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Sunday, January 27 2019

Sunshine Love


    Several times over the last few weeks, I’ve wakened to the tune and lyrics from the chorus of one of my favorite Bee Gees songs:  “You don’t know what it’s like, you don’t know what it’s like, baby, to love somebody, to love somebody the way I love you.”


         What a sweet good-morning message!  The divine within is telling me how loved I am.  Mornings later, when it kept happening, I decided to listen a little deeper.  Maybe there’s more to this message. 


         Sure enough.  “You don’t know what it’s like to love somebody….the way I love you.”   Oh.  That’s humbling.  And it makes sense.


         I’ve been a life-long student of love.  And now, life is saying: “James, there’s more for you to learn” – a timely message, I guess, since I have recently re-entered the classroom of a new love relationship.


         I believe God/Life/Universe loves us like the sun shines.  The sun makes no judgments about our worthiness to receive light.  It doesn’t withhold its rays if we offend it somehow or don’t give it enough of what it wants.  It doesn’t bargain with us.  It doesn’t try to control us.  It simply radiates because that’s its nature.  It has its own internal radiance system.


         I wonder about taking lessons from the sun.  Just like the sun, the radiance of our love does not depend on the objects of our affection.  It’s about opening to the flow of universal love within and through us and letting that radiance shine forth with ever greater freedom and extravagance – without expectations - as a natural expression of who we are.  As spiritual teacher, Leonard Jacobson says: “I love you, because I am love.”


         Of course, we see and appreciate the beauty and goodness of our loved ones.  Our hearts warm in response to them.  However, when we view the positive qualities in the other as the source of our love, our love becomes conditional – dependent on how lovable the other is.  It waxes and wanes with how gratified we feel and how loved we think we are.


         Our loving nature is sourced in the infinite ocean of love that is this universe.  As we flow with this energy, we are never empty and never unworthy – never unlovable and always love-able.  The more we radiate, the more we are replenished.  The more we allow ourselves to receive, the more we’re able to radiate.


         The theory course on unconditional love is relatively simple. The lab, here on earth, is where the challenge lies.  Here, we meet our hungers and vulnerabilities, our tendencies toward self-absorption and self-protection and the various ways we limit ourselves.  Here, through trial and error, triumphs and mishaps, stumbling and picking ourselves up, experimenting and practicing, we come to learn about our true love-nature.


         We learn to radiate like the sun.





Posted by: AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 17 2019

Spirituality in Sensuality


      Sitting down at the dinner table last night, half an hour before the start of a spiritual group that meets weekly in my home, I dipped my fork into a one-pan concoction of sautéed jalapenos, quinoa, eggs and sharp cheddar cheese – all mixed together, fried crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.


         Just after that first, scrumptious bite, I opened The Radiance Sutras, by Lorin Roche, a translation of the sacred Hindu text, Vijnana Bhairava Tantra – a text we’re using as a guide for our gathering this winter/spring.  I opened to a random spot near the middle of the book.  On the pages facing me I found these two Sutras: 


         Sutra 49


Tasting dark chocolate,

A ripe apricot,

A luscious elixir –

Savor the expanding joy in your body.

Nature is offering herself to you.

How astonishing

To realize this world can taste so good.


When sipping some ambrosia,

Raise your glass,

Close your eyes,

Toast the universe.

The Sun and Moon and Earth

Danced together

To bring you this delight.

Receive the nectar on your tongue

As a kiss of the divine.



         Sutra 50


All around you, in every moment,

The world is offering a feast for your senses.

Songs are playing,

Tasty food is on the table,

Fragrances are in the air,

Colors fill the eyes with light.


You who long for union,

Attend this banquet with loving focus.

The outer and inner worlds

Open to each other.

Oneness of vision, oneness of heart.


Right here, in the midst of it all,

Mount that elation, ascend with it,

Become identical        

With the ecstatic essence

Embracing both worlds.



         What a powerful invitation to return to my senses – to slow down, to savor this meal, to feel the warmth radiating from my fireplace, to let the chant playing on my sound system replace the noise of busy thoughts.


         I was raised in a religious tradition that mistrusted the body and frowned on sensuality – a masculine approach to spirituality that favored the abstract/intellectual and instructed the mind to dominate and disregard the body. 


         I now see how sensuality and sensual awareness ground us in Presence. This grounding connects us, opens us to the flow of life and leads us to the divine - within us and around us.


         Mary Oliver, a wonderful poet who was keenly connected to the natural world, died today.  She wrote one of my favorite lines in all of poetry: “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”


         The Sutras and Mary’s passing invite me to listen deeply to my body, to enjoy its sensual nature, to honor its wisdom and to trust it as one pathway to Allness.


Posted by: AT 11:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 07 2019

         Six years ago, I posted Happy New Moment.  As I enter my 73rd year with excitement and renewed energy, as identity shifts toward fewer words and more being, as fading memory power makes room for originality in the moment, and as other writings percolate, I’m drawn to re-issue this older/younger piece.  I send it with love and good wishes for your health and happiness.



Happy New Moment


       Prone to habit, we attach to repetitive patterns of thought and action, holding them as if they are real.  They become our story, oft-repeated conclusions about ourselves and the world.  Forgetting the creative possibilities in each new moment, we hang on to the familiar – even when it no longer serves us.


       In Present Moment Wonderful Moment, Thich Nhat Hanh writes:  "We can practice beginning anew at any moment of our lives. To be born is to begin anew.  When you are three years old you can begin anew, when you are sixty years old you can begin anew, and when you are about to die, you can still begin anew."


       Adventure's afoot. 


       Happy New Year.  Happy New Moment!



Posted by: AT 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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