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.”