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Setting full moon on Friday the 13th smallThere is a storm coming. The air has an edge to it. Before dawn, in the dark, pressure seems to build as the heavy clouds slide over the mountains. Sunlight is still hours away. The stars are gone forever. The night is filled with breezes, whispering through the blackness.  … soft, wet winds tumbling down the slopes and over the sand which shines in the broken moonlight, rustling the desert sage and sweetening the air. There is a storm coming.

No real light yet. Nothing to pull the day apart, until the sun begins to break up the landscape. Pieces of the full moon flicker here and there, but never last long. From oceans on the other side of the world, water rolls around the planet. I am here, now, waiting for the rain.

The wind whistling across the sand is gaining weight. Tall palm trees, silhouetted against flashes of white light, bend in deference. Above, the darkness is separating into shades. Ribbons of the lightest blue ripple across the sky, behind huge chunks of grey. The whole world seems to be opening up, as if nature itself were about to break. As the early slivers of sunlight, seemingly carried on the wind, pierce the blackness, a sky appears, from nowhere.

The rush of light is interrupted on its travels, bounced and bullied by big, black clouds. The rain is about to take over. As light, here and there, falls across the landscape, a shine, a sudden reflection is caught in the distance. Far away, in the middle of it all, some lines …  a shape assembles out of nature’s mess.

By the horizon leans a battered billboard, crippled by the weather. Letters from words litter what is left of the face, between bits of a faded picture or two. A bent structure, like the trees, submitting to mighty mother nature. There were colors there once upon a time. All that’s left doesn’t belong. A signpost to another time. Only after it failed to work, did I realize it was a manufactured self.

The sky broke open and the oceans poured new life onto the earth. Shining balls of water blow across the emerging landscape, leaving nothing visible for long. Rain in the desert, light in the dark. Standing up to it can only last for a little while. In the big picture, no pattern stays the same or it wouldn’t be a pattern. Everything starts over, except for what I keep in mind for next time.


Sunrise over Salt Valley small

Let’s be clear. There is only now.

The illusion about Time is that there is a behind and a forward at all. What was and what will be is in front of us now. Time is a dimension … less obvious than those dimensions in space … more like those dimensions of electromagnetism. I can be in Time and out of Time. Time appears when I measure it and disappears when I don’t. Time is in motion, like everything else. Even when we keep Time, we have to move. The ‘present’ doesn’t stop Time. It is all Time, all at once.

Past and Future are projections from the present. What was and what will be are relative to where-ever and when-ever I happen to be at the moment. Both change as the present changes. The ‘past’ is a kaleidoscope of after-effects etched on to the senses. The ‘future’ tries to fill the gaps. Memories and wishes only happen now. We have strapped our senses to an imaginary ‘timeline’ because it works to exercise intentions and put things on order. Our current concept of Time is a survival tool. Everything, all at once, doesn’t work for us. We want things one after another. Eyes get used to seeing certain stuff and let the rest flow by.

The subject-verb-object structure that we use to organize information – I do this to that … and that is all there is to it – comes in handy but it is only the tip of the iceberg. In a universe of nine dimensions, for example, our grammar would only cover the first four. It is simply delusional to think that all we see is all there is. Where we are is just a matter of focus.

I am a believer in mental exercise. Thought experiments. For years I practiced seeing ‘Time’ as ‘To me’. I think it might have something to do with a book I read by Robert Ornstein. I still do it once in a while, as a reminder. Time is an extension of experience, not a thing all on its own. There is nothing if it’s not ‘to me’.

Another thought experiment: a proton sitting on the crest of a light wave would take 13.8 billion years to cross the universe as we know it at the moment, from the point of view of earth. From the point of view of the proton, no time would have passed at all. It would all be the same space. Time and space drape over the observer.

By now, I have learned that I am some sort of constant in all this… I have been there from the beginning. Same me at seven years old, hiding the knife I stole so my Dad won’t find it. Same me at 23, driving up the 405 on a Saturday morning to get married … at 36, jumping with joy at the birth of my sons … at 69, overwhelmed with sadness at the death of my brother … at this moment watching for the sun to rise on to the San Jacinto mountains. I will be the same when I die. I just won’t know it anymore. I will be out of time.

“Time is nature’s way to keep everything from happening all at once”, wrote Ray Cummings. In fact, everything does indeed happen all at once. Moment to moment, it’s all there. An ‘observer’, some one separate, is necessary for anything to ‘happen’ at all. In the right brain, everything appears immediately … each moment there is an experience without an observer. In the left brain, we are disposed to chunk the world up into manageable pieces, to take control. We learn to choose between things. We can spend a lifetime, separating out a self. We discovered Time as a cycle, but we invented Time as a straight line, choosing to see only parts of the periodicity, in order to keep track of things, in order to separate here from there and me from you … in order to have any order at all.

With my left brain, I create a point in space by singling out information from the field in front of me. As soon as I do that, I create a circumstance when the point wasn’t there. That becomes a moment in time. Awareness that the point wasn’t there implies that it could not be there again. That becomes the future. Any point without a past and a future has no name. For it to endure, I must call it something. Pull it out of the flow. Left-brain names drop the thing into Space-Time, but only work for a while. The right brain is needed to connect the dots. We can never name everything, so it’s all going to change.

