January 5, 2014
Is our existence “fundamental”?
“Everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality.”
The self…”deep down basic whatever it is, and you’re all that, although you are pretending you’re not.”
(from Spirituality and Health)
There are lot of wonderful, fairly short videos on YouTube. I just “found” them and am thoroughly enjoying listening to them.
January 2, 2014
I am on a path to somewhere and the only thing I know is that I am here, now. But the moment that passed a blink ago seems to still be here and so do the events of a few days ago. The future, which hasn’t even happened yet, is also here…which is a great mystery. It feels as if the two things that are not here now, are having more impact on my thought process and physical body than what IS here now.
This is the stuff for “inquiry” for certain. But wait……certain? Is there such a thing?
I recently had two very different experiences. One was so subtle and opening….a glimpse at the mirror that contains no images. A breath of time that was an eternity. A hint of knowing that not knowing is all there is.
The other experience was like being hit by a Mack truck and dragged along for a bit of time. I still ache, mentally and physically.
Both are over and done with, but still “here.” One I want to erase and the other I want to escape into.
This moment right now I’m looking into a mirror that feels cracked and the images seem distorted. I see myself but I am contorted and fragmented.
In a minute I’ll turn off the computer and sit and be with this. Be present with only the moment. I’ll try to “let go of my worries and be completely clear-hearted.”
December 14, 2013
A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!” “It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly. A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!’ “It will pass,”
the teacher replied matter-of-factly.
I am not a student of Zen, but I find these short stories provocative.
We could and do put many things in a file subconsciously labeled “It will pass.” Often it may be more of a wish and hope than a fact. And we tend to carry the file around with us….never letting it go. We do not let it pass.
I teach young children and I often find myself offering snippets of advice to parents. A common thread is the joy or frustration a parent feels when their young child has “made a change in their routine.” No matter what, it is a cause for minor disruption as the family has to readjust their own schedules. Sometimes the family perceives the change as “good”, other times “difficult.”
I usually find myself offering, “Wait a bit, and it will change again.”
It will pass. Don’t hold on to it.
Our mind writes dramatic dialogue and gets stuck in one scene. The whole story is: as soon as the scene is over, it’s over. Now we are here. Just here.
It will change.
Just be here. Now.
Be with your meditation, your friend, your job, your life in the moment, for the moment. It is what it is right now. And it will pass.
November 5, 2013
I think we all have someone, or many someones, who we would refer to as a “teacher”.
Maybe your kindergartner teacher comes to mind. Or your minister, therapist, boss, friend, grandmother, father….
Some of these are spiritual teachers, life teachers, vocational teachers, educational teachers. Teachers, teachers everywhere.
” A true teacher is someone who can offer us a map,
a question, an insight,
or simply a listening presence that sparks a fire in us. “
I read something recently, and I will include the link at the end, that called into question the label of “teacher”, and the value, power, importance we place on that person. Sometimes we put them on a pedestal. Sometimes they put themselves on a pedestal.
But who IS a teacher? What is a teacher? How does someone become a teacher? Are we all teachers? Could we be? Should we be? Is a “teacher” finished being a “student”? Can they continue to learn from others?
What do you think? Who are the teachers in your life? What kind of teachers are they? Are they the kind of teacher that have some kind of piece of paper that says they are a “real” teacher, or have they become a teacher through life experiences? Do you view them as “different” from you, “better” than you, “smarter” than you? Do you regard them as someone “special” or “gifted”? Do you feel you could never be “as good a teacher” as they are?
Are you a “teacher”? To whom? About what? Do you think you’re “pretty special”? Do you feel as if you are a “student” too?
What happens when we stop being a student? What happens when we see ourselves as “above” someone else, or “better” than someone else?
I am a teacher and a student. Right now my most significant teachers are a group of three to six year olds. Sometimes I feel like they look up to me way too much, figuratively and literally, so I often sit on the floor. I am not smarter than they are. They teach me important things: “Just be kind” they say. To them that’s the answer. To almost any question they face.
I hope you have good teachers in your life. I hope you still see yourself as a student. If there is a pedestal involved I hope you can gently remove it.
“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way.
I pointed ahead- ahead of myself as well as you.”
George Bernard Shaw
http://www.joantollifson.com/writing18B.html Go to entry 10-30-13, scroll down
August 18, 2013
Warning!! This post might be a stretch!!
A little while ago I wrote about ecotones. “Ecotone” means a transition area between two biomes. An ecotone is where two communities meet and integrate. I tried to relate it to our personal experiences in life and self discovery.
Today we move onto “cenotes”!! A cenote is is a natural phenomenon, a sinkhole in the Earth’s surface. Found in Mexico and the Caribbean, a cetone is primarily made up of porous limestone. Over millions of years, rainfall slowly eats away at the limestone and a huge system of underground caves and caverns is formed. Many are filled with water from rain or from the underground water table. When the roof of a water filled cave collapses, a cenote is born. The water found in a cenote may be fresh water, salt water, or both. Structurally it may be completely open, like a lake, almost completely closed with just a small opening at the top, or somewhere in between.
In the Mayan language “ts’onot” means sacred well. Cenotes were the main source of fresh water for the ancient Mayan civilization. Mayans believed the cenotes contained curative elements and considered many of them to be sacred. They also believed cenotes to be portals to the spirit world and a way to communicate with the gods. Some cenotes were the site of Mayan sacrifices.
Now we have the definition and history. Here comes my twist.
For those of us on a quest of some sort, to find our “true” self, to quiet the ego, to discover what is hidden within us, we often find ourselves slowly peeling away layers of our outward self to find our inner self. Not unlike the the rain slowly dissolving the limestone. Our “rain” comes in many forms: religion, meditation, service…..Our limestone is apathy, doubt, ego, mis-information, immaturity, not being ready, ignorance, selfishness…..
