Spirituality – you are, and beauty

There is this curious worldview that you’ll come across the moment you begin to explore spirituality… that is… that we have souls… that we are spirit first before we are matter… material and flesh… and that… we chose what we wanted to explore in this particular lifetime. Perhaps not from the perspective we hold as these conscious beings. 

It’s the morning after an evening of conscious dancing. And… as I’m dropping into my yoga mat more fully today… I’m realising… going through my Brahmihavara practice… and all that I am grateful for… I realised this funny, funny, thought. Last night as the session came to a close and I sat down to meditate through the ending… I practiced gratitude for everyone I met on the dance floor, for what they brought, what they triggered… and all that made them the way they are, as what made me the way I am… and this thought shifted something in me: I am grateful that you chose to come here. I am grateful that you chose to be here. I am grateful that you came to experience this human world with its chaotic messiness. 

It moved something in me.

Even if there were times that I pulled away, that I struggled to connect… that I didn’t want to… or that our energy connected us in the dance with no eye contact… that our energy spoke volumes, or our energies smiled before we did… by the end of that session, I was grateful. None of it happened in linear order.

On my mat, moving through my Vinyasa flow… I could feel this internal dilemma, processing last night, this internal dilemma about how I was going to respond… react… and whether I still wanted to respond and react that way, and why? I couldn’t put quite put my finger on it, but the feeling of this shifting quality was vaguely palpable to my mind and my being. 

And then as I leaned into it… a variation of this thought cropped up again, on a deeper level… that everything that happens… that could possibly happen… operating with this worldview of spirituality… was something, everyone that is experiencing life including myself… as spirit, knew… and came anyway. 

Without a doubt, I cannot know that for sure… but the moment this worldview envelops me… I want to cry. Last night after I came home, I found myself going through the tags on this blogging platform… and I come across so many people writing sad poetry, writing angsty poetry, writing about their lives, about their traumas… about all that is painful. And I see that in me too. I see that in me and I feel tired now, I feel tired, adding my voice to that. I wanted to see something else. I went and read a YA novel. 

(It was my first re-experience of YA… now that I am no longer a teenager and haven’t been for quite some time… there were moments that I couldn’t stay in the plot, in the simplicity of it, in the unlikely characterisation and dialogue. No longer ensconced in the world of that audience… I recognised the escapism for what it was… for the underlying desires the author was catering to and catered to successfully… hope, determination… friendship, bonds.)

In the world outside of imagination and books, our emotions and our experiences are valid too… they are more than valid, they are real and powerful, I just wish… we were better at loving ourselves… that we will take our experiences and bring something beautiful to our lives for having experienced them. 

And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.

And he answered: 

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide? 

And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech? 

The aggrieved and the injured say, ‘Beauty is kind and gentle. ‘Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.’

And the passionate say, ‘Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.

Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.’

The tired and the weary say, ‘Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.

Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.’

But the restless say, ‘We have heard her shouting among the mountains,

And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.’

At night the watchmen of the city say, ‘Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.’

And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, ‘We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.’

In winter say the snow-bound, ’She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.

And in the summer heat the reapers says, ‘We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.’

All these things have you said of beauty,

Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,

And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy,

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,

But rather a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted,

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, 

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.

It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,

But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight. 

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.

But you are life and you are the veil.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

Khalil Gibran

Sand

Judgement: a compass with the needle pointing at love

i.

You… toy with this expression, and make it yours, and learn what you can do with it, what you can do with youth. And even as you whisper, it is going, it is gone, and I am old, I am a wizened old man who has little teeth left, what do I remember? The wars this world fought? How I was young once?

ii.

As the old.

The youth, bloomed and withered, and you are old. Old and sentient. And wondering what you lived for. Everything in you is soft, pulsating, waiting, and you said, you lived for the truth, for the art, beauty, God, woman. In her soft feminine curves. You found her. You found her. Imperfect… and not who she was in the shower, or on the floor, or picking herself up… but the one who actually did… who sat down, gently, allowed her to grow old. Compassionately, asked, what she wanted from life. 

And yet you… resist. You are not lured. 

The artist in you rails. Flails. His limbs. His mouth. His bottom. You are god playing human. 

God playing human

December, 2017?

Everything here is disjointed and confusing but there is a rawness about it that I like, the jagged edges that aren’t smoothed out but insist on being there, perspectives running into each other without any demarcation.

