Monthly Archives: January 2018

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In A Dark Hour

I have someone close to me that is going through a tough time. Last night I told him to call me but I missed his call while I was showering. When I got out and looked at my phone I felt awful. I tried reaching him but he did not answer. In that moment I felt that I had failed him.

In reality I know that life has its own mystery happening and of course I wanted to be there for him if he called, but he never did and I worried about him all night and imagined the pain of  him having to go through all this alone.

Life has these moments where things are going terribly and to have someone by your side that says “I am here and I won’t let you do this alone” for some people can be of great comfort. The most interesting thing is when opportunities like that are missed, what then?

What is life telling us in these hard places in our lives?

Is life teaching us that no one cares? I think not. In that moment I think life is asking us, can we try again to be seen and share ourselves, if not with that person we are trying to reach or maybe the person right in front of us.

Life is doing things to all of us that we do not want. And sometimes accepting those things is brutal and coarse.

Is acceptance like this a choice?

Sometimes it feels that it is and at other times it feels that “THY WILL WILL BE DONE!”

It can feel like life is doing something with little care for the character we believe to be. In those moments I have found prayer to be a great consolation. In the darkest hours of my life I have asked for mercy and grace, to what I do not know? I do not know if something can hear me or even cares what I want or believe in. But the act of praying is a type of vulnerability that I think can soften the extremely jagged edges life catches us on at moments of hardship.

Whenever I pray something inside me softens and there I am shown that I am willing to go with what life is revealing to me. It is humbling to see at times that the thing we dread the most has no way out and it is here starkly staring back at us. There it seems life is teaching us to die to the many moments we encounter.

We will all come to our end, some of us instantaneously and others will suffer a long drawn out pain that seems terrifyingly unbearable.

Life can feel cruel and intolarable many times, and yes allowing everything as it is seems like a great possibility but for those like myself that at times can’t– then what?

Prayer seems silly and foolish in a world that sees that all of it may be a fairy tale. The idea of prayer in certain circles appears totally amateur and foolish. And I understand that view as well, those that do not believe in anything may be some of the bravest in our world. For how could all this happen without reason?

How can the death of our children be without purpose? How can falling in love feel to be the greatest gift and then taken away from us the in the very next moment?

Why is love so powerful and the loss of it shatters us into pieces that do no resemble the notion of ourselves at all?

This life is very very hard especially if you resemble anything like me, that is stubborn and foolish and sees tremendous beauty in the fleeting, in the heartbreak, and the joy that is offered to us in being honest with ourselves and those we love.

Life has only asked me one thing my entire life and now after more than 4 decades I am answering– Can you be yourself?

“Being yourself” to me feels cheap in a psych pop culture Oprah moment kind of way, but the question is deeper when we are faced with the things that seem unbearable. Can we tell the truth? Can we let life totally show us what we are in this very moment of tremendous hardship?

My answer is yes and that goes with a prayer that goes something like this- Give me the opportunity in this moment to be the grace that feels unavailable and to be shown that love is possible in the darkest moments?

There in that moment I die and truly live. In that moment I am seeing all that mattered and all the foolishness my life consisted of. It is the heartbreak we all search for and can barely stand to live. Life was bigger than we thought and more important than the things we carried. And it all happened just for us if we are willing to look and touch the truth we feel inside.

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The Truth Can Be A Lie

For the last few weeks I have been watching less media programming. I have stopped watching the news all together and gradually lessened my consumption of social justice documentaries amongst many other things.

The reasons being obvious that these pieces of information now feel like a type of coercion, manipulation and dare I say oppression.

By who?

I don’t think it is very obvious who is behind all this. I don’t believe the people that expose the evil doers of the world are totally in on this propaganda but maybe so. For my case in this essay I don’t know if it matters.

One thing that I see in constantly informing ourselves with what is wrong and who is doing it is  that it is damaging to our souls and our personal lives. Does knowing what shitty thing Trump did today solve any of our problems? Are any of us planning a revolution or are we quietly stewing as the next thing is delivered to us in order to discourage us into living the lives we truly desire.

