Falling Apart

“I always experience myself as falling apart.” ~ Leonard Cohen
*Quote found on cohencentric.com

To know that Leonard Cohen always felt that he was on the brink of emotional disaster gives me great comfort. Why? Because that is the true condition of every ego. There simply is no safe place for it.

When the suffering cuts all the way to the bone, something can be done. That is when the voice of wisdom peeks through the clouds of confusion and says “Give up. You have never solved anything by taking thought.”

And so you take to the ancient wisdom way. I have studied myself for years on end and found nothing to be helpful except the truth that leads to goodness. It is quite okay to fall apart, but the ego would have none of it.

All you can do is what you have always done and that doesn’t work. Now what?

Now is where you begin your first honest appraisal of yourself. Piece of junk, piece of garbage? No, you are nothing in and of yourself. Now who knows that but love itself. The love that hoists you up to the cross until you rise into higher awareness. This is lawful. This is love in action.

Die before you die. The ego ain’t buyin’ it. Die anyway.

Vicki Woodyard

Can a Cadillac Love a Ford?

Man is a machine. As Vernon Howard said, “How can a Cadillac love a Ford?” Until you study your every move, you will fight this truth. Once you begin to study how you and everyone else act, you understand this is a fact. Only knowing you are a machine can lift you into the “I am” awareness that Jesus taught his disciples.

I have to know how powerless I am in the face of other people. I have to know how frightened I am of their negativity towards me. And sleeping people are negative people.

The Work calls this “Man A studying Man B.” (The observer noticing how mechanical the ego is in its reactions to life.) And life is whatever situations you find yourself in. Vernon said, “There is no difference in a person and his life.”

I have been doing this inner work for many years now. Seemingly, little progress is ever made. But the essential man (or woman) is who is doing the work. Not the machine being observed.

Begin on the physical level. Watch how you snack to self-medicate. Watch how you play false in social conversations. Watch how angry you get when the slightest thing doesn’t go your way. This is true esoteric Christianity in action.

Everything in the New Testament is esoteric Christianity, which is not just for Christians. It is for anyone seeking to wake up from the dream that you can do anything without higher consciousness watching you. Oh, yes. It has always watched over you. But now you have realized that you must cooperate with it. This is a great mystery. Nothing worth its salt comes without a great price on it. That would be your self-love….

Vicki Woodyard

An Archetypal Kind of Guy

Thousands of us are fascinated by the fact that Leonard Cohen held such a deep hold on our hearts. I have often wondered why this is so. There is his physical beauty, his talent, his wit, his warmth and humanity, yet he was as flawed as any of us.

When he went on the Grand Tour, we were all able to follow him, thanks to the internet. Especially thanks to Allan Showalter and Jarkko Arjatsalo, who has pledged to keep Leonard’s work alive.

I would approach my Mac with excitement. First there were the photos of the dress rehearsals in L.A. Then the first shows in Europe. This went on for several years and our love for Leonard only grew deeper. I saw him twice at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I also flew to Amsterdam to see the last European show. The photo I chose to put on my bookcase is of him coming down the steps to the stage after taking his bows at Ziggo Arena there.

My small mind wonders how someone as great as Leonard could get sick and die like anyone else. He had robust good health for most of his life, notwithstanding his depressions. He said once that he had “a strong core.” Undoubtedly.

So when the first photos of a plainly ill Cohen were shown, it was not announced that he had leukemia. We don’t know which kind he had or whether he underwent treatment. We just read that he suffered great pain. The last photos helped us realize that he was indeed not immortal.

We had all hoped he would have more healthy years to share with all of us. We weren’t ready for the dream to die. Thankfully, it won’t. All of us continue to listen to his music and read about him. We are hungry for accounts of time spent with him. They are treasures to us now.

So yes, even Leonard Cohen could not escape suffering and death. It doesn’t seem right, somehow. He should have been granted immunity. I say that with a sense of humor and a sense of puzzlement, too. Couldn’t he have saved himself?

Obviously, he is an archetypal kind of guy. That is why he will live on and on and on. Maybe that’s better than we think it is. None of us will ever be disillusioned with him. None of us will ever rue the sweet tears we shed over his absence. There can be no memorial for Leonard, not really. Love just refuses to die.

Vicki Woodyard

Opportunities to Work on Yourself

l. When you doubt yourself.

2. When you doubt other people.

3. When you doubt God.

4. When you fear yourself, as in “what will I do next?”

5. When you fear others, as in “how will I protect myself from ‘them’?”

6. When you fear God, as in “I haven’t been good enough to pass muster with Him.”

7. When you grieve your losses.

8. When you fear the unknown, both within and without.

9. When you feel like giving up and giving in to all of the above.

10. When you feel like fighting against all of the above.

The ways to work on yourself are innumerable but there is only one thing to remember: Yourself!

Gurdjieff: Remember yourself always and everywhere. A tall order given by the man who invented The Work. The Work is based on esoteric Christianity. It is not non-duality. It requires serious study at first with someone who knows how to teach the Work. Vernon Howard was that teacher for me.

Now I have let it go in order to simply be. What remains in my consciousness is the path blazed by Mr. G. And Mr. Howard. Don Theo Paredes has appeared to lead me into energetic knowing. Love is the first step and the last step in learning to live the great mystery. Amen.

