Monday, February 28, 2011

First there is a mountain...

The Zensters have a saying (they always seem to have the best ones), "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is". Arlo Guthrie sang a song about that a zillion years ago. I had no idea what it meant at the time (I was probably 18 or 19) and thought it was sorta silly. It was explained to me recently and I have been (and am) experiencing it.

Near as I can figure it means that first there is the experience that we are all separate beings, that the tree is a tree and the house is a house and that other person is another person. All of these things are separate from who we are. The mountain is a separate thing, a pile of rocks that has nothing really to do with me. "First there is a mountain." Even God or whatever word you want to use to describe the divine is a separate entity from us.

At some point, not through any effort on our part other than simply observing what is true, maybe not from a logical standpoint, but from an experience that occurs without mind, we may come to know that there is no separation, that there is only one thing and that we are no more separate from it than a drop of ocean water blowing off the top of a wave is separate from the ocean. Suddenly we discover that "There is no mountain" or at least that there is no mountain that is something separate from me. The mountain is me, the bum on the street corner is me, the bird at the feeder is me or really that I am none of these things, but all of these things including me are just waves and patterns of energy that are part of the whole. If that makes sense, then you're probably using your mind too much. Yeah, we can hold it as a concept or a belief, but that's different from the lived experience of it. It feels pretty amazing maybe and is the experience of 'no self'. It's heart breaking, all inclusive, freeing.

Over the many years of my spiritual seeking there has been an occasional glimpse of this, fleeting moments where I felt all at once this huge expansion and freedom. Then it would pretty immediately dissipate and might not return for months or a year and then another fleeting experience and then it would be gone again, leaving me more than a little bereft. For me and apparently for many, it's an experience that we want to hang on to. It feels good, we want more of it, we want to live in it, maybe there is an attempt to tighten our grip around it and like tightening our grip on a handful of water it is often gone as soon as we try to grasp it.

After much time alone in the wilderness over the many years of my life and strengthened by the experience of aloneness on this recent trip I seemed to be living consistently in the place of 'no mountain', no separation from anything, or to put it in a more positive frame, 'oneness'. It sounds all gooshy and ethereal but it wasn't. It's just like living in a different landscape. It feels right and proper and without any kind of judgment of 'better'. It just is.

I felt protective of it. Not so much grasping, but just enjoying and wanting to stay there. When I went to Sedona, the separation came back in. I felt it, watched it, invited it to some degree. "I'm just an egg" as Michael says in Heinlins, Stranger in a Strange Land. I don't grok all this in fullness. It's new territory for me.

Clearly it's time, as I've said in previous posts, to re-engage with the world. There is a mountain again. It is a separate entity from 'me'. And now I'm curious, not struggling (most of the time) to interact with the mountain and with other people, to hear the sirens and the airplanes and wander around in town and interface with humans while having the experience (again, not through effort, but through consistent observation from a place that doesn't use the mind) that there is no separation. It comes as it comes, it leaves when it leaves. Like the weather patterns.

More to become here. Until I grok in fullness.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

We obviously all know that our beliefs shape our reality

Bear with me while I figure out how life on the dirtball works please.

My kinda long standing attitude toward the dx has been, "Ok, if I'm going to die, I'm going to die. I'll do the best I can on the self care, but the rest is out of my hands."
Somewhere along the way that has shifted to, "If there's a SINGLE thing I can do to stop this within my abilities, both energetically and financially, I'm going to do it."

It's all been a lovely lesson in surrender and acceptance and still that underlies my actions and attitude, but if it's within my abilities, it's time to shift this.

There have been thousands of books written about belief and physical reality from relatively silly things like 'wishcraft' to Louise Hay to more science based works like Bruce Lipton's The Biology of Belief or Candace Pert's The Molecules of Emotion. It's also clear to me that if we can stop and listen long enough to ferret out what appears to be the universe's subtle instructions for us, that the important events just click into place. Yeah, I might still have an experience that looks like 'bad' stuff but if I listen hard enough, I can find value (some might think of it as the 'hidden meaning') in all of these events.

Duh, so if we know this and have read enough to convince ourselves that it is true, what is it that causes us to fall into despair or some other form of negativity that begets self destructive attitudes and behaviors when life throws us a curve ball or even a series of experiences that we deem 'bad'? Could it be ONLY a combination of precognitive programming buttressed by societal attitudes?

Here's an example from my life. I'm simplifying this to make a point. In actuality, the experience has been much richer of course.

I get the dx and my initial attitude is 'Well, that figures. Here I've been a good person all my life, raised a child to the best of my abilities, shown up for my friends in need (and all the rest of that sort of story) and the universe deals me a blow that is not only FATAL, but also painful and debilitating in every regard, strips me of my assets (and all the rest of that story). There's an 'F*** You, God' in that response. I'm sure you can feel it. Then most of the rest of the feedback my little ego gets from friends and family supports this attitude (no blame or judgment in that, it's what we know and how we're taught).

K, it's true that my family of origin belief system was basically that the universe is out to trample you into the ground and only through super human effort can you keep from getting squished. Obviously, that's my programming. There are other aspects to my core story like, 'no matter what you do, you can't possibly be good enough', but let's just stick with The Universe Hates Your Guts to keep it simple. So given that programming, how else could one possibly respond to the dx except with either super human effort (did that) and then a big fat defeatist attitude when it doesn't seem to be working? UNLESS I'm able to see that programming for what it is.

