The Only Possible Life

Is there a point to life? Having a point appears to be different from having an explanation about the point.

I used to think that the point of life was to get really good at living – having good relationships with people and being able to support oneself and family. I spent countless hours honing the right skills, looking for the right jobs, investing in my family, and sustaining friendships. Few things were easy, and the rest were hard. I persevered.

I also saw life as something very mysterious and I wanted to understand as much of it as I could grasp. The mystery was something that I couldn’t quite name or point out. Like most, I started with religion, metaphysics, and philosophy to learn what others have said. I imagined that the mystery could ultimately be explained if I just see the right words on a page, and I tirelessly searched for the “explanation” of life’s point and my part in it all.

Then, I looked at the world with more interest, and Life appeared to have no universal script for happy-making conditions. There are different cultures that define a “good” life in different ways. People experience extreme hardships and losses on mass scales that are beyond anyone’s control – many are just trying to make it from day to day. It is all too easy to get caught up in looking at life through the lens of one specific culture, language, and individual values – and then to assume that there is something universal about one’s perspective on what’s working or what’s wrong.

Life behaves as if she has all the time she could possibly want. Eon after eon, she freely explores every variation and adjusts her routes creatively. It seems that the only true point is to live our lives whether life makes any sense to us or not.

In my early teens, I wondered about a “utopian” life for all – where everyone has what they need to live happy, fulfilling lives. I thought our goal in life was to fix the things that were problematic so that everyone could finally be happy. People are hungry? Let’s make sure they have food. Thirsty? Let’s build wells. Jobless? Let’s make jobs. Uninformed? Let’s find ways to make knowledge acessible to everyone? Sick? Let’s help them be healthy. Lonely? Let’s create support systems and communities. Overwhelmed? Let’s help them to simplify. In fact, let’s do it on a mass scale – empower every single person.

However, it was a rude awakening for me to learn that the majority of people did not seem to think that an ideal life for all was possible. In other words, the Universal Book to Life’s Answers did not – and could not – exist. While we may learn a few things about what people learned before, all answers dry up as soon as it’s time to just be ourselves.

I was called “idealistic” and got frequently slapped with sarcasm. At the time, I hadn’t yet understood that idealism was synonymous with oversimplification and painting with strokes too broad for nuance. The message that kept coming up was that people wanted to live their lives their own way, whether that way fit the norm or not. Everyone had something that was extremely important to them, and – whether or not they had articulated it – they lived for that.

There was no point in debating about who lived in a way that was the most conducive to happiness – because there did not appear to be one or even several ways. In fact, we each do it slightly differently. When I interact with people now, I often find myself wondering- What is important to you right now? Seeing others is all that matters to me in our interaction, whether or not others can or wish to see me.

To make matters even more confusing for me, many people seemed to be happy while suffering. They even packaged suffering as “lessons” and life as a “school.” I could not help but think that these “students” were just finding a way to cope with an unpredictable existence by viewing every challenge as some significant and highly personal lesson. Doesn’t shit just happen sometimes? How often is a “cigar just a cigar”?

I look back at my journey of wanting to “fix” what’s broken for as many people as possible. When wiser people told me that fixing wasn’t the point, I frankly thought they were ignorant, jaded, and weak. I see now that life is not a problem to be “fixed” because I had a biased and a naive view on what may be broken! We do not have one way to define what seems to be the problem at any given time in history or at any specific place on the globe. I don’t even think that seeing life as a problem to be solved is all that helpful.

By reflecting on our lives and the lives around us, we unfold. But even then, that reflection is not going to be anything prescriptive or universal. Pop culture in any culture is engrossed in trends and moves along from one thing “viral” to another. We’ve wasted too much time, perhaps, trying to package ourselves for mass consumption. There is magic in being oneself – an individual – for oneself.

What seems to stand out as important to life is the difference between repetition and creativity. While most of what we do may be repetitive, there can be a few simple moments here and there to explore who we are in relationship to Life, which is a creative process. Instead of looking for an answer or an explanation, we can just immerse ourselves in being living awareness. Something like this cannot be explained. One cannot live another’s life for them.

