transformation

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

Total Eclipse of Internal Interference

The real magic happens when we become intimately familiar with the moment-by-moment experience of being alive. Instead of trying to force complete experiences to happen. I focus on setting the stage for them to happen by exercising my attention. 

When remembering to notice that we're alive becomes a habit, we begin to erode the internal friction that obscures our view of the richness we're swimming in every day.

Benefits Before Mastery

Benefits Before Mastery

Mindfulness meditation is extraordinarily simple to describe, but it isn't easy to perform. True mastery might require special talent and a lifetime devotion to the task, and yet a genuine transformation in one's perception of the world is within reach for most of us. Practice is the only thing that will lead to success.

~ Sam Harris

The Story Begins to Live and Breathe

Excerpt from Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic by Adyashanti

Topiary Park, April 20, 2014Transmutation is what transfiguration and relinquishment make possible. In it, your orientation to life is entirely selfless. It's not that you want to be selfless or you're practicing being selfless: rather you're selfless in the sense of no self. 

For this transition to happen, one has to go through the death of the ego. Certain aspects of the transmutation may occur earlier in our own journey, but the crucifixion or relinquishment must be complete for it to happen in full. At that point, really, the only thing left to do is to be a selfless, benevolent presence in the world—there's really nothing else to do, nothing else that makes sense. Whatever that may look like—and it looks different for different people—that's where the whole process ends up. 

In the Jesus story, this stage is termed the resurrection. Out of death is resurrected a new life, which really means a new orientation. That movement, that long turning from self-orientation to selfless orientation now comes to fruition. This is where the journey culminates for Jesus, and this is where it ultimately culminates for anyone who's taken the journey of awakening.  

The story of Jesus mirrors back the journey of spiritual awakening for anyone who has the eyes to see it or the experience to notice it. I believe this is among the most powerful lenses through which to view the story, because from this perspective the story begins to live and breathe as a metaphor. 

Jesus doesn't live anything out in a small fashion; everything in his story is writ large. This makes it easier for us to see that he's depicting a journey of awakening. We shouldn't expect to live out our own journey in the same fashion and, fortunately, we don't have to, though our journey will certainly have its own challenges and intensity. 

The mystery of the story of Jesus is the same as the mystery of you and me and everyone: we are all God appearing as man and as woman, divine being manifesting as human being. They're actually two sides of the same coin. They're one and the same thing; it's only our minds that separate divinity and humanity. We separate them in our mind and in our experience, but the whole spiritual journey is finally to see that they aren't separate, that they never were separate...

And when you reorient your life toward this realization, then you understand: you so loved the world, you had so much compassion, you had so much love that you poured yourself forth into life, and that pouring forth was your birth. You are here to redeem whatever you encounter in this life, to wake up within everything the deep reality of its divine existence. 

The kingdom of heaven is spread upon earth and men do not see it. When you see this, you shift from being a victim of your life and assigning blame for the tragedy you encounter. The truth, I would suggest, is that you poured yourself willingly into form of infinite love in order to redeem the entirety of this life. When seen from that perspective, all of a sudden life looks different. You stop holding back from life, your inner life or the life around you, because the kingdom of heaven is within and all around you. That's the message of the Jesus story.  


See also: 

Eating Light

Self Help 
by Katie Peterson, from T Magazine, April 3, 2014 (read by the poet)

The eye is the lamp of the body so I tried
to make a world where all I ate was light. Butterflies
complete a similar labor in the summer
garden, beating their wings slowly like a healthy
person, the kind of person who runs for fun, could
run from an attacker, eats greens in the same
quantity as the salty meats the storytelling part
of us appears to favor. I couldn’t decide
whether I wanted to stay alive or wanted to go
faster, they appeared to contradict each other, I tried
in all I did to eat light. I left the argument
about the difference between a slave and a servant
on the table though I think what I think is that
consent to servitude is as much a fiction as a butterfly
having a nervous breakdown because of the beauty
of the lavender. The longer your hunger takes
to find a shape the longer you can hold it. Consider the butterfly,
only at rest in the middle of consumption, but even
then practicing for departure, for disappearance,
closing in the middle of the landscape.
Trying to manage a world in which all you eat
is light is difficult. Labor, and the lungs should be like wings
of the butterfly beating, closing, slowly, the moonlight
tensing the edge of each, almost lifting the edge of each
towards the middle distance. So all that I consume
can make me healthy, illuminate my throat
and the interstate of my digestive tract
with what a butterfly’s been swimming in.


