I love this description of body and mind as co-partners in our spiritual awakening.
..."Once again then, we find that even with such subtle techniques as “listening to the body,” or “following the breath,” or coming to a more “global sensation” of the body, that the implementation of these techniques is undertaken by permission of the mind. And oddly enough, this continues to escape our notice. It is the mind that still holds the baton.
Very rarely do we come upon a truly reciprocal relation, in which there is a sharing of awareness between body and mind—as co-partners. Yet it is precisely this state of rapport with our earthly companion, that provides an indispensable foundation for the real work of self-study and self-awakening. And as we become more practiced in this way of relating to the body, something interesting occurs. We find that the living presence of this being begins to make itself known to us through its emanations—which we experience as sensation or sensory awareness—and that this enables us to partake of the body’s own field of awareness. Not as object to the mind, but as subject within its own sphere of influence and awareness.
We realize then that we are no longer associated with a “body.” Rather, that we are in the presence of a living being, a being with whom we share the journey towards spiritual awakening.
What is extraordinary about this way of approaching the body is that the experience of it seems so natural. It is also pragmatic in that it has the effect of freeing the attention from its usual deep identification with the tensions (and thus from the physical, mental and emotional habits that are supported by these tensions).
We discover then that this dynamic state of rapport with our living partner grounds us; it grounds our work. Instead of dreaming of the work of spiritual transformation, we live the work. And because we are thus grounded, we become thereby more receptive to the help from above that is always available to transform us—whenever the inner conditions allow this lawfully to take place."
—Don Hoyt, Views from the Real World: Early Talks of Gurdjieff
This piece was written by my dharma brother Michael Erlewine. It explains the values of being in the moment and how we can train ourselves to be more present. Michael is a longtime Buddhist educator and writer. Please check out his website for all his generous teachings. michaelerlewine.com/
You would think that this would be easy, not to mess with the present moment, but in fact it is the hardest of all. Apparently, we have no idea as to how to just let things be as they are and rest in that state. The main problem is “reification,” our habit of gilding the lily, as they say, trying to make everything more real than it is.
Aside from obscuring the moment with the past or leaning into the future, we find it hard to just be in the present moment. We so easily slip into noodling the past or anticipating the future. And even if we do find the present, we can’t help but mess with and constantly try to alter the present with our wishes, fears, druthers, and what-not. We don’t realize that we are altering the present because we have never not-altered the present. If we have, we don’t realize it.
This topic could fill a book. The obvious comment is to not desert the present for the past or future. We don’t have to have the last word every time something untoward happens, especially if it means chasing the past to justify or get our mind right. We can just immediately let what is done be. Rather than put lipstick on a pig, we can let the pig be and not even give it lip service by vilifying it or rationalizing it. We don’t have to give it our attention beyond the millisecond it takes to be aware that it is calling us to think on it.
Of course, the same goes to worrying or anticipating the future. Sure, watch your step and where you are going, but the future does not need us to walk it in to the present. It can present itself and will. And anything short of being a fire alarm, we wait for. Our habitual tendency to worry everything (past of future) is just a bad habit. As I used to tell my dog when he came up with a dead animal in his mouth, “Drop it!”
And back to reification: If all we do in the present moment is reify this, that, and the other thing, feeling, or mood, that is like creating a cloud in an otherwise cloudless sky. Trying to make life (and the moment) more real than it is (reification) overpowers the pure signal of the moment with its noise. We don’t need to pimp reality. As my first true dharma teacher used to say to me (many times. “Michael, my God is no beggar. He doesn’t need me to make the ends meet; they already meet.”
The purity of the moment cannot be embellished by our insecurities. That’s the definition of purity. It’s already pure and does not need our mental graffiti to look better. Let well enough alone. It’s just a bad habit, our wanting to signature and leave our mark on everything. It’s like kids writing on the walls. Annotating life with what we already know is oxymoronic. It’s just a bad case of hiccups on our part, so to speak.
Or, our fear of silence and the need to endlessly fill every moment with inner chatter. That’s just whistling in the dark on our part. I like that that old quote from Psalm 46-10 that says “Be Still and Know that I am God.” That’s the right idea, but as a non-theist I would have to say something like. “Be Still and Know the Nature of the Mind.” LOL.
