Monthly Archives: December 2015

you are an afterthought

You are an afterthought.

(The explanation below may seem redundant, but sometimes redundancy is useful.)

Every moment is gone – no longer is – before the mind can process what was experienced in that moment. The mind cannot experience anything other than what was experienced. All thoughts (including thoughts of you, as the experiencer) are afterthoughts. All that the mind is capable of being aware of – thoughts of, mental interpretations about, memories (both immediate and long-term) and stories of – is history. (Or fantasy about the future, which is entirely based on thoughts generated by perceptions, mental interpretations, memories, and stories of the past: history).

That which experiences has no thought of what is experienced.

All thought of what is experienced is afterthought. And this afterthought is done by the you that thinks it is the experiencer.

But thought comes after experiencing happens. Experiencing happens in the moment experiencing happens. Thought (about any experience) happens after experiencing happens. The thinker is not experiencing in the moment… the thinker is thinking about experiencing that happened in the past. (No matter how quickly this appears to transpire.)

So… who, or what, is experiencing when experiencing happens?

That is not an afterthought – and no thought about it, is it.

thoughts about . . .

Thoughts about someone or something are clearly not the someone or something. And yet we become so deeply entangled in thoughts about… [whatever] that we miss, almost entirely, the someone or something about which we are thinking.

Most people would quickly agree with the opening statement above, but still not know just how this mechanism operates and affects their behavior. For example, we are all likely to agree that our thoughts about the weather are not the weather. But our thoughts about the weather may very well dominate our experience of the weather – more than the weather itself. We may, in fact, think we know what the weather is (like), even though we have been inside all day, grousing about “the lousy weather.” We’ll do this even when we have had no immediate experience of the current weather – in this moment. In this scenario, our entire experience of the weather is based on our thoughts about the weather (equating it to past conditions and assigning the label “lousy” to it). Our thoughts about the weather are not the reality of the weather (as it would be experienced were we standing outside, in it). This is a simple example of something we do all the time. We have thoughts about… and mistake those thoughts for the thing itself*. Why do we do this?

We do this because thinking is a deep-seated and culturally supported habit. And we believe our thoughts about a thing to be true (without realizing it). Not only true, but to be the thing itself. Whether one recognizes this in oneself, or is inclined to argue that this is a bunch of hooey, most people are reliable in this habit – until they drop it. So what does it take to drop it?

When we are willing to acknowledge that we do this, start to pay attention to our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors (without judging them as good or bad), and notice how our thoughts about… [something] seem to be as (or more) real than the thing itself (*which, ahem, doesn’t really exist because there are no ‘things’…), then begins a great unraveling.

so, what are you?

I am the kingdom that you seek,
the simple truth that words can’t speak.
I am the Buddha’s silent vow,
and every question asking how.
Within all shapes and in-between,
I am the space that rests unseen.
I am the spark engulfing mind,
the noticer, you’ll never find.
With inquiry, you’ll find what’s true,
I am this breath that breathes as you.

I am the stars, I am the sky,
I am the life that cannot die.
I am this word that came and passed,
like a sound in time, that cannot last.
I am the now, I am what’s here,
and every thought, that’s seen so clear.
I am the love, I am the light,
I am the dark that’s burning bright.
I am the grace, I am the heart,
I am what can’t be pulled apart.
I am the trees, I am the birds,
I am the dream that reads these words.
I am the war, I am the peace,
and all resolve, when choices cease.
I am the joy, I am the dance,
of temporary circumstance.

I am the all, I am the one,
the truth that is, when all is done.
I am the life, just passing through,
and what remains – so, what are you?

~Matt Kahn

the wind

I am a pipe the wind blows through,
Be still, it is the wind that sings.
The course of my life and the things that I do
And the seeming false and the seeming true
Are the tune of the wind that neither knows
Good and ill, nor joys and woes.
But the ultimate awe is deeper yet
Than song or pipe or storm;
For pipe and tune are the formless wind
That seemed for a while to take form.
And words are good to escape from words
And strife to escape from strife,
But silence drinks in all the waves
Of song and death and life

~Arthur Osborne

hokusai says

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.

It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

~Roger Keyes

how do I find it?

“How do I find it?”

This is a question that every seeker wants the answer to. It can be infuriating to hear a spiritual teacher say, “There is nothing to find, because there is nothing that is not it.”

By focusing on what is attending to a moment – not the content of the moment, but the awareness of the content – one invites the possibility of discovering that what is focused on attention in that moment is attention itself. That is always here, has always been here, attending to each moment. But mostly it isn’t noticed, because attention – awareness – is focused on the content of each moment: thoughts, physical sensations, people, places, things, etc. An entire life can be lived with attention directed everywhere but on itself.

So, the answer to “How do I find it?” might begin with this: Notice that it’s already here.

on love

When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep. And when
his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound
you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as
the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and
caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and
shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until
you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread
for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and
in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor
into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but
not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor
would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of
God. And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs
your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy.

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon
your lips.

~Kahlil Gibran