Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Log

The Log
In the pantheon of US holidays, fourth of July was always my favorite. It was special because I spent twenty five summers in Provincetown at the very tip of Cape Cod. The holiday required no gifts, no family dynamics, no emotional drama. It was so simple. You watched a parade, went to the beach, had a BBQ with friends, then enjoyed the fireworks in the evening. It was a holiday that represented summer, sun, and fond friendships that for me lasted over thirty years.

The Log was an old wooden beam about twelve feet long that washed up in Provincetown bay. It landed on the beach in front of the Crown & Anchor hotel where it remained for years. It was well-known as a landmark. To our group, The Log represented stability, continuity, and our personally marked territory on July 4th. Because everyone on Cape Cod wanted to come to Provincetown to see the fireworks, The Log was deemed our gathering place on July 4th.

To secure it, we had to claim The Log and that section of beach by 7 a.m. the morning of the holiday. We took umbrellas, beach chairs, blankets and all the paraphernalia we would need during the celebration to mark this blackened beam as ours. One person was chosen to remain and hold The Log until we all arrived with coolers later in the day. It wasn't hard duty because the Crown & Anchor played patriotic music all day long. And the people watching was superb.

Now, thirty years later, things have changed. The country still celebrates July 4th with parades, gatherings and fireworks. Those long ago summer days are sweet but distant memories. Those pals from the Cape got older. Most of us moved away. Like so many quaint places in Provincetown, the "old Crown & Anchor" is now an upscale hotel, too grand to host non-guests on its beach by the bay. You might wonder what happened to The Log? It was dredged up and unceremoniously hauled away when the Crown & Anchor was remodeled.

Every July 4th holiday I think of those friends. I can still smell the beach and the gunpowder from the fireworks. And I always hear Kate Smith belting out God Save America from "The Crown's" speakers. Her voice and that song say July 4th for me. But The Log is the grandest memory of all. For it was our touchstone no matter what was happening in the world.

You see, The Log was our metaphor in time and space. Those summer days on The Log sheltered us when AIDS was rampant and the world's financial markets were in disarray. The Log gatherings allowed us to laugh, remember, forget, sing oldies, and eat lobsters. The Log was where we said goodbye to friends lost to AIDS and where we welcomed new ones into our midst. Each summer when we returned to the Cape The Log was still there on the beach, promising us that all was well in our little world.

The Log is long gone but the message it left behind is easy to recall. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. Spiritual teachings say that everything is in a state of becoming, living, then dying and becoming again. The Log's message is, everything is in transition. It reminds that rituals are necessary in the human experience and celebrations a tonic.  Thirty years later I still love Kate Smith and fireworks and still hold those friends close. But, as things change so did my new favorite holiday which is Thanksgiving. I also know that one day, this too shall pass! That's the real message of The Log. 

                                                                                                  Jo Mooy - July 2017  

Friday, June 2, 2017

WU WEI - The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing
"Sitting quietly. Doing nothing. Spring comes. And the grass grows by itself." This Haiku poem
by Matsuo Basho (1600's) floated into my inbox one morning after the US election. Sitting quietly and doing nothing was definitely not part of my game-plan that day. But, I tucked it away thinking if things "settled down" I'd revisit it at a later date.

Things didn't settle down! After the inauguration the country was more divided than ever before. Visible agitation and personal anguish were expressed everywhere. Some felt we were on a runaway train back to the dark ages. Friendships became irretrievably broken. Sadly in other cases, long term marriages or relationships ended because of election results. The very active "group-mind" behind the right and the left were at polar opposites. Neither side could agree on any topic.

