Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mom, This One's for You!

OK. Just a quick post here, for Mom. And the rest of you Out There may enjoy this too...

"Code Name Nora" is a blog by an 82 year old woman that is very enjoyable to me. And now defunct. She wanted to start a new one. (I like that one too and am in the processing of trying to write a post reflecting on that.)

But, I'm having my lunch break right now and I nicked a site counter off Nora's site. And then I read this post.

Mom, do you remember when Ann Davidson (can I say that here?) greeted the plumber, Mr. Peebles, wearing just her bar? She thought it was Mr. Davidson coming home and she pulled the shade on the back door up crying, "Darling."
Remember? We laughed for weeks on that one.
Remember? She'd really scared Mr. Peebles!


When you get back from your bus trip to Missouri, let me know you that you've seen this.
Nora's your age!

For the rest of you Out There, RE: commentary of consciousness and spirit ...

This is it.
All This is That.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Silence, Part 2: in many guises

Japanese Feather
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

The Unmanifested is not separate from the manifested. It pervades this world, but it is so well disguised that almost everybody misses it completely…
Do you hear that dog barking in the distance? Or that car passing by? Listen carefully. Can you feel the presence of the Unmanifested in that?
... Every sound is born out of silence, dies back into silence, and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence enables the sound to be…
The Unmanifested is present in this world as silence… All you have to do is pay attention to it…
You cannot pay attention to silence without simultaneously becoming still within. Silence without, stillness within. You have entered the Unmanifested.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, Chapter 7, “Portals into the Unmanifested”

It is curious to me that Tolle doesn’t capitalize Silence, yet he does capitalize Unmanifested. I have always equated the two. Perhaps, I am wrong in this.

When my consciousness first shifted, back in 1975, the shift (my awakening?) began with a sudden thundering of Silence. I was leaning over to whisper a joke to a friend, as we sat watching a video tape of Maharishi, played to a roomful of TM teachers in the midst of a six week retreat. I was midway through my lean, when Silence cracked so abruptly I jerked straight up in my chair.

I never finished my lean, nor did I ever deliver my snide comment.
Instead, I looked around the room absorbed by this all pervading Silence.
At that moment my life was changed forever.
Then, I got up and walked out.

I no longer recall why I felt so compelled to leave. It was night. We were in the country and being out under a brilliant canopy of stars, rather than in the confines of a crowded room, was probably my motivation.

By the time I was done walking, it was long past lights-out, and my new found friend (the course leader who’d accompanied me when I fled the meeting) was pretty much holding me up. My legs had grown wobbly. I’d become quite drunk on my new reality. Eventually, she dumped me upon my bed to spend the night totally Awake.
I slept one hour every other night for the next two weeks. It made little difference whether my eyes were shut or open, whether my body moved, sat still, or slept.
I was always Awake. … How I managed to go back to sleep is a story for another time.

Since then, Silence has broken in upon my ordinary awareness time and time again during the most mundane behavior.
It strikes suddenly, without preamble.
It always seems precipitated by some other simple sound: a fly pinging against a lamp shade, a dog barking in the distance.
It can be electrifyingly intense or have the strangest subtlety.

I’ve had Silence spin me almost off my chair while sitting in a coffee shop.
I’ve watched Silence roll across the room just as a wave rolls to shore, buckling my knees and felling those around me also, in something of a silent tsunami.
It feels as if I’m going to faint, but I never have. I simply lose thought and muscular control for some few moments.
This has even happened while working at the computer in the lab. I was startled to watch computer monitor go black in perfect synchrony with Silence descent upon me.
We had to reboot the system. After the third time, the monitor was dead.
I never mentioned my involvement to the others and the Department covered costs.

Silence is not simply about sound.
It is also about space and form, which is just a way of saying it is also about Nothingness.

Just as no sound can exist without silence, nothing can exist without no-thing, without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing, and will eventually return to nothing…. The Unmanifested is not only present in this world as silence; it also pervades the entire physical universe as space - from within and from without. …Nothing – space – is the appearance of the Unmanifested as an externalized phenomenon in a sense-perceived world. That’s about all one can say about it, and even that is kind of a paradox. …Space and silence are two aspects of the same thing, the same nothing.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, Chapter Seven.

