Breathing between thoughts

Or at least speaking them out loud.

Mars in Virgo is squaring my Gemini stellium at the moment, and will do so three times in the next few months. Mercurial thoughts are racing fast and furious — only I forget that thinking aloud doesn’t always communicate what I’m feeling to others. And thinking my frustrations aloud just makes things worse.

As Mars prepares to retrograde in a few weeks for nearly four months, my note to self is to take a breath between each thought, if not literally, then metaphorically. And stay the quip, the tongue lash, the Martian urge to insist that what I think must ‘count’.

Image: Hieronymus Bosch, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things (1485) (Wikimedia Commons)

Do what you’re doing when you’re doing it

Large scale natural (and man-made) disasters, like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, often drive people to come up with ‘explanations’ for why these events happen. Like the response to the tsunami disaster that struck the countries in the Indian Ocean in 2004, I’ve come across a few claims that the ’cause’ of the suffering in Japan today is the ‘result’ of a collective national karma for its past. Depending on which you read, accounts range from their misdeeds during WWII, to their failure to take care of the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki! All of which I personally find pretty outrageous, and the reason why I’m not linking to them — in the age of the Internet, they’re easy enough to find if you’re inclined to look.

I don’t claim to know whether or not it is a collective karma at work. It may well be so, I can’t say. What I’m more intrigued by is the audacity of any one person to claim to know such a thing. I don’t feel particularly well versed in any of the theologies that support the concept of karma, but from my own fledgling and intermittent Buddhist studies, I’ve picked up a sense that the notion of karma, at least in the Buddhist tradition, is far more complex, layered and ineffable to be so crudely applied.

Read more of this post

On the verge of … verging

The title of this post came from a comment by my astro-blogging friend, Neeti Ray. I was trying to describe the weird sense of limbo I’m feeling that I can’t shake, like being on the verge of something that hasn’t yet manifested, and she wrote: ‘On, the verge of, verging’. Perfect! My original title was going to be ‘How to be in two places at once’.

As Venus opposes Pluto this weekend, continuing to put pressure on my own natal Venus-Pluto square, my thoughts turn to how one might process, or, indeed, metabolise, pain. With her customary bluntness, Lucy describes Venus’ recent ingress into Cancer as being akin to putting a ‘Band Aid on a gunshot wound’. It made me think again about the nature of Plutonian pain. And then there is what Elizabeth Spring describes as the ‘core pain’ of Neptune (no doubt accentuated by its conjunction to Chiron). If Plutonian pain is like a gunshot wound, I’d say Neptunian pain is like a bruising — you don’t notice it at first, until you accidentally press on it, or bump into the furniture again!

Read more of this post

Day before the solar eclipse: Home retreat

964098_lighthouse Sitting on the bus on the way home from work this evening, it occurred to me that I would do a day retreat at home tomorrow, the day before the much anticipated Solar Eclipse in Cancer. For once, I’m going to put aside my guilt of never doing enough work (Sun-Merc-Saturn in the 6th house), and plan a day of meditation and yoga, a day of replenishment and reminders of what nourishes.

Call it a renewal ritual, if you like, given all that has been said of this eclipse as one of coming to terms with the past, of releasing old emotional baggage, and transmuting old hurts into future promise.

Read more of this post

‘Active laziness’

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (1992) is an interpretation for the modern world by Sogyal Rinpoche a collection of texts commonly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Sogyal Rinpoche interprets some of the ideas from the ancient texts for the modern world, and argues that the lack of respect for death in the modern world prevents us from living life to its fullest potential. This is not, however, license for hedonism, to do what you like, ‘cos we’re all dying anyway’. It is, in fact, a call for more responsible living, rather than less. Death is a fact of life, and death is encountered in every facet of life, not just the physical — we may experience the death of an idea, the death of a relationship, a feeling, a way of life, and so on. In other words, death speaks to impermanence. The death of our physical bodies is just one aspect of that process.

Read more of this post

Grateful for zazen

862412_hand_of_buddha The past few months have been rather trying, and while I can easily point to Pluto (see past few posts), ‘blaming’ the transits is missing the point. Life happens. Learning about Pluto is a means of understanding what’s happening. A means of coping with it is practice.

Read more of this post

Doing enlightenment

warnercover I just finished reading Brad Warner‘s Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. He has an easy, conversational style and I managed to finish it in about a day and a half.

Basically Warner presents a no-nonsense view of life as a Zen teacher and cuts through the hypocrisy of the construction of Zen practice as airy-fairy and lost in the clouds. Using his own experience of death, divorce, punk rock and Japanese monster movies, he takes the reader through a hard-nosed account of how even Zen teachers can have a hard life like everyone else, and struggle with suffering like everyone else. Zen teachers are not above suffering, if anything, they face it even more squarely in the face. The humour and self-deprecation in his account makes it totally believable, and sympathetic, and in many ways a positive reminder that Zen is about doing, as much as it is about being.

Read more of this post

Pluto transits: Bearing witness

617094_melting_hearts_3 One of the hardest things to do during one’s own Pluto transits, as well as others’, is to learn to bear witness to the transformation without judgement.

Here are two enormously insightful articles: Elizabeth Spring’s ‘Healing Pluto’s Wounds’, and Radiant Woman’s ‘Five Ways to Use Pluto Square Pluto Positively’.

The only thing I can think to do, apart from psychotherapy, is to keep practising, to keep being aware, and to learn to bear witness to that which is changing in me alchemically, and to stay aware of that change without trying to control it, and without judgement over what results may follow. Easier said, than done, of course, but there aren’t too many other options.

Read more of this post

Oh, wait… what happened to no-self?

Okay… So if there’s no-self, then there’s no-self to be broken and put back together, none to be lost or found.

All is perfect.

But there is room for improvement. (to misquote Suzuki Roshi slightly)

Clearly.

More to ponder, and practise.

Having lost sight of our goals, we re-double our efforts!

591521_mandala21
I was listening this morning to a talk by Mark Lesser on ‘Doing Less’ (dated 1 March 2009), hosted on the San Francisco Zen Center website. He mentioned one of those pithy Zen sayings:

Having lost sight of our goals, we re-double our efforts.

Read more of this post

Venus retrograde: Reassessing what you value

These are tense times. Scanning the headlines on the Huffington Post makes me dizzy, anxious, and mildly depressed. Trying to fix the world is important, but perhaps the only way to do that is to look within and fix ourselves, if ‘fix’ is even the right word.

Read more of this post

If you build it, they will come

Nearly 20 years after its release, the signature phrase from Field of Dreams (1989) has entered the popular consciousness. Its message of hope and optimism may seem rather naive, or relevant (depending on one’s inclination), given the madness that we seem to be embroiled in today.

Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers

%d bloggers like this: