Archive for Death & Dying

May
29

LIKE A TREE

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LIKE A TREE 5-29-2014

I stay aware of the moment and be like the tree is “being.”

The tree and I are both beings in this amazing circus of life.

The tree I see outside my window has nothing to do except be—nothing to prove, no judgments to make and in the breeze its leaves tremble.

The tree gets shot at and it never gets excited,

Birds build their nest in the tree and it never complains that the birds are noisy, dirty and they crap on it;

In the park dogs raise their hind leg and pee on it.

The tree never complains and always just retains its beingingness and observes the circus of life.

When I go on my walk my mind is still like a tree.

I observe a squadron of pelicans fly by and I realize they are part of the circus, and I’m in the circus with them.

I see cars roll by with the windows down and music blaring and people bebopping to the music and I feel one with them—we are all part of the exciting marvelous circus.

When I’m chopped down I’ll quietly go unperturbed like the tree as my “beingness” expands into the infinite Circus.

This is my final post. Many thanks to the few who have viewed and commented on my posts.

Feb
18

JOURNEY TO THE LIGHT

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Brilliancy overspreading all
All embracing Brilliancy
Beyond the beyond
Beyond within
Aha!
 
Leaving the womb’s sheltered sea
I was gently slapped and then set free.
The wonderment of warm first breath
And mothers white and downy breast
My grasping fingers held hers tight.
 
The miracle of walking and bicycle riding
Awakening sex and library reading
Pale moon light and golden sun
Nothing did I ever shun-
Ranging the universe exploring.
 
Resisting limitations and avoiding strife
Wanton pleasures filled my life.
In springtime frenzied pleasures reigned.
In frenzy, happiness I feigned.
In turmoil festered like a boil.
 
Non-penitent pennants fly high.
Jingoistic emblems darken the sky and
Egoistic and erotic signs all follow.
Heartache and tears in its hallow
My ship carries unhappy cargo.
 
In ripening years I yearn to be
Calm like a tree and leave the sea.
At dawn into a quiet bay I sail
Away from the open sea and the great white whale.
I take my tattered ensigns down.
 
I explored all aspects of the golden rule
And in the mirror I see a fool.
The golden rule became my guide
To the years now opened wide
To the golden gateway of the stars.
 
I turned to American Indian religion
And embraced all nature with happy freedom:
The shining stars and pale moon light
Redwood trees on the mountainside
The Great Spirit points the way
 
In the still of the night She speaks,
Her voice caressing me
And my heart beat to Her insistent beat.
 
“I shot luminous stardust into
Space with you in mind,
You! With Your greed, your lust, your rage,
Your killing fields,
You! So full of compassion and love,
Listener of Beethoven, and Puccini arias
I fashioned you to dance, stumble and
Rise again and dance towards the light”
 
I find the calmness of the tree
And see Broad white sails approaching me
Above the sparkling sea and
My arms open wide to embrace the Light.
 
Aha!
Beyond within
Beyond the beyond
All embracing Brilliancy
Brilliancy overspreading all
 
 
Feb
17

SEA OF LOVE

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SEA OF LOVE

Infinity:

Containing

Everything

(Including

Stars and planets

And me)

Is a sea of

Love

Which I’ll

Fall into

When I die

Like

A snowflake

Returning home

 

Jan
30

NEARING THE FINISH LINE

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Batteries are running down. 
Energy gone but I must plod along. 
I know the finish line is near 
But where exactly is unclear. 
The finish line glows golden 
In the shadow of destruction.
 
I’ve begun to say goodbye.
Goodbye to quickstep on dance floor.
Goodbye to war the young man’s sport.
Goodbye to struggle to stay alive.
Goodbye to fighting to get mine.
Goodbye to depression loss-gain and jive,
 
Memories scurry off real fast
Like bob tailed lizards in tall grass
 
Mountains no longer beckon,
All races now are done.
I’m relaxed in the outgoing tide.
A squadron of pelicans lumber by
Like bombers delivering their load of destruction.
 
Stardust traces its arc from heaven
To every heart in every nation.
Diamond-dew in Dulcet Park
Where lovers embrace in the dark
Beneath a mantle of moon and stars.
Face to face their eyes caress each other’s soul.
 
Eyes grow dim and the Light burns brighter
Puccini arias fill my soul
I’ll lay down in repose and
Allow my eyes to finally close
The day my music dies.
 
Jan
09

BRIGHT LIGHT BEYOND THE BOURNE

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Breath inhaling life,
Mother’s pure white downy breast,
My grasping fingers
Mother’s finger holding tight.
Young memory lingers on.
 
Moon light, rising sun,
Midnight crazy-fun delights,
Walking, bicycling,
Sex on car hood and much more
Opens wide the cellar door.
 
Limitation’s strife,
Seeking pleasure and delights.
Unbound egotism,
Grasping for the easy life.
Darkened shadows on the shore.
 
Goodbye great white whale.
I leave the dark and stormy sea
And sail into the quiet bay.
Golden rule becomes my guide.
Calmness on the quay and shore.
 
The glittering guide
Opens the gleaming portal
Of the distant Bourne.
Parting clouds reveal the sun–
Golden gateway to the stars.
 
Embraced all nature:
Trees on mountain’s bosom, bugs,
Birds, cats, bats, rats and–
Shining stars and pale moon light.
Exploring all, nothing shunned.
 
I hark the lambent Light.
I hear her speak beneath the trees
Found in Dulcet Park.
She speaks to me with glowing heat
And shows me her bright bosom.

