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Archive for March, 2010

Learning

I know where I stand now.  Since making allegiance to my heart, I know I will always return to the right place, and I know I will continue to grow in a clear direction.

Lately people tell me I’m happier than they’ve ever seen me before.  My family has commented on this.  I even got an email from an old friend saying that she’d never seen me so happy, and we’ve known each other for seven or eight years.

And I notice that I’m very attractive to people.  Yet I feel very clear about making friendships or entering into sexual relationships with anyone.   One thing I’m learning is that with my focus on my heart, I feel great peacefulness with being with making a friend or not making a friend, with having a lover or not having a lover, with just being by myself or not being by myself.  Currently, none of the orbiters in my life fit the bill for what I’m looking for.  So I feel like continuing to look, and enjoying my life in the meantime.  I value this clarity.

Beyond this, I notice that when I put a lot of attention on my heart, I tend to experience a sense of unity with everything.  I first noticed that day looking over the trees.  When I thought of making my allegiance to my heart, I felt like I was all the trees, the whole vast space in front of me, like we all sprang from the same darkness, the same emptiness, and we were joined in that emptiness.  I have since experienced the same thing a few times and up to now I’m not used to it.  However, I know I will continue growing in this awareness.

Also, I notice if I drop the idea of growth, cease to focus on attaining more stability in my focus, or anything like that, I tend to start getting REALLY deep into my heart’s truth.  Like in the letting go I think I advance quicker in a minute than seven months of intense focus.  I was reading in Tantric Quest yesterday how Devi’s teacher, back when she was a normal yogi, taught her that she was not fundamentally separate from the divine in any way; any attempt at attainment was just creating a false separation.

I love that book, by the way.

My meditation continues to be simple.  I focus on my breath in the center of my heart.  Sometimes my feelings don’t change immediately or for awhile.  However, part of the beauty of having made my allegiance is that I don’t really mind if my awareness changes right away or not.  I have chosen my path, so it’s only a matter of time.

Even if I feel or don’t feel a specific thing or whatever, I keep my eyes and my attention on my heart, and thus the equanimity therein.  My habits will change, some gradually, some rapidly.  My awareness will become more and more grounded and clear.  All that is left is to simply live and drop more and more of the bullshit.

Learning consists in adding to one’s stock day by day. The practice of Tao consists in subtracting day by day

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Vows

I walked into the forest.  One brightly colored fall I wandered through this part of the woods for hours looking up at the yellows, oranges, and reds to see the liminal moment when a leaf would detach itself from a tree, and fall.  This time I walked in the greens of early spring.  I came through the woods to two lakes.  The water was dead.  I have always thought the little one was dead and dark, but the water was dead in both of them.  I continued on one of my favorite paths up the mountain.  I carried a crystal sphere, so I had to tread carefully so I wouldn’t drop it.

I appreciated the greens of the spring forest.  I had just drank tea with pine needles in it.  There is something remarkably nice about walking through the pine trees after having drunk plenty of their oils.  I felt a lot of appreciation for the trees, not at all idly, but a lot of love for them, for their green.

This appreciation helped me to see the immediate shift of plants on the mountain.  I usually see the lovely cacti that are indigenous to our lone mountain.  However, this time I saw the depth of green in the moss.  I also noticed what I think was dear antler moss, a type of lichen that takes decades to grow just a little bit.  I took time to cherish it.

I continued up the mountain, drinking in the beauty as I passed the large quarry and came to one of my favorite spots.  I sat in the sun and thought of my intention.  I thought of how I would make my allegiance to the truth in my heart.  I couldn’t form my intention or my words quite right.  On top of that I was afraid of the change I could feel, as I looked out over the trees, and dipped into the void.  Perhaps today was not to be the day?  Determined not to speak or vow idly, I continued further up the mountain, to a spot in the shade.  There I sat awhile.

Then my inspiration came.  My hand on the mountain, I thought of my previous times here*, how old the mountain was, how strong its soul and heart must be.  I asked the mountain to be my witness.  I spoke into cracks in the rock, the stones still warm within from the day’s sunshine.  “I swear allegiance to the truth of equanimity in my heart.”  Then into another rock, “I swear allegiance to the peacefulness of the void.”

