Saturday, January 31, 2009

the secret is being spilled

I’ve been watching The Secret, the Rhonda Byrne movie about The Law of Attraction. It’s an amalgam of “The Lord of the Rings,” “Trump—The Art of the Deal,” and “The Upanishads.” Given that ancestry, there’s some good and some bad and some special effects.

You can hear the ring whispering in the artwork, and although it’s a little overdone, it doesn’t get in the way of the interviews where the secret is being spilled. On the other hand, too much is given to the desires of the ego, as if that is something real and valuable. Still, I have no doubt that The Law of Attraction works.

It says that your thoughts attract a physical manifestation of themselves. If you think bad thoughts, you will attract bad things. On the other hand, if you ask for what you want, if you control your thoughts in so doing, and not only think good things, but also believe those good thoughts faithfully and persistently, you will manifest your requests in your life.

This is tricky stuff. There’s some truth in this revelation, no doubt. But it’s truth told from the perspective of the dream-state. So there is never any questioning that your life is absolutely real, and that your thoughts are essentially meaningful.

But thought is the actual stuff of our illusion. In that way, we do dream what we think, if we believe it. But the more you are aware of your thoughts and their illusory nature, the less you believe in them. As this happens, as you surrender belief in thought, as you begin to understand the nature of the dream-state and the nature of reality, you begin to understand that you are more a conduit than a creator. Spirit is working through you, manifesting bliss. All you do is pay attention and go with the flow.

Call one 'The Law of Attraction' and the other 'The Writ of the Current.' In some ways, it’s a variation of the Bhakti/Jnana, devotion/knowledge split all over again. In one, you worship good thoughts. In the other, you don’t believe thought. Both will lead to bliss.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Friday, January 30, 2009

nesting in the womb of illusion

When I was younger and experimenting with various mind-altering substances, I sometimes would enter a state of panic and paranoia. It was probably the reason why I never lost myself in that particular culture; fear is sometimes your protector when young. But as I look back at that state, I realize now that I had been looking at things with a newly transparent eye. But what I saw was shaking me to the core.

What I was actually witnessing was the utter absurdity of things. But not having a foundation to understand the duplicity of illusion and the nature of reality, I saw instead the roots of insanity and it scared the ever-living bejesus out of me. Nothing appeared real. Everything seemed artificial. Especially me.

I remember the worst time, driving my father’s car, full of loud and relatively unaware fellow trippers, and trying with all my might to hold myself together. Luckily my cousin was with me. Unlike the others, she was sensitive to the situation, and led me to the home of some of her friends. I remember they had a room they called the egg. It was as if I had returned to the safety of the womb. I never wanted to leave.

And in some ways I didn’t—for more than thirty-five years. Sure, the sensation, even a subtle understanding, was always there. But I tried my best to accommodate myself to what everyone around me seemed to think was real. My compensation for this disconnect was thinking I was marching to a beat of a different drummer. After all, I was a poet.

So in some ways, I had been prepared for this movement toward awakening the past few years. There was something in me that had seen this already. And although I had fled from it with all my might, the vision had never left me. In fact, it was always pulling me towards it.

So this time, when I was ready, step by step, my eyes opened, and this time without some dangerous chemical push. I walked towards the understanding on my own time table. Illusion? Oh yes, I’ve met you before; you’re not such a bad bloke after all. The nature of my reality? Welcome, what a joy to finally meet you.

But I certainly sympathize with those who now have trouble when confronting illusion and reality for the very first time. Like me on that hellish trip, they are being shook. And their natural reaction is to run back to safety, nesting in the womb of illusion again. Who can blame them? This understanding is a thousand megatons stronger than that moment when first discovering there is no Santa Claus.

Except now the universe gives you the real gift, and it’s a thousand, no, an infinite megatons better too. There is no you! Don't be afraid; accept it with gratitude.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the great recession gita

Arjuna was weary of industry. He was sure that business sapped the strength of all concerned, and he wished no part of that destruction. Instead he vowed to remain above the fray.

From his vantage point, he watched as banks defaulted and corporations declared bankruptcy. Even countries were failing. The world was going wrong while politicians fiddled their old tunes.

His old friend Krishna dropped by one day, and Arjuna asked him what he, himself, thought of this dire situation. Your dream has gone off-balance, Krishna replied. Your refusal to follow destiny, and dharma, has set your world adrift.

But Krishna, Arjuna answered, certainly I am not responsible for the daily news. Even I, the Great Arjuna, have limits to my ego.

Ah Arjuna, the daily news is only your present news. What is called global recession is only your depression. Do not waste your time considering all the dreams of others. You must act now only for yourself.

But Krishna, nothing really matters in the end. This dream is but a dream.

Krishna replied: do not think about what matters. That is not your duty. Consider this: you are not the dreamer. It is yours to act when acted, dream when dreamt.

But Krishna, even if that’s so, then my action to take no action is being acted for me.

Krishna looked Arjuna in the eye: your thoughts are very intricate, Arjuna. But they are not for you. Don’t listen. They are only thoughts of others you have gained in battle all these years. Listen instead to your heart. Then take action.

But I cannot hear my heart and therefore here I stand knowing no action to take at all.