After a few months sitting in this symbolically stretched-thin rubber band, I was at a loss on how to move forward. Then I remembered two spiritual teachers and the practices they taught me for when things seemed most bleak. The first was to be consciously aware of what you're doing and the second, reflect on what is actually transpiring behind the obvious appearances. So I took stock of my daily life. Being tied to the computer (which supports our many projects and seminars) was partly to blame. Bombarded by constant news flashes I was swallowed up with
anxiety just like everyone else. I had to do something pro-active. I clicked a few buttons and disabled the News Briefs, Facebook, and Twitter posts. Instantly my knee-jerk reactions to every breaking headline or post stopped. Ease entered the work-day. I focused on creative work instead of the chaotic news cycles with their inane talking-head commentaries.

Then, "Spring came and the grass began to grow by itself." I remembered the Haiku to "sit quietly and do nothing." What an indulgence that seemed. I looked up the concept of sitting quietly and doing nothing and found Wu Wei. It's one of the greatest principles in Taoism known as "action in non-action." That sounds like a contradiction but it's not. It's actually allowing our actions to happen effortlessly and finding that the actions are in fact, part of a greater flowing alignment. So I sat quietly, doing meditation practices, sending healing and blessing to governments around the world. A contented feeling washed over me that "the grass would grow by itself" or in other words, "All is well."

While I wasn't immune to the daily news, the practice of Wu Wei allowed the second spiritual
practice to form. I started looking behind what was actually transpiring and saw a bigger picture emerge. Reasoned individuals who had long been silent were mobilizing in support of their views. People who didn't care what was happening in the outer world, began to care again. They were marching, writing Congress, completing polls, contacting friends, attending Town Hall meetings, and some even taking the dramatic first step of running for public office. They were organizing into waves of action in a flowing alignment.

I'm much older now than the days when I too marched on Washington for various causes. Those marches in the 60's and 70's set in motion civil rights, the US withdrawal from Viet Nam, women's rights, Roe v. Wade and gay rights. The ones marching and lobbying today, along with those content with the status quo, will also see the results of their efforts playing out in the years to come. If actions are in alignment with a common purpose, and intended for the good of all, we'll experience the results of all their efforts.  It's happened before and it will again.  In fact, it's much like experiencing an exquisite cup of tea.

Why tea? Consider what transpires unseen and unknown behind a cup of tea. Things are happening behind the scenes.  It grows in the higher elevations of the earth. Tropical clouds
overhead create the rain that waters the tea bush. Human hands lovingly pick three or four perfect leaves from each stem, drying them for days before the crop goes to market. Auction houses buy the tea then ship it to the various countries to be purchased by brand or type by ordinary consumers.

Each cup of tea you enjoy contains an immense geological, geographical, political and social history. The visible and invisible efforts of the elements of earth, water, air, fire, and human hands create that exquisite cup. That's exactly what's happening in the external world. Our collective consciousness is affected by the activities of everyone who demonstrates for change. Some do it quietly on the internal world, seemingly doing nothing. Some do it fiercely in the outer world by marching, organizing, and lobbying. All put their desires into action, aligning with a purpose.

Wu Wei says there is "action in non-action." Whether we're active or not, the tea still grows. In time a delicious brew awaits us. Or as Julian of Norwich said, "All is well!"

                                                                                                 Jo Mooy - June 2017

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Life After Death

Life After Death

After physical death there's an inherent part of the human psyche to believe that the soul, or its
equivalent, goes into another realm of being. From earliest childhood I saw beings from other worlds in dreams or with an inner sight. When I got old enough to attend school, the nuns and Jesuits replaced those visions with stories of heaven, hell and purgatory. Stories of spirits were drummed out of me. It took many years to unravel that indoctrination and resurrect the more real imagery of my childhood.

I was 25 when my grandmother "Bobo" died. Two weeks after her passing she appeared in what I thought was a dream. Except I'd opened my eyes and she was standing there in a long white gown next to my bed. She took an object out of her pocket and handed it to me. I said "It's the number 8. She said, "Turn it on its side." The message for "infinity" was clear. In April on her 88th birthday, her daughter, my Aunt Polly, died. As I wrote the numbers 88, the hair on my neck stood up with the coincidence of Bobo's infinity message.

