Kundalini Splendor

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Becoming Greater than We Are 

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."


May each of us be so inspired this day of giving thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rilke's Angels 

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), one of the greatest poets of the contemporary era, was in love with angels. They inhabit his poetry, beckoning and calling at every turn. It is as if they were a secret presence, something sensed but never seen, suspected but not substanced. He longs for them eternally, yet he dreads their coming, their terrifying presence. And he asks, who among us could sustain such connection?

He causes us to reflect that we, as humans, can bear only so much of divine reality. No one can encounter the full force of the sacred essence and live.

In his verses, Rilke is above all the master of subtlety. He never overstates. Rather he hints and suggests, downplays rather than exaggerates. He is the consummate artist of a controlled passion which evokes deep feeling through restraint.

Here are two excerpts from Rilke's great series of poems called "The Duino Elegies" (Duino is the place where this brilliant sequence was written):

Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic
orders? And even if one of them suddenly
pressed me against his heart, I should fade in the strength of his
stronger existence. For Beauty's nothing
but beginning of Terror we're still just able to bear,
and why we adore it so is because it serenely
disdains to destroy us.

(from "The First Elegy," tr. Leishman and Spender)

Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas,
I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul,
knowing about you. Where are the days of Tobias,
when one of you, veiling his radiance, stood at the front door,
slightly disguised for the journey, no longer appalling;
(a young man like the one who curiously peeked through the window).
But if the archangel now, perilous, from behind the stars
took even one step down toward us: our own heart, beating
higher and higher, would beat us to death. Who are you?

. . . . . .

But we, when moved by deep feeling, evaporate; we
breathe ourselves out and away; from moment to moment
our emotion grows fainter, like a perfume. Though someone may tell us:
"Yes, you've entered my bloodstream, the room, the whole springtime
is filled with you..." -- what does it matter? he can't contain us,
we vanish inside him and around him. And those who are beautiful,
oh who can retain them? Appearance ceaselessly rises
in their face, and is gone. Like dew from the morning grass,
what is ours floats into the air, like steam from a dish
of hot food. O smile, where are you going? O upturned glance:
new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart...
alas, but that is what we are. Does the infinite space
we dissolve into, taste of us then? Do the angels really
reabsorb only the radiance that streamed out from themselves, or
sometimes, as if by an oversight, is there a trace
of our essence in it as well? Are we mixed in with their
features even as slightly as that vague look
in the faces of pregnant women? They do not notice it
(how could they notice) in their swirling return to themselves.

(from "The Second Duino Elegy," tr. Stephen Mitchell

(My thanks to Ivan Granger, who sent the Second Elegy as the "daily poetry selection" from www.Poetry-Chaikhana.com If you would like to receive a sacred poem each day, sign up at this site.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Healing Angels 

Several years ago, when I was attending a full moon chanting ceremony at a Tibetan Buddhist center in Boulder, Colorado, I sensed a small band of "spirit monks" enter and take positions beside each of us. The bliss currents were strong as they seemed to join our chanting. They were small, robed, and loving beings.

Somehow, I thought of this incident on Sunday, when I joined with a small circle of friends to offer healing to all those in need, the one lying before us and all others as well. This time, I did not feel actual "bliss currents", but the air itself seemed to fill with an unknown, palpable presence. And this prayer came to me:

Let healing angels come among us,

stand beside us, each one.

Reveal to us, finally, the truth

of unconditional love,

help us discover

who we are.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Whoever Wants God 

Love alone can take you there,
my friend.

If you come across that great anvil,
lie down,
and let your heart be smashed
and melted,
melted and torn
a thousand times.

This is the only way,
the single path to the treasure
you are seeking.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thinking About Angels

All of us wonder, from time to time, about the question of reincarnation. Have we (or some form of what we think of as ourselves) lived before, in some other time period, some other place? Occasionally we get echoes—some feeling of deja vue (I’ve been here, done this, experienced this before)—or are stirred by what seems like inner recollection.

Another question which arises often is, Where does the sudden explosion of kundalini within the slumbering self come from if not some prior existence? How can someone, previously ignorant of the subtle energies and all their latent powers, unexpectedly be flooded with bliss, opened by unknown forces to an ecstasy she had never before suspected?

In the video version of “Angels in America” there are two brilliant scenes in which an angel appears, descending in splendor to embrace the human in explosive divine love. This love is physical as well as “spiritual.” It is felt as well as perceived. It is real, it is powerful, it is undeniable. It is the ultimate union of human and divine, leaving its earthly subjects astonished and transformed.

