Well, that was a rough weekend.
Suddenly, Friday morning, the forecast changed, with the shocking news of Anthony Bourdain's death. It rained here on and off, dramatically, with dark clouds and sudden winds and downpours alternating with mist rising off the grass in sunshine. Moody AF.
The photo, of HHDL warmly connecting with a smiling Tibetan girl in the traditional dress, also happened this weekend. His Holiness continues, for decades now, to walk in grace and simplicity, beaming love and joy, while unflaggingly doing tremendous work on multiple levels and platforms to alleviate the horrific suffering, persecution and imprisonment of his people, and all people. He both smiles and prays, acts and advises, holds space and moves forward, works for Tibet and reaches out to everyone everywhere, and does not give in to fear or anger. He is alive on this planet at this time, showing us how we can be also, and that's very fortunate for humanity. He also openly cries at atrocities and massacres and so on. He is human and feels what he feels.
Here on the island, there were lovely things to do: free concerts, the annual sheepdog classic, a cozy dinner at friends up the lane. While I did manage to stroll up the lane Saturday night to the neighbors' invitation, I found myself unable to pretend to be present and happy enough to go out Friday night. By then, my suicide PTSD had been fully triggered and I was too sad to pretend to be happy.
I have close personal experience with it, let's just leave it at that. The after effects linger in the soma, in the psyche (the body and the mind), part of the shadow self, part of the unknowable. As Anderson Cooper said, in reference to his own personal experience, it never goes away. Only when something happens that vibrates that certain frequency does an unstoppable triggering occur, and Anthony Bourdain's strong presence and steadying voice of humanity extinguished by the unknowable anguish was that something. Being a wounded healer is useful, a timeless archetype.
I realized this wasn't the time for me to put on the happy face and mingle, and cheer on the fine local musicians giving a free show at an awesome venue, even though I'd really wanted to go. As my feelings surfaced, I realized this was an opportunity to feel what I felt as a being of deep sentient awareness and empathic responses, who clearly had more grieving and releasing of still-held emotions to undergo on a personal level. I could feel my shadow side relaxing, grateful that I was going to give it room, sacred space, privacy, and support, to express and come into the light, instead of sending it back down to the basement, on the logic of needing to keep it together, cheer up, carry on, and be there for what others were doing.
I am fortunate to be able to simultaneously feel strong palpable shifts and surfacing emotional body memories and responses while also observing the phenomena—as all inherent phenomena—as empty, like the clouds and rain and mist and sun passing through. I remind myself to be nowhere (now+here). The weather metaphor was a gift for me to observe, and made it less sad to be pretty much glued to the couch while it went through its changes.
As I felt what I felt, I wasn't angsting over why, or how could he, or oh how it must have been... My shamanic teacher taught me, in the advanced trainings for working with other people and the souls of the dead, that we never know, or presume to know, what someone's soul path is, or why they may be suddenly called away from this reality, for any reason. It is not part of the work, of our jobs as practitioners. And it is a mystery we do not have sufficient information from this perspective to fully understand. Even in deathwalking a departed soul, the shaman does not ask for explanation.
To project speculations onto a soul journeying on, a journey of some duration, peril, and multiple variables that requires as much clear light support and protection as has been accumulated through merit, is—like paroxysms of fear or grasping for the situation—unhelpful to the soul's well-being and journey onward. To put it simply, they have enough to deal with, and particularly in the case of suicide. The departed needs as much peace as possible. We all do. Peace, love, and understanding, as always. Understanding we can't understand but we can amp up the love is also called compassion. As Dr. Seuss might say, my compassion grew three sizes bigger this weekend, for everyone, including Mr. Bourdain, my dearly departed, and myself.
So, I let the weather move through, aware that some deeper levels of grief had been allowed to surface, and some deeper levels of timeless love expressed through the united outpouring of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual subtle bodies. I was gifted with the lightening of my body-held trauma, and felt another layer of equanimity arise, which helps quiet the bewilderment.
I also created a pop-up altar in the workroom, as seen on my Instagram, let the smoke rise and the candle burn, and said the Hero Releasing from Fright invocation that is helpful to those journeying on, and those remaining. The ancient prayer, written by the 1st Panchem Lama of Tibet, who lived 1385-1438, contains the title of my poetry collection, Into the All Empty, itself a treatise and artifact of loss through the shattering act. I can practice for the souls involved, while also feeling what I feel. And knowing the emptiness in the Oneness.
As we steer our little boats—our little dish of sticks and skin, as I wrote in one of the poems—through the murderous churn, it is miraculous that we exist at all. The beauty of the butterflies, gliding through the brief sunny patches of the weekend, the birdsong, the two bucks grazing their way around this place were they too exist, all the beauty of nature I live for, continues, while elsewhere children are being taken away in trains to lie in cages, and their parents are being told they will never see them again. A rough weekend to have to hear about it, and rougher—much rougher, inconceivably rougher—for them to endure. A big fat no to suffering and cruelty, for anyone, anywhere, anytime. I created a strong intent that each one, parent and child, be surrounded by their guides and helpers, calling all angels, and to those seriously messing up their future lives by being a participant in the severing and incarceration and ill-treatment, that their hearts and minds might open. All this of course while we stop this through law, through congress, through the courts, through activism, through editorial outcry, through everything we've got.
Stanza 13 of Hero Releasing from Fright:
May we be set in one-pointed profound meditation
In the exalted wisdom of joined innate bliss and emptiness
During the four empties upon the melting of the moon-like white constituent
By the fire of the lightning-like Powerful Female.
Rising above fear is the gig, kindness is the path, freedom is the goal. To balance, the lojong slogan advises: abandon all hope of fruition. But not out of desperation. Out of the wisdom that, as stanza 15 says:
If, due to karma, an intermediate state is established,
May erroneous appearances be purified
Through immediately analyzing and realizing the
absence of inherent existence
Of the sufferings of birth, death, and intermediate state.
All through the weekend, there was beauty, and goodness, and light, alongside the sorrow and shock of this beautiful human being's death and just plain awful news of inhuman treatment and shattering policies by madmen set on global destruction. There was a horse who ran so fluidly and gracefully it simply galloped around three race tracks with thousands of humans screaming at him, and a 52-year-old jockey crouched over him, because it feels good to run flat out.
There was the Dalai Lama reaching out to a beautiful Tibetan girl in traditional dress, both alive and smiling and openhearted despite more than half a century of both being punishable by death. Photos on the feed of friends enjoying this beautiful world, traveling around, and friends living here and there posting about their lives, their work, their kids, their blooming flowers, their cats and dogs. The Parkland graduates singing Season of Love at the Tony's, and Robert DeNiro posing in real tough guy stance, fists raised, giving a hearty Fuck You to You-Know-Who, and getting an unanimous standing ovation, seen around the world.
Stay strong my friends.
Today is a new day. The sun is out, and I'm going on a little ramble over to Maury, to pet a friend's cat while they're away, to pick peonies no doubt drooping from the rains, to gaze at the mountain and send the prayers and wishes, to breathe in and out and move my limbs and be alive.
I welcome, intend, and invite health, wealth, truth and grace to surround me, so I can do my work, walk my talk, and be of service to anyone wishing to rise and fly, to have support for shadow work, to help the departed across the river, to discharge the binding links of past hurt, to receive guidance on present and future matters, and to release from fright, like a real hero.