When a Tree Falls in the Woods, What Rises?


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An encounter in the woods with a wise woman, angry man and a falling tree shifts everything. 

The other day, I took my dog for a game of fetch in a field near the woods. As I drove up in my car, the parking lot was blocked by a giant pick up truck idling. The driver was out of his truck and standing a few feet away, bellowing at a tiny grey haired women who looked to be in her 60’s. (He looked to be in his 40’s).

There was a teen skate boarder dude between them. I assumed it was a domestic dispute. She seemed to be standing near a car that was her own, parked on side of road. A poodle hovered next to her, concerned and protective.

The man saw I could not get into the small parking lot his truck blocked and so went back to his truck and moved out of my way. I let my dog into the field, and watched as this fellow drove over to this woman’s car, got out, and continued shouting at her. I could not make out the details, but I could tell she was rattled. ‘

He drove off, and she did. I assumed she had left. The skateboarder was now gone. I was busy throwing the ball for my dog. Then, she came up behind me, her poodle in tow.

“That was so incredible” she said. “He was so angry.”

“Do you know him?”

She looked at me and I saw the fear and confusion in her eyes. I noticed she was shaking, her hands fluttering in the aftermath of adrenalin as she stroked her dog.

“No, I don’t know him. He was angry I had parked under that tree instead of the parking lot. He said it was illegal. He was calling the police,”

I looked over to where I had seen her car parked. Yes, it was a half on the road, half on a gravel trail. But i”d see many cars park like that before when the lot was full.

I said, “What did he care?”

“He said it was dangerous for the kids, For skateboarders who might not get by me or veer into the road to get around me.”

“What about the skateboarder I saw next to your car?”

“He was standing up for me. He said, ‘Hey dude, it’s fine. there’s lots of room.”

I looked back over at the road. This was a kind of quiet area, not a major road. It was a residential street — what the hell was this man over reacting for? You have to picture this: a five foot grey hair lady and a 6 foot plus 250 pound man…it was like David and Goliath.

I wondered:

Had a child of his been hit by a car? Had a friend or relative been killed by a parking infraction…I knew he could not be this angry without a slice of personal pain. He was.seeing the world through the lens of his story and through the finite self that suffers.

And I was seeing his story unfold through mine. So I asked myself: Why am I here in this very moment to witness this anger and pain? What part of me is angry and in pain? What part of my own psyche still suffers?

The woman looked shaken, still  I told her, “Read the book, the Four Agreements.”

She asked for details of why. I explained to her this man’s rage was something to not take personally, that she was a trigger for his pre-existing story.

Yet what i did not say to her was the opposite truth, the paradox that we can take EVERYTHING personally. Because everything is a reflection of Self. All of it has import and meaning. Conflict outside of me is reflecting an inner conflict. That I was a witness to this man’s rage and that it was not directed at me, was a message for me…and I knew it had to to with my falling out with my spiritual teacher, who yes, is a man.

What happened next, was magic.

We were assaulted by a roaring sound, and snapping and crashing — as if a wild boar was charging.simultaneously, she and I both turned to the woods. Our dogs stood stock still. It grew in volume, and then there was a deafening ka-boom. We both saw it then. The huge tree that had hit the earth. A falling tree, A fucking falling tree.

I’ve never seen or heard a tree fall. Just by itself. No wind. No logger. She and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We hugged. We high-fived.

She said. “I feel so much better. The whole day has shifted.”

I knew what she meant. The tree that fell was for me a symbol: the falling of the angry masculine paradigm that has been in place for too long. You see…I have been blessed by The Mother and have Returned to Her. But in doing so, there has also been a leave-taking of the old way. The authority way. The hierarchy way.

We are heading into a new paradigm and the old WILL TOPPLE…and we will laugh and high five as it does. We will see innocence in anger, We will see when one way falls, a new way emerges.

FALLING: Authority. Autocracy. Domination. Submission. Fear. Anger. Attack. Blame. Right. Wrong. Hate. Intimidation. Manipulation. Suspicion, Control. Shaming. Exclusion.

RISING: Mutuality, Integration. Co-operation. Collaboration. Parity. Reception. Respect. Curiosity. Wonderment. Love. Awe. Gratitude. Trust, Inclusion, Joy.

Its no longer about matriarchy, patriarchy. It’s about something so new, there is no name for it.

May the falling tree put wonderment into your world. The old way is crashing. The new way is rising. It’s cause for celebration.

I wrote this poem shortly after…

Liminal

The forest called one day. I stood
at the edge, where light and dark
played together, this boundary
between one world and the next.

This edge possessed a sweet thrill.
the forest darkness contrasting
with the brilliance of the field in which I stood.

This field had been my playground: Daisies
as companions, butterflies whispering
in my ear and the wind, oh the wind.
It rustled my very soul.

Yet these dark woods
with unknown creatures called.
I entered, surprised
to find a luminosity
and new friends.

The toadstools told me stories,
tales of courage and loss. The moss
offered its softness as a bed for my sorrows.

The fallen trees shared their war stories
and the wolves revealed secrets
from before time.

When I wandered back to the sun sheared
field, I knew I’d never see the light the same way.

I knew now, Light was only whole when seen
through the eyes of Darkness.

I saw at once, the perfection
in both the forest and the field.

And laughed. And danced.
As I spun circles of love,
the forest met the field. They nodded
in deep respect, flirted even.

And when I wasn’t looking,
they merged. Just like that.
All at once. And lived happily
ever after.

I won’t say a word about their child
other than this: She has her Forest Mother’s heart
and the eyes of her Father of the Fields.

She is truly not of this world. And yet,
stars stream from her laughter.

Can you hear her laughter?  It’s contagious….

Awareness is here, rising.

Lori Ann2

 

 

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A Spider, a Dog named Leela and a Meaningful Dialogue with the Universe in My Kitchen


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Yesterday I awoke to find a spider had spun its web in front of the door to the patio. It had suspended its gossamer world between a coffee maker and the door lintel in such a way that when I swung open the door, the spider–resting in the very center of its creation–was unperturbed and the web held.

It took my dog, Leela, walking inadvertently through the web to destroy this little spider’s home-base. She was the perfect height for destruction.

Spider was fast. She rappelled down to the floor and then zoomed a new line just like Spider Man to the top of the door. I was left feeling awe for her resilience, compassion for her innocence. She had built her place of refuge and nourishment in an unsafe space-time co-ordinate. Ironically, and laughably, she did not trap a fly, but rather attempted to net a 60 pound German Shepherd.

My dog Leela was named the same Sanskrit word that means “a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman).”

In my kitchen that morning, the play of God was a tragi-comedy starring a spider and a dog. And the observer…me.

Nothing I encounter is ever without meaning. Alone in my kitchen, barely awake and making my morning coffee, this was my first interaction with the manifest world. Just like when I dream at night, I choose to be lucid in my life. I choose to see that all happenings are reflections of my own creation, a story unfolding in each moment. A story that is not just random, but gorgeously divinely inspired.

