Christ Was a Radical Revolutionary

The beginning of this post is probably going to read like an advertisement for Spoke’n Hostel in Mitchell, Oregon. That’s because it is legitimately one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It is also run by two of the kindest, most Christ-like individuals I have ever met.

Their names are Pat and Jalet Farrell. They had a vision for Spoke’n, and execute it to a tee. The hostel caters largely to cyclists riding through on the Transamerica cycling route, which runs right through Mitchell. Travelers who are out on vacation looking to fish, camp, or hike also come here. Most of them are blown away by what has been done with the space.

The hostel is also a church. Upstairs, the pews have been re-purposed as benches (I’m writing this post on one of them now), and the pulpit has two cozy chairs on it. On Sundays, there is a church service in the basement where Pat is the pastor. What I like about him is that he has a deep understanding of the message of Christ, and consistently brings his sermons back to that message. He and Jalet have experienced the peace of God in a way that has transcended a mental position. They have allowed God to work over their whole lives because they know this peace.

And on that spiritual level, I love the hostel because it takes all the best things about spirituality—generosity, hospitality, connection, community—and puts them into practice beyond a Sunday service. No one is excluded. These principles are made manifest right before our eyes, and the energy here is truly beautiful.

It can be so common to talk the talk, spiritually speaking. Perhaps we know our mantras and chants; we say our prayers; we sit down to meditate. But how often do we create something that actualizes our values so fully? And are we able to remain as open hands with our awareness of Truth, or do we feel the need to constantly be “telling” people about it, even if they are not interested?

This brings me back to that word: Christ-like. What does it mean?

Obviously it means to emulate the traits Christ Himself embodied. Somehow, we’ve gotten confused about what exactly those traits might be. This is because each human filters the parables and behaviors of Christ through their existing egoic minds. Everything is colored by what the state of mind is able to comprehend. One who wears yellow-tinted sunglasses all their life will never see the true blue of the sky.

A less egoic mind will see Christ/God more closely to his divine nature: Open for All and unconditionally loving. A highly egoic mind will place many more conditions on what God requires to achieve salvation.

Jesus Christ was indeed a realized being—God manifested as human. He was surely not recognized as such by everyone, hence the crucifixion. Similarly, the Buddha announced that he had attained complete inner freedom, but the first person he told this to regarded him with skepticism and walked away.

In general, the egoic mind prefers beliefs over Truth, and resists that which violates the beliefs it has affixed itself to.

I offer this: Christ was a radical revolutionary, and if his teachings were digested and made real by his followers, we would be creating a vastly more beautiful world. His love was of such power, it is still incomprehensible and misunderstood by many minds—even those who self-describe as Christians.

Christ took no half-measures. He made Himself visible, had courage, was God-realized and proclaimed it in a hostile environment. Upon enlightenment, He was moved to make an example out of his own life. He did this so that others could see how utterly loved (and truly in love) they are; how unimportant the external world is in comparison to what lies inside. As He said: “Neither shall they say ‘look here,’ or ‘look there.’ The kingdom of God is within.”

That is ultimately what the path guides us to: A commitment to a life rooted in the heart, even when it is unpopular. We listen to what is inside even when it pisses everyone off and confuses them—family and friends included. We listen to what is inside even when it isn’t coming through totally clear. When we are misunderstood, mislabeled, judged, and limited (as we surely will be if we are walking the path sincerely), we keep walking.

I’m sure we have all known people who are Christ-like, yet they may not call themselves Christians. So, too, we know Christians who are not particularly Christ-like.

This is the difference that consciousness makes.

What I am saying here about the path is different from the pacifying notion of simply “being a good person.”

First of all, the phrase means nothing until we thoroughly examine what “good” means and even what “person” means. All that is an intellectual minefield. The egoic mind cannot effectively navigate intellectual matters (or anything, really), because it is so preoccupied with preserving itself and its existing positions.

This whole “just be a good person” thing tends to be the weak maxim the mind reaches when it no longer wants to seek. The egoic mind likes to pat itself on the back for being however it already is. It puts no effort into experiencing deeper love and freedom. This is because in order to experience love and freedom, we usually have to change and let go of things the egoic mind doesn’t want to give up. Make no mistake: The egoic mind has no interest in You becoming free of it. Only God wants that for you.

So, it placates us for our current ways: “Just be a good person,” it says, “and everything will be all right.” Of course, the ego-identity usually fancies itself already a good person, with just a little bit of improvement to get started on… someday, of course.

Not now, but maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Just not now.

Location: Mitchell, OR

Onto the Next

On Friday I’ll be moving to the small town I briefly wrote about in my last post. I haven’t written more about Mitchell because I don’t want to jinx it or make it sound too pie-in-the-sky, but the truth is that I fell in love with it the second I stepped off the van from Bend. I realize that my interpretation of this town is not going to be the same vibe that everyone else would get from it. Not by a long shot. Nobody is as excited about this choice as I am.

However, I trust my ability to read energy, and the energy in Mitchell, Oregon is good. It is small and I like that it is small. The hostel I will be helping out at is beautiful and a true labor of love from its owners. On top of all that, my intuition has not only kept me safe while vagabonding, it has led me to many beautiful situations. It is that intuitive power I’m trusting now.

Throughout my travels I have been well cared-for in Godand when I say “in God,” I include every single person who has helped me along my way, because all of them are also God. When I reflect on the past five months, mostly what I see is myself sitting blissfully in the sun. I also see various men who have dropped off out of necessity; I see me crying on roadsides and praying. I see music and tan lines and a window of experience I will pluck memories from in the future if I so choose.

