Perfect, imperfect

The curve of the moon

The curve of the moon

I want to meet you in the blood & guts of where you are right now.

Broken, unlatched, unhinged,

clay cracked forgotten pot at the dusk of your life.

With all your heroin needles and cigarette butts and too-much-coffee.

I really haven’t had the courage to meet you there before.

Before I wanted you to realize how the moon shimmers just a millisecond away.

How you might reach your hand in the sky and caress her curves.

How insights flood the body with tears of joy, how

the greatest ugliness transforms in the sunlight of awareness.

I still sang the refrain of later, later, later,

just six steps away from now,

begging you to come closer to yourself,

please, change how you think, how you see

this bright beautiful broken world.

How might it look if we allow the fistfuls of chocolate chips, searing judgment, endless running away, extra fat?

The sodden way we don’t listen to ourselves, don’t heed the inner broadcasts of should, should, should.

Not simply allow it, but hold it close, cradling it?

What if we crooned, “Yes, you, you’re here, my child and you

don’t have to change, don’t have to quit, don’t have to turn yourself

inside out into a new incarnation.”

The new incarnation will come without our pottery wheel mudding something

brand spanking new.

To trust you that deeply, to witness what you’re creating with

tools of bone and blood and dancing electrons.

I accept you, warts and pimples and wild hair,

gambling on too much chocolate cake or not enough trust.

I want to accept you.

To accept even my non-acceptance.

To embrace the cracked pot of myself, all seven billion perfect imperfect cells,

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Mambo Number 5

Dance

Dance

Just wrote this in my journal, even though the thoughts had nothing to say.  The pen, apparently, did.

8/19/15

Another day, another crescent of moon.

Rain poured a half hour ago, soaking travelers.

Now sun reveals itself on showered trees.

Yesterday afternoon–trimming green beans, listening to salsa music–it all illuminated very present.

It’s as if the body tunes as lyre or piano or flute, hearing it all, playing it all.  No longer did eyes simply see. The entire body saw.  The body heard, it smelled, it sheered green beans in half, it hummed.

A living pulsating field.  I couldn’t draw myself away from the immediacy of it.  The fullness.  Thoughts danced as partners, not ousted in some imaginary desire of stillness.

Yes, we’re tuning forks of perception, aren’t we?  More to seeing than the eyes.  More to hearing than those two floppy ears.  More to touching than these fingers, precious though they are.

Yet if you told someone–the body saw/heard/tasted–that doesn’t describe it.  The listener might assume, rightly so, that a body does this.

Here’s what really happened.  I shall try again.  The field of awareness presented itself as alive.

But, no again.  The field was not separate from the bean-trimmer, from the salsa music, from the urge to dance.

It glowed simply as immediacy.

As if the heart and tummy–and, OK, the hurting knee–included it all in a sweeping panorama of constant appearing.

Now, now, now! sang the vortex.

It shined so inclusive and full because all of awareness had joined in, deepened, widened.  Not simply the organs of perception.  All…

Of course by saying this I’ve made it into something special and spiritual and magical when it really was simple and ordinary and everyday.

Woman cutting beans with sharp knife.

Mambo Number 5.

(You can’t run and you can’t hide.  You and me gonna touch the sky.)

Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert or…?

Extrovert/introvert?

Extrovert/introvert?

Personalities can be endlessly fascinating.  I know–I spent half a lifetime dissecting one, trying to improve her, understand her, make her behave, tame her into something controlled and acceptable.

Personality tests can assist us in understanding these fascinating characters.  What makes them operate the way they do?  We might discover we’re an extrovert or introvert, and that information eases and relaxes us deeply.  Ahhh, that’s the way we are.  We might honor this creature we call “me” a little more.

Yesterday, I discovered there is a category which explains this personality more accurately.  I am an “ambivert“.  An ambivert has both introverted and extroverted characteristics.  One takes a little test with questions like “I start questions with people I do not know” and “I enjoy spending time with my own thoughts”.  You rate your response between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree” and discover your type.  You can find an assessment here.

