Cultivating Pre-set Mindstates

Creating a Meditative Default or Preselected Option

It’s a fallback position that I’m talking about here.  Once upon a time a few years back some man lost control of his auto and slammed into the back of me as we were pulling away from a  traffic light.  I called my daughter just after this while waiting for the police to come to make the report for insurance purposes.  She commented on how peaceful and calm my voice was for just being rear-ended rather violently.  My preselected default meditative state took over without my conscious direction.

Or at least I think that’s why.  Since then it had become more conscious within me to work on cultivating that default state of being when my attention isn’t consumed elsewhere.  Sometimes, it’s repeating a mantra such as, “May I be content and peaceful, may I be happy and in goodwill, may I be protected and safe . . . “and then eventually changing the “I” to “we” meaning all beings.

When waiting for my coffee to finish reheating in the microwave, at a traffic light, while stretching before or after a workout at the gym the mantra takes over my consciousness.  Sometimes, it’s not a mantra, however.  Sometimes my attention is naming the breath activity:  Breathing in, breathing out.  This creates a dropping down into the body and into the moment and peace is naturally there.  I consider these mantras or this breath attention as cultivating a set point which can, after habitual reinforcement, become ones ‘go to’ place in good times and in … well, in times that are not so good when they arise in order to soften those jarring moments of life that can leave us in a state of shock or knock us out of a previous state of consciousness.

Default options are pre-set courses of action that take effect if nothing is specified by the decision maker or the decision maker isn’t sure what to do.  What is your default setting?   Have you consciously cultivated a positive one?

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Channeling Insight in Meditation

 

Have you ever felt like you were stripped of control yet at the same time fully awake?  This describes a deep state of meditation. It also describes a mind level in which channeling insight can occur.  There is no “doer” in this state—the self has, for the most part—dissolved.   Only the “knower” is fully functioning and there is no volitional thought.  It can feel much like being frozen and one’s identity is no longer part of the consciousness scenario.  There is a calmness in which insight arrives in this state.

Meditation, for me, is different each time.  I do not expect to reach such a deep state each and every time I sit for meditation practice.  I’ve learned to work with the right meditation and the right time and to let go of expectations of some type of progress or achievement. 

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Evolution of my Psychic Medium Perspective

 This is a personal viewpoint 

I have NOT stopped believing in our connections to other realities and the world of spirit containing spirit guides and/or deceased relatives. YET, at the same time as making that statement, it is clear to me that I don’t “go there” so much these days–at least not for myself anyway.  Why?  I ask myself this very question and hope this bit of writing will help sort it out.

Maybe it is because the clear advantage of being spiritually responsible for my own evolution in the here and now (which happens to be planet earth in this body/soul/consciousness) is my primary focus these days.  And I’m aging (like everyone is!) and as I get closer to the possibility of the ending of this form, this physical body, priorities change.

Maybe this happens to everyone and not just me — this I cannot say.  I haven’t taken a survey nor is there any interest on my part in doing so.  What has happened for me anyway is that I’m much more aware of what I’m supposed to do here — and one biggie has to do with remaining in a state of peace despite emotional challenges.  Can my departed parents or a spiritual entity in another dimension do this for me?  Spiritual evolution is personal — not that we can’t receive assistance when heartfelt and earnest request is made; but I’m here and while my parents and guides, et. al. are near and dear, I alone make the determined choice and effort to manage my own psyche with both feet on Mother Earth, here and now.

The last two words are key in what I’m attempting to express.  Here:  Earth Dimension  Now:  As I sit at my desk, in front of this keyboard in my living room.  It will do me no good to go talking to my deceased parents or a spirit entity right at this moment–in fact, it feels somewhat like co-dependent escapism to some extent to do so.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe loved ones can communicate with us here upon Earth through someone who is open and receptive.  Yet, I think of it this way — my parents or spirit guides cannot live in this body with me and actually if I’m not careful,  their communication can become (if my focus is off) a huge distraction.

That said.  I’m aware that we are all at different points of consciousness evolution — none better than another.  To be clear, I’m not expressing that one person’s evolution in one direction is more or less advanced than another’s.  One thing that Soul Astrology has taught me is that we are all on particular paths with different karmic pasts.  Like snowflakes, we are all alike yet so very different, unique.

