Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shamanic Dream...

This painting was my “break through” piece during the recent art course that I took, and was a complete surprise.  I am not an “artist” by profession.  And this is my first ever attempt at painting.  It is not what I would consider my “style.”  It was an experiment as part of the course.  I just painted the images that emerged.  I wish I had taken pictures along the way, as it evolved from just markings on canvas to this.  The day that it became my break-through I laughed and cried at the same time, in a moment of letting go, as I danced around the canvas to music, painting hash marks, squiggles, zig-zags and circles…  Really, that’s how it started.  Sounds crazy I know, but it was very freeing.  I laughed and cried because something was *finally* happening – freely.  It was just a wild and crazy dance of paintbrush on canvas. J  As it turned out, those original markings created these images, except the big heart on the right.   And those images merged into this painting.  Sorry the photo is not the best. It’s a little distorted, and blurred at the bottom for some reason.

The original markings on the canvas were a repository for the paints I had been using on a previous canvas – not colors I would normally choose as the main colors – but there they were, forming hidden images. 

The center figure was the first image that emerged almost immediately.  I painted around it then sat with it for several days, wondering what to do with it – waiting for it to show me.  It didn’t want anything – at least for now. J

 As I looked deeper at the canvas each day, other images emerged around it: The Shaman’s profile on the top right; the all-seeing eye at the top; the bottom figures; and the cauldron and chalice up the left side.

I call it Shamanic Dream because it has the feel of a Shamanic journey/dream.  And one has to wonder, who is dreaming who?!  J

The other 4 canvases that I started during the course are at various stages of completion and all are very different.  Stay tuned! J

The art course I took was an online e-course called Bloom True
with artist Flora Bowley

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gobsmacked by Kindness and Generosity...

Within the last week I have been the recipient of unexpected kindness and generosity.  Don’t know why that surprised me, but it did.  And I am always grateful for the kind and generous comments that I receive here on a regular basis from all of you.  They are always most welcome and appreciated.  But these other acts of kindness and generosity were totally unexpected. 

I was surprised last Friday when returning home from errands by a package in the mail from a blogger friend.  It lifted my heart and brought joy.  And I realized that I have been withholding myself in that department, holding back from spontaneous acts of kindness and generosity.  Not reaching out to others in unexpected ways.  When I received the package I remembered how much fun it is to give unexpected joy – to brighten someone else’s life unexpectedly - as well as to receive it!  My heart was awakened by this most generous gift.

Then Monday we had a Chimney Sweep come to clean out our chimney and check for nests and potential problems.  He ended up doing some unexpected repairs to the chimney.  Later that day I noticed that the sagging soffit on the chimney side of the house had been repaired.  At first I couldn’t imagine who would have gone 30 feet up to screw it back in, then realized the chimney sweep was the only one here that had ladders that would go up that high.  So I called Mr. Chimney Sweep the next morning and asked if he had fixed it.  He reluctantly said – “yes.”  I gave him my most sincere appreciations. And then he said “this is going to sound crazy, but ‘the Lord’ told me to do it and not tell you.”  Now what to do with THAT!  Normally this kind of comment would have put me off.  Being a former fundamentalist Christian, I am attuned to those kinds of “spreading the gospel" tactics.   But in this case I didn’t care WHO told him to do it, I was just gobsmacked, and grateful, that he did!  So I thanked him again, and called him an angel.  And to tell you the truth, I was deeply touched by his act of generosity and kindness, no matter what his belief system. It’s all semantics anyway.  Who is ‘the Lord’ – it is many things to many people.  One could say, my Heart told me to do it.  One could say it was intuition.  Whatever it was – I am humbled and my heart was opened through his act of kindness and generosity.

The next day my Heart was still aglow from these unexpected delights. Driving down the road I broke into laughter and tears at the same time, realizing that life really is all about Love – touching the hearts of others, being a presence of Love.  Love makes itself known *through* the presence and actions of others, whether one calls it ‘the Lord” or Buddha, or Allah, or God, The Heart, or Intuition, or Friend.  All there is is the Universal Heart of Love reaching out to us, under many names and disguises, opening our hearts through acts of kindness through unsuspecting “lovers.”

