Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Round 2

{This is a continuation of the last blog I posted (We Are One).}

So, the second question was:

If we are so out-of-sync with reality (our unity consciousness, our oneness), then what can we do to change?

This is a difficult question to answer because I am not somebody who actually lives a life in accordance to what I believe we must do to change. My mind intellectually understands the ultimate Truth of oneness, but on an everyday basis, I fall prey to my own ego and get into interpersonal battles of control, judgment, dishonesty, unhappiness, blaming, victimization, and overall the acts that feed our false ideas of separateness. That has to be said first, because I can't pretend that I have mastered the answer that I am about to give. In fact, I haven't even come close, but intellectually (and at times, in my quietest, most spiritually connected moments, experientially) I have felt the answer sitting quietly within, just waiting for me to discover it.

To change this global collective pattern of deep identification with form and an even deeper denial of our unity, we have to move beyond our minds. And in our Western culture, this is a very strange thing to even touch on for a moment, because like I said before, we are sort of "pickled" in the very disease itself. We are marinating in it (the world of separateness, thinking, and doing) so much that it has become the status quo. So we are a species of people who have a sickness in the mind, which has become normalized. This is a scary notion, because if the root cause of our collective unhappiness comes from our deep belief in separateness from each other and God, and that belief is normalized, it makes it very challenging for us to bring awareness to it, and therefore step out of the cycle.

It also makes it very challenging for us to believe that we can make any change outside of what we perceive as our collective "external reality". So we literally have millions of humans fighting an internal sickness, externally instead of internally. This sickness, cannot be overcome on the external level. The corruption is on the inside. I have arguments with activists about this quite frequently. They often believe that there must be a violent, external overthrow of corporate powers via a long and bloody revolution whereby the oppressed conquers the giant, corrupt oppressor. In their thinking, the deletion of those oppressive, and overly powerful people will bring about peace and a new way of fair government.

It is true, that we may have a bloody and violent revolution. We, as a species, are actually very consistent in choosing that route. It's just that choice alone will bring us more of the same problems in the end. We are still fighting the internal problem with an external solution. We are still fighting for peace with violence. Violence does not bring peace. What we give to a problem we get in return. We give it violence, violence persists. We give it peace, peace grows. We as a species, don't have the awareness yet that we are each both the oppressor and the oppressed and if we are honest with ourselves, we know that the change of solely external factors will only bring us temporary relief. 

The revolution we are searching for so frantically, is a revolution in consciousness.

It is this internal revolution that we all seek at the core of our beings and that will change the current status quo and ultimately change the world we live in.

Humility is considered a virtue because it is the first step in ceasing blame, victimization, and judgment. When we act from a place of humility, we naturally go to oneness, because humility says, "It is me that needs a revolution. I am not blaming the big corporate powers (or anyone else for that matter) for our collective unhappiness, or for my own unhappiness. I am not blaming anyone for that. Instead, I am assuming responsibility as someone who has added to our disease, and therefore, I am taking appropriate internal action to alleviate it's propagation."

What does this mean? This means, instead of being violent, angry, depressed, anxious, and/or stressed-out external activists, we have to become what physicist, Dr. Amit Goswami calls "quantum activists" or what author Dan Millman calls "peaceful warriors". And what do these "peaceful warriors" and "quantum activists" do? They cultivate awareness through acts of various meditation and stillness in the present moment. Awareness of what? Of this moment, which naturally leads to love, humility, compassion, kindness and of course, unity consciousness. When we sit quietly with the Truth of our sickness, we no longer feel the need to blame others for how bad their sickness is. We see it the sickness in ourselves and take the time each day to connect back to Oneness, so as not to perpetuate actions that further separate us (Us vs. Them mentality).

So, this all sounds fine and dandy in theory, but like I said, I am not one who actually maintains the practice of being a "peaceful warrior" because I am still figuring out, how we cultivate such virtues in a place that's constantly bombarding us with messages that encourage the opposite.

If I were reading this, I would still have 3 big questions for me:

1. Okay, so I understand what you are saying, but HOW do we begin and maintain the practice of being a peaceful warrior or a quantum activist? How do we begin this internal revolution that you say we are seeking? 