In the script of this powerful drama, the option is left open to interpret these heavenly visitations as delusions or dreams.

But what if angels are real? What if they come in unexpected moments and in unsuspected ways to rouse the divine element within the human makeup? What if kundalini itself is begotten of such angelic source, a mark of the divine claim upon us, a bond that cannot be broken?

Perhaps unconditional love is just this: to be taken into the embrace of angels and in that state to know what the divinized human can attain.

And now the final paradox emerges: What if the angelic being who seizes us in such love is in fact a version of ourselves, as we may once have been, in this realm or another? What if we are, all of us, turning into angels, as we reenact the glory from which we come?

"When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everthing,
Everything we look upon is blest."

W. B. Yeats

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Hidden World Below

Today it was Stow Lake once more, again the late afternoon sun gilding the gleaming surface of grass and trees, again Nora pulling and tugging at the leash. My attention is focused on her and her pranks, so I do not observe my fellow promenaders as closely as before. But I do spot a few mothers pushing their babes, a few elderly folk proceeding cautiously on their canes.

When Nora and I pass the concession stand, we go by the picnic tables on the widened sidewalk nearby. This area is a favorite gathering place for aging Russian émigrés. Nearby is a part of the city which is “their” neighborhood; it even contains an Orthodox Church with an onion dome. Once last summer when I was passing by, a woman (obviously one of the attendants for this group outing from a retirement home) was playing plaintive Russian songs on her accordion, while her elderly charges, some in wheelchairs, listened and nodded. A few even danced in stately dignity to these nostalgic ballads.

Today a small remnant is examining what appears to be a large map (or is it a game board?), spread out over the table. I wonder if it is a map of Russia. Perhaps they are telling stories of their homeland, where they were born, even what life was life for them there. Then I reflect that they would likely have been born around 1920, too young to have fled the country alone. Perhaps their parents got out a few years later. These adults speak Russian, so they must have lived there for at least a few years.

I think about how quickly things can change, how a life that seems settled and fixed can suddenly be turned totally around by some intense and unforeseen happening. And, of course, that makes me think of kundalini, which so frequently strikes us when we are least expecting it, possibly have not even heard of it. Something unknown seems to control our destiny in its bare outlines. Hence (I think) the futility of making too detailed life plans. There is always a blank card which we cannot read ahead of time.

As we circle along on the western edge of the lake, I realize that something is different here today. The sun is at a low angle, and the pines lining the edge of the little island tucked away in the center are reflected below in the water, swaying and rippling with the current. The water is pristine, clearer than I have ever seen it. The great pine trunks extend both upward and downward, each image mirroring the other in a kind of primal luster. I pause to savor this undulating harmony.

It is as if there is a hidden, underwater world, a secret realm beneath, opened here in this special moment. I am held in semi-trance. I wonder if indeed there are not other such underwater kingdoms, the source of the stories of nymphs and sprites and other nature spirits, who inhabit a fairy realm, one which calls to us when we are least aware. There are many stories of those who were captured and carried away to magic places by such hypnotic beings. Likewise, there are modern tales of UFO’s stationed out of sight in bodies of water. Water is mysterious, fascinating, the place of the unknown. I think how easy it would be to linger here indefinitely, lulled by irresistible beauty. Suddenly I know why Narcissus jumped.

And again, my thoughts turn to kundalini, how those of us who participate in its mysterious stirrings inhabit a world invisible to the majority. We are at once perceivable residents of the mundane world, and the undetected dwellers of an unknown universe. It is as if we have been called to join a secret society, which others can neither see nor comprehend.

Yes, I could linger here mesmerized by the wavering surface and plangent depth forever, but the light is fading, and I must hurry home. I think of Robert Frost’s well known poem, “Stopping by Woods,” with its famous ending lines:

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Monday, November 15, 2004

On Bliss and Pain 

My friend Claire Libby has asked about the relationship of bliss and pain. Here is what I wrote in reply:

Dear Claire,

Once again, thank you for these wonderful and provocative questions. I have been pondering them for several days, and here are some thoughts (all a bit tentative.)

I think the big question is, what is the relationship of bliss to pain, especially the pain and suffering of others and the world at large.

First, let me try this: What is bliss?

There are as many kinds and states of bliss as there are people, and their own myriad states of consciousness. I tend to think of two major kinds of bliss: somatic and non-somatic. The former includes a clearly perceived bodily state of sensuous feeling, which one person described as "like sex only different." It may have, but need not have, a sexual origin, and may have, but need not have, a sexual goal. Some people take modern day "tantric workshops" to bring more feeling into their sexual relationships. Some people dedicate their bliss feelings to the divine itself, which seems to flow through the body in states of heightened awareness and hence is thought of as the "Beloved Within." And some tantrics (Baba Hari Dass is one) practice strict forms of celibacy and view bliss states as something to "go beyond."

