Thoughts on Life: Resistance versus Acceptance – Fighting versus Flowing

it is what it isFIGHTING VERSUS FLOWING

RESISTANCE VERSUS ACCEPTANCE 

I was on the final 15 minutes of my hour spin bike workout, doing intervals.  There’s a point of non-resistance that has to be reached to get through those final intervals when the legs are burning and the level of fatigue makes you want to resist.  A coach once said, “Your legs should be burning–let ’em”.

There’s a point where you have to give up and surrender the battle to get the last few sets of intervals done successfully.

It’s acceptance.  The lungs are on fire and so are the legs and you’re pushing through to the end but if you fight this or resist it, you just can’t do it–you quit.

Today I thought about how this is just like life.  I mean, on the bike you accept it,  the “what is” of legs burning and the like and if you accept then the work is so much easier and you’re less likely to give up.  Or said another way what you ‘do’ give up is the resistance to ‘what is’–the burn or breathlessness or whatever.

When you give up the resistance and let the mind participate with the body, allowing the merging and accepting the fact that ‘yeah, it’s what it is, until it isn’t anymore’, THAT is so liberating, especially in those final moments.

Those hour long interval workouts are like the last moments of a race.  What really counts is what you do at the end when you have to dig deep and get to the finish line, especially when total exhaustion is so close.

When life becomes a crisis in some way and let’s face it, life presents challenges and if we deny this we are not living on this planet I think.  At those times do we surrender? Or do we fight it? Do we want to deny what’s happening and thereby struggle against it?

We make life harder for ourselves if we struggle.  I make the last 15 minutes of my workout harder if I struggle against.

This applies across the board or that’s my position in writing this.  No matter what life presents us with at any given time (and sometimes life is like those last 15 minutes of an hour long interval workout at the gym–rough!)…. point is that if we feel like we have to battle it or take a position of struggling against it, we find it’s all so much harder.

So many times in life we think something shouldn’t be what it is.

We deny reality or fight against how things ‘are’ and use all kinds of tactics to deny reality somehow.  It’s exhausting.

We can make this comparison with the Christian way of thinking about life being a struggle against a devil and having to fight the evil–this kind of mentality.

Another way of thinking is to simply not think–but what I really mean is allowing whatever ‘it is’ to be what ‘it is’ without the judgment.

Judgment is the christian way of dealing with life I think which comes from an idea of an ideal perfected state that we all must strive for but know we will never achieve (because they tell us that in their dogma), rather than the opposite which is giving up that fight and becoming free.

Does that mean that we don’t try to be better humans or that we stop doing our best?  That’s not what I’m saying.  

I’m talking about not beating one’s self up because of ‘what is’ or what isn’t during any given moment.  I’m writing here about not struggling against it or making the self wrong somehow in the process.

The last 15 minutes of intervals my legs burn and I’m breathless–it’s part of life at that moment and I accept that and don’t fight against it or resist it.

When anything in happens in life, I can draw from that ability to accept what is actually happening without judgment or without making myself or Life Itself wrong.  It is, after all, what is.

When my legs are burning, I don’t attach to the feeling–I let them burn.

When I’m right on the edge of breathlessness, I let it be and don’t fight against the feeling.

If I grunt or groan or tense my muscles or make a face, it’s only making it harder to simply flow with ‘what is’ in that moment.  Life is like that.  Life ‘is’ and there’s a certain amount of being okay with it and not judging it but simply noticing it that is very freeing, liberating.

Someone thinks a lot during meditation time.  No need to fight that.  Simply notice it without assigning a meaning or beating self up in any way.

Someone feels angry.  I’m not saying to act the anger out and of course we shouldn’t totally repress it but one way to handle it is to notice it as simply being ‘what is’ in that moment.  Or maybe for the whole day the feeling is there.  In noticing it one is standing outside of it and this juxtaposition is causing separation from it emotionally.

Just like “the leg’s are burning, let ’em” that happen during my workout.  It is what is and nothing last forever!  ‘It is’ until it isn’t anymore and the less we can attach to it and the more we simply notice it without emotion or resistance, the realization comes clearly that nothing last forever.  That’s the nature of reality:  impermanence.

And impermanence is a blessing.

Acceptance of ‘what is’ in any moment is liberating and elevating.

Judgment of what is in any moment is attachment and suffering.

That’s one difference between Christianity and Buddhism although there are many good similarities as we all know.

Acceptance is surrender and surrender is Divine!

Just my two cents, hoping to have expressed this in a way that’s understandable.

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Disengage Stress, Fear, Anxiety by Knowing the Nature of Reality and other Spiritual Tools

LotusHow do you feel when you think that thought?  Then why think it?  Or is it thinking you?  Even Byron Katie (the great truth teller who essentially teaches Buddhism or  the study of the nature of reality– i.e. “all is thought and attachment”) talks about thoughts thinking themselves.

I love the “meeting them halfway” with understanding quote attributed to Katie who said,

“I don’t let go of my thoughts—I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.”    I really appreciate her teachings and discussions called THE WORK. 

One way to meet them with understanding is to nurture the self that is harmed by them and another is to (as Katie says) question them because in that you question the nature of reality, and just the questioning loosens the grip we have on “the story” as she calls it.

The link below will take you to an interview that I did a few weeks ago where we (Stevie- Sparks Press and I)  discussed some of these very things:

http://www.joystarpsychicastro.com/audio-interview/

You are not alone, neither am I; we all go through these up’s and down’s; forgetting momentarily and remembering.  There’s THE WORK and then various other spiritual tools that we discuss one audio (link above).

