A conversation with an Elm

 

IMG_3348.JPGSitting in the shade of an old Elm and reading some most interesting books I conjured three experiences expressed in the form of poems with each coming from a different place within me.  The first comes from a break in my reading when my wife came out to share the late afternoon sun.

 

 

“I wonder what the tree is thinking, said she.

The tree doesn’t think, it experiences, said I.

That’s you thinking too much said she.

No, that’s my experience of the tree, said I.

That’s you thinking about your experience, said she.

That’s me sharing the experience, said I.

Again, with the last word, said she.

We both smiled, looked up into the meandering branches, and became

lost within its raining foliage rustling in the breeze.”

 

–RJ Cole

 

The sublime world of the subjective imagination energizes like nothing else. Experiencing reality without objectifying it is a rare treat of grace. It’s like a conversation with God– in a place where there’s no need for words. There’s more than one way of shutting down the judgmental voice in our heads. Peace is what follows.

Have a great morning, or evening, wherever you may be.

Wisdom of the heart

 

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Oft times I find that I cannot say what is in my heart and turn to the poetry and wisdom of others to shine a light on my own story, my own soul. Below is a collection of poems, sayings, and quotes that come from people who had moments of lucidity that spoke deeply into my own heart. I hope they move you as well.

 

 

 

‘Buddy’s Poem’

“Can we be here without a purpose?

I don’t think we can. Earth is too

wise to waste herself on us.

A wound can come and set us

upon a path; the big ones do.

Stepping stone: Learn humility from scars.

Stepping stone: Apprentice to imperfection.

Stepping stone: Claim the beauty of your soul.

Yes, I do believe in traveling this way.

Once I met a high-spirited eagle with

a crooked yellow beak who had been

grounded for life

by the infectious bite of a tiny mosquito.

You’d think that humiliating

for such a bird,

enraging.

But no,

this bird tossed a stone in front of me,

arched his head back

 

and screamed into the heavens,

“Compassion!”

And, I knew, absolutely knew,

in that moment

he meant

for everything.”

© 2013/Jamie K. Reaser

From “Wild Life: New and Selected Poems” (Hiraeth Press in June 2013; )

 

“Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

-Eckhart Tolle

What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.

–Ram Dass

“The reason that ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: you cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to lead. If you follow love, your life will become uncertain, and the ego craves certainty.”

–Deepak Chopra

The Art of Self Reflection – What To Remember When Waking

“In that first

hardly noticed

moment

to which you wake,

coming back

to this life

from the other

more secret,

moveable

and frighteningly

honest

world

where everything

began,

there is a small

opening

into the new day

which closes

the moment

you begin

your plans.

 

What you can plan

is too small

for you to live.

 

What you can live

wholeheartedly

will make plans

enough

for the vitality

hidden in your sleep.

 

To be human

is to become visible

while carrying

what is hidden

as a gift to others.

 

To remember

the other world

in this world

is to live in your

true inheritance.”

– David Whyte

 

“When you get to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.

– Edward Teller

 

“I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.

I prayed for guidance and learned to trust myself.

I prayed for happiness and realized I am not my ego.

I prayed for peace and learned to accept others unconditionally.

I prayed for abundance and realized my doubt kept it out.

I prayed for wealth and realized it is my health.

I prayed for a miracle and realized I am the miracle.

I prayed for a soul mate and realized I am the One.

I prayed for love and realized it’s always knocking, but I have to allow it in.”

­­–Jackson Kiddard

 

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”

– C. Joy Bell

 

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”

― Pema Chödrön

 

Typically we humans look for easy fixes—a pill, a diet, a prayer, the ultimate work-out machine. And it all needs to happen within 10 days, or your money back! But that’s not the way of the universe. Sometimes one needs to do a little work on themselves to become proficient with something, anything, and becoming more the author of one’s life requires some work.

 In this DreamingWizard link there are a number of techniques designed to bring you into the present moment so that you can begin to be truly relevant.

 

“There is no one who hears, there is just hearing. There is no one who sees, there is just seeing.”

–C. Beck, Everyday Zen (1989)

If I were to carry the idea in the above quote further I might add, that there may be no “I” who is dreaming, there is just dreaming.

 You and I don’t just see people or objects, we see our continuously altered, comparative projections onto those people and objects and then we surmise a meaning to those projections. Fundamentally, we are “Meaning Machines!” in that we assign symbolic meaning to everything.

 

“The wind? I am the wind.

The sea and the moon?

I am the sea and the moon.

Tears, pain, love, bird-flights?

I am all of them. I dance what I am.

Sin, prayer, flight,

the light that never was

on land or sea?

