• March 14, 2016

    Yesterday, you asked us if we could “listen to space, not the sounds within space but space itself”. I had no idea what you were talking about but, oddly enough, when I tried to do it, my state underwent a major shift in a way I can’t describe.

    You encountered the abstract. You had an engagement with the formless.

    What do you mean by abstract?

    The abstract is a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object or instance. In common usage, it refers to a concept or idea, something with no specific physical existence like, say, justice. But I am not asking you to indulge in conceptualism, which is already one of your favourite past-times. I am asking you to experience the abstract, the abstract beyond thought, and it seems that you did, at least for a moment.

    Is it possible to experience something that has no existence in time and space?

    Our most important experiences such as feeling, attention and presence, are formless; they do not exist in the ordinary way. They do not occupy time and space. Our work places considerable emphasis on observation of gesture and the extraordinary power of sensation, experiences which do occur in time and space. Factual experience is a necessary anchor for attention and presence. But transformation also requires engagement with the abstract.

    Our habit is to tie the abstract to a specific. We have feeling but the feeling is associated with something or someone. The specific then takes over through the power of attachment and the abstract is lost. The specific is extraordinarily valuable itself and it can also suggest or invoke the abstract. They are not enemies but they are also not the same. A feeling needs no object, no attachment, no reason to exist; in its essence, it is universal. Even more so, the capacity for feeling does not need a specific feeling; the capacity in itself is an extraordinary reality and to experience it is nameless ecstasy.

    Presence is existence without identity. Existence as what? Find out. Is it the miracle of being? And does it not bring with it a quality of joy and an experience of exactness without any exact thing? This is difficult to grasp and even harder to express in thought. I apologize for being obscure. All I can do is point and suggest that you work with this.

    To listen to space is to direct attention to the formless. Does space have sound? If sound is a physical vibration in time and space, space makes no sound we can hear. If space is not an absence but rather an active medium for presence and attention, perhaps space can be heard. One form of hearing is the attention acting through the ears. Another form of hearing is with attention acting directly but with the same quality or setting as listening with the ears. You may find that the abstract is musical, that it vibrates at another level as the music of the spheres.

    Can you see not only what you see but also see that you are seeing? Can attention attend to itself? These are ways to remove the mesmerizing power of the specific for an engagement with the abstract. They are somersaults into the unknown. The universal is embraced and the personal is overturned.

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  • February 6, 2016

    Religion makes sacrifice a big thing.  Is there a benefit in this work from sacrifice?

    Yes, but perhaps not the way it is commonly understood. The original meaning of sacrifice was to slaughter an animal or surrender a possession as an offering to win the support of a supernatural being. I would like to go deeper.

    Can we agree that sacrifice is giving up something that you value? Now, why are you doing this? Most often, is it not a kind of trade? I give up smoking so I can have better health. I give up a friendship to keep another friend I value more. I give up meat so I can be more spiritual. Really speaking, these sacrifices are trades. We are bargaining one thing for another. This is true whenever there is a personal benefit, real or imagined, behind our sacrifice. What’s important first of all is to see this.

    Please understand that I do not think this kind of sacrifice is wrong…we should be willing to pay for the things we want. There is a psychological benefit to personal sacrifice….we are more able to benefit from the things we want if we feel that we have earned them. Sacrifice also paves the way for attention to hold and nurture the fulfillment we seek. Attention energizes and magnetizes our aim, often helping to attract the assistance of others.

    Is there another form of sacrifice? Is it possible to make a sacrifice that has no personal benefit, for a higher aim than the fulfillment of our wants? Perhaps this story will help. A mother took her son to the prophet Mohammed. “He is addicted to dates,” she said, “but he won’t listen to me. Perhaps he will listen to you. Please tell him to stop eating dates,” she asked. “Come back in thirty days.” She came back with her son at the appointed time. “Stop eating dates”, Mohammed said solemnly to the boy. His mother asked: “Why could you not have told him that the first time we came to see you?” “Because I had not yet given up dates,” replied the Prophet.

    Impersonal sacrifice opens up a different set of possibilities. You may gain moral authority where moral authority is needed to accomplish a task. You may obtain greater freedom and increased will to perform your work. You may deepen your capacity for inner experience. Your conscience may be sharpened so as to better guide you. You will almost surely recover some of your attention for deployment elsewhere. You may receive a blessing, an infusion of higher energy.

    Of course, as soon as the aim becomes personal enhancement, sincerity is lost and you are striking a bargain again. You must know yourself, especially the tricks of the ego. Innocence is a great protection. Even more so is love.

    As we mature, we may discover a wish to sacrifice personal wants, including our aims and ambitions. It is enough to be. The less we want, the greater is our capacity to work in this path. Personal needs are an enormous drain on our energy and attention. They sustain identifications and inhibit a deeper experience of life.

    If you wish to wake up, reduce your need for anything else.

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