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Member: Bring4th_GLB
Location: Louisville, KY
Gender: Male
Interests: Spiritual evolution, books, meditation, nakedness, hiking, peanut butter, good music, good people, running, working out, Earth (the planet), hard work, no work, accomplishing something, helping & learning from others, staring in wonder at nature, friends & family, emotion, teeth brushing, NPR, clean sheets, trail mix, mountains, oceans, rivers, forests, electric scissors.

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I am he who repeats the name of the nameless over and over in my thoughts, in my mantras, in my actions; ceaselessly I am he who prays to see and to know the face of the faceless. Also, I am he who loves his pillow at the end of a long day.  O pillow, pillow, wherefore art thou pillow?


Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Published by Bring4th_GLB on May 1, 2015 3:36pm.  Category: General

Arpil 24, 2015

 

Last week I and other loved ones said goodbye to Carla L. Rueckert, a friend and mentor whose impact on my life cannot be overstated.

I met Carla 13 years ago this month during a time of significant transition from an old life to a new. At that time I was awakening from an incarnational slumber to a deep-seated, previously dormant need to live a conscious, what I would call spiritual life, for the first time asking questions about the nature of reality, the meaning of existence, what I can do to help others, and, most fundamentally, "Who am I?" This was a difficult period as an old life died and in its place a new one, with a very different, broader worldview, was born. It was only in retrospect that I could situate that period of inner turmoil and darkness as one chapter in a much greater narrative: the journey of self-realization.

That journey or trajectory began when the metaphorical inner alarm clock first opened my eyes just before leaving for the Army around 18 years old, setting me upon a path that I am still walking today, a path of seeking the truth for myself. In the initial phases of that process, I discovered many helpful and partially illuminating sources of information, but it was Carla's little-known work that spoke, and still speaks, most powerfully to me. At no time before or since has a source of light reached me on such a bone-deep level. In her authored and channeled material, I had found my philosophical home. By home I mean that it reminded me of something forgotten long ago, lost somewhere in the dimly lit recesses of the subconscious mind. And in the process, the philosophy, cosmology, and spiritual/ethical principles shared by her tiny organization came to form both the foundation and framework of my own worldview, a perspective that emphasizes the underlying unity or oneness of all life, and speaks to love and light being the nature of all things.

Though I continue to seek far and wide, and have enjoyed many sources of enlightenment available on this planet, I have yet to encounter so universal, inclusive, elegant, sophisticated, internally consistent, heart-opening, and beautiful a philosophy as that which she and her group produced. It is entirely consistent with the reports of all mystics who unanimously affirm that all things are one - that everything we see and do, every person we meet, and every moment life is God, is the Creator knowing itself. The tears were many upon initial discovery, and the gratitude since has been unending.

Two years after stumbling upon her work, I had my first chance to meet Carla in April, 2002 at a small gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, in a weekend event that was high magic for me. Afterward I struck up correspondence with Carla, making a couple of visits to see her and her husband Jim in the following months, when, during another small event a year after the initial meeting, I was given the opportunity to relocate to Louisville to work more closely with her group, L/L Research. I couldn't believe my lucky stars.

Spiritual seeking had become the primary focus of my life by that point. Not because Carla or any source outside of myself elevated its importance, but rather because I had awakened to something and could not turn back - I needed to understand the greater picture, a need that has not diminished over time. As spirituality was the main driver, I wanted to be near others who were similarly engaged on the eternal quest to know the self - which is another way of saying, to know the Creator. No one in northeast Ohio was even remotely on a similar path, and I had no commitments of career or relationship, so I hopped on I-71 and soon as I could and headed south!

I've been happily in Louisville ever since. And in all the many adventures I've enjoyed, dramatic growth I've experienced, beautiful open-hearted people I've befriended, and the wonderful opportunities to interact with seekers from around the world bearing similar questions and similar philosophical approaches to life, I have Carla more than any other outside of my own parents to thank.

Carla and her husband Jim, but especially Carla, took me under her wing. She didn't play an active mentorship role in terms of instructing, per se - counseling my decision-making process or guiding towards specific outcomes - rather by her example, her philosophy, her essence, and the opportunity she gave me, I grew into adulthood. Any who knew me in my early twenties can attest to how different I am now. Though, like everyone else, I still have endless miles to go, I have come leaps and bounds since then, finding my own two feet, standing upright, and becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. There are many factors that have contributed to that growth - especially the healing catalyst of my current relationship with my wife, and the relationship with my past girlfriend - but it was Carla gave me the soil into which I could plant myself and grow.

Hers is a philosophy built upon the basis of free will. And for those positively oriented souls who wish to grow in a service-to-others direction, free will must always, insofar as it is possible, be respected and not infringed upon. The gist is that we can only serve others to the extent it is requested; each has their own inner compass and is their own authority. She held this attitude toward me as well, giving me the space to grow and, without interfering, meeting me with love wherever I was and in whatever my emotional state.

And among the many reflections that can be made about the extraordinary person Carla was, they all must begin and end in the heart, for Carla was truly a person if ever I met one of unconditional love. She saw all people at the soul level, whatever their outer behavior, and loved everyone with whom she came into contact.

This was not, however, a personal achievement, so much as it was a manifestation of her own inner, and absolutely total devotion to the sacred dimension of life. Every fiber of her being was pointed toward living life sacramentally, as an act of devotion and worship, and it was Jesus Christ that was at the center of that orientation. Carla had experiences of meeting this being as a child. As her husband Jim wrote in the eulogy he delivered:

"A fascinating experience occurred because she had to wear glasses at such an early age. One day, when she was 2 years old, and when it was time for her to take her afternoon nap, her mother put her in her crib next to the window and closed the Venetian blinds. Before she went to sleep, Carla took her glasses off and put them between the blinds which were drawn for her nap. Then she laid down and saw that there was light coming through the slit in the blinds. When it went through her glasses it made a beam of light that she was able to use to slide out of her body and go to what seemed like a magic forest. The animals would communicate with her, colors were more vivid, and when she went to the center of the forest, there she would see Jesus. He didn't look like the paintings you usually see. His hair was long, matted, and dusty from the road. His robe was dusty too, and he never spoke a word. But when he held her hand and looked into her eyes, she immediately knew what unconditional love was. This experience occurred many times over the next few years. When she was five years old she told her mom and dad about the experience, and they told her that it was not real. It was in her mind. That she had made it up. So the experience never happened again. But her devotion to Jesus as her Lord and Savior began then and never wavered throughout her life. And from that point on, love would become her way of looking at the world. Those two parts of this experience never changed for her."

Carla's love of Jesus and lifetime in the church were of a non-dogmatic variety, though. She was what you would call a Christian mystic. She drew inspiration from Christian principles, but recognized that the universe, or God, or truth was too great to be contained by any one religion, or teaching, or philosophy; she knew there are as many paths to truth as there are people; that each person has a sacred right to find and discover what is true for themselves without it being imposed upon them. Indeed she recognized that there is no formulation of language and symbol that can capture the truth because each person IS the living truth that they seek. No teaching outside the self can deliver that. Words can only point the way within where each is working with and creating their own personal myth.

And it was with that attitude that, rooted in her love of Jesus, she joined a mechanical engineer and physics professor turned pilot, Don Elkins, to form L/L Research in the late 1960's, and to blaze together a completely novel and utterly unique path to the One by way of the discoveries they made and the information they received through their experiment. It is the path that they - along with Jim later down the road - forged which I gladly follow, finding a utility and sturdiness that continues to not only withstand every test I can put it to, but continues to grow and blossom in direct proportion to my own deepening awareness of the unity of all things.

The information that they discovered, which so profoundly affected every corner of my life, involved significant sacrifice on her part, but she and the other two in their small band never turned their material into a commercial product that is withheld from the seeker until a financial transaction is made. From the beginning they were of the opinion that if it can be of any help to someone, it ought be available for free. They stayed true to that ethos, and spiritual seekers from around the world, though small in number, have, as a result of coming into contact with this work, continued to be informed, illuminated, and even awakened to their own desire to seek the truth, often profoundly so. The transformations that others experience are real and often enduring; enduring in that twenty or more years later after first encountering this love and free-will centered philosophy, seekers are still feeling its presence in their lives and learning from its wisdom.

