pain as free medicine

In early February, I ruptured a disk in my low back: first an ache, then a burning two-inch poker, then an angry nerve’s lightning bolt searing down my leg. For the next week, until I saw a spinal specialist who prescribed the right nerve medication, I hobbled with a cane, couldn’t sleep, was unable to sit at my desk, and had no appetite. Intractable pain is exhausting.

And yet!

Sometimes, while lying awake, present to the moment which was busily announcing its presence—where else could I be?—I focused on severe pain as rich sensation. Although the aching and burning didn’t let up, the sensations did fluctuate, always subtly shifting. For brief periods, the margin between agony and ecstasy melded. Such a mystery.

Other times, I rested in and as the “field” (a simpler word for “consciousness”—more plainsong, less full orchestra). That’s the apparent choice: either be the sensations, or be the field in which sensations arise. In neither instance did the pain go away. Thisness is thisness—there is no choice but to be it all.

Apparent choice? No choice? Which is it? Once I heard Adyashanti answer a student’s question this way: “If there’s an apparent choice, make it.” I giggled with delight and slipped that expression in my pocket. Of course, both—“both” is a concession to the failure of language to express the inexpressible—are true. Neither are true. Nothing is “true.”

Because of this teaching—this ever-evolving-no-place-to land-understanding—no story formed. I had no fearful thoughts of the future, or story-building about what caused it to happen—which would have added suffering on top of acute sensation.

Gratefulness flooded for the extravagant pain, my husband’s precious care, the abrupt interruption of teaching, driving, and writing. Gratitude lit me up: this apparent paradox of field and sensation, the ever-inseparable unmanifest and manifest, never other than what it is: outrageous, unstoppable, and luscious free medicine.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2017
photo credit: Emily Polis Gibson of the Barnstorming blog
credit for “free medicine

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Filed under Awakening, Daily reminders, Musings, Non-duality, nonduality

prime question #3

Prime questions have become creative play for me–new ways to reflect on the truth. I call them prime questions because they remind me of prime numbers, a number only divisible by itself or by one.

Look at our own experience–

  • our thoughts vanish,
  • our feelings fade,
  • bodily sensations arise and pass away,
  •  our perceptions–sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures–all are equally transient. We shift our gaze, and what we were looking at before disappears; what we hear changes moment by moment; smells are even more ephemeral–unless it’s skunk, and even that eventually dissipate. Tastes are hard to nail down–I notice this each time I suck on a square of dark, salty, caramel chocolate. Gone, so quickly. And textures? We only feel them while we’re touching them.

Even planets come and go.

Look now: what doesn’t change?

 

© Amrita Skye Blaine

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Filed under Advaita, Awakening, Musings, Non-duality, Truth

prime questions 1 and 2

Last night in the hot tub, the phrase “prime questions” came to me. These questions do not refer to the manifest world of objects, thoughts, feelings, or perceptions–all that comes and goes. The questions ask us–metaphorically–to turn around and notice what is true.

Prime questions cannot be answered.
They can be known.

Here’s a twinned pair of prime questions:

Physical objects arise in space; in what does space arise?
Events arise in time; in what does time arise?
Rupert Spira

If we are willing to
STOP
and truly consider what the questions point to, our lives will be altered irrevocably.

rupert-spira

 

 

 

image: Rupert Spira

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2017

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bedtime epiphany

molded-ear-plugsMy husband snores lightly, and it seems to start about a half hour after I go to bed. It’s unexpected, and uneven. I can’t fall asleep.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my audiologist to make me a pair of molded ear plugs. He stuck a small cotton wad attached to a thread into each ear, then injected soft material that hardens in five minutes–red for the right ear, blue for the left. In fifteen minutes, I left his office delighted, earplugs in hand.

I headed to bed that night looking forward to trying them out, sure they would make a huge difference.

Here’s what I learned: even fitted to my specific ears, plugs block very little, because ears hear. That’s what they do; that is their nature, whether we are awake or asleep.

In the same way, consciousness is always awake. That’s its nature. Our bodies may be in deep sleep, but awareness, which is unlocated, remains ever-present, eternal and infinite.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016

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what is this?

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Abbey D'Agostino of the United States (R) is assisted by Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand after a collision during the Women's 5000m Round 1 - Heat 2 on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

What is this?
This outrageous, ever-unfolding display:
decapitations, orgasms, bombastic politicians,
premature babies born with everything wrong, struggling to breathe.
Grannies rock them back to life.

Two runners fall, one tears her knee.
The other, a competitor, eases her up–
forgoes the race, and trots beside the hobbling athlete.
They cross the finish line together, dead last.
Now friends for life.

Prior to this erupting chaos,
prior–but not in time–
is the ineffable:
empty of things,
but full of possibility.

Rest there–or better said,
rest here
in this ground of being
and, still resting,
join the show.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2017
image credit: Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

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peeling the onion

Peeling the onion—
after the center is stripped away, what is left?
Nothing
I find no thing
Only perfume of the one taste

 

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016
image credit

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Dorothy Hunt’s poem

THIS is here before seeking
THIS is here before awakening
THIS is here after awakening
THIS is here without words
THIS is here with words.
Only THIS that is awake, aware,
pure, naked, unstained, indivisible,
and perfectly Whole.

~ by Dorothy Hunt (Continuous awakening)

(from The SAND Conference weekly newsletter)

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