Sunday afternoon, cold and very rainy, 43 degrees.
I’ve been saving this particular passage for a Sunday afternoon post. Just seemed fitting. I have always wanted to see the ruins at Angkor Wat, as well as the ruins of Petra and the ruins of Masada. Archeology was one of the fields I was seriously considering, that and marine biology. It never occurred to me that I could study something besides English and still write. So short-sighted of me.
Well . . maybe someday.
We go into the darkness, we seek initiation, in order to know directly how the roots of all beings are tied together: how we are related to all things, how this relationship expresses itself in terms of interdependence, and finally how all phenomena abide within one another. Yes, the roots of all living things are tied together. Deep in the ground of being, they tangle and embrace. This understanding is expressed in the term nonduality. If we look deeply, we find that we do not have a separate self-identity, a self that does not include sun and wind, earth and water, creatures and plants, and one another. We cannot exist without the presence and support of the interconnecting circles of creation—the geosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the sphere of our sun.
~ Joan Halifax from The Fruitful Darkness: A Journey Through Buddhist Practice and Tribal Wisdom
Music by Trevor Hall, “The Fruitful Darkness”*
*If you want to learn more about why Hall named his album after Joan Halifax’s book, you can go here.
Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
“Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.” ~ Rumi
“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” ~ Rumi
I’ve been having really strange dreams again, probably due in part to my latest bout with insomnia. Most of these dreams have involved killing in some way, knives, and blood.
Delightful, n’est pas?
For example, one of the dreams involved a young girl who murdered her parents and younger brother. I had watched a program about this true story, and found it appalling as the girl was only 13 years old when she committed this crime with her 23-year-old boyfriend.
When she appeared in my dream, the girl was much younger, about 5, and she had killed a kitten and was storing it in a drawer. She had made a purple velvet pillow and placed the tiny body of the white kitten atop the pillow inside the drawer, which was spattered with blood stains. I was trying to explain to someone that psychopaths very often kill animals when they are children, and it can go unnoticed.
Freud would have a field day with that particular dream.
In another dream, I was speaking with a woman who had a head but no body. Her head was encased in glass. She was alive and articulate, but she had no torso, hence, no heart. I thought to myself in the dream: “How can she be alive with no heart?”
Wait, they get weirder.
This morning I forced myself to wake up as I knew that I was in the middle of a really terrible nightmare, which, thankfully, I do nt recall, and I was close enough to the edge of wakefulness to be able to force myself into an upright position. What I didn’t realize was that I screamed out loud when I woke up. Scared the bejeezus out of Corey.
But the worst one involved a concentration camp. It wasn’t a Nazi camp, but it was a camp in which the people arriving were separated into two groups. I realized that the guards were taking all of the women with long hair out of the main line and putting them into the line that went directly to the showers. I took a knife (that I just happened to be carrying), and began to saw off my hair in big chunks. I convinced a female guard to help me to cut off the rest of my hair before I got to the head of the queue.
I hate having these kinds of dreams. I wake up totally discombobulated with my heart racing, gasping for air. Not the best way to greet the day.
“Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent.” ~ Rumi
Speaking of greeting the day, I was reading a post on After the Gold Puppy a few days ago in which Reya was discussing manifestos, life affirmations, statements of purpose. Throughout my own life, I have always had phrases and sayings that I repeat to myself silently. These affirmations or mantras have varied depending upon my need and/or at what point I found myself in life.
Metta prayers or meditations, which are derived from the Buddhist tradition, are focused on the translation of Metta (trans. Pali) as loving kindness or loving friendship. A Metta prayer allows the speaker to feel empathy for others and for all living things. Metta is unconditional love without attachment, without a desire to possess.
Metta prayers should be repeated often as a means of exercising positive mental qualities. The intention is to create a habit of mind that “allows us to soften into the deeper experiences of our lives, the chances to connect with all that is around and within us…. to live more fully. It allows spaciousness to develop in the mind allowing us to be less reactive, less stressed out, more calm in the face of challenges, losses, injustices (http://www.bemindful.org/metta.htm).
Metta meditations are usually harmonic in patterns and sounds, for example, pairs of words, or phrases of the same length:
Mind clear and alert
Body fit and strong
However, an individual who wishes to employ the Metta can adapt any of the existing prayers as needed. Here is an example of a Metta Bhavana, which encourages us to give Metta to ourselves so that we can be better able to offer loving kindness to others:
May all beings be free.
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings be happy
May all beings awaken to the light
of their True nature
May all beings be free
The following is a selection taken from the Metta Sutta, Universal Love Prayer (adapted by G. R. Lewis):
May all beings everywhere,
Seen and unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby,
Being or waiting to become:
May all be filled with lasting joy.
Let no one deceive another,
Let no one anywhere despise another,
Let no one out of anger or resentment
Wish suffering on anyone at all.
“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more—more unseen forms become manifest to him.” ~ Rumi
The Metta must first be directed towards the self. Only by learning to nurture ourselves can we offer love to others that is based on integrity and truth. The purpose of the Metta is to become more open and aware in our love towards the self.
Metta is then directed towards someone for whom we feel gratitude and respect, such as a teacher or mentor. This person is known as a “benefactor.” Next, the metta is directed towards a friend or family member. By making these connections with people we respect and love, it becomes easier to move on to the next step, which is to direct the Metta towards someone neutral; this may be a hard step as it is not always possible to identify a person to whom we feel true neutrality, but consider all of the people who are in and out of your life on a daily basis with whom you do not interact directly: the mail carrier or the barista at Starbucks, for example.
Finally, the Metta is directed towards those for whom we may not necessarily feel loving kindness, someone with whom we have experienced conflict, fear, or who we have been unwilling to forgive. After praying for all of these individuals, direct the Metta towards all sentient beings (taken from “Facets of Metta” by Sharon Salzberg).
The Metta prayers can be recited with or without prayer beads. These beads can be made of stones, agates, crystals, and can be anything from simple wooden beads on a string to carved jade beads on silk string.
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”~ Rumi
Here is the Metta that I have composed for myself:
I am content
I am calm
May I be safe
May I be strong
Loving kindness and
Peace will come to me
Clear mind and strong body
will set me free
from sister moon
and earth mother
will strengthen my heart
for the trials I suffer
And I will face each day
with hope and joy
and truth in my soul