“The yin-yang symbol is not, therefore, what we call a dualism, but rather an explicit duality expressing an implicit unity.” – Alan Watts
Everyday Sublime: Shadow | Light | Unity
The Everyday Sublime podcast explores a full spectrum spirituality. Each week Josh will release a dharma talk, and each month Josh will publish a long-form conversation with a thought-leader from the field. As Stephen Batchelor says, "the mystical does not transcend the world, but saturates it."
“Most people think there are a lot of bad people running around in the world. There aren’t a lot of bad people, there are a lot of bad ideas and bad ideas are worse than bad people because bad ideas are contagious. Bad ideas get good people to do horrible things.” – Sam Harris
“On the path we open to the experience of bad karma – created by ourselves and by others – and we turn it into good dharma, the development of compassion and wisdom.” – Larry Rosenberg
“The untrained mind gets lost and follows these things; it forgets itself, and then we think that it is we who are upset or at ease or whatever. But really, this mind of ours is already unmoving and peaceful.” – Ajahn Chah
“But imagine my surprise when, upon surrendering to wanting nothing, I am released from perceiving a lack, awakened by and to a want for nothing, instead.”
“When everyone is doing better, everyone is doing better. And when life is precious, life is precious. Can we connect with this motivation?” -Jessica Locke
“The good only stands out in contrast to something relatively worse; the bad only emerges from a context of relative good. The wise old farmer appears to see life holistically, as a unified totality.”
The transformation of desire is a critical component of the spiritual journey, but this transformation does not necessitate sacrifice and grim acceptance. Aligning one’s desire with the deeper quality of the Heart’s aspiration can infuse one’s practice with vitality and whole-hearted engagement.
As Alan Watts put so well, “No one can be moral – that is, no one can harmonize contained conflicts – without coming to a working arrangement between the angel in himself and the devil in himself, between his rose above and his manure below.”
Challenging energy is part of the path. Can we open to these energies with curious kindness? Can these energies be integrated within our being? This is the path.
Practice is not a luxury. In times like these, practice is essential for resilience, centered-ness, and compassionate engagement.
Some people in the spiritual world say we don’t need crutches, or that we shouldn’t use crutches. This is true, we don’t need crutches; we don’t need zendos; we don’t need sesshins. But still, many seem to benefit from these supports.
Joseph Goldstein writes, “Effort becomes unskillful when there’s some idea of gain and a mind full of expectations, rather than an openness and receptivity to what is already.”
“As we peer into our experience, we peer into one of the biggest mysteries of all: The fact of our own consciousness peering back at the web of existence that created it.”
Compassion without wisdom can lead to emotional burnout. Wisdom without compassion can lead to detached apathy. Together they balance and complement each other on the path.
If the straight-ahead, conscious approach fails to render a solution, the “lateral drift” approach can be employed by allowing the mind to stop thinking about the problem which allows a solution to suggest itself.
From the safe experience of fundamental consciousness – a consciousness that is awake to, within and beyond the body – we can release and unburden the body’s holding of trauma within the fascia.
As the Buddha said, “The rain could turn to gold and still your thirst would not be slaked.” In many ways, the entire path pivots on the skillful relationship to desire.
The initial experience of awakening is not often one of calm, serenity, and bliss; rather, the initial encounter is one of waking up to confusion, uncertainty, and despair. We can map our own psychological experience to the mythological story of the Buddha’s biography.
If you let it, reality will wake you up out of your drifting state into a naturally awake state. This transitional pivot is the key moment upon which the entire spiritual path unfolds.