Vicki Woodyard

Reading the Book of Life

Rambling around the neighborhood, I took this photo of a young girl reading. It is never too late to read the book of life, for it is timeless, just as our essence is.

Although I am growing older, my essence is ever-young. It pauses to reflect on the moment that cannot be captured except by the heart.

Last night I sat with old family photos on my lap, realizing that reality is more than a bunch of pictures. Oh, they kindle some poignancy in me, but they cannot bring the past back to life.

Love lingers around me although I forget this most of the time. I think I am this body/mind and usually rue how it is doing. Silly me.

Fall is doing its job of housecleaning. The leaves spin as they fall to the deck and backyard. Someone said to watch a single leaf falling can be ecstatic. Might as well give it a try.

Theo asks me to locate where the sense of “I am” is located in the body. I don’t have an answer for that, of course. Might as well ask me to locate love.

Vicki Woodyard

By the Grace of God

I saw Theo on Monday afternoon. He looked wonderful, having lost quite a bit of weight since I saw him in June. I asked if it was on purpose and he said, “I was having some foot pain and the doctor thought it might be from pressure on the sciatic nerve.”

Our connection is profound. What else can I say? We chatted for a few minutes. I told him about finding the many hawk feathers. I had brought one to show him and asked him what he thought it meant. “Connection with higher energies” was his answer.

He worked on me in silence, clearing my body of what needed to go. An hour with him is worth more than a two-week vacation.

At the end of the session, he reminded me that he still hoped I would visit him in Peru. “I’m scared,” I confessed. He knows that, of course; that is why he thinks it important for me to come.

“I think of you often,” I told him.

“Sometimes I sense a presence around me and then I think, “Oh, that’s Vicki!” He said. This is not the first time someone has told me I visited them, usually at night. Many years ago a mystic told me that I liked to visit with people astrally, just to hang out and talk about spiritual things. I thought that was far-fetched until one or two people reported me doing just that.

“I think of calling you, but there is really nothing to say,” I told him.

“You can call me just to say hello,” he said. And he means it.

It is by the grace of God I was put in touch with this man and every day finds me grateful. Whether or not it finds me in Peru is another story.

Vicki Woodyard

You Have Loved Enough

I just got in from a lovely evening walk around the neighborhood. The words to Leonard Cohen’s Song, “You Have Loved Enough” now come to mind. I am thinking how it is time for me to accept the fact that indeed, I have done enough down here on Planet Earth. Resting seems like a mighty fine idea.

On my walk, I saw my next-door neighbor standing at the top of his driveway with a cooler. He was dressed in white paint-spattered jeans and a T-shirt. I kidded him, “Are you off to catch fish for dinner?” I said. Turns out he had just gotten home from painting a mural in downtown Atlanta. He’s not through yet; this was his first day. He’s an artist and I love having him and his wife living next door. In the past, I might not have told him so, but now I did. Not only that, I asked for a hug.

On down the street I resume thinking about the fact that perhaps this is a time in life for me to rest. I stop to chat with another neighbor that is in a wheelchair. Her companion dog was with her. I brought up the subject of my thoughts. She looked bemused. She is an attorney, currently working on a project, so I am sure she is not old enough or idle enough to follow my line of thought. But we enjoyed the chat and now I am back at the Mac.

Here is what Leonard himself had to say about the song’s meaning:

‘You have loved enough, now let me be the lover.’ You could say that God is speaking to you – or the cosmos, or your lover. It just means, like, forget it. Lean back and be loved by all that is already loving you. It is your effort at love that is preventing you from experiencing it.”

I know he is right. The world would have us believe otherwise. It would keep us in the rat race of pseudo-pursuits until the day we drop dead in our tracks.

Memo to myself: Listen to Leonard Cohen. He’s never steered you wrong yet.

Vicki Woodyard


Rob and I both had sessions with Theo Paredes yesterday. Here we are having an early dinner afterwards. As usual, Theo was the epitome of enlightenment. We laughed a lot. “Remember I said that you were my teacher?” I asked him. And he said yes. “Well,” I said, giggling, “you don’t teach me anything. That’s why you are my teacher.” And we both laughed.

Oh, he works on my body and drops in some simple comments like “Take 12 to 15 deep breaths each morning.” Or try to locate the “I am” in your body. Where is it?”

It’s all so simple and yet so powerful. He tells me I am spirit-filled and I show him one of the hawk feathers that have fallen into my yard. “What does that mean?” I asked him. “It means you are in higher consciousness now,” he said.

He still wants me to visit him in Peru. “I’m afraid,” I said. He knows that, of course. All he says is that an 85-year-old man visits him and has no problems.

When I say he is with me all the time, his comment is that sometimes he senses somebody around him and just says, “Oh, that’s Vicki!”

I will end this by saying on my first session with Theo he took away the majority of my grief. You could have knocked me over with a feather. He offers to give me the hawk feather back and I say, “No, you keep it. I have lots more at home.”

After Rob and I left the restaurant, I looked up and saw a cloud that resembled a long-legged man. A nice touch to a loving afternoon.

Vicki Woodyard