Be Here Now: The Future Depends On It

What is the “present moment?” I assume most people have experienced something they would call a “present moment.” I know when I am there, or at least close, but planning on it is…well, a contradiction. We’ve all had experiences that were so intense, so embodied, so clear and blissful that they are imprinted forever and remain the standard for  presence. We’re completely undistracted by the past or the future, free of mental activity, grasping at scenarios that have nothing to do with the what’s happening right now. Even if it’s only for a few brief moments, we are out of our minds. The prevailing standard of mental activity has dissolved.

To occupy the present means time stands still. That’s what it feels like. Vastly spacious, everything is happening sooo slowly. Experience and feeling is so rich we can be overwhelmed. We are compelled by the moment until, eventually, we begin to ask ourselves how this can be happening…. and then, why can’t this be happening all the time? By now the present moment experience is already corrupted. Thoughts such as these, the maddening but seemingly inevitable reassertion of the witness (the ego), are the reason the present moment is so elusive, so vivid and yet so transient. That witness is pondering how to control the future.

We want to go back to the present. I know I do. Maybe we look for maps that will take us back…or forward…or inward, teachers and methods that will guide us deeply into fully embodied presence. We practice and believe and observe and record. Siri, directions to the present moment, please. Siri, take me out of my mind. Siri says, what? I didn’t get that.

This is not a frivolous thing because it’s not an experience of tuning out. It’s tuning in. Way down and way in. We know it’s important and we understand why it’s important. And yet, evolutionary biologists have been hell-bent to interpret social behavior, our interactive life, in terms of its utility and survival value. This is the scientific approach to understanding behavior, ecology, genetics, sexuality, the natural world. Everything is interpreted as a survival imperative, as if science can reduce all behavior to fit into the reductionist box that’s only about utility and efficiency.

Behaviors that don’t fit into that box, inefficient activities that don’t readily produce measurable results such as play, compassion, empathy, artistic expression, time out for tenderness, the pure simple enjoyment of this delicious life–or being so utterly present in the moment as to regard all action as superfluous– somehow these activities are left off the survival bus as if they don’t deserve a seat… because they might even be irrelevant, because they aren’t about the next meal or defense or the next reproductive act.

But as Eisenstein** and others note, our focus on efficiency and producing what can be measured has cost us immeasurably in things that cannot be measured: the erotic and creative ground of relationship, sacred community, our immersion in the planetary matrix of the non-human world. In achieving productive efficiency, maximizing utility and the productive use of our limited time, we have been giving up our relation to the timeless, giving up our access to the present moment.

There is another view, promoted recently by Martin Seligman, who has published a work called, “Homo Prospectus,” renaming our species to reflect our pre-occupation with the future. For him, our capacity to visualize the future is a distinguishing feature of humanity. For him, it is the reason we thrive. For me, and, I suspect, for many others involved in sketching out the New Story of Humanity, it is also the reason we are approaching a real possibility of extinction.

It has been said for a long time now that the Old Story of Humanity is one of separation. When we speak of separation, we talk about separation from each other and from the natural world. Overcoming that story doesn’t simply mean re-establishing relationship, but overcoming the very mental operations that so naturally and habitually divide us from our own experience. We are separated from ourselves, dispersed, as Thich Nhat Hanh might call it, from our own center, an organizing principle of existence. Or, in Seligman’s terms, we are lost in the future, our perpetual obsession with improving life.

Being fully in the present means there is no such reflection. There’s no time for it. There’s no purpose for it. In the animal world, the behavior of beings that don’t have the reflective capacities of humans exhibit behaviors essential to survival. There is nothing frivolous or extraneous or obsessive there. Likewise, just because humans have a reflective capacity doesn’t mean behaviors that don’t fit in the efficiency and utility box are irrelevant. What is more likely is that such behaviors, empathy, compassion, artistic expression, spontaneous creativity are just as essential to our own survival precisely because the most attractive expressions of these behaviors occur without reflection–as if they are completely natural. And, but the way, such behaviors occur spontaneously…in the moment. They improve life now.

It is the very unreflective, natural, totally present commitment of the animal world that exhibits the complete enjoyment of life, integral to whatever utility these behaviors might otherwise be imbued with by human science, and upon which survival depends. Such behaviors are viewed as being driven by instinct, completely unconscious motivations buried in the genetic material and passed from one generation to the next.

