Buddha dharma magazine

On an overcast day which was neither here nor there, not yet Winter but was sending all the signals to shut down, retreat, go inward, deal with IT, I went to Chapters and picked up a Buddha dharma magazine.

Within a few minutes the sounds around me muted and then disappeared. My focus on myself as “lost”, “disappointing”, “lacking something” became blurred.

I was in the messages that I was experiencing. The mind fog lifted and I could see sign posts.

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold’s article “In Accordance with All Time,” reminded me what I had dropped on the floor, lost track of, been distracted away from.

When I was 17 I stumbled upon Henri Bergson in the Old Main Library in Bellingham. I was alone in the vast reading room with the summer light coming in and I felt myself opening to the shift in recognition of time. There are certain reading experiences that are more like a download. And Henri Bergson’s concept of duration gave me the distinct feeling of coming home. Time is a construct.

In Arnold’s article that I now held in my hands I read, “Time seems by nature to be dualistic, a witnessed measure of something passing. What is time without a witness?”

Arnold reminds us that:

Our presence wherever we are is fully and utterly in accord with past causes. We didn’t just suddenly get here by ourselves. We should reflect on the multitudes of past actions, just in this one brief flicker of a lifetime, that brought us to this moment. …. We are each the recipient of innumerable currents of life – through the lives of others- streaming into and influencing our own lives.

As I sat in Chapters I thought of the energy field rivers that had flowed into my life… my genetic heritage; the stories of my ancestors; the influences of past mentors; the large stranger woman who held my cut, bleeding leg together and helped me limp home; the teacher that saw my pain and let me hang out in her classroom instead of being beaten on the school ground; the writers and intellectuals that had spoken to me and “changed” my mind. And I thought of those who I cannot even recall who have fed into my stream from past lives, past associations, unremembered exchanges.

The author asks us to have faith. To understand that past influences are not always perceived gives us optimism. He asks: “Is there another way of holding something that we do not know yet to be true.” If we are not capable of being cognizant of the past, how can be project with surety the future.

Knowing that we are not infallible in our understand, in our perception, in our manner of connecting to what we want to call truth, opens up the possibilities. It is in this open space that faith lives.

Buddha Dharma Magaz

I thought of the Buddhist begging bowl. I thought of the practice of having an empty bowl sitting in the entry way of the house.

We are empty vessels open to receiving. Staying with the question: “Who am I now?” allows for growth, a bigger understanding, and greater gifts coming in.

To know I do not know what formed me, who formed me, where I stand in the flux of time allows faith to be my focus. Not the kind of ten commandment faith. A more complex sense that I am both in time and changing time; that I was both formed and am formless.

As I sat in Chapters, I felt a burst of joy. The room lit up around me. Who ever I am.

I felt 17 again.

Working Without A Net

During meditation today this phrase came to me. I have always felt the necessity to have a safety net; a backup plan; savings; a good job; maybe a night job or secondary job; a schedule; a short term goal; a long term goal; a plan for renovating; cleaning, improving my house list underway; a new course to take; a stack of books to teach me something; a financial plan; a focus on lowering my debt; a carefully consider future purchases plan.

 

airbnb at Paris

And yet, I never had time for friends, frivolity, following fascinations.

The three major earth quake, flattening, rubble times in my life have found me alone, gutted financially, and sitting dazed curled up on the floor.

It is not my nature to choose the big decision unless I am forced to. My parents talked about hard work, savings, always took second jobs, and bought everything on sale.

That was the surface reality. It was most like a magic kingdom in which the spell was cast to make us appear a certain way to the outside world.

In our enclave of chaos the reality was very different. Alcohol, drugs, infidelity, violence, and cupboards full of secrets were the truth.

And so, I set out into the world to be safe.

Time and time again, I chose the same type of man to share my life with and the resultant spinning out into the chaos was the result.

As I sat meditation today, the phrase Working without a Net came to me. It showed itself to be the ultimate manipulation. There is always a net. There is always love waiting to catch us gently from the tree top and hold our baby selves warmly.

What if I released the fear based belief that I did fail; I can fail; I am failing now in ways I cannot see?

 

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What if I understood absolutely that I am held by light, protected and that all of my toddler type mistakes were just me learning? Can I be in love with myself enough to know that I am always loved?

Because I have never, ever, not once worked without a net.

Gathering Data

He or she stands aside from society, in order to observe, in order to understand what the “game” is that is going on. A writer, an artist moves from the position of “in the game” and then “out of the game.”

There is a certain solitude that is both a gift and a curse. It is like watching people eating poi in a joy filled ceremony and thinking, “That looks delicious.” However, after tasting the culturally infused dish, the artist is reinforced in the separateness. Poi is tasteless, joyless, unsatisfying.

