Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creating a Kitchen for Your Soul

Your kitchen is calling. It's inviting you to engage the magic of transformation by taking the gifts of the earth and cooking them into meals that nourish the depths of your being. To make a kitchen for your soul, you don't need an expensive remodel. You don't need new cabinets or industrial strength appliances. All you need is to open your senses to the act of preparing food and the willingness to appreciate the simple miracle being created in the act.
It only takes a moment to shift your kitchen from a storage room for snacks into a place of soulful alchemy. Instead of unconsciously stumbling into your kitchen and grabbing something from the frig, plopping it on a plate and stuffing it in your mouth, try this. Stop, look at where you are and sense the possibilities. The stove is offering fire. The sink is providing water, the refrigerator and cupboards are filled with earthy bounty from the world's garden. All that's needed is for you to feel the desire in your belly and allow it to guide you in creating a meal. As you open the doors of the frig or cabinet to select the vegetables, grains and other items, savor the colors, shapes and design of the food. Imagine the fields and orchards they came from and the natural processes of weather and soil that produced them. As you slice and combine the ingredients, notice how your participation transforms the raw materials of nature and sense your consciousness as an ingredient being blended into the mix. When you place the mixture on the stove or in the oven, feel the power of fire to release the flavors from within the food. 
When the meal is cooked, serve it and eat it with the same attention you put into the preparation. Appreciate the colors and aroma of the food. Enjoy the shapes and materials of the plates and eating utensils. Actually taste what you are tasting. Feel the nourishment of what your are swallowing. Breathe and notice how easy it was to create a kitchen for your soul.
If you do want to remodel your existing kitchen or are planning one for a new home, use the experience I described above as the basis for creating  a soulful place to cook.  See your kitchen as a place where the elements of fire, water, earth and air interact to produce meals that nourish both body and soul. Choose a range that evokes the experience of  primal fire. Select a sink and faucet that honors the fluid, transforming qualities of water. Find cabinets that celebrate the foods you will store in them. Create a kitchen that inspires you to explore creative possibilities, one that says to you, "Let's cook!"

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How Home Inspires Your Life Journey

One of the most important ways you can enrich the soulfulness of your home is to make it a place that honors the process of living. I came across a beautiful example of this at an apartment building in Santa Rosa, California. Next to the entrance, a series of murals lovingly depicts the passage from newborn infant to aged death. Images such as this offer poignant reminders that moving from one stage of life another is natural. What seems like a loss at a given moment can become a gain at the next. Furthermore, these murals show us that we are not alone in our day-to-day challenges and triumphs. Everyone inhabiting this apartment building goes through them and these shared experiences make us all members of the human family.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Importance of a Home for Your Soul

Home is more than a sheltering roof and embracing walls. It goes beyond style that’s cozy or cool. Yet, each day, homes are boxed and sold as square footage, curb appeal and resale value. Certainly, these are smart and practical considerations, but what’s vitally important gets lost in the bargain. Moreover, the beautiful images on architecture websites and television shows overlook the most essential element in creating a home—your soul. If the core of your being isn’t welcomed where you rest your head, you will never feel at home. Not feeling at home, your body and possessions may have an address but the one who experiences those things, you, will be left with a subtle, nagging sense of being homeless.
Because most architecture ignores the soul, few people know how to provide for it. At best, attempts are made to address the soul by providing inspiring spaces. What is not understood is how the floors, walls, roofs, furnishings and other elements of a house can be designed to nurture and delight the elusive qualities of the soul.

To create a home for the soul, we have to experience what the soul is. There are many descriptions of soul. Here is mine. Soul is sensed in the force that animates our thoughts, words and actions. It is the wisdom that shapes this animating force into patterns of experience. In the depths of our being, soul is still and boundless. On the surface, it flows in a countless variety of emotions and thoughts. Despite its elusive nature, soul has specific qualities we can understand and sense. 

