Monday, November 30, 2020

To what degree are we living in illusion?

There exists a state of illusion, known as Maya in the Sanskrit language, and a percentage of our experience exists in this state. As human individuals, we experience Maya mostly as ignorance of our real nature, which is the true self, the non-linear and infinite Atman that inhabits our temporary vessel. All other illusions seem to branch out from this one primary misunderstanding or forgetting. This ignorance of who we really are, as you might imagine, can be seen playing out in hundreds of ways throughout daily life. Think of all the ego-driven behaviors, which compose 98% of our lives, of any given day and you will understand what I mean.

This morning, as I was getting ready, the question came to me: Just how much illusion are we under? Of course, the nature of being in illusion implies that it would be really hard, if not impossible, to answer this. So my thought meanderings here aren't meant to be taken too seriously, since I assume, or rather- I know, I also exist largely in illusion. It seems though that each individual probably contains varying degrees of illusion, just as each individual contains varying degrees of health, self-awareness, and so on. In some ways, I feel I can even see the illusions over me almost like a grand to-do list, aware of and working to shed them as I go, but also understanding this is a lifetime of work so incorporating gentleness and acceptance of some illusions, too. Letting the illusions stay there and be. For now at least.

But what I was wondering about this morning is just how much illusion we live under now, especially in the Kali Yuga--an age of spiritual depletion with primary focus being on material existence--compared to, for example, beings of the Satya Yuga or Golden Ages of the past. (For me, it is evident even in more modern history that humanity has undergone and is undergoing a process of devolution moreso than evolution).

We have lost the understanding of genuine rites, rituals, and offerings. If we are able to learn about and understand them in an original way, it seems to come from a purely action-oriented pathway, which leaves out the spirit or essence that should be held around the action, and is probably the most important purpose of the whole act anyway.

We live in an age dominated by Rajas-- busy, frenetic without depth of purpose other than material gain and fleeting pleasures, endless doing and activity. How do we break through the illusions that layer themselves over and within us, without merely trading one illusion for another? Cultivating Sattva in daily life is vital, but I also believe a detachment from the flow of modernity must happen in order to brush up against and maybe just grasp the bone-deep Truths and ways of being in a more pure state.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Yule tree of fallen limbs

The dark season here by the sea means not only short foggy days, but frequent 60mph winds too. Gales stampede in off the north Pacific and thrash against the house, so much so that our musical instruments sometimes make sounds from the vibration alone.

Power outages are common a few times a month from mid-Fall until mid-Spring.

And I love it! 

Blue skies sort of carry an extroverted feeling with them, almost demanding of busy-ness and doing. The misty moody days suit me best.

So last week after the winds had settled a bit and I felt brave enough to venture outside again, I found--to my delight--many downed branches scattered all around. On the drive to town to grab some milk and stop by the post office, I pulled over several times, put the car in park, and stuffed the back of my vehicle with large fallen Douglas Fir branches. 

They've been lying on the little stoop outside the back door and a few mornings ago I even noticed bobcat prints beside them! I s'pose they do make good habitat for creatures looking to get some shelter from the winds and rains. 

Then this morning I finally carried out what I had planned for them-- a Christmas tree! 

I sawed off the bottoms a little, positioned them inside a 5-gallon bucket, put handfuls of rock in to help hold them steady, and used a few lengths of string to tie them together into a tree-like bundle. 

I dug around and found a strand of battery-operated lights not being used, strung those, then found an old skirt I don't wear anymore to hide the bucket. 

And now we have ourselves a fine little Yuletide tree, completely free and "eco-friendly." It does need ornaments and I'll try to get around to making a few soon. But I'm quite pleased with the simplicity and handmade-ness of it as-is. Now off to clean up my mess and see what else the afternoon holds...