Monday, August 21, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - Day Twenty

On the Subject of Conceptualizing
I remember clearly, as if it was yesterday, when I realized the subtle form of performance I was undergoing once I stepped out in public.  The facial muscles adjusted to look relaxed, the shoulders went back and the hips tucked forward. My step became deliberate. It may sound totally studied, but I honestly wasn’t aware of the power ‘others’ had over me.
I come from a country that is renowned for its casual approach to fashion.  If there was a traditional dress, it would be the old trucker’s blue singlet, some baggy shorts and thongs. Perhaps a beer as an accessory. I now live close to Barcelona. It is heralded for its carefully laid back chic. Short dresses, sure, but with flat roman sandals. Hair seemingly windswept or tied casually in a ballerina’s bun atop the crown of the head.
Let me tell you there is nothing natural at all about Barcelona fashion and more so for it’s little sister town, where I live.  We’re close enough to farm land to remember our roots and we struggle a lot harder to look citified than they do in Barcelona. There is a little too much hairspray, the heels are a little too Gloria (Modern family) inspired and the shorts are a little too short for comfort, at least going by the fingers picking the seams out of the crutch at every available opportunity. Truly, unless you’re a middleclass hippie (read someone who doesn’t want to work yet and continue with the teenage lifestyle), fashion has nothing to do with comfort. 
In the first year I lived here (and I have been here for almost 4), I didn’t really relate to the people here. They were different and interesting and didn’t have an impact on my sense of self at all. As I began to relax and indeed, settle in, I started to notice certain social expectations about fashion.  I began to become conscious that I was not ‘the same’. That I was in fact it was not ‘them’ that were different, it was me.
A friend of mine from the United Kingdom was interested in fitting in, wearing similar clothes and camouflaging herself with the locals in an attempt to help absorb the language. So we sat in a café and studied the women in an attempt to pinpoint their essence.
As we started to notice more and more about the women and their sameness, I became increasingly more aware of my difference.  I had the wrong shoes, the wrong length skirt, the wrong coloured hair the wrong shape of bag. My posture was nothing like the women here. That was fine.
But then I started noticing that I did react to this insidious wave of ‘what they wanted/expected/judged’, and that although I did not capitulate in taste, I did reinforce my difference with exaggerated ‘meness’.  My shoulders became straighter, my face more relaxed, my pace slower and I did not look at people. Looking at people here is a national sport. I took it upon myself not to look.
I was not clearly conscious of any of this. I thought I was just being ‘me’, that I was fulfilling part of my typical patterning that we associate with personality. 
Then one day, as I was walking through the centre of town, I recalled some words from an Adyashanti satsang about concepts and I suddenly saw myself very clearly.  I was literally walking in a concept of myself. I was not Being at all. I was moving as an idea. I was projecting myself from a contracted mix of fear of not fitting in the group (again) and my typical insistence on my difference. And in that moment, it fell away. Just seeing it clearly, the stiff cardboard that had been holding me in place fell away and I felt life enter into my body.
There was and is nothing more to it than that. A deep seeing. In this instance, it was enough just to see that I was somehow moving in a pattern that had made itself  out of unconscious fears and desires. I was merely an image of myself that was on offer to the vague group of ‘them’ to judge (hopefully) alluringly different, but in reality, I was just a passing and quickly forgotten image.
And the reality? Beneath the idea of my difference, is just what I am, with no explanations or stories or concerns. It’s ‘just’ me.
Let’s be clear. I still wear exactly the same clothes as before and I still do my hair exactly the same way as before. The difference is not in the action, it’s in the motivation. I am not dressing to an idea. I am not walking to an idea. I stand at the entrance of my building before I leave the apartment block and I literally check my body for tell tale signs of projection. The chest lifted a little too high? The eye brows risen with slight query? Perhaps the shoulder are even placed a little too low as a sign of invulnerability.  If I find a part of me that has risen to react to some idea of ‘them’, I bring my attention back in close, close to who or what it is that is looking from these eyes. And immediately Life fills the body that was just moments before just an ‘idea’.
That is the power of concepts in our every day. This is just in the pertinent topic of fashion, but it is within all human interactions. Being the good girl, being the bad boy, being held within a concept. And this is the true prison that we live in. Confined by our ideas of who and what we are, not listening and watching closely for the reality.

