Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Real Journey Home

Tonight is Harvest Full Moon in Jupiter (expansion and opportunity). With the Moon, reflecting our inner life and deep feminine mysteries, this Equinox window, invites us to give thanks for all we have harvested in our lives, and amplify prayers for future fruition. May we give equal respect and embracement to both light and dark aspects of our lives and our world.

Holding a space of equanimity, while letting go of toxic behaviors, relationships, agreement fields and patterns, refreshes our ability to earnestly pray for the new beginnings and opportunities that will support the flourishing of our hearts and lives.

My prayer for all of us at this auspicious time begins with finding our way home and letting our hearts lead the way.

I woke up the other morning feeling disoriented... totally and utterally lost, actually. I wrote in my gratitude and goal journals, and rose to meet the day. By the time I went out on my favorite running meditation loop, it was already in the triple digits. But hey, I was already burning inside - I figured I could formalize it and have the elements cook me out of my head as well. And that they did.

The first couple of miles snaked through dense Sonoran desert arollo. I was graced by the medicine of lizards, quail, rabbits and roadrunners. I know my way instinctively through these trails, and recognize the curves of the canyon, like my own body. Then, the loop climbs out of the canyon and onto a high foothills neighborhood with gorgeous, monstrous homes.

Holding the space of equanimity, I transitioned from the unity of nature to the duality of the marketplace. I was in a maze of streets and grid of suburbia. It is beautiful, don't get me wrong. Bougainvillea blooming in bright fuchsias, reds and purples, majestic saguaros and ocotillos reaching skyward and landscaping abundant with bubbling water features surrounded me. And spectacular mountain views!

The funny thing is that the loop returns to my house on a sort of convoluted route, that no matter how many times I take it "seems" misdirected. By my mental compass, it appears to be taking me in the "wrong" direction, yet by my heart intuition, I know, it is the "right" way. Even though I feel I might be lost, it inevitably leads me "home," every time.

There is no guilt or shame in this metaphor, of losing and finding our way, of being confused and disoriented on a life path. There is simply a burning to find the essence, and return home, again and again. That is the heart of my sadhana. That is the heart of my full moon prayer for us and that is the segue into the wisdom story I am about to share with you.

I call it the touchstone story. It is based on a true story, told by Radhanath Swami at BhaktiFest, and retold today, innovated with my biases and filters. Regardless, it comes with love. May you take from it whatever is yours to receive.

There was once a wise holy man who was formally a very wealthy consultant to a prime minister. He had accumulated financial treasures, land, homes, livestock and wealth beyond measure. He was highly respected and sought after for his counsel. He reached a point of awakening on his life journey where devotion and the love of God became primary. He chose to relinquish his worldly responsibilities in the marketplace.

The prime minister who depended on his
counsel was furious and imprisoned him, so that he could maintain access to him, expanding his own wealth and power. Finally, this holy man escaped the prison. He became a fugitive, running from the law, giving up everything he had earned and known, in order to have his God life.

He ran to
safety and found sanctuary under the shade of a mango tree far, far away. There he lived on top of a hill under a tree, in total devotion and communion with the divine. Now, there was a villager who wanted wealth and success above all else. In his ambitious search for a better life, he came across a seer who told him of this holy man and the "touchstone" he had in his possession that would turn everything into gold. The villager set out to find him and did. When he approached the holy man, he was surprised to see that he was a simpleton, in a loin cloth, somehow happy, even ecstatic with just being under this tree.

He said to him, "I hear you have a touchstone. But if you do, why do you live so
simply and have no signs of wealth around you?"

The holy man replied that he had infinite
wealth, beyond measure, and had no use for the touchstone anymore.

"Well, "said the Villager,
"I want wealth, I want money and fame and success. Where is that touchstone? Can I have it?" "Yes, you can," said the holy man. "It is in that large heap of garbage on the other side of the hill, near the river."

The villager, ran to the garbage heap and dove in, searching madly for the
touchstone. He sorted through all kinds of funk and rot until he found the touchstone! He frantically ran down the hill and went on to amass gold, homes, land, abundant wealth, and fame. He was surrounded by more wealth than he ever could have imagined or dreamed of, yet he was still not happy. He went back to the sacred hill and found the holy man once again...still sitting in ecstasy, at one with God.

The villager said,
"Holy man, I have all this wealth, but I am still not happy. What is it that YOU have? I want what you have. If you gave up this touchstone and all the wealth that came with it, surely, you must have something better. I want it. "

The holy man smiled and said, "I will
gladly give you what I have, but you must be willing to let go of the touchstone. You must be willing to throw it in the river. Can you do that?"

"I don't know," said the villager. I
have never had it so well. I have so much wealth and power. What if it does not get any better than this? I don't know if I can throw away the touchstone." After working with his own greed, fear and attachment, the villager finally plunged the touchstone into the river and came running back to the holy man. "I am ready", he said, "Give me what you have. Give me what is better."

The holy
man gave him the Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, which promised eternal, unlimited, ecstatic communion with the Divine.

According to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupâda, "Chanting this mantra brings transcendental consciousness...this maha-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, brings one into divine
ecstasy. "

And so, this is the heart of the wisdom story...whatever your path, mantra, prayer or practice, find one that is a direct taproot to the ONE. Are you willing to give up what you thought was the best thing in life, relationships, reality you ever had...for something better? For the only real and everlasting love?

What, if anything have you settled for in your life, believing it is the best it can ever get? Have you settled for an egoic drive, a limiting paradigm, a toxic mimic of real truth, real love, real possibility of awakening?

Where, if at all, have you lied to or betrayed yourself, self-medicated or agreed to stay in a comfortable yet medicocre state? Where, if at all, could you let go, surrender
and dive deeper into your own embodiment of divine love, light and communion? You decide.
Your heart knows the way home.

