Shhhh…. Just Love.

I don’t want to talk about my Relationship again this morning… because it is currently a source of befuddlement and pain (in addition to the foundational qualities of deep connection and profound love)… I’m in this awkward place with it, where I move toward him, and it starts to hurt again, so I wonder if it’s *really* time to let go…. and move toward letting go, and guess what? It hurts too. So I move closer… and it hurts. I move away, and it hurts. And yes, this is a caricature sketch of my experience, rather than a scalpel precise cut. (And Ed, please don’t *react* to my testimony by needing to DO anything about it. The river is carrying us to the Land of Milk and Honey, no matter how we behave along the way. I’m just reporting on the scenery as we ecstatically thrash along the rapids…)

But I was serious (insert serious face here), when I said that I wasn’t gonna talk about it. (Except for a paragraph’s worth.) Instead, I shall talk about OTHER PEOPLE’S RELATIONSHIPS! At least for a semi-cheap paragraph… Hmm, this could end up being one of my more random blogs… kinda like the way my Ma cooks, when she’s freestylin… a few black beans, a half a potato, a tomato, a moderately sautéed onion, a few macaroni elbows, some herbs de provence, some cumin… Ummm… yeah, but you’ve gotta taste for the love beneath the anarchy! Gosh. I’m sure stepping on some toes in this blog. That’s the achilles heel of being a raw and interesting writer. If you are really committed to speaking your mind, you gotta deal with the inevitable, occasional wrong-way-rubbing. It’s not a job ya do for the “glamor”… strictly a compulsion of the soul.

So what’s here to express this morning, are some half-baked feelings about life in a spiritual community. It’s confusing for me, because I’ve got a wondering eye on “the future”… like is this microcosm of focused devotees, joined and working toward common goals something that I can see myself subscribing to for the long haul? In some moments it seems so obvious, like DUH, of course, Athena!… Where ELSE would you be, but with the meditating, serviceful GOD LOVERS??? But then in other moments, it all seems like such a sham! And people rub all up on my tender nerves…

I can’t help comparing the people here, to my Bay Area peeps. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area since I was less than two years old, I didn’t fully realize what a special place it is. Well, I sorta did… cuz I traveled enough to put my finger on the pulse of many other pockets of collective consciousness… But still, it’s easy to take the things that come easy for granted. I never had the experience of being the midwestern black sheep, who fled to the Bay Area like a tattered, starving refugee at age twenty-something, to find my kin. What I’m driving at, is that people in the Bay Are are so magnificently self aware and committed to the “work”, for the most part. They know how to relationally “get down” and share themselves and receive at a deep level. At least the people I surrounded myself with. People who did tons of personal growth, transformational work, and spelunking in wondrous caves consciousness. I find it not only refreshing, but deeply nourishing to connect with others at this level.

But surprisingly, here, there is much more of a spectrum of depth that people are available for. It seems like the spiritual path does not necessarily equate to depth of relating. I think many people substitute the spiritual path for “the work”… You know, the more rudimentary levels of growth, development and healing… the “stuff” fondly known as “our shit”… Areas of exploration that one might associate with the…dun, dun, dun….EGO!!!! Our friend the ego gets such a bad rap amongst “spiritual circles”. Like it’s some unsightly beast that requires continuous and covert beating into submissive mush. Sure, ultimately this notorious ISness will not be of any use to us as we merge back into the All Pervading Ocean of Love-Light. But in the mean time, it’s our benevolent vehicle through a vast jungle of “otherness”. We’d be utterly lost without this precious, confining sense of individuated identity.

Uh-oh, I feel myself getting sucked into the mires of nebulosity. Let me get Hemingway straight for a moment: I believe in the goodness of a healthy ego. And one of the dangers of walking a “spiritual path” (I put it in quotes, because I believe that the spiritual path takes as many forms as there are stars in the sky, or beings in the universe. If God is ALL, then ALL is God. And the only thing that supersedes that, is an individuals *temporary* commitment to ignorance, which is an unavoidable part of the dance of maya.) One of the dangers of walking a spiritual path, is SLEEP WALKING it. And using the teachings as a tool for avoidance of the inevitable (and endearing) pain of being human.

