Every year I host our family Christmas party. We have a large family with over 35 people attending bringing food and presents. I have hosted and attended many gatherings of that size and if planned correctly they can result in some sort of organized chaos. Not this event…no matter how much I plan, it seems to end up being a totally “unorganized” chaos. I don’t know if this comes from one of my control issues or if it’s just the dynamics of this particular group. Since most seem to enjoy themselves I’m assuming it is likely my perception of unorganized chaos.
I try to prepare myself for dealing with the chaos and see it as a test of my centering practice. All I have to do is find my center and enjoy the show….but this never happens, not even for a moment. Most of the year I spend time in self realization, self inquiry, meditation and other various spiritual practices…so what good is it if it can all be erased in four hours?
It’s as if I have forgotten everything and am totally immersed in a whirlpool of activity that leaves me exhausted and wondering what exactly happened. What to do when caught in a whirlpool? I know nothing of whirlpools but after a little investigation it seems they are unavoidable if you’re following the flow of the river. The best you can do is to just deal with it for a while and then it releases you back into the flow. Doesn’t do much good to plan for it….
“Managing Whirlpools” by Ken Whiting (World Champion Kayaker)
“In many cases whirlpools can be totally unpredictable and pop up in front of you unexpectedly. Fortunately there is a way of dealing with them if you can’t miss them. You can actually enter the whirlpool and use its energy to your advantage to get through it……If you fight the whirlpool’s current, you’ll get sucked into its maw……unfortunately the only way to really develop your comfort level with whirlpools is to play around in them.”
Modified excerpt from “The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Kayaking”
Thinking of the word and concept of freedom today. We fight for freedom and lives are lost for the sake of freedom. This holiday is all about our nation’s fight for freedom.
In my daily spiritual practice, the word freedom is used in almost everything I read or hear. Freedom from the bondage of the separate self, freedom from suffering, freedom from nagging useless thoughts.
The meaning of freedom is “not being confined, exempt from external control or release from bondage“. So the battle for freedom can be fought on two levels. What is obvious is the battle for freedom in the external world. Not so obvious is the internal battle that might be going on for many….except for those who are now engaged in or have been engaged in this battle.
I never really thought of it as a battle since spirituality is all about non-violence even though most spiritual writings use the metaphor of a battle to bring home the point. The point being, if you really want freedom be prepared to give it your all and be brave because in the end you realize that the biggest battle of all …..is being able to surrender.
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.
For those of us who are seekers or ex-seekers, the word Home is one of those words used in an effort to relate a state of Being. I’ve looked up the definition of Home and some I liked were:
- A place where one dwells permanently.
- Social unit formed by a family living together.
- An environment offering affection and security.
Our physical home may or may not fit those definitions but almost everyone has their own concept of the word Home. I like the last word of the first definition…”permanently”. In a world of impermanence, we could use the word Home interchangeably with the Absolute (where one dwells permanently). You are already Home…it’s not about how to get there, not about waiting for it to open its doors and welcome you in.
The word homesick is defined as “sad or depressed from a longing for home while away from it for a long time”. When we are not present, we all suffer from homesickness which can manifest in many forms with the symptoms and cures being discussed and analyzed endlessly.
I’ve read that your physical home is a reflection of your inner home. Now that’s an interesting concept. Is it aesthetically appealing, is it secure, is it chaotic, does it need attention, is it in need of repair? If it is perfect in every way, are you content?
“Home is where the heart is”. The earliest author given credit for that quote is Pliny the Elder AD 23-79. I guess none of this is exactly a new concept.
I’ve been a pray-er for as long as I can remember. As soon as I became aware that there was a power in charge and there was a possibility of a direct line to that power, I was all in.
Who I pray to and how I pray has taken different forms throughout the years depending on the spiritual practice I was involved in at the time. I’ve gone from simple praying to a personal God figure for help to a more cerebral kind of praying to a scientific quantum level of connectedness.
Praying to myself seemed strange so I used the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” during meditation which means I honor the divinity within myself. However, that also plays to the illusion of calling forth something for guidance and help that is hiding out someplace waiting for permission to show up. Now that I’m drawn to nonduality…who am I praying to?
Even tho prayer is not a major part of my life like it once was, I still like the connectedness and need to stop analyzing it and just enjoy the silent conversation….with whatever it is….
I never understood the Christian idea of original sin and the concept that we are all sinners until I heard a theology professor interpret sin as simply a pulling away from God. Through our human conditioning, we perceive ourselves as separate individuals and lose touch with our connection to Oneness which causes suffering.
To use the much over-used metaphor of the wave and the ocean, we could say that when we are only aware of being the wave, that could be interpreted as living in sin. When we are aware that we are the entire ocean perceiving ourselves as the wave, we are saved.
For the last few weeks I have not been able to do some of my regular spiritual practices or reading and find that I feel more like an isolated wave than the ocean. Things don’t seem quite right. I’m aware that my thinking is different, my body feels more tense, my mind works overtime and my peace is fading.
Does it take constant vigilance and effort to ride the wave and enjoy the ride? At some point shouldn’t the ride become effortless?
The definition of sin is a transgression or violation of divine law. The story goes that we are all born with original sin, there is no escape unless we receive the holy spirit (or whatever the tide-turning event may be).
As a seeker I guess I have been looking for the holy spirit in one form or another….calling it many names. Maybe the answer is just to accept that the nature of a wave is to appear to be separate from the ocean on the surface….underneath there is no difference.
Sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite. I see myself as a spiritual person, a seeker possessing some clarity and think I have life in perspective. All this is easy and flowing when my life is easy and flowing. It’s when life brings me difficult situations that I pull out all of the tricks in my “awareness/enlightenment bag”.
I’m in a difficult situation now caring for a parent and all thoughts unpleasant are arising from the past. I want to be the spiritual me and see the situation as growth, a challenge, opportunity, practice, learning compassion, staying with the here and now, integrating the past, acceptance, what is. All the words and concepts help when I’m away from the situation but when I am immersed in it….they are not to be found. Emotions are set in the default mode and don’t respond to reason.
During these times I want to whip out my bag of tricks to help get to a place of peace and clarity. I need to meditate, I need to do more yoga, I need to drink alkaline water, I need to eat more organic foods, I need to stay in the here and now, the past does not define me….anything to help.
Maybe the conditionings of the past will never leave…maybe this is who I really am…and the spiritual me is the illusion. These are the thoughts that scare me the most.