Presence is the Greatest Love

Early morning, rising to the raindrops falling,
The sky is drumming its beat upon rooftops.

Behind mountains, skyscrapers, and an eastern ocean,
The sun still hides itself: its absence births desire.

I praise the stillness it commands; offer my awareness:
For myself and all beings it tirelessly serves.

There may be no deeper love that I can reciprocate,
Than to be a mirror to the mighty and infinite sun.

I praise the attentiveness it provides, always giving.
It is nothing more than a sun, and can be nothing less.

There may be no deeper respect I can reciprocate,
Than to be a mirror; may I be nothing less.

Beneath mountains, skyscrapers, and oceans within me,
I am hidden, but, absence births desire to reunite.

Early morning, rising to give my Sunday prayers,
The distant drummer’s march signals the king’s arrival.

Look No Further

You are perfection right now. Exactly what you have done, are doing, and will be doing is perfection. Let me be less general, more specific. Are you pleased today? Your answer is exactly what is necessary for you right now. Are you over-working yourself? Tiring yourself out? This couldn’t be better.

You may feel or say, “But, ‘here’ sucks. Where I am right now, is not pleasant.” Strangely, this thought process… is perfect. It all becomes perfect when our concept of “perfection” changes from what is ultimately unattainable to “attainable,” to “this” or “now.” Unattainable is, “I am sick today, but I need to/ should be able to do this…” or “I wish I could…” or “I’m scared that if I don’t…” Whatever that specific phrase is that we use to keep us from accepting this moment, right now, is what is called, “unattainable.” What is attainable is this: your experience right now. Struggle, confusion, joy, bliss, peace, shame. And whatever your experience will be 5 minutes from now, that is attainable.

It is perfect because that is exactly where we have found ourselves. We walk into these moments unconscious of our patterns and habits, like a sleepwalker who awakes to find that they are standing in the middle of the street, a car blaring its horn at them. Your writhing pain and suffering is you, alive and awake. Your bliss and pleasure is you, alive and awake. The belief that you have control of what happens and when/how it will happen is you, walking while you sleep. You can only experience life is you live it, and in that you are merely reacting to your circumstances. And, you will never be able to fully control them. Don’t believe me? Try this: stop thinking for 10 seconds. Take a moment and put every ounce of your being into this act.

You just reacted to your experience.

Whether you really tried to stop thinking for ten seconds (and realized this to be impossible), or whether you disagreed with it and shrugged it off, you just reacted. You didn’t have control of your experience. Your experience was living you more than you were living your experience.

Even before you opened this message you were faced with a choice. You chose to read this note, but only because you reacted to seeing it. Before that was another reaction, preceded by another and another. (Almost like a chemical reaction that goes and goes and goes, essentially never stopping because even when a chemical combination has reached its perceived “ended,” it is still changing form in some way.) So, here we are in life, reacting to reactions of reactions, right?

Well, These all occurred initially as thoughts — some sort of thought arose out of our experience. “I’m idle. I’ll go to Facebook. I’ll click on so and so’s page. I see a picture of someone else. I click on their page.” Yet, here is the empowerment we hold. We have a choice of what we react to, right? Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it, but we almost always have a choice of how to react to our experience, but we don’t have a choice of what the result will be after we react. We can guess and project that it will probably be a certain way, like, “I am feel hunger. If I go to the store I can get yogurt and return home.” And, upon arriving at the store, you see friends, you talk to them, you forget about yogurt, but you leave with toilet paper. How often does this happen?

Okay, “thank you, Captain Obvious,” right? “Thank you for telling me of a mundane example, Martin.” But, the Truth lies in this example: you are not in control, everything is perfect, and at least you have toilet paper.

See, there is nowhere we need to go in order to attain that which we want most in this life: peace and love. I can already hear some of you thinking, “Oh, God…peace and love? Really?” But stick with me. Come on, it’s me, Marty.

Don’t answer this rhetorical question for me, “Why do you do what you do?” Let me try to phrase it to be more specific, “why do you need that perfect career? why do you need to change where you are right now? why do you need to find the One?” The answer driving it, when you find its deepest root is this, “I do it because I want peace.” And, perhaps, “I want love — acceptance.”

We don’t want stuff. We don’t want careers. All the things that we experience in life is an attempt to attain peace, and inner love. We eat ice cream because it makes us happy, and in happiness we are searching for peace. We put ourselves through 20 years of a miserable job to make a lot of money because we are trying to attain some sort of peace of mind. Perhaps we don’t want financial stress in our life. We do what we do because we want peace, and love. Do you not agree?

