I had the great good fortune to be the student of an enlightened teacher in this life. I witnessed and experienced (and witness and experience) unfathomable expressions of light and truth that have no parallel words from the perspective of our little-mind-nut-brains. The depth and wisdom that comes from an enlightened person moves your consciousness, and this happens just with their presence, their spirit (you can also glean it from their words, their books, their talks). Many times what happens after a person has studied with an enlightened being is they try to “lock it in”. It’s hard not to want to convey the profound, beautiful realizations and teachings that were witnessed and absorbed. But as soon as the students lock in the teachings (or their limited memory of them, or their spin on them), as soon as the experiences become standardized stories, then there’s suddenly a possibility that they solidify. That means, the cosmic and spiritual experiences become owned by the ego – by the little mind of our rational brain systems. Which then tends to have a smothering effect on the eternal light and the possibility of the boundless awareness that was originally conveyed by the enlightened teacher. Then religions are born.Then dogma is spread. Then loss of truth. Then pain, which is the state of this planet.
Sometimes in this world, there’s a shooting star. They burn bright. They burn true. They’re not necessarily enlightened, as a Buddha, but they find their Dharma – their purpose, their duty in life, and they live it. They tap into their destiny and that brings power to their lives. This can (and is supposed to) happen to all of us. But we get so distracted. Our hearts get broken, we identify with our emotions and assume that we are as limited as our emotions are. We solidify our emotions into our personalities by identifying with our emotions, instead of just letting them pass through, with honesty. And so rarely on this plane do we encounter someone who is truly living their destiny.
Robin Williams was a shooting star. I once saw him perform live, and I can say, after having encountered full blown enlightenment in the form of my teacher, that Robin had more light shooting out of him than any other human being that I have encountered, other than my enlightened teacher. He was in a line-up of a dozen other comedians for this particular show, and no one even came close to his presence. He was light-years beyond them all. His heart was completely open – huge, generous, and his mind was lightning speed. And it was clear that he was there for one reason – to make us laugh. And boy did he. He was surely a person who was living his destiny.
We tend to think in black and white terms as humans: darkness and light, good and bad, holy and evil. But the more you traverse the pathway to enlightenment, the more you realize, we’re everything. The issues that we humans have is that we believe the illusions that condition us. And within that conditioning is a human agreement called morality. And then we name good and bad, right and wrong. We label each other. But really, there are only good and bad decisions. A good decision is one that takes you towards the essence of the truth within. A bad decision is one that takes you away from that. Once you start making decisions that take you away from truth, you gain a momentum that keeps you seeing things in darker terms. Or conversely, once you start making decisions that lead you toward truth, you gain a momentum that keeps you seeing things in light terms. That’s karma.
One of the characteristics of “evil”, or, the tendency to make decisions toward illusion instead of toward truth, is that it has as its root attribute the need to dominate and control. And at the root of “good”, or the tendency to make decisions toward truth, has as its root attribute NO need to dominate and control. So, who on this planet has gained control? Those who have the need to dominate and control, and so usually, those who are entangled in and moving toward deeper illusion. (and the nature of illusion is ignorance, or we could call it stupidity) Is that going to make for an enlightened planet? Having power mongers in control? No! And yet, those who are not power mongers would never seek to control, therefore, it’s not the intelligent who are running the show around here.
So we all suffer, one way or the other, at the hands of power mongers. It’s interesting. Even someone like Obama, who probably started out with a lot of bright, positive intent, just by the nature of the position he’s in, has to now deal in the realms of power. He has now become one of the power mongers. There’s no way to avoid it. And someone of his integrity, try though they do (like Jimmy Carter), cannot correctly and honorably wield all that power without engaging with the power mongers – the rich corporations, the rich countries, the power-mongering politicians, etc, without becoming a player and using power to manipulate and control – even if it’s for “the betterment” of humankind.
And what about all the “good” individuals, those who don’t care about having power and control over others? They’re out there. Maybe half the planet consists of those types of souls. They’re doing awesome things individually – art, dance, music, science, writing, creating, loving, enjoying, being kind. Who knows. They’re out there. But they’re definitely not in power. They are definitely not running this planet. And if they were given the opportunity to wield power, no doubt, they would become fixated by power. It’s hard not to be allured by the shine of power. I speak from experience.
