- Have a partner in order to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day
- Exchange the perfunctory cards, flowers, chocolates with said partner
- Prove you REALLY care with something extra. . . jewelry? Lingerie? Two tickets to paradise?
- Spend the big night in wildly romantic fashion, complete with mind-blowing sex once you’ve finished feeding one another chocolate covered strawberries, mouth-to-mouth, for dessert
- Let’s not forget that champagne toast!
Friday, February 13, 2015
I’m going to be a tad predictable, and dare I say cliché here. I’m going to write about love for Valentine’s Day. Just go with me on this, or don’t. Either way, it’s all love.
My experience continues proving to me that those words are in fact the ultimate truth: it’s all love.
“What’s ‘it’?” you might ask.
“What isn’t?” I’d reply.
There are the popularized, commercialized incarnations of love that many of us have been sold on for far too long. Take the essentials for this particular holiday. If you are to believe the hype, you must:
I’ve experienced all of this before, and I adored it. Clearly I’m not above a little predictability and cliché in my life. In fact, just last year I was sharing much of the aforementioned status quo with a partner who I was so deeply in love with that I even allowed myself to fantasize I’d never spend another Valentine’s Day alone again. Score! Right?
Yet here I am another turn around the sun later, and I am single. Yup, I said the “s” word that many a woman in her mid-thirties cringes at that sound of.
I. Am. Single.
You know what else I am?
Deeply in love.
I feel quite certain I will not wake up on Valentine’s Day to a partner magically fallen from the sky, so there won’t be anyone gifting me a handwritten card or a racy corset. It’s possible I could end up having a wildly romantic night, complete with steamy sex, and we just might feed each other chocolates, but you’ll have to check back with me on that one. And I’m just not much for champagne these days. Amazing how getting serious about this spirituality business can rid you of your taste for booze.
So I don’t have the trappings of the traditional Valentine’s Day love affair. How can I be in love?
Let’s dissect that for a moment. In . Love. As in to be inside of this thing we’re calling love. You can’t see it. You can’t taste it. You can’t smell, touch or even hear it. So how can you be IN it?
I like answering questions with questions.
How can’t you be?
Love is life. Love is death. Love is rainbows and earthquakes and sprouting plants and smiling babies and grieving widows and starry skies. Love is the sensation when you shudder with aversion and when you undulate with bliss. Love is every rising and setting of the sun. Love is the stillness and the silence in between all sense perception. Love is.
I am in this world of pure and utter magic, this world of love, and so I am in love, as are you. There is simply no way around it. You couldn’t get out if you tried. It’s the sacred marriage to end all marriages. You exist and thus you are in love.
So why then are so many of us walking around unaware? Why do we say we fall in and out of love as if we were talking about changing our clothes each day?
It’s because we’ve forgotten. We’ve lost our way. The ultimate truth, it’s all love, is also the truth of who we are. We misguidedly attach our love to objects, often other people, and then believe love is lost when they have gone away.
Yet think about that for a moment. What has actually left? Even if it’s a living breathing body you’ve attached your love to that ceases to exist on this earth plane from one day to the next, what has actually left us? Not love.
Love is transcendent. It encompasses all that we can perceive and all that we cannot. It is in us and all around us. It’s our nature, and when we remember this, when we find our way, we awaken to the truth that we are, always have been and always will be in love.
I started ruminating on this while I was on an amazing mission I dubbed “Operation Cupid”. You see, a friend of mine in the U.S. asked me to deliver a surprise Valentine’s bouquet to her beloved who happens to be in the same town in Bali as I am. That involved me hand selecting the card, transcribing the given message, finding my way by scooter to a flower shop where I chose each and every stem in the bunch and even the color ribbon it was tied with. Then once back on my trusty Scooby scooter, I set off to find the house where this gesture of love would land. I got lost. I was covered in sweat and breathing in the exhaust of just a few too many tourist buses. I realized that no one would be reciprocating any such gesture toward me on this particular Valentine’s Day. And I felt so wholly and totally in love.
Observing my sheer joy at this mission started me reflecting on what it is to be “in love” and how it was that I was having the exact same felt experience of being in love as I’ve known in the more traditional context even while I was negotiating traffic and juggling stress, wholly and totally by myself. It occurred to me that as in love as my friend is with her paramour, I am in love with the call to service I was fortunate to receive, I am in love with every breath I get to take (even if it is a polluted one) and whether I am happy or sad, accompanied or alone, I am always in love.