For humans, we not only spend a great deal of time contemplating the future, Seligman notes that we depend on our fellow humans to do the same, insuring that we have so many comforts and essentials of life close at hand. Prospective thinking is what has created the multitude of choices among those comforts and essentials. Yet is is also prospective thinking that has created the myth of perpetual growth. It is the reason for environmental destruction.

The transformational journey we are in is to overcome the inertia of the myth of perpetual Industrial Growth and to recover the capacity to be in the present moment, to indulge in unreflective spontaneous enjoyment, to dive into the erotic earth in the center of our souls and get messy with the pleasures there because these are the glue of relationship, of community, of connection with and commitment to the welfare of the whole. This is the medium in which we are immersed with the entire no-human world.

Further teasing out the meaning of the present moment requires making a somewhat technical point. Maybe it’s even irrelevant. But when we look more closely at what we mean by “present,” we quickly realize that there is no such thing as the present moment, as if time stands still for us to experience our connection to all things. No, it does not. Any designation of time as a unit is artificial.

The present moment is not separate from any other moment. It is all moments. It’s not a thing. It’s everything. If there us no such thing as a unit of time and thus no such thing as the present moment, then we must liberate ourselves from the (default?) tyranny of eternally imagining the future and recombining memories to support that new vision. Even if we are doing that (which is most of the time), we needn’t be prisoners of the process. Every moment is the present moment and there is no moment in which we are not connected to all things. There is no such thing as the present….or, for that matter, the future.

The way that our survival depends on knowing this is by realizing that the present moment, which does not exist, is the erotic ground of everything, the natural mind, the source of everything, yet is always perfectly still–even while we are busy constructing future scenarios. Knowing this, we can begin to discern and distinguish phenomena, events, thoughts, relationships, every dynamic of our known matrix that is disconnected from this view. That is the basis of creating a different world.

** NB: a podcast conversation with Charles Eisenstein, December, 2015.

Tongue Candy

How the words spill forth like an endless freight train
crossing an open prairie, each car holding precious cargo,
the order random or familiar, reminding me that ideas,
whatever else they may be, are also obstacles
to knowing, with the tenacity of lichen growing

in the crannies of a mountain ledge. Words–ceremoniously
tucked away in libraries of inner conflict, confusion,
obsessive deliberation and terminal differentiation.
Who says we have to say anything? Or be anything?
Why should I believe that taking the fateful step, creating

and dancing with the object of my attention, will benefit
anything, least of all my own soul? Words on the page may
line up like the straight faces of unruly children hoping
for ice cream after a tumultuous meal of tantrums and tossing
vegetables, but in the end, they are all empty calories,

impediments to the reality of taste, to the experience of
all my senses gone wild, a temporarily soothing precipitate
of the original solution, visible yet reminiscent of something
already long dead. But alas, they are my skin in the game,
triumph and risk intermingled inseparably unrecognizably

irrefutably inevitably terminally together, a flash flood
of certainty washing through a desert wadi of perfectly dry
truth that was doing just fine until you came along thank
you very much. Words are a temptation standing at a precipice,
inviting us to jump, bridges to the foreign, beasts of burden,

immutable strains of familiar tunes, or mere domesticated
animals to be kept around the estate for show, a comforting
arm on which to sashay into the prom. Tongue candy.
They are what’s left over after what we know has been devoured,
the bones telling us what we already knew before dissolving

back into the void, rash actions taken to dispel an unspeakable
fear of the wreckage that we are, epithets hollered into
canyons of doubt we inherited at birth coming back as haunting
echoes, spinning and dangling like hood ornaments on our
personal vehicles. As scalpels, daggers, or the artist’s chisel

stripped of all menace, soothing as a mother’s touch, language
is both familiar and foreign, inexplicable, overreaching,
failing miserably or seducing unwittingly, its codes working
unexpected and unnoticed magic on its creators, metaphors satisfying
and mystifying, making music of what can never truly be spoken.

Beginningless Time

Reincarnation Cycle Hinduism Hindu reincarnation cycle · found on ...

In referring to previous lives (if there is such a thing), the cyclical nature of existence (there is definitely such a thing), Buddhist texts frequently refer to numberless lives stretching into beginningless time. From the non-dual perspective, this term is itself a non sequitur. It refers to a condition having no beginning and no end. There is no time. If there is no beginning (and no end), how can there be time in the conventional way that we understand it?

