Category Archives: Spirituality

There Are No Absolutes In Real Life

I saw the quote below on social media. I see many quotes like this. I believe these kinds of quotes somewhat miss the mark about life.

Surround Yourself With…

We don’t and can’t always choose who surrounds us. The reality is, we wake up every day and some people just surround us.

We may have our families, friends, people who don’t understand or like us, people who do like us, coworkers, and passerbys. Everyday. The whole mix.

We can certainly cherrypick in who we invest most of our time. For those who live in small towns or villages, at some point we may run out of cherries. We’d still be surrounded by people – whether or not we choose to interact with them. We can also choose to be alone, but are we ever really alone?

Certainly, we can cut off dysfunctional relationships that drain us. However, we can also ask ourselves how we can relate to a wider group of people, without having to get personal or intimate. What if we just related to people without talking about our needs, expectations, and wants? What if relating to others became more about being open to differences and being ourselves?

Asking for people who push you to be better – or do anything else for you – is having an agenda. “If you don’t push me to be better, you are not worthy of being in my life.” Please. We’re all here together to work things out, and what we deem important changes often. Some people change faster, and others change more slowly. But, we all change.

It takes quiet attention, reflection, and the willingness to surrender our biases to relate to different people. We don’t have to sign contracts to see who can get what for their trouble. How can we learn to love if we can’t even see each other for who we are?

No Drama or Negativity

In which universe is that even possible? Not in this one…Not at this time…

What we call drama and negativity is really all of us working stuff out. When people are working out their understanding of life, there is likely to be friction, confusion, and the need to broaden our perspectives.

Reality is messy – the opposite of a clutter-free home with trifolded towels. We are not taught how to handle a mess. Do we walk away? Do we clean it up? Certainly, watching and learning from a mess is also an option. We often react to a mess with lots of emotion, but we can also reach a point when emotions are quiet in any situation. What do we do when we know we can neither walk away nor clean things up?

When a scientist, engineer, or mathematician is working on a problem, there’s writing everywhere – even on napkins. It takes multiple approaches to see our struggles more clearly, and to understand what it is within ourselves that is creating drama.

I think it would be good if people stopped judging drama and negativity because no one can ever say that they have themselves and life completely figured out.

We can practice handling and coping with tense situations in healthier ways. We can learn how to listen even when we don’t like what we hear. We can learn how to ask others to talk about their feedback, whatever it may be.

Over time, there is less and less confusion about oneself. That helps. There is less reaction to people’s viewpoints, and more interest and curiosity. Until then, we can study how to engage with life – beyond just fight or flight.

Higher Goals, Good Times, and No Hate

The highest “goals” I ever found was to learn to see others as they see themselves, and also to see others as if they were already awake. Why would these goals be “high” goals? In my case, I wanted to see beyond my own perspective (which I knew was biased), and I wanted to understand others and life better.

Until we learn more about who each other is, there will be hate.

I understand hate as a kind of intense disgust, rejection, and turning away from another life.

Often people hate what they don’t understand or what threatens them. Since we don’t really understand each other or ourselves, we won’t feel safe. Thus, hatred is not going away any time soon.

It’s better to come clean when we hate, rather than pretending to be beyond it. It’s better to see our anger and fear than to project a saintly glow, which is likely to be fake.

But, we don’t have to act on everything we feel. Just studying our life and what turns us off is interesting in itself. Our reactions reveal something to us about who we are in relation to our lives. Often, such revelations cause us to let go more into the truth that lies hidden beyond who we want to be.

Simply Bringing Out the Best

We’ll be kinder and gentler around some people more than others. We’ll drive some people crazy and put others at ease. People will trigger each other unconsciously toward whatever they already believe about themselves. Often, certain self views are easier to stomach than others.

There is nothing simple about seperlatives. We have no clue what is best or worst. All we can see is that some stimuli make us uncomfortable and others put us at ease. Are we here to just make each other comfortable? Well, that contradicts challenging each other to be our best. Even what is best is subject to interpretation. Best for whom or what? For how long? Do we aim to be mostly comfortable with just a smidge of discomfort? Or mostly uncomfortable with a smidge of comfort? Does it matter?

It’s Appropriate That the Meme Was in B&W

It’s our nature to look for patterns and draw well-bounded conclusions. However, it is not yet second-nature for the human race to be deliberate and slow in how we listen, observe, and study our view of reality.

There really isn’t a best way to live. We are different and we can only live our lives to see what we are made of. If we change, the change will be a natural progression for us.

During a vulnerable moment, I considered changing for someone to make them more comfortable around me. Soon, I saw that it was both impossible and undesirable.

I have and am already changing. I’ve moved away from being able to have 1-1 intimate relationships. So what? There isn’t one right way to live, and I have no reason to force myself to be someone I am not. I’m grateful this is clear to me now, and I am also grateful that my life lets me meet many different people where I practice being who I am. I am happy that life set me up to learn that I am never alone and that it is OK for all people to try and learn who they are.