It brings me to my knees and humbles me, because I realized that in all these years of searching for “the Truth”, the Sacred, the Divine, it never was about whether there’s a me, or no-me, or “enlightement” - 0r even Non-duality – but about opening the Heart, and letting love *in.*  Opening to the Reality that it’s the universal language of Love that is *felt*, not wrangling over Truth, or semantics.

Mr. Chimney Sweep is Love.  Blogger friends are Love.  We are all Love – underneath the messiness and pain of life…  When you go beyond the veils of duality, of light and darkness, right and wrong, of Truth and lie, there is only vast cosmic Love – everywhere…

Have you been gobsmacked lately? J

“We know what sparks the light inside.
It does not matter where it comes from.
What matters is that we look, and find,
and feel the deep presence.”

Ruth at Washed Stones

“We are because we are seen;
we are because we are loved.
The world is because it is beheld
and loved into being.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nature's Canvas...

I wish I could say this was my art, but no, they are Nature’s canvases, with a little help from Adobe Fireworks. J The Fall colors around here were not all that spectacular this year, and none of my photos came out all that well, so I used the “Invert” function to create these photos of nature that look like paintings!

“When your heart sees Reality
then every atom of creation
is a window…”

Llwellyn Vaughan-Lee
Sufi Mystic

“There is no distinction
between reality and unreality.
It’s all a perceived experience…

There is only Isness.
Everything just Is.
Everything is the Real.
There’s no distinction
between Real and Illusion…”

Author unknown

Photo: Tree trunk reflected in a pond…

“Oneness = Divine Nature and man’s human nature,
Spirit one with its own human nature,
God’s indivisible oneness with the
essence of mankind…”

Bernadette Roberts
Christian Contemplative

Photo: Tree fallen in a pond with its top branches
half in and half out of the water, reflecting themselves…

“All things are living,
even stones.
It has to be that way;
energy pulsates from their bodies,
since all are part
of the Omnipresent
Living Being.”

Sufi Poet

Photo: Tree and Bridge reflected in pond

“If there is light somewhere
there is darkness.
The brighter the light
the darker the darkeness,
inseparable twins…

Something holds them both equally,
light and darkness,
surrendering itself joyfully
to the play of duality…”

Non-Duality Teacher

Photo: Tree stump reflected in a pond.

“We are fingers of God’s Awareness.
We are all God’s perception.”

Ram Dass

“It’s all the Self-existent
uncreated Absolute.”

Huang Po – Zen Master

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The "Art" of Remembrance...

It’s been an interesting journey through the art e-course at Bloom True I just finished.  No art to show you yet, except this little corner of a piece. (The rest of it doesn’t look anything like this.)  It just amazes me sometimes what emerges.  This little piece was not intended to look like a flowing river, with river bank and trees.  Can you see it?  It just emerged that way.  It is just marks on canvas, and in this piece is covered by a translucent layer of green.  That’s the mystery of intuitive painting.  Some of my subsequent layers have sometimes come out looking more contrived with images painted in…  But essentially there’s no intent.

Although the course is over, I’m still not finished yet… I have 5 unfinisehd canvases…   When I first signed up for the art e-course in July I anticipated that “art” would open me up to realms of inner Beingness that would flow out onto the canvas.  Instead, I felt only anxiety staring at the canvas.  Each time I step up to the canvas, whether there’s already paint, or the emergence of images on it or not, I contract (except maybe a couple of times) – fearful to make a mistake, of where it’s going to go, of how it’s going to look.  There’s that “not knowing” again that is so anxiety provoking.  Which means - I’m still trapped in the construct of the mind, under the veil of the fabricated self that needs to *know.*  I’ve probably mentioned all this before, but I am reflecting on my experience now, as I continue to try to paint with a sense of inner ease that isn’t apparently happening – much like life… J  

