A Zen Love Letter

A Zen Love Letter

 

My Dearest Beloved:

 

You are an illusion; everything is.

Everything IS.

 

You are enlightened, and enlightenment.

You are liberation, and the source of suffering.

You are the mustard seed, and the desire…or is it the Other Way around?

You are the Buddha. The roshis tell me I should kill You if I find You.

You are void; imputed by my mind, projected from my desires.

You are impermanent; You fade from me like the sun, You flow away like the breeze…or water.

 

You are one hand clapping, and I am the sound.

 

You are the tree falling alone in the forest. I am the ear that hears when no one else is there.

 

Mu!

 

You are I and I am You. We are All One in this perfect Zen moment.

Gate, gate, Parasamgate, You are gone beyond and beyond.

You never were, I never was….wisps…fragments

Passing by like clouds in the infinite sky, we meet.

We pass.

I rain and You drink my gift. Between us there is no subject and object; You are the raincloud and I the parched plain; one and the same.

 

Namo Budaya.

 

I am mu-shin, no mind…Thou art mu, Thou art shin

Tara art Thou. Black Tara, white Tara, all the same. Tara.

 

Thou art God, yet there is no God except the void speaking within.

Within me, within You.

Within…

 

Nothing.

 

To.

Say.

To.

Do,

 

Just IS.

You ARE

 

Thou art.

 

Together, we are

fingers pointing at the moon

The gibbous Zen moon, the impermanent Zen moon.

 

Mu!

 

The space within us, the space between us, the space around us.

US…

 

All void.

Moo.

Mu!

 

You are Zen

 

 

I love You, dear illusion, dear passing cloud, dearest projection of my mind and ego and desire.

 I.   Love.   You.

You are my right dharma, my right action. You are my sangha.

 

You.

Mu.

 

 

The teacher held up a single flower, in the palm of Her hand…

 

 

 

Then the flower smiled…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© 2013, Mark-Francis Mullen

Some Quotes from Pope Francis

1. “In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”
~Pope Francis, taking aim at ideologically obsessed Christians, October 2013

2. “We don’t want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre (of an economic system) as God wants, not money… The world has become an idolator of this god called money… To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed. We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to his throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone.”
~Pope Francis, criticizing “savage capitalism,” September 2013

3. “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods … It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”
~Pope Francis, criticizing obsessed focus on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception, September 2013

4. “We have become used to the suffering of others. Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion… the church is with you in the search for a more dignified life for you and your families.”
~Pope Francis, taking up the plight of immigrants and the poor, July 2013

5. “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”
~Pope Francis, calling for social justice, Address to the Food and Agricultural Organization, June 2013

6. “The popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind … Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’”
~Pope Francis, standing up for the poor and the environment, June 2013

7. “We human beings are not only the beneficiaries but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swatch of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.”
~Pope Francis, calling for protecting the environment, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

8. “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor! It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.”
~Pope Francis, blasting “unfettered capitalism,” November 2013

9. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”
~Pope Francis, attacking trickle-down economics, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

10. “While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”
~Pope Francis, attacking tax evasion by the wealthy, raw capitalism, and the interests of the rich over the environment, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

11. “The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures. Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded.”
~Pope Francis, speaking on women’s rights and women’s role in the workplace, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

12. “We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition. I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries! Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”
~Pope Francis, telling Christians to stop hating Muslims, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

13. “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
~Pope Francis, reaching out to atheists, May 2013

14. “… We have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?”
~Pope Francis, calling for having sympathy and compassion for women who choose abortion because of extreme poverty and rape, Evangelii Gaudium, November 2013

15. “When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it. And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it?”
~Pope Francis, advocating for taking care of the environment, June 2013

16. “Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.”
~Pope Francis, on poverty and the environment, Address, March 2013

17. “A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”
~Pope Francis, saying we should love people even if they are gay,

18. “This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today. A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality.”
~Pope Francis, condemning hunger, inaccessible health care, and poverty,

19. “The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
~Pope Francis, decrying poverty and hunger at a time of great world wealth during a meeting with students of Jesuit Schools, June 2013

20. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society. The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.”
~Pope Francis, putting the brakes on hating gay people, July 2013

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/11/pope-francis-quotes/

An Open Letter of Thanks to My Exes

Dear former lovers (and former wife of so long):

I not only forgive you, I thank you. I thank you for every challenge you gave me, every tear I cried on our behalf. I thank you for the lessons and experiences, both good and bad…especially the bad. I thank you for it all.

