Dreams, Death and Eternal Life

You close your eyes for the last time, as this life ends, as this dream evanesces and is gone to the keeping of memory. And you open your eyes in a new reality, awakened from the Earth dream, and loved ones bid you on.

How do you know that? he asks.

How indeed? I hardly know how to answer.

Well whoever said that I mean, how do they know that?

Oh but I said it.

Oh you said that?

Yes. And how do I know it? It’s a good question.

I suppose my guides told me, or maybe it was intuition. I just know.

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War and Peace

The Daily Dalai: “World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”

We do think, I do, of peace as the absence of violence. Given the immediate horrors of never-ending war, how else?

I display peace-oriented bumper stickers on my car. One says “Visualize World Peace.” It’s an old one, from the 60’s, vintage peace regalia. I’m convinced most people are unable to visualize world peace. When a state of being is defined by absence of an opposing state of being, what exactly is it? Most if not all people are unable to picture a world at peace. It makes no sense to them. It looks like weakness, vulnerability. An invitation for evil-doers to have their way with us.

Surely we can not be faulted for our short-range vision. We can’t see beyond the horror of it, which we daily face or turn away from. There is no blame in this. We are here. It is now. Too many babies grow up in war zones. Too many parents are lost to war. In survival mode, how visionary can we be? And who among us has experienced peace?

If we find some measure of peace within ourselves, we can project the possibility of peace outward into the world. We must put clothes on it, flesh it out, build it up, and we must give it voice.

Sharing what we have each individually learned about peace within our own often embattled psyches, let’s begin to fill in the details of our sketch.

In the absence of war, we shall find peace. But if it is merely the absence of war, it will return again to war. Put another way, if we still focus on war we will never create peace, only a temporary time of no-war punctuated by more war.

If peace is not just the opposite or absence of war, of what does it consist? Indeed what will we do when we are not at war?

What we do now is prepare for the next war. Futile.

Maybe we can get past war vs. peace to a place of integrity. Now that really would be something. Rather than resistance of war, which creates it, we can stand in wholeness before the mirror and honestly see who we are.

We are warlike. We are competitive for resources, jealous of possessions, suspicious of difference, and we are easily aroused to battle. In truth, we like battle.

Humanity is a confusing business. We are predator and prey. Both and neither. We follow our fears. Wherever they lead us.

HH is correct, compassion for others slows the impulse to slaughter, but it doesn’t extinguish it.

We engage in peacefulness as if it is a holiday. The serious business of survival ever awaits our renewed attention.

We must WAGE PEACE with as much vigor as we wage war. But how?

I think it begins when we stop believing war is necessary. And who can even begin that?

Can you?

Let it ego?

Sometimes your best friend is Jimeny Cricket. Right now my friendly elf-guide is Self-Doubt. It requires humility, which requires honesty.

So if you don’t know when you are lying, there is work to be done. It is important to develop healthy self doubt as a basic life success skill.

Some people become disabled by self-doubt. This indicates a demanding little brat of an ego that tells you how pathetic you are whenever you dare question it.

Think about it.

Leave my ego where?

The Daily Dalai: “A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals the secret of some hidden treasure.”

Wow, a utopian vision! HH invokes the ideal, the goal. Can we subscribe to it? I must say it seems far-fetched in this ego-driven nightmare we are living in. Who among us can honestly say they welcome criticism and correction?

During my working years, I had the job of auditing, assessing and assuring quality of staff performance for a state agency. I can’t recall a single instance of “happy the QA lady is here to correct my work.” Quite the contrary was the case.

Oh sure I learned how. The point is no one wanted to hear they had room to improve. Which is sad when you consider that everyone does.

So Holiness, we thank you for directing our attention to a clear measure of ego-attachment that we may re-commit to relinquishing same.

I’m afraid you have also underlined the distance yet to go.

In my personal life I have known many who burst into flame upon any suggestion of criticism. None of the other kind. Let us re-commit ourselves to become free from the shackles of ego. It has ever been our undoing.

Self importance is the great illusion of humanity. We’re so proud of ourselves. Men in suits proclaim our will.

Indeed.

Are you amazed? You ought to be!

“Let us try to recognize the precious nature of each day.” — The Dalai Lama, The Daily Dalai.

I am brought to tears by the occasional glimpse of the miracle of life. These too-brief too-infrequent awakenings spark my heart. It beats faster for a moment. Then it overwhelms me and my heart suddenly breaks, as if what’s underscored is the loss of awareness that is normal waking consciousness.

So casual, so separate, so different. We like the cocoon. Familiar, cozy, safe. Keep the love, that dangerous emotion, in its place. It’s okay, it really is. But it’s such a waste. Sloth is a deadly inclination.

“Without love, where would we be now?” Let’s not even go there.

With love? Where could we be now?

Peace Now

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” The Daily Dalai.

People are genuinely confused about this. To be a peaceful person, they think means to be always at peace. These same people think that meditation will give them a quiet mind. Talk about “beginner’s mind.”

I think we have a group delusion about what the goal really is. The goal is much like other kinds of goals: to develop the mental and moral muscles to manage for peace, to separate from our minds, to abide in love every bit as much as possible.

You will never be permanently at peace within yourself, but you must develop some chops to manage your less peaceful responses to life.

Your mind will not shut up. It will run on incessantly forever, a perpetual motion machine designed to protect you from threats to your survival.

