Sleeping with the Buddha

So, back in the day, 1991 or 1992, I was ensconced in seminary at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  I was raising my niece who was ten at the time basically as a single parent.  I was working at least half-time and taking huge credit loads at school.  I was exhausted, and over-stimulated.

I was studying Buddhism from some excellent teachers, as well as Christianity.

It was the time that “Northern Exposure” was being aired and I enjoyed it tremendously–it was like a breath of what life might be like outside of the rat race I was in.  So when I had the following dream, it was not surprising, but has given me pause many times since then. I was 36 when I had the dream.

Here then, is the dream.  I’m in a bar, much like The Brick from Northern Exposure; it is a bar in Alaska somewhere.  There are many locals, and it’s dark and cozy there.  I’m at the bar, when a reprobate-looking native man walks in, obviously drunk.  The locals all scorn him and turn their backs.  He is with a pretty dark-haired young woman—maybe 17 or 18 years of age, with long straight hair.  I instantly know that he is the Buddha and I am stunned by the locals’ disrespect.  They consider him the town drunk.  I struggle with my conflict for a bit–try to get several of the people around me to understand who he really is–that he is incognito.  They will have nothing of it.   I buy the Buddha and his consort a drink and then they go up a steep narrow stairway to the attic and are obviously going to lay down, perchance to sleep.  My conflict continues, but soon I overcome it and also go up the dark stairs and find them lying, spooning, with the Buddha’s back to me.  I immediately lie down behind him and spoon with him, as he spoons with the young woman.  I go to sleep.

That’s the dream, and it has haunted me. I’ve asked myself many questions about it. Like why would I have any conflict at all–if he was the Buddha and I knew it, no matter what he looked like, why would I just not get up on the bar if I had to and say it?  What is the significance of the young dark haired woman?

And then today, as I’m lying in bed with a head cold, I read a Hafiz poem that shed some light on this dream, all these years later.

Among Strong Men

My soul is like a young doe-eyed maid with lips still bruised from last night’s divine passion.  But my Master makes me live like a humble servant when any king would trade his throne for the splendor my eye can see.

Call it many things, give your desires polite names if you must; mask the primal instinct from your reality if you cannot bear that sacred edge that will hone your ken against the sun and earth.

Among strong men in the Tavern I can speak a truth no one will laugh at: My heart is like a wild alley cat in heat;

In every possible way we conspire to know Freedom and Love.

Forget about the common reason, Hafiz, for it only enslaves–there is something holy deep inside of you that is so ardent and awake

The needs to lie down naked next to God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is what I need. That is what I needed those some 20 years ago.  I keep looking for God to show up and lie down next to me.  It is an act of faith to finally see ‘that sacred edge’ that is the invisible dividing line between God and God’s Created Universe.  And an even bigger act of devotion to move past all my ego-inspired inhibitions and lie myself down square in the middle of that naked Love.

 

Morning Facebook Meditations

It’s not a typical meditation.

I wake up in the morning and do a regular meditation with coffee.  And then I get on my Facebook page.  I often struggle with myself because I can spend a precious hour of my morning floating around the world of FB.  But when I really look at what I’m doing, it fits within the parameters of part of my meditative practice.

Spirituality to me is about connections–to myself, to those (human and non-human) who are beloved to me and to the larger world/universe.  As I move around the FB matrix I am connecting in all those ways. Very personal ways with close friends. More generalized ways with other friends.  Finding new friends who seem to have similar interests and perspectives.  Reading about those who don’t view the world the way I do.  Watching the universe through the Hubble and other big-picture pages.  Connecting, laughing, crying and generally feeling like the world is a bigger place than I have yet dreamed.

An amazing documentary about a Japanese teacher who works with 4th graders teaching them real life skills…such as empathy, bringing it into the heart of their community. (click to open site)

I am an active ‘Facebooker’.  I post lots of things that I find interesting or provocative.  I respond to those same things.  I lurk a bit, but not very much.

If I only did a FB Meditation, I would be remiss in tending to the deeper connections I crave to my interior world.  But if I only did the interior world, at least in this place and space of my spiritual development, my world would be smaller, less rich, less surprisingly mysterious.

Maybe I’m fooling myself–I have an advanced degree in that.  But it feels like my truth that FB helps keep me connected, vibrantly, sometimes soberly.

