Tag Archives: transformation

Living On “Single-Repeat”

You know that setting on a music player that repeats a song over and over? So much of our history – shaped by groups and individual lives – is on “single repeat.” Our instinct is to do what we know, what we have always done, what we have seen done, and what we were told to do. We are so caught up in repetition that we shut down the truly creative response that is needed from us moment to moment – that we are capable of.

I was talking to an artist today. His core belief is that the world is set up to “screw him over” no matter what he does. His other core belief is that he is “worthless.” I can see these beliefs in what he says and what he tries to hide. His subtle and overt agression masks his self-loathing. His silence, at times, masks his desire to cling to the deep-seated drama of how the world will  turned on him. His sarcasm is his way of attacking that which tries to show him that all his chains are self-crafted – and unnecessary. He clings and, at the same time, he fights.

I see people. First, the beauty and the truth of who they are, and then the chains, the anchors, and the inner demons. Most people live in bondage of perception. They believe something at their core about life, and then they see proof of this belief everywhere. Even if the perception is twisted, they don’t doubt that they live inside the illusion.

Of course, not everyone is ready to give up their core beliefs. The attachment is deeply entrenched and serves its purpose. Not all illusion is “bad” because it brings experience, even if it’s the same experience over and over. Some souls need this Life to be structured a certain way, and they derive joy from the structure – often even if the beliefs are self-negating. They don’t feel trapped and there is no problem – they describe the experience as being happy. Strangely, even unhappiness can be comfortable and comforting.

However, there are those who suffer because they feel the boundaries of their illusion. Although they are trapped, they are looking for a way out. They may not even care what lies beyond the illusion, but want to be free of it. These are tortured souls because they know they won’t find that feeling of “new” with their current awareness. 

This artist knows he is trapped, but he forgets. Over and over, life gives him opportunities to be aware in the moment, to treat each encounter as unique, and to be open and innocent to each exchange – the opposite of living out a predetermined “the world will just screw me over again and again and again…”. 

When he is reminded of what he is doing, he resists and deflects, at first. One can’t miss the internal battle of running on the tried and true circuit, and having to switch to the untried but true response. It is agonizing for him to surrender to truth in the midst of battle, and yet he tries. Over time it is taking him less and less time to see beyond his habitual perception. But he still forgets.

This is the dilemma of transformation in a nutshell – forgetfulness. This forgetfulness requires reminders, and mostly these cannot be “nice.” The Ego treats “nice” as a joke and works around gentleness in any number of ways. However, when facing a forceful confrontation and cornered after every possible deflection, it gives up and the true soul emerges (even if this is temporary). The Ego is extremely strong and entrenched – it will fight tooth and nail.

The artist keeps coming back. That is the key – persistence and a gradual letting go. There is trust that transformation can and will occur, despite numerous  challenges. You must keep coming back if you want to go all the way through the perception illusion tunnel.

Chogyam Trungpa spoke of the teacher as a skilled surgeon performing a painful operation. The art of confronting illusion is such an operation. But it is not for everyone because it is an irritant and a discomfort – who could withstand this long enough to transform? Not many, but more and more are starting to wonder.

Once the teacher is present, he or she will fight for you. When the operation starts, you will likely say at first that you changed your mind. However, you have already seen beyond the veil. And living with this without going all the way can be painful. So, you may take breaks, but you return for more. 

Of course, there are those who take the teachings and their incomplete transformation to the world to further reinforce their Ego. This has happened over and over, and incomplete understanding spreads. That is neither good not bad – it is just the way it is. At some point, people will realize they are stuck and go elsewhere.

This is the age of healers. Some people must be comforted and helped to live with the choices they make, and others must be helped to free themselves. Neither is better, it is just that the approach is different – and healers recognize and honor each other for their self-less service. After transformation, no gratitude or recognition is necessary anymore. Those healers who have crossed over know that taking money for helping ready souls transform creates karma. Only for this is there a restriction, otherwise money is neutral when handled properly as an energy exchange.

Movies and songs capture our culture quite well – and only the performers are different. They still show us why relationships do and do not work, teach us how to distract ourselves and forget, remind us how to reflect, and help us to escape from what is here and now. There truly is nothing new under the Sun, and it may not even feel new – unless you want to lift the veil from your eyes.

