Weaving a Good Life.
We are all weavers in our way. Taking the strands that make up a day, a week, a year and weaving them into a good life. I often think about what a good life looks like. It changes and yet at heart always contains the elements of purpose, love and connection.
The word tantra can be translated as “to weave” so, the Tantric practitioner, at heart, weaves the twine of life using deep mystical praxis as the tool that binds; the pattern that permits the picture to take its most beautiful shape.
At a certain point in life we long to contribute- each small thing contributes to the whole- each thread contributes to the fabric’s finish. Though we are always pulling out one and looking for just the right color for another, that fabric is forever a work in progress.
Many people, in many ways, in many traditions and disciplines are speaking of this, yogis, writers, artists, plumbers, even the occasional politician. There is a hunger for connection. The truth is we are already connected but for the most part we do not fully recognize the depth of it.
My meditation teacher says people are waking up - something is calling them and they need guides to assist. In my small way, I am such a one. I sometimes struggle with how I can be a guide when I have not finished the project. I have not solved the hunger issue but I have found a way to connect to my fuller self, my more whole self and in that, my better self because I have more resource and infinite support. I have spent the past 11 years studying, practicing, refining; it continues. I am more and more self-reliant. Not in an egotistical solipsistic manner, I yearn for connection and seek the council of experts, but I am able to stand strong in both the fire and joy of life.
Community connection content. We long for direct connection and community with those around us - to serve our community and this is magnificent. But something larger is needed, connection to community of life writ large. This is where meditation serves. It actually serves both- the individual and thus all she/he/they touch and, because it is the knowledge of who we are at source, it serves the community of humanity and so connects us at a deeper level. This root connection not only tolerates diversity on the surface but celebrates it.
It is not sameness that brings unity but rather recognition that we are made of the same threads woven in another pattern. Aligning at source with the building blocks of creative energy naturally assists individual manifestation and also deepens the understanding of other creative endeavors. We come to see in our way, that though different it is also same. This is the beginning of true unity. Not sameness as in beige, but unity as in rainbow. We are not trying to make connection but rather recognize its already and always prior presence.
In my small way I offer connection or rather the means to discovering true connection with the Self. Is this the only way? No. Is it a viable practical way? Yes. Is it meant for those living, or desirous of living-full vibrant lives? Yes. Is it easy to learn? Yes. Is it based on belief or any particular set of rules? No. Is it for me? Come and see; experience for yourself. From this place authentic personal value springs.
There is the teaching concept of the nyaya in the Śaiva Tantra Tradition. A nyaya is an axiomatic principle; a tool like a pair of plyers, when applied in the right way, at the right time, with the right amount of pressure yields an opening. The Coconut Nyaya teaches us about protection and layers. We build a hard outer shell - we must for many reasons- but deep within at core lies the sweetness of life we crave; this sweetness is also source. No matter what we wish to do in life this one tool will assist in doing it better. The fruits of our meditation are tender and can be damaged by exposure to the harsh and ignorant surface reactions of the world. We need to construct a protective shell, like the coconut, not for secrecy but to protect the sweetness of the fruit inside.
Then as our strength in that sweetness deepens and self-reliance grows, we are able to dip the threads of life in that ambrosial vat and weave a pleasurable, good life however defined. One that is woven with the fabric of other lives. It is in the true experiential recognition of unity that the celebration of diversity in all its glory is served.
Mother’s Day May 12, 2019
I am 64 years old. It is feasible to think that over these years I have made or bought some 60 Mother’s day cards. This is the first year I did not. My mama passed this year and with her my last, first home.
Mother. Home. The word mother is overflowing with the essence, the very core of home. Mother’s womb, Mother tongue, Mother Earth, the Mother Ship—all as reference points. Here I am always welcome; here I am understood; here is my touch star; here is where I come from. Here is home.
As an adolescent I, as all adolescents, couldn’t wait to get away from home. Then in my twenties and thirties, I couldn’t wait to come back for a home cooked meal, to let my guard down. I couldn’t wait to be met at the door by my parents eager to wrap me in their arms and heap on me all the attention I could hold.
When my father passed, I realized just how much he too ‘mothered’ me. Rubbing Vick’s Vapo Rub on my back and sweeping me in his arms, telling me I was beautiful and strong; how proud he was, in between his worried look that someone was not mothering me while I was out of his sight. Who was changing the oil in my car? But the home In Jersey I grew up in was still there with my mother in place so the illusion held for a while longer.