 

“I shot luminous stardust into space
with you in mind.
You! With your greed, your lust, your rage,
your killing fields,
You! So full of compassion and love,
and listener of Puccini arias.
I fashioned you to dance, stumble and
Rise again and dance towards the light”

 

Gone the gloom of night.
Above the swells bright sails approach.
My beating heart expands and
I open wide my trembling arms for
The Light beyond the Bourne
Oct
20

THE LIGHT

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      1.
The Light 
 
Inwardly I found the Light which
Illuminates the calm tree
and the steadfast ground on which it stands.
 
Outwardly rules dogma and jingoistic ensigns,
badges and emblems and ethnocentric icons
have been absorbed by the Light.
 
My steps feel lighter now (although if you saw
me you would think them heavy) and I nestle in
The Light, the all encompassing Light and
Surrender to its sweet embrace.
—-neil bezaire
 
      2. 
The Light
Through the prism eye of love all is beauty. From
Nothing am I estranged. I embrace my
Prickly neighbor who never smiles or
Looks my way. The prism eye of love
Looks through the porous clay
Of every face and marks
The radiance within.
—neil bezaire
Aug
15

WILL I CRY WHEN I DIE

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WILL I CRY WHEN I DIE

You know the day destroys the night; the night destroys the day; so break on through, break on through, break on through to the other side.

Jim Morrison (1943—1971)

          I know I’ll die, but I’m less certain about what lies beyond the divide. In the grave is there only blackness? Or is there Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity? When asked what happens to us after we die, the Zen monk replied: “I don’t know, I haven’t died yet.” But like munching on a cardboard cracker, yearning hearts find that response unfulfilling. We begin looking around, making deductions, learning, thinking, observing and arriving at conclusions. Beliefs in what lies on the other side range from nihilistic darkness to theistic brilliancy.

One’s view of consciousness shapes and colors beliefs about the afterlife.

Those who view consciousness as nothing more than a computer-like brain process are likely to view death as the black-screen of death. We are born, we copulate, we die and we are no more.

Those who view consciousness as personal to one’s “self”—the soul, are likely to believe in heaven and hell and a judgment day.

In The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin explored the nature of consciousness and concluded consciousness (primordial energy or God) supports everything. Those who view consciousness as the ground of everything are likely to believe that our bodies are a manifestation of consciousness—not separate and apart but part of the whole.

Platonists believed that biological death liberates consciousness from the body’s impediments and then everything is known, seen and understood with infinite clarity, an infinity of “aha moments.”

I think that almost all who believe in an afterlife recognize that to avoid the “black-screen of death” consciousness somehow needs to survive and break on through to the other side. Regarding this, David, posted this comment:  “As I was reading this [the blog on death] it occurred to me that death is like sending an email. The email never actually physically exists. It is only an idea in the form of electrical energy. When I send an email to you nothing actually physical goes from my computer to yours. Only the idea in the form of energy goes across the divide. Perhaps death is the same way. Our energy is sent like an email to an alternate universe outside of space and time. Does it reform as consciousness on the other side? We will have to wait and see.”

David’s comment provides a fascinating analogy for how consciousness-energy might make it through to the other side. It coincides with my belief that consciousness does indeed survive death. My belief on what will happen to my consciousness after death is not based on any ideology or dogmatism. It’s based on my looking around, making deductions, learning, and thinking, observing and arriving at conclusions that sound about right for me. Homo sapiens have been around for only about 40,000 years. I imagine that after we’ve been around for one billion years our consciousness will be so expanded that we will be aware of both sides of the divide.

Some of the commonly held beliefs about the afterlife are below, and afterwards I will add my own view.

Atheists naturally have no belief in an afterlife. Their advantage is they see no need pondering on an afterlife they don’t believe exists.

Agnostics have no belief about an afterlife either way. To an agnostic “There is no God” is as meaningless as the statement “God exists”—neither being susceptible to philosophical proof.

Organized religions have many different views of an afterlife life including one of God sitting on a throne attended by a squadron of angels with all the deceased blissfully basking in God’s brilliancy.

The humanistic view is based on the notion that since the beginning of time the vast majority of people, including the greatest and wisest of them, from vastly divergent cultures have all entertained some kind of belief in an afterlife. How could such a widespread instinct exist without the possibility of it being satisfied?

I imagine that when it’s my time to die the following scenario will play out.

I foresee no cure for death—at some point Soul will escape my bag of bones; it will take flight and speed into the light. Soul, which never really was “my” soul, will expand into an infinity beyond imagining. But before my soul takes flight I must go through the process of dying. The process can be as abrupt as a lightening strike or as prolonged as a lover’s absence. It can be as fearful as an assassin’s knife or as tranquil as a mother’s smile. My ideal death would be to lie down when the end is near and surrender to death’s sweet embrace. Regardless of how I die death will be welcome. If it’s painful then it will be a welcome release. If it’s the end of an illness without pain then I will cast off on a chorus of bon-voyages and with full awareness expand into the universe.

