kitchen sink epiphany

In her book When Fear Falls Away Jan Frazier gives us a privileged, intimate view of her mundane daily experiences in the light of her awakening. This little extract is from a piece she wrote titled “A Visceral Experience of Immortality: April 22.” In it, she is happily doing the dishes when she suddenly understands something “fundamental about existence”; a long-held idea moves from the concept compartment and becomes an experienced reality.

It brought to mind the words my mother uttered (shortly after she announced she was “going to die now”) as I leaned over her, whispering my thanks for being the perfect mother and friend to me:

But I always will be – it never ends!

kitchen sink epiphany

I was standing at the sink doing the dishes, chanting, looking out the window. The kitchen sink is turning out to be the place where great realisations seem to happen. I love to chant, and I love to look out the window at the green world, where at a moment’s notice a creature might amble into the yard, its feet quick over the new grass, the sniffing nose collecting data, gathering intelligence of possible danger, possible food. I love the window. Do I love washing dishes? Well, I do. It is what gives me an excuse to look out the window and chant.

So I was doing that this morning, happy as could be. Tingly with happiness. (I get like this a lot.) I was feeling a really sustained surge of delight at simply being alive. The world outside the window pouring into my eyes, my nostrils, every possible portal – and I felt myself pouring out into the world. And I thought how great it is to be conscious, to be alive. I said to myself, I’m so glad to be alive. Consciousness is a total gas. I just want this to go on and on.

And that’s when I realised it. Viscerally, I mean, for the first time in my life. Oh my God, it IS going to go on. Forever. THIS is what keeps steady, this very sensation – even past death. I won’t have to do without, ever.

I have believed this for a long time, belief being a thing that lives in the mind. I have had the idea of immortality, of continuity between physical life and post-physical life. But that moment in front of the sink, experiencing the very body of continuity, I realised something: I only thought I got it before, the idea of consciousness being eternal. But I never really got it before, not until right this second.

I couldn’t get over it. I never have to stop! Body or not. This will be my experience, clear past death – which will be a little road bump, if I even notice it.

Jan Frazier

When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening


If you enjoy Jan’s writing, you might be interested in another excerpt (on undivided perception) I posted over on the awakened eye:

I’ve lost track of which is which


Photo credit: katherinecollette.com


it never ends!

a dream was born of love

like a flower, budding in the field of time
it swelled, spread its petals
shared its perfume with complete abandon
smiled under the sun’s kisses
was tossed by many a foul storm
surviving almost a century
of spinning orbits around its bright star

“It never ends!” she exclaimed, exuberant,
just a few breaths before her last exhale,
before she abandoned our solar lover
and melted into the arms of
our eternal Beloved

a dream died

yet the love, the love remains,
imperishable, inescapable
and always beyond the reach of memory

~

impermanence


A little memorial piece. It’s been four years today … by the day rather than date.
(How beautiful that this year’s remembrance falls within the Easter weekend.)
I remain amazed and more grateful with every passing year for that final teaching:
IT NEVER ENDS

See also:

nothing ever dies but a dream

what is it that follows me wherever I go?

wideawake women

Image source unknown


an innocent, dry-eyed, whole-hearted presence

[Although this little piece was written a month ago, circumstances around internet access have delayed its posting.  I’m three weeks late, but how relevant is time when it comes to love?]

Last month, on January 29, my mother Miriam would have celebrated her 100th birthday.

Looking back I find something quite remarkable:  I don’t EVER remember seeing her cry. *

I remember asking her about this; wondering if she’d intentionally decided to never again cry, as some do who have seen more than their fair share of life’s hard knocks.  She said that on the death of her little sister, Bessie, her grief was so enormous she thought it would kill her, but that by some kind of Grace she’d discovered a way of shifting the weight of her personal sorrow.  She would have hardly been in her teens at the time.

Her simple secret was to stop and look for something unexpectedly good about the apparently tragic, sad or crazy situation life was dishing up.  It was years before I understood the value of this – at first I saw it as an evasion of reality, a Pollyanna prescription, mere ‘positive thinking’.  During my years as a card-carrying member of the Thought Police I accused her of simply replacing one thought with another.  She’d never waste her energy in argument though; she seemed to quietly trust that eventually I’d come to understand the dynamics of thinking and figure it out for myself.  Compassion!

And I did.  I came to understand that thinking is always dual – polarized – and that you can’t simply turn a negative one into a positive one to any effect.  Pitting thought against thought is not an effective remedy for the relief of suffering.  Mum knew better than that.  She had found out for herself, however, that if you look for the opposite of the ‘bad’ in the news – playing a kind of game with your mind to release its death-grip on the certainty of tragedy – you eventually reach a space where the polarities cancel each other out, and given time, it becomes second-nature to abide in that spacious equanimity.  Note that the same dynamic applies to thoughts that insist on the ‘goodness’ of any news.

Mum’s natural response was seldom to comment from her own position.  She reflexively put on the moccasins of the ‘other’.  Here’s an example.  My Dad passed away just ten minutes before she arrived at the hospice.  I went to the door to tell her the news, expecting her to be sad that she had missed his last moments.  (They had, after all, been married for 73 years.)  She broke into the sweetest smile, raised her arms and said, “He’s free at last!”