There must be a moment between one thing and anything else. A moment creates a difference. Time is space. Space is time. Now is everywhere. Then has no place. When one loses track of time, one loses track period. Time is required to create a line. In the short term, lines can lead to places. But eventually, every line becomes a circle. In fact, it was circles of stones that marked the pattern that became Time in the first place. People realized that something invisible was going on. Time could be represented. In space. As a rhythm.

When all the information comes at once, we are swept away and identities are lost. We must pick and choose where we pay attetion.  For identities to persist in the flow, they take time. Any ‘thing’ takes time. And that is the illusion. The chair I am sitting in today is not actually the same chair I sat in yesterday, not exactly. And it will not be the same chair tomorrow, if it is there at all. To keep order, I must pretend certain things stay the same, including people. Before time, everything is possible. In time, it can only be this or that.


Time is required for awareness. It requires a moment to distinguish one thing from another. Same moment, same thing. If there is no time involved, I am that thing. After distinguishing one thing from another, we can begin calculating … numbers come into play. It’s easy to forget that we are making it up. The ‘thing’ starts in here, not out there.

We invent a staircase and then get lost on the stairs.


I am by no means qualified to talk about real fear – the terror that is war and imminent death. Life-threatening situations don’t call for much discussion. I cannot imagine such terror and I am infinitely grateful for not having experienced that, except in dreams. At those times when I have come close, real fear has been an overwhelming sensation, driving me to immediate action. Fortunately, for most of us, those situations are few and far between. But they do happen and they make an impression.

The fear I am writing about is the generalized fear that seeps into the mind and colors the point of view. The fear that lingers, just in case. The sound of the unknown. The silent lessons about not to go here or there. Invisible detours and bends in the road that push and pull like a current, just below the senses … fear that can lead to an overall sense of helplessness and disappointment with the world.

A couple of summers ago, I was hiking in Glacier National Park, looking for a waterfall to photograph. I came across a stream below the waterfall that tumbled into a deep blue pool. In order to get the shot I wanted, I had to cross the stream at a lower point. There was a log that reached out part of the way. I would have to step out on that log, holding on to an overhead branch, and then lurch forward with a long step and grab onto a branch on the other side. Momentum would carry me across. There was a time, back in the day, when I would not have given that gap a second thought.

At nearly 70 years old, however, I did not feel quite so cavalier. I knew my physical abilities weren’t what they once were … I also knew confidence was the key … apprehension was the enemy … it was as though I couldn’t help myself. I short-armed my reach and slipped into the water. A lack of commitment. A failure of imagination.

This is the way fear creeps in.

It only takes one genuine fight or flight response to etch a template onto the nervous system. I was seriously bitten by a dog when I was five. I have never really been a dog fan. Real fear marks the spot. Whatever happens, I don’t want to go there again. Soon the map is littered with spots to avoid. It becomes a pattern. Better to avoid the whole thing. The brain is built to generalize.

There is no dispute about actual fear when it happens. What I am pointing to is the fear that lingers, like a soft light, outlining life with flickering shadows. I have met people who seem to be afraid of everything. They want to stick with whatever it was they remember being safe with, way back when. Not going anywhere, not doing anything, not even thinking differently, means it can’t get worse. Such people tremble at ideas. I can remember, when I was young, actually being afraid to think this or that thing … as if a black hole lurked at the back of my mind.

Fear works by inhibiting our reach.

We develop elaborate stories to explain the opportunity cost.

Fear becomes a habit … or rather, the behavior that was energized by the fear becomes a habit. I forget why I do what I do. I lose sight of the way fear has managed my expectations. Too often, fear has insinuated its way into situations I find ‘good enough’. I can feel a bit helpless when I see how fear has diluted my thinking. Eventually I realize that it’s always been that way … it is a part of life. Loss leaves a mark.

Generalizing that reaction, that fear of mistakes … that fear of tearing a precious mental picture … the lurking eruption of the unknown … has held me back sometimes – “I don’t want to go that way again.” (Already expecting the feeling to be exactly the same). In a flash, I project the whole story before it happens. That is the fear I am talking about here. A slight shortness of breath, a subtle apprehension that wakes up with me like a mist in the morning and floats into the nooks and crannies throughout the day … a threshold that is poked by the unexpected. Eventually I developed a way of seeing that takes my timidity into account. I am not so much open to anything as I am looking to validate a certain point of view.

I have grown familiar with fear. Little bells rattling in the background. My skin starts to tingle when the uncertainty becomes too much. Oddly, I like that state, when my thinking wobbles. I like how it challenges my commitment to a certain point of view. The apprehension reminds me not to come up short. There is no point in trying to avoid something that is not actually happening. Why do I do that? What am I getting ready for? By experiencing the mental tremble, it flows away and eases the tightness in my mind.

Because fear has its origins in reality, it too often becomes an excuse. I still find it legitimate to decide not to do something ‘because something about it doesn’t feel right …’. It can be convenient not to sort out ‘I don’t think I should’ from ‘I don’t want to’. Sometimes I have secretly blamed fear for something I just didn’t want to do.

Biology has a lot to do with it too. We are creatures of the earth. Emotions are intended to be expressed. Unexpressed feelings pile up in the body. Timid heads are pulled into shoulders, bellies surround vulnerable hearts, stifled punches ache. Fear can build a shell. Safer that way. When bodies undergo physical therapy, like deep massage, a lifetime of emotions can be released … a living record of ‘keeping things to myself’.

This fear must be approached gently. But it must be approached. Otherwise, I am bound by circumstances I do not understand. Too many decisions are made out of fear. I am learning to live with uncertainty. It’s easier, now that I am older, my reach no longer needs to exceed my grasp. But I did not always recognize it, when fear rose its head back in the day: fear of being excluded, fear of being weak, fear of not being worthy. Fear can be crippling.

However, looked at rightly, fear produces a hero. This is the destiny of every person. This is what all the stories are about. How sure do I really want to be about what will happen next? There’s a good chance that fear will pop up, whatever I do, to test my better nature. Everyone’s story is to rise above it.

Without the tension created by duality, a certain languor can set in. While I’m alive, I will never be sure for long. Like everything else – I may not be able to change the thing, but I can always change my reaction to the thing. My reaction is the way I see it. That changes almost daily. I have to make an effort to keep it the same.

Looking back, I can see how I sought the tension, the vitality that accompanies fear. There has to be a wrong side for there to be an edge. Seems to me I looked for that line right out of the gate. In an odd way, I feel more myself in those situations. I feel called upon. More fully here now.

Trepidation is a rhythm that threads through life. Fear is a sense. Like seeing infra-red or ultra-violet. Like intuition. Fear usually does not mean cut and run any more. These days. fear usually means an idea is threatened. Perhaps it is best to let that idea go. We are bound to explore these edges … in order to get to the essence of who we are, that fear must be gently unwrapped.

As we get older, it falls to us to refine everything – our surroundings, our feelings, our minds … our point of view. Refining fear is on that agenda. Disappearing fear is a fool’s errand. Pretending fear is not a part of life is just patching up the tapestry. Finding a working relationship with fear can produce the here and now in all its splendor. The story is as old as words themselves. To be a hero, to become myself, fear is where I want to go.


Love is joining.  It is an illusion that Love is a noun … as if it were out there somewhere. It’s really a verb. Love is dynamic … something going on, not something just sitting there. Love is movement, an experience, an action, a happening. Love is an event. An interaction. Love is the primal experience of two becoming one. This is the very first experience of awareness. It takes a little longer in life to learn that I am not what I see.

When I love, I match a vibration. While resonating, I disappear. My point of view is lost. Love is the awareness of an energy than runs everywhere, all the time. I don’t see that energy, I become it. Love is the quantum wave, before it collapses. Something that is everywhere is also nowhere. That’s why Love is so easy to come across and so hard to lose. Love fills every space … every nook and cranny. There is nowhere to be outside of.

For myself, I believe we are destined to be the front of that love in this world, the wind that bends the grass … the part that shows … both in terms of generation and individual growth. As above, so below. We emerge from Love and we return to Love … in between, we chunk life up like a deck of cards and get lost in the shuffle. Love itself has nothing to do. Love doesn’t mind. Love is kind without conditions.

I am an energy, bottom line. Love is a reminder. I am not just this body, not even just these thoughts. An energy flows through my awareness, out of which I have shackled a personality … a way to be … mentally and emotionally pushing and pulling …shunting an identity into place to deal with the slings and arrows. In essence, I am nothing you can point to. I am what I do. With my behavior, I trace patterns onto the bigger picture. In the bigger picture, what I do is the real face of who I am. It is not all about time and space.

Being loved is clearly the foundation to one life and all lives. Unconditional love leaves me with nowhere else to go, nothing else to have … no one else to be. At any given moment, I fit in with everything. Building an identity requires separations. Conjuring up a place in this world leaves me feeling automatically incomplete, since I have a point of view … seeing some things and not others. Incompleteness is the human condition. But we see the grass bend. We know the wind is there.

Unconditional love is the beginning and end of everything, leaving me free to wander. I bash around, bumping into things, until I get the message: I come from there – I don’t have to do anything to deserve it. I have the opportunity to represent it, but it doesn’t work to apply conditions.

This is the inspiration woven into the best of our music, art and poetry. Joining … completion … is the ultimate theme. Even mathematics now reveals a mystical fabric to reality that appears to be everywhere, all the time. Our stories are of our own making, shuffling the shadows of shapes our better selves sense around us. It takes time because we insist on making up our own minds. We have to get past the words.

O White

I have to step away from love for a while, if I want to get anything done. To have an effect, to make a difference … I have to feel separate in the first place, in order to operate. Otherwise, who is doing what? Awareness itself depends on leaving Everything behind for a while and developing a point of view. Seeing this and not that. Giving up the big picture for a bit.

