Posts Tagged With: stillness

Peacemaking with Jimmy

Jimmy

 

I first registered to vote in Ft. Fairfield, Maine. I won’t say how long ago that was, but I voted for a peanut farmer who turned out to not be the most exciting president we’ve ever had, but continues to be a really great statesman and peacemaker. My vote was every bit as good of investment as was the S&K socket set I bought in nearby Presque Isle before I left Maine.  The socket set too is still serving well, although I’ve had the ratchet rebuilt once.

 

All of that is beside the point, really.  The story I started out to tell was the one about leaving northern Maine not long after the elections with a dependable, fuel-efficient car, but only $135 to my name, no credit cards and a very limited number of contacts outside of Oregon and Maine.  I had few tools aside from the shiny new socket set, a few clothes, 80 pounds of some of Maine’s finest potatoes in the trunk and a picture in my wallet of a pretty redhead who was waiting anxiously for me to get home to Oregon…I thought.  I didn’t eat much on that trip, but incredibly, I drove 4500 miles (I thought the girl could wait a couple of extra days) on that $135 and had a little left over when I arrived!  I have a few pictures from that trip, and even fewer memories, the girl hadn’t waited for me after all and a cold night somewhere along the way (it WAS Dec.!) froze the potatoes I’d hoped to share with family and friends, but it was an experience that set the tone for the rest of my life…a lesson in faith…although at that age, my faith was fairly blind! I guess it might have been more aptly referred to as “blissful ignorance!”

 

Jimmy Carter is still with us and I am still feeling blissful, but as I ready myself to head across our country once again…now the 6th time…with a less fuel-efficient vehicle, more tools, a bike, a bunch of tropical shirts, slightly more cash, $90 of credit left on my card, and no girls other than my mother waiting, I am a little less ignorant…I think.

 

Like Jimmy, I realize the world is full of turmoil and unconsciousness and I am trying to focus on what I can do to encourage peace.  My faith is no longer blind and my bliss comes not from ignorance but from the realization that the peace we all seek in right here, inside me…inside all of us.  It is our natural state!  And I know now that if we let go, get out of the way and focus on what we can do to improve the world around us, all things we need will come to us.

 

Sure, I have moments when I wonder how far I might get on the funds I have and thoughts of breaking down or getting stranded with my pile of tools and too many tropical shirts in the middle of a late spring snowstorm somewhere…but I realize too that these are only thoughts that I can choose to entertain or just laugh at and let go. I am not completely hurling myself out there without a few safety measures in place, but I am very conscious of the fact that we can never stock up enough ammunition, food, water, or money to bring real peace or security, and that our egos can go on piling up supplies and taking precautions forever and never be satisfied or secure.

 

At some point, we all must realize the only real security we have is within us.  It’s not in the stuff we gather about us, it’s not in armies, it’s not in wealth, it’s not in tools, it’s not in the pretty girls we carry pictures of in our wallets…it’s not even in learning to live sustainably!  Real security, and the peace that accompanies it, comes through learning to live in this moment, the only one we ever have, and accepting whatever form it takes…through being present.  It comes through letting go of our identification/obsession with the mind and finding the stillness that lies beyond.  In that stillness is all we will ever need….all the peace, all the bliss, all the security, all the love.  When we tap into it, problems–even the very large ones–tend to fade away.

 

I suspect Jimmy knows this. He travels the world arranging peace conferences and organizing agreements and talking politics because that’s what great statesmen do, but that’s all surface stuff.  If you stop thinking about it and sense the love and kindness that emanate from him, I think you’ll see that he carries peace with him and, like John Chapman whose interest was in apples, he plants seeds wherever he goes…and that is how we will bring peace and security to our world. He may not have been the most flamboyant president, but he’s a great leader.  I’m glad I voted for him.

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The Basics

swimminghole

Such chatter, such nonsense fills our days

What are we doing?

Where do we think we are going?

Was the world in disarray when we arrived?

Will it fall apart if we step back?

What is so important that we ignore so many signals?

How can we forget to even breathe properly?

When did we last drink enough water?

When did we last move our body?

 

 

It’s only the noise around us

that complicates,

it’s the non-stop dialogue in our head

that confuses

Still the mind, let go of opinion

The peace we seek, the answers we long for

are here…inside us

Just listen

Just let go and listen!

