On a Scale of One to Ten

comments 8
Poetry

We’ll never know
what it’s like
to exist forever
in a condition
of perpetually transforming joy
and goose-bump inducing discovery
if we don’t consider
it a very real
and inevitable
possibility.

It does sound pretty out there,
but so don’t NASCAR races
to German Shepherds.

If we don’t consider
it a very real
and inevitable
possibility,
we’ll likely take something
perfect and beautiful
just as it is,
something like space exploration
or boat building
or moccasin mending
and we’ll require it to be
something it’s not
to make up for this loss.
One of these simple things
will become a complexity–
a claim,
an identity,
a salvation of some sort,
with limited terms, of course,
and endless stipulations.

Also,
we’ll never know
what it’s like
to live forever
in a condition
of perpetually transforming joy
and goose-bump inducing discovery
if we think
the body’s precise location in space and time
and confirmed participation
in “events” of significance
has all that much relevance
on what I’m talking about.

On a scale of one to ten
of what’s most important
to entering this palatial abode
with ten being like you
have to have it,
and one being like
uhmm… yeah, you need this, too,
even though it fits in the carry-on
and doesn’t make noises when you tickle it–
the body doesn’t even get a number.

Roses are beautiful,
but they are not beauty itself.
If a rose gets eaten by a decrepit old hyena
who is shockingly dehydrated
and wandering around fish-eyed
in search of a botanical aphrodisiac,
beauty itself isn’t going to feel the pinch.

Beauty isn’t going to panic.

Beauty is actually going to come
to the rescue.

So if your body were to disappear tonight
for regularly schedule maintenance
(because a hyena ate it for instance)
and never come back,
Love wouldn’t go into a panic.
And neither should you.

A tool is only any good
if you know what it’s for, anyways.
And if you knew that,
you would never lose it
to start with.

Though you might lend it out sometimes.
To whom, I don’t know.

Hafiz, perhaps.
Any number of people, actually,
can dress up just like you
without your knowing it.

Breezes living in a forest
don’t respond to roll call,
preferring to pass right through
one another instead,
back and forth and
merging and gliding
and surrounding one another
just to see what it’s like,
often losing track of who was who first,
and also,

because it drives
the census takers
mad.

All Day, Just This

comments 36
Poetry

All day I am sitting.
On that bench.

There is some wind nearby I recognize,
or maybe it is this:
a dove has flown
through the doorway?
The sky I mean.
Two timbers and a lintel in my mind,
and the clouds
that are playing house upon the ocean.

A dove has formed from the sky
and my heart trembles
because it knows of such things,
and also because all day
I am sitting on that bench throwing pebbles,
the little ones that tumble out of your heart
when you put in a coin and turn the lever.
I throw them up in the air,
through the doorway,
across the boundary and into the gap,
and count the seconds until they land.

They never do.
The sky has no ending here.

I throw them over the side,
off the bridge,
beyond the curl of this place,
beyond the reach of every shadow.
And now a dove is
circling around the brilliance of our sun.
Or perhaps it was just the wind.

What have you given? some will ask.
What do you know about suffering?
You sit there like a fool, by the way,
throwing your idle pennies
to the bottom.
Be of some use, why don’t you?

And later, when I am alone again,
after I have fallen through their skies
and been used by the rain,
by wind that moves in packs
and howls and tears things apart.
By anguish that rents and rips.
After I have gathered myself
and crawled back to the edge:

the pebbles drop from my heart.
It is gravel.  Clean and brittle.
Washed and white.
A river wanders the land
for many leagues of wonder
until this is what is left: this gravel.
Tiny ghosts of a great land
that will still shatter teeth.

I drop one into the sky.
Another I set between the roots of the tree
where it is cool and tiny things grow.
One I throw into the clouds that glide
across the surface of the water,
pretending they live inside of a mirror.

Maybe it is nothing at all.
Maybe it is hollow and useless,
to take what is in you and set it free.
But now there are two doves
circling the sun,
their undersides in shadow.
They are hanging motion:
riders of the invisible.
The brilliance they ride
is a haze I cannot penetrate.
And still the gravel falls into my hand.