I had thought that when I ‘woke’ up, that would be that. But it wasn’t. My patterns of life, my conditioning, and even new ideas came up between me and that which I knew to be True. Every day I stay alert, watchful and aware of contractions in the body and mind. It is really like shining the light of consciousness onto the dark shadow places of your self that arise. Some are so subtle that it’s hard to spot. Some are so entwined into who you think you are, like the righteous value of the truth seeker that we refuse to even consider that it needs consciousness at all. Some are so dark and hateful, like petty jealousy, violent rage or unfathomable unworthiness that we can’t bare to look closely enough. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - post nineteen

Stories of broken hearts
What breaks my heart, in my every day, is facing my own divergence from the path of thy will. I don’t know many people who have felt as though they have met with God. I have read about them and I have listened to their stories, but I haven’t really met many people who talk about God at all. I am usually the only one who is interested in the topic and so far removed from caring about the opinion of my society that I mention God all the time.
If someone like me, who has had such a life changing experience can not follow the will of God with ease, who can? And it deepens my patience and it deepens my motivation to be able to somehow embody the Goodness of God in any moment so that somehow, through pure channeling, it can do what it has to do.. in this world.
Stories of Loss
Stories of
Step mother
On the Subject of Discovery
On the Subject of Loss
On the Subject of Integration
On the Subject of Embracing
My life without a Buddha

What did giving up truth give me?
It gave me, paradoxically, the truth.
When I searched for the truth, I also held it up high as a banner over my head, waving it as the highest most important value to honour in all endevours within and without.  When I found people not seeking the truth, but enjoying their shadows, I felt
Righteous
Superior
Judgmental
The observer just observes. To clear the glass through which we are seeing the world, we must remove obstacles. … example? When I gave up truth I saw with greater clarity, the Truth, and with it, came compassion for the fear people lived with. The fear of them, the fear of them selves and greater, the fear that there was something beneath the surface always looming but easily kept at bay by entertainment and constantly shifted attention.
Remember to turn around and bow to your path. Treat the past with respect. Turn every now and then and remember to give thanks to your path.
On the subject of surrender
Your physical flesh, your physical life needs to turn and embrace the life force. It’s like a child who has been constantly fed and taken care of and one day realizes that an actual person or a family had been choosing to take care of him, of loving him and helping him in times of need and when that consciousness arises,  the child feels love and gratitude for the first time for the force that had sustained him all these years.  In the same way, when we awaken to the life force within, we realize that nothing could have occurred without the life force’s support. And the life force, the spirit, responds to love, awareness and gratitude with joy and boundless support.

We move through samsara to nivarna.
What I thought would happen and what really happened.
There is one main problem  my students present me with.
The first is inability to accept reality. That is, there is a projection/expectation of what life is suppose to be, and then, there is the reality.
The only practice that helps this is deep level acceptance.
The physical body – exercise…. How to do exercises in acceptance… breathing, relaxing… 

The problems in accepting reality.. my beliefs are soo strong.. I am right, I am so wrong… my upbringing said, reaction for or against.
Insights
Induced Chi Flow
There is no why, there is just do..?
Finally, once I have developed a practice rooted in presence rather than rooted in the mind, the only information I gain, at this point in time, is to embody Life itself.  It’s very simple. There is nothing more to ‘do’. What comes out of this simple practice, springs from a bottomless well of love, joy, creativity.
Everything that is not acceptance, that does not align itself with life, is a contraction. Every no, every judgment, every criticism, every resistance is in itself a ‘no’ to life.
One of the typical fears arising from this practice is that if I practice acceptance, I am allowing the ‘bad’ things to happen in the world. I need to fight them and resist them.
If we take one concrete example, to work through understanding ‘acceptance’ means.

