Being special is different from what I was taught

Like all human beings, I want to know that I am special. I was schooled to earn this state of grace by being different:  by standing out, cultivating individuality. Excelling. At all costs, avoiding the ordinary.

At some point in my healing and awakening, it occurred to me that we are each an ongoing special event. That is, we are each a unique archive of happenings and choices, blessings and curses: circumstances, encounters, people, places, words, fragrances: beautiful and plain permutations that cannot be replicated.

Life happens and we choose.

On the one hand, irreplaceable specialness everywhere. And on the other, nothing out of the ordinary.

A great angelic tenderness arises when I walk through the world with this vision.

 

traveling with Angels, or

on the verge of tears

by Sara Eisenberg

 

every once in a while, an Angel descends,

or perhaps rises up within.

eyes peer out through the heart,

the cityscape vibrates with saturated colors,

and the plain beauty of strangers crossing

paths, intent on some other

street corner that says

“home.”

 

i dodge a plastic cup blowing across my path,

a guy in cap and tee-shirt dodges traffic.

the post-office clerk takes time to show me the proper way to handle the various stickers involved in sending certified mail.

a bass rhythm shakes my car as i pull up to a red light.

 

Tenderness, that’s her

name.


Banner photo: Superstitions II, Alicia Armstrong. Eno Gallery, Hillsborough, North Carolina

More poetry: https://alifeofpractice.com/musings/transition-and-mischief-makers/

https://alifeofpractice.com/poetry/women-friends-come-bearing-gifts/

 

Bless the world with your practice

Bless the world with your practice

Whatever it is that you practice, do you pause to consider your intention? to direct your heart?

Whenever  you practice, recognize that it benefits the world, not just you personally.

Recognize that your practice simultaneously uplifts you and other humans and living beings.

Recognize that your practice simultaneously nourishes your soul and the Soul of the World.

Strengthen the healing and awakening power of your practice for the greater good by bringing greater consciousness, choice, and precision to your intention.

Then open your being and let it fly.

Bless yourself and the world with your practice.

 

Pardes

by Sara Eisenberg

 

Standing plain, cupped,

bending barely audible lunar winds towards You,

wedded and bedded,

drawing out each fine, twisted silken thread.

Say us together, a single illumined word.


 

For more on Blessing: https://alifeofpractice.com/daily-practices/a-blessing-habit/

For more poetry: https://alifeofpractice.com/musings/transition-and-mischief-makers/

https://alifeofpractice.com/poetry/women-friends-come-bearing-gifts/

https://alifeofpractice.com/poetry/still-life-with-cat-2/

This healing and awakening is “tacky,” i.e. real, human

Being more human, not more perfect can be so tacky: I have to mind the gap between the uncomfortably real and the idealized. Just now that means grief and anguish.

MIND THE GAP: I have always loved this sign that populates the London Underground, warning against a misstep between platform and train. The GAP I most need to MIND these days is the one between my Idealized, cleaned-up version of healing and awakening, and the Real Thing. I misstep daily, often without realizing it, as this rare dream illuminated for me a few nights ago:

I was in a cavernous, empty building, industriously erecting a sweet human-sized structure, well-proportioned, using high quality materials – there were four sturdy corner posts of well-turned and polished wood, a roof of shimmery colorful fabric overhead, some ethereal walls that left it open to a welcoming entry on all sides, until….

It abruptly collapsed…

And I found myself in the same cavernous, empty building, erecting – all higgledy-piggledy – a tacky little structure, a jumble of unidentifiable discarded materials, where everything was askew but managed to stand serviceably enough.

As I woke with these two images in mind, I could only shake my head at myself, recognizing the small structures were, respectively, my idealized image of a healed and awakened Sara, and the actual harum-scarum, raggle-taggle, hobson-jobson (to borrow again from the British), healing-awakening hot mess that I am.

As I woke, I was saying to myself: this is so tacky. Being more human and not perfect can be so tacky.

My dream was reminding me to be real, to reconcile myself one more time to my imperfect humanity.

Being real right now means I am awash in grief and anguish.  It means…

my cells are weeping

my nose is snotty

my sleep and defenses are shot

my invisibility cloak is inoperative

my frozen interior is melting

my fasciae are gaining in tensile strength and fluidity

my own hand resting on my thigh is penetrating comfort itself

anybody could find me and kill me off with a bit of kindness

I am finally, deeply, feeling a healing version of vaporous unseen and unnamed forces that have shaped every relationship, my very view of the world. Have propelled my movements through life, at times inflicting on others the very same neglect from which I suffered.

It is almost four years since I wrote the first drafts of these poems out of the shape of the relationship with my mother that I could sense kinesthetically with my whole body: a difficult yet mentally idealized picture. Now these poems are more vivid and alive:  salty, wet, and full of feeling.

