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"How to achieve Happiness"

“How to achieve Happiness”

“Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great [a] love can be?”  The lyrics of Andy Williams hit in the movie Love Story come to mind instantly when I sit down to write of  my experience of hearing the Dalai Lama speak  yesterday in Berkeley.  For this is a love story, of that I am certain.  A story of how I went to see the Dalai Lama filled with expectations of learning “How to Achieve Happiness” and came away, with a profound experience of the truth of the heart of love that exists within each and every one of us.  I know what you want to hear because this is what I wanted to experience, I saw the Dalai Lama, I heard his words and I came away as if touched by an angel with his glory still ringing in my ears.  That is not exactly how it happened.

We were up at 5am to dress and drink our daily protein drink before heading to Berkeley.  We wanted to be in place no later than 8:30 so we could witness the grandeur, the joy, the event.  My husband, my daughter, our dear friend and coach and myself were all tired from our over-scheduled week, three businesses between us, my daughter’s  final quarters at UC Davis and teaching credential program interview and now an early effort for our bucket-list experience of seeing the Dalai Lama.  We drove from Sacramento through strips of batting-like fog still draped around the hills and arrived to a chilled Sunday morning in beautiful downtown Berkeley.  The only students awake and in sight were those protesting the Dalai Lama (DALAILAMA boom boom STOPLYING boom boom). We paused to notice the small but organized battalion with well made signs and expensive bullhorn and briefly wondered who paid for the signs and the organization and who benefitted.  People there with tickets to see the Dalai Lama were streaming in from all sides having found both street and garage parking all over the area.  Most were dressed in Tibetan national dress of woven brocades silks chemises, longs skirts and aprons for the women and longer jacket/chemise with trousers and knotted wraps for the men.  The children and babies looked like the little dolls you find in Chinatown with perfect little moon faces and giggling eyes and coal-black hair. Even the tiniest of babes were dressed in crimson, gold and cobalt woven fabrics. The security of the day befitted a world leader.  We were not allowed to bring bags, cameras, phones, water bottles etc.

Instructions for ticketholders

Instructions for ticket-holders

This alone was enough to cause this Westerner a wee case of preemptive PTSD.  My handbag is my pacifier, my Linus’s blankie, my own last straw.  It carries the usual money, id, water bottle & food bar,  notebook, colored pens, iPhone charger, the what ifs (band aids, Advil, corn pads, lip balm, tissue); often books, extending love practice card and an extra pair of knee-highs.  I was allowed my id and cash in a pocket (fyi, for organizers out there not all women’s clothing has pockets), and a teeny spiral notebook and a pen.  I am a chronic note taker and recorder, I would have been a scribe in ancient Egypt. I was already feeling vulnerable and slightly naked.  After we found our seats with the aid of one of the many and lovely volunteer ushers in Tibetan dress, we naturally looked for the Ladies room.  Oh goodie, there were already 150 ladies in a line that stretched from the entrance down a flight of stairs to the block of toilets downstairs.  Upstairs we found why the line was so long downstairs:  none of the toilets flushed and there was no running water.  So, it wasn’t  tooooo bad yet in the Men’s room  when we string of desperate ladies determined (thank you to the men who didn’t blink an eye) that flush or no flush we had to pee.  That done, I realized I was terribly thirsty so we stopped at the water fountains downstairs only to realized there was no water there either.  Ugh and drat!  Why didn’t we ignore the instructions and sneak in water?? As we waited, and waited………and waited for HH Dalai Lama to arrive we had plenty of time to people watch, meditate, cat nap and ponder our thoughts and feelings.  I was beginning to think this whole seeming lack of organization and timetable was designed to do just that; get us to notice our thoughts.  It worked.  Even as I pinched myself with the reminder that “EEEEK I was about to see and hear THE Dalai Lama!!!” I was a bit annoyed at the crying baby behind us.  I was intolerant of the “disorganization” and poor handwritten signage.  I was somewhat impatient for the “show” to begin.  There was still more waiting and only a brief explanation of the obvious:  “The Dalai Lama is delayed at the Tibetan Community Center”.

