Cultivate Curiosity. Live a life of curiosity.
I have always felt, known that curiosity is my dearest friend. Cultivate curiosity.
I chanced upon a 2016 discussion with writer Elizabeth Gilbert in which she spoke of following curiosity instead of one’s passion as a way to cultivate creativity. What if passion, hot and vibrant, is not felt? Passion requires energy that is not always available. If life is tied to passion, that leaves creativity adrift. Not so curiosity. We can be curious no matter our circumstance. Thoughts, ideas are floating in the ether all around us, searching for a creative partner. I heard her words, they were mine already articulated. Consciousness never fails to fascinate and beckon.
Both/And. Consciousness is both/and; both transcendent and immanent.
Let Curiosity rest here. Creativity is flow that is both a wave of constant energy and the source of that energy; it is immanent; it is here and yet beyond my reach. Mystery.
Consciousness is Will writ large, it is willing our collaborative desire to create. Searching, out of its freedom and delight for the next partner. Curiosity. Open to the flow within and without. It need not be, or have, a practical, financial or even artistic reward though it may.
Creation IS the very nature of humanity. It is immanent; it is the very spark of life. Curiosity powerfully feeds our capacity to live fully and to transcend the boundaries of ordinary awareness. Both/And.
I AM curious as to what this upcoming move to Philadelphia, this change will bring, has brought, is bringing now. It beckons just out of reach sometimes quite bright, and like a signal, it is recognized. I tune into the frequency. Open this. Let curiosity, gentle wonder pierce what is confusing, bewildering and beautiful.
Everyday there is something big or small beckoning for a creative partner. Both/And. Transcendent and Immanent. Conscious curiosity creates.
In choosing curiosity over fear we are choosing creative consciousness to be alive. We are conscious partners with that energy that resides in all, both transcendent and immanent.
It is not a waste of precious time nor only for those who are blessed with financial and recreational resources. It is deep in the heart of every human, always calling loudly, sweetly, softly this desire to make, to create, to have a hand in bringing something to life. Getting dressed, setting a table, decorating a room, all creative acts that began with curiosity. How does this go with that? How would this look with that? Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, then leave judgement be. Curiosity leads the way and there is enjoyment, delight in seeing it through.
Cultivate Curiosity. Let it flow. It is made more possible when there is an anchor, a home from which to roam. Ah, “build home behind your eyes”! The construction is still underway but the truth of its anchored presence more palpable as the waves of creative life surge.
There is an ever growing supportive web of beings of so many traditions and views that yearn to connect, to offer healing and in that, growth; to make wholeness. Never mind making a difference, we have plenty of difference in the world, make wholeness. The time is now. How and where do I fit into this web?
I have found the framework, the practice and method that speaks to both my mind and heart, that continues to open and show its value. How then do I offer this as part of that web?
Tantra itself means web or thread. Now as I stabilize more and more in my heart, the home of deepest teachings, even as I move away from community, how do I offer my services? Not solely as a yoga/meditation teacher though to be sure this informs all I do, but how else? Where else? Stay Curious. It churns my awareness and I am reminded of a favorite line from a poem by David Whyte:
What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
Bala, Deepest Strength
I am sad, really really sad. I find myself once again be asked to move, to leave my home. The home I just built, filled with glorious light, love and laughter. I who work so enthusiastically with and for connection, who yearns so deeply for roots seem to be continually lifted off the ground.
This really shouldn’t be surprising to me as it was the first real experience of this ripping of my heart from the soul of community that started me on the road to deeper study and practice; the desire to ‘build home behind my eyes’. It sounded so right and even dare I say, a bit wise. I never dreamed of the true implication, the true need. I am Mary Poppins, the north wind blows and my umbrella must be raised. It’s not that I am consciously calling on that north wind, it just seems to have my number close at hand.
The thing that is running through my mind and flowing through my veins as I wait in limbo for this chapter to actually close and the next to reveal its landing space, is the question of capacity to truly feel, to permit whatever the feelings are, sadness, grief, loss, anger, excitement, possibility, without added dialogue. Is it achievable? Can I sit and let sadness wash over me without engaging and giving it a fully fleshed story?
The antidote has always been to occupy myself with something else: eat, exercise, call someone, watch a movie, go to a museum, shop. None of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but in the moment they are just delay tactics that only serve to have whatever the feeling is, roar back at some other inopportune moment. Generally when I am just.. about.. to fall.. asleep. I want to find another way. I want to feel whatever it is, authentically allow it to move through me without giving it shape. Move through me and then go. How?
