My Final Post Here

Posted: June 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

Since I am no longer living on the streets of Seattle, this will likely be my last post here. I have some ideas for what I want to do next in terms of blogging about my continuing spiritual journey, but it will take me a few more days to set everything up the way that I want to. Finishing my book is still my main priority. On top of that I’m working to make new contacts and connections here in Florida, and deciding how to best continue the work I started in Seattle.

Before I go though, I want to thank everyone who helped see me through the past few months – pretty much since I moved to the U-District in November, and after I chose to become homeless at the end of March. This includes my family; my ex-wife Sarah and my ex- girlfriend Vicki; the wonderful folks living on the ave: William, Charlie, Gustavo, Gregg, and dozens of others; the folks at The University Book Store, SureShot Cafe, Solstice Cafe, Starbucks, the Campus Market, American Apparel, and a few of the other places I used to frequent or sit in front of; the Bahai community from the museum, including Zabine, Milton, Bob, and many others; Rev Rich from the University Temple Methodist Church, and the many kind and generous people I met there… The list goes on and on.

I also want to thank every single person who accepted my invitation to come and talk about the nature of enlightenment. It is my hope that you got as much from it as I did because what I received from you was an amazing education in love, compassion, patience, listening, and sharing. The nature of the spiritual journey is not an easy one – but within our efforts to support one another, as members of an informal community, is the opportunity for us all to learn and grow, and to deepen within our own understanding of the self… looking beyond the self, and into our shared nature as aspects of a greater self – the One Self that is the essence of consciousness, the presence of love, the mind of God, and so much more – it is everything that is, and everything that is beyond what is. As I always remind people – we are all moments of synchronicity for one another – and you were all very important moments for me.

What I found on the streets of Seattle was an amazing sense of camaraderie that I have not experienced since leaving the military. What is truly amazing is that those who have so little would give so much. It was never about money, or about what anyone had in terms of the material things; it was about time, knowledge, and love – people sharing their time with one another, imparting knowledge to one another, and loving one another even when things got difficult. Yes, the streets are filled with drama and the love that arises is often hard won and temporary, but that is the life – what matters is when those moments arise, because it is by embracing them that we begin to experience what life could be like without the drama and the difficulties that we invite in, or that are thrust upon us.

No one should have to be homeless! While my journey led me to a place of deep spiritual acceptance of what is – the terrible beauty of the universe in its entirety, I am still working within my compassionate heart to figure out how to be an agent of change, a paladin of light, within the great darkness of our age. Homelessness is just one small part of a much larger problem – but it is not small to those experiencing it. It is their life – and it is not an easy one. Every human being is entitled to a safe place to sleep at night, protection from the elements, potable water to drink, healthy food to eat, a free place to use the restroom, access to healthcare, access to the Internet, access to education, and the opportunity to pursue their passions and in doing so, make a contribution to their communities. NO ONE SHOULD BE HOMELESS! And yet the homeless population in America continues to rise as the income inequaility spread continues to increase. There will be more and more people living on the streets, struggling to exist, not less…

I still call upon every person that reads this to wake up to the truth of our oneness – to know that how you treat the person in front of you requires you to look at that person as yourself. We are ALL the same person experiencing our own versions of this reality – all aspects of the same consciousness seeing through different sets of eyes. You are the person in front of you – you are the dog, the mouse, the tree, the flower, the sun, the stars – you are everything, and within that realization you are also nothing. You are the vessel through which awareness is experienced, through which consciousness is revealed in its highest form; but you are a temporary expression – here for but a short while, meant to experience life, progress your soul, and return to the source with your lessons when you fall away. While you are here, it is of the highest importance that you learn to see things as they are, live in the present moment, and nudge the moment in the direction of love and kindness whenever the opportunity arises; love and kindness for yourself, for all other beings, and for the earth.

