I am here where everything is as it is. I am free without owning anything, not even myself. I am without labels, without résumés, without titles, accomplishments and therefore I do not perfectly fit into this world where everything - even the spiritual - is measured, weighed, analyzed and evaluated. I am what I am and I express that every second of the day, in every breath, as breathing, living and constantly dying. This is the truth. This is the enormous grace of being.
1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m an international poet and writer living in Miami. I’ve been writing for many years and my main focus has always been existential questions. Who are We? How do we live? What is truth? What is love? Parallell to my writing, a spiritual practice developed. I started with yoga and meditation in the early nineties and I ventured so far that now I am at a place I can’t call spiritual anymore. Because in this realm all concepts lose their meaning. Now it’s simply life lived naturally without any particular beliefs, rules or needs. It's an utter simplicity. What is, is.
2. Give a brief description of your book, The Last Star.
You could say that The Last Star reflects the culmination and end of my spiritual search. It led to a language that is very plain and simple, and a seeing that doesn’t shy away from anything we encounter in life.
3. Why did you write The Last Star?
In a sense I didn’t write it. It wrote itself. All my poems are born out of meditation or contemplation. Sometimes it’s a voice that says a line in my head and then I just open myself to what is to come. This book was special because almost all poems arrived as they are. There is minimal editing done to them afterwards.
4. Is this book part of a series?
It’s the third book in the poetry trilogy The Golden Passage, which refers to my spiritual path. The first book, As Silence Is Your Witness, is mostly blissful (I actually struggled to make it less blissful, thinking that people might find it too light!). The second one, Midnight Transit, visits some darker places and the third one is open to everything in life!
5. The writing style of The Last Star is so expressive. Can you tell us about your methods?
As I said above, all the poems are born directly from meditation or contemplation. So I think they have a depth and a sensory awareness brought into language. I often feel that I am somehow able to translate the silence of being (or spirit) into words. Also, sometimes a poem can arrive while I’m walking my dogs! Formally, this book is a little different the other two in the trilogy since I'm not working with line breaks, which usually is typical for poetry. In general, for me it's always been content before form!
6. What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
It really wasn’t challenging at all. A few years back I stopped struggling with anything and allowed everything to be as it is. In some areas the shift was gradual, in others it was instant. The whole process with this book was totally enjoyable, every step of the way. There was absolutely no challenge writing it. What can be challenging is to live an ordinary, every day life, in your role as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, person, citizen, human being etc. That is what can be challenging, even if you let go of struggle. Because, well, life! I think I have mirrored some of those very mundane challenges in The Last Star.
7. What other books have inspired you?
In the past I read a lot of metaphysical, religious or spiritual writing. And the daily, crazy news cycle as well! Recently I have also rediscovered Japanese Zen poets and 500 century Chinese poets in a new way. I feel very connected to them personally and linguistically.
8. The Last Star is a great title. How did you come up with it?
It’s a reference to Buddha’s awakening. He was at his wits end toward the end of his spiritual search and decided to sit under a tree and not get up until he had realized the truth. It is said that he reached enlighten-ment as the last star faded into the morning sky. So that’s the meaning of the title. I should add that I see figures like Buddha, Jesus, Krishna like ordinary people. I don’t see them as representing a religion. To me religion is not important. It can even be an impediment. Things should never be taken at face value but always be investigated. What is important is how you let religion inform you in every day life. To make my point clear, some religious people become terrorists, others saints. Awareness is the key to truth. With complete awareness you can never slip into ignorance and hate. No matter what religion you belong to.
9. What is your favorite poem in the book and why?
Hm. I’m not sure… I know it’s my favorite book of all the ones I have written. I think. Leafing through, what about this one? I think it's cute in it's openness to life. And it's very short :-)
Everythingness, I am in love! I want you
for who you are.
10. What aspects of your own life helped inspire this book?
I think I answered this question in most of the previous questions! J But again: my own spiritual search for truth and freedom inspired it. It could not have been written otherwise. That search is also what the trilogy name The Golden Passage refers to.
11. What can readers hope to get from reading The Last Star?
I think, or hope, it will inspire people to be honest and aware. I think that it can show people a new way of seeing themselves and people around them. My hope is that it will give a glimpse into realms that are still unexplored within the reader. If they are open to it and want it, of course. (Hint: That’s where all the exciting stuff is!) If you choose, you can see the books in The Golden Passage as a spiritual companion guide. But you don’t have to be spiritual to enjoy them. As I said in the beginning, I don’t call myself spiritual anymore. Now I only use that word out of linguistic convention. For me there is no distinction between spiritual and worldly. Spirituality has no meaning for me anymore. So in a sense I am back to where I was before I even started poetry and yoga! But, of course, in a completely different way. It has been an amazing journey. And it’s one that never ends.