Sacred though Carla was, she wasn't stiff and rigid. She was a jokster, living life lightheartedly, laughing often, and approaching life as if each moment were not only a gift, but often a funny gift. She loved straight vodka and rare steak, devoured cheap romance novels, and spent significant hours being distracted to prime time TV dramas, NCIS especially.

But Carla was a person of considerable inner and outer discipline. Through each test of life and through long years of navigating the troubled waters we all know so well, she was relentless in tuning her attitude, calibrating her perspective, and aiming her will to a vision of optimism and, more deeply, faith. In the many daunting moments of catalyst that came her way, she had an inner surety that, no matter the outer appearances, all was well, she was held in the hands of the Creator, and her job in each moment was to find the light and serve others. To those outside her it seemed so natural and effortless for Carla to be smiling, buoyant, and ready to love, but deeper examination would reveal that what she made effortless was in actuality the result of long-term, intensive discipline. Carla was a person of exceptional will power.

She awoke each morning with that optimism. When selecting her clothing for the day her general attitude was one of, "What shall I wear to the party today?" That optimistic, faithful outlook was in no way blind to the many ills of the world, but through her discipline she consciously chose, and chose again, and chose again, to embrace and love life, glorying in the opportunity to be here and serve, praising most everything that came before her, and expressing her gratitude for life through both song and dance. Carla loved singing, especially hymnals through the church choir, but was liable to break out into songs of praise and thanksgiving at random moments throughout the day. And she loved dancing, spending her summers at a camp at Noyes School of Rhythm in Massachusetts as a young girl and dancing long into her older years until her body would no longer support her.

She also loved to be busy. Work was not a four-letter word for Carla, it was her means of giving and playing in the gardens of the Creator, especially her literal garden where she would spend many an hour pulling out the weeds and singing/talking to the plants, and especially in the kitchen where she cooked as a means of service, imbuing each dish with the most important ingredient that came from her unfailingly opened heart. But by the time I met her, her body was no longer able to dance, and her time pulling weeds in the garden was growing short, though we did have some good times in the kitchen together, especially when combining a glass or two of wine with the cooking.

Her path might also be described as one of subtraction. Each of the activities that Carla loved in life were gradually removed from her abilities, from dancing, to walking, to exercise, to cooking and cleaning, to singing in the choir, to eventually even typing, limiting her ability to exercise one of her strongest incarnational gifts: writing; she was such a gifted, creative writer. Eventually even doing her beloved NY Times crossword puzzles, and reading itself - no matter how big we made the font on her Kindle - became outside of her possibilities. But against all testing and limitation seemingly imposed upon her by an increasingly crippled body, her faith was as steady and as bright as the Sun which no Earthly weather could extinguish.

But while living from the open heart isn't easy for anyone in this world - anger, blame, judgment, retribution, condemnation are often so much easier - it was a special crucible for Carla. Her medical difficulties were chronic. I've never met anyone with a frailer physical vehicle beset with more troubles. The experts had been predicting her imminent death from age zero, but through will, faith, and support from others, most especially Jim, Carla made it to the ripe age of 71. Her cross though was difficult to carry, especially during the final four years of her life. Bound to a hospital bed with an open wound on her back from a spinal fusion surgery, her physical suffering was enormous.

But where most would falter, myself including, Carla's spirit trumped the condition of her body. She always kept smiling, never complained, and found ways to be of service to others even from her hospital bed. Devoted to service as she was, she demonstrated in her final years that service needn't be about *doing* anything in particular, though we can be of tremendous help to others through action, but more fundamentally that service at its most powerful is a service of *being*. Before we say a word, lift a finger, indeed before we breathe, we are effortlessly emanating our essence - our primary vibratory signature or state of awareness, you might say. This is happening without our doing anything, and it is a function of our depth of realization of oneness with the Creator.

In that regard the more that we do our own work in consciousness to open our hearts, clear ourselves of fear, reduce judgment of self and others, and honor unconditional love and the Creator in each we meet and see, our light grows stronger. We shine into the darkness of this illusion, and where light meets the dark, the dark is cast out.

Carla radiated this light. That light was palpable to those who knew her personally and those who knew her through her work. She was by any measure an exceptional person. She was exceedingly honest. She was truer to herself than most I have met - seldom relating to others with any mask, persona, or pretense - and hers was a light that illuminated my life and the lives of many others around the world.


But she was not alone tilting at windmills and triumphing singlehandedly. She was one half a two-part system, a strand of rope inextricably bound up with another: her husband, companion, and caretaker, Jim. The rock that Carla stood and rested upon was that offered by her absolutely unfailing, unwavering husband. No matter her indomitable will, faith, and inner strength, Carla could not have made it as long as she did were it not for the indefatigable support system that Jim provided. Jim is an equally beautiful and noble human being, and so often when I speak of Carla's work here, I am speaking of *their* work, but his tribute will be for another day.

When I first met Carla there was, admittedly, a bit of hero worship. But as our relationship deepened and became more authentic, I stopped placing her upon a pedestal so that a friendship of one soul to another soul could grow. Though there were small moments of interpersonal catalyst, and Carla's own human follies became apparent, my respect and admiration only increased as I witnessed the mysterious marriage of the error-prone human made of flesh and the conditioned past, with the light of the eternal soul within. Carla made that light more conscious, and manifested it more purely through unconditional love. Grounded in the dirt of this world, she was one of the most noble people I've known.

I didn't see her in a mother role, but I believe I designed this life to help support her and Jim's work. I loved helping Carla and making her happy. It always gave me an extra glow when she would express approval for my L/L work, when she would use a term of endearment and call me "bud", and when, upon reporting to her of the work I did in for L/L Taiwan, and another occasion or two, she replied saying, "I couldn't be more proud of you if you were my own."

Special though she was, she would say that she's just a bozo on the bus. I was lucky beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to ride alongside Carla for a time, a fellow bozo and traveler, to be given the honor of a lifetime to combine my personal passion with vocation in representing her organization, and to, above all, be her friend. I will always miss her.



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Three Distinct Lights
Published by Bring4th_GLB on February 10, 2015 12:33am.  Category: General

There are three distinct lights shining on you, each one fundamentally different from the other, but much the same in that each is a source of inspiration.

 

The Stars
From your relaxed position on the couch, you look up through the large wall of window panes on the A-frame. Out above the mountains in the distance are stars, stars in the same patterns and positions that met the transfixed gazes of every generation of seeker before you since the beginning; stars that have been the mute destination of humanity's greatest unanswered questions. Questions about who we are, what is really happening here beyond the small world of human concepts, and, questions of why.

 

You realize that no authority - neither the modern-day astronomers who have peered deeper into the physical universe than any before them, nor our priests and philosophers, wise though they may be - can tell us precisely what is happening out there and thusly, down here. No one can answer "Why?", at least not adequately with words.

 

You consider that our daily lives are consumed with the events that fill them, but underneath and all around that restricted focus is an absolute sea of unanswered unknowns. While we are thoroughly hypnotized by the desires and fears, pleasures and terrors that occupy our minds, we are meanwhile forever swimming in total, unbroken mystery - the greatest being who, actually, we are. Beyond our past conditioning, behind our thoughts and before our sentient responses, what is the source of our consciousness? Why are we? Do we participate in a greater order or meaning that exists outside our usual mode of perception?

 

You contemplate that the greatest human minds have advanced our civilization, making appreciable headway into the unknown, answering questions that had eluded others, drastically changing our capacity of living, but even they quickly met their limits. The mystery did not yield it's full secrets to their probing inquiries.

 

Your mind shifts to consideration of the rare Jesus' and Buddhas of the world. Outliers such as they did indeed discover who and what they really are, which is to say, who and what WE really are. They - and others like them who gained or remembered the larger perspective - attempted to communicate and demonstrate the long view to the rest of us (garbled though their teaching subsequently became); the former through love and sacrifice, the latter through enlightenment, each realizing the illusion of the individual self, that self which seems separate from the All. Yet, having discovered ultimate identity/absolute truth, they, also, were not omniscient. They, too, bowed before the great mystery that beckons all who peek behind the curtain.

 

What we don't know! And shining into our insulated, walled-off lives, how the stars are subtle, quiet reminders of and invitations into the endless ocean of unknown that begins at the end of the small bubble we call "understanding".

 

We are babes crawling out of our crib.

 

The Fire
And still on the couch, your whiskey drink in hand, your gaze shifts to the second source of light shining on you: the fire steadily burning in the fire place. It warms your sockless feet propped up on the coffee table, and crackles quietly as the wood logs shift every now and then, their material transformed and disappeared by the hungry flames.

