A Song of Awakening
Praise Be—to being home—to being ever-connected to our Source, and what is pulsing life in our every molecule and cell, and heartbeat and breath . . . and yes!—is the same Light we pass back into when this body’s time on earth is up.
Here, in our union with the one Energy/one Spirit that creates, and sustains and contains everything, is our very soul and who we are in our entirety, but may not realize it or act like it. And thus, our great opportunity in this life: to thoroughly look into and clearly recognize what’s at the core of us all . . . and to live accordingly.
This Source-connectedness and most intimate, Divine bond is love itself, our heart’s truth, our truest nature, and where our deepest sense of serenity abides. And what happiness/what peace is found in this sweet surrender to being home—to relaxing into God’s ever-presence, into any moment’s breath, and our own inherent goodness! What infinite, welcoming arms to trust falling into and how open the heart that is ours to give.
Any moment, then, is our chance to reflect this Presence and live in response to it, through any and all forms of love. Such is an openness of being that acknowledges and welcomes every part of ourselves, and most highly values our being attentive, thoughtful and caring toward one another . . . and living a life full of passion and generosity, tenderness and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, kindness and gratitude. Such is our awakening and our devotion: to the happiness and meaningfulness of a life given fully to our deepest truth/given to God, to love, and being at peace here—now and forever—home.
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And Here, In Its Entirety, Is
In Praise of Love and Being Home
A Guide to Living from the Heart of Happiness and Peace
i In Deepest Gratitude To ii Preface iii Introduction 1 “Relax and Breathe” 2 “This Great Opportunity” 3 “Steered Back on Love’s Course” 4 “Undivided Attention” 5 “A Divine Disappointment” 6 “The Open and Tender Heart” 7 “Still and Always Home” 8 “Unconditional Acceptance” 9 “Turned Inside Out” 10 “Abiding by Our Truth-Telling” 11 “Our Kinship in God” 12 “Just Love” iv An Affirmation of Our Heart’s Truth
In Deepest Gratitude To
Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Ramana Maharshi, Jalaluddin Rumi, Adi Da Samraj, Matt Kahn, Amma, Ramakrishna, Francis of Assisi, Moses, Kabir, H.W.L. Poonja, Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Albert Einstein, Idries Shah, Fred Sontag, Peter Davis, Joseph Forcinelli, A.H. Almaas, John DeRuiter, Shunyru Suzuki, Jack Kornfield, Saniel Bonder, Jean Klein, Kahlil Gibran, Soren Kierkegaard, Carl Jung, Martin Luther, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Rainer Maria Rilke, Martin Buber, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Herman Hesse, Chogyam Trungpa, Joseph Campbell, Ram Dass, Reb Anderson, Ken Wilber, Stephen Levine, Thich Nhat Hanh, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Harvey Cox, R. Richard Niebuhr, Rollo May, Thomas Merton, Henri Bergson, Philip Kapleau, James Redfield, Byron Katie, John-Roger, Pamela Wilson, Catherine Ingram, Adyashanti, Satyam Nadeen, Arjuna Ardagh, Isaac Shapiro, Hanuman, Francis Lucille, M. Scott Peck, Pema Chodron, Sylvia Boorstein, Douglas Harding, Ramesh Balsekar, Wayne Liquorman, Walter Starcke, Andrew Harvey, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Stephen Mitchell, Neale Donald Walsch, Thomas Cleary, Robert Aitken, Glenda Green, Achaan Chah, Joseph Goldstein, Gerald Jampolsky, Leo Buscaglia, Marianne Williamson, Leonard Cohen, Alan Cohen, Anthony Robbins, Dan Millman, Deepak Chopra, Richard Bach, Don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Dyer, Henry Miller, Leonard Jacobson, Barbara Sher, Daniel Holeman, Iasos, Robert Winslow.
. . . And to my Mom and Dad, and my dear wife Minako and daughter Laina, stepson Lucas, sisters Barbara and Rebecca, brother Gary, and my extended family and friends who mean so much to me. Thank you.
My writings are the result of decades of reflection, and listening to and learning from many people. I am profoundly indebted to all those who have helped guide me and inspire me. So, as I have been influenced (and continue to be influenced) by a wide variety of people, I wish to return this favor in kind and offer my own views . . . on truly living from the heart of happiness and peace—on truly living as love.
In Praise of Love and Being Home is the book that my previous books have led to—a summary series of writings that are best read and re-read slowly; and allowed to sink into and saturate our whole being, in any instant and over time. How good, then, to take this message, this meditation, with us wherever we go . . . and feel for ourselves how this can have the most positive and profound impact on every aspect of our life and our world.
