I watched Winnebago Man over the weekend and realized how alike we all are. You might as well call me Winnebago Woman, for my writing often serves as a confessional for me. In case you aren’t familiar with the Winnebago Man, he did an industrial film for Winnebago back in the eighties in which he cussed like a sailor. They were filming in Iowa and it was hot and there were flies and he was in way, way over his head. Someone found the outtakes of that film and passed them around the country because they were so funny. He was @!*!! all over the place.
And so it was with me when my husband was ill. One day a neighbor stopped me in the street to ask how I was doing. I used the F word the first time in my life. It felt good. It felt totally appropriate to where I was. I had no family in town but my son, my husband was dying, everything was going to hell in a hand basket and now someone wants to know how I am @*!! doing!
As the Winnebago Man said, and I quote: “@!*!!” All the old patriarchs can just go take a flyin’ leap into the old pond and when they go splash, I will say, again like Winnebago Man, @!*!! it!
We all have low points in our lives. And guess what, when we are down, we don’t want to hear about how happy anyone else is. Man, that really sucks. I hope you are smiling at this point; part of the path is learning how to take your lumps and make lumpy gravy. Today I sit at my iMac early in the morning writing this drivel. I am in my robe and have a heat pack on my neck. It feels so @!*!! good. Write me if you can identify and if you’re good, maybe Santa will leave some @!*!! gifts under your tree.
The Winds of Spirit
A good goal for 2011 is to let myself be blown about by the winds of spirit. To be a leaf letting myself be carried. There may be stillpoints, eddies, hurricanes or floods. The leaf will rise to the occasion if powered by the wind.
I have written about the leaf that blew into Bob’s hospice room the day he died. My sister sat by his bed and the french doors flew open twice and the last time a beautiful leaf blew in and landed by his bed. She kept it and a dear friend took a photo of it. A reminder of a beautiful life called home by the spirit.
On the personal level I tend to be overly filled with my own way to God. I think I must exert effort. But all I can do is wait on the wind of the spirit to blow me about. The words I write are seeds scattered to the four corners. The scattering is not up to me.
I am grateful for
Readers that get me.
Readers that return time and again to read my wisdom/drivel/miscellany.
Readers that are invisible and those that are visible.
Readers that see their lives mirrored in mine.
Readers that stumble and fall into the arms of the One.
Readers that wear reindeer antlers and those that don’t.
Readers that laugh and or cry as they read my words.
Readers that love holidays and those that are heaving hearty “bahs.”
Readers that find the path more interesting than anything else.
Readers that lose their way and find food more exiting than just about anything.
We are all God’s children and some of us need pacifiers…and that’s OK, too.
God bless us, everyone.
It’s Christmas. Have You Got The Balls For It?
Living as the truth is a full-time job; that is why we only work at it part-time! To be fully realized would be to have almost no ego left; only the bare minimum needed to stay here. Oh, most of us have long since realized that we are the Self, but to live it, something total is required. And none of us are at that point. Christ was and even He suffered from living His Truth. He wanted to take a pass at the last moment, but asked that His Father’s Will be done. In our hearts we want it, too, but the flesh is still weak. We look back at loved ones who we fancy still need us here; we limp along making compromises and half-promises. Such is the nature of the path.
Christmas brings all of our failings into the clear light of winter. Stripped of excuses, we stand bare and shivering like the trees. We know that materialism does anyone no good and yet we succumb to the daily advertising onslaught. We strive for peace on earth and gesture at drivers who pass us on the right. It’s a never-ending cycle of good and evil.
What are we to do but know this? There is a certain quality of mercy in the person who is genuinely working on him or herself. It is extended first of all to the one working and is naturally given to the world. But it doesn’t work the other way. You cannot extend mercy to a single soul if you have not shown mercy to yourself first. All inner work begins within.
I make peppermint bark and Chex mix. Go to the mall because I get bored. Have memories to deal with and the weather to contend with. Who doesn’t? Spiritual teachers and students are human beings dealing with the cycle of the seasons and their own moods. But at the core, divinity is ever present. Witnessing the miracle of self-change, silently doing its thing, which is to be love itself. Love everlasting. I, of course, remember my daughter and husband during this time of year. The holidays are hard to bear up under. It is far easier to enter the blank slate of January, which doesn’t demand false cheer. I have loved and lost. I have gone on and learned that bending is better than breaking. But I can’t do it without participating in the ritual of the every day. So I make fudge and cookies and sit with stillness as the evening comes upon me. Writing is the gateway to grace for me. Come in and sit awhile. Rest from your activities and be with yourself. It’s past time.
December, in the past , has left me with nothing left to give. Many of you know my story. My husband, Bob, died on Dec. 20 of 2004. His birthday was Dec. 12 and our anniversary was Dec. 28. We buried him on Dec. 23 and by then I had nothing left to give. I had been wrung dry and flung on the pyre of the past. And the future was looking none too good.
Although a woman named Mary at the Marriott Courtyard produced a miraculous Christmas Eve feast for us, Christmas Day found my son and sister and I flying back to Atlanta. We had gotten the last seats on the plane, and that in itself was a miracle. I didn’t mind having Christmas dinner out of an airport snack machine. I believe it was Lance cheese crackers washed down with Coke.
We arrived back at the house sandblasted with fatigue. Bob had been in hospice only four days and for that I was grateful. But now, rest—a long winter’s nap, was looking better and better, at least to my body. My soul was sorrowing and my psyche was still pretty numb. And then the tusunami struck on the other side of the world and I recognized the tsunami within my own spirit. I had been washed clean.
