Notes from the Wednesday Circle of Sharing ...
The author of this quote was a bicyclist, and then started meditating in zen very intensely. And then at one point, he had an illumination that gave him insight into the way things were.
A couple of my own thoughts. I was at a conference, and as this thought was being read, i was thinking that it kept on saying, "don't gather, don't gather, don't gather." And at conferences, the whole pattern seems to be to gather, gather, gather. And when it's around you, it brings up those tendencies in you. I was in this beautiful area at the conference, and it was very, very natureful. And I realized that that beauty couldn't be gathered. A bird doesn't have a bank account. Another insight regarding this thought: he says if you want to be in a space of love, you have to serve. At the conference, I was biking home, and I got lost. Dirt roads, and very dark, and no sign of life. My first thought was that I don't know if I'm afraid of the dark, but I'm going to find out real soon! And I'd just come from this meditation retreat, so I was thinking, what am I really afraid of? Is it wildlife coming to eat me? It's so irrational. It reminded me of this story I'd heard a year or so back. These monks were walking in deep meditation, and this lion comes and eats the last guy in the line. And so the monk being eaten has this thought that I don't want to disturb the other monks. And the second thought he has is, Oh this lion must be hungry. And the story is that at this point he becomes awakened. So fear, and love, and the relation between the two. Another friend at this conference was a real naturalist. And he described this jellyfish that emits bioluminescence. So the jellyfish, according to him, as a form of survival instinct, emits this light so as to distract from it. So again, fear and what it does.
"Faith is a withholding of conclusion so that you allow what is to arise." -- Adyashanti
"THe heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe." -- Joanna Macy
The idea of being present all the time and serving what's present is a very powerful concept for me. And this morning, I was talking about what is happening around us. And ironically, the things that are happening around us tend to take us away from the present. So the news and media tend to make us feel (unless you're really strong) like we don't have power. But then there are people who are able to be in the present moment and serving the moment in the way we can. We can have an impact to change the world, much like Gandhi showed through his life. The spotlight was more on him, and so the impact was greater. At the same time, with the idea of six degrees of separation, what we do can make a difference, because while we may not be in the big spotlight, even in being in the spotlight for one or two people, our actions can inspire others to be present and in a space of love. So it doens't have to be a big change to have an impact.
The title, with the heart breaking open, seems to be a dramatic thing. "But for me, it's little cracks. Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." -- Leonard Cohen. So with this thought, there was this feeling of deeper resonance with some resistance. A gap between what you really resonate with and what you're living. That made me think of the latin roots of emotion, and it goes to disturbance. There's a tribe in Africa, where in group talking, the concept is to keep awake to the places where there is emotion, or disturbance. And those are the places that need work, which is what emotion can be thought of. In this thought, the last part struck me, about the serving the one not having anything to do with your life's purpose, career or goals -- Separating it from what a lot of us try to find meaning in. And that's a pretty radical thought, and it's also pretty liberating, because it brings you back to the agency you have in this moment. And this is what this thought gave me.
I also wanted to touch on the part about how your career and your life goals aren't really connected to what you're serving. We're focused on how what we will do in the future will serve, but this brings us back to how you can serve in the now. And so I find myself thinking only of the next stage, but this is a reminder that it can be now.
In this passage, the two words that stayed with me are service and oneness. To me, service is a natural expression of joy, fulness. When one feels a gratefulness, then service flows naturally. EVen the word service becomes unnecessary. When my right hand scratches my left hand, there is no service. But service is also a way to get into that fulness. My spiritual teacher says that the shortest way to depression is "What can I do for me? What can I do for me?" The shortest way to happines is "What can I do for others? What can I do for others?" The last thought is that when one is in the mode of service, then the entire universe seems to be conspiring. And there's such a natural high to that.
In this one scripture, I remember reading a commentary that says that the universe is space, and you are a pot. And we think we are the pot, but eventually the pot cracks and merges into oneness. So the pot is temporary, but the oneness is our destiny. The second aspect is about what we do not being how we serve. And so when you are young, we think that we are preparing to get to the point where we are going to make a difference. But then this becomes a habit, and you never get there. Today, on the radio, I heard of an initiative called youth ventures, which supports any venture by 12 to 20 year olds. Which I thought was interesting: if you have an idea, go out and do it.
I really like this video. What a nice person, giving his kindness for nothing in return. He just gave his time to hug people. Reminds me of the quote "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." -- John Kennedy. Unfortuntately, we have so much of a hard time letting go, and we want something back. And that's what's around us.
The concept of free hugs is so wonderful, even though I've received so many in the past week! Being in a space where you see people giving selflessly really lightens your heart up. I really feel strongly about it.
I didn't really identify with the breaking open. I prefer to think of it as going deeper, with there being no limit. And this includes expansion. Also, as someone said about doing service, I've discovered that it really works this way: if you're feeling bad, and you think, what can I do for someone else, immediately, your whole energy likes.
