Freedom involves making decisions, and each decision is a destiny decision.- Joseph Campbell
What do a snowstorm, winter prairie, prayer flags, frozen seeds and enlightenment have in common?
Well, being a meaning-maker, I decide that. Oh how I love the writer’s life, I can take and make meaning of everything! As the spiritual practitioner I am also the meaning maker but use sacred texts as a skillful means to make meaning of my encounters and experiences. After all, awakened Beings have gone before me and traversed the difficulties and distractions leaving behind many maps for me to use.
So my walk through the prairie and its 12 inches of snow afforded me inspiration for both my writing and spiritual life. It usually does. This of course is in part due to what I bring into the spiral with me, my view as a writer and as a spiritual practitioner. Joseph Campbell in his work often pointed to that it is not so much the experience itself (any one can walk through the prairie, attend church, or listen to a spiritual teaching) it is “what we bring to it.” We all bring our view to our encounters and this view determines what we get out of it. One’s view includes beliefs, intentions and assumptions. If you are having an unpleasant experience, check your view; check what you are bringing to it.
Then as a writer, notice what arises from your view and write about it. As a spiritual practitioner notice what arises from within and without during a certain event and use it as material for your spiritual practice. And then, if you want, bring the two together.
On my winter walk I noticed how the sun appeared like a phantom through the haze of snow and cloud. This reminded me how even though we don’t see the sun or the moon they are always there. Much like the Buddha or my root guru Padmasambhava. They are always there but often hidden behind something. Then I realized that I see the Buddha when I practice, when I come out from hiding. The Buddha is in the practice. Actually more what I mean is that the Buddha is seen through my practice. When I bring the Buddha into my experience I get more of the Buddha back. I bring him or her out from hiding.
This took me further into the realization that the only teachers I rely on (and recommend others rely on) are ones that are first most practitioners. They too bring the Light of the Buddha or the Christ or the Truth out as they practice what they teach.
On this walk through the prairie the sun remained hidden behind a haze of cloud and snow but still sent out some light, enough for me to get through the prairie, enough to make my way on the unhiked and snow covered path.
As I continued I remained aware of what I was bringing to my walk as well as what caught my attention as I walked . . .
I saw seeds frozen on top of the snow, small tracks of mouse having braved it across the white landscape, how the path disappeared and reappeared, the faded Tibetan prayer flags moving with the wind, the call of the crows as I walked deeper into the spiral, the familiarity of it all and how the prairie gives me the feeling of belonging.
Frozen seeds crown the December snow
some will make it to bloom yet.
While others will be devoured whole
by the local residents.
When in the prairie
I need not search around for enlightenment,
This would be like the Echinacea
trying to conceal its seeds.
I feel a thousand lifetimes away from awakening,
walking at the feet of the Buddha.
So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfillment of the potentialities of the energies in your own system. The energies are committed in a certain way, and that commitment out there is coming toward you. –Joseph Campbell
Journaling Practices for You –
Take five subjects you notice while either on a meditative walk outside or just throughout your day: snow stuck on trees (what kind of tree?), the sounds of a child playing with a friend in the adjoining room (playing what?), red-tailed hawk swooping down on a mouse (does she get it? Are you happy for the bird?), the frozen foot print (of a boot, a coyote, mouse?), etc. . . . Write about them with the intention to draw some spiritual meaning from them. Notice what you “bring to” any given encounter. Write this into your piece. Spend a good deal of your time outdoors or during the day simply noticing. Notice what you are bringing to something (attitude, assumptions, ideas.) Notice what comes to you, what gets your attention on your walk or during the day. Who or what shows up? Where is the sun? What’s in your pockets? What do you want? What do you hear? How does what you bring to an encounter (walk, visit with a relative) change the experience? Write about that. Write about experiencing something for the last time (a meal, a walk in your favorite spot, a sound of your child, for examples.)
Write a poem beginning with, “I am called”.
I am called
Write a poem beginning with, “Earth brings me.”
Earth brings me
Write a poem ending with
I watched as it fell
Happy Writing to you. Happy Awakening. Blessings on this Winter Solstice.
I am called to sing
a song I’ve never heard
Visit the friend
I’ve never met.
I am called to dig
For the words hidden deep
Find the meaning
of this unknown place.
I am called to undo
the pain of the past
And to know you
for the first time
again and again.
For more on poetry go to my Poet’s Page at my website. Enjoy my guest poet William Stafford. And did you know that you can back order my book on Initiation that is going to be released this August? Simply go to Inner Traditions/Bear & Company! Spring/Summer 2010 frontlist catalog. You will find my book on page 32. Thank you!