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Common Ground

The human mind is littered with the recycling of the ever-present ego. Humans appear naive and superficial, carnal and precarious, as we are swift to judge each other by the arbitrary content of our psyches. Indeed, it is essential for us to intuit the state of others’ minds, so that we may interact and react to them with spontaneous propriety. But it is common to get so absorbed in the conditional states of others (and ourselves), that we entirely forget the unconditional essence which abides beneath the content.

If you take even the most egregious individual, and for one moment penetrate the egoic mania induced by their neglect or abuse-filled history, you will find the same stoic and loving essence that is, above all, the definitive trait of humankind. We are all sojourned by varying mental and environmental modes of Oneness, which in turn influence the quality of our demeanor. But the one thing that unites us all is the one thing which is constant, and thus epitomizing, in every one of us.

Presence.

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There You Were

When a new body and mind came into being, there You were, a million years old, to grace neural chemistry and sensory mechanics with the light of Awareness. When infant legs took their first step, and fresh lips uttered first words, there You were, bearing witness to the magnificence of human development. When a juvenile heart was broken for the first time by humiliation or loss, there You were, to ensure suffering was met by your vast embrace, and strength was gathered in tears. When a child of the Universe was thrown into the ridiculous farce of “adulthood,” there You were, to keep a scion of stars close to his kingdom. And when an old body and mind fade into the night, there You will be, to grace cosmic blossom’s return to the eternal Garden from which it sprung.

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Art: John Kolenberg

Divine Misconception

The error in religion is found in the ubiquitous misconception that God and man are separate entities. If God is the intelligent fabric of all Existence—and if we are being honest, what else can “He” be?—then God must comprise the fundamental entities by which all forms exist. And if God is in the atoms which constitute our body and mind, then God is our body, and God is our mind!

Salvation lies in recognizing ourselves in God, and God in our earthly selves. And if there is any part of our being which is separate from God, it is the intangible presence which precedes every moment of our hallowed human experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 😇

(Art by Joshua Fenimore)

Race to Nowhere

Our mind insists on celebrating every step “forward,” and denouncing every step “back.” In time, we come to see that no matter how fast we run, we always end up at the beginning, because the beginning is all there is. We find that the present moment is really the first and last of our existence, because the Now is all that ever exists. We start Here, and we end up Here. In this way, Time spans a single dimension, and the racetrack of our life begins and ends with every stride.

With experience, we learn that the only real progression is disenchantment from the figment of “progress.” We move closer to where we are, and sink deeper into the ground beneath our feet. We find with great surprise, and solemn humiliation, that the whole purpose of life’s journey—from our first triumph to our final downfall—is to bring us closer to our nascent condition, in body and spirit, when we stood on the precipice of Existence, and had eyes only for the wonder of the moment-to-moment spectacle of Life Itself.

Stress

Stress is nothing to stress about. But life is. Our survival is at stake, and that isn’t a fact to face with nonchalance. The epitome of nature is the pursuit of perpetuity, and a little runaround is a small price to pay for one more breath of life. But despite our best efforts, we will one day breathe our last. And though it is a sobering reality to consider, it is essential that we come to terms with our physical ephemerality—a truth we can only fully concede in the light of our deathless essence.

It is true that Consciousness is a stratum of the mind, that Presence is present due entirely to neural mechanisms. Yet, though our essence is born of mortal molecules, it immanently transcends them. Even to the most empirical minds, Awareness appears to comprise a dimension completely its own. And because Consciousness is tantamount to a vast and vacant Space, it is the selfsame entity across all sentient life, and therefore does not die with the individual it ennobles.

Understanding the ubiquity of our formless essence allows our human form to reside with dignity. And though life may never be “easy,” we can come to handle stress with greater ease. Once we learn to acknowledge our deathless nature, we learn to let go of the mortal identities which stress and constrain human life. Life begins to flow seamlessly through us, rather than hesitantly from us. And though stress will never cease to be the wellspring of our sustenance, it will begin prod us with more practical moderation.

Beyond Human

Imagine that you are an alien spirit whose mission it is to inhabit the body of a human being over the course of its lifetime. The catch is that you exist only in presence—you have no sovereignty over the body or mind in which you have taken up residence. Your sole purpose on earth is to bear witness to the human experience. This means that every thought, feeling, and action arises independently of your will. You feel human feelings. You think human thoughts. But you know, deep down, that your true essence is beyond the mind it occupies, and transcends the body it presently pervades. Of course, this knowledge comes not from the mind (because the mind, ultimately, is not yours). Rather, it is an understanding beyond conception. It is intuitive, and though the human mind you inhabit is often unaware of the intangible spirit by which it is graced, there is a deeper knowledge, an ineffable awareness which never leaves you, because it is You.

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The Sea of Being

Your mind is a frothing sea, its unfathomable pacific depths belied by its temperamentally undulating surface, its majestic profundity setting the stage for a superficial drama of ebullient and tumultuous activity.

Stormy waters give way to placid seas, tsunamis interchange with serene horizons, and all the while, beneath the sparkling and billowing surface, resides a stoic and invulnerable domain unperturbed by the dynamic surges above. Thus, the deep haven of Consciousness lends its oceanic presence to the dazzling plane of atoms, and all the skin-deep facets it unfolds in magnificent and meaningful progression.

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The Path to Here

It is a long and tortuous road to be where we stand. Over mountains of empyrean highs, down valleys of profound lows, across miles of discovery and disillusion, newfound hopes and long-interred misgivings, the pathway to get where we are paradoxically stretches on. Though it never really begins and never really ends (because we have always been where we are), progress is made in a growing awareness of the movements and emotions which pass through us each and every moment. It begins, in a way, with an impractical acceptance of everything, and progresses with the gradual acceptance of our non-acceptance, a burgeoning defense of our prejudices and predilections, and an unconditional love for the beast which burns inside every one of us, exactly as our collective Mother intended.

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The Imperfect “Person”

The experience of awakening is often ensued by the broken ego’s last-ditch efforts to usurp the title of “awakened” and exalt its decrepit status to one worthy of esteem and adulation. Yet time painfully reveals that there is no “quick fix” for a shattered self-esteem, and that the windfall of enlightenment is so intangible that there is no solid pedestal of spiritual transcendence upon which the ego can heighten itself unfailingly.

Ultimately, we realize that enlightenment is not about becoming an “enlightened” person. Rather, it is about seeing that at our deepest essence, we are not a “person” at all. Awakening is a momentary experience of our absolute distinction from the tangible realm which comprises our body and mind. We feel our Self beyond the feelings, and perceive our Nature beyond perception. In a flash of revelation we unequivocally encounter our fundamental entity, before returning to the habitual drama of a forlorn “human” vying for dignity.

Enlightenment doesn’t change our “person” one bit. It merely relaxes our hegemonic grip on our human identity. It becomes less important to us to become a “perfect” person, now that we have found perfection in an alternate dimension of being. Our human being finds itself carrying out the same habits, fulfilling the same tendencies, pursuing the same horizons. We are still anxious and afraid, wrathful and penitent, pensive and full of sorrow. We still laugh to ease the tension, and cry and rage to the same end. And we still find ourselves on rare occasion staring up at the heavens, feeling our body disband into the wind, becoming one with the marvelous Universe which inspirits us with purposeful animation.

~

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