Finding Quan Yin: A Lesson in Inner Guidance

Inner guidance has been a significant theme along my own life path; I would not be alive today nor certainly where I am at currently, except for seeking out,  accepting and attending to inner guidance.

I have long practiced exercises in active contemplation and dream study to seek out inner guidance, often with the assistance of using mantras to focus attention for glimpses of higher awareness and clarity.  The story that follows is an example, for me, of the benefits of attending to inner guidance.

Finding Quan Yin

I was living in Arizona, around a year before completing my doctoral studies at ASU.  I had a friend, Dana, who had a beloved pet cockatoo whom she named Quan Yin.  Dana was somewhat a loner in life; she was closer with her bird friend than with most humans.

One morning I received a phone call from Dana.  She was distraught because while preparing to clip Quan Yin’s wing feathers, a normal routine, Quan Yin flew out into Dana’s back porch area and from there she had flown out into the neighborhood.

Dana asked if I could come over to help her to locate Quan Yin and bring her home.  This unfolded into a three day ordeal. On the first day, Dana and I took neighborhood walks in opposite directions, aiming to cover the area broadly and hopefully to find Quan Yin.  The bird was white and we hoped if she saw Dana she would show herself.  For my part, I tried to practice a sort of intuitive radar awareness, scanning the neighborhood, looking in the trees, and asking for inner guidance or awareness.  I came back from that walk feeling I had sensed Quan Yin could have been in a certain directional sector, but we had no luck that day in retrieving Dana’s avian companion.

On the second day, Dana was more worried, fearful that Quan Yin might come to harm unless we could find her and bring her home soon.  Near success that afternoon: we did find Quan Yin, perched high in a tree in the direction I had sensed.  She would not come down to Dana on her own, so Dana called the fire department and they sent over a truck. Dana climbed the ladder up into the tree, but just as she reached out and was about to grasp Quan Yin, she flew off again!

On the third day, Dana was despondent, feeling she had lost her best friend forever. No one from the neighborhood had responded to posters we had placed from the day before, and by now Dana felt that without food and water, Quan Yin would be weak and very vulnerable if she were even alive and in the vicinity any more.

That third afternoon, after taking another lookout walk without success,  on an impulse I decided to climb a ladder Dana kept on her back porch that led up to her flat, porch-like Arizona rooftop. I looked around 360 degrees from this high vantage point, but still I had no success in spotting Quan Yin.

While on the roof I decided to sit for a spiritual contemplation.  Mainly I just wanted to center so that I might help my friend Dana to accept her loss.  After singing the universal spiritual mantra of HU (as a love song of divine love), I started singing “Quan Yin” as a mantra. After all, Quan Yin refers in Buddhist tradition to a Chinese goddess of compassion, so it felt like an apt mantra to use!

images are from pixabay.com

I sang ‘Quan Yin’ outwardly on a slow, outward breath about three or four times. Then suddenly, I opened my eyes and, guess what? I was staring directly at a white bird perched in a tree in the adjacent neighbor’s yard!  I informed Dana and we quickly took a step ladder over to her neighbor’s tree.  This time, Quan Yin was somewhat depleted and she gratefully leaped onto Dana’s extended forefingers.

That is my story of Finding Quan Yin.  She and Dana lived happily ever after so far as I know. The End.

For me, this experience was about more than helping a friend find her missing pet.  I was happy that Quan Yin and Dana were reunited.  But the ‘miracle’ sort of moment I had of singing ‘Quan Yin’ as a mantra then suddenly opening my eyes to see the bird we had been searching for for three days, felt amazing, humbling, and instructive.  I felt and still do feel grateful for the gift of inner guidance, of an available inner connection with divine Spirit that could lead to such a beneficial result.

May the Blessings Be!

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Have you sought and received awareness from inner guidance in your life in ways that have helped you grow or that has helped you at times you have most needed insight or protection?  I invite you to write out or otherwise share your MyStory memoirs about the theme of Inner Guidance if that has been a meaningful theme in your life.

