4801 Spring Valley, Suite 115
Dallas, Texas 75244
“How do I know if it’s my intuition or my ego talking?” This is one of the most common questions as we continue deepening in spiritual living. We’re told to listen, but we want ot know to what? And we’re reminded the Spirit speaks in a still, small voice, but we don’t know if we’ve ever heard it. Finally we admonished to follow our intuition, but we don’t always listen, and then we kick ourselves later.
Intuition is a powerful, yet easily illusive part of psycho/spiritual make-up. Intuition has been defined by philosophers as another way of knowing, without using facts or sensory data to know something. It has been defined in psychology as a gut instinct or simply a hunch. In spirituality it is often referred to as the way God, or Spirit, makes itself known to us.
Learning to listen to our intuition is something each of us has to learn on our own because there’s no one way that intuition shows up. For some it really is a voice that tells them “stop, don’t go that way!” For others it’s more of a quiet inner feeling, or a sense they should or shouldn’t do something. For some people their intuition comes as phrases from a song, or the line that jumps off the page when they are reading a book.
Each of us has to learn how our intuition speaks to us. Often we learn to recognize it in those moments when we say “I knew it, why didn’t I follow up on that?” Each time that happens, take a moment to become aware of how you “knew it”. What was the signal, feeling, sense, thought or words that came to you. Now start paying attention the next time that happens. You may be uncovering your intuition.
We will be exploring this all month at CSLDallas, by looking at our intuition and how it shows up, along with celebrating Mothers and Memorial Day. Along with our “Joyous Living Journal” this month’s companion book is by Penny Pierce called “The Intuitive way”. Join us as we go deeper into the wilds of our inner knowing, beyond fact, to that place where love and trust reside!
White limbs dance across a blustery blue
while solemn darkness sails majestically
crowding across the bright eye,
and the warmth vanishes.
The wind sings through the pines
in uproarious, glorious song
the flame calls me home
as cool whiteness falls
from a perfect bright sky.
Life is full of surprises!
The light plays peek a boo, kissing my cheek
I feel the rhythm of the strides,
my body, incarnated aliveness.
I'm grounded to the earth
while my gratitude soars in flight
and life is a prayer
an ecstatic communion.
in that moment all is still
All in stillness
Suspended between the four and the two
between the ONE and the many
Inspired by spring hike in CO mountain
IN SPITE OF MANY NEGATIVE EVENTS IN THE WORLD, THERE IS A BASIS FOR OPTIMISM. HERE ARE SOME REASONS: Compiled by Nancy Anderson
The number of people who died as a result of war. civil war and terrorism is down 50% this decade from the 1990s. It is down 75% from the preceding five decades. The richest countries in the world are not in geopolitical competition with one another, fighting wars or proxy wars, or even engaged in arms races.
The political stability we now have has allowed for a single global economic system, in which countries around the world are participating and flourishing. Even in this period of slow growth, the global economy as whole will grow 20 to 20 percent faster this decade than it did a decade ago, over 40 percent faster than it did two decades ago, and more than four times as fast as it did three decades ago.
The result: The United Nations estimates that poverty has been reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500 years.. Much of this taking place in the last 20 years.
Life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically We gain 5 hours of life expectancy every day!
A third of all babies born in the developed world will live to be 100.
Technology is astounding. Our cell phones have more computing power than the Apollo space capsule.
Moore's Law (that computing power doubles every two years while costs drop) is not as true for computers today but is accelerating in other fields, including genetics.
For America, and most other places, peace and broader prosperity means more opportunities. The USA has the largest and most dynamic economy in the world, that dominates the age of technology, hosts hundreds of the world's greatest companies, houses its largest and deepest capital markets and almost all the world's great universities.
The United States is demographically vibrant, adding nearly 3 million people every year. This is a powerful life force and many are immigrants coming here with aspirations, hunger, drive, determination and a fierce love for America.