Love completes the circle. It is an experience of the whole moment. Everything is here, now … in motion. Love is the flow. As soon as it’s measured, the wave becomes a particle, subject to conditions. Although love is there all the time, it is not something I can keep. Holding the current, pooling love up in a place, never lasts for long. To be with everything that is, I must leave everything that was behind. There can be no names. It’s simple really. Love wants me to be who I am. Who I am is much more than my little picture of me.


Fool 1 small

I do have ideas about what’s going to happen next. It seems to depend on what I’m looking for. I have intentions and expectations … it is relative to them that I decide what’s happening. I can’t take myself and my habits out of the picture. I have a point of view, but the future has a will of its own, undecided until the moment something happens.

What’s next is all about probabilities, according to Quantum Physics. Some probabilities are high and some are low, but nothing is certain. I clearly recall a physics professor at UCLA telling us that all the air in the room could collect in the corner at any moment … “it’s not likely”, he said, “but it could happen”. We are actually taking the whole world on faith. It is important to start here.

Traditionally, we use faith as a tool, to manage the future. How do we deal with our intuition that the unexpected is going to happen, sooner or later? We foster an attachment to the bigger picture. This approach, trading on beliefs to leapfrog the hills and valleys of experience, relies – like everything else – on seeing things a certain way. That way is meant to transcend the individual ‘parts’ of my experience, connecting me to a larger whole, enabling me to ride out the bumps. I will realize my part in that bigger picture. One day. This works for many people … God bless them … but it never worked for me.

I found myself getting twisted up, bending beliefs to fit this or that experience that seemed to contradict what I expected. Because the background is about possibilities, there are always exceptions to any rule. Anything could be. When I was growing up, I spent years and years looking for the rule that would cover it all. That can’t happen. Rules also introduce what is not. The illusion about rules is that they corral all the possibilities. What faith really is, is the perception of a way to mirror that bigger picture, too small and too big to be parsed in words.

One way to build an island in the torrent of information that rushes by us every day is to name things and practice seeing them the same way. Another is just to be anxious all the time, so that we are ready for catastrophe. Most of us choose not to look too closely, while there’s business to take care of. Still, it’s impossible to be one person for a lifetime without having faith in something.

To me, faith is the answer, but not in the way that first comes to mind. Faith is not Hope.

I have found that the way to go is not to have faith in Someday, Somewhere, but to be faithful now … right now … to this moment. Be faithful to the urge to be yourself. Be faithful to what is flowing from the heart. Like water is faithful to gravity, like seeds are faithful to the seasons, I am learning to be faithful to who I am.

Faith is not an awesome, life-time effort to reach Heaven. Faith is feeling the integrity between one moment and the next. It is perception of a pattern that is unique because it includes a place for the observer. Faith is acting in accord with intentions. Faith is meaning what I say, being true to my word. Faith, I can practice at every moment, expressing what I believe to be true. Faith brings me out into the world. Now.

Sometimes I don’t know if something is true or not, until I say it. I’m not proud of that, but that’s the way it is. Thoughts left alone in my head gain grandeur quickly. To me, that’s what words (and friends) are for … to refine our experience. It’s a mistake to use words to box up experience and keep it for a rainy day.

Faith is a bridge between the senses. A diligent observer begins to see shapes in the frequencies that draft the probabilities. The waves that lap at the edge of awareness seem to have a direction … but they also flow where you look. A belief is an attempt to keep them there when you look away. Faith is the assumption that I am part of the flow. I don’t have to stop and look. I don’t have to keep anything.

There is more going on in life than meets the eye. Anyone who has been through it knows that. After a while, each of us has had a chance to catch a glimpse. The question becomes, how do we get between the peeks?

The answer is that peaks and valleys are the ways things work in this world. There is no one without the other. If you’re someone like me, you sometimes struggle against that situation. Ups and downs are a pain in the ass. Nevertheless, if I want to feel something, I have to not-feel something else. If I want to think something, I have to not-think something else. If I want to be something …. That is the way this world works.

My own faith is in the experience of a background to all this, out of which what we collect with our limited senses emerges. I was led to this in a practical way …. Learning over the years how words are draped over reality to make it useful. I am lucky enough to have had a handful of experiences I can’t explain that seem to be connected to something more than ‘me’ … at those times it was clear, I just had to have faith in how I felt at the time. There was no way to explain it. (Although I have trying ever since).

I realized, in my quiet moments, that I could let go of everything … not hold on at all … and I would still be there. I was more than I think I am … as cliché as that might sound. ‘I’ was open-ended. I was whatever was coming next. If that sort of thing happens too often, one can lose one’s bearings. But once in a while is heartening.

My own faith is that there’s really nothing to keep and nowhere to go. It’s all here now. We have conjured this all up. It will all pass. We have over-laid a completely made-up pattern on a universe that won’t sit still. That’s just my point of view. Each of us sees life in a unique way. To me, the energy wrapped up in beliefs matches the energy released by letting go. Not letting go takes little faith and requires serious habits to keep that energy in check. Letting go makes room for what is happening now.

If I am faithful to something, I am attaching myself to it, replicating its pattern in some way. In this manner, we are faithful to our upbringing and faithful to our intentions. One person alone can be faithful to his or her hopes and dreams but if we are to live together, our destiny must be to be faithful to our words. Once words lose their tenuous relationship with the truth, it is every perceiver for themselves. Which is where we find ourselves these days. It becomes a challenge to be faithful to my idea of me as words lose their meaning.

