Hello Again… Who am I?


I’m Jeremy. Not Chad. But who is Jeremy?

A name? A story?

A collection of experiences stored up behind a single utterance to which I have learned to respond to?

An idea – an example among a seemingly infinite set of examples for how one human being can live a life?

If I am any of those, than how does that make me any different from you?

Are we not all simply boats sailing across the ocean?

Steering this way or that, going wherever the winds blow us, are we ever really in control?

For in order to define who we are, we need something concrete. We need a story. A physical description. A list of relationships. Words. Are these not the things that we use to understand who a person is? And thereby, to understand ourselves?

And yet, if we think of a boat, no one would ever think to define a boat by the path of ripples it has left in the ocean behind it. We see the boat, and that’s just it. We see a boat. It has it’s unique features, nicks and dings, holes and all. It simply… is.

So let us be, as the boat on the ocean. Guided by the winds of time. Winds that have been all around the world – to places we have yet to dream into existence. They brush through our lives, altering it in imperceptible ways. Imperceptible. So, if we cannot perceive the forces that guide our lives, then it only makes sense to let go of the need to steer the boat. For that way, without any expectations, wherever we end up – wherever we are – will truly be a blessing.

Sail away, my friends.

Where is the Thinker?

Where is the thinker of your thoughts? If you go about searching for an answer you are presented with a bit of a problem. You may think, “Where is the thinker? Well I’m the thinker. So wait… Where am I? Well… I’m sitting here. No, that’s my body. Where is the owner of my body? Well, it maybe it’s in my head somewhere.” Following this path of thinking to its end leads to Nowhere. And yet, the beautifully paradoxical truth is, that is exactly where “you” are.

So if you are there, then where am I? Where exactly is the thinker of my thoughts? Is there some single place inside my head you can point to? Is my left eye the thinker? The right? Is it even in my brain? It is widely accepted now that certain parts of our brains perform different tasks. People with certain forms of brain damage suffer very strange affects – the loss of the ability to feel fear, the inability to detect the motion of objects, loss of the ability to speak – there are many. So when one tries to locate the “self” that is actually doing the thinking of these thoughts, it is no wonder it is nowhere to be found. “It” or “I” as we have so habitually called it, in fact, does not exist in any one particular place at all. Rather it is a collection of different thoughts happening at one time. Much the same as the way one would listen to a song. Many instruments are playing at one time but we have the ability to pick out individual instruments – the bass, the background singers, the cymbals – or we can allow ourselves to wrap them all into one and call it a song. It’s so much easier to refer to it later on. “Wow, that song is great,” is surely simpler than saying “Have you heard that wonderful compilation of bass, piano, cymbals, and guitar?”

Much the same is the way we tend to wrap up our thoughts into one “self.” And although this certainly makes it easier to refer to it later on – selfishness, myself, herself, yourself – this ease carries with it a subtle, hidden danger. When we habituate to this way of thinking we often lose sight of the individual instruments at play. We forget how astonishingly complex and amazing our minds are. Without such awe we cannot see how truly amazing each and every single living being on this planet is. Each being their own breath-takingly well orchestrated symphony of pure life force.

Please, take a moment to ask your self, “where is the thinker of these thoughts?” See where it leads. Follow the path deep into the forest of meditation. May you find there beauty, peace, and love.

Mediate to Meditate

Meditation bears many similarities to its sister in sound mediation. Mediation is the act of applying effort to balance two sides, usually of an argument. So as a mediator, your role is to listen to both sides’ arguments intently, take them in, and help to resolve any conflicts and, better yet, to unite the two sides on some common ground.

Well in meditation, our role is very similar. We have two sides. One is the thinking machine- the talker in the mind – the TV that rarely shuts off. The other side of this “argument” is the silent present mind – the listener – the unplugged TV. So when we sit down to meditate, it is the role of mediator that we take on.

