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.

Compassion for our humanity

watching documentary on Steven Spielberg, and re-experiencing the emotions evoked from the movie Schindler’s List.

each time I re-witness scenes of the Holocaust, or read a book describing events of that time in history, I find myself in an emotional state of extreme sorrow where the tears are overflowing, and the tears are so necessary, as if to release all of the (remembered?) horror.

did I live through this?

is that possible?

did we all live through this?

did we all create that experience?

An interesting analogy by Alan Watts about the past:

He likens it to a boat on a lake (The Present) and the wake behind the boat (The Past). The moving water behind the boat does NOT create the boat. It’s just the opposite. The boat (the Present) creates the wake (the Past)

The Present creates the Past

So the past only can exist in the present. Our memories of the Past occur only in the present, and that is what informs our present (and future).

That’s where this innate human quality of compassion comes in. A feeling that is Real and Exists in the Present. And is imperative for the truth of Love to exist in the present moment.

My teacher, Adyashanti, expresses it so exquisitely:

“On a human level, it’s really useful — not just to know, but to feel — that that part of your being that is unconditioned has no problem with your humanity. It’s really important for the humanity to feel that, because that’s what it’s looking for — something in the universe that’s not judging it, condemning it, or even praising it.”

“Dualistic consciousness is also a manifestation of the ultimate ground. There’s no part of us that’s apart or other — even though there are different qualities and different experiences — there is no apartness. It’s so important to let yourself experience that. Because to receive that in the human heart feels like love.”

“Compassion is selfless love. It is what gives all of our other impulses balance. It is why, from the level of consciousness, we can be self-interested and rightly so — and simultaneously — have these very selfless impulses. This is all part of our nature.”

“Compassion literally comes from the ultimate ground because compassion is that feeling that: I will do something for someone even if it is not in my self-interest.”

“Compassion is actually quite a common occurrence in human beings. You don’t have to look very far for it — that feeling that you love something or someone in such a way that your sense of your own well-being is transcended.”

 

what do you value?

I inherited the wild outdoor cats when I purchased my house in PA.

The cats are wild in the sense that they survive outdoors in the natural world, but also domesticated through being fed regularly by the previous home owners and now by myself.

I’ve adopted them, Mama, Goldie, and their vagabond sister, Clone, who comes and goes at her whim. Mama and Goldie never leave the property. This is their home.

I am always in awe of Goldie’s obvious behavior of caring and loving attention to her aging Mama (Calico cat in photo)

She watches for her, allows her to run first for the food dish, and always cleans her head for her.

Mama has been wheezing since I first met her. I’ve tried homeopathic remedies to help ease any congestion, but trust that she will survive as she is meant to.

My contemplation today was, ‘Will Goldie mourn mama’s death?’

Or do Goldie and mama have access to an understanding of what death really is on a deeper level than humans have access to?

I found the following writing helpful on the contemplative practices around life and death:

“Deepening our understanding of death can radically affect how we live life. Priorities can change and we may not have as much of an investment in an imagined future—perhaps less accumulation of things; perhaps less of an obsession with unattainable security; perhaps less of a preoccupation with “becoming someone,” not so much living for the “future,” because there isn’t one. Is it possible to have fulfillment in this moment?

To learn how to die is also to learn how to live.

Death can serve as a “coach,” encouraging us to live completely in the present, with more confidence and less fear. When we shine the light of death on the yearning for power, fame, and money, they tend to lose of some of their magnetic pull. In the case of vipassana yogis this can mean a dramatic strengthening of the commitment to wholeheartedly engage in practice.

The contemplation of death has helped to take me through the “ups and downs” of practice—it can be an effective antidote to periods of mental dullness. We don’t have forever! Whatever our condition, whatever time and situation we find ourselves in—ideal for practice!

When I get caught in pettiness or resentment towards others, remembering to turn towards thoughts of death, usually restores the mind to balance.

In a dharma talk, Ajahn Maha Boowa told us about a forest monk in Thailand who found himself face to face with a tiger. He was able to manage his fear, and avoid being attacked, by reflecting on how he and the tiger were comrades in birth, old age, sickness and death. His fear was replaced by deep compassion. They observed each other carefully for a few moments, and the tiger walked away.

The message of our impending death can of course have a rather different outcome. An obviously dejected person approached me once after a talk on maranasati. He was disappointed in himself, wanting to drop everything for the dharma—but actually preferring sex, drugs and rock-and-roll!

What do we really value? Why were we born?

In brief, without being mindful of death, whatever Dharma practices you take up will be merely superficial. -Yogi Milarepa

Excerpt from: Shining the Light of Death on Life: Maranasati Meditation (Part I)
Larry Rosenberg, Spring 1994