“Namaste”…

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Namaste.

This is a word you may be hearing more and more, as the wave of people who are attracted to yoga and meditation practices increases in the West. In Sanskrit, the word ‘namah’ means bow, ‘as’ means I,, and ‘te’ means you: translating into “I bow to you.”   It is a formal greeting usually used in the Hindu culture.Not all people in India use Namaste as a greeting. Punjabi people say Sat Sri Akaal – Which means “Truth is the Ultimate God” or “God is the Ultimate truth”.

This idea is too big for me today.

Let’s stick to the beautiful simplicity of Namaste.

Every culture has a standard verbal greeting  of course. In french we say Bonjour, in Spanish we say Hola, and in Italian we greet with Ciao and we leave with Ciao.

Simple.

Namaste however is an old and magical word. It comes from and represents so many ideas and intentions that when someone greets you with “Namaste” it is as though thousands of years of tradition are being bridged into one beautiful unifying moment – the simple recognition that we have something the same within us. It is a conveyance of unity.

It’s not a religious word.  Don’t confuse culture and religion, as we are so often doing to our detriment.

Culture is a set of habits and behaviours born from thousands and even tens of thousands of years of adapted necessity.

Culture is what we believe, what we think, how we dress, think, act and speak.  Our food, music and our education system all represent what we believe about the world – and the rules that come from those beliefs, are what create our culture.

Culture encompasses the entirety of the human experience.

Religion – conversely is a set of man-made dogmatic rules which aim to separate humans from their source of being.

Namaste is a word we have created to recognize that we are MORE than our culture.

Namaste recognizes the interminable connection between people.  The force of life that runs through us all -one that is so enormous and beyond our capacity to intellectually comprehend, that – we cannot really give it a name, or a set of rules.

Just a word.

Namaste. 

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Popular culture today, Western trained yoga and meditation teachers, will tell you that Namaste means “The light within me (or spirit) recognizes the light within you” or more easily translated – We are One.

“It is used both for salutation and valediction. In Hinduism it means “I bow to the divine in you”.”(1)

Since every aspect of culture is designed to individualize ourselves, compete with one another and spend our lives achieving illusory goals – we come to believe we are separate from each other and from nature and other alive things. But this is simply not true.

And behaving like we believe this is true – is what’s killing us and our planet.

Namaste reminds us that alive is not a relative term. Alive is alive – and everything alive on this planet works together, in unison.

You, me, the birds the air the waters the land.

And what you think – IS the root of all evil 😉 or good, which we create – together, always.

What I do for me (or to me) – I do for you (and to you).

If you really love others, therefore, you will be kinder to yourself.

It’s not complicated.

Namaste simplifies this idea for us.

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The Namaskar – is the traditional greeting of putting the palms together in spiritual greeting, on the chest near the heart.  This physical gesture is very much a representation of the meaning of Namaste.

Bring all of your energy together, at your heart and humbly offering it to the person you are greeting.

The word Namaste arises from Namaskar.

Namaste naturally dissolves our barriers to allow us to recognize that we are all just alive things, doing our best in whatever way we know how to understand what it is exactly we are.

Each of our experiences is designed only to reveal ourselves to ourselves.

Everything else – well you know the old saying – “you can’t take it with you”.

So, when you put the INTENTION of seeing yourself and another in unity, together with the physical GESTURE of hands palms together on the heart, then you are creating the recognition of unity between you and another alive thing:

Namaste

Awesome.

All that in just one little word.

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Before You Can Hear My Words

Before you can hear the words I say

They will  pass through the stained glass

of all your experiences – of your life’s every day.

And although i can shine my own light

Onto the sounds that seep

from my lips to your ears

Something in you knows

They were created in the vat of spectacular colours

That comprise the tapestry that only I understand.

 

And by the time the words from my mind

perhaps birthed in the very chambers of my heart

pour forth from my half century lips

and fly forward streaming through me

Into you

Onto you

covering you all over.

You are reminded that

each was filtered by every heartbreak

or feverishly bad decision

every piece of apple pie

I have ever eaten.

