Happy New Year!
Here's to a fabulous 2011!
May this year be filled
with love and grace
and gratitude and
fun and abundance
and health and
deep inner peace
and the ongoing recognition
that THIS PRESENT MOMENT
is a gift to be opened
Everything happens for the best!
for all your love and support.
Happy New Year!
Enjoy the play!
Thanks to Jean Marie Bontous for the heads up on this image.
The King's Speech
I don't usually review movies on this blog, but in this case I will make an exception. The King's Speech is an extraordinary movie. Inspiring. Lucid. Compelling. And extremely well acted. If you are looking for your "voice" in 2011, this movie is for you.Looking for the Real
See that guy to your left?
Looks a little intense, eh? Must be on some kind of spiritual trip. Or maybe he's just protein deficient. I'm guessing he's into Eastern things. Probably reads the Bhagavad-Gita and doesn't make enough to pay taxes. Maybe he lives in a tent. Fruitarian? Macrobiotic? I really don't know for sure.
Wait a minute! That's me! 40 years ago. (Now you know why my parents were so freaked out when I was in my 20's.)
After all, I was their golden boy, the carrier of the family name, the hope for the future. According to everyone, I was supposed to be a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist. Maybe even a rabbi.
I coulda been a contender.
What happened? Why the long hair, the sallow cheeks, the penetrating I-can-outstare-anyone look.
Growing up in the suburbs of New York, you'd never think I would have gone off what some people referred to as the "deep end."
After all, I had it good. I had my own room, my own TV, a good looking girlfriend, a dog, excellent grades, played varsity basketball, and went to summer camp. And though my father, unlike Buddha's, was not the King, he had enough money to send me to a fine college -- where I majored in English and existential despair.
No matter. Still, I graduated with honors and went on to graduate school. Not in medicine, law, teeth, or the Talmud -- but poetry.
So there I was, in some fancy-schmancy Ivy League grad school -- hair and shadow growing longer by the day, when I get this invitation to an ultra hip, faculty-student party -- the kind where everyone is either drunk or stoned. Or both.
Feeling especially bold that night, I approached each of my professors and asked a simple question: "If you could be anywhere on Earth, at this precise moment, where would it be?"
Each of them, glad for the audience, began waxing poetic on their favorite place -- the nearest of which was 2,000 miles away.
Doh! No one wanted to be where they were! Everyone wanted to be somewhere else!
And me, the wise-ass, longhair, full of poetic-potential, Vietnam-phobic, draft-deferred 22-year old enduring Beowulf, Wallace Stevens, and iambic pentameter homework assignments was aspiring to be one of them?
I saw the future and it wasn't pretty.
I'd be 45, bearded, smoking a pipe, sitting in this same room being asked by my much younger alter ego where I wanted to be at that moment in time and it was going to be some place very far away.
Enough said. I decided to quit.
Thus began a series of adventures and accompanying odd jobs "beneath my station" that left my mother somewhat speechless around the canasta table -- dish washer, waiter, cook, hotel desk clerk, house painter, day care teacher, and food stamp collector.
Thirsty for less, I moved to an island in the ocean -- a pristine place where I could really get away from it all.
And so I did.
I grew vegetables. I grew a beard. I grew further disillusioned with "the world." I fasted. I chanted. I prayed. I read the Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, the Dhammapada, the Aquarian Gospel, the Zen Teachings of Huang Po, the Old Testament, the collected writings of Chuang Tzu, Meher Baba's discourses, the Life of Milarepa, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and anything else that addressed what life was all about.
I was living in paradise, but I wasn't happy. Not even close. To the casual observer, I had it all -- the house in the country, the girlfriend, the dog, the friends, the fresh baked bread, the mellow job on a 200 acre farm, but it wasn't enough.
I plastered my house with pictures of all the enlightened beings I could find -- Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Shiva, and Meher Baba. I prayed to them all.
And then I got the letter -- the letter from my best friend, Ed.
Ed was the real deal -- a practicing Zen Buddhist, a calligrapher -- a kind of spiritual big brother to me. Five years older (and maybe several lifetimes, too), Ed was deep, soulful, authentic, and cool.
He was also a minimalist. Preferred one flower in a vase, to many. Was a man of few words. Had a huge BS detector and always had a twinkle in his eye. A full tilt individual, he was not the easily influenced kind. Nor was he a joiner of anything that smacked of group think.
I trusted him.
Which is why I was so intrigued to get a letter from him one fine Summer day. Ed, the man of few words, had a lot to say in this missive. Apparently, since the last time I'd seen him, he'd "received Knowledge" from a 13 year old "boy Guru" from India -- someone named Maharaji.
