Saturday, April 20, 2013

Seeing the World in a Coffee Cup

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. ~ William Blake

Being inspired by Blake's famous words is one thing. Seeing with the eyes of a mystic is another realm of experience all together. Most of us view the world as a collection of separate objects, individuals and events. At best we see the dots and lines connecting them.  But this intellectual exercise is not the same as engaging the network of existence as a shimmering web of energy and intelligence, one that speaks through each grain of sand and wild flower, through each doorway and face. It is getting beyond the isolating belief that you are a contained bag of bones with a limited lifespan and, instead, dwelling within this living web as an integral participant in a loving and wondrous unfolding mystery.

If living with vitally and connection interests you, the question then is how? Usually, the ways that come to mind are the altered states induced by hallucinogens, years of meditation or the luck of being born with magical sight. The cosmic experience Blake suggests is not an hallucination, a retreat from the world, or the luck of the mental draw. We are inspired by Blake's poem because we sense that mystical experience as our primal state of being. It's what we are in our bones, but have forgotten how to access.

So, how do you see consciousness shimmering in things, from coffee cups to the global biosphere? How do you break through the foggy lens that separates you from the world and cleanse the doors of perception so everything appears as it is, infinite. There are many ways to do this, but the following guided journey is a way that has come to me through many years of seeing. 

Place a coffee cup on a table... Notice its shape... Look at the play of light and shadow defining the cup's shape... See the light playing on the cup... If it's sunlight, sense the rays traveling millions of miles from the exploding surface of the sun and bathing this object... If electric light or candlelight is illuminating the cup, sense the energy glimmering through these rays... In the cup's curves, color and choice of material, see the consciousness of the person who designed it... Sense the life of the cup's designer, her hopes and fears, her achievements and disappointments... Imagine the DNA guiding the growth of the cells in her body... Trace the lines of her DNA back through her mother and father and through them to her ancestors... Imagine the web of living that supports the cup's designer, the plants producing the air she breathes and the food she eats, the culture that connects her to language, knowledge, art and friendship... Notice the awareness extending from your eyes to perceive the cup... Sense the energy and intelligence in these rays of awareness... In the light on the cup and the shape of its design, sense the rays of energy and intelligence that give the cup its substance... Look through outer appearances to see that the same energy and intelligence are flowing through your perception and giving the cup its identity... Notice the silent space within the cup... Behind all of your perceptions, notice the silence that is aware of your thoughts, words, actions and surroundings... Sense the similarity between the silent space within the cup and the silent awareness perceiving the scene... Open to the aliveness of this moment... Notice if you are closer to "seeing the world" in the cup. 

Run through this visioning process with other objects and when you are in other places. Try it while you are in the checkout line at the market. Your shopping experience will never be the same. I'd love to hear what you discover.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dwelling in the Sacred

To dwell in the sacred is to live with shimmering presence in the physical world. It is to experience your home and community as living, breathing extensions of your mind, body and nature. It is to engage visible forms and colors, objects and places as allies revealing the unseen forces energizing and guiding you. In the middle of the crushing craziness of daily life, it is finding spaciousness and peace wherever you are. Dwelling in the sacred is your natural way of inhabiting the earth. But it gets lost in the fears and limited patterns of thinking promoted by our materialistic culture.

To reclaim sacred ways of dwelling involves expanding beyond the conventional mindset that views the world as isolated, lifeless objects. It is to see with fresh eyes and shape your surroundings in ways the promote renewal and awakening. Sacred seeing opens you to experiencing walls and windows, chairs and cabinets as the alchemy between human imagination and the earth. Through such awakened eyes, inhabiting your home and city becomes an active meditation for touching profound vitality and connection through physical places. Sacred making offers you ways to create homes and workplaces that nourish wholeness in your mind, body and family. It is a means of entering a dialogue with nature and finding healthy, sustainable ways of establishing your place in the world.

The foundation of sacred seeing and making is creative play that discovers how the earth truly longs for you to inhabit it. In turn, it is finding out how you can live on earth in ways you have always wanted to. Through the creative play of sacred seeing and making your sense of home can expand beyond the walls of your house or apartment and include the entire world.

You can learn how to dwell in the sacred at a workshop I am leading May 17-19 at the Shambhala Mountain Center. This retreat invites you to experience your home, workplace, and community as sacred places that can serve as allies on your life journey. Exercises held in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya will allow you to feel the archetypal elements of holy sites and to learn ways of finding peace, healing, and inspiration within the buildings you inhabit each day. Through a variety of practices we will sense the connections between the buildings sheltering you and your patterns of thought, speech, and action. You will learn ways of arranging furnishings, selecting colors, and choosing materials to increase inner and outer harmony, health, and happiness, and to engage your living spaces as vessels for spiritual awakening. To find out more and register click here. I hope you will join us for a fun, inspiring and transforming weekend.

After taking a similar course I taught in New York, a real estate agent there sent me this email: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of you and the new awareness you brought me as I walk through my city. It really added to my fascination with the architecture of NYC in that now I really look at all of the little details and feel the energy behind their creation—the joy and beauty. It brings me into the present moment and I feel a connection with timeless existence and my place in it. Quite a gift! Many thanks.”