So I looked a my spider episode and asked: Where do I need to find compassion for another today? Do I need it for myself? Am I the resilient one in the face of a clumsy destruction? Or has someone else blundered into a web of meaning and destroyed it?

It was only after the spider web dialogue with the universe that I opened up my laptop to discover I was the target a friend’s anger. That something I had written to this person a few days ago, had ignited a protest (a thinly veiled public one and a volley of private messages).

And I saw at once how the spider, the web, the dog Leela, that moment of sudden unravelling, was a premonitory metaphor for what was to unfold minutes later. And so allowed compassion for my predicament to be present. And compassion for the other, who lashed out in pain and reaction.

And most surprisingly, there was no need to rush to restore anything…spider will rebuild her creation elsewhere. It’s is not mine to recreate.

I wrote this poem a few years ago, featuring spider. It seems appropriate today, to share it.

The Weaving

Did you know? Something good
is always trying to happen,
even when a loose thread unravels
the whole of existence, or one snag
in the dreamtime becomes a gap
in the fabric of your plans?

I walked through a web one morning,
a shimmering creation that spider
had spun right over my door,
placed so that when I crossed the threshold
I tore right through all the hard work,
all the nights weaving, leaving
a hole in my path.

And in a certain light, I knew
that this was not a destruction
but a way through to something,
that my clumsy passage had left
a possibility–in my wake,
an opening.

You know,
something glorious
is always
trying to happen.

Dec 17, 2009

Awareness is here, weaving her story,

 

Lori Ann2

 

 

 

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The Unexpected Blessing of Crazy-Ass Discord


heartart 2

Yesterday was one of those pivotal junctures in life where reality shows up with unexpected high-intensity chaos.

In the face of these jaw-dropping surprises you have a choice: let the drama override the lesson. Or let the lesson reveal itself by quieting the riot within.

At times like this, meditation becomes more than a practice–it’s like an emergency medical intervention.

leelaYesterday, with my dog Leela beside me (she is my co-pilot), I sat down in the late day sun to meditate on a turn of events that had blindsided me. What happened next was extraordinary. There really are no words for the kind of emergence into truth that outer discord can midwife.

I expected to still my mind, which admittedly was looping in its trial lawyer aspect, which loves to churn out facts and dig up evidence. This inner-lawyer is a purist–she is always on the side of justice and never defends the bad guy. She’s a fierce advocate for setting the record straight and I love her on my team.

But yesterday she was on tear, building a Supreme Court worthy case in a situation where winning was impossible and frankly, unnecessary. The upset itself was a portal to something, I only had to stop defending and step into surrendering.

My meditation catapulted me into another realm of possibility. It revealed the infinite perfection and perfect love in all happenings, no matter how “wrong” or “WTF” they seem on the surface.

The story of my upset is not what I want to share. What I bring to you today is a poem, written the day after, in the afterglow of Her love. Let it speak to your heart…it’s a song that carries the melody of remembrance for those willing and ready to recall the truth of who they are in the face of life’s storms.

Her Blessing

My heart came with a price tag,
a cost so high I assumed
I could never afford it.

I window shopped instead
looking through glass
at infinite love.

I knew this precious heart
was mine, that should I risk
the expense of owning it,
courage would plunder
my life, rendering
it fearless.

All I stood to lose
was the suspicion
I was undeserving.

What a strange thought.

How could God not want me
when my heart flutters in adoration
at her slightest appearance
and pounds a beat of insistent
devotion when her eye meets mine?

One day, when the yearning was bigger
than the doubt, I gave up window-shopping.

I walked into the shop
laid my all worldly boon on the table
and left with the treasure
of my heart.

Now—filthy rich in the currency
of surrender and adorned with pearls
of compassion—I know.

I know there was never anything
but this.

The window shop glass
I imagined stood between me
and my heart was my creation,
the wanting from afar nothing
more than a game of here
and there.

Between here and there is everywhere. And
it’s filled with heart.

Awareness is Here,

Lori Ann2

 

 

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Featured Image: Andrew Gonzales, Yemanja, Awakening of the Heart

 

 

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Discover the Thing You Were Born For in 5 Easy Steps


navel
Lately I’ve given up gazing into the navel of enlightenment. There’s only so long you can talk about waking up without boring or repeating yourself.

What has captured my imagination (other than the wonder and awe of an increasingly non-ordinary life) is the question of purpose. I’ve always intuited that being born came with hidden mission instructions, that my being alive as a woman in the 21st century is not a random event without meaning. That applies to you too. We are all here, for a reason.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgOne of the objections I often hear from people is that purpose is a luxury item for those with idle time and ample money. And to a degree, that is true. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, purpose would be at the top of the pyramid, once the basic needs are met. Let’s face it, if you are struggling to survive, thriving is not on the table.

But most of us in the first world live with the possibility of self-actualization. Yet we also exist in a state of persistent amnesia rooted in a disconnect from our soul. We wander like sleepwalkers through the years allotted us, never stopping to wonder not only “Who am I really?” but also “Why am I here?” And while ultimately, we are all here for the grand purpose of remembrance (of the infinite divinity we are) there is in each of us a call to a unique expression of this divinity in the world.

This quote by modern dance pioneer Martha Graham says it all: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”

It is in this spirit my curiosity has propelled me into a phase of discovery: I am heaven-bent on shining the light of my inner-knowing on this one question: What is my unique expression that is being called for now? In other words, “What is my most true purpose?” (I touched on this two years ago in my post, What is this Form For?)

In my sleuthing, I’ve come up with five steps that seem to be working for me. I offer them here as a playful possibility that you might find them useful in the quest for your unique awakened-heart expression in the world.

Step One: Let go of thinking you know for certain what is NOT your purpose.

I began the purpose-quest five months ago. I started by mentally ticking off the things I knew for sure could not be a part of my next expression of self in the world. And yes, many of these items truly were roles that no longer fit.

But lately I’ve begun to see that I’d tossed a few babies out with the bathwater. For instance, my high functioning clairvoyance (I had nine year lucrative and successful career as an intuitive reader) is still a part of my unique self expression and it’s not disposable. It’s central, in fact, to how I operate. To dismiss it would be sort of like a maestro saying the strings section is no longer needed in this orchestra. Ever.

So ask yourself: What aspect of self—what talent or gift—have you abandoned that perhaps you need to re-invite to your purpose party? What have you banished that could be a celebrated asset?

Step Two: Get Clear that Dreams, Strategy and Actions are not the same as Purpose.

I owe this insight to author Marcia Weider, whose book Making Your Dreams Come True, came into my life at the perfect time. She makes clear that too often we have dreams (and then strategies and actions to execute those dreams) that are not founded on this thing called Purpose. In her view, when that happens, we climb a dream mountain only to find that we are on the wrong mountain top.

For example: I was quite busy with the dream of creating a business based on teaching entrepreneurs how to create viral online content. This dream was based on me wanting to generate income doing something I know how to do. After two months of heavy lifting to make this dream a reality, I had a wake up call that stopped me in my tracks: This direction—and all the strategies, money and actions I had taken to support it—was not founded on my purpose. (In Marcia’s world, purpose is the bottom of a pyramid that is essential if we are to be happy when we reach the summit).

