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Pressed: 52 Weeks Being Now: Week Forty: Silent Knowledge

12 Aug

52 Weeks Being Now: Week Forty: Silent Knowledge.

IMG_7588

Stopping to Listen: Every so often we get caught up in the inertia of our lives and in the words and actions that precipitate what we believe to be the “truth”. We are so busy trying to figure out what the truth means, that we lose the essential point of why we are trying to learn it in the first place. We want to experience joy. We want to experience love. We believe that the absolute truth will allow us some sense of security in knowing our goodness and that of those around us. Then, and only then, can we experience true joy and love. However, the truth is only a story that we tell ourselves, or that we allow others to interpret of us:

“I am only one half of the message; you are the other half. I am responsible for what I say, but I am not responsible for what you understand. You are responsible for what you understand; you are responsible for whatever you do with what you hear in your head, because you are the one who gives the meaning to every word that you hear” (Ruiz, 2010, p. 104).

Usually, we listen to the words of those we hope are telling us the truth. We watch their actions. We try to align their words and actions so as to have them make testaments of what we need to believe to be true. However, in the end, it is all a story. It is a perspective, and what truly matters is what is beneath the story. “The truth is silent. It’s something you you just know; it’s something that you can feel without words and it’s called silent knowledge” (Ruiz, 2010, p. 110). I refer to it as intuition.

Quiet Communication: Intuition is sometimes fed by little clues. If we really listen, we hear someone’s character by subtler things found in between the words and actions. These sometimes imperceptible details become magnificent, in particular when we are at odds with ourselves and each other. Compassionate details matter most in moments of difficulty. For example: the sound of the patient breath; a loving look; our tears wiped; a patient tone; loving eye-contact; arms open; whispering tones of gratitude; no rushing; quiet rest; the benefit of the doubt; a hug; a loving presence; strong persistence; a belligerent belief in our internal goodness despite the proof in the moment of something less; a hummed melody; pure stillness; compassionate space and intimacy; staying awake; a caress; a touch on furrowed brow; a knowing look; and never ever feeling ignored. All are quiet forms of love that are somewhere between or beyond words and action.

When we show this quiet love, we believe in ourselves more. This silent belief in our own goodness are the roots that we grow into the ground around us. These are the roots of disciplined empathy which I like to call integrity. These roots give ourselves and people confidence in us, even when the wind blows.

Although you are a talisman protecting a treasure,
you are also the mine.
Open your hidden eyes
and come to the root of the root of your Self.
(Rumi, Root of the Root)

When we are quietly strong this way, we and the people around us always know that we only tremble a bit in the storms, or when we are tired. Regardless, we remain standing, and continue to grow upward into the sunlight. There is a tacet understanding that unless we are forcibly chopped down, or burned, our goodness is intrinsic and constant. We do not tire from being this way because it is a good way to be, but it takes effort. We see no limitations to it because we understand that “the mind that perceives the limitation is the limitation” (Buddha).

If we are really listening, we do not question the internal goodness of ourselves and others because it is just there, sometimes covered up by confusing words, and complicated actions and the assumptions that we draw from both. However, if we are really listening, we hear each other in deeper timbres. We know intuitively of the pain and the love that resides deeper inside of us and those around us. We ask different questions. We appreciate the power of the pregnant pause when we respond, not react. We step forward into the wind, not backwards. We sing inwards, rather than shout outwards. We pull forwards rather than push away.

Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.
(Rumi, Root of the Root)

In other words, when we are rooted, we stay. We stay present. We stay connected. This staying is the silent knowledge of our spiritual love as compassionate people in all of our complexities.

“Human beings are millions of things in one day.”
― Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

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Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-Six: Coast to Coast Calling

30 Jul

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-Six: Coast to Coast Calling.

IMG_7097

Coast to Coast Calling

Impenetrable darkness

The Pacific bonfire questions the night sky
“How bright am I?”

Aurora’s luminescent spirits
hiss at the stars

Thunderbird’s wings
slash open the skies

Forest’s wild flames
scratch the night awake

Cygnus’ crystals in milky galaxies
flicker and fall

Light wars
Merely distractions

The Atlantic waters
quietly phosphorescent
reply

“I see you”

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire

28 Jun

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire.

windows

Stay in the Spiritual Fire
Let it cook you
Be a well-baked loaf,
and lord of the table.
You’ve been a source of pain,
Now you’ll be the delight.