Yes, we have daunting challenges. However over the past 100 years we have overcome a depression, two world wars, the Cold War, 9/11 and a global economic crisis. We have done so by our response that allowed us to look for and find optimism and answers to do what was essential.
Taken from a Reader's Digest article by Fareed Zakaris, Editor at Large of TIME, Host of CNN's “Fareed Zakaris GPS”
It seems to me that any conversation about Diversity is always about celebrating the uniqueness that each and every person shows up as, since each person, each being, actually each creation, is an individualized expression of the ONE. It has been such a wonderful contemplation for me over the years to deeply engage with the question “what is unity in essence and multiplicity in form, really?” This contemplation has so deeply enriched my treatments, my meditations, as well as my appreciation and enjoyment of this space/time continuum called the manifest Body of God.
In celebrating each individual’s uniqueness it seems to me that we are doing the same thing as when we honor each spiritual path. We see the golden thread of unity between them all, and see the unique and precious contribution each one makes to the sum total of the evolution of human spirituality and consciousness. Just so there is a golden thread of unity between us regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability/disability, and group/family/individual identity and, just as importantly, each makes a unique and precious contribution to the tapestry of Life Itself. Every strand of the tapestry is necessary and needed for the whole image of beauty and perfection to be expressed and the warmth, texture, and purpose of the tapestry to be fully experienced.
Thinking about Diversity invites us into this deeper contemplation and realization and celebration.
How do you feel approaching the end of the year? Are you relieved it’s over, happy to have been alive this year, or looking forward to where you are going? I particularly love this week between Christmas and New Years. It gives us a moment to pause and contemplate where we are in the course of our lives. Reflecting on the state of our dreams, our health, our relationships and finances is a way to see how far we’ve come or to asses how far we still want to go.
Don’t be afraid to take a clear-eyed look at where you are. It’s like getting out your GPS, you decide where you want to go vacation in the mountains and then by plugging in your starting point, your GPS can pick out the best route to get there. Locating yourself on the map of your life, and discovering it’s not where you want to be, is the first part in setting a new direction. Discovering where you are helps your GPS” recalibrate” if you’ve gotten off course, got stuck in a detour, or unexpectedly rerouted by a change in job or an illness, for instance. A change of course is called for so your GPS will find you a new way from here to there.
You may actually be pleasantly surprised to discover that you are further along on the journey than you thought, so you have time for a nice rest break or a side trip!
Strolling through the new park in downtown Dallas, I am struck by it's invitation. Bridging the noisy highway, connecting the arts district with the McKinney area, art and nature prevail in what has been an otherwise dauntingly unattractive environment. I am reminded that as human beings we simply can not live on money and entertainment alone. It's not enough to just go to work and strive for more success then come home and fall on the couch and veg out. Our spirit needs open spaces where we can feel the wind and where our eyes are not confined to straight lines and hard corners. Our souls need the whimsy of color and the surprise of texture and form to break us out of our habitual way of seeing, which becomes a habitual way of being..
How sad that so much funding for the arts in our schools and cities is under duress. How frustrating that our wild lands and national parks are being turned into building permits and concessions for private gain. How have we forgotten to nourish our souls? The new Trinity River corridor is another major opportunity for Dallas to create a humane and livable environment for the local species "urbanus humanus" to thrive. Even city dwellers need beauty and pockets of wild places that soothe the ragged edges of too many people living in protective anonymity. Walking through the reading and games area, a young man spoke to me about the park. Walking by the dog park the workers smiled at me without leering whistles, but in genuine friendliness. Walking by the walk through fountains, a little one gurgled at me as she toddled by. Seated here in the sun, it's peaceful, even with the hum of traffic in the background.