There are also certain states of consciousness which some people call "bliss" which in fact are more like 'trancing out".
Often people use the term "bliss" to refer to delight or tranquillity or good feelings or pleasure. It is a very tricky word, with many overlapping categories and overtones. It is like all subjective states, capable of myriad definitions and gradations of meaning.

Now, when a person is suddenly flooded with kundalini rapture (that is, he or she is being "opened" in a very mysterious process), she is like a new born babe, and needs special care. The nervous system is being radically reconstructed, and she is suddenly thrust into a world where things look, feel, and sound different from anything she has known before. For a time, she needs to be freed from the demands of ordinary living. If possible, she should go into some form of seclusion surrounded by sympathetic aides and helpers, who will care for her tenderly during this initial period.

Alas, most people do not have access to this kind of privileged care. They must make it on their own, deal with the utterly new and dazzling sensations, and cope as best they can with the swings of mood and emotions which may follow.

This state of transition is not easy. Even bliss is sometimes hard to bear (because of its unfamiliarity and intensity.) Many times, there is no one to share with, no one even to talk to. And the bliss may be followed (sooner or later) by acute pain, either over long periods of time or else in briefer interludes.

So--I think anyone in this state must be excused (for the time being) from too much concern for the troubles of the world and focus on the intense inner process which is going in within.

How long does this "state of emergence" last? As long as it takes. But, as time goes by, the bliss states often become less frequent, and the pain (if it occurs) less intense, and one can begin, gradually to enter the world again.

In these early days, one can be so open that she picks up the pain in another's body, feeling it as her own. Some seem to experience the pain and agony of the world at large in their own bodies.

At some point, one is ready to turn awareness once more to the challenges and problems and pain of the surrounding society. One can then follow various paths of "giving back," finding ways to help others cope with pain or to encourage them on their own paths. Some are able to use the blissful energies as healing forces for others. I longed to become an energy healer, but discovered that I was too sensitive to do so--I simply mirrored the other's pain in my body, and so we had two people in distress instead of one. I can still pick up on others' feelings, whether good or bad--I get a "hit" in my body, sometimes just from strangers walking by.

I have hoped that my writings have been helpful to others coming along. I have focused on the "bliss" part of the journey, because it seemed to me that that was the great discovery, at least for me--that we, in our bodies, could open in unsuspected ways to great ecstasy in addition to pain. Many people say this blissful state is in fact the "natural" condition of our existence, and that society has programmed it out of us. Some say it is our birthright.

I have also felt it was important to stress the positive features of the body awakening to bliss because the patriarchy has so long denied women the right to claim such feelings as part of their natural heritage. The body in many cultures and societies (our own included) has often been reviled, rejected, humiliated--we all are familiar with the record. Part of the process of healing for all women (and some men) is to come into a state of acceptance of the fact that bodily pleasure (including but not confined to sex) is o.k., that it is all right to feel good, to acknowledge and accept this wondrous inner state as a token of the divine connection.

In my case, part of the great discovery was that pleasurable bodily sensations were not specifically connected to sex, but rather to the joyful dance of the atoms inside. Music has been very important in this regard.

So--when I do my meditation practice, I offer it to the world of sentient beings, asking that all may be blessed and healed. I usually include prayers for those I know personally who are suffering or facing great challenges, and then ask that healing occur in the world at large. My practice sometimes includes bliss states, sometimes not. I have, for the most part, moved into a new stage of my life. But while the bliss currents were strong, I did not try to stop them, because that would have been a disaster. But now I do not mourn their absence--I simply accept that which comes as right for me, and welcome them when they occasionally reappear.

And I am extremely concerned about the fate of the world. I find that many of my friends are, as I am, greatly disturbed by current world events. Like me, they fear for the future of our country and for the world. I think the whole scene is a tinderbox sitting on a pile of kindling ready to explode even more, and that our leaders are like children playing with matches with little awareness of the consequences of their acts.

Knowing that bliss is a possibility for the human state offers great comfort and reassurance. It tells me the divine is present in our world, in the face of all darkness. It reminds me of the place from which we have come, and to which we will return at death. It is the kiss of the goddess which sustains us as we go. The divine embrace is holding us as we enter into what I believe is a new stage of human evolution, despite all the signs of societal failure. We are being devastated and redeemed all at the same time. I think current chaos is part of the transition to a new vibration, and we are now learning to live in it.