I guess I’m saying I miss my Bay Area friends. And the general cultural climate there. But then… That urban paradigm sure has its shortcomings… What a hoax, is the whole game of each wo/man for her/himself… living in little segregated boxes and ceaselessly striving, sweating and grasping to figure out the hidden formula for personal success and wealth. It just doesn’t make sense at this time. It’s exhausting. Sanity says that it’s time to come together and join for the common good. To give ourselves away in service of a world of harmony, kindness, balance and peace. I know, I’m being a hyper-critical perfectionist. And actually, God DESIGNED people to be hopelessly flawed and annoying, so that we would have ample opportunities to practice and perfect unconditional love and total forgiveness. Praise the lord! I’m just saying that I feel annoyed by people I perceive to be using the spiritual path to avoid sitting right in the messy center of their “stuff”. (fondly referred to as “the spiritual by-pass”) And I’m questioning whether I want a lifetime subscription to this slice of existence. It is very compelling… it is very repelling…

And another thing that weirds me out, is the way people around here behave in Relationship. Mostly, couples are so aloof and distant from one another, that it took me weeks to realize they were even together! I mean, to me, that’s just weird. Once Ed came to visit me at the Momshram. We had lunch at the Expanding Light with my Ma. After lunch I asked Ed if I could sit on his lap, and my Ma piped in, “No you can’t! There’s ‘decorum’ here.” I had to look up the word later…. but in the moment I knew that she meant that people don’t outwardly show affection around campus. It’s true. I’ve never seen anyone kiss or hug, or butt-grab, or deliciously squish on one another… It gets to be a bit of a buzz-kill after a few minutes. Shrug. I guess it’s not considered “yogic” to be affectionate… since one of our high-minded buddy, Patanjali’s yamas (“don’ts) was NON-SENSUALITY. Sigh. I don’t think he meant thou shalt not LOVE ON YOUR SWEETIE… I think he meant don’t identify AS, or be a little bitch to your senses. But come ON! Physical affection is ESSENTIAL to life. Babies who don’t get their snuggle on, DIE. And even though adults who do without touch don’t DIE, per se, essential parts of our healthy self-hood DO wither, and we DO act out in weird ways as a result of such starvation.

I’m just sayin’…. I’m not sure I could, in good conscience, sign up for a life-time subscription of this shade of nonsense.

But I do love being surrounded by meditators. And teachings of ultimate truth. And people who are committed to serving others, and being clear channels for God’s Love. Yogananda said “environment is stronger than will”. Which is why I have no desire to drink alcohol when I’m at Ananda… but then I go back to the Bay Area, and it’s not like I’m a booze hound… but I do like a glass of wine or a beer as often as it’s available to me! Just one. But… It’s not my highest. I want to be surrounded by those who are clearly aiming for the highest mark, of Self-Realization! The alternative is running around like a beheaded chicken. Which gets so stale, after a bazillion lifetimes… but… the details of the path are certainly imperfect. No matter which path one chooses to scale the towering “Mount Infinity”. This is just my mind scrambling for a strain of perfection that this world was not designed to offer. People, places, paths…. They’re all wrought with flaws, Mrs. Grace… Your job is to LOVE in the face of this unavoidable ISness, and keep your heart’s eyes on the “Big Prize”. Just love. And laugh. And when tears come, let them flow. Just keep letting go and letting God. And stop believing that you’ll ever “figure it out”… (notice that I didn’t say “stop trying”… because I like trying to figure it out… For SPORT…) but TRUE realization is borne of stillness and silence.

Shhhhh…. Just LOVE.

Om. Peace. Amen.

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Linguistic Tantra

Linguistic tantra. Those words came to me as I was falling asleep last night. That is what I do here on the page. Tantra is (yikes, that’s a dangerous way to begin a sentence… “tantra is”… especially for a naïve, young western woman such as myself. How bout “tantra as I have come to understand it is”…) an ancient spiritual path dedicated to spiritual realization through embodiment, rather than transcendence. Another definition of tantra is to weave, remember? I would say that in this blog, I exercise both of those elements.