And so… I think there is something curious to the notion that how we view our gods, has a relationship to how we treat others. Is our god our Beloved? Is our god cruel? Is our god the pillars of modern day science or commerce and capitalism or both? What is it that we worship? What is it that we believe? What worldview… presides over the days of our lives?

My young self

made god out of the clay

and asked,

would you like to be a metaphor for cruelty?

he smiled and said okay

and came to play.

God as metaphor

October, 2019

To enter into the midst of life and discover that paradox lies at the heart of it. 2016 was the first time I discovered that I had been atheist/agnostic, yet at the same time, I had a worldview that god was cruel, yet it was buried in my psyche and when the line between my conscious experience and my sub-conscious blurred and faded… this was what I found. Upon reading Jung, I realised this wasn’t strange. Pulling apart my experience of religion, my childhood, my adolescent years and my relationships, how could I be surprised to discover this worldview existed and operated in me? It’s the remnants of what I might consider my early experience with patriarchy.

I acknowledge that… and I don’t judge that anymore. I don’t want to judge all the people that are operating and living their lives with this worldview… or that they’re trying to grapple with it. It’s admirable. I’m drawn, because there are two parts of me that still resonate to it… perhaps for that reason, when judgement comes to play in any form, I have been both the trigger and the person surreptitiously looked to for a fleeting feeling of being understood, of being heard and acknowledged. The discomfort grows intense for me… or the irony grows hilarious. In both regards… we are the person we most need our acknowledgement from… and that when we fear judgement from others… we are really being judgemental of ourselves… that some kind of pain is narrowing the perspective – a rusty story, a mental loop inside our head… and the other person has absolutely nothing to do with it… except be the trigger… or we are the ones judging others for being judgemental. Now… having been in both shoes… I find that quite funny.

Isn’t judgement a compass with the needle pointing at love?

xx

Sand

Why I don’t have a god

I love following thoughts down their rabbit holes. 

When I was about 7 or so, someone gave me a book of christian bible stories. Over the months and years, I’d keep returning to them. Eventually I wondered, from these stories given to children, why this god was so cruel. Why this god would part the sea for one group of people… and drown another. Why this god lacked compassion for humanity… even if humanity was unkind. Why this god punished Moses after years of devotion. Why this god played cruel games of life and death just to see if humans were devoted enough to him. Not quite that articulate, but the general gist was there. 

By the time I was a teen, most of my peers were distinct atheists which I hopped on board with, easily, and left my childhood deep in the spiritual closet. Now I think the age of enlightenment and science in the 18th century… was necessary in pushing back against religion… in particular, when I refer to religion, I’m mostly thinking of the church with its dogmatic worldview, where god is an omnipotent presence that is fair, yet cruel. That the abrahamic religions teach obedience to a power outside of ourselves under threat of death or retribution. Not so much the latter anymore, unless you wanted to listen to someone preach about damnation in hell. 

Science too, is a worldview. An empirical one, mostly. In the learning of it, I learned it was better to think, than to feel. Not that there is anything wrong with thinking. But there is so much to be gained, by dropping into the heart, by connecting the mind with the heart. At some point, science and religion felt ironically similar to me – that they could both be dogmatic about what the truth was. 

But they are both worldviews. Every domain offers its worldviews. Psychology might be my favourite because of the way it straddles the known and the unknown. In other words, it seems to be firmly rooted in what is valuable today… but it looks for answers that we can’t easily see and measure. 

We all have a shadow. That’s Jung’s idea. And to believe religiously in an identity… any identity, would suggest an unexamined shadow because we repress that which threatens the identity we’ve inherited and constructed. 

The ancient greeks and romans knew that their deities were archetypes that existed within themselves. That’s Jung as well.

So where is god’s wife? Where is god’s counterpart? And is she… a goddess in her own right… or is she only god’s wife? Where is the feminine? Where is the archetypal symbolism for the feminine? What about the other faces of god? 

When I began engaging with spirituality, taking it out of the closet because life had dealt me a traumatic experience, I would feel uncomfortable, taking it on as an identity and distinctly repelling of the notion of god. Not unusual. What I could accept, however, was replacing god with the notion of the Universe, because unlike this concrete yet abstract concept of a man in white robes sitting in the clouds, the universe was fathomable in its immensity and its mystery. 