What price, this pocket of tranquility? What cost, this moment of connection? What bottom line, beyond profit and personal gain, could be served by art in the park? Check it out for yourself, and see. Then let's do everything we can to help fund art and nature in as many forms as possible. In this way we not only help nourish the soul of individuals, but also the soul of the city, and of our communities, and of our world
Walking around the lakes in the park by my house, despite the balmy 70 degrees, it is unmistakably fall. The warm breeze caresses my cheek with sun-drenched kisses, but the grass is brown and dry. Those trees that last week were brightly golden or blazing red, are now muted into soft browns and exposed bare limbs. A few splashes of color here and there linger on, but not much. As the sun sinks, embracing the walkers and joggers in its soft evening glow, the wind freshens. In the wood left wild along the river, its fingers tug at every leaf as it murmurs through the trees. It is searching out those that are ready, looking for the next to fall
I feel that same breath pressed ardently against my whole body as I walk briskly on the trail. Life seems to be asking me what I'm ready to release as it whispers all around me. I wonder what I'm still holding onto that is ready to fall away. I realize that while my soul is evergreen, my life, with all it's forms and circumstances, is more like a deciduous tree. What things am I clinging to that are ready to fall away? What notions about how life should be, stories I still carry around about myself, ways that I resist or hold back am I being invited to let fall? What preconceptions false perceptions, or inauthentic attitudes have dried up and are ready to be blown away
I feel this insistence of the breeze as Life loving me into my greater yet to be. Nature is an ardent lover, gentle, like today, yet powerful and passionate as well. Life is not fooled by my clinging to the clothes of "normal" or "safe" nor by my feeble attempts to keep my light under the blanket, afraid to share its naked beauty. If I can not release what I no longer need, the winter storms will come fiercely, to not only tear away the lingering leaves, but to rip off limbs and even uproot trees in its promise to blow everything away that is no longer strong, no longer serves, or is no longer enlivening my life and letting my light shine
Join me, during this turning of the season, in allowing Life to love you so ardently and so completely that you release fear and sink into Its embrace. Here, then, in this quiet place, winter steals in, a fallow time from which the newness springs.
Scientists are beginning to understand that the primary building block of the Universe is in fact Light, which is actually energy in visible form. This energy is vibrating at different rates depending of the different states in which we see it, or experience it. The slower it vibrates the denser it becomes, and conversely, the the faster it vibrates, the lighter it becomes.
We are also made up of energy, not only physically, but also as the emotional/mental state of our being, which is our energetic field. This field, or the energetic body if you will, is exactly the same as the rest of the Universe. It is vibrating at the rate which represents the state of consciousness we are experiencing. When we are triggered, or bogged down in resentment, unforgiveness, our sense of not-enough or feeling isolated, these negative states cause our energetic field to become dense and heavy, which means our vibrational rate is dropping. And we all know how painful these feelings can be, and how hard it is to drag ourselves around when we feel this sluggish and slow.
The SINGLE, easiest, best way to raise your vibrational rate - no matter where you start or how you are feeling? The Attitude of Gratitude! Gratitude opens you heart and lightens your mind, which immediately begins to change the frequency of your energy field. To start out with, you don't even have to find something to be grateful for in the situation that is creating density in the field. Start with other things to be grateful for. Notice, as you do so, how immediately everything starts to lighten up. Once you've felt this lightening, over a few minutes, hours or even days, then you can turn your heart/mind to what has been dragging you down.
As you create a higher vibration within yourself, you become a magnet for things and people that are vibrating at the higher rate. And you become a broadcasting system for that higher frequency into the very energy field of Consciousness Itself. Want to change the world and do good for the planet? Start by raising your own vibrational rate. Start by being grateful. This is called "Enlightenment"!
Sometimes I have the feeling that life would be easier if it weren't for all the people. Don't people just drive you crazy? They whine and complain, they argue and don't do what you think they should. Why, they even, sometimes, think they know better what you should do than you do yourself. It's enough to make someone want to go live on a mountain as a hermit. Well, that's true for at least some of us who tend to be a bit more introverted than most.
