Full of Love

Another week with 100+ people in this place that I’ve written about several times before. We had a full schedule and very little time but I managed to take a few walks, some of them in the late evening, walking with a moon shadow. I don’t know if these photos manage to give an impression of the incredible beauty of this place. Especially the sunny September days are breathtakingly beautiful here.

The teachings and exercises were about topics that I won’t try to describe here in detail, but some of it had to do with the source of intelligence, as described in Almaas’s book about „Brilliancy“. And connected to that, complex stuff such as the oedipal complex and how it influenced our capacity to feel and express passionate love, or our tendency to sublimate this love into ways that were less difficult in the contact to our parents. Many participants, including myself, had very moving experiences of deep love. Amazing what capacities are waiting to be uncovered in us.

And no, even if these retreats take place in a Christian monastery, this stuff doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity 🙂

Solid Like Hematite

back at Kloster Schöntal with many old friends … each one a different color

deep in the west, a very thin moon
we’re very lucky to have a large moon like that
it stabilizes the earth rotation,
making regular seasons
and enabling life on earth

a walk under a very blue very wide empty sky
a sparkling sense of joy
little glowing dots seem to surround me
an exuberant lightness

the triangle of desire, self-rejection and hope
keeping us fixated in a prison.
it seems so human, so life-giving to have hope
„the life energy of it“
but then, no animal seems to need hope
and aren’t they the ones who are full of life energy?

the deep seated desire for love and acceptance
(we used to live in tribes without which survival was unlikely)
searching for it on the outside
getting some, losing it, never really safe
all the time unaware of the true love
until it comes to pick us up

sitting at the computer desk, waiting for the show to begin, chewing cardamom …

the conviction that I cannot do anything
the conviction that I have to do it all myself
how can both coexist?

I finally slept ok in the third night
to wake up at 6 out of a dream
in which I remembered myself as a young child
my own early childhood innocence and openness
was so moving that I had to cry.
images of old grown-ups in comparison
they were all distorted, grimacing, and sick of their lives,
sick of madness from having forgotten themselves for too long.

then that woman (not one that I know in real life)
she was like … the archetypal good mother
I embraced her and cried on her shoulder
moved by the beautiful memory of my own
long forgotten innocence,
and I woke up with this feeling. How strange
and completely unexpected

walking through the yard,
a friendly white cat comes to say hello
while the eternal flock of black birds
still circles the spires, shouting
as it will in a thousand years from now

spending much of the day taking care of
a dear friend who is in deep distress
did palpably consume some of my own energy.
I lie in bed after midnight with headphones
carried into sleep on the wings of an angelic lullaby
sung by another dear friend

coming from the toilet at 4am
the sky is full of bright large stars
reminding me of that painting
3 hours later, all is grey and wet from rain
and the birds sing early spring songs

still suffering from the previous day,
something becomes quiet.
What a luxury to be able to read a few Hafiz poems
before getting up.
It sets my mind back on track.
All is happening on its own.
And I know this. What a relief

later, the topic of hatred and the urge for revenge
the being cut off from all of this
(aggressive behaviour was forbidden, unthinkable
so there is something old and unresolved) –
I am unable to access this energy.
A major part of my unconscious seems to still be
mostly unresolved and packed away
while the sense for unicity and the nonconceptual
is already growing, all following its own plan,
bypassing this white spot on the map as it were
„you don’t need more experiences of unity“
i feel like a beginner
deficient and insecure. Why did I come here anyway?

„mindful work“ practice in this group can be anything
from needlework to cleaning up or gardening
to learning a choir piece
(I hear them down the hall, slowly getting there)
I sit alone in the hallway, mastering talk recordings.
The woman with the bell comes by and rings –
stop and be present …
resume work with the second bell signal
(it is so hard to stay present with computer work
at home almost impossible, it works better here)

and being present vs. being lost in the trance of thinking
can be heaven vs. hell – more than that
this goes way beyond what the mind can imagine

„dedicating this work to the awakening of all beings“

she feels stuck, without hope.
he asks her, is there anything you want to do?
she says, „yes there is.
I want to cry so loud that all the windows shatter at once“.
Yes! let us cry together, there are enough windows
for both of us to shatter. This energy
needs to be free.

early morning, the cathedral shrouded in mist
waking up after a good night’s sleep
my heart is still heavy
I can’t feel where this weight comes from
so often, this inner life is inexplicable
and so often, subject to change
on short notice
„stay with your experience“
rule of thumb
and always the wisest thing to do

an hour with a white-bearded man
looking at my heavy heart
doing various breathing exercises on the mattress
nothing spectacular or difficult,
but bright and light new rooms opened easily for a while,
rooms in myself that I had never entered before.
I want my body back.
when the convictions (saying I can’t do it) give way and dissipate
and the stories about deficiency and disconnection cease,
then I’m here, I’m at home, I lack nothing,
and something seems to reunite in love.
So easily!