I felt uplifted, touching the mountain affectionately with my hand.  I continued speaking to the mountain, asking it to bear witness and remember with me, and to remember for me if I ever get too old to remember.  I couldn’t help smiling and laughing aloud as my words grew clearer and stronger as I spoke into the fissures in the mountain.  I made my way further up, noting a rock that was covered in another lovely lichen.  I crouched down along the stone that still seemed to flow as the lava that made it millions of years ago, and spoke into another crack.

Then I heard what I thought was the wind through a trash bag.  I looked around for it, and saw a bird.  A vulture.  I stared at it.  It was very close…  maybe 30 feet away, and very large.  Black, with yellow under its wings.  The sun was at my back, placing me between the bird and the sun.  I watched it for some time as it sat on a dead tree, stood out against the distant trees across the quarry, stood out against the blue sky and the vast expanse of the surface of the mountain.  All in the golden light of the setting sun.

I made the noise it made back at it, a kind of grunt, and it flew around to my left and sat awhile on the rocks above me.  I continued watching it, thinking of my vows, of the change I had made in myself.  I spoke into the crack in the mountain again.  I said, “my old life is gone now” and I moved a little, and the bird flew away.

Then I walked down the mountain, stopping to admire the lichens on the rocks, and to touch and appreciate the red plants that grow through the cracks, and the moss.  I needed to pee so I stepped to some of the quarried stones, and I was delighted to see that someone had built a little stone wall there, so I had a perfect bathroom to use.  There was also a piece of trash, a plastic bottle someone had left, and I picked it up.

When I stepped back, I turned and looked again.  Where I had just walked, a narrow space, a feather was sticking up, laying neatly and large across the rocks and straw and moss.  Surely it had not been there before, I would have seen it.  Yet I knew it was a vulture’s feather, and I was reluctant to touch it.  I squatted by it for awhile, admiring its beauty, and considering it a gift.  Finally I decided to embrace something irrational and I took it in my hand.

I continued walking down, a plastic bottle and my crystal ball in my left hand, and a foot long feather held daintily in my right.  Fortunately I found all the easy walkways down, so I didn’t have to face anything treacherous with no hands.  I disposed of the bottle, crossed the street, walked past the dead lakes and back into the woods I had come through.

All along I thought of what I had just experienced.  And I also thought of the meaning of a vulture.  I know they are scavengers, and I was a little disappointed when I saw one as I knew it was a significant moment in my life.  I had wished for a hawk, perhaps, or another beautiful bird (yet the bird I saw was beautiful, I will not say otherwise, I thought he looked as if he wore a black robe, with yellow feathers underneath).  I mostly thought of what this change would mean for me, and felt comforted by my awareness of truth, equanimity, and the void.

I decided to complete the trail, instead of going back the way I’d come.  It felt right.  Further down the trail, I saw a family of dear scamper away, as I knew I would in that open boggy field.  I smiled.  Shortly after that I caught my sandal on a root, and had it removed from my foot.  I noticed some mica on the ground.  I wondered what it meant, if in my stumbling I might find better insight.  I cherished the mica for a moment, a stone I could look through.  I picked some up as I thought of the philosopher’s stone.

I walked a few more paces and I heard a little sound and looked to my left.  I thought it was a rabbit at first, but as my eyes adjusted to the dusk, I saw a hawk eating a squirrel.  Maybe ten feet from me, and I had passed much closer.  The squirrel still moved, and squeaked and tried to run away.  The hawk held him in his claws and took bite after bite from his flesh and guts.  At that distance, I could hear the sound of the flesh snapping back to the carcass when it was pulled away by the bird’s beak.  The bird kept eating, and looking back at me darkly, making a bigger and bigger pile of the squirrel’s fur as it tore its still-moving body apart.

I walked on.  Now I had a lot more respect for the vulture.  Mostly he just eats what he finds, without killing anything.  I also realized that my hesitance to take the feather was foolishness.  Even as I had looked at it in the straw and rocks and moss on the mountain, I had known I would have taken a hawk’s feather immediately, somehow feeling it “cleaner.”  Yet now I saw the falsehood in all my thinking.  The vulture helps to clean the forest.  My biases were foolish.  Now I had a simple, grounded lesson in equanimity, or at least in setting aside my prejudices.

