Tag Archive: spirituality


Inspired by the caves on the Mediterranean coast of Israel near Lebanon.

Inspired by the caves on the Mediterranean coast of Israel near Lebanon.

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I have come to the last known insight of the Celestine Prophecy:  the 9th insight. The text for this insight is not quite complete and it alludes to a 10th insight. It speaks of a higher purpose for humankind, a spiritual purpose: to continue reaching higher and higher vibrational levels until we are able to cross between this world and the next, until we become light beings. It seems those who wrote this prophecy did just that, leaving the text uncompleted. We reach these higher levels of vibrational energy by learning to give energy to all those around us rather than take. The more energy we give the more we find energy flows into us from the universe.

Will we be able to enter and leave freely from this world and the next? This is what I wonder. If all those who learn of the insights and learn to continually give energy rather than take cross to another world and do not return then who will guide those left? Perhaps this is what the 10th insight is about. It seems there is still much work to be done in this world.

This year has given me a glimpse of another way to live. It’s a way of living where the earth is your mother and your teacher and you are guided by a deep trust in the mystery. It is a way to live in the Now, knowing that life is a dance with death and that death is always followed by new life. This is the cycle of creation. With this wisdom one can regain innocence, a wise innocence, an innocence that comes with having looked death in the eye and found that life always follows. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Woman who Run with the Wolves, says that in Spanish, inocente is understood to mean a person who tries not to harm another but who also is able to heal herself of all wounds. To be innocent is different than to be naive. The naive unknowingly is attracted to the good, the innocent has seen all and is still attracted to the good. La Inocenta is the name often given to a curandera healer, one who heals others and themselves of all injury or harm. Innocence requires wisdom. Children who have that wise innocence perhaps still remember the death that preceded their birth.

And so the Sufi prayer goes, “Shatter my heart so a new room can be created for a Limitless Love.”

How do I bring this wise innocence with me back to the other side? How do I not forget and stay connected to the magic and the mystery? How do I share it with those who wish to know? And how do I tread lightly on this earth, leaving only footsteps, but footsteps that last on the heart, soul, and mind of humanity?

And so this story comes to an end and a new one begins.

My family is a beautiful blend of east and west. My mother is Japanese and grew up there. But of my two parents I would have to call her the more practical, logical, and goal oriented one, qualities I associate with a more westernized civilization. Yet she maintains a zen like serenity to her and often surprises me with her intuitive insights. My father, born to a family of New York Jews, took an interest in eastern religions and philosophy at a young age and has actively explored many spiritual and mystical paths throughout his life. Both are incredibly creative with their own distinctive styles.

Until recently I would say I found myself to be more similar to my mother in my way of approaching things—I tended to be a bit skeptical of spiritual, mystical, and ethereal ideas, desiring proof of things before I would except them. I was drawn more to the disciplines of science and mathematics for most of my schooling as well. That is why building attracted me: it is concrete, functional, and tangible. Although this year has been about exploring natural and alternative building I have somehow, subtly, inadvertently also been taken on an unexpected spiritual journey. A journey that is hard to put into words and not in any way tangible. Recently I find myself seeing meaning where before I may have seen none, and I follow my intuition even when it seems to lack or even contradict logical rationalization. It’s a different way of thinking, but I find myself intrigued and at peace with it, at least for the time being. I haven’t quite yet figured out where all of it is leading me but I trust that it is taking me somewhere of some importance. I find myself surrendering to the mystery.

Soon I return home, to family and old friends. The moon is almost full. It is a time when intuitive powers are strong. What will the last week of this chapter in my journey bring?

A Lasqueti Story: Part 6

 The fifth insight tells us that the universe has all the energy we need if only we can open up to it. Opening up to it requires coming from a state of love.

Mark works more like an artist attacking a canvas than like a builder following architectural drawings. He responds to what he sees and feels as he builds, planning basic concepts and structure but open to being inspired as he creates. And he seems to be deeply connected to some creative energy source as his process is fluid and easy.  Perhaps it is all the meditation, Tai Chi, and contact improvisation dance he does. All these practices require being connected to an energy, whether that be a cosmic energy, your own energy, or the energy of your dance partner.

