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?