During the drive home, Van Morrison sang his beautiful song about being born again in a different world, and being a stranger to this world.

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For some time I have noticed my mind will spin around, like a little dust devil, like leaves in the wind.  For some time I’ve noticed it’s mostly irrelevant, unimportant patterning and manic grasping.  Yes, this can feel depressing and dark, or frightening, or can feel like nihilism….  Much of the time it feels like I have a mouth full of novacaine and my real meaning and feeling is muted and fucked up.

However, recently I find that sense of all my thoughts being as a dust devil can also feel liberating and joyful.

In Tantric quest, Devi repeatedly puts Daniel’s focus on his heart.  She suggests the meditation of feeling the breath pass through the heart.  So I started working on this meditation.  I like it because it’s simple and clear.  I think it gives my attention a place to focus, besides the wrongness, repetitiveness, and uselessness of my thoughts (not to say that thoughts cannot often be useful — at best the mind can learn to recognize patterns and join in accord with intuition to make great leaps).

I started placing my attention on my breath through my heart and didn’t notice much at first.  The shift was subtler than I thought it would be, but over a couple of days I came to see it’s very grounded and clear.  Easier than I’d expected, actually.  Partly I had long been deceived about what lies within my heart — thinking it the seat of emotions, or certain attachments or sentiments.  Now I see it’s a place of unity.

My experience at the club on Saturday was mixed enough to explore equanimity with several different situations.  First, almost immediately after I walked in I felt a little out of place.  But breathing through the heart — I felt deeply at peace.  Beautiful.  Suddenly I could walk around the club and have fun very freely, while everyone else obsessed over their image or insecurities.  I stopped to watch some amazing dancers.  One of the regulars at the club is even frequently on “So You Think You Can Dance?”

Next a really cute Asian lady starts talking to me, then pulling me closer, then hugging and brushing her lips against my cheeks as she talks.  Everytime I stepped away, she pulls me back towards her — we did the dance well, and we both enjoyed each other.  Then my friends came, and pulled me elsewhere.  Nice places to practice…  throughout the night I reminded myself, anytime I felt elated or depressed, to simply go there, attention on my heart chakra.  Again and again I felt equanimity, peace for no particular reason.

I danced a lot.  I had the blessing of being able to drop attachments enough to dance joyfully immediately after moments of depression, or moments of elation.  To dance well, I cannot hold to any moment.  I felt blessed as well because I hardly drank at all that night, only a little to share socially with my friends.  Yet I still felt very free, moment to moment.

Then I went home.  I practiced some more as I walked to my car, and as I drove.  I was very tired, yet able to maintain the same equanimity by placing my attention on my breath passing through my heart.  My heart is clearly full of peacefulness and compassion, and it transcends whether I’m working hard to drive carefully while feeling tired, or whether I’m getting blown off by some boy that’s not interested, or pulled in close by some girl who is.  I don’t believe I’d ever tasted equanimity like this before.

And this finally balances my awareness of my mind, so I don’t feel nihilism from that sense of my thoughts just being leaves in the wind.

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“Forgiveness is is letting go of the idea that someone should have done something differently, or that things should have turned out differently.”

–Carolyn Myss

I had wondered about this before.  I had always thought that forgiveness was feeling goodness towards someone who had wronged me, or that I thought had wronged me.  As Jubal Hershaw says in “Stranger in a Strange Land” I just thought that was something that the human nervous system is utterly incapable of feeling, and people were being disingenuous when they suggested it.

However, now I see that the goodwill is an after effect.  I’m reminded of all Jed McKenna says about spirituality and people try and do the things that enlightened people do without actually being enlightened.  Trying to be Buddha-like prior to achieving enlightenment is just rigidity and rules.  Likewise, attempting to have goodwill towards someone in spite of the fact that I believe they treated me wrongly actually often does just lead to being disingenuous.

But Myss’s idea is so much simpler.  Just let go of attachment to the idea that someone should have done something differently or that things should have gone differently.  The idea is to not put my energy there.  Nothing more.  I mean, the past is the one and only thing that is always carved in stone and cannot be changed, no?  So why am I going to put any energy into it?