Arjuna, of course you can hear your heart. Right here, right now, it's speaking to you. And you certainly have answered. Its name is Krishna. Get a job.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

our yawp who art in heaven

I was raised in a “democracy,” inculcated with the doctrines of freedom and equality, and therefore find it difficult to approach the spiritual with any sense of Lordship. Yet such devotion is not a worthless practice; that metaphor works well for some in this dream.

So do I instead pray to a Mr. President? Is that the correct metaphor for this land? Or maybe Your Honor? Or do we walk the scientific materialist path and speak to the Universe?

Many American Indians use the term Creator, but I have my doubts about the origin of that term. Does it originate in pre-Contact times? Or is it an adaptation from the missionary teachings of monotheism?

Of course there’s always The One, a term useful in referencing the nonduality of things. Using the Sanskrit terms of Brahman or Parabrahman works well too. Sat-Chit-Ananda says much. And the western quasi-religious terminology of Spirit rings divine. Or the more scientifically-bent term of Consciousness can do too.

There’s resting in the understanding and saying nothing. But I do like dreaming, and would prefer some trope in its artistry. God, of course, is out of the question. Too much heavy freight has traveled down that road. But Void? Unmanifest? The Unknowable? Too unthinkable.

Self? Too close to ego-infested waters. Presence? I remember reading that term in Eckhart Tolle’s writing, and, as most of his work, it is actually very good. But maybe a little distant for my purposes.

I’ll continue to use my present combination, Ever-creating Spirit, in my morning prayer. It still rings true for me with its sound of Quantum Heraclitean Native-American Divine dedication to it.

Still, maybe there’s something else out there. I do love the manifest variety of divinities the dream has to offer. In the end, it comes down to this Whitmanic expression. “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


(sporadic web review 1)

I love writing. Such words. Such flights of imagination. Such leaves of reality. Such the microcosm for the world gone wrong. Hey, I do it all the time.

We like to lose ourselves in thought. Not that there’s any truth there, but who cares? There’s wine, women (or men), and song! Or maybe just alliteration, rhythm, and trope. But I like it, yes I do.

Here’s some good stuff though:
People come to the party and ask. Who subdued the dual? Where did I go? Am I doubley dual when I play the fool? The nature of the Known is always- always- the Unknown, and every great Truth, as for those, take a look at its opposite- another great truth. Damn.

Thus, I propose ‘soft duality’............the new duality with half the hassle; one less problem: Big You. ‘ you’ would still exist, but no Capitals, only far side ranges of snow mountains clear and present.

Or maybe Subduality...
Nicely written. And there's more. But is the nature of the Known really the Unknown? Or is it the Unknowable? Ah, semantics. You gotta love it. But there is a subtle difference. So let me riff and have some fun as well.

Maybe the Unknown assumes there is something out there that is knowable, but one just doesn’t know it. Or maybe even worse, there are some, you may believe, who profess to know it, charlatans all! Or maybe the Unknown is some secret conspiracy in league against your knowing. Or maybe you just think we know it all, so how could anything possibly be unknown?

But the Unknowable suggests that there are some things we can never know, because of the limits of thought itself.

It suggests that human thought is severely limited by what data the senses can provide and how the mind itself will process it. It suggests that a world has been created from such thought. And that when you restrict yourself to thought alone, you will never understand anything beyond that severely limited world. Que sera illusion. Cue the suffering.

Within that world of thought, you do, indeed, exist. Enjoy it if it satisfies your secret inquiries. (Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. If it doesn't sound true to you, it isn't true for you.) But I'd suggest that you only exist within that world of thought. You’re a figment of that world’s imagination.

It’s kind of a subreality.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Monday, January 26, 2009

it’s all about the bliss

Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. But something is left unsaid in this aphorism. Before, these actions were believed to be real in and of itself. After, it is the Consciousness, or Spirit, we bring to these “actions” which is the true reality.

We are conduits of the unmanifest. We are tools of the unmanifest. We are hands of the unmanifest. We are the unmanifest. In the ever-lasting act of making manifest.

And yes, our life is indeed a dream, but we are not dreaming it. We are being dreamt. What matters is not the dream itself; that we know to be illusion. What matters is the Spirit with which the dream is made.

Do not deny the dream, because you know it to be illusion. But dream on. Dream on in Consciousness. Dream on in Spirit. Dream on in love and bliss.

The unmanifest is made manifest not for the presence of the manifest itself. That is the great lie of materialism. It is in order for Spirit to know itself. And in that knowing is bliss.

The dream is being dreamt not for the dream itself. It is the dreaming which is everything.

In this life, look for any situation that requires an act of love, and do so. And know that the unmanifest is making itself manifest. What is being made manifest though is irrelevant; it’s all about the bliss.

This is something you can’t think through. This is something where you need to follow your true bliss (and not the satisfaction of ego), and trust that where there is bliss, there is Spirit.

This is true transubstantiation.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Sunday, January 25, 2009

making matter’s transubstantiation

On Secular Immaterialism

We turn to science as if
the world discovered by
an observation of the things
we dream up in our lives
exist without our making.
We say the gods are dead,
that matter is the one
and only bread of life
and energy the wine
the engines of our world
create in making matter’s
Not that science dreams
Newtonian delusions
in quest for truth these days.
The facts are known: the world
is consciousness alone.

