It’s always the same.
Barbarians and blockheads, rival queens and kings,
The drama rolls on and on.
When people honor you,
You are supposed to feel honored.
When you don’t get respect, they expect
You to sulk in indignation.
One minute you are cruising on a throne in the sky,
The next you are standing on some bleak patch of dirt.
~Yukti Verses #102, Radiance Sutras
This verse, part of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra translated by Lorin Roche in his book, The Radiance Sutras, has helped me to put into perspective the characters and actions that grace American politics and the local and global violence, destruction, hatred and greed that unfolds before me on the news, in my social media feeds and in discussion boards where my neighbors complain about a 2% increase in some tax or another. It is, quite frankly, why I don’t belong to any “mommy groups”. Quite frankly, I don’t care how you potty trained your little genius and I certainly don’t want to waste time watching an argument between strangers regarding the appropriate techniques to unfold before my eyes in varrying degrees of aggression, shame, and self-absorbed righteousness. But, I digress!
It is important to recognize that we are not special. This time is not particularly special either. The first written version of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra appeared in Kashmir around AD 800. The drama rolled on and on then and it continues to roll now. I recently read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “Inside the Now: Meditations on Time” and he introduces the book with a very matter of fact listing of all of his little brother and older brother monks who were killed during the colonial war with France in Vietnam. Young, un-armed monks, shot to death at temples and on the street. What do we have now? We have little children gunned down in their elementary schools, the victims of a storm of mental illness and a culture that accepts violence as quality entertainment. We have marathon runners losing life and limbs and a heroin and opiate addiction problem and college students inebriated and using sex like a weapon against themselves and one another. We do nothing to help new mothers and families with young children, yet we are quick to judge and “click clack” our tongues when we see on the news that some napping mother’s two-year old toddled out the front door in a wet diaper—again. We are asleep with our eyes open.
The verse ends with a great instruction in how to release ourselves from this cycle of ups and downs and the drama that rolls on and on:
I say, the Sun regards all with a steady eye.
The force sustaining Earth and Sky
Calls everyone to awaken from this trance.
This whole world revolves around an axis, and I am that.
When you are friends with the Friend to All Beings
Nothing is the same.
Rich beyond measure, abundant beyond counting,
You can move through this life laughing.
Opinions of others have no rulership over you.
The Sun Regards All With A Steady Eye
Sometimes, I like to use a visualization with the sun for a sort of quick cleanse. I invite you to try it too. No matter what is happening, while sitting or standing somewhere safe and somewhat quiet, feel the soles of your feet growing roots down into the earth. Feel these strong roots as cool, wide, and deep. Then, picture a sun, a glowing orb of yellow light, sparkling right above the crown of your head. Feel the sparkly yellow light cover the whole outside of your body like a sparkle poncho.
Don’t roll your eyes at me! Give this a real try, then, whether it works or not, start a band named “Sparkle Poncho” and give me a little shout out when you play your first Super Bowl half-time entertainment gig. Better yet, why not send me a small percentage of the check in gratitude with a little note about how I changed your life and you can’t believe you rolled your eyes at first. Now, back to the visualization…….
Let your skin soften and relax and feel the boundaries of your body ease into the safety of this bright light of covering. You may find that all this relaxation has caused all the tension in your body to travel to a specific spot. For example, you are all blissed out, but your jaw is clenched and mouth tense. Or, maybe you are wearing your shoulders like earings. Try to let that go too.
Now, allow a gentle warmth to spread into the cellular body, filling your bones with this sparkly yellow light and then your organs and all the fluid of your body. We are mostly water and you can see yourself like a glistening ocean in the sparkly sunlight. Feel all of your opinions, identifications, ideas, commitments, priorities, attachments soften with each exhalation until all you are is sparkly light. Know that this is the same sun that warmed the faces of your ancestors and shines upon all living beings. Share in this light that is beyond time and space. In this knowing and sharing, we can access our friendship to the “friend to all beings”. We don’t have to like everyone or be friendly to everyone or act like someone we aren’t, but we can use this shared light from the sun to enjoy a moment of connection to the “friend to all beings”.
Finally, re-connect to the cool roots through the soles of your feet and feel that earthy energy as it moves up through your legs, hips, belly, spine, middle back, heart, shoulders, arms, hands, throat, neck and face. Enjoy this grounded feeling into your skull and whole head. You have been cleansed of all negativity and fear by the sparkly yellow light of the infinite sun that shines upon us all equally. You can not be swayed by winds of this time that attempt to yank you around in swift contradictions. You are grounded in the truth of the timeless sun that shines equally upon us all.
Here is an MP3 recording of this visualization for you to listen to or download and play whenever you need it. It is less than four-minutes long. Just don’t play while you are driving, operating heavy machinery or trying to change a poopy diaper because all those activities require your full attention.
Barbarians and Blockheads
If you ask me to name some people that I think fall into the “barbarians and blockheads” category, I can answer you quickly. Actually, the list is long and ranges from people I have known intimately to people I just see on television or read about in the Atlantic Monthly. Recently there has been a video traveling the interwebs of a little five year old Syrian boy who is covered in dust and bleeding from a head and face wound and he is alone in an ambulance. He was in a building that was bombed. We see this suffering and we don’t know what to do with it. Even worse, it pulls our own history of suffering out of whatever cave it might have been resting in and chokes us. We shout out in genuine compassion for this young child who is a victim of circumstances he certainly isn’t to blame for. But, we also cry from this wounded place inside of us where we have held on to experiences that left us “standing on some bleak patch of dirt”.
Whenever we find ourselves “standing on some bleak patch of dirt” we have options. I believe we have infinite options. Sometimes I like to just stand there and sob and then send text messages to anyone I think might read them about how bleak my little patch of dirt is at the moment. Many times these good friends take a moment to remind me of times when I empowered myself jump off that bleak patch and used that leap of opportunity to shift my enegetic geography. Many times these good friends stand with me in solidarity and let me know that they see me there in that patch of dirt and, for what it is worth, I’m not alone. I’m grateful for this message too. But, Thich Nhat Hanh has a message that releases us from that geographic location of the bleak patch of dirt and provides the instruction that:
Each moment can be all the moments; each moment is an opportunity waiting to be seized.
If you feel that you have been wasting time trying to garden in a bleak patch of dirt or you know you are guilty of engaging with the barbarians and blockheads du jour, Thich Nhat Hanh says that this is ok because you can re-connect with the now. In this moment, there is an opportunity. Right now. Each moment can be all the moments. The Sun regards all with a steady eye. Make friends with the Friend to All Beings.
The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight. By Lorin Roche, PhD. Sounds True Press 2014. The verse used in this blog post can be found on page 137.
Inside the Now: Meditations on Time. By Thich Nhat Hanh. Parallax Press 2015.
This was written by Sharon Fennimore. Please join me for an online course or a class or workshop. Share this post and guided visualization with all your friends. Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a new post and get FREE access to my online course designed to help you clear emotional and physical clutter.