So my share is for the sake of inspiring your own reflection. Whether you will honor Valentine’s Day in the most cliché manner possible or by dressing in black and sitting in mourning or whatever the hell you feel called to do, I invite you to really ponder what the words “in love” mean to you and see if you might catch a glimpse of that ultimate truth for yourself. It really is all love.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Heart at once hollow yet heavy and full. Beating and bleeding and burning for You.
Who is this “You” and who is this “me”? Is this heart even mine? As mine as it can be.
I would if I could, just let go, just let be. Stop the doing, stop the feeling and sit with just me.
If me is You and One are We, beyond the pain of separation, Truth is set free.
So I set my intention and You set your sails, gliding so effortlessly while my anchor trails.
Trying to lighten the load, I release. Yet the weight pulls me down again and there goes the peace.
Yours is the lightness and mine is the dark. Ah, but We are One. Reminder is a spark.
Sparking the memory of the time beyond time, absent the notion of a yours and a mine.
All that exists is Truth Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, Bliss Absolute. Sat Chit Ananda. Ain’t that the Truth?
So I’ve been told and so I believe, and so I keep seeking, Your billowing sails out at sea.
The sea of compassion, of mystery, of grace. Sea of abiding love and wholeness I taste.
I taste You in my blood, my tears, my nectar honey twist. Your ocean is in me so I know You exist.
What I know with my body can’t always be known with my mind. I turn my senses inward to feel what I find.
In this body live the Lover, the Beloved and the Love. I taste color, feel music and hear the wing of the dove.
Nothing makes sense in here and yet sense is all there is. You open me for receiving and I give and give and give.
Offering my yearning, the depth of my desire. Offering my devotion, my emotion, my fire.
Offering what is big in me and also what is small. Offering and offering in hopes You’ll take it all.
Take me, have me, do with me what You will. Please just use me, use me up, have Your fill.
Fill Yourself with me so that I am wholly in You. Only then will there be an end to loneliness and a resting in what is True.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
The guest as God[ess]
So goes the credo in India, and I have to say that for whatever harshness or inconvenience traveling to the great Mother may invariably include, this is always a sweetly welcomed constant. Without fail, wherever I have roamed on this subcontinent, when I get where I’m going and many times along the way there too, I have been received with such warmth in the welcoming and sincerity in the attending that it manages to soften the edges and melt the daggers of even the craziest episodes.
I live much of my life in the world of guest as interruption, guest as intrusion, guest as yet another item on the overflowing to-do list that has to be checked off. In that world not speaking the language will get you glared at as incompetent. There you don’t often show up unannounced on someone’s doorstep or go out of your way to accompany someone on an errand run that more closely resembles a wild goose chase. You tend to yourself and expect that by and large others are doing the same. Independence and self-sufficiency are the credo. Most of the time in most circles anyway.
Not so here. As I sit writing, Vishnu, a nineteen-year-old attendant at the lush, idyllic Ayurvedic retreat I’m visiting, is waiting me on. He’s walking up the tree-lined path with an adorably bright smile on his mustached little face, carrying fresh coconuts for me to drink. Yes, that’s his job. But he does his job with such a sweetness and genuine appreciation for being of service that it lights a smile in me each and every time I see him. And I see him a lot! He manages to be everywhere, all the time, always available to any need or whim that may arise in each and every guest here. He takes his responsibility seriously, but not himself. He’s gracious and humble and seems so much older than his not quite two times ten turns around the sun.
And it isn’t just Vishnu. It’s Saraswati, Jendi, Asmin, Karnan, Kiran, Kanakaraj, Laksmi, Rao, Srinivas, and so many other aunties, uncles, guides, hosts, drivers, attendants and random angels encountered on trains, buses and sidewalks who live this credo of treating the guest as God. The very villagers who scrub the floors and prepare the meals at your guest house consider themselves honored and are so wholly delighted to have you pop into their home without warning, quickly offering up a plate of some tasty snack and introducing every member of their extended family to you, whether in-person or by photo. And never mind a language barrier. Smiles, laughter, hand gestures and a couple of key words are more than enough to feel the depth of emotion and grasp the gist of what’s being transmitted.
I’ve had strangers escort me through train stations to ensure I made it to the right platform. The same guy who had the grace to look away and leave me in silence while I vomited in our shared bunk on an overnight bus come morning was making certain I knew what stop to get off to make my way to my destination. Many others want a photo memory of me and taking them at their word, some of those photos now appear in frames and on altar spaces in more than one India home. I can’t begin to understand why that is, but we’ll leave that for another blog!
