I had a lot of time to meditate on the day after Thanskgiving. With my cat (feline soul-mate) dying of multiple organ failures, I was in quite a state. Nevermind the shock and grief at her sudden decline; I had to pick her up from critical care in Tijuana, bring her back across the border to San Diego, and then, when she displayed neurological encephalitis within five minutes back home, rush her back to Tijuana. Followed by a trip back across the border, empty cat carrier in the seat beside me.
Driving to my Tijuana vet takes twenty minutes from my house. Returning home across the border takes three to seven hours depending on the time and day. I sat in my car for more than eight hours that day, no internet, no phone calls, no radio. Just thinking about life and death, the preciousness of it, and how quickly all can be lost.
My cat wasn’t lost yet; she was fighting for her life, and thanks to the gracious, generous, and affordable vets in TJ, she still is beating the odds. However, my thoughts took another turn to a different kind of loss. One that had been with me for years. A grievous spiritual loss, which became, over time, a repetitive trauma, and then, one scarred over. A loss which I had refused to accept, and had therefore dragged around with me like the cremated remains of a beloved pet.
When I got home that evening, I wrote and sent my resignation letter to my Roshi. This was a huge thing for me. Terrifying. My spiritual life has been, for decades, the totality of my identity in the world of duality. I’m bisexual, but that’s no identity. I’m of Greek descent, again no identity there. I’m female, but I forget until some guy slams me or makes me out to be crazy just for challenging the status quo. The only thing I say, when people ask me questions relating to identity, has to do with spirit. God. Consciousness. Awareness. In this dualistic world of mandatory occupations and identities, I’m an enlightenment hag. Like a ‘fag hag’, but, I spend most of my time getting into the zone with spiritual types. So, who am I, then, without a title of priest to certify, quantify, and give my ‘brand’ a stamp of patriarchal approval? Who am I without a sangha? Without my own sangha, which I created, people who still may love me and wish to stay together, title or no title?
I didn’t just drop my religion this week. I lost dear friends. There are literally a hundred or more people that I feel deep love for that I will never see again. There are rituals and events that I will miss. There are relationships that I feel I can’t live without. One-sided relationships which I’ve been living without already for years, making up the part of the other person supposedly involved, because they had to care. Didn’t they?
And what of my students, gems and sources of frustration, beloved friends and peers in our adventure of life? I was convinced to remain a priest for their sake, initially, when I first almost found the currage to leave my zen order. But what can I possibly offer them in this relationship with my network that lacks integrity?
Standing alone in this world is suicidal. That is why I call upon all my sisters, and brothers who uphold our dignity and demand that our voices be heard, to stand with me, to help to create a new kind of dimension. An invisible island of aliveness, where things that have no cohesion to the greater whole will not stand.
Am I being vague? Alright, then. The Patriarchy is over. You have been Mother Earth’s honored guest, and look how you treat her. Your time is over. The patriarchy would have you think that someone, thank God, knows what they’re doing, so just trust them, and everything will be alright.
It’s a lie. Everybody is improvising. Don’t fall for it.
I stand for truth, beauty and love. Exposing my foibles, my emotions, my humanity, that is my humility, for you. I could pretend to be great. How would that serve you? That you could be fallible human beings, like me, and still know ecstasy, divine grace, and unity? That is a miracle. For this, I give gratitude today, and every day for the rest of this life script that has yet to reveal itself.