Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Healing: Part 2

purple cornflower 3
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
You can know it in the mind
But if the cells don’t know it, attention will be pulled there
Because everything seeks to wake up – every single piece of us.
That’s why attention is drawn to that which is unawakened.

Adyashanti The Omega Institute, July, 2007. (CD8:3)
(On Healing: Part 1, is here)

The doctor insisted that I not drive home.
When I protested, she pointed out that I could not even get from the chair onto the exam table.
I saw her point.

She presented options – drugs, transportation.
What did I want to do?
I was appalled to discover I could not even form a sentence.
I watched myself, sitting limply, head down swinging gently.
I tried to think things through but the mess was just too tangled.
From a distance I heard the doctor mutter “Ah, cannot make a decision.”
Then firmly, “Call a friend. I will be back.”

She left me in the white noise of the examination room.

It was then, I saw exactly how I move through life armored by my wit,
my clever mind,
my repartee.
I use them all to keep the world at bay.
And when intellect is stymied, I have a body that can turn and exit.
I’ve even thrown a punch or two and whipped boys three years my senior.

Clever mind and strong body, these are my carapace.
And at that moment, I was left with neither.
Stripped defenseless.
I felt like some little anemone without one bit of shell – naked, exposed,
and totally unable to defend myself from a world I Do Not Trust.

I struggled not to give into shear terror.
And gradually, I backed away from the abyss.

OK. Accept it. Just go along with what the world wants. This seemed my only option.
I called a friend.
She came and wheeled me home.

Once safely in my bed, I turned on the CD player
and just happened to come across these words of Adyashanti.
They are a continuation of the discussion I shared earlier:

Student: Another aspect of what it [illness] is doing for me… in terms of my striving in life with my work…I’m afraid not to strive.

Adya: So feel the fear of that.
If you don’t face the fear, then you’re just going to strive again…
The fear of course is based on separation…
Anything we’re striving to be, somebody. It is always because we’re compensating for perceived separateness.

Student: Striving to feel like I have enough money to pay my bills…

Adya: Right! Which comes from fear of survival…and that will have a world view of its own…that sees the world as slightly threatening, something that you’ve kind of got to struggle in to take care of yourself…
It comes out of those deep survival impulses.
Again - separateness – that the world will not take care of me.

And it does.
You let it.

I’m not suggesting that it means you sit on your couch and let the riches roll in. But, I’m saying it’s amazing.
Let it.
It does take care of you.
But, you have to meet the fear…

See it. Digest it. Take it in.
Cause then it doesn’t have to keep giving it to you through a negative means, through sickness…

Feeling the fear is the entry point.
A lot of people are pointed to feeling the fear… and through that, if it’s not too traumatic a fear, there’ll be a release… the fear dissipates.
The problem with that is although it’s a quick fix, it’s usually not a real fix.
Because [while] entering an emotional state fully can cause it’s dissipation,
usually the cause is untouched.

So, open to the fear, but as a means to get in touch with the story of the fear,
the voice of the fear, the belief structure of the fear – cause that’s what’s causing the perception of separation:
“Life’s not safe.”
“You’ve got to struggle to make it in the world.”…

You start to feel that belief, that my beliefs, that have an unspoken promise to help me get by and protect me in the world… when you examine them through your mind and your body – your body starts to recognize
“It’s not true!”

The very beliefs that tell me they’re protecting me are hurting me…

It has to be connected from the inside of your head to letting your body feel it.
You’ve got to go slowly and step by step so each thing is felt.
If it is not felt, it’s analytical.

Then, you’re just a person [whose] gone to therapy for 20 years…
and they know how neurotic and totally screwed up they are.
They can tell you why.
They are experts, but experts who are a mess.

Why is that?
Because there is no connection between what they know and what they feel.
They haven’t let the knowledge reconnect them with experience.

The knowledge has been a means of hiding from experience.

So, connect it. Feel the belief…
And when your body feels it …the body will drop it…
Boom! It’s gone right out of your system.

This is actually classic Byron Katie inquiry.
If you’d like more support in being able to do this I recommend her teachings.
There is also a bit more to this discussion which I’ll share in Part 3.

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Healing: Part 1

Stone as egg
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
What you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened.
It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it.
For me, reality is God.

Everything happens for me, not to me.

Byron Katie

A couple weeks ago found me in bed, flattened by what the doctor called, “classic vertiginous migraine.”
After more than 16 days of vertigo and confusion, I was finally drugged and fairly content to just float there in a daze.
For company, I turned on a randomly selected CD from the Adyashanti retreat I attended in 2007.