When People Talk, Who Are They Talking To?

If we consider that our view of the world is shaped by how our brains interpret reality, it’s amazing that we believe that we agree on so much. We have been able to create languages that capture some of our ideas, but there is so much that is absolutely unique to each of us and is never shared with anyone else. Thus, each of us is largely unknown to anyone else.

Our experiences do much more than imprint memories – they actually shape our nervous systems to select what is important, label what we perceive, and respond. It took me a long time to understand that people share much less than they think they do. When people listen, what they hear is passed through their filters. What people see and feel emotionally is also colored by their unique configurations. We all literally live in different worlds, and it is pretty amazing that we coexist despite such a great and invisible divide.

Social norms for behavior turn out to be critical for the human race. No matter how we work on the inside, we make a pact to – at least – present a predictable exterior to others and behave and talk in a certain way. Our norms help us to achieve basic interactions, and we end up hiding the rest of ourselves because there are literally no words. In fact, people pay no attention to the possibility that none of us perceive the same reality – same in ways that truly matter.

Often, when people talk, they are talking to their perceptions of a person in front of them – and not to the actual being. When the other person listens, they are not likely to hear the true intentions behind what is said because they are dealing with their own projection. We look each other in the eye, but fail to see anyone objectively. Why else would we spend so much of our time arguing, mincing words, studying nonverbal communication, and refining social norms?

Why do we marry people who most resemble our parents, or befriend those who are most like our best or worst beliefs about ourselves? Often, we are re-enacting our past. We see old dramas and traumas replaying, and we respond to them as if they are current and real – mostly unconsciously. Others are doing the same. We trigger one another’s fears and doubts, but very little of what we exchange is about the here and now.

We don’t see or hear the present – we are not wired to do so. During our formative years, we mould our perceiving pathways, and these stick into adulthood. Most of what we sense are impressions in a hall of mirrors.

Healing our old traumas helps us to move into the present. However, only enlightenment can break the mould we have constructed for ourselves, which prevents us from truly seeing and hearing others. Perhaps the most disconcerting realization is watching others interact with you while not really perceiving you at all. Then, you feel like a ghost.

The others – a part of them knows that something is amiss – that they too feel like ghosts. Just like in the movie The Others, both the dead and the living sense each other as ghosts. Everyone’s core loneliness is all too evident, and no one can put their finger on the reason why they feel alone among so many people.

There’s no quick fix to this dilemma of nearly every person living within a perception bubble of their own unconscious construction. There’s no clear-cut solution to attaining the much-sought-after trust.

People feel so happy when they make a new friend or fall in love – those initial days and months are all about playing into each other’s illusions. Eventually we all realize that we still feel alone and give way to the ingrained cycles of battling old enemies and reliving old crises. Most people are iTunes on single-repeat.

I’ve taken extreme measures to free myself from the prison of old wiring. I’ve been letting go of every crutch and prop I find, and I’m still not done. It’s incredible to see how much of my life was stuck in grooves. I was sleepwalking. And I sought out and found others who could readily trigger and reflect to me what I wanted to see.

My body has been purifying and aligning to seeing the world without a constructed self. It is not enough to awaken – the body must also rip apart old wiring, let go of everything that is not real, and create new pathways for relating to life.

I have been deconstructing my life piece by piece to eliminate what has nothing to do with who I am now. I no longer care if anyone sees me for who I am or understands me – the need for that is gone. Ironically, I do see clearly how they see me and why. There is acceptance that most people will not get me at all. However, I am the happiest I’ve ever been and dragging around less dead weight in my body. I’ve even lost weight after letting go of some people and situations.

The only reality is what lives me, and This is not locked into a repetitive pattern. I am more than OK that others find my methods strange and unwelcome. I feel the difference as my life becomes lighter, clearer, and uncluttered.

How do I know I am not still simply reliving the past in a blind stupor? Because I am dreaming new dreams and seeing the past as a projection on the present moment – I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I’ve stopped crafting tomorrow.

Living On A Tightrope

Most of us share a common belief that life is dangerous, unpredictable, and unforgiving. No matter how confident some may appear, there is fear purring in the core that everything is fragile and intent on ruin.

Perhaps this fear has been genetically passed down to us by our ancestors, surviving hunger, thirst, intense cold and heat, and the threat of wild animals. Some may even say that fear keeps us alive and is extremely valuable to our survival. We are constantly on guard, balancing on a tightrope over a bottomless abyss, and hoping that today it won’t swallow us up.

This fear of missteps and danger is hardwired into our nervous systems. We want to live and we are simultaneously terrified of life.

I feel this fear from nearly everyone around me. We step lightly as if constantly being watched by death, who may also be wearing the cloaks of failure, shame, and poverty. This is how it has been for thousands of years, and we are still nations powered by cortisol and temporary highs.

Prayer can be a powerful way to unravel core fear. But what do we pray for? The opposite of fear is surrender to the Divine. We can pray to let go into the Divine – let go completely. We pray to stall the gears that cling to control every aspect of our lives. We do our best and surrender everything, even the focus on surrender.