I am able to (somehow and I don’t know precisely how) connect in with the energy of persons, places and things whether here on Earth or elsewhere — most of the time if the need is great enough and I am clear enough at any give time.  Intention and compassion on my part to help another enables the clarity.  Yet,  it has become a lesser focus and direct mission in my life.

Rather, my own heart is drawn in other directions — more specifically in taking personal responsibility for my own energy and evolution.  This is a bit difficult to express and I am using this blog post to sort it out as I said.

Maybe I feel that I’ve exhausted that direction or gone as far down the path of psychic and medium types of personal seeking and have doubled back now to the main path — something like this anyway.

Once we discover a truth, there is no need to keep on; it becomes redundant.  In another way of saying that and being very, very blunt (but not unfeeling) about it, it becomes like this:   So what?  Our loved ones remain with us and can communicate and entities from other dimension exist and also communicate–all in helpful ways at times.  So what?  And while I realize that I am not really a separate entity apart from ‘All That Is’ and that in essence, this person (personality) called ‘me’ and this physical body doesn’t really exist apart from everything else on an ultimate level, they do conventionally.  Non-self is a helpful view to have while maintaining a conventional view in balance.  We exist, yet we don’t — if you will.

The question then becomes something having to do with questioning why conventionality exists in the first place and why challenges and difficulties exist here on Earth and what we do about them — are we to escape and ignore them or do we use them to help ourselves and others evolve in such ways that spiritual responsibility is taken for growth and evolution?  And how do we use the body and the mind-consciousness in such ways that enable us to realize a greater truth?  What truth?  Remaining in the ‘Here and Now’ while achieving and arriving at the Field of Peace while in this physical body/mind.  When one compares that goal to one that has already been reached which involves talking to the deceased loved ones or spiritual entities or guides . . . well, you see my point maybe?

In the end, through divination what are the angels and guides guiding us toward but back into our own self while understanding the non-self so that we can function in a peaceful way upon the Earth–that’s what it’s about for me now.  And while we are here helping others to do the same perhaps through example or maybe even through something like this rather long laborious blog post, its what we’re here to do.  Here and now.

Thus end my thoughts about this topic for now.

Nimitta – progress signs of Samadhi Meditation

I am going to post this on each of my website blogs as well as my newsletter.  Why? Some information that recently crossed my path explained many of my meditation experiences of the past and currently as well.  Many students of the psychic development class and those interested in spiritual and psychic/intuitive development may have had similar ‘signs’ of their spiritual progress or evolution.

Before I go into what those are, it’s probably best to offer the disclaimer that if one looks for these signs or tries to manifest them, they will be blocking their energy and possibly delaying further consciousness expansion in some way.  My teachers have always guided me not to get “hung up” on manifestations and to take with a grain of salt.  It is just the natural process of the mind—don’t be overly concerned, they’d say.

If you have read much on my website (www.psychicjoystar.com), you will see that I’ve mentioned mysterious occurrences that came about as part of my meditative absorption over the years.  Those were a total and complete mystery to me until this past week!

The history of experience for this life has always evolved in a way that much later explanations arrive that validate occurrences and I’ve always been grateful for that as it assures me that there was no conscious influence on my part.

As many readers may know, my tendency is to reach toward eastern philosophy my deeply personal effort to understand life, the mind, and of reality itself.  My studies and meditation time have not been in vain and have helped me to cope with some very difficult life circumstances.  Yet, there were always those mysterious events lingering in the memory of my mind.  Up until now, there were not fully explained in any kind of satisfactory way.

