Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Tall Trees: A Solstice Sharing

"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing of what you have received ... only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage." ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Whether stately arising amidst the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, deeply rooted into the rushing waters of the Amazon, or gracefully leaning along the grassy slopes of the African savanna, the trees of the world invite us to rest beside the silence of their living presence. Trees are the standing beings. Strong and flexible, they grow steadfast in their own authenticity; still, they garner the power to weather the shifting ambiance of the seasons.

To more fully understand the splendor, flowing through the hush of the forest, we only need go within and become aware of our own heartbeat. As the rhythm of our inner pulse quiets the mind, we begin to see all of existence through our souls' eyes. As such, we look and listen with our entire being... and in so doing, we rediscover that we are interconnected with the grandeur of the living canopy, the richness of the soil, the small patch of clear blue sky overhead, and the golden light streaming through.

This discovery is the majesty of heaven in which everything we witness becomes sacred ground simply through our recognition of its holiness. With appreciation, we remember to count our many abundant blessings. Likewise, we acknowledge that whatever is happening, no matter how seemingly dark, is a gift. And so we live with the treasure of a full heart.

On this solstice morning, take a walk into the forest and learn from the tall trees. Whether you live in the North where the noble Red Oak rests dormant under a blanket of snow-covered beauty or Down Under where the summer breeze carries the spicy fragrance of the Eucalyptus in all its evergreen glory, the magnificent trees of the Earth convey the very truth of our being: we are the children of Grace. May we honor our spiritual heritage, stand firm and have courage, move with the flow of life, share our love freely, and offer patience and compassion always.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just As We Are

"What we are looking for is what is looking." ~ St. Francis of Assisi

I think it is important to carefully observe our disappointments, especially the ones we hold up against one another. Every disappointment begins with an unrealistic expectation. Wisdom would show us that the most apparent invitation is to see that the discontentment is arising to get us to look at the expectation and observe that even more deeply. We might ask, "What is at the very root of expecting someone to satisfy a lack we are experiencing in ourselves"?

Can we begin to see that what we are exploring is the root of all attack? In other words, I want you to do this... and you want to do that. Our "this and that" are different, and so begins the conflict. To complicate matters further, we can't always clearly see what it is we want. Our own ambivalence creates an even bigger conflict that continuously goes on in our own thought stream.

Now comes the juicy part... for it is the fear of meeting that conflict within ourselves that drives us to look elsewhere. And of course, everyone else is out there playing out their own hopes and fears. It's a crazy dance, but there it is! Still, it's okay to stop and be silent for a moment. Right now, let's all take a deep breath. We can even relax our shoulders while we are at it.

With any luck, the silence takes hold and shows us that all we want is to be loved and accepted just as we are... no better... no worse... just as we are.

Friday, June 11, 2010

In Service

"Don't pretend to be a candle, be a moth, so you may taste the savor of Life and know the power hidden in service." ~ Rumi

We have this deep-rooted tendency to fall into the mindset that we exist to be in service to the world of form. This approach feeds ours habitual need to fix what was never broken. Because our form-based reality is merely a reflection of our own thoughts and emotions, it is quite delusional to think that we know what is best for one another. Moreover, our interference so often aggravates the situation and perpetuates further suffering among those we claim to love the most. As such, this propensity to fix makes us the great pretenders and merely serves to distract us from our true life purpose.

In focusing our attention on our spiritual connection with the Universe, we can truly be the humble servant. No longer needing to fix one another, we begin to see that we are simply here to love and support each another. And as we set aside our need to control the world of form, we open to fully and quite naturally unfold our wings. With nothing left to defend, we allow the candle's flame to extinguish all traces of egocentricity, to rediscover the freedom that we are and ever have been.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Love

"Through love thorns become roses." ~ Rumi

Love is revealed in our willingness to meet one another with an open heart. Many of us already recognize this truth and understand that love is made perceptible through sharing. Still, regardless of whether or not we are fully aware of love's potential, healing happens. Much like a river following its course to the sea; love is our very nature.

Without question, we honor love's fullest expression by embracing everything, including our darkest thoughts and deepest fears. In acknowledging this wisdom, our body becomes a sacred vessel through which love emerges and breathes life into our physical reality. And while all paths open from within the ground of love, all paths also return to love's door through the breath of love. Truly, we are love offering love to itself.

The invitation is to be kind and compassionate even when we cannot see eye to eye with one another. When we understand that there is unity in our diversity, we will celebrate, respect and honor the full range of our humanity. For while the crow cannot sing the eagle's song, each voice offers an essential chord in love's most perfect harmony.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Journey into Silence

Oh the music of silence! I love the eternal quiet of the sun, shining on the fields in the afternoon here at Safe Harbor. The rays of light move like a hand, waving ever so softly over the earth. Like a healer, it rests its warmth along my brow.

Then a cloud rolls by, and I feel coolness... then warmth once again. This wondrous light continues its play. Now like dancing notes, it moves through the tree tops and rushes in the leaves. I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, calling me Home. It breathes my name, and in that moment, I know that I am not alone for I feel the comforting presence of God's unconditional love and acceptance.

