Guises - Halloween, Let Your Freak Flag Fly Free October 30, 2017
Costumes— why do we like to put them on?
One theory is we get to role play. We get to explore a side of our personalities, express feelings and creativity in a safe and invited manner.
Often in life, we feel confined, forcing ourselves into the role we are enacting (mother, son, lawyer, etc) and in doing so suppress other feelings, ideas and expressions. To be human means we hold the full gamut of human emotion from sublime happiness, joy and beauty to sadness, anger and horror within. How do we express it at the appropriate time in a manner that is both a release and an offering; in a manner that serves both the individual and the world at large?
The yoga tradition is rich with stories of demons, the asuras that come to test the gods. But they are also shown to be the gods/goddesses themselves in various guises. The demonic aspect then, seizes or grasps the light and crimps it into form and shape.
This is not a mistake, Consciousness is one, whole, unitary and in that contains every possible variation. It is also completely free and in its freedom, Wills itself into contracted form, into you and me. The story of yoga is recovering, recognizing the wholeness we hold within, experiencing this to such a degree that when we play the various roles on the surface of life this truth is not forgotten.
In remembering this wholeness, individual expression is supported and naturally acts not only to serve the individual as it must- our ego would have it no other way- but also seeks to serve the universal it knows itself to be, and in that we hold the best interest of both at heart.
This is the time of Halloween, the time of ghosts, goblins and princesses.
All Hallows Eve, the veil between the worlds is thin and the ghosts are more easily known and seen. What are the ghosts we carry and perhaps refuse to acknowledge?
Tantric Tradition has many names for Śiva, the name given to the one whole unitary light.
The Five Faces of S̄iva:
Each associate with a direction:
Tatpurusha, Consciousness in the East
Aghora, Terrible, Fearful One in the South
Sadjoytata ,Creative One in the West
Vamadeva, Beautiful One in the North
Īśana, Profoundly Auspicious, Above
The Eight Faces of Śiva as the Entire Cosmos:
Śarva, the Protector of Wholeness; Bhāva, the Very existence of Everything; Rudra, the Wild Howler; Ugra, the Impetuously Ferocious One; Bhīma, the Formidable One; Īśana, the Supreme Absolute Ruler; Mahādeva, the Truly Great One and Paśupati, the Cosmic Herdsman, the Lord of All Creatures.
This last one, Paśupati the symbol over those still in the grip of bondage, the grip of the individual role and identity we hold so close, so tight in our being.
There are many names for that which is whole and unitary in nature, for Śiva. We must have a way to examine and express the diversity that exists within that wholeness.
We are made of wholeness but are often at odds with our diversity. That diversity shows up as creativity and sometimes as demon.
How then can we let them out, use when necessary in an appropriate manner and release when not? How can we express our creativity and let our Freak Flag Fly Free in a way that feels good and is profoundly effective?
“To Every Season Turn Turn Turn.” There is a time for each expression. We need access to the emotional substance and the tools to express it appropriately with the most power.
You know where I am going here, meditate. Develop the clear unencumbered pathway to that wholeness, steep in that vibrating silence daily and emerge refreshed, refined and renewed.
The word for Grace is Anugraha. Broken down, “Anu” the limited self and “Graha” to be grasped, seized, thus Anugraha is to be grabbed by Grace and pulled into the light. Knowing the fullness of our light is our birthright and the basis for exploration and expression of every possible creative articulation.
In meditation we melt, for a time, the limited identity we hold so rigid and merge into that wholeness. Then, when we enact each part of our magnificent selves this wholeness will naturally, spontaneously and profoundly be reflected.
Reflect Your Light Powerfully.
Kindness, Do Unto Others or Quid Pro Quo?
What does it mean to move freely in the world? How does it feel, look, to give freely and receive with gracious gratitude and no strings attached?
We are taught from a very young age to ‘do unto others as we wish to be done unto’ or some variation on that theme. Implicit in this, though never really spoken, is the notion that if I do treat you well you will reciprocate. You will treat me in kind, with the kindness shown you.