And yet none of this brings me nearer to my Self. Many times, my travels have been referred to as some kind of “finding myself” mission by loved ones, and that has always felt a bit off to me. I am aware that there is nothing to be found “out there.”

The world as we know it is a projection of our own minds; the underlying consciousness is primary. If we were to realize these things within our own beings at once, the world would drastically change—and this is not impossible. The belief in its impossibility is actually one of the great obstacles to this change. I am also sometimes accused of being “idealistic,” but I just think everyone else is settling for way, way too little when it comes to how beautiful life can feel and how much peace we can dwell in. The depths of You are immeasurable, truly.

No matter: I have seen what I am and know without a doubt that this fabric is the same as all else. I “found myself” on the living room couch in April 2014. Everything since then has been a re-acclimation to a world I didn’t feel I belonged to anymore.

This brings me to another point: I feel like I’m supposed to write more personally about my awakening. I want to be clear right now that I really, actually don’t want to do this. If the last five months of my life call to mind visions of sunshine and music and bliss, the last four years overall call to mind shame, imbalance, instability, and fear. Putting all that out there sounds really unappealing to my ego-identity, which annoyingly means I should probably do it.

For some reason, I think I am supposed to share that mess. It is common to enjoy this idea that there is some magical “click of enlightenment,” and suddenly you’re a master with an ashram and a beautiful spiritual community. 

The middle parts (which can be very raw and not so pretty) are usually left out, or rolled into some charming lore about “The Realized Ones.” When you hear about Eckhart Tolle, there was a time when he “slept rough” post-awakening. Somehow it has turned into a cute story, the way he couldn’t really do job interviews anymore. It gets glossed over, how disorienting that time period can be. When we read about Mooji’s past, “grace came in the form of his sister’s house.” This is spiritual-speak for: “He crashed with his sister for 6 years because awakening laid him out and made his old life impossible.”

These people experienced some kind of divine realization, and by the time we learn their names, life has pulled a bunch of shit together. From that vantage point, awakening looks easy, but for most of us, it is not. There is a lot that happens in between the click and the transformed life, and it can get ugly.

It is my intention to write about how awakening can take intense and seemingly catastrophic turns, based on the only reliable source I know: My direct experience.

A final note: Walking through the town I went pretty publicly insane in actually feels okay. For the first two years after getting out of the hospital, it was like everything and everyone was a thorn being pushed into me, this very raw and wounded thing.

I sucked it up. I (somehow, miraculously) went to work. I went to the pub and eventually stopped drinking beer at the pub. I saw people who remembered me while I was crazy (I did not remember them) and it was awkward because apparently I’d been pretty entertaining in some cases, but by the time they were bringing it up, there was only shame in me.

It’s gotten a lot better, but there are still people I see and places I visit that hit me right in the solar plexus. Honestly I wish it was chill to break through those invisible barriers, through that old energy I sowed while unwittingly going through some unstoppable shifts. I know I violated social contracts and that it resulted in suffering. I have atoned for that within my own being in a very real way. I have apologized where it was appropriate, where it didn’t feel like the relationship would be made worse by doing so. I also know that it is presumptuous of me to wish anyone was “more okay” with me since I lost my shit or whatever; it is not my timeline to decide.

But sometimes I do think it would be nice if we could just get real and be like, “Hey, isn’t life hard sometimes? Aren’t we are all trying to take care of ourselves and be good people and sometimes we fuck up again and again and again? Aren’t we all struggling with our own pain? Aren’t we all just doing our freaking best?”

In this daydream we group-hug and thank one another, and the healing process inches slightly forward for us all.

– lish

location: Burlington, WA

Disbelief in Mitchell, OR

I can’t even write this post right now because my heart feels too big, too expansive. There is too much joy in me and if I try to explain it, it’s going to come out all overwrought.

It is a (very) small desert town that will, for sure, be a larger desert town in the coming years. The painted hills are nearby; I think I may head that way tomorrow. The hostel is unbelievably beautiful, and the couple who own it are alive and committed to a life in God in a way that seems true, practical, humble, and genuinely at peace. They work hard for this place, and it shows. The energy is pure and devoid of pretense. The spirit of generosity and joy is just unbelievable. I’m listening to this amazing super synthy song I found a couple days ago that is throwing me even further off a cliff.

I’ll write more tomorrow, but I needed to make an update and say that following the breadcrumbs on my path has led me to the exact place I need to be right now. I can’t remember the last time I felt so warm and open.

I wish you all nothing but everything.

– lish

location: Mitchell, OR

Love from Bend, OR

Hey guys. My last post was a bit of a reflection of what can happen when we follow our hearts and go where our intuition leads us. It is not always a good time, and anything can happen. By the time I post things of that nature, I’m usually already in a way better headspace, and it really only took me one night of good sleep to be back in peace.

The moral of the story here isn’t “oh hey, everything’s going to be fine; don’t worry.” Sometimes we like to believe these things, and they are just a sort of cold comfort that discourages further inner looking. Yes, ultimately, everything is going to be fine; it already is. Love has prevailed. Truth is our nature; always has been and always will be. We are all helplessly seated in the lap of God, with nowhere else to go.

However, until we realize this in our own being by way of seeing through the illusion of the ego-identity, things can be very much not be fine. On a real world level, that looks like suffering. We create the same hurtful patterns for ourselves over and over again, all while saying “oh hey, in the end, it’s fine; God loves us.” What a wonderful way for the mind to allow us to keep up our bad habits! No need to do our work or healing if everything’s going to be fine in the end, right? Why ever quit drinking, smoking, or traumatizing one another if everything’s already perfect?