I haven’t been home now for eight months or so. But my travels have also kept me in North America. And yet I feel like these eight months have taken me further from home then any trip I have taken to Bolivia or Japan. My way of looking at the world feels like it is shifting, and with it so are my goals and aspirations. My mind seems to see and think differently now. This year has been a spiritual journey just as much as any other kind of journey. Will home still feel like home? Or will I feel lost and like no one speaks my language?

It seems the world has conspired around me to show me on this year that a different way of living is possible. But this different way requires a total paradigm shift. We are talking of a world not based on consumption or competition. We are talking of a world where wealth is not measured by how much money you have in the bank or by material assets but by a myriad of other things, such as social connections, knowledge of plants, animals, and the land, skills you can barter or trade with, and things like spiritual knowledge. How do I share my experiences with people living in a different paradigm?

I know some will think I have lost touch with reality, but to them I ask who makes your reality? Is it not you? I think what this year has taught me, more then anything else, is that we all have more control then we think. We have the ability to tell our own stories, thereby creating our own paradigms and creating our own worldview, choosing on any given day whether or not to feel happy. Do not mistake me though, this does not mean that we should choose to be happy every day. There are things that deserve our anger and times when we need to feel sad. Recognizing this need and allowing this feeling is, in itself, a choice. But by choosing not to resist these emotions we no longer are a slave to them, and we can begin to see the ever changing quality of these emotions. This is the teaching of Buddha: Anicca—Everything changes.

The sixth insight talks of a control drama that each of us have. This drama was created in early childhood and is repeated unconsciously throughout our lives. If we become conscious of it we can free ourselves of this need to control and then we will begin to find the higher purpose in our lives.

Mark left today for a short overnight trip to Vancouver to pick up some tongue and groove wood to complete the dance floor, so it is just me holding down the fort until tomorrow evening. I start my day by reading a bit more of Celestine Prophecy.

The Third Insight describes a new understanding of the physical world. It says we humans will learn to perceive what was formerly an invisible type of energy. In other words, the basic stuff of the universe, at its core, is a kind of pure energy that is malleable to human intention and expectation in a way that defies old mechanistic models of the universe. It’s as though our expectation itself causes our energy to flow out into the world and affect other energy systems.

I flash back to the healing work my grandmother does and the little bit about auras and energy work that I was reading and learning while staying with her six or so months ago.

So yes, much of this stuff isn’t new, but the idea that enough of us might be having these insights at the same time to actually cause a global shift now, in the early part of the 21st century… That is exciting.

The sun is starting to feel warm and I am ready to leave this wind sheltered structure. I decide to take a walk down the road and try to find Dave’s place. He is a cob builder on the island. I am not quite sure how to get there, especially since the directions I received from Dave, who I met briefly yesterday, and those I received from Mark seem to be a bit different. But I decide I will try my luck, as I want to go for a walk anyway.

As I walk briskly, I realize that all of Lasqueti’s roads seem to be dirt roads. I don’t think I have seen a single paved one yet. I recall yesterday, backing down one particularly bumpy dirt road with Mark to pick up some logs and him saying jokingly, “I think you would have to go to Northern Pakistan to find a lifestyle like this.” His comment may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but a lot about this island feels more like places I have been in rural Bolivia then anywhere in the industrialized world. And the amazing thing is most of the people living here left an urban, more modern lifestyle and chose this one. Mark has made very clear that it is, indeed, a lifestyle choice, and that it takes work to live here, but for him and the others on this island the rewards are well worth it.

With no watch and no cell service on this island I am not sure how long I have been walking, but it has been a pleasant, quiet walk on these dirt roads. I have come across piles of sand and clay, which must mean cob is nearby. Indeed, there is a little footpath, which I follow to a cluster of cob structures.

Dave is at work in a cob greenhouse, hanging some laundry out to dry. But he welcomes me and says he was about to take a break for lunch and asks if I will join him. Over a simple, but yummy meal of soup and crackers we begin to talk. Dave is a gentle man of probably mid forties who is in the process of moving from Vancouver to the island with his 7 year old daughter.

