Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Longest Nights

Winter Solstice just passed us here in the Northern Hemisphere. It's one of my favorite seasonal markers, even with the cold, dark and damp. I enjoy the turning-in, the introversion, the sleeping trees; I love the seeking of fire and body heat and soft blankets. Hibernation can be a wonderful thing for Maria.

I have have seen much unfolding in this heart of mine (which also happens to be this heart of yours!). Lots of learning, growing and shedding going on. The last few seasons have shown me some beautiful insights, as well as shadowy recesses that never enjoy the greening of summer, and (to my initial dismay) never will...just as some places on this planet will never touch the light of day. Some wounds may or may not heal when you leave them alone, when they are left to do whatever it is that they do. Some scars never fade. It is, as they say, what it is.

This isn't meant to be a despairing message, however. I grew up in and out of a psychological (and sometimes physical) war zone, so it isn't a sermon on acceptance, either. Accept, don't accept--it's all the same to the Great Whatever. It takes you as you are. There is no need to earn your way into happiness, prove your mettle, express your gratitude. It took years and years for this understanding to sink in all the way. No one has to apologize for being here. There is no right way to live a life. I cannot judge a single human being--including this one--not because of a moral issue, but because it's an action that carries no weight at all. It's a waste of energy, in my humble opinion, an opinion that changes exactly...nothing!

As I mature, my interest seems to lie more and more with honesty. Brutal, lovely, heartbreaking, life-expanding honesty. If I could have consistently lied to myself and gotten away with it, I probably would have. It turns out that, in the long run, and for the sake of everything, honesty is the best policy--again, not because the universe is "moral". There are degrees of honesty, all with their accompanying discomforts and releases. There was a time when I lied to myself because I knew no other way to survive. This is, somehow, a very honest thing, in an immature way. Comes a time when it no longer serves, and the carrying of illusion gets very difficult. Drop a layer. The new perception serves until it doesn't--and repeat. I have no idea if this ever ends.

I don't know how it is that those layers fall, but it seems a ripeness is in order; they certainly don't leave before everything is ready! Then, in a rush, or with an inaudible sigh, or in complete stealth, things have changed. Maybe subtly, maybe drastically, but new worlds are available to view. Honesty most definitely supports this process, aids it, and makes the seeming transition "cleaner". Eventually, there is a feeling of loving presence, a reflection of strength and vulnerability bouncing off any conceivable thing, finally enfolding all things. It is, of course, a further opening of the heart.

At this time in life, I am in a very interesting place. It's a place with not much room for "I", literally and metaphorically. In many ways, the most common image of Maria--the self-image--has been challenged and pushed, more and more, into a corner of itself. This Maria is representative of some original wound, some terrible violation (or a few), and presents typically as a bundle of reactivity, anger and pain. Over the years, well-meaning therapists have counseled me to "repair the self-esteem" and "heal the wounded child" with all the love and understanding my parents couldn't give me. Also, I should stand my ground, demand respect and consideration, and stop picking up wounded birds. Yeah. I should do this because Maria deserves a good man, time off, more help, and self-respect. Alright--I get that. Still, something is not ringing true in this advice, anymore. It seems trite, redundant and no longer fitting, and I suspect the shifting of another strata. It's as if we have taken the repair of the ego as far as it can go. Been there, done that.

More and more, there is a detachment, an objectivity waking up in place of the wounded creature, where a spastic mind once held sway. I was taught that detachment was a way of avoidance or not caring. This turns out to be true, but not in the way I assumed. What I have lost interest in is the outcome of the story (they all end the same way, right here), and in the quest for something better. Contrary to how this may sound, it isn't as though I have "given up". It's more that the structure disappeared, the race was called off, and I found that what I had signed up for was not any of this, after all. In fact, there is no real thing to admit defeat, no real person to be shamed, or to claim victory. I cannot know what this really is.

I've educated myself fairly well in most things "spiritual", and so of course, the concept of the Void, the illusion of the personal, the world of maya all make intellectual sense to me and balance the seeming solidity of everything quite nicely. And being an expert at coping, I've learned to "be objective", or philosophical, about most things. It never really occurred to me on a visceral level that I would wake up one morning viewing my familiar body in my familiar field of vision with all its sensations as something...not foreign, exactly, but unassumed. Something as natural as that tree outside, and as impenetrable, unknown, and in that sense, unfamiliar. A mystery. Nothing I can improve, run from, or seek to fulfill. Fulfillment is suddenly a laughable idea. A completely unnecessary-anymore-idea.

And this body, in its utter innocence, owns nothing, claims nothing. It has no thoughts (I don't know what does). It has its own way of speaking and is completely unconcerned about what happened when I was five. This realization is startling.

There are feelings, emotions, and they act of their own accord, without any meddling on my part, without my interference. They don't lash out and destroy anything. Nobody gets hurt. No planets are pulled into my orbit. Even if they did, that would somehow be okay.

I think about my old therapists, and wonder if they would find some "dissociation disorder" in this point-of-view-which-isn't. I've never been more sane. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saule, Sol, Gold, Go

I used to know a young prospector who spent hours in creeks and rivers, looking for that elusive chunk of luck--the big payoff, the proof that all the pain and expense and hope was worth it. He had the fever, the bug, the addiction to the search. He searched so hard because he knew that occasionally, someone did strike it rich, find a vein of metal shining like the sun, even in the shadows. Precious, precious stuff. 

After a while, the hobby grew too expensive and time-consuming. There were heavy flakes, glimmers in a pan, tiny nuggets here and there...and there was occasional peace, under the water with a dredge running, or communing with a brave trout. But the reward that was supposed to come--the marker, the end of the search, a fist-sized treasure, held up for all to see--it never happened. The adventure was abandoned, the urge to hunt taking other forms. Seek, and you shall find...what? Accolades? Comfort? Escape? What? Have you found it? Are we there yet? Can we control it, is it pleasurable enough, are we safe?

It is said that water seeks its own level. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that water surrenders into itself. It falls up, falls down, pools, rushes, sits in silence, roars in waves. It vaporizes, powerless, and condenses to take over the world. It remains frozen for eons, uncomplaining. We are mostly water, and earth, fire, air and the rest, all having no problem cooperating in the form of a human. We are burning, evaporating, calcifying this very moment. Lightning beats our hearts. Something moves, we change, and yes--the process we tag "mind" will seek, seek, and seek some more. Incredibly restless and creative Mind. So full of its own luscious self, casting shadows on everything it sees, every other part of itself...not conscious, asleep and dreaming of success in love, in finances, in the good fight, whatever it is at the moment. Advancing, retreating, screaming, cowering. Rejecting. Coveting. Trying this method or that, this recipe, this formula, taking these steps. Looking at itself in horror, in joy, in defeat. Confronting its own death...unable to understand, calculate, reframe such a thing. There is death, there is no death. Off/on--what is this, really? What am I, really? Am I real? What the hell is "real"? What about this--and this--and this?! What an annoyance!

Something happens--an overload, an exhaustion, an experience of suspension. Ahhh. Yes. Peace. This is it. The payoff. Look! Here's the payoff! Right? Eureka! Breakthrough! I know the way! 