The mind is so cunning, you guys. It can certainly use spiritual truths to stop us from dropping into deeper awareness and seeing through the ego completely. Mine still does that, for sure.

Similarly, sometimes I hear people casually mention that the whole world is illusory. While true, it is of little practical value when absorbed solely on a mental level.

Today I turned 31. I woke up on a couch at a hostel in Bend, Oregon, in the same pair of jorts I have been wearing for about 4 months. At 4PM I’ll be taking a bus out to a town called Mitchell, where there’s a couple—a pastor and his wife—who own a church that has been converted into a hostel. The idea of a hostel with a spiritual component is very appealing to me and something I’m interested in exploring. I will always write, but the idea of providing an affordable refuge for travelers that also offers regular meditation is feeling aligned, practical, and like something I could do… today anyway.

Any of this can change at any time. One day I’m working on a novel, the next day I’m ghostwriting novellas, then I’m hopping in a craigslist rideshare to travel to another state, then I’m writing this blog, then I’m wandering around by the Deschutes River staring at the same tree for 20 minutes. Now I’m being led out to a hostel in a small Oregon town to see what’s there. What happens after this is honestly a mystery.

As far as teaching goes: I’ve mentioned it before, and it does feel like I’m being moved into that role as well. However, I really don’t feel ready, and the main reason is because I’m still in process of watching my own “spiritual” ego. It is so common, and I’ve seen it in just about everyone who is consciously walking the path, including my teachers, and of course including myself.

Something happens after that first “aha” spiritual moment, or after we do a bit of meditation and begin to get a taste of our limitlessness in God: The ego latches onto what it has seen, and feels superior to those who haven’t peeked beyond the curtain, so to speak. I am very, very wary of this place. It feels “chosen.” It can justify any behavior. It judges and then convinces itself it is acceptable to judge “less awake people” because “it knows better.”

This is no good, even though I fully understand it.

And while it is true that someone who is liberated really can do whatever they want without karmic consequences, I still want to live in the world where self-realization results in togetherness, kindness, and a sense of worldwide community—no more hierarchies

I cannot allow myself to slip into this new kind of hypnosis, into an ego that believes it is “further along” or “special” in any kind of way. The whole point is to return to an original, non-special state, prior to anything being conditioned into us. If I teach, it will be because it is handed to me and because it is intuitive. I am not going to pursue the role, or anything else for that matter. A simple unfolding is all I desire, and a simple life. I will strive for ultimate freedom above all else by keeping my life simple and continuing to reject all else but my inner knowing.

On an energetic note: Oregon feels really good. Bend is the first place I’ve woken up where I don’t feel still kind of tired and headachey. I like how close I am to a river, and the community at this hostel is really beautiful. I may come back here to stay longer. I may get to Mitchell and have everything change on me yet again. Anything can change at any minute, and I am accepting of this.

I want whatever is given.

– lish

Location: Bend, OR

 

Sobbing in Reno

I just spent a good 20 minutes on a street corner in Reno, Nevada, sobbing. It was one of those bald and intensely lonesome moments, where I could only think “wtf has happened to my life.” It felt like damn, I miss my husband, I miss my most recent partner, I miss another guy I also fell in love with, I miss my cats, I miss my family, I miss it all. But, of course, that is the nature of the mind: When we start to venture out and loosen our attachments, the mind bites back. It does not let us go so easily. And further, I know I have to do this thing—whatever it is—or I will never feel right inside.

The only person I know in this town is my spiritual teacher, and we have never met in person. I am not about to be like “oh hey dude remember me we’ve had like 5 Skype sessions can we hang?” There is no one else, and the casinos are littered with a dismal melange of avoidance: Cigarettes and social security going down the drain. In the play, all of this is fine. It is just unfolding before me, but it’d be a lie to say it doesn’t affect me energetically.

What happened is that I was sitting on the steps of The Silver Legacy, using their wifi connection to try and find a cheap room. After I was there for about five minutes, two security guards approached me. A woman said “are you going to patronize this establishment, because you can’t just sit on the steps.” And all I could think was, Why the hell not? I am a human, this place is deserted, and the wifi is going to be on whether or not I’m here. Instead all that happened was that I got up and started to cry. I told her I was just looking for a place to stay and then I put my sunglasses on and walked as fast as I could down the street for somewhere to let myself fall apart.

I wanted it to be a park bench, somewhere by the Truckee River, tucked away near grass and trees. But I didn’t make it that far and I didn’t care. I just sat down on a corner in the sun with my sunglasses on, crying, thinking I’m done, I’m done. God kill me; I am done. (When I say “kill me,” I mean that part of me which continues to seek and suffer; the lingering ego-identity.)

It just felt like man, I can’t do this anymore. Two time zones in two days, five hours of sleep in Vegas, shitty Greyhound bus sleep, for what, for what. Yes it is all very romantic, hitching rides, living out of a backpack. People keep comparing me to Jack Kerouac and I guess that’s kinda neat on an ego-level. I have been taken care of by so many incredible people I don’t even know how to start explaining it. They are beautiful, and I love them. But I’m telling you, all I want is to feel at home, and I don’t feel at home, and I don’t know where home is.

I mean, no. That’s a lie. Of course I know it is in my Being, and sometimes I feel solidly rooted in that place in my Heart where all is incorruptible. This always has been and will always be my true home, and in this way, I don’t need to be in any particular place.

