Since Samsara & Nirvana, Hell & Heaven, suffering & bliss are essentially woven from the same fabric, or at a fundamental level there is no distinction whatever to be made between the two, every moment of every Life is impregnated with sparks of natural intelligence. The recognition & conscious acceptance of this organic intelligence seems to me to be freedom, and the ignore-ance & self-centered programs which hope to produce personal happiness are a style of imprisonment. I personally swing back and forth between these two apparent realms of existence. In fact, pain seems to wake me up to the self existing sparks of divinity that constitute the magical essence of Life. Albeit, over time the amount of pain required to lift my soul from the self-created hell I occasionally reside in has lessened as sensitivity or awareness has increased. Nevertheless, it seems as though pain, in all of it’s textures (fear, anger, jealousy, anxiety, stress, etc.), is itself a fundamental form of intelligence, a great instigator of awakening. Pain in all of it’s forms seems to serve as a kind of indicator or biological alarm system, which points out the sharp contrast between ego’s delusional interpretation of events, and the absolute beauty which is constantly being revealed in Reality. However, in order to heed this extremely precise warning the heart has to be well prepared, or the intelligent message of these emotions will fall on deaf ears. In other words, the mind must be capable of seeing through ego’s commentary on the emotions and the events which surround these sensational messages, and be prepared to rest in the absolute sensitivity and pure awareness of the awakened state of mind. Otherwise, the message is ignored, ego’s neurotic commentary is consumed, and I find myself a prisoner in my own creation. A life of slavery is the inevitable consequence of separating heaven and hell. I become a slave to desire to the exact extent that I make such distinctions in Life as good & evil. This was the fate of Adam & Eve as told in the book of Genesis. I, like them, become a slave who’s sole purpose is to shamefully hide from my own self proclaimed imperfections. To accomplish this task I slavishly labor in the hope of bringing to fruition my own ideals of perfection, which were manufactured out of the shadows of my own shame & guilt. Since my ideals of perfection are shaped by my own shortcomings any and all attempts to realize this psychotic form of perfection does little more than end in failure, and reveal yet another shortcoming, namely perfectionism. The unfortunate side effect of defining perfection is that I will always fall short of the desired goal, because it is my creation- It is apart from me, and therefore I can not become it. In short I can not overcome my shortcomings by attempting to achieve an ideal of perfection, which itself was shaped by my shortcomings. This sort of thing can only be achieved by non-achievement or Grace. The only way I can move beyond my apparent insufficiency or my fallen status is through Grace. Grace is the only remedy for “original sin”, and since original sin is the belief in the illusion of duality, Grace is the gift of insight or wisdom, which reveals the unity of the two worlds. Wisdom here does not mean intelligence in the sense of education. Wisdom is uncreated. “Wisdom is as it always was and shall be forever.” I do not achieve Grace or produce insight. I can not earn it no more than I can earn sunlight. It is absolutely, 100% a gift. More specifically it is the gift of myself, it is the gift of who I am, so to speak. Bliss is the natural state of being when I “consciously” accept this gift. The only way to fully accept this gift is to be who and what I actually am, as there can be no greater purpose than being as I actually am. The only condition which comes with this gift is that I do not get to determine who & what I am. I must be willing to rest in perfection without defining what perfection is. So, I have to simply move forward without knowing where I am going, free of any self imposed reference point or defining characteristics (including trying not to define myself), and discover my true identity through valid experimentation. In order to participate in this experiment I must let go of all the preconceived ideas I hold about myself, and be willing to see directly into the nature of the situation that I currently understand as “my life”. The condition implies that the experiment must be effortless, because I can not try to be myself, and having a foregone conclusion about my identity means that I am trying to become myself. The acceptance of Grace is made in being not trying, or as Yoda says, “Try not. Do or do not”. Simply being is not difficult, in fact it is natural. It just happens when we let go of all our preconceived ideas about our nature, and allow a natural form of open-mindedness to emerge. Just being naturally takes place in a spacious or loving mind, where every action is not checked against the ego’s opinions about how we should be. In other words, being is not self-conscious. In fact, it is discovered that this open or spacious state of mind is Love, and furthermore that this Love is the very fabric of our existence. As St. Paul says, “Love is kind, patient, and considerate.” Love is not demanding, harsh, or haste. Love in this context is not referring to the frothy emotional sentiment which is so often associated with the word, but rather the spacious or open state of mind which emerges when the solid & conceptual state of affairs is transcended. Love is pure experience, and can only be discovered through experimentation, or by being completely willing to test the waters of Life without allowing any preconceived ideas to censor the experience. Such an experiment is the practice of meditation, and through meditation I can allow Life to reveal itself, instead of ego defining the nature of Reality in it’s own neurotic self image. Love is not produced through the experiment, rather it is discovered. Love is, has always been, and will be forever my true nature, it is just a matter of excavating it. Love has been forgotten in all of my selfish & self-centered pursuits. Going deeper into this pure experience we discover that Love is eternal. It is not conditioned by space or time. In other words, it was my interpretation of events which chopped them up into beginning, middle, and end. In truth, Life is fluid & spacious. It does not begin here and end there. Life flows ceaselessly. Since it is without beginning or end, it should follow that it is devoid of a center. Saying that it is devoid of a center is the same as saying that it is without a self. Love is pure experience; Experience without the censorship of an experiencer! Grace belongs to no one. It is the endless revelation of Nature, which continuously reveals itself as centerless experience or Pure Love. The acceptance or rejection of Grace is my only choice. It is a choice I can make every moment of every day. Since Life is intrinsically endowed with this remarkable Wisdom I have the opportunity to awaken at any moment, even in the most painful of moments. In this sense Life is a fresh start without an expiration date. It is only a matter of settling into the selfless nature of being and discovering the inherent qualities of Life, Love, and Freedom. The practice of meditation or contemplative prayer is nothing more than preparing the heart-mind for the rapture of Grace.