Only Truth Lasts

All I want to do is serve truth. It’s the only thing worth putting my life into. And it’s a complete mystery. It isn’t objective. It can’t be held in any shape or displayed in any singular way. It can’t be figured out ahead of time. This mysterious truth pours through us only when we’re open, when we’re being ourselves. In the end, it isn’t complicated at all…only when we want to figure it out, or try to explain it.

Trusting it is free. I’m still talking about truth. This is trusting yourself, ultimately. The very heart of life itself. Anyone can try it. It will show you how worthy it is of trust. But you can’t taste it beforehand. You can only lean out and give it a shot. No strategy can follow you into this space, even if it brought you to the door. Everything must be dropped.

I have no idea what I’m talking about. Really. 🙂 It can’t be conceived. It is conceiving. These words just tumble out. And I feel so lucky to be so deeply HERE. Nothing else exists. The rest is just memory or projection. These ideas still pop up here and there, but the host is this moment. Always now. Everything rests on this. This is what all the true sages and saints and saviours are pointing to. Right here. Right now. Don’t miss it. (Don’t worry, you can’t…not for long.)

This truth is what Easter is about at it’s heart, too. Conquering death by accepting it. We can be born to something that doesn’t die. It’s who we already are. There are many paths to the pathless present. No need to worry about finding ‘the right one’. It will find you. Just take a step.

Surrender to yourself. Your true self. Not the story. Not the habits and concepts. Your mind is not the doorway…don’t be fooled by passing thoughts. (And don’t get stuck on terminology…catch the drift.) Only the heart truly knows. But it won’t show you any more than the first step. Again and again.

***

I attended Easter worship this morning in a beautiful community of locals and ex-pats. The pastor spoke passionately and the energy was warm and inviting. The music was uplifting. The smiles were authentic…as were a few tears.

The pastor had us hanging on a valuable question from the scripture: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” The angels had asked this of the women coming to Jesus’ tomb. I had never focused on this phrase before, but it struck me today with considerable force. It got me thinking about where I invest my life. I want to invest it right back into life itself.

I feel that what is destined to die is already as good as dead. We are wasting our lives by feeding death so much attention. Death can be a vessel at best. Let’s not confuse what is truly alive. Why cling so desperately to what will inevitably be taken? Let go and see what is realer.

Some come to the cross still hung up on death. Others rightly see the cross as an opportunity to come back to truth, to serve life from a deeper space of our being. Let’s invest in this truth, this life, unfolding in this mysterious moment.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff. The subject doesn’t lend itself to inspection and intellectual clarity. The path of truth is unique for all. It’s usually obscure. We can’t seize it as we do normal objects and ideas. We are pointing back to ourselves, in THIS moment, right now – never to be captured. But we can allow ourselves to be who we are, to unravel a bit more, to explore our own hearts. This is where we grow.

***

I won’t go on much more now. The last few weeks have been beautiful, even when challenging. My writing routine has fluctuated a bit, but I keep coming back to the desk and chipping away at my work.

I have shared my writing at another Spoken Word event this past week, which went well. And I sang some songs at an Open Mic the night before. I have been connecting with new friends regularly, and seeing my path open up naturally…sometimes despite my best efforts. 😉

I am now sitting back where I was two years ago at Easter, looking out upon the green hills of Cuenca while writing. My then couch-hosts and now friends have left the flat to me for the next two months as they travel the world.

I just felt like sending some love and encouragement to anyone who may see this. That means YOU! Life is so deeply worthy of our whole hearts, our complete trust. Dare to lean out into the raw winds of change and let yourself grow. Become who you are.

