In which it really doesn’t matter where you go, because there you are.

Recently, maybe within the past couple of years, the Inner Guru appeared. Or maybe, to put it another way, I became capable of delving into mySelf enough to hear what the seers tell us has always been there. Or by the Guru’s grace — certainly not through my own merit or work — I’ve gotten enough dust off the mirror.

I have no idea how this came to be, but there it is. I can’t even describe my wonder and gratitude nor how utterly close and familiar the Inner Guru is. It sounds exactly like my own thoughts, it just knows shit I don’t, and regularly, if I’m sincere about wanting to know, dumps very large, entire concepts into my skull too subtle to be codified in language. I’ll just be riding my bike with questions about how and why and what for, and BOOM, there it is: I now know something I didn’t a moment before. It’s heart-breakingly loving and sweet and awe-inspiring and miraculous, and other times I forget completely about it. Because I’m human. Which is to say, my ego is still ascendant enough to make it impossible to sustain the wonder that will eventually destroy it.

I work retail in a gigantic industrial building with concrete floors and beeping forklifts and cutting equipment and horrible lighting and multiple incoming lines that ring incessantly. It’s a mile away from my apartment, over a giant interstate overpass not really designed with pedestrians in mind, and I often have to walk both to and from work, as well as untold miles inside the building each shift. I’m in my mid-40′s and my feet never stop hurting and don’t seem at all inclined to acclimate to my non-desk status. My bicycle has a flat tire and I don’t have access to a compressor — well, I do if you count that gas station a mile away in the opposite direction, but I’m not inclined to walk the thing that far to fill it up only to discover it’s a fast leak.

Anyway, I’m being scheduled more hours than I want and my feet hurt and the roads are scary and indelicate and the job is loud and indelicate and I’m exhausted all the time and my brain is buffeted with noise and the ugliness of modern American values and my ego is all up in this trip about how much I’m suffering and how I’m not comfortable and not getting what I want but truth be told I actually like the job when I’m doing it and a lot of the people seem really great and there’s climate control and anyway you have to do something and I’m working on my humility and getting to serve and I’m trudging my tired aching body down these sidewalks on my way to a job I don’t want to go to that’s just going to make me more sore and more tired and more wiped out from the sheer volume of input and I’m spinning around and around in my head just trying to solve this whole suffering thing because it’s not lost on me that these are truly first world goddamned problems and finally about halfway across the overpass in the hot sunshine and choking exhaust I just give up and ask, “How the fuck do I feel better? What do I do?”

And the Beloved within promptly replies with, “Sit here [and on "here" there's the indication of the heart center], and let the organs of perception and action operate themselves.”

Sit in the heart and witness. Let perception and action do themselves. There are, after all, entire laws of nature that define their behaviors. You are not them. They are not you. Let them do what they do. Understand?

Well, yeah. I do. Sort of. I do know that. Or I know about that, which is not the same thing, of course. I’ve read the Gita dozens of times, in as many different translations. But I still don’t know what the fuck the three gunas really are. Or what my dharma is. I mean, lower-middle-class white chick who drinks and sleeps a lot can’t be Dharma, can it? Even in Kali yuga it seems unlikely.

And so I’ve been trying to do that for a couple of weeks now. Trying and trying. Trying to figure out how replicate that spacious, contented silence I experience around Amma, thinking a lot about dispassion and what it really means, trying to quit bitching at my boyfriend about my feet and my fatigue and irritation at being scheduled 35 rather than 20 hours a week (because I really do believe you should treat your lover better than the strangers that are your customers and coworkers), trying to step back from my identification with and habit of having preferences that are, essentially, random and irrational. Doing japa and trying to serve and trying, just trying. And suffering at the jitteryness of it, like a radio station out of range, at my inability to not feel so sorry for myself.

Remember Ram Dass? That book Be Here Now? I bought a used copy at Powell’s Books when I was in my early 20′s. It was even signed. I enjoyed reading it, and kept it for a really long time because I thought it brought me some kind of importance, having a signed copy of Be Here Now, for fuck’s sake, but really my main takeaway from it then was that drugs are okay and you need a guru but you’re not cool enough to, like, go to India and find one, because you’re provincial and you didn’t go to Harvard like all these LSD trippin’ Western devotees. I have no idea what I might take away from it if I were to re-read it now, beyond nodding energetically at the part where he says the guru comes when the devotee is ready. Hell, I’ve still never gotten to India, but Mother came to me.