Polly was my hero from the age of 12. She was an independent woman who did things her way. She drove a green convertible MG sports car before graduating to a big truck. She built things. She rode motorcycles. She loved fished and boating. She was All City and All State in softball and basketball. She traveled and camped in a van all over the country with her life partner. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40, she told the surgeon she'd survive. She did for 48 more years until she was felled by a stroke.

Our family gathered for her funeral in Jacksonville. Most of her contemporaries had already passed on so it was a small gathering. I wanted to be alone with her for a few minutes so
waited until all the visits, tributes and accolades were over before entering the little chapel. I was now alone with her in the now dim room. 

I stood in front of the casket to thank her for the influences she had in my life; for the role model she represented to me as a strong, proud and independent woman; for teaching me to drive in her MG; and to water ski on my first try. (It helped that she told me alligators were in the river.)

I told her I didn't want to see her frail condition as she died, but would stand with Janet, her life partner, and the family in saying goodbye. Finally I said, "I love you Aunt Polly." The moment I said those words, I love you Aunt Polly, a white flower in the large flower arrangement that was on top of her casket fell. In slow motion, the flower hit the casket, bounced off, and came to rest on the floor in front of me. Intuitively I felt her, knew she'd heard me, and this was her message back to me. It was the only time I shed tears.

I went out to find the family and tell them what had just happened. They asked where was the
flower. I said on the floor. They insisted we go back and get it. As we walked into the chapel two men from the funeral home were wheeling the casket out a side door. The only thing left where the casket had been was the white flower. It now sits on our altar.

The following night I had a dream about Aunt Polly. She was dressed in a white summer dress. Her hair was curly and short. She was about 35 and looked radiant. She was "hosting" a memorial service for everyone at a swank white restaurant. Then she whispered to the family members, "Let's get this thing over with so I can change into shorts and a T-shirt. I'm going fishing then we're going to eat at a real Fish Camp." With those words, I knew Aunt Polly was just fine and had survived Life After Death!

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - May, 2017  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Mosquito and the Dove

The Mosquito & The Dove
One is a tiny annoyance, buzzing around and biting the unsuspecting victim. The other is a gentle bird making cooing sounds and threatening no one. One is a menace to anyone enjoying an afternoon in the park. The other sings its songs in the enjoyment of the park. But can a mosquito or a dove change your life? Yes if you've killed one. Such is the story of the Mosquito and the The Dove. 

When I was six years old, my playmates were all boy cousins. We traveled as a "pack" playing games or trying to outdo one another in contests of strength or skill. One day we decided to make sling shots. It took hours to choose the right tree branch, cut it to size, and carve the V-shape just so. Finally, each of us had a perfect sling shot. Next we had to find our prey.

We set up a target and fired small stones at it. Then growing bored, the boys began to aim at birds in the sky, missing each one. Taunts and wagers filled the air as each stone flew wide of its mark. Then I spotted a mourning dove on the ground near a distant hedgerow and announced I could hit it. My cousins jeered telling me there was no way I could hit anything that far away. I drew back the rubber sling, aimed at the mourning dove and hit it. I watched in horror as feathers flew and the bird disappeared in the undergrowth.

Though I survived the cheers and back slaps of my cousins my eyes filled with tears. When the boys went off to other pursuits I went to the place I'd last seen the mourning dove. On hands and knees I searched for her. Reaching into the dead leaves at the bottom of the shrubs I looked for feathers. There were none. Sobbing, I looked for blood. There was none. I pulled all the low branches of the shrubs aside, examining each one. I knew I'd hit the dove with a stone but there was no evidence of the bird. I went home bereft. 

That night in bed I imagined the injured bird had hidden itself from me. I saw her nest with the
eggs now untended. I knew she was dying alone somewhere, all because of me. In the silly moment of showing off to my cousins that I was as good a shot, or better than them, I'd killed an innocent creature. The pain wracked me with guilt and grief. I knew, even at the age of six, that it was wrong and I had not only hurt it, but something precious inside of me also died. I cried myself to sleep that night and many nights after. Decades later I still live with the sadness of taking the life of this most gentle of innocent creatures. To compensate I declared the mourning dove my totem, treasuring them and their sounds ever since.