 

Mixed with your indie folk Spotify playlist, both conspire to form a lullaby of peace and rest to your heart wearied by the troubles of this world.

 

The Trish
And of these lights there is the greatest. Her eyes are closed as she sleeps, her head resting on your lap. The dim light of the fire cast the contours of her face in a changing mix of light and shadow, some of her revealed, some hidden. How delicate she is. How strong she is. How you love her today and want to love her better tomorow.

 

You have seen her now in so many lights. You realize that whatever the reflected light which brings her beauty to your eyes, whether the soft glow of firelight, the lifeless fluorescent tubes of a retail store, the bright midday sun, or the absence of light in a darkened room, her face is always revealed to you anew and awash in the same mechanism that makes your heart beat and your lungs expand and contract, which is to say, love.

 

Why of all people are you with this other self? What forces brought you two together through unknowably improbably infinite variables? Why are you so connected and endlessly drawn to one another? What calls you further into love and inspires you both to keep seeking more deeply, looking for a boundary to love, a beginning or an end, only to relearn again and again that there is no bottom. Move further into love and it reveals and invites you to deeper realizations ever waiting your capacity to love more purely as you learn - and I mean *learn* - patience, kindness, tenderness, and... basically, to be less of an idiot.

 

And you wonder how you came to be so lucky to be with such a one with whom your two mutual notes work in concert to strike melody and harmony.

 

Why is she at such peace and able to sleep through your hiccups from the whiskey as your belly momentarily shakes.

 

You hope you can give her everything she needs, and leave behind everything you and she don't. And find love at each step of the journey.



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Peruvian Luna de Miel
Published by Bring4th_GLB on December 3, 2014 4:26pm.  Category: General

A bullet-point'esque summary of our wedding-funded honeymoon: the recently completed journey through Amazonian rainforests, Pacific coastal regions, and Andean highlands of Peru, along with time spent traveling swiftly through Earth's atmosphere ... in aisle seats:

 

Crossing paths with a beautiful mix of open-minded like hearts from fifteen different countries in a shared eight-day retreat in the jungle, each possessing the most sincere intention to learn, grow, and heal; undertaking work of a rather profound and serious nature in a context that was all love; establishing wonderful new friendships; having four ayahuasca ceremonies; one bobinsana ceremony; seeing real shamanism at work; monkeys; monkeys stealing gum and any other loose or improperly guarded personal items; watching Trish wear a twelve-foot anaconda like a shawl (picture forthcoming); tropical birds and smiling sloths; gaining total admiration watching Trish in the face of a truly massive disappointment marshal her will in the resolve to learn, grow, and make the best of an experience during the retreat; collective vomiting; an eight-day diet of no salt/oils/sugar and meat other than fish; driving through streets filled almost exclusively with motorized rickshaws; open-air bungalows; the fucking AMAZON RIVER!; stargazing into the night sky of the southern hemisphere on a concrete platform built upon a hilltop for just that purpose - seeing the Milky Way, the Southern Cross constellation, and an exploding meteor that traced across the sky with the brightness of a welder's torch before exploding; the shits - four straight days of the shits (also explosive);

 

...seeing yet more examples of the grassroots awakening happening around the planet; discovering the second instance of an organization and a work of similar strength, depth, and purity to the one whose lights called me to Louisville eleven years ago; witnessing mastery of craft; coca leaves and coca tea (non-narcotic at that level); briefly meeting with three indigenous tribes and exchanging t-shirts; Trish seriously getting hit on by the leader of the Bora tribe who invited her back to his "maloca"; freezing early morning flower baths; boobs - a la National Geographic style; opening to a possible future potential of my own path, not related to boobs, though;

 

...flying - lots of flying: Chicago, Lima, Iquitos, Lima, Cusco, Lima, Bogota, San Salvador, Chicago; time spent in Lima's posh Miraflores neighborhood; buffets for days; avoiding guinea pig on the menu; not flushing used toilet paper; free-roaming cats and dogs, including a city park with cats in trees, cats on benches, cats playing the guitar; dinner on a Pacific Ocean cliffside; meeting L/L's Spanish translator who happened to be in Peru on visit from Spain at the same time; mapacho; Incan (or perhaps ancient pre-Incan) ruins, including: Temple of the Sun, Tambomachay, Saqsayhuaman, Moray, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac; the Sacred Valley, so-called; the Urumbamba River running through said valley eventually emptying into the Amazon River; the salt mines of Moras;

 

...communicating with twenty or less Spanish words; repeating a mantra of "no gracias" to street vendors and fishers of men attempting to lure us into their respective restaurants; contemplating a human past that has more mystery than most might imagine; a struggle to the death with a bird-sized wasp-looking creature (spoiler: it lost); hiking up and down the steepest possible incline at Hyauna Picchu in the clouds and the rain; rough (by our comfort-inclined standards) hostels; soliciting police for assistance with my lost cell phone after a night of stress-laden anxiety; succeeding and bear-hugging said policeman with elation afterward;

 

...a random street artist appearing who, having overheard our conversation, endeavored to guide us to necessary component for chewing coca leaves; trusting said street artist; markets all day; adjusting to reduced-oxygen altitudes of 11,000+ feet; a drink at the world's highest 100% Irish-owned bar; an actual chocolate museum + gobs of free heavenly samples; not knowing what Peruvian music sounds like owing to hearing 80's pop music everywhere; chance re-encounters with newly made friends and acquaintances; hiking to the Sun Gate; spending 22,685 Columbian Pesos on chocolate!, that is to say, ten US dollars; splurging on an alpaca poncho at the Lima airport that will never have actual occasion to wear at home; listening to an Adele album five times over at a cafe at the same airport; wrapping our luggage in lime-green cellophane to protect its layover in Columbia;

 

...walking the cobblestone streets of Cusco - one of the world's most beautiful small cities in our not-so-well-traveled opinion; visiting another brilliant museum: Museo de Pisco, that is, a place dedicated to the Pisco Sour, Peru's incomparable national drink; consistent lack of sleep but generally high energy nonetheless; a tearful climactic culmination at one of the truly great Wonders of the World, the city in the sky, Machu Picchu; and falling in love with Trisha all over again.

 

Note: All of the above is true except for one item. There were no guitar-playing cats. Come on, that's ridiculous.*

 

*They played the steel drums.

 

bringthmachupicchujpg.jpg



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The Wedding of Trish & Gary
Published by Bring4th_GLB on October 21, 2014 8:21pm.  Category: General

I took Lana to the airport this morning with a stop at a café for a final conversation. Austin, myself and others all had quite the bonding time with this ambassador from Sweden. It was sad to see her go, especially as her departure marks the official end to the wedding festivities. What a weekend of magic and tangible perfection.

 

I will start by telling you that Trish and I wrote our ceremony from scratch. I was so excited by its content. We included concepts of consciousness, spiritual evolution, service, love and light, that we are each the one infinite Creator, and I even snuck a Ra passage in there! (The one about how we are all players upon a stage that is undergirded by the majesty of the One Creator. 104.26) I've been somewhat in the closet, so to speak, with people, especially family and old friends, who don't quite share my spiritual walk, so it was freeing and empowering to more fully share and communicate the content of my heart of hearts.

 

We were worried it might be too long, or it might not inspire or catch the attention, but on both accounts there was no need for concern. We received feedback filled with superlatives. Though it is difficult to really know because, as happens when parents have a baby, the only feedback you receive will be positive. But it the gratitude and the words all felt very genuine.

 

Beginning an hour prior to the Processional, the DJ played a selection of songs that Trish and I chose for those waiting in their seats, but the DJ unfortunately was using a free Spotify account (versus the paid kind), which means that Spotify commercials were inserted! It was to no loss, though, as it and a few other inevitable hiccups added to the humor and uniqueness of the event.

 

After the Processional concluded (Trish being escorted by her father to Elton John's "Your Song", and all of us before them walking to Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing"), we began our ceremony by breaking with convention and turning to face the 212 people in attendance. In most weddings, the bride and groom walk down the aisle, move through the rituals, and then depart with little to no interaction with those who came to share the event. Which is fine - there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, but we wanted to make a connection to our loved ones, and to genuinely thank them for giving us the wedding with their presence.

