The Eddying of Experiences

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(Regular posts will resume by November 2, 2014)

We are stardust—we know that—but as we are dust so are we energy. It is from this energy that we have a momentary experience as a human being, a blade of grass, or an armadillo.

And when we are no longer in this physical dimension, we remain energy, perhaps to know an experience in some other dimension or maybe to return for another physical life, leaving only our dust once again.

Our physical experience is unique to us—each of us has our own vibration—sometimes we’re a wave and other times, a particle.

Since subatomic matter makes up everything we can see and touch and experience in our macro world, then in a sense we—along with everything in our world—are also doing this disappearing act all the time. And so if subatomic particles exist in an infinite number of possible places simultaneously, then in some way so do we.

(You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, Dr. Joe Dispenza, p. 183)

The quantum model is staggering with possibility, fascinating and even spellbinding, reality rooted in the pure energy we are. That’s the power of possibility, revealing that magic is real.

KMHuberImage; McCord Park; Tallahassee; Florida

I have always believed in magic, always sensed we had not yet grasped its true nature. For me, the quantum model is a magic carpet ride where the magic is the pure energy of life riding on reality, soaring and swooping, sometimes swirling.

The energy comprising the oneness of reality resembles a whirlpool as it “…fades out and the water passes on, perhaps to be caught again and turned for a moment into another whirlpool,” each its own eddy of experience (Charlotte Joko Beck).

Each whirlpool caught up in its own moment of existence yet ever connected to the energy of coming and going. Sometimes, we’re the  whirlpool, and other times, we’re a drop but always, we are the river.

There are many names and beliefs for the energy animating existence–God, the Universe, the Source. Each expression of this energy—as a human, as a blade of grass, as an armadillo–is a unique experience of life, a momentary whirlpool in the river that runs eternally.

When we learn to move beyond mistaken concepts and see clearly, we no longer solidify reality. We see waves coming and going, arising and passing. We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual, constant transformation and flux. There is always the possibility of radical change. Every moment – not just poetically or figuratively, but literally – every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all of life.

~ Sharon Salzberg ~

Not so Much but Just Enough

The whole harmony of life is a balancing act–not too tight, not too loose. It is not static—this Yin-Yang balance—it is in constant motion, ever impermanent as it shifts and adapts but always it is whole, complete.

The phrase “not too tight, not too loose” is associated with a well-known Buddhist story about a musician—he is a sitar or lute player depending upon the version–who comes to the Buddha for advice on meditating.

No and No 0914The Buddha advises the musician to consider his musical instrument as he asks, “What happens if you turn the strings too tightly?”

“The strings break,” the musician answers.

“And when the strings are not tight enough?”

The musician replies, “They are too loose. A string in tune is neither too tight nor too loose.”

Not too tight, not too loose is the elegant simplicity of balance, whether we are tuning a musical instrument, practicing meditation, or just living our lives day-to-day. Ultimately, imbalance finds balance.

The constant adjusting of imbalance plays out against the backdrop of life ever in motion and always in perfect balance. That is the wholeness of Buddha nature where cacophony finds its way to harmony, ultimately.

The tuning of strings on wood is straightforward but for human beings with so many ways to adjust and adapt what is too much or not enough is not always as obvious.

It is helpful when there is a buddha to ask, although the face of a buddha is not always recognized.

We meet ourselves time and again

in a thousand disguises on the path of life.

Carl Jung

These disguises, or buddhas, are mirrors of well-known behaviors, the “ineffable flux that makes a person a unique being” (Ted Kaptchuk). It is for us to look into each mirror, to seek the unique in the familiar, to open to life as it is revealed. If not, we could miss meeting a buddha.

The uniqueness is the chaos of being alive—the struggle for balance—within the constancy of life, whole in its harmony. Like the strings of the lute, living requires a fine tuning between too much and not enough. And for the sitar, it is how it sings.
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There is no standard or absolute–what is health for one person may be sickness in another. There is no notion of “normal” Yin-Yang–only the unique challenges and possibilities of each human life.