I began to worry what would happen when I needed to use the bathroom the toilets would surely be disgustingly full and unusable.  I sighed and asked to instead extend love to my ramped up judgment thoughts getting situated on their own high white horse.  It suddenly dawned on me this must be what the crowd of thousands must have felt like when coming to hear Jesus.  The story of the loaves and fishes came to mind.  I thought, if a few measly fishes and a couple of loaves of bread fed thousands then surely three toilets could miraculously house the refuse needed for the thousand here around me.  I began to breathe and settle down.  I closed my eyes and just let myself accept all that was going on.  I relaxed and found myself looking at the crowd with fresh eyes. Just then the Dalai Lama HHimself came onto the stage without fanfare with a small few of his entourage of hosts.  His beaming face looked out onto the waiting audience and he said “Hi!  So.  A little bit delayed.”  And proceeded to sit down on the large overstuffed persimmon colored chair in front of the extravagant twelve-foot long tapestry of the Buddha hanging behind the chair and two huge floral displays of orange, red, gold and white.  He was entirely relaxed and in no hurry.

Sketch of stage for Dalai Lama visit

Sketch of stage for Dalai Lama visit

The official welcome and introductions began and before the Dalai Lama got up to speak he placed his two hands on the Congresswoman’s  (from the 13th congressional district, who had just introduced him in a booming American voice) arms and gently led her to and placed her in his royal stuffed chair.  Beaming all the while.  She looked a bit stunned and awkward but sat in the chair with the Dalai Lama, thigh to thigh, until he returned to finally speak to the waiting audience.

The Dalai Lama squinted into the hot bright stage lights and said “Oh, light very strong!  Just a minute….” and walked back to his chair and fished out of a loose bag a visor, the color of a red marigold and placed in on his head and returned to the podium, “Ahhh, much better!”  while smiling and bowing.  Thus the talk of “How to Achieve Happiness” began.  I could not hear very well as he speaks with a very soft voice and apparently finds no need for emphasis or even much gesticulating.  He spoke of practicing love, extending compassion and not worrying so much about philosophy.  Even as I was missing every third word due to poor sound quality I vowed to listen with my heart more than my ears and just noted anything down I heard.  In this way I was completely aware of only my own experience.  The crowd and any bodily needs quickly faded.  It was if I was in a room with only the presence of great love and compassion, gently demonstrated by the smiling man on stage.  All of my worries and discomforts prepared me more perfectly to hear the message of happiness than any expected perfection of organization or free bottles of water.  The Dalai Lama declared “money is good facility for comforting the body but happiness is internal”.  And so it was.

My experience of happiness was simply BEING together in the presence of the love that was within us both.  The love that we all were made from.  The love that declared that I would remember more the shift from outward discomfort to inward joy only if it were aptly and obviously demonstrated.  Thank you, thank you and thank you.  Dalai Lama continued with “One God.  One Source.  All same. We all have spark of God and it is infinite love.”  We listened because he was the Dalai Lama, but I FELT it because it was true.

I recorded it all in my heart and notebook.  I have already told the story a half a dozen times and still marvel at the shift from outward bodily concerns to inward truth of happiness and love that was already within just waiting to be noticed.  I realized I didn’t have to wait for the Dalai Lama to feel this and that he was, as he put it, “just a human being, emotionally and physically the same.  We all want happy days and nights.  I am just a man”.  It was  privilege to be reminded by my fellow human being of my own, readily and always available happiness within, waiting for me to join and remember.  I am happy.  I am love.  I am holy.

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Empty Nest

Empty Nest

I nurse my grievance

a wee babe fresh

from the wound

The days and nights

pass one after the other

with little but certainty

of purpose

I nurse my grievance

a toddler now

      sure and strong

I can barely remember

the details of the birth

but still feel the exhaustion

limits and bewilderment

I nurse my grievance

who is now unwilling

to be fed by her maker

Surrender

Surrender

and stand alone

able to leave or stay

if I but say the word

I want to say “Go!”

but hear instead

“Surrender”

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Which quality of Love will I extend?

Which quality of Love will I extend?

