Las Vegas Ego Trip

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I am sensitive to energy, ranging from people, emotions,  music, and art to the physical environment like water and mountains.  Water and trees calm me, bring me to truth. Mountains elicit anger and tension in me. So my recent trip to Las Vegas was a powerful test of my awakening process.

Las Vegas will never be a place I enjoy. I had vivid and intense bad dreams every night. I felt low levels of irritability frequently. I was judgemental in my mind as I encountered people.  I could not meditate easily.

I spoke to my spiritual partner, who had a similar experience there. I realized I didn’t feel good or bad, or like I had failed. I found these experiences to be curious. I found a consistent pattern in my triggers.  I felt grateful to have broken out of my routine to see places in me that were holding on to the illusion of ego.

“To me, ego isn’t this thing that we need to get rid of. It’s like a verb: a phenomenon, a movement of thought that alters and distorts perception. It causes us to see ourselves as occupants of a world that is quite distinct and different from us, and to see everybody and everything in that world as separate from us. So that movement of mind and belief is what I would call “ego.”  After you awaken, you no longer identify with ego. You don’t see it as real. All the ways that it divides us no longer seem real or even rational, but rather like forms of insanity. Statements about the ego “disappearing” miss the mark. The ego is still there; you just see it to be an illusion.” – Adyashanti

I will not claim I am awakened. I will claim that I did not identify with my ego. And when my spiritual partner lovingly responded to my story with “That doesn’t sound like you,” I knew that I am just as capable of love as I am of fear. I am just as capable of acceptance as I am of judgment. I am as capable of kindness as I am of violence. The beauty for me was in noticing how I behaved, why, and how quickly my absence of truth moved me back to truth.

I left Vegas without winning a cent. But I left with more of my Truth. Jackpot!
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Integrating My Oneness

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My closet has two sides to it. On one side, I have my business wear. The other side has my yoga/festival/natural self wear.

My home has a traditional dining room and an office. It also has a yoga room and meditation altar.

My kitchen has beef in the freezer. And my pantry holds my raw cooking books and ingredients.

I have felt like a fraud at times, as if I don’t have the courage to fully be whatever image I have of a devoted spiritual practitioner.  While I am surrounded by yogis and yoginis, tantrikas and econauts…I cannot be what they are.

I had a moment of clarity in an astrological reading last month. Paddy Moore is a vedic astrologer. My reading showed I have two sides that often surprise people. The relief that flooded me as I accepted myself as I am was huge. I am not exactly like most academics or business leaders. I am not exactly like most tantrikas. But I am exactly like me as an expression of my deepest truth.

I cannot believe that I spent so much time trying to be one or the other. I am known as someone who believes in “and” instead of “or”. One of the foundational beliefs of Tantra is accepting what is, including yourself. How did I miss that?

My Pledge

By Alex Sandra Myleson

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I appreciate that you have come into my life to teach me, to push me and to trigger so many emotions that have tried frantically to bury deep inside.

Falling in love was the easy bit, now we have to figure a way through life together and ensure that of all the things that will forsake us along the way, our love is not one of them.

There will be good times and there will be bad, but throughout it all, these are my vows:

Today I will love you more than I did yesterday, our love will grow stronger daily, despite any troubles that come our way.

I will always try my best to love you for who you are and not try to change you and take away your identity.

I will not blame you for my unhappiness or bad mood; it is my responsibility to fix this, not yours.

I will always try to communicate honestly and not use the silent treatment when I am hurt.

I will remember to appreciate you for all that you do, including the everyday things that often go unnoticed.

I will try harder to support your decisions, even when I struggle to understand them.

I will try to remember that there is no wrong and no right in love, just two opposing opinions.

I will say sorry and then do whatever I have to, to make it up to you when I have done something that I know has hurt your feelings.

I will try not to be so dramatic when you leave your shoes in the middle of the floor and I trip over them.

And then when I leave my stuff all over the place, I will smile and love you for your patience.

I will not use cruel words to belittle you or to put you down to make you feel worse when things have not gone my way.

I will not keep a scorecard to remember who said and did what, how and when.

I will try harder to be interested in the things that you enjoy and not roll my eyes, edge away and wish you’d hurry along with whatever it is you are saying.

