Life As Is

How we see life changes over time. When we are children or young adults, it stretches before us in vast waves of possibility and potential. In middle age, we become one with the waves and often forget about our own progress on the trajectory of life. Then as we begin to grow older, we may find ourselves looking more closely into the greater meaning of life and our own lives in particular. A subtle shift in language occurs: “my life” becomes “the rest of my life.” How strange that seems, both to hear and to say. That “rest” could be 30+ years or one year, no way of knowing. Of course, that is true at any time of our lives, but the longer we live, the deeper we feel that truth.

 As I look at my life, I feel both joy and sadness. Joy at the blessings that fill it, both people and experiences, and sadness at its ephemeral essence. Impermanence is the basic nature of life on Earth. Yet, full acceptance of that very impermanence is one of the greatest pieces of wisdom we can attain in our lifetime. At a certain point, we come to realize that all we are given here is rich beyond words. Language cannot fully express the wonder of living with eyes and heart wide-open on this sweet planet. The longer I live, the more profoundly I am touched by the beauty of Nature and the love of friends and family, realizing it is all fleeting and everlasting simultaneously.

Over time, I have come to surrender to life exactly as it presents itself. That is the essence of the spiritual journey I have been on for many years. Initially I was looking for a way to accept eternity, the stretch of infinity beyond my lifetime. What I found, and continue to find, is that that acceptance lies hidden in all the details of my daily life. Each tree, flower, or human soul I encounter is eternal, the entire universe held in its very beingness. When I stand in awe of that living Presence, I “hold infinity in the palm of my hand,” as William Blake wrote. Infinity, once a source of fear and suffering for me, instead becomes a source of liberation.

Humans invented time and space to try to explain the world and our lives. When we step away from that limited view, explanation is no longer necessary. We stand in eternal Presence, and within that is the meaning of life. What I have searched for most of my life is not what I thought it was. It is not an answer to a question, but rather living beyond questions and answers. This is what Ram Dass referred to as “loving awareness.” It is not something that can be explained but only experienced. And the longer you live, the deeper the experience.

Ultimately, we discover there is no end, nor any beginning. Definitions and parameters fall away, and all that is before and within me is life as is, both a miracle and a blessing. Human joy and sadness interweave within that vision. Every single experience is part of life, designed at the soul level for our expansion into awareness of the light that fills us—and everything.


We humans spend so much of our lives waiting: for the bus or train, in traffic, in the dentist’s office, in the checkout line, for vacation. Waiting to be 21 and then waiting for retirement. In a blink of an eye, our entire lives have passed in waiting for the next event or experience. Often we miss the moment we are living through because our minds are preoccupied with looking to the future. Yet the future doesn’t really exist; it is always running ahead of us, tempting us to forget where we are now.

The wisdom handed down from spiritual teachers like Ram Dass is to “Be here now.” Because now is all we have. The fantasy of the future and the memory of the past are mental distractions, which often keep us stuck in dissatisfaction. If we can learn to focus on each moment, appreciation and peace of mind arise and help us relax into being instead of aspiring.

I was thinking of this recently when Anne and I stayed at Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, for a few days. Daily life there is very simple: yoga, meditation, meals, walking in Nature, resting or reading. No TV or video; cell phones restricted to use in one room only. Breakfast is silent; quiet, contemplative presence is encouraged. Coming from the external world of noise and activity, Kripalu visitors may discover that it takes consciously letting go to become aligned with a state of being that is actually quite natural to all of us.

At home, I meditate and do yoga every day as well as walk quietly in Nature, so this was not new. However, at Kripalu, I found myself facing my habits of checking emails and going online for one reason or another. Daily routines of busyness. Without them, I realized I was “waiting” for the next meal or yoga session, feeling a bit lost. Even though I have been to Kripalu and other retreat centers many times, this awareness of my own “waiting” mindset was a real teaching for me.

The energy of the external world can catch us up in its fast pace at an unconscious level. We think it is normal. Empty space and time can feel odd. And yet they are completely natural, and it is why I and so many people go to places like Kripalu. To live fully in each moment without looking behind or ahead. So, I sat with that awareness. Within it, I remembered that I could easily bring myself back to the moment, wherever I am, by focusing on some detail in my environment: a tree, a cloud, a person, a pattern of light on the wall, birdsong. Or my own breathing, which is the Presence focus in so many traditions. The breath is only ever in the now. When I step into that soul space of pure being, I stop waiting.

So, the best part of my visit to Kripalu was reawakened awareness of living fully in the present moment without waiting for the next one. It’s a practice, an ongoing reminder of how rich each second of our lives is. No need to “wait for it,” It’s all here, right now.

Miracle Earth

Stop for a minute and consider where you are. You, along with billions of other living beings, live on a planet that rotates around a giant ball of fire at exactly the distance that allows for life to occur on it. Other planets circling the same fiery ball are not positioned so that life as we know it can be sustained. On Earth, the greens of the land and the blues of the oceans arise from the perfect blending of temperature and light. The lengths of the days and nights and the seasonal changes unfold seamlessly. That in itself is a miracle. Each day we take morning, afternoon, and night for granted. We take the warmth of the sun for granted. We take the air that we breathe for granted. Yet all of it is miraculous.

And fragile. We are repeatedly counseled to care for this Earth with tenderness, as if she were our Mother. As she is. Without her (and Father Sun), we would not exist. This small blue and green marble in the midst of millions of galaxies and universes is unique. A tiny cell in the cosmos. An expression of universal consciousness, as are each of us who live here. Is this not a miracle to keep us in awe for the rest of our days here on Earth?

