Kundalini Splendor

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Looking" (poem by Dorothy) 


We go on our wanderings,
looking here,
seeking there,
turning over this leaf
or stone,
scrutinizing the clouds
for a message,
sometimes just stopping
and listening carefully.

Don’t you ever get tired
of this endless searching,
this fruitless pursuit of a sign?
Don’t you sometimes long
for a final revelation,
angels descending on
a cloud,
the ultimate “aha!”

What would you do
if you made a sudden discovery,
the light surrounding you
like a revelation,
heavenly choirs
singing hosanna?

Would you be happier then?
Could you cope
with this amazed wildness
touching your cells alive,
reminding you
that you, too, are stardust,
pulsation in the eternal flow?

Dorothy Walters

(from "The Ley Lines of the Soul"_

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jeff Richards on Art and the Transpersonal Realms 

Jeff Richards is the author of the following reflection on the relation of art to the subconscious, including the transpersonal realms. Jeff is himself an amazing artist, someone fully dedicated to his vision rather than commercial success arising from his work. I find his art (as well as his comments) extremely refreshing, for he writes from the vantage point of one who has in fact thought about things--he writes from the depths of his soul/intellect, and not from the surface of his thinking apparatus. He is conversant with literature and music as well as visual expression, and he perceives the interrelatedness of the various genres.

Most important, Jeff includes the realm of the transpersonal in his perspective. The transpersonal realm is often meticulousl6 excluded from much post-modern discussion, as if it were in bad taste or a breach of an unwritten code to acknowledge that such realms exist.

Now, you may ask, what does such philosophical/aesthetic pondering have to do with Kundaini? The answer: everything (at least in my point of view). Kundaini is what lies at the very depth of the subconscious, the realm that exists after all the thought, all the personal issues and impulses, have been stripped away. It is feeling that occurs often without even symbols to convey its presence. It often wraps the practitioner in a state of "beingness" that does not depend on set form or expectations to exist. It is the raw, unmediated, unconfined energy of the absolute, tamped down sufficiently for the merely human to experience a taste of this infinite and ineffable wonder. It lies at the base of much if not most artistic expression--it is the subconscious in its most basic form, straight from source.

Here is what Jeff wrote on his blog only yesterday. Thank you Jeff, for this powerful and provocative article.


My Significant Other is the Kosmos Part 1 - Postmodernism Takes a Hike

For some artists, engaging in the practice of art making leads them to an exploration of subconscious and unconscious territories of the psyche. When this happens one finds that the unconscious - that which, by definition, was unavailable to conscious attention - is far richer and deeper and wider than was anticipated. This is certainly true of the personal unconscious, that region mapped and explored by modern psychology in the last 150 years or so and creatively utilized most notably in the first half of the 20th century by the Surrealists. Even today many, if not most, artists working intentionally with the unconscious park their wagons here, unearthing the depths of their personal experience to uncover deeper truths about life and culture, truths rarely visible on the noisy, flatland surface of day to day reality.

But there is another realm of the psyche that can become available to creative exploration - the illusive, sometimes mysterious, sometimes scary, always surprising transpersonal unconscious. It's here, outside of the personal both above and below, that creativity starts tapping into energies never imagined and rarely understood. From far below the region of the personal unconscious, the deep unconscious reveals species instincts and urges that are so raw and formless they can barely be contained in cultural symbols, yet manage to find creative form in myth and ritual that is often shimmering in numinosity. This is the descending path - to use Jung's terminology, artists working here are mining the collective unconscious, Anselm Kiefer is a contemporary artist who is a master in this region of creative expression.

And then, from far above the personal, some artists find themselves drawn to the heavens, embraced unexpectedly by grace or agape, hearing and seeing messages and visions emanating from mystical regions, the far regions of the infinite above and beyond anything not only of the personal but of the Earth itself. This is the ascending path, the transpersonal unconscious territory of the creative mystics - William Blake and J.S Bach; Rumi; the late Beethoven. This is the ineffable brought to manifestation, or more correctly a glimmer of the ineffable brought to Earth not by the effort of the artist but through a kind of invisible guidance reaching down to commicate unlimited possibility.

There are other regions of the transpersonal unconscious; in fact, it's infinite, unlimited, endless, awe inspiring. This is where the artist in his/her creative practice finally stops seeking and begins to be guided. This is where the artist steps through doors never before recognized into territories never before intuited. This is where the artist steps back from the work, looks at it and wonders, who the hell did that? This is where I am. And how I got here is mostly a mystery to me, though in looking back I see a long and battered journey that was somehow fueled and inspired by a crazy intuition, a pull from far off, dimly perceived but undeniable.

There were many turning points, many forks in the road, many dead end paths, none of which are important to anyone but me. But there was a moment that was especially crucial, a coming together of many unrelated elements that led to an emergance that changed everything. And that moment came on a beautiful Spring Sunday morning....

See Jeff's blog at http://www.hexagonart.com

The image above is one of Jeff's own artworks. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Andrew Harvey's Newsletter 

Andrew Harvey is one of the most remarkable spiritual teachers of our time. Born in India, he was sent back to England for his schooling, end ended up being the youngest don ever appointed to be a professor in his college at Oxford. But Andrew was not contented with the purely academic life, with its often sterile and condescending approach to learning. He yearned for a more spiritual connection, and began a profound spiritual journey that continues to this day. He is now a celebrated teacher and writer who has literally touched thousands of others with his message of the need for connection with the forces of the divine and the need for each of us to take action in the face of our present world predicament. He has also helped many beginning writers and teachers to fulfill their dreams, and yours truly is one who has benefited from his efforts, for he encouraged me to write and he contributed introductions to the first two books I published.

Here is his newletter for this month, available on his website, AndrewHarvey.net
The first entry is dedicated to Stephanie Marohn's new book that I highlighted a few days ago. One of Andrew's primary causes is the animal kingdom, now so threatened by human usurpation and destruction of their essential habitats

Here is Andrew's message for this month:.

February 2012

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you from my log cabin in the Ozarks, which continues to bring great peace and joy to my life. I have been traveling a lot, but knowing this calm awaits me has restored my heart and mind.

I am delighted and honored to be able to recommend with all my heart the great new book by Stephanie Marohn: What the Animals Taught Me: Stories of Love and Healing from a Farm Animal Sanctuary. This is one of the best books I have ever read on the way animals open our hearts and teach us unforgettable lessons about life. Stephanie is a great Sacred Activist who has poured all of her resources and passion into creating a sanctuary for animals, and this book has, as you will see, been deeply recommended by all the major figures in the world of animal rights, including Jane Goodall. This is a book written with a heart-stopping purity and simplicity and can be read by anyone at any age with great joy.

Nothing is more important for human survival than establishing a humble, authentic relationship with the animal world. It is people like Stephanie who - at great personal cost and sacrifice - are pioneering for us this sacred relationship. Please do everything you can to support her book and her sanctuary.

