Life experiencing Life

We each speak of “my life.” The life we have. The life we need to get. Or the things happening within this life, which is seemingly bound by limits.

In the same breath, we can acknowledge that Life is this thing all around us that we are all experiencing.

A life, then, is experiencing Life.

Where does one end and the other begin? Are they separate or the same? Are we not all comprising this experience of Life?

Perforce head shots
Superman ©2016 Dave Getzschman

Is Life, then, experiencing itself?

According to the Vedas, the ability to see Life as experiencing itself, to see existence as a singularity, makes you conscious. This consciousness, then, brings bliss.

Existence > Consciousness > Bliss

In this formula, all is seen as simply the rise and fall of perpetual creation. Creation is distinguished by name and form, but ultimately it is all the same: Emotions rise and fall. Thoughts rise and fall. Sensations rise and fall. The breath rises and falls. Mountains rise and fall. Civilizations rise and fall.

A flower (life) rises from the earth, unfolds towards the light, the source of Life, and falls upon itself, only to become compost for more rise and fall.

Perpetual revolutions, comprising evolution.

Life revealing itself to itself.

Life as a continuum, ever-expanding, all-inclusive. All one.

If Black Lives Truly Mattered

What would the world look/feel/be like if black lives TRULY mattered?

This was a question posed on social media by my friend CJ after it had been posed to him at a Black Lives Matter rally. Being totally honest, I found this really confounding to visualize. So with my response below, I offer the same challenge to you. Let me know what you come up with.

For black lives to truly matter on earth, there is an implicit need for the mistreatment from white people – both subtle and overt, particular and systemic, past and present – to be universally uncovered, acknowledged, and accepted as true, without doubt or condition, by everyone within that race of privileged people who have been universally bred to be unsympathetic to those who don’t share their skin color and to presume no risk to their lack of humanity.

Colorblind, Oakland
Colorblind © 2015 Dave Getzschman

That’s pretty heavy. But there’s more…

The aforementioned revelation would have to followed by sincere and tireless and universal efforts at rectification – to reverse the miseducation, the misappropriation, the misrepresentation, the misjudgment, the mistreatment and the extrajudicial slaughter wrought over the course of centuries via enslavement, disenfranchisement, segregation, incarceration, gentrification, racial profiling, etc. Only then could we begin to hope for something resembling reconciliation.

It’s a task for centuries. If not for millennia.

But for starters, I think there’s a powerful clue in the statement that #blacklivesmatter and in our willingness to perpetually insist on it for ourselves and for others. I think the Buddha would love that statement because inherent in those three words is a truth that as long as black lives don’t matter, ALL LIVES WON’T MATTER.

Concurrent to this urgent social crisis, we have urgent geopolitical and environmental crises that are nudging us to a similar truth: that as long as poor lives, homeless lives, indigenous lives, migrant lives, Muslim lives, animal lives, bird lives, fish lives and insect lives don’t matter, ALL LIVES WON’T MATTER.

It’s a clarion call to individuals of every skin tone, for our own sakes, to turn the wheel of dharma. To begin to lift the veil of separation to see, as the Vedas indicate, that beyond name and form, there is one existence, one consciousness, shared by all.

What would the world look/feel/be like if black lives TRULY mattered? Like one Life peering out from behind every set of eyes and seeing only itself, after all.

© 2016 Dave Getzschman Feel free to share on social media but please ask for permission to reprint in full or in part

I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides, Now

On the White Rim Trail of Canyonlands National Park, Utah, United States

 Clouds from Both Sides © 2016 Dave Getzschman

 

Ever notice that you can hear the lyrics to a song and feel like you get it, but on future listens, you gain a totally different meaning?

Why is this? Were you not fully conscious the first time? Does the consciousness that is you morph into a different consciousness? Are you the same you?

Acknowledging that you don’t approach the same song with the same understanding on separate occasions, can you allow your consciousness to evolve instantly on any lyric or subject or predicament?

Maybe you’ve heard Joni Mitchell‘s beautiful song about clouds.

If so, perhaps you thought it was actually about clouds for the first dozen listens. Several listens later, you learn that it’s about how she thinks she knows clouds, then she learns that she really doesn’t know clouds. After more listens, you learn that she’s speaking of life using the metaphor of clouds.

Can you look at clouds from both sides, like Joni Mitchell did, and find peace in the predicament that you “really don’t know clouds at all?”

Or, like a cloud, can you float comfortably in the instability of perpetual uncertainty?

Joni’s song goes on to tell us, “something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.”

I think the “something lost” is the past. The “something gained” is our consciousness of right now, the awareness we have right now, the understanding that we need right now. Your now consciousness is the only thing you have. In truth, it’s the only thing you are.

Anyway, that’s my assessment right now. I really don’t know Joni Mitchell at all.

© 2016 Dave Getzschman Feel free to share on social media but please ask for permission to reprint in full or in part

Hipsters vs. Hispanics

Another hipster flag has been hoisted in Highland Park, a traditionally-Hispanic neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles that is rapidly gentrifying. This one is a sign that says “Highland Park” in the style of old-Hollywood, vintage neon.

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A sign of the times © 2016 Dave Getzschman
     Sometimes, I leave town for a week, return home to Highland Park, and three new boutique shops will have opened on the main street, selling vintage clothes or hand-crafted knick-knacks or vegetables from a Vitamix.
     There are seven bars operating within two blocks. Six of them opened in the last couple years. All cater to the new arrivals, the white kids, with craft beers and fancy appetizers and novelties like shuffleboard.
     Stuff white people like. Replacing traditional Hispanic stuff.
     Graffiti on the walls of the neighborhood frequently decries the Caucasian invasion with this slogan:
“Gentrification is colonization.”
     I don’t dispute it. I am one of the colonizers, pushed East by rising rents. And while I do support the taquerias and panderias and auto body shops owned by the so-called “immigrants” who have actually been here for generations, I definitely indulge in the newer amenities of yoga and lattes and gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes.
    Singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek has a unique track about his conflicting feelings regarding a Mexican man whom he hires to fix his house, but in whose deportation he ultimately refuses to intercede.
     I respect the honesty, if not the integrity. In some ways, it reflects my own desire to be of support to those who aren’t white, being pushed out by those who are white, while also being white and without support myself. I can’t afford to participate in the Southern California real estate market either.
     In the ground war between hipsters and Hispanics, Hispanics are losing their foothold, their businesses, their homes. Ironically, it was two Latino electricians who were paid to erect the hipster-friendly welcome sign I photographed. It sits, unsurprisingly, over a store that sells typewriters. Both are cute and quaint and – like white guilt, I guess – stuff that white people like.

Change your mind, change your reality

Imagine all of the obstacles you’ve overcome in your life. Now compare them to this current obstacle. Maybe you can acknowledge that:

  1.      They are not so different.
  2.      They are predominantly problems of the mind.
  3.      If you can let go of outcome and focus on the fact that all of your problems to date have been solved, you will cultivate the faith to deliver resolution directly to your doorstep.

There is a Zen koan that says: “The rock that is in the way is the way.”

Doesn’t that suggest that density and magnitude and duration of the obstacle are no different, from one to the next, except in the mind? And that the mind, therefore, is the real problem?

And also: the solution.

Change your mind, change your reality.

As Echart Tolle says, “No mind? No problem!”

If you can use the formula I’ve outlined on this page to acknowledge our oneness with each other, then you’ll realize you have the aid of all human beings at your disposal, and that aid will come to you in ways you can’t have anticipated.

Who am I to be talking about this stuff?

I am nobody. And I am everybody. I am someone who is following his curiosity and sharing what he finds.

I love you. Thank you for being my guides. We’re all in this together!

This post dedicated to my teacher and friend, Bethany Eanes.