But, at some point, as you become more established in the Self, it really does become all about energy. The places you used to resonate with don’t feel right anymore—it’s like trying to squeeze into an old bathing suit. The conversations you once had feel impossible to have. The loved ones you still love, for sure, don’t feel like a refuge because you know they can’t protect you anymore from the intense process unfolding inside. Especially when I was newly awakened, I just kinda knew I was going insane, and that no one outside could help.

When things are shifting and become so hot inside, it becomes obvious that nothing external matters. In this way, finding places that feel energetically supportive/nourishing can be challenging post-awakening, especially when you’re in a nebulous financial situation. This is my situation, for the exact same reason: Very few employment situations feel aligned, and I just won’t compromise my inner state for money anymore.

It is hard. I am not going to bullshit you and say some stuff about how only the ego dreams awakening to be hard (although that is true on an Ultimate level). I am going to say that awakening is difficult and filled with friction and it is only up to You to live a life that is grounded fully in Truth.

May this be the life I lead, no matter the outside cost. May this be the life you lead as well.

I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. All I can say is that in this moment, I am extraordinarily exhausted and trying to do normal-people things like eat dried pineapple while watching reruns of Friends.

But all I can wonder is why it’s so funny for these characters to be so bad at communicating with one another, why jealousy is entertaining, why Monica’s insane control issues are soooo hilarious. Of course I know it is because it is relateable: We like to see these parts of ourselves validated and poked fun at by the culture. I get it, but I can’t stop analyzing it. Like I’ve said, nothing is soothing in the same way.

And I can’t stop thinking: For the love of God, can we please just allow one another to do things like sit on steps and use wi-fi? On that note: Can we just allow homeless people to live in vacant apartment buildings, of which there are tens of thousands? Can we just give money to everyone until the monetary system falls apart and we simply share our spaces and resources? Can we give up the illusion of ownership? Can we stop programming our existing madness into our children? Can we just trust one another? Can we stop bombing each other? Can we stop denying one another’s humanity?

These are the kinds of thoughts that crowd my mind when I tantrum. It is never about the casino steps or the lady who was doing her job. It’s about the unconsciousness that causes us to lock our doors and shut each other out; it’s about darkness ruling the world and knowing it does not need to be this way at all. The suffering of all beings reverberates in me and my tears are not just about me and my journey, they are about you and yours as well.

And here’s the thing: I own every sin in the book. I still shut down sometimes. Name something shitty and I have done it, either in this life or in another. Even so, I am made pure by the light of God which is my basic nature in consciousness itself.

– lish

Location: Reno, NV

From El Paso to Vegas

I write this from a car on the way from El Paso to Vegas. I have no idea why I am still traveling in physical space. All I desire is a place to Be, but energetically nothing has felt quite right. From Vegas I will go to Reno to see my teacher, Jim, have a talk, and feel where to go next.

I should say that even though I referred to Jim as “my teacher” in my last post—and he certainly is one of them—I consider all human beings (and life circumstances) to be teachers and students of one another. The question is whether or not we are conscious of it: Do we know that everything we are going through is an opportunity for practice? That we need every experience, no matter how bad, to point us to Truth?

Many of the situations I’ve been on throughout this journey have been teachers of patience. Before I was very invested in self-work and thrust into the shitstorm that was my awakening, I was an impatient person and saw no problem with that. In my view, the problem was not my impatience or lack of acceptance, it was that others were too slow and stupid. It was all very judgmental, and I own that. That is the work of the egoic mind: It imagines separate “others” and blames them for our suffering, which is really the result of our own existing unconsciousness.

Today I find myself spending time with people I would have never hung out with before. I shudder to think of all those I have shut out of my life by virtue of once having such a closed heart. Today, even if I don’t feel a deep connection, I know that we are each playing a role on one another’s paths. Most of these people do not consciously see me as a teacher. At some point, though, we come to see that the entire play of consciousness—what we tend to consider “the life experience” and/or “the world”—is, in innumerable ways, pointing right back into our divine self-knowledge. At this point, there is no escaping the lessons that begin to unfold around us. Sometimes it is so heavy-handed, it feels like too much: How was I so blind before?

Then, we begin to gently direct others back inwards. As I move more intuitively into the role of a teacher, I do this. It is challenging when people have not consciously accepted me as a teacher, because I know that is what I am called to do in this body/mind/form. It is becoming less and less possible to avoid doing this work, but not everyone has signed up for it on purpose. This is just another thing I’m learning navigate so that I can continue to be a light in the world. It is very important that I don’t build up an air of conceit over spiritual matters, and continue to accept everyone wherever they are at. 

When light is bright it hurts the eyes of those who are in darkness. As always, I say this firsthand: The light of God (which is ultimately Me and You) terrified and burned me greatly, such is its power. Not everyone wants to see their light—and in fact, when we are exposed to it for the first time, we often reflexively turn away. I turned away many many times before embracing what had actually occurred. Sometimes I still backslide into my old programming, but at the very least, I am aware that this can happen.

Until we are really ready, expanded consciousness can seem like terror, boredom, weakness, maybe even evil depending on the ego-identity of the one who is looking. These are all simply negative labels the mind places on Truth to avoid being blown away by it.

About my time in Georgetown: It was a pretty nourishing environment and a lovely little town. But I felt acutely my heart’s need to be in delving further into itself rather than building new relationships. I am still coming into my light, and feel a strong need to be alone, and/or near a teacher.

What good teachers really represent is pockets of powerful energy. I am reminded of a couple times Jim has mentioned on his blog this situation we get into after awakening: We have been broken and hurt for so long, and part of the awakening process is to heal. You can heal without awakening, but you probably are not going to go through an awakening without a significant period of healing.