Genuineness, depth and connectedness characterize soulful experience. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes: “soulfulness is tied to the particulars of life—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that touch the heart.” Soul is nourished by variety, quirks and idiosyncrasies. It is the glue that links mind to body, body to home and home to Earth. It yokes the rooms of a home to the events that take place within them. The shared, universal qualities of soul become meaningful when they flow into the personal characteristics that define your individuality. 

Soul is not necessarily linked to religion. A person may access soul through the prayers, rituals and scriptures of her faith; but she can also encounter soul in a flavorful stew, the caress of a lover, and the textures of a pine floor. A chapel within a vast cathedral may be a shrine of spiritual peace, but a window seat in a living room can offer a haven of quiet renewal.
A home that nurtures and delights your soul cannot be described in a checklist of attributes. It is the result of consciously designing rooms and selecting furnishings to enliven the qualities of soul that are personal to you and your family. The forms, textures, colors and qualities of light and space that nourish you indicate your individual characteristics of soul. Your memories of meaningful places, images of homes that visit you in dreams and enriching travel locations point toward the images of soul to incorporate in the design. The foods you love, the films that move you and the art that delights you also hold keys to the qualities of a home that will care for your soul. Specific ways of translating your personal qualities of soul into the design of rooms and furnishings will be discussed in later blog posts.

When you incorporate these personal qualities of soul into your house or apartment the core of your being is nourished. The totality of who you are is cared for and welcomed. Life becomes more poetic and artful, more meaningful and alive. Your house finally is your home.

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why I Practice Architecture

I practice architecture to explore the ways designed places nurture and inspire human experience. I believe that good buildings go beyond efficient function and beautiful style to frame the elusive mystery of dwelling in this world. Toward this end, architecture, from its overall plan to each detail, becomes an opportunity to re-imagine the meeting points between people and their surroundings, between the human spirit and the earth. Doorways become places to foster the significance of threshold crossing. Passageways offer ways to discover the possibilities of movement through space and time. Rooms establish settings for making one’s place in the world and unfolding creative ways of living.

I practice architecture to find more ecological means of dwelling. As each design choice can foster more significant psychological meaning, it can also become a way to attune human life to nature’s processes of growth and renewal. In this way, architecture can be a vehicle for seeing through preconceptions and limited viewpoints to discover innovative solutions to pressing environmental problems.

I practice architecture to collaborate with others and explore creative possibilities that we could not invent alone. For me, design is a dialogue between all the individuals and forces shaping a given building. To gather with others and see what arises in the space between us is an enriching and inspiring process.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Awe: Some Thoughts

I think the main thing is to differentiate between having an awesome framework that is constructed by our minds and the awe that is beyond our mental frameworks and comes from the raw experience of living. When awe comes from reinforcing a preconceived idea it builds our false sense of control and the belief that the world fits neatly into our box. Awe from raw experience is another thing all together and can blow apart any sense that we know what is going on. The question is, are we looking for the comfort of proving what we already believe or are we looking to experience life as it is beyond our preconceptions. One thing life keeps showing me is that it is not what I think it is, that my mental frameworks are temporary life rafts that are swept away by the raw currents of existence. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Each Place is a Bardo, A Fluid In-Between Space

My friend, Linda Hollier, responded to my poem, Morning Light, by saying it was about a bardo. Tibetan Buddhists use the term "bardo" to describe the space between death and rebirth on. They say it is a time when our consciousness is not connected to a physical body and we experiences phenomena ranging from clear, peaceful spaciousness to a wild phantasmagoria of terrifying halluci-nations. Those prepared for this stormy voyage and are conscious they are taking it have a great opportunity for liberation from suffering. Those ignorant of the bardos they pass through are tossed about by the waves in a nightmarish odyssey that drives them toward an unfortunate birth. "Bardo" can also describe times when our routine lives are interrupted, such as during an illness or a meditation retreat. 

