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August 13, 2019

EVERYTHING IS HERE NOW

When I first read this profound quote by Zen Master Huang Po, I thought it referred to the nature of the mind—if you start thinking of someone (or something), it can cause you to emotionally miss them (or it).

Intrigued by this idea, I read some more of his work. Now, as I’m re-reading this quote (an hour later), it’s even deeper than I realized! I now feel that he is saying that  EVERYTHING (Heaven, bliss, eternity, Nirvana) is HERE NOW! It is actually our own thinking that gets in the way of this recognition. If we start thinking about it, we will miss it.

Our minds are the true void—there is no end to our thoughts, concerns, and desires! It is only through dis-entangling ourselves from our minds that we can find the peace that is already at hand. Beautiful!

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August 12, 2019

THE OBSERVER, THE OBSERVED, AND AWARENESS

Recently, on my Instagram page, I have participated in several conversations that address ‘personhood’, the concept of the ‘observer’, and the nature of ‘awareness.’ These are very critical distinctions in Advaita Zen…and the great masters (such as my own teacher, Mooji) provide profound pointings to illustrate the difference. (Taoism also describes awareness, and refers to it as the tao. “The tao that can be named is not the eternal tao,” is one such reference in the Tao Te Ching.) As a response to some of the discussions, I have, in fact, encouraged persons to search for Mooji’s discussion of this concept, through the analogy of the two birds, for further illumination.

As always, I found Mooji’s description to be incredible. Therefore, there is nothing within me that feels that I could improve upon his explanation…but as I considered the concept, a different visual came to me. I will share this idea here for additional consideration, only because I do not think that a different perspective can hurt the concept ;) It is not a perfect example, but here we go:

First, please imagine a beautiful pregnant woman swimming peacefully in the ocean, gazing lovingly at her large belly. As she floats in the water, her full attention is on the baby that she feels growing within her, and the movements of this baby are sometimes revealed in a small foot kicking outwardly. However, just that morning she received a full three-dimensional x-ray which is seared into her brain, and she imagines every part of her baby, a part of herself, that lies within.

Inside her stomach, the baby eats, sleeps, and moves, completely unaware of anything else. The baby’s entire world seems very clear, real, and immediate. Oblivious to anything else, it functions as it must to get the nutrition and rest it needs for the purpose of survival. The baby doesn’t know that there is anything beyond its world in the belly, and it is unaware of any kind of mother or father figure that created it.

Separately, the waves of the ocean move around the pregnant mother, uncaring and dispassionate. (Even if the ocean swallowed the mother whole, the ocean itself wouldn’t care.) An entire world of plants, fish, and sea creatures live within the sea, but the water does not carry any emotion about it. Though the water provides nourishment to all, and thus functions as the source of all life, it is unfeeling and unthinking. The ocean simply is.

The mother is the observer. She witnesses the motions and activities of the baby in her belly, and though the child is a part of her, it exists separately from her. The mother can watch the child, but the baby in the stomach cannot watch its mother. Indeed, the baby does not even know that the mother exists, though it might feel some energy it can’t explain from beyond itself.

The baby is observed, but is unaware that it is being observed. Similar to the concept of what it means to be a person, the baby is primarily focused on survival, and its primary activities are centered around that. When the baby is not eating or sleeping, perhaps it plays and kicks, but each day, this (yet unborn) child must be sure to get the nutrients and rest it needs to survive.

The ocean is a representation of awareness. It is a creative force that exists beyond the mother and the baby, but the child and the mother are within it. Without any consideration, both the baby and the mother rely on the things that emanate from the ocean to survive, and those very things were actually necessary for the mother and child to even exist (food, water) themselves. Still, the ocean does not have feeling, and both creation (hatching eggs) and destruction (drowned sailor) exist within its depths. The swirl of good and bad are present in the tides and waves, but the ocean itself does not care. It simply is.

In our own experience of personhood, we focus intensely on survival. Once our basic needs are met, we may shift outwardly for fun or work…but it is all a variation of some type of activity. (It should be noted that an inward shift for liberation is experienced in stillness.)

Beyond our state of personhood is the concept of consciousness that is capable of observing this activity without any interference. If we elevate the level of our consciousness beyond our minds, we can actually watch our minds and the play of activity that exists in our body forms. Consciousness is the observer and witness of our personhood. Sometimes, through yoga or meditation, we might experience this consciousness as a light-body, or the spirit within our bodies. Because it exists beyond the mind, the mind cannot comprehend it, and will seek to explain it away. It is only through direct experience (through the experience of “no-mind” that removes any thinking) that we know this consciousness to be real.

In the same way, the experience of awareness requires the dropping of the mind and a profound recognition of what is even seeing the light (or spirit). (In my first experience, I saw myself as a light-body…but then asked myself, “What is seeing the light?”) Another question to consider is: “What does the light exist within?”