Pascal wrote that faith is like a wager – what do you have to lose? I am saying that faith is an experience, an intuition – a perception that comes with practice. It is a signal in the noise. There is a sense for when I am being true to myself. How can becoming myself not be the thing to do?

The reality that nothing is certain requires faith in something, to get from moment to moment, since nothing actually stays the same. The fact that some things are more probable than others suggests that we should pay attention to what appears to be going on, because everything is going somewhere. The first thing we do as babies is reach. As we grow, reaching also requires letting go. Faith is the only way from here to there, if we insist on going somewhere. There is a background to change, otherwise no difference would be noticed. Faith can reveal the slightest breeze in that background … the faintest whisper … of that which is behind everything. That place is not somewhere, one day. That place is Here. Now.

What light? Where?

I so often forget that there is a way to do things. If I pay attention, I can sense what is good for me. That is, I can see which way my spirit wants to go. My behavior is trial and error, but I recognize what fits when I come across it. Something matches, inside and out. Something resonates. The sound rings deeper when it is good for more than just me. Whole civilizations lived this way. Once upon a time.

The assumption that I am born into this world with a certain identity and a duty to hammer the Outside into shape is an out-dated model. Identities are passing attempts to pile things in a certain order, to stiffen against the inevitable seasons of life. It is a struggle to make, and keep, the world the right size. Naming things helps, for a while.

After 70 years, I have shed several identities like old skins, as awareness wakes up and I realize my intentions. The lesson of the way is that light does not appear unless it encounters an obstacle, water is not water unless it too encounters resistance, even if it is only by gravity. Spirit works the same way. All I can see is the reflection. In reality, there is no separating this from that. It is a device we invented. The way is to go with the flow.

The good and the bad about being human is that we get used to things quickly. Time loses its meaning, if it weren’t for the seasons. It doesn’t take long to forget something is there. By the time I am learning to talk, chunking the world up in words, I am also developing habits. I build a mental pattern that I then project, soon mistaking it for the world itself. For example, I might come to believe it’s all subject-verb-object as I learn to speak, and simply not see that operations work the other way as well. There are always consequences. The world always acts back. I will forget all these initial choices in order to move on. To be productive, I put aside the reality that I might be making it all up. I think it’s ‘out there’ and so I think I need to do something with my hands to control it.

Each experience just becomes a brick in the road to somewhere. As I lose the stimulation that comes with something new, what I imagine to be at the end of the road becomes extraordinarily important. Even if I never get there, I will identify myself by the effort. This is because I am losing the full effect of the moment. I get used to what I think is living. And disappear into my habits.

The way is not to take things for granted.

Habits decrease my response-ability, but they wrap the world up in a way I can deal with. This includes habits of seeing, feeling and thinking. A habit is important for what it does not include. A key part of this process is not to be aware of it. To forget. If I were, all of a sudden, accountable for my projections on the world, I would be paralyzed by mystery and confusion, overwhelmed by the information. I have been through those times when my private assertions about the world were so rattled that I had to stop and sit, for quite a while, until I found another way to look at things.

When I get used to something, it loses its value. I have a diminished response to it. That is necessary, in order to add the next thing, but diminished response itself can become a habit … in order to stop losing that sense of value all the time. What does habituation to rush-hour traffic do to a person over time?  We all know what happens in a relationship when one begins taking the other for granted.

Most of us have sensed that there is a value that reaches beyond description. We have had a feeling of being ‘in the zone’, at a loss for words. This is the way. These moments actually happen often, usually when we’re not looking. I stop for a moment, put what first comes to mind aside, open a space and see what comes up. More than likely, it doesn’t make the usual sense. It tumbles and splashes. I let it be, resisting the temptation to jam a label on it and relate it to the past. In that way, I am just a witness.

Water and rock smallAn aggressive, willful style of thinking stamps things with words and shuffles them until the stuff is in line. This never lasts. Spirit, like water, is not meant to be contained. It has no shape. Staying in one place for long, it will stagnate. The ‘zone’ is beyond the individual pools. The actual way is impossible to get used to.

Habits establish islands in the river of life. Identities. Rituals. Customs. As I barge about, being some things and not others, I inevitably run into contradictions. In order to manage this process, it helps to be like the water – apparently submissive but ultimately victorious – softly persistent, bending to the shape of the obstacle, flowing around it and eventually eroding it away. The way is to dilute the confrontation., knowing the direction of the background works in my favor, because I am headed the same way.

We all just do what we can. That is the way. If I can do it and I don’t, I have no reason to complain. I suspect that’s why I limit my perception of myself … keeping my potential under the hood. If I know I can do it and I don’t, I fall into a world of blame.

The whole business of labelling things has reached its peak and is now failing us. Words have been detached from reality by the current leader of the free world. The ultimate loophole – the whole world of words is just made up – is being exploited to the hilt. We have to find another way to see what we are doing here. The larger reality will not fit into this vocabulary. Grammar is necessary to construct this and that, but it has overlaid a pattern on experience that is losing its usefulness because of the abuse. Words no longer align with Nature. The veil is being pulled back or rather … torn to shreds.

