please take these offerings

Today – another tick in the annual count for she-who-scribbles while her spacecraft steers itself around the sun.

Sitting watching the morning star rise in the pre-dawn coolness, I thought back to this offering, which I posted exactly a year ago on this unlit light blog. It wants to be shared here. I fancy it might be my yearly birthday post, since I can’t find one word I’d change. And I need these words.

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on one’s blessings, and to offer gratitude to our friends for their kindness and thoughtfulness. I always begin my birthday with a gesture of thanks to my mother, who not only gave me the miraculous opportunity for life, but also fostered, nourished and inspired the flourishing of that life in every way possible.

Now in my eighth decade, and delighting in life regardless of its curved balls, I feel to share some of the observations that have delivered me to this joy. It’s the best I can offer; may your mind and heart be able to receive.


Miriam Louisa Simons - Offering Bowl


Life hurts.
But what you are never feels pain.

Everything changes.
But what you are remains unchanged, eternally.

You’re flat and exhausted and depressed.
But what you are is forever poised as equanimity.

You’re broke, stressed, squeezed dry, homeless and hungry.
But what you are is unaffected and impartial.

You’re smashed by disappointment, betrayal, abandonment.
But what you are is ever calm, accepting and unbroken.

You’re afflicted by physical and mental aberrations, abnormalities, imbalances.
But what you are never suffers for one second.


So what you are is clearly something with which you need to become very familiar. And it’s e-a-s-y to do so. You don’t need a formal introduction. You don’t need a manual or a map or a guide book. You don’t need to change your religion or your beliefs (although changes may well occur as a result). You don’t need a 12-step plan or a meditation practice.

What you are is more obvious and closer than the tip of your nose. It’s the one experience you can never escape, 24/7.

What would you call that? Your aliveness? Your awareness? Your presence? All these words come close, but none are ultimately true or exact. Why?

Because they aren’t yours. Or mine. Or anyone’s. Drop the personal pronoun, and there you are – radiant all-knowing alive presence. The Light of Knowingness, self-luminous, always-on, never-needing fuel or flint…

And that is what you are – free, fulfilled and flourishing as all you conceive, perceive and experience. All of it.

How wondrous that this is possible – that this primordial awareness is huge enough to hold the entirety of creation, excluding nothing – yet be unaffected and unmoved by any expression of its handmaiden, consciousness.

It is truly The Beloved, the Godhead of the saints and sages and poets.

And it is what you are.


Image – Bowl, Miriam Louisa Simons, Japanese washi, threads, cardboard


well-being & being well


Agnes Martin - Gratitude, 2001


There’s a mindset that runs a mythical story asserting that one’s “accomplishment” of awakening, and the attendant ease of well-being, is negated or compromised by any experience of being unwell. Beware of these myths!

Awakening is never “accomplished” or attained. It is simply a system-restore to the Natural State.

The Natural State – I call it wild wideawakeness – has no preference whatsoever for what might be being experienced by the body or the mind. It remains the essential experience, enabling and infusing all others. Its impartiality – and re-cognition of this – is what dissolves suffering and enables well-being – regardless of the passing play of one’s life.

Well-being does not depend upon being well.

It’s true that the more unshakeable one’s well-being, the more sensitive the organism becomes, bringing understanding and prompting changes that may lead to less physical and mental dysfunction. But well-being remains unaffected. Period.

I have been with frail, aged folk in heart-wrenching discomfort and pain and fully aware of the approach of their end days, who were aglow with well-being.

I have been with a close friend when she received a diagnosis that would strike terror into the heart of most people; she exuded such well-being that her surgeons and friends were at once amazed and relieved. (She has now fully recovered.)

I have been with myself during debilitating illness, pain, grief. At these times the litmus test for the extent of my freedom is a little inquiry: am I suffering?

And I have to say no; I can no longer find a solid-state ‘person’ here who could own a story about suffering.

If there is illness, no problem – I’ll seek help, I’ll take the medicine, but I won’t suffer.

Well-being is unaffected.
Well-being is the Natural State.
The Natural State is what one is.

Because the Natural State is ever-present and inescapable, accepting the entire array of experience without question, I’ve come to know it as Love. Love Divine. 

