On Feeling Alone, by Sharon Rawlette   

Better Endings Story of the Week: On Feeling Alone

by Sharon Rawlette

Memoirist. Essayist. Philosopher.

http://sharonrawlette.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/on-feeling-alone/comment-page-1/#comment-240

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I don’t care how many friends you have or how many heart-to-heart talks you manage with your loved ones, I think we all have moments when we feel alone. Moments when we’re stuck inside an emotion that we don’t see any possibility of sharing. Or when we’re thinking thoughts we have no way to convey. These are moments when we keenly feel our separateness from others, our isolation in our own heads and hearts. It can be a deeply troubling experience.

I had a moment like this a few weeks ago. I don’t remember what caused it, but I remember sitting on my bed, staring out the window at the desolate winter landscape, and starting to cry as I thought, “I feel so lonely.”

But, unlike other times I’ve felt this way, I found myself mentally replying to this statement in a kind, understanding voice that said, “Of course you do.”

Huh?

“That’s the reality of physical, earthly, biological life,” I continued. ”Separation. You feel deprived of the unity that you feel when you’re in your normal spiritual state. But separation is the reason you came to Earth. To have this experience, so that later you can have the joyful, ecstatic experience of being reunited–entirely and completely–with the ones you love.”

These ideas, I’m sure, came partly from some things I’ve recently been reading: primarily, accounts of near-death experiences. But the application to the question of loneliness seemed new. I didn’t recall reading any discussions of the reasons for loneliness, but when I thought about it, it seemed obvious. The physical world, in which we are each localized to a particular body in space, is inherently a world of separation. In this world, we can’t share our thoughts and feelings with one another directly. Whether we share them through words, or through arts like music or painting, or through the sense of touch, the connection is always mediated by something. Sound waves. Skin. It’s never direct. Never literally heart to heart, or soul to soul.

And yet I’ve often felt a longing for a more direct connection. Something you might call communion. Unity. I’ve wanted to share myself, and share in others’ thoughts and feelings, without having to use words or any other hopelessly inadequate tool. And when I spoke to myself that day in the bedroom, it was like some more knowledgeable part of myself was affirming that desire. Affirming that it was natural. And that it would one day be satisfied.

I’m not interested in arguing for any particular view of spirituality or the nature of the non-physical world. What’s important to me is that a lot of people do feel this loneliness I’m talking about and desire a deeper, more intimate sort of communion with others. It seems to me that, if there is hope in this world, if there is something good and beautiful at the root of all things, then there must be the possibility of that deep communion.

Green leaves

The power of the idea that communion is our natural state and that it’s natural to long for it was evident in its effect on me. As soon as I said these things to myself, I felt worlds better. I had just been crying, but suddenly I leapt from the bed, filled with new energy and ready to get on with life. I realized that, in my loneliness, I’d been worried that something was wrong. That the sense of separation I felt was an indication of failure. And that it might mean I was condemned to this state of isolation forever. But then I had the realization that this sense of separation was part of a plan, and was only temporary. My true state was to be joined, heart and soul, to the other people I love. That state of communion was just being obscured for a little while, in order for me to have this experience of earthly life, with its unique opportunities. It was akin to taking a trip somewhere on your own, just to see what it’s like. You get a little homesick, sure, but you don’t let that worry you, since you know you’ll be back home before long. As soon as I thought of things in these terms, I wasn’t sad any longer.

The truth of spiritual teachings, I believe, is most clearly evidenced by their effects. They are good teachings if they bring about love, hope, and joy: the “fruits of the Spirit.” The fruit of this personal talking-to was great hope and energy. That’s why I’m inclined to believe that it points to something deeply real. That we are not meant to be alone. That moments of loneliness are just that: moments. But our eternal destiny is something much, much more.

Soul’s Journey

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This week’s life mapping opportunity invites you to reflect on a time in your life when spirituality brought a Better Ending.  This might be as simple as a time when you prayed, or meditated, or contemplated deeply about some situation, and this focus allowed you to make a better decision or to take a good step in a new (or a staid) direction. Spirituality, as I mentioned earlier this week, seems to me to be a Better Ending in and of Itself, in whatever form we make our connection and Tune In.

dsc_2750a-111813-267The Big Buddha

You could map your life history of spiritual interests and spiritual practice, or journal to that effect. Is there a series of steps or plateaus along your pathway? How has your religious or spiritual pathway opened before you from step to step or teacher to teacher? Or, how has your connection with your own inner and outer spiritual guidance—e.g. via Christ or Buddha or Mohammed or Krishna or Lao Tzu or Shams-i-Tabriz or Bahau’allah or another spiritual leader, Master or Guide, or through your spiritual or philosophical readings or scriptures–or by inspiring philosophers or authors generally–helped to Light Up and expand your pathway of understanding? What are your goals, your spiritual Quest, from Here? Please feel free to share your stories, too.