~Son Rivers 2006

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Jeremiad

It’s laughable really. As a species, which itself is a term we have created in order to classify and divide animate reality which is exactly the issue here at hand, we consider ourselves the epitome of life. We are the thinking animal. Woe to those other non-rational beings for they know not what they are.

But they at least do not think they are something they are not.

We have potential, no doubt. But we’ve wasted it on an illusion, burnt it up in thought, bought the marketing strategy we are individually unique and full of free will.

At least a hawk knows better. As does a rat for that matter. Or a newborn baby.

Everything we think, we’ve been taught. Not an ounce of who we think we are is true. Our senses create a world out of nothing and we create a dream out of thought. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, except we believe it all as truth.

We are blessed with awareness, but we’ve thrown it all away for safety’s sake.

In order to delay our death, we have chosen not to live. And in this limbo we call life, we fear and fear some more, and always suffer. We cry O what a God would treat its children thus. But we are the god that treat ourselves unkindly.

That none of it is true, that all is just illusion, is little comfort.

As a wise possum said, we have met the enemy and he is us. The kingdom of heaven is indeed at hand. Right here and right now. We have the ability to know God. For we are indeed the sons and daughters of God, the manifest. And in our recognition of the Father the Mother, the unmanifest, is that Holy Spirit, love.

And we are that: Consciousness, Being, Bliss; the self-realization of which is, indeed, our highest goal, and true epitome.

Peace to All and One,
Son Rivers

Friday, January 23, 2009

Prabhavanada's Crystallization

Or Spirit is...
God is;
he can be realized;
to realize him is the supreme goal of human existence;
he can be realized in many ways.

from ‘The Spiritual Heritage of India’ by Swami Prabhavananda

there’s no getting wetter

Some speak of the need for long hours of meditation to access Spirit. My limited experience differs.

When I stop and rest in the here and now, practice Self-Inquiry in that moment, and access that thing called Sat-Chit-Ananda or Being, Consciousness, Bliss, it doesn’t matter if I’m there an hour or a minute. When you get wet, there’s no getting wetter. Provided you breathe.

Now I’m not saying that if I were to renunciate and become a monk and meditate for extended periods or say the rest of this life, that I wouldn’t transform, say, to keep the metaphor, into a blissful angelfish, but as a functionary in the dream, time is not of the essence.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind on this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

just more universe being transformed

This thought has recombined itself after a short email exchange concerning the creative writing process. I believe it has some value.

Every thought we think is completely unoriginal. All of our thoughts are just recombinations of words we have read or heard from others. Sometimes the recombination is quite intricate and possibly revealing of a previously obscured truth, and there is value in that, but most often it’s not even a recombination, but an obvious copy.

Take writing. When writing creatively, when really writing in the moment, there comes a point when your mind is not involved in the writing any longer, but something other seems to be dictating the words to you. When finished, you marvel at what you’ve written.

In effect, you have surrendered your thought to Spirit. You are listening to the greater intuition. You (what you?) are being guided in the universal flow.

This could be called divine inspiration. There are some texts that claim to be divinely inspired, but aren’t. It’s a politically expedient tool to do so.

But there are others which reveal themselves to be so. You feel them in your gut. The consistent, thorough ones are great masterpieces. Read Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself.’ Read the ‘Tao te Ching.’ Read the ‘Upanishads.’

They are not involved with illusion. They approach the eternal truth. In their own way, they are the unmanifest made manifest. When you read them, the bliss you feel emanates from that event.

Now not all divine inspiration need be a great masterpiece. There is room for the humble abode as well. A simple poem will do. Even a sentence could suffice. And that is the worth of such endeavor in this dream. You are a conduit for the unmanifest, and your poem, your word, is just more universe being transformed.

Actually, when aligned with Spirit, your life is a conduit, and that is the worth of any true and conscious endeavor, any impeccable word. Period.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seeing Sees the Seen

Again, it was a fleeting recognition. An understanding that this thought called “I” was not what’s seeing. What sees?

It was as if the river was looking at itself. It was as if that tree was looking at itself. And yes, it was as if this body was also looking at itself. But it wasn’t what was seeing.

Let’s talk dreamtalk. When I look at my hand, I know it’s not the essence of myself, but just part of an emanation of myself. I see my hand, but I don’t see myself. Even when I see as much of myself as I can see, I don’t see myself. So when the river sees itself, it only sees an emanation of itself.

The unmanifest sees the manifest. Seeing sees the seen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dream It Out with Pride and Joy

Today there will be a brief shining moment when Barack Obama takes the oath of office of The President of the United States. Let’s appreciate that dream fulfilled.

Miguel Ruiz says the human being is a master in the art of dreaming. Of course, our liberation depends on the initial recognition that we are, indeed, dreaming. On the other hand, I’ve heard Adyashanti say that he would certainly rather associate with advanced egoic behavior than its opposite. And of course, there's the absolute query of who is really dreaming.


Forty-five years ago, Martin Luther King, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, now famously said that he had a dream for all God's children to be free at last. Today is a day in which that personal dream becomes part of the collective dream, in that universal and inexorable movement to become no dream but self-realized.