Oh, little brain. Here come the shadows, and the light dims. Iron pyrite, fool. This way looks like it might get us lost again. It's gold we want, right? Light in solid form? Learn to recognize it (says some prospector with a long beard, missing teeth and a mule). It gleams, even in shadow. It loves, even in pain. You have seen it, it has seen you, and neither can forget. Onward. Up that canyon, down that ravine. Follow the river, she will show you. Stop being so damn mean to that mule. She will show you. No, you don't need a new, shiny pickaxe!

Prospecting is lonely, full of hard work, and according to lots of intelligent folks, unnecessary. I understood the seeker of my acquaintance very well, more than I cared to admit, even though we were mining different things, through different mediums, with different goals (or so I believed at the time). My seeking was somehow better than his, because mine was on a "spiritual" level. My search had value higher than his. Mine was somehow justified, and his was not. Oh, little brain!

I don't know if he ever found what he was looking for, but now I realize that he went about the growth and death of himself in exactly the right way, for exactly the right reasons, and that I can never know his story. I can only know this one, and not even that.

So, what happened?

Well, I lost all the maps, my mule wisely sought greener pastures, and I was forced to carry all my own stuff. Very hard work, I can tell you. By that time, people's opinions of my adventures ceased to matter. I followed the river, anyway, because--I realized that I loved it. Or it loved me. Either way. 

I found more and more gold, ironically--and just as ironically, it lost its value--that is, the value that others placed upon it. However, my appreciation of the mining process deepened to the point that it was more play than work. There was beauty in the landscape, in the looking, the finding, even in disappointment and the occasional injury. Consequently, I was content with less and less. One day, I quit searching. People thought the gold was pretty and full of amazing value, so I gave it away. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this. And along came my old friend Mind, who whispered, "Hey, Eureka! I found the way!" 

I laughed until I thought my heart would break. I made a good, nourishing meal for my restless friend (happy chewing, Sweetheart!), and went to sleep like a good animal. In the morning, gold was everywhere--just everywhere, like a messy fairytale...or a gripping mystery. There was the body, the heart, even the mind, gleaming in the shadows. Aladdin's cave was the kitchen, an old lady, a man burying himself in porn, the cat stretching, frozen fog around the moon, the primitive, the futuristic, oil paint, a coffee spill on white tile (again). The voice of Precious says I love you, leave me alone, I don't know, I hurt, this is it, watch out, don't leave, get out, I have no opinion...the heart contracts, expands, feelings wave, stomach growls. Decisions are made, seemingly by everything at the same time, and things move. There is no identifying this, but words go around and full I'm empty, so empty I'm full. The thought of death shines like a rising sun. 

Get a mule, polish your pan, get to work...or not. It's worth it. Even finding nothing...perhaps especially, finding nothing. A river loves you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Like those before and after, I'm leaving a trail of description that is nothing more than breadcrumbs on a moonless night. I can't help myself, apparently. I never know exactly what Maria will think, do, or how she will behave. This used to be a terrifying, it's liberating.

Lately, early in the morning, I spend a little time in what I suppose could be a kind of "meditation". I've never been able to keep a formal practice for very long. However, when I fall in, I fall in. Love...that has been my experience, my exploration. It seems the mental, physical and emotive are all coming together in a kind of synthesis that is evolving in unexpected ways, and I find myself simultaneously following like a puppy, unfurling like a frond and building, layer upon layer, like a pearl. Insights are both universal and intensely personal, applied to this momentum...given enough space and willingness, no question goes unanswered.

This morning there was a kind of pressure building, and eventually, the universe came out on my breath. I was singing reality. I was in awe. It was a quiet song full of every noise present, and the rest of my senses streamed along with it. I had to get up and stretch, reach for the floor, the ceiling, go out on the porch. There were crows calling, there was a white-star sun muffled in clouds topping a fir tree across the street. Music drifted faintly from a nearby house. The smell of wet, fallen leaves, earth, town was body, no skin between myself and all this. The world has no skin.

A man walked by on the sidewalk, and I heard my voice say "good morning", in the same way I heard the echoing crows and the splash of water from the rain gutter. I can't tell you how absolutely in place everything was (is)--how a car passed in perfection, thoughts in succession and then not at all. The barrier of sleepy caution was completely absent.

Only in its absence do I become aware of how thick and pervasive this "filter" a cloudy lens, an awkward pair of glasses with the wrong prescription. Fear of being (that's right!) is a habit, an unconscious pattern. When I become aware of it, it is just another rise and fall, a wave of energy that can do nothing to disturb what actually is...what I completely am. Following it is like getting caught in the wake of something passing--a ghost ship, that in the light of my heart turns out to be water dancing.

I am in love, my friends...immersed, drowned, clear. The love is being open to learning, unafraid. It's as if I--"I"--came into being out of fear, and then broke through to some other side. I'm not saying anything new...and there is no other side. The crows fly away with the trail in their beaks, calling. Not one mark do they leave!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Touch

I've been debating with myself about writing, lately. I often have no words for the best description seems to reach the heart of expression. These things must be experienced to be understood. Not experienced in my way, but in yours.


Most of the time, I don't have the luxury of endless hours of meditation, contemplation or prayer--light tends to happen in flashes, and is simply put it aside in favor of daily demands. Sometimes, though, I jot notes in my journal. Going over these sparks, poems and stories, it occurs to me that "mystical" experience is often their inspiration. My character marches, sprawls or fumbles through her average day, usually in some kind of survival mode or full coping armor; all at once, a swirl of leaves, the velvet expanse of a gaze, a spontaneous dance or two words from some sage, and wham! A sudden dive, or perhaps gradual descent/ascent into a whole new way of being here. Life hasn't changed--I am just naked again.

I don't think of these experiences as proof of realization or arrival (one never arrives anywhere!). For me, they are points of unfolding, timeless spans of healing and insight, appearing fully faceted through mind, body and spirit in a manner that mere mental understanding can't possibly match. That's all. :)

Also, they are cyclical, cumulative in some way, and will torment the more limited me if ignored  too long. Growth happens. Trying to contain it builds pressure. In my experience, pretending smallness doesn't help the situation.

Recently, I read through the journal of a Middle Eastern mystic and was astounded at the similarities in our experience (and the wording thereof). Further research and more startling synchronicity have me appreciating my odd life in a whole new way--with much more respect and humility. I've often compared the movement of God/dess, Spirit, the Great Whatever--This--to a language that doesn't use words. It's something felt, a kind of natural knowing revealed, a communication-by-expansion. Words can be misconstrued. Direct experience, though sometimes puzzling or mysterious to the mind after the fact, carries a quality of immediate intimacy, pointing to our own face. It demands attention, contemplation, even just a gentle holding and processing. Calling it craziness (I did, for a long time) will not make it go away! It can't go away. It is what we are. It can only be held off, by resistance or desire, for so long.

Some people have asked why, when this kind of thing is sought after by "spiritual seekers" (or just intensely curious adventurers) in many places--why would I deny, disregard, or downplay the nature of my experience? Fear, at first, and reluctance to wreck what little social life I had. Ego was terribly involved in a backhanded way. Exaggerated repression tends to blow things out of proportion, inhibiting the natural flow of such energies. I couldn't know this, however, and so it went.

