The Right Time for Now is Now

Example: You’re not in a relationship with anyone at the moment because the right thing to happen right now is happening right now. When the time happens that I’m in a relationship, that’s what will be right for that moment. For that moment, but who can tell what will be right in the next?

I find that things have a way about working out. It’s just the nature of life that there are good fruits to life and there are bad fruits. And unfortunately, we don’t very much like when what’s right for this moment, isn’t what we want it to be.

So whaddaya do?

For every fruit that comes, good or bad, there will be a thousand others just down the road. I already feel like I’ve experienced so much, and yet, so much awaits me. There’s so much to look forward too. It’s like you’re on a train to happiness – to whatever you want in life. You know you’ll get there, eventually, so you can be free to enjoy the sights you see out the window at the moment. Ooh, what’s that? You see yourself suffering outside the window? Well yeah, it happens, and I’m sure there’s a good philosophical reason why that’s alright, but I don’t think it actually matters. I mean, try not to suffer Tim – if that’s your thing – if that’s what you want to do. But again, you’ve just got to be real. “Here I am, suffering.” Or: “Here I am, happy because I realize this thing that seems to make sense about how things are.”

Or whatever. Say it. And laugh. And love. Because really that’s all you’ve got, Tim. That’s all, really. Just fill yourself with love, and you’ll be alright. It really is quite amazing. Because when you do let go of all the buts and the shoulds, and you just let yourself love – that’s all there is. That’s all that matters, and you can deal with anything.

The hardest part, I guess, is loving what you don’t like – loving your suffering, loving whatever or whoever you are, completely.

Right now, I do love myself. I love suffering Tim and angry Tim and happy, vibrant, loving Tim. They’re all welcome in my house.

Now, I know I’ve heard this all before, but really, you’ve got to really try to try to not try to try to not forget! 🙂 I mean, it’s really going to take some effort, if you want to have… whatever you want. Things don’t happen on their own (although they do, at the same time… funny that.). You just have to remember this simple point, and try to remember each time you forget, and slowly you’ll be “sleeping” less and less, until you get to a point where you’re happily aware that the right time for now is now – as much as you want to be. Whatever feels comfortable. Because really, you have to get some sleep. You’ can’t be in this state of mind all the time. You have to fall asleep so you can enjoy waking up. Right? I’m pretty sure you do.

Now, I recognize the inherent dilemma at this age: Because you’re so young and have yet to experience so much, how can you stay awake for very long? Temptation grabs you. But I think that that is necessary. After all, what is happening now (the temptation) is the right thing for right now. So, those parts in life can’t be all bad. And really, they aren’t at all. It’s all a part of the dance. It’s all a part of life.

January 2003

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I Am a Man Who Lives by Agreement and Understanding

Two worlds: different agreements/different understandings.

In a traditional monogamous commitment, we agree to only be intimate with the other. Because we agree to not see anyone else, we expect our partner to do the same. To break the agreement would be unfair and cause suffering because (as in all normal committed relations) we become attached to our partner, attached to them being faithful. We feel possessive (in other words: exclusive), attached love. If we have an agreement I will put my trust into the pact and uphold my word.

If we agree to love each other without making a traditional commitment, then I can just love my partner, and cultivate feelings of true (non-possessive, non-attached) love. Her dating others arouses no jealousy because I can do the same, and I want her to be happy. We’ve agreed we can date others freely, love freely, with openness and honesty, and thus, there is no bond to break. No drama. No hurt feelings. Our agreement is different, and thus, my approach and understanding towards the relationship is different. I can cultivate the spirit of true love – spiritual love – inside myself, which nurtures an understanding that allows me to see arguably the same event (her romance with another) with love and compassion, rather than betrayal and loss.

July 2006

A Life Exercise for When We’ve Been Hurt by Someone

Visualize the face of the person who’s hurt you. What do you see?

You may first see their expression in the moment of the event that they hurt you. It may be a face of anger or frustration, but keep looking at them longer and their facial expression will begin to change.