Where's Pegasus? Youtube Page
Stephanie Marohn Blog
Press Release and Bio
What Animals Taught Me Praise

I want to point you to three new videos that I have just completed with three extraordinary people whose vision will enrich your life as it has enriched mine. In Navigating the Coming Chaos with Consciousness and Community, Carolyn Baker and I explore with wit and passion our shared sense of where we are and what now must be done.

Click to watch Navigating The Coming Chaos With Consciousness And Community.
Denver on 11/11/11: http://vimeo.com/36662131

Philip Shepherd, the author of the greatest book on embodiment I know, New Self New World, explores with me our mutual passion for a birth of an embodied divine humanity in Awakening the Body.


With my great friend Ludwig Max Fischer, whose magnificent translations of Herman Hesse's Seasons of the Soul I recommended last month, I recorded an 80-minute video that celebrates Hesse's extraordinary wisdom and the relevance of its truth to our times. Max is a true genius and in these linked videos you will discover some very profound inspiration for getting through our harsh times with sober grace and illumined calm.


Please share these videos with everybody you know. The Institute for Sacred Activism is working hard to make available for free to everyone who wants it the wisdom that can transform us.

Please forward this newsletter on!

Love always,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Political Extra 

This is not a political blog, but today I am departing from our usual format to present an essay on a topic that deeply concerns me. Did you know that Congress has just passed a law enabling the government to arrest our own citizens and detain them without trial or charges, on the grounds that they are "suspected terrorists"? The military, not our domestic FBI, would be charged with such arrests and detainment. This bill (or a close version of it) has now been passed and signed by the President, as part of a military appropriations bill. Somehow, it slipped by without the notice of many of us, who feel that it violates a basic constitutional right, for the constitution itself guarantees the right to a swift and speedy trial to those arrested on any grounds.

So--here is a discussion of the bill, not as it was actually enacted into law but as it was being considered. It offers much food for thought, and raises the question of whether we are still living in a democracy or have we been taken over by totalitarian elements. That is a strong charge, yet look at such countries as Chile, Argentina, or Iran to see what can happen under militaristic regimes. This is a wake-up call if there ever was one. Remember, all that is required for the forces of darkness to usurp power is for the forces of light to do nothing.

from The New American

Rights Activists "Appalled" as Senate Passes Prison Without Trial Bill |
FRIDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2011 15:20

Despite protests that the legislation will negate centuries old rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the Senate Thursday passed a bill authorizing the arrest and imprisonment without charge or trial of terrorism suspects, including American citizens, anywhere in the world. The bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) also authorizes $662 billion in military spending. It has been sent to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it, perhaps as early as today (Friday). Obama had threatened to veto earlier versions of bill, but on Wednesday the White House announced the President was satisfied by amendments made by a House-Senate conference committee granting the President greater discretion in determining what terror suspects to hold in military confinement.

"By withdrawing his threat to veto the NDAA, President Obama has abandoned yet another principled position with little or nothing to show for it," said Tom Parker, policy director for Amnesty International USA said. "Amnesty International is appalled -— but regrettably not surprised."

Ironically, the Senate passed the law on December 15, the date of the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Only 13 Senators voted against the bill, while 86 voted for it, including some who argued that the constitutional guarantees would not be vitiated.

"We as Americans have a right to a speedy trial, not indefinite detention," said Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). "We as Americans have a right to a jury of our peers, which I would argue is ... not enlisted or military personnel sitting in a jury. You cannot search our businesses or place of business or our homes without probable cause under the Bill of Rights."

"You cannot be deprived of your freedom or your property without due process of law, and that, I would say, is not indefinite detention," added Kirk, who voted for the bill. "I would actually argue that no statute and no Senate and no House can take these rights away from you."

Supporters of the bill argued that U.S. citizens are exempted from a provision requiring military detention of foreign terror suspects. But opponents pointed that while not required, the government is still permitted to hold U.S. citizens in military confinement — indefinitely and without charge or trial — by other provisions of the bill. FBI Director Robert Mueller is among those who have opposed the bill, contending that having the military to conduct investigations and arrests of terror suspects will complicate and impede the work of the FBI.

"This provision would for the first time in American history require our military to take custody of certain terrorism suspects in the United States," said Sen. Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) who voted against the bill. Durbin argued the Congress should not abandon a system of dealing with terror suspects that has worked well since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

"Since 9/11 our counterterrorism professionals have prevented another attack on the United States, and more than 400 terrorists have successfully been prosecuted and convicted —prosecuted and convicted — in federal court," Durbin said. "Why do we want to change this system when it's working so well to keep America safe? The fact that these detainee provisions have caused so many disagreements and such heated debate demonstrates the danger of enacting them into law."

In addition to Durbin, the senators who voted against the bill are: Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Rand Paul (R-Ky., pictured above), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).Sen. Paul, who spoke against the bill in Senate debate, had also expressed his concerns in the National Review:

The FBI publishes characteristics of people you should report as possible terrorists. The list includes the possession of "Meals Ready to Eat," weatherproofed ammunition, and high-capacity magazines; missing fingers; brightly colored stains on clothing; paying for products in cash; and changes in hair color. I fear that such suspicions might one day be used to imprison a U.S. citizen indefinitely without trial. Just this year, the vice president referred to the Tea Party as a bunch of terrorists. So, I think we should be cautious in granting the power to detain without trial.

Opponents of the measure argue that by representing the whole world as a battlefield, the legislation undermines the liberties of Americans, at home as well as abroad, who have never been near an actual battlefield nor waged war against the United States. Some argue the bill fits a pattern of government excesses in the war on terror, including the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, reportedly by order of President Obama.

"The NDAA enshrines the war paradigm that has eroded the United States' human rights record and served it so poorly over the past decade as the country's primary counterterrorism tool," charged Parker of Amnesty International. Among those supporting the bill, Sen. Lindsey Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been a leading proponent of viewing the entire world, including "the homeland" as a battlefield.

"If you're an American citizen and you betray your country, you're not going to be given a lawyer," Graham said. " . . . I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad."

But someone suspected of betraying our country is not necessarily a combatant — nor necessarily guilty. As constitutional lawyer and Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald noted, the Constitution requires not only due process, but enhanced due process for those accused of treason:

No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act or on confession in open Court. Article 3, Section 3

"To deny a citizen the right to a lawyer and go to court on the ground that they've 'betrayed their country' and thus deserve to be imprisoned without a trial (or, worse, to be assassinated without one) is as violent a betrayal of the U.S. Constitution as one can imagine, literally," Greenwald wrote.

