Monday, May 28, 2012

Knowing Yourself

To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is.  - Krishnamurti

It seems to me that we come to know each other only in reflection to the experiences we have with people, places, and things.  It would then seem plausible to think that we may come to know ourselves in a habitual manor when the people, places, and things of our lives become customary.  But what happens when everything around us changes?  What happens when we no longer witness our reflection the same way?  This begs the question, can we ever truly understand ourselves?

I have not yet reached my final destination and settled into my new home on the west coast, but as I find my self here in Texas, witnessing my emersion into new people and experiences, I feel as if it may have been possible that I really never understood my self.  What I mean to say is that while I was in New York and everything was customary I became tied to the definitions I held and thoughts I had about myself.  In a static environment this happens to us all.

So what do I mean by understanding myself?  Well let me first clarify.  I do feel that there is always a timeless aspect to all of us that transcends all the self declarations of who we think we are.  This is the knower from within that guides us and pushes us to develop our innate skills, but witnessing this aspect of ourself does not mean that we understand ourselves.  For example, you may be a great cook, but that does not define your existence.  Cooking is an act.  Not something definite. because the act is always changing and evolving.  Just like the fact that tomorrow is always a mystery so too is the person we are developing into.  And it seems that this absolute sense of self is as transitory and mysterious as the future.

Our fears typically revolve around the unknowable and it seems that what causes us our greatest anxiety is change.  But change on the exterior of our lives is necessary in order for us to come to witness different aspects of who we are.  I am not saying I do not fear change, but in spite of it I must face it in order to grow.  I feel that we can all relate to this principle.  This is the space where liberation occurs and peace is found.  In letting go and letting change occur naturally.

So if we become liberated by facing change head on without fear we loose the identifications we have built up about ourselves because we no longer resist what is occurring even in spite that it may run counter to what we wish to experience or what we think we should be experience.  This becomes a peaceful experience when we no longer define ourselves with the thoughts we have about ourselves.  So when you feel like you no longer understand yourself, do not become confused, you are moving closer to understanding your true nature as the timeless and undefinable creature that you are.

This is a life long process that has no end, but liberation is not an end, it is a journey.  So understanding yourself becomes as mysterious and divine as life itself.  This is the beauty of life and the eternal experience that creation has set up before us.  This is why the healers talk about letting go.  New experiences and challenges help you do just that.  So why not take the internal road less traveled and push your boundaries?  You have your whole life to do it.  And you have your whole life to die to your yesterdays and live anew today.  This is more refreshing than you may have imagined.

Image created by Willow Arlenea: The Visionary Art of Willow Arlenea

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Found Myself in Everything

By Rachel Durling

In this age where knowledge is praised ignorance is frowned upon.  Yet ignorance is often essential in order to have a completely pure experience in this world.  It may sound paradoxical, but sometimes greater self awareness can only come by yielding ourselves to non-awareness.  When we have an idea of ¨who we are,¨ or go on a quest to find that person, we create duality.  In defining ourselves we separate ourselves from the core of existence, and as a result we are denied the joy, liberation, and free falling love that submission to that pure existence grants us.

A newborn baby`s eyes are clear, wide, and sparkle with wonder.  Instead of observing this and concluding that it`s something unique to babies and young children why don`t we ask ourselves, what is it about the way they are experiencing the world that makes them shimmer?  We were all babies at one point – we all know how to glow.  In most adults we see that the light has dimmed.  Is this because we have forgotten something, or could it be that we have learned too much?  

Very young children radically accept everything they encounter because they have no basis of comparison.  Children do not yet rationalize their experiences and so they bumble through this rough and tough and beautiful land like mini-Magellans…endlessly testing their minds and bodies with trust and amazement.  They never stop exploring and the greatest gift they don't know they have is that of ignorance.  The simple fact that they don't yet define these things as 'minds' and 'bodies' grants them the freedom to use them in their own terms.

When we become self aware we are met with a huge challenge; to observe our thoughts, actions, and interactions with the purpose of learning and advancing in our personal and spiritual growth while not identifying with these things.  The moment we identify ourselves as anything; a wife, a businessman, an artist, a yoga teacher, a father, a writer, etc, we contaminate ourselves with expectations.  When we free ourselves of the notion that these labels have anything to do with who we are we become more apt to connect with our own true nature and that of the things and people which surround us. This goes as far as liberating ourselves of the pressure that accompanies the anticipation of the outcome of our work and our creations.  In everything we do we must add a touch of ignorance, as if we have never done it before in order to live the experience in its entirety.  

Since a truly unique creation is born in the exact moment of execution, we never really have done it before, have we?

There is so much life that passes our periphery, beauty lost to our awareness, because we have drawn borders around ourselves.  What if we were nothing?  We would still exist, so would that in turn make us everything?  We did not come into this world incomplete.  Self awareness is something that is learned, so we know that without it, we are still complete.

An animal in the wild is not bound by a sense of self and so is free to be exactly what it is.  While hiking through the Bolivian Amazon I encountered a group of wild monkeys calling to each other and swinging through the trees.  The sound of their call shattered all barriers between me and pure existence and I stood in frozen amazement, tears streaming down my cheeks.  It was something that I can not recall ever experiencing, and realized that what had happened was that by observing other beings living in this state of consciousness I was transported back to my birth, to that innocence that allows us to experience everything in its entirety, in the exact moment, as it is.  

