Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tibetian Tea Ceremony with Lobsang Samten

I really enjoy Lobsang Samten, renowned Tibetan scholar and former Buddhist monk. I first met him when he came to Chico and spent a week making a fragile and elaborate "Wheel of Life" mandala sand painting that was sacrificed in sacred ceremony almost as soon as it was completed.

I've had the pleasure of several interactions with him over the years and last night Jerry and I attended one of his Tibetan Tea Ceremonies. I had no idea what to expect but I donned my ceremonial kimono and opened to the experience.

I've recently been studying Japanese Tea Ceremony and I figured it would probably be both different and similar. Well, one way it was dissimilar is that in Tibetan Tea Ceremony, you don't drink any tea, but rather you chant and bring a wish to be granted, by Palden Lhamo, one of the most important female protector deities in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

We chanted:
Jo ramo jo ramo jo jo ramo thun jo kala ra chen mo ramo acha dacha thun jo rulu rulu Hung jo hung
There were about 40 of us and we would walk up to the fire altar in pairs while everyone was chanting, pick up the tea pot, make our wish and then pour the tea into a little cup that sat inside a bowl. The tea overflowed from the cup into the bowl as everyone made their wishes and poured the tea.

At one point Lobsang sweetly described the different between Japanese and Tibetan Tea Ceremony. He told us about an event he attended where both ceremonies were happening simultaneously, with the Zen Monk Tea Masters on one side of the performance area and the Tibetan Monks on the other. It was then that he realized the Tibetans were "the hippies" of the tea ceremony. He said the presentation of the Tibetan ceremony didn't matter so much, but rather it was the heart awareness that held significance. That's my own understanding of The Tataga Style Tea Ceremony, A "California" Version Of The Traditional Cha-no-yu Japanese Tea Ceremony that I've been basing my own practice on. It's very permissive relating to the details of presentation but rather focuses on the simple making of tea with an open heart and the attainment of "tea mind". That's my take on it anyway.

This morning Jerry told me he felt very honored that everyone was chanting his name (mo ramo) during the ceremony and we made up a little chant of our own:

mo rano mo rano jay jay rano mo mo rano mo rano jay jay rano mo
As much as we are committed to our process of spiritual enlightenment which includes some honoring the great gods and goddesses, we tend to give equal measure to the sacrilegious. But here's a picture of Palden Lhamo and she definitely portrays the image of deity I want to have on my side. I give thanks for her blessings as she is a powerful archetype to have an understanding with.

While much Tibetan art leaves me dumbstruck and in awe of its beauty, some makes me quite uncomfortable. There are some quite freaky portrayals of delving deeply into some of the more unpleasant depths of the mind and human condition that expose a very scary side of tantra exploration. This is something the Dalai Lama is also trained in as well as loving kindness and compassion.

I find myself more attracted to the Hindu representation of Palden Lhamo as Kali. I like this picture

Tantra Article
Clink here to read a very basic but well informed article on tantra

Tantra Definition

Friday, March 30, 2007

Married To The Buddha

My girlfriends call him Bodhisattva.
I call him Buddhapest.
With those long dangley ear lobes that he refuses to pierce.
I tease him about the way he talks.
Like he's still walking Jersey streets after 30 years as a California boy.
And those Albert Einstein eyebrows that I chew on in bed
and muss up in public places
or otherwise groom for him
when the occasion calls for a more respectable presentation.
Gentle brown eyes that beg me
to cut his curly salt and pepper hair
that he swears he can take no more.
His passionate kisses fill me with his sweet breath.
His strong hands with slender fingers, adorned with my wedding ring and his father's star sapphire, play me like his drums--soft and gentle, hard and intense
till his forearms ache.
He implores me to grab his ass, tense and over amped with so much energy he fears he'll explode.
And his chest, with man breasts and nipples aways erect.

I imagine him in his army green tee-shirt hugging their form.
And his bleach stained jeans with the hole,
perfectly placed for a discreet peek of his likewise perfect cock.
He sings and I still tremble. I glance at him with his glasses on and the sight invokes a sigh.
Seven years and counting...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Mother's Dream

The Mother Dream is essential part of universal beauty. But this worship dance can decay and the bitter ache of love poison pierces me deep in my belly. I long to remember this now languid dream, only yesterday flooded by the sweet morning light. This enormous but delicate vision chained to a delirious magic language of chants and sordid screams. I cry and run away. I shake and sweat and squirm and manipulate lies. Only after my urge to leave is gone do I loosen my stiff broken embrace to melt a smile and explore the present opening. To celebrate easy, a life at home.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Please God, Let Me Stop

Speeding backwards, out of control, I watch in the rear view mirror, fearing what collision might lie ahead. Pressing on the brake to no avail, I desperately pray to stop. My prayer is answered, simply to find myself turning around and heading in the same direction. Still filled with trepidation, I know at least now I'm facing my future rather than going into it ass backwards.


Monday, March 26, 2007


Jerry and I went on an adventure yesterday. We hiked over 8 miles to see Feather Falls. Today our calves are really sore so instead of staying home and cleaning up some of the mess I've been making with my spring cleaning, we treated ourselves and went to "cheap skate night" at our local alternative movie house, The Pageant Theatre. Only $3 a head every Monday and there is even nutritional yeast for the popcorn. Not that we need an excuse to be lazy and watch a movie, because that's what we always do anyway. It's one of our favorite pastimes.

I just adore living in downtown Chico. Every happening place to be is right within walking distance. The Pageant is only two blocks away, as is Cafe Flo, one of our favorite little places to eat before we see a show. My women's investment group meets there once a month also and it's just a hop, skip and jump from my front door. My office is 3 blocks, plus 3 flights of stairs away. Right across the street from my office is our brand spanking new downtown city plaza with its ground level water fountain for children to play in and a first class bandstand that will be honoring all of our favorite local bands at the Friday Night Concerts In The Park. Spark-n-Cinder, one of my most favorite bands of all time, plays June 15th! Saturday morning Farmer's Market is just out our back door and our favorite restaurant, Chada Thai, is 4 blocks away. My favorite place to spend $5, just 2 blocks from home is Duffy's, our downtown neighborhood pub and dive bar, that offers Irish Music every Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 with the Pub Scouts. $1 at the door, $3 for a Sierra Nevada Porter, and $1 tip for the bartender. The smiles, hugs, and conversations with friends are free. Did I mention that I love living downtown? And you should see my house. It was build in 1873 and it's just lovely. Great yard too, full of of trees and fruits and flowers. I'm so lucky.

Well then, back to the Pageant. We saw The Lives of Others, starring Ulrich Muhe and other German actors and was directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarch. It's a drama about before the fall of the Berlin Wall and East Germany's Secret Police. It won the Best Foreign Language Film and it was very, very good. Bring some tissue for the last scene.

