God in the Heart

When I was a child, I felt God in my heart all the time.  My earliest memories are of this energy in my heart, this spinning, whirling love that “looked” to me like sparkling electric green-blue and white light.  I always knew this energy was God.  I never doubted or questioned it at all.

I can hardly even imagine what it would be like to be this sensitive young woman from yesterday’s blog entry, praying and praying but feeling nothing and then suddenly, at the age of 22, awakening with such force to the interconnectedness of everything.  What a shock to the system to suddenly feel alive, to suddenly feel connected to Life, to all of Life.

For me it was a shock to suddenly feel dead.  I remember being about nineteen when it happened.  There had been trauma, oh, lots of trauma, but what I did to myself was the last straw.  The cocaine was the last straw.  One day I woke up and that place in my heart was simply dead.  It was as if it was frozen, ice ice cold.

In an interview with a man named Peter Miller who is doing an extensive research project on the shamanic qualities of plants, I described this experience as having appropriated the power of the spirit of cocaine as my own because I felt so powerless, had lost so much of my own power to the relentlessly abusive and psychologically violent patterns of my family of origin.  The Cocaine Daemon, filled that empty place inside me and gave me the illusion that I was empowered.  But actually, it was sucking my Qi, my fundamental life force energy, right out of me.

I had attempted to appropriate it, and it was appropriating me right back.

If there can be such a thing, I was a fortunate addict.  ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’ published an article on Cocaine Addiction in 1983 and I checked off all the signs and symptoms of withdrawal.  A little switch went click in my head and I knew, just “saw” that my body was having a chemical reaction to the cocaine which was creating the addiction. I realized that if I continued putting cocaine into my body, that same series of chemical reactions would keep occurring.  So I stopped.  Right then and there.  I never did another line again.

Well, I did get my nose repaired a few years later and the standard anesthesiology for rhinoplasty is liquid pharmaceutical cocaine, but after the surgery, I breathed through the cravings.  I did not relapse.

There never was NA or AA for me.  Not that I was rebellious, just that I didn’t know the options existed and the shame was so terrible, at having hurt myself so deeply, that I confided in no one what I was going through.

Yes, I was really one of the lucky ones.

It took almost ten years before the craving stopped, and for another five years I would still periodically dream I was snorting lines and wake up terrified, shaking myself out of sleep into the deep relief of my clean life.  I did all the right things– I cut all my ties with anyone and everyone from that world; I turned to exercise, meditation and daily spiritual practice and developed a better diet; I tried to really process every single feeling I was feeling, leave no stone unturned and cry a lot, more than most modern, industrialized humans.  I really really cried a lot.  And as much as possible I did not criticize myself for crying, or for feeling anything.  Gradually, I even learned to set boundaries with my family and say “No.” to cruelty and meanness, not with a rising battle of well-I’ll-show you, but with a bow and a “No thank you, please.”  Gradually  I relearned that incredible gift I was born with– loving kindness– and in relearning it, I learned also to protect it this time, and never ever to take it for granted.

Yes, I am definitely one of the lucky ones.

By the time I heard about 12-Step groups, I had been clean so long it really seemed moot.  Instead, still struggling with family issues, I attended Al-Anon for several years. That was incredibly helpful.

Years later, I ran an addiction recovery program in the Lowell Prison.  It was my 12th Step work.  I was very very good at it.  The women in that program helped me to heal my shame, to forgive myself, finally, for everything I had done to myself. They helped me to see myself in each of them, in their terrible stories, in their loneliness and desperation and deep sense of powerlessness.  Together we survived all of our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, processed the collective ignorance, cruelty and selfishness of humanity, and helped one another to heal and to love.

I didn’t exactly follow the NA guidelines.  After all, I didn’t really know them.  But that wasn’t my job:  my job was to be helpful.  So I taught awareness.  And it helped.  It helped all of us.

And that feeling of God in my heart, of God being alive within my own heart, that eventually, after 17 years or so, came back home to me, and now, after almost 28 years clean, has continued to grow stronger and deeper.  There is not a single day that I do not feel grateful for simply being and for being able to love.

Sometimes people find me strange– I am so grateful, so appreciative, so deeply aware of how precious life is and how easily it can be taken from us.  Gone, gone in a moment, vanished.  Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable to be around me.