People ask me what my blog is “about”… so I give this topic plenty of thought… (I just realized if you scramble the letters of blog, you get GLOB!) Mostly what I come to upon contemplation of this question of intention and essence is that this blog is a forum for full disclosure of my [nearly] unbridled mind, and therefore, my humanity, and therefore, the divinity implicit within that. (And paradoxically, I do this both entirely selfishly, because it is more fun than anything else in the world for me, and selflessly, because I yearn to inspire you, set you free, invite you to relate to yourself and the world through this celebratory, holistic and liberated view) In the recent evolution of our collective quest to realize ourselves as spiritual beings, we tend to give over so much of our own power and authority to outside sources; teachers, priests, people with shmancy letters after their names, etc. We are constantly assessing ourselves, others and the world in terms of “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, “spiritual or not spiritual”… and personally, I find all of this stifling and generally blasphemous.

Maybe I’ll just put some erudite letters after my name. Athena Grace LMNOP. There. Did that make my words gain some substantial weight? Ahem, Athena? You have to BLEED to earn letters. You have to study so hard that you have no time to exercise and your pants no longer fit on your lardy, sedentary, though academically elite body and your friends forget you exist. You have to read a copious amount of mile high academic books written by very “important” people you’ve never heard of that put you to sleep after two minutes. (I guess you can surmise my attitude toward higher education… Listen, it has its place… I know. Nothing is BLACK and WHITE (except black and white, of course).

But I HAVE earned my LMNOP. Where? In the school of mostly soft knocks. Life, I mean. Yeah, by the grace of All Pervading Yummy-ness (I used the word “yummy” because it makes Mykael cringe and dry heave… in the best way…) life usually doesn’t have to knock TOO gut wrenchingly hard to get my attention. Soft knocks are analogous to grimace inducing activities such as getting a filling at the dentist. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s not that bad. I mean it’s no goddamn champagne brunch in an English garden to spend a day with a mouth full of novocain, but it’s far, far, FAR from the end of the world, or even damaging in the least. In fact, it’s actually a useful, long term investment. But still, though each individual knock may be construed as “soft”, they DO add up, and I have been knocked around enough to be an authority on some things…

I am expert enough to know that you can’t just go drawing lines in the sand of life and declaring that “this” is spiritual, but “that” isn’t. Oh, well, I suppose you CAN, but doing so is comparable to chopping off some of your very own limbs or cutting out arbitrary vital organs. “I need my heart… but this old liver… man, it’s just kinda gross looking… It infallibly makes me cringe when someone says “I fell off the path”, referring to their spiritual path. News flash~ Spiritual paths do not go in STRAIGHT LINES. They twist and turn every which way like the love child of a new fangled, treacherous, barf-a-licious rollercoaster and the world’s most ornately tangled pretzel. That’s just the way it is. Even someone who takes a side trip along the less than romantic and way less than esteemed road of alcoholism… or murder… is on their spiritual path. For God’s sake, stop chopping life up in little pieces and driving around with it hidden in the condemning recesses of your trunk! Come on, then, make yourself useful around here, and get to forgiving!

Linguistic tantra. Another facet of what I do here on the page is I play. Have you heard the Sanskrit term, “Lila”? It means the divine play. The tantras describe this world of maya (illusion) as an elaborate and frivolous divine play. Just for the sheer monkey of it! Microcosmically, that is what I do here on the page. (Even when I feel serious, I usually can still locate at least one single goofball bone SOMEwhere in this heavenly body of mine, and I unleash it on the page in the name of remembering the implicit Hokey Pokiness of life.)

I’ve already written about the weaving aspect. But just to reiterate, I weave all the voices, hearts, beliefs and images that slide through my moment to moment experience both inside and out.

This blog is also a convergence of heart and mind. In the shower this morning, I realized that the voice (throat) is located smack dab betwixt the heart and the head. Frankly, I find this thrilling, since what could be more necessary in life than a peaceful, harmonious and inspired marriage between heart and mind? Gosh, come to think of it, that’s fundamentally the same as striking a healthy balance between the divine feminine and the divine masculine, which seems to be what we are all clumsily attempting these days here on planet earth. Once, in a tantric philosophy lecture, my teacher stated that “man”, the root of the word “mantra” means both heart and mind in Sanskrit, and “tra” means to traverse. So mantra is a traversal of the heart and mind! And so is this blog, a playful traversal of my heart and mind. But Jesus, it’s a pretty longwinded mantra…

Linguistic, mantric, tantric spiritual freestyle. That’s what I’ll tell people my blog is “about” from now on.