Category Archives: spirituality

Zen Day 39: Past Lives


The last time I picked this card – on Day 2 of this adventure – the commentary was, quite frankly, so beyond me that I obviously really had nothing to say!

I know that I was hung up on the concept of “past lives,” something that I really don’t believe in, per se.  I do not believe that souls reincarnate from one body to the next, willfully choosing to regenerate and continue an ongoing existence until reaching spiritual enlightenment.  Perhaps one day I will change my mind.

What I do believe in is the oneness of the universe and cosmos.  I do believe that you, I, this computer that I am typing on, the cords and airborne waves that transmit information, the Gatorade that I’m (still) drinking, as well as the purple martins chirping outside my door, my dogs rolling in dirty laundry, and my babies forming their tiny hearts (this week!) are all connected and made of the same thing.  What all these things have been, what all these things are, and what they will all become is the same – we are all, in some shape or form, of this universe and therefore share a oneness that is divine and eternal.

So, in that sense, yes I believe in past lives.  I know that what I am made up of has always existed and will always exist, even if not consciously.

Thus in contemplating the idea of “past lives,” I am drawn to that idea of universality, oneness, eternity, and the cyclical nature of things.  I am eternal as my children develop inside me, taking of my body to create new life.  I am eternal when I die, my ashes becoming part of the ocean and trees and rain and, perhaps one day, reintegrating into another life form.

For today, I will contemplate how I my eternal footprint looks – and will look.  As a part of the cosmos, what I do and who I am matters, if only simply because I exist.  My existence should bring peace and joy.  Am I doing that?  If not, what inhibits or obstructs me?  If I am, how can I spread it further?

To be completely honest, such questions and meditations take on a whole new meaning to me now as I sense my little maybe babies coming to life.   Life is so much bigger and grander than I ever imagined.

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Today, an hour into the day, I am feeling much better than I have for the past two days.  One thing is for sure: that Chinese dinner the other night, while awesome, has cured me of any yen for Chinese food (you know, the psychosomatic connection between food and feeling ill, perhaps).  It was a wonderfully calm and uneventful day yesterday spent at a resource fair for families of children in a federal education program for tiny ones; it was actually a really wonderful gathering of resources and it was heartening to see families find job solutions, education opportunities, and health and medical advice in one room.

One of my coworkers, who is like my auntie, is on me daily about getting my support system prepared for the children – daycare, doctors, babysitters, and the like.  Culturally, we come from very different places – where I was raised and am surrounded by people who believe you should be self-sufficient and manage your own family affair individually, she comes from a background where help and guidance and interaction are almost expected.  I am very lucky to have her and my other coworker here to provide that type of support when even my own family approach is to leave it alone to me to figure out.  So, I started vaguely browsing around for daycares and came to the realization that I need to engage in conversation with other mothers; the resources readily available on the internet are not the only ones (and certainly not the most affordable – $1000 a month for daycare?!).

I better stop procrastinating from getting the dogs off the pile of dirty laundry and start my day…

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Day 31: Transformation

A master in Zen is not simply a teacher. In all the religions there are only teachers. They teach you about subjects which you don’t know, and they ask you to believe because there is no way to bring those experiences into objective reality. Neither has the teacher known them – he has believed them; he transfers his belief to somebody else.  Zen is not a believer’s world. It is not for the faithful ones; it is for those daring souls who can drop all belief, unbelief, doubt, reason, mind, and simply enter into their pure existence without boundaries. But it brings a tremendous transformation.  Hence, let me say that while others are involved in philosophies, Zen is involved in metamorphosis, in a transformation. It is authentic alchemy: it changes you from base metal into gold. But its language has to be understood, not with your reasoning and intellectual mind but with your loving heart. Or even just listening, not bothering whether it is true or not. And a moment comes suddenly that you see it, which has been eluding you your whole life. Suddenly, what Gautam Buddha called “eighty-four thousand doors” open.

