Some Thoughts on Coming Home

The other day while meditating I had a glimpse of enlightenment. And what I experienced was love. Divine love. The kind of love that burns through you and leaves you humbled.

There’s a lot of talk in the spiritual community about the nature of enlightenment, and how to attain it.  We’ve all heard tales of yogis in India living in caves in a permanent state of bliss. PersonalIy, I think that enlightenment is received in momentary glimpses, and once you experience it, you will recognize it, you will not doubt it, and you will never be the same.

But how to attain it? The other day at the beach I started thinking about eternity, divinity, and oddly perhaps, seashells. The nautilus shell came to mind.  It begins life as a soft mollusk, possessing everything it needs to build itself a small, absolutely perfect chamber to live in.  You could say that in its original state, it is infused with, or maybe even is nothing but divine love. When it outgrows this chamber, it simply puts up a dividing wall and builds a larger, more suitable one, continuing to do so, unaware that it is bringing the entirety of its spirit along for the ride. Its divinity stays intact.

Maybe we, like the nautilus, carry our divinity within us. We don’t need to go to a cave in India in search of enlightenment; we just need to find a way to open to what we are made of. We need to find our way home.

“…the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
-T.S. Eliot

As always, your thoughts are invited.

THREE GIFTS FROM IRENE, OR WHY I (SORT OF) AGREE WITH GLENN BECK

I’ve never been an admirer of Glenn Beck.  In fact I’ve never agreed with one word or thought that has emerged from his paranoid, oddly-emotional and sorely misguided head.  He’s been more of a laughing stock for me than a real person with anything remotely valuable to add to the conversation.  But I have to admit that he did, accidentally, start me thinking the other day in an unexpected way when he pronounced that Hurricane Irene is a blessing.  Allow me to explain.

Yesterday I was still on vacation with my family in Nantucket.  While waiting for the ferry to carry us back to the mainland (two days early due to the storm), I decided to glance at the news online. This headline caught my eye: “Glenn Beck calls Hurricane Irene a blessing.”

Normally I would have seen Glenndo’s name and scrolled right by, since I pay no attention to his wacky ideas which are always abhorrent as well, but since Irene was the flavor of the day, I read the clip.  Afterwards I shook my head in disgust and muttered the usual to myself: “What an idiot.”  Then I decided the story was amusing and served it up to my family with an extra helping of disdain in my voice, just in case they didn’t already know my feelings about the man (fat chance.)  We enjoyed a good chuckle over him together.  Here’s the edited clip:

Glenn Beck, ex-Fox News host: Hurricane Irene is a ‘blessing’ from God

BY ALIYAH SHAHID
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Saturday, August 27th 2011, 11:46 AM

Glenn Beck called Hurricane Irene a 'blessing' on Friday.

Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Glenn Beck called Hurricane Irene a ‘blessing’ on Friday.

The conservative radio host is calling Hurricane Irene and this week’s East Coast earthquake a “blessing” from God.

Beck argued on his show that the events would teach people to be prepared for natural disasters. He told his audience that for years he has been urging Americans to stockpile supplies for the inevitable “global disruption in food.”

He continued, “People have made fun of me. That’s fine, I don’t care. I’ve been telling you, ‘Don’t be in a panic situation.’ If you’ve waited, this hurricane is a blessing. It is a blessing. It is God reminding you – as was the earthquake last week – it’s God reminding you you’re not in control. Things can happen. Be prepared and be someone who can help others so when disaster strikes, God forbid, you’re not panicking.”

 Now of course I disagree with his ridiculous incitement to stockpile against a fictitious food shortage and/or Apocalypse, but the idea that Irene could be a blessing lodged in my brain as securely as a wooden peg in a lobster’s claw, and stayed there.  Back home today, while making the rounds to stock up on a few items, I felt tempted to join the nervous frenzy surrounding me. (A woman pushing a shopping cart into the grocery store shouted at a young man in front of her to get out of the way, then rammed into him with her cart screaming, “Move! A hurricane’s coming!” No apology was offered.)  As I roamed the packed parking lots and noticed everyone carrying jugs of water, I noticed my heartbeat start to quicken and my mind start to race to tomorrow and the storm ahead.  I was starting to enter emergency mode.

But then I remembered some of the central teachings of yoga, which I am trying to incorporate into my life.  These are the following three ideas.  Irene has helped me to remember them.

1. We are not in control.  Sure we can take measures to prepare, to keep safe and fed, but we cannot control nature. We cannot control the future.  Feeling like we can is folly. We can control only ourselves and only in this very moment, this very instant.

2. We need to stay in the present moment.  Are we safe right now?  Are we free of hunger right now?  That’s all that matters. A famous philosopher once said, ” the future is made up of the moment that just passed.”

3. While chaos swirls all around us, we need to be the calm in the center of the storm. In yoga, this translates as the ability to hold an uncomfortable pose and breathe calmly through it even though every bone and muscle inside you is screaming “abandon ship!” This is why we practice difficult poses: to know that we can survive and stay calm inside when all hell is breaking loose outside.

So I am grateful for Irene and see her as a blessing. She has provided me another chance to test my inner strength and beliefs against the chaos swirling around me.

I never thought it would be possible, but now Glenndo and I actually agree on something. Sort of.