Ultimately, you make your choice how to live, and no one else. There are many options and all are being explored. But for those who are tired, disillusioned, even bored – ask yourself if you are ready to leave the illusion behind so much that you will muster up the strength for it. For it takes more courage and commitment than you have ever given. Your teacher will appear and stay if you are sincere, and you will evolve – and you will often ask yourself “have I had enough yet?” before the initial transformation is complete. 

Timeless Change

Nature – life – does not stand still. Change is the norm, and a light wave calls us to surf toward no shore we’ve ever encountered. Destination is merely the comfort of illusion, and the journey beckons.

In the night sky, at unfathomable scales, there are fantastic objects and processes alive with change. But after we glimpse the stars, we quickly narrow our vision to the situations close to home and look for patterns, cycles, and rhythms that will give us a sense of control over our lives. 

We are wired to want certainty and security, which may explain our myopic vision of life and even the longevity and prosperity of large, established institutions. Well-traveled pathways promise jobs, retirement funds, and to subsidize our health insurance. Ironically, it is these very institutions – egregors –  that strive to thrive at our expense of taking our life energy, and we willingly trade inspired life for a promise no one can really keep.

We seek stability because we have responsibilities and people who rely on us. Doesn’t that make sense? Yes and no. The rapid changes in earth’s climate, available resources, population, and culture are forcing us to re-evaluate our approach. But are we heeding the call? Technology is changing rapidly and the future job market is largely undefined. As robots take over mining and manufacturing, and the U.S. work force is at capacity, the reality of uncertainty is becoming more and more evident. In fact, we are more likely to thrive by practicing flexibility and resilience going forward than hanging on to a tree branch amidst roaring rapids.

Psychologists keep reminding us to teach our children resilience – the coping skills required to bounce back from adverse situations – but they seldom mention flexibility and open-ended living. Such a paradigm shift is quite dramatic and goes well beyond recovery from setbacks. Here, the pursuit of stability is void and supplanted by creative adaptability to any and every situation.

Imagine growing up with the ability to adapt to change in the moment without planning legacies and fearing death. We gain the ability to integrate our experiences in the moment, rather than spending months or years in therapy processing the past. Imagine feeling the moment so deeply that time itself ceases to have meaning, and there is an everpresent sense of opportunity and unconditional delight. Rather than insuring our lives – literally and figuratively, we value the unknown. The term risk gives way to exploration.

It may sound frightening and possibly unrealistic. Yet, I feel that this is the next step in our evolution. The continuation of the human experiment may depend on our willingness to break open our static shell of a universe and enter the dynamic void. And this has already been done by a small number of various well-known and obscure beings – pioneers, who have shown us throughout history that open-ended living is possible and even desirable. After you wake up to just how rich each moment truly is, you also release any holding on to the past and the future.

But how do we get out of the habit to keep solidifying the edges of our cocoon? How do we embrace the state of being where we let go into life, surrender our self-absorption, and immerse fully in the dynamic process of living?

The easiest way to experience timeless change is to observe someone who is already living this way. The new spiritual teachers claim no special gifts and appear no different than anyone else – except that they are at the front lines of life as living examplars of freedom. In their presence, you forget the little self and become saturated with joy and inspiration – even if for a brief while. The role of this new generation of teachers is to show others what is possible and inspire each person’s unique expression of freedom.

The new  teachers will be living gateways to new ways of relating to life and show us how to listen to the undercurrent flow of existence. 

Each person has the ability to be at the right time and in the right place, doing the right thing. But the information we need is still too quiet and subtle to be considered trusted intuitive guidance. The new teacher amplifies the current of life so that it can be heard and accessible to more people – to reach critical mass.

When people say “Focus on the positive”, I often hear the implication that life entitles us to purely positive outcomes. However, life marches on despite our definitions of positive and doom, and operates at levels beyond black-or-white gauges of success. When we don’t find the cycles in nature that suit us, we create our own to achieve short-term effects.

We value competition over cooperation because we strive to be on top of the food chain. We value creativity, but few feel that they have any. The rest feed off of the creative surges of others to get a “fix,” which only lasts until the next craving. There are very few truly novel and creative ideas because creativity requires opening oneself up and suspending all fixation. But, we are now a race of vampires and opportunity-seekers who are blind to our true nature and to life’s flow, feeding off recycled plots and viral social media.

