Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sudoku

I've had to admit the kind of spiritual challenge (is there any challenge that isn't a spiritual one?) that flying in airplanes has become since as I child I was in a plane that was struck by lightening. Since then every jolt, bounce and heave of the jet screams to my mind that I'm about to die, that there is absolutely no support under me, not a shred of protection. I still fly and cope by deliberately and repeatedly surrendering over and over again against the fury of the part of me that screams "NO" to every change in atmospheric density, in orientation towards gravity, in mechanical vibration or sound,  even in the taste of the air in the cabin or the kind of gravel in the pilot's voice.

I've become good at surrendering in order to reestablish equilibrium in my heart rate, my pulse, my blood pressure. Meditation has helped tremendously as an intervention in those moments when I'm feeling like I really can't endure this overwhelming sense of having no support whatsoever. The free fall. I remember once dreaming about being in a circle of people about to reincarnate, we stood like parachuters in a circle ready to launch out of a plane. A man said "Let us say a blessing and forget, again."

The last time I flew I was vaguely aware that it would be ok. The sense of ok-ness had an abstract shape, like a pale putty-colored semisolid ribbon of benevolent airplane essence. After several boughts of panic-striken surrender interventions, I took out the inflight magazine and found the sudoku puzzles. I felt so dumb, I had no idea what to do. But something overcame me and I couldn't do anything but figure for mystery numbers of the grid for the next two and a half hours. I had no sense of the motions of the plane, the sounds, the terrifying destabilizations in air pressure. The mysteries and secrets of the numerical grid allowed me to completely dissociate from the triggers of the flight.

I've been feeling dizzy since the morning after that flight two and a half weeks now - as if by the act of that extreme dissociation from continual emotional adjustments to extraordinary gravitation effects I've blown some kind of subtle circuit. And sudoku has strangely felt like the most luxurious indulgence.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Long Division

Who are you now? and now? and now? There's something to be said for gaining a level of consciousness that can sustain an awareness as moments provoke our various personas. Maybe for me the chances of this happening are roughly equal to the chances of seeing a rainbow. As I clean out the medicine cabinet I see something of an inventory of these ghosts and their projections. There's a can of hairspray that hasn't been used in a decade at least. I vaguely remember the insecurity and complex of fixations experienced by the person that felt the need to buy it, this enormous can of crap that is at least 99% full. I could go on a long time about the flattened, toxic world of living within the complex in which perfection is evidenced in the shape of one's hair or the values of the DOW - as distinct from the Tao - but all I need to say is Hairspray and laugh a long, demonic laugh.

A bottle of children's tylenol brings me back to another kind of terror, a child sick, the precious perfect thing nature somehow made sick with God knows what in the night. I have to control this evil, I turn to liquid tylenol, the concretized masculine that gives me a sense of control over turmoil. Later someone tells me that acetominophine has been proven to be useless. There's an old bottle of calamine lotion.  I'm reminded of exploring the forests near my house in Virginia years ago, somehow I got poison ivy all over my face. My relatives seemed to come to conclusions about how a adolescent girl might get poison ivy all over her face but nothing like that happened. I have absolutely no idea what did happen, I'm just that unconscious. The steroids I took to reduce swelling so I could open my eye better were long ago fully consumed.

Here's something less nightmarish - I bottle of powdered white clay that I've used on bruises, rashes, and for infections. It's like the silt from the Blue Lagoon, where I've never been although I remember other people visiting it. It's calm and strangely understates its pervasive kindness. When you paint clay on yourself, your are in a vastly different state from one who is compelled to apply hairspray. You are over and undergirded by a mineral matrix that intricately, suddenly and compassionately silences the unreal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Anchors

Visible within the window of the Magic 8 ball of daily infinity - the word defensive. My own defensiveness and that of everyone else. I know my defensiveness is at the root of so much of my mood in relation to the world, clamped down clammed up. When I go to the store and the clerk sells me something at a price that is shameful, I can feel the defensiveness and how it abuses the soul, cutting it off from me and all of creation. The expectations of a broken system fracture humanity.

To my amazement, the war of religions continues - each one being defensive about treating something subjective as if it were objective and needing to prove the other wrong. Heads rolling. Recently someone complained about people who find their spiritual communion in nature instead of in churches, as if Christ himself hadn't done so for 40 days. Someone else I know is sarcastic about Jesus as if he never saw through fundamentalist distortions. Such an offensive is natural for one who makes the claim that spiritual communion can only happen within the 4 walls of a specific church or temple and disenfranchises all other spiritual claims. How often this happens, even now, with people believing that they alone have the true spiritual key.  Many have the need for the spiritual support of a community and others may need to be alone so as to absorb reality for itself instead of the promoted representations always created within groups.

We also at times run into the war of therapeutic alliances, cognitive behavioral therapists against analysts, depth therapists, humanists and others, all claiming to have the best way. The equivalent to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle came in the form of a study that showed that all approaches helped equally. Certainly there's a lot going on in the sentience of a therapeutic interchange besides the prescribed techniques associated with a specific discipline.

