Your work depends on the needle. Thread is in abundance on shelves in closets. You have moths doing work in the silk barn. But the needles, rare as diamonds and burrowing like small children playing in sheet tents.
Like minors would, you roll up your sleeves and dig and climb. “A shovel is too much”, you say to the chicks pecking the ground for stray seeds. You say, “The need is great. The men need shirts, and women skirts. These needles like gems, I will find. It is my job, same as it is to smile and spread feed for you in the morning sun.”
Your hands ever soft sifting through piles of golden hay. You wonder which you enjoy most; the elegant gowns made by you hung from lines strung between two mulberry trees under a spring sky, or the moments spent moving the dog from his nap to find a thousands pins ready like jewels all along resting.
From the lifting of higher awareness, the looking within the heart and raising it’s wisdom to the surface, comes the insight to fulfill what is our second dharma; service. This is where clarity of intention can be refined. A journey in which you know where you are headed is much more pleasant than one that is fogged by directionless-ness.
Clarity, knowing, defined intentions fueled by vivid childlike imagination births the inspiration and empowerment to surge ahead. The idea that you can do a thing, do it well and do it always excites the cells and this knowing what you want magically manifests the highways and byways that lead to it.
But you must listen closely and spend time in stillness dropping your attention heart-ward. From this, create a discipline that not only builds the foundation upon which your dreams can rest, but also roots you firmly in what is happening now. This moment is the force which creatively fingers potential like a sculptor does his clay.
Only this moment, not the moments we spend wishing to be elsewhere or wondering what might have been.
As creative as you are, the being looking back at you in the mirror, the one that feels and tries, and bakes fragrant pies was built by choice and thought and action and emotion.
Know this and dig into what is right now. Wrap your arms around awareness like two lovers lunging into each other in a flowered field and never let go. And prepare! Paint if you are a painter, speak if you are a speaker, play if you are a player. Become a master and let the process of mastering guide you.
Unanswered questions can only be answered by remaining soundly in the moment through preparation and opportunities only come when we are ready.
In order to explore this beautiful planet, this wonderful world, we must leave the safety and comfort of our home. It is in our explorations that we discover the boundaries of our life or more accurately, it is where our boundaries expand. But without a home to return to, there would not be a place to rest, to rejuvenate, or to cultivate peace. Without a home we would be groundless and life without foundation is confusing, directionless and exhausting.
Our spiritual home is our heart center. Many of us have lost this home and have substituted it for the fleeting mind. As a result, much like wandering derelicts roaming city streets, we are lost beggars who are hungry and displaced. Finding our home again is the purpose of meditation. Of course we don’t interrupt our exploratory nature. What we do in meditation is align with the hub of this wheel so that our journey can be evolutionary not flighty and purposeless. The hub of human life is the heart. It is from the heart where all thought, all inspiration and all creation comes. It is the canal through which the spirit traverses to play delightfully in the playground of consciousness. To know this and to take up residence in the heart is to be at home wherever your feet touch the earth.
There is an uprising in the belly of the earth and it is billowing and flickering like a light storm. The uprising is also in the belly of our heart in which we assimilate and discern the dealings of the soul, the spirit; the micro whirlpool spun by the macro whirlpool which is an ocean of higher wisdom and inescapable love. It is a love that exists regardless if we are aware of it. It forever has existed and forever will exist and has as many faces as there are life expressions. Destruction is love; death is love and has within it as many waves of good will as birth and blossom.
The blooming labels on the tongue of man have tagged a thing wrong or bad and even that under the glow of love is merely another flowering. But to our minds, which are simply a tool of the Divine Driver and not the center of our being, the wrongs and bads are to be avoided. This aversion to inevitability further spins the dizzy web that sticks our evolution, the one which like love is unavoidable, to the darkly shadowed corners of history both personal and ancestral. But as always, and please let this be quite understood, darkness exists only because of light. Because it is as playful as a child, light finds joy in hiding itself within itself.
Evolution of consciousness, and to us consciousness is light, is inevitable because even if it appears that there are only shadows, it is the light that created them so that it could find itself again. It is this rediscovery that multiplies and becomes born in all that we see. We see that the heart is within a dark casket of tissue and cell bar bones, but it is its light that projects our humanity onto the canvas of existence. We can call this light God, the Divine or even the Power. Regardless of its label, it never seizes playing and enjoying even if the shell encompassing it is tangled in bands of sorrow. It can never be dimmed. Light, God, the Divine is only shaded by that which shades it or blocks it out completely. It’s not from its failure to shine that the shadows come; it is in fact the opposite. To seek, find and remove our blockages is the material in the uprising.
This life comes with death.
No level of consciousness removes this swinging pendulum.
The root of us and things is centered in the axis on which the pendulum swings; the divine within splashing its grace against the rhythms of our heart, tasting the breath and assimilating it into a smile.
Answers are there, not in the outer perimeters whirling in a current of fear and blame.
Is the worst the worst; are the fish and falling birds a sign of needed change?
Perhaps, but a pointing finger is a plucking hand.
What can rise from faults flame? A toxic smoke that makes misty the eyes.
On this outward pointing skewer we char our fish and finches with smiles that we are better than our neighbor who stacks newspapers near his nightstand; the others, them, all choppy and shaky with our fragile things (a thickening fog dressing the curbside prophets with megaphones and Facebook posts, quick to shovel wrong out, late in placing a seed).
Some people will cling to angry emotions the same way that an alcoholic clings to alcoholism, as though it is a disease, as though they will never step out from under its shadow. In AA meetings I have heard that members will state their name followed by, “and I am an alcoholic”. There must be some use in this practice. Perhaps they hold memories of the ill times in their life close to their heart to remind them how easily they can relapse.
My feeling is this: we are not defined by our past and we limit our ability to grow if we hang on to dusty definitions that stem from unskillful moments in our lives. I will never open a conversation by saying, “My name is Jason, and I’m pissed off!” Yes I may still be sifting through feelings of anger, but I am not angry. Yes you may want a drink, but if you haven’t picked up a beer in 15 years you are not an alcoholic!
It is a shame that we define ourselves by the emotions that we feel. Because you feel angry, does not mean you are an angry person. Because it rains for a week in the desert, does not mean it is no longer a desert. And because it is a desert does not mean flowers can’t bloom from its soil. Anger can become rich soil for the blossoming of our greatest potential. The rise of anger creates an opportunity to listen to the deeper dimensions of our heart. It is an opportunity to heal, to feel and to see with clarity our imbalances. When we make the decision to cool the coals of anger and move toward peace and when we hold on to that decision, our un-peaceful parts begin to rise to the surface to be healed. We hand down a great injustice to ourselves when we judge and label our fragile and vulnerable emotions surrendering to the altar of consciousness. Those tender parts are joining the peace movement. Give them the space they deserve.
You don’t have to be angry simply because you feel anger. Indulging in those feelings or pushing them away only makes them stronger the next time they return. Spending time with them like an old friend weakens their hold on you. Anger is an old friend that has guided me toward peace. By cultivating the ability to listen to anger and irritation, I began to understand that it is present in me not so that I may destroy my life, but so that I can heal. It is suffering within us that wants us to look more closely, to listen, and to mend. Only when we have the courage to lesson our reactions and increase our ability to stop and listen to our anger do we begin the process of transforming it into love.
A lamp of wisdom lit by rivers of purpose,
by streams of love that spring
from unseen hills surrounding hearts like bosoms.
Sweet upwind of freedom is near
and dances field grass of wakefulness.
It kisses grace like the lips of a lover
tracing the shape of an inner thigh.
What else can be more than this?
Where is the heaven above my ancestors speak of
when I clearly see it flowering before me.
This quenching now of delightful breath,
can there be more than this?
If there is then staying can only know.
If we can dive under the waters of reality, we will see the abundance that holds us.
The frolic of existence is bountifully sweet as each thing is in its place turning the gears of the next,
yet we too often pluck and carve out life’s perceived imperfection calling them wrong.
Is there wrong, is there right, or is there merely the play of plentifulness and its brush strokes of color on life’s canvas?
Discomfort is simply another flower pressing its petals against the sun.
Sadness is an herb flavoring the food of growth.
If there were only sweetness, our lives would be riddled with cavities.
If there were only sour, our bellies would burn.
There is no line in the sand separating this and that.
There is only the stream of abundance flowing through the vessels of each thing.
Legs wrapped round a horse heading home.
I feel the return in the trot,
in the tow of the reins.
In the distant nays of corral mates
In the pounding below like
a churning Southern Pacific.
between the frame of mane and breast
the breath of resolve.
I feel it too
as the trot becomes a gallop.
