the important thing is the tear falling down your cheek

there’s no time like the Present to have a good cry

 

 

When the courage (le cœur: heart, French) to sit still and see what might bubble up from the heart’s cauldron finds us – and finds us innocent of any agenda to analyse, to fix or flee, tears will most assuredly flow.

I was raised a stoic.  In our household one’s face had to be bright and cheerful, regardless of the inner weather.  Tears said “shame”.  Tears said “weak”.  Tears said you were no fun to be around.  Tears were taboo.

I was already ancient when, by some wild grace, courage found me and guided me into my body’s dark knowledge.  (I wrote about it in this post at my ‘echoes from emptiness’ blog – following fear into the star-stuff of my cells).  In my cocksure ignorance I assumed it would all be done and dusted within a modest time-frame.

Three years later the tears are still falling, the heart is still cracking, crumbling, awash in tenderness, trembling with bliss.  (Yes, bliss – I had no idea that bliss is simply the opening of the heart.)  Yet now the tears arise from a depth beyond the personal, from a well of sorrow that’s ownerless.  Personally I don’t feel the need for notions of karma and reincarnation, but my lived experience shows me that whatever is happening here is dynamically all-inclusive and interpenetrating across time and space.

No separation can be found.  The tears belong to all of us because there is only one of us.

Many wise philosophers, poets and teachers have alerted us to the crucial importance of taking the descent into the unknown depths of the psyche.  The unapologetic baring of all that arises – free of analysis and explanation – turns out to be the ultimate alchemy:  The healing, the return to the whole.

We are not here to flee sadness and unhappiness but to welcome them whole-heartedly as part of our living experience of an inescapable immensity that unfailingly shows up as this, here, now.


Whenever sadness visits, I cherish these lines by Hafiz.  What a treasure of a poem!  The perfect antidote to mind’s default denial of one’s immediate felt experience, the slick side-stepping into the God zone, where all is light and great happiness … and one is experiencing only half a life.

Hafiz knows that Wholeness can’t be whole without including everything.

Hafiz:

I think I just want to be sad today, the way many
are in this world.  True, God rides in my pocket,
as He does in yours.

Yes, I could lift Him out and look upon various
realms of light and know great happiness.  Maybe
I will do that tomorrow.

The ocean has moods.  Have you not seen how its
colour can change, and the waves’ force and heights
can differ?

Feast Here


Steven Harrison:

Like archaeologists of the soul, we begin to uncover the debris of our mind.
Our need to exist in full relationship to our world is what drives us.
Layer upon layer of ideas, conditioning, and fear is what we dig through.

The hubris of knowledge must be the first sacrifice.  For it, we get nothing.
Nothing is a great gift indeed.

The Shimmering World: Living Meditation


Reggie Ray:

Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism understands non-dual awareness as an essentially somatic state. Practitioners come to see for themselves the condition of yuganaddha or union: that the more fully we know, explore, and identify with our human incarnation, our somatic being, including our traumas, the more profound and unwavering our realization of non-duality.

Trauma is a well-known phenomenon in the Pure Awareness traditions of esoteric Tibetan Buddhism and is considered the ultimate obstacle to realization.  In tantric yoga, through a series of somatic practices, practitioners are enabled first to create a safe and stable ground in the non-dual state for addressing trauma; then to open pathways so that early, previously unconscious painful experiences can communicate themselves to consciousness; and finally, how to allow unresolved emotional dilemmas to make their own journey toward healing and resolution.

Dharma Ocean


Rumi:

Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.

Who gets up early to discover the moment the light begins?
What was whispered to the rose to break it open last night was whispered to my heart.
You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine.
Taste this. It won’t make you wild.

It’s fire.
Give up, if you don’t understand by this time that your living is firewood.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.

The lamps are different,
But the Light is the same.
To change, a person must face the dragon of his appetites with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul.

What is the body?
That shadow of a shadow of your love, that somehow contains the entire universe.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets that serve to cover, and then are taken off.

That undressing, and the beautiful naked body underneath, is the sweetness that comes after grief.
You haven’t dared yet lose faith – so, can faith grow in you?
Gamble everything for love, if you’re a true human being.
If these poems repeat themselves, then so does Spring.