You are worthy of love, so learn to love and trust yourself and to honor your own journey. You exist here, now, in this moment, so learn to practice mindfulness and meditation. You are subject to the confusion of your conditioned mind, so let go of your conditioning by learning to face and release your pain. The universe is guiding each and every one of us on our journey, so pay attention to synchronicity. And whenever we think we are done learning, we are standing in a trap – so always be wary of your traps so that you can move through them as quickly as possible. Let go of your concept of self and surrender to the will of God – seek to enjoy your experience of living, but within the framework of ‘enough’. Live a simple, humble, joyous life of gratitude for all that you are and all that you have. Walk with wisdom, and bring compassion to all situations where love meets difficulty. There are so many more things to add here – so much more to share – just be present. Slow down and be a participant in your own life and all will be made clear – rest in your own presence, your own beingness. Just be…

Until next time my friends – my love to you all…

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This is part 1 of Chapter 7 from the draft manuscript of my book ‘Just Be’. 

The most challenging part of the entire spiritual journey is keeping yourself moving in a forward direction without getting lost somewhere along the way; avoiding the traps. A trap is anything that locks us into a particular pattern of thinking or leaves us ‘stuck’ in a conditioned state of mind. Every time we think that we have an answer or that we’ve ‘arrived’ somewhere, we’re likely in a trap. While it’s true that even being lost in a trap is, in itself, part of the spiritual journey, the goal is to avoid them if we can, realize when we’re in one, and move through it as quickly as possible. Some traps are quite obvious, others are more subtle, and some are downright insidious. Learning to address them is an extremely profitable investment in your spiritual future – otherwise you risk getting lost along the way.

The easiest way to spot some of the more obvious traps is to simply ask yourself “does this create division?” Anything that creates a division between us and others is, by its very nature, a trap. Keep in mind that this particular trap covers a lot of ground – your religious identity, your political identity, your racial identity, all of it – everything that separates you from others is a trap. The moment that you say to yourself ‘I am this’, you separate yourself from everyone who is not that. If you are a Christian, you have created a boundary between you and anyone that isn’t a Christian. If you are a Democrat, you’ve created a boundary between you and anyone who isn’t a Democrat – and so on and so forth. Every layer of identity is a layer of conditioning and adds to the confusion of the conditioned mind.

This isn’t to say that you can’t be these things, but keep in mind that your focus, if you really want to step into this place called enlightenment, is to let go of your concept of self. Your concept of self is tied up in all of these identifiers – so you make it more difficult for yourself by staying tied into a particular aspect of self-identification. Once you’ve stepped through the eye and begun to reintegrate into the world again, you can reevaluate who you want to be and start your life anew. In the end the emphasis is no longer on things that create separation and division, but rather on those things that create unity. You begin to see yourself as a human being – or rather as a spiritual being having a human experience. You see all things for what they are and you see yourself in everyone and everything – there are no longer any boundaries.

It is important to cover religion here again in more depth. As already stated, religion can be extremely problematic on the journey toward enlightenment. Fear is extremely powerful – indeed, the fear instilled by the very thought of defying or even questioning your own creator can be overwhelming. Most religions have built in fear factors that are intended to keep you locked into a particular pattern of belief and behavior. You will either burn in hell, or find yourself taking rebirth in a lower life form, or punished in some other way. You must set this aside in order to break free – and it is not an easy thing to do in a society that is consumed with misplaced religious fervor. If you choose to be religious or practice a religion, or worship at the feet of a teacher – that’s fine. Just know that there is something deeper waiting for you – and in the meantime, be the very best representative of your faith that you can be, as a being of love.

Another interesting and more challenging trap is the very journey towards enlightenment itself. You may already have some idea of what you think enlightenment is or what it means. Most people have this idealized sense of perfect love and peace – the absolute equanimity of the perfected mind. Perhaps some people do indeed get to this place, but they have to give up everything in order to do it. All enlightenment really means is that you’ve reached a particular stage of realization within the spiritual journey that allows you to fundamentally reorient your entire perception of reality. The order in which certain realization are achieved can be variable, but in the end you will realize that everything is exactly as it should be, you can’t actually ‘fix’ anything, and the only thing you can do is continue deepening into your own experience.

