I dreamed I was walking through the garden with a woman I knew years ago. We search for a suitable place to make peace. Upon finding a tree, we decide to climb up. After some time, she raises the peace pipe but suddenly is stopped by a bird projectile vomiting out from the tree in unreal volumes like a cartoon. We were shocked by what we were witnessing, “My God that’s impossible! What in the world is going on? We won’t find peace here.”
We climbed up into a second tree and again she raised the peace pipe to her lips. This time, a bird flew out of its nest and dove at our heads again and again. We tried to swat it away. We tried sitting still. Nothing worked. “My God” she said “there’s no way to make it stop! We have to go somewhere else. We won’t find peace here.”
We climbed into the third tree and became very conscious of the fact that the limbs did not have to hold our weight. The tree suddenly became transparent. Then the ground and eventually everything including both of us became transparent. We could see straight through each other and the entire earth out into space in every direction. “What will happen next? Will we fall or maybe just end up being left suspended in empty space?” Recognizing that the limbs not have to hold our weight and the ground did not have to be there under our feet, we had to confront the truth and let go of our control and any expectations.
But as we sat there, the limbs did hold. When we climbed down and stood upon the ground, it held as well. This time though it was a gift. Everything was a plus to what was granted for we saw that nothing was granted to us at all. From then on we were free and each step we took we knew peace.
At any given moment, there are innumerable different elements involved in ‘being alive’ which make life not only a gift, but a miracle in itself. This truth is something that we all know intuitively yet the experience which makes these statements true I think is quite rare.
If you were to experience life as it really is, as a gift, in the same way that you would know life to be a gift were you being saved by superman from a burning building or an oncoming train –then, ‘being alive’ would come naturally with such an overwhelming gratitude and wonder –living would in fact be intoxicating. It would fill us so brim full with wonder and appreciation that everything we do would be motivated by the desire to express and celebrate that gratitude. From the way we walk and talk to the way we relate and interact with each other, these mysteries would be evident in our culture and society.
But life typically does not seem so wondrous that it is intoxicating. In fact, everyday more and more people are feeling the need to go out and get intoxicated because their world is so lacking in the natural intoxicating feeling of being alive. The other half of the time, people spend trying to get rich for the lack of any natural sense that life is enriching.
Yet to be surrounded by gifts is to be rich beyond measure. And likewise, the finest liquors and the most precious gold are but a poor substitute for the richness accompanying the experience of life’s greatest truths and mysteries.
Generation after generation we tell our children that the kingdom is something that should be striven for but ultimately unattainable. We teach that the attainment of such riches is reserved for those few characters of antiquity such as Jesus who described The Kingdom of Heaven or Buddha who described the Bliss of Nirvana. Yet this reality exists at every point in space and time and somehow we do not know it.
The kingdom we seek is the birthright of every human being on the planet; yet somehow we are blocked from receiving its riches as the smoker is blocked from receiving precious oxygen by the tar in his lungs.
There is another truth, a counter-truth which is just as true and real as this one. Life is not just bliss, it is astonishment and disgust. Life is powerlessness and chaos, emptiness and uncertainty. If all is a gift then none is a gift. Poverty is the reference point by which richness may be made known and the journey of life has many trees along its path. Heaven, while eternal, is not any place to stay. The second bite of vanilla ice cream is never as flavorful.
How helpless I was as a child, mortal and finite yet completely dependent on another to sustain me. How helpless I was in heaven, immortal and infinite, yet completely dependent on the experience of hell to sustain me.
There are three trees in the Garden. One threatens your knowledge, another threatens your life, but both drive you onward to the discovery of that which lies in yet another tree, which is a truth that has been hidden from you. If you ascend to it, then the very earth will appear to vanish from beneath your feet yet it will sustain you, the truth will become transparent and you will find peace.
This weeks podcast episode is brought to you by no one. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the pleasant sounds of Nick and Michael in deep conversation. You can access the show via this page from the YouTube video or the MP3 audio player (below). The Return Of Gnosis is also available on iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn. Be sure and subscribe/follow for all the latest episodes as they become available.
- Episode introduction and theme
- Do you ever feel as though there’s something missing from life, in western culture? The cyclical nature of things
- The source of the richness in life – experiencing life as though it were a gift. But what in life is not a gift?
- Perspective – What is the relationship between our objective reality and the relative view we take of it. Is there an element of choice?
- Participating in the stream (of life) vs observing it from the shore.
- Nick saves Martina from being crushed by a public bus in Sweden.
- Nick’s dream of the Three Trees.
- Uncertainty as a source of discomfort, simultaneously what gives things real value in that nothing is guaranteed, which makes everything a gift.
- Is ‘reason’ or ‘thought’ a process of stepping out of the stream? What takes place when there is complete undivided attention in response to one’s external environment? Is there a separation?
- Both rationality and irrationality exist. Both the infinite and the finite exist.
- The individual journey from birth to death, development of higher cognitive faculties that facilitate functioning independently in the world, may also hem us off from the state of wonder at being that embodies childhood, which we must then rediscover.
- The Dark Night of the Soul. The dual world. When something is a constant it gets tuned out. Without the finite, the infinite would eventually lose its flavor.
- What are people mostly pursuing? Is it to have the experience of the infinite (peak experiences) all the time? The effort to repeat past experiences. Is it possible to live life fully awake, without going back to sleep?
- Flowing with the river, toward the ocean. Attachment as swimming against the current.
- The experience of life today takes away from the possibility of any middle ground. Physical vs spiritual poverty/richness. The external richness is a quantity, the internal is a quality. A part of us can never be satisfied by any quantity, but requires the quality which brings a state of peace.
- The spectrum between reason and love. That which exists in time and has a cause and effect (pursuing), verse that which is timeless and is an end in and of itself (being).
- Greed is a need that can never be fully satisfied. Omniscience and omnipotence – the quest for certainty of outcome as the pursuit of power and control as a dead end. Understanding its limitations, not only conceptually but experientially.
- The beauty of voluntary human interaction, when you give of yourself freely, you are truly giving, and the opportunity to do so exists in the fabric of every moment.
- Meaning – is it possible to ascribe meaning to reality independent of our participation in it? Is everything truly a gift, or is reality simply ‘what is’ and we have a choice about what meaning we consciously choose to ascribe to it? If so, is that choice then not itself also a gift, since its outcome is not set?