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On Expressing Life (and Love)

In my ongoing project to be open and divested from specific outcomes and personal narratives, I have been experimenting of late with posting at Facebook. You might want to take a look, if you are curious. It’s just another way of saying what I am always saying, but the form is different. It’s fun. It’s interesting. We’ll see.

I was asked the other day: why are you doing it? You already have different outlets for your writing? Why a new one – especially such a popular one?

It’s a good question. I can only answer with another question: What longs to be expressed? What is trying to flow through you – to take form in you – to express itself?

These are important questions to ask. They are not just questions for artists. They are questions for anyone who is serious about being alive in a real and not illusory way.

On the one hand, the answer is always “love.” Love is trying to express itself. And when it is frustrated or ignored or denied, then the absence of love is expressed.

That’s okay – it’s accurate in its way – but we want to go deeper. We want to enter into an actual relationship with expression. Right now – right here – you and I are alive. We are expressions of Life, and we are capable of a deep and profound – indeed, of a bottomless and borderless – relationship with Life. We want to find that! We want to find that and allow it. There is no other way to know peace and joy. There is no other way to be truly and creatively loving.

I am always saying “give attention,” and I am going to say it again: “give attention to what yearns for expression in and through you.” Words? Baking? Dance? Walks? Quilting? Gardening? Dialogue? What?

There is no right answer to these questions: there is only your true answer, the answer that makes you hum, the answer that you cannot doubt even if you are too scared to say it aloud or give it space in the field of awareness. We have to find it and be in relationship with it alone: only then will we discover (slowly perhaps but nonetheless) that to be in relationship with our unique expression of Life, is to be in relationship with all of Life. Separation ends. Joy and peace abound.

I am a writer and, in a different but still important way, a teacher. So I write and teach. Some expressions of writing resonate for me and others; some are just helpful to me. Sometimes every word feels like a rock on my tongue. Sometimes I find forms of teaching that elevate me and everyone in the room. Sometimes I might as well be banging my head against the wall.

It doesn’t matter. I just come back to it over and over. What longs to be expressed? And then I express it. I fumble and stumble, sure, but I give it voice. What else is there? What else could there be?

You might say, “this is not really a post about A Course in Miracles.” In a sense you are right. But in another sense, it is all about A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles aims to bring us into right relationship with Life – with Truth as God created it. The words aren’t so important as the essence from which they arise and back to which they point. To be miraculous is to be in right relationship with Life as it flows and finds itself in the brief but luminous self you presently are.

I am grateful for your attention: and your patience: and for your help. Thank you.

 

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Learning to See

A Course in Miracles is simply an opportunity to learn a new way of seeing. Or – better maybe – an opportunity to learn a new way of being, one in which our relationship to thought and perception naturally aligns with life as it is, restoring us gently to the graceful love that is our inheritance.

The bridge (to the Real World) is nothing more than a transition in the perspective of reality. On this side, everything you see is grossly distorted and completely out of perspective. . . . (T-16.VI.7:1-2)

And on the other we gain “the understanding of where Heaven is . . . it will join with you and become one with you” (T-16.VI.11:1, 3).

beach_vista

the unknowable attends me -
day after day
the sun rises and sets
exactly
where I look for it

While this transition is not necessarily easy (e.g., T-16.VI.7:4), it is simple.

Imagine for a moment that we are wearing glasses that discolor the world, magnify certain elements of it and block others as if they don’t exist at all. Someone comes along and says, “hey. There’s another way of seeing the world – a way that is clear and pure. Just take off those glasses.”

At first we would resist. But then we might secretly slip them down a little – peek over the top of the lenses – just to catch a glimpse of this “real world.” And then at some point perhaps we would take them off for a few minutes and look around.

At first, even though we would perceive the difference between the two worlds, we would be confused about their relative value. We might still prefer the old way of seeing – we have been wearing our dysfunctional glasses for a long time, after all. Probably we will put them back on. It’s familiar and comfortable. On and off, off and on . . .

I am never not amazed at how lovely a tree is, how instructive moonlight is, at the patience and kindness of brooks in full spate. This is the gift: this is what is given, and what gives of itself, over and over and over.

Awakening is like that. It is just like that. For me it is, and maybe for you as well. It comes in little flashes at first. We resist it. It comes and goes. It takes time for us to recognize and then choose Love. It takes practice.

The thing we want to be clear about is that nothing changes but the way that we see. The maple trees don’t change, our neighbors don’t change, vanilla ice cream doesn’t change, moonlight doesn’t change. But, because the way that we see changes, everything slips into its right place. We see reality as it is, not as we wish it was, and not as we insist it be.

That is all there is to peace. That is all there is to joy.

