Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Months Before Beltane and New Beginnings

Spring always fills me with hope and a renewed perspective on life. This year, that feeling seems to be intensified considerably. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we seem to finally be shaking the mantle of what was a frigid and snowy winter. Regardless, there are many new endeavours that await over the next 18 months or so.

To start, my wife and I traded in my ancient Sonoma in favour of a new Subaru Legacy. I am happy as this will be a much more environmental vehicle and, in spite of assuming hefty monthly payments, it is a vehicle that will facilitate lots of trips to the Rockies and elsewhere. For example, we are already making plans to drive down through Alberta and through Washington State and Oregon, checking out the old hippie communities and natural wonders along the way.

Travel is big in the near future for me as well. We are visiting England this summer to see my wife's family, and setting off for a week in Slovakia where I taught for a year many moons ago, in addition to a couple of days in Vienna. The last time I was in that part of the world was when Czechoslovakia was splitting in twain, and I am anxious to see how these beautiful places have changed since my last adventures there.

I might be visiting my friend in Philadelphia in August as well. This trip is a bit up in the air, however, due to budgetary restrictions (we also need a new furnace – this is Canada and the weather is rather nasty seven months out of the year!).

My spiritual journey continues to evolve. I am still on a vegetarian (…well, pescatarian) diet, doing yoga frequently, meditating and trying to apply what I've been reading to my daily life. Over the past while, I have become very good friends with my massage therapist and his wife. Being somewhat disenfranchised with the Buddhist temple that we frequent, we are contemplating the formation of our own sangha, based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn. My main issue with the temple here in town is that the people seem miserable and there is an incredible stoicism in the practise. I think a sangha should be a place of joy and be alive, not morose and pretentious. So, we are looking to set something up that is linked to the other Thich Nhat Hahn sanghas, and offer both a place to practise as well as do community based things like volunteer at the local soup kitchen, be the source of some environmental activism and have some decent discussions on various Buddhist and other related topics (we'd be open to pagans, Hindus, Sufis, etc.).

Still on the topic of forming a sangha, I am also quite interested in exploring some of the pagan traditions such as Wicca. As it happens, my aforementioned friend's wife (also a friend) is fairly knowledgeable about this stuff and I hope to do some ritual work with her. So many religions seem to put the human race in a separate compartment from the natural world, and this is half our problem. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches, and Rumi, Buddha, Jesus and the rest of the mystics of the past perpetuate: we are all connected – we reap what we sow, all is one. People are like cells in a body, to use a metaphor. We can be either health cells or cancerous ones. Ultimately, what we do affects everything else.

Lastly, on the personal development front, I have resolved to become a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor over the coming year. It just seems to be a natural path to follow, given where I find myself at present. My initial yoga indoctrination was in the Iyengar style, though I have practised Hatha, Moksha and some Ashtanga Yoga since. I also find that the Iyengar style works best for my particular body type. Eventually, I hope to offer classes or private instruction – a nice way to supplement my income during my summers off, doing something that I love and that is healthy for others and the planet.

Anyway, just sharing a bit of what has been happening with me. What I am doing these days just seems to be right for me. I don't believe in pushing others into doing what I'm doing – if you are a happy Atheist, Christian, Jew or Unitarian, good for you and may it fill you with joy. The reason I share my promulgating and reflections is merely a beacon to those out there seeking a path, so that they can choose to look into some of what a write about themselves, or to run away screaming – NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo! Life is an arduous journey. The more you try to gain insight and perspective, the harder that journey becomes. There is some truth that "ignorance is bliss", but insight can also be bliss. Life is beautiful. "Everything in life has its beauty, but not everyone sees it" is how Confucius put it I believe. What guides me are the words of Gandhi: "be the change you want to see in the world". We can only control the moment and our actions within it. What influences our choices can be the steps leading to the here and now, or perspectives on what the future might hold. If we act with an open heart and good intent, that is all we really need to do in many ways. Anyway you look at it, it may seem your only constant companion in life is your self, but that is just your ego's way of manipulating you. The fact is, in life we are never alone and, if our eyes remain open, a teacher will present itself to help you along the way.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. My Mother is in town from Nova Scotia, so I'd better go and entertain.

One final note, my Pagan friend is interested in jamming - she'll sing, I'll play guitar. How cool is that (not to mention the gift to the planet having me NOT singing!)



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