Friday, April 28, 2017

Awareness of Awareness

"Be mindful of how you 'source' your Guidance.

How do you know what is 'right' for you?

Here are some experiments to explore this:

     • Wait until you are hungry and walk into your kitchen and open all the cupboards and refrigerator and stand there listening for, 'What food would most nourish me right now?' Be mindful of how this guidance comes to you - as images ... words ... feelings in your body ... clear knowing ... or in other ways ...

     • Before you get dressed for the day, stand in your room in your underwear ... and listen for how your Guidance comes to you for what to wear today ...

Does your guidance come through analysis ... intuition ... your body ... or some combination of these?

Then, expand this experiment to listening into how you listen for your Guidance in a myriad of other situations in your life, appreciating that Guidance comes through in different ways in different circumstances."

Joel & Michelle Levey

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our Human Body, The Universe, & Finding Home

     "In the Vajrayana traditions of Tibet, in the yoga traditions of India, in Taoist meditation in Taoist yoga, and elsewhere in world religions, the human body, and the totality of the universe, are equivalent realities, only in a different scale. To put it in another way, the human body (microcosm) is the reality of the totality of the universe (macrocosm), with all of the space, all of the eventfulness, all of the energy, all of the vast display, only happening in a different frame of reference, a different scale – the scale of the human body. 
     When we do somatic descent, it’s very important that we have this understanding. At the end of the day, the ultimate mysteries, the ultimate sacredness, the ultimate power, the ultimate immeasurable expanse of the universe is actually present in our human body. Now we can say that these are equivalent realities happening on a different scale, but there’s one way in which they’re not equivalent, and that is that we don’t have direct access to the infinity of the universe. But we do have access to the infinity of the universe in our body. So the external universe can only be known by observation, measurement, deduction, and we’re very reliant on scientific technologies to know about the universe in its most expansive extent. But within the human body, we are given the opportunity to experience those very same cosmic realities through direct experience, through the non-conceptual experience of our body. ...
     What we’re saying here is that when we breathe into the lower belly (hara or dan tien), and we discover the space – the empty, open, vast space – that is the source of our life, in our lower belly, we feel this is me. This is really me. And when we bring that energy up and we uncover it, discover it in the central channel, we feel this is my core. If I’ve been wondering my whole life who I am, and if I have been looking my whole life for my identity as a person, my ultimate identity that will be unshakable in the face of any storms and any onslaughts, we feel, we experience, that this is me. It’s probably one of the deepest experiences of human life. This is who I am. This is who I’ve always been. And we see that it’s indestructible, and it’s neither born, nor dies. 
     This experience of our eternal aspect, again it’s not abstract, and it’s not theoretical. It’s one of the most intimate, personal, affecting experiences you can ever have in your life. Once you discover that space in your own body, in your lower belly, and in your central channel, and you see for yourself, in terms of your own experience, that this is who you are. It gives you a different foundation for your living."

       Reginald A. Ray “Somatic Descent.” Sounds True, 2016.

Courtesy of Buddha Doodles

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Levels of Being in This World

     "We access the mind of calm abiding through recognition. What do we recognize? Awareness: the ever-present knowing quality of mind, from which we are never separated for an instant. Even though normally we do not recognize awareness, we can no more live without it than we can live without breathing. ... Discovering our own awareness allows us to access the natural steadiness and clarity of the mind, which exist independent of conditions and circumstances, and independent of our emotions and moods."  
       Mingyur Rinpoche

      “normally, for probably all human beings in all cultures, the default state is an ego state. In neurobiology, we know that the default state of most people, where they’re not doing something or actively thinking about something, is a running commentary about themselves and their own life and what’s going on. Trungpa Rinpoche called it ‘subconscious gossip.’ That is like a one-foot layer of debris on top of the ocean of our state of being, and most of us think that who we are is just this incessant thinking and ruminating and grinding away at our issues, obsessions and so on. We have no awareness at all of who we really are in the full sense."
       Reginald A. Ray

Phases of the Moonsnail by Kath Kornelsen Rutherford

Thursday, April 13, 2017

On Being Goal Orientated

     Renate McNay: “Do you think one has enough time in one lifetime to work through all of the delusions & traumas and become fully free & awake?”

     Reggie Ray: “Maybe that’s not exactly the right question. I personally do not believe that the purpose of life is to reach an end point of any kind whatsoever in human life or any other kind of life. 