Step Three: Be Open to Discovery and Revelation

My wake up call happened in the middle of a live three-day video training program for women called Shine Online. The whole point was to get comfy on camera and create DIY video selfie that would help me brand myself.

I should have known something was amiss when I could not remember my 30-second elevator pitch script that first day. The next morning, rushing to the class, I walked right into my open car trunk with such force I ended up flat on my ass on the ground, watching in shock as blood started pooling on the pavement. My first thought? “Who the hell hit me?”

A mild concussion and a stitches-worthy cut later, I realized this incident was not just an accident. It was a message to stop and reassess my direction. That night I had a powerful dream that clearly showed me I was not creating a business aligned with my deepest purpose, but rather on a convenient way to monetize a set of skills.

And I opened to the mystery of my purpose again. I was willing to not know, until I did. Just after this, Marcia’s book about making dreams happen, entered my life. Not incidental, this book got me to think about purpose in a new way, as something deeply intrinsic to who I am. The book made looking for my purpose feel like fun.

Step Four: Look to Your Childhood for Depth Clues.

The first time I really got that we are born for a particular greatness was when I read The Soul’s Code by James Hillman. I must have been 33 or so when that pivotal book was published: long story short, the thesis is we each are born with our own unique daemon, or genius. Like an acorn that becomes the oak, we arrive fully encoded with a master design to become mighty in the world.

Hillman notes that clues to our true genius can look like the very thing we shirk from, or that is a major childhood stumbling block or wound. For instance, wartime radio orator Winston Churchill stuttered as a child. His handicap become his glory.

sherlockDigging into my childhood I can see two themes with clarity. I have always been a mystic and encountered my first “miracle” at age 9. I was obsessed with magic and miracles, and my life unfolded with episodes of supernatural and extraordinary encounters.

The second theme: I was so painfully shy and withdrawn that I did not speak in school for years. I channelled much of my self expression into writing and began to win awards in grade school. My life created the perfect circumstances for the craft of writing to become one of mastery.

If you pair magic and miracles with writing….well, I guess that sums up the Awakened Dreamer blog and the book I am currently writing. At one level my purpose is to provoke and inspire people to entertain magic and engage miracles. The deeper layer, post awakening, is that my purpose is to demonstrate these miracles occur from the recognition that my will IS god’s will. There is no separation (only the illusion of it).

Step Five: Take a Self Love Inventory.

There is an old zen story about a carver who creates beautiful elephant statues from a block of stone. One day, the student asks the carver: Master, how is it that you carve a perfect elephant every time? The Master Carver replies: I carve away all this is not elephant.

Similarly, finding our purpose is that perfect elephant waiting for us in the block of stone that is our life. To carve away all that is not true, I created a three-question Self Love Inventory. When you answer these three questions honestly, you clear away the mental noise and emotional confusion.

Question 1: If money was no obstacle what would you be doing that brings you joy?

Question 2. If the opinion and judgements of others had no impact on you, what would you be doing that brings you joy?

Question 3: If your duties and responsibilities to others disappeared overnight, what would you be doing that brings you joy?

Sometimes the answers to these questions are not immediately obvious. And it is entirely possible your answer could be “finding my purpose” or “I am already doing it.” Nonetheless, this Self Love Inventory is something I use a my own reality check to make sure I have not slipped into the ruts of:

1) Making money my purpose instead of having my purpose make money.

2) Worrying that others won’t approve of my path.

3) Feeling I have to sacrifice my own true passion in order to be a dutiful mom or responsible wife.

◊♦◊

I’ll finish up with one of my favorite quotes on purpose by Srikumar Rao, author of Happiness at Work.

I believe that if you don’t derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don’t come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don’t feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you, then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste.

These words strike to the heart of why purpose matters, at least for me. It’s about being radiantly passionately joyfully alive. It’s just that simple.

Awareness is here, purposefully…

Lori Ann2

PS: Did you know I’ve started a weekly 3-minute video blog? It’s free, fun and magical. Curious? Then subscribe here. 

Featured Image: “Bodyscape” by artist Allan Teger

 

 

PS: Did you know I’ve started a weekly 3-minute video blog? It’s free, fun and magical. Curious? Then subscribe here. 

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Enlightenment Magic Trick Number One: As You See It, So It Is


surrealeyeomni

Changing your thoughts is nothing compared to changing the perceiver of them. 

Six months before my overnight awakening, I dreamed I was wandering in the ruins of an ashram in India. (Later I would learn from photos this dreamscape is the now derelict grounds where the Maharishi held court in 1968 with the likes of actress Mia Farrow and the Beatles.)

In that dream, a white haired female guru approached me. She took my right arm, drew me aside and whispered, “This will be a full transmission.” She then kissed my forehead where I knew my third eye to be located.

At once I was filled with a lightness of being—which I might expect if an enlightened person were to transmit grace, even in a dream. But what happened next startled me. I was seeing—not through my eyeballs—but through my single eye, as if all my perception had relocated to a place above and between my eyes.

What I was seeing with this eye was another single eye hovering in space and peering back at me. I knew instantly that I was seeing “the eye of God” but at the same time I knew this eye looking at me was the same eye through which I perceived it. (Chew on that koan for a bit.)

I woke up, wrote down the dream and forgot about it until a few months later when this “transmission” kicked in and an awakening happened. For the record, I do not know for certain who that female guru was in this dream ashram. But in real life, I spent three days in retreat with Ganga-gi about six weeks before my awakening. (And to this day, she appears in my dreams along with Igor Kufayev and the Maharishi).

—-

I have a theory. And it’s most likely a well known truth for deep scholars of Vedic wisdom, and for quantum physicists out on a limb, and for scientists on the frontiers of consciousness research.

We are all magicians.

magicianwitchestarotWe are all spinning reality into apparent form, all of the time. The only difference between the everyday Joe and his magic, is that it is wielded blindly and relatively impotently. Books like “The Secret” and new age teachings on “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “The Law of Attraction” point in the direction of truth but miss the mark.

These teachings tell you that if you change your thoughts/vibrational frequency (and positive feelings will follow) you change your reality. But what they don’t tell you is the key to real magic.

Changing your thoughts is nothing compared to changing the perceiver of them. 

What I mean by this is simple. You are either generating thoughts (or noticing them for purists who insist thoughts just uncontrollably arise or happen) through your finite self, or through your Infinite Self. You are either “seeing” reality through your mortal two eyes or through your Eternal One Eye.

It is this one shift in perception that the teaching called A Course in Miracles defines as a “miracle.”  It is a holy instant in which a perceptual shift from finite to infinite happens and then real form-changing, rule bending miracles become possible.

Or as teacher Igor Kufayev states in The World is As You See It, “The World ‘out there’ is the way we perceive it ‘in here’ and that’s not a static affair, for our reality changes with our perception of it. It is for that reason that refinement of perception is seen as an indispensable part of any spiritual progress.”