The writings offered here look straight to the heart, to our heart of hearts, where there is no doubt: Genuine, heartfelt love is what provides the deepest sense of happiness and peace in our life; the deepest sense of satisfaction and meaning. And likewise, when we speak straight from the heart, we can honestly say that love’s open-heartedness and true generosity of spirit feels the best, does us the most good, and nurtures and nourishes us like nothing else can! When it comes down to it, and after all is said and done, only love can impact our life and our world in the most valuable ways. Only love works . . . really. Only love matters.
Why? Because only love, and its tender-hearted sweetness and joy, is capable of truly touching us and opening us to our very core, and reflecting what’s in there. The love we sincerely give and receive resonates with this, taps into this, conveys this: the deepest truth about ourselves, and what is closer to us than anything else could possibly be. Such is our love-filled union with what is pulsing life in our every molecule and cell, and heartbeat and breath, and where our spirit remains when our body’s time on earth is up. This most intimate, everlasting bond with our Creator is the very substance of love itself. Yes! Love is what we’re made of, deep down, is our Source-connectedness, our heart’s truth, our true home, and the happiness and peace ever-abiding there. Love is who we really are.
Thus, when we are actually being open-hearted, tender-hearted, kind-hearted, big-hearted and such, we are living in sync with our true nature, our true self, and exuding it. And how perfect, that by extending love’s caring warmth to anyone or anything, even in the smallest ways, we are being true to our true self, and emanating this: the innocence and goodness woven in every fiber of our being. When we encourage, support, inspire, help and guide another, we are acknowledging and expressing our oneness . . . with God . . . and with each other. Love is the connectedness—is our mutually shared essence and what unites us all, in truth.
So, in listening to these words, we can be reminded that no matter where we are, or what’s going on in our life, we can value love above all else, and simply be attentive, thoughtful and caring toward anyone or anything; simply be kind and generous, compassionate and forgiving, and the like. And when we are conveying these kinds of qualities, and opening the “arms” of our heart and inviting anyone or anything into this embrace, we are actually mirroring the vastness of the Life-giving energy, or spirit, which pervades every nook and cranny of the universe. Love is an openness of being that expresses our true, innermost spirit, and the way to truly feel at home in our true home . . . and to thrive here.
How, then, to make all this real in our life, when so much of what is happening in and around us might seem loveless, unhappy and anything but peaceful? This is an essential focus of these writings: to see how our opening and giving way to love—and the Origin of love’s light—can outshine any darkness we face. . . . How wonderful, then, how beautiful, to be touched and transformed by the power and grace of love’s radiance. We can actually breathe it, sense it and float in it—give and receive it—and feel for ourselves how this heart-centered energy feeds, and nourishes and heals us like nothing else can. And there’s no question, that letting love guide us in all that we think, and feel and do is what we really need—and our world needs—now, more than ever.
“Relax and Breathe”
While receiving these words, we can sense how good it is, how loving it is, to simply relax into fully being here in this moment, and to feel in and as the whole body—sinking into the ground we sit, or stand or lie on. And while being settled here, we can be present to all that we sense, and think, and feel and do; and completely allow what is, meet what is and welcome what is. . . . This openness of being naturally relaxes the whole body . . . and vice versa: Relaxing in and as the whole body helps deepen and widen our openness, our awareness, and to experience how good it is to be this way. We can feel and relax into our feet, our legs and hips, buttocks and pelvis; into our belly, our back and shoulders, neck and head.
Likewise, we can sense how good it is, how loving and effective it is, to feel the whole body breathing; as we relax into each naturally-paced breath in the belly, with the whole torso rising on inhalation and falling on exhalation. We can also consciously breathe slowly and deeply, and feel how this is so beneficial; as is our fully exhaling—which serves our letting go and being at ease in the here and now. And, as we let each exhalation go all the way out, we can more fully inhale the Life-energy sustaining us all.
How great that we can be this way in any moment and as often as we choose—even making a habit of briefly stopping at various times throughout our day, and being intentionally quiet and still, and most closely aware of our breathing and what is happening in and around us.
And how great, truly, that simply being aware of the whole body breathing is an immediate way to feel our connection to the Source and Sustenance of all that is and what is animating every life-form. Such is our most intimate, everlasting bond with what creates us, sustains us, and where we dissolve back into upon our body’s passing. We are, in fact, right now, being breathed by the Origin of all creation! And we love and care for ourselves in the deepest way by sensing our ever-present union with This—by being aware of being at home here—breathing, relaxing and floating here . . . floating in God . . . open and at peace in body, mind and spirit.