Silence is also about Love.
When Maharishi “made me a teacher,” I sat alone with him for sometime and we talked. As a final gesture, he gave me a picture of his teacher, Guru Dev, then said, “Now, you keep him happy.”
With those words, a wave of Silence, some “carpet flap” in an Ocean of Nothingness started at the far wall of the room. I knew it to be Maharishi’s love for Guru Dev and I watched it roll towards us. Even though I’d seen it coming, its splashiness of Love was beyond any expectation. Speechless and wide-eyed, I reached out with both my hands, clamped them hard upon the lithograph, bowed and backed out of there.

My Penguin paperback edition of the Bhagavad Gita is old and very fragile now.
But, I had it with me back when my consciousness first submerged into Silence.
These are the words that I underlined then.
I’m sorry that Adyashanti doesn’t speak about God more. Perhaps it is the Zen in him.
And I’m sorry that I couldn’t stay Awake. Perhaps it is the ego in me.

In cosmic consciousness silence and activity co-exist at the same level; whereas the level of God-consciousness is completely free of all duality; it is the living silence of eternal life, and Unity pervades all activity as water every wave…. When the awareness of the Self in cosmic consciousness develops into the awareness of God in God-consciousness, it develops on the level of silence; the whole process is one of the transformation of silence. At every step the quality of silence changes.… In transcendental consciousness, silence is devoid of any activity. In cosmic consciousness, the silence of Self-awareness co-exists with activity. In God-consciousness, the co-existence of activity and silence is transformed into oneness of awareness with God. This silence of God-consciousness is the most highly developed state of silence. It is all life on the almighty level of existence. It is the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient silence of Godhead. It is a completely different state of silence, which has nothing in common with the silence of cosmic consciousness or transcendental consciousness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, On the Bhagavad Gita, A New Translation and Commentary, Chapter 6, verse 3.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Silence, Part 1: A Body from the Absolute

the genius
Originally uploaded by yves.harnois

In my last post, I mentioned the discomfort I was wrestling with. I described it as “shredding the Silence.” I’d like to try to explain that experience more closely, for it bears upon how it is we live in Silence.

Since 1975, Silence has descended upon me, sprung up around me, washed over in a splashing wave, or simply tickled my spine. Silence is the most direct approach I have to the transcendent Absolute. And lately, it has presented itself with such intensity there’s simply no way my body can absorb it, relax into it, or simply “adjust.”

It’s like trying to sit still and relax into a sustained jolt of electricity – except its utter Silence. My reaction is immediate and totally reflexive. I shut down tight and the whole jolt passes in a few seconds.

The curious thing about last week’s “shredding of the Silence” was that it seemed to be an opportunity for Silence to come into me without being immediately rejected.
More precisely - the Silence merged into one side of me.
There it met the resistance of my own body, a body formed from “Ether” rather than the usual flesh and bone or even molecules or energy and light.
Ether is the best label I can give it.
I see it as crystal clear, without even molecular or vaporous content.
It’s like heat waves rising mirage-like above the highway. Except this Ether is not hot, nor are there any waves.
But, it was there, taking up space, forming my body, and abutting with the Silence right along the midline of my physical body.
The Silence was something distinctly different from Ether. Lacking the crystal clarity of the latter, Silence was an unbounded, immaterial presence.
It was also not my body. But, it was ready to move in.
My insistence upon moving, upon thinking, upon doing anything of much consequence caused a shredding of the Ether spreading out from where it abutted with the Silence.
It was a most physical lesson on Wholeness breaking into individuality.
Wholeness became separated, even as it permeated.

It was a hard and curious lesson.
It’s a lesson that I’m kind of left to figure for myself.
The only text I can refer to are these words from Maharishi, notes I took the winter of 1974, from a video tape shown at a TM teacher retreat.
(Maharishi was actually discussing the possibility of physical immortality, but I’ve edited it for an emphasis towards my own situation.)
Where Maharishi speaks of Absolute, you can just as easily substitute the word Silence.