🙂

Now, a few photos…

Never Too Busy to Sit Still

Time sure seems to be flying by down here in Cuenca. I was hoping to get a new post up a few days ago but my last week has been surprisingly busy. Even though my friend Keith is on his way over here for a movie night, I feel like sharing news with all who care to hear of it.  So I will rattle off a quick update for the moment…

I am keeping up with my morning writing routine, of course, but my days have otherwise filled out with a variety of activities. There is no shortage of opportunity to meet people and get involved with various groups around town.  Some meet weekly, others monthly, and after dabbling in a number of different groups, I am even leading my own weekly event.  I mentioned last time that I was planning to lead a meditation at my Spanish school…what I didn’t know then is that it would actually be IN Spanish!

Last Thursday came around and I learned that none of the people coming for the Friday meditation spoke English.  It ended up being a great opportunity to share in a new way.  I had a chance to get somewhat prepared, translating and writing down a few things I tend to mention when I lead a meditation.  Last night I led another meditation in Spanish and it went even better the second time around. We will be continuing them every Friday evening at my Spanish school.

After having joined a Gringo group for two weeks of meditation, I was invited to lead it this last week. We had about 22 or 23 there and the mood was very receptive. I have been blessed to connect with some special souls there.  I am beginning another weekly night of meditation this coming Monday, hosting one in English at my Spanish school. We will see if that also becomes a regular event.

This past Monday I went to an Open Mic, having missed it the previous week. I met some interesting characters and felt very welcome, enjoying a number of nice conversations, but I didn’t fall in love with the atmosphere. I ducked out early and doubt I will return..but you never know. There is another Open Mic on Wednesdays and I think I will check it out after meditation this coming week.

***

In the midst of these various meditations, I managed to secure my Visa extension this last week. After reading about potential delays and various hurdles others had encountered, I was surprised that the process opened up so effortlessly for me. I had built it up to be more than it was. There was a lot of paperwork to do, which I had to wade through slowly, but it was over in a matter of days. Now I can legally stay in Ecuador until early August. Having overstayed previous visas (once by nearly a year), I am feeling good about respecting the process this time around.

I found out that the writing group I sat in on a couple of weeks ago is hosting a Spoken Word event this Thursday and I have been invited to share an excerpt from my book. I chose a portion of the introduction and I look forward to letting it out into the air. I imagine it will be a fun evening.

In the interest of ‘keeping it real’, I will share that I am also dealing with a case of Montezuma’s Revenge…or as my buddy Keith is calling it, ‘The Aztec Two-Step’. I have been through a round of antibiotics (something I am not fond of doing) and I am hoping it will resolve itself shortly. It seems to be a normal part of life here…nothing too serious. And it is surely worth it as a trade-off for all the other joys of life here.

***

Beneath all these details of daily events is the more important undercurrent of silence that gives rise to everything. I have been bathing in this silence more deeply than ever before (so to speak) and it continues to blossom forth from my heart. I am learning to stop and honour it more consistently, always grateful that its invitation is endlessly available.

I sincerely hope that all of you can take a moment to give yourself the gift of your own silence. Even an apparently noisy mind can’t stop this inner quiet. It is almost like a sense of ‘seeing’ that resides deep beneath everything else buzzing about. We are closer to it than we can know. Indeed this ‘seeing’ – this space, this silence, this being of ours – holds all ‘knowing’, along with all other passing phenomenon. Relax. Pay attention.

***

Here is a bit more street art from around town:

And one night we happened upon a traditional Quechua dance (and human tower):

IMG_20160213_174338

Ciao for now everyone!

🙂

The Beauty and Wonder of Being

It’s quite a gift just to be here. I am blessed to frequently find myself ‘stunned by wonder’. I have surely shared that before and I trust I will do it again. But it’s pretty wild just to be alive. In the midst of whatever the world may hurl at us there remains this incredibly calm centre – a spot to set up shop and just watch it all, even while apparently partaking.

It’s a party, this life. We’re all invited. None are judged. Nobody will be turned away from this door. It’s inside, so to speak. But all such distinctions fall apart here. Inside or outside, up and down, far and near – all of these words will be seen for what they are – just words. They are symbols. They attempt to express feelings. But we can easily become encaged by these words. Even enraged. When we take them too seriously, definitions will wrap us up. We choke ourselves for nothing. But I digress.