There is nothing to do

but serve

Be here…now,

and all things will come

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Finding Bliss

boardwalk If you read my earlier post, or even the header and tag line on this site, and already have a set of beliefs you are living by, you might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you…that you already have it all figured out and that you are reading this just to see what this crazy loon is going to come up with next!  Don’t let me scare you away, but if you are reading this, there could be a chance that something you’ve seen or read here resonates with something inside you…or in other words is something that you already know at some level.  It shouldn’t be frightening to us, but it is sometimes a shock when we first start to wake up from the dream most us exist in and remember we are more than just a mind trapped in a physical body.  Please don’t be alarmed….there is nothing new here.  There is no intent here to plant strange ideas in your mind and somehow lead you away from whatever path you are on. The only purpose for this writing is to help us (myself included!) remember where that path leads, and to help us focus not on the pointing finger, but on that to which the finger is pointing…to our natural state, and bliss

How do we know we are more than simply minds trapped in bodies?  Ask yourself this;  How do you know that everything you can experience with your senses is temporary?…that all this around us, including these bodies, will soon pass?  What is the basis from which you judge these things to be temporary?  One of my favorite authors/teachers suggests that if the entire world were blue, we would not recognize the color blue.  We perceive the universe as being a universe of contrast where there is an opposite for everything…at least everything that can be named—darkness/light, hot/cold, dry/wet, misery/bliss, etc.  If we haven’t experienced cold, we can’t recognize warmth; if we haven’t experienced darkness, we can’t see light; if we haven’t suffered, we can’t experience bliss;  and if something in us isn’t eternal, we would have no understanding of temporal.  The idea that some part of us is “not of this world” is the basis of every religion and/or spiritual path that exists and the “common ground” from which these words are coming.

We humans are of many different shapes, colors, backgrounds and beliefs, but one thing we have in common (with a few exceptions) is that we all have minds with which we are strongly identified.  One of life’s greatest ironies is that we are joined by (among other things) the existence of our minds and at the same time separated by our identification with our minds.  That separation, from each other, from nature and from our true selves, is the source of every “problem” that we perceive.  On the flip side, the solutions to our problems (personal and global) lay in the dissolving of that sense of separateness and realizing our unity…our oneness.  How do we accomplish this?  Since the same “force” (which is referred to using many names) animates everything and everyone on earth, we should be able to sense and connect with it anywhere, in anyone at any time, but because the active mind and our identification with it is a very effective screen obscuring our perception of this force, we are challenged with the task of going beyond the mind; a task which can only be accomplished through quieting the mind…finding the off switch.

The discussion of where this is all leading may appear to be very philosophical and complicated, but the means of getting there are very simple; so simple in fact, they are often overlooked or laughed off.  If they aren’t laughed at, they are sometimes shunned out of fear.  We are all familiar with the adage, “An idle mind is the playground of the devil” which comes up often when the subject of quieting the mind is broached.  However, an idle mind is an unfocused mind that could latch onto any thought that might drift through whereas a quiet mind is totally focused and (ideally) free of thought altogether.  The good news is that everything stated here is immediately verifiable, and you don’t have to even “google it!”  Finding the off switch to your mind can be accomplished by simply swinging your focus to something the mind can’t wrap itself around…like your own breath.   The breath is no thing…it simply is.  How can you describe it?  We can talk about the rate of it, the depth of it, the force of it, we can hold it for a short time and otherwise exercise some minimal control over it, but we can’t really describe it…yet it gives us life.  One conscious breath is all that is needed to begin opening the hole in the flute that you represent—“conscious” suggesting that your awareness is focused on whatever the subject is.  Test it now!

If you are not presently engaged in some activity that requires sight, close your eyes.  It is helpful to sit, but you can try this in any position at any time.  Take a deep breath through your nose and focus on the flow of the air passing in through your nostrils.  Note how it feels as the air passes through the hairs in your nostrils, how your chest and abdomen rise as the lungs fill, how it flows out effortlessly, passing back through your nostrils as the chest relaxes and then notice the slight pause at the end of the exhale before the cycle is repeated.  Go ahead…try it now!  If you’re so inclined, try focusing on several breaths…. I’ll wait.

 Well?  Did the world grind to a halt while you were away?  Did you lose your mind?  Did evil thoughts come flooding into your mind like dirt into a vacuum?  My guess is that it wasn’t a bad experience at all for you…in fact it might have been a fairly pleasant one!  If you were comfortable with this, start now doing it whenever you think about it…whenever you become aware that your mind is running wild again and desire even a moment of stillness.  It is an incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating exercise.  Don’t worry about or be watching for something to happen, simply enjoy the stillness.  When the mind drifts away, which it will very quickly at first, gently swing your focus back to your breath…again and again.  If you do this regularly through out the day…while sitting in traffic going to work, sitting at your desk, while walking, etc….you will gradually become more and more aware of what is going on in your mind most of the time, and you may notice that you are feeling less stressed and anxious.  Congratulations!  You have located the off switch to your mind and survived its activation!  Doesn’t it feel great?!!  The peace you seek has begun with you!

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