And yet, ironically, the anxiety I experience is now bringing me to what is really needed – the deeper need – the deeper awareness of the mental barriers, as well as of The Mystery, and the awareness of the need to let go – in life as well as in art.  I am more aware that I’m nearly always caught up in an undercurrent of anxiety about life.  It is my auto-pilot approach.  Interesting…  Maybe this was the real need – to become aware through art…

The art course is a very intuitive process of painting.  There is no preconceived *idea* of what to paint.  That’s why I was drawn to this course.  You just start putting paint to canvas, in layers of color and markings, *allowing* the painting to emerge… Interestingly images emerge *through* the many layers… You might like to see Flora Bowley’s (art instructor’s) paintings here.  It’s a free flow of movement, color, and intuitive expression.  It’s not like intentionally painting a landscape, or a portrait, or a scene, or an object – although those things may show up.  And you can add imagery in.  It is totally whatever intuitively wants to be painted.   You can always paint over what you’ve done, or transform it.  Even knowing this the mental block is still there.

So why is this totally free way of painting so challenging?  I think it is partly the fear of the unknown, not feeling in control, the fear of letting go of knowing, my mind wanting something concrete to paint.   In the process of contracting into fear – over what “should” be a joyful creative experience – I forget to stay open and trust the process, to trust The Mystery, to trust what wants to express here – that inner Beingness - some call the Soul, some call Awareness, some call Pure Consciousness.  This veil of fear hides The Mystery from my awareness.

However, paradoxically, the angst over art-making has become a *way* of remembrance.  To open to that anxiety, to fully feel it, to face it has become a vehicle to come back to the Heart of Awareness, if I allow what emerges within me to be felt and seen – and - remember the Silence of Inner Being that is always right there – waiting.  If I open to The Mystery and let go, not being afraid of the fear, but to stand before the canvas of Life and remember who’s really painting this reality; remembering the underlying Rhythm of Life Itself that creates everything we see – then it becomes the “art” of Remembrance - realizing that fear is just an overlay of the mind.

“Every part of you has a secret language.
Your hands and feet say what you’ve done.
And every need brings what is needed…”


Friday, October 12, 2012

Whose Path Are You On...?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.
And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want…”

Steve Jobs


At this inner crossroads that I am experiencing I have been pondering “the path.”  The question that keeps coming up is “What is the true path of liberation?”  I can honestly say I don’t know!  I used to think I did… I used to think I was searching for “enlightenment”/God/Truth – and the bells and whistles of realizing my True Nature, and turning into Light…  Now I don’t know…  But this question of true liberation keeps coming up lately.  And what *is* true liberation?  I don’t know…  My gut feeling is it is liberation from the mind and its mental veils of separation that still linger even though I have been aware of my True Nature – Beingness – for a long time…  

I have been on many paths.   And I discovered that each one was only a facet of the Truth.  Some teachings say we need a continual practice and many lifetimes to be able to truly be “enlightened.”  Other paths say all we need is awareness of our True Beingness, and others give mental ascent to who we truly are, but never get to the Heart of Being – getting lost in intellectualism and a pseudo non-duality.  None providing real “liberation.”  At least that is my experience…

I’ve been at this threshold before…  See The Pathless Path and Into The Forest for more articulate versions.

Although I chose to follow certain paths for a time, I’ve had to go beyond the illusory path of religious beliefs, of ideas of “enlightenment”, conceptual “non-dualism” , and experience the Truth of Being directly, in my own way – carving out a “path” of my own.  I still am – discovering, exploring, experiencing, deepening – still a wayfarer on an ever unfolding path…  The paths I have followed have been other people’s paths who speak *about* the Truth, *about* “enlightenment” and the tendency has been to reiterate what has been heard – as the Truth - not what is necessarily True from my own experience, in my Heart of Hearts.