But really, who are we kidding? Without people, we'd never explode with the joy of being so happy for someone else's good fortune that we feel as proud of them as if they were our only child. We'd never be broken open by the pain of longing or missing or caring when someone we love is out of reach. We'd never be lifted by the embrace of those who really see us and know the truth about us, despite our own burdens and masks and hypocrisies. We'd never know that comfortable, grounding feeling of belonging that comes from knowing your are part of a family, a tribe, or a community.
Sometimes life's journey is joyous and sometimes it's challenging. How good it is to have companions to walk the path with. Some help us through the rough spots because they've already been that way before. Some goad us into being strong because they need our support and helping hand. Some keep the road from getting too boring be making us laugh until we cry. Some remind us of the precious beauty in each moment. And some simply keep us company along the way.
I am so grateful for the people on my journey who have walked the path with me, whether for a day, a year, or half a lifetime. Each one has made me richer, stronger, smoother around the edges, and brought joy and connection into my life Think about the people you have walked your road with. Who are you grateful for?
The election rhetoric and craziness is over. What happened? After $6 billion dollars or so, hugely negative and nasty ads, people making promises and telling lies, according to the numbers, our country is as divided and potentially polarized as ever, yet the President and Congress remain essentially as they were yesterday. So it appears that nothing has changed. And yet, much has happened – not the least of which is that people engaged and they voted!
As I reflect on this election – a couple of things stand out to me very clearly. The first of which is nothing less than my gratitude for that fact that we have a right to cast our vote and participate in electing our leaders. There are countries all around the world where this is not possible. In addition, there are countries where voting takes place, but women are excluded. Thank you to all our foremothers and fathers, who helped everyone remember that men and women; rich and poor; gay or straight; disabled or abled; black, white, red, yellow or brown; are all part of one human family, and all have a part of building this nation.
I am reminded of all those who have fought, marched, suffered, and even died for our right to be and act like citizens of this country. I think it is so important that we remember that politics, elections and our governing systems and issues are not something we should simply be consuming through TV news, on-line blogs or FaceBook. Being a citizen means being clearly informed, critically questioning and actively engaged in making our country a better place for every person to pursue their inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Secondly, I reflect, on this day after an election that shows, once again, how deeply divided we have become, that the last time our country was this divided; we went to war with ourselves. Brother took up arms against brother and neighbor against neighbor. Families were torn apart as members fought on opposite sides. In the end, more of our own people were killed in what was the deadliest war America has ever been in. Thank God our current division is taken out in the polls, in our elections, and in our rhetoric, not our guns. I am so grateful, that as citizens, we can argue, fight, demand, march, petition, compromise, find solutions, and grow together. I trust that we remember how to engage in this conversation in the spirit of civil discourse. Using “civil” here to mean regarding our society but also using “civil” here to mean with decorum and respect for one another.
United we are so much more than those things that divide us. Let us unite in seeking and finding the third way which is larger than all our differences, and moves us forward in a positive direction. United let us we stand, bringing peace, harmony and power, not only to our own nation, but to the whole world. Then maybe the whole world can learn how to stand together.
"They say you only live once. Actually you live everyday, you only die once...."
I loved this thought I saw on Facebook the other day. The reminder that life is precious is so poignant right at this moment, facing the loss of a dearly beloved member of our spiritual community, Cynthia Rexroat. Who knows when each of our time has come, whether we believe we are called onward or whether we believe we choose when it's our time to go. Every day is a day to live and laugh, to love and bring beauty and joy into life. Cynthia certainly did that with vigor, a salty way of speaking, and a whacky sense of humor. Life was never dull around this pixie, impish, sprite of a being whose intelligence, compassion, and spiritual wisdom was a rock in my life for many years..
Yet I'm not sure that I believe in the notion that this is the only chance we get, either. Whether we reincarnate, or just go on to other levels and planes of existence, it's impossible for me to believe that if we are made in the image and likeness of an eternal, deathless, changeless ONE, that this meager 100 or so years is all we get. Surely an eternality of reward or punishment for a few years of learning and growing is not actually believable in the face of the immense love and impulse for growth that is the heartbeat of the Universe. Faced with the mystery of life and death, my spiritual experience and intuition tells me different.
If it's true that we as human beings are a way the Universe is consciously experiencing and expressing itself; and if it's true that we partake of the same co-creative nature as Reality; and if it's true that the life we live is the life of the ONE made manifest in individuality; and if it's true that the ONE is infinite and therefore needs an infinite number of ways to be Itself; then I believe that as a conscious inlet/outlet for the Mystery of Life to be revealed that our life is also immortal, deathless, changeless, and eternal already, right now.
Hmm, maybe that's a bit to intellectual....I sense and know and believe the our lives are the Mystery revealed. You and I are one with the ONE. If it's all ONE, where can death take us but simply into another aspect of the ONE? Just as we are greeted here when we arrived through the doorway we call birth, so we will be greeted there, when we exit through the doorway we call death. I know Cynthia is, has been, and always will be one with the ONE, rocked in the loving embrace of Life, cradled in the Mystery. I know she is being greeted by loved ones, with open arms, as she dances free into her next great adventure. And I know that when my turn comes, she'll be there to meet me
5 days in the presence of 250 people who are determined to be part of making the world a better place has truly been inspiring and personally clarifying. We explored the intersection between spirituality and the crisis facing the world from 4 different angles -
Reconciling with the Other, Transforming Society, Embracing the Earth, and Rediscovering the Sacred. We had two days of sharing with people who self-selected into these 4 areas of interest, and then we had a day of conversation where each group was mixed with folks from each area.
I would not say that anything radically new emerged, although lots of amazing programs and the work people are dong in the world was shared. What did emerge, that was so extra-ordinary, was how each of these 4 areas are inextricably linked with the others, and that out of each area of concern, the same ideas, values, and areas to focus on emerged
Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement begins with our own deep spiritual connection to our own faith - the values, strength, commitment, and connection it brings us. We must re-discover the sacred within ourselves, each other, and in all of our work including business, politics, economics, educations, and finally in the world/earth we live in.
This then allows us to respect and honor "the other" including anyone and every living being and the planet, which, of course, radically alters our relationship to that other. We must stop making "them" out there, we are all one human family living on one planet in one great Cosmos.
This respect and honoring must begin and will not fully blossom until we have true gender equality, both within our own nature, between men and women, and in all our societies, cultures, faiths, business, political, education, and family systems.
This primary balancing of yin/yang heralds the balancing of all seeming opposites, taking out the "and" between them, and seeing the complimentarity which makes the whole: spirit/matter, inside/outside, male/female, sacred/secular, work/family, business/faith, economics/care, profit/sustainability, us/them, human/divine, God/me, etc, etc.
This respect and honoring is evidenced by living shared values such as nonviolence, compassion, humility, accountability, inner strength, connection with something greater, and engagement in the world based on listening and responsiveness. This means there are no easy answers nor does one size fit all.
This completely alters our view about transforming society and helping change the world. It's not about having the solutions or cookie cutter templates or even helping the disadvantaged. Rather its about facilitating the process of what is needed and wanted in any given particular situation, guided by the shared values, informed by respectful listening and conversation. A transformed society will only come about when we work at all levels: personally within as we deepen our spirituality; individually in our daily acts of conscious participation in our lives, our work and world, and on our planet; collectively when we have integrity, accountability and congruence with our shared values in how we operate in our families, in business, politics, education, and in the world at large; and globally when we stand for these values, expect them to be lived, and continually compassionately confront any place where they are missing
Particular emphasis was placed on the following no matter which area people where concerned with: spiritual deepening and living shared values; integrity, mutual respect, and spiritual consciousness must be reinvigorated in our education, business, and political models and ways of operating; That arts, beauty, and nature all contribute an opening to a new way; That the feminine must be as present as the masculine; that everything must take into consideration care for our planet; and that all people matter and must be listened to, respected, and included, especially our youth and our elders.
