2010 Archives

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Kosmos  — perhaps one of the loveliest journals that exists — features an article by Anne Hillman on Personal and Global Transformation in their Summer ’09 issue. Kosmos takes no advertising and has spared nothing to make it a feast for the eye, hand, and mind. The  art and photography are spectacular and I love the feel and look of the print version. This particular issue is the first  to go online and you can read the digital version of Personal and Global Transformation here. Unfortunately, the online version doesn’t separate an article’s headers from the text as clearly as they are in print.  However, you can also get a back copy of  any issue of Kosmos from their “subscribe” page. I guarantee you: to read each issue is an amazing experience! And I am still surprised and very grateful to be included in their immensely creative adventure.  

Offerings   the quarterly journal from the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose CA, is dedicated to "Spiritually Conscious Living in an Awakened World". The Summer ’09 issue includes an article condensed from the first chapter of Awakening the Energies of Love by Anne Hillman. The Center welcomes people of all traditions and as well as those who may feel spiritually ‘homeless,’ and meets countless local needs as well as those of people around the world.  I am grateful for the emailed daily inspiration from Spiritual Director, The Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian. Like all the Center’s publications, the journal is aesthetically satisfying and  filled with wisdom. You can request a free copy by writing the center at info@csecenter.org 

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The ground is saturated here in California. The small lake over the hill is brimming, and there’s an unmistakable scent of warm mud in the air. I know that smell in my bones: After every March thaw in New England, we’d put our lawn chairs on some bare ground between patches of snow and sunbathe. We knew it wouldn’t last: it would snow again in April. But the smell of mud held a promise of new life and we reveled in it. We lived our little bit of spring in the midst of winter.

Once in a while, we get a glimpse of something new half-seen in another person or an event, a promise of something that wants to be born. It signals a different take on things and a manner of living it fully. Even in the midst of discouragement and fear, all of us can develop skills that will lend energy and impetus to that kind of creative possibility.

It is very difficult to see the many kinds of suffering around us and to live with the infinite slowness of change. We want to solve these problems and get results. Much as we long for solutions, they don’t always happen on our watch. Then it’s easy to become disappointed, discouraged, and afraid. Fear is a powerful god. For some of us, the more natural response to fear is to recoil, give up, or get cynical. Others may be more likely to take sides and try to trounce the opposition. These old kinds of reactions, the winter we live in, are taking a huge toll on all of us. But there is a more creative way. The alternative, when things go very wrong, is learning to give our attention to two things at once: To focus directly on the pain (rather than denying, ignoring or repressing it), and at the same time, hold it in a much larger awareness than thought. This capacity to embody and live from a mind that is not divisive, but instead heals, is available to all of us. You can find several examples in Awakening the Energies of Love and The Dancing Animal Woman. Even as things fall apart, we need to hold the larger vision, together. We can hope to live spring in the midst of winter!


Filed under attention, Change, Creativity, Love, Nature of Change, overcoming fear, Vision by Anne Hillman #

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Readers have been sending such wonderful questions.  Here’s one that really helped me to get clearer in my own mind about awareness and its relationship to instinct and intuition, the wisdom of the body:

I’ve been reading Chapter 5 in Awakening the Energies of Love, ‘Mind and It’s Evolution, The Foundations of the Soul’. Where in the three levels of the path to your soul, physical, heart and intellect, do you include instinct/intuition in the physical? Thank you, Nancy

This is a wonderful question, Nancy. Here are a few thoughts that have occurred to me. While your question has to do with which area of self houses instinct/intuition, I’ve had to split them apart to make sense, but really they are only a part of the soul process.

A friend said to me long ago that the more time you spend living and walking the Tao, the more likely you are to have synchronous experiences. I think that holds true for intuition, too. First comes discipline and practice. My experiences of intuition over the years, tell me that it is/and is more than instinct. Surely, Aboriginal lore has long hinted at a root connection to other members and to the earth that goes very deep. Sometimes called the Aboriginal telegraph, it is a way of knowing about something that may be occurring on the far side of the continent of Australia. I would call that an instinct, built into the body’s way of knowing. Intuition itself is often so subtle, we don’t notice it, but it offers a nudge, be it a push a pull, or an emphasis that can take us in a different direction.

But to me, the greater Awareness is larger than instinct, larger than intuition. It is a gift, and comes through the entire instrument that we are ‘our bodies, hearts, minds and soul’ yet this Consciousness is more than all of them, and we will never understand it, nor can we find its location or its source. Awareness like this transcends and incorporates them all. It is infinite, eternal, and has no constraints.

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Yesterday, I went out into a summer field and was stunned once more by the immense creativity that surrounds us. What an amazing variety of trees, grasses, scents, and birdsong! The wildflowers a riot of color! It is easy to forget this glory as we reel from the many disasters in our world. Rather than awe, we may feel helpless, frustrated, or afraid. Surely, we need to make room for these feelings. But the sheer wonder of existence is that each of us also shares in the vast creativity of the universe. It is our inheritance, and the kind of creativity that is most needed in our time. Every one of us has an inborn gift to bring to the world. It may not be ‘fancy.’ But it is uniquely ours. We may be completely unaware of what our gift is; it can be different from anything we’ve ever done. Still, we’re more likely to learn about it when we’re far from the culture’s noisy demands for attention and undistracted by a mind full of thoughts: when we’re in a field, in a forest, or on the beach, simply there: no book, no computer, no iPhone. In moments like these, nothing separates us from ourselves or from the upwelling life around us:

In the wilderness

my mind spreads out like water

pools

shines

reflects green boughs

and blue sky . . .