Praise be, then, to this ongoing opportunity that we have been given in this life: to confirm and affirm, in each and every breath, our true nature, our Source-connectedness, our heart’s truth, our true home, and essential unity as a species. And, how great that we have endless chances to convey and share this essential confirmation and oneness through our love—through our attentiveness and caring, our kindness and compassion, passion and generosity, tenderness and patience, tolerance and forgiveness, and our simply being civil, humane, and intent on treating others with common decency and respect.
How perfect—that there are so many “flavors” of love that allow us to “taste” our heart’s truth and savor it! And what better way to better ourselves and this world, than by passionately living in any and all heart-centered/open-hearted ways—in one grateful form of “I love you” after another; and through any form of service, and healing and help? Such is our opening to, breathing and letting go into the heart of happiness—and living as such—through the pure and simple tender-hearted and big-hearted love we can give and receive in any moment of our life.
So . . . if we aren’t experiencing a real sense of happiness, and love and peace in our life right now, we best be looking deep inside ourselves for it, with the greatest amount of intention and urgency we can. And, truth be told, our unhappiness is a blessing, a signal that alerts us, implores us, to tell the most penetrating truth about ourselves, and to relentlessly give way to this truth-telling. Such is letting our heart be broken open, and surrendered to what is at our very core; and letting this light guide us in all that we think, and feel and do. Then, a life of love, and happiness and peace is what we can choose and make real—be dedicated and devoted to—with the utmost gratitude. Life, after all, in this present human form is too short, too precious, to be about anything else. Right?!
Each of us must make this discovery for ourselves, and take responsibility for the living of it. And, most thankfully, it is true: When we are truly touched and stirred awake by our heart’s truth—when we’re truly attracted to it—then we’re much more able and willing to let a caring, kind and generous spirit flow through us, and influence any aspect of our life in a most positive and profound way! . . . Such is a pure and simple open-heartedness that can be conveyed in a manner unique to each of us; replacing, little by little, any and all habits of mind and body to the contrary. Then, our entire bio-chemistry, and the way we feel in and as the whole body, can be affected and transformed; as we tap into/breathe and relax into/let go into the wellspring of love and peace in our heart of hearts . . . and float freely there . . . live from there.
Yes! We can let these words and their meaning continually sink into us, and simply love ourselves and anyone else as best we can, and even in the slightest ways. Regardless of what is happening, or has happened in our life up to this point, we can always ask ourselves: “How do I want to ‘show up’ to life in this moment, how do I want to be, and how can I love and be at peace, right now? How can I live, in this moment, as an affirmation of my inherent self-worth, and that of anyone else; and how can I best give mental, emotional and physical support to anyone I can and assistance wherever I can?” . . . And how good it is—how fulfilling and rewarding it is—to deeply love and care for ourselves and others; to be endlessly praising and uplifting anyone and everyone in every way we can . . . in the ways we all deserve—in the ways we are all needing most to feel.
“This Great Opportunity”
Love is continually imploring us to help better the world we live in, and to participate fully in doing so. With that in mind, it’s clear, we are compelled sometimes to stand up and cry, “Foul”; and to defend ourselves when necessary; and to try and stop negligent, unjust and cruel behavior in anyone we can. Love naturally helps us stand strong and be protective of our loved ones, and to speak up and be courageous in all the ways we can and must. Love accepts that there are times when we need to do these things.
This is our great challenge and opportunity, then—to see how love is best expressed while “righting wrongs,” and calling out for justice and fairness to prevail. Each of us must see for ourselves how to do any of this in any instance, and to rely upon love to fundamentally guide us. And, while being disturbed or even outraged about things might be a fuel for some kind of action or cause, it does come down to this: If we really want to create a world with more equality and harmony in it, a world with more peace and love in it, then these qualities are what we best embody and be responsible for ourselves—first and foremost.
So, after any emotional response to any situation is allowed to be felt, and any matter addressed, the bottom line question is always this: Do we want to be filled primarily with love inside ourselves . . . or with anger, anxiety, depression or despair? And again and again, the choice becomes much easier to make (and make real) if love is, indeed, our highest value, our deepest commitment, and what we give way to and rely upon, most essentially, to lead the way.