We are restless beings. Tirelessly searching for peace. Even, “the worst of the worst,” are searching for peace. Adolf Hitler. Can you not argue he was searching for peace within himself through his actions? That in some twisted and dark way, he believed peace could be obtained through the eradication of millions of “impure” people. To him, it was then, and only then, that peace would be felt within the world. But more important, it would be when peace would be felt within himself. This, to him, was nirvana. He committed suicide, using it as an escape from the war that he was caught in — not WWII — the one within. And, can we not relate to this feeling? Maybe not to the degree of turmoil he felt, but to the feeling of searching for the unattainable?

(Now leaving the city limits of Tangent. Population: Martin. Elevation: wtf?)

We are tirelessly searching for peace.
We don’t have to do anything or achieve anything in order to reach peace.
We are perfect.

Tonight, I was awoken by sirens. I wondered whether it was a police chase or just an ambulance. I imagined what it would be like to get in my car and go “find” a police chase in progress, and perhaps I could intentionally crash into the fleeing “criminal’s” car, like I was in some sort of destruction derby. Then I went to the window as the sirens got closer. I heard an engine accelerate, tires spin on the rainy pavement, and saw a truck go by on the next street over. I became confused when I heard the sirens going in another direction, opposite of where I saw the truck go. I thought, is it possible that the truck is a person just like me who decided to go look for the chase in progress? Then I realized, “I can’t join in a police chase, I wouldn’t know who the ‘bad guy’ is. And I might end up chasing after someone who is also looking for the bad guy.” How embarrassing would that be? And what if everyone did that? It would be madness! We would have innocent people driving around chasing each other like maniacs because they think they had found the bad guy.

Madness, but we do this in our everyday life. We don’t need to join a police chase to be part of this madness. We idolize people: celebrities, friends, spiritual figures. We idolize concepts created during our lifetime that express to us what purity is, what love is, what peace is, what a man is, what a woman is. We live our lives according to these concepts that reside in our busy, well-intended minds. We are recklessly chasing after the good guys, thinking they are the bad guys. What if we just stop and watch? Can we find peace in knowing that peace is right here, somewhere within this experience we are living right now? No matter how it may feel.

There is no one to chase after. No one to help stop the madness. No one to stop from creating the turmoil. Just something to watch from our bedroom window as it passes by, bringing a smile to our face at the blissful insanity of life.

Accepting Ourselves

Sure, accepting ourselves is an easy mantra to repeat over and over in any self-help script. But, what the hell does it mean? What does it feel like to accept myself? What does it act like? What does it sound like? These are the real questions that come up when I think of accepting my Self. And, I suppose, until one practices long enough with the intention to accept their Self, they will only be feeling out what it is and isn’t in varying moments.

Something that I experienced that brought my mind to a deeper awareness of what accepting myself is like, came during a conversation with my sister. Simply put, she said, “instead of working so hard trying to accept others, spend that energy accepting your Self.” The thought is profound. In many non-western spiritual lineages the teachings stress the idea that there is no Other, there is only the Self. So, here we go again, accept the SELF. Accept it how it is, rather than wondering why there is such difficulty with how you fit in the world around you.

I have a habit of unknowingly abandoning the Self. Every time that I believe that I am wrong, and fight endlessly with conflict around me, believing I am not accepting others enough, or understanding/loving them enough, I am essentially abandoning my Self. I am saying my needs and feelings are not as important as trying to figure out what ways I can sacrifice my Self in order to meet people half way. The truth is, there is no need to fight myself. I can accept that my beliefs are valid and appropriate based on my own experience. It is a fine line between close-mindedness and protecting the Self. However, in all reality, decisions will always be made.

Living in this modern world, we are slammed up against each other. People share tight spaces at home, at work, and in community areas. It isn’t until we can “escape” to the country, mountains, remote beaches that we can find solitude. In this, we are subjected to others’ ideas about how to live daily. Our boss decides what cubical we sit in or what music is played in the shop. There is a highly refined process we are participating in, and it is always our choice to accept or reject what is in place. It is inevitable — whether it is conscious or unconscious. Certain things are more valuable to us than others. It seems that denying ourselves from what we value only creates more disharmony in our lives. And when we believe that someone else holds the power, or is the source of our suffering, we are denying our Self happiness. How we attain this happiness is not by someone else’s pathway to resolution. It is through compassionate acceptance of ourselves, knowing that we know what is best for us — and that we are the only one responsible for insuring this process to be a healthy, reflective one.