Traditionally, it is taught that the goal of meditation is to clear the mind of thoughts. When one embraces this as their goal, however, it inadvertently labels thoughts as failures. These failures carry with them a lifetime of conditioning and as a result, one can easily begin to associate meditation with failure and therefore pain. However, if you embrace the role of mediator, then you see that your goal is actually to be fair to both sides. That is to say that you choose to view the talker and the listener as equals, all the while with the intent of helping them to find some common ground. That common ground is always here and now. Presence.

Thoughts About Meditation

Imagine a room in which there are boxes scattered around. Some are big and some are small. Some are open and some are closed. In each of these boxes is a loose stack of papers. Some thick and some thin. On each of these papers there is something written. Some papers are full of neatly scratched paragraphs while still others look like spider webs of lines. Thoughts scribbled here and there, some connecting, some not.

Now there you sit, in the center of the room. Everything in the room around you feels very familiar. Perhaps, this is because you have been in this room most of your life. Fiddling about here and there, thinking this, saying that. And over the years, all of those thoughts have been collected in boxes. Boxes which of course are scattered about the room. “How long has it been since I’ve been outside of this room?” you ask yourself, scribbling on the notepad in front of you.

Then that reminds you that there is a window, right next to the door, through which you rarely seem to go. It’s always there and, of course, that’s where light always come through, but it seems you’ve forgotten what’s outside. Then, you see outside that room there is infinite, beautiful thoughtless clarity. Outside that room exists all the answers. In fact, out there, since there are no questions, there is no need for answers. Outside that room there is pure and perfect perfection. Outside that room, exists everything and nothing at once. So why stay cooped up with your thoughts when there is such a vast beautiful world outside of them?

Looking at Life from Above

There is a line on a paper sitting in front of you. You can clearly see both ends of the line; the starting point and end. As you move in closer you can see that the line is actually made up of a sequence of dots, ever so close together. These dots seem to multiple the closer you get to the line. As you lean down and move your face all the way until your nose brushes up against the paper, you begin to see the details between the dots. It is only from this close up that you can see the thin line that is actually connecting these tightly knit dots. You squint a bit and it all becomes clear. There in between one of the seemingly random dots on the line you find yourself peering into the life of a person, reading something on a screen in front of them. As their eyes move across the page from left to right, right to left, it occurs to you that this thing you are seeing is the Moment. It is all there ever is or has been. It is both the past and the future happening at once. It has contained both good and bad at the same time, hate and love on the same wavelength, and happiness and sadness in the same breath. And yet how is it it took until now to realize this? Were you always going to realize this right now? Or did this event somehow exist separately from the only Thing that has ever existed. Well that can’t be.. no. Perhaps it can be said simply: In this Moment you found a way to look at life from above and see that life is both a string of individual moments and one continuous line at the same time. Paradoxical to say the least, and well, breathtakingly beautiful to say the most, life is Now.

Nothing is Just One Thing

Today is such a good day.

This guy is an idiot.

What an exciting book!

On a daily basis we are surrounded by thoughts and conversations that are centered around this very human instinct to define things as one or the other – this or that. In fact, even our eyes are naturally attracted to things that are clearly defined. If you look at a photograph right now, most likely your eyes will naturally gravitate toward the point of highest contrast first – that is to say where the densest dark meets the brightest light.

And so isn’t it interesting that on such a basic level we individuals do this and yet, in the very same way, we as societies do it too. This religion is wrong and mine is right. That country is the enemy and this one is good. Those people there are weird and I’m not. Why is this tendency so pervasive in our human experience?

Well, there could be many reasons but it seems to me that there is one driving force. Without defining something, we can’t understand it. We can’t lock it away in a mental box to be saved for later. We can’t “File” “Save” it to be opened at our convenience. And therefore it becomes a source of fear for us. That which we don’t understand has always been a source of fear. Ghosts, aliens, conspiracies, burglars… anything that is unpredictable stimulates a fear response within us. And, since fear is painful, we spend most of our mental energy labeling things, defining them, so we can reduce the fear and live with a sense of control – a feeling that we have control over the world around us.