The truth is this: trying to explain awareness makes no sense. That is why the great masters don’t even try…they simply point the way to assist others with experiencing it themselves. On a personal note, The Invitation from Mooji was the key for me to have this kind of direct experience. (In under 15 minutes, Mooji presents the Invitation here, and I encourage you to give it a try! Your experience could result in the end of your seeking.)

In my example, please consider the concept that the mother, the baby, and the ocean are all one, even though the baby and the mother might perceive themselves as being separate (the ocean they are in simply doesn’t care). In this same way, the person, the observer, and awareness are all one. Mentally, this might not make any sense, but I hope that you will be open to watching the video links I’ve embedded above and see if you can open yourself to have experiences of these concepts.

Once awareness is experienced, through grace, it is the beginning of transcendence. What remains from there, in the words of Mooji, is to simply be the awareness. Infinite space, and freedom exists in awareness because it is true emptiness, therefore it is also profound peace.

Thank you for your kind reading of this intense example! I know that it is a lot to consider, but hopefully it might have shed some light on concepts that seemed incomprehensible. I’m happy to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to add your comments/thoughts/questions below!

Much love,

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Photo source: From my walk today in Paúl, here in Santo Antão :)

Butterfly rising
July 28, 2019

ONE MUST BE FREE TO FLY

Can you imagine a pilot flying a plane with every piece of the passengers’ luggage tied to their back?? I know, it seems completely absurd…but this is the analogy that came to my mind on this early morning in Mindelo Haha

In the same way, can you imagine a bird flying with its nest tied to its back? Equally crazy, right?

So how is it that we expect to fly with all of our emotional baggage tied to our backs? Why do we think we can rise with the crushing weight of doubt and other people’s opinions held tightly to our person? The truth is this: We can only rise up if we let go of these things—and any other perceived limitations that we might have.

When we see amazing stories of people with no legs that can walk, or people playing sports with no hands, we are amazed because these things did not seem possible—to us. But for the one doing them, limiting beliefs had to be discarded in order to accomplish that which once seemed impossible.

So let us suspend our doubts, choose not to believe in our perceived limitations, and simply imagine ourselves as we most want to be—free from all burdens. Let us allow this imagined reality to feel possible so that we will move forward in the direction of this dream…with actions that are in true alignment with this vision.

As always, I wish you peace and freedom…both are your birthright, so therefore both are always available to you. Remember that we are only required to make a choice, and then live in a manner consistent with that choice.

Namasté.

love,

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Selena Santo Antao
June 29, 2019

BACK ON MY ISLAND!

I have been back on my island of Santo Antao for almost a month now (!!), but it just feels like I’m starting to catch my breath! What a wonderful whirlwind it’s been as I’ve traveled around the world continually for the past year! I am still processing all of my incredible adventures, and feeling immense gratitude for all of the beautiful people I’ve seen and met! It’s been such a wonderful gift and I’m thankful.

Today, I met the loveliest couple, visiting my island from America (!!), and I so enjoyed taking them around the area a bit! (Obrigada, Star, for snapping the wonderful photo I’ve used for this post!) The Universe arranges situations and places people in our paths in ways that we could never imagine! Today, I was also reminded that when your original plans don’t work out…and you feel a shift to do something you hadn’t planned on doing…just go with the flow. Let life guide you…it is so much more magical that way!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

 

;)!
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May 19, 2019

THANK YOU, AUSTIN!

Words cannot truly express my appreciation for all of those who came to Casa de Luz yesterday (even in the rain!) for the book launch of my third book, Get Free: 7 Simple Steps to Free Your Mind & Live Your Dreams.

I am still processing the wonderful event, and the joy I felt at seeing all of your beautiful faces! Thank you for braving the rain to be a part of my journey and my continued exploration into the nature of peace and freedom.

Please know that more than anything in the world, I wish you both peace and joy…and I thank you for the light that you shared with me yesterday and always. Once I’ve had the chance to rest and reflect a bit more, I’m sure I’ll have more to say (haha!), but for now I simply wanted to say thank you.

The professional photos from the event are available here: https://zentaobooks.com/photos/

love,

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May 1, 2019

FREE EVENT IN AUSTIN!

I’m very excited to launch my latest book, Get Free: 7 Simple Steps to Free Your Mind & Live Your Dreams in Austin, Texas!

This will be a FREE event on Saturday, May 18th from 2-4pm at the beautiful Casa de Luz Village (near Zilker Park and the Zach Theatre) and will include a talk about freedom + peace and a discussion of Get Free, a Q&A session, plus book signing & photos! Free light refreshments will be provided and there is abundant free parking just across the street from the venue.

Please be sure to RSVP at selenasage.eventbrite.com as soon as possible to secure your seat! Please email contact@zentaobooks.com with any questions.

I look forward to seeing you there!

<3,

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April 20, 2019

FUN!

Yesterday, it was a privilege for me to be on air with legendary Mr. John Hanson on “In Black America” at  KUT Austin, Texas — the longest running Black radio station in America!