These Pandemic Times

A theme that would likely be included in everyone’s MyStory journal or book these days would be how they have endured these Pandemic Times, since around February or March 2020.  Many have suffered deep losses of the heart from losing loved ones to this horrific virus of Covid-19, plus there have been many other repercussions of our having had to live through this pandemic for these past few years, with continuing effects as we move forward.  I invite you to write or otherwise share your Pandemic Times story, focussing on the life changes and lessons you have experienced.

For my own pandemic record, I recognize how my life has changed dramatically since before and after Covid-19 spread as a global pandemic.  I relocated from what I had previously thought would be my long term, near lakeside retirement house, selling my patio home in a small and comfortable resort community to make a Big Move to my high school hometown.  I felt trapped by the pandemic in this small community. People chose not to mask, feeling perhaps overly safe and protected. I even bought 300 masks and distributed them throughout the community, hoping neighbors would choose to help protect one another, but to no avail. (As a daily dogwalker, this mattered to me.)

I took the emerging pandemic very seriously, wanting to stay healthy for the sake of living alone with my cat and my dear diabetic dog Sophie, who relies on me for an unusually special and time-consuming diet. I used Instacart, having all my food and sundries delivered outside my door, and then (at first anyway), wiping down everything that would enter the home.

I had a dream very near the beginning of the pandemic, in which a man entered a semi-darkened theater (with about three or four rows of seating) while those of us seated were watching some video or movie. In front of us he opened a backpack, took out a gun with a long, thin barrel, and proceeded to shoot every one of us, either in the abdomen or in the chest! For me it was the abdomen, and it paralyzed me so that all I could do was watch as he completed his task, then he went into an adjacent kitchen to do his deed there as well.  For a long time this dream haunted me…were we all doomed?  But more recently I wonder if being “shot” could have also been a harbinger of the vaccines to come…

By now I have had all five available shots (plus flu, shingles, and pneumonia), so that I feel like a pin cushion. But I have not (yet anyway, knocking on my oak wood desktop) succumbed to Covid and I intend not to ever do so.

Masks, teaching entirely from home remotely, increasing texting contact with my family and friends, walking Sophie daily, and writing were my havens.  Eventually I realized I would feel more supported and comfortable in my beloved Home Town, where my best friend from high school still lives with her husband and family, and closer to my sister for visiting with her.  Besides, external spiritual community activities I had been engaged with before the pandemic were no longer “in person.” Zoom stepped in—and up!  This was and has been good, but I still am not as happy with online events as with face to face interaction and contact. I mean, you really do not get to look into a person’s eyes with Zoom, though it is very good at expanding networks beyond the local sphere.

So, I moved “during Covid times.”  Still, at the new home I used Instacart and Zoom for a long while to come, masked in public, and have to this day generally avoided large or densely gathered groups.  I finished and published the book I had begun in 2018 (Better Endings, 2022). I continued (still) to teach remotely online for Colorado though not for Ithaca, because the Covid economy crunch led to the department I taught for there being dismantled.

Now, since vaccines have effectively reduced the worst dangers of the pandemic disease, we are still beset by new variants flaring.  I see news reports that suicide rates, substance abuse rates and related deaths are up still. Many of the students I teach have suffered losses of heart and many deal with depression and fears for their future.

Yet we endure.  We share.  Despite a growing polarization of viewpoints, we reach out to one another in our families and communities, aiming to offer solace and a welcoming spirit of neighborly kindness and divine love.  In this, I would simply say, We Are Not Alone. I am grateful for the guidance along the way and for the deepened friendships with family, friends and neighborly folks in my home and spiritual communities.  Perhaps having witnessed the worst of these pandemic times—with enormous loss of life and diminished health factors in all our communities—we (I at least) have come to better appreciate the value of life but also that there is much more than just this life spiritually, so that pursuing one’s spiritual goals and interests is as or more important than simply getting by from day to day.  Love matters, awareness matters, reaching out to others in service is its own reward.

