Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Plant/Animal/Spirit---I Am

What’s going on? Open your mind! Be child-like!

One of my most treasured spiritual books is Suzuki Roshi’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” It has inspired millions, and truly is one of my go-to references about establishing the connection between our individual (smaller) self and universal (Higher) Self. In Roshi’s landmark book, which I try to re-read as often as I can (as well as the classic, Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha”) I’m forever reminded to keep things fresh. To approach learning, especially about higher-consciousness, as if we are a beginner, each and every time we sit for meditation. What exactly does this mean, to be a beginner?

In today’s divided world especially, people are sure about how they feel. Whether the topic is politics or environment, or religious or spiritual, people are sure they are on the side of right and others who don’t speak the same doctrine are on the side of wrong. Sound familiar? I guess another way of saying “be a beginner” always, is to check to make sure you have an open mind and an open heart, always.

In my mixed-bag circle I hear some pretty strong stuff, and tend to overlook people’s hardcore emotionalism as a need to vent. I give plenty of leeway to those who have such strong opinions that their voices raise and their eyes widen. I watch these symptoms as indicators. Of what? That the person before me is closed to any discussion other than pats on their back that they’re right, right, right.

Sure, lots of people are in distress about the state of the world. When I was younger I even left America because I was so unforgiving about the Vietnam war, and didn’t return for a full decade. Today however, I am grateful to call the USA my home country. Even though it’s in a time of tumultuous cross-fires, this is the greatest country I’ve ever known, and I’ve traveled around lots. So bear with me as I share, from experience, how I learned that being set in my opinions only got me in deeper waters, than even the longstanding wars America fights in far off countries.

Baby Steps fisher

from one continent to the next … stretch out … learn from others …

Put aside your need “to be right” for just a moment and try following my thinking about how the need to be open is a spiritual practice. And how approaching things from a fresh, new angle (whether practicing a yoga pose or determining how bad things are in the public arena), sharing Roshi’s viewpoint on “Beginner’s Mind” just might add some bright sunshine on anyone’s dark and gloomy spots.

When Roshi wrote his book waaaay back in the sixties, he was mostly referring to the Zen Buddhist “art of meditation” when he spoke of having a Beginner’s Mind. I love his use of a waterfall to demonstrate the meaning of universal consciousness (the Self, Divine Mind, “God”) the continuous contacting of which is the supreme aim of practicing meditation. I’m going to paraphrase Roshi’s imagery here, but if anyone wants a real treat, I urge you to read the entire book for yourself.

The waterfall is Roshi’s metaphor for how our singular mind is connected to the infinite vastness, the ineffable Mystery of nothing less than — cosmic consciousness. Or Higher Power, or God, if you want to keep it simple. Although Zen Buddhists such as Suzuki Roshi never use the “G” word. And really, that’s a good idea in speaking of spiritual matters because that little bitty word has way too many stigmas attached to it. Many people either freak out if they hear it (those who are anti-G, calling themselves humanists or atheists, or maybe they’re traumatized from too-religious of an upbringing). Or, as one of my spiritual teachers (a wise old Christian monk) recently noted as he began his talk on mindful Presence:  “For every single one of you, there’s a different definition of God.” So he doesn’t use the G-word either, preferring, as I do too, to use Spirit (or Aum, Om) as readers of LordFlea know already.

In referring to the subject of how to tap into the spiritual side of life, the metaphor of Suzuki Roshi’s waterfall is the best analogy I’ve ever heard. He describes the state of connecting to this higher state — the universal consciousness that is all present — as this:

We, each one of us humans, is a tiny cell of consciousness that is connected to the whole, just as a drop of ocean water is still part of the unlimited ocean. If we came to a waterfall (or a stream, a river, an ocean) and took in our cupped hands, a tiny bit of the vastness before us, think of what you’re imagining holding in your hands, as you take it from the flowing waterfall to look at, and perhaps drink of — that this handful of water is symbolic of your human life. You are a separate being, but you are also part of the wholeness from which you came. You are both at the same time, even though some people never choose to experience this state of Oneness.

the waterfall of Life

the waterfall of Life

Even though you have been born in your human form (yoga scriptures calls this one-person connection to All, the Atman), you are still spiritually connected, and part of the whole spiritual consciousness (yogic Oneness, is Brahman, also called “the Self”) that permeates this existence, this universe …. the multiverse, as all of space discoveries is now more commonly called.

When I read Suzuki Roshi’s words for the first time many moons ago, I was struck about how similar his description of the waterfall was to my own inexplicable experiences of meditation. The Stillness. The Oneness. Totality. Yet, I was still me. How, after learning to follow a mantra and having trained my bad-ass monkey-mind to STOP obsessing, and keep it focused on a sound, and witness my thoughts, not engage in them —- how I felt connected to all that is.

