Satisfaction Guaranteed

comments 26
Poetry

This poem
comes with a
Satisfaction Guarantee.

That’s right.
Here it is, in fact:
Your
Everlasting
Satisfaction
Is Guaranteed.

In case
you’re wondering already–
(you haven’t even
read the poem yet
for Pete’s sake!)–
what type of compensation
you receive should you find
by some law-bending
fluke of nature
that you’re a twinge
dissatisfied
at the end of this,
I’ll tell you that, too.
Anticipating
such a question,
the Beloved has
written the Answer
upon an infinitude of hearts,
some whom are walking around
in broad daylight right now,
none of whom are subject
to the fine print your reluctance
would have them be.
And the questioning,
doubting, cynical,
faithless, shrunken,
know-it-all
mindset
that you invested
into the poem,
well that will be gladly returned.

As a brief aside,
why would you
ever doubt this Guarantee?

Maybe
you think
it’s inconceivable
that someone
like me
could have
that kind of
Authority?

Maybe
you think
the manner
in which this
Guarantee has been given
raises deep questions
about its
Authenticity?

Maybe
you think
I’m no more
than a detestable
provocateur,
and the guarantee
my latest ploy
to capture the limelight?

Maybe
you’ve already forgiven me
for my brazen absurdity,
since you came to the conclusion
long, long ago
that we’re all just
a bunch of
well-intentioned
but weak-minded,
short-lived,
desperate,
wounded,
slightly incapacitated
and very dysfunctional beings
with about as much
likelihood to deliver
on a promise such as this
as a field of pot-smoking
jack-o-lanterns.

Well.
Let’s just give this a try.

One day at dawn
I was walking
through the meadow
with an empty bucket to fetch water
when a charm of gold finches
arose to encircle me in the air
like a delirious cloud of singers.
In the glory of that moment,
I forgot more things than I could possibly tell you.
I think they may have hypnotized me,
and laid me down in the cool grass
and chirped up and down my whole length
and perched on my chest and face and legs
and offered songs unto their sky on my behalf for many hours
and whispered unspeakable delights into my ear.

One thing I do remember.
They said all beings are like
tall blades of grass
standing in the same field,
their roots and stalks interwoven,
their lives given of the same sun.
Each blade is given all the others
to shelter it from the wind,
to share in the ticklish wonder of starlight,
to give vastness a locus of shimmering points,
to remind it of the glory of its existence–
the nature of which, they told me,
is a Presence
perpetually overflowing
from one blade to the next
like a wind rippling through a field,
a Presence, they said,
whose very nature
is Guaranteed.

I really liked that One.
I didn’t even care
that one of them
pecked a button
right off my shirt,
or that another
stole my shoelaces
and flew away with them
to build a nest.

26 Comments

  1. ‘ . . . why would you ever doubt this Guarantee?’

    Perhaps a ‘guarantee’ warrants provision of evidential support beyond the ‘infinitude of hearts’? Whereas a promise, well, a promise leaves a bit of wiggle room (in my experience). And folk do like to wiggle so; even the best of them.

    Monumentally beautiful Michael.

    Hariod.

    P.S. Not trying to be a ‘know-it-all’ – just doing the bidding of the sceptical blade of grass.

    Like

    • Hariod,

      I hemmed and hawed on this one for a while and don’t really know if I got the essential points and feelings into the words this time or not…

      One point that was and remains vitally important to my own path was the instruction-realization that the primordial ground of our being is changeless. This is perhaps the crux of why A Course in Miracles was so helpful to me at the time I latched onto it, because it was so clear about the changing nature of form and what you yourself would describe as the “stream of mentation”, versus our true identity which is changeless and rock solid. In that particular teaching, we are able to find peace by relinquishing identification with the false identity, and reconnecting with the deeper, authentic reality. I can’t hope to explain the totality of the approach found there, in this comment, but I think it is ultimately similar to what you write about on your own site with regards to non-duality.