What ages? Certainly not consciousness. One thing that is ever the same is the field of consciousness. What ages is a product of consciousness – energy or matter, that which is the home of consciousness…that which is not changing is only the Absolute and from this it’s apparent [that] if there is a body made of Absolute, then it couldn’t change. If we can mould a form of that, then we’ll have a body structured out of that which knows no change. Whether it’s possible to have such a body – the real answer is if… we can locate a body made from the finest Relative, then we can conceive of a formless form…

Prior to transcendental experience is matter of [the] finest state of [the] physical. Physical values of life are found in finer and finer values, we know from experience. Physics say[s] “ground state”… These theories are structured through direct experience through instruments. And at each of these levels it’s possible to structure a body. If there is that matter existing, then the bodies can be molded out of that…

[The] time value of gross [level of Creation] is different from the time value of the subtle. But, we’re so habituated to feel the passage of time we feel some factor of time when we transcend. We may feel five minutes has past while meditating and we come out and thirty minutes are gone. So, the quality of life is different when bodies are structured in finer matter. On the finest level we have a word for it – celestial - where bodies are glowing with light, bodies made of light…

Biological immortality will be on the same level as the abstract immortality of consciousness. Only consciousness is non-changing. Unless one can understand that there is a material that is non-material, so concrete yet so abstract, a man cannot comprehend that until he has the experience…

Bodies made of light. Light is finer than sound. Sound is finer than waves. Consciousness is finer [than everything]. So there is that level of substance that is so refined. And as that experience becomes more and more clear, then we can conceive of a body made of the Absolute.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, LaAntilla, Spain, 1973.

It’s nice to find such passages.
It helps me trust my own experience.
(And I apologize how my editing and Maharishi’s spontaneous speech make it read a bit jumpily.)
I don’t feel nuts. But, I do feel a bit outlandish.
However, there is some very interesting biology here.
And Silence is important too…

As is comic relief.
Maharishi went on to speak of Tapas – purification of the body to refine its elements into the celestial.
During this past week, I have spontaneously become the simplest of vegetarians. No more meat for now. So, it seems some Tapas begins solely intuitively.
However, I fine it difficult to believe that my blend of decafe and regular coffee, beta blockers and calcium channel agonists is really the stuff of traditional regimens.
Which brings us back to the interesting biology of all this.

What does it take to physiologically support enlightenment?
Take a look at this video of Ramana Maharishi before you answer.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Promise (of dubious worth)

Canvas 6
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

I have sat down with the promise to myself of “just write” and post whatever.
Whatever. It was been a quiet (strange?) whatever kind of week. My difficulty with writing has continued.

For one thing, I’ve kind of given up on thinking – though my mind is filled with thoughts. I find “intellectual activity” (and yes, that is actually behind most of these post) – intellectual activity in the form of thought after thought has become at times unbearable.

Why? Because I cannot stand how all the thoughts seem to pull me out of myself and away from the knowing discovery that “feeling” can provide. Driving into work the other morning (just about the only morning I made it into work last week) I saw quite clearly how thinking pulls me up and out of myself. I didn’t like that and was looking at the phenomenon closely. Then, I realized, “Well, at least that makes it very clear – You are not your thoughts.” Of course, this s a philosophical belief of mine, but just that moment, belief gave way to direct experience.

Thoughts are like these skyrockets I send up from the Silence of myself. Skyrockets are great fun and colorful delights. But, they are no more “me” than my body is. Though I (whoever that may be) do live in close proximity to both thoughts and physiology. In fact, we intermix.

I didn’t stay at work for long that day. My body has had its own struggles. Last Saturday a bunch of old friends and I went for a kayak float down a river in north Georgia. It was a perfect day. The river carried us along and required little work. We linked kayaks up in continually shifting combinations and caught up on each other’s lives. We picnicked on a gravel bank, floated pass turtles sunning by the dozen, gazed up into the blue, blue sky and inhaled the greenness of the trees. After seven miles of these delights we got out, dried off, and regrouped at Pod’s house overlooking a lake just outside Atlanta. I haven’t had such a good time in months.

The next morning I woke up with a migraine; too many nitrates in the potato salad? I don’t know. (Well, yes, in part it was the nitrates.)

But, I was also suffused with Silence, apparently absorbed from all that Nature and enlivened by all the happiness and laughter. The Silence sickened me as much as any migraine. For below all the muscle, blood, skin, and bones, my body was also composed of Silence and my insistance upon moving, thinking, focusing on task painfully torn into it and ripped the Silence into shreds. “One layer up” my inner body energetically became a silence scream. A layer up from that was a “migraine” of sorts.

I called in Monday with the migraine excuse. Though none of the drugs I took relieved the symptoms: low grade headache, nausea, trembling, poor balance, eyes not working. It was enough of a migraine to use as a somewhat honest excuse. But, it was something else too. My consciousness was wide open. I spent a lot of time sitting on the back deck, watching two robins tend their nest. I also caught up on cleaning and laundry, with naps freely interspersed. When I slept, there was pure wakefulness. When I went to work, I couldn’t understand my protocols – the instructions for my experiment. I would reread each sentence, moving my finger along below the words for emphasis, but nothing would compute. I couldn’t figure how to do things I have done several times before. Meanwhile, continually shredding Silence became a roar of jangled, chaotic energy. I soon had to return to my bed.

As long as mind is associated with the object, so long as is it experiencing mind; but when the object of experience has diminished to the point where it has disappeared, the mind ceases to be experiencing mind. Conscious mind becomes consciousness. But during this process of transformation, it first gains the state of its own individuality…
The verse does not speak of the mind but of “thought” as being steady. The Sanskrit word is chitta, which signifies that aspect of mind which is a quiet and silent collection of impressions or seeds of desire. Chitta is like water without ripples. It is called manas, or mind, when ripples arise.

When the mind gains the state of chitta… It holds its individuality in the void – the abstract fullness around it – because there is nothing for it to experience. It remains undisturbed, awake in itself.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, On the Bhadgavad Gita, a New translation and Commentary. Chapter 6, verse 19.

I think that physiologically my body/mind was ready to sit quietly. However, I live in the world. I have a 9 to 5 job. And so that which would melt silently … “Imagine a silent wave on a silent ocean, ready to merge into the silence of the deep” (MMY) – imagine taking a stick to that water and whipping it into a frenzy. That’s what moving in the world felt like all week. That’s what forming thoughts coherently into writing feels like just now. It nauseates my body and sets everything to trembling.

So, OK. Enough for now. I’ve kept my promise.
I have this one thought, RE: Why bother doing this?
I hope that this chronicle might be of use to someone, somewhere, someday.

Adya says if the question is occurring to you, then you also know the answer. So, when I ask myself, “What is going on?” I look to see.
And, I think I see. I think I understand. And so might someone else. But, the answers often seem so outlandish that doubt arises. Doubt is weakening and we don’t need that. So, from time to time it helps to discover that someone else has passed this way. And perhaps, this is the path... and then thorns and brambles don’t matter quite so much.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Feel So Near

There’s no posted photo today because this entry is so centered on the image in my mind. Ah, yes, a click can take you there – to a Flickr contact who doesn’t have a “blog this” link on this particular photograph.
That’s OK.
This image lives in memory. It lives out of time and is freed from the usual fetters.

For instance, it came swirling up into my consciousness this morning as I listened to this song by Dougie MacLean. And if I could control your actions, I’d have you click up the song at YouTube and ask you then to “minimize” it out of sight. Listen to the music and have this image in your mind.