But once something has worn away enough of our personal limestone, a shift begins…….we find ways to energize and speed the dissolving process along. We are ready for the breakthough. Ready for the bottom to fall out, to open the barrier to the cenote. A place the Mayan’s believed to be curative, sacred and a portal to communicating with the gods.
Whatever journey you are on, is it so different? Are you not slowly melting away the layers of ego to discover something deep inside of you? A place, a state of being where you can discover the “sacred”, the true “self”, inside of you?
Once a cenote is born the fresh water falls, joining a vast underground system of rivers and caves. Areas of haloclines form: where fresh water and salt water meet creating eerie pools of mystical waters. Waters flow along underground rivers and hundreds of miles later, they exit the underworld and join with the ocean……they mingle with the salt water and become something new and different. A smaller part becomes a part of something bigger as it also changes from fresh water to salt water……
So as you travel along your path to self discovery maybe the imagine of the cenote will be like a lantern guiding you along.
June 14, 2013
A few weeks ago I was talking with a parent at the school where I work. We had finally had a chance to work in our gardens and were comparing notes.
Laura made the comment that she didn’t know what people did before the internet….how would they have known how and where to plant the kale seedlings? Shade? Sun? Part shade?
Then she paused and said, “Well, I guess if she were alive, my grandmother would have been able to tell me how to plant kale.”
I felt a little pang. A sense of sorrow and loss.
While the internet in all it’s cyber wizardry is wonderful and brings people closer (sort of), and makes the world smaller (sort of), and provides information about everything (real or imagined), it seems to also be responsible for the loss of person to person collective knowledge or information sharing. As in the kale. Are any of us learning about gardening and growing our own food from people who genuinely depended on growing their own food, or are we reclaiming a lost skill that is dying, almost dead, or dead?
Do you garden, grow your own food? Whether yes or no, do you care where your food comes from? If it’s been genetically altered? Organic?
Going back to grandma, what did you or have you learned from your grandmother? Or grandfather? My own grandparents didn’t know a darned thing about growing food. However, they did remember the Depression and food rationing. I learned a great deal about plants, all kinds, from my step mother. She also taught me how to cook. She taught me about herbs and plants that could be used medicinally. I’m sure it’s a false sense of security, but I feel like I could grow food to supplement my family’s needs if it was ever required. Maybe even enough to share.
That begs the question, is that a valuable skill? I mean really, it seems more and more people barely know how to cook…so why bother growing food? What would they do with it?
“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
Anyway…I still have that pang of sorrow even after a few weeks. I admire Laura for even thinking about her grandmother and what she might have been able to learn from her. I wonder how many of us really know what we could learn from our parents or grandparents if we just began a discussion. I wonder what we are at risk of never knowing if we don’t have the discussion?
June 2, 2012
There is a car I seem to follow through town quite a bit. There is a bumper sticker on it that says “Progress Not Perfection”. I really like that.
I think we spend a lot of time and energy on PERFECTION. And, I think it bogs us down and sometimes puts us in a quagmire that we struggle to get out of.
I feel like “perfection” is s bad word.
My husband went to a Cognitive Behavioral therapist for awhile. He came home one day with a big grin on his face and announced with great certainty and obvious sense of relief: “I don’t have to bat 1000. 300 is okay!”
Here was a moment of awakening for me too. We are bombarded by so many things that tell us very clearly, if we are not perfect we are not good enough. Look at TV and magazine ads. Reality TV shows. Look around you…dress like this and you’ll be beautiful. Get hair cut like so and so and people will like your hair cut (not you). Get a big gas wasting car so people will think you are important. Do this so you can be better than them. Appear this way and people will think you are powerful. Bat 1000 and the world will be yours. And if you don’t, you are failing.
Well, for me, batting 300 is pretty great. And I am much happier and more confident in believing I don’t have to bat 1000 to be a good, kind, valuable, contributing, caring person. I can take pride in batting 300 and work towards batting 302, or 305.
I think progress can lead to a different type of “perfection”. The kind of perfection that isn’t absolute. Rather, something more about being able to change and grow, something that is fluid and dynamic, not static and with an end point.
We are all thrown a variety of pitches every day. Some could be called:
CATASTROPHIZING CURVE BALL – Making mountains out of molehills.
RUMINATION SLIDER- Thoughts going around and around in your head.
PROCRASTINATION SINKER – Can’t make final decisions.
WORRY AND GUILT CHANGEUP
WORRYING ABOUT OTHER’S OPINIONS KNUCKLE BALL
SECOND GUESSING OTHER’S THOUGHTS SCREWBALL
REGRETS AND SELF-BLAME SPLITTER
RIGIDITY TO CHANGE FORKBALL- Usually when we keep looking for excuses or reasons why things can’t change – or when we need to get out of our ‘comfort zone’
For each one of these we need to learn how to stand to face it with authority. We need to know how to place our hands on the “bat” so we can send the “Catastrophizing curve ball” flying. We need to learn not to flinch when a “Regret and Blame splitter” is thrown at us. We need to learn to see a “Procrastination sinker” coming. We need to learn the mechanics of how “Rumination slider” moves. And we need to adjust accordingly. We need to make progress through practice and experience, with the help of mentors and team mates. Then we can keep our eye on whatever pitch is coming our way, make commanding contact with it and send it out of the park and out of play in our lives.
And when we begin to understand that with all of the above, 300 is really good, we can begin to believe in ourselves and work on making progress on learning, practicing, trying new things, paying attention, and seeing. We can be unflinching and live fully on the premise: Progress not perfection. Some days we’ll bat 250, or 300. Maybe we’ll get to 375 or as low at 200. But whatever our average, we know it is all about Progress and not Perfection.