Monday, December 20, 2010


I have been quiet, lately, but it's been necessary.

Today, I just want to offer an excerpt from Joy Harjo's "Eagle Poem":

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.

Peace and blessings to you all! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

About That Distant Star...

...I am the light by which I see.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Once I Was a Jellyfish

The calendar year is sprinting to the finish line. Winter is blowing in off the Pacific. I am glad, because I need to turn in and do some interior maintenance, and the weather exactly creates the mood, the conditions, the search in this warm-blooded creature for some deep descending.

The last few seasons in the consensus world have been especially trying, for myself and literally everyone I know; the intensive changes in the Earth that a medicine woman storied out for me, years ago, are also in the human body and mind, underway and with exponentially increasing spikes of activity. I can see this from my "quiet place", as if I am somehow apart from it all. But I am not, we are not, and allowing all this energy to be itself is of the utmost importance.

Feelings of anger and fear are necessary for survival in the physical sense, so that we have the biological ability to defend against an actual attacker--some hurtling body with exposed teeth and claws, for instance. But chronic, ingrained fight-or-flight is something else, entirely--a habitual invisibility cloak that only blinds the wearer, or a shield with spikes turned inward. I have great personal experience with these methods of self-torture. Most people do, these days.

We don't really want to needlessly harm ourselves or anyone else, because it isn't efficient or healthy for the larger body that we, like cells, are members of. But this is what happens when we refuse to be aware of the flow of thought and feeling through us, and when, if we do become aware, we ignore or deny it. We are all incredibly sensitive creatures; insensitivity has to be "built up", reinforced and maintained. It actually takes a tremendous amount of energy to constantly keep our inner selves in a nascent, unexpressed state. Depression is the result, the last signal that serious attending is required. Not just attention, but attending, conscious participation, receivership and expression.

Becoming conscious requires spending contemplative time with the body, heart and mind, deliberately inviting the vast inner world to speak. Underneath the reactionary "reasons" for chronic anger-fear is a place where these emotions are doing their good work. We simply misinterpret the feelings as "negative"...understandable, since an unacknowledged emotion must twist itself into greater and greater knots, until it becomes huge in our field of feeling--huge enough that it can get our attention.

The best metaphor I can think of for what these feelings are at the "root" is a kind of clear, permeable container...a temporary boundary that is deliberately drawn, giving enough "space" to step back, back, back, through all the defensive masks we wear, falling deeper into and beyond all the layers we collect over the heart of ourselves, until we feel clearly from that place. Only from Heart are we experiencing the real origins of the symptoms of dis-ease. Anger and fear aren't brittle, negative, attacking entities at this depth--they are flexible skins in which to pause and be still. They allow us to consider how far down we want to go, and from which perspective we want to live in a world full of potential.

Imagine a reactionary human trying to stay afloat on the surface of Reality, which is like a winter sea of stormy change. Something with big teeth ate the surfboard. Tread water, fight the waves, look around for stuff to hang on to--this is life on the surface for a person who forgets that they are the ocean! Eventually, one is tired and terrified of drowning, feeling terrifically vulnerable to unseen forces, and incredibly angry at almost everything. This is the time to stop flailing, to allow the sinking, the pull of gravity into that scary unknown. Anger keeps you warm until you stop holding your breath, and fear keeps you alert as you descend. They are invisible definitions between this-feeling-here and all-that-out-there, including the surface that you can now gaze up into...where you view the patterns of rolling waves from underneath, which are somehow more organized, coherent, and beautiful from this angle...

Now, as many of us have discovered, you can breathe underwater. Your emotions abruptly shift into incredulity. How is it that a body can do this?! Everyone said that drowning was to be avoided, that it really hurt, that it leads to the Great Blackness...well. There is a great blackness--you can sense it beneath you. There is a feeling of pain, akin to the harsh release of what's known, mental and physical structure falling away. And you can stop your descent, right here. You can choose to live here, just below the blowing foam, still in the rough, familiar light of the outside world. You can even go back and forth, take trips to the surface on good days, duck below during storms. This is called coping, and is a good, natural skill to have.

Or...drop down a little more. Anger is gone, and only fear remains. The fear is basic and instinctual and part of being identified as a human being. There are great shadows down there, large unknown moving things, things that might be hungry for you, things that might be terribly different from what you feel yourself to be. All our nightmares and shadows are based on our perception of these bottomless realms. 

Perhaps one day, you just drift down...far enough that day fails you. But you find, to your amazement, that somehow you can see without light. amazing that fear is somehow absorbing away, like the skin which, a little deeper still, you no longer need...because you can feel without that, too. 

Some of us may find ourselves in the belly of a whale, spat back up onto dry land. Some may be persistent and patient enough to become nothing but an artifact on the bottom of the sea, and then all times, places and creatures...because truly, underneath this tale, that is what we are. Life is a story much deeper than this, told by a Self we will never understand, but must trust...and once you begin, you can never un-remember.  Arguing with reality, whether in the form of a storm, a death, an earthquake or a wave of unexpected bliss, is exhausting and unnecessarily fragmenting. We all have a sort of trajectory to the bottom/top, and there comes a point where one must simply become it.

There is no distance, then, between who we were and what we are going to be, really. The thin membrane of fear is already gone, an angel-jellyfish within our depths. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open Selfishness

I was speaking to a counselor, recently, about that "flow" humans fall into when they are engaged in something enjoyable and mildly challenging (see the works of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for formal info). We all recognize it, I think...that state of forgetting oneself and all the cares of our worlds in the immediate task at hand, whatever it is. When I paint, garden or give my complete attention to something, I literally "become" the feeling, motion and whatever is present, whatever I am concentrating on. It's a narrowing of focus that does away with any sensation of separateness, of distinction between subject and object. Some call this "peak experience"--especially when the challenge is great and adrenaline is high.

But what about the mundane, the ordinary, the unpleasant-but-necessary "parts" of life? For some of us, this is ninety-nine percent of it. We look forward to those peak experiences, whatever they may be for us, or to habitual "escapes" like TV, internet, gaming, and so forth, where we are passively entertained and/or seriously addicted to something--anything--that keeps us unconscious. This isn't an active participation in the full range of being; it's a kind of avoidance. These common pastimes aren't inherently bad in any way. Using them as a narcotic isn't morally wrong, either. But it is akin to keeping a freedom-loving creature in a tiny box, blinded, deafened and unprepared for inevitable reality.

The "inevitable" is frightening for some. I understand this. It was for me, once, because I associated it with pain. Fortunately, I love life more than my own fear. Just that simple thing, allowed to grow, became something intensely beautiful.

People say that the difficulty lies in maintaining a state of being that is as fresh, open and "unstuck" as it is in those times when we are more in tune, in that flow, unselfconsciously participating and engaged. How many times can we drive the same freeway, clean the same bathroom, look at the same people without switching over to "autopilot"? Once we are familiar with a task, routine or sense of self, it gets old. It's just how it is. Right?
No. The difficulty lies in letting go of the lines and templates we project over life, the ideas about what we are doing, the stories around the tasks that allow us to believe that we are in control of what we are. Those get old, because we use them to prop up--or indeed, create--a sense of self. It's shallow, thinner than watered-down gruel and completely ineffective as a "container" for the real size of our lives, which needs no maintenance at all.

Learning the groove, developing ritual or routine is not a problem. It's what allows us to evolve and expand, the same way that learning to ride a bike opens the door to a different reality, where we can feel the wind created by our own effort and cooperation with natural forces (as a natural force), without having to constantly wonder if we're balancing correctly. Familiarity is good. But are you really "familiar" with yourself? Are we ever?

