“The Perfect Morning”

time lapse photography of multi-step waterfalls

Wake up

Meditate and pray

Read sacred scriptures

Tend to the garden

Hike through the forest

Swim in a mountain creek

Write some poetry

Eat breakfast mindfully

Give thanks to the One

To be alive another morning.

“6 Words To Bring You Peace”

rule of thirds photography of lit candle

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” -William James-

Back in the summer of 2013, I attended a meditation class at a now defunct center in Nashville, Tennessee in an effort to find some inner peace in my life. The teacher of this weekly Sunday evening dharma session was a kind and gentle man named Dave Smith. Smith, who is a highly revered teacher in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, uses his practice to aid addicts in recovery.

In our first meeting, I was instantly captured by Dave’s rare combination of authenticity, wisdom and genuine compassion. In that first dharma session, I can vividly recall Dave sharing with us six words that helped him through his own periods of personal suffering: “This is how it is now.” These six words, he told us, had the transformative power to help all seekers of truth through adversity. Not long after this first meditation class life threw me an opportunity to put this mantra into practice.

On the Friday before finals week, I was napping at my house when a text message came through from one of my colleagues at the college I taught at. The message said: “I am so sorry for what is happening to you! I saw campus safety clear everything out of your office and remove your faculty name tag from the door. For what it’s worth I thought you were an extremely positive influence for the students.”

 As I read the message I immediately felt a wave of panic wash over me. I scrambled over to my lap top and signed into my campus email. But to my surprise the college had already locked me out of the account.

Fearing for the worst, I desperately tried phoning my dean but the college was closed for the weekend. I then checked my personal email and sitting in my inbox was a formal two sentence message from the Vice-President of the college requesting an “employment related” meeting with me the following Monday morning. Reading between the lines, I concluded that I had just been let go from my job.

While I had admittedly been a controversial figure on campus for my outspoken lectures and reputation as a “hippie” professor, I was very well liked by the students and had forged a deep connection with them. To me, that is all that mattered. But clearly the administration saw things through a different lens. I was perceived as one who had gone too far in his poking and prodding of the status quo on campus.

Moments after closing the email from the vice-president of the college, feelings of intense anger erupted within me and clouded my good sense. Much like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, I began screaming and stomping around the house to the annoyance of my beloved partner and dog. Then a dizzying array of questions began racing in my mind:

How could the college dismiss one of their most popular professors? And how could the college do so in secret like they did?

As these feelings of indignation brewed, a new round of frantic questions emerged: how would I pay my bills? How could I find another teaching job on such short notice? What would my friends and family think when they found out I was fired?

 As my bruised ego tried to assert control over the situation, I suddenly heard a small but still voice within utter the six words that Dave Smith had taught me less than a year before at that summer dharma session: “This is how it is now.” The small and still voice within (which I now recognize as my atman, true self or soul) spoke these words in a rather jovial and even amused tone.

 I silently acknowledged the wisdom of this voice and I began to meet the news with calm detachment. “This is how it is now,” I repeated over and over again to myself. That same evening, I began to feel the weight of the day’s shocking news fade into the background like waves gently crashing onto shore.

 For the rest of the weekend, I decided to use Dave’s mantra to explore the depths of the suffering I was experiencing. So, for the next two days I sat in extended periods of meditation and kept repeating the mantra: “This is how it is now.” While repeating it, I also practiced sending feelings of love and kindness (Buddhists call it “metta” practice) to everyone involved in this uncomfortable drama including the President of the College, (who I later found out ordered my ouster) the Vice-President and all the students who would later learn of my dismissal.

All weekend, I continued to repeat the mantra and sent feelings of loving kindness to all impacted parties. To my pleasant surprise, I began to feel a profound sense of peace and acceptance for my predicament. In the end I knew that everything would be all right.

 Finally, Monday morning arrived and I drove to campus for the last time. As I drove the half hour from my apartment in Nashville, Tennessee (where I was living at the time) to the campus in the suburbs, I once again repeated the six-word phrase to myself: “This is how it is now.” I then began to pray that something positive would come from this final meeting.

After the short commute, I parked my car and walked the short distance to the office of the Vice-President as requested. I knocked on the door and he gave me permission to answer. I walked in and saw two officials from the human resources department seated next to him.

George, the Vice-President, then spoke: “With deep regret we have decided to move in a different direction. As of this moment, you are no longer an employee at this campus.” Before I could really muster a reply as to why I had been dismissed, one of the officials from human resources cut me off.

She said that the college would be paying me a full year’s salary in exchange for my agreeing not to step foot on campus again. Stunned by this striking good news, I quickly signed the agreement. A few months later, my partner and I fulfilled a dream of ours and moved to the Great Smoky mountains to live the year immersed in the transcendent beauty of nature. We still continue to live in this humbling setting today.