Then this past week there comes the information that does so!  I simply must share it.  It will be a brief outline and I will paraphrase some of it while keeping true to the text.  I will add some personal notes in parenthesis.  I hope this will be of use to others.
The signs of meditative concentration are known as “nimitta” and include the following:

  • For beginners, it is usually grey smoke color appearing in front of them.  When this occurs, the instruction is to concentrate on the natural breath; and gradually then, the breath and nimitta will become one.   In this stage the mind usually stays automatically will become one.  (Personal note:  when I would go hiking and be breathing more heavily, I would see more of this grey smoke in front of me.  By the way, it started out looking like black ink in the atmosphere, as if someone dumped a bucket of black ink in the sky.  I could see around it and through it and then gradually it lightened.)
  • As meditative concentration develops further, the gray smoky nimitta will change in color to white.  (This is exactly what happened to me.)  This is given the name of “the learning sign”.  As one continues to concentrate on the learning sign, the white form nimitta will change to a transparent nimitta and this is called “the counterpart sign”.  (I was in Sedona, Arizona atop a mountain at the time this occurred.  That was sometime in the late 1990’s.  I was still working as a Physical Therapist at the time.)  The instruction in the text is that one should concentrate on the transparent nimitta until a state of full absorption is reached.
  • The text says that unless one sees the counterpart sign, the meditative attentiveness or concentration is superficial.  (Again, I did not have any of this information until a few days ago and therefore did not know of the instruction to concentrate on the transparent nimitta.)
  • (In the eastern philosophy, the word used to describe these stages of meditation is called “jhana”.  I did not know that word until this past month actually.  And there is the discussion on audios that I’ve heard about maintaining states of absorption for 2 and 3 hours at a time without interruption.  This I was able to do when living alone in the mountains many times.  Since I’ve moved from the seclusion of the mountains–for approximately the past 6 years—that is rarely the case.)
  • The text says that once a person’s meditation practice is very clear they will, one day, see small particles, called “kalapas”.  When one see’s kalapas, they have reached the last stage of samatha(serenity/calm/tranquility) and the beginning stage of vipassana (insight/seeing things as they really are).   At this stage, one understands reality as small particles.

I must pause here to explain that this next part totally blew me out of my seat, so-to-speak!  I wrote about this on my website eons ago and this occurred, also, in the late 1990’s just before I moved (from Florida) to the mountains of North Carolina.  Here it is nearly 20 years later and it is only now that I understand what all of these experiences were about!  The book in which this information is contained was published in 2008, ten years ago.  Yet, it has taken me nearly all of the past ten years to adjust to the huge transitions in my life and to release a significant karmic relationship connection.  It hasn’t been until recently that my personal journey has directed me back to seek deeper levels of meditation, reaching for Samadhi again.  Anyway, this light, so white and so bright and it occurred when I was meditating on a star in the sky at twilight one evening.  I felt myself moving toward it and then the white brilliant light sort of frightened me.  It was everywhere I looked and lasted a good chunk of time and it faded finally as I looked at a large pine tree.   I’ve never seen it again all these many years.

  • The text says that there is a visual-like nimitta which is ‘the best one’.  (Again, the word nimitta means sign/mark/appearance.)  It is not seen with the physical eye.  It is purely a mental phenomenon.  It appears as if it is like a headlight in front of you, incredibly brilliant, so much so that you don’t think you can stare at it any longer.  (At the time I thought perhaps I drew the star right down in front of me – I’d been staring at a star during meditation at the time.)  This is not a visual thing at all and even though it is like looking at the sun, it is quite safe, because it is a pure metal image—according to the text.

If one tries to have any such experiences as described, the effort actually blocks the meditator’s tranquil absorption.  Actually, I recall trying to stare at a star again at various times in the past and could not reproduce that event –or any other unusual experiences of my past for that matter.
I wanted to put this out today so that it may be helpful to others.  Maybe I will save someone 20 years of wondering and never really knowing what those signs are really about!

The text that I’ve been referring to is called “The Experience of Samadhi” by Richard Shankman  and the specific information at nimitta were from interviews with Pa Auk Sayadaw, the abbot of a Forest Monastery in Burma and Ajahn Brahmavamso, who studied with Venerable Ajahn Chah and is the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society in Australia.
I am so personally grateful to them for the information shared in the text which has helped me considerably and renewed my meditative effort.

May it be that this information reaches the right person for the right reasons and be of the highest service.


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Understanding Sati and Samadhi in Meditative Practice

When mindfulness (sati) is continuous, then (samadhi) STABILITY OF MIND will become established–from the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, a Theravadan Buddhist monk and well-known and highly respected meditation teacher.

