“The great good news is that love is free and it has not gone anywhere. In all of these aeons that you have been hiding from love, love is still here, it is still open, it is still waiting for your commitment, still waiting for you to say, ‘Yes, I give my life to the truth of love. I vow to let love live this life as it will, for better or worse, for richer or poorer.’
The love that you search for everywhere is already present within you.
It may be evoked by any number of people or events. A mountain can evoke this love. A sunset can evoke this love.
But finally, you must realize you are this love. The source of all love is within you.
My teacher told me to stop where you are, just stop. That is really, basically what I offer you. I guarantee that if you are willing to investigate for yourself, you’ll find, in the heart of the matter, peace.
There may be pain right before the moment of investigation, and there may be disbelief or denial of what’s found. But if there’s a willingness to stop following any thought, you will find even deeper peace and fulfillment.
Finally, you will recognize you are discovering the truth of who you are. You are not really finding peace and fulfillment, those are just the byproducts. You are finding yourself.
What is always here is here now. What is always here is the only thing that is permanent. If you want anything else, you want something that will disappear someday.
So it is very wise to want what is always here. Then you want yourself.”
This week, whatever our personal journey, may our hearts be open, or may they crack open. May our eyes hear and our ears see. May we have a greater sense of what is true and everlasting. May we know love.
There is no peace to be had in the comings and goings of a storm of stressful thoughts.
Whether my storm involves chaos at work, differences with a partner, or the impact of current events, the result is the same: No personal peace.
When outer turmoil causes enough discomfort to guide me to the place within that doesn’t flicker or move about, that is a true gift.
Here, I find what is steady and unchanging. No thing or person is a threat, except to my beliefs. This knowing is a truth, and something I can rely on. As I sit, as I contemplate, as I meditate, gradually and as sure as the sun rises and sets, I become stillness. I rest as awareness.
In chaotic times, the meditation of self-inquiry is soothing balm and slows the mind. Peace can never be found by standing in the wind of the world and letting the wind take me wherever it is going. That will for sure be a bumpy ride.
What wind has you in a tizzy?
Maybe it’s time to find true center.
You don’t know how things are going to turn out. Don’t make premature decisions. The more quiet you are, the more you see things as they really are. When you see things as they are, your heart will be filled with gratitude and you will grow in wisdom.
FROM BYRON KATIE, A THOUSAND NAMES FOR JOY, P. 229:
It’s not possible for something to be against you. There’s no such thing as an enemy; no person, no belief, not even the ego is an enemy. It’s just a misunderstanding: we perceive something as an enemy, when all we need to do is be present with it. It’s just love arising in a form that we haven’t understood yet. And questioning the mind allows beliefs to simply arise. The quiet mind realizes that no belief is true, it is immovable in that, so there’s no belief it can attach to. It’s comfortable with them all.
Your enemy is the teacher who shows you what you haven’t healed yet. Any place you defend is where you’re still suffering. There’s nothing out there that can oppose you. There is just fluid motion, like the wind. You attach a story to what you perceive, and that story is your suffering. I am everything that I have ever called other people; they were me all along. Everything I ever called my enemy was me. Projection would have us see reality as a them and a me, but reality is much kinder. All enemies are your kind teacher, just waiting for you to realize it. (And that doesn’t mean you have to invite them to dinner.) No one can be my enemy until I perceive him as threatening what I believe.
There comes a time when we know or are mature enough to tell the truth of how miserable it is to shrink the heart down and then to try to keep out all the threats. At a certain, mysterious moment you are just willing to say, ‘Okay, I surrender. I give up. Let it all come in.’ In that moment, what a revelation of the capacity of your heart to include everything. Everything. All the pain of the world, all the pain of the past, all the pain to come, the necessary pain that is part of life, the unnecessary pain that is part of avoiding pain. All of it. All of it. Then your heart is not just your heart and it’s not the beautiful muscle of your body, or even your emotional heart. It is the core of the world. It is the universe itself. It is life itself, knowing itself as the capacity to hold all of life. That’s the possibility.
Finally something stops you in your tracks, and that something is revealed to be your own heart, calling you home.
In choosing to turn your attention to the choicelessness of purely being in this moment, you discover that same beingness to be pure love, pure grace, pure consciousness aware of itself. Not excluding you as a person and not excluding any other. Incomprehensively, simply, ALL.
Have a blessed week, everyone. Be kind. Find center. First, accept everything. Then move with clarity.
Most problems didn’t start yesterday. They developed over time.
A health problem, for instance, is often years in the making. Relationship problems establish themselves gradually and include specific details unique to you.
Photo credit — Joseph Sohm.
