Man in cave contemplating awareness

Resting In the Fire Of Awareness

We are perfect as we are. This is the ecstatic proclamation of the advaitic, or non-dual path of direct understanding. But the moment this proclamation is made, the question is often raised, “How do we come to this understanding?” This question arises from the notion that there is something that we can do to come to this understanding. This presupposes that there is a progressive path of purification that will take us to this realization.

These two paths, of direct and progressive realization, are really two ends of a stick. We cannot have one end without the other. What we often don’t realize is that the stick is always, in and of itself, whole. The poles of direct and progressive, non-dual and dual, are complimentarities. When we live with the complimentarity of these approaches, we find that they are, in fact, a unified whole. It appears that we cannot come to the final understanding that we are perfect as we are without being involved in a process of purification. But ultimately, neither a direct path nor the path of purification will take us to the ultimate understanding.

Once upon a timeless moment, before the conceptual ‘Big Bang’ birthed us into creation, we were without perception of inside or outside, of “self” or “other”. We felt no sense of separa-tion. We were not a “do-er” or a “be-er” for there was no “doing” or “being”. There was only non-conceptual “suchness”; our “original face before we were born”, the proverbial sound of the “one hand clapping” that everything is before it becomes some ‘thing’.

As I was writing this paper, I stopped and asked my wife what she would say if she were giving this presentation. Without hesitation she replied: “I wouldn’t write a thing. I’d keep silent and go about my life. Then everyone would see what my real doing and being is. I thought her answer a particularly good response, for no matter what we say, our actions always speak louder than any words we may utter. The ultimate truth is always expressed in the Silence that is beyond descrip-tion.

And now, for as far back as we have been convinced into believing, we find ourselves living as apparently separate selves, doing and being and quite often, feeling “done in” and being “quite out of it”. We are often perplexed and confused, alternating between feeling anxious and alone, all the while searching to calm our ‘hungry ghosts’ within that are constantly searching for a sense of belonging and a feeling of unqualified security.

Perhaps some of us may recall that first moment when time arrived and we suddenly felt our se-parateness. I must have been between one and two, for I remember quite distinctly that I was able to talk. My sister and I were standing by the side of the window in our bedroom. In a flash of awakening into time, space and separation I found myself, for the first time, feeling separate from my sister-a distinct and separate other, her brother. And I was able to also discern the light flowing in through the window as a distinct reality, separate from us both.

We now find ourselves living separate lives, feeling ourselves distinct from one another. We feel ourselves separate and independent from everything else in the universe. Then, as a sepa-rate and independent entity, we reach out for only a part of life rather than the whole of it. We want what we find acceptable and we reject what is not. We think the opposites are to be kept apart. Give us happiness but certainly not grief. Give us security and not fear. And, by all means, give us health and life, not pain, suffering and death.

It is my experience as a psychologist and teacher of meditation that clients and students often come because there is something they are unable to be with. If they knew how to be with it, they would probably want to be somewhere else than in my office. And I don’t know about you, but this is how I came to spiritual work. Sadness and depression, loneliness and aliena-tion had been my traveling companions for too many years. I was longing for a way out, and up to the point of discovering meditation, nothing had given me the escape I was looking for.

So often we are trying to be other than the way we are. We live in self-images of a self we think we ‘should’ be. I remember a moment when my daughter, Jenny, was three years old. My wife and I were standing in the dining area of our home, hugging each other in a warm embrace. As I peered over Anne’s shoulder I could see Jenny looking up at us from her spot on the floor. My mind began to spin out its fantasy of “Oh, look what a good role model I’m being.” But simultaneously present was the counter thought, “Whatever you really are, that’s what she’s really seeing. So get out of your head and get on with your life. Say what you want, try to be and do what you will, you will always be what you are, and this is what she will always be seeing.”

So the bad news is that we live in insecurity, anxiety and fear. But the good news is always here too. We wouldn’t be searching for this experience of security and belonging if we didn’t already know that it exists. And we wouldn’t have this intuition if we weren’t already, at some place out of time, living and tasting this unbridled joy and comfort we so long for. And this is the rub. We seem to know what we are searching for, but, at the same time, we seem incapable of finding it in a lasting and satisfying manner. But if we already know what we are looking for, and if it already exists within us, why is it we are unable to bring it fully into our lives?