Surely it is possible to have the ego surrender and dissolve completely, all at once, but this seems relatively rare, for reasons I am not going to guess at other than to say that the ego-identity is deeply entrenched. Usually it takes a bit of digging at rather than being pulled out at once on the first go.

Anyway, most of us will need several reparative surgeries as we integrate our awakening. We’re all walking around full of broken bones and open wounds, but we’ve been taking pain killers for generations and generations. Awakening says, “it’s time to heal now,” and takes all of our painkillers away so we can actually see and feel what needs to be dealt with. The things that used to work excellently for avoidance—watching television, drinking, Tindering, binge-eating—don’t numb us out in the way they used to.

It is very unsettling when you try to “go back” to your old habits for comfort, only to have them feel hollow and useless. I’m convinced this can even happen with habits such as yoga or meditation, even though they are considered spiritual. If we’re used to getting a certain sense of stability or comfort from them and spontaneously wake up, these things can also feel “off.” A fundamental inner change is taking place, and yep, it really hurts and it’s super weird.

Depending on your own personal lineage and history, you may need dozens of surgeries to “reset your bones,” so to speak, or even re-break them if they’ve healed up improperly at a previous time. What this amounts to in real day-to-day life is you needing a fuckton of rest as you undergo a complete energetic overhaul. Each time you come back in a little better shape; then you try to do something new and discover you still have some broken bones. You have to keep going back to the surgeon—in this case, divine intelligence and awakened energy—until your body is back in the condition it was meant to be in.

Some procedures, like having a cut on your knee stitched up, can take place anywhere, and almost any doctor can handle it. Other, deeper wounds may require a higher level of skill, and a super hygienic operating room. Good teachers are essential here. Our deepest wounds probably require a super-clean operating room and a surgeon who really knows wtf he/she is doing. It feels really important to say that this is not about “other people” being unconscious or having “bad energy.” It’s about honoring the healing process, doing what we know is best for ourselves, and choosing to be in places that are suited for the “energetic surgery” we require.

To be sure, it really does just feel as though God is pulling me along by a string. And when I say god I mean consciousness. And when I say consciousness I mean a state of Being beyond words, thought, or imagination. I also mean the most mundane, ordinary things, including stuff we don’t like. None of it is separate.

– lish

Location: En route to Vegas from El Paso

There is no Spiritual Hierarchy

There is no spiritual hierarchy. In a world of seekers, teachers, gurus, masters, monks, yogis, and on and on, it can be easy to fall into the mentality of believing there is someone “above” you, or with greater wisdom. This is false. Similarly, you are never “above” someone else, even if you are blessed with insights others don’t seem to see yet. Wisdom exists in equal measure in all of us, though many unconsciously lock this wealth of knowledge away under many delusions. There is no ladder on which you are “beneath” your teacher, and if you have a teacher worth a damn, he or she will know this. He or she will know that “they” as a person with a name and a title are really nothing at all.

The paradox—and there always is one—is that in the play of consciousness, some individuals surely have been hit with realizations that others haven’t experienced. These are the people we like to have as teachers. As far as I can tell, this kind of divine lightning strike occurs for unknown reasons, and is not about them being “chosen” or “special” in God’s eyes.

In such a way, we can regard some teachers as being “further” along the path while also trying to bearing in mind that there really is no path, no teacher, and no student.

When the dam of illusion breaks and great wisdom comes pouring forth, it is expressed uniquely through different beings—or sometimes not at all. Not all awakened beings teach with words. However, they do teach, because deep energetic silence is one of the most powerful states to dwell in. The still presence of an awakened being teaches through sitting alone. I have written before that some of the greatest teachers teach by silence: Unless they feel moved, they don’t compromise the supreme stillness of God in favor of words, which are often interpreted solely on a mental level.

Often, the word we use to describe words (as roundabout as that statement may sound) is “pointers.” Words are “tools” to point to Truth. There are many tools available to teachers that direct people back to their own wisdom. With this blog I do my best to use words as tools to point to Truth. Sometimes I use them to write stories and/or metaphors, which are also tools. Sometimes I ask challenging questions. Sometimes I go quiet or look at people with stoic inquisitiveness when they’re all in their minds rather than continue to have a fruitless conversation.

All of these things are tools, things to utilize given the specific situation. It is worth noting that we really are all very different in the ways we walk the path. One person may love the energy of a teacher, another may be totally repelled by it. Neither’s response is right or wrong, and neither person is above another in the situation.

If you have been told it takes x amount of years to “achieve” some special wisdom, or ten thousand lifetimes to “get enlightened,” this is simply untrue. Similarly, if you believe you possess something special that only you can “transmit” to another person, that’s your ego talking. Usually these kinds of beliefs are handed down (or circulated in a new sect of spirituality) and accepted by each person’s ego-identity. It makes us feel good to imagine we are doing something new and amazing. But no matter how deep or novel they seem, these are just additional conditioned beliefs your ego will need to let go of one day.

The essence of spirituality is that it actually breaks down all hierarchies: In our culture, a great number of false hierarchies exist around race, gender, sexual expression, economic status, cultural history, etc. They are only sustained by our belief in them, which is to say they are ultimately illusory. What we are seeking on the path is the removal of all illusions. If humans were to  be stripped of our delusive beliefs about ourselves and one another at once, these hierarchies would crumble immediately.

Sometimes people ask me pointedly: “What makes you so sure you know?” They are speaking to my ego-identity when they ask, and the truth is that “that person” has no idea. In the end, she does not really exist. She is a passing cloud in a timeless sky. I really don’t think I know much of anything at all.

