Just BE

photo courtesy of freepik.com
photo courtesy of freepik.com

When a person seeks a spiritual path and knows that this is what they are doing, they often remove themselves from the distractions of the world.

Monks, nuns, ascetics, or hermits often cloister themselves away from the world so that they can connect with the divine more easily, and can discover their spiritual connection more clearly.

The spiritual path is to become pure, to be completely at one with this spiritual core, and to transcend worldly realities to find the bliss of divine reality.

In India, for instance, becoming a sadhu, or wandering mystic, is very common and one must follow such a path if one is ever to attain the enlightenment of a guru.

In whatever religion, around the world, monks or nuns spend hours in prayerful solitude, in order to gain the peace and stillness that allows them to be in contact with the same divine force.

Lay people ply their own modes to gain similar inner peace and connection, in the form of meditation or affirmations.

Yet, take those human beings out of these role plays, take away the modes they utilize, and put them back into the grind of society, and the problems and difficulties of simply living in the world, and often the tools they use in solitude do not suffice.

They can break down and behave as badly as any human being beset by extreme challenges, (although their training will likely enable them to realign more quickly).

In those moments, they may feel lost and confused, and unable to fathom why their ability to cope, to manage, and to maintain balance and calmness is not working.

They may feel that somehow their modes were faulty, or that something inside themselves was faulty, that somewhere they made a misstep or took a wrong turn, and that this is showing in their inability to maintain equilibrium when challenged.

But this is not so.

In my belief system, the truth is that you do not have to become a hermit or ascetic, or give up any contact with the world in order to get in touch with the divine, or with the deeper truths within yourself.

I believe that life is full of challenges and difficulties because we are all following spiritual paths.

We are all threads of focus in god’s mind, and therefore we are all part of a process of enlightenment, which is about discovering how our thread is playing out.

Yes, removing ourselves from the challenges and difficulties of life can bring peace and centering, and a better ability to cope and maintain equilibrium.  In that state, most of us can find beauty in the world, in the cosmos, and in ourselves.

But put yourself under extreme duress as a human being, where difficulties are harsh, cruel, unkind, unfair, and just plain exhausting, and it is far less easy to see that same beauty or feel it.

You could imagine that the world upturned in this way is bad, evil, or just ‘shit,’ and you might imagine that such a ‘hell hole’ could never be god given – at least by the god you worship.

Yet in every moment that we are whittled away to our core by such experiences, through pain, exhaustion, and despair, we find ourselves.

When there is nothing and no one else left to rely on, and our prayers never seem to be answered nor have any hope of being answered, and when all our efforts seem to have come to no avail, the truth is that the ‘rock bottom’ we hit is our deepest inner core.

As we sit silently, alone with that inner core, and face the harsh reality of what has happened to us – when we feel completely hopeless enough to not be sure what next to do or whether it is possible to even do it – we reach a turning point.

In the silence of ourselves, in the deepest pit of our lives, there is only one choice – to live or die.

If we even stand up in that pit, we have begun to make our choice, and have begun to choose life – even if we don’t know how that life will evolve from there.

As we move, fraction by fraction, and shuffle ourselves back onto a path, any path, we choose life, and in choosing life we are in contact with the divine.

In reaching that point of deepest despair, we are in contact with the divine.

In realizing that it is up to us to ‘keep on keeping on’, or to ‘give up the ghost’, we are in contact with the divine.

In my estimation, tragedies and challenges are not brought our way by evil but as modes wherefrom even the non-spiritual among us can learn to find their spirit, to align with their spirit and to engage with life in better ways.

For me, life is about living, for better or worse.

When you hit those ‘rock bottoms’ and yet stand up and climb out from them, you learn something about yourself.

You learn something about life.

You learn that ‘rock bottom’ is not death, unless you want it to be – and that if you choose life, every moment is meaningful, even the smallest ones.

Even spiritual ascetics will tell you that deep meditation and the modes of enlightenment will not necessarily make you happy.

Those who follow such paths are not seeking happiness, as such, but peace, respite, and meaning that enables them to be ‘at one with what is’.

When ordinary people go through extraordinary times, and suffer extremes, they also learn to be ‘at one with what is.’ 

They also learn peace, (though not necessarily happiness), because peace is found in acceptance of ‘what is’  – for when we suffer extremes there is often nothing left to fight ‘what is’ and then all that can be done is to accept it.

They also achieve respite, for every moment without challenge is exactly that, thereafter.  (They find respite in the blessing of not being challenged further).