Searching involves looking for something, doesn’t it? When we are looking for something we are looking for an object. And in order to look for an object we must be separate from what we are looking for. And if we find this longed-for object, we will still be separate from it. We may possess it for a moment, but it will always be a fragile object in our hands. The very act of looking keeps us separate from what we are trying to find. Anything we find remains an object to us. And anything that we do find can, and we can be assured, will always be taken away from us, whether by design, accident or death.

When All Is Left Behind

When we find something
It will be taken away.
But when we are empty
what is there to lose?

Prior to all gain what is present?
But what is there when even this
is left behind?

Meditation is not addition.
If anything, it is subtraction.
Take away all that there is,
and we find ourselves living in
and as empty-fullness.

So, Be quiet.
Cease all doing. Stop all non-doing.
Make no effort.
Don’t make this difficult.

You see
there is no way to get there from here
for there is no there to go to.

So be
before ‘I’ arises
and mind makes the difference.

      RCM, 1998

What then can we do? What is it that when It is present, It can no longer be lost?

Separation is an activity of the mind. It is what the mind does. But life, in actuality, is whole. There is no separation anywhere. Modern physics, with the help of the electron microscope, shows us that you cannot tell where your hand ends and space begins or where you end and another begins. Go out as far as you can or go in as far as you will, but going out or going in, there are no boundaries anywhere except as comparative edges, pairs of opposites, projected by the mind for the sake of definition and manipulation.

The function of the mind is to divide in order to formulate and manipulate a world of objects. I wouldn’t be able to hold a cup if the mind hadn’t separated it out from the all-that-is, which is present before separation arises. The mind projects a ‘so-called other’ so that it may interact and be in relationship. And wherever there is separation we find a pair of opposites-man and woman, self and other, pain and pleasure, black and white, awake and asleep, duality and non-duality. But the good news is co-arising with separation is anxiety, insecurity and fear. We may call these ‘negative emotions’ and spend our lives trying to get rid of them. But as long as there is separation, there will always be anxiety and fear. Fear and insecurity co-arise with separation. They are complimentary opposites and always co-exist. Separation cannot be present without fear.

So why do I say, “fortunately fear arises with the sense of separation”? Why is this ‘good news’, because fear is our messenger. Fear tells us that separation is present. It informs us that a mental split has occurred that has conceptually divided what is actually whole, into so-called parts. Fear orients us. It is our friend and ally.

But we are always trying to get rid of fear, aren’t we? We are constantly in a struggle to change ourselves. This is even the warp and woof of our spiritual practice, is it not? We want to be more healthy and happy, flexible, strong and energetic. We want to be relaxed, comfortable, and secure and sane individuals. And this is the problem. As long as we are convinced we need to be an individual and different-other than as we are-in order to achieve some pre-conceived goal we are searching for, we are in conflict from the get-go. We are at war with ourselves. This is the origin of all self-judgment and self-condemnation. We are trying to be other than as we are.

But we don’t stop here, do we? We can’t stand that we do this within ourselves. We can’t stand this betrayal we’re living in. So we drive these psychological movements of self-hatred into our unconscious. And whatever lives in the unconscious surely gets projected outward. When anger and violence exist within ourselves, we project anger and violence into the world. When we are angry that we are being judged it is only because we are already judging ourselves. When we are upset that another is hurting us, it is only because we are already hurting our-selves. And when we feel that any ‘so-called’ other is hurting us, be assured that they are only hurting themselves. They, also, are full of un-owned self-condemnation that they are trying to project out away from themselves and into the world. And if we claim their anger and their dissatisfaction it will only be because we feel the same way about ourselves. You see no one can ever hurt us. We are the ones who are always and only hurting ourselves. And if you don’t agree, bring an end to self-judgment, self-hatred and self-condemnation and then look out again at the world. It will appear miraculously and completely transformed.

When we shift from trying to change ourselves to being non-judgmentally aware of all our internal movements, something magical begins to unfold. For anything that is placed in awareness, transforms. Awareness is like fire. Fire purifies. And awareness purifies. Fire doesn’t care a wit what is in it. It doesn’t judge. It doesn’t compare. It simply burns out the impurities of anything that is placed within its presence. And awareness is simple presence; presence to what is. And so, here is the answer we are looking for. We simply need to rest in the fire of awareness. This is an act of being open that comes from the tremendous insight that every-thing else we have tried to do up to this point has utterly and totally failed. In this moment of fully resting in the fire of awareness the mind has given up and we are completely open to the unknown. We are living in a listening that is without goal or intention.