Through my seemingly unsuccessful relationships with you, I have learned some valuable lessons about life and love and women (and myself), done some incredible growing (and at times shrinking). You have helped make me the man I am today, and prepared me for my Real Lover, the one I hope and pray will eventually come.

You taught me how to love…and how to fight. You taught me to cook, and how to get cookin’. You taught me so many things, were the vehicle through which I learned so many lessons and experienced so many things. I grew, and you grew. Hopefully, I helped you grow enough to have wings of your own, to eventually fly from me to a better future.

I don’t mourn the past now. Sure, I might cry a little bit now and then, but the sadness has evolved into thankfulness, into gratitude for the gifts I learned at your feet, in your arms, and far away from you, alone.

Thank you, here’s a turkey.

No, seriously, I set aside a special day of thanks just for you, O Former (and supposedly forever) Lover. So thank you. Very much.

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Dear Women Who Left Me Alone and Crying, I love you. I love you in spite of your lack of faith or effort in sustaining the holy creature US. I love you regardless of the pain you caused me (or that I allowed you to cause me). I love you for it all; the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

Dear Women I Was Glad to Be Rid Of, I love you. I now know my ignorance of the special gift that was us, that any of your foibles were not the show-stoppers I thought they were, but chances for me to forge a newer, better type of relationship, based on acceptance of what you are, rather than insistence on what I want. Karma has paid me back in spades, and I know now the sanctity of the gift of relationship, and the importance of working it out together (whatever that is, for it will inevitably be something…with anyone).

Until today, my life was pervaded by an unending sense of separation and loss. Now, my life is again mine, as I give you yours. I again have a purpose, as I let you to yours.

So fly, little bird, fly with my blessing. I have given it and given it, and now truly give it again. No longer will I fight what is, try to superimpose my idea of what should be on the IS. I accept, and in this learn perhaps the greatest love lesson of all.

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I sit here in gratitude, experiencing the most valuable lessons of love…gratitude…and being fully present, for whatever it is.

‘Get along, sweet little woman, get along’

-Aerosmith/Unknown

‘Now when I find myself alone and unworthy, I think about all those things I learned…from those fine, fine women with nothing but good intentions, and a bad tendency to get burned.’

-SuperSonic/Chemistry

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Ingrate’s Day

Today is the day for ingratitude; we summon it or allow it to rise up within us, then release it on Thanksgiving. This is valuable to us. We typically acknowledge the good in our lives, but fail to pay homage to the ‘bad.’ All the gratitude words today are premature – we need to embrace our ingratitude before we can truly rise in gratitude.

Yeah, it’s a sucky ole life, at times. Things go wrong, or at least not how we want them to. Entropy rules, and chaos reigns (it’s a law – the second law of thermodynamics). Yet we tend to ignore the less good, and try to focus on the good. That is a fool’s errand. Until we can embrace (and release) the ‘bad,’ how can we make room for the good?

So here goes…

I am terribly ungrateful for so many things; our sorry state of ecological and social environments, the dissolution of our families and erosion of our institutions and traditions. All the starving people and mean people. All the angry people. Many times I am thankful for them (they fill that slot so I don’t have to), but not today. I’m really ungrateful about having a season pass and no snow to ride on. I hate that my former lover is long gone. I hate, I hate…

Today it is okay. Tomorrow (and hopefully for the rest of the year) I will be thankful and focus on the good. Today I focus on the ‘bad.’ That bad ole bad…

Yet who’s to say what is bad, and what is good? The inability of my former lover (or of me) to go to the next level is perhaps not a curse, but a blessing – perhaps she (we) made room for the Woman who can ascend with me (and for the guy who can ascend with her). The sad state of our world may be needed to propel us into a better state. Be careful before you prematurely judge something good or bad, we all know that.

Yet today, we don’t wait to see if something bad turns out good. Today we rant and rail against all the kooky things in the world, all the things that are less than optimal, a bit short of copacetic. Today, we bitch and whine, moan and wail. It’s okay…it is cathartic, a release. Release makes room for gratitude.

