At this time of year I’m reminded of the time I took my young daughter with me for a quick visit to a funeral home…not really anyone she knew so I didn’t think it would have an impact. On the way home she became tearful and said she didn’t want to die. Not anticipating this at such a young age, I began searching my mind for something I could use to comfort her that she would understand….the Easter story came to mind.
We were not church goers but the preschool had been teaching the Easter story so I knew she would be familiar with it. When I told her about the resurrection and that Jesus really didn’t die but came back again in a different form, I could see the tension in her face leave as she contemplated the whole story. It was enough to comfort her and dissolve some of the fear…after all everyone she trusted was telling the same story.
What this incident reminds me of is the significance of stories for things that are fearful and unexplainable. Some keep the same beliefs throughout their lives and are comforted by them with no desire to change the story line. I have changed my comfort story many times throughout my life….even realizing they are comfort stories can create another story.
With things that are unexplainable, the best we can do is in the form of stories, metaphors or pointers. I can get caught up in arguing the validity of certain stories but at this time of year I am again reminded that it probably doesn’t matter about the content of the story because in the end it’s all about the comfort of the recipient.
The holidays are about over and once again I went past the point of enjoyment into the realm of overwhelmed. Cooking is not my favorite thing so it doesn’t take long for resentment of spending so much time in the kitchen to show up.
This time I spent a lot of that kitchen time thinking of my grandmother, Chana Mae, who was an exceptional cook. She was a young widow in the early 1950’s and took a job as a cook on a large farm cooking for farm hands. The owner let her have some chickens and she became an entrepreneur with a thriving egg business.
My memories this Christmas had to do with her cooking Christmas and other holiday dinners for her family. She had to be a master organizer because everything was made from scratch…including catching the chickens for dinner. Besides a big dinner there were several homemade pies, whipped toppings, cakes and candy. I wondered if she felt overwhelmed…if she resented the time spent in the kitchen. If so she never let on, I always felt it was done out of love and she enjoyed it.
So my memories of Chana Mae in her large farm kitchen carried me through the holidays. I reminded myself that it was my choice to spend time in the kitchen preparing food as gifts. When I attended gatherings where people unpacked their purchased goods to share (some with the store sticker and price still attached) I thought of Chana Mae and how much time, effort and love she put into her gifts of food.
I wish I could be more like my grandmother this time of year but just having the memories of her gifts of love-filled food is enough…..and as every other year after the holidays I say “I’m never doing all that again!”.
I usually don’t have a particular intention during meditation but today I had the intention to understand my next step in this spiritual journey. I feel like I’m jumping around again between different teachers seeing the sameness in all their teachings. I put out this intention…didn’t get an answer so I quit meditating early with a bit of an attitude. The attitude was one of feeling discouraged wondering if I will ever be content to just “be”.
I sporadically keep a journal. I picked it up and read about a dream I had almost exactly a year ago to the day. I was trying to find a connection at a train station. I was running around trying to find the next train, up and down stairs, in elevators and then a man appears in a chair with wheels and says he knows the way and to hop in. It was uncomfortable fitting in the chair with him at first but I got settled in and we flew through the station quickly. I remember the relieve of giving up looking on my own and letting him navigate. I don’t remember if we made it because the next thing I remember is looking at him from a distance and he was eating chocolates not worrying about catching the train at all. Then I started judging whether he was the right one to lead me after all and the anxiety started again.
Well, here I am a year later still looking for the next train. But now I finally realize why I never want to stop seeking or looking for the next train. If I stop seeking I’m afraid of going back to sleep again and living my little mechanical life outside of awareness.
My spiritual life has always been a priority for me and I try to keep it strong because my little life has never seemed as important to me as my spiritual life. It came to me that I need to switch that notion and make my little life a priority because that is what is..right now. It’s not attached to the next teacher or to the cushion. This is one of the common threads in most teachings but now I may be actually getting it.
I’ll have to remind myself (probably often) that the fear of going backward and living that mechanical life outside of awareness is not possible because my hope is that once it’s seen… it cannot be unseen. My next step is to realize that my little life is what is important….living it within awareness is the practice.
I guess maybe having an intention during meditation is a good thing after all.