We see a program on TV about starving children in Ethiopia (?), and you come to class, and I say you must accept the starving children. Your first reaction is to say no, I cannot accept this… I must fight it, I must do something… I am unhappy, sad, frustrated and I need to do something to help them, even if it is just giving money.
To begin with, there is nothing wrong with this reaction. It’s a normal reaction. But it is also based on the story of ‘me’ giving and helping and alleviating problems of the world. I would feel better, if I give or help or ‘do’ something. I would gain something. And let me say again, there is nothing wrong with this. But it is based on the reciprocal movement of giving and receiving.
Now, if we look from a position of deep acceptance, just as an experiment, we just see what happens when we accept the fact of starving children, that it is, what happens?
We notice our own resistance. Inside of our own body we notice the physical ‘no’ to life itself. Life is playing out in an uncountable myriad of forms and any resistance to Life is a contraction and a movement away from life into suffering, despair, helplessness. Life is never like that. Life is love, joy, creativity, movement, truth and beauty.
Now, imagine that you can accept  the fact of starving children, your perception changes. Suddenly, without all of the emotion, without all of the blaming, without all of the story attached to the idea of the children, you can see quite clearly that giving 10, 20 or 30 euro to a children’s charity hasn’t really changed anything in the last 30 years of starving children. If giving money could solve the problem, it would be solved. There is a lot more going on than the outcome of starving children. What is the answer? That is for each of us to discover. For each of us to wake up to. For each of us to face.
Today as I was walking along the river near my house, I bumped into a friend of mine who told me that he knew someone who didn’t like the  river walk. I was surprised. It was pleasant enough. No, he said, because there was a slaughter house for pigs nearby, and some days you could hear the pigs screaming. Oh, I said, does your friend eat pig? Yes he said apologetically.
 There is a very simple way to stop one of those pigs from screaming in the slaughter house. And that is to stop eating them.

We always know what we need to do. That does not mean that we can do it, or that we want to do it, or that we will do it. But we know better than we behave, usually in all situations. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - post eighteen

On the subject of Humility

Lead us not into temptation.
On the Subject of a Relationship with God
What was real becomes unreal. What was once obvious becomes doubtable and what was doubtable become possible. There are no rules, only the limitations that we place on the relationship with our own minds. The path is purely detaching from every projection, expectation, belief that you have created in all the years you have lived on the planet and allowing what really is, to be. In other words, get out of the way of God.
One of the beautiful questions posed by Ms Myss  in Entering the Castle is ‘what is your competition with God?’ What a thought. What a rich and rewarding question to contemplate. It’s enough, with this one question to set you right for years.
I read in  Buddhist text ‘die every day’. And it’s like that. You must die every day to what you have learnt thus far and wait, really like the proverbial bride, for your groom. There is this sense of being fertile ground, awaiting conception.


