Recipe Cards (Part Two)

A long time ago, I asked myself what contribution I could make to the world, something that no other human being would likely do.  I was a devotée of Ken Wilber, a spiritual writer.  For decades, Wilber has attempted to integrate spiritual approaches, to create a structure that would honour them all.  He devised a system of quadrants, lines and stages of development.

Well … if it’s good enough for Ken, it’s good enough for me!  I would take a different slant, however.  I would scour through all these books I owned and find nuggets of wisdom that “sang” to me.  Then I’d write them down.  No singing, no writing.

I started to create categories of wisdom.  Certainly “Love” would be included.  I ended up calling them “Transformational Subjects”.  After composing a list of these subjects, I gave them each a number, alphabetically from 1 to 1000.  I numbered by 5’s: 1, 5, 10, 15 …  When a new topic came to mind, there was lots of room for new numbers.

Why did I start doing this, you ask?  My vision was that if great minds had a profound sentence to say about “Peace”, and I accumulated what I considered wisdom from many sources, the whole would be infinitely greater than the sum of the parts.  “Peace” would shine in previously unimagined glory.

There were years I worked hard on this, and years I didn’t.  Random slips of paper became Day-Timer sheets, and eventually recipe cards.  I bought more books written by a wide variety of spiritual authors.  I found the shining nuggets, and I entered them on little white rectangles.  I refined my categories.

Finally the question came: “What am I going to with all this?”  How are people going to see this huge collection of ideas and musings?  Will I be in deep do-do because I have no idea who said what?  Is some author going to sue me?  So I did what any abnormal human being would do.  I hired a lawyer to research copyright regulations.  Several hundred dollars later, I received the good news that as long as I included a disclaimer at the beginning, saying that I had no intention to steal anyone’s words, and that I wouldn’t be making any money from this, I’d be okay.  The omnibus would be online only, so if any author objected to me sharing their thoughts, I could remove them quickly.

That’s my story up until a little while ago.  Stay tuned.  Oh … and here’s one of my category pages:

Love Math

It all starts with love.  I figure that human beings can grapple with the toughest problems if they first sense the unity we share, if each of us is willing to look into the other person’s eyes and see divinity there.  Without that prior sense of being together, our efforts to problem-solve, conflict-resolve, and peace-make will come to naught.  The gap between us will remain a bridge too far.  So … let’s see what we can create with love as its centerpiece.

***

I mostly find math boring but there are certain equations that get my heart a-fluttering:

Love + Pain = Compassion

There are times when we gaze into another’s eyes and see tears welling up.  The pain may be physical, emotional or even spiritual.  All three are real.  Maybe it’s about failing at something, or another person being mean, or a loved one dying.  We know what it’s like.  We’ve been there.  It hurts.

How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong … because someday in life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

Love + Happiness = Joy

Sometimes the face we behold is alight with the glory of God.  The person is bubbling with the good news that’s come their way.  A promotion, a newborn, a task well undertaken and completed.  The joy in response is not a given.  Some of us refuse to celebrate in the wellbeing of another.  It’s as if there’s only so much happiness to go around.  “If you have a lot of it, that means there’s not much left for me.”  Other folks are wiser:

There are so many people in this world that it’s simply reasonable for you to make their happiness as important as your own.  If you can be happy when good things happen to others, your opportunities for delight are increased six billion to one!  [Update: make that nearly eight billion to one]

The Dalai Lama

It’s simple math

 

Ted

This is Ted.  He sits in my bedroom … and he never says a word.  But every morning after I’ve made the bed and rolled up the blind, Ted looks deeply into my eyes.  There’s nothing to add to the moment.  No wise words.  Just the eyes and the smile.  “I’ve got you, Bruce.  You may stumble today, or cavort.  It’s all the same to me.  I just sit here and love you.”  At night, Ted watches me from the floor, making sure I’m safe.  I don’t know what goes on in his mind.  Can I say it’s likely to be a lot of concrete thinking? 

There’s a poem on a wall downstairs that reminds me of Ted.  Here, I’ll go find it …

I especially like this part:

They do not sweat and whine about their condition

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins

Good man, Ted.  You’re a natural, uncluttered kind of guy.

***

It’s been 22 days since I last wrote.  Maybe I’m drying up.  Maybe I’m slowing down.  Maybe the best is yet to come.

Imposters

Every month, the disciple who was sent away after years of training faithfully sent his master an account of his spiritual progress.  

In the first month, he wrote: “I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience oneness with the universe.”  The master glanced at the note and threw it away.

