INSIDE AND OUT

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“For an answer, go to the place where there is no thought and listen.”-Katie

The world is what it is, it’s neither good nor bad, it’s not happy or sad; it just is. There is no should or shouldn’t. There is no ‘I would rather…’ It’s either cloudy or clear, day or night, rain or shine and neither is better nor worse than the other. In this instant, which is all there is, that is what is… and you are perceiving it, you are the perceiving. Look, witness, be.

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Watch. Be still. Everything changes. By the time you think “now”, it is gone; it is already a story of the past. Remember the saying ‘go-with-the-flow’? That is the only Now: the flow.

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Be still, perceive, let it flow in and out, in and out. Sounds, sensations, colors, shapes. Feel, see, hear, smell. Who? What? Who or what perceives? Close your eyes. Find the Perceiver.

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Did you find it, the perceiver? Good. Now, who did that? Who or what perceived the perceiver? Find that one. Oh, yes… there it is, found it! Fantastic! But… who or what perceived the perceiver of the perceiver?

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Are you beginning to see? Really see? You can never, NOT EVER, see or find the Who or What that you are. The self cannot contemplate the self. The Perceiver can never find the Perceiver. The Perceiver can only perceive what it is not. There is only the possibility of experiencing its presence through what it perceives, through the very act of perceiving.

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Almost 60 years ago, I saw. I was an adolescent. An adolescent knows nothing; an adolescent has so little experience. Perhaps, an adolescent is open to whatever because it knows it does not know and becomes curious. To be curious is to be. So, that night, I turned off all the lights in my room and looked.

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There was still a glow from the street lights. Therefore, I covered my eyes with my hands to shut out all possibility of light. There was no question posed, I was not looking for an answer to anything, there was no goal, spirituality wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary. I have no idea why I did what I did. Curiosity was alive in me. So, I covered my eyes. Then, with the lights off and my hands tightly blocking any glow, I opened my eyes again and looked. Then I saw, I perceived with an intensity that left no doubt. For an instant, I sat in wonder just looking. And then the mind came in and named it: There was absolutely nothing in between the Cosmos inside and the Cosmos outside.

BUTTERFLIES

Of course, by putting it into words, I have turned the pure experience into a thought, but in the instant I experienced it, there was no thought so I knew it to be true.  I told no one about this experience, but I have never forgotten it and that infinite cosmos, inside and out, is a space I can always go to when I believe that reality should be different than it is.

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CLEAR FOCUS

…if the aspiration is inside a human being to grow,

to find the truth, then (she) will find a way

and the way will find (her).
(Mooji)

I just watched a video titled, 212 – The Extra Degree, (http://www.videosmotivational.com/best-clips/success/212-the-extra-degree/). It is a good promotional video that stresses the importance of the number “1”, beginning with the difference between water that is 211º and is hot, and water that is 212º and boils producing steam which is power enough to move a train or a boat. Continue reading

WE FORGET IT’S A MOVIE

In a more useful sense,
 trances are unquestioned
thought systems or behavior
 patterns. In a trance state,
we are so absorbed in the “movie”
that we forget it’s a movie.
And, we forget we are not just
the actor, but also the director
and the audience.
(Swami Beyondananda)

There are several kinds of drunk. Not always, but sometimes I was the aggressive kind: I got drunk to punish you, you being whoever had wronged me at that moment, and believe me, as far as I was concerned the “you’s” were standing in line. Continue reading

NO-THING-NESS

All I know is that what I experienced that night so long ago, that which seemed strange enough to be termed crazy, that which could only be the result of a feverish and inexperienced or ignorant mind, that which I refused to believe although experience had made me see it has turned out to be true.

