Completions

{this is a longish one. A sample chapter from the book in progress. Enjoy!}

We all come in with multiple story lines to enact. Some people call this karma. In a completion lifetime, lots of loose ends get handled. They don’t feel like loose ends when you’re living through them.

Crestone, 2013

I loved the retreat house. I hoped it would be my house. My massage-therapist-healer friend Cathy, who found me the house, thought so too. “I think this is your house” she told me, several times. Usually while pummeling a tight spot in my muscles.

Albert kept asking me when I was going to buy the house. I kept hoping I would be able to say “now”. It was my house. I told the Infinite, and the Tara thangka on the wall. This was the perfect retreat house. I hoped I would be here a long time. I hoped I would be able to use this as a base for the rest of the incarnation.

I didn’t know then this was a pivotal pin in completion. It was the house I wanted in the life that was about to end.

>>>

This afternoon I have an astro-cartography reading. I didn’t know what it was either until Cathy told me. This is a reading from an astrologer who specializes in physical location. He can tell you, based on your natal chart data, where in the world would be beneficial for you to live at any given time.

Emails between me and Scott went well. He understood what I was asking! Is this location supporting me and how? What others are there? Is there a timing cycle I could be aware of?

The first thing he said nailed it. “For someone with your chart… well, for many people… Crestone is where someone would come to be betrayed.” When I replayed our recording later on, I couldn’t stop laughing. “Oh holy poo on toast!” And it wasn’t over yet.

>>>

I met Molly about three years ago during the bankruptcy period. She was instrumental in helping me to build a new website and get my work recognized. She helped me move to the mountains. Twice. Once to the Sierras from Berkeley. Once to the Rockies from Santa Fe.

When I had the stroke she fell apart. She couldn’t handle supporting someone for that level of healing. She had the skills. The timing was horrible. She wanted recognition and success for herself. She thought she had found someone who could help her get those things. She spent the better part of the few years she was in my life setting that up. One leapfrog after another she used my contacts, then used the people they were connected with. I was an accessory to spiritual opportunism.

I walked away from her in the Sierras. Drove across the country before I was physically ready to do it. Eight months after a stroke. Seven months after I could no longer tolerate the situation.

Sometime during those months I emailed my Santa Fe mentor. I was now able to read and write emails, if I limited my time at the computer. Tears ran down my face as I apologized in a way I had never done before. Leslie has assistants to review her email. One of them is a longtime friend of mine. Leslie asked her why I was apologizing so profusely. We hadn’t been in touch for awhile and it came as a total surprise.

“Someone is doing it to her” was the answer. “She knows how it feels now.” I was appalled. I saw why people had stepped away from me at various stages. Some ran.

I saw and felt how unthinkingly self-absorbed and lost in self righteousness my attitudes had been. Just when I was about to be fully awake. I had been such an ass. Had I blown it completely? Don’t be dramatic. It feels that way, I thought.

You’re awake now, yes? Everyone goes through this. Dissolving the ego requires experiencing it from both sides. First, from inside it, as though you are that. Then, consciously, as you watch it act out in another. There are two phases to experience. Acting out and observation in consciousness. You are now able to experience both at the same time. You are moving into light speed.

I moved into my retreat house in a roundabout way. The first time I left the house on Moonlight, it was because the owners were coming back to spend the summer. When they left in the fall I moved back in. Me and the woof.(Roshini was the beloved scottish terrier who was my companion for the ‘tough stuff’ as she put it) I spent the five months available to me hiking the creek trail and visiting the Divine Mother in her ashram.

I began my mystical studies with the Vedas. Vedanta embraces a wide array of God and Goddess archetypes. Most outsiders misunderstand Vedanta as pantheistic. The Infinite is always One. The various representations of God/Goddess represent the various qualities of divinity. The Vedas are the teaching stories of this tradition. The Ramayana. The Baghavadgita. The Upanishads. The characters that fill these epics represent how qualities of divinity interact with one another and within humanity.

During this alone time, I looked to the Divine for help. Afternoons, I drove to the ashram. I liked to visit between services and classes. The rituals had never resonated, but I loved the kirtan. The music. I loved how it felt in her hollow of soft light.

If I timed it right, I could spend an hour or two alone. In silence, at the feet of the Infinite, her Presence grew within me. The Great Mother’s energy is palpable within the grounds. It is easy to feel her there, especially near her statue and outdoors at the fire pit.

