Moving

Half an hour ago I was walking along Bloor Street in Toronto, reflecting on my current spiritual life.  And the word “current” seems right on, since things are moving inside me … in mysterious ways.

On my right was a storefront full of windows.  Inside was a series of chalkboards.  The middle message hit home:

Truly, God alone has knowledge of the Hour
He sends down the rain, and He knows what is in the wombs
No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow
And no soul knows in what land it will die

As a Buddhist, my spirituality has focused on the depth of the moment.  What do I see in this precious present?  How has time stood still in communion with Spirit?  What epiphany of love do I see in your eyes?  All is still.  All is beauty.  All is the lingering now.

There is sublime being here.  But things are also rolling … in the becoming of it all.  Where will I die, dear chalkboard?  What realm of Bruceness will I inhabit when the breath fades away?  I feel a train flowing over the landscape.  I’ve bought a ticket to … somewhere.  I forgot to ask Via Rail about the destination.

In a universe next to timelessness, nothing stands still.  Love unfolds like a red, red rose.  The future curls her fingers and beckons us forward.  Happy are we in the going.

What will we earn tomorrow?  Maybe that day will bring us gifts that we don’t deserve, and can’t imagine.  Grace may bestow them upon us.  May we welcome the blessings that are to come.

We roll on.

Hurtling Through Space

Many a time, I’ve written about something that I was feeling recently but no longer.  If the experience was real in my soul, the words reached others.  It’s even more special, however, when what I’m telling you about is still with me … such as right now.

I’m in a global community that’s exploring consciousness, especially what’s possible when two or more of us look into each other’s eyes.  Can we experience great freedom?  Can we awaken together?  The answer that returns is “yes”.

Last evening there was a live internet session with about ten of us.  I looked inside as the call started.  I was “space-y”, disoriented, “loose” – but not in a negative way.  The cognitive me seemed to have taken a back seat.  And the question was large: “Where am I?”  What realm of being has come calling?

Part of our time together is the opportunity to practice with another person as we look at each other through our computer screens.  As I sat with a fine fellow, images flooded me and I shared them.  For a bit, I was floating in space, untethered from my spaceship.  Suddenly I was beside the rings of Saturn.  I spun them like a frisbee.  Then I was hungry, and the moon beckoned.  We all know that it’s made of green cheese and I took a huge bite.  Next I grabbed the moon, and having conveniently gotten rid of the planet Saturn, I threw the moon through the rings.  Bulls eye!

Fear came by.  “Shut it down, Bruce.  He’ll think you’re weird.”  As soon as I uttered these thoughts, they floated away and I was back in deep space.  I gasped as the meteor that was Bruce blasted into the darkness.  Fire trailed my splayed arms and legs.  I was hurtling through space!  And I still am.

I’m experiencing being launched somewhere, at supersonic speed.  I don’t know what the “somewhere” is, and I don’t care.  There’s no sense of danger.  Just astonishing velocity.  I’m vibrating with it.

I’ve had many meditation experiences where everything stops.  The stillness and peace abide.  Right now that peace is also here – a great calm – but I’m being thrown into some future.  There’s a vacuum sucking me forward.  There’s a magnet pulling me in.  I’m on a bullet train to the next moment.

Here’s the fear again.  “Don’t publish this.  Leave it as a draft … forever.”

Sorry, worried voice.  I’m about to click “Publish”.  It won’t be a record of the past.  It’s still an awe of the present.  I’m Superman – “faster than a speeding bullet”.

Letting Go

I stood in my bicycle shop today, ready to take ta-pocketa home.  My road bike has served me well for twenty years, but there have been issues.  First the practical stuff:  My bike is too big for me.  I wasn’t fitted correctly in 1997.  And then there’s the skinny road tires.  Ever since the tendon transfer surgery in 2003, my balance has been off and the tires allow precious little room for error.  Second the emotional stuff:  My few days in the Tour du Canada zapped me.  I didn’t have the bike skills for downtown Vancouver and the semitrailers whizzing by on the highway terrified me.

Ta-pocketa has been part of me for so long.  But so had the home I shared with Jody in Union, Ontario.  A year after she died, I knew that I had to leave.  It was too heartrending to sit in the family room and imagine her cooking in the kitchen.  The chapter was over, and so I moved to Belmont.  I stared at ta-pocketa this afternoon and realized that this chapter was done too.  I need to be more stable on the bicycle.  I need to diminish my fear on the bicycle.  I need Betty.

Betty is the hybrid bike I bought a few months ago, fully capable of carrying me over the gravel roads near Belmont, plus the many paved ones.  I’ve never ridden her.

“Goodbye, ta-pocketa.  Thank you for the journey.”  I told Sygnan to sell my dear friend – $1000 firm.  I placed my hand on her top tube and remembered the good times.  But those times aren’t now.  I’m older and not as able as I once was.