It is in this deeper spiritual context that I have noticed that just changing/monitoring/manipulating thoughts to determine outcomes in my apparent favour is child’s play at best and folly at worst.

Because those thoughts I can most easily tinker with are sourced in the chatter of my finite self, it is like attempting to grant wishes to a four year old child. (One reason why the Desire Map work of Danielle Laporte has not appealed to me—it’s saying, let your pleasure-and-temporal satisfaction-self rule). Laporte calls desire an “evolutionary impulse.”

But let’s get real. It depends on which self (finite or infinite) is doing the desiring, whether the impulse is evolutionary or simply self-satisfying.

I don’t want to be a downer on the whole “you create your reality movement.” I was an early adopter, starting with a book called Seth Speaks that I inhaled as truth in 1987. I’ve had my lion’s share of major manifesting success stories.

But, let’s look at it this way. If I am manifesting from a less than ultimate aspect of self, of what lasting value and transformative power are my creations? Yes a child can make a wish. But does a child’s wish consider the good of all? Does the child yet know even what is best for herself? Realistically, a child will wish for gratification, or forbidden fruit, or immediate pleasure. And of course, for more toys.

aladinlampThe teaching of the bestselling book “The Secret” caters to this child in us.  It tells us we can create with the power of positive thought and emotion the bigger car, the grander house, the better job, the perfect romantic partner. And yes, to some extent we can manipulate the world by “manifesting” these things using the rudimentary tools of the Finite Self (affirmations, positive thinking, creative visualization, vision boards, neurolinguistic programming, desire-mapping and more).

But ultimately these tools have one single and drastic limit. They are tools made to fit the hands of your grasping and childish finite self. They will never work in the hands of your Limitless Being. And for that reason, if you care to create real magic that matters, that heals this world and transforms your being, you need a different set of tools. You need the magic wand meant to be used by your Quantum Self.

That wand is here already. It is what you are. You are the wand itself. Your body (energetic and physical), your mind, your feelings are the elements that make up the structure of this wand. Even the much maligned ego and personality have their roles in this wand that they are a part of forming.

But a wand without a current is useless. The power that activates the wand that you are, that runs like electricity through a lightning rod, is none-other that your Infinite Self in the form of Shakti.

When you realize that the only magic worth making, the only spells worth casting, are those that source from the Real You, the whole Secret biz drops away. It’s like graduating from kindergarten and going straight to architecture school. You used to play with play dough, to create forms that crumble. Now you are working with steel and stone, and drafting edifices of Truth, Flow, Wonder and Love.

Life is different when seen through the lens of my One Eye.  From this holy lens, nothing is ever wrong and everything can be righted. It is an eye that sees paradox as delightfully essential.

And I am only in the training wheels phase of learning the truth of the Yoga Vasistha statement: “The world is as you see it.”   

The world is not simply as I “manifest” it as The Secret would tell me.  It is more intimate than that. The world is made from my perception. The very idea that there is a “law of attraction” and a self to use this law, is a part of the world my perception has created.

In the end, what I am pointing at is simple and yet elusive.

After years of playing with the The Law of Attraction, I quit for a better game. It’s the game of “Not my will, but thy will” and then the immediate joy of remembering that “Thy will IS my will.”

As such, I am experimenting now with a change in how I see my role in reality creation. Rather than play the child’s game of fulfilling every desire through “magnetizing” outcomes, I am waiting to see what desire wants of me. Rather than the fool’s game of wanting this or that, I am allowing the flow of my own being to provide what is perfectly needed before a want arises.

This is not about being passive or without dreams or goals, but rather noticing that by moving into the One-Eye perception (which can be called constant effortless surrender) my goals surprise even me, the non-ordinary magnifies, synchronicity intensifies, and miracles multiply.

In the words of mystic poet W.B. Yeats, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

That sharpness grows when we are willing to behold the world through the One Eye of our Quantum Self. And then, watch as the astoundingly magical and miraculous become everyday events.

As Dorothy says, “Toto, I have a a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”

Awareness is here…..or maybe in the Land of Oz.

Lori Ann

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Featured Image: Omni magazine cover photo

Magician: Witches Tarot, Illustated by Mark Evans

Aladin’s Lamp: Art Insights

 

 

 

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The Awakened Magician: What Happens When Non-Ordinary Becomes Ordinary?


celticgoddessI’ve been hiding something from my readers. A dirty little enlightenment secret.

It’s the kind of cover-up that happens when you think you might be crazy to voice something that no one else in the non-duality, awakening to Self/No Self crowd talks about.

You think: Maybe I’m an anomaly? Or you wonder: Did I get caught up in one of those sidetracks the Sages of Old warn about, that admonition to “not get seduced by the siddhis.”

In case your Sanskrit is rusty, we turn to Wikipedia for this handy definition: “Spiritual, paranormal, supernatural, or otherwise magical powers, abilities, and attainments that are the products of spiritual advancement through sadhana (spiritual practices), such as meditation and yoga.”

To be clear, I’ve always had the gift of foresight. It started when I was a teenager as nocturnal dreams that later came to pass as real life events. By my early thirties, I took a break from journalism and crafted a nine year career as a highly accurate, sought-after professional clairvoyant. So my caveat is this—the non-ordinary is not unusual for me.

What is unusual these days is the magnitude and range of what I can only call rampant magic. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve stepped into a sci-fantasy novel where there are new paranormal rules of engagement and I seem to be cast in the role of a dazed and somewhat suspicious wizard. And oddly, it’s not just me…..those around are reporting a dramatic uptick in synchronicity, high strangeness and non-ordinary perception.

Add to that, I’ve intersected (by a precognitive dream nonetheless) a spiritual teacher named Igor Kufayev who is becoming known for his multi-day immersions where he routinely zaps students with shaktipat. You can’t get anymore “the force be with you” than having a divine energy flow from one being to another in service of accelerating awakening to true nature. Zowie!

This surge of the magical in my life, and the lives of those close to me, is not without meaning and nor is it something to be hidden or avoided. My heart tells me that this acceleration in non-ordinary perception and ability is what happens when consciousness resides in the non-local realm–awakening tends to do that to you. It blasts through the contracted localized version of self (call it Ego or the “I”) and expands consciousness to awareness of what quantum physicist Amit Goswami calls the Quantum Self.

That’s the real magician—non-local consciousness IS the proverbial fairy godmother.

And more and more people are discovering that awakening is not just about the end of suffering and abiding in a kind of static peace and equanimity. It’s also about the exciting stirrings of the reality-bending capacities of human potential. Jesus did not walk on water, heal the sick, raise the dead, and multiply loaves and fish as a circus stunts–he was pointing at what happens when the Quantum Self is realized. (You might check out my Bending the Reality Spoon article from 2012, touching on the miracles thing).

I’m going to be exploring this “magic” theme in greater depth over the next few blog posts, but for now I will sign off with this stunning excerpt from Boy’s Life, an award-winning novel by Robert McCammon. When I first read it, I felt my heart flutter with recognition of something deeply true and hauntingly accurate.

