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!