I came home and briefly looked for my little piece of the Berlin Wall that my friend, Katie, brought back and gave to me, shortly after the wall was torn down. I wanted to take a picture of it and post it here but I've tucked it away somewhere and will have to search some more to find it. You'll have to watch the movie to find out what HGW XX/7 means.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Brush With Death

Today my son, my fifth child, turns 25. He's a good looking young man with a strong healthy body, beautiful eyes, and a loud voice. He's also restless and impatient to find his purpose in life. He struggles with his sense of self. I'm anxious for him to discover the incredible spirit he holds inside.

I remember our relationship when he was a newborn. I was so "in love" with him. Of course I loved all my babies but today, I'm particularly remembering the love affair I had with him. I couldn't get enough of him. I would lie on the bed with him and stare into his eyes. I would feel overwhelmed with connection and devotion. I couldn't imagine loving a human being more than I loved him.

When he was three months old I almost died. I was 27 years old. My life force starting seeping away. My blood pressure dropped and I could barely eat or walk. I would lie in bed with barely enough strength to nurse him. I didn't care to eat or drink but I knew that I must if I was to continue making milk, so I would force myself to take tiny bites of food and little sips of fluids.

My other four children, ages 20 months to 10 years, had to get by without much of a mommy for awhile. They transformed themselves from a wild, rambunctious bunch, always clambering for attention and one thing or another, to quiet and demure, well mannered children, who were satisfied with the basic necessities of daily life. They would peek their little heads into my room and tentatively enter for a brief visit, showing me a new picture they had drawn or giving me a kiss and hug.

My husband at the time, the biological father of 4 of my then 5 children, was scared. Besides his affection for me, I can imagine that the prospect of ending up a single dad with a slew of young children was unappealing. Occasionally I would drag myself out of bed for an appointment with one doctor or another. As medical professionals they would run all sorts of tests but could never ascertain what was wrong with me. They would take my blood pressure, and then always, retake it, only to get the same reading as before. They would shake their heads flummoxed, as they deemed it impossible for it to be so low with someone who was able to walk into their office. Day by day my body weight dropped. Day by day I grew weaker.

I had no pain. I experienced more peace than I had ever known in my life. As my life force continued spiraling down and out, I knew I was dying and I felt fine with the idea...except that my children would be left without a mommy. That made me sad for them. My decline continued for three months.

As I contemplated the actuality of my dying I decided I didn't want that for my kids. So, with the clear intention of living, my life force reversed directions and started spiraling upwards and I was able to contain it. Day by day my strength increased. Day by day my children got louder and demanded more. Life as I once knew it returned.


She and I

We came together in a dream dance, almost as friends.
But then she started in again, clouding my mind with the toxic smoke of her thoughts.
I opened the windows and doors to clear the air of her ways.
And I told her, "This is not OK."

She laid there, writing on the floor in pain.
Bleeding out my life force.
My rich and vital juices, wasting on her nonsense.
I voiced my disgust to her. "What are you thinking?" I said.
And so it goes with us, my pathetic self and I.


Friday, March 23, 2007

We Kicked His Ass

I'm a huge Rob Brezsny fan. I consider the man a genius and one of the world's foremost "love doctors". He has dedicated much energy to promoting pronoia, which is a powerful medicine that I think the world could use lots more of these days.

Mistress Matisse
is a fan of his too and that knowledge has added a new dimension to my respect for her. I already thought she was intelligent and sexy with lots of common sense and good advice. But when she revealed that she reads Brezsny and loves his poetic style, I was a bit surprised and even more impressed with her. Matisse seems like such a down-to-earth girl that I would have never guessed that his style (maybe too woo-woo?) would resonate with her. "Down-to-earth?", you laugh. "Mistress Matisse?" Well yes. She may be a very kinky, pro dominatrix, with sadistic tendencies, but nevertheless...

One New Years Eve several years ago, my husband, Jerry, and my best friend, Rowan, and I attended a New Year's Ritual in Marin, that Rob and some of his friends were hosting. As we entered the ritual space, Rob christened us with new names. I was given the name, Shewhobehot, and Jerry received, Soul Stirrer. None of us can remember Rowan's name...poor thing. I hope she doesn't need it to get through the gates of heaven some day.

In the ceremonial space, two altars were set up at opposites ends of the room. One altar honoring the pasting of the old year, served as a sacred place to discard what we no longer needed or wished to carry with us as we continued on our journey. The other altar honored the incoming of the new year and all the conscious choices we were making and the things we were hoping to bring into our lives and the world, at this demarcation of a new beginning.

We were entertained with poetry and prose and various musical performances. It was also a very interactive event in which we were encouraged to engage in all sorts of bizarre ceremonial acts such as donning bibs and drooling and making exceptionally strange sounds. My favorite was strutting around the room with the intention of looking as unattractive as possible. This activity served as an incredible eye opener in regards to the energy we expend trying to impress others, always striving to portray ourselves in the best possible light. It was actually quite liberating to walk awkwardly about, around scratching one's butt and making strange faces, practicing not caring what others thought.

After the ceremony we socialized and eat, connecting with others in a variety of capacities. If I recall there was a lot of "ass kicking" going on as Rob had encouraged all of us to kick our own asses. Rowan requested Rob to kick her ass and I asked if him to drool on my breasts. He kindly obliged both of us. We kicked his ass too. Maybe it was one of those moments where you just had to have been there.
Pronoia--The sneaking suspicion that the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Forbidden Fruit

I saw her on Sunday
In red hair and tee shirt tugging her breasts.
Watching discreetly, wanting her to see me.
I understood that we would offer no recognition
But her face...
Indelibly etched in my mind the remainder of the day.


Unknowingly I step through the threshold of your temple
Worshiping at your altar of white as you step outside of yourself
Lusting you in black as you share your thoughts with others, ignoring me
An enigma I've created in my mind
I stare and gently turn away, in respect and self-righteous indignation


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cut Me To The Quick

Friday morning you cut me to the quick.

In your bed, naked and vulnerable, I listened to your concerns about him and her. Endeavoring to hold on to myself and simply love, I felt numb more than anything else. I wanted to want nothing more than what you freely offered. I also wanted a cup of coffee...and a deep penetrating good morning fuck.

You explained your dilemma, that when I went home to him, you would be there alone. You said you wanted a singular relationship. To wake up in bed with the same woman every morning. You said that you wouldn't settle, no matter how lonely you got.

I would have settled for a cup of warm tea and gazing into your blue eyes. I wanted for you what you wanted for yourself.

I'd brought pictures and poetry to share but you had no time. Maybe you had no coffee or tea either.

Saturday night he made intense love to me and my damn broke. I sobbed and felt every texture of my shame, hurt and insecurity. His brown eyes gazed into mine as he entered me and cracked me open. My pain rushed in, filling me. I emptied and loved you more.

