Ode to Feeling
Such a refined wonder
An enhancer of every moment
A reminder of the fullness of being alive
Why did I avoid these beautiful subtle gifts?
I thought I couldn’t feel for so long…
But they were here all along…
Just my ability and willingness, was clogged
Now I can feel the brightness of feeling inspired,
The blue of feeling confused, deeply sad, discouraged
The freedom of silliness, relief, amusement, peace
The pang of annoyance, attachment, detachment
I can feel the fullness of the opposing:
Focus & distraction, honesty & denial
Nourished & needy, vibrant & dull
Lonely & loved, graceful & unsteady
Beautiful & ugly, foggy & clear
Passion & downheartedness, weak & strong
Humble & selfish, energized & lazy
Comfortable & dissatisfied, hungry & full
Compassionate & harsh, meaning-full & mind-full
& all of these…are pure blessings
I am alive,
The source of all these is Divine,
Without a negative, there could not be a positive,
“Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished” (Lao Tzu)
To feel…feels so good
Spend a moment, a few, an hour, a day,
Noticing…how infinitely complex,
Is this gorgeous experience called life!
So we left off in Part One, of after having gone through a process of intense purification, on the note of inspiration to dive into meditation. This thought had come to me, and I was open to exploring it:
“The best way I can serve God, the most I can do to show my adoration, dedication and surrender, is to go deeper, get closer to that force through meditation, breaking through the veils of illusion of the mind”
How did that go?
Well, the very next day the topic I picked was The Uncommon Path, a book written by my old boss. On my kindle I was about 90% done with Gandhi’s autobiography (if you haven’t ever seen it in hard copy…it’s a monster! Well worth reading, and definitely a time investment!), and I felt that in order to start a whole new pretty big book, I needed to finish the one I was already in. So, I dedicated a whole day to finishing My Experiments with Truth, and then three whole days to reading Mick’s book. So, right after having this flash of inspiration to meditate, I was meditating for about an hour in the mornings (and not very successfully), doing about an hour of yoga (and not very wholeheartedly), eating breakfast, then hopping my mind straight in a book for the rest of the day. I felt this contraction, like “I have to do this so I can take more topics!”.
I have no regrets of reading these books. Gandhi soaked me in truth. His openness, authenticity, passion and thus power, inspired me like crazy. Mick’s book, was a really good experience for me! It was really cool to have the experience of knowing an author of a big book like that (The Path of Awakening Authentic Joy!) personally, because it really challenged me to stay open, to not bring my experience of him into the knowledge he passes. There were many good points. It is definitely an extremely well-researched book; he compiles the work of Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, Eckhart Tolle, the Big Mind Project, and many others into a very easily digestible package. Some quotes I really enjoy:
“The greatest evidence of awakening is the ability to come together with other people in absence of personal conflict”
“If you find that you are obsessing over positive or negative qualities in another person or situation, it is likely a snapshot of denied or repressed aspects of yourself” (“Shadows”)
The compulsion of, “My story needs to be heard and received with a hug” is purely reinforcement of ego
More than anything I benefitted from his enforcing of the importance to shift from transient to eternal goals. Thus, the importance of recognizing the roots of intentions…is it to awaken more deeply? For the development of awareness? Or to create/avoid an emotional state? Or to support self-image? There was a whole 60 or so pages dedicated to an evaluation of how your values reflect in how you spend your time, with 9 different exercises I think! This helped me realize that how I wish to live is definitely different than how I do live. So, it sent me towards realizing, yet again, that I need to be spending much more time meditating and working towards my spiritual evolution. That is what my priority is, so all else needs to learn how to be subordinate to that.
So, I woke up on Day 12, ready to try again! Then, for the next 12 days, all the days leading up to my birthday, I was starting to get my feet wet in this. My mornings were being spent in a way I liked better (I decided that the feeling of guilt of not adhering to my tapas wasn’t good, so I made a different, less constrictive tapas, and this was much better, sometimes I still struggled to prioritize it, there just aren’t enough hours in a day, are they?! But I was happy to be more tapped into following the flow). I was finding I was gradually able to sit for longer and longer. I had days of really enjoying moving, I even started to exercise and to dance many days! On these days my yoga asana practice was very beautiful, I could just enjoy and relax. And then I had a few days where I didn’t feel as much like moving, so I sat for longer and longer, trying to meditate, sometimes writing poems or opening my eyes to enjoy the incredible world outside. It was becoming easier to slow down. After my morning sessions, so between 9-11, depending on when I’d started between 5-7 (some days I’d use a timer to make sure I was sitting for at least 90 minutes or so), I’d make my breakfast smoothie and pick my topic.
