You Hear This Other Deep Reality Singing To You All The Time

“I have no idea what I am doing,” he said. “It’s hard to describe. As I approach the end of my life, I have even less and less interest in examining what have got to be very superficial evaluations or opinions about the significance of one’s life or one’s work. I was never given to it when I was healthy, and I am less given to it now.”

When I asked him if he intended his performances to reflect a kind of devotion, he hesitated before he answered. “Does artistic dedication begin to touch on religious devotion?” he said. “I start with artistic dedication. I know that if the spirit is on you it will touch on to the other human receptors. But I dare not begin from the other side. It’s like pronouncing the holy name—you don’t do it. But if you are lucky, and you are graced, and the audience is in a particular salutary condition, then these deeper responses will be produced.”

“I know there’s a spiritual aspect to everybody’s life, whether they want to cop to it or not,” Cohen said. “It’s there, you can feel it in people—there’s some recognition that there is a reality that they cannot penetrate but which influences their mood and activity.

“What I mean to say is that you hear the Bat Kol.” The divine voice. “You hear this other deep reality singing to you all the time, and much of the time you can’t decipher it. Even when I was healthy, I was sensitive to the process. At this stage of the game, I hear it saying, ‘Leonard, just get on with the things you have to do.’ It’s very compassionate at this stage. More than at any time of my life, I no longer have that voice that says, ‘You’re fucking up.’ That’s a tremendous blessing, really.”

— Leonard Cohen, interviewed by David Remnick in The New Yorker

This Exalted State

You know when you’re saying goodby to someone at the airport that you love and you get all soft. And you get, ‘Oh my God I hardly know you.’ What if that’s the truth, if that mode times ten is the mode we should exist in all the time? Then on another day you’re just yourself. There’s big gap between those two people. So, how much time do I spend in that regular old habitual stupid mindset of taking everything for granted, as opposed to this exalted state of being super-tenderized to the people you care about. And I’m guessing that, if there’s a heaven, it’s that at the airport times ten or twenty, or a thousand.

–George Saunders, interviewed by Max Linsky on Longform (found via Sampler)
Thanks to In A Spacious Place for typing up this quote

The Source Of All Abundance Is Not Outside You

If the thought of lack – whether it be money, recognition, or love – has become part of who you think you are, you will always experience lack. Rather than acknowledge the good that is already in your life, all you see is lack. Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance. The fact is: Whatever you think the world is witholding from you, you are withholding from the world.  You are withholding it because deep down you think you are small and that you have nothing to give…

…The source of all abundance is not outside you. It is part of who you are. However, start by acknowledging and recognizing abundance without. See the fullness of life all around you. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the dispaly of magnificent flowers outside a florist’s shop, biting into a succulent fruit, or getting soaked in an abundance of water falling from the sky. The fullness of life is there at every step. The acknowledgement of that abundance that is all around you awakens the dormant abundance within. Then it flows out…

…Both abundance and scarcity are inner states that manifest as your reality.  Jesus puts it like this: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

–Eckhart Tolle

Keep Us Out Of The Way

Let us be present to the now.
It’s all we have
and it’s where God will always speak to us.
The now holds everything, rejects nothing and,
therefore, can receive God, too.
Help us be present to the place
we’re most afraid of,
because it always feels empty,
it always feels boring,
it always feels like it’s not enough.
Help us find some space within
that we don’t try to fill with ideas or opinions.
Help us find space so you, loving God,
can show yourself in that place
where we are hungry and empty.
Keep us out of the way,
so there is always room enough for you.
Amen.

–Richard Rohr, from Hope Against Darkness

Simply To Witness

Beholding establishes a sacred relationship… To behold is not to fix, change, judge, or even want. It is simply to witness — to embrace with our awareness. In beholding the self, we witness a miraculous manifestation of divine energy living right inside us, with all its hopes and fears, joys and tears. This witnessing is the “heart to heart.” It brings us to the sacred. It is the essential realization that must be present for any real healing to occur.

— Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System As a Path to the Self (p. 232)

 

Befriend All Of That Ancient Stuff We Carry Around

If we were to make a list of the people we don’t like–people we find obnoxious, threatening or worthy of contempt–we would find much about ourselves that we can’t face. If we were to come up with one word about each of the troublemakers in our lives, we would find ourselves with a list of descriptions of our own rejected qualities. We project these on the outside world. The people who repel us unwittingly show us aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable, which otherwise we can’t see. Traditional lojong teachings say it another way: other people trigger the karma we haven’t worked out. They mirror us and give us a chance to befriend all of that ancient stuff we carry around like a backpack full of granite boulders.

— Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (p. 163)

Another Part Of Taking Responsibility Is Gentleness

We have a strong tendency to distance ourselves from our experience because it hurts, but the dharma provides encouragement to move closer to that experience. Although there are lots of words that could be used to explain compassionate action, I’d like to stress the word communication – in particular, communication from the heart.

All activities should be done with the intention of communicating. This is a practical suggestion: all activities should be done with the intention of speaking so that another person can hear you, rather than using words that cause the barriers to go up and the ears to close. In this process we also learn how to listen and how to look. You can practice making your actions, your speech, and your thoughts inseparable from this yearning to communicate from the heart. Everything you say can further polarize the situation and convince you of how separate you are. On the other hand, everything you say and do and think can support your desire to communicate, to move closer and step out of this myth of isolation and separateness that we’re all caught in.

Taking this kind of responsibility is another way of talking about awakening bodhichitta, because part of taking responsibility is the quality of being able to see things very clearly. Another part of taking responsibility is gentleness, which goes along with not judging but rather looking gently and honestly at yourself. There is also the ability to keep going forward. You can just keep on going; you don’t have to get frozen in an identity as a loser or a winner, the abuser or the abused, the good guy or the bad guy. You just see what you do as clearly and as compassionately as you can then go on. The next moment is always fresh and open.

— Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (pp. 155-156)

We Do Not Deserve Resolution

As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.

— Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (p. 112)

See What Is

Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life. That doesn’t mean that beliefs or ideas or thinking is a problem. It’s the stubborn attitude of having to have things be a particular way, grasping on to our beliefs and opinions, that causes the problems. Using your belief system this way creates a situation in which you choose to be blind instead of being able to see, to be deaf instead of being able to hear, to be dead rather than alive, asleep rather than awake.

As people who want to live a good, full, unrestricted, adventurous, real kind of life, there is concrete instruction we can follow: see what is. When you catch yourself grasping at beliefs or thoughts, just see what is. Without calling your belief right or wrong, acknowledge it. See it clearly without judgment and let it go. Come back to the present moment. From now until the moment of your death, you could do this.

— Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (p. 112)

The Freedom Of Nothing Solid

Moving away from our experience, moving away from the present moment with all our habits and strategies, always adds up to restlessness, dissatisfaction, unhappiness. The comfort that we associate with concretizing and making things solid is so transitory, so short-lived.

Moving into our experience – whether it’s the opening experience of love and compassion or the closing down experience of resentment and separation – brings us an enormous sense of freedom: the freedom of nothing solid. Something about “nothing solid” begins to equal freedom. In the meantime, we discover that we would rather feel fully present to our lives than be off trying to make everything solid and secure by engaging our fantasies or our addictive patterns. We realize that connecting with our experience by meeting it feels better than resisting it by moving away. Being on the spot, even if it hurts, is preferable to avoiding. As we practice moving into the present moment this way, we become more familiar with groundlessness, a fresh state of being that is available to us on an ongoing basis. This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky – that’s called liberation.

— Pema Chödrön, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion (pp. 43-44)