Sometimes they leave.  Sometimes they stay.  I go on loving them anyway.  Just as life goes on being precious– whether we dare to truly feel that or not.

in Loving Kindness,

Murshida VA

——

To participate in Peter Miller’s research project, take the online survey at: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/era/PsychoPlants/

Addiction and the Quest for God

Addiction, a brief definition from the clinical worldA beautiful young man, after Zikr last night, shared his struggles and challenges in finding compassion for a family member caught in the throws of addiction.  He felt it was so difficult to comprehend why any person would be caught in such a trajectory of self-annihilation.  But an addict is an amazing being– someone who is willing to annihilate themselves, even for the momentary illusion of being more alive, someone seeking life more passionately than many of the successful, careful and properly behaved among us may ever know.

Perhaps that is why, in 1968, God told Murshid Samuel Lewis, “Teach the Hippies.”  Perhaps God looked with great appreciation upon those reckless young people who were throwing themselves over and over at the jaws of death in hopes of a glimpse of Truth, a sweet taste of the Infinite.

It is so easy to turn away from suffering.  Addicts walk the edge, but how insane are those of us who feel that if we do not look at the suffering in the world, it will pass us by?  Do we honestly believe that by dissociating ourselves from that which is too painful to see, we will insure our safety from pain as if God were an insurance salesman and our willful blindness was a signature on His contract?

Oh, and then there are the  Fixers.   Not the healers, healers are of another ilk, but the Fixers– those of us who believe we have all the solutions, and by following the appropriate rules, all problems will be solved.  What a comforting offer! It’s so seductive, so seductive.  Here is the attraction and beauty of religious Fundamentalism at it’s core:  follow the rule book and we will be spared all pain… or at least whatever inexplicable pain we are subject to endure in this life will be explained or rewarded the next.

What addiction is the obsessive attachment to the belief that if we just find the right rule book and follow it exactly, that we will finally be saved, blessed, free of pain?  What a dark road it leads us down, over and over again, into Holy Wars and hell on Earth and yet we persist.  What ‘loss of control in limiting intake” is that?

And Fundamentalism isn’t limited to the spiritual realms.  There are Material Fundamentalists, even Atheist Fundamentalists.  For when we cry  “Give me rational proof or give me death!”  we are no different than those who cry, “Give me my God my way or give me death!”.  In these cries, we are still courting death to preserve our precious attachment to the righteousness of our points of view.  How precious is it to simply question?  To possibly not know?  To be willing to consider?  To be willing to examine the possibilities?

What if Heaven and Hell as places of reward and punishment don’t exist?  What if they are here, right now, here with us, in our minds, our points of view, our beliefs and concepts?  What if we truly have the power to bring Heaven to the Earth, or Earth toward Heaven, just by altering the condition of the human heart?  What if the addict’s painful and often horrible descent into personal hell is just the result of throwing herself into God without any flying lessons ? What if the horrible face that stares back at the addict from his mirror each day is a face humanity needs to recognize as part of itself every bit as much as humanity needs to recognize the Saints and the Prophets?  What if  “There but for the Grace of God go I” is a lie because all of us are everyone and none of us is truly free until we can accept fully and completely both the beauty and the capacity for utter devastation within us?

After all, we would not expect a child to excel at any academic discipline without recognizing and training his or her capacities, so why would we think we can fully attain our potential as a humanity or  realize, as a humanity, any real self- responsibility at all by persisting in denying the darkness within us.

Perhaps the addicts among us are actually Saints, sacrificing themselves so that we can finally see who and what we truly are.  Ask any addict in recovery and he will tell you– no matter what horrible things he did and how many people he hurt, the person who was hurt most by his addiction was the addict himself.

Notes:

On the clinical view of Addiction–

http://www.nida.nih.gov/pubs/teaching/teaching2/Teaching3.html

On Murshid Samuel Lewis (Murshid SAM)–

http://www.marinsufis.com/murshid.php

http://www.gnostic.org/murshidsam/forward.htm

Revitalising Tantra: I

“The basic principle of Tantrism was that women possess a more unbounded spiritual energy than men, and a man could achieve realization of the divinity only through sexual and emotional union with a woman. A fundamental rite was controlled sexual intercourse, maithuna. This requires reservation to the extent that control over male ejaculation must be good enough for the female to fully enter her own sexual ecstasy without the male precipitously bringing the intimate union to a false climax. Tantra is in essence, a fertility rite…  (www.dhushara.com.  See clipmarks  in references, below).

