Category Archives: Humility

Connect to the Chuckle Beyond the Easy Thought

Breaking out reactive control to embrace the unknown.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“All want to do, is empty my emerald-filled pockets on this tear stained world for you.”- Hafiz

This weekend, Julia and I were fortunate to play a concert for two wonderful communities in Ohio. At one of the events, our dear friend and guest speaker, Lisa Ferraro, offered an inspired talk about being mindful of, what I’ll refer to as, “the easy thought” and the thought that follows on its heels.

Very often, our mind will assess a situation and present us with what it thinks will be the best, easiest or most pleasurable thing for us. Occasionally, this will be followed by a quieter thought that will seem harder but speaks to something that is beneficial on a deeper level which may turn out to be even more significant for us.

This, soul/heart/intuitive thought, (call it what you can dance with), often prompts us to embrace the unknown. Our mind is often annoyed with this thought because it will take more effort and a certain level of surrender. Lisa gave a wonderful personal example of an instance in which her easy thought told her to exit a delayed flight if given the chance and go have a fun with a friend at a great restaurant. Her second thought challenged her to stay on the flight even with risk of further delays, because the possibility that was ahead of her at a conference in NYC was so unknown that it was intriguing. When faced with the choice, she decided the original plan was more important and stayed the course. Lisa not only had an experience in NYC that was beyond what she could have imagined but she ended up being of tremendous service to a group of misplaced travelers attending the conference. Her story and talk encouraged us to listen to the thought that follows, allowing ourselves to go into the unknown and “letting love blow our minds.”

During our concert that followed, a colorfully dressed bearded character with a large peace sign necklace waltzed in and locked eyes with me. I smiled at him but his expression seemed to suggest, “we will see if you are for real.” As we started playing, song by song, we witnessed him rejoice with his whole being. His audible expressions added a tangible affirmation that lifted and drew others out of their shell. He approached us afterwards and extended an invitation to hire us that night to sing for his guided meditation group.

At this time, it is important to note that Julia and I had been marking the end of this concert as the end of our busy week/weekend and the beginning of well-earned rest. The light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. We had been on the road and powered through a number of performances since we’d left NY mid-week. That morning’s 4:30 a.m. alarm reminded us, once again that by 3 pm, we would be able to “turn-off” for the evening, prior to our drive home the next day.

So, when I was approached by this gentleman, my easy thought was, “I’m not sure any amount of money could entice me.” Then, my subsequent thought was, “This is a unique opportunity to expand our community and who could possibly deny this wild appreciative being and his heart-expanding girlfriend?”  So, like a very wise man, I responded, “I have to first consult with my wife.”

She reluctantly agreed, as she was quite attached to our original plan, but was also inspired by the earlier talk.

Later that evening, we arrived at our host’s house and he was guiding a meditation that ended with telling the folks around him to “connect to the chuckle.” He had everyone giggle while focusing on how it centered the spirit, allowing the opportunity for connection. I thought, “Wow, this is a laughing bodhisattva, a spiritual prankster.”

He had set up a keyboard and introduced us to his students. We started to play, and with humility, I realized what a gift we had been given.

Here I thought that Frank, our host, was a joyful radical fringe element of the community we had met that morning. Now, I realized that he was the center of his own group and was acting as a sort of covalent bond, between circles. Julia and I strive to be a bridge between communities, so Frank was kin.

I have always maintained that consciousness thrives in small pockets, rather than in one big organized group. Frank and his girlfriend, Dawnzie, were an emerald-filled pocket onto themselves.

As we played, a young woman asked us to repeat one of our lyrics. Saying aloud to her, “If I could reach across the great divide, our tears would become nourishment and heal us from inside,” it struck me that part of the ability to reach across, was to listen past the easy thought and embrace the chuckle.

Posted all around the meeting room were mandalas, pictures of enlightened figures, and posters with many of Franks light-hearted sayings, such as, “Stay in the Pleasant Tense.” He offered us one of his books of poetry which delighted us all the way home. His phrases have started to come up like a play list in my mind:





-Frank Tennyson/ author of several books, including, Nod Wisely-Smile Knowingly, No One Wins When Clowns Fight, Zigzagging through the Straight and Narrow.