I listen to the trees whispering

and think no thoughts

(From Awakening the Energies of Love, p. 78)

When we sit quietly and listen, not to our thoughts, but to the silence that surrounds them, we occasionally tap a vein of intelligence that clearly doesn’t belong to us as individuals. Like a hint that bubbles up from energies moving through the cosmos, it comes out of the blue like a whisper or image arising from a deeper place than imagination. The kind of prompt our inner antenna detects rarely seems like anything important. It feels more like an inclination to do something very small. But when I actually take a step in response to that inclination, I find it becomes a way of participating in the world more fully than just by following my own ideas. I call it ‘following my thread.’ I like to think of it as one of the many threads the creative energies of the cosmos are weaving into a tapestry larger than I will ever understand.

Few of us find our creative gift all at once; we come to it by degrees when we listen to the silence, prepared to say ‘Yes!’ to what emerges. Then we follow our thread. The keys to following are these: We need to know we are enough. That what we have to give is welcome. And that the more we immerse ourselves in the natural world and listen, the more we’ll find of our real selves. Then we can give to others what we alone have to give.

In celebration of the wild creativity of the universe, and with Love,

Anne

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This is a letter from a reader regarding my article on personal and global transformation written for Kosmos Journal (see this website’s sidebar):

Dear Anne, I read the Spring/Summer ’09 issue of Kosmos Journal yesterday, and I was very much ‘heartened’ by your saying: “…when  we soften our focus, remain alert, and drop deep into the silence of a self we know well enough to be able to let go of the slightest aggression in mind, heart and body.” Heartening, because I still find myself racing up into my head, from my resting place in my torso, to defend against extraneous mind darts or projections meant to provoke or ensnare.

Thank you,

Patricia

Dear Patricia! Thank you for your thoughtful note. As you can imagine, when you write to a computer screen, you wonder who will read it and if it will even speak to them! So I am very grateful to you for letting me know how you felt about the article in Kosmos Journal and that it was heartening for you. Actually, when I read your honest statement, it was so real, all I could say was, Don’t we all, Patricia! Don’t we all!  Would that we could sustain our orientation to the peaceful center, and not be pressed by the deeper roots in ourselves that are purely concerned with our own safety and survival.  I write about that and how to deal with it in Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time. But it is a process, Patricia, and so, like you, I try, and sometimes the gift of inner peace comes, and sometimes it doesn’t. I feel immense gratitude for that kind of peace, always, whether or not I succeed in reaching it. And I do believe that it is of profound importance to the planet that we continue to practice peace in our hearts as best we can every day. But it cannot be done without honestly facing the deep and very real conflicts in ourselves.

With blessing, Patricia, and great Love,

Anne

Filed under Inner peace by Anne Hillman #

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A majestic buck stands outside my studio window, taut, muscular, sniffing the air. The bucks come down from the hills to the fallow fields when the days turn cool, as precise a movement as the flock of geese swinging a compass high overhead. I find comfort in the returning cycles of sun and season. They offer balance when much of the old order I’ve taken for granted is in grave disrepair.

How to maintain balance when it seems that all we’ve relied on is unraveling? Along with many others, it is a question I ask myself. In a thoughtful letter, a reader from another country writes that in his profession, he counsels others to develop the capacity to bridge differences; that ‘seeing every point of view is an essential starting point.’ This man has made a lifelong effort to live according to his highest values, and despairs as he sees his country being vandalized by a government which has hijacked our democratic system and which shows no interest in the dialogue essential to maintaining it. He concludes: ‘I must confess, I have my work cut out for me when it comes to maintaining equanimity in the face of the ongoing savaging of this planet.’

This is the work. When all around us people are polarized by fear and anger, we need not lend energy to the battle. We can stand in the fires of social confusion and choose a more radical way: to take no enemies. A mind set against something is not conscious in the best sense of the word. It is operating at a more primitive level. Real consciousness requires us to live with an open heart, made fierce by anger and softened by the grief we feel for our own shortcomings and those of the world. Hearts filled with compassion know what it is to feel helpless before what Whitman called ‘life’s fierce enigmas.’ But I think when we’ve accepted the truth of our own profound vulnerability, we can begin to surrender the many ways we’ve tried to guarantee the outcomes we want, and learn to trust Life’s own unfolding, however uncertain it may be. It leads to a quiet mind, one that’s learned to how to hold all kinds of inner and outer contradictions and not expect to solve them. From this kind of consciousness, we can serve what we value most, and at the same time, refuse to be co-opted by the hostilities swirling about us. Perhaps then, we can work for the good of all together, and breathe new life into a suffering world.

We belong to life, and we can trust that life knows how to engage us creatively. Our work is to be present, to listen, and to step forward when it taps the potential deep within us. Then, whatever social, global, or environmental changes lie ahead, we will be participants in life’s creative unfolding and the gradual awakening of Love.

From Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time