Saturday, April 24, 2021

Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge, Ko'olau Ridgeline, Kamananui Trail Summit, HI, March 2019, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

Living on the Edge

What if Reality is that we are living on the edge?  The edge of what?
Right on the edge of an epic cliff, the pinnacle of a mythic mountain,
Or perhaps the mysterious precipice of the Here and Now
Looking over the edge, we cannot even see the bottom
It’s occluded by the clouded thinking of our minds

Can you sense that, in your body?  Yeah, I'm feeling a little vertigo, a little bit woozy
Exactly.  That’s what I’m talking about.  You’re tuning into it.
Your body knows something that your mind has chosen to ignore
Or is simply unwilling to recognize or acknowledge or process
And this is difficult to capture in words -- you have to feel your way

Indeed, language is both a pathway and a boundary between us.  Say what?
Life is always about the whole of it … the totality and nothing … that is, No Thing
So that’s a little taste of Living on the Edge … a reframing of you ... if you will
It requires a bit of a shift from your rational mind toward your intuitive sense
But try not to get lost in the language; words are just a pointer, they’re not the point

Tell me, when did Creation occur?  Uhh,  I don’t know … about 14 billion years ago?
That’s just the Big Bang; I’m asking about Creation itself
Isn’t Creation happening this very moment?  Indeed, only in this moment?
In fact, isn't that knife-edge precipice the very place where Life lives us?
The exhilaration of birthing this very universe, in the eternal Now

You are both an insignificant speck of stardust and a magical note in this universal symphony 
Without you, this world would not exist … think about that … or rather, feel that and be that
Look deeply enough at anything in Nature and you will see it shimmer with Life’s creative energy
You are that very same creative energy … that inexhaustible, infinite potential
It’s coursing through your veins and thriving in the trillions of cells that constitute your body-mind

That creative energy is pumping every heartbeat, which races faster as you inch closer to that edge
Don’t worry!  You cannot fall from this edge, but you can leap, and if you’re willing, soar
Above the clouds of us vs. them, of right and wrong, of judgment and even preference itself
Every present moment of awareness opens up new pathways into fresh insights
Loosening the grip of old habits and patterned reactivity, while healing inner wounds

Isn’t this the place you’d want to live, every day, every moment?  Yeah, I think so
Trust me, thinking won’t get you there … indeed, simply let the mind quiet into stillness and peace
Sit with me, won’t you?  Right Here, Right Now.  Sure, why not ... I'd love to
Let us weave ourselves together into the emerging tapestry of this very moment

Words are not required.  Let’s just feel our hearts beating together, as one.  Can you feel that?  Oh Yes!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Presentation of Your Mind


Java Sparrows or "Birds?", Kailua, HI, January 2019, Nikon D600, FX 28-300mm
 VR lens, 300mm,1/60 sec @ f5.6, ISO 400, -1.67 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp

The Presentation of Your Mind

Your mind is a tricky thing

Making you believe things to be true

Even when they make no sense at all

Perhaps you’ve realized that by now

Like that mysterious work presentation

You are due to give later this week

Yet you haven’t even studied the topic

While you reassure your boss you’re ready

But there are glimpses of the awakening truth

You even say to yourself, “It’s not really due”

And so you relax, smile, and return to your slumber

Only to find an audience waiting in your dreamworld

Ha-ha, as if dreams were your only trickster

Truth be told, your waking world is too clever by half

For when we glance at that yellow oleander in the garden

Shimmering in the setting sun after a light rainfall

All that our mind tells us we see is a “tree”

But it is most certainly not that; if anything,

It’s a dance of light, a mesmerizing joy,

A singing bowl of birds, and aptly named “Be-Still”

We’re fortunate though, since we stand on shoulders that tell us

About left and right cerebral hemispheres, and the corpus callosum,

Connecting nerve fibers, that permit and inhibit transmissions

It is evolution that has brought about this draw-bridge in our mind

To keep us alive, at least long enough to continue our

Ancestral lineage, indeed, because we are so quick to judge

But if we are really lucky, we feel some strange pull ... an intuition

To look deeper, beyond features and categories and groups

We recognize the tug to understand something more

Beyond the reductionist, so-called, material world

We can catch glimpses of aliveness itself, that effervescence

Always bubbling up, in, through, and all around

Things are not the labels we ascribe to them, nor are people

Indeed nothing exists that can be studied in isolation

Everything is truly interdependent and arising …

Fresh and new, in this very moment, if we will only truly see

How can it be we see the multiplicity and yet

Somehow we can also glimpse the wholeness of life?