Not entirely, and that is good news. Embrace that fact, and I embrace my own potential. Deny it, and I deny the full scope of meaning available to me. Meaning has everything to do with the quality of total health and thus, life.

Focusing intently on a task erases the mental "overlay" of ideas and language around myself. So does attending deeply to this physical/mental/emotional reference point, at rest, in action, in debate. Something completely slippery and mysterious does this attending, is present at every opening and closing. This "space" is anything but familiar, because I cannot conceptualize it. When I come to rest in it (even going ninety miles an hour), I find that all the elements of self-and-world are contained in this reference point, and therefore it has no place, time, or boundary. Oh, and it is writing this, right now, and reading this, right now. It is the only stable, changeless thing in a constant state of change.

Have you ever walked a familiar path so many times that you believe you could navigate it blindfolded and with one leg tied behind your back? Me, too. I am familiar with a few of these--nature walks, mostly, thoroughly loved and traveled, seen in every possible light...except one. The light I speak of is like a pause in conceptualization, in mapping, that reveals the incredible nature of the experience Maria+World=This, reduced to a brilliant One that is also Zero. It feels somewhat like being an alien on a new planet that is absolutely suited to this particular lifeform, and therefore Home, but a home never "owned". It's an open Self that is absolutely mine, not in any partitioned way. And it is full of divinely brilliant things, gateways into more Self, stretching endlessly out there and contained absolutely right here.

This feels somewhat different than forgetting oneself in service to a pleasurable task, because the main quality of feeling is more intense than neutral, happy or contented. It is more a blissful gratitude with a strong sense of childlike awe in the mix...almost painful, in a way, when it is fully allowed. I'm convinced that is what we actually are, but that we dial this joy down for many reasons. It is an available option that requires some willingness to risk feeling vulnerable, just like jumping off a fifty-foot bridge into deep water. And once the jump is made, what becomes familiar is the lack of structure, the feeling of falling, the consciousness brought to the fact that "I" am no longer in control. Something we cannot hang on to is leaping, with a light that is dark as long as we use our pale, virtual version to define the contours of our heights and depths.

This powerful dimension of Self is behind the most common, ordinary things (which, from this perspective, are so unique as to be anything but common). A tedious and clumsy way of expressing this is to say that you are never the same person from moment to moment, and your world is never the same world, but you mentally structure being so that an illusion of continuity is present. Things feel solid, you remember your name, you know where you live. It is just as true that you are numinous, completely open and have no name or address. Nothing dies or is born in the world, and everything you encounter already exists within you as a source of constant amazement. You never get used to anything, and nothing is stuck anywhere. But such a "view" is not validated much, because our languages, sciences and educational systems still can't see to the bottom. This will always be true for systems that insist there is a "bottom" to this ocean. How can there be, when those very depths create shallows on the other end of whatever arbitrary scale we use?

It is not "practical" to be (at this point) quite as immersed in gorgeous reality as some of us could be, simply because it is not socially acceptable, generally speaking. In some places, it frightens authority figures to the point that they will lock a body up. Perhaps it will always be thus...perhaps it always has been. I look around and see more and more intrepid explorers, though, setting out on adventures to the sky and the center of the Earth, with no agenda except to live and love thoroughly. In this way, we flower fully...over and over, still, hearts exposed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Practical Joy of Shifting

Ever feel like nothing but a dysfunctional lump of meat? Me, too. This morning, for instance. Right now, in fact.

Ok...let's get into it. I am tired, since I haven't been sleeping well (broken ankle, still hurting). I have a cold. There exists a tremendous amount of interior painting, moving furniture, accumulated junk to get rid of, and many, many other things to get done within the next couple of weeks. My physical energy level is very low. I have been dreaming apocalyptically, and I wish I wouldn't.

That's not all, but I'm already sick of bitching. :)

Occasionally, I write long, stream-of-consciousness rants in my journal, full of anguish and pain and conflicting solutions to all my apparent problems. When I was a kid, I used to believe that I was "working things out" on paper, logically addressing my emotional distress. Now that I'm a bigger kid, I realize that I am simply directing a muddy stream of energy to a "safe" place. It doesn't really matter what I say--just that I say it, even with the full knowledge that it's just so much bluster and blah, blah, blah.

Depression and angst are not resolved with logic. Problem-solving is best used for extremely practical purposes, such as putting on a sweater when it's cold, or filling the belly when it's hungry. No amount of mental talk or structuring will fill a hole in the soul or open a heart that has been "damaged". Mental review of strings of painful images will not prevent pain. Neither will avoidance and denial.

There is a larger, more inclusive "language" to use for healing purposes, in which conflicts are actually met in the source and resistance is allowed to be the effective and necessary energy that it is. (That overused word energy is probably still the best metaphor for this fluidly shifting, morphing, mental/physical/emotional field that we actually are.) Maturation, deeper self-awareness and authenticity are the natural fruit of attending to and allowing the motion of energy--in other words, developing an awareness of yourself as a rolling wave in a vast ocean, each informing the other, working together as a silent whole. Not just a poetic, intellectual awareness--I'm talking about a visceral, unsterilized recognition of the invocation and evocation of This. All of it.

Energy is just another inadequate description of a certain spacetime-friction that literally blasts this dream into being in every moment. I can't point to it as a phenomenon apart from myself, or even as a quality of being--it is Being, a situation we wordlessly recognize (and often try to valve down). To "get close to it" is to awaken powerfully creative forces that we don't always agree with. Depending upon the social or religious indoctrination forming the walls of my mental structures, I might be shocked or dismayed to find (for instance) that I am God, and that God is far more lusty, playful and spontaneous than could ever be imagined. Or that God sometimes appears as a hopelessly dysfunctional human thought. Or that, really, I can say "dodecahedron" instead of "God", and mean exactly the same movement.

It seems that a deep awareness of the motion of energy is also a huge invitation to "get involved". Getting involved is a willingness to be "in the flow" and out of denial, out of cookie-cutter descriptions for what is happening in the moment, and out of ways to fight shadows or contain the uncontainable. What this feels like, in our world, is a kind of passionate dance with both the great tides and minor swirls and splashes that make up our ocean; what it often looks like are spontaneous eruptions of not-always-sensible (according to social mores) behavior.

When I say "spontaneous behavior", I'm not talking about unleashing, say, anger upon yourself, fellow beings or environment, which is a sure sign of ignorance (ignoring reality). Deep attending is exactly the reverse of the surface emotional reactivity we are so accustomed to. Deep attending means following an impulse past fear or desire, all the way down to the energetic level where it originates...this sounds terribly esoteric, but is in fact a moment of introspection, in which an impulse is felt in the physical, mental and emotional body...felt thoroughly and allowed to unfold before action. Unnecessary violence is never efficient or practical for an energy flow. When we respond in "fight-or-flight" to a situation in which all that stress is not actually needed or helpful, we know, even blinded by emotion. The body knows, the heart knows, and eventually will make all of you understand, even if your physicality must be brought down, locked up or otherwise frozen long enough to allow an opportunity to really see. See? Finally, shift can happen.

I'm talking about answering a calling, large or small, that bubbles up through our multilayered egos and presents as an irresistible "touching" of something significant, an authentic contact with wisdom-imbued "otherness" just there, in the moment. It may arise as a response to some difficulty, or for no apparent reason at all. What is actually happening is a moment of non-interference, when all of our selves are out to lunch or tired or exposed as repetitive and ineffective.

