Repaired With Gold

gold potOne of the fun parts of my incarnation is that I fall a lot.  When I was a teen, I would fall going UP the stairs.  In university, I would run for the bus and slip on grass. I have fallen down stairs and broken my wrist.  I fell when climbing a fence a year ago, and hurt a few spots.  This month, I fell on my own knee while planting my vegetable garden, and bruised my ribs.  Bruised ribs and broken ribs feel the same, but have less risk when bruised.

I have a high pain tolerance, yet these ribs tested that.  I would say my pain history in life would go: broken wrist, child birth, bruised ribs.

And yet, I am deeply grateful for this injury.  I learned how many people love me in my life – a reflection of how Life loves me.  I had friends show up out of no where to help.  Some picked my child up from school because driving was too hard and probably unsafe for me.  Some friends fed me.  Some friends watched my pets.  Some friends checked in on me and sent me love. As much as my rib could not support me, my circle DID support me.

More than that, it was a deeply spiritual experience.  No one but you can explore your relationship with pain.  For the first time, I understood what my teacher, Christopher Wallis, meant when he said that you get to a point in life of being grateful for everything, even dog poop.  My gratitude for what this has opened in me is profound. When I shared that with him, he wrote this to me:

“You’re more beautiful for having been broken.

People tend to think that something has gone wrong when they’re wounded, or hurt, or broken, and that healing is fixing that wrongness and getting ‘back’ to a good or ‘normal’ condition. But consider this: just as, in the context of weight training, the muscles need to actually tear (get damaged) in order to rebuild stronger, why not consider the parallel possibility that we actually *need* to get hurt/wounded/broken in order to grow stronger and more compassionate?

In that light, nothing ever goes ‘wrong’. And being wounded can be a gift.

The Japanese have a word for this, from the context of artfully repaired pottery: kintsukuroi, “more beautiful for having been broken.” – Christopher Wallis

When I told a friend I could not visit her because I needed to rest, she offered to do healing work with me.  I turned her down, because I was loving the work I was doing on my own.  I shared that with her, and she commented I was handling it with ease and grace and a smile on my face.  I absently agreed, but inside I knew that was not the truth of it.

To handle it with ease and grace and a smile would be to deny what is.  The pain is.  Sometimes I am at ease.  Sometimes I am not.  Sometimes I am smiling, and sometimes I am irritable or crying.  Why should I be at ease and grace and smiling? That is some form of spiritual overlay on how we think spiritual people are – these detached spirits walking on air and sunshine.  What is true is that I am not suffering from the beliefs I lay over the pain.  I remember the quotation: In life, pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional. – Haruki Murakami

I like the words of Matt Licatta on what happens as we grow spiritually and heal:

“There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less. That as you awakened, the emotional spectrum would narrow, into some safe, consistent, happy, resolved calm. But you are seeing that love continues to ask you to feel more, to hold and metabolize the full-spectrum of a broken open world.

There was an old hope that as your heart opened, the vulnerability would diminish, the shakiness would fall away, the tenderness would yield… but you are more raw now than ever before.

There was an old belief that as you deepened on the path that you’d be more detached, untouchable, not care so much about others and the world, resting as the great “witness” beyond it all, in some safe, constructed place of observation. But somehow, everything and everyone matter now more than ever, in spontaneous, unexpected ways.

Something new is being born inside you, but something else is dying. Rather than prematurely forcing rebirth to emerge, turn into the uncertainty, the contradictions, and the purity of the death of an old dream. For it is here that the womb of new life is to be found, where the raw materials of resurrection are woven into being by the Great Weaver herself.

While this level of trust may be disorienting to a mind longing for resolution, the body knows… the heart knows. Trust in the fires of disintegration. And the birth that can arise only from the ashes of that level of grace.” – Matt Licatta

Missing the Mystery of Life: The Last Page of the Book

bookDo you ever read the last few pages of a new book, just to see?

