Enlightenment Aint a Blog
I tend to use these columns to reflect on the life of growth and the development of spirit. But today I want to reflect on this horrific event in Conneticut.
Ross Duthat reflected in the NY Times that there is evil in the world and that no town is immune from it. He writes of the loss of innocence and the existence of violence, cruelty and meaningless attacks. Fair enough. He's hinting at the common NRA and Republican trope: guns don't kill people, people — crazy, mad, evil people — kill people.
What he didn't mention, what this Republican trope tries to ignore, is that guns don't kill people, but they sure as hell help.
About a month ago, a crazy, mad, evil man went the kind of bezerk that led Adam Lanza to stage this week's attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
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I’ve been gone awhile. Been out on the road. Book talks, seminars, travels. I’ve learned a couple of things, being a roadie.
First, take a hobby. Book talks happen in the evenings. You get a lot of down time in the days. I was glad to have my guitar and some practice tapes.
Second, food on the road is, at best, digestively unpredictable. Take, ahem, aides for the large colon.
Third, speak as much truth as you are able. The more I could drop into the real and invite others there, the better were the talks. People know it when you speak of what is really so, and a kind of intimacy comes over an audience when you do. For me, it generally concerned how our fantasies – my own fantasies – get in the way of living a fully present life. Or what it means to be spiritual today. Or the ambiguity of my commitment to meditation, and what it is to be on a spiritual path. The more I could descend into what is really at issue, where I actually stand in my own way, where my dreams block my path, the more people were with me.
Though I dropped deeper into my soul when I gave such talks, it wasn’t just me. …
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I'm in London this week and around it next, giving a series of book talks and interviews about Enlightenment Ain't. I've only been here a couple of days, but find myself struck with the energy of the place, and its multi-culturalism. Its almost odd to hear British English being spoken, its so rare, but maybe that's because i ride the tubes and the busses.
There’s a healthy liveliness in the city that you’d like. I suppose I have to admit I find it somewhat exciting, mostly because it seems energetic.
I stumbled across a huge Buddha pagoda here…
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In part to celebrate my recovery from the heart attack, I took a few days off last week to hike the Appalacian Trail. It is such a joy to have a body that works again! I had no idea how much I had slowed down!
Aside from the “Hey there’s”, on my hike I had only about half a dozen conversations. Most are of the “have you been to such and such a mountain” or the “how can you tell the turnoff to the …” variety.
Except for one. When a thirty something overtook me, he asked me how long I’d been out. “I'm on my second day." I told him. "I hike for an hour or two, then I write, then hike another hour or so,” I said happily. I was enjoying the rhythm I'd discovered.
“Oh, what are you writing?” he asked.
“Ruminations, mostly. Like a journal. Mostly I find myself thinking about how to bring something of the depths of life into the everyday.”
He focused in on me with a nearly imperceptable shudder, recognizing, I think, that I had just offered out something real, like a gift. With a querulous smile, he looked me in the eye.
“Now, how do you do that?”
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About a third or more of people who have bypass surgery, I've heard, struggle with depression. About 5 weeks after having that heart bypass operation, it hit me. Yup, I've become a proud member of that lucky third!
Now, I am something of an expert on depression, having been clinically depressed for about 3 years in college, and having come out of it, I like to think, wiser. Depression was easily one of my greatest teachers: I discovered then that I wasn't who I thought I was, and from it came the life long challenge to live in deeper integrity.
So a bout of depression after this operation? Ach, old hat! All I need to do is ask, what am I not owning up to in myself? Piece o' cake!
Hardly!! But I could sense that the question haunting me was, do I want to get back into my old life now? I think part of an answer hit me last night; so this epiphany is a day old: I've been thinking about my life all wrong!
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As you have probably noticed, I have been offline for about a month now. In case you haven't heard, I had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass operation. I know it's a shoddy reason for being offline, but hey, its the only one I've got!
Thank you to all the folks that have sent support, love, concern, prayers, cards and flowers. It makes a difference, it really does, on the spirits and healing process. I feel well cared for, well loved. And perhaps as a result, my healing has been reasonably quick and easy.
Many have asked me about insights or reactions from a brush with death. I'm afraid I don't have anything brilliant to tell you.
But I have have one suggestive insight from that nearly-other-side…
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Today is the 40 year anniversary of the final zlooping of those strange tubes in the back of my head.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the book! (Sorry, a too-easy plug, eh?)
It's a wierd thing to celebrate, I must say, but a bookstore in England asked me for anniversary dates, and came up with this one. Does one sing happy anniversary to silence … in silence? Candles maybe: "true light to true light" as the Nicean creed has it?
What it does get me thinking about though is the effect of something like this. What it was was the beginning of a life.
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Merry Christmas. Though I'm not a Christian, I love the holiday. I see it as the celebration of the possibility of the birth of the infinite in us. So that we have the capacity to become "fully God and fully Man" as the Nicean creed has it. It is in that spirit I say, hey, have a wonderful Christmas!
You may have heard me say, either in talks, radio shows or in print, that the key to building a life with the same openness that comes with spiritual depth, is by living with deep and searching truth. Not the truth about someone else, but about us, who we are what we're doing, where we struggle and discover.
Truth telling is the key to building a life of deep authenticity and connection — with self and others.
You may have also ve heard me say that we teach people how to do this in the Soul Jazz program. Well, the long wait is finally over. We're now opening enrollment for the first ever public Soul Jazz weekend.
Have you contacted a deeper reality, sometimes found the infinite? Learn to weave it into your everyday life, at home and at work.
This is the real challenge of the spiritual life, isn't it?
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I just wanted to say thanks for all the people at Goodreads.com who entered the contest to receive a free copy of Enlightenment Ain't What It's Cracked Up To Be.
The thing that I was most gratified to see is that of the 570 who entered the contest (570!!) some 71 put it on their "to read list." That tells me that there is real interest in the question that stands at the heart of the book: what actually is enlightenment and does it live up to its hype? And if it doesn't, then what are we really after in life? Or, as Dr. Trahan put it, "hat most significant of human questions: What does a "good life" look like? And perhaps more pressing: What does a "good life" look like here and now?"
So its gratifying to see the interest in this.
I want all to know that we'll cook up a Q & A period on Goodreads about the book, about life, or whatever people want to kick around, next month, after folks have had a chance to read the thing. I for one look forward to that!
If you're not signed up for Goodreads, you should. It's the social network for readers and authors, and a good place to hang. www.Goodreads.com
I'm just back from a wonderful trip to California. Gave 12 talks in 14 days. Met many, many wonderful people. Even had a stunning motorcycle ride!
Some of the folks I met had already read Enlightenment Ain't What It's Cracked Up To Be. I heard lots of mentions about the book's honesty, vulnerability and insight. I appreciated all of them. It's a joy to be seen.
But there was one comment that I heard several times which has left me a little flummoxed. Delightfully so though.
"I was reading such and such a section when i found myself feeling something of what you were describing," one woman told me. "It was as if I could sense the quiet, the very openness of your consciousness that you were wriring about."
Another put this that they experienced the book as offering readers "an extended and innovative meditation experience." How fascinating!!
Here I wonder if I might ask: have you experienced something similar with this book? Or if you haven't yet read it, when you do so, please allow those feelings in. Pay attention to how you feel in your body as you read it. And if you do feel something, please write here in the comments section below this blog or on Facebook. I am curious as all get out and I can really use your help here!
But whether or not you have felt that, what on earth might be going on here?
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