Moving from Resentment to Forgiveness

CaptureToday, I choose to shift my focus from resentment toward forgiveness. I recognise that forgiveness is a gift I give to myself. It is an opportunity for me to release the energy that holds me hostage, and distracts me from growth. As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others.

Each moment is an opportunity for me to release a limiting belief or fear, and to forgive myself for holding me back from experiencing the full potential of that moment in the past.

I know that my experiences are the result of my thoughts. And without a need for blame, I recognise that there are times my thoughts take a less productive turn. And that’s alright, because it’s part of the experience of learning. But I also realise that I am free to choose new thoughts.

forgiveAnd so today, I choose thoughts which free me from the decisions of my past… which bring new possibilities and reinvigorate my journey, rather than distracting me from it.

I let go of resentment I have felt toward those who have let me down. I release the need to punish those who have hurt me. I know they were doing the best they could, and their mediocrity and lack of commitment is their business… their lesson to learn… not mine.

I am limited only by the barriers I create in consciousness. And so I release those barriers now, and recognise my essential nature as Pure Awareness.

Today, I allow ease and compassion to guide my thoughts and energise my actions. I celebrate the limitless potential that exists in the present moment, and choose to mindfully turn my awareness to that moment… to live from that place alone… which is the source of my power and potential.

I forgive myself and others effortlessly, and let go of the old stories that held me captive.

The wisdom of the Buddha points out that holding onto anger is like holding onto hot coals, but hoping that the other person is the one who feels the pain. It’s like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die from it. And so it’s time for me to let go of these foolish endeavors and resentments.

I’ve allowed another to hold the pen that was writing my story. Today, I choose to write a NEW STORY, in my own hand…

And as that story unfolds the joy and abundance that are my birthright begins to express in every experience… every turn.

Forgiveness comes easy and release gently follows.

In Memoriam

beautifulcityOn Friday, this country will witness the death of justice and democracy, as one of the most vile and evil sociopaths of the past two millennia assumes what will become the throne of darkness, where once so many Great People served with honour and dignity, when it was known as the Oval Office.

There is nothing I can say to reason with those morally bankrupt and politically retarded imbeciles who are not deeply disturbed by what Herr Drumpf stands for. And I need not say anything more to those (overwhelming majority of American voters, and the rest of the world), whose moral compass, integrity and commitment to the American Dream remains intact. Because no further comment is necessary.

16174968_366507260372204_3485034279565481706_nNow it’s time for the #RESISTANCE… for good people to stand up for social justice, due process, compassion and the protection of our Constitution that KGB Agent Orange has shown no respect for whatsoever.

I therefore intend to observe a period of non-violent protest, beginning at 2 PM today, and continuing through 3 PM Friday. But this will not be a protest in which the hatred, intolerance, lies and treason of Der Führer is met with angry words or facts. Instead, I choose to raise voices of a different kind, every hour, on the hour, with a bold declaration of MY INTENTION and the intention of those on the side of righteousness. (Those will be posted on my facebook wall.)

My hope is that people will join me in sharing those hourly posts, and for more than 24 hours, refuse to utter Donald Valdemort Drumpf’s name, or speak anything but our intention… Truth to Power!

I’ll leave you with this quote, with which I choose to end my discourse that began on November 9th, and mark the beginning of my personal revolution.

“We can build a beautiful city. Yes we can. Yes we can.
We can build a beautiful city. Not a city of angels, but finally a city of Man.” — Stephen Shwartz (from Godspell)

Letting Go of Boundaries

boundary_fullMaster Thich Nhat Hanh once observed, “Most of the boundaries between traditions are artificial. truth has no boundaries. The differences are mostly in emphasis.” Letting go of the perception of boundaries can free us to experience a deeper, quieter, and more still version of Truth. In the Buddhist tradition, we call that place of letting go, “calm abiding”.

I’ve often thought it interesting that some Buddhists, especially in the Tibetan tradition are so quick to pontificate that “all phenomena are empty,” and yet they get their uttarasanghas in bunch so easily, decrying this monk’s lineage or that teacher’s orthodoxy! If phenomena are empty, then doctrine and dogma are equally empty, and all wisdom paths ought to be given the same respect.

A couple months ago, I was approached by a number of practitioners, who wanted to know if I would consider reinvigorating the Contemplative Order of Compassion as a centre for wisdom and dharma.  And I agreed to give it some thought, as I took into account many of the areas of my work and practice at the end of the year. It is something I am still giving a great deal of thought.

Some have encouraged me to consider incorporating the order back into an institutional organisation, so that we could have access to greater funding for the projects that impact so many people’s lives.

I’m not sure that will ever be a good idea, as who and what we are arose from the journey out of institutional religion, to a place where post-denominational expression of ancient teachings and new thought philosophy could be unencumbered by dogma and doctrine.

cropped-zenkonweb31.pngOthers have suggested that we formalise the beliefs and teachings in such a way that Zenkondo becomes a spiritual path itself. And I think we’ve done so already, without allowing it to become another institution or religion.

It may be time to explore the possibilities of forming a greater community, possibly even a physical community again. Time will tell.

