Saturday, July 14, 2012

We aren't looking for the Goddamn Particle. We're looking for the field.

As many of you know, the fambly and I are awaiting a new recruit, who is presently taking up way too much space in my humongous belly. Within a matter of weeks, the shit is really gonna hit the fan.  

I'm scared, to be quite honest; Zavier is almost 19 months old and all full of piss and vinegar, and to have a little vulnerable and noisy and sleepless babe about in the midst of Zavi-land seems insane. 

How long will it take for a body part to get bit off? Right now we can pretty much contain him, flanking him with our larger bodies. He just ricochets off the walls that we are, and we amuse him and snuggle him and feed him enough that doesn't so much notice that we are keeping him from mischief. But the symmetry of the system is about to be broken, once again. 

However, and this is a huge however, I am also well aware that I know nothing. I had no earthly idea what would happen to me when I had Zavi. I was scared then, too; life as a non-mother had a certain ease and symmetry to it that I knew was about to rupture. I actually thought that I wouldn't really like him as a baby that much, and that I could outsource a bit of his care until he got a little personality and mobility. I had no idea that some kind of magical glen inside myself would open up and change everything into kaleidoscopes. Something about falling madly in love with a little redheaded monster gave everything technicolor, and brings me daily to my knees. 

It's like the whole world gained mass, substance. I finally grok 'family'; my own and the the phenomena of it, and I surrender more to the happy/sad sandwich of life. Everything has deepened, because I really, really, really like Zavi. Even when he's obstinate and self-absorbed, which is regularly. 

The 'discovery' of the Higgs boson last week reminded me of all of this. 

Physicists spend many a sleepless night analyzing data in order to provide evidence of this teensy little particle principally because it gives us proof of and understanding of an energetic field. That field is responsible for imbuing particles with mass.

In somewhat this same way, the magical little field inside of myself opened up when the particle named Zavi was found, and now everything that moves through the field has mass; gravitas... specifically because of relationship. So I can only hope that, in the bringing in of baby 2,  some sort of magical field will again open up, and give my anxiety a place to rest.

 I see a parallel to the process of yoga practice here. We seek, in asana practice, to create poses; we simply structure our physical forms in specific ways. This re-arranging of our molecules to create strange and pretty shapes is really not all that compelling on its own, however.  I suspect we'd never drag ourselves out of our caves for it, if it were not for the fact that somehow when we create these poses, it gives us access to an energetic field within that is crucial for giving our lives weightiness; the guru principle. 

We forget, of course, that what the pose looks like, or how advanced our practice appears, is really inconsequential. 

We're not looking for the particle. We're looking for the field. 

But the particle and the field are each other's complement, and our attention to detail in the practice can yield the awareness state that is a balm on the parts of ourselves that still wallow in confusion. 

Like the Zen folks say, 'form is not different from emptiness. emptiness is not different from form.' We find access to our spaciousness, by simply holding our bodies in a particular way, and breathing consciously there. And in so doing the relationships that make up our lives, that give life it's gravitas, find their way to balance, even though we're all alone on the mat, in our own little energetic fields.

Life; all oddity and paradox: Thank you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Maha Shivaratri: Circumambulate Yourself.

