15
Apr

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When you spell the name of the city, you have to do it in CAPS- it’s only right.
Something about it’s epic history;  City on top of city, a patriarchal monument to ego etched in marble at all stages of grand decay.  Lower case just doesn’t do it justice.

And then there’s nature … then there’s the Wisteria … they’re everywhere, dripping fecundity-the promise of spring and new beginnings- the divine feminine which pervades every space, and fills every breath.
Their subtle fragrance lacing every experience, informing every glance and ambient aroma- cafe latte and bread fresh from the oven. Hot sun and cool air, the smell of wood burning from the artisanal pizza ovens …

When I look at the image of the wisteria, the thing that my mind recalls first is the quality of life I experienced for 5 wonderful days.

photo-21 I didn’t use my cell phone once while I was over there. Now ask me if I missed it.
Not one bit. Not at all.
Life was just fine without it, and in fact, life was MUCH BETTER before it.
Any of you remember what it was like to actually live in the moment?
Do we really live in the moment now?
In order to do this, we have to make some powerful concerted efforts that go beyond the brief meditation that precedes our yoga practice or follows it.

Making total eye contact with the person or people you are talking to … allowing yourself the space and time- uninterrupted, undistracted quality time to savor what is right before you.

How often do you do this?

Something fitting that comes to mind now is the Heart Sutra …

Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.

This is a mantra that not only clears all distraction, but more importantly, the suffering that arises from it.

It is one of the loveliest and most powerful mantras I’ve ever experienced, and I have to thank my friend, Kevin Starbard for reminding me of it at his inspiring and beautifully taught Feng Shui class that I recently took before leaving on my trip.

This mantra clears the energy of distraction, suffering, and anything that doesn’t serve your highest good.
It is also one of the finest preparations to clear your mind of clutter and refine your focus, one that in my personal experience serves as the essential preparatory breath that precedes any right action, like the archer who draws the bow and lets fly towards its mark.

To enrich your experience of the Heart Sutra, I have copied this wonderful translation below from George Boeree, Ph.D that he wrote for his students:

<<Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty*, and so released himself from suffering.  Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:

Body is nothing more than emptiness,
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.The other four aspects of human existence –
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness –
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:

Gaté,
gaté,
paragaté,
parasamgaté.
Bodhi!
Svaha!

Which means…

Gone,
gone,
gone over,
gone fully over.
Awakened!
So be it!


* Emptiness is the usual translation for the Buddhist term Sunyata (or Shunyata).  It refers to the fact that no thing — including human existence — has ultimate substantiality, which in turn means that no thing is permanent and no thing is totally independent of everything else.  In other words, everything in this world is interconnected and in constant flux.  A deep appreciation of this idea of emptiness thus saves us from the suffering caused by our egos, our attachments, and our resistance to change and loss.

Note:  Perfection of Wisdom is a translation of Prajnaparamita.  The full title of this sutra is The Heart of Prajnaparamita Sutra.>>

Now, after reading the words and giving yourself over to embracing the energy you feel in this moment as a result, try it for yourself:

Sit comfortably, either cross-legged on a cushion or upright in a chair- whatever suits you.

Hold your hands in the classic meditation mudra with the left fingers cradled in the right hand and hold the hands at heart level.

Breathe in deeply and then start the mantra, repeating it a total of  nine times- and then follow your breath in silence for as long as you wish.

Finally, turn your focus to concentrate on what you wish to manifest in your life and how you want to go about it.

Spring is the perfect time to mimic nature in your pursuits- turn your face towards the sun, take a walk in the rain and feel the cool drops on your skin- let the energy of nature nurture and ignite you- like the flowers that push their way up through the frosty earth and burst forth in all their glory to court the bees and spread their seed! Rising yang chi that gathers its power and springs forth from deep yin below.

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Now, ask yourself how you want to start?

I would humbly suggest losing your cell phone for a few days …

There’s a whole wide world out there! Give up the ant’s view and soar above it all like a big, beautiful bird.