Why do ANY of us EVER carry around this old patterning that happened before we old enough to discern what we wanted to carry and what we didn't?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just back from doc

So in about 3 weeks or so the big left side (driver's side to all you car peeps) has about tripled in size. It wants action, my full attention. No fear in this now, seldom is because I recognize fear as some kinda future tripping activity. In this moment it's all fine. I don't feel any different. Still have the same symptoms to the same degree. Low energy, dizzyness, sometimes some nausea. I got some blood drawn but those tests have never turned up anything interesting. I seem to be completely healthy in every other way.
Doc says prognosis is that either it could turn into an open wound and stay that way or obviously metastasize further to brain, lungs, liver, whatever. He had some suggestions about chasing after some IV alternative therapies (about 4k/month with nothing like a guarantee) or maybe find some radiation oncologist who'd be willing to just bombard that one spot and slow it down and make it smaller.
The cancer LOVES that kind of talk. Ooooh, let's all get into the death thing. After leaving the docs office and before the blood draw I sat in the car and shifted the energy in a dozen or so breaths.

More On this new landscape I'm inhabiting

IThere isn't some fatalism going on. The experience that I'm having is much richer than I can convey in a blog post or two. It's clear that the cancer has done what it needed to do, stopped me in my tracks and caused me to explore deeply the nature of existence. Now that we no longer need this life threatening experience, i can muster all of the resources to shut it down and I am and will continue to and I feel certain that I can. I can feel this body healthy and very strong and there is much more soul work to do here. The way is clear.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's obvious that we've reached a critical moment

The Main tumor is big enough that it's going to have to either stop growing or start getting smaller if I'm going to last another year or more. Thats just the way it is. Little bit of pain now but sooner or later it's going to impact some critical function, whether swallowing or blood flow or spine or nervous system. Time for a change here. I feel a seismic shift in how I hold it emotionally. Will that be enough? We will find out.I'm working it as best I can with all that I am and have become.

Just sharing the process here

It's never the experience that's the problem, it's only what you're telling yourself about the experience that can be a problem (Adyashanti). OK, the experience might be pain or weakness or nausea which can be unpleasant, but for me if I just try it on being fully present it's more interesting than it is 'bad'. When I start worrying about what the future might entail or start wishing the experience was other than it is, then it becomes a problem.

I'm an Aries, ok, ruled by Mars. There's a warrior element to my personality. Everything is a battle. There's the feeling that I MUST win, MUST achieve and that i can accomplish that through focused and intense effort. Accepting the way that I am wired rather than trying to fight against it allows it to settle in and then it's not a problem just like some aspect of my body , the way my nose looks, hair loss, isn't a problem when I accept it and just allow it to be the way it is.

With limited time on the dirtball (true for all of us) and given my warrior wiring there's an efforting that arises and an intense desire (based on fear of running out of time) to 'get it' whatever it is, in this case, some level of consciousness perhaps. The little ego thing is so sneaky that it could even turn non efforting into another technique or strategy. Shoot must be time to surrender surrendering. :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

OK, yeah, I'm concerned that what I write here might seem stupid

But on we go with it.

Can I have the detachment without the cancer? In other words if the cancer went away would I still be able to maintain my awareness that this existence is only a small fraction of what I am? Could I still not take it too damned seriously? How would I keep the knowing that this life isn't the whole enchilada without consistently embracing my own mortality?

Can I do this life without the symptoms? How attached am I to the cancer and my identification as 'the guy with the terminal diagnosis?'

My god, what a process this has been. All of the loss and grief and finally acceptance. I am currently mostly free from identification with life on earth. Being alone for so long aided that and I'm attached to that now! Attached to being free from that. Now I've sorta rejoined life am in a relationship, visiting with friends and strangers both (ok, minimally) but still it feels like I have reengaged. No I'm not interested in tracking the latest sports events or the unrest in Egypt or learning much of anything. I can't watch tv or hardly any movies. That feels like watching people pretend to be real in a world that has very little reality to it in the first place. Like watching actors on a stage who are watching a play and trying to take any of it seriously. I just can't suspend belief to that extent.

Most of my time is spent either in meditation or in inquiry. I'm either sorta connecting to that part of me that existed before I was born and continues on after I die or in watching the body and mind that I'm inhabiting go through the routines of doing things, interacting with people and having feelings about it all.

On Freeing Oneself from Ego

You don't ever get rid of the ego and its identification with life on the dirtball, you just don't give it a whole lot of credence, your relationship to it changes. You allow it to do whatever it is doing because it too is a part of the experience. If there's fear, great, allpw the fear to be, if there is sadness, have the sadness. Resistance in this too is pointless and only causes suffering.

On to the Good Stuff...Finally

Or What I Learned On Winter Vacation

The most consciously loving thing I can ever do for someone (and only when asked) is to hold up the mirror whether reflecting amazing sweetness or something challenging even if it costs me the friendship or the relationship. Being willing to take that risk. Maybe that's obvious.

More Turtle Mtn Pix

Ok, one more update. Call it Needles to Chico

Then we can get into the good stuff.

P and I headed back to Turtle Mountain Wilderness Area. She had planned to stay for 11 days and ended up extending it another 8 or so. We had a great 3 weeks at Turtle Mtn, I took her to Vegas for the flight back to Chico.

I had planned to stay for another 2 months near Joshua Tree and pick her up at LAX on April 2, but after a week or so I developed some symptoms that concerned me and P and I had begun conversations about relationship so I headed for Chico to see my doc and continue the conversations with P in person. I arrived in Chico on Feb 7 and will be seeing my doc on the 24th, this Thursday. I'd like to get some blood tests, and talk about the rapid tumor growth. Basically check in and see if there's anything new going on and what I might be able to do about it.

Needless to say there has been lots of discussion between myself and P about relationship, my prognosis, concerns for the future and all of the usual angsty and sweet and loving issues about life on the dirtball.