© 2016 Dave Getzschman Feel free to share on social media but please ask for permission to reprint in full or in part

Taking it personal

     For years, I’ve been posting articles and photos on social media that align with my experience or that reference my political outlook. But very little of what I have shared to date has been of a personal nature.
     Until now.
     Why NOW?
     Because as a result of my own growth as a human, conversations with friends and colleagues and geopolitical circumstances, I’m recently aware of the need to come out strongly, personally and definitively on the side of LOVE.
     Who am I to speak with any authority on this topic? I’ll get into that in a future post about How I’m learning to Love Everyone. But for now…
     What I know for a certainty is that we all, indisputably, derive from one source. If you’re a religious person, that source is God, Yahweh, Allah, Rama – take your pick. If you rely on science to represent the truth of what is, then you have to acknowledge that we’re all just recycled carbon. The sun, rain, and earth combine to build and energize these bodies we all inhabit.
      We are all impermanent incarnations of energy. Without warning, we take an incarnation, and just as suddenly, we make our exit. No one is removed from this equation.
     We arrive with nothing. We leave with nothing. But while we are here, we are intensely, incontrovertibly interdependent.
    Notably, in Western media and politics, we often encounter the myth of the “self-made businessman.” Conservatives like to parrot this notion ad infinitum. You may recognize it as regurgitated Ayn Rand enlightened-self-interest-speak.
     No man or woman, no businessman or businesswoman, is self-made.
     Any person operating in today’s business climate is building on centuries of American capitalist ideology (which, itself, was given a considerable jumpstart by hundreds of years of free and disposable labor via the enslavement and commoditization of dark-skinned peoples). A business requires employees, means of distribution, intra and international trade pacts, laws supportive of industry, trademark protection, the Internet. In other words, MASSIVE amounts of collaboration on a local, global and historical scale. If you don’t believe me, consider how many people it took to get the blueberries to your breakfast cereal from their point of origin in the soil of South America!
     Likewise, on a human basis alone, none of us sprouts independent of familial, social and environmental factors. And we all depend on the infrastructure of existing society to live moment to moment, day to day. Need evidence? You’re using the Internet! Decades of technological development, the mining of raw materials, legislation, server farms and millions of man hours of innovation and labor were required for you to be able to read this post.
     Irrespective of race, ethnicity, culture or geography, our DNA is 99.9 percent identical. Xenophobia, the patriarchy, white supremacy and the vermin associated with these evils that have reared their ugly heads in the 2016 presidential election cycle must be acknowledged for what they are if we are to evolve to realize our potential as a species: the awareness of our oneness. The obliteration of the illusion of separation. Union with the divine.
     “The power of LOVE,” as earnest 80’s rocker Huey Lewis put it (It don’t take money! Don’t take fame!).
     Environmentally, socially and politically, our world is balancing precariously on a razor’s edge right now. One one side, EXTINCTION. On the other, EVOLUTION.20151207_holga_arizona_01-2
“Extinction vs. Evolution” ©2015 Dave Getzschman
     We see it in politically-motivated obfuscations of impending climate change. In the disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor. In denunciations of immigrants driven from their own homes by hatred, war or economic conditions. Will we rise to the challenge of embracing everyone as equal partners in this endeavor or sink into the muck of self-interest?
     I feel this personally as well. Some days, it feels too hard to evolve, to face the daily reality of my hierarchy of needs while maintaining a belief that any of this matters. Some days, I think, “Baby steps, I can do this, evolution takes time,” and some days I think, “Go to Walmart. Get a gun. Put it in your mouth and point north.” In part, that’s why I’m writing – in the process of convincing you that this stuff matters, I’ll also be working to remind myself.
     The bottom line (and I’m borrowing this from a recent lecture by Kadampa Buddhist monk Gen Kelsang Rigpa): in the Venn diagram representing where our daily needs and deeds overlap with those of our pets, we MUST begin to show more evidence of our cognitive capacity as human beings.
     The views represented here are my own. AND those of my employer. As a self-employed professional for the last 11 years, I’ve enjoyed liberties that my friends with full-time jobs have not. I’ve gotten to travel, explore other cultures, and meet people whose standards are much different than mine as a privileged white, adult, Protestant, male American.
     Maybe more importantly, I’ve had the luxury of time to explore the constructs of reality through the lens of a camera, the wisdom of Western and Eastern religion and philosophy, and the deep end of my own consciousness. What I’ve learned has affected me profoundly, and I think I have a responsibility to share. The time is NOW.
     So here goes. STAY TUNED. Please SHARE this and consider publishing your own personal stories of evolution because, as my yogi sister Shira Barlas says, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
© 2016 Dave Getzschman Feel free to share on social media but please ask for permission to reprint in full or in part