Experience The Miracle

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

From the archives: Pidgeon Pier. This painting is about paying attention

“It has become my view–my faith–that all elements of nature have that power to produce peace. It is surely why so many are drawn away from their urban lives and back to natural places. But those places need not be grand scenic vistas. The same peace can be found in the dandelion growing in the nearest vacant city lot.

It is, in the end, a choice either to “shut up and listen” to these sources of strength–no matter how great or humble or where we encounter them–or to hurry on by.”

~Master Jim Marsh in a comment about my post, Sit By The River

There was a cool breeze off the lake this morning that slowed the mounting humidity. We were a mile into our usual morning walk, rounding the path to the rocky lakeshore, when we entered the storm of dragonflies. There were hundreds of them, hovering just above our heads, occupying a narrow band that stretched as far as the eye could see!

I gasped and stopped! Never in my life had I seen so many dragonflies. Kerri said, “They come out when the weather has been hot and without rain.” Before continuing on our way, we stood for a few moments appreciating the hovering, the methodical zigging-and-zagging. Until our path deviated from the coast, they were with us, green and purple spirits, riding the air-line where earth meets water. For me it was pure magic.

Many years ago, as a way of ending our relationship, a woman told me that it was too hard to be with a mystic. I’d never before (or since) thought of myself as a mystic so I looked it up to make sure I understood why a mystic might not be easy to live with:

Mystic (noun): a follower of mysticism.
Mysticism (noun):
1. Belief in intuitive spiritual revelation,
2. Spiritual system,
3. Confused and vague ideas.

I laughed aloud when I read the three definitions of mysticism; the third definition applied to the previous two! I left my dictionary with two beliefs:

  1. All human beings are mystics if they simply slow down and pay attention. There’s no trick to it. And, that was certainly the problem in my relationship: I have always liked walking slowly in a world drunk on racing to the next big thing. That is hard to live with!
  2. The line between a spiritual revelation, a cathartic experience, a scientific eureka, or an artistic visit from the muse, seems to me, to be semantic. In our age of the intellect we generally run from the word intuition unless we apply a label like “gut instinct” (transforming a feminine energy to a masculine gut) or “I just knew it!” (transforming the scary clarity of an intuitive feeling into a safe clarity of an intellectual experience). It’s all wordplay.

Hearts know. Thoughts babble. And the only way to sort it all out is to stand still, stop the babbling, and see the miracle.

Look Up

Eve, by David Robinson

Eve, by David Robinson

The nights have been bitter cold and clear. The cold always seems to make the stars sharp like crystals. Standing on the back deck, looking at the stars, I remembered a conversation I had years ago. I was working with students and we strayed into a discussion of human beings connection to the stars. It was cosmology in a nutshell.

Here was the gist of the conversation: something happened to human consciousness when they (we) understood that our patterns of life on earth were (are) oriented to happenings in the sky. For instance, our impulse to worship is intimately connected to the solstice and equinox: the disappearance and return of the light. Our migration habits, planting habits, daily rising-and-shining habits are relative to the movement of the sun. The tides in the ocean and the waters in our body are responsive to the pull of the moon. With the awareness, we crossed a line from chaos to order, from unconsciousness to consciousness. There was a relationship, a pattern, a belonging, a participation. There was something bigger.

During that same period in my life I also worked with a group of inner city students who had never seen the stars. It was a revelation for me. For them, there was no sense of relationship, there was no “something bigger.” There was a load of anger and existential separation.

This holiday season, I was struck by two things: 1) how many times I had conversations with people, glued to their televisions, who are frightened and feeling helpless by the happenings in the world, and 2) how many casual family photos crossed my path featuring a gathering of individuals, alone together, faces to smart phones. Everyone was looking down.

Standing on the back deck on a dark and starry night, wrapped against the cold, I wonder what some distant teacher in the future will tell his or her students about what happened to human consciousness when they (we) ceased looking up.