Some events took many years to unfold and integrate, and a degree of caution was called for.  As a young adult, a good friend of mine accused me of being a closet drug-addict when I let my guard down and admitted some of my more colorful adventures. Such states were the product of LSD, he insisted, or some kind of demonic possession. Neither demons nor drugs were involved (although I did get mighty curious about whether or not LSD really brought on that facet of reality...decades later, the answer is NO. Not the same!) Respect on both sides was often lost over these discussions. I stopped talking about it...until I learned some discernment.

As time went on, the quality of these experiences changed--became deeper, more powerful, and brought on waves of "psychic" phenomena. Neat...but the love, the love is what I fell for! Love, love, LOVE unlike any other. I say "love", because that word best describes what I felt, but in all honesty, this intimacy was of a degree unknown in my human relations. It left me awestruck, humbled, blown open, and almost terrified of the spacious beauty revealed--as if it was my own inside. This sensation was most difficult to went against common sense, certainly belying my upbringing and typical belief systems. There was, in fact, no model in my life for this.

And there still isn't. It is comforting to note a kind of mystical territory common to certain "levels" of experience, where the landmarks are metaphorically (and often literally) pointed to--there is the Void, a pearl of great price, fire in the belly, diamond intellect--yet, fulfillment can only be found here, now, as I am, in no other experience. Looking exclusively "out there" for peace, understanding and validation turns these essential qualities of Being into mere shadows of themselves, placing them at a distance. This, as they say, is it, and it unfolds uniquely through each of us, into the kind of world most appropriate to our degree of acceptance...whatever we are ready to experience.

Writing about this helps me in the same way that painting "externalizes" a process.  What is born on the page or canvas always seems at least one step removed from original contact. There is still value in saying it, in looking at it, in putting it into form for minds and hearts to view. The original moment is ours alone, shaped precisely to us, so close that it is whatever we are. It doesn't happen to us. We are the stillness, the eternal witness, in which the motion of life opens like a wake and spreads across a totality barely sensed on the typical plane of awareness. 

Just a couple of layers down...there is a curiosity, quite gentle, unafraid, open, neutral and entirely intimate with all that is. This is the realm, I'm convinced, within which we glimpse unfurled wings. This is where a very pure version of us dwells, a being so fine as to touch all things with grace, in an exact meeting. I find myself here as this unconflicted awareness at times when I can't sleep, but am too physically tired to get up, or perhaps when I'm just very relaxed. There is no thought, image or movement that is avoided, and nothing is defended. I need nothing. My nature is content with itself and whatever happens. It isn't even "my" nature--it just is. The is-ness is unquestioned. It roams the mind, body and environment with nothing but a wish to know the forms, feelings and all other sensual things as they are--an almost childlike love. 

Just a couple of layers down...

Friday, October 28, 2011


I can read cards, leaves and bones, even though I don't need to. I can interpret shadows in the eyes, hesitation in a hand, and doodles. I sometimes see into a distant room without taking a body there; I dream lucidly and have some of my best lessons in that realm. I am a devoted student of heart-language and other inaudible means of communication--intuition, some call it. I feel "energies" and occasionally see ghosts (or whatever they are). I am sensitive this way--it seems I have access to at least one lifetime full of collected wisdom serving many practical purposes.

Being a reader of signs and omens has a negative side, however, in that I tend to treat everything as if there is some greater meaning to be found, something just behind the symbol or metaphor. Words and feelings can point to concepts, like certain types of clouds point to an approaching storm, like russet leaves to falling. The fractals stretch out to infinity...falling to wintering, to seasons and cycles, to planets and stars and space, to universes without end. There comes a point where anything means anything, as all are related here, now.

Although casting for meaning is a useful skill, it can also be a habit which can block the very vision seeking to expand. Collapsing meaning is just as useful--necessary, even, to experience a deeper peace. One can chase after meaning eternally, as it always retreats like the proverbial carrot on a stick, or gives way to another horizon. This is great for referencing and making art, but horrible for seeing the truth of the situation--my human condition, as it is.

The patterns etched into my neurology through childhood bliss and trauma can be a nightmare when I tuck myself into their tunnels and folds, travel down their canyons, and read the old etchings on the walls. The territory is ancient and familiar, no matter which face or situation is reflected in the ever-renewing water of my life, and I find myself struggling through the same rapids, washing up in the same places. The cuts get deeper, the patterns more established, it seems, each year. There are landmarks I had nothing to do with, but are inherent in my species--heartbreak ridge, a valley of tears, lover's leap...oh, what does it mean, what does it mean? (Mind can't comprehend the magnitude of the moment...)

 Nothing. It means nothing, the way a system of roots is reflected in the stretching limbs of a tree, meaning nothing but itself; the way a pattern in the bark looks like the river flowing nearby, but cannot be pointing to anything at all except the fact that I noticed. This universe, thank whatever, is eternally flexible and open to interpretation. And my interpretations mean absolutely nothing at all, are not based upon anything substantial, as there is nothing more insubstantial than this sentence.

Collapsing thought-structures, yanking the mental rug, is not as intimidating or difficult as it may seem. It only takes a few minutes of sitting in a sunbeam at the park, watching a yellow leaf composting itself, for meaninglessness to become self-evident. There is no climax to the story when every element of it is its own. I am such an integral part of this afternoon that I can neither rise above nor subvert it; I am nothing special, there is no grand end to all these grand endings!

The feelings of the moment are just that; I do not believe the clock or the calendar, because they are in no way able to contain this actuality. This could be any spacetime, and is only this one. I walked into this, blossomed out of it in a way I will never, ever understand with my mind--and my body doesn't care, it is so perfectly at home here. Do I feel love? Can I ever love anyone or anything at all to the degree I am loved by this? Is it the same? The questions arch and shatter. My left foot is asleep. The universe spins on, but I have stopped time by noticing.

There is a babbling and rushing sound, which can signify a creek's distance from my ears, its depth and perhaps a width, as well. Left alone, the language is the sound of everything else, all running child and grass and emptiness behind my eyes. What else would it be? 

There is a stunning detachment, arising from the fact that I cannot be "attached" to something that is intimately myself. This detachment is the true love of letting things go, letting ideas die a natural death, relaxing an artificially desperate grip. This openhandedness feels wholeheartedly, exponentially, while emotion stills. Emotion cannot feel anything--it's a momentum of energy, tracking the stars of the burst, spreading the muck of the flood. As soon as it has begun, it's done, one more event in a non-contextual space in which everything "happens", and nothing is held back. It's so ubiquitous that I can't even get out of it enough to comment.

Ah, well.

I may have completely and comfortably lost my mind, made friends with death, and given up the last vestige of hope. Good. It's about time. 

I'm hungry.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


On the beach, between storms, walking with a steady wind at my back. Soothing myself with all the white noise and rhythm. Not too many people out in the middle of the week, with the Pacific "storm door" wide open. Thoughts fewer and fewer. Feeling more spacious...aaaaahhhh. Yes. All I hear are various tones of Shhh.

Now comes the thing I call love, for lack of a better description, where the waves roll through me, where there are no boundaries, no self-concerns, no ideas about the state of the world, no prayers for anything different. I can only talk about it after the fact, and words are, too...but...