On larger scales, those who seek power are looking to horde life force – but this has been said before.

So, why has so little changed from the feudal times when the few had so much control over the many, and the planet was merely a breadbasket? Why have we allowed these structures to persist despite the evidence that they have ceased to serve the greater good? It is all a natural part of our evolution, and it is time to become aware of the next level – even if it seems dim on the horizon. Yes, simply becoming aware and to start feeling the edges of the next level. 

The moment is timeless change, and our filters are being challenged to experience so much that we are currently missing while living in a loop. All that is needed from us now is to suspend our disbelief that unconditional happiness is living timeless change.

Crazy Wisdom or Crazymaking?

Many years ago, I discovered the writings of Chogyam Trungpa. Specifically, his phrase Crazy Wisdom was something that felt very familiar to me. When I read his books, I pictured wise men and women – usually in India – acting counter to social norms, laughing when laughter was not expected, giving someone a rock after a question was asked of them, and generally acting in counterintuitive and illogical ways. Although I had not met such beings, I felt that I had an inkling of intuition about this state.

I felt a freedom emanating from the idea of Crazy Wisdom – a letting go like no other. At the time, I wanted so much to be free of all of societal constraints, and imagined how I could navigate life as easily as a breeze, or a cloud, or an ocean wave. Since a very young age, I sought this freedom before I had any vocabulary or spiritual teachings to express my yearning. In silence, I held that feeling of freedom near and dear.

I’ve learned since then that people in the West often cannot recognize an enlightened being, and would not likely be able to tell if someone is wise or confused, or just another person walking by. That is no surprise because, at first glance, an enlightened being looks just like everyone else – and most don’t wish to be recognized. No white or saffron robes. No face paint. No prayer beads. Just presence.

It is so easy to project one’s own thoughts and ambitions and fears onto an awake  being without even sensing the  projections for what they are.  It can feel so natural to dismiss innocence as slow intellect, naivete, or a lack of understanding. And the awakened one cares not. He or she simply continues to be innocently present – even while all this drama is going on – steeped in bliss as pure awareness.

The Western world makes it challenging for such beings to be who they are. Unlike in India and Tibet, where wise men and women are respected and welcome, the West has a very fixed set of norms. If the awakened one wishes to have a job in the mainstream marketplace, he or she encounters much resistance and misunderstanding just by virtue of being there. There may be comments about that person’s unconventional approach and countless projections about what this being is thinking or feeling – but all are projections nonetheless. Regardless of endless criticism, circumstances do change toward the positive around such a being, but he or she is not cencerned with receiving appreciation and acknowledgement – he or she has no need for these.

So, how can we tell if a person is awake or crazy? Now, there is no clinical definition of crazy, and insanity has a very specific definition in legal settings. Psychologists  talk about perseveration, which is “compulsive, hopeless, helpless, automatic and unsatisfying” behavior. However, in my travels, I’ve encountered  crazymaking, which I describe as any acts that promote agendas and limit interconnection of ideas and people. I’ve observed that when people do not fully listen, ask few question, have little or no genuine interest in others, and push ahead with their own agendas, the atmosphere becomes toxic. Such people are rigid in their perceptions, but may even consider themselves awakened or wise. Awake beings have no agenda, but they are no patsies either – they know what’s up.

What fascinates me is that people who have an agenda to “be right,” “know it all,” “have the answers,” “get approval”, “be the best/smartest/most attractive/most talented,” or even to literally want to hurt others, may have no idea that they are driven by such agendas.   They interrupt others while pretending to listen, toot their own horn, put words in other people’s mouths, project emotions onto others, and spread negative comments in person or online. They leave toxicity in their wake – of course, there are degrees of toxicity. Is this not crazymaking? Does this have anything to do with an open, innocent being who moves in unconventional ways and, perhaps, uses unconventional words to simply express?

Awake beings come in all shapes and sizes, and behave in a myriad of ways. Some let go of this life’s norms completely. They are as compatible with illusion as oil and water, and always give freely of themselves to those in need – what else can love do?

