All for Nothing!

Once upon a time there was a young man who sought enlightenment. People in his village suggested that he visit a hermit who lived on a nearby mountain… so the youth set out on his quest.

He navigated his way through a dark forest, swam across a raging river, and hiked up a steep mountain… until he finally arrived at the hermit’s dwelling. He announced to the wisened old man that he wished to know the meaning of life and had come to study with him. The hermit responded, “If you can answer my one question, you may stay.” “OK,” said the youth, “what is your question?” The old man replied, “There is a goose in a bottle. How do you get the goose out of the bottle?”

The youth asked, “Can the goose fit through the opening in the bottle?” “No,” answered the hermit. “May I cut the bottle open?” “No.” “May I break the bottle?” “No.” Discouraged, the youth told the hermit that he would like to retire to the woods to ponder over the question further.

The next day, the youth asked, “Can I heat the bottle to stretch out the mouth of the bottle?” “No.” “Can I kill the goose and pull it through the neck of the bottle?” “No, the goose must be alive.” Once more, the youth returned to the woods to think it over.

The following day, the youth asked his final question, “Perhaps the goose lays an egg and I pull that out of the bottle?” “No.” Sadly, the youth declared, “Then I have failed your test. I will return home.” He set off back down the mountain. A while later, however, mad with curiosity, he returned to the hermit. “Could you please tell me the secret? How do you get the goose out of the bottle?”

The hermit smiled at him, and said, “You want the goose out of the bottle? OK, the goose is out of the bottle.”

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I liked to share this story in my business seminars… and the more often I did, the longer the pause I left afterwards. It really is a fantastic story to illustrate how dissatisfied our minds are at the hermit’s answer. What in the world did he mean?

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Well… in reality there was no bottle, there was no goose. They were just mental ideas, without physical materiality. Our minds want there to be a problem, want there to be a solution… that’s why we are so disappointed with this story. What do you mean – says the mind – after all the trouble I’ve gone to, looking for an answer, that there is no problem? Are you saying that my analytical reasoning was all for nothing?

And that, I believe, is the great lesson of this story: that many of the questions we pose to ourselves, especially metaphysical ones, simply don’t have answers. They just leave our minds annoyed and confused. This frustration is actually very useful; it’s what eventually helps us seek relief from the mind’s inability to grasp reality, to define it, to know it. Exasperation pushes us to go past the mind… not for answers, but for a return to tranquility. We see how easily our minds can be trapped in cul-de-sacs, in disappointing circular reasoning, which pushes us to seek other methods… higher levels of intuition. It is in the letting go of these unanswerable questions that we begin to seek a more heart-centered way of life… here in the present… where imaginary gooses and bottles no longer confound us and imprison us.

Once we reach this liberated position, we can finally hear the hermit’s answer and think, “Of course! How silly I was!”

(In this vein, I always like to think that the youth eventually did find enlightenment on his way back down the mountain… or maybe many years later… like in my case!)

Nothing Lasts Forever!

Every “thing” is temporary. It comes and goes. It has a shelf life.

But “Nothing”… Nothing doesn’t change. There it is, solid and eternal, more real and enduring than anything we can see, taste or touch.

Think of it like this: if a building falls, what happens to the air that was in the rooms? Does it disappear… or does it remain? Does it even move… or does it stay where it was? Where does empty space go?

So if we’re looking for “something” that lasts, why don’t we choose the only thing that does: “Nothing”? Because our minds weren’t made to notice it. Our minds only register what changes… not what doesn’t.

So aligning with “Nothing” requires a revolt against our minds’ innate (and obstinate) insistence on trying to make “Somethings” last forever: our homes, our lives, our egos.

We need to feel this “Nothing” in a new way, an intuitive way. We need to unlimit ourselves from the mind… to see beyond the physical. Only our hearts can do this.

When we get our first taste of Nothingness, it feels boring. That’s why most of us only take in a bit at a time… like on the weekends, or on vacation. It seems to change us in ways we can’t understand… it makes us more open to Nothing… and that’s scary for the mind.

We begin to discover that “Nothing” is also inside us, between the cells, between the molecules, between the synapses. It’s the part of us that recognizes — and adores! — this immortal and unchanging Nothingness. It’s the part of us that will sustain and survive, no matter what Life throws our way.

Then one day, we notice that the “Nothing” is becoming more solid — more present — than the “Somethings.” It seems to become FULL, not just empty but alive with everything that changes… and everything that doesn’t. It becomes solid… and safe.

That’s the day we jump over from the world of “things” to the world of “No things.” “Nothing” lasts forever, so… let’s hang out there!

Nobody knows!