It is not a gentle day; the wind is blowing hard enough that pieces of dried sea-life skitter past and ahead of me, racing each other. Sand is forming wave patterns wherever it blows. Clouds thin, but don't disperse, while more gather offshore. I'm warm from the motion and consider taking off my jacket--not quite. I come to a place where water drains from a large pipe, and I must hop across on rocks to avoid getting my feet wet. The beach is more deserted here, vacation houses shuttered up on short cliffs, mixed with struggling motels for the next couple of miles until the trees and grass of a state park are allowed again. The sand ahead is clean and almost flat, not much driftwood, so a small object stands out in distant darkness.

I drift toward the spot on the high-tide mark, curious, more so when I recognize the thing as a sitting bird. It is alive, unmoving as I approach. I walk carefully until I'm a few feet away. Though conscious, the bird is injured, dying, maybe. It rests quietly in exhaustion, facing into the wind. It opens an eye and looks directly at me, and then closes it, unconcerned, unafraid, unable.

My heart contracts, opens again. I squat down and consider the emerging details--black feathers of the back and wing, one slightly extended, sand collecting around the white breast, a wake pattern forming behind the short, battered tail. My eyes find the place where the bird hit the sand and skidded forward a couple of feet. Only a little while left...I feel sadness. A memory arises, a wise counselor a decade ago urging me to "step over the wounded birds", speaking of people in my life I believed needed saving or teaching or loving and were just me, wanting saving and teaching and loving. There is nothing I can do except the practical, and in many cases, just nothing--like this.

A thought comes. "He is waiting to die." Knowing comes--there is no waiting, here. The bird is doing what natural grace does, ebbing out, struggle over. It looks like dignity, but isn't. There is no need to dignify this passage. A huge, open love is here. I walk away with a human wish for a quick and peaceful end to any pain the bird may feel, because I suffer with the thought.


Only a few days pass, and I find myself on the same beach, this time with my brother. The wind is gone. My brother is struggling inwardly, and the walk is therapeutic, I think. Talk is minimal and inconsequential. Not too long, and I catch myself looking, looking, until I find what some part of me seeks. I don't know why, but I break away from my brother and go to the feathered body, washed all the way down here...yes, here it is, the end of the story. I don't know what this feeling is, when I gaze open-eyed at the white breast, torn open and washed clean in the sea. The bird's heart is gone, food for a scavenger. Soon it will be scattered feathers, bones becoming sand. It's a horrific sight, post-breath, but beautiful because I can't deny it, any of this.

Over my shoulder, my brother says, "Yeah, Maria, it's a dead bird," and walks away, mildly disgusted. I feel his puzzlement. Just another process-in-action, yes; no, when it is also mine, my bones I'm walking on and the feathers I will never fly with in this lifetime. Even more, it's a feeling that I can't name, that somehow contains, creates and abolishes life and death.

Love is such an inadequate sound to wrap it in.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy This

I can't help but watch social swings of the pendulum with great interest. There are moments during the "Occupy Wall Street" footage that send good chills from my head to my toes...I love it when people stand up in spite of their fear, push their personal envelopes, speak their minds! I believe it's good for humans to have that opportunity and use it.

Cynics say that it will change nothing in the system as it is--I disagree, because if something shifts inside a human being, the "system" is no longer the same. Of course these are idealists and hippies and self-perceived victims--along with old, young, rightish, leftish, military vets, unemployed geeks and ex-middle class. Whatever. The point is in the waking up and considering one's situation, internally and externally, from that place that is both/neither. It may appear on the surface as an attempt to buck corruption or reform a social order, but what is happening is an expression of a change in consciousness, a step outside perceived security. Reality--all of it--ripples with the stirring of standing up. Is it good? Bad? What will the outcome be? I don't know--and the fabric of what's real doesn't care. What matters is the sea change in the blood, in the heart, in the brain. The goals are secondary to the action of the moment, and change constantly in that beautifully ordered chaos that we dream as existence.

Very serious business...or is it?

One of my nearest and dearest family members has no computer or television. He tends to avoid mainstream news as being too negative. When I told him about the movements across the country, he said, "Yeah, well, people in power know that in order to maintain control, you have to let the people blow off steam before you crack back down. It will probably amount to nothing." Later in the conversation, he amended this opinion with the hope that the people "dance and sing and take things lightly (while pursuing serious goals), because if protests and political movements can be FUN, then things might actually change!"

"You mean, they'll show up for the party and accidentally get educated?" I laughed.

"Exactly,"  he replied. "We only have a little time, you know, and might as well see the beauty, the laughter in life...really enjoy each other while trying to wake folks up. Fun is so much better than violence at accomplishing these things."

I agree with that...let's hope violence isn't perceived as something essential to waking up. It needn't be, if one first decides to fully occupy oneself--the body, the full range of emotion and perception swirling through, the honesty of love and fear, the fact that what we really want, all of us, is more love and less fear. Start right here, now, and take responsibility for this, your universe. Both greed and altruism exists in all of us, somewhere. Fight for what you love, not against what you hate, and dance/write/paint/chant your own bright truth before deciding there is an absolute.

Much love!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What Else?

Upon arrival in my own life
I found an immensity of feeling, a range independent 
of any other;
the totality of subtlety, and beyond this,
a capacity untouched, untapped, and permanently generous.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Do you want to speak and understand the secret language of the stars? Open your mouth, and listen.

Do you wish to view the true form of the void? Open your eyes, and light.

Do you want to feel what it is to touch your most intimate lover? Open your hand, and let.

Must there be a reason? Open your heart, and live.

Nothing is hidden!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Comparison Only

I had a conversation with someone not too long ago about "love"--the feeling, the definition, the degree, the seeming lack of understanding surrounding the concept. This discussion has been ongoing, I'm sure, since the (purest coral/apricot) dawn of time. Like all meaningful conversations Reality has with itself, there is no clear resolution or words. 

Such a powerful non-thing is Love, however, that we all continue to howl inwardly with agony or joy or both, being primal artists, poets and musicians deep inside over the seeming loss or gain of this elixir and all our garbled memories thereof. It is, indeed, the fountain of youth, the home we long for, the deepest bedrock we could ever chain ourselves to in a storm. It sometimes appears to me that my task, my storyline, has me following the glimmers and shadows of Love all the way down, from the shallowest desires and ego-strokes to the suffocating depths and ultimate deliverance of the universal sea...a worthy quest, in any tale. All such stories, though, must end. 

Love is so engaging that we forget ourselves as the source of all the enchantment and pain. It is so close to us that we can't find it, usually, except in the form of a reaction. The original "action" is still a mystery, like God...did I just compare Love to God? Oh, I did, I did--like billions before me, who hit the end of the rope and found the voice, breath and patterned brain cut off; who somehow brought a wounded, unworthy self to the feet of some Presence and realized the complete and utter acceptance under-standing this...and then...

Yesterday, I was on the beach before the sun, walking, waiting for a certain light, camera at the ready. There was a blank space with nothing to do but sit and be. Luxury. That was the word that arose. Acceptance was the second word that arose, closely followed by love. They are all related, only in that they share the same root--me. In truth, there is no acceptance of love or by love, god, or whatever the word, since it is obviously all right here, always has been, always will be, no exceptions. Acceptance of any condition is so profound as to be __________. No gain, no loss, and boundless. Love and all its manifesting is mere icing, bittersweet and completely allowed, in any form, in any shadow of any form. There is no expressing this...and the fact that we keep trying is the only evidence of the degree of our actual intimacy. 

