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.