While an individual’s lifetime is a fraction of a moment when compared to Life’s grand timescales, we do just like she does. We are the rivers that dance and bifurcate under gravity’s pull. We create “wisdom” and write it down in hopes of making sense of it all. We hope to move more gracefully because we have already tried everything we knew. We want to know the difference between what we don’t need and what is essential to us, and then we try let go of all that is unnecessary.

Once seen and recognized, the endless exploration that is Life looks like utter chaos in eternal flux. Perhaps the need to make “sense” of things is not as necessary as we always thought. What if we haven’t yet given life enough of our undivided attention to see what aware living has to offer?

The human race talks of an idyllic “happily ever after” in primary colors and straight lines, even as all shades in existence push against this illusory bubble. Surprisingly, being human offers us the potential to embrace even that which we consider to be outside the scope of the human experience. We have this incredible capacity to move into previously uncharted paths and color outside the lines. While our cultural norms and scientific laws are great for organizing closets, they are insufficiently detailed or flexible to allow us to love and be happy unconditionally. Have we been successful at taming what is wild, or have we simply misunderstood our freedom?

The societal pressures to aim for a certain coveted quality of life has bullied many of us into submission to nonstop thinking and doing, as well as into quiet rage and even depression. Perhaps we can just relax and be aware of our lives without worrying that we are missing something important. Perhaps we can welcome and let go of people and situations with openness. Instead of just showing up for our birthdays and funeral, why not be there for the rest of our lives too?

Breaking Out of the Cocoon

What is the cocoon that we live in? Why break out of it?

Individual consciousness begins life by growing a cocoon. Group consciousness forms from connected individuals. Group cocoons are fluid and dynamic, constantly morphing and reforming. Each cocoon is like a womb after birth, which continues to nurture the process of growth and emergence into Life.

The true function of our cocoon is to help us integrate individual consciousness into physical existence, where we create and interact. What some call our “spirit” (and other names) actually births into physical existence and learns to “wire into it” throughout life progression.

However, while our integration is occurring, another process is at play. The consciousness that lives all of life, including each of us, is working to break through and trasform our cocoons of individual identities to plug our awareness into the Whole – while retaining individuality.

Within our cocoons, we have “experiences” – ephemeral stimuli that lead us to conclusions about our lives and all life. We formulate a worldview according to how well this view serves us, whether it fits into the bigger picture or not. What we do – our mannerisms, ways of engaging, and verbal constructs – gradually solidify with age. That which served us well – we kept, that which didn’t agree with us – we discarded. Note that we do not always keep the mannerisms that help us to become more relational, open, flexible, and resilient. Sometimes we keep that which reinforces the beliefs that life is cruel, unfair, boring, and generally filled with “idiots who surround us.” Such individuals typically use sarcasm, speak with an air of superiority, and have a fairly rigid perspective on existence.

Experiences are individual, relative, and fleeting. No matter how powerful the stimulus, the cocoon is like a mirror that reflects back to us our interpretation of life. Because the cocoon changes, how we view life through its lenses and filters also evolves.

We need this cocoon up to a point. However, a time comes when we recognize that there is something beyond it. I’ve met a number of people who hit this stage. They feel that something about their perspective on life is being distorted. It’s like a kind of an itch that tells us how what we have crystallized as our view of life is incomplete.

Those who tend to rely on the mind a lot (like I had a tendency to do) become entangled by reasoning about existence. Because my mind works so fluidly with logical constructs, I tended to rely on my mind exclusively. I also used my intuitive abilities to read people and situations to protect and position myself where I wanted to be. It took my teacher several years to get me to see beyond the mind and my need to feel “safe through superiority.” Now, the mind and flash intuition – which have both become even more honed – are just tools, and not my identity.

What lies beyond the mind? We all have a sense of what that is during moments when we feel at peace, connected, at ease, inspired, and creative. These times, even if they are brief, are bleedthroughs of the One Life reminding us of who we really are.

After a time, we begin to yearn for life beyond the cocoon. We crave a relationship with life that is authentic and creative in every moment, and not just during a few sporadic bursts. Then, the journey of breaking the cocoon begins.

This journey eventually leads us to people who challenge our world view and seem to live and model an altogether different way of relationship – to everything. Such people may irritate us, frustrate us, or even make us downright angry at a very fundamental level. However, some of us will keep coming back to these characters to take another look. Others will flat out reject their presence as crazy.

