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.

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

Trust

My soul sister, Zahara, called me from Florida today.

She always sparks something that arises as a feeling in my heart center, which I can only describe as,

I know she sees it in me, and I also see it in her (Namaste).

We talked and laughed. And she asked about how I’m doing – the cancer thing – and the words that came out of me were, “I totally TRUST it will all be okay.”

(Translation: Whether I live to experience life as an old lady, or whether inflammatory breast cancer causes my demise as a younger woman – I TRUST either path.)

I have my moments when this wavers, of course. This Trust, I mean, though I know it’s quality of omnipresence, I forget. My ego takes the reins. It wants to think it can control or it wants to think that it will find the reason for cancer, for the world’s insanity. When I remember, this immense Trust simply observes and then lets go of all these ideas.

And I empowered the Trust by listening to this talk today, which I’ve highlighted/paraphrased below. For almost 15 years I’ve been learning from this being’s wisdom, and the teaching is endlessly alive within me. It is rewarding to hear this wise soul, Adyashanti, articulate what I feel.

Namaste, Zahara.

Namaste, Adya.

“There’s a part of the mind that is almost incessantly talking to itself. Ego is kind of like the verb of self-consciousness –  I am a something that exists.

When awareness reflects back upon itself, that’s the absolute essential component for self-consciousness. It starts out in a relatively mild form, and as you grow up it becomes more dense.

Ego can also be thought of as a psychic function, a function of self-consciousness, the sense of I Am-ness, even before it becomes the narrative, I am worthy or unworthy, etc.

There’s another kind of psychic structure that’s very different from the ego. In some traditions it’s called the Self (equated often with God, Buddha nature, etc).

Sometimes we can actually be called to look within to mitigate suffering, or to have a better experience of being. It makes sense at some point that the ego would want to mitigate as much suffering as it can.

But there can also be another call. Something else which calls us to look within. A totally different domain of this immensity of the psyche – the Self. (the God-head, Buddha nature etc). The Self really knows there is no boundary. There is no experience of limitation or edge to the Self. When it’s experienced it is boundless. Therefore it’s often called the fundamental reality.  

The spiritual instinct properly belongs to the Self. When the Self begins to move within you, there is no ambiguity that you as an ego are being acted upon that’s completely beyond the ego. The spiritual impulse from the ego’s point of view is something it receives, not creates.

The ego is the recipient, not the creator of the spiritual impulse.

It’s as if you as an ego can be chasing God or enlightenment, prayer, meditation, etc., and then all of the sudden you realize that the game has shifted, its reversed. And all of the sudden it feels like you are being chased by God. You still don’t know what that is but you can feel the transition from when the spiritual instinct within the self is activated, you then have a feeling that your own spiritual search doesn’t really fundamentally belong to you as an ego. It’s kind of unsettling. You have the feeling your spiritual search is not entirely in your control.

It’s not something you’re creating but it’s something that’s calling for some kind of response from you. That’s why words like God got invented – a word for this immensity that’s infinitely bigger than the ego. The ego is experiencing this awakening impulse but it’s not just for the ego, its somehow something outside of that. Often you don’t understand it.

For me, it felt like some sort of force came and lit up this desire for Truth. I didn’t understand why I was interested in those things. Wherever that impulse came from, I knew I received it but I didn’t create it. Then there’s this transition that happens inside, if it happens at all.

Ramana (Maharshi) has a great image for this: Getting your head caught in the tiger’s mouth.

Well you’ve just gotten your head caught in something bigger and stronger than you are.

The nature of the Self being without limit. When there’s no cosmic line drawn anywhere that you can say, I’ve experienced all there is to experience about it. You can think it, feel it, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually true.

In esoteric or contemplative teachings of reality, God is within you, and that’s relatively true, but not absolutely true. It’s said in order to get us to stop looking for God out there, and to get us to look for God inside of us. But really, we exist within God (or what the word is pointing to). The same way the ego exists within the totality of the psyche/ which is limitless. The greater part of your psyche does not exist within your ego. Your ego exists as a very small portion of your psyche. To stop exteriorizing God, we shouldn’t take it literally. God doesn’t exist within the ego. The ego exists within God, within the Self, within Buddha nature. All words for the same immensity. This is all theory right up until the point that this immensity starts to impose itself, act upon the ego in a very direct way. You can understand why people would create Gods and deities “out there” because the true spiritual impulse is something that comes outside of the ego. If you’ve ever really had the spiritual impulse that comes from the totality, its abundantly clear to you that you as an ego did not create it.

Awakening is when our sense of being wakes from being contained within the limiting sense of the ego structure and suddenly becomes aware of the immensity by whatever name one gives it.   

When the Self decides that It wants to stir into consciousness through your incarnation, well you’ll feel it. You’ll start to feel this evolutionary thrust, yearning, and of course, the ego is going to coopt that to some extent or another. That’s okay, the Self will utilize the ego’s desire not to suffer, but the impulse itself transcends our own personal wants and desires.  

