A Tree Grows in Dorset

tree wingsActually, lots of trees grow in Dorset—England is a very green and beautiful place. But this particular tree sprouted only a few nights ago, and it may well be the first of its kind. This is a tree of freedom. A tree of safety for all.

••

Here’s one way of describing the human condition: Each of us lives in our own little fairytale cottage, and all of these cottages are set in a beautiful forest. We all deeply love the forest. Our ancient family roots are there.

But we’re each sealed up in our own little house. There’s no door to the outside. And the windows are coated with the grime of 10,000 years, so no light gets in. We long for a view of the forest, our true ancestral home—but we can’t see a damn thing out those windows.

So we spend all our time looking through magazines, tearing out beautiful pictures of forests instead. And then we tape them up over the windows and pretend the view is real. When those images yellow with age, we tape new ones over top.

It’s just what we do.

And yet it doesn’t satisfy. Magazine pictures don’t smell like a forest. Birds don’t make their home in them. Putting up pictures (an activity designed to alleviate the ache of homesickness) actually makes the pain worse.

I got bored with putting up pictures long ago. I wanted to be able to see the forest outside my window. So over the past few decades I’ve been persistently clawing away at the crackly, yellowed scotch tape that holds those magazine pictures in place. Layer after layer, the old faded pictures were removed. Every so often I would take a break from this activity, and run to a different window—the one in my office, say—and put a new picture up.

It’s a habit that’s very deeply ingrained. It took some concentration and effort to learn how to stop doing it.

In recent years, most of my windows were now no longer covered with magazine images. There was still sticky goo from mountains of ancient Scotch tape around the edges, and a few torn corner fragments still remained here and there. But the false pictures themselves had mostly been taken down.

This didn’t mean I was then able to see the forest outside. All I saw was the impenetrable grime that caused me to put up pretty pictures to cover it up in the first place.

So now I was severely bummed out by the view. Poor me. All that hard work for nothing. My windows were so dark and ugly, and I was no nearer my goal of seeing what was outside. Seemingly.

But of course that wasn’t true. The decision to stop wallpapering over the grime is itself a huge step in the right direction. Taking down old pictures is a necessary start. But what now? I looked around at all my grimy windows and sat down on the floor in a puddle of tears. After I stopped sobbing (a year or two later) I looked up to notice a beautiful, luminous, heavenly gift had been quietly placed by my side.

It was a mop and a bucket.

The window grime was my own. I put it there, and I was the only one who—with divine help—could remove it. It was time, clearly, to get busy and clean my own damn windows.

A funny thing happens when you start to clean your own windows. Even though you’re focused on washing the window glass, the outlines of a door start to automatically appear all by themselves, over there where only a blank wall had been before.

The door was always there. You just couldn’t see it, for all the shmutz on the windows. The light was just too dim.

••

So all this talk about grimy windows (and reappearing doors) is all well and good…but what does that actually mean, to clean your own windows? What does that look like in practical terms, and why bother doing it?

First off, this is why it’s important to attend to one’s own grimy windows before doing anything else: If the world outside my window seems to fall off its collective bicycle—yep we’re introducing yet another metaphor into the mix—gashing its knee and howling with shock and pain, it’s my own wound that actually needs attention first.

I won’t be able to correctly perceive anything about the world’s so-called knee injury unless I’m willing to address my own throbbing knee, right where I am. Because in truth I wouldn’t be seeing a bike wreck in the first place, if I hadn’t first pasted a picture of it on my grimy window. It’s me who needs the paramedics.

Those of us who want a clear window view, bless our hearts, we tend to try and scrub down the outsides of the windows first. Fix the problems we see ‘out there.’ But we’re not on the outside, so we can’t get at them. Besides, in truth the outsides of the windows are sparkling clean. They just look dirty from in here.

Everything depends on cleared perception. Because as long as my windows are grimy and covered with magazine pages, all I’m actually looking at is a picture of a bike accident.

But as my own injured knee responds to my loving attention and care, I’ll be better able to recognize what (if any) action should be taken to help heal the ongoing bicycle mishap that seems to be happening out there. Until my own knee is attended to, outward efforts to fix the pain of others don’t mean a damn thing. Not really.

So I’ve been patiently cleaning my own windows first. Taking responsibility for the distorted lens through which I view myself and my world. And here’s what that means:

I’ve been welcoming in my own stuff, my own uncomfortable baggage. Not necessarily to try and fix it. I invite it in so I can accept it, just as it is right now. All that stuff I dislike about myself—the stuff I judge, the stuff that brings me pain, fear and frustration—I’m not suppressing it, or wallpapering over it anymore.

I’m not fighting with it or denying it. I’m letting all those discarded, rejected bits of myself come back and be seamlessly reintegrated as newly remembered, newly loved and respected parts of my one indivisible self.

I’m cleaning and kissing that infected gash on my own knee, as it were, before even trying to bandage the giant, collectively wounded knee I seem to see out the window. And ever since I started doing that—instead of focusing my attention on the wreck outside—the changes have been profound.

••

It dawned on me not long ago, in one of those spectacularly mundane DUH moments, that instead of working hard to get my own needs met first, and only then helping all others—my spiritual and worldly method of operation up until this point—I could simply focus on meeting the needs of all beings, for the highest good of all.