And so I realised, if I’m spiritual, if I came from stardust, romantically speaking, if reincarnation and any wild concept that I engage with, is true on some level, then so is everyone else’s reality, and that being the case… is there a difference between a spiritual reality and a non-spiritual reality… except for the way we see it? We’re in the same soup, the same milky way, the same universe, the same planet. And what I know will always be surpassed by what I don’t know, except that I’m human and I’m totally flawed. 

There are genuinely, so many paths to walk and no right or wrong way because all of them lead to self-discovery, some paths more feminine than others. Feminine… in the energetics. I’m uncomfortable with god with a capital G because it’s not a path. 

There are, have been, persecution and wars, that are fought in the name of this god. Generations of women have died, in the name of this god. Anyone, once of a different opinion, have died in the name of this god. 

Why do we still hold him up on a pedestal?

Not really a question… but rather, why do we naively continue to perpetuate this god? I used to feel mild about this… but the more I understand about history, the stronger I feel about it. And even so, I understand the why. When people turn away from the church, they are turning away from the dogma but what’s left is disillusion. 

I will acknowledge the masculine deities that exist, otherwise known as archetypes in psychology and even more so, I will acknowledge the feminine. 

I will go where there is a focus on self-discovery, on finding the answers within, on understanding or accepting ourselves as we are, on opening the mind and the heart… on honouring the feminine as equally powerful, and in a vastly different capacity. 

And so, I don’t have a god. 

xx

Sand

“Write what you know”

This thought, popped into my head today, as I was casting about for inspiration. I found this snippet from my folder of ruminations:

When one begins to witness ones scarcity mindset… it’s quite shocking… a little humorous… and rather curious. To realise, no matter how fast or how hard you run, you’ll always be in the same place, mentally. It certainly looks frustrating. And so… the only way to shift it… is to realise that this present moment, is entirely, enough. 

Yesterday, I decided I’d go for a run today.

I woke resolved and was about to put on my usual casual around the house clothes before I realised that if I really wanted to go for that run, I’d make it easy by already being in running clothes. I’d nip procrastination right in the bud. So I put on some cargoes and a hoodie and went about my morning routine.

And at noon I went.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any running. Not since I got back, as I’d planned to start learning kung fu as soon I was working again and treat that as the substitute for running. Now I’m not sure forms like dancing, yoga or martial arts… will deliver the same endorphin high, post-run.

I expected to experience anticipation, feel out of breath shortly and feel a desire to stop way before I’d come close to hitting my body’s limit – the beginners body/mindset – but it wasn’t like that at all. It was like the period I dedicated to showing up at the gym, back in 2017, the endurance training, hadn’t disappeared on me, or that yoga kept me relatively in shape.

I hit the shower when I got in… and as I pulled off my tank top, I wondered, wow, the body remembers. The body remembers how to run, what running feels like… what the runners high feels like. It was good.

I was doing a 6 hour layover in Santiago when I wrote the snippet about scarcity mindset. It was dawning on me that this was a huge key for me.

If tomorrow or some future day, where possessing x, y and z… happened, it wouldn’t change the default feeling of worth because I’d simply have created a new reality where x, y and z… were normal events or things. So the question is, what is my default feeling of worth?

What is within my control? What can I change and shift? Following the feeling of apathy to discover it was procrastination that created it… and that procrastination always arises when there is some belief or block in my mind that feels too painful, to examine. That, in the examination, the answers unravel themselves and the subconscious gives up its secrets when the questions do the asking in some form of why and Can I know for sure, that this is true? Honestly, I love Byron Katie’s work.

As a kid, there were periods where I’d make resolutions to go running in the morning… and all too often… I wouldn’t. I didn’t. I slept in. My dad would berate my lack of willpower. I’m chuckling. The thought just occurred to me. I used to be far too accustomed to showing up to my life with the victim archetype active. When I left Spain, I wrote this:

When I leave this place… I will be leaving her here… When I leave this place… her death will echo through the mountains and the rivers… the grasses and the mountains. When I leave this place, I will be kissing my victim identity softly on the mouth, and whisper kindness into her ears, I will let her know, thank you, for serving me, for being here, for being present… and I will let her go. I will let her dissolve back into the ether that she came from. Back into the wind. I will let her go. 

The wind spirits know. And I know.

Now running is easy. Now showing up in a way that requires for me to feel worthy and entirely capable of what I am asking for, to engage in self-love… asking for what I need, acknowledging that I need others… finding the skill to stay authentic, responsive rather than reactive… is a radically honest and humbling process. And if willpower is a muscle, so is worthiness.

My heart feels lighter for writing tonight.

Sand