 

We also thanked some of the most fundamentally important other selves in our lives, including our parents, my stepdad, and then Jim and Carla. We explained that our officiant, Ken Wendt, is a dear friend of ours with whom we share a common bond of open-hearted spirituality, and with whom I've hiked for miles and days through the mountains; and how he, through the Church of Latter Day Dude, came to receive an ordination as a dudeist priest. (Quite serious! It is an organization that grew out of The Big Lewboski.) Ken absolutely knocked it out of the park.

 

And we briefly provided some orientation, explaining that the ceremony was our own and that the significant work we invested into it was but a fraction of the work we would put into our relationship. We received so much love, and got quite a few laughs as we laced our very sincere and meaningful ceremony with lighthearted humor. (Balancing the meaningful and profound with the lightheart has been a style I've been crafting as L/L Research's administrator for some years, though not always to perfection.)

 

Carla was gracious enough to follow our intro and officially open the ceremony with a blessing. It felt so good to publicly honor Carla and Jim in front of so many loved ones for the gift they've offered me. It is through the environment they gave me that I've grown into and through adulthood.Quantum leaps from where I was when they first met me twelve years ago. So much more comfortable in my own skin and much more self-known. Being able simply to turn and address 200+ people so confidently (which isn't to say there wasn't huge anxiety leading up to the moment!) is something that would have been impossible just a few years ago, and is thanks in no small part to their contribution to my incarnation, along with lots of help from friends and family I've received along the way.

 

After Carla gave the opening, Trish and I underwent a Unity Candle ceremony to signify our intention to become one. Trish found some beautifully crafted candles on Etsy that, it would so happen, were created and shipped from a woman in Israel, and the Unity Candle rested on an embroidered piece of white fabric gifted and sent to us from Micheline in Belgium, a dear friend and the French translator of the Law of One who had had this in her family for over a century.

 

Following that was a short reading by one of my best friends and "groomsman", Jessica, and another short reading by my awesome sister Noelle who I actually had read Q'uo! (Identified as such as well.) Then a Hand Fasting ceremony whereby Ken, our officiant, wrapped differently colored ribbons around Trisha's and my joined hands. Each ribbon signified some ideal or principle to which we wished to commit our lives, including: Service, Responding to Suffering (with compassion and intent to help), Honory/Duty, Walking the High Road, Learning & Growing, the Open Heart, and Seeking the Creator. Each ribbon's significance was explained in the process.

 

Next a reading of Dr. Suess' "Oh the Places You'll Go" by one of Trisha's best friends and bridesmaids, Amanda. And then the exchange of Trisha's and my personal vows to each other in the risk of rain as a few drops hit us and everyone attending. Mine was heartfelt and got some laughs, but it was Trish who opened up everyone's heart very wide as she communicated with tears from a place of purity and loving devotion, reflecting on her own struggles in her life and her certainty just four years ago that, due to her medical condition, she would always be alone.

 

Sometime around here the mic's battery went out! Fortunately we had a back-up wireless headset that Ken was able to hold out for us when speaking.

Another hiccup smoothed over.

 

This was followed by Ken asking the ringmaster - Trisha's great five-year old nephew identified as "Jesse Marshall-Bingham Spiderman Peter Parker Iron Spider Chocolate Ice Cream Marshmallow w/Cherries on Top" - for the rings to be brought to the altar.

After we received the rings, Trish and I repeated in unison our vows read by Ken, and then placed the ring on each other's fingers. And finally the saying of the common legal vow, a kissing of bride and groom, a pronouncement of man and wife, and a turning to the audience as the DJ (in an adjacent courtyard) cued up the end credits theme song to Star Wars Episode 3!! (I edited the song to begin right at the moment the song pops into triumphant jubilation, and then faded it out a couple minutes later into the Cloud Atlas finale song.) IT WAS AWESOME. We held up our joined hands together in victory.

 

And the bride... my eyes have never seen anything more beautiful. Infinity could not have squeezed another speck of beauty into Trish. Our eyes were locked on one another nearly the whole time. She was beyond words. I am so in love with this other third-density self. I cannot believe my lucky stars for the opportunity to share a road with her, and to call my absolute number one best friend my "wife"! (What a strange word that still is on my tongue!)

 

We were hoping to get the ceremony finished within 35 minutes, but the whole thing, Processional and Recessional included, took about an hour! It seemed like it was ten minutes though. It however had the unfortunate effect of rushing the picture taking with family and the wedding party. But we got done in time for the most part and got the reception started just ten minutes late. As the wedding party filed in, the DJ said Trisha's name and my own for our best man and maid of honor, much to everyone's laughter. Then he lost Noelle's name, but this did not deter her. Without skipping a beat she made her entrance while pumping her fist into the air and chanting her name, trying to get everyone to join her, followed by a dance across the dance floor.

 

The reception, inside of a 40 x 120' tent, was an absolute blast, and felt like it went by in five minutes. Trisha's maid of honor, Lora, gave a speech that was honestly worthy of stand-up comedy... and probably was a stand-up routine as it must have clocked in at 20 minutes. She had everyone in stitches. And my best man, Steve, gave a speech that was hilarious and equally touching. The drinks were plenty and the playlist for the DJ we created had people on the dance floor throughout the night.

 

And the cakes were naturally gorgeous, being made as they were by the mother of the groom. She flew from Phoenix to Cleveland, made all the cakes there and then drove them to Louisville. Thank you, mom!

 

One of the absolutely most amazing and surreal things about the entire experience was how people from different sections of our life, who would never otherwise cross paths, were together in the same place, under the same tent. We were getting absolutely giddy in anticipation of that fact leading up to the wedding. Uncles and aunts, cousins, parents, siblings, one grandparent, school friends, spiritual friends. For the first time there was a real mixing of my old pre-Law of One life with the new L/L Research world of my adult life.

 

One of my greatest joys in life is seeing people I love, who don't know one another, meet, connect, and enjoy each other. I don't even need to participate.  I am happy to step back and bear witness to their own connection forming. It makes me so damned happy to think that this person who I know is absolutely awesome, gets to meet this other person I know is likewise of super high awesome quotient. Among the connections made, my very dear friend Jeremy W. (who goes back to the beginning of my relationship with L/L Research) finally got to meet the likes of Austin, Ken, and Seph, and those three got to meet my parents and three siblings, and that group got to meet Jim and Carla, and.... and a hundred other combinations across the mixing of the bride and groom's side.

 

It was also beautiful that half of my own wedding party consisted of L/L people - including Austin, Sephira, and Steve E. who is both L/L's volunteer webmaster and my best man; our officiant Ken was of the L/L variety - we having met at Homecoming over four years ago; and a good number in attendance were of this demographic as well, including Fox, Brittany, Tobey, Sam, Eddie, Doug & Kim, and their significant others.

 

What I do as administrator is only a "job" in the superficial sense. It is more fundamentally a participation in spiritual family. So many of the people that both Trish and I love most on this planet, those who have given us the honor of being their friends, we have met through spiritual seeking and through this little organization known as L/L Research.

 

The wedding was love and light in human form. : )

 

AND NOW I'M MARRIED!!!!

 

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The groom glowing as the bride approaches the altar, with the officiant in the background.



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Silent Intensive
Published by Bring4th_GLB on September 2, 2014 8:37pm.  Category: General

Southern Dharma Retreat Center
April 17 - 20, 2014
Hot Springs, NC

But we, who cannot fly the world, must seek
To live two separate lives: one, in the world
Which we must ever seem to treat as real;
The other in ourselves, behind a veil
Not to be raised without disturbing both
-Henry Adams, 1891

 

Introduction


Meditation, meditation, meditation. If there is a mantra to be found in the Confederation's message, the instruction to meditate would certainly be situated alongside their quintessential, oft-repeated message ringing to the tune: all is one, all is one, all is one.

 

We would give to you our encouragement and speak upon meditation, for it is the key which unlocks the door to that which is within you, and that which is within you is nothing less than the One Original Thought which is the Creator.
- Q'uo, March 16, 1986

 

Thanks to the Confederation's broken-record emphasis upon the importance of meditation in their philosophy, along with other sources of spiritual insight echoing the same encouragement to meditate, a certain view regarding the practice and theory of meditation developed in my thought patterns long ago. In that view I gained a total, a complete, an unconquerable faith in the efficacy of disciplined meditation as one of the single-most effective means of self-transformation and self-realization. Total faith that in the conscious entrance into sustained, disciplined silence (aka: meditation) lies one of the most powerful means we hold in our own hands (or butts, as the case may be) for realizing who we really are. The most direct, the most immediate, and the most unmitigated route to self-discovery goes by the name, "meditation".