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part seventeen

On the Subject of Discovery
Earlier this year I gave my copy of You Can Heal Your Life to a family member. It was a gift from a close friend of mine many years ago. I liked to go through the book every couple of years. I was surprise to find a package a few months after my nieces’ visit to discover the new version of the book, plus two others! I took the book with me on my two weeks break and started to go through the exercises and found to my satisfaction that there wasn’t any residue from many of the topics lousie Hay talks about. However, after considering one question, I fell back upon the sofa, my jaw dropping, and I saw layers and layers of information sliding down in front of me.
With all of the work that I had done. With all of the digging, releasing and forgiveness, the tears, the guilt, the mirror work,  I had totally skipped over ‘the step-mother’. Something that would be instantly obvious to me in a student was completely overlooked by my own eyes in my own life.
I was 7 when my step mother came into my life. I had been living alone with my father in Sydney. I mentioned before that my father had strict rules about how were to live our lives. He used to go out at night and I would watch television. I watched the late, the late late and the late late late movie. I developed a deep love for old Hollywood films.
One night, I am not sure why, I called the woman who would one day be my step mother. She asked me where my father was. I said I didn’t know, and that I thought he was with her. I then asked her to please not tell my father that I had called, that he wouldn’t understand. She said she wouldn’t.
I came home from school the next day and my father for the first time that I remember, grabbed me by the hair and dragged me terrified into my bedroom yelling and screaming at me about social workers and homes for abandoned children and why I would call this woman. In that moment, at 7 years old, I made a commitment to myself never to trust that woman again. I judged her as untrustworthy, as weak, and someone who didn’t know the rules. She had lied to me and lies were not allowed in our house. I hated her and it was the start of the 7 years of hate I kept alive in my breast while we lived together.
I want to combine this story with another. The first memory I have. My parents were fighting. I was small. I could hear them. I walked around the hall way and I saw my father on top of my mother, pinning her down. She was shaking her head, her sparrow brown hair flying around her face and my father seemed calm and in control. Look, he said, I am holding her down for her own good. And indeed, that’s what I saw. A crazed woman and a calm and strong father protecting us.
Now, push forward into the future. I am sitting, just a few months ago, on the sofa, my jaw dropped open and images of my judgment of women sliding in front of me like a TV screen… folders of information directly before me and lined up, right at the beginning, was my step mother.
I had always identified with men. I had felt uncomfortable with women and at the age of 30 forced myself to embrace all of the things about women I didn’t like. From high heels to make up and sitting on stools and wearing provocative clothing and buying fashion magazines and noticing handbags. I started to grow my hair and wear padded bras. I wore tight jeans and eye make up. I listened to gossip and tried it out myself. I learned a new set of female rules. I learned about sex and the female body. I explored the nature of images and what worked and didn’t. I learnt about body types and face structure and where to highlight the cheek bones.
And yet, underneath all of these superficial changes, and although it helped a lot, I was in deep fury with women in general. Something about the simplicity of men made me think they were more honest. And yet, as I began to look closely at the information I had in my head, I could see it wasn’t true. Still it persisted. This tightly woven mess of ideas/beliefs couldn’t be lightly unraveled by pulling at one string.
What it needed, and sometimes this is the case, is the brightest light of consciousness you can bring to bear upon  the subject and then let it burn up. There may not be any need at all to unravel this one. Just shine the light of awareness on it, and ask yourself quietly, ‘is it true’. And relax and allow, and if it resurfaces, again, ‘is it true’… and even in the darkest moment, it is not true. And you can make a choice. You can continue to hold the patterns of years or you can look at the new form in front of you and see it with clarity. It is what it is, without any chain to events in your past.
So, using myself as an example, every woman I met was not, by default, needy, ignorant, crazy, helpless, untrustworthy, stupid, annoying, embarrassing, exempt from the rules, an invader, unwanted and a disgrace.
If you had asked me in January  if I had thought those things about women, I would have been shocked or laughed out loud or curious about where you could get such an idea. But the fact is, sitting on my sofa on June 2012, I was looking back into a pattern that was so  subtle a contraction, so soft a shadow I didn’t see it’s beginning or the length and breadth of it as it had run throughout my life.
Every woman I saw was under the umbrella of my first memory of my parents and my deep hatred of my step mother. I am alert and feeling for a contraction and now, when it comes up, I pull myself fully into the present moment and release any woman I may have a block with from the subtle attack of my mind. And let me say that I just didn’t know how deeply this one was ingrained in my psyche. The only way for me to see through this one clearly is to keep it close to me at all times and keep the light of my inner eye steady in its gaze.