I think of diving into the sea, because it is one of my favorite symbolic images. Diving into love would be like diving into my own bloodstream. Impossible, unnecessary, but beautiful in life. Did I just compare love to life...?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Make It A Good One

Stillness is complimented by motion, and silence supports a narrative in the same way the vast sky is noted for its heavenly bodies. Back and forth, inline and outline. My love is pure and unsullied by the marks I make from moment to moment, by the stories I tell day to day. I am very, very clear on that.

I have never been more free to explore the possibilities, plot lines and characters that form the subtle texture of this living, multidimensional canvas. The more I look, the more things appear, and the more a "solid" sense of self becomes unnecessary. I was born in Earthquake Land, and had to develop sea legs for future oceans. I see this now, and my nerves turn toward drinking in rather than running from. It just feels better, that way.

I'm a languaging being, even when I wish I was dead quiet. My dreams are stories that sometimes astound me. I can take any given day and make a story out of it; I can notice any appearance and give it a history, a present-feeling, and possibly a future. It's how humans are wired, leveled, terraced and tiered. It's how we are rooted, branched and tapped. I can deal with it, these days, because none of it amounts to anything important. I am not important, and neither are my stories. They can cozy right up to what's common, what's fascinating, what's not even known yet, because they are no longer stuck in the superglue of egolust. I don't believe in the stuff anymore. God, Spirit, S/He-It doesn't need glue to keep it all together, because nothing is really broken. I was certainly never as shattered as I felt! It was a story that I thought was true, for a while, until it wasn't.

Now, the opposite seems truer than broken ever matter how things slide, wiggle or crash, I am whole. I feel that it makes perfect sense to draw on the surface of a pond, write in the air with my fingertip. It makes as much sense as paying bills, counting pumpkins in my garden, finding the wild animal within. I can be passionately lonely or silly or depressed. Nothing is off the table. I find that arguing with life is perfectly ok, as such idiocy is sweetly accepted by that very same, double-jointed, tongue-in-cheek Master of Irony, who is just as delighted by depression as she is by dancing in the light of the moon. Think about it. 

Excuse me for wandering around in circles, point is, if I'm going to tell myself stories that I am not honor-bound to believe, they might as well be good ones! Here are a few:

Childhood is not lost. 
Sometimes, I am a genius.
No, I don't look as old as I am in Earth-years.
One of these days, I will remember all those t-shirt lines that Rylan and I dreamed up at the Phish show. (Some of them were amazingly funny!)
Everyone is an artist of some kind (no exceptions).
There is a change going on that has nothing to do with any political party. There is a party going on that can do nothing but change. We are all invited.
I know what's wrong with education today. I have lots of ways to fix it!
Deep down inside, we all love something passionately. Maybe several things. Therein lies the juice.
I am not done with kissing, nor is kissing done with me.
Every single dream, no matter how insignificant, grandiose or corny, is a living thing with no beginning or end, and is as vital as water and fertile as loam. Like us.
Fairy-tales, adventure, escapist romance? Yes, yes, and yes. Instruction booklets? Of course. Heavy philosophical tomes? Good for ya, but chew slowly. Non-fiction? Are you sure?!

I know that I don't know; I don't know that I know. I love that story. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Drama-Free Drama

Summer is full of it--life is full of it. We are full of it, aren't we? 

I've noticed that if I relax, I can have a front-row seat at the Grand Play without assuming a role in it. There is a certain kind of bliss in this little trick. Nothing happens, I can still think, make judgement calls, feel all kinds of things, but I am not lost. Ever. No matter what longing, avoiding or balancing I may be indulging in the moment, a substrata is clearly evident as the bedrock in which all this is ultimately snuggled. Everything and everyone falls, but is held in an immeasurable embrace. I am by turns happy, touching sadness, and laid out with awe at this fact.

Relaxing is a given, is what we are doing all the time at the bottom, but is much easier conceptualized than allowed. Relaxing into the play, I am not in control, or confined to a particular emotion or response. Anything is possible, nothing is permanent. There is a reason people speak of riding the roller-coaster, the wave, the wind. Not fighting the flow is a kind of cooperation which simply begets more enjoyment--easier currents, allover wisdom. Enjoyment, I think, is what this is all about. Even great loss, experienced fully, adds incredible dimension to this being--right in the face of the thought that subtraction is what's happening. I have no idea how this can be, but it is. 

There is only one word for it...good. 

A very good drama, indeed. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011


As far as I can tell, I brought nothing in with me when I came into this world...perhaps because I also came out of this full, lacking nothing.

I opened my eyes, and there were no questions or comments about who or what I was, what being is, why, where, how. I didn't have to take it all for granted, or be grateful...I didn't have to make a life. I was not large or small, significant or insignificant, special or ordinary. 

I learned the power of storytelling, and that in the beginning, was the word. Any word. Entrancing! How could I not love this? I fell in love with stories, all of them--fear stories, love stories, tales of craziness and bliss. I got lost, got found, got lost again. Split myself into many, many storied pieces. What horrifying fun!

I don't know if I just got tired, day, there I was, without the main character. No personhood, and nothing to say about it. It was just fine. Eventually,  I thought I was insane, but I was just telling myself tales around the fire, as had become my custom. It turns out, I am one of the "sanest" persons I know! I like it that way. It balances out the "insane" aspects of my story...which happen when I believe the plots to be real, and seek the late afternoon sun with my blanket, so I can lie down, give in to an intense pressure, and cry myself empty. 

My mother's crazy dog plops down on my blanket, licks a tear off my face. She sighs for me. I realize it's done, and am so relieved. A soggy laugh comes out. I have no plan, no ending. I don't know who I am anymore. This doesn't seem to affect anything in the slightest. The dog is still being utterly doglike, the porch is falling apart, the sun is making my right arm, and vice versa. 

I can't construct a serious story and believe it. I have tried, a few times, earnestly. By this, I mean that I can't pin myself down, say I am this or that, or that I somehow know the beginning and end of anything in life. When I talk to people and we are busy making up a storyline, attempting to characterize Maria and Whomever in some role, the whole process is glaringly apparent as what it is...fear, attachment, offense, defense. Emotional manipulation is often pulled out as a subtle tool to accomplish a scene. It's like being a stagehand at a magic show. I know how these things are done, as they unfold...I could be very distressed, amused, offended...only if I believe the show is real. Manipulation? Same as the pattern in the palm of my hand, or a leaf blowing down the street, or the calculus I don't speak. It seems there is no harm done if I buy into the play, or if I just watch. Plays are plays.

I have nothing left to do, but there is no boredom. I make deadlines, still, that I try to meet, and function as if, as if, this is very serious business, but it isn't. It never was. I never was. I seek affection and give it for the same reason trees sway. I don't have any reason to feel what I feel. I notice that there is a tremendous amount of spontaneous poetry that comes out of people, any given moment in any situation. Maybe this is as good a reason as any!

