Archive for category Life


A beautiful post by my friend Steven Goodheart.

Metta Refuge

This my favorite e.e. cummings poem.  Though it’s been a friend for over 40 years now, it still makes my heart soar, “which is natural which is infinite which is yes!”

(If you are curious as to why a “Buddhst” blog would have posts with references to God in them, you might want to take a look at an earlier post, True God, True Buddha to get a glimpse of where I’m coming from.)

I Thank You

e. e. cummings

I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing…

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Living Life When Your Thoughts Don't Matter (from my new book The Way of Liberation)


We are like a person treading water in a dangerous sea – always scrambling for a lifesaver to drift our way. Whether it be anxiety or depression (the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis of the human psychology), we become firmly attached to the belief is in an external condition that will, temporarily, free of us of our distress. Anytime this belief is prominent, and let’s be honest with ourselves – it is true for most of us, we will live our lives in fear and anxiety. When we live our life this way we will never have the opportunity to express our authentic self. This is the life of the invalidation triad. We are puppets of a heartless, all-powerful world. All the power resides outside of us and we are helpless.
It is to this very desperate, deeply conflict person that religion and patriotism extend their very “helpful” hands. In our moments of deepest vulnerability, they inform us that they will answer our questions, they will become our partners in this ever-threatening world. Thus we learn to take sides in this life. It’s either for us or against us. It’s survival of the fittest. To the most powerful go the riches and all the rest. Here is one of the sources of deep violence, hatred, and division. This is the answer for so many millions of us.

Contrast this relationship with that of the hunter/gatherer. Unlike those who are identified with fear and hopelessness, he is made alive by and through life. He is one with life, flowing with its infinite changes. He is life.

His trust relationship with this world is never severed. The power of life is shared with all, from the tiniest insects to the towering redwoods. He lives in the vast web of connection, as life. The apparent separation of all of life and his body is merely an artifact of sight. They are truly one and the same. The beating of his heart is the beating of life itself. He has no interest in life ‘working out for him’. The external elements of life do matter for him, because he is this very life in this moment.
What would it be like to live a life where, literally, nothing mattered? What would it be like to live life as life? What would your life be like if you saw the whole energy sucking hope that life give you a “break” ended right now?

End that person now and see what happens.

Try it out and see for yourself. Let’s say that I’m walking down a street and see someone grabs another person’s purse. What happens then? If it is at all reasonable, I would intervene and try to help!
You then ask, “well, if nothing mattered, why do anything?” That certainly sounds like a reasonable question, but is it true? When I say live your life as if nothing matters, what that means is that we stop believing the many voices in our mind that tell us what matters, those thoughts that generate and sustain the toxic fear that governs our everyday existence. Instead, when nothing matters, we live in the immediacy of the present moment. Thus, when I see the woman’s purse taken away from her, I intervene, if it is, at all, possible and try to help. If nothing else, I offer my assistance after the crime has taken place.

When we live life as if nothing matters, we are true to our own self and not to the mass of fear-based thoughts the circulate in our consciousness. We are, finally, true to ourselves.
We find the strength and loving power that lives in the core of our authentic being.

This is Liberation.

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Living Life When Your Thoughts Don’t Matter (from my new book The Way of Liberation)


We are like a person treading water in a dangerous sea – always scrambling for a lifesaver to drift our way. Whether it be anxiety or depression (the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis of the human psychology), we become firmly attached to the belief is in an external condition that will, temporarily, free of us of our distress. Anytime this belief is prominent, and let’s be honest with ourselves – it is true for most of us, we will live our lives in fear and anxiety. When we live our life this way we will never have the opportunity to express our authentic self. This is the life of the invalidation triad. We are puppets of a heartless, all-powerful world. All the power resides outside of us and we are helpless.
It is to this very desperate, deeply conflict person that religion and patriotism extend their very “helpful” hands. In our moments of deepest vulnerability, they inform us that they will answer our questions, they will become our partners in this ever-threatening world. Thus we learn to take sides in this life. It’s either for us or against us. It’s survival of the fittest. To the most powerful go the riches and all the rest. Here is one of the sources of deep violence, hatred, and division. This is the answer for so many millions of us.

Contrast this relationship with that of the hunter/gatherer. Unlike those who are identified with fear and hopelessness, he is made alive by and through life. He is one with life, flowing with its infinite changes. He is life.

His trust relationship with this world is never severed. The power of life is shared with all, from the tiniest insects to the towering redwoods. He lives in the vast web of connection, as life. The apparent separation of all of life and his body is merely an artifact of sight. They are truly one and the same. The beating of his heart is the beating of life itself. He has no interest in life ‘working out for him’. The external elements of life do matter for him, because he is this very life in this moment.
What would it be like to live a life where, literally, nothing mattered? What would it be like to live life as life? What would your life be like if you saw the whole energy sucking hope that life give you a “break” ended right now?