      The Course goes one clarifying step further than some similar work I’ve seen– (perhaps? I’m not sure that is universally correct)– by noting that because our primal identity is one we all share, a ground of being in which we are joined, everyone we meet is not only an extension of who we are, a brother in Course parlance, but a “savior” in the sense that the removal of our perception of separateness, and of “other”, is the healing correction that allows us to recover our true identity. Our ability to see our brothers and sisters as who they truly are, is to see without falsehood– what might be called ‘right seeing’ in other work. While we fail to do so, other people seem to threaten us, and we experience ourselves as fractured. And as we learn to do so, we recognize in all other people the beauty and truth we seek to know in ourselves, and recover the inner knowing of wholeness.

      So, in this work I was trying to suggest that the true ground of our being is a certainty– it never changes, and it is quite a nice place to be! That is in a sense the Guarantee that is obviously not mine alone to make… And that if a reader doubts who I am, they ultimately doubt the very nature of who they are, too… Since this is what we all are… As to evidence, the evidence is one another, because each of us are extensions of the changeless ground of being. Thus we are each the evidence we seek, and so the walking evidence of the Guarantee…

      To doubt the Guarantee, is to doubt the evidence you see… I don’t know if I captured this well at all, but it was the feeling I was trying to convey.

      Michael

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      • As before in our brief encounters Michael, you again are showing an exceptional generosity towards whatever little thoughts I air; and for this I am truly grateful.

        I am not familiar with ‘A Course in Miracles’, other than having heard it cited many times over the years and in consequence presupposing it to be a theistic doctrine in an orthodox sense i.e. positing a creator God in some sense separated from the world and beings. This conception would not, I think, ally with what you are saying above and so I have had ACIM wrong in my presupposition. [I usually presuppose my presuppositions are wrong in any case! Tricky . . . ]

        Would it be correct to say that the ‘currency’ of ACIM is the relation of beings to one another i.e. our shared authentic identity? This is what I take from the above, though as you say, limited space and all. If so, and whilst comparisons are futile, then perhaps there’s a clear distinction between that and an Advaitist/Buddhistic conception of ‘reality’ [Not that I stand on one ground or the other] That distinction would be that Advaitans and non-dualists more generally would indeed demand ‘provision of evidential support beyond the “infinitude of hearts”?’, as for them, Nondualism does not preclude (heartless), non-beings.

        All that you say in the two closing paragraphs of your comment as regards ‘guarantees’ and ‘evidence’ is well understood and accepted; though again, many thanks.

        With much gratitude and deep respect.

        Hariod.

        Like

        • Hi Hariod,

          My ability to maintain clear distinctions between A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love is becoming increasingly muddled, and the latter has in many ways enhanced my understanding of the former. I only say that so that others who may read this, who may be studying one or the other or both will understand the context of my reply… 🙂

          I think a fundamental objective of ACIM, which was given first, was to enable a person to recover peace. I would say in the simplest possible terms that the idea presented therein is that the suffering mind has misplaced its identity, and believes a fiction. The power of the mind being what it is, the fiction is quite well-developed and internally consistent, except for its starting point, which is false and can never be. Just as pulling the rug out from someone to reveal an empty pit could induce fear, so the Course works carefully to aid the mind in being able to allow the rug to be removed, while coming to realize that spaciousness is what it is. A core teaching of the Course is that separateness is a fundamental misperception, and that our every experience is clouded and distorted by this.

          Living as the mistaken identity, with a mind that is fractured and arrayed against itself, genuine peace is impossible to come by. Fear is the inevitable result of inner conflict. And in the Course, the mind is inevitably conflicted because it has revolted against “reality” by setting up, and trying desperately to make real, its own independent identity/reality. Guilt and fear arise inevitably from the mind’s knowing this to be the case, even if this knowing is subconscious let’s say. The mind is internally conflicted because on the one hand it seeks to make it’s fiction stand up, and be perfect, free, good and eternal as the reality from which it took its license is, and on the other it hates itself bitterly for having committed such an act of treason.

          Peace comes from healing misperception, and forgiving the ways we view self and world. The conflict eases and is eventually eliminated, as the mind releases identity in its own invented self, and returns to its rightful inheritance in the ground of being from which it arose. And the process of doing so described in the Course is quite beautiful– the “translation” of a fearful, antagonistic world into a beautiful, peaceful vision. The scariest realities we see are transformed as we learn to view them from our true nature, rather than through the lens of a false self.