See their face in other moments. Visualize their face in moments where they have felt suffering. See her crying, perhaps, in one moment, with you holding her in your arms. See her laughing, in moments where she felt free and spontaneous. See the moments when she was doing something very ordinary, and you saw how beautiful she is. See her face when she is angry, and see how her vulnerability and suffering is masked behind her angry words and expression. See her in pain, when she sprained her foot while hiking. See her in the throes of passion and pleasure, the expression on her face at the height of orgasm. See her face anxious, worried about finding a job or getting the right grade in a class. See her face in love, looking into your eyes, looking out at the world. See her face in moments of true happiness, when she’s not even aware of it.

Visualize this person, and see the forms of emotion morph from one to the next over the transparent image of his or her face. Watch the individual images blur, quicker in space and time, gradually, until you can see all of these faces of the person at once. Until finally, all you see is the person itself.

You see her just as she is: a painful yet beautiful expression of every emotion that belongs to the human experience. Transient, striving and searching, trying to live the best she can, find happiness, find love, traveling along a long path of burning desires. She is of the same nature as your self. We are intimately related.

Then, apply this process to others in your life. Take a moment to see each person important to you in this stream of events. Widen your circle farther until you see everyone in the world like this – all manifestations of the human condition, including yourself.

When I realized this, everyone became my brothers and sisters. Everyone became family.

Love Unlimited

It was amazing reading this article in New Science about polyamory. I had often questioned the necessity of restricting our love to only one person, and had shown a desire to experiment with open relationships in the past, but wasn’t aware that this philosophy had an established name, or that there was such a strong community of like-minded people all over the world. It’s just a striking feeling to read about individuals who have arrived at an almost exact understanding of an idea independently of your own. It only demonstrates the universal nature that exists within us.

It also validates my feeling and interpretation of love. Other people have discovered the spirit and potential of a loving, polyamorous philosophy, tens of thousands maybe. It’s hard to know for sure due to a lack of census data.

But by all accounts, the number of people exploring a polyamorous philosophy seems to be trending upward. I just read an article that said discussions on polyamory had found its way into German Parliament, with a member of the Green party advocating that the government “abolish all positive discrimination favoring heterosexual marriage, and to treat it equal to all other forms of living together, because social realities have changed.”

It seems that people, unencumbered by social or religious mores, show an overwhelming inclination towards diversity in relationships. It IS natural to want to love and share your life with more than one person. And it does take off all the pressure of trying to find “the one” – this idealized person who will be able to fulfill all your needs. But no person can stimulate all parts of your brain, and by enjoying the stimulation, fun, and growth of being with multiple people, you get that well-rounded sense of fulfillment, and are that much more satisfied and appreciative for each individual relationship.

I love ____ for her spontaneity and passion for outdoor activities and her love of nature. I love _____ for her deep insights into philosophy, sociology etc and challenging late night conversations. I love _____ for the way we can communicate our deepest feelings openly and honestly, in words and without words, making love, dancing, cooking delicious food – simply having fun together.

I can love all of them for who they are. Each love unique; each love equal to the rest. The manifestation is different (that is, our interactions and dynamics being with each other are different) but the quality is the same.

The beautiful gift of this openness is that it allows you to have more loving relationships, and fulfill the complete range of each persons dynamic personality and needs, and it takes a tremendous burden off the other person, because no single person has to be everything to their partner. They can be just themselves, loved for just themselves, without an expectation more.

Can one understand, appreciate the beauty of this?

Summer 2006

Society, Love and the fear of Loneliness

How many of us seek out a relationship, want to find companionship with someone because we are afraid of loneliness? How many of us think that we could be with anyone we want but are, in moments of doubt, afraid that no one will love us?

How many women fear the image of one day being old, alone, and with nine cats – being known as that “old cat lady”? However silly this notion is, the root of it is actually very important to look into. What is the cause of this fear?