Why? Because ‘all beings’ includes me. (DUH.)

When the highest good of all is my firm intention, my own highest and best needs for safety, survival, love and all the rest of it, are automatically met—just as everybody else’s are. Not only that… my own life is bound to be that much safer and more beautiful if everybody in it is happy and released from pain, too. Right?

So why wouldn’t I choose to live in this way? What the hell took me so long?

••

A few nights ago I was reflecting on the whole idea of fear. Recognizing that it all boils down to a simple desire for safety. All those terrible things we do, all the awful effects out in the world, are really just cries in the dark. We all just want to feel safe. I just want to feel safe.

And all of a sudden, a shaft of very clear light shone through one of my less grimy windows. And I realized: I can do something about that. For the highest good of all—and therefore for myself.

On behalf of all beings, I open myself to receive the fearful anxieties and terrified emotions of the entire world. All of the pain and misperception, all of the naked hunger for peace and safe harbor—including my own. Bring it. I welcome it all gladly. And let a heavenly recycling plant operate as me, through me, allowing all universal pain and fear to be dissolved, transformed and purified within. And let my smokestacks belch infinite pristine peace and healing back out into the world, for all eternity.

And you know what? When I set that intention, when I agreed to stop screwing around inside the cottage, and finally try my hand at stepping out the door to take on my true job description…my own remaining fears and anxieties melted away. And for that moment at least, I experienced myself as not only being outside in the forest—I was the forest itself.

I am the forest.

Or at least, in practical terms, I’m a single tree—quietly absorbing the world’s pain and fear, and allowing heaven’s divine essence to perfume the atmosphere via my branches, leaves and flowers.

Imagine what the world might be like if lots of people were doing that same thing.

I’m not actually ‘doing’ anything, by the way. It’s all done for me, through me. As me. My only job is to let the process take place. And that’s amazingly easy to do. It’s only the decision to do it, that seems so ridiculously hard.

The world can use a few million-billion more of this kind of tree. Don’t you think?

So let every day be Arbor Day. And if you feel inspired, consider this your invitation to come on outside and rediscover the forest. Smell the fresh air. Dance in the sunlight. And maybe decide to be the fantastically beautiful tree of divinity you were always born to be. For everybody’s sake. For the highest good of all—which definitely includes your own.

— Carrie is the author of 3 books. Her latest, Tastes Like God, will be released July 30, 2015.

WAKING UP. SMELLING THE COFFEE.

love me some coffeeThere’s been a lot of talk among God’s students lately about food’s perfect innocence. How it’s neither good nor bad for you, how it doesn’t make you thin or fat, sick or healthy. How (like every other aspect of this 3-D illusion), food is entirely neutral. That I’m the one who gives it all the meaning it has for me. If I say it’s fattening, in other words, then it is. If I say it’ll make me sick—or well—then it will.

I get it in principle. I’ll bet many of us do.

Well, forget the theoretical realm. I decided to test it out for real. And I had just the perfect test subject in mind:  Lately coffee disagrees with me in a big way. And you know how I love my morning coffee. That sexy siren scent wafts in from the kitchen and I either give in and have a cup—and then spend the morning wishing I hadn’t—or I deny myself a cup and spend the morning wishing I had.

So it was a perfect test candidate, then.

Today I wanted a cup, but decided to check in first to see if it was a good idea or not. It’s the first time I ever asked for internal divine wisdom beforehand, instead of just making the decision unilaterally.  The few times I tested this food innocence business in the past, I made my choice to eat or drink something, then after that I asked my Highest Self to be present with me while I ate or drank it.  Then I ate or drank consciously, together with Spirit, giving it my best attempt to enjoy those foods I thought were bad for me.  Doing my best to let them be neutral while I consumed them.

My results were always inconclusive.

•                •                 •

Today, when I checked in prior to pouring the coffee, I got schooled on how it’s really done:

By drinking coffee with your digestive tract in its current state, worldly laws indicate you will suffer for it.

 If you want to experience no ill effect from this coffee, you must withdraw all belief from your self-created universe of hate and rage (which is the only power that upholds worldly laws), and place FULL trust in me. Through me, you will be able to see and feel the coffee’s true innocence. Not a concept of innocence, as your thinking mind would generate, but a true knowing of its innocence.

I silently agreed to withdraw all belief from worldly laws, and to lean into holy truth instead.

The coffee is neutral. Do you feel this?

“Yes.”

Good. In its neutrality, the love of God shines through it.

I saw that the moment my beliefs about it were released, the coffee’s true God-nature was revealed: It was lovely, gently radiant in its ineffable holiness.

Now look at your stomach and digestive system. They, too, are perfectly neutral. They, too, are suffused with God. More than suffused, actually. They are composed of the God Self, as is the coffee in its cup. As is the cup.

 Can you feel your wholeness, dear one? All is the God Self. In this knowledge (which is always felt, and never intellectualized through the thinking mind), nothing in this world can ever harm you. You are just pretending to shuffle bits of your God Self from one spot to the next. It’s all you. It’s all equally innocent and harmless, and it all cherishes the infinite perfection that you really are.

I relaxed into the profound safety and joy of this simple truth. My world shimmered with God-awareness.

