Released July 16, 2019, this Reflection is about the magic of being love. Love is completely free, it gives of itself from an inexhaustible supply, it does not hold anything back, it does not try to protect itself. Love is adventure manifest, and you know you want to be the hero of your movie. There’s nothing stopping you, except for a misconception about the fabric of reality. Don’t take my word for it - be courageous, be daring, follow your dreams. Be love and watch your world explode into colour.
P.S. By strange coincidence (my father asked me, ‘is this your synchronicity?’), I just found out that Jimmy Buffett will be here in my hometown of St. John’s in September. He is the teacher quoted in this Reflection. I have been quite literally playing the man’s music non-stop for the past month or so. He is one of the more enlightened musicians I’ve listened to. His music is full of ideas like not taking it seriously, following one’s dreams, letting it go, relaxing into the moment, and just enjoying life. There are few recommendations better than the ones I just listed. If you are going to the show in September, I will see you there.
Have you ever gotten the feeling that there must be more to life than the simple doldrums of our nine to five existences? We are all working shmucks, people who must toil unhappily at whatever job we find ourselves in, slowly eking away the best parts of our lives to some kind of impersonal meat grinder that shreds through our time? I mean, that’s the way it feels sometimes.
And then, other times, it feels good. We feel like we are a productive member of society, that what we are doing is worthwhile, that we are making a difference.
Let me tell you something: everything you do, big or small, makes a difference. You are part of one enormous dance of life, and literally everything, from the visit to the post office to the little note you tuck into your kids’ lunches makes a difference. A huge difference.
Our lives were never meant to be seen as a bore. Well, I mean, maybe for a time, but we can grow out of it. We are creatures of adventure, whether we are aware of it or not. And our adventure is the life that we lead, wherever it takes us. It is a pretty sad conceit that we think that we are somehow not worthy of a life where we are the star of the movie.
It isn’t surprising, I suppose. Everywhere we turn, we see something that tells us that we are not smart enough, too fat, too ugly, to untalented. We are fed a steady diet of absolute horseshit by our culture and most of us do not even realize it.
What you are is perfection crystallized into a body, a being of total and utter bliss who has tricked itself into thinking that it is nothing more than a rotting amalgam of cellular material. You are a rock star, a hero, a wonderful and loving being. Your life can and should be an adventure, otherwise you are simply wasting it.
Look, I get it. I have been in the place that most of us reside. The mundane world. The place where miracles do not exist and magic is something that is only found in books and movies. It is a lonely, desperate place, where happiness is fleeting and sadness a constant companion. We look at the world and we see death and destruction and a disaster waiting to happen. It is fucking horrific. But that is just one version of reality. There is another one, and it is waiting for you, no matter where you are.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be living the life that I am living today, I would have called bullshit. Aside from a university degree, I had few prospects. I was overweight and unhappy and drinking to temporarily blot out my woes. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, and I aimlessly drifted around.
I was seeking, though. Seeking some answer to the questions of life. I looked in many different places, experimented with all kinds of experiences, and thought that I had it all sussed. The answer I had found was a dark and indifferent thing, one that cared not a whit for me or my life, which was profoundly lacking in meaning.
Eventually, though, through a series of events that I can only call serendipitous, I started to wake up from my nightmare. With courage as its catalyst, the reality that I had known started to come apart at the seams. The inexplicable, miraculous, completely improbable and unprovable to anyone outside of my own experience of reality started to happen.
I am not here to tell you how you are supposed to go ahead with your life. That is up to you - your path is your own and don’t let anyone tell you any different. But I can tell you that this path, the one of adventure, is mysterious and unknown, and it will test you. It will require that you give up all of the ideas of the way things are supposed to be. It is not for the faint of heart, but it does require that: heart.
You see, the thing about who you are can be boiled down to one word: love. You are love, incarnate. You are the creative power of the universe residing in a meat suit, the total and utter divine spark of life. What you are is one hundred percent invested in having a good time while it’s here. And how does it have a good time?
By giving love away. Really, truly, that is all it is about. Now, we are taught that love is a finite thing, in some ways. That we cannot truly give everything that we have away. Because, for one, we’ll starve. If we give away all that we have, we won’t be able to survive. If we give away our hearts, they will be broken. If we give away our time, we will never get it back.
Bull fucking shit, I say. The thing is, sure, these things can happen. You can be duped and tricked and things can go badly for you. But the reason that the bad things happen when we try to give is because our intentions are not righteous. And even the bad things, properly understood, are part of the story.
Now, before we get further into this, I want to make sure that I am clear about righteous. There is no right or wrong in the world, just matters of perspective. But righteousness is something different altogether. Righteousness isn’t about thinking you’re better than anyone else because you are ‘good.’ Righteousness is acting in accordance with the divine principle: love.
