Revelation of Wholeness

Wholeness. It’s a concept I have rarely entertained or bestowed with much thrust. Until about two weeks ago. Daiva, the man behind the curtain here, (that is to say, the one at the top of the Ananda Portland/Laurelwood totem pole… though I have a feeling he would be quick to assert that he’s *not* indeed behind a curtain… but for some reason, imagining him as a larger-than-life notion; a massive projection of a head with a booming voice emerging from darkness and flames, tickles my funny bone, and there’s *something* right about it…) Anyway where was I, before I extended the mischievous courtesy of bringing you up to speed on one of the key characters in my current waking dream? Oh yeah, so I think “wholeness” might be Daiva’s official linguistic mascot, and deepest aspiration.

Wholeness. Naturally, the notion has started to gnaw at my consciousness too, insisting on becoming more than a mere word, but an experiential boon. I just looked it up on dictionary dot com. And two aspects of the definition that struck me as pertinent are “complete” and “undivided”.

Allow me to interrupt myself for a moment, before I commence to flail and dig with fervor to convey to you, that which is deeply meaningful to me. I must announce that it is five forty-five am. Still dark. And HARK, the shy orchestra of raindrops is striking up outside my modestly cracked window! This is bound to be a great blog… wink. (BTW, remember, I’m in Oregon, NOT California… and the rain here flows like coffee in Portland. Which is to say with luxurious abandon. But when it goes away for a day or three, I miss the romance, the music and the decadent wetness of the air.)

And now back to our previously scheduled, impending revelation. I don’t want to spend too much time wrestling with the conceptual implications of this potentially weighty word. Doing so is giving me unsightly wrinkles in my forehead. Instead I will dive into the crystalline pool of practical application, and share with you my recent experiential illumination. And you can connect the dots, or color outside the lines, or solve the puzzle as you wish.

If I remember correctly, in my last blog, I touched on the recent strain of suffering I’ve been experiencing in my relentlessly compelling soul tango with Ed. To say it plain, I had been living inside the fierce, continuous immediacy of heart ache for at least a week, in this last round. Yes, think of it like a heavy-weight boxing championship. And see me taking blow after blow, yet not going down for the count… Instead continuing to inhabit the treasure and skeleton-laden sunken pirate ship that was my heart. You can imagine that this made me a very unpleasant girlfriend. Dull. Aloof. Defensive. Critical. Overly sensitive. To name a few.

I was doing my best, I swear. But just feeling pinned and crushed beneath the weight of circumstance, and unable to free myself. Wanting to be with him. Wanting to build our nest and invite Alexandria into my womb. And floundering helplessly in the cold steal reality of impossibility to have what I yearn for. And you might be like, “Well then leave, Athena. Go find a man who is available, and get to making your soft, glittery disco nest!” But it’s not like that. It’s just not.

Have you ever lived for an extended period of time with a bleeding heart? I don’t recommend it. Unless you want to seriously ignite your quest for liberation. So I think it must have been the afternoon after my last blog entry, two days ago… I was on the phone with Ed, and the climate of my heart was still storming, but the clouds were losing their density, and beneficent, golden swirls of sunlight were gently pressing their way through the wet, grey ache. And if lightbulbs really DO flash over peoples heads in moments of epiphany, one screamed on, above me for sure!

I saw/felt/heard this renegade invitation to consider the possibility that the pain that had taken up semi-permanent residence in my heart (more like a persistent squatter), might actually have NOTHING to do with Ed. I know, this is a radical notion. But it really felt like the quintessential wound of my forgetful existence; the pain of being born into a world where I am dreaming I am separate from Source. What could hurt more than that? These might just sound like words to you… unless you’ve ever been willing to really FEEL IT. But imagine Infinity. Imagine an Ocean of Love, so deep and wide and all pervading, that it has no end and no beginning. Imagine being engulfed in that perfection, completely merged with that quintessential WHOLENESS…. and then imagine being squeezed through your mom’s vagina (or sliced out of her abdomen, as was my case) and some sterile dude with a mask on grabbing you and abruptly severing your source of oxygen and nourishment and you GASP and shriek and cry as you’re suddenly immersed in this ominous sense of separation, vulnerability and perpetual threat. Shit. It’s an ugly picture. And that’s how most of us are born into this world. (Except for all of the rad water births I’ve been watching on youtube, but that’s another blog!)

