Category Archives: dreams

The One Who Knows

Talks & Essays

The fact is there is no escape from the pain of losing what we love and inevitably become attached to. No escape from the fear, confusion, anger and broken heartedness that comes with the territory of human relationship or simply being Life in the form of a human body. There is no escape from the fall, no escape from the hard landing and no escape from that dark bottom of the well where we find ourselves at these times. When the outcomes of these encounters are painful or even “disastrous”, is it possible to see them not as failures but rather potential dharma gates of deeper compassion, understanding, forgiveness and loving kindness? Is it possible to really meet these times, no matter how agonizing, with an open heart? To meet even the heart that shrinks in pain and fear with gentle attention even when it seems that every fiber in our body and mind want to just get away? This is the heart of our practice and unless we want some artificial, dualistic, imaginary practice we must learn to work with them as such; facing all of this on and off the cushion and meeting these moments that at some times seem to stretch on endlessly with an awareness that allows whatever is there to simply be there. If there is sadness, be there with it as long as it needs your presence. The same with fear, worry, anger, rage, feelings of rejection and failure, broken heartedness and loneliness. This is not about thinking our way out, but rather about learning our way into these seemingly awful times through the power of attention. This is a fierce practice that requires a fiercely loving heart; a loving heart that can hold and contain even the heart that’s broken.

How is it for you when … you figuratively find yourself at the bottom of the pit of your agonizing life situation and you are alone? You are destitute. You are deeply grieved and grieving. At these moments even though we may have people who care for us, we are cut off, unreachable, solitary and destitute. And how can it be otherwise? It can be helpful to talk with friends, a therapist or teacher, but can anyone really reach us when we have lost a child, a partner, a loved one, received a devastating medical diagnosis? When we find that our mind or body is not the immortal and invulnerable something we had thought it was? When we suddenly realize that we are “old”? When we realize that we may not see old age? May not see our children grow up? When the self-image that we hold onto so tightly and identify with so completely or the future we envisage and so desperately hope for is completely shattered or called deeply into question? We want so desperately to be comforted. We want so desperately to be held in a way that just makes it go away; makes it somehow all ok, as though simply because it is painful and frightening it is not ok. And in a certain way it really is not ok. How could anything that so completely throws us down the well be ok? Life makes no mistakes and at some point if we are to truly be alive and free regardless of our life situation, we simply must learn to live beyond the limited images and hopes to which we so desperately cling. As Joko Beck once said, “The one thing in life we can truly count on is Life being exactly how it is.” For some losses, disappointments, betrayals, devastating life changes there is nothing that will make the pain go away and nothing that will mend the rupture that we find ourselves to in fact be. We are that pain, and trying to get rid of it creates a conflict in the mind between what is and what should be that only makes the fire burn more searingly.

The key to working with our “having tumbled down condition” is to see that even at the moment of impact things have changed already and that this moment is not what we think it is. In fact, it is not what we “think” at all! Thinking is always “old”; just a bit behind the curve of life, if you will. Have you looked closely enough, deeply enough? Have you let your situation speak to you its’ complete truth without your assumptions, presuppositions and images of how it should or could be? How will you know if and when this situation and what it stirs up is finished with you, rather than when you are finished with it? Can you see that thinking about whatever is present in your life right now is quite different from what is actually here right now? Have you really become so completely attentive that there is no “you” there observing and hence no separation at all? Are you willing to not feel better too quickly and to follow this pain right down to its roots? This is demanding and austere practice, but if you have not done it then there is more work to do; if you have done it, there is probably still more work to do. And there is no one, absolutely no one, who can do it but you. It is important to have companions on the Way and someone who can encourage you onward with the confidence of having walked this Way before, but only you can do the work of your life. To go so completely into this moment that “you” disappear: What is that? Then, who are you? Are you the one who suffers, or are you the One who Knows?

Today's Lessons

Get up and do something first thing in the day.

Be active.

Be motivated by love.

Don’t be silent anymore.

Simplify life — remove whatever and whoever does not inspire, inform, add personal value and friendship, or provide a needed service

Clean it up, and make it easy to keep clean.

There will always be more things to learn and do as the day progresses, but you have to start somewhere.

You Learn

You Learn

You learn.

After a while you learn the subtle difference

between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises,

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes open

with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

and you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn. And learn.

With every good-bye you learn.

– Jorge Luis Borges

via whiskey river.

Destiny

I don’t really think about having a destiny, or that anything is pre-destined. But it is amazing to me how often I can put a thought out there now and see it realized, seemingly through no action of my own. I have come to believe that the universe does take care of us, if we can trust it to do so. This isn’t so much a metaphysical belief as a Tao realization — by acting in accordance with nature, and with my own nature, I do help create the circumstances for what I want to be able to happen. And it is when I am not in accord with nature, or not listening to my own nature or that of others, that I most struggle to get what I (my ego, that is) want.

So perhaps a truer definition of destiny would be that it is what we find happening in our lives if we simply relax and allow life and our own nature to flow. When I can relax and trust that things will work out well, they typically do. And even if they are not working out well, if I’m relaxed and calm I’m certainly better able to deal with a situation. So, even if the universe isn’t on your side, why not believe that it is? It certainly isn’t out to get you, in any case. And a neutral attitude towards things, rather than a positive one, doesn’t really help to get anyone on your side. So being positive, approaching life as if good things are going to come your way, is not merely a Pollyana state but one that helps to create a better Destiny…

“Your destiny shall not be allotted to you, but you shall choose it for yourselves.” — Plato

I have to agree with Plato here.

“Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided. a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.” — Dag Hammarskjold

And Dag, it is good to believe your life has meaning.

“Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of “Pssst” that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.” — David Foster Wallace

I like this because it reminds us to be open to the unexpected, to allow good things into our lives even if we weren’t expecting them. On the other hand, don’t buy watches or jewelry from these people.

“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.”
— Francois Muriac

My friendships certainly do leave their marks on me and my life. My loves, even more so. And I still love them all…

“Time draweth wrinkles in a fair face, but addeth fresh colors to a fast friend, which neither heat, nor cold, nor misery, nor place, nor destiny, can alter or diminish.” — John Lyly

I see new colors in my friends all the time, and I mostly ignore the wrinkles. If anything, they add character.

“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected.” — Ben Okri

I don’t think I’ve ever had a straightforward path to my dreams, but they usually end up realized in some way. And I do like solving the riddles of my life…

Your thoughts on destiny???

Complete

I no longer dream of having someone to complete me.
I dream of someone to be completely with…

“A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.”
— Scott Allen

“To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.”
— Epictetus

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” — Terry Tempest Williams

“Individuals we consider happy commonly seem complete in the present and we see them constantly in their wholeness: attentive, cheerful, open rather than closed to events, integral in the moment rather than distended across time by regret or anxiety.” — Robert Grudin

“A miracle is nothing more or less than this. Anyone who has come into a knowledge of his true identity, of his oneness with the all-pervading wisdom and power, this makes it possible for laws higher than the ordinary mind knows of to be revealed to him.” — Ralph Waldo Trine

“Love is the outreach of self toward completion.” — Ralph W. Sockman

“The little dissatisfaction which every artist feels at the completion of a work forms the germ of a new work” — Berthold Auerbach

Getting along and going along

There is every possibility your life is destined for something you don’t know anything about at all.

There is every possibility that you aren’t always right.

There is every possibility your ego is completely misleading you as to what you really want in your life, what your heart knows you need.

If you stop fighting the tides of your life, and enjoy whatever happens, life gets a lot easier. This doesn’t mean just giving in to what happens, it means moving with it, maintaining your plans and dreams for the future while recognizing the reality that it may not always go just as you pictured it, or happen right when you want things to happen.

When you decide to move with life, though, rather than fight it, things suddenly become much simpler and you’ll find a flow to your life that is amazing. Stop fighting yourself and your own pace, stop trying to speed up other people or slow them down, stop hurrying your kids to grow up or wanting other people to change. You can no more stop the snow in the winter than you can the blazing heat of summer, you can only change your location or your attitude about snow or heat, or adjust your surroundings and circumstances to deal with them.

If you can accept what is, completely, then you are in the position to change it if you need to, sometimes just simply by changing your attitude towards it. Once you stop seeing someone else or something else as difficult, and realize the difficulty is within you, then you can begin to deal with it and come to terms with it.

When you decide to work with others to accomplish their goals and plans, your own become less important. And suddenly, your ideas become more important to others; since you are cooperating with them, they will cooperate with you, and everyone’s life flows more easily. It is when we fight against other’s desires and plans that we run into trouble. When someone else sees you as a normally cooperative person, then when you do object to something, it is even more powerful. If you always object no matter what, then you’re just seen as difficult, and people won’t listen to you.

But mostly you have to be yourself, you have to be genuine. When others see you as coming from your heart, they will pay attention. If you can give advice out of love, rather than in an attempt to control, it will have a greater impact. If you can lead with your strengths, with your deepest wisdom and your heart rather than from your fears or your ego, people around you will grow and change.

And so will you.

True Vows, and True Love

All the True Vows (via Hecate)
by David Whyte

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

“Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.” -– Marsha Norman

“The truth is, we are meant to be bountiful and live. The universe will always support affirmative action. Our truest dream for ourselves is always the Goddess’ will for us.” — Julia Cameron

You are just perfect the way you are, and you already have everything you want — you just have to say yes to it and open the door.

When you stop fighting against the flow, the flow stops fighting you, too.

Love is not giving in to all someone’s whims — love is bringing out the best in someone, teaching them to love what is difficult for them. Love what is difficult to love in yourself, and in others, and it will help you to bring out the best in yourself and in others, as well.

Believe in the possibilities

To everyone who reads here:

As we enter the magical season of Christmas, Solstice and the beginning of the New Year, my wish for you is that you come to believe more in yourself, in the possibilities of your life, and have the courage and strength to follow those possibilities where they may take you, without fear of failure, or doubt about where the path may lead.

Namaste.

How have your dreams been of late?

Wrote this comment in response to Casey’s post today on Personal Tao and invite you to answer his query as well:

My dreams tend to follow my day to a large extent — last night was planning to go to a barbecue this evening with a friend, and dreamed about that friend. I also was doing a talk for the Humane Society and the other speaker was a man who I’ve heard talk about the chaparral and fire prevention, so I dreamed about fires. Haven’t had any very unusual dreams lately.

I think my spirit is pretty settled. When it is changing, I tend to dream about houses. When there’s lots of construction going on, I know things are at work. If the house is large and there are parties going on, I know I’m in a good place with myself and others. ;^) If I’m dreaming about other people’s houses, then I’m usually working on something in that relationship, or worried about them for some reason.

I really know things are wrong when I dream about black cars. For some reason, they pop up in really troubled times. I dream about animals when I’m getting some kind of spiritual message — often wolves or dogs or sometimes birds.

Old posts on dreams and imagination:

Imagination
Sleep
Golden Dreams
These Dreams
(more later — must run off to a barbecue…)