So, my husband bought a new car last week (see Mercy B post) and on the weekend came the necessary task of clearing space in the garage for the newest member of the family.  Sunday was a glorious day with clear sky, temp of 70 and the smell of autumn in the air.  So we were unprepared for our combined reaction of PTSD.  We began in fear and flashback with my beloved just grabbing any old thing and placing it just to be moving and me standing frozen unable to process.  We had words as inaction and action are wont to do.  I begged my Action Man to BE STILL so we could think.  Miraculously we both then stood stock still for two whole minutes in silence and peace.  We both essentially heard the same message of where to begin and how and thus the work commenced.

Later on when the emotion and dare I say it “shame” of “Why do we have so much STUFF??!!” became overwhelming I decided to go inside for a couple of bottles of water.  While there I prayed for joining, grace and guidance.  I asked Holy Spirit what quality of love could I extend and the surprising answer was:  I extend invitation to this thought.  INVITATION???!!!  This was enough of a surprise to knock me off my “I know best how to do this” perch and I could suddenly SEE that I had invited all the stuff, the clean up, the conflict and the opportunity to forgive and extend love.  I took the water back out to my husband and then the phone rang.  It was our daughter calling from Chicago and the ensuing chat added to the peace I was finally feeling.  While on the phone my husband managed to move the “impossible” bookcases and we were now over the crest and the miracle of a clean garage and a new parking space was in sight.IMG_4586

Next time you are faced with an impossible task or chore or simply don’t see eye to eye with your partner, ask Holy Spirit to join in, ask how you can extend love

and see what miracles are created!

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So, the other day I found myself saying to Holy Spirit “If I knew I would WITHOUT DOUBT flourish, enjoy, grow and be happy in this endeavor I would go ahead.  So HOW do I do this without doubt????”  Naturally the HS’s response is priceless:

Image

HS:  Extend love to doubt.

Daily.

Make it a loving practice to daily recognize your doubts, doubting, double-mindedness.

Sit quietly with peace, joy and delight pouring from your heart ont, over, surrounding your doubts with loving-kindness.

Let now doubting lead you into anything other than extending love.

We can call this practice “Daily Doubtfire of Love”.  Your doubts will come with you for as long as you need them.  They are pacifiers of sorts.  Dearest One, practice loving each day these doubts rather than doubting your heart and resolve capabilities.

Doubting is another name for fear, resistance and subterfuge.  IT is a negative flow of energy.  Fear and loathing are its base metal.  Do not let this worry or bother you.  All that you need to do is to continue your daily, on purpose practice of extending love to the doubt, doubting & double-mindedness.  Your happiness is your true nature & you can be in a state of happiness in all forms–even doubting.  Just pause, extend love to doubts, feel the Holy Spirit, ask a question; express God’s Voice, acknowledge you hear and speak this Voice of Love, right now.

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love the entire song

Love Collage created by V. Padley

It has been so long since I posted here that I have nearly forgotten how to!  I have been writing up a storm and my work have been seen mainly on http://www.thevoiceforlove.com community page and can be found at Fearlessly Female Magazine.  But, for reasons unknown I feel like posting again here.  There is no perfect “first post after years gone walkabout” quite frankly and this one will no doubt fall a bit flat.  But that is OK!  I have given myself permission to write, as Anne Lamott says, “a shitty first draft (post)”.

Yesterday I started reading the book”Ten Poems to Change Your Life” by Roger Housden  I’m already a fan (he had me at Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”).  It got me to thinking, what are ten qualities of Love that will change your life.  If you could only have ten (out of the infinite qualities available). What would they be.

Here are mine and I’d love to hear yours:

1. Forgiveness (without this I wouldn’t even get up in the morning)

2. Innocence (all thoughts, people, situations, governments, pain is totally & completely pure, holy, true)

3. Acceptance (this is where the rubber meets the road; it is: i notice it; i feel better)

4. Beauty (it is all beautiful but how delicious we get to notice and feel all the flavors of beauty)

5. Clarity (who, what when, where, why, does it hurt…..ie answers, guidance, revelation….whew!)

6. Strength (power, immanence, majesty, wholeness all in one neat package)

7. Peace (spacious, free, open, still, quiet, relief)

8. Joy (happy, delicious & bubbling, pouring forth the delight we are made of)

9. Comfort (yummy, cozy, gentleness meets you exactly where you are)

10. Truth (now IS eternal)

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I have a secret to share.  I hate, fear, loathe and retreat from rejection of almost any kind.  My own definition of rejection  is a wide and deep catch-all which includes:  not noticing; ignoring; denial; not talking; the words “I don’t want to talk about it” or “I don’t want to deal with it”; not focussing attention, not joining in, not, NO, NOT, NO, NO…NO…..NO………NONONONONONONONONONO.   This hypersensitivity is an all out judgment-cluster in which I go completely blind to Love’s presence.

