Thursday, January 25, 2018

Humility in the Grandeur

After an encounter with someone I had once considered vastly different than me.

He told me that Adam and Eve saw the exact same stars and sky as we do now.
He told me that God "spread forth the heavens" in one grand gesture of joy.
He told me that the creator dilated time, made space fluidic, that the world is actually young.
He told me that the stars are meant only as objects of God's beauty.
He told me that in heaven we would be given a proper history lesson.
He told me that the basis of science was mostly an illusion.
He told me that what scientists said was too literal and even fundamentalist.
He told me that God is beyond all the facts that we were lead to know.

My impulse was to argue, at least at first. The earth only thousands of years old? Really? The stars made as ornaments? The material world not old, not real? "Science says...." I wanted to say as I lead into a defense. I wanted to be as sure as him.

But his face was lit like the sun with something beyond his certainty. Yes, he presented himself as absolutely knowing the truth. It was not quite smugness, but surety. It was not compassion but a type of bliss. It was not his understanding but a direct transmission. I admit, I was caught up in his reverie, in the idea of God majestically spreading forth the heavens.

It was no longer his fear or my own insecurity. 
It was no longer about my anger at having been instructed with the confidence of an opinion. It was not about disputing facts that neither of us were truly understanding.

My arguments fell away as I thought:
"What if he's right about something I do not understand?"  
"What would happen in our world if we just were present with each other?"

Then I fell into a deeper thought: "It's not even about right or wrong anymore." I was free to hear the glory and grace in his story of the great unfolding. I made a choice to drop my scientific armor and listen. I dropped my certainty and literalism for moments and was more present than before.

I made contact with all beings, not just with his heart or with my heart. Perhaps both of our views were illusions. And just why did it matter if we did breathe in illusion? What did I really get with being right? Why did I armor myself against his knowing the truth? Truly, the Great Mystery is enough for me now.

I do not have certain words about what occurred as I listened to my evangelical-mystical-fundamentalist brother. But instead of building a wall I decided to make a bridge. And then even the bridge between us fell. And wings, like those of the Bible's Holy Spirit, spread forth across my mind. My heart glowed for a moment like the ornaments of God's stars.

This man's story is as beautiful and rich as the miracle of my science. I've only been here six score years.
What is that compared to the miracles held within billions or even thousands of years?
What is that compared with the glory the stars reflect, whether that be plasma or creation?
Who am I in the story that I have woven about truth?
Who am I compared with the Mystery of Great an Abiding Love?


Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Healing Curiosity of the Here and Now

Is Life a Train Track or a Living Spiral of Experience?
Sometimes I wonder:
What if this seemingly finite lifespan was the only eternity we have?
What if every moment was preserved and available to live again and again?

If we had the chance to relive our lives, would we focus on the outer circumstance or more and more on the inner experience of our perceptions and choices? 

If I lived my life over would I become more self-responsible for my experience? Would I become more skilled at transmuting my inner pain into something evolutionary or even something wonderful?  What about you, dear reader? Perhaps the questions can only be addressed with a Curiosity about what is really happening here and now?

What if This was it? 
What if we were each solely responsible for our own feelings and experience?

If this moment was forever, if I was owning and living my truth, I would shed my idea of being a victim. I'd be able to release the pain of someones verbal attack or forgetful nature. I'd be able to release the angst of regarding the consequences of seemingly fearsome and heavy circumstances. Maybe I'd even be more accepting of what appears to be real with my friends, family and society, without selling out as either a raging victim or a passive dreamer. Maybe I could transform my incredulous stare into a more loving and fruitful attention.

I might know that what I see in others is not so much the truth, but only my perception of truth.

I want to grow and become resilient and become my happiest self in loving prosperity. What about you? Isn't this a time to be curious about how to get what we really, really want beneath the drives, resentments and lusts of a reactive mind? Life can be hard and soft, bright and dreary, dreadful and dreamy only as much as we add particular labels to experience.

Rumi said something akin to "I'll meet you in a field beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing." What kind of field do we want to meet each other in? Is it a loving place? Or is it a reactive, sad, scared, mean place?

In the midst of these seemingly lonely and dangerous times where is your refuge?
If there were one action at this moment that could shift you into a state of safety and purpose, what would that be?

I come full circle with a sharing an outline of my experience right here as an example to learn from.
My Outer experience: 
Financial, health, family, vocational and security vexations all at once. And now writing to you.

Inner Experience:
Before Writing: Grasping for reasons and ways to fix my predicament.
After Writing (A daily practice): Curiosity, Compassion and even Connection with You.

What is your experience now?
What practice or distinct act could shift your inner gaze right now?
Is everything seemingly out there in the world reflecting your inner world or creating it?
If you are not going to change your experience then who?


(c) Copyright, Words and Image, Richard Sievers, January of 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Peering Into the Heart

I had a heart catheter procedure done this week. What an amazing experience to be awake and see a living picture of the inside of one's own heart in real time. I am especially grateful to be breathing freely and to share my life with you here. Here is a poem I wrote the next morning while recovering. To The Beloved, who is within everything:

Heart Catheter
Whoosh, Whoosh, Whoosh

I peered into your mystery,
the flesh cave where you live.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh
is your whispering song.