I’ve been observing this.  Yesterday I was able to apply it to my grandmother.  Now some of the other things Myss says in her videos about healing and Chakras are really useful.  Having some understanding of where someone is coming from can help me to let go of thinking they should have acted differently towards me.

So I thought about my grandmother, someone I’ve been able to have more kindness towards than ever before, and was able to really let go of thinking she should have ever treated me differently.  It’s not the same thing as saying everything she ever did was good, or that I feel good towards her for those things, or anything weird like that, just that there’s no part of me, no thoughts, no energy, nothing invested in the idea she ever should have acted differently towards me.  I accept it, it’s done and I don’t have malice, blame or any wish to change it.  And I notice that I feel very kind and pleasant towards her now.

I was able to apply the same thing towards my mom and some other people.  I felt so energized afterwards!  Like that little finite piece of my thoughts that gets burned up in the back of my head if my brain ever drifts to her, or those other people, can now be dedicated to something else!

YAY!

It’s SUCH a nice and empowering feeling.  And today, I’ve been tempted, and gone back and forth a bit, with my ex, who I had to ask if she still had any of those photos of me from Taiwan, and whom I’m trying to send the rest of her stuff.  Basically just trying to settle physical accounts out with her.  I got upset at the way she treated me…  I went back and forth.  I actually had a neat opportunity to notice the difference between being invested in she should have done something differently and not having any energy going there.

So different.  So much easier.  So damned much nicer.  Even logically, there’s nothing I or ANYONE can do about whats in the past, so obsessing over it, feeling angry or sad about it, or resentful or whatever…  it’s all just absolutely senseless, bordering on completely insane.  I cannot think of any purpose it could possible serve to do anything other than accept the past.

This is in no way to say I wouldn’t learn from the past.  In fact,I think I can look back and forward clearer, and choose what I want now much more effectively without so much invested in times long gone.  I think before I would have been more likely to recreate the same situations and try and do them better, all because of something that happened years ago.

Now I can be like, “well I won’t do that again” without a lot of energy being on “damn it, this time I’ll do it right!”  And being attached to the past is like some part of me would have that notion of doing it better or right..  which could very easily draw me into building the same situation again.  Now I don’t need anything to be different, I don’t need to fix anything or change anything, so I certainly don’t need to be in a similar situation.  Such a different attitude.  Such a better way to learn from the past.

I’m very thankful for having learned this.

I’ll even toss this out there.  Voice training for transsexuals is typically very hard.  Yesterday I wanted to do some, and I caught myself feeling bad about times I’d screwed up, and upset with myself for not practicing since I left Taiwan.  Then I was like, “okay, okay, it’s all in the past… no need to put my energy there, or think I should have done something differently, or think things should have turned out differently.”

In other words, I deliberately brought all my intention and attention into the present moment.  Then I started having fun and enjoying myself, noticing things clearly and freshly…  I really nailed my femme voice, in a way I seldom have before without a LOT of practice.  You would have thought I was just a normal lady with a nice voice on the phone.

I’m looking forward to applying this to everything from dancing (where every moment needs to cease for the next to blossom), to Qi Kung, to target shooting, to pulling cuties, to just reading a book.  Forgiveness is truly powerful and life-changing.

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Depth

Same time last year.  Same meditation.  Same internal space.

Looking and feeling deep within.  I have approached my center of vastness again.  Once again, I have a depth in my certainty of being clearly and truly feminine.  This time last year I decided to stop fighting being transgendered.  Not a bad decision, yet many of my decisions afterwards were unbalanced.  Now I find myself again, with this strong feeling.

Yet, I have not discovered the proper way to live or to act upon this feeling.  It seems as strong a knowingness as I have about anything, and that knowingness seems to tell me I am a woman.  This sense lies deeper than anything I feel the need to justify.  I find this feeling compelling because it’s much stronger than most any other feelings I ever have.  It feels very solid.

I have peacefulness in this knowing, yet I have not found any way to express this sense of myself and maintain equilibrium.  What happens is that I have certainty that I am erring, after following almost any course I have come up with.  So something is not right; something in my perception and knowledge is obviously not complete.

