Not At All Sensible…

“A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only “getting somewhere” as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. One can get anywhere and everywhere, and yet the more this is possible, the less is anywhere and everywhere worth getting to. For points of arrival are too abstract, too Euclidean to be enjoyed, and it is all very much like eating the precise ends of a banana without getting what lies in between. The point, therefore, of these arts is the doing of them rather than the accomplishments. But, more than this, the real joy of them lies in what turns up unintentionally in the course of practice, just as the joy of travel is not merely so much in getting where one wants to go as in the unsought surprises which occur on the journey.” Alan Watts – The Way of Zen

What do I remember of the happenings, the “accomplished” journeys, the substance of my summer thus far? The bits and pieces of unexpected delight and outright shock grab at my heart. The fireflies in the dark as I sat with my daughter while camping, sitting by a fire fading and watching the lights of nature take over. Moon overhead, blinking flashes of yellow in the depths around us, past the water whispering into woods. One son fishing with his granddad. Another son conquering the space between lake shore and dock. The dive into a lake not felt for 30 years with a body changed in ways surreal. The moss by the stream and the kids standing on a log…

n. ga. moments

We got there and my dad had set up the tents. The same man who had his hip replaced in March. I had told him to wait for my arrival. We barely made camp before nightfall. And then the rain fell an unexpected deluge clamoring thundering torrential pound supreme. It washed us clean in seconds. My parents were holed up in their tent and my sons were huddled in ours while my daughter and I scrambled around for a tarp, unfolding it over the top of our tent, the song of pelting drops hitting blue-shocked shelter past leaves shaking. My heart took in a great gulp of water-laden oxygen and waited. How would my kids respond? I could only laugh. It was too amazing not to laugh. We clipped and secured and tied down and then joined the boys. After moving everything as far away from tent walls as we could manage and settling into rest under covers, it hit me that not a single complaint had landed in the fall of rain. Giggles, gasps, and a few shocked outbursts. I was sighing into rest when one of my children piped up (with echoing agreements all around), “Mom, this is SO GREAT!” I could barely hear in the downpour, but the thrill was clearly fed by rain’s adventure. The challenge, the work of adjusting to nature’s indifference had enlivened my kids. And me. I would rather not say “we went camping this summer” but…”the rain fell…and…well…wow.” And “the lake water cold and shocking was sheer delight…” The moth was huge…

mountain moth

We lugged pails of water and had to trek to a “bathroom” and the bugs made it clear we were not native. And then my mom’s stroke. And what stands out? We laughed together over her medical forms as I filled them out. She cracked jokes about her vision and told me she didn’t cry when the news hit because she was afraid it would upset us. Ah, and I had swallowed huge chunks of sobs for the same reason. I love how we looked out for each other. The long healing talk, the one I have wanted to have for years now. One that only “disaster” births. And it sunk to my core, one more time, just how precious it all is, whether we’re all in agreement or not. How vital it is to find even just a bit of space, a place to camp out in love and in spite of the differences, the changes. Whether it rains or not, whether we ever find as much common ground again or not.

And a wedding. Even the damn fuses blowing and blowing and telling me to respect limits. And the winding wonder ride up hills so high we felt like we were flying. And the surprise of not recognizing a cousin and not just any cousin but the one you always wanted to see, the joy of dancing with my oldest son who refuses to dance but, to my amazement, allowed his mom to sweep him along and into a bit of jive. My youngest son standing in tux while sun shines on red hair, and the radiance of a bride.

A whirlwind of surprises punctuating plans and reminding me how “fate” brings people together more surely than the best of intentions. A fate designed by … by what? By whom? Me? Just when I’m certain I co-create, chaos takes me for a ride, daring me to laugh, to improvise. A day trip to a beach I’d never seen to find a woman in the waves I’d not seen in years ‘though we visit the same town everyday and ‘though she seldom goes to this same vacation spot. A hug of shock and then the talk as salt water tosses us around. Why did that bless me so much? I will likely never see her again unless I go somewhere I’ve not gone before. Sitting at a concert with a dear friend last night, one whose path crossed my own via a series of accidents and not all of them happy. What do I remember? Not the music – ‘though I enjoyed it – but the fact that we sat at a spot that seemed to invite a domino effect of mischief. A man getting up to leave, his camp chair strap deciding to break right then and there as he retreats and BAM on my head. (Laughter) In less than 5 seconds, a woman’s hair clasp falls to the ground at my feet, begging the question of an invisible imp as I try to retrieve it and it travels beyond my reach. The song heard and sung on the way home, not the ones at the concert. A surprise hug on the couch I’ve “rented” here and there (carrot bread as payment). The crazy college guy begging two total strangers (my friend and me) to please give him a kiss. An intersection and an ambulance calling, streetlights and headlights converging while a kiss or two renews innocence where paths cross. It’s a landscape of surprises feeding soul. All of it while the best intentions, the plans and even the wisest choices crumble around me, destinations changed, journeys altered and life breathing surprise into my “future as a sensible concept,” blasting some of those concepts into tiny bits of flimsy reason and then gone, woven into a tapestry made rich by a hand unseen. And. The gold shines brightest where life unfolds a sometimes shocking challenge to dive in and thrive…