Those that do come back know that there is some connection. This connection is not just via words. In reality, there is a sharing of circuitry that is going on. Such a living model of an opened cocoon will introduce his or her guests to a direct feeling, which is palpable of life beyond the cocoon. The living model does this simply by being alive, and not through any maneuvering, manipulation, or psychoanalysis. It takes time to truly understand such a relationship, and it took me years even after breaking through my cocoon to understand what my teacher truly did for me.

What lies beyond the cocoon? What does it mean to break through it? Unfortunately, many people say that they have broken through, but I can clearly see when they have not – just by interacting with them for a moment. This is very obvious and even visible. Some become very adept at living and interpret that as a breakthrough. But, being fluid at handling people, influential, wealthy, and charismatic are not indicators of enlightenment. For most in possession of these faculties, it’s just a matter of making a very functional cocoon. Many people are caught in this way of thinking and delay true opening by enjoying the fruits of their accomplishments. It is a stage that eventually feels unfulfilling.

At first the cocoon weakens and opens only slightly. In Phases of Human Evolution As Awareness, I talk more about this. However, that post is a bit outdated and does not describe the later phases enough – at the time I didn’t believe I would go any further. Still, that post does provide some insight into the process of shifting one’s perspective from the individual to the Whole.

One thing that seems clear is that we must heal the cocoon before we can break through it. We don’t need to heal it completely, but just enough to become available to the opening process. Whatever we don’t heal prior to opening will need to be healed after.

Every seed must sprout by breaking through the earth to greet the rays of the Sun. When it is ready, nothing can stop it.

What Is the Body?

The body is not a thing. It is a process. It does not have sharp edges or a boundary – not even what we see as the skin.

Our science has not yet understood the body process enough to properly infer its sphere of influence or its capabilities. Until then, if we train our attention, we can use our consciousness to explore the body deeper.

I experience the body as an intricately woven concentration of events. Although we have invented multiple scientific fields to describe the body, the body itself is unified and coordinated – chemistry, biology, physics, and other disciplines (some yet undiscovered), are occurring simultaneously! It’s a multi-dimensional network, continuously forming and reforming….

The body is a nexus that serves as a bridge for consciousness to express itself. It is a circuit, of sorts, but incomplete. The wires are there, but many are not connected to each other or to the circuitry of the Divine (the Whole). My teacher used this analogy, and I understand it much better now…. I no longer perceive myself as arms, legs, head, and torso. Instead, I feel the interconnections of the fine pulsations that literally plug into existence.

I like to lay quietly before sleep and feel the body using my awareness. There are meditation techniques, where you “scan” the body parts to relax. I don’t do that. Instead, I bask in the wholeness of the body process and its extent. I don’t “breathe into my belly,” but know that breath is tied to awareness and can lead awareness to the body – to the belly and to everything else. I simultaneously feel the body via consciousness, and consciousness via the body. Prior, I was always a body trying to feel conscious. Now, it is possible to identify with the Whole and to also see the Whole through the body lens.

The body is tied into its surroundings, including other people – like a single bulb on a string of lights glowing in the dark. As we make more of our unconscious conscious, we broaden our connection to more of the web of life – we perceive the wiring between. Each of us is but a smaller process occurring within a larger process – an eddy in a vast stream of life. Of course, with such intricate interconnections, synchronicities make complete sense.

What New Age students call the Universe, to me, is the life process – It is “listening” to us because we are tied into It and are indistinguishable from It. We can perceive others’ feelings and even thoughts because we are interconnected. The boundaries we may sense now are temporary and fluid.

Increased awareness does not make one God – the full network of consciousness expanding and creating. But such awareness does make the Infinite have meaning via direct knowledge. And, none of what I shared explains why we are this way or the meaning of life. I know that I don’t know what It is. And yet, I feel life to be meaningful in itself – the why questions have lost their relevance somehow.

The whole thing begs another question: what is enlightenment, really? What is so interesting about having increasingly integrated awareness? Why not just live feeling as if you are the body – a purely physical and well-bounded being? No process of life negates life. Life is life, regardless of how we relate to it.