„fake it till you make it“ I have to remember this advice.
Find a way, do whatever works
until the voices stop and the joyous simplicity
(that was there all the time)
can stabilize

another walk together over the hill
to the sacred spring cave
sitting in the bright February sun, talking, looking at it
and then back to coffee over muddy paths

positions and perspectives
how much they shape what we think we are
what would happen if they were all absent?

my two partners in the triad I worked in,
they both came to feel like newborn babies
one of them looking at her own hands in amazement
moving her feet
feeling insecure and happy

another foggy morning
rows of large trees along the river
populated with mistletoes
their tops fading into grey

the question of existence itself
inquiring into the feeling of existence
(grey and solid – like hematite? hmm)
different flavors of presence
still or exuberant
coming and going
the great joy of discovering together
what being home means

my black desperation when I lost it
my deep joy of finding it again
„hold it both at the same time“
getting beyond that dualism.
Ok, I’ll try that –

spacious presence without thinking or knowing
simplicity and peace
all the different flavors of the transcendent
and there are many more.

I come back from the walk
hiking shoes full of mud underneath

„when we know presence, when we are in touch with, and feeling presence, we are in touch with being“

Innocent Misunderstanding

That time of the year again – a Ridhwan retreat week in the Kloster Schöntal monastery, I’ve been blogging about these retreats before.

Sabine and me came directly here from our Lake Constance vacation. Since we spent a weekend here in June, she loves this wonderful place as much as I do, so she took the opportunity to take a nice walk (while I was busy setting up the recording for the talks) and spend another night in the monastery with me before taking the train home the next morning.

The weather was still warm and sunny although the nights got quite cold. Schöntal in autumn is full of beauty …

The week was wonderful again, it was a full week with very little time to take walks … but then, it often felt like we were taking inner walks. We were about 120 people, each of them somewhere in their inner process of finding themselves, but we did it together, so I sometimes thought of a large group of people climbing a high mountain together, each of them taking a different route, but feeling like a group nonetheless. I had several deep experiences that were completely new and unexpected – I surprised myself. How often does one surprise oneself?

„Because of an innocent misunderstanding you think that you are a human being in the relative world seeking the experience of oneness, but actually you are the One expressing itself as the experience of being a human being.“ Adyashanti

Spätzle-Country 1: back in Schöntal

A walk along the Jagst river …

Monastery garden

Beautiful old houses and castles

Strange creatures in pharmacy stores that look like a museum

Caves where strange folks are hanging out

Beautiful chapels

The monastery cathedral from one of the two walks we took today. Sabine knew this place only from my photos and is here for the first time. She quickly fell in love with the place, and already thinks about when to come back.

Through wonderful forests

and through fields … summer already

I loved this house

Light in another chapel

Corrosion and nice colors

Original inhabitants

One of the main ingredients of our holidays everytime

In the deep forest, beautiful flowers

Looking back

An apple a day

The monastery yards from outside

Meeting of the Spirits

through a world without horizon
steering the heavy car across small country roads and icy curves

towards another week delving into the depths of our souls
learning another chapter of the consciousness operating manual

then seeing dear old friends again, some of them after a year
too many hugs to give and take
feeling held and loved by a field of 120 people
so many unique lives … deaths, births
a talk and a quiet evening together

in the smaller group, a sense of:
we all have got our feet wet in this by now
a different sense of connectedness

„beyond the deepest abyss of fear, there is a peaceful dark pond“

the little pond behind my house in a clear night:
stars in the black water

spaciousness without self, without thoughts, without history, without purpose, without time, without meaning and yet, from there, the old self seems like a bad dream

„clear emptiness taking care of the entity,
black emptiness taking care of identity“

selfless spaciousness, a doorway –

a dialogue, a feedback loop of looking together at this deeper and deeper

looking at a favorite mechanism:
feeling lost when seemingly stuck in the old self
the habitual unconscious rejection of this feeling
makes „stuck“ even more unmovable

after this,
through a large snow covered garden
darkness approaching
stopping now and then and looking inside: complete peace,
truly passing all understanding
a flock of crows circling the old church spires

feeling painfully insecure during a gestalt exercise
meeting an old place in me again that I prefer not to go to
feeling insecure, deficient, and small like a child among grownups
feeling abandoned

later: feeling not abandoned but loved and seen and mirrored
aliveness and beauty

a tiny reflection in the dark center of an eye
a star shining in black emptiness

the false and hollow personality shell
actually feels stable and self confident at times
a prison

a long exhausting walk alone in a snow landscape full of nothing
darker clouds over grey snow fields
walking uphill over uneven harsh snow