No time—no past—no future. I see from the beginning of time to the end of time. I see without fear, greed, lust and anger non-judgmentally. Unprismed eyes see the Light and I feel the ecstasy of a thousand roses offering themselves to me. I see universes forming and dying; my awareness expands into every universe and slips into every atom effortlessly. When I experience the rose with pure awareness, there is no separation of the rose from the universe. The observer, the rose, and the universe are one. I participate in the cosmic dance and I’m joyfully dancing, dancing, dancing. I partner with everything, including primordial consciousness. I view all the worlds, all the possibilities. In the eternal moment I see that in a billion years biological matter is incandescent with consciousness. The divide between life and death has been reduced to a filmy membrane which filters out matter as the soul passes on through to the other side. The universe is filled with the music of the spheres;

Before crossing over to the other side I wondered persistently about many things including the following: I wondered about Aldoux Huxley’s wondering about being born under one law, to another bound; vainly begot and yet forbidden vanity; created sick and commanded to be sound; he wondered “What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws, passion and reason, self-division’s cause?” I wondered why God was always “on our side” during wars, lynchings and massacres, ping-pong, football games and Monoply. Did God cast aside the other side? I wonder why there is so much violence—legal murders we call war, why galaxies gobble up their neighbors, why life feeds on life? Why ups AND downs. Why not just a steady improvement and movement towards perfection? I wondered if I would be reincarnated. I wondered why love can cause so much joy AND so much grief, pain and sorrow. I wondered why I wondered why; why couldn’t I just look away and let things be?

After crossing over to the other side I no longer wonder. With a glance I see with great clarity what lies behind the veil of wonderment. In a sidelong glance I’m aware of the past and future rolled up into the eternal now. Everything is known and seen and understood with infinite clarity—an infinity of “aha” moments—Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity. 

Awareness Exercise

Picture yourself on the planet Earth and visualize your atoms, particles, and underlying energy resonating and interacting with the energy of the Earth. Feel yourself at one with the Earth. Relax and just be aware without thinking or making judgments of any kind. Picture the Earth, a piece of dust floating in the black void, in the midst of billions of galaxies in black space. Let your awareness encompass the Earth, the solar system, the Milky Way, the universe, and finally, let your awareness be absorbed by the primordial energy. See it and feel it until it becomes as real for you as the rising sun

Picture yourself lying in the fetal position. Step outside your body and observe yourself lying there. Ask yourself, “What is me?”  Continue asking yourself, “What is me?” and get a feel for it so that you see, feel, and understand me.

          Imagine your left foot disappearing. Is your me diminished in any way? Next imagine your right foot disappearing. Is your me diminished? Imagine the rest of your body parts disappearing one by one. After each part disappears, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?” Finally, when all your body parts have disappeared, including your head and brain, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?”

Repeat the Awareness exercise, only this time imagine the disappearance, one by one, of your home, automobile, clothing, money, friends, relatives, job, the stars, sun and earth, and observe your me in the solitude of the cosmic sea. After each loss ask yourself, “Has my me been diminished?” Finally, when all your possessions and the universe have disappeared, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?” See your me. Feel it. Can anything hurt it?

When all prisms drop I clearly see bright

Broad sails above the frothy foam and my arms

Open wide to embrace the undistorted light.

 

#########

Aug
12

QUESTION

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Why depression, sorrow, death, loss and pain,
Black dogs of war slurping our children’s blood?
The question:  is it to our life germane?
If not so, why do at night bright stars flood?
 
Chaos: sovereign over seen and unseen.
Galaxies colliding, stars exploding,
Green, buzzing, swarming locusts strip fields clean,
The bacteria feeds on everything.
 
But empyrean crackles and flows through
Eternity’s infinite pinhole arc
To flower fields, to diamond morning dew,
To lovers entwining in Dulcet Park.
 
When the deeply buried seed awakens,
Earth will become as it is in heaven.
Mar
12

Letter To Dear Readers

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What follows comes from a letter I recently wrote to dear friends, Kathy and Gene St. Pierre,  a married couple who thirty-five years ago inspired Momo and me to attend a Marriage Encounter weekend.

The experience helped us smooth out a turbulent patch in our marriage.

Without Gene and Kathy’s help, Momo and I, our marriage, would undoubtedly have crashed and burned, the turbulence was that bad.

I’ve had chest congestion for the past week and it’s fogging up my brain.

I’ve been working on a new essay, but my foggy brain keeps me from completing it.

Today my friend thanked me for the letter with such enthusiasm that I decided to read it.

I thought “Hmm, with some modification this letter can become a letter to the readers.

And so, with Gene and Kathy’s permission, here I am scavenging their letter.  

A writer, Knut Hamsun, whose books I enjoy reading, when in his eighties, cynically wrote: “The advice of the old is like the setting winter sun: it sheds light but does not warm us.”

Hamsun’s cynical comment notwithstanding, I will post this blog and hope it sheds some light and warmth. 

LETTER TO YOU, DEAR READER

Momo and I are healthy and happy and hope you are too.

There is no drama in our lives.

One day follows the next, time passes, no anxieties, no fears; we just serenely move along accepting whatever comes our way knowing that it does us more harm then good to rage and complain.

At our age we have seen so many ups and downs that we finally get it, and I’m sure you do too.

Ups invariably follow downs so why worry, just wait it out.

I guess that as death finally takes hold and pulls us down into the ground we will worry that that is an ultimate downer, without an upper following it.

But, who knows.

I know I’ll die, but I’m less certain about what lies beyond the grave.

Is there only blackness?

Or are there Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity.

I’m inclined to believe that after my death, my consciousness, my soul will expand into timeless infinity, into Primordial Energy, into God’s embrace.

I will experience infinite aha-moments as I become aware of all of existence–the path of every atom, molecule, every life form; every decision and every secret intention that was ever made and their causes.

And, Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, love, ecstasy and authenticity will brim my soul with joy.

Lately, I dwell on death; the process of dying, what to expect afterwards, and in that context what I should do with the few grains of sand left in my hour glass.

And I’ve finally reached a conclusion.

