Mountain Top Road

it lies in the knowing of one’s own being as it truly is

In my silent sitting (and silent listening) this evening, I was inspired to record these Infinite verbs:

  • Sense, Feel, Realize
  • See, Touch, Know
  • Discern, Empathize, Care
  • Listen, Embody, Act

Speaking, reading and hearing these words felt healing and comforting, as if providing a needed pathway.

As if they hold a secret key to a truer way of being.

Although I don’t think there’s really any secret. As my beloved Adyashanti so wisely states,

“Here’s the secret spiritual teaching: The secret teaching is – THERE IS NO SECRET TEACHING because there’s nothing that can take the place of you or I taking that continual plunge into the unknown inside of us. Nothing can take the place of that.”  

Well I’ve been taking some deep plunges. It was an emotional day (maybe post chemo induced, maybe sheer compassion for the people in my life who are suffering).

Why is it that witnessing the suffering of others saddens me more than my personal suffering?

Is it because I feel so helpless about it?

None of us are exempt from experiencing and/or witnessing suffering: Our own suffering, our parents , our children, our friends, our mates, strangers.

Can I fix, repair, resolve, heal someone else’s suffering?

I certainly want to.

Is sincere love for another being a valuable antidote for their suffering?

I do trust that love has more powerful effects than we have yet come to realize.

But even with our love offerings, as heartbreaking as this realization is, I intuitively trust this as innate truth:  

The “moment” a separate-self-consciousness is thinkable, the misunderstanding of who and what you are generates inescapable suffering.

And so many of us have realized this cycle of suffering for what it is –

So why do we continue to perceive/believe/endure this suffering?

(What would the masters from our ancient scriptures say? -Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, etc., etc.).

Adyashanti brings some clarity to this question:

“When Buddha was asked what he obtained from his supreme enlightenment, he said ‘I have obtained absolutely nothing’. What does that mean? Clearly, something for him had changed, something very fundamental.

He called it nirvana. But he also said he hadn’t obtained anything. He had means of finding out the truth for himself. Didn’t really have a doctrine to take the place of whatever we think we know. It was really a means of realization and a means of living it. (And I’m not trying to propagate the Buddhist teaching). There’s something in human being that searches for knowable, conceptual terms, and feeling secure and solid and stable, yet it never works out that way.

Because living from a place of certainty and stability is destabilizing us. Because every moment of life is a flow. You never know what’s coming at you. If we’re living with a rigid conclusion, to that extent we’re not really flowing … there’s not You and Life … There’s just LIFE.”

Aha ….. So Buddha realized the Truth, but he had to be able to LIVE it: Listen, Embody, Act.

I am feeling less sad and more empowered already.

So can I Discern, Empathize, Care without the need to control the outcome?  

Okay, it’s way past my bedtime. Enough mind chatter – let me end with some wisdom from Rupert Spira:

“It takes some time to understand that the essential cause of our suffering is the fact that we have overlooked who or what we essentially are.

Most people feel that the source of peace and happiness is to be found in the acquisition of some kind of objective experience, however subtle that experience may be. Most people need to be failed a number of times, over and over again, by objective experience before they are open to the possibility, either intuitively or by the suggestion of a friend, that the peace and happiness for which they seek doesn’t lie in objective experience but lies in the knowing of their own being as it truly is.

Now what is it that makes some people open to this understanding as opposed to others who no matter how much they suffer are still not open to  it, I don’t know. Of course, the theory of reincarnation explains this but for some people they only have to really suffer once to realize I have invested my happiness in this object or this relationship and its let me down. Every object and relationship, sooner or later will let me down.

Some people only need to taste that failure once or twice before they are open to this new possibility. Other people suffer bitterly throughout their lives, and they’re not open to this possibility even when it is made available to them.”

This post dedicated to you, Dom, my beloved step-grandson. I love you.

Logos

When I received “Man’s Search for Meaning” (a book by Viktor E. Frankl) I immediately dove in – my dear friend, Zahara, had gifted me with a copy and informed me she would be reading it along with me.

Well, I should know better. My sensitivities to the horrors of Auschwitz always feels like I had been there in a past life, and just reading about it – I seem to re-live the events all over again.