Rumi

Hitting the Edges: Charlotte Kasl (1999) reminds me of the courage that it takes to be in an intimate relationship. “New love is a rich time for the spiritual warrior” (p. 34) who is willing to accept the dance of openness. When we allow ourselves to connect with our essence, and let go of our masques, “[o]ur growth begins..as we face parts of ourselves that have always been there” (p. 36). As we unmasque ourselves, we get closer to the essence of who we are and why we are here, and what we seek in our intimate relationships.

Often, the relationships that matter and the ones that we should continue, are those that help us “hit our edges”. They are the ones where we get scared, but learn to face the fears in partnership. “We may hit an edge when someone hurts us, or when someone loves us more than we love ourselves. It is sometimes harder for many people to allow love to pierce their hearts” than to continue in busyness, chaos and distraction. “When people hit an edge, they usually run away by going numb, distracting themselves, changing the subject, counter-attacking, overindulging in addictions or blaming…Remember, love brings up anything that’s hiding. [As well], [w]e sometimes tell ourselves the story that because life was easy before we met a lover, our anxiety and agitation is the fault of our new partner, or not being a good match…” (p. 18 and p. 37). Sometimes we need to be in relationship to open ourselves up for spiritual growth, and that is not always an easy process.

Finding Voice: I remember reading Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak (1999) about finding our authentic voices. He stirred in me the importance of being true to ourselves. He encouraged us to not get caught up in lying about who we are so that we can gain approval. When we are speaking with integrity to ourselves and others, we resonate with joy in our hearts. We fill ourselves and others with strength and security, and not with anxiety.

In contrast, the lies that we sometimes tell ourselves and others distance ourselves from our spiritual path and from those with whom we might be destined to spend our time “…cultivating a garden together…digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives” (Palmer, 1999). It is important for people interested in authentic relationships to dig deeply into what truly matters, and make our way through the years of debris that hid us from ourselves and others. When we finally find it, we are compelled to look up out of the darkness and into the sun. We then have an opportunity to raise our arms up to the sky and sing into the light with the joy of the experience.

Courage: Being willing to stay in the spiritual fire takes courage and a strong belief that we are worthy of that which can bring us closer to our truth. If we are always standing on the outside looking in, and analyzing what can, might or does go wrong, it is difficult to connect with another soul. Being present with another, when all things seem impossible, not only takes courage, but it also takes some help from the universe. We need to appreciate when the universe has intervened, and appreciate the good fortune of finding a strong companion willing to ask what needs to be done so that we are warmed, not burned, by this spiritual fire that we are in together.

It takes the courage to open the different doors where potential soul mates are knocking. Which knock is the right knock? It takes some time and some loving discernment to see past any illusion or ego that might hamper our ability to find the right partner. “Allowing [ourselves] to be shaken to [our] roots is a source of a growing relationship” (Kasl, 1999, p. 172); however, in this challenging journey of intimacy, time usually teaches us who will bend in the wind. Time shows us who will revel in and not hide from the simplicities and complexities of an intimate connection. However, finding true intimacy is a bit of a universal gamble. If found and embraced, it can help us grow into our best selves if we make it our priority to do the work of the spiritual warrior.

Gamble everything for love…
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.
You set out to find God,
but then you keep stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.
Don’t wait any longer.
Dive in the ocean,
leave and let the sea be you…

Rumi

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire

28 Jun

windows

Stay in the Spiritual Fire
Let it cook you
Be a well-baked loaf,
and lord of the table.
You’ve been a source of pain,
Now you’ll be the delight.

Rumi

Hitting the Edges: Charlotte Kasl (1999) reminds me of the courage that it takes to be in an intimate relationship. “New love is a rich time for the spiritual warrior” (p. 34) who is willing to accept the dance of openness. When we allow ourselves to connect with our essence, and let go of our masques, “[o]ur growth begins..as we face parts of ourselves that have always been there” (p. 36). As we unmasque ourselves, we get closer to the essence of who we are and why we are here, and what we seek in our intimate relationships.

