Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I’m starting to acquire an intuitive sense of what belongs. Pairing down my life to what matters most, and eliminating clutter, has opened up space for me to start recognizing what wants to manifest and what fits in here. I still have a long way to go in streamlining my physical surroundings, but I’ve also come an incredible distance already.

At times I find myself slipping into that different set of eyes—the one that sees nuance and layers. It’s when I look out of those eyes that it becomes glaringly obvious what doesn’t fit. Recently it was the realization (I know how goofy and trivial this will sound) that my black bag--what I used to carry my books and notebooks and whatever else I need whenever I go out--just doesn’t fit. It just feels all wrong, somehow. I can’t explain. I could get all rational and come up with all sorts of explanations for why it might not be a good fit, but really all that matters is I know it doesn’t fit.

Not that I have anything to replace it with—but now at least I recognize that it ultimately doesn’t belong.

This all presents a fascinating new approach. Imagine having this kind of radar on all the time. Being able to feel the pull of objects that want to belong in my space and sensing when the energy is all wrong. Imagine if everyone had this radar--what kind of “consumers” would we become? Consumers of beauty and harmony, maybe.

I’ve noticed though, too, that even when I’m totally immersed in the perfection of my surroundings there’s always a sort of tension. I might describe it as a yearning, or even a dissatisfaction. Here is utter perfection—how I revel in its bliss! And yet simultaneously there’s this tension or yearning. What is that?

I think maybe it’s just the pulse of creation. The blissful perfection of the moment is static, whereas life is ever-changing. The yearning, I think, is the universe pulsing threw me seeking the next moment, the next now. Reinventing and re-experiencing itself in each new NOW. The static present rubbing up against the forever malleable future means there will always be a dynamic tension existing in even the most harmonious of NOWs.

When I experienced bliss, and I want to know what I can do with it, that’s the pulsing of creation. That’s the dynamic tension of a conscious universe creating itself.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I’m still groggy so I don’t know if I will find anything to write about this morning. I would spend this waking up time reading, but I don’t have any good books right now. Collin was home sick on Thursday and Friday so I didn’t get to the library this week.

I have one book here that I tried to read last week, but I got really disgusted with it. I didn’t quite realize what it was when I checked it out. I somehow had the mistaken notion that it was legitimate. It’s in that whole genre of white person initiated into the secrets of the natives, like the Lynn Andrews books, Carlos Castaneda books, Mary Summer Rain books. At least those three could sort of pull it off. They were all good writers, good storytellers, and they were (though I know plenty of people will dispute it) tapping into Truth to an extent. They weren’t just totally spinning wild yarns. But this guy is so full of it. I can’t tell if he is doing it intentionally—making crap up—or if he has also deceived himself into thinking he has tapped into Truth. What especially gets me is that he goes around the country giving workshops and seminars on shamanism! What a charlatan.

No true shaman would advertise and promote himself. No true shaman would try to profit from his gifts. And no true shaman would try to deceive masses of people into thinking that they too could be a shaman if they took a few workshops!

A shaman must apprentice with the land and the elements. He must be willing to surrender the little self. You can’t teach that stuff in a workshop. It has to be lived out there in the real world.

This kind of hooey just aggravates me. Does he realize how totally disrespectful he’s being of the true shamans, how disrespectful he’s being of native ways and native knowledge?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Abram’s chapter on air was quite fascinating. I loved his introductory paragraphs which so beautifully expresses our immersion in this matrix:

[quote omitted due to length]

The one day last week I was sitting in the library parking lot, looking at a young well formed tree of maple, probably eight or ten years old. It’s bare branches stood out against the brilliant blue sky. I began to see it as you do those black and white drawings where if you focus on the black you see one thing (two faces in profile) but if you focus on the white space you see another thing (a wineglass). I saw the tree and its roots in the ground as the black field and I saw the air as an equally tangible white field. I began to see (and here I was imagining summer) how the white field didn’t simply touch the black field, but actually penetrated it through the pores in the leaves. I began to see the tree as this entity that stitches together earth and sky—it’s equally rooted in both elements.

You know what amazes me, what will always amaze me? It’s these ridiculous foreshadowings that happen all the time, the odd synchronicities. One day to be contemplating the tangible quality of the air, only to find a few days later a whole chapter in a book about the very same thing, when I had never seen a single person address the topic before! It will always seem miraculous to me every time it happens.