Osho Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest Chapter 6

The central figure in this card sits atop the vast flower of the void, and holds the symbols of transformation – the sword that cuts through illusion, the snake that rejuvenates itself by shedding its skin, the broken chain of limitations, and the yin/yang symbol of transcending duality. One of its hands rests on its lap, open and receptive. The other reaches down to touch the mouth of a sleeping face, symbolizing the silence that comes when we are at rest.  This is a time for a deep let-go. Allow any pain, sorrow, or difficulty just to be there, accepting its “facticity.” It is very much like the experience of Gautam Buddha when, after years of seeking, he finally gave up, knowing there was nothing more that he could do. That very night, he became enlightened.  Transformation comes, like death, in its own time. And, like death, it takes you from one dimension into another.

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I have to say, isn’t it slightly funny – not haha funny, but energetically coincidental – that on the last day of this month-long cycle, the card that was picked was “Transformation”? On the immediately calendar-related level, it makes a wonderful bookmark to this month, a beautiful reminder of the point of the practice.  In light of the misadventures of the past few days, it is a fundamental need – to let go and accept the “facticity” of circumstances. I have been struggling through the past few days with a somewhat major family crisis and, despite myself, asking the universe, Why now?!  Why this week?!  When everything we have been working towards for months has been this week, which calls for a final stress-free gliding into homebase, why is everything crumbling around me? “Transformation” is a good reminder to practice the art of stepping back and regaining objectivity.  Nothing is being done to me or my baby.  Life is happening.  Life happens to be crazy.  I can either let it drive me crazy or acknowledge and honor its existence – and let it be.

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I think it’s a gross understatement to say that it’s been a nutty week (no pun intended as will come to light in a moment).  In short, my father has had a psychological meltdown during which he has become convinced that someone is trying to kill him and his entire family, which has led to his undertaking a three-state driving frenzy, a trip to the sheriff’s department in my grandparents’ hometown (10 hours away) to tell him that everyone has been murdered, 2 trips to psych wards, and forcing my uncle and cousins to stand vigil for this imaginary murderer-to-be so thathe can sleep.  Thank goodness he was finally corralled into a hospital last night and will hopefully be put away somewhere for a good long while to sort out whatever is going on.  But the past few days have been incredibly frightening on several levels.

My father is an incredibly talented, creative, and highly intelligent individual.  I think that gift, historically speaking, can many times come with the burden of mental health issues.  Sadly, his are surfacing more and more.  I and BD have had to distance ourselves from him – i.e. cut off contact – because of it.  It has been very difficult to watch this slow descent and I only hope that he comes out on the other side with a little peace.

After you get over the totally bizarre nature of this situation, it sinks in how utterly scared my dad must be.  However false his delusion is in actuality, he truly believes his life and those of his family are at risk and that they/we are being hunted.  I can’t imagine that type of fear.

It has taken a lot of energy to stay on an even keel.  Of all my weeks of preparation and procedures, this is supposed to be the week of no stress as my blobs make a new home in my body.  Overall, I am okay with how I’ve handled this and am now so grateful to have this new word, “facticity,” in my vocabulary.

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Recap of Days 29 and 30: you know what I love about these days?  The absolute lack of symptoms!  Besides an increasingly sore behind from the intramuscular shots, I love that my body is regaining some sense of normalcy.  Granted I am still bloated, but (hopefully) I better just get used to that.  It is such a blessing to be feeling more normal.

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Zen Day 27: Fighting

One moment it was there, another moment it is gone. One moment we are here, and another moment we have gone. And for this simple moment, how much fuss we make! How much violence, ambition, struggle, conflict, anger, hatred, just for this small moment! Just waiting for the train in a waiting room on a station, and creating so much fuss: fighting, hurting each other, trying to possess, trying to boss, trying to dominate – all that politics. And then the train comes and you are gone forever.