If we could stop trying to justify our subjective views and choices to realize that we are all subjective all the time we'd be kinder and more humble I think. It doesn't mean we have to stop believing what we believe, it simply means we allow others their specific views. Subjective is how we are supposed to be, because it is our birthright to seek different expressions of experience. There are many right answers. We don't have to justify what we need and what we are attracted to.

The intensity behind conflicts driven by defensiveness seem to go back to early life when we felt that we couldn't have what we needed without betraying or disappointing ones we loved and depended on. As if one were ever wrong for wanting...more food, more love, more of a sense of specialness, more of a sense of importance, more safety, more empowerment. What is that part of us that wants to be right about things that have no right answer? The part that wants to be beyond criticism, the part that was perhaps violated by negation, dismissal and abuse.

We've only ever been lovely fools happy for no reason or injured fools pretending to be righteous. Only you know what makes sense to you, what you need and it's up to you to be honest and surrender up all the taints seeping in through hairline fractures caused when you were resented for needing what you needed, for being who you are, for seeing things how you see them, for having your own agency or perhaps for having made the mistakes you needed to make. There are only fools in this world, fools building hadron colliders so as to taste their own blood instead of living their own human lives. This is one ancvery expensive flavor of folly.

Another way to look at it is that every human being needs some kind of anchor from moment to moment - anchors take the form of food, rituals, obsessions, practices, goals. If those 4 walls are your personal anchor go there but don't make claim that others should as well. They are walking their own path anchoring by the directives of their own inborn elegance and wisdom which will take them towards a different expression of experience, perhaps through thickets of what appear to you as mistakes and misfortunes. When anchors aren't grasped so tightly we naturally understand a more vast array of meanings.

Grimm 23 The Mouse, The Bird and The Sausage explores the way in which delicate systemic balances can be undone by peering analytical eyes that cause a fracture of confidence, that rush in to tell someone how it is  and what they ought to do. It illustrates Blake's innocence to experience progression, and hopes to leave us with the benefit of the informed innocence, in which we know we are fools, know that any other answer is more or less fraught. Knowing that things remain equal (ly foolish), we are able to revel in the particular psychic structure that leaves life tasty and savory.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Commerce

The Good, the goods. So often what seems good in not actually good at all, is not needed, clutters, becomes a burden, we have yet to remember ourselves so who knows what to buy, to consume, to sell? I imagine there are people who somehow remember what they need to remember, and so they are able to structure exchanges that are truly Good. This is the true spiritual commerce and it can't be forced and completed out of need, compulsion or control. It is only informed by the mercy of creating something truly beautiful, an offering to friends, to community, to the landscape, to humanity, to reality, a medicine for one's own heart.

How many lifetimes are required before one is able to distinguish rewards from burdens, the discernment required in order to create something Good? I know a woman with very strange, beautiful eyes, and I imagine she sees and lives the difference. I imagine the artists that create  the missives that help people stay whole are adept at this mercy. They wake in the morning to create expressions of Chesed.

To surrender to the beautiful and the Good, to lose interest in all other things, requires surrendering to metamorphosis in which it is quite likely one might become somewhat ugly to oneself.  Maybe one realizes that the witch creating the enchantment that leads to the loss of the beloved is none other than oneself. In these most subtle lessons life grants us the opportunity to learn, and somedays it seems that with one side of our hearts we learned it while the other has still has forgotten.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Night


It seems like today will be a good day, rainbows have been dancing around the room. My daughter was pretending to lick them to taste the flavors of the different colors. It was a happy scene layered with the ghosts of compelling sounds like that of a dog catching a hollow ball in its mouth and of cold dough being sawed with a serrated knife.

Light shows are one of the benefits of having a fish tank near a window on a sunny day. Another benefit is being able to watch movies like The Abyss while the tank gurgles to the side provoking reflections on the idea of breathing water. 

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been told off in my sleep. Scrooge has gotten another talking to. Apparently I don't talk to people enough. It's not easy to know what to say. Shall I recite the newspaper? Gawker headlines? No, I'll speak about the nothing of my life which is remarkably something. 

When I first read Meister Eckhart's statement about hating oneself I was put off. I know he was speaking of humility but it's complicated. Sometimes hating oneself is a habit of control based on internalizing the abuse of another whose resentment was too painful to accept. Later I saw that it references the ego strength it takes to find fault in oneself and accept, if not seek out, criticism. How does one find that strength? People decimated by criticism and neglect in their early years may not have the strength to endure the critiques that can lead to self-knowledge or subtle awareness of truth. All of life becomes about remaining numb and fleeing the site of the tragedy. Luckily seeds of love float around this world. With the power of their intoxication one can take another look into chasms of disappointments. 

The people that are revived after they die often speak of a life review. Whether it is a spiritual or mental process I imagine it can be something hard to take in. Is it ok to have the life review before you die? Is it ok to have it every night? I don't know how one would one find the strength, but I know all one's friends would be happy about it. 