Here’s another little blurb that just came into my inbox today; this (quote below) links to these same themes about the nature of reality.  In fact, in the blog post below this one as I discuss my fears (let’s be real, we all have them.  Like Katie says,

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering.”  And that’s Buddhism 101.

And another way to express it all is like this little line that arrived in my inbox from tut.com, who writes a message from “THE Universe”,

” The next time you feel really hurt, really angry, or really, really upset, and you’re sure that even I have been violated, shaken, and humbled, quick, check and see if the sky is any less blue, the sun any less radiant, the birds have stopped singing, or the flowers have lost their scent.” 

Try the link above to the interview for practical earthy tools to use when we “think that thought” and begin to believe it or it infiltrates us without our knowing causing that panic, anxiety and mental crisis.  We talk a wee bit about astrology on the above audio too.

Financial Worries, Fear and the Taming of the Ego-Shrew: Here’s Help to counteract fear and worry

Angel Card of AbundanceCalming the fear – taming of the shrew ego – that’s been tonight’s business.  Am I going to be able to pay next month’s rent while still being able to give my daughter a small (and I do mean small) wedding gift?  Mid-August through mid-September is customarily a slow time with people getting children (and themselves) back to school and college.  I’m not irresponsible when it comes to money.  And anyone who knows me also knows this is ‘the big one’ that I seem to have to deal with every now and again:  survival (money) issues!  O and Lo am I ever so weary of that shrew cropping up now and again at the worst possible times!  Like now.

How do we counteract gripping fear and worry?

And make no mistake, it does have to be counteracted—it can be cripplingly immobilizing and can create near panic.  O maybe it’s not financial issues for you—perhaps it’s your family issue or your health issue or your career issue or some timing issue of some type. No matter—fear is fear; and I’ve learned hope is the flip side of it and isn’t all that helpful in its essence either… hope is just another game of the ego-shrew.

That claustrophobic and trapped feeling that fear instigates can feel pretty intense!   So what to do?

Well, since I just did something that helped, it occurred to me to blog about it in case it may help someone out there in cyber world with their fear in some way too.

Help!  I’m afraid, I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m freaking out… “Holy hemmed-in Batman, what do we do?”

First, it’s best (having learned from experience) if we can catch ourselves before we sink too deep into those feelings.  And that feeling (you know… you’re familiar) is similar to being cast in concrete and drifting into the deep dark ocean.. the abyss.

You know when it’s happening and it’s no use trying to escape through demonstrations of anger or blame and it doesn’t help to try to dull the senses through alcohol, food or drugs—that’s only putting a band aid on it and then you feel worse when you have to rip that bandage off!

The best way to catch that feeling and shift it is to simply think of the part of the universe called potentiality or god or space or expansiveness—start to get a visual of a huge blue ocean or pink sky or the vastness of outer space (think far out where there are 10 galaxies before you).

Now breathe that in and deeply too! And then breathe out the claustrophobic feeling right into that visual of open space.

What helps me is to bring purpose to my suffering of fear by thinking about others—other humans.  People who are in the same situation as myself who are also feeling this way and so now I breathe out for them the claustrophobic fearful paralyzing feelings of despair and fear and I breath it out for myself too—for all of us.

And for all of us I breath in that expansive sky, ocean or place in the universe where the group of galaxies are—whatever visual works for you.

I think it’s good to realize that the expansiveness is full of potential—full of good energy that can make our desires manifest—and with that thought, breathe it in deeply for self and for others.

That first step helps you to feel so much better and gets you out of the grip of the downward spiral.

For myself I find it comforting to grab my divination tools—that helps me focus the energy that I’ve just connected with especially now that I am emptier of the fear.  Not everyone would do this; but because I am a psychic by profession, I happen to have divination tools and I use them to have a talk with myself on all levels that myself exists and with all the Divine Assistants who are… well, assisting.

If you don’t have divination tools like tarot cards or runes or a pendulum or angel cards, simply get a paper and pencil and start journal-ing and in the process of journal-ing, ask your Self one question at a time and intuit the answer—write it all down even if you think you’re making it up; if you are open and sincere, that’s all you need to be.

You will find it is comforting and centering to ask questions and to let the divine intelligence answer.

Pause every now and then and do the expansive breathing and visualization—releasing limiting feelings and breathing in freedom, safety and the type of assistance you require.  Ask and don’t be surprised when it is given.

The ego-shrew will still try to take hold from time-to-time throughout the process, but we are taming the shrew and will not tolerate that interference—just breathe that shrew away! 

Tonight I used my cards and received the informational replies to my questions which felt reassuring and I now feel much calmer.

I asked if my financial situation will improve and received the Yes indicator from my tarot cards and then at the end of the question and answer session I thought to pull one Angel Card and after giving it the good shuffle, I felt the energy indicator (energy surges within me) to stop the shuffle and turn over the top card.

Review:  My overall concern this evening (truthfully, it was gripping fear) had everything to do with money/finances and my shrew-ego had been goading me to worry over my ability to pay next month’s rent, remember?

I had to smile and lean back onto my pillow when I saw the card that came up—it was the Angel Card of ABUNDANCE.  I feel better.

I hope that something written here helped you to feel better too.

Enlightenment Practice #30 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva Including Divination

Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara
Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara

The humble monk (Ngulchu Thogme) wrote the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva it in a cave in the Himalayas around the 13th century.  It’s a guide for travelers on the path to enlightenment—practically advice on how to actually live day-to-day.  Are you trying to consciously travel this path?   Me too; c’mon let’s figure this out!