I have always thought myself an introvert/extrovert.  The assessment confirmed it.  I strongly agreed with both introvert and extrovert characteristics.  I love being with people a lot.  I love being alone a lot.   I am energized by others.  I am energized by silence.  Go figure.

The test made the “me” sigh in relief and relaxation.  Ahhhh, they’ve validated me.  I see a bit better what’s operating in the world.  This is fun!

On the other hand, what truly feels interesting these days is not the personality, except in momentary quizzes.  What feels so interesting–what makes me glow–is the realization that we are not really our personalities.  For so much of my life, I was 99.6% convinced that I was this personality.

Although the personality is definitely part of it, what we are is so much larger, so much simpler, than a personality with its likes and dislikes, its inclinations and reactions and tendencies.

When we glimpse, even momentarily, the entire spectrum of possibility–the whole scene–then the fascination may turn toward the entire spectrum.  The “I” that we are is not limited to the personality.  Ahhh, we realize, I am that building, that drone of the motor, this check, that timecard, this bowl of cucumbers, that Facebook status, this stapler.  We encompass paradox.  We are all of these/we are none of these. Eventually we may realize that it’s quite arbitrary whether to focus on personality or oneness.

How utterly fascinating and how impossible for the mind to fathom–the immensity of it.  The excitement and utter peace of it.  The mystery of not knowing anything–and how calming that not knowing can be.  (Even though the mind can be convinced that not knowing is the worst possible predicament.)

What is even more interesting is that we’re all–every one of us–experiencing this entire spectrum every moment.  Yet we’re so fascinated with this small aspect, the personality.  We’re mesmerized by it.  So focused on its movements and tendencies and beliefs.  We focus on one small aspect of the whole and often is how we exist in everything we see, hear, smell and taste.  Sometimes we miss it for a whole lifetime.

People who die and return to us often speak of looking down on their bodies.  They often tell of unfathomable feelings of unconditional love.  What perhaps happens is that perspective has shifted from within-the-body to within-spirit. Freedom from personality reveals itself as spaceless, timeless, eternal. That knowing is also available right here, right now, in this very moment.

One moment I’m delighted discovering that I am an “ambivert”.  The next minute the perspective shifts and it’s possible to see that I am in no way limited to an ambivert.  I am the entire dream, the entire unfolding  And perhaps not even that…

The gift of the United Lounge

From the buffet in the United Lounge in Chicago

From the buffet in the United Lounge in Chicago

May I share a little story this morning?  It’s about my airplane flight from Hancock to Chicago last month.  A fellow sat next to me.  A big guy.  Not overweight, simply big.  That’s fine.  Except he took over our armrest.  I had no place to rest my arm.   Shame on him!

The mind started imagining all sorts of stories.  The arrogance of that fellow!  The conceit!  Did he realize he was invading my personal space?  Plus, he didn’t even have the politeness to say hello.  Fie on him!

The thoughts fumed for a while.  I watched them fume.  I craftily asserted my arm space when he reached for a magazine.  We sat in silence.

Eventually, I rested in the silence between thoughts. You know, the heart space where we might suddenly remember this isn’t a sham of a human being.  He is a fellow traveler, just like you or me.  He probably hurts about something.  Who knows, maybe he’s not even aware that he’s taking up so much space.  Maybe he can’t help himself.  Maybe there’s something to learn here.

Ego makes room for spirit. Space opens up, large enough for all thoughts and feelings.

I settled in that heart space, breathing.  I included his large presence in my meditation.  My heart softened a bit more.  OK, maybe he was welcome in this space.  Maybe there is a part of me that’s not comfortable being big.  Maybe there is a part that wants to be bigger.  Maybe there’s a part that hasn’t learned to embrace its own perception of arrogance.

Two-thirds into the trip I ventured to ask him a question about his destination.  We chatted, back and forth, sharing rudimentary information.