First,

Before my words can impact you

In the subtle places I secretly mean them to,

They will be masterfully analyzed

by the synaptic orgasms

that prove your rightness to yourself.

Before my words can hit your heart

where perhaps a modicum of chance

that they can be heard

in the way the soul demands

in the way that does not actually require words.

You will doubt me

once twice and even three times

we all dance together in this rhyme

until you can hear my words-

Our wound can only be healed by time.

 

 

 

 

Coup De Coeur

woman-holding-fire-sculptureIt has been a really weird week, and if you know anything about how bizarre my life is normally – then you know this is a big statement.

Was it the full moon?  Because I noticed I wasn’t the only one remarking on the overall weirdness factor .

Monday it began with the man who came in dawning a Tilley hat, Hawaiian shirt and massive smile. He was a rare person who seemed know exactly what he had come to the store for. Most people walk in and turn a circle at everything there is to see. But this man made a “B” line to the spiritual Tibetan stuff.

The shop was full of people and my attention went to others until a while later he appeared at my counter with three Tibetan amulets.  I could see from what he had chosen that he must be familiar with Tibettan spirituality, so I said:

“Oh, you know what these are, I can see.”

“Oh yes yes!” he had the happiest face I had ever seen. He looked at me as if we both shared some sort of wonderful secret, then said, leaning over towards me sort of conspiratorially:

You do realize this is ALL pretend, don’t you?” Big smile. “We are all in a dream and I have been your mother, and you ahve been my child or we ahve been friends or something – we have all been together before! and this isn’t the end…there is no end. there never was!”

He was declaring this to me as though he had just won the lottery and needed to share his good news with someone.

“Yup. And it’s allot more fun now that we do, isn’t it? ” I said to him smiling, feeling like I really did know him.

Maybe somewhere else this conversation would have sounded a little wacky, but in the little shop – it was pretty much a daily thing.  People often like to talk about the bigger things, in life;  I guess they get the feeling we are open to that sort of thing, in all our tye dyed splendour.

We do get some people who come in to buy a dress or clothes or normal things. Sometimes our conversations confuse them, like the woman who had appeared to the man’s right, across the counter from me looking a little befuddled.

“Life is fantastic!” He said finally.

“Yes I agree”, I smiled at him. I wished he would stay.

Suddenly he pulled up his sleeve to show me a big white bandage, where they had done his chemotherapy.

“Eight months, they said,” he smiled. “I’m gonna love it all!” 

“Oh, I bet you are”, I said to him.

Then I asked him,

“Is it better to know?”

“Oh yes yes”, he said. “I am having so much fun! I can’t believe all the things I worried about that weren’t worth my time! trust me” he said “everything you’re worried about – is fine. Just fine. Enjoy your life!”.

Standing there with him, his big wide smile and open childlike wonder of everything around him made me feel amazing.

Full of life, indeed.

We spoke a little more and I found myself light and happy for the next few hours. Later in the day another client I remember from the past few weeks, a woman who was recently told she was in remission from cancer – had an entirely different energy from the first man.

Where the first man had been given a sure date of his demise, she had been returned to her previous state of uncertainty – like the rest of us – not know when or how she would die when the cancer she suffered from went into remission.

Now she was having other issues, and she was angry.

But, like so many people, instead of talking about her anger, she acted it out.  Even when she talked about things that made her happy, like her obsession for musicians from the 1980’s, she was adamant on being right, on stating her point, on her valuable opinions.

Oh, she had a lot of opinions.

She reminded me of someone I used to know (pointing clearly at myself…)

And she was very smart. And she liked to talk about how important that intelligence was. Allot.

In fact, it seemed her brain was sharp it had completely severed communication to her heart.

She spoke about loneliness.

About how shitty the world was.

How she had a lack of resources for fulfilling basics in her life.

How she felt abandoned and angry.

I listened. I tried not to speak but hell – I’m not perfect.

After her lengthy two-hour visit I was entirely exhausted.

I had kept the store open an extra hour and a half to allow her space to talk. I figured if anger creates cancer and she talks about it will be like a big giant emotional zit and her anger will dissipate and maybe she will not die of cancer – which given her current route she would obviously go back to.