When I leave, there will be no hands will be empty, and my heart full. That's my story. :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free Hugs

It's finally Summer here in the Pacific Northwest. Last weekend I took my open heart to a music festival in the woods, where I dressed it up in a "Free Hugs" t-shirt. A good hug is good medicine; a good hug amongst like-minded revelers and life-lovers is heaven.

Camping for a few days with a few thousand souls can bring out the best and worst in people, and there are a million things to take away from the experience--life lessons, inspiration, a glow, a sadness, a hangover (if you choose!). Maria's life is such that it makes sense to be realistic, to not indulge in Utopian daydreams or runaway longings. However...the older I get and the more human company I experience, the more I run into a vast underground of downright Good People. In order for me to have cynicism as a religion, I think I'd have to lock myself away and barely speak to anyone. It would just be too hard to maintain in the face of the shining love in the core of most of us.

When I talk about this, I still have to use words like "core" or "underground", because the majority of us have been brought up and now hold jobs, identities and some sort of territory in the brittle shell-layer of our culture. Being "too" open, loving, generous and compassionate is seen as weak, stupid, scary or even crazy by many average people out there, living under the rule of fear. But as thick, calloused and controlling as the corporate/military social structure seems to be, it will never be successful at turning everyone into an obedient, unfeeling drone. There are just too many free spirits out there, too many creative galaxy hitchhikers, dharma bums, kids with laser-vision and elders bestowing practical grace. They never went away--have, in fact, always been here, puzzling, infuriating and inspiring us (and each other) since time began. 

In a gathering such as the one I attended, things are boiled down to the basics of human interest--can we stay warm, dry and fed enough, and have a great time while still respecting the rights and privacy of our neighbors? Why yes, yes we can! No refrigerator, nylon walls and virtually no private territory...still, we can live, share and whoop it up without serious injury or offense. It can be done, it is done often, and many people are quite sincere about practicing peaceful conflict resolution and personal response-ability. I witnessed a tribe that likes to walk their talk--they are the core of this beautiful oceanic neighborhood, and are timeless. 

Some might say that a festival is an artificial experience, but it could easily be the other way around. I walked into a dance, a marketplace and a village, as well as a party. Things were bought, sold and bartered. People volunteered their time and energy to clean, pass on information and take care of the "alter-abled". Musicians and artisans were given a place to shine, and people were given room to express their inner clown, bunny, gypsy, child, shaman or healer. Of course there were kids and "plastic" people just looking for the next good checkout...but mostly there were lovers of life, shy or bold, rich and poor, but all cognizant of a certain kind of connection with music, place and each other. There were countless hugs, much singing and playing. Discord of any kind was minimal...not due to the presence of security or police, but because most people really don't want to hurt or fight with each other. It actually takes a lot of abuse to indoctrinate a person into inner or outer war. Given a decent chance, humans are mostly kind, and will trade hot dogs for sunscreen in a heartbeat. :)

All of this creativity and freedom will probably be viewed as a threat for quite some time. A medicine woman told me many years ago of a "rainbow" tribe (many colors, not just natives) that carries traditional wisdom, medicine, and common sense, as well as the ability to open the human heart and eyes to the beauty of the world. These people, she told me, are the ones coming to the rescue of the lost, displaced and wounded when any kind of s**t hits the fan. The members of this tribe are, she insisted, what being is all about. "VERY important," she told me. "Your children and grandchildren will be among them." I am a grandmother now, and I'm paying attention.

I'm quite lucidly opening my arms. It's worth the risk of rejection, because love does not depend on how many good hugs I'm given, but the quality of what I can give. This is it, and I wish you joy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

You Have One Message

Last week, I had a dream that I was hanging out with some kind of "angelic" being in a vast, undifferentiated space. I was invited to play, so I made up two short, vertical lines a small distance apart from each other, with a long, crazy, squiggly line linking the two that looked like an erratic heartbeat glyph on a cosmic monitor. The design appeared as I imagined it, immediately, in my field of vision. After a moment's hesitation, I wrote a descriptive word underneath it: "Monster".

My friend seemed to thoughtfully examine this creation, and reproduced it exactly, a little to the right, with a different caption (in my own writing): "Moving Stillness Being Blessed."


All of this activity took place in a simple, childlike way, from an innocent, intuitive heart. My companion didn't criticize the original design, but made an offer to my offering. I realized that one was not better or more true than the other. One was not more beautiful or ugly. I could feel the dreamlike tug of opinion before it dissolved like fog in the sunshine.

I turned to this being, my friend, being so brightly indistinct, and tried to understand all this in a way that I could carry into the multilayered complexity that life enjoys so much. I knew I was dreaming, all of a sudden. And just in the turning toward, I felt something in a very deep way. Talking about it scatters the impact, but it seems to need expressing.

On the surface is the obvious message that opinions and comparisons are meaningless to reality-in-itself, whatever that is, which accepts absolutely any description or design laid upon Her, like a tattoo birthed in the heart to appear, organically, on the flexing skin of all that is. She doesn't care what you call it, what meaning is ascribed or which logical path was designed to support this whole thing. Whatever's clever, She might say.

Underneath this lovely indifference and impersonality (so that we can be personable) lies a song in a language that appears foreign, until the body and mind let go into the hearing. The song isn't about the design or the path; the song is of the singing, itself, the very act of calling an "object", thought, feeling, wish, tree, dance, breath, birth, death, particle/wave into being by noticing it. Noticing is a miracle. Deeply noticing is blessing.

In ancient days, blessing was done with some kind of sacrificial blood, great ceremony, honor and ritual, people impressing the importance of another person, place or thing upon their minds and hearts for a lifetime. In a way, this was daily life brought into the spotlight of community theater, an attempt to remind ourselves of the sacred realms we are steeped in. Get it, people--we are incarnate, we are temporal, we are fragile, and in this cosmic blink lies tremendous beauty that is missed when we forget to see and feel it, when we deem being alive to be so common and painful that it is beneath our notice (until we realize it is slipping away, perhaps). 

Explaining everything to death intellectually may be necessary--I don't know. What I do know is that I, like every other thing, am full of some kind of sacrificial blood in which the world appears and disappears, like a dream. I look at a fencepost, and it comes startlingly into being out of the Vast Soup, with color, texture, dimension and the scent of peeling paint. It does this just for me, with me, right now, in a moment never to be repeated, in absolute uniqueness. Fencepost Maria has arisen. No other human can ever be this experience in just this way. This is true every second of every day. No one will ever "understand" this, because there is nothing (thank god) to be understood. Just one creative miracle after another, for anyone willing to be this.

It is the act, the silent singing of everything into being that is so spectacular and effortless. I don't know where this song comes from or why it is. I just know when I'm fighting it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


As a busy "caregiver" and "artistic type", I'm familiar with the value of aloneness. Sometimes I just need to be away from the demands and distraction of other people in order to think/feel deeply, to get a clearer sense of whatever is emerging from the crazy sea of worldly data and craving my creative attention. I love these spaces in my life. Arguing with that call is almost impossible, anyway; putting it off too long seems to be hazardous to the health of my psyche.