2. The internal revolution thing sounds great, but I still don't understand how pockets of people becoming awake, peaceful, humble, and free has anything to do with the whole world becoming more awake, peaceful, humble, and free. How is my little act of internal revolution helping or changing the world? 

3. Does this mean no external change is necessary? It's all internal?

Next week, I'll work on starting to answer those 3 questions to the best of my ability and level of awareness at this time.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We Are One.

I woke up a bagillion times last night and each time I did, I had this little thought that my next blog should be about authenticity. So, here we go...

We are greatly inauthentic people, lost in the throws of consumerism, materialism, and competition. What's interesting is that the most inauthentic part about us is the actual denial of this inauthenticity.

What is reality? And if we are so inauthentic and so out-of-sync with that reality, what can we do to change?

"What is reality?" is a loaded philosophical question that nobody seems to have a firm answer to. I used to get so annoyed when the arrogant philsophy majors in my college classes would duke this question out aloud. Charles Bukowski once said,"an intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." Let's just say these guys were not artists. To me, that kind of bantor is mostly superficial in itself and actually goes against the needed peeling away of  layers to get to the goal: "reality".

So, playing "ego hockey" back and forth with somebody, using big words just for the sake of using big words and disecting each person's every thought or idea (to more often than not just prove them wrong) is far, far away from reaching anything remotely close to what reality is. Furthermore, it is also a perfect representation of a rapidly growing culture that is pickled in inauthenticity trying to get to the root of the problem with the same mind that created it. ("We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Einstein)

All that said, it is very often the solely intellectual, philosophy majors of our culture who are trying to answer this fundamental question. I am not one of those people. When faced with philosophical questions like this, my goal is always to get to the root and to eventually trust the feeling over the thinking in my mind and body. And so, after participating in three 10-day silent meditation retreats, I wrote this question on a whiteboard:

"What is the ultimate Truth?"

And underneath my answer was:

"We are one."

And then I wrote:

"What is the ultimate Reality?"

And my answer was:

"We are one."

So, the ultimate Truth is that we are all connected, so much so that we are literally of the same stuff. And the ultimate Reality gets exactly the same answer. So, nothing in "form" so to speak, is real, because by being manifested into this collective physical "reality", it is by nature, separate, which is not the Ultimate Truth or Reality.

You can argue this all day long. And we do. I do it all the time too. We get outraged by this idea.

"How can I be that person who I hate? How can I be that person who has raped, killed, or stolen? How can that be? I am much better than them. I am much kinder. I do not rape. I do not kill. I am not that ignorant. I am not that stupid. I am not that annoying. I am not that arrogant. I am not...I am not..."

The arguments go on and on. These arguments come from the UNreality itself, from the INaunthenticity itself. The very angry arguments come from a place of defense because we at the core of our beings know we are in denial of the Truth, and we are so used to being in denial of that Truth, and so afraid to let go of our world of falseness (ego), that we continue to seperate ourselves from each other more and more.

This seperation is the root of every human problem. It is why some have so much and many have so little. It is why we are afraid to be free and vulnerable. It is why we are anxious and depressed. It is why we kill each other. It is why we prove each other wrong. We are a species on the constant defense, defending our false individual selves so not to get to hurt. What we don't realize is our very defense and denial is what is causing us the most deep, collective and global pain.

So, back to the second question:

"What can we do to change?"

That will be next week's blog ;)


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Only Way Out Is IN

Phew. I'm back...but not without some serious battle wounds. The last blog I posted was on June 30th of last year and it consisted of just a picture of myself and four friends who took the plunge into starting our own collective. It's April 2nd of 2013 and even though our little community space/vege cafe is doing great, I have to be honest, I dream about writing again and creating something new, that's less stressful.

It's not that I don't love what we've done. I do. It's just that the whole process of starting a cafe and running a successful community-collective has eaten me up. I am tired in a way I have never been tired before, and amidst all the stress, I have completely lost my center. AKA, I have turned into kind of a decrepit person, with amplified old mental patterns leading me through my days. And the other four co-owners who started as friends probably wouldn't mind watching me jump off a cliff sometimes.