I promise to spoon you often and always; I know that you need love and protection, however strong you appear on the outside.

Although you struggle to understand it sometimes, I will challenge you and question your opinions and actions. It will come from a place of love and intrigue. And it will open your mind to alternative options.

I will try to drink the cups of tea you make for me, appreciate them more and not let them go cold so you have to make another.

I promise to try not to get mad with you when you stay out way later than planned because you had one drink too many and were enjoying your friends’ company and lost track of time. I will keep your side of the bed warm ready for your return.

I will remember that you can’t read my mind; I will ask for what I need and explain to you how I feel.

I will not use games to manipulate your mind, however, I will use them in the bedroom.

I guarantee that your life with me will be unpredictable, exciting and one long adventure. We will explore each other and the world around us and live each day like it was our last.

I’ll always remember to let you know how lucky I am that you have chosen to spend your time and your life with me.
When you change shape and your face wrinkles over the years, I will love you all the more and recognise it as a sign of all the months and years we have spent together.

I promise to have faith in you and give you the benefit of the doubt, I will honour your word as I trust you completely.

I will remember that if I ask you a question, I need to be sure that I can handle the answer first. I cannot be mad with you for speaking the truth.
Before I get angry at you, I will try to remember if I have eaten first, as we both know that this is often the true cause of my mood swings!

I will try to be the best nurse possible when you are unwell (as you know I struggle) and I will remember how well you take care of me when roles are reversed.

I will defend you against all other, regardless of the opponent.

I will not get jealous of your bike, friends or hobbies or anything else that takes your time from me; I will use the opportunity to submerge myself in all the things I enjoy instead.

I will remember not to say “nothing’s wrong” when there clearly is. Communication is the only way forward when problems arise.

Know that you will always be my priority and I will never be too busy with work or too engrossed in a book to notice when you need me.

I will always ask you to repeat the story of the day we met, how you felt and how you fell in love with me quickly and completely.

I will remember that time changes everything, nothing stays the same; just because we have moved to a different stage in our relationship, it does not mean you love me less, it means you love me more completely.

When I am insecure, jealous, or upset about something, I will try to remember that out of over seven billion people on this planet, you chose me.

Our lives took many twists and turns before we met. If anyone of them had turned out differently, our chance may have passed.

Something, somewhere brought us together at exactly the point in our lives we were ready to meet. Was it fate, destiny, the magic of the universe? Whatever it was, it seems as though it was written and I will be forever grateful.

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being ‘in love,’ which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” ~ Louis de Bernières

Freedom To…

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“People misunderstand spiritual freedom. The view of freedom being as free – from is an adolescent view of freedom. Freedom is free – to.  The ego wants to escape lots of parts of life.  Freedom is freedom to experience reality and let is pass through you.” -Adyashanti, Death: The Essential Teachings

For many years, I felt bound and constrained by my life. I had commitments like a marriage. I had responsibilities like a house and a family to earn a living for. I made the hugeness and the story of this into a profound set of chains. I truly was living in hell. It is ironic that my biggest phobia is related to not getting a breath in as I constructed a way to drown emotionally every day.

And then my life was gradually torn away. My illusions and story, that is. The Mayan end of the world was in fact the literal end of my world. At points it felt like the end of my life. And it was. Thank God!

“In my experience, everyone will say they want to discover the Truth, right up until they realize that the Truth will rob them of their deepest held ideas, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. The freedom of enlightenment means much more than the experience of love and peace. It means discovering a Truth that will turn your view of self and life upside-down. For one who is truly ready, this will be unimaginably liberating. But for one who is still clinging in any way, this will be extremely challenging indeed. How does one know if they are ready? One is ready when they are willing to be absolutely consumed, when they are willing to be fuel for a fire without end.” -Adyashanti

How did I get it so wrong? I started on this spiritual path to be free from my burdens and my pain. And all I had to do was let them go. I am free to experience life as it is – a reflection of me – and then just let it go.

It isn’t freedom from anyone or anything. It is freedom to be.

Why Do You Love Me? By Tom Grasso

Why do you love me?” he heard her whisper in the night. He closed his eyes, a tear forming sure to stain his pillow.

I love you because I do. I love you because the Universe showed me the way to you. I love you because my heart beats your name, my mind drowns in your eyes, my soul feels yours even when we are miles apart.

