the cruelest month(s)

Manjusri, the Boddhisattva of Wisdom from Rubin Museum. 
He is supposed to be gentle - so this must his wrathful aspect. Perfect. 
He is cutting through the baloney of our/my illusions. The path to truth is not always easy.

The Wasteland (opening verse)

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 

Memory and desire, stirring 

Dull roots with spring rain. 

Winter kept us warm, covering 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 

- T.S. Eliot

How perfectly the Manjusri and TS Eliot express my experience! But where to take it from here? Usually in these vignette-like posts (blogs, as it were), there is a general direction. Much like riding a horse (at which I was never good), the writer leads and restrains an episode.

Not I. Not a clue.
Dull roots and dried tubers.
No horse.

In the Future
they shall be called
the atavistic months when
memory, desire, and despair were
awkwardly twined, and talk between
the coupled body-soul shouted
and whispered

"As we go through our trials and tribulations, outer circumstances seem to be exquisitely put together specifically to test each part of our realization. These trials and tribulations will also occur from the inside. Your unconscious at some point will start to reveal itself...

shoulder pain can't sleep
yoga practice wreckage
fear and sorrow
emotional rawness (thesaurus: unprocessed, untreated, unrefined, crude, natural; unedited, undigested, unprepared.)
heart and body sting-zing
vulnerable (thesaurus: helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible.)
hello past heartache
years since feeling that
what is happening
thought this self was long gone
ice packs

....with awakening our means of suppression and denial are either torn apart completely or wounded so severely that we can’t repress as much. The unconscious elements of our mind come into conscious awareness, and that is another kind of trial...

This week I had an x-ray physically and emotionally. The view of my shoulder bones indicates calcific tendonitis—finally an explanation for the pain and a possible solution! An unkindness from a volunteer yogi led me to realize (and feel) many things. Then all the other stuff (including a persistently obsessing ego) faded in dukkha dominance.

So I am left with what? Gratitude for the support I received—unknowingly from friends, teachers (see quotes!) and my physical therapist, a true healer. Even if yours truly is headed for more grit, she is buoyed by the loving energy of many.

...What’s being asked of you is to meet all of that inner material from the standpoint of divine being, from the standpoint of eternity - to meet it, to understand it, to resolve it. That may sound quite easy, but when it’s actually happening it’s a little more gritty and real than the description suggests." ~ Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus

And this too is yoga.
Metta, metta metta!

Yoga was created to free people
in all ways—from the limitations
of our minds and bodies,
from teachers, teachings, attachments,
expectations, from dependency
on any person or thing.
It is a personal, private journey to liberation

- Danny Paradise

No matter what spiritual path you’ve walked or what teachings you’ve followed, they must lead you back to no path and no teaching. A true teaching is like a blazing fire that consumes itself. The teaching must not only consume you, but consume itself as well. All must be burned to ash, and then the ash must be burned. Then, and only then, is the Ultimate realized.
~ Adyashanti, The Impact of Awakening

Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared, and your life will have meaning, and your heart will have peace.
- Kent Nerbern, Letters To My Son - (via Lewis Rothlein's Ashtanga led primary class)


Spiritual Maturity

bridge, Lake Junaluska, Waynesville, NC 

At a retreat a few weeks ago, the teacher quoted his teacher: enlightenment is simply being a spiritual adult.

Agree and believe many of us have a mostly unconscious need to find someone or some systematic path to tell us what to do - to be happy, wise, or enlightened. How do I find Truth, God, or—a rose by any other name? 

The Rose Walk, Lake Junaluska

Someone, show me the way, please! In my case, this conditioning probably came straight from my DNA. Raised a Catholic, my mother's ancestors and I were given a clear-cut map of how to get to heaven. When that no longer made sense to me, I was sure the way was as simple as a macrobiotic diet, and then, encounter groups, Zen, and several other paths to get there 

sign, Lake Junaluska

On a very deep, wordless level I believed it had to be through a teacher or system, one that required me to unconsciously or consciously give up responsibility for knowing truth for myself. 

What is a spiritual adult? Wonderful, grounding, and difficult, at the moment. Getting glimpses of what I can only call truth has not been fun, easy, or for that matter—stoppable. Am thinking the so-called "dark night of the soul" is for some of us—a deep sadness and despair at how utterly alone we are after a certain point.** At the same time, and this feels humorous—I have a serious allergy to proclamations, memes, interpretations of how we should behave, and what we need to do in life. Especially in spirituality words can be so far off the mark, and so solid and inadequate as guides to truth that they become impediments to it. (Slap me with a sweaty yoga towel if I ever start spouting advice here!)

