As Ojai

Non-dual musings in Ojai, seeing Everything as.

You Are Held Deeper

When I was first drawn to spirituality I thought my logical mind, honed from a background in computer science, would be the perfect tool for my path. I thought the goal was to analyze myself, find problems and shortcomings, fix them, and then step into happiness.

Having an analytical mind did indeed help shed light in the shadows. Whenever I stopped to look, I could see patterns in my life. I could see triggers and reactions. I could see what contributed to happiness and what to sadness and separation.

But, at a certain point, using mind to dissect myself became a burden; it became an addiction, a way to stop looking at the present moment, a way to place hope in a future where the patterns I wanted stayed, and those I didn’t were excised.

I eventually saw that using mind to explore myself was just more of the same game. I saw that the only way off this merry go round was to solve the essential question: What was I really?

If I did not ask and answer that question, then the habits of society and individuality said I was my mind and body. But in that assumption, an assumption where mind was king, was a land where every inhabitant was known, and nothing new could be birthed.

When I stopped the mind, at first through meditating in nature, I saw that I still existed. What a beautiful discovery. When the mind — the thing I assumed I was — rested, I was still alive and something. It became obvious through that discovery that what ‘I’ was must be deeper than the mind.

So to the silence that washed in when the mind was quiet, I asked the question: What Am I? And there was no answer.

And that was perfect; for any answer would be the mind restarting, jumping in to hijack this newfound silence.

Instead, I asked of the silence that washed in: Is there a separation of this living stillness to me? And the answer was no.

I asked of the silence: Does this living stillness have boundaries? And the answer was no.

I asked of the silence: Where are you located? And the answer was everywhere.

I asked, once more, of the silence: What am I? And the answer was again, only and divinely, purely and completely, nothing but the silence.

Passion Is

Last week I rode my bike to Foster Park and sat on a log to eat a snack. On a weekday the park is beautifully deserted so I was wrapped in the familiar, delicate, loving blanket of solitude.

The question of passion arose. As birds called out from trees, lazy flies floated by, and the hot air and roughness of the log bounded my body, I visited the future. What can I do to earn a living? What could I be interested in enough to start up? What am I passionate about? No answer came.

I then visited the past. Have I ever been passionate about anything? The thing that came closest was programming. I loved learning it. I loved how — after it clicked one summer afternoon when I was thirteen — it became so easy and effortless. It felt like I was no longer in the way. I pictured what I wanted on the screen then would furiously type and a few hours later I would have it: a pixeled plane flying across the screen, a robot transforming into a car, an alien shooting lasers.

But apart from that first summer, I don’t think I was ever again fully passionate about programming. My mind quickly hijacked that new skill of mine. I could use it to get out of my life, to make money to move away from my parents. It was a safety valve when too much pressure was building, fuel for daydreams of a future as different as possible from the present. There was little passion elsewhere in those years.

A car quietly rolled past, and the occupants looked at me, probably wondering why I was sitting motionless on that log staring at the beautifully tall and peacefully still trees in front of me; trees which in a moment were me and everything around me; there were no boundaries between any expression of Life.

Spiral stones in the dust

If I could not find memories of passion, or evidence of passion in my present, the only other option was to explore what was arising here and now. Who is it who longs for passion? What is passion itself?

When I dove into the heart of that moment which presented itself all I could see was Love. The same way I got out of the way of my teenage fingers across that keyboard, I got out of the way of that moment in the park, and all that was there was the deepest appreciation and thankfulness. I was awed to stillness to be there, to be surrounded by the warmth of the air, the warmth of my heart unbounded by my body, present in every tree and blade of dried grass. I stared into into Life and it stared back as me.

When you are everything around, when you are nothing but, there is a beautiful mocking mystery which makes you laugh: There is nothing called passion, and yet that nothingness is brimming with Passion itself.

Slabs of Love

I’ve started toying with woodworking, and for the challenge of resawing a board to make it thinner I improvised a fence to keep the saw true. With this guidance, the saw glided straight, deepening the rut of the cut over and over again.

The ruts in our mind also deepen with every pass. It often feels difficult to go in a different direction, to step out of habits, whether they are the deep debilitating ones, or the subtle ones of identification with the parts of you you hide in.

Our patterns are so addictive because they are infused with love. Even the parts of your lifestream you fight are marbled with this essence. The hearty hug of a habit, or thought you know is not good for you, is infused with comfort, the safety of a trench, the feeling of home.

But we can catch a glimpse of a purer love, a Love not entwined with the past, without the constrictions of thoughts. It is freeing. It is to see that you can love not only the traited love of your little self, but the purer, unbounded love that is the Universe as you.

You have a choice any moment to love whichever of these slabs of Love you want to; even if only one does not deepen ruts.

Cutting wood japanese saw

The Battle

I am only ever battling with the present moment.

My striving, my hoping, my imaginations that the future will hold a more perfected version of myself, are the skirmishes.

The war was long. I bargained for peace, I fought viciously with the armies through the mirror, but now I see I will never be more myself than I am in this moment. I see that the battles never, ever had two sides.

I can polish the outer until it shines brightly, but until I stop fighting, until I stop blocking this moment from expressing itself as Life itself, I will not be the source of that shining.