So making the decision to be at peace with not being at peace is vital. Disabusing oneself that the idea of being “in ” the circle, or “out” of the circle of inclusion is the answer is an important step.

Byron Katie in her systematic analysis of thoughts calls it “The Work”. The important moment is when a person stands facing another and in that moment knows clearly what it is the individual wants from that other person.

to see the small details

I frequently ask: What are my expectations for being in my society; what are my expectations for being a cultural anthropologist who simply observes the behavioural choices?

So the being able to see the down to earth, the actual, the spinning out of actions based on the story of a culture is central to an artist’s life.  There is a deep feeling of loneliness that all artist-observers experiences. But it is a necessary vantage point in order to create out of a disengaged truth.

the underpass

It is frequently the artist/seers who were most out of tune with their own culture who propelled the society forward. Matisse was vilified. His vision became the norm.

Artists/writers/seers move in and out of society. Their lives cycle from boredom, to risk and excitement. They come to trust the inner compass more fully as they mature.

One has to trust that the path is created by the step forward. And there are always those well lit places with flat land where the group gathers and shares their maps. There are those inspiration stops where the exchanging of ideas are vitally energizing.

Finally, the question of “Do I fit in?” becomes irrelevant. And the question, “Who am I now?” becomes the call to clarity. The relationship with self calls for the practice of compassion in movement, or in stillness. All is correct. Just observe and witness.

Transition Season: Waiting

It is neither winter, nor Summer. The leaves during this week have gone from yellow to orange to red over night. I look out my bedroom window and the trailing vines that cover the fence between my neighbour’s garden and mine is shockingly more vibrant every day.

It is interesting that what my eyes expect, does not happen. All summer I have seen the green leaves of the Maple Tree stretching to tease the window glass. And now they are trying out differing colors or letting go altogether.

 

 

Zinnia Heart

I find I am kind of lurching toward goals. Today I purchased paint for a wall in the livingroom and all of the supplies I need for the project. I slung bags of soil into my car in order to prepare a bed for the new tulip bulbs. The book I intended to finish reading was by my side this morning and I learned a few things, shut it and sat meditation.

Art projects wait in a pile on my desk.

 

Zinnia Pink

The disparity between my thoughts and my experience is drawing my attention lately. It is as if I stand between two “seasons’ of myself. I tell myself that I am not accomplishing what I intended. I nag at myself about doing more reps with the weights, eating more frequently or eating less of this and more of that. Judgement about not going out and the celebration at not spending money occur simultaneously.

One of my desired feelings from Danielle LePort’s The Desire Map work book was to feel connected: to others, to myself, to the earth. And I have been unusually social lately. I went to a movie with a friend and a few days later spent time walking in the rain and talking about mindfulness practice. I visited my son and his daughter. Tonight I viewed another movie with my neighbour and I have another “social date” coming up this weekend.

Is this moving me forward? Well, the issue is that I am working toward goals in order to elicit feelings of contentment. I am learning to just allow myself to cycle through productive periods and through growth periods. When I look back at the last few years, there is not one project or goal that my mind had landed on that I have not finished.

 

Zinnia R

I can trust myself.

The year cycles from apparent stasis to rapid change. I cycle through methods of dealing with life. At times, I attack and strip away all but that which I am focused on. And then, predictably, I hibernate, re-dream, grow in ways I had not planned or expected. I surprise myself.

I do not look forward to snow on the branches or back to the exquisitely colored Zinnias popping open one after another. I just appreciate the deep, peaceful sleep I am experiencing. The quiet fills all corners of my house with its white, expanding presence. The preparations have been made. The segments of the new structures are gathered. I am just here, in the stillness of transition.

 

What next? Staying grounded.