At first our listening is to the objects arising in awareness. In our meditation we learn to listen to the body, to the breath and to the subtle currents of energy, feeling, sensation and thought. At first our practice is full of comparison, competition and intention. But intention hinders us from seeing facts as they are. When we intend, try to achieve or become something, we are not open. We are living in a preconceived mental image of how we think we should be. When we are striving for a goal we can never reach the Truth for our very striving as a separate individ-ual means we are separate from what we are striving for.

I remember the morning I awoke after an evening of contemplating suicide because life had reached an endpoint of depression and hopelessness. The insight came that I had been trying to get other people to tell me what to do. I realized that I hadn’t been open. I understood that everything was up to me. I had to find the answer because nobody could give it to me.

Years ago I had the opportunity to practice yoga and meditation all day long. I had saved enough money to be on my own for several years and had no financial commitments. I prac-ticed hatha yoga, pranayama and meditation religiously all day long. But after a few months, a nagging thought began playing itself out in my mind. Day after day, practice after practice the mind would revel in how flexible and strong the body/mind was becoming. I was able to do advanced poses and sit for long periods of pranayama and meditation. But the mind began to doubt the sanity of the achievements it was reveling in. I realized that no matter how strong, how flexible and advanced I became in my practice, an accident or death would take it all away in a split second. I saw the truth that I would forever be insecure with whatever I ob-tained. And I became obsessed with trying to understand: “What is it, that when it is unders-tood, everything is understood? And what is it, that when it is understood, it can never be lost?”

We can never go to the Truth as we would go to an object. Our desire to want It, to achieve It, to obtain It, to be recognized, to be admired, to be somebody, is going away from It. Is it poss-ible for our spiritual practice to reflect this understanding, moment-to-moment; during body movement, during breathing, during meditation and during our every waking movement? Then everything is fuel for the fire of awareness. Once we understand this way of living, noth-ing distracts for awareness has no concern what moves in it. Awareness witnesses everything without judgment or concern.

This simple activity of being aware forms the new and solid foundation of our search for Truth, for a lasting security free from fear. When we spend time with all of the physical and psychological movements within and around ourselves, and see them as objects in awareness, with an openness that lets them be as they are, they begin to change and dissolve. Living in the attitude of being aware brings the understanding that anything beheld in awareness, with-out anticipation or expectation, is purified of its grosser nature. And as it purifies, its hidden nature unfolds.

As we live as awareness, opposites are no longer resisted, but allowed to be. And as opposites co-exist, we see them as complimentarities-two ends of an intact stick-two ends of a unified whole. And as their complimentary nature unfolds, we realize the Unity that underlies all complimentarities. Here we realize that freedom from the pairs of opposites actually means that we are no longer interested in manipulating them. We find ourselves as a center of awareness that is witnessing both ends of all spectrums. This freedom from the pairs of opposites is the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now on earth as it is in Heaven just as St. Thomas informs us in the words of Jesus when he writes in his Gospel:

And they said to Him:
Shall we then, being children, enter the Kingdom?
And Jesus said:
When you make the two one,
And when you make the inner as the outer
and the outer as the inner
and the above as the below,
and when you make
the male and the female
into a single one
then you shall enter the Kingdom.

I am reminded of the aphorism in Christianity of “the day of last judgment”. I don’t know about you, but I always wondered about this as a child because of all the things I’d done. I was concerned with this ‘day of last judgment’ because there were a lot of things I was going to have to pay dearly for. But then it occurred to me that ‘the day of last judgment’ arrives the moment we have our ‘last judgment’ towards ourselves. And when we have the last judgment towards ourselves, all judgment empties out towards all others as well. If I have no judgment inside, then I have no judgment to project outwardly onto the world. I have no judgment to project out onto you. Then I have just entered into the day of last judgment. When there is no judgment in here I don’t see any judgment out ‘there’. You can judge me all you want, but you are really only judging yourself. Bring an end to judgment and we enter the kingdom of heaven.

This understanding of “no-two-ness” is the essential realization of meditation. Ultimate Reali-ty is a Unicity and our natural vision is total. By this I mean the vision that we are born with, that we intuitively know is here, waiting for us as our natural birthright, is a vision that sees wholeness everywhere, in every moment. It exists before the mind splits and makes a differ-ence. Our vision knows no separation or boundary until the mind, through thought, conceptu-alizes and creates separation. Luckily, fear and insecurity co-arise with the conceptualization of separation. Fear is here to remind us that the mind has split the One into two. Fear is not the problem. It is part of the solution.