Civil Libertarians on both the left and right have written and spoken out against the legislation, from the American Civil Liberties Union to retired New Jersey Superior court Judge Andrew Napolitano, a bestselling author and host of the popular Freedom Watch show on the Fox News channel. Writing while the NDAA was still before the Congress, Napolitano observed that the right to be left alone and not imprisoned without due process of law is among the natural rights recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution.

"Yet, your representatives in Congress are about to authorize the president to violate your natural rights by enacting legislation that would permit him to use the military to arrest Americans and restrain them without due process," Napolitano wrote. " Even King George III, against whose armies the colonists fought for freedom, did not have the power to do that. And, just because Congress votes to make these acts of tyranny legal does not mean they are constitutional. The Constitution is a higher law than anything Congress can write; and all that Congress writes must conform to it."

In an obvious reference to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the judge offered advice to voters in the two states that have the first votes in the presidential nominating process.

"If you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, you can vote for the only Republican candidate running for president who believes that the Constitution means what it says. You know who he is.

Iconoclast said:

Betrayal of the Highest Degree!
"If you're an American citizen and you betray your country, you're not going to be given a lawyer," Graham said. " . . . I believe our military should be deeply involved in fighting these guys at home or abroad."

Graham, you did betray your country. Shame on everyone that voted in favor of this Un-Constitutional bill. Looks like we get to take your lawyer away!

It's time we get the betrayers out in the next election.
December 16, 2011
ironboltbruce said:

Next Election My Ass: Our "Elections" are a Sham Anyway: Arrest them NOW!
Call to Action! Hire an attorney or use NaSI SARs to charge your U.S. Representative and Senators who voted for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA: S.1867/H.R.1540) with "Seditious Conspiracy" under U.S. Code Title 18 Part I Chapter 115 Section 2384. Details here: http://KleptocracyChronicles.com
December 16, 2011
Brandt Hardin said:

Living in a Society of Fear
The NDAA will only go to further stifle our Constitutional Rights without the approval of the Americans, just as the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...years.html
December 16, 2011
nofluer said:

I wonder if these idiots realize that they just handed Obama the authority to arrest and imprison Congress???
December 17, 2011

kibitzer said:

The Posse Comitatus Just Went Thataway
Thanks for this article, Jack. This is very serious business. Having the military take over the 'judicial' workings of the FBI in these 'terrorist' matters goes hand in hand with the advent now of the clear, unassailable use of the military to handle 'crowd control' & such in the homeland, as TPTB make their move for total takeover, knowing they can't trust the police to do the job, since their links with their local communities are too strong (thanks to the work of such organizations as the JBS). It's really out there, now.

And that nice-touch reference in the legislation, about detention in such a state of 'war' "until the end of the hostilities..." Indefinite detention, indeed. One can fairly suspect "until the twelfth of Never..." ("and that's a long, long time")

So: Shall we accept, now, that there's no specifically socialistic New World Ordure, or specifically fascistic New World Ordure, in our future, in polar opposites to one another, but it's really the same nest of vipers encamped at the top of the pyramid of power?? Obama gives off all the aura of a man co-opted. His heart may be on the Left (and the extreme left at that, as his background reveals), but he has been made an offer that he couldn't refuse. My bet is that it was the message to him that TPTB know all about his background, and they are keeping schtum (& a MSM lid on the matter) as long as he is a nice boy, and does what he is told. Consider the perks of the office...an office that has been appallingly besmirched by all this totalitarian nonsense that has been going on, for too long now. For long enough, now.

It's time for Change indeed.
December 17, 2011

Friday, February 24, 2012

poem by Richard Wilbur 

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
``Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

``Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.''

- Richard Wilbur

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Astrological Prediction by Michelle Karen 

Michelle Karens astrological reading for our present and upcoming times seems especially relevant. Here is what she says.

2012 is the year of the final choices that will separate those choosing ascension and the creation of a new world in love, oneness and harmony, and those who will decide to remain in the fear and negativity of the old consciousness.

As we approach the final December 21, 2012 portal when enlightenment will be reached by a critical mass of people, time is significantly accelerating, bringing to the surface everything that is not yet clear within ourselves. The solar flares are creating extreme emotional reactions. Lies, corruptions, false facades are being exposed.

In the face of a seemingly growing uncertainty in the world, we could feel strangely calm and trusting. We need to go with the flow, let go of attachments to old resentments and transmute fear with love. Monitoring our thoughts, feelings and words is more important than ever as they create our reality. The more positive and in faith we remain, the more we shall create miracles.

Financial abundance comes from following our bliss from our hearts and contributing to the higher good of all.

We could feel like we are simultaneously in various locations on this planet and more and more attract like-spirited people whom we feel we have known forever even if we just met. Supporting each other in magnificent acts of co-creation, allows new realities to bloom all around us.

In order to feel more nurtured and supported, we may be called to completely redefine our work, our relationships and where we live.

It is also a time to reconnect with our Mother the Earth, reawaken ancient power spots, immerse ourselves in old legends and understand at a deeper level how fairytales lead us from ordinary reality into sacred time.

Our dreams at night could be more vivid than usual. We could feel more tired than normal and maybe somewhat more meditative also. As we are receiving more and more information from other dimensions, sleeplessness could occur.

Our intolerance to alcohol, animal products, pollution, negativity, stress, noise and genetically manipulated foods could increase significantly. We may need less quantities and seek more natural, organic products. High quality water is essential to our well-being as is a high-frequency environment free from disruptive images, technology and thoughts. Exhaustion comes from having to navigate from the density of our regular lives (bills, obligations, deadlines, administration) to more advanced states of consciousness where our minds and hearts are allowed to float in sacred time, rejoining (rejoicing) in oneness with all that is. As we detach from the known, pure materiality could seem less and less important than these dimensions we are gradually evolving into and taking residence in.

Neptune entered Pisces on Feb 4th, 2012 and will remain in that sign until April 2025. The veil between dimensions is thinning. Our psychic abilities are opening up significantly. Sensitivity to rays of color, the souls of crystals, the angelic realms and sacred sound is increasing. The purity of seas and oceans is likely to become a topic of great international concern. Channelings of great beauty will be inspiring us to love, harmony and oneness. Art could lift us to whole new levels of consciousness. Our daily lives could feel like a dream, making the visions we have during our sleep at night seem very real. We could prefer to choose to follow our hearts over external, material security. Many circumstances involving fear, insecurity or darkness could start dissolving naturally. This is the time to become our dreams and know with certainty that "we are the ones we've been waiting for".