And if we find ourselves being continually disgusted with things? In any moment, we can be free to feel whatever we feel, including all the sensations that go along with being upset, disturbed, aggravated and such. And then, whenever that is for any of us, we can bring our attention back—over, and over and over again—to the unconditional love and God-filled peace that is ever-present and ever-available at our core. In any moment, we can stop, and put our attention on this—breathe and relax into this—into what is deeper and more fulfilling than what might be irritating us or infuriating us. Then, it is much easier to loosen the tightness (and self-inflicted suffering) of our being too often upset or bothered by anything or anyone. And then, it is also much easier to be forgiving, and to give up any ill-will we might have toward others. And, it’s clear, that only by more and more of us being this way—being open-hearted and forgiving—does this world have any chance of improving . . . really.
Yes, love is forgiveness, and vice versa. Forgiveness is any moment’s compassionate response to our being “all too human,” with all our imperfect ways of treating ourselves and each other, and the fact that we all make mistakes in this life. And, forgiveness proclaims, with the deepest honesty, that we are still and always all right, no matter what—still and always God-connected, still and always home—where our inherent innocence, goodness and inner beauty are assured. We can let our being “all too human” continually pay homage to this and bow down to this, to our heart’s truth . . . and aim to live according to it. Then, we can be awakened and transformed, in any moment, by all that the origins and spirit of forgiveness make possible.
How great: that even when there might be people we need to be wary of, or avoid or guard ourselves against, we can still and always feel safe, and loving and loved in the deepest way, by trusting in our eternal bond with the Source of all creation—certain that nothing or no one can ever separate us from That. Again and always, this love-filled, light-filled union is our very essence, our true self, our true home; and how good it is to continually hear this truth and its assuredness, and to take this “hearing” with us wherever we go.
Right?! How liberating it is to breathe, and sense and surrender to this “hearing,” this truth-telling, and float freely here—in this heart-centeredness, this happiness and innermost calm—regardless of what else is happening in and around us, or how anyone else is behaving. . . . Such is loving ourselves and anyone else in the deepest way, forgiving ourselves and anyone else in the deepest way, and being true to our true nature and our essential unity. So, while we are always at home, always God-connected, our great opportunity in this life is to reflect and radiate this spirit—to actually and continually open to it, let go to it and live it.
This basic openness, this letting go, this trust, and its kind-hearted and big-hearted expressions, can “lighten us up” and move us to bring this same light to others. This can be our mission, if you will: to help better our world, by recognizing our mutually shared essence and common bond, and treating each other accordingly; by being one who deeply cares, who deeply loves, and takes complete responsibility for doing so.
And how good it is to hold ourselves to this high standard of living as love—to be accountable to it—and wanting others to hold us to this, as well. This is our being given to simple loving-kindness, to a gentleness and generosity of spirit, which is innately fulfilling and conveys our God-given wholeness and goodness. And again and always, we can “show up” to life in this way, be this way, live this way, if we really want it to be so; if we give our greatest allegiance to our heart’s truth, and truly value love the most. Then, love will continually educate us on how to be, and be the central guiding force in our life! Love is, indeed, our greatest teacher.
We also have this great opportunity in our being alive: to find what we really love to do, what really interests us, moves us and brings out the best in us—in terms of our vocations and avocations, creative pursuits, leisure time activities and such. Likewise, a big part of life is finding the most fulfilling intimate relationships, the right life-partner, the best friends, and how to spend our precious time on this earth.
For many of us, this may be an ongoing process, with much “trial and error” and “living and learning” as we go; for others, any or all of this might come much quicker and easier. In any case, how wonderful it is to “follow our passion,” “follow our dreams,” in whatever ways we can, and to experience the joy and satisfaction in doing what we really love to do.
As we do so, and perhaps look to find our “true calling,” our true “labor of love,” the key is the love we give to whatever we’re doing—the passionate interest and energy we bring; the attentiveness, and thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit that is happiness itself. . . . Thus, it can be said that every moment of our life, every encounter, is another chance to do what we’re here to do, “meant to do”—to purely and simply love—even in the least of ways, no matter what. Then, we just might find the “meaning of life”—what’s most meaningful in life—the love, and happiness, inner peace and beauty that can be found anywhere and everywhere, even amid the most mundane and ordinary activities and circumstances. And isn’t this what’s truly rewarding: taking our open-heartedness, and joy and serenity with us wherever we go; whether or not we have the ideal job, or mate, or friends or creative endeavors?
How true, then: Everything in our life has everything to do with how we respond to whatever is arising in and around us; with the attitude we bring, and how we approach situations, and deal with life’s inevitable challenges and adversities. So, even if we encounter thoughts and feelings, and people and circumstances that annoy us, aggravate or upset us, we can breathe fully and freely, and accept whatever we’re feeling. We can love ourselves, forgive ourselves, as the one who is free to think and feel anything at all.