See also: Why Not Start Apprenticing Now? and Seattle Woman Naveena Shine Drops Attempt to Live on Light

Embracing Limitations

"We must first become limited in order to become limitless...Learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations is the best hope we have to transform ourselves and to collectively transform our world." 

~ Phil Hansen, from "Embrace the Shake," TED Talks, May 2013   

Philinthecircle's YouTube Channel

Orphaned Ones

They Have Come as Light in Disguise to Unlock a Secret Inside You
by Matt Licata, from A Healing Space

Will you provide a home for the unwanted? Will you offer refuge for the intensity that is surging through you? Will you grant asylum to your own confusion? Will your give safe harbor to your grief, your sadness, and your despair? Will you risk everything to know how whole you really are? 

As a little one, it was intelligent to split off from overwhelming emotional experience; it was an act of kindness and creativity to disembody in order to protect your developing nervous system. It is all so fragile, really. You opened your world to those around you, to get what you needed; you were wired for love. It was too much to hold it all, though, to let in the disappointment and the abandonment, and the possibility that you were not lovable exactly as you were. This you could not let in. Your little heart could not absorb the implications.  

But these disowned parts of you these fragments of fear, pieces of sadness, and particles of shame; even the shards of joy, great excitement, and other undigested “positive” experiences – are calling for you. They are knocking at the door of your body and your heart, seeking a sanctuary where they can finally be touched and metabolized. What you are is love itself, a luminous space of pure awareness, with a capacity to hold and transform whatever comes into your experience. You are a vast field of intelligence; your body is made of the stars. 

Friends, will you continue to turn from these orphaned ones within? Or will you allow them to finally come inside? Will you receive the transmission that they have come to bestow? Yes, it may appear that they have arrived as agents of darkness and despair, but things are rarely as they seem. These ones have come as light in disguise to unlock a secret inside you.

Small Wins and Deliberate Mediocrity

"Tiny goals, even absurdly tiny ones, can be an effective way to sneak under the radar of your mind, which always stands ready to procrastinate on, or otherwise resist, bigger ambitions: you might laugh at the idea of doing 15 seconds of exercise, but for exactly that reason, you’re also much less likely to resist it. (The next day, make it 20 seconds, and so on.)"

~ Oliver Burkeman

As If The Intention Of What You Are Doing Has Left

Make-up artist Lois Burwell, on the process of transforming Daniel Day Lewis into Abraham Lincoln (The Business, December 10, 2012): 

"Part of the process we used is called stretch and stipple. You actually need four hands, not two, because you want to hold the skin, paint it, and then use a blow dryer -- on cool so you don't bake him -- to speed up the process. But you actually need four hands. But also you make it efficient and speedy, but we had to learn how to do it together so that there wasn't a feeling of two hands on the face moving separately from each other rather than in conjunction.

If you think of the difference between a massage and two people having a go separately, how that would feel. That's really distracting. So we actually practiced. It's rather like some strange, hip-hop handshake is the only way I can describe it. Doing a make-up simultaneously.

And of course we were in silence, so we mouthed to each other -- eyes, mouth -- you know, just mouthing it...To be perfectly honest, I actually quite like making up people in silence, if I'm really truthful. And fortunately, with Daniel, that is what he liked. So we dovetailed. I don't want to sound pretentious, but the only way I can describe it, is when your hands are working on a face, after a period of time, it's as if the intention of what you're doing has left you -- and the thought process -- and the hands [are] doing it by themselves. So you lose yourself in it. So someone asks you a question, you're sort of broken from it. And it's really hard then to find where you were and begin again. "

State of Grace

December 2, 2012

Excerpt from The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector

Listen, don't be afraid: remember that I ate of the forbidden fruit and yet was not struck down by the orgy of being. So, listen: that means I shall find even greater refuge than if I had not eaten of life. . . Listen, because I dived into the abyss I started to love the abyss of which I am made. Identity can be dangerous because of the intense pleasure that could become mere pleasure. But now I'm accepting loving the thing!

And it's not dangerous, I swear it's not dangerous. 

Since the state of grace exists permanently: we are always saved. All the world is in a state of grace. A person is only struck down by sweetness when realizing that we are in grace, the gift is feeling that we are in grace, and few risk recognizing that within themselves. But there is no danger of perdition, I know now: the state of grace is inherent. 

Listen. I was only used to transcending. Hope for me was postponement. I had never let my soul free, and had quickly organized myself as a person because it is too risky to lose the form. But now I see what was really happening to me: I had so little faith that I have invented merely the future, I believed so little in whatever exists that I was delaying the present for a promise and for a future. 

But now I discover that one doesn't even need hope. 