Set within absolute reality, what happens today at noon is mere illusion. We know that truth to be self-evident. But this dream within a dream is a reflection of that bliss, that bond, between the manifest and unmanifest, and in that way it is a beautiful work of art.

In the coming years, there is no doubt that time will work its way with it, but at noon, its voice will ring across this nation, nay, this world, with the cry of a newborn, that moment when the unmanifest actually, mysteriously, amazingly, becomes manifest. And that is the thing we name love.

And it is absolutely audacious. And real.

Appreciate it like you would appreciate the greatest work of art.
Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Obamalot!

Monday, January 19, 2009

On a Sudden Feeling About Thinking

Suddenly it came to me tonight, that guiding my conscious action through universal flow by paying attention to my intuition and all signs actually means more than surrendering all belief in thought. It means surrendering thought itself. Too often in an attempt to listen to intuition, I end up analyzing it with thought, which is a little like listening to music with my eyes.

I came across (in the flow we call the web) this by Gina Lake on the subject:
The egoic mind has difficulty seeing the flow in events because it is usually too busy planning for some future event or ruminating about the past. The need to do something arises out of the flow and the ego takes it on as its personal mission. Using the past as a guide and other information it has gathered for how it will proceed, it creates a plan for action. It decides exactly how and when it will do it, not realizing that the flow already has a plan. The ego assumes a plan is needed and that providing it is its job.

The ego doesn’t perceive that anything worthwhile is coming out of the flow. It discounts or disregards many of the insights, solutions, and urges to act that arise from essence. It assumes that it is the only player here, and it convinces you of this too.

It even seems this way because the flow’s timing is not what the ego would like. The flow has its own timing, which is not revealed before it happens. The ego assumes it needs to take control of life because it often seems like nothing is happening, and it is very unhappy with that. Almost anything seems better than that. The ego is at odds with the natural ebb and flow of life, and it pushes and tries to make life conform to its schedule. It is impatient with life as it is.

The flow has a plan, which unlike the egoic mind’s, will bring you the life you are meant for, but you don’t know what that plan is until it is time for you to know. The good news is that you don’t need to know before you do. The egoic mind wants to, of course, because knowing helps it feel safe, but you don’t really need a plan. You just need to wait for the next step to be revealed. There is nothing you need to figure out, although the egoic mind will not be convinced of this. Your job is just to give your attention to what is and allow the flow to show you what it wants next from you.

When you are in the flow, you are a responsive instrument of essence. You respond to the urges, inspiration, and knowing that come out of the flow. For this, you need minimal thinking. Far more important than thinking is listening because it puts you in a receptive state. Listening brings you into the flow, while thinking takes you out of it.

~Gina Lake from 'Return to Essence'
This feels exactly right, and I can tell you from my current life situation how difficult is is sometimes to reign in the egoic need for Something To Happen, and especially for not knowing the Timing of the flow, yet still Trusting in it. In many ways, this is where the rubber of awakening meets the road of the dream. You can almost smell the mind burning.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

something undefined

Foggy Metaphysics

We see nothing; we call it fog.
Of course it’s something—we see
the fog. But what we cannot see
we cannot name. And so we call
it fog. Yet behind the fog is something

If one is careless one will see
what one just wants to see. Or one
will say it’s nothing. But it’s not—
it’s something else. It’s something that
is near, that waits there in the mist
for you to strike it. Then, you’ll see.

Son River 2005

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Robert Adams Has a Dream

The answer is, sages do dream sometimes, and have visions. But they're aware of the dreamer. In other words, they realize that they are not the person dreaming or having the vision. But as long as there's a body there someplace, there will be dreams and visions. Even though there's no one home, there will still, once in a while, be a dream or a vision.

But this morning for the first time, I had a very interesting vision, which I'll share with you again. I dreamt I was somewhere in an open field, a beautiful field. There was a lake nearby, trees, a forest. And I was sitting under a tree, in this open field. And I had on the orange garb of a renunciate. I must have been a Buddhist.

All of a sudden, hundreds of bodhisattvas and mahasattvas come from the forest and start walking toward me. And they all sit down in a semicircle around me, in meditation. And I wondered what I was doing. Then I realized that I had become the Buddha. And we all sat in silence for about three hours. Then one of the bodhisattvas got up and asked a question. He said, "Master, what is your teaching?" It was not in English. I don't know what language he spoke. But I understood it quite clearly. And without hesitation I said, "I teach Self-realization of Noble Wisdom." And he sat down. We sat for about another three hours in silence, and then another bodhisattva got up and asked a question. "Master, how can you tell when one is close to Self-realization? How can you tell one is about to become Self-realized? How does one tell?"

I gave four principles, which I really never do in the waking state. I never have a teaching. But I was giving a teaching, so I'll share it with you. I explained four principles, where you know that you're close to Self realization. Of course, we're all Self-realized already.

