The Gates of Hell in My Own Backyard
Sometimes life here in N. New Mexico can be so peaceful and dreamy it feels like you're in a steady-state of altered consciousness (might also have something to do with sadhana :). But sometimes it can be so hellish that it shocks you with the full force of it.
I was awakened last night at 1am to my dog barking and barking and barking. He's not typically of that ilk so I went out back to check it out. A ferrel cat that I've seen around the neighborhood before--even in my garage once--was in the backyard fighting my huge chow chow dog! And this cat was NOT backing down. I tried spraying them both with water to stop the fight--nothing. Meanwhile this cat is scratching and clawing and hanging on to Vinnie's head as he spins around and around trying to shake it off. It was such a surreal and traumatic scene--apocalyptic even.
When I realized there was nothing I could do but wait for the fight to end, I went inside and watched TV. They finally quieted down around 3 am. I decided to just go directly to sadhana. So, these musings fall on the heels of no sleep--please take them with a grain of salt as I know you always do.
As I reflected on the scene, I had to ask: What the hell? Was I witnessing the last gasp of my own beast being played out in front of my eyes? My own inner demons come to life in this scrawny cat that didn't even react to water, or screaming or stones or anything! I realized my own attachment to my dog's safety (would he get rabies from this ferrel thing) and then somehow compassion awakened in me. I thought of my own inner darkness, my own inner demons, and softened a bit. How wild, how fearful, how intensely full of life this cat was, even in the face of starvation, abuse, and neglect. How my own demons must be terrified of being cut off, set free. Their entire existence wrapped up in my old identity, my old patterns and habits.
I sit here writing and realize that demons or not, I am whole. Everything is a part of me; I'm not pushing anything away nor am I clinging to anything that's ready to move along. I'm breathing. I'm witnessing it all. And I'm no longer afraid to look. I'm no longer terrified of what I might find. My own strength to create, to sustain and to destroy gives me courage--even if I couldn't watch the spectacle last night--too terrifying--I can watch my own mind. I'm not afraid of those dark corners--they are my gift: my desire to live--and one hopes, my readiness for death.
May you recognize yourself
in all things
May you live
letting everything in
And in that mirror
that is life, in all its complexity,
may you see your Self
and may compassion be awakened in you
that you may know fullness
May you allow
all that is--
hell and heaven
good and bad--
and greet the inexhaustible,
with a resounding
A Journey Ends
and another one begins. . . .the Level One Immersion 2008 is over--hallelujah! I'm so exhausted, I don't even have words. I'll miss the energy that the level one students brought to the community, but it will also be nice to cozy up into the fall weather and reconnect to friends; go see some live music, walk around naked in my house again, and in general, just be with myself.
Although, if I'm really honest, I can't quite just be with myself right now. My mind and heart are now occupied--it's a peaceful occupation, but an occupation (preoccupation) nonetheless. It's cliche to say, "when you finally quit looking, you're found" But I'm happy to say I just might be living that particular cliche right now. We'll see. Guru will have his way--or that is my prayer anyway--but meanwhile, concentration is nonexistent. I just want to play!
However, concentration or no, there's board meetings next week, planning workshops for the following weekend, and an entirely new set of projects and priorities to put into place for 2009--oh! and there's love; mustn't forget about love. Exciting stuff!
Remember when you were fearless?
Nirbhao. . . .Fearless
from Nanak's Japji Sahib, the Mul Mantra, a name of God--a description of our own divine nature--fearless.
I remember when I was a kid, my family and I went to Washington DC for my sister's graduation trip. I was 9; she was 18, my brother was somewhere in the middle. We rented a motor home and drove the entire way, listening to my mother and father argue about why his clothes hadn't been packed and what would she do without the beauty parlor for 3 weeks. Meanwhile, my grandpa taught us all how to play poker and we gathered wild strawberries from the side of the road as we hiked through the Appalachian countryside. Once we arrived in the big city, I was like a volunteer tour guide. Running toward the underground and figuring out the routes, how to pay, etc., absolutely fearless.
It takes my breath away now to remember how fearless I was. Where did it go? What reigned it in? And can I ever get it back?
If I'm really honest, much of it was my leonine bravado--constitutional, with a little bit of emotional compensation thrown in for flavor. But there was also true and absolute fearlessness--invincibility--that somehow got lost along the way to adulthood.
As I reflect on it, my fearlessness became recklessness, which became a kind of madness--and once I reached the other side of madness, in pursuit of a life, a mature life, somehow the truth of my fearlessness never quite resumed its course. I became careful, cautious. Friends would look at me and say, "When did your world become so small?" (Twenty square blocks to be exact.) And I would reply, this is what my life looks like now; this is what surviving means--staying somewhere in the middle of my extreme tendencies.
But years of caution, carefully tiptoeing around myself and others, left me with a bitter, dry taste in my mouth. And years of heartache and grief left me a bit too salty. So when something sweet and full of life crossed my path recently, I had to ask myself--am I fearless enough to receive it? Do I still have it in me to jump? After all this time, can I still fly?
Minneapolis Here I Come!
If you live in the Twin Cities area, I'd love to see you at the events scheduled the weekend of September 11-13th!
Thursday night, 6:00 p.m. at the Midtown Global Market Chant for Peace event
Friday and Saturday workshops at Center for Happiness and Saturday evening Chanting Workshop at Minnehaha Yoga.
The Workshop at Center for Happiness is Saturday afternoon. I'll be discussin the new Man to Man--The Complete Teachings of Yogi Bhajan for Men, which I worked on quite extensively this year--everything you've ever wanted to know about men but were afraid to ask.
I'll also be doing a kirtan event at Center for Happiness Friday evening--cozy, intimate evening with myself and Emily Graves--your local musician and healer coming into town to help me out!
The Workshop at Minnehaha Yoga will be Saturday evening and focus on Chanting and the Naad. How to open up your voice and allow the bliss! Be prepared for movement, meditation and chanting.
Hope to see you there!
Turning a page
Wow, I didn't realize how long it's been since I've written. Since my last post, I've turned 40; written 2 business plans (and 1 more to go); my father fell and broke his hip; I've fallen in deep crush; and am generally sooo busy I don't have time to breathe, much less catch up on all my favorite shows, eat ice cream, or have coffee with my girlfriends.
But as busy as it's been, I still feel energized and relaxed--good. As hard as it is to hear of my father's fall, I trust that it's all a part of God's will. And as giddy as it is to be in crush, I also know it too will come to an end--or a different kind of beginning; so I'm just trying to keep up and stay within the flow of life--as it comes and as it goes.
Turning 40 wasn't as hard as I expected. It helps to be so busy you can't really think about it-smile! It also helps to be healthier than I've ever been, more contented than I've ever been, and moving into a new phase of life that will open incredible new doors to me--Teaching and Training and Singing all over the world.
Keep up! and I'll have more time to write in September. . . .