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Let me try my hand at a journal-type of spiritual life mapping, as a brief example.  Please though, do your own; mine is offered here only as an example of how you might apply the technique. :

I remember at around 9 or 10 that I had a special friend, a Blue Man, who was a constant companion. He knew all of my thoughts and was very loving and patient and kind with me. I used to think all adults could read my mind, because he certainly knew all of my thoughts and we communicated telepathically. When I prayed, he was by my side. I would pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep…and let anyone and everyone  who wants to, live to old age and be healthy”; then I would start naming everyone I knew to include in the prayer so that the bedside prayer might last a half hour or more. Or I remember wondering, and asking the Blue Man, what would happen when someone dies; then I would imagine that life force was like the electrical current running through a TV wire. If unplugged, the electricity would simply light up another TV; I imagined that I died, and then I would simply be awake in another body.

I started sketching an image of my Blue Man at around 12; it was my constant classroom doodle. Many years later I would find him as my spiritual Master that I look to for outer and inner guidance, still today. BTW, I am an ECKist of 40 years, someone who practices the spiritual techniques of Eckankar, a spiritual teaching that recognizes the validity of ALL paths. Its current spiritual leader is the author of many spiritual books, Sri Harold Klemp. Here is actually a pretty close rendition of my doodle and the spiritual Teacher I eventually found:

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All paths lead Home, I believe, and you are where you are meant to be, right now, where you can learn most, give and receive divine love most, given your current focus of consciousness.

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For me the biggest Better Ending from spirituality—apart from always, in the Eternal NOW—occurred in a lucid dream when I was 20. After having spent a summer in Alaska (outwardly, not in the dream), I dreamed I was waiting at a bus stop. The bus came and when I got on there were various passengers who all seemed familiar, and I realized there was a seat waiting for me, next to a friend (DM), who was not there but whose raincoat was over her seat. As I sat and talked with people on the bus about my recent time in Alaska and how I was going home (ostensibly to Buffalo then) with very little to show for it because I hadn’t saved much money from working at a crab cannery, first I noticed that some of these people I had met in Alaska… Tlingit Indian friends I had worked with. Then I realized, as they looked at me patiently, hoping I would eventually understand, that this bus was going HOME, not to Buffalo, and it would take as long as it would take.  I woke up. I wanted nothing more in life right then but to go back to that bus that was going Home. So I played Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Emily’: “Such a dream I had…” over in my mind, and I was back on the bus! This time, all but myself had reached their destination; I was the only passenger left. I said to the Busdriver, “I want to go Home!” Suddenly I was standing in front of a  room with the door slightly ajar. I peered in and saw a small group of people engaged in a deep, esoteric conversation. A woman with a long flowing dress and dark flowing hair came to the door. “Would you mind if I just listened?” I asked. She opened the door widely and beckoned that there was a seat on the couch where people were talking around a table, a seat that was meant for me, but I had to be the one to ask. Next I was seated there while they were engaged deeply in conversation about some spiritual principle. “I hope you will not mind our nudity,” said a man leading the discussion along with the woman who had opened the door for me. (Symbolically, as soon as I woke I would know this meant total openness.) “I can’t participate yet, but okay,” I said. Then, to the woman who seemed so familiar, I said aloud, “OKAY!”

I met that woman from the dream outwardly, two days later at my college cafeteria, and it was directly through her—Laurie and her husband John, who was the man in the dream—that I discovered my spiritual path for this lifetime.

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As Joseph Campbell might say: “All paths lead Home.” Wherever Home is for you—Heaven or Nirvana or God-Realization or a scientific sense of Truth with a capital T, or simply greater Awareness–, find or hold to your path that will take you there, one that well represents your core values and satisfies your Quest, and follow. Going Home—arriving there ultimately—is the Best ‘Better Ending’ of all!

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A Montage: Light and Spirit (reblogged from AjayTao and Findingmy inner courage)

 

innocent

A innocent smile – Ajaytao

A smile of encouragement 
at the right moment may act 
like sunlight on a closed-up flower
it may be the turning point 
for a struggling life

Unknown

 

 pink rose

A pink rose – Ajaytao

morning dew
the subtle sigh
of a rose

Ernesto P. Santiago

 

canvas

Canvas of nature – Ajaytao

Don’t look for God in the sky
look within your own body

Osho

 

Within The Light That Does Get In

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Posted by findingmyinnercourage

There is imperfection in everything. It lives everywhere in our lives; a break, a crack, a fault. We all find imperfections at some point, even if it’s in the smallest of cracks. Imperfection is not bad, it’s merely room for growth.

