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I dreamed I was walking through the garden with a woman I knew years ago. We search for a suitable place to make peace. Upon finding a tree, we decide to climb up. After some time, she raises the peace pipe but suddenly is stopped by a bird projectile vomiting out from the tree in unreal volumes like a cartoon. We were shocked by what we were witnessing, “My God that’s impossible! What in the world is going on? We won't find peace here.” We climbed up into a second tree and again she raised the peace pipe to her lips. This time, a bird flew out of its nest and dove at our heads again and again. We tried to swat it away. We tried sitting still. Nothing worked. “My God” she said “there’s no way to make it stop! We have to go somewhere else. We won't find peace here.” We climbed into the third tree and became very conscious of the fact that the limbs did not have to hold our weight. The tree suddenly became transparent. Then the ground and eventually everything including both of us became transparent. We could see straight through each other and the entire earth out into space in every direction. "What will happen next? Will we fall or maybe just end up being left suspended in empty space?" Recognizing that the limbs not have to hold our weight and the ground did not have to be there under our feet, we had to confront the truth and let go of our control and any expectations. But as we sat there, the limbs did hold. When we climbed down and stood upon the ground, it held as well. This time though it was a gift. Everything was a plus to what was granted for we saw that nothing was granted to us at all. From then on we were free and each step we took we knew peace. At any given moment, there are innumerable different elements involved in ‘being alive’ which make life not only a gift, but a miracle in itself. This truth is something that we all know intuitively yet the experience which makes these statements true I think is quite rare. If you were to experience life as it really is, as a gift, in the same way that you would know life to be a gift were you being saved by superman from a burning building or an oncoming train –then, ‘being alive’ would come naturally with such an overwhelming gratitude and wonder –living would in fact be intoxicating. It would fill us so brim full with wonder and appreciation that everything we do would be motivated by the desire to express and celebrate that gratitude. From the way we walk and talk to the way we relate and interact with each other, these mysteries would be evident in our culture and society. But life typically does not seem so wondrous that it is intoxicating. In fact, everyday more and more people are feeling the need to go out and get intoxicated because their world is so lacking in the natural intoxicating feeling of being alive. The other half of the time, people spend trying to get rich for the lack of any natural sense that life is enriching. Yet to be surrounded by gifts is to be rich beyond measure. And likewise, the finest liquors and the most precious gold are but a poor substitute for the richness accompanying the experience of life's greatest truths and mysteries. Generation after generation we tell our children that the kingdom is something that should be striven for but ultimately unattainable. We teach that the attainment of such riches is reserved for those few characters of antiquity such as Jesus who described The Kingdom of Heaven or Buddha who described the Bliss of Nirvana. Yet this reality exists at every point in space and time and somehow we do not know it. The kingdom we seek is the birthright of every human being on the planet; yet somehow we are blocked from receiving its riches as the smoker is blocked from receiving precious oxygen by the tar in his lungs. There is another truth, a counter-truth which is just as true and real as this one. Life is not just bliss, it is astonishment and disgust.

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