Today we wonder how we’ll pay the bills for this holiday season, or how we will make ends meet. Today, we shake our fists at God or circumstance, cursing our cancer or cough, our poverty or placidity. It’s okay…just try it. A little bit won’t hurt you or de-tune you. It might even help, to acknowledge that stuff festering inside you, to accept and then release it. In the crucible of our observation, we burn off the dross of desire and attachment, plant the seeds of peace. (There’s some quotable Mull for you).

We might welcome in those feelings of ingratitude…and look closely at them. Where do they come from? Are they even true? In this light, we can see our naked greed, desire, dissatisfaction. In seeing it, we can look for its source. Is it from the outside world that this all arises, or is it within us? Who is seeing things this way? Is it the world, or the way we see the world? These are valuable lessons.

I curse the dawn, long for the comfort of darkness. Of course, at the fall of darkness, I curse the departure of the Light. This dawn shines its light on another day of killing, raping, and murder…of bad behavior of all types, of dissolution and divorce, of hate and anger. It dawns on a day of sickness and hunger, of separation and dissatisfaction. Damn the dawn.

Where does that come from? Do I have an expectation that is false, one that is not being met by the world as it actually is? Is it just my whiny old ego, my samskara and bad habits? Is it me, or is it the world? Whence arises this attitude, these feelings? Any amount of pain and ingratitude would be worth knowing these answers, would be worth finding the source of this anti-love. For it cannot be extracted or converted, transformed or even accepted without knowing its true source.

In this lack of joy, I find peace…or the source of it. In this anger, I find the seeds of peace. In this dissatisfaction, I find the roots of true thanksgiving.

Often, we get this wrong. We save one day for thanks, and spend the rest of the year grumbling, being in opposition to others and the world itself. We are thankful, then follow that with our quotidian lugubriousness. I suggest it might make more sense to spend one day being ingrates, and the rest of the year in thanks and communion. Maybe we could be lugubrious, then follow it with thankfulness. It might work…it might be worth a try.

So go ahead. Cry…cry over all those little things, and the big ones too. Cry for yourself, for those you love, for all that went less than perfectly in your life. Scream, shake your fist. Let it out. Let it all out. Be there, be present for that. Observe it, with gentle compassion for yourself and your situation. Then drop it, let it go. You can come back to it later, if need be. You can learn the lessons later. For now, cry. Or wail, moan, gasp. For now, feel the pull of the whirlpool, the force of the maelstrom. Dig it. Live it. Then drop it.

How did that feel? If you found this to be helpful, please share this. Let’s start a new tradition – ingrate’s day. Maybe let’s not even dedicate a whole day to it. Just as much time as you need, that is all that’s required. Heck, take the whole year if you have to, but know this – at some point, you will have learned the lessons and can then drop it. Once you drop the burden, your spirit feels light, can ascend to the higher place reserved for it.

Until then, let it happen. Get into it. Be there, then…so you can later be here, now.

I guess the traditional meal of ingrate’s day would be corn flakes and warm water….or cold gruel. The parade is of everyone who you think ever hurt you or misunderstood you, or did you wrong (including yourself – heck, it’s led by you). The story is how the pilgrims let the native Americans help them, then paid them back in smallpox and reservations, in attempted genocide and slaughter. The guests are all the people you’d never invite to Thanksgiving. The prayer is this:

You fuckers! Now teach me those lessons I needed to learn. Now let me experience the lessons you tried to give me by not being what I expected, or wanted, or desired. Now let this knowledge come to me, now that I may not have to let it lay lodged inside my soul like a cancer, for the rest of the year, for the rest of my life. Now.

I don’t expect Ingrate’s Day will be observed by anyone but me. That’s okay. It works so well for me. I can sing only so many minor-chord songs before the praise and bhakti rise in me. I can cry only so much before a laugh escapes my lips. In the midst of my ingratitude and suffering, I see it for what it is – a waste of my time, but perhaps a necessary waste. Perhaps through embracing this, I can let it drop and get on with a life based in gratitude.

That is something I’d be truly thankful for.

Homework:

A) What are YOU ungrateful for?

B) What is the source of that ingratitude?

C) What lesson(s) can you learn from that?

D) How can you embrace that, then drop it?