One thing I’ve learned about power is that you don’t know what you’ll do with it once you have it. You can be a monday-morning-quarterback, but until you’ve been given the opportunity to wield power, you have no idea what you would do with it. And if your whole life hasn’t been set up to purify your nature, through meditation and mindfulness, then it’s very hard to wield power selflessly. Even with meditation and mindfulness, the aspects of personality and ego become amplified and blown up with the tremendous power that is unleashed through meditation, and it’s very easy to crash and burn. That’s why real paths, especially Fast Paths to enlightenment are usually called The Razor’s Edge.
So then, back to Robin Williams. Here’s this guy who has light, intelligence, heart, compassion, and he’s up there on stage giving it away with style and panache for one purpose – to make us laugh. To bring joy. And he did – to so many in this world. He did more for this planet than most politicians, or self-serving movie or music stars, or dogma spreading religious leaders. He brought laughter to our hearts. Laughter is such an awesome way to crack the personality open and let light in. And he had brilliant light. Our souls were awakened and tickled by him. And he did this often and everywhere. He held back nothing. He gave it all. This isn’t to say he was a saint, at least in human terms. He wasn’t a goody-two-shoes. He was real, open, honest, loving, kind, compassionate and truthful in his commentary on the human condition.
How could a person with that much heart and sensitivity not be painfully aware of the horror on this planet? And how could someone so open survive all that he felt, that he allowed himself to feel? He was a hero, because he did feel all that he felt, and still offered what he offered. They say, if you worked closely with him and you had a little sensitivity, it was impossible not to be aware of his pain. Yet most people who claim to have known him and to have been his friend acted surprised that he died the way he did. That he suffered the way he did.
Go back and watch any of his movies. There’s the unbridled joy, but right along-side of that joy is deep pain. There’s no missing it. In general, we ignore and dismiss the pain we encounter in others. We don’t want to see it, we don’t want to face it. We don’t want to deal with our own pain. That’s why we drown ourselves in distractions. And though he was a good actor, it was in his eyes. The awareness, the wakefulness – the acceptance of both the love and joy, and the ugliness and horror.
His was a lifetime of giving everything. He came here to fulfill his destiny. We all are here for that purpose, but he really did it. And then, when he was done, he left on his own terms. And we, in our limited agreements of morality, say, “Oh, poor Robin. If only I’d known.” What? What if you’d known? What would you have done to alleviate that pain? Could you have changed the world? No, of course not. Or, “Oh, poor Robin, that it came to that horrible end.” No – not poor Robin. He lived it completely, with the truth of what’s here – the pain and the laughter. He didn’t try to pretend that it wasn’t here. He was aware of it. And you know that from his humor. He was done doing what he needed to do and it was time for him to go.What more did he have to give? He was spent.
How many of us could really say we’re doing what we came here to do? Why are so many trying to hold on for a longer life? To watch more tv, drink more wine, have more sex, have more vacations, when underneath that is that pain we don’t want to look at or deal with? We’ll die with all the unconsciousness we live in, and that will bring a shocking, surprising experience of horror – to suddenly have to face all that was ignored in life. All the focus we spend distracting ourselves keeps us from fulfilling our destinies. It keeps us from experiencing what’s true. On some level, we know there’s something we should deal with before we die, but we really don’t encourage each other as a society to be honest. Instead, we encourage each other to be fake – to wear more makeup, get more procedures, go on more diets, luxuriate in money and everything it buys, pretend that loving our family will make us good, that it will make everything OK. But it rarely does. We ignore the pain, and also the love. Robin came here to fulfill his destiny – he didn’t ignore the pain or the love.
He was awesome beyond belief, yet he didn’t have a way to clear out the pain of this world. He saw it, he felt it, he took it in, he grieved for it in his own way. Then didn’t have a way to clear it out. There is a way to untangle the pain and be infused with the light and love of the cosmos. That which is the energy in everything is something we can be aware of and tap into. If we looked under the surface of our limited lives, we’d see that the root cause of suffering is our attachment to desire. Once we really get that, we can do something about it. We can meditate and move beyond the bounds of our egos.
