Climate Change and International Security

This leaked Pentagon report made the news in the UK, at least. God knows what our own press was talking about at the time, but I don’t remember anyone broadcasting the fact that the Pentagon was warning that climate change is a far greater threat than terrorists, as it may cause nuclear buildups and nuclear war as more nations try to protect their resources. They also warn that Britain’s climate might become "Siberian" by 2020.

When I posted my entry on The Day after Tomorrow, I was shocked to find that prominent scientists were predicting scenarios not that far from the film. Now the Department of Defense is believes the same thing, with an administration that insists global warming is no more real than Santa Claus. God, help us.

Thanks to Derek K. Miller for posting it on his blog.

Freedom from Want

It’s occurred to me how much noise there is in most spiritual websites, spiritual books, and so forth. (And this one is one of the worst!) That’s because most writers, like me, try to use concepts to get beyond the concepts. We blather about this tradition and that tradition, this Scripture and that Scripture, this teacher and that, this experience and that. In addition, this blog is the "online journal" variety, sharing my downs as well as my ups.

But since the little revelation I had Sunday night, I see that the noise itself is the silence, that "samsara is nirvana." It’s hard to describe—I see garbage by the curb, and it seems as beautiful as a painting in a museum, although I still have the urge to pick it up (or wish someone else would!).

I can only laugh at the energy and time I’ve invested in spiritual "seeking." What is there to seek, when God is in everything you are, everything you see, touch, smell, and hear? Why do we seek the return of the Lord, when he said "I am with you always"?

Just renounce wanting, having, needing. Live your life, meet your responsibilities, do what’s appropriate to do, and don’t resent or resist unpleasant things, or crave or try to hold onto the pleasant circumstances. A roller coaster has ups and downs, without them, the ride’s no fun at all. You wanted to go to heaven right? Open your eyes. "There" is here!

Jon, updated

I’ve made a few changes to the site this last week. I’ve jazzed up a couple of the stylesheets, revised and reposted the pages on Biblical Panentheism and Universal Salvation. Also I completely rewrote the review of Waking Life. Its vision of life as a lucid dream was something which I could not get when it first came out. Now, it’s screamingly obvious. When I’m more aware, I see that my existence is very much like a lucid dream. Ordinary life, without awareness, is like a sleep. One who’s begun to realize his true nature, begins to see it as a lucid dream, aware that he is dreaming. It’s an incredible metaphor, actually much better as metaphor than The Matrix.

I also came back to two texts with much greater understanding. The Tao Te Ching was the first Eastern religious text I had ever read. I’ve read it several times, but not in the last five years since I began meditating and exploring the nature of things. In the past, my "mysticism" was philosophical, now it’s much deeper. There’s so much in there that no one can understand deeply until they begin practicing it deeply, and then it opens up.

Also, I revisited The Gospel of Thomas again. I read that more recently, but going back again, since my practice has deepened as a quest to know my being in the Ground of Being, I understand so much more there than I ever did before. The scholars write commentary after commentary, but cannot "get" it, since it’s beyond everyone who’s not practicing.

Come to know what is in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest. —Thomas 5

That brings me to what really "updated" me tonight. In my last post I was quite discouraged and in a state of "spiritual indigestion." But taking Mark’s advice regarding SI was helpful— very, very helpful. As he suggested, I sat down quietly and renounced knowledge and desire from my heart. (I know nothing, I need nothing, I want absolutely nothing.) Tonight, after sitting in the quiet of that no-thing-ness for a little, something just "popped," and I realized, this is it. This is really it!

Soto Zen calls just-sitting meditation "the first enlightenment." The thing is that simply being in that awareness of Being is what enlightenment is. The abbot of The Cloud of Unknowing and the Book of Privy Counsel pretty much says the same thing, that this is the contemplative work of eternity. It’s so easy to get caught up in seeking the big, explosive, once-and-for-all "capital E" Enlightenment, which is nothing more than neurotic, clinging, desire. My teacher told me to give up wanting enlightenment, and now I think I have. I can see its here.

As Jesus said: Come to know what is in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you.

It’s so easy. My heart overflows with gratitude. Thank You, Father.

Destroy the World, Save the Earth

I’ve got to apologize for going so long between posts. Sometimes what I want to share here in this space feels so personal, or so difficult to put into words, that I end up not doing it at all.

Something that’s been on my mind the last couple of weeks is “the world” vs. “the earth.” There’s a big, big difference between the two, and probably the easiest way to distinguish them, is simply by realizing that the world is not real. What do I mean by not “real?” Well, take a look at the earth, for contrast. Look at your friends, spouse, kids, your cat, dog or parakeet—those are real. Look at yourself. Feel your skin, your clothes, your headache or your peace. That is real. They are there. Go outside, see the cars, the grass, the sky, birds, clouds, bushes and asphalt. Real again. Better yet, give yourself a nice, total immmersion experience of reality—go canoeing in a park, or mountain biking, or swimming in the ocean, with a minimum of thinking or conversation. You’ll start to get to know the difference.

What’s not real? Everything that exists only in the mind. Chances are, as soon as you start talking with someone, conversations will turn to things that have no basis in reality. Whether someone or something is “good” or “bad.” Whether something “means” something else or not. The past. That’s right, the past happened, but it is not real. Past sounds like passed for a reason. The future is obviously not real, but we devote inordinate amounts of our thoughts to it.
When you feel stress about the future, you’re feelings are real enough, but their cause is unreal. There’s some profound truth in the trite workplace sign “FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.”

But there’s a lot more non-reality to become aware of. Our very identities are pieces of the past we esteem and carry on with us into the present. If you ask my name, I’ll say, “Jon.” That’s a real sound, but how does it become a shorthand for me? I could have been named Douglas, Vladimir, or Akhbar. And if I so chose to, I could change it. Ask my nationality, and I’ll say “American.” What I really mean is that I was born in a part of the earth where people had agreed to recognize an organization of people as having some authority over them, and by agreement, this organization was known as the government of the United States of America.

But look at a view of the earth from space, and there are no lines drawn, no square patches colored blue, pink, or yellow, and no names written upon the land. There’s no “United States of America” there, no “Switzerland,” and no “Iraq.” What’s real are the nameless landmasses with their nameless forests, plains and deserts and the nameless oceans, lakes and rivers.

I am not my past, my name, my family, my upbringing, my country, my religion, my ideas, nor my thoughts. Neither are you. Kind of makes you wonder why all the fights about names, families, lifestyles, countries, religions, and ideologies, doesn’t it?

Meditation is an opportunity to begin stripping away the conditioning, the associations, and shared hallucinations that comprise “the world.” What are you, there in the dark, with eyes closed, with no name, no past, no future? What is that? It’s worth getting to know, because that is real. That is you.