          Getting back to the theism in the Course, the Holy Spirit’s role is to assist in this translation. This is the whisper in the mind and heart that, through our own willingness, helps us reorient our perception. I would say “God” is best understood as changeless, ultimate reality, the ground of being. Terra firma. God doesn’t experience the pain or suffering we do, as it is not within God’s ability to experience anything other than Love, Truth, and wholeness. The Holy Spirit is like a temporary bridge from the reality we have constructed through our misperceptions, and the fundamental ground of our being, which is God. And then we are all “Sons of God”, which is to say we are all extensions of that which God Is. We are thus unique, yet integral to, the fundamental ground of being.

          Now, sorry to ramble here, but I think this is worthwhile territory. I would say that the theistic language in ACIM is a convention. There is nothing to be gained from focusing on whether the Holy Spirit is “real” or not. These are more like aspects of a reality that cannot be placed into words to begin with. In A Course of Love, it says something to the effect that Jesus “created” God the Father as a means of teaching. In other words, Jesus put forth an IDEA consistent with and flowing from the Eternal, that took up residence in the hearts and minds of many. I’m getting perhaps too far afield here, but merely emphasizing that all of these words and concepts are like facets of the one jewel of ultimate reality. In A Course of Love, “God” is described as the relationship of All to All.

          And so to return to the beginning, as beings, we cannot exist except as we arise through relationship with All and thus to one another. There is no such thing as a truly independent being. Even the big kahuna of Christian theism, God, is offered as the relationship that holds and sustains all relationships. Thus, we are all integral to one another, and unity, as opposed to separation, is the field of awareness in which we can uniquely express as beings what arises through our connection to the All of All, which we share.

          In terms of heartless beings, ACIM would suggest there are no truly heartless beings, as a truly heartless being would be TRULY heartless, as in beyond recovery forever and ever Amen. In ACIM perspective, there are only full-hearted beings temporarily wounded, and responding to situations out of fear and pain, or their own perception of being attacked. They are not truly heartless, as the notion is that all beings inevitably relinquish false identification (at some point).

          Too much, I know… 🙂 Thanks for reading if you made it all the way…

          Michael

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      • Hi Michael, [usual extended expressions of gratitude apply] I did indeed ‘make it all the way’ through your comment of course.

        All of that is understood and accepted. What you have written, with the exception of the theistic references which you describe as ‘convention’ / ‘idea’, is really not so different at all from say, much Buddhistic psychology i.e. all good stuff. What ACIM (appears to), describe as ‘fear’, orthodox Buddhism for example, would describe as ‘dukkha’ = ‘un-satisfactoriness’ – an intuitive presentation that comes to any sensitive mind after time, and which may vary from a mild residue of distaste to an intense psychological/existential suffering dependent upon the particular conditioned mind. The Buddhist conception of Nibbana would (it appears), equate to the ACIM expression in which we ‘recover peace’; that is to say, to realize authenticity, but not to effect any ‘becoming’ in some alternate cosmology: ‘heaven’ or such like.

        When you say ‘A core teaching of the Course is that separateness is a fundamental misperception . . .’ I again come back to my question [time: 5.28a.m. para. 3] concerning the anthropic/animal vs. the universal. Does the ACIM doctrine posit that separateness is illusory only in so far as beings are concerned or does it include the inanimate? You seem to indicate the latter when you refer to ‘ . . . forgiving the ways we view self and world.’ If this is so, then it is a doctrine of Nondualism is it not? I see no distinction (ha!).

        Michael, it’s easily done in this medium, but you appear to have miss-read my comment when you say ‘In terms of heartless beings . . .’. This was not my point; I made no reference to any ‘heartless beings’. My point was made so: ‘Nondualism does not preclude (heartless), non-beings.’ That is to say, it incorporates ‘the world’, or the inanimate (‘non-beings’). This was central to my original comment [12th. 11.04a.m.]: ‘Perhaps a ‘guarantee’ warrants provision of evidential support beyond the “infinitude of hearts”?’ The meaning here is that ‘evidential support’ comes when awareness realizes its own nature as to the non-separation of beings AND the world – not simply a fragmented yet deeply empathic connectedness with other being’s ‘hearts’ – lovely though that is of course.