Mercury will be retrograde between March 12 and April 3 (7º Aries- 24º Pisces). As you all know, I have a soft spot for Mercury retrograde. It's always a magical time to reconnect with friends we haven't seen or heard of in a long time and to remember projects we left sitting on shelves. Traveling during Mercury retrograde invariably brings back old memories and helps us retrieve forgotten parts of ourselves so that they may bloom again. This particularly Mercury retrograde will profoundly inspire us to renew our lives and recreate ourselves.
The following astrological summary by Michelle Karen seems to be especially relevant to our current times:

The next major eclipses will respectively happen on May 20th (Solar eclipse at 0º21' Gemini) and June 4 (Lunar eclipse at 14º14' Sagittarius). Eclipses are always turning points, points of no-return. This particular axis is pointing to the importance of communication. More and more information will be made available to help a majority of people awaken to their divinity. Truths will be revealed which could start significantly transforming our perception of history and what is really going on in the world. We could be drawn to traveling more to places that we feel deeply connected to. Being positive in our thoughts, our feelings and our words becomes of paramount importance. Having faith and trust helps us create a glorious reality.

The Venus transit (following the one that occurred on June 8, 2004) will take place on June 5-6, 2012. This will not happen again until December 2117. This very rare and extraordinary cosmic event is caused by Venus navigating directly between the Sun and the Earth. It will open a new portal for love to flood the world and help us understand how to dissolve all the forms fear takes inside ourselves so that we may become love.

Jupiter will enter Gemini on June 12, 2012 until June 27, 2013. The world will demand and wish to share good news. A time of renewed faith in the goodness of humanity. More than ever will positive thinking help us manifest miracles. Synchronicities will abound leading us to realities greater than we ever could have imagined. The world will seem very small. The good deeds going on in one country will sweep over the whole planet, inspiring others to follow in spreading the positive energy.

(See more of her thoughts at www.MichelleKaren.com "Newsletters")
Photo found at her website.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Article by Barbara Harris Whitfield 

Kundalini is one "brand name" for the generic Energy that can be found in many if not all religions. Other brand names include: The Holy Spirit, Great Spirit, and Ruach ha Kadosh.

The ancient yogic texts described a life energy present in all living beings called prana; corollary energies have been identified in many other cultures, such as huo and chi of Tibetan yogis, quaumaneq of Eskimo shamans, incendium amoris and photismos of Christian mystics, Henri Bergson’s élan vital, and the more recent terms ‘bioenergy,’ ‘bioplasma,’ and ‘orgone energy.’ So there are many brand names for this generic energy that is in all living things. One of the main objectives of our research
network is to learn from each other and educate the medical community on how this fits in to our process of optimal hea
lth. *(from the KRN website)

Barbara Harris Whitfield is a noted authority on Kundalini and Near Death Experiences. These two phenomenon share many features. Here is an excerpt from her book "Spiritual Awakenings."

Kundalini 101:
The Energy and How It Works
Barbara Harris Whitfield
From her book
Spiritual Awakenings

WHAT CHANGES US IN A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING? One thing to consider is that we may have had a powerful energy force activated within us. One name that has been given to that energy is Kundalini. Scientists from the Kundalini Research Network (KRN) have begun to define Kundalini as "the evolutionary energy/consciousness force. . . . [Its] awakening effects a transformative process in the psycho-physiological and spiritual realms and results, ultimately, in the realization of the oneness of the individual and universal consciousness."

Transpersonal psychotherapist Bonnie Greenwell, physicist Paul Pond and others of KRN[i] hypothesize that Kundalini is associated with and may be the cause of mystical experiences, psychic ability, creativity and genius. Some observers note that Kundalini may be linked to some forms of mental illness. One of KRN's goals to is make Kundalini known to the Western world, especially the scientific and medical communities, therapists, health care workers and those who have had Kundalini experiences but may not realize it.

Phenomena associated with the rising or arousal of Kundalini energy is occurring with increasing frequency to Westerners who have never heard of it and have done nothing consciously to arouse it. The term "rising" is often used in this way to describe the arousal of the Kundalini energy to an undetermined level that may or may not complete itself as a sustained evolution of consciousness. Felt as vast rushes of energy through the body, Kundalini-rising can create profound changes in the structure of people's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives.

Western Research

Bonnie Greenwell addressed some of the problems and joys of Kundalini-rising in her doctoral dissertation, which she has published as Energies of Transformation: A Guide to the Kundalini Process. This book summarizes her six years of research and experience working with individuals who have awakened Kundalini.
After centuries of hiding in nearly every culture on the globe under the guise of a secret esoteric truth, the Kundalini experience is reported more and more frequently among modern spiritual seekers, and it appears to be occurring even among people who are not pursuing disciplined or esoteric spiritual practices. When this happens to those who have no understanding of the profound correlations between the physical and mystical experiences, it can leave them bewildered and frightened, even psychologically fragmented. When they turn to traditional physicians, psychotherapists or church advisors, their anxiety is compounded by the general lack of understanding in Western culture regarding the potentiality in the human psyche for profound spiritual emergence and its relationship to energy.[ii]

How Kundalini manifests itself in experiencers is called the physio-Kundalini syndrome.[iii] Researcher Bruce Greyson did a scientific study of the physio-Kundalini hypothesis. He reported those results at the 1992 KRN conference.
As a group, near-death experiencers reported experiencing almost twice as many physio-Kundalini items as did people who had close brushes with death but no NDE, and people who had never come close to death. As a check on whether the physio-Kundalini questionnaire might be measuring nonspecific strange experiences, I threw into the analysis the responses of a group of hospitalized psychiatric patients. They reported the same number of physio-Kundalini [index] items as did the non-NDE control group. There were two unexpected and ambiguous "control" groups in my studies: people who claimed to have had NDEs but described experiences with virtually no typical NDE features; and people who denied having had NDEs but then went on to describe prototypical near-death experiences. In their responses to the physio-Kundalini questionnaire, the group that made unsupported claims of NDEs were comparable to the non-NDE control group, while the group that denied having NDEs (but according to their responses on the NDE scale, did) were comparable to the group of NDErs. In regard to awakening Kundalini, then, having an experience mattered, but thinking you had one didn't.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Poem by John O'Donohue 

A Blessing for Old Age
by John O'Donohue

May the light of your soul mind you,
May all of your worry and anxiousness about becoming old
be transfigured,
May you be given a wisdom with the eye of your soul,
to see this beautiful time of harvesting.
May you have the commitment to harvest your life,
to heal what has hurt you, to allow it to come closer to you
and become one with you.
May you have great dignity, may you have a sense of how
free you are,
and above all may you be given the wonderful gift of meeting
the eternal light
and beauty that is within you.
May you be blessed, and may you find a wonderful love in
yourself for yourself.

(from his book, "Anam Cara"--the title means "soul friend")

(also, see the website dedicated to his memory at http://www.johnodonohue.com)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Regina Ryan's workshops in Boulder 

Regina Ryan is one of the world's most remarkable women. She has been to India many, many times, is the editor for "Hohm Press" in Prescott, AR (the publishing arm for her ashram, founded by Lee Lodziwik, now deceased). One of her primary current focuses now is helping women claim their power. She is a delight and a joy and I am sure you will like her.
AS you can see, she is more interested in getting the word out than in making big bucks, so her prices are very reasonable. Here is her upcoming schedule:

Regina was the editor for my first book, "Marrow of Flame," and since then we have become great friends.