He asked how long I had between flights.

“Almost two hours,” I said.

“Would you like to hang out in the United lounge?” he inquired.  “I will be with someone else, but would love to give you the opportunity.  There are free drinks and a nice buffet.  There is also wi-fi, comfy chairs and it’s quiet.  I would love for you to be my guest.”

I agreed. Smiled at what the Universe does when boundaries are stretched.  When dissonance is invited into meditation.  When something or someone disliked is included in the heart.  You never know what might happen then, do you?

Have you experienced a gift like this after spiritually opening your perception?

Not awake, not asleep.

Not awake, not asleep

Not awake, not asleep

I sometimes get confused with the term “waking up”.

In spiritual circles the word “awake” often seems to describe a state of realizing Oneness, enlightenment or unity consciousness.

It points to a place where primary identification as the separate self no longer exists.

In non-dual groups people will chat about “when I woke up…” as if one day the light switched on, never to turn off.

My experience has not been like that.

Yes, I have had awakening experiences.  But “awake” still does not describe it.  It’s not as if we’re asleep and then we’re awake.  (Maybe it is for some beings.)

Something may definitively shift, eventually, and then we abide without identification.  Adyashanti speaks of how an initial awakening often occurs as ego dissolves.  We may then still operate from a sense of self, albeit a larger more unified self. Later, awareness wakes up from the self, into the realm of no-self.  Bits & pieces of both awakenings are often experienced as coming and going in many of our lives.

Our minds sometimes hear “awakening” and think it’s something superior, something to which we must aspire.  My experience reveals that awakening usually reveals something very humble, connected, compassionate.  Without division, what is there to do but love?  Without a sense of self, what can possibly feel superior?  All our nemesis’ are clearly seen as ourselves.

In 2008 the first awakening experience happened for me.  Driving to a nearby city on my birthday, the “little me”, that essence usually at the forefront, receded.  OK, she seemed to disappear.  What existed?  Spacious awareness fascinated with Life. Peace, delight, openness.

It lasted on-and-off for about three weeks before the “little me” reasserted herself as the primary character in this play. Then the seeking-enlightenment game accelerated tenfold, further cementing “little me” in place.  (She who seeks is definitely an ego.  That’s what an ego does.  Seeks the next cup of coffee, the next tantalizing experience, $100 for the next arbitrary purchase of goods to soothe itself, enlightenment.)

In the next seven years awakening experiences occurred.  The little Kathy would be eclipsed by the sun of awareness. That sun shone bright in the forefront.  And then, two days or three weeks later, it didn’t.  The Kathy then thought she was an independent character, separate from the shining sun.  Separate from the person who didn’t like her, didn’t understand her, didn’t behave appropriately.

In May this year, one fine evening listening to Adyashanti, suddenly understanding of what he spoke down to the tippy toes, awakening happened yet again.  Gone was the Kathy from her throne of identification.  I asked my husband, “Can you tell a difference?”  Nah, he shrugged, giving a familiar resigned look (oh, here she goes again) and said, “Well, maybe you’re a little nicer.”

Awake?  It wasn’t noticeable on the outside.  From the inside it felt incredibly different.  It was as if consciousness shifted. Awareness became forefront.  Kathy appeared as background, almost an insubstantial piece of music playing.  Kathy certainly wasn’t “awake”.  Perhaps awareness was awake to itself.  But even that’s misleading, as awareness has ALWAYS been awake.

This awakening lasted about ten weeks.  Last weekend, filled to the brim with mental activity, confusion, some emotional pain, stories, the sense of Oneness seemingly disappeared again. (Although not in the old drama of “I’ve got it/I lost it.  It’s still possible to physically see Oneness.  To know that it’s immediate.  It’s just that the Universe is investing itself in the personality once again, bringing it forefront.)

Here’s where it gets challenging.  I can’t say anything about where I am today.  Awake?  Asleep?  Those words suddenly have no inherent meaning.