Deep inside, we know that we have no control and interpret that as weakness. However, there is strength and freedom in the wisdom that we are vulnerable, ephemeral, and our lives brighten and dim. There is profound mystery in the life process, which can only be felt while letting go – not holding on.

I do not pray for wealth, comfort, or certainty. I pray to let go ever more deeply into the mystery that lives all of us. I pray to live a life of gratitude and wonderment. I pray to tread lightly with profound respect for all life. I breathe the same air that filled the lungs of others and carried birds and butterflies across continents. I borrow the atoms of those who lived before me. I am thankful. Period.

I walk my tightrope as if it were a giant bridge. What is the point of quivering? Humanity wants to be sure of something – anything. Well, we can be sure of now. And that certainly is humbling.

Even deeper than our fear is the knowledge of the present, giving of Itself to us. When we hear its song, we let ourselves be free of wishing, calculating, and maneuvering. We stop thinking, speaking, and doing, and we begin to listen.

While life wants us to live, people primarily want themselves to live – and to live well. With all of our technology and ability to soften our surroundings, there is a lack of consensus that we can wish each other well. We judge one another to determine our place on the food chain, and we fear that we are not at the top. We hate the ones who have more of what we think we want. We hate ourselves for being so breakable.

I do not care that there are those who appear to have more than me because I believe that there is enough for everyone. Maybe if we all saw this, the entire puzzle of survival would vanish. Maybe the narrowmindedness of short-term gains would simply disappear and a new reality of coexistence with each other and the planet would emerge?

True power is in knowing that we are completely interconnected in life and in death. True power is living life to the brightest torch to which we can align and let go of the rest.

There is an absolute moral compass that always points toward true north. The heart of the human race is true and pure, regardless of the soiled vestments we may wear. 7.6 billion equals 1. Always 1.

Self-Esteem: Ego or Enlightenment?

Self-esteem, from an ego perspective, consists of three distinct processes: continuously forming an identity, evaluating an identity (comparing), and then maintaining and protecting one’s identity. These processes have operated in humanity for thousands of years and literally determine how alive or real a person feels:

  • “Who am I?”
  • “Do I have value?” (relative to others)
  • “When my identity is threatened, I must defend it at all costs.”

The stronger the identity, the more reinforcement it requires, and the more alive the person feels when the ego is well fed. It is fragile and delicate, but also vicious.

People who have developed a strong positive view of self have a very strong will to exercise their confidence in the world. They want to achieve things, have ambition, take risks to try new things, and are driven by failures as opportunities for growth. Such people are deemed successful by society, where success is measured by one’s potential to make life work out – productive career, enjoying work, accumulating wealth and status, being surrounded by those who love and even adore us, and being recognized for our achievements. Maybe these personas will project an image of not needing others to validate them, but they are constantly looking for the world to say “You’ve done good!” and, maybe, “I envy you.”

People with a strong negative self view define themselves to be limited, are unable to see their potential, and perceive setbacks as further validation that life does not work – perhaps, life can never work. Paradoxically, such people are constantly seeking positive recognition, but focus exclusively on what they consider their failures to reinforce the belief that they are doomed to fail. They live as if the deck is always stacked against them, develop a persona to mask their insecurities, and take action out of fear that they will be ultimately exposed as fake. Such people hide from life to avoid exposure, which is severely painful and embarrassing to them.

In reality, a person identifies with both positive and negative aspects. Interestingly, when the self is threatened or confronted by life situations, the ego will take over a seemingly nice person and they are transformed into a creature that is driven by pure fear. The person lashes out, behaves like a cornered animal, exercises tactics of dominance and manipulation, and wishes destruction upon anyone challenging or exposing their fragile self-view. There is also a high degree of paranoia that blindly projects one’s intentions onto anyone who opposes the egoic position.

During a confrontation or a heated situation, an ego loses the capacity to discern which part is itself vs. which part is owned by someone else. It equates love and support with those who reinforce its walls, and equates a threat with those who confront it. Ego wants to feel power and force, but these are fleeting and must be constantly fed.

From an ego-free perspective, the ruffled ego is self-absorbed, defensive, offensive, and an expression of fear. Enlightenment is difficult for ego to even imagine because the ego has such a strong compulsion to defend itself at all costs – it is a very strong and stable process, hardwired in humanity to do what it does. What is most striking is that ego has such a limiting effect on a being that it is painful to watch. It’s as if someone found a penny on the street and fights off others from taking it away using heavy artillery.

Ego creates karma, and egolessness unwinds karma and catalyzes healing.

There is a myth that an enlightened being must give everything away and give in to the wishes of others – if one is not attached, why have anything? However, while living on Earth and in a body, no life can continually give of itself and survive. In fact, acts of martyrdom are typically unnecessary because Life wants us to live and to express. An enlightened being will balance giving and receiving what is needed to sustain one’s life and ability to shine. In other words, such a being will sometimes be called to fight for his or her life (and the lives for whom this being is responsible) because life is a valued treasure. However, at the core, there is no attachment to the outcome – just complete surrender to that which lives the body.

