What 4,300 hours of meditation has taught me
I started meditating consistently in the summer of 2001. I had just finished developing the first Microsoft Xbox, and I literally sat with my feet on my desk. I should have felt proud and satisfied…
Unleash the Buddha Within
I want you to stop pretending that you’re not enlightened. I want you to remember that you’ve been fooling yourself. You’ve been telling yourself stories about yourself that are not true. Look at…
How to Have Compassion for Narcissists
I’ve dealt with my fair share of narcissists. There seems to be quite a few of them in the world. I’ve been gaslighted, projected-onto, and generally treated like I was made of dog shit. Many people…
Meditation Is Not About Quieting the Mind
I frequently interact with people on the topic of meditation. It seems that I’ve become perceived as somewhat of an expert on this subject. This might partly be because I’ve done a ton of it myself…
I Am the Evil I See in the World
It’s 5:15 am, and I’m writing this from a sofa in an Airbnb a few hundred feet from Lake Tahoe in Nevada. Cindy is asleep in the next room. I felt cold, so I slipped on the sweater that I discarded…
What The Buddha Taught (in a nutshell)
Over 2,500 years ago, Siddhārtha Gautama was born into a rich family in India. Having noticed that suffering seemed to be pervasive, he left his opulent lifestyle in search of a solution. After…
How to End Suffering
Many people seem to think that suffering is the same thing as pain. They ask, “If I didn’t have suffering, then wouldn’t I burn my hand on something hot?” In this case, pain is a sensation that the…
What If This Is What We Really Want?
What if what we’ve been searching for has been here all along, right in front of our eyes? What if it’s been the simplicity of what is happening, no matter what seems to be happening? What if we’ve…
All Religion is Blasphemy
This has been apparent to me for many years, but for some reason I hadn’t seen it as clearly as I do now. Every religion that exists is based on the idea that there is a self that needs to do…
Enlightenment Is Not a Destination
Enlightenment is not a state, not a goal, not a way of being. Enlightenment is not something that can be attained, not something you will finally get, not something that you can have. Enlightenment…
My Struggle with Enlightenment
I think that my writing is at its best when I address, as directly as possible, what is alive in me, which includes where I struggle. My writing becomes a way of publicly reflecting on things…
My Quest to Not Exist
I remember, many years ago, learning about nirvana, the ending of the suffering self by the ending of the self. I wondered what the point of that was: nobody can be free from suffering. This was a…
What Happens When My Wife Says Woof
Many years ago, I was listening to an experienced meditation teacher counseling a student about her practice. The student complained that every time she sat to meditate an owl started to hoot outside…
I Will Never Be Enlightened
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and looked out of the door of our bedroom. As I looked, I was not able to understand what I was looking at. It was like a mirror was looking into a…
The Purpose of Life Is Not to Find Happiness
The last few mornings, I’ve been waking up feeling kind of depressed. At least, the sensations inside my body are ones that I would normally associate with “depression.” These last few mornings have…
What Gardening Has Taught Me About Life
I was sitting in my therapist’s office, telling her how much I enjoyed gardening, when she said, “Gardening seems like a spiritual practice for you.” I stopped talking and looked at her in silence as…
A Conversation with God, Part One
In December of 2001, after meditating for only thirty minutes per day, every day, for four months, I came to know what I understand to be the fundamental nature of reality. I have written a little…
Life Is Amazing, but for No One
I was having a conversation with a friend recently about “setting intentions.” I revealed that I have been increasingly losing faith in the belief that there is any free-will and choice. I tried to…
Above All Else We Must Practice Falling
Have you ever watched a child learning to walk? They stumble left and right, forward and backward. They fall over often. We notice parents standing near their children, creating guard rails with…
Time Is Not Real
Show me the past. Show me the future. The only thing that seems to be happening is the present. But without a past and future, the present is just what seems to be happening, without any context…
How Can I Know Anything Without Awareness?
A while back, a friend was attempting to persuade me that awareness is real. He told me that all the saints and sages have talked about Awareness or Consciousness as being primary. Until recently, I…
How to Turbocharge Your Meditation with Gratitude
One of the simplest and most common forms of meditation is to pay attention to the breath. To practice this meditation, you sit still, with your eyes closed, and notice the breathing process without…
Science Is Purely Subjective
Every scientific instrument that has ever been created has a common component that is usually overlooked; telescopes have this component; microscopes have this component; particle accelerators have…
Am I Enlightened?