I dance what I am…..”

–Carl Sandburg

 

“The question may be, if all we are is our body, where do we go when it dies? Ponder this and don’t be too quick to answer–discovering the secrets to the universe and to your true nature cannot be found in the quick answer whether that answer comes from some dogma, book, some guru, your schooling, your beliefs, or your own thoughts. Asking the right question in the right way is far more important because it engages more than the mind–it tickles the soul. The moment you think that you “know” something the engaging process shuts down and the soul is shoved aside.

The Unknown is more vast, more open, more peaceful, and more freeing than you ever imagined it would be. If you don’t experience it that way, it means you’re not resting there; you’re still trying to know. That will cause you to suffer because you’re choosing security over Freedom. When you rest deeply in the Unknown without trying to escape, your experience becomes very vast. As the experience of the Unknown deepens, your boundaries begin to dissolve. You realize, not just intellectually but on a deep level, that you have no idea who or what you are. A few minutes ago, you knew who you were—you had a history and a personality—but from this place of not knowing, you question all of that.”

–Adyashanti

 

 

 

Love and Acknowledgment

Spiritual+Love.JPGIn one of my dreams a group of frustrated and critical women, an un-nourishing restaurant experience, and a missing suitcase representing unacknowledgment, unrealized longings and social neediness, and a symbol of independence and of not going somewhere in life confronted me. Whew! With dreams like that who needs stress?

But through my dream and subsequent reflection I learned something about myself. Once again I noticed that I was still looking for approval from my mother and as was usual, I didn’t get it. She’s been dead for 13 years now and the part of me that’s still looking for acknowledgment is the part of me that tried to get it 60+ years ago.

I also learned again that there’s no satisfying acknowledgement from outside myself when the inside has yet to acknowledge. I project the unsatisfied acknowledgement onto the stage of the waking world and then blame the waking world inhabitants for not acknowledging me properly. I’ve known this for quite some time, but I always seem to forget until the universe brings it up to me yet again, and again, and again.

This is not to say that the waking world inhabitants don’t have their own acknowledgement issues. I’ve observed many folks either delivering conditional acknowledgements, or throwing up subtle and not so subtle barriers toward acknowledgment coming their way.

Conditional acknowledgment, the kind where one hand delivers while another takes away such as “He’s really good for someone as awkward as he is!” Is like no acknowledgement at all. Don’t bother, I say. Don’t toss an acknowledgment that’s going to drop to the floor before the intended receiver can catch it. You won’t make any goals that way.

Acknowledgment is a tricky thing, we’re all looking for it and it’s all about the approval we didn’t get, or perceived not getting, from our parents. Acknowledgment can be energizing and empowering, or de-energizing and disempowering depending on the sincerity and quality of the delivery. Better to just say “good job” than to get all flowery and come across as disingenuous.

I used to present a workshop a number of years ago called “The Acknowledgment Workshop”. I spent a great deal of time helping people discover what acknowledgment was and was not and what were some of the barriers to giving it and some of the obstacles to getting it e.g. accepting it. What I didn’t do then was to talk about the inner dialog that many of us have that makes it difficult to present, or accept, nor did I spend much time talking about who’s really responsible for getting and giving acknowledgment.

Bottom line– Personal responsibility is more than being responsible for your actions, it is also being responsible for what you project onto your experiences and onto the actions of others. Responsibility includes your interpretation of reality and what you do with that.

Acknowledgment is a dance between the receiver and the giver with each responsible for what is delivered and what is received. We owe it to the one to whom we are giving the acknowledgment to make sure that it is given in a way that it can be received and that it actually is taken in the manner it was given. It is also incumbent on the receiver to communicate to the giver what is wanted and needed.

That last part is by far the most difficult because it can be quite embarrassing and it has the potential for disempowering the giver e.g. it can be seen as a criticism of the acknowledgment and thus insult the giver. Mostly I wait until another time and place and unrelated to the off-putting acknowledgment to make a statement of what I need regarding an acknowledgment, though if it’s just between the other person and me, I have been known to take them aside and let them know that I didn’t really feel the acknowledgment, but for an acknowledgment junkie like me that doesn’t always happen e.g. why take the chance that whatever acknowledgment was there will then be rescinded?

I also learned (again) that one cannot receive or deliver true, unconditional acknowledgment through the ego-self. It is through the larger soul-self that acknowledgment is experienced. It is through that part of each of us that is, and experiences, love. And as with everything meaningful, that’s where acknowledgment comes from either in it’s giving, or it’s receiving–love.

