Mending the World

I’ve noticed a curious thing since Nelson Mandela’s death three days ago— astounding grace occurring for both my friends and myself. It’s the kind of grace that doesn’t necessarily make “things” better but rather opens the clouds of patterned oppression revealing insights of loving-kindness, generosity and acceptance—correcting course from obstructive thinking to open heartedness. It is as if all that love, patience, and compassion that lived in the one man, Nelson Mandela, was like a dandelion flower. When he passed from his worldly form all the little winged seedlings were cast abroad over the world.

I heard a speech that Nelson Mandela delivered in Britain right after his release from prison. With his deep soulful smile he said to the British people, “I love every one of you.” He wasn’t just saying I love you collectively as “a people” he was speaking into the heart of each individual. He was a true Bodhisattva.  In Judaism there is a principle called Tikun Olam—to mend the world. We are not obliged to complete the job, neither are we exempt from trying, from doing our part in making a better world. Nelson Mandela’s part in mending the world was very large.

Here is an idea to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Decide for one day to look into the eyes of every person you encounter as if you are looking into the eyes of Nelson Mandela. See them as Bodhisattvas, as loving menders of the world, as one who through patience and loving-kindness can and has changed history for the betterment of thousands of people. Notice how you feel. I’m going to try that this week.

Nelson MandelaLet me know in the comments section below what, if anything occurred to you. I’m curious to know how letting your heart do the thinking might affect your life and your relations.

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Find the Meaning, Mine the Pearl

Tonight is the first night of Hanukah. It comes very early this year, following a lunar not solar calendar. It won’t come this early for another 70,000 years. I wonder if human beings will still inhabit this planet in 70,000 years and if so will they be using this same calendar and method for measuring time?

The ritual for Hanukah, which comes at the darkest time of year, is to light candles for eight nights, increasing by one each night—first night one, second night two, third night three and so on up to eight points of light when the candelabra (called a Hanukiah) is brightly lit, signifying the return of the light. Whatever other stories are told about Jewish survival, this is a ritual to increase the light within ourselves at the darkest time of year.

I’ve felt the darkness so densely in my own being recently. Not just because of the extremely short days and the cold that my blood still hasn’t acclimatized to. (I live in Taos at 7,000 ft. above sea level, and I was born on the Mediterranean.) But also a darkness in my mood, in my emotions—a sinking sense of meaninglessness as strange Hieronymous Bosch images parade through my mind, like a dreamscape made of phantom thoughts signifying nothing of any true value.

I haven’t lit Hanukah candles for years but I feel the need this year to draw the light, day by day back into my heart. My prayer as I struggle to increase the light is this: If this waking world is a dream being dreamed by a great dreamer, as the aboriginal people of Australia believe, I ask the dreamer to find the meaning of this dream and mine the pearl of great price—the purpose of this life.

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From Samhain to Resurrection

I wrote this poem about four years ago and read it yesterday at a poetry salon. We are approaching Halloween which in Gaelic tradition is called Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). It is a time of year, between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice when the veil between worlds is thought to be thin.

Leaning into shadows
Under one night sky
The veils between I and not I
Translucent

Now is time
To devote yourself
To Eternal Life

Stand from the steaming waters
Surrounded by snow
Raise right hand above
Commit Left hand below

I will chant an old theme
Come thou holy name, my name
Your name
Come rouse the dead
Who have not yet lived

Come Invite what’s been banned
From the banquet
Of life

Pull the pin from your throat
Cast forth the grenade of your voice
Leave behind what has made you small
Judgment, Fear, Denial

Now is the Time
Become great
Become dawn
Become awake

Songs of Freedom

In Robert Moss’ blog post about Mircea Eliade he quotes:

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, can sterilize spiritual creativity so long as a man is—and realizes himself to be—free. Only the loss of freedom, or of the consciousness of freedom, can sterilize a creative spirit.”

I hear Bob Marley’s voice singing:

“Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships…

But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly…

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.

Won’t you help to sing this song of freedom”

Our songs of freedom are sung through our creativity. Yesterday I sat at a small book fair table helping to promote the books published by Nighthawk Press, Including my soon to be published memoir, Love on the Brink of History. People came and looked but not many books were actually sold. Bonnie Lee Black and I talked about how more and more people are creating books even as there are fewer and fewer people who actually read books—a strange dichotomy. Some freedom emerges through the creative urge of humanity that simply hopes to be met by the witness/receiver. We have stories we must tell.

