On Seasons and Enlightenment

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spring 2

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Spring. The season of letting go.

 

So begins the natural year.  Rebirth.  New life.  Last years’ leaves enrich this year soil.  Last year’s blossoms have become this year’s seeds.  Nourish them. Give them room. Allow them to take root. Tend to them wisely and they will grow.

 

Now is the time to get grounded. We can start with Spring Cleaning.

 

~

 

So it’s Spring. Here in the high country it comes in small doses.  Rations.  Little tantalizing tastes. And then another snow storm hits and your world is white and you wonder if that bright green grass was just a dream…

 

Now’s the time of fixing fences, dragging pasture, shoeing horses, getting the stock (and ourselves) in shape for the work of the upcoming season, clearing trail, and up here, always gathering fire wood.

 

All that fun stuff aside, this is the time of year I’m Cabin Cleaner Extraordinaire. Not really the most romantic part of my position in life, but the true meat-and-potatoes. The part that makes the rest of it not only possible, but worthwhile. The part that’s about giving, sharing, gratitude and humility. Without which, well, what’s the point?  Self-indulgence only gets you so far.  It gets old fast.  At least, one can hope it will.

 

Anyway, we run a guest ranch. Six rental cabins. All sitting shut down, unused, gathering dust and cob webs and muddy prints and dirt from who-knows-where but there it is, for the past six months.  Each one to be transformed into spic and span, and warm and welcoming with the touch of my magic broom.

 

See?  Plenty of practice in the spring cleaning department.

 

So here I am, with a bucket and mop and wet rag, and I get to thinking…

 

~

 

About enlightenment.

 

What does cleaning have to do with enlightenment?

 

A lot!

 

First, let’s considered this. What is enlightenment?  For definition, look around at those you might consider enlightened.  Are they in one place and remaining there stagnant?  Or are they involved in a process?  I think we often look at (are told) enlightenment is one single state rather than a way of being and an ongoing journey, an evolutionary existence. Like the seasons, a continuum of birth, growth, death, transformation, rebirth.

 

We look to authorities for the answers, when they are within us and around us all along.  Learn to listen. Quietly. To the sound of rain on soft spring soil and the rustle of newly emerging leaves.

 

What do you believe?  Not what you were told, given or born into, but deep inside yourself if you dare to take the time to look.  Tell me about those truths.

 

I see enlightenment not as some final product and divine state, but as the simple process of conscious being… which begins with letting go, lightening up.

 

So, lighten up!

 

No, it doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end. But that’s where it starts. So let’s start.

 

~

 

Enlightenment need not be something exclusive and elusive.  We give it high airs and think it’s out of reach, some unobtainable state reserved for the special few.  The term is often misused or over used, as in, “I am,” “He is,” “She is,” and, “You, sorry, are not…”

 

That’s not true enlightenment.  That’s ego.  Let that one go too.

 

Enlightenment is within us all. It is without judgment. Without expectation, assumptions, demands.  It is without heirs, pretentions and prejudice.  And it is not like a light bulb that once we flick the switch, it’s on for good.  It too needs tending.  It ebbs and flows like waves and wind. We don’t get somewhere and remain there. It is not one place.  It is a never ending process. It is life and beyond life.

 

It’s all of us, all the time. It’s do-able It’s a state we all are in, any time we change and grow and even try to understand.  Any time we make room within us to open up and clearly see and be.  It’s not always big stuff.  Start small. Start with cleaning. Cleansing. Letting go. Opening up.

 

This is just the first step. The first season.

 

Cleaning, cleansing, clearing yourself of what you no longer need.  Getting rid of old baggage.

 

Yes, it’s that simple. And that hard.  Because we all know how hard it is sometimes to just let go.  We’re quick to cling, to hold on tight, and define ourselves by things we’ve had or happened in the past.  We’re slow to see how bound we are until we begin counting and releasing our attachments.

 

So, we start by letting go, lightening up. Get rid of that stuff.  Shed.

 

Enlighten!

 

~

 

The path to enlightenment is different for us all.  I live in and with nature. So for me, it’s easier to see life as a natural process. Here’s how I see it work around me, and thus within me:

 

  1. Spring:  Clean up.  Let go. Lighten up. Enlighten.

 

Spring cleaning of the body, mind and soul… and cabins and land.

Take care of them all.

