Over time and with experience, it does get easier, but even then it ain’t easy. But that don’t really matter, ’cause if you’re called to write, you can’t avoid it. You gotta do it. Even if your spelling and grammar aren’t too good. It don’t matter.
You just write, because you got to write.
I started writing in my late teens, mostly long unintelligible poems to record my equally unintelligible wanderings throughout the world, took a 10-year hiatus while living in an ashram, then came back to it. My first article was published in 1991, a featured article in a “new age” magazine with my name on the cover. I went sky-high with pride and self-importance; that didn’t last.
Of the many sudden, almost fierce, insights I’ve had post-terminal cancer diagnosis was the realization of how rarely I had connected with people throughout my life. I mean deeply and truly connected; connected as if the only thing that ever existed was that moment, with that person or those people. I saw that my connections with people were often utilitarian and business-like, with one eye on the person or people I was speaking with, and one eye on the clock and my calendar, projects, and ambitions. I was too busy to connect, too busy to be present, and too busy to pay attention — to the degree I know now is essential.
As I emerge from my almost three-year healing cocoon, I’m noticing that the kind of connection I rarely made with people is now of utmost importance. No, that’s not it. It’s more than that: the realism, the reality, of being a human being, and of meeting other human beings, is predicated on this quality of connection. Without being fully present and without paying full attention to our own self and to others in the precise instants in which we are together, we cannot truly have connection.
If we are seeking what is real, the real is seeking us.
If we long to know the truth, the truth longs to know us.
If we want to drown in love, love wants to live in us.
These entities are everywhere, even pounding on drums in the ceremonial centers of our cells — trillions of them. They flood into and from us.
Be a child in this on-rushing love: don’t move. Stand still. Don’t try to find the real, or know the truth, or experience love. All effort pushes it away. Be like a lost child and wait to be found. Stand still, be open, look and see that everything you want is already taking you, filling you, possessing you.
We don’t need to seek: we have already found.
We don’t need to learn: we already know.
We don’t have to become: we already are.
The world is alive and breathing inside your very body. All that you treasure is within you. Your inadequacy is but a habit, your bondage an illusion, your fears but shadows and gossip. Let go of all you hold on to. Only you can free yourself from your own deception. Forgive yourself, step into the light of love rushing towards you from a million inner suns.
No one has harmed you, no one has wronged you. Only your pride thinks this is so. Let it go. Bitterness is your own dark night. Let it go. There is nothing worth protecting. Let the breath of new life fill you and fill your mind and fill your body. Your cells are now vibrating with new life. Your heart is opening, your being is growing larger and larger, colliding with the onrushing love. In this collision you can dissolve without fear.
[Written sometime around mid- to late 2016, but as relevant today as then, I reckon.]
“You cannot do that!” is what a well-meaning nurse told me yesterday at the chemo-ward, or whatever they call the place you sit in for several hours whilst intravenously imbibing what I like to call Shiva-Shakti juice.
Actually, this is what the second nurse said. The first one was unable to insert the needle into any of my veins even after three rather painful attempts. Apparently, my veins were small and would disappear on her. Bummer for her, and for me.
She said she’d get another nurse. As that one began to survey the situation, I politely (I’m always polite and friendly) said, “Let’s make this one count. If it doesn’t, I am out of here. Four is my daily limit for needle insertions.”
That’s not even counting the one I already had in the blood lab ward, where my Philippine lab technicians love me to death — in part because I always bring them home-baked cookies (courtesy of my sister Sandra) and in part because we laugh so much that others nurses come running in to be sure everything is OK. They flirt with me and I flirt right back. Or, maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever.
From the time I was 11 years old, I needed to know one thing above and before all else: Who am I? I traveled for a long time and throughout the world in search of answers.
One day, as if I had lived alone for many years in the deep desert, I was taken by a stunning stillness, and without resistance I disappeared into Silence. It was more than an epiphany, more than grace, more than mystical union: it was my soul’s homecoming and my mind’s eternal peace.
In Silence, I felt my core identity, my essential nature, as a unity with all creation. I experienced freedom, clarity, and joy as my true Self. I realized I was of time and eternity in equal measure. I was composed of physical matter and spiritual energy in equal measure. I was born in New York City at the same instant I appeared 20 billion years ago, unfathomably and impossibly far away, as a sibling to trillions of suns.
