One person at a time

 

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As published in Elephant Journal 8/5/17

 

I see a young woman punished by a mind that differs from my own pushing a shopping cart through the dregs of society.

The aisles of humanity staggered randomly like blockades of sheeple that spite or ignore or pretend she does not even exist.

She winds carefully through the labyrinth. A test of the gods. A test of her worthiness that she believes she failed long ago.

I wonder: What test? What god would be so cruel to allow this woman, who carries the spark of the divine itself within her breast, to live like this? Why threaten to extinguish the gift of that spark?

I step in front of this woman, only occasionally glancing behind, and part the cascade of ignorance like Moses in a sea of flesh so she can make her way to the hovel that is her home.

I see a man on a corner with a worn sign that says “will work for food” and I know, without a doubt, that he has neither worked nor eaten in far too long. I watch the constant flow of people pass by like a river of wealth that is just beyond his reach while he slowly dies from dehydration.

I wonder: Why should he work for what the planet gives freely? Why should he be reduced to begging for that which comes naturally?

I step into the closest convenience store, a place convenient only to those with means, and spend what little is left on my debit card to ensure that he will not go another day without that which is his right, and I bring it to him with one request—that if he knows another who has not eaten, he share it. He looks at me and offers a portion, and I gently refuse because I have a job.

I see an old man struggling to carry his meager supplies to his humble home. He staggers under the weight of the few small bags that are his sole source of sustenance for the next month. His “retirement” is barely enough to pay for the two rooms in an ancient building that could, at any time, be condemned and leave him homeless.

I cross the street, add my own bags to his, and carry them all to the crumbling facade which represents the dreams of his youth. Without a word, I leave all the bags, including my own, at his door and walk away in silence as he speaks the only word we shared in those six blocks, “Why?”

I wonder: Where did he work so hard that I can see the memories of his past etched deeply into his face? Why did the system he paid into for so long leave him with not so much as cab fare to transfer a true month’s worth of food? Why would my actions, which seem so natural to me, leave him questioning my motives?

When I return home, I see myself in the mirror: this man that proclaims love, who shares it freely with the hungry, who widens the aisle with his imposing figure and intimidates the sheeple with a glance so the meek can pass, who carries the bags for those who are too weak to carry them, and leaves them with more than they started with—where would he be if not for the love and care of the one person who first offered the very same compassion that he feels for others: his Self.

I see their faces in my reflection. I feel their pain, know their suffering, and, in fact, share it.

Where would I be? Exactly where I am now—with them.

I quietly acknowledge my gratitude to a universe that gave me the gift of this vision and know that I am home.

If you want to change the world, begin with yourself, and then carry that change into the world one person at a time.

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Author: J.M. Greff
Image: Pixabay/quinntheislander
Editor: Travis May

Wings

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Those invisible things
on your back are wings.
You were born with them.
They are not there
for decoration.
They are not
an “inconvenience”
or a “burden”
or some test
of your humanity.

They are your path
through subconscious reality
to the deepest recesses
of sublime infinity.
They are a gift
from the Divine.
A gift.

They are fed by your soul.
They grow from your heart.
They are empowered
or disempowered
by your mind,
your thought,
your will.

Open your mind.
See them.
Open your heart.
Feel them.
Open your soul.
Feed them.
Open your wings
Look to the sky
And fly.

Image: “in search of life Divine – Shiva and Shakti – divine love” by Pooja Bhapkar

 

A note to the Universe

finger of god
What the fuck?
That’s not what I meant
Were you in some other reality?
Intent on another’s discontent?
Did I say it wrong?
Is there really a way to say it right?
Why’d it take so long?
Are you trying to start a fight?
   ­­­
I’m sure I don’t understand
your secret motivations
so maybe I’ve misinterpreted
the general implications
   ­
But I really thought
my words were clear
so maybe you just decided
not to hear
   ­
Or maybe you decided
to give me what I need
instead
  ­
But anyway;
What the fuck?
  ­
Sincerely,
James
  ­
p.s. Thank you. I love you.