Regina’s Schedule for February, 2012

Click titles for details

Cultivating Sacred Intention: A Way to the Heart’s Aim
Talk with Regina Sara Ryan and Dr. Tom Lennon
Friday February 24th , 7:30-9:30 PM

Praying Dangerously
Seminar with Regina Sara Ryan
Saturday February 25th , 9:00 am - 3:30 pm

For Inspired Mothers And Other Remarkable Women
Tea party with Regina Sara Ryan and Rahima Baldwin Dancy
Saturday February 25th 3:30 am - 5:30 pm

Invitation to Here & Now: The Everyday Possibility of Genuine Spiritual Practice
Seminar with Regina Sara Ryan and Dr. Tom Lennon
Sunday, February 26, 2012, 10 AM – 4 PM
Cultivating Sacred Intention

A Way to the Heart’s Aim

an evening with Regina Sara Ryan & Tom Lennon

Invoking the fire of genuine devotion—to the highest spiritual principles, to a guru or teacher, to the Beloved, to Love itself—is a means of cultivating sacred intention, a direct way to the heart’s aim. Great masters, saints and teachers (women and men from all traditions) have shown us the transformational power of the Sacred to both purify the mind and ignite the heart.

Regina and Tom invite seekers and practitioners from all spiritual paths to join them in this evening’s consideration. The purpose of this gathering is to generate remembrance of the heart’s intention, its longing, and the necessity for this to emerge in our lives.

Together we will consider:

The witness of great lovers, great devotees, from all traditions.
The art of devotion. How it works in mind and heart.
How to cultivate everyday devotion for the feeding of the soul.
Friday, February 24, 2012, 7:30 PM, $10


Colorado School of Energy Studies
100 Arapahoe St., Suite 4
Boulder, CO 80302
To register or for more information: contact Bhadra at 303-543-8700

or email: prayingdangerously@commspeed.net

(Regina's picture found on her website)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poem by Galway Kinnell 

The Still Time

I know there is still time—
time for the hands
to open,
to be filled
by those failed harvests,
the imagined bread of the days of not having.
I remember those summer nights
when I was young and empty,
when I lay through the darkness
wanting, wanting,
I would have nothing of anything I wanted—
that total craving
that hollows the heart out irreversibly.
So it surprises me now to hear
the steps of my life following me—
so much of it gone
it returns, everything that drove me crazy
comes back, as if blessing the misery
of each step it took me into the world;
as though a prayer had ended
and the changed
air between the palms goes free
to become the glitter
on common things that inexplicably shine.
And the old voices,
which once made broken-off, choked, parrot-incoherences,
speak again,
this time on the palatum cordis,
saying there is still time
for those who can groan
to sing,
for those who can sing to heal themselves.

- Galway Kinnell

This poem, by the famous Irish author, tells us something important. When we are young, we crave many things, and feel that we shall never receive them. Yet these very wants can become the medium for taking us into the world, and achieving our desires. The poem ends with a consolation--those who still have not achieved their goals still have time (to"sing') and those who have learned to sing (arrived at their place of longing) can use that joy to heal themselves.

(photo by Sara Barrett)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

poem by Mary Oliver 

Blue Iris

Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?
Can’t fly, can’t run, and see how slowly I walk.
Well I think I can read books.

What’s that you are doing?
the green headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.
I close the book.

Well, I can write down words like these, softly.
“What’s that your’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing,
in a heap just outside the window.

Give me a little time I say back to its staring face.
It doesn’t happen all of a sudden you know.

”Doesn’t it ?’ says the wind, and breaks open, releasing
distillation of blue iris,

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

- Mary Oliver

This well known poem by Mary Oliver strikes a chord with all of us. The first part describes how we so often are--longing for we know not what, yearning for "it"--the "something" that will change our lives and give them meaning. Yet, the poet tells us, it is not by "doing" but rather by "receiving" that we will discover the hidden treasure of our lives. I think we have all had such moments in our lives--moments when we forget who we are, quit fretting over "our plans," and simply become still--one with the silence. Then we are indeed "the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle." And it is then that we are complete and know--without words or explanation--that we are whole.

(photo by ThomasHookerphotography.com)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"More" (poem by Dorothy) 


No matter what they tell
we know there is always

The Big Bang made a great noise,
(had anyone been there
to hear it),
and after that,
icy fragments,
spewing fires,
amoebae, fins,
green things growing from earth,
climbing creatures with tails and feet,
everything leading to
where we are now,
how we got here,
impossibility born
of a million improbabilities,
the vastly large
with the infinitely small,
twinkle in daddy’s eye,
one out of a billion
making it home.

Dorothy Walters
(from "The Ley Lines of the Soul")

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

on Love (from Anam Cara) 

(The following is from Lawrence Edwards (Kalidas), who is the founder and director of Anam Cara, one of our most valuable spiritual institutions):

Dear Friend
Valentine's Day is the pure celebration of LOVE! On other holidays we celebrate objects of love, but on this day we exalt LOVE itself. What a delight! And so many forms to delight in - amorous love, platonic love, brotherly love, sisterly love, love of parents, love of our children, love of pets, love of life, love, love, love, divine in all her forms!

However you celebrate Love, may the love in your heart be as radiant as the sun, warming you within and shining on all!

All There Is, Is Love

Love is the cure, for your pain will continue to give birth to more pain until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly as your body yields its scent.

The Flames of Love

Let the flames of Love cleanse you
of all clinging to illusions.

Let Love illumine the Truth.

Love is the most sublime path.
Love is the most profound meditation.
Love is the highest attainment.

In Love - the fullness of compassion.
In Love - timeless patience.
In Love - unbounded awareness.
In Love - all is illuminated.
In Love - vast spaciousness.
In Love - form and emptiness embrace.
In Love - I and Thou disappear.
In Love -

Kali's Bazaar, p. 31
A newly released collection of poetry by Kalidas.

(Note: the above book is now available on Amazon. I was honored to write a blurb for this book. Here is what I wrote:

In “Kali’s Bazaar,” Lawrence Edwards, Ph. D., offers us what is rare in our modern world--a dedicated pilgrim who speaks the authentic language of desire, hope, and union as he approaches the throne of the Invisible,“Kali,” the divine all knowing Mother of all that is . Spoken as the true devotee, he allows us to witness through the power of sacred poetry the profound adoration of and day to day interactions between the small self and the Great Wisdom Being who guides and protects. Such perspectives are rare in our modern age, though they were once prevalent in certain parts of the world. Kalidas (servant of Kali) reminds us that such dedication is timeless and true devotion occurs in all eras and geographic locations. To read these verses is to undergo a deep infusion of Divine Love.
Dorothy Walters, Ph. D.