Well, Ram Dass is still writing and still pointing the way, even after a stroke. I bought Polishing The Mirror and read it and the advice to just sink into Self, to just keep gently coming back when you lose your shit, reminded me of something really important. Mainly that YOU ARE NOT DOING WELL, LITTLE SEEKER, WHEN YOU ALLOW YOUR EGO TO CONGRATULATE YOU FOR STOICALLY ENDURING YOUR SUFFERING. You’re not purifying, you’re not burning karma, you’re just feeling smug that you have decided — because that’s what happened, you decided — you’re miserable and you’re not bitching about it. Is this really a good use of time? Of your life?

And today I had to get up earlier than I wanted to, and when that irritation started I just sank below it, didn’t judge it, just sat in my heart and let it be. And my feet still fucking HURT but instead of thinking “my feet hurt” I just observed that there was pain and that it was okay and I didn’t have to engage my ego in having preferences about it, I just let it be what it was. And I kept gently returning to the heart while doing my morning stuff of coffee and eggs, and didn’t get involved with the whole OH MAN I REALLY DON’T WANT TO GO TO WORK AND I’M TIRED AND MY FEET HURT AND I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME THAT I CAN’T GET A JOB MORE FITTING FOR A 45-YEAR OLD TECH WORKER, even though I certainly tried to get involved, oh fuck yes I did, habits die hard, and I sat in the heart while walking to work and didn’t do the martyr thing (much), and the weather was gorgeous and I nearly got lost in the flowers I don’t think I’ve ever even seen before in front of that giant Alianz building even though I’ve walked down that long block dozens of times. And at work I tried to see the souls inside the humans I interacted with rather than the meat.

And it was much less tiring. I mean, my hips and feet still hurt, but I’m just letting that exist rather than investing in it. It just is. And I came home and took a nap. And I have the next two days off to be quiet and NOT WALK TEN MILES IN SIX HOURS. And I had a few moments of really deep light and love, just walking around in the biggest of the big box stores doing my little job/doing my little practice/being here now/sitting in my heart, witnessing, letting the organs of perception and action operate themselves.

I mean, it’s not continuous, but it turns out you don’t try to do it, you just Yoda that shit. When you realize you’ve stood up, SIT BACK DOWN. IN THE HEART. That’s it. No judgement.

There are some great meditations in the book. There’s an expansive meditation that’s really great (reminds me in part of the original IAM technique), and the one on the breath I’m doing like japa, of course, because I rarely ever formally sit for meditation but tend to just do the techniques that attract me while engaged in activity, which Ram Dass actually discusses — maybe some of us just are spiritual debutantes by nature. I mean, it’s never been lost on me that it’s better to dig one deep well to get the water rather than a hundred shallow ditches, but I’ve never been able to want regular formal practice even though I would self-describe with utter sincerity myself as having been applying practices in earnest in non-formal ways at least since I meet Mother, if not long before (albeit in stumbling, sophomoric ways). I even ask Mother every year to help me keep a formal practice, and the desire just doesn’t arise.

But years ago I prayed to always be reminded to do japa, and my prayer was answered. There were many, many little nudges to do japa. Now it goes on by itself half the time I’m awake. It’s often going when I drift off or wake up. I also have a little thing I do to sort of… wipe thoughts away, but I don’t know how to describe it. It just occurred to me at Amma a couple of years ago, and when the mind-thing is just freaking out and chattering and not being at all useful I can wipe it clean. It’s often only for a split second, but that’s better than nothing. Especially when your head’s being a jerk.

And now I’m going to go drink wine and read period romances. Because I’m human. A human being, and a human doing. Dying the cloth, dying the cloth.

Om Namah Shivaya.


UPDATE: Here’s something I found today on meditation, and maybe it’s not always sitting with the eyes closed and the spine straight:

On God

October 21st, 2012 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Spiritual - (3 Comments)

In which there are quotes from some favorite non-fiction in my library.

The truth is that we are all inclined to flatter ourselves – despite our daily experience to the contrary – that we spend our time thinking logical, consecutive thoughts. In fact, most of us do no such thing. Consecutive thought about any one problem occupies a very small proportion of our waking hours. More usually, we are in a state of reverie — a mental fog of disconnected sense-impressions, irrelevant memories, nonsensical scraps of sentences from books and newspapers, little darting fears and resentments, physical sensations of discomfort, excitement or ease.

The mind seems to be intelligent and conscious. Yoga philosophy teaches that it is not. It has only a borrowed intelligence. The Atman is intelligence itself, is pure consciousness. The mind merely reflects that consciousness and so appears to be conscious.

The external world, even in its most beautiful appearances and noblest manifestations, is still superficial and transient. It is not the basic Reality. We must look through it, not at it, in order to see the Atman.

PatanjaliHow to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali
by Swami Prabhavananda, Christopher Isherwood, Patanjali

 
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Freedom.