If we can view death through the eyes of detachment, then it is clear that in death nothing is lost. Obviously we will not be able to share time in the future with those that have passed, but what remains with us are memories and the impressions they leave behind. Nothing gained sharing life with another can ever be lost. Like a mountain cannot be what it is without the elements that shape it, like a river is nothing without the Sun, the clouds and the gravity that pulls it. We too would not be who we are now without the beautiful beings that fill our lives. So the impressions they leave remain long after they have left.
I believe the greatest lesson death teaches us is the value of being completely present to all of the blessings in our life that dance as gracefully as flowers moved by wind. We so very often miss the gifts! A day can pass without kissing what is loved as we are mired in deadlines and aversions. We must live to enjoy the finest fiber of each things blossoming within the field of existence. The dance of life is only a dance when the music is heard and when the dance is set ablaze under the spotlight of our looking, our loving and our giving to it what it gives to us. Otherwise it is a miss. In death we see the value of this presence. To miss the dance would be a shame.
While singing birds gather worms
for chirping little ones growing
and weary of the nest not feathered yet for flight.
While fresh cut lawns invite
a frenzy of feeding fireflies dancing
on wind of hunger and heat.
Been rushing enough not to notice reasons
to smile and to write.
Reasons why the sky is blue above
a crispy soul crunching its way through
the fallen leaves of an autumn heart.
Where are the gates of heaven? I used to believe they were out there somewhere above the clouds in the hands of a grand and beautiful wise old man named God with a long flowing silver beard, smiling kind eyes and a visage as soft as spring mornings. And it was out there I pointed my aim and the congregation did the same as we reached up into the sky singing hymns of praise and glory and surrender. Sunday fell back to a Monday of feeling bemused and estranged by an ever present severance of me from all the others. My heart filled with worry and concern, “they will not go to heaven”, yet they had the brightest smiles and the warmest hugs and always made me laugh and feel loved.
They say God is a selfish God and that he should be feared, yet I know that when I love deeply fear is left in the cold with selfishness. In the lap of love there is nothing to be possessed, there is nothing that can be owned, there is nothing that can be lost and so only the grandest vastness of love remains. It is said that God is love, so how can love for God contain fear? How can God’s love if I am made from his likeness hold selfishness when my love’s reason reveals none? These are human words; fear, selfishness. These are human ideals; nonbelievers are destined for hell. And hell was in my home, as was heaven. I saw the flowers and the flames and had a God that wanted to be feared.
The great Earth and Sun are a pretense if the lessons contained on and underneath are worth only one religion’s beliefs. How is it that I see heaven in the eyes of a child, in the summer wind, in stones that ripple river water, in the space between hugs, in a face’s smile, in the radiance of a human heart, an elephant heart and the heart of the Great Barrier Reef? Clearly the gates are wide and welcoming and flowering like the fragrant pedals of a poppy that blossoms when I decide to look, look, look! God is in an old silver bearded man watching the Sun rise above maroon swamps that swelter and breathe. God is in the lemonade and the corn pipe that sits just beyond his human glare. There is never out there; if it were not for within there could be no with-out. Heaven is our awareness, hell is our ignorance! God is our love and joy, our bliss and forgiveness, our delight and kindness. God is a lesson learned and is our will to persevere smelting the crudest of metals pure.
It’s meditation where we learn not to react. It is there where we learn to avoid attaching ourselves to thoughts. They come, but we sit. We stay returning to our breath, returning to where the warm air hugs our heart and where our heart embraces breath and shares it with the body. The outside air becomes inside life and our blood roots us in consciousness. We are alive, we are connected. We are not our thoughts; we are blood, we are breath, we are life. Can you feel your arteries and organs smiling and saying, “beautiful sky, I am the same as you, I am you and you are in me! This life is abundant and I am everything; the rain, the clouds, the sun and the wind in the trees.”
What a gift it is to share the atmosphere, and though we are wonderfully attached to this Earth, we hold weightlessness in our breath. The same air that holds the soaring hawk is swimming through our liver. With my eyes closed, I smile to the hawk gliding through my vessels.
Within everything that is wonderful is some element of struggle and suffering. Even a grand and beautiful tree is rooted in soil composed of fallen trees and leaves, deceased animals and dead plants. Nothing that ever arose to become great in its expression of life has eluded pain and suffering. Knowing this, it is clear that it is how we see our suffering that defines how we allow it to shape our lives. That it is viewed as something to be avoided is where our mistakes come. In our effort to avoid our struggles, all we find are more struggles.
