I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to animal, I died as an animal and I was Man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Carmela Scognamiglio Patella Maha-samadhi: June 22, 2018
I am untethered. Now that she is gone, who will remember me as my purest self as child? Who will smile with affection and tolerance at the wild adolescent, ‘blond witch’ rebelling against the world trying her wings? And who will witness the miracle of the adult that emerged, continues to emerge? Who will know my whole story present from the beginning to end? There is something of self-preservation in the child/parent bond. Am I just an idea of myself without the someone who witnessed, was indeed co-author of, my birth?
We come together, those that loved love, for it doesn’t stop; love grows as long as we recognize and tend to it. We come together to honor her spirit, to assist that spirit back to its source, to the arms of God. Spirit, from the Greek spiritus, “that which animates”. However we name that spark of life, light, energy, nature, God, it is eternal and vast in character; full of every creative potentiality. It is the very source of love that rests in each heart.
What comfort there is in knowing energy cannot die! Eternal, it merges with its source. Oh happy child who knows home! My original home was her. Her body so beautiful, strong and expressive became a prison of sorts as its expiration date neared. We all have an expiration date stamped on our back in invisible ink that is revealed in the light of time. She taught me, waste no time, love with all you’ve got. Crazy wild exuberant loud love! Her time came and the spark of life left its mooring. Now she is like the eloquent poets and learned scientists tell us: she is everywhere, nowhere and always available if our hearts are open and senses attuned. I take heart in knowing I will indeed see her in the morning light and when the night is new. I’ll be looking at the moon Mama, but I’ll be seeing you.
Thank you for bringing me into this world; for supporting and guiding me with the best you had to offer. What greater gift can be given then the full wholehearted love and acceptance of what you have created! My prayer today and everyday: may every word, every breathe, every thing I create reflect the magnitude and grace of your gifts to me, all flowing from the greatest gift, life. Mother is the child’s first teacher whispering in their private silent language. I will always hear her voice when I listen to my heart.
She loved to sing and now, the choir of angelic voices I hear is sweeter by far. She seemed a magician to me as a child, able to make any shape I asked out of material to drape me in beautiful clothing. Now, always the shape of her in my heart, a shape that cannot be filled by any other. Fortunately the heart is infinite and there is always room as long as we tend to its expansion.
Now the Blonde Witch carries you in the womb of her heart as I ride on the winds of your love. Rest in peace, Mama your art lives on.
Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.
The Razor’s Edge #46 June 18, 2018
My little 4 year old nephew asked at the dinner table, “so who has a joy they want to share?”
My mother is dying. I am once again moving from a beloved home. This is a tender, sad time. I don’t really feel like there is much joy to share, at least not readily. Yet, there is immense gratitude in my sorrow because I am able to return, in some small measure, the gift to she who bore me into this world, in assisting her out of it. There is a perfect symmetry here.
In this I am reminded of a quote from Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, “In any circumstance there is a sliver of joy. Expand it.”
There is a tension here. I rebel against the well meaning efforts to cheer me up; the invitation to compare my sorrow with the vast sorrow of others as a way of lessening my load. It is only a bandaid and once the temporary patch comes undone, as it surely will, I feel even worse. After all, they are right, there are people far worse off then me. What does my inability to permit this to heal me say about me? I want to lean into the good things that are indeed present but I also want my authentic circumstance validated. It is real and any attempt to cover it from the surface will not dissolve it and is itself an illusion.
How do we acknowledge the truth of our circumstance, our feelings and open that sliver of joy? It is walking the ‘razor’s edge’ of the Upanshad in real time, one side contraction and duality, the other expansion and wholeness.
The light is always present. Even when there are clouds blocking the sun it is still right there. Even when full night has fallen, the sun is still right there. In the first instance, it is the cloud covering that blocks the light, in the second, our perspective, where we stand on the earth as she rotates on her axis that dictates what we see and know. No matter the clouds or the earth’s rotation, the sun, the light is still right there. This is so on the gross level of reality and it is even more true on the subtle and indeed subtlest planes.
How can we shift our perspective? Even just a little bit. The light of our own individual consciousness is always shining, always full just like the sun. The degree we know that light and its fullness is dependent upon the condition of our body mind as well as our perspective, where we stand.