End that person now and see what happens.

Try it out and see for yourself. Let’s say that I’m walking down a street and see someone grabs another person’s purse. What happens then? If it is at all reasonable, I would intervene and try to help!
You then ask, “well, if nothing mattered, why do anything?” That certainly sounds like a reasonable question, but is it true? When I say live your life as if nothing matters, what that means is that we stop believing the many voices in our mind that tell us what matters, those thoughts that generate and sustain the toxic fear that governs our everyday existence. Instead, when nothing matters, we live in the immediacy of the present moment. Thus, when I see the woman’s purse taken away from her, I intervene, if it is, at all, possible and try to help. If nothing else, I offer my assistance after the crime has taken place.

When we live life as if nothing matters, we are true to our own self and not to the mass of fear-based thoughts the circulate in our consciousness. We are, finally, true to ourselves.
We find the strength and loving power that lives in the core of our authentic being.

This is Liberation.

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God: a Symbol of our Collective Powerlessness (From my new book: The Liberation Way: At Home on Planet Earth


Men of Faith (I just couldn't resist this picture)

When our sense of ourselves is incomplete we want a god to be there for us. This want is personal and strong.
When we embrace a moral code that condemns the behaviors of others as wrong, evil, sinful, we want “our” god to bring justice to these people, societies, and even countries in this life or the next. We thirst for justice and we see our god as the ultimate deliverer of justice.
When we depend on god to do our violence, our retribution, we will do innumerable horrors in his name. Because our god is not real, we know that unless we act in his name, nothing will happen. Our blood needs will go unfulfilled. If we truly relied on our god, this would be the very god we would cease asserting our belief in. Acts of horror are always done in the name of our invalidated identity. The vacuum of inner powerlessness gets filled with belief, faith, and hunger. Violence ensues and for a moment we celebrate the blood-letting. Then the shadows of anger, rootlessness, confusion, and powerlessness fall again, so the search for the enemies arises again in our quenchless souls. We lack the inner conviction to trust our world, we invent a god to take care of those we love and to punish those we hate.

Where the decisive belief of the hunter was his alertness, his awakened nature to the world around him, we have turned that bedrock quality around and buried underneath our god. We don’t need to be alert. We don’t need to see. We can close our minds and leave it all to god. We make them the heavy, as we make ourselves light weights. We bury our lives in mindless television, hate and gossip mongering, in the cold, certain comfort of our brittle identities.
This is why most of us are wary of science. After all, the best science reflects the methods of the hunter. It keenly observes the universe and with its vast wealth of observations draws tentative conclusions about this miraculous universe. It is alive in its alertness. In its purest form, it is a true rebirth of the primordial hunter who watched the skies, smelled the seas, and knew every tree in his land. When we fail to explore the path of science, when we label it as “just another belief”, we posit a god to explain a complex universe and remain comfortable within our complacency.
Thus the desire for a god is wedded in profound unhappiness and a powerless submission to the interactive universe that we are a part. The need for a god is a reflection of our greater powerlessness. The power we lack is projected onto a projected and faith-based being.

Explore that powerlessness. If you find it in yourself, learn more about it. If we lack power at all, that lack can only be found in the personality we believe ourselves to be. Lack is a belief wedded to a projected persona. It is attached to the person we believe ourselves to be, but what we are not. That person is the other side of the god/me coin. He who observes is the hunter peeking through the all but opaque veils of the false-self.

For when we believe we lack power, we will, by necessity, project that lacked energy onto something external to ourselves. This explains why where lack is most acutely felt, there is the greatest propensity for self-righteous violence, as well as its opposite, the propensity for complete resignation; giving up. Resignation is a sign that we have both felt the anguish of close proximity to our Wound and we have our Fear-Selves have lost confidence in their personas. The collapse of the energetic Fear-Selves results in the creation of an exhausted, defeated Fear-Self. This weakened Fear-Self represents a step in the direction of liberation, but it is only a way-stop, alas it is a way stop that can last for generations. The resigned being manifests on both the individual and group levels.

The god belief systems, when they are personal and faith based must always result in a continuum of behaviors ranging from the ultra-violent to the pained acquiescence of utter resignation.
The pathway to resolving our struggle with powerlessness is found only in our personal and collective liberation.

How is that done? We take the first step in our liberation through seeing the process play out in our individual and group affiliated lives. We observe our propensity to be close our eyes to the truth that’s right in front of us. We observe how we rely on faith and second-hand knowledge passed down between people and generations without ever being held up to scrutiny. We observe our gullibility of collections of belief that people fear to questions because it’s in the bible or other “sacred” texts. We ask ourselves, as often as we can, “is this really true?”

