T.S. Eliot, the great 20th century poet, once wrote that we "ought to be explorers... we must be still and still moving / into another intensity / for a further union, a deeper communion." Indeed our life is a journey of continual discovery, an ever-reaching toward further union and deeper communion. There comes a time in our life when we are no longer content to settle for satisfactions in a worid too small. We seek the larger life, a more spiritual and integrated way of being in this life. Some of us travel around the globe only to come to discover that the real transcendent fulfillment is always right where we are; we come to realize that Cosmic Awareness and spiritual realization exist deep within ourselves. We are that which we have been seeking; the place of peace and harmony is within. We don't have to struggle to find our way. We can let go and let our way be revealed to each of us from within ourselves. As we come to relax, let go and trust our lives, inner meaning and fulfillment are ours. 


A famous conductor was holding a rehearsal. Though the first violinist was playing with flawless excellence, the conductor couldn't help noticing an obviously pained expression on the violinist's face. The conductor became so distracted by the silent anguish of the violinist that he stopped the orchestra in the middle of the piece. "Am I disturbing you?" he asked the violinist. "No," said the violinist. "Is it the other musicians?" "Oh, no," said the violinist. "Are you ill?" "No." "Has a tragedy occurred in your family?" "No." "Is the auditorium too stuffy or too hot or too cold?" "No." "Well," asked the exasperated conductor, "what is wrong?" The violinist wrung his hands together, and in a tone of deep despair he said, "You see, I hate music." Sometimes we have to go to the absolute core of a situation in order to discover the Truth— never stop your inquiry into Truth until the Truth reveals Itself to you. 


A businessman once said to a sage, "I take one thing and make it into two." The sage replied, "I take two things and make of them one." It's easy to divide life up into a multiplicity. Sometimes it's more difficult to recognize the inherent oneness of all things. One means: no sense of separation. Once my cat was chasing a dragonfly; the dragonfly happened to land on my arm, and it so blended in with the hair on my arm that the cat couldn't see it, and, after a while, the cat wandered away, seemingly puzzled and disappointed. Whenever we have felt a sense of oneness and rapport in this life, the fear and anxiety that was chasing us wanders away. Oneness dissolves pain and hurt and frustration. When we are a part of a larger whole, there is always a feeling of expansiveness; we are connected to the allness of this life—therefore exciting possibilities are available to us. Since we share ourselves with the whole of this life, the whole of this life can also share itself with us. 


A connoisseur of antiques happened to be walking by a grocery store when he noticed a cat lapping milk from a saucer by the front door. With a shock, he realized that the saucer was an expensive antique. He walked into the store, deciding to bargain for the saucer. In order to allay the suspicions of the store owner, the antique collector said, "That's a very cute cat I saw outside. How much do you want for him?" "$20.00," the owner promptly responded. "$20.00 is a lot for a cat, but, OK, I'll take him," the collector said handing over the money. And, as an afterthought, he added, "By the way, the cat seems so attached to that old saucer— how much for that?" "Nothing doing," said the grocery store owner. "That's my lucky saucer. Why I've sold 35 cats this month from that saucer." It's always the simple, straight way that leads us forward. Go for what you want with integrity, not what you hope to get through expediency. 


What does it mean to have a visionary heart? It means to see things that haven't yet come into being. We can ask ourselves: which way are we looking— backwards or forwards? When we are looking backwards, we reflect on "the good old days," how good things were back then. When faced with a new situation, we ask: how did we handle it before? Yet, as we all know, doing things in the old way does not insure success in the present and may bring failure in the future. Someone once said that the last words of a dying business are: "We've always done it this way." When we are looking forward, we are open to see new solutions, new possibilities, new ways of approaching our situation. We release the old solutions as having served in their time, but we want fresh ideas, innovative insights that will come from the unborn, unconditioned places within ourselves and will revolutionize our way of being in business, our way of relating to the world and to ourselves. 


Wittgenstein, a 20th century philosopher, once said, "The solution of the problem of life is seen in the banishing of the problem. Is not this the reason why those who have found after a long period of doubt that the sense of life became clear have then been unable to say what constituted that sense?" Indeed, there seems to be an invisible presence in our lives which sustains and supports each of us. And when we come to discover the meaning and purpose and reason for our being in this life, it is as if some invisible something deep within us has guided us to our individual solution. Even though we spend much time struggling and straining to find life's answer, it is when we finally come to a point of surrender, of letting go, that we feel ourselves inwardly supported, sustained and nourished. 


