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?

Pope Francis

My impression is that Pope John Paul II was a good guy.  I feel the same about Pope Francis.  Looking at that smile of his, I’m sure that he and I would have a good time over coffee at a sidewalk café in Rome.

I read today that he’s writing a book called Dear Pope Francis, his responses to questions posed by thirty kids from around the globe.  The article talked about how determined the Pope was to give deep answers to the soulful questions the children asked.  “Often, he looked off into space and tried to imagine the child in front of him.  And in his gaze I saw care, love.”

Those young folks deserve no less.  They need adults to neither look down nor look up at them … just eye to eye, on the level, one human being to another.  It’s not important that one of them is 79 and the other somewhere between 6 and 13.  There’s the wisdom of accumulated years, and then the spontaneous insights of youth.

One boy asked, “Will the world be again as it was in the past?”

Pope Francis responded, “There are those who manufacture weapons so that people fight each other and wage war.  There are people who have hate in their hearts.  There are people who are interested only in money and would sell everything for it.  They would even sell other people … No, when the time comes, the world will not be as it was.  It will be far better than it was in the past.”

Children need to hear hope, to hear love, not just from famous human beings such as the Pope, but from all us adults.  They also need to see this on our faces and in our deeds.  Are we strong enough to let go of antagonism, entrenched opinions, and a general malaise?  Yes we are.

 

 

Books

The boy, too, had his book, and he had tried to read it during the first few days of the journey.  But he found it much more interesting to observe the caravan and listen to the wind.  As soon as he had learned to know his camel better, and to establish a relationship with him, he threw the book away.

from The Alchemist (a book!) by Paulo Coelho

I own hundreds of them, accumulated over the last forty years.  So many about spiritual matters, lately focused on Buddhism.  So many novels, lately focused on Stephen King.  I do believe I have every book he’s published.

I’ve been more of a collector than a reader.  It’s somehow comforting to see them sitting on the shelves of my bookcases.  But sometimes I reflect on the fact that I’m 66 and that I’ll never read them all before I die.

I’ve taken thousands of quotations from the ones I have read, trying to hang on to the essence of what the author was telling me.  I’ve created “Categories” of topics and have started arranging all the words into them, to create a power not possible from just a few isolated quotes.  Trouble is, I virtually never wrote down who said what, so my ambition to publish all of this wisdom in several volumes seems thwarted by the illegality of it all.  Guess I would be sued left, right and centre.

My latest plan is to complete the sorting into topics before I die, have the books published through Blurb, find 500 organizations that might find my work valuable, put the books in bubble wrappers, each addressed to one of those places, pay for all that postage … and put them in the basement.  When I die, my executor would mail them all away, adding extra postage as needed.

I need to consult with a lawyer to see if my estate could be sued after the books are received.  Oh my.  I appear to be a very strange duck.  But I don’t want decades of quotations that resonate with my Spirit to crumble into dust.

Still .. wait a minute.  Wouldn’t it be a pretty major letting go if I dumped all my recipe cards of quotes and just trusted that the wisdom therein would reach humanity via another route?  In the movie The Razor’s Edge, the character played by Bill Murray ends up at a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas.  The lama instructs him to walk up to a little hut amid the snows and to meditate there for some time.  Our American friend takes a few of his treasured books, a couple of blankets and not much else.  After a day or two, he’s getting pretty cold, and the scarce wood is all gone.  In a moment of realization, he takes out one of the books and rips off page after page, dropping them into his little fire.  Oh my again.

Now what, Bruce?  I don’t know.  There may be delivered books, a world of insights, and a world of lawsuits.  Or perhaps all will be silence.

 

 

Eighty-Four Days … Part Three

There are a lot of good ideas in life, and I’ve subscribed to many of them.  I found myself opening during the retreat, and ideas moved to truth.  The head became my heart.  Such as …

Love them all

Not just my family and friends.  Not just nice people.  Everyone.  Even those who sometimes grate on me.  We all hurt.  In my finer moments, I feel huge compassion for the people I meet.  Great love.  All of us face loss, blame, pain and disrepute (the Buddha’s words).  Short or tall; male or female; young, medium or old; angry or serene; pretty or handsome in the eyes of the world or not so.  I will sit with them all.

