So I'll start with a little bit of background. The day before I started to write this blog I had finally become aware of the massive anger that I held in me. It was anger at life/the universe because life/the universe had not reciprocated as I had expected. Somehow I had come up with this story that if I was 'good' (I mostly was) and I did the 'right thing' (I mostly did) then things would 'work out well' for me. Unfortunately life/the universe wasn't in on this story. Things did not 'work out well' for me, in my judgement, and I felt betrayed and thus became very angry.
Fortunately I found enough wisdom to realise that the story was total and utter bollocks. Life doesn't reciprocate nor does it not reciprocate. It just unfolds. 'Terrible things' happen to 'wonderful people.' 'Wonderful things' happen to 'terrible people.' I put all of those words in inverted commas because they are all judgements. There are no terrible people nor good people: there are just people. There are no terrible things nor good things: there are just things.
Anyway. I realised that I held the anger, I realised the anger was completely unfounded and I let go of the anger. The next day I started to write a blog.
What I like about this blog is that it captures how I softened and allowed the story to flow through me. Almost immediately you can see key elements of the story emerge (including the title) without me even knowing.
20th July 2012
I'm awake at 4:30am. I'm trying to integrate what has happened and the shift that has taken place. With the anger gone I feel myself returning in many ways to who I was. My gaze is softening again. My body is softening. My thoughts are softening. As my jaw unclenches so an easy smile appears.
"I am me." That phrase reconnects me with the reality that I am beyond fear. Fear is an illusion that only effects the "small" me. I must drop this nonsense I have learnt. That isn't just intellectual talk. I *feel* that I am without fear when I connect to the "big" me. I just need to practise extending that connection with the "big".
Into my mind spring these words:
Forget what you
And you will know
What you have forgotten
I don't know. And that is ok. I pretended I did. I had to pretend I did or my ego would panic. I took knowledge and I hung it like wallpaper over the cracks. But the cracks remained. The cracks weren't the problem. They were the beginning of the answer. The wall needed to fall and then would be revealed the truth that waited patiently behind.
The wall is falling. I catch glimpses of the truth. I have seen it before but it has been hidden again. Ego keeps trying to bring "knowledge" to bear and the truth is lost. I gently have to quell the ego. I have to forget so I will know.
Wabi sabi - the beauty of something that is simple and worn. The front door of an old farmhouse. The stone steps into a church, curved from countless feet. An old cast iron kettle. I need to let my wabi sabi show. The beauty of my simplicity and the wear that I show. Perfect in my imperfection.
Stay soft Ambrose. Stay light Ambrose. Be silly. Appear the bloody idiot. Find each of your fears and see them as the illusions that they are. Illusions that you created and illusions that you can end.
Trust. Even when you don't understand and don't believe. Especially when you don't understand and don't believe. Trust.I went out into the garden as the sky began to lighten with dawn's approach. I took my bokken and practiced my Aikido. The sword that kills, the swords that saves.
"Go and wash the bowl of your beloved."
"Which beloved? For all that I see are my beloved."
"Then wash all their bowls."
How do I help? How do I serve?
Hhhhmmmmm.....what makes me come alive? Is it Aikido? Is it writing? Is it driving? Is it interacting and inspiring people? Feels like that last one. Inspiring people. How do I do that?
I am clear on one thing. The most important thing of all is that I stay soft and that I shine. Then I am a gift to everyone that I encounter.
Maybe I should just start there?
21st July 2012
Dammit another early morning when I am actually really tired and just want to be sleeping.
But I am too excited! Plus I have to capture these insights or they might disappear.
Wow what a ridiculously obvious revelation that just arose in me. I don't love me. I love parts of me. But I don't love me wholly and unconditionally.
I love the bits that I approve of. In other words the perfect bits, the saintly bits. I love Saint Ambrose. But I really don't love the bits that fall short of my saintly expectations of myself.
I've been working so hard to become Saint Ambrose. Gosh it reminds me of a great cartoon I saw where a woman (I think mother) is saying to a bloke (I think her son) "I'll love you unconditionally when you stop disappointing me." I remember reading it and laughing at the profound truth in it. But I didn't see it is exactly what I am doing to me!
Can I really love myself unconditionally? Can I accept that I am this mixture of bits, some I think of as "good" and some I think of as "bad"? Ooowww - I just got a brief glimpse of actually being able to love me for me. Just the merest hint. Ooowww and again! Wow.
