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).


sink deep down into yourself

So.   The atoms in a human body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space.
But is space really “empty”?
Bob O’Hearn echoes the ancient sages – Eihei Dogen comes to mind – in reminding us that what we think of as “empty space” is in fact vibrantly conscious, aware, and synonymous with the pristine and timeless awareness that is the bottom-line of our Being.  And – crucially – that one can know this irrefutably, for oneself and by oneself.

 

Just take the dive.

 

Sink Deep Down Into Yourself - Bob O'Hearn

 
 
Sink deep down into yourself, passing through flesh and bone, blood and water, nerves and electrical impulses, cells and molecular structures, atoms, and between atoms, immense empty space, conscious space, pristine awareness without gender, race, age, affiliation, belief, identity — our fundamental nature, nameless, formless, yet the basis of all names and forms, all life, all worlds.

Within this vast spaciousness, which has neither ceiling nor floor, nor any boundary or circumference, something appears. Immediately, attention flows out of itself and merges with that manifestation of itself, in the same way a cloud might appear in the midst of the empty sky, or a wave on the ocean, until we forget about the sky, or the ocean, in our effort to grasp at the cloud or wave. By habit, we grant these objects of consciousness a substantial and independent existence apart from their basis, identifying with them to the point that, when they inevitably vanish back into the space from which they originated, we tend to suffer a sense of loss.

Just so, this essentially cloud-like and transitory matrix of memory, thought, and perception which we generally regard as me, myself, and I spontaneously manifests within the spaciousness as a play of the spaciousness itself, except that we then imagine it to be our exclusive identity, and consequently squeeze the vastness down into this fragile formation of bubbling elements which we want to somehow persist forever, even though it never will, and so in its inevitable vanishing we tend to suffer a sense of loss.

Our friends and relations may gather around a glazed box of stuff which we once took to be our self. As it is lowered into the ground or rolled into the crematorium, some tears may flow, because the spaciousness took back what it made, leaving memories which too will fade, and eventually it will be as if it never was, and that much will be true — no praise or blame, no lingering regret: a wave arose, an ocean swell, it subsided again like a night’s brief dream, and all is well and will always be, in the empty sky of eternity.

– Bob O’Hearn


 
Sourced from Bob’s Facebook page.
Bob also writes on several blogs. Here are links to a couple of favourites:
the conscious process
feeling into infinity
Thank you dear friend.
 


 

fully inhabiting one’s luminous body

Mary DeVincentis - Shunyata (Emptiness)

 

Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.
– Hakuin Ekaku

 
Many of us who have journeyed through the rarified atmosphere of advaita and nondual teachings have been warned that we are “not the body.” And while in some abstract, absolute sense this might have validity, it’s only partially true and distinctly unhelpful. To disregard our body is to turn away from the only access we have to our unique and authentic experience. It is to inhabit a thought-bubble while telling ourselves that we are resting in nondual awareness – either that, or still desperately seeking it.

But “nondual” means just that – no duality: only one. If there’s only one thing happening here, how can we dismiss the body from the totality? How can anything be dismissed? Where would it go?

Judith Blackstone is one of the few contemporary female voices in the nonduality context offering a fully embodied approach to nondual realisation, an approach that doesn’t turn away from or bypass trauma (holding patterns) embedded in the fabric of the body.

Why is full embodiment crucial? Read on:

Most contemporary teachings consider nonduality to be the direct unmediated perception of phenomena, along with spontaneous, unmediated expression and action. In other words, direct, spontaneous participation in life, unhampered by preconceptions. Students of this view are usually instructed to fix their attention on the present moment, or to relax into an all-inclusive awareness.

There are two limitations with this approach. One, nondual consciousness is more subtle than simple attention. It not only focuses on phenomena, it pervades phenomena. It renders all of one’s experience as suffused with a radiant emptiness. Two, the fixations that obscure the present moment are not just mental. Long-held constrictions in the body limit our perception, cognition, emotional responsiveness and physical sensation. We cannot open to our fundamental nature just with our minds, we need to open throughout our whole body. Because of these bodily constrictions, when we attempt to let go into the present moment, we generally let go only from the surface of ourselves. In order to realize nonduality, we need to let go from deep within the core of our being.

When spiritual teachings do not recognize the transformation of the body, the result is, at best, a partial, imbalanced spiritual openness. Students can follow a path for many years without ever finding the spiritual dimension of life. In the Realization Process opening to nondual consciousness does not depend upon a volitional attention to the present moment. Instead, it is an enduring transformation of one’s whole being that persists even during reflexive thinking, intense emotion or while engaged in the I-Thou activity of relationships.