It seems in order for “liberation” to occur one needs to *experience* and be absorbed by an inner Presence; the inner Guru/Teacher/Self – which is not to say that we don’t need an external “teacher” or “teaching” at times.  But we each must essentially find our own way – which is why we choose the paths we do.   True spiritual pathways and teachers will always turn us back to the inner Heart of True Beingness.  A true teaching actually helps us trust the Truth of our Heart – the “spiritual” Heart – not our personal truth – as in “my truth” - but the universal Truth of our Beingness.  I’m still working on that one – trusting the Truth of the Universal Heart and not the mental concepts of what Truth is supposed to look like - according to others. :)

Here are a few quotes from various “teachers” from various traditions that speak to the essence of what I’m trying to say here…  As you can see, I am still using other people’s words, other voices…  J

“King Arthur’s Knights went on the quest for the Holy Grail -
the Truth…

Each entered the forest of adventure
 at the point they had each chosen for themselves,
where it was darkest and where there was no path…

If there is a path,
it is someone else’s path,
and you are not on the adventure.

You have to work it out
for yourself,
taking the clues from
here and there…”

Joseph Campbell

Photo: Shadow from front window

“The spiritual search is usually undertaken
as a result of the failure to secure
happiness, peace and love
in the conventional realms of experience.

Now we seek a permanent state
of enlightenment.

This search takes us to new realms of experience,
teaching us to focus on the acquisition of
states of mind…

So these newly acquired states of mind
bring the spiritual search to a temporary end -
which we call awakening or enlightenment;
and we now confuse these new states of mind
for enlightenment.

Faced with the failure of our search,
there are no more possible realms
in which to search.

For some this failure is experienced
as a time of despair.
There are no further directions
in which to turn…
There is nowhere left to seek,
and yet we cannot stop seeking.

What we truly long for
cannot be found in any state
of the body, mind or world.

A new doorway may open up -
the only one that has yet to be explored.

It is the profound exploration
of the nature of our Self -
The Nature of Being…”

Rupert Spira
Contemporary Non-Duality Teacher
Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness

“Contemplation is life itself,
fully awake,
fully active,
fully aware that
it is alive.

It is spiritual wonder.
It is spontaneous awe
at the sacredness of life,
of being.

It is gratitude for life,
for awareness,
for being.

It is a vivid realization
of the fact that life and being
in us
proceed from an invisible,
and infinitely

is above all,
awareness of the reality
of that Source.
It knows the Source,
but with a certitude
that goes beyond reason
and beyond simple faith.

It is a more profound depth,
a knowledge too deep to
be grasped
in images,
in words,
or even
in clear concepts.”

Thomas Merton
Christian Contemplative
Choosing to Love the World

“Spiritual awakening may seem like
an extraordinary occurrence -
but is a built-in human capacity
able to realize inner freedom…

Contact the sacred Presence within you,
call on this Presence.
Direct your attention inward to that…

Contacting the facets of the sacred Presence
within, you deepen your trust in your own
essential being…

Trust that you can find a way to
the true refuge of your own loving
awareness – your own Buddha Nature.”

Tara Brach
Buddhist Teacher
From her Blog

“You are the Beloved.

…though the experience of being the Beloved
has never been completely absent from my life,
I never claimed it as my core truth.

I kept running around it in large or small circles,
always looking for someone or something
able to convince me of my Belovedness.
It was as if I kept refusing to hear the voice
that speaks from the depths of my being…

That voice has always been there,
but it seems that I was much more eager
to listen to other louder voices…
Meanwhile, the soft gentle voice
that speaks in the silence and solitude
of my heart
remained unheard…"

Henri Nouwen
Catholic Theologian
From: Life of the Beloved

 Photo: Rainbow light from crystal in window
forming a symbol for a musical note

“…even the idea of the path is an illusion:
there is nowhere to go,
nothing to realize,
because everything is ‘God’ [Infinite Consciousness].

And if everything is ‘The Beloved’,
who is this “I” who has made the journey
from separation back to union?

