Winter Solstice Newsletter 2013
I am a point of light within a greater light,
I am a thread of loving energy within the stream of Love divine,
I am a point of sacrificial fire focused within the fiery will of God,
And thus I Stand.
I am a way by which men may achieve,
I am a source of strength enabling them to stand,
I am a beam of light shining upon their way,
And thus I stand.
And standing thus revolve,
And tread this way, the ways of men,
And know the ways of God,
And thus I stand.
Affirmation from "Initiation Human and Solar" by Alice Bailey, page 212.
Winter Solstice Contemplation
We celebrate Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere this Saturday, December 21 at 12:11 pm Eastern time. Please attune to the energies and hold a vigil with us at this sacred time. Bring these energies to the holidays you celebrate, knowing that these great rhythms have been with us and have informed our holy days and religious celebrations through time. Let us be present with the darkness, because it is in darkness that we can know Light.
The Winter Solstice is the darkest point of the year. The darkness comes early and seeps its quietude into our lives. The earth is asleep. The trees are leafless and there are no flowers to brighten our days. It is a time of reflection and attunement to the inner Light. Rising early, the world is dark and meditation in the surrounding stillness nourishes the inner Light. Now the whole of Nature is breathing in. Through all the activities of the day let us seek to emulate Nature in its time of rest. No need to hurry, no need to do more than is necessary. Reflect on Being. Hibernate. Aspire to stay in a state of simple Beingness. It is a time to resist the pull of the world and its materialistic call...its incessant rushing and accumulating together of tasks and shoulds and habitual ways. We watch our thoughts as they are pulled toward these habits. It is a time to release and let go of the unnecessary and unsustainable. Each time we sit in meditation and remember the Truth, we are like squirrels gathering nuts. We are gathering what is our sustaining Light. It does not go out or fade; it is the true eternal Flame. We allow ourselves to feel a sense of deepest peace, as we carve out the new Life we are committed to live. We celebrate what is Real and move ourselves into the deeper rhythm, in synch with Nature, to commune with the starry worlds and to know the power of outer darkness to bring us inward to the Light.
When snowfall deepens the stillness and that subtle pristine quiescence descends, it is a gift beyond measure. What food for the Soul! What simple joy and sweet delight. The pines sigh with pleasure and the moon shimmers on the white crust, composed of millions and trillions of tiny crystalline stars. Standing in the Witness, is seems impossible to deny the interconnected- ness of all Life when faced with the proof of stars in the heavens and stars covering the earth.
The fire on the hearth is akin to that inner flame of our heart. It warms and sustains us through the darkest of times. It is good to draw close to the fire and feel it permeate the cold. Every winter we are prepared, taught, to be in darkness, to experience death, to learn to release and to let go and to sustain ourselves with the stores of our Spirit. In this barren time we learn that the outer has no true means of nourishing us. It is only the strength and steadfastness that we have come to know within us which will see us through the dark times. All else is temporal and can be taken away. Let us use this dark time, this Winter Solstice, to know the Light which we are. In knowing this Light we can shine and give Light to those who are lost in the darkness of despair, fear, greed, shame, depression and all other ego states. This is the season of sharing and there is no greater gift than to give of our Light. So meditate to gather the Light which sustains. remembering we ARE each and all, the Light of the World.
The theme of this Winter Newsletter is DEDICATION. May it serve to enrich and fortify you, and deepen your dedication throughout the coming year.
Winter Solstice Blessings, Peace and Joy to the World,
Sacred Economics, Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein
The Inspired Heart, An Artist's Journey of Transformation by Jerry Wennstrom
Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo
This Beckoning Ceaseless Beauty by Heidi Rose Robbins
Be a lamp unto yourself.
by Suchitra Davenport
When I reflect on Dedication, I move right to the utter simplicity of being in this moment, this Now. I am dedicated to remembering that this IS WHAT IS, right Now and I am breathing into this, whatever is happening or not happening. This dedication to being in right alignment with the Present Moment is the center from which all other dedication stems. It opens me fully to the unknown, to Life and its zig-zag meandering and mysterious flow. It brings the "me" to full surrender and openness, to acceptance and peace. This is my practice and in this, I am dedicated to Life and transversely, Life is dedicated through me and all is transformed and uplifted, created and made new through this dedication.
It sounds so utterly simple and yet, it is so outside the perimeters of our collective conditioning that we can find it difficult to rest in a practice which is this simple and pure. Our ego resists. The "me", the mind, the emotional body and the physical body resists and wants, and clings, doubts and craves and avoids the present moment. It loves the story, the drama, being "right" or "being wrong again". It holds onto the past and becomes depressed. It moves into the total fabrication of future and becomes anxious and fearful. This illusory part of us will never dedicate itself to anything other than itself and its idea of being separate. It stays in the illusion of past and future which do not exist. This is suffering.