The most important thing for me is to use the final fumes left in my tank to make life a little better for Momo, the family, friends, and strangers I meet on the street.

It makes it easier for me to curb my temper, when I consider, that if I don’t, I’ll unleash bad vibes that make life miserable for those around me.

Sometimes, of course, I still fail to curb my temper, although it happens far less now.

Failing to curb my temper proves that that is not a good strategy for making life pleasant for those around me.

It’s worse then shooting myself in the foot.

Well, these are just some thoughts I’ve accumulated in my heart, like moss clinging to the north side of a tree.

I hold them out for you dear reader as I would a fragrant rose.

I find it peculiar that the atoms and molecules can carry my thoughts to you but cannot carry the rose to you.

Perhaps in ten thousand years.

Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.

 

Jan
12

Finding Ecstasy in Absurdity

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The merry-go-round in the sky spins round

And up and down while spinning around

And sometimes it breaks down.

Never pausing, never ending, chaos roams the universe.

Galaxies collide, stars dim, black holes devour everything.

Nations plan for war as casually as state dinners.

Ironically named smart bombs annihilate wedding parties, and red rain falls.

Love grows bitter with treason, hearts harden like stone when love stalls.

Heroin shooting parents torment their children, raging people pumping bullets;

Chaos everywhere—in meditation gardens earthworms mobbed by ants die deaths of a thousand cuts; locusts strip clean fields of green; bacteria feeds on everything; the earth rumbles and cities crumble; the wind blows and homes explode; unremitting rain drowns everything on the plain.

As the earth spins round love can be found—and Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, acceptance, compassion, and authenticity.

We ask: why soak the earth with blood? 

What drives depression, suicide and genocide?

Why born one way, commanded to be another?

Why pain, why sorrow?

Why not always Puccini Arias, morning mists in flower fields, acceptance, love, compassion and authenticity?

Like the Oracle at Delphi, theologians and philosophers answer us—don’t kill, don’t steal don’t lie; love one another; don’t mess with another’s mate; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

To escape from suffering, contemplate beauty, sympathize with others and self discipline yourself.

The noted philosopher, Spinoza, reminded us that whenever anything in nature seems to us ridiculous, absurd or evil it is because we have but a partial knowledge of things.

The Indian mystic, Krishnamurti, urges: don’t philosophize just be aware, just be—and toxic emotions will slip away.

THE LAST WORD

Just be he said, silk blouse unbuttoning

I am she said, slippery blouse sliding to the floor

Uncertainty both admitting.

 When fully aware we just are, she said

Perception without toxic emotions, he said

Uncertainty receding, let’s fuck she said

Ancient China Teaches Acceptance

A man named Sei Weng owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide.

One day this beautiful horse disappeared.

The people of his village offered sympathy to Sei Weng for his great misfortune.

Sei Weng said simply, “That’s the way it is.”

A few days later the lost mare returned, followed by a beautiful wild stallion.

The village congratulated Sei Weng for his good fortune.

He said, “That’s the way it is.”

Some time later, Sei Weng’s only son, while riding the stallion, fell off and broke his leg.

The village people once again expressed their sympathy at Sei Weng’s misfortune.

Sei Weng again said, “That’s the way it is.”

Soon thereafter, war broke out and all the young men of the village except Sei Weng’s lame son were drafted and were killed in battle.

The village people were amazed as Sei Weng’s good luck.

His son was the only young man left alive in the village.

But Sei Weng kept his same attitude: despite all the turmoil, gains and losses, he gave the same reply, “That’s the way it is.”

So where does all this leave us?

Emptying ourselves of toxic emotions and accepting fate, we see realms of beauty and serenity with clear bright eyes opened wide.

Joy beckons and fills up our senses. Primordial energy absorbs us like a raindrop falling into the cosmic sea and we find ecstasy in absurdity.

AWARENESS EXERCISE

While in a comfortable position prepare yourself for pondering.

Picture yourself trying to decide what clothes to wear, what food to eat, where to go, what to do, how to behave, how to pay the bills, what’s right and what’s wrong.

Observe the effect this activity has upon your mind, your body and your heart.

Picture yourself in a place you consider peaceful and calm: an alpine mountain with pine fragrance in the air at sunrise, a redwood forest, a bluff overlooking the ocean, or a church.

If you can actually go there, that would even be better.

Mentally shed all your possessions and let your consciousness encompass the universe from the beginning of time to the end of time.

Let the boundaries of your consciousness dissolve and feel it blend in with the primordial Godhead.

If any emotions or judgments appear, let your consciousness observe them without any struggling.

Do not resist by thinking “I don’t want the emotions or thoughts.”

The emotions and the thoughts are “what is,” so just observe and let them dissipate like the morning mist while you joyfully expand into primordial energy. 

Here’s another one: Picture yourself on the planet Earth and visualize your atoms, particles, and underlying energy resonating and interacting with the energy of the Earth.

Feel yourself at one with the Earth.

Relax and just be aware without thinking or making judgments of any kind.

Picture the Earth, a mote of dust gliding into the void.

Let your awareness flow over the Earth, see it slde across the solar system, observe it spread over the Milky Way, the universe, and finally, feel it empty into the boundless sea of primordial energy.

See it and feel it until it becomes as real for you as the rising sun.

A classical Zen Awareness exercise:

Being chased by a hungry tiger you are forced to climb over a cliff and hang onto a vine.

One hundred feet below—two more hungry tigers are waiting for you to drop.

You spy a beautiful wild strawberry plant loaded with ripe berries glistening with dew.

You focus your attention on the berries and pick and eat them slowly one by one —how sweet they are!