Another thing I read in Eckhart was the idea that the brightest light shines in the darkness. I think he was quoting someone else, who may have been a distant relative of the first to note that the dark comes before the dawn. When one speaks this way what happens to the warm, velvety dark, and the long, cruel light? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sow's Head

In a few weeks somewhere in Brooklyn there will be a ceremony honoring Varjavarahi, a Tibetan goddess often depicted with the head of a sow, symbolizing ignorance in that culture. I think in this culture maybe it would be more inclined to symbolize desire, but those two things are related. Though I haven't been feeling inclined to align with any religious tradition in particular, this ceremony is on my mind.

She's usually shown as a red figure dancing on a corpse. Western religious figures are never depicted while dancing, you only see that in the East, am I wrong? What to make of it? In Buddhism reality doesn't exists independently, it's interdependent with the viewer and fluidly changes. In the West a more rational standard is sought and things are to be defined rigidly. It becomes tedious as people insist on their definitions of trivialities and toss labels onto everything believing that those definitions come from outside themselves. Continually indulging in a made-up universe that they ask others to bow down to.  In Buddhism enlightenment begins when someone perceives a continuum of nothingness, realizing that all causes are coming from them internally, that is to say, their experience is subjective and shapes all they react to. Realizing this can involve a terrifying free fall.

Challenging circumstances appear as real, so many try to change them outwardly and fix it. Most of us react against our experiences. There is an opportunity to quit fighting and sit with trouble (which is always our trouble) exactly as it is, with love and acceptance.

In Buddhism there's a ceremony called Chöd in which practitioners address illness and maladies by honoring them and making space for them instead of fighting them. Some believe that we are going through exactly what we need to go through in order to learn what we need to learn. The ceremony speeds that process by creating a ritual in which experiencing the malady as an expression of mind is a central motif.

In this day and age there are still some who would say that mind doesn't matter but many know that it does. Have you ever had the experience of attaining something you wanted only after you accepted not having it? Sometimes allowing hope to die and sitting in the misery we'd hoped to avoid is what we need to expand in our love and compassion for life as it is and grow in humility and wisdom. Vajravarahi's sow head mocks us as we stubbornly insist that what will make us happy is something we can put our hands on, and her dance tells us that, in reality, nothing can restrain our power and vitality unless we let it.


Monday, February 2, 2015

weeds






















philtrum

My daughter still has a cold after more than week. The skin below her nostrils is raw and sore. While contemplating that region of her face I was reminded of the name for the depression that runs from the lip to the nose. It took a while to remember the name, philtrum. It slowly came together in my mind. In some ways it could be viewed as a filter, the filter that filters out memories of one's true nature.

In a manner of speaking, the philtrum marks the seam where the face was sewn up,  as the right and left sides of the face grew from the back to meet in the middle. When the mask became whole, the soul forgot itself. Jewish mystical tales recount that before birth an angel touches the fetus on the upper lip causing profound amnesia, amnesia representing the loss of the knowledge of Torah, or maybe it could be said, of Truth. In this world anamnesis can be dangerous.

The sneezing fit I am having lately as I've caught this cold seems in some way an effort to shake of the binding touch of the angel and remember. Some cultures view the purpose of life as a quest for memory and collection of one's complicated layers. But perhaps to live in the world while remembering that other Life would be too painful. So in that sense the angel performs something like occupational therapy, the first desensitization to the abrasiveness possible in this world. I know people who seem to remember too much of the quality of love we may have known before birth, and for them, every day is a struggle. As if through their sense of love and memory of kindness they bear the brunt of bringing an increment of heaven to a barren earth. We all have a glimmer of this memory. Is it any wonder we love each other so much at those moments when something ruptures and, mysteriously, all traces of alienation disappear?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Brittle

Deep thinkers think deeply about how to pray. Many pray that "Thy will to be done." There's a little gulp that happens then, because you know you are asking to be broken then. Many break themselves regularly in the sense that they are willing to let go of what they know for what they might know. The eternal process in them reaches up and blindsides the feebleness of the ego defenses demanding to be treated just so.

It seems to take a lot of energy and courage to live that way constantly, open to the blows that may come and reshape one's sense of oneself and one's experience of existence. Many cling desperately to the rule book as the paper thins and tears easily. Imagine a caterpillar that will have nothing to do with any sort of chrysalis in which it it must surrender to vulnerability and unprecedented transformations. 

It's not hard to imagine a person who, because he or she breaks open regularly by surrendering to the will of the divine, takes some of the burden off the sacred work of death itself. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cathedral Ceilings

A human being can develop a personality with numerous sub-basements. Unknown, locked, full of decay and pestilence, embedded in tissue one has long since accommodated so deeply one no longer knows it's there. What one calls "relaxed" or "happy" may be far far from what kind of happiness and relaxation and feelings of comfort are possible.

Does anyone want to explore those dark cavities? They speak for themselves in our dreams and sometimes an incident suddenly breaks one open like a sinkhole, a little like the methane plums in Siberia are blowing open hidden lakes. It's a network of caves and hidden lakes.

I am falling in love with cathedral ceilings, decades too late. My grandparents had one in their lake house in Maine and the sitting room of the house was something like a temple to the massive glacial lake that lay with endless, effortless elegance a few yards from their doorway. The coffee table was an old cobbler's bench and there was a roulette wheel under the chessboard.

