"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a long time student of meditation.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Be Still and Know

“Be still.  Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself”
― Lao Tzu

“Space and silence are two aspects of the same thing. The same no-thing. They are externalization of inner space and inner silence, which is stillness: the infinitely creative womb of all existence.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment 

In the midst of the scurry of the holiday season; often adrift in a sea of activity and noise (I'd forgotten that many folks leave their televisions on, running in the background), I was especially aware of how precious each morning's meditation was to me this past week.  Flowing through days and evenings chock full of visitations and meals and excited flurries of paper-ripping, my cushion seemed like an oasis.

Touching Stillness, even for a few brief moments, is like sipping clear, crisp spring water on a steamy summer day.  Paradoxically, it's also like feeling the warm glow of a fireplace, snuggling at home on a snowy evening peering through the window at the moon.  In Stillness, the Presence emerges.  In a silent whisper, it sings of the Ineffable, that space where the fundamentally mysterious and completely ordinary meet to form the fabric of Life itself.  

Although I use a variety of meditation techniques, I've found that the foundation of Practice is
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

For Unto Us A Child is Born

"Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. "
--- Thich Nhat Hahn

"Every child born is a living Buddha.  Some of them only get to be a living Buddha for a moment, because nobody believes it."
 ---Stephan Gaskin in Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

Originally scheduled for a Christmas Day debute, Granddaughter Keaton arrived in the wee hours of Monday morning, in plenty of  time to avoid head to head competition with Baby Jesus.  Sporting all ten fingers and toes, sparkling with Buddhanature, her birth, like all births, is another obvious Affirmation of the Miraculous.  As she peered from Betsy's face to mine following the sound of our voices later that day, I could feel her Presence as pure, unadulterated Life Force.  Touched by the Great Mystery once again,  I felt a deep joy -- and a deep sadness.

Even as a child, the Christmas season always brought with it a certain sadness.  Something seemed more than slightly askew.   The messages of "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all", the prevailing storyline proclaiming this to be a special time of mirth and merriment,  didn't resonate with what I was experiencing.  I imagined it was just the chaos and uncertainty of my own childhood that left me feeling somehow "out of the loop".  As the years have rolled by,  I have thought that less and less.
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Friday, December 13, 2013

A Wing and a Prayer

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake 
is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”
― Pema Chödrön

``Do not be afraid," the Voice called to him. ``Hang on to the wind and trust!"
-- from "Tale of the Jumping Mouse", 
in Seven Arrows by Hyemeyohsts Storm

Back in 1970, my kid brother David, who was in many ways my main Guru long before I knew anything about gurus and the Practice, sent me a handwritten copy of the "Tale of the Jumping Mouse".  (A denizen of Haight-Ashbury for years, David had come across it before it appeared in Hyemeyohsts Storm's Seven Arrows.) 

I was transfixed.  It was one of those stories.  It resonated deeply with the Heart of the Matter for me. Stirred to the core, my heart chakra again opened through a torrent of tears.  (Those were the days, huh.)

An allegory, "Tale of the Jumping Mouse" traces the journey of a simple mouse who heard something one day, a faint roaring sound that the others didn't appear to hear amidst the scramble of their day to day existence.   His Essential Curiosity stirred, this mouse summoned up the courage to leave the confines of his normal life to discover a world of great beauty and magic.  With the help and guidance of other creatures, through repeated acts of courage and the willingness to serve others again and again, he developed his Medicine as Jumping Mouse.  In the end, (or perhaps, the beginning), the Jumping Mouse became Eagle.  

Although, I probably personally identify more with the Jonathan Livingstone Seagull (another spiritual allegory of the early 1970's) than with an Eagle, I think that the symbol of flight captures something essential about the Spiritual Path.  Years ago, I read of a society in the South Pacific where the children were taught to fly in their dreams as the main spiritual practice. Carl Jung believed that flying dreams symbolized the basic human desire for liberation. It seems pretty deep and universal.

So what does Sitting have to do with Flying?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Visible to the Naked Eye

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell 

“The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”
―Meister Eckhart


The trees across the way are shrouded in mist this morning. Although there is still a hint of green and red brown in the butterfly bush at the edge on the garden the world is awash in grey tones.  There was a time when a grey day like this would invariably send my spirits spiraling downward.  

That doesn't happens so much these days. I blame the Practice for this turn of events. 

Yesterday,  I ran into one of my dharmabum buddhies on the bus to Orange.  Like me, a regular daily practice is a central part of his life these days.  At one point, I characterized him as "a Lifer" and he grinned and alluded to the many times he's fallen off the wagon.  The look in his eyes was unmistakeable, though.  He was aware of the Real Deal.  I think, deep down, we all are.  Manifesting the truth of it in our own lives is only a matter of time, effort -- and Grace*.

As I sense it, Mindfulness Practice is nothing more, and nothing less, than getting in touch with the Truth as it exists in each and every moment of our own experience. Although as the Practice unfolds, there can and will be moments of outright wonder and gratitude and bliss, all the experiential big bang moments of human consciousness imaginable, they aren't the Heart of the Matter.  In fact, an attachment to going for the gold and getting all the goodies can hang you up as much as any other grasping.  It's much more about just "assuming the position" --again and again.  It's much more about paying full attention to this very breath, this sight, this sound, this feeling.

At a certain point it becomes obvious.  There just isn't anyplace to go other than where you are.  There is nothing more extraordinary than the ordinary.  If you look deeply, Infinity is visible to the naked eye. 

The mist outside is clear as a bell.

I love it when that happens.   




* I think it's wise to always embrace Grace as an essential part of the picture and remember that the individual "I" didn't set the Universe up this way.  It's the naked "I", unadorned by this individuated costuming, that's responsible.  Alhamdulillah