Considering this, I realized that each place we experience in life is a bardo—an experience of the space between the formations of consciousness that came before it and those that follow. Viewing my experience through the frame of the bardo loosens my attachment to the mistaken perception that present circumstances are fixed and solid. Instead, I remember that each place and time is merely another episode in the ongoing journey from one bardo through another. My attachment loosens. I breathe more easily. The forms I inhabit become a fluid interplay of colors, textures and sounds. The people I encounter appear to be richly developed characters parading through an unending story. I am both playing one of the roles in this story and am witnessing the story unfold. Looking back in time, the plot line of the bardos spilling one through the other seems wisely orchestrated. Attempting to see forward, I peer into a cloud of unknowing.

Dwelling within the fluid land of the bardos, I have less fear of taking creative leaps. It all becomes like drawing on water. Forms appear and disappear. The beauty and honesty of the gesture is more important than the passing marks they make. Since my persona is a temporary character in a watery play, the flow of love and appreciation becomes more important than worrying about gaining approval for my self-image.

Certainly, I prefer some bardos over others. There are icky bardos, as my friend Tricia calls them. There are confusing, terrifying, heartbreaking and obstacle-filled bardos that can show up between harmonious, inspiring and wisdom-filled bardos. Life relentlessly carries me from one bardo through the next, not letting me cling to or push away any of them for long. Seeing them as bardos, I remember that all of them are temporary and passing through the open sky of the consciousness I am. When I remember this, each place is more like living poetry and for a time I'm liberated. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Power of Patterns

Here's a video on a talk I gave on the power of patterns describing the material in my book 24 Patterns of Wisdom. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Creative Process

Again, dawn breathes.
Again, the river of creative energy longs to flow.
Again, hesitation.
Again, cracking the ice of fear reveals the waters of the soul
and the currents singing.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Morning Light

Stillness infused with shadowed radiance
hovers between being and becoming.
From this, the day will pour forth.
Now, before all that
night’s shadows breathe the glow
beyond the horizon,
drawing in what can be sensed
before it is seen.

The dreams that tumbled through the night
pour into this pause,

this in-between.
The noisy, brilliant day is coming,
to relentlessly roll out its dramas.
this blessed still-space
enfolds all beings.
This blessed opening,
after regrets,
before promises,
is a peace 

fingers can touch
ears can hear
eyes can see
my soul can be.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Birthday Thoughts Here and Now

Today, I'm loving how we all share a similar life journey, all trying to make sense of it and none of us really understanding it. Along the way, there is so much beauty and wonder to inspire us, so much confusion and struggle to challenge and strengthen us. Each year I know less and feel the energy of aliveness more. Each day, objects and accumulations seem less important while love and compassion gain more significance. Moment by moment, my time in this world lessens while the sense of timelessness increases.

Today, this is what is important to me:
- Amidst the horrors and tragedies in the world, I open to the wonder of life.
- Through fears and doubts, I share the creative vision that is calling to be expressed through me.
-Within an aging body, I feel the vast strength of spirit animating my life.
-Despite reasons to the contrary, I live the unreasonable mystery I am.
-Clouded by the illusion of being a separate self, I embrace my interdependence with the rest of creation.
-Despite the grasping and aversion of my mind, I am grateful for the blessings in my life, not as trophies to be enshrined, but as currents in the ongoing stream of living.

Thank you all for sharing this crazy, wondrous journey.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

INSPIRATION & VULNERABILITY: Rebirth in the Alchemy of Light, Shadows and Silence

Inspiration had been the Big Glow for most of my life. An energizing radiance arrived uninvited to power creative work, travel adventures and loving relationships. It came knocking, calling me out and pointing the way toward expansive realms of knowledge and wonder. The muses seemed to have moved in for the duration. I came to expect their vitalizing presence at the breakfast table, bright eyed and ready to fill each day with creativity.