In subsequent years drop ceiling blocked off the cathedral ceiling that must have inflamed their heating bill. I've seen this in many places in Brooklyn too, houses in which noble 13 foot ceilings dropped to 10 in order to increase energy efficiency.

Those high triangular spaces are turning up now in tiny houses, arching over sleeping lofts where one climbs towards the stars to sleep in a house that might just pick up and fly off into the galaxy, the wind on the roof, the branches brushing against tin in the night.

I'm trying to build a cathedral ceiling in my chest, it has been too tightly buttoned down for too long, pulled down by underground caverns of anxiety and kept tightly protected inside a psychic tin can. When I remember to I build this spaciousness with acceptance, creating an openness I can feel in my chest, my arms and throat and spreading warmth throughout. Every single fear drops the ceiling lower and makes the space tighter, hotter and stale. I'm raising the roof though, letting the light come in, letting the sunlight dance, teach and play more freely for another moment of rapture. It's no wonder this should occur it me in August, when the city fills with spaciousness, light and quiet that comes only once a year.

dawn redwood




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Always Flowering Tree

Long ago I developed a symbolic relationship with the flowering trees but I never really new what they stood for. Life is a puzzle in which the pieces can come together only after decades. At the time I was reading a lot of sufism and the flowering tree symbolized, among other unarticulated things, the beloved. The primary quality of the beloved is that of generosity, the one who gives you a  precious gift of love, worthiness, significance, beauty even if you've always been treated like you weren't worthy of any of that. There's no hint of scarcity and withholding, neurosis or paranoia. it's as if every second the beloved would give all for you. What is the beloved to you, I wonder? Is it something like a tree that is always flowering and can't be stopped, that can't hold grudges, find fault, judge, compare, label but always dances with the pulse of your blood, giving each beat adequate space to bloom?

If that is the case then perhaps this moment is a flowering tree, a tree that is always flowering, the hoop-huppa under which one can visit the beloved, or G-d, or one's constant eternity. Nothing has ever been real except the present moment, and yet we spend most of our moments planning futures or reviewing the past, and these elaborations accumulate worries and feelings of regret, fear, and sadness. Yet even as all of this happens, as we spin fantasies of any time other than now, this moment flowers like a tree. If one stops to feel this, to feel this moment like water pouring out of a pitcher that never goes dry, to feel this current of electricity flowering throughout one's being in various tiny currents and tendencies, these fantasies of past and present and their significance disappear.

Black Elk found it painful that even as the tree of life bloomed in his visions, in reality he saw his people and their ways of life disappearing. The moment can't hold narratives, the moment is the place where narratives emerge. The moment grants refuge even in the midst of heart break and discord. It is customary to labor the present with narratives based on events, but in that case the present can't emerge as the originator of the event of one's life. The tree of life is always blooming and it isn't even enough to simply stop and see it. One has to be it and find one's hands filled with flowers.

Monday, July 7, 2014

corona
















Always hopping to win favor with the king of sidewalkers.


summer's all immanence isn't it?

The last month or so hasn't been easy for people I know, it hasn't been easy for me. It seems that things taken for granted happen only with difficulty and extraordinary things have happened easily, as if we are undergoing some kind of intra-extra psychic spacial reorganization. Even watching fireworks this Fourth the perspective seem to be taking a cubistic revolution: they were viewed happening simultaneously on the right, on the left, overhead and then there was that video of the drone that showed them exploding from the center. There are no mandalas now, only kaleidoscopes and this can be difficult if one gets motion sickness. I am reminded of Maharsi chiding his follower when he said "who are you to say you are not in a state of grace." Grace seems to claim new spaces these days. The cracks and scars have been filled with gold, and the more cracks, the more gold.

When I got back from Lewes, DE last Saturday, having stayed in a house for a week that was real and yet unreal, I took comfort in Boehme's The Way to Christ that Lay lying by my bedside. The artwork on the cover resembled a sketch a friend of mine had done recently, brilliance emerging amid his psychic struggles, grace bleeding through the cracks in despair, an image that suggests the composite nature of all of us. I opened to a page that had a piece of origami paper folded in half, as if it were trying to become an angel fish. What my eyes fell on reminded them of their own essential tincture:
33. Thus I can truthfully say of everything I look at, be it evil or good: Here is this thing the hidden spirit of the Separator of all being has formed himself into one characteristic and has made here a counter-stroke or image of itself according to its outflow, either according to evil or good, everything according to the characteristics of nature, according to heat or cold, according to harsh, bitter, sweet, or sour or however it may be.  In all such formation externally, there is only such an elemental manner as in such sulfur and salt, but in the internal ground, in the tincture, it is good and useful, and belongs to its likeness, for the nutrimentum of life, which according to the astral and elemental manners stands in all characteristics according to the external ground. 
Counter-stroke, accord, a cord, a chord. External ground, nutrimentum. All things are tied in place by divine will, as one once called Christ's iron will. Even the bitter, the sour, the wrathful or loving words that one passively seeks for the bravery to say, all in place to create networks of golden cracks and blazing outflows of exuberance.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

the grace of frailty

AS I see many that I love grow more frail, and that includes myself, I grieve and mourn. A thought blows through my mind tonight that gives me hope, the thought that each being that incarnated here as a person was truly so much more than the mortal being, and that this process of dying is also the process of the rebirth of the eternal, angelic soul. So it's no wonder that in Japan they sometimes line the cracks of broken things with gold, as if it were the place the light got in, the place where the amnesia tears.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

the mother we give birth to


What gives us the strength to go slow is love


Mother’s Day we think of the ideal mother: she makes us safe, she loves us, she is generous, patient, she is wise. This mother is no where in the world; this mother we are giving birth to all the time in ourselves. She comes when we give up on having our needs met by the world or other people and we realize that we are the ones we have been waiting for. 