See the totality unfolding in this precious moment

As morning dawns and its singing bowl reverberates

What a gift to see each moment with fresh eyes

With that child-like wonder and utter astonishment

Every sense can come alive in this very moment

An open heart, welcoming Life, that’s living you


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Seeing Through the Veil


Seeing Through the Veil, Honolulu Museum of Art (unknown pieces of art in storage), Honolulu, HI, December 2016,
Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
160mm,1/15 sec @ f5.6, ISO 1000, -0.67 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp

This morning I was sitting at my desk, listening to the multitude of birds that begin their singing at the crack of dawn.  I'm not complaining ;-)   They all have different songs, and songs within songs, even discordant clicks and cackles, perhaps warning of this human illuminating their space so early.

One of the birds we are blessed with is the White-Rumped Shama, a local visitor that we've coaxed into singing, and a virtuoso performance I observed while hiking elsewhere on Oahu.   These formerly Asian song birds were brought here to be caged in local gardens.  Eventually released into the wild in the late 1930s, they now bless us daily with their melodic songs as they seem to celebrate their freedom.  Anyways, something about the immersion in this avian chorus, and the glistening dew that emerged after sunrise, brought me into another way of being.  Bubbling up in my head were the words "it seems as if" and the recognition that how we usually perceive the world is not "reality," which became "but it is not."

And in this case, on this morning, that led to the emergence of these words.  I hope they are as interesting for you to read and perhaps ponder, as they were for me to write (and edit and tweak and tweak some more) until they captured the essence of the unfolding flow.  

Oh, and about the photo above, which I picked from my photo library based on my first draft of these words.  This was from a trip with an "insider" to the Honolulu Museum of Art, and while my wife and our friend were roaming through the art displays, I was roaming far and wide with my camera.  And I stumbled upon a location where various pieces of art had been collected together and covered with plastic (perhaps it was "out with the old, in with the new").  Anyways, when I saw this photo, the words "seeing through the veil" came too me as this Buddha is meditating with his iPhone behind plastic, or so it appears.  Haha, somehow, it seemed appropriate, and prompted yet more revisions ;-)

                Seeing Through the Veil

           (It Seems As If … But It Is Not)

It seems as if … 

You were born into this world

To learn and to love and to live your life 

With various struggles and occasional triumphs

With the only guaranteed certainty of life, being death

… But it is not

It seems as if … 

You are a unique individual, with a name, and a face

And tell-tale characteristics, as different from me as from

The White-Rumped Shama's melodic birdsong at dawn 

And this morning’s cool glistening dew just after sunrise

… But it is not

It seems as if … 

You find comfort and control in categorizing and dividing up the world

Preferring, labeling, judging, or prejudicing your "sense"

Of friend or foe, right or wrong, saint or sinner

And good or bad (or maybe even evil)

… But it is not

It seems as if …

You are searching for that great insight; that "aha" moment

On a path, perhaps, to find some spiritual truth, or at least some inner-resonance

Seeking God or Nirvana or Enlightenment, or maybe just a respite from your own mind

To bring you inner peace, compassion and joy

… But it is not

But what if …

You and your life were much simpler than all of that?

What if ... you already are enough, exactly as you are now, and always have been?

What if ... you and me and everything, including that melodic birdsong, are simply one?

One what, you may ask ... one thing?    No.    No  thing.    Nothing.

Quite simply:  "Just This" ... Life, emerging, creating, flowing, dancing, loving, smiling

And what if …

Words are fundamentally inadequate to express this interdependent totality?