Is the world real
or just a dream?
Nobody knows

Am I mortal
or immortal?
Nobody knows

If I really want
To know the truth
I must become
“Nobody”

Only “Nobody” can
Pass through the
Myriad paradoxes that
The mind
(A “Somebody”)
Cannot

“Somebody”
(Whoever I think I am)
Has a burning
Need to maintain
A point of view
Stuck in its
Either-or furrow
Of trying to
Grasp the world
It thinks it must
Or can
Resolve these dilemmas
Before any progress
Can be made

That’s how it
Blocks me in its
Cage of Logic

“Nobody” doesn’t
Have that block
“Nobody” has no
Skin in the game
No need to arrive at
A definitive answer
It can accept everything
All possible permutations
A not B
B not A
A and B
Neither A nor B
As equally valid
As equally invalid

Until I embrace
“Nobody’s” point of view
I will be stuck forever
In this no-man’s land

Only “Nobody”
Will witness
The mysterious
Disappearance of
The question
Only “Nobody” will
Accept the impossibility
Of a clear resolution
Or discover its
True irrelevance
Knowing is just
Not that important
Certainly not worth
Uselessly waiting
Here at the Gate
For all Eternity

Only “Nobody”
Somersaults
These paradoxes
These mind-traps
And lands perfectly
In the peaceful
Diarama of
Unconditional
Peace and Love
The place that “I”
(A “Somebody”)
Has so long sought
To no avail
(How could it
With all those questions?)

Who can understand
That there’s simply
Nothing to understand
No real way of
Understanding?
Only “Nobody”

“Nobody” is
Always welcome
To come
Sit a spell at
Nobody’s
Blessed
Home for
Terminally
Tired of
Waiting!

Nothing is OK!

We’re all looking for things to go right
But in this world of “Somethings”
“Something” is always wrong

“Somethings” are always compared
To other “Somethings”
Found to be lacking
Not tall enough
Or too tall
Not fast enough
Or too fast
Too soon
Or too late

Instead, “Nothing” is always
Just right as it is
Just the right amount
At the right time
In the right place

That perfection
Is why
Nothing becomes
The preferred
Place to focus
Our attention

Who wouldn’t
Fancy a world
Without defects?

As my friend
Tim Cliss says,
“There’s an okayness
To Nothing
That Something
Can never have.”

Nothing is missing!

I know it can seem
As if this moment
Is not enough
That something is
Always missing
What could that
Something be?

I look all around
And yet…
There seems to be
A shortage of
“Things”
To capture
My attention.

But wait!
What’s that
Between the branches
Of the trees?
What’s that
Between the clouds?
What’s that
In the empty room
Before I enter?

Why… it’s Nothing
The missing ingredient
The fabric holding
Everything together
I had just forgotten
How to see it

But now… look!
If I add Nothing
To the Somethings
Suddenly the
World is once again
Filled to the brim
No space left over
To add anything else

“Nothing”
Is
Missing!

And when
Nothing is
No longer
Missing
Nothing is
No longer
Missing

It’s almost
Too simple
To believe!

Nothing is important!

Your consciousness is so expansive and enormous, let’s imagine it as a huge, empty stadium. In contrast, your chattering mind is like a small transistor radio sitting somewhere in that stadium, blaring plans and regrets, re-airing old stories, accusations, and fears.

Are you putting all of your attention on that small radio? It certainly is compelling. But then you start to wonder if it has what you’re really looking for. Only when you lose interest in the radio do you begin to notice everything else, too… and the more you begin exploring the rest of the stadium, the more the radio seems important. It takes on a whole new context within the silent whole. The stadium is empty, yes… and yet, what a welcome respite!

You realize that the farther you get from the radio, the less believable and captivating it is. The chatter doesn’t change the stadium – it never did. It’s just not that important. What becomes more important is the peaceful space around the chatter.

“Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” –Eckhart Tolle

Once we acknowledge the background of space than envelopes us… a background so vast and complete that it encompasses the radio and the stadium… the more we lose interest in the chatter. From the nose-bleed seats, you see everything folded into this wonderful Unity… foreground and background. And in the interest of preserving and appreciating this unity, we accept that “we” aren’t that important… as individuals. Our idea of who “we” are is just that stupid radio speaking – waaaay over there – and yet, in the rest of the stadium, perfect unity reigns.

In short, the more we identify with the vast, empty stadium – and not the endless noise – the more relaxed and peaceful our lives become.

“Music is the space between the notes.” –Claude Debussy

Frightening? Yes. Enjoying empty space means the end of our self-important protagonist – ourselves – being the non-stop center of our attention. Liberating? You betcha. Who would have thought that Nothing was the only refuge from our crazy-making minds?