Two months later he received a note: “I finally discovered the holiness that is present in all things.”  The master seemed disappointed, crumpled it, and threw it in the trash.

In his third letter two months later, the disciple enthusiastically explained: “The mystery of the One and the many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.”  The master yawned.

Next letter said: “No one is born, no one dies, no one lives, the self is not.”  The master threw this into the trash and threw his hands up in despair.

Months passed, then a year.  After the second year, the master thought it was time to remind his disciple that he had promised to keep him informed of his spiritual progress.  The disciple wrote back: “Who cares what you think?” 

When the master read these words, a great look of satisfaction spread over his face.  “Thank God!  He’s got it at last.”

I revere the people in my life
Their words and actions influence me
As no doubt mine influence them
And yet …

Praise and blame
Fame and disrepute
Are imposters

A Picture Speaks Two Words

A traditional Taoist story:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” said the farmer.

Source

I just spent an hour looking through web pages about the coronavirus, seeking some insight, some perspective, that I could share with you. Nothing tickled my brain.

Isn’t there some cutting edge scientist out there, like Dr. Fauci, who has a pearl of wisdom that I could pass on? Or perhaps the Dalai Lama, basically the leader of Buddhists around the world. He’s written so many books about the spiritual life. Surely he has an enlightening comment or two. But I didn’t find anything that sang to me. Maybe the Internet is getting proficient at hiding inspiration.

So who does that leave us with? How about you and me? Likely we don’t have the years of scientific study or a deeply meditative life. Each of us, though, has a history of life experiences that’s taught us a thing or two. It’s not our first rodeo, even though we’ve never ridden a bucking bronco like this.

Who am I to have an original idea, something that no one’s thought of? It seems outrageous … but really why not? It’s worth a try.

Hmm. Nothing’s coming. I’ll wait a bit longer …

Still waiting.

***

As my mind relaxes, a thought emerges:

Bruce, downstairs you have a collection of episodes from the 1960s TV series “The Twilight Zone”. There are probably sixty of them. There’s an answer in there somewhere.

But that wouldn’t be my original idea.

Bruce … the originality will be in how you apply the writer’s idea to the coronavirus.

Okay. I guess you’re right. I’ll head downstairs.

***

I’m back. It’s a box set of 28 DVDs … 156 episodes … about 75 hours of playing time. (Sigh)

Somewhere within all those stories is guidance for us
I will find it

Smart Guy

His name was Chögyam Trungpa.  Here’s what he had to say:

If you have awareness in whatever you do, you always have a sense of basic decency.  You do not cheat.  You do not do things just because they are traditional, and you don’t just do something this year simply because you did it last year.  You always try to practice your discipline as genuinely and honestly as possible – to the point where the honesty and genuineness begin to hurt.

The source of action is a very large me, rather than other people and the past

***

We do not have to be ashamed of what we are.  As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds.  These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent.  Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate.  We can plant anything in it.

We are “good enough” kind and awakened to do great things in the world

***

The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute.  The good news is there’s no ground.

There is nothing in life that can damage the essence of who we are

***

There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures.

There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding.

And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end.  They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade.

And finally of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream.

Those rhythms in life are natural events.  They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.

And so I welcome the staleness, the not knowing, the falling short of goals

***

In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.

Eyes open, dear man – to the jolts, the disorientations, the nonsensical

***

Compassion is not having any hesitation to reflect your light on things.

There is no thought of “Who deserves this?”  We all do

***

The idea of a warrior is based on a sense of fundamental fearlessness.  There is no reason why you should be a coward.  It’s as simple as that.  You are not being a warrior because a state of war exists in your country.  We are not trying to win against the egohood people.  We are not trying to fight with them.

You are being a warrior because you are a warrior.  If someone asks you, “Are you twenty-one years old?” you say, “Yes, I am.”  They don’t ask you why you are twenty-one years old or how you have done this.  You would have no answer for that.  You are just twenty-one.  Warriorship is a basic sense of unshakeability.  It’s a sense of immovability and self-existing dignity rather than that you are trying to fight with something else.

am this.  I bring a fierceness to life that doesn’t require an opponent

***

We can change the world, definitely.  The problem is that we don’t smile when chaos occurs to us.  When chaos occurs, even within that chaos, we can smile, which cures confusion and resentment.

Welcome everything

***

You are sitting on the earth and you realize that this earth deserves you and you deserve this earth.  You are there – fully, personally, genuinely.

