Tag Archives: death

Healing from Within

I was about 9 years old when I was walking thru a frozen forest, shouldered my pellet gun, and discovered the great transformative silence of death as a chickadee fell from the branch.  In 2003, my father was killed in a work accident. Later in life I came to live and practice in a holy place between the cremation grounds of Varanasi, India; the chosen abode of Lord Shiva. When my grandfather passed away, we shared our fear of death and brought peace to the whole family. That light and purity of a new born baby also shines in the eyes of those who burn for that final release from the wheels of time. All of our lives we seek the flavour that will quench our thirst, but eventually, we thirst for the most unthinkable mystery; death.

The movement of the breath is controlled by the Great Spirit in the Sky of Consciousness and it comes and goes; starts and stops only by that ultimate grace. The power of Great Spirit is raw and pure when we go thru the great transformations of birth and death. Between these two great moments lie all the smaller cycles of the breath and the days and the seasons and so much more that we can experience fully and deeply as we experience that great birth and death of the body. This is the experience of reality.

Yoga and spirituality suggest we can experience a deeper reality  if we look at life beyond our individual experience and experience life in relation to the universal expression of consciousness; of spirit; of spanda; Shiva’s self expression thru his powers; his Shaktis. We are so much more than these limited bodies and the experiences we have in this lifetime; we are intimately connected to the whole span of time and everything that has and will exist. We are not just a part of this universe, we are this universe. The truth is so mindbogglingly beautiful and wonderful that we can only experience it as that…… astonishing beauty, dazzling amazement and wonder. We’ve all felt this as some time in our lives. This is the experience of reality,

There is little difference between letting go of our egos so that we can transform ourselves in this life, or doing so so that we can prepare for the next life. In either case, we want to turn our awareness towards the truth of who we really are here and now releasing ourselves from the past and the future; releasing ourselves from our own stories. Each time we transform ourselves we seek to reach a higher consciousness; we want that positive growth which which will benefit not only ourselves, but our families and communities and the universe as a whole. It’s that universal connection and experience of non-difference that we seek, but which remains, for most of us, just out of reach. Like a shy damsel, ultimate reality casts only the most fleeting glimpse from the corner of her eye. And this is were we must also seek out that ultimate reality: in those dark corners of our mind and along the edges of our breath and our thoughts and between all things which seem distinct.

Between you and me is some chemistry which brings us into perfect and blissful union because it allows both of us to taste the ripened fruits of our individual karma while contributing, each in our own special way, to the collective karma that ties us all together. We call activity karma when we experience it a force of limitation that separates; but when we experience activity as a force of freedom and play arising and falling away from the same place, bringing everything together, activity is then called Kriya (the spontaneous activity of one who experiences life as universal agency (the actor) and preceiving subjectivity (the witness)).  This is the experience of life; reality; divinity.  ​

We are all on this path of healing together. Together we will grow and evolve; find the courage to face our fears and overcome the false limitations we put on ourselves. To do this we practice being open and honest to the reality of the moment while applying our most sincere efforts to whatever activity is at hand. This sincerity is especially important for healing and spirituality, since it provides us with the impulse and the will to gather the necessary knowledge and put it into a meaningful action. Tapping into this personal sincerity for healing is what we mean by healing from within.

Arrival to Varanasi: Fall 2014

I was welcomed to the City of Light this year by a cycle rickshaw ride from the train station that was a nice change from the ever-frantic auto rickshaws. The familiar odors of the city rose up to greet me as well: The pungency of burning garbage, the sour of urine, and the sweetness of Ganga as her shore retreat after monsoon. These familiar smells were joined at this time by those emanating from the heaps of goat, buffalo and camel parts that were discarded following the Muslim festival of Id. The city tried to suppress the smell under white lime but to little effect in the heat and humidity.

The old man cheerfully peddling the bike stopped two other rickshaw wallas to collect money from them. He was a shrewd and demanding businessman, let there be no doubt. He collected some money from both: a sum total of 70 R’s (or about a $1.30). And although this collection happened right in front of me, he somehow had no change when it came time for me to pay the bill of 80 R’s. To his great disappointment I found some change to pay him with.