I actually really liked the title. I had a cool experience yesterday where I got to meet someone whose heart did break open, and they talked about their journey and how it happened. I'm a grad student in Biology, and I get to hear a lot of talks. And usually, it's all focused on experiments and what's going on in research. Yesterday, we brought in a different kind of speaker, the CEO of OneWorld Health -- the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company. They're focusing on the Developing world, and it's really sad because companies aren't focusing on diseases there because there isn't money. But this company is different, and so I got to go to lunch with this woman. I was really pleasantly surprised by how the interaction. Where I work, the kind of conversations that happen here don't tend to happen there. The room is usually pretty silent when a talk is going on, but things seemed to be even quieter. And she talked about wanting her own heart to be opened. And I've never been to a talk where someone brought in spirituality into the technical. And I was resonating with it, but I didn't know what other people were feeling, and that made me feel a little uncertain. But it was just really interesting.
I really like this thought too. I also see it as this capsule breaking open, releasing all the contents in the water. Although I'm quite a gatherer, whenever I've felt the oneness, those are really beautiful moments where you merge into the oneness and there's nothing to see.
With regards to six degrees of separation: sometimes I do a random search for someone and then I try to see if I can connect to someone in less than 6 degrees, and 3 out of 4 times it does! It always picks me up. Another story about the lion and the priest. The priest is walking around preaching, and he's walking in the forest, and he sees a lion, and immediately freezes up. And the lion comes closer, and he's really thinking this is going to be it. So he puts his hands together in prayer gesture, and the lion comes closer and they make eye contact, and the lion puts his paws together, and the priest says "What are you doing?" And the lion says, in looking at you, I realized that I am a religious lion and so I thought I should also say grace! And so the lion goes on being a lion. So sometimes I realize that sometimes I am a lion in priest's clothing, getting stuck to some pattern of what it means to serve, instead of being real and serving what's in this moment.
I like Adyashanti's works in general, and it's full of wisdom. Speaking of wisdom, sometime ago, I remember reading that no amount of rational thought can lead to wisdom. So what can lead to wisdom? They say in this book that if you give full attention to anything, then that process puts you in that space of stillness, and the wisdom arises. That's a very practically useful tool, because you could be fully attentive to some activity, or some piece of art, or the person in front of you. All of these things are processes that lead to greater wisdom.
What he just said reminds me of another quote by Winston Churchill: There are three ways to get wisdom: reading, which is easiest, contemplation which is noblest, and experience which is bitterest.
I'm just at a lot of peace after this hour and so I just wanted to share that. I don't know what happened, but it's good.
I really liked the quote. It really did strike me, the phrase on breaking open the heart. It would sound tragic, but this makes sense. In terms of serving others, I've recently gotten caught up in this whole maternity thing! I have three weeks to go, and people do look at you differently when you're pregnant. You're standing in an aisle and this guy completely stops and waits, and he can't get around me until I move. And he's just waiting patiently. So you get that treatment of being served in a way, and three weeks from now, that will be gone. But I look forward to doing more service soon!
I have a lot of admiration for Adyashanti. He started at about the same time as CharityFocus. His name was John Gray and he put up a pamphlet in a bookshop on Zen Satsang, and I thought that was interesting, so I used to go there. He had deep experience and you can see that he is talking from that space. And as I was watching him, it was extraordinary. We used to meet in some psychologist's office, and now he's so famous. Coming back to the quote, I was following the quote, and with the heart breaking open, I was trying to connect that to service. And he says it's not obvious. When the heart breaks open, it's so profound, that it's not service, it's just love. But I think he means embodiment: how do you live it day to day. Then he brings up service, but then service is not about doing this or that, but keeping that experience alive moment to moment. And everybody that goes to him has this experience, and have that as a starting point, and so there's no technique. In each person, it manifests differently: how do you embody and manifest. Some people use words, and some people just sit there. It expresses in many different ways. I think this is what he's talking about.
Adya has a deep and wonderful place in my heart, and I've known him for about four years. And this has to be in his earliest writing, because it's lengthy. He says in 5 or 10 years, he might just say one word! So I'd been spirituality shopping for several years, and when I met him, he was just so clear and it just spoke to me. Any teacher goes through this, concepts or words they use to explain something. The time I saw him he used the phrases egoic trance or egoic fantasy, which described everything which is not true. What I got from hanging out with him, I realize more and more that what is going to happen is going to happen anyway. I can swim upstream or downstream, and it's my choice. And so he says it's about awakening to the truth/oneness or awakening from the separation. And with this thought, it's interesting that he talks not of breaking the heart open, but more about it breaking open. And so sometimes it's just about getting rid of ideas of what it means to live in truth and just being here. And if you are living in the flow of the truth, it's not your work or your life meaning. So I wish I could stay in that space all the time, and so this is about being in relationship as a servant to the truth, and not just waiting. An aside: at an AA meeting recently, I heard "God doesn't do for me or to me, God just shines through me." It's good to be here with all of you.
I really like the concept of asking is oneness being served. So there's no ego. Wherever I'm going, whatever my truth is, I want to take everyone to that same place, whatever they are searching within themselves. I want to suport that. So this is where the heart breaking open comes in. And this is what service is to me. And I've noticed the more I do it, the more there is. So it just constantly keeps giving. And so sometimes I do think that the heart just breaks open, and it's just this oneway flood -- you just have so much that it really can contain everything.
My favorite thing Adya says: The whole point is to be in love with now, and now, and now, and now.