In a seminar I attended long ago witha wise and wonderful woman named Gangaji,a student grappled with a family problem and said she wasn’t making progress. She said the family dynamic was hopeless and would never change.
Gangaji did what Gangaji does — she stopped. For a short time, she did “nothing.”
After the silence, Gangaji said to the student, “Teach me how to have your problem.”
The woman gulped, but cooperated. With Gangaji’s helpful humor and encouragement, the woman described precise steps for creating and maintaining the enduring family squabble.
She taught Gangaji exactly how to fan the fight flames: what to say, how often to say it, what decisions to make as a result, what attitudes and expectations to develop, what to give attention to and what to ignore, and what to conclude. She taught Gangaji exactly how to have her problem.
After divulging all of this, the woman could no longer pretend she was helpless or didn’t know what was going on. The situation was no longer a mystery! She became aware of her part in the family dynamic — and she owned it. It was as if this woman walked from the deep forest of confusion and pretending, into a sun drenched clearing. She woke up.
This woman did a very powerful thing — she “outed” herself and now there was no turning back! She had become aware of her creation.
It Takes Years
To illustrate how detail-driven a problem is, may I show you a wacky example? Sometimes it helps to elevate a problem to the level of ridiculous.
Here’s my problem: I fail at roasting Jalapenos.
I’m going to teach you how to have my problem.
As you read the steps below, note the time and effort required to orchestrate even one small, unimportant failure — it’s pretty epic!
How To Fail At Roasting Jalapeno Peppers.
Buy a home large enough to rent out part of it, say, a couple rooms on the lower level.
Five winters later, fix up the lower level. Make electrical improvements, wash windows, vacuum, remove spiders, scrub high and low. Install an air filter, buy a small frig, a microwave and a toaster oven. Have a couple of friends downsize and buy some of their furniture, bedding and a heater. Make it a comfortable bedroom, work area, kitchen and bathroom — a space you would truly love. This takes a while.
When you’re finished, list the room on AirBnB. Wait patiently for Spring and guests.
Meanwhile, bake and roast often in your kitchen during the cold winter to keep the house (and tummies) warm. Even though you should clean your oven regularly with all that roasting going on, say to yourself (all winter long) “I’ll get to it later.”
Spring comes. Hooray!
Have a friend give you way too much organic produce, including jalapenos – fifty of them – enough to set the world on fire! Give a bunch to your hot friend and keep the rest. Decide to freeze half of them and roast the other half. Sounds brilliant.
Welcome AirBnB guests to your home who will review their stay and post it publicly when they leave, which influences your future business. These kind folks are thrilled to be at your home, and tell you the accommodations look super lovely and they can’t wait to unpack. They are looking forward to getting into that beautiful, comfy bed, so they can sleep late tomorrow morning and s-l-o-w-l-y wake up peaceful and happy to the calm, beautiful Spring morning before them.
You wake up in the morning and let it slip from your mind that you have guests (after all, renting the lower level is a pretty new endeavor.)
At 7:15 am get the bright idea that roasting jalapenos while making your coffee and doing early morning kitchen puttering would be a smart use of time.
Prepare the peppers, put them on the baking sheet, leave the oven door ajar to keep a close watch, and fire up the broiler. Let the roasting begin!
Look away, fix your coffee and do a few other things. When you turn back, smoke is pouring out of the oven like a house afire. (Should have cleaned that darn oven!)
Suddenly you recall downstairs guests and the possibility of the kitchen smoke alarm sounding. Your snoozing-and-dreaming-of-rainbows guests are counting on peace and calm as they luxuriously open their dreamy morning eyes in their very first AirBnB experience.
Slamming the oven door really fast, you stand still (as if that will help), you don’t breathe (as if that will help) and pray like mad (you hope that will help!) Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? You think it would be a bad idea for the whole house to burn down due to 50 overheated jalapenos. The 6 pm news story would be soooo pitiful. You peer quickly into the oven again, coughing into the jalapeno laced smoke. Even though your eyes are burning and your lungs are stinging, you still somehow come to the conclusion that things are “not too bad.” You crank off the heat, and decide not to open the oven again for a good long while. You run around like a blind anti-stink-idiot, opening windows and closing the door to the downstairs — so if the smoke alarm does go off, it won’t be quite so piercing to the rainbow dreamers below.
Then you sit down. Ohmmmmmm…………
Either your Ohm magic is paying off or the smoke alarm is non-functional. In any case, thank goodness. Your heart slows down.
When you finally open the oven door, you take a peak at the peppers. They look rubbery and smell a little funny.
You upend the stinky mess into the trash, knowing that your downstairs guests are admiring the mountain view as they roll over in their blissful bed, oblivious to the spicy morning happening at full tilt not too far above them.
You enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
See? The development of a problem is an incredibly complex affair! Look how many details led up to this one little smoky jalapeno morning. It’s never too late to start appreciating the intricacies of how your life is unfolding!
If you take advantage of the opportunity to teach someone else how to have your problem, it will certainly be revealing and quite possibly entertaining! No problem develops over night, it’s a long time comin’ round the mountain when it comes. Once you see how the problem is built, it’s pretty easy to see how to dismantle it.
For me and my problem, it’s easy. Next time, I’ll just say no to the fifty jalapenos.
“We know or somehow we are mature enough to tell the truth of how miserable it is to shrink the heart down and then to try to keep out all the threats. At a certain, mysterious moment you are just willing to say, ‘Okay, I surrender. I give up. Let it all come in.’ In that moment, what a revelation of the capacity of your heart to include everything. Everything. All the pain of the world, all the pain of the past, all the pain to come, the necessary pain that is part of life, the unnecessary pain that is part of avoiding pain. All of it. All of it. Then your heart is not just your heart and it’s not the beautiful muscle of your body, or even your emotional heart. It is the core of the world. It is the universe itself. It is life itself, knowing itself as the capacity to hold all of life. That’s the possibility.”
Life can be hard, stuff happens, things change. People die, or almost die or threaten to die.
And you think you’re doing quite well, thank you very much, dealing with all of this, and then you go to your massage therapist for a session.
You get on the table, you get settled.
He starts working you over, and…
… he tells you what you’ve really been doing with your emotion. He tells you where you tucked your feelings (for safekeeping or whatever!!), or where the leftover emotion landed in your body — instead of letting it go.
Lucky for me, I have a massage therapist who has a lot of space for people to do whatever they do. Around him, it is easy for me to laugh it out, cry it out, or groan it out. Good for me, good for him. God bless him.
I’m an emotional person, so this “what-am-I-doing-with-my-emotions” thing has been with me for a good long while. While the subject is not new to me, my clearer awareness is — and it’s always changing.
Learning to navigate the impact of certain emotions, like fear or grief, is something that every human on the face of the Earth deals with sooner or later. Like you, I’m more aware and awake than I was yesterday or the day before that. Good for me, good for you. “Practice makes progress” says David Roth, singer-songwriter.
There is a remarkable, funny, and compassionate woman named Gangaji, who (with a tender smile) teaches “just STOP” — don’t resist the emotion, just go into the center of it and see what’s there. She is big on investigation. If you go to one of her Public Meetings or Retreats, there is occasionally a chance to go up and talk with her on stage. You can ask a question, which then becomes part of her discussion, and your question becomes useful to everyone else in the room.
I have had the opportunity to talk with her publicly several times, and it is a deep and satisfying experience. She sits with you and helps you look into, and feel into your inquiry. It was the experience of having her hold my hand (even though she wasn’t physically holding my hand) while I walked into uncharted (for me) emotional territory.
Gangaji’s teacher, Papaji, and Papaji’s teacher, Ramana
Gangaji is so still.
She has all the time in the world for you.
And so, because of her, I walked where I had never walked — into the center of my fear and frustration.
And what did I find?
Nothing at all. Not a shred of anything.
There was silence in the middle of what I had labeled fear, and at the center, at the core, fear felt no different than love. They both felt peaceful and essentially the same.
Everything felt peaceful and “made of nothing.”
It was a “free to be” kind of nothing. Chains dropped, boundaries flew somewhere else on little wings, feelings of restriction vanished, all thought disappeared.
The great good news is that love is free and it has not gone anywhere. In all of these aeons that you have been hiding from love, love is still here, it is still open, it is still waiting for your commitment, still waiting for you to say, “Yes, I give my life to the truth of love. I vow to let love live this life as it will, for better or worse, for richer or poorer.” The love that you search for everywhere is already present within you. It may be evoked by any number of people or events. A mountain can evoke this love. A sunset can evoke this love. But finally, you must realize you are this love. The source of all love is within you. — Gangaji
“My teacher told me to stop where you are, just stop. That is really, basically what I offer you. I guarantee that if you are willing to investigate for yourself, you’ll find, in the heart of the matter, peace. There may be pain right before the moment of investigation, and there may be disbelief or denial of what’s found. But if there’s a willingness to stop following any thought, you will find even deeper peace and fulfillment. Finally, you will recognize you are discovering the truth of who you are. You are not really finding peace and fulfillment, those are just the byproducts. You are finding yourself.
What is always here is here now. What is always here is the only thing that is permanent. If you want anything else, you want something that will disappear someday. So it is very wise to want what is always here. Then you want yourself.” — Gangaji
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.