Dear Friend,

I want to share one more excerpt from my new novel, The Unexpected Goddess. The excerpt is from one of the subchapters near the end. (In between each chapter, where I tell the story of Steve and Annie’s relationship, there are a few pages, or subchapters, where I tell Steve’s back-story). The novel is finished, by the way, and I am now seeking an agent…

     I remembered Patwa, a teacher from Thailand who had been a Buddhist monk many years ago, and had then come to the U.S. to teach Vipassana meditation, and who had developed a following of students here. But then, a few years ago, he decided to move to Spain and set up a teaching center there.
     When I asked him why he was moving, he said: “You know Steve, here I find that I can give dharma talks for ten years and fart once, and they remember the fart … People are more serious about enlightenment in Europe, and that’s why I’m leaving.”
     So while the number of genuine seekers of truth, those who had self-realization or enlightenment  as their number one priority, was relatively small, I continued doing the work of teaching freedom wherever I could, with whomever would listen to me. Along with my Monday evening gatherings, and monthly weekend workshops, I did five to ten private sessions every week during those three years, during the days I took off from my practice.
     The teaching was always the same, though I was always searching for different ways to express it:
     Everything comes and goes, but you are the awareness which is always here. See that, and you’ll be free.
     When you embrace your suffering, unconscious thoughts become conscious, so that  gradually all unconscious thinking leaves you, and you become fully conscious. You become awake, or free.
     When you free yourself from your story about how angry, lonely, depressed, ashamed, etc. you are, the emotion dissolves and you feel more relaxed and present.
     When you are free, there are no rules, except one: do no harm. Then you take on whatever you can handle.
     In freedom, you don’t take things personally, except what you want to take personally.  Mountaintop enlightenment is about dissolving the ego and sitting in bliss and freedom on top of the world. Marketplace enlightenment, which is what I teach, is about honoring the ego, and everything the ego—expressing as the human spirit—has created in the world.
     The question and answer come from the same place: consciousness, the source.
     Seeing the truth is fundamental to realization, but after the seeing comes the question: What is the feeling that results from the seeing? The feeling is always a state of relaxed, flowing being which expresses as a sense of oneness with and a love for all life.
     Wisdom, in other words, has to be embodied as love, and that takes time.
     I remember one woman I worked with, a friend from Sebastopol who had a successful business managing professional care-givers for the affluent elderly. Her name was Linda, and the main problem she complained to me about was that she was often so busy, with so many things to do, that she didn’t know what her priority should be.
     “Make presence your priority,” I told her, in a firm voice. “Take a deep, slow breath, relax… and just be present now… then look around, and see what needs your attention most. That’s the way to handle all your other priorities.”
     It was a mind-blowing realization for her, and she thanked me and hugged me effusively. For myself, I was pleased that she had gotten something of real value from our session.

Love and blessings,

Jim