This is an implied quid pro quo but as we come to find out rather quickly, sometimes rudely, often painfully, we do not all play by the same rules or have the same meaning attached. Ah language!
Does this mean I need to change my desire to treat others as I wish to be treated? Or do I act freely, give freely in the face of any response because it feels right to move from my heart’s value even knowing others may not reply in kind, with kindness?
Moving freely, giving freely in this manner then means we are not attached to the fruit of our labors. It is the Karma Phala Tyaga of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the underlying principles of Gandhi and other heroic humans. We are entitled to our labor, our purpose, but not its result. Yes, he sought, desired deeply, a particular outcome but understood that his actions would not always be met in kind. Yet he moved through the world in what he deemed to be right, righteous, despite the immediate fruit of his labor.
The herculean response of high individuals indeed. And we live in a relative world. We are human and it is right that I pay attention to how I am treated, what I am given back. It would be foolish to continue to throw energy where it is not well received or even wanted, right? To a degree yes. Modification, and a certain personal protection is necessary in life. Refinement is using intelligence and we need intelligence of absolutely every sort.
What you sew you reap. If not immediately on the surface of life, certainly in our deepest hearts. We know what feels right, ignoring it hurts. We risk damage to ourselves. This then is a way to freedom. Forging a pathway to the heart, opening our most tender understanding of deepest value and then living from this place takes courage and commitment. But it’s rewards are great.
I am not saying just ‘turn the other check’ and all will magically work out. No, there is work to do and some actions are more appropriate than others. Knowing which to choose is wisdom in action. Again, the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga is Skill in Action. That said, I have no control over others. To truly know this means I do not act in a certain way so others will respond in kind even though I hold deep desire and commitment. That would be quid pro quo and ultimately the building blocks of a painful self imprisonment. I do it for me, for the me I wish to be more and more. It is challenging but I choose to do so because above all I desire freedom.
As more and more space is opened for me to see, to contemplate before I act, I more naturally choose to respond with what feels right and it is closer and closer to kindness; not only to others, but to myself. This is perhaps most challenging of all. To treat myself with true kindness. But it’s getting easier.
The more cumulative time I spend in meditation, in the spaciousness of my heart the more anchored I am to my truest self and the more naturally I move through the world acting as I know myself to be, free to choose.
Make no mistake, it is hard and I do not often like my choices but they are there if I have the eyes to see. I know that every action I take leaves its trace on the world and more directly in me. I want that trace to be the best possible one because it matters. Do unto others leaves its mark no matter the subtlety or gross nature of the response.
Meditate. Meditate and forge a pathway to the heart, settle and expand awareness and watch perspective increase. Meditate, clear the clutter that prohibits us from seeing choice and render the capacity of the mind, like a more powerful microscope, to peer deeply into the matter at hand, whatever it may be. Meditate, anchor awareness and in that, build a ledge of freedom that permits space before we do unto anyone or anything. Meditate, know your self and move more freely in your choice even as the world sometimes does its best to pin us down.
Experience freedom for yourself and build on it as you choose to move through the world rooted in the marriage of heart’s desire and mind’s intelligence. Make skill in action a reality.
Build Home Behind Your eyes
The recent hurricanes, fires and loss of precious life have reminded me of the fragility of our physical home.
The desire for home is a universal calling. We all yearn for that place of safety, support, contentment, santośa in sanskrit. Truly as Dorthy discovered at the end of her journey, ‘there is no place like home’.
It is deep in the human soul to want a permanent stable home and outward circumstances continually change; it is the nature of things, to change.
I started meditating seriously 10 years ago with the intention of “building home behind my eyes”, a stronger never to be lost home because the earth kept being pulled out from under me. I wanted to be finally grounded within to such an extent, that no matter what the world throws at me, I will always have an anchor, always be home. Here too, as Dorothy learns, we always have the power to go home. We just need to discover it for ourselves.
The practice of meditation invites us, allows us to know the light in ever deepening ways. A true ‘stumba’, a column of support, that permits an inner strength and stabilization in the light of our own sweet consciousness; to know the great heart as source and true nourishment. To be so held and supported by this, that come what may, nothing can ever truly tear us from our home.