The store holds every aspect of the archetypes I loved. Siva, Lakshmi, Kali, Durga, Krishna, Ganesha, even Tara, though she is probably there to court the local Buddhist trade. At other times in my life I would have brought these images home with me to fill the house with their comforting vibrations. The mountain showed me otherwise.

The azure eyes of her statue followed me as I came and went. I listened more than asked. I attended the pujas for Navaratri, the nine nights of the Goddess. Each morning for nine days, at 10:08 AM, the fire pit was lit. Offerings of pure water, grains, oil, fruit and flowers were made. The seasonal incantations to Durga, Kali and Lakshmi sung. Each day’s devotions ended with a hymn to the Divine Mother sung to the melody of an ancient plainsong. I knew the chant from my university studies. Then, it was something to memorize and recognize for exams. Here, it haunted me.

I wondered as the women of this area sang the simple words with full hearts. Each day, one or sometimes all of them, would touch the ground in reverence, whispering “Ma”.

I recalled a tai chi exercise learned years ago. With each step, as you place your foot on the earth, whisper “Ma”. Remember that each step you take on this earth falls on sacred ground. I remembered. My gratitude overflowed.

One day I lingered a bit in the sanctuary. A loud voice interrupted me. “We need to prepare for the evening ritual now,” the caretaker announced. I was the only one in the whole space so I wasn’t sure why he had raised his voice. Most people speak in hushed tones here. “ If you want to participate you need to leave and come back in with everyone else.” I was intruding.

I’m intruding? Into what? How can…? “Please leave now” he stated, towering over me, his arms folded across his chest.

The women who live and work at the ashram had invited me to stay for rituals or services from time to time. I always declined. Formal practice wasn’t what I needed. This guy was rude and off-putting. I looked at the statue, feeling her laughter, and bowed out.

I still can’t say what changed that day. I have visited the temple since, even taken students there to visit Her Presence. The more forms of divinity we encounter, the more likely we are to recognize it in ourselves.

The last time I took my small group of retreatants to see her, she made things clear. My little group was meditating. It was time for a midday gathering of some sort and two of the women I’d come to know were motioning to me. We needed to clear the space. I looked toward the statue, asking that she send the ‘time to go’ message.

One of the men sitting there was radiant. Immersed in a sphere of light. “I’m talking to him right now” she told me. “You and I are complete.”

Later, JT asked me about a sphere of light he saw when I was speaking to one of the other students. He said he could see the light move around and between us. Grinning, I replied “Like the light around you at the temple this morning, right?” He chuckled, ducking his head. “Like that.”

The little yellow adobe house that was mine for awhile was built for meditation. An open floor plan with a loft bedroom, it is ideal for one. Situated on a double lot next to a wide greenway, it looks toward both the valley and the mountain range behind. The more I meditated there, the more I loved it.

Out on the edge of things, close to the retreat centers, this house was its own retreat. From the buddhist art on the walls to the simplicity that rang through the bones of the house, it fed my need for silence.

I had maneuvered the little sitting room into the exact configuration that would let me feel enfolded and still give me a view out the side door so I could see what Roshini was up to in her enclosure. Lifting my head up from my writing, movement caught my eye. Something large. There are bears in the area, so I got up to see what was going on.

Roshini was pouncing and leaping about two feet from the fence. Outside it, a young buck was fencing with her. Mirroring her movements. The whole herd had come to watch. They’re playing together! Don’t deer feel about dogs the way they feel about wolves? “Not this little one” one of the does piped up. “We love her. She only wants to play.”

Grabbing a fistful of carrots with greens attached, I crept outside, tossing them across the fence at random. Greens trailing, they weren’t the most accurate of missiles. One hit the haunches of the doe that had spoken to me. “Clumsy!” she laughed, nipping it up and munching. “Thank you.”

“May he come to play with her again?” the doe asked. “Roshini! You have an admirer!” “Of course” Roshini grinned. “He loves the light and I love to play! Under our bodies, we’re the same anyway.” Her eyes gleamed as she pounced away.

“He likes the vegetable bits too,” she admitted. After that I put something out every day. The San Luis valley is known for its local, organic ranches. The local wildlife appreciates it too.

>>>

Mountain light is amazing in the late afternoon. Golden and glorious, it reminds me of evening in Provence. Halos are painted in these colors. This evening, I meditate with eyes open to bask in the golden glory.

Reaching for the little mallet, I sound my Tibetan bowl to honor the sunset. The sound vibrates through the whole house. I can feel it in my bones.