 

It is to learn how to be with and, without fear, embrace the actual experience of your life. In this art do we really learn how to live, what it means to live, and that, ultimately, the who that is doing the living: the one sacred one life living through this outer shell of personal memory and identity. There is no corner of perception, no hidden alcove of thought that is not touched and transformed in some way by meditation.

 

Yet, try though I may to rank meditation with the same importance as say, waking up in the morning, or finding at least one source containing an obscene quantity of sugar, something else in the day invariably takes precedence. I'm too busy, I'm too tired, I have to smuggle drugs across an international border this weekend. Again...

 

I find moments for formal meditation, and more moments for less formal contemplation, but if I'm going to actually fulfill the desire in my heart of hearts for spiritual evolution, those occasional moment don't feel sufficient. A guitar player doesn't become a Hendrix by dabbling every now and then when there is time; a painter doesn't become a Picasso by dipping his brush in the color palette in the few minutes between Netflix and dinner.

 

No, it's not all effort that yields proficiency in any given field. There is something to be said for that elusive characteristic quality we call being a "natural", the word we use to indicate that there is an inherent something about a person that endows them with a capability and a skill in a particular field of human achievement ranging anywhere from above-average to superhuman. But even the greats work at it, they practice. Mozart didn't hit his stride, it is reported, until after investing many hundreds if not thousands of hours into his composition and playing.

 

One becomes skilled in, and develops mastery of, any art by doing it. A lot. Same with meditation. To be clear, though, the goal is not to be a champion meditator and win all the meditation championships, like it's a skill that will result in material gain, or the adulation of others, or take one into the NCAA Final Four. Rather, the goal is to mediate well, and skillfully, in order to discover and uncover the self - both the illusory surface patterns of the mind and the essence of the eternal all-self; to accept the self through total forgiving, embracing, and loving awareness; and to become who you really are, aka: the one infinite Creator. It is a journey into the heart.

 

Despite my conviction in the efficacy of meditation as a means of self-realization, my practice has been lacking. Consequently I ventured forth on my first meditation retreat. Lead by a Buddhist teacher and undertaken in Buddhist style, it took place in the mountains of North Carolina at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center over the course of four days.

 

Following is a report for you and L/L Research on my experience therein. Beginning with:

 

Noble Silence


The Buddhist have a little something they call "Noble Silence". While we didn't receive a crash course in the outs and ins of the origin, history, and meaning of noble silence, we did take a vow to practice noble silence during our retreat. Essentially it means what all parents must at some time yearn for when managing their children: not uttering a sound from our mouth holes. Save for occasional logistical exceptions, like speaking when holding the feather or rock during our hour-long Dharma Discussion group, we were quiet as trees.

 

This practice though is not defined just by an absence of speech and sound. More profoundly it creates a space for the conscious presence of mindfulness. As you are not busy attempting to make conversation, or worried about what to say, you are more able to be present with your experience, to observe what is happening on the interior, or, if the attention turns outward, on the exterior.

 

Social Experience
The stress of having to make conversation, particularly with those I don't quite know, has always been a prominent part of my inner experience. I've avoided many social situations, especially those that involve being in a group of people I haven't previously met or barely know, for this reason.

 

Noble silence is a permission slip to be free from that. Not only are you refraining from speech, but everyone else is too! You're in a very social setting without all our noise-making mouth-machines blabbering on! Being freed from that is incredible. In that space you can observe more clearly; you can notice sounds, movements, the stepping of feet, the click of silverware against ceramic plate, the sound of the faucet, the fluttering of eyelashes nearby*, etc. - all of it helping to ground your awareness in the here and now. The noticing itself becomes an act of joy. Especially as many of these sounds are the sounds of people, including footsteps and pouring water and shutting doors, but none of the accompanying voices of people.

 

*Kidding. You cannot hear eyelashes flutter nearby. Not even if they are pressed against your eardrum and fluttered with all the fury of hurricane you cannot hear them.

 

The Not Nobly Silent Mind
Something else quite peculiar also emerges. Removing all external distractions (did I mention no cell phone, no TV, no internet, and no technology save for plumbing, electricity, doorknobs, etc.) and  committing to mindfulness , it feels as if the motor mind actually gets louder, so to speak.

 

In our usual daily routines when not in meditation retreats, it seems that we are conditioned to receive constant bombardment of stimulation and distraction, our attention habitually moving outward, our mind consumed with any activity but paying attention to the moment. This is the experience ground into the fabric of our minds so thoroughly that when the practitioner attempts a radically different mode, like removing all the distractions for four days, the mental habit just inwardly recreates the distractions that are outwardly absent. The thinking mind abhors a void, and when it senses one it springs to life! The scattered waves upon the endless ocean of thought roars to loudness and spectacle. "Silence is the loudest noise", one participant mused.

 

As part of Noble Silence and the retreat in general, all technological devices were shut off for the duration of the event. One quickly becomes aware of how reliant we've become on these things! Not reliance only for their indisputable utility, but reliant for their capacity to facilitate distraction. It was oh so nice not to be enslaved by the phone and the addictive pattern of checking for updates.

 

Measured in a quantitative way, when you're attention is not hijacked by technology or conversation, you literally have more seconds for observation of the present moment. You literally have more clock time to practice the sacred art of presence.

 

Yet despite basically not talking for four days, I didn't feel like I hadn't talked. The process of being with your self and observing the transactions of the moment offer up a rich field of texture and experience.

 

Eating


The silence was most pronounced during our communal meals together. Thirty or so people in a room eating silently, silent in terms of no conversation, nor, for that matter, no externally released gastrointestinal music. Each meal begun with a prayer of gratitude.

 

Not talking in this eating setting was initially weird at first, not awkward but weird. We were not each at our own private table with some space between. Rather, we were sitting together at long, rectangular tables: a person on either side and people on the other side of the small table, some mere inches from you.

 

Your first impulse is to combat the silence, to fill it in with conversation no matter the substance of that conversation, so long as someone is making noise! God forbid we should have to just be there and eat together.

 

But that weirdness soon passes when it becomes clear that you're not short on conversation - everyone is intentionally refraining from conversation. Everyone wants this! Everyone willingly undertakes the silence, yourself included. So you do what you came to do and participate. And the experience turns to rightness.

 

The joy of silent gnoshing
It becomes liberating to be free of the tension of having to make conversation. There actually emerges a sense of great relief for the introverted soul: a sanctified space is created to be mindful, to pay attention to the experience of the body/mind, and to move and breathe in rhythm - an experience in stark contrast to the usual non-rhythmic jangle of the everyday ordinary patterns. You feel a real and actual sense of intimacy to be with other silent folks engaged in the same basic practice of mindfulness.

 

Moments of joy bubbled up during these meals. Just pure and divine pleasure to be there. Coupled with moments of interior tension, to be sure. But one was truer than the other.

 

Food communion
One particular insight gained from eating in silence was watching the way I put food into my body. The mouth is the real interface between you and your meal. To be sure there is the sight of the food on your plate; the aroma rising to meet your senses; the hands that retrieve the food from its resting position on the plate's surface, dutifully shoveling it up to your face. But the switchboard of a hundred senses on the tongue and within the mouth is where you and the food really make contact.

 

You slow down the chewing. You chew many slow bites before swallowing. You notice so many nuances in taste and texture. The whole process is deeper than you realized, typically so overlooked and rushed over, so barely paid attention to. You are encouraged to chew thirty times per bite.

 

This was the first time I had really deliberately, methodically slowed down my eating in 16 years. When I first entered Basic Training we were encouraged... nay, we were told to dump it into our digestive tracks as quickly as we could get it in there. Ever since I've been a quick eater, making whatever is in front of me do a Houdini act: there one minute, not there the next.

 

Owing to this my body, much without my consent, feels compelled to belch some minutes after the completion of each of my quickly consumed meals. (It took loved ones pointing it out to me to even know that it was happening consistently.) My meals at Southern Dharma were the first time this phenomenon did not transpire.

 

Slowing down so, the act becomes a communion. A source of joy unto itself to be giving the body its sustenance  while simultaneously growing dimly cognizant of the source underlying and uniting both the seeming you and the seeming food.