Though who doesn’t? Maybe I’ll carry on. Couldn’t life itself be seen as a great digression? So many of us get distracted from the simple truth in our hearts to chase trails of memories and expectations, reaching out for approval and acceptance, instead of just enjoying what we already have – everything! That feels like a digression.

But we can always come back. To where we never left. To where we already are. Though so many don’t see it. It takes time, it seems, for some of us to step out of our stories to see how free we have always been. And it can be an enjoyable journey, for sure, this life. But when we start pressing and squeezing it – scratching at the very heart of life itself – asking it to be something else, we are wrestling with what simply is. How can we fight reality? It seems ridiculous to even ask. It’s been said that the ultimate truth of life can neither be courted nor shunned. We can’t pursue it any more than we can avoid it. Consider that. How might this understanding lead us to live?

It’s all so simple that most kids already get it, only because they have yet to be convinced otherwise. It’s not to be figured out in our heads. It’s so natural. It pours out of our hearts. It’s just life – play – lila, some say. Yet so many of us are running around wildly bumping into ourselves, or walls we have imagined into existence, you would never know how fun it is. Just being here is a gift. Existence is inherently positive. Yet so many of us live in hiding, waiting and wondering why. It’s as though we’re hoping to break through to somewhere else.

It’s already all here. Patience and process is a part of that, too, mind you. So we can be very forgiving with ourselves as reality becomes clearer and clearer to us. A tree doesn’t struggle as it grows. It may lean and creak in the breeze, but it lets life unfold. A river rolls along as it is allowed, as it is able, demanding nothing. Whether growing wider or deeper, or once in a while running dry, it goes with the flow.

Our intellect, seen as such a gift (which it is), comes with a flip-side; it is an unruly master. Much better to let it serve. Come back to the centre – our heart-centre – and let everything stored up pour out. Then the silence can guide us forward. It may be wise to stop once in a while and check in. But know that life is supportive. Trust it and you will be shown the way. Humility is unavoidable on this path. Walking without it leads to a fall. From there we can dust ourselves off again and carry on.

Walking toward the light, we can set everything else down. Love is tending itself.

Light

The Snow Falls Still

I guess I got a bit excited last week when we had a couple of warmer days. The snow was melting and I was leaning myself optimistically into spring. But the winter spoke up again and reminded me that it is not yet through with us. Montreal saw a good deal of snow fall early yesterday, though the bitter cold of the past weeks seems to be gone. I remain optimistic as the days grow longer and the sunlight feels warmer. We make our official transition into spring this Friday as we reach the equinox.

Just about six months ago I wrote a post on the equinox – the balance of night and day – while trying to ride the momentum of the shifting seasons in ‘turning the corner’. I still find myself trying to ‘turn the corner’ now and again, often related to my food or work habits (input and output). ‘One more day of indulgence,’ a voice says, ‘and then I’ll get back into my discipline.’ I sense this voice would go on forever if we let it. Even in my most productive and disciplined phases, this voice constantly pushed for more, never satisfied. I trust we have all seen these conversations taking place in our minds. I feel it shows the duality of life. There seem to be two of ‘us’ taking part in our internal chatter. Doesn’t this seem odd? Who are we talking to? Who is responding?

In the midst of our inner tangling, however, there is a silent observation that often goes unnoticed. This is simply clear sight, not leaning one way or another, but just observing all that pops up. We are usually so caught up with our thoughts and where they might take us that we seldom appreciate the quality of pure awareness itself which makes cognition possible. But this quiet awareness – completely unbiased alert observation – is nonetheless the foundation for every thought, word and deed. This ‘ground floor’ is where I have been endeavouring to invest my attention of late. This is the process of meditation, essentially, a return to the wholeness that we already are (but may not see).