"Like a pouting child, you refuse to feel every texture of your shame, hurt, and insecurity; you refuse to open as this shape, to feel outward, to feel others, to feel the entire moment, and open as all." David Deida

My Hole

While contemplating during a dyad at one Enlightenment Intensive, I found myself in a hole and realized how ridiculously pathetic I was. I was feeling so overwhelmingly stuck, you would have imagined that I was sitting at the bottom of the hole, twenty feet down and that it was dark and muddy and cold with no way out. My eyes were shut so I opened them and looked around. I found that the hole was indeed about twenty feet deep, but there was a ladder in it, and also the sun was shining a bright ray of light right down into the shaft and the walls of the hole were completely illuminated. Not only that, I was standing on a rung of the ladder, with my head about five feet from the top with the warm sun shining on my face.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Another is Everything and Another is Nothing

When I arrived at Origin for the 4th of July, 2005, Dyad Contemplation, the emerald green pond of my vision greeted me in physical form. Osha had the fountain flowing in the middle of the pond and the effect was welcoming. I felt like I had arrived home.

I was physically exhausted from working all day and then making the long drive up into the mountains. There was lots of commotion in the evening with people arriving late and getting settled in. Rick and Yeshe were monitoring and although they took good care of me, I was worn thin, emotionally and physically and I yearned for the peace found in the sweet oblivion of sleep. It was a long time coming.

This was my second Enlightenment Intensive and I had chosen to work on the question, Who Am I? once again. But by the evening of the first day, I was still unable to connect with this question so I spoke with Erik, who was mastering the Intensive, about changing my question to What is Another? and he agreed. Things picked up after that.

Even so, I struggled throughout the Intensive. I felt drawn out. I was bleeding and weak. I missed Jerry and could barely stand being separated from him. This was a four day intensive and it felt like four long weeks that were dragging by. Everyday I imagined sneaking the phone and calling him. I yearned for his voice, his touch, his love. I felt alone and abandoned, and that it was all my own doing as I had abandoned him. I feared losing him and imagined grieving and how lonely my life would be without him. But there I was, so I contemplated. I shared with Another whatever came up for me in contemplation. I persevered.

I continued contemplating and became fed up with the roles I played for others...wife, mother, daughter, friend. I felt stuck. Trapped. Boxed in. And I wanted out! I wanted my freedom. I experienced profound resistance to these roles until I realized that it wasn't the roles that trapped me, but rather, other's interpretation of those roles. I felt defined by others as I understood that the meaning of the roles were mine to make. The cost of my freedom was taking ownership of my roles and defining them on my own terms.

During one contemplation I found myself sitting inside a tiny box and I and realized that the box didn't trap me, that my own mind was my cage. So I changed my mind and allowed the box to grow. It grew larger and larger and I realized that the box could be large or small at my bidding. I expanded the box to contain the whole universe and then I shrunk it small again to keep me warm and safe for when I was feeling vulnerable. I was comforted by my control of the box. Then I saw a ladder in the box and I climbed it--the ladder was my means of exit from the box. When I got to the top I looked over the edge and saw my pond, the water of my life, below, beckoning me to jump in. And then I noticed that my box had windows and doors and I just had to laugh at myself at that point.

The morning of the fourth day I awoke with a sense of freedom. I was exhilarated. During walking contemplation, as I strolled around the pond, I came to know Another as both everything and nothing simultaneously. It was the 4th of July, and I was free.

Life Jumping Into Life

The vision kept returning.
It was an emerald green spiral pond with royal blue sperm jumping into it. At first there was no meaning, just a picture that kept flashing in my mind. And then it came to me. The sperm were Life and they were jumping into the pond, which was also Life. Life jumping into Life. And I was the sperm and I was jumping into life.

And then I was the pond and life was jumping into me. I felt myself spiraling downward, deep into the earth. The body of the pond (myself) was like a lotus flower and the spiraling of the water (my emotions) created an intense vacuum-like root, swirling with energy, that traveled deep down through the mud, into the rock of the earth, connecting me to my source.

And then I became an empty vessel, containing all. Only in my emptiness did I have the capacity to contain. I was simultaneously empty and full. The vessel was life and the water that filled it was life. I was both the vessel and the water being contained.

This spiraling, evolving vision came to me over a period of ten months at three of my first four, Enlightenment Intensives.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My First Tea Ceremony

Today I finished reading The Book Of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo and mastered my first Tea Ceremony. It went well although I wasn't able to create a froth on top of the tea no matter how much I whisked it. I was alone but I was honoring my brother, Stan, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday Stan.

When I told my Japanese daughter-in-law, Nobuko, that I was learning tea ceremony her eyes lit up. She told me that she had gone to tea ceremony school in Japan but that she hadn't completed her studies. She said, with half feigned insouciance, "It's very hard, I couldn't even walk to the tea mat correctly!"

I told her that the style I'm learning is very permissive and she said, "I think, that's much better." So thank you Edrid, for the Tatagata-Style Tea Ceremony--A "California" version of the traditional Cha-no-yu Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Ronnie and Lynne

Ronnie and Lynne were my step-brother and step-sister. I lived with them from the time I was six to ten years old. Ronnie and Lynne were Wayne's children. My mom married Wayne two weeks after they met and moved me and my brother away from the loving nest of our grandmother's home, into hell. Ronnie was seven years older than me and Lynne was my brother's age, four years older.

If I could embrace one word to describe how I perceived Ronnie's feelings towards me, I think "despise" would suffice. As for Lynne, I think the word best suited would be "contempt." Well then, those two words mean just about the same thing, so there you go. I learned to despise and feel contemptuous towards them after my mom and Wayne divorced and I didn't have to live with them anymore. Before that, I lived in dread.

Lynne was a big girl and not pretty. And she was mean. I used to envy her a bit though, the way she doted on herself after her shower, rubbing lotion all over her body and then sitting at her vanity curling her hair, filing her nails and giving herself an incredible amount of attentive care. I would watch her carry on, almost mesmerized. That level of self-care was foreign to me. I was fairly disheveled and couldn't be bothered to take the time for much personal hygiene.

When Lynne was irritated with me she would grab my arm and squeeze her manicured nails into my skin until I bled. She also liked to tattle on me to her father so I would be punished with his skinny, "razor" leather belt.

Ronnie used to babysit me and I guess he felt he wasn't compensated well enough by our parents so he took advantage of the other perts of the job that I provided for him.

He would send me to my bedroom to take a nap in my panties and usually I would just pretend to sleep while he had his fun. One day though, I just couldn't bare the thought of going through the routine and so I decided to hide from him. I was too afraid to actually run away so I devised a plan that I thought was the ultimate in hide-and-seek innovation. I knew that if I simply hid behind the curtain that he would notice the bulge. So, leaving the curtain closed, I opened the window and balanced on the windowsill, half of my body hanging outside of the window, and half inside, but not enough to disturb the curtain.