The most beautiful women with the most amazing personality and intellectual curiosity, depth for learning, and interesting hobbies – this most capable and wonderful woman may truly be able to find any man or women she wants to share her life with, and still she is afraid in some moments of not being loved. She questions, doubts, asks: “What if I am a bitch? What if I am secretly unlovable, and just don’t see it?”

This is a very common fear – it is common to women and men. I think everyone in our culture shares this concern. We may have had our heart broken by someone we loved, many times perhaps. We may not feel truly loved in our present relationship, and we take all this as evidence that perhaps it is me – that I am not lovable.

But here’s the thing: it’s not about us. Our inherent lovableness or unlovableness has nothing to do with us.

I once looked into the eyes of a young women who was at the moment troubled by this fear, and all I could see was the most beautiful being – in spirit, in mind – on every level. I thought, “How could anyone not love this person?” Is there any reason, on some intrinsic level, that a healthy, sane, conscious person could not love her? And the voice inside my head responded, “There is none.” She was completely and utterly lovable just as is. Her boyfriend would love her ten times over if he had the eyes to see it. But most men and women do not have these eyes. An ordinary person might look at this same woman and see nothing remarkable about her (if in my description I have conjured in your mind the image of some idealistic beauty). No, many people might account that her beauty is very ordinary. If you were busy walking down the street you might not notice her.

And yet, a great beauty is there, for those who have the eyes to see it, for those whose eyes and hearts have not been so wounded by the deep malaise of our society.

It may be difficult to see this, I am not sure. Our society has been so deeply wounded by the insensitivity and brutality of our modern life. It has many wounds, accumulated through centuries of war and conflict. We have built so many walls between nations, religions, the sexes and races, even our sports teams embitter zealous conflict. All of these walls necessitate building even harder psychological walls to protect ourselves from all of this inherited cultural suffering.

And all of this, ultimately, has severely limited peoples’ capacity to love.

This is true for men and women alike. That a man or a woman does not love you says nothing about you. It says more so something great about our society. The man who cannot love his girlfriend, the woman who cannot love her boyfriend – it is a symptom of our society’s illness.

Love, I have found, is a choice of the will. Sometimes we have the sensation that “we just fall in love” or, “it just happens.” But this is usually because we are simply not aware of the complex number of subconscious decisions we are making, the preferences and social conditioning that all influence why we choose to love one person and not another. It is still a choice, even if we are led by a subconscious drive more than a conscious one.

Many times, after the passion of the “honey-moon” phase has worn off, the euphoric feelings that we experienced are no longer enough to make the relationship feel “effortless.” True love, as we come to find, is a choice of the will, and building a healthy relationship over the course of many years does take a concerted effort no matter how compatible you are. To love someone deeply for a long time, to make a commitment to one person, and to be there for them through the good and the bad, to support them and care for them even when it means you must make personal sacrifice, that is all a choice.

What is our internal experience of love, if it is not the will to take kind actions and support someone and do all of those things that we associate with a long-term committed relationship? What is the vow of marriage, if not the decision you’ve made to love the other for the rest of your life? To treat them as your own family?

When we realize it is a choice to make that kind of commitment to someone, we also realize it is a choice we make to not love others.

Usually this decision is made for good reason. The world is full of uncaring people who would jump at the chance to thoughtlessly take advantage of such a loving person and then disappear as soon as it becomes inconvenient to reciprocate or the feelings wear off. We get hurt when we love someone and we are not loved back, and so we become very careful that the people we love will not hurt us. We become cautious and do not lower our bridges to just anyone. We do this to protect ourselves. We put up walls so that we will be insulated from the possibility that our partner will betray our trust.

If we don’t love our partner as much as they love us, we will be safe, we think. It is a prisoners dilemma. Both could benefit greatly if they both chose to lovingly cooperate, and a relationship will fail completely if both betray each other and refuse to open their heart and love. But the middle way is the safest bet – coax your partner into loving you more than you love them (or secretly remain distant) so that you get all the benefit but do not risk yourself getting hurt.