Your current, your flood called my true name.

I am spun in your eyes.
I am the fluttering wings of your tears.
I am at home inside you inside me.

Maybe this is the new day, Beloved?
Maybe this is the first day?
Maybe this is the last?
All I want is to be with you.

Circuits of dream are
depositing layer upon layer
of life enriching memory
within the walls of the secret labyrinth,
where we walk together,
where we fly in the morning light,
where we sing as the winged and the free.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

What am I searching for?
Who do I see in the darkness of my chest?

I found the place where you live.
In a dreamy haze I saw you!
With feather and fluttering mouth,
your dark secret revealed,
your longing alive in me,
beyond sense and convention.
Your song a flood within me.

The portal of our longing is
finally opened to the wide world.

Fly within me, Beloved.
Take me into your secret vows.
Love me in this sunny place.
Love me in the darkest place.

I faint.
I fall back.
I spin at your midnight touch.
I am lost in the veins.
I am red and salty.
I am found in living breath.
I am loved in the death of someday.

I am one wing of two,
arcing through the grace
of blood and bone.
I am this until the portal is open forever.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh…
Then I am everything you are.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, Image and Words, May 2016.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Still Point

Who Observes the Course of Your Life?

In my last blog entry I wrote about changing one’s mindset in the midst of personal challenges. I was writing with the intention of changing course and not just being a victim or a passive recipient, of fate. Now I wonder about another side of this mindset, a simpler side, a place to begin again and again.

· What if we were here just to experience what we experience?
· What if there is a space within each of us that is even simpler than acceptance of what is?
· Maybe, a still point seep inside of us that just observes?
· Some part of us that neither has to change nor has to blindly accept circumstance?

A personal example: For two months early this year I experienced big, broad happiness. A glorious treat! And then circumstances with family and the world began their ragged clawing at my heart. Down, now for two months, wanting to change my set of sails, wanting my boat to travel differently than the course of the mind.

Up, down, spun around, inert… such are the realities of mood and desire.

Yesterday, as I walked around Battle Ground Lake, I intuited (again) a still small voice in the wind. Instead of just walking, I had been busy in my mind making big decisions about how to proceed through some local family strife. Then the message came: “Wait”. Don’t do anything for a moment. I had been inside my head talking in imaginary conversations, then the message… “Wait, stop.” I looked at the trees shimmering in pearlescent greens. I observed the Blue Heron hunting her prey. I stopped.

Yet I knew that this message was not just about stopping what I was doing or even calming who I am. This “wait” is akin to the observer in meditation, the one who is always still, even in the movement of living. The yogis say that there is a still point inside all of us, a place that is no place at all, and a person that is all persons, and none at all.

OK, perhaps this sounds pretty esoteric. How do words describe something so simple? Here’s a view of the gist of this “wait”:

We experience what we experience, until change occurs.
· We are who we are, until we are not.
· We feel, act, and intuit what we do, until we don’t. 


I felt relief with this reality popping up as I walked. I no longer had to do anything to change my challenging situation. I longer had to change my thought patterns or behaviors to find peace. All I had to do was be in the still point at the center of myself. Even if I acted, or made a supposed mistake in my acting, I could still access this still place. No good, no bad, no praise, no blame, resides in that space.

The idea is so staggering simple: Just be here.

For long moments I knew something that is beyond even acceptance. I just was. If that sounds unclear then I say “Great, find your experience and see what is true for you in the moment.” Then that moment will move to another, like moments do.

For me, being a hyper sensitive type and one who has struggled with depression, the idea of waiting in the still place is just another key to continuing in life. In practical terms, meditation and creativity are my vehicles, my boat if you will, on this journey. What is your craft for  access the still point?

In the previous blog I used the analogy of sailboat and the wind as being body-mind. But this boat, and the wind, and the sails are only analogies set on an open sea. Perhaps it is the sea itself we can pay attention to. Perhaps, our individual personalities are but waves on the sea. Consider this possibility when struggles beset or pleasures ensue. We’re are each just a wave taking on a new form and then another new form. Then the form falls into the sea. Then we fall back into what/who we’ve always been.

The enlivening side effect of this idea has been that for moments, worry and judgement about the person/circumstance supposedly causing me distress just vanished. And that judgement and desire for changing that person is still gone. How can one wave judge another wave when we are just small part of the whole sea? And more than this, how can we so harshly judge ourselves now? And even if we do judge, it’s just part of the experience.



PS The Image is a life size+ pictograph from a canyon in Escalante, Utah, USA

(C) Copyright, Words and Image, Richard Sievers, April 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Winds of Fate


One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails,
And not the gales,
Which tell us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate;
As we voyage along through life:
'Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I’ve been wondering what do and how to proceed ever since our farm and our once upon a time dreams sold in December. I’ve been thinking about how life moves through changes of the weather inside events and feelings. I wonder about what choices we have in addressing those changes, what choices we have when life throws some wild winds at us.