You'll find me sitting at this table with my friend Finn and my friend John
My friend Murdaney tells us stories of things long gone, long gone
And we may take a glass together, the whisky makes it all so clear
It fires our dulled imaginations and I feel so near, so near

I feel so near, to the howling of the wind
Feel so near, to the crashing of the waves
Feel so near, to the flowers in the field
Feel so near

The old man looks out to the island, he says this place is endless here
There's no real distance here to mention we might all fall in, all fall in
There’s no distance to the spirits of the living, no distance to spirits of the dead
And as he turned his eyes were shining and he proudly said

I feel so near, to the howling of the wind
Feel so near, to the crashing of the waves
Feel so near, to the flowers in the field
Feel so near

So we build our tower of construction, there to mark our place in time
To justify our great destruction, as on we climb on we climb
Now the journey doesn't seem to matter, the destinations' faded out
But gathering out along the headlands, I hear the children shout, children shout

I feel so near, to the howling of the wind
Feel so near, to the crashing of the waves
Feel so near, to the flowers in the field
Feel so near

Friday, May 16, 2008

Waking Up each Morning

early incarnation
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.
Adrienne Rich, Power

Or to put this in another way and on another level:
It is necessary that the Current be attuned to the resources of the body and particularly the nervous system. While in the Current, I feel exaltation and a sense of well being that reaches well down into the outer organism, yet this does not change the fact that the Current is a powerful energy and does tax certain powers of endurance… The physical body is clearly the weakest link…

if the body is thought of as something like a ten ampere fuse, while from the transformer, just beyond, there is being delivered a current on the order of one hundred amperes at high potential. One is constantly under a pressure to use more than ten amperes and thus strain the fuse close to the point of burning out.
Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Experience and Philosophy.

And in yet a third manner, this from Eckhart Tolle:
Chi is the inner energy field of your body. It is the bridge between the outer you and the Source. It lies halfway between the manifested, the world of form, and the Unmanifested. Chi can be likened to a river or an energy stream. If you take the focus of your consciousness deeply into the inner body, you are tracing the course of this river back to its Source…

You take a journey into the Unmanifested every night when you enter the phase of deep dreamless sleep. You merge with the Source. You draw from it the vital energy that sustains for a while when you return to the manifested, the world of separate forms. This energy is much more vital than food….

…use your inner body as a portal through which you enter the Unmanifested, and keep that portal open so that you stay connected with the Source at all times. It makes no difference, as far as the inner body is concerned, whether your outer physical body is old or young, frail or strong. The inner body is timeless…
The Power of Now.

Most mornings, lately, I wake up with something of an elevator ride.
It begins from the ground floor of “Existence”- I guess.
No object. No thought. No dream. Still, there seems to be something to the Nothing, when I look back in time. A bit of light, something even though there’s nothing, it is certainly not empty.

A swoosh as if some elevator is rising, pulls “me” out of That pure being, into a tingling field of energy as simultaneously I regain the ability for thought and to notice what is going on.
The tingling energy of rather dingy light (I want to call it “golden” – but that’s too clean and clear) this electric tingling of dirty dish-water energy swells up and floods my physical body. Instantly, my physical body is racked by inner trembling and nausea, where previously body was just fine and resting quietly.

Now, I can notice that it’s morning and the bedroom is surrounding me.
The elevator ride is over, even as awareness of my inner body remains.
I lie there for a moment hoping things will settle, become less intense, before I venture reaching out a hand to Bennie.

He is such a happy fellow. By contrast, I am feeling fairly trashed.
The ride up into "awareness of..." is such an uncontrolled process and where I am deposited is so very disappointing.
It all ends up in an “Ugh” and nausea.

Becky and I used to laugh about a picture of me as a baby in my buggy, ca.1952.
We entitled it, “Patty, trapped in her body.”
We joked about the shock of incarnating and how I’d been blessed with one solid chunk of body. (“Ninety-fifth percentile in every grade school class and all of it was muscle, dense.”)

Waking up these days seems to be a small scale recapitulation of that incarnating.
Leave the Light, take on inhabitation of this dross, dross body.
I find it tedious.
I also think of Maharishi saying whenever we’d complain, “Something good is happening.”

