Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
from “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”
That day I saw beneath dark clouds the passing light over the water and I heard the voice of the world speak out, I knew then, as I had before life is no passing memory of what has been nor the remaining pages in a great book waiting to be read. It is the opening of eyes long closed. It is the vision of far off things seen for the silence they hold. It is the heart after years of secret conversing speaking out loud in the clean air. It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees before the lit bush. It is the man throwing away his shoes as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished, opened at last, fallen in love with solid ground. — David Whyte
Shared joy with you here at the Nameless Cafe. Enjoying the hint of Autumn, the still sunny days, the fullness of Summer's backside...
Quote I read this morning: “Enlightenment is the realization of completeness. It’s the seeing of God equally in all, seeing the perfection of all, the completeness of all, and therefore the nonseparation of all. Dare you see it?” ~ Adyashanti
“Our job is to love people. When it hurts. When it’s awkward. When it’s uncool and embarrassing. Our job is to stand together, to carry the burdens of one another and to meet each other in our questions.” -- Jamie Tworkowski
Moving deeply in love, we might notice a sense of incompleteness, that something is missing. Love flows. The paradox is while it's flowing it's always in the now. It's a process, not a state. We can't grasp and hold it. It emerges from our being, flowing like fragrance floats on a warm summer's day; just out of the blue, unsusceptible to manipulation of any kind. It is never complete, always flowing but with no purpose, no goal. It just is. It's insubstantiality is what gives it it's sweetness.
Deep love is flowing, always passing like a river. It has both joy and heartbreak in it. That's what gives it depth and richness. It is like a real rose as opposed to a plastic one. We can make a plastic rose but no one can make a real rose, nor can anyone keep one in a static state. A rose is an uncontainable miracle, a process that cannot be held on to. It moves on despite our efforts to hold it in place, keep it as it is, keep the tender petals from withering and returning to the source. When we return to the source, when we dissolve in the presence of the rose, we don't know who we are and we don't know what this miracle is filling the view. When we dissolve in the presence of love, we don't know what this bliss is filling our heart.
In the presence of a flower we realize our own fleeting nature as form -- just a few hours dancing in the breeze, in the sunlight, releasing our fragrance, our song. We can learn from the rose, opening its petals with a primordial courage, not trying to hold them closed out of fear of what may come after blossoming, not anxious about an imaginary future. The rose embodies wisdom. When it's time to fall, it falls willingly, with an exquisite grace and nobility. In full flower, dancing in the sun, we share its happiness. When it falls, we're sad. Through this being, we're shown our own impermanence and the impermanence of love. It's a process. We want to hold onto the peak, thinking that this fragrant blossom is the ultimate, and we cling, trying to hold on to the moment: the light, the dazzling beauty, the lovely dance, the sweet fragrance in the air. We want to preserve the moment, perhaps capture this flower in a block of clear plastic. But what we end up with is a dead, preserved flower.
Let the flowers in life flow. Celebrate these blossoms when they emerge and when they fall. They are showering on us now. Do not hold on to them and more will come. Holding on, they dry up anyway; the aliveness, the freshness dries up. Reading Meredith's passage we can feel the river of love, the flowing to ever higher peaks of love. Releasing our love brings these higher peaks. And the process is endless, never complete. Our living, our love is always incomplete and imperfect. Just like the rose in the garden, yes? Allowing love to move and flow has it go on and on. Love is inherent in who we are already.
When we find ourselves in the presence of this love, this divine fragrance Meredith is pointing at, we can remember the space. We can allow ourselves to move in the direction of that fragrance, to move in the vicinity of that sweet music. The music of love is playing softly, subtly, right at this moment. It is just covered over with a lot of noise. Letting that extraneous noise subside, we hear the sweet music of love in the air all around us.
This past week our country was in mourning for the people in Boston where a tragic bombing incident occurred. I was uplifted by this poem revealing the compassion of Kwan Yin.
Yin (also spelled Kwan Yin or Quan Yin and known as Kuan Shih Yin), is known as the Goddess of Compassion & Healing. She is one of the most popular deities in all of Asia. Her name in Chinese roughly translates as "The One who Hears the Cries of the World". She is the most beloved and revered of the Chinese dieties. Kuan Yin is the Divine Mother we all long for: merciful, tender, compassionate, loving, protecting, caring, healing, and wise. She quietly comes to the aid of her children everywhere. Her mantra is 'Om Mani Padme Hum.' (that is, 'Hail the Jewel -or pearl- in the Lotus.')
Kuan Yin’s Prayer for the Abuser To those who withhold refuge, I cradle you in safety at the core of my Being. To those that cause a child to cry out, I grant you the freedom to express your own choked agony. To those that inflict terror, I remind you that you shine with the purity of a thousand suns. To those who would confine, suppress, or deny, I offer the limitless expanse of the sky. To those who need to cut, slash, or burn, I remind you of the invincibility of Spring. To those who cling and grasp, I promise more abundance than you could ever hold onto. To those who vent their rage on small children, I return to you your deepest innocence. To those who must frighten into submission, I hold you in the bosom of your original mother. To those who cause agony to others, I give the gift of free flowing tears. To those that deny another's right to be, I remind you that the angels sang in celebration of you on the day of your birth. To those who see only division and separateness, I remind you that a part is born only by bisecting a whole. For those who have forgotten the tender mercy of a mother's embrace, I send a gentle breeze to caress your brow. To those who still feel somehow incomplete, I offer the perfect sanctity of this very moment.