So we must find the sliver, the tiny piece of our Soul, of our inner Light and consciousness which is ready to dedicate Itself to living its fullness, its Oneness, its Being, right here and right Now. It is as this flame that we make our Dedication. And we begin to return to that Presence over and over again until the flame becomes a river of Light and Love and Will, a Radiance in the world, and in this we can begin to rest and live in the darkness, the unknown, the Absolute and Infinite.
Practically speaking, I suggest to my students and clients that they willingly embark upon a 40-day program of Soul Dedication. Willingly is the key asana, because this shifts the willfulness of ego against the flow of Life, to a willingness to surrender into that Divine flow. This willingness makes all the difference, as it brings the individual will into alignment with greater Will and actually begins to dissolve the illusion of separation from the Divine. Dedication is all about the right use of Will.
This is worth pondering. It is good to consider how we use our will. Are we willfully against our Self, against what is good and true and beautiful or are we willingly participating in That which creates the good, the true and beautiful for all? Willingness is deep surrender. This is co-creation and the evolutionary step we are collectively undertaking. This is what we mean when we talk about "being the change".
So what would a 40-day program of Dedication look like? Here are some suggestions, but feel free to design your own program. Give yourself 30 minutes each day to anchor remembrance and then sustain the living remembrance throughout your day, through your every thought, word, feeling and action. If you feel that you do not have 30 minutes, consider where that belief is coming from, truly witness it and stay with it for a few days and you may begin to see the illusion that keeps you from Dedication. Keep a journal which supports this remembrance. Do not use it for anything other than this, so no judgments or analysis, please.
1. Begin with surrender. Write a statement or sit deeply with "I am willing to be in the present moment, without attachment to the past or the future and to accept and love everything just as it is. I dedicate 40 consecutive days to this practice."
2. Examine your attachments. Begin by noticing your identification with body, with feelings with thoughts. Observe your attachments to family, house, career, degrees, bank account, car, city, state, country, religion, etc. Consider attachment to fear, guilt, shame, grief, needs, desires, judgments, resentments, all that is unforgiven, jealousies, dislikes and hates, power, position, identities such as "good child", "responsible one" , "bad singer", "hopeless one", "most intelligent one", etc. Be specific and include all positions and opinions, political, emotional, religious, environmental, etc, all causes and convictions and keep no stone unturned, bringing your Self more empty with each step. Consider your attachment to your "To Do" list and consider being guided fluidly in each moment to the next activity. That which is important will always get done, and beautifully so, when we trust the Flow to move us, rather than us moving the Flow. Our bodies will relish the relaxation of being in this flow.
3. Sit quietly each day in meditation and allow this spacious stillness to reveal more and more of your true identity. Make an intention to express this true identity through your every action in your day. Let the Witness consciousness expand. If fears, control, anger, sadness, etc arrive, notice and let things be. Do not grasp or fall into things, but if you do, simply notice, accept and return to the spacious stillness of letting everything be as it is. Remember your Dedication to remember what is Real, the Presence that is always here and now, behind the drama, behind the clinging, grasping and fear. Breathe into It. The Witness is the great solvent. It will dissolve everything which is not Real. Hold your awareness in the Now and when the mind journeys to the past or future, just return home to Now. Over and over again we come back to Now.
4. If a full day or more goes by, with no remembrance, no practice, no Witness present, start again. Back to Day 1. Do not waste energy on negative self talk, simply begin again, being with what is. Keep track of your days and remember that you dedicated your Self to 40 consecutive days and simply be true to your Self in that dedication. Once again, this is the right use of the Will and keeps the Will and the Heart atoned. We LOVE ourselves and Humanity and the Earth enough to sustain our WILL to embody Dedication.
5. Feel how the process feels. Be deeply present with it all and if you wish, let us know if you embarked upon a 40 Day Dedication and what shifted for you in that willingness. We are not separate. We are all opening and birthing and remembering as One. We are the One remembering Itself.
A Quote from a Bodhisattva's Way of Life
Now, having paid my body its wages,
I shall turn my Life to something meaningful
And, relying on the boat of the human body,
I free myself from the great river of pain
So that I may be awake in this body and use this boat to bring others to the far shore.
This is my sacred task,
To awake and to be a vessel of Light.
This is no time to sleep.
In this great transition time,
This is surely no time to sleep.
Adyashanti's Five Foundations
Spiritual teacher Adyashanti describes Five Foundations as the context within which spiritual teachings and lifestyle unfold.
1. Clarify Your Aspiration
To clarify your aspiration means knowing exactly what it is that your spiritual life aspires to, not as a future goal but in each moment. In other words, what do you value most in your life-not in the sense of moral values, but in the sense of what is most important to you. Contemplate this question. Do not assume that you know what your highest aspiration is, or even what is most important to you. Dig deep within, contemplate, and meditate on what the spiritual quest is about for you; don't let anyone else define your aspiration for you. Look within until you find, with complete clarity, what you aspire to.