We stand in awe, speechless, when faced with the truth. That reverence has to be what is coming next. The secret of the language that began with how to use tools is out … it’s all just made up. More and more of us are having that feeling these days. As language is divorced from reality, a non-dual, ungrammatical background is peeking through. Even the finest words can only point. This might save us. This is the way.

If we don’t return to meaning what we say, the social structures we have built this time around will collapse. Everything will fall apart if we are not in accord with the other 99.999999% of the universe. A light goes on in the mind of a child when he or she finds out they can lie. That light causes the first internal shadows. Our challenge has always been to get beyond that.

We will lurk in the shades of spirit until we acknowledge again that there is nothing we can keep, except our word. This is an ancient lesson. Old habits die hard. Individually and together, we need to reconnect the invisible world with the words that are supposed to represent it, one at a time if necessary. This is integrity. This is the way.


We are Divine. We do not have to qualify for Heaven. As a whole, we do not understand unconditional love. Divinity is completeness … there is nothing else, anywhere else … for a moment. The usual senses are more than full. Why this has been difficult for us to manage is that this lack of separation includes the observer … there is no one seeing or doing, so there is nothing seen or done. Religious history is a litany of attempts to deify something, anything, in order to keep Divinity under control. That can’t be done.

oliver small
Dave on the Oregon beach 1 small

What do we know? It’s about spirit – something invisible. We know it’s extreme at the good end. We know it’s unsullied by human efforts. We know it’s something that’s the same in both these pictures of my grandson and me.

People who encounter divinity seem to realize it, even if they haven’t seen it before. They are immediately at a loss for words. It is another sense … beyond grammar. Babies are holy, in the old sense of the world word. The original meaning of ‘holy’ conveyed untouched, undivided, pure. Heaven arriving on Earth. From there, it is up to us.

Our world word must become fit to receive these divine creatures. So far, we have not done well. We bend and twist the being of the developing person to fit in the cracks and crevices allowed by the current culture. We don’t have time for what the baby may bring. History dictates that we stuff him or her full of our own past, instead of appreciating a new soul. In our hearts, we all want to do better.

Growing up is not a straight line. It is not a line at all. It is an opening. Every living body in Nature does the same thing – opens up to what’s available, eventually becoming its surroundings. Going straight … keeping … assigns life to the countryside, viewed through the window of a passing train. We start handling things, worrying about this and that, hurrying here and there, and we lose track of the sacred. We’re pretty sure we can get by without it.

I have a fond memory of stopping a kiva in Colorado. I was in my early 20’s, driving alone to Aspen to play in a rugby tournament. I had taken acid and was appreciating the wonders of Monument Valley. I saw a sign for an authentic Pueblo experience and it felt like just the ticket. The kiva was a round, empty building, about the size of a big house, a hundred and fifty feet across. There was no one else around.

As I stepped slowly into the center, under the huge roof, I could hear my weight press on the sand, almost grain by grain. I took a seat in the middle of round rows that climbed up the sides. I could feel the silence. It felt like glass, along which I heard an echo, a rustle, as clearly as if it were right beside me. Across the building, forty yards away, a little bird had flown in through an opening. I heard each beat of its wings and every scratch of its tiny feet. When it flew away, I felt it leave … a slight pulling in the air. This was a space of a special kind, resonating with something inside me, drawing me out, melting my identity. I had the same feeling standing in the middle of Canterbury cathedral. Sacred places are entrances into something more than life itself and reminders of an ancient, subtle sense that connects us all.

There is a vibration that is divine … in which we all find accord. It is a sense that seems to come from everywhere at once, removing the observer, taking me out of my self. For most of my life, I have been way too busy arranging the bits and pieces to pay much attention to the song playing in the background. In order to take care of business, it often works better to ignore the sound of the sacred altogether. A whisper of something more can be annoying, while I’m trying to get busy. I have often been just that kind of idiot who turns my conscience into elevator music.

Divinity loses respect in the word world because it isn’t predictable. The very act of looking changes the equation. In order for the experience to be relied upon, we have to stamp it on stuff and leave reminders all over the place. But then we project the experience on the reminders and feel helpless to do anything about it ourselves. This is how we explain things.

Thought experiment: imagine that a perception, an idea or a thought is a collapse of the wave function in the quantum field. This would imply that a mind is a connection to everything that flows beneath time and space. If what is divine is beyond time and space, then consciousness fits the bill. We should be more thoughtful.

This is the gift that the baby does not know what to do with … as if anything had to be done. Given even odds, the child will grow in harmony with its surroundings and will learn one day that he or she has something to bring. Everyone will do something eventually. Inspiration will lead to individuation. Imitation will lead to that Passenger feeling. Both can be considered happiness. Not everyone wants to be different … even though they are.

That Divinity would be ordinary sounds like a paradox, but we don’t have to worry about that. It is only ordinary for nuns, monks and saints. Personally, I have at times been so far from aligning with the Divine that I believed I would never get back. Now that I’m older and no longer taking care of business, I more often feel like a part of what’s going on behind the scenes.. Going beyond the word world no longer dis-assembles my day. I have time for reflection.