Acknowledgment has the best chance of traversing the distance between people when it comes out of that place of love and is embraced by the same place in the other. Love is never conditional,half-hearted, or self-serving.

Yet love in the form of an acknowledgment isn’t always about “peace and pleasure”*. Love can come to one whether consciously intended or unintended by the giver, in a way that makes the receiver look deeply into their self to see what lies in their heart of hearts.

The Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote in his Prophet pointing out another level of love,

 

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

 But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure*,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.”

Though Gibran may not have meant it this way, I believe that there are some secrets of the heart that need to be made known so that they do not prevent it’s true expression. In this way a conditional acknowledgment can be in the service of love because it focuses your attention on what you’re doing with it and provides the opportunity to ask yourself why. For me the pain of an unsatisfying acknowledgment can be useful and healing. My heart is often opened through pain and thus I try not to reject its healing process.

Two poems felt while listening to a flute meditation

 

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Dream Journey

Sailing into the night beneath the big dipper’s spout

a dragon and a dove fly within each other’s wake

and I tack north till dawn comes starboard.

The Coming

Silver streaks across white cotton skies.

A hill’s edge turns black silhouette and the shadows become arbored spires reaching out to the rising light.

A cock crows, a crow calls to hidden brothers and then the quiet.

Not a leaf twitches.

All are holding their breath awaiting the coming of the light.

It will come, it always does, a holy thing giving of itself freely.

Not a thing out there but a glowing deep within every cell of our being.

With us at birth and at the closing of our days.

Neverland, the border land between sleep and wakefulness

 

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“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” was Peter Pan’s answer to Wendy when asked where Neverland was located. It was also Captain Kirks answer to helmsman Checkov when asked “Where to Captain?” in Star Trek VI. In both cases it referred to a mystical place between realities, an ‘unknown country’.

Neverland is also my name for that borderland called the daydream where we are neither in sleep or in wakefulness but certainly lost to both worlds. It is a place at the margins of reality a place that some call fantasy.

Now, a certain amount of fantasy is healthy to a balanced psyche. It can be healing to ones sense of self and help one to recuperate from the traumas of the everyday. This fantasy world often serves the artist, poet, writer, musician, lyricist, inventor, and scientist or just about everyone else. It is where the energy of creativity is born. I suggest that it is the semi-lucid place where the conscious meets the unconscious to where the soul speaks to us most clearly and where its power is felt most keenly.

But the traveler who hikes to realities edge must be careful where he or she steps and to visit too long or too often can lead to entrapment and skew the balance of the psyche i.e. it can separate one permanently from the upper kingdom and thus alienate them forever from friends and family. This was the very real threat that Robert experienced in the Archipelago of Dreams.  It is in our daydreams that all sorts of realities can be explored. In this place the soul is freed from the restrictions of the body and its limits with time, place and idea. Here there is a clarity of mind that can begin to form and inform. No longer restricted by time the future can come into focus. Traveling into the past often affects what’s happening in the present. One typically forgets what they are doing when they travel deeper into Neverland.

In the upper realms when one is tasking the mind narrows its engagement to deal only with the analytic task at hand and compassion suffers terribly. But in the Neverland of the daydream both the analytic and empathetic modes function and cycle through different modes and leading perhaps to a broader understanding. In the daydreaming mind various associations not seen when awake can bring forth understandings that the awake mind has grappled with without success. This also happens during dreaming but it tends to be more random.

Basically we are a daydreaming species. A recent Harvard study suggested that we humans tend to daydream up to 47% of the time we’re awake. But this is not useless idle time because studies have shown that unusual associations and pairings, counterfactuals if you ill, take place during a visit to Neverland. From our unrestricted depths well up all kinds of strange new thoughts that often turn out to be quite useful where new possibilities surfaced beyond what people are already exposed to in their waking lives (according to Baird and Schooler, Psychological Science, 2012). It is suggest here that more creative solutions result when the mind is allowed to wander into Neverland i.e. in general the better one is at wandering through the borderlands of consciousness, the more creative they tend to be.

In closing I share this excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe’s Marginalia (Part V,” Graham’s Magazine, March 1846):

“There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual.

 They arise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquility–when the bodily and mental health are in perfection– and at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these “fancies” only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with these ‘shadows of shadows’, and for absolute thought there is demanded time’s endurance.”

 

 

 

Gaia’s dream

 

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Starry Night Alex Ruiz

Not so long ago I wandered out to the front of the house one morning and looked up at the five am sky and saw the most beautiful site of the old crescent moon smiling down upon me. Standing awestruck for what seemed a very long time and moved nearly to tears I knew that I had to capture the vision in some meaningful way, so I ran back into the house and gathered my pen and journal and began to write…

 

Diamonds and glitter scattered across a Cheshire Cat moon in a sky not yet blue, but no longer black.

