When the soul of man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.
~ James Joyce
A student was curious as to my religion the other day. When I told her I choose not to align to any one religion. She then said...
Oh. So you're still searching?
"Noooo." I said.
"Oh really? You don't believe in God?" She countered.
"Yes. I believe in God." I answered. Always have.
"Then who is your God?" She asked.
I laughed out loud. "My God? Haha. Our God, don't you think?"
Well, needless to say, I didn't go deeper into the conversation. Didn't feel the need to defend anything, or try to challenge someone else's belief system. However, she was being totally harmless in asking.
The your God, my God mentality is perplexing.
Why do I need religion? Why?
I love how Caroline Myss says religion is the politics of God. Seems as though rules and commandments become more important than Love. Seems as if religion rather we experience Oneness through something or someone, instead of we ourselves having the direct experience. Why not look too where the master is pointing, instead of looking to the master for salvation? I don't mean any offense, but these are the questions that linger.
In many ways, this is why I feel drawn to yoga practice. Yoga allows for the direct experience. Of course, it isn't the only way. And honestly, the yoga path has many trappings in itself. Yes. We yogis have tendency toward attachment to the body. I mean, at some point we have to let that one go. Right? However, it's natural in any circumstance, and continuing with the practice allows for a gradual, if not radical, letting go eventually.
Yoga is experiential in nature. You must practice. That's it. Any time I find myself debating things that are transitory I remind myself how it always goes back to the practice. Then soon, I find out why keeping my mouth shut is a good idea in regards to the topic of yoga and or anything looked at as "spiritual".
In the end, there is nothing to debate.
Yoga is not a religion in my opinion. Ultimately, it's about the inner discovery. When feeling one with oneself, I find ease in feeling one with others. Simple.
It seems the direct, ecstatic spiritual experience isn't well received in established religion.
Wasn't Jesus a mystic? I don't recall him wanting to form a religion. Was he not teaching the power of love, and the miraculousness of connecting to a higher power? Did he not express that we too could accomplish all that he had and more? A pretty tall order to say the least. However, I don't think he would have spoken those words if they were not true. No?
We'll hold on to the ideas of God, to the death, and yet ignore Truth and Love. Unified. Those who have tasted the Light, or by grace received a glimpse, have no use for structures, while being fulfilled in the world, as an example. Big difference, versus simply talking and preaching.
Guess what I'm trying to say is I've always felt personally drawn to the mystics of many varying traditions. Those who ignited the fire within, blazing down the trail, of what it means to be, utterly and completely, unbound. Free flowing. Not worrying about what that looks like externally to others. Because once the taste of Truth is known, nothing can extinguish what is known to be True, feeling the utter expanse of passionate existence.
I look to these inspiring masters as examples. As I, in turn, feel deep within. Whether Rumi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, or Hafiz, to name a few, there is a commonality they all share. Dogma is set aside. When I read their works of inspiration only the whispers of Truth are there. Universal. No rules. No good this. No bad that. It becomes about allowing. It becomes about joining. Feeling. The experience. Pure and simple. Eternal. Expansive.
When in the vicinity of a mystic, nothing needs to be said. By their presence alone, all things are known. I've experienced this on several occasions, being in their presence. Because pure being can't hold a candle to words. Which in reality, are only symbols. For, how can one explain, or put into words what a taste of pure existence is? Call it God or whatever you like.
So, I've come to an impasse, where I'd rather not label myself as anything. The more I identify with this world, where illusion is supreme, there seems to be more to loose.
What will I loose, you ask?
Well, from my point of view, I will loose touch with the part of myself that is ultimately real. With that being said, it isn't hard to choose. Even though, that in itself, is a challenging path. At least for me it is. But, I'm gradually learning. Gradually discovering and experiencing what that means.
In truth. What could be better than that?
- The People - warm, friendly, kind and generous. I can't name one unpleasant experience I've had with a Taiwanese person over the past 6 months. Not one. Not even close. More than anything I've been touched by the warmth and sincerity I've experienced with the people.
- Bubble Tea - Haha. I sound like a total tourist when I say this, but it's great. Truly. Bubble tea was founded in Taiwan famously. Actually it got its start in the city of Taichung. Tea stands are everywhere in Taiwan. I mean absolutely everywhere. I'm not exaggerating when I say this. You'll never be hurting for tea if you make a visit.
- Shabu-shabu - Ok. This is the greatest invention ever. I love it. I kind a feel like shabu-shabu is a meal and entertainment. Did I mention I love it? Also, named Hot Pot it's delicious as well as healthy. The best thing ever!
- The Beauty - I was pleasantly surprised by all the beauty in Taiwan. Mountains in the interior. Lush green flora. Beaches. Ocean. Natural hot springs. Waterfalls. There truly is much to discover.