And they also receive meaning, because after you have suffered the worst, then smaller challenges are nothing to worry about, and every moment you are alive has meaning, somehow.

In example, even the most exhausted of us, and the most ill, can look at a bird on a windowsill and enjoy its company.

I do not believe that life’s challenges and difficulties are badness.  I believe that they are the tools that guide us back to the divine.

For me, they are simply the paths we laymen find ourselves on.

And they are how even those who thought they had the tools to meet such challenges discover even greater strengths within themselves, when they realize their tools were not apt and must learn to forge better ones.

When you are empty and you have nothing left, all that is with you is soul, or spirit.

When you are only soul or spirit, all that you can do in such moments is BE.

In just being alive, you express divine intention.

From that point, you have enlightenment – which is how buddha also found it, sitting under the bodhi tree, where he had gone in complete exhaustion and despair – empty of all feeling and thought, because all feeling and thought had proved useless in achieving his goals.

And in that state of complete emptiness within the shell of himself, he came face to face with his essential life force, just BEING.

His enlightenment was acknowledging that just BEING was the task of every element in this world, and that nothing else mattered – for life is an experience, and a blessing because we CAN experience.

Good or bad is nothing more than the ups and downs of a ‘roller coaster ride’, and nothing more than the modes with which we use to define and measure our existence.

When we reach ‘rock bottom’ and can no longer feel or think, we lose this ability to define and measure existence, because we lose the certainty that our judgement is correct.

It may seem like a hopeless and despairing state,  and for some of us who find such a state of emptiness too confronting it can become a state of hopelessness and despair – but only if they stop moving, stop doing, and stop BEING.

In Taoism, this essential life force or state of BEING is when we are all in contact with the divine.

The most common meditation used by Taoists is not static.  It is not done sitting.  It is not done whilst ‘spacing out.’  It is done whilst moving.

( You may know this meditation as the beautiful exercise routines of Tai Chi or Qi Gong ). 

It is about achieving peace and equilibrium through or despite states of change or movement.

It works much better than static meditation for dealing with the issues of life on a daily basis.

Many years ago, I used Tai Chi to center myself before going on stage when I worked as an actor.

I found that these dynamic methods of centering myself amid activity, noise, and other challenges, enabled me to cope better with stress – far better than sitting with it and trying to bring my mind under control.

It was also a good foundation for centering myself during interviews or tests, because the concept is not about absenting yourself from the world in order to cope, but is about coping with the world while being present in the challenge.

I believe that this is the natural mode of our cosmos, and that it is why those who only seek static meditations or detachments still find it hard to cope when beset by the challenges of the world when they re-merge with it.

The cosmos wants us to learn to manage all predicaments and all situations with equilibrium.  So we are tested.  We are challenged.  We face difficulties and hardships.  We deal with sickness and pain, trauma and tragedy.

If we survive, we naturally become stronger, and we usually discover a deeper compassion within ourselves for all other beings who suffer.

That is spirit.  That is being in touch with the divine.

If you think of spirituality as an evolutionary existence, then think on this – what happens to your spirit after your body dies and your reincarnational cycles are over?

Do you really think that life will be an endless stream of eternal stagnation in a state of bliss?

God’s life never stagnates, and nor will your life as spirit.  For god is a creator, and when you reach the font from where god emerges, you become a creator, too – an artist of the cosmos.

Which great responsibility is why it is absolutely necessary for you to go through the challenges and difficulties of life in the class room of planet earth.

In saying that, it is not necessary for you to strive to graduate this class room any more than a child at any school strives.

There will be times when much learning is going on and many challenges must be met, but other times when the focus is on play and creative self-expression.

Each has its place in the school of life – but a child at school normally doesn’t think upon them, apart from being excited about the challenge or the play, or about just ‘hanging’ with their friends, and nor should you.

When life gets tough and you feel challenged but are getting nowhere in every effort or aim, stop processing, stop trying so hard…  Simply BE.

Time will pass until you are ready to ply life again.  It’s natural to do so, if you are on the path of life (and not stuck in the sinkhole). 

Don’t fear that you won’t be able to keep going, if you take time out for respite.  All life needs rest and respite, for that is the natural cycle of the world – and fear is an exhausting energy that will deplete you before you even start !  (It is only fear that ever keeps you in the sinkhole).

Just remember – if you push yourself too hard, all you do is get so exhausted that you burn yourself out.  When that happens, you can’t ply life again until you are replenished, restored, and capable.