The recording can be found on my SoundCloud Channel: here. (Please note that this is an unedited preview, as the actual broadcast will not be until some time in July.)

On the show, we discussed my latest book, “Get Free: 7 Simple Steps to Free Your Mind & Live Your Dreams” and my journey from growing up in Austin to living abroad on a remote island in Africa.

Since Mr. Hanson has known me since I was a toddler (smile!), I thought that our discussion was particularly engaging and insightful. I am so thankful for the opportunity and I enjoyed meeting the amazing KUT team! Special thanks to John Hanson, David Alvarez (Production Manager), and Chelsea for being so welcoming!

It is always wonderful being back in my hometown, and I continue to be thankful for all of the love, good vibes, and laughs!! It truly is food for my soul, and I am so thankful.

:)!

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P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom! ;) I love you!

Santo Antão
April 17, 2019

REST

I have been traveling (around the world) for almost a year straight, and it is hard to put into words what that feels like. While the experiences, people, and places have been great, my body has reminded me of the importance of rest.

While I feel the excitement of new things on the horizon, it sometimes feels like I’m in the clouds. Personhood tells me to pick a path, spirit tells me to relax and know that the path will come to me.

Even in these moments of seeming indecision, I know that grace shines upon me. I am ever thankful for all of my blessings of abundance, and I shift my consciousness into the space of awareness, knowing that all is well. In this space, more than any other, I know that rest is the greatest gift. All is well, and all will be well. Life takes care of life…and for that, I am immensely grateful.

:)

 

Photo above was taken at the start of a hike on my island of Santo Antão in Cabo Verde. The view was breath-taking, and the six hour hike with my dear friend from Germany was intense and nourishing…just like life can be :)

It is worth noting that when we broke through the clouds, the path was made clear :)

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Austin
April 16, 2019

AUSTIN, I LOVE YOU!

Being in Austin, Texas—my hometown!—is always a joy. Having the opportunity to spend time with my family is a beautiful gift.

Recently, I was overjoyed to spend many days with my beautiful and incredible grandparents, while we attended the phenomenal LBJ Presidential Summit on Race in America. The discussions were expansive, and the speakers were both legendary and phenomenal. [Pictured above sharing my book,  “Get Free” with amazing Ms. Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Obama...while gratefully accepting a signed copy of her new book “Finding My Voice”; sharing my second book, “unbreakable” with activist DeRay McKesson while holding his book, “On The Other Side of Freedom”; with my grandfather and First Daughters Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson (daughters of President LBJ); and with my beautiful grandparents and Ms. Jarrett.]

This is only a small glimpse into the summit and the incredible people I was fortunate to meet last week. I am immensely thankful for each new friend and every kind conversation I had…and I’m looking forward to more goodness in beautiful Austin! :) I just have to catch up on rest a little, first! Haha ;)

 

love,

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Shrine - HTX
March 17, 2019

THANK YOU, HOUSTON!

I originally came to Houston with the idea that I would be here just a few weeks ago…but that was almost three months ago! A series of (fortunate) events have kept me here and it’s been a really beautiful experience. I’ve met so many wonderful, beautiful people! And it’s been a delight for me to share my books with beautiful beings here, through events that have just sort of come up!

As an independent artist, with an independent publishing company  (that I created — ZenTao Books), taking a book from idea to finished product is a complete rollercoaster! Believing in an idea enough to commit to it, and then continuing forward through various doubts (will anyone gain something from this?!), fears (will I run out of money making this?!), perfectionist-based-worries (will I ever get this cover right?!), and external realities is a lot! It’s something that I think all creatives go through, and it’s one of the reasons why I try to support other creatives that I meet (even still, I sometimes have the next-day worry that perhaps I should have done more, but that is impractical and impossible, so it’s a thought I let wash away).

There are a host of costs that go into creating art (for a book, this can include design fees, licenses for cover art, websites, copyright fees, ISBNs, printing, etc.) and sometimes it can seem overwhelming for an independent artist (who typically pays for these fees out of their own pocket!). But I can say that everyone who takes time to even look at the art and say a kind word is watering an artist. Those who feel inspired to go the extra step to purchase the art is like the sun…not only are they paying the highest compliment possible to an artist, they are also helping the artist to cover costs for the art that has been created AND they are helping provide a pathway (spiritually and financially) for the artist to make more art. This is all a beautiful exchange of love and energy.

So, as you consider supporting an independent artist, I can only invite you to see your purchase as adding water and sunlight to a flower. Even if you don’t fully vibrate with what you’re seeing, perhaps you have a peek at a flower early in bloom and you can see the beauty that is unfolding. Your watering will help that flowering, and perhaps you know someone who will appreciate that stage of the bloom. Gifting independently made art is a dual gift that is based in love.

To all, I give my sincere thanks! You are my sun and rain and I thank you for cheering me on as I continue to grow!

 

So much love,

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Photo grid: 16 March 2019, at The Shrine of the Black Madonna in a Houston, Texas USA

 

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