So I give up! The things I care about are falling away, and I'm left with...nothing—which is exactly the point, my teacher would say. No one told me it would be so UN-fun. My yoga practice is in shambles from shoulder pain; genuine communications are at a standstill; dear cat Buster died unexpectedly last week; and my brother languishes in hospice. I don't want to do anything, and so many things hurt in so many different ways.

bridge, Lake Junaluska

Oddly, a useful meme/cliché comes to mind, "It's all good."  And I am doing something: observing, letting things be, not running away/running away, and mostly not looking at life through anyone else's (no matter how venerated) truth lens. 

showing up, growing up
amazing grace

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

- William Shakespeare

Rose is a rose is a rose.
- Gertrude Stein

sign, Lake Junaluska
a ritual involving Coca Cola or notice that one's travel plans are affirmed?

sign, Lake Junaluska
Am I there yet?

Please excuse the errors and typos in the original post. Edited  4/17/16 

sweet words from Bob Dylan:

You used to be so amused

At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used

Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse

When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose

You're invisible now, you've got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone



I'm hearing birdsongs these days! Awakening is happening. Thrilled by snowdrops, croci, cardinals, robins, daffodil blades, and swelling buds, am seeing the light of all things change. I know in my head it happens, but it is ever an amazement, a miracle. 

Today is astrally special. The moon is new AND it will eclipse the sun in some parts of the world. Additionally, the equinox, a day made for those who cherish balance and the perfect equality of light and dark, will arrive in 12 days. It's a great time to honor life, which is perhaps what Easter season is supposed to do (with cultural rituals, I must add, that have become so rote, they seem unrelated to the magic of what is actually occurring.) 

So, in the spirit of yin and yang, light and dark—and without judging either to be positive or negative—it is great to be back in North Carolina AND I miss Encinitas, yoga, the weather, and the ocean. These feelings exist without value one way or another. But they do exist!

Something very bright happened recently in the dark hours—a dream in which I remembered another dream. How is this possible? Recalling a previous dream within a new one? The remembering was so powerful when I awoke, it took several minutes to understand that the rediscovered dream (resolution with a long lost friend) had not occurred in "reality."  My awareness shifted with the dawning light: the dream state had facilitated healing, subconsciously unrealized until now. Gratitude for this gift of love and healing.

And is this guy below another dream of light and dark? Coincidentally, he showed up wet and cold at the same time I returned from California. A friend suggested the name "Mao" because his dark "hairline" is reminiscent of Mao Tse Tung's. Chairman Miao? Sweet boy. He could probably rule China. 

Mao, the Adopter. Again. #4. 

Finally, to balance without judgement—the yes and the no, I'm about ready to cut my arm off to spite my shoulder. It is my brand new 7 week old injury! WHEN will this body get back to whatever once was normal? 

All will be well. I know it. Spring and vernal equanimity are coming! 

and this too is yoga



Cosmic Bacteria : Imponderables and Aging

gate gate paragate parasam gate boddhisvaha

It's time for obtuse summaries, fluttery goodbyes, and absurd conclusions. My Encinitas stay is coming to a close.

However before the earthy, the stellar shines; so—macrocosm before microcosm. I read a remarkable article, (Where are all the aliens? ) that examines why we have no evidence other than mathematical probability to prove we are not alone in the universe. I intuitively favor the theory that we have no tools to detect alien communications.

However, mostly the article supported (my) imaginings about our infinitely vast and small universe. Could our mighty sun be a small atom-like particle? Could earth and planet be electrons? And could humans be "quarky" sub-sub-sub-atomic particles composing an immeasurably huge being? Could earth and humans be molecules or bacteria on another life form?  Could large and small be infinite in both directions? Consider this mind boggling piece of information from the article:
....for every star in the colossal Milky Way, there’s a whole galaxy out there. All together, that comes out to the typically quoted range of between 10^22 and 10^24 total stars, which means that for every grain of sand on every beach on earth there are 10,000 stars out there.
In Buddhism, speculating about the truth of the universe is said to lead to madness and is one of the the Four Imponderables. True to the teachings, my puny thoughts try to mentally grasp infinity, but it always ends the same way: I give up. Madness—only if one continues in the loop by trying to "get" it.