Yesterday, I came upon this poem by the late Ella Wheeler Wilcox. She was a woman who wrote in the early 1900s from a place of new thought and inspired choices. She may sound idealistic to some when it comes to addressing life’s challenges. But then again, complaining and even resisting reality rarely accomplish anything of note. What about co-creating my reality with the Universe?

Yes, I feel afraid and sad. Yes, I feel a little lost. Now what? Set the sails differently. And maybe just see where the winds can take me.

Ms. Wilcox’s poem really says it all. But I also added today’s entry from my journal. I offer this to you not as way to demean or diminish whatever real feelings and struggles you may have. I offer this with hope that there are many ways Through whatever storms come upon this life and this world. I offer this not with knowing that “positive thinking” will change anything outside. Instead I am just musing about the only real freedom we may have in life, the freedom to choose how to address whatever confronts us. 
 Today, I started my journal entry as feeling sad, and then ended in another place altogether. I began the journal entry with asking myself: “What if I could be happy now, anyway?” And this is what came:

What if I claimed a Joy that opens the way through the losses?
I’m not talking about the smile of the psychic manipulator,
or the shrug that passively resists the reality of losses.
I’m not talking about the one who murders his own feelings
in order to sabotage the real gift of losses.
What I’m wanting is lasting Joy, the idiot savant smile
which rises no matter the weather of e-motions
swirling around the losses.

I’m talking about the talk inside that says:
“What the hell, might as well be grateful.
Might as well feel all my feelings.
Might as well know the warmth of the sun within me.
Might as well be grateful.”

Last year our farm was lost to us in a gale of consequences.
And this year it seems like it is me who was lost in a storm.
The life I thought I’d live is trailing away in the wind.
The life I yearn to live is only a point on the compass of my craft.
Might as well be with what is and set my sails according to the winds.
Steer my way into new headings.
And besides, what’s so wrong about being lost for a while?

If the winds are howling at the bow I can tack or heave-to for a time.
There is nothing wrong with respecting the might of a storm.
I have my craft, after all, this body and mind
which sail on an ocean of a thousand wind whipped sun sparkled cares.
I can set the sheets how I want to.
I can pull in genny and reef the main.
And when the storm rises I can smile.
I can open my mouth to the wind and the lashing of the rain.
I can be the idiot who screams to the wind:
“I am alive! I Am Alive!”

The bow leaps through rollers and fetch,
diving into the breathing mountain of sea,
then rising in glittering spray.
Behind us, the land we tilled and loved recedes from view.
The clinging to what’s lost moves further and further behind,
I become smaller and brighter in the wide open ocean.
For a moment the illusions are gone.
It’s just the craft, the human and the sea.
Soon, even the horizon is hidden in the gale.

The sea anchor is set out to calm the headlong rush into the swell.
The hatches are sealed to protect the warmth of the hearth.
The boom is arching to the lee and pulling me like a siren into the new world.
The hand moves past sadness and
the pen splashes the words I never imagined until now:
“I am free and I am alive.”


© Copyright Richard Sievers, March 2016, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moments of Stillness Later in Life

There comes at least one moment in life when one has the opportunity to break the bridge that binds one to the past and future, when one can live as present and be alive to all the senses. The moment may come in the guise of pain or happiness, at the moment of death, in the arms of a sweet lover or even as the result of a long season of personal development.

Maybe I am ready for my new life.
Maybe this is not a convenient time.
Maybe this is the best time.
Maybe I am still learning to be happy.
Maybe I am ready to be true to that one voice
      that sounds like my own,
      but is really the Song of the Universe in disguise.

OK, No More Maybes

I am giving up the sacks of stuff wedged in my garage, in my chest, in the shadows of my mind.

I set out now to write even One Simple Word so sumptuous
     that reading it would first slay your illusions
          that all the festering pain is lasting.
Then the sweetness of that word
would slay the you seen in the mirror of circumstance.
Then a single syllable would turn into a phrase of celestial music.
You would die with a smile upon your face.
Or better yet you would live within that state
     in a string of moments
         like notes of a song stretching out forever.

So, I work, I wait, I wonder, I feel...
all in service of reaching for that ideal-real word.

I reach for the ideal
   because the world needs the other side of reality
      missed in the pain body of
         what ifs, should haves and discarded passions.

What I am learning so far in my particular life:

· That service comes with the ascension of singing and the pain of crying.

· That trying to live without regret has consequences that instill a need to go deep deep deep into practicing the presence of the Creator.

· That relying on the material delusion to fulfill oneself is Purgatory.

· That love comes from many corners of one’s life, and is made visible when one is both present and willing to take the risk of being seen.

· That it is perfectly acceptable to know inexplicable joy in the middle of feeling sadness or even happiness.

· That unhealed anger clouds the stormy mind and rains sorrow upon the world.

· That pain is strident and restless, yet something greater, sweeter and lovelier lives within stillness.

· That all learning is subject to revision, growth and humility.

Sit with me and be still for moments… then for a few moments more. See what comes from behind the veil of sorrows. See what wants to be born Through you as acts of service to a world in need.


(c) Copyright Richard Sievers, February 10, 2016, All Rights Reserved