Observe your state of mind.

Carry it a step further: the vine breaks and you fall with total awareness of the air flowing around you.

Again imagine yourself climbing over the cliff; this time you are screaming and cursing.

You don’t notice the strawberries; you lose your grip and claw and scream all the way down.

Death is inevitable.

Ponder on choosing which way you choose to die and note the choice which leaves you with the satisfied feeling that under the circumstances it is the best you can do.

Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.

 

Jan
06

Consciousness and Me

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Defining pornography is impossible.

United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in 1964 abandoned his efforts to define pornography by saying that I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be pornography “but I know it when I see it.”

To which a wag commented, “It’s in the groin of the beholder.”

Defining consciousness is likewise impossible.

But you know it when you see it.

It’s in the heart of the beholder.

Teilhard de Chardin, a world renowned scientist, explored the nature of consciousness in his book, The Phenomenon of Man by extrapolation from what is known.

He observed that when matter is traced backward in space and time it becomes finer and finer until, at the level of subatomic particles, matter fluctuates between mass and energy.

And beyond the subatomic particles, beyond matter, there is only primordial energy, primordial consciousness.

Chardin reached the conclusion that Primordial Consciousness and our Consciousness is one and the same—there is only Universal Consciousness.

It’s the whole ball of wax. 

Why does consciousness

Hide in dark crevices

Like my beloved

In a Chador?

Who when revealing herself

Brims my heart with joy.

Over thousands of years of recorded history many names have been applied to Primordial Consciousness—Jehovah, Allah, God, Jesus, Buddha, The Light, Para Brahman and Shiva being just a few.

Consciousness is also known as “What is,” “Truth,” “Love,” and “Me” as in “Consciousness is the me that is not affected by the physical.

For example, if my leg is cut off, does it diminish the essence of who I am, the “me.”

Consciousness is that ineffable infinity that withstands every effort to be labeled or named.

It cannot be squeezed into the box.

Naming God is one thing, experiencing God by whatever name is quite another.

There are many ways one can experience God and they all require that we follow the path of our heart.

Following the path of our heart requires that through some form of meditation we expand and deepen within ourselves authenticity, awareness, acceptance and compassion—in a word: goodness.

Hectic modern life makes it difficult to practice formal sitting meditation where one quiets the mind by following one’s breathing in and breathing out.

But there are many ways to quiet the mind and one should use whatever method is suitable to one’s own inclination, physical and mental condition, and lifestyle.

You might try sitting in a comfortable position and imagining a golden thread pulling your head into alignment with the erect spine.

Slowly breath in and breath out and become totally aware of the inflow and out flow of your breath to the exclusion of all else.

Whenever thoughts intrude do not resist them, follow them moving across the back of your eyelids and letting them disappear on their own.

The purpose of the exercise is to let the toxic emotions like anger, fear, greed and lust dissipate and leave your mind clear and serene.

When we observe without judgment, without thinking, without desire, without anger or fear, we are observing with pure awareness, and at the same time we are experiencing consciousness, the light within, the God within.

Zen people say that staying in the moment is living your life “every moment Zen.”

Staying in the moment gives rise to pure awareness, pure seeing which observes without judgment, fear, or emotional disturbance.

When you stay in the moment time slows down, the chatter in the mind diminishes and the world becomes brighter, lighter and more peaceful.

Try imagining yourself observing a rose.

See the rose take your breath away and fill your heart with joy before any judgment, desire, emotion, or thought intrudes.

At that moment, before any judgment, desire, emotion, or thought intrudes, your pure consciousness is expressing itself by pure awareness.

You just see the beauty in the rose, without judgment, or desire to pluck the rose from the bush.

The Dalai Lama has observed that we all are the same in that we all want happiness and we all want to avoid suffering.

He also observed that when we are loving, understanding and compassionate we tend to be happy and when we are angry, greedy and judgmental we tend to become un-happy.

Paradoxically by thinking more about the welfare of others we increase our own happiness.

By our example we reduce the bad vibrations around us that our so toxic to ourselves and others.

This approach is followed by “Y. E. S.” a non-dogmatic program created by Dr. Thomas Hedberg which he dedicated to the personal and spiritual growth of the individual.

Y.E.S. focuses on achieving a better understanding of the self, a richer relationship with others, and a more personal experience with God (Primordial energy).

The program is enormously successful and has spread around the world, to North and South America, Europe and Africa and Asia.

Y.E.S. is based on the premise that focusing on the goodness of others, in helping the other grow and experience their inner light opens up a clear path to our own happiness. http://www.youthencounterspirit.com/

Consciousness as an awareness of the primordial energy, of God, guides human affairs by assigning to them a moral value.

Our consciousness enables us to convert the electrical-molecular activity of the brain into value.

Organized religion is a great depository of spirituality and accumulated wisdom which can help us follow the path of our heart.

Regretfully, over the centuries organized religion has created a bureaucracy which is more inclined to self aggrandizement than advancing moral human values.

Instead of promoting a brotherhood of man the bureaucracy has operated in ways that push humanity into warring camps—woman vs. men, Muslims vs. Christians, believers vs. non believers, sect vs. sect.

When the Buddha was asked: “Are you God?” He replied: “No, I am awake.”

In Zen Flesh, Zen Bones when the monk was asked “What is Buddha?” he replied “Dried dung.”

Even more shocking is another comment: “when you meet the Buddha on the road, ‘kill him’.”

These are efforts to shut down the mind in an effort to break through to consciousness.

The Buddha urged his followers to rely upon themselves, to rely on the path of their own heart, to rely on their own light.

