"Lotus Opening" by L. Folk

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Meditation Blog, installment 2

February 4, 2011

The Chodrin reading for this morning:

All around us the wind, the fire, the earth, the water, are always taking on different qualities; they're like magicians. We also change like the weather. We ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon. We fail to see that like the weather, we are fluid, not solid. And so we suffer. We make ourselves really solid. Resisting is what's called ego.

This is all well and good, but in the human world we are governed by not only ego on the inside, but ego on the outside. Take American Idol, for instance, or dancing with the stars, or even the game Rock Band. Take the Academy Awards and the red carpet. Take, please, if you will, reality shows. Take competition and ivy league schools. Taking blogging, for that matter. Take it all. This is our push, push, ego-centric, me-society. We all want to be stars. We all want to be heard. It's not so easy to be fluid, when you have everything in your face telling you you must succeed, that to be American, you should be a star. The Muslims may have Mecca, but we have Hollywood. That's where the American gods live. Even DC is joining in on the action. Newscasters don't look like newscasters anymore; they're competing as well. They look like actors and actresses. Look at me! Look at me!
So you have to shut it off. You have to come back to yourself, sit on the bolster on your mat and what are you faced with? The inside ego. Yours. Why am I not good enough? Why don't I make more money? Why don't I have a child? So what do we do, Pema, when ego in a society has gotten way out of hand? When ego has become so inflated we don't recognize that we can wax and wane? That our natures are really like the wind? Well yes, you would tell us to come back to the mat. And wait for ego to rise and set. And we do this. But then we go out into the world and we experience the same external ego bullshit as before, and it's an endless cycle of trying to curb ego.
Like a crow who flies through the icy morning air over blankets of white, I want to just be.

February 5, 2011

Mother Theresa said for many years she was filled with doubt that God existed. She went along with her great facade, aiding the poor and all the while felt nothing. She was in a desert, a spiritual desert because she saw no results. I have often thought how I sense nothing for God; I feel no presence, especially when things turn sour and I have struggled and worked and have not been rewarded, or at the very least, validated. Life feels like it has no shape; I start believing the worst, that it is all for naught, that what I presume has purpose is meaningless.
After work, I went to my sister's place and we had lunch. I brought some MacDonald's French fries and she made a salad and we ate at her counter. Afterward, we pet cats and looked at the ocean with our feet up. We talked about some people, we relaxed and looked at the birds on the water, the gulls and buffleheads bobbing up and down with the waves. There was no one on the beach and the water was a deep, deep blue. The cats lounged beneath our fingers and purred. We drank hot chocolate and had no other care in the world. I imagined we could do this together with babies in our bellies, resting and feeling our bodies change. But I also felt somewhat guilty we could do this and there were so many other people stressed out, working and pushing their way through their lives.
Afterward, I felt rejuvenated, and took Josie for a walk in the woods. The sun was setting and the sky was turning streaks of purple and pink. The light in the sky felt like promise of good. Josie and I were the only ones in the woods and I took the high road, the long way around and walked the escher along the lake, virtually walking on the top of the snow. I felt empowered and muttered, “Power to Women! Power to Women! With every step.
Sometimes I push through the walk with Josie and don't even notice the trees. I want to get it over with and get back home in the warm house. But yesterday was different, I noticed the sky, the shapes of the trees, how the snow coated the trunks, how the snow lay heavy on bowed limbs.
In meditation today, I had all sorts of buzzing thoughts about how to be great. I labeled this ego. I started to breathe deeply and watched my breath. I felt then, that God was in my breath; I felt then a deeper sense of something, and of peace.
Maybe God isn't a superhero. Maybe it's ego that expects him to be the savior of the poor and the ailing and the dead.