But THAT RIGHT THERE, is the biggest problem of all. We spend all this time and energy seeking control and in the end, we really don’t have any control at all. It is possible… not likely… but possible that you could be struck by lighting while reading this right now. And that possibility tosses the idea of control out the window. It renders all of our efforts to gain control in vein. And this leads us back to the concept of duality and the fact that nothing is just one thing.

Even that statement, “nothing is just one thing” can be interpreted in multiple ways. One way; no single thing is just one thing – even an apple is also a fruit and a red sphere and food and a seed-house and… The other way to look at it, however, is; the concept of nothing is, in itself, the only thing that can be considered one thing. Therefore, every single thing, concept, word, idea, person, car, material, and star is, in fact, many things. So, in order to avoid walking down the path of seeking control, and therefore endless doubt and fear, when we say things like, “Today is a good day” or “That man is a jerk,” being aware that today and that man are actually many other things all at once, can free us from the constraints of definition. Carrying with us the understanding that Nothing is just One thing can light the path of darkness and in doing so lead us in the direction of Light.

From the Eyes of a Petal of the Flower

Its first days of light came all at once. With rays of heat and light blazing down, it thought, “What is this sensation? Before all I knew was cold and dark, and now, there is this whole new side of things!”

As time went on, it grew taller and wider. Each day taking in as much sunlight as it could and each night, laying to rest. Yet after some time like this, it started to feel like everyday was the same. Every night the same. Every day the same. An endless cycle of absorbing sun and then waiting for it. The waiting… that was the worst part. Occasionally, while waiting for the sun to rise, it would see a bird fly by. As it gazed upward, one day, upon two crows chasing one another across the sky, it realized how limited its small life was. It could not leave the ground, no matter what. It was destined to stay right there, in that very spot, until it ceased to exist.
And it was at the occurrence of this thought that things began to change for the petal of the Flower. “Well if I can’t fly then what good am I? Flying seems like the greatest experience possible! Free to explore, disappear, reappear, and who knows? But I guess… what good is it to think this way, if that’s Impossible. I might as well make do with what I have… a life stuck to this earth.”
A few days and a few nights went by and the petal of the Flower couldn’t stop thinking about Flying. “My life is so slow compared to what a life of Flying could be. Why can’t I live such a life? Was I really meant to be this way?” A few moments of utter and complete silence fell upon the petal like the darkness after a sunset. “I am meant to be this way… If I were any other thing, I wouldn’t be a flower. But a flower is what I am so it’s what I am supposed to be!!! Everything has always been as it was supposed to be!” Suddenly, something deep within the petal seemed to surge outward. At first, it was strange because the petal never realized there was power inside it – everything it had ever seen was outside of it, so how could it have known to look inside?
Just then, a sudden and rare rain came crashing down. Drop after drop glanced off the petal, tossing it about. Then a strong gust of wind blew by, pushing the petal far away from the exact point in space it had stayed its whole life. As it rocked back and forth, recovering from the gust of Wind, it realized something very peculiar. So peculiar in fact that it had never once thought of it before. It was so strange because it was so simple – too simple to even consider. “I have a root. I am connected to the Flower! I’m not just one petal fluttered about in the wind. I am a Flower! A beautiful living being!”
The days following this peculiar thought were different than any before. Although each day came and went, the same as the last, the fact that it was a part of something so precious, so wonderful, balanced the moments of emptiness and wondering. From then on, it lived simply ever after.
petal of the flower

There is a Space between these words

As you read these words, from left to right on the page before you, rather than pay attention to these words themselves, pay attention to the space between them. If you describe that space as a color, I’m sure you could say that it appears as white (or whatever color the screen you’re reading this on is). If instead you chose to explain it as not black, that would be acceptable too. In another way, you could say that that space is empty – as opposed to full of words. Or perhaps you could even say that that space is just space. But after all, what is space anyway?