And just so you know that the universe is listening, I had two e mails the following week from women I had judged, asking to meet with me during the summer. I had the opportunity to closely notice myself in action, with my new found awareness. I noticed a deep distrust of their motives. I noticed a feeling that warned me about losing my position. And because I could choose, I could answer lightly and force myself into seeing what was really, and not what was a fabrication of my mind. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part 16

Brides Waiting for Their  Grooms
The prayer of thy will be done has been likened to a bride awaiting the return of her groom and I relate to this experience. It’s like I am maintaining my body healthy, I am keeping my heart and mind open, I am creating a fertile ground waiting for the seed of the divine to awaken within me. I am waiting to be called in any moment.
Sometimes it is quiet. Sometimes the mind is loud. Sometimes the body is disturbed. Sometimes life events take the fore. And then sometimes there is a deep ringing in the cells of my body and I pause, waiting, alert, ready. Sometimes it’s a tree, or a deep long breeze, sometimes it’s the earth rising up through the body and requiring a contact with this physical frame and sometimes it’s a person who stands there and requires nothing more than presence. There are no rules or structure to this movement. It seemingly comes when it wants to and goes just as randomly. And my job? Just to be ready and waiting. To clear as much luggage from the one called ‘Tiffany’ so that the One can manifest with the least amount of hindrance in this frame.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part fifteen

On the subject of ‘Thy Will’
For years I prayed ‘Thy Will be done’.  I prayed in a kind of repentance. Through the years I had lost sight of what I was doing here on this earth. My judgments came back in, my personality in all it’s glory flared up and took over. There were obvious changes in my life that could be directly linked to my first deep spiritual consciously spiritual experience, but I had diverged.
Ten years after my initial experience, I started praying. I started asking for guidance and I promised I would surrender. Life opened up to me in many wonderful ways and I trusted the life process.
About 3 years later I started getting little snipbits of guidance. Little images came to mind, as if adding depth to understanding. I started seeing things  in several layers. Nothing seemed one dimentional. Not just in a knowing in my mind, but a feeling in my body. As I began to listen and take notice to all of the information revealing itself to me, life started to speed up. It’s like the voltage of my experience doubled and extended way past my known parameters.
Sometime I didn’t listen. Sometimes I felt I couldn’t. And then one day I learnt my lesson.
I was in a Jesuit Church, about ten minutes walk from my apartment. I ‘m not sure how or why I was there. I just popped in and began to pray in the chapel. I remember a statue of Jesus  there but it didn’t matter really what was there, it was a place where I could pray and not be disturbed. I prayed, dear God, dear God, please show me the way. Please please please Thy will be done. I throw myself down and I let Your goodness shine in me.’ Something along these lines. I prayed so that I cried and felt emptied out and full of my own goodness.
I passed a gypsy woman begging at the steps and I smiled at her. I felt great. Full of myself. And not more than ten steps later, I saw a woman shaking her little girl. The girl was about 3 years old. The mother had obviously lost all reason and was verging on hysteria. The girl’s head was being thrown about and the mother was shouting at her. And I heard the voice ‘Go and pick up the little girl’.
Every part of me recoiled. I glanced around the park. There were about 8 people there, all ignoring the mother and daughter. I looked back at the scene. ‘I can’t.’ ‘Go and pick up the girl.’ At this stage the little girl was on the ground crying and the mother was yelling at her.  All I could feel was deep humiliation at the thought of interfering. I even said ‘why are you doing this to me? How can I, I who can not touch another human without bracing myself, how can I go and touch a stranger in the midst of their confusion?’
And then I heard ‘if you don’t go you will regret it’. It was not a threat. It was a statement. The voice was emotionless. It was just a voice.  I recalled that not more than two minutes ago I was on my knees in a Church praying for guidance and here I was, saying no to a direct command.
I was ashamed of myself and my weakness and my will hardened enough to pluck up the courage to go over there. In actual fact, the thought of it was much worse than the actual doing.
I walked over and picked the little girl up off the floor. She stopped crying instantly. The woman spoke in Spanish, and I could only understand part of her story, but it didn’t matter in the least. I wasn’t judging her. I wasn’t there to tell her or teach her anything. I was purely there because I had to be there. Nothing else. I had no personal agenda, no motivation, no reason to be there. And it was perfect as it was. I don’t know what happened to the family afterwards, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. If I was helpful or not is beside the point of just being where you are suppose to be, when you are suppose to be there. Simple.
Now, we are so afraid of ‘blindly following’, and I don’t mean that at all. There is choice in any given moment. But what is your choice based on? Fear? Shame? Desire? What will they think?
This deep surrender truly takes practice. It’s a way to know yourself deeply, to know what you are afraid of in this world, and to help you answer the question Myss puts to us ‘what is competing with God?’
In this instance my resistance was within my physical body. I recognized my dislike of touch.  I have never really enjoyed hugging or touching others and like many an empath, I have spent a lot of time alone, purely to be away from the maddening crowd. It’s just too much information, and when you are young and inexperienced empaths tend to confuse the information they are picking up from others as their own turmoil, often leading to instability.
My physical body recoiled from the idea of touching a screaming stranger. Of inserting myself into a scene that I have always avoided like it was the plague. I was going to break a social norm. Generally speaking it is not encouraged to come between a mother and her child. I don’t think I have ever seen it before. I was shy. To follow the will of God, and yes, the voice was indifferent, emotionless and held the weight of ‘sure knowing’ that rung with the truth of Divine Guidance, I would have to break my comfort zone, I would have to break a social norm and I would have to do it all without concern for the people in the park staring at us. And it was horrible and liberating and humbling. Thy will really did know better than mine. I walked away, not full of myself, not feeling joy and greatness, I walked away feeling crushed, humble and in a space of not knowing.