an unexpected sudden surge of unusual clarity and transparency
lucidity like in a lucid dream, but awake:
opening eyes – the world is there

there is an amazing crystal clear nothingness now inside, for hours
the slightest trace of wanting takes me out of it
the slightest trace of wanting it keeps it away
the slightest trace of wanting is suffering
but each thought and each wish can easily be seen at once in that emptiness, and be dropped

an hour in the bar with old friends with lots of laughter

during one exercise, a sudden clearly felt recognition of the falseness of this personality, the pathetic little ego identity with its fears, the faked self-confidence to cover up the fears.
it is even using essential experiences, after they have passed of course, as colorful new bricks in the brittle petty little ego structure wall.
telling friends about these experiences, making the little ego feel more special – maybe a little admired even? how pathetic, how sad to unconsciously feel compelled to do that.
writing about them in this blog – isn’t this also just for making the false self feel more special? just to get some narcissistic supplies?

but then telling the group about this clear recognition, these truths, led to a very strong authentic and present feeling
please don’t take me seriously – it is all just fake!
fakeness and falseness are the foundation of this person, but there is obviously something other underneath that is neither fake nor false nor brittle.
this something underneath doesn’t come from personality, thinking, history, and it cannot be influenced or misused.
they all come to tell me that they see what is underneath – apparently better than I see it myself

how strange to think that there is something there that is really true, independent of opinions!
„objective truth“ –
philosophers cringe but they don’t know silence

standing by the snowy creek, she describes how she hears it with her whole body and how the water sounds are inside her.
this hasn’t happened to me yet although I think of myself as focused on hearing rather than seeing.
amazing what a wide range of experiences is possible and in how many ways perception gets deeper and more subtle
once one has begun giving up the personal identity and gets rooted in presence instead.

amazing how intense the feeling of freedom can get. what an incredible relief to be without oneself, even if just for a minute!

a warm happiness and feeling touched after successfully helping a friend who was in a dark fearful place for weeks to find trust and joy again

a bright blue sunny sky, what an unexpected gift
walking across the snow field,
there is a man (I know him) in the distance,
under the giant mistletoe covered trees,
alone, wearing headphones,
ecstatically dancing
I’m happy with him, this dot, this point,
from a distance,
forgetting his self for a while

a small amateur choir practising a medieval canon, unsure at first, later creating magic
oh to be in the presence of humans singing a beautiful song just to create beauty
so deeply human, so divine

later, feeling a little bit alone and uncertain, everybody busy or away
but then feeling a sudden joy and sense of adventure … grabbing the coat and going for an evening walk
the little path along the creek,
ice over the water,
snow on the branches
the path is suddenly so beautiful that my heart opens

ice cold blue evening slow steps in the deep snow along the river
the patterns of branches,
sharp silhouettes against the sunset sky
silence, standing still, listening
the old apple trees

the flock of crows circling the double spires of the old monastery cathedral

for how many centuries has this flock been circling the church, every morning, every evening?
the birds change, the flock stays
six o’clock church bells

the small groups meeting for „essential mirroring“
which turned out to be so loving, respecting, such a precious meeting
that it can’t be described without distorting it –
„birth of a diamond“
afterwards, meeting one from the group outside, a hug, a talk, still shattered and overwhelmed
i look up – over us the icy constellations, a giant red star, it can’t be Mars at this time of the year,
not this straight overhead –
Antares? Beteigeuze not far away –
then a sudden shooting star, dim and fast but unmistakably.
„a shooting star“ „so wish for something“
all that i always wished for (personally) is already materializing, magically, and much more, so much more.
she looks up and sees a shooting star too – shouting with delight

in the morning, still dark outside – waking up with that „strange immobility“ in body and brain
that K speaks about in his diary – I read a random page. how strange that the „symptoms“ are similar
like the engines of the mothership are running idle in my belly
that huge citadel, floating low above ground, lit up like a million christmas trees
coming for support, silently waiting – it has always been there but I wasn’t aware of it – I wasn’t aware

inner doing of years has slowly to be unlearned
any movement of inner doing is distortion
who am I to want something else than what is? how absurd.
to learn that doing happens on its own – this is not for the mind to grasp

then, chirping birds, another Wednesday
typing before breakfast, a friend shuffling the chairs around on the old wooden floor
a woman from the monastery cleaning the floor
loading talk recordings for editing, then breakfast
a silent breakfast again – trying not to disturb „this“

and then forgetting the connection to being, and landing in the old self again
like having been at the gates of paradise, peeking in, and being forced to leave again.
the pain of this is excruciating.
looking coldly at this I see that I have become a presence junkie –
attached to the deep beauty and the „rightness“ of these experiences of being simply myself.
an object relation maybe – nutrition and security: mother comes and feeds me – everything is good. mother leaves and I’m alone – I get afraid she’ll never come back.

so I wake up on the last day of the retreat, very early, can’t fall asleep again
and I feel so desperately normal, as on the day before.
like on a monday morning, it is raining, you have to go to work, nobody smiles at you, the world is grey and cold and depressing.