I'm me! I'm Ambrose! I'm great fun! I'm silly, and bouncy and goofy and loud and silly and funny and maybe just a little bit annoying. But in a good way because I drag people out of there darkness and graveness and seriousness and remind them of their fun and light. I distract and inspire and fill people with joy! I remind people of the child that is in them! I remind people of the simple joy of being alive! That child within them loves just being alive! I make a fool of myself, do silly dances, do silly walks. I SHINE!!! I SHINE!!!! People see me and they light up. They are drawn towards me and want to be around me because I remind them of who they are.
That's me when I love me and drop the judgements, the "I shoulds". "I should be more successful." "I should have more money." "I should own a big house." "I should work harder." "I should be serious and hard and successful."
But I can only be me when I am me. I can only remind people of who they are when I remember who I am. I only remember who I am when I love me unconditionally.
Gosh. It is amazing what I can see now that I am not trapped in the anger, the black tar. I still have sorrow though. I'm not sure if I should or shouldn't but I do and that is that. Bollocks to the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts".
Gosh I've been so bloody serious! I've been so NOT me. Except on rare occasions. For some reason the checkout at Capers. Ok the checkout at Capers when there is a girl working. Any girl. What is it about the feminine that lights me up? I love the feminine energy and for a brief moment I forget all the nonsense and the silly goofy me makes an appearance. And I watch them light up, I see them smile as soon as they see me join the queue for their till. That is the gift I have. To light people up! Just not quite so much with blokes. Sorry. Still a lot of gift for blokes but the women definitely have more of it. What can I say - women are cool :-)
The thing is the more I am me the more of me that I enjoy being appears. Things flow when I am me. When I try to do the "shoulds" my light dims and I begin dragging myself along.
It reminds me of a story Anthony De Mello tells about people in a car running out of petrol. So they push it to the next town. They congratulate themselves for getting there, take a breather and then say "Right! Lets get on! We've got 500 miles still to go" and they begin pushing the car again. They're fools! Stop pushing the car and put some petrol in it!
Well I've been pushing my car. I'm a fool! I just need to put some petrol in it. The petrol is embracing me exactly as I am. Dropping the worries and stresses of how I am going to make money and rebuild my life and just live it exactly as it is. I just need to trust that if I do that then it will all just happen magically. I'll be unstoppable. Yet I won't really be doing anything. Just being me.
I wrote a poem once that perfectly illustrated my lack of self-love with who I actually am though I didn't see it that way at the time:
He sits in the corner
As if forgotten
His clothes are simple
His needs are few
He holds on to the Great Centre
And wears a warm, broad smile.
I feel I know him
And maybe one day I will
For he is the real me
The true me and
Though I may deny him
He waits patiently, kindly, caringly
The "true me" is bollocks. That isn't the "true me". That's an element of who I am, a part of the whole. No better and no worse. In fact looking at him now he looks a little boring if I am honest! I mean I admire that his needs are few and that he holds on to the Great Centre with a broad smile (I'd have a broad smile if I was holding on to my great centre too) but he doesn't sound like huge fun.
Ha! Wow. I wrote that poem on the 20th October 2003 on an Aikido forum on a thread started by my friend Kensho Furuya Sensei (also a Zen priest). The internet never forgets apparently. Anyway I remember Sensei writing a reply which I didn't understand at the time. Here it is:
I am really enjoying your poems here.
The Holy Lotus of True Law proclaims,
Even a banana leaf can be a Buddha so it says,
Yet Buddhas or great gods as we may think. . .
The banana leaf is just a banana leaf. . . .
He was telling me I am perfect as I am. I miss my friend. He was my teacher. Gosh I'd forgotten that he died just as my world was falling apart. Life really did give it to me with both barrels. It knew I was strong enough and it knew it needed to give me both barrels so I'd get it. "He's a lovely chap but not that bright" thought Life.
Well I finally get it Sensei! I'm a banana leaf. Not literally of course. That reminds me of the saying when the master points at the moon the fools only sees the finger. "What are you doing up there?" "Being a banana leaf." "How's that working for you?" "Not terribly well to be honest. I'm quite peckish and a little chilly."