So like I’ve been saying how I’m going to write about the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva (guidance to live by). You know the Dalai Lama? He is said to be the Bodhisattva of Compassion incarnate. Oh, to be like him! Anyway, I’ve got (like most of you) about 1,000 coals-in-the-fire-of –life’ as the saying goes (busy/whatever) but I want to get started here. So I’m writing numbers from 1 to 37 onto 37 small slips of paper and have now put them in a small basked. I will draw one at a time and write about that one while asking that it bring importance guidance for something currently relating to my life on the day the number is drawn!  Ready?

Divination Message 3/16/13 from the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva:  Today I’ve drawn Practice Number 30!  I don’t know these by heart, so I’ve got to grab the book and have a look; let’s together see what it says.  I guess you already know that a bodhisattva (essentially) is someone who wants to work for enlightenment not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of others in order to end suffering.  You probably already knew that.

Bodhisattva Practice #30

Reading and typing and divining as we go along here… right away I see it’s about virtue with heart.  Maybe this is about putting our whole heart into attempts to be virtuous?

Gosh, I’m remembering (flashing on) something my “spirit-guides” (as it goes) conveyed and at the time (as I did with many things then), I shrugged and felt it to be too simplistic.  You know, I was looking for something more profound after all—I was looking for something really sensational when I asked why I was here and what my purpose is.  I was told we are here to develop and practice virtue—I completely blew that off back then.  Yet, divine irony of irony, here I am studying the 37 Practices and Buddhism and that’s exactly what it’s about!

As I look at this little book of Essential Teachings (the one I carried unknowing with me for 6-weeks –see previous blog—which is the writing of the Dalai Lama himself), he’s talking about having the “right view”.  The word “view” in Buddhism (email me if I’m wrong if you’re a Buddhist monk or someone more expert than myself a humble student) has to do with understanding the nature of reality and the 8-fold path.

“Right View” as they call it has to do with the type of wisdom that has to do with understanding of things as they are which of course has to do with those 4 main truths:  there’s suffering, get real about it and then understand what causes it and the good news is that there’s a way to end it *(yay!) and following the 8-fold path enables us create that cessation.  And back to the 8 fold path again of which right view is a part.  Didn’t we just make a circle, a loop—right view leads back to right view. Ingenious!

Hey, by the way, thanks for being patient while I work through this.

Not to let all the cats out of the bag at once creating confusion but the 8 fold path (just as a preview and curiosity satisfy-er) and no, I’m not going into all this right now but they are as follows:  right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.  But hey, let’s just stick with the view for the moment—right view.  And let’s get back to the #30 practice of a Bodhisattva.

The Dalai Lama the guru teacher here says that this view in practice #30 has to do with realizing that the person who acts in any kind of way to do any kind of thing or who takes any action +plus the action itself that is taken +plus the person who may receive the action that we take don’t (in the right view) actually inherently exist.  Wow, that’s a tough one to explain to the average bear on the street human if you know what I mean!

This IS samsara after all, don’t you know?  This is a dream-like state of reality.  That is what we’re being asked to remember.  Things exist on a conventional level but ultimately—no, they don’t.  It’s really not that hard to understand with the new science where we look at atoms and the core of the atom itself doesn’t even exist only if we put our mind on it.  You know what I mean!?  You’ve heard this!  The chair you sit on or the table or any object is solid according to our perceptions but it is because the vibration is very, very, very slow.  On the quantum physics microscopic level (hope I said that right), it’s nothing but energy molecules vibrating—just a bunch of atoms which are empty at their very core!

So, let’s say you give someone a gift, you could say something like, “There is no giver, no action of giving, no gift, and no receiver of the gift”—that’s ultimate truth.  Conventionally, there is all that, but ultimately NO.  So that’s the right view of things which, if you think about it, is quite liberating and there’s a part of us that says, “Okay, I get that and now I can tell myself to stop worrying about every little thing!”  Or  that’s one view you could take and it would be ‘ultimately’ right, correct, on the quantum or ultimate level.

Whew!  Hope that makes sense.  The bottom line of this practice is:  No subject, No object.

So, what do we do?– we practice this.  We hold this in our mind and remember it and function in life with this view right alongside conventional reality—to practice this it changes our behaviors, our attitudes, and we become a teacher of the dharma (phenomenon and the truth of phenomenon) by our very being via our life being witnessed by others.

Right view is called the word “prajna” in Buddhist teachings.   If we get this one thing, in my humble opinion, it is the best thing we can understand and it really answers most any question we have about life and addresses any concern.  Upset? Worried or fearful?  Remember practice #30 of The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva – understand the emptiness of reality and shazam, this right view just calms it all right down for ya’!  Totally and fer’ real as they say! What is real isn’t real—totally dude! Samsara is an illusion.

Another way of saying it since this practice #30 is the 6th of the Six Paramitas (more on that another time)… the 30th is about cultivating  “non-conceptual superior knowledge” and in the words of the monk himself or at least one common translation:


Without superior knowledge,
it is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment through the first five paramitas alone. Therefore, joining it with skillful means and not conceptualizing about the three spheres is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

And another translation:

Since five perfections without wisdom cannot bring perfect enlightenment, along with skillful means cultivate the wisdom that does not conceive of the three spheres [as real].

Note to reader:  the three spheres in Buddhism are 1) self 2) other and 3) connecting action.

divider3-15-13

THE DIVINATION

Now.  How can I apply this personally in my own daily life?  Ha!  I’m reminded lately of the story of the monk who, so inspired by teachings on generosity, gave away his worldly possessions, two of which included his food bowl and his shoes!  Since his generosity was not accompanied by wisdom he had to ask for them back when it came time to eat and then to go somewhere!  I was very inspirit-ed to work with generosity yesterday in my efforts to be an ‘active’ Bodhisattva!  In other words, it is one thing to wish all beings be relieved of suffering and I do that plenty but what about “putting one’s money where one’s mouth is?”—as the saying goes.