And then one morning you wake up and you realize that the heaven you sought and the hell you wanted to escape, were just a dream. There is no departure and no arrival. What is, is here. What is, is now. What is, is reality. The smell of coffee in the morning, the rain, the tree, the love, the tears – it’s all you. Everything was just a simple misunderstanding. Everything!
Everything that caused you grief, everything that made you cry, everything that made you doubt, all the things you thought would give you joy – a misunderstanding. You ARE the joy! You are your own magnificent play and absolutely nothing can go wrong. You are the call, the one calling, and also the one being called! Heaven is not only within – it’s what you already are. Hell is the misunderstanding, the obscuring dream and you are beyond. Listen to your call for freedom. Jump into the unknown
After a brief visit in heaven, I left and walked into hell. I had no idea this would happen. The scriptures never bothered to explain. I was blind in hell and kept walking through the fire. I knew I had to keep on walking, walking. I was completely lost but kept on walking, my eyes fixed on nothing but the walk. There was no question of belief. There was no question of doubt. There was necessisity, a burning force that wasn’t mine but acted as if it was. There was no question of giving up because there was nothing to give up. The resilience wasn’t mine. The resolve wasn’t mine. There was trust. There was never any choice. The madness wasn’t mine. The failure wasn’t mine. The success wasn’t mine.
A voice kept calling me; the voice that is not a voice. Love kept calling me; the love that is more than love. The love that falls outside of every characterization, the love that goes beyond relationship, the love that is not about two, nor many, nor a lonely one. The love that doesn’t have a name, the love that never begins nor ends. Freedom kept calling me; the freedom that is more than freedom – and peace whispered my name.
Illusion after illusion fell like torn out pages from a book; the story of my life. I learned you don’t clean up in hell, you keep on moving even though you don’t know up from down, right from left. You keep on moving, keep on losing, because that is the only way to heaven. It goes through hell.
Heaven is an open invitation. I know the travel there isn’t very tempting and not many will accept. But if you are handed the invitation by that voice, by that love, by that freedom and that peace, you won’t be able to decline.
Important people will promise you can win. Don’t believe them. Not in this game will you ever win. This game is set up for losing, only you must know that losing isn’t what it seems and winning isn’t either.
I’m a hero in this story, a fallen soldier, a disoriented captain. I extend my hand, I’ll keep you company on this journey where you will be your own imperfect guide. You will learn to avoid the downfalls on your own, how to jump over the abyss, grab onto branches and find the resting place. If you decide to make the journey I’m right here where I can always see you. You are my love, my heart, my hero. Now jump! You have everything to lose and that is the point! The winning is in the losing.
Slowly life taught me not to bother with identities, forms or names. Go to the source, I heard, go to the source. Cut at the root. Pull everything out.
I dared to be insignificant. I dared to be unimportant. I dared to be silent. I dared to be loud. I dared to be ugly and beautiful. Go to the source. Cut at the root. Pull everything out.
I am no one. Neither one, nor two, nor nothing. I am. I am not one – if there is one there could easily be two or zero. I am. That is all. I am. Go to the source. Cut at the root. Pull everything out.
Secretely radiant. Secretely full. Secretly not here. Secretely not there. Above and below, before and beyond. Secretely in love, and outside of it. I went to the source, I cut at the root. I pulled everything out.
There are a lot of expections on love and most of them totally miss the mark because love solves nothing. Love is. Love doesn’t cure suffering. Love is. Love needs nothing. Love wants nothing.
It solves nothing but when it meets itself, it’s called endlessness and that is freedom. Love gives, it’s giving itself. Love only knows to give but give is not the right word but perhaps the closest.
We all have it, we don’t see it. We think love is supposed to give us something (this is why give is not the right word, it’s attached to our wanting) or make us feel a certain way about ourselves. Or we think we can save someone by loving them. That is a love with a demand that the other changes because otherwise we can’t believe in love. But that’s not love, it’s simply wanting something.
Or we think love is supposed to take us over, capture us and absolve us from ourselves. Love can’t absolve you from yourself. You are love. You are what you seek and you are what you try to run away from.
But you don’t identify with love. You identify with an image you have of yourself. That is why there is so much confusion about love.
Yes, love is giving, not giving as in doing but giving as in being. It’s a total outpouring of your existence towards existence and existence pours itself back into your heart. A total openness to what is.
There is absolutely no suffering in love. All the suffering we believe is attached to love is merely failed expectations, desires not met. Not love. Love has nothing to do with desire. Love is not exclusive. Love is not personal.
The desire to be loved for one’s unique qualities is selfishness. That is wanting to be the only object of love’s universal outpouring. In wanting that you also cut yourself off from love because you yourself are that outporing. You will suffer until you see it.