This lack of passivity in enlightened beings is very difficult for egos to understand and can be misinterpreted to be just another ego. I think that most people expect enlightenment to be about giving away all of one’s possessions and walking around and begging for food. An enlightened being will do so only if necessary, but will also gladly accept a life of comfort. If there is no comfort and begging is a necessity, there are no tears about it.

While there is no attachment to any situation, the enlightened being will not just give everything away – there is none of “Take whatever you need and go.” That is a denegration of life: like the tree that bears fruit and all come and strip it bare without caring for it at all, taking the fruit and the tree for granted.

Fighting for life is appropriate and is not a sign of unenlightenment. Such a fight will look for ways to end a battle in a way where all are healed.

Conversely, fighting as ego – as an identity – is a limiting endeavor. Because an ego feels little to nothing beyond the things and people that sustain it or threaten it, the ego is like a rabid animal that bites and gnaws and relishes in pain – it could care less about all coming out of the battle healed. The flared ego has no empathy – no capacity to understand others or to take a big-picture view of a situation. The ego only sees itself in everything and everyone.

The ego will refuse to recognize a free being because that would be its certain death, and it must prevail. The free being must tango and tussle with egos, handle the attacks, but is fundamentally immersed in a state of peace, awe, and gratitude in Life.

Self-esteem that is based in ego is very different than the value an enlightened being acknowledges of one’s life.

What threatens your sense of self? As long as someone is there to be threatened, self-esteem is just a game of dominance for one’s world view.

A healed life esteem does not seek to harm others and, in fact – wishes to help others heal, but also takes no shit and often pops the fragile bubbles that hold hostage the light within us all.

Confusing Enlightenment With Being A Better You

Most people market enlightenment as becoming the best one can be – a nice, calm person that says extremely wise things and is adept at living life to the max.

Self-help movements are packaging “basic-sanity” life skills under Growth Mindset, “Grit,” Habits of Mind, Social Emotional Competence (SEC), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Mindfulness. When properly engaged, everyone can benefit from greater self-awareness, self-management, resilience, perseverance, and empathy. The qualities of the hero are as relevant now as they were thousands of years ago. These qualities are excellent at helping us discover and build an identity that skillfully moves through our societal structures and experiences meaning in life. But, this is not enlightenment.

Enlightenment is the dissolution of the mechanism we use to build, refine, and maintain an identity – a sense of “I am this” or “I did that.” As long as there is still someone there, that consciousness is not free and remains limited by the boundaries that define the “I.” Unfortunately, the mechanism of the ego is impossible to understand while being an ego. At some later point in our evolution, the definition of enlightenment will change.

But, in the here and now, why would anyone want to get rid of the sense of self? Isn’t the whole point of being here to become a strong person that can successfully navigate life’s challenges, feel confident, and influence others? To most people at this time, that is the point. In most cases, there must be a strong identity before that identity can be dissolved.

However, some people are born feeling like they’ve been there and done that, so to speak. They usually have a number of natural talents and a strong personality from a very young age. But, they also feel like they are missing something critical in life no matter what activity they engage or what they try to accomplish. There is this constant tone of emptiness in nearly every experience, no matter how “peak.” The process of enlightenment can culminate for such people in this life. They are ready to let go because they have something to let go of.

Currently, the most certain way to transcend the entire dilemma of being an “I” is to be connected to a being who is free of ego. The reason this connection is necessary is because such a being serves as the bridge to help an ego-bound person see that which they need to let go. Without the bridge, ego perpetuates more ego. The connection happens rather mysteriously and beyond space and time – the “connected” being deepens and grows even while no in-person communication takes place.

When the path of self-dissolution is engaged prematurely, it can damage the delicate psyche that is still in the process of forming. In fact, most people are equipped with a natural protection that rejects the enlightened being. They find something wrong or suspect with such a “person,” project their fears and perceptions onto that “person,” and walk away.

Of course, an enlightened being never takes this defensiveness personally and feels no pain at the apparent rejection of the state of awareness he or she represents. The free being recognizes when a cookie needs more time in the oven and continues shining his or her presence as a beacon without any efforting. This being is there for all, but specifically and directly for those who are ready to release something that no longer serves them. For the rest, the enlightened character remains a blank screen onto which they project their doubts, fears, and beliefs – there is literally no one there.

What does life become after one is a no one? Well, something else kicks in. The enlightened consciousness is no longer looking for ways to fortify its value in life and, instead, engages in a deeper level of empathy – relationship – with existence. Information is continually pouring in, and pure awareness receives it and feels it in ways that are free of mental processing and emotional residue. There is never a feeling of boredom. There is constant creativity. Brain patterns are nonlinear and hyperlinked, rather than storyboarded.