Now beaming back to earth and what at times seems like the petty concerns of a bit of bacteria doing yoga and trying to be "happy." And speaking of bacteria, I was invaded by a rhinovirus a few days ago, sabotaging plans for my final days in Southern California. The tone of the week, however, was set by Tim Miller who wrote his birthday (65) blog about aging gracefully. It is one of the very few writings that have resonated with both my winter body and spring mind. (See this wonderful article)

Tim Miller: reflections-on-aging-gracefully.html
The one great gift of the aging practice in regards to asana practice is this: the longer you practice, the better the quality of attention that you bring to the practice. Isn’t this what it’s all about anyway? — Tim Miller
Saw an excellent healer/Japanese-style acupuncturist, Janie (an Ashtangi), twice this week. Among many other things, we talked about aging. Does age make us more prone to injury and slower to heal? Although some generalizations can be made, every body is different. I started this Ashtanga practice comparatively recently—four years ago, so I am going to be different from someone who has been practicing from 10 to 40 years or more. What I am exploring (the hard way, via injury) is what my limits are. And maybe that's the issue for all of us. How hard do we push? When do we need to have compassion for ourselves? I am discovering the line between pushing through and pulling back (without guilt.) Then today I saw this lovely Iyengar quote:

Even as the body ages and is able to do less, there are subtleties that reveal themselves, which would be invisible to younger more athletic bodies. You have to create love and affection for your body for what it can do for you. Love must be incarnated in the smallest pore of the skin, the smallest cell of the body, to make them intelligent so they can collaborate with all the other ones, in the big republic of the body. - BKS Iyengar
And by loving the smallest cells of our bodies are we not simultaneously loving everything else including the largest "cells" of the universe (and all others)?

Tomorrow is a moon day. I plan to take rest and to watch Luna's round luminosity move toward Moonlight Beach.

May all your suns and moons be imponderably perfect.
  And this too is yoga.


(Gone, gone, gone to the Other Shore, attained the Other Shore having never left)



seeing the light (milkweed seed)

a milkweed seed (photo by Jeff Goldberg)

Don't know why I feel light.
My Mysore practice was aborted this morning. It was a mess. Could feel that the SI-femur joint had slipped out again, so back and shoulder movements hurt and had to be restricted.  (Wished for my rubber mallet to bang it back in.)

Why I feel light
Tomorrow I will see chiropractor and get my joints back into gear. Andrew Hillam is sensitive and wise!  His teaching reflects and channels Sharath's compassion and care. My practice feels much improved, and I feel so much better since coming here that I am doing a happy dance/asana!

Don't know why I feel light.
After the dreams and meditation on the irretrievable (1/26/16 post), I was revisited by three separate, painful memories relating to my mother, a friend, and a student—where I was a screen for their projections.
It seems there is a type of wound unique to us as individuals. Perhaps because it is an injury that has recurred for generations or incarnations, it always cuts deep. I met a young woman at Deer Park a few weeks ago who was clearly suffering. The details she shared involved a problem with her boss, resulting in her being fired—though that was not the source of her pain. She was hurt by how her boss had treated and spoken to her. Recognizing the depth and quality of her suffering in myself, I also saw the particulars as unique to her.
When the day's sessions ended, I looked for her, wanting very much to give her a hug and good wishes. Heartache that I was unable to find her. 

Why I feel light.
Like most people, without knowing it, I block emotional hurt. My own revisiting painful episodes was different this time. Observed straight on, it was not pleasant; and while there was a strong (even nauseous) urge to turn away, I was able to allow it to be. Am I healed? Don't know. But like a traveler who has lost her luggage, I am vulnerable, durable, and much much lighter.
Dear Deer Park woman, may your path forever more be filled with love and peace.     
Why I feel light.
It is a glorious day, going to be 78 degrees in Encinitas. The Super Bowl will be on later, so I will have a quiet time beaching at the ocean today. The thought of a vegan meal at Native Foods and talk with friend C makes me smile. 

I feel light.
Also ideas for a new project are floating up—Monarch butterflies and milkweed seeds are filling my brain—with delicate, simple and elegant themes.

