Monday, September 28, 2009

Blissed Out

Finding unconditional love starts with me. I am the one that allows this love to unfold. God is present and waiting for me to make this discovery: that unconditional love starts with me. It starts with me!

Wow, it is really simple.

I was at One Spirit this weekend. This was my first weekend of Spiritual Counseling and my first weekend as a Dean’s Assistant to the second year seminary. I was torn as to where I wanted to be. The second year seminary class won out. When I walked into that room, I knew I needed to be there. I felt such love, such acceptance and joy.

Then it hit me that was the energy that I was putting out and that was the energy that I received. I also noticed that some were not in the same bliss that I felt and that was because they had not quite allowed themselves to go there.

We are the arbiter of our own happiness and peace.

Someone this weekend said that we have our being and our spirit is guided by our being. Our spirit can be in joy or it can be trapped in misery, but our soul always dwells in God. Our soul dwells in God.

I felt so connected to everyone around me because I was allowing my spirit to dwell in the soul.

This weekend was also the start of my spiritual counseling training. I missed most of the weekend because of the conflict with the seminary. Hopefully, I will catch up, but missing it was worth it so that I could experience this bliss. I was whirling and swirling in love all weekend and the feeling is with me still this morning.

God is beautiful. Life is beautiful. Love is beautiful.

I am love. I am beautiful. I am God’s being. Amen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan wrote a song called Subterranean Homesick Blues in 1965. Now I knew that song way back when, but I really hadn’t thought of it or listened to it in many years. A few days ago, iTunes created a playlist from the songs in my iTunes library and Subterranean Homesick Blues showed up on the playlist and I became reacquainted with this song.

One particular line jumped out from all the others as I listened to it and for some reason it has been stuck in my head ever since. The line is “…You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows…” Well, isn’t that true?

We have ceded our personal power to experts of all kinds and we do it every day. Do you listen to the weather forecast on TV or do you stick you head out the door to see which way the wind blows? Does the priest know your soul better than you know your own? Does the doctor know your body better than you? Does your investment banker know your needs more intimately than you?

Think about this for just a minute. I have been thinking about that line for days now and I think it is very profound when taken from the perspective of our own power, knowledge, or intuition. So many times, I turn to my doctor to tell that I have a cold and that I need to rest. My body told me that, but I didn’t hear. It takes my doctor to tell me what I already knew.

I suppose that the roots of this are in my past. I have struggled with insecurity for years. As a child, I had no personal power. Children generally have no personal power. In a healthy and nurturing environment, as children mature and grow they attain increasing amounts of say so over their personal being. However, in unhealthy atmosphere a child ‘complies to survive’ and never is fully actualized. Complying becomes a way of life. We rely on the priest to save our soul, the banker to tell us what to do with our money, the doctor to keep us healthy and the weatherman to tell us which way the wind blows.

Take back your personal power. Look within and find the answers, they are there all ready, just look and see them.

I traveled all the way to India to meet God. I felt that if I were in a place surrounded by spirit, doing spiritual things, meditating, going to Darshan and sitting on a marble floor for hours at a time, I would meet God face to face. I didn’t meet God, I didn’t have a great spiritual awakening. What I got was a sore back from sitting on the temple floor for hours at a time. It was a little disappointing… until I heard Subterranean Homesick Blues. I don’t need the weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, all I need do is to open the door and look for myself.

All I need do is to look within and God is there. God has always been there. God is my granddaughter’s laugh, in my dog’s eyes, in the clouds, the trees and anything else that I could possibly see. I don’t need a priest, guru, book or anything else. Perhaps a little guidance from a learned source is all I need.
Sometimes I come to a spot on the road that branches off in different directions and I am unsure of which path to follow. In those times, perhaps, a teacher or advisor would be helpful. We all need a little help occasionally. But, no one needs to tell me which path to follow in the end. What I truly need is to listen within my myself, breathe and sense my way, to feel the way. All paths lead to the same place in the end; it is the journey that changes. So, ultimately it doesn’t really make a difference which path I take. I will get there eventually. I will find my way home. I don’t need a weatherman to tell me which way the wind blows.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reflections of India

I am back from India. It was a difficult and trying journey and no pleasure cruise… that’s for sure. Yesterday I was telling people at hospice about the trip and as I was speaking I realized that I didn’t sound very positive and I’m sure they think that I didn’t have a good time. While that’s true, it wasn’t a pleasure cruise, it was the trip of a lifetime. There was nothing alien or foreign to me. I felt like I was home from the very first moment when I stepped off the plane.

