I can’t stop!

I’m addicted to yoga.
I’m addicted to breathing.
I’m addicted to writing.
I’m addicted to reading.
I’m addicted to my partner.
I’m addicted to my daughter.
I’m addicted to Guatemala.
I’m addicted to travel.
I’m addicted to sex.
I’m addicted to mota.
I’m addicted to the Internet.
I’m addicted to learning.
I’m addicted to mindfulness.
I’m addicted to dharma.
I’m addicted to quotations.
I’m addicted to laughter.
I’m addicted to life.

What are you addicted to?

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How to Blow Your Mind Wide Open.

I have been a grateful sojourner on the winding spiritual path for as long I can remember.

At certain points in the past, I have wished for epiphanies, signals and sudden enlightenment. Of course, life doesn’t work that way. What we seek eludes us. Letting go allows newness to enter.

So, although I would like to gift you with these teachings that have altered my mind and improved my life, they may not resonate with you. The most important teaching of all is that we are each where we need to be when we need to be there, learning the lessons that we need to learn.

{Please read the full version on elephant journal to get all the goodness.}

1) Everything I need is already within me.

2) I can (and do) create my life through creative visualization (to a certain extent).

3) All things must pass.

4) Beliefs separate.

5) Faith is letting go.

6) All meditation is good meditation.

7) Metta.

8) Each morning, I am born again. What I do today is what matters most.

9) Equanimity.

10) No self.

11) Suffering is the result of clinging.

12) Worry is useless.

13) Friendship is the highest form of love.

14) Difficult people are the best teachers.

15) Therefore, be grateful to everyone and everything.

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Grappling with God.

Who is God? What is God? When is God? Where is God? Why is God? How is God?

In short, God is Us. Everything. Now. Everywhere. Because there is nothing outside God. He is not a He; She is not a She. God is formless, timeless, priceless and wonder full.

I’ll never forget my best friend’s response when I asked her if she wanted to smoke a joint several years ago: “Oh, no. When I get high, I just end up staring at myself in the mirror and asking, ‘Who is God?’” (And she’s an atheist!)

Having been raised sufficiently Catholic, God the Father was an image branded on my young soul. Jesus the Son was more personable in theory, but the church’s undying focus on his emaciated, bloody, crucified body rather upset my innocent and delicate mind. The Holy Spirit was too intangible: a butterfly, a bubble, fog, fireworks, happy feelings.

Throughout my life, I have alternately embraced, rejected and claimed indifference toward “God,” as a word, a concept, the truth.

As much as I have at times preferred to replace the G-word with other terminology—the universe, yoga, buddha nature, basic goodness, Life with a capital L—I cannot help but thank God when I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.

I don’t recite the Our Father or Hail Mary anymore though. “He” was too limiting. “She,” I like, yet she still has a confusingly human face. All words, all language, really is too limiting, if God is so much bigger than and beyond humanity.

I had reached a place where I subtly yet negatively judged anyone who used the word “God,” whether in speech or in writing. I agreed wholeheartedly with philosophies like this one from Krishnamurti:

“A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. After all, belief is a form of self-protection, and only a petty mind can believe in God.”

Or, his even harsher statement:

“Your belief in God is merely an escape from your monotonous, stupid and cruel life.”

At the same time, I frequently found myself saying “Ojala” in Spanish, which basically means “God willing.” I would inwardly smirk when others thanked God aloud, while doing it subconsciously in my own thoughts and speech.

This hypocrisy could not be sustained any longer.

Reading Alan Watts’ simple, frank explanation of God to a child recently blew my mind in the best of ways.

“…when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.”

This idea that all human beings (and plants and animals and rocks and so forth) are God or the universe’s form of “self-expression” is not a new one. But the way Watts phrased it resonated with me, and the truth of the matter suddenly dawned on me the other day when I was at the zoo of all places.

I was walking through the park with my family and I began to drop my normal judgement and categorizing of people and instead saw everyone as a little magical piece of God walking around. I was filled with contentment and peace.

This experience led me to open my mind to God in a fresh way. I feel like “Sam-I-Am”… after all these years of saying “No!”, it turns out I do like green eggs and ham!

It’s not a question of believing or not believing. I neither believe nor disbelieve. It’s not a matter of attending church. There’s just as much (if not more) holiness in a rosebud as a cathedral. For me, I guess it has always been more an issue of semantics, and I’m glad to have made up with the big G.

Go here for the fancy version, plus 12 additional wisdom quotes regarding God.

5 mind-expanding books to read this summer

{Read the fancy version here}

My fellow earthlings, please read, enjoy and absorb the wisdom and teachings available in any or all of these fabulous volumes:

1. The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The charismatic Tibetan Buddhist master who introduced the teachings to so many young Americans in the 1970s (including Pema Chodron and Waylon’s mom, among many others) has an uncanny way of explaining esoteric Eastern concepts to our busy busy Western minds. In this book, he details the styles of imprisonment that make us think we are free and outlines instructions for sitting meditation, from simply working with emotions to more advanced tantric techniques.

2. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts

From the preface: “This book explores an unrecognized but mighty taboo—our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are. Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East—in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse of technology for the violent subjugation of man’s natural environment and, consequently, its eventual destruction. We are therefore in urgent need of a sense of our own existence which is in accord with the physical facts and which overcomes our feeling of alienation from the universe.”

3. SelfDesign: Unfolding Our Infinite Wisdom Within by Brett Cameron with River Meyer

Get ready for some major paradigm shifting. This concise book explains the concept behind the creation of a natural learning community in Vancouver over the past 20 years. As a professional school teacher for the past eight years, I’d become quite disillusioned with traditional schooling, grades, behavior management, curriculum and instruction—all of it. SelfDesign is the idea that we are each lifelong learners and the best way to learn is by studying what we want, when we want to. It gives concrete models and examples of how this system (similar to Waldorf and Montessori, yet perhaps even better and more comprehensive) works to transform the lives of all humans: students learners, teachers mentors and everyone.

4. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron

When I first saw this title about a year ago, I proudly thought, “Thanks anyway; I already know how to meditate!” A few months later I came to my senses and read it. Like all of Ani Pema’s books, it offers clear, concise, friendly and direct wisdom. There are so many ways to meditate. This excellent, user-friendly guide details techniques including working with sensations, emotions, thoughts and more. Definitely a great one to reference and reread regularly.

5. Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

When I see titles on happiness, I tend to look the other way. After all, the pursuit of happiness is a myth, right? Happiness cannot be pursued or pinned down. However, I’m so grateful that I broke my own rule by reading this gem of a book, which I finally finished after months of slowly savoring its contents. Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has thoroughly researched happiness, what it really means, what it is not, and how to practice it. So delectable!

What book or books do you wish everybody would read and put into practice?