The realization that separation is the product of a split-mind is at once the realization that this sense of separation and conflict is only a mental aberration and is therefore illusory and not ultimately real. Separation is caused by thought. Conflict is caused by thought. And trying to get rid of separation and conflict by further thinking fails even before we begin. Seeing that conflict, and unhappiness, and feelings of separation are not real but illusory, and only move-ments of the mind, is the beginning of their dissolution and the resolution to our problem.

When we shift from trying to change ourselves to listening and being aware, awareness ex-pands. Awareness is not the product of the linear split-mind but is multi-dimensional and all encompassing. It includes all objects whether they are perceived to be outside, such as the trees and the people around us, or inside like our thoughts, emotions and body sensations. All objects are within us. All objects are in ourselves-which-is-awareness. We are not in the body. The body is inside us. We are not in conflict. Conflict is inside us. So when we do our spiritual work, can our practice reflect this fact? We need to stop, at every opportunity, and feel our multi-dimensional nature and feel how everything is living within this all-expansive, all-inclusive awareness.

Living in awareness is not a strategy. Awareness is not concerned with us becoming better people. It’s not a strategy to change ourself. Why do I say this, because awareness is what we are. We are only doing what we are already always being. Living in and as awareness is not is not self-manipulation or a strategy for getting better.

So can we do this now? Can we live in and as awareness in this moment, even as we are read-ing this treatise? The fact is, we are always being awareness. It is what we are. It is not some-thing that we can do. All we can do is realize this already present reality. So, can you open up to awareness and feel, as awareness, out into the space in front of you, to the right, to the left and behind you simultaneously. Go underneath, go above, feel inside and feel outside. Feel the space in and around you in all directions simultaneously. This is not something we can do with the mind. Mind cannot enter here. We can only be non-conceptually living this-as-awareness. When we live this way we realize we are not inside the body. The body is inside of us. Conflict is inside of us. Feel the impact on the body/mind when you say, “Pain is present in this head” rather than, “I have a headache”, or “hunger is present” versus “I am hungry”. When we live as awareness, all movement of body, mind, speech, thought and world appears within what-we-are-as-awareness. The world is inside us; we are not in the world.

I have lived with chronic pain all my life. As a child I realized that if I didn’t separate from the pain, the pain disappeared. But I also found that with the slightest movement of the mind, which is time, pain rushed back in. I think this was the beginning, as a young child, of my learning how to meditate.

I learned at an early age that freedom from pain comes when we don’t separate from it. The mo-ment we separate from pain, we have pain. When we live in and as awareness, awareness pervades pain. Sensation is present before mind names it as pain. Then we realize pain, as sensation, is inside us. It is not who we are. Pain then becomes part of the continuum of our experience, but we are not confined to this one experience.

Living our multi-dimensional awareness, where is the sense of “me”? There may be the subtle feeling of “I” but the “me” is absent. And where does this sense of “I” resonate? The pronoun “I” resonates into and resides in the heart. And the heart is the last doorway to Self-realization-the final resting place where “I” dissolves back into its inherent nature before thought makes a division of two from the non-conceptual One.

Now we find ourselves open and aware, without judgment or intention. For awareness couldn’t care less what is in it. Awareness doesn’t say “Oooo, here’s a tree, let’s get rid of it.” Or “Here’s some anger, it shouldn’t be here.” Awareness allows everything to be, just as it is. So our motto well might be “And this is here, too. And this is here, too. And this is here, too.” No judgment, just “This is here, too”.

The ocean is much like awareness. The ocean doesn’t care what’s in it. Here is a log. Here is a fish. Here is some oil or toxic waste. Ultimately, as we are discovering, the ocean (nature) knows exactly what to do with whatever is present in it. And awareness knows exactly what to do with whatever arises in it.

As we live in and as awareness, we experience that everything arising in awareness is purified. Everything is born out of the fire of Awareness, has a lifetime of growth in awareness, and decays and dies back into Awareness. In Awareness there is no judgment for things to be different or other than as they are. Even the movement of judgment is allowed to be, just as it is.

And if you are concerned with judgment being allowed to be just as it is then I recommend you do it some time and watch what unfolds. For when a movement like judgment is met with the fire of Awareness, all mental movements of judgment collapse back into silence. Negative thought patterns have no hold when they arise in, and are met with, the full light of Aware-ness.

This is radical self-acceptance. Accepting things just as they are without any movement to make different. Accepting ourselves just as we are. And, in turn, accepting all the so-called others around us just as they are. And this is love, is it not.