The Waking
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
XXX
My goal is to walk so softly on the ground. But there are times I stumble, swear, feel blinded by some fog created by my urge to keep myself safe and protected.
The tension between the urge to create, go big, just fucking DO something and the necessity to be careful, orderly, not to take risks or attract too much attention from the Eye of Sauron has pretty much been the back beat track of the movie of my life.
What my ego is constantly whispering to me is ,”Not good enough. Not enough effort. You could have been so much bigger than this version of yourself. Why did you waste your time, your focus, your energy, your day, your week, your life!”
I think of those heart-felt movies where in a marathon runner has his crippled little brother on his back.  He chooses to run with the weight of the destroyed relative throughout the race. At times, I see my ego that way. I just keep carrying him or her or it with me and sometimes the being is just too heavy for me to run the marathon with any spectacular results.
But that image and message, too, are from the ego weight creature I carry.
At present I have been evolving in the way I almost inevitably do. It seems to be my style. I am stoic and patient for a time with an issue and use my super human suppression skills to cloak the problem in a field of invisibility. And then I stumble onto the next plan hidden behind the bushes.
My neck has disintegrating discs which have radiated migraines, ear aches and jackhammer skull pain for decades. It has gradually gotten better as I build the strength in my body and learn to work on flexibility.
My digestion has been a mess since I witnessed the Paris Attacks on the street where I was staying in November.
My message to myself is highly nuanced: I am doing well. I am armoured and impervious.
I had only one flashback after seeing the blood and hearing the screams of those dying. I have had no nightmares at all. I congratulated myself for staying in a field of love during and after the attack. There was no hatred or personal fear arising.
But my body has had unpredictable purges since December. I am clearing. I am clearing unexpectedly, rather constantly.
So somewhere along the way, I decided to deal with the ignored messages from my body.
xxx
First I went to body talk and the reader said I was carrying massive amounts of pain but it was not my pain. It was pain from others that had lodged in my body. She placed her hands on my spine and released tension which I could feel leaving like water from a burst pipe. The flowing out of that which I had been holding was something palpable.
Next, I decided to go for physio. I had two treatments releasing some locked areas in my body around my neck. After the second treatment, I suffered barely endurable pain. And I am tough. I have prided myself on my ability to “take it.”
I felt as if my skull were being attacked with a jackhammer from inside, from my brain. I had a massive migraine, pain shooting up my neck and out of my ears and the constant presence of nausea. I awoke in so much simultaneous distress it was impossible to focus on any one area.
I allowed myself a sugary drink, took a tylenol 3 and decided to just drug myself asleep with gravol.
When I went back for my third treatment, the physio indicated  that unlocking knots in the body can allow for information to start flowing that has been repressed. On the right side of my neck is an area that refuses to let go, he informed me.
I pointed out that I had a shard of bone standing up on that side on the front of my shoulder.
He stepped back and looked concerned. He said that it was an indicator of a dislocated shoulder at some time in my past.
When I went home with the new information to add to the missing puzzle bits of my life, I sat with the idea that this happened when I was under the amnesia blanket of my blacked out childhood. I have protected myself by not remembering. I have allowed myself to move forward in a healthy manner by not “knowing” what happened to me.
What is behind the doors.

What is behind the doors.

So in the last four years I have been able to gather further evidence. A energy therapist told me of my broken cheek bone. A woman’s retreat presented the information that not only my father but my grandfather were dangerous to me. And now I own the information that my shoulder was dislocated and never reset properly.
When parents hide the damage to their children so that they will not be found guilty, so much becomes unvalidated experience.
What I have come to understand is that my journey has been about using my mind to reclaim my full presence. I studied. I read. I attended conferences. I went for counselling to Elizabeth Fry on and off for eight years. And then I let it rest.
connecting with spirit
Next I moved onto working with spirit. I found a group of Catholic nuns who worked with energy and it was while I was attending their support group the entire understanding came to me. I was attacked at 18 months on by those who should have been my protectors.
What I came to accept is that I was lucky to be alive.
The grief was mammoth. I cried almost steadily for three months. I had not know. I had not let myself see. I had not consciously “experienced” the attacks at all. But the suppression was not working in my life.
The spiritual work continued with the guidance of Gabor Mate in a retreat and through his books. My meditation practice became the anchoring center of my life. I began to be able to love and not hide how much others meant to me.
I sat with Peruvian Shamans and with a Black Foot Medicine man. And I read. I read everything about how the brain works, the patterning of DNA. I studied Buddhism, Tao, Hinduism and I opened myself up to the deep connection with spirit.
What I have done in the last three weeks is a result of my adventure. I worked first on knowing that I was determined to survive. Then I used my mind to understand on that first level. The spirit work was only possible because I intellectually understood how important it was to get beyond the mind.
Finally, reconnecting with the messages in my body is the final and most illuminating step. I can only allow those neurological connections to bring messages because I am strong enough now. I have worked out, used weights, established habits of nurture and strengthening my body so that I can actually see how strong I am. That has helped me tremendously.
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What happens next? Don’t ask me. I didn’t plan this journey. I just let it take me to where it will. It is only afterward that I can see how “on purpose” my path has been.
“What falls away is always, and is near.”
I no longer fear to be seen. I no longer fear the Eye of Sauron. The greatest evil is to not see who we are and why. The greatest evil is to not allow ourselves to grow by doing whatever it takes. And I wait for the next directives with a vast curiosity. Life is such an adventure.
The kiss that has awakened me from sleep is my own.