Rumi: Selected Poems


Dr. Gabor Maté:

I’ve seen so many positive thinkers in palliative care who say: “In all my life I’ve never had a negative thought.  How come I have cancer?”  The answer is, they have cancer because they never had a negative thought.  Not having negative thoughts is not allowing reality to intrude on your perception of the world.  You never see how things are.  You have to always maintain a sunny, falsely rosy view of the world so that you can’t see what doesn’t work.  Lots of studies show that people who are sunny and positive die quicker of their disease.  If you’re a woman with breast cancer and you’re a positive thinker, you’re guaranteed to die much quicker.

Dr. Gabor Maté


Cheri Huber:

Many people quit meditation practice for this very reason: it opens the door for everything we ever tried not to face.  And from a Buddhist perspective we aren’t talking about just one childhood; we are talking about lifetime upon lifetime, eons of suffering.  All of it will find its way into our awareness if we sit still with it long enough, and allowing that to happen is the only way it will be healed.

Trying to be Human, Zen Talks with Cheri Huber


Carl Gustav Jung:

No noble, well grown tree ever disowned its dark roots, for it grows not only upwards but downwards as well.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.


Anzan Hoshin Roshi:

We actually can experience directly and intimately the activity of thinking and feeling of other bodyminds; the more that we open to how experience actually is, and move past the tendency to narrow attention into discursiveness, the more that this is the case.  The more completely that we sit up straight and let our delusions fall away, the more completely that we live our life as it is, the more that we recognize ourselves as all beings and all beings as ourselves.  In the realization of what Dogen calls “shinjin-datsaraku” or “dropping through the bodymind” we recognize that all beings and ourselves are only the luminosity of “nehan-myoshin” or the “radiant Knowing which is beyond reference point, the nirvana of the Buddhas.”
[My emphasis]

White Wind Zen Community


Eric Baret:

Life speaks only of you, of this emotion.

So, you might occasionally go to listen to someone,
but when you realize that what you hear to be true on his lips is your own truth,
you will no longer feel any need to do this.
You will see that life, in all its forms, speaks this same truth.
Every daily event is a reminder of this profound emotion.

In many ways following a tradition, a spiritual teacher, is an escape.
You must follow yourself when you feel a true emotion.
You might be reading a text by Meister Eckhart and an emotion arises in you.
Close the book; the text will fall away.
The important thing is the tear sliding down your cheek.
This is your treasure, your direction, your teaching.
It is what you must follow, must listen to.

De l’Abandon, translated from the French by Mary Mann.


Image:  Vincent van Gogh, Vieil Homme Triste
Dessin au crayon noir, lavé et aquarelle (réalisé à Etten), 24 Novembre 1882
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (Pays-Bas).


now is the time

Sometimes a poem demands a visual counterpart; sometimes an image demands a poem; occasionally the symbiosis is stunning.  

This much-loved poem from Hafiz paired with Scott Morgan‘s sublime photograph delivers me to a View that is boundless.  

I dance there, breathe there, and I am grateful for this Grace.

 

Photograph by Scott Morgan

 

Now is the time to know

That all that you do is sacred.

 

Now, why not consider

A lasting truce with yourself and God.

 

Now is the time to understand

That all your ideas of right and wrong

Were just a child’s training wheels

To be laid aside

When you finally live

With veracity

And love.

 

Hafiz is a divine envoy

Whom the Beloved

Has written a holy message upon.

 

My dear, please tell me,

Why do you still

Throw sticks at your heart

And God?

 

What is it in that sweet voice inside

That incites you to fear?

 

Now is the time for the world to know

That every thought and action is sacred.

 

This is the time for you to compute the impossibility

That there is anything

But grace.

 

Now is the season to know

That everything you do

Is sacred.

 

– Hafiz

 


Today, by Hafiz. From the The Gift: Poems of Hafiz as rendered by Daniel Ladinsky.

Image: Scott Morgan – www.thissimplegrace.com


 

the joy of dying

Today is the 4th day of the 4th month and 9 years since my mother breathed her last at 4am.

Two Miriams, Hervey Bay QLD

This little blog was created to express my gratitude for her wondrous wideawakeness and wisdom; she was a priceless teacher for me. Her lessons – lived in her everyday life – deepen and mature in me as the years go by.  She gave us 97 years of her presence.  Even on her deathbed she was wide-eyed and full of praise for everyone.

