Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Germaine to Absolutely Nothing

Funfair in Li├Ęge 2
Originally uploaded by jucanils

I am doing a lot of desktop centrifuging this morning and attached to the lid of the machine is a little sign that is right in my face.
It’s a note from my boss.
It’s been there for at least eleven years. And it never ceases to strike me as poetry. Strange poetry, but none-the-less a poem, which today I share.
It goes like this:

When you use this centrifuge,
make sure that the flange on the shaft
fits onto the slot in the rotor
the screw
is securely fastened
the shaft.

I don’t know. Do you hear it too?
It amazes me. The poem that’s always there, right under my nose.

No Wait, This Was Germaine!

No sooner did I post the above, that an email from Mara arrived containing Tricycle's Daily Dharma for July 31, 2007.

One day the Buddha held up a flower in front of an audience of 1,250 monks and nuns. He did not say anything for quite a long time. The audience was perfectly silent. Everyone seemed to be thinking hard, trying to see the meaning behind the Buddha's gesture. Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled. He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower. . . . To me the meaning is quite simple. When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you, he wants you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the flower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled. That is the problem of life. If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Retreat with Adya

Omega next morning
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

Saturday morning, 7:30, but it feels like a Sunday.
Pulled the car into my driveway at 4:40 a.m.
Bennie was at the window peaking out.
I left Omega at 1:15 yesterday afternoon. So let’s see, that’s 15 and a half hours to make it home from New York.
I would have preferred a quicker trip. Bumped into one Omega-ite around 10:45 last night in line at the last place selling food in LaGuardia. We smiled at one another wide-eyed. This is an awful reentry! Or was it? I found it curiously interesting, marvelously interesting to observe… everything going on in New York, Penn Station… Manhattan waiting for a bus without a clue as to the routine.

I don’t regret it.
I would have preferred a direct connection, less weather up and down the East Coast.
I got something better.

Laid my head to rest upon my own bed’s pillow at 5:30 a.m.
Awoke at 6:30 feeling quite like sobbing.
I have no idea what to do now.
I so miss the routine of the last six days…
And what is it exactly that I miss? Again, so many images…

I am sobbing silently for the Silence that permeated it all. I am longing for the sharing of that Silence with 300 people I’d never met, but whom I’d never call a stranger.

I had resolved to not make notes while on retreat. Writing required way too much focus on my part. It’d be easier to let it go.
No matter what – just let it go.

But… resolution, let that go too.
And some words did make it onto paper.
They don’t seem at all to truly represent the whole story, or even close to a “fair” story.
Maybe they’re just the start of a new story and the end of an old story.

Sunday morning, 8:07, beautifully overcast, quiet.
OH! It’s Saturday… (Thank God!)

Omega Pictures

Omega dorm 1
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

My room. 6’x 8’ in the corner, up high, high in the trees. Lying in bed was my own little tree house. The breeze through the leaves made them rustle and shimmer.

Burst into tears as I stumbled upon my retreat badge while unpacking. I found the feather while walking.

(please excuse the strange way this is constructed. I am having trouble editing this. All these pictures are at Flickr and I've linked them - though many people have no trouble at all putting any number of photos into one blog... Taurus here, knows only one or two paths. Oh well. Plop, plop, plop. ... anyone who would click on a link to see my retreat badge ... probably enjoys the ridiculous too.)

Annotated Omega Notes

Omega trees
Originally uploaded by
Seeking Tao

Monday: [no comment]

Tuesday: [as noted on Wednesday]

Men are crying.

“If I go, I am taking all of this with me.”
[The exact words of an observation in the dining hall as I realized the extent and implications of my own dissolution. Struck me as both ludicrous and unfair to all the other people. Still is ludicrous.
I have been trying to avoid Non-existence. It never occurred to me others might appreciate my resistance also. Cause now it’s obvious: If I go, I’m taking this entire dining room and everyone in it down with me, down into the self same tube. … this to me is funny. But, maybe I’m just perverse.]

Wednesday: [“observations” are lettered, “insights” are numbered – yeah, well, I was trying.]

a) People say "thank you" at the mike now.

1) Yes, I really love you. It’s unconditional and forever. And of course, you’re not my partner. That was a role.

2) Silence makes you separate. Silence makes That also Nothing. And then it can unite.

b) I worn my shirt inside out for quite sometime today before I noticed.


Even creating a system, I am losing the ability to find my shoes after satsang.

Wendy (retreat leader) is transforming from the Soup Nazi into Space Cadet. This afternoon’s announcement, “It’s 10 ‘til four. We’ll take a 30 minute break and meet back here at 4:00.
[she was carefully reading from her notes! and becoming dearer by the moment.]

Finally. I have gotten rid of the migraine. How? I forget. Last night was hardly any sleep. Belly, heart, head and electric leg.

Wrote this on an envelope:

“Silence creates separation.
When separate you see it (Creation) is not real.
Being not real it is Nothing.
Being Nothing, it too is Nothingness.
You and It together in Nothingness.”

… this whole thing is from my belly/heart – it’s more painful to see how tenuous all Creation is
[than my own dissolution] – it could disappear like that (snap fingers) – and I feel such love. Incredibly deep loss, grief, and love [I am surprised to discover that Creation’s dissolution, seems more painful, intolerable than my own - as one would always grieve more for ones beloved than oneself.]

This is the love that accomplishes Unity – after the intellect separates [as] Maharishi [would say].

These insights aren’t new – what’s worth noting is my reaction (ego’s reaction) fixating on them.

That was all I wrote.
So, I got my questions of these many months (and years?) answered. The migraines come from my resisting acknowledging what I see.

I see a lot of Silence. I and see separation. Silence creates a separation.