It is an unfortunate emotional game that we play, most likely subconsciously. This tactic is simply a culturally-conditioned defense mechanism that we have adapted so that we can survive in a society that is so scarce on love and support. If real emotional intimacy and connection was in abundance in our society, we would not need to guard the love that we have to give so carefully. If people did not have so many karmic wounds that perpetuate the cycle of getting hurt and subsequently passing on that hurt on to future relationships, we would not need to put up so many walls to protect us. We would not need “six months” to a year to love someone. We wouldn’t even need a few weeks to open our heart to someone. We could bring them into our inner world and consider them the same as family in very little time.

We could become capable of loving someone instantly. Just as I looked into the eyes of this person mentioned before, there would be nothing to keep me from caring for her. There would be no need for a culturally conditioned wall to be put up that says, “You’re a stranger, I don’t know you. You’re just a friend. I’ve only known you a couple weeks.” None of that matters.

There they are. Right there in front of you. A complete manifestation of everything that is common to you and the whole of humanity. Your dreams, desires, loneliness, suffering, hopes, fears, passions, striving – all are within her. All are within you and everyone you see in every moment.

The capacity to love is right there when you’re looking into his eyes, into her eyes.

We’ve all been in shitty relationships that have more than likely conditioned our personality in negative ways, and so we all walk around with these wounds of the heart, but everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves love. The cycle has got to stop at some point.

The cycle of hurting others because you’ve been hurt by others – it’s a cycle that constantly perpetuates itself. But someone’s got to incur the last blow and just let it go – start afresh and love as if you’ve never had your heart broken.

And until everyone in the world has read Teachings On Love, we can’t expect that person to be the other. It’s got to start with us.

Love Journey

You meet them, you get to know them, you date them, you learn about them. You have sex with them. Finally, you love them. You live with them. You marry them. You have kids with them. You grow old with them. Is this, the love journey? Is it the only one?

I think usually when two people are getting to know each other they are very careful about what they say and do. They are careful to not share too much or give too much. This is what the ego does to protect us. It puts up barriers and walls that keep us from becoming attached or involved, so we don’t give too much of ourselves away. We do not want to let ourselves go, for fear of being hurt. We do not want to suffer, and when we let down some of these walls, we open ourselves to suffering – we become vulnerable.

That is why (especially after being in the game for a while) we become very careful and cautious as to whom we lower our bridges. I understand this. People’s natural inclination is to hold back. They do not want to let themselves get too close too soon. This is the way it goes. After a while, you get to know the person better (knowledge wise) and so you feel that now, you may be able to trust them, and you can begin to open your heart.

And yet, when deciding who we can lower our bridges with, I do not believe that knowledge is as important as the vibrational sense you can get from a person. When you are totally present to someone, you can feel their energy, their presence and demeanor. You can sense the quality of their intentions and desires and where they’re at completely in that moment, all from looking into their eyes and their overall expression. It is why most people tend to avoid eye contact in socially awkward situations. The eyes reveal too much!

In any case, I think people may sense this quality in me, that I am not afraid to lower my defenses immediately. I think some people find this dangerous, but I do not. I know that by lowering my bridge to you I may attach myself, or I may be hurt or suffer, but this does not bother me so much. It is okay to suffer. If suffering is looked at as an opportunity to challenge oneself and grow, in many ways it can be a good thing. A very good thing.

But the main reason I do this, the main reason why I feel that this is worthwhile, is that, although ego defenses may protect us from suffering, they also keep us from experiencing real, True, love. For when you do let those walls fall away, you open your heart to love, and the love just pours in.

It is true that a great deal of trust is needed in this situation. And in many instances, I have put my trust into people who ultimately did hurt me. But in all of those cases, I have learned and have grown from the experience. Every time, I learn a little more and become a little wiser. It is finding that balance, that is the key – to let go of those ego defenses and separating emotions (thus allowing myself to experience this quality of love and unity with beings) but to do this without becoming attached to my desire or the person or anything; to act, and to love, but without expecting anything from it – to do each act, solely for the act itself.