I sometimes have the image that all these books that don’t get sold or appreciated by the “merchant ships”—our current market driven world—will be a goldmine of understanding for those who inhabit this planet long after we have gone. Our stories are laying tracks for those who wonder what kind of world this was, back in what they called the first part of the 21st century.

We are the ancestors of future generations born from our species and/or future inhabitants of this planet who come from somewhere else. Despite the pirates now working to greedily claim the bounty of our planet and our freedom, we strive forward with “the consciousness of freedom” in our individual and humble ways, through our God given freedom—the creative spirit.

 

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What do I love

In Robert Moss’ book “Active Dreaming” he presents a practice to define your personal truth. I’ve attempted below to answer the questions in the practice. It is a fun exercise. Try it. I expect if I answered these questions again at a different time the answers might be different.

1) What do I Love?

I love being warm. I know that because I don’t love being cold. I love a clean well-equipped, simple, stable shelter. I love feeling safe. I love the sun. I love my close friends and family. I love Annie, my doggy friend. I love when insects visit me, especially the praying mantis. I love comfortable furniture. I love turning on the faucet and having instant hot water and clean drinkable cold water. I love a good cup of Earl Grey tea. I love laughing with Lyn. I love comfortable shoes and clothes that also look good. I love sitting by a fire. I love communing with another person on deep levels. I love really good chicken soup. I love a penetrating poem. I love when I see a deeply created work of art and really understand it. I love having deep insights that feel like the light has just been turned on. I love my intuition. I love swimming in perfect temperature water (about 89º) when I can make the movement a meditation. I love dancing when my body feels fluid. I love when my body feels fluid. I love meditation when I really connect with my higher self. I love dreams when I do the same. I love a warm comfortable bed with down comforter and great pillows. I love feeling welcome. I love helping people in the perfect way at the exact moment – maybe just a word or a phone call or a suggestion or a ride. I love meeting angels when they randomly show up. I love being an angel when I randomly show up. I love cleanliness and organization. I love caring. I love fresh live water. I love clean simple food made with love. I love when I see someone put love into their work. I love to put love into my work. I love great design – I love Lesley’s design of my book, cover and interior. coverI love the Japanese building at the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Guggenheim in New York – I love spirals. I love Leonard Cohen’s music. I love great lyrics that are profound, well crafted and new with each hearing. I love movies and art that reaches deep. I love connecting with people who are deep.

What makes me happy?

All of the things that I love make me happy. But the most happiness I’ve ever felt was on the fourth day of my first Vipassana meditation training. I felt happiness rise up in me from nothing. And I knew that no thing could ever make me as happy as the happiness that already resides within my being. I need only quiet all the things that make me unhappy in order to experience it.

What does my heart long for?

My heart does not long for more than I already have. My heart is fed in the moments when I am simply grateful and appreciative.

What would I risk everything to defend?

To defend something implies there is a war – one has to defend what is being attacked. I attempt to remove myself from this kind of thinking and action at every level. Love truly does make the devil a non-entity. The risk in loving is to let go of all that is not love. This is not a risk for me for I do not want anything that is not love, therefore I do not have to defend it.

If my life ended today, what would I most regret not having done?

If my life ended today I would be quick to accept and move toward the transition and not cling to any regret. I’ve lived as fully as I could have under the weight of the baggage I came in with and I would be delighted to release whatever vestige of that baggage still remains and run freely home to my maker.

 

What is Healing

I’ve practiced holistic health for forty years.  I have all my body parts and have rarely used pharmaceutical drugs.  Both of my children had natural births at home and neither of them have been vaccinated; I don’t take flu shots (based upon my extensive research into the matter).  Still after all this practice, I’ve come to recognize a part of my consciousness that is still not healed, still not whole.

I recently heard a doctor who works in energy medicine http://aimprogram.com/index.php make a distinction between curing and healing.  Surgery can cure a tumor.  Emergency treatment can cure a broken arm.  But these cures don’t heal.  They don’t address wholeness, but merely the part of wholeness that is injured or in some way damaged.  He said a doctor can cure you, but only you can heal yourself.  Only you can return yourself to wholeness.

In our society we look at things in parts.  I prefer an herb to a pharmaceutical drug; meditation to tranquilizers; nutrition and exercise to diet pills.  But what I came to acknowledge was I was still looking for the magic bullet that would fix my dis-ease.

I’ve suffered from a complex of symptoms that to date is thought to be autoimmune disorders—Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I say to date because when I was first diagnosed, over 25 years ago my ailments were considered psychosomatic.  Later my condition was thought to be caused by bacteria.  Now it is believed that my immune system is attacking itself.  Through these permutations I’ve tried every known alternative health remedy from herbs, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, colored light therapy, hypnotherapy, and more.  All of these remedies and practices have helped.  I haven’t been crippled by various surgical or pharmaceutical interventions that have been the sad outcome for others with similar symptomology.  But though I have been relieved by certain cures, I have not been healed.

