Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rumi, Grace, and Human Friendship

Listen to our moving interview w/ our dear friend Coleman Barks -

Including selections from “Just Being Here: Rumi and Human Friendship,” a gorgeous collection of music and poetry by Coleman and virtuoso cellist David Darling. Coleman speaks about the extraordinary friendship between Rumi and Shams, and how translating Rumi requires entering a trance state. Coleman also shares his insights on the ever-transformative movement of grace.

Enjoy, friends ♥

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Free fall into the unknown… and the building blocks of Maya’s bejeweled palace

So much of the journey seems to be about increasing our ability to tolerate disturbing feelings, survival-level anxiety, and experiential intensity in the body. We have seen how we can use our spiritualities of “enlightenment” to avoid the facing of unmetabolized pain from the past, to sidestep our psychological wounding, our feelings of being unloved or unlovable at the deepest levels, and the lack of empathic attunement we all experienced as little ones. We intuit that there is nothing scarier than one moment of true intimacy with what actually *is* – and that even our fabulous “high” states of “full” “awakening” cannot touch our core vulnerabilities. 

We’ve all seen the ways we organize our lives around not having to feel certain feelings – including through our “me and my experiences” focused spirituality; any way to not make contact with the unconscious sadness, grief, and shame that is lurking in the shadows. The most radical commitment that we can make – far more challenging and infinitely more rewarding than that to some conceptual “awakening” or to our favorite guru or superstitious metaphysical ancient path, for these are relatively easy – is to the truth of our immediate, embodied experience. Are we willing to be 100%, fully committed to *this* experience, right here and right now? Do we really want to know what is true more than anything? This commitment is utterly terrifying if we let it in all the way because it is the end of all protection, all safety, all security, all ground, and everything that is known. But more than anything it is the end of the special, “awakened” me. There is no longer a guru or our magical thinking or our spiritual superstitions, conditioning, and constructions left to protect this raw, pulsating, naked vulnerable heart from shattering into billions of tiny pieces, from being fully and nakedly exposed to the gaze of the Beloved in all her forms.

When we want to know the truth more than anything else – really, more than ANYTHING else – we will be supported in ways we never knew possible. I’m hearing from so many of you lately that, finally, you know in the depths of your being, that this is what you want. Nothing else will do… nothing. No fantasies of some future enlightenment or “no one being there” or “the personality gone” or “the body shaking for hours” or “all of your unconscious removed by a glance from the awakened one” or “we’re all going to ‘pop’ soon in 2012” or any of it. It is over, it is finished. Love has no interest in any of this and nor do you. 

As the great Suzuki Roshi said, “There are no enlightened people, but only enlightened activity.” But somehow this isn’t enough for the special self, who needs to see itself as “awake,” “not there,” or otherwise wrapped up in some ultra-special “high” “high” “high” state of consciousness. We don’t want to see that it is only Life that could ever wake up to itself, through the vehicle of this body-heart-mind, and that it is never the person that “becomes awakened” (to then claim it to the world through endless stories about me and my specialness, me and my shift, me and my… me me me me me me me). We want to contrive an awakening for the separate self, who can then proclaim its awakening to the world, screaming from the mountaintops about how it is “not there,” prattling on through emails and special Skype sessions. “I” have awakened, “I” am now an awakened person. “I” have no self now! “I made it!!! "Really, I have!" (do you see me yet? Mom? Dad?). Of course love has no interest in this virtual sideshow. But there *is* someone who has a deep, abiding, invested interest in it all – our friend Maya, infinitely clever, seductress of delusion, weaver of the web of illusion. She looks on and smiles. Success. She has pulled the veil over yet again. No, really, how do you do it Maya? I am in awe… always… of... you. As the ever-elusive Jed McKenna reminds us - never (ever) bet against Maya.

When through some unknown grace we begin to organize our lives not around me and my amazing special experiences, but around the love of truth and the truth of love, we finally set aside the stories of how “there is no self any longer,” I’m “permanently” and “fully” awakened and all the rest of the ego-driven spirituality of me and my specialness. And then the ground falls out from underneath the spiritual self. This life is then no longer riveted to what new fabulous spiritual experiences I can gather, how special and awakened I am, how “no one is there” (that “no one” that we are so keen to tell others not yet awakened about), but rather our lives become organized around how Life wishes to make use of this body, these senses, this mind (yes, the mind is now no longer some “problem” or some other “non-spiritual” thing that some teachings continue to prattle on about), this heart, to scatter its essence throughout this world, for the benefit of others. 

Gone are the days of me and my specialness, our spiritualities of acquisition, the self-filled claims of no self, and how I can hurl myself endlessly into the most fabulous “high” states of consciousness, giggling for hours, shaking and passing out (while ensuring others are watching me while it all happens). Instead, our energy goes into truly being there for another - not so we can “awaken” them just by having them sit in our “divine” presence, so their “brainwaves can shift and pattern after ours,” (please) but because we care deeply for them and their subjective experience as they are and as it is; we want to know what is in their heart and what they have to teach us, what they have to share with us about the nature of love. Because we actually love them deeply, we are not seeking to "transfer" or dump some conditioned, constructed “state” onto to them from our fabulously high place, or to express at their expense any other self-consumed, confused agenda.  All of these concepts finally fall away into the womb of emptiness from whence they came. We’re left only humbled, filled with an unbearable gratitude for the immensity of love and its forever-unknown movement. We are launched through space with nothing left to hold onto, our constructed awakening fantasies exposed for what they are, the building blocks of Maya’s bejeweled palace. 

Can we open to the unknown together, to the groundless uncertainty of the movement of love, to the unbearable transformation that it demands, in each and every moment, embracing what is next?

The bad news is, you’re falling through the air, nothing to hold onto, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground. ~Chogyam Trungpa

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The sweet, fierce, and always transformative movement of love...

This morning’s sunrise in the mountains, reflecting off the new-fallen snow - purples and pinks and oranges and yellows and reds that I’m sure have never been known before. How is it that each ray of the sun, each un-nameable color, each illuminated snowflake can penetrate so deeply into a vulnerable and unprotected heart? In just one instant of giving all of ourselves to this moment, we are swept away in love: How could it be that one more day will be given? Somehow we’ve been offered one more opportunity to see how love will move out of the unknown and through this world of time and space, making use of this body, these hands, these senses, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, to scatter its essence in all directions. I’m not sure how a moment could ever be more complete, more full than this. 

I hope I make it all the way through this day to touch in ever deeper ways the preciousness of this human life, but should I not, somehow I know that will be okay, too – as so much has already been given.  So much is always being given to us on this journey, each moment, in ways we’ll likely never understand. We have a deeply rooted belief that these gifts will be offered forever, eternally, but the reality is that this one precious moment can never be re-lived, is offered only once, for us to see and touch, now – to fully receive it as the once-in-a-lifetime grace-offering that it is. The mysteries of birth and death pour through this life in each precious moment in the most unrelenting and naked way. Let us somehow in this day fully open to this gift of love, in all of its forms – both sweet and fierce, and always utterly transformative – resting in the knowing that for even one moment we have fully touched the miracle of this life exactly as it has been given.