Colors of the Day: the Beauty of Being

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blog Fest V (#BOAW16) launches today. Both men and women bloggers offer unique perspectives on beauty.

To me, the fest is a celebration of the beauty of being, like walking through the doorway of equanimity to explore compassion, joy, and loving-kindness, the colors of our days.

Each day is a blank canvas, a textured, vibrant explosion of experience, beauty blurring and blending one expression into another. No facet of beauty is denied for that is not the nature of transformation.

Beauty does not reside in a single appearance. It does not live on a pedestal. No one sentient life is worthier than another. The faces of beauty reveal “destiny or fate or meaning, heroes of remarkable stories” (Rebecca Solnit).

Every sentient life is remarkable for it is the only version of that story that will ever be told.

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Beauty is not found in a single expression but in every experience of existence in this dimension of sensation. Day after day, the multi-verse expresses itself anew.

It is the nature of beauty to renew rather than repeat or redo. No experience of beauty leaves us unchanged nor does it stay.

There are moments we would hold forever; others, we would avoid if we could. Try as we may, we are not allowed either of these choices.

The beauty of being transcends any framing of or confining to one day, one experience, or one moment. Nor does it exclude. Being is the blend and blur of the events of a lifetime.

We exist in a dimension of sensation, the beauty of being always on the horizon for as long as there are days to experience. In the dawn, we greet the colors of our day:

I am grateful for this day,

 for every moment I experience

as a human being.

May I meet each moment

with equanimity, joy,

loving-kindness, and compassion

for all

in all ways, in all things.

I hope you visit Beauty of a Woman Fest V. It may change your life. ❤

Upon Closer Reflection, Comfort in Chaos

Last week, I wrote of finding balance and the ongoing shifting of left and right until balance arrives of its own accord. Osho refers to this as a “graceful” shifting, which for me it has never been.

Rather, it has been a struggle, one worth taking on but very like sitting in a cave of chaos. I have not found grace there—not yet—but I discovered comfort, thanks to reader comments on last week’s post.

Comfort comes from accepting that balance is in constant motion. It is impermanent. When I start to squirm, I know I have shifted too far one way. It is time to let go and begin to swing back.

Balance is not identifying with left or right because in balance, I am both. Standing in the middle of a moment is mindful, and I have all the time I need.

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I experience moments I wish would stay forever. There are others I am convinced will never leave but being alive is being in motion as no moment ever stays. Life touches us—painfully, indescribably, unbelievably–myriad experiences ever in motion.

It’s chaotic. And it seems I have found comfort in that.

The reason everything looks beautiful is
because it is out of balance,
but its background is always in perfect harmony.

This is how everything exists
in the realm of Buddha nature, losing its balance
against a background of perfect balance.

~Shunryu Suzuki~

In looking at past posts, variations of the Suzuki quote appear in one form or another at least annually, sometimes more. Yet, this year is different. Why? I have a physical sense of balance.

Regular readers know I recently explored northern Florida with a dear friend. We covered over 500 miles in four days, which for a person with lupus is too much sustained activity. I am grateful for every moment, and yes, I was exhausted.

I am used to the routine of resting that usually follows such an outing. I  break from life, including blogging and writing. I shift from full days of activity to days of complete inactivity. Always, that has been the way.

Not. This. Time.

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I do not remember consciously thinking of Suzuki’s “perfect balance of existence” but it seems my subconscious decided to trust it. I shifted my resources, not gracefully but gradually, with a certain awareness of the ever-changing balance in each moment.

Oh, there were moments of despair but they were brief, not worthy of support. I could not rouse myself to give in, give up, and wait. There was no life in that.

Rather, I immersed myself in each day, looking to the balance available to me. I communicated with my pain—sensing its signals—without struggling but with shifting.

When I went to my acupuncture appointment, my meridians overflowed with energy. An acupuncture point full of Qi (energy) signals stagnation; the needle is the stimulation to release it.

Point after point, Dr. Gold’s needles provided relief. I did not want that treatment to end–the release was that deep and that immediate. When I arrived, my overall pain level was a solid 8, my knees a 10. The treatment reduced my overall pain to a 3; in some locations, the pain was gone.

Resting came easier as did my sleep. My level of body energy, no longer trapped, shifted to the daily balance available. The body is graceful when allowed to do its work in its own way.

Acupuncture opened me to trusting the chaotic nature of balance. It is not the nature of balance or mine to stagnate. Ours is to be in the constant chaos.

My readers’ comments opened me to just how exceptional that is. Thank you, dear readers.

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The Beauty of Being is the Truth of a Woman

This week, I am participating in August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blog Fest (IV). It is an honor to support boaw-logo-2015-originalAugust in her tireless work to help women recognize how remarkably beautiful they are—just as they are.

The beauty of a woman is in her having the freedom to be who she is, free to evolve as the unique human she was born to be.

The unfolding of the beauty of a woman knows no barriers for it is within her body to give life, should she choose. In this, she is one with the earth.