I’ve read and heard a bajillion times that the deepest opportunity of Intimate Relationship (letting someone into your heart and soul as deep as is humanly possible) is to make contact with our core wounds, feel them and heal them. And I’ve always believed it. But I’ve never been ready to get so close to the core as I did two days ago. Suddenly, I found myself considering out lout (Ed as my witness) that maybe the pain I was in had NOTHING to do with ANYTHING outside myself! Maybe everything “outside” was merely a catalyst to touch the center of my deepest being, integrate that which I had at some point renounced, “lost” …and return to a state of implicit wholeness. (A part of me hated to admit this. Because one the ego blows its cover, there’s really no going back into hiding…)

Are you following me? Honestly, I’m not sure if this is sounding way too radical, or completely obvious, like “Duh, Athena…” Strange, huh? In my world, the quest for Truth is the centerpiece, the heavenly body around which all other aspects and nuances of the human dream revolve. I recognize that peeling the onion and living ever-deepening cuts of Truth is not everyone’s cuppa. But walking the yogic path, and studying A Course in Miracles for four years now, I am realizing at continuously deeper levels that happiness really can NOT be found outside. It’s such a gnarly pill to swallow. But in the end, it does not matter what man I’m with, or whether I’m pregnant or not (still fervently bound to those desires though!!!) or…

The TRUTH is that I am WHOLE, perfect and complete. Always. Now. Life is but a dream. And dreams inevitably fade, while Truth eternally remains. There IS another way to live: surrendered to an intelligence and a love far greater than “my own”. God (LOVE), being One, can see the whole picture. I can see but a modest shard, probably smaller than a human sperm; relatively imperceptible to the naked eye. I really do *not* know what my best interests are. Except that all that I am living is exactly what I need to be living… in service of my highest growth. And I have the perpetual option to welcome it all with gratitude and faith and perfect peace. This, of course requires me to let go of my own, slighted agendas. That is the WORK. I am working HARD. I want to want only Truth, only the ever-new joy of God…. but delusion is so thick and persistent. Breath by breath. Moment by moment. Day by day.

How do you encourage a child to let go of her vice grip on that sticky candy she stole from the jar? You can’t rip it out of her hand!!! No way. She will scream and cry and clutch it even harder. Distract her with immense, wiggly, iridescent bubbles! Meaning, I can’t use brute force to tear my delusions from the grip of my sick mind. I must keep luring myself deeper into love’s gentle reality by lifting my gaze into it’s refined spheres of seductive, luminous beauty… and the layers of bullshit will naturally slough off like dead skin.

Om. Peace. Amen.

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Violet Flames of Longing

I wish it was raining. I think it would make my writing better. You know, to be nestled in a cozy pocket of dim light and warmth, as wet music sang down and sweet, crisp darkness rushed in through my cracked-open window. It creates a mood that opens entire panoramas of inspiration and longing inside me. Plus, every now and again the large wind chime would add her deep, haunting voice to the evocative, improvisational chorus. But unfortunately, no more rain predicted for nearly a week! Frown. I didn’t think I’d crave it like I do. I thought I’d suffer from “seasonal affect disorder”, or whatever you call that silly diagnosis for people who thrive in light. But I wasn’t accounting for the vast, creative music of incessant storms. Or the ecstatic, erotic feel of the wet air flushing into my thirsting lungs… or the way the deep, dark grey tones of the sky would titillate every nuance of green to speak in stunning tongues. I am only recognizing it retrospectively, but growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have missed the experience of REAL seasons. They actually provide this rhythmic relief that feels so essentially linked to all of the rhythms of the universe within and without. Leave perpetual spring to the cake-worshipping Pollyannas of the world.

Wow. I’m amazed that I could get lost in such an extensive paragraph discussing the weather. Usually, I am a bit cynical of those who rely on discussing the weather as their primary vehicle for connection. Like, of all the topics in this vast multiverse, why be so unimaginative?… but I am seeing that even the weather can be discussed with artistry and nutrient-dense content. In fact, that’s my challenge to you! Next time you find yourself inadvertently sucked into a conversation of this nature, I dare you to take the wheel and drive it to unprecedented levels of creative genius and poetical inspiration! Just because you CAN!