Nothingness is something we want nothing to do with, although we give it lip service. I myself am a control freak and a clinger; that is why I have chosen a hard path through this life. Vernon Howard said that the easy way becomes the hard way and the hard way becomes the easy way. On meeting him, I knew the hard way was going to be my route. I knew he wanted to break us from our wrong self-reliance; every word he said indicated that. Little did I know the sorrows that would be endured when I met him many years ago.
And now here I am, clean as a whistle. I have taken many baths in which the skin was scrubbed off my ego until I screamed. Cried for mercy, begged for clemency. All for nothing. Destiny speaks and at last you listen. And at some point you begin to be thankful. Mercy may be nothing more than that.
The Elegance of Nothing
There is an elegance to nothing. The old Zen patriarchs wore it well. Of course there were no Kmarts in those days, no big box shopping or etail to distract them. Maybe we, too, would have time to watch the old frog go plop into the pond without those distractions. Who knows?
Koans were a way of passing time because they didn’t have Monopoly or video games. They weren’t plugged in, nor did they suffer from ADD. But I bet they had their own version of ennui. I can just hear one of those guys saying to his buddy, “That old frog don’t got it goin’ on….”
Maybe they didn’t have money to jingle in their patch-robe pockets, but they probably had some pretty strong drink. Maybe they had hula hoops made of barrel staves and primitive advertisements that said “Got Mu?”
But I have veered from my subject, which is the elegance of nothing. Nothing is better than something when the “something” costs you an arm and a leg and looks like the Bejesus on you.
I can’t picture a Zen master saying, “Does this patched robe make my butt look big?”
There were no mani-pedis given to old patriarchs, although they undoubtedly needed them. They walked pretty much everywhere and spent an inordinate amount of time watching trees blossom. That was just their form of Netflix. Human nature is what it is. We have over exaggerated the purity of the patriarchs. I just know that some of them must have been holy terrors—as good as Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen. “What do you mean, you burned the rice!!”
So I shall wind this up before I am sorry I brought the subject up. I know one thing. When a mother asked her monk son where he was going and he said “Out,” she believed him and when he said he was doing nothing, she believed that, too. Something hadn’t been invented yet.
#4093 – Friday, December 3, 2010 – Editor: Jerry Katz
Vicki says on page one, “I just want you to have an experience.”
This book IS an experience. You’re going to take Vicki’s approach:
“Oh God, I am not strong enough. I can write, I can joke, but I cannot cure my own heartache. The irony is that I know that nothing will take it away. I would choose insanity if I could, but choice has nothing to do with things like that. My teacher [Vernon Howard] said, `When you are carrying your cross up Crucifixion Hill, offer no resistance whatever.'”
You’re going to walk the chemo halls with Vicki, yes, but you’ll also share a table with her and the Buddha at the Waffle House. More buttah? More wisdom that brokenness brings?
While experiencing these stories of struggle and humor, and while being brought as low as one human spirit can go, you somehow rise to an experience of rich wholeness and the truth of being human.
How is that done? By facing pain and suffering so that you see it in fullness, which is its abidance within a peaceful energy field.
Regardless of what Vicki went through in the loss of her husband, the loss of her seven year old daughter to cancer, the losses of close friends to cancer, there was never a severing from inherent wholeness, nor, as Vicki says, can there be. “The eye of wholeness doesn’t cry.”This book is often hard-going, sometimes light, deeply loving and humanitarian. It requires the reader to face pain and suffering. This is a powerful, cleansing, truth-talking book. No other nonduality book has the texture, the quality of writing, the points of focus as Life With A Hole In It. It is an extremely worthwhile addition to one’s nonduality education.
WINTER DONATION DRIVE
The Winter Donation Drive is underway. With the book publication expenses, I am hoping to get some donations from loyal readers and even from new ones. The new site has to be paid for as well, so a monthly donation would be very much appreciated. I understand that these are hard times, but often we can come up with some extra change if we really want to.
Also, let me know what you want to see on the new site. I have held back from uploading audios because my recorder has been acting up and I haven’t had the time or energy to figure out what is going on with it. I am also working on how to upload some of my classic material. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure. But I am following my bliss and that’s always a good thing.
Word on the book is that it is finding its way in the world. A few readers here and there and all enthusiastic so far. It has come from a very deep place in me, so I know it strikes a chord because of that. Spread the word to folks who might resonate with it.
A LETTER FROM SWAMI AND VICKI
Dear Devotees (slackers)
I am writing this to you (meatheads) from my warm and cozy (messy) kitchen. My guru (thorn in the flesh), Swami Z, is ensconced (sprawling) in his recliner watching me work (eat cookie dough).
The holidays (sugar coma) are fast approaching and we are anxious (dreading) for the merriment (upset stomachs and headaches) to begin (end.)
What better way to spend the season (eternity in hell) than with you, our loyal (undependable) readers of this enlightening (stupid) website.
We care so much (a teaspoon’s worth) about each of you striving for enlightenment (not).
Please keep in touch (wear latex gloves) and drop us a line (use punctuation, you ninnies.)
Vicki and Swami
P. S. from Swami Z–Buy the danged book already. This so-called author is about to hit the big time (take a bath) and I need for her to sell a lot of books (remain solvent so she can keep me in the swami b’ness and support me in my old age (senility) Click on her book link and make my little student happy. I hear the book is actually good (wonders never cease).
Let us know if you order it (save our butts) and we’ll send you a thank you note (when she lets me out of the kitchen long enough.) The Winter Donation Drive is on (doing poorly) and we reach into our mailbox anxiously with our fingers poking out of our ragged little mittens (send a casserole and some firewood). The Donate Button is lonely (unused.)
Yours in fervent devotion (?) Swami the Rascal Guru