Light in the New Year

Am in a small town in a valley surrounded by mountains in southern Mexico. It feels a bit like small town outside Sante Fe, but much poorer. Am adjusting….there is nothing to do…unplugging is taking time, but was helped these last days with belly cobby wobbles and laying in bed. Seems this is one way that my body is bringing me home. Musings come in this new year.

Reflections on 2016 brings me to June when I was sick in bed.

Immobilizing symptoms offered me a week of sleeping and long hours looking out our second story bedroom window into the tree tops of a silver maple. I watched leaves glistening with morning light and birds flit branch to branch then fly away only to return a few minutes later.

As the days passed a deep calm settled into my system.

I gradually regained strength, enjoying a few months of lingering contentment -walking in our woods and doing very little, yet feeling my life so enriched with the simple.

In the fall that familiar angst to do, to become, to work on clearing my inner life, to obsess about work, aging, and questioning what really matters took hold once again. The ease was replaced with anxiousness as I pensively looked outside of myself for answers.

I felt unsettled and far away from the quiet contentment of watching light on leaves. A rushing kind of caffeinated energy flooded my system…I felt on the brink of some big Leo manifestation! 

So the fall unfolded into December and last night on New Year’s Eve, reflection upon my year arose amidst the fireworks.

Quiet days laying in bed in June came filtering back thru everything else that happened last year. I waited to sense what else might arise, yet nothing else perforated this prominent memory…and there was the feeling of guidance.

The first days of 2017, I feel less furrowed in my brow, unburdened, and closer to myself…at peace, informed by the ways I am so deeply nourished, allowing light on leaves to be enough.

Recent reflections about what stirs passion and these last months wondering about a fuller expression of myself, seems to have emptied into the simplest of simple…this dimension of myself I have demeaned and overlooked for a more flamboyant persona of who I think I am supposed to be. Perhaps my way of passionate expression is entrusting my body to the depths of quiet, and thru that portal into the numinous……..

The words of the teacher I am most guided by, Ramana Maharishi, come to me.

“Silence and not doing few know this.”

This self-return has a simple sweetness about it, a feeling uncomplicated and natural. Interior pressure releases. Nervous system remembers neutral. There is nothing to do or change or become.. Perhaps this is the experience of being…?…..a forgotten effortlessness…..simultaneously familiar and foreign, scary and safe, boring and beyond any thing.

Here in the Mexican outback, unplugged from daily routine, in a kind of retreat, landscape open, big sky… wandering….discovering…allowing the body time and space to recall and live the feeling of unbecoming…to allow it to be deeply ingrained enough to with stand reentry into the western way of things or at least to be a more established point of reference.

Wishing you a New Year of listening with awareness, trusting your unique flow, and your version of komorebi, the Japanese word for the play of light dancing upon green leaves……

Love, Patricia

Practicing Love & Compassion in Times of Challenge

 

I write this on new years eve as the unsettling year of 2016 comes to a close.   Although many people are pleased with the outcome of the recent presidential election, it has been an troublesome year for me and many others.  Clearly we are in a time of significant upheaval in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and many other regions of the world.  Climate change is causing droughts, flooding and rising sea levels, resulting is a significant refugee crisis.   People on both sides of the political divide feel ignored and threatened.  There is a great deal of uncertainty which causes many to react in fear and anger.

As concerning as these times are, those of us who seek to live with more consciousness are presented with an opportunity to see how we are responding to these events.  Are we rolling in reactivity in the form of fear, blame or despair or are we able to respond from a place that is more conscious, wise and loving.  All of us that have been on the spiritual path for some time have heard over and over of the need to respond to anger, bigotry, sexism and hatred with love and compassion.   It is one thing to know this in the abstract, but quite another to actually practice this.  Are we able to summons enough spacious awareness to stop and feel our physical sensations and notice our thoughts when we are reactive, rather than rage at and blame the “other”.  

This is not to say that we let go of our personal perspectives or fail to take actions that we feel important, but are we able to take responsibility for the breakdown in civil discourse and the inability to fully listen to each other.   Are we able to respond and take action from a place of as much love, understanding and wisdom as we can reach in ourselves?   

“World problems cannot be challenged by anger or hatred. They must be faced with compassion, love, and true kindness ….”  The Dali Lama

Most of us want to live with more peace and less worry, fear and unrest.   One of primary causes of a lack of peace is our self-centered focus.  Love and compassion are a direct path to inner peace as these turn attention away from our ego-centric focus.  So not only is this time an opportunity to bring a greater consciousness to the world stage but an opportunity to cultivate an atmosphere of inner calm and peace.  In fact the Dali Lama states that compassion is one of the most direct paths to Joy.

“If you understand me well, drop all fears and love more and love unconditionally – and don’t think you are doing something for the other when you love.  You are doing something for yourself.  When you love it is beneficial to you… Don’t say that when others love, you will love – that is not the point at all.”  Osho

So my intention as we transition into the new year is to listen more, to attempt to understand another’s perspective, to notice my reactions and to use every opportunity  to deepen my commitment to the practice of love and compassion.