But what is it that's making me feel like a total crank, a deteriorating zombie, a negative Nancy, an arrogant poop, an aggressive/judgmental control-freak? When did this all start? Well, after some contemplation, I reluctantly allowed myself to realize that I've sort of always had these tendencies. It's just now, they are at an uncomfortable all-time high. Because of my freakishly overactive mind, it's often been hard for me to just be happy, without intellectualizing it, or trying to control or contemplate something to death. I have been better at just being in the past, but lately, I am totally lost in the ego, lost in the world of doing, lost in the world of form.

In most ways, I feel like this is the worst I have ever been, barely scraping bottom, trying frantically to reach the surface of the water, so I can take a gulp of air again. How did I get here? How could I be so young and so unhappy? How can there be so much suffering, when there is so much to be grateful for?

I know the answer. It's always popping up in my dreams, or haunting me at night, or nagging at me while I drive around in my car. But I am so good at ignoring it. The answer is this:

I have sold myself entirely to the world of form. And it just so happens that the world of form which we humans have successfully created together, is:


I have chosen to live and operate only in this external world of doing, and now by default feel seriously disconnected from my heart, and from the world of being, which is the only world (or reality) that can save our sad-sack species.

I know I'm being a Debbie Downer but I already told you what kind of state I'm in and it doesn't take much thought to see how sad our external world really is, even if you aren't feeling particularly shitty. Everything has been so hard, such a push. Every external system we have created is pushing against our centers of love.

-Our food and water systems are poisoned and therefore poisoning us and the planet
-Our main healthcare systems are corrupt, keeping people drugged and hypnotized, never getting to the root of the problem
-Our educational systems are failing, making competitive drones out of our youth
-Our media systems keep our minds preoccupied with innumerable advertisements so we keep filling the void with things, and competing with each other to feel good about ourselves
-Our political systems reek of dishonesty and deep, deep corruption

And it's all about money, and therefore, separation or individuality. Not love. Not community or unity. Not feeling alive or living on purpose. Not compassion. And certainly Not Happiness.

So, where do I go from here? And where do we go from here? This constricted world of form?


During a ten-day silent meditation course I took a couple years ago, I would eerily hear this line whispered to me on repeat in the disconcerting silence of the night,

"The only way out is in."
"The only way out is in."

If we want to keep trying to change this world exclusively on an external level (which is what I have been adamantly trying to do), we can. It is our own free-will. But as much as my mind wants to fight it,  my being knows it is not the external that will change first, because that is the facade.  It's the internal. We are of both the corrupt external forms and the divine internal formlessness and that formlessness is our collective consciousness, the very indescribable that unites us and leads us to our own salvation.

So I'll have to accept this intensely stressful time, full of constriction and exhaustion, and use this dreadful piece of my external life as the very leverage for me to go back inside, to unconditional love, to surrender, and to the only place where we are truly free.

I give pardon to anyone who has hurt or harmed me. 
I seek pardon from anyone I have hurt or harmed. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

