Category Archives: Musings

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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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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hot tub epiphany–parenting

Iman big eyesThe price of manifestation in this one-song-uni-verse is a wild, open, chaotic stew, where every thing and all things erupt.

The suffering my adult son is experiencing–all mothers carry this: “the mother gene,” with a scouring empathy for our offspring. If we allow, it burnishes us empty.

I bear suffering differently, now–as everymother, shouldering this particular flavor of stew.

It is not personal.

The only way, is through. All that is required is noticing, which by its very nature, is infinitely compassionate and eternally loving. No longer diving into the painful soup with him does not make me a bad mother. I’m a better mother for not doing so. I’m here, available, filled with love for my son-who-is my-very-own-self.

He knows my cell number.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016
I took this snapshot about forty years ago.

 

 

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Filed under Daily reminders, Musings, parenting, Surrender

self-abandonment, a hot tub epiphany

While soaking last night, I considered a comment my counselor made to me around five years ago. She said, “Don’t abandon yourself.” This has been a bit of a koan for me, and I’ve returned and considered her statement many times.

Now I understand the deeper meaning. Nicole wasn’t speaking of everyday self-abandonment, where we treat ourselves badly, or allow others to do so–neither of those was occurring. It was far more subtle than that. She was pointing to Self-abandonment, with a capital S–getting so caught up in worldly challenges and chaos that Awareness, the ground of being available to each of us in every moment, is apparently veiled and neglected.

Today, while carrying deep concern for my son, I’ve remained with the source, too–tangible, yet without qualities. Right here, right now.

Thank you Nicole!

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016

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Be That

Be That

Be that
in which it all takes place

Let background
slip into foreground.

Rest there.

It’s available
Now and here
For you, for me.

 

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016

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touchstone – take two

All my life, I’ve hungered for a touchstone–something reliable, constant, steady. Something that would not come and go.

The moment in September 2009 that I turned around–in a metaphorical sense–and took note of the unchangeable aspect of what I am, my experience rearranged. The moment itself was quiet, and the shift seemed almost imperceptible. Although I was alone at the time, I spoke my response out loud: “Really?”

At first the aftermath took the form of the tiniest aftershocks. About nine months later, the big one hit. The whole house of cards that people knew as Amrita collapsed. This was not easy, either for me nor those closest to me. Most of the cards simply blew away, never to be found again. A couple of cards remained, but not to be re-constructed into a house. They float on groundlessness.

Now I add other words to describe this touchstone: Eternal, Infinite. Peaceful. And this touchstone is forever “with” me–I simply hadn’t noticed. I can’t offer an image as a representation like I usually do with blogs, because it is not a “thing.” It has no objective qualities. It is unfindable–one cannot even turn toward it, because it is too close. Closer than close. Yet it-that-isn’t-an-it is knowable. Be-able.

© Amrita Skye Blaine 2015

 

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mind game – update

Ripple-EffectLast evening, Caverly Morgan and I talked about anxiety and self-love. She is an introspective, thoughtful woman with a Zen monastic background, and works with teens in the Portland, Oregon schools. Check out her website onehouseofpeace.org. She had some suggestions about working with the overactive nighttime mind which I decided to try out, along with the self-reminders I posted yesterday.

When I went to bed and relaxed my body, as usual, the mind fired up. I worked with sensing the feelings that underlie and precipitate thought, and while doing this, noticed just how strident the mind was. With curiosity, I queried, “Why are you so loud?” The answer: “I don’t feel heard.”

One of my companions over the last nine years has been a volume of daily readings called The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. In one entry, he describes how Aboriginal Australian people pay their respects when they come upon each other in the bush. Their greeting is, “I see you.” In this vein of deep love, understanding, and union, I responded to the mind by saying, “I hear you.” I repeated this, with love, a number of times. The mind chatter volume immediately dropped. Now I could rest in being, aware of, but not engaged with, the ongoing commentary.

I went on to sense the feelings beneath the chatter, and then, prior even to feelings, bodily sensations, which I invited to soften, and permeated with knowing presence. At some point, filled with gratitude, I dropped off to sleep.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
image credit

 

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Filed under Daily reminders, insomnia, mind, Musings, thoughts