Deeper and deeper into the teachings of Buddhism, there is this ‘me’ attempting to walk in the steps of the Buddha.  No, this is not about religion–more about psychology . . . study of the mind.  We all have one but how many of us really observe how the mind works?  How to use the mind in a way that serves the greater good, so-to-speak.  That’s where I’m coming from.

Recently, a new level of understanding and wisdom arrived within my life spectrum, this continuation of consciousness.

Anyone who knows of this ‘me’ probably knows of the difficulty experienced due to moving from places of quiet and solitude for nearly 20 years.  The short version has to do with the difficulty adjusting to suddenly being around noisy humans and family drama.  Moving closer to my daughters has been wonderful in so many ways, but not without the challenges that come along with sudden change.  Here’s what I’m trying to get at . . .

Until my recent study, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that the states of Samadhi established in meditation could be maintained during regular activities of daily living,  outside of a formal meditative state–in other words, off the cushion.  Yet, while living in the mountains many times was there in a stable mind-state without knowing it.   I’ll explain more in a moment.  Additionally, in recent days my study has uncovered another real eye-opener. And that has to do with percentages of attachment equaling the same percentage of aversion.  Here’s what that means . . .

The attachment that has been present to a personal desire and preference for silence has been way too strong or large.  As a result, the aversion or anger to it’s opposite (loud neighbors) has been equally as strong.  It goes back to the basic core phrase we always hear, “Accepting what ‘is'”.  It’s not so easy to accept anything as it is when you have a high percentage of attachment to its opposite.

Of course, there are other factors that filter into the equation of imbecile aversion which include a high level of sensitivity that comes along with open awareness.  Making peace with it while maintaining a stable mind is my continual challenge and the area of focused work in this life.

When living in the mountains, days on end of samadhi, stable mind, occurred — it was as if living in my own hermitage or retreat center.   It is only now that the realization comes that when the mind was pulled into worry about finances or when going into town and mingling with humans that the state dissolved and aversions and defilements arose within the mind. I didn’t think of it as samadhi at the time.  My personal definition of that word involved deep stillness (not necessarily awareness) in which there was no awareness of a self at all.  A new or an additional understanding of the word is the stability of mind, maintained over long periods of time toward the goal of having a stable mind indefinitely or at all times.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, some days it has felt impossible but it always comes down to this moment here now . . .  being aware, mindful or aware of what the mind is doing this very moment.  Being fully in it and observing what the mind and body are doing or the reactions–watching those.

Watching the mind can be a real sport if one’s heart is into it.  Stop a moment and ask yourself, Am I aware?” 

The answer is always Yes, don’t you see?  You will find that there is always that overseer called awareness.  How deep is the awareness?  Is it superficial or is there recognition and acknowledgment of thinking whenever it arises. Is there recognition of sound, feeling (all of the senses) whether pleasant or unpleasant as those arise?  Can you remember in the midst of any aversion that begins to arise that it is only nature happening and not personal?  Neither are your reactions–that’s just nature happening too.

These are just a few of my personal thoughts and experiences on these subjects for any reader’s discernment or consideration.  

Universal Intelligence? Universal Soul? Sati Knowing?

lotus may 2018Let me start with the words “Universal Intelligence” — two words.  Concepts.  Assigned meanings.  What meaning? Well, synchronistic guidance received in meaningful timing that is too unmistakable, too precise to be considered accidental.

Is this the Universal Soul communicating with this soul? or the “Knowing” that I’ve heard called Sati?  But that word, Sati, may not be the right word for this.  Unsure.  Anway…

Applying more than these few words, in order to define this type of magic, isn’t all that useful anyway.  Besides, this type of going-on is likely not to be that unusual really.  It’s probably a stimulated manifestation based on intention.  Yet, in this lifetime, it seems always to be connected to spiritual goals which to me lends it a higher conceptual name.  The precise name is not useful really for a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, as Shakespeare said.

This divine magic has been experienced like being directly guided and supported as if by a master teacher or some overseer of my life who knows exactly what is being learned, and how it applies to my evolution.

Its as if there is some wise being making sure that what is needed is provided in exactly the right timing to apply to the next lesson.  It’s not easy to put into words.  Its happened time and again–too many times to recount.