There is only what is arising next.  It can be identification.  It can be compulsively checking email.  It can be deep peace.  It can be bliss.  It can be mental activity.  It can be gardening.  It can be a negative thought.  It can be a positive thought.  It can be a sense of Oneness.  It can be a searing pain.  It can be total delight.

There’s no word for this that makes sense.  Just:  life arising.  Not awake, not asleep.

P.S.  A half hour ago lost this essay.  One minute, here it is.  Next moment, gone.  Not in drafts, nowhere to be found.  I looked around for an internal reaction.  Mild disappointment.  Oh well.  Life wants to move in some other direction.  OK. Then, ten minutes ago, the blog reappears.  Mild satisfaction.  Oh, Life does want to publish this blog. One never really knows…

Blogging

Whose shoes?

Whose shoes?

I never feel like I’m blogging here at Simply Here.  This is simply sharing.  There is no sense of obligation, no sense of social networking, no sense of having to reciprocate.

It’s more like writing in a journal.  Here is what’s arising now.  No need to take photographs.  No need to write daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.  It’s free space.  No need to fuss about who’s reading, statistics, comments.  No need to attract an audience.

This is between me and the Universe, no separation.  Whoever pauses to read is here–not because of a person–but because she or he senses infinite possibilities of realization beyond the personal.

If someone asks “Are you blogging?” the first thought that arises is, “No.”   It’s only later that it occurs some people might think this is blogging.  Talk about paradox.

No spiritual inquiry required

Eye in the sky

Eye in the sky

Yesterday I wrote about the value of spiritual inquiry.  How it’s possible to realize layers of truth.  What was true for us yesterday may not be true today.  When our body contracts it’s often signalling that we’re perhaps following an old truth. The fresh truth waits for us to greet it.

Inquiry helps us explore our conditioning.  It can assist us in seeing more clearly.  It can be helpful at different junctures, assisting us in removing our blinders of limited perception.

On the other hand, inquiry can be conceptualized into a technique which keeps us more identified as a separate self.  I have seen this in my own inquiry.  It can create an effect that the questioning person is actually separate from the whole of flowing life.  It can attempt to cement a belief that “this is my life” or “I am trying to fix my life” or “I need to get rid of my conditioning” or “I need to understand” or “If I just get rid of what I don’t like about myself or others, I will be Okey-Dokey.”

What seems clear–in this moment–is that sometimes Life wants to inquire and sometimes Life has no desire to inquire. Sometimes the Universe wants to explore our conditioning as a separate self, and other times it’s just gobbledygook. Sometimes no intellectual understanding is required.  Sometimes it’s not even helpful.

In another instance, there may be resistance to inquiry.  Sometimes that resistance signals the need for inquiry–what is being resisted and why?  In another instant, no resistance surfaces.  This can be a very subtle art, listening to the winds of the Universe, can’t it?

Sometimes a negative expression comes out from another person.  It’s no big deal.  Ahhh, Life is expressing this negativity through this apparently separate individual.  No contraction from a sense of self that doesn’t want to contract.  The practice of inquiry, as a religion or inclination, does not arise.  It’s simply what it is.  No need to make it into a six-hour search to discover the roots of truth and honesty.  Next moment, please.

It is fascinating to watch this.  If we’re attached to either inquiry or not-inquiry, we may suffer.  If we allow Life to inquire or not-inquire, it’s just endless flow.  One minute we’re exploring depths of what’s true–in this moment.  The next moment we can’t even find the energy to even try.  It doesn’t even make sense.

The Universe doesn’t have anything against the separate self, against conditioning.  It IS expressing itself infinitely in a trillion forms.  It embraces itself unconditionally.

(You can inquire about that or drop it like a hot potato.  Life will do what it wants anyway.  It will say, “This is wrong!” or “This is right!” and wink at itself as it passes by.  A new truth presents itself, or it doesn’t.)