I live near the Buffalo, NY community and its neighborly love values extend far and wide in this region where the “Buffalo Mafia” (Buffalo Bills football fans) means Family.  In a region where heavy snowstorms along the Lake Effect areas have long called family and neighbors to support one another through difficult ordeals, these values of neighborly love have carried through and even intensified during these Pandemic Times. So I feel fortunate to have returned Home to this environment, and I look forward to gradually returning to “in person” life, without masking or cocooning. And yes,…Go Bills!

images are from pixabay.com

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Your story—your uniquely epic MyStory—matters.  As I like to say to my pets, family, friends and students, there has never been and will never again ever be the unique Person that YOU ARE.  If we are spiritual Beings living physical lives (as I do personally believe) then our meaningful stories, our unique life experiences, can be thought of as the Divine experiencing facets of Itself in all the diversity of life’s expression.

So again, I invite you to write your MyStory for the sake of contributing to the archives of Life Itself.  As I am exploring some of my own life theme stories with this current blogspace, I am sorting the stories into thematic files on my computer, adding to the stories as I go, intending to eventually combine the thematic topics as chapters of my own MyStory book. I encourage you to likewise explore and express your own insights and lessons from your invaluable life experiences around your own life themes.

What about you? How have these Pandemic Times affected you and your loved ones, both as challenges
and in terms of your positive lessons gained?

Visions, Dreams and Reflections: A Visitor

I am and have always been a Dreamer.  Are you?  Since dreams, visions and reflections have inspired some of the pivotal turning points of my life, I would include them within one of my own MyStory Life Theme chapters.   I do hope that as you read any of the stories I am sharing in this blog from my own MyStory experiences, that these stories might help you to reflect on YOUR OWN MyStory stories and themes. I have always understood it is best to write about what I know best, which is why I share from my own life experiences, but the point of sharing about them here and in my books (Your Life Path, 2018; Better Endings, 2022) is TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO REFLECT ON and to write and/or creatively express yourself about your own Shaping Events, to inspire your own Better Endings.  So, I invite you again to keep a dedicated MyStory Journal, wherein you can record memoirs that are most meaningful to you and could be helpful for you to collect and share as a legacy of insights with others in your life. 

So, I add here one of my own MyStory short stories from the theme of Visions, Dreams and Reflections.  I have been blessed to occasionally recall a very clear “visionary” sort of dream.  These inner experiences usually occur in that zone of consciousness between sleeping and waking, when lucid dreaming commonly occurs. I hesitate to share many of these openly, because they are of such rare and deep significance.  But since I definitely include this one in my own MyStory collection, I choose to share it here in case it may carry some insight for others.

A Visitor

Between sleeping and waking, around a decade ago:  a beautiful Being appeared in my awareness as a Visitor. It is difficult to describe this Being, whom I think of as a Silent One.  Male or female? Olive toned or other? Old or young? Just this beautiful Presence.

S/he/It asks me a simple question, and the following brief dialogue ensues:

Beautiful Being (BB):  “So, how are things going out there?”

LW (somehow aware of the slant of the question): “Well, there are many people, with many different religious beliefs, but most people are still afraid of death.”

BB (after a prolonged, pregnant pause): “Next time, we won’t do Religion.”

Then I awoke.  I felt humbled and grateful to have received such a Visitation, and I have never forgotten our clear, brief exchange.  It has led me to ponder the cosmological and/or spiritual basis of this Being’s words. 

Just two days ago, I was reading Michio Kaku’s interesting book, The Future of Humanity.  As a footnote of sorts to my visionary Visit, while reviewing several theories about how the known universe might end, Kaku relates an interesting perspective based on Olaf Stapledon’s idea of a Star Maker:

“This takes us back to Olaf Stapledon, who imagined that there is a Star Maker, a cosmic being that creates and discards entire universes. He is like a celestial painter, constantly conjuring up new universes, tinkering with their properties, and then moving on to the next one. Each universe has different laws of nature and different life-forms.” (Michio Kaku, The Future of Humanity, pg. 303)

images are from pixabay.com

I am also reminded of a section of a book I read many years ago by Paul Twitchell, I think Dialogues With The Masters or maybe The Far Country. Twitchell similarly describes a sort of highly evolved being—I believe referred to therein as Silent Ones—who experiment with creating and designing universes.