Soon we are talking about Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, and Taker and Leaver Societies. I share a bit about Celestine Prophecy, which alludes to a similar need for a shift in worldview but attacks it from a more spiritual angle. Dave shares of another book called the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff that looks at two tribes basically living untouched by modern civilization. He tells me how the author, after living a few years with these tribes, concluded that there was something different about these people. It took her a while to put her finger on it but eventually she realized it was that they were happy. And so she spent the rest of her life figuring out and synthesizing what allowed them to be happy in a way that she rarely saw in modern society. The book explains her conclusions.

These books and other experiences have led Dave to make a conscious, political decision to try and not feed or support the current system, which he has judged as dysfunctional, and instead look to an alternative. This island and cob building seem to be part of his solution.

I ask him if he ever lived in any intentional communities and how he finds living on the island similar or different to living in these communities. He thinks for a bit. Then responds that that he appreciates the question and that yes, he has lived in a few intentional communities and in his experience they didn’t work because there was still a power structure and those in power would end up wanting to keep that power. After a pause, he added, “It’s ironic, the people on this island seem to come seeking independence, but they end up inadvertently creating community.” Perhaps it is that once their own needs for independence, self-sufficiency, and happiness are met, they have more to give others?

The Fourth Insight exposes a human tendency to steal energy from other humans by controlling them because we so often feel depleted of energy due to being disconnected from the larger source of energy. We are stuck in a kind of competition for each other’s energy, which we gain by controlling and manipulating each other.

So I am back in Seattle now for thanksgiving week with my old babysitter, Penny. We have been having a wonderful time here, eating delicious food, going on walks even when we have liquid sunshine (what Penny calls the rain), and other fun outings. My first full day in Seattle Penny took me to the Ballard farmers market. I love a farmer’s market just about anywhere, but I must say the Ballard market is quite a nice one. There was delicious fresh produce, meats and cheese, baked goods, artisans and crafts and lots of street performances happening. One that particularly touched my heart was a young little boy who could not have been older then 8 who was out playing music with his father and younger sister. As his father tuned some of the other instruments this little boy took the stage and began to strum and sing on his miniature guitar. What a beautiful thing to have such a little child empowered to stand in front of an audience of strangers and play. And the passersby loved it. This little eight year old boy was truly glowing.

After exploring the Ballard market we took the bus downtown to Pike Market, Seattle’s equivalent to Quincy Market  in Boston. Tons of little shops and stands selling everything from chocolate pasta (yes, I’m serious) to lobster tails bigger then any I have ever seen. And of course there was the famous tossing of fish that draws many tourists and made me think of the scene in the movie Free Willy when Jesse steals a fish from the market mid toss. Streets markets are a wonderful thing in my mind. They support small, independent businesses and allow customers to have actual relationships with those whom they buy from. They are such lively places and encourage human interaction and cultural exchange.

A few highlights from downtown were a man who was playing a violin as if it were a cello (and he played it as beautifully as any master violin player!), beautiful paper and wood lanterns that demonstrated outstanding craftsmanship, and a delicious sticky rice lunch with yummy goodies inside of it such as pork and egg. A very good first full day in Seattle.

Wednesday night, the evening before Thanksgiving day I got to introduce Penny to something new in her own town; Dances of Universal Peace. Dances, as I have come to call them are a wonderful thing that happens all around the world. I discovered them first in Ithaca, when Peter took me to one, and I have since been hooked. The dances, although originating in the sufi tradition, takes songs and prayers from almost every tradition and culture and puts them to music, adding simple movements that together create a often spiritual and profound experience. It is like prayer and meditation in motion. And it is a worldwide community that I can tap into just about anywhere I go. Singing together in a group has always felt powerful to me and when the songs have a certain prayer-full theme in makes the experience that much more profound. Sometimes I have found myself inexplicably moved to tears. In Ithaca the dances quickly became a comforting and healing monthly tradition for me and as I have been traveling I have have continued to seek them out wherever I am.