For the first 40 pages, I thought, I am NOT going to get through this, this unimaginable, unthinkable, suffering.

I hoped that the eventual fruit of this torturous reading would be worth the trauma.

It was.

And no better moment to receive this wisdom – stuck in my own psycho drama … questioning life’s meaning … ready to throw in the towel and give up treatment … feeling loss of purpose … a mere Guinea pig for the cancer cartel. Thoughts like, I can’t go on like this anymore …. blah, blah, blah.

And what does life place in my lap? This gift from a man born in Vienna 1905, his meaningful message. His wisdom reaffirms the treasure my soul is quietly holding for me, patiently awaiting my recognition.

Below, an especially lovely excerpt that filled my heart with meaning:

“Let me recall that which was perhaps the deepest experience I had in the concentration camp. The odds of surviving the camp were no more than one in twenty eight, as can easily be verified by exact statistics. It did not even seem possible, let alone probable, that the manuscript of my first book, which I had hidden in my coat when I arrived at Auschwitz, would ever be rescued. Thus, I had to undergo and to overcome the loss of my mental child. And now it seemed as if nothing and no one would survive me; neither a physical nor a mental child of my own! So I found myself confronted with the question whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning.

Not yet did I notice that an answer to the question with which I was wrestling so passionately was already in store for me, and that soon thereafter this answer would be given to me. This was the case when I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn-out rags of an inmate who had already been sent to the gas chamber immediately after his arrival at the Auschwitz railway station. Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in a pocket of the newly acquired coat a single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, containing the most important Jewish prayer, Shema Yisrael. How should I have interpreted such a “coincidence” other than as a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?

A bit later, I remember, it seemed to me that I would die in the near future. In this critical situation, however, my concern was different from that of most of my comrades. Their question was, “Will we survive the camp? For, if not, all this suffering has no meaning.” The question which beset me was, “Has all this suffering, this dying around us, a meaning? For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance-as whether one escapes or not-ultimately would not be worth living at all.”

Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

Nishprapanchaya Shantaya

Last week I went Christmas shopping. Having purchased not a single gift up till now, this was a huge endeavor seven days prior to the holiday. But I braved the 17–degree temps.

Probably not too wise of a decision.

I thought, I should be nurturing my immune-compromised blood levels during “week-off” chemotherapy

But I’m resolute; I gotta bring gifts for the grandkids and family members.

My habituated determination …. I recognize it. It’s laughable. Hard to change lifetime convictions.  

Thankfully, the opposite pole of persistence arose simultaneously, and the desire to self-nurture endured.   

A 30-minute drive to Milford, PA ahead, I decided to lose myself in a podcast. Its auspicious title beckoned my attention, “The Search for Enlightenment” by Rupert Spira.

Kind of ridiculous having heard this talk a gazillion times in every imaginable form – from Nisargadata to Ramana to Krishnamurti to Adyashanti ad infinitum …. As if I might hear something new.

Unexpectedly, Mr. Spira’s articulation on this topic smashed my heart open – in an exceptionally beautiful, frigid, sun beaming off icicle moment on a country road in Northeastern PA.

Perhaps my lowering WBC count assisted in opening my heart a little deeper this time?

Who knows.

I bawled like a puppy for her mother. You know when you’re alone in the car, and you can sob so loud it hurts?

Ranks right up there with an incredible orgasm.

Here’s the part that broke the dam of uncontrollable tears:

15:47

Rupert: You’ve recognized that who you essentially are now is ever-present, never hurt or tarnished by experience, never disturbed, it needs nothing.

What more do you want?

Questioner: (I can’t trust that the wanting will stop)

Rupert: What are you wanting?

If you have found that in yourself which is inherently peaceful and has no sense of lack, what are you lacking?

Questioner:  (There’s nothing I lack)

Rupert: The wanting will only stop when you recognize that you ARE what you WANT.

End 17:01

The Anusara invocation I have chanted for a decade reverberated in my heart, and I recalled how near this knowledge is, how it has remained engrained in my heart.