Sometimes I imagine myself floating among the stars, multiverses stretching in every direction beyond my ability to even fully conceive of them. I picture myself part of an infinite tapestry of light and beingness. Eternity unleashed. Such an imagined vision used to frighten me—and at times still does. Yet, more and more, I feel the miraculous beauty of it, and I am filled with peace. Peace beyond understanding or definition. I experienced such boundless peace in the recovery room after breast cancer surgery two years ago; I felt myself held by a Presence that both calmed and comforted me.  Ever since, it seems not that far away. If I allow that awareness to arise from soul memory, then everything shines with that grace, that divine peace, that miracle. There is nothing else.

If you open your heart wide enough (or it is cracked open by circumstance), you will be gifted with your own version of the miraculous, and it will never leave you. Each one of us on this planet is destined to receive this wonder: an entire universe present in every seemingly small detail of our expansive, infinitely unfolding lives.

And you don’t have to go through surgery to experience it! Take a walk through the spring woods, look up at the starry night sky, watch the brilliant colors of a sunset, or share a sacred moment of connection with a loved one. It’s all there, right before you, 24/7. Spirit finds you at just the right moment in your life and opens the door wide. You were born on planet Earth to be part of the miracle.

Appearing Nightly

What we have named God, or Spirit, lives on planet Earth in billions of human, animal, and plant forms. God appears nightly, and daily, everywhere we look, inside and out. There is nothing that is not an expression of Spirit in this world. Yet we often question her/his/its existence, especially in today’s conflict-ridden world, and repeatedly fail to recognize the divine light within ourselves. If we are spiritual or religious, we may think we have to do something to be enlightened or blessed. We see ourselves as falling short of divinity, of worthiness for blessings. And we also judge others for what we have been taught are their failings.

What if there are no failings, no impossible tasks that we have to achieve in order to be blessed by Spirit? What if we were born blessed, full of the light of God/dess, which can never be extinguished? What if everyone and everything we see on this planet is part of an intricate design of becoming, which we can only see a small portion of in our individual lives? And what if we are now living through a time in which our inner awareness opens wider and wider until we can see enough of that design to recognize it everywhere—most of all within our own hearts?

We did not come here to live and die as tarnished, imperfect, self-hating human beings. We came here as God to experience God in ourselves and all things. To realize there is no such thing as imperfection. Each of us is living out the perfect design that we decided on, with Spirit, before birth—so that we may grow and evolve, along with all living beings. We are not separate from one another. We are one another, because within Spirit, all is oneness. It lives as us and every other animate and inanimate form on Earth, each a divine expression of beingness. When we fully realize this on every level, the separations and conflicts now so prevalent on Earth will dissolve.

I’ve always had a “utopian” vision of a future world where people share responsibilities and decisions in a peaceful, circular way with no leaders or followers, no roles or hierarchy, no guns or war. All abundance shared. Creative expression encouraged and supported. Loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-centered interactions as natural as breathing because everyone sees one another as family, not “other.” Over the years, I’ve come to believe that we all have a similar vision deep inside us. We were born enlightened, with the light of God present within us as our soul. Our soul knows the overview of our life journey and is always guiding us toward more understanding and expression of our light in the world.

We have learned how to survive as individual identities in a world that doesn’t currently support soul expression, but there is an awakening occurring now on the planet. We are bridges from the old paradigm into the new as we become increasingly aware of the light within us and express it more fully in the world. We are each opening to this vision in our own way, and no one way is better than others. We will eventually realize that there is nowhere to go and nothing to attain–it’s all within us already. God is always here, day or night, 24/7. Adyashanti: “You are seeking God with [God’s] eyes.”

What Is Destiny?

The idea of destiny scares many people. They fear losing individual control over their lives, the “free will” they’ve always been told they have (in the Western world anyway): “If I can’t change the course of my life, am I a victim of circumstance? Am I a prisoner of fate?” Thoughts such as these can trap us in polarity and a single-minded view of the world. Words are like frames really; if you change the frame, the meaning changes.

What if we called destiny something else? Use a verb frame instead of a noun. How about: Destiny is flowing with the river of the universe. It is dancing with the divine music of the spheres. Living from the soul in pure loving awareness. Or all of the above. Instead of a closed door, destiny could be an open field, the one your soul and God designed together for you to play in in this lifetime. Destiny could just be another name for you and God as One.

We humans want to believe we can single-handedly control our daily lives, avoiding pain and hanging onto happiness. We fear getting lost in suffering. Yet no one can live a human life without experiencing the full spectrum of emotions, from sadness to joy. The secret is that we don’t have to suffer as we feel these things. If we open our minds and our hearts to a fully expanded soul view of the universe, then perhaps we can better see that we are one small, but essential, part of an intricately interwoven tapestry of light, color, and sound, which was created long ago (in human terms) and is continuing to unfold.

What if destiny is actually the supernovas, galaxies, and stardust from which we were born exploding across the cosmos to manifest as Planet Earth and you in this moment of human time and space? What if destiny is the spark of life itself within you? It is born, expands into shining beingness, and then gradually fades back into the universal matter from which it arose. All of it extraordinarily beautiful and magical and over which we have no control. You can only observe the unfolding in awe and wonder. This is human destiny. Within that is celebration not grief if seen through the lens of divine Presence. You are a miracle within a miracle.

Peace of mind and inner calm arise when we allow acceptance of life the way it is to fill our conscious awareness. This is not really alien to our human selves because deep within us is the core of living spirit (soul) which is peace itself. It is this Spirit that flows through the galaxies and through us and connects everything in oneness. We and the stars are destined to shine together. Accept every moment of your life, and light will radiate from you, and the idea of control will dissolve completely. Then you will know destiny as the gift of love and grace that it is.