So I’ll continue this practice until it no longer serves me.  Which may happen tomorrow…

“What is kind” a prayerpoem by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

WHAT IS KIND

a rain that could, but does not, tear … the tender leaf… the maker of roads who stamps down hard on the gravel bed, to make it so the camber of road will hold and be safe for travelers at high speed… the hand drawn back but then dropped to one’s side… helpless with sudden knowing… the sight of suffering being more moving than being ‘right’… standing out of the way to let the passion of barbed wire words pass… listening for a moment to the bird who cries the same cry over and over… laying the electricity of one’s hand on a weeping body, re-routing the sorrow-circuitry for this time… walking with… gently walking with… lightly walking with… oneself, one’s most brutalized self walking with gently walking with lightly walking with others as uninvited guest at the wedding of one… holder of ceremony at gravesites and births, witness to growth with praiseful out loud notice… maker of music in tone of voice, in instrument, the ONLY sound-sinew that soul can mend with… hands for the rowing out, back and bones and blood for the rowing in… coyote often passes by fat little lambs, only taking what is needed… black mother goose protects all eight eggs, not just one… the swelling ocean, most often, only comes this far, and no farther, time after time… a person bends to clear the way for the ant struggling with the green burden of leaf…. a soul remains near so their loving voice will be the last voice heard…. hail recedes, even after damage… the old soul creeps out to bow and repair… the cloth will wear itself through before it stops protecting its person from weather… There is only one way to fund unkindness [that is, to forget that most souls carry the heart of a child forever...]; But/and, there are ten billion ways to be kind. As we learn, hard rock learn, to see, more and more, We cannot help but win; It is so rare that ‘a sure thing’ exists in our world, but as you see… the ways of kindness, by numbers alone, are definitively, irrevocably undeniably, on our side. So may it be for thee. So may it be for me. So may it be for us all. Aymen Aymen Aymen [and a little woman] And with love, dr.e

excerpt from prayerpoem, “What is Kind” from The Contemplari manuscript by
CP Estés ©2000, all rights reserved

Resolving Trauma and the 4th Wave of Psychotherapy

Part of the work I’ve been doing while not writing (!) has been working with EMDR    (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) a body-centered healing modality on spiritual and emotional trauma received in childhood.  So after years of many types of healing,  I’ve been doing the work of the 3rd wave of psychotherapy outlined in the article mentioned here.

From post on Beyond Awakening, from interview with Dr. Peter Levine:

During our dialog Peter remarked that in the same way we are programed to pick up on and experience fear and threat from each other’s nervous systems, we are also programmed to experience peace. I suggested to Peter that within the context of the driving inquiry of Beyond Awakening—that is, how can a living spiritual practice enable human beings to create more enlightened responses to the global crisis of our time—his work offers a model of how to integrate mind, emotion and instinct as a basis for a fully-embodied spirituality. This model gives us the ability to show up as a more functional being, one who is operating less as a reaction to unresolved trauma, and more able to respond appropriately to experience, even sometimes unwinding trauma in our own bodies, communities and world.

Read the entire article here and listen to the very interesting podcast.  I’m ready for the 4th wave…

My new traveling companion


Dutch on my bed, first morning of our lives together November 11, 2012

Dutch, a two year old female husky/wolf mix joined my family this week.  We are still getting used to each other, for sure.  But her sweetness, willingness to please, high intelligence and general presence are great blessings already!  She will be my companion and ‘familiar’ for awhile and I am so glad to welcome her!  I am co-parenting Dutch with her “Other Mother” who will be away at university and living her young life–but we will connect over love and care for this beautiful creature!

Below is photo of Geronimo, a beloved wolf/husky that graced us for four years with his wisdom, kindness and witness, moving to the other side of the veil in January 2012.


Geronimo 2009

 

To the heart* of it all

Under the Grandmother Birch Tree

I have not written for a long time.  My life has required my full attention, not writing about it.  But it seems that I’m coming to a space where I can again begin to process it through writing.  The best way for me is to write some poetry and see if that makes any sense.

Longing for deep heart companionship
I lost it.

Finding myself in the lostness
I again am finding companionship
Of a new tribe.

This tribe includes humans as well as
The non-human world.

I find my solace and challenge
In the galaxies
Which I visit regularly.

These galaxies are not limited to stars
But include ant colonies, flower petals
my own blood cells.

Solace is found in friendship
My soft bed
Netflix
Tea, just right.

Working at my jobs
Sitting with my spiritual companions
I find myself drawn ever more deeply
Into the mystery of connections
On a cellular level.

Time has passed.
I  am not the woman I was six months ago.
I am more vulnerable.
I am stronger.
I am less fearful.
I am grateful for all the helpers who have guided me through this passage,
this canal.

I am less inclined to think about how I am.

Days turn into weeks.
Green turns into red and yellow.
Plantar fasciitis
Turns into gift of the gods.

The medicine wheel walks me.
I do nothing but walk it
In my sleep and my waking.

Those states are mingled now.
I love more freely.
Grieve less.
Smile with more compassion.

It’s the journey of a lifetime.

Was it a dark night of the soul?
I hesitate to call it that, as it seems too grand.
But it was dark, and it was night, and my soul was being called forth.
So onward to the heart of it all.*

My deepest prayer is to be a more prepared, profound savvy traveling companion for all who wander these paths.

