Friday, April 22, 2011

FOLLOW YOUR HEARTBREAK

---our decision to keep on a path or to leave it must be free of fear and ambition. I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same. They lead nowhere. They are paths going through the brush or into the brush or under the brush of the Universe. The only question is: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then it is a good path. If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.---Don Juan

Many years ago I read this quote of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. It changed my life focus. I had been seeking to heal my soul by finding meaning and these words rang true. It is the heart and only the heart that guides us to meaning and even creates meaning. It is of significance that the ancients saw the heart as the center of life as the Sun is center of our universe. It is a guide to something that transcends our ego’s shallow knowledge and short lifetime.

Whatever breaks our heart must be important. It is a sign that the essence of our being has been violated. In our society the heart chakra is the weak spot with
in the human energy body. Although everything else circles around our heart just as the earth circles around the sun for many of us its light is very dim.

Sometimes pain is the only sign of life. A broken heart indicates that we are alive but in a negative way. Even worse than a broken heart is the lack of one. Life should break our heart. It is full of cruel experiences and is out of balance. To grieve the loss of someone or something is an indication that you are able to love and that in fact your heart is still working. Far more dangerous is a heart that can’t be broken because it is numbed or dead.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to learn to follow my heart. Early conditioning to oppose my heart was pervasive and entangling it choked the life force like the roots of an invasive weed. It is very hard to get rid of. I’ve often wondered why I was born in a time, place and family that was so opposed to following one’s heart. Feelings were to be opposed, desires were to be resisted and normal needs were evil because this world was considered a corrupt and evil place. Being holy was judged on a basis of what one wasn’t rather than what one was. Nowadays the response is often the opposite. Desire and indulgence are frantically stimulated to exaggeration but this too is an attempt to compensate for the lack of genuine heart.

Easter is coming again. Nowadays few people think of anything beyond a new spring outfit, colored eggs and roast lamb when it comes to Easter. Both the pagan matrix and the Christian overlay are hidden behind the bright colors and instinctive need to consume and incorporate the coming of spring. Yes, it has become primarily another retail extravaganza but perhaps that is because modern people don’t know how else to respond to almost anything. Spending money is another way of expressing the hunger for an absent heart connection with the world that supports us.

It is as important to mend the communal heart just as it is to revivify the individual heart. So many peripheral signs of malady are merely symptoms of a problem at the center. It has been said that conscious development of the heart chakra represents the next phase of human evolution. Many of our human problems clearly show a lack of heart. There is little awareness of relatedness to all that is and the shared fate of all beings on this planet. We cannot feel connection to fellow earthlings if we cannot feel connected to our own essence, our own core value that dwells at the heart.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

OPPOSITION / REFLECTING ON THE FULL MOON

Life/death, black/white, good/evil/, male/female, happy/sad, wet/dry, hot/cold, friend/enemy are some of the primal oppositions that we take for granted as basic components of existence. It would seem that everything we experience has an opposition as its basis of definition. Astrologically, opposition is the second most powerful aspect between two planets and indicates a direct confrontation between two different cosmic processes.


The Sun/Moon opposition is called a full moon and it represents the culmination of a cycle that is so familiar to we Earth dwellers that we can barely imagine life without it. Astrologically the opposition is considered the most basic encounter with another cosmic energy and often plays big in relationships both good and bad. Opposition brings dynamism and it would seem that it lies behind all other experiences.

Opposition is also the beginning of consciousness and spawns reaction and creation. It is the matrix behind love and war.

It is easier to conceive of opposition than conjunction which is two energies combining and attempting to resolve their differences. There is unconscious familiarity in a conjunction but opposition may dwell within the conjunction if the nature of the participants happens to be opposite, but it is a less stimulating environment than opposition. Opposition is the very first step in experiencing existence other than our own and in the process reveals our own. Often the first experience of this duality is to be confronted with hostility or limitations on our own playing field. In other words, opposition is an experience of the other and it is sometimes beautiful and sometimes dangerous. If we examine objectively it is often both.

Today’s full Moon involves the very archetypes of opposition. The God of war confronts the Goddess of love in this Aries Sun, Libra Moon opposition. Creation itself is based on the opposites represented on every level by Mars (Aries) and Venus.

