December 30, 2005

Post that lingered...

Sometimes a post by a friend, and the comments from others, touches me deeply, and lingers well after my initial reading. This post by our friend Tommy at Isaiah Knows Nothing , and comments by Amy, James, Aki, and Isaiah (Tommy) did this for me…

Deep Breath Deep Exhale

Taking a deep breath....And exhaling. All things are in divine order.

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."


Amy Harden said...

this reminds me of a Chris Rice lyric...
"Deep breath. Exhale. Breathe in deeper still....
Sorry I forgot you're right here,
I cup my hand around your ear..."

Such beautiful and simple truth. It reminds me of a Thich Nhat Hanh breathing mantra that goes:
Present moment...wonderful moment.

Akilesh said...

Here’s a koan to go with your responses:

Q. “Much talk before enlightenment. Will you give me a few words after enlightenment?”
A. “All things are in divine order... Present moment...wonderful moment.”
What is. Appreciating things as they are. Allowing.
Simple, yet curiously difficult to live. And this is what we long for, to live Truth, to embody Wisdom.
The check question, sharp as a razor:
What of the child at this moment dying of untreated AIDS in a suburb outside Francistown, Botswana?

isaiah said...

"What of the child at this moment dying of untreated AIDS in a suburb outside Francistown, Botswana?"
We are thinking this child is someone, something other than ourself and we do not realize our passing, our transition from body to allness is a mere illusion mared within the throws of much crying and suffering.
This is not a child dying from AIDS, this is Spirit creating, recreating- we choose to see our little tale of birth and death played out in the child. This child, anyone of us, is merely Spirit playing hide and seek with Itself.
"Oh, there you are!"

Akilesh said...

When every day is a good day... playfulness abounds.
Being so playful I see you were not caught in the net of self and other, of good and bad.

December 29, 2005


I had to drive slowly on my way to work this morning due to sheet after sheet of opaque fog. During my commute a memory came to me of the clean sheets hanging on my mother's clothes line. I remembered bright sunlight, and the display of light streaming between the sheets hanging in the sun, and remembered how the light came through the sheets, too. And I remember feeling the impulse to move into it – straight through the sheets, and as I came near I noticed the freshness, the airy fragrance, and then feeling the moist or dry and stiff fabric on my arms, and the sliding of the sheet over me, so close, touching my face and hair, blinding me until it fell from my head, exposing yet another sheet, and another, until the last one. And then, I would turn around, and move through them again.

The morning memory turned into an image of veils, filmy veils, hanging over us. When we see the light coming through we cannot discern intricacies or fine details. When these veils fall, when they drift slowly over our faces and expose the world to us in all its grandeur, a feeling of exuberating exultation ensues. I just want to breathe in this freshness, and to feel this delicate texture on my face. There is a sort of beauty in the translucency of the veils, and there is anticipation in the mystery, in the hope that clear and starry skies have always been there, waiting for you. Feeling a veil fall, however, is freedom.

December 27, 2005

Tears of a Madman

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

Beyond the rainbow... I don't know how to write this. Tears are falling, falling, falling – a lifetimes of tears. I am alone and it is raining in my eyes, and there is such a beautiful rainbow, skies of blue, clouds so white. Flowers bloom in this heartache and I am overwhelmed with gratitude, and the tears fall, the rain falls. It is all water; I am water, the vast ocean that stretches beyond any shore, out to eternity, in to infinity. And the thing of it, I sit here in all my humanity, just an ordinary person, a father, a son, a man, a friend, with all my humanity, faults and frailties, just a soap bubble. And as a person, a self, I know I can never make it, never cross the river, and trying, trying so hard, reaching, yearning, all my effort and struggle, in this journey to find my way home, to a place where trouble melts like lemon drops, where I melt like ice in the morning sun, where I wake up and find the clouds far behind me.

Human tears fall, all of us striving to find our way over the rainbow. My one heart, our heart, I don't know how to say it, our non-separate heart is always breaking, wishing on a star, tiny bluebird heart breaking in this sea of longing, this wave moving toward awakening, reaching as an infant reaches his little arm toward a light; daring to dream. I wanted to make it to that light, to merge and see. If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can't I? I never have and never will. There are tears to fall in this life, this living and growing; rain and more rain until the fledgling, becoming a bluebird and falls back down, down to the beloved earth, and lying there still, melts in the rain, in God's tears, melts into the ground, self dispersing into space, to float in subterranean rivers to an unknown sea with no shores, no boundaries, where the stars turn.

I stood on the shore, longing to cross over, not ever knowing what I was doing, just following a fragrance, a bluebird, a white cloud, a rainbow, a breaking heart, wishing upon a star, a star within to guide me home; returning, alone, suffering, with all my humanity, and a long bag of grief trailing behind me. Wounded, I knew I could not retreat back into the deeper recesses of my cocoon, safe, secure, where I would use up a lifetime to suffocate, to squander the gift of human life. Again and again I threw the covers off and leapt into blue skies, into the icy firmament, the indifferent stream, hoping, wanting to find my way, the Way over the rainbow, to the other shore. Building rafts, booking passage on other's rafts, with anyone who seemed to know how to fly. I glimpsed a pure land over the rainbow, caught the fragrance of the wonderful flowers blooming there, I could taste them, there beyond the rainbow. Looking up, above the chimney tops... Do you know? Tell me how, take me with you, take me over, where dreams really do come true.

Once in a lullaby I heard the music of Being, of Unity, way up high. Life went on as it does. I grew a self, adopted an identity, the music faded, and I, like everyone, suffered. Who am I? Yet I never completely forgot the music, the fragrance; never forgot my home, my original nature, that pure and perfect emptiness containing all things, so full. I searched for this pure land, pure and perfect. Now I see that you can never get to the holy land; never really cross over to the other shore, and complete the journey from searching self to Unity. As a friend said, "It is beyond your will and intention, but the universe will do it for you..." This is the miracle, the miracle we share. Leaping again and again into the stream, trusting and leaping, and moving to the sound of bliss, toward the fragrance of bliss. We see the other shore, leap and are carried away again and again, yet in this sincere approaching, approaching the gate, suddenly the barrier is crossed. The universe does it for us, we are pulled through the gate, pulled into the stream of Tao without the use of our hands. It is a death of sorts producing a river of tears, a flood, and we are carried away on this flood, carried away, over the rainbow on the wings of bluebirds. We look at our body and see blue wings and white clouds, and rainbows and dreams that have come true.

Here again are the tears, light meeting moisture without which no rainbow could exist. Tears of parting, tears of letting go, finally releasing into dark night and blue sky, tears of bliss. Such exquisite sadness: you never really make it, never able to find your way home again, never achieve salvation. Yet suddenly it is here. When you allow your self to dissolve into nothingness, into the heart of a bluebird, suddenly you are over the rainbow. Spread your wings of love, for love is what you soar upon, nothing else but the warm current of love. It is beyond all your effort and striving. You can not do it, yet opening, trusting, letting go, existence does it for you. Then the tears of gratitude pour like rain, showering upon and blessing the earth. And here, on earth, look! Oh, please look! Someone with a breaking heart is looking up, high above the chimney tops, wishing upon a star, searching, seeking. Please look; he is looking for you, looking for the violet, the deep hues of your face. If ever there was a human need, this is the deepest, in these searching, suffering eyes full of tears. Rainbow, mirror of Being, he needs you. Will you meet his gaze? Will you, looking back, sing to him a sweet refrain of love, "Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a dream that you dreamed of once in a lullaby..." Sweet rainbow, brilliant star, please look back. His eyes look for you, innocently, and you can see his broken heart is pure. When your eyes meet, he will dare to wake up, and find the courage to fly beyond the rainbow. A rainbow with human eyes is who you are; those bluebirds are you, they fly in your heart, your Being. When you are willing to drop clinging and become a tiny bluebird, a rainbow, a blue sky - blissful celebration will blossom everywhere. With no one to celebrate, flowers of bliss will be blooming everywhere; the ecstasy of existence will be uncontainable, both way up high and here in this breaking heart. And this is where you'll find me.

Celebration is what we eternally abide in. Celebration of Being is going on all around us. This is the open secret. It is Presence, wide open, free, and unhindered, in plain view. If it takes a madman to see, then let yourself go mad, for there is only one thing happening in existence, celebration of Being. Look back sweet rainbow, be the celebration that is your true nature, let your cocoon fall away and come fly over the rainbow. It is a wonderful existence. How could we ask for more? Will you continue to cling to the husk of self, when it's possible, right now, to emerge from chrysalis into blue skies? While our human life contains exquisite pain, it does not follow that you need to suffer. Pain has beauty in it, deep down. Agony has ecstasy in it. They are a part of living, but suffering is unnecessary. Letting go, tears fall into bliss, into celebration.

December 16, 2005

Thou Art That

When Svetaketu was twelve years old he was sent to a teacher, with whom he studied until he was twenty four. After learning all the Vedas, he returned home full of conceit in the belief that he was consummately well educated, and very censorious.

His father said to him, “Svetaketu, my child, you who are so full of your learning and so censorious, have you asked for the knowledge by which we hear the unhearable, by which we perceive what cannot be perceived and know what cannot be known?”

“What knowledge is that, Sir?” asked Svetaketu.

His father replied, “As by knowing one lump of clay all that is made of clay is known, the difference being only in name, but the truth being that all is clay – so, my child, is that knowledge, knowing which we know all.”

“But surely these venerable teachers of mine are ignorant of this knowledge; for if they possessed it they would have imparted it to me. Do you, sir, therefore give me that knowledge.”

“So be it,” said the father…And he said, “Bring me a fruit of the nyagrodha tree.”

“Here is one, sir.”

“Break it.”

“It is broken, sir.”

“What do you see there?”

“Some seeds, sir, exceedingly small.”

“Break one of these.”

“It is broken, sir.”

“What do you see there?”

“Nothing at all.”

The father said, “My son, that subtle essence which you do not perceive there – in that very essence stands the being of the huge nyagrodha tree. In that which is the subtle essence all that exists has its self. That is the True, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That.”

“Pray, sir,” said the son, “tell me more.”

“Be it so, my child,” the father replied: and he said, “Place this salt in water, and come to me tomorrow morning.”