For most of my past, I would read the first few chapters of a fiction novel, get really engaged in it, and then read the last few pages to see how it all ends.  Then I could just relax and enjoy the writing and how it unfolded.  Otherwise, I was too anxious and would wolf down every page to see how it goes.

I found that my approach to spirituality was a bit like this, too.  When would I become enlightened? How do I ascend? Am I falling behind? Who is the guru I need next? Or what teaching do I need now?  My mind was asking the questions from anxiety, and not letting truth surface.

“Be in touch with the part of you that is not afraid of the bigger questions of life, the ones that underlie everybody’s life.  What am I really? What is true in this world of illusion? What is real? What is authentic? What is reality? What is God?  Those deep existential questions that orient you into the mystery of being.  It is not necessarily satisfying if you get a quick and easy answer to these questions, from a book or a teacher; those deep questions that pull our attention into the mystery of being rather than trying to explain the mystery, and awaken our sense of wonder.  Sometimes we are taught to be oriented in a way of thinking that conceals our wonder and all we have is anxious questions.  What is going to happen? Is it all going to work out? All are a manifestation of anxiety.  Deep questions are questions of wonder.  They are looking for an experienced or a revelation, not simply an answer.”  – Adyashanti, satsang at Asilomar, December 2016

In meditation and spiritual practice, we reach into ourselves for an experience to the mystery.  For example, no answer or idea can fulfill you when you yearn for love.  You aren’t satisfied with a theory on love.  You want the experience of it.

I find now that I don’t run from the deep questions of life, the deep experience of being.  I am more aware that deep experiences lead to resolutions of these questions within us, often wordlessly.  We have a profound experience of being, a shift in our experience and perception of life.

Read the whole book, don’t skip the pages or devour them, and enjoy.

New Year, New You? That’s Not What It’s About

For the last few years, I begin my year with a numerology reading. I am an 11, and most of my character is about deeper spiritual pursuits and enlightenment. No surprise there. 

Everyone asks what your New Year’s resolution is. When everyone else is setting goals about weight loss or fitness, spiritual people often set goals like being more present, doing sunrise yoga or switching from vegetarianism to raw foods. 

But, those types of resolutions, more politically or spiritually correctly relabled as intentions, are ways of recreating a more acceptable ego structure. That too must fall away. 

I have heard Adyashanti say that he sat on a bus bench, and told the universe he would accept anything the universe put in front of him that would help him achieve enlightenment. If that meant he would be rich and famous, so be it. If it meant he would be homeless and face challenges, so be it. No more conditions.- Huffington Post 

Could you do that? Could you completely accept what is with no conditions, no meaning, no judgements? I am poignantly aware that Neale Walsh and Byron Katie hit rock bottom as part of their turning point. 

 So how do you begin a New Year in alignment with Consciousness? I find the answer in these words:

“Once we come back to our Self, then whatever is created is happening not so much from a perspective of “What do I want?” but from a pure intention. Not an individual intention, not a collective intention, but the intention, the primal intention. It’s not an intention with a choice or a chooser. It’s a primary creative energy that comes from the Source.

When we really have returned to the Source, creation is no longer distorting itself through our wants or desires. That’s when we’re seeing, “What is? That’s what I want. What is actually happening? That’s what I desire.” And I’m no longer interested in creating anything, because I realize that everything, as it is, is what I always wanted it to be. It was always my intention; I just didn’t know it. I didn’t really want to manifest my individual intention, I wanted to come into the purity of intention itself.” – Adyashanti

Wow. What if I wanted exactly what is? How do I move into intentionality itself?

Ironically, despite everything I have said, moving into intentionality is my intention for 2017, for life. 

Diamonds in the Snow

It is one of the few nights I am alone. Mercury is in retrograde and I feel tender, frazzled and too caught up in the world.

I get out of bed, pull on a flannel onesie and drive into the country. I am looking for dark sky. 

The stars are bright and alive. But these are not my winter diamonds. 