Everything matters; nothing matters.

Consolidate.  Prioritize. Pare down to the basics. Get rid of the baggage.

Clear yourself of judgments, expectations, assumptions, demands, criticism.

Just be.

Be curious about the beautiful world around you.

Be a part of it, not separate and detached.

Fully connect.

Get to know yourself. Unadorned with ones past, possession or pretenses.

Let go of the ego, self definition and social status.

What are you left with?

Fresh soil on a raw spring day.

 

  1. Summer:   Work. Give.

 

This is the season of plenty.

Expansion.

Of growth and abundance and long days and clear connection with heaven and earth through sun and rain and rich soil and the brilliant colors of wildflowers and soft embrace of the wind.

Now it’s time to replenish, fill your self with positive stuff.

Nourish and nurture.  Our body, mind, soul. Those around us, the world we live in.

What matters most?

Whatever works for you, but not just for you:

Pray, meditate, practice, tend to your body, the Earth, give, do and care for others?

We live in the days of choice.

Consider widely.

Choose wisely.

 

  1. Autumn:  Remain. Complete.

 

Autumn.  Settling in, stocking the pantry, storing up for the long winter ahead.

This is the time of completion:  fruit ripens, seeds form, leaves are released and branches laid bare.

This is time of bringing the life blood back to the roots where it will remain for the long cold season ahead.

Here’s the one thing often missing. The key to making the equation work.

It’s called commitment.

Sticking with it.

Completion of a task well done.

Commitment is not a four letter word.  It won’t bite.  Try it.

Commitment is not a popular word these days.  Old fashioned.

As in, “Oh, really, you’re still working there?”  “You’re still doing that?”  “You’re still with him?”

Yes, yes, and yes.

And this what allows us to become really good at something, get stuff done, complete what we start out to accomplish, be true to our word, deepen our relationships, complete one thing so we can move on to  the next, and know for sure we can get more done.
Not to say it’s about accomplishment. That is not the goal.  But accomplishment as part of the natural process.  How can you grow and move beyond without completing and concluding?

Are we as flighty as the wind or as solid as the earth we stand upon?

Are we above this earth or a part of it?

Depending on your beliefs… and respecting others for theirs.
I see the cow elk running through the woods with her calf and the red-tailed hawked soaring above screeching her return to the mountain and the purple heads of the monkshood coyly emerging and hear the song of the Mighty Rio echoing on the cliffs.

This is the world around me.

And I am honored to be of this earth.

My ego does not place me greater than this, but connected to it all.

 

  1. Winter:  Dormancy.

 

Here in the high country in winter, in the vast whiteness that it is,

Just be.

Nothing more.

This is your time of stillness,

Of being,

Until you must, for you will, because life moves, we move.

We are neither static not stagnant.

This is the secret of the seasons we are not told

But we observe

In winter.

The time to settle in and go deep and in our quiet slumber, find our inner truths.

This is when change happens, we become.

We are constantly evolving, growing.  We are not inert beings (read:  stick in the mud?)

Change is a certain part of our human existence.

No, this doesn’t mean bag the commitment and try something new at every whim.

It means complete, release, and evolve.  Flow with the process.

It means to take the time to consider.  Where are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going?  Where are you  here and now?

Understand the seasons and be a part of them.

Let one blossom fade and fall off while a new bud begins to form, and a blossom opens.

Don’t get stuck in the mud, but know where to grow strong roots.

Are we meant to rise above our human existence, or make the most of it?

Transcend from this beautiful world, or be humble and grateful of the world around us, find our place and understand why we are here?

 

~

 

And so the cycles of the seasons continues.

 

Are we ever in just one stage?  Only for brief moments. Like the seasons, we are ever changing.  Because the nature of life is movement and change, and so we flow. This is our evolutionary existence.

 

~

 

Well, back to the beginning.

 

Spring.  Mud.  And cleaning.

Enlightening.

 

So there you have it. Spring cleaning.  It’s not just about dust and cobwebs. It can be a first step to enlightenment.  But instead of cabins, it’s our heart, mind and soul.  Dust of those cob webs.  Get rid of the tracks that came in from who or where we don’t even remember. Clean up the old pile of old news in the corner that’s been there since last year.  Make room for new stuff. Good stuff.  Allow yourself time to breathe, and create a space to expand.

