one’s disposition and the teachers or mentors whose expression strikes to the heart while teasing the knots from the mind. The Miriam Louisa character came with a tendency towards contrariness and scepticism, which is probably why she gravitated to teachers who displayed like qualities.  It was always evident to me that the ‘blink’ required in order to meet life in its naked suchness was not something to be gained in time.  Rather, it was clear that it was something to do with understanding what sabotages this direct engagement.  So my teachers were those who deconstructed the spiritual search – and with it the seeker – inviting one to “see for oneself.”  I realised early on that I wouldn’t find any help within traditional spiritual institutions since their version of awakening is usually a project in time.  Anyway, I’m not a joiner by nature.

I set out on my via negativa at an early age, trying on all kinds of philosophies and practices with enthusiasm and casting them aside –neti neti – equally enthusiastically.  Chögyam Trungpa wised me up to “spiritual materialism” in the 70s;  Alan Watts followed on, pointing out that whatever is being experienced is none other than ‘IT’ – the unarguable aliveness that one IS.  By then I was perfectly primed for the questions put by Jiddu Krishnamurti – “Is there a thinker separate from thought?” “Is there an observer separate from the observed?” “Can consciousness be separated from its content?”  It was while teaching at Brockwood Park that I also had the good fortune to engage with David Bohm in formal dialogues as well as private conversations.  (About which I have written elsewhere.)

Krishnamurti and Bohm were seminal teachers for me;  I also loved the unique style of deconstruction offered by Nisargadatta Maharaj.  As it happened though, it took just one tiny paragraph from Wei Wu Wei to land in my brain at exactly the right time for the irreversible ‘blink’ to occur.

I mention this rather august lineage because it explains why the writing of Robert Saltzman strikes not just a chord but an entire symphonic movement for me.  He is a mindshifter in the same tradition, a Manjushri for the moment.

We are peers;  we were probably reading the same books by Watts and Krishnamurti at the same time during the 70s and 80s.  Reading his book, The Ten Thousand Things, is, for me, like feeling my way across a tapestry exquisitely woven from the threads of my own life. I’m not sure that I can adequately express my wonderment and appreciation…

The candor, lucidity and lack of jargon in Robert’s writing are deeply refreshing. I also relish his way with words. He knows how to write. He also knows how to take astonishingly fine photographs, and these are featured throughout the book.

It’s been said that this book will become a classic, which is a pretty good achievement for someone who isn’t claiming to be a teacher and has nothing to gain by its sale. (The book sells for the production price.) He is not peddling enlightenment. He is simply sharing how it feels to be free from all the spiritual fantasies that obscure our seamless engagement with this miraculous thing called life, right now.

[I chose the excerpt below because it addresses the ubiquitous myth that freedom/awakening will deliver some imagined state of eternal happiness… ]


 

Photograph by Robert Saltzman

 

The only relief I know is the freedom one feels when finally the need for certainty comes to an end, replaced by a willingness to allow life to unfold as it does without knowing a damn thing about “cosmic” anything, either pro or con.

When I say “freedom,” I do not mean happiness.  Nor do I mean immunity from ordinary human suffering.  I mean the equanimity and peace of mind that emerge in the light of the comprehension that in this moment things are as they are and cannot be any different, including what I feel, and how I see and understand myself and the world.

Each of us sees a different world, and what each of us sees is oneself.  This does not signify as some people believe that the world is not real.  It means that what I see is not the same as what you see.  What you see is you, and what I see is me.  When this identity of seeing and seer is understood, freedom is obvious, for then there is no stand-in, no alternative, or substitute for the seeing what I see and being what I am in this moment.  All I can be is myself, and all I can see is myself.

From my perspective, following a spiritual path, a religion, or a guru serves primarily as a means of avoidance – a way of replacing what one actually is right now with a vision of what one could be.   This is the fallacy of becoming.  Those who purport to teach methods of “self-realization” or paths to “salvation” are not awake, I say, but hypnotized by fancy ideas they learned from previous epigones.  Then, having convinced themselves of their “attainment,” they regurgitate the nonsense they learned to imitate, hypnotizing their followers in the same fashion.

You are what you are here and now.  There is no “later,” and there is, I say, no path apart from one’s own suffering, one’s own confusion, and eventually, with luck, one’s own understanding.

– Robert Saltzman, The Ten Thousand Things pp266-267

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Robert Saltzman - The Ten Thousand Things, cover

Robert Saltzman, The Ten Thousand Things


Thank you, Robert, for giving the remaining dead leaves on this gnarled old tree a fatal shake.