A tall order, but it's already being lived by so many people in so many places. Most work is being done outside of the normal channels and hierarchical structures. This seems to work better than trying to change things from within. Eventually those old structures either follow in line or simply collapse.
A Charter for Spiritually Motivated Social Engagement was worked on at the end of the conference, and when it is completed, I'll pass that along as well.
The thesis for the Awakened World 2012 Conference is That there is a cultural Revolution going on. We can understand and engage consciously in this evolution. The understanding is based on the notion that we are in the Second Axial Age in the development and furthering of human evolution. The first Axial Age was the 1000 - 0 BCE. This notion, developed by a person whose name I didn't catch in the introduction, speaks about this shift in human consciousness and evolution that occurred during this hugely significant period of time. Especially if we focus on 600-500 BCE. During this time we have the rise of western civilization, the rise of monotheism, the advent of the jewish prophets, the Buddha, Lao-Tzu and Confucius, the advent of Western philosophy, and so many other key moments that I couldn't write down fast enough. A man named Ewert Cousins pustulates that in the 21st Century we are entering into the next Axial Age, the next shift in human consciousness and human evolution
The Awakened World Conference notices that the first Axial Age evidences that spirituality and faith had an enormous impact on an Axial Shift. The question of "How can we actively understand and participate in this second shift?" must be engaged with and answered from a spiritual and faith perspective, not just from our information, business, political, and technological perspectives. Every presenter, every facilitator and most of the conference attendees are already engaged in some sort of work that contributes or participates in forward thinking about the current human condition and our collective evolution. We all come from a different backgrounds, countries, faiths, and disciplines. The emerging kaleidoscope of perspective, information, and programs is an extraordinary opportunity to see where possibility intersects and ideas and programs reinforce each other.
The Conference had been divided into 4 Domains of engagement - Reconciling with the Other, Transforming Society, Embracing the Earth Family, and Rediscovering the Sacred. Each Domain will explore 4 stages, led by different key leaders - Signs of Change, Systemic Shifts happening, Engagement already going on and possible; and Embodiment (how we take it up and out into the world). Michael Beckwith and I have the privilege of facilitating one of the groups on Transforming Society with our key leaders - Jack Canfield, author, trainer and motivational speaker; Sr Joan Chittister, Co-Chair of the Global Peace Initiate of Women; Dr. Charika Marasinghe, Human Rights and Child Rights Consultant and activist; and Dr A.T. Ariyaratne, Founder, Sarvadaya Movement Sri Lanka. The 25 folks in our group come from all over the world and are also doing amazing work in many different ways.
Today we start with the small group conversations. They should be rich and fruitful.
As I get ready to go to Rome and start working at the AGNT Conference, I have been focusing on assimilating into my heart/mind/being this amazing and magical time I've had these past weeks. .
I sat by an alfalfa field the other day, where I watched the farmer start to plow the fully grown crop under, so the soil would be replenished and ready for next year's planting. I feel as though this week I have been plowing under all the experiences, beauty, love, joy, and nourishment I've received during this time of sabbatical that I, too, will be ready for the next crop of renewed expression in my life and work.
I have learned much about myself. I have been reminded of things I'd forgotten. My heart has been flayed open by beauty, and pierced by shafts of presence and joy so intense that I feel as though Life and I have been having an ongoing feast of Love and mutual admiration. Nature has been my muse, art my inspiration, and people my opening to possibility. Every day I have been awake and mindful to the ways the Beloved has crept or catapulted into my awareness. Intuition has been my ever-present guide and Gratitude my constant companion. I have danced in the presence of beauty and gotten drunk on the laughter of sheer joy. I have felt like I belonged every place I've walked and every where I've laid my head. I have spread my arms and self wide to embrace the fullness of each and every experience. I am refreshed in the very marrow of my bones and renewed in the depths of my soul. My heart overflows.