Those who are connected to an awake being will recognize them for who they are and see an opportunity. Others will simply walk on by. And all is as it should be – as it is. There can be no crazymaking in Crazy Wisdom because, in full awakening, there is no ego to run the show – and it is such a show….

Life Transformation

Imagine life as a continuous stream of moments, where you feel joy in your every movement and in stillness. 

This life stream feels so natural that it is indistinguishable from you. 

You move, and you feel the true nature of your movement as a gesture of relationship. Your life is timeless. 

You live one long day, and then you move on, always rooted in happiness – regadless of what situations life presents.

It is easy to dismiss this possibility for living. We are taught that happiness is about what we have and how comfortable our lives appear. Power, money, people who say they love us, and a legacy become our goals so that we can someday be happy. So, if life does not present us with the right circumstances, we buckle in misery. Our lives are not sofragile, and our ability to be happy is not conditioned by how much we have achieved, or how much pain we have avoided. 

It is all too easy to fall into a pattern of living where we drag ourselves forward, focusing on discomfort, fear, frustration, and setbacks. This kind of relationship to life is disconnect. Awareness is trapped  inthe palace of the mind, and we watch our lives from a distance. Every situation and feeling is dissected and critiqued, and we react to every judgement.

There is an alternative possibility to living. In this possibility, you are rooted in happiness first – as happiness itself. And this state is not disturbed by any life event. 

You are naturally drawn to explore and feel as fully as you can. Then, life’s ups and downs don’t color perception.

You see clearly the dynamics of life’s situations, and you work with these to the best of your ability. Although you are  innocent, you are not naive. As taught by many masters, such a life is our natural state. This state is real and can become permanent.

The process of meditation restores us to our natural state. While many talk about  meditation as a relaxation technique, this was not its original intent. Instead, meditation with an enlightened teacher was a way to strip away all that was false until our natural state of happiness was all that remained.

Many people talk about spiritual practice as a way to restore health, acquire wealth, and attract people who will love us. However, anything we can acquire – including our lives – is temporary and fragile. That is just reality.

Many people talk about love and service as the basis of life. Thus, spiritual practice can become about acting more loving and offering time and money to others. However, even this approach can result in a feeling “holier than thou,” or feeling entitled to receive only the “good things in life.” 

For many, practicing meditation and cleaning up imbalanced relationships is beyond difficult and even unimaginable – especially if this process takes years. Instead of feeling good and relaxed during practice, you are agitated as  illusions burn away. Instead of feeling satisfaction in money, food, and sex, you feel confused about what is really important. 

So, why bother? Why engage in practice if it does not provide instant gratification of feeling like you have it all? The simple answer is “You don’t need to – just live your life as you want.” Being on a path to transformation does not make one any better than anyone else.

However, you may feel like you have no choice but to be in the world without being of the world. At some point, nothing in life satisfies, and you begins to yearn for freedom. 

With the help of a teacher, you eventually feel freedom from life’s changes – you remain steady amidst any and all storms of life. Service becomes a natural disposition of the heart. Love deepens beyond attachment, and you are more interested in loving than in getting someone else to love you. 

You no longer feel lonely or bored. You love yourself  enough to take good care of yourself and surround yourself with people who are balanced and care about you. 

You use your mind as a tool and are no longer a slave to endless, circular thoughts. You have a clear picture about what is dysfunctional and appropriately stand up for truth without self-righteousness. You feel everything, but emotions pass through you and do not stick to you. And all of this – your natural state. 

Many of us have forgotten that we are not our pain, discomfort, frustration, or reaction. We are also not our thoughts and judgements. We are not our imbalances or beliefs. None of these things need to define us for us to feel real. If we take away our reactions to life and our drive to do, what is left is relationship without any filters or blinders.

From the perspective of happiness, even the simplest actions are awe-inspiring. Every gesture we make expresses our connection to life and to our existence. One simple gesture, sparked by awareness, can ignite a chain reaction of connections, and can only deepen. Every moment has the potential to be expansive.

Ultimately, living is a relationship to everything of which we are conscious. You feel what inspires you, and then you move. You simply allow the next movement, and the next, and lose all interest in judging yourself because you are relating and naturally moving toward emerging needs. 

With every gesture, you forge a stronger bond to your simple committment to express. And that really can be everything because it is always new.