Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius. —William Blake’s Devil
Over the years (ha, it’s been years!) I have mentioned several times on this blog a person that I consider to be a “sage,” or an abnormally, extraordinarily wise person, named Paul Lowe. But instead of just mentioning him, in order to do him justice, so to speak, I’d rather let him speak for himself in this post. So I transcribed two of his Dharma talks, or whatever he calls them, from the audio section of his website, paullowe.org, one of which is included below.
I discovered Paul about 13 years ago, when I was going through a kind of spiritual/emotional/existential crisis in Burma. A friend, a fellow Western monk, gave me In Each Moment, by Paul Lowe, or maybe just lent it to me indefinitely, apparently without considering it to be much more than an interesting book. But it was one of those miraculous cases of receiving the right blessing at the right time, exactly what one needs—which is one reason why I like Paul so much, despite the rather New Ageish angle he adopts. I can honestly say that my life was changed significantly after reading the book, and letting it sink in.
As Paul says sometimes, the mere words themselves are really not the point, so I suppose the following words will miss the point too. The words are simply a kind of vessel for an attitude, or a “vibration.” So reading dead words on paper or on a screen will hardly have the same effect as listening to a wise teacher in person, or even on a recording. But still, it’s well worth reading—the book, as well as what follows.
I had never transcribed a talk before, and one interesting thing I learned (interesting to me anyhow) is that there are practically an infinite number of ways to transcribe a talk, even though the words are given; there isn’t just one way, or even a right way…unless the speaker’s preferences would be considered “right.” Where does one start a new paragraph? Does a comma go here, or a semicolon, or a dash? Sometimes it’s not clear even where to end a sentence. So any transcription is also a translation to some degree, reflecting the transcriber’s style of thinking and writing. Bearing that in mind, I hope I haven’t mucked up Paul’s talk too much.
Also, as is often the case with me, I overcame many urges to “fix up” what are essentially someone else’s words. My duty as a transcriber is simply to record what Paul said, not fix sloppy grammar or whatever. (This is one great advantage of writing: That one can go back and fix up the rambling mode of communication that spontaneous speech often takes. On the other hand, that aforementioned “vibration” is lacking, or much reduced.) So instead of fixing up sentences in which Paul suddenly changes the subject midway, or in which he slightly forgets how the statement began by the time he gets to the end, I have left it as it is, which is best.
I assume that most of the great spiritual teachers spoke in a rambling, not necessarily grammatically correct manner, and that later disciples, in recording and editing everything, smoothed it all out for the sake of “propriety.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buddha and Jesus gave rambling, sometimes semicoherent Dharma talks, and tossed in unnecessary particles like “kinda” or “y’know?” as well as some substandard grammar. “OK, uh, blessed are they who know their spiritual poverty, y’know?”
Anyway, here’s the transcription of Paul’s talk. It, and many others well worth hearing, may be found at www.paullowe.org/audio/. He also has talks on YouTube.
"Being Open for What We Need," by Paul Lowe
As we start to be less asleep, more awake, we start to realize that what we've been accepting as "the way it is," is not the way it is. There really is something else. And is seems that this happens in degrees; we have a certain level of waking up, and we go, "Ohhh…right, it's not like I thought is was! It's like this!" And then, we start to assume that this new "this" is the way it is, because we want to be safe and secure and predictable—you want to say, "Ah, this is it." And it isn't it. I don't think that there is an "it." It's moving and changing all the time.
So we have an awakening, you see the way it is, and that's the way we want to see it now. And it isn't the way it is, 'cause if you can see it, there's still a seer and a seen. There's still a separateness. So, to have our realizations and then say, "Great! And is there anything else?" be grateful for where you are, and be open for something else.
Now one of the things that people wake up to is, that they've had a fixed idea about what's possible and not possible. Of course we were indoctrinated with that from birth—"This is the way it is"—and it's a different "This" depending on whether you're a Catholic or a Muslim or a Jew or a this or a that. The "This" is different.