I did that to the point of pain yesterday—giving when it doesn’t hurt really doesn’t count in my book.  If you’re going to give, make it a bit of a sacrifice at least!  So with that attitude, I did so in a fairly large way; in fact, I gulped hard several times in the process thinking, “Yike, I hope I’m not being like the monk who gave away his bowl.”–!!

And today’s Bodhisattva Practice 30 is a great message for me (using the 37 practices as divination messages here)!

I’m being reminded that the 3 spheres of giver, gift and receiver are not ultimately real; self, other and connecting action don’t exist;  and to remember this and embrace it is a practice of a Bodhisattva! 

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara – The Deeper in the Mud, the More Beautiful the Lotus Blooms

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Another Attempt to Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara

Can we really do this?

The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms.  How deep in the mud are you?
The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms. How deep in the mud are you?

Something is being encouraged on deeper levels and something wants to reach up out of the mud of samsara (life/earth living/the illusion of the suffering of this dimension) and is growing and reaching toward the Sun like the Lotus (the flower associated with Buddhism).

The Universe, the Light of Divine Intelligence, the Harmony of Helios or however you want to name it, but some energy encourages this, as it always does and I even carried that encouragement around in my purse/handbag for nearly 5 weeks without realizing it!

And yesterday!  Yesterday I received a reply email communication from a Tibetan Lama (the real Lama, not a secretary!)—my ego is impressed—in which the parting line was, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  And my mind and body froze as if they were my marching orders from the head spiritual warrior!—or something like that.  I felt the directive, the dictate, the command, the instruction, and the order deep within my heart, mind and soul.

“Deny samsara and help others do the same!”–  Aye aye Captain!  I was being given my marching papers or assigned my official mission from a Lama!  Ha!  And the Lama was probably simply just using a phrase to close the email with a customary, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  Sounds like a simple wish to end an email with like “sincerely” or “may you have a nice day”– but for me it stopped my breath and my world for a moment as I swallowed hard and felt like, “Okay, this is IT.” And it’s time to get dead serious about it too!  Especially since each day we get closer by-the-day to those final marching orders too.

Anyway, “dharma” is a word used to describe the teachings—practicing the dharma is doing the spiritual practices, following the teachings of Buddha who—and this is the part I love—said firstly that transformation of the mind is what is needed to alleviate suffering but most importantly he recommends examining the teachings carefully and objectively in order to know if it is something we can work with or live by or adopt.  And secondly, if we do accept the teaching it is because we have done the (here comes my favorite phrase)… we have done the observation and correlation of the teaching.  We apply it and see if there’s any truth to it through our own objective life experience and then if it turns out to be helpful and works for us, then (and only then) do we accept it as part of our own truth.  Then, thirdly, we have the responsibility to put it into practice—to live the teaching.

When we do this, we create “bodhichitta” which is the mind of awakening or the enlightened mind that strives toward compassion for the benefit of all sentient (living) beings. It is a sudden and lasting compassion for all beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently-existing self.  That last part is a kicker and I’ve been working on that one for some good long time now but since the purse-thing, finding that I’ve been carrying around the help for weeks now, is another strong synchronizing “hint” of encouragement.

One day shortly after I broke my toe (don’t ask) and while accompanying my daughter on some errands found myself at our local Goodwill store looking at the dusty old book section (no surprise, right?)  Lo and behold I found a little book with a picture of the Dalai Lama on the front and the book was entitled “Essential Teachings”.  Next thing you know my daughter calls out, “C’mon Mom we’re ready to go, are you ready?”  Making my way to the checkout I pay something like 50 cents for the book, slide it into my purse/handbag and forgot about it.

In the meanwhile, 6 weeks later here, I’m watching a DVD of a Buddhist Lama teaching the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and although it wasn’t the first time I viewed it, and even though I have a good number of Buddhist books on the shelf in my apartment (and have read every one!), this time something really caught hold of me.  That Lama seemed to explain it so well this time when I listened–and it was the very same Lama who gave me my mission via the email signature!

I’ve read the translations of The Middle Way:  Nargajuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika and a number of books like it including quite few on Mahamudra.  We also have ‘A Guide to the Boddhisattva Way of Life” by Shantideva to name a few.  And I’ve spent hour upon hour viewing of teachings on DVD of the Dalai Lama on these very topics and teachings.  This is conveyed, least you think that the path is very new–I’ve been traveling this way for a while and integrating Buddhism gradually.  Anyway, so much for history…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

A few days ago, I thought to blog about the Thirty Seven Practices (dharma teachings) to help myself and others—although I should have phrase that the other way around I suppose; but you get the idea.  And from that thought, I began to wish to have these practices written down in a simple form just the way the Lama spoke about them. Well, I thought, why not look to see what’s out there from the Lama of Lamas:  His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet!  He says things so simply and he makes everything so easy to understand!

I could not find anything online and then had to stop my search anyway to go pick up my niece from her High School Driver’s Education Class.  I didn’t want to be late.  Once I got there,  putting the car in park, and taking a breath, then found myself wishing I had a book along with me to read while I waited for my niece.

Then (light bulb turns on in the mind!) remembering that I had that old book from the Goodwill Store—the one I’d paid 50 cents for so many weeks ago—I smiled and pulled it out.  I looked at the chapter headings and felt so moved and smiled  from my heart seeing how this book by the Dalai Lama contains 37 chapters–each chapter being one of the 37 practices explained in his own simple words!  There it was, just exactly what I was looking for and I had it with me all along.  When the student is ready, the teacher… well, you know.