Feel light

milkweed seeds fan out
floating light hearted ahead 
emptiness a head
Substitute "life" for "yoga" and "practice":
When we start yoga we experience many things—ups and downs in our practice. If there is pain, enjoy the pain also... Experience both good and bad: take sukkha* and dukkha* equally. —Sharath Jois
**Sanskrit: happiness and suffering  

May all the worlds be free of suffering. 

by Jean Valentine

In blue-green air & water God
you have come back for us,
to our fiberglass boat.

You have come back for us & I’m afraid.
(But you never left.)

Great sadness at harms.
But nothing that comes now, after,
can be like before.

Even when the icebergs are gone, and the millions of suns

have burnt themselves out of your arms,

your arms of burnt air,
you are with us


Dreams Yoga Suffering Art Life Dreams

Encinitas, day 13

I had two dreams last night. One was about losing my bicycle. Realizing that I had probably left it by the fence where I had stopped, I drove miles back to where it was and yes, there it was—my maroon Davidson custom-made road racer,  leaning against a picket fence, lovely in the evening light. I approached it with pleasure and relief, but when I looked up again, it had disappeared. 

Awakened with angst and dismay by the irretrievable, I wondered, what am I afraid of losing in my daily life? Wham! A lot! From very long ago to yesterday. But these past few days—it has been of losing asanas and never getting back to where I was before this injury. 

What are you defending and holding back?

Oh, Ego! I threw you a distraction, a bone—you were supposed to be tamed and under control! 
And you say—"Well, I was fine with doing First Series forever; but then there were these three teachers in one week who said it was 'time.' And after that—there was such pleasure doing new poses well and feelings of success. It's not my fault!"

Ego, you grabbed that bone, ate it, and then became it! Now who are you? 

A sand castle being washed away. 

Experiencing fear and resistance to what is (truth), and I'm suffering—ha! even in my dreams! And what is happening on the mat, is also (always) happening off the mat. The yoga good news is that Andrew Hillam is sensitive and aware (and his Sanskrit chanting is *beautiful*). He has seen my practice at its worst/weakest, so I have absolutely nothing to hide from him or anyone else. It's too soon to say, but it seems I'm shedding some stuff, letting go of a LOT from the past. Noooooooooooooo! (That was the voice of the disappearing castle.)

never getting back to where I was

Also, am meeting some lovely people, ones who understand the underlying truth of yoga, meditators, and others who share from the heart. Today while mailing a letter to my brother, talked to a woman who is a master gardener. She has planted all native Southern California plants in her gorgeous yard and is a birder. So we talked about birds, plants, Asheville, and what to do about those "protesters" in Oregon!

As for art—the other part of my Pacific coast "retreat"—it is always everywhere. Placed three 360 Project bottles, and got two responses, one of which was from a monk at Deer Park. Will share a part of his beautiful essay below. (his entire response and his painting can be seen at: http://www.360circleproject.net/#!circle/tc5rr 
scroll to Bottle #115)

gratitude! metta! 

excerpt from monk:
Aspirations 2015-16 To be the wonder-filled, perfectly flawed little wavicle that I am, and nothing more, nothing less. Trusting as much as trying, being as much as doing, deeply knowing as much as learning. Maybe this is my Job on Spaceship Earth with a capital "J", to carefully and aimlessly relax with one-pointed concentration into being me just me.


Encinitas : Mini Mysore

Which ones of these pictures were taken in or near Mysore, India and which in Encinitas, California?

It's technically a new year, 2016, but EVERY day is a new year! 
May all beings be happy and well.

Leaving for Encinitas soon. Agreed, it's SO not Mysore, but it might be the closest one can get in North America to the spirit of Gokulum. Think—serious yoga, palm trees, great vegetarian food of all kinds, sandal-wearing weather, good people—ocean, orderly traffic, and very expensive—oops! those last three are only Encinitas. And of course, without Sharathji there is no Mysore Magic in Encinitas or anywhere else (humble opinion.)

India or Encinitas? 

Yoga, art making, reading, and lots of silence (won't know anyone) will make a wonderful 6-week retreat. Am picturing self after yoga, at beach reading Rebecca Solnit's "The Faraway Nearby," which I am trying to save, but it's hard to put down. 

And the practice? The back has mostly healed but the practice has suffered. Not to be dramatic - but it pretty much sucks right now. 
This is me doing First Series last week. 

Will see where the renewed practice goes. It can only be up!!

Here's a lovely New Year's wish for all - and especially for my ailing brother and friend Katriel:

May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”