If one had to choose between bliss feelings and compassionate action, of course one would choose the latter. But my ideal is both, bliss to give us courage and strength and to affirm our divine origins and connection, and compassionate action to fulfill our core commitment to the world.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ivan Granger's Map for Inner Bliss

The following beautiful meditation was written by Ivan Granger, who created the website which I have referred to earlier: www.poetry-chaikhana.com

I have been mapping the experience of inner bliss.

For several days I have been watching the experience, following how it unfolds and reveals itself to me, interrupting my meditations to scribble down notes.

I have created an outline. I know, it’s absurd. I have outlined spiritual bliss with bulletted points and sub-points and brief commentary. It’s the technician in me, the computer programmer. This is what comes of whole days spent nudging messy proceedures into a clean logic of steps and mathematical calculations.

There is something unavoidably artificial in this, an imposition of concepts and progressive movement, when the reality is non-linear and undivided. But I have found that naming these steps makes the process somehow more tangible and reproduceable. It gives form to the interior psychic landscape, labelling its landmarks, allowing me to move more certainly into the states of bliss.

This is the oversimplification of all maps. The majesty of a mountain cannot be reduced to a triangle on a page. Many will look at that triangle and be content to do no more, imagining they know the mountain. But some will look at the two-dimensional drawings and manage to find a great mountain rising into the sky.

This map is simply an observation of the liquid process of psychic opening, and it is necessarily placed into words and concepts.

So, here is my map. I hope it inspires you to make a similar journey.

* * *


(Dualistic. Devotional. Thou and I.)

- Open the Heart

If you don’t feel generosity, compassion, and love -- for yourself as well as others -- you will find little welcome.

The journey begins with the heart and ends with the heart.

- Dive Deep into the Present

Be fully present, here and now. Forget time. Recognize eternity spreading out in all directions.

- Simply and Completely Accept Yourself

How can you settle into the Self, without self-acceptance?

- Awaken the Body

Feel the entire body and the energies running through it, from foot to head. Feel it as a vibrant whole. Begin to feel its interweaving with the subtler bodies.

This is the pilgramage, honoring the holy places on your journey to the temple.

- Ring the Bell

Listen until you hear the meditative hum at the base of your skull. Allow it to expand until it permeates your awareness and body.

Ringing the bell announces your presence at the threshhold of the inner temple.

- Enter the Garden

(Semi-Dualistic. A sense of “joining.” Cessation of the agitations and impediments of the mind.)

- Radical Renunciation

Lovingly abandon everything, including your thoughts and emotions and all your ideas of who you are. It must be “radical” renunciation because you have to suck in your breath and just do it. Be fierce. You won’t rationally convince yourself to assume this psychic posture.

Renunciation is the equivalent of removing your shoes as you set foot upon holy ground.

- Inturning

The attention and identity is allowed to settle deep within. Sensory input is no longer attended to. You may continue to hear the ringing of the bell; let it draw your attention deeper within.

Until now, even within the Garden, you have been facing outward. Now you turn inward toward the sacred center of the Garden.

- Settle into Silence

Allow the mind to resolve itself. Quiet the mental chatter. Don’t worry, you won’t cease to exist when your thoughts do. Still the movement of emotional energies, as well. Now there is no movement, just radiant stillness.

- Wear the Mantle of Bliss

If you haven’t already noticed the bliss begin to radiate through your body and awareness, look for it. Having found it, recognize it as your proper clothing. It is yours. Wear it naturally.

- Climb the Secret Stairway

Gently but firmly draw the lower belly in until you feel the perineum -- the soft center of the groin between the genitals and the anus -- fill and open. Let that pleasant tension turn inward and rise. No effort is required. It wants to rise, just get out of the way.

- Enter the Secret Cave

(Non-Dualistic. No self, just Self. The cessation of the ego and its agitations.)

- Step Aside into the Natural State

All previous steps can be achieved by individual focus, effort, and practice, but the natural state can only be recognized. It isn’t created by will or mind, it is only realized. You must simply allow yourself to remember it, to recognize it as always having been.

Here you must stand naked, wearing nothing, hiding behind nothing, clinging to nothing. Without support, without artifice, you are.

- Glow

In the Secret Cave, there is unexpectedly light and warmth and immense space. Let it flow unhindered through you, until you recognize that there is no dividing point between you and that glow. It is you.