 

Oh, and speaking about those cobwebs…

 

~

 

I leave you with this story.

 

Okay, I know a lot of you don’t like spiders and find them really creepy, but for the sake of this story, try to forget that for just a moment and hear me out.  Think of them as “natural.”  And there I was, out in nature. So, spiders have their place.  Believe me, I’m not big on them in my bedroom either…

 

Out on a walk in the woods yesterday, I came across a spider web tucked gracefully under a tree with speckled light illuminating the fine silks and a small gray spider the color of tree bark poised in the center, resting.  I stopped and stared and considered something beautiful from this simple sight.

 

Think about the correlation. She starts with nothing. Air. Space. And into that, she spins her web,

Perfect, beautiful, intricate, with care, symmetry.

 

How long did it take her to create this? She gives it everything she can to create it.  Now it is.

 

And when her hard work is done, she sits and waits.

 

In due time, into that web that she so carefully formed, comes exactly what she needs.  She doesn’t plan or act or lure or try any fancy tricks.  She just creates, with hard work, commitment and care. And then with patience, she allows and trusts and knows…

 

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spring 6

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Shared today on Conscious Life News.

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Seven Poems in Seven Days.

Actually there were ten, but some of them aren’t worth sharing.

 

After feeling “too busy” and having “too much” else going on (right, join the crowd – I’ll share more on this next week)… my heart returns to poetry.  Like nature, this is where I find my grounding, my uplifting. The first thing I ever remember writing.  I wonder if it will be the last.

 

The following is the result of a ten-day personal challenge taken on with Carrie of The Shady Tree.

It turned out to be a prolific enlightening to my inner passion.

Perhaps it may just look like lot of words.

With these, I hope you may find something that touches your heart too.

Read a paragraph, a stanza, a poem as you like.

 

Gratitude for a dear friend, fellow poet, artist, and lover of family, nature and life.

Gratitude for words, creativity, and inspiration – all of which abound in this beautiful world.

(Please stop by Carrie’s site over the next few days, too, to see how the same photo can inspire such different words.)

~

Photo by Carrie of The Shady Tree

 

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You can only get

Here

by wet foot

Cool and soft and

 

squishing deep brown

between bare toes

Over slick rocks

 

The sweet moist scent of earth and

Decay

Last years dreams fermenting in

 

Never drying soil

Like a festering open wound

Where the branches bend low overhead

 

Heavy and wet and untouched

By daylight

which in turn is obscured

 

By an endless

swath of fog

 

Dampened desires

Laying heavy on moist flesh

Suppressed by sunlessness

 

Do you remember what

burning feels like

Warm and gold on

 

Exposed flesh

 

Instead in this succulence

Each drop a tiny window into the soul

An eternal pool

 

That will evaporate

and turn to steam

Should the sun burn

 

through the fog

~

Photo by Gin

 

~

Barren are last year’s

blossoms

now Hard and brittle

Spent and sallow

having been bent over

By the weight of

last season’s snow

Their seeds scattered

in the spring rains

Brown dust

to brown earth

And so it should be

 

I lean over

as not to disturb

That which managed

against the elements

And marvel

at the simplicity

And complete

complexity and pure beauty

Preserved by the wind like

An embalmed queen

 

What inner

secrets do you reveal

Spilling forth promises

of eternity

That few may

bend close to hear

Before the bright easy days

of new growth

Consume us

~

Photo by Carrie of The Shady Tree

 

~

On Wednesday

The midwife soars

Grounded

 

Taking flight

Because she is called

And though it appears

 

She has no control

And just moves

Out of action or reaction

 

of spreading her wings

And rising effortlessly

gracefully naturally into the stirring air

 

This remains

the most self controlled act

she may ever manage

 

Of leaving a ground

And returning

While remaining where she was.

~

Photo by Gin

 

~

Last year’s leaves

Next year’s soil

Compressed under this morning’s snow

 

Elk tracks across pasture

Revealing delicate chartreuse

Of spring grass

 

Seeds

Transforming

A quiet awakening

 

Beneath the consuming

unassuming white shelter

The robin is silent this morning.

 

How can I see something new

In the same old landscape

Like looking into the eyes of a lover

 

You have wrapped your body

around for over a dozen years

And still find beauty and shiver.

 

now in static essence of early morning

Upon brown damp soil

robin sings in the cold grey light.