When you realize, "Oh, it's not that way; things aren't as fixed as I thought; so therefore: I can change it! I can manifest it."—in fact there are workshops about manifesting—which is certainly a better idea than being stuck in the old, but what we don't realize is, when we manifest something, we manifest it from the old, 'cause that's all we've got. We don't have the new, we don't know what the new is. So when we manifest something we take the old, and squeeze it into a shape we like better, and project it into the future and say, "That's what we want."
Marilyn Monroe sang, "After you get what you want, you don't want what you got at all." So when you get there you realize, "Oh, this is out of date already," or "This isn't the way I thought it was," or "I didn't realize that." I didn't realize that. And we can't, 'cause we don't see in the future. Even a psychic, when they see what we call "the future" is the future based on now. You can say, "Oh, this will happen to you in the future," but only if you keep on doing the same thing in the same way; so if a psychic says you're going to have a car accident on the 19th, you don't get in a car on the 19th. You've already changed what's called "the future."
So when we manifest, we manifest from the old—and we put a lot of energy into it—getting something that may, almost certainly, [be] what we want, but not what we need. And what we really need to be open for, is, "What do we need?" Whatever it is, however it is, we need to be open to what we need; so then people say, "So don't manifest," and we go into extremes again.
What I suggest is this: Sit, close your eyes, turn everything off, and listen. Be still. And then, allow coming in, "How would I like things to be, ideally? Where would I like to be, what would I like to be doing, and would I like to be—" get it all very clear, because you see, that is your reality, whether you know it or not. That's your matrix. That's your pattern. That's what goes on in the background all the time; that's why you keep getting upset, because things aren't the way that you would like them to be. In the background. But get it clear, bring it all to the fore, see it, get it clearly and say, "That's the way I would like things to be." And then, disconnect and let it go. As is appropriate.
Don't make things happen. You use your will and almost certainly you'll regret it. Because the will…let's say it…bends things, your will bends things, you bend peop—you know, when you convince somebody against their will to do something, they're never happy, and neither are you! 'Cause you know you made them do it and they didn't want to do it. Disconnect from the will. Acknowledge it, see what you would like, and disconnect from it. Make space. Open up, and say, "As is appropriate. That's what I'm available for."
Let's go back a little bit. Almost everybody all the time has a fixed place, and if you say, "Aw, that'll never happen," you have put out a frequency that that will never happen! "Oh, I'll never meet anybody that—" You've just created it! Acknowledge that thought, and then say, "and, I don't know. Existence, I'm open for whatever you'd like to bring me, however you'd like to bring it." Open up, be available, for whatever.
Have you noticed sometimes some of the most intriguing things seem to happen, by what we call "accident?" Do you know, many of the great breakthroughs in science were all an accident! Look at the guy that developed LSD: He had no idea what was happening to him, going into these states, he didn't know where it was coming from. He was just imbibing the fumes and going into a state—oh, and so many things; Madame Curie, and—and, uh, Einstein had it come in his sleep, and so, we don't know.
Now this is what I'm telling you: Listen. Listen. Dare, "Don't know." Don't know. There could be a knock on the door any time, or the phone will ring, or… Anything can happen. Anything. Way, way beyond what you imagine, because you're imagining the old in the old way, and it's usually contracted and it's usually complaining. "Aw, that doesn't happen to me. Aw, I never win anything." Well, you keep going on like that and you probably won't! You're creating an aura around you. And existence will respond to that. "Oh, so you think nothing will happen? I'll make sure nothing happens!" Instead, say, "I don't know, and I'm available, and it may come in some unexpected form, and I'm ready. I'm available. Every time the phone rings, I pick up, not knowing. Every time I meet somebody, I don't know whether I'm not going to say anything, I'm going to have a deep conversation, or I'm going to live with them for the rest of my life!" Don't know. In each moment.