Woody Allen once famously said, “Time is nature’s way of preventing everything from happening all at once.” From the view in which subject and object exist, we can only imagine “everything” as discrete events, jumbled together without order, arising in random fashion, crowding each other out, competing for “space” in the chaos of phenomena, all competing for our attention. The nature of mind is such that this “competition” appears as the constant arising of sense perception, the evaluation of that perception, thoughts in relation to the timing of “events” that we perceive or imagine to exist.

But absolute reality is not some other unconventional form of time, unfamiliar to us, in which “events” occur. There is no sequence of events. There are no events. It is time-less. There are no discrete moments. There is no present, no past, no future; no procession from one thing to another. There is only what is-now. The term beginningless time is a conception arising from within our own limited view of reality, our conditioned view, which is intrinsically based in time. Normally, we are not capable of another view.

The Sanskrit meaning of samsara is “continuous flow”– the repeating cycle of the major transitional events in one’s existence: birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation). The root meaning of the word samsara also refers to “flowing into ourselves.” If we only thought of the transitional events (birth, death and reincarnation) as features of samsara, we would be overlooking the continuous flow of moment-to-moment events in between these major transitions —our continuous flow into ourselves.

In this sense, samsara is happening in every instant. We are subject to its terms. We also flow into and perpetuate those terms with every act of consciousness. Being asleep to micro-events of our lives, we become wanderers, constantly re-creating ourselves without realizing our true relationship to what we take for granted as “events.” If we are to have any influence on the terms of samsara, this is where our attention must go.

Reincarnation - London Print Studio

The more we awaken, the more we learn about the terms of samsara and our condition, the more we might come to regard our predicament as a perpetual purgatory, which is in every instant a condition over which we seem to have little if any control, but which is also a choice we make of view and of conduct.

Even the discipline we apply to the development of attention, to resting in a quality of effortlessness in our daily existence and to the attention we bring to the activity of mind all seems to be limited by the reality of samsara itself, the fundamental limitations to which we are helplessly subject. That limitation is time. And…it is also timeless.

Karma is the essential feature of samsara. Our action is what fuels samsara, the continuing moment-to-moment co-origination of phenomena that we call time. Karmic action can only exist in time. Our conceptual frameworks reflect the ways we are embedded in time. Language to a great degree also reflects these conceptual frameworks …and fireworks.

The individual aspect of karma, what we recognize from a sweeping perspective of an entire life over time, is what we may inherit from a previous life; that which follows us into this life; what we create in this life by conscious or unconscious action. This is the material of our practice, the essence of our own personal version of delusion. In order to have any influence over our own karma, our own unique way of navigating time-which is our identity-our practice must come to rest at the level of our habitual view and decisions about time.

This conventional view of karma as strictly a reflection of our individual path is what I would call relative karma. It is relative in the same sense as we speak of relative truth, relative reality. It is relative by virtue of the artificiality of viewing ourselves in isolation from others, from the whole, from the universe of sentient beings.

As the bodhisattva is concerned with the karma of all, any being who has managed to extinguish all of her personal karma is the one who has revealed the habitual decisions about time and untangled from them entirely, developing awareness that transcends time and becoming concerned with the absolute karma of the whole, the timeless dimension of collective activity, thought and behavior. The accomplishment of the bodhisattva is the ability to remain stable in the view of the absolute karma of all beings while acting at the level of relative karma with individual beings. I cannot reference any text to support this opinion. It is simply mine alone…as far as I know.

It is a Western view that imagines such a thing as collective karma; group, tribal or ethnic karma; national karma; even planetary karma. Moreover, we tend to think in terms of good and bad karma according to conventional (relative) values of good and evil, assigning them to collective karma in the very real sense that good and bad things happen to groups and that shared responsibility exists for consequences of shared decisions in ways that are just as real and painful as those effecting individuals.

Such decisions certainly do exist at the group, tribal, national and global level. Yet when attempting to tease out the factors effecting collective actions, we inevitably encounter conflicting values and the difficulty of evaluating the relative importance of each, and the relative participation of individuals in hierarchies of relevancy and influence. What is the greater good or the greater harm? All of this occurs within the relative view.

Reincarnation, the ‘Interlife’, Universal Consciousness & the ...