And this is where I need to learn a thing or two (or three ;)) .

I was absolutely exhausted by the time she left – I had allowed her to suck the life out of me.

People are like that- as much as some want to share their happiness because it makes it feel even better. And others want to shed their unhappiness off themselves onto you equally to try and feel better.

Sometimes it all comes out crooked. LIke with the lady, who offered me a soap box diatribe on 80’s music for TWO HOURS.

I hate 80’s music.

I put up with it because I knew that everything she was saying was like a “code” for what she really felt inside, and just didn’t know how to talk about it.

We get all kinds of people and the best part of the job is the stories and experiences we exchange. Some days, actually most days, it is very intense.  Let’s just say,  people don’t come into a little Indian spiritual shop for milk and bread. They come in, very often, for some very special reasons.
Like Manon the beautiful purple haired lady who spent two days very carefully choosing  pristine white clothing because she works with the dying and wants to bring as much light to their experience as possible.

Like Max the incredible martial arts genius who reinvented a form of martial arts in the 70’s which, instead of aggressing, allows movement and dissipates violence.

Like Joseph the modern philosopher who coaches world-wide on mindful presence and Buddhist concept.

Not every day is like a good Dan Brown novel, but mostly it is.  Filled with drama, relationships, philosophy, politics, intrigue, symbolism and magic.

The store reminds me that we never know where we are going to end up, and that saying “yes” to what makes your heart feel good, is always amazing.  It reminds me how the view of our lives can change so much as we grow up.

I remember when I was a kid wanting to be a lawyer.

I was actually heading towards law school, in university and working for a law firm by the time I was 17.

I was going to defend the world with my opinions.

I was also going to own a condo and cats.

Red convertible.

Fly to sunny vacation spots three times a year with my 2.4 kids and handsome cable knit sweater wearing husband.

We would walk places with our golden retriever, like in an Old Spice commercial.

My hair would be fluffy like Farrah Fawcet’s – like in a shampoo commercial.

Our children were perfect.

That was the extent of my life vision when i was younger. That was the bar.

It makes me giggle when i think about it.

My unasked for advice?

 

Leave your life unpredictable.

Stay open to what pulls your heart.

In french we call it a “Coup de coeur” – when something hits you in the heart

Just say YES.

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Inquiry Of My Own

Let me begin with a new idea: Have you ever had someone present an idea to you that was so completely totally different from the one you have now, that your mind simply can’t accept it?  Like how people must have felt when someone broke it to them that the earth was not the center of the Universe?  They hung that guy.

 

Or when we discovered that the earth was round and not flat (which some people still find controversial…).  A new idea that allot of people had a hard time adjusting to.

When I was at Uluru in Australia (the four most educational days of my life…) I was presented with a “new idea”. I learned that the aboriginal people don’t believe in some of the concepts and ideas that we find very natural – like competition, agriculture, and creating towns and villages and teaching children how to read.  My first reaction to these ideas was probably the same as yours:

“You must be competitive as a culture – how else will you have goals to strive for and landmarks to achieve. Competition is natural. Good. Healthy.

You must plant agriculture – Because how else will you create food?

You must make towns and villages! How else will you accumulate security?”

Leroy, our brilliant story telling tour guide explained it this way:

You plant an apple tree – and now you claim you own it. You own the fruit on it.

You feed it. Water it. Spend time with it. protect it. And eat from it.

It’s your tree.

One day, someone comes and takes “your” fruit. This creates two problems mate: a -conflict between people b- ownership of that which cannot be owned. The tree belongs the the land – the fruit belongs to the tree. if you treat the tree well, it will give you fruit. If you eat what is around you on the land, the land will live in balance with your needs.

2- You don’t build a village because then you are doing the same thing as with the tree – there is no land that can belong to you. You have to travel to where the land can best feed and sustain you. Nomadic movement is natural. and 3- communal identities create separation – and everyone is the same. No separation.

