Birth dies into life
Death gives birth again
In an endless cycle
For you to find
Your Buddha nature….
Like the winds of change
Yet, there is something
That still remains
Underlying our true essence….
Like a full moon rising
And all knowing
Like eagles soaring
It is the spring lotus
Of awareness blooming…
Try to grasp it
And it slips away
Try to name it
And it defies you
This inner witness cannot be tamed
By your mind’s deceptive tricks
Of narrow conceptions….
When the fear of dying falls away
What is there left to say?
Birth and death are the same.
The kind you feel
On a long walk
Through a heavy fog
Rising above blue mountains….
A still presence
Beating in tandem
To Mother Nature’s song
THIS ETERNAL MOMENT,
Marking a beginning’s end
And an end’s beginning….
A precious breath
Inhaling and exhaling
The exquisite wonders
Of God’s forms
And all which lies beyond the void
In that formless space
Where the seeds of our desires merge
With the infinite potential
Of an ancient wisdom graciously bestowing
Gifts of plenty
As polarities dissolve into a harmonic mist
Of one mind
To one soul….
Speak of this connection
And watch it fade
Like memories from a distant time and place
Corrupting what is pure
Whenever two may gather
In the name of love.
It was a beautiful day outside. The birds were singing, the sun was shining brightly and a cool autumn breeze swept across the countryside. I was hiking with my dear friend Jamie back down forest service road 316, a gorgeous trail in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. We had walked about six miles and were 20 minutes from my car when the Divine fully presented itself. We had stopped to smoke a bit of herb and to reflect on our inspiring journey. To commemorate the moment, I expressed to Jamie that I wished to recite a few prayers that I had compiled over the past week. The collection included sacred Buddhist, Sioux Indian, Hindu, Sufi and Christian invocations to the Absolute. I opened my journal and began to read the first lines from the Buddhist-Loving Kindness selection:
“May all beings be free from danger
May all beings be free from mental suffering…”
At the exact moment that I recited these lines, a pack of wolves began howling in unison with the prayer. The tone of their soulful expressions was both haunting and awesome. The hairs on our necks stood at full attention. It felt as though the wolves were inside our souls playing their heart-stringed instruments. Because It was nearing sunset, I immediately placed my beloved companion, Abbie, on leash and finished reciting the Buddhist prayer. I then listened… mesmerized. After a minute or two, the primal sounds of howling stopped. Jamie and I then glanced at one another in silent recognition of this divine moment. Chills went down our spines, as it became evident to us that the Infinite was speaking through the wolves. What were these loyal beings trying to convey? Oneness. Unity. Stillness. Sacred Earth Connection. As we continued our walk back down to the car, the energy of the forest felt particularly heightened and pure. Soon, the glorious sun began to set over majestic blue mountains and I knew deep within that my home was heaven on earth.
Three pilgrims set off by foot on a 90-mile (about 145 km) pilgrimage down a well-traveled path in the mountains. In a bid to impress the other two pilgrims, the first trekker attempted to hike thirty 30 miles (about 48 km) his first day…. far past any reasonable mileage. Consequently, he blew out one of his knees on the 28th (45th km) mile. Badly injured, the first pilgrim was forced to abandon his journey. The second pilgrim, in a vain attempt to impress his friends back home, tried to record his entire pilgrimage on his phone. However, on the first day, he covered only two miles (3 km) before falling off a small cliff trying to capture a dramatic “selfie”. He, too, was forced to abandon his journey due to breaking his arm in the fall. Meanwhile, the third pilgrim went humbly upon her way at a moderate pace. She stopped along the trail for brief intervals to give thanks to the spirit of the mountains that guided her feet and soul in tandem. After 7 days and 90 miles (about 145 km) of walking, the third pilgrim at last arrived at the destination: a glorious mountain top where soaring eagles greeted her with blessings of acknowledgment for a pilgrimage traveled without hubris or vanity.
One day an arrogant and wealthy politician encountered a monk at the center of the town square. The monk, clad in a flowing orange robe with a begging cup in hand, did not pay the politician any notice. He just strolled slowly by the prominent man with eyes staring straight ahead absorbed in a walking meditation. Enraged at having not been acknowledged, the politician ran up behind the monk and aggressively grabbed him by the arm and said:
“Don’t you know who I am? Everyone bows down before me!”