Everyday, I’m grateful that I’ve learned to meditate. No matter what happens to me each day, no matter what pain or joy I experience, no matter how much love or horror I see in and around me, I know I can go home, sit down, quiet my thoughts and allow the light and power of eternity to wash through me. It’s an inner shower. Sometimes it’s blissful. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Underneath it is a framework of true love – beyond the silly, sappy, convoluted idea of human love. Sometimes I dissolve into the awareness of the cosmos. Sometimes I have to keep ignoring the doings of daily life. But whatever happens, I’m renewed. I die a little death – each time I meditate and go beyond the limitations of ego.
Once years ago I was driving home from work. I was in my little pod of a car, knowing that I was heading home to shower and meditate. The knowledge of that meant that whatever crazy, limiting, painful or victorious things were happening in my life, I could go home and expand my being into the whole cosmos, and gain perspective on my little ant life. I knew I would be shoved out of my comfort, out of my hopes, out of my dreams, and into ultimate reality, which has no bounds, no thoughts, no opinions. I knew I was heading home to reset my life and to laugh at myself – at my limitations, at my dramas. And so there I was, at a stop light, and I happened to look into the car next to me. There was a middle-aged woman. She seemed pleasant but unhappy and drained. Her reality hit me like a sledge-hammer. I could feel how she was tired from work, and was in her car heading home to life with the family with no options for something different. To screaming kids, to the prospect of cooking dinner, possibly to dealing with a husband who wasn’t necessarily supporting her. She had nothing to look forward to. And although as a parent, family and children can lift you out of the humdrum in the sense that you love them, theoretically, in the practical day to day workings, it’s tiring and thankless. I could see that this woman had no options.
That day, something shifted in me. A kind of a subtle realization that has become a boat of gratitude, sailing me across the transitory dramas of human existence. I became extremely grateful that I got to go home and dissolve out of my silly bounds and into intelligence, and then bring that back, to whatever degree I can, into my life and the decisions I make towards inner truth.
If meditation gives you anything, it gives you options. Options to expand yourself outside of your stifled life. I’ve learned to not trust my thoughts, because they’re transitory. To not trust my opinions, because they’re the solidification of limited thoughts into a thicker personality form. Meditation allows you to proceed through life trusting that life is bringing you what you need – to learn from, to grow from, and in ways that are continually surprising and mind blowing. It’s the ultimate antithesis to a power-mongering life. Instead of dominating and controlling others, you’re using the awesome power from your meditations to dominate and control your wild, random thoughts, your unruly emotions, your limiting opinions. You’re using your power to grow and evolve, to love more deeply, to subtly move toward everything that you’re made of – the greatness of existence – beyond ego. Humility is at the root of this – without it, there’s only amplified ego, which suffocates the light.
So I recommend meditation to anyone who feels ready to go beyond their limitations. Meditation brings you in touch with who you are today. It gives you the strength and grace to accept who you are right now, and yet gives you the perspective and realization to keep moving into deeper wisdom, deeper love, deeper joy. Robin Williams is one of my heroes because I truly believe he did so much for this planet in our time. He opened our hearts and made us laugh.
I believe Robin’s death was a statement on humanity – it was a wake up call for all of us. He sacrificed so much – every day, every time he performed, to show us, we can find our destiny and live it. I wish he had come to know meditation. But if he had, he may have still been here, making himself laugh quietly instead of what he did – make all the world laugh uncontrollably. If you knew Robin, my guess is that he distracted you with all of his love. I’ll bet he meant to do that. He did that for all of us. I hope we can make a gesture back to him by loving light and making meditation a part of our offering to this world. I honestly believe it’s the highest gesture we can make as humans – to live in truth and offer the power of the cosmos through our little lives of loving and seeking truth.
Good luck on your journey into the truth! May the forces of existence funnel into your mind with laughter, love, compassion and the strength to live your destiny.