Remember – Australian Aboriginals have stories which date back now estimated at 60,000 years. Cave illustrations recently have been dated at a conservative 46 thousand years. Nearly 30 thousand years older than our native cultures in Europe and North America. Through their stories Aboriginal Australians have taken on the task of singing “Song Lines” of the earth, through instruments carved by man and nature, such as the didgeridoo.   They function in the Dream Time where the ephemeral Rainbow Serpent abides – she who created the earth and hold it all together with “Jarkupa” the law of the land.  Aboriginal Art is incredibly important in understanding both the perspective of their culture but perhaps also a new idea about how to see the world.

Most aboriginal art is done as an “astral travel’ perspective, the consciousness of the artists hanging high above her subject.  Paintings often represents maps, in effect. Even those painting which tell the great stories of the seven sisters and Orion, of the Great dingo, or the star people are presented as maps pathways. The simple and seemingly obvious and repetitive symbols passed down through illustrations that are still clearly seen on the cave walls after as long as 46 thousand years,  tell vivid stories of the Rainbow Serpent and how she carved the bones of the earth for all that lives on it.

She made the law – Jarkupa – and it is unmistakable and clear; the rules are simple.

Fairness. Equality. Survival is a group effort.

Everything is connected – through the Serpent.

And the consequences for breaking the law- Jarkupa –  are immutable.

For example:

You mess with my woman, we bring you to a circle with all the men – we throw spears at you. You live – it’s over. Don’t do it again. You don’t live, that’s too bad. You broke the law.

For women – you mess with my man, I take out my woman’s stick and I beat the shit out of you. You live – cool. We can be friends but don’t do it again. You don’t live. Too bad.  You broke the law.

Might seem harsh to us – but how many of our problems in our personal lives and our communities exist because we harbour resentment and anger – internalizing feelings that we medicate or douse with drugs alcohol, work avoidance.

there is sanity n dealing with things up front and lettnig them go.

There is clarity in the laws – no grey areas messed around with by our enigmatic ability to make thigns complicated when they don’t need to be.

God we are complicated.

Aboriginal Australians recognize that certain things do not require a ‘law” but are known within the soul of a person.

So, are they right about no-competition?

Are the Olympics helpful or not helpful anymore?

About competition…

Aboriginal people do not put one person up against another – like in a wrestling competition.  I think they figure they have enough problems living on the dangerous land they do, without creating conflict between each other. They don’t – for example – allow boys to compete in sports. They encourage work together and learn to hunt or fish. But they don’t compete. Philosophically they told me that competition, ownership and false pride – are the critical elements that have caused the our falling of of sync with the planet that we live on.  I am inclined to agree.

But here in the west we are far from the influences of the desert, and our history is based on things we have been told, by the ancient Greeks the founding culture of the Olympics.  We assume things like competition, winning and loosing are as natural as breathing oxygen – but they really aren’t. They are ideas we have been taught – like the world is flat and and moon is made of cheese. 

The Olympics were founded in Olympia Greece in 776 BC.   They were held in Greece and only by Greeks until the first International games also held in Greece in 1896. There was not another Olympics held in Greece after this for 108 years. In 1896, the IOC or International Olympic Committee was founded and it was agreed that the games would move from one nation to another from then on. The next games were held in Paris four years later in 1900.

When the Olympics happen – we have a  feeling of “national pride”.  It’s a good feeling and one we cater to with “National pride”  marketing galore. Economies boom – Favelas are ignored.

But in reality “national pride” “religious pride” or really “pride” in anything, is at the basis of so many of our conflicts.

 

The Aboriginals are right – “pride” brings separation. And the belief that we are separate from each other and the living things around us – is a big big problem for the earth.  Does the Olympics contribute to separation?

Lets face it, the world changes so quickly now, with everything we know about each other because of the internet, and how we relate to one another as cultures and individuals because of our technological connections, and a greater ease and economy in travel which has allowed us to connect in real time with one another, we are much more knowledgeable about each others cultures, habits and beliefs.

The lesson that is always learned by individuals and nations after International events? How similar we are. How we are all the same.

You do realize that we are all one?

The Olympics is not just any international event – it was created in this manner for the purpose of putting our political and economic differences aside to just be together as humans and enjoy our potential.