Everything that lasts … the experience of what lies behind the words … was never mine to keep. That is me shining through the eyes of my grandson. I did what I could with it and now it’s his turn. What his world will look like, fifty years from now ,,, what words they will use … is impossible to imagine because everything changes so quickly these days. Perhaps he will have a picture of his grandson and we will all still be there. Identities come and go. Souls are forever.


I have been on the road for more than three years now. From the bold sunshine in San Diego and the dusty desert around Palm Springs, through the green pine forests, by the blue rivers and over the snow-capped mountains of the Northwest.Eagle fishing I took pictures of eagles while I was cruising in a boat off the west coast of Vancouver Island. My little RV disappeared in the glacier-carved canyons of British Columbia. I lost the sun in the eclipse, looking from the frozen lava flows in Idaho and struggled to find it again through the smoke from huge fires in Montana and Wyoming.

Etna StatuesAfter completing the circle through the Northwest twice, I have settled down in the places I like the most. For the summer, I have been staying in Etna, California, thirty miles south of the Oregon border. Etna is incredibly beautiful. The town lies in a deep green valley, but still 3000 feet up, with little rivers running everywhere. The mountains that surround the valley seal it off from the outside world. Deer cross through downtown on a regular basis. Hay is bailed in fields everywhere. The air is sweet and fresh. It is warm and quiet. At this time of year, the blackberries are growing all over the place.

Dutch FlatIn the Fall and Spring, I retreat to Dutch Flat, north of Sacramento. Up in the Sierras, esp. on the edge of the seasons, the air is crisp and full of potential. The blues and greens are sharp and energetic. The weather has a presence every day. For me, it feels like a threshold to greater mysteries.

In the winter, I stay near the Salton Sea, just south of Palm Springs. The desert is a contrast. So much more is left to the imagination. Grapevines grow in January down there. The San Jacinto mountains keep the storms away, for the most part. The geese stop by for a couple of days, on their way somewhere.  Warm winter days, cool winter nights. I have always loved the seasons, but these days being cold is no longer a thrill. My old bones welcome the steady, warm embrace of Southern California.

Dawn on snowy San Jacinto mountains smallI have realized that it’s not one thing that makes life worthwhile, it’s all of it. Any one experience is defined in terms of all the other experiences. Any one thing fades. Nothing could stand alone – there would be no contrast, no background against which the figure could stand out. There is no size to anything, unless it is compared to something else. What it is compared to is what went before.

In the last year, my brother died and my grandson was born. That is the bigger picture, in terms of hills and valleys. I can only use words that once applied to the landscape to metaphorically describe an invisible world beyond my senses. The experience is the same. The nervous system doesn’t know the difference.

People and Rocks smallAt 70 years old, I am seeing friends die once in a while. That puts it all in perspective. Whole lifetimes linger in the mind. I begin to think about what I am leaving behind. There is no way to know how it all adds up. All I am aware of is that I gave it my best shot, expressing all I could think of. I believe that’s why we’re here – to add imagination to the circumstances.

My earliest memories of being around others are of being in the classroom in South Australia. I was six years old. I sat in the back of the rows of desks. Another boy and I would compete on filling out math problems on cards. The cards were piled on a table at the front of the classroom. When we each finished one card successfully, we would race up to the front table and get the next card. We called it “doing our sums”. Sums were math in those days.

In reality, we are constantly summing things up, revising the bottom line. Our awareness is actually a running total of experience. By adding things up, we can project a bigger picture. Perhaps even one we haven’t seen yet … for which we will have to use the words for things we have seen already. I don’t see inner experience as a bunch of different streams, feelings flowing this way and that. Inner experience is an accumulation of all that has been felt at any given time. Each moment is a current, flowing with everything up to now. The shape of Now reflects all that went (and didn’t go) before. I am an accumulation. What you see is how it adds up so far.

Just as my outer body is a visible running total of my biological interactions in life, my past thoughts and feelings are resulting in my experience now. The history is unrecoverable. Here, now, is the edge of everything that went before … like the last ring in a tree-trunk, the flower in the Spring, the stream after a snowfall or like the stars in the sky

There is just one experience. This one. Now. It is made of everything.



A word is designed to keep a thing the same, while time flows around it. I name it so that it will be there tomorrow … and the next day. All kinds of plans can be made once we use the word instead of the thing. For centuries this has been handy.

Still, we have all been let down by words. Whatever I call it, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Eventually we all run up against the realization that the word is not the thing, the map is not the territory. The relationship between words and reality is a percentage game. Politicians take advantage of that fact. “That’s not what I would call it!” is the beginning of most arguments.

In another life, I used to begin General Semantics classes with a question: “If I tell you that the trees outside are purple”, then what do you know?” It would take some time to sort through the alternatives, before everyone agreed that the only thing to be known was that I said that – nothing more about the trees outside or imagining what was going on in my mind. We have become so enamored by the power to produce a world with words that we are losing the connection to reality. Grammar that was once the engine of civilization now lies like wreckage along the side of the road. Critical thinking is lost in the mess.

