Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Lightning Strikes

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."--Helen Keller

Security is a myth. Anything can happen at any moment. Intellectually, I know this. And there have been times when I have experienced it, the feeling one has when the so-called rug is pulled out and there you are in the midst of nowhere going no place and being nobody, everything you identified yourself by vanished.

I aspire to get comfortable with that. I want to relax about it, open up easily beyond the finite boundaries of my familiar self and life. Something easier said than done, something worthy of practice.

A friend told me that two days ago, after an enormous sound, a blinding experience of light flooded her living room. When it was over, there was nothing scorched or burnt. But it was lightning. Others nearby called to check on her because they saw it strike her home and were concerned for her wellbeing. Lightning can be like that. Powerful, yet leaving no trace of its visit. If you are fortunate. It infuses you somehow, but you live through it, as a childhood friend of my younger daughter did when lightning passed through her body as she swam in a pool.

Sometimes it feels like being struck by lightning to be reflected by one's spiritual teacher. I haven't had the experience lately, but over the past 35 years I have definitely had it. My spiritual mentors have let loose with bolts of shattering insight and effortless, inherently loving snapshots of my unique predicament. I cannot imagine what my life would have been without the presence of my spiritual teachers, beautiful, profound, earthy, humorous and deeply compassionate Tibetan lamas. So many people have never even met an authentic spiritual guide. Or they scoff at the idea. I find it very sad. It is difficult being a spiritual/religious person in a society that is either relentlessly secular or fanatically religious in ways that are inconceivable to me.

I guess that's why I am thinking of India so much. It would feel relaxing to be in a country where thousands of naked sadhus running into the Ganges is their version of a marathon, and where the importance of spiritual practice and development is taken for granted. Maybe I'll travel there one of these days.
Lately, I've been thinking of traveling to India as a celebration of turning 70.

My younger daughter is 28 today. Astounding. The spirit is timeless, but the body is carried along in linear time. She and I had dinner together the other night to celebrate. What a beautiful, deep person she is. I always feel fortunate that she is my daughter. When I was her age, I made the journey from the East coast to the West coast. I discovered Buddhism, healing arts and environmental activism. I wonder what this year will bring to her life.

I'm often reading various stuff. I just finished reading a book about India titled Empire of the Soul. It has some truly marvelous writing about India and the spiritual search. But overall I found it rather dispiriting. It was the writer's distance from and distrust of his spiritual life that got to me eventually.

Yesterday I read a poem by David Wright titled Lines on Retirement, After Reading Lear. I like this part of the poem.

"...Feel the storm's sweet sting invade you to the skin,
the strange, sore comforts of the wind. Embrace
your children's ragged praise and that of friends.
Go ahead, take it off, take it all off.
Run naked in the tempests. Weave flowers
into your hair. Bellow at cataracts.
If you dare, scream at the gods..."

Take it all off. How about deconstructing the self? It's a good idea to practice expanding into the infinite, letting go of the particular markers of the individual life.

Even so, I still have ordinary work to do here, and it is naturally an expression of the sacred.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Gaea, I agree it is difficult being a spiritual person trying to chart some kind of course between the secular and the fundamentalists. Sometimes I think the most ordinary experiences can be expressions of the sacred, but only if we are fully aware of them and present in them.

    The lines you quote by David Wright are beautiful, especially "Bellow at cataracts".

    BTW, I love your new blog header and layout ;-)