There is something interesting that happens after enlightenment – the relationship to life changes dramatically. There is greater flexibility in awareness itself, which can serve as a telephoto lens – zooming in and out to various scales. In addition, loosening attention from the strictly body-centered perspective makes the cohesion between apparent parts undeniable – and that knowing changes how much you laugh (much more) and how much you cry (rarely). The emotional and mental functioning are seen in a broader context and cease to be such strong drivers of our attention. There is more to life than what we think, feel, want, or avoid in any given moment.

I’ll conclude by adding that the perception of time also transforms from linear to something most cannot relate to at this point in our development. When you zoom in on something and look through filters, processes can look linear and sequential. Cause-effect reigns supreme. But reality turns out to be much more complex. While the idea of time is still relevant, our everyday experience of time does not scale beyond our typical range of awareness.

It has become increasingly challenging for me to function linearly and sequentially – there is too much information to think about every input, action, or decision. Fortunately, the intuition intelligence kicks in and handles information via flash insight – seeing snapshots of a greater whole all at once, and then translating it to the present moment. There is so much occurring, and one is forever changed after knowing that first-hand.

Some say that standing on top of a mountain puts everyday life into perspective and changes how one feels about existence. Similarly, enlightenment transforms not only how one perceives life – but our very wiring with life. Why? I have no idea…. I do know well that the body process is essential to enlightenment. While in this body, the opportunity exists.

Murky Kindness. Loving Kindness.

Kindness is very precious indeed. Because I feel no need for others to be kind to me, I appreciate it more deeply now when I see it.

Loving kindness feels like a soft breeze or a gentle touch – a gift that takes nothing in return and moves onward. When received at a time of great despair, such kindness has an almost otherworldly quality. But, this kindness is very much of this world and can be offered by any of us at the right moment.

Timing is one of the most important aspects of our lives. When I see situations unfolding, I feel a distinct difference between the right and wrong time to act. To me, this looks like countless doors against a dark backdrop – some are closed, and some open and remain open for a time. The open doors are opportunities to act and interact. So, I watch and listen for these opportunities. I’ve learned the pointlessness of going after the “closed doors.” Where do I “see” these doors? Not in space. They are an analogy to how I feel and connect to life.

Recently, I’ve watched a number of videos pop up on social media showing someone offering something to a homeless person. It is not too difficult to tell that most of these videos are of the “murky kindness” variety – someone seeking to get “Likes” by appearing generous and kind to others. Such displays are not really about making an offering to another life, but more about getting more popular and monetizing popularity.

We get into murky waters when we attach demands to what we give to others. Then, unmet demands bring on resentment, bitterness, and disappointment: I did such a good thing. How dare people not appreciate me for what I gave? Many of our demands are unconscious, which makes it difficult for us to even recognize that we really want as much or more than we are giving. In truth, appreciating someone is challenging when there were strings attached or the gift crushed a fragile sense of self.

We also step into murky waters when we offer something to someone who doesn’t need it. We may want to help someone because it makes us feel good. We make assumptions about what a being needs and act on these assumptions without verifying that the need is real.

It requires sensitivity to recognize who does and does not need help from us. Because most people are here to build their own strength and awareness, they will openly refuse help or a “handout” – they won’t stay in shelters or halfway houses. Of course, addiction is also a factor. Unfortunately, some helpers are more needy than the ones they are helping, and they end up missing the mark with what they think they are giving.

Of course, some people genuinely do need help, and then we can reach out with heart first – then hand. Interstingly, people do not need help or kindness all of the time, but only in certain moments. On some level, we know that it is not up to any single individual to take permanent responsibility for every life that appears to lack something. Instead, we know that we need to help most people to help themselves as much as they are able. And yet, there are those who appear to drown themselves in giving or wishing they could give, while dreaming of what they can take in return.

For millennia, human life has been about some people having more than others. The ones who have little still depend on a neighbor, community, or strangers every day to help them live one day at a time. These people live with constant uncertainty. They may even forget to think about the next day. Poverty is a challenging life – I know it.

Why does poverty exist? Why is there an imbalance built into life where some have more than others? Why do some people have much more than they need? What is the right thing to do about it?

This setup deserves further study and a better understanding of where we fit in. Kindness is much more than giving things: it is more about seeing – truly seeing – a person for who they are. Loving kindness is a living presence and an honoring of our interconnection. Murky kindness is when objects are exchanged or given without connection and devotion.