When we sold that house and moved mom, it was another passing for me and my siblings. But mama was still mama, still firm as beacon even though the place of residence had moved. There were visits to that home and meals still eaten together and offers of pocket money. How does a child answer the perennial parent question—are you ok? Do you need anything? Even if they could not exactly provide what might be needed the offer was balm. The knowledge that someone, in that certain place called home, looked out for you; that home was always there no matter what chaos might be occurring.
Mother and Home. As I sit in a temporary apartment, in a new city looking again for home I am keenly aware that truly I am my own beacon; there is no other light out there pulsing specifically for me. ‘Home is where the heart is’ the saying goes. But now this brings ache not solace. My heart is broken and so pieces of me are strewn across the landscape. Where is home?
Of course there are many levels to this question. I yearn for an actual home, roots. To be rooted in place and community, to be part of some whole. But I know, home truly is where the heart is, and the great heart is within one’s own being. One day, with practice, that knowing becomes so full, that it spills out onto everything, and spontaneously home is wherever the gaze falls. I am grateful for this understanding and the path that permits me to go home. There is great comfort here. I shudder to think how I would be if not for my practice.
Still, I ache for home. I will remember my mama with stories shared with my siblings. I will send flowers to my mother-in-law. I will honor Mother Earth with a silent ceremony taking in her riches. I will continue to search on Redfin and Zillow for home and hope that it shows itself soon. I am not a mother, but I have mothered, and I will continue to offer my services and be ‘as mother’ where I am able to any child of the earth in need. And I will close my eyes, take a few tremulous breaths, settle and go home. Little by little I bring the sweetness of home up to the surface and the world is transformed.
This picture is of my mother, Carmella, Millie, gazing up at my Aunt Emma. I never met my aunt but am told I am just like her. I love looking at this picture and thinking about that.
See you in my dreams mama.
There is no shortage of people willing to tell us how things are in the world on both the grand and intimate stage. I’ve just moved to a new city. It’s both exciting and daunting. While it is important in so many ways, to get the lay of the land as it were, to see through the eyes of more than one’s self, caution is necessary.
There is the risk of simply assuming they— and there are many “they” to be had — are correct and in that assumption close off to any nuance or increase of perspective we may have. Of course, not all information and opinions are equal. We look to masters in every category and weight accordingly but this too must, as all in all data, move through our individual mind. It is of necessity colored by our emotional response and never taken in as neutrally as we like to believe.
We face this every single day in ways big and small. Who do we believe? Where do we place our trust? Yes, we aspire to trust in self, to have our own opinion which means we must first have our own experience, but again, this is never neutral to begin with. We come to the table with likes and dislikes firmly in place, all colored by our past experience and knowledge. We look to increase and refine that knowledge as it should be but something more is necessary.
To see with new eyes, with clear eyes, sounds promising but in reality, is so very hard to do. I long to throw up the neatly ordered deck of cards I keep in my pocket and see where they land, what new order arises and to surrender; to have the courage, the full weight of possible knowledge, the skill at hand to act efficaciously on that reshuffling.
The world does have building blocks. There is a certain order but where does that order arise? How does it arise? In the non-dual Śaiva Tantra teaching this is the purview of krama-śakti. The cosmic sequence generator. Know this more intimately, align with this power and the cards dance.
What shapes itself inside you moment by moment? What dictates, our likes and dislikes, our interests and personality? Why are we drawn toward or repulsed away?
Experience is a great teacher and in that, leaves a strong imprint. Keep the information and release the often too powerful emotional response that causes one to immediately cling or avert without reason. Meditate.
Resting awareness in the nirvikalpa, the non-conceptual, permits an opportunity to shape closer to the source what arises on the conceptual surface. And in that to act more skillfully, closer to our dearest values. Meditate.
As I navigate this new place, searching for home, for how I may fit in, how I may serve, I am keenly aware of what I bring to the mix. In my desire to belong, I am compelled to sit and face my Self.
Gratefully I meditate. I am growing in my self-sufficiency, and still, a friendly hand, a kind word, an opinion offered is so very welcome. Yet all of it, is ultimately up to me. There is responsibility and freedom in that and I wish to be ready. Meditate.