The Examined Life

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday, October 31, 2008


Zen is not a form of philosophy, religion or mysticism. Alan Watts likened it to psychology. For me it is an experience of consciousness which has implications for my life.

The "Middle Way", how to live in the world with the consciousness that the world is an illusion. It is a kind of schizophrenic existence of dreaming and awakening, of forgetting and remembering, of suffering and rejoicing.

I have always had this sense of "Zen". It is a consciousness that haunts my waking life and aches in my soul when I deny its presence. Decades of my life were spent in a desert thirsting for its quenching relief from separation and aloneness, always knowing of the existence of the Self beyond the self, the Creator beyond the creation, the Watcher beyond the actor and doer.

As close as the note to the chime, this consciousness and I are One, where time and space are collapsed into the eternal Singularity. Then in the twinkling of an eye I am drawn back into my separateness from where I find my self struggling with the illusion de jour. I am once again caught on the ropes. Am I ready to let go, ready to release this body and mind? I hear the bell signifying the end of another round. I realize again, that I and I alone, control the clock and the bell. In my mind I hold the hammer that punctuates the illusion of struggle and suffering.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Attached to Nothing

It is so frustrating when life doesn’t go the way I want it to. There is this feeling that there is so much to do and I have to be so intensely focused or things will get even more out of control than they already are. Of course, there are always some things I try to convince my self aren’t so serious. But it seems like more and more really important things are getting out of control no matter how much effort I make.

It is like I am sitting behind the wheel and I began to notice that I am drifting to the right so I have turn the wheel to the left in order to get back to the direction I want life to go. And then I begin to notice that I am drifting to the other way so I have turn the wheel in the opposite direction in order to correct my course again.

This was so tiring that eventually I decided to try something new. I decided that when I begin to notice that life is taking me in one direction or the other I would just gently turn the wheel in the direction that life is taking me.

At first it seemed crazy, but then, pretty soon, I began to notice that my life was becoming easier and less frustrating. Most of the awful things I thought would happen if I did not control them, just never seemed to materialize and the ones that did, so what.

Also, I noticed that I was going down some unfamiliar roads that took me to some new and interesting places where I would never have gone before. Despite all my previous concerns about things getting out of control, eventually I had to admit my trip through life was getting more and more pleasant and exciting. I realized, that before, I had been so attached to the way things “should” be that I couldn’t just enjoy the ride.

It was then I noticed something really odd. I could take my hands completely off the wheel and begin to just watch as my life unfolded before me. At first it seemed as if I had no say whatsoever in the way my life was going. A lot of people in my life were certain I had lost my mind and maybe they were right. I began to notice that not only was I still going to new and interesting places, but also, now something absolutely inexplicable was happening. I had begun to trust that I am being taken care of and realize that my job is really just to be open to infinite possibility and enjoy the ride.

Many of the details that I had previously thought were so important just disappeared from my consciousness. I have finally begun to travel through a new kind of territory in my life.

Before me now there appears a landscape that is continuously created by the love and joy I feel in my heart, rather than a landscape that must be tediously navigated by a steering wheel that has always been attached to nothing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Speaking As the Light

It was an intimate group of only ten participants. I had promised that by the completion, each of them would come to know themselves not as their bodies or their minds but as One mind, not with just those present but with everyone and everything. What I promise is to glimpse the Buddha Mind or “True Self”, the Universal Consciousness, the consciousness that I have come to call “I AM”.

A young woman sat on the second row. As the exercise progressed she was eager to participate, speaking as the various aspects of the ego, the small “s” self that we all “have” and commonly believe to be who we are. These voices are the ofttimes out of control personalities we allow to run our lives unconsciously.

But near the end, when I asked to speak to the voice of I AM, the young woman immediately fell into speaking as her “self” describing this universal consciousness (in the second person) rather than being and speaking as the voice of I AM.

Several other participants began to faithfully describe their experience of being I AM, with its vastness and its timelessness. But the young woman persisted in her “descriptions” of this experience as though she were referring to something far away and inaccessible. Several times I asked her to speak as the Consciousness she was describing.

Finally she told me that what she saw was a great light but the light was hidden behind a curtain like stars in a dark sky, with pinpricks of light showing through. I ask her to point out to me where she was in the picture she had described.

“I am just one of those tiny pinpricks of light” she explained.

I then asked if she would “Speak as that light that creates all those other points of light” and she said she would.

“Is there anywhere in the universe that you do not shine? How big are you? When did you begin?”, I asked.

I felt the energy in the room shift as her consciousness expanded to fill the universe. I watched as her face reflected a peace and knowing that she was not bound by time or space.

Then I asked. “Speaking as this infinite light what is your relationship with the small pinprick of light that you previously identified as your self?”

“We are the same, that small light is a part of me.” she said.

“And when "she" is feeling small, alone, separate and is seeking comfort, as the infinite light, what do you want to say to her?”, I ask.

“I want to tell her that you are part of me and I am always right here.” she replied.

I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I felt profound gratitude for the opportunity, once again, to be in the presence of God.