All day I am sitting here
and who can say if this matters?
Who can know of such things?

Only the wind, perhaps.
Or whatever it is
that lives just there.

(I am pointing)
(between the doves)
(beyond the doorway)

(through so, so many reflections)

The Thing About Fear

comments 38
Poetry

Fear is like knowing
with a dreadful certainty
there is a sixty-foot troll
exploring the corridors
of your existence
in a pair of rubber-soled shoes
like the spies are obligated to wear
in all those books
to sneak up on one another–
a five-story, monolithic brute
gliding through you
like a dorsal fin through water
who might appear at any moment
and squish you flat upon sight
as if you were a tiny black spider
roaming a shiny white corridor.

It’s not even an angry troll,
is the sad thing.
Squishing you out of existence
is just pure instinct.

SCHWAP!

Then maybe daub a taste of you
on the tongue,
or catch a bit of your scent
off the edge of a finger
or something.

It’s all quite natural.

Well, uhmmm—
gee whiz, Hafiz.
Thanks for the pep talk there,
good buddy.

My pleasure.

I scurried around,
up, over and down,
nimble as the night and
pretty perturbed I gotta’ buy
four pairs of Nike’s to get one job done.

Say, Hafiz:
Got any, uh, last minute thoughts
before that troll smears
me across the floor here?

Oh, for sure.
You could stop thinking
you’re anything
that could ever be squished,
for starters.
And tell me…
how many sixty foot trolls
have you ever seen, REALLY…?

Navigating to Joy

comments 37
Course Ideas

Things that appear to be so under one set of conditions, are often found to be quite different under another.  It is for this reason that most of our conclusions formed historically, in the context of separation consciousness, are erroneous.  What’s remarkable about the experience of life is that we can be completely incorrect about ultimate reality, and have a very real and vivid experience of our own false conclusions up to and even through the experience of dying, without ever being more than the width of a thought from a completely different experience.

For some, the first question that arises is how exactly we are to determine whose experience or picture of reality is “false” and whose is “true”.  This sounds like a question we ought to be able to answer, but unfortunately it is not easily done.  If experience did not differ based upon what I’ll call the “basic interpretive settings” of what are largely unconscious logical faculties—e.g. the underlying choice of separation vs unity consciousness— and, if the experiences to which we are drawn, and which are drawn to us, were not the result of a deep relatedness between each one of us and the world we experience, then by rights this question would be easily answered.  But it is not easily answered, (at least by the thinking mind alone), because we are fundamentally and primordially related to all that exists, and because the deep-lying cognitive filters we apply to experience do as they’re told.

In other words, we live in a logical rat hole.  Our experiences are assigned meaning by cognitive processes that reinforce the standing interpretations, and neither we ourselves, nor the world out there we would study, are fixed constellations of meaning.  All that exists in third-party, observable form, is meaning-less.  A blank canvas.  We are the painters, not the guests at the museum centuries later.  When we put a daub of black paint on the canvas, then step back and say, “Look!  It is black!  See!” we are not being particularly clever.  We don’t experience it this way of course, because the complexity of human experience is astounding.

One problem is that there isn’t even an obvious way to determine if what I’m saying is correct: that we are fundamentally related in some manner to the movement of creation, or that the meanings we assign to experience are in fact self-referential and circular logics.  I suggest that this problem does have a solution, however, and that solution is the reality of suffering.  We need only hypothesize that suffering results from adopting stances incongruent with the nature of ultimate reality—the ultimate nature of ourselves and all that collectively exists—and that correcting those stances will end the experience of suffering.  This then, provides a compass—a tool for discernment.

Suffering of course is a challenge to define at any one instance of time, as the effects of our conceptual stances often take many years to unfold in our lives.  Sometimes we suffer immediately, and other times it takes decades for the nature of our choices to be revealed to us.  We can keep anxiety and difficulty tucked behind a facade of well-being for many years if we so desire.  And of course, none of us are all that excited about admitting the stances we have chosen are not resulting in happiness—none of us enjoy being proven incorrect about ourselves—and so it is human nature to act as though we are who we think we should be.  The only people we’re fooling of course, are ourselves.