The problem now, in 2019, is that words are losing their value. The current leader of the free world needs words to lose their significance … because most of the words about him are bad. He treats words as he treats other agreements, as if reality were arbitrary. trump wants that arbitrariness … the fact that what you say about something doesn’t really matter because the map is not the territory… to overwhelm the folks less able to think for themselves, so that they will turn to him as savior. Rather than lifting people up, he wants to drag them down to his level.

When the words stop meaning anything, we will be back where we began. We will have to start over. No one will trust words for a while. Eventually, everyone will keep their word again. Language will once more become a bond instead of a breaker. That’s the only way we will survive. We will always be vulnerable to the con artist – one who doesn’t mean what he or she says. What makes words work, like money, is their agreed-upon meaning. This is a social contract and ultimately relies upon the goodwill of everyone involved. Such a world has always been vulnerable to those who just pretend.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Words are being twisted and torqued into meaningless piles of selfish dribble. When words are no longer trusted, only action will remain as an outlet for personal expression. Un-labelled emotion bursting forth is the stuff of revolution. trump is what we’re left with when words don’t mean anything anymore. And clearly trump is failing.

For the abstract words like Justice and Freedom to mean anything, if there is to be a difference between Good and Bad, concrete words must begin to make sense again. Language must once more be supported by the facts. Only when we trust what we can see, will we reach again for the invisible. There is no sense to the future if we don’t return to meaning what we say.

Small Joy

‘Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive laughter weeps.”         William Blake.

Oregon Beach 4As I get older, I appreciate more the ordinary things: the deep blue sky in the morning, a cool breeze off the mountains or a rising star at night. I am more acutely aware that those things will not be around forever … or I will not be around to experience them. Joy may be a special feeling, but it is not that unusual. Joy is available in everything, whenever I stop taking my experience for granted.

These days, avoiding a fall when I get up out of a chair can be a thrill. An egg sandwich with HP sauce starts the day off well for me. Arriving for the train as it is pulling into the station, tells me I am in harmony with the world. A rainstorm blows quickly through the desert, waking everything up. A glass is caught as it falls off the table. A friend or family member calls unexpectedly. There is one drink of cold water left in the fridge. Another day without falling off the edge of the world. Life is sustained by small joy.

Too often these moments of quiet union with life are lost in the drive to get ahead, to manage the world, to stake and protect a claim. Little bits of bigger feeling slip in here and there, but they are lost in the Machine. Seeing the world in a grain of sand doesn’t pay the bills. I have a job to do. For me, it is only after I feel like that job is done (going to the store, raising a family, building a career, etc.) that I let the grammar go, falling back into the moment, to be swept around by the polarities of life.

The opportunities for appreciation are everywhere, all the time. I realize that just waking up in the morning, now that I am 70 years old, is a pretty good deal. Appreciation can become a habit. When I think I have lost my keys and I find them, when the sun rises just right between the clouds, when the rice pudding turns out nicely brown on top … joy is everywhere, depending on how I see what happens. Joy can be practiced. Gratitude always follows.

Small joy is not something we talk about. It is private, subtle and quick. Joy is when the boundaries disappear, so it’s not easy to talk about. When pleasure is derived at the expense of others, when it is dependent in any way on anything, it is not joy. That is what we have to learn. The whole point about joyfulness is that it feels like it’s everywhere. It is at the heart of everything. It is a dimension all its own … that happens to resonate in ours from time to time.

Chasing joy is like chasing butterflies, a fruitless endeavor … like trying to see the back of your head without a mirror. Joy doesn’t go anywhere, it is the natural state of things – the experience when inner forms match outer perception and separations disappear. Joy is the feeling of everything. We just have to get the complexes out of the way. That means we have to allow for disappointment and disillusion again, letting down the filters we constructed to keep our ideas safe. I can’t go around something to get to real joy. That’s not how it works.

Big Joy inspires stories, poems and songs. Big Joy is said to be the goal. But peak experiences are not meant to last. They are intended to shape the memory and point the way. Big joy wreaks havoc with everyday life. We can spend a lifetime waiting for Big Joy. It may never come. We may never see it. If we have nothing to relate it to … times when the pendulum swung the other way … it will never be the right size.

A breath is a small joy. A smile. A hug. A light in the eye. That moment when you and I are the same. Small joy guides the heart, singing softly through our senses. Small joy reminds us gently that we are part of something more … it rings with the treasure in life. For a moment, I am one with everything I know.

With small joy, there is no keeping. Subject – verb – object means nothing in a dimension where everything is everywhere, all the time. Grammar requires separation. With words, I break the world apart, so that I can put it back together in what I imagine to be a better way, deluded by the promise of Big Joy.

Being alive is often compared to being on a beach. As I stand in the water, a single wave rolls up on to the sand. They all look the same, one after the other, but that wave alone slaps my feet. That wave, at that moment, pushed by the earth and pulled by the moon, is a note from the universe. The splash is a tiny sound, lost in the crashing of its predecessors, further out to sea. Can that single wave be the reason the sky is blue? Sometimes, it feels like that to me.