~

Photo by Gin

 

~

Boots by the door

coated with clay

Brought in from out there,

Damp coats and wool hats

 

hang to dry.

What’s the point

You ask me

And I don’t have

 

a good reply.

We both know

they will only

be wet again.

 

Somehow starting out

dry

seems like

the thing to do.

 

The dog comes in

indifferent to wet fur and

Brown tracks behind him

With no boots to

 

leave by the door.

 

Out there

Where the bark of aspen

is soaked  to green grey.

Silver tips

 

on bare branches where

water pools in

tiny glass beads,

and brown water

 

flowing through

brown soil, saturated.

creeks cutting new paths.

old paths.

 

it will all be washed away

we say

if this keeps up.

Heavy skies

 

in stratum,

the movement of

silky flowing veils.

What secrets do they reveal

 

As an entire mountain

Obscured

And does it matter anyway

That the horizon has changed,

 

Is no longer

Peaks and ridges

But soft simple close

White?

 

The view, the future, awareness

Lost

In the sound on the metal roof

That comes in waves,

Strong and steady like

 

deep breathing

As wet as the ocean

And as far away

Above me

~

Photo by Carrie of The Shady Tree

 

~

In my dreams

I am flying

Downward

 

Into secret places

Of mountain

And mind

 

Of my soul

Where even in winter

It is lush and green

 

Places no one else

can touch

Or see

 

And maybe I won’t share

Not even with you

Unless I feel certain

 

You need to know

I keep them for

Myself

 

I become Crow

Seeing from above

A  mountain in

 

parts of a whole

 

Its steep slopes

And jagged rocks

And soft spring grasses

 

And the course of

the cutting river

From so high

 

As if I were

in the wind

blowing

 

across the open flats

and navigating the

rugged bluffs

 

in and out of

tall timber

until at last I light

 

upon the highest snag

 

above it all

the voyeur of my soul

seeing across the big air

 

and down into that

hidden oasis

no one else is meant to see

 

stealing a glimpse

detached

in this vast entirety

 

absorb my world

open my eyes

and find myself still

 

flying

~

Photo by Gin

 

~

On the surface

She shines

Simple and radiant

Easy going like

the afternoon breeze

On a good spring day

 

Idyllic

Tranquility

Stillness of soul

 

Waiting for

the coming unrest

 

~

How to Be Happy

This article is shared today on Conscious Life News.  It is something I shared here a while back, and a fun reminder (I, for one, could use!).

Happiness may not be the most essential or fulfilling element to our life, but it’s a great place to begin. Why not choose happiness?  It is a simple start.  And then, we develop and grow from there.

I hope you enjoy!

~

gin and bob having an evening in the backyard

~
The five essential habits of positive people (or how to be happy in five easy steps).  

Here’s a great way to start your week on a positive note:  Be happy!  This article will show you how easy it can be.

For most of us, most of the time, in this beautiful world we live in, happiness is matter of choice.  Our personal choice.  And like most everything we choose to manifest, it takes a little work.  With everything we have ahead of us this week (and in our lifetime) to work on, happiness is a simple, easy start.  Give it a try!

~

Imagine if there were a few secret ingredients to a happy life.  You know, inside information, words of wisdom shared by the happiest people. The tricks of the trade for the happy. What works for those people who smile a lot, seem comfortable with who they are, love their work, like the people around them, are nice to be around and nice to those around them.  And imagine if we could learn from these people. Because who among us does not wish to be happier?

 

Say there are a few specific “rules” we can follow to find ourselves happier, what would they be?  They would have to be inspirational, happy, humorous, fun, not preachy, not perfect, things to try for with room to grow and plenty of forgiveness, because we’re human and we always have to try.

 

It’s all about choice.  We can choose happier habits.  Ultimately, we can choose our thoughts, rather than have our thoughts (and emotions) choose our direction.   Not to negate these things – thoughts and emotions are of great value!  It’s just that most of us need to learn to live with them, keep them in line, keep them in their proper place. (Down, Boy!)