So pushing yourself too hard actually works against your aims.  It is like forcing content through a tunnel and clogging it up, which then requires time and effort to unclog the tunnel before things can move again.

Better to be like buddha, who left the bodhi tree to eat, drink and be merry with a world full of friends, and with much friendly compassion for their worldly predicaments.

Also, remember this – when you look at the sun through the leaves of the tree, the bright glare makes the edges of the leaves disappear.

In the ‘tree of life’, you lose clarity in the moment if you keep looking at the ‘sun’ through the canopy.

In the same way, you lose clarity about your life if you keep looking for the overwhelming brightness of god to shine upon you.

Such are the modes of nervousness and fear, not of intrepid adventure, or stoic philosophy, or steadfast commitment – all necessary to ply life effectively on planet earth.

You weren’t put into the ‘school of the world’ so you could keep looking for your divine parent’s hand to hold.

You were put here to engage with all experience, and to learn from it.  You were put here to discover the bright light that shines within yourself.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Bananas

photo courtesy of freepik.com
photo courtesy of freepik.com

My favorite fruit are bananas.   There are plenty of other fruits I also like but bananas hail way back to when I was a child.

Most kids’ first fruit is a banana.  I remember mashing up bananas for my own toddlers, and mashing them to make banana bread when they were older.

I still love banana bread today.  It’s a good way to use up soft bananas.  I like my banana bread with cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts, and sometimes vanilla flavored butter icing on top.  Yum!

So why are bananas my favorite fruit?  Because they are one of the most sensual items I eat…

Now, calm down.  We all know banana jokes, (and some of us have even learned how to use protection by clothing a banana).  But this is not that type of experience (though I sometimes tease my husband by biting a banana in front of him).

When you eat food sensually, it is far more satisfying.  It is not a gobbled experience full of wind that fills up the stomach and makes it bloat.  It is not about ‘replenishing the tank ‘.  It is an art form.

I never remove the skin completely from my banana until the very last moment.  I like to peel it down in petals and leave the bottom intact so I can get a good grip.  Then, the first thing I do is to put as much of that banana as will fit, deep into my mouth.  (Yeh, yeh, I know what you’re thinking… let’s not go there… :-))

Then I shut my teeth a little and draw the banana back out of my mouth, shaving off banana as it goes.  This leaves juicy, soft, mushy banana for my tongue to savor, to roll around and squish a while before swallowing the sweetness.

Ripe but not soft bananas are best for this work, because the flavor is full and sweet – much better than candy or lollies…

I keep repeating this action, turning the banana so that each shave off happens in a different area, and eventually I have a very thin and glistening banana core sitting in the chunk still left in the skin.  Only then, as the skinny banana core begins to droop, do I begin to bite – small bites in sizes that are squishable with my tongue and can be rolled around in my mouth before swallowing.

Food is one of the first pleasures a child learns in life.  When I was young, my Nanna would take me to the (now closed) Coles cafeteria in Melbourne for a banana split.  It had a beautiful big split-in-half banana, two glistening white balls of vanilla icecream, drizzles of translucent banana topping, sprinkles of crushed nuts on top, and two shards of triangle wafers.

I loved eating every bit of that banana split, sitting in what I thought was a very elegant cafeteria like a grown up, with my Nanna.  But the part that makes a banana split what it is, is the banana…

A few years back, we had severe storms and cyclones in the tropical region we live in.  The banana plantations of north Queensland were almost completely wiped out.  So greengrocers and supermarkets had to source bananas from higher cost growers interstate.  Prices skyrocketed and one banana could cost ten dollars or more.  I would not buy bananas at that price, so we had a semi-dearth of bananas in our home for nearly a year.

We do have a couple of banana trees in part of our garden.  But they don’t produce the large cavendish bananas that we like to eat.  Plus, they never grow bigger than a skinny finger, and half the time the fruit bats get to them before they can fully ripen. They’re nice little bananas, (knowing we grew them ourselves), but they have nothing on the cavendish.

It’s amazing how you miss such favorite things when they are no longer there.  It wasn’t just the kids in our home who felt an emptiness inside because there were no big bananas.  I did, too.

Yes, there were plenty of other fruits to experience, and plenty of other experiences to savor, but when cavendish bananas finally came back onto the market at a reasonable price, I was among the first in line to purchase.

