May 27th, 2012

Change

Sometimes it feels as though the only thing that ever happens here is adaptation to constant change.  It’s a well-used and completely apt joke that everything at the ashram changes.  Once a change was announced a week before it was to happen.  Naturally, nothing changed at all; that kind of advance foresight being sure to change a half dozen or so times before a decision finally settles.  The way large decisions are made at the ashram are, as it has been pointed out, a lot like how some native American cultures would make decisions.  Councils are held, ideas brainstormed and talked about for even years sometimes, the conversation can go around – seemingly or literally – in circles for ages.  Then suddenly, something happens.  The decision is made and it Happens.  Quick. It’s pretty fun and keeps me on my toes.

The person in charge of accommodations keeps changing.  It used to be someone for quite some time which then switched suddenly and unexpectedly due to unforeseen circumstances.  The person replacing them came in and is now away for a week.  The person replacing *that person* took a weekend course and was therefore stepping down this weekend.  Yup, life at the ashram.  This element of constant change is somehow folded into my reality and I find myself unexpectedly expecting it.  I can’t get locked into something.  Here’s where the paradox comes in, though, because I *do* get locked into things.  I make these assumptions that change will be constant even while a part of my mind rests contentedly on an illusionary permanence. 

In some way I just assumed that the person stepping into the role of holding accommodations, taking care of ensuring rooms were cleaned and organized as guests arrive and depart, was still here despite it being clear that there were three replacements holding that space.  In this way I feel as though my mind has divisions it creates for itself.  One part knew not to rely on any information and to accept whatever it was that was coming up.  Another part found some sort of peace in thinking a particular person had it under control.  That part was placated and yet still able to be uprooted and rest on the next change that came around.  Perhaps that’s what I’m learning most of all: to remain settled in the myriad of changes that constantly flow my way.  It’s as if my settled state can come quickly and easily; one sharp adjustment taking only a short time before that feeling of peace remains, that feeling of peace that truly underlies all things.  I’m edging my way into understand this more and more deeply.

Surrender

We had a reflection class on surrender the other day.  Asking ourselves to update our version of what the concept means right now and how that is relevant to the now.  During a Divine Light Invocation I had a flash of an outline of a figure standing in a stream.  That’s what surrender means to me right now: an entity full of space – holding no attachments, preconceived ideas, or assumptions – free to exist in the flow of life surrendering to the present moment.  It was a neat exploration.

I’ve been letting go lately in a way that I’ve never experienced before.  It’s been over a month since an evening I sat dumbstruck at my desk, realizing I’d forgotten to do a weekly task that takes about an hour.  It was two minutes to supper.  I had been stretching myself too thin, trying to do it all and therefore letting things slip that didn’t forcefully makes themselves known; like the weekly bank deposit.  I coordinated with my lovely karma yogi accountant who comes in after dinner and completes the process from her end.  She was quick to adapt and support, knowing how much I had happening and that I truly can’t do it all.  The next morning I made some changes in my schedule and things have been going pretty well.

Still I find myself needing to let go.  My practice over the past six months or so has been to do.  Tasks would come up in meetings and I’d volunteer for them, someone was needed to organize something and I’d be there.  I was stretching my preconceived ideas of what it means to act in this world.  I’ve been learning about myself that I can do.  In fact, I’ve been getting so good at it that I have still been finding myself in a position where I need to let things go.  In a meeting this week we decided on something that needed to happen and I instinctually said I could do it and then came right back with the realization that no, I would let someone else take it on.  I was quite proud of myself for recognizing my limits.  This is a new place for me to be in and I’m navigating it as gracefully as I can.  It’s quite empowering to be in the situation of learning how to let things go.  Naturally, maintaining all that I continue to hold gets continually refined as I offer what I can the best I am able.

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Fog

Morning sun made its way to afternoon cloudy dampness.  By dinner the fog had rolled in over the lake.  I could still see the other side, but it was through this hazy smear, uncharacteristically low to the water.  A few tangibly outlined clouds imposed themselves onto the mountain across from me.  The dining room had emptied out, I was in the office late and came to dinner just before it got taken away and the washing up began.  It was lovely, sitting there in that near empty dining room with only one other lingering inhabitant, each of us savouring our dinner.  I watched the fog and sat content.

On my way home I couldn’t help but be drawn to the water.  The fog had moved even closer around me, nuzzling against the trees and wrapping the ashram in its cozy, dewy arms.  I took the steps down to the lake.  Rounding the corner of the prayer rooms to encompass the full view I couldn’t help but smile to myself.  “Is this even real?” I had to ask myself aloud “Is this kind of beauty possible?”  It must be as it is present in the world.  A fog enshrouded lake with monolithic mountains standing firmly behind the gauze of water suspended in air.  The surface of the water was motionless reflecting the greying mist.  But no, that’s not quite true.  I stepped closer to the lake, freeing myself from the moist grass that seeped through my shoes, onto the rocks shifting under my feet as I edged closer to the water.  I saw that the water’s top was alive with countless droplets landing softly on its bed.