The son did as he was told.

Next morning, the father said, "Bring me the salt which you put in the water."

The son looked for it, but could not find it; for the salt, of course, had dissolved.

The father said, "Taste some of the water from the surface of the vessel. How is it?"


"Taste some from the middle. How is it?"


"Taste some from the bottom. How is it?"


The father said, “Throw the water away and then come back to me again.”

The son did so; but the salt was not lost, for salt exists forever.

Then the father said, “Here likewise in this body of yours, my son, you do not perceive the True; but there in fact it is. In that which is the subtle essence, all that exists has its self. That is the True, that is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art That.”

~From the Chandogya Upanishad

December 15, 2005

The Heart of God

In Tales of the Magic Monastery, by Theophane Boyd, there is a story about a little child who visits a magic monastery one Christmas. Near the entrance to the monastery, at the outer gate, sat a blind beggar. As the child went to pass through the gate he placed a coin in the man’s bowl. The old man cried out: “Who will lead me into the heart of God?” The boy was bewildered for a brief moment. Then he went and sat in front of the old gentleman, took his two hands in his own, and said tenderly: “Together we will go into the heart of God.”

December 12, 2005

Crowned with the Stars

Meditation V on Thomas Traherne's "Your enjoyment of the world..." Quoted in Huxley's Perennial Philosophy

The bride of a monarch in her husband's chamber, hath no such cause of delight as you.

What is it that has us feel so fundamentally impoverished? What has us experience ourselves as unworthy? On her wedding night, resting on her bed, filled with excitement and bubbling enthusiasm, having the boundless affection and commitment of her king and lover, the world her playground, showered in riches and vast power, this bride's delight cannot compare with the unconditioned bliss in your own heart. This bride's freedom is incomparable to the unbounded freedom that is your birthright. She is a beggar compared with the bounty that is inherent in your original nature; a bounty that is already and always present. She may now own the kingdom and subjects, but as a nobody you have dissolved into the herenow, a mystic freshness of vastly greater worth. As an identity it is natural to feel impoverishment. As a nobody you are an unfathomable abundance.

You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars;

Here is Kabir, the drop slipping from the lotus leaf into the ocean. Here is Rumi merging with the beloved, where one looks inside, down into infinite space and finds no center, and looks out into eternity and finds no center, and sees himself as the swinging door of Suzuki Roshi, just a swinging door between the in breath and the out breath. Suddenly you're not there, and all of existence is. Tortoise Mountain has awakened. The great big blue pancake of sky has fallen on your head. You reach into your heart and feel only stars in vast space. You fall within and find yourself falling in outer space. Inner space merges with outer space, the stars are in you and the sea flows in your veins. You are the emerald green of trees and the gold of sun. The purple mountains sit solidly in your vast body; birds sing and flowers bloom in you. Galaxies spin slowly in your vastness.

Nietzsche and Sartre and all the existentialist's created a clearing, and pointed the way to a clear, empty sky. They cleared away all the gods and angels, cleared the thickets of dead religion; blessedly cleared out the stinking corpse of the one and only God, declared him dead, a projection, a fantasy; extinguished every strategy of salvation and redemption; burned the seeds of hope and fear to white ash, and then burned the ash; burned us down to bare ground, to naked, scorched earth; burned the skin from our flesh and left us exposed to the elements, to sun, wind and rain; left us excruciatingly sensitive; tore our security blanket, pulled the rug out from under us, pitching us into despair, depression, anxiety and angst, darkness, fear, sadness, and such a lack of meaning that drew us toward the dark relief of suicide. But we did not stop, we kept moving, "slouching toward Bethlehem." We trembled in utter darkness but kept walking, crawling out of the artificial womb of security, refusing to escape into the twilight sleep, the trance of self, the hypnotic slumber of distraction, preoccupation and entertainment, into the numbness of unconsciousness. We remained sensitive, exposed, exposing our skinless flesh to the raw elements; unprotected, undefended. We were grateful to those who cleared the ground before us, who shattered all the vessels of religion and superstition to which we had clung, leaving us shockingly naked under the stars at night. On the distant horizon was a campfire. Around it we found Rumi, Kabir and Mirabai. They were completely uninterested in our stories, how Kirkegaard and Sartre had left us so alone, fearful, unbearably sad, sick with self-loathing, contemplating our death. Mirabai shouted the cry of liberation, "Let go! Let go!" And we walked on. In the desert night we forgot about the priests of rationality, these geniuses who were stuck in thought, who were stuck in a hall of mental mirrors, a house of horror, moving in a death circle of mind identified despair and negativity. We walked past every answer, touching and letting go of each anchor, past every longing for comfort and security. Again and again we opened our fists of control, loosened our grip, and moved into the beyond. We opened, trusted, what? we did not know. The night sky was too vast, too free to wrap ourselves around. Instead we let go of ourselves, leaving only naked trust, basic trust. Eventually even that dissolved -- who trusts? At that, we laughed. We were so hollow we did not know even who was laughing or where this laughing was coming from. Yet here was laughter echoing through the desert night, through eternity. The center had dissolved, disappeared and laughter was echoing in empty space. The whole seemed to be laughing, dancing and singing but there was no laugher, dancer or singer present.

The river dissolved into the ocean, into freedom. Now it is clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. Now it is no longer able to identify itself as a river, or even as water, and the sea flows in its veins. In this absence of identity it perceives itself to be the sole heir of the whole world. It has inherited the kingdom of God, and this God has disappeared along with the river. And now only this... the shimmering Milky Way, bird song bubbling out of the silence, yellow buttercups splattered across an emerald meadow, the sweet fragrance of a flowering tree, the nearly imperceptible progression of a white cloud drifting in the blue sky, the balmy smell of rain. This freedom cannot be captured in words. Yet we try. It pierces us and we can do no other than share our sweet pain imperfectly, incompletely. Ecstasy is an inadequate word. It misses the ordinariness, the subtlety and the imperfection that transports this experience into the unknowable, into the ungraspable, into the unnameable, into the beyond. In this way it is self secret. Until you pull the cover of desert stars over you at night, until you drink so deeply at the spring that you drown yourself in its crystal waters, until you fan the flames with your own tailfeathers in the pyre of the phoenix, not knowing if you will emerge, with no thought of emergence, of salvation, and singing into death, the last songs of trust, songs which call all of the 10,000 things to their death, the blessed death, the death of the river flowing into the ocean; not until all is burned will resurrection occur. And even then, you do not know. In the myth of the phoenix a tiny ember brings rebirth. But in this fire all embers fade away and the ground grows cold. A frigid wind blows the ashes far across a frozen lake; far over white, crystal mountains, over swirling galaxies glittering, into space so empty, days no longer pass, time no longer passes, we pass, laughing with a joy known only to the mad. On the empty space that clothes Heaven, red dust gathers, and from this dust, coalescing in timeless emptiness, a new star is born, a celestial jewel ignites.

Post by Akilesh

December 9, 2005

Tangerine Wisdom

Once, when feeling like everything was wrong, I shared my misery with Aki:

"It is a good thing I sit in a small private office with lots of Kleenex. These walls have heard much more of my own angst than anyone else’s. Today, I honestly don’t know what it looks like/feels like to love myself. It’s just not there. It’s not that I hate myself, but... truth is: my body – it’s just a mundane vehicle, my intellect – nothing special there, my feeling capacity and emotional response – completely whacked on overdrive. But then, these are just dark thoughts that will clear in time – as you are certain to remind me."

Then, my mood changed and the room seemed to light up when I peeled a tangerine – and the fragrance squirting into the air was so beautifully intense. The fruit was a beautiful color – a radiant orange, and the taste…with "the sweet/tart crushing mix of citrus and saliva…" was exquisite. The tangerine was perfectly ripe, so beautiful, so delicious.

This reminded me of Aki’s wisdom from another day...“We are all ripening in our own way, at our own pace. Ripening is going on all around us, naturally, ineluctably. Eventually we let go and drop -- pure, beautiful, ripe, juicy -- into open space. Existence is fully awake already, just waiting for us to drop into emptiness.”

Aki replied:

"When life gets heavy, look for the tangerine. It's always there somewhere, in some form, ready to tickle our nose with its fragrance, delight our eye with its color, inspire us, remind us that the most important things in life are often the simplest. There is a lot of love in a tangerine. Imagine it, all the sunlight, warm breezes pollinating impossibly fragrant blossoms, all the water, the minerals in the soil, all the pruning, the farm worker harvesting, the driver transporting, longshoremen unloading, grocer displaying, all forms of love. Look for the tangerine. It may appear in the form of a person, a pair of eyeglasses or a pencil, a sound or a smell. Look for that golden gift that is so ordinary, and always at your elbow, as close to you as your breath.

Self-love no one can do for you. The willingness is all, just be willing to love yourself just as you are - however that may look and feel at the moment. You extend such love to others. In just the way you give it to others, extend it first to yourself, and then you will see how much more becomes available to those around you.

By the way, have you ever met a fatigued or stressed out tangerine, or one suffering from low self esteem? I have not met one, and I have eaten a lot of tangerines!"

December 7, 2005

Sentiments of Fear

Meredith: Recently I’ve been curious about the nature of fear, and how it affects us in ways we may not even realize. It seems to me that fear can be a prison of sorts, keeping us from doing what we might otherwise do if we were not afraid. I’m not necessarily talking about taking big physical risks, but rather the risk to speak our truth, to live our truth, and to love.

Akilesh: Hunter S. Thompson titled his last book, the last book before he committed suicide, The Kingdom of Fear. Where is the kingdom of fear? Where does one look from to see the kingdom of fear?

In our conditioned existence we often harbor an unquestioned affiliation with fear and want. Through our conditioning we are thoroughly and comprehensively programmed in the ways of want and fear. These two factors inform and animate unconscious behavior more than anything else. Ignorance or unconsciousness has the whole conditioning process remain underground, unavailable to conscious awareness.