See also:

Into the Change

Topiary Park, November 4, 2012

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower
by Rainer Maria Rilke, from In Praise of Mortality: Selections from Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus (translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows) 

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29


See also: "A Wild Love for the World," On Being, March 17, 2011

Letting Ourselves Experience the Vulnerability

Inniswood Metro Gardens, August 23, 2010

Excerpt from The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self, and Relationship by David Whyte:

We think that if we investigate the self we will find out there is something wrong at the core, and we want to defend against that revelation at all costs. The surface personality feels as if it is going to  die and becomes deathly afraid of the conversation. The task is to shift the identity more toward the movable conversation that stands behind us, a deep undercurrent we can tap into that carries on unconcerned with the surface tribulations. In this depth we try to create a real silence in which to keep our long-standing, well-established, self-protective stories away, to let ourselves alone so we can experience the physical vulnerability of the question and be transformed by it. We give these smaller protective stories away so that we can see how they come back to us once we have established a larger way of being in the world.

We call this unremitting wish to create a silence in which to see to the truth meditation. The outer form looks like silence as we see a practitioner sitting quietly, but meditation can take many forms, beginning usually with simply following the breath, getting to the very foundations of the way we physically give and take. It can be quite revealing to find out how much willpower we put into that autonomic bodily function; we find that we are controlling a process that can be left well alone and doesn't need so much outside intervention...

We could see meditation as the equivalent of the kitchen or a bedroom in a marriage. It's the place where most of the significant transformative conversations happen; significant conversations that may be silent but that can shift the relationship with the self to a new level. The act of physical transformation can at times be an almost ecstatic, sexual experience. It can also be a fierce, unrelenting and prolonged daily confrontation. 

...

What is needed in a marriage with the self is what is needed in the marriage to another: a radical letting alone of our partner, the deeper self, to let it live its own life without our necessity for a constant, overarching control. We must stop trying to protect that deeper, more vulnerable self from the way it feels things keenly and at their essence. This self that we are attempting to "marry" can look after itself as much as our partner can. Its vulnerability is not a weakness but actually a faculty for understanding what is about to happen. It does not wish to survive its encounters with its previous reality intact and untouched; it actually wants to be transformed by what it meets. In a sense it wants to be the conversation itself. 


See also: This Difficulty Feels Like This

 

Acknowledging Your Fear Rather Than Pushing It Away

Excerpts from "Meredith Monk's Voice," a conversation with Krista Tippett, On Being, February 16, 2012:

Krista Tippett: I always see you also insisting that music is about waking up. I mean, I don't know if those two things have to be in tension, but I sense that, if you had to choose between transcendence and waking up and being right there in that moment, you would choose the latter. Just saying, I mean, live performance is as direct and awake and experience one hopes as anything we do.

Meredith Monk: That's also, again, so interesting because actually I don't see those two things as opposites. I actually think that, when you are that present and you are that awake and the audience actually experiences themselves, you know, the deepest part of themselves, then the whole situation becomes transcendent because we're not — the way we live our lives is not necessarily with that level of presence.

And also certainly in this society, we're taught to actually be distracted and diverted all the time from feeling, in a sense, you could say the pain — the good pain, you know, the pain as in openheartedness and rawness of the moment, the pain as well as the pleasure, everything in one in that moment.

...

Meredith Monk: Your practice is very simple, but it's very much about how are you in the world? You know, how do you look at the person that's counting change for you in the grocery store or how do you deal with a person that you don't get along with well? How are you waking up all the time to see what the moment is? How are you on the subway? How are you when something really bad happens to you? You know, just how do you become a citizen in this world and perpetuate nonviolence and, you know, there are many, many aspects to it.

And one of them is about and fear and fearlessness. And it's about acknowledging your fear rather than pushing it away because a part of the violence comes from not even acknowledging that you're afraid. It's actually that you're afraid of the fear.

And then what happens, that gets pushed down and then that gets transformed into anger or violence. I mean, so much of the world that we're living in now, you know, what's going on and the way that people are manipulated or these wars or violent situations come from basic fear and terror, not in terms of terrorism, but terror, human terror. So I started thinking about that and then I've started working on a song that's called "Scared Song."

meredith monk - scared song from jean&jeano on Vimeo.

I've been noticing that the older that I get, the simpler the work gets in a way. I mean, in a way it's more refining it from something very complex to something very simple. One of the beauties of being an artist is that it is timeless. You know, the funny thing is, it doesn't get any easier. I mean, you would think that I've been working for so many years that, oh, I can make a piece so easily, but I think what I do is I put myself through the same process of going to zero every time and, you know, this kind of risky situation, so sometimes I think why do I do this and why isn't it easier now after all these years?

