Alchemy

The peacock struts around eating things that are brightly colored: plants, insects and snakes.  

Much of what it eats is poisonous.   

May we learn to move closer to pain, invite in the Lady of Sorrows to sit it at our table, as if she were our neighbor, as if she were a weary vagabond in need of food and shelter, and we were a Spanish Mission.  

Then we might be something like the peacock, whose tail-feathers are alchemized by poison into something bright and beautiful.

No Rush

You don’t have to rush.  You don’t have to be in such a hurry all the time.  You don’t have to feel pulled in a hundred different directions.  It’s only the energy of the society around you, and has nothing to do with the conversation your life makes with the world.

When you give up the habit of rushing and the need to be in control, it creates space in you for peace.

Notice how any system has rules and limitations, and must operate within its own boundaries in order to control effectively.  Notice how weak – or how strong – any single aspect of a system becomes when approached in a non-systematic way, or when it is removed from the system to which it belongs, revealing just how limiting a system can be.

Fear, desire, and the need to be in control are like obstructions in a river, blocking the full potential of the water’s flow.  You can always be less rigid and more fluid, less like stone and more like water.

To live less systematically – and let go of the rush – is to allow the space and flexibility for peace to flow more abundantly into your life.

 

“May I be the tiniest nail

in the house of the universe.

Tiny, but useful.”

Mary Oliver

 

Making Use of Heat

Then you come to that place of burning through the atmospheric fabric of consciousness.  You learn how to make use of the intensity of heat, and you use it to burn through thoughts and emotions, fears and desires, to purify and transform. 

Because you are not your thoughts, emotions.  You are not the sum of your fears and desires, however enslaved to them you perceive yourself to be.  You are a thread in the fabric of consciousness.  You are part of the awareness that witnesses all things in this field of time, this dimension of duality.

So you can stop trying to hold on to your identity as it is defined by others.  You can start to let go of how others might see you, how they might judge you.  And you can start to release your own judgments, assumptions, and misconceptions about others.

You might arrive at a place of thunderstruck stillness in yourself, a calm quiet place that has always been there, somewhere, like the surface of a pool of still water, or maybe the eye of a storm.  All the great importance of your external environment is diminished in this place of being at rest within yourself, this sensation of coming home to your own heart, this peaceful pause in the wake of the ten-thousand things.

It’s a place where no one owes you anything, and you don’t owe them.  A place free of demand or expectation.  A place of clarity, blindingly brilliant, where you can see a little more clearly what it is to be human.  Because each time you make an individual self-discovery, you discover something about humanity in the process.

There is a revelatory quality in your experience of self-discovery that is unique to you, but you are also simultaneously connected to all those who have made the same discovery, all around the world, down through the ages.  You are connected to those who have not been born yet, and those who are here now, shedding their own brands of light.   

 

Rasa

(Rasa is a Sanskrit word literally meaning juice, essence, or taste.  It also refers to an ancient concept in Indian arts concerning the aesthetic of a composed piece of visual, literary, or musical work.  More specifically, Rasas are the feelings evoked in the reader or audience by the artistic work.)     

Your life, this life, not separate.  Rather, linked to all others.  Are you the creator or the creation?  Are you the central character or the chief spectator?

You are the witness, the audience, ever in the throes of each Rasa rising up within you.  Where is your Vismaya, your wonder – your Adbhuta, astonishment?  Ruled by the strange, the sad, the sharp and cold, the soft and warm.  Governed by your smile, tears, the metronome of your heart.

You prepare tea, walk dogs, read books, drink water from a clear glass, and none of these things are ordinary, though often mistaken as such.

The world is at once a utopia and wasteland.  I have watched bodies become prisons – the bodies of those I have loved.  I have watched minds become solitary confinement.  I have watched myself twist and turn, bend over backwards, push on and on.

Sometimes I wonder, will we not truly see one another until after we have passed onward and inward?  Such is the light of a star upon the brows of the earthbound.

 

 

Real Time

What have we been, in the very ground of our being?  What might we become?  These questions are of past and future.  In trying to answer them, we will not find peace.

Carry the wind of the present in your heart and you will never thirst.  You will participate in eternity.  You will experience Real Time, not clock time, not practical time, not linear time.

We carry bow and arrow but not much power.

Let us have no use for it.

There is no room left to breathe when we make too much of things, when we are swept into drama.  The drama takes up all the space.

The simple things, small things, have the most power to bring us peace.  There is space around them.  They are not so small after all.

Ubuntu, Yoga, and the Illusion of Separation

Ubuntu is an ancient South African term meaning “connectedness to others”.  It points to the human virtues of humanity and compassion.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union”, “connection”, or “to join”.

Between all the reading I’ve been doing and my recent journey into yoga teacher training, I have noticed an idea that comes up again and again.  It’s the concept that our ego constantly tries to convince us that we are all separate (the ego’s effort to build and maintain any self-identification that supports the illusion of control), when actually we are all interconnected in ways that are beyond our conception.

For instance, having your body tattooed with an image that is meaningful or beautiful to you.  I have several tattoos.  I like my tattoos, but I also see them for what they are: my ego’s effort to qualify the identity it thinks it is.  It’s my ego working hard to define itself, to project a self-image it finds favorable.

The identity our ego insists is real, is of course not real.  It is an illusion brought about by the fact that we exist in a world of forms and so our thinking is limited to forms.  Who we truly are is beyond forms, and is concerned with awareness, not thinking.  When one recognizes the illusion as an illusion, it begins to die.  It dies because its survival depends upon it being thought of as reality.

The power of a yoga practice is that it teaches you to be vulnerable and humble.  From there, you begin to open up.  Stuck places inside you slowly, slowly start to move, like a dam being deconstructed one stone at a time.  Maybe life has hardened you in certain ways, and these hard edges start to soften, as you devote yourself to returning to the practice again and again.  Your awareness increases, and you begin to notice the difference between awareness and thinking.

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation.  It speaks about our interconnectedness.  You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”  –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Don’t seek the truth, just cease to cherish opinions.”  -Zen saying

“Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.”  –Albert Einstein

“Give up defining yourself, to yourself or to others.  You won’t die.  You’ll come to life.” Eckhart Tolle

“Don’t become too narrow.  Live fully.  Meet all kinds of people.  You’ll learn something from everyone.  Follow what you feel in your heart.”  -Yuri Kochiyama

Weather Report

To better understand nature you need to spend some time in it alone, observing.  The more you do this, the more quietly aware you’ll become of what is happening there – the order, science, art, survival.

The same applies to one’s body and mind, habits, tendencies, perpetual states, thoughts that come and go, emotions that change and pass.  The solid and fluid.  The blurry and congruent.  The daily weather report of moods.