complete experience

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

The real magic happens when we become intimately familiar with the moment-by-moment experience of being alive. Instead of trying to force complete experiences to happen. I focus on setting the stage for them to happen by exercising my attention. 

When remembering to notice that we're alive becomes a habit, we begin to erode the internal friction that obscures our view of the richness we're swimming in every day.

Lucky to Live Sad Moments

Lucky to Live Sad Moments

"Sadness is poetic. You're lucky to live sad moments...Because we don't want that first bit of sad, we push it away...You never feel completely sad or completely happy. You just feel kind of satisfied with your product, and then you die." 

~ Louis C.K. 

Binge Watching Ordinary Events Playing Out in Real Time

Binge Watching Ordinary Events Playing Out in Real Time

I've shared strategies for using movies to strengthen attention. Just as in ordinary life, what makes tending to the sensory components of a film so challenging is the pull of the narrative. But what would it be like to focus on the changing sights and sounds without having to resist the gravitational pull of story elements? 

Starting today, you can find out. 

The Transparency of Existence

The Transparency of Existence

"In this mode of consciousness, the most supremely banal transforms into the most supremely baffling and awe-inducing. That which is most obvious and taken for granted is simultaneously that which is most mysterious and astonishing."

~ Brian Maniscalco

180°

180°

"When you feel the sting of separation inside, simply turn inwardly and intuitively around one hundred and eighty degrees and there will be your innocence, your beauty, your completeness. It may seem impossible, but give it a try until you reconnect with what in truth you never lost."

~ Adyashanti

Fully Present

Fully Present

When we are fully present, we are receptive to phenomenal world around us. Opening to sense perceptions, we become a sensate being, embodied. Being fully present, when we look, we actually see; when we listen, we hear; when we smell and taste, we savor it; when we touch, we truly feel. Connecting to the phenomenal world in this way is the key to contacting reality directly, beyond concept.

To Be Fully Alive

Double-crested Cormorants traveling over Lake Champlain, July 6, 2014

Excerpt from "The Pursuit of Happiness" by Phillip Moffitt:

Herein lies the paradox common to mystical teachings in most spiritual traditions: In order to be fully alive, you also have to die. When you cling to the past or future, believing you are holding onto something precious, you are denying what is sacred about life. Your life, with its unique pains and joys, can only be reconciled in your surrender to the truth of your experiences as they arise one moment after another, never fixed, always moving. A beautiful sunrise, a baby's smile, a broken heart, cancer, the loss of love; open fully to the experiences of your life in all their mysterious manifestations. Meet each of these moments with compassion, loving-kindness, and your very best response. Then let loose of each in turn, for however beguiling in their beauty or their horror, they are truly only life dancing."

Read the entire essay...

There is This

Matt, April 13, 2014

You Can't Have It All
by Barbara Ras, from Bite Every Sorrow

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands 
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger 
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back. 
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look 
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite 
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August, 
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love, 
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam 
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys 
until you realize foam's twin is blood. 
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs, 
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind, 
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness, 
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you 
all roads narrow at the border. 
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes, 
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave 
where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead, 
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands 
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful 
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful 
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels 
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts, 
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream, 
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand. 
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed, 
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping 
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise. 
You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd 
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump, 
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards, 
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender, 
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind 
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you, 
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond 
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas 
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept. 
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's, 
it will always whisper, you can't have it all, 
but there is this.

Let Me Die Living

A Prayer for the Living

by Jeff Foster

Life, 

Break in me whatever needs to be broken.

Fix my hope of ever being fixed. 

Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest. 

Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible. 

Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.

Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace. 

Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.

Where I am still holding on, help me let go. 

Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.

Help me laugh at my own seriousness.

Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.

Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.

Don't spare me from the truth. Ever. 

Let gratitude be my guide. 

Let forgiveness be my mantra.

Let this moment be a constant companion. 

Let me see your face in every face. 

Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence. 

Hold me when I stumble. 