This journey into silence is the perfect reflection of the simplicity of my Being. I need nothing... I want nothing... I know nothing... All that I AM is the quiet of this light, playing in gentle, soulful awareness of All that there is and All that there ever could be. Truly, "I am one Self, united with my Creator." (ACIM W - 166)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Karma

"We are the heirs of our own actions." ~ The Buddha

In Sanskrit, karma means action. We create karma through thoughts, words, actions that we execute ourselves, as well as actions others do via our instruction. Moreover, it is through our karma that we perpetuate samsara, the cycle of cause and effect; past and future; and birth, death and rebirth.

In essence, the laws of karma are not meant to punish. Rather, they are simply the manner in which all things are set right and returned to balance. Most frequently, we generate negative karma though our desires and longings. We also create negative karma because of ignorance. Often, we simply do not know any better. Even with our best intentions, negative karma can be set into motion when others are harmed by our actions.

As long as we see ourselves as the victim of old, accumulated karma, samsara continues. On the other hand, through right and thoughtful action, we can mitigate the effects of past karma. First and foremost, we must be willing to take responsibility for our habitual swinging between pleasure and suffering. From this vantage point, we begin to see that we construct heaven and hell in our own lives. Moreover, we understand that we are the ones with the capacity to respond to any life situation through either acceptance or resistance. With this realization, the wheel of karma begins to wind down its relentless motion and eventually becomes still.

Finally, Nirvana is the complete and total liberation from karma. In the absolute sense, we are not separate from our actions. When the doer recognizes that he is inseparable from his actions, he also becomes aware that the actor and action arise and subside simultaneously. Therefore, in a state of total self-awareness, right action takes place quite naturally much like a stream, flowing easily downstream. As Tagore reminds us so perfectly, "Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Purification of Our Spiritual Awareness

Clear water flows forth,
From sky to ground, it runs free
To meet the great sea.

One of my earliest childhood memories is collecting rocks. I remember digging in the backyard with my small garden shovel and finding tiny pieces of quartz. I would carefully wash their surface in a bucket of water, rub away the dirt and sediment, and dry them until they glowed. My favorite pieces were ivory white with a soft amber cast. They were my lucky stones, and I used to fill my pockets with them and carry them around. In my hands they felt smooth and round, polished by eons of time.

When I was a little older, I used to explore along a small creek. One bank was grassy and lined with trees, but the other side was a sheer wall of rock. It was a treasure spot for fossils. Mostly I found imprints of shells, but occasionally I found the remnants of a fern or an insect. When I held these simple pieces in my palm, they felt warm and alive. Hidden deep within each of their molecules contained the story of where they had been and what they had seen.

In my first science class in elementary school, we had a lesson on the classification of the universe. We were each given a list of words, which we had to label as living or nonliving. And there on my paper was the word, rock. I quickly and confidently categorized it as a living thing. After all, I had witnessed with my own eyes the bright green and gold energy fields shimmering from the surface of all the rocks I had held in my earliest years. When my teacher marked this answer wrong, I was astonished. I faced down the odd stares of my classmates and vigorously argued my case, but to no avail. Rocks are nonliving. It is an indisputable fact - end of discussion.

We live amidst a cacophony of explanations and expectations from our parents and teachers, who want us to think and act according to the mores of our society as a whole. We seek their approval and hold tightly to the values of the status quo. We chase their dreams only to find ourselves feeling empty and alone at the end of the day. We forget that each of us has an inner voice, which is not afraid to say yes, go for it, be happy, discover your own way. In reality our goals should motivate us and eventually lead to our personal happiness. So the question remains. How do we filter out all the noise from external pressures and remain true to our inner voice?

We have a great spring on our property. Unlike the fast, muddy run-off that is unfit to drink, this water collects from rainwater along the hillside of our farm, runs along the contoured slope, and over time permeates through layers and layers of shale. The earth works like a massive filtering system. As the rainwater fills the minute air pockets, it reaches outward into the soil particles and slowly over time, percolates downward deep into the earth. Here it accumulates in a naturally shaped basin of rock and heavy clay. Once full, the spring overflows and meanders to a small, forested creek. Here giant, thirsty sugar maples grow along the muddy banks. Some of the water evaporates and is carried away by clouds. The surplus continues on its journey and eventually joins the sea.

The Tarot Card Reading works just like a spring. From the subtle currents of energy, which are emitted from each card, a message is formed. Embodying the four elements of Tarot, fire (wands) instructs us to create with unbridled passion; earth (pentacles) reveals the passageway to the manifestation of our destiny; air (swords) helps us to cut through the superfluous tangle of peripheral pressure and craft our own path; and finally, water (cups) guides us as we seek to embrace the realization of love and happiness. If you listen to the reading with an open mind, the words are like a stream that fills your heart. Each droplet removes impurities from your consciousness and brings clarity of vision. By incorporating the message of the Tarot reading into your daily life, your absolute presence becomes like pure spring water rushing upward, overflowing with goodness and well being, reaching outward and becoming a source of sustenance for all.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Devotion

Standing before the spirit of the rock, the carver takes his place. The master caretaker of his craft, he selects a line to trace. To shape a block of marble, crystalline, cream and gray, his solid chisel charts the contoured lines with grace. Any slip or mishap might cause the rock to break. So, he travels well beyond the worn path he planned and enters deep within his soul where he calls forth, "Courage." Now, an extraordinary vision flows forth and rushes through his humble hands.