War Paint & a Handmade Bow

When I first got to hold a handmade bow that took my friend Wilson over 50 hours to make, something clicked inside me. It didn’t just click in my head, but in my body and in my heart too. It felt like a zig zag design of dominoes toppled over within me. You know what I mean? It’s like when you’re in class and amidst the generally boring lecture, a gem of information surfaces and sticks. It’s a curious piece of information. Or an inspirational piece. Or a perplexing piece. 
No matter what it is, it usually feels like an eruption of awareness. And eruptions of awareness are in high demand in this sleeping world. So what was it about this bow? I’ve never been particularly interested in archery (even if Katniss Everdeen is bad-ass) but when I had it in my hand, it felt symbolic of so many other ideas. Like the ideas of sustainability, revolution, and community. Like the ideas of a new world. Like the idea that we have to be the people who create that new world, starting now. I know it seems crazy to get all this from holding a terribly cool handmade bow, but sometimes a thought hits the moment at just the right time and you get....the click.
There is an undeniable urgency surrounding our need for change, but the wisest people I know have always taught me that when we feel we must rush, we must actually slow down instead.  We have to be still. Our un-evolved minds are so used to emotionally reacting that the smartest replacement is that of intense and equanimous observation. It’s not that we should be lazy and do nothing, it’s just that it’d be best to slow down enough to become acutely aware, so as not to allow our primitive minds to make a mess even messier. In this state, we actually are capable of getting more done, more efficiently and effectively. 
So how do we address the urgency and slow down in a time of great change? I dont know. I dont know how we are going to do it, but all I can think of is this:
We have to do what we’ve put off for so long and we have to do it now. Or at least start it. Wake up in the morning and begin. Give ourselves a reason to pop up out of bed and go. Because we're going to need all of our gifts. We are going to need as many human beings as possible to tap into their inner purposes because what we’re meant to do is written in our hearts and now feels like a very sacred time for us to access that. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive, alive with the things that they were put on this Earth to do. So I guess we have to get at that and get at that fast, but when we actually go forth into the processes of  discovering our purpose, we have to move with awareness. Be with every moment. Feel present on the journey, not just obsessed with the outcome. Be with everything as it’s happening, intensely, in a state of open awareness. We're not gonna be great at it in the beginning. We're seriously out of practice. But let's try to ignore that and do it anyway. All of it. 
Take your bucket list out. Do the whole thing this year. 
Abandon the rules. 
Abandon our fears. 
Jump off the cliff. 
I promise you’ll find amazing people at the bottom. 
We’re taught that it is not possible to do so much in a short amount of time, but it is possible.  Something about surrendering to the present moment gives us a power which automatically allows us to remember that we are creators. And when we fill our days with our hearts deepest callings, dormant forces naturally come alive that move and operate beyond that which is physical or mental. It’s the god within each of us. It’s that juicy stuff about humans that none of us can explain. It’s what makes us magical; what fills us with hope in the most difficult of times.
Now is our time. This minute. Let’s make it count. 

That bow made me think of a little speech I wrote that I like to repeat to myself in the mirror : 
Go forth, and set this fucking world on fire. But notice the journey. Be with each moment. And when you slip up (and you most certainly will), don’t dwell in it. Move on. Instead, go into your room and quietly put your war paint on. Start again. And again. And again. Cultivate your community. Put a feather in your hair. I don’t care. Whatever you do, own it. Tune out the criticisms and the status quo. You are not here to perpetuate the status quo. You are here to create a new world. And don’t you forget it. We need you. 
Whatever inspires you to raise your freak flag, let that be your war song. And play that song on repeat, 
Because we will not only have to do whats in our hearts but we will also have to do it without inhibitions. Self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and shyness are byproducts of an old world. As a pioneer of the new world, go now, and push past the anxious feelings and move into the deepest, most authentic layer of yourself. There, you will find your totally unique freak flag, dusty, and just waiting to be waved high with dignity and courage. 
We need new. We need you.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

10 long days

I just got back from a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course. It is the most intense meditation course offered in the world.

No talking
No reading
No writing
No singing
No dancing
No eye contact with anyone
No physical contact with anyone
No medications or intoxicants
No dinner
No caffeine

Each day consists of 10+ hours of meditation, two meals, and about an hour long discourse given by the teacher.

You can imagine that after this kind of isolation, you come up with some interesting insights.

Here's what I have to share:

1. Pain is not an obstacle. It is an ally. We are obsessed with removing any pain as soon as it crops up in the body or mind. So much so, that we numb ourselves and continually suppress pain. Because of this, we begin to create our own diseases, both mental and physical. When we let go and allow pain to surface, we realize that it becomes a powerful ally and teacher.

As soon as we invite pain into our lives, willingly and equanimously, it loses it's power. We have confused suffering with pain. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. We suffer when we are identified with our minds and therefore unable to observe the pain objectively. At some point within deep meditation, there is a realization that the pain is actually enjoyable. The mind's reaction to pain, untamed, increases the intensity of it 10-fold which causes deep misery and suffering. This reminds me of this quote:

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become." - Buddha

2. All misery comes from resistance to the present moment. At the course, we are taught that unhappiness comes from 3 things:

1. craving - wanting for something other than what is in front of us
2. aversion - not wanting something that is in front of us
3. ignorance - not understanding either of the above two

The present moment is all there is. It is where life is beautifully unfolding in the most sacred and perfect way. But we forget because our mind's are constantly in a state of wanting to change and manipulate what just naturally is. Our teacher says because of this, we have forgotten "the art of living" which is moving in a dance-like flow with life, just as it is, not as we want it to be. How can we ever be free and happy if we are always wanting for something that is not there? The trick is to let life live you, or though you. There is a framework, but we have choice within that framework.