E) What traditions would YOU add to Ingrate’s Day?

This message was brought to you (as always) by the Divine Light, my muse. No animals or people were harmed in the making of this post, although they may have not been appreciated like they should. No matter what, none of this is God’s fault, or the world’s fault, or even your fault. It just is. Just is. IS.

AUM, Shanti   : )

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One Reader…

I typically write to empty space. I send my words out into space, speak to the interstices. Like a teapot, I let my steam out, not knowing or caring where it goes. It just goes…

There are no readers out there. My words resonate with no one. They strike a chord in no heart. I write to an empty universe…and like it. 

In the world of hooks, of promotions and reader statistics, there are none I want to reach. In this superficial world, described at sixth-grade reading level, there are none to whom I would speak. No kindred spirits nor soulmates await my words here.

For in this barbaric, post-apocalyptic world, people do not want to hear the things of which I speak; their ‘like’ buttons are reserved for words on the latest gadget, or rapper, or TV show. That is fine by me.

I just write. I simply let it out. To share a little secret, I am glad I have no commenters clogging my posts, using them as soapboxes for their ill-considered prejudices and biases. It would be terrible to host the compendium of acerbic comments, diatribes, and vitriolic name-calling that passes for dialog and debate these days.

I can guess what people want to hear by what they tell me…the (hopelessly boring) plot to an idiotic movie (told in excruciating detail), their pet’s latest antics, a funny post on Facebook, or reliving recent sports events. The more subtle tell me the secrets of their souls, share the depths of their hearts…using the words of Rumi or Rilke.

I am not interested…nor are they in what I have to say. I like it that way. 

I used to think I would like to reach just one reader, that I’d dig finding one person I could read and resonate with. Of course, I always loved mythical beings…unicorns, a twin flame heart, God, and One Reader. Just because I dig them doesn’t mean I expect them to materialize out of this Tide-cleansed, gas-powered, food-gobbling, TV-watching world I find myself in.

I am not Generation Y. 

I am not Twittering my heart out to an uncaring world…I tweet to the Void instead. 

…and like it. 

The One Reader I hoped for was just a desire…to be heard, to feel connected, to reach someone. It’s a relief to know that desire has been shown to be what it is…baseless desire, a child crying out in the wilderness. 

In my isolation I find freedom. In my disconnection, I find peace. 

In throwing these words out to an unhearing, uncaring universe, I find relief. 

That is enough for me. See, I discover I already have one reader…the me in the present, reading the words of the past me. I connect to myself, the one person I can hope to connect to. I share these words with my future self, who recognizes those extemporaneous words as fleeting, passing clouds of thought.

Meaningless…except in the release they provide.

Useless…albeit in the way they provide a glimpse into the ever-changing being I call me.

Hopelessly egoic…barring the fact that a little bit of ego is sometimes useful…if for nothing else, for amusement.

I love to write…to no one. I am pen-pals with the Void.

 

Just Me…Great Ole Me

I’d love to convince you that I am a wonderful, totally unique person…but I’m not.

Oh, I have evidence, lots of it. I can make a great case for me. My ego could go on and on about how special I am. There’s a resume of wonderfulness in my head. Look, check these words out, it’s me – writing just like one of the special people, one of the cool kids.

Marvel as I race down a mountain or climb up it. Thrill as I display compassion or emotion. Listen in rapt awe as I describe (or modestly display) my greatness.

Is it working? Are you convinced yet? Dang. 

Somehow, I’ve convinced myself (and hope to convince you) that in a planet of nine billion souls, I am somehow unique and special…that against the panoply of history, I am (despite the objective evidence) one of a kind.

It’s a swell game…one I’ve been playing my whole life. Look, ma, no hands! Look, baby, ain’t I a great lover? Hey, boys, check out these guitar licks! Sometimes, I’m a bit more subtle about it – like when I oh so humbly perform actions, subconsciously hoping someone will notice them and comment…on how dang great I am. Or how I rocked that last A) article B) yoga pose C) ski run D) whatever. 

Whatever.

It’s not easy being great; it’s a lot of work. I am pretty lazy, and that much work for so little gain (merely to stroke my ego) is tiring. Yet I persist.

