Sunday, May 19, 2024

Hero's Journey

    Some still imagine that they're floating along on a lazy, hazy "smooth ride," but a jarring wake-up call has been clanging for some time. Real life is dragging ALL of us - personally & collectively - to rehab right now.

Personal level - one's health
Lamott's older brother “John still had such a handsome, hard casing that when God finally reached a tipping point with him, He or She had to use a very heavy hand: John got severe rheumatoid arthritis, which sent him to bed for days on end during flare-ups. He cut his work life in half, needed a cane to walk, and then a cart for longer distances, like getting around the Chico’s Costco. Then his liver began to harden and die off in spots. And those things he had always kept at bay – the grimy, the real, and the powerlessness – were now obvious aspects of his life. The smooth ride was over.
    Anne Lamott. “Small Victories. Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace.” Riverhead, 2014.

Collective level - earth's health
The people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis, whose wise indigenous cultures have been plundered to create hyper-individualistic economies, and who have the least financial resources to manage their local waters, air, and soils are already suffering the most. It is shameful that instead of joining hands to face the climate derangement, the current global geopolitical order is inflicting gory violence upon people in the Middle East, where everyone will be displaced by ongoing global heating in the next few decades.
    A vibrant and ongoing sense of local community that takes meaningful actions cannot be created without vulnerably connecting over stories and releasing our layers of personal and collective grief, rage, fear, and guilt-shame.”

    Kritee Kanko PhD "Climate Grief, Communal Power. A Zen Teacher Invokes the Parable of the Mustard Seed to Call for Intersectional Solidarity from the Larger Buddhist Community." Tricycle, April 4, 2024.

Personal Unconscious - Universal Consciousness?
week or so ago, I had a strikingly clear, memorable dream. I was driving in downtown San Francisco towards an archway, where the road appeared to simply end. So I stopped the car, got out, and walked a little bit ahead of the car and to my shock, I saw that the road sharply bent straight down at a 90° angle, to the street ~10 stories below. There was no sign of crashed cars at the bottom.
    I walked over to the left, to an adjoining archway, and there too, again without any posted warnings, the road bent almost as sharply downwards, but here, there was a wide, extremely steep stairway down to the street far below, with no handrails, so that at least theoretically, one might survive the very long, extremely steep climb down
    In the dream, I
was absolutely incredulous, and mad that there were no warnings whatsoever, that this was the catastrophic end of the road for my "smooth ride."

    This dream suggests (screams) that our collective next move is unexpectedly, right now, & highly uncertain. Are enough of us up to having a genuine "hero's journey"? - "A sudden & unexpected journey, promising adventure & peril. A test of character, strength, & skill. An ultimate battle that tests the hero's resolve. A triumphant return home." Can we first learn & then spread the understanding that life has real meaning & purpose?

    Wise collective action is demanded, which must be lead by wise, mature leaders. Our collective behavior will demonstrate whether enough of the human race can quickly, radically evolve to become a blessing - OR - continue devolving as an unsustainable invasive species.

"How wonderful it would be when all beings
experience each other as limbs
on the one body of life." 

Simon & Garfunkel - A Hazy Shade of Winter


Friday, May 10, 2024

An Open Invitation

    “A student once asked the spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti what his secret to peace & contentment was. He leaned over & whispered: ‘I don’t mind what happens.’ ” Toni Bernhard

    Life is this constant invitation to a radical form of simplification, of giving away peripheral complications to get down to the essence of it and carry that essence into the world and to other people. And so there’s always something to be given away.” David Whyte, SUPERB MEANINGFUL Interview: "Everything is an Invitation"

    “Only boldness can deliver us from fear. If the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.” C.G. Jung, “Symbols of Transformation”

     I realize that many habitually shut down & run as soon as they spot anything outside of their own comfort zone. BUT be bold, have courage & allow yourself to see through this, now 70yo, recovering alcoholic woman's wise, funny, deeply perceptive, loving eyes. Below, is a tiny sample from Anne Lamott's GEM of a book, “Small Victories. Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace.” Riverhead, 2014. Savor, enjoy!

    “I learned early in sobriety that there were two points of view about me – how my close friends saw me, and how I saw myself. I figured it was obvious that I was a fraud, and kind of disgusting. My friends thought I was irresistible, profoundly worthy of trust. I thought at first that one view must be wrong, and I made the most radical decision, for the time being, to believe my friends. I welcomed my lovable self back, with a small party, just the cat, me, and imaginary cups of tea, which I raised with an outstretched pinky.
    This welcoming toward myself took a big adjustment, a rebalancing of my soul. There had been so much energy thrown into performance, achievement, and disguise. I felt I had gotten a permission slip for the great field trip, to the heart of myself, in the protection of a few trusted friends.
    Frankly, I was hoping to see more white cliffs and beaches, fewer swamps and shadows, but this was real life, the nature of things, full of both wonder and rot.
    As soon as I was able, my friends encouraged me to go back to reclaim the devious, dark part of me. I invited her in: Pull up a chair at the table, hon. We’re having soup tonight.
    So our families were train wrecks; we’ve ruined the earth; kids die all the time. How do we understand something welcoming remains, sometimes hidden, that we can still trust? When all seems lost, a few friends, the view, and random last-ditch moments of grace, like Liquid Wrench, will do. Otherwise, I don’t know. We don’t exactly solve this problem, or much of anything, although one can learn to make the perfect old-fashioned, or blinis.
    I’ve discovered that offering welcome helps a lot, especially to the deeply unpleasant or weird. The offer heals you both. What works best is to target people in the community whom no one else seems to want. Voila: now welcome exists in you.”

     And David Whyte, in his POWERFUL book, “The Heart Aroused. Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.” Crown Business, 2002. writes:
    The only real question is not one of winning or losing, but of experiencing life with an ever-increasing depth. … ‘Why not go down … into the lake, consciously”’ Don’t die on the shore. The stakes are very high; the stakes are your life.”

    A good book should be an axe for the frozen sea within us.” Franz Kafka 

    We naturally try everything possible to achieve a state of perfect, unwavering blissful happiness - AND to FAIL - because Nature, life's external circumstances, are simply not tailor-made to comply with each one of earth's 8 billion individual human desires! Our quest is doomed from the start when we incorrectly assume that we are not good enough, not worthy, too broken, etc AND can only be OK AFTER we have fully controlled the external environment, which is not possible.
, our
task is to re-discover our true identity, as Zen puts it, to find "our original face, before we were born." Who we truly are is compared to: the deep, still ocean, whereas who we usually assume we are are the choppy waves on the surface; the movie or TV screen, whereas who we usually assume we are are the movies seen on the screen; the blue sky, whereas who we usually assume we are are the dark clouds.
of these metaphors are skillfully explained & expanded upon by Rupert Spira in this excellent interview Should you prefer to read the transcript : 


David Whyte :