Tag Archives: death


The other night I caught myself again. I wasn’t where I was. I was somewhere else. Somewhere where most people often are. I was stuck on a thought. Lost in past & future. Thinking about something that happened yesterday, & wondering how it might influence tomorrow. –Then I snapped out of it.

I noticed where I was & what was happening at the present moment. Getting present brought everything into focus. I began to see what was true, what was happening in the moment — without a story about it. My feeling, my breathing, my mood, my energy — everything lifted. I went from a small boat, being knocked around by rocky waters, to deep presence, deep stillness. I was suddenly content; relaxed; at ease.

I thought of a map, & I made the connection. Minutes ago I was all-over the map, lost in thought, then suddenly saw the arrow & words: YOU ARE HERE. Of course, of course! What a great reminder! In thought, I was lost in past & future. But when I bring myself back to what it feels & sounds like at this moment — nothing I was feeling or thinking about matches, or compliments, this moment at all. It actually took away from it, overshadowed it — ruined it. What is happening now is divine & spontaneous & perfect. A gift.

And when I imagine myself in a bigger picture, on a much bigger map. How silly it all is! What in the world would I ever want to stress about, or take seriously, or personally? Everything becomes laughable & danceable. Everything becomes light. Infinite. The idea of a little me to identify with completely disappears. I fade into the whole. The wholeness of totality. I become imperturbable — because I no longer exist! I become a spec of cosmic dust. Stardust. Or dirt!

To be laughable & danceable: no longer in control; no longer important; no longer separate. Just some-thing or no-thing that is moved. I love being moved. I forget how easy life can be — when I stop resisting it.

Earlier in the week, on the same day, my nephew became a father & my friend lost his father. A child was born & a father died, on the same morning. I received a celebratory email, & I also received a bereaving email — moments apart from each other. All I could do was be present & respond to each email from an authentic place. The transitoriness of life was so present for me. I was awake to the transitory nature of life. The news of both events woke me out of my slumber — the daily grind haze, the fog that we sometimes get enveloped in.

How precious life is. What an opportunity it is. What an adventure it is. Why would I ever want to waste a moment of it lost in thought, when the present moment is rich & new & full of life? Why would I ever want to resist the flow of life, by wanting things to be different, by being stuck on how I think things should be? I’ve replaced the old habit of questioning life, for the new habit of trusting life. Trusting that it knows what is best for me. That it sees a bigger picture, one that I can not see.

It’s like a sprinkle on a doughnut concerning itself with what its place might be on the doughnut; in the bakery; in the town; in the country; in the world; in the universe. Stressing over it; taking it personal; over thinking it. It is unable to see all the other sprinkles, or even the doughnut. It’s way out of its scope. Its best bet would be to enjoy its place on that doughnut & to have fun being a sprinkle. To just shine & allow life to unfold. To enjoy it all — the mystery of it all! To be present to each moment, as if it were the greatest gift it could ever be given. To simply be present to the present.

What a powerful way to live. And it’s always there for us. Silently there all the time. Waiting for us to wake up to the beauty of it. To the beauty of ourselves. To the beauty of presence.

We can simply start with the present moment. What is happening, right now? Where are we, right now? Without the past or future stirred into it. This moment, just as it is. Us, just as we are. Here. Now.


Filed under awareness, peace & bliss

Love, Death & Relationships… It isn’t personal.

I had a revelatory dream a few months ago. I woke up with the words “God is impersonal”. (When I have dreams that are like messages, they usually take the form of written words or simple statements. I don’t have these often, but when I do, I remember.) After I woke up, I immediately got it. I understood it completely. But of course! God loves everyone; God permits everything; God has no preference, goal, or agenda; God is unconditional. [I’m using the word God, but please know that I don’t believe in a religion, or even the concept of a God, or Higher Being, separate from average living beings. God is just a word for “that which can not be named” in this case.]

This dream has become even more relevant & clear lately. I’ve had so many people contact me about deaths that they are dealing with, as well as heavy issues regarding romantic relationships. I spoke/emailed with everyone, telling them my thoughts on the matter. (I loved being able to have such intimate conversations. Being able to share life’s deepest topics is such a gift that we rarely share. Most people aren’t willing to be that vulnerable.)

As I was going through my day yesterday, my head was swirling with all that I’ve heard/read from people lately about relationships & life. I was also stewing in my own struggles (my own resistance to life, my resistance to what is). I was sitting in a very noisy Manhattan cafe, bustling with people & aliveness. It was quite loud & everyone’s day-to-day conversation topics all coalesced into one sound. Similar to that of white noise. An answer came to me in that moment, one that I knew was connected to the God dream I had some time back. The answer was, “It isn’t personal”. I had the same feeling again — I knew the truth in that statement & I knew it profoundly. Just as I did after the dream. I held that statement up to the suffering I felt about my relationship & about life’s deepest questions that remain unanswerable: it isn’t personal.