The monk locked eyes with the politician for a few seconds and then suddenly began laughing hysterically out loud. Growing even more enraged, the powerful and famous man raised his fists in the air and threatened the monk with violence. He then demanded to know what was so funny. Still laughing, the monk pointed down at the politician’s feet. The politician looked embarrassingly down at his feet and saw that he was standing in a pile of fresh cow dung! As the politician bent down to clean the dung off his shoes, the monk stood over him and said:
“I think I remember who you are now. You are that former politician turned humble servant of his people. Now allow me to help you clean the cow dung off your shoes.”
At that moment it has been said that a great miracle took place. An arrogant and wealthy politician was transformed into a kind and humble servant for the poorest and most oppressed among his people.
You can study the key tenets of Hinduism
You can memorize the essential Sutras of Buddhism
And you can philosophize about Taoist practices
But can you grasp the incomprehensible reality of Brahman?
Can you discover the essence of your own Buddha Nature?
And can you learn how to harmonize your life with Tao?
The intellect only takes you so far….
Like a ground hog burrowing into the Earth
To see who you really are
And what lies beneath this.
Today I will see my original face
And all will be well
For soon I shall dwell
As something more than this body
Into the void I’ve gone….
What makes you think you were ever born?
And what makes you think you will ever die?
In the lotus of the heart
There is a jewel
That is so precious and so rare
That not even the most seasoned gem hunter
Could find it….
Not of this world
But yet in it
This jewel vibrates to the beat of love
Like noble saints marching
To and From their temples
To serve all beings with boundless compassion….
This pure jewel
Living in your heart center
Can always be heard
Chanting it’s eternal song:
OM MANI PADME HUM.
Hold Yourself accountable each day
Be mindful of your thoughts
Be kind with your words
And be loving with your actions…..
Try not to judge others
And be fully open to the unique teachings
That each moment offers
That should be your goal.
One of the biggest misconceptions on the path is that you have to somehow add more not less to your life in order to spiritually evolve . For example, upon awakening, you might strive to incorporate meditation practice into your busy schedule, find the time to attend retreats and read sacred texts, make new spiritual friends or join a sangha and make time to engage in the spirit of service. In truth, all of these inspiring priorities should be seen as nothing more than valuable practices that help you simplify your life not acquire anything more. From where I am standing, the goal of all inner seeking is to become less by stripping away all the layers of egoic conditioning so you can be as free and simple as a child. Only then, can you truly be a perfect conduit for the will of the Divine to work through you.
If one is truly fortunate, a rare wise being will come into their lives. When you meet such a person you immediately feel that you are in the presence of someone who really knows something about life and how to live it. Such a being’s individual nuances, background and spiritual point of connection may vary; but always the characteristics of their souls are the same. They are as humble as the roots of trees, are filled with boundless compassion, live to serve their communities and embrace life’s most challenging moments as golden opportunities to grow in their faith. Such wise beings also live simply without any attachment to material things, show gratitude each and every day and have rascally sense of humors! But above all, people of wisdom live fully and authentically in the consciousness of that underlying reality called God or Tao. It is clear through spending even a minute in their presence, that such beings have discovered an eternal well of love within them. To share time in their presence is to drink the sweet nectar from the Divine itself and to bask in the light of its grace. If you have met just such a being absorb all of their teachings and model your life after them!
When I first started down the path I was consumed by the goal of one day becoming enlightened. Then, I traveled down the path a little more and that desire began to gradually fade away. Now, as I find myself slightly further down the path I see that even the concept of enlightenment is a distraction and a potential trap from getting on with the truly all-important spiritual work of becoming a compassionate, humble and peaceful being.
If you discovered
That you had exactly one day to live
How would you spend your final 24 hours
And 86,400 seconds
In your physical body?
Would you spend it chasing after money, power and fame?
Or, would you live it with your mind centered on God?
Would you hold on to grudges with old friends and lovers?
Or, would you finally learn to forgive and forget?
And as your final seconds ticked away…..
What would be your departing thoughts?
Would you have wished you had lived more for today?
Or, would you have no regrets for a life lived with love?