The first thing I did, after reading the letter, was stuff it in a drawer. Something in me knew the jig was up -- that all my seeking was about to come to an end. But I didn't want to give it up. I liked seeking. Seeking was cool. Seeking was exciting. Seeking was spiritual... familiar.. and a proven way to pick up chicks. Seeking gave me an identity -- the seeker.
Finding, on the other hand, was... well... confronting.
Flash back to high school: Seeking is to dating as finding is to... um... er... uh... marriage!
MARRIAGE! Help! Who, in their right mind, wanted to get married? Certainly, not me. Marriage was so... so... final... so entrapping... so end of the line.
And so I procrastinated as best I could.
I knew, in my gut, that Ed's letter was a direct response to a deep prayer within me, but the immediacy of it all made me anxious -- like when a really good teacher called me to the front of the room and asked questions I didn't know the answers to.
But Ed was relentless. He was not about to concede to my procrastination. Two weeks later he called me, inviting me to visit for the weekend.
The first thing I noticed in Ed's apartment was a framed picture of Maharaji. I found it odd -- especially since my image of "The Guru" was very different than the one in Ed's frame. Where were the sallow cheeks? Where was the long white hair? The robes? The ancient look in the deep-set eyes as if to say: "Come my son, I know you have waited lifetimes for me to incarnate, and here I am -- crossing the universe to come for one of my favorite (and most humble) disciples of all time."
In reality, the picture of Maharaji in Ed's apartment looked more like a second string fullback for a little known high school in New Jersey. "That's the Guru?" I thought to myself. "That's the guy who's created such a stir?"
It made no sense.
Ed, God bless him, didn't care in the least. He just kept on talking and laughing and smiling. When we went for a walk, I couldn't keep up with him. He was a ball of fire -- radiant, glowing, buoyant, alive. Gone was the Zen minimalist shtick. Gone was the dude who mindfully chewed his rice 100 times before swallowing. In its place? Radiant, child-like wonder. Fun. Mojo. Elan. And something neither of us had talked about in any of our esoteric conversations -- happiness.
When I returned to my home on the island, I had a lot to think about.
Could it be? Could this young boy from India be the ONE (at least for me, that is)? Could all of my chanting and praying and fasting and yoga and reading and attempts to meditate have invoked this moment in time? Was Maharaji's appearance on the scene in direct response to my inner calling?
I didn't have to wait long for the answer.
Two weeks later Ed called to tell me that one of Maharaji's emissaries was going to be in Boston and that, if I wanted to receive Knowledge, I should come. The cost? Nothing. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Ed explained there was no charge because what I was about to receive I already had.
Sounded good to me.
I went. I asked. I received.
It was, looking back, the most extraordinary experience of my life. Like coming home. Like waking up. Like discovering I was made of pure love. Everything became so simple, so perfect, so full of essence, energy, and peace.
I could have pulled Redwood trees from the ground.
These, of course, are only words. If you ask a hundred different people who have received Knowledge (and practiced it), you'll probably hear a hundred different descriptions. But all of them will be spoken with the kind of feeling that will catch your attention.
What I'm trying to stay is this:
What you are looking for is within you.
Your thirst to experience this will guide you on your way.
What you will get guided to will be a direct response to your thirst.
You will need to trust your thirst and that which it guides you to (even if I'm not supposed to end this sentence with a preposition.)
For me, this thirst led me to Maharaji and his gift of Knowledge. His invitation is the same now as it was 40 years ago. He's still here. And so are you.
Now that you know, what do you want to do? It's your move.December 28, 2010
Happy New Year from Jesse, My Son
Growing up in New York, there were three things I found utterly amazing: the accents of people from other places, baseball, and snow days.
If you're from California, Mexico, or Hawaii, you probably know what the first two are all about. But the third? Allow me to explain.
A snow day, for those of you who have never experienced winter, is an unexpected day off from school granted by a benevolent universe. You go to bed at night, dreading your history test the next day, and wake up with three feet of snow outside your window -- your mother telling you (having just heard it on the radio) that school is closed.
It's a snow day!
Somehow, while you slept, the whole world shut down. Everything came to a halt. The only thing you can see out your window is a solitary bird looking for food and the kid next door, arms outstretched, making snow angels.
You jump for joy! Yahoo! Hallelujah!
Gone is the need to rush through breakfast. Gone is the need to catch the bus. Gone is the need to perform.
All bets are off. Your time is your own. You are free!
