Who are you?

All About Nothing is a Dutch movie which invites you to transcend the daily rat race by taking a radically different view on life. This ancient Indian philosophy is called non-duality and has been embraced by the likes of Albert Einstein, Eckhart Tolle, Jim Carrey, Ramana Maharshi and Byron Katie. When this insight strikes, your whole life can change drastically… while nothing has to change.”

(via www.nondualiteit.nu)

 

Sky dancing

Thanks to my sweetie, Michael, and all the super-talented folks at Skydive Arizona, for making my first skydive a fantastic experience. What a thrill. So dream-like. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to fly like this.

Big, blue desert sky. Neat shot looking back up to the plane — I’m strapped to tandem master Josiah, and you can see Michael leaping out after us. Once we were under the parachute, enjoying the view, Josiah says: ‘Heather, welcome to my office!’ Lucky, lucky guy.

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Fill ‘er up

Graphic by Sam Gerrard, Shore Creative, UK

So this is awesome: Buddha at the Gas Pump — a show that explores enlightenment through a series of interviews with spiritual practitioners and teachers, many of whom openly discuss their experiences with ‘the awakened state.’ By its own description:

Many people are skeptical of claims of higher states of consciousness. They find it hard to believe that apparently ordinary friends and neighbors might be experiencing something extraordinary. Maybe they expect Enlightenment to look as remarkable on the outside as it is reputed to be on the inside. This show will attempt to dispel skepticism and misconceptions by week after week, allowing otherwise ordinary people to relate their experience of spiritual awakening.

Head over and check out the long list of nearly 300 guests — you’ll find some very well-known names. The interviews are sorted alphabetically by guest, or quite handily can be browsed categorized under a broad-range of traditions/schools/predilictions. You can watch episodes on YouTube or download them as podcasts — great for trips by car!

To get you started, I’m linking to just one of many that I’ve so far enjoyed. It’s a discussion moderated by the show’s creator and host, Rick Archer, between Adyashanti and Francis Bennett. Adyashanti, a long-time Zen practitioner, and Bennett, a former Trappist monk, talk broadly on the theme of the former’s book, Resurrecting Jesus, in which Adyashanti “reveals the man known as Jesus as an exemplar of the realized state and a model of enlightened engagement with the world.”

Good stuff. I’m excited to discover more.

You can subscribe to receive email updates of future interviews as they’re released. You can also follow Buddha at the Gas Pump on Facebook and Twitter.

Open to nature, open to gratitude

File this one under B for BLISS!

Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude is a must-see 20 min TEDx talk featuring the stunning filmwork of Louie Schwartzberg. It starts as simply jaw-dropping time lapse nature photography and builds into a compelling vision for why and how to be grateful when we open our eyes each morning.

On the bio page of his website — aptly named “Moving Art” — beside the picture of his peaceful smile and super-clear eyes, it reads:

As the only cinematographer in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

If you pay attention right around the 5 min 50 sec mark, you might audibly gasp, as I did. But you must watch this one all the way through. Then be grateful you did.

And for fans of non-narrative documentaries, in 1982 he provided additional cinematography for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

Happy frolicking cows!

Yesterday I had a series of conversations with former strangers (by which I mean, once we’d chatted for a while they transformed into new friends). Inexplicably, and not brought up by me, the topic of vegetarian vs. meat eating kept surfacing. It surprised me because I had watched this video yesterday morning and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day long. It’s just delightful. A herd of cows are released into a field instead of being taken to the slaughterhouse. They jump and dance with joy. So sweet.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off in my life, always for reasons of compassion for other living beings. Quite simply, I believe it is terrible what human beings do to themselves and other animals in this world. Even still, these days I choose to eat a lazy version of ‘paleo’ because my body functions better this way. (Grains, in particular, are a terrible storm of inflammation for me.) And also, I eat meat because, when I reason it out, suffering is happening, it’s the very nature of things. Unavoidable. Samsara. That which is born, dies. I kill when I brush my teeth. I can’t drive down a summer road without killing thousands of insects, crushed against the windsheild. It breaks my heart, truly.

I bought chicken breasts again from that super-friendly guy at the market this morning. And I still can’t stop thinking about these lovely, happy frolicking cows. It makes me wonder about all the things I can and can’t control. And leads me to ask, how can I be more compassionate today, with myself and with others?

Life is right now

This is one of my favourite short clips of Jon Kabat-Zin speaking on mindfulness.

The whole thing is worth a listen. Starting at about 3 mins, he says:

Even in very stressful situations, you can move in to the actuality of the situation and find ways to move with it, and regulate your own reactivity to it. So that in some very, very deep way, you are not running away, and you’re not pushing through anything, but allowing things to unfold as they do. That’s the heart of creativity. And that way, we get the most work done, with the least distraction and the least effort.

It’s an art form. And it takes a while to learn. It’s not something where you just hear me say this on the web, and the next thing, ‘oh, yeah, I’ll be mindful for the rest of my life.’ It’s one of the most difficult things in the world, if not the most difficult thing in the world for us human beings to do: is to be present in our own lives, and to be kind and less judgmental of ourselves.

That’s why it’s worth doing, it’s worth practising. But it’s not a ‘doing’ really, when all is said and done, it’s a way of being, and actually, a way of being awake and yourself.