Years later a spiritual master told me his story of killing a mosquito. He was playing with his grandchildren and heard a mosquito buzzing them. The kids began to cry because the mosquito had bitten them. So with determination he stalked the mosquito, killing it. He said he knew better but felt no guilt about it. He didn't question whether he should have or shouldn't have killed it. But suddenly everything froze. He went into twelve seconds of silence realizing he had killed something that he was intricately connected to. He was the food of this insect. And in that realization he was the instrument that killed that which he was part of.

We talked about the killing of the dove and the mosquito. It didn't matter whether the dove was not deserving of death or the mosquito deserving of death for biting humans. Both were
 entwined in this vast network of life, each dependent on the other. He told me that when humans begin to function with the realization that all of life is sacred and inter-connected, we will become like prophets. He said the secret of the prophets is that they know love is the foundation of life and that all things are one connection through the magnetism of love. 

The story of The Mosquito and the Dove are apt metaphors for the love we can hope to have for each other. It's easiest with family. It's kind of easy with friends. It's not as easy with the birds and insects that also inhabit our spheres of influence. That is, until you have the experience of killing one. Then you'll experience their loving essence pouring out and enveloping you. At that moment you'll know at the core of your being the loving interconnected relationship we have with all things.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - April, 2017  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Less is More

Less is More - New Habits
I learned the phrase, "less is more" while in art school in the 60's. It described simple and
minimalist forms of expression in art and architecture. It felt like Zen art, though no one called it that. Long after studying the artists and architects who adhered to that style the phrase stayed with me like a mantra. When reading wordy literature or wandering around the Baroque cathedrals of Europe "less is more" would float to mind as the ornate sculptures and paintings dazzled or begged the question, why so fussy? The same phrase often surfaced when I found myself in the tediousness of never-ending corporate meetings that numbed the senses.

Too much clutter in life can summon a "less is more" approach, so it was easy to assess the subtle influences in the outer world. I noticed that businesses changed their models of how they provide service to the customer. Strangely, they put the customers to work for the business, defining less is more in a whole new way. It was not done for aesthetics but clearly for profit. If
you needed gas for the car, you pumped it yourself. If you went to retail stores to buy anything you scanned, paid and bagged your own items. When that model claimed the restaurant industry I began to wonder. For the first time I thought that ordering food through an Ipad instead of through a waiter might reverse the phrase and prove that less was not really more.

All was not as it seemed for something else was changing the business model. Factories that once employed thousands were now doing the same work with dozens of robots and a couple of guys. The consumer-oriented society that had been propelling industry began to shift. Somewhere along the way, consumers realized they didn't really need or want all those things they were buying. Instead, they began to divest themselves of their big houses, and all the stuff that went into them. Aging demographics pushed people into downsized condos even as tiny houses or small mobile homes became the rage. At the same time, recycling programs were established in every state, allowing plastics, papers, and other products to be deconstructed and used for or made into something else.

The less is more phenomenon wasn't restricted to business. And yes, there are countless examples of it in digitized music, entertainment on the go, and the changes from computers to smartphones.  Other systems like science, medicine and religion were affected. Quantum Physics, in a tribute to "less," stripped away everything and reduced the observed world to particles or waves. Homeopathy was another that clearly showed less is more. This alternative health practice treats diseases by rigorously diluting the medicine. In another case, pain management used to be controlled with toxic medicines. Now, the pain is mitigated with acupuncture needles, using less destructive treatment options. And finally religion lost its allure when polls showed more people identifying themselves as spiritual instead of belonging to a religion. Spirituality stripped off the pomp and rhetoric and instead focused on the essence of the teachings. It recognized the common truth in all religions that God, (or an Eternal Spirit,) was inherent in them and they abiding in IT.