     If you look at the universe, the universe never reaches an end point. You can say ‘Well we have the Milky Way. That’s an end point. And we have the Andromeda galaxy. That’s an end point.’ But it’s not, because these two are merging. And then there’s going to be a new super galaxy. 
     In the same way, I see life as a process of unfolding. And each moment of life gives us an imperative of the next step. And so, when your grief (over her son’s death) came up, your imperative was to work with it, to go into it, and to explore it, and to see where it wanted to lead you. And where it lead you was to an amazing place. See also: But then of course, there’s the next moment, and the next project. Life is a constant unfolding. 
     When Buddhists teach about ego and egolessness, what they’re really saying is that there is no fixed point in our lives, nor should there be. That life is a process of constant, constant unfolding. It’s life & death, life & death, and life & death. 
     Even psychologically we know that we go through cycles. A lot of times people think that the up-cycle is really that’s it, and that’s where they want to be. But if you meditate a lot you realize the down-cycle is so important because it leads to a new and more integrated up-cycle
     There’s been a lot of research into the teenage brain. We have a fifteen-year-old son. One of the fascinating things is he dysregulates - meaning he goes into a down-cycle, fragments, comes apart, falls apart, has emotional upheavals – then he re-regulates, and it happens three or four times a day. And research shows that that’s how they grow. That’s what growth is. It’s the light & the dark, pain & the pleasure, happiness & sorrow, going through night & day cycles. 
     And I think that that’s what life is. And I wouldn’t be that surprised, nobody really knows, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if it continues through death and beyond. I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”

Reggie Ray ‘Finding Realization In The Body’ Interview by Renate McNay

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Processing Trauma with Sitting Meditation

     “As long as there are prisoners in the dungeons and torture chambers of our own depths, there can be no freedom, because our current awareness, which we may think of as quite spiritual, are the wardens of the prisons. Our current awareness is keeping all those prisoners in their locked cells & torture chambers. A huge amount of our psychic energy, as we know from modern psychology, when we have unresolved trauma (the prisoners, our former & present selves) a huge amount of our psychic energy is tied up keeping them under wraps and keeping them down below, because we don’t want to experience the pain, the unbearable suffering that’s going on. But the point is that unbearable suffering is going on all the time, whether we know it or not. And again, as we know from psychology, it affects us and those unconscious parts of ourselves, those parts of ourselves that we do not want to face, strangely enough, they’re in control. 
     As you know, sitting in (a meditation retreat) hour after hour, day after day, one of the things we are learning is that our persona – this person that we would like to be, and would like to present to others – it comes and goes. It’s actually not that solid. And we learn to actually sit in a way where we’re not constantly rehearsing our inner narrative all the time. We can actually, periodically, have a moment of silence inside. And that ability to be in a place where the ego narrative isn’t reaffirming itself, is an incredible capacity. It means that we no longer have to put all our energy and attention into constantly maintaining ‘me’ all the time. It makes us relax. It makes us realize that, ‘OK I’m me, I’m doing it, I’m confident, I’m great,’ and then there are other moments when there’s nothing going on at all, there’s no ‘me,’ and then there can be other moments when I can be the prisoner in the dungeon. 
     And until those prisoners, which are ourselves – our former and present selves, formerly they were conscious and now they’re unconscious, controlling a lot of our behavior and tying up our awareness, until we can be them, we can’t see them. And until we see them and be them, we can’t give them their voice. This is the hero’s journey. Shamanism has a lot of outer things – there’s a kind of outer shamanism. But this is the inner shamanism. This is the hero’s journey into the darkness. And when we let go of our daylight adult personality, our persona, then we descend into the darkness and we become the tormented, the damned. It is dismemberment and death of our adult person. And when we do that, time after time after time sitting (in meditation) here, and going through all of these experiences, all of a sudden, fresh air begins to waft through those dungeons and torture chambers. 
     And the prisoners begin to wake up. And we begin to develop a relationship with them through seeing them, being them, and giving them their voice. Color begins to come into their faces. And they begin to breathe again. And they begin to become companions, strangely enough. And they remind us that they’re with us, and that we need to meet them over and over and help them. It’s a long process, but the prison doors have been thrown open, and the damned have been redeemed to life. And things begin to change. And our adult person becomes so much softer, and so much more tender about the whole thing, so much more sympathetic to how it is to be human, and more understanding of everybody, and the ongoing jostling that we do as humans, and rubbing against each other and bouncing off each other and having problems with each other, and being activated by each other becomes not an unwanted and condemned part of our life, but it becomes a morass that is a turgid with life. It’s a muddy bog that is filled with life that is about to bloom
     When we begin to see this very strange thing, that after we have been down in the dungeons, and we return, something is different in us. It’s the strangest thing. … When we return to the surface, after going through what we go through here, it’s different. We're more alive, more open, and feel inspiration that we didn’t know we had. And so what can I say? What can you say? 
     And that’s our process. We are rescuing, from the depths, sentient beings because … when you’re down in the dungeon, and you’re freeing some pitiful soul, who’s been chained to the wall forever, you are freeing that soul throughout the world, you’re freeing a part of yourself. And in freeing a part of yourself, you’re freeing a part of everybody else. It’s a strange concept… saving all sentient beings at this moment. And that’s how it works with us, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s world work when we make these heroic journeys into our own darkness, and are willing to open ourselves and expose ourselves to suffering that for most adult people, unless it’s forced on them by overwhelming trauma, they would not do it
     Nobody does it. We haven’t done it. We have to have a special lineage that drops us into the dungeons. And we have to do a special meditation practice, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year, we have to really go at great lengths, in order to arrive in the deepest dungeons of our being, and to be able to do the work there. 
     So I don’t want this to get too dark. I want to emphasize something you know very well also, that every time we come through it, so to speak, we’re a new person. There’s a new birth. And what we’re experiencing is a transformation in our basic existential condition. We have really, truly become a new being, on every level down to our cells. Every time we come through it, that’s what happens, and we can feel it. And we feel the lightness, we feel the openness, we feel the beauty of the world in a new way. We feel a tenderness for our brothers and sisters who are going through the same journey. We feel love, and we feel a kind of courage and capacity growing within us that we can do this work. We can do this. We can free the prisoners. And then, we sign up for our next retreat.”

