Saturday, March 21, 2020

Maybe the coronavirus has a better purpose than we are giving it

Ever notice how the more you focus on something, the more real it becomes?

At the height of the gay plague, my boyfriend contracted the HIV virus. We were both stunned, horrified, terrified. Six months later, he landed in the intensive care unit with his first bought of Pneumocystis, an accelerated and often very deadly form of pneumonia. His war with death had begun. Often in that time, death stared out from his wasted face and chilled my soul. As he fought for every breath, I could read the terror he was wrestling with in his pained expression, feel his failing resources in an ongoing battle with the Grim Reaper. It was the worst time of my life, the second-worst time of his. Born in Konigsberg, Germany in 1936, he was old enough when the war ended to experience first hand the atrocities and ravages of retribution as the Russians killed, raped, and buried the city of his birth in soot and ash. What he must have witnessed and experienced, I have no doubt, would’ve killed me ten times over.

Surviving the atrocities of a lost war lends an inner strength that is able to sail through the mightiest storms.

Two years later, after an equally terrifying bought with the virus, a new treatment appeared that saved those remaining few from dying, and we were able to close this frightful chapter of our lives.

His battles won, he awakened to an entirely new level of consciousness. He was totally bereft of superficiality and false pretense, a level of being few of our brothers in the 1980s were able to achieve. Through my husband and my friend, I have come to see that this virus was necessary to bring about the opening of a new way of being in this world of form. Releasing the physical body leads to death, at best, to suffering and change at worst, he was able to move into a consciousness that embraced the eternal in him, the eternal self, the Truth.    

Since that time, in periods of extreme anxiety, I’ve asked him why he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about what was going on around us. His reply, “Eric, having been to Hell and back 3 or 4 times in my life, which has taught me not to allow myself the luxury of a negative thought. The results would be too devastating.”

In January I went through a very dark time both physically and mentally. With corona virus-like symptoms, I fell sick and confined myself to the apartment for three weeks. Not because I thought I’d contracted the coronavirus as that virus was still in China and I had no idea what it was at that time.  My ‘sick time’ became a period of intense and forced introspection, a self-encounter that brought up all my deepest fears and darkest imaginings, that left me fearing for my sanity. Relief came when I finally realized how important it was to monitor my thoughts, do as little mind-fucking as possible. Meditation helped, but was more a respite as an answer in itself. The all too excessive amount of negativity running around my head made it impossible to even consider doing yoga.

At the apex of my dark night, the words of my husband came to mind, his way of dealing with his own demons’ and the AIDS virus way back then. Namely, to remain awake to the inappropriate thoughts running uncontrolled through the mind. To watch the madness in my mind, but at the same time remember: I am not the misery come of these thoughts, I am not the fear that surfaces when I think of possible consequences, but the observer of that misery, that aspect of self that is capable of witnessing the darkness, not the darkness itself. That realization brought me slowly back to the truth of who and what I am; namely, the silent observer of what goes on in the mind, not the mind itself. I am the vast space of knowingness that arises when the thoughts are still, and also the consciousness that is present during those thoughts, not the madness that I think is happening.

Thoughts were telling me this is a dangerous world, filled with unfathomable misery and torment. When the thoughts were still, as if by magic, the anxiety was also gone. What a revelation. Something I had intellectually embraced years ago, but had not experienced on a deeper level until the darkness and anxiety-filled doubt gave enough contrast to actually experience it. Instead of trying to free myself from the negative thoughts and unimaginable outcomes of projection, I was learning to simply watch them and see them for what they are: nothing but thoughts, thoughts so real they had me believing I was something other than the profound peace that comes when I am silent and experience the peace that passes all understanding. And the best way to silence my thoughts is to simply watch them without becoming them.

How often I have preached this in my yoga class, for what is Hatha yoga other than the ability to achieve pure freedom by awakening to the inner witness, that aspect of self that observes the body without identifying itself with it; watching the sensations asana produces and observing the breath with the detachment of a scientist watching an experiment knowing he is not the experiment, not the observer

Oddly enough, when the physical illness passed, and the mental anguish dissipated, I found myself, missing those feelings of anxiety that constantly urged me to go within and dwell on thoughts God would have me have, and not those born of the fear itself. My bouts of anxiety had worked like policemen, warning me constantly not to go in that direction. Then, as the Light in me became stronger, the police force disbanded and I was left to my own devices, which were still pretty weak.

With the onslaught of The coronavirus, the police force is back in action. As I look out into the work, I am reminded, minute for minute how necessary it is not to drop into fear, but affirm that which I know to be true. If I don’t, if I allow my fear thoughts to win out, salvation is impossible.  

These are scary times, but only if you give in to the temptation to believe you are only a body, born of fear in a world that supports the idea of death, separation, and loss.

Keep telling yourself, over and over again, that you are a thought of God, not a thought of your ego. And do that with the focus of someone in a handstand on the edge of the Grand Canyon.   