Contemporary consumer society tells me it is good to be unique, a lofty goal. They suggest I might display my uniqueness by driving a Prius, like millions of others…or use a certain shampoo that will allow my hair’s lustrous shine to highlight my one-of-a-kind magnificence.

Potential lovers and friends screen me for suitable grooviness; do I meet the criteria, fit within the parameters? Potential employers check me out to make sure I am One of the Best…if not THE best.

So far, only my Mom and I have been convinced of my greatness…and I didn’t last as long as I’d hoped. All my lovers saw the light…at least at first they did. People tell me God knows. Yet in the same breath they tell me He will rain down pestilence and brimstone on me, should I ever fall short of this assumed fantasticness. 

They also tell me that the truth will set me free – so here it is: 

I am not great, or unique. I am not special. There’s a decent chance (a certainty?) I don’t meet your criteria for a lover, for a friend, for general coolness. My IQ is less than 200, and my credit score less than 900. 

I am hopelessly fallible. I make poor choices, and quite often fall short of ‘the Mark.’ No, I am not Superman…or even Sorta-super Dude. I am just me…just one yogi. One sadhaka, if you prefer. Just some guy, that’s me. 

In arguing for the quotidian entity that is me, I mislead you. I am not just an average guy, either. I fall short of even that, in many ways. If I am unique, then it is uniquely messed-up. If I am special, it is especially mundane. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, thinking I am Mister Negative, or have a poor self-image or whatever DSM-like diagnosis springs to mind. I am a happy person in general, and love life. I am content in my humanity, my inhumanity, my fallibility.

Loving is accepting. I accept myself. My non-special, non-unique self. I accept my Divine Self as well. I accept it all. It is just me…and that is enough. It may not be enough for you, and sometimes it may not be enough for me. But it is enough.

After all, I am just a story I tell you, a story I tell myself. It is all imputed – as all meaning is. Behind it all is just me…at my core, just a big old blob of Light, just like you are. At my essence, I am just spinning wheels of energy…each atom composed of energy, spinning, spinning.

Just me. Just you. Just blobs of light, self-aware apes, hopelessly human at our best.

That’s enough for me…is it enough for You?

“Whatever is left over of the meat, that bury in a hole, for there is none in heaven and earth, among the Samanas or Brahmanas, among gods or men, by whom such food can be eaten without hurt to himself, save alone the Tagatha.”
-Buddha, speaking to Chunda shortly before his death

The Buddha was most likely speaking of the karmic harm of eating meat, which is tainted with death and thus breaks the code of non-harming (common to Buddhism and yoga). He could as truly have been speaking about the physiological and environmental effects of eating meat. The most convincing reason (to me) is one given by Nature herself: when fruits and vegetables are ready to eat, they turn colors or otherwise show their readiness to be eaten. If we do not eat them, they fall to the ground, giving themselves to the animals, that they might live. Animals on the other hand, run away from us when we try to eat them, calling for their mothers. 

Eradicating Religion

Something to consider…

Atheist Logic Fail

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I am going to demonstrate that not only is it impossible to get rid of religion, it is stupid to try.  People that try to eradicate religion either know what they are doing is wrong and impossible and are therefore doing it consciously and with evil intent, or they are too stupid to detect their own horse shit.

BELIEF AS A TOOL

Dawkinites and Hitchenites frame religion as some external structure of authority forcing its values on others from a superior position.  What though if my religion is my own religion?  What if I am the high priest of my own religion?  What if I us belief pragmatically as a tool t manipulate myself?  Impossible you say?  Well let me explain how validity works, if I can show you one instance where your argument fails it is not valid, you have to retract it and correct it and resubmit…

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Where We Practice Yoga

Where do we practice yoga? If we think of yoga as merely a physical practice, then the places we might practice it are limited…at home, the gym, or at the yoga studio. Maybe the adventurous bust a couple poses out in Nature, or at a yoga retreat. Is that where we really practice yoga?

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If our yoga is based on the Ashtanga (the eight-fold path of yoga), then where we practice yoga is everywhere, in every moment. In fact, the core of this type of yoga practice is not the physical (or Hatha) component of yoga at all. Some, in their denial of the the physical component as crucial (or even relevant) drop the physical ‘petal’ entirely, focusing on the remaining ‘petals’ of the flower (or more typically on a single one, such as meditation).