Love is like the essence of an endless orgasm (I say essence because I’m not talking about pleasure here). You are giving something and getting something. There is no difference between the giving and the getting. It just is. Love is like that. It just is. You can’t need it. It just is. Nothing is made better by it. It just is. We want it because it is what we are. But we misunderstand the wanting.
It is possible to find it because it’s always here, it’s never not around. It’s in you now. Right this moment. It’s just a question of recognizing it. And I know you do. Right this moment I know you recognize it. Stay with that.
When I started out searching for a greater meaning in life I had no idea what I got myself into. Not that I had a choice. My life has forcibly and insistently put me on track for the search for freedom.
That’s how it showed itself to me, the search for freedom. It can also present itself as the search for truth, God, nirvana, enlightenment, awareness. It has many, many names.
Knowing what I know now I would never recommend anyone to get into serious seeking. Because if you do your whole world will shatter. The only ones I’d recommend it to are those who are so fed up with the world, or so intent on knowing the truth, or God etc, that they don’t care whether they live or die.
The world as you know it is the price for freedom.
It will cost you your deepest most cherished dreams (this includes all spiritual dreams and ideals). It will cost you your most cherished beliefs. It will cost you some relationships. (Warning! Do not build a new, more spiritual world. It’s still the same world, just in a different clothing.)
Freedom costs everything you are.
Who’d want that? Well, some crazy people do. When I realized what it would cost me I wanted to get off the train! But by then the train was moving full steam ahead and all I could do was to put down my luggage and be on with it. There is a point of no return on the spiritual path. When that point is you won’t know until it’s too late.
Spirituality means realizing, in a very tangible IN-YOUR-FACE sort of way, that you don’t have any control. That you are powerless even regarding the most obvious and simple details of yourself, maybe especially those. Anybody noticed? You don’t have any control of yourself. If you think you do, it’s most likely imaginary.
You can’t control yourself. You can’t control others. You cant control the world. You can only let them be free.
This is a painful process. There may be fear, terror even. The fear may be nameless or there may be scary things happening on the outside that will teach you (in no uncertain terms) that you are not in charge. The severity (and it can be severely severe) of the situation depends on how much you have been holding on to untruth, how much you have been holding on to the image you have of yourself. It also depends on how willing you are to let go of that image.
In short, it depends on how much resistance you put up.
You see, spiritual search is not about getting what you want. It’s not about being happy. Although that is what attracts most people to the spiritual field. Spiritual search is about loosing everything. The quest of getting what you want belongs to the world. Period. Being focused on getting what you want is worldly. Nothing wrong with that at all but it’s important to know what is what.
That is why the new age movement is worldly and many religions too. New Age says: “If I think positive thoughts and raise my vibration I will get what I want.” Religion says: “If I am good and do what God wants, God will reward me and give me what I want.” And you are stuck in the endless game of trying to get happiness.
If you want to be worldly, be worldly. If you want to be religious, decide if you want the worldly strain or the spiritual one.
If you want to be spiritual, be ready to loose everything and be very comfortable with not getting what you want.
Of course to stay completely in the world will not prove to be much better than going on a spiritual path. You will be mercilessly tossed in the worldly merry-go-round. If you stay in the world your only hope is doing your duty with a thankful heart and doing right by yourself and others and, most importantly, giving up the attachment to specific results of your actions. You can build a fairly happy life on that. (It’s not as easy as it sounds, though.)
It’s all up to you and how much you want to see the truth of you really are, how the world really is. Or, let me rephrase that: It’s not really up to you. If you embark on a serious spiritual journey eventually it’s not you who decide. It’s something else, much deeper in you, that will pull you and push you.
Of course, there are great benefits to enlightenment. You will know the truth of who you are. You gain complete relaxation. You loose all shame, guilt etc. You won’t feel the need to hide anything about yourself and nothing – nothing - can hurt you. You will feel like your most natural self in every situation.
And you gain access to bliss whenever you want. That can be fun to play with. Apart from that, no I definitely don’t recommend spiritual search. In my early days, just as I had gotten on the train, I would recommend spirituality to people. But not now.
If you’re already on board, relax, sit back and let life unfold. Because it is also the most rewarding (and the most paradoxical) life experience you can have. If you don’t mind loosing everything!
With the greatest love imaginable to all the bodies in this world, and to all the starved souls, trying to get heard.
Free from the dictates of memories, I am not the past. Free from the dictates of anticipation, I am not the future. Grounded in beingness, I am now. Inside all, outside all, beyond all.
This has nothing to do with perfection or achievement. It is the opposite of perfection and achievement. God knows I’m imperfect. I have failed many times. Made many mistakes. All the same I am beyond my failures.