Opposites define each other. It seems that we would not be aware of anything if there were not an opposite to give it distinction and definition. And then after the opposition comes the realization that dualities always come from one and return
to their one source.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

THE ZEN OF GARDENING

Today a strong wind blows east while above the horizon broiling multi-shaded clouds meet and mingle with dry dust made air-born by the wind. Even though I don't like wind I'll admit the effect is mystical. A high desert version of a J.M.W. Turner landscape. We are headed down the canyon to meet some friends for lunch in Santa Fe. For some reason I always fall into reflectiveness on this stretch along the Rio Grande. Yesterday was beautiful, quiet, fresh, warm with just a tinge of sharpness. Perfect for gardening. Today its cold again and I'm just recalling gardening and how it brings out my elemental self. I'm not a fanatic, its just something I do well and enjoy. Enjoy isn't truly an adequate word. Gardening is healing, empowering and puts me into my most balanced state.

I have Venus at 15 degrees Taurus. It is the highest planet in my chart with no significant aspects. In the language of astrology this means it is in a strong position and not seriously altered by relationship to other planets. I regard this as a saving grace in an otherwise challenging layout. The Taurus/Venus qualities of sensuality, earthiness, stability, stuborness and love of beauty often help to balance and heal even when everything else is up in the air, (three planets and the Sun in Gemini, an air sign).

My style of gardening is more an interactive dialogue than a technique. I see in my mind what mood and environment I would like to create but the plants have their own reality. I love the plants as if they were kittens or children. I check in with them often to see how they are doing and if they need food, water, help or a better location. Although I occasionally talk to them the real communication is emotional. I treat them with respect and admire every step of their development. If one of them decides to move to a different part of the garden, I honor its choice of location. After all the plant knows better than I do what will make it thrive. I've discovered that even though my plants are not all where I envisioned they would look best or contribute to the ambiance I was after they work even better where they choose to be.

I pull weeds without concern and otherwise trust that my Buffalo Grass and Blue Grama will gradually takeover the barren spaces. This garden is a high-plains, semi-arid plant community. There are surprises also. Several plants just showed up. I have no idea where they came from. I think they just liked it here. The Shasta Daisy is one such plant, others are wild raspberry, Holly Hock and Sweet Peas. Cosmus love the south wall. I've discovered that several plants that grew in Mom's garden and are part of my childhood memory grow very well here. I love a great variety of color and I mix vegetables and fruit with flowers and ornamental grasses. I love to create stone ridges, dips and hills to make their life more interesting.

There is also a magical aspect to working with plants. Three years ago I decided to plant a small cluster of Aspen trees. Since my budget was limited I started with one tree. The next year I bought it a companion but something strange happened. First I'll let you know that I've always had a special relationship with Cottonwood trees. They were part of the environment of my best childhood memories but so were other plants. With Cottonwoods there was something mystical and ancient that I can't explain. There was a time in my life when I truly believed that I couldn't possibly live in a place where they didn't grow. I considered planting a Cottonwood but I reasoned that they grew too large for my small garden.

I purchased the next little Aspen and told the nursery that I wanted them to hold it until I came back with my friend who had a truck. We came back in the afternoon and picked up a tree but not the same tree. My friend decided to choose one that seemed hardier. I planted it and it thrived. In fact it thrived a great deal. The next year it still had the tag from the nursery around it and it was getting too tight. I decided to cut the tag off but before I did so I wanted to record the species name. To shorten this story I will say what you've probably already guessed. It wasn't an Aspen at all but a Cottonwood. My friend talked of moving it to another area but I decided to leave it where it was, near its cousin and they will just have to be an odd couple. I knew that it had to trick me to get here because it is my spirit tree.

There is something about being in the garden around my house that connects me with an entirely different kind of power. It's as if a calm wisdom and knowing flow up from the earth and down from the sky and meet in the place I am working or just being. I love to hike but that is a different kind of connection with the earth. Perhaps gardening is different because I'm placing myself among the growing things as if they were my personal family and I belong among them.

When I moved to this house I still had my cats, Joe and Missy. They both came to the end of their lives at a good old age here. While they were with me, they were often a part of my gardening experience. Not that they openly participated, it was just their presence that contributed to my pleasure. Somehow, I taught them not to venture far from the house. I'm not going to claim that I'm a cat whisperer but there was something about the way we were together outside that seemed to affect them in the same way as a mother cougar when she tells her kittens to stay near the den.