We have space in which astronauts travel, radio signals are sent, planets exist and stars are born. Then of course there’s the space between two plates on a table or between two people just before they hug,. Isn’t it strange that that space between the plates, people and planets is really – the exact same “thing.” In the same way that a river connects to the ocean, or the air that brushes your cheeks has once blown all around the world, the space between each of us now and  between the stars is really one thing.

So why is it that when we look at the world around us, we don’t notice it at all? Of course, we know that it is there, but it usually doesn’t seem like something worth talking about or even thinking about because really… there’s nothing to say? “Space is there,” probably isn’t a very common way of starting a conversation, let alone something memorable. On the other hand, what does get said? The weather, opinions, stories… What does get remembered? Experiences, thoughts, feelings… All these things can be strung together with the thread of reality. We talk about, remember, and pay attention to things that are “real.” Things we can prove by seeing or touching or asking someone else are usually labeled  real. So by our very nature, we are inclined toward things that are real, and therefore not inclined towards things that are unreal – like Space, for instance.

We can’t touch it or even really prove that its there. The only reason we know it is there is because of the belief that “there is space between things.” The very definition of the word implies that there are other things present. So how can it be possible for us to pay more attention to Space – to have a conversation about Space – or to even accurately describe Space to another person in a way that they understand? More important than what we believe about Space, in this case, is what is true about it. And the only thing that is true, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that it is… it exists. So if our entire waking lives are naturally inclined toward things that are real, then if we don’t deliberately take time to honor the Unreal things, we will most certainly drift more and more toward them – like a loose ship floating away from the harbor. One could, however, choose to spend time, each day dedicated to the Unreal things around them. And today, how about, the   Space     between     these   words.

God is Impossible

Where to start… That’s always the problem with these kind of things. And by that I mean things that we as humans don’t understand. Imagine how a tribal chief 6,000 years ago felt when he looked up at the stars. Completely awe-struck, mind quiet, eyes wide, ears open… immensely clear. Then imagine how he would have tried to describe that feeling to his tribe, with the limited words of their native tribal language. Possibly he would even feel so inspired as to create a new word for what he felt and saw in that moment, looking up at the sky. Let’s imagine that word he made up was “shreey.” He would have looked to his people and said “Tribe! Wonderful experience. Listen. See up, open ears, breathe deeply, quiet mind… this is ‘shreey.’ Now try!” Inspired by their tribe leader, they would go out into the open moonlit prairie, just as they had seen their Chief do, look up, listen, breathe, and do their best to quiet their mind. Some may come back to the Chief and say, “Shreey. Understand.” To which, the Chief would be pleased. But there would be others who didn’t think “shreey” was a word fitting to their experience. Of those others, most may just tell the Chief, “Understand. Yes. Shreey,” even though they didn’t, just because they did not want to displease the Chief. But what if one of those others, who didn’t really understand “shreey” decided that it was better to be honest, and tell the Chief, “Don’t understand. Not ‘shreey’ but something else.” Perhaps the Chief may be displeased, and upon seeing his reaction, other tribal members would look at the disagreer as an outcast. This Outcast would very likely, in some way or another, suffer greatly simply for being honest and truthful. Is this right? Is this wrong?

With this in mind, let’s take a step in a different direction for a moment. Remember the last time you stood beside a river, watching it flow by. Do you remember how you felt in that moment? Did it ever occur to you that the river before you, which you could very well see with your own eyes, was actually impossible? Consider this, that river is both in front of you and everywhere else, at the same time. It is in the mountain tops near by and in the nearest ocean. More than that, it is there in front of you, as it is, but by the time you can even think about it, it has changed. Therefore, it is not what it was when you first saw it and decided to have a thought about it. In fact, it is constantly changing. So is that to say that this river you are remembering is no longer there? Is it now a different river than the one you are remembering? You see, the complexity here comes not from the nature of the river itself, but from the one who is viewing it. The very fact that you, a human being, must give it a word so that you can have a thought about it, is the real impossibility. Possibilities only exist because man has the ability to think about them and give them a word. What is a possibility to a duck, a rock, a river… A river is timeless. It is both here and there at the same time. It is in the ocean, the sky and your mind, all at once. It continues to flow, regardless of what the viewer thinks of it.