I am grateful to have inspiration for my own book, including a title and an outline. I have an idea about how to begin and where I want it to go. I am pleased to have re-discovered the space that allows me to write and create.
I am so grateful for the amazing all leaders and the whole CSLDallas community that have made this time possible. I trust we will all benefit together from this renewal as I find my way back into my gifts and best possible contribution to our beloved Center. I know I have so much to give and share, as well as so much more to learn and grow in the ONE. What a journey we are on in this ceaseless trip around the sun we call Life.
I've met a lovely women from South Africa, my new friend Cecelia. She is just starting her own 2 month trip in Europe. When she heard about my trip, we immediately connected and she confessed to some of the same fears I had when I started out. I gave her the same basic lessons for traveling in France, and in Europe in general, that I had gotten. I passed on some of the things I'd learned on my own, as well. I even got to teach her enough French to shop, order food, and get by! Me, who knows no French whatsoever!
A huge thanks to the lovely angels in my life. I have been so blessed by all the help, assistance, and support I've received along the way of my travels. Now I've gotten to pay it forward. And I have a wonderful place to stay in South Africa, next time I'm there.
What a great joy it is to pass our good fortune and blessings along to others. How amazing it is to be a blessing in someone else's life. How simple it is to connect in the great circle of giving and receiving, that the wheel may continually be turning toward greater good.
When was the last time you got to pay it forward? When was the last time you were a blessing in someone else's life?
Today was Thich Nhat Hahn's birthday. What an amazing man. One of the most profound things he said was "The Kingdom of God" in Christianity is what Buddhists would call the Body of the Cosmos. Since being in Europe, I have become extremely sensitive to the language I use to talk about spiritual living and spirituality. Most of the "God" language just doesn't work. This has reminded me that for years I steered away from the term "God" because it was too easy to get into the old connotations of what that word meant. I have used The Universe, The Divine, Universal Mind, and Spirit in the past to help me associate with an entirely different notion of what this spiritual reality is that we are talking about.
"Universal Mind" had always invited me into a deeper relationship with co-creation and the power of choice. "Spirit" has helped me release the anthropomorphic being with an outline that looked a lot like a giant old man. "The Divine" reminds that everything about Reality is always and already sacred and holy. "The Universe" makes it completely impersonal and reminds me that the Whole operates with spiritual laws in the same way the physical world operates with natural laws.
Recently I have found myself drawn to a different set of words - Oneness, The One, Wholeness, Reality, or simply, Life. These words actually have no "holy" or "Divine" meaning to me, and I noticed that as Thich Nhat Hahn spoke, he, too, used words that didn't really have any "holy" connotations to them as we are so used to from our Judeo-Christian heritage. He focused on words that described simply Reality and our relationship to it. For the first time, I really resonated with the notion of "Cosmos"....a single, living, breathing organism...a wholeness...the ONE.
We are, I AM, a place where the ONE Life, this Cosmos, has birthed a part of itself that can be conscious and self-aware. This means that the Cosmos, the ONE, can now see, know, and experience itself. When we know who we are, we realize that we are living in and as the body of the Cosmos, that we can not every be separate from it. That would be like thinking that our hand could be separate from our arm. There is no separation, only a profound awareness of self that comes with being an individuated part of the whole.
This awareness is the same awareness we use to be mindful of each and every aspect of reality that we engage with. By engaging in mindfulness, not only are we being present in the here and now, but the reason it is a state of bliss and joy is because it is the only way, time or place that the Cosmos has that it can look into the mirror and see itself. And oh what amazing beauty it sees in that mirror - the bright red leaf, the eye crinkled in a smile, the field ripe for harvest, the water flowing from the tap, the home constructed with love, the harnessing of electricity and electronics, and so much more. We are, I AM, an inlet and outlet for Life itself, to be, become, express and experience in a unique and precious, never-to-be-repeated way, just a the same water doesn't flow by no matter how long you stand by the side of the stream.