Four months ago I prayed for help and help arrived via a link to www.listentoyourgut.com.  It is a site with vast information by a woman who is not a doctor but is very knowledgeable about all things IBS and IBD, because of her own journey through the disease.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is often a further development of these bowel disorders.  I set the intention to heal myself with the help of her extensive advice and products.  I learned that some of the healthy organic foods I’d been eating were actually irritating to my bowels—things like raw vegetables and chili (I live in New Mexico where chili reigns supreme).  It turns out that fiber and spicy foods, which are great for normal bowels are irritating to a fragile inflamed bowel.  I began my healing journey by altering my diet.

The arthritis makes exercise not very enjoyable, but I knew I had to do something physical so I returned to a simple Jigong practice I’d learned several years ago from the Tao of Wellness http://www.taoofwellness.com/ called Eight Little Treasures.  In the beginning just doing these easy eight poses was difficult, as I’d lost so much strength and flexibility.  I had a lot of resistance, both physical and emotional and had to struggle to get through them.  But something about having set the intention held me fast.  I began to feel the energy moving through my body, noticing subtle differences each day and the simple observation of these differences became very interesting, occupying my mind, overcoming the resistance.  Now I look forward to getting out of bed to do them.

After Jigong I meditate using various techniques I’ve learned over the years.  Sometimes I listen to recordings that play just the sound of water in motion, with subliminal sounds running beneath.  The recordings are called binaural beats, and they are designed to draw the brain into Alfa, Delta, and Theta brainwaves—the kind of mind that Buddhist monks get to through years of practice. (I haven’t abandoned magic bullets altogether.)  www.eocinstitute.org.  Sometimes I do EFT tapping www.eftuniverse.com.  Sometimes I do Vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka—simply observing the sensations in my body.  I learned this technique over twenty years ago and it is a foundation for deep awareness.  There are centers of this teaching all over the world http://www.dhamma.org/.

I grow trays of wheat grass and hand squeeze wheatgrass juice every morning.  I take certain supplements and blend smoothies and gage the timing of it all—some on an empty stomach, some with meals.

My healing has become a life practice, and this is what I’m learning:  that through this practice I am drawn deeper and deeper into the center of my Being, the source of my wholeness.  In that center there is a kind of voice of certainty, a guiding light.  It resonates wisdom and authenticity.  It has become like a magnet drawing what I need to me, repelling what I don’t need from me.  It lifts me from confusion and discord.  It steers me from chaos and false or superficial teachings.  It allows me to notice my shifting moods without them tossing me about.  It gives me the words to speak from my own authority—to let my yes be yes, and my no be no.

I’m fascinated by a popular use of the word permission: “I gave myself permission.” Or, in response to a friend’s expression of support, “you’ve given me permission.”  It implies that we need some authority to approve of our decisions and actions even when the authority is ourselves.  I believe it comes from the fact that we’ve lived in a hierarchical construct of social structure for millennia: church, state, empire and family.  Hierarchy lives in our psyches and even in a time and place where the individual has relative freedom we still are in the habit of needing permission, even when it is we ourselves who are approving of ourselves.

This magnetizing by my soul is not so much approval or permission but authentic inner guidance.  Call it guardian angel, higher self, god within.  It is the true voice of my whole life informing each and every part, be it in the arena of nutrition, or activity, people to allow close or steer clear of, efforts to make or abandon.  My healing practice informs all this and amazingly, though I still do have physical symptoms they do not dominate my life in the way they had done and I see them diminishing.  From the location of wholeness, which I believe is where consciousness and thus healing is accessed, the parts these symptoms represent hold less and less power over me.

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Sipapu Creative Pause

Charlotte, I miss you.  I look for you each time I go into the bathroom hoping, expecting to see you by my hairbrush.  You liked sitting on the magnetic charger for my electric toothbrush.  When you’d take your place there I’d just leave my toothbrush on the counter until you were finished recharging yourself with magneto energy.  You were showing me what I also must do now, at winter solstice 2012— recharge myself.

We were only together two days, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  When my son arrived for Christmas dinner about 4pm, you disappeared.  I thought you went into hiding, sensing another person in the house.  I put a sticky note on the mirror— Charlotte is my houseguest. Please let her be.  I doodled a little drawing of your round body, eight legs, and a smiling face, so anyone who read the note would know who you are.  Not that my son would have washed you down the sink or crushed you with a wadded up tissue.  But lest some friend or acquaintance drop by unexpectedly and need the bathroom and think he’d be doing me a favor by killing the spider in my bathroom, I wanted to be sure you’d be protected.  But you are wiser than to rely on sticky notes posted by a single sympathetic human.

