Thursday, July 28, 2016


Close your eyes and pay attention to some physical sensation, such as the feeling of your feet on the ground. Can you get the sense that the sensation is glowing out of a dark background? Not the visual glowing of light, exactly, but the glowing of experience itself? You are experiencing something there rather than nothing, and that something-ness might also be called glowing.

This glowing-ness is the stuff of which experience is made. Notice that sounds are also made of glowing-ness, despite their overt differences from physical sensations. However different physical and auditory sensations may seem, they share the same essential component: they glow. The same is true of all your physical senses, as well as your mental field: all thoughts, memories, emotions, beliefs, etc.

Look carefully, and you'll see that all of what you call "reality" is somehow made of it.

Consider the experience of time. Notice that you never actually experience time. It's always now. Instead, you experience "memory" -- itself nothing but another form of glowing -- and another manifestation you label "anticipation," and finally something called "reasoning" convinces you that time must exist, and that you've actually experienced it.

Given that you've never actually experienced time, why does it feel so strongly like you have? Maybe you just haven't looked closely enough yet....

What about the constellation of sensations you collectively call "me"? When a certain glowing called "body" arises, it's followed quickly by the feeling "that's me." When the sound of a bird glows, it doesn't generate that feeling. Nothing inherent in the glowing differentiates them as "me" or "not-me." All glowing is impersonal.

If all of what you experience is impersonal glowings, then to whom is all this glowing happening? Must there be some invisible and intangible and forever unknowable person there, experiencing it all? After all, anything experienceable is just more impersonal glowings.

Or perhaps the glowing experiences itself, and there's nobody else there needed to experience it: maybe this whole show is just glowing-ness glowing to itself. Maybe this is what you're marveling at whenever you feel gratitude for being alive. Pure magic.

Suppose you now think: "oh, this is no big deal, it's all just a trick of the brain." That thought is a glowing, just like any other. But it gives you an excuse to take it for granted, to turn your back on the one thing that constitutes your entire life, existence, reality.

Awakening isn't about you waking up; it's about the light of experience waking up to itself -- and discovering that this entire dream of space, time, matter, and a self navigating it, is one glorious manifestation of itself.

We think we have a pretty good idea of what's going on in reality, that our beliefs are firmly grounded. But until you actually get down and dirty with the fundamental stuff of which thoughts, beliefs, and reasoning are made, don't be too sure. The most astonishing of illusions is being played out, and it would be a shame not to chase the rabbit down the hole.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A brief meditation tip

Suppose you decide to pay attention to your breath. A few minutes (or seconds) later, you notice that you're daydreaming instead of paying attention. What's the difference in the latter state from the former? Two things:

(A) The content of your experience (or the aim of your attention). Before, it was the breath; now, it's random thoughts.

(B) The mode of your experience: you lost the sense of being aware what your mind is doing. In the former, you were paying attention to the breath and had the feeling (though not the thought) "this is what I'm paying attention to." In the latter, that sense has been lost.

Practice a few times until you notice that distinction. (A) is about attention, and (B) is about awareness, or that sense of knowing what's taking place in your experience.

Mindfulness meditation is largely about recovering the sense described in (B) whenever it's lost. You don't even have to hold on to it once it's recovered. Just relax a bit and it will hang around for at least a short time. Then, if you discover it missing again, just gently recover it (though you could say that the discovery is the recovery). Above all, don't scold yourself. Just appreciate the brief moments of presence.

With practice, the content of your experience (distinction A) becomes less and less important, and the effort of attention may be totally relaxed.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Where the buck stops (again)

All and everything you have ever experienced has been made of consciousness.

This isn't something you have to take my word for. It's not some philosophy I'm trying to hawk.

You may object that I haven't defined the word "consciousness" -- and it's true, I haven't. That's because I want you to examine your experience of the world and discover its meaning for yourself. Pick any sound or sensation and really try to intuit what I might mean when I say that it's "made of consciousness." Experience it directly, without thoughts as intermediaries, until you see.

Now do this with another sensory or mental phenomenon. One by one, each element of your field of experience falls to this investigation.

If you manage to pay close enough attention without getting distracted, you may begin to sense that this consciousness stuff is miraculous. It's somehow all there is, in which case it couldn't have been created by something else.

It goes deeper. Consciousness takes on a certain configuration you call "memory," from which you infer there must have been a past. It takes on a form you call "anticipation," and you believe there's a future. It takes on the form called "reasoning" and you infer that something called "time" must exist -- though you've never experienced any such thing. Without past or future, when could consciousness have been caused?

What you used to think of as an external, physical reality, is now seen to be nothing more than consciousness. What's more, there's no longer a separate "you": that feeling of being a separate self is also nothing more than consciousness. So it's all just consciousness experiencing itself.

At some point it might occur to you: "hey wait a minute, how do I know that this isn't all a trick, caused by a real, physical brain?" A perfectly valid concern, I think you'll agree.

What happens next depends on your ability to keep up this nonconceptual analysis. Either you'll get tangled up (probably without realizing it) in hypothesis, speculation, and imagination about whether there's a magical "real world out there" that's by definition perfectly inaccessible to us; or you'll experience that entire mental process as being made of... you guessed it: consciousness.

In one case, you'll fall back into the drama of being an isolated individual, fighting his way through time in a strange and fundamentally "other" universe. In the other, you finally bear witness to the infinite majestic, marvelous, glorious miracle of life!, existence!, consciousness!

Again, the point is not to adopt a new philosophy, or to abandon your old one. If you're a materialist, keep being a materialist. The point is to spend enough time in this mode where all of existence is insubstantial, timeless, and self-less. Or rather, to spend enough time noticing that this is how it's always been for you. If your certainty in some "other" reality that's causing this one evaporates as a side-effect, that's fine too.

What does it mean to feel alive? It means that the poignancy, the vibrancy of this substanceless substance is not being ignored, not being hindered, not being explained away as a mere consequence of something else (neurotransmitters?). If feeling totally alive is what you want, maybe it's time to start paying attention to this unique substance of life in all its infinite glorious expressions.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Boredom is the effluent secreted by a mind so lost in its own projections that it fails to register the sheer miracle of existing at all.