Your mind becomes spacious and open, and there is distance between you and the physical and emotional content that is arising within your experience, but to suggest that you just become a mindless, uncaring zombie is untrue in every sense. You just see that every person in the world – every being in the world – the world and the universe itself, is just working out its own karma. You see that now is all that you have and all that you can offer to others. Within your own personal field of now you create spaciousness for others to be who they are – all while you breathe through the experience with steady patience and ask God what you are meant to learn from this particular interaction or challenge. You don’t get wrapped up in the drama or the narrative – and even if you do, you see yourself doing it. It is clear seeing that opens your eyes and helps you create this space – and then it’s all about practice.

The enlightened ego is another, more insidious trap that many people can get lost in for a while – sometimes their entire lives. When you awaken, you are flooded with love, wisdom, and power that are not yours – or rather, you are overwhelmed by the realization of who it is that you truly are when you see it for yourself for the first time. You may get the sense that you are one with everything, or even ‘the one’. You may sense that you are now Jesus or the Buddha – a new savior born into the world to rescue the world from itself. This is the senses being overwhelmed. Keep in mind that there is only one source – the conscious awareness of God, which is the container for all existence. It’s easy for the ego to see this and then run with it, forgetting that this truth applies to all human beings. We all have the capacity to realize ourselves to the level of depth that Jesus and the Buddha did, or perhaps even deeper.

Your ego may also grab hold of each new realization and yell ‘now I’m enlightened’. Believing that you are enlightened is, in its own way, its own trap. So long as you still believe that this means something, you have not yet fully realized what enlightenment is. Think about it in terms of the earlier traps of division identified above. If you think of yourself as an enlightened being – thinking that it means something, then you are creating a line of division between yourself and everyone who is ‘not enlightened’ – and then enlightened to what level? Enlightenment isn’t a thing; it’s about degrees of realization. When the truth of enlightenment really settles in, the terrible beauty of it all, you may even feel like you want to give it back. At this point you’ll find that it’s just easier to focus on reintegration and using your reintegration work as the next stage of your journey.   ‘Enlightenment’ ceases to matter.

Continued from part I…

I decided to work backwards instead of forwards though. I figure – if I’m creating a roadmap for my life, then it should include a destination – where do I want to be when this life comes to an end? And from that point, working backwards, what steps might I take in this life to get me there?

Death (2058+, 85+): Die peacefully as an old man surrounded by loving, spiritual beings. A beautiful and natural death – amidst trees, rivers, and mountains; not a clinical space filled with machines.

Old Age (2053+, 80+): A humble guide who is immersed in selfless love and divine wisdom, willing to do whatever I can to help others find the truth for themselves, even as my own body begins to fail me.

Golden Years (2029+, 56+): Purchase a beautiful piece of land in Washington or Alaska, or some other northwestern territory where there are trees, rivers, and mountains – a few acres. Add several small houses (100sq feet) around the property as private retreat spaces for reading and meditation. Build a main house where bathrooms, showers, and meals are made available; and include an indoor meeting hall for use during inclement weather. One or two outdoor pavilions would also be added for yoga and outdoor group meditation. Reserve a portion of the property for people with tents and RVs to come and stay. Have several garden areas for food production, pathways for meditative walks in nature, rivers for sitting or swimming, etc. I also want to place a large telescope on the property – let us observe the beauty of the universe that God created for us. Within this space I would simply create spaciousness for others. An open place to explore the nature of spirituality and find liberation.

Earning the Money (2024-2034, 51-61): Combination of services from multiple disciplines, books, etc. Includes establishing a foundation in order to purchase the property and building materials outlined above. Primary discipline would be as a mental health counselor, emerging consciousness counselor, spiritual crisis counselor, etc. Teaching classes, offering lectures and workshops, etc. Writing books, articles, blogs. All while being conscientious of the nature of money and its dangers. Some things would be paid, some would be donation based, and some would be free. It’s all about altering my orientation toward money in a way that aligns with right livelihood and always helping those in need no matter what their financial situation looks like. But getting to this place requires certain credentials and those credentials require a certain education.