I heard my bedroom door open and Ronnie's voice mumbling as he sought out my hiding place. I heard him look in the closet and then under the bed, but to no avail. He was getting annoyed. How dare I have the audacity to resist him? I was praying fervently, "Please, God, don't let him find me, please God..." when the curtain parted and he stood there with a triumphant grin.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Pain of Love 1997

You, a filled vessel, one with child. Cherish this moment with bodymind and spirit. Relish in the creative power of the universe made manifest within you.

Oh beautiful woman, acknowledge your hopes and fears for the power of this mystery is yet to unfold. Know the body wisdom of each woman who has birthed before you, who is birthing along with you in eternal time.

Accept your pain, experience your strength, and open, open, and open more until you have surely reached the limit of your ability to stretch, and then open more. Surrender to this incredible process that will both exhilarate and exhaust you.

Six babies I have carried and birthed into this world. Growing and nurturing them within my womb. Six strong, healthy bodies I pushed through my bones, yielding my yoni and delivering them into my waiting arms, lifting them to my breasts to suckle my milk.

Love your baby body, full and round and fat, warm all aglow. Honor this sacred journey of becoming mother goddess, bringer forth of life and love. Breathe, spread your legs and allow your baby to be born.

Accept your naked emptiness.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Women's Full Moon Retreat August 20, 1994

Hiking the Ishi trailhead with my women friends, we discuss pregnancy, children, midwifery and an Israli Kibutz.

Uniting in our strength we form a goddess circle and enjoy food, sun, nakedness, and the cold water of Deer Creek.

Many thoughts and realizations as Diane massages me. Relaxed I dream, yet still conscious of her touch. Healing together.

Dressed now, preparing for my hike out, I take a moment to be alone. Reflecting, I watch dragonflies circling and wonder...

Do I know the difference between truth and dishonesty?
How can I live with integrity if I'm unclear? My introspection confuses me and fills me with pain.

Once again, my children are reflections of how I don't walk my talk. How I've failed. And I know the world must see my truth, which is I'm sure, a life of lies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Zen Mother Goes to Burningman 2006

Zen Mother Saith: "Abandon hope and fear all ye who suckle here."

It's about accepting the moment as the perfect launching pad for moving into the future. Really. Perfect. Regardless of anything else. Releasing hope and fear and trusting what is.

In the midst of my preparations for Burningman last year, Zen Mother appeared on the scene, desiring self-expression for my virgin burn. I think she plans attending again this year, re-incarnated as a Tea Master.

Now that I've experienced Burningman firsthand, it's difficult to imagine not returning. What, stay in Chico with that outlandish week long bacchanal happening out in the middle of the Nevada desert? I use the term "bacchanal" loosely. Although it's likely that there was a fair amount of drinking and drugging going on, there really was no need to ingest any form of intoxicating substance to experience "drunkenness" at Burningman. The environment itself creates such a mind altering state that one feels delightfully uninhibited and intoxicated with a sense of freedom.

People were open-hearted, treating strangers like friends they hadn't met yet. The overwhelming intent was artistic celebration of anything and everything--from the fundamental rawness of all the human condition contains, to merging with one's highest spiritual potential. Nakedness, sex, family, friends, music, dance, prayers, meditation, passion, hope, fear, love, the past, the future, all joined together in a big bear hug, celebrating NOW. God and Nature merged in the playa dust that week, as I suspect they do every year during those seven days leading up to Labor Day, out in the Nevada desert sun.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tea To Go

Soon I will master my first tea ceremony and my anticipation is growing. Here are a couple of pics showing the implements I've gathered. I even found a nice bag that holds everything, including my antique silk kimono. All this to facilitate the tea ceremony being easily accessible when I travel. I recently started drinking matcha on a daily basis and I make a mean soy matcha latte. I'm saving drinking the unadulterated tea for ritual. I've found some nice organic matcha at a decent price (it's fairly expensive stuff) that I've ordered on-line. I have plans for the Sukiya (tea house) at burningman. It will be Tea Ceremony ala playa dust.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Monogamy As The Ultimate BDSM

I have a friend who has recently committed herself to sexual monogamy. She's a poly girl who has fallen in love with a monogamous man and that's their arrangement--for the time being at least. Maybe for good. He was not willing to be in relationship with her unless she was willing to make this agreement with him and as she didn't want to lose him, that's the choice she made. She really loves this guy and recently uprooted her life to move hundreds of miles to be with him. From everything I have seen, his feelings for her are mutual. She's happy about the move and is busy settling into their new place. She's unpacking and painting and making the house a home. Their home. Sometimes she wonders about this decision she's made, and seems to sooth herself with the idea that nothing is set in stone. She talks about their arrangement as being a fluid contract. She's living for right now and right now, this feels right to her. I think it's rather kinky myself. What--you never thought of a traditionally structured monogamous relationship with vanilla flavoring as kinky? The beauty of it all came to me awhile back when I was pondering how her decision could be serving her best interests, specifically sexually, as this is where many of her relationship issues tend to challenge her. Thing is, besides being polyamorous, she is also fairly kinky so I humbly submit that this monogamous role suits her well. Think about it. What better way to play out your Bondage and Submission fantasies than to give away your power to choose who you will and will not have sex with? Now if she could only get him to start tying her up.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

New Relationship Energy

This was originally an email I wrote to a group I was in about five years ago. I cleaned it up and decided to post it here.

New Relationship Energy (NRE) is a common term in the world of polyamory. It describes the excited emotional and sexual attraction one feels in a newly established romantic relationship. Many poly people have learned through personal experience to both fear and respect NRE. They conscientiously work to control the intense emotions that NRE brings as it can influence a person to act irresponsibly, undermining the attention they give to their already established committed relationships.

I've met people who seem to be fairly addicted to the experience of NRE. They find themselves in a pattern of falling in love quickly and often, getting swept off their feet by overwhelming feelings of adoration and attachment to the object of their desire, only to find that the NRE soon wanes and they fall out of love, just as quickly as they fell into it.

You won't find this girl bad mouthing NRE though. I love experiencing it. To me, it feels like connecting and relating to another on a real, soul to soul level. I see in another and another sees in me a spark of who we really are. A reflection of our true potential. I feel happy because it's like I've found myself through another. We find them and they find us so damn exciting, only in fact, because we are! Scientific research has shown that the chemical composition of our brain changes when we fall in love. But revelation of what's real, through altered brain chemicals or not, doesn't mean it's an illusion. But some naysayers denounce NRE as being no more flattering than receiving attention from a drunk at a bar.

After many years together, I love that my heart still frequently goes pitter patter when I get those glimpses of my husband as how he appeared to me when we first met and were falling in love, all caught up in NRE. As far as I'm concerned, that is the real him that I sometimes lose sight of.