The true part of God existing outside of you does exist outside and beyond the ego. But it’s within you in the sense that it is all originating in the cosmic psyche. It’s not the ego that awakens; it’s the Self – in a certain sense – that awakens from the identification with the ego.  Then we realize the Self isn’t really out there, but the self isn’t even something in here. Properly speaking, the whole point isn’t to look inside as opposed to outside, because inside and outside are actually mental constructs. When those constructs fall away – when we see through the constructs – then even the idea of in and out doesn’t make sense anymore. At a certain point it no longer even fits experience or perception. It’s just something that conditions perception. Like the Buddha would call it “thus-ness” the “such-ness” of something.  When something is not dual, how do you describe it? So you really can’t describe it.  In the Self, the opposites are not even dictating perception.

Awakening is a grace. That’s simply to say it is something the ego cannot produce. The ego can’t make awakening happen, however, it can start to undermine its fixed identity. If you really get what I’m talking about, the ego can start to deeply relax. Okay, it’s participating in its awakening but it’s not the cause of it. Your true being, your total being is the Self. So it’s a kind of trust in the Self.

If you can conceive of it, it’s too small.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT IT THAT YOU CAN TRUST.”

Adyashanti

going deeper

Recently, I felt a calling to take up puzzles again. There’s a noticeable shift in awareness when I’m working on a puzzle. My dreams are more resonant, and I feel like I’ve worked things out upon awakening. I sense that the puzzles have also been helpful in shifting my perspective on Life to more of an aerial view.

This perspective becomes clearer when I trust my inner compass to guide my understanding about Life. I especially like the words/phrases below; although their meanings may be intellectually abstract, the experience they point to is becoming more Real and concrete for me.

What do these words mean for you?

  • Voice Within
  • Deeper Conscience
  • Deeper Nature
  • Higher Purpose
  • Deeper Knowledge Within
  • Higher Vantage Point
  • Power and Presence of Knowledge
  • Natural Resonance
  • Empathy Felt at a Deeper Level

I extracted the above words from an essay called Forgiveness, by Marshall Vian Summers, excerpt below:

The choice really is a choice for the individual as to what voice within themselves they will listen to. Will they listen to the power and presence of Knowledge that God has placed within them to guide them, to protect them and to lead them to a greater life? Or will they listen to the voice of their own personal mind that seeks to protect itself above all things that will meet its needs first, regardless of the consequences for other peoples?

This is not an ideological debate. It is not an intellectual problem. It is more fundamental than this. It is a question of whether you will follow your deeper conscience or your own fear and insecurity. If you see that your deeper nature is beyond your mind, then you will not become so identified with your ideas, your beliefs or your prejudices, and you will be much more reserved in judging, condemning or dismissing others.

This kind of self-awareness is so very important because when people are denied recognition of their deeper nature, their thinking becomes aberrant. They identify with their thoughts and their possessions, and their ability to recognize others and to experience compassion is limited or destroyed altogether.

From the standpoint of having a higher purpose, you realize that everyone is teaching you the value of Knowledge. Both their successes and their failures are showing you the importance of adhering to this deeper Knowledge within yourself. Why would you condemn others when they are teaching you the results of not following Knowledge within yourself? When people are making every kind of error and experiencing the consequences of these errors, why would you condemn them when they are showing you the results of your own temptation to deny the power, presence and guidance of Knowledge within yourself?

From a higher vantage point, from the perspective of recognizing that you have a higher purpose in life, you will see these things. Perhaps you could not see them before, but you will see them clearly now. You will see that life is teaching you that there is only Knowledge or the substitutes for Knowledge. There is only being true to your deeper nature, or there is betrayal in all directions.

Here you must understand that not everything that happens is beneficial. If you try to make everything wonderful and beneficial, you will be dishonest, and dishonesty leads to great errors and great difficulties. And so your evaluation must be based upon a deeper awareness within yourself that is not really ideological in nature. It is more of a natural resonance. It is beyond the intellect. It is the empathy you feel with people at a deeper level.

belief

I was enjoying a talk by Bill Donohue. Just love the guy. His passion, his authenticity.

I was listening while driving, and something he said affected me, unexpectedly, kind of a Zen slap. (I’ll share the transcript below for context).

What happened was, I had an unexpected realization about how I’ve always believed something that is totally untrue. Just a man-made concept. Nothing to do with Reality as it actually is. And how this belief has affected my entire life (and continues to do so).

It was the simple realization that the 7 days of the week are entirely a made up idea based on an ancient understanding and a collectively consciously agreed upon “fact.” This blew my mind in the instant that I heard Bill talk about it.

Sounds stupid, I know. But as soon as the words came out of his mouth, it hit me as if I saw that moment in an entirely new light. Like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Like I could really be FREE and actually LIVE in each moment – because that’s the ONLY thing that really exists.

One never knows the time or the place when that little opening of enlightenment will allow you to see everything new again.

I’m grateful to have had many such openings in my lifetime, and each one brings me a little closer to joy, to grace, to realization, to truth, to love.

Thank you, Bill Donohue.

895 Ascension of Buddha, Bill Donahue: (excerpt)

(28:21): “The number 7 means divine intervention

It’s kind of the biblical lucky number because they only knew of 7 planets at that time

That’s why you have 7 days of the week

If they knew we had two other planets out there you’d have 9 days of the week.