This Self, this Silence, belongs to all of us — it is who we are; it is what we are. If we are to experience and embody authentic peace and love, if we are going to bring true healing to our wildly violent and endangered world, we are going to have to learn to live within this essence which joins us together as brothers and sisters.
There is great magic in Speaking Truthfully, the essence of which is: YOU are the message! But, your true and authentic self, the one with primordial presence and primal powers.
When we own what is inborn, what is and always has been intrinsic to our very being, when we purge from our mind the fears we have accumulated, when we let our heart grow wild, when we set our soul free from taboos . . . what was previously unimaginable is now possible. If we do not speak truthfully, we will never know what it is to be alive.
We all learn to hold our tongue, to suppress our truth, to hide our strength and power. We do it in order to survive, to belong, to feel safe, even loved. OK, fair enough. When we’re two or three or four years old, that’s not a bad strategy.
Now, today, this moment, I tell you that your strength, your power, your creativity — your very life — is in your freedom. The freedom to speak, to feel, to do. The freedom to be. Anything. Everything. Your innate power, the blessedness and blessings of Mother Shakti, they are there, inside. Poised and ready to erupt. We will ignite this eruption together. Immersed in shakti, not fear, anxiety, or self-doubt, you become invincible. We can no longer be safe in our hiding. We can no longer survive in self-suppression. The price is to high. It is death. It is walking death. Freedom, freedom from all habits of withholding, of succumbing to taboos, of blind obedience, of compliance — freedom to disturb the universe!
In your freedom is where you are truly safe, loved, powerful. In fact, in your freedom you are invincible and unconquerable. Your freedom is your authentic voice, your cosmic roar, your wildness, your beauty. Let’s claim and own what is ours, what is yours. Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s stop pretending to be small, wounded, afraid, self-victimizing. Enough.
[This article is an excerpt from The 5 Principles of Authentic Living.]
The dictionary traces the origin of “authentic” to the Latin authenticus and the Greek authentikós: original, primary, at first hand; acting on one’s own authority. Our current English definitions include: not false or copied; genuine, real, actual, truthful; of undisputed origin or authorship.
Are we living a genuine, real, and truthful life, or a copycat life? Is our life a collage of the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and opinions we’ve collected from others? Is our life real or rehearsed, genuine or counterfeit, sincere or phony? Acting on one’s own authority is a daring challenge.
Today’s marketplace has an abundance of people and products telling us how we should live, what to think, what to believe. We can find answers and solutions to every conceivable question and problem. Expert advice is everywhere. Some people even purport to know and teach the Truth, which is, from what people tell me, absolute. I, too, talk about truth, but you’ll notice my truth is spelled in lower case.
Truth with a lowercase t is different from Truth. I do not think that life is about absolutes, certainly our actual living day-to-day is anything but that. Telling one’s truth is not about being right or wrong, good or bad. It is about self-expression. It is a report, and if that report comes from a deep enough place, then it is the authentic report of one’s authentic self. Speaking one’s truth is the same as living one’s truth, because speaking is how we move in and through life. It is our life. Our authentic self is a moveable feast; it expands and evolves, like existence itself. That’s why telling the truth is so important. It’s how we discover and express our authentic self — moment to moment.
I challenge myself to come up with different ways of defining The 5 Principles of Authentic Living. I am not looking for the perfect and precise definition; that would be counterproductive, because the precision would make everyone think they understand. With these principles, the true understanding comes only through embodiment.
Here’s one way I’ve defined the principles:
Be Present: Don’t get lost in thought; let thought get lost in you. Experience life and express yourself from silent awareness, which is an open, free, and ferociously creative hammock, hung between rocks and stars.
Pay Attention: One degree focus; 360 degree awareness — notice everything everywhere, inside and out, above and below, big and small, physical and non-physical. Notice especially what is happening right in front of you. Don’t wander and fall in a ditch.
Listen Deeply: Listen Deeply is hearing the very breath of all living things. Listen Deeply, beyond words, to hear and know what to do and where to go. Listen. Hear the hum of meaning, and meta-meaning. Hear pollen fall from a flower and crash land on the table.
Speak Truthfully: Storms speak truthfully. Infants speak truthfully. Life and death speak truthfully. Who are you and what does your heart want? Tell the truth: no pretense, no defense, no hiding. No crap. Your life is hanging in the balance.
Act Creatively: Don’t pontificate about bullfighting: get in the ring with the bull where you can express your super powers in action. Become a magic wand. Dare to dance in a way no one has seen. A locked door? Slip through the keyhole.