Most people mean well and look for the right things to do. Often, the right thing requires a change in how we, as a society, assign value to individual lives. And a life that does not value itself will see that reflected back. No single individual is responsible for poverty and need, and no single individual can be a “solution.”

Kind leaders must set a strong tone for valuing life without sending contradicting messages. All people must make the time to show interest in the lives of others without intrusion. At some point, there will be greater balance in society as a whole so that life is honored at all levels. For now, we can wait for those open doors and forget ourselves while giving. Then, we must forget that we gave. That looks like loving kindness. There are no demands and no strings attached. There is no fear of deeply feeling another’s presence because we are not as separate as we believe.

We know we can’t give everything away and live. We know we can’t keep taking and honor the lives of others. Eventually, we will learn that kindness goes beyond helping someone’s survival or emotional strife, way beyond.

The Paradox of Awakened Beings

I learned a hard lesson a few years ago that, by simply being around people, I could either inspire great joy and laughter – or utter anger and disdain. I make many people uncomfortable.

I didn’t understand what was happening at first. Later, I learned that – in a way – I am “radioactive.” Not literally, of course. But there is something about my current configuration that acts as a mirror and an ignition switch. Because all people have the potential to awaken, they resonate with that thing, and those who don’t want to feel that possibility of awakening violently shut down. I wouldn’t say anything – just walk by, but the reactions are strong nonetheless.

People are dynamic processes – not objects – who must have a certain arrangement of their systems to receive whatever I (and others who woke up) “emit.”

As weird as it seems, most people didn’t come here to wake up at this time. They still need certain life experiences before they can move on. My teacher used to say that people need to love themselves and be able to surrender. Many need a strong identity before they can let it go. Surrender to what? To whatever is this mystery that lives us all. Surrender is expressed as care and devotion – and it is not a loss in some battle, or a giving up of oneself (like Westerners typically think). Neither is it worshipping another person, but expressing devotion to a living being who serves as a key. We cannot unlock the ego box by ourselves while inside the box!

Seekers often come to a fork in the road – they can either let go or cling to their identity. I remember my fork. I was riding a train home and felt myself shift into a new awareness. What matters is that I distinctly shut it off. I wasn’t ready – there were things I still needed to address in my life. It wasn’t until 12 years later that I finally transformed.

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of people leave my meditation teacher angry, bitter, and disappointed. Why weren’t they transforming, but others were? Some students just lost interest and wanted a “normal life” again. Those who know, can quickly nod that a path to awakening with a real teacher is far from easy.

Over the centuries there were many teachers with different styles of relating to their students. If you read books about famous teachers, you may think some of them were downright abusive. However, you may need to understand the ego better to see the teacher-student relationship in perspective.

In the presence of an awakened being, something catalyzes everything deepseated in a person to rise up. The process is rhythmic, pulsing in intensity – like a wave beating against a rock wall. When a student’s ego goes on the defensive or aggressive, or hides (to protect the “I”), the teacher may get beligerent and downright scary. For the teacher, it is a kind of act – evoked by the egoic presence. My teacher used to call it “blasting” the ego.

The more evolved the teacher, the more intense the blasting. Those on the receiving end must literally fight to hear the insight, and also fight the intense tendency to collapse into despair. The few who can withstand such confrontation of their limited condition go further, while the rest give up.

Yes, on the surface this may look like verbal abuse to those who are not trying to transform. However, looking deeper, the teacher literally tsunami-waves the ego to break its hold on the student’s consciousness. It takes a great deal of energy for the teacher and the student to maintain this dynamic relationship. And, at some point, the student may say “I had enough.”

While some walk away quietly, others walk away vocally bitter and angry. They literally forget that, at one point, they asked for help to become enlightened. They may even start badmouthing the teacher, diagnose the teacher as a narcissist or sociopath (common), and direct all of their anger at the teacher. While not all teachers are awakened, those who are awakened may still take the risk of a violent “breakup” anyway. They know that a seed was planted and will sprout when the soil is ready. There is no drama on the teacher’s part about something so simple.

I remember times when my teacher would cast me aside and say I wasn’t ready. I remember how aweful and discarded I felt. But I tried harder to find my way back. I felt like there was no other way but through. And, I spent very little time in-person with my teacher…. Such a bond transcends space and time. I mostly knew he was there, I read his unpublished writings, and I studied myself in response to various life experiences in the context of surrendering my life to the Divine. Almost everything I clung to had dissolved since then, and – on the surface – it didn’t look like I was doing anything but living my life.