What if ... duality is but an illusion, no subject or object existing in isolation?

What if ... there is NoThing for the self to examine, because the whole is always emerging?

What if ... the “10,000 Things” are illusory, for there are “not two” nor is there even “one”?

But even this it is not 

        ... it is so, so much simpler (and mysterious and amazing)

                … it is what it is 

                        ... not you or me 

                                ... just dancing, behind the veil

                                        ... now, eternally now 

                                                ... within the flow

                                                        ... ahhh, resting, breathing, smiling arises

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

After the Deluge ... Without Condition

After the Deluge, Kailua, HI, March 2021, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

Last night and into this morning we had torrential rains fall.  Indeed, I was awakened by the noise at 1:30 AM, and could not get back to sleep.  So I got up and did some reading on the sofa, hoping to fall asleep (no luck).  

The rains continued into the morning, and first-world-problem-I-know, we had our Yoga class cancelled 🤣.  And still the rains came.  Finally, the intensity diminished, and I put on a raincoat and went out for a walk.  And lookee what I found at our normally completely dry "grotto" near where we live.  So the rains were not all bad, eh?

Anyways, after this experience, and related to some non-dual spiritual reading I was doing, I wrote whatever this is ... enjoy (or not ;-)

            Without Condition

Unconditional, that is, without condition
No legalese to sign
No ifs, ands, or buts
Whatever is … is … just as it is

And so can be your acceptance of it
Unless of course you have preferences (and who doesn’t)
Now you are comparing “what is” to what you desire
And my guess is most of us would choose our desires over what is right here, right now

But here’s the revelation, and a radical proposition
There is another way
We can instead “desire” what is happening in the present moment
After all, that’s really just “desiring” Life as it is unfolding

And what would that be like to desire Life exactly as it is?
Without condition?
Well, it would be a complete “allowing” and “acceptance” and yes,
even profound “gratitude” for just what is, right now, in this moment

And the next moment … and the next
Then you are desiring Life exactly as it unfolds
Without trying to make it different
Without trying to change anything

Ahhhhhh, such a sigh of relief
All that is needed is your awareness
And acceptance of this mystery while
Being awed by the resplendency of Life

And then what becomes apparent
Is that this is, in fact, Unconditional Love
For the present moment 
For circumstances and people (and even yourself) just as they are

No need for anyone to change
For anything to change
Make no doubt about it, though, things are going to change
In every moment — that is the Reality and Truth that is Life

And now Life will be directly influenced 
by your Open Awareness,
by your Gratitude and Acceptance
... Without Condition

Imagine how you would respond to someone who met you
with that much openness to this Mystery of Life
with Simple … Unconditional … Joy
What have you got to lose?  Only your suffering.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Your Invitation

Soulmate or Solemate?, Kailua, HI, April 2020, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 135mm,
1/160 sec @ f10, ISO 200, -0.33 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Your Invitation

Are you frustrated with your life?
Asking why this befalls you or that keeps on happening?
Wishing some pain would just go away?
Wondering why you feel so tired or trapped by despair?

You could take up arms!  Cinch tight your armor!
Spend every free moment devising the master battle plan!
Envision the vanquishing of your archest enemy!
Surely then, with your foot upon his neck, the sun will shine brightly!

Funny thing about life.  The sun is always shining brightly.
It’s just that some days clouds bless the earth with rain.
Each night, if we look up, distant stars will twinkle.
And we may glimpse the infinite vastness of life unfolding.

So let us recalibrate our thinking. Judge not each day,
By the harvest that you reap, but by the seeds that you sow.
That’s the measure of control you have with life.  
Then, if conditions are favorable, life will be bountiful.

But when conditions leave the ground dry and barren, 
As life surely will from time to time, you have
Only two choices:  1) Acceptance;  2) Acceptance, 
While you till the soil and water by hand.

The truth about life is that we are not in control 
Of the whole of it.  But we can influence our role in it.
We can check our motivations, reset our expectations.
See that it is our actions that count, and not our wishes.