Fortunately, our love has grown and there is high level of resonance between us. We work well together, even when we are caught up in our mundane, sometimes boring, sometimes exciting but all in all very comforting and stable life together. It's satisfying to have a primary relationship like this.

Sometimes, there is another that we may fall into relationship with and the NRE carries us along for a day, week, month or year, but when too much of the mundane settles in, we may find that we don't care to share that person's particular way of being in the world on a day to day or even week to week basis. But this doesn't mean that this other really isn't the fascinating creature we once saw in them. It just means that in this human condition, in this physical realm, during this particular time in our life, there are other things to be considered.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

John LaPado

My friend John LaPado died on December 26, 2007. He had just turned 60 years old in October and had been sick with cancer for some time. He gave all of his family and friends plenty of opportunity to both grieve and celebrate with him. We had lots of parties and made lots of music and just totally appreciated him and life itself as we said our last goodbyes. He gave our whole community a wonderful gift in both his living and his dying. I think we all love better and more because of him. Thank you for sharing so much with us John.

Love Intensive at Isis Oasis 2006

During the walking contemplation, I was standing in the empty dome in the meadow contemplating What Is Love? and watching nature.

Other participants were walking by, a cat was chasing something, the mountains were there being mountains, as were the grasses, bushes and trees. There was this little bird in the tree and a song came to mind and I starting singing this one line of the song over and over, "I want to know what Love is, I want you to show me..."

Everything I saw in nature was acceptance. Acceptance of what is. Acceptance was everywhere I looked and I knew without a doubt that love was acceptance. A total non-resistance to what is, is loving what is, is love itself. Love, in love.

And then, the view of nature before me was bright and clear, as if a mist had lifted. The clarity of my sight was so brilliant, that everything was enlightened. Everything was love. And I wept because I was in love. I was love.

Isis Oasis

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo

A couple of weeks ago I was in second hand bookstore in Sebastopol when The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I immediately thought of my friend, Edrid, who had told me a little about the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Anyway, it was a quaint little cloth covered book inserted into a lovely sleeve so I decided to take it home with me. The book is described in the foreword as "an esoteric morsel for a select few in the small aesthetic world of Boston at the turn of the century..." Wow, that was 101 years ago. Kakuzo was supposedly a very important figure in the circles of Japanese art, who worked to bring some harmony into the "clash between Oriental tradition and Western innovation."

After returning home I started reading the book at my dining room table over my Sunday morning soy matcha latte. A few days later my husband referred me to an article on Edrid's website that spoke to an issue of contemplation that we had been discussing. While on the site I noticed a link to an e-book Edrid had written called Tataga Style Tea Ceremony, A "California" Version Of The Traditional Cha-no-yu Japanese Tea Ceremony.

These two little books have totally inspired me and I've started collecting my tea ceremony implements. I've purchased a tea bowl from a friend who sells his ceramics at our local Saturday Farmer's Market. I found a bamboo whisk and bamboo dipper at the Asian Store across from my office. When performing my tea ceremonies, I plan to wear my beautiful antique silk Kimono that my Japanese daughter-in-law's mother gifted me with.

Today, while reading more from The Book of Tea, I was inspired to bring the ceremony to Burningman this year. Then, in telling my friend, SueBee, about my new interest, she got all excited and wants to introduce me to a woman who runs a local art gallery and is interested in sponsoring performance art. She thinks a tea ceremony would be perfect. So, there are many possibilities for me here in this new cult of teaism that I'm seriously considering joining. It offers the lure of self-realization after all. Only time will tell how this all evolves. I'll post updates if there is anything more interesting to share.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:
"Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence."

"Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others."

"For life is an expression, our unconscious actions the constant betrayal of our innermost thought."

"The tiny incidents of daily routine are as much a commentary of racial ideals as the highest flight of philosophy or poetry."

"O nectar! The filmy leaflet hung like scaly clouds in a serene sky or floated like water-lilies on emerald streams. It was of such a beverage that Lotung, A Tang poet, wrote: "The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration,--all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals. The seventh cup--ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.""

"The tea-ideal of the Sungs differed from the Tangs even as their notion of life differed. They sought to actualise what heir predecessors tried to symbolize. To the Neo-Confucian mind the cosmic law was not reflected in the phenomenal world, but the phenomenal world was cosmic law itself. AEons were but moments--Nirvana always within grasp. The Taoist conception that immortality lay in the eternal change permeated all their modes of thought. It was the process, not the deed, which was interesting. It was the completing, not the completion, which was really vital. Man came thus at once face to face with nature. A new meaning grew into the art of life. The tea began to be not a poetical pastime, but one of the methods of self-realisation.

"Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and the guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beautitude of the mundane."

"Our standards of morality are begotten on the past needs of society, but is society to remain always the same? The observance of communal tradition involves a constant sacrifice of the individual to the state. Education, in order to keep up the mighty delusion, encourages a species of ignorance. People are not taught to be really virtuous but to behave properly. We are wicked because we are frightfully self conscious. We never forgive others because we know that we ourselves are in the wrong. We nurse a conscience because we are afraid to tell the truth to others; we take refuge in pride because we are afraid to tell the truth to ourselves. How can one be serious with the world when the world itself is so ridiculous!"

"The Present is the moving Infinity, the legitimate sphere of the Relative. Relativity seeks Adjustment; Adjustment is Art. The art of life lies in a constant readjustment of our surroundings."

"To keep the proportion of things and give place to others without losing one's own position was the secret of success in the mundane drama."

"The reality of a room, for instance, is to be found in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and walls, not in the roof and walls themselves. The usefulness of a water pitcher dwelt in the emptiness of where water might be put, not in the form of the pitcher or the material in which it was made. Vacuum is all important because all containing...One who could make himself into a vacuum into which others might freely enter would become master of all situations."

And a poem I just adore, that was inspired by one of Edrid's Tea Ceremonies. It was written by Erik Grabow during the Master’s Training Course at Origin, 6/17/07


With great care
we prepare the table
and Truth shows up for tea.
The beauty lights are burning more brightly now
as love pours itself from cup to cup
with such graceful abandon.
How is it
a single light can shine with such intensity
from so many faces?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Dyad Communication at Origin 2006

Ren, one of my best friends and my husband, Jerry and I arrived at Origin, a retreat center in the mountains at 6,000 feet elevation for the annual 4th of July weekend Dyad Communication Intensive. The car had broken down in a little town at the top of our spectacular drive through the canyon. It was a simple 2 hour delay, we only needed a battery which we were able to purchase and get installed just before everything closed down for the evening. I thought I had handled the whole delay/detour fairly well without any glitches in my emotional demeanor until we entered the peaceful vibe of the retreat center and the energy there came up and met mine. I was a bit high strung. We eat dinner and chatted with the other participants and then settled in for the evening talk. We retired early to our sleeping loft and fell asleep, preparing ourselves for the arduous work ahead.