I don’t think the answer is to unplug completely but I think there is room for less information obsession, and there I see an opportunity that is revolutionary. If you can’t change the people in power can we change the way we live amongst the people that have it. I am currently reading Victor Frankl’s book- Man’s Search for meaning and I see that we have the ability to choose meaning and goodness even in the darkest moments. Dr. Frankl’s book is an account of him during the holocaust and finding meaning in the most horrific circumstances.

I think social engineers if there is such a thing have created a new brand for those of us that can’t deal with reality tv and gossip news. The brand for the intellectually minded is now all over the media as the “woke” generation and that will be another thing Nike or Apple will be targeting to us next, if not already. It is for people like me that can’t watch mindless drama, so instead we are given socially provocative documentaries and we are given celebrities like Jordan Peterson to wake us up from our slumbers as we supposedly get closer to what we want.

Now I am not claiming a conspiracy about Dr. Peterson. In fact I think it is worth the time listening to some of the things he has to share. I believe all these people have good intentions, but do the good intentions serve us after we have received their messages? I think it is necessary as we isolate more and more into our technology that we find communities that not only challenge our way of being but also encourage the parts of us we feel disconnected from. To look at technology and media as a tool and not a mode of being is quite revolutionary these days.

I have been guilty of watching one self help guru after another long ago because something still felt off and not right about my life. I don’t think the answer is to totally isolate but definitely taking considerate measures to what we watch and consume is what I am trying to do and I do see the value in some things that expose the underbelly of power and wealth and its insidious corruption. I do see that these documentaries can be inspiring at times to stand up for ourselves and to tell the truth in our own lives and there I find them to be extremely valuable.

I am experimenting with myself for the next few weeks. Can I just dip my toes and not become consumed by IT again? That is my experiment– what will become of me the less I participate in the propaganda machine that I am in love with…

Yes love might not be the right word but for me sometimes the sheer giddiness of the next horrendous story that finally promises to expose these crooked monsters that run our world is exciting and horrific all at once. I think for me I feel the rush of knowing the truth and that finally someone sees what I have felt in my heart this whole time.

It seems somewhat clear that I am going deeper into something I did not imagine or want. To be free of conditioning is like falling and it takes a tremendous amount of responsibility and self authorship to willingly go through it. I thought I wanted pleasure and yet here I am choosing something other and unimaginable.

Can I do it? What is left when I am alone for weeks without the next story to hook me?

Am I retreating into a type of isolation because the world doesn’t reflect what I feel inside?

The answer is I don’t know? But I am willing to try and see what happens and report back with my findings.

What are we all searching for? Maybe it is right here– our lives waiting to finally be seen and lived.

To know that we can live and stand on our own from all that we have learned is the gift we were all seeking it seems and here it is.

Can we do it?

We do not have to become monks on a mountain but we can become more responsible for the lives we lead and disconnecting from much of the content that is given to us in service of the truth is also seeing when “they” use the truth to fool us into delaying our self autonomy.

3

Things Are Perfect

“Things are perfect just as they are…”

I once heard some guru say that and I remember feeling anger, fear and confusion. I did not understand how the enslavement and the suffering of billions of people could be perfect or just, or how crooked politicians and tyrants ignoring basic human rights could be anything like perfection.

I have pondered this concept for years looking for this perfection the guru spoke of, and to be honest I thought it was all BS till now.

But recently while making tea it hit me he was right! Everything that is happening is perfect as it is. What I mean is that I was looking for peace, bliss and satisfaction in this supposed state of perfection. But life is not like that there is struggle and billions of other things, and they all affect each other like that movie the butterfly effect which I have not seen.

Sometimes when we rest in a cool comfortable bed and the surroundings are just right it feels as if things are perfect but in reality they can’t be in that moment, because that is just a fleeting experience and those experiences just imitate a false illusion of what we learned perfection should be. It would be more honest to say that this feels comfortable and I have no desires but resting  right here and now.