Shiva's favorite moment of the year is upon us; today is the day that the Shaivites fast all day and stay awake all night, praying and chanting and anointing the various murtis of Shiva (particularly the Shiva Lingam) with milk and honey, bael leaves and wood apple, and vermillion paste. So, if you wish to celebrate in traditional fashion, get to work gathering your puja items. However, if all of that fanfare feels a bit foreign to you, consider this: what the yogi engaged in ritual is really doing is sending a message to their own consciousness that their fondest wish is to awaken, such that they may reside in the clarity and peace of that awakened state.
If that indeed is also your fondest wish (and whose is it not?) then you could also dispense of the ritual... Or, better said, absorb the ritual's intention into yourself, and, metaphorically, circumambulate yourself, as the holiest mountain you know. This, it seems to me, is what we most crave, what we most desire; simply to recognize the sacred nature of our own self, and to have the sustained inclination to remain inside that recognition.
It is said that the nature of consciousness is 'niralambaya tejase', which means that our consciousness is luminous, shimmering, and awake, and that this quality of luminosity is not resting upon any external support. In other words, regardless of whether or not you have a job, or whether or not your parents or your spouse or your children or your teachers or your students believe in you or approve of you, you are still just as illuminated: this is the essence of consciousness. It doesn't matter if you have a checkered past or string of failures behind you, or if you've never lived up to what was expected of you; your consciousness is ever-luminous, ever-brilliant.
Unfortunately we are fairly entrenched in the thought constructs dictated by conditioning, and all the patterns we've been building through our years on the planet. So it can be hard to remember our luminosity. In the trap of the painful web of conditioning, people easily abdicate control, and lean on the hope that some God or some Guru or some Lover out there will take the edge off, or perhaps bring ultimate salvation. But in 'our' system, and by that I mean the philosophy upon which Anusara rests, this revelation is right here and right now. The nature of Shiva, of consciousness, is "nisprapanchaya shantaya": Peace that is not beyond the fiveness that is this Earth, this worldly realm, this realm of experience. The peace that we are so desirous of is actually already here, on this green earth, and precisely on the little piece of it that you already occupy. Everything that we need, we already have, and everything that we have is exactly what we need. So, while a bit of ghee and milk smeared on your Shiva Murti is certainly not going to hurt, it is also not at all necessary, because all you really need is to circumambulate your own luminous self.

Another deep teaching of this system is that the essence of consciousness is 'Svatantrya'; total, utter, complete, absolute freedom. Therefore, no obligation to circumambulate anything. It's perfectly fine if we'd prefer to stay cozily asleep for a few more kalpas. And when we choose that we are ready to be free, we realize only that we are free already.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blessings of the never not broken-ness

I just saw this stupid little clip from the Food Network. The chef and team spent weeks, literally weeks, constructing this totally cheesy christmas castle cake thing. It was as big as my dining room table, and dripping in bling, outrageously ornate. Not really my style, but my sweet aunt, the queen of knick-knacks and bric-a-brac, would die to have it. She knows what makes a house a home. She has a room dedicated to teddy bears. To be fair, these Food Network people are professionals; they toiled and toiled on what was undeniably a work of 'art'. Anyway, one of the chef's assistants hadn't been trained right on the flambe bit, and she fumbled; somehow the whole thing caught on fire. The studio audience was horrified as the melty castle went up in flames, and then was unceremoniously doused with the nasty white chemicals of the fire extinguisher. This is what tugs on heartstrings. This is what makes a story. Gain and loss, loss and gain, the stuff of life.
I can't watch TV because I endlessly seek metaphor. This stupid little story, to me, became poignantly meaningful. For this is what we humans do; build edifices around us, of beauty and glory and sweetness, and then we stand by as some fluke ignites it all, burns it all to the ground. Our illusions are busted into a gazillion pieces, over and over again. But so cleverly we convince ourselves that we are something cohesive and stable and secure, and colluding with this fantasy, build anew. This is the way of conditioned mind, and, one could argue, the legacy of hope.
There is a somewhat obscure goddess in the ancient lore of the tantras who presides over, blesses, and is quite amused by the broken-ness that we are. She is Akhilandeshvari, the never-not-broken goddess. Ishvara is one term for God, or the Supreme, and the 'eshvari' of her name is simply the female designation. Akhilanda means, in classic Sanskrit 'krunti' style, in twisted playful-ness, the Never Not Broken. She is fierce and playful, and defies definition. She is utterly adaptive, a chameleon who steps over and over again into flux. She is comfortable there, in the constancy of change. She wants nothing other than to be never not broken. Her vehicle (all the deities have one) is a crocodile, who, in crocodile fashion, takes her to the river (the ultimate symbol of flow) and spins her silly with delirium. She has chosen to mount this particular creature, who takes his prey in his jaws and spins and spins and spins until his plaything is utterly disoriented, because she WANTS to live in that disoriented state where there is no shred of constancy or solidity. She refuses to be confined to one self; she is a changeling, a shapeshifter.
The gods and goddesses are not apart from us; once we let them into our consciousness, they are archetypes that swirl about within. In the thunderstorm, when the sky is cracking open with bolts of light, when somehow our foundation has been torn down by the inevitable forces of change, Akhilandeshvari reigns supreme; she blesses our breakdowns and breakthroughs, and is utterly amused by the collage-like chaos of life. When we are lost in the veld, or being chased by an avalanche, when we've been left by our lovers, fired without cause, foreclosed upon, betrayed somehow, anyhow, by a world that disregards our expectations, she is with us. Anytime that our reality gets so broken that we don't know which end is up, where to turn, or who we are, she is in the center of the breaking. She sits atop the rubble that life can become, as a monk sits on the charnel grounds, content and fulfilled, meditating on the inevitability of decay. But she doesn't just bless us when we're curled up in a ball in despair! She is just as consistently present when we get an offer we can't refuse, some lottery of life that turns reality into pure magic but requires that we leave all we know; the treasure map falls into our hands, or an unsolicited suitor comes along to shift our lives into something richer and deeper than we could have dreamt up. In those moments, when we are too cowardly to step into the new-ness, she eggs us on. She blesses the 'bad' breakdowns just as she blesses the 'good'; she is undiscriminating. She blesses the break from routine. She delivers us from our complacency, and ushers us into our own fierce capacity to remake ourselves.
As we all know, most of us aren't on great terms with Akhilandeshvari. The norm is to dread change, to cling to things as they are, or to look always to the outside for the cause of our dissatisfaction. We cuddle around our little hearths of safety, not really fulfilled, but comfortable. We curl up in relationships that feel stable even as they refuse to grow, or in addictions that take the edge off, fantasy games that give us avatars to hide in, hours of facebook or political commentaries or tv shows that interminably serve up the same hollow, canned laughter, and lull us into numbness. But life is fierce; it insists upon change, and our castle walls will ignite and burn to the ground eventually. Akhilandeshvari is pleased, and she wants us to want her. She would like a more steady relationship with us. It can be an open relationship, she is not possessive. But she glows when we attend to her; when we decide to leap into the unknown, to look within for the source of fulfillment. She invites us to invite change, to energize ourselves to create, and to reject the sticky web of false security.
I just discovered this Goddess last week, as the rain began and finally the ground darkened and softened. Synchronistically, the Chinese year of the Water Dragon is beginning, and we fall into the flames that pour out of the mouth of the mystical. The water dragon invites us into the unexpected, the spontaneous, the unknown. The dragon breathes fire onto our castle walls, until it all melts down, and we have nothing we wish to cling to, and no fear of the fear anymore. With any luck, the NeverNotBroken-ness that we inevitably are will be more palatable in the year of the dragon, as we recognize that we, too, are breathers of fire.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We've crossed the portal. 2012 is upon us!