Here is a description of the book from the back cover:
Kali's Bazaar
Penned by Kalidas

You may laugh out loud, be moved to tears or pulled into deep contemplation by what you encounter in Kali's Bazaar. Readers will return often to this accessible collection of poems to draw from its wellspring of devotion, revelation and celebration of the Divine present in every moment, every being and all of creation. Bring inspiration, clarity and practical instruction to your spiritual path or meditative practice through insightful and often ecstatic poetry from a devoted master meditation teacher who has more that 40 years of experience teaching and practicing the arts of meditation.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Stephanie Marohn's new youtube presentation 

Stephanie Marohn has a new presentation on Youtube on her Animal Messengers sanctuary for large animals. You will remember that I posted an entry on Stephanie's new book ("What the Animals Taught Me') just a couple of weeks ago. Look up her youtube presentation to see what Stephanie is all about and how her animals flourish under her care.

Look up "Stephanie Marohn" or "Animal Messengers Sanctuary" to locate the site on YouTube.

Friday, February 10, 2012


"Synchronicity" is a term used to describe events that happen more or less at the same time that seem to have an uncanny connection. In some ways, synchronicity is similar to coincidence. Today I experienced such a synchronicity.

I belong to a local group that explores such topics as dowsing, alien forces, shamanism, and the like. The speaker today was discussing how "dowsing" (similar to pendulum work) could be used to answer questions on a variety of topics, including the sources of one's allergic reactions. Using this method, she discovered that she was allergic to "wasp dust." At first, she felt this didn't make sense, for wasps live outside, not in the house. Then she found that the wasps had indeed found a way to enter her house, and thus they were the cause of her distress.

Now, this would be just another interesting story except for the fact that last night I had, for no obvious reason, dreamt that there was in fact a wasps' nest in my house. This dream (just a brief flash really) had no known cause and was unique in my experience. It was another instance where the "cart" (my dream flash) seemed to come before the "horse" (her talk). It seemed like a playful reminder from the universe that things are not as cut and dried as the rational mind might suppose.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

"Praying" by Mary Oliver 


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver

(image found on internet)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

"Benedicto," poem by Edward Abbey 


May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous,
leading to the most amazing view.
May your rivers flow without end,
meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells,
past temples and castles and poets' towers
into a dark primeval forest
where tigers belch and monkeys howl,
through miasmal and mysterious swamps
and down into a desert of red rock,
and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm
where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs,
where deer walk across the white sand beaches,
where storms come and go
as lightning clangs upon the high crags,
where something strange and more beautiful
and more full of wonder than
your deepest dreams waits for you--
beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.

- Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey was a devoted lover of nature, so this poem, on the literal level, is about the wonder of the natural environment. On another level, it could be read as a symbolic description of the life journey, and more than that, of the spiritual journey into mystery itself, not to mention Kundalini: "where something strange and more beautiful/and more full of wonder than/your deepest dreams waits for you..."

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Who or What is Buddha? 

I have long been puzzled by the advice given to practicing Buddhists that they must first of all "Take Refuge in the Buddha.' Yet Buddha admonished his followers to "be a light unto yourselves" and not to accept the teachings of others until they had first tested the validity of these thoughts in their own minds. As we know, the teachings of the "founders" of any religion often become distorted as creeds and institutions grow up over the years, often resulting in dogma which can become the opposite of the original meanings.

Robert Thurman is one of the foremost scholars of Buddhism of our time. His
explanation offers a very different interpretation of "Taking refuge in Buddha" from that offered by many sects, who prefer a more literal interpretation, one binding the follower to accept the dictates of a narrow band of interpreters who feel that they, somehow, and only they, have the ultimate answers. I prefer Thurman's interpretation, for it confirms the validity of the "direct path," in which one listens to the voice of the "guru within," rather than external authority.

frpm The Three Jewels of Buddhism
What it means to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
BY: Robert Thurman
From "The Jewel Tree of Tibet" by Robert Thurman. Copyright c 2005 by Bob Thurman, Inc.

The Three Jewels are the foundation of all forms of Buddhism, and the first jewel is the Buddha. The word buddha means "the Awakened One." And it doesn't mean only Shakyamuni Buddha, formerly the prince Siddhartha, who became a perfect buddha in the sixth century before the Common Era in India, whom we sometimes call the "historical buddha." Buddha means all those who have awakened from the sleep of ignorance and blossomed into their full potential.
Awakened and blossomed, they are teachers of others. That role is just as important as the fact that they're awakened themselves. Remember that awakening, freedom from suffering, salvation, if you will, liberation, omniscience, buddhahood, all come from your own understanding, your insight into your own reality. It cannot come just from the blessing of another, from some magical empowerment, from some sort of secret gimmick, or from membership in a group. It can't even come only through your faith, although some good faith may help. It can't come through meditation, either, at least not by meditation alone.

So, the most important element of Buddha to us, until we become buddhas ourselves, is that Buddha is a teacher, and he gives us a teaching. Now, teaching is not an indoctrination; it's not imposing a dogma. A teaching gives us a set of methods that we can use to develop ourselves, to learn, to think over, to meditate upon, and finally, to gain deep, profound, transforming insight, wisdom, and understanding.

So, we take refuge in the Buddha: Namo buddham sharanam gacchami. We turn to the teaching of the reality of bliss, the teaching of the method of achieving happiness in whatever form it comes to us, whether it comes as Christianity, whether it comes as humanism, whether it comes as Hinduism, Sufism, or Buddhism. The form doesn't matter. The teacher is Buddha to us, one who can point the way to our own reality for us. He could be a scientist; she could be a religious teacher.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Buddhism/2005/04/The-Three-Jewels-Of-Buddhism.aspx#ixzz1ljOgSxY8

Monday, February 06, 2012

Kundalini and NDE's 

It has been frequently noted that Kundalini and Near Death Experiences have much in common. Both totally transform the life, opening up new vistas on perspectives we never dreamed existed. Both confirm that Divine Love is the ultimate reality and reveal that we can enter states of consciousness marked by such joy and bliss that even death itself need not be feared. Each carries us into a new life, a life of affirmation and joy, and imbues us with a deep need to help others along the way.

Indeed, these two experiences have so much in common that organizations of either welcome those who come from the parallel group. NDE's welcome Kundalini folk to their meetings, and likewise with Kundalini organizations such as the Kundalini Research Networks. Each is a life transforming experience, and each offers rich rewards to the one who undergoes such profound awakening.

Today, I happened upon this website of Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon now living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Here is an excerpt from her book, "To Heaven and Back," in which she describes the experience that changed her from a merely 'left-brained" scientist to someone who now is a convinced believer in 'things unseen."