And yet, when I came out of meditation and looked in the mirror, yes, I could verify that I was still this one same person named teZa (aka LordFlea, here). I have one body, not an endless array of cosmic-ness, yet my mind felt unlimited to any barrier, whether of skin or mental gymnastics. Even more deeply I felt this Oneness as my meditation practice grew stronger, as I went through layers of impurities. As my teacher told me I would. Until — I arrived at the place where each and every time I press my third eye (even for a breath or two, only!) I can jump into that state of Oneness, like a dog who’s learned to stand up on its hind legs for its tasty treat. I love the depth, the connected-ness of meditation.

Of course this took years of practice. But the payoff the stilling of the mind, is going deep inside Self, like sticking a finger into the CHARGED SOCKET of the Big Brain Itself (ha! it’s that shocking at first, so electrifying!). This place, state of mind, is beyond thought, and even if for just a glimpse that lasts only a few seconds, and eventually becomes longer in time and deeper in connection — all this amounts to cultivating a spiritual connected-ness. This, my friends, is Oneness consciousness.

So how does this meditative approach to “Fresh” apply to practicing yoga poses? And what, for goddess’ sake, does Oneness have to do with political or environmental angst? Bear with me, reader, a little longer.

Spread the Word: LOVE

approach each pose (downward dog here) as if it’s just you and the world around you

The same fresh electric jolt that Oneness brought me (at the beginning of my journey) is exactly the same, each and every time! — when approaching anything with a Beginner’s Mind. If I think, “I’m a lifelong yoga person, I know this pose” instead of “ahhh, try to feel it as if for the very first time I’m going into this pose” — then I am in Beginner’s Mind. To do this means I have to be more aware. The key here: Awareness. I must remind myself to think as a beginner, and not as a Know-It-All adept. Each time I start a yogic practice session, or just want to do a quick back stretch, but yogically, mindfully, I must remind myself that … “I know nothing! I am a beginner. I may know where to put my feet, my arms, my gaze .. but I am going to let this pose here and NOW teach me as if I’ve never had any experience of this same pose, before. Ever.”

This takes discipline. To let go of our “knowing”. This also requires humility. Some people have a hard time letting go of “thinking they know.” Why? Because they’re insecure. Without knowing something SURELY, they feel impotent, less than, and likely afraid of feeling vulnerable. Many people I know in the spiritual/mindful world (yes, as much in this tribe as in the political circles I skirt these days) are filled with self aggrandizement. Many yoga teachers I see being pumped out of the yoga-mills these days tend to think of themselves as so advanced and knowledgeable, so sure they have all the information they need after they’ve gotten their relatively easy-to-get certification. Suddenly they’re experts about breath, asana, stilling mind, opening heart — that many in the “extreme yoga world” only end up losing the opportunity to experience the electrifying delight of a beginner’s approach. And sadly, they end up shortchanging themselves (and their students) of having an incredible experience each and every time they begin their yoga session.

To have a beginner’s mind takes great humility. Want to try it? I encourage you to, the next time you hit the mat, or just sit to stretch for a few breaths holding a pose, and feel the connected-ness of your being a handful-of-water you’ve just pulled from the Waterfall of Existence. Feel this, yourself before you share it with others.

Let your mind go still. Focus on your breath. Let your breath show you what’s happening. Each yoga pose, each opportunity to grow from understanding another’s point-of-view is different, each day. Each and every time you move your body, it’s a new experience! Subtle changes occur. Awareness becomes more expanded as you scan your body and sense how today … is different. You may learn something new if you just open your mind … one breath at a time.

Try it.

For those whose breath gets choked up thinking about the state of the environment and other politically charged, topics, try this same kind of awareness exercise. The next time a news item, or a distressing topic arises, allow your breath to become your main focus, not the immediacy of this topic. And … as you focus on your breath … listen to those around you. Listen with something more than your ears, your eyes, your intellect. Listen to the sound of the universe that pulsates through your veins, in the form of your blood’s circulatory system, for instance. And remember: just as the moon and the sun and the stars are held in place, and don’t fall out of their orbits — you, too, and everyone here on Earth, is being taken care of by this Oneness consciousness that unites us all. And let go of any pre-determined judgement you have about this disturbing subject.  Open your mind and your heart and allow the possibility of — something happening that you might not be aware of, a bigger plan, a higher meaning — and practice complete trust. In what? That we are all One, and no politician, no human talking head can ever destroy that true, inexorable connection. It all starts with YOU, your mind, your heart — keep it open!

opening people's frozen hearts

remind yourSelf to keep your heart/mind OPEN

And let me know how these suggestions work for you.

Share your thoughts with me here, and let’s get a dialogue going, shall we?

I wish each and everyone of you a blessed and Beginner’s Mind kind of brand new day, each and every moment. May your outlook about the world’s events, and your own private life, be filled with the Light of higher understanding. May you be able to better discern what to do, and what to not do. It could be something as simple as not spending quite so much time on social media today. Spending more time in quiet contemplation about who to spend your time with, where to focus your life’s efforts — nurturing a challenging relationship. Or … do some yoga!

Each day is a new beginning. Each breath — a new you!

Please leave your email (by commenting) so I can send you some special give-aways I’m working on! Surprise Surprise!

