Category Archives: Daily reminders

the source of thoughts

thinker-clipart-thinking-person-hiIn our western culture, we assume that the source of thinking is the mind.

This was deeply embedded in my parents’ belief system, and passed along to me. It was an unquestioned assumption.

But how could this be? The so-called mind (which is a concept; I have never found a thing called “the mind,” have you?) is itself an apparent object. It is a thought; it cannot generate thought.

Thoughts bubble up in consciousness, like every other apparent thing that manifests. They arise in in it, and are made of it.

©Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
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coincidence and mind

diceWhat is this phenomenon we call coincidence? Inner knowing says: seemingly coincidental events are not extraordinary, not at all–in fact, they are quite ordinary.

Mind delights in entertaining itself with stories of magic and mystery.

Some moment–now, or in an eon or two–thought notices the endless, repeating, always-behind-the-present nature of itself, and tires. No-thing it followed, yearned for, and commented upon has fulfilled its longing for more, for answers, for riches, for love, for understanding. For the briefest instant, thought stops.

The whisper of a crack appears. Dust settles there. Perhaps a trickle of water finds its way through. A seed plants itself. Maybe a teacher appears. Soon, the crack is an ever-widening crevice, pushed open by the roots of knowing. There is no stopping the process; the pattern has crossed the point of no return. Frightened, thought–which in turn is laced and embedded with feeling–scrabbles for the known. But the known is unreliable; it comes and goes. Suffering or chaos ensue. Little bubbles of grace erupt. Eventually, the pattern cannot hold together, and crumbles, finer, finer–much like the first dust that floated into that tiny fissure.

Mind quiets, or at least is not given much credence. It is recognized for what it is: a necessary tool for some aspects of life.

A generous love blooms.

And what of coincidence? Each time, a gentle reminder that this unfolding pageant stems from the same eternal, infinite source.

©Amrita Skye Blaine
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start here

bird in dogs mouth

I come across this photo. The mind squawks, “No! Poor bird!”

Pausing, I start here. Here, now. Quietly notice.

The dog’s lip is curved around sharp teeth. In the retrieving world, this is called “soft mouth.” The bird’s feet are not clamped in distress, nor do they seem dead. They may be registering surprise, but again, that’s the mind commenting. I can’t know.

Smiling, I imagine the dog opened her mouth and, the bird, sensing fresh air and opportunity, took flight—another comment of the mind.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
photo origin: unknown. If you are aware the source, please contact me so I can properly assign credit.

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what is disappointment?

disappointment.1Our sage is ill, flattened by a virulent flu he picked up on an international flight. 106 people from all over the world have gathered for a week to be with him–from Colorado, North Carolina, Switzerland, Australia.

A week or more, carved out with care–we shoved back or delegated work, engaged house and animal sitters, cleaned out the fridge, put the mail on hold. Invested hard-earned savings. Such an opening for disappointment to flood in.

What is this thing we call disappointment? The mind weaves a story that circumstances should be other than they are: threads of “what ifs” and “whys” and “how comes” and perhaps even an “oh poor me.”

But I’ve heard none of that–no undercurrent of grousing. No grumbling at all. Only wishes for the return of our sage’s well-being. This community is enjoying what has been given: the sweetness of like-hearted souls who find themselves sharing space and time in an unanticipated way. What a lovely marker that the teaching has gained more than a footing, has actually taken root.

Are there preferences? You can count on it. But when we notice druthers and leave them alone, they come and go–naturally, like breath.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
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encountering the apparent other

elephant-seal free-picture.netOn Sunday, we drove to Drakes Beach in Point Reyes, California. The day dawned clear and rose to sweater weather in the afternoon. Part of the beach was cordoned off to protect unexpected visitors, elephant seals. A female and three young males lounged, occasionally flipping sand on their backs to keep cool. One male rushed the female, practicing his humping technique. She seemed bored and put upon by his youthful antics.

About forty people milled. I listened carefully, and heard comments like “ungainly” and “ugly.” A few people laughed, and made crude jokes while they pointed. That’s what the unexamined human mind does. Discernment, a necessary and useful tool, bleeds into less useful judgement at another’s expense.

This beautiful male–about seven years old, I learned from the naturalist–weighs 2000-3000 pounds. He’s a teenager, who will almost double in weight in the next few years. He is perfectly designed for his ocean habitat, hunting squid ten months of the year in the frigid depths. On the sand, he can move so fast that a human needs to run to get out of his way. He is curious, but not judging the restless humans crowding and pushing to get near. The three naturalists have to be very attentive to keep this crowd safe.