When we move from faith to alert, open observation our hearts and minds open up to our very real lives. We are truly alive. If I am worried for the welfare of my children, then is it the most beneficial choice to place our need for safety and security in a belief that can never be tested or proven, or should we just work with our kids – open our hearts and minds to their concerns, not seek “final” answers, but just to engage in the process of connection. This is how we begin moving from the second-hand beliefs designed to keep us dead and obedient and migrate to living a vibrant, open, and creative life. We evolve from rigidity to flexibility. This is the yoga of the soul alive in this very moment.

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God


I don’t talk about God much in this blog – you may have noticed that if you’ve been a regular reader. But today I want to talk about God.

As some of you may know, I worked for quite a few years with traditional Navajo (Diné) healers and counselors. While working with these men and women, I noticed that they rarely if ever used the word God. Rather they would refer to what we might call God as “the Creator”. This curious difference is what I am discussing in this post.

I don’t believe in God. I guess this would make me an atheist.

To me, the word God conjures up a person “up” there that makes things happen. He or she is someone we can speak with. We can bring to her our fears and dreams. She is a direct part of our life. Perhaps, she is our life.

I know that how people visualize this God varies a lot. Some people think of him as an aged Patriarch, like the one painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There are others who imagine a fertile woman whose life brings about all that is. And then there are others who, like Einstein, do not project a material God, but see it as the faceless force that allows everything to be as it is. But even in Einstein’s view, God was an entity – a kind of unseen being that conforms to the rules of physics and science in general. Einstein’s God was consistent and ultimately predictable.

When I walk in “nature”, I see everything as the Creator. Even walking in mid-town Manhattan, this too is the Creator’s work, but it differs from a forest, a place marked by diversity and complexity. In Manhattan, the force is entirely generated by the behavior of human beings. But we are as much a part of creation as the oaks, brambles, bugs, birds, bushes that make up part of the world outside of my home.

The Creator is that which is. It has no rules. It is complete in itself as itself. The Creator is no different from what is. The Creator doesn’t play favorites. A cockroach is as much an expression of the Creator as Donald Trump.

But why does the “idea” of the Creator matter? Is there anything here that can draw us to our Authentic Being?

That which is – is prior to all thoughts. While thoughts are also expressions of the Creator, they are always secondary to what actually is. But even more importantly, they tend to be artifacts of our cultural and social conditioning. They are reflections of our personal and unique self. This is why your thoughts will be different from mine at any given time. How you think of a song will always be different from how I think about that same song.

Unity with the Creator happens when we stop grasping for this thought as opposed to that thought. Unity with the Creator only asks us to accept the invitation to be open and that which we need to be most open to is our own unwillingness to be open to certain types of thoughts and experiences. That which we close down to is our lord and master.

Who is your Lord and Master?

While we see the Creator in the objects of the universe, we touch the Creator at the source of all of these objects.

Where is that place?

It is in the Open Ground. This is the place of Nothingness. But it is anything but nothing. Creation happens in the place that is utterly objectless, but possesses the ability to make any object. This is the Source and we are that.

This place cannot be grasped or visualized by the mind. It can only be as it is; mysterious and unknowable.

So how can we realize this place?

This is where the Journey takes over. We must go, first, to a provisional place. To get to this provisional place, we are required to assume temporarily that every object is an illusion. No exceptions. Nothing whatsoever is real. When we truly cease grasping onto any physical object, thought, or feeling as real, that which is the Source is sensed. This is sometimes called the Zero Point, the pivot, the Tao, and even the Creator.

To understand the illusory quality of every object, we need to understand, completely, that nothing can exist independently from its context. Thus nothing whatsoever possesses independent existence. Rather everything is connected to everything else and as everything it cannot be “known”. Because “everything” is in constant change, it is utterly empty of set substance of identity. It is all flowing in one seamless mass.

It is at the Source where we get centered. It is the place that we have never left and has never left us. It is the universal home – the place of no identity. Thoughts and feelings continue to arise, but they are seen to without substance or reality. They arise from invisible Source to ephemeral “isness”.

Then once we are centered in this place, we are able to welcome Home the infinite objects of this universe – the artifacts of the Creator in our immediate experience. When we are truly free of any identity, we are free to be any identity – the passing show. We return home – to the “thingness” of this moment.

The Buddha said, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” What does this mean?

It means two things that are complimentary. One, that all objects – physical, mental, and emotional – arise out of emptiness. And two, when we remove the discriminating conditions of language, everything that is seen, heard, and felt is One as the totality. As One it reflects the emptiness from which it arises. The illusion that things can be separate and exist independently as themselves is something that happens only through the dissection of the totality by the mind through thought.