Approaches to nonduality that focus on recognizing and dissolving mental constructions also de-construct the notion of the self. Any fixed ideas of the self, such as “I am a teacher” or “I am a good person” will obscure our realization of nondual consciousness. However, when we realize nondual consciousness pervading our body and environment, we uncover a qualitative, authentic sense of our individual self. Nonduality is neither the subject nor the object of experience. It is the unity, the oneness of subject and object.

Nondual awakening is not dependent upon a particular spiritual lineage. When we realize nonduality, we are not realizing Buddhism or Hinduism. We are realizing our own fundamental nature—the spiritual foundation of our being is self-arising. It is naturally there, and it appears spontaneously as we become open enough to uncover it. Although the different spiritual lineages describe nondual awakening in different ways, the arising of nonduality itself is unmistakable.

The Realization Process is accessible to both beginning and experienced practitioners. It is particularly helpful for people who have glimpsed nondual reality and wish to stabilize there. The work includes practices for direct attunement to nondual consciousness, for moving as nondual consciousness, for releasing holding patterns from the body, and for relating with other people without losing one’s realization.

The Realization Process was developed by Judith Blackstone, but is now taught by certified teachers throughout the world. It is available in private sessions, classes, workshops and teacher/certification trainings.

Source nondualityinstitute.org. My emphasis.



Links

www.nondualityinstitute.org/Realization-Process.html

www.realizationcenter.com

www.judithblackstoneblog.com/2010/healing-trauma-through-embodiment/


Art by Mary DeVincentisShunyata (Emptiness)


thinking like a mountain

thinking like a mountain;
feeling like the sky

meeting mySelf
in all that displays within the field of awareness

knowing I am ever here, as this,
being lived by the breath
within the Breath

I bow deeply
before my compost heap

ml

 

Frederick Franck, Eye-I

 

Through a genuine experience of identifying with all beings, we may come to see our own interest served by conservation, through genuine self-love, love of a widened and deepened self, an ecological self.

When we plant a tree we are planting ourselves. Releasing dolphins back to the wild, we are ourselves returning home. Composting leftovers, we are being reborn as irises and apples. We can “think like a mountain,” in Aldo Leopold’s words, and we can discover ourselves to be everywhere and in everything, and we can know the activity of the world as not separate from who we are but rather of what we are. The practice of the “nonlocal self” means that when we work for the restoration of the rain forest, we are restoring our “extended self.”

– Joan Halifax Roshi, The Fruitful Darkness

Joan Halifax Roshi and Upaya Zen Center


Sculpture by Frederick Franck at Pacem in Terris


 

the body is the breath of the universe

While it’s unarguable that any facet of our existence could ever be separate from Primordial Awareness, we are deeply conditioned to believe that the undesirable aspects of experience, and especially the mouldy contents of the compost heap called the unconscious, can’t possibly be valid components of Ultimate Reality.  It’s deeply heartening to see this illogical, fragmented view being explored and corrected sensitively and wisely by teachers like Ellen Emmet.

Ellen’s beautiful article was originally posted on contemplativejornal.com, under the title The Sacred Body: Returning Our Experience to Its True Source and Substance of Awareness.

Gratitude!


a child explores wild spaces...

She runs down a hill. Warm air caresses her skin, and the pounding of feet on earth bring an intoxicating counterpoint to the expanding of her heart. Her body unravels like threads of light into the the surrounding space, and in a moment out of time, she surrenders into its open embrace. The liquid dancing world anoints her vibrating body with its loving substance … 

We all remember blessed moments in which our true nature of pure undivided and universal Awareness echoes at the emotional, tactile and sensual levels of experience. Our body then is felt to be transparent, without borders, suffused with a subtle quality of vibrating sensitivity. It feels less personal yet shares itself intimately with all that is met.

For most of us however the body has been deeply and lastingly conditioned by the belief that “I” refers to an individual and limited person, located inside a body, separate from others and from the world out there. Thus the feeling of the body is rooted in a set of repetitive psychosomatic habits, creating feelings of solidity, density, emotional inertia and contraction designed to validate and perpetuate the projected image of the “I” that seems to live at its center, with one’s past and future on either side. Such a body’s inherited dynamism is ruled by the complex and restrictive impulses to protect, defend or affirm itself.