But, I think Tolle has put it somewhat inaccurately.
It does make a difference what shape your body is in.
(Why else do people become vegetarians, especially while on spiritual retreat?)

Each morning's re-awakening leads me to all sorts of questions.
Why is my inner light so dingy? What inner alchemy is this?
Does the physical body pollute the inner? Or, does the subtle stir-up the gross?
I bet both sides can be to blame. So, which direction, out-to-in or in-to-out, is causing my particular malaise?
Is this dross of physical or psychological origin? What did I eat yesterday? What can I change today? Is this toxicity from this life? A past life?
…so many questions… I will stop here.

… Or, perhaps, I’d do well to rethink the fact I’m sleeping with a dog.
Oh! That is simply far too sad.

Bennie stays.

And now I see. The physical body is the fuel. The inner body is the flame.
The inner body doesn’t care what the physical is like: strong, weak, pure, impure.
It’s all fuel for the fire and It will burn the dross until all the fuel is gone.
Nothing gross (including Bennie) can pollute this fire.
But, you can sure generate a lot of smoke, shakes, nausea, and more.

As with tending any fire, you want a clean and controlled burn.
And tending to the fire is a skill we each must master for our selves.

As for The Poet, Merrell-Wolff, and Tolle, they are right on – each in their own way.

You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone ...
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down
the upbreathing air.

Adrienne Rich, “Twenty-One Love Poems,” The Dream of a Common Language.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grief, Part III: dying, death, and birth

Canvas F
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
I thought it’d be nice to share the story of Ramana Maharishi’s enlightenment which is posted in greater detail here.
Notice how this Saint responded to the thought, “I’m dying.”
He was totally free from the drama, gyrations, and flapping arms that most of us go through. And yet, he still experienced that fear that the Taoists speak of as ru ding.

In his seventeenth year, in full health and in normal waking state he was suddenly overwhelmed with the fear of death and fully convinced that death was imminent. The inexplicable feeling would not leave so the boy began to ponder on the meaning of death. He was alone in his upper story room at the time so he decided to act out death and inquire into the meaning of it. He laid down with his arms stiffly at his sides as if dead, held his breath and said to himself;

Now death has come but what does it mean?
What is it that is dying?
The body dies and is carried off to the cremation ground and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead?
Am I the body?
This body is now silent and inert but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of the 'I' within me, apart from the body.
So I am the Spirit transcending the body.
The body dies but the spirit that transcends it cannot be touched by death.
That means that I am the deathless Spirit.

The awareness of this knowledge took full possession of him, not at the level of mere mental awareness but at the deeper level of complete spiritual self-awareness. He suddenly became the Spirit and knew himself as That, no longer identifying himself as merely the body form that had been called Venkataraman. Self realization was instantaneous, complete, and irreversible. His ego was lost in a flood of pure Self awareness.

How could Ramana Maharishi be so calm about it all?
Perhaps he had little if any pain-body. Maybe his ego didn’t fight him. Or perhaps the conditioning of his mind was not as deep as most.
Whatever the reason was, he wasn’t in the shape most of us are in.
Most of us have work to do, before and after awakening. We get to practice seeing through our conditioning and fears repeatedly on many levels.

…the vast majority of people who come see me, or any other teacher, would probably do well with a little help from a good psychologist… Somehow or other the conditioning will need to be addressed, either before awakening or after awakening. You can have direct experiences of deep reality, but if you have too much psychological conflict, or your ego is still too fractured and not functioning coherently, it will keep holding you back.
Adyashanti, Who Hears This Sound? The Sun, December, 2007

Ah, yes.
Adya has described this process of examining ourselves on deeper and deeper levels, as peeling away layer after layer of an onion. Eventually, all the layers are lying in a pile at your feet.
And you are left with Nothing in your hands.
The Nothing… (that is everything).

Well, I’ve opened enough presents wrapped in tissue paper to know that fingertips can tell what’s coming. I think the same holds true layers of an onion.
And so the whole process can be scary. You can feel the dissolution coming.
But, what does it really mean?