We are in a trance of self, hypnotized by our programming. Unless we deeply investigate the source of this conditioning, and unconceal it, we are unable to go beyond it. Most people never get past their loyalty and allegiance to self-identity. We will do almost anything to move the discussion away from the examination of self-identity and the role it plays in want and fear, the central role it plays in suffering. An escape from suffering is the major factor motivating most seekers. Yet if ego clinging or allegiance to self-identity is mentioned in the context of the origin of suffering, people often respond with a dazed and confused look, they will look at you as if to say, "What color is the sky in the world you live in? I didn't ask you about my ego or my identity or who I am, I am inquiring into my suffering." The connection between ego clinging and suffering eludes most people. The vast majority of folks do not want to "go there." We simply do not want to examine that connection. Yet that connection relates directly to the root of our suffering. If we do not cut the root, suffering will grow back. If we just address the symptom, the underlying disease continues, and it manifests in a myriad of other ways, lifelong.

Meredith: So to talk about our fears really leads us into a deeper discussion of our very selves, our self identity rather than merely grappling with the threat of suffering.

Akilesh: It is much, much easier talking ad nauseam about our suffering. It is seductive and seems to distract us momentarily. But to actually come to grips with our suffering, to dig down into the layers where the origin of it lay, is difficult work. It is as if we are digging a well. While the water is already present, it is not superficial. It lies deep, below the surface. Many layers of rock and soil need to be penetrated and removed, then the water starts flowing and is revealed. Because of the layers of conditioning, our true nature is concealed, it is not superficial. Just like the layers of rock and dirt need to be removed for the water to be revealed, the layers of our conditioning need to be penetrated in order for Being to reveal itself, and begin flowing in us. One of the deeper layers that must be penetrated is fear.

Meredith: In part, the seed for this discussion began when my friend Larry said, "Radical Christianity is extremely scary." I asked him to elaborate and he replied, "My vision of radical Christianity means that it may very likely lead to the same fate that Jesus, and perhaps, Tom Fox, suffered. That's too scary for me to get very radical. Don't get too radical, or someone will crucify you." However, I asked Larry about the frequency of people being crucified in today’s world, and he affirmed that he believes it still does happen - not in the same way as Jesus, but in other forms. I learned that his Friend, Tom Fox, with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, has been abducted in Iraq. My heart goes out to this Friend - I know that he is held in the Light by many.

Akilesh: I take Larry's reference to "radical" to mean that which goes against the grain of culture and conditioning, against the Pharisees, consensus reality as advanced by our parents, pastors, professors and politicians. If one begins questioning consensus reality, if one begins questioning the understructure of identity, if one begins to question the beliefs and assumptions that undergird the structure of self-identity, it's etiology and persistence, then in one way or another, the identity is vulnerable to psychological crucifixion. Contempt from our peers and elders, social rejection and ostracization is a formidable disincentive to radical inquiry. It challenges our need to belong, and is tied to our survival. Ego fixation and the context of survival go hand in hand. With respect to survival, people get very, very serious. It is a theme that surfaces again and again and again. Why? On some level the mind identified self senses it is a fiction. Exposing this fiction is perceived by the mind as a death sentence. Because we are so closely identified with our thinking and the self that is posited to be doing the thinking, the coming to the end of the self feels like death. Hence the fear. This process welds us to the concept of self-identity. We guard, defend and protect this psychological illusion with the same ferocity as we do with our own physical life. It's about the survival of our self.

Meredith: This is the same self that in terms of coming closer to God, we "die unto." In other words, we willingly give up clinging to this self to inhabit the kingdom, to awaken to our true nature as did the Buddha, to breathe with the spirit of Christ. On the one hand most would say we want to be closer to God, but it is so difficult to really give up this control.

Akilesh: The survival of our self, whether physical or psychological, is facilitated by power and control, acquiring and maintaining control. Digging down through the layers of emotion, down through want and fear, one comes to a deeper layer -- the need to control. This need is deeply ingrained in the conditioned human being, whether President of the United States or a bag lady, in a professor of business administration at Stanford or a primitive tribal hunter deep in the Amazon basin.

Meredith: My sense is that sentiments of fear actually preclude others from enjoying their own ability to witness. This makes me very sad.

Akilesh: Enjoyment, my friend, is far, far away from the serious conversations of this mind. En-joy-ment, authentic joy, a celebratory being is foreign to those preoccupied with the sentiments of fear. Those so absorbed they feel they are responding to a higher order value, a deeper call. To speak to them of enjoyment, while they are engaged with the world's most serious and dire conditions and circumstances, is to appear frivolous and ludicrous. You are dismissed. "Enjoyment? How can you bring up enjoyment and celebration in the face of such suffering in the world? With the world going to hell in a handbasket? Pull your head out of your flatulent, self-involved ass and smell the coffee! When was the last time you turned on your TV or read U.S. News & World Report, or listened to CNN or NPR? Inform yourself, it is grim and brutal out there. Not only is truth, justice and the American way at risk, but our very survival is being challenged."

Meredith: Most of us are not in harms way spiritually, not in the line of fire, so to speak. Most of us live in peaceful stable communities where witness seems an easy and natural way of being. Why we are afraid of dying for our beliefs? Why do we hold this fear, even when the possibility of our demise is so remote?

Akilesh: Because the "possibility of our demise" as a self-identity is far from remote. We are suffering and dying for our beliefs every day. We go to the grave clinging desperately to our beliefs. We forgo the possibility of eternal life by clinging to our beliefs. We cling to our beliefs so tightly that it takes the hand of death to pry our cold, dead fingers from them. Beliefs are not worth dying for, and yet generation after generation, we die for our beliefs. We go to the grave committed to our beliefs instead of seeing through them, and letting them go, releasing them. Why do we cling so tightly to our beliefs? Why we are willing to suffer and die for them, for hot air, words on paper, for transient and impermanent thoughts and feelings? Because the possibility of our demise as a self-identity is at stake, nothing less. Our survival as a separate entity, a self, is felt to be at stake.

Meredith: Beliefs are generally so tightly held; it seems that we allow them to define us in a way.

Akilesh: Beliefs are the mainstays of the mind identified self. When this self-identity is seen through, when we awaken from the trance of a separate self-identity, belief falls away. We do not need to believe anything because we realize we are Truth itself. Realizing we are truth itself makes belief superfluous. Truth does not need belief, it stands on its own. One recognizes at that point how belief was used to bolster and substantiate the ego. We identify with our beliefs, we believe them because not believing put us in the uncomfortable position of not knowing who we are. Without belief we are naked. We use belief to shield us from the open vulnerability, unknowing freshness, and initial insecurity of nakedness. Belief is of the mind. It is insubstantial. When we cling to our beliefs as if they are real, we live in delusion and we suffer. When we open the tight fist of control and release our clinging to belief, initially we feel shaky because of our conditioning . Existing as openness, as the Whole, as Being or pure consciousness feels initially insecure to one who has lived his whole life as a self-identity and ego fixated. But this openness is our true nature. Realizing our true nature has all belief and ideology fall away.

Meredith: Recently I read this wonderful quote by Joseph Campbell: "You have to go past the imagined image of Jesus. Such an image of one's god becomes a final obstruction, one's ultimate barrier. You hold on to your own ideology, your own little manner of thinking, and when a large experience of God approaches, an experience greater than you are prepared to receive, you take flight from it by clinging to the image in your mind. This is known as preserving your faith."

Akilesh: Try to penetrate into these words. What does he mean by "the imagined image." He says we hold on to our own ideology, our own little manner of thinking. We cling to our beliefs, our familiar patterns of thinking, our self-identity. And when existence, God, Being comes to us, to fill us, we are closed, we are filled to the brim with our ideology, our "little manner of thinking." When the whole comes to fill us, we realize that the self-identity, the little me is unable to contain vastness, the Whole so we are resistive, unwilling to let go of who we formally thought we were, Little Me, this small self-identity, and we escape, run away by "clinging to the image in your mind," by clinging, holding on to self-identity, the image of ourselves we are familiar with. Clinging to this image of self, we also project an image of other, the "imagined image of Jesus," or God, or enlightenment. Joseph Campbell says "this is known as preserving your faith." I say, this is known as preserving your self. I see this kind of faith as an accoutrement of self-identity; a prop of the false self; an outgrowth of the innocent misperception that who you are is a mind identified self.

Meredith: It seems apparent to me that clinging to our belief and ideology occludes realization, love, and celebration of life. From what you suggest, releasing our attachment to belief, letting go of our allegiance to a mind identified self, allows our original face to emerge, allows the fragrance of love to blossom in our lives, and allows for a celebration of what is. It allows for deep acceptance. It allows for irrational gratitude. It allows for an intuitive wisdom beyond imagination. I would love to see this blossom everywhere.

A friend, Mark, asked, "How can we overcome this natural defensiveness (to deeper teachings) in a way that doesn't cause people to become defensive or feel like their faith needs defending or that they are being challenged?" I don’t have a perfect answer, but the bridge I would take is to love. The strongest thing I can do is to love openly, freely, unabashedly. I want to be the one holding the other's hand. I want to lead people who are guarded and afraid, deeper into their own hearts to fearlessly meet up with their own tenderness. I want to encourage people to love fully, and enjoy their lives fully.

Akilesh: This does bring us back to love. Contrary to your thinking, you do have the perfect response. What if, in the face of aggression, enmity and greed, we responded from naked Being with tenderness and celebration and love? It seems so obvious doesn't it? Yet this is not characteristically the common response. Why? Because we do not realize who we are. And not knowing who we are, we have no access to authentic love. It is something else, affection, kindness, tolerance perhaps, but not love. Do you see it? Everything stems from the realization of one's true nature. Without this realization our efforts are simply more of the same ego fixated activity. And whatever comes out of ego fixated activity, including our so-called love will not address the root cause of suffering. The symptoms will continue to reemerge unless the underlying disease is addressed.

Meredith: Long ago you suggested that I inquire into my own fear. This has been a dynamic inquiry, one that likely is far from over. However, in the process of this inquiry, when I have utterly watched my own fears rise, and then fall away, the solvency of my fears becomes highlighted. Fears truly seem to dissipate in the light. When I experience my own fears disintegrating, I notice that I am left feeling very refreshed, open to love, open to light, open to love and enjoy this life I have.

Akilesh: A key in your passage are the words, "the light." This light is realization, this light is wisdom, this light is the recognition of your original face, your original nature. This light is the light of pure, naked consciousness. It is without boundaries, without belief, it is open, it is emptiness and the fullness of emptiness. And as you so often, so very often have noted it is warm. In other words it is love, authentic, genuine love.