It became obvious that spiritual studies were not immune to the new habits of less is more. The inner work also needed simplification and uncluttering. Daily meditations were restructured. The elaborate rituals were discarded and replaced with focused breath-work practices and simple intentions. Generic "prayers for peace" were peeled back revealing that the real prayer was for
personal peace within. Within that realization the real work had begun in earnest.

Less is more can be applied to every facet of our lives. It begs strict observation and a surgical assessment of the value of everything.  It refocuses us from consumers to conservers, and destroyers to caretakers. It's not easy nor does it call to everyone to do. But, when everything is stripped down to its "Zen factor," only then can we develop an awareness of our excesses and experience the insights that will propel us to a new level of consciousness. That's the ultimate value in developing the less is more new habit. It's when we learn that everything we really need is already provided.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - March, 2017  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Unleashing the Lioness

Unleashing the Lioness

In a dream on the new moon I saw her. In the blackness of the night sky, the moon suspended like a pale sliver, she ambled slowly across the heavens. The stars dimmed to make way for her immense shadow. I watched in awe as she took each deliberate step. Then she turned her golden head towards me. A moment passed between us. But in that moment, I knew she'd been awakened and her power was palpable. The Lioness had been unleashed! 

Out of the dream state I could still feel the presence of the Lioness. But what was the dream about? I began a day of research to investigate the outer interpretations of the dream symbolism. The image of the new moon holding the old moon in its arms was prophetic. The darkness upon the earth was actually illumined by a phenomenon called "Earthshine" where the earth's light is reflected back onto the dark side of the moon. The new moon was opening an energetic doorway for new ideas to emerge in consciousness. 

The Numerology of the dream was also an indication of its significance.  It occurred on January 23, 2017.  January is a "1" month.  It signifies a strong assertive leader, a pioneer. The fact that the number 1 occurred twice, in the month and the year was doubly significant. The date was a "5" number - the number associated with the Goddess through the pentagram, and relates to freedom for all people.  When all the numbers are added together they equal 7 or Spiritual Wisdom.  These were huge messages.

I thought about the Inauguration Meditation where we opened the door for the values of the Divine Feminine to flood the earth. Women and men spoke eloquently of unity, of wisdom, of justice, of fairness, of right action, and of hope, love, peace and laughter. The altar was set with a tall white statue of Lady Liberty holding her torch aloft, reminding us in Emma Lazarus' words, that she is "A mighty woman with a torch whose flame is the imprisoned lightning ... and from her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome.

With these symbols in mind, I needed to better understand the world of the Lioness. She is the feminine aspect of solar power. She is the mother who provides for and protects the pride. She is fierce, righteous, benevolent and courageous. She is Sekmet the great hunter goddess of Egypt whose very breath created the deserts. She is the Goddess of war and retribution, one who could ignite epidemics as well as cure them. Her myths say "she would slay the
 disagreeable men on earth." This was potent imagery! But it was not the whole story.

Behind every external presentation is the esoteric or inner meaning. The Lioness also had one. Stalking across the cosmos she kindled a movement of women across the globe. It began small enough then swelled to the millions in what has been called "the largest movement in history." Women emerged from their comfort zones to make themselves visible. They marched with their mothers, daughters and grand-daughters. Women in their 90's marched alongside toddlers on their father's shoulders. They came from all across the country traveling by buses, trains, planes and cars. Those who could not go to Washington, went to marches in their home-towns. Husbands joined in as one said, to "stop talking and listen to what the women had to say."  The march was peaceful and filled with hope, calling out the same values we did locally on Inauguration night.

