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 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…..
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.
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.
This morning there was a broad-winged hawk sitting on the back fence. I kept an eye on him while I was busy in the kitchen and after an hour realized he must be patiently waiting for the little chipmunk that travels back and forth from the shed to the bird feeders.
Yesterday two bloggers I follow had written on the art of waiting, “The Path of Waiting” and “Relaxed Resistance” so I was already contemplating the practice of mindful waiting. Now here I am watching the patience of the hunter in action. The only movement was the turning of his head almost in a complete circle. I noticed there were no birds at the feeders, there were no small critters running around, all probably waiting for him to leave. Two hours went by, he had not moved and continued to wait.
I became interested in what type of hawk this was, so I called up my bird app and stood at the window with binoculars identifying markings, reading about its habits and what it eats. When I glanced down at my tablet, I heard a thump, looked up and saw a red cardinal hit the window. Coming up behind the cardinal was the hawk showing a huge wing span and within two feet of me grabbed it with both feet and flew off. He carried it to the fence, landed for a moment, then took off into the woods.
A two-hour wait would have seemed excessive to me but I’m sure the hawk didn’t have to worry about keeping a clear mind, being anxious with anticipation or have any impatient thoughts about when this would be over ….all he had to do was wait.
I had just watched the master of waiting, the champion of patience and his reward….but my heart went out to the cardinal.