Breathe me when I cannot breathe. 

Let me die living, not live dying.

Amen.

See also:

  • Life Without a Centre
  • Foster, J. (2012). The deepest acceptance: Radical awakening in ordinary life. Boulder, Colo: Sounds True. [library, Amazon.com, Sounds True]
  • Foster, J. (2013) Falling in love with where you are: A year of prose and poetry on radically opening up to the pain and joy of life by Jeff Foster [Amazon.com]

Limitations and Richness of Experience

Sunny Autumn Day, 1892 George Inness (American, 1825-1894)

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colors richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colors, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death."

~ Lin Yutang, from My Country and My People

The Same Source

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.”

~ Henry Miller, from Sexus

Hardy Hibiscus, July 18, 2013

Hardy Hibiscus, July 18, 2013

Recognizing The Moments In Your Life

“When we think of our memories, they’re moments of intensity. Whether they were sorrowful or happy, moments of great loneliness or moments of great communion — we live for these moments in our life. And I do think poetry is a way of recognizing the moments in your life. But also a way of preserving them,” Wiman tells Moyers. “One of the ways in which I feel close to God is writing poetry.”

~ Christian Wiman

Poet Christian Wiman on Love, Faith, and Cancer from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

See also:

 

Love Kept Demanding More

Topiary Park, April 18, 2013

Christian Wiman, in conversation with Krista Tippett, from "A Call to Doubt and Faith," On Being, May 23, 2013:

I think there's some kind of excess energy. We tend to think of love as closing out the world and we can only see the face of the beloved. You know, everything else goes quiet or goes numb. But actually what I experienced was that — and I've experienced it again with my children — is that the love demanded to be something else. It demanded to be expressed beyond the expression of the participants. You know, it kept demanding more.

That excess energy, I think, is God. And I think it's God in us trying to return to its source. I don't know how else to understand it. But if I think of myself as having returned to faith — and I do think of that, although I feel like I'm a desperately confused person. When people look to me for advice or direction on faith, I just feel sometimes like it's hilarious. You know, I think we have these experiences and they are people reacting against the word spiritual these days. But I don't know what other word to use at this point. They are spiritual experiences and then religion comes after that.

Religion is everything that we do with these moments of intense spirituality in our lives, whether it's whatever practice we have, whether it's going to church, whether it's how we integrate sacred text into our lives.

Being religious or taking on some sort of religious elements in your life, you're not necessarily saying I agree with everything that this religion says. What you are saying is that I've had these incredible experiences in my life of suffering or joy or both and they have demanded some action of me and demanded some continuity of me.

And the only way that I know to do this is to try to find some form in it and try to share it with other people.

Listen to the produced or unedited conversation...

Able to Live in Two Worlds

frog_water.jpg

Excerpt from The Science of Enlightenment(Session 9) by Shinzen Young

Freedom means the ability to have a complete experience when it's appropriate to.

Human beings are in some ways intended to be amphibians. We are intended by nature to be able to live in two worlds, to go back and forth between those worlds.

A frog is very happy because he is a creature of two worlds. When it's appropriate to be on dry land, it's completely comfortable on dry land. When it's appropriate to be in the water, it's completely comfortable in the water. It can go back and forth any time it wants, as frequently as it wants. And if it gets tired of the water, it can go to dry land. If it gets tired of dry land, it can go to water. There's no impedence in its freedom to traverse back and forth between two realms.

We human beings were also meant to be that way. To be able to go under the water of oneness, into the world of fluidity and connectivity. And then to come out into the solidity and aridity of dry land, for certain kinds of functions.

But the problem is, we forgot how to get back into the water and now we're stuck in the solid, arid, terrestrial zone. We have no way to refresh ourselves. We have no other perspective on things. And we can't really even appreciate the solidity and the aridity of the land because we have nothing to contrast it to.  

A liberated person is like the frog—they are able to appreciate the congealed world of separateness and individual self in an entirely different way because they have the option of going into the fluid, connected world of complete experience any time they want.