The ability to be fully at rest and at peace is always available, regardless of whatever life presents. The brain is no longer bogged down by endless, looping thoughts. Furthermore, rather than trying to cultivate and control one’s presentation, there is a wild freedom to be whatever in any given moment. Perfection, poise, grace – these are the characteristics defined out of the need to control, but the enlightened being lives immersed in the uncontrollable in complete surrender.

To most people, an enlightened presence is irritating and confusing. You cannot really explain such a presence to others to sway them from their projections. The situation is what it is. In fact, most enlightened souls stay away from society because their very presence is a threat to what the majority need at this time. Living with an enlightened being is impossible for most adults whose consciousness has reached a certain level of rigidity.

Children are more open to the flexible nature of enlightenment – they are naturally available to humor, changing the rules of the game, or spontaneous decisions. But even then, not all kids.

Eventually, we will all be free. Right now, humanity must go through what it is going through. Advanced beings have always been available to those who needed them – existence is intelligent and interconnected. Such beings evolved over lifetimes because, at the right time, someone else was there for them.

Relationships That Teach

Have you ever had a relationship where you were compelled to be and to act a certain way? You may have felt like you were living somewhere between awake and asleep. You made choices. You felt the pain you caused. And you also felt pain from others. Perhaps you had moments of peace, laughter, joy, and that magical feeling of sharing something.

Then, when the relationship was done, you stepped back and saw it from all angles. You saw yourself through the eyes of the other person, and you saw yourself through your awakened eyes. You felt grief for being the person that you were, you felt remorse, and then… you forgave yourself and let go.

Some relationships are just compressed springs in a mattress – they hold energy that must eventually be released to free us. We enter a relationship because we are trapped in a half-conscious slumber – acting out old habits and perpetuating fears. And yet, we click with that specific person to go through it all. If we don’t learn, we just rinse and repeat the same situations again and again. Each time, there is an opportunity to wake up and make different choices.

It is incredibly hard to forgive yourself. It is much easier to live with a feeling of self-hatred. If you knew better, you would have done different. If you let yourself see you through the eyes of others and allow all those feelings of disgust and shame to rise up, you can eventually let go. You must survive this storm of feeling separation from yourself and come out on the other side. Then, there is healing. You feel like you no longer need karmic relationships. You feel done with acting out life dramas. You let go of needing pain to wake you up.

We are certain when a relationship begins and are just as certain when it ends. There is no ambiguity and no wavering. When all the springs unwind, there is no longer any need to be right. There is only compassion for the actors on the stage who served each other through the growing pains, including yourself.

If you remain bitter after a relationship, then you are sure to repeat the experience again. If you hold on to who was right and who was wrong, then you miss the bigger picture that both were enslaved by illusion. If you forgive – a gentle and surrendered tone of existence – you open your eyes and the chains break.

After freedom, you no longer feel passion as an uncontrollable compulsion. Those movie scenes where people are munching on each other’s faces and ripping clothes off? That’s craziness. That’s hunger. However, you must experience this hunger until you see the emptiness of such a brute-force approach to living. Eventually, the craving for that kind of passion dissolves and there is peace.

All of us were hungry for something at one point or another. We all will or have gone through this. The pain wakes us up and we see its futility. Tragedy. Drama. Thrillers. Horror. All genres of life blend into a single controversy of what happens when you don’t know who you are. We all have to go through it to find out, and then we let go.

After you are purified by the fire of teaching relationships, you no longer have such relationships. Then, you have a different way of interacting with people. You are still learning, but as an awakened presence being Itself – not as a Shakesperian actor. You are no longer baited into fear or hunger.

If you are in crisis, ask yourself – what are you holding on to? It’s rarely something outside of yourself, and is typically a belief you are terrified of having about yourself.

You cannot hold on to people or things – there is nothing to own here. The harder you try, the faster everything slips your grasp. While people and things can be a part of your life one day, they can just as easily disappear the next day. The disposition of holding on and trying to freeze the moment must eventually unwind because it only generates that dreaded feeling of loss.

We are raised to covet wealth, couplehood, endless fun, and exotic experiences. But underneath all that, we just want to feel like we are OK. When we make peace with ourselves, a new vista opens before us. An unexplored dimension that assumes we have learned everything that emotion and passion have to offer.

I am neither the first nor the last to cross over into this dimension of life that rests on unconditional love of oneself – and therefore everyone else. I stopped grasping at branches along the shore, allowed the rapids to take me downstream, and became indistinguishable from the water flow.

Living Out of the Box

Our tendency is to take most of our life experiences for granted. We learn how to walk until we forget that we walk. We learn how to interpret what we see until we become blinded by the familiar. We weave our perception of life using our nervous systems and forget that our perspective is relative. Researchers call this phenomenon learning. I call it forgetting. Researchers say that the ability to perform basic tasks unconsciously frees us up to take on more challenging puzzles. I say that most people stop taking on more challenging, irregular, and innovative patterns of thinking after they get the basics and fall deeper into unconsciousness.