I might, for instance, be seemingly plagued with thoughts of financial stress, trying to apply math and logic that involve everything but printing up some cash (with a big heart on it, perhaps?), in an attempt to take care of business and still be "solvent". Suddenly, I become aware of my worried thoughts and feelings of helplessness...I follow them down, and a "solution", a different impulse will arise that requires me to drop everything, turn on some music with a definite beat, and stomp out a rhythmic circle on the floor until I know I'm finished. I may see or feel things that have nothing to do with money, but are somehow dissolving that sad and angry dam in my heart. I could be "led" to a further action, perhaps painting a story out of my vision, which later sells for enough cash to take the edge off...or (as is usually the case), I just stomp to the very bottom of my ocean, where such problems simply don't exist and abundance is what I am.

Another example: I am almost at the end of my day, in full power-down mode, leaning toward sleep. Someone walks by with a cookie. I want one, too. I don't need it; I'm not hungry, but a powerful craving for the sweetness strikes. I know very well that cookies and I don't agree, and result in a gastrointestinal brawl, but oh...yum! 

Now, I can argue with myself in that way we do when faced with a want that goes against a necessary restriction...I can reason with myself or beat myself up or get angry for even focusing so intently on a mere lump of glutenous sugar and fat. I can go into endless explorations around why I want a cookie when what I really want is "love"--etc., etc.; or, I can fall along the impulse raw, underneath the mental/emotional gunk, to a place where it is very clear and simple. I close my eyes and "see" it for what it is--a beautiful little being in itself, multicolored, non-threatening much less sticky than I would have guessed. It's there, before me, and I watch it make its way along to wherever it's going. Nothing needs to be done about it; in fact, action, either for or against a cookie, has nothing to do with this little creature. This is clear--so clear, that I could paint a portrait of it, and call it "Negative Cookie", or some other catchy title. It is far more fascinating than arguments over diet, and I go to bed thinking of art.

These callings are, of course, otherwise known as instinct or intuition--a wordless knowing by the entire energy field of just what to do and how to care for my little whirlpool (and by extension, the whirlpools around me). This level of care is entirely non-defensive and flexible. I've given up trying to figure it out so that it "makes sense" within my story or culture--it's better to just go with it, whatever "it" is doing. It leads me often into beautiful, technicolor visions and interesting physical sensations, walks, or vocal expressions, accompanied by "direct" knowing of whatever it is I'm looking into. What I'm sensing in those moments is a "hidden" order of being, a wider self with vastly expanded creativity and perception. My typical inner speech tumbles into a puddle of wordless gratitude and a kind of awe. If a human wanders too close, he or she is likely to be seriously hugged, mauled with lots of eye-contact, and have their confusion blessed thoroughly...after which, Maria flies off, giggling to herself. Alas, this is the real me!

In just the time it took to write thus far, I have moved from being a pessimistic and defensive animal into a more openhearted space, in which I am grateful for actually being a body with feelings and thoughts and memory, painful or otherwise. Energy shifts. We could help it along by giving ourselves and others permission to be real. We could really help it along if we took a good long look at human culture in general, and the tendency to give ourselves any excuse to get together (even self-to-Self) and have a good time. Energy shifts faster when there is a multiple of us enjoying the moment deeply...with music and dancing, with rhythmic chanting, with the percussion of running, with engagement in the flow around and within us.

I am reminded of a concert I attended last summer in which a huge variety of people checked their routines at the gates of the venue. Many wore colorful clothing that would cause too much sensation on an average street, and brought toys, food and various kinds of consciousness-altering things to share with each other. There was a long period of settling in and adjusting frequencies and saying Hi to the neighbors...then the musicians (shamans) came out on stage and began to weave magic with their lights and sounds. Within a song or two, the audience-organism was up and dancing, every unique wiggle part of the whole gorgeous scene, an ocean swaying and waving in delight. It's a people-watching orgy, for animals like myself...some folks closed their eyes and went in, while others focused on group silliness. People sang off-key, danced like fools, and called down the moon. We were in a space and time that could be called "sacred", in which we had permission to be more naked, more raw, more creative than what we could be during a typical, corporate-owned day.

A man in front of me turned around in his enthusiasm, at one point, and said joyously, "Oh my god! Do you hear that? This is where it's at! I love you!!"  He gave me a bear hug, laughing, and I laughed back, "I love you, too!" He was a total stranger, in love with the moment, having an epiphany that I couldn't see with my eyes, but felt like the ring of a bell. The pool of energy changed and moved with the tempo of the music, with the stage of the journey we were all agreeing to. It could have been ten thousand years ago, or hence--this is a human-animal energy that gets "sublimated" to the point of insanity in a culture that insists upon mediocrity, conformity and total obedience. It's also a Universal energy that is content to be expressed for no particular reason that we can see, in a moment of birdsong or otter play or belly-laugh. When this motion of energy is felt at the "bottom" of experience, each little blossoming hold a kind of joy--even the motion of "repressing". 

The universe is delighted to be. How do I know? I am. Even when I am "negative", I am.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Influence

Recently, I was looking up music on YouTube, and came across a little video that someone had made for a particular song. I don't remember which song, exactly; I do remember it was well-done and somewhat "psychedelic" in nature...lots of shifting colors and morphing shapes, in and out of changing scenery. It was quite beautiful. At one point, a little beating squiggle--the pulse of the tune--began flying through mountains and valleys. Fantastic...and as it represented the ebb and flow, it subtly affected the scenery it floated through, maintaining a kind of individuality while quite obviously being enmeshed in the landscape. Ahhhh.

It's difficult to describe the feeling, the understanding I became while watching this swatch of art. I recognized it instantly, and like other brief scenes in the story of my life, it wordlessly spun me into bliss. Yes--bliss, as in an upwelling, encompassing recognition of Home, complete with a full-body chill and an inner sweeping wave of happiness, partially borne of the fact that I was suddenly a silent verb in a universal language. I loved, loved, loved the fact that I was here, in the moment!

This kind of ecstasy is a powerful energy, with so many emotions involved that it's pointless to attempt to analyze it (thank god!). It rolls through like a big wave, simultaneously peace-giving and dance-seeking. There's only one thing to do: Give in. I might laugh, smile, cry, all of the above. I might go big-eyed, awestruck and childlike. I might be alone or in company, and the trigger may be light, sound, taste, touch or scent...eventually, there is an utter synthesis of these things, lasting seconds or hours.

What it leaves behind is a feeling of gratitude, and the deeper I get into a laundry-list kind of day, the more I realize that it's an indicator of human potential--like a high-water mark for the tides. Anyone choosing to stay "in the world" has to negotiate and navigate, and must create a slew of opposing forces to "get things done". The memory of such peak experience is not, however, just in the brain, but in the entire being, beyond skin and calendars and artificial boundaries. The memory is always gigantic, and "recorded" in a many-layered fashion. Somehow, it echoes through all the refuse I haul around in my head, and keeps it in its proper perspective...which is why I wish I could bottle this bliss and add it to the general water supply. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Defining Nothing

An absolute simplicity exists that I cannot experience as an "I", pointing to and defining myself as something apart from the world. With that first split--me/other--the complex dream begins. Plots thicken, chapters are committed to memory, and endless subplots are revealed. Next thing I know, I'm a character in a story, which, if it is to have any consistency, I must react to and behave in. Crazy, huh? And quite painful, if I forget my origins, because all my complex elements share a common characteristic, just this side of utter stillness--they ceaselessly shift and morph, devolve and evolve.

