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.