So, what might be the relevance for my own understanding?  To me this insight from the Visitor in my waking dream has helped me to accept the wide diversity of religious or spiritual viewpoints, knowing that no matter how much I might—and do—explore spiritual awareness, likely I will never achieve higher clarity than my puny mental capacity may contain until after my own translation (death) from this bodily state.

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And you?  I invite you to write in your MyStory journal about some significant vison, dream or reflection(s) that you would wish to remember and share.

Your Epic Cast of MyStory Archetype Characters

Following from the last post where I mentioned Carl Jung’s Red Book, which was his record of active imagination encounters with his personal unconscious archetypes, allow me to add to the exploration of (your) MyStory memoirs a way to identify your own “Archemes;” a concept which I introduced in Your Life Path (Skyhorse, 2018).  Just as we each have a finite number of definite themes or threads of experience that run through our lives either in whole or during specific life chapters or segments of our lifetimes, with each of these Life Themes we also all develop specific sorts of ROLES that pertain to those themes and that transform dramatically over time just like the character arcs of any narrative epic protagonists.

For example, some common Life Themes people identify by sorting types of their significant shaping events into KINDS of events include: Family, Education, Work/ Career, Romance/ Relationships, Friendships, Spirituality or Religion, and Travel.  Notice how when you reflect on some of your own significant or “shaping” moments with respect to a few of these different Life Themes, you are somewhat a distinctive character from one to the other, and these characters evolve or transform as you have developed through these thematic movements in your life.

As an educator, for example, Education has certainly been a major, lifelong theme for me.  And within that theme I have been the STUDENT (role type/ character) and the TEACHER, in various modes over time. Friends have sometimes chided me when, during a conversation, I might “shift into Teacher mode.”  Whereas, as a spiritually oriented person, my persona can be quite more ‘esoteric’ or even ‘dreamy,’ as I practice daily contemplation, chant mantras, keep a dream journal, and allow myself to “surrender” to inner awareness or nudges from inner guidance.  Yet still, with my pets it is all about unconditional love and gratitude; I sing spontaneous song lyrics as though life is a musical while walking with my beloved dog, Sophie. So yes, I recognize a pantheon of characters within my Self, as did Carl Jung. Like Jung I also realize how we project archetypal character forms onto or into those we interact with in our life relationships.

This week then, I invite you to take some tome to reflect in your MyStory (or any) journal on who you ARE, how your character shifts with different thematic expressions of your own Self. You could simply list some of the Life Themes you recognize, and next to those, name the character Roles or personas you have been developing in your life with regard to those different themes.

E.G.  Education:  TEACHER, STUDENT

          Spirituality: MYSTIC

          Travel:   IDEALIST

           Relationships:  LOVER, DESCENDER

           Family:  SISTER, DAUGHTER (and re. Pets: PARENT/ COMPANION)

           Friendships:  FRIEND

           Vocation:  ARTIST (Writer)

Which of these Archemes are best or least mature or developed in your life? Would you like to give some of your more submerged selves some more breathing room by getting back to some hobby or pasttime that helps you expand your deeper self?

Why do we so need a good Vacation or Holiday now and again? (For our more carefree Traveler or Family based selves to emerge for some needed ‘time out’?) Why do we wear special apparel and let ourselves get so excited by some hobby or at a Sports event?  More profoundly, how do your different Parts of Self relate to and interact with others as well as among themselves?  Try dialoguing in your journal sometime amongst some of your own various personas, especially with regard to some difficult decision or choice you might face.

Recognizing some of our own distinctive archetypal personas allows us to move consciously in the direction of a higher integration or polishing of our individuated Self, in Jung’s parlance. Joseph Campbell noted that those who refuse to accept and exercise their own internal archetypal diversity are the ones most in danger of a ‘schizophrenic’ breakup.

images are from pixabay.com

Enjoy your journey!