 

Singing bowls
And even though the absence of conversation makes it seem a very quiet affair, the mind conditioned to vroom vroom 365 days a year doesn't easily brake its momentum. As mentioned previously, it grows loud and boisterous as ever when practicing silence. So during the meals a Tibetan singing bowl is rung at random, its strong crystal clear tone ringing down its single note into a fainter and fainter sound.

 

When this happens, everyone in the dining area physically stops. There are no sounds of silverware, no sounds of shuffling feet, no sounds of chewing. It is like God hit the "pause" button on the entire scene. (Reminiscent of, though not identical to, the moment when Tom Cruise's character realizes his life is a programmed illusion in the movie "Vanilla Sky", and the entire scene freezes.) When this happens, the clattering clanging clashing mind stops and takes a special note to pull back from the runaway patterns in order to be present. However briefly, it quiets down its over-active patterns, leaving in its wake a very special opening of emptiness and presence.

 

Meditation: Environment


Now to the actual meditation in the meditation. The first thing one notices during an intensive meditation retreat is that there are multiple periods of meditation scheduled, from morning through evening. How different (and splendid!) is this already from the usual daily patterns?

The second thing noticed is that there is a hall dedicated to meditation, its principle function. With a hardwood floor, it is mostly empty save for a shrine, a dry-erase board, and the third thing one notices, a stack of cushions and seats including zafus and zabutons, benches ,and legless chairs on the ground for the aspiring meditators.

 

The hall itself forms an environment very conducive to meditation. One puts their hands together in prayer style and bows at the entrance to show respect for the environment, and one does the same upon exit. It is treated reverently. This contributes to a sacred space.

 

Meditation: Repetition


Therefore, do not assume that you know what meditation is and what your goals should be towards it, but, rather, as you meditate, listen to that voice which speaks within and meditate as that voice instructs you. There is no set time nor is there a set method. There is one thing, however, which we must emphasize and that is fidelity to the practice. - Q'uo, March 16, 1986

 

As mentioned previously, the conditioned mental patterns get... noisier, for lack of a better word. More boisterous, more energized, more circus-like (minus trapeze artists and monkeys clanging cymbals... though come to think of it...).

 

When on the floor attempting to meditate, there are moments of holding the concentration with some degree of strength, but the thinking mind so formidably reasserts its runaway momentum that it can feel like your attempt to hold concentration might be likened to a housefly hopelessly attempting the taming of an unruly elephant.

 

Invariably your attention is whisked away on one mental distraction or another, typically about the past, or the future, seldom about observing right now. But you bring your attention back to the breath and begin anew. Not once, not twice, but times without counting.

 

This is where muscle building and meditation analogously intersect. In building muscle there is the process of repetition that increases the physical strength. Likewise in meditation there is the process of repeatedly returning the attention to the present moment so that it, too, gains strength over time with repetition. What gains strength? The capacity to consciously choose, and sustain, the attention, and all spaciousness and clarity that arises in consequence.

 

This habit of training and strengthening the attention asserts itself first and foremost in formal meditation, but the more that formal meditation is undertaken, the more this habit of presence takes root outside of the beginning and ending times of formal meditation, spreading into even the formerly impenetrable hustle and bustle of daily life. This becomes a habit and it activates during the course of the daily dance - suddenly you remember, or wake up, in the midst of being lost in activity and thought.

 

Meditation: Will and Faith


Per my study and practice of meditation, it seems that the principle effort, you might say, is simply to concentrate. Or rather, to concentrate simply. By concentration I do not mean to tightly force a focus through sheer strength of will whilst the remainder of the mind/body rages on, but rather to gently sustain an unwavering focus upon one point. As the thoughts detract and lead the attention invariably away, the concentration returns it to the chosen point, resting the attention upon, in my case, the breath moving in and out of the nostrils.

 

Stripping this practice of concentration down to what it is essentially, its true character emerges. This activity of concentration is a pure act of pure will. As physical muscles are strengthened through their use, so too is the will strengthened by its use.

 

There is but one technique for this growing or nurturing of will and faith, and that is the focusing of the attention. The attention span of those you call children is considered short. The spiritual attention span of most of your peoples is that of the child. Thus it is a matter of wishing to become able to collect one's attention and hold it upon the desired programming.

 

This, when continued, strengthens the will. The entire activity can only occur when there exists faith that an outcome of this discipline is possible. - Ra, 42.12

 

This concentration, that is, this relentless returning of the attention to rest gently in a single place, yields a certain energetic environment. As concentration increases and sustains itself, so in corollary does the monkey mind begin to quiet down. The monkey mind's distracting power becomes less as your power of presence becomes greater. Where before you were pulled this way and that, now you begin to find a footing, to so speak, a capacity to abide in the now and witness the antics of the mind. An open spaciousness and clarity develop wherein thoughts and feelings and sensations all arise, but they are less sticky. They are less successful into tricking you to identify with their patterns, as if "you" are contained within them, and not vice versa. Meaning you take the boldest, greatest, and most important step upon your spiritual journey: you realize that you are not your thoughts. This is a land of faith.

 

Meditation: The Witness


It is as though within the meditation, regardless of how scattered it seems, there is a pure and distilled waterfall of light which irrigates and illumines cell by cell the body, mind and spirit. It is like being rinsed and polished to relax into that presence which is holy. - Q'uo, November 16, 1994

 

There is something absolutely amazing about meditation. Behind everything you usually identify with, every role you play, every sensation you have, every thought and memory and moment of anticipation that rushes or drifts through your mind, there is an infinite opening behind it all that watches this passion play of the self, but is free of this play in a transcendent dimension, you might say, free from the suffering, free from the container of limiting belief, free from death.

 

It is like your usual identity is a movie screen onto which are projected images of your life, and all lives. The witness is that which is watching the movie. Fire burns buildings on the screen, rains flood city streets, the greatest triumphs are balanced against the greatest tragedies as densities and octaves come and go, and meanwhile that which is eternal and infinite within you, that to which the witness is a doorway or portal, remains forever unmoved, unchanged, and present; forever witnessing this unfolding of birth and death, giving and receiving, learning and forgetting.

 

One particular technique for becoming aware of the witness is to move through a process of asking your self questions such as these:


"I have a body, but I am not the body, who am I?"

 

"I feel tension, or contraction, or any number of sensations, but I am not these sensations, who am I?"

 

"What within me is aware of my thoughts? What within is that which is seeing but itself cannot be seen?"

 

"What is that within me which is knowing but cannot itself be known?"

 

This is the sort of dynamic that arises leading into the investigation of who you really are. What you are doing is cultivating the witness. Behind all phenomenon of mind and body is a witnessing awareness within you.

 

Most of us are so consumed in thought that we are identified with the aggregate bundle of emotions/thoughts/sensations/conceptions. We are "stuck", so to speak, in sticky containers of concepts that hold our identity firm, completely obscuring the fact that we are forever free of it all.

 

How do we think otherwise? How are we so not convinced that we are forever free from it all? Well, one simplified response to that question is that we are attached to, and identified with, the mental and bodily patterns and all its personal history. This attachment and identification causes a clinging, a feeding, a perpetuation that generally leads us away from the present moment - at least leads us conceptually away - and obscures the truth which might be articulated by stating: we are the clarity, we are the opening, we are the empty space within which the whole manifested world arises. This includes our personality shell, of course, but within that empty space is EVERYTHING, the entire manifested universe. All space and all time arise in this clear opening of the one present moment.

 

Finding this liberation is a consequence of meditation.

 

So we would say in meditation allow the silence to do its work. -
Q'uo, March 23, 1997

 

Meditation: Already that


The peculiar and funny thing is that this is not something to be gained. It is not acquired anew because it is has always been there. It is already here. There has never not been a moment when the infinite awareness was not already present. There is no time to it - the awareness is outside of time and it present for all time. There is no space to it - the awareness is outside of space and is present for all space. It is the effortless, spontaneous witnessing of whatever is arising in this moment, in this lifetime or the next; in this density or the next; in this octave or the next.

 

And in it is liberation, freedom, and resurrection into true identity as identification with the small "I" is sacrificed, released, and surrendered.