Good Morning, 2012. It's nice to meet you. I've had some rough days lately, but let me be clear, since we're just meeting, that I am in love with this beautiful world. My 1 year old baby awoke the other day at some wretched hour before dawn. I faked sleep, but I was conquered; Zavier has discovered the silky strands of something that grow out of my scalp, and in his innocent curiosity, he tries to extract them from my person. And then he tries to open my mouth for me, and when I roll over, he smacks me in the head, which I'm sure is also pure and innocent. I told him nicely that I would like him to go the fuck to sleep but he looked at me quizzically and carried on. I begged. To no avail. I arose. We walked out to
see the Christmas tree, which he looked at as if he'd never seen it. It glowed and twinkled, all lit up in the darkness. He stared at the shimmering tree, and then up at me in awe, and then back again. The look of absolute amazement and wonder on his little face was priceless, and lifted me from my grumpy, sleepy grog. That is what they call in yoga Abhuta: Wonder. That is what it's all about.
So, I remembered that I am in love with this beautiful world. And I pray that I stay centered in that remembrance throughout this shiny new year of 2012. I say that in the midst of being poignantly sleep-deprived, and a bit overwhelmed in my own little life, and painfully aware of the world's global broken-ness; all of the chaos resulting from humans not really yet having learned how to manage our overwhelming feelings, our needs, and more than anything, our habit of hitching our sense of self and well being to things that have nothing to do with us. I pray that we nestle back into our own centers, that we spoon with ourselves, and reconnect with the simplicity in the core that is already free, and already full, and let the love that we find there guide our movement in the world. May we, from that sense of deep and enduring settled-ness in ourselves, be capable of great cooperation with others, and may that cooperation beget tremendous creativity. May we collaborate to find solutions to our deepest struggles. May we cooperate with the earth, and live in respect of her abundance and her limitations. May all of our relations be saturated with love for this beautiful world.