One morning, the table where the muses usually laughed and bantered was empty. The Big Glow that surrounded them and energized me was gone. I called to them. My voice didn't find an echo. There was no reply. I went out searching for them, traveling to the world's most inspiring places. Their glow was there, but it wasn't big anymore. Luminous electricity didn't surround me. The days of grand inspiration seem to have dimmed and seemed to have no hope of returning. 

Little did I know the Big Glow was the same. It only appeared smaller in relation to my perception of it. Over the years, the concepts and beliefs that had limited my awareness had become more transparent, revealing the expansiveness and silence that had been behind the scenes all along. But my mind had not caught up with this dawning awareness. Through the outdated lens of my old patterns of seeing, I still looked for inspiration in the Big Glow. Not finding that grand energy, I was lost. 

I continued to create, but felt like I was just going through the motions. My work inspired others, but, for me, there was little vitality in the doing. Instead I felt vulnerable and confused. Unexpectedly, this was just what opened me to a new and enriching inspiration. One that goes beyond the Big Glow to include ever-shifting mixtures of light, shadow and silence. Since the energizing radiance no longer descend from above, I had to open my mind, heart and body to invite it to rise within me. This was scary. What if my call wasn't answered? What if I no longer had the creative juice? If I did find some inspiration, would I fail to translate it into successful work?

This vulnerability and questioning increased my ability to listen and respond to  creative impulses that arise. It opened me beyond the sense that the Big Glow was an object, separate from me, to be gained, possessed and lost. My confusion pushed me outside the limits of knowing to explore the elusive and indescribable currents of living. Instead of being a separate-self creator, I realized I was a participant in the ongoing creative work of life discovering its possibilities through each one of us. Inspiration was no longer limited to the Big Glow. It came from every wrinkle in the daily play between light and shadow withing the playground silence. It was there for me to access in a crumpled piece of paper or a soaring cathedral, in an obstacle or a breakthrough. Energizing radiance showed itself in all sizes and moods. The bigness of inspiration's glow had less to do with it and more to do with the largeness with which I embraced it.

Big Glow inspiration was wonderful while it lasted. In hindsight, I see how it became an armor against richer inspirations. Through the vulnerability and responsiveness life urged me to discover, I found the continuously nourishing inspiration of radiance, shadows and silence.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

When Vividness Dawns: Or Cutting Through the Bullshit to Engage My Life

Then the vividness dawns. Grains of sand to galaxies shimmer with energy. The person on the corner, the siren of the passing ambulance, the thoughts tumbling through my mind, the hawk sailing through the blue, everything is one unnameable substance appearing as the endless diversity of creation.

This happens for no particular reason. In the middle of daily routine my awareness opens and the richness of life floods forward. My mind continues to play with its timeless questions: Who am I? Why I am here? Where am I going? But these ruminations become as transparent as air. So do the petty fears, the grand hopes, the hurtful criticisms, the inflating praise, the outbreaks of war and peace, the gains and losses. All the bullshit pressing in on me with such urgency and importance and turbulence, in an instant, is seen through as clearly as still water.

Instead, the radiance of being shines in every particle and wave, in every sound and silence and every space between. The jogger in the distance, flying hair blazing as she runs, back-lit by the dawning sun; the fresh dog shit in the dirt gleams; the cafe chatter sings; the hot coffee is nectar; the memories of countless mornings in far flung places on the globe shine with rediscovered vitality. From nowhere, emotion rises within me and the tears spill.

There's no reason for this, no particular significance that can be tagged and placed in the box of reason or meaning or purpose. To name it anything, enlightenment, awakening, revelation, hallucination would be ridiculous. To invent a technique to access it and sell in the marketplace would be ludicrous. It's just life in its rawness and power. It's what I live for.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This is Water

I loved this video about the no nonsense choices during daily routine that determine our experience of life.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Seeing the World in a Coffee Cup

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. ~ William Blake

Being inspired by Blake's famous words is one thing. Seeing with the eyes of a mystic is another realm of experience all together. Most of us view the world as a collection of separate objects, individuals and events. At best we see the dots and lines connecting them.  But this intellectual exercise is not the same as engaging the network of existence as a shimmering web of energy and intelligence, one that speaks through each grain of sand and wild flower, through each doorway and face. It is getting beyond the isolating belief that you are a contained bag of bones with a limited lifespan and, instead, dwelling within this living web as an integral participant in a loving and wondrous unfolding mystery.