Yet, the world of a woman is not equal in opportunity or access. That we still cannot find equanimity in the most basic difference between human beings—gender—speaks volumes about where we are and how far we have to go.

If we cannot equally support men and women in their pursuit of living their truth–and what else is beauty–how we can possibly eliminate the other labels that diminish each one of us?

We are one, each of us a unique thread, our own blend of beauty that is our moment in the tapestry of existence. That the beauty of a woman unfolds with all other human beings is the only opportunity she ever needs.

Perhaps beauty is the key to the door of equality that we cannot seem to unlock. Far too often beauty has been seen as a barrier rather than as an avenue to equanimity.

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

~Emily Dickinson~

We are one in our humanness more than we are separate. Unique, yes, but we are not diminished by each other. Rather, we are truly increased. Our truth is our beauty—our path.

As of yet, we are not comfortable in our beauty so we cannot lie down with our truth. We are not yet on the path of equanimity but that we have not given up is to our credit.

To realize the full potential of humanity is to see the beauty in every woman as her truth, her unique contribution to the worldwide web of human beings.  There is no one path for everyone but for everyone there is a path.

Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj ~

In the ecstasy of life lies equanimity.

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(The Blog Fest runs  through March 1, 2015. You can read other blog fest posts here. )

Perhaps a Glimpse of Buddha Nature

Every once in a while I think I catch a glimpse of Buddha nature. Actually, it is more of a feeling than an actual sighting. In other words, any “aha-moment” vanishes the moment the recognition is mine. I suspect that is how it always is with Buddha nature.

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Even the term, Buddha nature, is known by many other names. For me, it is the eternal aspect of existence–energy vibrating in infinite dimensions and form as matter and anti-matter—creating a background of immutable harmony so that we are able to live our lives with choice.

The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony.

This is how everything exists in the realm of Buddha nature, losing its balance against a background of perfect balance.

~Shunryu Suzuki~

Suzuki’s description is a familiar one on this blog, as I have cited it many times. For me, it is the essence of the feeling I get whenever I sense Buddha nature. No matter the definition or description, the idea of a balanced background against the days of our lives means we always have options.

For me, Buddha nature is what I am and have been from my inception, the blank canvas that was me at birth. If I look closely at this painting that is my life, its background is in perfect balance, allowing me to lose and regain myself moment after moment.

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Dates and years frame the triptych of my past, present, and future. I am the artist’s brush, swirling with the color of every choice, stroke after stroke on the canvas that is my moment in Buddha nature. Its balanced background—the context of my life—absorbs the outcome of each moment that is my life.

Buddha nature does not allow me to slide through my life unaware or it does. The choice is mine. In any given moment it is up to me how aware I am of my own brush stroke. In mindful moments is when I glimpse Buddha nature.

The moment is hazy at first, floating in and out like any other, yet its rhythm is different, like an undercurrent that absorbs rather than pulls. Maybe this is what synchronicity is; regardless, I am immersed in it. In such a moment, the ending is as uncertain as is the beginning but I am bothered by neither.

Rather, it is like a story that begins with “once upon a time” and ends with ever after and forever. I am confident there is a bridge between the beginning and the end and indifferent to the outcome. Buddha nature has the essence of a rainbow, a bridge to and from and back again.

Only life is in flux, neither ending nor beginning but always being, not a snapping of photographs or a study in stillness but a series of scene changes as the stroke of the artist aligns with change against the constancy of Buddha nature. The painting that is my life is only one scene in the tapestry of existence yet mine mirrors all others in that it is lived.

As I say, every once in a while I think I get a glimpse.

When Spring Occurs Inside and Out

Waverly Bush 0314Every moment is the best time to begin. Beginnings are never out of season no matter what the weather is in your heart or outside your door.  Every once in a while, spring is the season inside and out.

No matter the season, we welcome its beginning for in opening ourselves to any season, we stand at its threshold new, and the possibilities are infinite.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in

summer, snow in winter.  If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,

this is the best season of your life.

Wu-men (as quoted on Zen Flash)

In each moment of every season, we thrill to the unfolding of what we do not yet know. All together, these are the years of our lives, each with its own spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Sometimes the spring of a year, both within and without, is sporadic in its blossoming but nonetheless, in spring all comes alive again, anticipating the produce of summer, the harvest of fall, and the sleep of winter.

Of course, each season has its days of clouds but on the clear days of spring, eternity seems within our reach for the bursting forth of life is the promise of forever.

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature 

is constituted to be that profound secret

and mystery to every other. 

Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)

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In any beginning of any season is the promise of life’s renewal for every sentient being. There is birdsong, the greening of grass blades; there is the flight of the insect, dazzled in its moment of life.

It is in a moment’s beginning that all seasons start. Beginnings are for poets and painters capturing forever a moment in a blossom’s life, the uncovering of what was once winter stilled. A season begins the life cycle.

In the moment that is spring the world awakens because we, too, awaken, stretching for the infinite possibilities inherent in every beginning. There is spring in such a moment, and we wrap our arms around life.