So I will be working with these now and blogging about them.   Time’s up for now.  If you follow along with future blogs, maybe (just maybe) we can do more to further create a ‘mind of awakening’ as we practice the dharma here.

“May all beings benefit from my practice of the dharma”–just like the Lama says!

Working the graveyard shift of your mind and advice from a spiritual teacher on triggers

ARCHANGEL MICHAELI heard a spiritual teacher once say something very encouraging– in reference to the Native American story that you’ve likely already heard – about the white wolf and the dark wolf inside of us.  Here is the story for quick review if you’ve never heard it:

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 The encouragement from the spiritual teacher is that –well, first of all my own observation.  I see the dark wolf in myself and of course in others; but seeing it in my self is the most painful and disheartening.  It is dispiriting to see others feeding the dark wolf also; and it is for these who have no knowledge of their actions whatsoever that can evoke greatest compassion.  And I say this without a grain of self-righteousness being intended.

I recognize in my past the states of being totally asleep as to which wolf was being fed (to continue with the Native American teaching example)—not to mention knowing that there were two wolves in the first place!  Ignorance is bliss only temporarily for eventually awakening (whether in this lifetime or the next) awakening is bound to eventually occur.

And when that awakening does begin to happen one can be filled with great regret—we see unflattering and embarrassing things about ourselves then and that usually happens at 2 am or throughout half the night!  It all bubbles up and there are, at least in my own experience, cycles or layers of time between these realizations about how the dark wolf was fed—sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly.  The light shines upon our awareness and what we were not conscious of or about (because we were busy feeding the wrong wolf) suddenly comes squarely before us.  We don’t want to look because it is painful.

And sometimes this is where people turn to anything to rid themselves of the pain of sorrow or regret over their mistakes.  Who knows how long this process takes—lifetimes maybe, who knows?  But when we get to the point where we have to acknowledge the two truths, the two wolves, that is when we become awakened or fully conscious of ego and how it operates.

However, even when we ‘are’ conscious and aware of feeding the wrong wolf, there is a period in which we cannot seem to stop ourselves—due to habit (brain patterns/proclivities), prior soul wounds, due to the wiring of our psyche for whatever reason, even when we are conscious that we are doing it and we know we are feeding the wrong wolf we do it anyway!

Now what?  I see this in my self.  I am conscious that the wound has taken over (again) and aware that I am reacting in the old patterned ways which, after all, are only for the purpose of wanting to avoid pain and I see myself doing it anyway!  This is called, in some circles, responding in a patterned way to the trigger!

But now the difference is that we are aware we are doing it and that awareness is 99.999% of the battle that the spiritual warrior fights.  The encouraging news from the spiritual teacher is that success is guaranteed once awareness occurs.  And if you think about it, that makes sense.  Once you know—you know and can no longer ‘not know’.  Once you are conscious, you are conscious and can no longer ‘not be conscious’.  Oh yeah, we can try and that’s called denial but in the end we become conscious of that too—it just causes more pain.

Again, what do we do?  One thing is that this can bring us into great feelings of compassion for ourselves and for others and the general human condition.  We can see in others the struggle they are suffering through because we are currently or have been in that same struggle.  For those who have no level of consciousness about feeding any wolf at all (totally asleep)—and these are often (but not always) the folks that seem to trigger us in the first place—we can have great compassion for them but first we must create that compassion for our own self.  (Both at the same time really in many cases I think.)

What I do is go quiet when triggered and since I’ve moved closer to family and since financial demands have been greater all with impositions on time and energy (well, who amongst us does NOT have concerns like these?)—however, the point being that I’ve been triggered every which way but loose and old ghosts of the past are knocking at the door asking to be fed again!  Each one wanting, no demanding, something different—in moments it becomes overwhelming.  And I’ve had to watch myself dealing with the two wolves—some days more successfully than others; yet always aware.

And again that’s the good news—once we are aware we are guaranteed success but then the success becomes challenged again over and over.  More good news is that we can relax about that too once we know it is simply life and impermanent and always changing!  Like my mother’s wisdom goes:  Hang in there, it won’t last.  I add, hang in there and remain aware, conscious.  Don’t let the dark wolf take over completely by going into denial because eventually that, too, will need to be brought to the light of consciousness and again usually at 2 or 3 in the morning!

So often I think of the people of Tibet and the Dalai Lama and that suffering and the example of the refusal to feed the dark wolf that His Holiness has demonstrated and how much discipline, courage and compassion this required of him individually.  Yesterday was human rights day 2012 and still Tibet is not free; it is heartbreaking if we let our mind take us there… and to be more like the Dalai Lama in the face of that the Chinese takeover that his country suffered… well, he continues to be the example for me.  The Buddhists train themselves purposefully to handle intense fear and to handle death by contemplating both.  I sometimes think of the charnel training that some developing monks are sent by their teachers to do.

I’ve read about this numerous times and heard it referred to in documentaries and so my sensitivity to this is not as strong as it is would be if I were hearing about this the first time.  So this may be a bit shocking to the reader who does not know of this.  That high in the Himalayas the ground is often too frozen to have an actual ground burial when someone dies and burning bodies is not practical because of the situation with trees.  Therefore, the way that the bodies are dealt with after death involve feeding them to the vulcher birds and wild animals after the charnel ground workers chop up the bodies. The charnel ground is much like a very exposed grave yard and to be there at all one is to face great fear from many levels as you can imagine (body parts everywhere and all that) but to be there at night… the monks send the students there to learn to deal with highly intense emotion using various tools of the mind.  Sometimes I wonder if this is why folks get themselves so attracted to graveyard ghost chasing experiences and freakish paranormal phenomenon fascinations and magnetisms.  I wonder if they are not trying to induce their own somewhat milder charnel ground experience in order to teach themselves to remain calm during intense situations—or some degree of this somehow.  I don’t know.  Probably some of that is dark wolf stuff too; we shouldn’t make a blanket statement there.