The future is pulling me.  I sense that it will include cycling, but a slower version, on country roads.  No hurry to get anywhere.  Just enjoying the rhythm of Betty and me.

We must let go of the life we have planned
So as to accept the one that is waiting for us
(Joseph Campbell)

Narrowed and Wide

I was riding the train in Toronto today – the UP Express. I love the train, with its big windows giving me a chance to look out at the world. I see into people’s backyards and wonder what lives are being led on the other side of their windows. I watch a long string of cars waiting at a red light for their left turn … and feel sad for the folks inside. Life passes me by.

Today was different. I grabbed the last remaining window seat but there was a partition right in front of me. All I had to see out from was a sliver of vertical glass. My eyes tensed up as images came by too fast. I couldn’t linger on anything, and lingering is truly one of life’s pleasures.

And I thought of other things:

What would it be like to have no peripheral vision, just a small circle in the middle for focusing on things?

What would it be like to have a moderate hearing loss, where you can only catch a few words from each sentence?

What would it be like to have the beginning of Alzheimer’s, and you just can’t remember the names of those near and dear?

What would it be like to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and be racked with terror in the middle of the night?

What would not be touched by a narrowed life? What essence of me would still be there? And could I find it?

In August, 2018, my life is expansive. In August, 2019, it may not be. It’s time to feel into what will always be there.

Finding Your Feet

What a glorious movie!  I saw it tonight at the Hyland Cinema in London.  Take an upper crust 60-something wife (Sandra) who has been dumped by her husband for a younger woman, put her into the ramshackle apartment of her free-spirited sister (Bif), and watch life evolve.

Mrs. Socialite was such a privileged bitch for much of the movie, tearing down the people around her as she was overwhelmed by pain.  Sis got her out to a dance club where she first of all refused to join in but memories of her childhood dancing, aided by a video of her as a kid (supplied by Bif), slowly led Sandra to move her feet again.

We learn of Charlie, a friend of Bif, who is accompanying his wife on the last stages of her Alzheimer’s disease.  It was so heartbreaking to see him reaching out to her while she slapped him away, not recognizing her husband.

Gradually Sandra lets herself have fun again, especially in the dancing, and she and Charlie do a lot of smiling together.  But she’s afraid of being hurt again and stands back from him some.

As Bif is dying from stage four lung cancer (the very disease that took my dear wife Jody), she thinks of her true love who was killed in a car accident.  She chose never to give herself to love again, and pleads with Sandra not to make the same mistake.

Many, many slices of life flowed across the screen.  It was all very real.  I often saw my life.  I bet others in the audience did too.

Sandra eventually chose to make a leap of faith.  As the credits rolled, the song “I’m Running To The Future” blasted our souls and we the audience applauded in recognition.

And now I look at me.  It does feel that I’m running to whatever’s next.  What will the bike ride across Canada bring to me?  Where will my Mutual Awakening practice with folks from around the world have me land?  And who will I be in the years to come?

I welcome the unfolding

What Now?

I’m in Colorado for the next four days … sort of.  I’ll be attending (sort of) a conference on the future of the world.  Actually, I’ve subscribed to the webcast of all the presentations in the main ballroom.  Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world will be addressing topics such as:

Spirituality
Tribalism versus globalism
The disparity in wealth
Fake news and hate propaganda
The misuse of sexuality
Racial abuse
Environmental degradation and the denial of climate change
Immigration and protection

How do we deal with massive change?  How can we create an inclusive world in which we accept our differences and see them as an opportunity to build something new?  “What’s next for human evolution?”

The older I’ve become, the more I’ve been living in “I don’t know.”  Sure, I’m smart enough to think through complex issues but multiple mysteries of life continue to present themselves.  Perhaps the rational mind is only a part of the puzzle solving.  Can I open to insights that seem to come from elsewhere?

Starting tonight on my laptop, I intend to fall into “beginner’s mind”.  With the glass close to empty, what will Spirit fill it with?  What connections will emerge over the next four days?  What moments of serendipity will say hi?  To what extent could I have been a presenter at the “What Now?” conference?  I do know that I have a part to play.

Tomorrow through Monday, I’ll give you my take on what I’m hearing.  Perhaps windows will open for all of us.

If you’d like to join in, go to integrallife.com.  On the dropdown menu, choose “Live”.  Scroll down to “Upcoming Broadcasts” and pick “What Now?”.  Scroll some more until you see words in orange: “Click here to purchase the webcast.”  It costs $125.00 US.  If you become an Integral Life member, it’s $100.00.  You need Google Chrome or fancy browsers that I don’t recognize.  Internet Explorer won’t work.  The first session starts at 7:00 pm tonight.

See you there?