When I first landed here at Ananda Laurelwood, people would ask me how long I was staying. My instant reply, “Nine weeks and three days.” You see, I had counted it out in my day planner before I left… as I found myself wondering how in heaven’s name I’d be able to survive that long without Ed. We have not been apart that long since we met, almost two years ago. (Is that ALL??? God, so much life can happen in two years! Good lord!) Until this current separation, our record was the six weeks I spent at the Momshram this summer when I did yoga teacher training there. That was hard. Now I’ve been here for four weeks and one day. Yep, that means I have five weeks and two days left. I know, I sound sorta neurotic. But if you’ve ever had the luscious experience of being so close to someone… and your whole body simultaneously relaxes and melts, surges and swells with peace and passion and swirls of dynamic contentment… then you’ll understand. And if not, take my “world” for it, (that was a typo, but I like it!) it’s not something that’s easy to walk away from.

But the pain of loving a tangled up, married man IS. So I did. And every day, I feel like a zealous puppy, tied to a pole, dancing about in the undeniable tugs of desire and longing, and meanwhile getting hopelessly tangled. Wondering WHERE ON EARTH HAS MY MASTER GONE?? To translate that metaphor into plain english, it’s like this: I want to be with Ed like crazy. And when I say “be with him, I mean stand behind him while he does the dishes, pressing my (PREGNANT) body lovingly into his, reaching under his plain old t-shirt 😉 and squeezing his belly squish and caressing his massive heart… Sitting on his big, comfy lap and feeding him intentionally crafted bites of vibrant, rainbow-colored salads and organic meat… Or even just peeking out the window at him as he purposefully pushes the lawn mower… or bring him a cup of coffee and a kiss as he scrupulously dissects a gun in his man cave. Oh, the romance of that which is not so… sigh.

I know… I “should” be talking about the world I’m IN… there’s so much intricate grace and nuanced wonder and gorgeously flawed perfection all around me. But part of the world I’m in is that tangled leash that is my mind and heart clawing for a world that burns to be born. And it’s not just Ed I long for. It’s Alexandria too. Our daughter. She told me her name in a dream. Like the lighthouse. My longing to LOVE this extraordinary, luminous treasure of a soul into the world is like living every day in scorching, violet-gold flames. They rise from the bottom of my being and dance up in incessant swells that often consume my consciousness. And hence, inevitably, comes the ensuing mind-fuck of trying to figure out how to claw my way out of this hap-hazard scramble of reality, into the waking dream scene where I am gloriously pregnant in my sacred, cushy nest beside my King… it’s like some kamikaze rubix cube that the more I try to untwist, the more cryptic it becomes! These swells of longing and fixation gather like ocean waves of desire that surge and crash, humbling me back into the simplicity and perfection of each arduous and glorious moment of life.

At sunday service, Daiva told us that if we turn and face our lives without trying to change or manipulate circumstances and other people, we will realize that it is the sublime intelligence of God at work, conspiring for our inner freedom, perfect peace and ever-new joy. I know this to be true, in the silent Isness, that witnesses my unfurling life like a perfectly soft, all-embracing blanket of mother love. Somehow I AM living the right life! Even though it wobbles and it wants and it whimpers. Umm, actually, Athena, your LIFE does *not* whimper… YOU do. But you don’t have to… It’s a choice. Sigh. All I know, is that life feels mostly like a strenuous uphill climb. Like Olympic strength training that might not “make sense” in the sobering sting of the moment… but perhaps someday when I burst forth from my cacoon of destiny, and spread my heaven-spun, vivid wings, it will ALL MAKE SENSE.

Maybe. Or maybe only LOVING makes sense… Yeah. That might actually be the case. But somehow, we must live it all. Loving it all is optional. But probably a smart choice.

Om. Peace. Amen.

I Keep Going…

I just felt a surge of the secret pleasure that rushes through me when I am alone with my laptop, hovering on the threshold of a fresh linguistic expulsion. It’s this precursory sense of relief… an internal “ahhh…. ALL of me gets to exist!” …Without hinging on permission or validation or appropriateness OR any of the other complications that accompany human relationships. Well… Until I push “publish”… and then I always risk stepping on someone’s toes or poking at a tender spot, or being misunderstood. Sigh.

