Category Archives: stories

why oh why oh why?

windblown-leafWe can get hooked on needing to know why. It’s a part of the mind’s final stand, and thought just doesn’t want to let it go.

“But why,” we ask, “does awareness allow itself to be veiled?”

The mind wants to know, and can get lost in creating scenarios, such as “awareness wanted an other to experience love.”

It’s a nice story. If this satisfies something for you, that’s fine, too. It soothed something in me for decades.

“Why” questions have no answers, and engaging with these questions re-activates our already overactive minds. Allow the very thought of “why” to be the reminder to relax. Be happy feeling the “why”–no need to reject it. Allow the wind to sail it away.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
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oneness and multiplicity

OnenessLogoTonight, I took part in a reading at Sisters Consignment Couture in Sonoma, California. We read short sections of memoir about sisters, or people close enough that we consider them our sisters. David shared how his father turned malevolent when he drank, and thrashed his wife–frightening him and his three sisters. Catherine’s sister died five years ago of lung cancer, and she so clearly depicted walking with her sister towards her death, and the loss she still feels today. Joelle wrote about the night she was taken home abruptly from a slumber party because her sister, Wendy, had died in a car accident. Laura described unreasonable and thoughtless behavior of a Mother Superior when she and her sister were little. I read a short piece where my best friend and I spontaneously created a ceremony at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford Hospital to honorably dispose of my wedding ring from a previous marriage.

The common thread that expresses oneness amidst the seeming disparity of experience and stories was so obvious–our compassion and love for family and friends, the exquisite rawness of our shared human experience. The mind notices differences, a skill that we require for many activities. We can make use of the able mind and know it is not the largest truth. The deeper heart recognizes with undeniable clarity that life is not-two.

©Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
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is it a barren nothing?

black eye galaxyIs it a barren nothing? So fun when deconstruction has to begin with the first five words: “It” is not an it, but we call it that in order to use words at all. Otherwise, it would be necessary to remain silent.

Both my husband and I went through a period we now call “the bardos.” In 2008, meaning in our lives fell away, and life felt very flat. Barren. Even unappealing. I no longer understood how to live, and was afraid that life would be boring, or uninteresting.

Ha! Not the case, and the bardos turned out to be a phase that lasted a couple of months. Life’s vitality returned–on its own terms! Now life lives–and it’s engaging, challenging–all that it was before, except it has no meaning, and I’m absolutely clear that I have no control at all. It’s all one big life unfolding–beautifully, horribly, confusingly, touchingly.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: NASA’s incredible archives

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not enough

its_not_enough_buttonMost people live in a world of “not enough.” Not enough love, not enough money, not enough of the right kind of food, not enough time.

How many thoughts do I have a day wanting to change something in my life?

Honestly? Quite a few.

But I believe them less and less–because this moment, this moment right now, is precious, just as it is.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
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the need to know

obsessing dog cartoonHave you ever been driven by the need to know?

I remember the days right after I met the man whom I’ve now been married to for almost twenty-four years.

The retreat was held about four hours from where I lived at the time, and we discovered that we lived only one-half hour from each other.

After I got home, I was overcome by the need to know if he was going to call or not. Frankly, it made me miserable. And he didn’t call right away–I think it took about ten days. Ten days of a kind of misery, obsessing and not sleeping much. This was a kind of ecstatic misery, but misery nonetheless. Wild scenarios flooded my mind–what I might have said or done that would have put him off, how I might have been more attractive to him. I have to chuckle now, because I was in quite a state.

Recently, we placed an offer on a home–in the exact neighborhood where we want to live. I couldn’t help but notice the difference: when the mind got busy, I shifted attention to notice what it was that was wondering–a far more fruitful, and less stressful way to sit in the unknown. We didn’t get the home, but I didn’t suffer in the interim–instead, I spent the time resting in curiosity.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: Charles Barsotti

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going back to sleep

going back to sleepWhat is going back to sleep, really?

We ignore our own direct experience, available right now to every one of us, and buy back into the dream of–supposedly–how things are. It’s easier. It’s more comfortable, but only in the short term.

Believe me, I know; I repeatedly dozed off for decades. My nest was cozy, lined with down feathers, deliciously comfortable.

How could I call off the search? I had too much energy invested. How could I admit to myself–or anyone else–that I’d been focused in the wrong direction?