Om Namah Shivaya Gurave: I honor God, the Nature of Being, The Teacher within.
Satchidananda Murtaye: ITS essence is Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss.
Nishprapanchaya Shantaya: IT is always present and full of peace.
Niralambaya Tejase: It is completely free and radiates from the heart with a divine luster.

(my interpretation)

Enjoy the video, tissues recommended.

solstice

“Any day we can understand something a little better is a good day.” Lavette Hawkins, alchemist, astronomer, astrologer, linguist.

“The day of the death of the sun

The oldest story

The first story ever

Was the day the sun died and then 3 days later it being born again

They rewrite this story through history in the different cultures

It comes from the same root story we were all told

But in a different way

Back when the languages were all one symbol we had one story, and it was this one.

But it has mutated over time.

The scribes scribbled the scriptures and gave us Bible bibble bable at Babylon

So we must unscribble.

And the answer is within the question

What is today about?

It’s the day the sun stands still. Through all the traditions and all the cultures throughout the planet this was the saddest day of the year because the sun died.

The sun, the giver of life on this planet.

The death and birth of the sun. The Bible is an alchemical astrology book because it will last forever. ” Lavette

Seeing with new eyes, something we take for granted (everything we take for granted). Believing the stories. What we were “taught”.

Today I’m grateful for new ways to see the illusions of the “world”.

I got my dreams back

I keep a dream journal.

It’s about a decade since the practice was first suggested by my yoga teacher, Gail (my very first teacher/guru).

I don’t think she’s aware how valuable that suggestion turned out for me.

I even created a website, The Yoga of Dreaming, where I document my dream/awake life happenings with intent to inspire a community of like-minded dreamers to participate.  The website is a work in progress, on hold at present, but I’ll return my energy to it when the time feels right.

Interestingly, about a week ago I noticed a long lapse of no dream recall. Like 3 or 4 weeks – no dreams!

What’s going on? I wondered. Could it be that Dream Tincture from the Columbia Care medical marijuana store?

The “pharmacist” at the medical marijuana store carefully selected just the right “medicine” for me based on my evaluation:

I’ve read the research on CBD’s anti-inflammatory qualities. But I hate smoking pot … I get paranoid and can’t shut my mind down … the smoke hurts my lungs … I’ve tried the chocolate marijuana and had the same problem …  I need my rest at night, and what I’ve tried so far isn’t helping.

So he prescribed the Dream Tincture liquid:

A liquid drop each night before sleep – start by taking the smallest dose. A drop under the tongue, hold in mouth for a minute, swallow and you’ll be off to a night of sweet dreams.

After about 3 or 4 weeks of religiously taking my nightly dose, I noticed that I was indeed sleeping like a baby again. Quick to fall asleep, no tossing and turning.

But no dreaming …  WTF?

Hey, if this CBD is supposed to be healing for my inflammatory breast cancer that’s great – but if I’m never gunna dream again, fuck that!

So I stopped taking it.

My husband was flabbergasted by my decision. “You’re actually going to stop taking something you believe is healing for your cancer so you can remember your dreams?”

“Yes.” And exactly 3 days later my dream life resumed.

And the dream was a gem.  

I titled this dream Overcome with Joy:

               I witness what looked like a grocery store for elderly folk. I’m inside, observing the shoppers pushing their carts. I’m sensing the feeling of community and kindness among the customers. I watch my mother as she pushes her cart. Another shopper “finds” something and places it in Mom’s cart. I am aware that this item is something “special” and it is intended to be given to me as a gift. It’s a dish of food/dessert (?) with cellophane wrapping and a ribbon. I watch from afar. I know it’s for me. I can feel Mom’s thoughts. It’s a humble gift, but she looks forward to bestow this gift upon me and feels happy that she is able to do so. I begin to cry, at first uncontrollably, then with a smile and a feeling of overwhelming joy. I say to myself out loud through my tears, I am overcome with so much JOY!

There are really no words for the depth of love this dream imparted on my consciousness. Whether it was a literal “gift” from my mother’s consciousness to mine or a message from an unknown level of existence assuring me that this is the love that is the Reality of Life – and this is what it feels like.

I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that I will never forget that feeling. And it was given as a gift in my dream.