The whole situation was between me and the Divine, and I knew I could not stop what I started. That was my path, my devotion, and my surrender – guided by whatever my teacher “radiated.” Others took different paths. It didn’t matter because it was not a race. We all got what we needed and were prepared to hold.

Those who leave a real teacher with bitterness and have forgotten why they sought out the teacher in the first place – they may trash what they received and are in a tough spot. While they are no threat to the teacher, their anger will need to be let go – or it will turn inward and feed on them until they realize that they are hurting themselves.

I consciously avoid being a spiritual teacher in any shape or form. I am learning how to move in a way that does not activate those who don’t need it yet. However, there are people who come out of the blue and ask me to help them wake up. Some, I take in. I am simply their friend.

We will do the dance and go as far as the person is willing. There is no fee, no contract, and no requirements but to stand strong in oneself to move beyond oneself. Such beings are still few, but teachers have always walked the Earth just for them – without expectations. The mystery still lives us all.

Impression Vs. Expression

Many people are exclusively preoccupied with making an impression. They invest in cultivating a certain image to elicit as much response from others as possible – positive 👍🏻 😀😂😆 or negative 👎🏻 😡 🤮.

The driving forces behind one’s intent to attract external input vary, but appear to have a common denominator: people want to feel real because they do not believe that they are real.

Why wouldn’t people feel that they are real and require constant affirmation? Probably because we believe that we exist only if someone else sees us. Most want themselves reflected back to them and acknowledged. They desire to leave an impression on others and only the impression they want others to have.

The uncertainty surrounding death adds to the dilemma, igniting one’s wish for permanence of some sort: “What can I produce so that I am remembered? Who do I have to be to leave a lasting legacy? What is my legacy?”

Carrying the belief that our life must somehow sparkle and shine brighter (or brightest) only to be noticed is a heavy burden to bear and results in much drama. Instead of discovering oneself and allowing oneself to unfold, much time is spent on cultivating an image, a facade, a persona – an avatar. Ironically, the result may be as fake as the cherrypicked images posted in social media profiles, and as ephemeral as the brief flashes of photons from these images on our retinas.

We are all asked to paint a self-portrait at least once during our schooling. The goal of the assignment is typically to help us connect with how we see ourselves. We present an interpretation that passes through many filters of self-doubt, and then proceed to “Photoshop” ourselves into the reflection we wish others to see. We erase or camouflage what we want to hide, and we emphasize and enhance that which we feel we unfairly lack. The rest of the world is left confused by the resulting cardboard cutout, where we have actually reduced our lives to disposable cliches. We simplified and flattened ourselves into Bitmojis with a few generic lines and facial expressions. In doing so, we literally rejected the essence that makes us unique and – therefore – beautiful.

Imagine a house with no mirrors. You walk the halls and enter rooms with no idea of how you appear. But, you feel yourself strongly and undeniably – your presence. Every movement emerges from your awareness. Every gesture is you shining and giving something back to life. You are comfortable being undefined by reflections. You are a continuous creative process and any static definition is senseless.

We were built to live as flux. Yet, ironically, people want others to stay the same. However, we have the capacity to literally transform – and not just change up the foods we like to eat.

Dramatic changes frighten most people. I understand. It is even more frightening when the changes don’t stop. However, I did eventually embrace living as change and then my life became easier. It is freeing to live as this flux without feeling the need to be something very specific. Pleasing others just for the sake of connection becomes impossible, but the alternative is to constantly check my reflection – this no longer fits.

If we took just a few minutes a day to bask in our own presence, we would be more relaxed to letting go into a whole other dimension of seeing and living. Confidence, resilience, self-control, and joy would become naturally emergent in our lives. It is because we resist our natural state so much that we struggle with self-image.

When you become your own best friend, you realize the true value ofothers.

There Are No Absolutes In Real Life

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

Surround Yourself With…

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Drama or Negativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higher Goals, Good Times, and No Hate

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply Bringing Out the Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When People Talk, Who Are They Talking To?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living On A Tightrope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-Esteem: Ego or Enlightenment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Life of Transformation and Enlightenment