 “You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.”

….The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.” 

In the  spirit of remembering the magic we are, Awareness is Here.

—–

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PS: Did you know I’ve started a weekly 3-minute video blog? It’s free, fun and magical. Curious? Then subscribe here. 

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The 4 Types of Goal-Setters Pre and Post Awakening: Which One Are You?


Power of Goals

Recently someone posted on an enlightenment FB group, the question, “Do you have goals?” If this were any place else, the query would have seemed strange and the answer would be “Of course I have goals.”

What happened next were dozens of comments along the lines of “No goals here. No one here to set goals.”  That is like asking, do you breathe? And people say, “No breathing here, no one to breathe.”

You see, in the land of liberation from illusion, there’s a patch of quicksand that many aspirants fall into: The quicksand of inertia. It has been called Zen Sickness, a kind of ennui that leads to depersonalization: You know the gig: There is nobody here and therefore for nothing to do.

But this is a spectrum disorder with degrees of, well, temporarily insanity. Are you unenlightened and sane? Enlightened and crazy? Let’s take the test, shall we and discover: Do you have goals or apparent goals? And are you in possession of a somebody or a nobody?

Check only one of the next two types as Yes or No for you (no you, nobody here, or whomever is taking this test).

I find myself best described by:

1) An everyday middle of the bell curve human yet to awaken to the vast self that I truly am and caught up in the thought that I must achieve something to be successful, lovable and happy. My goals are carrots that promise well being. They keep me distracted from the well being I already am. My goals are self-serving. They are karma bound and karma creating.

2) A post awakening person who playfully engages true nature in acts of creation. I have goals, but they are fluid and flowing, changing with truth in the moment. I have goals, but am not attached to outcome. I notice  there is incredible flow, ease and synchronicity when my goals are true: they are arrows from my soul ready to hit the mark. My goals are in service of the greater good. They are Dharma directed and free of karma creation.

If you answer no to the above you are one of these two types:

3)  I am a depressed or despairing everyday individual going through a rough patch in life. I no longer have goals because I’ve lost sight of my own worth and creativity. My goal-less state is triggered by a emotional loss, life set back, death of a dream, a loved one or a catastrophic failure of some kind. Sometimes Prozac is prescribed so I can get back on the goals achieved=happiness treadmill sooner than later.

4)  I am a a post-awakening individual whose liberation landed me in the inertia quicksand. I suddenly find my “me” missing in action. Along with this new no-self, is the loss of directionality and goals. What used to matter to me is irrelevant–the self that was at the center of those old goals is gone.

—-

If you answered yes to this last type, good news  This is a phase. It passes. It’s a clearance sale of the emotional and mental junk that defined who you were most of your life.

But you see, these types of individuals get stuck there sometimes. You are watcher, not a participant. You witness own actions as if they are happening without you. And you get comfortable here, in this passive place of watching, of existing without apparent agency.

I went through this stage and it lasted for three months. But if you don’t attach to the idea that this is an arrival point, you will pass through it.

On the the other side is a freshness and delight where goals are lightly held, and easily made manifest. And that which is a struggle is seen simply as a misdirection. Now, a goal is released with as much ease as we would experience in letting go of a negative thought–well, if and when those thoughts arise anymore.

The story of NO YOU and NOTHING TO DO is no more real than the old story of YOU and EVERYTHING to do. The truth is in the middle..and it allows for goals. And sure, times of being without a goal. But ultimately, if you are breathing, you are creating. If you are creating, you are goal-directed. Like it or not. Nothing can happen without goals because goals are the focalizer for intention.

I have a Rumi quote that sits at the bottom of all of my outgoing emails. Take this quote and really read into the truth of it. Rumi does not say you are “nothing with no movement.”

Rather, he writes, “You are the universe in ecstatic motion. Stop acting so small.”

Awareness is here, in ecstatic motion,

Lori Ann

 

 

 

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Why Shakti Matters


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I’m in a room of folks who are shaking, trembling, laughing and crying. One is even chanting in Spanish though I think she told me she was Bulgarian. We’ve been meditating for about thirty minutes and the sudden outburst of expression is happening because the teacher has gone around the room touching peoples heads. In Sanskrit, it’s called Shaktipat (Sanskrit, from shakti – “(psychic) energy” – and pāta, “to fall”) which translates roughly as the conferring of spiritual energy upon one person by another.

When Igor Kufayev touches my head, a stream of coolness pours down my neck and back, and the deepest bliss rises up into uncontainable laughter. Soon, I’m laughing so hard, I can barely breathe. Bent over in my seat, holding my belly, I realize I’ve got it, the cosmic joke that has no words. It’s so funny, and so beautiful. How could I ever forget the incredible ecstatic humour of it all?

Yet, it was this same intensely blissful revelation of who (or what) I really am, that ushered in my own spontaneous awakening in the fall of 2011. Now, three years later, in this room, it’s as if the clear stream of that knowing has become a Niagara Falls-like torrent of grace. It’s not just a reminder of the what I know, it’s a wholesale baptism in that truth.

People have begun to spontaneously sing and tone — it sounds like a heavenly kirtan session, and it’s building momentum. There are overtones that sound angelic and there are baritones that rumble like thunder in the distance. The sounds of this spontaneous choir are hauntingly evocative and for no reason my laughter becomes tears. There is no thought here, only wonderstruck awe.

This is feminine face of God in the room. This is me. And I am blissfully juicy.

◊♦◊

What exactly is this intoxicatingly moist side of God-Self? It’s known by these names: The Holy Spirit, Shakti, Kundalini, the Divine Feminine. It’s not an optional choice on the enlightenment menu but an essential part of dining on truth.

Honestly, if you hang out on the contemporary non-duality circuit long enough, you eventually develop a hunger for the tangible aliveness of your own divinity, something more filling than kibble-sized morsels of Just This, No-Self, Emptiness and No Mind.

Even if these descriptors are actual recognitions on the path, there exists a whole lot of ideation that does not seem to translate into the actual lived reality of peace. In fact, a lot of the online non-duality crowd spend time and energy arguing their right to live daily lives full of anxiety, anger, despair and reactive emotions. Their reasoning goes something like this: “I’ve seen through the illusion of self, so anything that happens or any choices I make are not real anyway, because the me is not real. So who cares if it apparently suffers?”

There are, of course, those non-duality advocates who do experience an abiding peacefulness. And while it can be super-chill to lounge in that still emptiness and attendant Witnessing Consciousness, this detached perspective is the equivalent of seeing the world through only one of your two eyeballs. It’s a monocular vision of Truth and as such lacks the depth perception that comes from perceiving from the wholeness of your Being.

What do I mean exactly, by wholeness?

I’ve been hinting at this a long time, from posts as far back as my entries Empty Mind, Full Heart and Everything Matters Including Whiskey, Fairy Pools and Waterfalls. The dropping away of the self you mistook yourself to be is incomplete unless it is accompanied by the discovery of what you truly are. And you are not just empty. You are fullness itself. You are not only no-thing. You are also everything.