In that moment that I was making tea I realized that everything is happening and affecting everything and that our opinions and feelings are perfect based on what has happened prior to this realization and will continue to be perfect.

What this guru may have been pointing to is that all the horror, bliss, suffering and what ever other nouns, superlatives and adjectives we can think of are perfectly appropriate for the circumstance. And even the desire for things to improve are absolutely perfect as well, and even the desire to take down an oppressive government is perfect and dare I say the holocaust was perfect and children dying are perfect.

Perfection doesn’t mean it feels good or that it is right. To me it means that everything that is happening happens with reason and purpose from the multitudes of phenomena like Hilter being a mediocre artist to Tom Cruise being the greatest scientologist that has ever lived.

Life seems crazy doesn’t it? Doesn’t it seem like everything is backwards like we have lost sight of something really important? It is perfect because we have in many ways.

I think when I was seeking perfection I was looking for the ability to get what I wanted without responsibility for my thoughts, wishes and actions. It takes a tremendous amount of integrity, effort and honesty to be a responsible person in this perfect reality.

Look at the recent phenomena of internet trolls or even the concept of fake news makers these people that do these things want to experience a reality without repercussions or responsibility to reality and truth. They want to experience a life immune from responsibility in hopes that they can outsmart something that is supposedly billions of years old – reality and truth.

To me that is perfection and it all happens without any one individual making it so. It is in perfect accordance with natural laws that govern reality and has everything to do with the truth we all feel inside. And we are so lucky that many of us have not lost that ability.

Many times I live like if I throw a ball up in the air that it should never come down. Many times I expect such phenomena in my life to take place because I wish it to be so. I want things the way I want them without accounting for the multitude of things that are happening and what my real responsibilities are to that desire to manifest.

We want to be rich, famous, taller, skinnier, smarter, wiser and healthier– do we realize what has to happen truthfully for that to take place? Are we willing to take on such a task? Do we know how much effort and time all those things would entail to make happen?

So let’s ask ourselves what is not perfect? The way we feel or think? Are we sure this is not absolutely appropriate for this moment that we are experiencing? It seems that even injustice and horrific personal events do not account for the lack of perfection in our reality.

I don’t want to seem callous about the horrors I described earlier. Just because things are perfect does not remove their sting and that they don’t feel perfect is also perfect. But for me to know that I was only seeing it one very small way allows me to see a bigger perspective of the rolls we play in this immensity. And my heart breaks even more for someone that thinks– “Why did I have to lose them? What is wrong with me that I got sick.” Things like this will hurt us more than help us it seems, and seeing a different perspective can sometimes reorient us to something truer than the delusions we believe to be our reality.

I believe that what I confused perfection with was my desire for a particular outcome without responsibility or accountability for the natural laws of reality.

So yes, things are perfect but we still have lots of work to improve the things that hurt us, for even the desire for things to change is out of an innate wisdom communicating something beyond our current understanding of reality.

We were sold an idea long ago of science and logic to interpret our reality, but do we truly question the mere fact that we live on a planet (an atmospheric rock) in an enormous galaxy of uninhabitable space that exists with conscience beings that evolved from supposed single cell organisms from supposedly two space rocks colliding? Can we recognize how perfectly outrageous this reality matrix is? Are we sure we should conclude that it is all arbitrary meaningless chance that we are here and that nothing is perfect?

6

Friendship

I have been recently trying to unplug a little more from all things that seem superfluous. I have even let go of some old friendships that no longer seem to be a fit for me. I say,”I let them go,” but the truth is the feeling was somewhat mutual but it made me reflect in my solitude recently about what friendship means, why I wanted it, and why do I need it.

I am not a lone wolf necessarily but I do spend a tremendous amount of time alone and I absolutely love it. I always have since I was child. I felt safe and I could retreat into my personal universe and there I had the world the way I wanted it. I imagine this is a symptom of many things and even when I see people driving and texting, or walking with their headphones on into traffic, or riding their bicycles with cellphones in hand. I look at them as if they are crazy, but truthfully I somewhat understand the desire to shut it all out.