All this motion and change happens in "spacetime", sometimes patterned and sometimes chaotic...or so it seems. It can be overwhelming to a consciousness which believes it is somehow apart from experience, and is trying to follow and "make sense" of it all. A natural response is to attempt a withdrawal...take the body away from the story, run to a monastery, shut down the senses, numb the emotion. I say such a reaction is "natural" in the sense that every "thing" seeks (and springs from) a point of balance or rest, no matter what the physics. The "water" in the body, mind and spirit must be allowed to find its own level, at some point, undisturbed by fight-or-flight. Formal meditation is one way to relax and let go. (A good meditation period might be better described as a "mediation"--that is, placing any sense of conflict into the relaxed hands of neutrality, and resting.) Any activity, though, which involves doing something for its own sake is a way to rest, even when the energy output is high. "Resting" is simply dropping the sense of identity for a time.

The ability to let go of the typical sense of identity is crucial to a sense of peace in the surface world. I don't mistake a Facebook profile for an actual human being; ironically, at this point in my story, neither can I believe that I am "an actual human being". I've seen the other side of the truth, and thus understand that my identity can shift from acting as an insignificant iota in a meaningless universe, to utter inclusion of all in a boundless Self. These are, you see, exactly the same. There is nothing I can really do to escape what I really am--nothing I have to do, nothing to prove, nothing to reach. What is beyond language holds hands with the tiny self of garnered fact. In daily life, this a kind of refuge; in deep peace, all need is gone--even for wholeness. Not because I am wholeness, but because I am nothing. No-thing.

Monday, September 27, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I encountered a gopher hole in a field with my left foot, resulting in serious injury to my ankle. My usual activity has been curtailed, to say the least; I have been alternately bored, frustrated, and happily under the influence of mild narcotics.  :)

Sometimes, it takes more than a little love-pat from our Universal Larger Self to wake me up (again, some more) to the bigger picture around pain, illness and other varieties of hardship. Even in the midst of suffering, clarity and spacious freedom are at the heart of it all. The necessary downtime has done what downtime is famous for--given me the space to more deeply attend to whatever the experience of the moment happens to be. (My bathtub and I have a much closer relationship...nothing like relaxing in warm water to bring out relevant insight, ideas, and the natural gratitude that follows!)

Paying attention for extended periods is nothing more than meditation-in-action. Some call it "mindfulness", though it strikes me more as "openness", a stripping-away of the usual murk we travel in until we become a simple clarity, an original and unidentified Awareness. It seems easy, partially floating in a porcelain womb, to see the extent of my habitual stories and reflex thrashings. It is not so easy to release them, even when I know I must, even when the angel of the world is telling me that the quality of my life depends on it.

Recently, I followed the pain in my ankle to pain in my heart and soul. Ahhh. Limp-dance with me on this little journey from my journal:

I was trying to just be with the physical pain, not fight it or run from it...I kept thinking of my old relationship with R., for some reason. I was imagining a conversation I wanted to have with him that would explain to both of us why he closed himself up (seemingly forever). I thought of questions I would ask, and his potential responses--and I realized that no matter which way he responded, it would hurt. I would hurt!

I turned my inner face away in disgust at this line of thinking and feeling...Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep hurting myself? I've done all these mental gymnastics before...I've asked this same question thousands of times!

Some inner demon insisted that I ask these questions of R. (again), in spite of the fact that it was pointless and painful and would hurt both of us. I was suddenly very alert to, and curious about, this impulse--not the story it was playing in, or why it existed, but the impulse ITSELF. I wondered if I could just drop this urge to mentally and emotionally probe a wound with a hot knife...and the response was ferocious and instant! If the 'demon' had a voice, it would have roared, "No! Do not let me go!!"

Wow. Holy cows and chickens! I was seeing, very clearly, an addiction to pain, which is suffering-in-action Not just in this particular instance--but as this little story (which is a kind of recurring theme in my life). In other words, the addiction--the knee-jerk impulse--exists by itself as a kind of pattern in the psyche, and is always looking for expression. But there I was, able to observe it as "not me", even while feeling its full anger and fear. In my heart and mind, I stood my ground.

There was an internal earthquake, and a falling-away feeling, and a few moments of panic in which I heard myself say, "Oh, God, what am I without this?" It was exquisitely clear that this suffering was a huge chunk of identity, and that I didn't know how or what I would do without it. (It is a very on-edge feeling, in which a true compassion arises for those labeled "insane"--seems like an empathic view!) 

I could feel it wrapping my heart up...and I let it go...talking to my head...I let it go...reasoning with my story...I let it go...shouting righteously...and I let it go. In that moment, it was like smoke, like falling leaves, like ripples on the water. I opened my eyes clean, pure, raw. Primary emotion? Gratitude.

Interestingly enough, the pain in my ankle completely disappeared for an entire day. It has since returned, but not in the same is sore, to be sure, but I can feel it healing. As far as what I am without this...well, imagine the most simple, original kind of Being--no clothing, no masks, and an inability to wear them without laughing--and a feeling of intimacy with a direct current that resembles joy. Imagine catching yourself at the beginning of spinning complexity, and having the choice to continue, change, stop, investigate or do away with the idea of a self to have a choice.

Imagine healing that stems from and targets body, heart and mind...mine, yours, ours. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


In my mornings, there is always an interior fire, somewhere, as if prehistoric DNA must make its rough voice heard. So even in the middle of summer, living in a house with electric heat, I carry a potential blaze around in my head and heart, as if the coals were right there. I'll just stir it up, add a few pieces of wood, grab my coffee and shuffle around it. Eventually, I'll warm up enough to dance. Maybe even sing...look out! Desi-i-i-i-i-i-re!

We all have it, and some people think it is the root of all evil. Learn to want what you have, they say. Accept what is, and stop chasing phantoms. Yes, yes. No, no. (Hey, that's a nice rhythm...a tiny double-hop on one foot, a tiny double-hop on the with me!)

When the world is a story we tell ourselves, there are many levels and types of desire, all connected to people, places and things that we don't seem to have. There are biological desires for food, warmth, shelter and companionship, and beyond that, the desire for more and better. Some say that "drive" makes the world go round. I say the world goes round by itself, drive or no drive. But I can't argue the fact that desire is a creative urge, one which can be either liberating or enslaving.

Desire is sticky, and often seems like a problem that somehow must be solved. Desire can be torturous when we think that it all boils down to wanting the right things, versus the wrong ones. We want to be good and not bad, safe, not sorry, admired, not avoided. Perversely, we sometimes seem to want stuff that is not necessarily good for us, socially acceptable, or attainable. In fact, we often seem to want things that put us in direct conflict with "reality", whatever that is.

On the psychological surface, every desire is tangled up with our ideas of personal security (safety), sensation (an imaginary place where world meets senses) and power (freedom). We want out of any kind of pain...and not just into neutrality, either--that gets boring, after a while.

Pretending we are a victim of some desirous force, we see ourselves as Point A trying to reach Point B, whereupon we will somehow become C (complete), happy and satisfied. In other words, we will be in some state of personal perfection--loved and loving, grounded and grounding, balanced and balancing...or simply high and free and unfettered. Preferably both. We shine the intense light of desire outward, across the landscape we believe is apart from us, and see the terrain we must negotiate in order to get to our personal Holy Grail.

In light of this common situation, how can desire be liberating? Why is that longing, that hunger, never completely satisfied? We feed it again and again, and it remains restless--in some cases, crossing a line into addiction, where we feel as though we are a helpless slave to a ravenous demon. At this point, no amount of pacifying or rationalizing seems to matter. We are emotionally, chemically and intellectually dependent. Some kind of intervention seems necessary, and may or may not be helpful.