Educational Pursuits (2018-2024, 45-51): PHD in Psychology – probably a transpersonal discipline that is in tune with my own awakened experiences and understanding of things as they truly are. MA in clinical, counseling, or transpersonal psychology. Overall this is a five to six year period of intense educational development, all as a full time student – with some related writing and volunteer work on the side. Expenses would include all tuition and book costs (about $60,000 total) and living expenses. I’d probably just buy a camper (below) to live in and be very very frugal for the entire time. Assuming another $15,000 per year that’s another $90,000. That’s about $150,000 cash needed in order to take six years off to pursue my formal education.

Travel and Learning (2017-2018, 44-45): I also want to plug in one full year dedicated to traveling and studying with other enlightened beings. There are so many different approaches to awakening and so many different stories of enlightenment – I want to dig in for my own deepening, but also so that I can be a better guide to others, not just relying on my own experiences, but also on the experiences shared with me by others. I’d buy a camper of some sort so that’s probably around $20,000 for something well suited to my goals. I’d also want to make sure I have a large enough travel budget to cover plane tickets, accommodations, fees and donations, etc. I would expect about half of this to take place here at home, and the other half to be abroad, studying in places like India. Altogether, an appropriate travel budget of about $100,000 would be appropriate (this includes the camper).

Earning the Money (2015-2017, 42-44): Now we get into the current time period. This is where I need to start over again. If I know that I need $250,000 cash in order to make my dreams happen, and that another $50,000 of cushion would be wise, and that I intend to donate %10 of everything I make to charity, and I realize that the government is going to want about %40 of everything I make, then I need to earn about $450,000 to make all of this happen. Ouch – $450,000. That’s a rather sizable chunk of money. With that in mind I may rethink some of my expenses and budgeting, and rework the numbers a bit – but ultimately there is no way of avoiding the need for money if I want to make things happen. I may be able to take this back down to about $300,000 and then supplement along the way in various places – maybe working while in school, etc. How will I earn $300,000 (or so)? While I am still working out the details with my family – I am hoping that they will allow me to move to Florida and take up pseudo residence there. I say pseudo residence because I would plan to spend the next two years traveling and working. I would be picking my business back up again as an information security consultant that does indeed have an earning potential of anywhere between $125,000 and $250,000 per year depending on how much I work and how much I charge. I would devote myself to picking up as much work as possible – preferring to earn everything within a year, but willing to take two years to earn as much as possible. The end of year two would be my cap – whatever I have in the bank after two years is what I would use to finance my endeavors. But if I earn enough before the end of year two, then I’d get started on the larger path sooner.

This is a pretty detailed layout of the things I’d like to achieve, when I’d like to do them, how much it will cost, etc. And everything could change tomorrow. While having this plan gives me a sense of comfort and offers me a direction to turn my life in, it isn’t something that I am attached to.

Even the particulars could change – but as of right now, I want to set up a retreat center within the next 20 years. I’ve asked myself how to do it in a manner that is consistent with the way our society works today. This is now my path – until God changes it that is. I am open to whatever may come.

This is another part of planning – and why conscious planning is necessary. When you make a conscious plan, you realize that you are just setting up a series of intentionalities, all of which are flexible and fluid. This is a guide – a roadmap, but the trip could change at any time – and I’d be okay with that.

All I really care about is honoring God and moving my life in the direction of love and kindness – for myself, for others, and for the earth. Right now this feels like the best way to do it in accordance with what is doable within society. And so – there you have it – my plan going forward.

The man I was a year ago, the man I was 8 months ago, the man I was 6 months ago, the man I was 4 months ago, the man I was 2 months ago, the man I was yesterday.  The man I am today – just as temporary, shifting, and ephemeral as everything else…  You can see it in my story and in my writing – I’m growing up  😉

I always tell people that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. And yet, here I am planning.

Planning itself is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, conscious planning around major life decisions, or around things that will be very impactful to you or others, is an important part of staying in balance with the world. The problem is unconscious planning.

Unconscious planning is the chaotic maelstrom of thought about the future that runs through our minds on a regular basis, calling up complex, multi-layered ‘what if’ scenarios from every possible direction; many times repeating the same patterns over and over again.