One day I decided to count my topics and I realized I had way more than the number of days I had left (I had added some more), then I had the thought: “Oh gosh! I’m never going to have any time to just be! I better do multiple topics a day so at the end I can not have any!” So thus we set into this phase of spending the afternoons doing.
This of course wasn’t all bad, I certainly enjoyed myself and learned so much. Maybe now is a good time to integrate some amazing quotes:
“Cultivate the natural instinct not to settle into complacency but to question, to strive, to know who we are, why we are and what this love in the heart is for” – Sahajananda
“With enthusiasm obstacles become obsolete, hard work comes from place of joy” – Sahajananda
“This fire is the very nature of the universe. Once we realize that Divine Presence is everywhere, we start feeling that nothing is too small or impure to be excluded from it. Everything starts to have a secret meaning-a falling lead, a bird call, the shape of a cloud…all start telling us poems of beauty and share with us this same love. The world starts speaking to us in the language of the Heart and this is how we cultivate awe” – Sahajananda and Psalms says the beginning of wisdom is the awe of God…
“Surrender invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and mystery of what we are participating in” -Deborah Adele
“Find out what pleases the Lord” -Ephesians 5:10
“This amazing simplification comes when we “center down,” when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, creating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd’s presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain. We are called beyond strain to peace and power and joy and love and thorough abandonment of the self” -Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion
“The eyes of the soul were opened and I saw love coming towards me. And I saw the beginning, but I did not see its end, only its continuation. And of its colors I can tell no comparison. And forthwith I was filled with love and an inexpressible contentment which, though it contented me, yet created the greatest hunger in me. I am so filled with that love that I do not believe I could ever do without it again” -Angela Di Foligno, Ecstatic Confessions
“I see you by desiring, I find you by loving, I love you by finding” -St. Anselmi
“Ah, come, come! Without You, not a day is happy, not a single hour! You are my happiness; without You, there is no one to share my table” -Thomas á Kempis, Imitation of Christ
“Longing is like the rosy dawn. After comes the sun… &
The kitten knows only to call for its mother crying “mew mew,” that’s all it knows. But as soon as the mother hears this cry, where she may be, she comes to the kitten” -Ramakrishna
“He who loves God consciously in his heart is known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3), for to the degree that he receives the love of God consciously in his soul, he truly enters into God’s love” -St. Diadochos of Photiki, Philokalia
“If we aren’t able to experience divine consciousness it is because we consider that it will manifest through common means of body and mind…maintain openness of the Heart and purity of intention and it will never disappear” – Sahajananda
“If maintain constant wish to benefit others, the power to do so will come by itself, as naturally as water runs downhill” -Dilo Khyents
“All my thoughts are sacred” – Luna
“Keep observing the heart, how does it feel as reality passes?” – Sahajananda
“Imagine living in a place that is alive and aware of sacredness…we do!” – Claud
“I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time I had not met success not because the will had been lacking, but because I had no faith in myself or the grace of God and therefore my mind had been tossed in the boisterous sea of doubt” -Mohandas Gandhi
“Your vision will become clear, only when you can look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens” – Carl Jung
“In emptiness, the light of awareness shines” – Luna
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all – Colossians 3:11
“Faith expressing itself through love” – Galatians 5: 6
“Faith is clarity of the mind, like a good mother it protects the yogi, he who thus has faith and is intent on discernment acquires energy, he who is endowed with energy gains mindfulness, and when mindfulness is present, the mind becomes undistracted and concentrated, and he whose mind is concentrated attains discerning wisdom by which he perceives reality as it really is” – Yoga Bhashya
“Only your soul clad in silence can lift the veil that separates Him from your embrace” – Ramakrishna
“All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction” – Swami Vivekananda
“My director, Jesus, doesn’t teach me to count my acts, but to do everything for love, to refuse Him nothing, to be pleased when He gives me a chance to prove to Him that I love Him, but all in this peace, in abandonment” – Saint Therese of Lisieux
“Through love one acquires renunciation and discrimination naturally” – Ramakrishna, reminds me of Jason Gray’s Christian song I used to love, “It’s gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in, more like giving my heart than pledging my allegiance”
“We become what we love” – Saint Claire of Assisi
“Opening to things as they are is what it really means to be still, quiet, in a state of meditation” – Adyashanti
“If pleasure is serving to amplify ego and not consciousness, it could be an obstacle” – Sahajananda
“I have not earned it, I was given the chance” – Osho (the whole universe coming together to provide this exact moment for you!)