This is the love journey: To let my heart open to all things, and include it all in my heart. To realize that we are all one being, we all suffer and all live a life on this earth. To realize that there is nothing different, nothing separating you from I. To completely love and accept “myself” – Tim Hjersted; and then, to realize the nature of the universe, that is, my true self, and thus love all things. That is the journey.

It reminds me of something I said to you one day ago, that is, “When I don’t know who I am, I love you. When I know who I am, you and I are one, and there is just the quality and feeling of love. No self. No other. Just the universe, looking back at itself.” In realizing this, my arms will reach out to the world, farther and farther until my heart includes everything, and there will be no sense of a you and I. There will just be I, just US. And in this space, WE ARE THE LOVE. And that’s it, that’s all there is, nothing but the unity of love that is everything.

Spring 2001

Attachment in Non-Attachment

”Hold on tightly. Let go lightly.”

Love the world. Hold it closely. Hug fiercely with all your might (love), and like a good hug, let go lightly, gently, letting the world go.

In each breath, this is our life. Enlightenment is not something to achieve. It is everyday practice. It is not a juncture to reach. It is a sincerity, an understanding and compassion – each day. Enlightenment is not enrapture and ecstasy on the mountaintop. It is our everyday mind. It is the ordinary way.

June 2006

Dreaming of a Buy-Nothing Christmas

It’s kind of ironic that for several years being an atheist I still celebrated Christmas reflexively because that’s what I’d always done. The last several years I’ve been gradually winding down my participation. I still love to gather with family and friends, but each year I buy less. This year I have come the whole way – a total Buy Nothing Christmas. I haven’t bought a thing.

I also decided that, instead, I’m going to start celebrating the Winter Solstice and other sun, earth, and universe related happenings. Instead of paying homage to the birthday of a  debatable mythological figure that likely has it’s roots based in astrology, why not celebrate the real thing?

Connecting with the natural rhythms of life, the winter for me is a time to meditate on the fact that food and life doesn’t come from the supermarket. It comes from the sun. The sun is the life-bearing force of this galaxy. Nothing would exist that we know today without the sun. The seasons, the crops, the plants, the animals, the evolution of a brilliant diversity of species of living beings – it’s all tied to the near infinitely predictable rising and setting of the sun each day. Ancient culture’s understood the importance of the sun, and they viewed the sun, the earth, and all life on the planet as sacred, the same way many cultures today believe in invisible angels and gods as sacred.

Coming from a mystic Sufi background, I’ve studied many religions and spiritual paths, and have come to see how so many of them share many beliefs in common. The teachings of Buddha and Jesus run parallel. They often say the same thing, but using different words to speak to different cultures and audiences. The story and mythology of Jesus is heavily based on Pagan beliefs and values, making this new religious paradigm more accessible to the people of the time. This, for me, speaks to the common truth that can be found in all religions. When you strip away the anecdotes and parables and koans that give texture to these teachings, the core principles of how to live a compassionate life are virtually the same. But this also speaks to how philosophical principles are taught and spread amongst culture of vastly different time periods.

The worshiping of the sun is perhaps one of Homo Sapien’s oldest spiritual beliefs and cultural rituals. Over time, these beliefs (often taught through stories) are reinterpreted and recast for changing times and peoples. Jesus Christ is a perfect example. The whole story of Christmas and the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus into heaven can be understood entirely as a parable that personifies  the Winter Solstice and the original worshiping of the Sun.

It seems kind of bewildering how the religions of the last 10,000 years have come to believe so wholeheartedly in belief systems centered around invisible godly beings and other dimensions beyond this life, while at the same time they have become utterly divorced from respect and appreciation for the natural world. Unlike god, heaven and hell, which we cannot see and which have no tangible influence on our lives beyond our imaginations and surrounding culture, the physical world actually exists. The sun, plants, water, and animals of this galaxy actually exist, affect our lives – give us life! But we pay virtually no respect to this fact. There is no holiday to mark the occasion.