Conscious planning is about stepping out of life for a while, asking yourself some important questions, and then using your intuition to answer them. It is controlled chaos. No, you cannot predict the future, but you can outline a path to follow – something to help keep you moving forward.

You just cannot be attached to your plans. Even conscious planning is going to be riddled with errors; mistakes will be made. But even those errors and mistakes are a part of life – they are meant to teach us things about ourselves along the way. In truth, there is no such thing as an error or mistake.

Setting that mind-numbing fact aside though, we need to think broadly in terms of what it is that we wish to accomplish, consider everything within a specific context, acknowledge that nothing works out quite the way we expect it to, and remain open to variations in the plan as needed.

For my own part this article is tied to my future plans. Having reached a point within my journey where I acknowledge that all I can do is continue to work on myself, and create spaciousness within my experience to help others explore their own selves, I’m rebooting my life – again.

When I set out to live a homeless life, I thought I was following in the footsteps of Jesus and the Buddha because I was supposed to take up the mantle of these two figures. I was lost within the enlightened ego, thinking that I had some divine mission – as ‘the one’; to save the world.

It’s easy to get lost in a place like this when you have no teacher – and so it was a part of my journey. It resulted in giving up my apartment, selling my possessions, and spending two months sleeping on the streets – but I wouldn’t trade it for anything – the experience was necessary.

When you open your consciousness up as much as I did, as rapidly as I did, and as deeply as I did, it can consume you. Yes, I’ve been guided by the hand of God on my journey – led by synchronicities that are undeniably real, but they are also equally challenging to contend with, sometimes hard to read.

Awakening brings you into the presence of oneness. You can call it consciousness, the universe, God, Allah, or the Cookie Monster for all I care. These are all labels used to try and describe the indescribable – that it is the underlying essence of all things, the source of all things, this is its presence.

Stepping into oneness is an overwhelming sensation – you are converted into a living God. I use this phrasing very carefully though – because you are NOT God. It’s just that this experience, the rushing sensation of complete unity, it makes you FEEL like you are God – like you are the presence.

And therein lies an aspect of duality – on one hand you are the presence and on the other you aren’t. So you are God and you are not. You are not God, but rather you are an aspect of his radiance. Think of God like being the sun, and you are a ray of light shining outward into the universe.

When you see this connection for yourself, you think you are the sun. You may even begin to think that you are the son. As in my case, this is the enlightened ego – and it requires more guidance from God to let this go. For me, it took God teaching me what failure truly looks like – and how to fail with grace.

Perhaps you have a teacher that helps you avoid some of these types of traps – and all I can say is amen to you and to your teacher. I’ve been awakened for 8 months now and this journey has been a roller-coaster ride – God guides me, but it is not an easy path – indeed this is the hard road.

So now I am asking myself what my life can be now that I’ve stripped away the layer of identity that says ‘you are here to save the world’. I can’t save the world – all I can do is save myself and help those who want to be helped as they cross my path – all of us being synchronicities for one another.

Continued in part II…

About seven and a half months ago I experienced a very real spiritual awakening. Two months ago I became homeless on purpose. What a roller coaster ride my life has been – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’ve learned so much about myself, about others, and about God. It’s been the most challenging, but amazing experience of my life.

Yesterday I was speaking with a woman who works as an emergency room sociologist. We were having a lovely conversation about spiritual matters over at the Baha’i museum. When we began talking about my experiences with alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill while living on the streets, I told her “imagine if your patients could visit you in your living room day or night”.

Don’t get me wrong – I truly do love everyone I come into contact with. I work very diligently to keep my heart open to them and embrace them with compassion and understanding. It does not matter who they are or how confused they may be. But I’ve gotten to a point in my journey now where the primary lesson pertaining to my homelessness has now been absorbed – I can’t help anyone but myself.

When I moved into my apartment back in November, I’d pretty much started going out and spending time with the homeless right away. I began to learn who people were, gave them food, clothing, blankets, gear, etc. I spent my nights sitting with them and listening to their stories – just being there, just being present with them. I learned so much.  I thought this was just the beginning.