And such is God– this timeless, endless, wonderfully infinite being. So how can we humans, with our eyes and minds, capture all of that in one, easily passed along utterance? Well, as we have done with river and many other thoughts, we can give it a word. It just so happens that in English, that word is God. In Hindi it is Brahma. In Arabic it is Alah. And I’m sure you have heard of more. The greatest illusion of all, however, is that any one of those is more correct in pointing to the infinite than any other. Like the tribe mentioned above, who is more correct, the Chief or the Outcast? The whole point of what the Chief was trying to do was to communicate that overwhelming calm, that intense peace, that timeless moment. And yet, sheerly because he made up a word, from his own mind, the Outcast was somehow, automatically assumed to not have experienced the very same timeless moment. But what if he did? Need it be the same word to mean the same thing? Need we all be so focused on what to call Him and therefore lose focus of what He is. God is impossible to understand. Possibility is a man made concept, and God is not. He is the background to which all other concepts are allowed to exist. He is the river that is in twelve places at once. He is the Universe, the Sky, the Rock, and the Sound. He is You and I. And yet, at the same time He is not any of those things. Because after all, those are just things that man has made up, possibilities. And God is impossible. 

god is impossible

The Moth and Me

Occasionally the subways here in Korea capture some riders that don’t belong. In this particular case it happened to be a moth. Fluttering around, gravitating toward the lights, and occasionally bumping into the human passengers, it became clear very quickly that the moth was not wanted on this train. Startled human passengers swiped at him as he flew by, doing the only thing he knew how to do.  Eventually, he made his way down toward me. Understanding quite well how it feels to be an outsider in an unfamiliar place, out of sympathy I felt the need to preserve his life, for in a way he was just like me.

As he landed on the window behind me for a brief moment I cupped my hand, captured him, and placed him in a plastic baggy I had with me. Now I’m sure from his perspective, this seemed like the end – a massive swooshing sound, followed shortly after by a BOOM and darkness. Then all of a sudden, there was this invisible barrier between him and the outside world in which he was so used to being free. But how could he possibly understand the complexity of the situation he was in from his small perspective. I knew that if he flew around much longer he’d eventually be killed. Yet I only knew this because I am a human, and I understand human things. He is a moth, and so he only understands moth things.

Remembering what I know about insects and their attraction to light, I realized that he became more agitated and tried to fly away when I let light in. So instead, I decided to cup my hands around the baggy and let him rest in the darkness for the remainder of our ride together. Ten more minutes passed by until it was my time to get off the subway. I carried him with me for a short while until I found a place I deemed safe enough to let him fly again. At which point, I opened up my hands, the bag, and his world once again. For a moment he scuttled toward the entrance of the bag, then took flight, never to see me again. From his little perspective, he may never know what actually happened to him. He may never know that he evaded certain death on the whim of another creature, unfathomably more complex than he. For the way he sees the world is quite different the I do, and in his limited view there was nothing good about what happened to him. It may merely have seemed like a simple chain of random events, without any meaning at all. But you and I know the real story.

Now for a minute, imagine you are the moth. You flutter your way around in life, gravitating toward things you see as light (good, happy, enjoyable things). One day, unknowingly you flutter into someplace your not supposed to be. Yet, from your small perspective you can’t possible know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Without even knowing it you come inches from death, and continue on your way, fluttering around this place you don’t belong. Then, out of the blue, something terrible happens to you. Sadness and darkness surround you and it seems there’s no way out. After a while, you start to see little bits of light again but for some reason you can’t get there – there’s some invisible barrier blocking you from enjoying those things. More time passes by and suddenly, the barriers go down. As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, you are back on your way again – fluttering about, free as can be. You see, the chain of events that led to your eventual freedom were orchestrated by an unfathomably more complex and intelligent being than you or me. How could we ever understand such a thing? And yet, the better question may be, do we really need to?