This is a good idea. No doubt the entire world needs to relax.

Maybe the purpose of the Olympics brings us a snap shot picture of this picture of peace. An “Act as if”  every four years. A peaceful Global pool party. Above and beyond the aspect of competition, maybe it is even more beneficial to us just to have goals, and come together in some united form that is for fun, for games for pleasure. and enjoy each others greatest abilities on display, give other kids hope and goals and things to reach for.

Maybe one day it will become an ACTUAL global event where all countries are welcome t.

Here’s to praying for continued peaceful games.

What’s Your Story?

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ULURU

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ”  Maya Angelou

As an artist it is easy for me to connect with a thought like this.  The greatest struggle of each creative soul is to find the method to communicate the soul’s loudest song. Some through music, art, writing. But creativity isn’t relegated to the fine arts and is applied to every aspect of our lives. How we deal with relationships at work or in our personal lives is entirely dependent, for example,on how connected we our with our own method of expression and communication.

I have been told by many people that I should write my biography, because I have, in their opinion, a unique story that inspires them in some way.

I struggle with the thought, probably like most writers, about what the value of such a thing is – everyone indeed has a unique a dramatic life story. that is the essence of life. Why should my story be unique or interesting to anyone? at phillip island

It used to be that we taught our children everything they needed to know about life through our stories. I learned while traveling through in the Australian desert that aboriginal people object to teaching their children reading because it dilutes the purity and wisdom of the elders.  Theirs is a culture based on (debatably) 40 to 60 thousand years of repeated stories.  The land around them is used as a classroom and children are taught before anything to understand and live with the land they live on.

Just to give you a perspective check, our native people’s genetic origins date back only about 17 thousand years. The aboriginal Australian culture is by far the oldest culture on the planet, historians now believe dating back nearly sixty thousand years. They use cave illustration to teach the stories they tell, and myths and legends that sound like our fairy tales. Each story holds a very important lesson about the laws or “jarkupa” of the culture. Aboriginal people in Australia do not have nations or tribes, instead they see each others as one people with different skin tones – 36 to be precise. They used to have over 270 languages, but the genocide wrought upon them by British colonialists has reduced their languages to below 75.

Aborigines sing the “song lines” of the Dream Time”.  The Song is given to each boy in his language. He is sent into the desert at “manhood” – around 13 years of age – a Aboriginal-Shamanterrifying journey for each boy. In the desert the boy finds his courage. he relates to the signs of the land in the way of someone who understands that he and the land are not two different things, but extensions of each other. He works with what he has been taught, while need and necessity add to his knowledge and understanding of survival.

The desert speaks to you if you are willing to listen.

During the first night I was at Uluru I was on our balcony in the only hotel in the desert, a resort agreed upon by the aboriginal people who were given back the sacred land of Uluru many years ago. I had an experience which I can explain as nothing else but mystical.

They have a story that says that beings of the star constellation Pleiades live under the mountain, and that the “heart” center of the earth will (and has just) shift and the beings will emerge as a celestial choir to teach us about who we are.

This story is told repeatedly within the caves, illustrated on the walls in amazing and obvious detail.  Within the mountain itself, each cave has a different purpose. There is a birthing cave for when women have babies, a teaching cave for grandmothers to bring young girls who have started their menses. There is even a playground cave where the younger three and four year old children gather to swim in sparse gathered ran water, a safer bet than the predator infested watering holes in the desert.

The stories of the mountain are also associated to the signs and lines on the mountain itself.  Uluru is unique in that is is made like a bunch of pancakes stacked sideways. Geologists have even discovered that one side of the mountain is nearly 5 million years older than the other, like the land over time just squished itself together.

RAINBOW SERPENT LEGEND: this part of Uluru tells the story of the Serpent that formed the world

The lines have formed remarkable illustrations for the legends the aborigines tell.

Like the time the man had hunted for three days to catch an emu for his community – aboriginal people never claim things for themselves – everything is shared.  He walked through the hot desert finally found his catch and was so exhausted went to a cave in the mountain to rest before returning home to share his catch with his community.