Yet, here’s the most recent example that stimulated me to write about it in this blog post today . . .

Within days of reading about a particular (somewhat complicated) spiritual teaching and meditation method, the book material was being contemplated.  Next thing, with barely any conscious awareness of how I got to the website, there before me I found myself looking at pages of audio teachings from numerous teachers on a host of varied subjects.

Randomly, I clicked on one of the hundreds of links and found myself listening to the identical teaching that I’d just read about in the book, explaining it further! It was of great benefit to me.  Prior to the random click, there was no hint externally that the audio would further explain the written material.  Yet, it was no accident!

This type of event has occurred often enough for me to release any doubt whatsoever of some divine force guiding the internal and external experiences of my life.

Meditation Haiku Poem Present Moment Practice

I’ve been watching an HBO show that’s been on AMAZON PRIME.  I view it on my TV set using my ROKU device.  It’s called IN TREATMENT.  In the moment of a recent episode, the shrink asked the young man, “What are you thinking?”  The youth replied, “White noise”.

I had to laugh at that one.  The laughter of recognition I suppose.  My own mind registered that.  Not thinking anything really.  Yet not being mindful either.  I ‘m most aware of that white noise when the decision is made to write.  Like now.  It’s a rain filled, raw, cold day here in North Carolina.  Write, I said.

All levels of me self-agreed to write something.  A blog.  Here I am.  What have I got? White noise just like the kid on the program.

Lately, I’ve thought to try my hand at writing short little Japanese Mindfulness Poems called Haiku which are Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.  Cutting written language, relatable to anyone and maybe paradoxical in some way.

Sounds easy.  Not so much.  You’d think the white noise would help but the instant that pressure is felt to come up with even one word, the mind is suddenly filled with nonsense and resistance. No no, not always, listen . . .

I really like the idea of clipping out a moment that is a pure now moment – a reflection of whatever catches the attention of the psyche.

The other day I sat down on the sidewalk in front of my apartment to experience a moment or two of sunshine.  Looking down at the ground before me, there is one pear tree flower all by itself in the dirt–alone and separated from the tree and other flowers on the branch from which it blossomed.

What struck me is that even though it was alone there, its center filaments seemed to still be reaching up toward the sun, the light.

Spring flower in dirt

Alone, apart from its branch, tree

Looks up to the light

My Haiku poem.  Is it legit?  Well, I guess they’re not really required to rhyme to qualify.  Here are a few from one of the supposed greatest Haiku Poets, Basho:

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight—
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset.

The translations from Japanese to English do not follow the 5, 7, 5 syllable rule.   Anyway, none of those rhyme but they do describe the moment in time, a now.  Seems a good use of spare time to use Haiku poem writing endeavors to help a person remain aware of their now, mindfulness.  I guess you know what I mean, reader, right?

The small flower all alone there just seemed to say to me, “Look, I know that I no longer am connected to the life force upon the earth that sustained me (the tree) and I’m aware that I will soon just become the earth itself, whithering away here.  And I know my family of flowers on the branch above me–they are all looking down upon me aware of my fate, but I can still be nourished by the light, the sun.  The filaments, the anther, the stamen of me are still reaching up to the light even in my death here and in my departure, the ground here before you where I lay is bringing you some joy and beauty before I disappear completely. ” Looking at the singular flower was my meditation.

After writing those last words my head turned toward the window where I see the tree with all their beautiful white blossoms knowing that soon they will all fall upon the ground as the green leaves push them off their branches.  They too will end up in the dirt and on the sidewalk.  But they will return next spring to do it all again.  There is no death, only transition into yet another phase.

 

 

Winter Solstice December 21, 2017 REFLECTIONS and MEDITATION

‘I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.’

 –Hafiz, Sufi Poet

Light can enter one’s life through working with difficulty but this newsletter isn’t a downer; hopefully, it’s just the opposite. And the intention, as always, is to inspire, inform and involve engagement with Spirit. I wanted to start with this:  One often hears quoted, it is the crack (or break) of the heart through which the light enters.

To sit with the difficulty without causing suffering to self or to others is to honor the dark and the light in one’s life.