A cracked window offers a dark room light where one can start to see where we are meant to go next. For those of us who acknowledge our imperfections we learn to appreciate the lifeline to which we cling. Within the light that does get in we feel a love so pure and outreaching, leading to a healing within ourselves.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

– Leonard Cohen

glowing

Glowing butterflies – Ajaytao

The flower is
the stem’s cry 
of beauty 
to the universe

Vassilis Comporozos

crown

Crowning glory – Exquisite beauty – Ajaytao

Crowning glory – Exquisite beauty – Ajaytao

Simplicity is the final achievement
After one has played a vast 
quantity of notes and more notes
it is simplicity that emerges 
as the crowning reward of art

Frederic Chopin

stars

White Mussaenda flowers – Ajaytao

White Mussaenda flowers – Ajaytao

A broken light bulb
It’s dawning
The naked street
A butterfly

Vassilis Comporozos

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***

Thank you, AjayTao and Findingmyinnercourage.

May We All Let in the Light for Better Endings

 

 

The Light in Your Eyes

 

Forest road. Landscape.

 

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the Door where It began,

Now evermore the Road doth lead

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with weary feet

Until it joins some larger Way

Where many paths and errands meet,

And whither then?

I cannot say.

– J. R. Tolkien

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Light is a good measure, and an apt metaphor, for Awareness, which brings “all good things” to those who express a positive attitude from maintaining an uplifting spiritual and/or a healthful mindfulness practice. Light radiates through the eyes and actions of those who are ‘lit,’ regardless of whatever health conditions they may be dealing with. This can be anybody.

From my life maps coaching practice, I find as a general principle that attitude matters greatly in how we go through life, and that attitudes derive often in large part from a person’s mindset and focus. Two people experiencing similar life circumstances might have polar-opposite interpretations and responses because of their outlooks on life.  This sometimes depends on whether they hold an optimistic or a pessimistic view of life, based on their beliefs as well as experience.

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John (pseudonyms used), for example, who maintained a “practical,” non-spiritually oriented belief system, regarded a series of downturns from being laid off, deaths of his father and grandmother, and a car accident as increasingly debilitating, meaningless events. His Life Metaphor of “Life is like a tree with its roots stuck in the dirt next to a flowing stream” encapsulates John’s own ‘stuck awareness,’ as does the fact that he had felt paralyzed in his right shoulder after his car accident, although doctors could not find anything physically wrong with his shoulder.

Contrast John with Ambrosia, whose chronic intestinal condition found her, one night, “touch and go” in the hospital. Doctors told her it was not certain she would survive the night. When I asked Ambrosia to rate the impact of that perilous night at the hospital, without hesitation she beamed, “+5!” (the highest possible positive rating).

“But, why?” I asked.

“Because I had a vision that night that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. My spiritual Guide appeared. He told me I could leave, if I wanted to, but there was much more for me to do here of I stayed. I told him, “All that glitters is not gold.” He answered, “but anything can be.” Then I told him I would stay only if I could get back the passion for living I once had. He said I could.”

Ambrosia survived the night and she gradually healed. She has indeed regained her passion for living, and her health condition has led her to find many healthful dietary aids and supplements. She practices spiritual contemplation and yoga, daily. She mostly walks wherever she needs to go, not owning a car. She is active as a leader in her spiritual community and serves as a compassionate role model for many. I see the light in her eyes that I did not see so much in John’s.

So, Lighten up, in whatever way works for you to experience Life, and Love, to its fullest.

And then, go take a look in the Mirror.

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Tuning In and Giving Forth: Benefits of Your Spiritual Practice

 

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There are so many beautiful pathways of Spirit, available to all states of consciousness.  I like to realize how we are each of us exactly where we are meant to be, right now, to benefit from all of the lessons and blessings of Divine Love and Spirit. All we have to remember to do, and to have a method for doing, is to Tune In, so then we fill with Divine Love as the Life Force of creation, and then we may also Give Forth in service and divine love to others. It is a reciprocal relationship, the giving and the receiving as One, like a heartbeat, a Breath.

My purpose with this blog is to provide “personal growth and development” opportunities and insights about or toward anyone’s Better Endings. As such, I want to support and validate everyone’s approach to spirituality this week, as a primary focus for establishing growth and development in our lives.  (For those whose understanding of life and the Universe is more secular, agnostic or even “non-spiritual”, facilitating an existential ‘Aha!’ or a phenomenological focus on creative re-envisioning will do!)