So this healing and awakening is truly tacky, built of all manner of imperfections, mine and my mother’s. Uncomfortably real. But sturdy and not prone to abrupt collapse.

language is on my face

by Sara Eisenberg

language is on my face, Mother is un-lettered, i, an apple fallen close to her trunk, just beneath her tree, flat, looking up at her, a moon circling in a distant galaxy

 

Mother

by Sara Eisenberg

i am a world suspended upon

nothingness

 

launch myself on the wind

of my own arid breath,

mingle materially with

emptiness,

tract upon barren tract

until i

come up

up against

push up

up against

push,

push,

not landing,

push

against cloth black against darkness:

the shape of my mother,

herself bereft,

a mirror covered

against mourning,

swallowing light.


For more poetry:

https://alifeofpractice.com/daily-practices/an-exaltation-of-particulars/

https://alifeofpractice.com/poetry/women-friends-come-bearing-gifts/

 

Bend the Arc 100 : Come on in out of the cold

So you want to do your part to bend the arc towards justice? Then you’d better check you haven’t left some part of yourself out in the cold. You’re gonna want to bring your whole self with you. 

A week ago I basked in the company of eleven women ranging in age from their thirties to their seventies. We met to talk about how to mobilize our yearning and practice to bend the arc towards justice. We shared our intentions.

We practiced letting in all the parts of ourselves who showed up. 

We started there because we need every bit of our body, imagination and soul strength to bend the arc.

I want to share with you what I shared with them: a few words about inclusion from a nondual perspective. About its origins and power in what I call….

The Radical Oneness of existence, or the Universe, or Reality. Many spiritual traditions view the world in this way.  You could call this Oneness God, the One who Holds (as in He’s got the whole world in His hands), The Buddha-Nature, Isness, The Great Kindness, The Garment of Destiny (as Martin Luther King did), the Quantum Field (if you are a physics nerd.) My own roots are in Kabbalah, the Jewish wisdom tradition. I am partial to the Hebrew name Makom, which means The Place.

This is a Oneness so great that it holds every distinction, separation, split, pair  of opposites, conflict, suffering, goodness, and every known and unknown. This is a world that is One not because it is has not shattered, but because it includes every shattering and every shard and sliver.

We humans, on the other hand, split the world. It is our nature. Hard-wired. For our survival. We make distinctions: this/that, urban/rural, fashionable/out of style, essential/frivolous, normal, i.e. the norm/deviant. Then we go on to label them as “good” or “bad” and attempt to be/do/associate with the good-only. Or we inappropriately ride over, transcend, or erase differences, as in the view that we are a “post-racial” nation.

We do this splitting as we look out at the world. And we do this splitting as we look inward at ourselves. We tend to include the parts of ourselves that we like – that are up to our standards of behavior or performance or skill or kindness or morality. And to exclude other parts we don’t like.

For some of us, it’s the “good” parts we have trouble including, so we deny or minimize – that thing that I do, it’s not such a big deal.  Or diminish ourselves in comparison to someone “better.” Or fall into the mantra, “not good enough, not good enough, not good enough.”

The inner critic manages to keep close track of these. So does the task-master. So does the one intent on personal or spiritual growth, who often teams up with the critic/taskmaster to

–  wheedle, charm, or ring self-acceptance out of us

– turn us into an un-ending self-improvement project

– insist that we “let go of,”  “purify” or “transcend” or “see it as illusion” or otherwise get rid of/kill off the the parts of ourselves we don’t like

– shame us, a category all its own

Living in this gap between our idealized and our real self is a high-maintenance and exhausting job, all the more-so when we aren’t awake to it.

Nondual practice – rooted in Radical Oneness, turns our attention towards forging a path of deep self-acceptance and dedication to staying at our working edge. We do our best to listen to the intelligence of our strengths and limitations, the parts of ourselves that we like, the parts we hate or despair of, the parts we deny or minimize.

The more we can do this, include each of these parts, come into relationship with them, give them a place, the more wisdom we have access to, and the less our limitations are obstacles in our path. The more we can do this, the more we can be intelligent companions to all kinds of people. We have less compulsion to turn our  “opposites” into our “opposition.”  The more we can do this, the more we are neither larger nor smaller than we actually are. (This has been one of my specialities, going back and forth between messianic aspirations and goals and helplessness.)

It also turns out that as we can do this, the more that connection and Oneness shine through the multiplicity. The fabric shimmers, even while wet with tears. The more palpable God’s presence becomes in our daily lives. This is the work of healing and awakening.

What does this have to do with bending the arc?

  • Pragmatically, materially speaking, we need all the wisdom we can access, and all the wholeness we can muster, to meet life.
  • From the standpoint of healing and awakening, we are each born into this world to bend the arc in a particular way: that particular way of bending that we are born for, born to, heals our soul, and heals the world. Inseparably. Simultaneously. The very same life. That is what we are here for.
  • And we are not on our own in this work. Reality has our back.

We humans and God: together we bend the arc.