Saturday, November 20, 2010

guidelines

There are many teachings that lead us to the One. I call them guidelines.

I collect guidelines, the same way I collect stones, feathers, and bones.

I started my collection at around age fifteen. Life kept confronting me with questions I was completely ill-equipped to answer. Why is there suffering? Why are we here? What is the right way to live? I felt lost without a map. So I started looking for directions. (This was way before Google Maps).

I discovered that no one had definitive answers to these questions, only helpful guidelines, like signposts and painted arrows along the journey.

Here's a good one: my first yoga teacher taught me that discernment begins with self-knowledge. She explained that we can know ourselves as a vibration, kind of like having your own ring tone. When you want to evaluate someone or something, (e.g. "Should I believe this?" or "Can I trust him?"), you simply tune into the vibration of the person or the thing, and then notice if it clashes or harmonizes with your own. I still practice this today when I am trying to make a decision about something. I compare ring tones.

Here's another: "Love is the answer." It's my bumper sticker. I bought it at a retreat with Ram Dass. Love is an easy-to-remember value to fall back onto. For example, having this slogan as a bumper sticker tends to keep me in check when I feel a bout of road rage coming on. Struggling with an urge to retaliate in some way, I will remember that my bumper sticker is publicly declaring me as a devotee of non-violence, and in order to avoid being seen as a hypocrite, I will opt instead to take a deep breath and relax.

"Peace" is touchstone word for me, as is "Light." Swami Radha, founder of Yasodhara Ashram, taught the Divine Light Invocation, a meditation which affirms:

"I am created by Divine Light
I am sustained by Divine Light
I am protected by Divine Light
I am surrounded by Divine Light
I am ever growing into Divine Light."

Looking once more at the photo, I allow my eyes to be drawn to the light. The many faces of my spiritual teachers float through my mind, and I feel gratitude swell up in my heart. By their grace, my collection of guidelines is now plentiful. And now I pray that I may follow them!

Friday, November 19, 2010

flow

I took this photograph in a forest in Oregon. I had stopped on a little bridge to savor this creek and the warm touch of sunlight that stretched through the trees.

When I look at this image now, I can't help but take in a deep breath, through my nose, as if I could once again smell the fresh, moist air alive in that spot.

These days I don't allow myself to breathe deeply through my nose very often. It isn't safe. Here, in the Silicon Valley, I live under a lens of perpetual smog. When my nostrils first encountered this grimy air, they promptly filled with mucous. Two years later, they're still clogged, and I'm glad. I figure the mucous protects me, like an air filter.

The longer I am deprived of Nature, the more I appreciate its healing powers. Just to walk into a forest is to be restored. There is a natural rhythm to life, like a song. When we are in tune with this rhythm, we flow with the current of life. Spending time in Nature is one the easiest and most enjoyable ways to attune oneself to the rhythm of life, to the flow.

One of my personal goals is to promote wellness through Nature. I envision leading groups of people in the wilderness, supporting them in their re-connection to Life. This vision excites me because I can imagine that it would increase wellness in myself and others, as well as to help heal the planet.

As we rediscover the glory of the Earth, we increasingly care about her well-being. We are motivated to take actions small and large to heal the wounds we have inflicted, and to protect her from further harm. In this way, our healing and the healing of the Earth are intertwined, or simply, one and the same.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

friends


I call this image "friends" because it's their togetherness that stands out to me. These two were hanging a little lower than the rest, and they were catching that late afternoon sunlight just right.

As the mid-November sun sets perceptibly earlier each day, I seek more comfort in the warmth of my friends. We seem to be laughing a little longer these days, a little louder. As the light dims, we draw instinctively closer.

When we relate to others, we engage in a process of reflection: the mirror of me reflects the image of you, and vice versa. Our friends, families, coworkers, strangers, and the precious beings of the more-than-human world all provide us with this gift of reflection. They give us the chance to see ourselves, and to experience ourselves in relationship to another. Experiencing oneself in relationship to another provides more than a sense of connection, it opens the heart to feeling our interconnection: not only do I reflect you, I am you. And when we experience ourselves as interconnected with any and all members of creation--even if only for a moment--we experience the "One," or "God," or simply, "Love."

My intention in creating this blog is to reach out and share of myself. I humbly offer the forthcoming images and words as an expression of my love of the One.