I sometimes do a Vision Board Collage or Treasure Map for the New Year instead of just a list of goals. Last year I made two Vision Boards. They were somewhat different but on both I had drawn a tree with leaves pointed upward with sparks shooting out.
Throughout the year I would look at the boards and wonder what was significant about that tree. A few months ago the story of the burning bush came to mind and since I’m not familiar with the Bible, I googled the symbol of the burning bush, read a little about it and then forgot about it until today.
Reading something spiritual first thing in the morning is my routine. While reading this morning my mind was wandering thinking about doing a Vision Board this year and then thought of my burning bush drawing again. My mind went back to reading my book, I turned the page on my Kindle and couldn’t believe the next thing I read…..
“Do you want to have an epiphany? Do you want to stand in front of the burning bush? Here’s my burning bush…..” I love these moments of synchronicity and know it must be important to be so obvious.
Before these words, the author was talking about clearing your mind to order to be able to follow the voice or intuition. That’s when it all came together for me. In the story the burning bush was the voice of God talking to Moses. Moses didn’t want to listen, seemed crazy to listen to a voice coming out of a bush. He resisted several times but eventually listened to the voice and things did work out in the end.
If I take this as a message for me it would be to skip the same list of goals and resolutions I have every year, try to listen to my higher power and at the very least develop a better connection so that the voice becomes clearer.
It’s been a year today since I completed a “sort of” course called Liberation Unleashed. How I found out about it..I don’t remember exactly…..maybe through a long stream of events that started with Eckhart Tolle’s “New Earth”.
The whole idea to me revolves around the Zen concept of the Gateless Gate. It’s based on the notion that we all are looking for a way to find the Gate that will open up the path of peace, happiness with no suffering. We all look for a way to find that Gate and, more importantly, open it. When we finally realize that if there is a Gate at all that it is not locked, has no boundaries and can be freely crossed on either side or passed straight through without the least bit of effort….then we are “enlightened”.
To start the process, you are given a Guide who is a person who has already passed through the Gate so supposedly they will be able to lead you where you need to go. The Guide has only one goal…to help you realize that there is no separate self and never has been. Sounds simple but believe me, it’s far from it. The questions asked are meant to dissolve the thought that there is a separate little person inside your head running the show…..that there is no separate little person that is separate from all other people or things. That perceived separate little person is only a conglomerate of your past conditionings, feelings, your life story and exists in memory only.
If this is the first time you have been exposed to such a concept, it can be very unsettling and not accepted. When something awakens in you and you begin to be interested in this crazy notion, you have started your way to finding the Gateless Gate….which is no Gate at all.
I saw a poster on Facebook this week that said “Here we go again with that New Year – New You Bullshit”. I laughed out loud because every year I look forward to the prospect of creating a new me…or my idea of me. After all if “I” am an illusion, “I” should be possible to recreate, redesign and manifest things in my life according to my desires just as I would in a dream.
For five years I published a journal/calendar based on the notion that the new moon each month is the best time to recreate and redesign your life. It was like having a new year – new you possibility each month. I always had the same list of desires every month….a few things came about but for the most part the manifesting thing wasn’t working for me.
The illusionary “I” doesn’t change so easily being crusted with long forgotten past conditionings. What has changed is the awareness that “I” am not running the show.
Now it’s time for a new year and since I’m a sucker for new beginnings I’ll make my list of what I want to accomplish this year…..and hope that whoever is running the show is paying attention.
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.
Still thinking about yesterday’s post on what is important and being able to build your life around the answer. I said “my spirituality is most important….my relationship to spirit trumps all other relationships.”
I didn’t realize that until I typed it. Now I’m wondering about the choice of the word “Spirit”. The word comes from Latin meaning “breath”. Breath is certainly our invisible source of aliveness.
How can you have a relationship with aliveness? All religions and spiritual teachers mention an invisible unknown mystery to life and give it some sort of name. We all know that the names are endless for that which cannot be named. I guess Aliveness is as good a name as any, it doesn’t make your mind wrap around an object or make it personal.
It seems the only way I can have a meaningful relationship with Aliveness is to treat it like any other relationship that is important to me. Be attentive, listen, nurture it, don’t ignore it because of the constant bombardment of thoughts, appreciate it…..love it.