The mindfulness movement emerged as a way to help us remember the basics of how and what we experience. Paying attention to the breath and sensations helps one bring oneself into the moment and away from the traps of memories or future fantasies.

Mindfulness is not new – it has been fundamental to many meditation practices. Mindfulness is a repackaged version of old wisdom, reawakened to lure us out of autopilot. Living on automatic makes life pass by quickly and dims creativity until we are stuck in a box that looks like millions of other boxes. But we are more than this….

Living out of the box is a way of daring ourselves to remain awake. I like to feel awake. The feeling of being conscious liberates me to use my intuition, which moves in sparks and nonlinear flashes. For example, the other day I was reviewing a dream I had, where beings live on a planet that is close to both a bright blue star and a black hole. The light on the planet is a golden yellow that permeates and saturates the experience of these beings – everything is colored by this golden glow. Instead of treating this experience as background music to be filtered, the beings on this planet relate to the golden light as if it were a living presence – the glue between all. How often do we relish our liking of perceiving color? Maybe striking sunsets or sunrises catch our attention for brief moments, but we do not respond to all seeing this way.

Another lesson I learned from this dream is that the nervous systems of these beings are attuned to the strong gravity of both the star and the black hole. Their physiologies interpret gravity just like we hear sound! The black hole causes them to hear and feel a deep tone, droning through their existence. And the gravity of the star produces its own tone. They interpret gravity as sound – amazing! But no more magical than our ability to process light energy as color. The music to which these being are exposed is treated as something mystical and holy, and they are consciously listening to it.

You may say Who cares? Being aware of something as commonplace as light and sound that is always there doesn’t seem very interesting. And yet, as I feel what I see, and truly listen to the subtlety of what I hear, my entire life takes on a more nuanced texture.

Our lives have increasingly become about looking for the next rush. We crave something fresh, invigorating, and otherworldly. I watched some kids browsing YouTube…. They could only pay attention for a few seconds before jumping to the next video. They wanted the punchline without any buildup. They wanted a high on a continuous basis because their perception has become a giant callous. Even if they see something new and creative, they miss it. Their speediness through life is the walls of their box, holding them prisoner of dull emptiness.

If we unlock our ability to slow down and feel how we perceive, we dive deeper into existence and further from repetition. Life is literally countless frames per second, but we skim its surface like mosquitoes on a lake. We can only hear and see a minute fraction because our perception is out of sync with life – our need for speed disconnects us from reality, which gives us much more than we are now capable of receiving.

One last thought…. Have you ever caught yourself liking something and reflected on the feeling without the object that caused it? In my dream, I really liked the golden light and the low frequencies of the black hole. I could not peel away from how differently life consciousness worked on that planet. But then, I stepped away from the dream and just drowned in the feeling of liking. I was completely immersed in that while participating in my life.

We can never hit the bottom of existence because we have the ability to create it, and not to simply consume it. Our consumer culture is now about much more than the obsession to buy things. In fact, we have developed a taste for feeding on existence without creating anything ourselves. We are the vampires and the zombies, dead and hungry. We want to feel full infinity, but are stuck in insatiable hunger instead. We feed off relationships and stimuli to feel alive, but are dead only moments later and already planning the next heist. We are enraged that our hunger only grows. Those who do create cannot create fast enough.

We could stop the hunger completely and live fully, give back, and slow down until we feel the grains in a mirror and the subtle vibrations we call atoms. Wisdom and fullness lies in subtlety, which cannot be rushed. Wisdom cannot survive in a box. We cannot be alive in a box.

When Creativity Is On the Line

I was talking to a student today about choosing courses. The student was reluctant to take a more challenging course next year because he didn’t want to do a science research project. After more conversation, he decided that he was terrified that his research project would fail or that he would not have any creative ideas.

The fear he felt looked a lot like the fear of life: we make a committment without knowing the outcome, we are born to be unique without knowing what that looks like, and we are given raw material without the plans (bacause we are the dynamic, living plans). Life can be frightening because nothing guarantees that we will “succeed.”

I felt puzzled while listening to the student – how can one carry so much doubt about having creative ideas? I am always in creative mode: moving, adjusting, reevaluating, researching, asking “what if…”, and ceaselessly reconfiguring my understanding of the questions I want to ask next. But then I remembered that I had similar issues in the past: I worried that I would not have the right answer when I needed to have one ready, or I wouldn’t be able to complete something in time, or whatever I do would not be good enough. I don’t fully remember these feelings now, but I could see their essence through the eyes of this student.

We didn’t talk about life. We talked about ways to approach having creative ideas and allowing ideas to take shape. We talked about looking at work that was done previously, and then saying “What would happen if I changed this…? What would happen if I tried this…?”

Creativity is a billion-dollar subject. People can’t stop talking about innovation to create the “world we can’t even imagine yet” (an overused phrase). In terms of everyday living, such dreams are usually tied into money and profits, which translate to “I can do whatever I want after I make money.