I don’t think the answer is to retreat into the safety of aloneness but so many us have and do. The reasons are obvious. Friendships and all familial relationships have always forced me to feel and do things I did not want.

But why do things like that?

Why not retreat?

Partly because I secretly always knew that I was here to learn something and life was orchestrated in such a way for me to learn these things that I would eventually deem valuable and meaningful in my life. Lately I see an intelligence communicating in all peoples lives that is delivering a wisdom if we are willing and open to it that makes us grow to our fullest capabilities and some people listen and others insist on their habituated modes of being.

Friendships are a great lesson for someone like myself that totally wants to isolate all the time from the world at large. I have always forced myself to keep in touch with people that were in the periphery of my life. I thought it was my duty and to a certain degree I still believe it to be true. Just because I do not need constant companionship does not mean that some people should be abandoned or ignored or seen as inconsequential. I recently discovered how important my almost 20 year friendship with my best friend is. It is much better and sweeter than I ever realized.

In the most recent episode of Completely Ordinary towards the end of the show a light came on for me that illuminated further the concept of friendship. Joey and I are were talking about our responsibilities on the show I have always complained of having to do too much, but the truth is it is the way I want it. As we talked about this a light went off as Joey said that many of the things I value he did not.

I have always put more value on my relationships with people than was necessary, and added many superfluous feelings to my friendships because it made me feel good about myself and what I was doing with them. And I disregarded many people’s feelings because it served my fearful and protective narrative of myself.

In that instant in the end of our conversation (Episode 69 to be exact) I saw Joey for a second as a total stranger. For a few seconds it felt that I saw him for a second as the way he feels about himself. I saw all the meaning I had put on him for so many episodes. In a way I had shrouded him in my values and I was unable to see him for who he really was trying to convey. It was sad and liberating all at once. I had done this to so many people. In that instant realization I was delivered an enormous download and it took me almost a week to take it in and it is still being slowly understood.

It was awkward and uncomfortable like realizing you had spend the whole day with your fly down while running errands confidently, which I did last week by the way. These gifts of humility come with tremendous vulnerability that I constantly rant about. It is a gift for in that moment I take myself off the pedestal and find myself as I am, just like seeing Joey in that instant as himself. Joey was not this amazing person that changed my life and yet he did. Relationships are like a strange dance where we realize that all the meaning we apply to things serves a purpose and some of it is of great benefit and others times it is of great detriment and delusion for a self fulfilling purpose. It was beautiful to feel the truth of life staring at me as it is- not like I am special or omniscient but completely ordinary. It was nice to lose this sense of specialness and still feel the magic and mystery in all that is happening and possible.

To know oneself has to be the most sincere bliss one can have in my experience. We finally rest as we are and we see what we want from life, and we get to investigate if it is even possible to be such things. Life to me is an opportunity to further delve into the horrors and bliss we experience. It is all part of this desire in us to keep editing it or making it better or more special. It is humiliating in many ways because I thought so highly of myself because I was so afraid that I was worthless. I don’t think either one is true, it’s just like life always subtle, nuanced, more powerful, mysterious and vulnerable than I thought.

I gave all these ordinary people special powers because I needed to be special and I ignored their magic so I could be the ONE with it all in a sense. What a surprise that allowing people as they are into my life would allow me to see myself that much more clearer.

The concept of knowing myself is constantly expanding beyond what I thought was possible but it is more humbling than aggrandizing. It is paradoxical. The reality gets bigger while I get smaller and almost unnoticed even when I want to be seen.

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Episode 67 “Stranger Things”

My world is getting really strange lately and needless to say the end of this episode has a high cringe factor for me, but that is my job on the show – tell the truth. This is probably one of my favorite episodes that we’ve recorded. I was going to name the episode Ghost Dad, but Bill Cosby made a movie with the same title and it didnt feel right. Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Luis

Spiritual Practice: Awakened Heart

Someone sent me this youtube audio clip this morning. And the person asked my opinion about it. Below is my response and a few additional comments interspersed here and there.