The precious stone itself compels the carver offer all to this molten limestone, tumbled and cooled, by the rivers of time. His hammer beats in a steady pulse; his gaze remains ever calm for the silent mystery is waiting, devoid of reason, end or rhyme. The ebb and flow of sunlight pours through an open door, and as he chisels, tiny chips of stone begin to vanish from view. His self-expression is his sole intention, nothing more… and if that lacks perfection, it is your sight that is askew.

His tools move like a journey into a cloud-like, rosy mist, descending on the room like a sweet kiss from afar. In truth, the carver knows that the earth angels are all around him. They are the assistants in this manifestation of magic, awakening through art. Too soon, the brilliant hues of sunset blaze a wonder he observes until the stars beguile the long shadows of the eve. Still later, the moon sparkles along finely, polished curves until it all rests on the horizon and shifts the final light to leave.

At last, the new morning trades one bright day for another. The carver stands and stretches his body, cold and tired. Now, he waits for you to behold his creation, this holy, blessed mother. Her head nods, as her palms rise, to welcome the inspired. She evokes an ancient memory of a heaven, eternally aglow. The purity of her essence implies the longest sigh… and for your absolute devotion, a revelation is bestowed. In her all-embracing heart abides the most glorious love on high.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chanting OM

"Whosoever knows OM, the Self, becomes the Self." ~ The Mandukya Upanishads

As a musician and sound healer, I have experienced firsthand the healing power of sound. Vibration has the capacity to open our chakras (energy centers) and raise our consciousness to a higher state of being. The sacred syllable OM is universal, indivisible, infinite, eternal and ever mysterious.

Chanting OM is a wonderful enlightenment practice. As prana (the breath) enters the body vessel; it carries the entire universe into our heart center. Exhaling and chanting OM stirs the dreamer from the sleep state to the awakened state. As you continue to chant OM, imagine a vibration flowing simultaneously inward and outward in continuous waves of energy, pulsating in every direction, speaking to each and every heart, and uniting our consciousness like a small stream meeting the ocean. This is sacred breathing.

Two other simple, yet lovely chants are: OM, shanti shanti shanti and Hari OM. In Sanskrit, shanti means peace and tranquility. Actualized in this moment, there is only this blessed stillness, aligning body, mind and spirit. Hari is the Supreme; thus, we meet our Beloved, the supreme soul in union with God Supreme. In recognition, we surrender to our true nature in oneness with all.

There is also great benefit from silently chanting OM. Thus in stillness or in chaos, OM is forever with us.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Surrender to Serenity

"You are pure. Nothing touches you. What is there to renounce? Let it all go, the body and the mind. Let yourself dissolve." ~ The Heart of Awareness

All resistance is fragmenting by its very nature. We separate ourselves from what is happening in a futile attempt to stop it from happening. Our egoic conditioning convinces us that the effort to control our world is productive behavior when in actually, the pursuant argument that cycles around and around in our minds is exactly what prevents us from living life to the fullest. It would be funny, like watching an old Laurel and Harvey film, if the consequences weren't so dire.

Once we surrender our resistance and fully embrace this moment, the point of awareness shifts away from the perception that something is happening to us. And in a flash of Grace, we suddenly become aware that we are here to honor the form our life is experiencing. This body, this time, this event becomes a unifying field of consciousness, in which we realize our Oneness with everything that is taking place.

So, no matter what arises, we can stop, take a deep breath and remind ourselves that the invitation is to be in complete alignment with the serenity that is always right here... fully knowing that we are that serenity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Breath of Awakening

"As threads come out of the spider, as little sparks come out of the fire, so all the senses, all the worlds, all the gods, yea, all beings, issue forth from the Self. His secret name is Truth of the Truth." ~ The Upanishads

Awakening can be tricky business. "How?" is a frequent question I hear, as though we can "How?" our way to enlightenment. This common delay tactic is used by the ego to preserve its very survival.

Certainly, we can play the part of the spiritual seeker, but as long as we spend this moment trying to 'get' liberated, we are only satisfying the ego's love of the search. Be aware that the ego swings back and forth from suspiciousness to viciousness - that is its range. Moreover, the ego thrives on suffering... like running in place and getting nowhere fast.

Once we stop asking "How?" right here and now, and breathe the breath of awakening, we discover that this moment is richly sacred in and of itself. From the spaciousness of infinite silence, the formless Self arises. This is the secret revealed... the Truth of the Truth.