Dr. Mary Neal has led a life brimming with the gift and privilege of being touched by God in visible and very tangible ways. Despite being a scientific and skeptical orthopaedic surgeon, she believes that God is present in our world today, that miracles still occur, that there are angels all around us, that God keeps His promises, and that there is sufficient reason to live by faith.

She drowned on a South American river, and went to Heaven. She conversed with angels. She returned to Earth, in part, to tell her story to others and help them find their way back to God.

In this book, Dr. Neal shares the details of her life in which she has experienced not just one miracle, but many. Her story not only provides comfort and hope for the future, but gives a reason to stop doubting and live by faith.

"We are not human beings
On a spiritual journey,
But spiritual beings
On a human journey."

-Stephen Covey

God and His angelic messengers are present and active in our world today and this involvement and intervention is both ordinary in its frequency and extraordinary in its occurrence. Despite leading what I would consider a very ordinary life, I have had the privilege of being touched by God in visible and very tangible ways. One of these experiences began on January 14, 1999, when I was vacationing in South America with my husband. While boating, I was pinned underwater in my kayak and drowned. I died and went to heaven. After a brief stay, I was returned to my body. I returned to my Earthly life with two shattered legs and severe pulmonary problems. I was hospitalized for more than a month, wheelchair bound for even longer, and did not return to my orthopaedic surgery practice for more than six months.

Many have described my accident as terrible and tragic. I describe it as one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The series of events surrounding my accident and recovery were nothing short of miraculous. Not only did I have the privilege of experiencing heaven, but I continued to experience the intensity of God’s world and conversed with angels several times in the weeks after my return. Through this experience and conversation, I gained an understanding of many of life’s important questions, such as “What happens when we die?”, “Why are we here?”, and “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. I also gained an understanding of the disciple Paul’s statement from 1 Corinthians 13 that of faith, hope, and love, the most enduring is love. I already had reasons to believe in miracles, but taking a journey to heaven and back transformed my faith into knowledge and my hope into reality. My love remained unchanged and everlasting.

One of the several reasons for my return to Earth was to tell my story to others and help them find their way back to God. During my initial recovery, I was invited to share my story with small groups in my community and these people shared my story with their friends and family. As it was spread to many parts of the country, I was often told of the profound impact my story made on the lives of the people who heard it. In the process of sharing, I realized that my story does not really belong to me, but to God, and is meant to be shared. It has inspired many people, stimulated discussion, and has often resulted in a rejuvenated relationship with God. It has lessened people’s fear of death and increased their passion for living a full and meaningful life. My story has deepened people’s faith and given them hope for the future.

Noblesse Oblige: With Privilege Comes Responsibility

Truly, God does not give us a lamp so we can hide it under a basket or a bed. He gives each of us a lamp so we may give light to the world. Light always dissipates the emptiness of darkness. Ultimately, I felt that if the reading of my story could bring even one person closer to God, it would be worth the writing.Thus, I began to set down on paper an account of my observations and experiences. What I could not have known, and did not know as I worked to complete my manuscript, was that the sense of urgency compelling me to complete it was also God’s hand at work in my life. For the story did not end there . . .

Dr. Mary Neal has led a life brimming with the gift and privilege of being touched by God in visible and very tangible ways. Despite being a scientific and skeptical orthopaedic surgeon, she believes that God is present in our world today, that miracles still occur, that there are angels all around us, that God keeps His promises, and that there is sufficient reason to live by faith.

She drowned on a South American river, and went to Heaven. She conversed with angels. She returned to Earth, in part, to tell her story to others and help them find their way back to God.

In this book, Dr. Neal shares the details of her life in which she has experienced not just one miracle, but many. Her story not only provides comfort and hope for the future, but gives a reason to stop doubting and live by faith.

Friday, February 03, 2012

"What the Animals Taught Me" by Stephanie Marohn 

Stephanie Marohn is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She is an author, editor, animal lover, and energy medicine animal healer. She oversees her own animal rescue center located north of San Francisco, and I love visiting her there where she is surrounded by her beloved four leggeds--mostly large animals such as sheep, donkeys, and even a miniature horse, all of whom she has rescued from abusive or neglectful circumstances.

Stephanie has written a book on her experiences operating her shelter (now available everywhere, including bookstores and Amazon).. It has already attracted a lot of notice, and has even been adopted by some of the biggest book clubs. Stephanie is one who offers authentic love to the world and all of its creatures.

Here is an article and excerpt from her book. Be sure to buy it!
Also, visit her website at: http://www.stephaniemarohn.com/

What the Animals Taught Me: Stories of Love and Healing from a Farm Animal Sanctuary
by Stephanie Marohn
Posted by: DailyOM

What the Animals Taught Me is a collection of stories about rescued farm animals in a shelter in Sonoma County, California, and what these animals can teach us. Each story illuminates how animals can help us see and embrace others as they truly are and reconnect us with the natural world.

Wishing to escape the urban rat race, freelance writer and editor Stephanie Marohn moved to rural northern California in 1993. Life was sweet. She was a busy freelancer. In return for reduced rent, she fed and cared for two horses and a donkey. Her life was full.

And then, more farm animals started to appear: a miniature white horse, a donkey, sheep, chickens, followed by deer and other wildlife. Each one needed sanctuary either from abuse, physical injury, or neglect. Marohn took each animal in and gradually turned her 10-acre spread into an animal sanctuary.

Each chapter of What the Animals Taught Me focuses on the story of a particular animal that became part of Marohn's life. She shares what she learned from the sheep she rescued from an animal collector, the abused donkey she helped nurse back to health, and many others to remind us that animals have much to teach us about love, compassion, trust, and so many of the qualities we so often try to cultivate in ourselves.

A deeply inspiring collection, What the Animals Taught Me awakens our hearts and reminds us that our best life teachers sometimes come covered in fur.


Unconditional Love Lesson #1:
Letting Go of Control

It was twelve years ago t h at Pegasus began my training in the Way of the Horse and she is still my daily companion on that path. With her, I have learned how to walk the line between confidence and dominance. Like many animal lovers, I had always been reluctant to exert my wishes on the animals under my care. Who am I to decide what they need to do? I would say. You might be able to get away with that approach when it comes to a cat or a small dog. So the cat gets up on the table. So the dog doesn’t always come right away when called. No big deal when safety isn’t involved. But out in the pasture, with large animals who can hurt you, unintentionally or not, you have to step firmly into the leadership role.

With animals, what I had to learn was the difference between domination and wise guidance so I could be comfortable stepping up to the leadership plate. With Pegasus, I discovered that truly wise leadership operates through cooperation and harmony. Over time, I deepened my ability to create this with all the animals in my care.