There, in the luck of the draw, was a student asking about chronic illness.
The discussion that followed spoke to so many points I needed to hear.
I’d like to share some of this - fresh appreciation of old points.
The easiest way to do that is to post my transcriptions here.
So, here’s a dialog about illness, acceptance, and grace.

Student: For a lot of years I have been sick a lot… When I can accept it, it is almost fine…

Adya: As long as you prefer not being sick to being sick, it’s not so problematic… Given a choice, I’ll take the energy! …the problem becomes if we have a judgment that one is essentially more right or more valuable than the other.
Sickness has just as much right to exist as health does.
And if you DON’T think sickness has as much right to exist, then you tend to be sick all the time…

Student: I do have a resistance to being sick. It’s getting old…

Adya: What is it trying to show you? What IS it showing you? What is the positive thing that happens through being sick?

Student: …it really helps me feel, sometimes, more of what I actually am. Cause I can rest in that. I go to that. (and now she is beginning to cry – and so was I. For I know exactly what she means.)

Adya: Ah, Wow! Boy, I’d be thankful for it…
It does push you there because up to this point – maybe the next minute it won’t need to – up to this point you’ve needed to be pushed there.
Cause if you weren’t pushed there, you wouldn’t put attention there with any consistency. When you recover and feel good, the mind gets on with its own agenda. And then the sickness kind of brings it to its knees a little bit… This is a gift, right?

It’s hard, fierce grace.
There’s nice grace and there’s fierce grace – sickness taken to your knees until you see something essential - that’s fierce. We always value easy grace as being better than harsh, fierce grace… When you see what fierce grace is trying to show you, then fierce grace doesn’t need to be so fierce.

I had the same thing by the way. I had a series of illnesses, a couple of which put me more or less in bed for six months at a time – until I could see what they were doing. They were destroying persona.
I told you earlier that I had been a very high level competitive athlete.
That’s a nice persona to have – very empowering persona – but it’s a persona.
I was not ready to let it go. I knew I needed to. I felt it coming.
But, I just couldn’t do it.

So, grace put me in bed, flat on my back until I was so weak…
How can you be a strong athlete when you’re crawling to the bathroom on your hands and knees every morning?
And then it demolished it.
And then it was grace – Ah, that’s not what I am! What a relief! ...

And then health came back.
Hey! I can be athlete man.
So, I had to get sick again and have it demolished.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I’d been smart enough the first time?
…[but] it had to be squeezed out of my system.
God’s not always nice, fortunately.

Acceptance - If I’m good at it will life hurt less?
Yes. … so let me do acceptance…
Will that work?
Probably not, since that’s totally ego driven.

It’s like asking, “If I’m enlightened will life hurt less?”
Yes… so now, I’ll be enlightened.
That just doesn’t work.

And while meditation can be sold as a means to lower blood pressure,
meditation is actually about finding God.
Spirituality isn’t about finding relief. It’s about discovering the Truth.
(my version of a Adya quote)

God isn’t always nice, fortunately.
Sometimes we get sick.
Sometimes Life really hurts.
And the love in this Reality breaks my heart wide open.

Gratitude is what we are without a story.
Byron Katie

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Love after Love

This morning I was listening to John Kabat-Zinn being interviewed on Speaking of Faith. He was giving an articulate argument for mindfulness but my curiosity was peaked when he was asked to address the fact that his father had been a scientist and his mother an artist.

These are my roots too.
The mixing of these two opposites play out in my life each day.
Kabat-Zinn was asked to explain.

He declined a “cognitive” reply and chose instead a poem saying, "it's not very long, but it really hinges around just this issue of who we are and how much we split ourselves apart."

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fabric of the Univerise

She wanted to ask him if horses understood the wind.
His glass eyes looked at nothing. His mane was stiff, glued by the knacker to sit perfectly smooth in wind and stillness. She knew he was gone, that what she heard was only an echo.

But that echo reminded her how to listen deeper than her bones, to listen for what no one else heard.
And as the days passed, and she learned how to listen, when the wind touched her skin she began to hear much more than just her name.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

Those were the words I opened to in the book. Just like that, in the library last Saturday. I’d loved the cover art, and so, judging by the cover, had taken up the book.
Something transformed me as I read. Silence pervaded everything.
I sat there for some moments simply trembling. Looking about the room. Hand stroking the pages of the book.
What was That?
What had these words done to me?

I have read other words this week – emails that have also stayed with me.
Like these words from a young woman I have never met, but with whom I correspond:

I woke up an hour after I'd gone to sleep last night and I didn't know who or what or where I was, or if I was dreaming or awake.
I just was.
It was the most vivid and scary thing, and then I sort of settled back into my story.