What it  feels like is that I was once a lion under a spell that made me believe I was an ant. I’d been told I was an ant, tried to internalize that I was an ant, and then went about trying to behave like an ant. It felt awkward and bad, because I wanted to roll around in the sun and hunt instead of building an anthill. No part of me was suited to the work of an ant. One day I went to the watering hole and saw my true reflection—actually saw it for the first time: “A-ha! I’m not the thing I think I am—and neither is anyone else!”

For some reason, the spell started to wear off off, and now I want other people to also remember the unlimited awesomeness that will express itself uniquely, according to their own nature.

This is not a metaphor about achieving more in the world, or being “bigger” in the sense of being at the top of some pyramid. In reality, ants and lions are both beautiful expressions of the one indivisible whole, each with their own role within the animal kingdom. It is meant to highlight that the primary delusion we live under is that we are something totally different than what we really are. The thing we really are is much larger than the hypnosis we’ve been under for so long. In fact, it is limitless.

The change that occurs upon realization cannot be overstated. It flips everything around, and at first it can feel like living in Bizarro World. Things are backwards, and you don’t know how to behave anymore. And while the ego usually tries to cling to an “awakened ego”—the one that likes to show itself off as being spiritually aware, start doing psychic readings and past-life regressions—this, too, will melt away in time. I’ve had my ego rebuild and fall apart so many times since my initial “aha” moment. It is always looking for a new set of permanent clothing to have on: “Okay, I’m this now. Now I’m an energy healer. Now I’m a writer. Now I read tarot.”

This isn’t to say you won’t be an energy healer or writer or whatever when the ego has been seen through, but that you will always know these roles are like masks to take on and put off when it is helpful. You will fearlessly be yourself.

We remember that these illusory divisions we create amongst ourselves are just that: Completely illusory. You and the person you’re doing a psychic reading for are both just fleeting forms on the screen of consciousness, so it’s okay to lighten up. We can honor those beings who are established in the Self to such a degree that their energy helps us to clarify our own insights, but we do not exist in perpetual servitude to them (unless one chooses the path of service to a guru, which is also fine when chosen consciously).

We are all of one unending fabric, each as unique expressions of this fabric. This is important to bear in mind as we choose a spiritual community, and even better, to watch the feelings/thoughts that keep us trapped in these ideas of being “more important” or “less important” than others. I also think it helps us to keep a skeptical eye on certain massively powerful religions that are very much about “the spiritual hierarchy.” Even with a minor spiritual insight, we can say with near-certainty that Jesus would not have been down with a spiritual hierarchy.

There’s quite a difference between being a spiritually mature leader and being a figure of false authority who just happens to wear certain robes and have some verses out of a book memorized. Many people are of the latter group. “Removing” power from these institutions really just comes down to stepping into and dwelling within your own power, which is far greater than we tend to believe.

– lish

Location: San Antonio, TX

When Life Throws Pies

I’d like to start this post with a Mooji quote I only remember loosely: “As soon as you think you have life ‘figured out,’ life will throw a pie in your face.”

This is hilariously true. Every time I think I’ve “got it,” or even that I know what my “next step” is, something strange happens. The universe corrects me: You know nothing, lish. Stop trying to make things happen and dissolve yourself. At least now these lessons tend to be gentle as opposed to the ego-obliterating experience of having a public mental breakdown. At that time, God was hitting me hard, showing me all the secrets of the universe while simultaneously humiliating the small, egoic me.

In case you’re new to this blog, what I’m talking about is the “manic episode” I had about 2 and a half years ago. I put “manic episode” in quotes because I no longer buy into conventional stories of mental illness. If anything, I believe there is an illness that afflicts the vast majority of humanity, and it is the illness of conditioning. And I surely don’t see myself as illhell, I don’t even regard that time in my life as “bad” anymore. Don’t get me wrong: It was totally chaotic, unstable, and exhausting, but it went the way it went and I learned a lot from it. I now regard the episode as a blown-out expansion of consciousness that I was unprepared for. It occurred about a year after a spontaneous click of soul realization, a moment that changed everything forever. As Emerson might say, I was “blasted with an excess of light.”

Sometimes life is rough with us and grinds us down with a heavy hand. We have a choice to either be humbled and take the time to look into ourselves, or to feel angry and resentful by “what life/the world has done to us.” Often, we fluctuate between these two perspectives until the former becomes the only tenable position to take. I am now accepting of every life experience that has pummeled me into whatever I am now. In my heart I say to consciousness, Truth, God, whatever: Make me dust and nothingness, because I know You are there.

So there are your manic episode/forcible hospitalization-sized pies, and there are your “oh you think you’re going to be single, really?”-sized pies. I’m dealing with that second pie now. Life is catching me, yet again, but I am also being reminded that even my best-laid plans can be upended at any moment. I have no control; you have no control. Control is illusory. This has been made real in my experience over and over again.

Here’s my most recent example: Yesterday I planned to fly from Austin, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana. Why? Cheap tickets and a dear friend.

When I got to the gate, I learned that my flight would actually be departing from the other side of the airport. At that gate, I ended up in conversation with a man who was also planning to fly from Austin to New Orleans. We chatted while listening for more announcements regarding our flight, but didn’t hear anything about the departure gate getting switched back. When our flight time rolled around we decided to go back to the original gate. We weren’t allowed on the plane since it had already boarded. They gave us the “you’re supposed to be here 10 minutes before take-off” spiel, and our tickets were refunded. This is the first flight I’ve ever missed, by the way, and it didn’t happen because I was late.