Me? That touch stone is deep in the bottom of the river. And though I may find another, and another, I will keep tossing them away and going for the real touchstone and only lasting treasure of the heart...the eternal presence.

Radhanath Swami says "Real spiritual life is not necessarily about changing our position in society. It is about transforming our hearts....overcoming selfishness and learning the beauty and art of seva, selfless service...Spirituality is meant to transform arrogance into humility, greed into generosity, vengeance into forgiveness, hate into love, criticism into appreciation, hopelessness into hopefulness...It is meant to transform us into becoming instruments of the inner peace that is in our heart with God...That is the real journey home."

This full moonrise, I will be chanting the maha mantra. I will be honoring the marketplace as well as the natural world with equanimity. I will open a space to embody the divine marriage of both material and spiritual wealth. I will pray to utilize the embodiment of that abundant wealth to serve the world, from a full and healthy heart.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tales From the God Life-Falling Into Love...

"When you are falling , dive."Joseph Campbell

This Summer has been an over the top flow and fall into the deepest love, mystery and unity I have ever known. Even while surfing these currents of grace, I wipe out and stumble back into ecstasy, forgetting, then remembering again, and again.

This last month of delight kicked off with serving the Global Youth Peace Summit (check out the slide show of beautiful peeps from around the world). This life changing experience was a homecoming and has shifted the course of my life, forever. It deserves it's own post, TBA. Mid month was chock full of communion with family, friends and inspiring dance, music ,travel, play, wilderness, and immense beauty (two weeks at California Brazil Camp). And, it was all topped off with Bhaktifest last weekend. That is where these tales from the God life emerge today.

In the words of mystic, Meister Eckhart, "If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice."

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Bhakti : is defined by Wikipedia as a practice or active involvement by the devotee in divine worship. It conveys a fully engaged, devoted relationship with God.
Bhakti Yoga is the"yoga of the heart" or "the yoga of love and devotion".

I have been bhaktified. I felt right at home steeping in the bhava of ecstatic, unlimited divine love, invoking God's presence through chanting in kirtan, asana, dance, music and meditation for 4 days, and nights . The exquisite Joshua Tree desert setting, and camping under the big stary sky heightened the potency. Living within an eco-village of a several thousand others aligned in an agreement field of love, devotion and vitality took it to a new level of pulsating life force.

I have been delivered to a deeper intimacy in my direct relationship to the Divine... I have fallen deeper in... into the generous love, into the mystic. And so, what can I do, but dive? My heart continues to wash with tears of joy, humility, gratitude and blessing. I realize now, that as I danced and chanted, in prayer for hours upon hours, I took my vows and my bows to the One that is everything, everywhere.

My work now, is to remember. How does one sustain this open hearted, luminous inner body, that is merged with the one and celebrated in the many? Practice. Being that frequency and ground within humanity, within the Universe, is really all there is to do, or rather all that is worth being. Yet, I forget. Do you? Where does my devotion go when I lock horns with my husband, when my beloved, whining child is pulling on my energy, when I feel hurried and hassled by the logistics and details of the marketplace, when my nerve endings feel I might explode and lash out- and sometimes do?

For the record, I did not even have a single grumpy moment at Bhaktifest. It was easy to relax open as love there...24-7. Yet once home, I witness and observe, as I sigh heavily, roll my eyes, and feel annoyed at how the daily details of life "pull me away" from my God center. This is a lie. Actually, every moment is offering an invitation to practice, to remember, to go deeper into the heart of God, and stay there. If God is with in us, and we are also within God, then all of life is worthy of my devotion. And, if everything wants to drink from the love, then the grumpy mood, whining child, marital spats, life tensions, falls and forgetting can have a drink as well.

Humility is key on this path. True devotion, with a humble heart erases greed and arrogance, melts away fear and anxiety, transforms selfishness into selflessness and hatred into love , restoring the deep peace that is our birth right. No matter how often I forget, my practice of remembering Bhakti Bliss is vital to survive and thrive in the day to day, ordinary, "chop wood-carry water, mundane life.

The ante is up. I have tasted this nectar and there is no going back. That would be death, or foolishness, ignorance and sleep at best. I will chant and dance the sacred names to ground me, and integrate inspiration from the brilliant yoga teachers, incredible kirtan artists and musicians, I joined in practice. I will remember the treasures shared in darshan with many bright, sage bhakti elders of various traditions. The wisdom transmissions direct from ancient lineages of awakened beings were IN THE HOUSE!

One timeless teaching that I will pass onto you comes from Swami Rad, "Every living thing is seeking pleasure...", he said, "for humans, the pleasure of the heart, which is love, is the only pleasure that truly satisfies the soul or essence. This pleasure of love flows from our love for the Divine." No material possession, accumulation of goods, success, ambition or sensory pleasure will ever be enough to fulfill the real need and purpose of the heart. Meanwhile, the thieves of time will steal away our lives as we pursue pleasure elsewhere, aimlessly, endlessly, unless we stop and remember. Only the love of the Divine will do. " It is our nature to be in eternal, unlimited, divine ecstatic communion forever."

As the Upandishads tell us, "Meditation is the bow, devotion is the arrow, love is the target." Join me and aim well, sweet bhakti brothers and sisters. Practice hitting that target over and over again. The only real fulfillment in this life is merging in divine bliss with the ONE. Then, from that satiated, centered, full place, the only natural next step is to serve life. May we offer ourselves, in gratitude as a living, breathing sustainable force of peace and love in motion.

"The door is round and open... Don't go back to sleep."


May all beings everywhere be happy and free!

One Love, G