When we live in accepting, at first the objects of the body, senses and mind are emphasized. But then comes a moment when all our outgoing energies make what I call the ‘Great Turn’. The movement of our outgoing attention towards the objects of the world turns back upon it-self and inquires into the very nature of itself. It inquires: “Who is the one who is looking? Who is the one who has been searching all this time?” And when awareness turns on itself, when listening listens to itself, when the one who is accepting turns upon itself, a collapse oc-curs from being a witness, from being a looker, to being witness-ing, and being look-ing.

We collapse from being aware into being aware-ness, being listen-ing, being accept-ing, where the split of beer and doer collapses into simply abiding as Be-ing and Do-ing, here and now with things just as they are. In this moment there is only accept-ing. Only be-ing. Only do-ing. Only hear-ing. Only see-ing. Only tast-ing. There is no acceptor, No be-er. No do-er. No hear-er. No se-er. No tast-er. In this moment, the mind, which had been doing the best that it knew how in a job it was totally incapable of handling, collapses and becomes still, quiet and at rest.

I was with a teacher, Dada, years ago. I had invited him to my yoga studio where he gave a beauti-ful talk on the teachings of non-dual awareness. During the talk, my mind became silent. Then, after awhile, my mind began to chatter away again, doing its ‘thing’. I asked Dada, “Your talk is so beautiful and I can feel the truth of what you are saying and its impact on my body. And my mind goes absolutely still. But then the mind begins to chatter away again. What are we supposed to do with this mind?” And Dada replied, “Have pity on the poor thing. It’s doing the best that it knows how.”

The mind is doing the best that it knows how. But it doesn’t have a clue. It’s trying to do some-thing that it wasn’t designed to do. The mind is engaged in a great search to find an object that will give it ultimate peace. It is trying to do a job that it’s unqualified for and it hasn’t been in-formed of this fact. The mind needs to be informed that it can’t accomplish what it is trying to do.

The mind will always fail at the quest to know the nature of Reality for all thinking is in split-mind. Until the mind is convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is totally unqualified for the job at hand, it will continue to fail. It has to! It is searching for the answer to a problem for which it hasn’t a clue! And each of us must come, eventually, to this doorway. We may come through frustration and despair, or through an apparently spontaneous opening. We may come through Yoga or Buddhism, Advaita or Dzogchen, Christianity or Judaism, through hatha, karma, Jñana, bhakti or through seva, but come we must to this threshold where the mind finally admits that it doesn’t know what to do. And in this moment we are truly open to the unknown. We are oriented in an attitude of listening. In fact, spiritual practice may be de-scribed as the art and science of listening, and silence is the ground in which listening takes root and blossoms.

This silence-Stillness-is not the absence of thought, feeling or sound. Conceptually, we may say it is the absence of the absence. Stillness is beyond the absence of objective silence. It is the essence of all that is-the ground we stand on and out of which everything arises. Like the pa-per behind the words on this page, or the space in which we sit, Stillness is always present, whether objective reality is present or absent. This Stillness is the homeground in which all movement, and non-movement, unfolds. It is by other names Consciousness, God, Divinity and Spirit.

In this moment, when Awareness turns and looks back at Itself, we stand before a mirror. And in this mirror, what was subject is now object. But this view is unsustainable. It is logical ab-surdity to think that the mind can turn and observe itself.

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and realized that someone is looking at you. You’re the object. You’re not the looker. You are the object of the looker. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and realize that somebody is looking at you. And ask the question, “How do you feel about me?” And let this looker tells its story about you. And when it’s done, you tell the looker how you feel about it. You tell this looker your story of how you feel about it. And when these two sides of the mirror have completely emptied out their stories, then stand and feel that this person in the mirror loves you unconditionally. When you are fully convinced of this fact, then look at the person in the mirror and love this person unconditionally. When this is accomplished, bring these two images together as one and realize this as the truth.

So, when this self-reflecting is sustained in the mirror of self-awareness, the conceptualizing split-mind, that projects ourselves out as being a separate self, collapses into being who we are as non-judging, all encompassing witnessing-awareness.

The image of Narcissus staring at his reflection is a useful metaphor that reflects the truth of what we are speaking of here. Narcissus is the common person, staring at his reflection, year-after-year self-absorbed in his individuality. But Narcissus fails to ask the vital question, “Who is looking at whom?” And in this failing, he never engages in the Great Turn of attention away from himself as an object and into the nature of himself as the seer of all that is being seen.