This morning, after listing to the Holy Spirit my current feelings of loss and rejection in detail ranging from electronic devices at the dinner table to my daughter’s boyfriend failing to arrive on time. I finally ran out of steam and asked simply “Holy Spirit WHAT IS REJECTION anyway??”

Imagine my surprise to hear these words:

Rejection is a melon.

A fully ripe, perfect, juicy melon, ready to eat.  Fragrant, cool, smelling of tropical waters and sunset.

The melon is a gift, a delicious morsel bringing satisfaction, fullness and completion.  The melon is forgotten on the kitchen table.  You are in a hurry and think, “I will eat it tomorrow–tomorrow it will be perfect.”

But tomorrow, the juice is gone, the flesh is mealy and rubbery and the fragrance chalky.  The moment is past.

You keep thinking, “I will eat the melon tomorrow, tomorrow is should be perfect.”  Yet the melon is now a desiccated, moldy mush.  Still you think “Tomorrow it will be perfect.  I will eat it then.”

The melon is now gone.  The plate rinsed and put in the dishwasher.  Someone took pity on the organic mess and disintegration and threw it in the rubbish.  You don’t even notice,  for you are still thinking “The melon will be so good tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”.

Rejection is tomorrow.

It is the hope that tomorrow all will be well and tasty and complete.

Rejection is the unwillingness to see clearly now in Love’s eyes.

Right now.

All of the circumstances you view as rejection of you are in fact rejections of your own to what is standing right in front of you.  You are rejecting the option to simply view the moment without judgment.

Allow yourself the pleasure and possibility of having no idea what will  happen next.  Like watching a baby discover his toes or his voice.  See the computer interface  as the discovering of these things called toes.  See the unwillingness to talk about a difficult sadness as the process of discovering her voice, the timbre, screech or beatific hum.  Let yourself discover the magnanimity of joy in the unexpected seeing of perfection of the moment you inhabit.

The permission to be amazed is what will give you delight in the smallest of seeings.  See how your great desire to change ‘what is so’ is received, itself, as rejection.  Thus you see rejection in the mirror of your brothers eyes.

No talking.  No attention.  No undivided awareness.

Love is there, mind you, completely, utterly, always.

Allow yourself to give these thoughts of “not enough”;  “it should be different; “they should be different” a free, all expenses paid,  holiday to the Virgin Islands for a week.  See if you miss them……see if they miss you.

See what happens.  I wonder……………”

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college, holy spirit, uncertainty

"Who am I now?"

This post is for all the parents and students who are in the midst and mire of making college decisions.  We are with you my friends.  Our second daughter is nearing the end of her GAP year (a year off between HS and college for travel and work, a not uncommon custom we fell in love with in Australia).  We are now visiting schools and trying to “help” her make this decision.  Since there is entirely too much pressure on “what comes next” after high school I am of course giving the appearance of being a nervous wreck.  Thankfully, my process of connecting to Holy Spirit and extending love to my thoughts  is for these occasions pretty much the ONLY thing to do.  In my late night plea before visiting Columbia College of Art in Chicago to “please tell me what college is even FOR” my Holy Friend answered the fears and concerns of my heart:

“I extend awe to this thought.”

“Precious One,

Awe is the moment you take in pure quietness. 

The step into the emptiness of uncertainty–certain of Love’s glorious presence.  You have long resisted education as it seems to indicate you don’t know something.  Education is a process of revealing. A process of remembering the joy which is already here.  College is not an answer to “What do I do now?”

College is another step in learning in remembering “Who am I now?”

Fear not this step.  Trust your daughter and her heart.  Let her ask questions and be aware of what she is thinking herself.  She is opening to her own heart.  Fear not her heart.

Fear not her knowing.

Fear not her not knowing.

Let you guidance GUIDE you in all things.

I love you.

Did you know that?

I love you with the hearttruth of the infinite power of love.

Amen & Selah”

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