(Ted Kaptchuk, The Web That Has No Weaver)

As Lao Tzu said, “he who stands on tiptoe is not steady” for the only constancy in Yin-Yang is that it—and us—are ever in flux. There is no one health for all, no normal for anyone. There is only the fine tuning of living—not too tight, not too loose—in attaining balance, momentary as it may be.

Nothing remains; everything passes by.
The only thing that always abides is your witnessing.

That witnessing brings balance.
That witnessing is balance.

~Osho~

Always, there is the passing parade of buddhas, in one disguise after another.

The Light in Our Stars

Single movin' 0614It is the second day of summer in the northern hemisphere, June 22nd, the first day when the amount of sunlight no longer increases for the longest day of 2014, the summer solstice, has passed.   

In what will seem no time at all—just a jumble of days and nights—it will be the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, followed by December 22, the first day the amount of daylight no longer decreases.

The seasons cycle as does all life on the physical plane. Some pass away and others remain longer. It is love that sustains the coming and going of life.   

I made the above notes in my journal while I was at Waverly the afternoon of June 22nd. This is the first summer my dear friend, Maurya, is not here, having died this past winter. It is a lifelong habit, this marking of seasons and remembering love given and received.

It is my way of accepting that all pass away, as will I someday, and remembering that love is beyond time, form, or condition. One need only look to the light in the stars or to the shimmering light of the sun on a pond to see love expressed over and over as life.

And on this June 22nd there was something else occurring, a gathering of cyclists and walkers at 2 p.m. on the Charles River in Massachusetts. The event was Movin’ for Maurya, another celebration of her life and a fundraiser for endometrial cancer research.

Those unable to be in Massachusetts went to places they walked or cycled with Maurya or to places she knew only through pictures or conversation. Wherever we gathered, the memories of Maurya were many and rich in the equanimity and compassion that flowed so gently, so easily from her.

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Each friendship was unique to her, treasured and nurtured. To have known such love in a lifetime is to feel invincible, awash in waves of unconditional love. On many occasions it has nearly brought me to my knees for the sheer wonder of it.

And for me, not surprisingly, it is at Waverly that Maurya seems so near, although she knew Waverly only through the pictures and posts on this blog. But then, Waverly is like stepping out of time and into the endless energy of existence.

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
~Thich Nhat Hanh~

The oneness of existence is beyond this body, this I that experiences life on the physical plane, one of seamless sensations, boundless as the breeze upon my face. On this physical plane love announces itself as sight and sound, as touch and taste, a heady aroma this experience of existence.

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It is just after 2 p.m. when the goslings and their parents slip into the waters of Waverly as I look to the northeast and to the Charles River. Endless existence washes over me in waves of gratitude that is no less than the light in the stars.

On some nights, it seems the stars wink in recognition. Perhaps they do for one day I, too, will be among the energy of existence as are those who I loved and who loved me during our shared experience on the physical plane.

Occasionally, I have thought our time together too brief but then I remember that I am not separate but one with existence beyond form, dimension or condition. I look to the light in the stars and sometimes, I wink back.

The First Peace in Relationship is Life Anew

This past Monday, feline EmmaRose and I experienced the imperative inherent in impermanence. One being can never know another completely, which is as it should be. The richness of relationship, its mystery, keeps us curious and often, in awe.

In her sun 0413As a cat, EmmaRose is ever present. Routine is her preference for that means food and shelter—her sense of security—is not threatened.  For the three and a half years she has lived with me not even the furniture has been rearranged. It seems she appreciated this more than I knew.

We spend most of our time in the bedroom, which doubles as my work area. I work from an adjustable Tempurpedic bed complete with laptop and bed table. EmmaRose is quite partial to sleeping on the Internet router, especially in winter, or near/on my lap while I write.