In deeper life terms, spontaneity and creativity are tied into something much more profound than the means to gratify every desire instantly. Creativity is actually about accessing and expressing our true nature, which is flexible, flowing, adept at stitching together bits and pieces into complete creations, and ripping apart old monuments at the right time to make space for change. Creativity does not take any established ideas for granted, and always reevaluates them for how viable they remain.

What we create is a reflection of the art we feel ourselves to be. Both our desire and calling to be creative is a hint that we are more than laborers, or shoppers, or bill-payers. There is something much more magical that unites all of us in the stream of life.

If we believe ourselves to be plastic toy soldiers, popped out of a mould, it may feel safer. Or, we may get behind someone else who seems to know how to move without hesitation – just like when trucks drive behind one another to minimize air resistance. Maybe then we feel like something about life is tried and true and safe.

However, we buy this feeling of safety at a steep cost – our very uniqueness, our self worth, and drawing boundaries around our existence – which we dare never cross. This is what people call a normal life. It is no wonder that highly creative people often stood apart from the crowd, and sometimes stood apart from the mass majority. When these icebreakers owned up to the truth of their being, they no longer fit into the rank and file of society. Their lives were tragic when they cared too much about being out of place, and also made of legend.

To be creative, one has to learn how to play. The toys don’t matter, as long as they help one to express their true nature in new and evolving ways. However, boundless confidence to be creative is not enough without the recognition that we impact the lives of others. Without empathy and compassion, we are mere powertools. Just because we can create many things does not mean that everything should be created.

With power to create comes great responsibility. It is wonderful when our nature is hardwired with kindness. Until we are on automatic, we must take great care to cultivate sensitivity to the big picture of life. If everyone’s creativity spontaneously ignited without the complementary awakening of the heart, humanity would self destruct rather quickly – and in very creative ways!

After our conversation, the student felt hopeful about his ability to try and you could see his creativity begin to move. He has to put himself into action and see the project through to the end. We talked about building something that would benefit others.

He has to experience his ability to live with a situation that does not have a set outcome, and come through with a feeling of knowing himself just a bit more. With each experience, he will learn to recognize when and how to move in life to express his uniqueness within community.

Dispositions for Life

Doubt and gratitude. Avoidance and engagement. Giving and receiving. Fear and love. These are some of the ways we can relate to life, and our life disposition affects the dynamics of our life situations. Whether negative or constructive, our life disposition helps us to feel alive because, at our core, most of us feel that we are not really real. Feeling something intensely brings us a feeling of solidity, and we configure our lives for this rush – not necessarily for the truth.

It was eye-opening for me to learn the phrase “Form is Function” in Anatomy & Physiology. I imagined our body cells as having “hooks” of a certain shape (form) to hook and absorb molecules of a complementary shape (function). The cells that lacked receptors of a certain shape would not engage with certain molecules at all.

I imagined the microscopic world as puzzle pieces that either fit and interacted, or remained unaware of each other. Our life dispositions act as such hooks or filters for our life experiences. In a sense, we form our life view, and that determines how we move or function through life.

I see our bodies as vortices that either attract or repel other vortices. For example, there is a shape to the vortex of doubt. Doubt pulls in energy from others to fortify itself – and not to help a person feel less doubt. Such a person is continuously battling the sensation of losing cohesion and wants to achieve stability: Do they like me? Am I likable? Am I lovable? Does my life have value? Does anything I do have meaning? Maybe that person believes I am not someone others can like or  I can never succeed, and this belief becomes the way that person moves in and perceives the world.

If doubt feels like we will fall apart at any moment, we engage with life to fortify – usually requiring someone else to feed us that I am lovable, or that No one likes or loves me. The irony is that doubt seeks whatever reinforces itself using our beliefs, either positive or negative. Doubt perpetuates only more doubt and warps whatever may disrupt its flow to fit its needs.

We have a choice to see through our life dispositions and choose the ones that are most open-ended, and – thus – closest to clear perception. Love is open-ended and does not relate to life based on past or future fears. Love does not have memory or history. It is uncaused and unbased on prior events. This is confusing to most people – How can one love me after what I said or did? I don’t trust that. To most human beings, love is conditioned.

Post-enlightenment, love sees through temporary limitations to the eternal qualities of each person and begins fresh in each moment.

Imagine that you had a disagreement with someone and strong words were exchanged. Then, that person approaches you with a loving gesture. You recoil. You think it’s manipulation of some sort. So, you restore the conflict to keep your sense of continuity and linear time. You cling to your history, without realizing that love had already moved on.

People are more comfortable in a state of conflict. Even their so-called vulnerable moments are ploys to vampirically suck someone’s life force to fuel themselves. They mistake their cries of hunger for being vulnerable, whereas they are really playing dead to get something. If the food doesn’t come and they are left to starve, anger kicks in and resentment flies in all directions. There is a temporary sense of power. It feels real, but the whole thing is a sham. It would have been much simpler to start fresh in the moment where love is possible. But that requires giving up the need to control.