 

meetings with remarkable women

Shawn Nevins at Poetry in Motion Films has recently released another “small film about big ideas” – this time a beautiful documentary about women and awakening.

Filmed in 2010 and 2011, Meetings With Remarkable Women explores women’s spirituality and the divine feminine through the spiritual paths of five women from varied backgrounds:

  • Linda — an Australian spiritual teacher whose discipline of meditation led to a profound spiritual realization.
  • Anima — whose childhood in India steeped her in spiritual traditions, but it took a journey to America before she realized her true desire was to find enlightenment.
  • Jem — who lived the roles of wife, mother, engineer, musician, and writer before discovering Reiki and A Course in Miracles; paths that eventually led her to a spiritual awakening.
  • Heather — from Christian to Atheist, Buddhist to free-form seeker of self knowledge wrestling with meditation, self-inquiry, and prayer.
  • Deborah — who, after the tragic loss of her husband, launched a years-long spiritual path through ancient Buddhist texts and the practice of Yoga that culminated in the discovery of a deep and lasting inner peace.
Yoga, Buddhism, meditation; enlightenment, awakening, realization, inner peace; Christianity, Atheism; Reiki, A Course in Miracles; Australia, India, America; loss and revelation: it’s all here as each woman tells a compelling story of struggle and discovery that is worthy of viewing time and again.
~

Call it spiritual cinema, spiritual documentary, or spiritual film, we’re engaged in examining the perennial questions: where did I come from? what has meaning? why am I here? where am I going? what is this place?

Through small films about big ideas, Poetry in Motion Films hopes to expand your possibilities for a life well-lived.

© Copyright Poetry in Motion Films 2012

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for as long as wanting wants

for as long
as wanting wants
anything – anything
[even
not-wanting]
stillness is abandoned
great silence is silenced
peace is merely a story

 

for as long
as wanting wants
there will be a wanter
an insatiable grasper
an inexhaustible seeker
deaf
to the savage wisdom
that whispers
you are that
which you seek!

 

for as long
as wanting wants
and the wanter
believes
it has more substance
than a thought;
believes
it’s real, with an agenda
[noble, naturally]

Heart
is divorced from its
Beloved

 

– miriam louisa


fall out of your head

(I just love that line!)

Please welcome Solané Verraine to our parade of wideawake wondrous women. The following notes are from her website.

Living Satsang with Solané

“There is a joy and a love for all of creation that is there when you fall out of your head and into the stillness of your pure heart. It permeates everything with the nectar of Self. When everything is welcome here, your life begins to flow and flower with well being, ease and intimacy with all of life.”

In Living Satsang meetings with Solané, either individually or in groups, what is pointed to and celebrated is the Living Truth of one’s essential nature, which is silent awareness as love, peace, joy and compassion. Living Satsang meetings help the seeker have a direct and lasting experience of this, as all questions and concerns are resolved in the alchemy of love and stillness which is the Heart of Living Satsang.

Website: http://livingsatsang.com/

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thus spake the heart-whisperer

Dear One –

– you will never be more at home
than in the ceaseless energy
of your body’s wild word

– you will never know purer peace
than in your blessed breathtide

– you will never find more happiness
than in this miracle-moment

– you will never find truer love
than in your own forgiving embrace

– you will never be more creative
than when you disappear

– you will never know life’s purpose
outside of simply living it

– you will never be more free
than before you contemplated freedom

– you will never be more awake
than within the quiet murmur
of your soft, animal, secret senses

– you will never find your self
apart from your changeless
inescapable
light of being

.

~ miriam louisa

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the Presence of the absence of ‘me’

58

creativity
humility
heaven
peace
trust
love
joy

.

seven words attempting to describe one thing

a thing that can never be an object,
and therefore, can never be described

how then can It be found?

it can’t – it’s never been lost!

seven words all amounting to the same no-thing:

the Presence of the absence of ‘me’

.

~ miriam louisa
echoes from emptiness

.

come sit with me

Come sit with me.

I have plumped up a cushion for you.

There’s a box beside the door –
you can leave your mind there
(no charge).

Rest in this silent place
allowing succulent stillness
to fill your tired bones.

Stay.

Stay until you hear
the whisper of your heart’s wisdom:

“This unfathomable peace – it is your own
blessed beingness!”

Stay.  Please stay!

And when you go
you will know a secret
that can never again be un-known.

Beloved, you are the love of your life.

 

– miriam louisa
Tauranga
Aotearoa New Zealand