I, and you, have a place here.  We matter

***

We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful.  If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path.  But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our “self-improvement”.

Just this is just fine

***

Thank you, Chögyam

Slimming Down

No, I’m not talking about my weight or the size of my belly.  I’m looking at what’s “extra” in my life, what I can quite happily do without.  I’m finally getting that the extras don’t bring abiding happiness.

I’m 70.  Maybe I have 20 years left on this planet.  What do I want them to be about?  The answer comes clearly – I want to make a huge contribution to the consciousness of the world … without ego, without “look at me”.  If I’m stuck in my “stuff”, putting lots of energy into fixing my problems, that energy is not available to flow outwards as love.

So, what do I need to let go of?

1.  The question “How am I doing?”  It’s been walking beside me for decades.  This morning, I wanted to shower, stretch into yoga poses and do my physio exercises before driving a friend to breakfast at the Belmont Diner.  I know approximately how long each of these activities takes.  After showering and shaving, I could feel the pull of the alarm clock.  But I didn’t look.  I’ve lost the essence of so many minutes by not flowing with the present moment.  Not today, thank you.  I’ve used the question to analyze my weight, my spiritual development, my “progress” through the day.  Enough.

2.  External standards of appropriate behaviour.  “I should write a blog post every day.”  My goodness, who made that one up?  Sometimes I’ve gone to bed without writing anything, with the plan to create a post the next morning, and then a second one in the evening to “catch up”.  Catch up to what, may I ask?  And in association with that, I’ve declared that I need to keep frequent track of how many views my writings have scored on WordPress.  How many likes on Facebook.  Well, that’s just dumb, although I would have answered differently a few days ago.  What a colossal waste of energy.

3.  I love sports but I need to figure out why.  I say that I love the Toronto Maple Leafs but is that just an echo from the 1960’s when the Leafs won four Stanley Cups and I went to all the parades?  Does the belonging I feel as a Leafs fan hold a candle to the belonging possible when a group of people are actively spreading love across the planet?  No.  Why am I reading endless articles analyzing the successes and failures of players and teams?  Seems stupid.

What’s true is that I love the transcendent moments in sport, when one player does something amazing.  Those great plays remind me of how “above and beyond” each of us can be in our daily lives.  If that’s what drives me, I can watch the half-hour highlight shows on TV, where athlete after athlete breaks beyond the norm.

4.  Being afraid of strong female leaders.  It’s all part of the historical Bruce: “I’m less than.  I’m not good enough.”  Powerful people surround themselves with powerful people.  I want to be a powerful person so bring on all the “out there” movers and shakers I can find.

5.  Beer.  It just makes me tired and woozy.  I then don’t have the clarity to “be with” the other person in a deep way.  I feel good for awhile but the beauty fades so easily.  I’m looking for something far more durable in life.

6.  Small talk.  Critical talk.  Participating in them just makes me shrink.  Maybe I’ll say a thing or two about politics or local issues but a drawn-out discussion verging on argument just takes me away from what’s important.  If the group is hot and heavy into the topic, I can stay quiet and love them silently from a short distance.  It can be a one-way flow, not always a mutual sharing of spirit (but I love it when that happens).

7.  Too much energy in … not enough energy out.  Being happy is not about accumulating experiences, such as Oscar-winning movies, gourmet meals and lush landscapes.  They’re fine.  And so are cool things that people say to me.  But the real joy is in what I put out there to the world.  Am I big enough often enough to spread love, peace and freedom far and wide?  I think so.

***

Getting down to the essential Bruce
Shaving down the hard edges
Finding that well full of sweet water … and sharing it

Other People’s Words

Sometimes, such as right now, I can’t think of anything to say.  That’s all right.  There are 7.7 billion of us with things to say.  I should listen.

I still get to participate in this post.  I’ve chosen quotes that move me.  If words don’t “sing” to me, I don’t pay much attention.  Let the music begin:

***

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

Mahatma Gandhi

Yes, I don’t have time to deal with toxic people.  There is much to be done.

***

There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision.  The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.

Teilhard de Chardin

I am pulled towards the beauty of open hearts.  “Resistance is futile.”

***

Make peace with silence, and remind yourself that it is in this space that you’ll come to remember your spirit.  When you’re able to transcend an aversion to silence, you’ll also transcend many other miseries.  And it is in this silence that the remembrance of God will be activated.

Wayne Dyer

Listen … the heavens are singing.