You look out the window and everything is white. The jagged edges of the world have been softened, curved, and relaxed. Everything is still, as if the God you've heard so much about in Sunday school has just hit the pause button.
You have time to slow down, time to do nothing at all -- and feel really good about it. After all, this isn't a sick day, it's a snow day -- a complete and utter gift... an unexpected bit of grace... an inheritance you didn't realize was on its way.
For me, the gift my Teacher gives is a bit like that.
And the ultimate beauty of the whole thing? You don't have to wait for an "Act of God," while you sleep, to enjoy its benefits. It's with you every second of the day, every breath.December 16, 2010
Service in the Air
I just flew 19 hours from Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. In a nutshell, here's the difference between Singapore Airlines and all the other airlines.
When it's time to turn off your computer, just before landing, the flight attendant actually comes from a place of kindness and love rather than the gestapo-like monitoring of "bad passenger behavior" that most other airlines seem to be dominated by.
My flight attendant (who was as attentive in the 18th hour of the flight as she was in the first), ASKED me to turn my computer off instead of TELLING me. Huge difference.
After she continued down the aisle, moving like a cool breeze at 36,000 feet, I WANTED to turn my computer off instead of feeling as if my junior high school penmanship teacher had just berated me for something I didn't do.
Singapore Airlines gets it, big time. And it all starts with their flight attendants.
For starters, they like their job. That is totally clear. They treat you like a human being, not a possible disturbance in row 26. And their "customer interactions" don't smell of "training," but of genuine human decency, consciousness, and care.
Here's the bottom line, strange as it may seem. When my flight finally landed, I didn't want to get off the plane. I just wanted to keep flying around -- watching movies, washing with hot towels, and wondering how the Singapore Airlines flight attendants stay so gracefully benevolent for 19 hours in a row.December 13, 2010
I Want to Tell You About My Master
A few nights ago, I was sitting in my kitchen with my wife, Evelyne, and our good friend Hudson.
Hudson had recently been diagnosed with cancer and the sobering reality of life's fragility was upon us. As we sat there, we started talking about how our lives would change if we knew we only had another year to live. We each took turns reflecting on what we would do differently -- what we'd stop doing, what we'd start doing, and what would guide our choices. For me, a few things became clear: 1) I'd take the practice of Knowledge more seriously; 2) I'd stop worrying about all the crap that now occupies my mind; 3) I'd dive a lot deeper into writing about the beauty of having a living Master in my life.
Towards that end, here's a little something I wrote a few years ago. I want to share it with you now, while I'm still alive. Enjoy!
I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY MASTER
I want to tell you about my Master,
the one who teaches from within,
that like a heartbeat longing to be heard
becomes the twin I never knew I had.
Him! That one!
He is calling me,
not with music, that would be too easy,
but with silence --
that's his choir!
I cannot describe him,
my words only exclude.
Better simply to say, "The one I love,"
answer to a prayer much too subtle
for anyone else to hear,
keeper of the flame,
who I am, was, and will be
when there's no one around to remember my name,
why you like candlelight,
want a child, dream,
the one with no other master plan but love.
I have met this man,
or should I say observed,
struck dumb by his simplicity
and the unspeakable glory of seeing
what these eyes first opened for.
The Tourist Syndrome
Sometimes, when a person hears about a Living Master, an odd phenomenon takes place. I call it the "Tourist Syndrome." No matter how sincere the seeker is or how approachable the teacher, a funny dance ensues -- not unlike the way some tourists relate to shop owners in foreign cities.
Anyway... if this intrigues you, click here. Words of Peace Global has just published it on their nifty blog. (How often do you use the word "nifty?" Not often, I bet).
But I digress. On to The Tourist Syndrome... and the rest of your day.December 09, 2010
Don't Let This Happen to You
This guy forgot to meditate...
December 06, 2010
Help is available
Thanks to David Passes for the muppet connection
A Simple Request
December 03, 2010
row your boat
stay in the boat,
- Prem Rawat
VIDEO: Sorry, It's a No
Fabulous new music video from Tim Hain and Friends. This is a kind of national anthem for anyone rejected from American Idol or X-Factor. If Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir were alive, they'd be doing background vocals. Time to party!December 02, 2010
Radiant Being of Light
Radiant being of light,
vortex of love,
magnifier of prayer,
the one I dream about
and the one who
wakes me from the dream,
why the dervish spins
and the earth,
teacher, teaching, and the taught,
first breath, last breath,
what lovers look for in each other,
but rarely find,
center around which everything revolves,
endless night of love
and the ecstatic aching
of a moon-howling heart
that does not want the morning to come.