This state of consciousness also liberated me from all fear.  I had no fear of death because I did not even identify with my life, rather, there was just life all around me, and I was that life in itself.  I did not identify with my body, so I had no fear of losing it.  I did not identify with my memories, thoughts, and feelings, so I had no fear of losing the ones I love.  This does not imply an indifference to those things.  On the contrary, it brought me closer to everything and everyone I care about.  The monkeys were a bridge.  A bridge is a thing unique in its form, but it is also something that unites one side with another.  So, the monkeys were a bridge that connected me with their state of consciousness, and in my connection with that, I was part of them as well.  

I lost myself to me, and found myself in everything.

By stepping out of ourselves we step into another, and then another, and into an untamed, fresh, world united.  Forget about who you are and relax into the bliss of being, and you will experience this world as the jungle child. Innocent. Free. Wild.

About the author: Rachel is one of my dearest friends. We met in college almost a decade ago. Her perspective and passion for life connected us from the very beginning. Since our college days Rachel has challenged herself by taking the path less traveled. After spending a few years on the west coast she moved south and has been spending the last 4 years of her life in both Central and South America. As a dancer, artist, yogi, writer, and musician she beautifies any environment she finds herself in. Thank you Rachel for your sincere friendship.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Moving Past Uncertainty

As of lately, the realization of the responsibilities that lay before me has stirred up some fear within me.  I worry about how my arrival in the bay area will be.  I do not have a job lined up and I know very few people there.  My companion, my girlfriend, is in the same situation. I am grateful for our partnership as we take on this endeavor, both together as a couple and as individuals.  Still, at times, I feel anxious, uncertain, and I wish I knew how it will all unfold.

In times like these I need to remind myself of why I am doing this.  I ask myself, "what does it feel like when I think of not taking this opportunity and just staying in New York?"  Upon observation...I just begin to feel uncomfortable.

My higher self knows that everything is in its right place.  This inner acknowledgment is what I am holding onto to sustain my courage.  I feel passionate that the move will influence my development and help me grow.  I also feel like I have nothing to lose.  And as some of my teachers remind me, the world does not have to be a scary place.

I am also, at times, finally feeling what it is like to let go of all the worry.  Preparing myself for this move has taught me this in a unique way.  There is a part of me that is feeling confident that everything will happen peacefully and naturally.


Challenging ourselves pushes us to redefine ourselves.  In these bold pursuits we are pushed to broaden our emotional understanding of life and of ourselves.  To me this is the most important process of my life.  I feel that this process helps me understand not only myself more, but existence itself.

When we feel uncertain about a particular situation try to remind yourself of what brings you passion.  When feeling lost seek to reinvigorate yourself by following the hero within that challenges you to take the high road.  Allow what brings you passion to dictate the course of your life.  There of course will be challenges along the way, but these are the experiences that push you to expand the understanding you have about yourself.

Maybe you cannot understand what it is that you are passionate about?  This itself is part of the journey.  If you always knew everything about the direction of your life path you would not have to go through the inner work that helps you navigate this path.  You may have an inclination about what may interest you, but without getting involved and acting upon this inclination you will never truly know.

To know what you want out your life you have to be brave by doing things that are completely new to you and to get involved with new people.  You may never know exactly what you want in the abstraction of the future, but I do bet there is a feeling within that knows exactly how you feel about the current situation.  Assessing your feelings in this moment will bring you into your awareness.  And only in awareness can the next big revelation begin to unravel.

Whether we decide to control of the process or not, we all project what we feel into our intentions in a way that influences the manifestation of our reality. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Moving West

Cleaning out and preparing for a big move can be an emotional experience.  The objects that I feel connected to contain the story of my past.  And in 18 days I take only a very small sliver of my past with me.  Too much baggage will make the path more labored and tiresome.  It is time to accept the fact that I must create a new life for myself in a place I felt connected to since I first visited.

As sad as it has been for me to go through all the old material I know that whatever is going to come out of this move is necessary. Come May 20th, the morning after my brother and his fiancĂ©’s engagement party, I say goodbye …yet the fire of excitement that has been growing within me gives me the courage to keep the faith and get on with it.

As of last week I resigned from my job, tuned up my car, and made my reservations.  A man I had yet to meet has cashed my check and sent me the keys to his apartment, my 2-month sublet, in Berkeley California.  I can’t wait to drive this great country again!  I guess the third time is truly a charm.

I do get nervous at times when my fear triumphs my faith, but I must say there is something about all this uncertainty that makes me feel liberated.  Yet before I do get to ahead of myself I feel it is important for me to honor the past so that I know in my heart where I am coming from and and what I am leaving behind.

Looking back through all the photographs, reading all the journal entries, and taking heartfelt note of all of those amazing people who have come into my life makes me realize that life is extremely precious and that I have been blessed. The love I have taken part in, with all of my family, friends, and lovers, has helped me come to love and understand the hardest person there is to know, myself.  So to all of those whom I may be leaving behind, you will always be with me.

Journeying forward now into the next chapter of my life!