Do no harm

No hurtful speech.  No gossip.  No wishing that things don’t go all that well for them.  No comparing.  No making them “less than”.  No pushing past someone to get what I want.  And when I do harm, I will feel remorse and apologize.  We all deserve this.

Everything changes

I can try to keep my youth, my vibrancy, my financial well-being.  I can try to keep the people I love close to me.  But sometimes my good fortune floats away and the world is black.  And eventually I will be separated from all those I love.  Jody is no longer with me in body.  I’m no longer teaching kids.  My childhood friends are hopefully still on the planet, somewhere out there in the world.  And raging against the night is just not it.

***

During the last few weeks of the retreat, my periods of sitting meditation became ever more peaceful.  And I couldn’t keep my head up.  A few minutes in, it would just flop.  I made great efforts to “correct” the situation, all to no avail.  I stood up, but very soon my legs wouldn’t hold me, and I sat down again.  I tried bowing my head in perfect alignment with my body.  Slowly I teetered to the left and the speed increased so that I had to snap out of the peace to stay erect.  I leaned my whole body somewhat to the right, seeking a balance point but still I rolled left.  Eventually, I found balance by leaning way to the right, maybe at a 45 degree angle.  I worried about my head smashing into my neighbour’s chair arm.  For some moments I was deep into my heart.  In others fear ruled.  Always I was fully alert to my environment.  Finally I let go and let it happen.

I meditated this morning, again my head way off to the right.  Oh well.  Guess I won’t make the centrefold of Meditators’ Monthly. 

***

That’s all I feel like writing today.  I wonder if there’ll be a Part Four.  I wouldn’t be surprised.

Mastery of the Moment Part Three

Where is the power in all these attitude choices?  How can they make a difference right in this moment?  Let’s say someone cuts me off in traffic.  How can I hold onto my peace of mind, rather than letting that driver control my level of well-being?  Am I supposed to remember the 45 possibilities among the 22 choices and magically pick 3 or 4 that allow me to stay calm?  Let’s see … which ones would I choose?  How about Source Internal, You and Me, and Not Important?  Yes, they’ll do fine.  But how do I access them at 100 kph on the freeway?  I could open my laptop with one hand, turn it on, go to “Posts” on my WordPress page, locate “Mastery of the Moment – Part Two”, and scroll down to find the choices that seem to fit the moment.  But maybe I’d better keep my eyes on the road!

For that presentation in 1988, I laminated 1″ x 2″ yellow cards listing the attitude choices.  Do I whip one of those out of my shirt pocket?  Do I start the week thinking about only three of them, such as the ones up above?  And then bring those ones to mind as I hurtle down the highway?  I could start with three new ones every Monday.

Maybe I should use all of the choices only in retrospect.  If I have an A > B moment (see Part Two), I could analyze it later to see how I might have handled the situation differently.  Perhaps enough analysis would automatically bring A > B > C to consciousness in the future, as my neighbour’s right rear bumper slips by Hugo’s front left.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what to do.  The ideas are powerful.  The trick is to harness them, like a cowboy calming a bucking bronco.  I’ll figure it out.  I’m just glad to be along for the ride.

Small Bodies, Large Souls

It’s time to let the kids do the talking.

There’s a Grade 5/6 class at St. Jude’s School in London who have done a lot of praying for Jody and me.  They sent love to two people they’d never met.  They also sent me a book – The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – along with messages of caring.  So lovely.  I visited the students yesterday and told them how special their love is.  Of course they love their moms, dads, brothers and sisters, and their friends, but to reach beyond, out into the world with their sweetness … oh my.  What the world needs now …

Here’s what they had to say:

I know the loss of your wife Jody has planted sadness into your life.  Don’t let that stop you from being who you are.

Life is like a spirograph.  Once one line ends another starts.

