ananda

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism):

The Four Types of Bliss (ānanda) are part of the Sixteen Aspects (ṣoḍaśākārā) of Gnosis (jñāna) in terms of conventional reality.

  1. the bliss of the mind (cittānanda),
  2. the bliss of the body (kāyānanda),
  3. the bliss of speech (vāg-ānanda),
  4. the bliss of gnosis (jāñānanda).

Google Books: The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual

Ananda is a Sanskrit word I learned about back in the day when studied with my teacher, Gail, for my initial yoga teacher training. I understood the word to mean Pure Joy or Bliss or Absolute Happiness.

The word, Ananda, was first introduced to me in the context of Sat Chit Ananda (Truth, Consciousness, Bliss), a Sanskrit expression of the Absolute state of Being – or even the word God could be fitting.

When my friend, Nancy, shared this photo with me this morning, it was this word, Ananda, that I decided was the perfect description for the expression the dogs were exuding in the moment.

How serendipitous to receive this photo today, a very trying day, a day that called upon all of my yogic awareness to recall Ananda’s absolute presence through all of life’s challenges.

I awoke to a new and unusual pain in my chest, upon each breath, a pressure behind my right chest wall. I thought, Oh, this is interesting. What could this be now?

Today being chemo treatment #5 day, I would ready myself for the long drive. Although the pain lessened with each hour, my husband reaffirmed the importance of telling my oncologist about this new pain development.

Unfortunately, the Oncologist said a CAT scan would be necessary to rule out a potential blood clot, only as a precautionary measure.

Off we went to the hospital, for a STAT scan reading, a CAT scan with Contrast.

Yikes, Contrast? Although I was warned by the technician exactly what I would “feel” with the contrast, I was not prepared for the actual experience.

“Okay, it’s going to go fast” she warned, “you’ll feel hot, taste metal in your mouth, and feel like you’re urinating, but you’re not. You may get nauseous or vomit.”

Oh, how delightful, I thought, as I tensed every muscle in my body awaiting the surge. (This was after she stabbed me several times before finding a vein).

Now comes the hot surge. My imagination went haywire. Hot lava is being pushed into my heart, I’m going to explode from the inside out, this is going to fucking kill me, I thought. I winced at the foul metallic taste in my mouth, and panicked as the imaginary hot piss poured down my legs.

Fuck, calm down, I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be okay, I’m going to be okay. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. I tried to convince myself.

Then, the picture. I imagined the picture. I conjured the image of those dog expressions in my mind. I remembered the idea, Ananda. Quite remarkably, my awareness shifted. I knew I would be okay. I said the words, “I AM OKAY“.

And, of course, I was okay. But it could have gone so much worse had I let my imagination take me down the path of doom.

Later, the technician gave me the news, “It’s negative.”

Thank you, Nancy and Gary. You and your beloved dogs carried me through the day.

Photo Credit: Nancy and Gary Mahon

the thief in the night

Of the many dreams I’ve recorded in my journals, this one is the most unforgettable, disturbingly real, frightful, and misunderstood.

Why am I compelled to blog about this now, on this day, six years later?

I don’t know …….

But here goes:

It is the evening of March 28, 2013. I am attending a 7-day Silent Retreat at The Garrison Institute, in Garrison, NY. Once a Capuchin monastery, and at one time inhabited solely by Wappinger Nation of Native Americans, it remains a profoundly sacred site.

This retreat was facilitated by my guru, Adyashanti, an American born spiritual teacher of Zen Buddhist lineage; however, he remains unaffiliated with any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, remaining true and open to what is found within all of us.

My week-long lodging is a third floor room which is shared with a lovely young woman named Nicole. We meet and greet on arrival, and remain silent for the remainder of the week.

Our shared room consists of two single beds on opposite walls, a sink, small desk, chair, and a window with very small closet space.

The schedule for the retreat is rigorous. With 6 daily 40-minute meditation hall sessions, meals in the dining hall with 300 attendees (in total silence), and regular evening dharma talks given by Adya.

It’s the time of year around traditional Easter and Passover celebrations, and Adya’s talks for the retreat is titled: “Jesus, The Revolutionary Mystic”.