I was 16 or so and given to day dreaming more often than my parents thought healthy or normal; I was 16 and was still willing to believe most of what my Father spoke as truth. I was 16 and spent a tremendous amount of time in my room with the door closed doing –now I cannot remember- god knows what and little more. It might have been night time, at least I believe it was, and I was day dreaming as usual, of nothing, of everything, dreams that teenagers have. It was night, now it begins to come back, and the darkness of it captured my attention. Yet there was light, light from the streetlamp that I could not see but perceived through the glow that reached the far wall outside of my window, light imagesyqe4jwcoperhaps from a moon or the twinkling stars which were still visible in the sky for the now infamous smog of Mexico City had not yet taken over. Light, no doubt, from under my closed door for my parents were probably downstairs, or had gone out and not yet come home. The memory speaks of silence, there was silence; the night was quiet of that I am sure. On the cobblestoned street where we lived there was no traffic and much less after night fall. An occasional car would pass slowly and then the silence would wrap once more around the houses like a dark shawl. I was sitting, if I’m not mistaken, on the stool in front of my dressing table, my elbows resting on the glass top which protected the white wood from being stained, my cheeks resting on my fists, my eyes peering out into the night and my ears listening to the silence until it began to fill my head. Everything, including my mind was still. And then I did a strange thing.

I removed my fists from my cheeks where they had been holding up my head, spread them out and covered my eyes as tightly as I could. Once I was sure that not a slithering of light could get through, I opened my eyes, now under the cover of my warm palms, and looked. I looked as only a young person can look: with no preconceived notion of what it was I was going to see and I saw. I saw that there was nothing, absolutely nothing between the darkness inside and the darkness outside, nothing separating the cosmos that resided inside and the cosmos that resided outside: there was no “me”, there was only darkness, there was only cosmos; even the stars were gone from the Infinite inside. The experience was one of awe and peace: “I” was no more, there was nothing but “that” and “that” had images1wmrgih3not yet separated into “this, and this, and this…” It just was: silence and vastness, unending silence, unending vastness. I would never forget that experience, would as a matter of fact use it in a novel some 30 odd years later, but as surely as I would not forget it, neither would I believe it, neither would I know that in that moment I had seen, experienced what I would spend the next 45+ years searching for.

How was I to know? The moment I removed my hands from my eyes, reality as I undestood it then flooded back in, as light, as thought, as denial: “figment of the imagination”. How was I to believe that which no one and nothing in my living experience was validating: that the body, that the whole material world does not actually exist unless I perceive/project it. All I seemed to know at that moment was that for a split second I had experienced an inner realm as vast, unending and abysmal as the outer cosmos. That which I could not imagine, the infinite, the unendingness of the cosmos without even a celestial body –a star, a moon, a sun- to dot it, was my inner reality, much more so than lungs and heart and stomach and uterus. I was Nothing, creating myself and being created by that Nothingness at every instant, over and over and over, never real, always becoming and folding back into nothingness: beautiful, overwhelming, incomprehensible, awesome, fearful and miraculous Nothingness.

Now I understand that at that very moment, I also experienced that the selfsame nothingness, is not nothing: it is vibrant, alive and that which we all long for deep down inside: it is our birthing place –now, now, now. What Freud mistook as a desire to return to the womb, is a desire to return to the Womb, the Void, the Nothingness that is Everything in potential.

Fifty-one years later I can now live from that Place, visiting it whenever I wish and never losing contact with it. It manifests in the current of peace that underlies my everyday life; in the gentleness with which I view most circumstances no matter how apparently uncomfortable. It flows forth through my chest which opens out connecting both realities in wave after wave of love. I am that Nothingness, being. I am blessed

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AWAKENING

Slowly the mind seeps into consciousness. I am awakening. Morning. A feeling of sadness creeps up towards my throat and then down to the solar plexus. Not strong, slightly heavy. Really no problem… until the mind begins, and the mind does begin.

‘Sad’ it says, and the feeling increases a bit. ‘Getting old’ it says a few times; ‘nowhere to go, nothing to do, future downhill’.  Then, as it has now defined a ‘problem’, it begins to look for ‘solutions’. I observe. ‘Maybe if I lived closer to my children’. Which one, I wonder. What for, I ask myself shaking my head lightly. Now I am fully awake and I explain to this drowsy wandering mind that I have no place in the lives of my children, that I have no life of my own at the moment in either of the places where they live, and that I do NOT want to spend these still active years taking care of grandchildren (Good God! They’re too old to need taking care of anyway; it would be more like their taking care of me and that certainly would bore them all the way out of any love they might have!). Just think what a bother I would be: a bored, frustrated bother. What in the world would I do with myself?