Outside, Roshini is having a conversation, through the fence of course, with a little coyote. This little mama trots by the south-facing windows every evening just before sunset. Tonight there is something afoot. She notices me, excuses herself and trots away. Roshini begins to hum. It harmonizes with the resonance from the bowl, softly filling in the spaces in between. “Singing?” I ask her. “Learning” she answers.

I can’t sleep. I don’t know if it is the large dose of light from this evening or the summer heat in the loft. Roshini is downstairs on the sofa. From there she can monitor the whole house. A chorus of high-pitched howls startles me out of my attempts to sleep. Roshini is already at the door.

“Oh sweetie, if I let you out you’ll all be at it all night” I grumble. “Rrrruffff!” she answers, beginning to tune up. Her bark climbs the scale to a full-throated howl. “Okay, okay, better outside than in.”

The night sky is alive with stars. Standing on the porch listening to the coyote chorus, I tip my head all the way back. “Sing with us!” I don’t know why I hesitate. Fear of what the neighbors might think, I suppose. I’ve never been one to avoid howling.

A high-pitched howl erupts right next to me. “Roshini! You sound just like them!”

“Well that is the point”. “You want to sound like a coyote? Why?” I laugh as she lifts her nose to the stars, her voice traveling higher and higher. “This way the neighbors can’t complain” she teases. You want to sound like the coyotes so the neighbors won’t complain?

I laugh and the chorus erupts around me. Laughing this time. Laughing with the stars. Laughing with the moon. Laughing at the idea that a real voice should not be heard.

My retreat house went on the market a year and a half after I moved in. I’d made plans for what I would keep there. What I would leave for others who wanted to use the retreat. How I would hire it out. Proximity to the retreat centers and summer Rinpoche seminars as part of the advertising. I was never able to come up with what Albert needed for a down payment. It wasn’t meant to be.

>>>

Furriness nudging me under my chin. A wet nose tapping an insistent little tattoo. “You have to get up”. Mmhmm. Heavy energy. I’d rather stay here.

“Phone. Crystal and Chantall.” “Oh right. It’s early phone session day. Groaning, I heaved myself up and out of bed, ruffling the most gorgeous pair of furry ears in the world as I did so. “I’m up.”

I puddled down the stairs in the pre-dawn dark to make tea. 5:20AM. Almost time. I wrapped myself in a handy comforter and centered myself on the sofa. I felt worse and worse. Massive headaches. I was dizzy. The herbal tea was making me nauseous. It felt foggy. Oh. Psychic interference. Either we’re onto something big this morning or someone is really pissed.

I’d just about sussed that one when the phone rang. Chantall jumped right in. “Well, I almost didn’t show up today.” Ouch. She is the source of this! The pain doubled as I strained to pay attention. “For what I’m putting into this I’m not getting enough out.” Body slam. I haven’t felt this for at least a decade. “I’m glad you said that” I replied, through the psychic slime. “I was going to suggest that we disband for awhile anyway.”

The pain and fog lifted as suddenly as it had begun. “Okay, so what are we working on this morning?” Crystal asked. I don’t remember what it was. I remember feeling relieved when I put the phone down.

>>>

“Won’t you please pop over for tea Nalini?” Alice said. There is a saying in Crestone that if you need to talk to someone, or think about them long enough, you run into them at the Post Office. Everyone shows up there to collect mail. I tended to not run into people on purpose, but Alice had become a friend.

Crestone is a very small town. A village really. There is no such thing as everyone not knowing your business. There are a few odd ones who keep completely to themselves or to their own tight circle and no one else knows them at all. I gravitated to those types, being one myself. Alice straddled them all.

After asking her not to fuss for the third time, she sat down across her tea table from me. “Have you spoken to Chantall?” she asked with concern in her voice. “She’s injured herself rather badly”.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that”. I was. Truly concerned. I wanted to help. And I wasn’t going to hop into that kettle. “You know, Nalini, she has no idea what happened. She doesn’t know why you’ve disappeared.”

It wasn’t the first time Alice had asked. She introduced me to Chantall and her amazing galactic acupuncture skills. She knew I valued the healing and considered Chantall a friend. She wanted to understand my distancing. She thought if she understood she could help heal the breach. I know, I thought, sighing heavily.

“I have this funny way of not hanging out with people who hit me” I muttered. “Nalini for goodness sake, tell me what happened!”