But while he slept, the Goanna lizard, massive and nasty and too lazy to catch his own emu, saw the man’s catch and greedily snuck off with it in the night.

When the man awoke to find his emu meat gone he jumped up with a start and began searching for his missing food. The food he was to bring back to his community – nothing in the Aboriginal culture belongs to one person individually.

First he saw feathers and followed the trail. caption-comp-emu

As Leroy told me this story he pointed out the places which were carved by time  in the crevices of the mountain that illustrated the ancient story.

Along one side a long ridge an indentation, where the giant Goanna lizard dragged the emu into a cave and began to eat it.  In his voraciousness, a drum stick fell off the lizard and plummeted to the ground, where the man was alerted and clearly saw the Goanna eating his food.

He approached the Goanna and said

“Did you steal my meat?

The Goanna said lying “Oh no no sir I would never do such a thing”.

But the man could see the Goanna lizards lips were greasy with eating and he was hiding something behind his massive hulking tale.

“so what’s behind your tale?”,

In his evasion, the lizard reached around the hide his stolen food and slipped falling from the bring of the cave, plummeting down the jagged rocky slope to his death at the base of the mountain.

Leroy gleefully showed us the place where moss has grown on the side of Uluru – saying this is where the lizard’s skin shredded off while he “carrot grated” himself to the ground.

Ew.

What a great story.
Leroy pointed to a pile of stones and a smaller one to the side and said

“And that one is his head”, he said with a wicked grin.

The story teaches about karma, about stealing and honesty. It teaches about hard work and perseverance, and it teaches about the things in the desert which can harm you.

So I have to ask myself – How are we teaching our children? How were we taught? Are we taking the time to tell our stories?

Our kids are lost.

We plug them into television sets and computers handing them IPhones and tablets at five years old to distract them so we can go on with our “important” lives, consuming, earning, buying, impressing,  achieving, taking, grabbing, owning.

It’s as though we are teaching them to avoid the reality of living itself.

The desert was full of lessons, but the most important one – for this moment – is the understanding that we are fully connected tot his place called earth we live in – and if we are to continue here the way we understand the world must fundamentally change.  This begins with how we teach our children.

What is your story? What can it teach about?

Death In The West

I was thinking about death. I do that allot lately.  So many people I know in my family and circle of friends have been afflicted by cancer or in other cases by simple misery – causing them to commit suicide. My husband suggested that it was because we were getting older – so of course more people were going to be dying.  But i know in my case that’s not really true. I have known allot more death than others, and with the recent loss of my brother and my friend it got me to thinking about how we see and handle death in our culture and what a mess we are.

Here in the west, we don’t spend allot of time with the idea of death. We ignore it, we institutionalize it, we avoid it and we misrepresent it in a million zillion ways.

Let’s talk a little logical Buddhism now.

Living is all about impermanence.  There is absolutely nothing, not one thing, on this earth that is going to remain for all time. I’m sorry if that is a shock to your system, or perhaps your mind is trying to figure out why I am wrong, but it is true. You’re going to die. Your dog is going to die. Your friends will die. Your parents will die. Your children will die one day too, everyone in their own time.

Impermanence is the first law of the universe. Everything must continue to change, pass through, and evolve. nothing is static. Everything is always evolving.

Sound logical?

Of course. Except that your mind and every cell of your body has been trained to believe otherwise.

Our culture is hyper-geared towards denying the continuity of change and the sureness of death.  We spend our entire lives waking up to fulfill desires that we believe that help us feel better so we can continue to deny the fact that we are going to die.

The average Western life is a travesty of delusion:

 First of all we invest our time on earth in jobs to buy things we can’t afford, like houses with mortgages that we spend our lives repaying. We spend our days buying things to impress our neighbours. We put countless hours and thought and energy into taking care of those things – manicuring the lawns, painting the walls and filling houses with useless things that require dusting.  Finally, if we are “lucky”, we get old and sit amongst the dust and memories of our “things” pining over the past which was fleeting and temporary – never guaranteed of permanence.

Not exactly a live-in-the-moment culture. Meanwhile our media pushes the importance of eternal youth as the solution to lasting happiness, and we imbue ourselves with technology, so we don’t have to have real relationships.

