A Little Joke

Sometimes I will notice myself just sitting, or just standing. As in deep sleep, there is actually no “myself”, no awareness of a person, until a thought manages to dredge itself up from oblivion and create the sense or facsimile of a subject. That subject wasn’t there previously. It is a mental construction, created out of thin air, and yet the habit is to take it as one’s identity, because that is how habits work — they are simply the mind’s default position in the midst of the mystery.

In the same way, when we awaken from sleep in the morning, for a moment there is only pure awareness, then immediately we add a whole storyline, a narrative of some character we are convinced that we are, just by the nature of our appearance in space time, which is actually a compounded mental event too.

While there is just this sitting, or just standing still, there is no history of a person, no anticipation of some future for a person, no sense of a person being here now, no time calculations, no regrets or projections, no creation or destruction, no wanting or avoiding. None of that arises to confirm a personal identity subject to any of it. It is not happy or sad, nor can any quality or emotional flavor be pinned on it, since it is transparent, like sky.

I love the sky, I truly do, because it is so empty I can disappear in it. Maybe suffering means to linger on, and not disappear. In any case, nothing happens then, nor will anything ever happen. What is there to even disappear? Nothing can actually come or go, except as a kind of cloud, a cloud of moisture’s imagination. Really, there is just the vastness of sky, stretching infinitely in all directions, but nevertheless, we all love the first signs of rain.

Beyond rain or shine, there is awareness, but it is not self-conscious. There is no “I am the sky” or “Here comes the sun.” It is all just standing still, as the sky, as aware space, as clear light that does not even think of itself as light. It does not think of itself, and so there is no “itself”, anymore than there is “myself”. It is not bliss, it is not anything with a name. Some say emptiness, but it is empty of emptiness too.

Why? Because it is filled with everything, everything is here. It never goes away. Things seem to come and go to the mind entangled in a duality of subject and objects, but that is only the play of consciousness, which is a kind of miracle too — that there is anything at all, rather than nothing whatsoever.

It is like a little joke, a quiet and relaxed bit of light-hearted humor that is barely noticed at all, and only mentioned because it is a good reason to take nothing seriously, especially the character called “myself”, the one sitting or standing still and just staring out into itself. Maybe there is a slight hint of a smile, because that is all there is, this nameless mystery filled with everyone and everything — all just fervently going about the humorous business of characters and props in a dream theater of itself, the totality of the universal existence, both manifest and unmanifest, absolute and relative, and so forth and so on, right up to the end of this run-on sentence.

Just so, we may be both asleep and awake simultaneously, though we tend to imagine that we are this or that exclusively, based on ideas that have no source anywhere but in our own mind. Certainly, it might seem as if others appeared who implanted programs and filters that conditioned our perception along the way. However, even that illusion has been part of the play, the convincing drama of self and others and all the stuff they get up to — tears and laughter, and sometimes just sitting or standing, not unlike characters in a dream.

We love our dream characters, because creators love their productions, and so time enters the picture, just so that all these various stories can unfold at the perfect pace, allowing for ingenious subplots to modify consciousness and so reveal the endless nature of experience expanding to infinity, until the temple bell rings at dawn, and we immediately forget all over again, and this too is part of the little joke, barely noticed at all.


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The Big Head Peanut Man

The Big Head Peanut Man is one with his salt and vegetable oil.

If casually inspected, those condiments are just what they appear to be – salt and oil.

Nothing special here, utterly transparent and ordinary, and yet there is an undeniable aroma of saturation in bliss exuding from the roasted snack.

Even such a seemingly small thing can bring some happiness to our lives.

For the size of his peanut body, his head might appear proportionately too big, but he is not in conflict with his given shape, having come to peace and acceptance of that transitory shell formation.

How is it that he came to be fitted in such a container? If we stop to ponder this question, already we are miles away.

In the same sense, if we were to remark on the balance of nut, salt, fat, and mystery assembling themselves in such a way as to constitute the Big Head Peanut Man, it might clarify the matter to realize that it is merely an arbitrary combination of memory associations being subjectively applied to that which is essentially beyond objective determination.

I once shared a bag of salted roasted peanuts with a friend, while strolling the awesome Botanical Gardens in the ineffable Emerald Park.

Clouds and sun intermingled, and the wind lifted a thin layer of translucent mist above our blended heads as we sat with a curious squirrel and a lonely quail in the company of eccentric Succulents.