The practices Pema speaks about are based on the idea of an awakened heart. And I don’t necessarily disagree that one’s heart can awaken but I think it creates more problems for someone like myself. For me it is better to just be me than an awakened me for titles seem to rob me of an opportunity to learn and grow. The titles of awakened or enlightened have never fit my life. Just like practices don’t seem to fit the nuance that living is for me.

I am familiar with Pema’s books and her practices. For myself I am not a fan of any formal practice it does not work for the way I’m wired. The system I have access to doesn’t work in that way necessarily but I do see how some people could benefit from practices like tonglen.

I feel the heartbreak of many things and in some almost imperceptible way I’m sure I do just what is described, but less formally.

I also have an idea that these books are written for people that still believe “waking up” should be easy and eventually lead us all to more pleasant states of being. And yet I do like that Pema doesn’t fool the reader with lofty ideas of eternal bliss, but still she is selling books and a persona to our western culture. And we American consumers love catch phrases, spiritual monikers of accomplishment and of course a list of things to do in order to enhance ourselves. We all feel that if we get the list of our day accomplished that we will get what we want. I know lots of people that love routine and I don’t necessarily share their zeal for that familiarity but I do see that it could be helpful to people that are not like me.

I remember long ago imagining myself in an ashram with all my tattoos and a maroon and gold robe with my head shaved but luckily I woke up from that idea, and realized that the desire to be holy or special was filled with much delusion about what I thought this was all about.

I want to make this world a better place and to allow myself to feel it all is my practice. I have an intention to help and love in the most honest way possible but how I do it seems spontaneous and sincere in the moment. Whenever I have tried to create an experience it seems I miss the mark of said desire, so I have stopped thinking of an outcome even though at times I know that I desire something to go a certain way.

I guess what I’m saying is — I trust blindly in what is happening and that doesn’t feel secure or good but it is true for me now. At times the pain is too much and I just want to get off the ride of my life but somehow with patience and gentleness I find the ability to stay with it and feel it all. And with time insight into what the resistance was all about is revealed and there I find myself able to serve in the most minuscule way.

I have never been one with great access to large numbers of people or even been seen as someone that could know things like a guru so I see that it happens for me in very small ways. Conversation, fatherhood, writing or making art is all that this job that I have found is for me so far.

I can’t find that my life extends very far from my circle but I trust that these small events are contributing to something bigger than myself and I’m grateful for that.

So I just feel and really express as honestly as possible what it is to be me and the rest I hope is resolved in some way or maybe not…

The amount of humility I feel in my life on a daily basis is not a diminishment of myself but an honesty to what is right here in front of me.

Everyday I am given the chance to love and tell the truth and I do my best with that, and the rest is not mine but ours it seems.

1

The Abyss Of Being

When you take a step back on your path do you quit the path you are on?

This is the question I am confronted with whenever I seem to make progress in any endeavor and then seem to miss the mark or make a mistake, and the question is a better indicator than the answer itself.

It seems I am setting myself up for failure and disappointment in a sense, and that is the human drama in a nutshell. I am asking a question that I know has no real answer and I usually tend not to quit things once I have start them anyways. But for me there is a great opportunity in this moment that sometimes I overlook. The answer to this question is to come at it from a different angle. There is also a great opportunity in not succeeding in what you think you should be succeeding in, and even though the skills that I learn in this process always seem to not be learned quickly enough I do see progress. And of course if you are familiar with non duality progress always felt like the ultimate sin for me and I had nothing to achieve and nothing in particular to accomplish.

But lately I see that there are goals I want to achieve, one of them being a better partner to my wife and another is improving my skills and clarity as an artist and communicator.

I see sometimes that in order to improve such things one has to just stand openly and honestly in front of the audience or the person you are trying to express something to. It is not about perfecting the sense of myself but finally admitting to myself where I am. I no longer excuse or try to be something perfect or special but just be as I am. That is what I think we love about art or any honest expression it is permission to be with what is as we are.