The Lioness unleashed a new pattern of behavior. Her power is now awakened in every woman whether they acknowledge it or not. It is a subtle power though it burns intensely when needed. The Lioness is the symbol of the Divine Feminine rising up and summoning others of like mind to right action. For when each woman rises, all women rise. When each woman lights a torch all women see and embrace the flame. Hope is ignited with Wisdom.  When equality and justice is called out, all women benefit. That is the immense power of the Unleashed Lioness in all of us.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - February 2017  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Children of Light

The Children of Light
At an equinox ceremony many years ago I watched a little girl sitting on the edge of the stage
playing a drum bigger than her. She poured herself into the rhythms set by the adults behind her. Suddenly, everything around her dissolved. She was the only one on the stage. Transfixed in wonder I heard a voice say these words: She is your great-great-grandmother.

In the years gone by I've met other children just like her. They're regular kids, but there's a serene quality about them. Most children are afraid to stand up in front of an audience of adults, but not these kids. They exude a confidence about the world. I've tried to include these children in our sacred ceremonies and events. They step up without a moment's hesitation. This is the story of two of them and how their journeys began.

Raffaele is a normal ten year old who plays tennis and soccer, and teases his sister. The normalcy stops there. He doesn't like video games, abhors violence and stays away from kids who swear or are disrespectful. His typical day begins with meditation at the family altar. Then he studies Latin, Greek, English Literature, Rhetoric and math. He's a gifted musician and on his way to becoming a classical Flamenco dancer. His instructors call him an angel.
Raffaele & Sister Chong

Raffaele was ten when he first stepped into our circle on the Winter Solstice of 2014. Though a bit shy he fearlessly told a story. He wrote his own personal prayer for peace in the world, spending hours before the ceremony to make it right. As he read it to the large audience the only sound was his clear voice against the waves and the wind. His sincerity and devotion were evident in his wishes for war and hatred to be dissolved. He truly wanted people to live in harmony with each other. From his voice, that future was possible.

Two years later Raffaele and his family moved to Spain. His mother told me he continued to be dedicated to his peace work. While in Valencia, Raffaele met Sister Chan Khong, the first disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh and currently in charge of the Plum Village community. Raffael asked her how he could live his life for peace. Realizing the influence this young boy would have on the world, she told him, "Raffaele, call upon the Buddha. Disassociate with anger. Go back to your in-breath and on the out-breath be calm. The bucket of water that is your mind was agitated. Now it will be calm." Then she named him "The Master of Peace." 

The second boy's name is Lincoln. At age 7 he too is not a normal kid in the usual sense. He is already a healer of some worth. When his mother learned techniques in Sound Toning and Healing, Lincoln wanted to be taught. Every day, he practiced toning with his mom, wearing her prayer shawl and sitting at her altar. He was a natural.
Lincoln at Work

Most kids ask their parents for toys. Not Lincoln. He was given $20 to spend at a festival the family attended. The money was for rides, candy, or whatever he wanted to buy. Lincoln asked his mom to return to the Crystal Booth where he'd seen a bamboo wand with amber and quartz.
He held it in awe, tracing the chakras. The owner of the booth remarked how "unique" this young boy was. But there was a problem. The wand was $45. Promising his father he'd forgo any treats for a month, he got the wand. He placed it on the altar where he uses it daily.

When Lincoln learned that two dogs belonging to friends were desperately ill he wanted to make them well. One of the dogs was not expected to live out the night. Using the Sound Healing techniques he was taught, Lincoln began to systematically tone for each of the dogs, using the wand over their imaginary bodies. Over the course of several weeks, both dogs fully recovered and are back to their old lives. The vet of the dog who was not expected to live calls her "the miracle dog."

These are but two stories of the Children of Light. Today, I can still see the image of the little girl and easily hear the message on that equinox full moon. She was a drummer in the vanguard of The Children of Light. These children are everywhere. They are beyond special. They've chosen wise parents who encourage them by including them in spiritual ceremonies. These children to whom we've had the privilege of teaching spiritual practices will take humanity forward in consciousness. They are the ones we summoned in our prayers so very long ago. They are indeed the light-bearers for the future generations coming to earth. When we return to earth, we'll remember. For they were our great-great-grandmothers and grandfathers.

                                                                                           Jo Mooy - January 2017