The thing about Alice is she tells everyone everything… except when you ask her not to. She understands a confidence as only those with integrity can. I trusted her with one or two over my five-plus years in Crestone and she never said a word. Bless her. Friends like that are priceless.

This time I knew I had to spill. I would be leaving the area and had shared that with her. No rental showing up meant it was time to leave. “She and Crystal and I did some energy sessions together” I began. “I knew that” she replied. “Go on.”

“I knew that Chantall was going through a rough patch and wanted to stop our early morning meetings.” Alice nodded. “What I didn’t expect was to be attacked.”

“Chantall would never do that!” Alice exclaimed. “I thought that too” I interrupted her. “I was gobsmacked. When I first felt it that morning I tested my perceptions over and over. I didn’t want to believe it.” I took a deep breath. This was someone we both loved and I didn’t want to accuse or condemn. “Why do people feel entitled to hit?” Alice shook her head and shrugged. “ If she wanted out, she wanted out. She certainly wasn’t coerced,” I trailed off.

“Why did she hit you?” Alice asked.

“I honestly think she was in pain and miserable and took it out on us.”

“Can you not have compassion for that?”

“Of course! I love her. I wish her only the best. Why does refusing to put up with being attacked mean I lack compassion?”

“You know she’d be sorry if she knew.”

“I understand you thinking that and on the face of it you’re right. I don’t buy it that she didn’t know. We always know what we do at some level. She says she wants one thing. She does what she knows will prevent her having it. And she was willing to destroy her support team to avoid looking at her own self-sabotage.”

Alice raised her eyebrows. “Wow.” I took a deep breath. “I’m not angry at her, Alice. She is doing the best she can, like everyone else.” I paused again. Time for the whole truth. “I grew up being told to always turn the other cheek. Enough now. My bum is battered.” Alice laughed.

“You know she’d love to hear from you.”

“And I miss her friendship.” I replied. “I need to do what I need to do, and that means not allowing myself to be anyone’s punching bag. It is not a matter of forgiveness. I wish I could make even one person understand that.

Whatever it is that anyone did or does, it is already forgiven. Most people never intend to be cruel or mean. Even when they do, it is usually from some kind of damage. Everyone has their stuff. Everyone is conditioned. Everyone is learning. That’s a given. It’s like “Understanding Humans, 101”.

Alice smiled and sipped her tea. I went on, grateful for the chance to vent. “On this world everyone develops an ego. Human egos can’t be trusted. Bottom line. Egos are completely self serving. That doesn’t mean I don’t love the being wearing the ego!”

“You trust what is on the inside.” I added softly.

“I am constantly condemned for not being forgiving, for not having compassion, when that’s where I live! All the time! Or, conversely, I am criticized for not getting riled up, for staying calm and peaceful when everyone’s passions are stirred up. Compassion is a cool emotion. It sees through the drama and even the passion into truth.”

“Most people live through their wounding. They never heal it. They learn from it. And that’s… OK! I don’t need to jump in with them. Why is that NOT ok?”

“I understand now”, Alice sighed. “Are you sure you need to leave?”

“Yes.” I answered. “Albert told me this is the only place in the US he could stand to live and I have to agree. He suggested spending time with the mountain, though, not with the people.” Alice laughed.

“Where will you go?”

“I don’t know. I know the right place will show up. It always does. Nothing has shown up here so I’m meant to be elsewhere.”

A few weeks later I had sold, given away or put into storage everything I owned that wouldn’t fit into two Iceland Air-approved suitcases.

Chantall and her husband had turned up at the last minute to home my almost-new sofa for almost-nothing. It was Roshini’s sofa. She wanted Chantall to have it. I gave them a rolling shelf as well, carved by a local artisan. It told me it didn’t want to leave Crestone. I told Chantall I would have phoned her before I left. She smiled and said ‘I understand, Nalini.”

Some months before, I ran into her at the Post Office. She asked me if there was anything I needed to say to her. Need, I thought. No. I told her as much. I had given Crestone enough chances. What I hadn’t done was give me enough chances yet.

>>>

The last reading I had in Crestone was from someone in Santa Fe. Bryan Christopher of Foundation for Light is a transformational seer. Like me. I had a birthday reading from him the year before I left. He told me, among other things, that this was the beginning of completions. That I was finished with what I had been born to finish. I knew that. It happened in 2009 with the stroke and in 2010 with what happened after.

The thing that stuck with me was this: “You’ve done your work. That makes me happy to say! … And you don’t need to do anyone else’s.” Drum roll please.