This year I’m moved to share words from two teachers she’d have loved for their open-hearted honesty, warmth, sweetness, and for their radiant wisdom: Joan Ruvinsky and Robert K Hall. Joan was speaking shortly before her death. Robert is still with us, but his departure is immanent.


 

just this… in all its simplicity…
welcoming what is here already…
not coming… not going…
obscured even by seeking…

So we meet in the paradox of apparent teachings, retreats, trainings or gatherings, to celebrate and explore this nameless presence that we are.  At first, there is the tendency to accentuate the myriad of practices the yoga tradition has developed, to focus on concepts like nondual, true nature, awareness, self-inquiry or other-inquiry.

But all this activity eventually leads us to a giving up.  And in this surrender what is revealed is seen to be what has always been here, before the search began, during its full intensity and after its cessation.  The task turns out to be ceding to stillness, and in that stillness the recognition of just this.

Falling back and resting in what is so familiar that it has been overlooked during all the body sensing yoga, during all the pranayama, all the yoga nidra and amidst all the dialogues, amidst life itself, we find our self simply sinking back into just this.

Joan Ruvinsky

 


 

Letting go is not an easy process, especially how much I’m enjoying life, surrounded by so much love and people who take good care of me… I have talked at length about my experience and difficulties about the dying process… today I’d like reflect on the positive side and share my experience about the joy of dying…

Robert K Hall

 

This short talk (8:07) expresses so much warmth, love, joy and presence, it will melt your heart.
For more videos and audio teachings: Robert K Hall Dharma Talks


From the archives:
grief is a shower of grace
the gift of grief

here is where the vista opens
the cosmic chirp


 

I could have been a cloud on Jupiter

When the inevitability of one’s life-package and its path becomes evident and one realises that nothing could possibly be other-than-it-is, the sweetest awe and appreciation flood into the space left empty by the imaginary controller.  It’s often misunderstood, this disappearance of the doer, and explained away with all manner of hypothetical imaginings. Actually, it isn’t understandable or able to be conceptualised by means of any erudite definition or name.  Best then, to leave the labels alone and keep silent unless confessing one’s own experience.  

Wislawa Szymborska’s poem didn’t fall from my own pen, but it expresses to perfection the astonishment and gratefulness I experience as I reflect upon the wondrous “coincidence” of the life-pack I call mine.  This is probably my favourite poem of 2017.


Clouds on Jupiter photographed by NASA's Juno

 

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
 
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from another tree.
 
Nature’s wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, fieldmouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.
 
I didn’t get a choice either,
but I can’t complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape ruffled by the wind.
 
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
 
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
 
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
 
A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I’d prompted only fear,
Loathing,
or pity?
 
If I’d been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
 
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
 
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments
 
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
 
I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.

– Wislawa Szymborska

 


Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska


Photograph of clouds on Jupiter, courtesy of NASA.


 

grief is a shower of grace

This Unlit Light - well of grief - image by Smith Eliot

 

On October 23, 2009, I wrote a post called the gift of grief:

Seven months since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life.

What a cruel lie it is to believe that those we love have gone; what an ignorant denial of Life’s infinity of guises and disguises; what a limiting perspective on the vastness of Life’s Play.

She is missed, yes.  But I find that if I simply allow ‘missingness’ to be its unadorned energetic self and ignore the siren-call of memory’s stories, she is there, in that movement of energy.  Missingness holds the blessing of mutual gratitude – a two-way appreciation of love known and cherished.

Who would want to miss such a blessing?  Who would want to “move on from it”?  Who would want to heal it, transform it, transmute or transcend it?

Who would want to deny the gift of grief’s solidarity, the diamond sharp sorrow shared with the mother whose child disappeared a decade ago at the school bus stop, the father whose son has just been shot dead practicing maneuvers for a dubious war in a distant land, the lover whose beloved has passed away before she was ready?

Grief is a great gift.  I love the way it keeps my heart soft.  I love the way I see it in your eyes, in the eyes of all ‘I’s walking this Earth.  It is a hallmark of the unclouded Light of human-being-ness.

Please don’t tell me to get over it.


April 3, 2016 – an update.

Only one word to change: “months”, to years.