That’s why Nothing is so important!

Nobody is here!

Inside my bank the other day I was greeted with loud yellow signs featuring their new slogan, “Everybody has a there.” Haha, I thought, that’s so true. The only way to be a person… is to have a “there.”

Instead, in the present moment, there is only “here.” There’s a feeling of total freedom, timelessness, expansion… but without any future or past, without personal identity. Think of a child’s openness… or the sensation of “being in the zone.” This magic moment lasts only until the ego – a “Someone” – comes in and tries to understand the feeling, possess it, and carry it along, from “here” to some other place, an imagined future: a “there.”

This raises a few obvious questions… questions our egos never consider:

1) Can the fullness of the present really be extended in time? How can we carry that which never moves? Do we drag it along? Why not just walk alongside it… and save ourselves the trouble? After all, it is going in the same direction and speed as we are… there’s no way to escape it!!

2) Where would we carry it? Because we simply cannot carry the present moment out of the present moment… we can’t force it into time. In fact, the present moment is the opposite of time. It’s timeless. Time “starts” the moment we leave the present… and “ends” the moment we come back. “Now” is “here,” but we imagine a timeline that seems to offer a “there.” Is there a “there”? Have you ever seen it? Have you ever been “there”?

3) Why would we even want to extend the present moment? Maybe we believe that bringing it into time and “making it last” gives it a sort of validity, making it concrete, “greater” or “longer” than the present moment… as if the present moment was always lacking… never enough. Maybe we think that only time can make things “solid” and “continuous.” That’s a common illusion.

In reality, our “Someones” are afraid of the present, afraid of “now,” because in its “everythingness” it swallows up our identities as well… leaving us naked and alone… without our ego stories to protect us.

That’s why we keep trying to invent a “there.” Because the only one who can stay “here” — in the infinite present — is…

Nobody!

PS. How long can you last “here”… as a “nobody”… before you get scared and run back to false comfort “there”… as a “somebody”?

Nobody Understands!

The word we use the most – “I” – is just a word, nothing more than a stick in a river. It divides the river into “upstream” and “downstream,” “my side” and “the other side.” Then one day, for a moment – or maybe forever! – the “I” simply disappears. No more stick, no more reference point, no more “here” and “there,” “good” and “bad”. All that’s left just “IS.”

Some magic part of us remains to notice this… some level of consciousness previously inaccessible. And without the personal identity of “I,” this level of awareness sees only a flowing river — with nothing left in relationship to anything else. No parts… no preferences… only wholeness.

Who can understand this?

Nobody!

You cannot “wake up” anyone else

You are not black. You are not white. You are not male, female, straight, gay or trans. You are not your sex, your race, or your orientation. You are way beyond that.

You are the Supreme Consciousness.

If you get caught up in the “woke” mentality, you will forget that. You will be forced once again by limited body-oriented thinking to believe that you are bound by superficial differences and micro-defined identity traits.

That’s the opposite of true. You’re already free, great soul. “They” didn’t put you in that box… you did! They just made it uncomfortable for you. Beware!

“Wokeness” is trying to make us see ugliness and enemies everywhere… to entangle us in concepts and slogans, to stoke our guilt, shame, anger, fear, and divisiveness. Let’s not give into the mob… rather let’s rise above it. We don’t need to rebel against others… only against these limited beliefs. Look how simple it is: the only “barriers” we need to break… the only ones we can break… are within our own hearts. We simply cannot “wake up” others… it’s not our job, anyway. We can only “wake up” ourselves.

In truth, there are no enemies. There is only Perfect Unity.

Friends, step clear of these miniscule self-definitions that confine and separate… rather than unite. You are much greater than you think… but only if you don’t buy into the hype.

“Wake up.” Remember your greatness. Lead the way!

Choosing Peace… for once

Don’t do it this time

Don’t throw yourself

Into that drama.

It’s not yours

It never was

Not today

Or so many years ago

When you first met it

And invented a story

That something was

Wrong

Your fault

Your problem.

You thought it would help

You taking the blame

You wanted to be helpful

You were so sweet.

You didn’t know

How so many

Years of your life

Would be sucked away

By your unheralded

Unappreciated

Gesture of solidarity.

Suddenly, you see clearly

It’s time to make a break

I’m choosing peace

You say to yourself

Blessed quietude

(even thought it feels boring).

You resist the temptation

The useless habit

Of needing to be needed.

Today

You let that ugly mess

Just float on by

See ya!

This is true Self-love

Self-respect

Self-preservation

Whew!

Suddenly you’re back

Resting softly in the

Beating heart of this

Blissful

Unentangled

Healthy

Emptiness

Just like it was

Back in the

Golden days!