We are the mother we need. No one else knows what we need like we do. But to become clear, very clear about what we need, we must find the strength to slow down. We must go very, very slow, because we are making tiny but important decisions all the time, choices that result in our wellness or our continued suffering. 

It takes tremendous love to allow ourselves to go that slow, slow enough to be clear that the choice we are making is the choice that truly gives us power. It takes a lot of prayers for clarity and a willingness to let go of the confusion that hides from us what we’d rather not see. A strong mother never runs from the truth but stares it in the eye with abundant love. She knows there’s no power in running away. 

She knows the old habits make us sick. She knows choices must be grounded in understanding. She knows the force of our desperation causes our suffering. She knows that patience with ourselves, the patience that allows us to listen very closely and carefully, to rediscover ourselves, will ease some of that desperation that drives us away from our wisdom and hides from us those internal wounds that we most need to doctor. Some find this mother in their awareness, in awareness that refuses to get caught up in the hubbub swirling around us, that hubbub that is always stealing our true spiritual power, the hubbub that is nothing more than a stream of enchantments and distractions. 

This mother is being born every minute, every time we sit quietly and honestly in contemplation of our experience and in prayers for wisdom and clarity. In the force of the love of this mother, we gain the strength to allow and understand the truth. And that most important truth is that we alone are the ones that we need to make us feel safe. This mother in us knows how to make us feel safe even when the world is a storm of chaos, she calms our blood, she slows our heartbeat, she lets us sip the true power of creating a paradise of forgiveness and peace within. This healer, this teacher, this friend, this doctor, this great love is born in us when we say to the precious jewel of the universe, Wisdom, here I am, please come in. I have all the time in the world for you. 

It is strange to think of oneself as the mother of wisdom, but that is who we are when we sit quietly and face experience with honesty, love and acceptance. And that mother of wisdom, that bringer of peace, is clearly the one we have been waiting for. 

Happy Mother's Day

Sunday, May 4, 2014

meditation as self-reliance

Meditation as loving self-connection empowers the amazing healing powers of the body. Don't let anyone dissuade you from this healing silence. When empowered to do so, the body has amazing powers for healing itself physically, emotionally and spiritually.  In this way the practice of meditation and mindful movement are powerful tools in supporting health and developing an increasing sense of well-being. 

The body is a product of electronic signals. Electronic movements of ions make our hearts beat, pulls breath into our lungs, creates flows of energy between the neurons in our brains. We are a self-organizing electronic fields. You can feel this as tingling in hands or feet, shifts of tension or relaxation within the body. The body is a miraculously intelligent organism that is sometimes not empowered to work to the best of its ability. 

Historic trauma causes constriction, numbing and avoidance that impedes the best working of the body. Instead of embodiment, the traumas of life can cause dissociation and various forms of subtle paralysis. 

Meditation and mindful movement support embodiment and doing so gives your marvelous body permission and support in healing itself. We don’t have to know how the body does this; its mechanisms are faster than thought and before thought so it is not in the range of our understanding.  

People who’ve experienced terrifying traumas sometimes lose their connection to their body’s healing power. They can lose hope, trust, a sense of self-connection and ability and feel trapped and uncomfortable in their skin. Even if we've suffered trauma that makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin and willing to dissociate from the body, we can look inside ourselves and find pockets of comfort and happiness in our bodies and empower our bodies to do their tremendous healing work.

We can honor the body and soul together through the practice of meditation or embodied mindfulness. In meditation, please give yourself permission to rest in the goodness and healing power of your body. Please rest in the intelligent interdependence of all the body’s vital organs and the kaleidoscopic and electronic interplay of body, soul and mind. Your body is waiting to love you and support you and help you remember forgotten things. It is always waiting to love and support you. 

A Buddhist sage, Jetsun Milarepa is famous for living in the mountains of Tibet in order to develop his spiritual life. He wore hardly any clothes and ate mostly a food known as stinging nettles. He never married or had children. Milarepa had a friend in his body, though. He taught that the body was a “tutelary deity,” meaning a powerful protecting force in our lives. We can see that the body is indeed a protecting as well as healing force. In meditation, we can feel very safe within this natural brilliance, warmth and intelligence, and feel very nourished by that vital electricity that we can feel tingling in our hands, nourished by the warmth that we can feel radiating from heart, from gut, or anywhere else. 

We can nourish our bodies by letting our bodies nourish us. In this way the practice of meditation and mindful movement are powerful tools in supporting health and developing an increasing and autonomously arising sense of well being.  It may be that few ever truly understood what a miracle the body is, not to mention the soul. Just as one can bask in the sunshine, we can bask now in the warmth and brilliance of the body’s natural and loving support and intelligence.