This is the good news.  Everything you can control is 
before you and inside you.  Before your ego is hurt or stroked.
Inside the heart and soul of your very Being.  Go There.
To that place of Knowing.  A subtle Opening.  That’s your Invitation.

Note, this post was inspired by a quote I read this morning, and you'll find my 
close approximation of his words above:

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1094), Essayist, Poet, Novelist

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ripples of Light


Ripples of Light, Lanikai Beach, HI, May 2020, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

Take a moment to watch the video above, it’s less than 2 minutes long

This video gives you a glimpse
of how the Earth and its Oceans and Islands are made
Indeed, how the Cosmos itself was formed
And what makes up the some-body each of us think we are

And what do you see?
Ripples of Light - on the surface
Vibrations of Waves - on the ocean
Undulations of Quanta - on the sandy bottom

It also gives you a glimpse, and a metaphor, if you will
for the interplay of the Cosmos and of Life itself
The manifest dynamic pattern is an unfathomable Wholeness
And no part can be isolated for ease of analysis or exploitation

This is the Wisdom we need at this time — Right Now
To recognize and explicitly value our dependance on this One Earth
And to see our neighbor, and even our so-called enemy, as ourself
Made of the same stuff, we are kith and kin; we're all in this together

There is more, of course, once you begin to see these Ripples of Light
You start noticing them everywhere ... Seeing the shadow dances
Feeling your subtle body sensations as they come and go, 
Watch them simply arise and then pass; this is the Life process itself

All of this is impermanent, is transitory, except, perhaps, 
the awareness that is aware of these “sense”-sations
Science has yet to find the ultimate building blocks of Nature
But many before us have lit candles in this darkness

The common instruction of this exploration is to look within
Hold that candle of awareness, and look deeply into all
that you might think “you” are, and see, that you are not that
No unchanging “self” can be found; nothing fixed anywhere

It may seem unsettling at first, but actually it is such a relief
To be able to drop one’s opinions and beliefs, and replace them 
with curiosity and awe and not-knowing — it’s so liberating
to simply live Life, as it Unfolds, in this Moment, Here and Now

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Of Magic and Miracles


We Come in Peace, Kailua, HI, September 2020, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

Of Magic and Miracles

Surely it is Magical,

if by magical you mean 

unknown to science and 

the rational (wo)man

You have seen with eyes

that intuit the Whole, where others

see only the little bits and pieces

Magic and Miracles abide in Wholeness

We are bathed in a cultural paradigm of 

reductionism:  If, Then, Goto, Else, Loop

A causes B causes C, ad nauseam

But this is not the language of Life

In Reality's mother tongue, the Whole 

really is greater than the sum of its parts

And Wholeness must be seen

from a (w)ho(l)ly different vantage point

Jesus told us that the Kingdom of 

Heaven is within each of us!  You, me,

saint and sinner … put down your stones,

and abide in Peace, Love, and Joy

Even during these painful times and

personal hardships we can know this Truth

If only we look deeply within, and see

the Miracle of our in-ter-dependence

So Love deeply, and lift up our brothers and sisters

For that is how we’ll find our better Angels

Know that every birth is Sacred and Miraculous

Feel deeply, for there is no music like Soul music

You have heard that no (wo)man is an island, 

So then, let us not ask for whom the bell tolls

The(e) real Magic is that we are all in this Together

And our Salvation begins with(in) (W)hol(i/e)ness

Saturday, December 05, 2020

On Fearlessness


Trick or Treat?, Lanikai, HI, October 2020, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

On Fearlessness

You, my friend, are fearless

And if you think otherwise, please,

Please, know that you can be fearless, 

Just as you are, right now

How so?  Simply this:  Understand that fear

Only exists in the past or the future

You know that from your own experience

Don’t believe me?  Please think, my friend

Think back to a time when you were

Exposed to grave physical danger

Do you remember how, it seemed,

That time, itself, slowed down?