Now, in this peaceful certainty that coffee is your own love shining its holiness, you can temporarily reunite it with a dream of a 3-D digestive system which is also shining its holy God Self. By resting in this truth, coffee can have no ill effects. Nor could it ever want to. It has been reminded of its own perfect innocence in you. It has been liberated, dear one, and welcomed back into the one holy Self.

The awareness of divine gentleness, love and safety has persisted all morning, coloring every aspect of my perception.  And oh my, that cup of coffee went down easy.

I think I’ll have another.

WHEN IS A BACKLASH NOT A BACKLASH?


Rooster Crowing at Dawn --- Image by © G. Baden/zefa/CorbisBack in the day – say, 5 or 6 years ago – it seemed that every time I got on a spiritual roll, every time I felt big breakthroughs in wisdom, trust, love or peace, I knew this wonderful sense of expansion would come only as the first half of a 2-part cycle: I could expect an inevitable ego crash shortly afterward. You could set your clocks by it; a dreadfully fuzzed-out period of lethargic contraction that would arrive right on the heels of all that glory, every time, as night follows day.

2 weeks of confusion, stagnation, depression and/or ‘spiritual amnesia,’ of the sort where one actually forgets both the original breakthrough and the beautiful clarity that accompanied it. I’d watch that slo-mo wave of sickly ego backlash rising up to engulf me, and feel utterly powerless to stop it. After all, what goes up must come down, right? And who am I to mess with Newtonian physics?

•          •          •

Thankfully, after several years of deepening spiritual maturity, the 2-week ego crashes are no more. These days it’s more like a very occasional few hours of temporary insanity. But regardless of the duration or frequency, I see these egoic backlashes in a very different light, nowadays.

Now, they’re interesting opportunities.

•          •          •

Lately, as I’ve traveled the world and stayed in homes and accommodations not my own, I’ve noticed how very narrow my tolerances are when it comes to bodily comfort: Heat vs cold; light vs darkness. Too dirty or too clean (oh yes, there is such a thing as excessive cleanliness.)

How just a few degrees one way or the other can make or ruin my experience. How European daylight at 4am is so much harder than Californian daybreak at 6.

And don’t even get me started on the topic of plumbing. Talk about narrow comfort preferences! I really had no idea just how high-maintenance I really am.

So I’m noticing very keenly how much energy and effort are spent trying to keep the body comfortable and the personal preferences satisfied. Full time job, really. And the reason I’m noticing it so acutely is because lately these tolerances and preferences of mine have been taking a beating. Bigtime.

All of this observation of my own brittle needs and preferences occurs against a backdrop of huge recent leaps toward spiritual freedom: I’ve been happily getting my mind blown and perceptions shattered – yes, again! – by the Way of Mastery series of books and videos. They’re a pointblank invitation to ‘stop being a spiritual seeker, and start being a spiritual finder.’

They present a stark challenge to just get on with it: You say you want the fully awakened, 100% embodied experience of knowing yourself as One with Heaven? Then start right now. This minute. And here’s how to do it.

Because our Creative power is unlimited (even if we don’t yet recognize or believe that fact) it turns out we can actually just decide to reach out and start creating a bridge between our current state of limited egoic perception, and the limitless vastness of perfect Reality. Just like that. We can start that bridge-building process anytime we want, just with the power of fully committed choice.

(In my last post I talked about relinquishing the quest for enlightenment, releasing the identity of the perpetual spiritual seeker. It’s one of those paradoxical things; it seems it was a necessary prerequisite for me to release the “goal” of future enlightenment, before I could seriously entertain this next exploration – right now — into that which is already here.)

So in my exploration, I discovered that right now I’m just exactly strong enough and sane enough at this point to sincerely give bridge-building a try; not just theoretically, but actually.

But not actually sane or strong enough to ease into that practice gracefully. Because of course it includes a vow of 100% commitment to want the peace of God instead of all else. In every circumstance, in every moment of every day, no matter what.

I was only sane enough to go for the committed vow. And that’s pretty darn good all things considered – even a couple of months ago I doubt I’d have been able to get that far.

But honestly, between you and me, my follow through leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Speaking of follow through – and ego backlashes – a mere couple of days after making this electrifying leap into active bridge-building, Steve and I left England (where scarves and woolens had been the order of the day) and headed for California, Land of the Record-Breaking Heat Wave. Along with the blistering temperatures came a change of habitat so uncomfortable, so opposite my preferences in nearly every way that it gave my ego permission to do its worst.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m incredibly grateful to have this house for the next couple of weeks. The home’s owner very generously bailed me out of a jam, an awkward period of time where I needed to be available locally for business but had nowhere to stay. This is peak tourist season, so there was, quite literally, no room at the inn.

This lovely friend has been remarkably patient, kind and accommodating. In fact, she cleared her family out of this house and went on vacation so that the place would be available for me to rent during the days of my visit. I’m incredibly blessed, all in all, and I know it.

But. (Ready for some churlish ingratitude? Here goes…)

The heat and jet lag threw a party and invited the rooster that lives next door. The one that crows nearly every hour of the day and night. And added to all this, the caretaking duties of this temporary rental include looking after a gaggle of willfully incontinent pets. Willfully. Incontinent. Pets.

Are you starting to get the picture? After 24 hours of this, my ego was feeling really, really justified in letting it rip.