All of your weekdays are named after the constellations.

That’s why you have 12 months of the year because of the 12 signs of the zodiac.

The whole thing’s astrology, how can you get away from it?

What are you going to have 13 months of the year?

The first page of the bible, it talks about the stars in the sky:

And let them be for signs and for seasons …..

Well then if it says the stars are for signs, Wouldn’t you think you should find out what the stars mean?”

Alone I know nothing

Yes, I admit, I know absolutely nothing when it comes to the Truth of this Reality.

I have to recognize that each time I forget.

Otherwise, I am just deluded.

The persona, Janet, which I embody, seems to be a mind/body/spirit complex Being who believes she is separate from What Always Is.

But she’s Not separate in Actuality.

And that’s where the Knowing comes in. And this is how Knowing showed up for me:

In February 2019 after my breast reconstruction surgery (post 2 years of “successful” breast cancer treatment), I began to have signals – feelings, big surges of desire for change, deep disappointment with my current state of affairs in every aspect.

It felt like an alien took over my body/mind complex and was informing me to make major life changes. At times, I felt like I was having an emotional breakdown.

It really did feel alien, because I’m typically very tolerant, an empathetic sort who deals with anger/judgmental emotions in a way that sets the feelings aside through deep contemplation of how to engage forgiveness and acceptance.

But this “alien” showed up and said in my head’s voice, “Fuck this. I’m done. I can’t live like this anymore.”

I felt possessed. I couldn’t stop the feelings, and the voice in my head was insistent.

This alien visitor (coincidentally?) appeared exactly at the time I began experiencing pain in the breast reconstruction area…..

This pain presented as sharp, burning, electric jolts of pain. This was in March directly after the February 25 surgery.

The alien informed me, “Get out of this marriage relationship and run far away, free yourself from the family drama and incessant codependent relationships you are witnessing.  Leave it all behind.  Get a van, live in it, and travel across county. Find out who you are.”

The alien voice further insisted, “It’s time to quit all these yoga jobs. You’re running around like a chicken without a head, wasting gas and time for piddling compensation, not to mention you’re exhausted. You no longer feel inspired to teach yoga, but required. And that’s not how you used to feel.”

I listened.

In April, the most grueling words I’ve ever felt forced to voice somehow came out of my mouth, and I informed my husband of 30 years, “I think we should separate from each other.”

Next, I gave my notice to 3 out 4 of my yoga employers. I would be taking a long term sabbatical from teaching yoga for personal/health reasons.

It was now May, and my pain turned into a visible rash on the skin of my right breast. The doctors guessed, Shingles?

In June my radiation Oncologist saw my growing, worsening rash, looked at me with a face of horror, and said, “I don’t think this is shingles. You need a biopsy.”

During all of this, my husband and I talked, yelled, cried, shared, but ultimately came to agreement that our relationship was worth working at….. together.. .We agreed to hold on to the foundation of love beneath all the dysfunctional and difficult stuff that has arisen.

Still experiencing burning pain, I couldn’t even keep the one yoga job I had held onto, and I asked for time off due to the painful rash. 

On June 18, my husband’s birthday, I had a skin biopsy. The result: Recurrent breast cancer in the skin.

In July, my PET scan result was: Inflammatory breast cancer metastasized to skin.

In August, it was confirmed that my disease is stage 4, incurable, and chemotherapy along with any eligibility for trials would be my best option and hope for remission.

And so I contemplate ……..

  • Did the “Alien” KNOW I had cancer before I did?
  • Did the “Alien” inform my actions based on the KNOWLEDGE that I needed healing through self love?
  • Did the “Alien” show up as actual cancer cells to bring me to my knees in surrender so that I could focus first on service to self, which automatically will then develop into service to others?

I feel inclined to believe that this thing I refer to as the Alien is Life Itself (God).

Does that mean God is the cancer too? I think so.

And although in this realm we perceive what happens as good or bad, this Alien Voice, Life Itself, God is NEUTRAL, but in Unseen Reality the inevitable result is always for the highest good…… something we cannot perceive or know.

And although Janet Alone cannot KNOW the highest good, when Connected to Source she can allow what Life Itself intends to live through her.

 Today’s prayer:

 Allow me to fulfill my purpose, whatever that may be.

mission

I have a mission to fulfill.

Don’t we all?

I recognize for an instant the connection of consciousness as One.

It’s only an instant. Pouf, it’s gone. I forget again.

Instead, I focus on the sharp stings in my chest, my armpit. I cringe. Fucking pain. Fucking cancer. The skin on my chest is so hideous I look like a freak show. And it hurts like a mother F-er.

Take another pill. Ha, me who never took an aspirin. Now I need a narcotic to get through the night.

Oh, she loves to pity herself doesn’t she?

Then I snap back.

I have a mission to fulfill.

Seriously. This mission is so important that it’s the ONLY thing that really matters.

And I’ll never get to KNOW what the mission is.

Maybe the mission will be revealed after this body is gone.

Or maybe it won’t.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s an INFINITE mission.

And we are ALL fulfilling it.