Subtle Nirvana

Do not be dualistic. Truly be one with your life as the subtle mind of nirvana. That is what subtle means. Something is subtle not because it is hidden, nor because it is elusive, but because it is right here. We don’t see it precisely because it is right in front of us. In fact, we are living it.

When we live it we don’t think about it. The minute we think about it, we are functioning in the dualistic state and don’t see our life as the subtle mind of nirvana.

– Maezumi Roshi

A unitive view of birth and death

When loved ones pass away, I don’t think we’ll one day be reunited as much as we’ll forget we were ever separated.

When we pass, I believe our pain and loss dissolves along with our physical and mental memories of the loved ones who passed before us. But, I also believe the folding back of those mental images will illuminate the source of our memories and deep feelings, which is the source of everything.

I think one reason losing a loved one is so painful is because they remind us of that source; the singularity from whence we came and will return. We love who we love because they remind us of the ultimate source, which resides within us both.

This is what marriage is all about; becoming one with another. Our love for our children takes us even closer to the singularity where there is no division, “where the soul never dies.”

This is why people greet each other in so many cultures with a slight bow, with hands pressed together, thinking or saying the words, “the divine within me acknowledges the divine within you.”

From this perspective, we won’t experience less of our loved ones when we pass, but infinitely more. The conceptual separation between us will disappear along with the dualism through which we view the world.

We and the people we love in this world will be what we were before – one and the same.

That’s how I believe we’ll be reunited with our loved ones.

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”  Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end?   You see, the end will be where the beginning is.”

“Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”

~ The Book of Thomas

I believe the only thing we ever “taste” is the anticipation of death. Our clinging to impermanence and its resultant fear is what we actually taste. As the author of this quote from The Book of Thomas described, when you immerse yourself in a unitive worldview and realize the end and the beginning are one-and-the-same, your view of death is no different than your view of birth.

And, we celebrate birth like no other event in our lives! We obviously don’t mourn our loved ones before they’re born because we have no memory of them. Birth is a miraculous transformation of the unseen source of everything into a being who we can perceive with our five senses.

What we call death is merely another transformation of that original unseen source back to that which we cannot perceive with our five senses. Our lives are a natural arising from the unseen to the seen back to the unseen. One fantastic continuum with no beginning and no end. The eternal life we’ve all been promised.

What we mourn then is our memory of those gone before us. And, we can choose to celebrate that memory just as easily as mourn it and be filled with happiness and optimism rather than pain and remorseful nostalgia.

And that of course is what all of our loved ones, both past and present, want us to do.

Let go and breathe

I understand Nirvana is a Sanskrit word which means literally “breathing out”. Whewww. Letting go of your breath = a particular concept of heaven? So, if you cling to your breath, you will lose it. Interesting. It reminds me of the bible verse, Luke 9:24 – “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it…”

The concepts of clinging and letting go, transience and impermanence, living and dying, all fit together like a puzzle and transcend cultures and theologies.

What’s on TV

The vast stage of entertainment that envelops our culture is intended to impart the opposite of ekstasis.  Mass entertainment plays to the basest and crudest instincts of the crowd.  It conditions us to have the same aspirations and desires.  It forces us to speak in the same dead clichés and slogans.  It homogenizes human experience.  It wallows in a cloying nostalgia and sentimentalism that foster historical amnesia.

It turns the Other into a cartoon or a stereotype.  It prohibits empathy because it prohibits understanding.  It denies human singularity and uniqueness.  It assures us that we all have within us the ability, talent or luck to become famous and rich.  It forms us into a lowing and compliant herd.  We have been conditioned to believe—defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell—that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained.

If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods.

– Chris Hedges, Retribution for a World Lost in Screens

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Don’t Care

My grandad was born in 1890 and was in the Army during WW1. In 1970 or 71 the initial modern gay rights movement was in full swing and the word “queer” was being used in the media and of course kids were saying the word a lot even if we didn’t understand what it meant.

When my siblings and I would tell grandad goodnight we would often ask him questions about the old days. One night my older brother asked grandad if there were queers back when he was in the war. My grandad looked at my brother and said, “Queers? Queers. You mean funny boys? Oh, yes, we had funny boys. They didn’t bother us and we didn’t bother them.” He was describing the US Army in 1917.

Sometimes we think the various issues we grapple with as a society are unique to our time. But, when we’re lucky enough to visit with an elder about earlier times, inevitably we discover there is indeed nothing new under the sun.