The next day was thanksgiving day and so Penny and I spent most of it in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing, which would be our three major contributions to our thanksgiving dinner. Penny is an excellent cook and eats mostly gluten and dairy free and these were quite special dishes that I would love to share the recipes for. I have put most of our modifications to these recipes to make them gluten free and extra yummy in parenthesis:

Stuffing Recipe for a 15 pound turkey:

  • 2 one pound loafs of whole wheat bread, finely chopped in a food processor (we substituted with Udi’s gluten free bread and a mixture of other gluten free breads, such as ends of old loafs of homemade pumpkin, banana, or even corn bread.)
  • 2 cups of cooked basmati brown rice
  • 3/4 pound of italian sausage, baked separately (we used chicken sausage), finely chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • 2 cups of chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 large fuji apples with skins on, grated (this helps keep the stuffing moist)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sage (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning (to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Turkey preparation: We then stuffed this into the back and front of the turkey. Before seasoning the turkey we separated the skin from the flesh using our fingers and then we rubbed the flesh (under the skin) with fresh rosemary and thyme and stuck many thin slices of lemon under the skin. We rubbed the skin with a bit of apple cider vinegar and then we salt and peppered the outside of the Turkey and stuck it in the oven in a covered roasting pan at 350 degrees F. After about an hour we lowered the heat to 325 for the remainder of the time. The last wonderful touch that makes the skin deliciously crispy is about half an hour before done baking we took the turkey out and brushed it with a glaze of Pomegranate Molasses.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe, with Penny’s modifications to make it lower in fat and lactose free:

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (we left this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (we used unsweetened soy milk instead)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (we replaced this with 0% greek yogurt. I couldn’t taste a difference)
  • Penny’s addition which I thought was ingenious: finely chopped crystalized ginger, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.

All of this is mixed together and poured into a pie filling of your choice. We also glazed our pie crust with apricot glaze made from 5 ounces of apricot preserves and 4 tables spoons of apricot brandy. This is then baked for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F and then for another 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Then, to top this all off there is  topping that is spread on the pie. The topping ingredients are:

  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (we used earth balance instead)
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream (here we used soymilk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (we left this out since earth balance has salt in it)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

This deliciousness is spread evenly on the top of the pie and then the edge is bordered with whole pecans. We then broil this for just about three minutes or until the topping begins to bubble. Be careful not to burn here, it really only takes a minute or two!

I really enjoyed thanksgiving dinner, which was at Derek and Tony’s house- two of Penny’s good friends. Tony had made some delicious candied sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and string beans, among other things to add to our contributions. Thanks giving has always been my favorite holiday; it is all about family, friends and food without the stress of presents.

Tonight I whirled. Spinning and spinning and spinning. I was a witness to the whole world as I spun from that one point. That center of gravity that held me and the world. Light came in through my right hand and love came out from left. Like a dust cloud covering me and everything in it’s path with a fine coating of compassion. Tomorrow I will paint my whirling.

(written on 10/21/2011)

Whirling (Watercolor)

October 24th, 2011

Here is the whirling picture that came. It is not quite what I expected, and perhaps is not exactly a “whirling” picture, but I think in many ways it embodies my ideal whirling; a spontaneous whirl that begins slow, complete with a bit of natural wildness.

The wanderer in the cocoon

Recently I have been wandering. Wandering geographically as well into the depths of my own mind, soul and heart. School, a place I used to love and thrive in, became a prison whose purpose it seemed was keep me from wandering. Everything I knew myself to be; a good student, confident and socially adept and involved, a leader in in world of extracurriculars, seemed in question suddenly. I found myself wanting to retreat, isolating myself  and wishing I could escape all the obligations and responsibilities of academia and society. And I hated feeling this way. I beat up on myself, trying to make myself go out and stay engaged, and yet the more I tried the more I knew I did not want to be there.