Maybe it crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. But there is nobody for it to creep up on. How can everything creep up on itself? Okay, but there is nothing special happening. Why would everything be…
Seeing Harmony as Disharmony
There is a way of perceiving the world in which everything is whole, complete, and perfect. This is what is sometimes called the non-dual perspective, or the enlightened perspective. This way of…
There’s No Such Thing As Ego
Very early this morning, I lay in bed with the fingers of my two hands knitted together and rested high on my chest. I was having trouble sleeping, so instead I was meditating. I started to notice a…
True Selfishness is a Virtue
We talk about people with “big egos” as if big egos are really big. What we forget is that big egos are actually very small. Someone with a big ego thinks that they’re very important and special, and…
The Search Ends When You Quit Looking
Most people seem to spend most of their lives seeking fulfillment in illusory alternative circumstances. Even if it’s only subtle, or held unconsciously, there is a belief that when the home is…
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts
I tend to believe that when I’m resisting a thought, I’m resisting what the thought seems to be about. So I apparently resist the thought and then there seems to be an emotion or some kind of…
Grammarly Doesn’t Understand Me Anymore
According to Wikipedia, “Grammarly is an online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection platform developed by Grammarly, Inc.” It’s a pretty amazing tool for detecting errors in…
This Is How I Suffer
When I suffer, it is because I am not identifying with myself, apparently splitting myself in two. For example, when there is pain in my body, and I believe the thought that “I am in pain” or even “I…
A Conversation with God, Part Two
This is the continuation of an earlier conversation between two parts of myself. One part is my “normal” state of consciousness, while the other part is non-duality, what I consider to be God. To…
How I Objectify My Wife
Yesterday, I published a story called “All My Wife Needs Is Food and Cuddles” (link at the end). When I shared it on Facebook, one of my female friends, who read only the first two paragraphs…
There’s No Escape from Freedom
Last night, as I got into bed, Cindy said, “there’s something going on with my Boo Boo!” I was struggling again with reconciling what seems to be happening in my experience with what other people…
A Pointless Poem About An Apothecary
According to tradition, affording her a mission, she takes the tincture in her sphincter, after luncheon, in a dungeon. “I know it’s scary,” says the apothecary, in her mink fur and, after a demure…
The Power of Holding-On and Letting-Go
Cindy and I have been snowboarding at Lake Tahoe in Nevada. Cindy is a beginner. She had a lesson a couple of days ago, and since then has been practicing on the very-slightly-sloping beginner run…
Luckily, My Wife Married No One
I’ve been worried about waking up from the dream of self (the dream of separation). I was worried not because I need to exist, to have a purpose, or to achieve anything. It’s understandable that…
We Don’t Need Personal-Growth and Self-Improvement
When I scroll through my Facebook feed or when I get involved in any discussion about mental health, I frequently experience other people talking about “personal-growth” or “self-improvement.” There…
There Is Only Dying
I was recently having a conversation with an ultrasound technician who was checking that the vein in my shoulder is now clear of clotting after the medical crisis that happened a year ago (you can…
Life is Effortless
I’m writing this on my phone in a small cafe called Abraço in New York City. They don’t allow the use of laptops, so this is my only way of communicating with you. This morning I woke up late, at…
What It’s like to Feel Responsible for Everything
Last night, I woke up at around two a.m. and looked around. It was very clear that all that was happening was what was apparently being witnessed: everything in my field of vision plus the thoughts…
How We Limit Ourselves by Placing Gurus on Pedestals
I traveled to India, principally to sit with a renowned guru and to receive initiation from him. Every day for three weeks, I went to his concrete home in Benares, the spiritual heart of India, where…
My Boundaries Are My Responsibility
I’ve often heard people saying about others, “He needs to learn about boundaries,” meaning that he needs to learn not to overstep other people’s boundaries. To me, this seems like an inversion of the…
Flow
When pen is placed upon the page there is nobody here except a peaceful, humble sage; his Master standing near. Even in the person third, my essence you can trust will fill him up with words absurd…
It’s Not Possible to Mislead People Spiritually
I’ve been told that I’m misleading people by telling them that they don’t need to do anything to have complete freedom, that freedom is all there is, that freedom is what is happening. I’ve been told…
Liberation Is Not an Escape
We tend to believe that liberation is freedom from being human. We think that when we get enlightened, or awake, we’ll no longer have all these unpleasant experiences. In reality, there is no escape…