Confusion arises because the initial deconstruction phase is truly a demolition, a wholesale liquidation. Teacher Adyashanti says it well: “Make no mistake about it. Enlightenment is a destructive process…enlightenment is a crumbling away of untruth…It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

But that phase inevitably gives way to a remembering of what is true. This remembering catalyzes a full body-mind metamorphosis (and not always easy or pain-free, as I note in my viral hit post Why We are Not Ready for the Full Bodied Truth of Awakening and Crucify Those Who Tell It. ) That inpouring of our divinity and subsequent blossoming embodiment is the action of Shakti, the dynamic aspect of the immoveable absolute. It’s both a fiery cleaning agent and a soothing nectar–usually in that order.

And it’s not always a calm and quiet affair.

◊♦◊

Someone in the room is screaming, the kind of scream you typically associate with a scene from a horror movie, where a guy wielding a chainsaw has jumped out of the closet. Another person is sobbing in a grief-stricken wail–when I hear her, I feel she is crying for the lostness of something, perhaps for the monumental sadness of worldly ignorance. I’m still laughing, but now tears have joined the mirth.

At some point, the teacher asks us to lie down on the mats in the adjacent room. Once I am settled on a yoga mat the kriyas kick in and my arms and legs begin to jerk, like I am a marionette in the hands of a crazed puppeteer.

I’m no stranger to kriyas–which translates from Sanskrit as “action, deed or effort.” These spontaneous movements, from trembling, shaking, jerking to involuntary vocalizations and even postures, are well known in kundalini circles. My first encounter with this powerful force, I was 39 at the end of a yoga class. I thought I was dying. I did not sleep for two days. I was not prepared and I was not educated. I thought I was having a seizure or a stroke and stayed away from yoga for weeks to avoid a reoccurrence.

Yet the kriyas continued on and off for another six years. A few sexual partners experienced their first kriyas just getting close to me (it’s catchy). I was being purified by a holy fire, though then I would have said I was being harassed by kundalini. In the end, all that kundalini activation must have been good for something because my overnight spontaneous awakening three years ago was gentle.

One day I was me. The next day I was still a me, but without a trace of mine. It’s hard to possess something when you are everything.

◊♦◊

What a growing  number of contemporary spiritual leaders are beginning to message to the world is we need to include the feminine face of God, that any awakening that cleaves to the Absolute (Shiva) only, is in fact a bypass. As Kufayev declares in his talk at the 2014 Science and Non Duality conference:

“Knowledge is too dry. Even the knowledge of the self is too dry…if you are not drowned in the waves of your own love that that knowledge evoked, you’ll be fried. You’ll become brittle. You may think you’ve realized the Self, you may think you are bathing in the glory, but bathing means being wet. And it’s only Shakti that gives us wetness. The juice of life is in the Shakti.”

But why does it matter that we engage this juice of life, the sacred feminine? Why not continue on in the dry detached transcendent non-duality view that nothing of the world is real, and therefore nothing to worry about, nothing to do?.

Because it is becoming alarmingly obvious that the planet that sustains us can no longer be mistreated by her human children–if this earth is to sustain us, we need to cherish and to nourish that which gives us life. And the recognition of the divine feminine, of shakti, brings with it always the clarity and heart-centered knowing that all beings are interconnected. It’s as simple as this: to harm another, to harm earth, is to harm oneself.

Said most poignantly by contemporary Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, “…my heart hurts for the Earth, grieves at the way our culture treats her wonder and gifts, her magic and sacred meaning. And the question arises from my depths, in a culture of seeming abundance, how have we lost so much?”

One of my favourite spiritual philosophers and mystics, Andrew Harvey sums it up best in his book, A Return to the Mother.

“We are now, I believe, on the threshold of a third stage which I call the stage of the sacred marriage. This is the only position we could possibly take and still survive. This is a stage beyond both matriarchy and patriarchy. It involves the restoration to human respect of all of the rejected powers of the feminine. But it is absolutely essential that this restoration should be accomplished in the deep spirit of the sacred feminine. Not only should we invoke the sacred feminine, restore the sacred feminine, but this union between the matriarchal and the patriarchal, the sacred marriage, must be accomplished in the spirit of the sacred feminine for it to be real, effective, rich, and fecund. It must occur in her spirit of unconditional love, in her spirit of tolerance, forgiveness, all-embracing and all-harmonizing balance.”

◊♦◊

The morning meditation and discussion period is over and, at the week long immersion retreat I’m attending,  I find myself sitting beside the women whose voice I had recognized as she chanted in Spanish during the post-shaktipat outbreak of kriyas.

I ask her: “What were you saying? I only caught a few words, my Spanish is not that good?”

Her eyebrows raise. “Was that Spanish?”

“Yes, I clearly caught more than half of the words,” I say, sharing with her what I managed to translate.

“Oh.” She hesitates. “Well, I don’t speak Spanish”

I laugh, realizing at once that what I heard was what the Pentecostal Christians (I was in the movement for two years in my late teens) used to call speaking in tongues, one of the gifts of the holy spirit, along with spontaneous healing and mystical rapture. Not only does Shakti bring juice to the parched party, but she has a lot of magic up her sleeve.

And it’s that kind of magic–that sense of wonderment and mystery–that is so lacking in contemporary non-duality teachings. In that wasteland of no-self philosophy, we’ve lost a sense of the sacred and the non-ordinary.

And in dismissing this planet, its beings and our very bodies as somehow unreal, we’ve become blind to what matters: In the words Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “We will survive and thrive together with our Mother Earth or we will not survive at all.”

◊♦◊

Disclaimer: While at the time this was written statements in this article were true for me, I’ve since discovered a ‘guru’ can also be a reason to hide from my own inner-teacher and truth. The slippery slope of enchantment in another (no different in many ways to falling in love) leads inexorably to unrealistic expectations and pedestaling.

I always say, “I am a person not a perfection. But perfection can shine through my person.” Sometimes a teacher forgets they are not perfection but only a vehicle for it–– especially when students relinquish their own heart-knowing in exchange for blind adherence to an authority.

Igor Kufayev, mentioned at the end of this article, is no longer my teacher. That does not mean his teaching is of no value. It simply means the relationship was no longer serving my own unfoldment.  (July 22, 2014…Feast of the St. Mary Magdalen Day.)

 

PS: Did you know I’ve started a weekly 3-minute video blog? It’s free, fun and magical. Curious? Then subscribe here. 

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5 Reasons a Guru is Good for Your Post-Awakening No-Self


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“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you  there”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Disclaimer: While at the time this was written statements in this article were true for me, I’ve since discovered a ‘guru’ can also be a reason to hide from my own inner-teacher and truth. The slippery slope of enchantment in another (no different in many ways to falling in love) leads inexorably to unrealistic expectations and pedestaling.