With this one what I hope to convey is the beauty that I encounter daily among the people here, and what it evokes in me. It raises ruminations on independence versus interdependence, what community truly means to me, the way in which I choose to receive and engage with the people around me. To integrate this credo of treating all of those around me as gods and goddesses, not just because it sounds quaint but because I truly recognize the divinity in each and every being is an ideal I wholly aspire to.
Being here also shows me how I still have so far to go. There are many miles yet to walk before my external eyes are able to truly glimpse that divine light shining in all beings. There are miles left to go in shedding my amazingly stubborn conditioning that taught me doing for myself was the best, and often expected, way to get things done. India is a phenomenal equalizer for that one! I simply cannot do everything by myself here. Moreover, I cannot do most things by myself here. I get to be a child again in so many ways, allowing myself to be led, taught, cared for, fed, even bathed and dressed in certain instances! It’s humbling and it’s also heart opening.
As my heart opens to receive these gracious offerings, my mind opens as well. It fills with colorful visions of interdependence as the pervading norm in all corners of the globe. But the globe is big and often I feel small. So I start small. I set intentions. Let my smile be so big and sincere as to brighten another’s day. Let me be the one to patiently and kindly offer directions to someone who is lost, literally or figuratively. Let me be fortunate enough to receive a knock at my door from an unexpected guest and welcome them with a tea or a treat or simply a moment of my uninterrupted, truly focused time. Let me feel gratitude and devotion for the work I am blessed to do, no matter how menial or exalted the task.
It isn’t that these intentions are new to me. It isn’t that all of India, or all Indians, are sunshine and rainbows while the U.S. is absent of any redeeming qualities or utterly amazing people. It’s not that black and white. And all of this is just my story anyway. So if it’s my story, let me tell it with authenticity. A big part of why I travel, and why I keep coming back to India even with so much of the world awaiting me, is because I feel authentic here and I am reminded of the story that is closest to my heart. When I am here, I remember. I remember who I am and what I know to be true. I remember why I have chosen this path and how it is guiding me toward living these intentions more and more with each step I take. I remember that I am not the only one who feels small sometimes, and that compassion is SO needed, just as needed as the reminder that great things come in small packages and can have a HUGE impact!
I hope you’ll remember with me, and I hope you’ll tell your own story with authenticity.
Friday, January 16, 2015
Wander and wander to the point of exhaustion,
Whirl until you lose all control,
Dance until you are ready to drop.
Fall to the earth.
Surrender to the swirl of sensations
Surging through your form.
Dissolve in awe as arising energies
Continue the dance in your inner world.
Beyond motion and commotion,
Become the body of ecstasy.
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra: The Radiance Sutras
Translation by Lorin Roche
Wander, I have. Whirl, I have. Dance, I have. And drop, now, here, finally, I have.
I’ve traveled far and deep along this seeker’s path, wandering for so long to find what felt like home. And in the wandering I have whirled and twirled into many a temporary shelter, taking solace, receiving nourishment, but not quite feeling settled and full. Oh, and the dance! I love it so. So many partners, so many styles, so many spaces. The dance spun me forward until the moment came for it to let me go.
And here I lay now, surrendered to the embrace of The Mother, fallen not from grace but into it, earthly and cosmic realms merged into one as she holds me here that I may know her through my own self.
I lay still as she moves me, currents of energy coursing through me, pulsing from the root, core and heart of my being. The dance is not over. It has only just begun! She dances in me, and I know what it is to feel ecstasy now. I know what it is to be ecstasy now.
For so long the search was for something beyond myself, something that could be given to me from the outside so that I might possibly taste Her sweetness inside. My mind understood this was a fool’s game, but my body did not yet know. My body had not yet surrendered. It still craved the erotic touch of an external lover for it had not yet been refined enough to feel the One who lives within.
Awakening now to the power and the passion as my initiation unfolds, I find myself falling deeper and deeper each day into a space beyond space and a time beyond time that is at once unknown and entirely familiar. Just when I think I am touching ground, I am shown how much further there is to journey still. This earthly and cosmic Mother is endless, infinite and so sublime. If eternity is what it takes to know her, I will be dedicated, patient and happy in the pursuit.
Sacred and precious, this time beyond time and space beyond space, I’ve felt moved to express myself freely and yet aware of the call to go inward. The energy I am cultivating must be channeled with discretion, wisdom and compassion into the appropriate vessels and pursuits. This is new for me, one so open and inclined to share. I am learning how to not just receive but contain in the most beautiful of ways.
What a sweet beginning, and there is so much more to explore beyond the motion and commotion. As many ways to dissolve in awe as there are ways that She manifests Herself. A limitless body of ecstasy to be.