If living with vitally and connection interests you, the question then is how? Usually, the ways that come to mind are the altered states induced by hallucinogens, years of meditation or the luck of being born with magical sight. The cosmic experience Blake suggests is not an hallucination, a retreat from the world, or the luck of the mental draw. We are inspired by Blake's poem because we sense that mystical experience as our primal state of being. It's what we are in our bones, but have forgotten how to access.

So, how do you see consciousness shimmering in things, from coffee cups to the global biosphere? How do you break through the foggy lens that separates you from the world and cleanse the doors of perception so everything appears as it is, infinite. There are many ways to do this, but the following guided journey is a way that has come to me through many years of seeing. 

Place a coffee cup on a table... Notice its shape... Look at the play of light and shadow defining the cup's shape... See the light playing on the cup... If it's sunlight, sense the rays traveling millions of miles from the exploding surface of the sun and bathing this object... If electric light or candlelight is illuminating the cup, sense the energy glimmering through these rays... In the cup's curves, color and choice of material, see the consciousness of the person who designed it... Sense the life of the cup's designer, her hopes and fears, her achievements and disappointments... Imagine the DNA guiding the growth of the cells in her body... Trace the lines of her DNA back through her mother and father and through them to her ancestors... Imagine the web of living that supports the cup's designer, the plants producing the air she breathes and the food she eats, the culture that connects her to language, knowledge, art and friendship... Notice the awareness extending from your eyes to perceive the cup... Sense the energy and intelligence in these rays of awareness... In the light on the cup and the shape of its design, sense the rays of energy and intelligence that give the cup its substance... Look through outer appearances to see that the same energy and intelligence are flowing through your perception and giving the cup its identity... Notice the silent space within the cup... Behind all of your perceptions, notice the silence that is aware of your thoughts, words, actions and surroundings... Sense the similarity between the silent space within the cup and the silent awareness perceiving the scene... Open to the aliveness of this moment... Notice if you are closer to "seeing the world" in the cup. 

Run through this visioning process with other objects and when you are in other places. Try it while you are in the checkout line at the market. Your shopping experience will never be the same. I'd love to hear what you discover.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dwelling in the Sacred

To dwell in the sacred is to live with shimmering presence in the physical world. It is to experience your home and community as living, breathing extensions of your mind, body and nature. It is to engage visible forms and colors, objects and places as allies revealing the unseen forces energizing and guiding you. In the middle of the crushing craziness of daily life, it is finding spaciousness and peace wherever you are. Dwelling in the sacred is your natural way of inhabiting the earth. But it gets lost in the fears and limited patterns of thinking promoted by our materialistic culture.

To reclaim sacred ways of dwelling involves expanding beyond the conventional mindset that views the world as isolated, lifeless objects. It is to see with fresh eyes and shape your surroundings in ways the promote renewal and awakening. Sacred seeing opens you to experiencing walls and windows, chairs and cabinets as the alchemy between human imagination and the earth. Through such awakened eyes, inhabiting your home and city becomes an active meditation for touching profound vitality and connection through physical places. Sacred making offers you ways to create homes and workplaces that nourish wholeness in your mind, body and family. It is a means of entering a dialogue with nature and finding healthy, sustainable ways of establishing your place in the world.

The foundation of sacred seeing and making is creative play that discovers how the earth truly longs for you to inhabit it. In turn, it is finding out how you can live on earth in ways you have always wanted to. Through the creative play of sacred seeing and making your sense of home can expand beyond the walls of your house or apartment and include the entire world.