Ok. So what do I do? Nothing I guess. It's what I don't do. I don't listen to the "shoulds". I don't beat myself up because I am not Buddha/Jesus/Lao Tzu/Guru Dave. I'm not Saint Ambrose and thank god because he would be a bit bloody tedious.
I'm not going to try to change me one iota. Here I am! Look! Here I am! No you're not looking! Stop doing your serious stuff and look at me! "But I'm busy. I have very important work and I am very serious and important and grown up." I don't care! I'm here to remind you NOT to be serious! I'm here to remind you to be full of joy, to live life as a child does with joyous abandon. I'm here to remind you that if you're getting serious and grave and important that you're doing it WRONG! Focus on what you're doing as a child focuses totally and intently on playing with his Lego. But he's never serious - just focused.
Gosh. Is Ambrose coming back? I hope so. I miss him very, very, very much.
A little addendum. The end of the day and I still feel "it". Which is lovely.
It's interesting to be reading one of my favourite books, The Tao of Pooh, that draws on the infinite wisdom of the other of my favourite books, Winnie the Pooh. Though I've stumbled across my wisdom not through the words of a book but rather by the 'gentle nudging' of the universe it is nice to read this:
"But the adult is not the highest stage of development. The end of the cycle is that of the independent, clear-minded, all-seeing Child. That is the level known as wisdom. When the Tao Te Ching and other wise books say things like, "Return to the beginning; become a child again" that's what they are referring to. Why do the enlightened seem filled with light and happiness like children? Why do they sometimes even look and talk like children? Because they are. The wise are Children Who Know. Their minds have been emptied of the countless minute somethings of small learning and filled with the great wisdom of the Great Nothing, the Way of the Universe."
I feel like a Child Who Knows.
SIMPLE LIKE POOH
22nd July 2012
I'm still ME!
When I start thinking "Me" fades a little. When I stop thinking "Me" gets much happier and brighter. When I read "Clever Things" I start to fade. So I will stop thinking and reading and just feel and then do whatever I feel.
I still like the Tao. I can still read it a little but not with my thinking head but with my feeling heart. I "feel" I am going the right way so I trust that. It is fun to read lines like:
"He doesn't think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being."
That's how "Me" feels! Just in a lot more fun kind of a way.
I'm not sure quite what I'll "do" but I'm sure it will come to me if I get out of the way and let it. I wonder about doing businessy stuff because businessy stuff doesn't feel much fun. But maybe I can bring fun to the businessy stuff I do?
The more I am "Me" the better I do. Things just "happen" and no one quite knows why but they just do. They used to when I was just me. Then I stopped being me. Which seems kind of silly. When I stopped being just me then things stopped just "happening." So I tried harder and things got less "happening."
So I shall stop trying and "Just Be." Then I'll let whatever happens happen.
I am silly though. All my thinking and all my trying and all my "I shoulds" and "I shouldn'ts" and all my "wishing I was someone important" was all wrong. I was "doing" too much and "being" too little.
There is still the "Doing Ambrose" that is very worried by all this. It doesn't trust this one little bit and worries that things will "Go Wrong." It thinks I have to push and fight and force and work and worry and plan.
I shall just listen to "Me." If something makes "Me" shine brighter then I'll do that. I shall trust that - even if "Doing Ambrose" doesn't.
Today I will make my home feel more homely because that feels fun. I think I'll also try some new recipes for salads and other things that look fun to eat. But we shall see what the day brings and maybe I'll do something totally different!
23rd July 2012
It feels a little like Christmas morning every morning these days. Which is always a good thing. I wake up early and see who I am and it keeps being "Me"! I'm waking up early which is just like the old "Me" used to and the "Silly Me" really didn't. Or if he did he really didn't like it and secretly complained a lot about it. But "Me" wants to jump out of bed and see what this day will bring.
Which this morning brought two, yes TWO, lovely messages from Satya. Which is actually quite a bit better than Christmas.
I'm a bit concerned about "What I'm going to do". I know that if I am patient "What I'm going to do" will just naturally turn into "What I am doing". I'm also concerned that I am concerned as that isn't "Perfect". But I'm looking at "Perfect" and realising that that is actually just "Silly Me" wearing a clever disguise. So being concerned is silly and I shall just be "Me".
My friend Lao Tzu says:
"I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world."
Simple is quite easy. "Silly Me" definitely didn't like compassion but "Me" definitely does. Patient isn't really something "Me" is very good at at all. I want to being doing everything and have everything just so right now.