But there comes a time when denial no longer serves.

© Amrita Skye Blaine
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empty-minded and open-hearted

Iman's heart no sigI doubt if this busy mind will ever be empty; but then again, I don’t worry about it, because I have zero control over it. I don’t have to touch the mind’s rant, however, or get involved with it.

There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being able to leave the mind’s rant alone. But the more that I take note that the mind is always lagging behind the moment, is remarkably unreliable, and often downright mean–mostly to my own body-mind–the easier it becomes not to touch it. Why would I want to? Save it instead, for what it’s good at–practical life detail. Keeping a calendar. Paying bills. Writing. Cooking a nourishing dinner.

Still, I love the phrase empty-minded and open-hearted. When we leave the mind alone, the heart opens and becomes the more active center, and we can move from there. The heart–when it is not weighted down with story and the feelings that compound the story–doesn’t lag behind; it responds in the moment, appropriately.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: my son’s original art, about age 5

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not doing and action

Rupert's potMany people, particularly people who have been active in causes of one sort or another, are concerned that if they awaken they will lose their drive to reduce suffering in the world. They are afraid of losing who they know themselves to be. One needn’t worry about this, or even have concern. There may be a period of readjustment where certain activities are reduced or cease altogether; that’s a needed time of reorientation. The very cells of the body are undergoing a powerful transformation.

I write. It’s true that I used to write fiction, and at this point I am not drawn to do so. There was also a period where I didn’t write at all–I think that lasted six months to a year, and occurred when my attraction to story fell away. But the passion for expressing through words returned–you might even think with a vengeance! It simply flows in a different channel than before.

Activities that you are drawn to may change, as well. For example, Rupert Spira is a fine potter–many of his pieces are in museums and private collections. Yet he doesn’t make pots anymore, because he has discovered a passion for pointing to the truth of what we are. Instead of shaping clay, he is opening hearts to the deepest understanding–a highly creative activity, but in an apparently different realm. I say “apparently” because in essence, the realms of beauty and love are the same.

Life is perpetually changing–and there is no why. It’s simply to open and flow with–now, and now, and now.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: Rupert Spira’s website Go there to see more of his astonishingly beautiful pots.

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what will happen?

control alt delete“What will happen?” This question has haunted me most of my life. Sometimes the thought arises, “When did this begin, this unnatural fear of life?”

But the question is unnecessary; it simply doesn’t matter. It’s been part of this particular life pattern, that’s all.

I spent much of my mental life thinking about, and preparing for, worst-case scenarios so if they did come to pass, I might be prepared, or at least the feared event wouldn’t blindside me. But when I think back to the scary and outrageous events that have occurred in my life, I never come close to imagining any of them. All of that creative mental energy worrying, spent for naught.

But blindsiding showed up anyway, because reality is more wild, more ludicrous, more spectacular than our insubstantial minds can conjure. Twenty-one years ago, I was struck by the butt-end of a huge falling oak branch. As soon as my husband rushed to my side, I asked him, “Am I going to die?” He had the good common sense to tell me no. But there was my most basic question, “What will happen?”

The delicious beauty and ease is in letting the question go. Any future or past that we might obsess about is only a thought that occurs now. So when the question arises–much less often these days–as soon as I notice my old companion, so very, very familiar, I set it gently down, and return here.

Ah!

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013

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opinions

bread loaf and crumbsOpinions, what are they?

When I look, I see that they are simply thoughts. In my direct experience, thoughts arise unbidden–I have no control over them, other than I can leave them alone. Let the thought train shoot on by.

There are useful thoughts that help organize life, or get us to a meeting on time. I’m not writing about that variety. I have discovered that the thoughts or opinions flavored by emotion or preference that come to this body-mind are fundamentally unreliable. Thoughts cannot “think” about this moment except in hindsight, because thinking is always late–it comes after the moment. Thoughts judge, tell stories, make distinctions, and divide oneness into the multiplicity we apparently experience. They are small–like a crumb–rather than the whole aromatic, warm loaf of bread. As Nirmala says, “a small truth.”

So when thoughts are practical and not filled with emotion, I’m happy to attend to the common sense that is there. Emotion is the clue that a thought is highly suspect, and that I’ve slipped into believing a small truth again.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo from 123RF

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