We have not within us always the capacity to understand the turns and twists of the great plan for our lives. Only when we have the courage to surrender and trust that what is moving through our life is part of a Divine plan do we then lesson our resistance to it and begin to align with it. Our question should not be, “Why do I struggle”, but “Where am I being led”. And that question can be asked with an open curiousness and faith.
Growth reveals itself on the other side of difficulty. Being able to truly appreciate light only comes because we’ve experienced darkness. It is our will and love for life powering us through disharmony that becomes more robust and solid like the trunk of the same tree that roots itself in the soil of decomposition. Struggle is a test of our will and love for living. The more tests we pass the less we face in the future as we graduate into the field of joy.
In my previous job I worked very hard and was under appreciated, especially when it came to the amount of income I received. It was a challenge to remain positive and optimistic, and some days I failed miserably. But most days I did my best to stay close to my joy and gratitude, appreciating the blessings that surrounded me. Though my pockets were not as full as I would have preferred and though I was not performing a job I was passionate about, I did all I could not to allow happiness to elude me. But so many of my previous co-workers complained and were unhappy. And their complaints were not limited to lack of money; they had a variety of reasons they felt the urge to express their displeasure.
Today, I work a new job where I feel appreciated, and get paid well. My new co-workers also get paid well and seem to be appreciated; yet the complaints are just as plentiful. Lack of money is not a common complaint, but unhappiness is still present even in a job that is much more generous. Here we have two opposite ends of an occupational spectrum, and complaints run rapid in both. Why is this, and where does happiness come from?
Happiness derives from within, not from external sources. Money does not determine our happiness; being appreciated by a stubborn boss does not define our value. If we look for the bad things in life, our experiences will be poor in quality. But if we practice gratitude and look for good, our potential to have wonderful experiences increases. Sure the second high paying job may also have its share of unfortunate situations, but fortune is determined by how effectively we are able to see gold hidden within a pile of dirt. When you actively seek the good, your activities will be golden.
Think of a seedling that has found its way into the soil. This seedling is from an apple tree. Even before it found itself wedged in the soil it always had within it the purpose of being an apple tree. That wisdom is never lost on this seedling. Finding itself in the ground, it instinctively begins to use the moisture and nutrients in the soil to begin effortlessly and patiently manifesting on the outside what it knows it is on the inside. Roots begin to emerge and very soon after, with graceful force it sprouts up from underneath its bed of earth knowing it needs the light of the sun to truly create what it knows it is. Harmoniously it uses the elements of earth, water and sun, as well as the powerful force of purpose to bring to life throughout the years a nearer representation of what it desires to become. All along though, even if most would not recognize it as an apple tree, it is and its purpose is to create apples that will be given to anyone who is hungry. It will give to give; it lives because it knows it is born to make delicious apples to be shared.
We can live our whole lives without knowing what we are born to do, but as effortlessly as this seedling brings to life its purpose, we too were meant to do the same. This is the value in discovering what our purpose is and living it to its fullest. A thousand reasons can be made why we don’t want to, and we can go our whole life without knowing it or pursuing it if we choose. But still our spirit knows it and will reemerge from the soil of humanity until the most conscious body decides to listen and blossom as it should.
Fear, excuses, stories, fascinations, latching on to the ego, dwelling in the past or being pulled away by thoughts about the future all block our view of this divine reason. Only a quiet and clean mind can clearly see the light of intention and the force of dharma. Just the same, only a quiet and clear mind can bring to life the light of intention and the force of dharma. From stillness comes the grandest vigor. It is a deep knowing that seemingly without any movement moves mountains. From where do you think the seedling knows it is an apple tree? From within and this knowing from within aligns with what is all around it to penetrate the heart of creation. It is a divine dance; a body and a song swaying to the rhythms within each. It is an invisible melody born in the material. This melody is love.
Being aware of your dharma is communicating with the Divine, and the Divine responds. The pulse of a seedling is its purpose, its dharma. Without question that is what it is to become. Keeping your awareness on purpose creates a pulse of waves that can be heard by the Divine, and it answers by giving that purpose a field in which to bring itself to life just like the soil, water and sun that is provided effortlessly for the apple seed.
By Jason Galbraith