There is a practice here, to sit, permit feeling and not engage. It’s hard, so very hard. But its also natural. Natural as my daily meditation practice. In fact it is the inculcation of going deep, of melting the sense of shape and identity carried in my stories, etched in my bones that opens and clears this path. The sense of me is precious but also impervious, resistant to the expansion craved. How to fulfill, enjoy the roles I am called to enact without believing this is the only shape of me? How to find the steadiness inherent in a fixed point and still move? What is needed is infinite strength and infinite flexibility simultaneously.
Bala, means strength in Sanskrit. It is the strength of the elephant able to lift a tree from its roots and nimbly, gently pick up a single straw. In the highest sense it is the strength of consciousness. This strength is on view everywhere all the time and most potently felt deep within. Experiencing, for just the briefest moment, the sweetness of letting go and in that release, the merging with wholeness that is eternal but forever breached on the surface with life’s continual display of diversity. A diversity that can be beautiful or painful but always, by its very definition, separate. So the longing for roots then is the call of belonging and what is belonging if not a return to wholeness.
This wholeness is not inert, it is dynamic and alive and thus must on the surface show itself as diversity. If I am anchored truly, deeply in that inner wholeness, in bala, the strength of consciousness, in my Self, I will recognize it more and more elsewhere, everywhere, and know it is available regardless of place or particular shape. There is an infinite flexibility to this and elegance. There is also promise and hope.
For now though, I remain deeply sad and while I would prefer to be happy, there is no denying the truth. So I meditate because it is cumulative in its power and effect. And when the wave rises I am more equipped to permit its flow, to inquire with a sense of curiosity because I have a foothold. I have a practice that permits the experience my inner strength, bala, the strength of wholeness, the strength of consciousness to show up in a practical, beautiful, desired way in my life.
I still want to stamp my foot and demand why? Why is this the case? Surely there are other lessons for me to learn. Yes, there must be but I guess I’m not done here. I am not alone in wanting to live boldly, in crafting a life that is dignified in the face of whatever life throws at me. The matryoshka dolls keep cracking open and there is s sort of freedom found in choosing to participate and even more freedom in having increased skill to do so.
Sit, practice and bring what unfolds to life. We are beings of vibration and we are, as I wrote about last time, already connected. The practice is in knowing, experiencing that connection deeply so that even in the face of separation, we bring wholeness.
Make Love Infectious
We all ache to belong, to connect deeply to someone, something. It is the original hole desire seeks to fill. The truth is we are already connected. It is our ignorance that blinds us to this truth. Yes, on the surface we have different ways of being, this is diversity at work. How can we see this diversity like a garden instead of weeds. It is in the naming, because weeds too provide sustenance. Who wants an entire crop of corn? We know the problems inherent in this. Yet, we insist on thinking that if we make ‘other’ like ‘us’ all will be fine. Instead of knowing there really isn’t other, we are all us.
The pull on the surface to homogenize is a false sense of unity. Diversity is beautiful and necessary in order for life to thrive. We need to understand, to experience that diversity isn’t the enemy but the expression of that unity. As far as I know, the only way to do this, is to go to source; to experience the space of creative immanence that everything arises from. Perhaps then we will not be threatened by other and instead begin to recognize self.
It’s not about making connection we ARE already connected. It’s about experiencing it, knowing it. In knowing our deepest self we know our truest humanity and in that we experience belonging as wholeness and unity. Consciousness is whole and perfect we are her/his/it’s reflection. In experiencing belonging, deep and true, we touch our divinity. Divinity is supreme excellence; it is genius; it is holiness, whole-ness.
Love is divine. It is also often thought of as sappy or wimpy. We must challenge this language this meaning. Love is strength and courage. Love is bigger than romance, more than emotion. It is louder than sweet words and softer than exclamation. It is both exhilaration and settledness. It shouts and it is silent. It is the breath and the beat of our heart. It is light and darkness. It is the glue that holds the universe together.
It already exists because we exist. How can we know it fully and in the experience live it, spread it? How can we make love infectious?
John A Powell, a legal scholar, in speaking about critical mass said, we do not need to reach every one but only to “infect” enough and let the natural course of events do the work of spreading, infecting change. I love this. This is Gandi’s ‘Be the Change’ you wish to see in the world.
First we must love our Self. Not in some solipsistic manner but truly deeply love who we are at core, at essence, at heart. Know our truest Self. It stands to reason that if we know, experience this connection deep inside we will begin to see, to feel, to know it on the surface of life.
Saying we are all connected at source is one thing, knowing it, experiencing it quite another matter. The first is philosophy; they may be beautiful words but without experience, they remain dry and rather abstract. It is the back lash of intellectual elitism we are experiencing now. Only when words touch our heart with the ring of truth that vibrates from prior experience can we truly recognize connection. Know your full self.
Make love infectious.