In this way, the body-mind seems to become the envelope or the cage in which “I” appear to live in and the stuff that “I” seem to be made of, whilst the real “I” of undivided Awareness seems to have shrunk itself into confinement, limitation and fragmentation.

When we awaken to our true nature of Awareness in the presence of a teacher or of a teaching, we submit our thinking rational mind to the pure light of intelligence that is its source and substance.

With open, limitless Awareness as our invisible reference, we hear and understand that the ordinary awareness that is perceiving whatever is perceived in this very moment, “I”, is not contained within a body or located in time and space. We hear and understand that “I” is the Open Awareness in which all experience arises unfolds and dissolves, including thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions (mind, body and world.) We hear and understand that this Awareness is not a perceived experience, yet is that which perceives all experience, and is not an object, yet is found at the heart of all experience as its only and invisible substance.

My identity fits not in any name or form. Nor am I held captive between birth and death.

I am not the blood that runs through my veins or the warm breath that flows through my nostrils or the mouth that breaths. I am not the memory of myself or the hopes that skips like stones into the future. Past and future ripple through me as the wind of time, whilst space is the echo of my infinity. I am not this I am not this I am not this, yet I am the lover of all things, and find myself at the heart of all that has a name and form.

However, it is important to further deepen our exploration to include the level of feelings, sensation, tactility and perception. Taking our stand as the field of open Awareness in which all experience arises, we listen to our experience of the body directly, as if for the first time, free of any labels, without any mediation from the past or any agenda for the future. We take our time, descending below the threshold of rational experience, allowing thought to relax in the background whilst opening to the flow of tactile sensation and subtle vibration that is our actual bodily experience. We are invited to see and feel that the body flows through myself, Awareness, as does all experience.

When the welcoming of the body is open, uninvolved and global, it is as if the body like a frightened animal feels an unconditional invitation to come out into the open space.

In this friendly loving field, the body stands naked and naturally begins to liberate what it had been holding in and as itself: the crystallized energy of separation that lives as layers of contraction and tension in the cellular, muscular skeletal and nervous systems of the body.

As the body unravels in this way, the “me” charge that lives embedded in its layers is returned to the openness of Awareness.

Gradually the body is left free to open to, relax into and reunite with the openness that surrounds it. It is as if each feeling and sensation like an offering, gives itself back to the invisible altar of Awareness, telling its true story on the way. In time this allows a gentle and natural realignment with the felt understanding that the body’s essential nature is this very openness.

When I make of my body a thousand paint brushes dipped in gold

Everything takes on the form of you

And buries itself in my heart to make it bigger and softer

So that the world can overflow from it endlessly and everywhere

Returning ordinary days to infinite life

Over and over in this exploration, for which we may use guided meditation, postures, visualisations movement and breath, we are led to see and feel that in truth we cannot say that a sensation appears in “my” body, just as a sound does not appear in the world out there and a thought is not to be found inside a head. We see rather that sensation, thought and sound all appear in myself, non-located open Awareness without any separate individual existence of a body mind or world.

Over and over again we realize that like sounds and thoughts, the bodily feelings and sensations are subtle in nature. They are not solid or tangible cannot be held or measured. Rather they are like vibrating ripples appearing on the surface of myself, intimately one with myself, made of my own invisible substance. We feel and know that the body is the openness that “I” am.

Unlike most of the conventional approaches to the body that are taught in the world, this one is not a pragmatic endeavour intended towards the physical or energy body, to increase well-being, strength or flexibility, or even encourage expansive states of consciousness.

Rather it is a sacred and devotional practice that surrenders the body back towards into its source of Open Awareness: what we only and always are.

Every time the offering is made, the body is returned as it truly is, limitless, transparent, relaxed easeful and loving. It is realized as the very breath of the universe.

– Ellen Emmet

www.ellenemmet.com


News about upcoming events, from Ellen’s newsletter:

The Awakening Body: A residential/non-residential weekend retreat in Mill Valley:
Friday 14th October to Sunday 16th October 2016.
A weekend in an intimate and peaceful setting during which we will share guided meditations, gentle explorations of the body in the tradition of the tantric path of Kashmir Shivaism, and conversations with the non-dual perspective as our shared ground.
There will be delicious lacto-vegetarian meals and time for rest and walk in nature.

Science and Non-Duality Conference, 2016:
Thursday October 20th to Sunday October 23d, 2016.
I will be offering a yoga meditation session and a talk entitled The Sacred Body and participate in a panel entitled Full Embrace of Life.


