Leaving-Winesburg,-Ohio-cop

 

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“What is burning? The world is burning. The trees are burning. The rivers are burning. The people are burning. Everything is aflame.”

 

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I begin my days, as you know, with prayers and meditation. I wake from sleep, take a piss, make a cup of coffee in the dark, go as silently as possible out to the lair. I open my big plastic bin that holds all my meditation crap, my cushion and blanket and my pouch for my malas, my Sadhana texts, incense, lighter, little cloths I use for sliding my hands during prostrations, I open that up and set my cushion down in front of the altar, lay out the wool blanket, take out the lighter and incense and go kneel in front of the altar, light a candle, light the incense, bow, sit down. Arrange the blanket around me, set the coffee cup in front of me, begin.

The transition from the dream world to waking life is much more fluid than it used to be for me. Waking up is now more like a continuation of dreamtime. It’s still dark and silent and my mind is in that kind of dreamlike state before the world starts up. This effect is exacerbated by my dream yoga practice. It feels to me like I shift from one dream to another. During the coffee making and setting up time I come close to breaking through into “normal” waking, but as soon as I sit down then that hyper-clarity of the meditative mindset arises and I’m in a state somewhat different from what used to be “normal.”

There is a richness in practice that is difficult to describe, or even to understand. How something so simple, so empty of “doing” can open the door to, well, everything. Being new to practice and not understanding much, I’m at the point where I tend to get kind of astounded and worked up about what’s going on. I have these rich and powerful experiences and I get caught up in them, captured by them to a large extent, and it can be difficult to maintain my equanimity. It’s relatively easy for me to not follow the negative emotions and experiences, it’s relatively easy for me to recognize them as the reflexive churning of the mind and let them go, come back to the breath, bring my attention back to the moment. But when the moment gets all luminous and clear, blazing with powerful emotions of bliss and peacefulness and love, I tend to run after that. I tend to think that something wonderful is happening to me.

And this is where grasping and clinging can arise and kind of corrupt practice. I know intellectually that I shouldn’t grasp, should see these experiences as just as empty as anything else that arises, but it’s very easy for me to want to make them solid and “real” because they are so much what I was seeking when I first entered the path.

And this is just one of the experiences you can have on the path. There are many, many mistakes to be made as we learn. And luckily we have the instructions handed down from all of those who have gone before, made the same mistakes. We can refer back to the instructions for guidance and go back and sit some more and learn to make a new set of mistakes. Mistakes that you couldn’t even make before because you didn’t know enough to make them. And really, it isn’t exactly correct for me to refer to them as mistakes, they aren’t that at all. But there’s this constant process of fine-tuning, of going off a little bit in one direction, correcting, drifting the other way, correcting. There’s a lot involved in doing absolutely nothing.

The whole endeavor makes me very happy. The better my awareness gets, the more I can see my habitual patterns in action, the less I’m interested in protecting my ego, the more I want to just keep dissolving everything I’ve built up over the years. I believe that there is a way to do just that and I’m committed to doing it.

I love this path. I love my teachers and my fellow practitioners and everyone else, too. I feel as though I have fallen into a way of being that reflects my true nature, that is in harmony with how things really are, and the rewards are astounding.

And empty, yes- that too.

 

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Lately I’ve been having the experience of the universe conspiring to give me exactly what I need exactly when I ask for it. Like the world’s most perfect English butler, silent, invisible, ever at my elbow, putting a needed book in my hand, introducing to me someone, opening a door, pressing my suit, shining my shoes, whispering the name of the person approaching me, putting a cool cloth on my forehead when I get overheated.

It’s an interesting experience.

Also, my family. As if everyone suddenly burst into flame, flowered, opened up, unfolded, got born into wild happiness. Marriage plans afoot. Babies and dogs under foot. Everywhere you look someone is smiling at you, in love. Ease and comfort, hard joy, blissful craziness, happy despair and longing, everything all the time.

A goddamn miracle of love is what.

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Also, swimming in a sea of devotion. Exactly like the deepest, most powerful and vast ocean, profoundly impersonal, wind-swept, shocking in its scale and limitless seeming scope, absolutely overwhelming. Not something to reject or accept, really, it seems too vast for that. I could shut up and swim, but I don’t know that there’s anywhere to go and it feels like maybe its better to just lie on my back, float, and look up at the sky.

Devotion. Compassion. Wisdom. Awareness.

 

A strange county to enter after fifty years of wandering the deserts of loneliness, self-hatred, rage, despair, anxiety, bitterness, boredom, itchiness, ignorance, plain meanness and generalized angst.

 

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May you be happy, may you be at peace, may you be free from suffering.

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Namaste.

 

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