And then to begin to recognize its luminous quality shining everywhere, in everything. In effect bringing us home wherever we may be.
Home, held, supported, unconditionally loved. We sit to build home behind our eyes, to recognize, nurture and become ever more stabilized in the light of our hearts and in doing so, recognize that we are this light. As this knowing grows, we begin to recognize the light everywhere. And then even as we celebrate our physical surroundings, the knowing of “wherever I hang my hat is home” comes to be our authentic experience. In this we are freed.
There is great pull within me though, a pull to stay home, to barricade myself behind the doors until the storm passes. These days the storms are becoming more frequent and more powerful. There is a risk of catastrophe fatigue and I am aware of the danger of it all becoming ‘normal’.
It is truly painful to see suffering and feel the incapacity to effect positive change; to even know where to begin. So turning away often feels the kindest thing to do.
Home in the highest sense is not a place to hide but a place to refresh, rejuvenate, refine. From the householder yogic perspective, it is a refuge from the storms but only so we may settle, nourish and gather the best of who we are so that we may come out and serve.
There are times I think it would be lovely to be a true renunciate. To sit on top of a mountain or by the sea's edge and meditate, read, contemplate, write and offer prays to the world. But I am not such a one. I live in the world. I have worldly responsibilities, people who count on me.
No matter how much I would like to stay in with my eyes closed, I must open them and engage with the world. What then are the practices that will permit me to do so with all the intelligence I possess? To continually refine my understanding and deepen knowledge of every sort I am naturally taken home to my heart, to know the source of every creative impulse.
Resting here, in the vibrating silence of deep meditation, I am home. We carry this home with us no matter where we go. It is the pulsation of time spent within and engagement with the world without, that permits us to bring the truest qualities of home out into life.
We meditate for ourselves, yes. But in its natural, evolutionary expansive capacity, we meditate for those we love and for the world.
Can Meditation Save The World? #10
Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do to save the world was sit down, be quiet, close the eyes and go inside for 20 minutes a day? In other words, meditate? Yes that would be incredible.
But it’s not the case. Meditation by itself will not save the world. It will add to the sum total of stabilizing energy created and reflected in the world. We are after all, beings of vibration and we do resonate with the pulsations around us. There is the cumulative effect of ‘good vibrations’ to consider and the profound effect had when we truly know, experience our connection to each other at, and in, source. But that in and of itself is not going to bring about the change the world craves. For this we need to bring the light to bear. We need every sort of intelligence possible.
Seeing is believing. We think what we see, sense, know is the truth, well not always.
“Illusion is the first of all pleasures” says Voltaire. Add to this confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs and it’s easy to see why it’s so hard to have honest discussion; to work together to uncover the best course of action in almost any arena.
Turns out what you don’t know can harm you. And yes, what you don’t know can still assist, but it is in the knowing that we can choose which course to champion. Choose to know your best self and then live life on this basis.
The unexamined life robs one of life’s gifts.
We can heighten senses and increase the possibility of getting to the truth. It takes commitment, a continual willingness and desire to refine, to go deep. It takes, in a word, practice.
Our beliefs are often, if not always tied up with identity, who we think we are, the groups we identify with. In deep meditation, we loosen the grip of that hardened identity and in that moment we are freed to see, experience more clearly the fullness of our existence. Yes we are that person we know ourselves to be and we are so much more. That knowing doesn’t take away from life, it adds immeasurably to it.
In the end it is up to each individual to examine his/her life. Or not. If not, the risk of being caught permanently under the spell of illusion reigns supreme, and we remain imprisoned by a limited identity and a contracted sense of self. Which is naturally reflected in the life we lead.
In choosing to examine, senses must be heightened, knowledge of the deepest source known and intelligence of every sort called upon. In a word, practice.
Meditation won’t cure the world’s problems but it will assist each individual in resting their social personas for awhile and in that quiet space a deeper knowing occurs. Some call it connecting with the heart, or source, others God or nature.
