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


 

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


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


once your cruci-fiction is over

Bill Viola - The Crossing, 1996, video/sound installation

 

once your cruci-fiction is over

you will say Father

thank you for forsaking me

so that what I am

and have always been

could melt, again

into the womb

of the Mother’s wild Love

 

could shed the unstoppable

tears, that by some divine alchemy

transform

from grief into bliss

 

could abide again

in the Garden of Grace

regardless of life’s sorrows

and confusion and pain

 

you will say thank you

once your cruci-fiction is over

 


Image: Bill ViolaThe Crossing, 1996
Video/sound installation

Source


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.

~

grounded by love

This post is reblogged with gratitude from Pema Deane’s The Vibrant Heart.

Pema’s posts often have an uncanny serendipitous resonance with the unfoldings happening here.  I love her deep wideawake expression.  It gifts us that rare mix of savage wisdom and heart-full compassion.

Many of us in this extremely challenging and beautiful time of Self-realization go through periods where the experience of having a vital and energetic body is a distant memory.  And every attempt to restore wellness eventually comes back to ground zero.  We are left in ‘nothing works’ and ‘no control’.  Grounded by Love.

This is the time to let all ruminations about fixing go and simply receive the offering of the aches and pains of a broken body.  This is the time to see that every ache is like a kiss from the Beloved saying “Not here, love.  Not here.”  The answer is not here in the body.  Not only is the answer not in fixing it, it is nowhere near the body at all.

It is found in the seeing that a well body and a broken body are one in kind, they are both illusion.  That a clear, light body has no more value than a body filled with energy that is purging and releasing – they are both imagined into existence.

It is cultivated in the gentle, firm and knowing ‘so what’ and ‘nothing matters’ arising in the face of unwellness.

The body’s welfare is pre-ordained, the script already written.  Can we walk through the play holding its hand, letting the newly-shining truth of its unreality and ‘not mattering’ open the heart to great mercy and tenderness for all that is not real.  Mercy for the unresolvable issue in our lives, whatever that may be, for how in its unwavering relentlessness it is waking us up out of the heart of misidentification;  its tugs on our attention losing their strength through the sheer exhaustion of their known ineffectuality.

We rise up as true Self in the midst of the unfixable.  This is its job and this is its grace.  The rising up of the internal Real that sheds light on the unreality of all that is temporal.

~ Pema Deane

an apology to subscribers

Dear friends, followers, and email or RSS feed subscribers to this little blog –

Late last January I switched to a new WordPress theme – the one you see this post displayed on, and with which I’m very satisfied, overall. However, themes are little universes of their own, with mysterious configurations and ways of presenting themselves. (Just like us, eh?)

Some time ago I was surfing back through older posts to try and find an entry on a particular topic, and I discovered that the pre- Forever theme posts which used certain formatting elements were not displaying to my liking. In particular, the ‘small’ font-size was virtually unreadable.

Being of a fussy artistic disposition this bothered me and I resolved to edit them once time allowed. It’s a job that’s been on the back burner for a while, but /and during the last few days I’ve made a start. The problem is, that when I edit a post sometimes WordPress re-posts it to all my ‘followers’ – but only sometimes. I have no idea why this happens when I am only reformatting html and – in some cases – changing categories. The content of the post remains unchanged.

The forum angels advise me that I can switch the blog to “private” for the duration of my editing, and then switch it back to “public” when I’m done, thus avoiding re-posting of edited posts. I’m reluctant to do this, however, because the stats tell me that visitors are continuously viewing the blog – their numbers may not be huge, but I don’t want any of them to be turned away. I wish there was an option to show a message saying “Blog under maintenance – please come back later” – are you listening, WordPress Happiness Engineers?

So far three or four posts have been re-issued – out of dozens that have been edited. I’d like to offer my apologies for this unnecessary input to your inbox. And I need to warn you that over the next week or so there might be more, as I have dozens more posts to mend. You will recognize them by their date. Please just delete them – unless, of course, it’s new material for you and you’re interested…

While I’m at-it, dear friends, I want to thank you for your companionship and support over the past three years. It may ‘only’ be a virtual connection we share, but this heart knows true friendship when it inexplicably and graciously comes its way.

Grace and gratefulness!

~ miriam louisa

.