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Forgiving your enemy doesn't mean you have to sleep with him.

Countless times since I've started the journey back to absolute Peace, sages have advised: forgiveness is the only way. After duly considering their advice, I drop into total futility. Forgiving my enemies, whether it's the loud neighbors having sex at 3 in the morning, or Hitler and his troupe of villain, seems an impossible task.

God knows I've tired. Really. More than twice. But it always fails. (Case in fact: I have been trying to forgive the man with whom I spent nine years in a relationship. We broke up forty years ago. Just when I think I've halfway succeeded, I see his face in my meditations my stomach grips, and I realize I've failed yet again. The odd thing is: This man never did anything wrong to me! Consciously, anyway. All those misdeeds and malevolences were only in my head!

For a long time, I thought maybe I was going about it in the wrong way. Obviously, relying on my own resources/strengths, was not enough. So, I gave it over to a Higher Power, repeatedly, and the ball always came rolling right back into my court. Nothing was achieved.

What did I do wrong?

Because forgiving-your-enemy has gotten such good press from the New Age circuit, I kept it up, tried my best to let go of grievances, gave the task over to the Holy Spirit, erased it from my mind, ignored it. To no avail. What now? I mean, if I can't even forgive something someone never did to me, (except in my mind), imagine me trying to forgive something that really did happen, like the holocaust, Hannibal Lektor, the guy chewing gum in the back row of my yoga class.

And, so it seems, I'm back to square one.

Well, not quite ground zero, thanks to the encounter with 25% of my 7,896,346,257,153  demons back in the cold dark month of January.

Going through a 'dark fortnight of the soul' has a way of blasting you off the trusted path and onto another, more appropriate one. (Funny how extreme fear forces you to find new ways of dealing with things). Although the new road appeared a bit drab next to the path paved with glitter and gold I normally travel, I started the journey. My first discovery was if I wanted to get rid of my inner turmoil and anxiety, I had to face the above mentioned 25% one by one.

 No. Not face them; embrace them!

Up until the month of sickness, I did everything I could to avoid my demons, (except, of course, the smaller ones like illicit sex, or pigging out on potato chips and popcorn). For example, an evil demon would pop up in my mind: I would either sit down and meditate, space out in front of the TV, or read a beach blanket novel. These failing, I'd pop a Prozac. Although these techniques worked well when the sun was shining and my heart as open, in the throes of anxiety, they were as useless Methamphetamine in Heaven. Worse yet, while the demons had me by the throat, My Higher Self was forcing me to face them, these deep dark shadows that had been begging my attention ever since I turned sixty – ten years hence.

I breathed, mantraed, recited the 108 Names of God, even promised to take up the cloth should my prayers for release be answered.  But the demons had their claws in, clutching at my soul with all their might.

A  well-reputed Facebook guru I was following on Instagram advised me to befriend them. "Don't see your demons as enemies, but as advisers who are working together with your Higher Self to unclog the drain between you and God. The Heavenly Host clapped there hands and flapped their wings, and told me to heed the wise words.

"Say, what?" I responded. Obviously, neither the Internet Guru nor the Heavenly Host was that well acquainted with my particular brand of demons, who were are about as attractive as Jabba the Hut.

"Find something positive about them!" he advised. "After all, you created them, so there must be something worthwhile waiting for your discovery."

Odd as it sounded, a payoff surfaced immediately. In the space of a thought, one of my major demons attained a voice. It said, "Without me, you will never gain enlightenment."


"You need me the way the day needs the night, the moon needs the sun, peace needs war, the donkey needs a kick in the ass."

It didn't take a genius to understand what he meant.  

God's Presence waits for my permission to enter my consciousness. in order to be felt, God, Peace, Love, and Light, must be remembered. Not once a week, not once a day, but every minute of every waking hour for the rest of my earthly life. True awakening was only possible when the desire becomes as desperate as a drowning man yearning for air.

How easy it is to forget one's divinity when the sun is shining and everything is going hunky-dory. Who's thinking about God when they're twenty and hormones are raging, and the men are standing in line to sign your dance card?

I'm learning; it's not so much a matter of giving up the world of form as it is to see the world of form through the eyes of absolute consciousness, or peace, or perfect love. It's not about relinquishing the senses so much as to feel and experience sensations while being anchored in the knowledge that I am That which witnesses all that happens. I am not the physical body, but the consciousness that is aware of the physical body.  

Ever since I hit puberty, one of my greatest desires was to achieve enlightenment while still in the body. When I ask myself now, what is the greatest obstacle to enlightenment? the answer returns: All that stands between you and enlightenment is: you don't believe you are, now and forever more: enlightened. How can I incorporate this great truth into my everyday life? By affirming my true nature, and negating the illusion you are a body, a concept, a thought. Here this: it's not enough to affirm this truth once, but over and over again.

Ever notice how friendly and helpful your neighbors are during a crisis or war?

This is the subject of my next blog post!