Loneliness, though, has been quite a demon in my story. At first glance, it is entirely different in quality from voluntary solitude, tending to appear as a hollow portrait of lack and emptiness, with nothing voluntary about it. I've been lonely off and on throughout my time in schools, jobs, marriages and therapies--alone in my head, heart, and in the midst of crowds. I used to think it was just depression or some kind of inherited kink in the energetic hose. I could never figure it out, really, and cycled for a long time through stern lectures from my adult-self to the "needy" child within.  I was too bright, too young, too whatever to be so pathetic...I just wanted to knock it off. If it was biology, then to hell with it. Wasn't about to be jerked around by fluctuating hormones...and so forth.

I learned, over time, to distract myself from the pain of loneliness in many different ways. It was another fine coping skill to add to my repertoire. It worked, too, for a while.

What is it about middle-agelessness that so quickly peels off the illusions? Why is it that the thick buffalo-head, so effective in scaring away the really difficult states of being for so many years, just falls off? Does it get too heavy, too ridiculous, too painful? I don't know. What I do know is that there comes a point when there is no one left to blame--not even oneself--in the vast, empty space of one's own being, in which purposes and distractions rise and fall like the grass, through seasons which pass more and more quickly.

Here I am in the whirling year (oh my god, it's June, already?!), and I wake up in the middle of the night as I turn over into the cold side of the bed. Before the first thought manages to surface, I feel myself, somewhere, to be in pain. I pull a pillow into my stomach and try to go back to the sweet peace of unconsciousness. But the silence is heavy, my heart is heavier, and I'm too tired to think my way out of it.

Now, this is an ideal situation, and deep down, I know it. I recognize this demon as one I've never befriended, that will sit on me until I die if I don't get into where it lives, if I don't accept this invitation.
Oh...the surrender is almost instantaneous. Oh, the pain is intense! It's like a room that dwarfs me, as if I've fallen into a forbidden void...I just breathe, and wait. I find that I want to see what comes, and so, it does...grief, sadness, and fear...not of a final thing, like death, but of more monuments to grief and sadness. There is an ocean of them, built by me, and then built by all of humankind. The pain is too vast to be personal. Everything, as a matter of fact, is too vast to be personal!

I look into this feeling in my heart, in my body, circulating through the local and the universal, and find it rising and falling in a familiar fashion, like notes in a song. The grief and fear are brief and lovely, perfectly formed, only to dissolve in that slippery way that all forms have. It doesn't matter, I realize, how many of these memories and monuments I build. They are already gone, and I can't hang on to them to save my life. Something has unclenched. I find myself in state of gratitude for the impermanence of life, the fullness of it. Not a discreet, objective state of gratitude, but an active explosion of gratitude, an awestruck participant in this throwing up and tearing down of feeling-forms.

Loneliness has naturally transformed into a spontaneous beauty that sadness can't mar in any way. It isn't that some quality has been added to ease the pain--it's that nothing can be added or lost (even the belief in gaining or losing). What sort of being is this that can think, feel, believe, disbelieve, learn, unlearn, so permanent in its flux? An inalienable human, being deeply.

I don't sleep the rest of the night, as the demon has become a sort of muse, whose depths are fascinating. There is no regret over the length of time this complex relationship with "alone" has taken to develop. I realize, also, that voluntary solitude is a rough, uncommitted sketch, a thin layer between here and nowhere, the familiar tip of a giant iceberg barely showing above the waves. Further exploration is always called for. I love it, and I love you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Freedom Cells

 At the dentist's office the other day with my son, I learned that he needs a complicated and expensive procedure to rebuild and crown one of his precious teeth (he was born with only a few adult tooth buds). His insurance refused to cover the job. (My desert-like bank account can't cover it, either.)

While the dentist was finishing the exam, I sat in the waiting room and did a bunch of futile math in my head. I ran through several grim scenarios, lots of inner tantrums, and ended in intense weariness. The last couple of years have been very stormy, and it's easy to generalize, to see a mentally turbulent ride everywhere I look. I sighed, and decided to walk across the street for a cup of coffee.

The office is on the edge of a quiet residential neighborhood, so traffic at midmorning is very light. Somewhere in the middle of my diagonal negotiation of the road, my stressed thinking simply ceased, and I dropped into a spread-out awareness. All at once, there were dusky-edged clouds in the blue sky, a magenta Japanese maple to my right, and a whistling gas station attendant to my left. I felt my feet in their trusty gray running shoes, flexing through each step. I caught my own heartbeat, and simple contentment and renewed curiosity flooded across the world.

Literally seconds before, I was locked in the eddies of my head--searching, searching for a solution to a problem, swamped in the kind of melancholy that happens with the admission that, yes, this is a big wall to be backed up against, because my autistic son still depends on me, and always will, in some fashion. A form of grace, I suppose, pulled awareness out of the symbolic existential realm, and into the pure "nowness" of the body. Actually, I have no idea how. But the shift and the immediate comparison of one state to the other was startlingly clear.

By the time I reached the parking lot of the minute-market a few moments later, sweetness was rising up my throat and through my eyes. I felt every detail of my body in motion--my breath deepening, my shoulders relaxing, the child-animal unfurling. Yes, I am lapsing into poetry, because it's the only way to articulate what happens when attention diffuses like a cascade through the entirety of the physical being, and every nerve ending takes on the intimate "soft gaze" of clarity. This, my friends, is why a body!

The sweetness lasted through a good part of the rest of the day. It never fails to astonish, and I have learned the futility of trying to "keep" the sensation (as if it was something apart from me). The more relaxed I am, the longer it stays, and the longer it stays, the more relaxed I am. Migrating into problem-solving tends to push it into the background, so that it plays very softly. Should I get caught up in the noise of worry, I catch myself acting as if "now" isn't here.

Thought, and attention therein, is a deeply ingrained habit for me; it serves me well, some of the time. Over the years, I've learned that intellectual insight can be blindingly wonderful--blinding, in the sense that it brings a feeling of power, of mastery, and a temporary sense of security. I've noticed that all deep thinkers have the potential to take this "intellectual path", in the same way that one can take a meditative path, a path of service, or a devotional path. One can think to the end of the chain, until everything is investigated right back into itself, like a maze. But intellectual insight is akin to running into a dead end and believing that this, finally, is the way out. The dead ends prove nothing, except to point out that, hey, you are a-mazing! Of course, this may be a close-to-the-end point--the maze is something "you" construct and get lost in...why?

The question "why" is only productive if it leads into the emotional realm, the deeply denied and feared place. Intellectually provided answers, such as "my parents were abusive", or "I didn't know any better" are pseudo-answers with limited value in maze-solving. The real answers lie like mysterious organisms in a thick layer of mud, breathing in an alien-seeming way, buried as they are. They are alive and waiting for their time in the sun, when they will be another creature entirely, with burial an intimate and necessary part of the life-cycle. The real answers are wordless, made of emotional tissue. One only knows them by feel. The only place to feel them, is--not through a thinking process--but in the tender, sensitive, rough-and-tumble body.

Alas, many of us are numb to (if not downright divorced from) our physicality. Herein lies vulnerability, after all, the place where, under our clothing, we are always naked. How can we trust a being through which desire burns like heat lightning, shame weighs like solidifying lava, and grief opens like a bottomless pit? We fear all this, some of us to the point of incessant anxiety. These states, these inner territories, exist--not to be ignored, pacified, avoided, or even acted upon--but explored and experienced in the fullness of what they are, as they occur. That's all. There's nothing to be done about them while they rattle, charge and echo off your walls. They are brief, beautiful and perfectly valid. What they show you is exactly what you need to know.

