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Tag: Mysticism

If These Hills Could Speak

If These Hills Could Speak

 

 

Last night above the hills you crept

Rain caressing the mesa as you wept

Tears of all who walked this way

Shadows of souls still wandering today

 

Listen, If only these hills could speak

Wind boisterous and bold but never meek

Land with voice, stripped raw and naked

Holding bones of the many sacred

 

Tell me who you were, what happened here

I feel your presence, strong and clear

In the still of night you visited my room

Memories of your life weaving a mystical loom

 

Speak soft and quietly if you must

I hear your whisper between grains of dust

Heat of daylight silencing the bustling squalls

As the final moment encroaches, inscribing the wall.

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

Ancient Spirits

Ancient Spirits

 

I walk with spirit, strong and fierce

Each crack of thunder, light does pierce

Souls of those wandering long ago

Traces of energy as if arrows to a bow

 

One moment the valley is quiet in repose

The only sound witnessed, the squawk of the crows

Suddenly wind dances and spirit beckons

Drawing in those who dare to reckon

 

The mesa stands, resolute as before

As if, representing a historical door

Breathing in the air, lungs holding life

Stone to a hearth, bone to a knife

 

Storm clouds billow from the crest of hills

Ancient spirits painting with time honored will

This place is forever present, no matter the map

Spoken in the rumble of each thunder clap

 

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

Mesa Verde. What words can one speak to paint a picture worthy of the actual? It seems trite to write about a place that speaks and sings as if teaming with life still today.  The storms roll in and can be seen miles away in all directions. The ravens playfully squawk, taunting all those who venture this sacred ground. The sun playfully kisses the tops of the mesa and the moon shines with a silver beauty reserved for ancient souls and brilliant spectacles of light.

 

I could stay in a place like Mesa Verde and be content for the remainder of my life. The dynamic energy is humbling and begs to be explored, not superficially as a passing tourist might. This place is a living, breathing organism and would take a lifetime to understand if only in some small way. I am certain that given the opportunity, I would listen intently to the sky and hope to hear what it has to say.

 

Returning to Los Angeles fills me with a deep sense of melancholy with the knowing that Mesa Verde lives on. Maybe this is the way the ancients felt, leaving the majesty of these cliffs and the intimacy of these rocks. I understand that thumbprints remain on some walls after having been smoothed by ancient builders.  What I would give to rest my finger upon this ancient graffiti and feel the spirits of long ago.

 

I suspect if given the opportunity, I might find a kindred soul among the ancients. Being one who has never felt of this time, the intimate relationship between people, land and spirit speaks to me as no other place has. How can one return to the bustle of city life, rush hour traffic and the disease of busyness? For the moment, I plan to soak in all this place has to offer in the whispers of the wind and the painting of the sky. I will imprint the memory of this place until I can return once again to walk with the ancients.

 

Let The Trees Speak

Let The Trees Speak

 

Quiet a voice and silence a mind

Listen for what those know, remind

Ancient, regal, centurion and true

Reaching, never quite touching blue

 

Long knowing what is hidden below

Secrets, stories buried deep in the snow

Mystical, magical, wondrous and true

Let the trees speak as if hearing you

 

Listen for words etched with the pen of time

Just with caressed skin, releasing what binds

Wells of energy deep within all that begins

Streams of light shimmer, radiating from within

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

Geography of a Life

Geography of a Life

 

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Have you ever looked at an old map and wondered how the cartographer viewed the world so differently than what is known to be true today? It was not very long ago when scientists believed the earth to be flat. As a lifelong student of geography, I have always been fascinated by this historical lens into human nature.  Reading and even touching old maps allows for a certain connection to past ideas along with a knowing that all things are relative with time.

 

Expanding on this, I find the field of astrophysics to be absolutely mind blowing. Framing all that ever was and all that will ever be within a set of scientific laws is an impossible task. Those who work in this field seem to have a particular ability to blur and bend the lines of this reality in the most creative of ways. Science and mysticism are kindred spirits, both resting on the unknown rather than the known. Highly speculative and ever evolving, the universe is akin to a good book daring one to read, yet never allowing the reader to reach the final chapter. A constant thirst for knowledge, that given the current information, can never be quenched.

 

“For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.”

