Category Archives: Philosophy

Gratitude and being

The most wonderful morning. The most wonderful now. I woke up, and my head is clear. I am myself. I am all here, what it is I call me. It is so welcome, I am so glad, so grateful to be here again.  

How to explain it? The past ten days, my head, my self, has been full of gaps. I called it fogginess, light-headedness. But it was more like a kind of hollow absence. Part of me aware that other parts of me just weren’t there. I felt this before they told me about the brain mets. And it had been getting worse, only feeling partly integrated as me, even lying flat.  

My consciousness told me, the self is illusory, there is no I. There is no self. You are just letting go of the self.  

But inside me was a lament. It was so hard for there to be anything but a lament, even surrounded by love and support. Who was surrounded? What was here? Am I being me? I didn’t know, as though I was remembering who I am. 

Yesterday, all the rest of my wonderful family arrived. We had fun. That is what we did. It was fun. And I relaxed into it, and I was there, and we all were. It is wonderful. And then I woke up today, and I feel like me. From the nourishment of my loved ones. From leaving all of it to the divinity of the universe. Who knows why or what’s next, but this is now. Now is wonderful. 

 

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Two beautiful days

The inspiration of my son arriving Friday night, and my sister arriving last night has been wonderful. Being with them is a breath of life and freshness. Yesterday I talked to Stephen about his life in
Melbourne, and it is all so perfectly suited to him, most especially all the philosophers he has met. Today, we have had a glorious Easter morning, co-ordinated by
Marion, with chocolate designs draped everywhere. We all went to the pool, and watched the sunset over Nightcliff beach. Everyone wished on the first star.
 

Tonight we watched Gerald Durrell, all lying together on my bed. Then Gillian and I talked and shared time. She did some reflexology on my feet, deliciously relaxing. Everything was close, everything was together, everything was wonderful.  I feel so peaceful and at one with what is, and with those I love. 

These have been days of moving into the moment. To start with, there was a fear in me, still, of ‘not getting it right’, of ‘not appreciating all that is’.  I read yesterday in Tolle’s Practicing the power of now, about just observing what he calls the ‘pain-body’ – anything at all that is resisting your being in the moment. Don’t even try to dissolve it or let it go, don’t judge it, he says, just observe. So when the fear, the doubt, the planning for what would/should happen next was sneaking in, I just noticed. And somehow, it was replaced with…merriment.  

My two principles for today: observe, and listen. Listen and respond to what is happening in my body and all around, as it happens. And it was as if so much more did happen. Because I allowed it, because I was in it.  

I feel young and inexperienced in being this way. Let’s hope for more merry days.

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The next stage of the journey

I have been letting the next stage wash through me over the past two days. My scan results showed a many brain metastases, swelling in my brain, my lungs, a lot of growth in the liver, bony growth on the base of the spine, which is what hurts. I am taking a steroid now to try to reduce the swelling and help with the foggy feeling in my head.  

I also had a potassium and magnesium infusion yesterday, as the levels were low.  

Today I just let go and was how I was, how I felt. Up and down. Confused, sad, happy. Happy that I’m here and today I feel better than yesterday. I still went to the pool, and enjoyed walking in it. I had a delicious dinner of a minted rack of lamb. I am hungry often (this is a good sign!) and I savour and linger over every taste and flavour.   

This is what is, now.  

I talked to a counselor today, who said, what is fighting? What is letting go? This is a good question. What is, is, and this is I don’t need to fight. This doesn’t mean that I give up, but more that I don’t resist the moment itself. I have talked to the doctors about re-commencing chemo soon. Then the letting go is accepting the moment of that. I hope my cloudy mind can still make some sense.

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Down and up

Today was a strange combination. I woke up at 5.30. I peacefully meditated. I felt filled with light, and with knowing that all is well. Nothing needs to change. I can let go and accept that all is as it is. Accept that all is love. Myself and others and all that is. There is no difference. No separation. No burden.   

