Coming soon…an experiential report after 7 days spent immersed in the Merida province.
Coming soon…observations on fear, the prisons created by fear, the defense reaction ready to commit violence for self-preservation, and the real protection of fearless vulnerability.
Coming soon … visualize the creation of the Gulf of Mexico region.
Losing a pet can be traumatic when it ends badly — there are even pet loss chaplains. When I lost my beloved cat last year, I went through many phases. First, everyone said she’d be back, but by day 10, we knew that the chances were diminishing. This was an indoor cat gone walk-about near Penasquitos Canyon, where coyotes roam. That’s when I got on the phone and started calling lost animal retrieval folks, even though I didn’t have 10K to find my feline.
From animal psychics to K9 search and rescue, there are many people in the business of helping you find your pet, scams and all. It was day twelve when I talked to a professional out of Washington state, who told me this tip:
“Your pet knows your individual scent best, and your scent is strongest in your sweat and urine.”
He advised me to cut up used socks and anything sweaty that I could part with, into one or two inch squares. He told me to collect urine in a bottle. Then he told me to transfer it to a spray bottle, and to go out of the house spraying every few feet and leaving fabric and spray on bushes and vegetation.
“The idea is to spray out several paths in a half mile or so radius from one’s home, to guide the pet home. Like the little matchstick girl.
I put the spray bottle in a handy dandy brown paper bag, and when accosted by a suspicious neighbor as to what I was doing, I said, ‘Looking for my cat.’ That mystified him enough to leave me alone, so it may be useful in case you, too, are busted spraying your scent on public trees and shrubs in search of your beloved animal companion.
Then — the last thing was to leave a way for the animal to come in of its own accord during the night. We propped open the patio door, just four inches. At 3am, we heard meowing, and lo, my beloved kitty, practically weightless from lack of food and water, sat in our living room table, clamoring for attention, glad to be home.
I am so grateful to the K9 search and rescue professional that I often call the numbers on lost petads to tell them of this technique that worked a miracle for us. Let this column help those it may. Good luck, and please pass the technique on.
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.
After today’s meditation in our Blue Sky Zen Morning Service, I’m convinced that Death, once the “dust” and the emotional reaction to dying, settles, feels like meditation.
That to be dead is to be pure awareness, consciousness so vast that it perceives itself.
It hears the birds, and the neighbors walking by, and those sounds are oneself. It sees bugs crawling on the flowers on the altar, and it is the bug and the flower too, which now fills the awareness for love, in love with its own beingness.
There is no need for embodiment, for movement is in the awareness, and it is everywhere. Embodiment into form is actually a type of prison, and formalization, a containment into individuality, that which is not individual in its fullest form.
I’m afraid of the pain of dying, the loss of my attachments and loves, but truly, nothing is ever lost. All of our dead beloveds are right here, in the space between our atoms, our cells, the molecules that individuate us, and all the space in between.
Death is a grieving of a loss of companionship in individuated form. But that person is still here, still integrated into the vastness of consciousness.
I had a dream once that I was in a car that plunged off a cliff. I was in the passenger seat, terrified as we crashed and died. But the dream didn’t end there. Then, I was dead, but it was hilarious. All I could do was laugh, because my fear had been so ridiculous, for everything was already the same. Just no particular body.
It might take some time for this insight to be integrated into daily consciousness, but it’s a relief, and it’s a biggie.
OASIS is an online gallery of galleries — curated photos of inspirational places from around the world. Visions from my eyes to yours. You’re welcome to join and receive updates when a new place is added. My aim is to leave the viewer refreshed, with a greater sense of wonder.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.