Friday, June 11, 2010

This Morning’s Drive to Work

Scene of the day:
A rather tired looking woman in dark surgical scrubs carries her son across six lanes of traffic – she has to make it before the light changes and so she lumbers on. He, meanwhile, looks out over her shoulder at all the cars whizzing by.
He is waving. Waving and smiling from ear to ear! Hello! Hello! To everyone.
Across to sidewalk she sets him down and pulls his shirt smooth with abrupt jerks that do not register.
Even now, he is looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide and seeking to return.
He still smiles. His hand, down by his side, is still open in the remains of wave.

Quote of the dawn:
There are many versions of realized death short of physically dying…there are also the quiet deaths.
How about the day you realized you weren't going to be an astronaut or the queen of Sheba?
Feel the silent distance between yourself and how you felt as a child,
between yourself and those feelings of wonder and splendor and trust.
Feel your mature fondness for who you once were, and the recurrent need to protect innocence wherever you might find it.
The silence that surrounds the loss of innocence is the most serious death, and yet it is necessary for the onset of maturity.
… As our lives roll into the ordinary, when our ideals sputter and dissipate, as we wash the dishes after yet another meal, we are integrating death, a little part of us is dying so that another part can live.
Matthew Sanford, The Body’s Grace… which is not so much about dying as it is about living without separation. Which brings me to…

Song of the Day; which came on the radio right after I saw the woman and the boy:

There's a reason why when my son (who's six) is crying, he needs a hug.
It's not just that he needs my love.
He needs boundary around his experience.
He needs to know that the pain is contained and can be housed, and it won't be limiting his whole being… he gets a hug and, mmm, he drops into his body.
And when you drop into your body, paradoxically, typically pain is less.
Matthew Sanford, The Body’s Grace

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Anthony de Mello: Three stories

Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
A friend recently tipped me onto Father Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, born in Mumbai, India.
Yes, he was an Indian Catholic.
While I’ve broken the de Mello’s words into three stories here, they are actually an excerpt from the essay, “Losing Yourself to Find Yourself.”
That some of his writings were banned by Pope Benedict (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger) adds poignancy to the final lines of the last story.

Suppose somebody walks into my room one day.
I say, "Come right in. May I know who you are?"
And he says, "I am Napoleon."
And I say, "Not the Napoleon . . ."
And he says, "Precisely. Bonaparte, Emperor of France."
"What do you know!" I say, even while I'm thinking to myself, "I better handle this guy with care."

''Sit down, Your Majesty," I say.
He says, "Well, they tell me you're a pretty good spiritual director. I have a spiritual problem. I'm anxious, I'm finding it hard to trust in God. I have my armies in Russia, see, and I'm spending sleepless nights wondering how it's going to turn out."
So I say, "Well, Your Majesty, I could certainly prescribe something for that. What I suggest is that you read chapter 6 of Matthew: "Consider the lilies of the field . . . they neither toil nor spin."

By this point I'm wondering who is crazier, this guy or me.
But I go along with this lunatic.
That's what the wise guru does with you in the beginning.
He goes along with you; he takes your troubles seriously.
He'll wipe a tear or two from your eye.
You're crazy, but you don't know it yet. The time has to come soon when he'll pull the rug out from under your feet and tell you, "Get off it, you're not Napoleon."
In those famous dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, God is reported to have said to her, "I am He who is; you are she who is not."

Have you ever experienced your is-not-ness?
In the East we have an image for this. It is the image of the dancer and the dance.
God is viewed as the dancer and creation as God's dance.

It isn't as if God is the big dancer and you are the little dancer.
Oh no. You're not a dancer at all.
You are being danced!