For God’s sake.

You can’t seriously wonder why the Donald trumps of the world are so popular. He epitomizes all I have just said.

Of course, Eastern philosophy is very different than here in the west namely through a significantly lower focus on material, and higher on spiritual goals in daily life; death is not a frightening mystery to most easterners.

I was watching a television show about Varanasi India,  a 3000 year old city in India and a place where many people go to die or be buried. It is believed that if you are cremated in a certain place in Varanasi, you can avoid certain aspects of reincarnation and become an enlightened being more easily.

I watched body after body, draped in colourful cloth and dotted with flowers and other symbolic items be carted to fires to be cremated.

What caught my attention were the children, trailing behind the procession of bodies, laughing and skipping merrily behind. They were not dressed in black made to weep with bowed heads.

“And they’re not traumatized”, i thought to myself. they look happy, and light and unconcerned with the whole thing.

We don’t show children in our culture death in this way, do we?  We don’t represent death as the normal transition – the beautiful life lived – the awesome way nature recreates itself through us, by letting us live the cycle of life.

Instead what do we show them about death?

Video games and movies.

Don’t let this be the first understanding of “death” that your child has!

We show them death in horrible horrendous ways that have nothing to do with reality.

We bring them to Ultimate Fighting Competitions where we let them watch humans beat each other like starving animals.

We hide the dying away in palliative care centers.

My children were surprised at the peacefulness of the experience of my mother dying. Although it is always painful to watch the end of a loved one’s life – it is in no way the dramatic and terrifying experience often portrayed in the media.

But we are so programmed. My mother asked me to die at the farm where I live – I am sorry today that i did not allow this to happen. The idea of it was so foreign and frightening to me at the time, that I simply could not entertain it. The irony is in how much I have learned from her death.

Dying is not a shameful act that needs to be institutionalized.  We are a culture terrified of the inevitable. We create religions that support our fears and cause us to do all manner of harm to one another in this life, for fear of what we don’t know about the next life. And we educate our children about everything under the sun – except who they are, as a creation, being and their own consciousness.

I remember most vividly H.H.the Dalai Lama in Perth saying that if we did nothing else differently after his talk, to go home and meditate or “contemplate” our own death, for ten minutes, every day.

At the time I thought it was the most bizarre suggestion i had ever heard, especially in my state of grief over the death of my mother. But I did it, because he seemed to be the most genuinely happy man I had ever seen, despite some very difficult circumstances, so i figured it was worth a shot.

I pictured myself on my death bed – at the point where the voices of the people I loved were fading around me, and I wondered what i would be thinking of right before “lights out”. I wondered what i would see, if I would see my loved ones, if my kids would be OK…I wondered…

The questions that came up on my “before lights out” tour of imagination, would translate into a focus for the day.  These contemplations had the effect of making me appreciate the moments of my life more. They were not morbid at all and over time this “meditation” has become a habit which has brought me comfort during times of grief.

When I consider every single thing that ails our culture and communities, I am able to bring it back to a fear and denial of our inevitable death.  I believe the Dalai Lama was right when he said that the solution for our planet lies in the individual efforts of everyone to focus on finding out who and what you are.

Something which you already know – but have covered up with what you have been taught.

It’s hard to find out what we have been taught about the world and what is important and not important is completely wrong. Of course we want to deny that and keep going the way we are, because that is easier. And we like easy.

We are all about easy, because we have desires and wants and we get up every morning and do everything we can to fulfill those desires and wants. That’s it.

The irony of our desires and wants is that mostly we don’t know where they come from or what need they are really fulfilling.  We are unconscious of them.

But the world in general is becoming more conscious.

There is no coincidence that there is a surge of interest in meditation and discussion around different forms of Buddhism emerging in western culture. All happening alongside a new interest in Hinduism, and “the Nouveau hippy” culture – (I think they call themselves “hipsters” – a materialistic form of non-materilaist (to be covered another time…it’s too good to pass up 😉) – but whatever form it takes, it is clear that the west is waking up (finally) and expressing a desire to know itself in a fundamentally new way.