Yoga is that practice that helps us to clear debris, to part the clouds of life’s experiences and reveal the fullness of light always present. In the physical practice of asana and the deeper subtler practices of pranayama and meditation we are using the tools at our disposal to render our body-mind more optimal, light filled, in its registering. Sattvic, from the root ‘sat’ meaning existing, real, true. We shift perspective. We effect this shift on many levels: in the physical body-mind, in the subtle arena of breath, closer to prana, the life force and then deep deep within, to the even subtler, subtlest domain, the source of our very own self.
We want to shift not merely on the surface but as deep as possible. We want to effect the greatest change and we want that change to take hold, to stabilize; to show up. To do so science tells us change at the root, at source. One change on one chromosome in the sequence of DNA results in an entirely different human. Saiva Tantra is the science of consciousness that teaches the theory and method to effect change at root.
So I lean into my practice.
The light only needs a crack to enter.
The nature of light is to move to expand to fill the space. When we flip the switch light fills the room; remove the shade from a table lamp and light spills out past the held circumference.
And we take care to straddle the line of authenticity, how we feel, even as we open that sliver of light. We are not cursing the darkness, it does no good and only serves to tighten the noose; nor are we trying to pretend it’s all OK or that it doesn’t matter or that it is somehow not even real. It is real. It is reality. We seek to expand our notion of reality not as a wish but the truth of experience born of knowing that light; the light of self.
This is the razor’s edge: one side ordinary reality the other supreme transcendence seen, known most palpably on those ‘cloudless afternoons of the infinite sky of consciousness’ in deep meditation. The more we experience this shift, the more spontaneously we call it to mind when darkness threatens to overshadow and consume. The more we call it to mind, even for just a few breaths, the more we stabilize it, root it as our natural default.
I am truly sad, let me work through it. I am also truly grateful that I have tools that permit me to authentically do so and in the doing, expand my notion of reality.
Who has a joy they want to share?
Who Will Save Me? #45
No one’s going to save me. I know that. And still the hope that there is some rescue coming, emotional or otherwise, shines bright. I’m a big girl, a grown woman and I know “if it’s to be it’s up to me” yet I lean into the hope that shared experience will not only ease the passage but somehow change it. Certainly it heightens joy, right? When something wonderful happens we want to share, just look at all the Face Book and Instagram posts.
Lately I have been practicing feeling. It doesn’t sound as if that needs too much preparation but to do so cleanly, without fleshing out some story around it takes a kind of purity I’ve yet to master. So, when some emotion, sweet, happy or sad floods my senses and drives me to my heart, brought on by the sun’s rays dancing on the floor, a child’s unexpected back flip in the street, moving from my beloved home, or the impending death of a loved one, I stop. Closing my eyes I give voice to the feeling as purely as possible. Taking a few deep breaths, I invite the stillness cultivated from deep meditation, to settle my awareness, and permit the flooding of sensation to pervade my body-mind without naming the why, without writing a story around it in the hopes that I may truly take it in, and in that more complete digestion, be nourished so perfectly by the increased light, that I will let it go and be ready, open, fully present to the next.
Thus far I have no miracles to report but the practice is happening more, and more ease-fully, in a spontaneous natural manner. I recognize this as the increased presence of grace. Actually it is the increased recognition of the presence of grace. In turning my awareness in to face what is emerging before it has the opportunity to become a full blown story of epic proportion, there is a meeting closer to source, closer to the root of the sprouting that somehow tempers the wild blossoming.
While this is wonderful and I celebrate the mere existence of such a‘some time gift, the feeling is still there but it is mitigated. This is important to note. There is a budding sense of power, of knowing, I can work on this! It is more than just the intellectual understanding that I do not have to believe everything I think; I’ve known this for years. Knowing and experiencing are two different things. There is something of the miraculous in this.
I’ve been down this road before, too many times. Why am I more able to skirt the hole and see the possibility of actually taking a completely other street, as the poem states? It is the result of meditation. It is the result of awareness steeped in wholeness that is presenting me with a real chance at healing, and in that, to re-write. It’s not just the words formed that shape the story, the way they are strung together, but the expansive perspective as to what the story might be. More, it is the increased capacity of the very mechanism that tells the story, all the stories.