Instead of spiraling off into greater and greater loss of groundedness and inspiration, this year I am choosing to look deeper, to feel deeper.  Welcome to the world of one who is avowed to follow the silent peacefulness that notices all this.  I promised myself years ago I would take this meditation to the center of the center of myself as far as I could possibly go with it.  I’m not interested in being deferred again.

Also, this time I am not afraid of what I might find.  Tracing the grounded and simple center of myself has already brought me into a sense of ceasing to exist and being reborn every moment.  I am beginning to know what it will be to die.  Moreover, I know where my home lies:  in that depth of calm within.  Therefore, either letting a cherished thing go or discovering it to be true doesn’t interest me so much as moving deeper into truth.

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I just awoke from a nightmare after a long evening nap.  I’ll probably try and go back to bed.  I know part of my nightmares came from reading criminal procedures texts for a good part of the day.

I have accepted that studying law now would almost certainly improve my performance in school later.  So I began reading earlier this week, and had gained momentum.  I know that studying four or five hours a day is pretty good for such an early attempt.  I only need to maintain the momentum.  Years of Kung Fu and practicing long meditations have given me enough experience to know how to keep training and building discipline on days when I don’t feel like it.

Every path has its hardships.  I feel that I can easily condition and discipline myself for the feats of learning necessary to do well in Law School, which by every single account I’ve come across is insanely difficult.

So I’ve felt comfortable at these early stages of Kung Fu.  Never mind the fact that I’m still unemployed, I feel that studying now will give me greater payoffs than a 13-dollar-an-hour temp job, and a new apartment, by far.  Knowing I’m doing something to serve my truest path gives me a clarity and freedom of actions, disowning social shame and guilt in a way I’ve never known before.  Ever.

Why did I title this “uncertainties?”  Well, nightmares are unpleasant, and color my feelings differently in the lonely silence of night.  My dream focused a bit on guilt and shame of being unemployed, but more so on my fear of police actions.  As I said, I think it stemmed from reading about criminal procedures all day.  I fear loss of freedom and liberty.  Being arrested or imprisoned is a common nightmare of mine, and one of my more intense fears.  So I woke up with a bunch of scary and unpleasant stories and memories rolling through my mind.

Typing this entry, reminding myself of what I’m doing, has helped me return to the ground and make clear choices about what I’m doing.  Though I still feel a little like the cops are outside the window.  I still feel afraid.

I also sense a sublimation of frustration about my romantic relationships, most recent one in particular.  Surely my greatest fear of all is fear of inadequacy.  All my lovers stand in accusation that I have failed to inspire any enduring affection, or any remaining desire to be with me in any of them.  Yet I am a devoted, attentive, and caring lover if I am sitting here typing this at all!

Sometimes I think I should train myself to not become so attached.  Fair enough.  I’m not sure where any of that would lead.  Something I wrote back in 2004 or 2005 said this:

[…]I can say what I’m actually afraid of right now.

I’m bitter because of my last long term relationship. I’m afraid
that I spent every bit of goodness and passion I had on it.. I
regret that I didn’t have the guts to lie sometimes, or to fight
just for myself. I regret that I was so single minded in thinking
of ‘us.’

I’m truly afraid that anyone I am attracted to is likely to be like
most of the women I’ve dated, that is, wounded and using the wounds
as an excuse to be mean, manipulative, generally fucked up and
wanting me to take care of them… then drawing me (willfully or
not) into being like that, so we “understand each other”
and “connect” because we’re the same… that’s just like my mom,
she did that exact thing to me. So I second guess every time I’m
attracted to someone that they’re going to be like that. I start to
wonder if I should date people I don’t hit it off with, who are just
sexy or interesting. If I hit it off with someone then I think it’s
because they are like what I know. So maybe I should just sleep
with someone completely different. I keep trying to get away from
doing the same patterns of what I know, but this is a hard pattern
to see an exit from…

Yea, and this long term relationship I have so many regrets about?
She looked JUST EXACTLY like my first girlfriend. When I first met
her I thought she was the same girl (after ten years), until I
learned her name… so was I going after that first relationship,
where I got hurt so much? Trying to recreate the one I can still
cry about if I start talking out loud about it to myself?…
probably so.. So, I’m trying to figure out what I’m attracted too
and what I like because it’s familiar and comfortable. I am happy
to step outside of comfort, but in this case

…it’s hard to even know what I’m doing just because it’s
comfortable, it’s so deep inside me… so I second guess the hell
out of myself.