The entire scope of this dialogue can be summed up in the following: fear "dissipates in the light." We do nothing with fear other than allow it. We don't try to fight it or manipulate it. We don't try to push it away or pull it to us. We simply allow it. It is what is. When it comes, it comes, we don't prevent it. When it goes, it goes, we don't hang on to it. Instead our response is from the light, from wisdom, from warmth. Even though we may be feeling overrun by fear, we respond with openness and light, with an understanding acceptance and warmth. By and by the darkness, the fear dissipates in the light. This is the point. We keep our fidelity to the light, to awakening, to warmth and love. We have had the experience of realizing our original nature. Now we must keep our human fidelity to this realization. This is the antidote to fear -- Love. Don't try to mess with or manipulate the fear. Instead turn up the vibration of love. This love comes out of the realization of our true nature.

This brings us to celebration. To the ego fixated mind, celebrating in the face of suffering, is difficult to conceive. But a rejoicing heart, a celebratory being, a heart filled with love, is the antidote to aggression and to fear. And it starts with each individual, within each individual. So often we are focused externally, looking outward for the cure, the fix, salvation. When we are ego fixated, that's where we look, outside. It is a victim mentality, an impoverished victim orientation. The villain, the evil is seen to be external as is the cure or the answer to that evil. We have discovered the way is within, to look within our own broken hearts to find the wellspring of love, and to celebrate that love as openly and ecstatically as we can. Can you see how questions that come from an external orientation tend to dissolve in the face of a love and joy that comes from within? For example Mark's question, "How can we overcome this natural defensiveness in a way that doesn't cause people to become defensive or feel like their faith needs defending or that they are being challenged?" Such questions dissolve, do they not? They rot on the vine, unanswered, and they just drop to the earth and dissolve. Am I confusing you? Realizing who you are, such questions evaporate - the questions about how to overcome defensiveness, how to interact with people so that they do not become defensive, how to relate to people so they don't feel challenged or don't feel they need to defend their faith. These are questions, which are questions about suffering, that come from mind, from the thinking and feeling of a mind identified self. Let's go of clinging to this mind and the questions dissolve. Address the root cause of suffering and the symptoms dissolve, disappear, dissipate. You may occasionally get caught up with other’s passion about the symptoms, yes? I would nudge you lovingly deeper, to the root cause of the disease. I would nudge you past preoccupation with symptomology to ferret out the more difficult and intractable disease of self-identity. When this deeper causal factor is addressed, the symptoms take care of themselves, they evaporate. But one must be willing to move past belief, belief in the reality of the symptoms, and dig to the deeper layer from which the symptoms arise. Otherwise any medicine that you apply is only addressing surface symptomology. We want to get the medicine applied directly to the root cause. This involves digging into the question, "Who am I?"

Meredith: Ahh... the great question. I love this question. It always draws me into the open. It frees me.

Akilesh: Remember, fear does not imprison. We are not in prison. Our prison walls are illusory. This illusion is a result of an innocent misperception of who we are. This misperception arises from our programming and conditioning. Through this conditioning we cling to a self-identity, and thus live in an illusory prison of our own making. We maintain these illusory prison walls on a moment to moment basis by believing in their substantiality, solidity and permanence; by subscribing to the belief that these walls represent who we are. Without maintaining these walls they crumble. Without giving energy to the illusion, it dissipates. It fades into the background, revealing our original nature which had been covered over by constant thinking and doing, by a preoccupation with the symptoms, by an allegiance to and belief in a self.

Meredith: Thank you so much Akilesh for this potent teaching.

Akilesh: And I thank you, Meredith, for your courage to inquire.

December 2, 2005


Poet Walt Whitman wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Whitman, like Rumi, discarded the pretense. Awakened, Whitman sees the fullness he contains, and recognizes his own godliness, a vastness of multitudes. This knowing happens in a moment, a precious eternal moment in which all things are interconnected, alive, and infinite.

We cannot know this fullness when we hold ourselves to be so small… small of identity, small of character, of personality, and of vision. So often it is easier for us to see the wonder of this largeness outside of ourselves.

"People travel to wonder at the heights of mountains
at the huge waves of the sea
of the long courses of rivers
at the vast compass of the ocean
at the circular motion of the stars
and they pass by themselves without wondering"

~Thomas Aquinas

Lesson to myself: Wonder further. Don’t pass yourself by. Wonder at your own “I am.”

November 30, 2005

The Way the Water Has

Did Rumi know he was Rumi?

99.9% of people, if asked to seriously consider your question would respond with something like, "What are you talking about? The question makes no sense. Did he know he was himself? What kind of question is that?" It might upset or anger or confuse them a bit. But I love your question, and I take your point. This guy was gone. I suspect in his heart of hearts he no longer knew who Rumi was. No doubt people continued to relate to him as a personality, but he realized the personality "Rumi" had shriveled and dried up like a desert fig, lost long ago in the sands of Love. And what was left was so open, so vulnerable and sensitive, so empty it was able to contain the whole universe. Whatever remained on the spot where Rumi once stood was so overflowing with a joy that came from within that he was swept away in a lifelong flood of gratitude. This gratitude was uncontainable and turned his life into a love song. He had so much gold in his chest, he had to share, he had to sing, to celebrate, to rejoice in the presence of the Beloved, the Lover who emerged from his own naked emptiness.

Yes, Rumi was well aware of God pretending to be Rumi. And at some point the pretense fell away. It was no longer necessary and just dropped like a piece of ripe fruit. This pretense, this pretending is indeed killing us, and killing our loved ones and the environment. Pretending to be a self keeps us in a trance. The immediate result of this trance is suffering, the end result is death. Awakening from this trance of self is bliss and eternal life. In this awakening you realize your godliness, your vastness, a wisdom that contains and skillfully makes use of the personality, the intellect, which is a very small thing. But we are wedded to this trance, committed to the idea of and belief in self-identity. When one looks, it appears that our fidelity is to the maintenance of this illusion of a permanent and continuing self. It's what is emphasized and supported in conventional reality from birth to death.

Rumi suggests to the man sincerely interested in awakening be sure of two things: "One, that he's mistaken in what he's doing or thinking now. And two, that there is a wisdom he doesn't know yet." But this is hard for a man wedded to self-identity, clinging so desperately to that which is familiar and predictable. It is hard for a man conditioned and programmed from birth, to divest himself, dehypnotize himself from the trance of self-identity. It is hard for a man to give up pretending. It costs you everything, all your beliefs, all those principles that guide moral and ethical behavior, everything you identify with, everything you take as real, everything you think is good and right and true, everything you use to create the pseudo-security of the cocoon. Emptiness asks for nothing, but to get to this nothing you have to let go of something. You have to recognize that you're holding on to something in the first place. To empty out, to shed, to wake up into nakedness you have to allow for the fact that you are mistaken in what you're doing or thinking now, and that there is a wisdom you don't know yet. This is something most people are unwilling to do. Instead they tend to do the opposite: auger in and try to acquire more knowledge, more experience, more things and relationships, external evidence of success, in an effort to protect, defend and bolster the ego, the fragile self-esteem. Who wants to acknowledge that all the effort and striving, the acquisition, the justified and rationalized aggression has been "mistaken," and that there is a wisdom they have no concept of? Who wants to acknowledge that all of our efforts in this ego fixated enterprise through time and space results only in the finality of death? No, we resist considering ourselves mistaken or that there is a wisdom beyond our rational intellect. We tend to respond to such suggestions -- which are actually forms of deep love -- with fear or contempt. To this contempt Rumi might say, "Don't scold the Lover. The 'wrong' way he talks is better than a hundred 'right' ways of others... The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine. Only God."

Deep, deep down in our psychology there is a need to control. This need is tied to survival, and it is not given up easily. Rarely is it even accessible to conscious awareness, this desperate need to control ourselves, others and our environment. If you are sincere in your interest in awakening, you will eventually encounter this tight fist of control deep in the psyche. Here's Rumi on the subject: "A man or a woman is said to be absorbed when the water has total control of him, and he no control of the water. A swimmer moves around willfully. An absorbed being has no will but the water's going. Any word or act is not really personal, but the way the water has of speaking or doing."

This is beautiful and releases us from the neurotic compulsion to constantly check ourselves, to see whether we're on the side of the true, right and good. We've opened our hand, released the fist of control, and to our delight we realize self-existing wisdom knows how to brush its teeth, knows how to love and nurture others, knows how to conduct itself with dignity and decency, with gentleness and warmth, with generosity and genuineness. Absorbed in the waters of love, where the water has total control, the checkbook still gets balanced, the dishes get washed, the laundry done; rewarding and fulfilling careers happen, meaningful relationships unfold, children get raised -- all by "an absorbed being." This is no resistance -- "no will but the water's going." This is responsiveness, responsibility, the ability to respond to what is; this is the wisdom which perceives what is wanted and needed moment to moment; this is getting out of one's way. This is love. This is freedom. "An absorbed being has no will but the water's going."

November 29, 2005

Larry’s Lament

Recently Twyla echoed Larry's lament, "Where is this generation's Rumi?"

Where within us is this moment's Rumi? Where is the creative wellspring that Rumi dipped into? Where is that spirit bubbling up now? Surely it is not confined to some man or woman born a safe one or two thousand years ago? Those men and women are gone. They are of the past and longer exist. You are alive and carry the living fire. Look within to find the source of ecstasy that moved Rumi. It is here whole and complete, with nothing missing, patiently waiting for you to step out of your own way. Let go into it, allow it to emerge, and in the sacred act of psychological self-immolation burn for the Lover. Let go of preoccupation with the past. Move from searching for Rumi to burning yourself in the fire that consumes him. Many of our questions assume an external focus, an outward looking, salvific orientation. Where is this generation's Rumi if not in your searingly open heart, in the naked awareness that is taking in these letters on the screen before you now?