My wife was frustrated with me last night that my insecurities and jealousy were coming up for me again. It is something I have always struggled with and I have made progress in this endeavor but to be perfectly honest not enough. So I realized something last night as she felt disappointed in the situation. I just told her how I felt and not blaming her for any of it. And I just sat there and told her my truth and just let it hurt. And it hurt her as well causing her to wish it wasn’t so or if there was something she could do about it, but there wasn’t. She has loved me in a way that I didn’t think was possible and knowing that made it more heartbreaking.

I had no reason to doubt her but yet I did. I could blame my upbringing but I knew that that wasn’t going to make the problem any better for I have tried to excuse myself from responsibility many times by blaming my parents for things that were happening to me, and while yes, we were all affected by the many things that happened to us we are now standing alone carrying out these behaviors with no parents next to us and that is essential for me to know when I want to be free of something. No longer blaming but actually seeing that what I learned is not happening now and that is part of the freedom I think many of us seek.

It was so sad and heart breaking to just let the mess of me be in a sense. I felt powerless to something bigger than my will and I just let it in and she saw it. I don’t think it made her feel any better but I just stood there and allowed myself to be seen. Most of the time I do this dance around the matters that cause me to feel unlovable. I make excuses but this time I had no resources of obscurement– no good reasons or excuses just plain old unlovability staring back at me and shining forth in front of both of us.

The same went for my art work recently. I have always been ashamed of it in many ways. I have secretly always felt to not be good enough with the things that I created and lately I have been trying to let them be despite my feelings. I just try to be as I am, no longer trying to readjust even though readjustment is always happening. I realized I was never going to achieve the perfection I thought was necessary even though every time I started something I wanted more and more to improve and get better. And yet progress and improvement is made when I least expect it and surrender to the immense force that is happening through me.  I do not even know that it has happened most of the time. When I make things I am in a trance and life takes over and where I am is nowhere to be found other than when I have to collect materials or clean up my studio. All the while something is happening that is not mine to control or to totally understand.

After the trance subsides I come back and see what has taken place and at times minor adjustments are made and then it is time to show it. What is it that is being shown? Is it just a series of symbols that I have re-appropriated? Maybe, but somehow I feel something different and others do too it seems.

So I assume it is for all of us that this is happening, and there is no clear insight into why it happens and why some things communicate stronger than other things. Why some things are considered amazing and others as pedestrian as a leaf on the ground is not clear to me. But yesterday I realized it is a miracle that any of this has happened. I am truly grateful even when I feel to be missing the mark that I am able to give anything at all to this world, or better said IT communicates something and I am witness to it afterwards. Many times I make things and they don’t feel to be mine and that is a very peculiar sensation lately. It doesn’t feel to belong to me. There is feeling of unfamiliarity and foreignness to it all.

I am not claiming something divine or special but the sheer experience of anything at all happening for who and what purpose is baffling. For me right now it is not about “did I get it right?” but just telling the truth about what it is to be human and the forms it takes are not up to me. If it is jealousy, delusion or some sincere expression– it is my truth and even though I may be lost and confused doesn’t make it any less sacred.

For me the ability to no longer hide from myself and be myself as I am feels sacred. Not sacred as in special but totally intimate with what is happening to this life. And I never thought it would be a gift of humility and open heartedness and connection when I confront the truth of my being. And those that do not connect with it or misinterpret my intentions are also showing me that I have to continue to explore parts of myself as I think them to be.

What more can we ask for from this life? It is communicating!

Can we become more perfect? Or can we honor our progression?

Can we develop a dialogue instead of an insistence with the way things appear?

It is clear for me that something is being processed but the enormity of it all can’t be grocked so I just do my part and hope for the best. That is my perfection, to just be as I am as honest as possible. The comparisons will never work but it happens and in the end we are asked to walk through this life as ourselves into the void of being and not knowing, but trusting that the path in front of us is ours to walk on and no one else’s.

The gift of being is delivered for me when I finally stop fighting it but let it disarm me from what I thought it should be.