Sitting down with the fire and turning the light of desire upon itself, rather than focusing upon the shadows "out there", I find the source of heat and light right here--not as a conclusion to a story that could be, or the end result of some action, but in the simple, visceral sensation of being. Not being alive, or dead--just Being. There is no real name for this all-inclusive fact, and nothing to be done about it.

I don't have to fuel this fire with anything special. I see that it continues, that it is, without adding or subtracting. There is a leap and stretch that I've been told is always toward or away from "something else"--as if such a motion had to have at its source a starvation, a lust for power, or a fear of what comes behind or if dancing is always for mating or establishing territory.

I notice that the reaching outward, the seeming hunger and thirst for those things that are rare or habitual, novel or comforting, can be an attempt to find and fix some kind of permanent identity, a self-situation that will not change, that will not be eaten up like dry tinder on an endless mission to keep things aflame. But the Love, here, is not something that needs to be fed. Hey! Love is not something that needs to be fed!

Love, by its very nature, is a self-replicating situation, throwing out endless, delightful sparks that can be followed, in a circular fashion, back to their Origin. Mistaking an ember of myself as something I need in order to be complete, I dance away from that circle of light, reveling in the fact that I am free to do just that, that I can dream of music and colors and tastes that I know exist in the kaleidoscope of reality, just beyond my reach, forgetting that it is the reaching that builds my own terrain...and that spark takes on a life of its own in the growing darkness.

It seems to beckon with promised warmth as the chill descends. I begin to believe that it is apart from me, really apart, lodged in a person, place or thing, waiting for me to capture it, consume it and make it part of me, so that I may find myself in it! In that little light, I feel my journey's looks, smells, and feels like home.

After a while, I don't remember where I began or why; the journey is long, indeed, and I am a wounded character in a history of my own making, on an epic quest to catch that falling star. I have hands that are scarred, a heart that is broken and guts that are far too sensitive. I am terribly attracted to shiny things, and when I see a reflection in a piece of shattered glass, I believe that I am looking at a real representation of Who I Am. Oh, the longing, the bargaining that I do, the sacrificing, the running! I give up, something breaks, I run out of resources...and then there is a scent on the breeze, a glimmer in the distance, a phantom bell...and I must go. Perhaps with a new name, a different companion, a better reason...

When the ember I grasp dies in my closed fist, or falls to the ground as a wasted piece of ash before I can even touch it, I stand there in disappointment and consternation. Within that grief is a stirring, a tugging at the woolly world I've buried myself in, if only I would stop long enough to heed it! The pull is always there, just on the edge of my blindness as a golden side to the dark.

I have an opportunity to rest, relax, open the boundary of my skin and the false horizons of my mind, come out of this difficult nightmare into a place of awareness. One day, I take it. I surrender, I listen with my whole self. The totality flutters awake like a newborn eye, and everything I see is a dream; everything I see is myself, dreaming. Most important, I feel myself as Home, as the invisible condition, where each mysterious surface reflects my own light.

This is the place, I realize, where it can be no other way. And this is the place where desire becomes a place of true power...a motion to be enjoyed purely for its own sake. Imagination, then, is not a cruel reminder of what is not. Imagination was never meant to is a realm in which we paint, pray, play, and personalize the absolutely lavish equality we are all possessed of. I am making this world, imaging every second, out of the deep no-thing. Energy bounds from here to there and back again, never really having moved out of its own heart...knowing this (like a lover) unfolds and unbinds imagination, lets me understand its language and instruction as it presents reality for my viewing pleasure.

God, you know, is seeing and unfolding Herself on multiple levels, all for fun, joy, and just be-cause. How could I have ever imagined myself cold, impoverished and lost? How could I have dreamed so much pain? Well--for fun, joy, and to be cause...and effect. There is a certain primary thrill in Being, even when it hurts. When I follow the fire down through the organs and memories and anticipations, down past the ideas of physical, mental or spiritual, past everything I think I know, I inevitably find primal bliss. It is not mature, calm or sacrosanct; neither is it insane or selfish. It is, rather, the feeling behind feeling--a flame that can expand into enveloping sight, be narrowed into a penetrating, laser focus, and become a kiln for the vessel of compassion. It does these things not at my command or behest, but in accordance with a pattern in an order far, far larger than any false idol I might make of myself.

Oh, but what S/H/Me can do! Gratitude, for the lights, sounds and colors...for the touch of your hands, for the easing of my pain. You know who we are!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I Don't Mind...

...But I do!

As much as I "mind"--that is, think, process, filter and sift everything that seems to come in or go out of this organism, I might as well be mind, if you define it as a critical and/or analytical tearing-apart of the whole.

All well and good. Such activity keeps me intelligently hungry and curious, and prevents me from naively swallowing poisonous concepts passing for wisdom in the tabloid-like stories of the world (Here, drink this! It gots electrolytes!). It adds a certain dryness to the sense of humor, a touch of alert discrimination when gazing through the looking-glass of the moment. In "negative" territory, it emerges as cynicism...a defensive response learned long ago, being selectively disarmed to this day. :)

I was initially exposed to the "art of no-mind" through dabbling in various martial-art systems; shortly thereafter, I read about the Zen concept of "beginner's mind" (Shoshin). Both descriptions point toward a more open approach to living (and fighting, if necessary), involving a lack of preconception and the willingness to view each moment with fresh eyes, as if for the first time. Of course, my younger, steel-trap head caught the gist of the idea right away. However, the deeper implications of such an attitude are still unfolding now--and will fortunately continue to do so, I suspect, for all aspects of Maria living in spacetime.

If I sketched out a descriptive graph of my shifting perspective, it would show a recent huge spike, a drastic jump in energy, and massively increased quake activity in this region of understanding. It sounds dramatic in my story, doesn't it? It is. While the giant Can Opener of Life was busy tearing me open and tipping me over, I didn't argue much, this time. I simply went with it, and watched the contents of my carefully parsed knowledge go the way of all things. Over the ridge and into a rainbow mist went the adventurous child. Bye!

Well. Now that's emptiness, and a whole bunch of mixed metaphors. :) 
Don't get me wrong--intellectually, I know there are layers within layers of psyche to be uncovered and explored. As long as I want information, I will find it. The no-mind situation is more a refusal to hold on to conclusions past their life-span, more than anything else; they come, and they go. They arise, but don't seem to stick. They are like a string that, as many times as I tie it around itself, always pulls tight, knot-free. How can this be? I don't know.

("I don't know" used to be a rather fearful state of mind, now it's almost joyful...woohoo! I don't know!!)

Amazingly, I haven't lost my mental edge, emotional intelligence or physical balance. I think the difference lies in the fact that I don't get stuck in these things. I don't identify with them as much. I feel myself, but I don't feel myself to be any state. Today, for instance, I was driving, watching the countryside pass through me, listening to thoughts leap into existence. I was thinking about attachment to sick babies, ex-lovers, helpless animals, and the like; for a minute I relived various kinds of suffering associated with having a big heart, easily attached. Then I laughed. Here I am, in a universe so Teflon-like that I can grasp absolutely nothing as it whizzes through my experience faster than light--and, at the same time, so flypaper-sticky that I can't pry myself out of my own context--and everything is my own context!

Tell me, who gets attached to what? I don't know! One must be unattached to attach, and vice versa. I find myself as a universe containing the universe that obeys steel-trap this space, Maria can stomp all over ideas and memories that seem to have lost their hair-trigger springs. Nothing happens...nothing scary, anyway.

Catch me if you can!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

That Spark

Now might be midlife, or at the very end, or in a new beginning.
I suspect it's all of the above.