So it’s day 3 of the retreat. The evening dharma talk ends. Lights out at 10 pm sharp. I’m tossing and turning in the starchy white sheets.

Lying there, I am unexpectedly aware of a HUGE PRESENCE in the room. This presence FILLS THE ENTIRE ROOM.

Immediately, I’m overcome with a sense of PRIMAL FEAR.

I am aware of two GIANT HANDS gathering and pulling on the sheets.

I am PARALYZED in FEAR. I sense the hands are going to take hold of me.

The sheets are quickly being wrapped around me, encasing me like a mummy.

The two GIANT HANDS slide beneath my now mummified body and LIFT my physical body out of the bed. I’m held up at the ceiling in the corner of the room, wrapped up tightly in the sheet, facing down into the room.

From my aerial view, I witness my roommate in her bed sleeping.

I make desperate attempts to SCREAM to my roommate,

HELP ME PLEASE …. HELP ME PLEASE ….. WHY ARE YOU NOT HELPING ME?

But I have NO VOICE, just guttural sounds come out of my mouth.

I am unaware how I’m placed back in my bed. But I fall into a DREAMING sleep. In the sleep dream, I’m alone in the room. I go outside into the hall and ask a woman, “What happened to Domenica?”. I am referring to my roommate who is missing from her bed. The woman responds, “She had to leave the room because she couldn’t sleep with all the noise.”

I awoke at 5 o’clock AM, fully aware and remembering the TERROR I experienced. Of note, my roommate is still in her bed sleeping.

I rise to find my way into the dimly lit silent hallway, into the bathroom stall, and proceed to sob uncontrollably. Deep wailing, like I’d lost a child.

When I was able to compose myself, I was still too terrified to return to my bedroom, so I ventured into the hallway Sitting Room. There I was able to make myself a hot cup of tea to ease my still trembling body. I was accompanied by a lone gentleman, and in silence I felt consoled and safe simply by his tall, gentle presence. A bald, slim, over 6-foot tall gentle giant. I will never forget his calming presence.

I was finally able to compose myself after the 7:30 AM meditation sitting. However, I remained haunted by this experience throughout the entire retreat.

At retreat end, when silence broke, my roommate and I embraced. She explained to me that my cries that night were terrifying to her, and she was tempted to assist me, but she had the intuitive wisdom to know that whatever it was that I was experiencing was necessary, and that she should not intervene.

I have contemplated many interpretations for this lucid dream/astral projection/out of body experience/God-knows-whatever it was ……..

My present understanding rests in the simple fact that our physical existence in this material world is a mere copy of REALITY observing Itself.

But we’ve lost the knowledge of REALITY.

So when we’re about to confront IT (reality), which was the purpose of the retreat, the primal gut reaction is FEAR.

Perhaps, as our human Being spiritually matures, the fear lessens?

Apparently, I was not ready 6 years ago.

Maybe I’m getting closer……….

photo: The Perth Mummy, Takherheb

The Earth is Alive (a pre-surgery rant)

To remain astonished about LIFE, allow what appears ridiculous to make sense

what appears IMPOSSIBLE to have potential REALITY

Look at something as though you’ve never seen it before

Really LOOK

Pull yourself OUT of your compulsivity of conditioned thought patterns

Ask yourself constantly ‘What are you AFRAID OF????

I re-visited the Knowledge about FRACTALS in Nature, and binge-watched Mudfossil University videos (You Tube).

I became re-ASTONISHED about Earth/Human Potential Reality.

And I watched the Netflix documentary: Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Andy Kaufman.

LAUGHED out loud, CRIED too

Did DEEP ASANA work – wheel and shoulderstand, and forward folds with LONG YIN holds

And after all of that …….. honestly ……. I’m still full of CRAP pretending that I’m not scared and feeling uneasy about surgery

I don’t even love my breasts (pretty damn saggy!)

But I’m conditioned to believe they’re a part of me??

When the breast fascia/tissue is (ectomied) removed from my living body cells

will it become petrified rock?

Like the ancient Giants in the Aborigine dream worlds?

Or just dissolve into the abyss and meet up with me after this blip of life seemingly ends?

I PRAY to SEE the UNSEEN Truth in my anesthetized state, and come back to TELL.

Links below for amazement and enjoyment:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/why-fractals-are-so-soothing/514520/