From the absolute view, all phenomena are equal; there is no such thing as ultimate good or ultimate evil. These distinctions dissolve as we peer beyond the relative view, as we uncover the relative activity of mind that assigns these attributes to what is essentially a valueless arising. This is very difficult to grasp, let alone accept, given our religious, social and cultural conditioning. Yet all phenomena are both “here” in the relative sense of time, judgment and evaluation and also “not here” in the sense that the ground “from” which they arise is not conditioned or conventional reality at all, but something else entirely—a pure, unobstructed, unconditioned “space” in which, ironically, neither time nor space have any meaning whatsoever.

If all phenomena are the same, then relative karma is conditioning to see the world in terms of extremes such as good and evil. Liberation is the extinction of all karma, freeing oneself from all evil, all good and ultimately any tendency–or even capacity–to make any such distinction.


Since I just recently posted a couple of poems about death, you might get the idea that I am dwelling on this topic. I don’t even know what “dwelling” means in this case; one man’s dwelling is another’s obsession.

I don’t know you, but am becoming increasingly conscious of the entropy of my days. Perhaps you’ve had a brush with mortality in the form of disease, declining function or an accident. I have been fortunate in that regard. But otherwise, I doubt I am very far from average. I don’t think much about my death in general, but every time I have an encounter with impermanence, a disappointment, a loss, someone else’s loss, whether it’s a specific or a general loss such as, you know, a gas attack or any of the fanatical US military escapades abroad, famine, disease, I’m likely to contemplate, even if for only briefly, my own demise.

There are other times when one encounters mortality, such as in deciding what to do with one’s stuff or completing an advanced health care directive. In fact, recently I had to decide who to put on a list of people I designate to receive my personal medical information. The only time I could imagine such a list being relevant or such information being useful would be if I was incapacitated or at the end of life.

Just the other day I was looking at my premium notice for long-term care insurance. I don’t know how many people have such policies, but the decision to get one is  accompanied by journeys into end of life scenarios. And those journeys can become complex, even take on a life of their own if you aren’t careful. Although most people prefer to think of their demise as a short period of declining health or even a sudden event such as a heart attack or stroke, the reality is that for the majority, the end of life is a long and slow process. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the segue from denouement to the downhill slide.

That being the case, some years ago I decided to insure myself against the potentially exorbitant expense of personal care out of concern that my family should not be burdened with that responsibility if I could possibly relieve them of it. But here was this premium notice in front of me and I started thinking about my life expectancy and the relative values of the insurance versus other options. It’s a crapshoot, really. And this is only one way of thinking about one’s death.

Another way has taken place intermittently for me over the past few years. From time to time, I have meditated on feeling my way into the precise frame of mind I would choose to generate at the moment of my death. This has been an deeply illuminating practice of construction, not very different from the vajrayana practice of guru yoga. What usually occurs is that for short periods I am fully able to internalize an expansive and infinitely generous state, settling deeply into vast spacious clarity, unlimited and unreserved loving and also…not surrender, but a fearless acceptance. A choice. What is also interesting about this practice is that while I can visualize myself in some undetermined future, I am less adept at generating this state in the present moment. It’s much easier as a hypothetical than as an immediate reality. Hmmm.

I noticed right away that there were obstacles to sustaining this frame of mind. I began to  look more closely at what these obstacles were and engage with them as if they had personalities of their own. Invariably, they involve some form of self-cherishing, some need to concretise my beliefs, hold onto an identity. I was either afraid of feeling my fears or exploring attitudes that limit my ability to open completely to the possibility of unlimited, unconditional, unrestrained loving regard for all. There is something in the way that needs to protect itself, guarding against the prospect of that loving regard not being returned….or a plethora of other reasons. If there was any sense of opening resulting from these internal encounters, it was from realizing that if there’s no one home, there’s nothing to protect.

Which is not to say at all that I don’t exist–or some other self-satisfying emotional dodge. Ultimately, such an exercise is actually about living now rather than living or dying in some imagined future. After all, the idea that at the moment of death I will have the presence of coherent mind to choose my view is a complete projection. It’s a worthy objective, but it’s also a creation of ego. And yet, the contemplation of the finer details of that projection, such as how I really feel about leaving everything or just dropping off into the complete unknown, offers a vehicle to examine the immediate nature of ego operating in a less than fearless and open way.

Engaging directly but with impeccable neutrality with emotional resistance creates a vantage point to approach that resistance with true and unlimited compassionate regard–bodhicitta. It allows me to look more deeply at the resistance I feel to awakening into fearless loving in this moment.  A neutral orientation is supremely important. No effort is required, no judgment is possible, no narrow definitions or any agenda are necessary. No requests made, no time limit allowed, no limit at all to the depth of ones ultimate positive regard for whatever hinders one’s innate capacity for fearless loving.