I write often about “giving attention.” That is just my way of saying that it is helpful (or is for me and may be for you) to be present: to just be still for a few minutes and notice what is going on. The more that I do this, the more I realize there is nothing to do: it is all being done. Being simply is, and it includes me naturally, and it includes you as well.

In an absolute sense, there is no practicing to this. We can’t be more or less than what we are. We can’t be anywhere else than where and when we are. But in the relative sense – in the ordinary course of experience – it is possible to discover this new way of seeing, and then – by giving attention to it consistently and gently – to deepen with and into it.

Life is both ordinary and luminous – the two qualities are really the same. I am never not amazed at this: at how lovely a tree is, how instructive moonlight is, at the patience and kindness of brooks in full spate. Life contains us: expresses us: and offers us over and over its glorious and unconditional love.

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Working on a Song

The old dog turns back but I don’t – can’t – and some mornings are like that. Held up by crusty snow all the way out to the old fire pond, herons on my mind, and the sudden clarity of stars which is a kind of insistence, a kind of loveliness that – I am only just seeing this – does not lift me but rather asks to be lifted. Is that right? Ideas of beauty are weights to be borne? Well, maybe. One does grow tired of thinking and the way that language seems to endlessly classify the undivided given. Gertrude Stein remains a radiant proctor! Poking along the shore I find a fire ring (cold to the touch) and few dozen beer cans, which make me tired for reasons I am on longer obligated to share. What folly the pine trees are witness to! And yet how patiently they go on growing, as if the sky and the earth were not separate at all, but mutual benefactors working on a song. Back at the road, the old dog was sitting quietly, waiting without waiting, and I spoke to her in low tones as we walked home together. “Love is the easiest thing/& uncontingent on a ring.” For a long time emptiness was a risk I could not face, but now it is simply the way being sifts, here and there, coming and going, never altogether this or that. I am saying: ask what longs to be expressed. Express that.

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The Pathless Forest

a lifetime of bowing
to flowers and moonlight,
deer tracks and bear scat
has finally emptied me of longing –
the pathless forest is home now –
and you are there too

narcissi

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Just Notes

It has been quite a while but I have sent out a newsletter this morning. Over the past couple weeks, that’s been the creative nudge. What can I say? If you want to sign up, you can do so in the sidebar or here. It’s just another way of being in touch, another way of sharing.

I have also set up a Facebook page, because people keep asking after it. I do like Twitter so I figure why not? Maybe I’ll enjoy Facebook, too. If you are interested in “liking” me, feel free to swing by. No hard feelings either way!

In the interim, and as always, thank you so much for reading and sharing and whatnot. Without you, none of it would mean a thing.

Love,
Sean

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Seven Miles Alone

A little rain at 2 a.m., not enough to discourage walking, that particular loveliness. I stand beside snow banks dissipating in buffets of warm air and consider again the sadness with which I am so intimate. A glimpse again of what is always given away, thankfully. Lovers come and go across the exterior landscape: train whistles, pickups, owl feathers, dogs. When you don’t write, the emptiness I once tried to fill with you yawns and howls. I can’t keep calling it a prayer, and I’m tired of trying to explain that “God” is only a word. “You” is a pronoun that divides the collective yearning to know itself at last as whole and okay. A cup of coffee, the dog wandering from window to window, and writing. Writing writing. My tiredness is nothing, and my jealousy is nothing, and my joy is nothing too. Let pass what passes and give attention to what stays. I walked seven miles alone yesterday, from the front steps through open fields to the bank of a river I hadn’t seen in months. Of course it was still there, and the crows were there, and the red-winged blackbirds, and every thought I ever had. You see? Let Jesus be now. Let the Buddha be. We come back slowly from the old haunt, body by confused body, amazed at how simply the knot untangles.

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There is Nothing to Heal

It is not necessary to heal ourselves.
It is necessary to give attention
to what is broken
and loveless
where it is perceived.
The distinction between what is external
and internal will resolve itself
without our intervention.
Attention is merciful sustenance
because it is nonjudgmental
and incapable of division.
Its perfection is clear
and unhurried.
It responds to us
yet neither begins nor ends
with our intention.
To be attentive
is to consent
to be that through which
a necessary blessing extends.
Therefore,
let go of the investment
in a better self,
a happier self,
a lovely self.
Relinquish
your stranglehold on form.
Let what passes pass,
and in the subsequent space
of nonresistance
notice what does not pass
but only stays.
Discover again the wholeness
naturally encompassing
what we call the self,
what we call broken,
and what we call
loveless.
It is not necessary to heal yourself
but only to discover
through attention
that there is nothing to heal
and never was.

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