lake winfield scott

Feltness Flowing Freedom

“…the realization that nature is ordered organically rather than politically, that it is a field of relationships rather than a collection of things, requires an appropriate mode of human awareness. The habitual egocentric mode in which man identifies himself with a subject facing a world of alien objects does not fit the physical situation. So long as it remains, our inward feeling is at variance with reality. Based on this feeling, our efforts to control ourselves and the surrounding world become viciously circular entanglements of ever-growing complexity. More and more the individual feels himself frustrated and impotent in the midst of a mechanical world order which has become an irresistable ‘march of progress’ toward ends of its own…

An organic natural order has its proper correspondence in a mode of consciousness which is a total feeling or experiencing.” Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman

In Love With Fathomless Depth

“…absurdities arise when we think that the kind of language we use or the kind of logic with which we reason can really define or explain the ‘physical’ world. Part of man’s frustration is that he has become accustomed to expect language and thought to offer explanations which they cannot give. To want life to be ‘intelligible’ in this sense is to want it to be something other than life. It is to prefer a motion-picture film to a real, running man. To feel that life is meaingless unless ‘I’ can be permanent is like having fallen desperately in love with an inch.” Alan Watts – The Wisdom of Insecurity

My life insists I release permanence. The sense of assurance that I’m building something that cannot be broken down by life’s worst tides falls away as surely as the robin in my chimney, fluttering, fighting, resting, hoping, fluttering. I was awakened one morning this past week repeatedly to this odd noise. 5:30 a.m. flutter, flutter. Morning dawns and I wander down from the attic, stumble for coffee and the fluttering again. I had assumed it my cat insisting on coming into the house. No, this came from the chimney, a bird’s unmistakable panic, down too far to find the way back up and out. I had children to send off to school so I waited.

Coming home from taking my boys, I let my cat in only to hear my daughter burst out of her breakfast chair, yelling “noooo! get her out!!!” as she runs to grab Eesa.  I had forgotten the bird. I walk into the kitchen to see the robin looking at me with the utmost dignity. Misplaced, stuck and the first impression is that I’ve been graced with the glimpse of something rare. I know, it was just a bird in my kitchen, big deal. But it struck me as we stared at each other. I’m stuck too. And making the most of it, awaiting life’s tide to move me along as I do anything I can to facilitate release. So, we stared at each other, that bird and me. I was riveted to the way a kitchen morphs into a monstrous mutation of life in the presence of a simple bird, amazed at how much I felt resonance with a bird staring up at me from a floor unworthy of the wilds.

My daughter returned to the kitchen and retold the tale. The bird flew from chimney to kitchen as she ate, and she waited for my return to figure out what to do, while she ate and the bird sat on our floor, resting.

I donned rubber gloves and approached the bird. The creature let me get right up to him. When I reached gently, that was the end of it. But he landed on my table exhausted and allowed me to pick him up. No resistance. Just waiting. No panic when I reached this time. There’s only so much you can do when trapped. Allow the greater force to take you along. Ever talked to a bird in the hand? It’s good medicine, the warmth, the sense of wildness gracing, knowing you’re speaking most to yourself but thankful for the listening promise.

When I walked outside the fluttering commenced against my hands and I opened them. The energy and warmth in that bird was powerful, gifting me. He flew straight and strong to the closest tree, singing.

It’s difficult not to be concerned with the future right now. It’s been difficult for a long time. The opportunity to strengthen the muscles of release abounds. What kind of release? Release into the moment. But there truly are times of being trapped. Like that bird. Like my own situation with limitations daunting, insisting I wait until the path of release is more clear. You can only flutter and wait. But the fluttering is exhausting. It’s a “fits and starts” reality of progress.  The bird gave up. Allowed. Life took him out. But that’s not always the case, is it? Sometimes we die in our traps. It’s that brutal, life. But it’s that beautiful too.

