Hello to All,
I am back home in Ashland after a month of moving around, and life is quiet and still here, cold and overcast, with snow sprinkled on the surrounding mountains like powdered sugar on chocolate cupcakes. If you live here, I have scheduled two satsangs, Dec 23 and 30 here at Shanti River Center at 6 p.m. and a video night on Dec. 27 at 7.
I awoke this a.m feeling very open and spacious, and realizing I had not felt that quality of freedom in being for a while. Awakening is like a falling away of everything that feels like resistance, leaving this open spacious presence-ing that has no goals or intentions or requirements. It just is. Awakening into the day can feel like this, awakening out of the day and into sleep can feel like this, and moments of release into pure openness can happen unexpectedly at almost any time in our lives.
Where does all this resistance about life arise from? Ask yourself, within yourself, what is it that is so unwilling to live life as it is?
In me it feels like a shadow, accompanied by thoughts of preference, and then an emotional catch in the chest (Self-pity? Sorrow? Regret? Irritation? ) And that which is most true in this energy field called “I” is simply watching, and is free to fall into the pattern it is inviting, or to expand awareness to a larger field which cannot be defined beyond that word presence or being-ness or okay-ness. Life is happening, life is flowing – it can feel as free and open as the vastness of ocean or as constricted as water wiggling down a tube. There is no division in the ocean – only the meeting of wind and rain and sun and wave and the life flowing within, warmth here, ice cold there, life in many forms below and above. Our deepest wisdom is undivided, willing to be all that is asked of us, moment to moment. But our minds and emotions pull us over and over into division and separation, wishing things to be better, more perfect, more comfortable or more exciting. Human beingness is division, articulation of desire and demand, waves of emotional energies woven into passing thoughts and dead memories and fantasies or fears of the future. When it goes our way we call it good and when it doesn’t we call it bad. But this stuff of humanness is only a phase of what we are, like a storm on the ocean is only an aspect of what is happening out there.
Awakening is not really the changing of any of this human-beingness. It is knowing ourselves to be something unspeakable, a limitless consciousness which appears to be in this temporary holding pattern of experiences, a wave that will rise and fall through various forms and possibilities, and return again and again to its source. We do not awaken, so much as something within awakens itself, remembers itself, and sees through the dance of energies it plays with and calls life. This doesn’t really stop the energies or dances; it only allows them to flow past without any clinging or resistance by the little “me”. When this happens it is freedom. It is not just freedom to avoid getting entangled in old patterns and emotions; it is the freedom to respond more naturally and usefully to what is arising moment to moment. It is not transcendence out of life but rather relaxing into life, knowing the transcendence is really a reflection of an underlying undivided Self that is the ground of all.
Nature is a good model for this. Look at the trees standing naked and tall with no attachment to the beauty of their leaves or appearances they enjoyed only a few weeks ago. Look at the animals burrowing in for the winter or the birds flying south without having tantrums about it. Look at the sky shifting color and content, light and dark, cold and hot continually. It seems that only the human mind and emotions get caught in resistance and clinging to having their own way, in greed and power and disappointment and argument.
Therapists would say these patterns are both genetic and conditioned. Either way they are not the natural way of the source – not the way nature lives its life, meeting what arises without resistance. Changing and flowing, adapting.
I wrote a chapter once for a book that offered guidance for the future – the turn of the century in the year 2000, called “Voices on the Threshold of Tomorrow”. The only advice that came to mind for me was the need for flexibility. Sometimes I am asked questions about relationship as I have been married nearly 50 years. The answer that comes again is flexibility. As humans we are moving experiences, flowing from one scene to another in the play that is our life. We are flowing energies and we only need to learn how to swim.
Unless we meet each day as it is and see what openness we can bring to it, what shifts might be called for, where we can accept and grow and release our contractions, we cannot be happy. The external world will not give us everything we want. But if we give up the one known as “the me” who is making demands, the internal world can be at peace. And if we are flexible and can move from the heart we will usually find what we need now.
Winter is a good time to move inward, to find stillness, and to recognize our natural alignment with nature. The ancient stories of the arising of new life in the midst of winter remind us that a deep truth of human experience is that out of the changes, the losses, the stillness and the darkness of winter something new is conceived and birthed, and that it comes from a mysterious source that is both divine and human, pure and open, bringing change and new potential into the human condition.
This reaffirms itself every year, over and over. Perhaps we can use this image to learn to trust life in all its elements and phases.