(1) I understand, I feel, I perceive, that everything, everything-and emphasize the second everything-is a manifestation of my mind.
(2) I feel and understand deeply, that I am unborn, I do not prevail, and I do not disappear.
(3) I feel and understand the egolessness of everything, of all creation.
(4) I have a deep understanding of what Self-realization is by what it is not.
~Robert Adams in 'Silence of the Heart [extremely edited by myself]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reflecting on this World

1.16 “The world you see is nothing but a reflection of reality. Reflection cannot be true.”

...Reality is absolute awareness, but it cannot perceive itself because it is One. In order for the absolute knowledge even to know that it exists, it must manifest itself and become two. The world is the mirror that the Absolute holds up in order to see Itself. The reflection has no existence in itself. This act of manifestation is the creation of duality, and in duality, the whole world appears.
~Andrew Vernon from 'You are He: Commentaries on the Teaching of Sri Ranjit'

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How I Slipped, Fell Down, and Found My Mind

Cup of coffee in one hand and a bag with a bagel in the other, I stepped up on the snow bank, careful to place my boot in the deepening impression made my many other previous boots, and prepared to unlock my car door with the remote, when my boot began to slip and my balance began quickly to go unsteady.

That’s when my mind left its thoughts and went into the body, attempting at first to stop the fall, and when that became a futile effort, using the body’s right arm and shoulder and even the side of its head to lessen the impact of a body falling from a height of two feet almost head-first onto pavement and the side of a car.

After the fall, nothing was broken, but quite a bit hurt. My body sat up from the ground where it now lay. My mind returned to thought, but not all of it. What had returned was trying to respond to two good Samaritans who were asking if I was alright. They both were trying to get me on my feet. But my mind had not completely returned to thought; much of it was assessing the bodily damage and beginning the process of repairing things.

So I suggested to them that I just stay there sitting, waiting for more of the mind to return. What had returned was chagrined that the coffee had completely spilled and the bagel was now underneath the car. The things it thinks! It also was recognizing a stream of coffee headed for my blue jeans. Bad enough there was dirt and coffee all over them as well as the jacket. The body would have to rise.

At first, thoughts looked for another cup of coffee. Hazily, I entered the Starbucks, and stood, ready to wait in a long line. But more of my mind was returning. This is crazy, it thought. Time to get in that car, return home, and assess the injuries with some thought. And so I did.

Now that was quite a mundane story of an everyday New England circumstance in the dead of winter and snow. But there are some things, I think, to take note. First is the way the mind will leave its thoughts when under an immediate external threat. Second is the way it slowly returns to thought, leaving much of itself in the body taking care of that business. This is what we call the state of shock. Mine, of course, was an extremely mild one. Those with one more severe will be barely capable of thought, if at all. I was quite hazy myself.

Thought should be quite the luxury for the mind, something that it does only when the immediacy of the moment does not require its attention. Unfortunately the mind gets lost in thought, like a child in a toy shop, and it stays way past closing. The result is some ungodly contraption made out of the legos of thought and ego thought. The truth is that the mind should be completely conscious of the present most of the time, and enjoy thought in its leisure, or in strategic moments.

It was a mind lost in thought that led to the initial slip of the boot. Only when the balance of things had shifted did the mind return to the moment. There was practically no thought involved. Probably none. But now it can type this assessment of what happened. It can see the need for a better allocation of its resources. Meanwhile, my intuition is reviewing the signs around this fall. All it knows at this time: it’s not returning to that Starbucks until the coast appears clear. I had lost almost a whole cup last week to some outward contamination.

Something is afoot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Spiritual Diet for the New Year

Ram Dass speaks of offering this prayer of sacrifice before each meal.

First comes the understanding that my food is actually Spirit, or as he says, Brahman, and not the matter that my mind has come to think of it.

Second comes the understanding that I am feeding it to the fire (desire) of hunger which is Spirit also.

Third is the recognition that I am actually not feeding it into the fire, but Spirit feeds the fire.

Lastly is the understanding that the food is an offering for Spirit.

Hence, Spirit is feeding Spirit to the fires of Spirit in an offering to Spirit.

In other words, nothing is happening at all. For all is illusion.

No one is eating anything: this may be the best diet program ever!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Buddha on Osore-san

B u d d h a

In the middle of a secret basin filled with ash stands a great granite Buddha, maybe forty feet high from the base of its massive pedestal to the top of its sculptured head. But it’s not actually a Buddha, but Ksitigarbha, or as he is known in Japan, Jizo, known to have said, “Not until the hells are emptied will I become a Buddha; not until all beings are saved will I certify to Bodhi.” He is especially the guardian of children and the stillborn. And this is the land where he performs his great compassionate work. The surrounding hillside appears like a great green amphitheater and a natural refuge. I have walked alone into this sanctuary. No one else is here with me. There's no one in my line of sight at all—all alone in this enigmatic world with this innocent face of compassion, peace, serenity, and love.

great granite visionary
rising from the embers
addressing the earth in green

from my recent book, 'An Other Road Into the Heartland: Going After Basho, Buddha, and Japan'

Sunday, January 11, 2009

That Leads Me to This One

Metrics of Hawks and Me

Ten hawks pass overhead
in random order, just
a temporary sum,
a magnitude that must
decline if hawks are true
to being hawks. A few

will start to separate
in circles like a cell
dividing from itself
itself, in parallel
geometries of chance,
a reckoned elegance

that leads me to this one
experience of flight.
Much later, on a peak
of granite, I will sight
a single hawk below
and measure vertigo.