Just remember that Jody in a good place and will always remember you.

Get well soon from your loss.

I know its hard to lose someone close.  Jody was probably a really sweet person.

Keep going and keep your wife in your prayers forever and keep her in your heart with all your strenght and your love.

You need to be strong and not to have a heavy heart, because Jody loved you and even though she died, she is actually living everlasting life with you, right by your side.  So don’t just sit there and weep.  Sit by Jody’s tree and fell her spirit in you.

I have a good song to sing that might cheer you up.  It is the song Happy.  So keep that in mind and you will hopefully feel better.  She was probably a very special lady to you.

I hope thease leaves cheer you up.  Hopfully you can recover from this.

Jody is in a better place now.

Mr. Kerr I am so sad to hear of the loss of your wife Jody and hope that she goes to heaven.

Daniel always helped Freddie through rough times just like you helped Jody through her tough times.

Jody may be gone but you still have your special memories just like the special tree you and your wife share.

One day my moms couisim had cancer.  She had it for a year.  That year pasted by and now she is still alive.

You must struggle but I will always keep you and Jody in my prayers.

Mr. Kerr, we hope you feel better and you always know that she is in your heart.

I know how you feel.  Papa died from cancer.  He is very nice when I see his grave and my grandma.  It reminds me of him.

Bruce, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

I had experienced a horrible, sad story too.  She was a little girl who’s name was Adison.  She was a very close friend of mine and she passed away from a car crash at Costco.

I am very sorry for your loss but we all die when it is our time.

Well I hope this letter cheered you up a bit and that soon all their leaf letters will too.

I hope you can overcome your loss just like me and my family did.  I know it’s hard not to think about your wife, but just think of all the things that you can still do.  Good luck!

(Crying)

Thank you, kids

Categories – Part 2

Given gibberish in old WordStar files, to the rescue came Martin, my computer guy.  He recovered the contents, converting the files to Word and placing them on my laptop hard drive.  Yay!  As well as the phrases and sentences, the files are full of random symbols.  I’ll have some major editing to do.  That’s okay.

So … all those full categories were from the 1980’s.  Thirty years later, in addition, I have five inches of piled white 3 x 5″ index cards, crammed with quotes, plus 464 pages of thoughts I’ve inputted into Word.  All of this random.

“What do you want to do, Bruce?”  And the answer comes swiftly:  “Before I die, I want to put all these quotations into categories, adding and subtracting subjects as a reflection of me as a 70-, 80- or 90-year-old, rather than the WordStar youngster of 35 that I was in the era of big blue binders.  I want to publish the results through Blurb and somehow get the books into the hands and hearts of people who will appreciate them.”

So there.

How many pages am I talking about here?  The one binder that I still have is 248 pages.  So double that to include the resurrected contents of the missing binder … 496.  Add the 464 pages in Word, and then whatever five inches of index cards would amount to – 200 pages?  So … drum roll please … that comes to 1160.  The maximum number of pages that Blurb allows for their trade books is 480.  Therefore to do all this would take three volumes of “Transformational Subjects”, averaging say 400 pages.  Whew!

A few questions seem to be poking out through the vines of my mind:

1.  Who would I give these books to?  How would I find folks who’d like to read about one bloke’s take on life?

2.  For close on forty years, I’ve plucked quotations from books and articles without writing down who the author is.  So if I self-publish this potpourri of wise thoughts, am I going to have hundreds of people suing me for using their words without permission?  (Wow, that sure sounds paranoid.  Or maybe true.)

3.  Do I really want to spend a large portion of the next five years pulling all this material together, arranging it to my liking, designing the books and publishing them?

4.  If I don’t share these perspectives on life with whomever wants to hear them, why exactly have I been poring over index cards for four decades?  Have I done all this just so I can get a little more evolved?  I don’t like that.  I see my job as being a contribution to people near and far.  How can I keep all this stuff hidden?

Time to sit quietly, Bruce, and think.

I want to publish these ideas
I’m willing to be sued
I want to leave something behind when I die

Do it, Bruce