Asking my parents if I could take time off from college was one of the hardest things I have ever done. When I finally mustered the courage to ask they were receptive (thank god!) but getting there was a long, hard path of facing many of my demons and fears. My fear of being that college dropout, of not finishing what I started (I only have 1 more semester and then I will have my degree! How could I stop now?), of disappointing my parents, of disappointing myself! But something inside of me was screaming with an urgency, an urgency that I did not quite understand, telling me I needed to be free to wander.

Now, it is October of my year off. My classmates have resumed classes, I will not graduate a semester early in December, but the world has not fallen apart. In fact, I feel a huge weight lifted off me, and I feel myself expanding and growing in profound ways as I am allowed to explore my own depths at y own pace. And, I think I will go back and finish my degree, but I know that for now I made the right decision to take a year off. And in a society where “soul searching” is not always recognized as a valuable and legitimate thing to be doing with ones time, I am incredibly grateful that my family and community was and is able to support me in my decision

Although at this point I do not feel a need for outside validation of my decision, a recent book I have picked up has helped me understand my own need to wander and put things in perspective. The book is called Nature and the Human Soul and is written by Bill Plotkin. In this book, Plotkin, who is a a depth psychologist and wilderness guide, proposes a development model for healthy human development. Reading about his model, which is a circular model of development that is eco and soulcentric, I feel like my own trials and tribulations, as well as my own gut feelings about what is healthy and what I need has been fully validated. Reading his book has given me insight and understanding to why nature, both our own and the that of the earth, is so important for healthy human development. And it has also helped me understand some of the causes for much of the destruction and dysfunction I see around me. Plotkin skillfully explains the egocentric society that dominates today, where the primary objective is socioeconomic gain for the individual while also illustrating a viable alternative for moving towards an eco-soulcentric society where each individual manifests their own unique purpose in the world and acts from a place of deep connection to the whole world or cosmos. What a beautiful and in many ways simple idea! That a mature person would be acting not for the benefit of just the individual but for the whole world! And yet it seems this is not what most so called adults in our world are doing.

But I think things are shifting. Lately it seems that everywhere I go people are talking of and doing their part in The Great Turning, although they may not call it that. To my knowledge, Joanna Macy was the first to coin this phrase, but it is now being used by many across the globe. To me, the work that Plotkin is doing does much to address the third stage of the great turning; a global shift in consciousness. Without this shift actions to slow or call attention to the damage we are doing, such as the occupy wall street movement (which I fully support), or even education and analysis of the causes of this destruction will only take us so far in healing our planet, and therefore our people. We need to also look inward and do our own inner work.

This is what the 4th stage in Plotkin’s developmental work, the wanderer in the cocoon, is all about. This stage is also what Plotkin sees as the transition stage to becoming a true, mature adult.

Here is one passage from Bill Plotkin’s book describing the quest of the wanderer:

“The Wanderer (of any chronological age) seeks to discover her ultimate place in life. Not just any place will do… It’s got to be her place, one that is in keeping with her vital core. It’s a place defined not by the deeds she performs but by the qualities of soul she embodies; not by her physical, social, or economic achievements but by the true character she manifests; neither by her capacity to conform to the masses, nor by her ability to creatively rebel against the mainstream, but by the unique way she performs her giveaway for her community. Her ultimate place is identified not by any social forms or roles but, rather by the symbols, stories, and archetypes unearthed from the deep structure of her psyche and by the way the world invites her to belong to it.” (pg. 251-252, Nature and the Human Soul)

I am blessed to feel that I have reached this stage. As I read this book I know that my family and community has allowed me to fully experience not only this stage, but the three stages before largely from an eco-soulcentric place and I am grateful for that as well.

I have not completed reading this book and I may write another entry when I have, but as of now I feel quite strongly that for anyone feeling lost and confused in this world, or questioning the way things are, whether they are young or old I would highly recommend Nature and the Human Soul. And for parents or anyone working with children or youth or even in just any position of guidance and mentorship, perhaps even to adults, this is, in my opinion, one of the most important books you could read. I am certainly glad I am reading it for myself and long before I have my own children. It will definitely shape how I choose to raise them.

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