~Son Rivers 2004

Friday, January 9, 2009

Twelve Truths

My reintroduction into the world of spirituality, after some preparation in the world of American Indian teachings, was Don Miguel Ruiz. Since he comes out of the South American Indian tradition, it was a natural intermediary for me. His exposition was simple and direct, but eye-opening, as if I had always known this truth, but needed this reminder.

Since then, I’ve traveled forward through Eckhart Tolle, Anthony DeMello, Gurdjieff, Christian Sacred Wisdom, Adyashanti, Robert Adams, Sailor Bob and Neo-Advaita, all the way to Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and finally back to the ancient truths of the Bhagavad Gita and even further back to the crystalline and wondrous Upanishads. And I’m sure I’ve left out several others as well.

Still, when I look back at Ruiz and what I learned, I realize that his teachings still hold true. I am very grateful to his presence, and thank the universe for leading me to his books. This posting is just another note of gratitude. There can never be enough of those.

I recently reviewed my summary of his teaching which I had written for my own use, and still see its truth. His teaching is a perfect elementary introduction for seekers. Personally, I needed to locate the sources, get to the ultimate truth of the self and Self, but in many ways, one could do no better than be where I began.

The Twelve Truths of Don Miguel Ruiz

Three Pre-Conditions
-The original sin is belief in the lies of knowledge (thought).
-I was domesticated into this knowledge and its main lie of my imperfection.
-All human suffering is caused by believing in these lies.

Two Current Situations
-With knowledge I am dreaming my virtual reality.
-I only know the stories (dreams) I create about others and myself, but I mistakenly believe them as Truth.

Four Resolutions
-Don't believe myself or anyone else, but just listen in the event something rings true.
-Feel the reality of my emotions, and pay attention to their source: especially the lies I believe causing suffering.
-Pray and perform rituals to recover my faith which has been invested in these lies.
-Practice the Four Agreements and take Action:
   ~be impeccable with my word, for my word is my dream
   ~don’t take things personally, for that is their dream and this is mine
   ~don’t make assumptions; these only lead to lies
   ~always do my best, for my best conscious action will quiet the voice of knowledge

Three Directions
-Create my second dream by loving What I am.
-I am the ecstatic force of Life, the great mystery that cannot be described by words or knowledge, but only known directly.
-Tell my new story with the silent voice of Spirit.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Laughing at Erroneous Reality

In the dream, we think all things are steady. Not that motion isn’t seen or granted actuality. Despite Zeno’s Paradox, we move from point to point. Furthermore, we see the waters fall and feel the winds blow, to the wildest appearances of whirlpools and hurricanes. Yet these movements are merely relative to the steadiness we know to be all around.

But quantum physics tells us otherwise. All the world is energy and all the men and women too. Everything is always in motion. Quarks are spinning everywhere and always. But from our limited perspective of thought, it all appears relatively stable. Ha!

But as you fade away into true consciousness, as your self recedes into Self, two curious things are revealed. First, the world you once thought as stable now appears as manifestly unstable, transient, and variable. The world spins so fast as to become illusion.

But more importantly, it is now understood that Consciousness, Spirit, or Self, is more than steady, more than stable. In truth, it is fixed to the point of omnipresence. At first it feels like the pole star around which the world is whirling. But then you come to understand the world is actually spinning within it, like the echo of some great laugh in the depths of an infinite canyon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Parker River Wildlife Story

I watched two harrier hawks reacting over territory. It was like two chemicals exploding in a froth of flight. There was nothing personal within their actions other than the story my mind wanted to create. But I have learned not to believe such thoughts and so I watched two harrier hawks simply reacting over territory. Even that is story. We call them hawks. We call it territory.

Yesterday I saw a rabbit bounding across the road before me as I was driving through the wildlife refuge. My first reaction was to smile and laugh. Such a cute animal running in that signature style. But that’s some story I’ve learned from the Disneyesque interpretations of nature. The rabbit is reacting to open territory and an instinctual biological understanding of hazards to its current manifestation.

Of course, beyond this personality, I am that hawk, I am that rabbit. American Indians understood these truths very well. In their tribal races, the Hopi do not run in competition with another. They run because they are one with the wind and they are returning to its nature.

Oh, they tell stories too. Their stories lend personality traits to coyotes and ravens and eagles as well. But it’s not a matter of personification in their tales. It’s not the animal that has the human trait. Rather it’s the human that has the animal trait. It’s all about a point of view.

We see similarities between ourselves and nature because we are more than similar in essence. Today I was those hawks; yesterday I was that rabbit. Although both were and continue to be now. Flying is happening in Consciousness. Running is happening. Wind is.

And it’s an amazing manifestation of variety and creativity. One just can’t help to tell its, our, story.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Triangulating the Dream

Triangulation is a proven way of locating an unknown point. Therefore, it’s useful in spirituality, where not only is the point unknown, but can never be known with the mind.

The Hindu speak of the Ultimate as Sat-Chit-Ananda, or Being, Consciousness, Bliss. It’s not either of them, of course, nor is it just a combination of the three. But they are three pointers used to aim from different locations towards a position within their center.