I always say, “I am a person not a perfection. But perfection can shine through my person.” Sometimes a teacher forgets they are not perfection but only a vehicle for it–– especially when students relinquish their own heart-knowing in exchange for blind adherence to an authority.

Igor Kufayev, mentioned at the end of this article, is no longer my teacher. That does not mean his teaching is of no value. It simply means the relationship was no longer serving my own unfoldment.  (July 22, 2014…Feast of the St. Mary Magdalen Day.)

————————-

In a popular Facebook group for enlightenment chit-chat, someone wrote about how post-awakening, a spiritual community or teacher seemed unnecessary if not impossible. This man, prior to his popping awake four years ago had even been an ordained member of a Buddhist community. Then, it all fell away.

This question of the need for a teacher post awakening is a juicy one. A deep and true awakening obliterates the seeker, the very identity that attached itself to a club (Buddhism/Tantra/Shamanism for instance) or to the role of a student/aspirant. And the often-unspoken truth is, the seeker loves to search more than it desires to find. Pre-awakening, attachment to the role of spiritual practitioner can be a sly haven from waking up.

In my tectonic shift from spiritual dilettante to “Holey Moley I’m Awake” three years ago, I wrote that “I used to be a seeker and so I invested energy and time in renovating that house. I continually decluttered it with new meditation or visualization practices. I repainted it inside and out with new knowledge, to make it more beautiful and give it curb side appeal. I threw out the junk as best I could, so that my house would be spacious, simple and Zen like. I wanted that house of my mind to be a place of stillness, equanimity and joy.

I worked really hard to make it all of those things though yoga, tantra, self-improvement books and psychological house cleaning. And yet always, hidden dirt under the carpet or a skeleton in the closet would emerge to reveal that stillness was not here. Only the unstable illusion of stillness was here.” (When the House Burns Down ).

But that said, two years post house-burning–after basking in abiding equanimity and inner stillness–I found myself unexpectedly encountering the muck of conditioned responses and ancestral line mud in my spick-and-span house of emptiness. I would say the stable ground of my awakened awareness started to develop patches of quicksand….and this is when a teacher became helpful.

For me, a teacher is simply someone further along in their own awakening journey. And to discount the need for this kind of been-there-done-that guidance can be a sign of spiritual immaturity at best and spiritual egoity at worst.

Rather than luring me back to Seekers-ville  (as if it is even possible once we glimpse the truth of what we are not), discovering a teacher  post awakening has stabilized and accelerated this enlightening process (thanks to Tim Foley for that term). And it is a process with stages and depth. Too many mistake it as one-shot deal, a kind of “I’ve arrived” when all that’s happened is a threshold has been crossed from the unreal to the real. Yet there exists an entire landscape beyond that initial shift–and it does have its share of pitfalls.

So, in the playful spirit of  clickbait lists, here is my top five reasons to have a teacher even after you have realized you are not the ‘me’ you thought yourself to be.

Why a Guru is Good for You–Even if your Me is Missing in Action

1. A Real Teacher Points the Finger Back at You.

Here is where you need guru-discrimination. There are teachers out there, looking for adoration, power and glory. But there are just as many teachers out there where the value is in a teaching that points you in one direction: inward. This is of immense assistance when the the residual of ego (the survivor bits of your awakening firestorm) show up clambering for self improvement or well-being through the externals of him, her, this or that. Your teacher, if this teacher is real, reminds you simply: “This outward Spring and garden are a reflection of the inward garden.” ~ Rumi

2. A Guru Helps You Keep Your Mirror Clean.  

You already know what I mean. Just when you think you are seeing the spotless reflection of God-Self/No-Self in the mirror of your daily life, you find a smudge. The one that looks like a “me” having a me-moment — you know, like arguing with reality. A teacher at this juncture is a great astringent for that greasy spot on the mirror of self-reflection, readily pointing out in Rumi-esque ways, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

3. A True Teacher Rescues You from the Trap of Mental Gymnastics.

This is perhaps the biggest pitfall post-awakening. The mind jumps in to analyse. And it’s frankly, exhausting and diverting. Because the mind is not where it’s at–the mind in fact, is a decoy from the heart, where all spiritual truth resides. You won’t realize this while you are busy bickering in virtual chat rooms with other no-selves about how many angels dance on the head of a non-duality pin. But trust me, there is so much more to be relished in the bliss and peace available in the fullness of the heart than in the dry debates of the mind.  A good teacher will point out: You are in your head again. Please step aside. Or as Rumi would instruct, “And from beyond the intellect, beautiful Love comes dragging her skirts, a cup of wine in her hand.”

4. A Teacher is an Accelerant for the Fire of Truth.

Here we enter the tricky notion of progress. Post awakening the celebration is a kind of arrival-relief, an end-of-the-journey satisfaction for the road-weary. It’s so damn clear when the seeking ends, that what was sought was here all along (or as Rumi said, that which you are seeking is seeking you), a merry mirth emerges as well. The cosmic joke on us can be so en-lightening at first, that the idea there is a “go further” seems absurd. Where is there to go, and who is there to go? Yet, if you sit long enough in in the post-awakening terrain, there is a niggling question that emerges: I have awoken but am I living this awake-ness?

In the words of neo-advaita teacher Adyashanti, during a 2008 gathering:Even though you’ve seen in that moment that there is no you, nonetheless the dissolving of you has now begun in earnest and you can expect it to continue in ways and to a depth that you never imagined. And that’s basically what it’s about. And once that process has started, it doesn’t really need your help. It just can use you not hindering it. The “me” can’t help it along, but the “me” sure can kind of slow the whole thing down. “

And that is where a teacher steps in. A good teacher sees where you are stopping or blocking this progressive unfoldment, and with skillful insight (and sometimes a spiritual transmission) gives you the momentum needed to overcome post-awakening-inertia. Because as my teacher Igor Kufayev notes, “Enlightenment is not a moment fixed in time, but a process of expansion.”

5. A Teacher Can be A Conduit for Grace.

A definition is probably needed here and one of my favourites is this line by progressive Christian theologian Preston Sprinkle, “Grace…means that God is pursuing you.”

It is by this mechanism of grace (God’s pursuit of us) that we initially awaken to the truth of who we are–which is an ultimate irony, because in the quest for enlightenment (which I call the end of suffering) it seems as if we are are the pursuer. In fact, two years prior to my own grace-filled overnight awakening, I wrote a poem hinting at the same insight about who is chasing who and what happens when we surrender our search.

“When I stopped looking,
God found me. When I was minding
My own sweet business, God
Kept butting in.

What a pain in the ass. After eons
Avoiding me
God suddenly
Can ‘t stop
Harassing me.”

The point then of a deeply self-realized spiritual teacher in the context of post-awakening is that grace can continue to manifest as God nagging us and cheering us through our teacher to go further. It’s all too easy to rest on our awakening laurels, sit in self-satisfied bliss or peace, and imagine ourselves “cooked.”

A good teacher is a like a great chef, tending to each student’s progress with a knowing eye. It’s not enough to leave the awakened student at a low simmer when a full boil is best. Or to take that cake out of the oven before it rises–for the impulse of the divine is pursuing itself to wake up ALL THE WAY, to the place where separation of any kind ceases to exist.