In the meantime, let’s simply agree to let go of the idea of boundaries, and begin working toward expanding the work of compassionate service to others. And we will be well on our way to rediscovering what the future holds.

Finding Clarity in the Midst of Terror

terrorI won’t pretend to understand why some New Thought and Dharma teachers have gone silent about the concerns that so many are facing right now, especially in the United States.

I’ve personally been dismissed by some of them, when I shared that I too struggle with emotions that are very real, over the prospects of one of the most dangerous sociopaths this world has seen since Adolf Hitler taking office in one of the most powerful roles in the Western World.

Sometimes I think it’s that they don’t know what to say, and are not really willing to allow themselves to go down that road. That’s where New Thought gets a bit mixed up with New Age fluff — where we pretend that we have to think all unicorns and rainbows and everything will be magically OK.

fearThe difficulty I have with that is that magick can be a temporary fix, where the transformative power of the Science of Spiritual Living is permanent and universal in scope.

I also think that sometimes experience (or lack thereof) plays a role, as does a fear of being controversial and unpopular. Those whose White Privilege has never caused them to experience real prejudice or oppression might not have the personal framework with which to truly empathise with the men and women whose civil rights and human rights are at stake.

This doesn’t mean that those teachers are not concerned, nor that they wouldn’t be first to step forward and stand on the front lines with us in solidarity. But when the going gets tough, I don’t honestly believe I can count on them not to turn and run either.

So where do we go from here?


You’ll Never Set the World on Fire When It’s Soaking Wet

build-fire1When you’re building a camp fire, the first thing you do is to find a safe and suitable spot. You clear away any debris, and usually build a ring of stones or cinder blocks around the are to create your first pit.

Then you begin to gather the wood you’ll need to start and sustain that fire.

You search for “seasoned” wood. That is to say that you look for wood that is not too green… not wet… and suitable for a good long burn.

Somehow we don’t always approach our spirituality with that same diligence. We attend a few lectures or classes. We might be part of a denomination’s services for six or eight months. And then we set out to set the world on fire… in one mud-puddle after another.


Feel My Pulse – In Requiem

Orlando candlelight vigil (courtesy Getty Images)
Orlando candlelight vigil (courtesy Getty Images)

In the Zenkondo tradition, as with Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, Ubuntu, and the New Thought philosophies, there is a belief in our essential unity.  This foundational principle states that “I am because you are”… some call this the Great Namasté Principle — the Divine Spark within me bowing to the Divine Spark within you, which makes us ONE.

Late Saturday night/Sunday morning, 49 men and women, largely Latino and Latina, nearly all of them members of the LGBTQ community, were gunned down in Orlando, Florida. They were out at the end of wonderful week-long celebration of Pride events. They were there to mingle… to get their flirt on… to dance… to LOVE.

#WeStandWithOrlando, #OneLoveOnePulse
#WeStandWithOrlando, #OneLoveOnePulse

Pulse Nightclub was a safe space for them to come together. Or it was, until Sunday.

I think about what would have happened, had I acted on my impulse to possibly move back down to Central Florida back in April of this year. Three of my friends, two of whom I was in regular contact with, and fairly close to, were murdered that night. It’s inconceivable to me that I would not have been at Pulse that night, since one of those three was visiting Orlando from Sarasota, with his boyfriend. Of course I would have been there, with my fiancé, so that he could meet Eddie and Luis, Jimmy, and maybe even Stanley that night.

While I am not Latino myself, the majority of my friends in the LGBTQ community have always been people of colour. All but two of my long-term boyfriends were of ethnicities other than white. It was my Puertorriqueño, Cubano and Black brothers, who first took me in, as a young sixteen year-old gay boy, just beginning to come out to myself and others. So these were not just my people because they were LGBT, but because they were culturally my people as well.

I cannot pretend to be able to make sense of this purely senseless massacre. I don’t believe the “official story” being reported in the news for one minute. I’ve spoken to people who were there, and to their loved ones. I know we are not being told the whole truth.

So all I can do is to stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers, both in the LGBTQ community as well as within the Latin and Muslim communities.

I can offer my ear and shoulder to cry on…

I can share our stories…

I can be there in any way possible.

And I can continue to openly and honestly grieve.

Today, the second round of funerals and memorial services are underway, as I write this. I wish I were able to be there for all 49 services. I wish I could be at the hospitals to hold the hands of those struggling to pull through.

And I woke up with a heavy-laden heart for this reason… struggling to treat today as a “business as usual” day. I cannot.

And then, my brother, Episcopal priest, and UCF university professor, Harry Coverston, shared this beautiful song from Eli Lieb and Brandon Skeie, called Feel My Pulse.