In this space all dualities come to union and rest. Their continuing play of apparent opposition is seen from a place where they never left. Every equinox and solstice, whether in our skies or in our lives, can be seen as a sign of balance, expressing itself through our oscillating nature. Every season, every tide, every ebb and flow, high and low, can come and go in this space with ease and freedom. Every duality and division, all conflict and contradiction, can be understood more deeply, equally embraced by the loving silence of clear sight, unconditioned and uncreated.

This Friday’s equinox falls in line with a new moon and a total solar eclipse. There will be no shortage of opportunity to ‘turn the corner’. Perhaps we can recommit to clearer sight and see what happens. Though only those in Greenland or Iceland will get anywhere near the full effect of the eclipse, much of Europe and North Africa will be blanketed in the shadow of the new moon, itself leaning close to earth on the perigee of its elliptical orbit. It all seems to be a chance to respect the rise and fall of seasons, on every imaginable scale – from the rise and fall of our every breath to the expansion and (inevitable?) contraction of our universe – and come in contact with that which remains solid and unswayed by the winds of change.

I try to keep this sort of thing in mind as I cross any kind of threshold.  Because on the surface, transition is all there is. It is truly constant. But just beneath our surface experience of life, it is all quietly embraced by the ‘everlasting arms’ of presence. There is a deep peace and grace issuing endlessly from this space, given freely by this inconceivable presence. This is where I want to hang out. This is where I’d like to meet you.

Seasons

I wasn’t planning to get ‘deep’ when I started writing today. I am planning to make a juice today (a lengthy and involved job) and I have a few other errands I need to run, so I was just trying to rattle off a wee entry for the week…but this is what happened. So take it lightly and in stride. I’ll do the same. 🙂

And I’ll close with a quote of Rumi’s, which I love:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

Waning Winter

It’s been a beautiful and bright sunny Monday here in Montreal. I was out for a nice walk this afternoon and I am encouraged to see we are slowly but surely emerging from the wild winter we have had. This was the coldest February on record and it makes me all the more grateful for every bit of warmth afforded us. It was above freezing today for the first time in quite a while. The breeze still kept it feeling cool but I was out and about without my toque on and my ears weren’t frozen when I got home. That seems to be a sign of progress. I’m also pretty sure I heard a few birds flitting about as I sat and meditated this morning.

The weather predictions show an upward trend and I couldn’t be happier. I have always felt like more of a summer soul, never overly fond of the cold. I can handle the heat. I have recently been dreaming of Ecuador for next winter. I can picture myself settling in there for a stretch, awaiting spring back here in Canada while basking in the South American sun and relative warmth. The lack of light just might be the hardest part of winter for me. I really love the sun. I spent a good while laying in the sun this afternoon, in fact, rolled out on my yoga mat on my bedroom floor. I slid over bit by bit, following the sunshine as it drifted across my floor, and got rather toasty before the light was shielded by the building across the alley.

As I look out the window now, at just after 6:30 PM, I am happy to see light still filling the sky, playing on the underside of a few passing clouds. The blue behind them is still clear and bright. This is one obvious upside to the daylight saving ‘Spring forward’. I didn’t mind giving up an hour on Saturday night. I have time to spare.

Though tomorrow, mind you, I will be rising before 3 AM, catching a night bus up to my first official job as a cleaner. I will be cleaning during the off hours of a climbing gym, between 4:30 and 7:30 AM, ensuring it is good to go for their 8 AM opening. I will be meeting a new colleague there who will ‘show me the ropes’. I don’t expect to do any climbing, though I am looking forward to figuring out what the job is like.

I guess by now you can probably tell that I had no real plan for today’s blog entry. I just started writing. I usually get at it a bit earlier than this but here we are. I did do some writing this morning also, finishing a Lenten daily devotional for my home church. They have been posting a little slice of inspiration every day during Lent. I have been happy to offer a couple, otherwise enjoying various other devotional musings. Even though I currently live about 600 KM from Islington United Church, it still feels like home when I show up. It’s nice to look forward to visiting a place you grew up, keen to see familiar faces. I know this isn’t the case for many. I feel blessed.