I've been working on another piece but today I realized it is the simplicity of being outside in the garden in the spring that is my personal way to be in balance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

HIDDEN CROSSROADS IN THE DARK FOREST OF THE SOUL


Unable to sleep last night I lay awake but with a different awakeness than in daytime.  My mind was moving into the deeper area where conscious and unconscious, personal and non-personal qualities meet.  The insight that I remember is about an approach to sickness that sees the dis-ease not as an enemy but as an uncompromising ally, a presence to relate to and dialogue with, a source of both destruction and creative power.

Usually disease or injury incurs the desire to fight as if an intruder seeking to destroy us was an invader.  But what if sometimes that invader comes to introduce a better way of being that we have not been able to see or include in our present reality do to the smallness of our vision.

Sacrifice is part of such an invasion.  Sometimes death is the outcome, sometimes a larger life and when it fails a smaller life.  But of course life and death are defined by the small mind that comes encased with our body.  There is a larger mind that transcends both the body and the mind it encloses.  We prune fruit trees, and thin garden vegetables to get a better crop and in a sense our identity also needs to be pruned now and then.  Some platforms work as they are but not well enough to build on.

I think of my partner and I who are living with and learning from his pulmonary fibrosis.  We sometimes fall back into the mode of attempting to conquer this disease.  To conquer implies an enemy. We have tried a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies.  Some delay the progress of the disease, but none have cured.  The medical world considers this condition incurable and the only treatment a lung transplant.  I’ve watched him waver back and forth with this judgment for two years.  Sometimes he is very positive about preparing for such an operation and at other times the idea of benefiting from another’s death as well as hosting a foreign organ stops him. But this is an awareness of other people that he would not have reached a few years ago.

The idea of archetypes comes from Plato’s teaching that the manifest world is a reflection of an invisible form that directs the outcome of the physical temporal form. This is exactly backward of the current scientific teaching of creation but I can imagine this concept in everyday life.  In fact on the individual level it is an obvious fact called genetics.  Carl Jung derived his idea of archetypes from Plato’s principle but he did so after observing these invisible forms in
dreams, mythology, history and everyday human behavior. The principle of Thoth and Egyptian magic that eventually inspired alchemy, “as above, so below,” and the belief that the process was reversible, “as below, so above” is something we unconsciously use whether or not we believe. Somehow I can imagine a back and forth dialogue between form and cause.
Thoth also corresponds to the Greek Hermes, God of the crossroads.

I’ve been noticing how closely thought connects with physical events. If I get the urge to water the garden, it frequently rains the next day. If I think of someone I haven’t heard from for awhile, they usually call or I meet them at the grocery store.  The saying “energy flows, where attention goes” can also be turned around to be “attention goes where energy flows in the non-physical world.” Who can say which comes first, the thought or the potential event that is already on its way.  I do believe there is a circular connection, or perhaps it’s the invisible side of fractal geometry.

My partner’s lung disease has accompanied an awesome change in life direction and stance toward others.  He has always been talented and charismatic.  About six years ago his attitudes began to shift from an arrogant self-consciousness and the belief that he was entitled to whatever he could get in life and from others to the beginning of an awareness of the feelings of others.  In his old personality there were times when I thought he might be a sociopath.  But something I can’t easily define kept me from making that judgment.  There was quite another reality hiding behind this fa├žade.  He waffled back and forth for some time but it was obvious that his old skin was worn out and beginning to flake off.  Yes, that image sounds reptilian and I used to notice a kind of reptilian coldness in his eyes at times. Now there is a warm blooded softness in his eyes. I won’t say that the lung disease caused a change in heart but it definitely accompanied it.  The change was already in process but the lung disease was also secretly working in the background too subtle at first to make its presence known. The lungs are in the region of the heart chakra and it is indeed his heart that is gradually taking its natural central place in his life.  All the same, as the power of the heart unfolds so does the pain that originally caused it to be hidden protectively.  It takes courage, another characteristic of the heart to face that side of the process.  To feel is to experience one’s vulnerability and temporality.  Not to feel is to be less than alive.  The heart chakra corresponds to the Sun in traditional astrology and our universe revolves around the Sun. Without the heart life stops. without the heart chakra the soul dies.