Adya doesn’t really emphasize this step, for ultimately (and rather quickly if you don’t resist) Silence also unifies. Adya merely notes that first you must realize who you are. Then, he goes on to speak of embodying - all the details and travails undertaken after awakening to really root out the vestiges of ego.

By contrast, Maharshi emphasized all the details of that first step finding Self, pointing out that initially when you find the Self there must be separation. For in the beginning, there is a “unity of ignorance” as the self is lost in identification with the world. So first, realize who you are. He didn’t have a thing to say about embodiment except that, “Unity takes time” and “there is no technique” to create it. You simply adjust to the new reality.

I appreciate having the complementary explanations.

I really appreciate seeing so clearly what I have been resisting
and what happens
when I stop.


…So in leaving retreat, we are not actually leaving anything. In truth, there is no beginning of retreat and ending of retreat; there is simply our life as it is…

When formal retreat ends… the retreat of our life begins. This is the sacred opportunity to allow whatever you may have realized about the truth of your being to express itself in your life, in your relationships, and in the way you move through the world.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Are Things Normal Yet?

Evie thinks my musings of late are sounding "totally surreal."

I came across this cartoon that summarizes the so called consensus reality pretty well.
It also makes a pretty good argument for permitting me a bit of leeway here.

Or, as Mom use to say as she reflected upon her kids, “Oh! The whole group is sick.”
This was an often run routine we all thought pretty funny.
Mom also claims that even my grandmother couldn't really tell when things were "back to normal." Though we'd always promise to talk again when things returned there.
So much for lineage and tradition.
I'll talk with you soon. Maybe after dinner or a nap.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Jill Hall

Maharishi , Me, & Jill
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
One of my oldest friends passed on this week.
Jill and her husband, Tom, were TM teachers when I first came to Atlanta in 1971.
We shared those early, heady, heart filled days when all things seemed possible.
In time, years would pass and we would not see each other.
But, whenever we did, there was always that unspoken understanding of shared roots and love.

I find Jill to be entwined with what I hold most precious in my life.

She brought people to the transcendent.
She knew both my parents and they her.
I can’t say that of many people outside of family.
As part of his teacher training, Jill helped Pop give his first “living room lecture” on TM.
And she stood by his side as tears welled up in his eyes as he spoke of meditation.
Mom described the event to me, “Poor Jill didn’t know that Poppy cries when he is excited. Her eyes just got bigger and bigger as she watched him. She didn’t know what he would do.”
And I can still hear Pop’s voice, coming through the front door, “Hey, guess who I saw today, Tom Hall!”
Yes, it was always Tom and Jill. The two essentially were one.

I find that Jill takes with her a huge era of my life.
And so, this morning I dug out an old manuscript from those days some thirty years ago.
I was thinking of this William Dickey poem. I wanted to see exactly how it went:


I sent you this bluebird of the name of Joe
with “Happiness” tattooed on his left bicep.
(For a bluebird, he was a damn good size.)
And all you can say is you think your cat has got him? …

So I am sending you this snail of the name of Fred
in a small tricolor sash, so the cat will know him.
He will scrawl out “Happiness” in his own slow way.
I won’t ever stop until the word gets to you.

Yes. That’s kind of how we've lived.
And Jill did it with such spirit.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Authentic Inquiry

Bath Tub Truth
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

I’m not going to quote the whole thing here. If you want the full length, unedited version, click HERE.

Authentic inquiry is allowing yourself to care… Everyone knows what it’s like to inquire out of intellectual interest—asking for the sake of asking or because you think you should. This is not caring. When you care about something, it gets inside of you. It gets inside the shell that keeps you from being affected or bothered, the shell that keeps anything really new from happening.

So in the beginning, to deeply inquire about anything, you have to care about it. You have to care enough to allow it to get inside that shell. What do you really care about? What pulls you into here and now, this minute? What is the most important thing to you? … The question needs to be personal, not about a spiritual teaching or something that’s outside of your experience. It needs to be something that’s coming from the inside.

When you care, you care from the inside. Many people impose ideas from the outside upon themselves, but this isn’t inquiry. When you really care, you enter a love affair with what you care about. Sometimes it draws you into bliss, sometimes into confusion. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know where you are going. You feel a bit out of control. You’re letting this caring get under your skin. To find out that you care like this is the most important thing; otherwise you can spend your whole life caring about what someone else says you should care about.

… you may be afraid to find out how much you care because that caring could just steal you away. What is the one thing that will matter the most at the end of your life? Without it, you would say: “That’s what it was all about and I missed it.” If you had the best job, lots of money, the perfect lover, or whatever your ideal is, and suddenly your life was over, what would still be left undone? That’s what it’s all about.

When you find that kind of caring, inquiry has some power behind it. You also find your own inner integrity. You find something inside that’s stable. There’s a place inside you that is willing to be a little crazy—crazy enough to take inquiry seriously and hold nothing sacred. Holding nothing sacred means that nothing is assumed to be true and all of your assumptions are fair game. The more spiritual they are, the more they are fair game. Ultimately it is your most sacred and unquestioned assumptions about yourself, others, and life that are most important to question.

…[and] eventually the inquiry wears itself out. You wear yourself out. You wear your ego self out. You wear your spiritual self out. You wear it all out. You’ve inquired yourself out of this whole thing, and you’re disappearing faster than you can put yourself together.

… [and] You find a living experience of being, empty of content, empty of you. This is where spiritual awakening begins. This is the living answer of authentic inquiry.


Just after I edited these wods, I received an email. One of my oldest friends, one who was there before and after those shattering days of the 1970's - one who never gave up on her path- was finally "resting peacefully and slipping quietly away" after long, long resistance to her cancer.

What will matter most at the end of my life? At the end of your life? And how well are we caring for That Which Matters Most right now, today?