Archive for the ‘Jack Kornfield’ tag
As I drove towards Canmore on Sunday for my Grassi Lakes hike, I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats in honour of the many other times I had stopped there while taking my children to visit family on Canada’s west coast. It became a tradition of sorts. I stopped because I saw the moon in the morning sky above one of the mountains and thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to capture that photo. Of course, once I was out of the car I began to wander and be present with where I was. I followed my ears as they lead me to Pigeon Creek. Once at the creek I was surprised by beautiful wild flowers. The time out had worked wonders for me and I was ready to head back to the car and complete the drive to Canmore. But, before I reached the car on my way back to the village, I saw this coyote who was calmly making his way into the edge of the hamlet. And in that moment, a bit more of my spirit was healed.
“Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 40)
I took a tour of a pioneer site in the centre of Calgary with my brother. Yes, this scene was found in Calgary – Heritage Park. In the background are the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I am continually amazed at the sheer size of the city in terms of area and how much of that area is covered in green spaces, protected spaces. I could easily imagine myself sitting still on the grass lost in meditation with my eyes wide open. The scene invites me to wonder, to being fully present.
My recent sessions have focused on “presence.” By presence, I mean presence in the world of others, presence in the moment, and presence with my own fullness of self. My dreams have echoed this need for presence. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me that I find a synchronous echo in my reading:
“When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness. In a monastery, monks and nuns take robes and shave their heads as part of the process of letting go. In the monastery of our own sitting meditation, each of us experiences whatever arises again and again as we let go, saying, “Ah, this too.” This simple phrase, “This too, this too,” was the main meditation instruction of one great woman yogi and master with whom I studied. Through these few words we were encouraged to soften and open to see whatever we encountered, accepting the truth with a wise and understanding heart.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 36)
I, like most people, put a lot of effort in preventing stuff from rising out of the depths, old emotions and feelings that got buried so that childhood was tolerable. A lot of effort was put into disguising, denying, forgetting, abandoning ourselves. The result left us, left me disconnected from myself and from most of the world. I have been blessed that photography has allowed me a portal in which I can “sit” for a moment and safely plumb some of those shadow relics. And in the process, I begin to grieve for what has been. Psychoanalysis provides me with another portal with which I can recover a fuller sense of self, drawing out what is hidden and buried. And now, taking my meditation seat, I open a bit more and allow the “rising of all things.”
“To take the one seat requires trust. We learn to trust that what needs to open within us will do so, in just the right fashion. In fact, our body, heart, and spirit know how to give birth, to open naturally, like the petals of a flower. We need not tear at the petals nor force the flower. We must simply stay planted and present.” (p. 36)
In looking through my photo archives for a picture that I intended to put on my wall here in Calgary, I came upon this image that I took while walking down the street in the city of ChangZhou which was my home for three and a half years. I was looking for a “river” photo for China that would keep company with my river photos of the Mekong as seen in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the first months of 2011. That I found this particular photo the day after discussing the I-Ching here seemed to be auspicious – or – synchronistic.
Almost as soon as I wrote these words, I have to say that I am not a Taoist, nor do I get much involved with any of the many faces of the parapsychological and the paranormal such as tarot, astrology, or whatever. I don’t understand them and I don’t pretend a very deep interest. In saying this, I don’t discount them either. I personally just use what works for me. If I had to give it some sort of a name, I would have to say that I follow “Robertism,” a spiritual path of one. Not a large congregation to be sure; but, it is the best one that I have found. All that I can say is that what I do have for my spiritual path is something that doesn’t change much. I don’t have the energy, time or inclination to continue “sampling” the various spiritual and psychological paths looking for something quicker or better.
Interestingly enough, Jack Kornfield, in his book, A Path With Heart, has this to say – another synchronicity that I found after taking a break from writing today’s blog post (sometimes it takes a full day to write a post – waiting for the words. In the case of this post, I have worked on it for two days.):
“If we do a little of one kind of practice and a little of another, the work we have done in one often doesn’t continue to build as we change to the next. It is as if we were to dig many shallow wells instead of one deep one. In continually moving from one approach to another, we are never forced to face our own boredom, impatience, and fears. We are never brought face to face with ourselves. So we need to choose a way of practice that is deep and ancient and connected with our hearts, and then make a commitment to follow it as long as it takes to transform ourselves.” (Kornfield, p. 34)
This was a powerful set of words for me to hear, words that kept me awake for too many hours while I sought to clarify exactly what was my practice of depth, if any. In the process of wrestling with these words and their resonances, I realised that I was deeply committed to Jungian psychology, Buddhist meditation, and a curious blend of Celtic, Christian and First Nations’ spiritualism. My ancestral roots are a blend of Celtic, Christian and First Nation bloodlines. Buddhism and Jungian psychology, together, serve as the mortar holding these diverse pieces together. My task is then to honour this curious, individual path as I know that it is only via this path that I will find the depth and meaning that defines what it is to be “Robert.”