Aho.

*A few years back I had a dream in which I followed my beloved dog Josh into the heart of a huge red Madrone tree and disappeared into the earth…

See Paris First

 

Grandson, Edan, open to the whole world...

This poem has been speaking to me since I first heard it in January 2012. 

I hope you find it honoring or your path…and if perchance, you’d like me to be the one that whispers “See Paris first” to you, let me know!

Fearing Paris
     —Marsha Truman Cooper

Suppose that what you fear

could be trapped

and held in Paris.

Then you would have

the courage to go

everywhere in the world.

All the directions of the compass

open to you,

except the degrees east or west

of true north

that lead to Paris.


Still, you wouldn’t dare

put your toes

smack dab on the city limit line.

You’re not really willing

to stand on a mountainside,

miles away,

and watch the Paris lights

come up at night.


Just to be on the safe side

you decide to stay completely

out of France.

But then the danger

seems too close

even to those boundaries,

and you feel

the timid part of you

covering the whole globe again.


You need the kind of friend

who learns your secret and says,

“See Paris First.”

Skin filled with goodness

“God’s goodness, however, is everlasting, and is comparably nearer to us than our very flesh.

Last year a story about my grandmother’s near death experience was published in ‘Real Women, Real Wisdom’.  A dear friend sent me this quote today and it, from a Christian mystic who lived in the 1300′s.  It says exactly what my grandmother’s experience was…that our cellular structure is made of the stuff of stars…God’s goodness.

For those who want to read more about  my grandmother’s story, here’s the link

Real Women, Real Wisdom

For the interim: Refine my heart

Today my spiritual director sent me this poem after spending time talking with her about my current emotional state.  She is helping me find what might be akin to new ground to stand on as all the old ground has shifted–nothing about who I thought I was is the same as it was just three short and interminably long months ago. 

While this constellation of events is extremely distressing, it is the fertile place for transformation of some very old ways of experiencing the world.  My fears of abandonment, stemming from ancient childhood wounds, are being brought to light in unexpected ways so that I can walk through them with my eyes wide open and my heart, trembling-as-she-goes, can experience me, as just me.

 “Refine my heart,” my soul cries with all the strength she has.

For all of us who are struggling, I post this poem.  I hope it lights your way, even if just a tad.

 

For the interim time

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you.

The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

from: “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. Pub in 2008 by Doubleday.

 

What I should have said

I have not had any mo-jo for blogging for a long time.  I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of processing, but internally and in private. Something happened today that spurred me to write and process here, out in the world.

I pulled out of my driveway onto a busy street here in Bend.  I stopped at the stoplight in front of my house, turning left.  I was looking down at my cellphone and didn’t see the left arrow immediately, but turned in plenty of time to make the light and noticed a large white late model pick up behind me, gunning on my tail as I moved down the next block.  At the first stop sign, I pulled up and the truck pulled up next to me, and the man, probably early 40′s, maybe a little younger was yelling at me.  “Hey lady, you don’t know how to drive.”  I pulled up so I could be even with his window, even though in my little Suzuki I was sitting about, oh, 10 feet lower than his truck.  He said a couple other things about my driving, and then said, ‘You suck at driving, you old bitch.”

Something rose up in me, some sort of anger at his hubris.  I said, without a moment’s hesitation, “And you suck at being a good human being.”  He turned left, fuming and I drove on my way.  I was glad I stood up for myself, and felt sad for his anger.

As I processed the incident this evening,  I wish I’d done something else.  I wish I’d said, “Hey, why don’t you pull over up ahead and we can talk about this.”  I was not physically afraid of him–I’m in good shape. Out of his large truck he would have been ashamed to yell at me and call me names.  If I’d had my wits about me and had asked him for a dialogue, and he’d accepted (a lot of ‘ifs’, for sure) I would have talked to him about respect and honoring.  I would have asked him a real question like “What gives any human the right to assume that another human doesn’t know how to do something just because they aren’t exhibiting that skill in the moment?”  “If I talked to someone you love that way, would you think it appropriate?”  In other words, I could have exhibited some tough love for this emotionally young man who was out of control and not appropriate. And if that worked, I’d try some more love.

So the truth was, I don’t suck at driving and he doesn’t suck at being a good human being.  Neither of us were maybe exhibiting our skills in those particular areas at the moment, but I believe we both have them.

At a workshop Andy and I attended over the weekend with Sobonfu Some, a Prosperity Ritual at Breitenbush Hotsprings, Sobonfu talked about how she ‘tortures’ people by loving  them until they can barely stand it, and/or they give in to the power of love.

In retrospect, I could have engaged that man until he begged for mercy, or got back in his big white truck and drove away, shaking his head at the crazies in this town.  I wish I’d tortured him with love.

Ah, another missed opportunity for loving.