Love,

Surya

 

Explorations on Love

“When you love, give it everything you have got.
And when you have reached your limit, give it more,
And forget the pain of it.
Because as you face your death
It is only the love that you have given and received which will count,
And all the rest:
The accomplishments, the struggle, the fights
Will be forgotten in your reflection.
And if you have loved well
Then it will all have been worth it.
And the joy of it will last you through the end.
But if you have not,
Death will always come too soon
And be too terrible to face.”

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Many years ago I attended a retreat in Germany with an Indian woman named Mother Meera. While staying at a small rooming house with other participants, a man from London gave me the above poem by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in the work with terminally ill people.   I was deeply touched by the poem and have read it to groups in hundreds of retreats I have facilitated over the years.  The words and feelings of this writing are always fresh and alive to me after all these readings. 

Our conditioning, fears, values of a strongly materialist culture and many the many distractions of our modern word can often cause me loose sight of what really matters.   This poem always  helps be bring my priorities into sharp focus.  When I stop for a moment and reflect on these words there is absolutely no question what matters most – understanding and living real Love is my priority.  Nothing else comes in a close second.

My first sense of unconditional love was my early childhood with my grandfather.  I lived with him on his simple apple farm in a rural village in upstate New York.   He died when I was only 5 years old, but in those few short years I had countless experiences of feeling unconditionally loved.  We went for rides on his tractor in the orchards, he took me fishing, we listened to the Lone Ranger on the radio in the evening at the kitchen table, he took me to the soda fountain in our little village, he took me for my first haircut at Henry’s…  I could go on and on.   I don’t know that I have ever experienced anything quite like it ever since.  After he died I lost connection with this felt sense of deep unconditional Love.

I attended Sunday school and church in our village at the local church and heard many teaching of Jesus about Love.   I was open and completely agreed with all of the messages, but I was not able to actually feel what this was. 

Many years later as an adult and going thru a life transition, I attended a 10 day silent meditation retreat at the suggestion of a friend.  Those ten days were grueling.  I experienced countless buried emotional wounds, boredom, anxiety, physical pain and cried for much of the time.   On the way home from the retreat I stopped at my parents home to spend the night.   I was filled with Love.  I could feel it in the cells of my body.  In a way we had never conversed before, my parents and I had a deep and rich conversation about Love.  I told them that I had never understood what Love was, but that I felt I was beginning to get a taste of what it is.

Of course as is often the case, the fullness of that retreat experience began to loose clarity as I got back into the details and demands of life, but the sense of this Love has remained available from time to time when I am able to stop and be present without the endless thoughts/stories the mind generates.     

I have attended numerous retreats, traveled to India many times, attended Shamanic ceremonies in the jungles of Peru, read countless spiritual books, been with various teachers in the U.S. and other places and focused much of my life to trying to understand and live what Love is.   It remains a “work in progress.”   At times this sense of “me” falls away and all that remains is the joy, peace and ease of Being.   All sense of separation dissolves.   Whenever I grasp for it or cling to it, it’s gone.   It seems to be the ultimate paradox: while there is clearly “work” to be done, more more “i” try to attain it, the further away it it.   What remains is staying open to Grace, Mystery and Awe.   Humbling….

Early on in my search a meditation teacher gave me the name and address of Ramesh Balsekar,  who was a disciple of the famous Nisargadatta in Mumbai, India.  This was before the days of e-mail.  I wrote him a letter asking if I could come to India to spend time with him.  A month later I received a handwritten letter from Bombay, India welcoming me.   Ramesh ended with the words “Love, Ramesh”.    I had always lived with the feeling that we only express Love toward those we have a close relationship with.  Of course Love is a couplex subject and an expression of Love toward another can be confusing.  But somehow this expression by Ramesh touched me and helped me to understand that my work is to Love everyone, regardless of what we think and feel about them and regardless of whether or not they are close to us.   I certainly don’t succeed at this all the time, but it is my heartfelt wish to do so.

This is a subject dear to my heart and I could and hopefully will explore it for the rest of my limited time on earth.  Perhaps at some point I will speak here of the Love of those I feel closest to, my wife, Patricia, my children, Luke and Emily and grandchildren, Perrin and Chloe.   I could write about unexpected gifts of those situations and people who have been a great challenge to me but this blog must come to a close for today.

Love,

Surya

“Falling in love you remain a child; rising in love you mature. By and by love becomes not a relationship, it becomes a state of your being. Not that you are in love – now you are love.” Osho

“Courage Is a Love Affair with the Unknown”   Osho

“The time has come to turn your heart
into a temple of fire.
Your essence is gold hidden in dust.
To reveal its splendor
you need to burn in the fire of love.”

-Rumi

 

“Love is what we are born with.
Fear is what we have learned here.
The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts”

-Marianne Williamson

Making Space For Everything Brings Peace

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”        Pema Chodron

An essential dimension of the practice of Yoga is cultivating the capacity to “let there be room” for whatever arises.   As we go thru life we build a vast array of concepts about how life should unfold.   The Buddha is claimed to have said the the major cause of human suffering is that we continuously seek to acquire something we don’t have and reject what we do have.  These could be material objects, relationships, emotional states, mental states, etc.   As we become more familiar with and abide more often in the natural state of awareness behind and beneath conditioned thinking, we are able to let go of these preferences and embrace life “as it is and not as we think it should be.”  In this allowing peace, clarity and wisdom arises.