What if you stumbled upon this generation's Rumi? Would you recognize him? Or Jesus, would you recognize him? Would you recognize the man whose life Erik Reese described as "a combination of walking, eating with followers and social outcasts, preaching, fishing a little, telling stories that no one seemed to understand, and offering largely unsolicited diatribes against the powers that be. That is to say, the life of Jesus -- if unconventional -- was nevertheless ordinary enough. Thousands of homeless men and women do pretty much the same thing every day in this country." Would you recognize Kabir? Or do you prefer he and his poetry safely quarantined in a book?

When Being meets Itself in your naked heart you begin singing love songs to anyone who will listen, or to the wind, the sky and the stars. Then the search for Rumi will be over and you will be the One enthralling us with love's authentic fire. You realize with an intuitive certainty that this fire burns deeply, obscurely within you now. Otherwise how could you recognize the vibration of a Rumi or a Kabir, a Lao Tzu, Mirabai, Heraclitus, Basho, Blake, Yeats or Rilke, a Krishnamurti, Osho, Jesus, or Siddhartha, or a Meredith or Tommy for that matter? If we did not have that divinity, whole and complete within us, we would not recognize... there would be no resonance. Instead Rumi's creative expressions deeply resonate within us, like chords of deep music that move us to a place beyond our willful control. That resonance, those strings singing, reverberating in our Being, is the very wellspring he drank from. Drunk on this nectar, always and everywhere present, he showered love like an overfull rain cloud falling on a desert; he burned like Jesus, giving himself up as fuel for the holy fire, for illumination and warmth, and when the fuel was exhausted, he burned the ash and threw the dust into the open sky.

Would we want to commune with a living, flesh and blood Rumi? A Rumi freed from his hardback cage at or his low security incarceration on our coffee table? Perhaps, coming across a latter-day Rumi we might experience uneasiness, a fear or insecurity in the face of the man's too-full intimacy. We may feel uncomfortable, perhaps out-of-control; his vibrant presence challenging our beliefs and unquestioned assumptions. Just his presence may upset the applecart of our spiritual complacency. The genuine energy of transformation would certainly invite us to come out of the familiar, stuffy confines of our psychological cocoons, into a world of color and movement, of fresh air and light, of vitality and spontaneity, the world of a butterfly on the wing.

How would the modern mind receive a Jesus, Rumi, Buddha, Mirabai today -- a living invitation to contemporary, subversive communion? How might we receive an invitation to drown in the stream of divine intimacy, in a love flood swallowing the foundations of our self-identification, in a sacred tide beyond our will and control, undermining the exclusive dominion of ego fixation? Contemporary mind tends to respond with avoidance or aggression to that which shakes the foundation of identity, psychological survival and social-security. That's the tendency isn't it: fear or contempt of the unknown, repression of that which lies in shadow?

Where is this generation's Rumi? The modern-day Rumi may be well aware of the consequence of rising to the questions of his whereabouts, but he rises nonetheless. Overburdended with love, what can he do? He needs to share, and giving his most precious treasure he is grateful to us for receiving, for listening to his song, for allowing him to unburden his overflowing heart. While we may lack the vision to see his spirit, our Rumi's overcome enmity and contempt and sing for us on a daily basis. They die to themselves and rise again as the burning flame beside us everyday, loving and encouraging and nurturing us with the warmth of the Phoenix' fire.

Clearing your eyes of the trance of self with its want and fear, you will see Rumi - in the eyes of a child or a checker at the supermarket, in the animals and the trees, in music, poetry and dance, in the sun, the stars and the rain. But more important, you will see Rumi and the rest of your spiritual ancestors inside you. The whole courageous lineage is there burning. Seeing this flame you will begin burning from within and your light and warmth will carry to others. You may be dismissed as just an ordinary Tommy, or a common Meredith, but something will resonate in your friends and lovers, something deep, obscure, discomforting and enthralling, disillusioning and exhilarating. Questions may arise, "Where is this generation's Rumi? Where is the authentic song of Freedom? Where is God genuinely manifesting in modern life?” To your delight you realize the words are emerging from the lips of God, pretending to be Larry.

November 28, 2005

Fresh Divinity

I was reading a Lance Esplund review of a new biography of Henri Matisse by Hillary Spurling. The painter is quoted in the review: "The artist or the poet possesses an interior light which transforms objects to make a new world of them...a living world which is in itself an infallible sign of divinity, a reflection of divinity." Esplund notes a conversation between the artist and Sister Jacques-Marie, a former Matisse model who later became a nun: "When Sister Jacques protested that she had understood Matisse to be directly inspired by God Almighty, he said gently, 'yes, but that god is me.'"

So often God Almighty exists as an externally projected mental construct. Matisse seems to take this God Almighty, as a superfluous third-party gently out of the equation. I suspect that while painting Matisse dissolved the whole equation. Not only was God Almighty in absentia even Matisse was not there, and only the sacred, naked act of painting was happening.

Exactly the same divinity which Matisse expresses in his painting, you have inside you in full measure. In what ways are you expressing your divinity, which can shine in the humblest of creative acts? In the creative act, both you and all projected God Almightys dissolve. Only the mystery, the fresh, self existing act of creation is present. We spend our whole life trying to control our world, including our creative expressions. After the study and discipline, the creative act can be released and allowed to remain out of our personal control. At some point we drop the compulsion to control, and allow...

November 22, 2005

Original Nose: An Open Letter to Tommy

Dear Tommy,

In December of 2004 you wrote:

Isaiah isn't my real name. It's Tommy. I was born a Thomas the III, childhood friends called me Top cat, my old band-mates called me TC, I'm known as "dad" to my son, my associates call me Tom and my wife sometimes calls me every name in the book. When I first thought about designing my presence here on the web I knew I didn't want to use my real name because I wanted to free this "Tommy" to do some writing outside of himself. Not that it really matters to anyone but me- but, I caught a breath of freshness taking on the new identity of "isaiah."

Sometimes I think we become confined by our name and identity. The sound of our name, the letters that spell it out, and the years of baggage we have accumulated can act as a holding cell. We become so accustomed to our character that the world becomes old and stale.

The opposite of this can be true as well. The sound of our name from our lover's lips can make us light as air and take us to the edge of ecstasy and over. There's a sweetness that echoes through the house when I hear my son call out, "Hey dad." We create soothing works of music, art, poetry or craft a fine piece of wood- work which we are then compelled to autograph and hold forever as our very own.

So which is the case? Do names confine us or free us? Do we choose to hold on to old notions about our character and limit the roles we can play or can we find the courage to break free from the ego we have created in order to discover new and exciting- limitless possibilities?

One of my favorite quotes is from the great writer Susan Sontag who died yesterday. It helps me to see beyond myself into the realm of the Divine:
"The only interesting answers are the ones that destroy the question."

What is really in a name anyway?

You ask good questions. To me the interesting questions are the ones that destroy the answers; questions that leave one speechless, questions that the mind cannot get itself around and has it fall silent, questions that short-circuit the logical, linear sequential dominion of rational thought, questions that lead to a silent openness, questions that by their very nature deconstruct our desperate, exclusive allegiance to a mind identified self. The questions that arise from an interest and curiosity in waking up fuel worthwhile discovery and realization. Without that impulse to awakening there would be no path and no fruition. Without the questions and inquiry that lead us into silence, there would be no enlightening at all. Thank you for your courage to inquire.

What is really in a name anyway?

We name things and we think we know them. With names we give things an identity. With names we identify self and other. This is a natural function of our minds and there is nothing wrong in it. However there is an innocent misperception which results in the identity -- that which can be named and is a small thing, a functional and utilitarian servant -- playing the role of king. When things are in their proper places, everything takes care of itself and the whole world is uplifted. Our humanness is infinitely enriched by Being. But our Being is usually eclipsed and occluded by our sleeping preoccupation with our humanity, our identification exclusively with the personality -- our character jacket.

Earlier this year Jon at The Wild Things of God asked about getting to know me better. I wrote the following:

We could get to know one another, the history, the details of our sweet/sad enterprise through time and space. The joys and the heartbreak... On the other hand, there is a larger risk available. Although I do not know you at all, there is an unspeakable intimacy we already share, a divine space weaving us together in a miraculous way. Poets reach for that space, that love light, and fail like we all do. The chasm is too great, the gulf too wide, yet we leap anyway. And in the basic trust of this sacred act, the chasm is crossed, the gulf evaporates and we are pulled through the gate, as John Tarrant says, without the use of our own hands. Existence, graceful presence, does it for us. What is impossible to the mind, may happen through an open, trusting heart. It is a wonderful mystery, like you are my friend. Even if we "got to know one another," what would we really come to know? What do we know of our loved ones, family and friends? Do we really know them? We may think we know who someone is, but that knowing is very limited. Even someone we have lived with for years, do we really know them? Do we know our husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, best friends? How could you know another? They are a fathomless mystery. How can we know vastness, wholeness, being? Do we know who we are? Plumb your own depth within and you will find eternity, an infinite space that goes on and on. You are a vastness that can never be known. If I had your profile down to the minute details, I would not have scratched the surface of who/what you are. But I can look within and know your heart, because we share the same throbbing heart. And although I do not know you, I am in love with this vastness that both you and I share beyond our personalities.

I will never know my friend Meredith. She remains a beautiful mystery to me, so alive, so fresh. She is much more than her personality, psychology, accomplishments, relationships, and the things she owns, so much more than her ego identity. These are small things that we attach such significance to. In a few short days all these things we cling to so desperately will be gone. Everything will be taken from us, our body, thoughts, emotions, our relationships with family and friends, our home and possessions, even the sun and moon and stars - all gone. They are temporary and provisional, impermanent. Even now they slip from our grasp.

The mind wants to figure out, understand and know. Wholeness is bigger than that. It will not be confined to the knowable. The mind divides, knowing divides. The whole can not be divided. It is whole, containing both the knowable and unknowable. And the knowable is so small, the unknowable is vast, endless.

Being is a vast mystery. It takes a leap, from the margin of knowing into the unknowable abyss.