Last year when I was here, there was a week when the corps of a puppy seemed to be following me around town. I saw it first when another puppy was dragging its already rotting corps along the banks of the river. Despite his hunger and his youth he seemed to recognize that something was wrong with the picture: a puppy eating the bloated corpse of another puppy. I continued to see the same corpse sitting along side several other garbage heaps before the climactic final viewing of a bicycle stopping at a busy intersection of the alleyways only to have his back tire slid out from under him as it dragged the slippery corpse beneath it.

This year I took note of the rather fresh kitten corpse with one eye blankly fixed on the sky. As I write this, the same kitten already showed up near another alleyway garbage heap about 200m away.

Two years ago when I arrived at the alleyways from the train station with my girlfriend at the time we enter a short distance behind a group of devotees following their guru down to Ganga. Guruji had no lack of enthusiasm. When enroute to Ganga they came across a momma cow taking a pees, he took that auspicious moment to scoop the urine with his hands and throw it at his devotees who were trembling with excitement. We who were clustered with them were not quite so overjoyed. My girlfriend, whose first time it was in Varanasi, felt quite the opposite as she trembled with disgust. She later explained that coming from a Muslim culture she could not imagine a religion or culture more opposed to Muslim ways than the ways of Hinduism.

The local drug-dealing duo managed to harass me four times on my first day with such persistence that it’s already become a comedy. They have been coming to me with the same light hearted persistence every single time I have seen them over the past seven years. Our final meeting of the day culminated in a heart to heart over why I haven’t bought anything from them in six years. In his own defence he told me about how he’s changed over that time: he got married, had a child and actually gives away much of his profit to a disabled woman and her daughter. He asked for a second chance to once again acquire my trust and friendship. I told him he had a month to become a human being and not just the local drug pusher.

Amongst this backdrop were hugs and warm welcoming’s, news about friends who were missing from their usual posts, and many friendly welcoming smiles amongst the usual stares of curiosity.

My studies in Astrology continued immediately as well. Sanjay seemed as eager to get back to it as I am. I found again the spirit of astrology that seems to be getting lost in the details of my self-studies in Canada.

It feels good to back to a place that for some reason makes more sense to me. Where consumerism is on an individual level between two people rather than between a corporation and a consumer. But mostly I’m happy to be again with with people who share my passion for philosophy as a path of spirituality. Study as tapasia, conversation as satsang, mere sitting and going about town acting as asana. It all seems so easy here in isolation from my work and my car and the many other so called “conveniences” of western living.

Om Namah Shivaya

Simple Man goes for breakfast

It was 8:57 when the young waitress held the door open for the simple man to enter. They said very little to each other as she showed him to his seat and brought him a coffee. Outside, the sun was still rising in a clear sky. Inside, the simple man was reading a book and the diner was steadily filling with people.

The simple man knew it was Sunday, and he knew what Sundays meant in the diner business, but he thought of none of this as he read his book. The place was full by the time he looked up again. Families and couples and church groups had filled the place with their presence, and the lobby was full of more waiting to take their place.

When the waitress came by again, the simple man spoke to her for a moment before she led a young, unshowered couple to his table. They were shy as they sat; shy with him and shy with each other. They’d just met the night before.

The simple man put his book down and greeted the couple warmly. They were relieved for the distraction. After their coffees arrived and introductions were made and a comfortable atmosphere established at the table, the young girl asked the simple man if he’d been to church that morning. He hadn’t, but thought it might be a good idea. He hadn’t been to more than a dozen church services in his life.

The young girl had stopped going to church about a year ago; towards the end of her first year of Uni. The young man had never been inside one, never thought much about it and didn’t really (with a shrug) care whether there was a god or not.

Although she was not fully conscious of it, the young girl felt deep pity for his spiritual ignorance. Not the sort of pity that would draw her closer to him and allow him to possibly “score” again, but the sort of pity that drew her away from him in the way a leader must stand apart from the led. From that moment of pity they knew where they stood and the possibility of becoming friends opened up.

