Getting It

I grind coffee in the dark while my family sleeps. This is my routine.

In this ritual with splashing water and spoons, I sift the inner recesses for inspiration. If the Archives are chronicles of the everyday, what does the muse have for this morning?

All is well. There is half and half in the refrigerator, this summer’s mango harvest is stacked in the freezer. Life is stocked. But this morning draws a blank.

Until that ever-so-quiet whisper. Read the Jan Frazier

Gifted to me two months ago, and still yet to be read, the ebook “Opening the Door – Jan Frazier Teachings on Awakening” was finally unearthed from my neglected email inbox last night.

Following a lead this morning – what the heck – I open the PDF and find it randomly positioned to page 16. What follows are some excerpts from the chapter “Where is the Beloved?”.

The words are a cosmic wink, with the joke all on me. I get it, because I just don’t yet get it.

I’m waiting for that deep, full-knowing belly laugh.  But until then, maybe I’ll just try softening.  Rest my head.

“Put your head down, and don’t fall asleep. Just lie with your eyes closed and see if you can feel what it would feel like to have nothing weighing on you, to know that you would never again have to strain at anything, or worry, or wonder if you’ll ever be happy. See if you can feel what relief there would be if you knew, absolutely knew, that the rest of your life would be effortless. That all was radically well, and would be, even though bad things would keep happening. That somehow, for the rest of forever, you would be soft and peaceful and laughing inside, no matter what hand you were dealt. Feel it, feel it. You owe this to yourself. If you never let yourself sink into the deliciousness of what seems so impossible, how will longing ever get a chance to start up?

This is not a fairy tale. This possible thing is as real as a tree, as real as politics, as the roots that hold the tree to the ground, as real as the newspaper and its stories…What do I need to do to get this across? It is as real as gravity, as the orbits of the planets, as lightning, as photosynthesis, as grime in a bathtub, as a car accident, real as the crown of a bloody baby’s head pressing against its mother’s tearing flesh.

The truth is, it is more real than these things, and yet it is hardly seen, hardly felt, let alone directly known.

It is emptiness. It is nothing, but it is everything, it is all, and these are just words. What good are they? Will they make a bridge across which feet can walk? Will they make a trapdoor through which a body can drop? A soft place for a head to sink to?

How maddening it is for one to know this, to know it is there, it is real, and yet it cannot be found. How I want to lay my coat over every mud puddle, lace my fingers into a stirrup to hoist a tired foot over the wall, how I want to operate on every pair of eyes to make them finally see, to see what is right in front of them, of us all, everywhere and always. How I want to put my hands on every single head and gently turn it, direct the attention toward this, this and nothing but this. There is nothing else to look for, nothing else to care about, nothing else to believe in…

It is not so awfully hard. Truly. Once you know this, you will marvel that you ever could have supposed it was otherwise.

Life is short.”

2013-09-05_naupaka sky

That’s About the Size, Where You Put Your Eyes…

I keep thinking about the clown and the saint.

It’s a story shared in Jan Frazier’s “When Fear Falls Away” about an evening when Baba Muktananda (a spiritual teacher and master) was offering darshan (a blessing that is given from a guru to a disciple). Devotees were lined up to have a turn to kneel before Muktananda and receive his gift. A whisp from the feathers he held, fanning the air of enlightenment that circled him, and one could possibly be opened to a window of new consciousness. A heightened connection to God, bestowed.

So in Frazier’s telling, there was this darshan taking place, an air of reverence there for all devotees in this sacred ceremony. Everyone dressed to their best as they prepared to come into the presence of this Master. And as the line moved along, each person making their way to Muktananda, there came into view a clown. Yes, a bonafide clown. Or at least a man dressed up as one. Bright polka dot suit, ruffled collar, white face paint and those huge, red, painted-on lips. His eyes, thick, with expressive clown make-up.

As the story goes, when the clown came before Muktananda, people began to laugh.

“…Everyone in and around the darshan line was laughing…everyone, that is, but Baba. Baba was just swishing his peacock feathers over the crown of the curly orange wig bent before him- just as he did with anyone who came up in the darshan line. Now the clown had raised up on his knees to face Baba. The guru was looking into the clown’s eyes, into the pupils at the centers of the bright red circles like bull’s eyes, looking deeply into this man who had made himself (for whatever reason) into a clown.

Finally, Baba sat back in his chair, seeming a little confused by all the laughter. He leaned down to {his translator} and asked her in their native tongue what everyone was laughing at.

{The translator said} ‘Why Baba, don’t you see? The man is dressed as a clown!’

Then Baba looked again at the man- looked, it may be, with his ordinary eyes, his merely organic eyes. It was only then that he saw the external of the person- the clown costume of him. And then Baba laughed, joining the others in the good time.