I know my friend Lao Tzu would tell me that impatience is silly and that the best thing I can do is "Trust" and just be "Me" and do the things that "Me" likes to do. So I shall tell my concerns and impatience that they are welcome to stay and have a cup of tea but I shan't talk to them because I shall be out being "Me."
My friend Jenya came over yesterday which was really lovely. She listened to me talk for quite long time but she said she wasn't bored and I made her a cup of tea that she liked. It was really nice to share "Me" with her and she said I seemed to be doing great and I agreed that actually I was.
It's fun having lots of friends about and my new home is a lot quieter. But it is fun being "Me" so I don't mind if I have fun on my own or fun with other people. Actually it is a bit easier being "Me" when it is just me because with other people I've always been mostly "Silly Me" and so when I see them I at least a little bit slip back into "Silly Me". So I like being able to practise being "Me". Like practicing by writing this. Then when I get confused I reread what I wrote and I remember what "Me" feels like.
I really do have to feel my way back into being "Me" which is funny. But it has been so long since I was "Me" and I have been "Silly Me" for so long that I have to check which I am being. But I have to be careful not to check by "Thinking." "Thinking" confuses me and tells me to go the wrong way. "Feeling" is jolly quiet and doesn't really say much at all but always sends me the right way.
I like writing. I was just feeling what I wanted to do today. I "Felt" doing business stuff with the entrepreneur idea and it didn't feel good. "Thinking" began to tell me I had to do it anyway. So I left "Thinking" with a nice cup of tea sat beside "Concerns" and "Impatience". Then I "Felt" what I wanted to do and "Writing" popped up waving its arms and looking very excited.
I did do some writing the day before yesterday. There is a story that also keeps jumping up and waving its arms at me very excitedly. It's called "The Sword that Saves". So I wrote this:
The moonlight filtered through the trees, glinting off the sword's curved blade. In the glade there were two men. One was standing quite still whilst the other, who had the sword, circled him. The swordsman was breathing hard. The other man who had no weapon was silent.
"Fight me you coward!" screamed the swordsman as he lunged to drive the sword deep into the unarmed man's chest. But by then the unarmed man was standing behind him, his posture relaxed, his expression grave. The swordsman whirled, his body like knotted rope, his breathing becoming more laboured.
"As I have told you many times tonight Saito I will not fight you" said the unarmed man softly. "I wish you no harm."
Saito's grip tightened on the sword handle "Wish me no harm?" he yelled "You brought dishonour to my family. There is no greater harm. Tell me your name so I might know who's life I shall end. Or shall you forever be known simply as the 'Coward'?"
As he spat out the last word Saito brought the sword in an arcing cut from high on his right down to his left aiming to slice the Coward in half. But the Coward had already entered deeply once again and there was nothing for Saito to strike. His exhaustion was so complete now that he stumbled and fell. As he hit the ground his grip on the sword failed and it tumbled across the forest floor.
Again the moon glinted off the curved blade as the Coward picked it up and came to stand over Saito. Fear filled Saito's face as he awaited the final cut. Instead the Coward smiled warmly and gently said "I wish you no harm Saito." Laying the sword down on the ground the Coward vanished into the forest making no sound as he left.
Saito lay utterly exhausted on the ground. He was too tired to move and he was too tired to think. He simply lay there breathing. As he did so his gaze fell upon the moon so high above him. For the first time he noticed how incredibly beautiful it was and tears welled up in his eyes.
I will play with the story a little more today because it "Feels right". I like the story because it has lots of action that young people will really like. It involves a magic sword and martial arts and men who do bad things and men (and children) who do good things. The children (and maybe the readers) learn lots of jolly helpful things as well that will help them find their "Me" and spot "Silly Me" even when it wears a jolly good disguise.
Gosh it is tricky because it is Monday morning. Monday morning is a "Time to be busy" and "Get on" or "The week will be wasted". Which all sounds distinctly "Silly Me" talk.
"TRUST!" Ambrose. Be patient. You don't need to "Force" anything. You don't have to push and fight - that's what "Silly Me" does. When words like "Lazy" and "Weak" and "Useless" appear make them a cup of tea but explain you're out being "Me" for the day. Be compassionate. It's ok those words appear. They will always pop by unannounced. "Silly Me" gets drawn into a conversation and thinks that they are his friends. "Me" sees them with compassion but knows that they are not his friends.