I stay with the pain and the hopelessness, what else can I do.

and then something remarkable happens – I have not the faintest idea how and why.
some tiny thought that I don’t notice, some subtle movement,
and all of that falls off again, just vanishes in an instant, like it has never been there.
no more fear, no more hopelessness, no more doubts – no thoughts,
and I’m home again.
this time there aren’t any unusual feelings or sensations at all,
it is completely unspectacular –
and it is this unspectacularness that feels so incredible.
i look again – it is still there, just simplicity – lovely simplicity.
i am so happy that I have to cry, so I lie there – a grown up man – in my bed in the early morning
crying in my pillow, so happy that I’m me, simply this, what a relief, what an overwhelming gratitude

this will probably pass again, and come back again.
is being born always so difficult?

„no thought or fanciful emotion could ever conjure up such a happening;
neither of them, in their wildest endeavour, could build up these happenings.
They are too immeasurably great, too immense in their strength and purity for thought or feeling; these have roots and they have none. They are not to be invited or held; thought-feeling can play every kind of clever and fanciful trick
but they cannot invent or contain the otherness. It is by itself and nothing can touch it“

law of the bridgeless bridge:
the abyss is endlessly deep. eventually
you find that bridge and cross the chasm –
then looking back, you realize that there never was a bridge
nor an abyss –
you were always beyond it

One Of Those Weeks

a grey field under a grey sky with one single tree on the horizon – muddy shoes – slushy ice – a woman with a yellow jacket – a very old roof – the smell of fresh paint – a hundred and thirty old friends – the whole spectrum of human folly, stupidity, intelligence, and divinity – squeaking wooden floors – securing cables across a large room with gaffa tape – hanging transparent glass images from a baroque railing – floating on a field of love

feeling tired and sick – too much coffee – people going from tears of pain to tears of joy – the shouting of playing children reverberating in long monastery hallways – subtle intricacies of a moment – a pain that seems to be hundreds of years old – is that me? no – is that me? no – who are you? what are you? – a hundred people chanting hu for half an hour, a shimmering pure soft chord hanging in the air – polishing cutlery that is already clean – the sun shining directly into my face – coughing sneezing coughing

many people having breakfast in silence – gazing into each other’s eyes for minutes (nobody seems to have eyes that are even and symmetric) – telling the truth ruthlessly – there’s that large shimmering, vibrating ball of light between us – old weeds frozen and brown – a light snowfall – suffering that i created without even noticing

constructed identities held up by self objects – a bell in space – a warmth – a wondering – confusion and ecstasy – the simplicity of stopping – a roaring storm that shakes the forest and that makes my tears violently flow with its energy – my face is wet in the wind and ice cold but i enjoy it – an opportunity half missed – her understanding goes much deeper than i can grasp – a simple openness, everything coming and going freely without disturbance, without grasping, without rejecting, without wanting, evaluating, judging, objectifying

idealization transference – this cake is not made by the monastery bakery – business emails and a half-nice cd review – throwing away everything old, but then using something new in the old way – being dumbfounded, without ideas – „becoming the world’s leading expert on myself has nothing to do with being fully present“ – a break in the routine – talking over a coffee – little girls, cuteness overload – a meeting on a floor, a glance, a smile, a nod – an unexpected tender touch – what is overlooked vastly outweighs that what is noticed – faraway voices, a glance to the watch, twenty minutes left to the next appointment – breathing happens by itself, thinking happens by itself – understanding with an added „of course“, what is it like without the „of course“? – an anonymous chocolate donator (but I think I know her) – new dates for 2011

„I do not care what others have said or experienced – I do not care what I have experienced in the past“ – old stories, questions about horizontal and vertical development, fund raising committees – a cheese sandwich – recording, transferring, cutting, compressing, normalizing, naming, and tagging talks – a man who is passionately in love with life – talks about music and blogging – a look across the room – sensory overflow and boredom – just sitting without doing anything (not even thinking) – the ikea model of identity formation – thinking of my father – a hand touching my back – a survival fighter with tears – tulip petals of timeless beauty

a sunset behind old pear trees – an ancient jewish cemetary – talks about relationships while walking fast – very muddy shoes – cable problems – a brown river flowing fast – a downloaded Bach piece that refuses to play – a thin layer of fresh snow – hugs and waving goodbye – we won’t see each other for a whole year – a last plate with warm food – he is already gone – back on the highway – the real world seems unreal