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Yet yoga is about balance and integration, about union and yoking/joining (its definition means all of these things). The eight petals work together, not alone.

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Each is like a crucial ingredient in a recipe; none is more important than the other, for the recipe can only be made with all the ingredients.

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I once read an article where the author began by saying “without a home practice, you’re not a real yogi.” Okay, this was maybe just a ‘hook’ that caught a reader’s eye, drew them in to the rest of the article so she could make her main point. Further into the article, she did revise her hook to a slightly more balanced set of words:  “A consistent home practice is the essential foundation of the true yoga lifestyle.”

At first glance, this seems like a reasonable statement. Yet I feel some words resonating and others not….’Consistent….practice….foundation…..’ those resonate with me. Others leave me more cold, feel more dischordant…”true yoga lifestyle.” Yet others evoke a blind rebellious response and a feeling of separation (…”a real yogi?!)”

Ugh. Is that fundamentalism I am smelling?

I could get behind something like…’a consistent practice is part of the foundation of a yogic lifestyle.’

As I understand a true yoga lifestyle, it does not include telling others what a real yogi is or does, but instead allows others to discover for themselves what a real yogi is or does. More importantly, it focuses one’s effort and concern on what the practitioner alone does, not on what others do or should do.

That is the beauty of yoga; no one can walk another’s path, or prescribe it for them. The sages have given us the yogic tools and an indication of what a yogic lifestyle might look like…and left the rest for us to determine (each of us, individually and for ourselves only) what that means for us.

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Only we can walk our own path, and no one can prescribe it for us. No point along the Path is more advanced than another; we are all on the Path, all not there yet.

(How can I tell we are all not there yet? Because we are each here on this planet).

The manifestation of a ‘true’ yogic practice varies not only by individual, but by where they happen to be along the Path at the time. What a true yogic lifestyle looks like for one person at a certain point along the Path may be different for the same person at another point along the Path. It may look like another person’s idea of a real yogi or a true yogic lifestyle…or not.

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If we stick with the fundamentals of a yogic lifestyle as outlined in the Yoga Sutra or the Samhita, then one thing would be for sure:

-We would not be writing articles about yoga, but practicing it, dedicating our lives to it

-We would not be living in the modern, commercial, consumer world as we know it, but in an ashram or in isolation as sannyasin

-We would not be having this discussion at all; I not writing it, nor you reading it

If we tried to live according to the standards and values of Krishnamacharya, we would most likely not be telling others how to really rock the yoga life…like only we can do.

I suggest that to live such a life is almost impossible in this modern world. For anyone desiring to live a devoted life in the yogic or Buddhist manner, living in the modern world is (according to their own teachings and traditions) incompatible with the practice. We’d be quietly practicing or meditating away from the modern world.

So we all fall short of what a theoretically perfect yogi is, or does.

Yet we all orient towards that as a goal, all seek with varying degrees of effort or allowing to approach the ‘real yogi’ we imagine, or the ‘true yogic lifestyle’ that is imputed by us.

All are fingers pointing towards the moon. 

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All of this is why I hesitate to use the term ‘yogi,’ for myself or others. A yogi is someone (male or female) who has achieved a state of yoga. The real Sanskrit name for a practitioner, an aspirant on the Path of yoga, is sadhaka.

Who am I to know (or say)? I am just one sadhaka.

Who is anyone to know, or say?

That’s what I always loved about yoga, and one of the major things that attracted me to it, and kept me there for it as a lifelong practice;

-In all other belief systems, they ask you to take something on faith, to accept              the words of others on what a true X does, or what a real life of Y is like. Yoga              does not.

Yoga acknowledges that only you can experience the practice of yoga for                   yourself.

-Others may provide hints or instructions, but ultimately only the sadhaka can             know for themselves whether these practices work or not (and what should               or should not be done). Only the sadhaka can experience them.

We know the only way we can, by intimate personal experience, not by the           precepts and prescriptions of others.

Yes, we practice yoga…with every breath.

Yes, we practice yoga…in every moment, in every place

That is my current understanding (from this place on the Path) of what this sadhaka does, what this sadhaka’s evolving yogic lifestyle looks like.

The sages and saints may agree with me…or not. Real yogis and those living the true yogic lifestyle might admit the authentic truth of those statements…or not.

