Today I struggle with news coming out of so many parts of our world, and I am at a loss for words. The best I can do is offer this prayer:
Take hold of us and shake us loose
From boundaries that separate us
From one another.
Give us the courage to let go
And do the hard work of peace.
Photo Credit: NASA Space Photos CD #137 Ultraviolet Light Source from an Old Galaxy
Many moments of synchronicity lately have focused my attention on the phenomenon of the aurora borealis. One short film from the PBS film festival left me gasping from the beauty of it all. The film is entitled, “I Am the Aurora Hunter.” http://video.pbs.org/video/2365129081/. I have embedded another video below of the Northern Lights in Alaska. To grow spiritually, we must be brave enough to expose ourselves to a powerful wind which can shake loose the static energy of our souls and free us to make a holy collision with the auras of our souls. The Book of Genesis pulls us into the vortex of the creation story with a description of “a mighty wind sweeping over the waters” (Gen. 1:2). The Hebrew word for wind in this passage is ruah, which refers to Spirit and wind interchangeably. This mighty wind has hovered over our universe since before time, waiting for opportunities to collide with us. Just as geomagnetic storms can expand the zone of the aurora borealis to lower altitudes, the Wind of the Spirit can snatch us up when conditions are optimal. The aurora borealis is most vivid at the equinoxes and we are most conductive of spiritual energy when our lives are in balance. This autumn equinox (Sept. 23) hold a promise of vivid cascading aurora for me if I stay faithful to my practice of watching which way the wind is blowing. Photo Credit: hoto credit: Håkon Iversen Photog – On and off Flickr via photopin cc
The German language has an expression which has served me well for decades. “ichgebundenheit” refers to one being bound up in the “I,” the “ich.” The Swiss analyst, Alfred Adler, used it to mean “self-boundedness.”
My homeless soul shuffles
In and out of the dark, cluttered corners
of ego, moving memories
from one place to another and back again.
Here’s the time she betrayed me-
over there is the Christmas Eve when he left me.
Paranoia percolates until obsession
has pilfered my peace.
© rita h kowats 2014
When I am ich gebunden I reach a point when the corners are so cluttered I become immobile and I know it’s time to break loose of my prison. I call to mind the image of my obsessions and send them loving kindness:
“May you be safe from harm.
May you be happy and peaceful.
May you be strong and healthy.
May you take care of yourself with joy.” (Buddhist Practice of Metta)
After many repetitions I release the wraiths of wrath and resentment and return home to presence. May you too find it helpful.
This photo shows the view I have from my camping chair under the trees at my sprawling urban apartment complex. The houses and the boats and the docks are removed. I only wish I could remove the noise that accompanies them. It was quite hot in my corner of the world the other day, so I went down to my sanctuary to read in the shade. My peace was interjected with loud voices and a radio at the nearby swimming pool, and the blast of city machinery doing maintainance on the trail next to us. Traffic on the congested arterial on the other side provided percussion for this orchestra of pollution. Given all the variables in my life, this is the best place for me to live, so I must learn to cope. I take myself away to the beach at off times of day, and that helps immensely. This early this morning before the noise ensued I heard birds and bullfrogs. Delightful. This is not enough, however. I have to make peace with this situation, so I returned to the mindfulness teaching of Thicht Naht Hanh. In response to a question about dealing with stress at work, he said this:
“…when you hear the telephone ringing you can consider it to be the sound of the mindfulness bell. You practice telephone meditation. Every time you hear the telephone ringing you stay exactly where you are (laughter). You breathe in and breathe out and enjoy your breathing. Listen, listen-this wonderful sound brings you back to your true home. Then when you hear the second ring you stand up and you go to the telephone with dignity (laughter). That means in the style of walking meditation (laughter). You know that you can afford to do that, because if the other person has something really important to tell you, she will not hang up before the third ring. That is what we call telephone meditation. We use the sound as the bell of mindfulness.” Thicht Nhat Hanh www.ic.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/dailylife/thayq-a.html
So, I will try using the sound of the leaf blower as the bell of mindfulness. Hopefully my faithfulness to the practice will replace impatience and frustration. You may find the embedded video helpful. Sister Dang Nhiem from Deer Park Monastery. I close with her “Poem for Inviting the Bell.”
My body, speech and mind in perfect oneness.
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May the hearer awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety.
“Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace is transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.”
We are not perfect, so why spend energy focusing on our limitations when we could use that energy to come home to our souls? We are like monkeys aimlessly swinging from tree to tree screeching, “Where am I, where am I?” All we have to do is sit still in one tree and we have already taken the first step into our inner sanctuary.
I know this to be true. Someone told me I was this monkey at age twenty-seven. The words singed my ego as they found their mark. Eventually, I accepted the truth and began the practice of sitting still. It’s been a long journey.
photo credit: Yavuz Alper via photopin cc
T.S. Eliot gave us one of the world’s most poignant lines of mystic thought, “For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time… music heard so deeply /That it is not heard at all, but you are the music/ While the music lasts.” Likewise, we ARE the Power while the Power lasts. The minute we HAVE power we have entered a place of no-power, a vapid simulation of life.
A Spiritual Practice for Becoming the Power
Breathing in, I become God’s Intellectual Power.
Breathing out, I release ignorance.
Breathing in, I become God’s Loving Power.
Breathing out, I release domination.
Breathing in, I become God’s Energizing Power.
Breathing out, I release complacency.
Let Us Pray:
Intelligent Power, grant me
a mind that is clean and clear.
Show me my way.
Loving Power, embrace me in my need.
Energizing Power, set me on fire
with your truth.
Yesterday the sun caught the vivid red, lime-green, and turquoise in my quilt hanging, “The Riple Effect,” and today this poem was birthed. Enjoy…
photo credit: photopin.com ed. rhk
Today as we celebrate what is great about our country may we be mindful of what is not great, and put on a new spirit.