At that point, I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing—like, at all. I didn’t really have any official business in New Orleans, and to be honest, I hadn’t even made solid plans with the friend who lives there. If I’d been alone I would’ve just gone back to Austin. But the man I’d been talking to offered to take me to his place in Georgetown, Texas, and I took him up on it. We had a delicious dinner followed by several mineral waters and then I stayed at his place. I informed him early in the evening of my intention not to date anyone on account of my fucked up man issues. He was chill with it; I slept alone.

So here’s the pie: The universe hands me this person three days after I decide not to date anyone for three months. I wonder, is this a trap set by my mind to see how committed I am to my true self? Or is this life handing me something I didn’t think I wanted but that is actually really beautiful, and to push it away would be foolish? Are both of these questions pointless? Should I quit overthinking every unforeseen twist in my life?

My answer for now is to just bask in gratitude, to sit on the deck in the Texan humidity drinking Topo-Chico as my heart beats out of my chest. It is to listen very closely to my inner wisdom, be honest, and enjoy the hell out of my life.

Anyway. He had to go to Los Angeles for work tonight so now I’m staying at his (beautiful) apartment until he returns. The last thing I said to him before he left was “I have literally nothing to offer you.”

Of course I don’t know how this happened. If you’d asked me 28 hours ago, “lish, where will you be tomorrow?” I would have said something like “drinking espresso and eating beignets while writing.” To be fair, that also sounds dope, but I’m pretty sure this is better. I am alone and at peace. I have a very comfy bed. There is a lot of healthy food here. I like this guy. All is well.

So I have no idea about life, you guys. I just have no idea. I continue to drop into myself and take chances and the universe/God/whatever continues to provide in all of these unexpected ways. This is what I mean by “divine flow:” Trusting that you can fall into yourself and your path, leap into the great unknown, and that you will land somewhere soft.

To be sure: I do not mean you should expect to meet only kind people who will take you in. But you might. You might also end up sleeping on the street. It might be pretty bad in physical reality, say, if you are shivering with cold and unable to secure food. I recommend doing some light planning before you drop out of your whole life, but simultaneously, I’m like, shrug. Wake up to Reality and do what you will. Simplify and find happiness there. If you experience a deep spiritual realization, you may be moved to do any number of seemingly stupid things, and my blog is not going to change that one bit.

Besides, this is the gamble we take when we decide we want to go further on the path. The “somewhere soft” place you land is a field of awareness inside, not anywhere in physical space-time.

I want to say that there is a deep, powerful knowing inside of you that you really can trust. Your ultimate destination is your true Self, which is also where the thought of “you” began. “You” are also just a thought, subject to the fleeting nature of the phenomenal world. What you really are is not a thought or a feeling or even a collection of these things. Every time you say something like “Yes but I’m just so…” you are falsely identifying with a temporal mental construct.

When it comes to the evolution of consciousness, the first step is the last and the last step is the first. There is no first or last and truly no sequential events, because there is no time. Consciousness is all there ever was and all there ever will be.

All of this is in you to remember, and when you do have a click of realization about who you are and what life  is, everything changes. I mean everything, including those things you might think you don’t want to change. If you seek to awaken, there is probably an intense ride ahead of you. There is also no other choice, because awakening to Reality is the destiny of all beings.

To quote one of my favorite Smiths songs, there is a light that never goes out.

– lish

location: Georgetown, TX

 

A Quick Note

I’m at SeaTac airport, on my way to Austin, Texas. I am seeing very clearly what I need to do right now, which is the following:

  1. Deactivate my social media, and
  2. Make this blog private in about a week and not think about it anymore.

I am not completely free. I continue to slip into the dream that I am my ego-identity and from this hypnosis I reenact old patterns. I am a vastly better and healthier person than in years past, but I am not free. The ultimate aim of the spiritual path is liberation from the belief in false personhood/ego-identity, and that is not where I’m at.

It is not wise for me to write about freedom until this is no longer the case.

That’s all I am going to say for now ❤

In love and Truth,

lish

location: Seattle, WA

I Know Nothing

So it’s been awhile.

For whatever reason, I didn’t have a lot of motivation to write in L.A. Los Angeles really is its own unique kind of crazy, one that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I am constantly surprised by how I hang in situations that would’ve really been rough for me a few years ago. Guess what? There is no need to mentally label big cities “pavement shitholes,” which is what I used to do to some degree. I mean, it is obvious that humans tend to do better when there’s a higher degree of things like oxygen, fresh water, life-giving trees, biodiversity, etc. However, when those things aren’t around, I no longer end up dwelling in resistance and disturbing my natural peace.

I will admit though that L.A. is where I lost nearly all tolerance for all the “where are you from/what do you do” kind of stuff. This is because it was basically the same conversation most of the time and I didn’t have the desire to weird it up. Also, I’ve lost all sense of how to respond to these questions, in part because they feel meaningless. The ego is a collection of trivia like this and I’d prefer that we don’t go on playing the ego-game. Also, the past feels largely irrelevant; it’s not real except for in our minds (this is true of everything, but, I digress). Sometimes I dig into it for writing purposes, to explore my array of emotions, but I no longer believe that a shared past is a reliable tool for how well we know one another (in part because we are always changing, and sometimes very rapidly).

Of course, I do not think anyone really likes small talk. I think that because if you end up in a conversation with someone for more than like fifteen minutes, they usually say something along the lines of “I don’t like small talk.” It’s one of those things we all keep doing even though we don’t like it, just like we keep on asking each other “how are you” every time we meet, even though it is unnecessary and usually invites some degree of dishonesty.

Point is: By the time I was ready to leave L.A. it was like “okay yeah it’s really time to go.”