I'm not sure how to feel about it but I know I couldn't understand it in any way until I came back to myself.
I do know that earlier in the day I had sort of made a statement to the effect I may not be cut out for any great wonderful Buddha-like experience of enlightenment, and realizing I could just accept that…

Or these words are from a dear friend, a mother mourning her son on her own birthday:

Peter brought me flowers and a composter
(I tried a “pile” before and mostly we got rats).
I have been asking Charlie to “come to me” in meditation and at bedtime for several days now.
Last night I had a convoluted dream in which he called me on a cell phone that I couldn’t figure out in time to pick up…
He sang a few bars of happy birthday. It makes me weepy now.

Simply little snippets: a retelling of the Brothers Grimm, my friends just checking in.
In the fairy tale the young princess will one day learn the language of the wind.
As for my friends, they don’t seem that different to me. Our stories will unfold.

On the way to work today, proceeding at a crawl, at some point I had the thought,
“I am lost in traffic.”
But, I had accepted my fate and so I was at peace.
Except, perhaps, for the fact I could not find a single station that I liked on the radio.
I kept trying a new button, cycling through all six selections until I switched to an entirely new “page.”

There I found Eye in the Sky. And was delighted.
Alan Parsons Project, 1982, my original hieroglyphic calligraphy.
I turned up the volume.
Was the instrumental intro particularly long?
It was beautiful, and the words- the words were once my anthem.

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind…

Bitter days. Was I really once like that?
Now it seems just another love song.
Is it not about God after all? But those words…
“I am the eye in the sky…”

I am lost in traffic going nowhere fast, singing
"I am the eye in the sky."
I think of the painting I did this past weekend, “Fabric of the Universe.”
I think of the wind. What language might it speak?
I think of what my teacher told us last time I was with him:
“Enjoy the little things. Learn to enjoy and notice little things.”

And so I look. I turn my head.

It’s all there: grain of sand, or in the little green sprouts opening by the roadside.
There is a fabric to this Universe – we are connected.
Fairy tales, Love stories, of course the rats are in the compost.
We are dear fools dealing with it.
Debris is everywhere.
The traffic all a snarl as power crews are called out to clean up.
It seems the wind has spoken:
“Slow down, the Light will come back on.”

Monday, April 06, 2009

What the Light Was Like

Eye of the Storm
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
George Eliot, Middlemarch, Book II, Chapter 20, sited in the notes for “August Darks” a poem in What the Light was Like by Amy Clampitt.

The “August darks” what is that, and are we not in April now?
I don’t know.
I am in week three of vertigo and dizziness unassuagible by any drug or Epley maneuver.
And I realize now that Nothingness – one version of that clear perception of Infinity or Silence – can arise from simply a dizzy brain, a troubled middle ear.
I think of Scrooge telling Marley's ghost, “You’re nothing but a bit of undigested meat.”
So, much for spiritual pursuits.

I am not at all clear anymore as to causes or effects,
and was thinking it was to to give up on trying to explain or understand
when I came across this Nisargadatta quote that seemed to only emphasize the point:

Your needs are unreal and your efforts are meaningless.

What a swift kick.

It seems enough to get through the day when most steps shake the floor a good six inches.
I seemed to have lost all sense of shock absorbers.

When nothing stays in focus,
when your world arrives through the wrong end of binoculars,
when gratitude finds inspiration in the fact there is no nausea,
what wonderful support for the practice of letting go.
Let Go.

Nothing can make you happier than you are.
All search for happiness is misery and leads to more misery.
The only happiness worth the name is the natural happiness of conscious being.


Conscious Being...
Beyond the Silence there can be a crushing roar of dissolution.
Or having settled into That, there is the opposite, the outward stroke - the roaring of that March lion, Creation, springing forth.
Did George Eliot realize this? Or do I misconstrue?

Anyway, this poem and these quotations caught my eye,
middle March, middle ear.
I also completed this version of a painting this past weekend.
It’s done upon a photo I took of my bathtub drain and shadows on the water.
It doesn’t seem your usual bathtub. Not at first – but, every child knows just such a tub exists and has explored these waters.

The August Darks

Stealth of the flood tide, the moon dark
but still at work, the herring shoals
somewhere offshore, looked for
but not infallible, as the tide is,
as the August darks are –

sanguine with labor, but effortless:
as is the image, far out, illusory
at the dark’s edge, of a cruise ship
moving, seemingly unscathed by effort,
bright as a stage set…

out where the herring wait, beyond
the surf-roar on the other side of silence…
have already died…
Amy Clampitt

And I try to keep the faith that everything is as it should be even as I maintain the delicate dance of playing my part with best efforts, even while I accept
this is how things are.