Experiments with God

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Recently we had a fire at Yasodhara Ashram where I live.  The roof of our Temple was burnt and it has had a big impact on the community.  Now we are in the assessment phase – asking is it structurally sound?  What is the best way to rebuild?  What has to come down before we can build up?

I have also been reading a book about the coup in Chile and all the awful things that the human mind is capable of manifesting.  And it’s got me thinking that there must be something bigger – there must be something more than emergencies and torture and lies.  And its rekindled the desire in me to connect to this something more.

The main symbol that we use for the Divine at the Ashram is the Light and we talk about the light of understanding and the light of wisdom.  We also refer to the symbols from the Hindu tradition – Krishna – the blue god – a playful trickster who plays the flute beautifully and will steal your heart, Tara, who is young and playful and brings compassion, and Durga, a fierce feminine force that rides a lion and kills the demon of egoism and pride.  These symbols represent the particular qualities of the Divine personified so they are easier for the human mind to grasp.

And so my question is – how do I create a personal connection to something as intangible as Light or as foreign as a blue flute playing god?  How can I bring this something more into my life?

I start where I began.  My first experiences of feeling really connected to something greater than myself occurred in nature, in movement and in listening or participating in amazing music.  And these are three ways that continue to help me to feel connected.  So I start with what I know and go for walks, spend time at the beach and remember to play music for myself.

And then these other ideas that are less familiar become trials – experiments in my life.  Can I see the light of understanding in myself? In others?  And does this really help me to feel connected or does it become an intellectual game??

And where does playful compassion come into my day?  And what happens if I write a letter of all my sorrows addressed to the blue god? How do I feel afterwards?  And what changes in my day if I visualize a fierce warrior riding on a lion walking along beside me as I work ready to pounce on judgmental thought patterns?

Trial and error.  Experimenting and figuring out what helps me to feel connected and what doesn’t. What works and who works?  And how do I keep this connection alive?

Because what I’m learning is that it’s easy to say that I want to stay connected to this something more and it’s easy to feel the connection at the perfect moment but remembering that I want it and keeping it alive day to day is very challenging.

And so my experiments continue.  No conclusive results yet but there is exciting quality to the mystery of the search.  What is the essence of drifting piano melodies?  What is the essence of the stillness in the forest?  And what is the purpose of my life?

Be here now: battles with the Daydreaming Mind

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It’s typical for me – when a transition is coming up – to live in the future.  I remember my last 5 months working in the non-profit sector was a bit of a struggle.  I knew I was leaving and a part of me left early.

Now hilariously – in the exact inverse situation – going back to the non-profit sector, and again the transition is 5 months away – and a part of me has already left.

How do I stay here?  How can I be grateful for what I have now?  Why do I glamorize the next step instead of seeing what the present has to offer?

Intellectually – I know that there are many components that I will miss – moving away from Yasodhara Ashram to a city.  I will miss living in nature.  I will miss the community here, the support that I have, the beautiful people.  I will miss the way I am able to contribute to this place.  The way I am able to dream and plan and innovate, to try to do things differently, to try to do things better.  I will miss the feeling of being a contributor to a community I deeply care for.

I am reminded of this today as I sit with someone who is leaving soon and listen to all that she’s learned being here, listening to all that the community has given her.   This is my work, to be a part of that, to help people enter in and find their own way in.

It’s only when day dreaming happens and the part of me that sees the limitations here comes out to play.  Then I feel lost like a leaf in the storm – subject to limitation with no choice.

But really I am more like a fish in a storm – there are some undeniable currents but as I encounter each one I have choice.  Will I swim against the current or go with it?  Or will I ferry across in search of the next stream?  My energy is limited but in every moment there is a choice.

So where do I want my energy to go?  And how can I direct the currents of my thoughts?

I know that I am where I need to be – that my work here is not yet finished.  Some of my projects are at the exciting beginning stage and need the 5 months to be played out.

And although there are challenges here there is also support. And it is my job to ask for that support instead of day dreaming about an ideal future that is somehow free from challenge.

Be here now – three simple words and yet an incredibly challenging task.  But as I learn to ask for help and embrace what I am faced with today – my world can open up and become beautiful now.

Telling a Story

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I let go of the need to be seen and tune into the music,
I tune into what it brings out in me.

I dance a story.

I am running distressed,
There is sadness.
I pause and look away, shield my face with my hand,
Run again.

I do not build up walls but stay with the feeling,
And I’m not so much running from it but running with it.

The song shifts to something fast,
The dancers around me tune into the new rhythm.

My story is not over,
and so I pause,
I stay still,
Feeling the rhythm,
Feeling the sadness,
Not running from it.

And then it lifts,
and joy pours in.

I run again – this time giggling,
We run together.

What is this story of my heart?
What is this sorrow and this joy?

I let go of the need to be seen and I become free.