For Tuesday’s Prompts List, I invite you to contemplate, meditate or pray upon, talk about, or create art around one or more of the following topics in relation to the BENEFITS you receive from Tuning In and from your interaction with Spirit/ the Life Force/ Divine Love. I invite and welcome your expressions if you would like to share them with others:

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The Prompts:

In what ways do you or have you or might you Benefit from the following forms of spiritual practice:

  • Inner Guidance (incl. via Spiritual Teachers, Masters, Guides)
  • Outer Guidance (e.g. waking dreams or attending spiritual talks or reading)
  • Lucid Dreams & Visionary experience
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness
  • True Contemplation/ active imagination
  • Writing
  • Chanting/ Mantras
  • Prayer
  • Song, Art, Poetic Expression, Photography, Movement, Dance, Music
  • archetypal dialogue
  • Signs/ synchronicity
  • Healing/ “alchemy”
  • Illumination
  • Prescience
  • Exploration of Higher Realities/ Parallel Worlds/ Heavens
  • Near-Death or Out of Body Experiences
  • Faith
  • Divine Love
  • Congregational sharing/ Family
  • Relationship with and in Nature
  • Communion/ Unity with Spirit and the Divine
  • Surrender
  • Vision Quest
  • OTHER…

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As a Tuesday bonus for readers, I share below a poem that moved me (re-blogged from iithinks.wordpress.com) and that reminds me of Rumi’s intimate communication with his own spiritual Master and with God. Here is a pure expression of gratitude for all that Spirit brings.

MY LIFE: TEARS OF GRATITUDE

(http://iithinks.wordpress.com/)

tears
Each tear trickling down my face
Splashes on the ground
and explodes in gratitude towards you
Darkness consumed my world
Broken and shattered by fear
No matter if I looked within myself or without
I cried that night for death
An escape that seemed so sweet
From the prison holding me captive by my fright
Instead, in your all encompassing mercy
Your love descended and you grasped my hand
And led me gently to the key unlocking truth, beauty and light
You brought me the latihan of Subud
But I was unsure of what to do and how to be
Then the angels sang a song of truth that captivated me:
“In facing He who has All
There is nothing that Man can do
Except empty himself in patient surrender”
On that day, my virginity was cast aside
I was impregnated with your divine power
And for the first time in my existence, my Inner Self came to life
Everything I thought I knew
Was burned to the ground, turned ashes and dust
What else could happen in an experience of your reality?
But it was also an illuminating light
Bringing clarity, understanding and the knowledge of Unity
Here I saw beyond right and wrong and all other forms of duality
I began to accept all that was born of your sacred divinity
Any who climbed the multiplicity of your paths using aught but sincerity
And I began to understand my own way of worship: Its rights and wrongs
Most of all, in my darkness
I was showered with your breathtaking and indescribable Love
It descended from the heavens above and poured forth from the heavens within
Although the darkness still lives with me, it is not of me
Now I am those moments of Peace, moments of Love, moments of Reality
In the end, I have been given that which sustains and nourishes me: hope in your divine mercy
What, oh Sacred Love, have I done for all this?
I know no explanation can be demanded of your overflowing Grace
My forehead kisses the ground in prayer and I simply ask that you always stay
Each tear trickling down my face
Splashes on the ground
and explodes in gratitude towards You
http://iithinks.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/my-life-tears-of-gratitude/

“Beautiful People Here” (parking lot attendant, Denver Coliseum, Mar. 22, 2014)

Feathers

As I sit to write an introductory post for a Better Endings week about Spirituality, I am in a bleacher seat at the Denver Coliseum, attending the Denver March Powwow. One of the largest Native American powwow venues in the country, people from many tribal communities and many other backgrounds come to Powwow, in part, to recharge their spiritual batteries.

Grand Entry. Drumming circles surround the gymnasium that fills with dancers in regalia from all age groups and genders, creating a Spiral, the Sacred Circle of Life. Feathers, colors, blankets, shawls, buckskin, moccasins, beads, VOICES, and RHYTHM: the heartbeat of the Earth, vibrancy of Spirit. Grandmothers enter: “Keepers of Mother Earth”.

spiral rubber pattern

The last time I was here, two years ago, I came with Juanita, who enjoyed telling people, “I am only 92!”  She hadn’t been to the Denver Powwow for many years but in her youth, in 1954 (my birth year), Juanita interviewed all  Native American families in Colorado Springs for a city history book, and she gained many friends. Here at the Powwow Juanita told me she could see and hear the voices of the elders who had passed Beyond, still attending Powwow.