Examine Life, Malas #40 May 7, 2018
Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living”. It is in this we find some measure of understanding, comfort and purpose. Implicit in examination is refinement or else why bother? If we are to live fully, aim for our highest capacity then examination is key.
This begs the question, what is the framework we use to examine? What are the tools we use to investigate; how calibrated and powerful are they? To determine what we want of life we must examine life, the one we are continually creating for ourselves. Lifestyle is a buzz word in our society, we take on lifestyle choices. Nothing wrong here except that often we are doing so without real scrutiny; simply following the loudest, brightest most shiny thing in awareness, like a child following the jingling keys.
Pausing is necessary to examine. I’ve spoken for a long time now on why and how meditation assists in creating space. We go deep deep into source, resting in dynamic stillness, refining the mind-body so that wherever we turn our attention on the surface we go deep as well. We automatically increase our capacity to examine. Meditation makes you smarter.
The non dual Śaivite Tantric tradition states that our true nature is one of wholeness and that wholeness is most potently represented as light. Light that is full and pulsating alive, capable of so much more than we grasp. Why don’t we know this? In a word, mala.
The ānava mala is the fundamental crimping of that whole unitary light into the individual light of you and me. Out of its freedom, the absolute contracts into the relative. We can envision an old fashioned camera, when the aperture is wide open light floods in. In order to see detail, the aperture must close. The price of this closure is less light but ability to see shape and form. The price of individuality then is the loss of the fullness of our light. This sets up a condition of lack, of brokenness, of incompletion that rules our waking life. Continually we set out to ‘fill the hole’ as it were. This is not entirely negative; after all it is desire that has us seek and find, that moves examination. The problem is without the experience of inner fullness, anything on the surface is doomed to fail.
The new house, the nicer car, the deeper back bend, the more powerful position will suffice for a while but only if we stay on the surface. And staying there is what set up the problem to begin with. We secretly, and not so secretly, harbor the suspicion that we are somehow insufficient, fraudulent not the real deal.
It’s not just the ānava mala either. There are progeny. This fundamental lack of wholeness, of completion, sets up a constant state of comparison. How do I measure up? And since there will always be someone with a bigger house, a deeper back bend, more money, more toys, smarter, younger, we never quite meet the bar as it is forever moving. This is the work of the māyīya mala. The māyīya mala covers our power to know the absolute and creates constructs that are varied and diverse. Again, not a bad thing. Diversity can be beautiful and awe inspiring if we know that we are part of it not separate from it. How do we reclaim our capacity to deeply know? To know not just intellectually but experientially?
So we set out to do. This is the third of the malas, the kārma mala which covers the power to act. Because of the prior set up, we then act on these constructs assuming them to be the whole truth. A truth which each, in her individual play of consciousness, believes is universal, setting in motion the sense of sole agency. An agency that will always be limited because that is all it knows itself to be regardless of what we express with our words, ‘I am great, I am as good’ etc. If we do not know this, experience this truly deeply, they remain words that may assist but will always be temporary balm because we experience every single day the relentless separateness that is an individual life and in that we measure and fall short.
Even if we are blessed on the surface of life with material abundance there remains this gaping hole, voracious in its appetite that is never quite satisfied or satisfied for long. Its a beast that will not be appeased, convinced, fulfilled, until and unless we go in and nourish the ravenous roots.
We require a framework, we need tools to examine. We may use one and determine that it does not meet our needs and then we choose to find another. But we must commit to one or we risk contamination. How will we ever know what works?
We can view Socrates statement as research. We are conducting research into the highest subject, the subject of who and what we truly are; what we are capable of; how we may contribute in the most potent manner. And as in all research we want our results to be clear.
The framework that the Śaivite Tantric masters offer to assist us in examination is vast and truly amazing; it is scientific. Part of the science put forth is the malas. The ānava mala, the fundamental crimping of the light covers will, highest desire, this is iccha-śakti; the māyīya mala covers deepest knowledge, jñāna-śakti and the kārma mala covers action, the capacity to act in a truly efficacious manner, kriyā-śakti. The tools to examine are incredible but they alone are insufficient if not utilized.
So we have theory. We feed the insatiable mind, beautiful in its desire to know; we offer it fuel and then there is something for us to do in order to authentically experience the results. We practice. There must be both. We must practice, digest and try it out, replicate as science dictates; then re-examine again and again. It is only from this stance, knowledge and experience deepened, refined that we can value for ourselves. Living the ‘style of life’ that feeds the heart, the soul, the mind and renders the individual capable of offering her unique take on life because she has immediate and unmitigated access to the source of true wholeness. In this we heal life and render it whole.
Leverage life, cultivate the distinctly human capacity to reason, to examine in the highest manner. Rest in the fullness of light deep within and naturally, spontaneously use that light to illuminate everything everywhere. Refine your knowing bring the light.