The traditional schedule for this intensive was tweaked a little. The morning bell rang at 6:10 rather than 6:00 and we were allowed 20 rather than 15 minutes to ready ourselves for the morning dyad. There was an extra 15 minute exercise period in the afternoon and in the evening we had a "contact meditation" of gazing into your partner's eyes.

This was my fifth Intensive and the first one that I didn't experience a breakthrough into enlightenment. My question/koan was "Who Am I?", offered in the form of "Tell Me Who You Are". I didn't feel very connected to my question and actually wanted to work on "What Is My True Purpose?", but decided that both questions ultimately meant the same thing and so I stuck with the more traditional of the two. Maybe that decision influenced the fact that I didn't experience a breakthrough.

I wasn't contemplating well but that is often the case. I fell into my familiar pattern of getting anxious when nothing comes up quickly enough within the short time allowed for each contemplation. As a result of this anxiousness I tend to start searching for a thought that is applicable, grasp onto it, and then devise something to share with my partner. This, rather than simply intending to experience the truth and remaining open to directly experiencing who I am. Why it is so difficult for me to just sit there and contemplate? I suppose that I don't I trust my ability to truly contemplate and allow the truth to reveal itself to me. I also think I have this need to present something impressive to Another and feel like I'm a bad dyad partner if I don't offer up something juicy.

I was struggling to complete each 40 minute cycle, secretly waiting for the bell to ring and relieve me. All the sitting at Intensives can be physically challenging but this time it felt like pure torture. My back and hips hurt so bad I was eating 4 or 5 ibuprofen twice a day. I've never resorted to this on an Intensive before. I was also overcome with an incredible feeling of fatigue. During the working contemplations I hauled cut willow branches from the creek and my legs moved like lead. I'd be out of breath after simply climbing the stairs up to the second floor and then into my loft.

All the same, some good stuff came up for me. The theme of my contemplation seemed to be based around being in service to my life. The chapters might read like this: Being In Service To The Moment; Accepting The Moment As The Portal to Self; Meeting The Issues Of My Life As They Are Handed To Me; Accepting What The Moment Offers; Who Says Being In A Hole Is A Bad Thing?; Stop Judging; The Choices Of The Past Don't Matter; Regrets, So What?; Growing Old Is Not a Lost of Opportunity. You get the picture. Lots of insight on issues around my kids, my mom and my financial situation.

Many dyads left me feeling somewhat flat and disconnected but I enjoyed the gazing, connection and full body orgasms I experienced in one dyad. The gazing with Another in one was sweet and deep. In another we made each other smile and laugh a bit. I think I pushed one particular participant's buttons and we seemed to be avoiding each other. I felt intimated by what I sensed as hostility and resistance towards me. And then a softening seemed to occur...This is all my own perception and projection of course. Who knows what may have actually been occurring in Another

The afternoon talk on Sunday, the last day of the Intensive got me all cranky and pissy feeling. I was annoyed that after one participant shared that she was feeling sorry for herself, several of the other participants gave her an incredible amount of energy that seemed to be offered in an attempt to "fix" her feelings. I felt very unkind (upon reflection of course I discovered that I was holding on to my own valuable advice that would have "fixed" her). Then we were told that we would be having the regular working contemplation that is usually deleted from the schedule on the last day. I was feeling very lazy and had been looking forward to not working. Then someone requested that we have a dyad communication in place of the silent meditation/contemplation and that was agreed on by the majority. To top it off, someone then suggested that we forgo our rest period for yet another dyad communication. That was voted down but the space was made available for those who did choose to participate in the extra dyad session. The dyad space was right below my loft and that meant that my quiet resting space was "stolen". My ego was up big and making a fuss, making meaning that others were WRONG and in their wrongness, were victimizing me. Simple as that. But by the end of the talk, the working contemplations were actually rescheduled and shortened for most people. My job was eliminated altogether and I was given the opportunity to help fold laundry. That calmed my ego just a bit and that's a good thing because I was considering revolting and refusing to do the working contemplation altogether! I like to think of myself as a rebel of sorts but I probably wouldn't have followed through. That kind of attention embarrasses me and I'm pretty attached to being liked and thought well of.

We had a five minute break and then partnered up for the next dyad. It was great and the 40 minutes just whizzed by. I shared all the unkind, cranky, pissy, bitchiness that I had devolved into when the afternoon talk had not gone my way. I contemplated and shared. Another contemplated and shared. We connected. I felt calm and loving with my ego tucked back on the shelf when the bell rang that ended the dyad. My next dyad was nice as well and then it was time for snack, working contemplation and rest. I had a little fruit and then folded some laundry which took all of 10 minutes from the usual 45 minute to 1 hour period. Before the afternoon talk had ended I devised a scheme to take the rest period to my car. I was going to bring my pillow, lay the seat back, roll down the windows and let the breeze blow through. Once my plan to create a quiet, private, resting space of my own was in place, my bruised ego felt soothed. I shared my plan with Jerry over snack and we arranged to rest in the car together. His working contemplation took longer than mine and the dyad session below hadn't started yet so I just rested in the loft and waited for him. I actually fell asleep and then he came and laid with me for awhile. When the dyad session actually started up below I realized I was at peace with no need to retreat to my car. Oh, the stories my ego tells, trying desperately to pull me right down into my self-righteous gutter of indignation.

After resting contemplation, Jerry and I partnered for the last dyad of the Intensive. Couples are encouraged to not work together during the Intensive but they traditionally save this last "dance" for each other. During the closing talk everyone appreciated one another for all the hard work. We honored Osha for mastering the Intensive, the monitors for keeping us on track and taking care of us, and also our cook who kept us fed. We shared dinner with chatter, jokes and laughter, in contrast to the silence of the previous eating contemplations.

Ren and I showered and hottubbed with a couple of the men, relaxing our sore and weary bodies while sharing personal stories about our lives. Jerry got pulled into a music/dance circle to drum. He later joined us for a soak and then we returned to the music making and dance. We retired fairly early as we were exhausted, the three of us sleeping together, entwined.

In the morning we cuddled more and chatted. I was happy to be experiencing the closeness our triad shares. I loved them both so much and was so pleased as I gazed at the satisfied smile on Ren's face as she rested in my husband's arms.

We shared tea and coffee with some of the other participants who had also spent the night. The energy was sweet, loving and connecting. We learned a bit more about each other's lives, the kind of details that don't come up in the dyads. Jerry rowed me around the pond in the canoe. We gave our last hugs to our hostess and headed home. I felt my altered state of consciousness as I we drove home, back down through the canyon, awed at the beautiful huge rocks.

