A Beautiful Stew

“The Chefs of G~d

are cooking up a special stew

Just for you.”

~ Rumi

fire-drummers

Who are you? I mean really.

Sounds like a simple question, but have you ever actually asked? I’ve posted on the subject before, and maybe once I know the answer, I’ll be done with the exploration. But that might not happen till the day I die! Or maybe it’s just at that precise moment, after my life has flashed before my eyes, that I’ll finally know just who I really am. Ha.

Amazing how we much we take it for granted, how many of us go through life without even pausing to ask that basic question. In my Fierce Light workshops, I often use a simple Zen excercise I learned from one of my inspirators, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara of the Village Zendo. In this partner practice, one person asks the other, “Who are you?” and after listening to the answer, says, with a little bow, “Thank you.” For five minutes. Which is actually a very very long time.

When I first tried it, I felt as if this practice expanded me, from my smaller self, to my larger, larger and still larger Self. At first, the obvious answers emerged- I’m a man, a filmmaker, a son, an artist, a sufi buddhist baha’i punk rocker – all the usual descriptors….but eventually I ran out, and things began to go further afield. I discovered that I am You, I am a blade of grass, a speck of dust, a dentist in millwaukee (that one surprised me!), a murderer, a lover of Love, an ant, a whale, everything that is was and could be…all of the above, and none of the above.

So who am I? I am a gorgeous stew, of the Great Big Enormous Beyond Enormity All Everything Totality, spiced up with the particulars of my souls journey ~ all I have been, known, seen, everything I do, think, feel and love. Especially all that I Love.

My unique ingredients are not who I am though. Rather, I am the dance of my elements, of mind body spirit and shadow, impermanent, ever changing, but rooted somehow in an essential Beingness, that is Me.

Sometimes we think we know someone, or we think we love someone, but what we really know or love, is just one small aspect of their stew. Perhaps the part we lack, or the part we celebrate in ourselves. Sometimes what we love is not even in their stew at all – it’s part of us that we’re projecting onto another. Yikes, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Love is about truly Seeing. Whether we are talking about another person, or ourselves, we cannot love unless we see, honestly, clearly, with an open, forgiving heart. Because we are all stews, it’s okay that part of our unique concoction includes our broken bits. We all have broken bits! In fact, those crunchy, gristly shadowy parts of us, with the proper mixing and spicing – add a dash of compassion, half a cup of letting go, three tablespoons of forgiveness – can be some of the most nutritious parts of our stew. The minerals and vitamins.

But we need to see those bits, bring them into the light, embrace them, release them, and allow them to be part of us. Both/and. Sometimes we need to release the shadows, sometimes we just need to shine the light into the basements of our consciousness, and see what’s there. If we try to repress the shadow bits of us, or deny them, they lurk around in our unconscious, sediment at the bottom of the pot, not properly integrated, and they can throw the mixture off.

We are continually seasoning our stews, and as we become more conscious, we can decide just what the flavour is we’re going for. With consciousness, we can align ourselves with the great Chef some call G~d, and start bringing forth those seasonings that we intuit we are here, on this plane, this planet, right now, to discover.

What spice, what ingredient, what pinch of this, or dash of that, would bring you into harmony? Or put you into the perfect off-kilter place you need to be right now- in case you are a little too balanced? Perhaps, in fact, there is nothing you need, other than what you have in this moment. Phew, that would be quite a feat – to accept who we are, and work with what we have.

More than anything, the key to being a tasty stew is truly integrating your ingredients, letting them flow together, play off each other, bring out the best in you, the whole You. It might seem unlikely – how can that broken heart ever be part of my flavouring, surely it’s going to turn me sour – but really, the choice is yours. As Viktor Frankl said, in “Man’s Search for Meaning”, we can lose everything except for one thing – our freedom to choose how we respond, to whatever comes our way.

The Chefs of G~d are cooking up a special stew – named You. Our small, individual stews are each a part of the Great Stew that constitutes all of creation, in fact all that is manifest and unmanifest, seen and unseen. Each one of us is an essential ingredient. This world, this universe, would not be the same without you. Thank-you for the vitamins, the minerals, the spices, the salty sour sweetness you bring to the mix.

Maybe it’s time to turn up the burner, and bring those juices of creation and destruction, tragedy and comedy, eros and pathos, compassion and ecstasy, love and limitless possibility, to a boil! What do you have to lose?

fire

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Happy Annihilation Day

“Heart, you are lost.
But there’s a path
From lover to love.
Worlds blaze round.
Don’t shrink!
The path is hidden
But yours.”
-Rumi

fire

Well here it comes – Valentines day. A celebration of love! And a great opportunity to market flowers, chocolates and Hallmark cards. For those not in a relationship, it can be a bit of a downer – like christmas when you’re far from family. A new friend just commented that she calls it “singles awareness day.” Ha.

