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?