Just like in every other city I went, I spent some amount of time taking really long walks to nearby places, music in ears, sun on face. I really can’t express how necessary this feels to me, music and walking. It is meditative and energizing but not with the same goal-oriented kind of feeling you get when you move with the intention of “getting a work out.”

Clearly I’m all for physical exercise, but I’m not a huge fan of how we tend to treat every single thing in life like a means to an end: “I’m running to live longer, to be healthy, to increase my mile time, to lose weight…” The truth is, you don’t have to have a reason to do anything at all, and the reasonless heart-stuff is The Best. You can run or walk just to do it, because it feels good; you can live your life however you want to just to do it, because it feels good and right. That’s all there is to it, honestly.

Never have I gotten done with a music-walk and felt like “oh, I wish I’d gotten done faster.” It really is just fun; it feels like the way I am supposed to move my body. And there were definitely times when I knew how weird I probably looked—walking down the sidewalk, passing strangers with a huge grin. Somehow I have become a genuinely happy person with no interest in unnecessary negativity (and most of it is unnecessary) and this kind of blows my mind.

Now I’m back in the physical location I call home (the Pacific Northwest), though I cannot stress enough that on the spiritual path, we begin to feel like almost everywhere we are is a place we can call home. Can I find somewhere to sit quietly for a few minutes and meditate? That’s all I need to have home, inside, and even that’s not really a requirement. I’ve lost a lot of the need to “my own space” and a lot of privacy, and I sort of think that these things are mostly egoic (and generally Western) luxuries. I believe this is the result of most of us not knowing how to maintain our energy without distancing ourselves from others physically. Learning how to stay balanced anywhere is highly valuable.

The flipside of that is that in L.A., I really did feel like it was necessary for me to put my headphones in and retreat into “my own world” in order to maintain my energy at times. I don’t know; there are no hard and fast rules. On the path, you learn to be around anyone and yet retain yourself solidly—sometimes that means you have to tune everyone else out for a minute, and hope that your friends are understanding of that.

Part of what makes this physical place home is that my blood family is here. Even though I also believe that on the spiritual path we embrace the entire human family without exception, there is something pretty awesome about having my 2-year-old niece come running to see me and jumping up for a hug. It is warm and good.

I cannot emphasize how little I know about my future right now. I have a few leads on things that will help me make money that I would feel super good about, but I haven’t heard back yet, and yeah, that’s kind of uncomfortable. The last couple of months (continuing into this period of time) have been filled with uncertainty and wobbliness, but they actually don’t feel all that uncertain or wobbly because I feel solid in myself. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean I have to freak out about it. This is all great practice for simply sitting in the unknown. When we seek to grow spiritually (or personally or creatively; it’s all the same), we learn not only to sit in the unknown but throw ourselves into it willingly and with full trust.

And here’s something we forget almost every moment of every day: All certainty is illusory. You really do not know if your heart is going to stop, if someone you love is going to die soon, if the floor’s gonna open up and swallow you into nothingness. According to physical laws we might contend that the last one is less likely, but really, truly, I don’t know. I have never known, I’m just finally at a place where I’ve decided I’m not going to pretend like I do. The egoic mind loves the illusion of certainty because it helps it to feel safe, and the ego wants nothing more than to be safe and unchanging, even though the world we live in is anything but safe and unchanging.

On the other side, things like predictability and likelihood just feel ridiculously presumptuous. What are the “odds” of any of this existing in the first place? What even is non-existence, and how do you presume to know what that is like? Is non-existence synonymous with permanent unconsciousness? Is the life experience a blip of consciousness sandwiched somewhere in between two infinite periods of unconsciousness? The glory of being human is that we have the opportunity to think these kinds of things in the first place. Even better, we have the opportunity to not think about these things anymore because the mental chasing actually leads to nowhere. This is why we sit down to pull back from the mind, watch it go cray cray, and at some point emerge in stillness.

Life and the world can (and do) change extremely fast, and we do ourselves no favors by trying to deny this. The next breath is not a guarantee. The sunrise is not even a guarantee. So what is?

When I ask this question I’m trying to get at the undying foundational thread that runs through all things, which is consciousness itself. In its pure, limitless form, it can be found and and fallen into—honestly, this is the first thing we should do as human beings. If you are not undoubtedly solid in your self-knowledge as pure consciousness, totally immortal, there is work to do my friend (and I have mine, too!).

If you believe you are solid in your self-knowledge as pure consciousness, it should inform a way of life that is happy and free in practice. I can’t even begin to say how many self-described “spiritual” folks I’ve seen get super angry about relatively small things and blame it on someone else’s ignorance, someone else’s “stuff.” They maybe know all about chakras and meditate regularly but are still happy to pass the buck and blame others for their personal anger, which they also take fully seriously. All of this is rooted in egoic thought and a current inability (or unwillingness) to look at oneself and the way we create energy and situations. The path of turning inward ain’t easy or comfy, but it’s the only game to play.

In any case: Inward/outward, self/other, spiritual/non-spiritual, same/same. All these words are equally just symbols that the mind turns into something meaningful.

– Lish

P.S.: My one year of sobriety anniversary came and went on March 25th. I spent it eating a plate of veggie enchiladas in Echo Park, and then I slept on a friend’s couch. (I am also learning how cool I am with sleeping on couches.) I feel so gangster about being totally sober, you guys. I’ll write more about that someday. I’ve also made the choice to be consciously unpartnered for a time. I like this phrase a lot more than I like the word “single,” but that’s also a whole nother topic.

location: Portland, OR