There is nothing here really. Everything is of the mind and it’s not there, not here. It’s only my creation. Everything is what the mind imagines it to be. In reality nothing is there. There are no mysteries. Yet everything is deeply mysterious. There is no unknown power inside me. This is everything there is and I am it.
Living on two planes I try to do what is expected of me on the earthly plane. I do laundry, cook, I deal with problems. I even worry sometimes. But I have stopped escaping. I don’t prop myself up. I allow myself to fall, to fail. I deal with others, that are just as imperfect as myself. I don’t over-act. I let things take time. By waiting I find myself doing things at the right moment, with no wasted energy and fewer mistakes.
At the same time, on another plane, I am constantly flowing in freedom and joy. The meeting points of the eartly and the heavenly are accessible and I make room for them. They are beauty, appreciation and love. Those are the connection points, the pointers to truth and harmony.
In the earthly experience I never step out of my center anymore. I don’t get lost–or even if I’m lost, I’m not lost. It is so extremely simple but the mind is always looking for the complicated, and for the drama. The mind craves drama. It's an endless cycle until you break it.
Love is simple. It’s the easiest thing in the world. How simple and natural to love. Yet people go out of their way to make it complicated and impossible.
You just have to want freedom more than anything else but so often the world gets in the way. Wants and fears obscure the path. Beyond them–freedom.
I have some exciting news to share: My new collection of poems will be published on March 1st, 2015! It’s my fourth book published, my third book of poems and my first book in English. I am so thrilled and excited about this project. I’m publishing with Rosemi Mederos and her Anterior Books. It’s a small publishing company based in Miami and it’s just perfect for me.
Rosemi is an incredible editor and a wonderful person. It is a pleasure working with her. I will be involved in every step of the way and I really look forward to it.
My way back to poetry has taken its time. After I officially stopped writing in 2008, I devoted most of my time to yoga and meditation but after a few years I noticed that lines of poetry started to arrive. I wrote them down and the pile grew. Poetry increasingly became an important part of my spiritual practice (aka life!). Some of you have seen my poems either here or on Facebook.
I am also reading a lot of poetry, mostly Zen and Sufi poets. I recently read some Chinese poetry, among others Li Po (or Li Bai). All of a sudden I was reminded of a poem from my school days, in our literature book. I was sure that it must have been by Li Po when I saw his name after more than 30 years, memory yet faint.
I then remembered how I used to read that poem every day and be completely swept away by its beauty. But I couldn’t remember which poem it was. Then it slowly came back to me. First of all the atmosphere and then I remembered that it was about a mountain. From there I finally found the poem that caused me to become a poet and maybe even started me on my whole spiritual journey.
The sense of homecoming when I found the poem again is indescribable. I share it here with you. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the name of the translator and, of course, in my schoolbook it was printed in Swedish):
You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.
That is where I started my journey and now I am back and everything makes perfect sense. Life is profoundly beautiful.
I will keep you posted as we go along. I’m thrilled to share this with you! Much love and happiness to all.
I have started about five different blog posts the last week but stopped after a few lines. I don’t have much to say anymore. There is so little to talk about.
There is no truth that will set us free. There is no method that will tell us how to live. Spirituality is not separate from daily life. Spirituality is life. Life is spiritual and I have no clue about life. I know absolutely nothing.
I don’t even understand myself so how can I know anything about life? I don’t know what is going on inside my body and I don’t know what my subconscious is up to. I can only observe and ponder.
I try to be as honest with myself as I can. At least I try not to lie to myself. But even that is difficult because I can’t always separate my own inner truth from expectations and wants created from the outside.
I don’t follow any particular disciplines. No particular diet, no particular exercise, no particular time for meditation. The only discipline I follow is to try to make my kids laugh every day. I try to listen to them and see them. They are my best teachers.
I just live and let it all flow, fluctuate and form itself into the life of Charlotte. Life is so short. All we have is our relationships.
The deep spiritual relationships – where you recognize each other as you are, beyond the person – are priceless, divine in nature, beyond time and space. These relationships are always nurturing and loving.
The psychological relationships – where the personal afflictions are at play – show you your wounds and offer ways to go beyond, if you are open to it. These relationships can be both loving and destructive.
I live day by day, breath by breath. Life is freakishly real in one way and the most incredible illusion in another. It’s God and I. I don’t question God. I try not to bargain with God. I try not to judge but I forgive myself if I do. Life is. There is so much IS-ness about life that it’s hard to tell that it’s all you.
Charlotte Brady about love, life, God, poetry, writing and abiding in the heart at every moment. This is where flesh is spirit and spirit flesh in raw unadulterated devotion. Life is worship!