Somehow, you have to find the integrity to look closely and inquire.
So, let me end all this talk of grief and fear and dying with these words of the French Vedantist, Arnaud Desjardins (with thanks to Beth for telling me of him):

Westerners commonly consider life to be the opposite of death, but Orientals consider birth to be the opposite of death.
For them, life expresses itself through a movement of perpetual change: an uninterrupted play of death and birth… the birth of the child is the death of the baby; the birth of the adolescent is the death of the child.
Daring to live means daring to die at each moment.
But it also means daring to be born – daring to pass through important stages in life where the person you use to be dies, in order to make room for someone with a new view of the world…
To put it simply, daring to live also means no longer having the slightest fear of what we feel.
Arnaud Desjardins, The Jump Into Life: Moving Beyond Fear.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Grief, Part II: the Crucifixion

Canvas D
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

Pat had gotten up from the table, for a moment, leaving Becky and me quietly digesting. We’d been talking about their life in Mexico.
“What was Becky doing there?” She didn’t know. She only knew it was important, the next step for her spiritually.
Then out of that silent pause, I was looking up from my plate, eyes all watery.
The softest, most unanticipated thought had just surprised me and was settling upon my lips, “I’m dying.”
The tears were an expression of the gentle sweetness of this new understanding.
I hesitated. Was this the time to speak it out?
No – that would require too many words, words that were better left to others:

But, as even the personal man is much more than the physical body, the price goes deeper than the body.
There is a kind of dying, proceeding in the midst of continued bodily existence.
Doubtless it is but natural that the personal nature should dread all this and, in a measure, grieve. For here we have the true meaning of the crucifixion….

Awakening calls for a profound, though possibly subtle, virility…
A fire descends and consumes the personal man.
For a time, short or long, this Fire continues.
The personal man is the fuel, and the fuel, in greater or lesser measure, does suffer.
But the fire does not destroy; it simply transforms.
Franklin Merrill-Wolff, Experience and Philosophy

I bet that everyday, somewhere in Mexico, there is a re-enactment of the crucifixion.
Earlier at dinner, we spoke of how the myths that really catch on are the stories that hold true on many levels.
Now that Becky lives part of every month in the land where she was born, Jesus finally made sense to her.
In Mexico, Catholic cathedrals were put in place right over Aztec pyramids.
This is a people who know all about human sacrifice.
And here I had told them about the words of Merrill-Wolff regarding crucifixion.

But, I hadn’t mentioned why I was rereading him.
I have been watching this grief inside me, wondering if the energy/emotion will resolve before it actually shreds my heart. Sometimes it has felt fairly nip and tuck.
The aneurysm they found in January, right where the aorta ascends from my heart, is obviously bulging from the strain.
“Hypertension,” they say. And there are all kinds of calculations as to the chance of rupture, and all kinds of drugs to swallow.

Here too, a story holds on many levels.
How will it all play out?
How much of me is dying?
And what will be the price?
Not that it really matters.
I am ready to pay anything… almost.

My final word on this particular subject is: I sought a Goal the existence of which I had become convinced was highly probable. I succeeded in finding this Goal, and now I KNOW, and can also say to all others: “IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH ANYTHING THAT IT MAY COST, AND IMMEASURABLY MORE.”
Franklin Merrell-Wolff, speaking of his own enlightenment.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grief: "Yes!"

Canvas C
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

I’ve not written in a while – it has seemed impossible.
I’ve decided to try posting snippets, and in this case, a transcript that I’ve been contemplating.

It’s a rather long excerpt from an Adyashanti CD, Enlightenment: The Direct Approach.
It deals with grief: grief with a capital G - grief that at times shakes the student, Adya is talking with, into convulsions.
Such deep grief has become very familiar to me in the past few months.

I want to understand such grief.
But, also notice that when Adya speaks of resisting the Immensity he speak of the entire Cosmos and he doesn’t frame his comments as metaphor or analogy. (He uses metaphor later, referring to plugging a hose with your thumb.)