But my point stands. I am relieved to touch down in Athena Graceland this morning, and just BE ME… without being directed or coached by others to be more “spiritual”. Honestly, it’s a sharp-assed double edged sword to hang out in a spiritual community. Yogananda said, “environment is stronger than will”, and how true it is! For example, when I’m in the bay area, I love drinking wine and beer!!! But at Ananda, I could give a flying saint about booze. And I mostly love being surround by others who prioritize loving and serving God through ALL. It amplifies my proclivity to give myself to life and love. (Really, in this upside-down world, that’s the only thing that makes sense…) I’m sure you could look at your OWN life and find ample evidence of this assertion. People are like systems of cells in the body of God. Our thought and behavior is deeply woven with the intentions, actions and beliefs of those around us.

But where was I even going with that?… Oh, the double edged sword. Well… sometimes I see people hiding out behind the veneer of spiritual teachings. Just flinging out trite “wisdoms”, and meanwhile lingering in the shadowed “privacy” of their own bondage. I am a believer in mining the darkness with a sense of curious, surrendered humility. Otherwise you get lopsided and hollow.

I’m gonna stop my own train, right now. I don’t want to philosophize and make sweeping generalizations. I just want to say that I am in the darkest days of PMS and I’m having a really hard time swallowing the pill called “life as I know it”. If you think you’ve encountered a “horse pill” in your day… HA! Multiply that times its self and then add eleven twelfths of infinity. And there you shall find life as I know it.

I’m in an awkward phase of spiritual development. I KNOW that happiness does not exist in external things. Perfect happiness is our natural state, as children of God. But this perpetual ISness gets maniacally skewed by all of the ingrained habits, wrong, egoic beliefs, and attachments to future fulfillment and past pains and victories.

My mind feels like MUD. I look around me… and the sky is dark, the carpets are ancient and dingy, the walls are half-painted and everything smells just a wee bit skanky. (except at lunch and dinner time in the dining room!) (and I’m not even allowed to burn incense, for fear that I’ll set this old boarding school ablaze…) Every day is a new day to wake up and teach (“share”) yoga to my ONE devoted student, wash towers of dishes, scrub toilets, mop, vacuum, eat, meditate, flail and ache in my my love and longing with Ed ….

Ooops, I just lost that sense of spacious, unconditional self expression. I imagined Miriam reading this… and maybe feeling a little hurt… or thinking, “what an entitled little princess” . I guess that’s just ME thinking that of myself. It’s just that I thought life would be so different than this… when I “grew up”… I thought I’d be a “successful” writer… A spiritual teacher… A mother… A wife. I thought I’d live in a beautiful, luxurious home with an artistic, thriving garden…

Did I *really* think that??? I don’t know. But at some level… I thought I’d figure out how to earn money doing something that mattered to me and I’d be able to afford a “comfortable”, middle american existence and get on with the business of ignorant bliss that is maya. I wasn’t banking on the world as we know it coming undone at the seams, and meanwhile, being perpetually held at an arm’s length from the clarity of my own, soul-inspired dreams.

There are three affirmations, hand written on the door I walk through to get to the temple every morning. The last one says, “I believe that I have the strength to make my dreams come true.” I always make an effort to read them. But inevitably, I then grope about inside for “my dreams”… and come up short. Instead I find myself wondering WHAT IS REAL; WHAT MATTERS… and feeling fucked because I DON’T KNOW.

In reality, this is a GOOD thing. Because how many lives have I spent chasing dreams and desires that truly DON’T MATTER??!!! More than I care to divulge!! (even to own self!) There is power in landing in the place I am in, where I have come undone, and am hanging out in the unfamiliar, unknown, in-between space. Because FINALLY there is room for Truth to rise and bloom in me. If I’m filled to capacity with all my insidious delusions, how can Truth ever dawn? Impossible. But like I said, it’s awkward. And uncomfortable. And I miss being in the company of people who just say it like it is. On this path, people *seem* more inward and private about their process. And it makes me feel alienated and stripped of my humanity. But I guess this too is a double edged sword. Because people certainly CAN go overboard talking about their stupid, self-indulgent FEELINGS and endless inner processes. Sigh.

