Saturday, October 30, 2010

Unmask!

Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Tricks or treats on our doorstep. Yes, Halloween is here!

This holiday has its origins in the ancient Celtic observance of Samhain (pronounced SAH~win), a festival celebrated to this day by Pagans of every hue in honor of the turning of the seasons. As Christianity spread into northwest Europe, Samhain became entwined with Roman Catholic traditions. Those who’ve passed from this world into the next are remembered on All Saints’ Day, November 1st, and All Souls’ Day, November 2nd. La Dia de Los Muertos~~The Day of the Dead~~arrives this week, also, a gift from the Aztecs of more than a thousand years ago. Deceased loved ones are honored with much fanfare over the course of several days.

Similar observances are found throughout the world, whenever autumn dances with full abandon. Like now. Trees glow in radiant colors, while the sun slips a bit lower in the southern sky each day. The last of the apples, squash, and assorted greens have been harvested just ahead of a hard frost. And as my father recently commented, “It sure is getting late a lot earlier these days.”

What is it about this time of year that stirs us so, that elicits a response so visceral that it sparks festivals across cultures and religions? We watch as life around us withdraws into cooling soil, nestled snug within root or seed. Leaves drift to the ground~~or are blown by a biting wind~~with more branches bared each day. Long gone, it seems, are the days of flowering plenty. We feel winter’s chill in the air. Death, it seems, is everywhere.

The wisdom of the earth, as these seasonal festivals and observances remind us, can help enlarge our vision. Writing of La Dia de Los Muertos, journalist Carlos Miller notes that, “unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it.”

Our small human lives reflect the universal cycle of birth, maturation, death and rebirth. As the earth faithfully and endlessly teaches, nothing truly dies, but only changes form. Garden becomes compost and compost becomes garden. Cloud becomes rain, and rain becomes plant or river. Plant bears life~giving fruit, while river transforms into lake or ocean to rise as vapor and become cloud once again. Nothing ends. Nothing is lost. Remembering this allows for a gentler letting go than does the view of death as endpoint.

Indian~born philosopher, writer and spiritual teacher, Krishnamurti, tells us that, “to live every day as if it were a new loveliness, there must be a dying to everything of yesterday. Otherwise,” he writes, “you live mechanically, and a mechanical mind can never know what love is or what freedom is.”

Living everyday as if it were a new loveliness? Sign me up!

Yet to live poised in this moment and no other requires practice. Opening to the lessons of this season can assist us. As we watch leaves drift to the ground, we can, tree~like ourselves, release that which has served its function in our lives. As the natural world slows, we can turn inward and rest as well, nestled in our own nurturing soil~~that Consciousness that supports us all~~while new seed germinate within us and our roots do the silent prep work for the new fruit that will appear with the continued turning of the Great Wheel.

And as costumed children grace our doorsteps, we can see through the costumes we all wear, and the illusions that separate life from death, one living being from another, and this very moment from the next and the one that went before.

It is all Now, all a web of interconnectedness. And we are part of it. Each moment is, indeed, a new loveliness. We need only remove the masks from our own faces and see.

I wish you a new loveliness, this day and always!

Loanne Marie

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Loanne,

I read Krishnamurti bunches, many years ago; his writings are kind of like yours in that just a little bit goes a long way. They take awhile to digest but have tremendous truths in them.

Most recently I have been reading the Dhammapada and the Bible. Lot's wife was told to 'not look back'; she turned into a pillar of salt when she did. She didn't 'die to yesterday'.

As for the future, Jesus tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Ram Dass says it another way, "Be here now".

That is the trick. Don't look back and don't worry about the future. Easier said than done! My life flows wonderfully, with loveliness when I live it minute by minute. Living with regrets or anxiety that will stop the 'flow'.

Thank you very much for your insightful column! I will keep working on my 'flow' problem and continue to look forward to your next column...

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, there are many ways to say the same thing. It's the living it that's a bit tricky!!! People's words~~those of sages or little folks like you and me~~help awaken us again and again to awareness. And each time we get it, we're just a bit more likely to get it another time and another. And perhaps the interval between those awakened moments will gradually grow shorter and shorter still.

One of the things I love about Thich Nhat Hanh is the way he articulates the idea that enlightenment isn't something to attain way down the road. It happens right here, right now, each time we wake up. Now we may only awaken for a nanosecond, or perhaps only partially awaken when we do, but these experiences are not to be denigrated. As THN says, we are part~time Buddhas all.

Thanks so much for writing, you little Buddha, you!

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Blessings!

Leia Marie