…{initially} when Baba looked at that man, he really and truly did not see a clown.”

(excerpt from Jan Frazier’s “When Fear Falls Away“)

This story of the clown and guru keeps coming back to me as I contemplate perception. Was Baba Muktananda looking with his third eye? What was he seeing when he looked at the clown? What was he seeing as he lived his days on earth?

What do each of us see through our own unique filter of perception? Quite possibly, very different worlds, often living the assumption that everyone sees what we see.

As I’ve pondered this clown story, the tune of a little song comes trailing to my mind. Its origins melded with childhood memories, its source, unknown.

That’s about the size
where you put your eyes
that’s about the size of it

With technology on my side, the world-wide web and a search engine bring me to an old segment from Sesame Street. I don’t recall the visuals, I only remember the chorus of the song that I heard as a child on television, probably, 25 years ago. I think Sesame Street was on to something. And I’m glad to see that the sentiment took root within me, still profound today.

Who would have thought that clowns, Sesame Street, and ascended masters could all connect to deliver a profound message on perception. Goes to show…that’s about the size…

What’s Left When Fear Falls Away?

I’ve been falling asleep in dim light, grasping a page at a time, to the passages from my birthday book “When Fear Falls Away” by Jan Frazier.

Gifted to me by my friend, The Artist, it chronicles the experience of a woman (and she insists she is quite ordinary) who had a sudden shift in consciousness. She claims that her entire life changed, deep to the core of every moment. That she went from being a woman living in extreme anxiety around repeated cancer scares, to someone that began existing in a state of great peace. That the fear simply went away. And what filled the empty once occupied by fear, was an infinite well of love.

Her book describes this experience, not as one that had a beginning and an end. Not one that had a peak of sorts and then faded. It explains that this shift within her was so authentic and profound that it sustained, no matter the circumstance, no matter the calendar days that passed.

What she tells is that she was a simple woman, filled with lots of fear. She did nothing special except that one night, filled with anxiousness for the next cancer test, she decided to ask. Asking no one deity in particular, she was not religious. She just asked something – that thing that was bigger than herself – if she could stop being afraid. And what she reports is that the fear did indeed go away. Not for a night or a week, but permanently. Frazier’s account describes her journey through this experience, all the while insisting that this awakening is possible for every person.

She recalls a time in life before this shift, when she could simply not believe that she would ever awaken to any kind of divine state. That she could read of masters living in this way, but that it was not accessible to her.

I can relate. Reading her words I reflect on this in my own life. I dwell with my beliefs. Just take a look at my own mind and how it can so instantly jump to “Nahhhh. Not me. I could never really be completely free of fear. I’m not one of those special human beings that could live in a state of grace, 24/7, no matter the outer circumstances. That is a state beyond me. Impossible for what I am capable.”

I realize these thoughts play quietly in the deep recesses. Strong enough to make a song, but sounding low enough that I do not notice them, though they hum assumptions that color my days.

How curious to simply listen to this song. Question it. Feel the freedom of even just considering singing a different tune.

Where else am I closing doors where I could be swinging them full open?

For inspiration, I’m including a quote from Frazier’s book “When Fear Falls Away.”

Here’s to the profound – found – in the every day.

“…The main thing is the experience deep in that has nothing to do with what’s going on around me. Trying to describe it is like trying to speak a language I don’t know: I’m new in this country. But also, it’s hard to put words to, because if I were to just say it like it is, say the way it feels, I fear I would sound immoderate, unseemly. And yet the experience inside is so incredible, it is for that very reason I am compelled to describe it. It is so very important. It is, in fact, the reason we live at all. Not a reason: the reason.

How can I keep quiet about this, self-conscious though it make me?

It’s the joy I refer to. The no-good-reason joy. It’s love that I feel-enormous love, vast, undirected love. Undiluted, unfunneled love. I know of no other way to say it.

I feel large, huge, vast, like what is in me pumps out into the world around me and fills it. Infects it.

It isn’t happiness. It isn’t directed at one particular person or place or idea.

But this isn’t what is most startling. It is the power that has opened to me, because of giving in to this force of love. I feel an enormous power inside-like I’m capable of more than I used to be.

God, I swear this is the best kept secret. Everybody can do it. I know this. I could have done it all my life.

It’s like I read once: The universe exists so God can hide and we can go looking for God. One big game. But the whole time, all we have to do is look. Right there. Right here: in this kitchen, where I sit in my wet socks, my coffee cup beside me, my boots on the floor, snow and mud melting out of the their treads onto the linoleum…”

– Jan Frazier “When Fear Falls Away, The Story of a Sudden Awakening