“Why steal from ourselves the right to be natural, free, and happy with what is?” – Sahajananda
“To go beyond the body, you must be healthy, to go beyond the mind, you must have your mind in perfect order, you cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond, the mess will bog you down. ‘Pick up your rubbish’ seems the universal law” – Nisaragadatta Maharaj
“Liberation does not come from doing” – Luna
“Let the pilot fly the plane” – Babaji
“Duality and non-duality are merely concepts of the mind, you have never done anything good or bad, form and formless cannot exist separately” – the Song of the Avadhut
“Vain intoxication of the ego is dying a thousand times a day” – David Hawkins
“Being loved deeply gives strength, loving deeply gives courage” – Lao Tzu
“Compassion is the highest phenomenon: your love isn’t yours anymore because it is beyond need or desire, it is just the open force of universal love being shared freely and generously” – Sahajananda
“Self-awareness requires noticing our reactions to things…we must know our impulses and beliefs…is this reaction coming from non-acceptance?” – Sahajananda
“Are great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience and indomitable will must show” – Swami Vivekananda
“As long as your mind is contaminated by gain-loss, pleasure-pain, praise-defamation, fame-obscurity, no amount of study, contemplation or meditation will ever leave to liberation” – Dilgo Kyentse
Whew! That was a lot! And I could share so many more from the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, Be Here Now, the Interior Castle, Dark Night of the Soul, and the Holy Science…but I will let you read those on your own! To really enjoy these quotes, maybe write down or take a photo or copy and paste the ones you like…there are so many I know they are probably getting lost…but they are so amazing…try to find a few that really speak to you!
So yes, I spent almost two weeks in absorption mode. I was reading a ton, going to some amazing lectures, and reflecting a ton. I think the quotes speak for the variety of matters I was contemplating, I almost knocked out my whole basket of topics!
I think the most perhaps relatable part of this process that I’d like to share has to do with compassion. For four days this was the theme, first choosing ahimsa (non-violence/compassion), then the attitude of compassion, then the lectures of compassion and the practice of tonglen, then the topic of “History with men”. I’ve written about this same process before, probably around last October so I won’t go too in-depth with it. But I think last year I had more of an mental understanding of it, and this year, I feel I can actually recognize, maybe, what compassion really feels like and is.
Compassion is really, really, really, wanting what’s best for yourself and for others. It is not about pity or guilt, it is really believing that the way you/I/he/she/it/they are/am/is, and always have been, perfect. It does not matter if you embody this compassion for others, or for God, because they are the same, the point is that you are opening yourself completely, going past all the mind’s identifications with victimhood, hate, superiority or inferiority, blame or judgment, to allow the naturally comforting and all-knowing and all-embracing current of universal love and compassion to flow in and out of your heart.
Sound crazy? Try it…take someone you really feel some resent for, try letting some of your attachments to whatever conflicts there were, to just fade away (not superficially…really, let them go, everything has always been happening perfectly, doing what is for the highest benefit of all involved…think about it, would you be where you are now if it wasn’t for them?). Once kind of doing this process mentally, really accepting them and the situation, allowing yourself to fathom what it might be like to really want goodness and love for them in their journey…maybe try sitting and closing your eyes. Breathe into your heart and feel it enliven, breathe out and feel the natural joy of sharing that naturally vibrant force of love…do this, breathe in and out until you can really resonate with this, I swear you can. Then if you wish, envision this person, or envision yourself (or one now and a few later? 😊), and try to feel them, what it’s like for them right now, and just keep breathing, inhaling that crazy generously amazing breath of love and exhaling that force to them, really wanting to share it. Maybe some opening happening?! If you liked this, google tonglen, it’s a step further and you may like that too!
Yes…compassion…mmmm. So with this theme and the explorations I was doing with it in my heart and mind, I decided to finally write to someone. This was someone who I really loved who one night really did something that for a long time caused me a lot of pain. Like I said, last year when I was first exposed to understanding what compassion is, I had worked with him and others, but more at a mental level. This time, opening my heart, allowing my heart to really feel and acknowledge his and others’ sufferings…this gave me gentleness, tenderness, understanding beyond words. This was feeling compassion. This is feeling compassion, right now. Wow…it’s truly amazing, my heart and the universal force of love has softened my mind…it’s so beautiful!!! So I wrote a nice long letter to him and this letter also represents my process with others and what I would say to them if I had a means to contact them. I’ve read it again and again and it just makes my heart swoon…to really, deeply love…so, so, so beautiful a feeling!! Then the next day I chose the topic of love, and that night we had a vigil for Tara, the Hindu goddess of compassion, so we stayed up all night meditating on compassion until we watched the sunrise from the dock…and it was ridiculously beautiful and powerful…mmmm!!!
I think I will stop there for Part Two…
“We see what we believe” – Luna