People Are Perfect Just the Way They Are
Yesterday, while Cindy and I were waiting in line for the ski lift, a guy with his son whizzed past in the channel that was empty and reserved for “ski and snowboard school only.” He and his son were…
My Struggle with Narcissistic Bullies
I don’t know why, but I seem to regularly get pulled into interactions with narcissistic bullies. They come into my world and they seem to try to invalidate my experience. Most recently, there’s a…
The Law of Attraction Only Works When You Don’t Need It
I was in a live conversation today on a podcast show where we were talking about setting intentions for the new year. The show seemed to go a little off-track, and some yelling happened (including…
Searching for Myself
Am I the sensation on my forearms? Am I the aching feeling in my toes as I move them? Am I the uncomfortable sensation in my stomach? Am I the tingling in my head? Am I these sensations? Am I these…
Everything is my guru (including the internet trolls)
I’ve been struggling a lot with trolls recently. They show up and try to spoil the party. They tell me that I’m pompous, or a psychopath, or unfaithful to my wife. They tell me that I should stop…
What’s Happening Is Never a Problem
What’s happening is always simply what’s happening. It’s always completely manageable. Problems don’t arise in what is happening, except as concepts about the past or the future, which are themselves…
Callipygian Swagger
She’s so much more than Mother Earth with sun and moon about her girth; a goddess in the underbrush with skin so soft and hair so lush. I’ll caress her in Orion Beta; she’ll shower me with sweet…
The Perfection of Reality
This morning, I was riding my motorcycle to work when I realized, again, how perfect everything is: the glint of the sun on the edge of my visor, the bumpiness of the road, and the cracks in the…
It’s Just Another Sunday
One of my favorite things about Cindy right now is the way she hides her smiles from me. Sometimes, when I say something sweet to her, she turns away and hides the smile. When I let her know that I…
The Freedom of Uncertainty
In the last few weeks, maybe months, everything I thought I knew has been turned on its head. Actually, it’s worse than that; it’s become clear to me that I can’t truly know anything. All the…
What Is Unconditional Love?
To the individual self, unconditional love usually means that we will be loved no matter what. We’ll be loved even when we’re sick and poor. We’ll be loved even as we become old and useless. It may…
What Are We Searching For?
Today, Cindy and I went to Costco to buy supplies for Thanksgiving. I have always been amazed at the abundance and fullness of Costco, and I have often felt irritated by the throngs of people pushing…
I Did Fuck-All This Weekend
This weekend was an anomaly, not because I did fuck-all, but because I did fuck-all with abandon. I didn’t just do fuck-all and pretend to myself that I was going to be productive; I did fuck-all…
How I Weather a Bear Market
Prices in the stock markets have been dropping recently. Last night, on Christmas Eve, there was a massive sell-off. According to NPR, this has been the worst December for stocks since 1931. My…
Could This Ancient Ritual Be an Effective Treatment for Depression?
I’m writing this in a tent, using a pen, at the Headwaters Outdoor School. The school is in the forest near the foot of Mount Shasta, a dormant volcano and the second-highest peak in the Cascade…
You Are Everything That Seems to Be Happening
Wherever you are right now, notice everything that seems to be happening: the thoughts, the feelings, the sights, the sounds. Look around and notice everything you can. Everything that you see is…
Nobody Meditates
The bed is warm and comfortable, but this body and mind cannot, will not, drift back to sleep. They have been conditioned to awaken to this schedule, and they contentedly and effortlessly comply. The…
Awareness Is an Illusion
This is a very controversial statement in any circle, spiritual or not. We all assume that awareness is real. It seems like we’re looking out of our eyes at reality. It seems that we’re aware. The…
How Five Months of Intense Meditation Changed Me
It’s been five months since I started consistently doing two hours of vipassana meditation per day. I have previously provided updates after one, two, three, and four months. Here is where I’m at…
A Brief Glimpse of Reality
About seventeen years ago, I had a series of experiences that I called spiritual. These experiences went on for years, at least six years. Some of them seemed to involve the revelation of what I…
My Strange Relationship with Yoga
I first did yoga in the late 90s. My wife-at-the-time told me about it and suggested we go together. I realized that I didn’t have appropriate shoes, so I made a point to go to the store and buy some…
There Is No Truth
If you’ve been reading my articles recently, you might think that I have found some kind of truth. That’s an illusion. What is being revealed is that there is absolutely no truth at all. How can…
Does the Body Need to Be Conditioned for Enlightenment?