 

The second aid to increasing the ability to choose faith is meditation. You will note that we do not ever lose an opportunity to encourage seekers to prayer, meditation, praise and thanksgiving. These powerful techniques of tuning the mind and the heart have a cumulative effect. The first time you choose to go into the silence or to have a conversation with the infinite Creator that is honest and deep and probing it may not seem to have amounted to much. But if you persist, then, moving into that silence again and again, that silence will expand and lighten and become the holy of holies in which you are sitting with the Creator. Indeed, the Creator sits already within your heart of hearts and waits for you to come and join Him. - Q'uo, April 2, 2000

 

Missing the mark, missing the moment
Cultivating that witness through the activity known as meditation is a process of learning to "be with" your experience. Our minds are engaged in a perpetual, endless struggle, reaching, conflict, and resistance. We are always overlooking the present in an effort to get somewhere, or some-when, else.

What is one way to view all this present-moment avoiding activity? To see it, the small self, as a contraction, essentially; a "no" function in the face of infinity that creates what amounts to, what you might call, a false self, or an illusory self: the fiction that we are an individual "I" that is separate apart from everything else. The illusion of all illusions that there is something other than unity.

 

Who is trying?
But if we already are free and liberating, if we already are one with the Creator, then what's all the noise that we're making and effort that we're expending? That's the paradox and the point. No amount of effort or self-will, therefore, is going to change our actual, real, already present truth. Can we "attain" perfection if we are already perfect? Can we "get" whole if we're already whole? Can we "become" complete if we are already complete?

 

Then who is reaching, trying, attempting, chasing, and doing? That is a mystery we much each resolve on our own by pushing back into the source of our own awareness. In examination of this mystery it seems that all this effort stems from n illusory self which is operating on the false premise that the self is not complete, the self is not whole, the self is not one with all things. The truth is always somewhere other than here, always in some condition or circumstance or moment other than this one. Any effort, therefore, to attain or gain the truth just reinforces this basic premise.

 

The Great Search
Meditation and mindfulness is the only practice that undoes the Great Search. In meditation we learn to sit with, and be with, what is. We don't seek another state, a special state, a different place, or a salvation in time. We simply lovingly embrace what is, seeking not to change it, not to alter it, not to transform it, but simply to bring it all into the present-moment awareness.

 

We work from where we are, only from where we are. Eckhart Tolle says that whatever your state of mind, that state of mind will do. Whatever your conditions, those conditions will do. Whatever you accept will get you "there", so to speak.

 

It is a profound relaxation, but not into laziness or sleep, but rather into intense alertness and aliveness. We detach from the usual modes of mental activity and simply witness what arises, watching all phenomenon of inner and outer movement rise and fall against the backdrop of stillness and silence. We watch the mind engaged in its game of aversion and attachment, but gradually stop playing that game, needing not to hold onto and forever chase the desirable; needing not to run from and forever fear and avoid the undesirable. All life can be accepted as it is.

 

And then there is no great search. There is freedom to dance, to play, to love, to embrace life as it is without reference to the tortured little "I" any longer. Seeing the entire manifest universe as a beautifully complex and endless expression of the simple truth of infinity, eternity, unity - of the one life which you, in all ways, are.

 

Whatever your energy level within the illusion, resting back in the divine, letting the self be, evokes a contentment that does not reach nor does it shun those things which are about one. This is the self that is often accessed by meditation. One of the benefits of meditation, indeed, is that the door betwixt the conscious intellectual mind and the subconscious in the roots of mind is, if not wide open, at least ajar. Time spent in the silence is time spent listening to the voice with no sound that indeed does carry the messages of faith and choice, but not to a schedule. And this is where the entity within your illusion, feeling confused, loses that quality that so well supports the spiritual seeker. That quality is patience. - Q'uo, November 18, 1998

 

Through meditation we tend, then, to feed and energize these patterns less and less. We learn to abide in the great expanse that we already are. We learn to rest in that peace which remains undisturbed by any possibility event within the  manifest world.

 

Meditation: Seeing the mind


It is not an easy practice to begin with for a mind enculturated and distraction and the perennial question for satisfaction and meaning through the attainment of things.

 

But as you stick with it you see that all your wanting, your attachments, your interests, your personally held ideas about who you are: it is all one big noisy project to maintain the small "I". It is its own self-contained universe of memory and anticipation, seeking this thing and that thing, worrying about undesired outcomes and chasing desired outcomes.

 

A writer for the Buddhist magazine Tricycle writes about a meditation retreat:

 

"So we are engaged in a continual distraction project. We are confronted with our own pain and disappointment. With no one to keep us company - we can't even keep ourselves company - we are confronted with utter aloneness. There is nothing to do and nothing to hang onto. We are alone, lonely, it is bleak. Everything we relied upon turns out to be a sham, a mental construct.

 

But when we reach the point where we can no longer cover up what we have been doing or force our experience to bend to our will, something happens, we begin to relax. Although at first the notion of utterly abandoning our smoke screen of distractions is threatening, even terrifying, if we stay with that experience even a little, the smoke beings to clear and we can start to see in a completely new way."

 

Returning to North Carolina
Pulling back now from all the abstract discussion and returning to my butt on the ground in North Carolina. I had a similar, smaller experience to the one described above. My mind threw up a lot of resistance. There was discomfort. And there was a sense of futility that arose when trying to keep the attention in one place as the roaring waves of the mind crashed over it, tossing the attention hither and yon.

 

But then a clearing... a realization that I don't need to calm the mind through my own effort, per se, or make it do much of anything, for that matter. The realization came that, as repeated multiple times above, the witness was already present, and I could simply witness this commotion, too. I can be present for the distraction project of the mind, knowing that, ultimately, there is no obstruction to meditation, because meditation can take anything into is purview.

 

And I am back in the space of already. The truth (freedom, liberation, realization) is already there, but the noisy mind (activity, grasping, reaching, attachment, aversion, etc.) precludes the seeing; the seeing of what's already there. So in resting with what is and allowing what is, the already begins to become clear. No matter the outer condition of the mind, the already is... well, already there.

 

There is great freedom in this. And peace. And ability to release the restrictions around the tightened heart, breathing and beating love.

 

Ra bonuses for ye


Other ways to understand the utility and necessity of meditation is to consider that Ra asserts that:

 

...the synthesis of all experience [happens] through meditation.  - Ra, 19.13

 

And they say:

 

...it is certainly through this faculty [of disciplined meditation] that catalyst is most efficiently used. - Ra, 78.36

 

How profound, how uplifting, how fucking relieving! We don't have to patch all of our experience into a grand solution and salvation through the efforts of the conscious mind alone. Rather we can simply, very simply abide and rest in silence, we can relax into being, and surrender the weight of carrying the life. In this surrender, that which is deeper, or higher, or greater than the conscious mind will unify and synthesize the various seemingly disparate components of our experience into a more and more complete and less limited vision, until we realize that we've been complete all along; we've never really been separate.

So what changes because of meditation? Namely our viewpoint, its depth, its breadth, its seeing through the outer forms to the one face behind the variety. It is the right interpretation of this illusory experience:

 

The seeker which has purely chosen the service-to-others path shall certainly not have a variant apparent incarnational experience. There is no outward shelter in your illusion from the gusts, flurries, and blizzards of quick and cruel catalyst.

 

However, to the pure, all that is encountered speaks of the love and the light of the One Infinite Creator. The cruelest blow is seen with an ambiance of challenges offered and opportunities to come. Thusly, the great pitch of light is held high above such an one so that all interpretation may be seen to be protected by light. - Ra, 95.24

 

Meditation: Walking


A new and supremely helpful meditation technique that I picked up while in North Carolina was that of meditating while walking. It sounds uncomplicated enough: be mindful, be aware, be one-pointed whhhhhile.... walking. But for some reason prior to this experience I hadn't quite nailed how best to achieve this.

Our walking meditation involved forming a line of practitioners alongside the interior wall of the meditation hall, forming a large rectangle. And another line of the same shape inside the larger rectangle. We moved forward very slowly. One slow conscious step at a time. Pausing at each step made. Placing the next step just as deliberately, just as slowly.

 

With each step we practice being present and mindful. And we are encouraged to link breath with stepping so that the two coincide in a rhythm.

 

Pain Variety


Throughout my years I've had many, many a run-in with mental/emotional/spiritual pain. Not brief encounters, either, but long stretches of time, sometimes devastatingly so. A characteristic dryness/life-squeezing/alienation/weirdness/barrenness/wrongness. It is a contraction, a big "no" to life. Like a fundamental sense of being out of kilter, not in alignment with life. Something I connect, in concept at least, to the Buddha's talk of "dukha", and another associated idea called the "original wound".