Here's something else to review, not getting what you want. So, as I say what I'm about to say, watch where the mind tends to jump, and have a reaction to it. Just, just listen. Just listen. You see, most of the time, most people are not having fun, because they think they don't deserve it. Do you deserve it?
You take a look inside, and you'll probably find that somewhere, you're not honoring yourself. You're not accepting yourself the way you are. You think you should be another way, or you think about all the things where you were not kind, or you could have done something else. And so, at some level down there, you don't think you deserve what you would like. And that keeps blocking your blessings. Allowing existence to bless you, to shower on you, to pour all over you—abundance.
Nothing's a coincidence; everything has some link somewhere, and if you look deep inside—oh! I used to do this in the groups—I used to say, "Say a long lost uncle had left you some money; how much did he leave you?" You'd be amazed at the piddling little amounts people gave themselves! Instead of millions and millions and millions they'd say, "Oh, he left me a hundred dollars" or "a thousand" or "ten thou—" but they're restricting: they just wouldn't open up to a total amount beyond their imagination. And that's what we do, we just don't allow ourselves to be that open to an abundant, unexpected gift.
In each moment…ofttimes—oh, especially when I was born in England, it was, [moaning] "Uhhhr, yeah, oh we're going on a picnic, it'll probably rain." Just…And where I was, if you'd say, "How are you feeling," if somebody was feeling really good they'd say, "Ahh, I could be worse." You see, that's a frequency, that's a vibration, that's what you're putting out, so that's what you get!
And I'm not talking about the opposite of being positive, I'm just talking about not being negative. Just being open. "Yes, it could rain, and it may not. And even if it does rain, maybe…" and so on. Keep looking for possibilities that you enjoy, and not keep looking on the dark side.
Here's another aspect to not getting what we would like to get. What we don't realize is, as I was saying before, is we've got a fixed place inside—it's fixed—and…see it as a box, and inside the box are all sorts of little compartments about, "This can't happen unless that happens." And so, these are the conditions that you're setting up for what you want to happen; and you make it pretty well impossible. Here's an alternative. Just for a moment, imagine you're semi-transparent; instead of being a fixed idea, you're a not-knowing energy. Now, everything's changing and moving and shifting, and if you look, everything's growing. You just put a tiny little seed in the soil and water it, and in no time at all you've got this incredible being coming out of the ground. And trees that you imagine, "Oh, it's a tree," but keep looking at it, and you'll find it's growing, it's moving, it's changing—everything is growing and moving and changing. If you are less fixed, life will flow through you, because you're not stopping it in any way, you're not fixing it in any way, you are not putting conditions on it. You're saying to life, "Live me. Live through me. Be me." And you're part, then, not a-part, meaning separate, you're part of this incredible abundance. Go out into the forest, go down to the river, look at the fields, bursting with energy, with life…and movement. Moving, always moving.
So when we get a fixed idea, we've anchored ourselves in a spot; and as soon as you're not moving, you're miserable. The joy, the bliss, the ecstasy, is Being With Each Moment, as it takes place, flowing with it. And when I say "with it," you're not doing anything; you're just not stopping yourself.
A classic one—you jump in a river. If you're trying to achieve something, you're swimming up against the tide. Or, you're a negative person, you're fighting your way down the flow. Instead of, just let go. Bernie Gunther used to say, "Waterfall? No trouble at all." Just be with the flow. And it'll take you here, and it'll take you there, and it'll always take you exactly where you need to be at exactly the time you need to be there! You say, "Isn't that amazing I met you at this point!" No, it's not amazing. That's what happens when we get out of the way. When we become part of life instead of apart.
And then, you know, you really do feel blessed. You say, "Oh! Isn't that amazing? Isn't that wonderful?" And the thing is, you see, the more you feel blessed, the more blessings you get, Tiddly-Pom. That's the way it is! Gratefulness creates a space for more to come to you: exactly what you need, in exactly the appropriate moment.
Thank you, Paul.