Monday, July 24, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part fourteen

Acts of Surrender
Surrender is not just a physical action, it is also surrendering of ideas and beliefs as they arise. I had trouble accepting images that arose in meditation. On the one hand I was working deeply with ‘Thy will be done’ and on the other, when something arose that I didn’t like, I was quick to shift focus and project something else.
During a full week I rejected the image of Jesus in my meditation. I had asked specifically for a symbol of love and devotion, and I fully expected a Buddha like figure or a Kuan Yin to appear. I was horrified by the image of Jesus in while robes  standing in front of me with his arms out in a welcoming gesture. Jesus? Impossible.
Impossible no. Finally, remembering what I was doing, and recalling that I was humbly accepting guidance, not getting what I wanted, I allowed the image of  Jesus and all that appeared to me to manifest. After Jesus there were other images of famous avatars but  Jesus is still the one that has the power to enter directly into heart contact on the mere mention of his name. As a side note, one of the funny things about living in Spain is that you can actually ‘poke’ Jesus if you have one as a friend on facebook.


Monday, July 17, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part 13

I should mention again that I didn’t dress God. It didn’t look like anything. It was everything, deep inside all things, but it didn’t have substance in itself. God didn’t look like Jesus to me. Actually, if anything, I distrusted these images. Like many Westerners searching for spiritual support, I looked towards the less familiar and less criticized East for role models and images that were not tainted by the Church’s stories of greed, power and corruption.
I had no tradition. I didn’t come from a religion. And the first great visitation I had was a great thick dark snake like being that came in the night.
Release and surrender are only words until you apply them. I remember lying on my bed with the sensation of this huge being wrapped around my legs and moving in deep inside my spirit body. I was terrified. I felt pinned to the bed. But, I could feel it was not threatening me. I had never been consciously entered into in this way before. I concentrated on my breathing. I relaxed as much as I could. I prayed to God for protection, if I needed it, and all I knew was the need to surrender to this entity. As I began to relax my muscles and to breathe at a slower rate, I noticed a sensation deep down near my tailbone. And I lay there stunned. She was cleaning me. Licking my spiritual body like a lioness washing her cub. I felt shock, gratitude, humility in a flash and I continued to breathe as calmly as I could. The next day I felt my root chakra for the first time in meditation. I didn’t need a group, or a country or a family to stimulate it. What I had was an emissary of the earth mother herself to call my root into consciousness. I was at home when I connected consciously to the earth, no matter where I was in the world. I was a blessed, root active nomad who could lay her roots where she chose. I felt blessed, loved, chosen. Chosen for what? Who knew? I certainly didn’t.
Of course, how do you talk about giant snakes coming out of the earth and licking your root chakra awake? I sounded bonkers, even to myself. I had to surrender the last piece of concern I had about what ‘they’ might say or think about me. It was time to fully embrace the knowledge that I was being given. For a reason I don’t know, I was being called upon to wake up and to be true to that process. To engage with it and to speak my truth when the time was appropriate.
I remember sitting with my mother and step father, my partner and my son and finally speaking about how I felt about God, what I saw, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and trying to be as honest as possible. It was difficult to speak these things out loud.  But I did it, and much to their credit, they all supported me with a smile and wished me well for the future. I haven’t looked back since.
I gave up pretending to be ‘normal’ or caring about what ‘normal’ was. I gave up lying to myself and to others. I spoke the truth, when asked or propelled and I didn’t consider the consequences to my future, to my relationship or to other’s opinions. I surrendered to my self to the path that was chosen for me.