That was you, living fully in the present moment

Remember?  There was no danger or fear; only

Whatever action was needed in the moment

This is the power of being fully present

And so, my friend, please free your mind 

From its shackles of the past and the future

Abide in the timeless, eternal Now, and know

This is where Peace and Love reside

Go there often, my friend, 

Return again and again,

Be that which is your true nature 

And become fearlessness itself

Friday, September 18, 2020

Don't Just Be Yourself ... Just Be

Morning Flower Sermon, Lanikai, HI, September 2020, iPhone 11 Pro © Steven Crisp

The common advice when one is uptight or troubled is to “just be yourself” as if that will relax you and let you breathe more easily. 

But while that may be better than being anxious or fearful, is not enough. Still you have yourself — your ego — and that requires defending, stroking, placating, and the like. 

So the real step to take is to Just Be!  Dis-identify with that self that needs protection. That self is itself a contraction of being. You can even feel that contraction in your body if you become still, quiet, and aware. 

Just Be that which is present in this moment, or as Ram Dass so wisely titled his first book, just Be Here Now. 

So rather than just being yourself, try freeing yourself so that you can Just Be

After all, what you call the self is not a solid, well-defined, static thing. If the self is anything more than just a label, it is a dynamic, ever changing, process of being. The flux and flow of Life itself. 

You understand this intellectually — cells constantly dying and dividing, new experiences being processed and becoming part of your identify, even gut microbiome being changed based on the food you eat and affecting your health, etc., etc.

Absolutely everything you believe is your “self” is changing continuously. It's impermanent. That is what Life is. 

Come to know that fact intellectually and experientially, and you will have unlocked a precious treasure.  The ability to allow yourself to simply Be.  Recognize that you already are part of Life itself, an ever unfolding part of the Cosmos.  You are not looking at Nature, you Are Nature.  

Nature does not worry about its past or project what might be its future.  Nature simply flows, based on the deep interconnection with all that Is.  Indeed, it is that Is-ness, or Such-ness that constitutes your true Being.

There is a so-called Flower Sermon, given by the Buddha to his monastics and visiting lay-people.  It is captured in a famous Buddhist Sutra, and has been interpreted by Thich Nhat Hahn, in the book Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (available for free).

In the Sutra, at the beginning of his anticipated dharma talk, the Buddha (Guatama) held up a single flower in his hand, and remained silent for a long time.  One of his disciples, Mahakassapa smiled and received the direct transmission of wisdom of this teaching, as interpreted below:

“The Buddha began to speak. “Friends, this flower is a wondrous reality. As I hold the flower before you, you all have a chance to experience it. Making contact with a flower is to make contact with a wondrous reality. It is making contact with life itself. 
“Mahakassapa smiled before anyone else because he was able to make contact with the flower. As long as obstacles remain in your minds, you will not be able to make contact with the flower. Some of you asked yourselves, ‘Why is Gautama holding that flower up? What is the meaning of his gesture?’ If your minds are occupied with such thoughts, you cannot truly experience the flower.
“Friends, being lost in thoughts is one of the things that prevents us from making true contact with life. If you are ruled by worry, frustration, anxiety, anger, or jealousy, you will lose the chance to make real contact with all the wonders of life.
“Friends, the lotus in my hand is only real to those of you who dwell mindfully in the present moment. If you do not return to the present moment, the flower does not truly exist. There are people who can pass through a forest of sandalwood trees without ever really seeing one tree.  Life is filled with suffering, but it also contains many wonders.  Be aware in order to see both the suffering and the wonders in life.
“Being in touch with suffering does not mean to become lost in it.  Being in touch with the wonders of life does not mean to lose ourselves in them either.  Being in touch is to truly encounter life, to see it deeply.  If we directly encounter life, we will understand its interdependent and impermanent nature.  Thanks to that, we will no longer lose ourselves in desire, anger, and craving.  We will dwell in freedom and liberation."
Excerpt From: Thich Nhat Hanh. “Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha.” 

And that is the intended purpose of the flower photo above.  Open your eyes and try to see all of Nature just as it is, part of the "wondrous reality" that is Life itself.  And Just Be a part of that wondrous reality!  No words are needed; no words can really describe it.