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bartleby, Silk and Heroin

What does it feel like to be with you right now? Spiritually speaking, what are you wearing? Many times throughout life I felt I was wearing some sort of distorting instrument of torture with seams in all the wrong places and a lining of burlap or velcro. 

Now, sometimes, experientially speaking, I wear silk. Even while I may be in some degree of pain. Some might say that, in truth, there is nothing but silk. 

In Chinese Jin means silk. I am not a Chinese speaker but to me that sounds a lot like yin. Most likely you’ve heard of yin, maybe you know it signifies the feminine aspect and stands interdependently with yang, the male component. Maybe you know that yang is usually associated with things that are hard and with concerted activity. Yin, on the other hand, is kind of an emptiness, a softness, acceptance, the quality of listening, knowing and discerning. For life to be balanced and for action to be holistically informed there must be a balance between yin and yang. 

I have been pushed my entire life to be something like super yang, as have many since we live in the age of super yang. We have solutions for every discomfort but those solutions are in turn creating more discomfort. Yin, the quality that allows wisdom and acceptance so often associated with spiritual growth, has become terrifying. One might think of Melville’s Bartleby, who refused to do the work he was hired for, because his instinct preferred not to and he refused to betray himself. We are all terrified of this Bartleby, the efforts of yang collapsing into yin. 

Functionally speaking, yang represents earthly efficacy and yin, spiritually efficacy. These two things stand in opposition–when yang is fixated by terror, anyway. Sometimes spiritual efficacy specifically undermines earthly efficacy so that we can recover our true identities as emanations of the divine. One idiom that addresses this relationship is the statement “You want to know how to make God laugh? Make plans.” The reason yang is so crazed and terrified is because of the trauma of forgetting this fact. It is out to manipulate everything into being more pleasurable when the thing that will bring us home may be the discomfort of spiritual separation. The herion addiction that is claiming so many lives now represents the folly of yang impersonating yin, chemically manipulating a sensation that contrives an experience of heaven like something demonic disguised as angelic. 

I hate to tell my relatives and my husband that yin has claimed me and my life is devoted to it. I’ve tried to swim along with the tides of super yang and almost drowned swimming upstream. But the good news is that no matter what suffering this heritage causes me, I will always, in some respect, be wearing silk, as long as I maintain my innocence, I will never abuse another into manipulating themselves or someone else to quell the endless desperation and terror of those who’ve forgotten their innate spiritual abundance, who have no idea they are wearing silk. I would never approach Barrleby with an electric prod or any kind of verbal violence or shaming in order to quell my own terror of not being in control of all that threatens discomfort. 

I urge my desperate family and friends to realize that they too, are, truthfully, wearing robes of silk. I beg you not to be cheated out of your spiritual inheritance. The problem is, we have to go through the eye of the needle in order to realize our treasure, to give up our earthly wealth to open the chamber in which we discover our true legacy. And the more we run from that challenge, the harder it is to undertake. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hyper-Yang & Acceptance

Every human day requires the practice of acceptance, but instead of acceptance, most people employ fixes. We have every kind of bandaid, we strive for any kind of plan to ameliorate any kind of discomfort. 

Acceptance sounds so simple, but it is the work of the eons. We are part of an evolutionary process in which nature whittles form and function into matter. What’s she doing, what is her plan? We don’t know yet. But we can certainly see that a lot has been accomplished because look how much there is to love and nourish us in this world of our human and nonhuman relations. 

Not every child is born capable of adequate adaption to the conditions of this world. This is so hard to accept. I just passed a scene in which a hawk was being chased and attacked by 3 or 4 blue jays, and it appeared to have something in its talons. Perhaps it robbed the jays’ nest or grabbed one of the bird’s mates. I don’t know. I do know that jays themselves are nest robbers, and that we humans certainly do this in our own ways.

Terrible vulnerability played out in this scene, and many will want to judge the moral stance of the players. Where does accepting come into this? To accept this, we have to accept our own vulnerability, our own aggression and perhaps some very overwhelming emotions that come along with it, like terror, anger, dread and grief. 

Why would one want to do this anyway? When one passes through the door of acceptance one is reunited with truth. The writing’s been on the wall all the time, the story of our vulnerability and the inevitability of weakness, decline and death. The difficult elements of fallibility, imperfection, ignorance, miscalculation, ineptness, the state of being mismatched to a situation in which we would prefer to be the piece that makes all the parts work together perfectly. The number of iatrogenic deaths is a constant reminder of the futility of our hyper yang fantasies. Thy hyper yang world, in denial of our limitations, resents us for not being perfectly comforting, perfectly providing, for not quelling all fears, discomforts and inconveniences. 

Everyone fails. Everyone fails in some way to conform to the model of the hero who becomes our hope for lasting well-being. When we walk through the door of acceptance we can be with ourselves in honesty and be with each other without fear, with nothing to hide, surrendering to a process much greater than ourselves. 

