No Escape

nothing works, no escape

futilely trying to quiet the mind

the running riot persists, insists

nothing works, no escape

slipping exhausted into a vague sleep

mirror images dart in dream shadows

restless churning of a haunted heart

hopelessly entangled in an angry knot,

lost in a livid compulsion, recycling

every meaningless triviality, dark

thoughts rebounding, pounding

the mind drums, dull ugly echoes,

wanting, wanting, wanting to blame

still nothing works, there is no escape

strapped to a form, fixed in the fire,

no light in a tunnel, no resort,

no escape

Another Face in the Fire


About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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4 Responses to No Escape

  1. Bob OHearn says:

    “You are not ready to accept the fact that you have to give up. A complete and total surrender. It is a state of hopelessness which says that there is no way out. Any movement in any direction, on any dimension, at any level, is taking you away from Yourself.”

    ~J. Krishnamurti

  2. Bob OHearn says:

    This all comes down to something very simple: being fully present and awake in this moment. This is at once arduous and easy. It is easy because we already ARE this aware presence—there is no distance to travel, nothing special or different we need to acquire, nothing that must be resisted or eliminated first. But for human beings with our complicated minds, being fully present and awake is arduous because attention so easily gets drawn in and hypnotized by the self-centered dream, the smoggy swirl of emotion-thought, the drama of “me” and “my problems,” the mirage-like virtual reality that the ancients called samsara or delusion. We ignore the simplicity of bare presence—that seems too threatening, too empty of plot and meaning, too empty of “me”—and we become entranced by the movie-drama centering around the fictitious self—me and the world (as I imagine it)—an operatic soap opera, a suspense-filled action thriller, a tear-jerker, a romance by turns.

    As soon as attention becomes caught up and mesmerized by the thought-story of me, as soon as we identify as a separate and encapsulated fragment, the trouble begins. We feel alone, lost, lacking, unhappy, unfulfilled, unworthy, confused, restless, unsettled, assaulted by a world of things that we cannot control that threaten to annihilate us. We are overwhelmed by anger, fear and addictive desires. We feel misunderstood, not seen, not loved, abandoned, depressed, anxious, uncertain. This cloudy, smoggy mess is made up of thoughts, stories, memories, sensations, emotions. Neurochemistry, hormones, social conditioning, trauma, the condition of the brain—many things can contribute to this mass of suffering. And the drama that is created, the story, the me at the center of it all—while all totally imaginary—feels and seems very real, very believable. This suffering hurts.

    And of course, because it hurts, we want to get out of it. But in some way, we’re also attached to it. It’s our story, our identity, who we think we are. It’s familiar. It’s ME! Maybe it’s the way we’ve learned to get attention, or maybe it’s how we hide from greater vulnerability and risk. It’s entertaining, dramatic. It fills the time. It’s a way of avoiding the heart-opening that we both long for and fear. And so, in some way, our suffering has become something we defend and cling to, often without realizing it. But secretly, we don’t want it to go. Or, we do and we don’t. We’re conflicted, torn, split. The dualistic mind is always torn.

    And the habitual ways in which we try to get rid of our suffering only make it worse—fighting it, resisting it, thinking about it, analyzing it, trying to escape from it by drinking or smoking or turning on the TV or having sex or chasing a new lover or a new guru or eating too much or working compulsively or biting our fingers or pulling out our hair or watching pornography or reading one spiritual book after another. As with quicksand, the more we struggle and the more desperately we try to escape, the deeper we sink. Escape may provide temporary relief—a glass of wine, a good movie, a walk in nature will often shift our attention out of the painful thought-loops and the story of me and take us into another world. And that’s fine. There’s nothing “wrong” with any of these activities and some of them may be quite wholesome and beneficial. But at some point, in the face of our most persistent imaginary tigers, we may want to go deeper. We may want to risk something that sounds totally counter-intuitive and even frightening.

    It occurs to us to stop running away, to stop struggling, to stop all our frantic thinking and doing, to put down the iPad and the wine and turn off the TV (not forever, but in this moment, as a kind of experiment) and to simply BE—to be awake in this moment as the aware presence that we are—and to simply feel the texture of presence itself—to feel the sensations, the urge to get away, the energy…to SEE the thoughts and stories, without getting sucked into them or believing them…to listen to the whole thing without resistance, without judgment, without analysis, without trying to fix it, without wanting it to go away. To behold this whole mass of sensation tenderly, with compassion and love, and perhaps to explore it with our attention. And at the same time, hearing the traffic noise and the birdsong, feeling the breathing, seeing shapes and colors and movements—being awake to this whole ever-changing, seamless happening, inside and outside, no division, no separation. Being open. Not resisting anything—not even resisting resistance if it shows up. Simply seeing it, feeling it in the body, allowing it to reveal itself and dissolve in its own time, in its own way. This is true meditation, and it can happen anywhere in any moment it invites us.

    Awareness is the magic solvent, the healing balm, the light that reveals and dispels the darkness. It is unconditioned, free from the past, open to the new. Awareness is unbound, all-inclusive. Like a mirror, it allows everything to show up and to disappear, without grasping or clinging to anything. Awareness is the most powerful force there is, and yet it is utterly gentle and without intention. Awareness is unconditional love.

    If we are trying to USE awareness to get rid of the darkness, then we’re back in the realm of self-centered, result-oriented, future-directed thought—resisting and seeking, caught up in the imaginary dualistic division between “me in here” and “the darkness out there,” believing that the darkness must be vanquished in order to save me, and in that very belief, giving credibility and substance to both the darkness and the imaginary self. This is all thought. Awareness is what beholds and reveals all of this. Awareness has no agenda.

    Awareness is not trying to eliminate or achieve anything. Awareness allows everything to be as it is, and paradoxically, in allowing everything to be as it is in this moment, awareness allows everything to change in the most intelligent and wholesome way. Awareness IS intelligence itself—not the intelligence we measure on IQ tests, but the intelligence that shows up as this whole amazing universe. Awareness is our True Nature, the ground of being, the Heart. It illuminates and sheds light. Illusions and delusions dissolve naturally in that light. And if action on our part is needed, the actions that spring from open awareness are quite different from the reactions that come out of contracted, dualistic thinking or the smog of emotion-thought.

    So the pathless path of being liberated on the spot boils down to something very simple, something at once effortless and arduous. The arduousness is there only before the surrender happens, in the resistance to surrendering and the fear of opening up and letting go. But once that melting and relaxing and letting go into presence happens, it is effortless.

    Then there’s simply the tweet-tweet of the bird, the whoosh-whoosh of the traffic, the sensations of heat or cold, the tingling in the hands or feet, the rise and fall of breathing, the morning light on a green leaf, the tiny insect crawling across the window pane—just this. There is no self in it, no me, no other, no inside, no outside, no problem. It is one, whole, undivided happening or aliveness—pulsating, vibrating, dynamic, ever-changing, and yet always perfectly in balance, perfectly complete. It is beyond all concepts.

    ~Joan Tollifson

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