In the middle of events large and small, registering on my personal scale like tiny wobbles or major earthquakes, I contemplate how I want to experience this humanity. I have no illusions, anymore, of control. No matter how much knowledge my "worldly" self has accumulated, or how open I think I am to change, life does what it does. No point in making other plans!

So there is joy and freedom, pain and loss, all the states in-between. But I like to define, if only for my own amusement, what I am attracted to, what works for me, what sort of north star I can create to act as a kind of guide. I am aware of my totality...but life on Earth is a gift, much more than some kind of trial-and-error, hard-knock education! It's full of juice, verve, and fascinating facets. It's like a gargantuan box of magnetic refrigerator poetry...maybe an endlessly flexible plot generator. It isn't a condition one must endure--it's an adventure!

Amidst all this marvelous stimuli, there are powerful things that draw my eye, my ear, my heart, my attention...and they all seem to have an extra vitality, a flowing energy, in common. This is a human condition--we prefer what is obviously "alive" to what we feel is "dead". Beyond what our biology may dictate, however, there exists a certain "spark", a musical feel, a texture of welcome in certain people, places and things. It isn't necessarily youth, socially-sanctioned beauty or history-approved quality that I'm speaking of, either. There may be an air of relaxed energy in a neighborhood that appeals to my curiosity, or the color vibration in a painting, or an intelligent, answering curiosity in a pair of eyes. It's difficult to pin the attraction to any fixed formula or combination of elements.

The inevitable result of such contact is a heightened awareness which reaches for more and more detail, while a simple and joyous space opens up to make room for good things. Engagement brings quality to the fore, somehow...all the good things in life that have always been free, as a matter of fact!

Vitality is not necessarily "actualized" in people with money, perfect health, long memories or white teeth. I have seen vitality bloom in terminally ill patients when they cease to identify with their disease; I have heard it deepen the voice of someone declaring her personal passion. I have even felt the vitality in granite come across in long, slow waves, like an ancient echo. I had to be there, though, immersed, experiencing...not collecting "experiences" to save in a file, somewhere--not trying to shore up some shaky idea of who or what I might be, or what I should be doing, instead.

In order to contact that spark, I must be willing to swim in the bloodstream of life, even when approaching a powerfully beating heart at breakneck speed! In other words, I must put my typical opinions and judgments aside, and risk becoming part of what I experience, whether by gentle meld or head-on collision...I must allow it to color me, take away some of my lines, reconstruct my thinking, and touch me in places I didn't even know I had.

This seems to nourish and deepen whatever the energy is that I am at the core, adding to my own life-force in an almost magical way, allowing me to perceive (that's right!) even more vitality. The concept of entropy seems to have no hold in such a vital universe, except as a kind of holy (still vital) mess. The deeper I go, the more Living I am. The more this aware-ing energy expands, the more radiance is apparent in even the dead, the plastic, and the over-used. Crazy as it may sound, we can kill this planet and ourselves in a blaze of utter stupidity, but we can't kill its vital source. For the life of me, I don't know how I came to this conclusion, but it seems to resemble a fountain of youth and eternal optimism in the center of my very soul. (I am so grateful!)

I am not denying the fact that I can look around this big stage and find the attempted squelching--almost everywhere, it seems--of emotional intelligence, creativity for the highest good, and loving genius by those humans who feel terribly threatened by the potential loss of imaginary control. Nevertheless, beauty continues to run rampant through the hearts and minds of a healthy underground--a really big (possibly growing) sector of humanity, even within war-torn places and violated forms. These people are balanced realists who understand that the Light carries at least as much weight as the Dark, with the added advantage of understanding the Force which supports both. It's automatically a beautiful vision, and an unceasing principle for those who have fallen in love with Being, no matter what the outcome may be. Hopeless romancers of Bliss, sneaky peacemongers and dedicated liberators of Mind will always be out there, fouling the long-term plans of the creativity-impoverished (and egomaniacal dictators). Whatever evil collective is in fashion cannot "absorb" these vital, bright spirits!

That which is so deeply alive as to be Life Itself is perennially "outside" our common understanding. Still, it can be "accessed through" experience in which it "speaks" to the heart like a wordless language, by direct communication. I have to trust, extend my hand, adopt an attitude of willingness that arises immediately out of the admission of the inherent limitations of my personality, my ego. It's as if I must acknowledge the most fumbling of selves in order to talk to the Self of Grace. In so doing, we instantly recognize each other as the Beloved. Sparks fly, indeed...just as they do in curiosity's gaze, seeing Itself in another.

I acknowledge that touch, today. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Give It Up

Posted throughout the not-so-hallowed halls of memory are gold-plated admonitions to "let go and let God", "sacrifice and surrender", "offer up your life in service", and similar spiritual maxims aimed at gaining a "higher" sort of understanding.

None of these bits of advice ever sounded like much fun to the sensitive, rebel child within. She gets her feathers ruffled quite easily, you see, but is also charming, a bit roguish, and admirably brave--like a female stowaway on a pirate ship in a romance novel. :)  She is a wonderful underground spy for the Resistance (pick your cause), and has made a career out of being a sort of "devil's advocate". Drawn as she may be to Big Love, a life of service smells like the starch in the old school uniforms, and sounds like a bunch of hard, puritanical work--maybe even a type of authoritarian control psychology aimed at the hapless masses. (No, thanks. I have my own way of serving, and it doesn't involve passive cheek-turning. So, there!)

As is often the case with such spitfires, however, she can be very lost and deeply depressed. So much underground energy goes into wandering the valleys of Emotionally Burning Questions that she often finds herself burnt-out and washed-up somewhere, imagining all of life as meaningless and herself as pointless (and you thought all of this stuff vanished with adolescence!).

Lately, I've been hanging out with the redheaded nomad (I? I, who? Don't ask!), due to the realization that she is someone I can never entirely disown, in spite of the fact that she is high-strung and very, very difficult. I confess that I haven't respected her point of view, and this disrespect is akin to abandonment--which immediately brings out the most un-charming aspects of this facet of the Great Diamond, resulting in a fight. Sigh. I hate fights.

All summer long, I have been collapsing back into myself--all "parts" of self--and have found her company again and again. During an episode of deep depression, I heard her say sadly, "I don't know how to love, really."

An instant protest arose, but before I could give it voice, I paused. This sounded less like self-pity and more like a truth...and was odd, coming from such an egotist. After a moment's consideration, I agreed.  Of course she didn't know how to love...not by herself, not so alone! All she knew was how to separate, discriminate and consider all things in the light of her own interest. Real love was not in her job description.

This simple admission sent me spinning into a vortex of insight. It was not my task to fight with, change, teach, or otherwise attempt to alter these legends of my own mind. I was only to see and feel them (and everything else) exactly as they were, and then...

(Before I go any deeper into this little story, let me clarify the "I" that I am speaking from. During these times when I am "being with" my deepest feelings and thoughts in an attempt to understand some kind of inner turmoil or excitement, I tend to step back and away--more, more, into a very fine and observant self--perhaps the barest feeling of "I" that is known. Instead of declaring, I listen; this is the point where I feel like a gate between opposites, a transition space--that liminal place I have often tried to describe.)

I felt my little rebellious and tired identity fade away, and suddenly I began to coalesce around "letting go". The words just appeared, along with a tide of information. I fell into it, allowing it to flow.

I could tell you that I saw God...but that wouldn't be entirely true. I did, however, sense an epic Presence within and without. Part me, part impossible to be, considering that It was the source of Being, all of it, and can therefore never be subject to scrutiny! Slippery character, this God/dess. 

