Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Power of Looking Outwatd

Walking around Phoenix Lake, my body and mind open, receiving every sensation. Two weeks of rain saturate each molecule of moss, blade of grass, grain of tree bark, and vein of the countless leaves. My eyes feast on the lush radiance. in...the earth's richness inundate my senses.

Then, of its own volition, consciousness turns. The rays of creation no longer converge on the point of "me." Instead, seeing radiates from my eyes, touch flows from my fingers. It all moves from stillness and peace into stillness and peace. For a moment, my wants are traded for nature's wants. My delights shift to nature's delights. This turn of awareness is not driven by guilt or strain or sacrifice. It is simply perceiving the life energy already circulating through every grain of creation. For a moment I am free of my mind's nagging concerns. I am but one of countless portals through which life flows into itself. I am at peace with what is because I am what is. I am what is continuously dissolving and continuously emerging. For a moment, this rotation of awareness turns my life into Life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finding Safety in the Whirlpool

"Why is it so hard for me to feel safe in my own life?" Lindsey Mead asks this core question in the latest post on her blog, A Design so Vast. It's a beautiful, honest post that articulates what most people feel when the neon curtain of the 10,000 distractions parts for a moment. In those spaces of clarity we see that obtaining safe levels of food, shelter, clothing, love and delight is a pursuit with no end in sight. If we don't attempt to answer Lindsey's question, our lives will be burdened by the dread of constant danger.

So, what is genuine safety and what threatens it? We define safety as a condition where our minds, bodies, loved ones and surroundings are protected from injury or loss. We feel safe when we believe our lives are intact and whole and nothing will violate that completeness. To establish safety, we build lives that have a footing of certainty with a few delightful surprises on the side. We look for predictable patterns of nourishment, detect enemies and create sheltering structures. We eat safe food, associate with safe people and go to safe places. We believe we can achieve lasting safety by solidifying structures and patterns of healthy support.

The problem is, life doesn't cooperate. The concrete footings, brick walls, and slate roofs of our life-sheltering structures are shaken by earthquakes of change. Working harder, acting smarter, or loving more, will not hold off the tides of transformation. Building green cities, eating organic food, meditating and doing yoga all day make make living smoother and more comfortable. It will not halt aging and eventual death. Investing with the smartest money manager does not prevent the market from rising and falling. Arming ourselves with nuclear weapons and tanks, doesn't prevent wounds to our armor. As long as we pursue the strategy of safety through solidity we will feel threatened because life is not a solid object.

To feel safe, requires that we acknowledge and accept life as an ongoing process of birth and death, gain and loss, balance and imbalance. Instead of believing we can force life into being solid ground, we must engage life as a fluid ocean. Not because I say so, but because it is the nature of life. To engage life as a fluid process requires us to abandon the old tricks we used to inhabit our illusions of solid ground. Trying to always stand at the head of the food line and keeping the burglar alarm on high alert doesn't work in in a watery world with no center and no circumference. Feeling safe in an ever-shifting world requires that we allow ourselves to be as fluid as that world. We leave off looking for the fixed pattern and enter the moving patterns. We leave off waving our feet toward rock bottom and circle our arms with the curl of the waves. We leave off seeing cycles of beginning and endings as enemies and invite them in as friends bringing unexpected renewal.

Essential to feeling truly safe in to be aware that the only thing that doesn't change is not an object we can hold onto. It's also not an object we can push away. Yet, the safe place we seek is already and always here, now. It is the silence permeating our words and the stillness surrounding our actions. To paraphrase and ancient scripture: Earthquakes cannot shake it. Tsunami's cannot wet it. Wildfires cannot burn it. H1N1 cannot kill it. Famine cannot starve it. Terrorists cannot explode it.

Containing and permeating constant change, is the non-changing spacious silence of awareness. It's been there from the moment we were born and there through every transformation we have passed. The safety of this ungraspable, unavoidable spacious awareness is the real you. It's the you that is unaffected by the whirlpool of constant change. We know this deeper than in our bones, yet we forget. In our forgetting, the safety that is already and always here is obscured.

Yet, for as long as we have been forgetting the real safety within the whirlpool of change there have been wise, loving people to help us remember. Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, Lao-Tsu are some of the many celebrities gently and not so gently tapping us on the shoulder, reminding us that things aren't as they appear, that we are living the human journey of discovering the mysteries of being within becoming. They aren't the only ones to help us remember. Most often, it's the person beside you. In some unexpected way, they poke a hole in your fear and reveal the safe spacious awareness you are.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Wisdom of Eating Duality

My last post of the image I called "The Blissful Serpent" stirred some passionate responses. The photo, gleaned from the Madonna Portal at Notre Dame Cathedral, depicts the snake who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. In this case, the wily serpent is portrayed as a radiant, sensual woman. Jo Braun, an artist in Seattle, pointed out a much overlooked detail in the story: the God character is the only one in the narrative who lies. God deceives Adam and Eve by telling them that eating from the tree at the center of the garden will kill them. But, the first couple ignore the warning label and bite into the fruit. Instead of dropping dead, "their eyes were opened."