August 16th, 2012 | Posted by Mush in Spiritual - (0 Comments)

What is wanted is deep inner life.

Silence the bubbling thoughts. Keep the mind cool and calm. Open yourself to higher spiritual consciousness. Feel the Divine Presence and Divine Guidance. Fix your mind at the lotus feet of the Lord. Become like a child. Speak to Him freely. Become absolutely candid, do not hide your thoughts. You cannot do so, because He is the Antaryamin (inner ruler). He watches all your thoughts. Pray for mercy, light, purity, strength, peace and knowledge. You will surely get them. You will be established in Brahmacharya.”

- Practical Lessons in Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed. I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room. The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love. My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.”

-Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

Slowly blossomed, slowly ripened in Siddhartha the realisation, the knowledge, what wisdom actually was, what the goal of his long search was. It was nothing but a readiness of the soul, an ability, a secret art, to think every moment, while living his life, the thought of oneness, to be able to feel and inhale the oneness.”

- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

In which I’m finally rid of my married name!

I decided recently to get a passport. No real reason. I don’t have any travel plans, but one never knows — and I have the money just now so what the hell. Maybe I’ll get to India before I’m 50.

passportToday I went to my second appointment with the passport lady at the post office, and I gave her a bunch of paperwork and money and she made me re-do my work about three times, which is impressive considering it’s only a two-page freakin’ application and I’d already done it twice and I have a reasonably high IQ.

Halfway through the procedure, the passport lady decided they’d probably reject my application because the name on my driver license did not match the name on my divorce papers well enough. She suggested I go update my driver licence. And could I maybe possibly do it, like, right now, since she’d already put my passport application on her transmittal and she had no idea how to remove it and the paperwork has to go today?

A driver license. Before three o’clock today? Sure. What the hell. I’ll try.

So off I went to the DMV on my bike during my lunch hour. (It’s all downhill, so the ride out there was pretty okay.) I walked in the door and I kid you not: there was no line! None! Talk about support of nature: I got help immediately, which has literally NEVER HAPPENED IN THE HISTORY OF THE DMV. The mild glitches (they had to delete an old expired license from the last time I lived in Washington, plus I very nearly flunked the vision test) were neatly handled. (Note to self: get new contacts.) Less than an hour later, with my name all changed and a new temporary driver licence in my purse, I rode back to the post office. (It was all uphill.) I stopped at Taco Bell, about halfway, for a tostada because I was hungry. (Did I mention it’s all uphill?)

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Amma’s 2012 Yatra

April 14th, 2012 | Posted by Mush in Spiritual - (2 Comments)

In which I don’t know where to see Mother this year.

The US Tour schedule just came out, and wouldn’t you know that a friend is getting married during the Seattle dates and I’ve already committed to singing at her ceremony?

Meaning, of course, that if I see Mother in Seattle, I’ll have to leave the program early to be back in time. Lame. Might as well see Her somewhere else!

Chicago? Emailed NLW to see if she’s going; if she says yes, I’ll blow my tax return on airfare. If no, I’ll probably go to the San Ramon ashram programs since I’ve never seen Her there. The DC or New York programs are also possible, but while I do know people both places I don’t think I know any devotees.

(I haven’t even begun to plan my travel but I’m already dreading the results of being out of the office for more than six hours. Being the only person in your department is kind of stressful.)

Last year I had ‘get divorced’ and ‘obtain passport’ on my post-seeing-Amma to do list. I’ll have both handled by the time I see Mother again. We’ll just have to wait and see if I feel compelled to ask Her whether I should go to India/do ashram life for awhile or stay here and wait until G’ma actually needs me. I’m really not doing anything useful with my life, ultimately, and hello: I’m alive during the embodiment of an Incarnation. Why am I settling for seeing such a being once a year? What the hell am I doing, not fighting tooth and nail to be near Her all the time? The odds of there being an Avatar in my next life are low, low, low. Every second you give away you never get back.

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In which I fly! To Seattle! On a plane!

Last week I went to Seattle to see my beloved Satguru, Amma, properly known as Sri Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

While I was there I enjoyed a lovely retreat, learned a new meditation technique, suffered a vicious spring cold, had a series of trippy spiritual revelations, and ate a lot of refined carbohydrates.

My friend Toni was slated to go with me and drive us to Seattle, but for some reason I kept blowing off making our reservations for the retreat and the hotel. Two weeks before Amma’s visit, she called to say that had to have a minor surgery that week and wouldn’t be able to go. Suddenly we not only didn’t have reservations, but I didn’t have transportation either.

And then things got awesome. (more…)

In which I’m kinda busy!