We've been home for seven hours now. I've mopped the kitchen floor, and walked downtown to my office to meet with a client who didn't show up. We ate dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant. I've been dealing with some intense painful energy in my solar plexus. I feel really open and sensitive to all the energy out here in the default world. Jerry just told me that he's experiencing the same sort of thing.

We watched a hilariously funny TV show and then Jerry and Ren walked downtown to get ice cream while I stayed to finish my post here.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Who Am I?

Enlightenment Intensive #1
April 14-18 2005
Mt. Baldy Zen Center

(Scroll down to "Day One" to skip the intro and just read about my first EI experience itself)

Patrick arrives and I've left the details of our trip up to him--flight confirmation number and departure time. I give him his birthday present, Romio Shrestha's mandala book. It makes him happy and he says he is humbled. He always receives my gifts so sweetly and this makes me happy. We make a quick stop at my mom's so I can say goodbye and then he has a quick business stop to drop off some architectural drawings before we are off.

Patrick is on the phone most of the first 45 miles of our trip, making the business and personal closures he will need for the next few days. We are listening to a CD of an artist named Christopher Somebody and there is one song in particular that he wants me to hear, "Hold on to Love" but he needs to keep turning the music down so he can talk on the phone. He apologizes but I'm fine. I enjoy listening to his voice and witnessing some of his conversational style with others. I particularly like the lyrics of one song, "...the extent of my freedom is measured in the length I'm willing to disobey."

We park in the economy lot at the airport and I'm touched at Patrick's sincere appreciation of the parking lot attendant and amused at his ability to space out, walking away from his unlocked car with the driver's door left wide open. It seems obvious that his sweet and genuine affection towards others is a significant part of what takes care of him as he moves through life. The attendant calls him back to lock up the car.

As we wait for the shuttle Patrick makes another phone call. The shuttle arrives and I get on as he delays. I take my seat as he stands outside talking as the shuttle fills and then drives away. I'm a bit disconcerted about this turn of events, hoping that I can remember which airline we are traveling on. I exit the shuttle at Southwest and the next shuttle arrives momentarily, delivering him back to me.

We enter the airport and are greeted by fairly long lines with only half an hour before our flight departs. As neither of us have the confirmation number, we are stifled in our attempt to download our boarding passes. I call home seeking this information from my computer's desktop. Patrick calls his office and we both retrieve it at the same time. He goes to download our boarding passes but it's too late and he is only able to get some sort of "confirmation pass."

At the first security stop we have both misplaced our drivers licenses. Patrick finds his and gets through but mine is still missing. That darn thing has removed itself from the zipper compartment in my purse where I conscientiously placed it earlier in the morning. I empty the contents of my purse, all the while worrying that I've absentmindedly taken it out and left it at home and most certainly will not be allowed on the plane. When finding it seems nearly hopeless it mercifully reveals itself, only now I discover I've also misplaced my confirmation. Finally, I snatch it from the goblin that lives in my purse with the sole purpose of hiding things in an evil attempt to drive me crazy.

It's now ten minutes before departure which is when they start giving seats away. We prepare to move through the metal detector and the line is moving as slow as molasses but we make it through without a glitch which is amazing for me with all my silver jewelry and piercings (which tend to get me pulled aside and wanded down.) We're walking at a fast clip, carrying all of our bags to the gate which is of course at the far end of the terminal. Then we start running. Patrick is ahead of me and I do my best to keep up but he's quicker thank goodness because he arrives just as they are about to give the last two seats, our seats, away. The woman asks if we are confirmed and yes, thank goodness we are. She tells us how lucky we are and we board our flight, leaving two disappointed "wannabe in those seats" flight seekers behind.

As the flight is full and Southwest doesn't assign seats, we are separated which frustrates my plans for conversation. I also feel a little queasy which isn't unusual for me on planes and I wish I had Jerry to hang on to as he always comforts me so. It's a short flight and we land, gather our baggage and walk to find Cynthia, Patrick's friend who is picking us up. She and Miles, her two year old son, are waiting for us out front. Miles is a sweet and beautiful curly haired two year old in bare feet. He is amused by various activities and not anxious to get back into the car until Cynthia tells him that we are going to find snow in the mountains. I ask his permission to sit in the backseat beside him and am pleased that he welcomes me without reservation. He's a lovely child. I was hungry so we shared the food I brought. He liked the mung bean sprouts and rice but spit out the sunflower sprouts.

It's a fairly short trip up the mountain to the zen center at 6,000 feet elevation. Osha (who also masters intensives) is the first participant I meet. After settling into our cabins we sip tea in the dining hall and wait for others to arrive. We are given the basic run down of the physical environment and then pick out our "meal sets" which consist of three little hard plastic bowls, a cover cloth, drying cloth, napkin, and a little cloth case with chopsticks and a spoon inside. We receive instructions on how to use, wash, and store these eating utensils, basically, how to eat with zen mind. I immediately embrace this beautiful little practice as a meditative and artfully crafted eating experience. We share dinner and then settle into the dyad room for a lecture. After the lecture we retire to our cabins as we'll be up early in the morning.

Day One

I developed an efficient system of sleeping in the pants I would wear the next day with everything else laid out next to my bed. At 6:00 am (as every morning of the intensive) Roxanne, the monitor, awoke us and we had 15 minutes to get dressed, wash our faces, brush our teeth and walk to the dyad room to be seated for the bell to ring that started the first dyad. I found that mornings were a good time for experiencing openness in my contemplation and connection with others. I was easily present and found myself crying each day during the first morning dyad.

After the first dyad, Edrid, who mastered the Intensive, offered a short lecture and then we were given 15 minutes for exercise, 15 minutes for tea and then another dyad. Edrid incorporated a Preparation For Contemplation meditation into the schedule and the first part of it was called Nekashum which worked well for me. We would breathe into the central channel parallel the spine. With each inhalation we would go IN, and with each out breath we would stay IN, going IN deeper and deeper with each inhalation. I found that the stillness, silence and emptiness of non conceptual mind, which is the base of awareness, were easily available to me in my third eye area. We would move our arms and chant "Ah" with the intention of not obscuring the base of the stillness and silence.

After a dyad, lecture, exercise, tea, and another dyad we had 45 minutes for breakfast in silence. Meals were called "eating contemplation." Each meal consisted of a 45 minute break to eat, drink, pee, whatever, in silence. I forget the exact sequence of dyad communications, meditations, lectures, etc. but lunch would arrive and then we would have a 45 minute walking contemplation which was always powerful for me. The movement helped empty my mind and deepen my contemplation.

After walking contemplation there were more dyads and lecture and an hour break to relax, shower, rest and what have you. During this break we were allowed to share with Another, if we chose, but only for speaking of our enlightenment process. Some participants kept the silence better than others. The rules seemed to serve more as guidelines to facilitate our process, rather than as rigid control of our behavior that was strictly enforced.

