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.
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.
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.
A couple of days ago I wrote about hosting a rather chaotic party “Surviving a Whirlpool”. The next day a wallet was missing which contained a lot of important info. After searching the house from top to bottom, I emailed those in attendance to ask if anyone had seen the wallet during the night and where I thought it had been located.
Most responded with beliefs of what could have happened to it based on what they remembered that night. It even escalated into stories about who would have had a motive to steal it and how it could have been done. Each story led me to a new place to look for the wallet so I spent most of the day searching. On the second day I started believing the story that it had been stolen which led to all kinds of mental images of the crime.
This morning it was found inside a shoe, nothing missing, just lying there waiting to be found. I guess how it got there really doesn’t matter and still remains a mystery.
This incident reminded me that in order to make sense of a mystery the mind forms beliefs, opinions and stories in an effort to understand and before you know it the beliefs become so strong they are perceived as reality. We all had created quite the drama around the missing wallet.
So now that we solved the mystery of the wallet, what happens to all the stories and beliefs about it that seemed so real? I guess when you find the Truth, you just have to forget about any stories or beliefs that got you there and let them go….
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…..
The most common spiritual inquiry question “Who Am I?” has been a question of mine since I can remember. Not because of spiritual inquiry but because of wondering what my name really should be. I was named after my father whose name was Harry Carl so the closest female version of that name was …Harriett Carlyn. The label was strictly a namesake because no one ever called me by either name. At some point the “o” was put in the middle name making it the more commonly known name of Carolyn. After that, my label changed many times throughout my life. I just counted seven different forms of identity in my wallet all with different names. This display of aliases has created problems for me at times especially in airports.
Maybe that’s what started my spiritual quest of trying to discover who I really am. I always envied people who were given a name at birth and have never known any other label. It seemed they always knew who they were and I was always wondering. So now that I’m on this road to “no-self” I can finally stop wondering who I am…and just be whatever name pops out of my wallet that day.
How many names would each spiritual seeker have if they changed their name with each shift in perception or with each “Aha” moment? After so many changes the names that identify us would become meaningless…
The Witness has been my identity for the last several years. When I became aware of her I grasped her like a long lost friend and she has been with me ever since. She could be watchful of thoughts, people and things from a distance staying disconnected..being a spectator. I was quite proud and happy that I had her…seeing this as an advancement of my spiritual growth.
It is with regret that I have come to realize that she came just to take over the role of my previous identity. Although she has helped me make great strides in self realization, she has now made me aware that she too represents a separate self and needs to go. She has been a true friend and guide and I don’t want to let her go….maybe I’ll just call on her when needed rather than cutting it off completely…hard to say goodbye.
“Selfy” pics are popular nowadays…Everyone loaded with cameras ready to take pictures of themselves. Today is my birthday and I decided to update my profile pic since I do use it for some sites and it’s been at least a couple years since I took a pic of myself. I got myself cleaned up, did my hair and makeup and started taking some Selfy pics.
It occurred to me how important these “selfy” pics must be to me. I took pics in different lightening, smiled, no smile, messed with my hair, deleted most of them. I was laughing at myself most of the time because I’m totally engrossed in this study of no-self and at the same time taking a pic of myself seems to be a very serious task.
I’m trying to get a picture of that person I “imagine” myself to be. No wonder it’s so hard to capture. I couldn’t quite get the camera to see the person that I have in my minds eye…that’s it exactly….she only exists in my minds eye…
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.