Last weekend, I had a total blast at Sunbanks (a blues festival near Grand Coulee). Coyote Kings and I played the 2:30 slot on Saturday, and we had an encore and everything! It was freakin’ awesome! The crowd was amazing.

Coyote Kings with Mush Morgan

Then we stayed for another 24 hours and talked to musicians and drank campers’ cocktails and in general had an absolutely fun time! Here’s the photoset.

Tomorrow, I’m flying to Seattle to see Amma. I’ll be home next Tuesday. Om namah Shivaya!

Since there are only two weeks of the term left, I need to be busting ass to make up for the homework I didn’t do last week and won’t do next week. I also need to do laundry and pack. So if you’ll excuse me?

Amma on meditation.

March 4th, 2011 | Posted by administratrix in Spiritual - (2 Comments)

In which I’ve read this passage before, but this time it seemed to be exactly the advice I needed.

“Don’t try to still your mind by force when you sit for meditation. The thoughts will rise up with ten times their original force if you do that. It is like pressing down a spring. Try to find out where the thoughts arise from, and control them with that knowledge. Don’t place the mind in any kind of tension. If any part of your body is tense or feels any pain, the mind will linger on that. Relax every part of the body and watch your thoughts with absolute awareness. Then the mind will subside by itself.

“Don’t follow your thoughts. If you follow them, only your body will be here; your mind will be somewhere else.”

- Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, Upadeshamritam Vol. 1

(Emphasis mine.)

In which I got up early… and it was actually a pleasant experience!

I got laid off a year ago yesterday.

Since then, I looked for work for six months and had a total of two responses, and then I applied for and returned to school but my classes are 85% online. I have an on-again/off-again contracting gig for a friend in California, but it’s also online. Other than the occasional gig, running into G’ma in the kitchen, and the nights I go out to bars (something I’d like to do less of, really), I’m very much isolated. (more…)

Guru Purnima

July 26th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Spiritual - (0 Comments)

In which yesterday was guru purnima. (I celebrated with a Lalita Sahasranama and some midnight meditation under the full moon.)

“The great Adi Shankara (the first Shankaracharya) of the 8th century summarized the entirety of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualistic philosophy) in six stanzas. When a young boy of eight, wandering in the Himalayas seeking to find his guru, he encountered a sage who asked him, “Who are you?” The boy answered with these stanzas, which are known as “Nirvana Shatakam” or “Atma Shatakam.” (‘Nirvana’ is complete equanimity, peace, tranquility, freedom and joy. ‘Atma’ is the Supreme Being, the true self.) The sage the boy was talking to was Swami Govindapada Acharya, who was, indeed, the teacher he was looking for.”

NIRVANA SHATAKAM

Mano-budhy-ahankara cittani naham
na ca srotra-jihve na ca ghrana netre
Na ca vyoma bhumim na tejo na vayuh
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I am neither the mind, nor the intellect, nor the ego, nor the mind stuff. I am neither the body, nor the changes of the body. I am neither the senses of hearing, taste, smell or sight. Nor am I either the earth, the fire, the air. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

Na ca prana samnjo na vai pancavayur
na va sapta-dhatur na va panca-kosah
Na vak-pani-padam na copastha-payu
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I am neither the Prana, nor the five vital airs. I am neither the materials of the body, nor the five sheaths. Neither am I the organs of action nor objects of the senses. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

Na me dvesa ragau na me lobha mohau
mado naiva me naiva matsaryabhavah
Na dharmo na cartho na kamo na moksah
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I have neither aversion nor attachment, neither greed nor delusion, neither egotism nor envy. Neither Dharma nor Moksha. I have neither desire nor object of desire. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

Na punyam na papam na saukhyam na dukham
na mantro na tirtham na veda na yajna
Aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I am neither sin nor virtue, neither pleasure nor pain, nor temple, nor worship, nor pilgrimage, nor scriptures. And I am neither the act of enjoying, the enjoyable nor the enjoyer. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

Na mrtyur na sanka na me jati bhedah
pita naiva me naiva mata na janma
Na bandhur na mitram gurur naiva sisya
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I have neither death, nor fear of death, nor caste. Nor was I ever born, nor had I parents, friends and relations. I have neither Guru nor disciple. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

Aham nirvikalpo nirakara rupo
vibhutvacca sarvatra sarvendriyanam
Na ca sangatam naiva muktir na meya
Cidananda rupah sivoham sivoham

I am untouched by the senses. I am neither Mukti nor knowable, I am without form, without limit, beyond space, beyond time. I am in everything, I am the basis of the universe, everywhere am I. I am existence absolute, knowledge absolute, bliss absolute. I am He, I am He.

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA