Some of you may have seen this image, a logo, at the top of emails that I send out (you can subscribe to emails at http://coyotejackson.com/).
I developed it myself as a my own spiritual totem, based on powerful teachings that hold deep personal meaning, gathered from my insatiable curiosity to explore the nature of life around me, with original inspiration coming from one of my teachers, Jesse Elder. It visually represents some pretty big stuff – the nature of reality, and everything that’s needed to transform your life and create freedom.
In the background you see the squiggly line, this represents energy – the fabric of this reality.
As scientific observation has reached deeper and deeper into the nature of what we see around us, more and more we find that there is nothing there except energy. There is nothing solid to grasp onto. We humans are in a very real sense transducers – instruments, unfathomably complex instruments, that convert energy from one form into another.
Then, in the stream of this energy there is a parenthesis, which creates an opening.
This represents a moment coming into being. From energy is birthed a becoming. We experience moments all the time in our life. In fact when you dig into it, the continuous nature of our lives is a complete illusion. We are much more discrete than we think we are. Really we are a process that is underway rather than a concrete “thing”. The fantastic philosopher Alan Watts put it so powerfully with the analogy of a whirlpool in a river. Imagine seeing a particular spot in a river, where the water pouring over the rocks creates a whirlpool, a swirling eddy that remains there. So you watch the whirlpool for a while. Now you come back a year later. There is still a whirlpool there. Is it the same whirlpool? It is, but nothing about it is the same. The water is entirely different, the rocks have changed, everything has changed, nothing remains of the make-up of the whirlpool you saw the previous year, yet it is the same one. And so we see that fundamentally what it is is a pattern. A pattern of energy. So too are we. We are a pattern that is formed and reformed moment by moment.
This same teaching is also a very deep Buddhist wisdom about the nature of mind, and our existence. Buddhism teaches that we – and in fact everything – arises as a result of causes and conditions. Everything we perceive is conditional. There is a coming together of the causes and conditions, and we arise. In a moment. And then we pass, and a new set of causes and conditions is created. Which leads to a new becoming. And so our existence, which we tend to feel is continuous, is much more accurately described as a continuous process of becoming, and of passing. Birth and death in each moment.
You can get a sense of this if you do a simple practice. Think back over today, or the past couple of days. Perhaps this morning after you woke up you had breakfast. You prepared the meal, sat down, ate it. You enjoyed the meal, or you didn’t. Perhaps you conversed with some loved ones, or you ate alone. You consumed the meal, bite by bite. And then, it was over. That breakfast moment, from its beginning to its end, will never occur again. It came into being, it occurred, and then it passed. Nothing about that moment will ever be the same again. Yes you may have breakfast again tomorrow, but there is absolutely nothing about that moment that is the same as the moment that happened this morning when you sat and ate breakfast. You can reflect on this for each moment of your day. It is a very powerful practice, one that brings both birth and death very much into the foreground, and for me it’s one that actually brings immense joy. There is a huge freedom when you come to realize and accept that each moment does die, it is impermanent, because that frees you to make the current moment, the one you’re in right now, everything you want it to be.
So this first set of parentheses represents a moment. It comes into being with the opening parenthesis, and ends with the closing. Birth and death, death and birth. They are both part of life. Both are necessary, without death there could be no birth. And each birth is in fact the death of something else. And whatever you are doing in this moment, will end. This is not something terribly sad, although it can of course feel that way. Rather it makes by its very impermanence the current moment, our current experience, sacred and special.
And so we have a moment flashing into being out of the background of the continuous waves of energy. It comes into being, it occurs, and then it passes. And then above that we have two other sets of parentheses, which come out of the first pair.
This represents that each moment contains all the seeds for the next moment. The causes and conditions that will determine next, are contained within the current instant. Completely and wholly. And, in each moment we get to choose what happens next. This is our precious gift of free will. If we make certain choices in this moment, then that sets up the causes and conditions for the next moment to be the one on the left. If we make other choices, then we create conditions out of which the moment on the right will arise.
And the choice that matters most is where we place our most precious commodity as a human, our awareness. This is a choice we always have, one that cannot be taken from us unless we choose to allow it to be. If we choose to place our awareness on problems, on “issues”, on suffering, then the next moment will be created out of those conditions. Our choice will be honored and the next moment will include more problems and suffering. If we choose to place our awareness on joy, on connecting to others at the deep level of our Basic Goodness, then that choice too will be honored, and the next moment will contain more of that.
There is a very deep truth here, and this wisdom contains all that’s really needed for transformation. Realizing our complete self-authorization, that it really is entirely up to us, and that all we need to do is make a choice of where we put our awareness, our attention, is simple yet radical.
What normally happens is that we allow our habitual patterns to make the choice for us, we don’t actively decide where to put our awareness. In a very real sense then we are not actually awake in those moments, we sort of sleep through them. We can end up sleeping through a lot of the time we’re awake. But in any moment we can sort of blink into awakeness – we can notice where we are, and then simply make a choice of where to place our attention. And if we string together a whole series of moments where we actively choose to place our attention on the things that we want, rather than the things that we don’t want, then amazing things start to happen. And they happen fast. You can see looking at the logo that of course it repeats – from either of the two moments, another two moments can arise, again based on where we place our attention, and from each of those, another two – on and on. Very soon, depending on the choices you make, you can end up in very different places, having entirely different experiences in your current moment, than if you made other choices.
So, it’s fairly clear then what we should do if we want to change our experience in future moments. We can do two things – first, we simply change where we place our attention NOW, in the current moment. That’s the only one we can affect. And second, we can train our habitual patterns to make better choices for us in those moments when we’re sleepy, less awake. Most of us aren’t able to stay awake all the time. And so if our patterns are what dictates whether we move towards the left new moment or the right new moment, then it’s a good idea to retrain our patterns to be more right-leaning, or left-leaning, whichever way you want to go.
For practically how to do this, how to create transformation in our life, to accomplish the first, silent meditation is by far the best technique I’ve found for training in placing your attention. For the second, the training is done by practicing in the current moment. The choices you make now are what you’re training in for future sleepier moments.
If you want help with putting this into practice in your life, in engaging in transformation, reach out to me at my website for 1:1 help, or sign up at the Fearless Training Program for wonderful training and support in re-orienting your habitual patterns.
So, that’s my personal totem, a coming-together in a visual way of several of the most powerful teachings for transformation that I’ve discovered on my own personal journey of transformation. Let me know what you think! Do these wisdoms resonate with you? Do you have personal totems yourself? What are they and what do they mean to you?
Wishing you all peace, love, joy, magic, and PLAY