 above from:
Reggie Ray - Freeing the Prisoner - January 2, 2016

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Box! What Box?

     Meditation can feel like a struggle, no matter how accepting & equanimous we try to be. Our mind can become a bouncy ball in a small box - one wall the here & now, the other walls our thoughts of the past or future
     Meditation instructions often suggest that to train a wild horse (our untrained mind), don't lock it in a confined stall, let it out into a wide-open field. Other meditations compare thoughts to transient clouds, floating by on an endless blue sky. What are these pointing towards?
     The confining box in which we struggle during meditation is not real, but a mental construct. While frustrating, at the same time the ego finds safety in confinement - the ego's natural tendency being to reduce & pin down all experience to simple, easy-to-comprehend, static sound bytes. So what lies beyond this nonexistent box?

     “No one to be, nothing to do, nowhere to go.” Ajahn Chah

     What happens when we "release the necessity to know for certain where we’re at, and who we are, and what we’ve accomplished"?           Reginald A. Ray

     Zen teacher Koun Franz on this subject:
Courtesy of Buddha Doodles

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Love Itself

at some point
we perceive
that we lack perfect love

we become

at some point
we realize
that we are perfect love


     "The mind creates the abyss 
and the heart crosses it."                               Nisargadatta

     "I was born 
when all I once feared
I could love.”                                                 Rabia Basri

     “I would define love very simply: as a potent blend of openness and warmth, which allows us to make real contact, to take delight in and appreciate, and to be at one with – ourselves, others, and life itself.
     ... love is the central force that holds our whole life together and allows it to function."
      Welwood J. "Perfect love, imperfect relationships. Healing the wound of the heart." Trumpeter, 2006.

Best Buds 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How You Look is What You See

If I had to summarize the entirety
of most people’s
lives in a few words,
it would be endless resistance to what is.
As we resist, we are in constant motion
trying to adjust,
and yet we still remain unhappy about what is.

If I had to summarize the entirety of an enlightened
person’s life in a few words,
it would be complete acceptance of what is.
As we accept what is, our minds are relaxed
and composed
while the world changes rapidly around us.           Haemin Sunim

        Haemin Sunim. "The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down." Tricycle, Spring 2017.

     “The ‘night sea journey’ is the journey into the parts of ourselves that are split off, disavowed, unknown, unwanted, cast out, and exiled to the various subterranean worlds of consciousness…. The goal of this journey is to reunite us with ourselves. Such a homecoming can be surprisingly painful, even brutal. In order to undertake it, we must first agree to exile nothing.”       Stephen Cope

     We struggle greatly with dukkha, and it's no wonder. Dukkha is so obvious to our "left brain" - the aspect of our intelligence on which we rely almost entirely. 
     But when we finally give up trying to avoid, accept (this side of) reality, and zoom in for a close look with our "right brain" - our whole being, then all of reality becomes apparent.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What If?

     "The truly undisturbed mind is not a private experience; it is more 'public.' That clear mind is of a single nature, so it is really everyone's mind nature. . . . The pure state of the unborn nature of primordial presence is the same for everyone."
       Kilung Rinpoche

     “How would you live today if you really knew intuitively that the inner dimension of your own deepest knowing / presence / awareness / mindfulness is actually a shared commons with all beings - just as the ocean is a shared commons for all the tossed and turbulent waves?”
       Joel & Michelle Levey

     What if just this - what we perceive, right now is - it
     But to actually experience just this requires that we first release all our ideas about, and other boundaries hiding it.
     How do I live now?

       See also:

North End Halifax, NS, Canada