Image source


don’t be fooled. stand your ground

Pema Deane. What a light she is! This piece was posted on her blog – The Vibrant Heart – with the title Stand Your Ground. I’ve included the sentence “Don’t be fooled” in my title because my experience emphasises how pointless it is to try to stand my ground unless I’m deeply cognisant of the fact that an erroneous belief – as Pema reminds us – is constantly trying to fool us into believing we are separate from the “ground of Self, of Presence, of Light.”


stand your ground - Pema Deane

 

Scenes and circumstances continue to play out in front of us, their one seeming objective being to convince us there is something wrong with us – that we are unlovable or we lack, that the love is over there, not here.

Don’t be fooled. Stand your ground. It is time to blow this whole, bad dream apart. Recognize whatever you’re seeing and reacting to is coming straight out of your mind, a mind that believes it is separate and whose only function is to keep that belief alive.

The scenes are a set-up. They are out to suck you into misery and to prove to you you are NOT the incredible Beauty that You are. You made it all up. This recognition is your lifeline. It is your point of authority over this dream of pain.

I am not denying the incredible amount of self-nursing, holding and releasing of pain that has happened over many years but when you have reached the point of being able to simply witness the shenanigans of ego, it is to honor that with all your heart. And it is a wonderful thing. You have endured countless lifetimes to come to this point.

So stand your ground. The ground of Self, of Presence, of Light. And let the movie show of separation roll on by. It has no power to touch YOU. Ever.

– Pema Deane

The Vibrant Heart


 

the glory and the terror of it

The Path of Love is like a bridge of hair across a Chasm of Fire.

The Realization that every act, every word, every thought of ours not only influences our environment but mysteriously forms an integral part of the Universe, fits into it as if by necessity, in the very moment we do or say or think it, is an overwhelming and even shattering experience.

If we only knew deeply, absolutely, that our smallest act, our smallest thought, has such far-reaching effects; setting forces in motion; reaching out to the galaxy; how carefully we would act and speak and think. How precious life would become in its integral oneness.

It is wonderful and frightening. The responsibility is terrifying and fascinating in its depth and completeness, containing as it does the perplexing insecurity of being unique and the profound consolation of forming part of the Eternal Undivided Whole. And we all have the right to, and can achieve, the realization of this wonderful meaning of life: one is quite simply part of it all; a single vision of Wholeness.

Very acute it became after Guruji’s passing away. And I could not reconcile the torment of the heat, the mangy dogs, the filthy children, the sweat, the smells; for they were THAT too …

 

Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand

 

But it was here, in the stillness of the mountains, that it gradually crystallized; distilled itself from a different dimension into the waking consciousness. And now I must live with the Glory and the Terror of it … It is merciless, inescapable; an intensely virile intoxicating Presence, so utterly joyous, boundless and free. It is blasphemy to attempt to put it into words.

I know that the states of Nearness will increase, will become more permanent; but also the state of separation will become more painful, more lonely, the nearer one comes to Reality.

I know that I go back to a life of fire; for you, dear Guruji, told me what to expect. I know that sometimes my health will fail, and that I shall be burned. But I know also that I can never be alone anymore, for you are with me always. I know that God is Silence, and can be reached only in silence; the Nearness to Thee will remain and give me the strength to go on.

Goodbye days of peace; and days of wrestling with myself. Days of incredible beauty with Nature at its best; days of glorious states of consciousness, wherein the divine heart within myself was the Divine Heart within the cosmos. When I knew the meaning of Oneness because I lived it. You did not deceive me, Guruji. You pointed out the Way, and now the Way has taken hold of me … fully … irrevocably.

Irina Tweedie


These are the final paragraphs in Irina Tweedie’s book The Chasm of Fire

They are part of a letter written to her beloved teacher, who had passed away some months before, from her retreat in the Himalayas.

The Chasm of Fire is an extraordinary account of her experience of liberation through the teachings of this Sufi master, in India. It is written in journal form, as instructed by the teacher.

It is an account of the slow grinding down of personality
– a painful process for Man cannot remake himself without suffering.
I had hoped to get instruction in yoga…
but found myself forced to face the darkness within myself…
I was beaten down in every sense till I had come to terms with that in me
which I’d been rejecting all my life.

For an excellent in-depth review of this book see: The Culturium: Irina Tweedie, The Daughter of Fire


Image: The Himalayan Range from Kausani, Uttarakhand, India.
Source