My sense of familiarity could have come because physically India and Israel share similar attributes in architecture, climate, and attitude. But, beyond that, I felt like I had come home. I feel that I have spent many lifetimes in India. There was a sense of karmic debt being paid, especially in Varanasi and on the Ganges. I did a pooja with the help of a priest to honor my ancestors and that small ceremony helped fulfill that debt. I had a sense of closure while it was all happening. However, it was only upon reflection later that I realized that there was a deep sense of completion and a closing of the circle to the entire event.

The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful man made thing I have ever seen. It is pure perfection and inspiration. It is balanced. The marble glows. It is everything that I thought it would be and far beyond. I loved it even though it poured for much of the day.

Varanasi was my favorite part of the trip. Varanasi is crazy and chaotic. I have never seen so much commotion and chaos on the street. Horns are blaring, cows are everywhere, rickshaws, dogs, ox-drawn carts, motorcycles, pedestrians, commerce, trucks and cars… all on a street that is no more than a side street here. At first, I wanted to run back to Delhi, I felt a sense of panic being trapped in this riotous traffic. It took about a day for me to settle down and to realize how incredibly normal this was for everyone around me. I settled in. Soon, I came to enjoy it and to feel a part of it all. Even when Martha and I were almost run over, it seemed like fun.

Indians have a sense of karma that pervades everything. They first and foremost want to do no harm, so if a cow is lying in the middle of the road blocking traffic, everyone finds a way to go around the cow. No one moves the cow. This is where the cow needs to be and they will allow it to have its destiny. If the cow gets killed then it was its karma and the karma of the person that killed it. No one will harm anything else intentionally or out of frustration… it just is as it is. I found this to be Indians most endearing quality. Let it be sums it up.

While in Varanasi we took two boat rides on the Ganges, both in the early morning. One as a tour and one Martha and I just rented the boat and went out. I loved both of them, but especially the one that we took with our lovely boatman, whose name I have forgotten. I may have forgotten his name, but I will never forget him. He was a marvel. His English was poor, but his energy and spirit was perfect. He worked like a horse, when he had to and coasted when it was at all feasible. He took us all the way across the river, which was really hard to do given the breeze and the current. He was playful, splashing Martha when she balked at getting into the water. I would not go in. But, Martha bathed in the water and was blessed.

I loved that boat ride because we were in a part of the river that tourists don’t go. There were only Indians bathing, and being in community with each other. I know we were the anomaly, yet they accepted our presence just as they accept the cow in the road.

The Shiva temple was amazing. Again it was chaos. Worship happens so fast that I found it difficult to garner a sense of spirit in the fray. People flow into the temple, they pour milk over the Shiva Lingam, place flowers, touch the lingam, touch their heads, lips and heart and move on. Fast, fast. Not more than thirty seconds elapsed. To my Western mind that is used to quiet and thoughtful meditation and prayer it seemed more like being hustled and jostled. Indian women can compete with any linebacker in the NFL, they can move mountains if they want to be in the spot that you are in. So, my milk got dumped before it ever made it to the Shiva Lingam, my flowers never hit the mark and I couldn’t understand what the hell was going on anyway. It was just too fast. The deep sense of spirit that I hoped to feel was not to be realized. I never found God there and I was sure I would.

What I learned primarily, is that God is with me no matter where I go. I need look no further than the tree outside my window, in the eagerness of my dog or in the mirror to be in touch with the Divine. Yes, of course, God is in India too. But, I did not need to travel thousands of miles to go look for him, he is here, right now and never leaves. All I need to is to breathe and I am there. Spiritual journeys are journeys into self. Journeys that never need go anywhere. God is with me… always. And God is present in every moment, whether it is sitting in my own backyard or getting pushed around by Indian women that want me out of there way, God is there.

So, India was all that I thought it would be. I found my karmic home. I loved the people and the cows and the chaos. God was with me. But, I love being home too. I feel so blessed to live here. As the astrologer said, ‘You were very saintly in your past life and you earned much good karma for the life you live today.” I feel blessed that my karma is good and that I live the life I live. Like Dorothy said in the Wizard of OZ, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

That being said, I’m already planning my next trip to India. Next time, Dharmasala and the Himalayas and Jon is coming with me…