 

We can start by following the example of people we admire. People who are trying, against odds, to make the world a better place and find a better place within themselves.  I’m not talking about the happy go lucky folks for whom life’s been just fine and they get through just fine – but never do anything great. What’s wrong with wanting great?  I want to be all I can.  I want to try it all and experience life to the fullest.  That means ups and downs. Good times and bad times.  Make mistakes.  If we don’t fall on our face, we haven’t tried to run.  Life’s too short to walk through.  So, every once in a while, run!  Flat out. And maybe you’ll fall. Get back up, dust yourself off, and when your wounds have healed (if you really must wait that long) try again.  “Only those who have had, can lose,”  I once was told after a great personal tragedy.  Sure, you can go through life playing it safe.  Make it through to the finish line. Slow, steady.  Nothing fancy, no fan fare, no bells and whistles or even a lot of cheers along the way.  Or you can dance your way through life and sometimes stumble.  If you don’t try to dance, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong moves.  But, man, what you’re missing. Oh come on. Give it a try. Dance!

 

Sure, you can’t be happy all the time. Nice idea, but not possible.  Life isn’t that simple or steady.  But you can be happier more often.  It’s up to you.

 

  1. Start your day on a positive note.  Here’s one we learned from Zig Ziglar.  Before you even get out of bed, clap your hands and say something wonderful about yourself, your world, and the day you’ve got ahead of you.  Then this one from Louise Hay. Tell yourself you love yourself.  Look in a mirror if you have one, and say it out loud.  I don’t have a mirror, need glasses to see my own eyes if I did, and I live in a small one-room cabin.  If I woke up clapping my hands and talking in the mirror, I think my husband and son would really worry.  At the very least, I’d wake them up, and those who know me know this: don’t mess with my mornings. This is my sacred time. Do not disturb. So, I keep it quiet, let them sleep, and try to say these things in my head.
  2. Patience.  Learn to slow down. Let go. Boy, this is a hard one for me.  For so many in society we are both judged, and judge ourselves, on how busy we appear to be, how much we claim to accomplish, and how jam packed we fill our days. Social status and self value are thus based on the number of hours worked (though do we stop and think how much we actually get done during those hours?).  The more we can justify being busy, the better people we think we are.  Or so we are told. Fortunately… things are changing.  That worked great to develop the modern world, create fast food and Wal-marts, capitalism and consumerism. But it didn’t bring us closer to happiness. Now it is time to try a different way. Try meditation, walking, yoga, breathing.  Watch a snowflake fall on your hand and melt.  Sit and wait in the early dark to see the moon clear the horizon (or nearest building).  Listen to the wind or the water or the waves.  Find a tree and hear the leaves rustle.  “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.”  –  Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.
  3. Life’s short – eat dessert first.  Why not? Instead of dwelling on all these excuse for why not, think of all the reason why instead. Chances are, you’ll be enticed!  Look at all these wonderful things you can do, right now! Next thing you know, you might give it a go. Learn to do something new every day.  Never say never.  Don’t let yourself (or someone you love) say “I can’t.”  Go ahead, give it a try.  Now. What are you waiting for?  Don’t bother telling me.  I don’t want to hear.  I want to hear what you want to do, and what you’re doing to get there.  Even better, I want you to show me.  Do it.  Come on, dream! And dare to do something to make your dream real!
  4. Give. Practice – and expand on – compassion.  Do random acts of kindness. Do something for someone without strings attached every single day.  It doesn’t have to cost money.  It doesn’t have to take much time.  Just share the gifts you already have. You have a lot.  As a writer, I like to share my words.  A cook shares food, a photographer images, a mother comfort – these are the gifts we share, not just to make a living or get the job done or for self importance, acceptance, acknowledgement or reward.  Simply to give what we can. Share your gifts. What gifts can you share?  We all have something special. Creativity, prayer, song.  Think beyond the box.  Or look deep inside. There’s lots there.  Open it up and share it.  I bet there’s plenty to go around.
  5. Have fun, smile, dance.  This is as simple as it gets, and still one the hardest to do. Lighten up and laugh.  I don’t have TV but last month I finally saw the Ellen show while staying at my sister’s house.  Apparently she dances every day.   Right on.  Then there is a dear friend of mine, Ginny, who at first may appear to be “stuck” in a wheel chair.  But take a closer look.  See those arms flying and shoulders swaying and big broad smile that you can’t resist? There she is, even in her wheelchair.  Dancing.  If she can, I can too.  Do it.  Dance.  It feels really good.  And if you dance like no one’s looking, you can’t help but find yourself be smiling like you mean it.  And yes, chances are, you’ll feel happy.