- Anointing

The glow resolves itself into a living fountain, an effulgent pool with no shoreline. It is a living golden-white ocean. A Christian would call this the blood of Christ, the chrism oil. A Hindu would call it amrita. The Sufis would call it Wine. Immerse yourself in this Sea of your true Self. Drink and drown and live in it.

- Heart

Although you have climbed the secret stairway to the crown, you find yourself surprisingly in the heart. Here is a mystery that defies logic: Though you have journeyed throughout the world and deep into the Garden, descended and ascended, you discover that the Secret Cave contains everything, and it is all centered in the heart. This is your home, this is your seat. This is your true self. Claim it as your right. Bury the point of identity here.

- Union

All of this is union. Every step, all of it, not just the end. It is all union, and it is perpetually occurring, whether you are regularly aware of it or not.

Reverent Re-Emergence

- Linger Near the Garden

Don’t jump up immediately and engage in activities. Sit quietly. Savor the moment. Honor it. Sometimes you find that this is when you most easily and unexpectedly slip into the Holy of Holies, when you have given up, when you have thought to leave. Allow for that to happen.

- Carry Peace, Give Peace

A gesture of reverence, bowing or bringing the palms together over the heart. Hold the awareness of peace and bliss, remember it; it is you. Wish this peace to all. As you rise, carry it with you.

- Exit Without Leaving

Do not abandon this awareness, no matter what you may be doing outwardly. Do not let the identity shift from where you have planted it. The meditation does not end, the mind does not initiate new agitations, there is just the resumption of apparent activity.

Copyright, Ivan Granger

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Clarissa Pinkola-Estes (again) 

Here are more words of wisdom from this amazing woman:

"One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these--to be fierce and to show mercy toward others--both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Words from Clarissa Pinkola Estes 

We Were Made for These Times
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and
properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of
affairs in our world right now. Ours is a time of
almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage
over the latest degradations of what matters most to
civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The luster and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor,
the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking.

Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not
spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do
not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were
made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing,
been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy
vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never
been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across
the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to
signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of
righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may
shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long
timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That
long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together,
to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how
much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that.

There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by
dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not
focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are
needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we
more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us,
and we will know them when they appear.

Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to
listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace?
Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit
to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of
stretching out to mend the part of the world that is
within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul
can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of
this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the
critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is
needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts,
adding, adding, one to another.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Tosha Silver's Meditation 

Tosha Silver is a gifted psychic reader and spiritual counselor who lives in the Bay area. Her recent newsletter contained the following beautiful reflection which I think is especially appropriate at this time of need.


Over the years of giving thousands of readings, this topic always moved me the most. I would read amazing person after person, some of whom had spent many years on one spiritual path or another, who still didn't feel a deep relationship to the inner God. In Sanskrit this inner, chosen Lord is called the Ishvara Devata. Engaging with it fully means never needing to rely on your own strength again.

In a culture which is always giving us one external authority after another, it's incredible to become anchored in the inner authority.

Alot of you know me. I'm a pragmatic mystic. You can have profound meditation experiences till your hair catches on fire, but until the inner God is also included the practicalities of your daily life, there is some separation and aloneness. (In the upcoming workshop) We'll use down-to-earth techniques for allowing the inner Lord to engage in every decision, every action, every problem. No need to feel alone again.

Tosha will be giving a workshop on this topic later in November. You can read more at her website:


Friday, November 05, 2004

What Patricia Said 

Here is Patricia's journal entry after the election. As always, she says with force and eloquence what many of us are thinking. Thank you, Patricia, for your amazing insights and for being a part of my (our) world! (See her journal at
www.windchimewalker.com for more observations.)


Today's news reminds me of my old social work days. It was common knowledge that the families of alcoholics often ignored the drinking and abuse, and instead scapegoated an innocent member--often a child--as the "problem." Until the family was willing to see and deal with the REAL issues, the social worker could do little to help. Any attempts to bring up the drinking and/or abuse was seen as a threat and the family would band together--including the scapegoated member--and turn on the worker. Often they'd discontinue counseling at that point. It seemed as though no one but the worker could see the elephant sitting in the middle of the room. With many alcoholics and their families, things had to hit rock bottom before they would admit that they even HAD a problem.

The bottom line is, you can't help an individual, couple, family, group or nation until they're ready to be helped. As long as they are unwilling to see the problem in their midst, no change can come about. And those who SEE the problem and bring attention to it will be considered the enemy. The family/group/nation will pull together and present a united front to what they see as an unwarranted attack. "United we stand; divided we fall."