―John O’Donohue , Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Because of this similarity it is possible to state with certainty that mysticism inhabits universal curiosity in a way that parallels science. Asking “what if?” and “why not?” echoes the constant state of questioning that is required of a seeker. Just as one ideology has been discovered and explored, another presents that speaks to the soul in a way that begs for attention. To some this may seem indecisive, but this could not be further from the truth. Mysticism allows for a constant push and pull of ideas without prejudice. Therefore beauty lies within the questions, not the answers.

 

With all of this being so, the map of ones life will vary widely from all others. There is no true way to a specific destination, but rather a multitude of possible roads that will lead to the same end. My geography may look much different from a friend or loved one. It is never for me to compare, but to focus on my unique map by following the directions therein. If I spend my days comparing and allowing the voice of the critic to rear its ugly head, I would be ignoring all that has been provided by spirit. The truth being that the geography of my physical body will change with age and eventually transform to the next. With patience and even some grace, my spiritual geography will also transform into exactly what is meant for me.

 

“Your body is your clay home; your body is the only home that you have in this universe. It is in and through your body that your soul becomes visible and real for you. Your body is the home of your soul on earth.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Just as a maps paper fades becoming yellow and frayed, so too does our past. The sharpness of past experiences should never remain brightly in the forefront but rather muted and distant, referenced only as a tool and not a crutch. Holding to the past will only delay the inevitable change in direction that is expected during moments of great transformation. Holding will delay the drawing of a new map and all the wonderful experiences that encompass the letting go of what no longer serves.

 

Embrace your unique geography, both inside and out. You are a beautiful child of the universe and exactly as you should be at this point. Learn to sit in this place knowing that more is yet to be discovered on the grand tapestry of life. Take heart in the roughness and discomfort and face each new day with interest and curiosity. One day, you will acknowledge all the detours and obstacles that you traversed and stand in awe of the beautiful work of art you have become.

 

Finding My Way Home

Finding My Way Home

 

“This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway. Step around the poisonous vipers that slither at your feet, attempting to throw you off your course. Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away. Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.”

― Mirabai Starr, The Interior Castle

 

Frustrated by disparity between the self-help movement, religions that profess acceptance and actual practice, I find myself in the gray once again.  People are imperfect, yet it baffles me when those that profess to be pious judge with utter abandon. It is for this very reason I made the personal decision to explore all practices but claim none. Each has something to offer along with something that speaks directly to me. In my view, if everyone practiced love as a core belief, judgment would be counter to any belief.

 

In this way, reading the words of the mystics has offered a specific calmness in my life. I share their depth of feeling as well as a misfit sensibility demonstrated by disconnect with the progression of others. Everyone else may be thinking about a to-do list or how to capture success while I am in that quiet place of serenity and solitude dancing with my thoughts. No one seems to notice, I make no outward appearance to this fact. I slip in and out of this realm with a practiced ease, questioning everything.

 

Of the many questions I ponder, one remains. Why is it that so many faiths lay down strict rules of engagement prescribing how one should experience the Divine? Who has the authority to tell me how to experience what should be freely given.  It is important to allow room for spiritual discovery in the way that speaks to one as an individual. No organization, ideology or otherwise can hold weight over this self-discovery. Mysticism allows for this space, a space to experience spirit in a personal way, a space between all else.

 

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”

― Gautama Buddha

 

There are many ways to the same end. The faithful practitioner may come to the same conclusions as one that has spent a lifetime of immersion in mystic thought, empowering the individual experience over the group. No one-way is the only way; I refuse to accept that premise. Mirabai Starr speaks to this beautifully with, “Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away.” Another soul that feels as I do!

 

Never second-guess your path. It is unique to you and therefore requires no further scrutiny from others. Be bold yet humble, just as Ms. Starr states. Take chances, but ask questions of yourself. Face your fears and do so with a loving heart. Forging your own way does not require announcement or explanation. Quiet the voices and silence your mind. Trust in your ability to discern the truth from all else. Take as many detours as needed, approaching all misfortune with patience and love. Find your way home.

 

Feel the Universe

Feel the Universe

 

“This magnificent refuge is inside you.

Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.

Step around the poisonous vipers that slither at your feet, attempting to throw you off your course.

Be bold. Be humble.

Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you.

Ask no permission from the authorities.

Slip away.

Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.”

― Mirabai Starr, The Interior Castle

 

Can you relate too feeling you are not living as fully as you could? Having a constant nagging feeling, as if something more is necessary to live authentically? Personally, I don’t think I can recall a time when I did not have these feelings in one form or another. Never one to feel a part of a group, I am a drifter plagued with feelings of loneliness and a specific separateness from all those around me. This feeling creates a constant sense of melancholy, a sense that something is amiss.