Love does not expect anything. It is infinite. It can give and give and give and give and give and never stop giving. The problem with giving that does not go well is that there are expectations attached to it. But true love is unconditional.
When you’re stuck in the illusion, you think that there are certain rules to the way that reality works. I mean, we are rational creatures. We know about cause and effect. We know that we need to protect ourselves from the dangers of the world. We know that pie-eyed views of the world are pure idiocy: only a fool proceeds without regard to the harsh truths of the world.
In my experience, the only truth in the world is love and it is the last thing I would describe as harsh. The harshness comes from misunderstanding. And the harshness is about correcting behaviour, not punishment. Karma is not about retribution, it’s about self-realization.
Think about a good hero movie, one where the hero acts with integrity rather than taking the easy path. Aladdin is one of my favourite Disney tales, and its story follows a fairly traditional hero path. Aladdin’s life sees him stealing bread to survive at the beginning, the way that most of us steal pleasure from an unforgiving world before we start to understand who we are. And then, there is this idea that he is a ‘diamond in the rough,’ or something more than what he appears to be. Courageously agreeing to Jafar’s plan, Aladdin goes into the cave to get the lamp and ends up with a genie of his own. The genie, a miracle manifest, fulfills two wishes and improves Aladdin’s world until…
Aladdin lies to Princess Jasmine. He tells her that he is actually a prince and not a street urchin lifted up by the genie’s magic. The thing about this action is that it is an incorrect way of looking at the world. The genie, Aladdin’s guru, or ‘one who removes darkness,’ plays an important role in this. You see, Aladdin has one wish left, after having raised himself from his low status. He promised the genie that he would set him free, a purely selfless act of giving. Instead of this choice, which is righteous and loving, he does not trust the world. He decides that he is going to hoard his last wish, because he still believes the bullshit: that the world is finite and miserable and dangerous, rather than kind and loving and abundant.
This is a false protection. Aladdin does not understand the truth of beauty and abundance and so he has to be given another kick in the arse by the universe so that he reaches enlightenment. It comes in the form of the adversary, Jafar, the evil Vizier who threatens to throw the entire world into darkness.
Aladdin does eventually see the light and plans on telling Jasmine the truth of who he is, but Jafar steals the genie’s lamp before Aladdin can right his wrong. What comes next is instructive.
Jafar is a black mirror image of Aladdin. He is undone by the choice that Aladdin almost made. After getting the genie’s power, Aladdin tricks him into wishing to turn himself into a genie. His own greed and misunderstanding of the world - his protections against reality - see him shackled forever in a tiny little prison (sounds familiar, eh?).
And then Aladdin marries the princess and the two and live happily ever after.
‘Happily ever after’ is indeed a metaphor for enlightenment, because the purpose of our hero stories are to teach us to love and let go. We are instructed in many ways to trust in the universe, to be loving and courageous, to always tell the truth, to be paragons of love, essentially. And when we do that, our lives become as we are – love. We do not worry the way we used to, we do not fret or try to hold on tight for those things which are not meant for us. We simply drift with the tide, because we understand that we are the ocean and we are holding ourselves in a loving embrace.
Joseph Campbell famously said, “I don’t need faith, I have experience.” This is what he was talking about. Faith is overrated. Faith is necessary only when we have not quite gotten to where we are going. Experience teaches us that it is OK to let go, that we can give and give and give, and we will still be alright. Better than alright. Blissful beyond all imagining.
It also teaches us that life is an adventure, that when we allow it to surprise us, those surprises are invariably wonderful. Magic becomes part of who you are. You are the magus, the magician. This Book of Reflections is called ‘Magus of Paradidomi,’ of surrender, because that is how magic is in fact done. It is not done by planning and calculating and worrying, is done by simply letting go. Letting go of our protections, our suppositions about the nastiness of the world. It is not done in the head, only in the heart. And it is not done by assuming that we are anything but love.
So, get out your spell book. Give away the last dollar in your bank account, give away your treasured personal possessions, give away your time to the charity. Don’t do it for the accolades, don’t do it for the entry on your resume, do it because you see it. Because, behind the eyes of the toothless guy that kind of smells and has his hand thrust out to you, you catch the glimmer of recognition. Because, when you think about giving more than you think that you can, there are butterflies in your stomach.
For the love of God, let the damn butterflies out. Because you deserve the magic that they cast on your world. You deserve to live in paradise, in heaven, in a realm of love and light. It is who you are and to it you will return, but the reward for hoofing it home while you are still breathing can be summed up in one word: adventure.
Let’s have a frigging adventure, eh?