The Grief at issue here touches an Immensity, and that Immensity apparantly involves, both experientially and in parsing Adya’s words, the entire Universe.
I was always embarrassed by Maharishi using the term Cosmic Consciousness.
Now, I believe he was simply trying to be accurate in his terminology.

How is this possible – that human consciousness becomes Cosmic?
What would that process feel like?
The proverbial camel and the eye of a needle come to mind.
But the extremes of the actual task are far greater actually: one individual and the entire Universe.

Notice too, that when Adya asks the student to explain her grief, she says she feels like she’s been “living life backwards.”
Awhile ago I mentioned Thomas Merton’s description of Adam’s sin as “a double movement of introversion and extraversion.”
In this phrase “living life backwards” we again meet something of that trick of twist.
Somehow, the Cosmos in which I exist seems to keep getting turned around and swallowed so that it resides within me.
I find this flip and twist excruitating. I react as one would to an electrocution.
Later, upon reflection, I find that returning to my true nature feels like executing some sort of fancy dive: forward somersault with full twist.
And you must pull it off without the slightest splash.

...But, the main point here regards grief and the transcript goes like this:

Student: About three months ago I gave up what I was doing, not really knowing why, but I just had to do it… I have this sense that there is something deeper in me wanting to move through and by doing what I was doing, I was just kind of bailing-out. And I just couldn’t do it anymore. But it really meant just falling back and giving up income and having no idea what was going to happen.

So what’s been happening in that process is just a lot of grief, just intense grief touching upon a depth of aloneness that is terrifying. I can intellectualize what is going on and yet … the feelings that come up are just so big, they feel like they are just going to rip me apart. And there is part of me that wants that, just let it take me over and I can’t…

Adya: It’s going to happen you know that. The moment is going to come and you’re not going to be able to resist it… It’s just about saying yes to it. Yes…. Whatever. Yes. It’s going to kill me. Yes. I’m ready.

Student: Yeah. I can say that when I’m not in it.

Adya: What I am saying is it will visit you until you get to that place where you really say/feel throughout your being, Yes.
Yes, you’re just done resisting…
There is a great Immensity that is coming up within you. The thing that makes it feel intense though, as opposed to immense (immense and intense are different things)… The Cosmos is immense. It’s not necessarily intense. The resistance of that much space, the resistance makes it be perceived as an intensity… Something holds on as the Immensity of Being is coming into your consciousness. Then It is experienced as very intense, overwhelming, terrifying maybe.
That’s why I say when you can get to the moment when you can just say, “Yes!” it’s like you’ve taken your finger off the front of the hose… It’s experienced totally differently. All is well. Then all is unimaginably well.

Student: Yeah. I’ve had glimpses of that… And you know the grief that is in there, that endless, endless grief, it just takes me over sometimes. It’s just unstoppable.

Adya: What’s the grief about? What’s the bottom of the grief?

Student: There’s really not a story or a memory…the best I can put it, I feel like I’ve been living life backwards in a way and that I’ve come to this core of I can call it separation, just the deepest, deepest core separation, just being ripped apart out of wholeness…I find it difficult because I don’t see it around me much. It feels like such a lonely process.

Adya: It feels lonely for the moment inside yourself [as other people hide it]… inside of us, [there] is the central wound…the core wound of turning away from what we really are. As soon as we turned away we experienced separation that causes a grief and suffering and everything else that follows. But as you get very close to that essential turning away… that’s the grief, the grief for having turned away from what you really were and the separation immediately issued. … it’s the grief of turning away from the immensity of what you really are.

Student: And that’s what it feels like, that I am on that edge. I just have to remember. I have to know what I hold in me, what I’m here to express, cause it’s just so painful not to.

Adya: You’ll find it by turning into that intensity. And when I say, “Yes,” I’m trying to impart a certain sense - it’s the letting go of resistance.

“The drop experiences the Ocean by becoming one with it.”
That’s what Maharishi use to say.
No complicated somersaults and twists need be involved.
In fact, Maharishi used to describe the inward dive of meditation as simply leaning over and letting go.