Happy Birthday to Me!
Usually or sometimes I do a self portrait around my birthday. This is me this year. I think it stands in for me pretty well as a kind of an indication of what life is like for me right now. I’m on the road, I’m home, and I am happy as f*ck.
My birthday present to myself this year is to write every day. Maybe next year I can give myself a copy of my book.
You, too, if you want.
I don’t know how many more daily practices I can fit into my life. Sitting meditation, reading and contemplating the dharma, yoga, eating, sleeping, fixing stuff in the Airstream, making sure my wife feels loved and supported, and hours already dedicated to shiftlessness make my life pretty dang full already. But I’m decided on this writing thing and things will just have to make room.
What I like about my spiritual work lately is that I’m off on my own, wandering in the wilderness, without much guidance from my teachers. Everything is becoming my own now. Deeply personal and rich and also totally impersonal and rich. I’m not seeking. I’m exploring. A different thing. Not looking for anything, but looking at everything.
All of this work has turned me kind of inside out. The outside world is my inner world. I am that. I feel a bit like a hinge that swings, now inside looking out, now outside looking in, but nowhere to be found. The inner world is vast and limitless just like the outer world. Both are illusory, yet both manifest without ceasing.
Practice gets strange, then it gets normal, then it gets stranger, then it gets normaler. I do the same.
I’m not where I once was, I can say that with some authority. I am a practitioner. Practice is the vehicle through which I move in the world- both outer and inner. And, yeah, I know- there’s not really a difference. I love having this lens through which to view things- it reliably brings whatever I’m looking at into crisp focus. Not always a comfortable experience, but a good and necessary one if I aim to stop making the same old mistakes.
Love. Love. Love. Love.
I have always valued love over all things and yet this path shows me again and again that I have too small a heart still, that my idea of love is too constricting, too limiting, too impoverished.
So I seek to grow it bigger. I love everyone I know and I long to love everyone I don’t know. I send love out in endless waves to the most infinite reaches of the cosmos- the known and the unknown alike. I send love to the hell realms and to the god realms, to the animal realms and the human realms. I send it to those imprisoned, to those tortured, to those who imprison and torture. I send it to the living and the dead. To the dying and to those attending the dying. To the cells in my body, to the living creatures inhabiting my biome, the teeming bacteria in my gut, the things that live on my skin, my organs and my bones, my shit and my piss and my sweat. Yours, too. I send love out without ceasing, and yet I know I’m only touching the shimmering edge of love itself. I long to be only a conduit for love itself and I’m happy to do my small part in trying to make that real.
My experience is that loving like this is a beautiful work. It provides so much more than it asks and it seems to do no harm.
You know, it seems that it’s easy to overlook in our spiritual seeking what’s really being asked of us. I know that what I brought to the path was the desire for my own suffering to be ameliorated, and to be blessed with love and understanding from whatever was making things happen- God, or the senseless churning of a deterministic, accidental cosmos, or my own enlightened nature, or what. And to get these boons I was willing to work hard, to dig deep, to truly change.
And that’s a good first step. Vital. Necessary.
But insufficient in itself.
I think that we’re being asked to become that source ourselves. I think that’s the change that is being asked for. Become Buddha. Become Christ. Not aspire to it, not have that as our inspiration, not to be Christ-like, or Buddha-like, but to become our own fully divine nature.
What’s that look like?
What if you decided to become that? It would mean that you would jettison your small self completely- your small self cannot make that journey. Your small selfish concerns would be left behind. Your fear. Your small-heartedness. Your desire to be taken care of. Your desire to be attended to. Your desire to be numb. Your desire to be special. You would peel this small self off and let it fall to the floor and stand naked until your absolute nature could reveal itself.
Maybe it is impossible to become Buddha. Maybe it is impossible to become Christ. But it is entirely possible to try to do this in all earnestness. To long for, not your own happiness, but for the happiness of all the living beings in every world and universe. To feel responsible for them, to love them, all of them, each of them, every one of them, as if they were your own precious child. To be willing to die for them. To hold them in your heart and to ask nothing of them in return.
Not to be a better person, a more spiritual person, but to be the whole being you truly are- one who loves, one who shines light into the void, one who is willing to give everything to everything that is and to hold nothing for oneself.
I think probably I am not a very good example of how to go about doing things. I tend to go to the extreme. Maybe it’s better to aim at just being a good person and leave it go at that.
Thank you for reading here, as always. I’m glad of your company.