        I think we’re very much on the same ground all along Michael; though it’s good to confirm as much with these splashes and ripples of pixelated ideas.

        With love, Hariod.

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        • Hariod,

          Yes, what lovely ground we stand upon… 🙂

          I think the Course is indeed a doctrine of non-dualism, and while some may make an effort to champion it as in some ways unique, I don’t feel qualified at present to clearly enunciate any paramount distinctions. I would say the Course describes any form, whether animate or inanimate, as illusory. The ground of being from which all forms arise has no form or dimension, and the correction to perception it proposes is the shift in identification from one’s bodily form, to the ground of being from which one arises, although I have here strayed a bit from its core terminology.

          I’m tracking with you completely on your description of fragmented but empathic beings, whose fragmentation despite their open-heartedness maintains an identification with illusory foundations. Also, yes, unity is with all creation, and brooks no distinction in that regard between one class of form and another. All arise from unity. All are in a sense illusory, with perhaps the possibility of a very real in-dwelling of one’s “True Self” through one’s “personal self”.

          A Course of Love takes the efforts to move beyond ego that are begun in ACIM a bit further, I believe in part in an effort to correct the notion that sometimes develops in non-dual teachings, and which you have addressed in your own writing– an attitude that “this is all illusion anyway, so it doesn’t matter” which can ultimately maintain a rift between one’s immediate experience and the being they espouse to become or be. We can become “selfless”, beingness drifting around but not expressing the Truth within. Such beingness without free expression is kind of like being a lame duck human– just waiting to depart this world so one can really get on with it. A Course in Love emphasizes the opportunity to unify one’s unique expression of wholeness with the “personal self” of form, in essence fulfilling the marriage of the divine and the human aspects of our being… right now.

          I don’t know if this may be an “extra supposition” not contained within basic non-dual teachings or not.

          In loving overload, 🙂
          Michael

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      • Great stuff Michael; I’ve enjoyed the exchange with you and derived some clarity as to your philosophical ‘lineage’ so to speak, and which, I’m guessing, is shared with some other commenters here – your sisters and brothers whose names are becoming familiar to me as I find my feet in this new land. [My blog is now just 10 weeks in existence]

        Your closing refers to ‘basic non-dual teachings’. This suggests to me the Neo-Advaita craze which, thankfully, is burning itself out as far as I can tell, leaving plenty of charred fingers along the way. Classical Advaita is indeed worthy of the designation ‘teachings’, and wherein morality and practices of mental culture are deemed essential to actualizing the pinnacle of the philosophy.

        My apologies for having taken up so much comment space on this occasion, and for any irritation caused to your sisters and brothers here Michael.

        With love, Hariod.

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        • No apologies required, Hariod. I have enjoyed the exchange immensely. And regarding the family that has gathered here, I think in reflecting on your words that much to my delight the webs are being woven by spiders of all sorts and types, which is a richer response than I could have ever expected when I began this blogging journey…

          From a spot of tumultuous peace and placid bother-
          (You probably didn’t watch the World Cup Final, then?) 🙂
          Michael

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  2. Hi Michael,
    Well, you were right, I am satisified. It’s just as well because the fine print of my birth contract tells me there’s a no refund, no return policy and a deal’s a deal. I still said yes and showed up.

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of a late 60’s song by Eric Burden called Spill the Wine.

    Love,
    Debra

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    • Love it, Debra! No refunds is right. Who would we call!?