 

Virtually everybody has that tipping point. That moment where it seems fully justified and natural to unleash the hounds and let the ego run roughshod as it chooses. For some the tipping point can be a very small big deal; like maybe when the waiter screws up the coffee order and brings caf instead of decaf.

For others with far deeper reserves of peace and tranquility, it might take a tsunami or other epic disaster to rock their boat and give the ego mind an excuse to take over and reinterpret the story for awhile.

Regardless of where a person falls on that scale, nearly everybody has a point where the story is no longer neutral; where it isn’t merely difficult to want to forgive…it’s more like the event is so jarringly unpleasant that all ideas of forgiveness fly right out the window.

External events decree that it’s time to misbehave, the ego says. And as it’s decreed, then so it is.

In my case, that means it’s time to wallow in unhappiness, to muck around in spiritual amnesia and get utterly lost inside the story of my own discomfort and unmet needs.

And that’s where I was for a good 8 hours, the other day.

•          •          •

In the old days, I’d have called this an ego crash, an inevitable ‘course correction’ that I was powerless to stop. And I’d have waited it out, feebly offering snippets of helplessly unfocused prayer and meditation. And then eventually the momentum would shift and a more comfortable, more recognizable degree of sanity would return.

But I recognize something quite different is afoot now.

Here I am, vowing to start consciously choosing the reality of Heaven above all else. And what do I get as an immediate response?

Not an ego crash – unless I choose to see it that way…in which case that’ll be exactly what it is: a 2 week diversion steeped in pain and lethargy. But no, this is no ego crash. It’s not my ego mind devising a punishment, nor is it an attempt to stall my momentum. This circumstance has been presented to me as an act of purest Love.

My vow to want Heaven above all else has been duly noted. And my own highest Self has helpfully, lovingly arranged the perfect mix of off-kilter circumstances designed to push me off my foundation and press all buttons at once, so I can see firsthand where my weakness lies. The places where I’m still hanging onto those pesky blocks to Love.

Because I won’t be living the 24/7 experience of Heaven anytime soon, if I get rattled when a cat knocks a lamp on my head at 2am – twice – and then a rooster crows me awake an hour later. Because if I’m rattled, that means I’m choosing that story instead of the peace of God.

A 100% vow means the willing relinquishment of ALL tipping points.

Even the really big ones. Even the really petty ones. That vow is a specific request to set in motion the necessary training to be able to view all worldly events as equally neutral; equally meaningless in the face of perfect Heavenly joy.

And I want that training. I really do.

So actually, I’m pretty damned incredibly lucky for the customized curriculum. And I’ve been walking around with an odd feeling of tingly joy and unspeakable gratitude, mixed, of course, with clammy sweat and general sleep deprivation.

Life, my friends, is good. It’s just the 3-D living of it that sometimes sucks.

God, I’m dripping. Is it too early, do you think, for another shower?

 

 

 

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENCE


Lately I’ve been happier and far more peaceful than ever before in my life.

Of course, that’s not saying a lot.

From day one, I’ve always had far more heart-thumping, grindingly antsy anxiety running through my veins, than actual blood.

Mind you, it’s about a thousand times better now than when I first began my spiritual journey. But (as anybody on a similar path knows), when this painful ego stuff gradually begins to clear and sanity is strengthened, the crap that remains becomes seen in ever-sharper focus. And it’s that clear-eyed perception that makes the remaining bullshit far more acutely unpleasant than the dull, unfocused ache of the old days.

•          •          •

In recent months, Holy Presence has become the basis of my spiritual practice. This form of present moment awareness is very unlike the earlier ‘now moment’ flirtations I’ve tried through meditation, or chanting, or stopping to smell the roses, or whatnot. This is a sort of up-close-and-personal, in-your-face form of presence. A vast and muscular and very Loving presence.

Back in May, I embarked on Michael Brown’s Presence Process, a ten-week breathwork course that emphasizes consistent morning and evening periods of sustained presence. In the book, he describes these steady, prolonged periods of present moment awareness as being very different from the usual spiritual practices that are meant to put us in touch with the now moment.

He says it’s the difference between visiting an old friend often for a cup of tea, (and assuming you know their house well because you’ve stopped by so many times) and actually agreeing to house sit for a few weeks. Suddenly you’re in this house by yourself for a prolonged stay, and you have all the time in the world to notice the hundreds of things about it that you’ve never seen before.

So I did the breathing, in presence, as prescribed. And I started to notice something right away that I’d never realized: Presence has a distinct vibration.

At first I thought it was just a ringing in my ears caused by the super-oxygenation of the breathwork.

But no.

Presence is a living thing; it has a mind of its own – and it comes calling for me whenever it wants my attention. My ears become filled with its unmistakable ‘sound,’ and I am gently reminded to withdraw my focus, my belief, from whatever silly ego story I’ve sucked myself into at the moment.

This has been a lasting effect of my presence and breathwork explorations, and I’m delighted to say that the phenomenon seems to be growing more pronounced all the time.

I wish I could find words to describe for you what I’ve found inside the ‘house’ of Presence, now that I spent those ten weeks house sitting. But truly, it enters that sacred realm where words can’t go.

It isn’t just that Presence has an intellect. Presence is Holy.

Presence is not only where Spirit dwells, the now moment seems to be made out of Spirit. And vice versa.