Seven years since she spun out of her solar orbit and left my life.  Well, appeared to leave my life…

I still slip  – delightedly – beneath the still surface to “the secret water, cold and clear”.  I still marvel that these eyes spill tears of gratitude.  Love blesses me with grief.  I make no movement away, rather, I turn to meet it, gladly.

Grief is – for me – a shower of Grace.


The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning downward through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else.

~ David Whyte

Where Many Rivers Meet
©2007 Many Rivers Press


The original post was inspired by an email exchange with Vicki Woodyard shortly after my mother’s death and the beginning of this blog.  Thank you dear Vicki.


Image by Smith Eliot


here is where the vista opens

This post is a loving tribute to Joan Ruvinsky, who left us on March 21 in Montreal.

Just prior to Christmas, Joan wrote a newsletter note about the preciousness of the moment. I’m glad I kept it, because it couldn’t be more apt right now.

This Unlit Light: Michael Kenna - Huangshan Mountains, Study 42

You never know if this is going to be the last time, the last holiday season, the last menstrual period, the last trip to the mountains, the last whatever. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if, for instance, it were just the last time you were ever to put gas in the car, except, looking back on it, as a charming ritual. Does its being the last time make it more significant? Will we pay more attention? We don’t even know if it’s the last time when it is happening. We can only know through memory, in retrospect. 

Or we can pretend the future and say, “That was the last time I ever time I’ll ever go to that restaurant!”  This is the past conditioning the future. The food was terrible. Never again. Period.

Oh, how we like to place ourselves in time! It makes us feel situated. Secure. 

But in the moment, the actual moment, we just don’t know. Is it the first? Is it the last? Actually, it’s right now, first time, or last time – however we name it to stay comfortably situated in linear time, to play it safe. In fact, it is only and forever right now. 

So every moment, the smell of this hot cider mulling on the stove, the clacking of the printer, the wind in the pines, this holiday season to celebrate, or not… it’s just right now, whether we are labelling it from anticipation or from memory. This moment is absolutely precious. This moment is out of time, beyond comparison. No sequence. No succession. Just now. Here is where the vista opens. Now is when we are home, home in This, as This, as pure perceiving.

How wonderful.

May whatever you celebrate for the first or last unknown time be joyous. 

Love, Joan

pathlessyoga.com



Joan’s closing comments in a conversation with Grace Bubeck: Death only happens to the body, we are Love. 3:16



The entire conversation: The Radical Joy of Facing Death. 48:41


I treasure Joan’s last succinct email message to me…

Pas d’inscription. Juste de se présenter à 15h45

Amour


The magnificent photograph is by Michael Kenna.


 

the altar of this moment

A beautiful poem for a Sunday: The Altar of this Moment by Dorothy Hunt.

 
For Simone, who was gratefulness and generosity embodied. And who left us seven days ago.

Reblogged with gratitude from the wondrous science and nonduality website


Photograph by Juliana Nan

 

Place everything you can perceive—
everything you can
see,
hear,
smell,
taste,
or touch,
upon the altar of this moment
and give thanks.

It is over so soon—
this expression,
this single moment of your precious life,
this one heart
pounding itself open
with fear or wild joy,

this one breath rising
in the cold winter air
smoothly and gently
or coughing and sputtering.

Bow, while you can, before
this one taste
of afternoon tea
warming its way to your belly,
or the fragrant orange
exploding its sweet juice
in your grateful mouth.

You have to love
the antics of your mind,
imagining life should only be sweet.
The bitter makes the sweet; and life is both.
It is whole, like you,
before you think yourself to pieces.

Place this moment’s pain and confusion on the altar, too,
and give special thanks for such grace
that wakes you up from sleeping through your life.
Pain is greatly under-rated as a pointer to Unknowing,
yet greatly over-rated when taken as identity.

In this one moment,
your eyes meet mine and there is
a single looking.
What is peering from behind our masks?
Can it touch itself across the room?

Place your palms together;
touch your holy skin.
In another moment it will shed itself.
What will you be then?
What were you before you had two hands?
What are you now?

You cannot capture That
and place It on the altar of this moment.
It is the altar,
and this moment’s infinite expressions,
and the Seeing,
and its own devotion to itself.

You are That.

Dorothy Hunt

 


Image credit – Juliana Nan


Also by Dorothy Hunt:
when God comes in your house