Monday, July 10, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part twelve

On the Subject of Thy Will
The study of life really does seem to be a study of what gets in the way of God’s will.
How have I felt God’s will – the act of surrender



Stories of Surrender
For many years I had been playing with the Lord’s prayer and mumbling ‘thy will be done’ half heartedly. I really didn’t want God’s will done at all. For goodness sake, I knew better than that. 
I mentioned before that my parents were atheists. My father’s parents were a mixture of Chinese, Welsh, English and Scottish. My father, taught me the Lord’s Prayer, as a sort of safety device I guess. I remember, as a small girl, reciting the Lord’s prayer before bed. And at the same time, God was never discussed in a serious manner. Jesus in particular was the butt of many jokes and believers were given no quarter. Thinking about it, from an adult’s point of view, I can’t imagine why my father would teach the prayer to me at all.
I used to say it to myself as a kind of goodnight mantra, right up into my teen years.
I spent years facing my demons – living them out – women, the physical body, …. Learning about them…
One day, when I was 25, I was in in deep meditation and I heard a voice say ‘Tiffany, come here.’ And I was so terrified that I stopped meditating. I looked at myself and saw that I was in a highly dysfunctional state. With the language I have now, I would say that my top two chakras were vibrantly open, but the rest were firmly unconscious and underdeveloped. I went on a crusade to ground myself in the physical body. And I did it.
After years or focusing on the physical body and achieving in the physical world, I felt ready to return awareness to meditation and my spiritual body. I started immediately seeing colours, feeling vibrations, seeing the white glow around alive bodies, trees, mountains. And I knew it was time to invoke the spirit into my heart and mind.
I had to face the word ‘God’ again. I had to align my feelings with words and culture. I felt, as always, alone, apart from books.
While sitting in meditation, I was often guided in my asana practice. My body moved itself into position, my hands formed mudras I have never studied and I saw positions I was to practice. I saw images of angels, guides and symbols that helped open up my awareness to the spirit body. And my main practice became surrender.
When I returned to my home country Australia, I focused on my weakest chakra, the root. I had never been able to feeling it at all. I had suffered sciatic pain in my right leg years ago, had been hit by a car that literally dinted in my right thigh when I was a teenager and had led a wander’s life since I was born. I didn’t identify as Australian, I didn’t feel at home in my family, I didn’t have a group that I felt comfortable in. I was highly developed individually and totally alien in a group. I avoided groups and distrusted them. I needed to develop roots.

That’s when I met a giant dark snake. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Day My Buddha Burned - part eleven