We asked for a table in the sun at the Nameless. "Good morning, my dearest." The morning is oh-so-lovely with a whisper breeze, warm sun on our shoulders, and a hint of autumn in the air. I love mornings like this one. Especially when I'm with you, a dear friend smiling at me from across the table, sunbeams in his hair. I was thinking more about intimacy. I think there is more yet to explore here. Especially there is more when we consider that line by Dogen that says "to study the self is to lose or forget the self. And to lose or forget the self is to become awakened by, or intimate with, the 10,000 things." The 10,000 things is Zen short-hand for all things, all phenomena. Nothing is left out. How can we be intimate with 10,000 things? Among its definitions, intimacy" is a state of "complete intermixture, fusion, thoroughly interconnected, interrelated, interwoven" and of having "depth of detailed knowledge and understanding and broadness of information from, or as if from, long association, near contact, or thorough study and observation." One teacher says that to forget the wall we place between ourselves and life is to see our complete interbeing with all things, and this direct seeing can only happen through the constant inquiry into all that arises -- all "10,000 things" -- and not walling off those aspects of our life we do not prefer. I'm also reminded of a simple teaching my elderly Swiss friend passed along to me. She said when mediating in the garden, for example, invite the garden to come to you. How sweet is that? Do you think it's possible to invite the red-tail, and cedar bark, and the effortless cloud to come to us? What would it mean? Would we grok it when it arrived? And can we also invite the bereft and furious client or the child who angrily throws a toy at our face, to "come closer, I want to know you." Loving you, a glowing sunbeam in the 10,000 things, ~M
I have been preparing for a pilgrimage these past weeks of summer. In September I am going on the The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known as The Way of St James, which is a collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe. I shall be going only on the final leg of the trail which begins in Sarria Spain and ends in Santiago de Compostela. I am really looking forward to walking this spiritual path. As I have been preparing by walking ever longer distances, I often note some friend along my way. This day it was this black bird on the rock beside the river. I see this Graceful Presence here, watching me, and I know I am not alone, and I also sense I am keenly held in the manner of all things.
Author and lecturer Paula D'Arcy spent time each week with Morrie (of Tuesdays with Morrie) in his final year when he knew he was dying. They had many wonderful conversations, deepening inquiry and communion between them. At one point Morrie asked Paula to tell him anything she knew about the power of Christ. Paula responded thus:
"I didn't know, but I told him that I suspected: that the Spirit hidden deep within us recognizes truths our minds do not consciously know. And in spite of the barriers and limitations we impose, in spite of our fears and our refusals, in spite of our determination to limit Spirit to certain names or beliefs... there is nevertheless a level of awareness within us that exceeds all names and definitions. And this awareness responds from a knowledge the mind does not possess."
Later, reflecting on this conversation D'Arcy writes, "More than anything else, Morrie and I were sharing what it means to be a human being, just as he'd requested. We were exploring meaning. We were asking: What does it mean to be alive? Is this human nature our only nature? Is something else trying to emerge? What will we do with the life we were given? How will we live? What limits are we willing to push? How much are we willing to see?"
From Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love by Paula D'Arcy
I love these questions Paula and Morrie were asking. I love the question Morrie asks Paula, and I love the answer Paula gave Morrie about the power of Christ Spirit within us. Can you feel the loving communion here - deeper than deep?
My teacher said, "To be real is some measure of self love. A wholesome wanting - to know ourselves as we are - is an essential element that supports our spiritual practice. Love is essential to this practice."
As I have been sitting in meditation this past week, I began to notice the feeling of preciousness of coming home to myself. On the cushion my thoughts go wandering, and I have learned to call myself gently back, back to the core of my being where my heartbeat is steady and my breathing is rhythmic. I began (at my teacher's advising) to feel this as coming home to my self, and finding a refuge here, within me. Then, I began to sense that something much larger than me was actually welcoming me home again, with open arms and a graceful holding. Every time my thoughts would wander, I would begin to realize it and come home again, always being welcomed in a profound way. Deep feelings of tenderness welled within me.
The past week I enjoyed five days of silence and listening by attending a Mindfulness and Inquiry Retreat with a favorite teacher, Frank Ostaseski. Today, in the return to my "normal life", I am mindful of the teaching to "feel the flow of experience." Moment to moment, I am observing more than usual what is in the field my awareness - especially what my mind is thinking, what emotions I am noticing, and what my body telling me. In this field of awareness, where "the me disappears" I seem to feel more aware of myself than before. At the same time, I sense that this awareness of me comes not from my small self but rather from a larger Presence within or through me. It is as though by simply feeling the flow of experience, my Being is a kind of vehicle for the sacred.
This simple teaching touches me deeply - through it I sense the truth of my self freshly.
"Somewhere in our history religion became synonymous with God.
Religion is a longing for something, but it is not the thing itself. The thing itself does not need religion. In fact, religion may be the great barrier, because it is so rule-bound and convincing, so driven by ego ("Our" God is the true God).
Spirit, the thing itself, needs nothing to define it.
It cannot be described; it cannot be owned.
It can only be experienced in its wild passion and its love.
It can be encountered, not studied.
The mind cannot grasp it, though it will forever try.
That which we long for has the character of a single relationship, with infinite forms.
All longing is spirit longing for itself.
Spirit may appear as a child, a starlit night, new love, music, art, terror, tragedy, beauty...
may the tide that is entering even now the lip of our understanding carry you out beyond the face of fear may you kiss the wind then turn from it certain that it will love your back may you open your eyes to water water waving forever and may you in your innocence sail through this to that
Some fishermen pulled a bottle from the deep. It held a piece of paper, with these words: "Somebody save me! I'm here. The ocean cast me on this desert island. I am standing on the shore waiting for help. Hurry! I'm here!"
"There's no date. I bet it's already too late anyway. It could have been floating for years," the first fisherman said.
"And he doesn't say where. It's not even clear which ocean," the second fisherman said.
"It's not too late, or too far. The island Here is everywhere," the third fisherman said. They all felt awkward. No one spoke. That's how it goes with universal truths.