However defined, by going deep inside, awareness touches the space from which all creative impulse is born. Resting here we touch our commonality, the source from which we all arise. In its unity, this source is divine, certainly it has the capacity to define our humanity.
Then, as each one makes their individual offering, as must be done, this light, this knowing will more naturally be reflected on the surface of life. Call it divinity in action.
So perhaps meditation can help save the world.
It will most assuredly settle and expand each individual awareness and in that, do more than any single activity on the surface of life can hope to accomplish in helping us see the truth, we are connected. No doctrine, no text, no political party, no song or drug, no oratorical skills worthy of the angels, will convince a single person of this.
This knowing must be truly authentically experienced in the heart of each being and this just might save the world. There is work to be done and it requires intelligence of every possible sort.
Meditate. Know your highest self. Uncover what you inherently possess, how to go about gaining more of what you need and how to use it all in service of your deepest values.
Do it for yourself and watch the effects naturally extend to your loved ones, your community and the world. Meditate, the world needs you.
Make Meaning #09
Do things happen for a reason? Or are we simply driven to find reason in what seems chaotic?
When our hearts are cracked open by something achingly beautiful or wrenchingly sorrowful we see, experience the preciousness, the tenderness of life in that moment and we are driven to make sense, bring order. Man’s Search For Meaning, as Viktor Frankl wrote, continues. We must find meaning, open to life, connect in order to imagine a better sustained outcome. But more than find and imagine, we must as Carl Jung said, Make Meaning.
In this we are invited to engage, to participate, to make an offering in whatever manner possible in this moment and the next. We do so, not only to assist others, but self. This denotes action. How do we act, how can we act as close to our hearts with as much connection to our knowledge and value? More, how do we increase knowledge and open, expand perspective? We must hone our senses, open to life, become vulnerable. As Vyasa says in the Yoga Sutras, “the yogin becomes as sensitive as an eyeball.” Sensitivity, vulnerability is necessary to take life in, to permit ourselves to feel is prerequisite for any intimacy, for love.
If it were only this we might be ripped to shreds. But the practice of yoga is kind. We become more sensitive yes, but also strong and in that strength a steadiness, poise. Space is made to develop what Paul Muller-Ortega calls a ‘ledge of freedom’. A perch to stand upon and choose to engage in the best possible manner under the current conditions to the degree possible.
This requires awareness in the moment, an ability to both settle and expand. It also requires knowledge of every possible sort. What can I do? How? Then action follows. We offer our gift, skill, talent, attention in its most potent form because we have spent time deep in the source of originating matrix. This is the space where all sequence emerges and in doing so, we bring some of the light of that knowing out with us.
Finally, there is surrender. Ultimately we are not in charge, but there is something for us to do. I think of this like the sport of Curling. Sweeping the ice, I clear away any hindrance permitting the stone, in this metaphor the light, easy natural passage. As my perspective increases the space cleaned also increases and the light naturally expands opening a path.
The practice of surrender is challenging but benevolent in that it frees us. We care, in fact we care more, we do become as ‘sensitive as an eyeball’ but we also find less attachment to the outcome and in that we are free to do more, to gather our wits offer, refine and then offer again.
In its highest application we experience Karma Phala Tyaga of the Bhagavad Gita. We are most definitely entitled, says the text to our labor, but not the fruits of that labor.
In our expanded freedom we are able to increase perspective, see, hear more. We are able to access skills, talent, knowledge and to know where to go to increase what we need. A sort of innocence is brought to bear. How best to act now, in this moment, in this situation, with these tools?
Life is precious. Yoga is the practice that invites us to find, make and offer meaning. It is a two step process. First we go in, settle, connect, nourish. Clearing the accumulated debris of life lived, when we come out we bring the light more fully to bear on all we do naturally.
We are in a very real sense capable to make meaning out of suffering, out of joy, out of what is seemingly mundane because we have connected with what is most meaningful, most true in the heart of our very own being.
Meaning is really not given by other. It is for us to determine, find and make.
To love, to see love, to act out of love, requires a vulnerability an opening, a surrender.
Surrender to your Self. Meditate.