I had a precious minute with him eye-to-eye. Benign awareness radiated–the same awareness I find within myself. There was no other here. Our forms are different, yes. Our ways and habits of being in this world vary. But as we gazed at each other, I noticed that he too, is abiding, at rest in himself.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
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prayer, take two

Buddha hands flippedPrayer used to be a big part of my spiritual practice–a longing for the Beloved similar to what you’ll find in the poetry of Rumi.

In 2008, nine months after I was introduced to the non-dual teaching, prayer fell away, as did the concept I held of the Beloved. I remember sitting frozen in my recliner. My whole belief system had crumbled. This shift occurred abruptly one afternoon, and for a few months, I felt disillusioned and angry. I wanted to go back to the beliefs I used to hold–and discovered that wasn’t possible. Once I had seen through my own carefully constructed house of cards, I could not unsee.

Fast forward seven years. I was soaking in the hot tub one night last week, and discovered myself in prayer. This prayer was neither “to” something, nor “for” something, and it had no words. It felt like abiding in sacred openness.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
I do not know the source of this beautiful graphic. If anyone does, please contact me. I would like to credit it properly.

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on friendship

infinity-signMy friend and I met forty years ago in December. We lived close to one another for eighteen years, then a shuttle and airplane flight apart, in the same town again, and now, about an hour and a quarter distance by car. We are not physically together very often, but carved out the opportunity to sit this afternoon at a table outside of Whole Foods in San Rafael.

When we are with each other, time vanishes and hearts merge. It is clear that one consciousness speaks as we share. Our perspectives are not identical, but meld in finely tuned comprehension. We have often said that our paths–although different–have traveled in close proximity. This kind of friendship, which soaks in the deepest love and understanding, is one of life’s precious jewels.

I have been fostered, encouraged, and sustained by my friend. We are aging now, and who knows? Any visit might be the last in these fragile, mysterious vehicles we call bodies, or we might enjoy a hundred more. Whatever we are given, I am grateful beyond measure.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit unknown

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the razor’s edge

beach sunsetToday, a friend described sitting in meditation: she can easily fall into noticing objects, or drop off to sleep–but instead, wants to remain at the margin, on what she calls the razor’s edge.

For decades, our minds were trained to jump to thoughts, feelings, sensations, or perceptions; they are an obvious resting place. If we don’t go there, sleep seems like a way out. I have slept through more meditations than I care to count.

What’s helpful for me is to get very curious about that margin my friend spoke about. It’s a lively placeless-place of non-doing–awake and transparent. Thoughts want to take charge, but if I don’t pick them up–don’t touch them at all–they sink into the background. Open clarity abounds.

Thoughts, of course, pop up again. We have found them so interesting and entertaining. Leave them alone; by now, don’t we know where they lead? In my experience, thoughts always follow the same general pattern: they lag behind present moment experience, are often repetitive and off kilter, particularly those that want to capture us in old, familiar story.

Instead of returning yet again to our oldest patterns, let’s dance on the razor’s edge.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
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finding it, losing it

finding it losing itMy introduction to the nondual teachings began with the 2008 Open Path training offered by Elias Amidon. During the nine-month program, the participants gather for four days at the beginning, middle, and end, and in between, there are pertinent readings and spacious phone calls.

One comment, often repeated by a few of the participants in the beginning, was “I had it, but I lost it.” When I queried them, they complained they were finding and losing pure awareness. I instinctively knew this was a misunderstanding, but didn’t have words to explain. I was, after all, just as new to these teachings are they were.

This morning, commuting to Rupert Spira’s retreat, a conversation with friends clarified this misapprehension from long ago. Pure awareness is always here and now, infinite and eternal. How could we lose what we are, what is prior to all manifestation? What comes and goes is the focus of our attention. When attention is narrowed to follow or find a thought or object, pure awareness appears veiled; it may feel as though we have lost “it.” When attention relaxes its focus and widens, we rest–in and as–awareness again. Knowingly.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit: fox following hound

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chirping thoughts

chirping birdWhen I sit, allowing awareness to de-focus and spread wide, I often notice chirping thoughts. They pop up unasked for, and are often repetitive. I label them annoying.

I asked Rupert Spira about this yesterday afternoon. At the time of the meeting, a chain saw was growling steadily in the distance. He drew our attention to the sound, and pointed out that although we heard it, it held no meaning, and didn’t draw our focus. It was like wallpaper–not there to attract attention, but to serve as background.

Like many of us, our culture and my parents hammered into me that being productive and busy has value; stillness does not.

Today, as love and ease grow with simply “being aware of being aware,” chirping thoughts fall back, and delicious, open knowing fills the foreground.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit: chirping bird

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