Tommy, you invited me to share my journey, all that makes me Akilesh. The question goes to who or what I am. And it is a good question, a question I do not take lightly. It is a rare and precious question when asked with sincerity. It is the kind of question that can break up the frozen ice of living one's life inside the small box of ego consciousness. It is the kind of question that calls into question cherished beliefs and assumptions, hopes and dreams. If pursued it can disrupt the foundational aspects of one's identity, something that goes largely unquestioned in our culture and even in our spiritual seeking. Rather than deeply inquiring into the question, who am I, and coming to terms with the suffering and broken heartedness that is an inevitable part of such inquiry, all too often the spiritual search is more about escaping from such destabilizing questions; escaping from suffering and a broken heart, finding a shortcut from misery and dissatisfaction. Too often the spiritual search is about finding a once-and-for-all enlightenment, a static state of happiness and peace. States of peace and happiness exist but, just like everything else, they are impermanent, they do not last. And we find ourselves back "here" again facing what is.

The journey of enlightening, the quest to realize who you are, while as close as your breath, is not so simple. Through the process of social conditioning and programming we come to make an innocent mistake, a misidentification. And with this mistake our authentic presence recedes into the background of our consciousness and our small self, the ego, the little me, the psychological personality, takes up residence in the foreground, as the sovereign, as king of the world. After this innocent mistake everything becomes self referential -- "my" self, "my" family, "my" house, "my" body, "my" mind and emotions, "my" world. My, me. This is ego consciousness, fixation upon self-identity, what Tolle calls the mind identified self.

Many sages of the past have likened living in ego consciousness as living in a dream. They have often used the metaphor of waking up from the dream of a separate self. When we are asleep in this dream, entranced, hypnotized by our conditioning, our entire enterprise through time and space is informed and animated by the limited context of ego consciousness. It is sad that most of us live out our lives and die in this box, without ever having made the journey, set out on the quest to realize our true nature.

When we believe wholly in the dream and move always within the confines of the dream, from the limited context of ego fixation, all of our relating to the other, whether to people or things, occurs inside of ego consciousness. In this way the relating is limited to separate entities relating to one another out of separateness. In other words when we connect with others we most often connect on the level of ego consciousness. While this is not bad, it is limited. There is no possibility of true connection, of communion when relating occurs between separate entities. The innocent mistake and the living of one's life out of ego consciousness excludes the possibility of communion. In the absence of communion, relationship that is based on ego consciousness, based on the interaction between mind identified selves is often marked by conflict and dissatisfaction of some sort.

In the context of ego consciousness when we reach out to another, we are reaching out in a dream, from one separate self to another separate self, and trying to connect with them, trying to find a communion with them. What we find is limited and often unsatisfying. Yet when that’s all we are aware of, it is what forms the basis of our relating: we are more interested in the superficial aspects of the individual, their personality, their history, their character, the self. This is what we want to know about, and what we connect with as separate selves. This is what is important and emphasized in most human interactions. Spiritual rhetoric notwithstanding, this is what we seek when we want to get to know someone better. It is our conditioned default mode. It is unquestioned, and to question it has one be considered a little crazy.

Meredith writes on the how the personal and personality has its place, and enriches our experience of Being. She reminds me that the enlightenment quest is not the only purpose in life. Life is bigger than that. Obviously life is curious about the play of energy as it manifests in artistic and creative expression, in painting, sculpture, dance, music, poetry and creative writing; in richly textured emotional experiences, in adventure and travel, in physical expression, sports and athletic challenges, in sexual play, in the exploration of knowledge and intellectual growth, in science, medicine and healing, in the rich experiences related to kinship and friendship, in parenting and child-rearing, in a rewarding livelihood, in humor, and in so many other diverse ways. Just one example among an infinite number, listen to Apertura by Gustavo Santaolalla from Motorcycle Diaries. This creative effort came from a personality, an ego. The contact lenses I wear were designed and made by human ego.

Jon at The Wild Things of God posted a quote from Eckhart Tolle's most recent book, A New Earth:

You are a human being. What does that mean? Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being. Mother, father, husband, wife, young, old, the roles you play, the functions you fulfill, whatever you do-all that belongs to the human dimension. It has its place and needs to be honored, but in itself it is not enough for a fulfilled, truly meaningful relationship or life. Human alone is never enough, no matter how hard you try or what you achieve. Then there is Being. It is found in the still, alert presence of Consciousness itself, the Consciousness that you are. Human is form. Being is formless. Human and Being are not separate but interwoven.

Both the human and the Being are important. But we've got things backwards. We have the real king and queen dressed in paupers clothing sitting in the back row, smiling with infinite patience. And we have Ego the Pretender-Who-Thinks-He’s-Not-Pretending on the throne, front and center in our consciousness. Our Being is often relegated to spiritual parlor conversation while our day to day, moment to moment fidelity remains with the false face of our character jacket, the image and belief structure of ego consciousness, with the security and familiarity of our conditioned identity. We are devoted to the world of personality and to the stories that give us a security blanket: an identity and a sense of belonging in this world. With this nearly exclusive emphasis we live the life of a somnambulist, we are misshapen, entranced lifelong, and we go to the grave missing the richness and depth available in awakening within this precious human life.

Realizing our innocent mistake, waking up from the trance of a separate self places our vastness, our godliness on the throne and relegates our personality and rationality to the appropriate role of servant. And once we have experienced this waking up we keep a fidelity to this Freedom moment to moment, forever. We give it our moment to moment appreciation, as the true sovereign of our world, as the universal monarch -- what some have called the Self or God. From the human side our awakening seems to require this ongoing fidelity if it is not to default back into the conditioned dream of ego fixation.

The imprint of ego fixation runs very deep in the human being. Tied to survival and security and replication, it is a very, very powerful, seductive and subtle illusion. It is multilayered and in my experience always remains by the side, as a default, a conceptual context or pseudo-sanctuary ready to receive the frightened identity back into the familiar confines of the cocoon, of conditioned existence, of consensus reality. The depth, power and reach of our conditioning and programing deserves respect. It is a pervasive and socially sanctioned trance that we have going on to some degree all the time while we are in a physical body. Overcoming the ego is not killing it or having it disappear, but freeing yourself from your fixation upon it, your identification with it, and having it take its rightful place as servant instead of master.

Who is Akilesh? The short answer: I don't know. The name is Hindi for King of the World or King of All. I was given this name many years ago by my teacher, (who would certainly have something to say about me referring to him as a teacher). Miserable, lost and confused in the spiritual supermarket at the time, the name was like a radioactive particle embedded in my chest -- there was going to be a reaction of some sort, and in my case it was a meltdown. King of the World! How was I to discern the meaning of this koan? How was the personality to contextualize this? How was little me going to get his head around this? How to contain it? "What is really in a name anyway?" Working on this koan over time precipitated an alchemical melting down of my identity.

There is an old saying, "To go down is to go up." Before illumination there seems to be the need for descent. It seems we do everything we can to avoid this descent. Recently Meredith wrote to me on the subject of fear, how it arises from a "lack of feeling loved - a deep, and fundamental perception of unworthiness, of feeling bereft of love."

My journey begins with fear, it begins in darkness.

I will speak from a felt sense, out of an intuitive, dark space, as opposed to a clear, rational, linear-sequential, well-lit and thoughtful place. The former is more trustworthy than the latter. I start with shadow. I came out of shadow into light. For most of my life I walked backward, facing a long shadow. I have turned around and now face the rising sun, but I often look behind to pay respect to the shadow and remember where I came from. This is useful when journeying in any wilderness.

Like you, I was born nameless, faceless, open, at large. With the necessary socialization of my culture, my conditioning and programing, I took on a self-identity and wedded myself to it to survive and succeed in conventional life. In childhood and adolescence I always felt something to be missing in this life. My role models - parents, clergy, civic leaders, teachers, professors, elders all seemed to be out of touch with what my heart told me was authentic. They seemed to be in some kind of trance which I was gradually being indoctrinated into. Many of my most powerful role models seemed to subscribe to a selfish, aggressive approach to life, however subtle or sophisticated. They seemed childish with grown up bodies, striving for security, preoccupied with survival no matter how wealthy, intelligent or advanced in years. They were concerned with acquisition and security, collecting material goods, relationships and experiences, constantly trying to control the conditions and circumstances of their lives. And in my young opinion they confirmed that the depth and range of a "normal" human life was overall animated and informed by "quiet desperation." When I looked in them I saw fear and insecurity deep down, no matter how together or powerful they appeared on the surface. When I looked inside myself I saw the same thing, felt the same fear and insecurity. So I investigated, inquired into this fear, could not leave it alone, and it lead me deeper into darkness, into sadness and suffering. I do not know why I continued to look into this, perhaps the fathomless depth of the abyss was seductive. It had a gravity like pull that attracted me, like the curiosity that pulls you to the edge of a precipice, so you can look down. I wanted to look down into that darkness. I wanted to swan dive into that dark vastness of fear and sadness, to immerse myself in it, that I might learn the secret of it’s dark energy and understand it.

In August 1994 Harper's magazine published excerpts of an interview of Ken Kesey by Robert Faggan in the spring issue of The Paris Review. In that interview Kesey was asked by Faggan what he wanted to explore when he set out on the bus with a band of "merry pranksters" in 1964.

Kesey: What I explore in all my work: wilderness. Settlers on this continent from the beginning have been seeking wilderness and its wildness. The explorers and pioneers sought that wildness because they could sense that in Europe everything had become locked tight. Things were all owned by the same people, and all of the roads went in the same direction forever. When we got here there was a sense of possibility and new direction, and it had to do with wildness. Throughout the work of James Fenimore Cooper there is what I call the American terror. It's very important to our literature, and it's important to who we are: the terror of the Hurons out there, the terror of the bear, the avalanche, the tornado -- whatever may be over the next horizon.

As we came to the end of the continent we manufactured our terror. We put together the bomb. Now we don't even have the bomb hanging over our heads to terrify us and give us reason to dress up in manly deerskin and go forth to battle it. There's something we’re afraid of, but it doesn't have the clarity of the terror of the Hurons or the hydrogen bomb during the Cold War. Now it's fuzzy, and it's fuzzy because the people who are in control don't want you to draw a bead on the real danger, the real terror in this country.