People cling desperately to what they interpret about life, which may be distorted and twisted. They will defend what they feel to the exclusion of how others fit into the bigger picture. In reality, what matters most is not their position, but their willingness and flexibility to flow towards love instead of continuing friction.

People fear being perceived as weak, and their fear is obvious and transparent. For most, love is an impossible choice unless there have been many gestures to fortify their ego. Love, for such beings, cannot start at any moment and be uncaused – it must be earned by countless gifts. Even if there were countless gifts, these must be recognized and valued by an ego – there is no guarantee that what you give is valued. That is a shadow of love and a sign of limit-clinging nature.

Friction sparks continue to fly as people feed on each other to try to feel whole. But the hole remains, and the hunger is unabated to become the only reality. Until we see through this dynamic, love is impossible. Love will be a diminished version of its full possibility, reduced to the mere stroking of a person’s sense of self. Then, anyone who refuses to play this game must be truly evil. But there is another possibility – the starved are simply stuck in a way of relating and will negate loving gestures because they don’t fit.

To accept such a view would mean certain death to self-absorbed living. Who would be stupid enough to sacrifice the self for love?

Solitude

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much I enjoy solitude.

What a stark contrast to the time when I was a child and into most of my adult life, when I still felt that I could not be alone. It was an old habit to feel like I needed company. The belief that I could not be alone sat there, in the body, untested and unchallenged.

Now when I am alone, I enjoy being alone. I daily interact with a few good friends, colleagues, and many students, but I recharge and come alive when all is quiet around me. I relax. I do not feel lonely or lacking. I can create, be aware, feel, perceive – in solitude I can listen to life uninterrupted.

Sometimes the past is sticky and people become entangled in odd ways – even when they are ready to part ways. Such entanglements are much like illness, which sits in the body and must run its course.

One could say that illness is bad, sad, or painful. But if it is there – even after everything has been tried to heal it, then it is there. It is part of life. Another lens to see through or past.

Lingering relationships are not unlike an unavoidable illness, and it is easy to view these ties as irritants. But whatever cannot be controlled must be lived through. Even though I feel ready to be free of such relationships, a couple remain tethered. So, they must run their course and must be embraced.

I used to think that it was important for me to be understood. Today I learned that I no longer care about that. If someone caused me pain, it turned out not to matter to me if they get it. It is liberating to not want or wait for sincere apologies or accountability.

Why do some people irritate us? Hurt us? Hate us? Blame us? Why do we do the same? I challenge myself to see if I hold grudges. I challenge my beliefs about old ways of relating to people. I’ve found that there is no hatred or bitterness in me anymore. The fact that I choose to not spend time or exchange pleasantries with certain people is not a sign of hatred or bitterness – just a wish to be free of whatever wants to see me as someone other than I am. Such interactions feel needlessly draining.

When we have a talent, it is not always necessary for us to use it. When there are certain people near us, it is not always necessary to let them in.

It may seem cold and heartless – even strange – to cut off certain people. Isn’t all relationship welcome? Of course not. We are not all here to get along – at least, not in the way we imagine getting along. While neediness and insecurity persists, it is impossible to be oneself in the company of certain people. And, it is impossible for me to artificially stroke someone’s need for validation, which is a bottomless sinkhole.

I won’t sacrifice whatever time I have left here to false idols. I realized that I no longer care if I am liked because I know who I am. Perhaps that just comes with age. My understanding about friendship and family is evolving beyond the usual definitions that involve us getting something. I see relationships as being about giving without sacrificing who we are, which is not possible with all or most people at this time.

I feel an unwavering resolve to allow others to live their life as they must. People come here to do very specific things, but they get caught up in experiences and stay past their time in relationships that ended long ago. Then, it takes a lot of force to push them out of complacency and onto their rightful track. They see it as cruelty, but it is a gift that makes it easier for them to move on. If they cannot bring themselves to move forward, then what is left to do but to give them a strong push.

If you are in a dead-end relationship, consider how much of yourself you can pull back. Find out if solitude frightens you. If it does, that is a sign that you are clinging to the world for something that you don’t believe you already have.

Meanwhile, be mindful of your responsibilities. Most tend to feel that they owe people much less than they really do – especially at the end of a relationship.

My children come before everything else. They are the priority because I accepted that responsibility. If you have children, then your divorce is not a complete and final separation until your children have fully grown. You are tied to the situation, until it has run its course. So, buckle in and own as much of what is yours as possible.

I do not know whether I will be alive in a decade or what I will be doing. It surprises me that I do not dwell on it. So much change occurs in my life constantly as I follow Life’s lead. I’ve surrendered my life. This surrender has only made it more clear that I have outgrown most things I thought I needed or wanted. It is OK – whatever comes, I will see it through. Either in solitude or among good friends who can be themselves and allow me to be myself. Often, the price of company, companionship, and so-called love is too steep, as it masks the need to hide or to escape the moment that was meant for us alone.