A young man once went to a Zen Master and said, "If I study really hard, how long will it take for me to get enlightened?" The Zen Master replied, "Ten years." "What if I study even harder, night and day?" "If you study that hard, it will take 20 years." "What if I go without sleep and food, do everything you tell me and work even harder?" "If you work that hard," the Zen Master replied, "it will take 30 years." The young man protested, "How come every time I tell you how much harder I will work, you tell me it will take that much longer?" The Zen Master replied, "If you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye open to receive the gift." Indeed, each day is constantly trying to give us its gift— if we are too obsessed with our goals and our plans, we may miss the gift life is giving each of us at this very moment. We don't have to miss the gift of fulfillment because we are so anxious about the outcome. We can realize and accept our Good this moment and just let it be. 


J. Krishnamurti once asked a spiritual aspirant, "Where are you anchored, sir?" The seeker had no ready reply to the question. This is a question we might ask ourselves: where are we anchored right now? If our focus is on external things in the outer world, we may find that we become easily unsettled by the comings and goings, ups and downs, of everyday life. Job, family, finances, relationships all tend to fluctuate; people and situations shift and change— he who is for us today may not be tomorrow. This is why we, as human beings, have always sought a calm center within ourselves in the midst of all the changes of life. This center we discover within the depths of our own being we can call a peace anchor, a place of inner stability and focus we can always turn to, regardless of outer conditions or circumstances. This center of peace, harmony and order gives us the clarity and courage to move easily through our life circumstances with calm gentleness and quiet integrity. 


Sometimes we open an envelope and we receive a happy surprise— a friend we haven't heard from has written, or we receive an unexpected financial windfall or we receive some other good news. If we hadn't opened the envelope, if we had just tossed it away, we would never know the good that we had missed. Too often in our life, peace is like an envelope we never open. Peace isn't something far away or difficult to obtain. Right this moment, we can drop whatever may be bothering us. We can open our hearts to peace; simply let ourselves be at peace— no struggle, no strain, no trying— just let ourselves be at peace now. No need to force or make anything happen— just be at peace for this little while. It's surprising how simply deciding to be at peace helps us see clearly what to do next and how to do it. Each day we can decide to open our peace envelope and let things work out well for us. 


What do we give our attention to in this life? Is there anything that is so totally absorbing to us that we cannot be distracted— no matter what is happening? One-pointed attention is the capacity to stay completely focused on whatever is right before us. There is a story about a speaker who was a student of Zen and who was giving a talk at a conference in Tokyo. In mid-sentence, the speaker was interrupted by an earthquake; everyone fled the room except the speaker. When everyone returned after the earthquake, the speaker calmly completed his interrupted sentence and finished his talk. Each of us can develop the ability to stay focused on that which is before us to do. As we become clear and centered in doing our daily tasks with full and complete attention, we discover more energy and enthusiasm for all the details of life. 


What is a visionary? It is a person who brings forth something previously unknown, unthought of into our world. There are writers, artists, poets, philosophers and certainly great religious leaders who have been visionaries— who brought from the uncreated realm something new to humanity. In the twentieth century, we think of giants like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa or Picasso or James Joyce. But there are others who have made significant contributions to the well-being of humanity during this century who were also visionaries in their own way. Thomas Edison had over a thousand failures before his first successful lightbulb. It's said that he threw each failed lightbulb out of the window of his second story house, and eventually he had a two-story pyramid of failed bulbs. Someone asked Edison, "How could you continue after a thousand failures?" Edison replied, "They weren't failures— they were just tries that didn't work until, finally, one try did work." May each of us have the perseverance of Edison to bring forth our vision into this world. 


When we are trying to change things by being more restrictive, we may instead need to open up to a larger way of seeing. When we try to break a habit or change a behavior pattern, at first we may try to simply repress our impulses or cravings. But, eventually, we come to realize that the way to change behavior is not through simple repression but by discovering a greater meaning and purpose in our lives. The greater the sense of meaning and purpose, the less are we controlled by habits and compulsions. We simply no longer have the time or the interest for indulging in distracting pursuits— our sense of purpose is too clear and the need for direct action too immediate for us to waste precious moments with worn out habit patterns. Find your real purpose in this life and watch your habits and compulsions melt away as if they never were. 


A giant computer suddenly quit working, and everything in the office came to a standstill. After some delay, a technician arrived to repair the machine. The technician asked the office manager, "What's the trouble?" She replied, "The mainframe is working; the terminals are all on; everything seems to be hooked up." "So what's the problem?" The technician asked. "When they type on the keyboards, nothing shows up on the screen— nothing happens." The technician nodded and smiled. He walked around the mainframe for a few seconds. Then he yelled, "Got it!" He reached to the back of the console of the mainframe and gave it one tap. The keyboard operators yelled, "It's working!" The manager said in utter relief, "You're a genius. How much do we owe you?" "$600.00," said the technician. "What! For thirty seconds work? I won't pay a cent without an itemized statement!" hollered the office manger. The technician calmly wrote, "Tapping the computer console— $20.00. Knowing where to tap— $580.00." Within us is the exact knowledge we need to make our life work. 