Anyhow, I intimately understood this Unselfish Self for a moment, and saw that we humans "cheat" our Most High, our Spacious Lovingness, when we hang on so tightly to experience in our bullheaded, unconscious way. I don't care if you think of God/dess as an actual deity, perhaps on a different plane of existence, or simply as your highest and wisest self...either way, there is a circular, rhythmic movement to the whole process of manifestation, in which the mysteriously sacred is necessary. All things arise from no-thing, and return to the no-thing--all sensual and extrasensory events. This goes on whether we feel it, or not--but when we consciously and lucidly offer up experience to That which we cannot, a hugely charged energy appears. It's almost as if a circuit is completed when we observe Vast Openness accepting, without question and with the utmost alacrity, whatever it is that we are feeling, doing and being in the moment.

Did I just suggest offering something up in service to...Whatever S/He Is? Yes, I believe I did. Denying our wholeness is insane; denying our individuality is also insane. Lest this sounds like crawling on one's knees down a gravel road, let me assure you that giving the moment over in this way is more like cosmic sex. There is a vast difference between whatever myself-in-the-moment is and the Three-Hundred-Sixty-Degree Light; realizing this, opening my hands, a conscious unity occurs...impossible to sleep through!

When I'm in the dark depths of an argument with my mouthy inner gypsy, I believe that I'm trying to get rid of her--actually, I'm tying her to me with any loose string I can find. I am identifying with this character and her dramas and perceived flaws, effectively damming off that lovely give and take of the Tao--the very give/take which adds a deep breath of life, and so much dimension and interest that no identity can hold it. But when I catch myself arguing, resisting and dictating, the very recognition is a letting-go, a releasing back into the river of Being.

Somehow, the awareness of this lightning-fast letting-go is what allows experience to be full and complete.

It's almost as if (dare I say it?) the Absolute "needs" completion, needs "me" to be transparent and freely offering of everything that comes via Maria, in order to be whole. Otherwise, God stays distant and unfulfilled. Experience is not thorough, but seems partial, trapped in a whirlpool or eddy that I can only call a sleeping self. From a point of pure observation, that self is an illusion, a clenched knot that can never understand knots.

I don't feel the entirety of myself as long as part of me is hanging on, trying to make rising and falling experience "me". And the longer I stall, the more frozen and cramped I become. In a sense, I've been trying to "protect" my interesting characters, keep them still, somehow, in time and space, fearing their demise, on some level. But sacrificing my crazy child, letting Universe take care of her, somehow brings her a newly balanced kind of life, in which her fiery nature is appreciated for what it is...destructive, sometimes, but only in the interest of a greater good that she will be eternally unaware of.

Perhaps it's the religious varnishing and hard, wooden-pew feel of "dedicating" or "devoting" that disguises its incredibly practical and downright sensual nature. Relaxing into all aspects of what I am is an ongoing project, the most worthy one I can imagine. 

All these thoughts are meaningless, you know, except as gifts back...with my thanks!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fertile Lucidity

There's an old, fruitful, bumper-sticker saying: "Question Reality."

Being a frequent lucid dreamer (dating back to the era of said bumper-sticker, or young childhood), I really get this, man! :)


There are times when I am so "awake" in a dream that my physical awakening is experienced as another part of the dream. When this sort of boundary-blurring happens often enough, one really can't pin the "self" exclusively to a name, address or occupation in Anytown, USA, planet Earth. There is just so much more going on, here! Dream-worlds (as in the previous post) become as relevant as "consensus" reality to learning, growth and understanding. Consciousness is naturally examined--what is this "me" that seems to be the only consistent space in this multiverse? Why, upon thorough examination, even during "unconscious" periods, does a clear, endless potential for Everything still exist?

After a while, even though there remains an obvious, sane, logical distinction between things like imagination, dreams, and normal waking life, there is also an admission (sometimes grudging) that a deep and undivided unity exists here, now, everywhere, everytime. In the primal language I use when talking to myself, I simplify and do away with terms like "dream world" as opposed to "real world" experience. There is no difference between the two, actually. (Yes, I realize this heresy can still get me institutionalized, or at least shunned. It used to be such a deep fear, that I had myself professionally evaluated and declared "rational", several times!)

Paradox gets more and more comfortable, and the idea of oneself more and more flexible. Far as I can tell, this is a never-ending process to the curious. Simultaneously, a bottomless, open kind of gravity is revealed as the only real thing...a thingless thing, a boundless situation. I say "gravity", because it resembles a great pull, a call, a falling-in-love, a waking through the thick sludge of confusion into the realization that, hey, I am here to participate in this dream! That's what my hands, feet and vital organs are for, as well as the much-practiced daily mind, and all the thought, memory, judgment, observation, vision, feeling, embroidering and deconstructing going on within, without and beside the Super Condensed Endlessness that I am. Hiding in a miserable corner is like trying to stifle God/ess's heartbeat.

(Did I ever think that I could love this One Life and its infinite facets from a place of "safety"? Really? Did I ever imagine that this education would be easy--that I would get to always respect myself, my actions and the good intentions of my parents, cultivate an unquestionably wholesome image, and be the 24/7 dispensary of aid to the needy? Huh. How silly.)  :)

These days, I seem to be running on a new frequency that appeared, meteor-like, in my summer sky. A kind of meditation lights up out of nowhere to find me, regardless of my schedule for the morning or evening. It's a no-nonsense consciousness-altering that demands I sit down right now, shut up, and give myself over to the falling-up kind of gravity that clears the way to the Real. It is almost never convenient, and I can't plan it. Nor can I argue with it anymore. Resistance isn't just futile--it's egoistic pettiness, because these extremely lucid sessions answer longtime, pressing questions about why I compulsively act or feel in certain ways, what these feelings and events mean in the context of my storied life, and how I should handle them practically when they arise.

Not only that--I am thrown into a swirl of symbolic images and memories to consider, both painful and benign--as well as being fed (literally) a stream of bliss that seems to pour down through the center of my body until I am absolutely alight with gratitude. Interestingly, as beautiful as the rapture is, it's no more significant than the memory of my forehead meeting the corner of a coffee-table when I was nine, or the anticipation of my own physical death. They are all highly lovable features of this landscape, to which I am both incredibly attached and, somehow, immune. Paradox, again.

The "point" of all this seems to be (still, and even more) the increasingly visceral sensation of utter clarity that both outlines and inlines any feature of any dream. I am astonished at its depth--rather, I become a kind of awe that breathes. I am not capable, in that "place", of calling this seemingly dumb and self-destructive mortal coil inferior to a "meditative state", or spiritual bliss, or even an actualized human. There is no hierarchy--just equal differentiation, an endless spectrum of points in the great web to emphasize in the service of creation.

Emphasize, I must; create friction, I do...because the other end of myself is absolute peace, silence, absence of presence--perfect shadow to anticipation, music, the growing of structure. Admitting the union of these two is a sublime occupation, consistently fulfilling. Certainly not boring.

A friend told me, yesterday, that I should devote my time to being a "Traveling Muse" (in exchange for chickens, butter, art supplies or whatever else I need). What a lovely, poetic thing! What fun! I could point out different kinds of meaning for someone to mutate into their own perfection--and I could do it through much more than the written word--you know, essential, experiential things like walking, eye contact, tasting the wild, experimental dancing, drawing pictures in windblown sand creativity.

Does that seem impractical? Like some weird dream?
Feel again! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I asked to see my subterranean self--the ancient one, the essential part that carries the smell of toadstools, the feel of old leather and scratchy wool, and somehow reminds me of things like the antique, green-bound, scarily-illustrated copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales that I read with terrified fascination when I was a child.