Our living room has never had much furniture. There is still a lovely antique, wooden rocker with a padded seat. It is more comfortable than it looks. Also, there is a large, rust-colored ottoman suitable for human and feline window gazing.

There WAS a twin bed box springs and mattress that I tried to disguise as a sofa-daybed. For me it was ugly, uncomfortable, an unpleasant reminder of another time. From time to time, however, I would find EmmaRose curled up and asleep on it.

That I regularly removed accumulated cat hair from its quilt cover should have told me that this was a nocturnal sleeping place. Did we not once watch a possum in moonlight from the sofa-daybed?

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In hindsight, it is obvious that a good deal on a used loveseat and recliner changed our relationship. In fact, EmmaRose seemed to sense imminent change the moment we heard the knock on our front door.

She did not watch the daybed leave the apartment, preferring the familiarity of the bedroom to wait for the moving in and moving out to cease. Only then did she return to the living room.

Although she is only five and a half pounds, she has an immense presence, especially when she communicates. We don’t focus on the actual meow or word. Rather, we pay attention to tone, and her feelings regarding the loveseat and recliner were quite clear.

Here we were in the reality of impermanence. The known furniture was gone and the unknown leather furniture was here. Accepting loss precedes learning to live with what is. Becoming once again secure in one’s world is unique to each being–there is no set amount of time.

KMHuberImage; Meditation Cat;

We can immerse ourselves into the newness of our world or we can skirt the change for awhile. Regardless, it is up to us to seek that first peace so integral to relationship, which is precisely what EmmaRose did three days and four nights later.

It was during the opalescent hours, as one day becomes another, that EmmaRose beckoned me to the loveseat for window gazing. In the light of the waning crescent moon, I glimpsed an occasional firefly but soon the purr of EmmaRose brought me, too, to sleep.

 

No Separation of Space and Time Here

I do not remember ever distinguishing the dimensions of space—length, depth, width, breadth, height—from time. Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and even Marcel Proust wrote of space and time as one. I came late to the word space-time (or spacetime) but not to the concept, not really.

For me, space-time has always been more about mindfulness, paying attention to the details of life as they unfold. The space of a moment is a combination of any three of the spatial dimensions–width, depth, breadth, length, or height. Its time is its unfolding as a scene in life. It is as if each moment has four dimensions, a trio of space in time, 3+1.
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Space-time gives me a better sense of the present as a bridge between the past and the future. The present provides open-ended access to both yet serves as a reminder that the only time we actually live is now.

Having access to the past and to the future is not the same as being in either for we are always only in the present. Yet, it is in paying attention to the details of our lives as they unfold that provides the access to both the past and to the future.

If being completely immersed in the moment reminds us of a similar scenario, that past moment might flash through the mind. It usually does for me. In that flash of familiarity, I have accessed the immutable past but the present scene is of its own unfolding. The scenes are similar but not the same.

Awareness also seems to color the future. Sometimes, I wonder whether or not awareness is the source of infinite possibilities. When we are truly present maybe we are stockpiling for our future; perhaps by minding the details of the present, we provide options for the future.

It is tempting to try to re-create the past as well as frame the future, as if either were possible. Neither is. I know. I have tried. The present is all there ever is and to ignore it is like separating space from time, something I cannot do.

After all, everywhere I go, there I am. I might as well be who I am in the moment that I am.

The Well of Compassion is Full of Emotion

When we get to the core of any emotion, even anger, we discover a wakeful energy free of drama, unattached to any situation. We have come to the well of compassion into which all emotion empties eventually. No longer do we thirst for we drink what we once found undrinkable.

It is a story we relive all our lives.

Immersed in our own drama, we exhibit behaviors to hide the heart of our anger. It is only when we strip away the story we have told ourselves—perhaps for years—that we discover the core of our anger. Once revealed, we empty ourselves, slaking our thirst with a cup of compassion.
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Not surprisingly, I am thinking of a story about the Buddha and an angry, young man. As the Buddha was walking through a village, he was approached by a young man who screamed at him. He taunted the Buddha, calling him stupid and a fake. The Buddha, the young man declared, had no right to teach anybody anything.