And I know…I can feel…that if I could just manage to spend quality time hanging out in Holy Presence, entirely nonresistant to it, then this experience itself would be Heaven on earth.

(See? I told you, words are fumbly nuisances here. But I’m doing my best.)

And so it has become my practice to melt gratefully into Holy Presence, and sit there non-resisting. And to try to string together as many moments of that experience as I possibly can, before my chattery ego mind slips away and drags me someplace else.

It’s sort of a combo of intensely focused present moment awareness, and a joining pool exercise. (If you’re unfamiliar with the joining pool, see The Enlightenment Project, page 141.) Except this is the funny thing – and here comes the failure of words, again: I’ve discovered that true present moment awareness IS a joining pool exercise.

So there you go — it’s the best description I can come up with. If you’ve managed to make any sense out of what I’ve written here, and feel inspired to try this Presence practice for yourself, I highly recommend it.

•          •          •

Anyway, the benefits of it are wonderful and many, including a gentle, ever-unfolding clarity.

The other day I was snugged up in my cozy English digs. It was cold and blustery outside, but I was sitting warm by the fire with my hot tea and Afghan throw, the Christmas lights a-twinkling. And I noticed I was truly happier, more peaceful and more free than I’ve ever felt before.

And then Presence came gently calling. And I was very softly pulled into it, taking me several layers deeper than usual. I adjusted my focus accordingly, and as I did it, I could see that at this more buried level I was actually seething with anxiety.

This was a profound antsiness, a thorough dissatisfaction with myself, for sitting by the fire with a mug of tea instead of using the moment more productively. I should be writing a book or something, shouldn’t I?

This dissatisfaction, this self-criticism runs so deep in me that at its lower levels I’m completely blind to it because it seems so much like what my world is constructed out of. It’s the lens through which I view and experience my 3-D reality, so I would ordinarily never back up enough to notice it as a stand-alone thing – just a lens, not reality itself.

But here’s the great thing: Unlike the old days when I believed in the anxiety message through and through, I knew this present moment was perfect and Holy, exactly as it was. And nothing at all was required of me right then, except to relax and allow it to just be.

It was kind of a startling moment of worlds colliding. But thanks to the reassurance and Love emanating from the ongoing song of Presence that was playing so sweetly in my ears, I took the time to examine that old buried ghost story of anxiety very carefully. And I saw it had no relevance here. So I made the conscious choice to relax and melt my habitually anxious worldview into present moment peace instead.

•          •          •

I’ve been experimenting with this very delicately ever since. And I find its effect has been equally profound, no matter what the present moment happens to hold.

A couple of days ago, we went on an outing to the lovely city of Bath to do some Christmas shopping. I had a client phonecall scheduled for 7:00pm (to accommodate the 8 hours difference between England and California), so there should have been plenty of time to shop and get back before then.

But as we all piled in the van to head for home, we discovered the roads were seized up in absolutely stupendous gridlock — which they specialize in, in these ancient cities where cars and traffic are always a patchwork afterthought.

A half hour went by and we hadn’t moved more than a car length or two. And suddenly the hours of extra padding between me and my client call didn’t seem quite so cushiony. And I had no way of contacting them to let them know I might miss the call.

This should have been a prime recipe for anxiety, but it wasn’t. Presence was in my ears, and I was steeped in the profound peace of this-here-now. And I knew the client call would either happen, or I would apologize when I got home, and reschedule.

The folks in the front seat started up a game to pass the time: What’s your version of paradise? Where would you be right now if you could have anything in the world?

I had to really think and think. But when my turn came, my mind was blank.

Because honestly, this moment was already it.

Stuck in traffic in the back of a van. Nothing could have been more glorious than that.

 

So on this day of Christmas Eve, dearest friend, I wish you peace, and happiness, and freedom.

And most of all, I wish you Holy Presence.

 

If you ask, shall ye receive?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

As an author, I occasionally get requests for free books from folks who like my writings but can’t afford the luxury of buying them. Usually they ask for used or damaged copies – but of course I don’t have any of those. It’s not like bookstores mail their rejects back to me personally; that’s not how it works.

And authors don’t get free copies of their own books. (Even when the author also owns the publishing house, as is the case with my second book, The Enlightenment Project. My cost for that book, before shipping, is something like $4.80 apiece.)

With shipping factored in, it’s more like $9.00. Really, it would almost be easier for me to buy the book on Amazon and have it sent to the recipient instead.

So if I’m filled with love for humanity on the day the request comes in, I might decide to ship a book. Or I might not. I play it by ear.

• • •

So a few weeks back, I received a letter from a woman in India. A very sweet letter, asking for used or damaged copies of The Enlightenment Project. She said she and her community are hungry to learn about enlightenment, and eager to grow in wisdom. But they can’t afford to buy books.

I didn’t know what to make of the letter at first. All the people I know in India speak English better than I do; this letter was clearly from someone for whom English is a second language.

And so I wondered: Is this really a woman in India who wants to learn more about nonduality? Or is it some kid in a Nigerian internet café, who is testing out a peculiar new scam aimed at authors?

Not that the Nigerian angle made any sense, of course – let’s face it, it would take an awful lot of work to make a buck off a self-published spiritual author no one’s heard of. But this is where my mind went at first.