Sometimes successful politicians or entertainers or sports figures complain that they go through a traumatic experience when people suddenly relate to them differently, as if they had suddenly become a figure of awe and wonderment. A politician once said that, after he won an election, he was still the same person he had always been, but that now people treated him with such deference and respect that it made him uncomfortable. When we are thrown into a role in this life that gives us a certain image in the eyes of people, it's helpful to remember that people are merely relating to our role, and we don't need to take things too personally. In the military, when an enlisted person salutes an officer, it is always clear that the salute is for the insignia of rank of the officer and not for his or her personality. There is nothing personal in the salute; so there is no need for the officer to be either puffed up or deflated by the custom. So, too, when we are in positions in which people acknowledge our role or image, we can be graceful and easy-going about what we do in life, without taking it too personally. 


Archimedes, the Greek philosopher, said that he could move the whole earth if only he had a point from which to leverage it. Each of us needs a point of leverage from which we can mobilize all of our resources, inner and outer, so that we can move our world forward. When we decide to become centered on a clear point of focus for ourselves, we begin to experience a new feeling of energy, excitement and enthusiasm for our lives. People and situations begin to come into alignment with our new intentions. A momentum begins to build within us that is finally outpictured in our outer life as a new state of well-being. Let's decide right now to clarify our purpose and let that clarity propel each of us forward into a new life. 


There is an old legend about Bodhidharma, the great spiritual master who is said to have brought Chan or Zen Buddhism from India to China. The story is that Bodhidharma spent seven years meditating on a wall in a cave before he spread the new Zen teachings throughout China. Some friends from Albuquerque went to China recently. Knowing the legend, they went on a pilgrimage to Bodhidharma's shrine. When they got to the shrine, they asked the attendant, "Where's the wall?" The attendant answered in true Zen fashion, "The wall is everywhere." Sometimes we think that we can get off track or out of synch with our true life path. But just as with Bodhidharma's wall, our path is everywhere. We can't miss what is the right way for us in this life. Sometimes we obsess because we think we've missed our chance. But our Way is always right here beckoning to each of us in this moment. 


Sometimes our demand for a black or white answer from the universe is met with gray. Often we find ourselves struggling and frustrated because we don't receive a clear signal about what is happening or what will happen. We want to know and we want to know that we know. Yet life is much more like a rose which unfolds its petals from within outwardly in a multifoliate way than a chess match of logical sequences with a clear-cut winner and loser. There are times when we simply can't know— no matter how hard we try— the outcome of a situation. When we come to realize this, we can relax, let go of our need to know and simply let ourselves enjoy the process of living with ambiguity. 


A successful business executive once said that the primary way you can tell if your business life has really changed is if the way you spend your time changes radically. In other words, if we still are spending our time the way we were, say, two or three years ago, our business or job probably hasn't changed very much. As with our business, so with our life. If we want a real change in our life, we probably will have to make some conscious decisions in the way we are spending our time. Time is our only resource for change. We change ourselves through time. We may need to be more selective and creative in our use of our allotted days and hours. A British writer named Charles Williams, while busily raising a family, working at a full-time day job and lecturing in the evenings, managed to write over 100 books and articles throughout his life. Whenever he had a spare moment, he would jot down an idea or a sentence for a book or essay on a little yellow notepad he always carried with him. Over the years, these spare moments were turned into over 100 literary and philosophical works. 


Integrity relates to the whole person. When we feel truly integrated deep inside of ourselves, outer forces and structures in the world do not seem so awesome or powerful. Integrity gives us strength of character to stand alone if need be. Albert Camus defines maturity as the willingness to be wrong all by yourself. Indeed, sometimes, in the eyes of the world, we seem to be making a mistake. People say to us, "You're not going to make it, my friend— you just can't possibly get to where you want to go to." Or, "You'll just have to settle for less." Or, "You'll just have to do it the way we say you should." It's interesting how so many times and in so many ways people with great integrity in life, like Gandhi or Mother Teresa, inspire us with their unwillingness to bend their principles for the sake of expediency. Integrity means to stand firmly by our deepest inner convictions regardless of outer criticism. It is the integrated individual who lives a full life on this earth. 


We tend to think that when we have enough money, then we'll be free. But freedom seems to be much more a state of mind than a condition of our bank account. Granted, we need money to live. Someone said, "There's a certain Buddhist calm that comes from having money in the bank." But perhaps real freedom and real prosperity come when we are no longer afraid of money— neither afraid of having money nor of not having money. When we realize that as long as we are worried— whether we have money or not— we are not free, perhaps we can begin to make freedom, not money, our goal in life. And we find the freer we are both inside and outside of ourselves, the less is money an issue.