Be patient. It will take a while for "Me" to feel right and for "Things to just work out".
It's like Aikido! You *know* Aikido. The more you tense up, the more strength you put in, the more you force, the harder you "Try" to throw someone the worse it gets and the further away from the beauty and simplicity of the technique you get. When you relax and "Forget what you're doing" the attackers throw themselves. You didn't do anything. You know that! You've felt that. The universe flowing through you. You have to relax so that you can feel their Ki and having felt it you can redirect it. If you don't relax you cannot feel it.
So let the universe flow through you. RELAX! Then you will feel "Me". TRUST! "Me" knows. "Me" has always known. Look where "Silly Me" got you? Has "Silly Me" really got anything to offer you? When life "Just worked out" who were you mostly? "Me!" And when life stopped "Just working out" who were you? "Silly Me!"
Ok. I shall practice "Aikido" and turn and blend and harmonise and make myself a cup of tea (with 3 sugars!) and I shall play with writing today. Because it "Feels right" and it's the sort of thing "Me" likes to do.
Oh dear. I went to to make my tea and I saw my neighbour Yolanta(?) sitting outside smoking. She must be in her 50's I guess and looks a bit of a sorry state. I opened my door and waved to her and wished her a good morning and asked how she was. She gave a nice wave back and said she was ok but that it was Monday morning and she hates Monday mornings. She said she is stressed at work and her boss is back from holiday today.
It makes my heart ache. I wish there was something I could do to help her. All I could do was listen. I wish I could take her stress and fears away. All I could say in the end was that I hoped she had a good day and she wished me the same.
The best that I could do for her was to notice her, smile at her and send her love. Maybe in a tiny way she doesn't feel quite so lonely and quite so lost.
24th July 2012
Slightly off start today. But that's ok. I am not going to get caught up in the silliness of "Trying to be Perfect."
I have feelings of sadness and heartache in me and "The Judge" comes along and begins to tell me that I shouldn't and that it shows that I "Haven't got It." Well I'm not sure what "It" is that I haven't got but if feelings of sadness and heartache want to drop by then they are more than welcome. I shan't be rude and I shall offer them a cup of tea. But then I will explain that I am off being "Me" today and so they are welcome to stay as long as they like but I shan't be there to talk to them.
I would like to make "Trust" a good few cups of tea and have a good chat. I'm sure "Trust" would stop being quite so quiet and actually get jolly noisy if I told him it's ok and that actually I'd really rather like to have him sing and dance and play.
Today I shall mostly be a day of "Being Simple." Things get complicated very quickly when "Fears" and "Judgements" get involved. So I shall politely ask them to pack their things away so I can see the "Important Stuff."
I think I'll go for a ride on my bike when it brightens up a bit. I am sure that will help me to feel bright too.
I shall also do some more writing of "The Sword that Saves" today.
And I shall see my friend Amanda and have some delicious sushi and miso soup and noodles.
And I shall see if I can find some Broad beans.
And I will do tbe back exercises that Satya gave to me as they really help.
And I shall do some Aikido.
Oh and I'll do some push ups as I have done them the last 2 days and my injury seems to be fine.
25th July 2012
Well it's been quite a few days. I could very easily have been knocked for 6 but I've come through it all pretty well. I still feel soft inside. I still feel "Me". Which, given the circumstances, is quite an achievement I think.
I'm putting my trust in the multichorus. As long as I stay open, soft and "Me" and follow what feels right I will be fine. Even if so much doesn't make any sense to me.
TRUSTING THE MASTER MUSICIAN
26th July 02012
I embrace all that you bring
All the emotions that you ring inside me
Not the same note repeated
But an ever changing
Ever flowing symphony of notes
Let me soften to your touch
Allow my soul to be the perfect instrument
Trusting the Master Musician
Let my soul ring clear and
Fill the Multichorus
Let others hear the beautiful sound
So that they too might soften
Trust and begin to ring!
GOSH August 2nd 2012
What a transformation.
A little over a week ago I was lost as to what I was going to do and now I have 25,000 words of a novel written. A quarter of a book.
It is hard work and I am drained but I also love it. I *have* to write it. So write I am.
I am still trusting, still relaxed. still "me".
Life is good :-)