Your pal, LordFlea, aka teZa Lord

nurturing Self, nurturing Oth

let’s talk Healing the Planet

Climate change, Harvard University Symposium 10/13

(I worked as botanical illustrator at Harvard Peabody Museum longer than my husband, class of ’68, went to school at HU)

Short talks by these members of class of ’68, the purpose of LordFlea’s visit

I     James McCarthy, Harvard U, prof of oceanography
Reports about Argo float units: track oceans’ — thus, warming proved
Charts, data, facts now indisputable.

Greenland ice gone. Seas rising.

II    Wendy Kuhn Silk, U of CA Davis, botanist, artscientist

melting ice affects entire ecology: small plants, fish, seals, polar bears besides loss of land
Earth water science song, she teaches others to create song for heart-shake
Uses creativity to make emotional bond with environmental issues.

III    Ann Greenberg Berwick, environmental lawyer, former Undersecretary for Energy in MA

Our goal: de-carbonized electric grid , etc no carbon
Naturall gas & nuclear, bad
No such thing as clean coal
Answer: de-carbonize electric grid

IV    Michael Van Bever Dyett,  city planner San Francisco
Yes, we can reduce greenhouse gases
More biking, walking
Little incremental improvements, not draconian measures
Elected officials have to be onboard

V     Charles Alan Boright, former Vermont lawmaker (House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Energy)
Moderator for this seminar’s …

Questions and Discussions

1) If all of Greenland melts, effect is catastrophic for sea rising level. “You don’t want to even think about it,” answered McCarthy, Harvard oceanographer.
(LordFlea: I flew over it last year on trip taking Mom to Iceland in August and saw only ice over Greenland, but measurements say last year all of Greenland was measured above 32 degrees F. Even though to appearances, there is ice, it is in the active state of sublimation, melting before our eyes. )

2) Methane is bigger prob than is known, says a visiting scientist (didn’t get name).
More than carbon dioxide
Soot
Wildfires

Oceanographer McCarthy  is optimistic:
Success with wind solar elec energy, he points out

3) bio possibilities being explored, many reports of research, findings, figures: yes, world is rapidly changing
4) good and bad of Gmo crops: have good and bad purposes, effects
5) need for more solar incentives for common folk , community projects , individual homes, lowers prices of eco-saving devices; Lamar builders, for example, etc can provide better energy-savers in new homes if offered economic breaks, govt incentives; roof top leasing for large stores such as Walmart for collection of solar energy

6) Scientific projections are on the light, safe side, all scientists attending agreed.

Science has erred on side of caution — up to now.

Scientists becoming more vocal.

7) Clean Air Act
Putting price on carbon is best answer available

8) Efficient lights subsidized by Costco and other places, great, need more business to hop onboard. Capitalize on ecology-saving

9) Fracking: co2 pumped into pipes to release oil. Some Harvard attendees/scientists think acceptable, quickly followed by:

10) Environmental consultant/former legislator:, Ann Berwick:  “Sorry to be the wet blanket ” — there is no plan, no legislation, fracking issue is bad : co2 stays in ground, and she’s not optimistic.

11) Chris Hallowell, author, wrote book in 90s re : what if New Orleans levy broke. Then Katrina happened. Many of ’68 class have raised their voices in their fields.

12) Enlightened leaders is our ONLY hope: all agree!!

LordFlea’s final note, Let’s put our personal light focusing on the hope of enlightenment reaching the darkness surrounding all our issues here on earth.

ACTION ACTION ACTION

Be a Spiritual Activist!!!

Think Positive, my friends.

Help from all to heal our World, planet Earth

Help from all to heal our World, planet Earth

OmmmmmmLove!

Traveling in paradise, literally, because Costa Rica is not only a beautiful jungle dream land but also a country that has no army, so therefore all its resources, economic and humanitarian, are devoted to making life better for all its citizens and the entire world. Their motto is “Pura Vida”—pure life—and that is what it feels like being here. Decades ago the government decided to concentrate on eco-tourism instead of other industries, so many people are here interested in Nature, and that´s just great! These are the kinds of people I like to be around, those who think of the Earth as part of their own lives, not separate, not different from their humanness. Yes, here in Costa Rica you feel the Earth is alive!!!  i´ll post whenever i can get to an internet cafe. love and light from Lordflea

Greetings from another, just like the others.

yes, I sing the song of our hearts, loud and clear.

my name, lord flea? you wonder?

i gave this name to myself in honor of a now-gone calypso singer from de eye-lands. like him I am a watcher, a commenter, a person who cares. i want to share with the world, but only of things of spirit,

In Spirit, lord flea sings.

in fact i am just like you and you. to sing out loud, with no tags (such as male, female, white, black, yellow, pink, republican, democrat, arab, jew, christian, liberal, tight-ass, etc. etc.) i am a mystery, on purpose.

and that’s what this life is like…a mystery.

the native americans call existence on earth the Mystery. and i agree. IT is.

 

glad to meet you all!! i’ll be posting regularly and sharing with you my thoughts and my art. here’s a little taste.

the Mystery, as lord flea sees it

the Mystery, as lord flea sees it