This far shore of enlightenment is not a place we often reach alone–but more often with the guidance of a teacher or teachers who know the way. And grace is the mechanism by which a teacher can truly teach. It’s not about the words a teacher speaks–it’s the truth carried on the backs of those words.

I’ll end here with a video called A Touch of Grace. Yes, it’s a shameless plug for teacher Igor Kufayev, but there is also ample footage of me sharing just why I have chosen this particular teacher to be my guide.

But also know that the words expressed by me in this video and by others, are the same words that could be said of any true teacher. The qualities of a guru–one whose sole purpose is to assist the student to no longer need a teacher at all–are universal.

Awareness is here, and on You Tube!

(Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to suggest you need to find a guru to be on your path. It’s simply to say, if one shows up, it might be a good thing.)

 

Lori Ann.

 

 

PS: Did you know I’ve started a weekly 3-minute video blog? It’s free, fun and magical. Curious? Then subscribe here. 

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Bigger Than The Sky: A Book About the Love that You Are by Vicki Woodyard


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If you are looking for a non-duality treatise full of mental acrobatics don’t bother with this book.

Frankly, I never manage to get through a Vicki Woodyard offering without going through at least a half a box of Kleenex—she knows how to jerk those tears. But she also elbows in a few good jokes (after all, she used to write them for comedienne Joan Rivers). Yet her wit in this book is not the laugh out loud kind, but a clever humor that catches you in such a way that you stop reading and start pondering with a smile.

418hAqKg+FL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Her latest book, Bigger than The Sky accomplishes this full emotional range and yet adds a surprise element, something I at least, did not perceive in her earlier works, Life with A Hole in It, and A Guru in the Guest Room. Bigger than the Sky is a less a book about spirituality as it is a book that transmits Truth.

Between the lines, embedded in the music behind the lyrics, is the melody of grace. And if you really hear it, if you let that sweet song into your heart, you will surely finish this book lighter and more at ease than when you began. (Yes, that is the sales pitch).

Even as this book is a kind of transmission, it is also at face value two interwoven stories—Woodyard’s five-year-ordeal of caring for a dying husband and her parallel email correspondence with a man named Peter, who through his own failing health, awakened to the simple joy and ease of being.

In his own words, “In the absence of a presence of a me, there is a wide wildness bigger than the sky.”

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Peter has a grim prognosis for a progressive illness that leaves him tired, weak, unable to walk steadily, mentally challenged around tasks such as counting change (even though abstract math was his thing, pre-illness) and under attack from debilitating migraines.

Yet, this illness is a fierce grace. He writes, “Pain that goes on for years tends to drown out the silliness of belief in systems in favor of direct contact with life, God, or whatever one wishes to call Truth. Intermediaries are a waste of time when the body is crumbling. I have found that such difficulties tend to make all other sounds meaningless. Only the beating of one’s own true heart has meaning.”

Yet despite the pain his body endures, every one of his letters shares his utter wonder and joy at sitting in the sunlight by a stream with his cats, watching nature and feeling inseparable from it all.

Woodyard is writing from her current perch, almost a decade after the death of her husband and the end of her seven years of letters to Peter (she does not know when Peter died, only that his letters trailed off). As such, the narrative jumps time zones, taking us back to the past as she lived it, interspersed with snippets of insight gleaned years later.

Her life, she readily admits, has been a charnel ground – the death of her seven-year-old daughter to cancer and then a husband twenty years later, fuelled the raging fires of grief that would burn away illusion. “In one sense, sorrow is the true guru and when it burns away the dross of the self, only holy ash remains.”

Yet this spiritual aspirant who for many years threw herself into the quest for awakening reveals she was often lost in suffering during her husband’s slow dying. Peter was a life raft for her soul, holding her hand with gentle reminders of truth.

◊♦◊

Vicky is a likeable narrator—she is not prone to self-pity, employs ample wit and keeps the pace brisk with short, easily digested chapters. And we see and appreciate her character arc from a beleaguered widow to years later, a woman who has fallen deeply in love with life itself, as herself.

Her hard-won peace is evident in beautiful words such as these: “Life is hard. Death is hard. Love is the gift. If you are touched by the hand of sorrow and draw back, you are just being human. Once you move forward, and let it be yours, it lets go. It lets go.”

But as much as Woodyard shines, the show stealer is Peter. He takes center stage, and our author seems more than happy to play sidekick to the delightful clarity that comes through in his letters to her. She mentions at one point the “contact high” she feels from reading his words, even years later. I too feel the light streaming through Peter’s humble wisdom.

Here are just a few of my favorite lines from Peter, who so sweetly inserts the qualifier in almost every letter to his pen pal Vicki, that these are just his opinions.

“In one’s own heart (just my opinion of course) God is patiently waiting to jump out and say “Boo!” But for many the show seems so much more interesting. Especially when the show contains apparent love and suffering.”

“We think and we think and we think we know and we think we don’t know and we think some more, all in quite a wonderful effort to avoid joy. Which it seems to me, is what we truly are.”

“Well, I kinda feel that suffering is on whole simply a path of more suffering. I cannot see how suffering leads anywhere else.”

“It seems to me that truth (perhaps with a capital T) is so simple and easy that we run past it, sweating heavily.”

“That which can be gained can also be lost. Speaking personally—and this is just my opinion of course—only that which is permanent is of interest. God dies when I fall asleep, at night, so She is of no interest. Teachers die too, as do their teachings, so they are of no interest. Insights also fade, so they are of no interest. They story of one’s life, love, hate, religious fervor, knowledge, self…all fade, so they are blind avenues too. The fun question seems to me is what lasts—what is permanent?”

“To me, just my opinion again—ease is simple, obvious, permanent and always present. So simple just to relax with a little cat and breathe the sunlit days, as they appear to pass. Tomorrow if it comes, will take care of itself.”

“We hold back from love, don’t we? And since love is what we are (yes!)—not in a silly intellectual way, but in actual fact—love here meaning ease and laughter and a quiet lightness—falling in love every time one can is such an easy tumble into oneself.”

There are so many more morsels of Peter here in this enchanting book, I leave those for you to discover.

◊♦◊

What is so clear, at least to me, is Peter’s heart was where he lived. And it was his demonstration of this often overlooked truth–that we are love–that was the gift he gave his friend Vicki. As she confesses, “His simplicity untangled my knotted up heart.”

It is this same gift this book offers all those who will meet Peter through his words. After all, love doesn’t stop when the body dies. It’s here, right now. Where it’s always been.

As Woodyard so eloquently summarizes, “Love is not a four letter word. It is a sense of eternity filtered through time and space. It occupies the heavens and the tiniest corner of the human heart.”

Now, do Vicki and yourself a heartfelt favor and go get the book here. It’s even on kindle!

For the curious: My review of A Guru in the Guest Room.

Art: False Mirror, by Rene Magritte

 

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