The mind continues: ‘Get a project. Go to Africa like Wendy, join a volunteer organization like the Red Cross, go to Haiti to help sweep up after the quake, make yourself useful.’ Africa…. hmmm, could be interesting. It could also be deadly, a woman my age. ‘Wendy went, she is your age.’ Yes, and she got kidney stones from dehydration and had to be operated on. ‘She married an African 20 years her junior.’ I don’t want to marry an African and run an orphanage; I don’t like children that much. Wendy has a hang up about never having had children; she is satisfying her frustrated maternity. Not for me.

By this time, I have opened my eyes and am running my hand over Salomé’s tummy. Salomé is the love of my life at this moment. I scratch her behind her furry ears. She closes her bright, brown miniature-schnauzer eyes and cuddles closer to me. Better than Prozac. Something begins to open in my chest and I hear myself whispering: “Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful” over and over until I feel the gratitude filling my heart. My chest expands, all heaviness disappears, there is opening as I take a long, deep breath. “Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful”. Salomé has sat up and is looking at me, trying to figure out if I am speaking to her. I smile; she licks my hand with her rough pink tongue. “Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful.”

Suddenly, I am filled with gratitude and wonder. I have such a busy life, there is so much to do –and I love it all- that I barely have time to watch a film on the DVD occasionally. Where in the world would I find time to go to Africa! Suddenly I can see my life. I can see me creating exercises for the workshops I give twice a month, giving the workshops, seeing private clients who want to learn to do the work I teach, the beloved work that has brought me to this place of peace inside, this freedom that even allows me to contemplate migrating to California or Africa, knowing I could do it if the impulse moved me. ‘All this and heaven too’, my mind says as I realize that I am busy enough to almost not have time to write. Almost.

Salomé has jumped down to look for a ball in hopes that I am awake enough to play. I roll over on my side and close my eyes again. It has been almost 18 years since I began my second life. The first one –the one where I was wife, mother, homemaker- ended after 30 years. Jokingly I often say now “30 years of forced labor and I retired”. Don’t professionals get their retirement after 30 years in a company? Well, I had been in the company of my husband for 30 years and I retired. It sounds better in Spanish: we say “jubilada” which means ‘jubilated’ or released into joy, into jubilation. “Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful.”

I love my children, I loved my family, I loved my husband (I still do, and it makes me so happy that he has found someone else to live with), and I was ready to be free and to be me for the first time in my adult life: I was ready to BE.

The slight morning heaviness is gone. Outside the window, the day is cloudy. Rain. ‘Don’t forget your umbrella.’ Sometimes the mind takes care of necessary details. ‘It is Wednesday.’ Wednesday… Wow! It’s Wednesday! Train Day! Today I go from Madrid to Barcelona on the AVE (which means “bird of prey”) that has a white engine car shaped like the head of an eagle, with two bright red eyes when it is in the station, and reaches a speed of over 300 km/hour. To me it is the most beautiful train I have ever seen and to ride in it once a week is a treat.   images0gxduljb That may seem strange, considering that the 3 hour ride is to see a sport’s doctor for a pain under my shoulder blade that has lasted almost a year, but the AVE is one of the gifts of having that pain. Three hours out and three back. Six hours of absolute freedom to do with what I want. Absolutely alone with myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone or take any calls on my cell phone unless I want to. Just me and the beautiful train.

Now I have leapt out of bed. Salomé has hopefully brought the old sock with the ball inside to see if I will play, but I have other things to do. Mind is busy now: ‘Don’t forget to take out booklets and program for Saturday’s conference’. I wonder what car I am in on the AVE. The tickets are on the dresser: 7. Good! I usually am in 8, and 7 is one car closer to the cafeteria car which is number 4.

