Saturday, February 27, 2010
The body is mortal, but that one dwelling in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
-- Bhagavad Gita
When I say that this body is not me, I am not making an intellectual statement. It is an experiential statement. If you were to ask me, "Who is this body?" I would make an awful pun: "This is my buddy. I give him good food and good exercise, and I look after him very well, but he is not me."
My body has always been my faithful buddy, through many trials, and during many difficult times; and I let him know how much I appreciate his faithful service. We have an understanding: I take very good care of him, and he looks up to me as the boss. As Saint Francis used to say, "This body is Brother Donkey. I feed him, I wash him, but I am going to ride on him." Whenever we use drugs, or smoke, or drink immoderately, or overeat, the donkey is riding on us. Francis challenges us: "Don't you want to get that donkey off your back and ride on it?"
-- Eknath Easwaran
Friday, February 26, 2010
As I *come up for air* after a 2-1/2 week intense academic push, the image above describes the kind of physic space I would love to create for myself. I did manage to take a time-out last Sunday for an exquisite and deeply needed celebration with friends (the "Antipenultimo" blog). Other than the care of my spirit the Sunday gathering afforded me, I have been very neglectful during this period in the care of this amazing temple that takes such good care of me.
A new SparkFriend, THE_SILVER_OWL has been blogging her way through the alphabet. Each piece has spoken to me, some very deeply. As I move back into the sphere of loving self-care, her blog this morning, M is for Mirror, which speaks about things on my mind today, REALLY hit home:
I am resolving to make baby steps back into balance, little-by-little, clearing psychic, spiritual and material space to enable me to move forward. My Spark (and 3-D) Friend Sandra, also back in school, has been encouraging me over the last few days, sharing juicy wisdom and giving me practical points of departure, that I've been making good use of and will continue to today.
My spiritual journey is the largest circle around which all this other activity revolves. I came upon some important Teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche, a Dharma Teacher I have deep esteem for which rocked me to my soul. (He is the teacher of SparkFriends SNOGUM and CLAIR-A-T.) In completing this with his words, I dedicate them to all of my wonderful friends here, with gratitude for all you offer in this journey to our optimal wellness of body-mind-spirit that we're on together:
Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don't even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.
Imagine a blind turtle roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years, the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring.
And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer -- as rare, in fact, "as stars in broad daylight."
The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Why? Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation.
Pain, grief, loss, and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a very real and dramatic purpose: to wake us up, to enable, almost to force us to break out of the cycle of samsara and so release our imprisoned splendor.
-- Sogyal Rinpoche
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
This is too beautiful NOT to share -- Mary Oliver's gift is exquisite...and that she chose to share it with us is our profound good fortune.
THE CRICKET AND THE ROSE
beneath the rose bush
as the roses fall
to the very ground
that is his kingdom also.
So they're neighbors,
one full of fragrance,
of a single dry song.
We call this time of the year
the beginning of the end
of another circle,
and nothing more.
For the cricket's song
is surely a prayer,
and a prayer, when it is given,
is given forever.
This is a truth
I'm sure of,
for I'm older than I used to be,
and therefore I understand things
nobody would think of
who's young and in a hurry.
The snow is very beautiful.
Under it are the lingering
petals of fragrance,
and the timeless body
~ Mary Oliver ~
Monday, February 22, 2010
The linguistics class is haunting me: I'm seemingly locked into this conceptual linguistics loop of before-before...or, in this case the night-before-my-birthday-eve --
It was such a beautiful gathering of Anam Cara, soul friends, that heart-to-heart connection. There was so much love spewed about during the evening that my heart continues to overflow from the fullness.
The food was abundant, whole and healthy! Oh...uh, and then there were the desserts!!!
CAMILLE, with me in this happy shot, owns (she would say "caretakes") the property where the Sisters of the New Moon meet. We're building a labyrinth in the woods and we celebrate life around a wonderful bonfire as a climax to each monthly coming-together.
Above, my friend ELS (left) -- we "accidentally" ran into each other last year on a backwoods country road in upcountry Maui as she was beginning a 6-month around-the-world trip/trek with Tom, her lovely spouse! (See P.S.)