The present moment in its purity is not a white-board that is better for our mental scribbling, which brings us to the next and final word of advice from Tilopa, to “Relax, as it is.” Rest, I will comment on that soon.
Simply put, the concept of “Don’t alter the present” reminds me of how the old folksong puts it:
“Take your fingers off it, and don't you dare touch it. You know it don't belong to you.”
I first learned about Dorothy through her interview with Andrew Harvey. Immediately, I began to read her books and then was honored to begin developing a personal friendship with her. She is indeed one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Dorothy is blessed with the gift of vision into the unseen realms through a profound kundalini awakening. She shares the beauty of her experiences through her writing, poems and book readings.
I came down
as a small seed
buried in earth.
I did not recall
nor my intended goal.
I was a particle
of some larger self,
some vaster being
choosing to shrink
parted the darkness,
called by the sun.
I bloomed as a wayward flower;
bewildered at such sameness surrounding,
I turned in another direction
apart from the others
who seemed to hear
some other rhythm,
to direct their course.
When I took form as a person
I was quietly alone,
till at last the Goddess
held me in Her arms.
And then something else
a reality vast and incomprehensible,
the Goddess unveiled.
I mated with this unknown element
until it became who I was.
And then I was given glimpses
of my original self,
what I had been elsewhere
at the beginning
of this journey,
how I flowed toward
this essence now.
Each fiber and molecule
now vibrated at a new frequency
as I expanded into yet another form,
a being who could move subtly,
ecstasy filling her veins,
caress her own aura in bliss,
feel the sweet energies of earth
or of others as they passed by.
At last I knew my source,
the reality from which I came,
who I was fused with now
and the field of love
A message from one of my early esteemed teachers,
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche...
You should appreciate yourself, respect yourself, and let go of doubt and embarrassment so that you can proclaim goodness and basic sanity for the benefit of others. The self-existing energy that comes from letting go is called windhorse in the Shambhala teachings. Wind is the energy of basic goodness, strong, exuberant, and brilliant. At the same time, basic goodness can be ridden, or employed in your life, which is the principle of the horse. When you contact the energy of windhorse, you can naturally let go of worrying about your own state of mind and you begin to think of others. If you are unable to let go of your selfishness, you might freeze windhorse into ice.
and this one from 'Smile at Fear', pp123.
When goodness and virtue are awakened through the sitting practice of meditation, you train yourself to have good posture and to harmonize your mind and your body. The goodness or virtue develops naturally in your speech and throughout your life, and you find the gunuine way of working with other (...) When we are resentful, we are somewhere else, because we are preoccupied with something else. Being a warrior is simply being here without distraction and preoccupation. And by being here, we become cheeful. We can smile at our fear.
image: Windhorse—hand crafted copper repoussé gilded with platinum and gold leaf—mounted with tourmalines, garnet and other gems—mounted on brocade with gilded frame— sold to a private collector. The windhorse is the pivotal element in the centre of the animals symbolizing the four cardinal directions and the idea of well-being and good fortune. Fom the Exhibition of Sacred Art at the Guru Bhumtsok for World Peace 2018 in Hobart, artist Martin Watson.
Wise words from Toko-pa Turner on the unseen worlds and how we lost touch with method of accessing the wisdom the the ancients.
“There is a world behind this world. The old cultures used to be in constant conversation with it through the sacred practices of storytelling, dreaming, ceremony, and song. They invited the Otherworld to visit them, to transmit its wisdom to them, so that they might be guided by an ancient momentum. But as we succumbed to the spell of rationalism, the living bridge between the worlds fell into disrepair. As fewer made the journey back and forth across the door sill where the two worlds touch, we forgot how to find the Otherworld. At any given moment, we are either turning away from or coming into congruence with our kinship with mystery.”
—Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner
Dorothy Walters is a dear mentor of mine and I treasure all her writing, guidance and her very being. Andrew Harvey considers her to be the greatest living mystic poet. I feel so honored to have this special relationship with her. Here is one poem of the many of hers I will post on this blog.