Often, the relationships that matter and the ones that we should continue, are those that help us “hit our edges”. They are the ones where we get scared, but learn to face the fears in partnership. “We may hit an edge when someone hurts us, or when someone loves us more than we love ourselves. It is sometimes harder for many people to allow love to pierce their hearts” than to continue in busyness, chaos and distraction. “When people hit an edge, they usually run away by going numb, distracting themselves, changing the subject, counter-attacking, overindulging in addictions or blaming…Remember, love brings up anything that’s hiding. [As well], [w]e sometimes tell ourselves the story that because life was easy before we met a lover, our anxiety and agitation is the fault of our new partner, or not being a good match…” (p. 18 and p. 37). Sometimes we need to be in relationship to open ourselves up for spiritual growth, and that is not always an easy process.

Finding Voice: I remember reading Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak (1999) about finding our authentic voices. He stirred in me the importance of being true to ourselves. He encouraged us to not get caught up in lying about who we are so that we can gain approval. When we are speaking with integrity to ourselves and others, we resonate with joy in our hearts. We fill ourselves and others with strength and security, and not with anxiety.

In contrast, the lies that we sometimes tell ourselves and others distance ourselves from our spiritual path and from those with whom we might be destined to spend our time “…cultivating a garden together…digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives” (Palmer, 1999). It is important for people interested in authentic relationships to dig deeply into what truly matters, and make our way through the years of debris that hid us from ourselves and others. When we finally find it, we are compelled to look up out of the darkness and into the sun. We then have an opportunity to raise our arms up to the sky and sing into the light with the joy of the experience.

Courage: Being willing to stay in the spiritual fire takes courage and a strong belief that we are worthy of that which can bring us closer to our truth. If we are always standing on the outside looking in, and analyzing what can, might or does go wrong, it is difficult to connect with another soul. Being present with another, when all things seem impossible, not only takes courage, but it also takes some help from the universe. We need to appreciate when the universe has intervened, and appreciate the good fortune of finding a strong companion willing to ask what needs to be done so that we are warmed, not burned, by this spiritual fire that we are in together.

It takes the courage to open the different doors where potential soul mates are knocking. Which knock is the right knock? It takes some time and some loving discernment to see past any illusion or ego that might hamper our ability to find the right partner. “Allowing [ourselves] to be shaken to [our] roots is a source of a growing relationship” (Kasl, 1999, p. 172); however, in this challenging journey of intimacy, time usually teaches us who will bend in the wind. Time shows us who will revel in and not hide from the simplicities and complexities of an intimate connection. However, finding true intimacy is a bit of a universal gamble. If found and embraced, it can help us grow into our best selves if we make it our priority to do the work of the spiritual warrior.

Gamble everything for love…
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.
You set out to find God,
but then you keep stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.
Don’t wait any longer.
Dive in the ocean,
leave and let the sea be you…

Rumi

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 27: Peering in the Cracks and Finding Words

15 Apr

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 27: Peering in the Cracks and Finding Words.

IMG_3267

Books Speak to Me: As always, when I have questions, all it takes is for me to open a book that I have found inadvertently, and an excerpt will jump out at me as a life lesson. Such was the case today when I opened the book The Wise Heart (Kornfield, 2008) and a story lept out at me:

In a large temple north of Thailand’s ancient capital, Sukotai, there once stood an enormous and ancient clay Buddha. Though not the most handsome or refined work of Thai Buddhist art, it had been cared for over a period of five hundred years and become revered for its sheer longevity. Violent storms, changes of government, invading armies had come and gone, but the Buddha endured.

At one point, however, the monks who tended the temple noticed that the statue had begun to crack and would soon be in need of repair and repainting. After a stretch of particularly hot, dry weather, one of the cracks became so wide that a curious monk took his flashlight and peered inside. What shone back at him was a flash of brilliant gold! Inside this plain old statue, the temple residents discovered one of the largest and most luminous gold images of Buddha ever created in Southeast Asia…

The monks believe that this shining work of art had been covered in plaster and clay to protect it during times of conflict and unrest. In much the same way, each of us has encountered threatening situation that lead us to cover our innate nobility. Just as the people of Sukotai had forgotten about the golden Buddha, we too have forgotten our essential nature. Much of the time we operate from the portective layer. The primary aim of Buddhist psychology is to help us see beneath this armouring and bring our our original goodness, called our Buddha nature. (pp. 11-12)

Operating from the Protective Layer: The unfortunate thing for so many people is that we have been operating from the protective layer for so long, that we forget who we are at a deeper level. Unfortunately, it takes some fundamental shift in our lives to crack the facade, and to allow light into our inner beauty. Otherwise, it can remain tucked away and out of reach.