***

Who can say if the thoughts you have in your mind as you read these words are the same thoughts I had in my mind as I typed them?  We are different, you and I, and the qualia of our consciousnesses are as divergent as two stars at the ends of the universe.

And yet, whatever has been lost in translation in the long journey of my thoughts through the maze of civilization to your mind, I think you do understand me, and you think you do understand me.  Our minds managed to touch, if but briefly and imperfectly.

Does that thought not make the universe seem just a bit kinder, a bit brighter, a bit warmer and more human?

Ken Liu

Oh yes … we know each other, even if I’ve never seen your face.  It is a bright world, full of sisters and brothers.

***

Hell, in my opinion, is never finding your true self and never living your own life or knowing who you are.

John Bradshaw

I feel such sadness when encountering the flat ones – where money, power and ego rule.

***

I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks.  It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool.  It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love.  And it happens most when we connect with other people.  I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments.  Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities.  Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.

David Brooks

Oh, the bliss of entwining with the countless beloveds!

***

You are here to evolve and make your consciousness high.  You are here to dance, sing and celebrate life.  You are here to help others to make their life happy.  We are here not to compete, but to learn, evolve and excel.  We are not here to make divisions in the name of prophets and religions.  We are here to encompass the world with love and light.

Amit Ray

May we fall into knowing every one of us – beyond space and time.  For the people of Senegal and Belgium, and the people of long ago, are with me now.

***

In each of us there is another whom we do not know.

Carl Jung

And perhaps I’ll never know this other Bruce, but he guides me nonetheless.

***

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.

Yasutani Roshi

Actually I am over there in you and you are over here in me.  We merge in peace.

***

When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life form — or a species — will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.

Eckhart Tolle

We are not 1 … 2 … 3 …  We are 1 … 7 … 229 …

***

Creativity is the state of consciousness in which you enter into the treasury of your innermost being and bring the beauty into manifestation.

Torkom Saraydarian

What can I draw forth from me during my remaining time on Earth?

***

Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most.  Because they, bless them, are asleep.  They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a “dream” is going crazy.

R.D. Laing

I’ve been seen as weird, strange and airy fairy.  I’ve also been seen as transparent, loving and sweet.

***

The language of light can only be decoded by the heart.

Suzy Kassem

Be still, my rampaging brain, my keen intellect.  There is much to learn.

***

Don’t seek love externally, it’s fleeting.  Go beyond the ego and awaken the love that already exists within; it will encompass everyone and everything in your life; it will permeate your very being.

Danielle Pierre

Love them all, Bruce.  Light the world.

***

The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child’s words and child’s deeds didn’t make much difference.  It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn’t observed, even pressed his cheek against it.

Karl Ove Knausgård

Companions linger to the left and to the right, above and below.  And we are the richer for them.

***

Lots of words
I like them
And they like me

What Now?

I’m in Colorado for the next four days … sort of.  I’ll be attending (sort of) a conference on the future of the world.  Actually, I’ve subscribed to the webcast of all the presentations in the main ballroom.  Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world will be addressing topics such as:

Spirituality
Tribalism versus globalism
The disparity in wealth
Fake news and hate propaganda
The misuse of sexuality
Racial abuse
Environmental degradation and the denial of climate change
Immigration and protection

How do we deal with massive change?  How can we create an inclusive world in which we accept our differences and see them as an opportunity to build something new?  “What’s next for human evolution?”

The older I’ve become, the more I’ve been living in “I don’t know.”  Sure, I’m smart enough to think through complex issues but multiple mysteries of life continue to present themselves.  Perhaps the rational mind is only a part of the puzzle solving.  Can I open to insights that seem to come from elsewhere?

Starting tonight on my laptop, I intend to fall into “beginner’s mind”.  With the glass close to empty, what will Spirit fill it with?  What connections will emerge over the next four days?  What moments of serendipity will say hi?  To what extent could I have been a presenter at the “What Now?” conference?  I do know that I have a part to play.

Tomorrow through Monday, I’ll give you my take on what I’m hearing.  Perhaps windows will open for all of us.

If you’d like to join in, go to integrallife.com.  On the dropdown menu, choose “Live”.  Scroll down to “Upcoming Broadcasts” and pick “What Now?”.  Scroll some more until you see words in orange: “Click here to purchase the webcast.”  It costs $125.00 US.  If you become an Integral Life member, it’s $100.00.  You need Google Chrome or fancy browsers that I don’t recognize.  Internet Explorer won’t work.  The first session starts at 7:00 pm tonight.

See you there?