The importance of this first Foundation cannot be over-emphasized, because life unfolds along the lines of what you value most. Very few people have Truth or Reality as deep values. They may think that they value Truth, but their actions do not bear this out. Generally, most people have competing and conflicting values, which manifest as both internal and external conflict. So just because you think something is your deepest value does not mean that it actually is. By deeply contemplating and clarifying what you value and aspire to, you become more unified, clear, and certain of your direction.
As your realization and spiritual maturity deepen, you will find that some aspects of your aspiration remain steadfast while others evolve to reflect what is relevant to your current level of insight. By reflecting on and clarifying the issues relevant to your current level of understanding, you stay focused on the cutting edge of your own unfolding.
2. Unconditional Follow-Through
Making clear what you aspire to is the first step. It has the effect of gathering energy and attention together into a unified forceTHE WAY OF LIBERATION and directing it toward your aspiration. Once you have clarified your aspiration, you now need to follow through on it. Following through has to do with what you are willing to do or let go of doing.
Spirituality does not require that you work hard toward achieving a result in the future as much as it requires you to be fully present, sincere, and committed now, with absolute honesty and a willingness to uncover and let go of any illusion that comes between you and the realization of Reality. Therefore, spirituality does not have to do with time or what can be achieved in time; it has to do only and always with the eternal present.
Aspiration is not so much a matter of the mind as of the heart, in that it is a reflection of what you cherish, love, and value most. You do not need to be reminded of what you truly love, only of what you do not love. And what you actually love is most truly reflected in your actions, not in what you feel, think, or say.
When aspiration lines up with unconditional follow-through and love, it becomes a very strong force in the universe. Only then are we unified and one-pointed enough for our aspiration to survive the winds of folly, fate, and circumstance.
3. Never Abdicate Your Authority
The third Foundation is never abdicate your authority. This means that you take full responsibility for your life and never forfeit it over to someone else. There is no such thing as riding the coattails of an enlightened being to enlightenment itself. A failure to understand this can lead (as so many have been led) to cultish fanaticism, fundamentalism, magical thinking, disappointment, disillusionment, and/or spiritual infancy.
While it is understandable that many people project their unresolved parental issues, relationship issues, authority issues, sexuality issues, as well as God issues onto their spiritual teacher (and are sometimes encouraged to do so by unscrupulous spiritual teachers), it is essential to understand that a spiritual teacher's role is to be a good and wise spiritual guide as well as an embodiment of the Truth that he or she points toward. While there may be deep respect, love, and even devotion to one's spiritual teacher, it is important not to abdicate all of your authority over to your spiritual teacher or project all divinity exclusively onto them. Your life belongs in your hands, not someone else's. Take responsibility for it.
There is a fine line between being truly open to the guidance of a spiritual teacher and regressing into a childish relationship where you abdicate your adulthood and project all wisdom and divinity onto the teacher. Each person needs to find a mature balance, being truly and deeply open to their spiritual guide without abdicating all of their authority.
The same can be applied to a spiritual teaching. A spiritual teaching is a finger pointing toward Reality; it is not Reality itself. To be in a true and mature relationship with a spiritual teaching requires you to apply it, not simply believe in it. Belief leads to various forms of fundamentalism and shuts down the curiosity and inquiry that are essential to open the way for awakening and what lies beyond awakening. A good spiritual teaching is something that you work with and apply. In doing so, it works on you (often in a hidden way) and helps reveal to you the Truth (and falseness) that lies within you.
What is it to not abdicate your own authority and yet not claim a false or self-centered authority that will lead you into delusion? I am afraid that I cannot tell you. You see, no one can tell you how not to deceive yourself. If in the deepest place within you, you want and desire Truth above all else, even though you go astray in a thousand different ways, you will find yourself somehow, again and again, being brought back to what is True.
And if you do not want and desire Truth above all else, well, you already know what that leads to.
4. Practice Absolute Sincerity
To have genuine sincerity is absolutely necessary in the spiritual life. Sincerity encompasses the qualities of honesty, genuineness, and integrity. To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact, the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. If we are constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to awaken from our illusion of self.
In order to be sincere you must let go of being judgmental toward yourself. Being judgmental covers over your access to true sincerity and at times even masquerades as sincerity. True sincerity reveals a powerful form of clarity and discernment that is necessary in order to perceive yourself honestly without flinching or being held captive by your conditioned mind's judgments and defensiveness.
The capacity and willingness to be honest with yourself is your greatest guard against self-deception and deceit, and aligns you with your genuine aspiration. There is no greater challenge for a human being than to be completely honest with oneself as well as with others, and yet such honesty is absolutely necessary if we are ever to awaken from our dream of separation and live a truly genuine and undivided life.
