Sunday, January 31, 2016

Feeding Your Demons

Minor ashram challenges:
The other day I returned to my hut to find that everything I brought has been invaded by ants—there were thousands of tiny red ants swarming over my clothes, my toiletries, my suitcases (inside and out), my tuning forks, etc. Given that I don’t kill insects, it took many hours to bring everything outside and de-antify each item one by one. The solution, I found, was to give the ants something sweet to eat and bless them on their busy little journeys. It was fascinating to watch the ant armies rapidly change course, racing off my new ‪#‎FabIndia‬ scarf toward the tiny piece of banana I’d offered. This summer, I’ll be taking my first “Feeding Your Demons” workshop with Lama Tsultrim Allione at Tara Mandala. This little exercise in feeding my “invaders” felt like a sample of the larger work to come.

It's been a unique birthday...starting with archana,

It's been a unique birthday...starting with archana, then tea, then sunrise, then some unsettling emails, followed by sitting onstage with Amma and handing prasad to Amma, then lunch, then a quick rehearsal for my song offering at darshan this coming Thursday, then a walk and a blazing sunset, followed by a dharma talk and, finally, some private time at the Kali shrine, where I asked her to help settle what has been unsettled. I know we are all born for "a reason" but sometimes I still have to search for what that reason is. My hope is that my birth has been a gift to this world--not a curse. And so, as I get ready for bed here in India, I return to my Bodhisattva vow:

May I be a guard for all those who are protector-less,
A guide for those who journey on the road,
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.
~ Shantideva

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Monks playing kit drums in my dreams...

I always have interesting dreams after White Tantric Yoga and the 3HO Winter Solstice retreat. I also usually have interesting dreams around the time of the full moon. This year it was a double whammy, with the full moon occurring just after the solstice. Before I get to the dream: in my waking life I have been a bit worried, off and on, about the intensity of the drums—that would be the full-kit drums—on one of the tracks on my kirtan album‪ #‎BeyondTheBeyond‬, which launches on 2/5/16. The track is “Om Namah Shivaya and the drums, at times, sound a bit Keith Moon. There is a longer story behind that (which will eventually be up on the website), and I should state here that I adore ‪#‎KeithMoon‬ and his frenetic, masterful drumming and the constant fills. But does a Moonie belong on a kirtan CD? That’s what my worry-mind sometimes wonders (until my wiser mind reminds the worry-mind to let things be). So imagine my delight when I dreamed that one of the younger Khenpos at the monastery where I practice was playing a full drum kit during an intense Buddhist puja. He was whaling away on the drums and having a blast, and the puja was as powerful as ever. This confirmed to me something we all know but continually forget. That every sound is sacred as long as the intention is there to make it sacred. I felt that Khenpo was reminding me that the “Om Namah Shivaya” track was blessed. Is blessed. And all is well, well, well. 
‪#‎3HO‬ ‪#‎3HOWinterSolstice‬ ‪#‎WhiteTantricYoga‬ ‪#‎dreams‬ #beyondthebeyond ‪#‎spiritvoyagerecords‬

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Honoring our incarnations....from the Kerala Chronicles

When I started packing for my first trip to India a few weeks ago, I began to think about my spiritual origins.  Even though I was raised as a Catholic, from a very young age I was always yearning for a system of spirituality (and why I use the word "system" I cannot explain) that would make sense to me.  That yearning has led me along many beautiful paths, including the path I walk today, which I call "mostly Buddhist." (In Woodstock we're called Hindu-Bu or BuHindhist). As I was packing for the trip and closing up the Florida cottage, I had to take all the images off my traveling altar and tuck them away. As I took down the images of Christ and Mary, I said to them: "Don't worry. I am not leaving you. I am just going home, to India."

"And how," the Inner Voice of Reason countered, "can 'home' be India if you were born in Massachusetts?"

Clearly, Reason does not believe in reincarnation.  Good thing we don't listen to Reason too much :)

Anyway, I believe in honoring one's incarnation, and this time around I was born into a Catholic family. So be it. When I arrived at our retreat center in Kerala and stepped out of my little cottage on the first morning, I was delighted to notice that I was situated right next to a tiny Catholic church. Here's a picture of it, just over the wall of our compound. The presence of this tiny church, so close by, seems like a beautiful little in-joke between me and my first Teacher: when you honor your incarnation, your incarnation honors you. 
#keralachronicles #@EM_Harrington #beyondthebeyond