Cuba Bound

On Friday morning at 6:15 am, I lift off.  Well, the plane does, but I’m going along for the ride.  There’s so much I’m looking forward to:

1.  Watching the clouds in their infinite display, plus the land of the Earth way down below

2.  Being on the bus from the airport in Santa Clara as we pass through towns and countryside, plus the 48 kilometre causeway leading to Cayo Santa Maria

3.  Leaning over my balcony at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort, saying “Ola” to the folks walking on the path below

4.  Reading Ken Wilber and Michael Murphy from the comfort of my lounger on the white sand beach

5.  Dancing down the shoreline at regular intervals

6.  Spending mornings being good to myself: meditation, strength training, cardio and yoga

7.  Spending late evenings at the disco, dancing by myself in an allegedly wild and crazy way

8.  Grooving to the shows at the theatre, especially Grease and the Michael Jackson tribute

9.  Talking to folks from around the world about life and love

10.  Hopefully finding Dorelys, the maid whom I enjoyed talking to last time

11.  Laughing with my servers, and with the woman who serves up delicious smoothies

12.  Going on my one and only excursion – an all day catamaran journey

13.  And most of all … being in a symphony of moments

***

Here comes the unknown, unbidden and unusual

New

Well here I am on Zoosk, a dating website.  I’ve sent messages to several women who appealed to me.  So far, no one has expressed interest.  Oh well.  I’m sensing that whether it’s from Zoosk or some other source (such as Cuba in April!) a new love will be entering my life.  Someone unknown to me today will be by my side within the next year.

New.  What a concept.  A letting go of the past to some extent.  My love for Jody and for my friends will always be there but there’ll be some type of breakthrough.

1.  A new human being.  Maybe shy or maybe assertive.  Maybe athletic or not so much.  Older than me?  Younger than me?  Likes to travel or a homebody?  A great cook or “Let’s eat out”?  Action movies or romantic ones?  A cyclist like me or a swimmer not like me?  Oh, what mystery.

2.  Your home or mine?  I’ve lived on Bostwick Road in Union, Ontario for 21 years.  It’s a big place.  Lots of upkeep required and I’ve never been good at home maintenance.  Maybe it’s time to let go of all that.  Perhaps my future love lives in a downtown condo.  Neighbours on the other side of the wall.  Someone else cutting the grass.  Take off to the Caribbean without a worry in the world.

3.  Your city or my village?  I could find myself living in Toronto, the city where I grew up.  Or near the forks of the Thames River in London, Ontario.  Walk to cool places to dine.  A city park just a stroll away.

4.  Europe?  I’ve never been.  All those ancient buildings.  Sitting in a sidewalk café on a cobblestone square.  Trying out my high school French.  Why not?

5.  Family  The only close family members Jody and I have had are her brother Lance and his family in Alberta.  I especially love my nephews out there.  But in Ontario we were alone.  What if I discover a prospective partner who has children and grandkids?  I would love that.  To perhaps be a grandpa-type figure!  I miss all the fine school conversations I had over the years with young people from Grades 1 to 12.

***

I’m open to whatever beckons me

Pathless

Buddhism asserts that the spiritual journey is unique to each individual.  Therefore, of course, it cannot be held, circumscribed, limited, or even ultimately judged by any institution, tradition or external authority.  The unique journey that lies before us does not exist in any text, external person, or religion.  In fact, it does not exist at all, but only lies ahead of us, to be discovered literally as we go.  Thus it is that the spiritual journey cannot in any way be preconceived or predetermined; it is not humanly constructed or fabricated.  The journey to ourselves is truly a journey into the unknown, a setting forth onto a sea that has never before been sailed and never before been fathomed or mapped.

Reginald Ray

So what is spiritual life?  You don’t get to say for me, and I guess I don’t even get to say for me.  It’s unfolding as we speak.  But this doesn’t mean a rejection of the wise teachers who came before, such as Jesus and the Buddha.  No, I can absorb what they say about living a good life, and see to what extent I make it my own.

Take “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Metta Sutta”, for instance.  Who am I to argue with the Beatitudes, which honour the “merciful”, the “pure in heart”, and “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”?  Or with the Buddha’s assertion that “Even as a mother protects with her life her child, her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings, radiating kindness over the entire world.”

My conception of Spirit has been nurtured by decades of spiritual practice.  More and more, I breathe life into what I’ve drawn from my fellow travellers, from books, from meditation retreats.  I’m happy about that.

But Reggie Ray is pointing to a mysterious sea.  I don’t know where my voyage is taking me, and you don’t know where yours is taking you.  We’ve thanked the guideposts along the way, but now … there aren’t any.  We point the bow of our ship to the horizon, and wait.  Will we fall off the end of the world?  No.  Will we fly?  Yes, I think so.

I await my future.  I will write a new song and sing it out loud.  And may your melody be sweet.