What is Possible

That moment when all the world is before you, vast, undiscovered.  When nothing about you has been decided, identified or known yet, by you or anyone else.  When your capabilities simply tear through the atmosphere, uncontainable, an afterburner of possibility.  When you may as well have been the one who first discovered fire. 

That moment when you come up over the horizon and ride the edge between this realm of forms and the realms of the formless, shedding the cloak of duality to receive the light of Oneness, transcendent of the sphere of human thought.  The energy of your cells burning – individually and collectively – like meteors across the cosmos of you, on a journey toward decomposition, only to be structured again by rebirth, transformed by incineration, alchemized by the whole cycle.        

Where is your sense of adventure, of possibility?  Why do you fear the things you fear?  Civilization is a blip on the radar of timeless eternity, humanity will rise and fall, and every condition existing within it will come and go, but what are we supposed to do with this information?  It borders on the unfathomable.  A meteorite collided with the Earth and formed this crater 60 million years ago.  Okay, well, let’s have dinner and go to bed, I have to get up early and go to work.    

So what might be a worthy use of your energy and focus during the flash of your sweeping microcosm of an arc of a few little decades here?  Do you endeavor to blow the doors off your life, throw open the windows of the heart?  Or do you turn away, forgetting that – beneath the clothing of your identity – you are the Earth, you are an expression of Eternity, you are one with the transcendent.

The challenges of working with fear, what is possible, and the ever-changing shapes of things masquerading as truth, never fail to astound, astonish.  For the love of all things holy, work on it now, because later you will be tired and clarity will not burn so bright.  

 

Whirlwind: How The Heart Is Wiser Than The Mind

There are times when our thoughts sweep us away.  We get caught up in the whirlwind of the mind’s magnetic pull, and something needs to happen to reel us back to the moment we’re actually in and what is happening there.  It could be something small: we have forgotten the bread in the oven, or we’re stopped at a traffic light, being honked at because it has turned from red to green.  It could be something heavy that stops us in our tracks: someone has passed away unexpectedly, or our spouse wants a divorce.

Miniscule or massive, either way we are being brought back, slapped, woken up, snapped out of auto-pilot mode, our train of endless thought barreling down the tracks with no conductor at the wheel.  When we take up a practice that requires discipline and presence such as yoga, meditation, or simply deep-breathing, we start to cultivate our awareness.  Cultivating our awareness leads to the realization of just how much power our thoughts and emotions have over us.

We slowly begin to be less eager to always be doing something, to fill up every waking moment with whatever meets the approval of our mind and its current content.  We start to explore the space in our mind instead of the content of our mind, and in doing this we begin to find peace.  Stepping out of the arena of incessant thought and obsessive emotion is like stepping out of a whirlwind.  Part of us is always still in it, but we can learn to be less swept away by it.

This is how the heart is wiser than the mind.  When we say “I realized I had stopped listening to myself”, we are usually referring to our hearts, not our heads.  When we let the content of our minds become less important, we give ourselves the gift of working towards peace.  Take the time, make the time, take stock of what’s in our hearts, slow down, pause, consider, notice.  Then, too, we can start to be of greater service to others because we are truly taking care of ourselves first.  Without nourishing our own hearts and spirits first, our potential to spread joy and healing to others will likely be limited, interrupted.

What we decide we “know” becomes just another set of shackles within the cage of the ego, if we hold the knowledge rigidly.  The mind would have us follow it, mile after mile, down its many roads: desire, fear, justification, assumption, grudge, addiction.  It wants desperately to hold on, to feel like it knows something, to be right about things, to endlessly nurse its wounds, to rave about all the sources of its pain and hurt.

If we hold the knowledge loosely, though, we can simultaneously benefit from it and release it.  We can make our minds flexible, make our beliefs pliable, liberate ourselves from all the things we were once so certain about, the stuff we believed to comprise the sum total of our life’s potential, our very identity.  We can open doors, remove blockages, step out of the whirlwind and return to our awareness: simple, calm, uncluttered, lucid with breathtaking clarity.

And the heart knows that to be at peace, it must ignore the ravings of the mind.  When we learn to listen better to our heart, our heart learns to stop listening to the mind.  We lead with our heart and we see that the rest just sort of takes care of itself.  The movie of our life begins to change in tonality and theme, because once we accept ourselves for who we are, we allow our projector to change.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

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.

Quote by Erich Schiffman

“When you let go of everything you think you know about yourself and stay with what’s left, when you willingly abandon the contradictory evaluations of who you are and courageously reach deeply into yourself in order to experience yourself directly, you will come upon a new experience of who you are.”

Erich Schiffman

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.

Tree

The next time a storm comes, set your eyes upon a tree.  The branches toss and turn, flail and bend – and wisely so, for what happens to things that don’t bend?

But then, beneath the boughs and limbs, the trunk.  And beneath that pillar of power and stability, the roots – firmly fixed to the earth.