Being dismissed from the college wound up being a major turning point in my own spiritual journey. Since then, I have come to truly believe that positive things happen to us when we are receptive to meeting difficult moments with calm detachment and equanimity. “This is how it is now,” is a mantra that can help you (just as it helped me) transcend the kinds of suffering that are crucial to our own awakenings.

“Lifting All Illusions”

silhouette of person standing on rock surrounded by body of water

In the Darkness

I see

That what surrounds me

Is so wild and free….

So, what does it mean

To be the one

Dancing in the breeze

with the people I believe

Who are filled

With the love of pure intentions?

Listen and receive

The message

From the spirit of God

Within you.

Mindful Musings: Apr 29

“The Train Called Life”

orange train between fall trees

I ran away

To tell the world

Not to be afraid

And not to live in fear

For the truth rings clear

When our feet

Are firmly planted here

In the totality of this moment….

The timeless flow

Stops for no one

So, hop on board

The train called life.

Mindful Musings: Apr 19

“Many Paths to the Top”

person in red top waling beside mountain

Picture hiking up a great and formidable mountain. Then take note of the numerous routes that can be traveled to its venerable peak. Some routes up are smooth and direct. Others, more jagged and circuitous. Still some paths to the top are exceedingly difficult and maybe even borderline daunting to the novice hiker. Yet, all routes end at the same majestic peak. Here’s the catch though: You don’t know that there exist alternative routes up until you arrive at the mountain top and see other hikers emerge from divergent trails. It is only then when you realize that all paths lead to the same breathtaking pinnacle of oneness. Our differing spiritual faiths are those paths and the mountain top is the God/Goddess that they all lead too. There is no correct way to IT. There is not only one savior. All faiths equally ascend to the same exalted peak of peace and stillness.

Mindful Musings: Mar 12

“The Four Wise Rules”

By: Forrest Rivers

man sitting on brown wall

The best dwellings are built

Simple and plain

The best teachers are awakened

Without even knowing

The best leaders are always mindful

Of their actions

And the best servants are those

With open hearts…..

Simplicity

Humility

Mindfulness

Compassion

The four wise rules of life.

Mindful Musings: Mar 5

“The Secret of Emptiness”

By: Forrest Rivers

cougar on brown rock formation

A disciple approached his master and asked:

“Venerable One, what is Emptiness?”

The master smiled warmly and pointed his finger

At jagged snowcapped peaks, off in the distance

The disciple bowed and began walking

In the direction of the glorious mountains

Then, suddenly, he froze in terror as a mighty cougar

Crossed his path

The disciple shot a frightful look at his master

Who now calmly stood pointing his finger at the wild being

After a few tense moments, the cougar slowly walked away

And the master lowered his finger

Bewildered, the disciple inquired of the sage once more:

“But I thought you said the mountains were emptiness?

 How can the cougar be it too?”

The master smiled and again pointed his finger

But this time at his disciple’s feet

The disciple looked down and then back up

Only to see the same cougar cross his path again

He turned in horror and ran as fast as his feet would carry him!

When the cougar was finally out of sight,

the disciple stopped to catch his breath

And he attained instant enlightenment!

Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE.

Mindful Musings: Feb 28

“The Great Self”

By: Forrest Rivers

gray-and-black mallard ducks flying during day time

When the wind whispers

When the birds cry

When the thunder rumbles

And when the Earth shakes

Who is there to report

The glorious news

Of THIS moment’s promise?

When the wind whispers to your heart

When the birds cry in the trees

When the thunder rumbles overhead

And when the earth shakes beneath your feet

The transcendence of little self

Gives way to the heaven

Of the Great Self.

Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE

Mindful Musings: Feb 21

“Purify Desire”

By: Forrest Rivers

forest trees

You and me

Can’t you see

That we are one

Family….

In the night

My soul can breathe

Keep me free

From toxicity….

The light is in you

The light is in me

Pure spirit is our fire

Wake up and be ….

All our desires

Are make believe

Seek only wisdom

Like silent trees.

Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE

Mindful Musings: Jan 31

“Great Virtues”

By: Forrest Rivers

text

The world’s greatest masters

Are not all born wise

The world’s tallest mountains

Took eons to rise

All baby birds

Must first learn to fly

And even brother moon

Waits to emerge in the night….

What makes you think

Your path is any different?

Be patient

Be faithful.

****I have a new book that just hit amazon. The title is: COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening. Click Here If you buy a paperback copy and leave a review of the book on Amazon I will send you a free copy of my first book: The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings. Just contact me so I know where to send the book! So much peace to everyone and thank you for reading my blog!