Morning chores: breathing exercise, molding massage, shower, Chi Kung, walk to park with Salomé, glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in the local café –one of the few places in Madrid that allows dogs. Back home, breakfast, answer e-mails, gather material for Saturday’s conference, watch clock. Eleven a.m. and I am free! Walk to corner with bag hitched over left shoulder (spare right one). Heavy with two sandwiches and a Tupperware full of fresh lettuce, nuts and cheese, dressing: healthier than the food on the train.

Thanks to the new aches and pains that seem to appear as time pushes on, I now take care of myself much more than before. Until the body began making demands, I gloriously ignored it. However, on Wednesdays I allow myself to go to the train cafeteria and buy a bag of chips and a coca-cola. Junk food.

My bag also contains my notebook and several ball-point pens (in case one or more run out of ink). It is my writing day. I usually spend the three hours outward trip writing at least one full vignette for this book -sometimes I manage two- and gazing at intervals at the shifting countryside racing by. The multicolored earth. Tones of pale beige through gold and onto green. Olive groves and softly rising hills. Little towns whisking by, their red tile roofs and church steeples, occasionally the ruins of an ancient castle on the highest hill. I write and gaze and write some more, then breathe deeply: it goes by so fast.

I have no idea what I will write today. On the corner, I hop a cab and the minute I settle in the seat and give the driver instructions to take me to the train station, my mind begins: ‘Slowly the mind seeps into consciousness. I am awakening…’ and my hand has extracted pen and paper and is making notes.220px-invernadero_de_atocha_madrid_-_view_2

Atocha, the largest train station in Madrid, is in itself a delight. An enormously long rectangular building three stories high with an arched glass roof, it contains a tropical rain forest. Yes, a live one with a mist-making watering system that keeps it humid. At one end of the dark green forest with its huge spreading leafy plants, there is a swampy pool containing hundreds of turtles of all sizes. It is definitely overpopulated, and turtles crawl upon other turtles to take spells out of the water and dry off. The air around is filled with the chirping of myriad sparrows who find the cool, green, humid habitat more inviting than the bustling traffic outside.

Today I am late, so I don’t pause to enjoy the strangeness of an inside forest. I arrive at the gate barely 4 minutes before closing time. Another minute’s walk and I am on the train. Sighing, I settle back in my seat, release the individual table from the seatback in front of me, spread my notebook out and continue writing: ‘Sad’ it says… I know that I must get my writing done on the way out: coming back I am usually tired, my body protests the sheer torture of the treatment, the needles and painful massage, and I allow myself to watch the movie, read a book or simply doze.images2pbzar1t

A half hour later, when I glance up at the luminous panel at the front of car 7, I see we are travelling at 303 km/hr. The morning’s heavy grey clouds accompany the landscape that whisks by. And the silence, the train makes no noise, people watch the movie or doze or read or work on their computers. Silence. “Thank you, thank you, I’m so grateful.”

I wonder if this treat, this being in love with the train ride, is the reason my shoulder doesn’t seem to finish getting better. ‘Well, now: there is a possibility. I could take out an AVE ticket to different places on all my Wednesdays; write as I travel, have lunch in Sevilla or Córdoba or Aranjuez or Valencia or Jerez or Murcia and return in the afternoon.’ I watch my mind turning over the possibility and smile. I could do that, nothing to stop me now. What fun!

Yes, I whisper to my heavy mind of the morning: you see, we are free. Wednesday can be our day, no clients, no programming workshops, no answering e-mails or even afternoon walks with Salomé; no having to plan or procure lunch. All day, surrounded by strangers with whom we will not talk at all (unless they are handsome and charming and want to flirt). So you see, I tell my silly morning mind, I really do have a full life here, no need to run to children or to Africa or anywhere for that matter. For the time being there is nothing but gratitude at 300 km/hr “Thank you, thank  you, I’m so grateful.”