Well I suppose I will wrap it up for now. Nothing earth-shattering to say today, apparently. It is now just after 7 PM and the sky is losing its colour. I am grateful the days will be getting longer now. I think I will have an easy evening tonight and try to get to bed early, as my alarm is set for 2:45 AM. That will be quite the wake-up call! Such is the life of an early-bird cleaner. But I couldn’t be more grateful.

🙂

In the spirit of the waning winter, here is a painting I found by Homer Watson, painted in 1924:

Moonlight, Waning Winter, 1924

Guess Who’s Back?

This has been quite a cold season. I hear a lot of people have been hit hard. Apparently I’m not the only one who was laid up for more than a week. And word on the street is that it can pop up again even after it’s gone. I had a few days of bronchitis in the wake of my cold. I figured that was the final wave. And it seemed to be the case for a week or more. I was back to full strength and more or less normal activity, eating what I usually do, and then BAM! Guess who’s back? The pesky old cold. I thought it was completely gone. I don’t know if it’s a different bug or just one more wave of the same. Does it really matter?

I must say I am taking it well. I don’t have an intense fever as I did before. I am not achy. But my throat is swollen and it hurts to swallow. I even wonder if tonsillitis may have been triggered this time around. I am still producing a lot of that thick yellow stuff every morning as I cough wildly upon waking. (Too much information?) At least I am getting it out of me. I feel like I am taking it all in stride.

I hope this isn’t taken as a complaint. I’m just rambling away here, getting whatever this is out of me, not unlike a cold expels whatever it needs to. I’m not wrestling with much. I accept the process as it is, and I even stop to appreciate the body’s natural healing intelligence. I am doing what I can. I am resting more than normal, gargling hot salt water several times a day, drinking honey-lemon-ginger tea, chewing garlic once in a while and eating a lot of soup.

Today, however, I opted to make a juice. It had been a while since I had done so and I felt like having some concentrated nutrients. I juiced a bunch of kale and spinach, one cucumber, twenty carrots, one bunch of celery, six apples, one lemon, one grapefruit, some ginger, and added a healthy spoonful of turmeric after it was all done. It was quite a project. It took nearly three hours altogether.

I cleaned everything up once I finished and poured myself a pint of powerful immune-boosting juice. I sat cross-legged in a large comfortable chair to enjoy it. I rested my whole body, which had been up and active for several hours in grocery shopping and juice preparation, and I immediately felt the juice doing its work. It was as if I could feel the juice spreading throughout my veins. It was a rush. I sat in a semi-meditative state and let my entire body fall into rest. I could see so clearly – my awareness was incredibly broad, and yet single-pointed. It swallowed everything – thoughts, my body, every sensation. It was quite a reboot.

Sitting here writing (having taken a break mid-stream for another hot water salt gargle) my throat is still sore, but I don’t mind. It’s doing what it needs to do, and I will help it as best it can, largely by staying out of its way. I don’t feel contagious. I feel like things are just in process. So I will let it work. And I might drop in to a doctor if this persists much longer.

I’m off to Toronto this week and I am happy to be checking in with my family and friends there. It will be Family Day holiday in Ontario next Monday, so it will be nice to share it with family. I will be writing to you from there next week. And then we’re off to a family wedding later in the week. Should be a fun one.

Well, there is another off-the-cuff blog post. Nothing profound to share today. Just what’s what.