And when you meet the Buddha on the road, “kill him.”

Awareness Exercise

With your mind’s eye, trace your evolution backwards to the big bang and beyond.

Contemplate the primordial energy that gave birth to our universe.

Gaze upon it with an empty mind, a mind free of thoughts, judgments, and emotions.

Allow the primordial energy to reveal itself to you.

Maybe nothing will reveal itself to you in the beginning.

But later, maybe in weeks, maybe in months, or even years, a glimmer in the mind and a movement in the heart, like a spark, or a sliver of light will cut through everything and you will know that all is imbued with Primordial Conscious.

If you become impatient or discouraged, do not censure yourself, just quietly observe your impatience, discouragement, and censure until they dissipate and you are back with your quiet observer that sees but never judges, your quiet observer that can encompass the universe and embrace the primordial energy.

While evolution of our physical aspect has slowed down, our psyche has cast off its terrestrial moorings and is gaining speed as it heads out across the cosmic sea.

When all prisms drop I clearly see

Bright white sails above the frothy foam

and

My arms open wide to embrace the light.

COMMENTS: Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.

Dec
25

Dying is Difficult

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Talking about death in polite society is like farting at a cocktail party; people tend to become embarrassed and agitated if the subject of death is brought up in conversation.

Although it’s certain all of us will experience it, it’s almost impossible to get others to talk about it and to compare notes on it.

“It” being death.  

And the phenomenon of death is generally not a subject taught in schools.

Maybe it’s my octogenarian age, but I like exploring the topic of death.

I’m not referring primarily about the biological process of dying, although I believe everyone should have some idea of what to expect.

I’m interested in the various ways people die and the choices we have in the matter.

Do I close my eyes to the various possibilities open to me, or do I just go along with the default system, which usually starts with a 911 call, followed by a trip to the emergency room. 

And then depending upon the situation, an MRI or CAT scan is performed, a stay in the ICU follows where you’re hooked up, wired up, intubated and drugged.

After the medical warriors, with their formidable arsenal of technology, have beaten back death once more, you’re sent home patched-up and pallid, weak and wobbly.

Then, when Death inevitably gets close once again, the lamentable cycle is frantically repeated–911 call, ICU, hooked up, wired up, intubated and drugged.

The cost of each trip could easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a great amount of anguish—depleting both the family’s resources and the body’s energy.

At the end, Death appears in the ICU to unlock the door to your prison and allow your soul to take flight towards the light.

Surely there has to be a better way to start out on what I believe will be the greatest adventure of my life. And I find it confusingly amazing that society discourages us from discussing the possibilities.

Einstein wrote to the widow of an old friend, Besso, that death is not the end, and the fact that Besso departed from this strange world a little ahead of him means nothing.

People like us, he told her, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

Immortality doesn’t mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether.

Einstein found it peculiar that society finds it difficult to accept biological death as inevitable.

The poet, Dylan Thomas, expressed society’s sentiments as follows:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
.

We spend thousands, hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars on medical resources to squeeze out a few extra days of life like we squeeze out the last bit of dried toothpaste.

Doctors train to squeeze out the last brittle bit of toothpaste no matter the cost.

If left alone our exhausted body in its own good time would die naturally.

I suspect that because we have ignored the prospect of death and haven’t given it much thought, when death draws close we think it’s “lights out,” annihilation, and our mind and emotions become agitated and we panic.

And we all know that discussing how medical resources should be allocated is political suicide for a politician.

He or she might just as well swallow a cyanide pill.

As part of the training to become a hospice volunteer, students perform mind exercises where they imagine themselves dying.

The instructor takes the students through the dying process step by step.

MIND EXERCISE

Picture yourself lying in the fetal position. Step outside your body and observe yourself lying there. Ask yourself, “What is me?”  Continue asking yourself, “What is me?” and get a feel for it so that you see, feel, and understand me.

Imagine your left foot disappearing. Is your me diminished in any way? Next imagine your right foot disappearing. Is your me diminished? Imagine the rest of your body parts disappearing one by one. After each part disappears, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?” Finally, when all your body parts have disappeared, including your head and brain, ask yourself, “Is my me diminished?”

The world has only finite medical resources so it becomes a matter of their wise allocation.

Children and young people should receive what ever medical resources are required to keep them in good health because society depends on them to maintain a robust society and to support the old people no longer able to work.

Older people like me only need to receive treatment for the common ailments and in the end receive palliative care to make the end of our life comfortable.

One can reasonably question whether it’s really a good use of limited resources to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for open heart surgery, organ transplants and chemo therapy just so old people like me can hang around a few extra days on the planet.

And especially when there’s not enough resources to meet the medical needs of children who have their whole life before them.

I wonder if the allocation of medical resources is perversely inverted because old people are organized and vote and have political clout while children have hardly any political clout at all, especially if they live in poverty.

In most cases death is attended by irrelevance, futile attempts to hold on and control.

Even if the dying person wants to let go, the families frantically worry the doctor to continue the Sisyphus task of keeping their loved one alive.

The doctors, because of their training and out of fear of malpractice, hook up the dying person to the machines, inserts needles into their arms and tubes down their throat in a vain effort to beat back death.

Ideally, death for the elderly should be a serene experience under supervision of Hospice. In my hospice volunteer service I visited dying patients to give the caregiver a four hour break from caring for their loved one.

The patients usually were serene and seemed to have no fear of death.