Osho Take it Easy, Volume 1 Chapter 13

The figure in this card is completely covered in armor. Only his glare of rage is visible, and the whites of the knuckles on his clenched fists. If you look closely at the armor, you can see it’s covered with buttons, ready to detonate if anybody so much as brushes up against them. In the background we see the shadowy movie that plays in this man’s mind – two figures fighting for a castle.  An explosive temper or a smoldering rage often masks a deep feeling of pain. We think that if we frighten people away, we can avoid being hurt even more. In fact, just the opposite is the case. By covering our wounds with armor we are preventing them from being healed. By lashing out at others we keep ourselves from getting the love and nourishment we need.  If this description seems to fit you, it’s time to stop fighting. There is so much love available to you if you just let it in. Start by forgiving yourself: you’re worth it.
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Like the other spiritually dualistic cards that I’ve pulled, my meditation on “Fighting” is less about violence, per se, than struggle and conflict.  And how timely, like many of the cards, is it that I’ve pulled this particular card today.  Immediately, two things came to the fore of my mind, one somewhat trivial and one somewhat massive.
I realized yesterday that I’m having a hard time surrendering to the total absence of activity that comes with bed rest.  Even being totally cognizant of the greater picture, I found myself getting jealous of BD when he went with some friends to an art opening and a party at a boutique down the street.  Why?  What is the point of that wasted negative energy?  I suppose I’m still having a little tango between my freewheelin’ Self and the Me now.  Even writing about it now seems silly – I know that I am so blessed to be laying here with two little blobs in my body that are hopefully getting settled.  I just need to connect with that appreciation for the mundane, with every nanosecond that I spend here thanks to the divine order of the universe and the adventure that it is granting me.
The larger fight that I should acknowledge is my father.  I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t want to dignify it yesterday because it was such a momentous and joyous day, but, if this card is any indication, I should at least be open about this.  I’ve been estranged from my father for several months, which has been difficult for me and BD.  My father is a complicated individual; a real lone wolf with many issues and even more ideas and creativity.  I ended up choosing to sever contact with him because of his increasingly erratic and negative behavior towards BD, specifically, and me by association.  It was a deflating moment – to say the least – and I think of him daily.  But, after a lifetime of having a non-present father who I’d stuck my neck out for in order to have a relationship with as an adult, I finally hit my breaking point.
Well, long story short, upon getting into the car after the transfer yesterday morning, whose missed call do I see on my phone?  Yup.  No message.  A very large part of me – like, 99% – wants to ignore it and move on.  That’s the anger speaking.
My greatest fear as a parent is passing along my negativity towards my father.  I am a believer that you can pass on family issues inter-generationally through energy and, while I’m making great strides to make sure that I’m in a healthy and secure place with all the rest of my relationships, the one I have with my father remains a major obstacle for me.
So, I would be lying if I said that there is not a fight going on inside me.  I do have anger that my father intruded on such an important day for me and BD.  And the thing that kills me is that I know I need to release it somehow.  It is, quite literally, the last and only weight that holds me back – and the one that I don’t want to pass to my children.
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Recap of Day 26: Yesterday was the most emotional day since the day I got married.  In many ways, it was more emotional.  When we got married, BD and I had already gone through so much together – from family deaths to hurricanes to buying property to illness – that marriage was somewhat natural and logical.  Yesterday, though, was the first step in the creation of our own family – something that is bigger than just the two of us.  It was one of the most sublime experiences I have ever been apart of.  (Do NOT listen to any women who complain about the full bladder issue!  At least here in New Orleans at the Fertility Institute, the nurses are very kind and don’t want you to be that uncomfortable – they’ll let you empty your bladder if it’s too full.  And, besides, with the surrounding events, any feeling associated with a full bladder kind of flies out the window, you know?)
Now two days out from the first of two acupuncture treatments this week, I’d say I’m a convert – I feel so much relief and attribute much of it to the acupuncture.  Definitely do it.
Lessons I’m learning from bed rest:
1. stock up on food you want before you’re bed-ridden, especially if your partner isn’t inclined to cook what you want.
2. gather all of the things you need/want for entertainment beforehand; for me that’s all the back issues of ‘The New Yorker’ I haven’t gotten through, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, a book of sudoku, my laptop, and earphones.  The earphones, by the way, have come in super handy as BD has been working with power tools in his shop under the house and the nextdoor neighbor’s visiting niece just discovered his drum kit, which sits about 15 feet from my bedroom window.
3. do not, under any circumstances, watch movies & shows on Netflix for the entirety of the bed rest.  Force yourself to read a book, goddamnit!  You – i.e., me – know you complain about not having enough time to read all the time!
4. give in and relinquish all control.  When the doctor said don’t do anything but lay down, he meant, DON’T DO ANYTHING BUT LAY DOWN.  this means that you can’t control what’s going on and that you have to rely on your partner for, well, pretty much everything.  It can be an excellent exercise in letting go, trusting, and humility, if you let it.
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