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Know Your Meditation

photo-1Some random thoughts on consciousness:

Last night I read that, according to some traditions, all forms of separation are an illusion. Only the whole is real but to experience the whole, one must experience him or her self as separate from it. What a conundrum!

Or, is it a gift? Tonight we witnessed the most extraordinary sunset. It’s been stormy these past few days and this evening the storms finally broke. The colors of the sunset were subtle, muted, otherworldly. Breathtaking.

We witness all of creation. All of it. And, as witnesses, we experience ourselves as separate from it. A sunset stops us in our tracks because we glimpse the glory of it all. Once, I stood on top of a mountain at sunrise and cried for the sheer beauty of what I was witnessing. Or, perhaps I cried for the feeling; I was, for a brief moment, not separate.

Consciousness is like a flashlight. We point its beam. We see what we illuminate. And, we illuminate what we see. We assign meaning and value where we point our beam. Some experiences – like sunsets – we define as glorious. Some, we define as lacking. Both are forms of meditation. Every choice to aim the beam is a meditation. All assignment of what is found in the light of the beam is a meditation.

What is your meditation?

As Joe said, the entire universe tends toward wholeness. Every time I recall his words I realize a deeper truth in what he said. We tend toward wholeness because we are already whole; the illusion of separation makes us think otherwise. In fact, thinking makes us think otherwise.

The Balinese have an art form, the shadow puppet, called Wayan Kulit. The audience sees the story as shadows cast on a screen. The performance is meant to remind the community that what they see is illusion. It is meant to remind them that they (we) are all casters of shadows. Our minds are screens upon which we play our dramas. Behind the screen, when all the characters are put away, when all the conflict is resolved, when all the separate pieces unified, there is only one artist, and we are….all.

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The latest in the series. This piece is almost 5ft x 5ft

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Stand Rooted

I awoke this morning with this phrase hanging in my dream space: you can’t control your circumstance but you have infinite control over who you are within your circumstance. It is a well-worn phrase for me, like an old sweater, relevant to much of the teaching, coaching and facilitation I’ve done. It is useful to remember when the hurricane hits or the job disappears or life seems to be a festival of obstacles. The ability to discern between circumstance and personal center is of great value. It is a skill that lives atop of Maslow’s hierarchy.

A work in progress: K.Dot & D.Dot See An Owl

A work in progress: K.Dot & D.Dot See An Owl

We have these words in our canon of health: centered, grounded, rooted, conscious, present…. They are all terrific metaphors, earthy with eyes wide open. Flip them over and you get a good sense of what happens when you confuse your self with your circumstance: off center, uprooted, ungrounded, unconscious, not here; up in the air with eyes squeezed shut.

There is a Buddhist phrase that I appreciate: joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. It is necessary to know the difference between self and circumstance to really grasp the meaning of this phrase. Life is going to bring you trials, tribulations, and lessons. You can never know what is just around the corner. As Kerri often reminds me, it is what you don’t know that makes you grow. So, when the storm comes, participate. Stand in it. Love life in all of its forms and textures.

So many times when working with business clients I’ve had to say, “Don’t eliminate the wolf from your story.” In the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf moves the story forward. In fact, without the wolf, there is no story. In business as in life we attempt to protect ourselves from the wolf. We resist the very thing that can bring growth and renewal. Circumstance is often the wolf. The storm comes. The relationship suffocates. The wolf always creates movement where the energy is stuck. It is uncomfortable. It hurts. It is scary. Yes. So, participate. Engage. Be-with-it. Within the circumstance, within the storm, learn to stand rooted, centered: earthy with eyes wide open.

The circumstance will pass and you will remain. You will know more. You will have grown. This simple understanding, that you are separate from your circumstance, allows for the joyful part of participation. Joy lives at the choice point. The world is and always will have plenty of sorrows to help you grow. Things happen. The question is, “How do you choose to participate?”

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.