I get out of the car and begin to walk in the little bit of forest I have found just outside the city. It is quiet. So quiet. 

When I stand still, I feel the silence absorb me, take me over. It is a meditation, a profound stillness that comes easily here. 

The snow is untouched. If you look out over the field, the snow crystals begin to glow. The snow is gracious, and takes on the luminescence of the moon. Here and there, an ambitious crystal twinkles. Nearby, another…and another. It is a field of diamonds. 

I life my arms up to the sky.

The silence fills me. The light breaks me open. 

When It Isn’t Really “All God”

There is a popular phrase in some spiritual circles: “It’s all God.”
This is meant to align with nondualistic philosophy.  Nonduality has its roots in Hindu and yogic philosophy, and is increasingly popular in the West. The foundational phrase is “Brahma satyam jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah — Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self.”  Very roughly translated, Brahman is God.  And so, we find the idea of It is all God.

But, like many ideas that are adopted in the West, the meaning behind this text has become used to defend the spiritual ego. Spiritual ego is when the conditioned ego takes on the trappings of spirituality. So, It Is All God becomes:

It is all God…so I don’t have to let go of this bad habit.

It is all God…so I can’t really be hurting you.

It is all God…so nothing has to change.

It is all God…so I am off the hook.

One of the essential elements of  It Is All God is that it is non-personal.  It reflects realization of the true self.  It is sourced in the realization of both non-separation and the fact there is an individualized expression of consciousness.

Claims like “It Is All God…so…” followed by justification of a personal reality is kinda not it at all!

Jeff Foster is one of the most responsible Western teachers of non-dualism.  He captures this idea really well:

“I am officially no longer an ‘Advaita teacher’ or ‘Nonduality teacher’ – if, indeed, I ever was one. Life cannot be put into words, and however beautiful the words of Advaita/Nonduality are, they must be discarded in the end. I could never claim to be any sort of authority on this stuff. I will continue to speak, to sing my song to those who are open to listening, but gone is the need to adhere to any tradition, to use ‘Advaita-speak’ to avoid real, authentic human engagement, to pretend that I am in any way more or less special than you, to kid you that I know more than you, to play the ‘teacher’ by refusing to meet you in the play, to stop listening to you because I see you as ‘still stuck in the dream’ or ‘still a person’. This message is about love, in the true sense of the word – otherwise it is simply nihilism masquerading as freedom. The ‘Advaita Police’ reply ‘Who cares?’ I say I do. I do.” (emphasis is mine).

The idea of It Is All God points to something beautiful, when it is used with awareness.

“And so what is seen these days is this: nonduality is not a rejection of duality, but a celebration of it – such a total celebration, that one cannot even use the words ‘nonduality’ and ‘duality’ as separate from each other. No-one and someone are actually one – they were never two.”

It Is All God. It is all love.  And love will explore that bad habit, be concerned about hurting another, change to be in alignment with love, and take responsibility for authentic human engagement.

The Present Creates The Past

The smartphone went to the next Satsang in the queue: a free Adyashanti talk titled The Present Creates The Past. I have heard it before but today the idea turned into reality.

Adyashanti challenges us  to see that while there is a relationship between what we experience in the past and our now, the past does not cause our Now. The imagery he references is a boat bow cutting through water and leaving a wake. Take for example if you broke your arm. The act occurs in the Now, and your healing is in the Now.  Anything that is part of the healing is part of now and is not caused by or in the past. 

How we relate to the past is often a reflection of the story we tell about the past. We add meaning to the stories and to the past. A psychologist sometimes helps you to reinterpret the past with a more helpful story. 

The message flashing in my awareness as the audio file played was “I am done with my past.” The main astrological influences for the last month are all about letting go of the past. Almost daily triggers have arisen since September 16 and each have shriveled away.  Such clarity of release happens in almost an instant. 

There is such freedom in understanding that the present creates the past and not the other way. The clarity of Now becomes a pinpoint focus.