Faggan: What is the "real terror" in America?
Kesey: When people ask me about LSD, I always make a point of telling them you can have the shit scared out of you with LSD because it exposes something, something hollow. Let's say you have been getting on your knees and bowing and worshiping; suddenly you take LSD, and you look, and there's just a hole, there's nothing there. The Catholic Church fills this hole with candles and flowers and litanies and opulence. The Protestant Church fills it with handwringing and pumped up squeezing emotions because they can't afford the flowers and candles. The Jews fill this hole with weeping and browbeating and beseeching of the sky: "How long, how long are you gonna treat us like this?" The Muslims fill it with rigidity and guns and a militant ethos. But all of us know that that's not what is supposed to be in that hole.

After I had been at Stanford for two years, I got into LSD. I began to see that the books I thought were the true accounting books -- my grades, how I'd done in other schools, how I'd performed at jobs, whether I had paid off my car or not -- were not at all the true books. There were other books that were being kept, real books. In those books is the real accounting of your life. And the mind says, "Oh, this is titillating." So you want to take some more LSD and see what else is there. And soon I had the experience that everyone who's ever dabbled in psychedelics has. A big hand grabs you by the back of the neck, and you hear a voice saying, "You want to see the books? Okay, here are the books." And it pushes your face right down into all of your cruelties and all of your meanness, all of the times that you have been insensitive, intolerant, racist, sexist. It's all there, and you read it. You can't take your nose up off the books. You hate them. You hate who you are. You hate the fact that somebody has been keeping track, just as you feared. You hate it, but you can't move your arms for eight hours. Before you take any acid again you start trying to juggle the books. You start trying to be a little better person. Then you get the surprise. The next thing that happens is that you're leaning over looking at the books, and you feel the lack of the hand at the back of your neck. The thing that was forcing you to look at the books is no longer there. There's only a big hollow, the great American wild hollow, which is scarier than hell, scarier than purgatory or Satan. It's the fact that there isn't any hell and there isn't any purgatory, there isn't any Satan. And all you've got is Sartre sitting there with his mama -- harsh, bleak, worse than guilt. And if you've got courage, you go ahead and examine that hollow.

Faggan: And that hollow is, for you, the new wilderness?
Kesey: That's the new wilderness. It's the same old wilderness, just no longer up on that hill or around that bend, or in that gully. It's because there are no more hills and gully's that the hollow is there, and you've got to explore the hollow with faith. If you don't have faith that there is something down there, pretty soon when you're in the hollow, you begin to get scared and start shaking. That's when you stop taking acid and start taking coke and drinking booze and start trying to fill the hollow with depressants and Valium. Real warriors like William Burroughs or Leonard Cohen or Wallace Stevens examine the hollow as well as anybody; they get in there, look far into the dark, and yet come out with poetry.

One could replace the reference to LSD in the foregoing with spiritual inquiry, which for me precipitated the appearance of the hollow, the black hole, the horror. But courage was not my strong suit and I tried my best to run away, tried to escape it in every way I could think of. I tried to fill the hole with distractions and entertainments of all kinds (and in fear I conceived of and acted out many escape fantasies, some of which deeply hurt my loved ones, some of which turned into conventionally noteworthy accomplishments). It had become a matter of avoidance, desperately avoiding the darkness, the fear and sadness. But now it followed me - like a shadow. Again and again I circled back to the unresolved dark matter in the heart. And how I resisted and denied what was plainly in evidence.

I used to climb alpine peaks (one of my escapes) and often we had one or two camps set up on the approach to a summit. From the highest camp on the mountain we would get up at 2:00 a.m. for the best climbing conditions for the final push to the summit. It takes exertion and a certain fierceness to persevere in the challenging conditions of an alpine environment to overcome the forces opposing you and "bag" the peak. I used the same qualities to negotiate the day to day world of work. I brought these qualities to the pursuit of enlightenment.

I hurt, I was suffering, I had a dissatisfaction that nothing would appease, and here were sages on the shelves of Barnes and Noble telling of a possible way out. I had particular interest in anything that appeared to have shortcuts. I was all for taking the shortest route out of my pain. So I read and studied and applied myself with the vigor of a high alpine climber in my pursuit of authenticity, to bag the peak of enlightenment. But such a peak cannot be taken by force, authentic presence cannot be stormed like a citadel. A Rocky Balboa cannot box his way into heaven. But what did I know, I just tried to apply what I’d learned in my conditioned life to the unconditioned, and failed miserably again and again. And I mean miserably, wretchedly, pathetically, with all the superlative, narcissistic hyperbole that attends an ego fixation as big as a freight train. I hurt myself, I hurt others, especially those closest to me. The harder I pushed for the light of the summit, the darker the night; the faster I climbed, the longer the route that stretched out before me. The higher I climbed to heaven, the lower I fell into hell. I was lost.

What was going on? I did not know, but gradually I began to see how my suffering was linked to my resistance; how my need for control, my pushing and pulling, was tied to suffering; and how letting go, accepting what is, brought openings. The rub was: accepting what is was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt deeply impoverished and was doing everything I could to fight depression and despair. ("Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.") I resisted the gaping maw of the abyss, this expanding black hole opening up within me, pulling me down and sucking the strength out of me with it’s dark gravity.

Nothing worked, every conceivable option failed, until I just gave up. I just sat down in a darkness that appeared to go on forever, and for all I knew it would go on forever. I just sat down and gave up trying, trying to get something or push anything away. I gave up striving. This didn’t come as a glorious insight, rather it was out of shameful exhaustion. I had exhausted all angles, all shortcuts, everything my mind could think of to solve the koan of my suffering, and failed. The mind road was a dead end, and in my case the dead end was a very dark place, and felt like what I imagined death to feel like. I had applied all the thinking and doing I could muster and all I had left was this vast darkness, as if I were immersed in an endless dark dream: "there's just a hole, there's nothing there... There's only a big hollow... which is scarier than hell, scarier than purgatory or Satan. It's the fact that there isn't any hell and there isn't any purgatory, there isn't any Satan."

I took comfort from others who seemed to have gone into the dark and come out with beauty. For example in After the Fall, by Arthur Miller, where the character Helga shares the following:

Quentin, I think it is a mistake to ever look for hope outside one's self. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cut his finger off, within a week you’re climbing over the corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes, until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to it's broken face, and it was horrible... but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one's life in one's arms, Quentin.

Or from the poem, The Man Watching by Rilke.

I can tell by the way the trees beat,
After so many dull days
on my worried window panes
that a storm is coming,
And I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
And the world looks as if it had no age;
The landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
Is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny,
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
We would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it with small things,
And the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament;
When the wrestlers' sinews
grew long like metal strings,
He felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this angel
(who often simply declined to fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
That kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
By constantly greater things.

Or this poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

But off apart there, who is that?
His path gets lost in the brush;
Behind him close
The branches together,
The grass stand straight up again,
The solitude swallows him up.

Ah, who can heal the pain
Of one whose balsam became poison?
Who has drunk misanthropy
From the fullness of love?
First despised, now despising,
He secretly wastes
His own worth
In unsatisfying selfishness.

If there is in you Psalter,*
Father of Love, a single tone
Perceptible to his ear,
Then revive his heart!
Open his cloud covered sight
To the thousand fountains
Beside the thirsting soul
In the desert.

*Book of Psalms

I start with shadow because I feel there is a strong tendency to circumvent this aspect of spiritual awakening. Without coming to terms with one’s shadow energies, including and expressed in the various psychological wounds of the personality, a seeker is almost always trying to find a short cut or escape hatch from suffering, and in the process denying what is. A deep, genuine acceptance of what is, including the courage to include the shadow energies, seems to be a good starting point on the path. Without this the seeker is usually projecting a path of enlightenment on top of and in reaction to the shadow and deep woundedness. Beside all the various psychological and physical wounds we carry from growing up and individuating, there is the deep wound of separation from our true nature to begin with.

The Jungians say the shadow will have its day. Unless one comes to terms with and make a place for these energies, which are nearly always repressed in the unconscious, they will eventually erupt and assert themselves with a vengeance. We stuff away many unacceptable, unresolved issues in what Robert Bly calls that long bag we drag behind us through life. We have put all our rejected darkness in an opaque jar and screwed the lid down. When we begin to wake up, it is like removing the lid of repression, and like Adyashanti observes: all this material wants to move into the light of illumination, our stuff comes rushing out into the light of conscious awareness. This can be shocking and destabilizing psychologically.

This eruption of repressed and denied shadow energy and subsequent fall from grace can be excruciatingly difficult for those who are apparently highly evolved and spiritually adept. Even for one who has had a profound and persistent enlightenment experience, if there is repression of dark matter in that individual’s human personality, that stuff is going to manifest at some point. We have all heard the stories...

It has been said we live in a world marked by perfection and purity. But without genuine realization of this in one’s Being, there is the tendency of the mind to jump over or short cut around pain and project perfection in the form of an enlightenment story. When disillusionment occurs the collapse may unconceal the presence of a mental construct, a denial of what is and a projection of freedom through the use of belief and stories of liberation we repeat to ourselves. The projection of perfection is built over the top of an image of a hostile and aggressive world, and is often extended to someone who we can adore or revere, someone who may or may not actually be adorable. It is believed, perhaps through the power of positive thinking or affirmation, that we can transform what is into what we want or think it should be like. This may work for a while, but doesn’t work in the long run.

Projection of perfection upon a teacher makes him or her the source of our salvation and redemption. In this way we try to avoid responsibility for having to face our suffering, and for our own awakening. But with this unholy alliance we give away our freedom and power. There are many, many teachers who accept this Faustian deal with seekers. The teacher plays his or her part, and may very well have unresolved shadow energies operating in the background of the student/teacher relationship. You can see this playing out frequently: the desperation of seekers trying to short cut their suffering matching up with the need of teachers to have students loving them, projecting warmth and wisdom upon them, depending upon them. It’s a wild, unregulated party going on out there on the spiritual frontier.

Having examined some of the potential mischief in setting out on the spiritual quest, there is nonetheless tremendous wisdom and warmth in this world which genuinely encourages and nurtures the spiritual quest. In my experience it is worth the risk to inquire into this "basic goodness" which manifests in many ways and is available to us if we open ourselves to it. The basic goodness of the world manifests in ordinary magic, synchronicity and meaningful coincidence. We can use these energies to help us cultivate and deepen our love of and fidelity to what is.