Magic green carpet

There’s a statement by Mahatma Ghandi that remains implanted in my mind. He said, “If anyone is to find writings of mine, please use the latter on the same subject.” 

For me, this token of wisdom affirms that our ideas and opinions have an infinitely changing nature. What we perceive through the mind has the unlimited capacity to change.  

Over a decade ago, I wrote about a mind-altering experience while sitting in meditation:

My interpretation of the experience was being in infinitely big space (like being in outer space). It was completely dark, as the vast night sky with no stars. The silence was so huge that it was beyond anything my imagination could create. The feeling was like having no body, no time, and no words. And so I couldn’t process this, having nothing to compare it to. I didn’t even know where to begin, so I kind of just let it go. I knew it “happened” but I couldn’t relate to any of it through my cognitive mind.

In my memoir, which is presently a work in progress, I wrote about this again and revisit the experience within context.

CHAPTER __:

 The Magic Green Carpet

I had already lived 46 years when I met Gail. It was a time of transition for me, and I felt called to do something in my typical way – unexpectedly. One day, the inner voice simply made its choice to be heard, and the body felt compelled to pursue its direction.

Sitting in my office at a desktop computer, I stared at the monitor’s screen jam-packed with the medical notes I had diligently transcribed. All of the words that I had typed became blurred.  I removed my earphones, stopped typing, and placed my attention on sitting quietly and listening to a feeling sense that arose out of nowhere. It sounded like my own voice to my thinking mind, but I recognized a quality of deeper resonance than the usual mind chatter.

It said, “You need to study yoga. It’s time to train as a yoga teacher.”

The idea appeared out of nowhere, but I didn’t question it. My mind complied, and I made a silent agreement just like that, Okay, I’ll choose a place to get my yoga certification.

My friend, Inga, often spoke about Ronda – a yoga teacher at Yoga Mountain.  

Decision made. I’ll call Yoga Mountain and apply.

The Yoga Mountain dwelling was a residential space that had turned commercial, and it looked pleasant enough, humble and welcoming from the outside. A small glass door entryway led to the reception area where I would be directed to go upstairs to the yoga studio. A narrow spiral staircase led to the studio upstairs. This struck me as wholly symbolic – a mysterious new pathway into the unknown.

At the top of the stairway what appeared to be a closet door led into the yoga studio from the rear.  I opened the door, and allowed my eyes to adapt to the dimmed lights.

A woman sitting cross-legged at the front of the room looked up, “Hello, welcome. Please come in and sit down.”

In that instant, from that 15-foot distance across the room, I could feel her immense warmth, kindness and loving presence. I knew I was in the right place.

It perhaps had not even been a full year when my yoga teacher, Gail, instructed, “It’s time for you to teach”. Her belief was, there’s no “right” time when you’re ready to teach yoga. Her method was, throw the student into the water and they’ll learn to swim- to teach what they know – from their heart.

That’s when she chose me to take on a private student. I was a new teacher, very inexperienced, and still studying with Gail for my 200-hour certification. But my foundation was strong with Gail’s guidance, and I grasped the magnitude of the breath and meditation. Though my confidence often wavered, I trusted that I possessed something of value – something I could share with another person.

The only information I was given about Dawn was that she was a 30-something year old mom who wanted private yoga instruction. On the day we met for our first yoga session, it was her timid nature that affirmed for me her reluctance to attend a group yoga class. A fair-skinned, blonde with blue-gray eyes, she was soft-spoken, a gentle soul, and I could clearly sense her fear of not being good enough. She wasn’t ready to try something she didn’t know how to do in a group setting.   

As I guided Dawn through the most basic of stretching and strengthening postures, I encouraged her to be less judgmental about the right way and the wrong way. Then I invited her to sit down. The studio had a tight-weaved wall-to-wall carpet, a dark shade of green, which was almost dowdy but strangely soothing. I stacked two folded blankets, placed them down on the carpet, and asked Dawn to sit down.  Then I placed my blankets directly across from her, and I sat down. We sat face to face.