What is the lie that doesn't kill you and opens your eyes? The carving in the photo above depicts the moment when Eve eats the apple. Around the left side of the pillar is another carving portraying God warning Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree. Around the right side of the pillar, a third carving shows God expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden. Warning, Partaking and Excluding appear to be the gestures of deception that reveals Truth.

The central figure in all these images is the serpent. Her movement animates the story. She also reveals the key to understanding the deception that uncovers Truth. Here's what I see. The serpent embodies the flow of consciousness becoming aware of itself. When the unified field of awareness appears to split into the awarenesses of the Perceiver and the Perceived, the wholeness of life appears to break into opposites: good and evil, light and dark, love and hate. Believing that these opposites are the only reality of life is ignorance. Believing these opposites will kill us the big lie. Stuck in the belief that we as Perceivers are separate from what we Perceive, we forget that we are already whole. We turn life into a pursuit for objects that will complete us. Attempting to heal a life that appears broken, but is actually whole, reinforces the lie and sends us on an endless round of chasing our own tails. As long as we believe this lie, we live in fear that we will never be whole again.

Yet this lie reveals a core truth. The opposites may appear separate, but they are actually one. By appearing to stand apart, opposites frame a gate through which creative energy flows from latent potential into vivid manifestation. Through this gate, the world sees unity behind the forms of duality.

In the story of Eden, God's lie allows Adam and Eve to engage the full spectrum of life's possibilities. The one-dimensional harmony of blind ignorance offers no place for the creative powers of life to flow. The joy of birth cannot radiate without the poignancy of death. The beauties of light cannot shine without shades of darkness.
The serpent is actually the hero in the story. Despite God's warning not to eat the fruit of duality, the serpent still urges the first couple to taste the sweet juice. By swallowing duality Adam and Eve awaken to a magnified unity, a oneness that includes all possibilities. After that awakening, the one dimensional Eden was no longer their true home.

The tale of rediscovering primal unity carries Adam and Eve out of Eden. Their exile represents the work of applying a magnified unity to daily life. Discovering unity within new and unexpected pairs of opposites works the vital mysteries of creation deeper into the bones. It presses the awakening of unity further into the earth. Like I imagine the Adam and Eve characters doing again and again, we can weave duality into the field of unity, perceiving astonishing patterns and possibilities emerge. With weaving we can engage the fluid energies of the serpent and find her radiant joy and beauty filling the already full world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti Blog Challenge

As Part of the Haiti Blog Challenge
I will donate to Doctors Without Borders
the full price of the first ten copies purchased of

My book A Home for the Soul $25.00 each
My dvd on world sacred places The Living Temple $15.00 each

To Order
contact me at
Contact me on Twitter @AnthonyLawlor

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Blissful Serpent

I've been trying to write a blog about this photo for a few days. It's taken from one of the portals at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It depicts the serpent tempting Adam and Eve to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden. When I discovered this image, it was love at first sight. I was astonished by the figure's sensual joy. This wasn't the sleazy lounge lizard usually described in the story of the fall. Instead, it presented a whole different story. Rather than posting a long-winded analysis, I'll just introduce her to you and let you have a dialogue. I'm very interested in hearing what you see.

Monday, January 11, 2010

After-Vision: The Power of Reaching into the Gap

Vision was the easy part. Maybe you starved yourself in a desert, leaped into the abyss or abandoned a cozy security palace to see it, but the vision of what you were made for is just the curtain parting. Instead of beholding a stage filled with characters and plot lines, what do you see? Nothing. Vision isn't a filling up. It's a tearing away, an emptying out. It's not the full blown story dancing in the rear view mirror. It's seeing through the old tales to the fresh, spacious, roadless road ahead. Vision's momentum propels us forward, but not through a pre-carved slot. Vision presses us onto a field of possibilities. Cultivating the potential fruits requires that we reach into unknowable soil and work with unseen forces.

When vision brings us face to faceless face with the unknown, the usual response is to run. We sprint away by burying ourselves in someone else's noble cause, distracting ourselves with all manner of important things, or by crawling under the covers and assuming the fetal position. Yet, whatever direction we race, the nagging, undefined purpose of our vision is waiting with its silent call.

At some point all excuses have been exhausted, or we're too exhausted to run anymore. Our vision seizes us again and we accept its call. What's the first step we wonder. This is our sacred mission and we don't want to blow it by making the wrong move. So we stall a little longer mediating, journaling, talking to our best friend, communing with the trees and maybe howling at the moon.