Enjoy a video of Frank talking about staying in the “Pleasant Tense”:

Wherever we travel, moment to moment we are offered so many riches, we cannot possibly contain them. Instead of remaining insular, we can listen for the ways we can expand and connect our circles, to spread the wealth around. Chuckling, we will find we are connected to more than we can give away. Julia and I are looking forward to nudging each other towards our intuitive thoughts more often.

Break the glass!

“A light must B light to C light and feel D light.” – Dr. Andrew Vidich

Dr. Andrew Vidich

While this week has felt like a marathon for Julia and I, we recognize the universe has been accelerating  to  help us manifest what we have been asking for.  Sometimes there is a conspiracy on our behalf.

Thursday night we were asked to sing two songs for a meditation class Dr. Andrew Vidich was offering at the Center for Remembering and Sharing in NYC. We have been reading a book he co-authored called Let There Be Light, which explores how the internal light that is present and transforms the individual is found within all major faiths and paths of wisdom.

Julia and I had a full and rewarding day but coming back into the city for the second time, we felt overbooked, exhausted and almost wished we hadn’t committed ourselves.

We arrived early and were there when Dr. Vidich arrived.  He was wearing a fez and a scarf, as if he was a bearded Dr. Who ready to take us out of ourselves into the expanded continuous adventure.  His smile steals over you and the twinkle in his eye makes you feel as if he might just disappear if you blink. Even his beard fans out evenly, curling out to greet you.

His talk before the meditation was about being humble. He said the poet Hafiz used to put a pebble inside a bowl every time his thoughts or actions were less than loving.  At the end of the day he would reflect and realize how full the bowl was. This was not to shame himself but to recognize that his ego was not as trustworthy as his love was.

Dr. Vidich told a wonderful story from a classic poem about Layla and Majnun. Layla was a princess and Majnun was madly in love with her. Because of the gulf in their social standing, they were not allowed to consummate their affection but their love for one another was boundless.

One day Layla announced she wanted to bestow a blessing on all of her servants. Majnun dressed as a servant and stood at the end of the line as Laila filled each of the glasses they were all given with milk. When she saw Majnun, she knocked the glass out of his hand.  Everyone felt sorry for him but Majnun was in ecstacy.  He explained to the other servants that the blessing she wanted to give him could not be contained in the small glass, so she broke it.  Layla is God or divine nature and Majun is the soul, madly in love with its source.


This reminded me of the Jewish mystic legend of the supernal light of ‘being’ filling the ten glass vessels of physical form. The glass vessels couldn’t take all that love and so they shattered. This corresponds to the Big Bang. The legend goes on to say that illuminated shards are scattered throughout the world and that we can search for them within ourselves and in each other.  This is called Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world. The custom of breaking the glass at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, symbolizes the launching and formation of the expanding universe, which is just starting for the couple and a sign that their love cannot be contained in any vessel.  It is also an invitation for them to search for illumination within themselves and in those around them.

In the café downstairs after the session, Dr. Vidich said “Mysticism is everyone’s birthright.”  Mysticism  is just having a direct experience of your true nature.

He said religions were intended to help us graduate. Many organizations can become more interested in our tuition and like to keep us enrolled.  While we can enjoy the sweetness of the communities each path provides, we can also let go of all that is exclusive and promotes division.

Surely, Dr. V is not the first to talk of universal spirituality and understanding but he reminded us that the shift is really taking place. I used to feel so isolated years ago when I was attracted to the thread that runs through all the great teachings.  More and more people are opening up to some form of spirituality. There is a recognition that what unites us is a common humanity that  goes beyond our personal heritage. This is why there is such dramatic, violent fundamental clinging to politics and organized religion. We are collectively turning towards a more expansive view of ourselves and one another.

Break the glass and be open to the love that cannot be contained.

Break the glass

Shining out while standing within

Stream of Light 10-30

If you think that you are the author of what is coming through at any given moment, whether it is words or any craft or action that you do, then you are in an amused state of confusion.  We are all deluded as to what our true identity is.  If we are fortunate we have someone to remind us in a loving way.   We all have innate gifts and when we get recognition for them, it becomes all too easy to be swept away by the intoxication of hoarding that feeling for ourselves but it is meant to share. Without being humble the gift is diminished, even if what we have done lasts for centuries, our individual experience becomes hollow.