In the same way as the air enters the pores of the tree it also enters the lungs of my body. Abram discusses the sacredness of the breath and the spoken word. He mentions how the Hebrew language has one word “ruach” that means both spirit and wind. In the earliest verses Genesis, God is present as a wind. God blows life into Adam, and God flows through us with each breath. When Abram was discussing YHWH and the mystery and questions surrounding its pronunciation, I immediately intuited (thanks to Abram because he was discussing it in the context of the sacredness of the breath) that YHWH is simply the in-breath and the out-breath. A few paragraphs later I came across this sentence: “Some contemporary students of Kabbalah suggest that the forgotten pronunciation of the name may have entailed forming the first syllable ‘Y-H’ on the whispered in-breath and the second syllable ‘W-H’ on the whispered out-breath--the whole name thus forming a single cycle of the breath.” I find it exquisite to think of God moving through me with every breath. We are immersed in God, drenched with God. With every breath we are infused with God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I finished The Spell of the Sensuous last night. I got the weird sense that this book was meant to be a sort of early graduation present. I feel like I’m about to graduate to the next level of my apprenticeship. Apprenticeship to what? Wisdom, I guess.

I feel like recently so many threads are converging finally—thanks to the writings or ideas of a host of people: Paul Shepard, Edith Cobb, Ellsworth Huntington, Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Barry Lopez, even Jung and Wilber, and now especially David Abram.

I couldn’t help but give a little grunt of disgust when I saw his book was published in 1996. All this time, this book that I so desperately needed was already out there! But I’m sure I’m only completely ready for it now, or else it would have fallen into my hands sooner. Even a year or two ago I would have definitely grasped what he was saying intuitively, but I wouldn’t yet have actually lived it. Grasping in the mind is one thing, experiencing with the body is something different entirely, so layered, rich, nuanced and sensuous.

I loved how his choice of words were often similar to mine. Sensuous is one word that we share in describing direct experience. And matrix was a word he used quite a bit to describe the totality of the earthly environment we are immersed in.

In page after page in this book came validation for me. I’d think Yes! And remember how I’ve attempted to describe the same things in this journal, albeit so much more clumsily. I couldn’t match the beauty of his language—how divinely connected to the larger matrix he must have been as he wrote, to be able to express it with such truth and beauty. I’ve been so overcome with emotion to have found another human being writing about these things—NO ONE ELSE IS!

If I quoted everything that resonated or moved me in this book, I would have to copy the whole thing down. But I do want to include a few quotes.

Here he talks beautifully about the way in which we are created by place:

The human mind is not some otherworldly essence that comes to house itself inside our physiology. Rather, it is instilled and provoked by the sensorial field itself, induced by the tensions and participations between the human body and the animate earth. The invisible shapes of smells, rhythms of cricketsong, and the movement of shadow all, in a sense, provide the subtle body of our thoughts. Our own reflections, we might say, are a part of the play of light and its reflections, “the inner—what is it, if not internalized sky?”

By acknowledging such links between the inner, psychological world and the perceptual terrain that surrounds us, we begin to turn inside-out, loosening the psyche from its confinement within a strictly human sphere, freeing sentience to return to the sensible world that contains us. Intelligence is no longer ours alone but is a property of the earth; we are in it, of it, immersed in its depth. And indeed each terrain, each ecology, seems to have its own particular intelligence, its unique vernacular of soil and leaf and sky.

…[quote continues]

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The library had a copy of David Abram’s book The Spell of the Sensuous, so I’m now in the glorious process of devouring it. There have been times in my life where I have been looking and looking for a book, never quite able to find it, only to be suddenly jolted into awareness that the book I’m searching for is my story. Which of course nobody else could write. But this book—oh my God—has come so close to that Eureka! experience I’ve often sought.

He articulates so well what I’ve been experiencing—much better than I’ve been able to. It feels incredibly comforting and validating. This is a gift—the perfect book to fall into my hands at this time.

I’m in the middle of his discussion of the significance of writing. It jives with my thinking about the importance of language but I’m disappointed that he hasn’t mentioned the connection to ego- and self- building. It’s not just that words separate us from direct experience, but that words create subject and object and a reflective egoic self. The egoic self then becomes almost self-perpetuating, creating more and more mental constructs that lock it out of the fused natural world.

I love that Abram talks about the magic of the written word. I’ve always found words to be mysterious and magical things. Lately, I’ve also been seeing them to be mysterious and magical as well, when they morph before my very eyes. It’s hard to describe what exactly happens, but it happens both with my handwritten words in this book and the printed words in the books I read. The letters take on a sacred quality. I see them differently as sacred symbols (which they are, of course)—it’s almost like they shift to some ancient script. Argh, I’m not describing this well. Often when this happens I get that weird Native American flavor, as if I’m seeing Native American symbols—yet I know they didn’t have a written language, so that’s not really what’s happening. It’s hard to grasp. I see the supreme beauty of the letters, but I’m seeing them with different eyes, seeing them as nuanced layers of meaning.

When Abram discussed the Hebrew alphabet, that’s kind of how I’m seeing. a–Aleph, meant ox—and you can see its ox-iness. m–mem—eventually became M—it was also the Hebrew word for water. That’s not exactly it, but it sort of describes how I’m seeing more than one thing at once.

When words morph they also become exquisitely beautiful. If you’ve ever seen some ancient language and were struck by its beauty and mystery, that’s how I experience my own language in those moments. I think when this happens I’m being reminded how utterly sacred and powerful words are.