I’ve heard it said that everyone is (in some way) is either trying to avoid pain or induce pleasure.  I’d like to think we’re a bit more sophisticated than that; but perhaps not. Life is sometimes pleasurable and sometimes painful all on its own.  The question is can we be with it either way without fanning either flame or feeding either wolf?  Can we just sit with that—can we sit with whatever it is that comes up in the charnel ground of life even though the whole time we hear the calls of the hungry dark wolf?  He will quiet down and wander off if we just give it a little time—or so that has been my experience.

twowolvesI think to withdraw and not react for a while until you know how you want to react even if it takes months to make peace with it all—a better alternative than its opposite. Then, of course, we see how life is such a balance of up’s and down’s and irritations and joys and we don’t need to necessarily over-react to any of it.  But if we do over react and are aware we are doing so… the bottom line encouragement is to take heart because once the awareness is there, the good quality we want to substitute will eventually take hold.  Will we ever stop being triggered?  Probably best to expect that we always will be but our response to the trigger, with enough charnel ground practice, will be something we are less attached to.  And then I think too we can trust our response by not labeling it good or bad; we can say that we are acting consciously and in the end maybe that is the best any of us can do.  And that’s staying awake.   Being too strict with ourselves or too forgiving with ourselves–neither one is favorable as Buddha taught.  The middle path is best.  We have to love both wolves but not let either take over!

My own intuition was working as a guide last night when after doing yoga stretches on the floor and being at eye level with the bottom bookshelf (a row of Buddhists books), I noticed a strong attraction to one of the books.  I looked at it for a long time just allowing myself to be sure of the pull from the book; my eyes just kept going back to it in my post-yoga relaxation phase.  Without my glasses on, I could not see the title.  I took it off the shelf, retrieved my glasses to find that the name of the book is The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way – Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika (yes, the last word is really that long and when pronounced  is very beautiful IMHO).  I’m reading some other books and doing my own writing, but there’s something in this book I’m about to revisit!

Tarot Oracle Helps Solve Toad in Cellar Issue – Strange But True Story

5 of Wands
5 of Wands

I have something on my mind… an inner question.  Maybe it’s a silly one.  I have been dealing with issues in the cellar—a long story that I won’t bore you with involving a dehumidifier and a damp, leaky and unfinished half-basement. 

There’ve been salamanders down there—I’ve caught a glimpse of them once or twice in all the years that I’ve been here.  So that is what it is—really a non-issue.  I just go down there to throw in the wet clothes into the dryer and then rush back up.  I have seen this toad though fairly consistently over the past year.  Oh, he’s small really and brown and he’s slow and seems old—doesn’t jump around much and isn’t afraid of people.  He holds his ground.  When the landlord is here or the Exterminator for the mice [which are no longer an issue, thank you] comes, I always ask what they see down there and every answer is the same:  just a little frog. 

Yeah, I think frogs are green and toads are brown but I don’t know for sure—this guy seems like a toad since he’s brown but we’re seeing the same little critter.  I used to stare at him and he at me while I put clothes in and out of the dryer, the whole while saying, “Okay don’t you jump–just stay where you are we’ll be fine—you leave me alone and I’ll do the same”.   

Now that I’ve been going down there to deal with a dehumidifier issue–sometimes several times or more a day I’ve been down there lately.   And of course, each time I see Samuel.  Yeah, I name things and so I call out to him when I’m there, “Hey Sammy where are you?”  Or “Sam, what-z up dude?”   Now, I don’t know why I think this little brown toad is an old male, but that’s my delusion maybe.

I’ve been thinking about him lately and wondering if he is in a hell-realm there and if I should find a way to scoop him up somehow and take him outside.  What’s he eating down there?  Maybe crickets or spiders or something and of course the leaky basement provides some water for him when it rains.  But now with a dehumidifier down there, maybe I’m messing with his ecosystem?

How would he do outside?  He’s been in that hell-of-a-realm for a good while and he’s slow and maybe sick… could the outdoors be worse for him?  After all, who am I to interfere with Sam’s karma?  

I think of a Buddhist teaching about how our ego/personality mind will create problems where none exist or will worry just to give itself a job to do if you don’t give it something better to do. 

And I do have better things to do.  I need to get a life, right?  I have a lot of home and yard projects and my psychic work and other things that I’d like to call “a life”.  I want to get this issue with Sammy the toad out of my mind!  I’m going to turn to the tarot cards—believe it or not—to ask what to do about Sammy.  Should I leave him alone or try to get him out of the hell-of-a-realm, scooping up and escorting him outside?  Maybe ole’ Sam has lived down there longer than I have –maybe he was born down there and maybe didn’t just somehow hop in around a weak cellar window by mistake.  Who knows?

The bottom line question:  With all things considered, is it best if I leave this toad alone?  What should I consider about that?  Okay, so I am going to grab my cards because I just want this to be resolved in my mind and I’ve decided that I will go by whatever the oracle says here!  So, let’s shuffle….

O boy!  5 of Wands [image above].  A guy in a boat, surrounded by stormy water.  My first thought is that this toad got washed into the cellar somehow during a storm.  Actually, I am thinking of that year when we had the remnants of Hurricane Irene… there was a lot of water.  So, apparently, he’s been down there for years.  I was only renting here for about a year or so when the rainy leftover’s of hurricane Irene came through here.