5. Be A Good Steward Of Your Life
Being a good steward of your life means that you are not using spirituality to avoid any aspect of yourself or your life. I have observed that it is very common for people involved in spirituality to unconsciously use it to avoid painful, troubling, dysfunctional, or fearful aspects of themselves or their lives. There is often a hope that if they just awaken to Reality, all of their challenges will disappear. While it is true that with the dawning of awakening many of what we regard as problems simply disappear, it would be wrong to assume that a taste of awakening automatically resolves every challenging aspect of human life.
Using spirituality to avoid challenging aspects of yourself or your day-to-day life can inhibit the dawning of spiritual enlightenment to a great extent, and will certainly inhibit its depth and stability. The Way of Liberation is a way of completely facing yourself and your life without withdrawing into denial, judgment, or magical thinking. It is a means of piercing through the veils of illusion and awakening to Truth.
To be a good steward of your life requires you to embrace every aspect of your life, inner and outer, pleasant and unpleasant. You do not necessarily need to face them all at once, just whatever arises in any given moment. Give each moment the attention, sincerity, and commitment that it deserves. A failure to do so is more costly than you can ever imagine.
Your life, all of your life, is your path to awakening. By resisting or not dealing with its challenges, you stay asleep to Reality. Pay attention to what life is trying to reveal to you. Say yes to its fierce, ruthless, and loving grace.
The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
to the only road in the end you could follow, walking
as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice
that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,
so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had already happened long ago and in the dwelling place
you had lived in before you began,
and that every step along the way, you had carried
the heart and the mind and the promise
that first set you off and drew you on and that you were
more marvelous in your simple wish to find a way
than the gilded roofs of any destination you could reach:
as if, all along, you had thought the end point might be a city
with golden towers, and cheering crowds,
and turning the corner at what you thought was athe end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person and a place you had sought forever,
like a broad field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.
- David Whyte
©2012 Many Rivers Press
Excerpt from The Power of Now and the End of Suffering
An interview with Eckhart Tolle by Tami Simon
Life is always now. Whatever happens, whatever you experience, feel, think, do - it's always now. It's all there is. And if you continuously miss the now - resist it, dislike it, try to get away from it, reduce it to a means to an end, then you miss the essence of your life, and you are stuck in a dream world of images, concepts, labels, interpretations, judgments - the conditioned content of your mind that you take to be "yourself." And so you are disconnected from the fullness of life that is the "suchness" of this moment. When you are out of alignment with what is, you are out of alignment with life. You are struggling to reach a point in the future where there is greater security, aliveness, abundance, love, joy ... unaware that those things make up the essence of who you are already. All that is required of you to have access to that essence is to make the present moment into your friend. And you may realize that most of your life you made the present moment into an enemy. You didn't say "yes" to it, didn't embrace it. You were out of alignment with the now, and so life became a struggle. It seemed so normal, because everyone around you lived in the same way. The amazing thing is: Life, the great intelligence that pervades the entire cosmos, becomes supportive when you say "yes" to it. Where is life? Here. Now. The "isness" of this moment. The now seems so small at first, a little segment between past and future, and yet all of life's power is concealed within it. When there is spiritual awakening, you awaken into the fullness, the aliveness, and also the sacredness of now. You were absent, asleep, and now you are present, awake. The secret of awakening is to unconditionally accept this moment as it is. Some people do it because they can no longer stand the suffering that comes with nonacceptance of the isness of this moment. They are almost forced into awakening. Others have suffered enough and are ready to voluntarily embrace the now. When you become present in this way, the judgments, labels, and concepts of your mind are no longer all that important, as a greater intelligence is now operating in and through you. And yet the mind can then be used very effectively and creatively when needed.
Now the question may arise: Would there be anything left to strive for when you are so present in the now? Wouldn't you become passive in that state? Many meaningless activities may fall away, but the state of presence is the only state in which creative energy is available to you. When your fulfillment and sense of self are no longer dependent on the future outcome, joy flows into whatever you do. You do what you do because the action itself is fulfilling. Whatever you do or create in that state is of high quality. This is because it is not a means to and end, and so a loving care flows into your doing.
Two miles I had to walk along the fields
Before I reach'd my home. Magnificent
The Morning was, a memorable pomp,
More glorious than I ever had beheld;
The Sea was laughing at a distance; all
The solid Mountains were as bright as clouds,
Grain-tinctured, drench'd in empyrean light;
And, in the meadows and the lower grounds,
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn,
Dews, vapours, and the melody of birds,
And Labourers going forth into the fields.
--Ah! need I say, dear Friend, that to the brim
My heart was full; I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
A dedicated Spirit. On I walk'd
In blessedness which even yet remains.