We said little, because everything said it for us. There are countless ways to enjoy physical embodiment – why stop at the obvious?

Soon the peanuts were gone, but the empty space which was left in the bag was more magnificent than anything a poet could ever say.

It’s the same state in which we now exist, but without the incessant craving with which we are habitually infecting our experience in this realm of thought and sensation.

That said, the hunger of the heart will not by assuaged by imitations of immortality, or pious platitudes from the intermediary zone.

Instead, let’s just appreciate the vastness of the afternoon sky, and the way that the fog rolls in and momentarily obscures it, without jabbering on about the various subtle aspects of classical Madhyamika.

Why trouble the mind with conceptual metaphors, when all we really want is to just sigh and exhale? When we simply let ourselves be in that open, relaxed way, all the busy contrivances of the ego-mind’s ambition are surrendered – just let go.

In the process, the great wisdom that sees the innate nature as it is, and the vision that perceives all possible things, begins to shine through our density with a clarity almost too bright for human eyes to bear.

Confusion arises when something seemingly is, but actually isn’t, like mistaking the body-mind-self for our actual identity, or the Big Head Peanut Man for a mere literary device.

In that place where no doubts or intellectual questions arise, the Big Head Peanut Man was with us, as he always is — neither hoping nor regretting, a little joyous, a little tender, a little sad – just a silent friend when you would like to have one with you, effortlessly emanating the prior unity of emptiness and compassion.

Few hear the secrets hidden within his shell — who has ears for such music? If we’re not totally open or free from within, then his heartbroken expression of humility mixed with ecstasy cannot really be felt, or even noticed.

Isn’t it enough that anything appears at all, as unaccountable as that feat is?

Isn’t it enough that the essence of mind is empty, its nature is aware, and its capacity unconfined?

Whether a Big Head Peanut Man actually incarnates into this world or not, or whether he really sings or not, the nature of things is still the nature of things.

Let’s give this conflicted, grasping mind a break. What is it we really love?

Anyone who feels the slightest separation from what they love may find themselves straining to hear his silent song, forgetting it is their own silence, singing.

When we finally stop and listen, everything simply disappears, as if it was never really there.

Maybe it never was?

Later, we wander down to the beach.

He skips behind in his transcendental form, playing games of hide & seek between the worlds of the visible and invisible.

Both manifest and unmanifest, and yet beyond all that is He!

Sometimes, just when we say, “Aha!” he is off and on his way again.

Funny Big Head Peanut Man!

When we finally wade out into the ocean, all our salt dissolves.

peanut man

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And She Asks, Laughing


Wave upon wave washes over this shore, mindlessly obliterating the little scratched sand markings left by beachcombers long gone, the carved shapes of hearts and words returned once more to pristine primal innocence. This vast and timeless shore!

Laughing and sweeping their arms out across the horizon as if to encompass an infinite panorama of delight, a couple make their way along the ebb and flow of tidal waterline, and before them two children, pails and shovels in hand, race along with breathless wonder.

The little girl stops momentarily, her eyes widening with the joy of treasure’s discovery. She reaches down to scoop up a half-buried seashell. Rinsing it off in the cool waters sluicing around her ankles, she calls out and then races over to share the find with her brother.

“O look!” She beams, “Look what I found!”

He peers into the intricate shape, forged in the same ocean that birthed his ancestors, and with the exquisite regard only children can summon, pours into that small shell like wine from a decanter. Now drifting through immensities of starry radiance in silent majesty, he is that in which he floats, that in which every drop of countless individual awarenesses joyously merge into an infinite ocean of awareness. All swim within him in speechless brilliance, his own formless form stretched across space, birthing star clusters and trailing comets through endless paths of luminescent ecstasy. Worlds within worlds, worlds upon worlds, appear and disappear in the twinkling of his eye, and all the while a flaming yearning is met by an open welcoming embrace, as if one huge spirit heart perpetually forgets and then remembers itself, and only for the sheer joy of the thrilling re-discovery!

He then looks up into his sister’s expectant eyes, and behind her the scintillating sands, and then the ocean bluffs looming into the sharp blue sky. The hills are ablaze with sunlit vibrant greens and deep moist earthy browns, and soaring hawks tilt lazy wings higher in the upper air currents. Wisps of clouds emerge from nowhere and just as soon vanish, and it is all one piece, all one streaming body, and now his heart is breaking with unbearable beauty, with overwhelming love for the inexplicable presence of everything, and so he smiles at her, and gently hands the small shell back, and she asks, laughing: “How do you like it?”

stR kids

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Illusion with Ixnay


Curious about metaphysical matters, a greeb once inquired of Ixnay about the true meaning of the phrase,

“All that appears is nought but illusion”.