(Hey, it’s an enlightenment project. Clearly I still have a ways to go, in that department.)

I felt no immediate inspiration to ship books to the other side of the world, but didn’t want to reject the request either… just in case it was legitimate. So I handed over the question to Spirit: What would you have me do here?

At first I received no answer. But a few nights later, I was idly flipping channels and stumbled onto a charming documentary on HBO called The Sound of Mumbai, about a group of impoverished kids who perform a one-night-only concert of The Sound of Music at a world-famous Mumbai concert hall.

It was funny and sweet, and ultimately heartbreaking, as (spoiler alert!) nothing changes in the lives of those kids after the one glorious performance is over.

Afterward, as I was lying in bed, I felt a deep kinship with those kids. They were very real to me, they had all come very much alive. And their hopes and dreams mattered every bit as much to me as those of my nearby friends and neighbors.

And a sort of a whoosh of wordless realization struck me: This was my answer from Spirit. My sweet, gentle answer, set to Rogers & Hammerstein lyrics.

So I’ll be sending books to India. Possibly a whole bunch of books, because I’ve been inspired to ask for help from my FaceBook friends in this endeavor, and the generous response has been very heartwarming.

And special thanks in all of this, to my dearest Little Brother, Ananta Garg, for offering to cover import duties and handle distribution from the other end, once the books have been shipped.

I’m truly blessed. And, oddly enough, feeling like the richest lady in all the world. Funny how that works.

If you happen to feel inspired to join me in helping to start a very informal lending library someplace in Gujarat State, here’s what I’m looking for:

2 copies (new or used) of each of the following books:

The Disappearance of the Universe ~ by Gary Renard
Your Immortal Reality ~ by Gary Renard
The Power of Now ~ by Eckhart Tolle
A Course in Miracles
The End of Your World ~ by Adyashanti
Falling Into Grace ~ by Adyashanti
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire ~ by Deepak Chopra
Take Me to Truth ~ by Nouk Sanchez & Tomas Vieira
The Universe is a Dream ~ by Alex Marchand

And any other clear, easy to read favorite books you may have, on the general topic of Oneness.

Contact me here and let me know if you’re inspired to send books. You can mail them to me (I’ll provide a PO box address for that) and I’ll send them on to India.

Thanks in advance, and much love to you!

Sincerely,
The richest lady in the whole damn world

The Lois Lane Syndrome

I’ve often been asked to describe what happens when I “channel” Spirit. But channeling is not what I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to nudge my ego mind aside and make room for Spirit to come through instead of me. But that’s a talent I don’t have.

I’m just a listener—and then afterward I report on what I hear. I would describe my role in this as being kind of like Lois Lane: Through no virtue of my own, I seem to have acquired an ongoing, daily relationship with a mysterious Friend much greater than myself.

A Friend who feeds me wonderfully accurate information to write about. A Friend who cares only for my happiness. (A Friend who also shows up to save the day, every time my foolish, impetuous ego mind gets me into a jam.)

Like Lois, my only “talent,” if indeed I have one, is that I’m a plucky, intrepid sleuth. Whenever my Friend gives me a hot tip to follow, I’ll track it all the way down to its source—and then I’ll share what I’ve learned with interested readers everywhere.

What can I say, the whole analogy makes me laugh: Carrie Triffet, Girl Reporter.

•            •            •

But Lois Lane makes for a useful analogy in another, more universal way.

Because really, we’re all a bit like Lois: Every single one of us has the same great Friend with us at all times. This Friend loves us all equally, and shows each of us infinite compassion and patience. It wants only our happiness, and wishes us to know its Friendship as it truly is.

But, like Lois, we never seem able to recognize the true identity of this most dear Friend.

Why? Because it’s wearing those ridiculous glasses.

Now, let’s be honest. We all willingly choose to be fooled by this laughably thin disguise. We could easily see through it if we really wanted to. But we don’t really want to. We love the fantasy that our super Friend is something entirely separate from poor old Clark Kent, and we don’t want to see they’re One and the same.

The truth is this: Every single one of us is that wonderful Friend. Just as every single one of us is also mild-mannered Clark Kent. And evil genius Lex Luthor, for that matter. Whatever flimsy disguises we may seem to be wearing on the surface, the truth is each one of us is infinitely loved and loving. Each is equally innocent of crime. We just don’t look like it at first glance.

See, our eyesight isn’t so good.

But if you squint very hard and ask for help from that wondrous Friend, you’ll begin to notice all those Clarks and Lexes and Loises are actually united in the same holy perfection. Which, not coincidentally, is all part of your holy perfection, and mine.

Working to see the holy perfection in the people around us strengthens our true vision. Maybe soon that’ll help us ditch those eyeglasses once and for all.

And then—who knows? We might develop some x-ray vision of our own, and finally see past all surface appearances to behold the shining, eternal truth of Oneness that lies beyond.

I pledge allegiance to…what, exactly?

Awhile back I wrote about pledging allegiance to Love. About making the choice to side with spiritual truth (even though spiritual truth still mostly feels like abstract theory). And against this 3-D world of illusion (even though the workings of the 3-D world still seem so real).

Well. I suppose the decision to choose is a start. But it isn’t much more than that.

Oh, it felt big at the time. But the decision itself only opened a door. And that doorway gave me my first clear view of the road ahead: It’s a hell of a vista.