Juanita passed herself, just two weeks after Powwow. Ke:shhi (‘Hello”, in Zuni), Juanita. K’ettsanishhi do’ andewadu (‘May you go happily’).

Spirituality is Universal. No single religion or philosophy has a monopoly on Divine Love or Truth.

White Finger Starfish

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As I stand in line now for the one frybread stand (in a line that may take over an hour to arrive there), I invite YOU this week to write or to somehow express what Spirituality means, to you, or about how Spirituality has helped you. I will save all Comments to this effect and post them together on Thursday along with re-blogs on the topic which I also invite you to send.

Spirituality is a Better Ending in and of Itself. In whatever form you “Hook Up” and “Tune In” to Spirit, and whatever you may name It and the Divine, we will celebrate the Pulse of Life, Divine Love and awareness all this week at Better Endings.

spiral

As a lover of Rumi, who lived and breathed the universality of spirituality, I share from his poetic illumination:

WORD FOG

Words, even if they come from the soul, hide the soul,

as fog rising off the sea covers the sea,

the coast, the fish, the pearls.

It is noble work to build coherent philosophical discourses

but they do not block out the sun of truth.

See God’s qualities as an ocean.

The world is foam on the purity of that.

Brush it away and look through the alphabet to essence,

as you do the hair covering your beloved’s eyes.

Here is the mystery:

This intricate, astonishing world is proof

of God’s presence even as it covers the beauty.

One flake from the wall of a gold mine

does not give much idea what it is like

when the sun shines down inside

and turns the air and the workers golden.

 – (Rumi: The Big Red Book, Coleman Barks, transl.:149-150)

Prayer Flags

“The Prologue to Compassion”, by Joshua Bertetta

Story of the Week on Habitual Better Endings:

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It commenced with an inconsiderable light, an untinged light

It was perhaps part of what was, and what was was only black.

The light was with the black you see, and the light was the black.

And through this light that was the black and with the black, things came to be.

A light breeze scattered flecks of this light. A brief pause let the flecks settle and the wind returned to the inconsiderable light, only to pause again and again go forth to scatter flecks of light. And bit by bit this helpful little laawan broadcasted the light across the black. Bit by bit, the specks sprouted and in spouting, grew a little more with each breeze and each breeze, bit by little bit, continued depositing the little specks of light. Back and forth, back and forth, the busy little wind worked tirelessly, without haste, never whining, though it seemed its task would never cease.

Now as this little wind busied itself, “things” took “shape.” It wasn’t so much that things themselves were made per se, but something more akin to the idea of things took shape, for still, these “things” remained unlit. Until, that is, the wind draped color over the ideas, thus bestowing upon them their shapes. These were not your ordinary run of the mill colors, however, for the breeze did not bother itself with the blues and the reds and the yellows and the greens: no, it beheld the illuminateds and the lucents, the prismatics and iridiants, the opaques and the opalines.

Such provided the environment for the makings of things and things thus did form. First the dragonfly, then the flowers for the dragonfly, the grasses for the flowers, and the ground for the grasses. The water and the air. All pouring their colors and their shapes in tandem with the swashing wind. Hills unrolled in the distance, and trees.

Everything created in and by the light that was the dark and was with the dark.

Flowers giggled diamonds; the diamonds sirulated into butterflies and those butterflies, those luxuriant and splashy butterflies, dripped polygonal pollens and gave lines to birds.

Soften its features did the wind with its gentle comings and goings. This wind, this breath, this breath, just breathe, just breathe, just breathe.

And in that just-breathing did the breath find life; in finding life did the breath find flesh and in finding flesh the breath found itself, fulgurating, reflected in and by the light itself—the light that was the water, that was the ground, the dragonflies and butterflies, the fish, and all the flowers—all of it, every single little speck of it, the light that was the black and was with the black.

What it was it just was and in being was, it kept on being. Being what it was…what it was…it was is. It is what is. Being. Am. What was was was. What is is. What am.

The wind: Be.

The light: Am.

Being and am-ing, am-ing and being; so the wind, the breath, the breath moving in, the breath moving out, passing in, passing out, the breath that am the flowers and the fish, the butterflies and the dragonflies, the ground, the water, the light itself finding itself in the flesh finding itself in the breath, in am.

And thus began the knowing and with the knowing the naming and the first name was the wind’s name:

Rahim.

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Bio: An aspiring novelist, Joshua Bertetta holds a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute and teaches in the Religious Studies Department at St. Edward’s University. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife and three boys, His blog website is: http://storyofthefour.wordpress.com and he has a facebook group dedicated to his work at http://www.facebook.com/storyofthefour. Contact info: joshuabertetta8306@gmail.com