Yea, so that’s my fear right now.

About five years after that relationship, I finally felt myself bonding even more with my lover than with the one I mentioned there.  But do we ever grow past these patterns?  It’s so fucked up that among my simplest, clearest intentions is to build a long term partnership with someone.  Yet I feel I’m still making many of the same mistakes.

Well, I should not say it quite like that.  I’m in a totally different place than I was five or six years ago.  But progress, when it comes to those deeper psychological pains feels like such a twisted pyrrhic victory sometimes.  And I still feel uncertainty and shame of failure.  I don’t even really know if I’m going about everything all wrong, nor do I know how to find out if I am.  Who does?

What’s my rule number one?  We’re all pretty messed up, but it’s okay.  I expect to be with a human being, not an imaginary ideal, and not a robot.  A decade of different lovers has taught me that.  What else can I give someone but love along with that acceptance?  Still, I have yet to inspire any enduring affection or loyalty in any one of the lovers I have invested myself in.

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Inevitability

“If, when you enter battle, you see your opponent is already dead, then victory is inevitable.”

“When someone blocks your moves, they’re just showing you the detours you need to take to get to your target.”

—TaiRuiKe, Senior School Brother at the School of Cultivation and Practice (wujifaliangong.blogspot.com)

For many years I have wanted to become a lawyer.  I spent time with a nice lawyer, who took me under his wing when I was a teenager, and learned that I loved the negotiation aspects of it.  I participated in U.N. simulations to increase my debating skills.  I majored in Sociology because it’s a reasonable precursor to a law degree.  I studied aspects of law on my own time.

Then, years passed and I was just floundering, wondering what I wanted to do.  I liked teaching English.  I was still interested in law.  I thought maybe I should be a bioenergetics therapist or a Rolfer.  I felt adrift.  I waffled a lot.  Years of working and going to college, helping my family and dealing with my own bullshit, and I’d lost my own compass.

Lately, with the help of some friends and some honest introspection, I remembered the truth that drives me to want to be a lawyer.  When I looked inside, I realized I want to help people in those ways that only a lawyer can.  I want to help the guy whose getting screwed by the insurance company.  I want to help the lady that’s getting discriminated against by her employer.  I want to help the stupid kid that’s about to have his life ruined because he got caught with a half an ounce of marijuana.  I want to do so skillfully and powerfully, with compassion and kindness towards my clients.

As soon as I really felt the truth of the matter, a lot of other stuff ceased to be important.  The fact that I am only moving towards what is true for me makes success inevitable.  My feeling that “time was catching up to me” went away.  I know I will succeed, so there is no pressure as to “when.”  My selectivity in colleges changed from wanting a place with prestige and with the most recruiters for big law firms that pay a lot, to caring about where I will receive good training and an environment where I can study and master the law.

Pressure about “when,” appears to be nothing but a way to waste time.  I think a lot of decisions made based on those pressures are precisely the decisions people regret later.  Better to take the time and effort to discover authentic truth now, than at 45, with more than half of a “settled for” life behind me.  When I make friends with one of those people, in law school, who came back at 45 or later (and those people exist), I’ll buy a drink and say sincerely, “you’re my hero.”  Compared to the masses who waste their whole lives not in service of their hearts true desire, those older students slaving away are far better off.

In fact, it’s not even specifically necessary that I pursue it through law.  I choose that method simply because law is within the range of things I can be most excellent at, things I enjoy, and is a powerful method of helping people.  Now every movement feels like an opportunity for cultivating skills to be a better student of the law and a more skillful lawyer.  Indeed, everything in my attitude has changed because I know that I am pursuing what’s True for me and I feel that Truth is inevitable.

This all reminds me how much I love and cherish authenticity.  I am wondering now if I can bring this same Kung Fu, of doing what is deeply truthful, into the rest of my life.  Specifically, I would like to have the courage and integrity to approach my romantic relationships in this manner.

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