When I set out to become homeless, there I was with this wonderful thought ‘I’m going to save these people!’ I honestly thought that I’d be able to round people up, teach them meditation, lead large homeless meditation groups, enlighten everyone, establish a collective community that took in unused food and picked up trash throughout the neighborhood. My fantasy was quite elaborate.

I’ve been honest and transparent throughout my journey, so there’s no point in holding back on why I thought this. I was suffering from an enlightened ego, or a messiah complex. Trying to explain why this occurred, or how it reinforced itself would be difficult. Synchronicity kept pointing me in the direction of a divine mission. However, life kept telling me the truth of things.

After two months on the streets, what I know now is that I cannot help anyone that does not want to be helped, and – sadly, most people do not want to be helped. Over the past week or so I’ve finally gotten myself to a place of acceptance. I’ve learned to accept that the world is exactly as it is supposed to be and that I’m not here to do anything or save anyone – I’m here to just be.

All I can do is work on me; continuing to challenge myself and deepening into my experience ever further. In doing so I am creating spaciousness around myself and within myself that can be used to hold others in a compassionate soul embrace. But this is a one-on-one or small group dynamic, in person. I cannot enfold the world in my embrace – I can only influence what is in my field of now.

Even then, it is up to each person to decide for themselves if they have the will to press into themselves in a manner similar to what I went through – and what so many other awakened beings have been through when it was their suffering that jettisoned them into the sphere of greater conscious awareness. I can point in the direction of the journey and describe what to expect, but that’s it.

I tend to talk to about 3 to 5 people each day. Some of these conversations are very in depth and some are very high level – some people have come back again several times. Only a small handful have actually taken what I say to heart – for the most part the rest just continue to intellectualize everything, or use some of what I share as a rationalization for bad behavior.

Then there are the people that are drunk, high, insane, or all three at once. There’s the overwhelming drama of street life. The constant threat of theft and violence. I’d say that individually none of this bothers me – in fact I just breathe my way through most of it without issue. But after two months of this, I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer handle the combined weight of it all.

It’s lovely to engage for hours with a deeply aware human being about their journey as I help them step through things that were still confusing to them – and I watch as their eyes light up and they get clarity in terms of the direction they want to move in next. But for every one of them there’s also one person who is completely life draining to engage with.

Again, as one offs this is no big deal, but as a whole, continually, day to day? As I told the ER socialist “imagine if your patients could visit you in your living room day or night”. And when they come to seek me out? It gets even more challenging. Through it all I simply breathe and keep my heart open to them, taking it all in and doing the best that I can guide them toward their own spiritual journeys.

But after two months of this it’s become clear to me that all I can do is be present in my own life. There’s no need for me to continue to subject myself to this life. As I said, I thought I was saving the world – as it turns out, the world was saving me. By surrendering myself to the homeless life I opened myself up to a level of growth that was incredible. Within it, I’ve learned true acceptance.

With this in mind, I’m beginning to restructure things in a way that will take me off the street and into a new chapter of my journey. I am not sure what I will do next, but I think it will include an effort to reintegrate into my profession and work to earn a living again. I may save up and go back to school some more, or travel, or – anything really. I just know that it’s time to get off the streets.

I’ll tell you again though – choosing to become homeless for two months has taught me life lessons that I could never have imagined – or encountered – or learned, any other way. As much as the street has been challenging, it has also be a profoundly eye-opening experience and taught me so much about what compassion really is, what it really means, and how to hold onto it amidst the darkness.

I now accept the darkness for what it is – it’s supposed to be there. It’s for them. I had my darkness. I carried it with me for most of my life. They are still carrying theirs. But my karmic journey is one filled with many blessings. In fact I realize now that my entire life has been blessed – even within the darkness. Whatever I did in my past lives to earn these blessings – who knows.

So as I look forward to this next chapter I will be reaching out in multiple directions to figure out how to live an authentic life filled with love, compassion, wisdom, honesty, integrity, and hard work – with every moment of my life dedicated to the glory of God. Whatever is next, I am open to it and I welcome what ever new lessons will arise from it.