So this is an inside job.  This is a job best undertaken in the quiet of one’s own heart, and there is in fact nothing whatsoever that needs to be said to others about what they can or should be doing, too.  Nothing good can really come of instructing another on how to accomplish the task we ourselves have yet to accomplish.  What is useful, is true companionship along the way.  These are the people who share in the readiness to question their basic propositions, and to report honestly on the experiences that derive from that, but more importantly, these are people who see you in ways you yet cannot.  These are people we can drop the guard around, neither to wallow in our difficulties nor to proclaim a false triumph, but to truly join with, because in joining our own private Idaho’s dissolve.  When we join together, we triangulate the location of our false perceptions, and then the choice is brought clearly to light: either we choose to continue with it, or to let it go.

We live in a world that demands a great burden of proof from us.  If any of us wish to assert an idea that is not in accord with the received thinking, then we are put to the task of proving it.  Ideas that cannot withstand external scrutiny are rejected.  But if it is indeed the case that our minds process information in ways that reinforce standing perceptual modes, and that even the circumstances in which we find ourselves derive from a deep relatedness—e.g. particular conditions of belief and learning that are unique to each of us interact with the world in a meaningful way—then by and large no externalized proof is possible.  We will never convince another that there is a more fulfilling way of experiencing ourselves and the world, and why should we?  Our need to do so is largely derived from the false hope that enlisting another in our viewpoint will validate it.  Perhaps the most powerful choice we can make is to simply live, and be the unique examples of life that we are.

Joy is its own litmus test, and anyone that is truly joyous over the long haul has probably got it right, regardless of the words and symbols they choose to use.  This is the flip side of the reality that suffering tells us when we have clung to a position that is ultimately incorrect.  Joy confirms we have aligned ourselves—our thinking, our feeling and our knowing—with the ultimate nature of things, while suffering confirms that we have not.

All of which is to say quite simply: we each have within us all that is required to experience lives of abiding joy.  And though it may at times seem a lengthy process of shifting our beliefs and learned perceptions, our lives guide us unerringly to this long sought reality, if we are but willing to listen to them.

The Art and Skill of Living From the Heart

comments 34
Book Reviews

What does it mean to live from the heart?  And why does it matter?

In my experience, every difficulty I’ve ever faced has manifested itself as a rift between my heart and my mind—between what can be known most profoundly when words are left behind, and what presents itself as a seemingly irrefutable conclusion of the mind’s learning.  When this happens we tend to look at circumstance as the genesis of difficulty, without realizing that our inability to greet circumstance wholeheartedly is the true cause of our suffering.

It takes but one short-fused moment with a loved one to realize we are fractured down the middle—one cross word, one violent thought if we’re paying attention.  We look quickly to reasons, to motivations of self and other, to life’s weighty conditions, when ultimately what we’re feeling is the way our mind’s considerations and our heart’s clarion voice have turned their back on one another.  When we are conflicted within, the result is conflict without: a moment or situation that has no solution, a pain that rings like a searing bell and cannot be silenced.

The greatest challenge I think we face in our world today is that of allowing the inner marriage of heart and mind to be consummated within us.  It is far from an easy task, for we are emerging from a time in which only that which is externally shareable is considered a valid form of knowing.  When our hearts whisper, they whisper to us, and us alone.  Trusting this voice is an indelicate proposition.  The heart whispers to us from deep within the domain of our individuality, from the sanctity of our own being, and the voice is oh so very tender.  The whispers do not withstand the mind’s indecorous demands for evidence and justification.  The voice of our hearts, like a seed dormant for centuries in the soil, will wait patiently for eons if need be, for the conditions in which it might emerge, and grow.

The whispers of the heart require the carrier wave of trust, sounded within the echo chamber of peace, to become sensible.  Peace is like an amplifier of the truth within us.  It builds it up into something we can contact.  But if we look too closely, with eyes sharpened by fear and doubt, we puncture the bubble, and it is lost.  Looking this way justifies itself.

See?  There is nothing there.  Just like I thought.