In this way, I have attempted to define Conscious Dreaming for my own purposes. Many speak to the fact that life is an illusion, or a dream. When that is understood, life, or the dream, remains to be lived.

This involves Surrender, Attention, Guidance

The first pointer is Surrender. To this effect, Adyashanti calls spirituality a surrender game. To triangulate this point itself, I see three modes of surrender. There is surrendering belief in all thought. There is surrendering one’s own personality and ego, or the fact that there’s any doer. And then there is surrendering all doing itself.

The second pointer is Attention. First, listen to your intuition, your insights, your sixth sense (not your thoughts). Second, listen and look for external signs, influence, synchronicities. Lastly, be open to revelation.

The third pointer is Guidance. Some would call this action, but since there’s no doing and no doer, I prefer to use this expression. First, act as if you’re acting, while going with the flow. And second and third, to quote Van Morrison, don’t push the river, but don’t pull any punches.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thoreau the Yogi

It's not surprising that a copy of the Bhagavad Gita was in that hut at Walden. Thoreau was one of my first spiritual teachers, although I wasn’t aware of that fact. I knew him to be telling truths that were irrefutable although impractical in the real world. Of course, now I understand why. It turns out the world as I knew it wasn’t real at all. Or myself, for that matter. In a way, he was transmitting the truths of Yoga, and I was struggling with the beginnings of self-inquiry.
The ascetic mystical love of nature that brought Thoreau to Walden Pond gave him access to the central teaching of the Gita. He perceived the discipline of living in nature as a path leading toward self-knowledge and spiritual realization. He writes in his journal in 1841:
One may discover the root of a Hindoo religion in his own private history when in the silent intervals of the day or night, he does sometimes inflict on himself like austerities with stern satisfaction.
In Walden he emphatically states "My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles.” Walden was for Thoreau a spiritual retreat where he strove to deepen his understanding of his existence and through this understanding to gain release from the terrible bondage of life's compelling illusions. In Indian terms it was the retreat of a yogi who carefully practiced spiritual discipline. In a letter of 1849 to his friend H.G.O. Blake, he wrote about yoga and its private meaning for him:
"Free in this world as the birds in the air disengaged from every kind of chains those who practice the yoga gather in Brahma the certain fruits of their works.

Depend upon it that rude and careless as I am I would fain practice the yoga faithfully.

"The yogi absorbed in contemplation contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume he hears wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him with- out tearing him and united to the nature which is proper to him he goes, he acts, as animating original matter"

To some extent and at rare intervals
even I am a yogi.
~Barbara Stoler Miller from 'Why Did Henry David Thoreau Take the Bhagavad-Gita to Walden Pond'

Sunday, January 4, 2009

To Continental Christ

Reel Self

I desired the sea today;
I needed fourteen miles of vision.
Low clouds were pressing pines along
the river with emotional weight.
The ocean didn’t feel a thing.
I felt the mist of lost Atlantis
there and heard a foghorn speak
behind closed doors. Each distant island
was a word, an opening
to continental Christ ascending
from the lobster trap of thoughts
beneath ten thousand years of night.
I saw a boat become a wave
and then its wake become the light.

~Son Rivers 04-May-2008

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Rose is Doing is Grace is a Rose

“You need to keep moving, to keep asking the questions. ‘Who am I? Where did I come from? What happens to me when I die?’ Keep banging your head against the wall. Make up your mind you're going to find the Truth regardless of what it takes, even if it costs you your life. You must be prepared to die for this, if necessary--then you'll get somewhere."


"But so much of this is out of our control," I said. "We’re born with certain..."

"Right, right," he interrupted. "But you still have to work like it all depended on you."


"That's one side of the equation--persistence. The one you have control over. The other side is grace. A person on the path has help. Once a person makes a commitment to the Truth--I mean truly demonstrates a sincere desire to find his Real Self at all cost--then this commitment will attract assistance and protection. Opportunities arise. Blocks are removed. Decisions may even be made for you."

My thoughts were incoherent and confused but I couldn’t stop asking questions. "But who...? What makes these decisions? I mean, where does this help...?"

"I won't presume to name it. All I’m saying is that there are levels of intelligence that help other levels of intelligence. There is an interpenetration of dimensions. But you can't count on this help or get too secure in the knowledge that it's there. Just when you think you need it most, it will desert you and leave you to suffer the ‘dark night of the soul,’ as John of the Cross calls it. Because despair is necessary. Despair is part of the final formula for cracking the head. You have to maintain a state of between-ness the whole time. Because no matter how hard you push, in actuality, you can't change your being. You're being is changed for you.

"Then, I mean, what’s a person supposed to be doing while..."

"You can’t do it yourself but you have to act as though you can," Rose said, interrupting me. "Action is everything. Everyone has to plot his own road map out of ignorance, and this requires planning. You have to establish an internal 'Ways and Means Committee.' Call on all your faculties--the senses, logic, intuition, memory, emotions--to come up with a plan of action. Then take the first steps in the plan. Start with little things, like coming to these meetings regularly if your intuition tells you this is where you should be. Then build on it, take more action, plan your next steps. Follow the threads and clues you stumble on.