I still yearn in my bones to be saved. I am a human female of a certain age and I did not escape the Cinderella Complex completely but I am coming more, even as this age, into my power. It’s not all roses this coming into power; there are plenty of thorns and many buds will not bloom. Yet I also feel in my bones that if I continue to steep awareness in the silent potent source and meet the emergent emotions as close to inception as possible, something truly miraculous will occur. Instead of recreating each move with the same furniture of thoughts and ideas to merely fit the scene as best I can, I will create something entirely new. The opportunity of working on this from my intellectual mind is only possible because that mind itself has been, is being, expanded, heightened, transformed and opened at depth. It is a practical miracle in process.
As a dear friend of mine use to say, “to get something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done”.
Bring the light!
Who doesn’t seek shelter from the storms of life. Refuge, a place of rest from agitation of every sort. I use to think of refuge as a blocking out, a walling off, something to separate me from all that chaos. Now, I realize what I truly seek is a reprieve not separation; rest not complacency; rejuvenation; I seek home. The light is always on at home.
Home. The refuge that permits settledness, the opportunity to gather, digest and renew. Not to separate but to melt in the fire of hearth and release, refine and reemerge ready to dance hard.
Shiva as Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance. He dances the five divine acts, the panca krityas: creation, maintenance, dissolution, concealment and revelation.
We approach these statues [murtis] not as anthropomorphic beings but with the understanding that they are the esoteric stand-in for the value of consciousness we wish to bring forward. Consciousness is one, whole and as such total, yet encompasses many and in its freedom, [svantantrya] shows itself in many guises.
The symbolism of the Indian tradition in general, and the Saivite-Tantric specifically, is rich in meaning and expression. In particular it is focused on Shiva, not as a conventional deity but as the most potent esoteric source of consciousness. We seek to experience consciousness in the deepest being of our body-mind. We steep individual awareness in cosmic consciousness and experience unboundedness, wholeness and infinite creative potential. In the process we bring something back out with us.
The dance of Nataraja symbolizes the process of the movement of Consciousness through the these 5 stages of creation, maintenance, dissolution, concealment and revelation. The key understanding is recognition that each of these phases, or stages, occurs simultaneously and that they represent not only the movement of Consciousness at the absolute level, but are also reflected at the relative or gross level of existence. This is often conveyed in the phrase ‘As Above So Below’ or the concepts of macro and microcosm.
We see the qualities of Consciousness reflected all around us and we mirror these qualities. What do I mirror? A reflection requires the original. To reflect fully, clearly with nuance and power, the original must be truly known, experienced, close at hand. The reflective surface must be calm and smooth, able to echo what is true. The original, the source, pulses in the heart of home and meditation permits the ever growing circumstance of serene expression. Like the full moon on a calm lake the overflowing light reveals what was hidden by darkness and agitation and we are able to dance with skill and freedom.
It’s the same dance at the level of reality as it is at the absolute. The dance of manifestation of the cosmos is dynamic and orderly, filled with highly intelligent overlapping sequences of relationships in time and space; including the creation of time/space itself. In aligning with this dance of orderliness, of sequences of the highest intelligence, we put our individual self in the right place at the right time to the degree possible. Naturally we move to the music of life, graceful, able to fill in all the notes.
When we speak of Shiva we speak of the unbounded absolute, not as a deity to be worshipped but the core of our very essence to be known, experienced and in knowing, to live life from this stance not as a wish, or beautiful cloak put on during certain circumstances, but as the core reality of our existence. We are made, in the words of Carl Sagan, ‘from the stuff of stars’ - the very same hydrogen, carbon and atoms. How we access this place and bring the sweetness, the potent creative possibility of this knowing out into life such that life is transformed, uplifted, elevated made stronger and naturally in alignment with our deepest heart’s value is the journey and reason d’être of authentic meditation.
Meditate not for any one day, not only for the natural by-products of health and emotional freedom, but for life. Know your light. Rest in the heart that is home we carry and refuge eternally available. The light is always on at home. Go there. Bring the light to every circumstance and dance with precise abandon no matter the music played.