For the moment, though, I am going to enjoy a nice healthy glass of juice. Why don’t you join me? I wish I could share some of mine through the computer…

Juice

(That’s just a stock image… 🙂 My juice is green…)

 

Recovery

Recovery

What a week.  I’ve been in bed for days.  It’s no way to live.  Not in the long run, anyhow.  I’ve watched an awful lot of movies and slept a lot.  It’s a luxury.  I know many don’t have the time to be as sick as I’ve been.  But this bug just wouldn’t quit.  Even now that it’s done, it hasn’t quit, exactly.  It left bronchitis in its wake.  It feels like I have butter in my lungs.  When I breathe deeply you’d swear someone was shaking maracas.  When this cold got going, I thought being sick might be kind of nice for a couple of days.  Cuddling up in bed with a few movies and some soup seemed a relaxing recipe.  But here I am more than a week later – my energy back, the fever gone – and I am still in recovery.

Maybe it never ends?  Recovery.  Is that such a bad prospect?  Never-ending recovery.  I suppose it all depends on context.  If we’re in it together, helping one another along, I think I could get behind it.  We could have a few laughs along the way.  It reminds me of a quote by Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”  That image comes to mind quite regularly.  There is something very true in it.  And this process of healing, like life, is often a few sloppy steps forward followed by one or two back, or maybe even stopping for a rest on a bench.  As long as we’re walking together, trusting the path, does it really matter where we’re going?  Whether we’re guided by some distant star, or simply the hand we’re holding as we walk along, isn’t the moving forward what matters?  I don’t really know.  Just musing.

Does the road to recovery go somewhere?  It sounds silly, I know, but is recovery a place?  Was there some past state where no illness tread?  What are we trying to recover?  What are we trying to recover from?  I really don’t know.

Recovery.  Now I am sitting here wondering about the word.  Recovery.  To RE-cover.  I don’t know about it.  It feels too much like covering something up – hiding.  To re-cover our wounds.  I much prefer DIS-covery.  Let’s break down all the walls and see what’s ticking inside.  That sounds more fun.  And honest, even if a bit reckless.

*   *   *

This blogging is a funny thing.  Here we are, talking to ourselves, many of us begging for attention.  If you pull the frame back and look at the big picture, it’s what we’re doing – chattering away to ourselves, hoping we notice.  So many of us live such isolated lives that we need to reach through these machines to have contact with life.  I’m not judging the internet.  It is neither good nor bad.  It is merely a tool.  But perhaps looking at it will help us make sense of it.

Some people make a living blogging.  Good for them.  Many offer content of real substance.  But many are out there just making noise.  Anybody who does a bit of blogging, however casually, has likely had their page ‘Followed’ or ‘Liked’ by various ‘professional bloggers’ looking to share their empowered lifestyle and offer opportunities to cash in on website clicks.  We look at their pages and wonder about the legitimacy of their claims.  But what are they actually saying?  Are they simply generating buzz and traffic so their sites will make more money?  This seems to be the case with many of them.

I guess I got thinking about this because I noticed a blog I “follow” asking for money.  It was one of the first blogs I ever followed.  I followed him because he was following me.  He found my page and liked it.  I thought he must have appreciated the content.  Now I realize he was likely just drumming up more traffic for his own page.  He has more than 100,000 ‘Followers’, and in his current campaign he has had only 8 donations (in over three weeks), totalling just over $100.  What does that say?  These ‘Likes’ and ‘Follows’ feel rather flimsy in this light, don’t they?

Why are we running around chasing our tails?  We so easily get caught in the trap of seeking attention, forgetting first to check if we have something to say.  I’m not claiming to be any better than anyone else.  We’re all in this together.  But I know that no amount of ‘Likes’ or ‘Follows’ will bring any lasting satisfaction or happiness.  It’s an inside out job.  So let’s stop accumulating and chasing things outside of ourselves.  Take a minute.  Take a breath.  Feel your heart.  See what’s already here.  (I’m reminding myself…)

As for this entry, I’m not looking for attention, or happiness.  I just started typing and this is what happened.  I wanted to honour my commitment to write a Monday blog.  Here it is, in all its raw, rambling glory.  It was supposed to be about recovery.  Maybe it is.  I’m still working on it.

🙂

Here’s a nice little song about recovery.  I highly recommend it: New Buffalo – Recovery.