Mum’s wisdom was not about right versus wrong or about passive complacency; it embraced an energized equanimity that lies on the other side of thoughts altogether.  She mightn’t have done much crying, but her heart was always poised at-the-ready to meet whatever life dished up.  Her quiet presence was often all the comfort a suffering soul needed:  her innocent, dry-eyed, whole-hearted presence.

Earth Mother

This Earth Mother image – scanned from a greeting card years ago – bears an uncanny facial resemblance to Miriam. And the symbolism couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with her virtues – from my perspective anyway!

On the 100th anniversary of her birth I’m taking a leaf out of her book and looking for the ‘good things’ about her departure.

  1. Like Dad a year earlier, she was “free at last” from her frail, weary, broken body.  Ninety six orbits of the sun were quite enough.
  2. I learned that I could carry forward the immense love and compassion she had for the world, and that I could slowly, with no little agony and humility, grow into her gracious wisdom.
  3. Thanks to her departure, this blog was born.  And that’s a very good thing because it honors and celebrates a great soul who, uneducated and without any personal need to promote her wisdom, left almost no trace in this world.

~

*  Although … when I first left home at 19, bound for Sydney (crying all the way across the Tasman Sea) she wrote that she had roamed the empty house weeping all day at the shock of my absence.  We were joined at the hip, Mum and I, and as she reminded me in the last hours of her life – “It never ends!”

~

Image: Scanned from a greeting card years ago. I vaguely remember that the artist was a New Zealand woman, living in Australia. If you know more, please advise me – I’d love to give credit.

~

nothing ever dies but a dream

I’m celebrating an anniversary this morning. Three years ago the dream had a daughter holding her beloved mother as she breathed the breath that would never return.

I’m also celebrating because, for the first time in those three years, the pain has vanished. The passage of time is a great healer, as is the time spent silently aware-ing on the zafu.  But I also honor the beloved mentors who have appeared in the story, their healing tools in hand. They are many, but I particularly want to thank: A kind, wise Lama, who sent me away on a retreat to find “the mother” I mourned. And a dear, dear woman whose energy healing (EFT) triggered the release of volumes of stories held in this body’s cellular vaults. And – Byron Katie. The work of the Work leaves no lie uncovered, and o-m-g some monster furphies were happily beavering away in this wee dream called ‘me’. One of them, running below the limn of  consciousness in spite of intellectual clarity about and acceptance of impermanence and the impossibility of independent self-hood, was a subtle and sneaky belief in death.

Nothing was ever born but a dream.
Nothing ever dies but a dream.

Reality is the always-stable, never-disappointing base of experience.
When I look at what really is, I can’t find a me.
As I have no identity, there’s no one to resist death.
Death is everything that has been dreamed,
including the dream of myself,
so at every moment I die of what has been
and am continually born as awareness in the moment,
and I die of that, and am born in it again.
The thought of death excites me.
Everyone loves a good novel and looks forward to how it will end.
It’s not personal.
After the death of the body, what identification will the mind take on?
The dream is over, I was perfection,
I could not have had a better life.
And whatever I am is born in this moment
as everything good that has ever lived.
~ Byron Katie

One dream ends. And here’s the beauty of it – this unlit light | reality | primordial awareness – abides, even as new dreams appear.

And I can hear her l a u g h t e r . . .

Gladness! Gratitude! Grace!

.

thy queendom come

Isabel Lilian Turner
26 October 1914 – 12 January 2011

The last of the ancient aunties has been fittingly farewelled. It was a small, simple, and serene funeral. Dying at 96 of plain weariness after a healthy creative life was cause for celebration and joy, yet we felt the quiet ache of her absence as well.

Included in the service was the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer, a mainstay and inspiration for so many souls. As I recited the lines I couldn’t help but inwardly offer up a different version, one that I learned many years ago. It’s a rendition from the Aramaic language, the tongue spoken by Jesus himself.

The version that we know as The Lord’s Prayer has been through the grist of Greek and the labyrinths of Latin before being translated into English, with all the modifications inherent in such a winding pathway. The shift, from a song of praise and supplication addressed to a matriarchal source of Life, to a patriarchal prayer, happened somewhere along the way.

Because Aramaic is a language that – like most indigenous languages – allows for many different possibilities to be present simultaneously, there are many different renditions. They are like subtly different perfumes given off by a single glorious flower.

I came away from the funeral with a little project – to post as many versions from the Aramaic as I can find, or gain permission to publish.

Perhaps you have a favorite version you’d like to contribute?

 

O cosmic Birther of all radiance and matter!

Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where Your Presence can abide.

Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of Your mission.

Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.

Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish.

Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.

Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.

For You are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth-power and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.

Ameyn

 


we give thanks for ancient aunties

Listen to me.

Love is all there is.
Nothing more is needed to be known.
So open your heart and, in the name of that love,
welcome every bit of life that awaits you.
Your purpose is to be present, minute by minute,
breath by breath, tomorrow after tomorrow,
to the end of time itself.
~ Emmanuel

 

Breath by breath I am present as another beloved wise woman,
my mother’s little sister, breathes her last.

Ninety six orbits of the sun – she finally caught up, in earth-time,
with the big sister she was always chasing.

The last of the aunties of the Harrex line has left.
The cousins assemble. There will be celebrations.

She’d like that.

Ahhh, beloved Life. We give thanks for ancient aunties.
We remember their busty lavender loveliness as they hugged us close.
We give thanks.

 


the gift of grief

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

 

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.


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


This 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