Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reliving Past Lives in the Andes


Here I am meditating at 16,650 in the Bolivian Andes last September. Above me are Jankouma and Illampu, 21,000 foot peaks. On one side the Andes drop precipitously into the Amazon basin. To the other stretches the Andean altiplano, the world's second highest and largest plateau (second to Tibet). My dear friend Mike Lewis (Nirbhao Singh) took this picture.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Worry

The longer that I am on the spiritual path, the more it becomes evident that engaging in fear is draining and unproductive. The moment I allow a negative thought to enter my head, I watch my productivity and relations with others diminish. It rips open a hole for any and all neuroses to enter. I know it, but it still comes out even when I am conscious of it.

I grew up with fear. My grandmother lived with my family until my tenth birthday. The woman’s hard life had become a Petri dish of fear. I was constantly reminded to stay right next to my family when in public. If I wondered off, one of the numerous child abductees in the vicinity would grab me and torture me. As a child my brother left me in the car for a minute. I flew into hysterics, convinced of my eminent slavery.

My fears conformed to new situations. I became constantly scared of the imagined wrath of my Catholic school teachers. I was physically shaking on my way to 1st grade, horrified of being assigned to the Sister Camilla and her full habit. When I was in 6th grade, I was convinced of abductors entering the house. I carried a baseball bat when left in the house by myself at night. At night my ears would search the house for the sound of intruders slowly opening windows and removing televisions.

In high school I fretted about not fitting into the social scene. In college I worried about grades and how they would affect my future.

And now I worry about money, about achieving enough to sustain myself in Los Angeles. In the past my level of worry was just as potent, with different reasons.

Fear is a habit, a leech that adapts itself to whatever situation is at hand. This unwanted emotion is unfounded. Imagine if part of me insisted that the sky was blood red, when everything in me told me it was blue. I would view that rogue element as ridiculous, and would be sure to discard it.

Fear has been so ingrained in me, and much of the populace, that it does not come out with one washing. We must work on it, slowly chipping away at the fa├žade of the beast until it reaches a point of dissolution.

Meditation is our cleansing tool, patience our foundation.