It's so interesting being in a monastic setting, around nuns who have taken these vows. Of course the men are in a different Hamlet to help with the vow of chastity! I can remember years when I dreamed of nothing more than to retreat to a hermitage and live a monastic type life. That is simply no longer the case for me. I notice that I find the notion of these vows oppressive and restrictive, and not particularly in alignment with my spirituality or full out spiritual living. I realize that I have moved completely to a place of being in the world, and not of it.
Poverty - how often have I been confronted with my own vow of poverty? It's not spiritual to focus on money...someone that rich probably isn't really happy anyway....it's more spiritual to simply follow Spirit and live in the spiritual world.... I remember the first time someone asked me, in a prosperity seminar, to take a vow of prosperity instead. Oh, did that make me squirm. Today I regularly take a vow of prosperity for myself and for every other person on the face of the planet. As I have been deeply contemplating living in enoughness, I know that enough is true prosperity for each and every one
Chastity - More of the devaluing of the body and the earth-based human reality and experience, as far as I can tell. Surely we need the energy of all our chakras to be opened and aligned. The sexual and sensual experiences of life are as important and powerful as the enlightened mind and the awakened heart. We have, after all, 3 lower chakras through which we are engaged in the energy and creativity and power of life, along with the three upper chakras which open us to the higher realms of insight and intuition. Both the lower and the higher need to be aligned through the heart into clarity of purpose. To deny the lower altogether seems like we are not having to confront, as well as simply missing out on, half of life
Obedience - I am reminded that I never required obedience from my son, rather I wanted him to grow up as a person with character. I wanted him to be someone who could say a real "yes" and a real "no". I learned obedience through fear of my father. This is completely different than learning about the consequences of ones choices and actions. I believe this is much more important. It's so easy to be told what to do, how to think, how to practice, and how to be. But to truly learn to choose and decide to live a life aligned with Spirit, Love, Joy, Peace and Beauty on our own, because we believe that will make a difference in our life and in the lives of those around us....now that is spiritual discipline to me
I choose to take the vows of enoughness, compassion, and awareness. What vows are you willing to take in your life?
Much time is spent in silence here at Plum Village. We have silence from 9 at night till 9 in the morning. We eat most of our meals in silence, walk in silence, stand in line in silence, and do our dishes in silence. After the talk and walk with Thich Nhat Hahn we had a formal lunch together, all 300 people from the three Hamlets. This meant that after we got our lunch we all went back into the meditation Hall, sat on our cushion and ate in silence together. The men sat on one side facing the women who sat on the other. We listened to some readings and chanting, and then ate our meal.
Thich Naht Hahn shared that the formal lunch was an opportunity for the Sangha to be nourished together as one living organism, forgetting superiority, inferiority and equality. I noticed that I had some judgement around the whole thing. Our food got cold, it was awkward to eat siting on the cushions, and surely all this silence in line and in eating was just a way to keep things a bit more organized and flowing more smoothly (read controlled).
Seeking to practice breathing in and breathing out, simply being with what is and allowing myself to find joy in the moment, I realized that actually much good was achieved by the Noble Silence. Firstly there was no vying for attention, who sat next to whom or talked to whom, so no one could feel 'in" or "left out". Secondly, while I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people after so much time away from these kinds of groups, I realized that the silence actually allowed me to be alone in the group without feeling isolated or separate. I was, in fact, a part of the Sangha body, feeding and nourishing this (my) portion of the whole, and I found pleasure in that thought. Finally, I also realized that the silence and the breathing opened a space for me to have these other two insights!
Perhaps we all need to find ways to have Noble Silence in our lives, both individually and collectively. I know I have been enjoying silence throughout my sabbatical and really feel the need for the space in my life. What about you?