Yes . . . we can love ourselves, as the one who is always whole and complete at our Source-connected core; and who is “all too human” in every possible way, and created as such. And thus, we honor all this, and treat ourselves well, by allowing all aspects of our humanness to be met and acknowledged; including the steady stream of thoughts, and feelings and “daydreaming” that goes on in each of us.
And, it is clearly true, that many of the thoughts and feelings that arise in us can affect us in many debilitating ways, if we let them. They can grab at us, tense and tighten us inside, and cause varying degrees of stress and sadness in our life. They can carry an undercurrent of dissatisfaction; of unnecessary worry and cravings; and have us believing and identifying with all sorts of negative, loveless things about ourselves and others. And, as many of us have experienced, or continue to, these kinds of thoughts and feelings can run our life and run us ragged, leaving us often feeling disappointed and let down, weary and stressed out; and far less happy and at peace than we could be.
Thankfully, our self-awareness can come to the rescue. Completely meet any thought popping up in the mind with full attention, with full openness, and acceptance, welcoming and forgiveness, and see what happens to it. See if it isn’t outshined by the light of awareness itself, consciousness itself, and no longer there with the power over us we may have believed it had. . . . They are, after all, just thoughts, mind-forms, which only control us if we don’t recognize them for what they are, see through them, and let them appear and disappear freely inside us.
What good fortune when this recognition happens, and we catch ourselves, and release ourselves from the grip of thoughts that might make us needlessly anxious, impatient, hurried, frustrated or depressed; or uptight, irritated, defensive and angry when we don’t have to be. . . . Then, we can really see how vital and beneficial it is to heed the wisdom of the old adage: “Don’t believe or automatically react to everything you think.”
Thus, our “spiritual practice”—our life of love, and happiness and peace—includes the obvious: to be vigilant in our paying attention and how we relate to our mental-emotional activity. In any moment, we can welcome our thoughts and feelings as they come into our awareness, and see them for what they are. And, in being attentive like this, we can see the thoughts and feelings that we needn’t take seriously, which aren’t helpful or useful, and that we don’t have to believe, or buy into or act out. . . . Whatever arises in us, we can be the witness, the overseer of our mind’s activity, its benevolent master; as we accept our thoughts and feelings, and accept and affirm that being unloving and unhappy is not the way we want to live.
This is being unconditionally accepting, unconditionally loving and forgiving, and being ever so grateful for being gently stirred awake like this. Such is the light of consciousness being love’s “agent,” love’s “servant,” shining on any mind-forms that might grab at us, contract us, delude us, burden us and distress us. . . . And, in the moment that this illumination occurs, we might even experience that the mind’s noise has been quieted, and set free from its contractions; as we are awakened from any of our “daydreaming sleep,” and returned to love, welcomed back home. Then, we can be certain that nothing, in fact, can stand in the way of love’s light, and the mind “dropping into the heart,” as it were. Then, we’re more than willing for any thoughts and feelings to keep arising in us for however long they will, and for our awareness to continually see them, accept them, welcome them, outshine them and forgive them . . . to love them, whatever arises.
How perfect, that our vigilance in being this way—in being attentive, watchful—grows out of the love we can give to ourselves. When we truly see what works best for us, and how to best love and care for ourselves, we naturally become attracted to being mindful and self-aware as much as we can. We can, most gratefully, fall in love with this—with shining the light of awareness on anything arising in us . . . as we are continually clearing space “between our ears” of anything that appears to “cloud” the mind, and obstruct our true happiness and peace. And what good news, that this doesn’t require any arduous practice or heavy-handed effort. This is, thankfully, a most easeful, gentle and loving form of intention; coming from our being undeniably drawn to being attentive in all ways—to being awake—and all that this serves in our life.
Then, we can, indeed, make best use of our mind, and all the magnificent things it is intended for and capable of. And how great is the thinking-mind’s capacity to problem-solve, to create, and to consider and reflect on the countless ways we can better ourselves and our world. And, how truly great, that our thoughts can be intentionally aimed at helping us stay true to our highest values and principles—as we think about and stay focused on how we want to live; and how we can best love, and be happy, healthy and at peace in this life.
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Available in softcover at OutskirtsPress.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com . . . or by calling (888) OP-Books (1-888-672-6657). Also available through any retail bookseller (via wholesalers Ingram or Baker and Taylor. E-book versions are available at OutskirtsPress.com and Amazon's Kindle store.