On the Subject of My Buddha Burning
I remember sitting, stunned, on the sofa. Blank. Even then, even in this moment of clearing and loss, I felt a greater presence than myself reminding me of what I already knew. No image or statue of a Buddha was more important than the teaching and practice of what the Buddha stood for. My clutching hands could not hold the essence of the Buddha.
I don’t know what was driving me. I’m not sure why I wanted to find it or really what I was looking for. Even thinking about it makes me feel stupid somehow. But I was searching for The perfect Buddha to take home from my travels in Thailand. We’d been travelling for months around South East Asia, visiting temples, sacred places, tourist hot spots, ancient Buddhist communities, killing grounds. I didn’t buy a lot of things, but once in Thailand I started to crave the perfect Buddha and the perfect set of prayer beads. I searched in every shop we went past, in every market.
In some big touristy warehouse I found the one I wanted. Its skin was white and it had on a purple robe. It was made of wood. I loved it. All of the statues were slightly different, but this one is the one that I had been waiting for.
We wrapped it well, bought another back pack for it, and lugged it around with us until we finally returned to Barcelona. I have a yoga/meditation/puja room. I take classes in this room and I had a little altar on it with my Buddha, my prayer beads, some of my favourite crystals and some incense.
One day I came home to the smell of smoke in the apartment. I couldn’t discover where the smell was coming from at first, but I realized that it was from behind the closed door of the yoga room. I thought quickly, grabbed the closest blanket like thing I could find (beautiful hand picked shawls from India) and opened the door. There was only smoke. There wasn’t a fire as such, more of a slow ember burning for 6 hours in a room with almost no air. I opened the windows, threw the shawls over the altar (it must have been incense I’d forgotten and left burning that fell onto the cloth, there is no other logical explanation)
There was a lot of smoke. There was no physical danger. It was dirty, with ash and dust everywhere. Neighbours called the fire brigade and police also came to see what the problem was. It was quickly established that I had everything under control. However, the firemen did throw buckets of water over the altar and then proceeded to walk everywhere leaving a much greater mess than there was before they arrived. But considering it was all for the sake of containing fires, one cannot complain about ash being walked through the hall, I guess.
I started cleaning, I would be cleaning for weeks to get the smell of smoke out of the house, and discovered most of my most precious religious tokens broken, cracked from heat, stained black, burnt up and my beloved perfect Buddha with half an arm missing and half his face charred. Not to mention my beloved shawls.
I stared at the wet pile of rubbish on the floor that just a few hours earlier had been the focus of my devotion and attention. While light started spearing into my head forcing space. I didn’t want space. I wanted my Buddha back, with this beautiful arms and his white radiant face.  I thought of how I had searched and searched for it and how we had taken care of it on its way to its new home and how I had loved it.
I was left with empty space in my chest.
And just out of mind, just to the back of the space was a deep sure knowing that this experience was deeply symbolic and deeply necessary for my ability to let go of another crutch I had grabbed on to help me on this path of life.
I didn’t need statues, I didn’t need amulets, I didn’t need prayer beads (beautiful glossy red on white string) at all and actually, it was, basically, just rubbish in the big scheme of things. The big lesson. Let it all go. Die before you must die. Stop believing in the structure of things that look like God. You know better than that. All is Divine. There are no exceptions.
I called my partner. He was out with friends and promised to return. He didn’t return for another three hours. He says he didn’t realize just how important the apartment burning and fire trucks and police entering our apartment and checking over my passport and pending residential status was to my state of mind. It was another loss. I had to give up thinking that our values were the same. That he would view important life lessons the same way I did. That he would value me over the group, even though I knew he was bound to life through his group, not through his individuality, as I was.
So I sat on the sofa, having cleaned what I could for the moment, and let the shock of unlooked for loss settle in.
Again, there was nothing. God was no and all structure. God was in no thing and in all things. I knew this, but I was not living it. But then I remembered that I had entered into a sure contract to live through all that I must, to enhance understanding, compassion and to embrace humanity. From the deep levels and prolonged exposure to my own  hate that I had experienced as a child and teen I had forged patterns of judgment and criticism that boarded on plain self-righteous arrogance.
Every time I tripped up I won deeper insight into the nature of human being. I could not judge those if I had lived in their shoes. I had experienced the deep need to covet something of value and to hold my own ‘precious’, and I had experienced the loss of it, and I could sit there, on my sofa, and laugh, without humour, to myself.
God is not within the white body of a perfectly clad wooden statue. But at the same time, God was in the burning of his arm and the blackening of his face. And to this day I have my blackened and burnt Buddha sitting at the end of my hallway beside an arm long banner painted with ‘Awake’ – Buddha!

What better way to teach a lesson?