•         •         •

Mind you, it’s been a long journey of discovery just getting this far. I would use this analogy to describe it:

It’s like it took me 20 years to realize I had feet and hands. Another year or so figuring out how they worked. Then I was given a pair of one-pound weights, so I spent a few years more teaching myself how to exercise with them.

Much self-congratulation accompanied all this progress. Who was more serious than I, about waking up to the truth of all reality? Who was moving more purposefully down their chosen path toward the constant awareness of Love’s presence?

I exercised faithfully, except when I was too busy. Or too tired. Or too distracted. Or not in the mood. When I wasn’t training, I spent my time watching daytime soaps and eating deep-fried Twinkies. And yet I genuinely wondered why the Olympic Committee never came calling…

All this newfound fitness has allowed me to climb steadily and ever higher, pausing every few steps to admire the valley below and to celebrate having made it this far. Now I’ve finally reached the top of the hill … and it turns out this is just the bunny slope.

I look up for the first time, and notice the commitment to truth that is yet to be honored. You remember…the commitment I made to choose Love instead of the world’s dark fantasies. Yep, it’s still there waiting patiently for me.

It turns out this commitment is a friggin’ mountain, and it goes straight up. My puny muscles are laughably unfit for the task.

•         •         •

It’s an uncomfortable place to be, this small spot at the top of the bunny slope. The truth is, I hate aerobic exercise, and I’m still damned fond of those Twinkies. Learning to mountain climb doesn’t sound like much fun to a flabby couch potato like me.

And yet.

Heading back down the hill – giving up the quest for awakening, and going back to treating the 3-D world as if it’s real – that would be unthinkable. Not an option.

I’m awake enough to smell what the 3-D world is made of, and it stinks.

No, I could never go back. But on the other hand, I can’t stand still in this spot on this hill forever. Hell, I don’t even want to stand here one more day.

So I guess that leaves me only one choice, and I’d better start seriously gathering my strength.

Because that mountain isn’t going to climb itself.

The quandary

You know how it is when you discover a band with a fresh, new sound – you love their catchy pop hooks, and you can’t wait for their second CD to come out. And then the CD finally arrives, and it’s filled with Chinese orphans reciting classical 12th Century poetry, all set to a backdrop of modern, atonal compositions for viola and flute.

And you think: What the hell?

It’s nice that you guys are following your muse…but couldn’t you do it while sounding the same as you did before?

•            •            •

If I treated writing as a career, I’d be sorely tempted to apply everything I know about product development and marketing. I’d look at what makes my first book connect with readers, and I’d give them more of that.

I’m well aware the first two thirds of Long Time No See appeals to a wide audience. That’s the part of the book that reads something like an older, wiser Eat/Pray/Love. And I could’ve stayed in that vein, and gotten mainstream success.

But in that final third of Long Time No See, instead of meeting a hunky stranger in a tropical paradise, my story dives into the single-minded search for non-dual truth of all existence.

Not really bestseller material. Yet it was by no means an accident; the story went exactly where it was guided to go.

And so Long Time No See is embraced by a much smaller (and much different) audience than it might have been. And that’s as it should be.

But now, as I prepare to release my second book – and yes, it’s chock full of Chinese orphans and atonal compositions – I’m pretty sure most of the small audience that loved all parts of Long Time No See will be disappointed by the dearth of catchy pop hooks.

Yes, it’s still funny. There’s still a healthy dose of pop-cultural snark. And I personally think it’s my best work to date. But The Enlightenment Project shines a steady, unblinking light on some areas usually left shrouded in shadows, and that’s not going to be a very comfortable sensation for many readers.

I think I might lose almost everybody who’s been with me so far.

And I do apologize for that. But here’s the thing. My writing is a chronicle of my spiritual life – and my spiritual life is a fluid, ongoing progression; it only flows in one direction. There’s no going back.

I write because I feel guided to share the things I’m experiencing right now. And if I didn’t feel that inner spiritual prompt to share these things, I’d keep them to myself. I wouldn’t be writing at all.

By the time a book comes out, I’ve already moved on. I’ve already grown and deepened my understanding beyond what’s shared in the book. This was true of Long Time No See, and it’s definitely true of The Enlightenment Project.

Who the hell knows what the book after The Enlightenment Project will be like. Just a bunch of blank pages, maybe. One atonal poem from the Chinese orphan within.

And in my mind’s eye, I semi-peacefully watch as my readership grows ever narrower, dwindling finally to one, and then none…

Or so it seems to me. But it’s in the hands of Spirit now, so I guess we’ll all find out together whether I’m wrong about that.

I pledge allegiance to Love

Funny, how you can hear something said a hundred times, and you think you get it. You think you know exactly what it means.

And then, one day you hear the same statement, and POW! It ignites a flame, a knowing, in your heart. And you realize you had no friggin’ idea, those other hundred times.

It’s an occupational hazard, especially in the spiritual arena. We hear about spiritual truth all the time: We’re all One. This 3-D world is not real. Only Love is real.

Blah, blah, blah. We get ‘truth fatigue.’  We hear it, and it sounds just like the truth we heard last week and the week before that. And so we tune it out. We’re not really hearing it at all.