“Here is the mysterious real world which words and ideas can never pin down. Living always for the future, we are out of touch with this source and center of life…”

The good news? I know intimately the moment, the pulse of connection to the wilds within and beyond in those who are learning to let go and let life while awaiting the opening of a door, or the strengthening of muscles to tear down the walls. But freedom is within…

Let it be.

An Organic Unity

It’s official. I’m still in love with Alan Watts (yes, he’s transformed into a different form but he’s not the only man i’m in love with – “in love” not the typically understood “fare.” But this is a digressing transgression of my purpose in posting at this Point).

My boys and I get into some pretty deep discussions when they come home from school. Like when my youngest asked yesterday “What made the law? Why do we have laws, mom?” Then we spoke about equality, racism, nationalism, patriotism. And the underbelly of the rocks we stand so firmly on. We talked and talked. One son is more naturally inclined to try to find the “right” place to stand but realizes it’s not a reliable mindset. The other is open and none-too-sure of “rightness.” They’re both onto something. It’s very difficult to explain the risks of any “ism” to an 8 year old. But, when you recognize that we’re all connected, it starts to make sense.

Then I sit down for 20 minutes with Alan Watts and sigh. He says it all so well…

“If we must be nationalists and have a sovereign state, we cannot also expect to have world peace. If we want to get everything at the lowest possible cost, we cannot expect to get the best possible quality, the balance between the two being mediocrity. If we make it an ideal to be morally superior, we cannot at the same time avoid self-righteousness. If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go.

When we have made up our minds as to what we do want, there remain indeed many practical and technical problems. But there is no point discussing these until we have made up our minds. There is, in turn, no possibility of making up our minds so long as they are split in two, as long as ‘I’ am one thing and ‘experience’ another. If the mind is the directive force behind action, the mind and its vision of life must be healed before action can be anything but conflict.

Something must therefore be said about the healed vision of life which comes with full awareness, for it involves a deep transformation of our view of the world. As well as words can describe it, this transformation consists in knowing and feeling that the world is an organic unity…My conscious mind must have its roots and origins in the most unfathomable depths of being, yet it feels as if it lived all by itself in this tight little skull…You can reason that the universe is a unity without feeling it to be so. You can establish the theory that your body is a movement in an unbroken process which includes all suns and stars, and yet continue to feel separate and lonely. For the feeling will not correspond to the theory until you have also discovered the unity of inner experience. Despite all theories, you will feel that you are isolated from life so long as you are divided within…

Man has to discover that everything which he beholds in nature–the clammy foreign-feeling world of the ocean’s depths, the wastes of ice, the reptiles of the swamp, the spiders and scorpions, the deserts of lifeless planets–has its counterparts within himself. He is not, then, at one with himself until he realizes that this “under side” of nature and the feelings of horror which it gives him are also ‘I.’ …

To discover that the many are the one, and that the one is the many, is to realize that both are words and noises representing what is at once obvious to sense and feeling, and an enigma to logic and description…

The feeling that we stand face-to-face with the world, cut off and set apart, has the greatest influence on thought and action.”

Alan Watts – The Wisdom of Insecurity

That sense of being cut off and set apart fulfills itself just as much as the sense of being connected and part of a transforming world…

Momentary and Transparent…

“In the intense joy which attends the full realization that we are momentary and transparent, and that nothing can be grasped, there is no question of an icy detachment from the world. A man who had realized this very fully once wrote to me, “I am now becoming as deeply attached as I can be to as many people and things as possible.”

…In attachment there is pain, and in pain deliverance, so that at this point attachment itself offers no obstacle, and the liberated one is at last free to love with all his might and to suffer with all his heart. …

…the reason why there is nothing to be grasped is that this duality is only seeming, so that the attempt to cling is like trying to bite the teeth with the teeth, or to clutch the hand with the hand. The corollary of this realization is that subject and object, oneself and the world, are a unity, to be precise, a “nonduality” since the word “unity” may be taken to exclude diversity.”

Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman

The bottom line simple conclusion of this brilliant expression, to my mind, is this: we are not separate from each other even if some of us never meet face to face. We are one and One in love. And while I don’t “believe” in love, I know and experience it as me, as others, and beyond people as the planets, the seasons and it doesn’t give meaning to life. It shows that there is no need to search for meaning because…because: Love simply is the only point to life itself.

Lungs breathe, right? They do their thing and don’t ask “what is my purpose?!” And as we go around unfolding in response to life we’ll find, as we melt and morph past fear’s worst facades, we will find we have loved because we are love unfolding. And guess what? It will sometimes hurt terribly. The only thing to do is keep on, recognizing the pain is only a reminder of preciousness, of why we take thoughtful care with our lives and master the best of calculated spontaneity learned in the fires of life.

Nothing to fear…

jruthkelly © 2008, 2009

As the Acorn Conveys an Oak…

“The whole purpose of the symbol and the mythos, which is the system of symbols, is to lead us to God himself, just as the purpose of language is to convey meaning and not mere words. God–Meaning alike of the universe and the mythos–is alive; like wind, like moving waters, like fire, he cannot be grasped in some rigid form. Thus the symbolic form conveys the life of God as the acorn conveys an oak. In time, if the acorn is alive, its shell will burst; the living tree will grow out of it, and refuse to be enclosed in a shell any more. Likewise, God gives his life to men in symbols and sacraments, but if that life is to be truly lively, it will not stay confined in those forms or in any others. It will use forms; it will express itself in forms; but it will not be held in forms.”

Alan Watts – Behold the Spirit

The beauty of this truth expressed here lies in the reality of dynamic possibility. Each person can take from what s/he feels of, thinks of and experiences of God or even simply hopes to experience and from those rich layers gestate a relationship with the Divine.

The work of weeding out the toxic threads provided by misguided spiritual leaders is paramount to a truly authentic walk with Spirit. And at some point the idea of “with” fades as the life as separate from God becomes more and more inconceivable. A steady path to that point is one of consistent effort, and of awareness of self, recognition of cultural influences and gender-focused obstructions.

Some of us have to run in the direction of the devil for a season in order to get a feel for where we stand in our hearts and minds, where we stand with “god” and without “god” and in order to determine what of previously held beliefs have dismantled vital soulful being. An example of the many possible considerations poses itself in this question: How did a masculine god-view damage your sense of the empowered woman?

The truth is: we are not and never have been separate from the Divine or from love and after a while we recognize there is no distinction between those two.

jruthkelly © 2008, 2009

Come Again?

Pun intended? Maybe…

“It will by now be clear that a truly natural sexuality is by no means a spontaneity in the sense of promiscuity breaking loose from restraint. No more is it the colorlessly ‘healthy’ sexuality of mere animal release from biological tension. To the degree that we do not yet know what man is, we do not yet know what human sexuality is. We do not know what man is so long as we know him

piecemeal,

categorically,

as the separate individual,

the agglomeration of

blocklike instincts and

passions and

sensations regarded

one

by

one

under the fixed stare of

an exclusive consciousness.

What man is, and what human sexuality is, will come to be known only as we lay ourselves open to experience with the full sensitivity of feeling which does not grasp.”

Alan WattsNature, Man and Woman

And we get there by consciously laying aside our “graspers” or ideas of what we’re going to be holding when we reach out either in eros, in friendship, or any loveflow. It’s sometimes like leaping off a cliff right there in the moment. You step off the platform erected in stereotypes, gender bias and and and.

Come again into the moment without your idealogical “garments” and your doctrinal fig leaves and know life. Re-enter, repeat, re-do. Renew. Yes, the pun was intended but some of the more whimsical attention grabbing “pick-up” lines lead you into release from rigidity of expectations born in control-motivated modes of “relating” and “knowing.”

jrk

Part 2 – Post Script

More on the body, and being in touch…

“The body is so alien to the mind that even when it is at its best it is not so much loved as exploited, and for the remainder of the time we do what we may to put it in a state of comfort where it may be forgotten, where its limitations will not encumber the play of emotion and thought.

It is little wonder…that we seek detachment from the body, waiting to convince ourselves that the real “I” is not this quaking mass of tissue with all its repulsive possibilities for pain and corruption. It is little wonder that we expect religions, philosophies, and other forms of wisdom to show us above all else a way of deliverance from suffering, from the plight of beinga soft body in a world of hard reality.”

Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman

Peace? Personal Growth? Pish Posh?!

What is personal growth anyway? Is it a process of losing immaturity and facing the facts of life? Is it a coming into peace? Is it the development of personal ideals into a vision of life? How can any of it begin to be possible without peace? Ever try to build a tent in a storm? Growth is like that tent-pitching adventure. We set up camp here and then there as we explore a terrain on a journey of wholeness, richness of living. How do we get there in turmoil?

The whole idea of feeling at peace with your self, with life, with others often – by its sheer contradiction to reality – lands on the mind with a comical mockery of all the chaos, internal agony and daily inundation of responsibility. Peace? Right! And the fairies leave me gold coins under the magnolia every evening! It can sound that ludicrous. Then we face the semantics of “finding” peace, even in a quiet home, sitting in “optimum” meditative pose (as if!). With all else clamoring within and around the next bend, it can feel like a gargantuan striving to be “at peace.” So many things in life scream out: “I am more real and more important!” The contrast of those screaming demands and issues pose the notion of peace as comical and the one contemplating it worthy of contempt or ridicule.  The roof may cave in with the financial disaster. I might produce the same orphaning of my children though I’m technically more here than my parents were. There’s too much to do to even begin to imagine what it would be like to be a smooth-running overflowing river of peace in the middle of it all. Too much nips at the heels daily.

So, sit and rest into a sense of wholeness, peace? RIGHT! Besides, the attempt can, by its own efforts, destroy any suggestion of peace. So, it seems impossible. But it’s not.

There are layers to tend to first.

1)  Focus on the body’s language

2)  Acknowledge and work through (lifetime work) the injuries of the past that continue to visit today.

3)  Establish a vision that will make possible the management of now’s needs and desires in conjunction with the repair work needful to relieve pain from past injuries. E.g. A person needs to feel capable of being present on certain levels with those s/he cherishes without the paralysis and inhibition created in fear of repeating history. There are ways to work through both needs. The importance of now and the critical drain of concern about the effects of the past on a life – these are both vital concerns. One does not negate the other. Your power is now. Sure. But that does not diminish how the past still needs a measure of your regard and attention. Development is essential in making the most of the power of your now. But…development is facilitated by recognition of what is NOT developed because of past influences. We can run. We can hide. But it profits us little in terms of depth change, the type of transformation that brings a person into a place of full presence, making the life a feast for self and for loved ones.

4)  Recognize the path of peace is a process of increasing awareness, allowance, integration and release built on a foundation of self-acceptance and sobriety. All while making sure to grow and hold loosely to your dynamic vision of life as you, you as life.

5)  Grow a sense of unity with all in an ever-increasing expansion of wholeness within, shedding perspectives of isolation and judgement.

Stay tuned… for a glimpse into the first layer mentioned above. Find a place today, a soothing place, sit with yourself and call every part of you that has been scattered back home. Visualization, as much as it cannot be proven, measured or otherwise grasped with anything tangible, is still a highly powerful tool of self-restoration, especially when feelings are allowed to have their full play without fear.

Courtesy of Dave Grant
Courtesy Of Dave Grant

When Seeing Blinds Sight, Going Stops Arrival . . .

“If I must cross every skyline to find out what is beyond, I shall never appreciate the true depth of sky seen between trees upon the ridge of a hill. If I must map the canyons and count the trees, I shall never enter the sound of a hidden waterfall. If I must explore and investigate every trail, that path which vanishes into the forest far up on the mountainside will be found at last to lead merely back to the suburbs. To the mind which pursues every road to its end, every road leads nowhere. To abstain is not to postpone the cold disillusionment of the true facts but to see that one arrives by staying rather than by going, that to be forever looking beyond is to remain blind to what is here.

To know nature, the Tao, and the ‘substance’ of things, we must know it as, in the archaic sense, a man “knows” a woman–in the warm vagueness of immediate contact. As the Cloud of Unknowing says of God, ‘By love he may be gotten and holden, but by thought never.’ This implies, too, that it is also mistaken to think of it as actually vague, like mist or diffused light or tapioca pudding. The image of vagueness implies that to know nature, outside ourselves as within, we must abandon every idea, every thought and opinion, of what it is–and look. If we must have some idea of it, it must be the most vague imaginable, which is why, even for Westerners, such formless conceptions as the Tao are to be preferred to the idea of God, with its all too definite associations.”

Alan Watts – Nature, Man and Woman

Lose your mind, stop your go, find a place central within and unfold. It’s not bliss-ninny ohmmful denial of life’s demands or all those great plans. It’s a presence-centered way of being, always-the-lover-on-the-verge but mentally sharp in response to life’s provocation, always deeply looking. Not so much the frenzied, grab-it-all-fast and figure and finagle and fret. But respond from the soil of your life’s lessons. Define what matters here and now and cultivate the awareness of how alive and beautiful is that one glimpse of sky you reach. And watch, look, breathe it all in as you realize that the craving quest finds it all within.

DSCN2163

Then from there, from that fullness the going, grabbing, exploring times hum with one who is always right here now, drinking deeply in love’s peace.

Is this where we end the addictive processes, in the feast of here, now, opening heart in love not because we’ll get a prize but because being is the prize?

Maybe…

jrk