"It’s difficult, but not complex. The path to Truth only seems complex because we have to navigate the complexities and interferences of the mind. As these interferences are removed, the path becomes simpler. That’s why one of the first things you need to do is get your house in order. Get your life organized to the point where you can at least think. Take an honest look at your life to see what's holding you up. Maybe it's fear, or an appetite, or a habit that no one else would consider destructive--and maybe it isn't destructive, except to the search.

"Once you figure out what the blockages are, you start taking steps to remove them. Then, as each obsession falls away, you get more clarity and confidence. Not only that, you now have the use of the energy you used to burn up on those obsessions.

"Start to cultivate self-discipline. Become a person who can make a decision and carry it out. Set yourself a task and follow through with it. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular. I've advised people to just take a walk around the block every evening after dinner. Literally, just walk once around the block each night. Do that simple thing for one month and you'll have power. Power you can use to take the next step.

(snip snip snip)

"But that's my point," the man continued. "If Enlightenment is indeed an accident, why should we try to work for it?"

"You have no choice," Rose replied, his voice rising. "You become what you do. If you do nothing, you become nothing. And so you work. Work without knowing why you’re working. Without even understanding what you're working for. You just want an answer and you know it won’t come if you surrender to lethargy and despair.

"It’s true--the Absolute Answer comes as an accident. But it's an accident that is the result of work. Work that makes the sum and extent of your entire life your prayer for the answer. And if that prayer is persistent and sincere enough, maybe you'll develop into someone who becomes accident prone.
Richard Rose as transcribed by David Gold in 'After The Absolute: The Inner Teachings of Richard Rose' (ch. 5, The Path)
available online

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's Superego!

In my readings to date, Gangaji’s discussion of the ego in relation to the superego is quite unique, and a great window onto the strategies of the mind to regain control and in turn command the world of spirituality itself.
Your superego is a simulation of authority designed to control your ego. It is based on feedback from others in your life.


If there is an ambition to be egoless, it is a red flag. What is wrong with the ego? Who has a problem with the ego? Does awareness have a problem with the ego? Only the superego has a problem with the ego, and it is a huge problem. The superego wants to control the ego.


Another interesting twist in the recognition of the superego is that if the superego is engaged in battle with the ego, it will definitely win. It is designed to win because it has "God" on its side. It is the authority. Whatever measly little arguments the ego can throw up, the superego will win, case closed. The impulse to listen to and be beaten by the superego is huge, but the willingness to stop and see what is under it will reveal the reality of the spaciousness beyond all faces of the superego. Then you will see that the superego is just sound and fury, signifying nothing but conditioned learning.


In recognizing the tendency of the superego to dominate the ego, without then having to establish a super-superego, you can simply welcome ego with its ambition and needs. In this moment, you can welcome them all--ego, superego, internal and external illusion-into the limitless consciousness that you truly are. Then you can experience yourself as a very limited human being with limited propensities.

~Gangaji from 'The Diamond in your Pocket'

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year’s Story

A Blissful New Year to One and All!:
This is what he discovered: Everything in existence is a manifestation of the one living being we call God. Everything is God. And he came to the conclusion that human perception is merely light perceiving light. He also saw that matter is a mirror—everything is a mirror that reflects light and creates images of that light—and the world of illusion, the Dream, is just like smoke which doesn't allow us to see what we really are. "The real us is pure love, pure light," he said.

This realization changed his life. Once he knew what he really was, he looked around at other humans and the rest of nature, and he was amazed at what he saw. He saw himself in everything—in every human, in every animal, in every tree, in the water, in the rain, in the clouds, in the earth. And he saw that Life mixed the tonal and the nagual in different ways to create billions of manifestations of Life.

In those few moments he comprehended everything. He was very excited, and his heart was filled with peace. He could hardly wait to tell his people what he had discovered. But there were no words to explain it. He tried to tell others, but they could not understand. They could see that he had changed, that something beautiful was radiating from his eyes and his voice. They noticed that he no longer had judgment about anything or anyone. He was no longer like anyone else.

He could understand everyone very well, but no one could understand him. They believed that he was an incarnation of God, and he smiled when he heard this and he said, "It is true. I am God. But you are also God. We are the same, you and I. We are images of light. We are God." But they still did not understand him.

He had discovered that he was a mirror for the rest of the people, a mirror in which he could see himself. "Everyone is a mirror," he said. He saw himself in everyone, but nobody saw him as themself. And he realized that everyone was dreaming, but without awareness, without knowing what they really are. They couldn't see him as themselves because there was a wall of fog or smoke between the mirrors. And that wall of fog was made by the interpretation of images of light—the Dream of humans.

Then he knew that he would soon forget all that he had learned. He wanted to remember all that he had learned. He wanted to remember all the visions he had had, so he decided to call himself the Smokey Mirror, so that he would always know that matter is a mirror and the smoke in-between keeps us from knowing what we are. He said, "I am the Smokey Mirror, because I am looking at myself in all of you, but we don't recognize each other because of the smoke in-between us. That smoke is the Dream, and the mirror is you, the dreamer."
~Don Miguel Ruiz in 'The Four Agreements'