But we are not totally helpless. Wisdom sneaks in, and guides compassionate action, action which often, instead of quelling the fears that keep us stuck running in neurotic circles, inducts us once again into the actual growth that is only and must be accompanied by considerable discomfort. This is the wisdom that inducts us into LIFE and our part in a sublime and infinite process of divine expression. 

In meditation I can imagine spending time allowing myself to become aware of what limitations I am naively denying in hopes of pleasing the complex with the intention of best orienting myself to my true resources. This is rehabilitating the yang through the power of yin. That is the power of acceptance. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cyclops Morning

This morning has me thinking that monotheism is having a hard time seeing non-duality with two eyes.

"God is one as nothing else is, and if it can be said, He is one-est." St. Bernard of Clairvoux, De Consideratione 5

"Out of medusa's wound, two mythical entities emerged: Pegasus the winged horse and the one-eyed giant Chrysaor, the warrior with the golden sword. The golden sword represents penetrating truth and clarity. The horse is a symbol of the body and instinctual knowledge, the wings symbolize transcendence. Together, these aspects form the archetypal qualities and resources that a human being must mobilize in order to heal the medusa (fright paralysis) called trauma. The ability to perceive and respond to the reflection of Medusa is mirrored in our instinctual natures."
Paul Levine, In an Unspoken Voice 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Secrets from Ourselves

It appears, with all the dreams I've disclosed here, I may not have a sense of the value of a secret. Perhaps I'll never appreciate secrets fully, or privacy. I don't know too many people who harbor secret treasures like a personal wealth, but I've known a few.

Last night I dreamed I accidentally shot myself up with morphine. I was waiting for some wonderful state to overcome me but the only thing that happened was that a silver-dollar sized circle on the top of my left hand started to feel strangely solid and distinct. Seems like a coin in the hand is more useful than  a coin on the back of a hand.

One reason people don't share their inner worlds is because separation anxiety turns us towards fitting in. Separation anxiety is not just for toddlers, as adults we experience it as a loss of critical resources and a collapse of networks. It is indeed a threat to survival, unless one is independently wealthy. One has to assiduously maintain a very particular veneer to remain an icon of comfort and hope to one's milieu. And milieu's need lots of comforting. So that inner world, please, keep it to yourself.

In my dream my two older brother figures who were morphine addicts kept feeding me these big sandwiches, which I happily ate. They left me alone at one point and that's when I accidentally shot up, not ever expecting that I would. Implanted in my hand was a self-medicating device which I accidentally knocked against something, releasing the drug.  The world didn't fall apart, as I expected it to.

It's amazing what we do unconsciously and automatically, the drives we hide from ourselves. We think we are simply the most responsible, kind people while we unconsciously dig at and and undermine ourselves and others. On some level we feel bad about the things we do but most likely project that guilt onto others whose behavior we are happy to find fault with. It seems like a vicious circle.

I'm not sure what motivates me to post such personal things as dreams and inspirations, but I know that when I do life becomes more rich and magical. That aside, there are things that I haven't said and couldn't bring myself to. When I used to try to tell people certain very sacred things I've experienced I would become hoarse and my throat would go into spasm. Now I rarely try although with certain people the story comes out easily. It remains a challenge, negotiating what I can and cannot say, and how I need to say it, whether I'm throwing a pearl before swine or swine before pearls. I'm afraid the journey of understanding and being aware of one's impulses yields some disquieting wardrobes.

Friday, March 7, 2014

metaphor for oscillating system?

Well, maybe…warp and weft? Or pode and antipode between which a taught wire has been stretched. Some people seem to have a good handle on the idea of duality, how it creates dichotomies at the same time that it holds things together. I have no sense of the non dual at this moment. Except that I know there would be no satisfaction if no dissatisfaction, no equilibrium if no disequilibrium.

No sweet dreams for me last night. No balloons, no treats in basket. Gamma rays, nuclear contamination, strange industrial domiciles, a home solid building threatening to break apart under my feet, tsunami. Was this a face of the divine? I saw the water surge through a window to my right, it was brownish and dirty and looked very wavelike. Then I felt the house below me start to move. I was surfing in the wide hallway of the building on hands and knees, the house itself my board. Perhaps I've been listening to Drunken Love too much on the radio? I was just waiting for the moment when it would all fall apart.

My son's homework last night was a page of true and false questions having to do with energy waves. I would have had to look up the answer to each question. Amplitude, crest, wavelength. Violet has the shortest and red, the longest. Just a little blue in there mixing things up I guess. Is there a relationship between the short temperament of the violent and the short wave of violet? What do you call our dual world?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dreams of the Divine

Life is depleted when I have no sense of the divine, and yet there are many images of the divine that do not seem to fortify my life in any way, although they may, at some later point.

The images that inspire rise like waves on the ocean and push me forward onto the chest of the ensouled, until some current takes me out to sea again. Life seems to be an oscillation of dissolution and  rearticulation, of confusion and deprivation and equilibrium and contentment.

I have been very content when my living dream imbibed a palpable sense of the holy spirit which came to me in the form of hoops, wheels and circuits in some ways reminiscent of the breast of birds.
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That bottle has been put away down in the wine cellar, it hasn't been served in a while.