I shifted my face skyward to feel the drizzle of rain on my face.  I couldn’t help but think about an image that came to me earlier in the week: a picture of myself peeping over a small forest pool to a giant ruby underneath.  Will looking through the murky depths reveal a reservoir of strength and security within me?  I’ve always been drawn to water.  Being able to metaphorically see clearly through it and freely discover just what is forming my foundation is a gift.  I sometimes get bothered by the rain solely because it leaves spots on my glasses making it harder to me to see clearly.  Now that I’ve started wearing contacts I held my face up towards to sky for a long time, feeling the gentle drizzle of rain.  The water isn’t blurring my vision anymore; I can turn my face to the rain and still see clearly.  Perhaps that broad red ruby is beginning to reveal itself to me.  I’m able to see through the mist.

I’m drawn to this scene so much that I return to the lake after satsang.  I played in the band tonight, a lovely offering with the person leading talking about harmony and having us there to put it into musical practice.  It’s late but I know I want to go back and see more, to simply witness the expanse of misty view that I know awaits me at the water’s edge.

Finding my way down the cobbled steps and around the corner of the prayer rooms once again I am not disappointed.  The light is darker now but the same drip-drip of the collected mist falling off the new leaves accompanies my path to the water.  There are geese out on the water.  Their bodies contrast the flat starkness of the water’s calm.  Somehow I feel as though my heart it pulled out of my chest looking at this lake.  I’m joined by another coming down to enjoy the peace of a drizzly lake in the evening fog.  “It’s like the lines are blurred” she says.  Yeah, that’s it, that’s perhaps why I am so drawn.  The difference between the water, air, clouds and mountains isn’t as obvious in this kind of weather.  Somehow they all seem to merge into one.  Fog is able to do that, twist around everything from the proud tree tops to the rocks jutting out over the lake.  It can encompass everything until it all seems blended into one.  Like harmony, making a single, solid chord yet only because each tone is different.

May 10th, 2012

The chickens have already more than quadrupled their size.  We got them on the Friday of the week they were born; some only a day old.  They’d been hatching for a few days and then came to the ashram.  Paris, the gardener, had set up the place where they were to live during their infancy into adolescence: the front room of the summer kitchen.  They’ve since grown out of it.  I’ll still remember the first day I went to see them, perhaps it was even the Friday they arrived, seeing one tiny chick take a flying leap into the corner, it legs and wings stretched out, and then remain in that position, settled in for a nice nap under the heat lamp.  Baby things.  What it is about small things that will soon become larger than so draws humans?

They have become larger.  They’ve grown too much that, among other reasons, they’ve needed to move out of their first room, their nursery.  The room that basks in the afternoon sun and plateau’s over the meadow’s fabulous view of the lake and mountain range, the room that I have now moved into.  The accommodations team made sure to clean it well (like everything done here at the ashram, with meticulous quality and awareness) and I have settled into my fabulous new space.  It has an interesting mix of solitude and conspicuousness.  The solitude I love, it was one of the reasons I wanted the place to begin with.  I’m the only person in the building, I don’t share walls with anyone, and I can talk to myself as loudly as I want.  It’s great.  Another great thing is the balcony that again, overlooks that amazing view.  The very same view that would stop me in my tracks the first four months I spent here and, who am I kidding, still can two years later.  An added dimension of the balcony is that it’s just above the main walkway of the ashram.  All of the comings and goings move past me as I sit up there, strumming a tune on my guitar, reading a book or reflecting in my journal.  It strikes me how those three actions form the bulk of how I spend my free time.  Though, of course, there’s also going for walks, chanting or meditating in a prayer room, or sitting at the beach and simply watching the water.

There I sit, on the public side of the wall that makes up my solitary space, and I’m confronted with some interesting personality aspects.  Sometimes parts of me want to be in my own space in a completely private way, perhaps with a view of the forest like a room I had last year and its balcony blurred from the view of other’s eyes, exposed only to the deer and the trees.  But that’s not where I am, I’m sitting on my deck in complete view of anyone that walks by.  It would be more than easy to go inside and retain my privacy.  It would also be more than easy to walk around the building and find solace in the mossy forest up the hill.  I can do those things and, at times, I do but the other day during my lunch break I was indulging in the fact that I now live closer to the main building and can easily go to my room during my lunch break.  I pulled out my notebook and sat on the weathered planks, my back resting against the old wooden siding.  All around me people were walking past, like the bees that we got last week, busily buzzing in their own ways.  I realized as I sat there that some people would love this balcony’s location no matter what mood they were in.  Some people would love the opportunity to socialize with anyone that happened to walk past, making the same joke or the same comments on the weather.  Sometimes that person is me and I’ll sit on that balcony, engaging with the world that goes by.  If my guitar is keeping me company I might add to a song to the person walking past, “shouldn’t you be serendaing me?” And sometimes, more often, the person I am is much more content serenading the chipmunks in the forest, or listening to the endless waves lapping the lakeshore, content in my solitude yet deeply engaged in a different sort of conversation.