Another component of the imagined ideal mental state at death is its uncontrived and spontaneous nature, unreactive to anything, welcoming everything, undistracted by either the past or the future. Everything is equal and everything is positive. Being present in one’s actual state as it is. No regrets, no needs, no desires; a supreme letting go. Like a bundle of kindling collapsing when its binding is cut. And again, imagining this state in an undetermined future invariably brings me directly into contemplating the reality of this state in this moment.

Take it into the world-now. How does that feel–everything opening up right now into the vast expanse? Isn’t it amazing? Suddenly death is a million miles away….and also, right here.

The Karmapa Stupa-Crestone, CO.

The plan to be in Crestone in the summer of 2015 was made the previous winter when registration opened for the regular two weeks of retreat with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. I had been attending two one-week back-to-back retreats with him each summer for several years. He has some land and an office there and comes once a year. The rest of the time he is in Nepal, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, England, now also Russia, and various other US locations (including east and west coasts).

In any case, Crestone is a trip. Four hours south of Denver, it’s a small town at 8000 ft in the foothills on the western side of the Sangre de Cristo range. It’s not on the way to anywhere and it’s 50 miles from any commercial center. It has maybe two hundred people (seriously) in the unincorporated town and maybe 1000 more scattered across a few square miles of semi-developed (on and off-grid) residential subdivisions sprawling out on the flat scrub overlooking the expansive San Luis Valley.

There are no less than two dozen operating spiritual and religious retreat centers there, mostly Buddhist (Tibetan and Zen) but also Carmelite nuns, a big Sri Aurobindo center, Episcopal, Baptist, New Age, etc. that provide a constant stream of visitors supporting the local economy–at least when there isn’t any snow.

It turns out numerous very highly respected and well known Buddhist teachers have been to this land over the past 30-some years, blessing and buying land, opening centers, etc. Why? Because it looks like home, I suppose. One of these guys was the XVIth Karmapa, one of the most revered teachers of the 20th century and the head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, someone we might consider to be the CEO of Tibetan Buddhism.

Although he died in a Chicago hospital in 1981 (and that’s quite a story in itself), a stupa was erected in his honour in Crestone in 1996 now standing on land supporting 3-year retreats by monks in training. It’s 5 miles out a single lane dirt road that gets progressively  rough way up on a mountainside overlooking the immense valley below under a vast sky. The perpetual nature of that vast sky, regardless of temporary obscuration by clouds, is a major draw of this place.

This unlimited, clear, open and changeless quality is a representation of what Buddhists regard as the true nature of mind, innate to all but accessible to only a very few, and no doubt a major reason for the selection of this site. Though I had been to Crestone before, I visited that stupa for the first time during my visit in 2015.

Buried inside the stupa are relics of some of the superstars of Tibetan Buddhism going back to Buddha himself: Padmasambhava, Marpa, Tilopa, Longchenpa, Milarepa, including also relics of more recent figures of the 20th century, Dilgo Kyentse, Kalu Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen and Chogyam Trungpa. There are 100,000 hand-made miniature paper replicas of the stupa cached inside. It’s about 50 ft high and 25 ft wide at the base. Every structural detail is symbolic of some aspect of buddhism.

I had never seen one so large in the United States. Upon visiting a stupa, the custom is to circumambulate in a clockwise direction while reciting one particular common (refuge) prayer. I took a few laps and then settled in front of the face, looking upward at the gold Buddha inset displaying the Apan mudra for purification and confidence. At that time, I could not have called myself a religious buddhist. I’m a student and practitioner of Atiyoga, Dzogchen. I am not dedicated to complex outer ritual; I am dedicated to internal transformative practices. I’ve also had a few extraordinary experiences. But there are also some complex and entirely foreign practices that go along with this tradition. When it starts to feel like organized religion, I generally head in the opposite direction.

But as I stood there, all I can tell you is that I received an immediate and direct transmission of the collective devotion and accomplishment of every one of those teachers represented there. It was a massive hit– like 10,000 volts. Overwhelming–and it broke me open. I went to my knees for several minutes, absorbing the message of unwavering commitment, relentless discipline, the collected wisdom and the heart-opening fruition of ageless practice.