Then I went back to sleep from 7.15 to 8, and woke up profoundly exhausted. Exhaustion became the focus. It made the scan difficult. I went back to sleep afterwards. Then I did feel well enough for physio – but went back to sleep after that.  

I played mastermind with Kieran. We enjoyed it. And of course I’d hoped we’d go to the pool.  But then the energy level plunged again, to the point where it was almost too hard to breathe. I was considering going up to the hospital. I managed to eat, and slowly some energy has slipped and spiraled back into me. Not a great deal, but I can sit here and write. 

Only this much though. Enough. The exhaustion made me very present-oriented. It was my only focus, getting through the next moment. I wonder how it was the manifestation of what was meant to be for today. How it added to my understanding of love and letting go and being. I don’t have enough brain to think about it, but I believe it.

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Two days to shake the world

I’d thought of this title before I heard there was an earthquake in the
Solomon Islands last night, and a tsunami warning. Must have been something in the air. Or the earth.
 

Every moment is a challenge. Today is the day before my scan. Wednesday is the day to get results from the scan. The range of change, re-adjustment of perspective, from that could be from very good to very bad, to anything in between. It is scary. All the possibilities leap out at me.  

But what of today? This morning, my emotions are fragile. I try to let go of the inspector of feelings, and be gentle. The inspector would like me to have a really good day. The inspector finds it hard to think of anything good enough!  

This is the same when the inspector looks at what I did yesterday. We went to a Japanese association lunch. I didn’t get much physio practice in the morning. Then I did chi kung and meditation. Then we went to the pool. I got over-tired and took a few hours to recover from that.  The thing is, the point of it all for me – and for the inspector  – was sharing experiences with my children.  All the time, there was the inspector, wanting everything to glow and overflow with meaning and joy and significance.  I was walking in the water, talking to the children and Mike. We were having fun, it was fun. The inspector, though, felt we could be having more fun. The inspector judged that there should be something I could do to make this all more, for all of us, to make this a treasure, to make this spectacular…  

So hard for me to learn how the present does not bear the weight of constant assessment. That seeing that it just is a treasure is what is. That I can’t be or feel for others, either, only be with them and be what I am now.  

It is moment to moment what so many of us are trying to do with our life – live in its meaning. But that can only happen if we are not constantly judging and valuing.  

Watching the cat, lying on the bed. She just is being a cat, not wishing, longing, striving, for anything. 

Later

It’s 8pm now, and I’ve had a wonderful day. I did let go and be. I played Scrabble this afternoon with my nine year old, and focused on it, and had fun. We all went to the pool, and instead of evaluating I relaxed and we enjoyed it and I didn’t overdo it.  Now we are at home having Chinese takeaway for tea. All simple pleasures and all a delight and we will look at more world-shaking on the other days. Today was today, and it was wonderful and it still is. I accepted what it was instead of battling it to be something else. It was an opportunity all along.

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Compassionate witness or inspector?

Being in the moment means observing awareness as well as being and doing. Wayne Dyer calls this taking the position of the compassionate witness to your life. This is part of awareness of love and perfection in the moment. I try to nurture it.  

This morning though I noticed that quite often my observer is not so much a compassionate witness as an inspector. When I wake up, something in me notices how I feel, and then immediately makes a judgement. Is this a good enough feeling?  

Occasionally, the inspector decides, yes, this is relaxation, this is happiness, this is contentment, and my feelings relax and everything is rosy. But more often, it judges, no. This leads my mind into a surge of activity. I identify the ‘problem-solver’ that tries to please this inspector of feelings as being my mind. I suppose the inspector of feelings is also part of my mind, but it seems like a distinct part, very rigid in its standards. My mind tries very hard to sort out what the problem is, with constant reference back to the inspector of feelings for judgement on whether or not this will make me and (even harder to judge), the loved ones around me, ‘happy’. Sometimes the inspector assesses that my feelings have lifted and are content after a few suggestions for being and doing. And other times, nothing will do. Sometimes the inspector is harsh, judging that my problems are caused by not doing exactly the right thing, not only in the past, but right now in the present, surely if only I tried harder, followed the right advice, understood things properly through better actions and thoughts, everything would be all right? If it isn’t, it must be my mistake, my fault, what can I do to change it? 

