La Pierna and the Hidden Mind


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Lately, I’ve become more interested in advancing the Spanish skills that I acquired in college over a decade ago. So tonight I subscribed to one of those Spanish language learning websites, $9.95 a month.  I was going through some of the videos on the site, deciding which one to watch, when the title of one of them jumped out at me:  “Marta explica el cuerpo – la pierna”. 

La pierna.  I felt a jolt as I suddenly remembered a dream I’d had the night before.  In the dream, I was chattering away in indistinguishable Spanish. Then I looked down and heard the word “pierna” come out of my mouth in reference to my legs.  Yet, still in the dream, I wasn’t certain as to whether I was using the correct word.  It felt like a sort of guess thrown into my lap.

La pierna.  An actual word.  I grabbed my Spanish/English dictionary, flipped through its dusty pages, and saw that pierna means leg in English.  The translation of the video title was: “Marta explains the body – the leg”.

I’ve been studying Spanish off and on for over ten years now, mostly off, and I know what I know.  I certainly must have learned the word for leg during my studies at the university way back when.  It would have been basic vocabulary taught to all students.  But I know that it is not one of those words that my waking, conscious mind has remembered. I know la boca, the mouth. La espalda, the back. I know los manos, the hands. But la pierna is just not one of those palabras that I’ve retained.  Yet, it came forth to me in my dream.

It just makes me wonder. How many things do we know that we don’t know we know?

A Train Ride and the Law of Spiritual Relativity


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The greatest blessing that I have received so far this year is the realization that I am good enough. This wisdom has come to me through Sufi, Buddhist, and Toltec traditions by way of cherished friends. I was born good enough, and so were you. Being good enough is not about being perfect, and it is not about being less than perfect. It is about the perfection that is beyond perfection that is inherent in the sacredness of our being. Everyone’s being. Mine and yours.

I am perfect the way I am, with all of my triumphs and all of my struggles. The difference between me and the greatest genius or the greatest imbecile is infinitesimal in the scheme of the universe. Likewise, the difference between my moral standards, emotional stability, and spiritual understanding and those of others is also insignificant. Each of us falls within the narrow range of human. Sometimes, I am a guide for those who need my assistance. Other times, I am swept along by the grace of others.

Life is a garden, and our only task, according to each of these wisdom traditions, is to remember how to be happy and, simply, to share love. When we comprehend this fully, life becomes play. Everyone I meet becomes my equal, because that tiny fraction of separateness and apparent difference between me and them is laughably small in the mind of God.

It is the law of relativity in spiritual terms. Think about that for just a moment, and you will understand a great deal.

Recently, I was riding on the subway when I sensed an underlying current of positive regard passing amongst all of us that were gathered there for this late-day ride home. It was a normal train ride – everyone ignoring each other as we swung around curves and were jostled into sudden stops and gos. Feeling anything positive in that environment was certainly out of the usual for me. And I realized, suddenly, that I was witnessing a truth that existed beyond the negativity my mind would have normally honed in on, the negativity that would have otherwise seen a dirty train full of depressed faces on a dreary afternoon. I was seeing an alternative, more authentic, reality – that each of us in that moment was in fact looking out for each other.

When you think about it, the evidence for such a reality is clear. The very fact that the subway driver’s intent during his or her course of duty was to bring passengers from A to B safely exemplifies the fact that we human beings as a whole are looking out for one another. On a typical train ride, people lift bags from seats so that their fellow passengers can sit down. They move aside so others can enter and exit the train. The entire phenomenon is an exercise in cooperation.

Now think of the bizillions of other instances in life where this is true. The paramedics show up at your door two minutes after you call 911. The weather experts do their best to alert you when dangerous weather is coming. It’s epidemic. Security, cooperation, and goodness are all around you every day. We aren’t always perfect in this task, but the truth is that we human beings engage in far more cooperative acts than we do harmful ones, and we are so shocked by violations to this unspoken basic rule that we blow the occurrence of hurtful acts way out of proportion. We begin thinking that they are more common than they actually are. Why else would murder, rape, abuse, and robbery make the news? If these things were commonplace to us, then reports about happy events would be the norm on the six o’clock news.

The reality is that we carry one another along all the time, and we always will. Love can be witnessed everywhere if we just start paying attention to the evidence that we otherwise take for granted. The wisdom traditions gently nudge us to do so, and maybe this is what awareness is all about.

The Essence


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The essence of me
Is not in what I do to conform -
To get by in this aspect of existence
Where survival and resourcefulness and proving oneself
Are central to life.
The essence of who I am
Is my barefootedness on a warm Mexican day
Listening to an Aztec astrologer
Tell his version of cosmology
In one-part Spanish, two-parts English.
The essence of me
Is not in the capturing
And counting of money.
The essence of who I am
Is there in that deep place that we go to -
The going-away or going-within
That emerges suddenly from a hand on a shoulder.
The essence of me
Is not in my ability to understand meiosis
Or park strategically in parallel fashion
To avoid the inevitable crashes that occur
Between strangers in the city.
The essence of who I am
Is an afternoon hammock,
Central America,
As monkeys nearby
Feast and drop silently
From a mango tree -
As if mimicking me.


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