You can learn how to dwell in the sacred at a workshop I am leading May 17-19 at the Shambhala Mountain Center. This retreat invites you to experience your home, workplace, and community as sacred places that can serve as allies on your life journey. Exercises held in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya will allow you to feel the archetypal elements of holy sites and to learn ways of finding peace, healing, and inspiration within the buildings you inhabit each day. Through a variety of practices we will sense the connections between the buildings sheltering you and your patterns of thought, speech, and action. You will learn ways of arranging furnishings, selecting colors, and choosing materials to increase inner and outer harmony, health, and happiness, and to engage your living spaces as vessels for spiritual awakening. To find out more and register click here. I hope you will join us for a fun, inspiring and transforming weekend.

After taking a similar course I taught in New York, a real estate agent there sent me this email: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of you and the new awareness you brought me as I walk through my city. It really added to my fascination with the architecture of NYC in that now I really look at all of the little details and feel the energy behind their creation—the joy and beauty. It brings me into the present moment and I feel a connection with timeless existence and my place in it. Quite a gift! Many thanks.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meditation Space: Moving from resistance to flow

This is a sketch of a meditation space I designed. It is meant to provide a place to explore different levels of your identity in relation to silent awareness. The structure is defined by an outer wall of stone, an inner wall of sandblasted glass block and an innermost wall of clear glass. At the core of these walls is a pool of water. This organization reflects the experience of awakening consciousness described by many people throughout history. As your mind opens to silence, your identity becomes less opaque and more transparent and fluid, the freer and happier you become.

The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron describes it this way, "Ego Clinging is how we try to put solid ground under our feet in an ever-shifting world. Meditation practice starts to rode that fixed identity. As you sit, you begin to see yourself more clearly, and you notice how attached you are to your opinions about yourself. Often the first blow to the fixed identity is precipitated by a crisis. When things fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But this is a cause for celebration." You are becoming liberated from the fixed identity that battles the ever-shifting world. You are better able to flow wi changes that naturally occur and can live more lightly, openly and harmoniously.  

This meditation space offers tangible experience of moving from a fixed identity that combats a ever-changing world to a fluid being better able to respond to the shifting currents of living. Benches are provided to contemplate each stage of the journey. Beside the bench at the outer stone wall are loose sheets of paper and pencils. A plaque invites visitors to notice ways their identities are fixed, creating conflict with the changing world. They are invited to use the paper and pencils to write down what they discover and place their sheet of paper in one of the chinks between the stones, symbolically leaving behind that habit pattern of fixed identity. At the translucent glass block wall, visitors use markers to write words that describe greater flexibility in their identities, but still create conflict with the streams of living. With the sponges and water provided, they then wash the words from the translucent wall. At the glass inner wall, visitors use brushes to write, with water, words or shapes that describe the transparent traits of their minds that faintly cling to a solid identity, but dissolve as quickly as they arise. The inner pool offers an opportunity to meditate on fluidity and sense its qualities within oneself.

Imagine passing through this meditation space and experiencing more fluid layers of your identity. Notice where you resist the flow of living, see through these mental habits and discover your fluid nature.

If you would like to build this meditation space or one that is tailored to your life journey, please contact me through    

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Artist is Present

Being present is the basis for making vital art. I was inspired by the expression of it shown in this video.

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.
At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Facing Emptiness: Seeing through my mind's compulsion to define things

Over time, my explorations in living consciously have brought me to indefinable territory. It is a realm of less and less boundaries with more and more spacious silence. Since definitions and understanding is what my mind lives for, it sees this spacious silence as emptiness. When I face what my mind calls emptiness and look closely, I see through the fictions my mind creates. What my mind defined as emptiness is neither empty or full. It just is. It's a field of being stirred into becoming by thoughts, words, actions and events. Stirring being into becoming, I sense the world resonating to life.