The simple knowing that it is all One,
and that the “I” is just an illusion,
a veil of separation,
has made me question
the nature of the very human drama
that is played out
with our longing…

Is the very idea of our own journey, our story,
just a figment of our imagination…

And does it matter?

So who makes the journey?

There is a journey…
even though I know there is really no journey… 

They are just continuing footsteps…

The path is ‘not about me’ -
but a larger story -
an ocean in which my own experiences
are just a small ripple…

It’s the story of the ocean,
rather than the drop……”

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Sufi Mystic
From: Fragments of a Love Story

Note: when Vaughan-Lee speaks of ‘God”/The Beloved, etc.
it is the all-pervasive Presence of
Love that he refers to,
not a separate entity…

Photo: Light through stained glass
reflected on window sill

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crossing a Threshold...

I am about to cross a threshold into 63…  The numbers don’t bother me actually.  It’s the little things that are happening in this body and mind…  I’m actually surprised I made it this far!    Someone once told me that age is all in the mind.  But they don’t live in my body. J   That was flawed even before birth – leaving life-long malfunctioning of the mechanism.  We all have our physical issues, right…  And so at 63 I find the body more challenging to live in…  And the mind is losing its words, using wrong words, unable to articulate like I used to – finding blank spaces where words once were. Like in the previous post, I used the word obtuse instead of obscure, and furtive for fertile… I have since corrected them – and hoped you wouldn’t notice J - but still – words sometimes evade me.   Interesting experience.  Life as I’ve known it is winding down.  I’ve felt this for the last decade – this slowing down of the body mechanism.  Resisting it, or denying it, is like trying to hold back the inevitable.  And so I accept, adapt and refocus – well sometimes… J   Most days I’m just stiff, achy and fatigued – and forget who I really am – and I don’t mean my name J - but who I am at the core of Being – Being ItSelf – because I am preoccupied with the body…

63 is feeling more and more like a crossroads of some kind internally, more than any other threshold that I can remember, and even that ability is getting thin.   But it can’t be “business as usual” any longer.  I cannot spend time on what does not enrich and enliven.   And I must dive deep to find it…

There are deep internal rumblings of something wanting to emerge – to be seen, faced, acknowledged, recognized, even birthed…  There is still something here that wants to *Live* to be *enlivened* - a passion for Life - although felt less frequently.  The internal “shadows” seem deeper and longer in this waning time, as if there is still unfinished business – a deep wound that still needs healing… I know it is still the wound of separation.  Although some would tell me that’s all in my mind as well… J

 No matter what “spiritual path” or how much “spiritual practice” I do, or moments of “awakening” and “non-dual awareness” I experience, there is still a deep heartache and longing for “The Beloved” - for “Home”  -  to return to the root of what I’ve been longing for all my life, since childhood –  the Truth of Existence.  It has been my driving force.  No matter how much I read, or intellectually understand that I’m “already there”, and that there’s nothing to search for, nowhere to go, no “returning”, IT has to be realized, IT has to be *known* intimately through direct experience – apparently over and over again. J  The Self is still calling ItSelf back to ItSelf – back to full Awareness…

As long as it is there – this call - I will follow the longing of the Heart, and dive deep into the depths of Being – like the root of the Lotus…   Several years ago I had a “vision” in meditation of the long root of the Lotus going all the way down through the depths of the water to the bottom.  I didn’t understand what I was seeing then, but I see it now as a call into the depths of Being, to follow the root of Being all the way in.    This is my true threshold to cross – no matter how old… 

“Go IN & IN & IN
until you come to the pure Self - luminous,
the place of pure Being.
Return to the root…
Become aware of who is Seeing…
Go back & back to who you really are – Spirit.
The “final door” is going from form to formless -
Beyond the beyond – the eternally Quiet.

You have to go all the way back before you see
that behind all ‘this’ there is all this in its OM,
its unmanifested form -
seeing the OMness of everything…
Live consciously in all of it,
seeing the OMness of it all…”

Ram Dass