The power of that moment will not likely recur, but it is surely embedded. It was one of those priceless boosts, both humbling and inspiring, that kicks up one’s own view and practice to another level and indelibly deepens one’s devotion and appreciation for the opportunity and benefit presented by these teachings.

How one might interpret and hold an experience such as this is not something that reveals itself quickly. I regarded it as a confirmation that the attitudes we hold in pursuing our personal objectives must be fully explored, teased out and articulated if they are to be realized; that we must be impeccable in our behavior, reach beyond parochial interests and every ideology to an expanded vision that includes all.

That’s certainly no easy task, especially in these times, with every district, state and region protecting their narrowly-defined interests; with fear and scarcity embedded and ritualistically evoked by the elected shamans who claim concern for the many as they act in the interests of the few. Nevertheless, it is good to be reminded that merely recapitulating the divided and divisive nature of every other issue will ultimately lead to a hollow victory.

I know this will appear to be a sharp turn from where I started this post, but not really as sharp as it appears. Some of the guidance I have received:

  • Our future actions will be increasingly limited by the consequences of our past actions unless we grasp and integrate better decision-making practices.
  • We may not see the origins of what happens to us, but we can surely decide to be the origin of what happens by us. 
  • We all have an influence on the sustainability of life.
  • We are the expression of a universal order in this moment. If we do not express it ourselves, something else will be imposed upon us.
  • Nothing is nothing. And… everything is everything.
  • Our biases bind and blind us; they are invisible but knowable harnesses that bridle us, becoming our principle references for reality.
  • Loosening the bridle does not extinguish our bias, but it does widen our view.  
  • To listen for and sense the earth is to listen to our own heart. Listening to our own heart is the pathway to listening to another’s heart.
  • All emergencies are the same emergency. How can we respond together to our common emergency?

How will you respond to the call of the collected wisdom, unwavering commitment, sacrifice, risk and devotion of your teachers?


Visiting Lukens Lake

Lukens lake–Yosemite Park

In June, 2014, nearly three years ago now, during the last vacation trip we would take together, my former partner and I made a brief trip to Yosemite Park.

 On the final morning of our visit, we left the car and took a short hike at an early hour to a lake about a mile from the road. The trail went up a hill and over, meandering down the other side in dense forest and intermittent sunshine, down to a flattened bank and a green and densely populated marshy meadow.

The path followed the edge of the meadow toward a small lake, maybe a hundred yards across, absolutely serene in the clear and crisp morning sunshine. We found a log next to the water to rest and sat silently together.

There was no movement save a dragonfly hovering and flitting on the surface. Then there was the brief flutter of a bird overhead and behind us in the trees. A duck floated out from behind shore cover not far away; then another, and then two more. Then they disappeared. The surface midway across briefly broke as a fish lunged for prey. Then, again. Bright stillness reigned.

As the moments passed, I became still inside as well, more a part of this place, a timelessness overtaking me in which all things take on a soft nature, a stillness that is not really still at all, a shimmering hyper-vivid motionless motion. I recalled another moment much like this one some years ago in which the awesome timeless beauty of every moment was revealed, along with the truth of time itself– that it is no more than imagination, part of the seamless suit of consciousness that we all wear and out of which we may only ever break free for brief random moments. Such moments reveal the sublime and supreme paradox: that everything we know is illusion, here and not here at the same time. All objects appear to have some material nature, yet exist only in some fathomless, timeless insubstantiality.

The sky was as clear as a dream. Even these movements that occurred infrequently, randomly, could not break the silence. No, they were not other than stillness. They were stillness itself, sparkling in movement and sound.

I held her more closely, imagining I was feeling our common essence in the same manner in which I felt the essence of this place, the perfect stillness of the moment, our eternal nature in breathing forms with desires, needs, fragile and unique expressions of an eternal nature, flawed, finding each other for no purpose other than to experience moments like this one, exposing ourselves to be caressed, to fall, to rise, to be realized in the eyes of another. I felt complete acceptance and love for her and for myself.

Nothing else mattered.

Just Passing Through


This gallery contains 2 photos.

I When my time comes all the bindings will be undone immersing me in a reversing flow currents converting me to a slow unwinding and un-blinding the final secrets proving all geometries under a fat moon in a starlit sky … Continue reading

Russia, the Election and the Cruise Attack


Regarding the entire issue of alleged Russian interference in US politics and what is now unfolding in Syria, it might be useful to add some historical perspective: On January 17, 1961, three days before JFK was sworn in, President Dwight … Continue reading

Night of the Racketeers

I don’t know about you, but much of the time these days I am wading through the hip-deep mud that emanates from the White House. Leaping from the delirious unraveling going on, composting social and political structures and identities into an activist’s view, to a critique of the dominant social, economic and political dynamics seems important, but in reality only seems to provide temporary respite.