Succulent

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never there
always wanted
seldom had
often enojoyed
mostly missed
longed and sought after
sung about
written about
“dreamed” about
succulating
stimulating
simulating
suffocating

 

resuscitating

 

sleep
…not tonight

 

 

image; “the comfort she craves” by cameron grey

Why we Should Embrace Desire even when it Causes Pain

the.desire.of.the.soul.Jeny.Gevorgyan

Craving and desire are the cause of all unhappiness.”
– Gautama Buddha

The Buddha taught us that desire is one of the root causes of suffering.

Yet the universe seems to have designed us for exactly that purpose with the intention of forcing us to alleviate or even eliminate the suffering only through connections to, and service of, others.

I understand the concept of desire being the root of suffering, but I am not convinced that the suffering caused by desire—at least when it comes to love—is always an unwanted thing.

Here’s why.

Some time ago, I fell in love with someone I had known as a friend for five years prior. One day, after several weeks of very intense and intimate conversations, our relationship changed, those magic words were spoken, and I once again found myself in that unhappy state of desire.

It came with all the trimming; self-doubt, self-pity, fear, you name it. A suffering so pure that the Buddha himself might have pointed at me and said, “There, you see? That is what desire will get you.” As he shrugged his shoulders and strolled off to meditate under his bodhi tree.

The woman who professed her love to me, and captured a permanent place in my heart and soul, is the epitome of everything that I find most attractive in a woman—physically, intellectually, and spiritually. This is not an opinion based on that rosy view of fresh love which blinds, distorts, and softens, I have always felt this way about her.

I desired this woman in ways I am unable to describe; I still do, but we can not be together. Not now. Maybe not ever. This does not mean I love her any less.

There are many good reasons why we cannot be together, and maybe I will talk about them sometime, but for now, I just want to share that my desire caused considerable pain and suffering.

Yet, I chose to embrace that desire, not of her, or that which cannot be, but my desire to be loved by her, which I have not felt in many years, because something else came along with it that made me question everything I had learned not only about desire but about love as well.

I was loving deeper, truer, and more fully than I had ever loved before. Words that I had used with what I thought was full understanding, words like “unconditional” and “non-attachment,” took on new meaning. Meaning so clear and expansive that it made my prior understanding—an understanding gained through years of study and introspection and experience—like that of an infant.

I needed to know why, so I began the process of understanding with this one simple question: Is the desire to be loved a bad thing?

According to Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee of The Golden Sufi Center, the answer to that question is no. The Sufi mystic says that the feminine quality of desire, a part of Self that is largely ignored in our society, creates an imbalance both in Self and in society.

  • Like everything that is created, love has a dual nature, positive and negative, masculine and feminine. The masculine side of love is “I love you.” Love’s feminine quality is, “I am waiting for you; I am longing for you.” For the mystic it is the feminine side of love, the longing, the cup waiting to be filled, that takes us back to God. Longing is a highly dynamic state and yet at the same time, it is a state of receptivity. Because our culture has for so long rejected the feminine we have lost touch with the potency of longing. Many people feel this pain of the heart and do not know its value; they do not know that it is their innermost connection to love.” ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

We are all familiar with the concept of yin and yang, those opposing parts of Self, masculine and feminine, that make us whole. When viewed in this way, yin represents the desire to be loved, while yang represents the action to love. Two halves of a whole. One cannot exist without the other—not fully.

To love I must also desire to be loved because desire is the driving force behind loving, and to be loved I must also know how to love.

It can be summed up in the words of Ibn ‘Arabi, who said, “Oh Lord, nourish me not with love but with the desire for love.”

To which I might add: Sustain me with love but nourish me with desire.

The Buddha is right, desire is causing me suffering, but it has also opened my heart, my mind, and my eyes to the fact that desire can be a path to a higher love.

Does this knowledge somehow diminish the suffering? No. In fact, the pain is made all the more severe by my understanding—but is worth every iota because of what it teaches me, and the depth of love which it has amplified and released.

So I surrender to love and to the universe who designed us this way and I accept the pain of desire because through that desire I have learned to love more fully.

It does raise another question, however: What happens if that desire is fulfilled?

Perhaps Rumi already knew the answer to this question when he said,

Do not seek for water, remain thirsty.”

 

 

Author: J.M. Greff
Editor: Taia Butler
Supervising Editor 1: Travis May
Supervising Editor 2: Emily Bartran

As published in Elephant Journal (except for the shitty “Friends” pic they used which I replaced with this excellent image by Jeny Gevorgyan “The Desire of the Soul”)