Being "in" oneself is as simple as paying attention to breathing, physical sensation, sensual messages to and from the entire body. It isn't easy for those who have been traumatized into habitual numbness, or who were given the message that feelings are shameful and not to be trusted--but, it is literally vital to learn the energy of your own territory, the place wherefrom life springs, the gate of consciousness. Staying "safe" and comfy in the library of the mind nets a lot of dusty facts, and keeps one far away from blissful immersion in your own dancing river. Even asceticism, the path of denying the body, leads one inevitably back into it.

No escape.

Please, fall in, fall down, fall in love with the source of love itself. Risk it. Trust it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Did You Hear?

It happens, sometimes, that a space opens in which I can indulge myself in some kind of sensual delight. Yesterday, it was a deep music-listening session, which is every bit as refreshing and insightful as sitting in a soundproof room. I am paying attention more and more, these days, because I feel that venturing far (even only once in a while) is relevant to a full life, and telling the story sparks an awareness and memory in other minds.

Really listening to music (or a voice, or the world) is like opening a gate to a previously unknown land. I can stand near this opening and admire the skill of the musician, the placing of tones and silence like elements of a land(sound)scape, the mood and rhythm and poetry. This is a relatively "safe" position, in which my active inner voice can critique the art, imagining itself objective. 

I can venture in a bit more, and begin to encounter the energy of the piece--the local weather, the strength of current. There is some rawness and uncertainty there, where preconceptions begin to fall apart and my own edges biodegrade. There is a pull to "go native" and walk deeper into my own not-knowing. Answering that call is agreeing to encounter the strange and powerful Eden of in motion, directly experienced...the ride, in all its highs, lows, curves and pits, pulling memories along like cars I can step into and examine in a different light. This is the danger and excitement that keeps most people away, back behind a fence. It's also the place of true opening and resolution, of break-it/make-it. 

Stepping into such sonic complexity reveals something very simple--the actual space and nature of myself.

I notice that notes, sounds and voids are rising, bursting, washing through me...that they come from me, for me, each a personality full and complete and unafraid to be itself in the silence and chorus of other perfect voices. I no longer have edges. I no longer protect myself, though the heights are still dizzying and the depths just as inky. Somehow I survive all this bursting and dying. I realize that the colors and forms of these melodies are endless, and that in this deep space, they weave themselves into amazing constructs for my enjoyment. I watch as swelling sounds explode skyward as the petals of a flower, born from a spiral of joy...pure, pure joy. They are color, they are light, texture and taste divine! This is the land of predistinction, the place of crossed languages, where no analogy is necessary and genuine generosity is bathed in. "Oh my god" can't touch this free-flowing awe.

And...this is what I am.

How simple, how simple is that?

I am nothing but the capacity, the overflowing potential for song, and would still be if "I" chose to step out in front of an oncoming train. This is THE experience. Fear doesn't get any scarier, excitement any more exciting than this. So "I" rest. I understand that I can do nothing but let go down here, and that any attempt to fight it is a source of confusion, if the very struggle itself is not seen as the beautiful and temporary condition that it actually is. To really let go is to see. To see is to really let go. Things deepen.

All of this from intent listening...and the same (but flavored differently) through any other sensual gateway...which all have one thing in common: the nameless, tasteless, utterly transparent this.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Active Beauty

Eventually, I'm going to write a book on what it is to be a "Sensual Contemplative". I adopted the description immediately upon reading the following passage from my friend James Corrigan's book, An Introduction To Awareness, while in the bathtub one morning:

It is interesting to note that so-called Transcendentalists--poets, essayists, and philosophers--have historically been the most minutely detailed and intimately connected observers of, and celebrants of, life; rather than the most geekish analyzers of its 'transcendental' structure. One thinks of a Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, or Dickenson, not as engineers hard-pressed to reverse-engineer existence, but rather deeply contemplative and sensual individuals who wanted nothing more than to savor and celebrate the intricate flavors of, and their curiosity toward, existence. Their goal was not to "get to the bottom" of it, but to fully engage it, in contradistinction to those around them who saw themselves as separate and apart from "Nature".

I remember getting an "aha" chill from my head to my toes, in spite of the hot water. Never mind all the distinguished company--I knew I had found the taste of my own calling in James' adjectives. Full engagement does seem to be the point of living, here.

Writing about it is sometimes incredibly difficult. A million repeated attempts still can't capture the essence of This in its entirety--all I do is split myself a million times--and a certain astonishing loveliness lies in the fact that I can do just that, and remain whole.

I'll save the most juicy stuff for that book. But beauty has been much on my mind, so let me do a quick, loose sketch...

Sensuality is "bodying" in awareness, of and with all available senses. Sensuality is commonly associated with "sexuality" (the advertised variety), and although everything sexual is indeed included in what I am trying to describe, there is a deeper, wider field of experience in which genitalia are but minor conduits of erogenous energy. The world, in fact, is full of an intimacy both erotic and altruistic, desiring and giving at once, born when one is willing to be a union of total fullness and utter individuation.

There is heightened physical sensation, as well as deep sensitivity to shifting thought/feeling arising in and through cells and organs. I think of this motion as a sort of energetic language, in which all elements of oneself are in flowing communication--local physical organism, environment, and beyond--as far "out" or "in" as one is willing to extend. Boundaries between the sense-pathways loosen, and a kind of synesthesia (joining of senses) can happen.

Contemplation is far more than thinking or mentally processing data. It is intricately entwined with sensuality in that it is actively listening, tasting and opening within the field, the entire presence of self-in-moment. It dilates and contracts like the pupil of an eye, effortlessly, unplanned. Logical thought happens, a pale shadow of the larger intuition and cross-languaging going on. Ideas appear, but always shimmering with the countless threads connecting them to everything else. Contemplating is being completely present to what is. What is, in spite of all the varying elements, is one, incredibly obvious non-thing.

A "sensual contemplative" could simply be a human with a superhighway between the left and right hemispheres of the brain...or a mystic shaken out of the slumber of illusion...or a madwoman. All of these descriptions seem apt at one time or another. None of them can touch the act, the fact, the sacrifice and celebration of being, here. The point of all this deep feeling is the sheer beauty of it. Beauty is always the "trigger", the attraction, the embrace.

Again, I'm speaking of a different order of beauty than smoothness, symmetry, or waist-to-hip ratio. I'm talking about the sensation and awareness of beauty that precedes and outlives a judgment call. I'm talking about the gorgeousness that is literally in the eye of the beholder, a touch so deep that one is what one sees, hears, feels, smells--"I" and "That" express the same beauty...which is, after all, what we are. It is an active, dynamic principle, rather than a static wish or image "over there".

Full engagement--with suffering, joy, humanity, spirit--happens when I am subsumed in this beautiful ongoing stream, where the past is gone but always here, transforming, and the future never but always here, transforming. The motion is so eternal that it's still. The space behind is so vast that it allows for a perfectly earthy, intimately felt sense of location that I tend to call "me". How can this be? I don't know.