3. One of the main reasons we judge others is because we are afraid to be ourselves. Many of us have very deep seated issues revolving around not feeling acceptable just as we are. This is one of the primary reasons why so many people have control issues and addictions to substances. We try to constrict and numb ourselves. The byproduct of this action causes us to feel sensitive, hyperaware, moody, miserable, etc. These become emotional thought patterns that get habitually lodged within our bodies. Because of that turmoil within, there is a natural need to project this turmoil onto others and waste time talking shit, or spreading unkind words.

4. We are delicately fragile and immensely strong, simultaneously. And the deeper we go within ourselves, the more we understand that the delicate, fragile part is where our profound strength is actually born. We hold so much power inside. It is inexplicable and almost terrifying to feel.

5. Surrender & humility may be the two most important qualities to cultivate within oneself. That is, if we truly seek freedom, liberation, or salvation. We have to surrender to this moment, from a place of humility. Humility means we are in a state of awareness where we are one with all things. Here,   compassion and love are the highest forms of communication with the self and others. Those that live this way have no need to impress or overpower others. Because they realize that in doing so, they would actually be projecting their own inner insecurities outward.

6. We have to do the things that make us come alive. And do them today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next year. This life is so precious and we are always missing it because we are constantly in a state of resistance.

7. I am not even close to being a master of any of those 6 insights. But I will continue to fight out my own internal battles, with the goal of cultivating and sharing the inner strengths of my sensitive heart. Even when it's really difficult I will keep trying because I believe we can evolve and I believe the time for that collective evolution is now.

8. May all beings be happy :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I'm tired.
And not just tired like oh I need a nap. 
I'm tired, tired.

This world can be exhausting at times.
I often wonder when we will decide to live peacefully together. 
The thought weighs heavy on my mind. It even makes me cry sometimes to think of all we've struggled with as a species, all we have fought against in a constant state of resistance, mostly against ourselves.
I often wonder when we will decide to live peacefully together. 

When connection and love will be the highest priority.
When our vulnerability and differences will be wildly celebrated.
When our need to be right will mean nothing compared to our need to be kind, to ourselves first and then each other.

I'm going to selfishly vent for a second, so you can't say I didn't warn you:

I'm tired. 

Tired of our poisoned food and water systems, tired of feeling like I have to care so much about money, tired of the incessant and circuitous thoughts, tired of the empathetic pains of the injustices and monstrosities of this world.

I'm tired.

Tired of there being lists (and of course like 17 whiteboards) of all of the ideas I wish to work on surrounding me, collecting cobwebs. I don't even have to do them all, but could I find the bravery to give my full attention to at least one?

It's exhausting and frustrating to live in a world that doesn't prepare us properly to live on purpose, to live in a way that makes us come alive.


That's about all of that I can take. Jesus. So yeah, I'm tired and I felt that and I expressed that. But I'm more solution-oriented than I am a complainer.

I'm not the only one who feels tired. Most of us do. So what am I going to do about it? Sit in the familiar discomfort or plunge forward into the unknown possibilities of something better?

My mom always told me I wasn't afraid of failure. Instead, it's success that I fear.

That always reminds me of a Marianne Williamson quote (read by Nelson Mandela):

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let out own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated form our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I've always loved that quote.

Anyway, more than anything, I'm actually tired of being tired. So, I'm sure you'll be happy to hear that I'm gonna stop writing it now.

I was raised to complain as not to suppress but then to stand up, shut up and do something. And if I'd tried it 26,000 times already, I'd have to try it 26,001 today. In our house, every failure is considered hard work laid down that should be continually recognized as such.

I said earlier:

I often wonder when we will decide to live peacefully together, but it's in each of us to take the wheel and decide when we will live peacefully, authentically, and courageously with ourselves. 

We do it all inside first. That's the trick.

I want to jump off the cliff into the water below with war paint on my face and my eyes closed.

Right now, when I close my eyes and think of that image, I don't feel so tired anymore.

Time to wake up. Here's to 26,001.