During our conversations they would tell me how they felt about dying and what their expectations were after their biological death. Even though I told them, I often wondered whether the person realized how much I enjoyed our conversations and how much I learned from them. The smile on their face and the joy emanating from their eyes would fill my heart with joy.

An excellent book on this subject is

Death: The Final Stage of Growth by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

COMMENTS: Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.

Dec
19

Acceptance

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By a man without passions I mean one who does not permit good or evil to disturb his inward economy, but rather falls in with what happens and does not add to the sum of his mortality. Chuang Tzu

Disquietude is always vanity, because it serves no good. Yes, even if the whole world were thrown into confusion and all things in it, disquietude on that account would be vanity. St. John of the Cross

I can accept life’s offerings or reject them; but I must live with the consequences in the end.

Rejecting what fate is offering leads to unsuspected suffering.

When I accept my destiny my life becomes more carefree.

Acceptance is simply willingness to endure things without useless complaining.

It means doing the best one can and wisely leaving the rest in the hands of fate.

Doing our best is within our control, but the results of our efforts are beyond our control.

For example, when we travel between our home and the grocery store (any point A and point B will serve just as well), no matter how well we plan the trip and no matter how careful we are in carrying out our plan, there are just too many things happening in the world over which we have no control that can prevent our trip from going exactly as planned—nails in the road, other vehicles, pedestrians, car breakdowns, illnesses, car hijackings, drunk drivers, airplanes falling from the sky, and so on.

Acceptance is a mode of living.

It means going with the flow.

We live in the acceptance mode when we observe what life is presenting to us without anger, fear, or resentment and proceed serenely from there.

 Honda is a good corporate example.

When the United States government set strict standards to reduce pollution emissions, Honda said simply that it would have to work hard to meet the standards.

It did so, and on time.

By contrast the American carmakers complained that it was unrealistic of the government to expect them to meet the strict standards, dragged their feet, and fell behind.

Life’s unfolding presents us with a kaleidoscope of events to which we must respond—a friend betrays us, illness strikes, we are reprimanded in front of our co-workers, we lose our job, our investments fail, a loved one dies, and so on.

Acceptance is a way of responding to such situations.

Acceptance requires that we observe without censure, fear, or anger what life presents to us.

Acceptance requires us to quietly observe, and allow our mind to settle down so that we are observing with detachment, with pure awareness.

Observing with pure awareness clears our vision and enables us to put forth our best efforts.

Acceptance of what fate has in store for us leaves us in a state of detachment, a state where bias does not cloud our vision and fear does not weaken our ability to act effectively.

Struggling with what fate is offering uselessly wastes our energy.

The Samurai warrior contemplated life and death with equanimity.

Pure awareness and detachment enabled Zen-influenced Samurai warriors to respond to danger with lightening quick moves.

Acceptance requires that we observe with detachment.

A state of pure awareness arises when anger, fear, greed, and the like, do not cloud our vision.

Observe what happens if we are angry and we wish that we were not so angry. We have created a tension between the reality of our anger and the concept “we should not be so angry” thereby not accepting the fact that we are angry.

Suppression and refusal to accept our anger—to accept reality—creates tension between the reality of our anger and what we wish, and our mind is in worse condition than when it was simply angry.

Look what happens if we refuse to accept the anger, and struggle with it.

Our mind, which before was only in an angry state, now has the additional turmoil and stress caused by our efforts to suppress our anger and our wish that it, our anger, didn’t exist.

Observe what happens when we accept our anger and note what it is doing to our mind and body.

We feel adrenaline pumping, and blood rushing to the brain.

Does anyone need tell us that anger is bad for us—for our physical and mental health?

Notice what happens when we look within and allow our silent observer, our consciousness, to simply observe the content of our mind, without thinking about it, judging it, or trying to suppress it.

There is no struggle; there is only the reality of our condition and a consciousness that is clear and free to observe that condition.

When a loved one betrays us and we start to hate him or her, our silent observer can see the hate within us.

If we gaze on the hate without judgment or desire or efforts to suppress or reject it, we will presently see the entire processes of hate.

We will see how it arises because of a judgment we have made.

We will see it clouding our minds and making it impossible to see the person we hate as they really are.

We will see hate’s corrosive action upon our minds and bodies.

When we see the entire process of hate and its effect upon us, our hate will gently melt away like the sun-kissed snowflake on the garden wall.

When we look within and see our mind chattering like a flock of wild parrots, or we see that our desire for ever more power, wealth, and fame is causing us anxiety, thinking something like, “God, I wish my mind were peaceful and calm,” will only increase the chatter in our minds and add to our list of desires.

Philosopher and writer Aldous Huxley said this about acceptance:

This is, perhaps, the most difficult of all mortifications—to achieve a “holy indifference” to the temporal success or failure of the cause to which one has devoted one’s best energies.

If it triumphs, well and good.

If it meets defeat, that also is well and good, if only in ways that, to a limited and time bound mind, are here and now entirely incomprehensible.

The Latin term amor fati means to be in love with fate.

Amor fati allows us to not pursue happiness but to let it ensue as the unintended side effect of accepting with detachment whatever life offers us.

 Amor fati gives us vision to see from Himalayan heights and to live a robust life no matter what fate has in store for us.

Three Things: First: Awareness; Second: Changing Oneself; Three Acceptance. Easy to say—hard to do. But worth the effort.

MIND EXERCISE

 This is a classical Zen Awareness exercise:

Imagine yourself being chased by a hungry lion and you are forced to climb over a cliff and hang onto a vine.

One hundred feet below are two more hungry lions waiting for you to drop.

You notice a beautiful wild strawberry plant loaded with ripe berries glistening with dew.

