Well, at least sleep and morning interupted for now, the rest will make it self clear soon. I am beginning to transcribe a little later than usual today. While I did get up early, I was struggling after a night of frequent awakenings. My ‘night thinking’ kept me occupied with thoughts on how unusual my routines have gotten over the last year. While understandable, fighting cancer can take you off the path when it comes to every aspect of your life, I was now in healing mode and needed to be thinking of how to get back to normal, whatever ‘normal’ looks like, if it is even possible. What does normal eating look like?How do I get back to a normal sleep pattern? What will my relationships look like? How should they be different? Are there relationships that I may not want anymore? When and how will I be able to maintain some form of fitness and how do I make sure I maintain effectively? Will I work or will I travel? Life is already too short and could be shortened at anytime. I cannot waste any time? You know, all of the normal questions that flood your mind while staring at the ceiling and 3:00 AM while trying desperately not to pick up my phone and get stuck in that cycle for a couple of hours. So yes…a little slow moving this morning.
As the sun crept up, my feet did hit the floor for my progress towards morning prayer and meditation. A routine that has become more familiar and rather comforting, I cannot imagine a start without that time. This morning’s collection of readings included: The Message, the Tao Te Ching, Meditations: Marcus Aurelius, and a Course in Miracles. I was nudged last night to find my copy of the Upanishads as I hadn’t opened it in a while and it had drifted out of sight as books had been shifted around recently. As I found it, my eyes caught on Steph’s group of Joseph Campbell books and I chose The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. Admittedly, I am not a huge Campbell fan, but that is mostly because my exposure to his works has been limited. After today, that may change. Maybe as I rethink routines, he will become part of this process,
The morning had a welcomed hint of cool air that I was able to enjoy before the sun returned to resume its baking for the season. I sat, lit my incense and began the cleansing breathing that took me into my prayers and intentions for the day. Once my shoulders dropped, more breathing and then I reached for the Upanishads. I opened it to the Prashna Upanishad, Question #1
“After a year Katsandhi asked the sage: Master, who created the Universe?” The sage replied, ” the Lord meditated and brought forth Prana with Rayi, the giver of name and form: Male and Female, so that they would bring forth innumerable creatures for him.”
This seemed fairly basic to me other than the interesting connection and similarity to the creation story in the Book of Genesis. I noted the connection and took the key point to be the existence of the master creator. I also noted the following poem / prayer the translator had included at the beginning of the chapter.
“May we only hear what is good for all. May we see only what is good for all. May we serve you, Lord of Love, all our life. May we be used to spread your peace on earth. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
A beautiful prayer. I closed the book and sat up again in my chair with deep cleansing breaths as the cool air filled my chest and abdomen. I began to feel painless, loose and calm as the morning broke through. Miraculous how simple breathing smooths out the tense sinew of your muscles and they become so relaxed they collapse and embrace your bones…I opened the Tao Te Ching to Lesson #46, “When the Tao prevails in the land”
“When the Tao prevails in the land, the horses leisurely graze and fertilize the ground. When the Tao is lacking in the land, war horses are bred outside the city. Natural disasters are not as bad as knowing what is enough. Loss is not as bad as wanting more.
Therefore the sufficiency that comes from knowing what is enough is an eternal efficiency
Perhaps here was the start to my question of routines. The main themes being simplicity rules when it comes to principles and wanting more, excess and greed cause more pain than anything I may have lost over the last ten months. Obviously (or at least it should be to me) there will be habits I cannot reengage with and some things will never be normal, but longing for them will not help and will cause more grief than the original loss. If everything we need as per the first passage, and hinted in the second with the horses has already been provided, why would I seek more or what I can’t have. Going beyond is when suffering begins…again or not. I made the following notes:
Simplicity of routine to promote happiness and health always, should not only to be considered when necessary. In the past, I only thought about eating healthy when I gained weight or was not feeling well. I only prayed when I was scared or felt alone. A ‘Tao’ must be present and prevail or order is lost. Most importantly, while my discipline is important, it does not have to be complicated. Too often in the past, I have complicated the simplest, yet most important aspects of my daily life. My journey through this battle with cancer over the past years exposed a tremendous amount of folly in my life, as well as shone a bright light on what is important to me. Though the self examination continues, I must listen to the lessons already accumulated.