So you say this is human
Your heartbeat versus mine
I’m in chains cause I’m choosing
showing love or living life
I shouldn’t have to leave where I stand
I shouldn’t have to change who I am
To count as a human
Feel my pulse
With your hand on my heart
You know it beats just as hard as yours
Feel my pulse
Feel my pulse
Can’t you see that im scarred
I’m just the same as you are so just
Feel my pulse
I wish I could reach them
And strip away what separates
It’s the same air we’re breathing
The same tears run down our face
So I don’t have to leave where I stand
And I don’t have to change who I am
To count as a human
Feel my pulse
With your hand on my heart
You know it beats just as hard as yours
Feel my pulse
Feel my pulse
Can’t you see that im scarred
I’m just the same as you are so just
Feel my pulse

Nothing I can write or do or say will ever suffice to bring sense to the senseless. It won’t heal those fighting for their lives. It won’t make the loss of the thousands of family members, loved ones, and friends who mourn the 49 any less palpable. It won’t bring any of them back. And it’s unlikely to reveal the truth of what happened that day any more than we will ever know the truth about the similar False Flag operations used to justify violence, wars or serve as distractions on 9/11, at Sandy Hook, or Boston’s Marathon, in Paris or Belgium.

But we can stop, and allow our awareness to dwell in the present moment. We can enjoin our hearts with all of those who know… who mourn… who will not be silenced.

We can resolve to live FULLY and PASSIONATELY. We will never forget. But we can go on.

We can go on fighting for our civil rights. We can go on working to make sure this never happens again… to us or to any other marginalised group. We can go on living. We can go on LOVING.

Thirty-Three Years Later… It Is Well

zweb-contactIt’s curious, really… In November of last year, I passed the 32 year mark of having been told that I was infected with what would later become known as AIDS. This morning, as I looked at the medical reports from the Emergency Room on Monday night, I realised that 26 years ago today, my partner Ronn was rushed to the hospital with what they originally suspected to be aspergillis (a fungal infection of the lungs), with the same symptoms I now have.

I’ve lived more than half my life — over 32 years — with full-blown AIDS, and have dealt with the emotional distress of profound grief for exactly half my life. On May 10th, 1983, I was savagely raped and beaten by four Haitian immigrants, in South Florida, where I’d gone to escape eight years of sexual abuse at the hands of four Roman Catholic clergy (including an archbishop). So I’ve lived for a little over 35 years as a sexual abuse survivor.


On the Visit of Pope Francis to the U.S.

pope-francis-1I wanted to share my thoughts on the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, because I think there is a message relevant to every spiritual path, including those of us who are non-theistic and secular humanists.

This past week brought a lot of “religious discussion” to the forefront of social media, owing in no small part to the Pope’s visit to the U.S. For many, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the experience was something of a ‘retreat’ experience — reminding us of our essential unity, the need to serve the sick, poor, and dying, our responsibility as stewards of a planet facing global warming and other environmental issues, and of the need for peace and compassion. That ‘retreat experience’ ended last night, when Francis boarded the plane for Vatican City. We often refer to what follows as “the fourth day” experience… that experience of “what now” after an intensive three day retreat.

It occurs to me that what Pope Francis really did was to serve as a mirror for us. That exquisite Inner Light, which is compassion or love, Pure Awareness, as I prefer to call it, which some acceptably anthropomorphise into the “god concept” and all its various legends and myths, was reflected in his eyes, his words and his admonitions.

He reminded us that how we LIVE our religion (or spiritual paths) is far more important than what we SAY about our religion or spiritual paths.

Now it’s our turn to take action, and own the POSSIBILITIES for healing to begin.

Fire Feeding Upon Fire – The Purpose of Sangha

fireThere is an expression in the Taoist tradition, known as “fire feeding upon fire,” which explains why practitioners of that tradition, like the Buddhist, Hindu and Zenkondo paths, value participation in a community of practitioners, or sangha.

While wood (or another substance) might burn and produce a fire, there is nothing which produces the intensity of energy and illumination that occurs when the fire feeds the fire itself.

Take a single candle, and you can illuminate a room. But bring the wicks of two candles together, that the intensity of the flame grows exponentially.

And so it is with the Dharma path. When we engage our spiritual practice, and begin serving others, with the intention of alleviating suffering and the causes of suffering for ourselves and for all sentient beings, we fill the space around us with illumination — Sacred Light or Pure Awareness — the unquantifiable energy that Einstein refered to as “zeropoint energy” from which all matter arises.

And so the work of the solo practitioner serves the world well.

seshin-tekina_kyokaiBut when we come together and practice as part of an intentional community… When we serve with fuller, more open hearts, because we have united in purpose, in truth and in awareness itself… the space around us, which becomes illuminated is exponentially larger, and we literally fill the multiverse with that Pure Awareness and Light.

The focus of fire feeding fire is not assimilation, but rather integration. Each bringing that which is uniquely their gift to offer, but forgetting the self, and allowing the common good to be served without losing sight of our individual responsibilities, paths, and insights.

The sangha is an opportunity for bring that insight to the table, where we can offer it freely and with pure love, not out of an egoistic need for recognition, but rather as a simple offering… a spiritual tithe, if you will, to be used by the whole community as fuel, or what Ram Das calls “grist for the mill”.

My Root Guru, Ma Jaya, would tell us that the key to longevity of spiritual practice was to learn how to “drink as you pour”.  And that metaphor is simply another metaphor for the Taoist “fire feeding fire”.

“Purify your mind,” Ma would tell us, “with your heart of love.” And when we come together as sangha, that is what we do… We purify our minds, and become One Heart of Love.