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My Brother – The Guide

The last time I blogged here my mother had passed away. It’s been a year since my younger brother passed away suddenly and totally unexpected. He had guided my mother through her passing the year before. He was a crisis care Hospice nurse and he was good at it. His life’s work was guiding people toward that unknown path.  I would guess that he guided literally hundreds of people through their last journey.

When it came his time, he didn’t have a Guide.  He didn’t need one. He took off without waiting for a Guide…it was a familiar path for him.  He took off totally alert, watching the process and I’m sure that’s the way he would have wanted it.

I wish I would have had more time to discuss his death and dying experiences during his career.  What I do know is that he talked about “the mystery” and that there are no answers until you walk the Path yourself. He seemed okay with the mystery of it all.   What I’m trying to learn from him is to accept that some things are just unknown to us and to be content with just being in awe of the mystery.  Working on it….Still miss him everyday.

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She Passed Away

My mother passed away a year ago today October 7, 2017.   “Passed Away” is a common term used when someone dies. There doesn’t seem to be a definition for who or what is passing away. This is my account of witnessing the passing away.

My mother was 92 when she “passed” and had been in failing health for a few months but mentally still sharp as a tack.  She was a strong woman with a strong personality and since I inherited some of those qualities we would clash occasionally.  Not enough to strain our relationship but enough that we respected each other’s views when we disagreed.

She was in Hospice for the last few days.  There are many things I remember of those days but what remains in my mind is witnessing her personality slipping away the last three days when she stayed in bed, slept most of the day and then stopped responding to us. During that slipping away aspects of her personality began to leave until there was nothing left except her lying empty in bed in silence. My memories of any personality clashes of the past were also passing away and now a year later I cannot find them at all.  However, there are many vivid happy memories that will always remain.

While witnessing this gradual removal of the mask of the personality it became clear that we will all have a mask to leave behind. When the mask is gone the naked newborn we once were reappears again empty of any ideas, habits, behaviors or perceptions picked up along the way.

No matter what your beliefs of life after death, I believe I witnessed the mask of her personality pass away leaving a clean slate ready to do whatever it is we do next. This has made me more aware of how the outward personality is only a mask and what hides behind it is what is real. I am grateful and consider this experience her last gift to me.

 

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Chana Mae

 
 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!”.

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Unheard Words

My daughter and I were listening to songs to play for her upcoming wedding.  We were listening to several current songs that were remakes by string quartets.  We were listening to songs and thinking of the lyrics wanting the words to be appropriate as well as the music being good.  She played a song for me by one of her favorite local groups played by a string quartet and I really liked the melody.  I asked about the lyrics and she said she didn’t want me to know because they were “messed up” and not good.

We went on to listen to more songs but kept coming back to the same one. What she said next led me to write this blog. “I wish I could hear the music the way you are hearing it. Now that I’ve heard the words I cannot unhear them.” 

I thought about that statement on the way home and realized that the melody was beautiful to me because I didn’t have the words to label it…to conceptualize it…to make a story out of it.  I could only just hear the music.

As humans we need to label everything in our awareness in order to communicate what is perceived by our senses.  But sometimes it may be best to just enjoy the music without the words to tell the story attached to it.  The same could be said for enjoying life……

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Relationship or Connection?

Thinking more about the last post on the importance of my relationship with Aliveness. From a nonduality standpoint there is the question, “who is having the relationship”?  There must be two or more to have relationship. How can there be relationship if there is only One.

Looked up the definition of the word relationship and the ones I liked most were…. (1) The way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected. (2) The “sense” of being connected.

If I substitute the word “connection” for the word “relationship” a new understanding comes to light.  A true connection is not two separate things…but those separate things becoming one. All the different types of relationships come to mind such as family, friends, coworkers, casual, intimate and I look at them to determine if I feel connections or if I am relating as a separate self to their separate self. The second definition indicates that connection is a sensation or feeling.

I realize that most of my relationships are not connections but two or more sharing their separateness. I would like for that to be different and maybe that’s why a connection with Aliveness/Presence is important to me.  Although an open connection with others is probably…. absolutely… the exact same thing.

 

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Reality…In The Shadows?

I was vacuuming my bedroom, pulled out the bed stand and noticed a dark spot on the carpet.  Since I have a new puppy I went about my clean up routine, got the cleaner and rag and started scrubbing.  I did quite a bit of scrubbing and the spot would not come out of the carpet. I looked up to the top of the bed stand and realized that the spot I had been scrubbing was the shadow of an object on the table!  It was the shadow of a fly swatter!  How crazy is that?

I wouldn’t admit to this except that my immediate reaction was laughter and the old tale of the rope being mistaken for a snake went through my mind. But then looking deeper, I wondered how many other situations/objects do I mistake for reality?  For those few moments I was convinced I knew the reality of my purpose ….to clean the spot obviously made by the puppy.  When in reality all I had to do was remove the object producing the shadow and my problem was eliminated.  I wish I could remember that seeking the Truth is just as easy…..

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Tell me a Story

My stories have changed yet again even since last year when this was posted but the reasons for stories will never change.

The Retired Seeker

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…

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