I invited Dawn to explore a breath I had studied called 3-part breathing, also known as dirga pranayama, which can be translated as complete, or long or deep breathing from the low belly all the way up to the collar bones. We practiced the breathing together until I sensed the student had reached a deeper relaxation, and I said, “Okay, let’s return to normal breathing, close our eyes, and sit together in silent meditation”.

That’s when it happened …

Within moments of sitting quietly with my own breath, the observer (me) disappeared, and all there was to be experienced and observed was NOTHING.

Time and space completely vanished.

Yet somewhere, like an infinitesimal spec of light, the observer (me) was able to witness this huge, black, ENDLESS space with a silence I had never imagined could exist.

Then I actually MERGED with the dark, silent, space.

That is, until the spec of light that could observe this space reappeared. And that’s when the spec of light spoke.

It said, “You have to teach yoga now.”

On hearing those words, my mind became alert and aware of the physical space my body was occupying.

I wondered, How much time has passed?

I looked at Dawn. Her eyes were still closed. Everything seemed completely intact. But I had no idea how much time had passed, if any at all. I glanced at the clock on the wall – it was almost 10:30 a.m., precisely the right time for our session to conclude.

As astounded as I was over this inexplicable state of consciousness I had just experienced, there remained a calm grounding presence that continued to guide me, and so I resumed my role as teacher and gently directed Dawn to deepen her breath and slowly open her eyes.  

I ruminated, “Could she possibly know what just happened? Don’t be ridiculous, that’s impossible. She seems perfectly fine.”

But I knew something immense had occurred. However, I had no understanding what it was or what it meant to me.  

I would spend the next decade delving into every aspect of yogic esoteric knowledge to help me process what this experience could possibly mean. I studied the classics, the Vedic and Tantric philosophies, the Sutras, Taoism, Zen Buddhism, the ancient yoga masters, and the new age masters.

At the time of this writing, I persevere in recognition and gratitude that this was a moment of grace. The reality of no-time was given to me, just a glimpse, enough to spark the light of wisdom within me. I was graced to witness the reality of non-duality prior to my conditioned and learned understanding of such an idea.  It was a foresight of everything I would come to learn, study, and experience through the mastery of the yogic path.

As I write this now, I am reminded of the unchanging quality of that magic green carpet experience.  Simultaneously, I’m reminded how my understanding of it holds the potential for infinite evolution.  

As Gandhi wisely advised, “If anyone is to find writings of mine, please use the latter on the same subject.” 

Photo credit: Annie Brightstar

the center

Sit still and place your attention on the “center point” of anything in your imaginative experience.

Visualize the “point” radiating outwards concentrically, wheels within wheels.

Now, ask yourself, “How can I BE that radiating love?”

I’ve been practicing this simple exercise for several weeks, and the result is quite simply the greatest gift I’ve given myself in a long time. The moments that I take to FEEL and IMAGINE being that radiating love – and then witnessing how it looks through ME when I’m relating to others. This has lifted my spirit immensely.  

I’ll admit, it’s not easy. It takes a commitment and devotion to continually, gently bring the attention back when it wanders.

It should be obvious for everyone how easy it is for the mind to trail off, that’s what the mind does.

Nobody is exempt …

from Suffering,

and suffering is soooo easy.

But what’s difficult, and worth the battle, is Being the Love and witnessing it move through you, as you. It will appear differently for each unique being.

When we pursue placing our attention on this practice, we’ll know down to the bone,

This resonates with my deepest Truth.

Serendipitously, it was only a day or two after I contemplated this idea which inspired me to create this particular practice that I received an email which validated my feelings beautifully:

Circle of Love by Rev. Toni Petrinovich

“You are the love of God. I AM expresses through you. The only love that exists within this dimension is felt and demonstrated by and through you.

You are a circle of love. It is a wave of love that you are advancing from you into the omni-verse infinitely in all directions, all realms, all dimensions as I AM. There is nowhere that you are not capable of emitting this love – you are the center point, the focus point of the love that you give you and is then emanated out into the all.

This is why if you want love in your life, you must be love so that the frequency of love will respond to your frequency. If you don’t believe you will ever find love in your life, you will not. Plain and simple. And love does have a frequency, a wavelength.”