February 6, 2011

Doubt is real. Case in point: you go to see a movie, maybe it's a lovestory or an adventure packed thriller. You come home all gushy or all pumped up. You go to church, you come back and feel holy. Do we just throw out this emotion on response? Is ritual sacred, or is it just a conditioning of the mind? Our minds are very good at conjuring things up. Did we make up God too? We made up religion, sure; mind made up religion just mind made up the space shuttle.
Maybe the mystics were schizophrenics. But maybe schizophrenia is an aberration of the normal responses; a medium that makes communing with God most available.
Doubt argues for an external response. Sort of like Newton's Second Law. At some point, at some time there must be an external response that pushes your life in a different direction and wakes you up. The religious argue faith, but faith is only relevant if something at some point happens to bring awakening so that the faithful recognizes God. You can't manufacture your own love for God and then go your whole life on faith and nothing wakens you. Then, as far as the mechanics of doubt are concerned, you have every right to be an atheist.
One might argue that mind, stuck in its groove, would not allow for awakening. Sort of like my walking in the woods without really seeing the trees. This is why I believe in meditation. I must believe in meditation. Maybe it can bring you to that place beneath ritual, beneath breath where there is the stunning ecstasy of life. Maybe God resides there.

February 7, 2011

Well, the stunning ecstasy of life was surely not available to me this morning. All I wanted to do was go back to bed. My mind wriggled in and out of thoughts; it all felt quite useless, to sit on a bolster on a mat and try and meditate. But I did remember something to add to yesterday's entry: Mount Paul.
Mount Paul was a novitiate for Paulist priests in the woods of New Jersey where we used to live. The novitiate had a chapel, was located in the mountains near a lake and if ever there was a place for God's spirit, it was there. There was a long windy road you had to take to get there and I remember the cold winter mornings we all piled in the truck to go and hear mass in the chapel which only fit about fifty or so people. Worshipping in the middle of the woods with no sound of civilization near by, with wonderful guitar song filled with spirit and homemade baked bread that tasted like wheat and honey, I felt the presence of God. During the wishing of peace, people got out of their pews and walked over to one another and hugged. The young men were often kind, some wayward drifters, some devoted to God, some just experimenting. Some we got to know, would have over the house for dinner. Others made our acquaintance and then disappeared and were never to be seen again. But they all seemed human in their endeavors. Searchers. Real.
Mount Paul called to mind what Christ said, “when two or more of you gather in my name, I will be there as well.” I don't feel this way in the mass for the masses. I just want to get it over with because my back aches, or the strangers around me make me anxious. I just feel like a nameless person in a sea of other nameless people trying to tie one on with God. One might say, well, you need to get involved to know the people, but I have tried this as well, and it is simply not as easy to find the Spirit as it was at Mount Paul.
I don't know where my Mount Paul is these days, but I do know you can find God in other people in the form of love. There is that saying “when two or more of you...” I believe it. So what I said about feeling holy when coming out of church yesterday, perhaps I was oversimplifying things.

February 8, 2011

Lessons in Virtuosity
My dog catches
a scent as we go
walking amidst
the tall firs.
Snow, pure and lightening
has buried these woods
in a sacred shroud.

Here, mind recoils
a creature who's just been stung.

I wait while it waits
for instructions
on manipulating silence.

But the firs,
they know
and my dog, she follows.

They are confident
in this wide Earth's ways

in the rising of the sun
and the setting of the moon
and the bow and curtsy
with the wind.

Mind listens
but we are not privy
to lessons in virtuosity.

There is elation
in movement only
in a landscape balanced
by cold.

February 9, 2011

The Child Behind the Wall

So let's tell it straight.
They send him into a room
to do his thing,
grab his weight in cash.
I've got my legs spread
for a gelled dildo and plastic
umbilical chords.
The monitor displays screens
of pixeled shadows.

Optimistic folk
tell me about a 45 first,
the blessing of twins
and Baby Jay,
but their stories are as stale
as a decade's crumbs.

They told me you would come
two years ago now
An herbalist's tricks might
prod this old fruit.
But I've drawn no door
in the wall through which
to call you home.

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