All I know, all I can speak for is this one sadhaka, this one aspirant and practitioner. If ever that one fine day comes when I can live the life of yogi, all I will be able to speak for is….just…one…yogi.

AUM, Shanti

:  )

‘Noboby right, nobody wrong’

-Michael Franti

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Below is the article from Elephant Journal, by Mary Margaret http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/10/solo-yoga-is-essential-8-alone-time-practice-tips/

Without a home practice, you’re not really a yogi.

This may seem like a controversial opinion, but hear me out.

Taking community classes at a studio is wonderful and recommended, as you always pick up new techniques and poses (and, ideally, inspiration) from each teacher. But the sad fact is that a lot of yoga studio drop-in or membership fees are prohibitively expensive for many of us.

In any case, the key is to practice daily, or as often as possible—on your own. A consistent home practice is the essential foundation of the true yoga lifestyle.

I was fortunate to stumble upon yoga early in life and to spend years honing my home practice, sans yoga mat or any other props or accessories, before ever attending a public class.

In a former life, I was a super busy overachieving yogantrepreneur overloaded with commitments, both in Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area. Ten years ago, I was teaching a dozen classes a week and barely finding time to roll out my own mat at home.

Trust me—I know that a consistent personal practice can feel impossible to maintain.

I also know that without it, every other aspect of life gets more difficult and ultimately falls apart.

When I moved to Guatemala four years ago, the space I suddenly had in my personal and professional life was a luxury, and I found myself meditating and practicing yoga in my room for hours each week.

It wasn’t a struggle; it wasn’t just another item to check off the to-do list.I found myself waking up earlier and naturally gravitating to my cushion or mat. It came naturally.

If this magical mystery is yet to happen in your life, you may need to give it a push. Here are some tips for getting started, over and over again.

1. Start small.

Even just five minutes of sitting in stillness first thing in the morning can make a huge difference in the quality of your day.

You do not need to be skinny and flexible to do yoga. So many people think they have to be all pretzel-bendy in order to do yoga. That’s like saying you need to be strong to lift weights or you need to be fast to run.

No. You start where you are. In time, with regular practice, you will gain flexibility, strength, balance and focus. If you delve deeper, you might even have a spiritual awakening.

2. Find your happy place.

Find the place in your house that works for you. Create space for sitting meditation and for practicing yoga. Decorate an altar if so inspired, with plants, flowers, relics and/or inspiring images of your teachers and the people and places you love.

3. Pick a time and stick to it.

Be disciplined. Set a goal. Five minutes, ten, twenty. Work your way up gradually. To do this, sit in meditation every day. Practice some yoga every day. Soon you’ll find it’s not a burden but an automatic and enjoyable habit.

4. Use guidance.

In lieu of a guru, it is important to work with an experienced teacher in order to have a safe and flourishing home practice. If you don’t have quality yoga teachers available nearby, there are billions of good books, videos and online instructional resources that can help get you started.

5. Study the words of the wise.

Yoga is a vast science that involves a whole lot more than stretching, breathing and meditating. Read all about it. Read the dharma teachings, theTao Te Ching or the Bhagavad GitaRead what feeds you.

6. Deepen your practice.

For most of us, the most efficient way to do this is to go on retreat. Take a weekend (or better yet a week, or better yet ten days) to be silent, to practice more frequently and for longer periods than normal, to be alone, to listen to the quiet, to find your balance in the present. If you can’t take a weekend, take a day. If you can’t take a day, take an hour. But try to find some space in your life for retreat.

7. If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try again! At first, you won’t succeed. It takes time and devotion to built a solid, unwavering practice. When you notice that you’re off track and have gotten away from a steady routine of meditation and yoga in your day-to-day life, start anew.

8. Seriously, start small.

It’s better to practice five to ten minutes of yoga, once or thrice in your busy day rather than wait for the magical time when you will have one free hour to set aside for meditation and relaxation.

That hour will never come. Instead, do yoga in short spurts woven throughout the day, if that’s what works for you, for now.

Don’t delay! Start where you are. Enjoy.

(end of article)

Post Scriptum:  If you have never checked it out, take a look at more of Elephant Journal. You can read one or two articles a day for free, and unlimited for a small monthly donation. Lots of good content on a variety of subjects.