None of which is a problem. We are here to learn these things, to make these muscles. Keep practicing because the rewards, while not what you expect, are substantial: greater awareness of your real self, sufficient reward in and of itself, but also a healthy reserve with respect to the activities and productions of mind, emotional self-management skills, and of course lower blood pressure and many other health benefits.

Peaceful is not a state of rest. To “be peaceful” is active and practical. First you must get to know yourself, without judgment or reserve. No blame.

To become self-aware is almost simultaneous with becoming compassionate. Once you accept how you yourself are, accepting others is nothing. Forgive yourself and you will forgive others. What’s important is to pick your head up above the noisy river of talk and images that bombards us at eye level. Get a breath of fresh air.

Red Paint

4:30 p.m. I shouldn’t have gone for the ride. Sixty miles round trip. Now my back really feels weak and sore. I have to feed the boys. We have no money for pizza or anything like that. I guess I’ll just rest a while. Tré is working on his project. I can’t go downstairs and help find paint and stuff to eat right now. It’s okay though. I have a little time. And Richard is on duty helping Tré with his project. Feels good to rest. Though from what exertion I am not sure.

Maybe just the additional pounds. I gained back about 20 lbs. in about 20 minutes. 170-190 like overnight. In sure it took weeks, but to my distracted mind, it seemed virtually instantaneous.

I pray for us all whenever I am able. I am able several times a day. Sometimes I pray all day. I wish I believed in myself more. Then I would reach further and accomplish more. Change the world just a little bit. I’d like to let some hot air out of the angry balloon. Yes that’s right, THAT angry balloon. The one people love to run up to and blow into with all their might.

The Daily Dalai

Today’s “Daily Dalai” is: “Sleep is the best meditation.”

Wow. To a Western ear, this doesn’t sound right. But when I take a moment to meditate on this which sounds so wrong to my ear, I begin to find layers of nuance.

Why does it sound wrong to me? I have it that sleep is “downtime” and as such unproductive, and being unconscious it is devoid of the opportunity for conscious spiritual growth. Dreaming can often be disturbing, but generally yields little that communicates progress emotionally, intellectually or spiritually. Most often I forget my dreams immediately upon awakening.

Hmmm. Keep looking then. There is more to this if I am ever going to understand how it can be that sleep is the best meditation.

As a Western thinker, I view meditation as an endeavor. It seems to me sleep is the opposite of endeavor. Is there a bias in my view? Am I missing the point of meditation? Perhaps. I do experience meditation as a respite from the chaos of our world with its unrelenting visual and auditory bombardment of our senses. What a welcome and needed, almost therapeutic relief meditation can be.

In that sense I can see how sleep also provides relief for the weary senses. But taking consciousness out of meditation and calling the resulting unconsciousness the best form of meditation really baffles me. I felt it was a deliberate act, a disciplined practice … not the ultimate laxity.

Well there you have it. I continue to struggle with this. I welcome discussion.

When Giving Check Your Motive

Today’s Zen lesson is:

It is better to give and receive.”</em. (Bernard Gunther)

Assignment:
Today, allow yourself to receive your giving

Ah, to receive the joy of giving. I like it. Not suggesting we get full of ourselves and proud of our giving. “Look what a good person I am, see how much I gave.” Like trying to buy your way into heaven! I think there’s a song about that. Well, it’s futile of course. We’re all familiar with what Jesus said about the rich man getting into heaven.

Giving “in order to” buy look good or stack up karmic credits! This is ego and it’s not going to buy you a ticket to paradise. It’s altogether worldly and really counter to spiritual growth. So, how to give properly, as a conscious part of spiritual practice?

well, first of all to renounce being ego-centric doesn’t mean to give up being rewarded for giving. It is loving to enjoy the good we do. If love is what motivates your giving, then love will come from it. If trying to display your goodness is what motivates you to give, then it’s ego and no good can come from it. The joy you feel ought to be for the benefit you have given to others. This joy is not ego, and your own spirituality is enhanced by it. In this kind of giving both the giver and the receiver are blessed.

The Heart Of Altruistic Service

This is today’s lesson from the Zen Living Year of Transformation program, which by the way is available for free download at Cheri Huber’s website. Or on the App Store as “Transform Your Life.” Every day you are offered a quote and an accompanying assignment, including a suggestion that you journal at day’s end about your experience doing the day’s assignment. Today’s quote and assignment for me is as follows:

“The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.”
Walt Whitman

Today, look to see if you would like to enhance the desire to give and what you would like to give to accomplish that.

This is my every day, my ongoing inquiry. It is what I think about, what burns in my belly: how to be of service.

This coming Saturday is the Spring Psychic Fair at the Unity Church on 29th & Bernard St. On the South Hill. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I bring my Reiki table and spend the day giving Reiki treatments to all who come.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it this time. My recent knee surgery and my aching back are conspiring to saddle me with a good deal of discomfort right now. But it’s what I live for. It’s what I love. So I’ll probably talk Richard into driving me and hauling my table in and out, and I may bring a stool to lean on to save my screaming joints. But I can’t sit with the thought of not going.

It’s because I have, as I have always had “the heart of altruistic service.” The need, not just the desire to be of service to others.

The Dalai Lama preaches constantly on the need for people to learn compassion. Perhaps it is because I have suffered so much in life, and still continue to suffer a good deal of physical pain, that I am in my comfort zone with compassion. But I see that there is further to go, and we all need to go there together. I hope His Holiness is right that learning compassion will awaken in people the heart of altruistic service.

I do pray for this.