      I found a video of that song, and heard him singing about laying down in a field of grass… Enjoyed it thoroughly… A revelation… 🙂

      Michael

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      • Dear Michael,
        Your poems are much more revelatory to me. But, the feel of the song, dare I say it, the trippy feel mirrors a feeling I sometimes get reading your poems.
        Glad you enjoyed it!
        Debra

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  3. Return policies, getting extended warranties and service plans based on the number of uses and amount of miles lived, OR just understanding the fundamental underlying I LOVE IT guarantee! I like thinking about the roots being the place of the directly unobservable, yet still completely real place of interconnection that feeds the external nests (well that and shoelaces 🙂 ). Excellent to chew over. -x.M

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    • Thanks, M. I often think about the unobservables giving rise to the observables, too. I am increasingly aware of the “completely real” nature of that place, and it is such a boon to the experience within the waking dream. Thanks for the lovely echo…

      Michael

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  4. I know EXACTLY what you mean, although I heard it in the humming of a Tibetan bowl, held by a French healer recently returned from a rejuvenating and grounding trip to her guru in India. The message of love came as the sound of synchronistically harmonized bees gently tickling my scalp and then reaching deeper into my head, only to then lightning towards my heart, exploding its poorly-fashioned supposedly protective shell into a million pieces and releasing a fountain of tears, bubble of laughs, and waves of connected joy in me. Of course, I will deny any such thing was revealed to me lest it somehow end up putting me in the nut house. So here I am out with all the other divinely touched ones, only tangentially revealing that eternal sweetness and electric peace with a glance or nod here or there. Mum’s the word!
    Vincent

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    • Thanks for the glance and the wink, Vincent! Sounds like a really great healing experience, no pun intended. Sound can be such an amazing carrier of emotion and feeling, can’t it? I like to think of the overtones created by the sounds we hear and feel that progress into the “silent octaves” of the heart, far beyond the audible range, but crystal clear to the essence of our being. I think you were bathing in them!

      Michael

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  5. Guaranteed to occupy a Sunday morning with thoughts of how beautiful a life can be when a charm of gold finches
    arose to encircle me in the air
    like a delirious cloud of singers.

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    • Thank you, John. That has been my experience of awakening in the morning the past few days– emerging from darkness, before the eyes have even opened, into a swirling field of song. They are quite rambunctious these days, beautifully so.

      Michael

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  6. I feel so happy, in the grassy field, when I turn my attention on the connecting roots that link me here to your (to borrow from Debra) Trippy root cellar – Or is it a dark, merry tavern. You know, you are such a drunkard, anymore, M !
    “Drunk on the Wine of the Beloved”

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    • Yes, M, I have been hitting the Beloved’s Bottle! Such cool, clear waters… Nurturing the roots of all… I have, perhaps, lost my way a bit here… I blame the moon.

      Michael

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  7. Well, Michael, when you’re “Drunk on the Beloved’s bottle” and “blaming the moon” you sure do strike a chord! 🙂

    I really enjoyed that I could FEEL your joy as I read your words. This poem seemed especially joyful, playful, wonder-ful and my heart was most certainly warmed by reading it and feeling the passion and intention found in the spaces between.

    Love and gratitude for sharing your gifts!
    Amanda

    Like

    • What a lovely response, Amanda. After posting this I actually felt sort of off-kilter. It was like a piece on which I had almost tried too hard, and fretted too long, and toyed and pushed and prodded but couldn’t get something out of myself and into it. I had re-read it so many times it felt wooden. So, I am happy to know you experienced as you wrote above. It just kind of goes to show how difficult it can be sometimes to make sense of one’s own experience. In the end it’s not so much about whether it was good or not, but about whether something that took up residence in me for a moment, found it’s way to you, and it seems as though it has. Miracles never cease… 🙂

      I have been reflecting on your rabbit reflections, BTW, about rabbit as initiator. I haven’t quite put together concrete thoughts, but that rabbit has been dashing around. It’s been taking me in circles I think, under the full moon, through meadow and field and mountain and vale and back to the start again… Initiating me into another layer of the onion of now…

      Michael

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  8. What a gorgeous experience you shared with us so gloriousl! Thinking of writing a poem like this is beyond the veil. The joy is palpable and conveyed with such apparent ease in a natural progression of thought and feeling.

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    • I’m so glad it spoke to you, Ellen! I think we each have a unique way of introducing the ineffable to one another, and it is so great when we witness “it” in one another. Your poems are beautifully spun and much admired… We take them all, every heartfelt outpouring, and mix them together to create a glue to pour into the cracks in the world… 🙂

      Michael

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