The heart and mind conflict when the mind usurps the heart by proving once again its chosen point of origin, and the beautiful skill and craft required to bring the heart and mind into union is dismissed.  We don’t like that there is an art to this, a craft innate to us whose importance we’ve forgotten.  We don’t like the idea that bringing heart and mind into alignment requires commitment, willingness and perseverance.  We don’t like that it’s at once subtle and messy, or that it adamantly refuses to be commoditized.

We really don’t like that the heart’s liquidity is predicated upon surrender.

The type of wisdom that resonates with me the most is the type that has punctured the bubble countless times, but gotten up again in equal measure, and ultimately learned how to cultivate the delicate touch of awareness that gives the bubble space to wobble and dance.  Dennis Ference is a person who carries this wisdom, and one of the great rewards of setting up virtual shop here has been the discovery of Dennis’ writing.

From the Water's Edge CoverIn his recently published book entitled From the Water’s Edge, I find page after page of insight regarding the truest of human arts: the sustenance of the delicate bubble of peace within.  If you haven’t read Dennis’ writing, I encourage you to visit his blog sooner than later, but also to consider getting a copy of his book.  His blog is great, but for me the book really shines because I can carry it with me to the river, to the city, to the parking lot, to the bus stand, to the stairwell, to the back porch, to the office cubicle, and to the park bench.  The words in the book are surrounded by space, and in their brevity you get a sense of the bounty from which they emerge.  Dennis recognizes that what needs to be said is actually so very little.  The pages—mostly blank—get the proportions just right in my opinion.  The space is an invitation.

In the journey towards unifying the mind and the heart, it helps to have a handy collection of bubble starters.  When we collapse, we need a point of beginning on which to build.  We need a point of entry back into the dance.  I think what Dennis has ultimately provided is an unerring set of beginnings.  It is then up to us to value and nurture that bubble, to protect it and watch it grow.  There’s suggestions from Dennis on that, too, but ultimately the cultivation of that wisdom is what this life is for.  We can’t read our way into this.  We learn the delicate touch of awareness that enables heart and mind to truly join by spending time with that fragile bubble as we walk life’s tightrope.  We learn through life’s unerring guidance how to respond, how to sustain it, how to keep it safe and to help it grow.

Dennis suggests in his introduction that the ultimate value of his words is to trigger a response, and I think he has this right, too, for it is only in giving what is ours to give that we discover what the quiet voice of our heart is really telling us.

Thank you, Dennis, for the light you shine on this path of peace.  It is a joy and a boon to call you friend and brother.

Just Right

comments 47
Course Ideas / Creative

“I feel better.  But I did that thing again, didn’t I, Hafiz?”

“Yes.”

“How come we both know what I’m talking about, but we can’t explain it?”

“The horses giving chase always get mud in their eyes.”

“That was easier than I thought.  But giving chase to what?”

“To whatever you think is over there.”  He waved his hand limply towards the distance, indicating that somewhere along the periphery of my mind there were these mysterious places that harbored fantasies of ambrosia and orchards full of flowers and fruit, but that if we actually went over there all we’d find would be these tumbleweeds and heaps of dust sprinkled with little plastic beads.

“I was happy, you know, munching on whatever it is that grows along the rail, in the infield.”

“And then you saw thirteen stallions whip past like a thundering colossus.”

“Yes.  They were incredible.”

“And then you did that thing again.”

“Yes.”

“You chased after them.”

“Of course.”

“Your eyes filled with mud.”

“Yes.”

“That was a very good thing was it not?”

“I don’t think so, no.”

“Why is that?”

“I could not see a thing, and my eyes burned like they had been put in an oven to cure.  And I hurt all over.  And then the thundering colossus pulled away, and I was alone once again, only blinded temporarily for my trouble.”

“And?”

“And?”

“There’s another thing.  There’s the thing you do, but it always leads to another thing.”

“?”

“Eventually all you have left is your heart.”

“Right.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be feeling better now.  Eventually I fall back into my own breath, and I forget about the thirteen stallions altogether, and I am just what is left, just this tiny seed of peace.  It is very relaxing.  You wouldn’t think a tiny seed of peace could breathe so deeply.”

“But not tiny.”

“Not tiny?”