There’s a story that goes around in spiritual circles that you have to spend decades meditating in order to condition your body so that it can “hold” enlightenment. It’s said that you need to open up…
What It’s like to Look When There’s No One Looking
Last night, Cindy and I drove to a friend’s birthday party on the other side of the Bay. On the drive there and on the drive back, I spent some of the time examining looking in more detail. At one…
A Short Story About Ego
Elijah Scattergood strolled along the prow of the cliff. Not only had he been afflicted with a large and bulbous nose, but he had also developed a trait of wandering barefoot in public places…
Spiritual Instruction Manual for Skynet
Everyone is all up-in-arms about general superintelligence. “Will it be good, or will it be bad?” Some folks believe that this superintelligence will be a reflection of its creators: if we are…
The Healing Power of Hot and Cold Water
Cindy and I are at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California for the long Memorial Day weekend, staying in a little caravan on this land that we had both independently loved for years before we got…
We Cannot Own Anything
We usually live our lives with the idea that we can touch things, hold things, and own things. There is some sense that we are able to acquire things, but when we take a close look, real ownership…
Even the Arguments Are Perfect
After eating dinner, I sat on the sofa. Cindy was in the kitchen and she said, “Someone didn’t wash the dishes!” in a way that suggested that I should have washed them. “I’m fine! I just wish you…
I Have No Location
Recently, as part of trying to figure out what’s going on with me, I had a phone call with a woman named Lisa Cairns in France. Lisa is someone who talks about non-duality. I was saying to her that I…
A Short Story About Awareness
Elijah Scattergood sat quietly in the corner of the pub. Not only was he afflicted with a seventeenth-century name, but he was also plagued by a rampant imagination and a deeply inquiring mind…
The Simplicity of Life
I have psychotherapy every week. I meditate now and then; I meditated this morning. I go to work. I exercise frequently. I try to sleep for eight hours per night, and I try to go to sleep at roughly…
Meditation Is All There Is
I recently wrote an article about awakening and one of my readers suggested that I “keep meditating.” I really appreciated the pointer because when I’m truthful about what is actually happening, it…
The Position of Power
In a room, the seat facing the entrance is generally considered the position of power. This is because it is inside looking out, is protected from behind, and provides the optimum vantage-point from…
How to Be in the Now
Let’s assume that now is a thing, and let’s find try to find it. Here is an experiment you can do at home: take your finger and point to something, anything, and ask “is this now?” Point to something…
We Are Not All One
It has been said to me, “It’s easy for you to say that we are all one when you are a privileged white male. Try telling a person of color who has been treated unjustly that we are all one!” The…
Who wins when a snake devours its own tail?
I have been told that our society is moving inevitably towards a totalitarian regime, and that our only choice is which type of totalitarian regime it will be: fascist or communist. I was told that…
How to Be Happy
I have something I have to sell you. It’s workshop in which I will explain to you how you can organize, run, and sell workshops which teach people about how to get people to come to workshops. One of…
Overwhelm Is Always Just a Story
I woke up in the middle of the night last night, as I often do, and, before my viscerally-held self-concept could come in and claim what was happening, what was happening was just happening. There…
The Meditation Experiment: Month One
I did my first 10-day vipassana retreat back in 2011; ten days of up to 11 hours of meditation per day. It was life-changing, but when it came to an end I did what most people seem to do: decide to…
The Power of Not Reacting
This is at the core of everything I teach. It’s what I keep coming back to. I struggle with it, and everyone struggles with it. When we don’t react, we leave space to respond. You get that text…
Day 50: Strong Determination (adhiṭṭhāna)
I returned from a ten-day meditation retreat on Sunday. From the fourth day to the tenth day of the retreat, three of the one-hour meditation sessions each day focused on developing adhiṭṭhāna, which…
The Meditation Experiment: Two Months
This is an experiment to see what would happen if I consistently meditated for two hours per day, once roughly every twelve hours. I wrote an update after one month, and it’s now been over two months…
Meditation: Enlightenment Is Not the Goal
On the final day of a recent 10-day vipassana retreat, the first and only day when we could talk with each other, another participant posed an interesting conundrum: “I don’t know whether it’s worth…
Why I Cannot Be Converted To Your Religion
Every now and then someone starts trying to convert me to their religion. It’s usually either Christianity or Islam but sometimes, in a more subtle way, it’s some form of Buddhism. I wonder if there…
This Has Nothing to Do with Religion
Advaita is a Sanskrit word that literally means “non-secondness.” Advaita is also apparently the name of a religion. According to Google, it is “a Vedantic doctrine that identifies the individual…
Day 49: Equanimity is Purity
I’m counting the last 12 days as day 49 in my lifestyle challenge: a ten-day meditation retreat, plus a day to get there and a day to get back. The water in Lake County (the location of the retreat…
Your Destiny Is Not Personal
You only think you know what’s happening right now, but what is happening is actually completely chaotic, not understandable, and not knowable. What is happening is being co-opted by a separate sense…
Ego Is Just a Bad Habit
I’m not even going to pretend to be spiritual. I’m not going to tell you that I’m religious either. I’m an atheist, and I have been since I met God. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s…
Consciousness with a Big C: The Spiritual Red-Herring
In certain spiritual circles, what you’re about to read is extremely controversial. It strikes at the heart of many people’s core beliefs. Whether you’re seeking Consciousness or Self, you’re never…
Day 52: The Path is a Blazed Trail
On my recent meditation retreat, I was meticulously scanning the vedanā (sensation) inside my body when I reached the top of my head. At that moment, departing from the instructions, I felt compelled…