I thought you’d reemerge when the house was clear of other people—in fact only my son who is not a spider killer.  But it’s been two days since you left and you are still gone.

I looked up spider totem wondering what wisdom says about you.  You are the balance between past and future.  Perhaps you only came for a short time to help me remember, in this phase I’ve been calling a “pause.”  I felt anticipation in the weeks before the solstice.  The popular mythologies about Mayan Calendars had seeped into my awareness.  Not that I for one minute expected the world to come to an end.  But just as we honor and invest hope in January 1st, a new year, I felt a sense of newness coming at this time shift—a sense of a new time form, which has all the potential of being remade in a more conscious way.  “Webs remind us that we choose our own fate,” one site says of spider totems.  This pause in my life is the punctuation between all I’ve done in the past and what is to come.  The past is now the raw material and rotting mulch from which I will weave the choices for my future.

Spider woman in native cultures teaches humans how to weave their way from the spirit world.  She attaches a thread of her web to humans who remember they come from Great Spirit.  It is her gift of creative wisdom.  They float to the new world, climbing to safety through the Sipapu Pole, the womb of Mother Earth.

I hope you will forgive me Charlotte for not being very creative in naming you.  I loved reading Charlotte’s web to my children when they were little.  It’s the only anthropomorphic name I associate with your kind.  And I am in this pause period where creativity lies fallow.  I am gathering magneto energy for a new time form, a new fate, a new weaving.

The Christmas Gift

Morning meditation immerses me in the goddess and her many guises – Our Lady, Avalokishteshvara, Quan Yin, Tara, Shekinah.  She’s been with me since yesterday when she left me with the mantra “all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”  Those words have been drifting through my mind-body-being.

80% chance of Snow today, at long last, here in Taos N.M.  The season has been so dry, so sunny. I haven’t complained about it. I love the sun, but even I was beginning to feel parched.  So before breakfast I decide to run out—twenty-minute drive there and back—to Smith’s to pick up some supplies before I hunker in with a fire in the fireplace and spend the day cooking comfort food and writing.

Smith’s has several self serve machines, which I sometimes use, when I only have a few items and don’t want to wait for a checker.  Yesterday a friend said she always finds mistakes, with the checkers.  So, though today I have two bags of groceries, I decide to use the self-serve to make sure there are no mistakes.  (Arrogance on my behalf; what makes me think I am flawless?)  There is an attendant there, for the self-serve machines, who is very attentive.  He’s guiding me from a short distance even though I don’t really need his help.  When the machine says I need his help, it’s a bit harder to get his attention.  He finally comes to clear the bottleneck in the process saying, “she doesn’t like it when you use your own bags.”  How unecological of her.  But then “she”—the nice lady sounding voice in the machine, which comes with a photo of a nice lady on the screen, is actually Smith’s corporate headquarters, which probably doesn’t give a damn about ecology but only the bottom line.

So I proceed with my purchase and use my ATM to pay, and when it asks if I want cash back I think, better get some cash.  Good thing to have on hand.  You never know if you might have to sweeten someone to shovel your porch, or pull you out of a snowdrift. So I punch $40 cash back—the amount I pay for the purchase.

The thing about these machines is no matter how many times I’ve used them— sometimes without a hitch, sometimes with problems I think I’ve learned how to avoid next time—they always kind of unsettle me, uncenter me.  I always feel a little flustered around them, not in my quiet mind that responds with equanimity and clarity.

My receipt comes along with the previous receipt and rather than dig for my glasses, I toss them both in my bag intending to sort them out when I get home.  If the machine says, “don’t forget to take your cash” I don’t hear it.  The place to pick that up is kind of tucked under where the receipt comes out and I walk away without my money.

When I get home and sort out the two receipts I realize my error and immediately call the local number to try to rectify it.  The customer service guy says, “Oh, I don’t know what you can do about that.  I guess you have to speak with the manager.”  I decide to drive back to speak with a manager.  Surely she will be able to remedy my forgetfulness.  By now it is snowing and my plan to get all my supplies and not have to drive in the weather is dashed.