Sex, hopefully, will never go out of style. But what about the Yoga of Sex? What about Sex Magick? What about Tantra?

Last October, I was in Los Angeles at a business meeting with two executives from Topco, one of the largest sex toy manufacturers in the world. We spent a good portion of the meeting discussing the effects of over-commercialization on Tantra. Basically, Tantra is now deemed to be unmarketable by the “Adult Industry”. Consumers have become numb. The word, ‘Tantra’ has lost it’s mystery and appeal. Why? Largely because such a wide array of sexual products and experiences have been marketed as “Tantric” that consumers no longer view Tantra as holding any power. Basically, the public magnetism of the word is shot.
Kali and Shiva, the Divine Lovers. (Kali is the one on top, with the sword).
Kali and Shiva, the Divine Lovers. (Kali is the one on top, with the sword).

This is particularly ironic if one considers the history and practice of Tantra as a Path. Tantra, the inclusive, Left-Handed path celebrating the Divine Lovers as Kali (often as Shakti) and Shiva, genuinely seeks to increase the magnetism of ordinary human sexual experience, and indeed the magnetism all of human experience, until the practitioner becomes exquisitely and totally alive, and every cell of the organism awakens toward Enlightenment.

Tantric Mastery is quite the opposite of numbness. So how has Tantra become synonymous with numbness in the Adult Industry? The answer is simple: whatever was being hocked at the market, it never was Tantra.

Tantra, Sex Magick, Sexual Shamanism, and all mystical practices associated with human sexuality, regardless of the names humans give them, are part of the deepest mysteries of the Spiritual Path. As such, they can never be marketed, actually, because, by definition, the mysteries are only available to the deserving few… those who respect the Source and who have attained sufficient Mastery over themselves to engage in the practice.  So what happens when a major sex toy retailer tries to market a deep mystery?  What is marketed is not the mystery, but only the inference that the mystery exists and the implication that by purchasing such-and-such toy (or book or tape) one may actually stumble onto the mysteries of the ages.

Just remove the sex from this idea and the wide-spread American obsession with reducing  anything, anything, really, into a quantifiable entity-which-can-therefore-be-commercially-reproduced-in-adequately-large-quantities-so-as-to-be-sufficiently-lucrative-to-warrant-distribution-for-sale rears its oh-so-common head.  We truly believe we can buy anything in this country.  So, maybe having less expendable cash will make us more deeply consider all the aspects of life which are not for sale, can never be for sale and are more precious than any price.  This consideration could bring our entire nation closer to the real message of Tantra than any amount of commercialization.  It could.  It might.  It also might take a while.

So, in the meantime, go ahead, take your hubby to Tantra Tai Chi  workshops– Dianna and Richard are wonderful, and Dianna will be the first to admit, she actually knows nothing about Tantra. She is simply trying to help people deal with their sexual energy. Is there anything wrong with this? Oh, no, not at all. In fact, if you can’t move through the wounds and blocks in your first two chakras you are never going to get to your heart, not really, and you certainly aren’t going to get the whole system hooked up and balanced.

So read David Deida– great guy, makes no claims, writes wonderful books .   Study Margot Anand– The Art of Sexual Ecstasy is, after all, one of the greatest books on sex ever written. Explore any and all workshops available, but don’t for a moment think anyone who calls themselves a Master in public knows anything, really. Some might, but for most Americans, Tantra is just a word.

It means, hopefully, better sex. And nothing is wrong with that at all. The fact that people have been seeking more fulfilling sexual experiences is wonderful. Healing will come of it… Oh, pun intended, of course.

But the Path called Tantra, while it is rooted in the realization that everything in manifest existence is one exquisite sexual dance,  is at the same time about much more than sex.  It is a devotion to the most radical journey toward Enlightenment available to human beings. It is swift, and it is dangerous. And the real Tantra, well, it’s simply not commonly available. No matter how publicized or tired the word becomes. You won’t find it at your local bookstores on the bestseller lists. And it is definitively not for everyone.

As to whether or not Tantra is actually a fertility right… that is an inquiry for another day.