I started this blog when I began the process of retiring from the search and I have to admit that over the last year there has still been more seeking than non-seeking going on. Nonduality has been my focus and naturally coming out of that is a different kind of seeking, the seeking of direct experience or direct inquiry.
I still hold the assumption that there is someone in here experiencing things and people out there. I have accomplished being the witness of thoughts and things (most of the time) but now what is behind the witness has been my question. Direct experience may be what will eventually replace the witness but letting the witness go is difficult and requires a shift in perception.
This shift in perception reminds me of illusionary art called stereograms where a 3D image is hidden within a drawing and you can only see the hidden image if you learn to re-focus your gaze. When you finally see it, it magically appears out of nothing. Most instructions tell you not to focus on the picture but fix your gaze beyond it. I was never good at finding the hidden images.
I recently reintroduced myself to the teachings of Francis Lucille which led me to again consider the Direct Path experiments by Greg Goode. Maybe the timing is right to get down to some serious direct experience investigation so a few days ago I started the experiments which seem to be similar to learning to look through the illusion and see the hidden images.
The first experiment in the Direct Path involves the perception of hearing because it’s supposed to be the easiest. During the experiment of ringing a bell, at first the sound still seems to be coming from the object of the bell and I can’t get past that. Looking closer…since I am to use only the sense of hearing I just hear the sound without the interpreter telling me that the sound is coming from a bell. Maybe that’s it…my direct experience is that hearing is just happening with or without the use of an interpreter.
One experiment down and 39 more to go….This could be intense but I’ll keep you posted. If there is anyone else out there who has already been on this part of journey and the hidden image in the picture has appeared, please let me know.
There’s supposed to be a shark hidden in here somewhere…I can’t see it yet.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
I think about the mind a lot, who is doing the thinking and it’s relationship to the brain. There are numerous concepts about the Universal Mind or Universal Consciousness used by different paths regarding the role that mind plays in self realization. It all gets very complicated and the terminology of the different paths make it even more difficult. But then, that’s the way the mind likes to work, to try to understand everything and figure out complex concepts and is part of what keeps the seeker seeking.
Like many, my first exposure to eastern thought was “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Yogananda frequently uses the analogy of a radio when talking of the mind. You can have a radio that works perfectly but it does nothing without some kind of energy source. Even when the perfect radio is plugged in to an energy source it’s still worthless without being tuned into a particular station or frequency. Only static exists if it is not tuned into exactly where the frequency can be picked up. Our bodies are also electrical devices and consciousness is providing the energy source to keep everything going.
I worked for a short time in a mental institution on a closed ward of severely emotionally disturbed patients who had been hospitalized most of their lives. They were totally in their own reality which was just as real to them as ours is to us. It could be the hardware (brain) or software (mind) not functioning properly but regardless, they were tuned into the wrong station to be functional in our society and there didn’t seem to be any way to help them change the station.
All of us have the problem of slipping off the station of our true reality and living on the static fringe of our perceived reality. I like to think that most of us have the ability to keep fine tuning our radio until we have the clearest station we can get….and maybe that’s what seeking is all about.
“O Lord, with the soft touch of intuition I will tune my soul radio and rid my mind of static restlessness, that I may hear Thy voice of cosmic vibration, the music of atoms, and the melody of love vibrating in my superconsciousness.” ~ P. Yogananda
I always think of the women who are not mothers on Mother’s Day. I was not a mother until I was 41 years old so I spent many a Mother’s Day helping others celebrate their motherhood.
Not having children didn’t bother me in my 20s, no need to hurry although some of my friends were beginning to join the motherhood group. In my late 30s I began to realize that I may go through my life without children. I was once told that having children was a blessing and not having children was to live by grace. I didn’t understand that at the time and thought it was an attempt to make me feel better about my perceived lack caused by not being a mother.
Having experienced both being a mother and many years not being a mother, I can say that motherhood may be a more direct path to realizing unconditional love. I was always searching for unconditional love and thought I’d experienced it a few times but now it’s evident that I didn’t have to search for it, it was given to me. Whether you are a mother or not, unconditional love is a gift. You don’t need to search for it because it’s magically there at any time…..waiting to be accepted as a gift.