And so it appears that the majority of people in the United States have yet to see or want to deal with the elephant in the room. If the elections were fair--Who knows?--then those of us who have done our best to point out the "drinker/abuser" in our midst are now the enemy. And when this country hits rock bottom (and probably brings the rest of the world down with it), it will do little good to say, "I told you so."

But we did the best we could, and in the doing, we created strong bonds and built communities that will forge ahead whoever is in office.

I think of the Dutch Resistance during the Hitler years. The worse things got, the stronger and more courageous they became. So it will be with us. And we're going to do more than simply resist the decisions Bush and his people will make in the next four years; we'll be working to create the change we know must come for our planet to survive.

To bring up another in our historic annals of resisters, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did so much more than simply stand up in nonviolent resistance to the racist oppression suffered by him and his people in this country. He built coalitions, forged community, was part of creating new ways of living and working together, and he dreamed. Dr. King never stopped dreaming of a future where all would live together as equal members of the human family. And those of us who came together to protect the voting rights of all in this election, manifested the fruits of his dream.

Think how Dr. King would have viewed our small efforts at that east side Detroit polling station yesterday. Black and white working together in mutual respect to make sure that each and every one of our sisters and brothers could cast their ballots without fear of intimidation or procedural abuses. And I'm proud to say that we succeeded. Detroit's massive turnout of voters helped bring the entire state of Michigan into Kerry's camp. As a side note, it was fun to overhear last night the final count in one of the precincts where I was helping out: Kerry=402, Bush=8. Believe me, the African-American community definitely sees that elephant in the room!

Yes, I feel sad today. I am disappointed in the American people. I wish they would open their eyes to what their president has done and is intending to do. But I'm not going to focus too much of my precious energy on them or their leader. Instead I'm going to continue working creatively and in community for the just and peaceful world we know is possible. It's time to move beyond resistance of the old to construction of the new. And I want to be part of the building crew.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Maintaining Connection in a Time of Stress 

This morning, I woke up with a great sense of despair over the recent events in our country. I am sure many, many others shared my grief. Once more, my shoulder seemed to be out of place, and the pain in my upper back was insistent.

I dawdled through breakfast, toyed aimlessly with the daily crossword puzzle to put off facing the day (could I really bear knowing the reality of what had happened?) I thought of my childhood, which was spent in a very “conservative” small town environment (Oklahoma), and how much social progress has taken place since then (I was born in 1928—so that would be over seventy years of struggle for social equality.) We had no “Negro problem” in our town. The city fathers had long since passed a law banning their presence after sundown. Gay marriage? Not an issue, since most people had not even heard of them (us), and if they were mentioned at all it was in whispers and disgust (after all, they were clearly “perverts,” just as the psychology books of the time averred.) Jews? We had never seen any, until during WWII a Jewish family bought a small clothing store on Main Street. They turned out to be hard working, solid folk who soon won the respect of the community

The only bit of diversity we had were a few Catholic families scattered in. The Baptists, of course, preached that the Catholic Church was the Great Beast of Revelations. But others among us looked on them as somehow special, in some way connected to mysteries we were not familiar with.

What are now called the religious right were then the Baptists (against smoking and dancing and certainly sex outside of marriage and other unmentionable misdeed) plus a few Pentecostals and other fundamentalist groups.

Almost all of us (except for a few German farmers) were named Jones and Thompson and Pearce and Talbott and Smith (and Walters) and other typical anglo-saxon names.

The point is, the extreme fundamentalists were there and influenced many, but they were not really in control (in part because the “givens” named above were accepted with little question by almost everyone else but not with such radical insistence.) Even my Baptist classmates turned out for the senior prom, and danced with the rest.

So during my life I watched great and meaningful social progress on all these fronts---notable forward movement on issues of acceptance and diversity in my hometown and throughout society. We have come a long way, and things are not perfect, but they are indeed better all around.

And so, after yesterday, I began to wonder what was happening, if all the great improvements of the last half century were to be swept away, and we were to return to the “dark ages” of my youth. Were we entering Huxley’s “Brave New World”? Orwell’s “1984”? Were we watching a Greek tragedy, in which the hero would fall because of overweening pride (though he himself had never read a Greek tragedy)? Were we a nation of lemmings, rushing over the cliff to the sea?

How could we survive such a restricted world? Would women once more be driven back to their kitchens, and gays back into their closets? What would happen to the minorities and the oppressed, and people in need? Would we continue to be given slogans and clichés of reassurance, while the reality was carefully hidden from the populace at large?