MARILYN, seated beside Els, is a geologist and created and gifted me with a stunningly beautiful mobile/chimes, made with beaver wood, glass pieces, and crystals. I'm sorry I don't have a photo of her beautiful art to share.
NELDA, far right, and I have participated together in the study of the work of Connie Kaplan, The Invisible Garment, where we've gathered around a circle-of-love for over five years.
SparkPeople got lots of plugs from me and SANDRA. Here she's hanging out with vino-in-hand between Marilyn and Nelda, ready to share her SparkPeople blogs on "Space."
The sheet she gave to everyone also had GinaBug's original blog, which had caused Sandra's musings:
Above Sandra has the rapt attention of Gail, Jean, Pam, Siaw-Khian and all but Fritzie's nose!
Camille relaxed in the rocker chatting with ANNE, a gifted Iyengar Yoga teacher who I've been studying with off-and-on since 1997! Anne led us in some pranayama (breathing) techniques.
My dear friend FRITZIE, the hostess-with-the-mostest, is smiling at my antics and Siaw-Khian is talking to Pam, out-of-sight.
Ahhh...a partial group smile...from the left Ellen, Nelda, me, Camille, Siaw-Khian. Back row Els, Marilyn, and shortie Amy.
I study tai chi and qi gong with SIAW-KHIAN, a skilled teacher, and she graciously agreed to introduce us to some qi gong techniques. It was wonderful.
I wish I had a photo of the exquisite wrap that ELLEN gifted me (she has another one on, but you can't see the beautiful detail). She works in Nepal (she's leaving again for Nepal on March 10) with talented women who use a Nuno felting process with wool and colorful silk saris -- oh my!!! I don't know if you can access this if you're not on FaceBook, but here's the link:
Above is GAIL's lovely profile. She and I share a lot of quality sister time. We also do the prison gatherings together along with Camille, our fearless leader.
Then comes Janice-in-yellow, Amy, Ellen, and JOHNYE (Janice's mom) -- English Literature Professor Emerita and published haiku poet:
Above Fritzie, Siaw-Khian, silly Pam, and Jean.
I first met FRITZIE and SANDRA at a Buddhist retreat. Then I got invited to Sandra's birthday party at Fritzie's beautiful home, and the rest is history! Fritize is hard to catch up with, because she's a very busy barrister, but I vie for her attention, because I treasure time with her. We also share the "Spanish connection," and she has worked to assist Hispanics via immigrant law.
PAM, AMY and I have become friends as New Moon Sisters. Pam adds "intelligent levity" and Amy, an artist, brings us beauty in space and form.
JEAN is a new New Moon Sister. She is a warrior...a blind woman who has traveled internationally, holds a graduate degree and many amazing life experiences...no half-empty cup for her!
A *mood effect* of JANICE playing and singing one of her compositions, dedicated to me, because it's my fav, about the preciousness of the present moment.
She also did a group Tarot reading of Past (at 79, Johnye is the oldest reveler, and she drew this card), Present (as the birthday girl I drew this card), Future (Siaw-Khian, as the youngest, drew this one) using a deck of her own fabulous design.
JANICE and I were housemates for around three years, firmly and exquisitely establishing our Sisterhood during that time.
The sisters went on...and on, enjoying the fullness of one another's blessings for almost FIVE hours!
A FRIENDSHIP BLESSING
May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul
where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
May they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.
-- John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
(Anam cara is Gaelic for "soul friend")
A couple days before Els and Tom continued on from Maui to New Zealand.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
-- The Buddha
When the mind is at rest, we are lifted out of time into the eternal present. The body, of course, is still subject to the passage of time. But in a sense, the flickering of the mind is our internal clock. When the mind does not flicker, what is there to measure change? It's as if time simply comes to a stop for us, as we live completely in the present moment. Past and future, after all, exist only in the mind. When the mind is at rest, there is no past or future. We cannot be resentful, we cannot be guilt-ridden, we cannot build future hopes and desires; no energy flows to past or future at all.
Past and future are both contained in every present moment. Whatever we are today is the result of what we have thought, spoken, and done in all the present moments before now -- just as what we shall be tomorrow is the result of what we think, say, and do today. The responsibility for both present and future is in our own hands. If we live right today, then tomorrow has to be right.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran
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