Listen, hold on a second… I have to put some seed in the bird feeder outside.  I put a day’s worth in during the morning hours because otherwise, this raccoon that looks like a big dog (I swear he looks like a German shepherd dog size-wise) comes by at night and eats it all. I’ve caught him red handed.  I tap on the window when I see him and he sheepishly walks away!  Anyway, the birds are calling…be right back.

Aside from the 5 of Wands being about unnecessary hassles, petty annoyances and trivial issues, I still don’t know what to do.  However, I do feel the card guided me to an understanding of how the toad got there to start with.   It seems that this card is telling me not to worry about it… that it’s a trivial issue. 

Actually, I already know that.  I just want to know if the toad is suffering I guess.  Let me shuffle again.  It doesn’t seem like a healthy environment down there… not much light coming in.  Don’t toads need sunlight?  Maybe I should google toad information but that is going to get my mind in even a worse tangle I’m sure!

I’m going to a yes/no format with my cards now… aces are indicators of a yes.  Is the little guy suffering by being in the cellar environment?  Yes or No?  (I added the words “by being in the cellar environment” at the end because while he may be suffering because all sentient beings do, my question is made more specific by adding the words in quotations to make the question more specific.)   Or we could ask:   Is the suffering of this sentient being increased by being in the cellar I like that wording better.

YES Answer; Ace in 3rd Pile is YES indicator
YES Answer; Ace in 3rd Pile is YES indicator

Oh, shoot!  Darn.  I got a YES answer to that question—Ace in the 3rd stack.  And in the other two stacks of 13 cards, the top cards [which can also be ‘read’] are ‘The World’ and ‘4 of Wands’.  Gee, the 4 of Wands is about being outside of the home and happy.  And ‘The World’ is about ending/completion.  I’m starting to get the feeling that I should find a way to scoop up the toad and get him outside.  Maybe I will wait until my grandson comes to help me with that drama/trauma.  I don’t want to hurt Sammy, you know? 

Well, let me ask another Yes or No Question.  If this toad’s suffering is increased by being down in the hell-of-a-realm basement, shall I then scoop him up and take him outside?  Maybe he’s used to it down there and to take him outside would increase his suffering or a predator could get him; after all, he doesn’t hop much.  Geesh.  What a can of worms my mind opened up here! 

Okay, so shall I scoop him up and out?  Yes or No?  Well.  I get a NO to that one with a very weak, well yeah maybe indicator—an Ace [of Swords] in the 2nd pile.   The Ace in the 2nd pile is saying, “Well, you could but really no you shouldn’t.”   That’s the way this Yes/No spread works-the rules.

NO Indicator:  No Ace in 3rd Pile
NO Indicator: No Ace in 3rd Pile

You know I think that this frog’s fate [or this toad trouble]  is a doomed destiny either way and maybe we should let him die a natural death where he’s used to his surroundings and where he won’t be beat up worse [9 of Wands].  He seems to be coping down there.  The landlord may be sending some workers to clean up some building materials that were down there since I moved in.  I will tell them to be careful of the toad if they see him; hopefully he will go hide away from the workers.  The other 2 cards I received were 9 of Wands and 5 of Pentacles [Coins].  Yeah, you can see the contemplation that I’m doing about this reflected in the 5 of Pentacles and the 9 of Wands is probably a reflection of the beat up toad [I’m not sure but he may be missing a leg; thus the hopping problem] and also it is me beating myself up over this issue.  LOL 

I send him love and healing now and am not afraid of him hopping toward me like I used to be.  He may have lost a leg when he traveled via the gutter system during the storm.  Bless his heart.  I’d forgotten that — I had that thought last night when I saw him hop while I was down there; it was a strange hop and he sits tilted.  I think one of his legs is gone. 😦

I would like to bring him sunlight as a gift and a green lawn.  Last night I did leave a light on down there… I mean what the heck, light is light even if it is artificial.  Like I said, bless his heart. 

Maybe you will send him a little love.  Yeah, I know, he’s only a little brown toad with only one leg but all sentient beings deserve to be free from suffering. 

Now, I have settled this issue.  The cellar increases his suffering, yet I should not try to scoop him up to take him outside—we should let him remain in his familiar environment because either way, his journey on Earth is about over.  There are several indicators — the 9 in the of Wands; 9 indicate endings. And the other indicator of the end of the line for this toad is the card of  The World–the last card of the major arcana; the card indicating a completed cycle. 

It is more humane not to traumatized him further through my act of scooping him up and putting him outside; he’s used to [accustomed to] his present environment and is probably coping the best as he can–just the same as we all are. 

May he, and all sentient beings, be free of suffering!

Daily Divination 10-7-11 New Job? New Town? Is it a Pattern? When in Rome, Are You… ? I-CHING Kua 56 The Wanderer

You move totally away from reality when you believe that there is a legitimate reason to suffer~Byron Katie

As soon as I saw the image [to the left], I thought of Sagittarius – that gypsy and travel part of Sag.  The other thing that came to mind was that famous phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 

Today I learned about someone I know who has lost her job–again!  It’s not any one who turns to me (my services) for advice or guidance; in fact its someone who is rather convinced that my psychic work is associated with the devil.  Sigh!  And its someone who believes (factually in her own words) that trials and tribulations come from the christian jesus and is asking jesus to stop the pattern of giving her life these repeating problems. Yeah, right?  I know!  I’m saying wow and shaking my head too.

Ever meet someone who you so much wish to help while knowing you must be asked, you cannot take over their free will?  Someone who believes that god is punishing and victimizing them?  It’s so frustrating.  What can we do?  We can only envision them healed, whole and happy and try to energize that picture for them I suppose. (And like I do often here, take my frustrating moments and use them as teaching moments.)