If there’s anything you can take away from this and use within your own journey – it’s to never let fear prevent you from moving forward. Not fear of the darkness, or difficulty, or making mistakes. Just do what feels right on your heart, trying always to move in the direction of love and kindness for yourself, for others, and for the world. Do this and you can’t go wrong. It starts with loving yourself though 😉

For those of you who are interested in discovering who it is that you truly are, here is a basic exercise to play with.

As with all such things, your mileage may vary. Different methods work in different ways for different people. This particular method is aligned with the school of self-enquiry, which digs deeply into the concept of ‘I am’ with diligent questioning and concentrated awareness.

Take out a sheet of paper and number it from 1 to 10. Now ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ and begin providing an answer on each one of the 10 numbered lines. Keep your focus on a specific aspect of your identity – simple, honest answers will work the best. You aren’t writing a biography, you are just asking some basic questions about yourself.

For instance, if I were to do a list that expressed who I thought I was prior to my awakening, my list might look something like this:

Who am I ?
1. I am Brad
2. I am a man
3. I am white
4. I am educated
5. I am a security consultant
6. I am an atheist
7. I am a progressive liberal
8. I am angry a lot
9. I am depressed a lot
10. I am selfish

Once you have your list, take a good hard look at it. Are you these things? Let’s step through the list.

1. [I am Brad]. No, I am not Brad. My name is Brad. My name is a label, an identifier that was bestowed upon me by my parents. It does not say anything at all about who I am, it is just what people call me in order to get my attention. There are many people in the world named Brad and we are all different people. I am not my name.

2. [I am a man]. No, my body is a male body. The incarnation that holds my essence came into this world with a particular set of genitals that we identify as ‘male’. But to say that I am a man is to open up a series of questions regarding ‘what is a man’ within the construction of this society – for instance, men must be strong, cannot cry, are the dominant sex, etc. To identify myself as a man is to lose myself in the narrative of what it means to be male, and what it means to not be male. I am not my sex.

3. [I am white]. No, my skin color is of a light complexion. The incarnation that holds my essence came into this world with a particular skin tone that we identify as ‘white’. But to say that I am white is to open up a series of questions regarding what being white means within this society. It then creates separation from all those that are not white. Suddenly we are caught up in racial identification and racial biases. To identify myself as white is to lose myself in the narrative of what it means to be white, and what it means to not be white. I am not my skin color.

4. [I am educated]. No, I have participated in certain educational activities. The concept of education is subjective, relative, and contextual. I know certain things through study, through training, through experience, through inference, and so on. A degree is just a piece of paper saying you’ve completed a particular course of study. None of these things makes me educated. If I think of myself as educated now I put myself on a continuum of more educated and less educated, and I judge myself according to this scale. I also judge others according to this scale. My education is just a part of my conditioning. I am not my education.

5. [I am a security consultant]. No, I have chosen to earn my living engaging in activities related to a particular professional discipline within the field of information technology that we call ‘security’. I’ve decided to do it from an outside perspective as a consultant. This is how I earn money, nothing more and nothing less. By making my career choice an aspect of my identification, I am also dividing the world into those who do what I do – those who do it better, those who do it worse; those who don’t do what I do; and those who do nothing at all. Now I am biased in multiple directions, letting my ego reign. I am not my job.

6. [I am an atheist]. No, I just want to understand why I am here and I’m confused by the myriad of conflicting answers. I studied religion and science, along with a number of other subjects to try and get a better understanding of things. No matter how many things I explored with my intellect, I could not find any answers that appealed to my rational mind, so I gave up on the idea of God entirely. No matter what I believed at certain times, I was creating division between myself and anyone who believed something differently. And of course others were more than happy to tell me how wrong I was for not agreeing with them. I am not my beliefs.

7. [I am a progressive liberal]. No, I am a human being who wants to see other human beings treated like human beings. As a society we have divided ourselves into multiple political, philosophical, and economic groups that align with a particular set of beliefs or doctrines. In each case we look at our group as being right and all other groups as being wrong. Everyone thinks their answer is the best answer for society and since none of us can agree all we do is argue over opposing points of view. No one is right and no one is wrong, every group is just the sum of its views and the conditioning of its members. I am not my views.