This idea of a “me” gets us into so much trouble. Something is happening to me; someone is rejecting me; someone is leaving me; someone is no longer in-love with me; someone died on me; something died in me; something is wrong with me; someone is mistreating me; someone is misjudging me… it goes on & on, & there is always another way to say it, but it all boils down to the same thing. We are separate individuals, in control. I want to say it again — we are separate individuals, in control. How confused we are when we think like this. In my opinion & in my experiencing & in my knowing — we have no control over anything, & neither does anyone else.

I’m going to list for you a few examples of how I have no control. (And just to be clear, this is not a debate. I’m just sharing with you my personal thoughts.) Who I fall in-love with; who falls in-love (or out-of-love) with me; who I find attractive; who finds me attractive; if people will be on time; if people will be late; when I wake up (naturally); when I fall asleep (naturally); when I have to urinate; when I have to defecate (naturally); how my heart pumps blood; how my digestion processes food; how much my nails & hair grow; how many sets of teeth I grow; how my voice sounds; the color of my skin (naturally); the color of my hair & eyes (naturally); how my body & face is shaped (naturally); what talents I have (naturally); who likes me; who I like; who likes my work; who’s work I like; how other people behave; what people believe; how other people think; the weather; the seasons; the family I was born into; the country I was born in; the thoughts I have; & the choice of my own birth or existence!

Considering all the things I mentioned, how could we take things personally? That would imply that we have some sort of control, or that others have control. Another thing I noticed in the cafe filled with human beings & white noise, was the humility beneath it all. Under the faces & the talk & the fashion & the music & the food & the work & the intensity of it all…. there was humility. Just simple beings being without even realizing it. Beings that have no control over each other, or themselves. Beings that are no different from the simplest of life that will soon face death. Like leaves turning brown on a tree in autumn. They fall when they fall. They may bang into each other on windy days. They may fall on each other on the way down. Some may decay before others. Some may shine brighter. Some might last longer. It all happens as it needs to happen. The leaves don’t take it personal. And why should they? It’s not about being a leaf (or a separate individual). It’s just life. Life living life. Life being lived. It’s not my life, or your life. It’s just life.

[The video clip posted was from the film Koyaanisqatsi. If you would like to watch the whole film: click here.]


Filed under loss & death, more love

All my friends are dead.

Every now & then, but not very often, I find work by an artist & I think, “Oh, I wish I did that. I wish that was my work.” Well, on Monday while surfing the internet for images, I found something that made me jealous, but it also made me laugh. :) It was a book written by Avery Monsen & Jory John. The title of the book is: All My Friends Are Dead.

I’ll give you a little preview…

…& there is good news — a sequel!

To read the entire book, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
Visit Avery & Jory’s website “No More Friends” to order their books.
Spread the love & have a laugh, & know that death is not the end of life.
Life is life. There is birth & there is death, but life itself is always alive! :)


Filed under good books, great quotes, loss & death, unlearning

Something Special : Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011

I just found out that the person who gave me a greater perspective on life & the possibility of ending self-imposed suffering & realizing freedom died last month. It’s silly that I feel like crying even though I don’t believe that she is her body. Why am I sad? What do I think I’m losing? Where is the loss? How would a person dying that I have never met change my day-to-day life? Why would it bring me to tears?

I guess it’s just a feeling of deep thanks & love for what she bravely stood for & how her words & work made me feel & the tremendous impact they had on me. Knowing that her death marks the end of her (physical) work brings me to tears & it opens my heart.

The person I am writing about is Charlotte Joko Beck.

Completely by chance(?) I stumbled across one of her books when I was a teenager. The book was Nothing Special. This book was obviously very special to me, for 20 years I saved this book (& I don’t save much!) & brought it out to New York with me after I moved from California. I still have this book & every time I see it or read it – it feels new. I’m not sure why I am teary eyed about not being able to read new work from her when the one & only book I have written by her still feels like a new book after 2 decades. I also don’t know why I think I won’t experience her work now that she is dead when her work is still living in me. My life & my work is a result of her work. So the work continues.

Thank you, Charlotte Joko Beck. You changed my life, better yet, you saved my life. And you simply did this by being you & by sharing your life – thank you.

“Joy is being the circumstances of our life just as they are.”
– Charlotte Joko Beck

“Sitting is essentially a simplified space. Our daily life is in constant movement: lots of things going on, lots of people talking, lots of events taking place. In the middle of that, it’s very difficult to sense that we are in our life. When we simplify the situation, when we take away the externals and remove ourselves from the ringing phone, the television, the people who visit us, the dog who needs a walk, we get a chance–which is absolutely the most valuable thing there is–to face ourselves. Meditation is not about some state, but about the meditator. It’s not about some activity or about fixing something. It’s about ourselves. If we don’t simplify the situation the chance of taking a good look at ourselves is very small–because what we tend to look at isn’t ourselves but everything else. If something goes wrong, what do we look at? We look at what’s going wrong. We’re looking out there all the time, and not at ourselves.”
– Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen


Filed under loss & death