And then ask what is the lesson in this for me personally?  Why did this come before me and frustrate me?  And so, until I figure it all out, I use these things as teaching moments especially when they align so perfectly with the I-CHING Kua draw of the day as so happens today.

I came across a quote recently by David Hawkins that sort of sums up religious distortion.  He wrote the following about the fundamentalist sects of any religion about the jealous, vengeful and angry god:

The god of righteous negativity represents a glorification of the negative, and provides for his followers a disavowal of responsibility through justification of human cruelty and mayhem. — Power vs. Force, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David Hawkins

New in town? New on the job? It can be destabilizing and trigger all of our insecurities—change really does trigger self-doubt or anxiety.  Sometimes, in error, we can overcompensate when we feel out of place—we really want to keep it all together but go about it the wrong way; therefore, we can sometimes try too hard and come off  appearing like a misfit instead.   This comes from our own inner insecurity malfunction.

There is wisdom in the advice of the I-CHING Kua 56 called “The Wanderer” or “The Traveler” or as I’d like to call it the gypsy part of Sagittarius.  And that advice is to do as the Romans do and for goodness sake when you’re new to town or to a job,  don’t ‘put down’ the unfamiliar in order to compensate for your own insecurity by trying to feel superior.

Whether it is being a newcomer to a town or  a job or a family (whatever it may be), it is always wise to create a respectful and friendly atmosphere by being sincere in unpretentious—just be yourself in sincerity and hang back to learn the new environment while being respectful to yourself and to others.  Give yourself and other people the gift of grace and time.

Many of the readers of this blog already know this (preaching to the choir I’m sure)  but I am thinking about a particular person/ situation as I write this.  Besides, there might be someone else who can relate to this in a helpful way—so I will continue in that spirit, if I may.

Sometimes, when we are new to town or to the apartment building or to the job, we will be a curiosity to others and maybe even one or two humans could pick on us a little bit to see what we’re made of—that’s human nature.  Avoid challenging established order,  but of course if your boundary is transgressed speak up while respecting others.

We are all wanderers in one way or another on the journey of life.  Seasoned travelers know how to adapt and keep to themselves in the right timing and how to blend with others in the right way.  They also have learned the value of a sense of humor and about the avoidance of arrogance at all costs.  A very valuable took that I read in my teenage years was, “How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies“.  I’d bet there are still copies around.  I can’t remember the context of the material in that book after all these years; however, I do remember it helping me out a great deal regarding human interactions.  I think I was in high school when I read it or maybe age 17 or 18 years old.

Personally, I think that a good way to move through life is to do so in such a way that when you have moved through the town, the relationship, the job or even this lifetime, others will speak well and kindly of you (about you) when you’re gone. 

When in Rome... etc. Also, do others speak well of you after you've left?

Also,  I think that to meet others more than half way (giving more than half) when possible is a good idea. People can feel where your heart is even if you’re words are not spoken aloud.  Of course, I shouldn’t even have needed to type that last sentence— apologies to the reader for the redundancy and overstating the obvious. Some people, however, don’t know about any of these simple common sense concepts and they are having difficulty on their travels.

Some of us may be meant to wanderers as part of our karma or choice —some of us go from one job (or relationship or town) to the next continually–who are we to speculate as to why this might be?   Perhaps there is a divine plan of which we are unaware.  Maybe you have chosen an accelerated path and part of that is to have many changing experiences.  HOWEVER, if you are continually being asked to leave jobs and as a result you are not able to function or meet your  survival needs, and if this happens over and over again, ask yourself if  you are repeating patterns.   And when you are escorted out the door of employment (being fired from your job for the umpteenth time) while you blame jezuz or god (or whomever) for being tough on you (“blessing you with trials and tribulations”) and if you are not taking any responsibility, playing the victim… can you not see there is a pattern there for which your own behavior or decisions (free will) could be playing a part?  I’m just sayen’. Is it really fair to always blame god?  What about self-responsibility?

Not all people who move frequently or change jobs often have done something wrong.  Perhaps you are someone who enjoys such change, seeing it as an adventure and an opportunity for another new experience, then so it is.  I guess it’s all in the attitude.

However, if you feel victimized, consider your role in the plot.  The bottom line is that when any of us finds ourselves in changing conditions (no matter how they came about), it is best to do as the Romans do (at least at first) when in Rome.   When first in Rome, release arrogance, be honorable, respectful and modest and if you want to be a permanent resident, smile and don’t put on any airs.  Journey with your eyes open and take responsibility and make corrections rather than blame the gods.

PS– and should the reader assume that I claim to be in any state of enlightenment … (not hardly).  Someone asked the Dalai Lama that question once (if he is enlightened) and he at first laughed and then said if that was true he wouldn’t be here.  (I’m just repeating what he said.)  Anyway, the point is that I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and have (hopefully) learned from (some of) them.  I’ve seemed to attained my best learning the hard way many times. And like you, am a work in progress.

But… you want to hear something strange on that topic?  It’s not me who is doing any of it really, I’m just watching while agreeing to participate and finding the humor and the irony and the anguish sometimes to–but none of it is really me.  That is, unless I make it too real; do you know what I mean?  How real do you make your life?  And how well do you hold it lightly in balance?  This paragraph is about a few random thoughts that may have nothing to do with Kua 56, The Wanderer–or maybe they do?  After all, I just wandered!

Kua 56 of the I-CHING, The Wanderer, brings a message about how to travel and that is with grace and with humor.  When you are a stranger in a strange land, it is you who must take some responsibility for your behavioral actions; don’t be blaming it all on a punishing god somewhere outside of YOU.  I’m just sayen’.

See you next time…

Hope your weather is good; here the mountains are starting to have deeper color (leaves changing) and it is quite beautiful.