Did you ever experience that?
So when the man comes to his senses and realizes that he is not Napoleon, he does not cease to be.
He continues to be, but he suddenly realizes that he is something other than what he thought he was…

How do you change yourself?
There are many things you must understand here, or rather, just one thing that can be expressed in many ways.
Imagine a patient who goes to a doctor and tells him what he is suffering from.
The doctor says, "Very well, I've understood your symptoms. Do you know what I will do? I will prescribe a medicine for your neighbor!"
The patient replies, "Thank you very much, Doctor, that makes me feel much better."
Isn't that absurd?
But that's what we all do.
The person who is asleep always thinks he'll feel better if somebody else changes.
You're suffering because you are asleep, but you're thinking, "How wonderful life would be if somebody else would change; how wonderful life would be if my neighbor changed, my wife changed, my boss changed."

A friend of mine told me that there's an African tribe where capital punishment consists of being ostracized.
If you were kicked out of New York, or wherever you're residing, you wouldn't die.
How is it that the African tribesman died?
Because he partakes of the common stupidity of humanity.
He thinks he will not be able to live if he does not belong.
It's very different from most people, or is it?
He's convinced he needs to belong.
But you don't need to belong to anybody or anything or any group.
You don't even need to be in love. Who told you you do?

What you need is to be free.
What you need is to love.
That's it; that's your nature.

But what you're really telling me is that you want to be desired.
You want to be applauded, to be attractive, to have all the little monkeys running after you.
You're wasting your life.
You don't need this. You can be blissfully happy without it.

Your society is not going to be happy to hear this, because you become terrifying when you open your eyes and understand this.
How do you control a person like this?

Monday, June 07, 2010


Blueberry Buddha
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
I am not devoted to one master.
Still, when I read this story it brought a new understanding that cut me deeply.

T.K. Sundaresa Iyer (T.K.S) met Sri Ramana in 1908 when T.K.S was only a twelve year old boy. Bhagavan, although a full blown Self-Realized sage, was also quite young… One day T.K.S asked his cousin (Krishnamurthy) where he went every day.
Krishnamurthy told him about Ramana and said, “The Lord of the Hill Himself is sitting in human form, why don’t you come with me.” Both of them then climbed the Hill and went to Virupksha cave to visit the Sage.

Now the story in T.K.S.’s own words:
I too climbed the Hill and found Bhagavan sitting on a stone slab, with about 10 devotees around him. Each would sing a song. Bhagavan turned to me and asked, “Well, won’t you sing a song also.” One of Sundramurthy’s songs came to my mind and I sang it. It’s meaning was, “No other support have I, except thy holy feet. By holding on to them, I shall win your grace. Great men sing your praise Oh, Lord. Grant that my tongue may repeat Thy name even when my mind strays.”

“Yes. That is what must be done,” said Bhagavan, and I took it to be his teaching for me. From that time on, I went to see him regularly for several years without missing a day.

One day I wondered why I was visiting him at all. What was the use? There seemed to be no inner advancement. Going up the hill was meaningless toil. I decided to end my visits on the hill.

For one hundred days exactly I did not see Bhagavan. On the hundred and first day I could suffer no longer and I ran to Skandasramam, above Virupaksha Cave. Bhagavan saw me climbing, got up and came forward to meet me. When I fell at his feet, I could not restrain myself and burst into tears. I clung to them and would not get up.

Bhagavan pulled me up and asked: “It is over three months since I saw you. Where were you?” I told him how I thought that seeing him was of no use. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is of no use, so what? You felt the loss, did you not?”

Then I understood that we did not go to him for profit, but because away from him there was no life for us.

Yes. That’s it: away from That there is no life for me.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Song of the Day

girls 60
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
I was telling a friend recently I have kind of got off-line mentally.
This was not my intention. Rather my belly drove me there – too much stirred up energetically and finally the mind just quit.
My friend had warned me: belly trouble means resistance.
So now, the resistance has stopped… no more brain.
The eyes see. The ears hear. The brain does not make so much a story.

Which brings me to “The Song of the Day,” heard on the radio while driving to work.
It had me dancing in my head. It had me humming along.
It had me chuckling.

I often hear “Song of the Day” while coming to work. I always spare you.
Well, not today.
Hear. See. Do. Share.

The song? … you’ll have to hear.
Stupid? Yes. (Eyes closed may help.)
Revealing my age? Sure!
Oh, Yes!