- The Fruit - I got totally spoiled from all the endless varieties of fruits available. Many I can't even name.
This is only my short list. Funny that 3 of the items are food related. Overall, the food is wonderful.
"What will they think of me?" --Must be put aside for bliss.
~ Joseph Campbell
I'm about ready to call it a night. So tired. My last night. My very last night in Taiwan, after nearly 6 months. Wow. It went by incredibly fast. Too fast.
Tomorrow, I'm headed for Bangkok, Thailand.
I'm sure you can guess where my next stop will be...
The sign of Christmas
is a Star
A Light in darkness.
See it not outside yourself
but shining in
the Heaven within
~ A Course in Miracles
Wishing everyone a blessed holiday!
The picture above is a wild Taiwan poinsettia. They were everywhere in route to Alishan. Beautiful!
Peace on Earth, and good will to all.
If you want resurrection, you must have crucifixion.
~ Joseph Campbell
I love how Caroline Myss illustrates the important process of reflection, contemplation, discipline, and devotion. Yeah. Its work. But, work well worth the effort. A cycle that brings us back home. I have easily tired of the masks I've thrust upon myself. Can't blame anyone for it. It is my own responsibility to take a hard look and realize the higher calling. There have been times I've denied it. There have been times I looked the other way. However, it takes too much energy to deny what is True.
The past year has broke my heart open on numerous occasions. Too many to count. Having one's heart broken, no matter the cause, is a good thing. Whether it's the parting ways of two who felt deep love, or simply being a witness to an act of kindness. It gives pause to what is real within. Whenever I get caught up in the game of life, I do my best to remember the constant that never changes. Never dies. This is where I will look for guidance. Before, I would look anywhere BUT. Crazy. I know. Hee, hee. I'm learning. Thankfully.
Deep in the madness of life. Thrust in the uncertainty. I anchor myself. As best I can.
Yesterday, I left Gangshan, a small town on the outskirts of Kaoshung, where I have been teaching for the past 5 weeks or so. What a miraculous group. From scratch, we blasted through the trails and tribulations of taking on an Ashtanga yoga practice. They expected alot out of me, and I did the same. Wow. We had many laughs too. Wonderful. Up and a way they flew, as they took hold of this transformational practice. Often, a class that was only allotted for 90 minutes, we would loose track of time, digging deep into the meaning behind it all, with my wonderful interpreter Tony, and easily 3 hours would pass by. How could this possibly be work? I feel blessed! Many times it brought me back to why I'm doing what I'm doing.
It tugged at my heart to leave the students, especially the couple who hosted me, Tony and Katie. What lights! So pure. So simple. In the end, before leaving, I tried to explain to them that the experience, and love extended toward me, was much more than I could have ever asked for. I expressed how honored and privileged I felt. Hahaha. They wouldn't hear of it. They felt they came away with more through the experience. Nope. I don't know how that could be possible. Let's just say we came to a draw. Hahahaha.
It was all I could do not to cry.
I taught them Ashtanga yoga. Little do they know, that they taught me about Love. What a labor of love it was. There is no better kind.
Honestly, I know nothing. Haha. Another great relief! And somehow, it all comes together.
Shedding one's skin. The snake that cannot shed skin perishes. So do the spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be spirit.
I spent the last couple days exploring the east coast of Taiwan. What beauty. The east side is far less populated in contrast to the west, where the majority of Taiwan's inhabitants reside. The reason, is the west has a larger plateau in relationship to the mountains, which make up most of the the island's interior. On the east side, the plateau is only a fraction in comparison. So, it makes for challenges in regards to transportation and development. Which I say, bravo! Why spoil it by building more roads and buildings. In addition, the coast gets plummeted during typhoon season. Most of the devastating storms enter the country from this side, which in turn, can be a challenge from time to time.
With all that being said, I truly fell in love with the east coast. Breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean are all around. My two favorite things coming together. On the particular day we were out, the waves from the Pacific were large and looming. The wind relentless. Powerful. Needless to say I lost my favorite scarf from the ravages of the wind. Poof! It slipped off my neck. Gone. In a blink of an eye, as we crossed the bridge to Sanstiantai Island. You talk about wind. The wind was so strong, I thought my eyelids were gonna rip off. I'm not joking.
The waves coming in were especially large. Scary and beautiful at the same time. I don't know what it is, but the ocean puts me into a trance. The bigger and scarier the wave, the more entranced. I kept wanting to step closer and closer. Feeling the clap and thunder, as each wave crashed a shore. How small I felt. How small and insignificant in comparison to the awe and wonder before me. I loved every minute of this feeling.
The group could have left me out there for hours, as they went about their day, and I would have been fully satisfied to sit and watch. Feeling one with each magnificent wave.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
~ Maya Angelou
Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure.