 Cold and a shiver I pull up my jacket, a night I remember so many lives back.

 As I lowered my gaze from the heavens to the world’s edgy line where dark silhouettes dawn,

 A glow of first light urged the Nightpainter to lay down her brush toward another day drawn.

 The Daypainter’s brush traced across mountain and valley and river and dale, warming all touched by this wondrous light.

 Revealing a pallet of a great artist’s canvas making the night’s mare but a half recalled fright.

 And out on the meadow full buttercupped and daisied, were beeflittered poppies all pretty and fine

 Life shivered and shook and began to dance crazy and then greeted me for the 10 billionth time.

 

A little night music

 

Nighttime at a roadside inn somewhere near Mt. Shasta.

 

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Found on Myazdatabase images

Banners of blood red and yellow clouds shining brightly in the distance turn grey silhouette upon a mountain’s edge at days end.

There’s a holy feeling as quiet descends across the valley. In communion I stand in an empty field singing to the night.

A bright flash lights the distant mountain kingdom where war sabers of cold and warm meet. The gods of day and night having one last joust.

A knight of the road dismounts his chuffing beast, fills its hungry belly with a sulfurous black fluid, and again flies into the now inky sky.

 

 

Who are you?

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From the Book of Dreams– RJ Cole

An old man tired and at the end of a very long day lay his head upon a rock and soon fell fast asleep.

In his sleep the Other came to him and hovered quietly until noticed.

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“Who are you?” Was the reply in turn.

“Awake I am known as Robert. And you?”

“I am the same as you. In sleep I am what I am when awake.”

“What is your purpose here?” asked the old man.

“What is your purpose?” Asked the Other.

“I’m not sure. What is my purpose? I’ve searched my life over to find my purpose. Are you here to show me?”

“It’s not about searching for purpose, in that you cannot find it. Your purpose will find you. When it does you’ll be it.”

“How will I know when it’s found me?” asked the old man.

“When you’re being it.”

And he woke up.

 

 

The feminine soul comes to me through my sleeping dream bringing with her the secret alchemy of wholeness

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Traditionally it is thought that the soul of a woman is masculine and the soul of a man is feminine and that it is this interesting opposition that is trying to be reconciled through our dreams and relationships.

 

Seeking I am lead to a place from which I cannot return.

 I am reminded that I am but a visitor here from a place I never left.

 

 She came to me by dream urging me toward distant hills.

 She opened me that I may give birth to the creative.

 Though I sought comfort in ideas, she led me to the song of my heart.

 

 My desire for her is but her desire for me.

 I draw her unto me as she draws me unto her.

 I dream her with every breath

 as she is the breath that dreams me.

–RJ Cole 2017

 

Who is the ‘she’ of whom I speak? She is my soul who animates me– the spirit guide who comes to me as a means of bringing balance to the archetypal dueling forces of the masculine and feminine within me. She came to me in a dream to help my conscious self unite with my spiritual self and invite me to leave the diversions of both my adult and childhood selves behind and scale the mountains beyond where my true self lay. She is the connection with my soul that I yearn for.

Rumi wisdom: A different take on “what you seek you shall find”

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You are searching the world for

treasure but the real treasure is

yourself. If you are tempted by

bread, you will find only bread.

What you seek for you become.”

–Rumi

 

Search for intellectual understanding and you’ll miss the spirit. Understanding is the booby prize in life. It will not help you find your soul or manifest your spiritual self. It will not fill the void in your life or provide any lasting meaning. Seek ways to love, to manifest your soul, and find your spiritual self and you will find your true self.

Seek beauty and you’ll become it. Seek outer pleasures and they will fail you. Be in wonder and awe and you will be filled with the spirit. Seek to satisfy the desires of the ego and you’ll miss your real self.

Seek anger and hate and you will become it. Seek mystery and it will fill you with love for self and others. Seek out your shadow self and it will set you free for it is only when you hide it or hide from it that it has control over you. Seek only things and you’ll miss the intangibles, the ethereal, and divine. Seek to give and you’ll receive the whole world. Seek to possess and be possessed. Seek to just be and nothing will own you but you.

Seeking to find that which agrees with you results in missing the truth. If seeking to keep someone you will lose them. Trying to find a truth that fits your reality will forever blind you to reality.

None of these need your understanding in order to become, just their practice will make it so.

 

“You have woken up late,

lost and perplexed

but don’t rush to your books

looking for knowledge.

Pick up a flute instead and

let your heart play.”

–Rumi