Sarah Kay is pure magic. Tell me who would not be elevated by hearing these words? Thanks to my brilliant friend Kathy, who has the very best eye (and ear) for powerful art.
The Super Moon
According to Discovery News, Romantics, werewolves and other moon gazers are in for a treat this weekend as they witness the biggest full moon seen in nearly 20 years. But experts are discounting predictions of earthquakes associated with the event. The moon’s orbit is elliptical, and as it follows its path, one side of the ellipse, known as perigee, passes about 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) closer than the on the other side — apogee.
A perigee full moon appear around 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee full moon. Geoffrey Wyatt from Sydney Observatory says this upcoming full moon, which NASA’s website says will be of “rare size and beauty,” will rise at about 08:00 pm (AEDT) on Saturday. But it becomes full on Sunday morning at 05:10 am (AEDT), one hour before lunar perigee.
And wow, here’s another fascinating story from the same issue of Discovery News (finally!): GOD’S WIFE EDITED OUT OF THE BIBLE — ALMOST
God’s wife, Asherah, was a powerful fertility goddess, according to a theologian.
THE GIST – God, also known as Yahweh, had a wife named Asherah, according to a British theologian. Amulets, figurines, inscriptions and ancient texts, including the Bible, reveal Asherah’s once prominent standing. God had a wife, Asherah, whom the Book of Kings suggests was worshiped alongside Yahweh in his temple in Israel, according to an Oxford scholar. Asherah — known across the ancient Near East by various other names, such as Astarte and Istar — was “an important deity, one who was both mighty and nurturing,” Wright continued. “Many English translations prefer to translate ‘Asherah’ as ‘Sacred Tree,'” Wright said. “This seems to be in part driven by a modern desire, clearly inspired by the Biblical narratives, to hide Asherah behind a veil once again.” “Mentions of the goddess Asherah in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) are rare and have been heavily edited by the ancient authors who gathered the texts together,” Aaron Brody, director of the Bade Museum and an associate professor of Bible and archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion, said. Asherah as a tree symbol was even said to have been “chopped down and burned outside the Temple in acts of certain rulers who were trying to ‘purify’ the cult, and focus on the worship of a single male god, Yahweh,” he added.
While thinking of Japan and the pain of the people who are experiencing the tragedy in Japan, as well as those in New Zealand, and the ongoing challenges in Haiti, my friend Kathy reminded me of the practice of Tonglen.
According to Pema Chodron, “The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be.”
TONGLEN INSTRUCTIONS (from Pema Chodron)
When you do tonglen on the spot, simply breathe in and breathe out, taking in pain and sending out spaciousness and relief.
When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice it has four stages. First rest your mind briefly, for a second or two, in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called “flashing on Absolute bodhicitta” or suddenly opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.
Second, work with texture. You breathe in a feeling of hot, dark and heavy— a sense of claustrophobia, and you breathe out a feeling of cool, bright and light— a sense of freshness. You breathe in completely through all the pores of your body and you breathe out, radiate out, completely through all the pores of your body. You do this until it feels synchronized with your in and outbreath.
Third, you work with your personal situation— any painful situation which is real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. However, as I described, if you are stuck, do the practice for the pain you are feeling and simultaneously for all those just like you who feel that kind of suffering. For instance if you are feeling inadequate— you breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat— and you send out confidence or relief in any form you wish.
Finally make the taking in and ending out larger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to everyone who is in the same situation. If you are doing tonglen for someone you see on television or on the street, do it for all the others who are in the same boat— make it larger than just one person. If you are doing tonglen for all those who are feeling the anger or fear that you are caught with, maybe that is big enough.
But you could go further in all these cases. You could do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies— those that hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief.
This is to say that tonglen can extend indefinitely.
As you do the practice, gradually over time, your compassion naturally expands and so does your realization that things are not as solid as you thought. As you do this practice, gradually at your own pace, you will be surprised to find yourself more and more able to be there for others even in what used to seem like impossible situations.
I spend much of my time with the fascinating, bewildering, beguiling creatures known as pre-teen girls. And I am discovering something very quiet but, I think, very big happening. I am seeing their bravery every day. In staying innocent, in liking your music no matter what others say, in confronting bullies, in vulnerability, tears, speaking your fears. I see a deep intuition in my daughter which reminds me that we all start with it, but often don’t believe in it and so, let it go. I am learning that it is courageous to feel things deeply, talk about them, change them if needed, and stand in your own shoes. I love the questions they ask, and the answers they offer up. There is attitude, too. A ten-year-old today is like a 15-year-old in my day. I think kids need limits, and they are always testing out the edges. Don’t we all. But I am feeling great hope for kids, in their innocence and natural wisdom and openness.