Sometimes, the difficulty is not in finding our secret goodness, it is knowing what to do with it once it is found.

It takes risk to emancipate ourselves from the clay, and often ourselves or others will not know how to advise us once we know that we need to become reconnected to our inner purpose. People will suggest that we do “THAT” (our passion) in our spare time because we obviously have to make a living. There will be some confusion by those of us who have not taken the time to stop what we are doing to consider our own cultural domestication, and reconsider our value in the short time that we walk the earth.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to take care to guide ourselves on this journey and to seek out mentorship of others who have made some significant self-discoveries, and through some personal risk and tenacity, acted on them. They are the ones who have the light to guide us whereas, often (not always), our counterparts, will operate from a place of security, darkness, naivete, fear, or ignorance and may steer us back to that with which they are familiar in their own journeys, and of what they have grown comfortable in their relationships with us. They may not know how to support us, nor be unconditional enough to offer what we may need from them.

Original Goodness: I often ask people this essential question: “If you had nothing to fear or risk, what would you most want?” My answer, when I ask myself this very simple question that sweeps the dirt of resistance off my table cloth before I decide to open my mouth to take a big juicy bite out of life: I want to write. That is it. Plain and simple. I can never truly get past how I might logistically do so as much as I would like to do so, but I am now confident that this is my true calling. It is the place that draws me back over and over again. It is the activity where I am always lost in flow. I am nourished by the experience. And, although I often get recognition and communication for my writing because I sometimes like to share it, the simple act of drawing words out of myself into some meaningful form is reward enough.

Someone might suggest that the act of writing does not a personality make. I would disagree that the art of bringing forth words; sharing and connecting the voices of other writers (as I often like to ground my writing in the rich diversity of other authors); and liberating new and old ideas into new new forms, comes from my soul. Therefore, it is the work of my soul and not my personality. Words leap out of me at various times of the day and night, and I am only satisfied when I have done what they ask me to do. My dissertation, (later published as a book, now in multiple countries, much to my surprise–and a little bit overwhelming as the publication itself unfolded in an interesting and unexpected way), captures my sentiments on the act of creative writing, and I am reminded to go back and re-read it: An Autobiography of the Creative Writing Experience (2009). I am reminded that through this academic research, that creative writing is my essential love: http://www.amazon.ca/An-Autobiography-Creative-Writing-Experience/dp/3639150945 It seems lately, that I need to remind myself to stay the course on my true path.

I wondered about the world as a child through words, and now, I need to bring this full circle and spend the latter part of my life in the centre of that type of work (on my own and with other writers). When I write, I draw on my deepest and rawest core, and shed the protective layer. Through writing, I let myself out and other people in. It is my lens to look inwards and outwards. It is my way way to make sense of my life that remains ahead of me, and the world around me in a meaningful and fulfilling way.

Inner Buddha: When I was in Thailand, I found a temple along the River Kwai called the Wat Tham Khaopoon that was built into the cliffs. We could only access it by climbing hundreds of steps to reach it, and then a few dozen more to get inside of it. There is a middle cave containing stalactites and stalagmites and many remarkable Buddha images. In the quiet calm of the inner cave, I appreciated the worship of its inner Buddha that people took the time to seek out and worship. Just as we seek out the Buddhas, Allah’s, Jesus’, Mohammad’s, etc. around the world, so must we seek out our inner Buddhas where we have opportunities to find them.

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 27: Peering in the Cracks and Finding Words

15 Apr

IMG_3267

Books Speak to Me: As always, when I have questions, all it takes is for me to open a book that I have found inadvertently, and an excerpt will jump out at me as a life lesson. Such was the case today when I opened the book The Wise Heart (Kornfield, 2008) and a story lept out at me:

In a large temple north of Thailand’s ancient capital, Sukotai, there once stood an enormous and ancient clay Buddha. Though not the most handsome or refined work of Thai Buddhist art, it had been cared for over a period of five hundred years and become revered for its sheer longevity. Violent storms, changes of government, invading armies had come and gone, but the Buddha endured.