What to do? Trust what we know or rely on someone else’s perspective? On one hand, there is the dismemberment resulting from the current crew of cartoonish characters on the Right casually propagating the malevolence of isolation, the exclusionary ideologies of fixation and separation, willing to leave increasing numbers of people stranded between their origins and their destination. On the other, we are now affected by events from the farthest reaches of the earth. We are infused with and influenced by foreign peoples and cultures as never before. We see the big picture of the destruction of the biosphere and the many versions of struggle against it. We are steeped in mind-blowing ingenuity, intelligence and wildly creative solutions to huge problems, taking increasingly risky stances on principle, envisioning something different based on relationship, living fully into our inexpressible beauty and creativity, the constantly emerging chaos and opportunity. We can sense our partners on this raft hurtling through the cosmos, dismantling the ideology of permanence, countering the whitewashing of the past and the denial of death.

Every boundary that can be crossed is being crossed in a seemingly inexorable destruction derby emanating from der Furor. In that dissolution, every tenet of the old order is under assault even as the earth demonstrates daily that our assumptions of human exception, what Freud called “human narcissism,” are the height of folly and arrogance. Thus, the old story (that the concentration of ever-expanding wealth into an ever-decreasing number of hands while the destruction of education, the rise of mass surveillance and loss of privacy and civil rights is somehow good for us) collapses as we sense our fragility, our true intimacy with the human and the non-human, our unfinished nature that will never be finished, especially in a future that is not guaranteed.

As eyes and minds open, barriers fall. We see (and respond) beyond color, culture, language and national boundaries to a previously inconceivable resonance of life-affirming values spreading across the world. Maybe this is driven by global climate upheaval, naked political and economic repression, an unfolding realization that humans themselves are a geological event in progress; maybe we are driven by impending crises of population, water, food or other essential elements indispensable to our tech-driven culture. Maybe it’s all part of the decay, the collapse and death of the conventional narrative about death itself, about how things are, by the realization that there is an ineffable reality beyond the intellectual fences: we are in perpetual transition.

Of course, the other thing going on is retrenchment, a hardening of the fear-based authoritarian ideology, intimidation and distraction serving exclusion and control, the desperate grasping for domination and continued extraction, if not from the earth itself, then from people, an intensified grasp of unsustainable practices, retrenchment into greater secrecy, less accountability, more and deeper back-room, under-the-table influence, off-line and off the charts collusion, the propagation of terror by and for the arms, pharmaceutical, agribusiness, banking, surveillance and fossil energy industries, the flagrant flouting of law and fact, an assault on truth itself for personal gain. Profit and democracy do not coexist well. They never have.

These are real things, materially affecting everyone. To avoid seeing them does not make them go away. But to see and name them is to freeze one frame of a dynamic process. It inevitably changes the seer and the seen. To operate in that binary world is a flawed approach particularly if we impose an immutable binary view on others, not to mention ourselves. Denying others a freedom we demand for ourselves will not get us where we wish to go.

Where does death fit in this view—except perhaps as one more barrier, one more metaphor of our self-imposed compartmentalization of the individual? The anthropocentric nature of death is expressed as religion, which purports to explain death by reassuring us of our permanence, which, by the way, is also the essence of the corporate business model. Extracted from religion, death is intimately entwined with time. We say we are all prisoners of time and yet are also being gifted by time in every “moment.”

We may  regard the “prison” as compassion in disguise, giving us, even as our “time” diminishes and our future narrows, a widening view and a greater capacity to resolve the dilemmas of impermanence and dualism in which death itself becomes a culmination of our lifelong journey–seeing through the disguise instead of succumbing to it. If the world is encoded in our materiality, every death is also a service to life, a gift to the collective, the world speaking to itself.

The polarity of expansion vs retrenchment (the corporate determination to cheat death) is what continues to produce and intensify the effect and drive so many forms of global violence they are too numerous to mention. This is the ongoing blatant and increasingly coercive economic narrative at a global scale: racketeering. Some would say that racketeering has always been the business model of America. There’s certainly enough evidence of that. Indeed, America was built on this model. See Robber Barons.