Sadly, the concept of leading through cooperation and harmony is rare in the equestrian world. Many horse people are all about dominance and rule when it comes to their horses. Recently, I was walking with a friend on a forest trail when a woman in the saddle on an obviously distressed horse came down the trail toward us. The horse was wideeyed, neighing, dancing sideways, turning, and otherwise attempting to escape the tightly reined-in hold the rider was trying to maintain. As they passed us, the rider whipped the horse’s neck with a riding crop. I have always hated cruelty toward animals, and seeing it can send me into fierce rage.

In past years, before the animals opened my heart to all beings, I would probably have yelled at the woman, hotly berating her for her abusive treatment of the horse. In my righteous anger, I failed to see the irony of such a reaction— a person mistreating an animal, me mistreating that person. My heart was as closed to the person as the person’s was to the animal. In my deep upset over abuse of animals, I withdrew all caring for the human involved. I didn’t feel such a person deserved to be treated with respect.

But it was different on the trail that day. As the rider passed us, I sent love to the mare with the fervent prayer that the situation would change for her. I also sent love to the rider because I knew she was the one who needed to change. I have the animals to thank for this being my first and instinctual response. I had fully taken in what they had taught me about unconditional love.

Then the rider pulled the horse up just past us, forced the horse around, and struggled to keep her in place. I approached slowly and asked if I could greet the horse.
She nodded and I put a hand out to the mare. The mare was too agitated to interact and I could see her anxiety rising. She was nearly out of her head with it.

I began to talk quietly with the woman. In the conversation that followed, she expressed her frustration that the mare just wanted to get back to the barn and her herd and that she often resisted the woman’s commands. The woman was forcing the horse to stand facing back up the trail. She was determined that the horse would give in and relax before she turned her around and let her head for home. There was no way that horse was going to relax under all that anger flowing from the person astride her. I could see the situation was escalating as the angry rider continued to try to regain control and the horse became more upset.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your ultimate goal here?” I inquired, keeping my voice calm with no note of criticism.

“I win, win, win,” she said, without hesitation.

And there is the problem, I thought. But I said, “Have you considered that cooperation might be a better basis for a relationship?”

The woman must have taken that in some, because when I suggested that the situation might change if she dismounted and helped the mare calm down, she did. I was thinking how awful it must be for a horse to have on her back a rider whose motivation is to win, win, win, with no thought of what is good for the horse or how distressing that angry, controlling energy must feel coming through the saddle, the stirrups, the reins, and the riding crop into the horse’s body with no means for the horse to escape it aside from throwing the rider. The horse either cared enough about her rider not to do that or had been severely punished for it in the past.

When the woman dismounted, I saw the utter relief in the horse’s body. She began to calm immediately. Soon the woman allowed the horse to turn for the walk back to the barn.

Before the woman went, I thanked her for letting me talk with her. I was truly grateful for how open she had been. She didn’t know me, but yet she had been willing to listen, even in her own obvious distress. I think she was willing to listen to me because I approached her with caring and compassion, rather than with the need to teach her or berate her. What I felt toward her was real and she could feel it; it wouldn’t have worked if I had had rage in my heart, but I had put on a show of compassion. I wanted her to stop sending all that angry energy into the horse, but it would work no better with her than with the horse to get angry and yell at her, be fakely nice, or otherwise alienate her with attempts at control. I had to try to elicit her cooperation.

I succeeded to a point, but that woman and her horse stayed on my mind for the rest of that day and days afterward. I thought of all that I could have said, should have said to help her see another way of being with her horse.

This is what I wish I had said: Can any relationship with anybody—animal or human—work when the motivation of one of the members in the relationship is to win, win, win? That motivation is all about controlling the other, rather than considering what is in the other’s best interests. How can we feel good about a relationship when we know that the other just wants to win? That kind of win means someone has to lose. For a relationship to thrive, there must be a way for both members to win. And that winning can simply be defined as having found a way to work beautifully together. Cooperation and harmony, not control, is the motivation and the goal.

As I see it, humans’ attempts to control arise out of fear and pain or, more accurately, the desire to keep from feeling fear and pain. In the case of the rider on the trail, perhaps she did not know how afraid she was, trying and failing to control this large animal. Anger often covers fear. But the attempt to control another only makes us feel worse, as it further closes our hearts. To open our hearts, we must let go of control, of trying to control others and our circumstances. When we do this, we have taken the first step toward being able to love unconditionally, the ultimate in harmonious relationships. When we love unconditionally, everything just works better.

Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean, however, that we have no requirements in our relationships. I needed Pegasus to accept the halter so I could maintain her safety and her health. I needed to find another way besides force to reach that goal. Eliciting her cooperation by learning to speak her language, being clear in my objectives, and coming from a place of love and an open heart was that way. Getting angry at her seeming lack of acquiescence would only have entrenched us in a negative cycle that would have closed both our hearts and created years of problems (the woman on the trail was in such a negative cycle with her horse). At the same time, continuing to cry in the pasture, to fold before the task of building cooperation, would also have stalled (sorry!) our relationship.

Developing cooperation requires creativity. When I visited an animal sanctuary in New Zealand, I looked with wonder at all the animals accompanying the director and me as she showed me around—dogs, cats, chickens, baby goats, even rabbits. I asked how she had gotten the dogs not to chase the other animals. “I made what I was doing much more interesting,” she said.

Developing cooperation requires more time than ruling by coercion does, but the rewards are great and ever expanding. You may be quickly able to bend an animal to your will using fear and force, but once you see what horses (or dogs or any other beings) who exist in cooperation with humans rather than under their dominion are like, you will never be tempted to go back to the old way of control. (And after my experience with the rider on the trail, I also can’t imagine going back to my old way of raging at someone who is mistreating an animal.) Letting go of the need to dominate allows trust and love to blossom. It is a basic lesson in learning to open the heart and love unconditionally. Loving unconditionally means we do not predicate our love on the other doing what we want. Loving unconditionally means we work together for the highest good of both of us. To enter the realm of unconditional love, we let go of our desire to control, and focus instead on our desire to connect and communicate. And soon, a whole field of flowers is blooming before us.

Copyright © 2012 What the Animals Taught Me by Stephanie Marohn.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Who You Are (poem by Dorothy) 

Who You Are

How the body is put together,
with its tender fastenings,
its mysterious openings,
its muscles working in
smooth coordination
to convey it
where it wishes to go,
how it changes
from year to year,
from day to day,
its cells working in collusion
to carry it always
into a new formulation,
how the face communicates
its signals
wherever it goes,
whether it is
happy or sad
or puzzled
or plotting,
how the inner and outer,
organs and coverings
are part
of the same being,
the same oneness
that is bound together
to make the unique creation,
the one combination
that is you,
present here,
spirit’s abode,
soul’s habitation,
never to be encountered
in time’s endless

Dorothy Walters
(from "The Ley Lines of the Soul")

(image is William Blake's "Ancient of Days," found on Wikipedia. Essentially, the picture depicts God creating the universe.)

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