Interesting synchronicity.  The same friend whose words echoed in my mind about the errors the checkers make at Smiths called as I was on my way home the first time.  She said her husband had gone to Santa Fe on an errand that could easily have waited for better weather conditions.  She too was planning to go out in awhile.  I simply recognized the difference in character.  They are ones who go outward, whatever the weather.  I am one who tends inward when outer conditions are challenging.  I don’t like being a sitting duck watching a car that has lost its breaks sliding toward me.  Nor do I like that feeling of losing traction with the ground and sliding toward a bank.  It simply registered as another way to be—to go out into the snowstorm.

So I go out in the snow, it is still light and there is no problem.  When I get to the store the attendant who had been so attentive remembers me. “What did you forget,” he says as I approach him.  I explain my issue showing him my receipt and he just shakes his head.  “Somebody has already got your money, I’m sorry to say.  You can talk to the manager.”  It’s a strange corporate way of kicking the can, me, down the road in a way that gives me hope in a hopeless situation.  A large woman, the manager, whose efficiency and authority I’ve always been impressed with, also apologizes.  She can offer no rectification other than, “You can call corporate headquarters and complain about the machines.  A lot of people don’t like them.  They say it takes away our jobs.”

I’m coming to a slow boil inside, “forty dollars is a lot of money to lose, especially at this time of year.”  Her expression is only vaguely sympathetic.  She’s probably thinking, well sister if you are so cavalier about your money what do you expect.  Or maybe I’m the one thinking that.  I’ve never been very attached to even the idea of money.  It’s kind of a necessary disturbance on this plane of existence, a pain in the butt really, having to spend so much time either drawing it toward you or expelling it from you.

I leave the store realizing I’ll get no more from these people, wanting to get home before the snow really starts to come down.  I use my mind to settle my mind, trying to find something redeemable about my loss.  Well someone just got a bonus I think to myself, at first with some resentment.  I continue to pull on that thought and then recall my morning meditation and how Our Lady seemed to penetrate me.  I saw how I can and do act as a comforter at times to friends and even casual encounters.  I saw how the Holy Feminine could and does live in me—from time to time.  I begin to turn my loss around—seeing it from her perspective—to someone else’s gain—someone for whom an extra $40 at this time of year might be a great boon, a special gift, a reprieve, a great relief.  I don’t possess a lot of money.  But I am able to see this occurrence not as my “loss” but rather a gift from the universe, to someone who will greatly benefit, perhaps more so than I will be deprived.

In Jewish thought, the highest form of giving is when no one knows who gives, and no one knows who receives.  And so I settle my feelings and loosen my tight thinking that clings to the idea I’ve lost money.  In the broader reality we live in a cosmos where there are not winners and losers, gains or losses, but only an ever generous flow and exchange of energy.  It is all a gift. Whoever received a bonus $40 today, I wish them happiness and grace, and I pray they use their boon for perhaps a gift of something warm and snuggly for a child in this snowy season.

One and Many

12-8-12 – The symmetry

 

Today the Goddess revealed herself

in all her manifestations

Avalokishteshvara, Tara

Quan Yin, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mary and Magadalene

Shekinah

 

One and Many

She revealed

Her Majesty

Holy, Holy, Holy

 

No more fear

Fear is a dark hardness

that dissolves

 

No more worry

worry is wound up

in itself

 

She revealed the end

of all that.  She conveyed

All will be well

And all manor of thing

Will be well

 

 

The Gift of Dis-ease

There is a new age belief that illness is a gift because it causes you to discover something deeper about yourself.  What of those people who never do discover something deeper about themselves through illness.  Some people simply resent illness unto death.  It takes diving into the knot of illness with the light of consciousness to be able to receive the “gift.”  I see disease as portions of one’s full being—spirit, soul, emotions—going unlived (energy that is not being allowed its fullest expression because of some twist, some contortion or tension, that has settled into the body, pinching off, cauterizing the life force).  Perhaps that disease has a name—cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis—or perhaps it is simply a malaise with no name.   What if one was to dive into that knot, that unlived portion of self, with the light of sensate awareness and of acceptance.  What if one was to witness that energy pattern bound and suffering, like a small wounded and scared animal, confined in a dark and lonely place.  What if one brought comfort and compassion to that creature; released it out to the fresh air, gave it the nourishment of loving-kindness.  It could thrive, and that would be the gift.   This is how one can deeply heal; how one can begin to live those elements of wholeness, which had gone unlived, hidden from the light of life.  In welcoming those aspects back into livability, back into life, the knot with the disease name untangles, and the energy that had been bound up in the knot is now available to life.   This is how I understood the message of Blue Heron of my last post—“Heron medicine is the power of knowing the self by discovering its gifts and facing its challenges. It is the ability to accept all feelings and opinions without denying emotion or thought . . .”