“If you get too tiny, we’ll have to do this all over again.”

“We will?  Why?”

“Because you are no more tiny than you are colossal.”

“Well I can see I’m not colossal.”

“You’re just right.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you’re identical to the stallions, even though you can’t hardly run once around the track without hemorrhaging and blowing apart.”

“I’m not a great runner.”

“No.”

“But I’m identical to the great runners.”

“Yes.”

“So we’re not horses at all then, are we?”

“No.”

“We just look like them?”

“Of course.  Everything about you is precisely horse-like, except you yourself.”

“That’s what you mean by just right.”

“Yes.”

“I already felt better, but now I feel even more better, Hafiz.  Can we stop here for the day?”

“You feel just right you mean.”

“Yes.”

“Of course.”

This I Know

comments 48
Course Ideas / Reflections

The last few weeks have been challenging for me, and I have felt the awkward stretching that comes sometimes when change is upon us.  There is this desire to be certain of things, to know what lies ahead, to make nothing but informed decisions, and to navigate the consequences with aplomb.  We want to understand the right way to go about things, to think about things– the proper way to perceive, and to know.

Today I walked uncertainly through a stand of trees, then moved to the chair by the window, then reached for a snack, a glass of water, a handful of something salty, walked down the driveway to get the mail, then come back to the window.  All the while I was half-built, half-open, half-shaded, half-suffering, half-teetering.  Eventually though, my gnawing disdain for things I cannot even touch began to feel like an opening.

I wonder sometimes at how few are the voices of uncertainty.  It’s not very attractive, of course, being uncertain.  We become more easily influenced when we’re unsure of ourselves, and yet when we’re too bold or insistent in the act of forging ahead, we miss what is given.  Uncertainty doesn’t sell tickets, or advertising, earn contracts, or influence people.  We avoid it at all costs– it’s not on television, but it’s in us.  It’s right there sometimes.  It’s wearing us around, jabbing us up in the air on the end of its stick.  Even a wetsuit is too far out on the periphery to shield us from what is blooming within.

But now that I’ve seen it, things are okay.

Now that I’ve seen it for what it is, I can work with it.  I can be uncertain, and go for the ride.  Rides end.

I don’t particularly want to retain a few of the things this uncertainty has revealed to me, and I can see that.  I can also see the barriers to letting them go.  In beautiful words given me by a friend, I can see that I am in a struggle with truth.  I’m not lost or off track.  I’m just right at the middle of it.  Down to the point of entanglement, mystery, and superposition.  I’m arm-wrestling with what is glorious and most natural, and hasn’t fully been birthed as of yet.  Truth and I, we want the same things, but some part of me still wants just a little bit more, a little something else.

I want the truth, and

I want to show God my earthly thesis– to come home with something beautiful, not return with a box of dust and an army-man I spray-painted once in second grade.  God doesn’t care of course.  The door is always open.  This is what I mean.  But there are so many confident people who have this figured out, and wouldn’t it make sense that if I had a clue about something– anything– I would be able to sustain that, too.  But just now, my heart has a wobble.

The Earth has a wobble.

My heart has a wobble like the Earth.  It’s a true wobble.  The beauty is in the awareness that I can trust it.

There’s something holy about these encounters with ourselves.  These are the times when the heart and the mind re-order themselves and become smeared into the world so deeply we are suddenly grasping at all three.  We need, sometimes, to be uncertain, so that the new can emerge.  And never am I more confident in the logic of my heart than when I recognize the difficulty in which I have found myself is, in fact, the quickest way through.  Confusion is the answer that grace has brought.  It is the string being pulled out of the knot.

It’s time to take a few more lines out of the resume.  I’m working back to the blank sheet of paper.  Who would I be, if I wasn’t who I’ve been?  At peace, probably.  The only way to find out is to find out.  I feel okay because I know uncertainty is like a little film of color that floats on a deep and abiding knowing.  It seems very massive, but it is more like a mirage.

I’m thirsty because I’m walking through a desert mirage and I believe what I see sometimes, but it is the thirst that will lead me to water.  This I know.