 

I long ago dubbed this "existential pain" because it seems to have no source in this lifetime - no particular circumstance, situation, or feeling that can be named as its cause. Rather than a teacher to me, this experience has often felt a handicap over the years, seeming to limit me in a multitude of ways: no study, no writing, no communicating, no meditating, no joy. So much more productive could I be, I believe, were it not for this life-stopping drain.

 

All these years I still don't know what's happening. Probably some denial of love, some self-judgment.

 

It's like I've been out in the desert sun too long. All dried up. Cooked. No relief. No source of pleasure. No nourishment. The pressure and intensity have, at times, been almost to choking and unbearable levels.

 

I can witness it to some extent and "be with" it, but it is a brick wall as far as I'm concerned. It does not yield its secrets or disclose what it protects. I've approached this countless times in so many ways and never do I uncover new material. I am ready and willing to understand. I want to understand. But always there is just the pain, not the source.

 

This arose intensely during a portion of the meditation retreat. Part of me wanted to return home, knowing that when this kicks in, there's no "pushing through" to a place of clarity. I just have to give it time and till it dissipates.

 

Limiting though it feels, it has provided a dual, and mutually contradictory, sources of motivation. On on hand it has underwritten my years of spiritually seeking, motivating the search for relief, refuge, and resurrection. Like Ra states:

 

We may suggest that in order to progress, a state of some dissatisfaction will be present, thus giving the entity the stimulus for further seeking. - Ra, 54.3

 

On the other hand, it has also motivated not the search for the high road, but the search that is ever doomed to failure: the questing for a permanent source of pleasure, distraction, satisfaction, and meaning within the illusion.

 

Community


At the conclusion of the weekend we held a large circle in the meditation hall. Each person sitting on the floor, the space was open for one person to speak at a time. This was initiated by the one desiring to speak putting their hands together and bowing to the circle. Not everyone chose to, but most did. I spoke. I commented on how surprising it is the extent to which other people factor into an experience of inwardness and silence. How there is joy, intimacy, and honesty in the shared silence. How much love there is in the silence, the smiles in passing, the faces. And how evident the pain is in many who come to the path of meditation.

 

And what's really remarkable is how most people who spoke in the circle said they were impacted greatest by the communal aspect and presence of others.

In an environment where you're not talking to others or communicating with them, there is still a field of communication, and in that field is a lot of honest, self-confronting energy. The silence and the sincerity of all participants helps you to really confront and "be with" the actual self.

 

15 minutes of silence lunch then Noble Silence ended and talking initiated. Was very weird at first to be talking and to have such a noisy environment, but delightful despite my awkwardness.

 

Holding the space
A term was used called "holding the space". It struck me for the first time how a group actually does hold the space. Each person engaged in their seeming individual effort helps to reinforce everyone else's seemingly individual effort. Each mirrors to each their own work and in so doing supports that work through holding the space in silence. This intensifies and literally creates a field, I think, that makes individual work more conducive and effective. Many who spoke in the final circle actively thanked the group for holding that space. 

 

Details, Other


This retreat was perched in the mountains, literally on a mountain side. To reach it required leaving the paved road, driving over a small stream, and proceeding on a windy, one one-lane gravel road with no guard rails separating you from the steep mountain side at the road's edge.

During our lunch period I walked to the mountaintop to meditate in a beautiful meadow. Even the air itself was still up there, all sounds muted save for the occasional commercial airplane overhead. The views were not totally unobscured but nevertheless still offered scenes of nearby mountains. I had a great meditation and conversation with the infinite.

 

Each day we had the option of a more body-centered exercise. I opted for yoga. I was introduced to one technique that involves creating muscle tension everywhere in the body, holding that tension, and then releasing it with the breath all at once. The first time I did this I experienced something akin to an altered state of consciousness.

 

Reflections


I left this experience thinking how much I would enjoy a day or half day of mindfulness at home. Don't know how to practically implement though. Especially the stopping bell.

 

Among the many things I took with me, there was the realization that this is definitely disciplined will and faith in application. This experience opened a pathway for the practice of my desires and actual realization of my goals. It's shown me the direction I want to change my life. I need to simplify and un-busy my life. To "be with" my self. To practice presence and mindfulness. There are layers of life underneath the noise.

 

Though there was some measure of peace and some feeling of being more spacious and quiet, I was concerned that the little ground gained therein would be subsumed quickly, causing the tenuous connection to the witness to dissipate like a small structure of sand beneath the lapping waves.

 

April 21: Day 1 post-meditation retreat thoughts

At work this morning carried the residuals of the slowness and presence of the weekend. Attempted to hold onto it, walking slowly, eating mindfully, stopping to breathe.

 

By day's end I see the practices disintegrating. Three days at the mountain retreat was a great intro to re-training my ways, but I fear insufficient to counter a lifetime of non-mindful living. I will continue the attempt, no matter.

 

The fluctuations and perturbations and speed with which the mind moves and overtakes witnessing presence - this is painful.

 

So much to do. So many tasks. Big and small. How do I balance that against a contemplative life? How do I maintain mindfulness when these tasks demand so much bandwidth?

 

Ramana Maharshi says the vasanas must expire (exhaust? burn out?). Meaning the fluctuations - sometimes of great pitch and intensity -  will continue until I stop feeding them (Tolle: through unconscious identification). Key is to persist and not succumb to the agents of sleep and distraction.

 

It is absurd how the mind seems such a foreign agent who does not disclose its secrets, who misrepresents the actual situation and the actual self, who operates by consuming your attention, who moves in this direction or that without you behind the wheel, and who ultimately creates suffering for its "host". It does not readily respond to or honor your requests - instead it needs constant observation, shaping, tuning, acceptance, forgiveness. We are irrevocably "stuck" with it. We, in fact, created it, this, that.

 

It's surprising that I have this desire for a contemplative life inside. That had always seemed too painful, too not me. But for the first time in my life, I desired silence more than the usual pleasures for which the mind reaches.

 

I hope to do more and longer retreats. I hope to spend more time in silence.

 

Long-Term Results


There was some sadness upon returning, yes. Some watching of the seeming headway I had made into the quiet disappearing against the bulk and volume of the gross sensory experience of the outward-oriented mind. But I took from that experience so much, and two actual practices have taken root.

 

One is walking meditation. I've found that the brick pathways through Jim and Carla's gardens make for absolutely exquisite focusers of walking meditation. Taking off shoes and socks, placing the feet against the hard yet accommodating brick, you can move slowly forward on your walking meditation, being guided by the curving paths through the most beautiful immediate scenery, from brightly colors flowers to small shrubs, to deliberately placed but variously sized stones, to wooden structures, to trees reach far above the top of the two-story house.

 

But a beautiful landscape is not needed for walking meditation. I have taken up a practice of walking from my bedroom to and through the hallway, and back, in my one-bedroom apartment. Presence can be practiced anywhere.

 

The other is the mechanical replicating of the singing bowl. If you remember (and if "you", someone who has read all this, actually exist!), I mentioned Tibetan singing bowls that were randomly rung during our meal times. This had a great effect on stopping the commotion, both outer and inner, and creating a space of presence.

I installed an app on my phone that will ring a Tibetan singing bowl (you can choose from over seven of them) at regular intervals of your choosing. Though I don't use it often enough, I activate this app when working in the office. The nature of the office work for L/L Research is one of an always changing agenda of prioritized things to do, a veritable noisy crowd all clamoring for your attention, the mind ratcheting up its speed and intensity to manage them all.

 

Then, the sound of a ringing bowl appears from my app. And generally I hit pause on the music if I'm listening, and stop what I'm doing, pausing my body and my mind. In that sliver of a moment I breathe a few deep conscious breaths, turning my attention away from the task at hand and to the Creator, abiding in the spaciousness that emerges for a brief moment.

 

It is a principle, I think, that our culture's endemic over-activity absolutely needs balanced by non-activity. The ratio needn't be 50/50 - just small moments here and there to close the eyes, to rest, relax, and focus upon now. This is enough.

 

Entities of this heritage [who were... well, formerly trees, according to Ra] would find it nearly impossible to fight. Indeed, their studies of movements of all kinds is their form of meditation due to the fact that their activity is upon the level of what you would call meditation and thus must be balanced, just as your entities need constant moments of meditation to balance your activities. - Ra, 38.10



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