I’ve only been blogging for a year and not very consistently. Inspiration to write ebbs and flows for me. I just reviewed all of the blogs I’ve done and most relate to my journey down the nonduality path. I just completed the Liberation Unleashed process where the only goal is to help with the realization that there is no personal self….that’s it…nothing else. All other spiritual beliefs and concepts are put away temporarily so that the focus is only on direct experience.
There is only one person outside of the blogosphere who knows of my spiritual journey and that I am involved in the LU process. Not that I want it to be kept secret…exactly the opposite. I am excited to share my insights but I honestly don’t know where to begin the discussion with anyone who has never heard of the no self concept. My knowledge of it has progressed over the years going from one path to the next and the different concepts all linked up together at some point.
I remember when I first became aware of the no self philosophy…it felt uncomfortable. I felt more comfortable keeping the personal self in a separate compartment I called the ego, small self, lower self or a “little me” in the background not to be confused with “my higher self” hanging out somewhere above my head. There seemed to be two parts of me each taking turns being in charge.
Realizing that the little me in the background doesn’t exist and never has existed takes some honest looking. Maybe for some it’s a spiritual awakening happening in a flash but for me it has been a slow process that started two years ago backed up by 25 years of spiritual seeking.
I still don’t know if any awakening happened….I have no expectations of enlightenment….realization is a better word I suppose. Nothing really changes….just a clearer lens to look through.
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”
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 walked a large outside labyrinth this weekend. I had never walked an outside labyrinth nor one this large. I was the only one walking so I walked a moderate pace and it took 45 minutes. It was in an open field with a narrow uneven mowed down path in grass and wildflowers that were knee-high. At the beginning I was thinking of the history of the labyrinth dating back to 4500 BC showing up in every culture around the world and the mystery of it all.
Then I started thinking about the correct “procedure” of walking the labyrinth, was I walking too fast, too slow, this is walking meditation, I need to stop thinking so much, how much longer until I reach the center? All the same things that happen during regular meditation. After about ten minutes this mental activity slowed down and I began to notice how many crickets there were on the path, and butterflies and all the different kinds of flowers.
Then I became interested in my destination and started looking ahead trying to see the center but I couldn’t tell where it was because of the tall grass. I could only see about four feet in front of me…I couldn’t look ahead.. all I could do was follow the path because I knew it would lead to the center eventually. When I got to the center I thought maybe there would be something there to symbolize the end of the journey, even just a candle or something….there was nothing. I stood there for a moment but didn’t have the desire to stay for any long length of time contemplating so I headed out on the same path out of the center.
I noticed that the walk out of the center was a little faster pace and easier for some reason. I hadn’t noticed earlier that the walk into the center seemed harder and longer but now noticed that walking in the uneven terrain was much easier. I stopped and looked back at the center a couple of times but again I couldn’t see it when I looked back. Then all of a sudden the path opened up and I was done. That was definitely meditation in motion…..
There is a birdhouse on my patio that contained four baby sparrows. Three left the nest and I missed their exit. Now there is one all alone in the house and I’m determined to witness it leaving the nest.
The only way the loner knows there is something more outside is when it hears “The Call”. This Call is different from any other bird call in the yard and I can recognize it even if I’m away from the patio. The Call from the mother is relentless. She gives the Call and then goes to the opening to feed it and repeats this routine most of the day so that the Call will be associated with something wonderful coming from the outside. When the mother leaves for a while you can hear a faint calling coming from inside the box because now it’s known there is something wonderful outside of the box but the sparrow is not yet brave enough to venture out and find it.
This Call and response routine went on for two days. At one time there was a community of at least ten sparrows flying up to the birdhouse trying to coax it outside. I’m ready to give up myself but have invested so much time now I don’t want to miss the finale.
Today I saw it venture out of the box. The young sparrow poked its head out of the hole and then back in again several times. There were no other sparrows on the patio for guidance …the exit team had taken a break and everything was quiet. It looked out one more time but this time without any hesitation took a final leap, flew across the patio and into a nearby tree. I saw at least twenty sparrows fly out of the tree a few seconds later and together they all flew to the next tree. I couldn’t see the young sparrow in the distance but assume it is now flying in its new world outside the box.
Would the bird have taken the leap of faith without ever hearing the Call? Probably survival instincts would have eventually forced it out into the world but certainly it must be easier if the Call is heard and more importantly….if it is answered.