Whatever you call it – God, Divine Presence, Love, Suchness, The Great Perfection, Beloved – you are naming yourself and the entirety of your experience.

Along with everyone and everything else…


Painting by Agnes Martin, Gratitude, 2001. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.

lessons from the lifeboat


Echoes from Emptiness - Lessons from the Lifeboat


Seventy years on and still floating along. This morning’s sit sent me scrambling for my pencil and here’s what downloaded – a list of seven treasured wisdoms the old girl has learnt (so far…)



is this rock-solid, inescapable




is simply the end of seeking




is a story without verifiable




is an argument with Life’s




is meeting Life’s thusness without

a story



is unbridled delight at Life’s endless




is the gift of this unshakeable



Image source

please don’t lie to me


Echoes from Emptiness: Please don't lie to me....



don’t tell me you don’t know
exactly WHAT you are

(that you ARE the peace and sweet release
you seek)

. . .

I know you’ve looked;
you’ve seen, you’ve conceded
– nothing you know
–  nothing you think
–  nothing you feel
– nothing you remember
– nothing you experience
can be what you are


– all these phenomena
–  all these perceptions
– all these peculiarities

come and go


your bright alive Knowingness remains

. . .

Beloved – even your pain
your suffering, your grief,
rise and fall –
you’ve seen how they wither
(along with your hubris)
when you drop out of your story
and into mind-fucking
that never changes

don’t tell me you haven’t yet fallen
that can’t be known
or experienced

don’t lie to me, Beloved

I don’t believe you

. . .


hairy caterpillar horror


It’s difficult to describe the intense pain and excruciating itch experienced on contact with Australia’s notorious hairy caterpillars.  I had a tactile taste of it today.


Echoes from Emptiness - Australian Hairy Caterpillar


These caterpillars march along in head-to-tail formation – long columns of fluffy wigglers in search of tucker.  As they travel they drop miniscule invisible hairs which carry some kind of poisonous irritant.  You merrily dash out to the clothesline in the morning and unwittingly walk over these hairs in your bare feet.  The effect is instant – the body’s immune system sets up a red alert.  If you’re a baby or a toddler you could die.

Searing itching agony creeps up the feet to the ankles, then up the shins to the knees. The hand that scratches picks up the poison and becomes affected as well.  You dive into the swimming pool to escape the fury of itching and to wash the hairs away.

Sheer agony.  Undeniable.  And yet …

Why is it that the pristine awareness in which this hairy horror movie plays out is utterly unaffected?  Beats me, but turning to that ultimate changeless refuge never fails to sabotage the arising of suffering.


if you want to understand why you suffer you’ll need to want it a great deal


This morning, after so many sodden days wrapped in mist, the mountain emerges under the gaze of the great Shining.

A verdant world is revealed.  Greens of every radiant tone, still heavily wet, sigh under skies of powder blue.  The grass, dotted with little red mounds of ant-work, is alive with leaping jumping whirling insect life, and seven fat guinea-fowl are busy breakfasting.

The cottage is named Bliss.


We really don’t have a clue what we do.  Life acts and we assume responsibility – praise, blame, satisfaction, regret, guilt.  If you still imagine that you ‘know’ what you do, that you drive your Lifeboat, no doubt you’ll still be suffering one way or another.

If you want to understand why you suffer you’ll need to want it a great deal, for it will take all your powers of choiceless observation.  That involves patience.  It means being able to endure not being sure of anything.  It means no conclusions.

If you can bear to look for yourself at all the ways you sabotage the truth of your non-existence, you’ll understand the root of suffering.


the Reality within the illusion


Someone tells me, migraine-wracked me, “It’s all an illusion.”

In spite of vomiting and pain I have to agree, since there’s no suffering happening.  I have learned that to avoid, to move away from whatever suchness is presently presenting, is to suffer.

But in the contrary way of unbidden questions something asks, “If the experience of sickness can be said to be an illusion, what’s aware of the illusion; what knows it to be an illusion?”

The Awareingness that’s aware isn’t a thing.  And nothing can be found outside of this Awareing-Knowing, so, how could any experience be said to be an illusion or not-an-illusion?

“Don’t overlook the Reality within the illusion!”
said someone very wise

and this is the most powerful and comforting
one can offer