Finally, we get real and start. We pick up the pen, put down the keyboard, tap on the telephone or gather the tribe. Each move, any move, comes down to this: we start digging right where we are. After all the preparation, we are where we always are: Here, Now. Finally, the energy of the vision flow through our bones. It feels good, really good. Mind and body, soul and earth enter the pleasure of engaging life.

Soon the work produces initial results. Surprise! The image on the page, the words on the screen, the response to the phone call probably aren't precisely what you envisioned. At this point, I've found that it's helpful to notice the gap between my expectations and my outcomes. I can either get frustrated or shut down. Or, I can man-up, reach into that gap and discover hidden powers and knowledge I didn't know were there. Somehow, from that lightless space comes the strength and insight I need to take the next. If I get ahead of myself and attempt the see the distant design within the gap, I come up empty-handed. Step by step the potential of the vision unfolds. To stay true to the vision, every step of the way seems to involve reaching into the unknown. Following this process, I notice what is actually unfolding rather than what I thought would develop. Whenever I try to control the vision, it kicks me in the butt and leaves me with nowhere to turn and nothing to do. All that's left is to stare into the gap and reach into the unknown.

There's an architectural embodiment of this experience at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is the last stop on the 600 mile Camino thousands of pilgrims walk each year across Spain. Inside the portal of the basilica stands the marble pillar of St. James. Flanking the base of the pillar are two mythic beings with gapping mouths. Pilgrims approach the pillar and slide the fingers of one hand into the five indentations at the marble roots of the Tree of Jesse. These indentations have been worn into the stone by countless others who have repeated this ritual for nearly 1,000 years. After reaching the touchstone of their journey, each pilgrim kneels. She touches her forehead to the base of the pillar and stretches her arms into the mouths of the mythic beings. It's an energy-filled moment, reaching the end of the long trail and stretching her body into the dark void. After pausing in that humble position for a moment, the pilgrim rises to her feet, turns and walks out the door. The vision she thought would be completed by arriving at this place silently whispers: we've come so far, more has been revealed than you ever dreamed possible... and together, we will bring forth many more treasures from the depths of the soul.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Vision: Golden Eyes on the True Prize

New year time is vision time. Millions of pens hit the page scrawling goals for better things to be, do and have. Minds glow with images of what will make life happier, healthier and wealthier. Great intensions, but it's mostly a noble distraction from what the soul genuinely wants. Setting high-minded goals is the separate self's way of reasserting the belief that it occupies the driver's seat of life, steering the car of your destiny toward its cherished goal. It reminds me of the my childhood car-seat; the one with the toy steering wheel. There I would sit importantly and cleverly steering the car and its passengers through the dangerous stream of traffic. All the while, my mother, behind the big wheel to my left actually guided the car to our destination.

Genuine vision is something else entirely. It's a picture of the possibilities life is offering you. It's the call of life not to be a greater you, but to be the greatness that can be facilitated through you. Vision is the soul's gold glowing beneath the surface of the mind's programed thoughts and desires. It's the long forgotten dream that stirred your consciousness awake, the spark that was then hidden by the shoulds and coulds of your parents, teachers and employers. Vision is not an object to be possessed; it is the stream of energy and wisdom carrying you through possibilities beyond the mind's self-imposed limits.

Vision isn't a pleasant choice made on a breezy day. It's the force of life dragging you out of your bed in the darkness of a rainy night. It's a wake up call that won't let you go back to sleep; a call that comes when you least expect it, at the most inconvenient time, in the messiest place. Vision is often delivered by a slimy character with glowing eyes and a greasy grin. You may slam the door shut, but it's too late. Vision has already pierced your belly. Its gnawing hunger can't be satisfied by the empty calories of money, status, and personal power.

Accepting vision takes trust beyond anything the mind can accept. The belief grid that defines a place for everything and defines everything by its place doesn't accommodate the unknown, unexpected, indefinable and unmeasurable. The worldview that worships the song of "I did it my way" doesn't joyously embrace a cosmic chorus chanting a strange magnetic hum. To trust the pull of this hum is allowing the pull of your vision is to go wherever it leads, emphasis on WHEREVER. Only then can your vision lead you passed the fool's gold of ego gain to the soul's gold of vitality and wisdom. Though you may feel alone on your vision's quest, you are interconnected with all of life. It is life that is having and living the vision. It is life appearing to be a separate "you" and it is life playing all the characters and settings of the vision. Vision after all, is life being life.

The adventure and benefit of entering your vision was described beautifully by Joseph Campbell: "We have not to risk the adventure alone, for the heros of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world."

Let 2010 be the year you receive life's vision and let it have its way with you.