At one point, however, the monks who tended the temple noticed that the statue had begun to crack and would soon be in need of repair and repainting. After a stretch of particularly hot, dry weather, one of the cracks became so wide that a curious monk took his flashlight and peered inside. What shone back at him was a flash of brilliant gold! Inside this plain old statue, the temple residents discovered one of the largest and most luminous gold images of Buddha ever created in Southeast Asia…

The monks believe that this shining work of art had been covered in plaster and clay to protect it during times of conflict and unrest. In much the same way, each of us has encountered threatening situation that lead us to cover our innate nobility. Just as the people of Sukotai had forgotten about the golden Buddha, we too have forgotten our essential nature. Much of the time we operate from the portective layer. The primary aim of Buddhist psychology is to help us see beneath this armouring and bring our our original goodness, called our Buddha nature. (pp. 11-12)

Operating from the Protective Layer: The unfortunate thing for so many people is that we have been operating from the protective layer for so long, that we forget who we are at a deeper level. Unfortunately, it takes some fundamental shift in our lives to crack the facade, and to allow light into our inner beauty. Otherwise, it can remain tucked away and out of reach.

Sometimes, the difficulty is not in finding our secret goodness, it is knowing what to do with it once it is found.

It takes risk to emancipate ourselves from the clay, and often ourselves or others will not know how to advise us once we know that we need to become reconnected to our inner purpose. People will suggest that we do “THAT” (our passion) in our spare time because we obviously have to make a living. There will be some confusion by those of us who have not taken the time to stop what we are doing to consider our own cultural domestication, and reconsider our value in the short time that we walk the earth.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to take care to guide ourselves on this journey and to seek out mentorship of others who have made some significant self-discoveries, and through some personal risk and tenacity, acted on them. They are the ones who have the light to guide us whereas, often (not always), our counterparts, will operate from a place of security, darkness, naivete, fear, or ignorance and may steer us back to that with which they are familiar in their own journeys, and of what they have grown comfortable in their relationships with us. They may not know how to support us, nor be unconditional enough to offer what we may need from them.

Original Goodness: I often ask people this essential question: “If you had nothing to fear or risk, what would you most want?” My answer, when I ask myself this very simple question that sweeps the dirt of resistance off my table cloth before I decide to open my mouth to take a big juicy bite out of life: I want to write. That is it. Plain and simple. I can never truly get past how I might logistically do so as much as I would like to do so, but I am now confident that this is my true calling. It is the place that draws me back over and over again. It is the activity where I am always lost in flow. I am nourished by the experience. And, although I often get recognition and communication for my writing because I sometimes like to share it, the simple act of drawing words out of myself into some meaningful form is reward enough.

Someone might suggest that the act of writing does not a personality make. I would disagree that the art of bringing forth words; sharing and connecting the voices of other writers (as I often like to ground my writing in the rich diversity of other authors); and liberating new and old ideas into new new forms, comes from my soul. Therefore, it is the work of my soul and not my personality. Words leap out of me at various times of the day and night, and I am only satisfied when I have done what they ask me to do. My dissertation, (later published as a book, now in multiple countries, much to my surprise–and a little bit overwhelming as the publication itself unfolded in an interesting and unexpected way), captures my sentiments on the act of creative writing, and I am reminded to go back and re-read it: An Autobiography of the Creative Writing Experience (2009). I am reminded that through this academic research, that creative writing is my essential love: http://www.amazon.ca/An-Autobiography-Creative-Writing-Experience/dp/3639150945 It seems lately, that I need to remind myself to stay the course on my true path.

I wondered about the world as a child through words, and now, I need to bring this full circle and spend the latter part of my life in the centre of that type of work (on my own and with other writers). When I write, I draw on my deepest and rawest core, and shed the protective layer. Through writing, I let myself out and other people in. It is my lens to look inwards and outwards. It is my way way to make sense of my life that remains ahead of me, and the world around me in a meaningful and fulfilling way.

Inner Buddha: When I was in Thailand, I found a temple along the River Kwai called the Wat Tham Khaopoon that was built into the cliffs. We could only access it by climbing hundreds of steps to reach it, and then a few dozen more to get inside of it. There is a middle cave containing stalactites and stalagmites and many remarkable Buddha images. In the quiet calm of the inner cave, I appreciated the worship of its inner Buddha that people took the time to seek out and worship. Just as we seek out the Buddhas, Allah’s, Jesus’, Mohammad’s, etc. around the world, so must we seek out our inner Buddhas where we have opportunities to find them.