 

Mirabai Starr speaks so beautifully to this with, “Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.” These words bring tears to my eyes. Being well familiar with stillness of the mind, I suffer from a permanent homesickness for this still place that has no geographic identity. The place within that contains all that is and all that will ever be. When closing my eyes and tapping into this energetic freeway, I experience an overwhelming feeling of calm, as if all my nerve endings have been suddenly soothed by the connection.

 

Observing me when I’m in this place must appear strange to others. It is not mediation, a practice that I do not particularly care for. Rather, it is a visceral connection to the energy of the universe, that which is the creator and the created.  A look of complete surrender and abandon appears on my face. For a few moments all of the shadows of this world are lit up by the light of eternity. Quite spectacular.

 

I make every attempt to take a few moments each day to slip into this space. I try to let these moments go unnoticed as to not cause concern or worry to those around me. They may or may not understand my practice and this is never a consideration for me. Each person has their own rhythm of discovery and I am in no place to judge the speed of another. In this same vein, it is important that others do not judge or raise an eyebrow to my experience. I have no other compass to guide me except this space and the light. It provides clarity, direction and serenity in a world that has very little patience.

 

Take a few moments today and “Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway…….Slip away”. Let the universe speak to you and communicate back all of your loneliness, trepidation, fear and joy. Let your internal dialogue flourish and ignore the external voices that nip at your heel. Be yourself, feel your energy flowing and remember that your heart speaks in every moment; you just need to tune into the right channel and listen.

 

The Space Between

The Space Between

Oh Beloved,

take me.

Liberate my soul.

Fill me with your love and

release me from the two worlds.

If I set my heart on anything but you

let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,

take away what I want.

Take away what I do.

Take away what I need.

Take away everything

that takes me from you.

-Rumi

 

I comfortably reside in the space between, constantly vacillating between two ends of a spectrum. The space in which night meets day, darkness greets light and in which ideas percolate like a strong cup of coffee. This space is calm, no unnecessary posturing. Ideas bounce off the boundaries as if molecules of a much larger universe. Nothing is claimed but all is examined. It is a space of introspection and deep thought, a place I like to stay in until ushered out by the demands of the world.

 

If asked what my favorite color, book, food or movie is, I have no answer. It is not that I don’t harbor strong opinions, because I do. Nothing floats up to the surface from this between without great introspection and review. I prefer to let things simmer, mulling over the merits of all positions and the reasons why people hold the beliefs they do. Rumi speaks to this with “Fill me with your love and, release me from the two worlds, If I set my heart on anything but you, let fire burn me from inside.” I wish to be released from the world of right and wrong and black and white. I wish to live in the muted world of gray. I wish to be left alone with an uncluttered brain, free to think and write without the noise of others constant chatter about things that mean very little to me.

 

“When you start to notice the mystical, the mystical will start to notice you.”

― Dacha Avelin

 

Because of these desires, I am often seen as wishy-washy. On the contrary, I have a constant internal dialogue going at all times. I am able to see all sides of an argument, the only exception being when an idea goes against my core beliefs. If this should happen, God be with you. I can be very stubborn and disagreeable about the few things that I hold dear.

 

All of this makes me question what really makes something wrong as opposed to right? Obviously, some values are clear and non negotiable. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness and so on and so forth. I don’t think many would argue the merits of the Golden Rule. Rather, it is in all other instances, that I vacillate. On a thousand fronts whether it be tattoos, religion, reading material/genre, intimacy or political ideas. I stand in the middle and enjoy a panoramic view of the world discussion.

 

Why then is this space foreign to so many? Would it not be a better world if everyone dwelled closer to the middle rather than the extreme? We are all fragile souls having a very imperfect and human experience. It can be a painful experience when not given breath and space to live an examined life. We require this space to spread our wings and learn how to fly, each in our own unique and beautiful way. The next time you are pressed for an opinion or pulled into a debate, move gently and quietly away from the noise. Do not make a scene; do not hurt the other person. Retreat into the space between and into the calm and serene waters of understanding, faith, hope and love.