One of the things I love about the book Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius, is it starts with his list of valuable gifts and lessons he received and from whom. As I opened the book, the gift resonated with todays thoughts immediately. He received from his adoptive father a method of comportment similar to that which I received from my own dad: humility and a somewhat conservative nature. From Book #1, section 16 of Meditations
“The things that contribute to the comfort of life of which fortune had granted him copious supply, he used without ostentation, but also without apology. No one would have described him as a sophist or obsequiously servile, or a pendant but rather as a man of maturity and accomplishment, who was inaccessible to flattery and well able to preside over his own affairs and those of others.“
Modest, temperate, conservative yet grateful and deserving – if you can say that’s a thing. It’s about understanding one’s needs as well as one’s worth as well as one’s needs and accepting that by knowing your sufficiency. I am reminded of Grandma Day and how she knew when she reached her sufficiency with her meals, something that helped her immensely with her overall health. It was, it seems now, a blessed gift to know your sufficiency.
I straightened my back up into my seat and resumed the deep, slow breaths that led me to this point in my meditation. I completed a series of ten second hold breaths as well to return to extra calm and breathe out more that ceased to serve me. Once I knew I was ready, I reached for Joseph Campbell’s The Inner Reaches of Outer Space…it became a long passage.
“The founding myth has been of course, that of man’s fall [from Divinity] by the tree in the garden (Genesis 3) and salvation by virtue of the sacrifice of the God-man, Christ Jesus on the tree of the cross (Matthew 27: 33-54) whereby a mythological fall has been historicized as a prehistoric fact of C. 4004 or 3760 BC, and a historical cruxifiction, C AD 30, mythologized as a reparation for the fall. The result has been a blend of history and mystery.”
Too often I tend to create my realities from faith and it is that faith that bonds the details together for me. The challenge of this, I believe, is grounding that faith, as I read from the Tao Te Ching, in reasonable, executable principles and personal doctrine created in my own minds. In my opinion, we have already been provided so much wisdom and it has been passed down by the ancients for our own personal consumption, should we choose to listen for the messages from our heart. All of these revelations that have survived, have been transcriptions recorded from those ancients giving to us from their hearts and hopefully when we listen to our own. I feel when I hear my heart, I find a real connection, and community to the ancients that I cannot ignore…I know it sounds strange but there comes a silent kinship. Albeit, something I am still learning to trust, yet everyday my faith seems to be growing. As I breathed through this passage, I kept reading the following from Campbell noting a passage from the Gnostic Bible.
“Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas: Cleave a piece of wood, I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there” Logion 77: 26-27
“The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.” Logion 113: 77
Campbell noted two Sanskrit words and I have included them here in case you know how they fit in. I haven’t figured it out yet:
Maya – the formative power or delusion and Bodhi – illumination
Similar to the other readings, the message to me seemed to be God is everywhere, part of everything. I can chose to ignore this and create stories on my own, or perhaps I ‘cleave’ myself to God, we begin to connect in more positive ways to a path of possible enlightenment. When my principles are rooted in divine faith, not ego or self- made, I find my balance and really feel the integrity of the process. It’s an integrity of the process that can only command trust required to build momentum in the process.
I returned to breathing and cleansing breaths for a while then I reached for The Message, Zecharia 8:14-19
“…Tell the truth, the whole truth when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so…keep your lives simple and honest.
“Again I received a message from God and the Angel armies: The days of morning set for the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be turned into days of feasting for Judah – embrace Truth, Love Peace.”
After this passage, the only thing that came to me was a question with a perceived answer: ‘What is your attitude? Catalyst or damper? It is all about INTERPRETATION! Breathe, breathe, breathe…
The last excerpt came from A Course in Miracles:
“You are holy because your mind is part of God’s and because you are holy, sight must be holy as well. “Sinless” means without sin. You cannot be without sin a little. You are sinless or not. If your mind is part of God’s you must be sinless or a part of his mind would be sinful. Your sight is related to His holiness, not to you rebound therefore not to your body.”
God is showing me I am truly part of him, but I am not sinless. There is a lot that came from those passages and I know I will run the risk of overcomplicating it if I tried to develop it deeper right now. I think the key messages so far: Keep it simple, establish clear principles and have faith in the omni presence of the Divine…the path will appear more clearly in front of me. Through breathing, listening to my heart and reading these sacred texts, I believe the answers are in front of me.
Also a note about reading. One of the surprises I love about reading is that one book often leads you to another. Either through a direct mention or something discovered, hints are provided at what books to read next. I have been meaning to open a copy of the Gnostic Bible on my wife’s shel for a while now…tomorrow I think I will actually do it.