Not That At All…

comments 28
Poetry

The sky in the distance is yellow
because it is saturated
with the living dust
that is emitted by trees,
who I happen to notice
are standing quite silent
on the matter
of this atmospheric discoloration,
as if you can do a thing
little-by-little and it doesn’t count.
But I see you can take a thing too far.

Fresh from my coursework
on the dangers of coffee dust
and grain silos,
I note that with one
ill-timed lightning strike,
an entire arboreal corridor
would detonate.

The heat will be tremendous
albeit of very short duration.

Most of the birds will escape
by surfing on a flying carpet of spreading heat.
The worms near the surface
will be translucent during the flash,
but unharmed, at least initially,
while the deeper ones
will remain cool as cucumbers,
burrowing and chundering away.

There will be crackles and pops,
sparks that zip in loop-to-loops,
incendiary questions begged,
resin and tree bark flying at close to the speed of sound,
acoustic anomalies that sound like trains,
then lots of helicopters.  Cameras.
Footage of a bear running west,
difficult to keep in the frame.
A human survivor will crawl out from
a blanket of aluminum foil to smile and wave.
The bees will buzz and swarm,
and agree with the butterflies:
even a forest can have a misfire
of apoptosis.

I sneezed, shaking myself
from this little reverie.

What do you see, Hafiz?

Not that, he replied.
But what do you say we run the wipers
a time or two?

And give your mind a little rest.

On the Great Marriage

comments 47
Christ / Course Ideas / Reflections

The description I love best is that each of us is an intersection of matter and spirit, the above and below, the eternal and the present, of knowledge and mystery.  I am tired of materialism—so very tired of its laborious absurdities, the dead ends it tries to pretty-over, the delicate faculties of the human being it would all but silence.  Even so, I would not discard logic or rational thought.  I would simply hold them in their proper place.  I would offer them a new beginning, a more expansive starting point on which to build, and partner with whom to play.  I would add unto them the faculties of inner knowing, the resonance of the heart that awakens us, the trust in the unknown that reveals us.

There is something wrong with the notion of self that we have had, but nothing wrong with the notion that we can know who we are.  There is only one Self and we are it, even as we extend from it to embody particular movements of differentiation and expression.  To disavow the power of identity so completely that we become trapped in an ineffectual lingering is merely to keep a circuit closed.  It is a way of hiding.  But to let the self of form and its myopic viewpoint drive us willy-nilly over the landscape, discontented with all it sees, arguing and pushing and nullifying, is to not exist at all.  It is to be a ghost.

Identity is as fluid as beauty is.  Identity has no bounds.  Identity gathers itself for an instant into a loving smile, the reflections of a mountain lake, the plunging of a falcon, the fruiting of a tree.  Identity is forever, and forever just beginning.  We are it.  Over and over.  We are.

The description I love best regarding the current age is that spirit and matter have yet to fully join.  The marriage is incomplete.  We know a little but not a lot.  The marriage must be consummated within our own hearts and minds, and then something new will emerge.  We don’t know what it is.  I can get carried away with ideas, with hints of what could be that I have seen even in this life, but there are those who would scoff and write me off as one of those.  It is better today to rest on the abstract—the feeling of the sun, the softness of rain, the whirl of emotion, the heaviness of despair and the moment it resolves into something you can hold in your hand.  Something with wings and a pulse.  Something that takes flight.  There is no need to say what will be when it is already being.

It’s okay to know things you cannot prove.  Let us not rob each other of this sublime right, this creative necessity.  When two people know something they cannot prove, and they each set it into words that cannot be reconciled, they merely haven’t dug deeply enough into what they know.  They have dug into the soil and hit something hard.  To one it is a field stone.  Look at the wall our ancestors built that borders the property.  To another its a buried trunk.  Debate is no good without digging deeper.

It is just no good discounting what others know.  It is arrogance, which leads to war and poverty.  We are as much invisible as we are visible, as much holy as profane, as much animal as divine.  We can see across time, and bring to bear a great Love upon the moment if we so choose.  If we let the mystery balance the known.  Or we can insist there are limits on what is knowable– on what may be known and who can know it and how.  This is the cause of every poverty.  This insistence.

