Category Archives: Beliefs

Evolving Beyond “Unreal Othering”



What motivates us – as individuals and as a society – to build walls and knowingly hurt others? This talk explores the evolutionary roots of “unreal othering” and how when we are hijacked by fear, it can take over and disconnect us from the very real suffering of others. We then look at how meditative strategies awaken us from othering, and reveal our intrinsic belonging. Finally, we apply this to our own lives in a reflection that helps us respond to someone we have turned into “unreal other” with compassion and wisdom.

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

~ “Red Brocade,” Naomi Shihab Nye


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Three Domains of Formless Presence – Landlocked in Fur (retreat talk)



While we have evolved to experience a defining sense of separate self, our potential is to awaken to the formless dimension – the pure awareness is our shared source. This talk explores how we can undo the identification with thoughts, emotions and feelings that keeps us landlocked and unable to trust and live from our naturally loving and radiant essence. (a favorite from the archives – given at the 2014 IMCW New Year’s Retreat in Reisterstown, MD)

Poem at start of talk: “Landlocked in Fur” ~ by Tukaram

I was meditating with my cat the other day
and all of a sudden she shouted,
“What happened?!”

I knew exactly what she meant, but encouraged
her to say more – feeling that if she got it all out on the table
she would sleep better that night.

So I responded, “Tell me more, dear,”
and she soulfully meowed:

“Well, I was mingled with the sky. I was comets
whizzing here and there. I was suns in heat, hell-I was
galaxies. But now look-I am
landlocked in fur.”

To this I said, ”I know exactly what
you mean.”

What to say about conversation between
mystics?

“Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West” (Ladinksy, 2002)


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From Human Doing to Human Being – Part 1



Like Sisyphus eternally pushing the boulder up the hill, we can spend many moments busily trying to manage our life. This two-part talk explores how we can awaken from our non-stop doing, including the incessant inner narrative, and discover the mystery, love and freedom that arises in Being.

Listen and watch Part 2: From Human Doing to Human Being.


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From Head to Heart



If we are suffering, we are believing an interpretation of reality that is limiting and untrue. At these times we are imprisoned in a painful looping of fear-driven thoughts and feelings. This talk explores the ways our practices of mindfulness, compassion and loving presence can guide us from addictive thinking to perceiving life with a wise heart.


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Namaste: Seeing the Truth of Who We Are



A gift of evolving consciousness is the capacity to recognize and honor the sacred awareness that lives through our own and all beings. This capacity is blocked by our identification with our “mask” or ego self, and not seeing past other people’s masks. In this talk we reflect together on some key filters of superior/inferior and good/bad that shape the trance of a narrowed identity, and then explore how mindfulness and kindness free us to inhabit the vastness of our natural awareness. We close with tasting the possibility of bringing the spirit of Namaste to ourselves, others and all beings.

Rumi writes: ““Are you searching for your true self? Then come out of your own prison. Leave the little creek and join the mighty river that flows into the ocean. Like an ox, don’t pull the wheel of this world on your back. Take off the burden. Whirl and circle, and rise above the wheel of the world. There is another view.”


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Trusting Who We Are (retreat talk)



The sign of spiritual freedom is a deep trust in our essential nature, and in the light of awareness that lives through all beings.  This talk explores the conditioning that entraps us in a trance of separation and believing in a limited self.  We then explore the evolutionary shift in identity that is possible as we deepen our attention and presence to the life that is here, and the loving awareness that is the source of existence.


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Part 3 of 3 – Freedom from Othering: Undoing the Myths that Imprison Us



A primary source of our suffering is the conditioning to create “bad other,” or “inferior other.” This same conditioning leads us to creating a bad self and turn on ourselves. These three talks explore how we subscribe to societal myths and beliefs that perpetuate this “bad othering,” and “bad selfing.” They then guide us in bring a healing attention that can reveal the goodness that lives through all beings, and our innate connectedness. A core teaching is, “the boundary to who we include in our hearts is the boundary to our freedom.”


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Part 2 of 3 – Freedom from Othering: Undoing the Myths that Imprison Us


Ram Dass A primary source of our suffering is the conditioning to create “bad other,” or “inferior other.” This same conditioning leads us to creating a bad self and turn on ourselves. These three talks explore how we subscribe to societal myths and beliefs that perpetuate this “bad othering,” and “bad selfing.” They then guide us in bring a healing attention that can reveal the goodness that lives through all beings, and our innate connectedness. A core teaching is, “the boundary to who we include in our hearts is the boundary to our freedom.”

Freedom from Othering: Undoing the Myths that Imprison Us – Part 1


photo: Janet Merrick


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Part 1 of 3 – Freedom from Othering: Undoing the Myths that Imprison Us



A primary source of our suffering is the conditioning to create “bad other,” or “inferior other.” This same conditioning leads us to creating a bad self and turn on ourselves. These three talks explore how we subscribe to societal myths and beliefs that perpetuate this “bad othering,” and “bad selfing.” They then guide us in bring a healing attention that can reveal the goodness that lives through all beings, and our innate connectedness. A core teaching is, “the boundary to who we include in our hearts is the boundary to our freedom.”


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Trusting Your Basic Goodness: Part 2



This talk continues the exploration of what causes our distrust of ourselves, others and life, and the pathways to realizing and trusting who we are. We explore the steps of awakening from limiting beliefs, dissolving the resistance to direct embodied presence, and discovering the space and tenderness – the formless dimension – that is indivisible and whole.

“How can we trust basic goodness, what lets us trust?”

“…imagine how might your life change if you dedicated yourself to realizing and trusting this basic goodness sometimes called Buddha nature or loving presence that’s within.”

Enjoy Part 1: Basic Trust

photo: Shell Fischer – www.mindfulvalley.com


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