~ Joseph Campbell
Closing the gap. Yes. The gap. The space that supposedly separates me from another person. An interesting thing to contemplate. No?
As I deepen into something new. Or maybe a better way to say it, is deepening into a new way of perceiving. Viewing. Living. Dunno. What I do know, is the importance that everyday relationships hold. As I connect to my own inner voice, I see how every contact I make is an opportunity to close the gap...so to speak.
Some of my greatest teachers have been those who left me feeling frustrated and hopeless, just as much, as those who have left me feeling a deep sense of awe and inspiration.
In the end, it all starts with what's inside of me. No more. No less. If we are truly one. Then why conceptualize it. Practicing what this oneness means is where the real juice is.
Yeah, of course it's easier said than done. But really, it becomes simple, through simple awareness. Slowing down the reaction time. Maybe not reacting at all. Viewing a situation for clearly what it is, instead of putting it through my own prejudicial filters.
Interesting to say the least.
More and more, I hear the call to begin directly applying the insights and awareness that come about on the mat, into daily life. Why else do it? I mean, what am I trying to build here? Build the ego? Or, build a deeper sense of who I am, and the connection that binds us together? I mean really? What does it come down to? When you strip EVERYTHING down to the basics?
For lack of a better word, something has clicked, but in the same breath I'm still absorbing a great deal.
The experience in Taiwan has been awesome, and exciting. But, not only because I've charted a new territory externally, but also because I've charted new territory internally. Or, I guess it really isn't new at all. Maybe I'm simply waking up to something that has always been there.
Hit the delete button every time fear appears.
~ Wayne Dyer
I can do that? Just hit delete? SWEET!! Fear is gone.
Love the following quote by Tami Simon on starting Sounds True.
Came across it from Dhrumil. Can definitely relate. Good stuff.
People sometimes ask me if it took courage to start Sounds True. And the answer is no. What did take courage was to leave a situation (Swathmore College) that promised a lot of rewards that were meaningful to other people but not actually meaningful to me. It took courage because I had no idea what would happen or how my life would unfold. I risked losing the respect of my family, and I had no explanation for my actions. I knew I had to leave a situation that felt wrong to me, but I had no idea what would feel right.
~ Tami Simon, Founder of Sounds True
I think about what my yoga practice has brought into my life, and it definitely has allowed me to be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I can't say I've always approached uncomfortable situations with a state of grace. Hell no! But, I'm learning, and feel I'm organically headed in that direction. At least let's hope. Hahaha. Pray for me. :)
Nonetheless, and for lack of a better word, it simply takes practice. The more I face my insignificant little fears, and feel the love, it becomes easier to do. The lessons are everywhere. It's an embrace of being total in every situation. Having the courage and knowing that all is as it should be, all the while, walking through it.
The times I've done this, while in it, I felt as if I had lost my mind.
And well, thank God I did.
And when the body starts to let go let it all go at once, not piece by piece, but like a whole bucket of stars dumped into the universe!
~ Sleater Kinney
My theme for 2008. Hahaha. The theme comes at the end of the year. Guess I'm in a reflective mood.
It's cool though.
I like the analogy of a trapeze artist. You can't reach for the next swing, without letting go of the one you're on first...and...if you miss...big deal...there's always a net to catch, if you fall.
I've entered into something new, where I'm left to ponder... Is this my life? Okay. Sounds strange. But, I don't think I'm the one driving the bus.
There seems to be an intelligence behind everything. And, it feels better to simply line up to that intelligence. Why fight it? There's constant Joy trying to reach. That's why the wise say...Allow.
Allow things to flow.
Ego likes complication.
When I feel like I've gotta have control, something is amiss. Dunno. Don't have all the answers. Isn't that a relief. The answers seem less and less important. Who cares. They're overrated. Why get hung up on them?
Learning. Practicing. Practicing what I learn. Oh yeah! Laughing. I gotta laugh at it all. But, let me just say. When I do line up. What a fucking release!! And, the craziness of it all...is nothing needed to be done.
'Come to the edge,' He said
They said, 'We are afraid.'
'Come to the edge,' He said
He pushed them ... and they flew.
~ Guillaume Apollinarie
Which brings me to the edge. I guess part of me has always been a bit edgy. I don't like limitations. I don't like to think within limitations. Dunno. Call me strange.
I guess you can say my yoga practice is a bit edgy. The performance of postures is meaningless. Striving for perfection is boring. Boring. With a capital B.
But, what really gets my juices flowing, is when I come to my edge. Yes. The edge. Then...
I let go.
An energy courses through like nothing I could have imagined or expected. The body. The instrument. Is laid aside. For, who I am is the force behind the movement.
This is who I am. This is real.
I could explode into nothingness...and, it would worth it.