Finished Baking

Last week I cried from a deep longing, a longing overflowing with the fullness of the present moment.

It started from the personal, an ache to go deeper, to resolve the imaginary vectors of cause and effect in my mind.

But then it flowered into the universal, a longing to share the nothingness — alive and complete — of the sunshine on the leaves, of the empty space between the fence and yard, of the delicate knots in the blind cords, of the love charging the longing itself, with the entire world.

And the recipe felt complete; nothing else need be bought, nothing else need be mixed in. It was ready to come out of the oven and be.

How is You

Words have no energy of their own. They are merely carriers of the energies birthed in the big bang of intentions.

How can carry the energy to learn a new skill, to mentally break down a goal into the steps you will need to achieve.

But when it comes to your identity, or any habit making up the strong core of that identity, how is a poison and a prison.

Ask how to be free, how to change a core habit, beg the universe or clench your fists in frustration, but nothing will change.

Stare into the core of the question how, and you will see the questioner, the thought bundle which asks. One cannot exist without the other. How is you.

So, to drop identity in a moment, or forever, stop asking how.

When you stop, how fades into now. And now is a truer you, a you which doesn’t need to move or achieve inwardly, a you which is free.

Walking the Spine

I walked Oso Ridge trail this morning, surrounded by warm air, solitude, and swaying fields of dried grass. The sun welcomed me back to its gentle presence, missing me after days of clouds.

I looked at the stamps of boots and shoes all over the dusty trails, hoping an animal track might jump out.

I pondered about the mind, and the thoughts which seem to always return.

Were thoughts like these footprints, leaving permanent marks?

No. It was beautiful to see in the moment, as the pondering itself came and went, that thoughts leave nothing so obvious.

I then looked to the scurrying ants and racing lizards. Were thoughts like them? They were light enough to barely leave a trace in the dry and dusty ground.

Silence was the only thing pure enough to carry in an answer. I saw that, in the space of who I am now, no thought has ever left a trace. They come and go cleanly. The only ruts, habits and trenches were dug out as a child. Thoughts from those years have sometimes beautifully, and sometimes cruelly, left powerful imprints.

A swarm of overly friendly and equally annoying gnats met me as I went further up. They must’ve had a bet to see who could fly up my nose first. Unfortunately, the sole winner never survived to brag about it to his friends.

The breeze that fanned them away also brushed aside my annoyance. I was back to being as clear as the sky.

No, the best analogy is what teachers have said. Thoughts are like birds through the air. They leave no trace whatsoever.

As I continued uphill, walking the spine of the mountain, I felt like I was a lone, but precious, impulse from the heart to the brain of the planet.

The spine of the mountain

And there was no separation. The emptiness of the sky was who I was, and I was also the mountain the body walked on, and also the lizards, ants and birds. Nothing could leave a trace, for nothing came and went. Nothing was thoughts.

 

 

 

The Ride

Enjoy the roller coaster of Truth.

Relish the slow, building uphills as you dip your toes into different beliefs and practices. Try everything, but check to see if these are giving you true fulfillment. Check they aren’t tricks to keep you glued to time and the belief that answers will come only after the crest.

The first loops of mind-stilling experiences, heart openings, insights, vivid dreams and surrenders are what you’ve always dreamed the path to truth was about.

Or perhaps the coaster you’re on is all too rough for you and you close your eyes and wish for it to be over. Why has it continued so long, for five, twenty or thirty years?

Soon you realize that the ride, no matter how scary or thrilling, only ever brings you back to where you started.

Was it all for naught? Was there a reason to get on this adventure?

Try another go, and see that you never move, you are stillness itself, and it is only the amusement park blurring past you. So, enjoy the dance of Life all around. Participate or not, but nothing touches what you truly are.

Give your heart fully to the world or give it to yourself, they are the same.

 

 

A Trail Through The Forest

To look for I Am, walk through the forest of your mind and feelings, for I Am is the ground that everything in that forest grows in.

Walk past the trees of identity, of your name, your traits, your habits, anything you think you are.

Walk past the gently flowing creeks of spirituality you’ve matured into, thinking this might be closer to what you truly are.

Walk past the muddy marshes of unresolved childhood cries, the knots of thought always tying you in familiar patterns.

Walk past clearings that show beautiful blue skies full of daydreams of future or past, the addictive playthings for your mind.

Finally, stop walking. Look down at what you’ve been walking on all this time and see that it is I Am. See that when you walked by the trees it was there; when you walked past the creeks, marshes and mountains it was there. When you walked past the clearings and boulders it was the only constant, forever under your feet, always supporting your journey.

Desert creek through the mountains

Or, even more simply, throw out all the poetry of nicely written paragraphs. Throw out the idea that I Am is hard to find.

To go directly to I Am, see that you have to walk no where. See that the silent space between any two thoughts, the space filled with living silence, the space closer than anything you’ve ever chased, is simply I Am. It is that which has never changed in all the years of your life.

And, it is the only right answer to who you are.

 

Here

You cannot solve the essential problem of your life, which is the problem of freedom, so all you can do is be here;

Not as a witness, but as here itself.

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