The Buddha quietly considered the young man before asking him a question. “’Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?’”*

The question was not what the young man expected, and he readily replied, “’It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.’*

“The Buddha smiled and said, `That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.’”*

That the Buddha did not react to the young man is anticipated yet in not accepting one gift, the Buddha offered another, the compassionate response: “If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.”*

The story ends with the young man giving up his anger and deciding to follow the Buddha. Stories are illustrative, sometimes metaphorical, but always they enrich our lives with what is possible. Compassion is always an option, which is not to say it is an easy response. Anger confines, love expands—our choice.

Anger is not easily eschewed either, whether it comes from within or whether it is offered to us. Like love, anger has survived and evolved with us. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche observed: “Meeting anger with anger is like following a lunatic who jumps off a cliff. Do I have to go likewise? While it’s crazy for him to act the way he does, it’s even crazier for me to do the same.”**

In the 21st century, opportunities abound as daily we crisscross our planet and the paths of others. Each meeting is an opportunity to drink a cup of compassion or to go crazy with the craziness.

*Buddha and the Angry Young Man

**Reacting With Anger

Love Lives In Inconvenient Places

Love lives in places and ways often missed for love only needs an open heart to thrive. Such is the story of Harriet and Hal, a human and a Chihuahua.

They shared food and constant companionship as they spent their days in a well-worn, overstuffed recliner not far from a medium-sized, flat-screen television. Sometimes they watched current events and other times they just left the television on “for the noise.”

They did not care for quiet so when they tired of the background noise, they talked to each other. Hal seemed to take sound seriously. When they walked outdoors, Hal greeted neighbors with a steady stream of squeaks and yips that had a lower and upper register. He always had a lot to say. Harriet translated, if she felt it necessary.

Harriet is older, mid-70s, and Hal was in the middle of his eighth year. He put on weight but Harriet did not. Her health is in decline—congestive heart failure and significant vascular issues—she is a smoker, although she has tried to stop and prays every day she will.  Other than a steady increase in weight, Hal’s health was remarkably good.

Harriet often worried that Hal might outlive her. From time to time, she would formulate a plan to provide for Hal but each idea faded. She seemed to recognize their way of life was unique to them. It was as if she decided she would just have to outlive Hal. And so she has.Clarity in the wild 0413

On the second day in October, Hal’s health went into decline. Like Harriet, he developed congestive heart failure and there was fluid in his lungs; then, he had trouble walking and finally, could no longer stand.

Harriet rearranged their lives as best as she was able, including securing a new veterinarian who makes house calls. Hal did spend just over 24 hours at the animal hospital but his need for Harriet was greater than his need for better nutrition, a smoke-free environment or medical care.

Upon Hal’s return home, he yipped and squeaked until he had told Harriet all he had to say. They spent their last night together in their chair with Harriet doing most of the talking. The next day, Harriet held him in her arms as he died.

In Hal’s last two weeks I was a part of their world more than I had ever been for we only saw each other in the way that neighbors do these days, fleetingly. I was aware and not aware of how they lived.

Once inside their home, I struggled to keep judgment at bay. At times, my compassion left me, and I should have followed. I was trying to change the outcome as well as the story line, neither of which was mine to do.

It was only in embracing the pain of two friends saying goodbye–living as they had always lived—that I was able to help them, which is all they had asked. In letting go, another way of living began.

We are pure awareness experiencing life in all its appearances. In breaking open, all the labels and judgments spill out, leaving only the raw, pure energy of being alive. It is then we touch what is deepest in us and extend it to another.

This month’s Bloggers for Peace considers the challenge of embracing life as it is when everything in your being resists. Harriet and Hal showed me one way.forpeace6

Other Bloggers for Peace Posts:

Chronicles of a Public Transit User

Faith Fusion

A Quiet Prayer of Thanks