The following is an example of ordinary magic present in the world, and which I found helpful on my journey. Here is Wolf Moon speaking from the native American tradition in a poetic and lyrical way on the Crow power totem:

Night descends upon the ancient forest as a silky shawl of midnight blue, settling over all that she encounters upon her journey, she leaves everything she touches changed in the shimmering veil of her silver light. Perched atop the hard surface of granite boulders that dot the mountainside, Crow stands, head cocked to the side, affording him a gaze of the moon, as she rides the pathway of the autumn sky. From the beginning of the time when Great Spirit transformed Crow from the form of a two-legged to the shape he now wears, Crow has dwelled simultaneously in Two Worlds, one of the earth and the other of the sky. He is the Watcher that has observed we of the two-legged as we walk along the Red Road of Physical Life. He stands ever vigilant, at the Gateway between shadow and light, watching for the Soul that is beginning to Unfold, and then with a beckoning call, black wings touch our face, and we journey with him, flying from the night of denial, and awakening with acknowledgments Day.

I doubt that Wolf Moon has had formal training in Jungian psychology but you can feel the same tenor of consolation in both traditions with respect of the inclusion of the shadow, the dark matter in this world view. Listen to the wisdom of Jung echoing in words from the Native American tradition, again Wolf Moon:

Part of the process is uncovering the Shadows Within that all possess along this Earth Walk. There are areas of our Self that represent our greatest lessons and opportunities for growth, yet can remain elusive to our grasp and understanding. However once these ‘shadows’ have been fully understood and integrated, then the journey upward to the light of the Higher Self can be easily attained and serve as inspiration for Others. To achieve this demands that one go Within and illuminate all of the corners of the subconscious where shadows still linger. To open the door to the corridors of pain where the past still haunts the soul, and shed the Light of awareness so that true Healing may occur... (Crow souls) exist simultaneously within two worlds, that of the Spirit and that of the Flesh..."

Here is the simultaneous Being in two worlds, the One in the many, form is empty, emptiness is form. To deny either is to deny the Totality.

Twenty years after receiving the koan Akilesh, the meaning I continued to ascribe to my darkness was one of fear. But was the darkness actually the source of my fear? Without attaching any meaning to it, was it causal with respect to my fear? Regardless, it was the most "real" presence within me so I (kicking and screaming) made a place for it. I gradually began exploring my dark surroundings, bringing some acceptance to this infinite space, this "big hollow," this void. I recalled various teachings I had heard in the past, the most prominent being my teacher’s words, something to the effect of, "I have nothing to give you. I have only something to take from you, an illusion." But I was very, very attached to this illusion, and the strength of my attachment required strong medicine. I was deeply asleep in the trance of self-identification. I received what in hindsight was a powerful catalyst: I was given the name Akilesh, King of the World. It's no stretch at all to see the cosmic humor in this name - "What is really in a name anyway?" - and I've often laughed out loud at this joke, at it's dynamic range: from megalomania to nobodiness.

In his book Doing Nothing, Steven Harrison writes:

The little boy was drawing when his mother noticed and asked, "What are you drawing, Jimmy?"
The little boy without looking up, answered, "A picture of God."
"But Jimmy," his mother replied, "Nobody knows what God looks like."
"They will once I'm finished."

Who can draw God? Only one who realizes God’s face. With this realization they look out of the eyes of God, they radiate God’s Original Face to others. Jimmy is a young King of the World. In the child there is a natural lightness and radiance, a based-on-nothing confidence in the recognition of Divinity.

Yesterday the December 2005 issue of Harper's magazine arrived in the mail. The issue has an article by Eric Reece entitled Jesus Without the Miracles. In the article Reece writes on Thomas Jefferson's Bible and the Gospel of Thomas. The following is an excerpt:

The Jesus of Thomas's gospel is simply trying to give us back something we already possess. Here is a crucial passage:

Jesus said, "Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in an image of the fathers light. He will be disclosed, but his image is hidden by the light."
Jesus said, "When you see your likeness, you are happy. But when you see your images that come into being before you and that neither die nor become visible, how much will you bear!"

There is an empirical way of knowing, and there is an intuitive way of understanding. The "father's light" exists within everyone and "will be disclosed," but we cannot know it intellectually -- we cannot give it an image. Likewise, we comprise two selves -- the one we see in the mirror, and the face we had before we were born. This last paradoxical image exists in nearly all mystical literature -- Zen koans, the Kabbalah, the Upanishad's -- and here, in the Gospel of Thomas. To "see" this imageless image, to know this original self, is to arrive at a nexus where the light within illuminates the world without, and finally shows it for what it truly is -- the kingdom of God. For that reason, the kingdom must exist simultaneously within and without. When Jesus' followers ask him to show them "where you are, for we must seek it," Jesus replies, "There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world."

Tommy, you gave me a gift in the form of an invitation, "Show me where you are. Tell me who you are. Would you share your journey, all that makes you who you are?" I want to return a gift to you: "Show me where you are. Tell me who you are." To exchange these gifts is to share "...light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world."

There is a human personality here, with his-story, with hopes and fears, dreams, successes and failures. There is the whole psychology, and the physical form, birth, maturity, and eventually, certain death. There are the roles and personality traits with which you would identify me: son, father, mate, professional, friend... But who are you identifying really? More importantly where are you placing your precious attention? With this attention - and the thought stream that follows so quickly as to be nearly imperceptible - you create the world. Nothing less than that, creating the world out of your thinking. Where is your fidelity, where are you placing your precious trust and faith? Upon what are you showering your love and appreciation? It may not look or feel like you are loving and appreciating something, but you are, and often it is on "the epic of little me." You may not realize that your jewel beyond price, your naked awareness, the authentic source of warmth and wisdom in the universe, is allowing itself to pretend it is "little me," an impermanent construct of thinking, feeling, and bodily sensation with which we identify and call a self.

From my perspective my teacher related to me like I was a young king who was deeply asleep to his godliness. I approached him from personality. He spoke to the godliness within me rather than to my suffering personality. I felt myself to be a victim of the conditions and circumstances of my life situation and that I needed help, relief from this suffering. Again from my perspective his attitude was:

Who is needing help? You are a king! Step out of your own way, wake up and see that the whole treasury is yours. It lives within you, whole and complete, and is available everywhere and at all times. Wake up, you are a monarch, and although you do not possess a kingdom or subjects, the entire universe is your playground. As a king you can celebrate, you can rejoice for you have all you need and so much more. Wake up to the vast riches, the generosity, warmth and innocence that is your inherent nature. Wake up to all the energy vibrantly at play around and within you. This energy is your body dancing. This is your very own energy bouncing back at you. You send it out and it returns to you and a dance of rejoicing communion emerges. Even in the storms you dance, in the wind and the rain. Even when you are filled with fear, you appreciate the wakefulness that can feel it, the raw, "what is" quality of it. And in the simple, humble act of appreciation, your wakefulness comes back to you as an echo, a further confirmation of that awareness within you that is awake. You begin to get a sense of being at home in the vastness of the universe; of being adept - capable of facing and absorbing what is, the energy of what is, back into your Self, and then releasing it again in the form and fragrance of love, a rejoicing, loving abundance.

"...light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world."

My humanness is a work in progress. The work is a labor of love, keeping an appreciation of Freedom, from which the loving abundance, the "...light within a person of light" arises, and which in turn "...shines on the whole world" and guides the human expression of Freedom in the world, in form. As far as I can see into the darkness, what is asked of me, my humanness, is a fidelity to Freedom, to Awakening, moment to moment, forever. Without primordial trust, without moment to moment appreciation of Being I would default back into the dominion of personality, back into the trance of a separate self. Beyond relaxing into basic appreciation, I continuously look for ways to express and embody the awareness-that-is-awake that I find within/without, in both form and in the formless. Personality and all that attends it, intellect and critical thinking certainly have their places. But innocent, naked Being has the throne for Akilesh, a king without a kingdom or subjects, a king of nothingness.

I started with befriending the shadow and gradually opened my eyes to the light already, always shining. We human Beings contain the paradoxical interweaving of shadow and light. We contain that warm, aching god-emotion, an indivisible admixture of sadness and joy that brings such tender compassion. Are we not constantly blessed with warmth? With love? Are we not continuously showered with an abundance of miracles, both ordinary and extraordinary? In the words of Goethe:

All things the gods bestow, the infinite ones
On their darlings completely.
All the joys, the infinite ones
All the pains, the infinite ones, completely.

What would be the logical and rational response to such a watershed? Wouldn't it be overflowing happiness and gratitude, a joy coming from within that could be felt by others? Wouldn’t it be a "...light within a person of light," that shines on the whole world?

Someone in a neighboring town recently won the Oregon lottery to the tune of $340 million. This windfall is small compared with the treasure that lives free within that winner's heart. They hit a material jackpot against nearly impossible odds, but will they realize the greater treasure hidden in the wide-open?

When do we take the leap into the beyond? When do we act leading from our Being instead of from our ego consciousness? The kingdom of God is herenow. Move from here, from your treasure, your godliness, your love, from your innocence and authenticity. Move from this place of Wholeness. Tomorrow never comes. There is no future time when we will be more evolved or developed in order to take the leap into love, in order to be better able to love. You have all you need within you now. Love now and keep on loving openly and without reservation, calculation or strategy. Take huge risks in being kind and gentle and generous. Be free and unrestrained in your genuineness.

It is said that "Love don't pay the rent." But true love never plays so small; it doesn’t make such small claims. It gives everything and asks for nothing. But this nothing, ah this nothing, how to realize it so you can offer it to Love? Open your hand, release your fist of control, let go of hope and belief, of everything you would cling to. When you open to love, your original nature retrieves you. You don't do anything but approach the gate again and again, open and empty-handed, and let go of whatever you have been clinging to, desperately identifying with. We do not have to subscribe to the exclusive dominion of ego fixation. We can unsubscribe to ego’s email newsletter, which is old and stale anyway. And we have a good nose, our Original Nose, which tells us unfailingly whether something is old and stale or fresh. With the gift of your naked freshness, your openness and receptivity, your willingness to shed, Love receives you into its arms, and reveals those arms to be your very own. When Being meets Itself in your heart you are embraced by vastness which reveals itself to be your own original face. And that face radiates a love that can be called Divine. It radiates a Light that can be called God.