I decided to do my little “practice,” in part to see if I could reduce the tension locked into my body. First, as always, I bowed to the Beloved Within (was it there today? Would it come for states of pain as well as bliss?) I did a few preliminary stretches, and then began to do the first of the two chi gong forms I have finally managed to learn. They are simple, slow movements which follow (rather than lead) the energetic flow within. Immediately, I felt a soft tingling in my root, the source of all our “spiritual” and creative energy. It was confirmation of the abiding connection. It said, “Yes, I am here.”

Then, I raised my arms level with my heart, and there it was—a soft, gentle, almost imperceptible sensation of—love, renewal, blissful sustaining presence. I caught my breath as the heart once more was subtly opened to awareness of the sacred.

So I continued my chi gong practice for another twenty minutes or so, and then I paused to commune silently with the Inner Teacher.. I asked for direction in this time of need. And the answers came:

First, keep your connection with your inner guide. You guide is present always, ready to lead and help you.

Do your spiritual practice (whatever that may be) with regularity. It will keep the connection strong in adversity, and remind you who you are.

Hold your friends and special companions close. You will sustain each other in remarkable ways. You are explorers together, and wonders are unfolding.

Keep in mind that this is a time of continuing discovery and renewal as well as seeming loss and catastrophe. Think of the Taoist yin yang symbol, which reveals how the seed of the future already exists in the present. Remember that the forces of the spirit (the large Spirit) are invisible to the eyes of those focused solely on material aims.

Review your own life. Think of the many obstacles (social, personal, and other) which you faced and overcame. Think how much joy, how much growth, how much creativity you have experienced. What a rich life you have had, a grace that was given, often a gift born of suffering.

Above all, think of your own spiritual awakening, and how it has revealed the majestic profile of something beyond ordinary human perception. You may not exist always in fully transcendent awareness, you may be dismayed at what you see taking place in the “outer” world, but you carry within the knowledge of another reality, and know what is possible despite external appearances.

Indeed, “something is happening,” and we are a vital part of that transformation. We are charged with “carrying the vibration,” preserving the awakening consciousness, helping humanity reach a new level.

Greet your friends in joy, band together to explore the possibilities now flooding into earth. What knows what helpers are there? Who can say what the outcome will be?

Peace and Blessings to All

Monday, November 01, 2004

In the Park 

I am interested in states of consciousness. There is, of course, mystical consciousness (at one with all ), and bliss consciousness, and ecstasy and rapture and transcendent consciousness. (And the list continues to include many, many others, including stages of grief, psychic awareness, trance states—who knows how many there are?)

But there is another which is also one of my favorites which I call simply “Nice Day” consciousness This is the experience which lacks the intensity of the dramatic kundalini embrace or romantic love or personal crisis. It is like the bread which sustains us between deserts, the pleasant encounter with a neighbor or friend which we depend on to give shape and continuity to our daily lives. It is ordinary experience at its most familiar and best expression.

It leads us into a kind of “I’m o.k., you’re o.k.” state (once a popular notion). It tells us life is good, even when calmness abides. It assures us we don’t have to keep on suffering or worrying about whatever it was that has been bothering us, that it is all right to let go and know that things will, in fact, work out—both for us and the world.

Here is such an experience from yesterday morning:

In the Park

As soon as I stepped outside, I knew that something was different. Instead of the frequent fog and mist of the Sunset District in San Francisco, there was bright blue sky, well defined fleece-like clouds, warm sun. A rare day, I thought, not to be wasted.

Nora and I arrived at the lake about eleven. Some say Nora is four, others think she is two. Nora is black and white, a pure bred border collie (well, perhaps with just a tad of husky). She attracts lots of notice wherever she goes, partly from her glistening coat, partly because her eyes don’t match (one is blue, one dark.) She, of course, immediately begins to tug on her leash, excited by the smells and sights around her.

The first thing I notice as we step up the small incline to the sidewalk which circles the lake is the grass. It has rained slightly last night, the grass has a special glow. Its green is fresh, like spring, though it is now October. “Ah,” I think, “something like what Walt Whitman must have had in mind when he wrote his famous poem.” (“Leaves of Grass.”)

We start our obligatory circumambulation around the water. The air smells like eucalyptus, strong enough that even I can notice it. It is reassuring, like the scent of a healing herb in an acupuncturist’s office.

I like coming here. First of all, you are never unaccompanied for you are always in clear sight of someone or other. There are no dangerous bushes or shrubs to conceal hidden assailants. I have learned that in the city, you must always be vigilant, aware of your surroundings and the people nearby. I have also learned it is extremely dangerous to “space out” when you are walking the city streets. Your purse could be quickly snatched, or a car whizzing around a corner could harm or annihilate you. In others words, mystical consciousness is dangerous.