We fill our time with man made objects, man made cities and houses and cars and TVs and little boxes we shuttle back and forth from in between work, school, and play. We find value in these anthropocentric artifacts. But nature – the sky, the sea, the wind, the soil, the seeds that are fertilized each year that miraculously give us life and sustenance – these things we do not relate to.

We relate to Christ, we relate to heaven and other worlds. We relate to American Idol. But we see no relation to nature. We do not see ourselves in the eyes of a bear, or the bees, or a bird, or a dolphin. We simply do not see the connection.

This is reflected in our economic system. It is reflected in our entertainment, our movies, our religions, our school and government and business institutions. It is a paradigm lived and breathed worldwide, a fundamental worldview so ambient and pervasive it is almost universally invisible. Nature is not us, it is apart from us. We are it’s masters. And for the new hippy-mystic generation, we are it’s stewards.

But we aren’t nature itself.

This, this I think, has to change.

A new paradigm is possible. Reinterpreting our relationship to the universe is the inflection point where it all flips inside out, and a whole new perspective unfolds.

It’s 6am on this quiet winter morning. I suppose I’ll have to follow this train of thought on a future night.

Until then, cheers! and Merry Solstice!

December 25, 2008

A Flashing into Existence…

I had this feeling recently that brought a very comforting, peaceful state of mind. I had this vision of myself and these flashes of past experiences would come up. I thought about Lois and I thought about Jackie. Then I thought about my friends and my mother.

I saw them and felt acutely the sensation that they didn’t exist, but only for a moment.

Like I’d be looking out at the world through these eyes of mine and Id see a flash of Lois, a memory of Lois and I, or maybe Jackie, or someone I’d met at a party, and then just as soon as they came they were gone again and another image appeared. Like phantoms or mirages, these people didn’t exist. They were just sights to see as the train moves steadily forward.

When I felt this, a calming presence came over me, because all of these things and people were just these flowing forms in the river, and one form never stayed longer than another, but continually flowed anew. Even the forms themselves were changing. And then I thought, if these people are not real, then neither am I.

I too, am a phantom of life, a flash of light in the long streaming river of life. Taking this sense farther, I tried to imagine this picture as I would see it from someone else’s perspective, seeing myself as just a flashing into existence and then disappearing, and on and on and on.

Finally I saw the world from this light, as just a flashing into existence. Just as it is now: unfathomable, infinite, constantly changing yet always the same. And I was a part of it.

Mmm, fine thoughts Tim… fine thoughts indeed….

Act Without Expectations

It’s interesting how our attachments to people grow over time. I remember the first few times I hung out with Claire. I was enjoying my time with her, without expectations of the future, without preconceived notions, and I felt completely detached – in love and in harmony with the experience – but not attached to it. I remember thinking, “I could say goodbye to her tomorrow (if I needed to) and be completely content.” Loving her completely in that moment is enough.

When one lives spontaneously, acting without expectation, each moment burns itself completely in the present moment – like a good bon fire, leaving no residue. It is funny, then, that as our position in time moves away from these enjoyable events, we begin to think about them, crystallizing the past into memory, taking it out of the context of the moment. Without even noticing immediately, we begin to get some feelings of attachment in us.

Anything that we grow to like we want more of. Every time we have a great time with someone today we want to see them again tomorrow, and inevitably we want to hold on to these positive experiences as long as we can. When we do this, though, it is almost as if we create some residue in our present life. We want to recreate the experience through new experiences with the same conditions. We want to be with this person again, to share and to love. We want to be human, in some manor of speaking. These feelings are quite natural.

So how do we let go of the past and burn ever-new fires, always content with the wood and conditions at hand? How do we forget and still remember the past? How do we love in the present without becoming attached to the future?

I still don’t have an answer. But when I asked myself this, the only thought that came to my mind was two lines from the Tao Te Ching:

Act without expectations.

Know the tools but keep to the block.”

Summer 2006

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