 

Slowly

Slowly

 

Slowly

Walking out of the darkness, shrouded in a specific heaviness

I see rays of light so bright in their intensity

Heat sears my face and a fullness grows in my heart

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

My back guards against all misdeeds

Eyes gazing towards absolution

Comfort in the mystery, seeded in the unknown

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

With each passing day I make some progress

Inching closer to everything

Leaving behind nothing but my shadow

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

I begin to shed layer upon layer

Seeking a blissful lightness

Butterfly wings emerging from a cocoon

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Sadness, sickness, loneliness and fear

Celebration, joy, tenderness and togetherness.

Every emotion under my skin makes an appearance

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Days change, seasons change, people in my life change

I continue to walk forward, bit by bit

Deliberately, thoughtfully, towards only myself

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

At first I resist, frightened and scared

Now I press forward for me, no one else

Willingly, excited with possibilities

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Time passes, my heart beats with anticipation

Living each adventure as it comes and goes

Slowly, I surrender to the path and allow hope to sing

Peacefully, I take yet another step and take flight.

-Lavinia Busch

 

 

Why is it that the answers I seek always seem elusive?  In practice, the old adage one step forward, two steps back leaves me disillusioned and lost. To this end, I had a deeply emotional experience while walking a few days ago. Writing poetic verse in my head with each step, I simply could not stop the words and emotions from pouring out.  After having written a full piece and walking over five miles, I cried.  Not bitter tears of sadness but tears of a profound letting go.

 

Having an experience such as this, I often question what in my personal life may be out of sorts. Troubles I have pushed down into the depths of my psyche, afraid of what a closer analysis might reveal. I am also aware that it takes a combination of events to ruffle my feathers rather than just one. I may have personal things on my mind, professional matters that are pressing and family dynamics that are stressful.  It is never just as simple as one thing; I am far too complex for that.

 

Walking and writing, I was reminded that life is not a sprint but a marathon.  Anything that is troubling me will find its way to resolution. Whether a resolution of my liking or not, it will come nonetheless.  I need not always have the answers. On this particular day, walking up one of my favorite hills, I once again made the decision to let go and resigned myself to living in and accepting the unknown.  My tears were tears of relief, fear and anticipation welcoming the space between conflict and resolution, doubt and understanding, an uncomfortable place to be sure. In my case, discomfort is always a precursor to growth. Like it or not this has always proven to be true.

 

“It has taken me quite a few years to realize the fact that most of the thoughts in my head are not necessary.”

― Bert McCoy

 

I inherently know that my life will end.  Upon the moment of my death, I may find myself still befuddled and bewildered, caught in that space between.  With this knowledge, I alone am left with the choice to step off the treadmill of indecision and soar. The process of enlightenment can be laboriously slow. Each life event comes with a specific lesson and opportunity for growth. Some of these lessons arrive quietly without much notice while others are abrupt and painful in the unfolding. The only guarantee is that the lessons will continue to present, even when I have had enough and think I cannot bear another.

 

That day on the hill, I found a momentary sense of calm and serenity. Even though life is forever proving the security I crave to be elusive, I am okay. I know I will persist, carry on and live my life to the best of my ability. Everything around me may continue to swirl and flex but I can stand in the middle of this vortex and free myself from the outcome.  I can create a steady and secure environment regardless of what outside forces move against me and become stronger for having done so. With this momentary enlightenment, taking a deep and soulful breath, I smiled. Feeling the wind on my face, the sun shining down, I allowed my mind to be still. I reveled in this stillness, a peaceful surrender to all that is unknown and may remain so. Continuing to live in the mystery is one of my greatest challenges and at the same time a beautiful gift.

 

Know Thyself

Know Thyself

 

Know Thy Self

A person who knows not

And knows not that they know not

Is foolish – disregard them

A person who knows not

And knows that they know not

Is simple – teach them

A person who knows not

And believes that they know

Is dangerous – avoid them

A person who knows

And knows not that they know

Is asleep – awaken them

A person who knows

And knows that they know

Is wise – follow them

All of these persons reside in you

Know Thy Self

And to Maat be true *A modern adaptation of an ancient proverb (From “Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization, Exploding The Myth, Vol. 1” by Anthony T. Browder, p. opposite Contents.)

 

The Greek phrase, “know thyself” or γνῶθι σεαυτόν rings true even after thousands of years. It is in the simplicity of the phrase that the beauty resides.  No need for verbose language to get this point across, the ancient Greeks may have been on to something. Just as we have the propensity to make things more complicated than they are, this phrase very quickly quiets the noise with the idea that the answers we seek are within. No vision quests, walkabouts or midlife crises will assist with this discovery.  A deep knowing is earned only by introspection and spiritual questioning which can be accomplished from any zip code, in any life situation and at any age.