Screwed if you do, funked if you don’t. It’s all just a big circus, anyway! And what really matters is LOVING. And tapping the source of unconditional infinite joy within. But I haven’t found it. And the path is rocky and slow and frustrating. And plus, I can’t seem to get rid of Ed! The root system of our love is so deep, it is fixed into the soils of galaxies and dimensions I can’t for the life of me even begin to remember or undo. And in the mean time, my heart continues to be flayed open in the agony of cruel circumstance.

Dan always said, “ALL WE HAVE IS THE MOMENT!” “It’s about the moment.” But honestly, my moments feel like over-salted, mixed nuts…

Six thirty am. Still dark. My window is cracked open and cool, fresh, forest-kissed air slithers in and whispers about my bare feet and thirsting nostrils. It just started to rain and the sloshy, wet music caresses hidden spots in the life of my soul. My lips are sorta dry. My breasts, swollen and sore. I’m feeling relieved that I was able to stake my claim in this sprawling expanse of dancing, finite infinity and pour some words upon the page.

I know I am where I belong. I know that I am deeply loved. I know that I love deeply. Know… But sometimes knowing doesn’t feel like enough. Sometimes the gap between knowing and KNOWING is too much to bear. But like YOU, I keep going. Because that’s all there is to do.

Om. Peace. Amen.

I’m Still Alive!!! And Then Some….

Hello from Athena Graceland! Ahhh… just writing those words… was like brushing fine silk across my tender cheek! I love it here!!! There truly is no place like home! Well, I have some fantastic news:

I finally mustered the courage to hurl the unicorns overboard!!!

Whaaaat is she talking about? Well, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might recall that I have written a couple of blogs over the distant months, (or maybe even YEARS) where I’ve whined about feeling stuck, stagnant, frozen. Which somehow inevitably jogged my wild mind to the Doors song, where Jim Morrison recites that poem about “when the still seas conspire in armor… true sailing is dead… and the first animal is jettisoned… legs furiously pumping…” and I learned that he was making reference to a time when sailors would be at sea, and the water would get dangerously still. No waves. And they’d essentially be motionless in the vast, gaping mouth of salty blue purgatory… so they’d throw their horses overboard, in hopes that their collective thrashing would stimulate enough motion to get them sailing again. God this human myth can be so gruesome and cruel.

But it was the perfect metaphor for the experience that I have struggled with from time to time along my path, creative, spiritual and otherwise (Wait… what else IS there besides creative and spiritual? I think any other categories of existence could easily be boiled down to one of those to words… and even those could be simmered down to ONE.) Ahem. And now to drive home the point!… I am in Oregon now. Remember, I was invited to the Ananda community, “Laurelwood”, here in the pacific northwest? I’ve been here for two and a half weeks… And already, entire casual sprays of spiral galaxies have burst and surged and smeared across the inner scapes of my being. Hallelujah! The unicorns have pumped me free!! How fitting that it came to pass at the threshold of the YEAR of the unicorn (“Horse”, for all of you squares out there!)…

The clock just struck five am. And I must exclaim that I am THRILLED to be here, opening up, tipping over, and pouring out like an ecstatic little tea pot! Surprise! I thought maybe I wasn’t a writer anymore. But no… my inner sea was just on holiday in the land of the dead. The neon OPEN sign has just buzzed and burst back on. I have undergone a transfusion of life and inspiration and freshness.

Why have I waited two and a half weeks to drop you a line from the perpetual happily-ever-afters (wink) of Athena Graceland? OMG, because I have been so freakin busy!! They make you WORK here!!! Well… not so much at first, thank Jahova! I’ve had time to ease into the flow here. But now I’m at a full throttle thirty-five hours a week of washing dishes, chopping vegetables, scrubbing ancient toilets, vacuuming endless flights of stairs, leading sadhanas, MAKING ART (My creative ignition deserves its OWN blog. Stay tuned!)… and then some!

When I first got here, I felt like a spoiled princess who was horrified by the idea of breaking a nail, or missing her afternoon nap. Okay, honestly, I am still not that jazzed about forgoing nap time… But I am easing into a refreshing surrender to life here. Sometimes that includes the *luxury* of an afternoon nap, and sometimes NOT. Sometimes it means my “full eight hours”, and sometimes it means five and a half. But always, it means an opportunity to LET GO and let “good”. I am submerged in goodness here.

