Please excuse the deplorable audio on this episode…
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!
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.
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.
In part of this episode Joey and I speak about Dave Chapelle’s new comedy special on Netflix. I highly recommend watching both parts of the special but I also understand some people can’t watch stuff like this. It is an unflinching look at a person speaking his mind with raw honesty. He shows us where we came from in a sense, and where we are headed and why many things are the way they are. I believe in the next decade or so this type of person will not be allowed to speak in mainstream culture. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Dave says but I admire his courage and unique approach to speaking on the human condition. I think that we are approaching a very “sanitized” and polished version of reality and it makes me sad to see us losing a sense of raw honesty that I think at times is exactly what we need to hear.
And it is what I try to bring to our show in my own way.
I recommend watching this video after checking the The Beast post.
I also recommend this channel on youtube called the Academy of Ideas. I find this person’s work uplifting and empowering but not in the empty false sense where they are selling you a new trick to be happy forever.
I believe there is light in all this chaos. To assume that I won’t try my very best because other’s wont or it is too late is the role of a victim that will struggle to manifest any semblance of freedom in my humble opinion.
Warning– these videos will produce a feeling in you if you are sensitive of panic and dread, and possibly the desire to act in different ways. I don’t necessarily align myself with the group Anonymous, but all the footage used in these videos was just gathered from several different news sources that are available to the public through main media outlets. I am sharing this information not to make us fearful but to see the importance of our actions. I believe in the idea of doing our part, and if we see something wrong we must take responsibility for ourselves and how we speak and act. Most likely these videos will be spoken about in the next few episodes.
In the last few months lots of people in my life are experiencing a lot of emotional and psychological turmoil and suffering, and I sometimes foolishly think I know better than them. I also realize that all I can know is myself and those lives around me that seem to be going in the wrong direction are not mine to know but maybe an opportunity to learn something for myself in all this.
In the last year I have come to understand a few things about myself, especially when it comes to creating chaos and pain in my life. Many people may not want to change but are being asked to. Those that truly want change seek it out like water in the desert and those that repeat a tremendous amount of repetitive cycles of suffering are still thinking that is the best way. I see it in myself when I repeat a pattern that many times it is familiar and only hurts myself and those I love. That pain is wanting release but until I stumble upon a new method or insight I am convinced that what I know is the only way.
Another thing I noticed is many times our lives are being changed from the outside and rarely are we seeking to transform the interior of ourselves. We all enjoy familiarity and when we are pushed by life or insight in another direction enormous fear and panic seems to go along with it.
We are all conditioned into routines that serve the system that is in place currently in our society. Many times we feel helpless and un-empowered. The sense of being a victim serves us to work for the system instead of ourselves. But you can’t say that to most people because a contraction arises in them and a feeling that something is terribly wrong, and many of us feel we will be shunned from the human family forever.
Our society is constantly sending us messages that we should materialize our lives and experiences. Many seem to have lost a sixth sense that intuits and feels, and has wisdom. We have all looked for self aggrandizement (materialization of an experience) even though we are all the same in many ways. We will not escape our humanity even in the spiritual, but the material promises of our society give us the illusion of transcendence, and therefore in my humble opinion, we throw away our spirit (the invisible guide) for the material transcendence.
Much of the pain I have felt growing up was throwing myself away for the opinions of others and the social norms, and the more I did that the more I was rewarded with empty praise that only left me feeling isolated and more confused while excelling in nothing that satisfied my soul but serving the material hierarchy. All the while there was a frequency communicating something about trust and doing what I love, but I did not listen for decades. I was told that following my heart’s desire was a waste of time and not profitable. But this noise in me did not stop till I listened and listened, and started to take a different direction.
If we start to notice throughout our day the emphasis on the 2d material world and the emphasis on the physicality of it all. The eternal security (transcendence) we seek is now delivered as a material accomplishment through reward or distraction. In that predicament we become a hamster on the wheel of life, chasing something that will never be ours – the eternal material.
Our world is constantly offering us a material immortality through relationships, status and wealth. We are not going to escape death it seems but yet we have the ability to forget that. Even spirituality promises something that to the physical it cannot grasp, but it seems this body will die and while that is terrifying it is an impetus to act from our deepest sense that knows better. And those that ignore or do not see it or feel it are bound to stay on the wheel.
Life this year has asked me to take a leap off that wheel and I am humbly and painfully at times saying yes to all of it, but it does not come easy. Sometimes I am saying YES with my heels dug in deep.
I am not immune to pain and suffering but the gift of trusting in vulnerability with this still small voice inside me has saved me many times now. Not from the death or any such lofty notion but the eternal cycle of suffering I experienced in just believing in the material world and the idea of the other. I trust this now more than ever, especially as the world I believed in to be true crumbles before me and those that we held as the kings and rulers are all being seen to be false.
Here is part of a letter I wrote to someone that may be beneficial to those that feel lost as we see through the conditioning we were taught and solidified in:
Sometimes we have to leave someone scared and lost for a while to see if they can recover their inner Self and see if that they can have access to their innate wisdom.
I tried to help you and failed with my approach…
I still want to hear about all what you are going through but I don’t want to give back too much input for that only robs us all of the opportunity to see ourselves. It seems better to ask questions.
I have not always done that with you and I feel I have served a role, like you have served for some other people in your life that suffer tremendously– pointing but not allowing the person to be alone and lost to discover what is at the heart of the matter. I hope I can find the courage in myself to watch you figure out all the things you have to see in your life.
I, like you, cannot be anyone’s guru.
Sometimes we just want to cry to someone and repeat the same things we know, but to change that seems so hard at times but I trust it is possible from within ourselves.
Last night was so hard to be so upset and admit how I was wrong. I felt I would be obliterated if I put down my anger and fear and looked at how I missed the mark again by telling you what is wrong with you, instead of sharing what I feared.
You and I are obviously confused and insecure like many of the people in our lives, but it takes something special to step into the darkness of vulnerability and do something from spirit and heart. With our socialized conditioning many times we just can’t or don’t even know what that truly means.
To see beyond ourselves is so scary because there we find a peace for no one in a sense and it seems so scary and unfamiliar.
When we run up against life, through numbing or creating drama, that is where we feel most comfortable many times. The “problem” of being is now normal to most of us.
Just like doing a job we hate or spending most of the day doing things we do not want to do is normal and praised.
I have a belief that all of us can change, But how many people do we really know that have?
How many people do we know that have been changed but don’t change, if you catch my drift?
I love you and this letter may be more for me to tell you how I feel and where I am stuck than any true advice.
We are all conditioned, and how we step out of that is very uncomfortable but I trust in myself and have seen things change by me taking responsibility for my part in all this. In a sense, all we can do is be ourselves and communicate honestly with where we are, and that seems to be the lesson that really sticks and changes me permanently into a more open sense of what life is.
And in the end the change seems to have to come from within in us like a thirst, a craving bigger than wanting anything material.
I am constantly being asked through suffering to see my truth, and how far I am are willing to go down that road depends on the level and management of my suffering. Some folks can suffer through an entire life of quiet desperation and others can’t bear a moment there. And who and why that happens seems impossible for me to know but I am listening to all of it as it happens to me.
I love you so. Trust yourself alone in this darkness and see what is true just for you in all this and see if you can live it.