 

Why then are so many failing to do the work required to know thyself?  As one that has a constant curiosity about others and the way in which they navigate the world, I find that many seem lost.  By this I mean they have not done the personal work of self examination. This apparent lack of interest in introspection finds many still searching outside of themselves for answers.  I have never professed to know much of anything, but what I do know is that I have no desire to walk the path with someone that is still looking externally for validation and comfort.

 

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

― Lao Tzu

 

It therefore becomes difficult to find a tribe, a soul mate or person at the same vibration as myself.  I have no interest in a parent child or student teacher relationship; I am looking for someone in the same place as myself, a partner that can travel the road beside me rather than before me or behind.  Granted I am an odd nut. I have been seeking answers to the deeper questions since elementary school.  Yes, I have lived a colorful life and in doing so have made many discoveries along the way, yet I have so much more room to grow. I have learned that a prerequisite to knowing self lies with the understanding that knowing is not knowing. In my view this is the first step in a long and thoughtful journey.  It takes a humble soul to stand before the world and recognize that everything is not as it seems. The world as we know it is just external circumstance for a larger lesson. The tools of the lesson vary from person to person, but I suspect we all follow a similar syllabus in the end.

 

“The one great art is that of making a complete human being of oneself.”

― G.I. Gurdjieff

 
How does one go about this work?  I believe the path varies, the key point being in the attempt.  We are all fallible and none of us are perfect.  The work is in the commitment to continually walk the spiritual path. This may look different for each person, but the end result should be the same. I would even argue that one must work on knowing self before giving themselves to another. It is a symbiotic relationship and when approached with some intention, a beautiful one.

Prayer as a Practice

Prayer as a Practice

 

I have always prayed.  As a young girl I remember very clearly having an internal dialogue with my guardian angels. I spoke to them often and asked for their guidance and intervention on numerous occasions. I also recall saying the Lord’s Pray anytime that I was frightened, which was quite often given the house I grew up in and my natural proclivity to be anxious and fearful. In addition, prayer was an open point of discussion in my childhood home and nothing outside of the realm of usual family activities.  

 

As happens in so many family stories, I stretched my independence muscles a little too vigorously and found myself out on my own at twenty with my newborn daughter. My husband had no formal practice for prayer and often teased me about this seamless connection I had developed between this world and the next.  I spoke much differently than he did about angels and the sharing of energy which only deepened the divide between us.  Being young and ignorant to the feminine power that I had, I became submissive on this topic and stopped openly practicing what I knew to be true. Regardless, that rich inner dialogue that had been developed in my childhood could not be silenced and I continually prayed and asked for guidance for the many challenges that faced me.

 

As the years passed and I was blessed with another beautiful child, I decided to lay the foundation by speaking openly with my children about their guardian angels and the importance of energy. Rarely did I ever take them to church, but if asked they will tell you they always knew me to be a spiritual person. I was well aware of my responsibility for the children’s spiritual growth but choose to impart it in my own unique way much to the chagrin of my parents. Reflecting back, I believe this period of time to be my first foray into mysticism and all that it means to be constantly questioning and developing a personal relationship with spirit. I did not know that was where I was ultimately headed; I only knew that it felt right.

 

Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will.

At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will.

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee.

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love.

Amen.

 

During some of my most difficult years of transformation, my father sent me a prayer as he often did to soothe me. This particular prayer, the Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders, can still be found on my refrigerator door. When moving around my kitchen, my eyes typically fall on these two phrases, “Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee. Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.” What powerful words to read many times over and internalize.

 

When faced with difficulties it becomes so easy to only think of self rather than those around us.  Our thoughts exist in a constant loop of analysis and those surrounding us can get lost in the noise.  Belief that all is sent down by a higher power, whether you profess to this or not, is a comfort when the world feels very much out of control. I also pause each time I read the last few words, “neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone”, so hard to do when feeling wronged.  It is much easier to think angry thoughts about those that have chosen to be hurtful without any consideration. It is only natural to want to defend self, but does this have to mean saddening another? 

 

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’

-Aldous Huxley

 

I continue to study this prayer each time my eyes find it among the other refrigerator decor. I linger just a bit longer and try to read each word with new eyes. Reading is often followed by a sigh of recognition and a promise to begin anew, no matter what is troubling me, a prayer for the ages and one that I will continue to cherish for many years to come.