And this global, multi-dimensional outlook of witnessing-awareness heals the split-mind. Everything is purified in the fire of awareness. What were contradictions are now realized to be opposites. These opposites resolve into their complimentarities. And all complimentarities are realized to be non-separate expressions of a greater wholeness. Then, when this objective wholeness is realized to be but another complimentary unity of subject and object, everything collapses into wholeness and we find ourselves taken by Unity Awareness.

The beauty of witnessing is that it isn’t a strategy for getting better, or for changing ourselves. All strategies are a contraction; a going away from who-we-are as perfect in this moment. Wit-nessing is always prior to what is observed. Witnessing is not a strategy for letting go of our fragmentary outlook. Rather, it is the native disposition of Consciousness, the expression of God as God-in-and-as-a-body/mind.

Now we find ourselves standing not as a ‘we’, but as an ‘I-of-Vastness’ which includes every-thing. Nothing is rejected. All is welcomed. And through these eyes of Vastness, when they look out over the world of so-called objects, they see that everything is made of the same sub-stance, our lover, our enemies and friends, our children, and all of the objects of the world, animate and inanimate.

Looking through the eyes of not-otherness, the world is transformed-for who is there to hurt when all is ourself? Who is our enemy when they are ourself? Who is there to lie to or steal from when we are only lying to ourself and taking from our own hands? Non of this makes sense any longer. What does make sense is an overpowering feeling of compassion.

For when we understand that we are not separate-that there is no self separate from another, and that everything is made of the same substance, that everything is only God, only Con-sciousness, only Unified Wholeness-we are moved to act with a deep, abiding compassion. Self-realization is not a passive understanding. Unified Wholeness acts. It moves us out of bed and into action, into community, into helping-for help we must. There is no choice in this. You see Consciousness is greedy. It is the ultimate expression of greed for it is only concerned with Itself for there is only Itself. And act we must for it is the Totality acting unto itself. It is no longer a “me” who acts but the Unity of the Universe which is always and in all ways act-ing with and through these body-mind apparatuses.

And in this we understand that we do not ever see another. We are the other. We do not see the sun, we are the sun. We do not feel the earth, we are the earth. We do not see each other. We only and always are seeing ourselves in all things and all people. And in this simple, clear and unmistakable realization, we are transformed into the Universe. And in this instant all se-paration is undone. All fear comes to an end. All insecurity dissolves in a peace that surpasses mental understanding.

In this timeless Awareness we are Being-what-we-are and self and other are no longer sepa-rate. And inside and outside have no meaning. And in this timeless movement of recognition, where you are myself and I am yourself, and we are the Universe and the Universe is who we are, we can gently walk into the marketplace of this world and see and hear and taste and smell and feel that the world is entirely transformed by our doing nothing at all for it is not a ‘we’ who do, but Consciousness-God-that is always doing, for there is only Consciousness. There is only God.

And so, right here, and right now, in this instant, and during our spiritual practice and during our meditation, and during our interaction with our children, and with our lovers and with our friends in community, can we write on the tombstone of a ‘self’ that never existed “There is only Consciousness. There is only God. There is only One.”

And this is our spirituality of doing and being where there is no do-er and there is no be-er. There is no doing that belongs to a do-er and there is no being that belongs to a be-er. There is only non-conceptual being and doing which doesn’t belong to a separate individual. It never did and never will.

So I leave us with a final poem by Derek Walcott, the Caribbean poet and 1996 Nobel Prize winner for literature. This is a prayer not for the future, because when the future arrives, it will be now. So it is a poem of now, for all prayers are already-arrived realities. We will not be healed in the future. We are only and always healed now. We will not be Self-realized in the future, we are the Self, now.

I played a little game with my kids when they were just learning how to tell time. They would ask me, “Dad, what time is it?” I would reply, “It’s now.” And they would say, “Where are we?” And I would reply, “We’re here.” Wherever we go it will always be now and we will always be here. As they grew older they would eventually trick me. They would ask, “What time it is Dad?” and I would say, “3:30” and they would reply, “No, Dad, it’s now and we’re always here.”

Love after Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come, when,
with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror.
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, “Sit here. Eat. Relax.”
You will love again this stranger who is your Self.

Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart,
to itself,
to this stranger who has loved you
all your life,
whom you ignored for another,
but who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from your bookshelf,
the photographs and the desperate notes.
Peel your self-image from the mirror.
Sit. Be here, now, and feast on your life.
Fall in love again with your Self and with all of life.


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Written by Richard C. Miller PhD

Explore Wellness in 2021