Reflections on Authenticity

comments 36
Reflections

Authenticity is not unveiled in a swoop of the cape.  That only goes to show the last few days or hours or minutes– whatever the length of time has been since the previous flourish of unveiling– have been inauthentic.  What the flourish reveals is the port of entry to our truth’s harbor.  You enter by submarine.  Your instruments have failed.  The ballast is leaking and the batteries are dead.  The hull is creaking and popping in a very unsettling way, and you settle on the bottom of the harbor on a barge of sand.

(You wait for Hafiz to knock on the air lock!)

Authenticity is what we emerge with.  We need a lifetime to get down to it, and often even the moments of our most uncomfortable vulnerability and of our most passionate honesty are but preludes.  But we can’t know that until we have them.  Without them we would be stuck.  They open the door.

I’m not sure that honesty and authenticity are quite the same, but I think we need a great deal of the former to reveal the latter.  We are not our most authentic when we are chronically lonely, when we are painfully uncertain, when we are angry about a failed relationship or bitter about a recent diagnosis.  We can’t know this until later, though.  I am not saying authenticity cannot peek through at any moment, or even be spurred into revelation by these conditions, but I am saying they are not our most authentic patterns of being.  We have to be honest about this, without shame or blame or denial, in order to make contact with what is authentic within us.  If we want to give it room to grow, we have to give it room to grow.

A day of suspended judgment is a good start.  Then we can be ill and broke and alone and authentic simultaneously.

If what is authentic about us is that we are tarnished, defiled and helpless, then Jesus and the Buddha and many other wise and loving beings have wasted their time.  And I don’t believe that is so.  There may be honesty in admitting we find ourselves in these patterns.  Again.  And again.  But our addictions are not authentic expressions of our given nature.

We can have needs without being perpetually needy.  Our authenticity is a bridge between resource and need.  When we don’t know this we wander impoverished, or we stockpile.

We can fail without being a failure.  Our authenticity is equally revealed in its response to both success and failure, and by that measure cannot differentiate between them.  When we don’t know this we play it safe, hedge our bets, position ourselves strategically, or we fall into the pitfall of taking more credit than is due for the events and conditions of our lives.  By the same means we can succeed without being a success.

We can be honest about our brokenness, and very often this is helpful, but we are not broken so it is important to recognize the gift of the temporary experience of it.  There is some skin to be shed.  Some mask or costume we’re wearing.  Some ideal to which we yet cling.  Something that is not helping.  Authenticity knows how to remove these cloaks, and wash the old wounds gently.

Authenticity knows how to regrow a split tree, to unwind a knot, to mend a heart, to discover a path.  Authenticity knows how to dead-reckon across fields and fields and fields of endless futility, to find the lit house just up ahead.

We can be authentic in our brokenness, and that is in the instant when discover that it need not be.  In discovering this we find we are able to carry the weight of our present.  This is not a show of strength or heroism, but a display of what is true.  Inside of us, in our authenticity, there are legions of possibility and succor.  There are medics, chieftains, informants and counsellors.  There is peace.

Sometimes we use our brokenness as evidence of our failure and compound our difficulty.  But authenticity doesn’t judge.  Authenticity extends a hand.  Authenticity says follow me.  Trust me.  I have done this many times.  Your case is not as special as you think.

When we are authentic we can receive help when it is first needed, rather than when we are forced to submit to a crisis.

When we are authentic we are not telling ourselves how it would be if we were being authentic.  We don’t try to calm seas to prove we have the truth inside us.  We don’t seek for powers or gifts that have not been given.  Nor do we run from the ones that we have.

And when we are inauthentic, it is our honesty that will bring us back.  But it is a special kind of honesty.  It is the kind of honesty that says even though we don’t know how to be authentic, that is okay because we don’t have to know how to be what we already are.  There isn’t really a knowing involved.  We just need to be honest we’ve been living in the dark.  It is the kind of honesty that looks beyond difficulty, keeping the truth in sight.

It is the kind of honesty that refuses to weigh the evidence our pasts have produced against the inevitability of our given nature, but says instead, Yes, these things have been so.  So what.