References:

David Deida’s wonderful books- http://www.amazon.com/Way-Superior-Man-David-Deida/dp/1591792576/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251407034&sr=1-1)

Dianna and Richard Daffner and the Tantra Tai Chi Workshops– http://tantrataichi.com

Margot Anand’s brilliant book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasyhttp://www.amazon.com/Art-Sexual-Ecstasy-Sexuality-Western/dp/0874775817/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251406980&sr=8-1

clipped from www.dhushara.com
The basic principle of Tantrism was that women possess a more unbounded spiritual energy than men, and a man could achieve realization of the divinity only through sexual and emotional union with a woman. A fundamental rite was controlled sexual intercourse, maithuna. This requires reservation to the extent that control over male ejaculation must be good enough for the female to fully enter her own sexual ecstasy without the male precipitously bringing the intimate union to a false climax. Tantra in its essence is a fertility rite in which there is a complete consummation of the female and male sexual energies and thus must centrally also involve male fertilization of the female.
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Lotus Impressions

Om Mani Padme HumSo many readers have commented on the connection between the muck and the Lotus, that it seemed only apt to devote an entry to the Lotus and the proverbial jewel within Her.  Om mani padme hum.  The jewel, resting within the thousand-petaled lotus which blooms within the awakened heart.  Omg,  mani padme hum.  The lingam resting within the yoni.  Om mani padme hum.  The most exquisite lotus blooming pure from the filthiest, muddy waters, and humanity arising, finally and pure, from the muck of the collective psyche of impressions,  separating us from the knowledge of who and what we truly are.

Listen, the Lotus does not arise exquisite despite of the filth of the mud, the Lotus arises exquisite because of it.  Listen, the Lotus does not arise exquisite despite of the filth of the mud, the Lotus arises exquisite because of it.  Listen

All existence is a mirror of the Divine Creative Intelligence of the Infinite.  Born into form through the gates of the Divine Mother, the Manifestation delights in its own existence and the Manifestation delights the Infinite.  We are the Manifestation.  We are, each of us, an embodiment of the Divine.  And Divine, when the Doorway of the Heart opens, it is the Infinite which awakens within us.

The Embodiment of Compassion, Tibetan Diety of Om Mani Padme Hum

References:

To learn more about Om Mani Padme Hum–

A general introduction is acquired here– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum

From the Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile.  That’s right, it doesn’t get more official than this– http://www.tibet.com/Buddhism/om-mantra.html

http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/mani-graphics.htm

Basics information, straightforward and easy to grasp– http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm

On Unveiling the Mother

Black Kali
Black Kali

There is an amazing muck storm which arises when the Mother comes out from behind Her veil. 

 
Every place we feel tender, broken, inadequate, phony, false or small… it all seems magnified.  The less mature of us lose control of our emotions, fly into rage or curl up around fear.  The more mature pause to reflect on the morass within, knowing that whatever we witness in the outer world, it is only a mirror of ourselves.   

And then, of course, there is the political (or trans-personal) aspect of the Shadow:  six thousand years of oppression, torture, rape, mutilation, imprisonment, stoning, burning, crucifixion.  Those terrors can also arise suddenly.  And one can be on either side of the equation, or both sides at once, and still be completely overwhelmed by the force of the inner darkness of humanity.

All of this arises when the Mother takes off Her veil. 

And although it may seem a great rock has moved away to expose an unimaginable host of creepy crawlies to the sun, Kali’s darkness is the birthplace of wisdom, the seed bed of belonging and the key to who and what we really are. 

For it is simply true:  we cannot know ourselves, as individuals or as a humanity, until we face, with utter fearlessness and relentless compassion, all of the darkness within us.  From pathetic neurosis and petty selfishness to obession and paranoia to sadistic violence and consciously perpetuated evil, the entire spectrum of darkness is us.  It is us. 

Just as the magnificence and the and beauty is us.  It is all us. 

This is what it means to love ourselves completely.  This is the path to wholeness. 

What She represents for humanity, as a archetype, what She holds, is the opening through which we come into being and the accomodation through which we are empowered to shine the light of awareness upon ourselves, knowing all of what we are as utterly and completely loved, accepted and forgiven.

And perhaps, one  day, when we have embodied Her teaching, there will be no more need for the outcasts, no more need for the outliers in either direction, no more need for criminals or Saints, for we will finally know, into the marrow of our bones, that the entire spectrum of experience is simply…  human.

—-

Traditional Kali Ma retrieved from http://thealmightydonjai.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/kali-ma/  Thank you!