Miriam invited me into this potent, transformative, divine slice of God’s dream. She was Swami Kriyananda’s nurse… until he split the scene of this earthen crack-house (wink!) last april. And then she came here to be a powerful conduit of Divine Mother’s Love in a place that sorely needed it. One of the great mysteries of life: Miriam and I have a deep, pure and potent bond that far transcends the meager crumbs of time we have imbibed together in this life. We share a grace-full familiarity that is generous, loving and expansive, like sliding into a perfectly hot, rose petal laden bath. Being near her sublime light, burns through any piddly cloud-cover that may cross my inner landscape. It’s actually quite miraculous. If I were to count my blessings, I’d put this Goddess at the top, like a cherry on a hot fudgy sunday! (I know, Ma!… “Sundae is spelled with an E!!!… But don’t you love imagining the holiest day of the week, all inundated with rich, creamy, “tahitian” vanilla ice cream, bleeding slowly about everything, as it’s frozen sanctity is provoked by a sea of scandalously thick, hot, decadent fudge?! Right in the middle of Sunday Service! As you inevitably snooze through Jyotish’s inspired talk! Grin.)

ATHENA! Come back! Don’t be so frivolous with your words, when you have SO many worlds inside to reveal, and your readers can only endure about a thousand words, before their minds glaze over like fresh, hot donuts and they click back to the Facebook stream! Ha! But I’ll NEVER stop being frivolous… it brings me JOY. And at raja yoga class on tuesday night, Daiva reminded us that JOY is really at the heart of it all. EVERYTHING we do (yes that means YOU), is in pursuit of this essential nectar that eternally abides at the very center of our eternal ISness. But if it “eternally abides” within… WHY on earth do we chase after it in every fluttering shadow and seductive, distant mirage?? Indeed, a question worth pondering for at least a moment. But not for TOO long. Just long enough to inspire you to let go of the chase and OPEN to joy NOW. And now and now.

Yesterday was an intense day for me. Lots of powerful movement in my Relationship with “Eddie-word”, which I won’t even get into… Plus, running on five hours of sleep, PLUS a marathon day of serving in the kitchen, plumbing the depths of exhaustion, the slow, shy dawning of pms… blah, blah, blah… And it gave me a stellar opportunity to mine my present experience for concealed shards of joy. Because Daiva asserted that since joy is the essence of God, and we are MADE OF GOD, joy is imbued in *everything* and every moment. Lo and behold, I found it! Legs aching, mind grimacing as I begrudgingly sprayed oily, cheese crusted plates with an industrial kitchen hose… even then, I found a few nectarous drops of joy dribbling from the dark center of my self-imposed suffering!

It reminded me of the bushmen in africa, who must dig deeeeep into the parched earth for a root that contains three drops of water, which they skillfully squeeze into their calmly eager mouths and then proceed to be quenched for the rest of the day. A little joy goes a long way.

Good Lord! We’re already beyond the eleven-hundred word mark! God? What else do you bid me share with these luminous friends?

Well… there is sOMuch more… The people (kind, loving, hard-working, committed, quirky, mostly fun…), the place (a hundred year old, ex-seventh day adventist boarding school, snuggled in the middle of sparse, forested, “somewhere” of northern Oregon, the vivid, incessant dreams I’ve been having every night, the deep feeling of wholeness that is rising inside me like a brilliant, dripping, full super-moon, as I continue to surrender my grip on life as I knew it… The shaky, uncertain evolution of my Relationship with Ed, and my new-found willingness to release into the unknown, as I stand in my power and LOVE HIM unconditionally…

It’s all pure grace, really. My heart told me to come here. I listened. I am growing faster than a time-lapsed movie of a sprout. When I try to wrap my head around it all, I become dizzy! So I just keep scrubbing plates, meditating and singing to God, and loving the ones I’m with. It’s actually quite simple. Too simple. Life is not what I was conditioned to believe it to be… that’s for sure. And that’s a good thing. But still a little hard to accept in some moments.

“The Master says, ‘Open your heart to me, and I will enter and take charge of your life’…”

Well I did. And He did. And I’m glad.

Om. Peace. Amen.