These seem to me to be good meditative contemplations for the shortest day and longest night.  I wanted to write about it today as we enter what I like to call “the great stopping of momentum, the great balance of light and dark–the great silence, the big quiet.”

 Sitting with the difficulties of life, even the difficulties of daily meditation can open us to more light entering our consciousness so that we can benefit ourselves, others and the world.  Let me explain what I mean.

I’m talking about not turning away but rather really bearing the pain, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, without creating further pain for self or another in any way.   Not running from it, suppressing it or becoming angry or frustrated with darkness.  That’s an example of balancing the light and dark in one’s life.  We can be reminded of this type of yin-yang balance during the time of the Winter Solstice.

It isn’t easy to really be with troubles without adding more suffering.  In The Arrow Sutra, the Buddha teaches about how we embellish the pain or difficulty (shooting the second arrow), instead of observing what is actually present:  which is the arising and passing of feelings. So instead of turning away from emotions, turn towards them and watch them pass just the way they have arisen.  In this way, we allow the light of awareness to enter and wisdom to arise.

Practice in Meditation

A simple meditation today, the Winter Solstice, can help us work with balancing light and dark/ease and difficulty.  Here’s what I mean.  Sometimes, we resist emotions or thoughts or discomfort in the body or sleepiness or restlessness during meditation and in doing so, we shoot a second arrow, so-to-speak, and create a story around even these simple experiences in meditation.

OR we may come to the sitting with already-formed goals, intentions or ideas about how the meditation time is going to be experienced.  “I am going to be in a bliss state the whole time, or go floating into the heaven of the cosmos.”  When in actuality, we may feel sleepy, restless or have thoughts of regret or other emotional difficulties arise.

Meditation is a practice for life.  And life is full of darkness as well as light– full of difficulties as well as it’s opposite, freedom,  peace/ease.  Think of yin-yang.

Our world needs people who can stand in the fire or tolerate the difficulty, keep a cool head, not over-react, deal with harsh and hard situations with clarity and wisdom.  Meditation practice trains us to do this. 

The ideal

We don’t quit or run or try to escape –nor do we control or intend any type of outcome when we meditate.  We may have an intention for our meditation practice which is alright but many times if we just allow, and experience, observe, see the mind working while being interested yet not being too controlling, too tense nor too relaxed but  just allowing ourselves to move through the states without judging ourselves as “bad meditators” and without becoming frustrated … if we can uphold these ideals, I think  we can develop the ability to balance the light and dark in our lives too.   Yeah, I know this is an awkwardly phrased paragraph, but you know what I mean, right?

The Winter Solstice is a reminder of all of this . . .

  • of how the depth of our being which is radiant clear light can open up through staying with difficulties
  • of how our core mind, the primal mind, is radiant and clear in nature
  • of how just like the Tibetan Buddhist tradition speaks, a self-existing lamp of wisdom exists within each of us
  •  of how through the difficulties and darkness of life, we are able to access this kind of light or presence
  • of  how we go into the dark in order to be able to see the light
  • of how we are with the difficult in order that we may be able to have more ease

If in meditation we can embrace the unknowing or just allow rather than always trying to control – the unknowing will open up to knowing. Being with the difficult or darkness opens us to light as well as being regenerative and enabling wisdom.

Here is some poetry that expresses these ideas . . . 

“Some nights stay up till dawn,
as the moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way
of a well, then lifted out into light.”
–Rumi
*****
Three times my life has opened.
Once, into darkness and rain.
Once, into what the body carries at all times within it and
starts to remember each time it enters the act of love.
Once, into the fire that holds all.
These three were not different.
You will recognize what I am saying or you will not.
But outside my window all day a maple has stepped
from her leaves like a woman in love with winter, dropping
the colored silks.

Neither are we different in what we know.
There is a door. It opens. Then it is closed. But a slip of
light stays, like a scrap of unreadable paper left on the floor,
or the one red leaf the snow releases in March.
–Jane Hirshfield

*****
If each day falls
Inside each night,
There exists a well
Where clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim
Of the well of darkness
And fish for fallen light
With patience.
–Pablo Neruda


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New Years Mini-Readings on January 2nd

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