The compassionate witness does not make judgements. The compassionate witness observes the feelings and thoughts, and accepts them, as part of the perfection of everything.  Everything is all right… Even discontent, sadness, pain, suffering. Sometimes, not resisting these feelings gently lifts them, sometimes gloriously lifts them and replaces them with joy and lightness. Sometimes.  

I will try to keep the compassionate witness there, in place of the inspector.

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On chanting and the best of all possible worlds

I chant the Lotus Sutra, nam-myoho-renge-kyo, which is part of many Buddhist traditions, but I have learned it through SGI Buddhism. To me, what it stands for is the divine perfection of everything. When I chant nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the primary focus I have is that everything is perfect as it is, and also perfect in how it continuously changes. A vision that everything is happening at exactly the right time, and is always happening as it is meant to be. All I have to do is be open to this. It is always there, it is my attunement to it that varies. Everything is always changing, and always perfect in the same way.  

A friend was talking to me about whether there were ‘unchanging truths’, going along with what I wrote about all truth being temporary. When I was writing that all truth was temporary, I meant more my individual perception of what I believe, who I am, how I interpret my experience from moment to moment. But I do believe there are larger universal truths. Most of which are paradoxical, such as all things being both perfect and perfectly changing. All time being eternally present.  

Sometimes when I chant I also focus on what I would like to happen, how I would like perfection to be. This is part of the tradition I have learned the chanting from. But I find the greatest peace comes from allowing the idea that the perfection already is, and that I am part of it, more than from intensely focusing on my own version. My own version still induces a feeling of attachment, desire, potential suffering from non-realization of something. Seeing the perfection that already is is much more liberating.  

From a philosophical persperctive, I have read Voltaire’s Candide, where he makes a mockery of the theory that ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’. He puts the poor innocent Candide, who has been taught this by a philosopher called Pangloss, through all kinds of torments, until Candide gives up on this ludicrous idea, and decides the only way to cope with life is to ‘cultivate one’s own garden’.  

I can see why the theory appears ludicrous. Of course the world is full of torment and horror. Often I feel this way. Often I feel this way about my own life. I can’t say that I am always filled with that spirit of nam-myoho-renge-kyo. But I do know I can feel that way, and it is overwhelmingly beautiful. It is similar to the sense of peace in meditation. But it is different means of accessing that sense. It is easier to access through chanting from a state of emotional disruption. I was feeling that way last night, when I realized I’d be spending either last night or today up at the hospital getting a potassium infusion instead of going out for lunch with Mike on my one appointment free day.  

But today hasn’t been so bad. I have been up at the chemo unit having the potassium, reading, and mostly sleeping. I thought we might still get to the pool with the kids afterwards, but there was a thunderstorm. Anyway, although the potassium was supposed to renew my energy, I feel tired from it. I hope to be rested enough for Mike and I to go to see the Bee Gees cover band tonight. My leg is certainly in a much better state for going out than it was for St Patricks’ Day two weeks ago.  

So is everything in a state of divine perfection?I know that great gurus say ‘nothing ever goes wrong in my world’. I have read also that people who have had Near Death Experiences also have a sense that everything that ever happened, ever has happened, was always just right, there was never anything wrong.  There is also a rational position that this is the best of all possible worlds, because there is no other possible world than the one that is. But rationality is not the source I am coming from. Rather perception.

 

There is so much peace and love in focusing on the perfection of this moment in space and time. It is hard to maintain on a moment to moment basis. But having chanting and meditation and making the time to keep accessing and training with these is a blessing that fills my spirit with light and purity. And it is true. I can feel it.

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