Since bananas began my food journey, I have enjoyed similar experiences with many other foods.  I can’t have a monte carlo biscuit without squishing it together till the icing oozes out, licking off the icing all around the edges, and only then nibbling the biscuit round the edges to gradually whittle it away in ever reducing circles until I finally discover the bed of jam inside.

My husband rarely eats a biscuit without dropping crumbs.  He once asked me how I do it, to not drop crumbs.  So I told him it’s because with every nibble I take, the tip of my tongue reaches out to feel every crumb and draw it into my mouth.  Not one crumb is wasted on me.  Even eating a biscuit is a sensual experience.

Darlings, this is what is called endorphin generation !  Endorphins are the good chemicals your body generates when you are pleased, and they help to harmonize the body, reduce inflammation and stress, and lots of other good things.

The senses we have been given in life – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – are all ways of engaging, of living, and of being.  In every moment that we take the time to enjoy the experience of any one of these senses, we are fully alive and in harmony with the cosmos.

When you live life this way, enjoying to the full every moment and exploring even the tiniest nuance – the smallest crumb, and every ‘mouthful’ to its complete end – there are no boring moments.

You can never despair that life is not giving back or that you receive no blessings at all when you can examine each moment in such depth.

Other things may go on in the world around you, or even to you, that are not so good, but so long as you retain that ability to engage fully with each moment, and to find the beauty in the smallest morsel of the mundane, your spirit is able to rise above any consequence.

(Unless, of course, the consequence is from having too much of all those lovely tasting moments… which is another story altogether …but, hey, we still love our pets when they’re fat and cuddly… and buddha ended up fat and happy, and still lived to the age of 80, they say…. so all is good …says she who really would like to drop a few dress sizes ! )

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine

Respite

space_art_wallpapers_12-1600x1200In the long journey of life, we can become obsessed with completions.  We can become obsessed with meeting our goals.  We can become obsessed with obtaining the ends we searched for, and forget to rest and replenish along the way.

When life looks after us, by ‘throwing a spanner in the works’,  by presenting us with obstacles that slow our progress, or by creating setbacks that make us stop and bide our time, we can get upset or feel restless or frustrated because we are no longer progressing along the paths we’ve set ourselves.

It’s hard to see, then, that these pauses in progress are for our own good.  It’s hard to understand that the cosmos, in its greater wisdom and wider viewpoint, has seen our exhaustion before we even felt it, caught up as we were in our ambitions or inspiration, and has played the ‘wise parent’ in forcing us to rest and recuperate a while.

In those times, all we can see is that we are not making headway, that we are not becoming the success that we hoped to be, and we begin to build scenarios in our heads that these pauses are measures of failure, of lack of worth. or of an inability to achieve.

When life is moving forward and good signs are coming in that our dreams and hopes are accessible, we have no doubts or lack of faith.  We build on these with great enthusiasm.  Yet the valleys, the ditches, and the pauses too easily rattle that optimism, destroy that faith, and plunge us into darkness.

When all is good, we have a great belief in ‘things greater than ourselves’.  When things become what we see as ‘bad’, we too easily wonder where the ‘goodness’ went and what we did wrong to deserve this circumstance.

As a child plays, they are happy in their play.  They create and are amused, and delight in every moment.  They don’t want to stop enjoying their actions or exploring their days, but the parent calls them to the table to sup, or to bed to sleep, and the child grumbles and complains.  Yet the food replenishes exhausted energy, and the sleep revitalizes depleted cells.  All is actually good in these pauses, and goodness comes from these reins.

When things no longer go well or go your way or as you planned, you can easily begin to explore possible errors and imagine that some dastardly flaw is making itself seen – but often the truth is that the cosmos is simply protecting us from ourselves, even though the way that protection comes at times may be through extreme circumstances.

So easily is success replaced by fear, if we let it.  It should not be so hard to have faith, or to keep trust going.

As children, we trust our parents, even as we rail against them for putting us to bed because we wanted to play all night.  We believe in their wisdom.

*

I needed rest and respite.  I wasn’t taking it.

Now, the world has brought natural disasters, and things breaking down.  I am forced to reassess, realign, slow down, rethink, and to measure myself and my processes.

Through the wisdom of the cosmos,  I have been ‘put to bed‘,  where I will ‘sleep’ until I am refreshed and ready for a new day of wonders.

I am taking a brief ‘time out’  from the ‘road of life‘ to ‘camp out and count the stars’.

Blessings!
Lianne

Lilipily Spirit – Empower Your Life, Connect with the Divine