But I actually think that that's what does keep you very young because you're always questioning. You know, I think that making art is actually about questions and that you never take anything for granted and you're in this slightly dangerous situation, which I think is really good. Then I always say that I'm scared to death.

We learn in Buddhist practices to tolerate the unknown, because that's reality. The reality is that we don't know anything, and we really don't know what's going to happen in the next moment. So you learn to tolerate that discomfort of not knowing and fear. I mean, every time, I'm just terrified. I'm actually terrified. I realize this even now working on this piece.

When I perform, I'm still nervous, which I think is a good sign because it means that you still have passion for what you're doing. But every time I make something new, it's never like, oh, this is going to be so easy. No, it's always this terror and then I sit with that for a while and then I say to myself, "Step by step," and then I just start working and it's a step-by-step kind of process. And then, at a certain point, I realize I'm so interested in this. Then once that interest comes in or curiosity comes in, then the fear goes away. So it's very interesting that curiosity is a great antidote to fear.

 

Unknowing Transformers of Things

“I love your silence. It is so wise. It listens. It invites warmth. I love your loneliness. It is brave. It makes the universe want to protect you. You have the loneliness that all true heroes have, a loneliness that is a deep sea, within which the fishes of mystery dwell. I love your quest. It is noble. It has greatness in it. Only one who is born under a blessed star would set sail across the billowing waves and the wild squalls, because of a dream. I love your dream. It is magical. Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the world, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are the unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”

~ Ben Okri, from Astonishing the Gods

[Thanks, Deborah!]

Transformation as Opposed to Change

Excerpts from a conversation between Charlotte Joko Beck (March 27, 1917 - June 15, 2011) from "Life's Not a Problem," by Amy Gross, Tricycle, Summer 1998:

New students usually learn to experience their body and label their thoughts. I don’t mean to analyze thoughts or pick them apart...I like people to just recite their thoughts back. If you do that for three or four years, you’ll know a lot about how your mind operates.

“Having a thought about Mary...Having a thought that I really don’t like Mary...Having a thought that I can’t stand the way she bosses everyone around.” That’s the way we think, right?

In time, as we watch our thoughts our thinking becomes more objective. But most people, instead of just having a thought about Mary, go further: “Gosh, I can’t stand her; she really makes me mad.” Now they’ve got an emotion. What we need to learn to do is to see the thought as a thought, and then feel the body tighten. The body is going to tighten if you’re angry with somebody, right? So just be the tightening. Forget the thinking at this point, and just be the anger, the tension or vibration. When you do that, you’re not trying to change your anger. You’re just being with it, totally. Then it is able to transform itself.

That’s transformation as opposed to change — a critical difference. Religion always is trying to change you: you know, “You’re not a good girl; be a good girl.” But here, in labeling and experiencing, you’re learning to be less emotional, less caught by every passing thing that goes on in your head. The anger gets a little weaker, a little less demanding, and at some point, you begin to notice the difference. Something that would have made you jump with anger — you can watch it. The observer is beginning to grow. And in experiencing the bodily tension, you’re not suppressing the emotion; you’re feeling it. You’re transforming the dualism of self-centered thoughts, opinions, and emotions into the non-dualism of direct experiencing...

I don’t think you see [emptiness]. You have to be it. Emptiness simply means an absence of reactivity. When you relate to somebody, there’s not you and me and your little mind running its little comparisons and judgments. When those are gone, that is emptiness. And you can’t put it into words. That’s the problem for people. They think there’s some way to push for an experience such as emptiness. But practice is not a push toward something else. It’s the transformation of your self. I tell people, “You just can’t go looking for these things. You have to let this transformation grow.” And that entails hard, persistent, daily work. I simply wouldn’t let an irritable thought go through my mind without noting, “Oh, that’s interesting. What’s going on here?” I don’t mean analyzing it, but just stopping. There has to be that ability to stand back and say, “Yeah, interesting that I do that.” Right there. I may go back to it if I’m busy talking to you. But it’s been registered. I’m not going to let that one go by; it’s too interesting. It’s not good or bad. It’s just interesting to note that you do that...

What primarily concerns me is the necessity for a student to learn to be as awake as possible in each moment. Otherwise it can seem as if the point of practice is to have breakthroughs. The usefulness of these openings exists only if they clarify life and our ability to live it and serve it. But until mind and body - usually through years of patient practice — cease to want an ego-centered life, the openings and their teachings cannot be distorted into ego successes. Only when mind and body are mostly free of reactivity can a true understanding of what life is become possible — not through a momentary breakthrough, but through an open and compassionate living of life.

Read the entire interview here...