All of the same issues as in my normal daily life emerged. I was sometimes distracted by Another and struggled with my desires and my fear of not receiving what I wanted. I had a lot of clutter in my mind that needed to be taken out like the trash.

Edrid encouraged us to focus on ourselves, our process and our question, while leaving others to themselves, purposely not trying to get Another to respond to us. I took this suggestion earnestly and became aware of my pattern of wanting to be noticed by Another, seeking validation of my existence by receiving a favorable response. I worked to disengage from this relationship dynamic and to stay in contemplation.

That night I walked to the rocks and Love kept coming up in my contemplation. I found a beautiful heart rock to bring home as a gift for Jerry. I brought it to the dining room for others to enjoy for the duration of the intensive.

Day Two

On my way to the first dyad, I reflected on my years as a Krsna devotee, rising early to make it to the temple for the 4:00 am worship which was considered the most auspicious time of day. I liked the feeling of walking that path early in the morning, traveling to gather with others to meet myself.

This day brought my first breakthrough into enlightenment, a direct experience. I had headed out to the rocks again. I loved walking on those rocks and feeling the movement under my feet. As I stepped on each rock I thought, "These rocks are each individuals, each lying here in their separateness and yet, they aren't separate, they are together in their beingness, each one doing their part to make up the mountain. The rocks came together and in their oneness they comprise the mountain. "I am a rock" I thought. I started singing the Simon and Garfunkel song "I am a rock, I am an island". My beingness as a rock transformed into knowing myself as the truth. I thought of the Zen saying. "There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path". And I said, "There is no path to the truth, the truth is the path." And then I experienced myself as the Truth and understood that there is no difference between the truth and the path. The Truth is the path. The path takes me to the truth, takes me to myself. I am the Truth. I am the truth and I am the path. The path is the truth and the path is me.

Truth + Path = Me, Truth + Me = Path, Path + Me = Truth.

It's a holy trinity sort of thing. Then I sited a gravel hill and climbed to the top. I sat there and cried, knowing the truth of my being and the significance of telling the truth as being my path to myself. I could not deny myself any longer. I would not deny myself any longer. I headed back down the gravel hill. I had climbed the mountain and was now descending, enlightened. I was the mountain and I was heading back into the valley of my life.

I talked with Edrid about my breakthrough and he told me to continue with the process, contemplating and sharing in the dyads, allowing the experience to settle deeper. I did share my experience in my dyads but it started feeling like an "enlightenment story" and that I was not honoring the actual knowing. I started resisting what felt to me like a "story telling process."

I wanted to connect with Patrick during the afternoon break and there he was, waiting outside. He told me I was glowing and asked how I was doing. I informed him of my breakthrough and asked him if he wanted to go lie in the sun and talk about it. He agreed and took me to a sweet little spot on the rocks. We got comfortable, striped down to a few less clothes and relaxed in the sun. He told me an enlightenment story about trees and I told him of my breakthrough and my resistance to telling the story. He encouraged me to continue talking about it.

I returned to the rocks for our walking contemplation that evening and mushed sand, gravel and earth beneath my feet. I was drawn to touch it, smell it, unite with it. I was in love with it.

Erik led us in Burmese breathing exercises late that night and then we had another dyad before sleeping contemplation.

Day Three

During the walking contemplation I returned to my enlightenment spot on the rocks. The direct experience returned and deepened, settling in. I now understood the advice from both Edrid and Patrick, for me to continue telling my story. It had helped me remember details of the breakthrough that I might have otherwise forgotten. I re-entered the "I am a rock, I am an island" part of my enlightenment experience in a deeper way. I experienced myself as an island, a refuge. I am the place of retreat, the place to go to for safety, the place to hold onto in the midst of the storm. I am a rock. I am an island. I am a mountain. Then the part of my breakthrough where "me as a rock" turned into "me as the truth" returned. I had just skimmed the surface of that experience but now it returned and deepened. I am a rock. I am steady, sure, part of the whole. My rock is my truth. My truth takes me to my rock, to my island. The truth is the path to myself. I again experienced remembering the story of Judas betraying Jesus and how I betray myself when I don't tell the truth. Then the metaphor of the crucifix and the path of suffering came to me and I knew that which makes me suffer--the denial of self. Denying the truth of myself is no longer an option for me. The consequences of the truth could never cause me to suffer to the extent that denying myself causes me to suffer.

I received a lot of insight along with my direct knowing. I understood the significance of story telling and the power of metaphor and symbolism--and of moving beyond these into actualization in my life.

My enlightenment settles in. I am a rock, I am an island. I am a mountain. I am the truth and the truth shall set me free. Freedom came to me. My truth is my freedom. I've been struggling to tell my truth. Fighting to experience my freedom--in love, in my sexuality, in relationship with Another. All others. Tell the truth Adrienne. Allow the reality of truth. Tell the truth to everyone--that's where my freedom lies. Don't let anyone take that power from me--the power of the truth, the freedom of the truth. The truth and freedom of self. I have freedom if I have the truth. If I have truth, I have myself. My prison is simply separation from self.

The dyads continue. I'm on and off, hot and cold, working my stuff. I've reached the peak and I'm descending the mountain. I've shared dyad communication with everyone but one person. I considered not connecting with this specific other whose energy seemed too loud, over dramatic, and annoying. I decided to go for it, to open myself to this connection for the last dyad of the intensive and it was wonderful. What an interesting and loving, supportive person, on the path to finding self, just like me.

After the closing talk I had a lot of anxious fear come. My mind was racing with various thoughts and I knew that I did not want to be alone that night and if it came down to that, I would have a difficult time holding on to myself. I felt an almost frantic urge to leave, to get down the mountain and away from the Zen Center. Ideas of lack, limitation and separation reared their ugly heads.

I connected with Paul, who offered Patrick and I a place to stay for the night and a ride to the airport in the morning. We were set and I was relieved. Paul gave us towels to shower and made us feel at home. I was in a very altered state. Patrick and I showered, shared a beer and I told him that I was looking for the warm body of a friend to cuddle with and he agreed to sleep with me. We went to bed and chatted and cuddled. He tossed and turned and had a difficult time settling down and I rubbed his back a little. When he finally dozed off I couldn't go to sleep. I laid there resisting my urge to toss and turn, not wanting to wake him. I was so full of energy I felt like I was going to explode. I could hear this loud buzzing and I couldn't tell if it was inside or outside of me. I willed myself to be still and finally dozed off and dreamed some outrageous dreams.

We awoke to Paul's voice, "Forty-five minutes until the next dyad." Ha. We dressed and he took us to breakfast where although the food and coffee wasn't great, the connection and conversation were sublime. Heloise, a psychotherapist from Chicago who was at the Intensive, happened to be on the same flight with us and we scored the last three empty seats together. I couldn't have asked for better company. Our ride home was fun and adventurous and I have fond memories of the love, friendship and good conversation...and the iris farm.