Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: February 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Post Valentine Cautionary Tale

Let me first say that yesterday was the best valentine's day I've ever had. Relaxed, spontaneous, fun followed by full moon, cake and more fun. But I also spent many, many years alone on Valentine's and I know it can be hard. So for all of you out there still praying, still longing, still looking for "the one" here's a cautionary tale just for you: Wanting to be with someone is ubiquitous, the quintessential desire shared by all living beings. I too experienced that longing, for a looooooong time, until I gave it up. But until I gave up the longing, or rather, redirected it toward the infinite, I did everything anyone told me to do in order to attract a mate. I feng shuied my house, I painted my bedroom a horrific pink color, I bought a Krishna, I created vision boards, I wrote lists and put them on my altar, I meditated, I sang, I joined the online sites, I went hiking (terrible idea), I sat in coffee shops for hours, I read every book, I went to therapy, I exercised, I didn’t exercise. There isn’t much I didn’t try until I quit trying. One of the most common practices in our dharma is the recitation of Sopurkh. A part of Rehiras, the evening prayer, women recite it 11 times in order to bring out the God-man in their own man. I don’t want to put anyone off of the practice, but I do think it’s important to know the purpose and the possible effects if practiced outside that purpose. Many women, like myself, practice Sopurkhs in order to call a man into their life. And for many it has worked. For me? Not so much. I practiced Sopurkhs every day for almost a year. I had profound sensory experiences while I practiced it; I felt everything. My body was more alive and attuned than it had ever been. I felt awake in a whole new way. But unfortunately, what I attracted was the same old same old. I was notorious for choosing the wrong guys. It’s a story that’s been told before by so many, so I’ll spare you the details here. But I will say that the unique thing about this particular “wrong guy” was that he was clearly a samskara, that is, a karmic imprint. To the point that when I introduced him to my sister, she turned to me and said, “Oh, it’s X” That is, the man I had had a crush on when I was 10 years old. I had called into my arcline the very projection—physical manifestation and character—of a man I’d had a childhood crush on 25 years prior. All of my attachment, all of my fantasy, all of my expectations, wishes and dreams were wound up in a particular form and projection—and I had called him in. And my sister named it the moment she laid eyes on him. This particular samskara burned so hot and fast that I was pure bone by the end of it. It was a gift; just not the gift I expected. It was a cleansing, a purification, of the highest order. I often think back to those days when I was filled with hope and I practiced those Sopurkhs with such devotion. And I’m grateful actually. Because even though the practice didn’t bring me my God-man, the samskara of that attachment burned me so completely that when my own God-man finally arrived (after practicing Mangala Saaj Bhai-aa) I was clear. Crystal clear. There was nothing of me to get in the way. It was pure surrender. And now I occasionally do Sopurkhs for my husband to support his grace and his strength as a man—my very own God-man. So, by all means, practice Sopurkhs for the men in your life. But be cautious about practicing it in order to call a man into your life because the purification that the divine requires in order to actually manifest as your very own God-man can be the most painful process you’ll ever encounter. Still—I have to say, when my God-man did come, I couldn’t have envisioned who and what he is to me. He is 100, no a 1000 times more, than I would have ever had the courage to ask for. So in the end, maybe it was worth it. But don't say I didn't warn you!

Monday, February 03, 2014

No Such Thing as Enough

The loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has struck many as the tragedy it is. And I suppose I'm just one more voice in the chorus of "why?" But I can speak a bit to the experience of being in the throws of addiction. In fact, just the other day I was out with friends listening to music. I asked my husband to bring me a glass of water and he returned with a glass that was 3/4 full. I looked at him and said, "This is how I know you're not an alcoholic. You didn't fill it up to the top." And his response was typically non-alcoholic: "It seemed like enough." I turned to my friend and we both just laughed because there's no such thing as enough in our world. And that is the world of addiction--without recovery, that is. And even with it sometimes. Mr. Hoffman was a creative genius, which has been widely recognized. So I don't need to speak to that here. But I will speak to the pressures of creative genius on the alcoholic mind. You see, in the world of the alcoholic, we're either everything or nothing: "I may be a piece of shit but I'm all I think about." That low-self esteem combined with such grandiosity combined with true genius and unmitigated shame is the quixotic cocktail that shapes the life of an artist who's also an addict. And just because we stop, doesn't mean the thinking stops, which is often why we pick up again. Sometimes the pain becomes so great that we turn to the familiar, the "comfortably numb." And it is that search for oblivion that is the hallmark of all addictive behavior whether it's food, sex, drugs or the old familiar, alcohol. It's hard to imagine the life of such a man is now over, gone in an instant, a moment of darkness and despair, or simply a dull ache on its journey to numbness, the search for a way not to feel quite so much--feelings are the one thing that is more than enough. Sensitivity is at the root of creative genius but it's also a root cause of addiction. We are wired to respond more quickly and with more feeling than people who aren't addictive. And that wiring has its inherent gifts and its contingent curses. The only way out is to tie our sensitivity to service, our emotion to devotion, our darkness to a light that is inextinguishable. May we all find that light, live the light and be the light. May we become so bright that the shadows of addiction are consumed in the fire of love. And may we no longer try to fill that gaping hole within with anything other than the divine name of the One.