One thought, the decision, and there I was, craning my neck to look into the black eyes of the guardians of my underworld. There were two of them--tall, slender, immensely strong. They were colored like the earth, stretched like the stone pillar behind them. I was standing at a branch in an artery, looking down two veins filled with darkness.

I was instantly afraid. The tall beings smirked. "What do you want?"

I knew they knew why I had come here, but there was some kind of protocol to follow. "I want to see this," I said. "I came here to look at this world."

They laughed outright. "Go away. You are a mere novice! You aren't ready for this."  They looked knowingly at each other, and threateningly at me. I mustered all the defiance I could. There was some anger mixed in with the papery fear.

"I'm not leaving." I would have crossed my arms, if I found them.

These sentries obviously considered me to be a scathing upstart of the worst kind; still, they seemed to admire my stubbornness, on some level. The one on the left--the elder, by my reckoning--finally gestured toward the right-hand tunnel (with...a spear? Sheesh!). "You think you're ready for this? Fine. Go ahead. We warned you!"

I felt myself moving down into the darkness, followed by mocking laughter. No one told me that this would be so difficult!

I expected monsters, scaly creatures, weird things with sharp teeth. Instead, I found a kind of carnival scene, and a stage illuminated with colored lights. Masked and costumed performers came out to sing, mime, juggle and ride unicycles, by turns and together in a confusing kind of play. All at once, a woman appeared in trashy Burlesque, singing a bawdy tune and doing a drunken kind of dance. I stared in fascination at the roaring approval of the audience. The woman, to my embarrassment, turned her attention to me, included me in her song, tried to beckon me to the stage. I looked into her made-up eyes under their obviously false lashes, and saw desperation, weariness and a certain kind of strength which, for some reason, I was meant to see and acknowledge.

I was horrified by the memory that I had come here to see myself--and was, indeed, in full exaggeration, feathery boa and all.

I continued on my way, stopping at scene after scene featuring the same woman in different guises--some more believable (and forgivable) than others. The plays, the age of the female star and the tragic or comic situations all varied widely. They could be viewed in a glance as morality tales; the point, however, was not to glance, but to really look. What I saw, again and again, was the tackiness of the sets, the highly amateur quality of the painted scenery and the garishness of the lighting...all thrown out in public like a brilliantly cheap distraction...always cloaking a subtle beauty, a knowingness behind the body, a deftness in the movement and story. I always found it. Each time, it was like finding a snowball in hell--an astonishment and sheer gratitude for the saving grace, the real miracle.

It seemed like a long journey; eventually, I found myself standing, once again, before the Earthen Beings. I was tired, not a little depressed, somehow, by what I had witnessed, and edging toward discouragement. One look at my face, and the obnoxious guardians burst into laughter. I was heartily sick of their attitudes.

"Come on, guys, show me some love," I implored (whined!). "This is the hardest thing I've ever done!"

They exchanged a look of disgust, and I was aghast at what I had just said, and the tone I had just used. Quickly, I tried to find a way to save the situation. "Ok," I amended, "then show me how to be a more loving person." There. I waited. Silence, while they stared at me, at my soul.

In the silence, I felt their disapproval, and an odd thing--encouragement.

I wondered why such an intention, put forth in a much more sincere way, was not earning their respect. All at once, there was the rank redundancy of the play, the terribly obvious strings of ego at work--and as it is meant to do upon recognition, the whole thing collapsed in a heap. I stood in complete humility before these guardians of the gates to my own heart. I had nothing to hide, anymore, nothing left at all to present but this. This. Even an apology would have been a colored light.

The elder one nodded, and the other smiled kindly with his whole body. "In order to be more loving," they said, as if explaining how one and one makes two in certain realities, "you must be willing to accept love."

Pure love, they intoned as their now-spearless hands brought me back to a surface. This love. You, Love.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Unprotected Love

I have a twisty history that maps out like a rutted mountain track. There are switchbacks, washouts and turnouts with a view; there are experimental forays into wilderness with dead ends and cold camps. Rarely does my road slide gently across an easy meadow. It refuses to be paved. Travel is seasonal and somewhat perilous.

Over time, I've learned the technology to cut a much simpler, more direct route through my terrain that could care less about water sources or contour-hugging. I've developed an arsenal of coping skills that I can call upon--a Transformer-like ATV with climate-control, advanced weaponry and armor. Boulders in the road? Trees in the way? Canyons opening up? No problem. The most fragile inner child could take on the worst conditions, the most horrendous emotional storm in relative ease, locked inside an impervious skin...

It is an option. I suppose building such a thing is sometimes necessary for survival, in the long run. But here's the downside: the virtual, two-dimensional vision I must use to peer out at the world from my fort-on-tracks is limiting, to say the least. All my other senses are rendered useless in the recycled air. When I speak, my voice stops at the padded titanium walls. I can only pretend that there's nothing out there to hurt, that my determined speed is my only concern, that the offerings left along the way by animal, vegetable, mineral or stardust are worthless to my cause.

When conditions get difficult, I sometimes climb into this thing where it's parked (top secret location) and play with the controls. It's so nice and safe, in there! I have a certain fondness for the skill--no, the incredible ingenuity that went into the implementation of my mobile bomb shelter, my ultimate freeze-out weapon. Yeah, go ahead ruthless world, rotten people, sickness, divorce or death--give it your best shot! Can't touch me!


A similar skill has me flying through a sterile dream, high above any topography--observing with a mental lens that burns to the bottom of life with breathless accuracy. This is how one goes to the stake with dignity...when it is understood that absolutely everything is yet another concept thrown up by left-brains on crack. There is, in this scenario, no me to touch--a valuable (but partial) truth, a mask so finely rendered that it really looks like the face of serenity. In this way, while I am busy tying my hands, I can place my gaze far, far away from the heat, from the present moment, from any kind of pain. 

There are, of course, many other emergency fallback measures--less sophisticated, but effective in a pinch--such as wrapping myself in the barbed wire of anger or cynicism, or the poison ivy of self-pity. Hurts more, but creates a good distance.

At the beginning of this summer, I made a conscious decision to abandon these skills, wonderful as they can be, and just walk...through fire, ice, whatever. I wanted to go deep into the wilderness of myself, the mountains, the oceans, the unexplained craters so old that they are visible only from inner space. I took my real, physical body--the soft and vulnerable one, the one alive to touch. I had no plan, no map, no radar. My watch stopped. My expectations, when I tried to use them, turned out to be a pile of rust. My approval ratings took a dive. The inner voices screeched in fear, as if I was an astronaut heading for a new galaxy without my spacesuit. In a way, that's exactly how it felt. I didn't take a helmet, knee pads, mouth guard, oxygen, bear-spray or aspirin. What an idiot, said my inner parent. You will catch a disease!

As I headed out, I threw back over my shoulder, I am the disease. (I only half-believed it--but it sounded good!)

So, what happened? Are my dream-theories, my meticulous safeguard-methods all wrong? Did I forget where I parked that tank? No.  My inner child is just as whiny as ever, and her parent just as strictly concerned...but wait a second...I have to catch my breath from all the laughing, wipe the monsoon off my face from all the crying, and sit down because my feet hurt. From dancing, not running. The mark on my forehead is where I planted it on the ground in utter humility. The inside of my soul is abraded, and healing into something not-quite-familiar, but good.

The stuff simmering over there on the fire is a brew of gifts that I want to share...but they need to cook a little longer, I think. Meanwhile, have some tea, some wild mushrooms, a big hug. I love you all. :)