Ah love, that beat up misused misunderstood word. We just finished interviewing Coleman Barks, the great Rumi Translator, for Redvolution: Dare to Disturb the Universe. Rumi is well renouned for his tremendous love poems, but the love he talks about might be a little different than the kind of love those red hearts in the store windows are selling. Coleman told us that he once got a phone call from Hallmark, asking if he might consider doing a line of cards with some of his Rumi translations on them. He said, “well you realize that the kind of Love that Rumi writes about involves complete and utter obliteration.” There was a long pause, and then the Hallmark rep asked, “is there a holiday for that?”

Say what? Love = annihilation? WTF? Isn’t love warm and fuzzy and nurturing and sticky sweet? Not the kind of divine love that Rumi talks of. He wasn’t referring to romantic love, between humans. No, he was talking about the human daring to truly love G~d. Daring to truly be loved by G~d. This can certainly, and most beautifully, happen between humans – in fact, one of the highest forms of human love is when souls meet through the human form. Which can involve down and dirty sex. Spirituality and sexuality are ecstatically happy bedfellows. But it is not the kind of romance and intrigue, the ‘will you be mine’, the clinging, grasping romantic love that we’re taught is love, the kind that is really about the quest for ownership over another. No, the kind of love Rumi talks about involves complete freedom, non-attachment, and trust.

To be consumed, destroyed, burnt in the flames of divine love, to the place where your ego dissolves, and there is nothing left of you but G~d stuff, that’s Love. The search for this union with the divine is the path of the mystic. Every tradition has a mystic path, the path that involves daring to stare into the sun with your eyes wide open. It’s not for everyone, and there are many dangers on the way. But once one has had a taste of the possibility of the the mystic path, it’s hard to turn back. One is consumed by what the Sufi’s call a sense of divine longing, which calls you, and refuses to let you sleep – refuses to let you fall back into unconsciousness, lose touch with your divine heritage.

There are as many paths as there are humans on this planet, and we each need to find the one that is ours, and ours alone. As Rumi says, “the chefs of God are cooking up a special stew, just for you.” For me, that stew is ever changing, though at one time I used to call myself, in an attempt at simplicity, a “sufi buddhist baha’i punk rocker.” There is still a lot of truth to this description – the Sufi in me is the passionate, fiery side, the Buddhist is the patient, peaceful, centered part of me, the Baha’i offers me a global perspective and a sense of law, and the punk rocker is the rebel, always seeking the fresh truth, the present truth, the truth beyond all limitations and dogma. I am all of those, and none of those.

Here is a mystic poem I have written, in honour of the search for annihilation in the fire of God, here spoken of as the divine feminine, the great Goddess, so needed as a counter balance to the worship of God as a patriarch. It is about the search for true divine Love.

~ ~ ~

 

All my life
I searched for the diamond heart
Ruby Red
Emerald Green
Alchemy’s leaden Gold

The hidden truth
At the center of lifes labryinth

At each turn of the bend
A fire awoke
Ablaze
Alive

Yet around the bend
Always
A sudden downpour would appear

To douse my desire
Until there was nothing left
But smouldering coals
Blackened
Charred
Back in the cave

Yesterday
Or was it tommorrow?
In this dark dark cave
I found that spark
A single flash
A glint
A twinkle
A droplet of light
And fanned the flames
With my dogged Love
My unextinguishable love

I let the wind of my desire
For Her
That Red and gold divinity
That perfection
Completion
I can taste
On the tip of my tongue
On the very tip of my tongue
Just there
Always there
The aftertaste of truth
Still there

Love!
I shout
I cry
I weep
I pound the pavement

Love!
I kneel before you
Ripped open
Broken wide and bloodied
Dripping red
And roaring loud
Then soft
Softer
Just so….

And you who witnesses
My agony
My ecstasy
You know
You truly know
That this is no charade

That Love is here
Not gone
Truly here
Not gone

And I
Am one
Not two
Not two
Just One

And all I ask for
Is nothing
Just everything
Inside that nothing
Always
And not now
Now
And not then

All ways
From inside
To out

I shriek like the wind in february trees
And loom like the moon
On a hot august night
With persistence
Dogged presistence
My stalwart friend

Waiting for the day
Not wanting
Not wanting anything more than this
Even if this
Is the waiting

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting for God’s deepest embrace
Consuming embrace
To rip my illusions to shreds
Until all that’s left of me is Love

Waiting

To be destroyed by Her raging love
Her flaming benediction
Annihilated by Her grace

I kneel before You
I stand before You
I cartwheel before you
Laughing
Wailing
Beseeching You
To bless me with a deadly kiss

I ignore you
Turn from You
Walk away
The haggler in the market
Suddenly tired of trying
Suddenly finished
Done.
Enough.

Ha!
I’ll never be finished
I’m still baking
I am half baked

I will not be finished
With this Love
With this life
Until my very last breath

And even then….
Well I just may be back
To continue the Work

But let me tell you this one thing, this one thing:
If you want to talk numbers
Percentages
I am 100 percent divine
Not one iota less
I cannot be otherwise
Even at my most imperfect
Try as I might
I am Him
Even when I’m too foolish to know it

He is me.
And He is here
Kneeling
In front of this perfection of wisdom
This Goddess
Of Fire

Burn me to the ground
Destroy me
Consume me
Devour me
Until there is nothing left of me
But You
Until there is nothing left of me
But Me