Ixnay immediately slid a silver ring from a finger, tossed the glimmering ornament into a nearby river, and casually grinning, barely audible, suggested:

“Bring the ring back to me and then you will know.”

With great trust in Ixnay, the greeb promptly dived into the river. The instant he entered the water, he lost all consciousness of who he really was. He surfaced, climbed a bank, and stumbled around in unknown territory, completely befuddled.

Eventually, he found a small town, accustomed himself to the locals, and even got himself a few acres to farm for himself. He was intelligent, and over the next few years or so, created ingenious ways to increase the farm yields, eventually becoming the best farmer in the county, and very prosperous.

He married the Mahub’s daughter and they had many children. He traveled far and learned even more, and became a great expert on agricultural methods throughout the country. When the country went to war, he joined the army and became an officer. His children grew, and though they had the usual ups and downs (one died while still a child) everyone did well and prospered.

One day, he was walking beside the river, contemplating his interesting life. Although he was successful and had everything life could offer, he still was not completely happy or satisfied. Something was missing and it continued to bother him, but he had no idea what it was.

It had been raining a great deal in the last week, and suddenly the bank gave way under his feet, submerging him in the swell of a rushing river. As he was swept along under the surface, his eyes spied something silver shining in the bed of the river, and despite his immediate predicament, he was mysteriously drawn to it.

With great effort, he was able to grab the object and rise for air. For what seemed like hours, he battled the turbulent waters, eventually heaving himself with tremendous difficulty onto the bank.

The instant his feet touched the land, he remembered with crystal clarity who he really was. He remembered asking Ixnay the question about illusion, and then diving for the ring in the river. He also remembered all his years as a farmer, soldier, father, husband and successful greeb. But even as he thought of those experiences, they began to fade, just like a dream.

He turned and saw Ixnay smiling at him.

Looking into Ixnay’s eyes, the greeb smiled back, handed over the ring, and exclaimed,

“That was an excellent answer!”


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Camping with Ixnay

Ixnay and a disciple once went camping in the Lumenurium Desert, and after a day of exploring, found a suitable camp spot, set up their tent, enjoyed a modest meal and some star gazing, and finally turned in for the night.

Some hours later, Ixnay woke the disciple.

“My Friend, look up at the sky now and tell me what you see.”

The disciple replied: “I see a wondrous celestial display filled with millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?” asked Ixnay.

The disciple pondered for a minute.

“Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are countless galaxies and trillions of stars, circled by planets more numerous than we can hope to measure.

Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Libra, which could be a time for taking relationships more seriously.

Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three, but then again, time is a relative mental construct with no inherent reality, save for that which we grant it, based on our own particular subjective filters and conditioning.

Theologically, it might be inferred that Yah the Lord Creator is all powerful and we are small and insignificant in contrast, and consequently could not even begin to fathom the Divine Plan that has brought forth this magnificent manifestation.

Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow, with clear skies and pleasant temperatures.

Beyond all of that, I am finally beginning to recognize that these perceptions, and even our very appearance here, are nothing but random, transitory, and non-binding modifications of consciousness Itself, and only reflect a provisional reality.

Moreover, they are inherently without meaning, except for the meaning we may arbitrarily attribute to them — again, based on dreamy fantasies of interpretation.”

Ixnay listened, but remained silent.

Finally, the disciple asked, “What does it tell you, Master?”

Ixnay first looked up, then to the left, then to the right, then back to the disciple, and then, laughing, replied:

“It tells me that someone has stolen our tent!”


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The Way of Dung

Once a pile of steaming dung was gathered up from the pasture, taken to town, and passed from one person to another. Every hand that touched it was soiled, while the townspeople tried to figure out what to do with it. As a potent combination of fate, superstition, and human ingenuity would have it, one person took the dung, formed it into a kind of shrine, and began worshiping it every day. After some time, this person experienced a profound sentiment about the dung. Around town, word quickly spread of the auspicious transcendental dung vision, until a whole group of people came to worship at the holy person’s dung shrine, in order to partake in the same ecstatic reverie.