Well, that’s part of the issue, anyway. The other part is that authentic spiritual truth is entirely beyond words – so the words that describe the truth don’t actually mean much of anything. They mostly exist so our ego minds can latch onto them and assure us we already know what they mean because we’ve heard them so many times before. Which is SO not true.

• • •

Anyway, I recently finished writing my next book, and the time came to ask the lovely Nouk Sanchez to write an afterword. Which she did. And it was wonderful.

Nouk is an amazingly gifted teacher, both in person and in written form. She’s a treasure. But Nouk’s writing (in its raw state) is…how shall I say it…a bit wordy.

I typically polish my own books until they gleam. I edit the hell out of every page, making sure each word fulfills a beautiful purpose. And if it doesn’t, it’s outta there. I’m kind of obsessive about it.

Yet I’ve never edited another person’s work as stringently as I edit my own. When I collaborate with others on blogs or whatnot, I normally try to change their writing as little as possible. I just fix grammar, punctuation and that sort of thing, letting the original character come through almost entirely.

But this was my book we were talking about. My Spirit-inspired, year-long labor of love. No wandering sentences allowed.

Yes, I wanted a beautifully edited afterword that fit in seamlessly with the rest of the book, but I didn’t want my own bossy, obsessive ego to be in charge of the editing process. And I was having a bit of a quandary about that. How to do justice to Nouk’s piece, and my book at the same time?

I wanted to be able to find the ideal afterword within the pages she had written – carefully sculpting away the excess like Michelangelo chipping marble to reveal the masterpiece already present within the hunk of stone.

Hey, I’m good, but I ain’t no Michelangelo. So I did the only reasonable thing: After much prayer, I surrendered the entire thing to Spirit, and let an Editor far greater than me take over.

And the editing became a light, joyful process. And I ended up with a piece that was perfect for my book, while staying true to Nouk’s intention. And that’s not why I’m telling you about it.

This is what I really wanted to tell you: All of that prayer and surrender allowed me to open up to my higher Self and let the editing decisions flow from divine inspiration. But, surprisingly, the same phenomenon also happened in reverse: By being so open while I worked on Nouk’s piece, I was able to absorb what she was saying with my heart instead of my head.

I’d heard her say it many times before: We have to choose. There’s only One truth. That truth is composed of 100% divine Love, and nothing else; we say we believe this, but our actual 3-D experience shows us the opposite. When daily life is showing us disease, unhappiness, lack, or any form of conflict… what is that? It sure as hell isn’t divine Love. Yet we accept this dichotomy.

If reality is Love and only Love, what makes us think a second reality made out of Love’s opposite could ever co-exist side by side with the only reality there is? Two opposing realities absolutely cannot co-exist. It’s Love, or it’s the ego’s delusional version of reality.

SO WHICH IS IT? Put up or shut up – a choice has to be made.

And I heard it. For the first time, I heard that there’s a definitive choice to be made. Right now. By me.  And I chose Love.

That means every time I’m faced with proof of Love’s opposite here in the 3-D world (no matter how convincing it seems), I stop and reaffirm my commitment to the only truth there is: I choose Love. Which has no opposite. And I pause to focus all of my intention on this choice until I feel its truth.

Has this choice caused me to permanently see the world through the lens of pure divine Love? Of course it hasn’t; not yet, anyway. I haven’t been able to choose Love consistently with all parts of my mind united. My ego mind is still very much in the picture.

But hey, it’s a start.

The road less traveled

I’ve been planning the cover for the next book, The Enlightenment Project. After viewing dozens of shots of empty roads in lonesome landscapes, I chose an image of the Southwest. An empty highway heading toward some red rock formations.

I could’ve picked any background shot but this is the one that spoke to me, the one that seemed to best hint of the “road” to enlightenment.

Today I got an email from Fran (of InnerVision 12 fame), she was poking around on my website to see what was new, and commented that she loves the computerized image of Monument Valley.

At first I had no idea what she was referring to. And then I just started to laugh.

A few years ago, she and I took off together and did a 5-day InnerVision journey throughout the 4 corners of the Southwest. Lots of mind-boggling spiritual experiences in lots of locations like Spider Rock, Mexican Hat and Valley of the Gods.

But the one place I HATED was Monument Valley. I expected to love it, of course. Who doesn’t love Monument Valley? But it creeped me out, and I thought it was hideously ugly.

To me, it looked strip-mined. A ruined wasteland.

In Fran’s words, “Monument Valley is a powerful energetic reminder of truth. It represents  ‘in your face, here I am, no apologies’ presence… It holds a message of ‘stand raw and naked, hidden by nothing.’ Just as the monuments themselves do.”

Well no wonder I hated it.

Fran commented at the time that my extreme negative reaction to the energy of Monument Valley clearly represented something in myself that I’d have to face sooner or later.

I said yeah, whatever, and we headed for the next powerful site. I never looked back.

Pretty funny, then, that I singled out this photo to describe my own journey.

Even funnier: Fran tells me there is no such bright, shiny highway. Somebody photoshopped it in.

And both of these things seem very appropriate. The discomfort I originally felt in Monument Valley was due to very deep fears I hadn’t yet faced in my own life. This book is all about uncovering and facing those fears.

And the fact that the road I picture doesn’t actually exist …

Well, that’s perfect.  What could be a more accurate way to talk about enlightenment?