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All winter long, underground roots have embraced one another in frost or warmth, sharing nutrients through the stillness in anticipation of the moment of movement that is a thaw or a breaking of the surface. Life begins again, unpredictable but renewed.

Where I live, it is the season of beginning all around me as well as inside me.  I am reminded that I am in constant relationship with life no matter where I am, inside or out. It is the season of my life, rich in bursting forth, magnificent in blossom, resplendent in fall foliage, and sated in winter.

In every beginning of every moment I stretch my arms to the sky in appreciation that I see the sky, whether or not there is weather in it. I am in a moment’s beginning and all that it may be.

It may be the moment that I look into the face of an iris and discover a shade of purple not ever known to me for the light in this moment is new, unlike it has ever been. Together, the iris and I, wild in our ways and settled in others, share in the sentience of being.

Always, we are in relationship with life whether it is an insect, a blade of grass, or a plant in a pot on a bedroom windowsill. We engage constantly in the cycle that is life and from time to time, we burst forth as an iris bloom or as a human, both grateful for another spring inside and out.

Facing the Past Tense

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die. (Mary Frye)

Fifty years of friendship feels like only a moment yet it has been a lifetime.  It cannot be over. Not yet. I want Laziness 010514the conversation to continue but mostly, I want the past tense to be the present.

In death, the past tense looms. My mostly Buddhist self believes the past tense is a series of images always available for viewing but never again for experiencing.

I am not used to the past tense. I am not ready to live with my friend as mere memory.

If I think of my friend as dead, there is a hole in the sky that is my heart. I want to tell her how that feels, how that hole is now my world. The telephone that connected us as we aged from teenagers to sexagenarians is no longer in service. It is past tense.

In the last couple years, this blog provided yet another connection for us.  Sometimes, my posts sparked conversations, and other times, our conversations created posts. On this blog, my friend is eternally present.

Discussion was our way for five decades, not a daily occurrence or even monthly, but whenever there was a hole in the sky for either one of us we seemed to sense it. There would be a phone call or an email when least expected and most needed.

My friend was not one who labeled but one who listened. Her innate compassion and loving-kindness opened her to the world wherever she was. And the world responded to her light.

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Along the wend and way of our lives, we each explored Buddhism and over the decades offered our experiences to one another. In these last three years when illness once again marked my life and then for the first time hers, we found ourselves less concerned with outcome and more with exploring the energy of raw emotion.

We were less interested in questions so we had little use for any answer that might appear for we recognized all outcome as temporary. It kept us curious, this being in the moment. We explored eternity as a web without a weaver, its vibrations animating humans, blades of grass–lifetime after lifetime–perfect in its impermanence, forever coming and going.

She is gone in a way I knew and exists in a way I am yet to know.  She is in every breeze, blossom, and glint of light in a night sky. She is. The past tense is no more.

My thanks to Diana J. Hale for her recent post, In Memoriam, as it led me to Mary Frye’s poem, which I could not seem to locate.  Also, thanks to all of you who have sent personal messages. I will respond to each one.

With the Dawn, the Every Day Miracle Begins

Settling into the miracle of life may be all that we ever require. The miracle of the every day is the field of infinite possibilities available at every dawn. Distinguishing what is from what is not is a lifelong dilemma, a constant in humanity.

“Every particle of creation sings its own song of what is and what is not. Hearing what is can make you wise; hearing what is not can drive you mad” (Sufi poet Ghalib).

We are prone to making sure that events turn out as expected, keeping wonder in absentia. We are more comfortable when we confine the outcome to known boundaries. Trusting the miracle that we are requires a shift in perspective.
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“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle” (Albert Einstein).

Viewing life through that lens, merely appreciating that we are alive seems more than sufficient. Yet, there is the matter of day-to-day relationships and situations.

The Vedic sutra Sankalpa–Sanskrit for purpose or intention—can be a way to frame our choices and decisions. “Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. I let go of all grievances and choose miracles” (Deepak Chopra, SynchroDestiny, DVD version).

Sankalpa opens up the field of infinite possibilities by encouraging us to choose courage over fear. When we accept our fear, all that is left is courage.

It means loving ourselves for who we are, not for whom we want to be or for the person we have been but who we are in the dawn of each day. In loving ourselves just as we are, we connect to the miracle of being alive.

“… Loving [ourselves] requires a courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world—our own self-worth” (Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening).

When we settle into the miracle of all that we are, we open ourselves to the world. There is no guarantee the world will open to us in return yet to live the miracle of the every day is to rely on the constancy of our own self-worth, confident in our ability to absorb the day no matter how it is presented to us, whether as pain or pleasure.

Every moment of our lives is like an opening night performance for our roles are constantly evolving through plot twists and scene changes. All the acts of our lives play from beginning to end, sometimes to applause and other times to catcalls. Such is the stage of life.

“And all moments of living, no matter how difficult, come back into some central point where self and world are one, where light pours in and out at once.…a fine moment to live” as is the next. (Mark Nepo).