Racketeering, is “a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist…. that would not otherwise exist if the racket did not exist.” (See “War on Terror”)

A few examples of racketeering: disenfranchisement campaigns, the fraudulent impeachment and removal of Dilma Roussef in Brazil by a cabal of criminally corrupt oligarchs, North Carolina’s HB2, Bayer/Monsanto/Syngenta insisting that pesticides are required to protect the food supply. The contrived (potential) problem may be caused by the same party that offers to solve it.

The most common example of a racket is the “protection racket.” –such as the fossil fuel industry’s 100-year promotion and creation of dependency upon fossil fuels as the sole and essential source of low cost energy, taking us from social benefit through extraction to the extraction of social benefit through misinformation, the obfuscation of scientific fact, the insistence that the social costs of carbon-based energy either don’t really exist or aren’t sufficient to deter us from continuing to rely on it, i.e. people don’t matter.

Racketeering assaults science and scientists while tickling the testicles of members of Congress, TransCanada insisting that the Keystone XL pipeline was critical to North American energy independence, Energy Transfer proceeding to build the DAPL pipeline without an easement from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The racket exists as both the problem and its solution and is used as a method of extortion. The racket promises to protect the target [party] from dangerous events; then either collects their money or causes the damages to the business until the owner pays. (the 2008-9 US bank bailout)

Racketeering is violence. Racketeering is organised crime. It is the companion of the narrowing economic opportunity that is created for a small elite while propagating the myth of rising wealth. The unfocused rage directed at this violence that excludes so many underpins much of the support that Trump enjoys, but which is misdirected rage because since Trump was elected, the cabinet has been stocked with alligators, racketeers, while we have seen more violence directed at the groups (immigrants and minorities) that are perceived to be the ones stealing from the excluded.

Campaign finance, aided by entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is the other racket that twists democracy to the service of moneyed interests. This has been called bribery, but the quid pro quo is more subtle. The elite insiders (including especially the Clintons and their Davos pals) of the capitalist club understand each other. They don’t have to leave trails of evidence because there are covert understandings between them about how to do things, what is in their interests and how they will decide what is in our interests, namely propping up the facades of democracy and transparency. The receivers know what is expected of them and they gladly comply.

The student loan industry, in collusion with the government, is racketeering. The international “free trade” agreements, NAFTA, TPIP and TPP, may be the grandest rackets of all. With the truth buried in hyper legal text and kept from the public eye, national sovereignty is quietly overturned. Geographical borders may not be sacrosanct, but the collective right of people (governments) to care for themselves should be.

Even language undergoes tortuous manipulation to extract and re-shape meaning to reinforce the ideology of human primacy, the hubris that denies the agency and import of the non-human world, suffocating the eloquence of dismemberment, of being broken, of subliminal chaos, of being perpetually in formation, living in a balance of questions formed and answered and questions unformed and unanswerable. And yet language also remains one of the vital tools remaining to pierce the pretense that the music can and must go on forever.

A mentor poses, “We have to allow for the fact that we may not be smart enough to even know how to think through our problems,” and, “Would we have the same conception of waste we have today if we defecated from the same place we ingested foods? Would we think in binaries, write in studious sequences, or understand ‘progress and development’ if there was no notion of ‘forward’?”

That world is already here—the single portal for the ingestion of nutrition and elimination of waste has become the smart phone/tablet—our ‘eye’ to the world, as well as being the portal through which so much waste passes. As more and more moves in and out, telling the difference between the two is the challenge, of course, since-at least in terms of the smartphone portal-one man’s shit is another’s nutrition. Every user to an increasing degree is now trading in the global transmission of both, such that the linearity of ‘knowledge’ and intelligence breaks down as more and more becomes integral to more and more.

Ironically, the technological tools of connectivity are products of the very racketeering that now both facilitates and limits mass access and intimacy, the continuing breakdown of linearity, institutions of control, reductive reasoning, the birth and death of Stories, development, the emergence of issues, activism. Less and less can occur in secret or in sequestered domains now, which is why racketeering, the deliberate (not accidental!) drive toward increasing control and the increasing secrecy of those efforts have become so much more intense.

As It Is


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From my earliest instruction in Buddhist meditation, this phrase, “As it is,” has been used in numerous contexts to describe a way of interpreting experience. It implies that all overlays, story, judgment, speculation about the future and interpretation of the … Continue reading