The night before last I dreamed of fire, of a telephone pole across from my house being on fire, of fire blowing in from the left and igniting things. The fire was bright and brilliant at the same time that it was terrifying. Last night I remember dreaming of being fascinated with a girl in my dream, she was between childhood and adulthood, a sort of go between. She was a chubby African American girl wearing exuberant styles, terry cloth red shorts. She had a 2 foot tall afro that separated into three sections and was carrying three helium balloons in her right hand. In her left hand she carried a basket filled with good things to eat that she would deliver to a man that managed the children.

I keep seeing this light-hearted trinity imagery as it seems like the generosity of spring turns towards us. As cold as it is, the sun shines brightly and there's the potency of new growth in the air around us, hunched in between things ready to weave together new life, growth, a new mandala. I'm going to keep revisiting this wonderful dream figure today, she gives me a sense of the divine that's human, humble and unpretentious, solid and yet light, generous and exuberant.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reunion by Fire

One of the most horrible-wonderful stories I ever read was “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson. I reread it recently- as the child lit the last match to keep warm and succumbs to hypothermia and starvation she sees her dead grandmother appear alive before her in a way reminiscent of the flame’s warmth and hope. It’s interesting that fire can represent this kind of warmth and hope but also the terrible wrath implicit in the fires of hell. 
Cold or hot will do but not lukewarm, I’ve read. In this world we can slip off into complacent holding patterns which threaten an inertia to numb and anesthetize our yearning for deep love, connection and true comfort. Reconciliation and reunion seem to require the love of beauty and origin or the suffering  that renders inadequate coping with disappointment for what it is. One cannot live life selling matches, passing on the potential of life commercially without feeling any of the heat and light of ensouled reunion with our naked essence or another’s. In this way moments surrounding death are more drenched in life than those long holding periods where we work to avoid what is called “bad” and work to accumulate what is called “good.” How long can one tolerate a separation from life, from soul, from origin? How long can one go without laying eyes on the sun?

The wrathful fires of hell seem to embody God’s rage at our capacity to forget our origin, our divine source, forget him, forget ourselves - for we are his work. Unlike snowflakes that melt soon after they’ve graced creation with their beauty, humans in their unique and specific formulation can decide to either hold true to their manifestation and its implicit longing and risk or erase themselves because the pain of authentic life burns and tears too greatly. 

Even some who have succumbed to psychological dismemberment due to the heartbreak of disappointment have recovered, at last for a while, to be reunited with their endowed glory. The story of Jean, a schizophrenic child treated by Erik Erikson, shows how, with heroic love and courage her mother helps her integrate her body and senses into her consciousness after natal separation trauma undermined her hope of having her need for love met and caused her to erase her humanity, her human vulnerability. With support Jean’s fingers became her allies in creating a sense of an ordered, trustworthy and wonderful world as well as a feeling of being worthy of love. First came finger plays that represented the peace she’s made with the world, and not long after that her mother realized she was playing familiar tunes on the xylophone. Before long she became a consummate, sensitive and versatile piano player. 

Jean didn’t ever recover normalcy, she couldn’t habituate by generalizing a sense of trust to her world and she never developed normal social skills. After many years her difficult behavior necessitated her institutionalization. Those years when she lived at home and had healed enough to learn piano and vibrate with the music of the world mirror an earlier time when, even though she could tolerate no human connection, she ecstatically danced with her beloved eggbeaters and other safely non-human objects. While she lost humanity, she never lost love, and lived with more love raging inside her than most sanely habituated individuals ever will. Surprisingly, to read about Jean as described by Erikson is to catch the fire of life again. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts of St. Anthony

The house smelled like burning plastic for days. I opened the windows in winter to let the air in, air that gripped us with cold and did little to diminish the smell of evil. My husband put the pan with the singed handle on the ground outside the back door, the square one good for grilled cheeses. It's still there, filled with water. Sometimes needles of ice articulate the surface, other times it boils with falling rain drops. Cooking on its own, like nature has always done, weightlessly, while the civilized drudge up and down staircases.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

blue

I dreamed I was the blue until I saw the blue
I saw the sunset and felt it melt my chest.
Each dawn was a radiant bleed of passion.
I'm not me anymore, I'm a man I don't know
His eyes are closed and he's smiling a little.
I'm not me, I'm a leaf, dried, brown and rising,
with a central line starting to burn.
When I die, I won't see the sky, I'll be it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

dharma walk






Lately it seems like the scenes of life somehow arise from within like dreams. "...that the world is an illusion...is the profound ambrosia of the buddha's teaching." It nearly convinces me not to care about what's won or lost through effort and striving, or think that I ever had any real control over it.

This morning walking the dog first I found a book about cloud formations, and then a little while later an edition of Nagarjuna's Precious Garland. I felt like I'd been following the finger of Dharma around the mostly empty streets of Windsor Terrace. Summer is quiet.

The parsley worms that I keep finding on the fennel growing outside are likewise quiet, mysteriously appearing and disappearing, growing fat in a matter or days, elegantly changing their designs. Maybe they'll become swallowtails, maybe they won't. All I know for sure, they are as fond of fennel as I am.

Sunday, June 16, 2013