You focus your attention on the berries and pick and eat them slowly, one by one.

How sweet they are!

Observe the state of your mind.

Carry it a step further and imagine the vine breaking and you falling.

Can you fall with total awareness of the air flowing around you?

Imagine yourself climbing over the cliff again; this time you are screaming and cursing.

You don’t notice the strawberries; you lose your grip, and claw and scream all the way down.

Death is inevitable.

Ponder on having to choose which way you are going to die.

Note which choice leaves you with the satisfied feeling that under all the circumstances it is the right one.

COMMENTS: Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.

 

Nov
29

Pure Awareness …

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 “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Pure awareness is the state that comes when toxic emotions like fear, greed, lust, anger, censure, pride, envy, hate, prejudice, anxiety, and all the rest, melt away like snowflakes on a warm sunny day.

When in a state of pure awareness the mind is still, vision is clear, and one is in a state of flow, completely absorbed and enthralled by the moment.

We might have experienced this state while listening to a symphony, or singing in a choir, or standing on a promontory looking out over the sparkling ocean under a clear blue sky or listening to a friend tell a story.

When our vision is clear and our mind is still, we experience the essence of things.

The essence of things is their divine quality, the primordial consciousness that supports all existence.

Experiencing the essence of things in others collapses our boundaries and we experience our oneness with all that is and we become more compassionate, authentic, and joyful.

Pure awareness is free from conflict and the seeds of pain and sorrow.

If one is judging a rose—it is past its prime, the stem is too long or too short, and so forth—then it is impossible to experience the rose with pure awareness.

Judging the rose immediately puts up a barrier between us and the hapless rose.

 The rose is kept at a distance while we compare it to the abstract rose we carry around in our head; we are here, and the rose is there while we are judging it.

But if we silently observe the rose with pure awareness, without thought, censure, or judgment, pure awareness unites us with the essence of the rose and fills our heart with joy.

We experience a rattlesnake with pure awareness if we remain calm and at a safe distance, and do not succumb to prejudice, fear, and loathing.

We can see the bright sun sparkle in its eyes and the beauty of the distinctive pattern of its skin.

We can see the gleaming white fangs and the hypnotic rhythm of its dancing tongue.

If there is no emotional barrier between the snake and us, we experience its essence and become one with its essence.

But censuring a rattlesnake prevents us from experiencing it. We experience only fright, loathing and agitation.

Censure is what causes us to rush away in panic and return with a double-barreled shotgun and blow the snake to smithereens.

Is it possible to love ourselves with pure awareness, without censure?

Observe what happens when we censure ourselves.

When we are angry with ourselves we think: “I should not be angry with myself.

That censorious thought creates a duality.

We are angry with ourselves, but we think that we should not be angry.

The tension between the reality of our anger and the thought “I should not be angry” creates anxiety and more self-reproach, which accelerates into a downward spiral.

Note what happens when we observe our anger with pure awareness—when we observe without thought, emotion, or censure.

There is no tension or anxiety when we observe “what is,” instead of an image of what we think.

Authenticity sets in and our anger melts away, maybe not quickly—but it’s a start.

And there is an added advantage: We are not anxious, because we avoided a conflict between the images that we shouldn’t be angry with our friend, and the reality that we are indeed angry with him or her,

When we observe others without any hidden agenda, prejudice, fear, anger, lust, greed, censure, or attachment, our mind is still and clear, our boundaries expand to include the other.

We are united with them more than any vow, wish, hope, or idea could unite us.

 This pure awareness arises only when our mind is still and our vision is clear.

It cannot arise if we attend to others while trying to control them, sell them, hold on to them, fear them, or seduce them.

These things make it impossible to get beyond elements of possessiveness, control and judgment.

The Zen masters used the term “every moment Zen.”

This term contains the dual concept of “pure awareness in just being” and also the concept of “intending to act in ways that contribute to the welfare of the cosmos or in the very least not add to the pain, misery and sorrow one sees in the world.”

A common example of can be discovered while driving a car. One usually drives while the mind is elsewhere, including censuring other drivers, anxiety about being late, the impression we are making with our snazzy new car, and so on.

Is it possible to drive with pure awareness and with the intent to contribute to the peace and serenity of our little corner of the cosmos?

Try it and see what happens.

Drive along with pure awareness and the intent to not cause any anxiety, anger or physical harm to other drivers and to ourselves.

See the road, its texture, its condition and become one with its essence.

See the other drivers and give them a smile when eye contact is made, be fully aware of all traffic signals; make full stops without any rushing, stay in the moment and drive every moment with pure awareness, every moment Zen.

Awareness Exercise

While in a comfortable position prepare yourself for pondering on discernment.

Recall to mind someone who creates in you strong feelings of fear, anger, loathing, revulsion, hostility and the like.

Allow the body to relax but not collapse.

Relax the muscles of the face. Do not focus your eyes; allow them to stare off in to space.

If a strong emotion arises, do not try to suppress or censure the feeling, just

Observe it and allow it to pass through.

Observe the details of the person—the color and highlights of their hair, details in their eyes, ears, nose and mouth, and so forth.

Allow your jaw to go slack and relaxed. Continue watching the person, the details of the person, not your conclusions of what kind of person this is.

If any thoughts or emotions arise watch them as they glide through your image of the person.

See if you can see where the thoughts or emotions come from and where they go.

Eventually (if not this time but some other time) your mind will be perfectly still, no thoughts or emotions are passing through, and what you are left with is the reality of the person, warts and all.

COMMENTS: Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at neil@slk.us. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.