The amazing power of focused thought should never be underestimated, regardless of its object! Over time, rules of dung worship at the shrine (and similar shrines like it) were established and codified, priestly masters were created who could teach aspirants about proper dung etiquette, and a lineage of dung transmission was initiated. True believers abounded, and various illuminating texts were authored, elaborating essential elements of the dung religion.

Meanwhile, back in town, another person who had originally received the dung allotment went in a somewhat different direction about the whole matter, figuring that the dung was actually best appreciated by drying and burning it, accompanied by certain spontaneous chants and rituals. After some time experimenting with this practice, the person achieved an insight about the benefit of dung burning that aroused a fervent mystical devotion, and subsequently went about the land evangelizing this new approach to dung.

Eventually, another whole group of people formed around that person’s practice, mimicking the methods of drying, burning, chanting, and so forth. It was clear to this alternate group that dung did not require a passive worship, but instead was meant to be dried, burned, and sung to, accompanied by various gestures and incantations. As with the first group, this dung fellowship also established rules and so forth, priests and doctrines, and a parallel lineage was created.

Several centuries passed, and then one day a reformer came along, who had spent years contemplating dung and its various religious implications, eventually coming to the startling realization that dung itself was a compounded phenomenon, with no inherent self-nature. He then went about preaching the emptiness of dung, as well as its dependent origination and impermanence. He gathered a large and devout community of adherents, but as each community member arrived at the realization that dung, being empty, was nothing of any lasting consequence, they eventually resumed an ordinary life, and the sect passed into quiescent extinction without remainder.

Nevertheless, both of the original lineages continued to find new devotees, and in fact are still active to this day, having been transmitted down through the ages, crossing over into neighboring cultures, and all around the world – spreading their particular Way of Dung, and generating numerous sub-lineages. Occasionally, followers of the various groups will clash with each other over the right understanding and appreciation of dung. Though onlookers might marvel that anyone would make such a big deal over what essentially is nothing but excrement, the adherents of the conflicting dung lineages will often persist in their disputes nevertheless, even to the point of ferocious dung wars being waged.

Historically, there have been infrequent though notable attempts to bring the two groups together, stressing the common factor of dung devotion that they both share, but religious zealots can be obstinate, and so treatises are still composed extolling one method over the other, debates rage on dung forums and churches of dung, dung one-upmanship prevails, and all the while, the peculiar fragrance of dung permeates the dung halls, spreading its unmistakable aroma, while fresh dung is piled upon even more dung yet.


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Play of Consciousness

A troupe of actors, skilled at improvisation, have traveled together for a long time. In the course of their wanderings, they have come to excel at mounting various theatrical productions, where each member assumes a particular fictional role to play in the ensuing drama. The purpose is both to enjoy the show, as well as to work out various emotional and psycho-spiritual issues that the play will stimulate.

In this case, the show is called “Life on Earth”. It’s a production where these accomplished actors perform together within a holographic projection, complete with appropriate props, on a small planetary outpost on the edge of a mid-sized galaxy. The aim of the play is to initiate various dramatic situations in that realm, which in turn they can review after the production ends, in order to deepen self-awareness as consummate actors honing their improvisational skills.

Later, they will change roles and appear in further productions they create, all for similar purposes. Currently, however, they are so involved in their own dramatic personas that they have even forgotten they are actors in a staged production, so completely have they identified with their roles and “method”.

Although this is the mark of a superior actor, it also brings with it certain “complications” that one would expect to manifest in any such case of mistaken identity. Of course, assuming such limitations adds a richness and authenticity that might otherwise be lacking, and certainly creates the kind of visceral impact that the troupe so much appreciates and even celebrates at the post-production parties.

The plot for the play “Life on Earth” begins with human births, in which the actors enter into fleshy bio-vehicles, subject to various genetic and environmental conditioning elements. From this starting point, or opening act, the players must then attempt to survive and thrive, often against certain preconceived challenges, or impediments, which were devised by the troupe during the group script-writing, with the aim of creating dramatic tensions and theatrical opportunities.

The actors may take on the role of family members, teachers, employers, lovers, or antagonists, enemies, game opponents, and so forth — whatever creates the most engaging plot devices for dramatic purposes. Such purposes may include various forms of self-testing within the larger context of the screenplay, and consequent insightful revelation.

Given the open-ended parameters, the production may alternate between comedy and tragedy, between adventure and boredom, exultation and horror — all for the sake of the play. Indeed, as one famous dramatist once wrote, “The play’s the thing!”

stage set 3

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