Learning to relax into and trust being seems to be my task in the field of Becoming. As the usual beliefs and stories become more and more transparent, it's strange and disorienting for my mind. There is less and less to grasp and more and more indefinable being to live. There is no problem in this unless my mind labels it a problem and fears for its survival. Since my mind is a story-making machine, it continuously tries to make some-thing out of no-thing. When no-thing won't cooperate by compromising its indefinability, my mind thinks it fails and gets depressed. Undaunted it tries again and again. Over time, my mind is learning that surrender is a more enjoyable option.

This reminds me of the story about the Japanese soldiers found on islands in the Pacific long after World War II had ended. These soldiers were so identified with the war they didn't believe it was over. Wise psychologists knew that these soldiers couldn't instantly change their beliefs. Instead, they had someone regularly whisper in each soldier's ear, "The war is over." Over time, the soldiers' experience showed them they were no longer living in a war zone.

Whether this story is true or not, it helps my mind settle into and explore the indefinable territory of being it finds itself inhabiting. This territory is not the territory of the conventional mind which values duality in all its forms. In the indefinable territory of being, pleasure and pain, success and failure, etc. are stirrings of silence into sound For my mind to revel in this indefinable territory is yet another interpretation, a "success", that is enjoyable, but transparent to the no-thing that pervades every-thing more and more.

Imagine all the problems that are created by our minds trying to define the indefinable. Conflicts, wars, discrimination, greed and all sorts of other problems can result from trying to fit the world into our definitions, no matter how well intentioned. I think John Lennon's had it right when he said, "War is over if you want it." Perhaps we would be better served by facing what our minds call emptiness, seeing through our compulsion to define it, and cooperating with the indefinable mystery of stirring being into becoming.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bones & Daffodils

Today I went up on Mt. Tamalpais to sense more deeply the shape my life might be taking after my mother's passing. I walked to a tree I have visited for more than 40 years. Beneath the tree were two deer bones and a spray of blooming daffodils. I have no idea who put them there or for what purpose. Encountering this combination of death and rebirth, in this place on this day, all I could do was bow in gratitude and awe to the Great Mystery that nurtures and guides us every day of our lives.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Great Mother & The Great Home

After a long illness and a troubled life, my mother passed away. Despite her best efforts to create a beautiful home for us and her appreciation of art and literature, she never seemed to feel at home in this world. She never felt comfortable in her own skin. Hopefully, death has brought her some peace. My mother's passing stirred up many unresolved feelings and disappointments. It agitated much grief. At first, I wanted to avoid this grief, to distract myself from this mess of emotions. I wanted to turn away from my fears of mortality, the seeming futility of living and block out the mystery of death.
     In the middle of the night, however, I quieted down enough to experience my feelings. Below the meanings and stories of my mind, flowed vast tides of hope and fear, pleasure and pain, wisdom and uncertainty, and an ocean of emotion that could not be contained by words. In this sea of grieving, something shifted. Exactly what, I cannot say. But I experienced each sensation as a current of energy, a flow of consciousness. Feeling these currents of energy was to be alive. It was Being surging through the numbness of Not Being.
     Feeling these sensations of energy without clinging to them or avoiding them, I noticed the still space they flowed through. I sensed this still space as the womb of creation, the Great Mother that spawned my mother (and me) and nurtured us throughout our lives. I also sensed this still space, this womb of creation, as the home of all sensations, the home she (and I) always searched for. It was always in the background whether or not we noticed it.
     The willingness to feel the currents of both pleasure and pain is the willingness to feel alive. It is the willingness to notice the spacious stillness of the womb of creation and be at home with all sensations. Opening to the aliveness of both pleasure and pain and the home of these sensations is an affirmation of my life. It is a dynamic, living healing. I'm glad to be alive to feel this. I'm grateful to the Great Mother and The Great Home for birthing us, sustaining us and receiving us whenever and however we follow the currents of experience into them.