I love you because I have no choice. I didn’t ask to love you. I didn’t need to love you, but I love you just the same. My arms aren’t filled unless you’re in them, and my thirst is not quenched unless you are the drink.

I love you because I feel comfort in being out of my comfort zone with you by my side. I love you because every cell of my body responds to your touch, to your look, to the way you move and the way you sound. I love you because something, somewhere, directed me to you. It was my soul, and you are its mate.

Through the paths we have taken to one another I have loved you. I’ve played in comfortable places among comfortable people until I had no choice but to leave there to come to you here. I battled the gods themselves and faced the raging storms of hell until, one day, the clouds parted and your eyes met mine. I waited, impatiently, for you until that shock from my heart announced your arrival.

I know you are scared, my sweet Angel. I know you feel the pangs of fear and the dread of a journey of which no arrival is guaranteed. But I promise you this.  When the demons come I will stand strong with you at my back and you will be protected. When the brimstone comes raining from the sky I will shield you until each storm passes. When the swine and malcontent arrive, I will fight them, and when the battles are over and the storm clouds are gone I will hold your face, look into your eyes, and you will know why I love you.

Valentine’s Day Isn’t For Lovers by Waylon Lewis

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One morning as we were all sitting zazen silently in the zendo, Suzuki Roshi said, “Don’t move.  Just die over and over.  Don’t anticipate.  Nothing can save you now, because this is your last moment.  Not even enlightenment will help you now, because you have no other moments, with no future.  Be true to yourself, and don’t move.”

Love hurts.
Valentine’s Day isn’t for lovers. It’s for all those who love—and that’s all of us.

The flip side of love is loss. Even as we fall in love, we feel loss coming. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi talked about dying in every moment. This isn’t a bad thing—this feeling of being haunted by impermanence is what makes love real, sweet, heartbreaking, tender, open, raw, vulnerable and precious.

Even for those who fall in love in high school and get married and live happily ever after, their love begins anew each morning, each moment. Love is a practice, much like meditation—and, just like meditation, I and many others are really bad at it.

A year back, I wrote about one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, and one of his great poems. And I thought of it again, today. Valentine’s Day, like Christmas, is happy for many, and miserable for those who feel as if we’re outside, looking in. So it’s a good time to remember that we’re all lonely—loneliness, in the Buddhist tradition, is considered a good thing.

The hard part, as Neruda reminds us, is letting go.

Letting go sucks. Letting go isn’t pretty.
Letting go ain’t sad. Sometimes it’s bad. Letting go isn’t about birds and cages and things coming back if they truly love you. Letting go is about heartburn, claustrophobia, heartache, angst, growling.

Letting go is about needing, needing happy music, old 1950s How do you Like Your Eggs in the Morning with Dino or Greensleeves in the morning, ’cause you’re so sad and bitter you can’t breathe oxygen, you haven’t breathed in days.

Letting go is about the anger right before you open up and hug a friend and get their shoulder wet and salty.

It reminds me of this poem. I used to love Neruda back in college.

“I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: “The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance.”

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don’t have her. To feel that I’ve lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn’t keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That’s all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else’s. She will be someone else’s. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.”

There is a Buddhist meditation practice for working with anger, or sadness, or loss, or things falling apart. Essentially, it keeps things flowing through you, instead of getting stuck and viewing the emotions as solid, or self-confirming. It works against the ego’s tendency, which is always to cling to pleasure and push away pain, even when reality is painful and pleasure is fleeting.

Ironically, the ego’s tendency tends to keep one cycling through dissatisfaction, disharmony, and self-centered turmoil—and one winds up not letting go at all, but just adding fuel to the neurotic fire called “samsara” in the Buddhist tradition.

The practice that, in my limited experience, works best as a tonic for sadness or madness is called tonglen, or sending and taking practice.

So, I don’t wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I wish you a Genuine Valentine’s Day. Feel what you feel. If you feel happy, know that you are loved and lucky and that everything is impermanent, and that sadness will help you love all the more. If you are lonely, know that you’re not alone.

Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,

Waylon Lewis

Unending Love

By Rabindranath Tagore
(Audrey Hepburn’s favorite poem read at her funeral by Gregory Peck)

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

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