The simple man and the young girl talked about God for a while. They had very different but satisfactory views on the matter. She saw god as a creator, he saw god as the created. Her church was a small town church and her family was friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, with the pastor – “he was nice man.”

The trio at the table all agreed that the church establishment and many of the parishers were hypocrites, but they reminded themselves that you can’t blame the teachings for the institution that disseminates them, nor for the way people choose to interpret and live by them. The teachings themselves, they agreed, are sound – if somewhat outdated.

The young man, who had been quietly listening, began to bristle. He didn’t understand very much of any of it. It’s not as if you need a book to tell you that killing is bad.

But once again, he betrayed his ignorance, for although we all know killing is bad, we don’t all agree on what killing is. We can’t even decide outright when killing another person is bad, but then we have to consider everything else we kill for food or pleasure or inattention.

The Jains cover their mouths and sweep before the walk to avoid the accidental death of even the tiniest insect. Most Christians freely eat meat without the slightest thought given to the animal that has been killed for them. So even though we might all know that killing is bad, the books and the teachings will hopefully help each of us to weigh, in our own conscience, what the meaning is of, “Thou shall not kill.”

The young man thought that this was going to far and did not understand what killing a cow had to do with morality. But this brought on a whole new conversation about the meaning of morality.

The young girl brought up the golden rule about doing unto others as you’d have done to yourself, and again mentioned the Ten Commandments. The young man added things like loyalty and honour. They all agreed that morals had to do with relationships, and, they added, the reward for a moral life was contentment and peace of mind.

But if it’s our relationships that determine our morality, what about out relationship with the cow, it can’t be very good if we’re killing and eating it without thought. Would this poor relationship not then cause us some disquiet? Many tribal societies that eat meat quell this disquiet by honoring the animal in sacrifice. The hallal meat that the Muslims eat is also duly honored upon slaughter. But considering we no longer allow humans to be honored and sacrificed to the gods, we have to further question whether honoring something is enough to quell the disquiet in our hearts and minds.

For a holy man, even the potatoes he digs from the ground feed him in sacrifice. But, he believes, the earth feeds him this bounty the way a mother feeds milk to a child. For the mother, as for the earth there is much to be gained in giving.

A deep silence overtook the table as the three of them thought about the paradox of gaining by giving. The young girl, thinking of herself as the child, wondered how much her own mother might be sacrificing for her, and how much pain she might be causing her. The young man thought of himself as the mother and wondered how he might gain by giving away, but the thought soon passed as he could thing of nothing to give. The simple man wished he was more like the mother and capable of freely and lovingly giving his all, but knew he was just a child, ignorant of the world he was in but reassuringly guided by the hand of his mother.

These thoughts faded away as the young couple collected their bill and left. The simple man, feeling the young couple now needed some space waited a few minutes before he too walked blindly into a world where anything can happen.

Routine of Danger

This morning I read that smokers wish to die at least as much as they wish to live.

I wonder about that as I sit alone in my dingy hotel room inhaling the warm rancid smoke of my cigarette. Several times this week I have woken up and gone into work and looked around at the dangers that surrounded me and thought, “today I think I will be killed, the best and the worst I can hope for is that my body will merely be broken and agonizing pain will be my life.” I see it all happen in my mind. I see myself rejecting peoples sympathies and thinking myself some kind of hero. As I work around high pressure gas lines, I see the news paper headlines announcing that a son was killed by an exploding gas line the same as the father. I see people thinking about this strange coincidence and friends, especially those few who know my father, talking about it with others and holding onto the story and treasuring it as if it were their own.

On Thursday, we were fixing a water leak. It was a wet muddy hell of a hole. The banks were crumbling everywhere. Our feet were most often stuck where we placed them until we could dig them out. I was shoveling that shit with Charlie when out of the blue he very slowly calmly said me name, “Mike.” I didn’t look. I didn’t say anything. I just slowly and calmly stepped to the side just in time for several thousands of pounds of clay to fall into the place where I was standing. I didn’t even look to watch it fall, I merely went back to shoveling as if it was routine. And guess it is.

I wonder sometimes if my embrace of life’s dangers has any connection to Freud’s “death wish”?