This is Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park. The light and the crisp fall air remind me somehow of my visit to Walden Pond, which I finally got to see just one year ago. Walden is a little bigger. I was there in autumn, and indeed the gods had scattered their golden coins along the paths to Thoreau’s little abode. The place where Thoreau had built his cabin was clearly marked. Indeed, it was tiny—no wonder he had no room for visitors.

Stowe Lake (or is it Stow?)is not in the wilderness, but when one dwells in an urban environment one has to make do. It is about one mile around, just right for Nora and me. It has lovely trees and greenery, and many flowers. In the spring the calla lilies bloom in abundance on the little island which sits in its center. The lake is irregular in shape, so you never see all of it at once (as you do at Walden.) But it is nature, `and reminds us of whence we come.

Indeed, the lake itself has a long and fascinating history—I have seen pictures of boaters from the nineteenth century, the women wearing dresses with leg o’ mutton sleeves and the men clad in dark suits and boater hats. Now you can rent motor boats, or else paddle boats that you propel with your feet. But today, no one is on the lake. Everyone is conscientiously progressing along the sidewalk (the group moving along in different directions), but there aren’t that many of us here either.

As usual today’s other strollers are a mix. Many are elderly. Ancient Chinese fathers are accompanied by dutiful daughters, aging Russian matrons with large bosoms plod stoically ahead with their faded husbands. I hear other languages spoken as well: Spanish, French—almost every part of the world is represented here. Some I don’t even recognize. I fit in well with the group, for I am also an elder. I walk faster than some (particularly those on canes), not as fast as others.

There are also a few runners dashing past. This is a good place to run—absolutely flat, not too much foot traffic to slow you down, lots of easy parking nearby. Occasionally a mother wheels her infant past in a baby stroller. There is even a fellow with a backpack and a scraggly beard who looks like he has been on the road awhile, but he appears harmless (in the city, you learn to check out every stranger who looks a bit unusual, especially if you yourself are somewhat vulnerable and can’t run very fast).

There is also a thin woman who seems to be in hiding—she wears a dark jacket with a hood draped down over her forehead as well as dark glasses. I wonder if she is some celebrity who doesn’t want to be recognized (but reflect that her weird garb simply draws attention and curiosity.) Again, perhaps she is too sensitive to the sun and has to take care when she is outdoors.

There are ducks and seagulls screaming and circling on the lake, and occasionally Nora makes a dash for them. I have to hold tight to her leash, hoping that she won’t pull my shoulder out (the one I have worn a hot pad on for the past two days.) Generally, she is a well behaved, but once she gets sight (or smell) of some enticing prey, there is almost no stopping her. I shout at her, and jerk her back to the sidewalk. I don’t want to lose her. If she breaks away, I could never catch her. She can outrun a greyhound, and has. She settles down and we continue serenely (until the next bird or hidden squirrel.)

The light today is special. We approach a knot of slender trees (I never know names) and I notice their glossy surfaces. Next to these lovelies is another, thicker one, with a rumpled veneer. Their beauty manifests as simply “that which is”, no fanfare, no display—just the way they are (but I have never noticed these particular trees before.) I am almost in mystical awareness—everything is lovely.

Suddenly I realize that I have left my little fanny pack, with my money and credit card, back in the car. We are now halfway round the lake. Should I hurry back? I shrug, decide it is probably safe, and we continue our leisurely stroll.

As we pass the concession stand, I realize that a dog is standing ahead of us, tied to a bench while his “owner” makes a purchase. I wonder if there will be trouble, so I walk Nora up and away from the bench. Then I see the other dog is wagging its tail, and in fact is involved in scratching its belly with one leg while it balances on the other three. No problem here.

On the final lap, I see more brilliant greens, more ducks to attract Nora’s notice, and pass the hooded mystery lady and the “traveler” once again. On the side a tall plant drips with clusters of bell-like purple blossoms. Are they bluebells?

We reach the car. My red pack is safe, there in full view on the front seat.

We stop at the grocery store on our way back. I am thinking how efficiently I am locating all the items on my list, when I realize I can’t remember locking the car. Will Nora be safe? They say dogs of this breed fetch a high price, and a city parking lot is more dangerous than the park where we were before.

I pay and check out. I hurry to the car.

Nora is in the back seat, taking a nap. She doesn’t even look up as the helper and I load the groceries into the trunk.

We head home, both reassured that there is joy to be had in the world around us.

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