Thus, the emptiness that we truly are is reflected in the Oneness that we perceive. It is one and the same. They are the two sides of the same coin.

In this way the Creator experiences her(him)self and you are that.

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Greed


As Paul Krugman’s op-ed piece in today’s New York Times points out, Ireland had a true economic miracle, but over time this “miracle” gave way to a housing frenzy fed by the banks and speculative real estate developers. As the economy prospered they fed on this prosperity and worked together to create a massive housing bubble. When the bubble burst, the country was thrust into economic ruin and is now facing deep austerity prospects that will hurt everyone except the bankers who are international and comfortably insulated from assuming losses or any other form of responsibility for the social violence they have happily wrought. The situation in Ireland mirrors that of the United States and many other nations.

This is how it happens. In stable economies banks are rather boring players on the economic stage. They exist to keep people’s money relatively safe and to lend money in a regulated manner to create and maintain prosperity. The rules of lending need to be regulated to protect all the savers who place their hard-earned cash to the banks in trust. Savers tend not to want to have their money played by a group of gamblers who game the table and stack everything in favor of themselves.

Thus the clever bankers used the nation’s prosperity to express their repressed greed. But here’s the important part. As they made themselves grotesquely rich, they used a very small part of their money to buy their government. Politicians come cheap and they are more than happy to become whores for the super-rich friends. Thus the financial sectors own the governments of the United States and Ireland and most other places that experienced a big housing bubble from which they made their trillions. Greed and wealth made them extremely powerful.

Because they are, in essence, the government itself, they enforce the laws in ways that can only favor them and hurt everyone else. They create the policy that keeps them perfectly secure from criminal or civil prosecution, that maintains gratuitously low tax rates for the ultra wealthy and makes sure that what was the middle class pays for their continued fiscal vulgarities through painful austerity measures that affect the super-rich not in the slightest.

In this way they create a two class society. The middle class is hollowed out and transformed into the upper Lower Class and the wealthy become much richer, even as the local economies collapse into penury. The ultra-rich will scream that we cannot afford large deficits in order to leverage their impact on creating the austerity measures that enable them to get a lot richer even in times of economic crisis and decline.

Thus the bankers and their friends in the healthcare and military industrial complexes get to run the whole show. And then they speak speak as if we’re all in this together. We aren’t.

The truth is, they treat everyone but their class as ignorant rubes. They keep the rubes entertained by the idiotic television shows that are everywhere and through fear that unless we follow the orders they demand of us, that things could get so much worse.

It’s time to see reality. This is all part of waking up to what is real. It’s time to see these people (and they are discrete individuals with names and addresses) as the blood-sucking parasites they truly are. It’s time to express our need for basic justice. We must cease listening to any politician owned by this class. It’s time we take to the streets. It’s time that we refuse to swallow their ceaseless lies.

The point is not to spread the wealth. The point is to live a life that is just and fair. This class is truly a cancer on the world. The time has come to re-invent civilization as something that can exist in harmony with all of our fellow human beings and the animals and plants that make this world a wonder in a very cold universe. That time has come and that time is NOW!

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Life, Death, and Enlightenment


My own spiritual journey was motivated by an intense fear of death. I wanted and needed to “transcend” the fear of my own dying. I wanted to transcend death itself.

Is this true for You?

What is our life?

Is it not a vast accumulation? We are born. As we grow up we have many memories. Stuff happens. Suddenly we’re middle-aged and then we’re old and facing our own death.

This is the vast accumulation of the personal self.

Now my question to you is this: What part of you, right now, is NOT accumulating? What part of you is not adding onto the story of you?

That is the enlightened being – that is what is free of this accumulation. The mind might take hold of this realization and integrate that into it’s continuing story and thus “fold” it into the greater accumulation of the personal self.

But no matter what the mind does, no matter how desperate it is to survive as the one and only you, it can’t overcome this Realization.

Notice how the accumulating includes your expectations about the future. It’s one enormous story about you. It holds all of your fears, hopes, desires, preferences, and knowledge.

When the accumulating self is seen as just one of many narratives that we construct in almost every moment, in that same moment we are free. We are that which never accumulates anything.

If you think you have failed at ANYTHING, that is part of the story of accumulation. We happily accumulate all of life’s disappointments. If you think you have succeeded in ANYTHING, that is part of the story of our accumulation. We are often reticent to lay the same claim to our achievements.

Again, I ask you, what aspect of your experience, right now, is not part of personal accumulation? Find that core aspect of your immediate experience which is unborn.

The accumulator dies – the Self is unborn.

That is the part that we never born and will never die.

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