8. [I am angry a lot]. No, I experience the emotion of anger on a frequent basis because I do not understand the nature or anger. Anger is nothing more than a state of mind that arises when one cannot accept things as they are. It is a sense of self-righteousness or selfishness or me’ness that is used to justify and rationalize inappropriate responses to situations that I am not in control of. To say that I am angry a lot creates its own layer of conditioned identity – it becomes its own relational for my anger – I am angry a lot, so anger is normal for me. I am not my mind states, so I am not angry.

9. [I am depressed a lot]. No, I experience the emotion of depression on a frequent basis because I do not understand the nature of depression. Depression is nothing more than a state of mind that arises when one cannot accept things as they are. It is a sense of ‘poor me’ that allows me to wallow in sad self-pity because I am unable to orient myself in the direction of accepting things as they are. To say that I am depressed a lot creates its own layer of conditioned identity – it becomes its own relational for my depression – I am depressed a lot, so depression is normal for me. I am not my mind states, so I am not depressed.

10. [I am selfish]. No, I engage in selfish acts because I do not understand the nature of my connection to others. I am so wrapped up in my concept of me and how important I think I am that I forget there are other people in the world who are just like me. We are all human beings; all struggling to do our best in the world, but my ego wants to elevate me over everyone else, as if it has all the answers.  To say that I am selfish creates its own layer of conditioned identity – it becomes its own relational for my selfishness – I am selfish a lot, so selfishness is normal for me. I am not my acts, so I am not selfish.

In each case we are able to deconstruct the ‘I am’ thought and look more deeply at the nature of our identity, beliefs, and actions. One could argue that we are the sum total of all of these things, but if that were true then we would need a longer list, because this list is only a partial list of the identifiers that we’d need to keep track of in order to come up with a complete picture of who the ‘self’ is.

By the time we were done putting the list together we’d have to start all over again, because it would be hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of data points long; and by the time we finished it, we would have changed on a number of levels, needing to go back and update our current understanding for each particular data point. This is the essence of the problem in and of itself.

We are not our conditioned patterns of thinking, no matter what those patterns of thinking may be or how strongly we may identify ourselves with them. You are not your name, your job, your religion, your political view, your opinions, your emotional states, etc. All of this is manifested within the ego – the constructed self. It is the sum total of all of your conditioning that brings about the I am that is not.

So look deeply, with honesty and intensity – with full awareness. Pay attention to your thoughts and look for the ‘I am’ that exists within them. Look at how they govern your perception of yourself and look at how your perceptions govern your orientation to the world around you. Dig and dig and dig, until you arrive at the truth. There is no you in there – not really. You are just the awareness.

You are the awareness of a set of physical and mental states associated with the body you have manifested in. The body has a lot going on – and these physical and mental states can be very distracting. It’s easy to get caught up in them, and lost in them. But this is the entire nature of the spiritual journey. To see these things for what they are and become the awareness; to just be.

I’ve posted four new videos to YouTube, all relating to topics that I’ve been deepening into over the course of the past couple of weeks.
https://homelessontheave.com/videos/

The first one has to do with an extended view of mindfulness. It takes a more practical approach toward embedding ourselves in the ‘field of now’; letting things arise and fall away without getting caught up in them. The goal is to give people something they can really work with.

The next one has to do with the nature of religion and love, loving God, and being grounded in love in all things. It gets into the nitty gritty of what it means to sacrifice and surrender to do God’s work. It also covers some of the more trying and rewarding aspects of my own journey.

Then I did one on a number of aspects of the spiritual journey. Things that you can expect on the spiritual path as you awaken and move past the awakened experience. This one is about deepening into the enlightened mind and enlightened living in the world.

Last is a video that goes into the nature of synchronicity. We are all moments of synchronicity for one another – which this video explains, but it goes much deeper into what synchronicity really is, which offers some startling realizations in terms of what it means to be here now, in the world.

It is my hope to continue to add more videos like these.  As I deepen further and further into my experience things are becoming clearer and clearer within the spaciousness of my being. I will continue to share everything as I move through it – and what I learn as I achieve new levels of realization.