Oh, fire, what would we do without you?
On farms, crops do better after a fire has licked at the earth and burned off the top layer of old growth in the fields. In the forest, pinecone seeds only reveal themselves for fruition after fires transform the land to burnt ash and smoke, killing the parent trees and turning the shells of the cones to cinder. Somehow, all that survives is the seed, the potential of rebirth inherent in the plant, which had slept in the cool earth, waiting.
Over forty years ago, Richard Bach introduced us to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a precocious young bird determined to rise above what was expected of him. Those who loved Bach’s seminal parable of transcendence will discover similar delights in his new book, Travels with Puff: A Gentle Game of Life and Death. It chronicles his relationship with a small SeaRey Amphibious Seaplane, including the transcontinental series of flights that brought her home.
For some addicts, hitting bottom and having a spiritual awakening are the first steps along the path of recovery. That's why Alcoholics Anonymous, the oldest and largest of the twelve-step groups, calls itself a spiritual—rather than a religious—program.
Founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a New York stock market analyst, and Dr. Bob Smith, an Akron, Ohio, physician, AA is a fellowship of alcoholics who decided to "turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
When we think about the specifics of what we would like to manifest in our lives, our visions should feel absolutely yummy: I mean an “ooh-that-feels-so-wonderful” kind of feeling. Each idea we project for our future—the perfect mate, the ideal scenario at work, perfect health and wellness—should excite us from our toes to our noses and beyond. Our visions should make us come alive. Those who “sort of” want happiness only “sort of” get it.
I’ve been in a few relationships, but I’m not sure if true love was ever part of the equation. I’m single now, and I’m feeling really isolated and alone. I just hate feeling like no one loves me. I just want to feel loved and I don’t know what to do.
It’s my favorite four-letter word: quit.
I quit law school because I didn’t want to commit my precious life to fighting other people’s wars in musty courtrooms. I quit a relationship after my partner disrespected my boundaries and cheated on me. And I quit living in England because I didn’t care for what then seemed to be a national attitude of cynicism and small-time thinking.
When I first started “coming out” as a spiritual guy, so to speak, I was living in sunny San Diego, California. The West Coast seemed to be the birthplace of so much personal growth, and from this Midwesterner’s point of view, it always seemed they were about a decade ahead of the rest of the country on so many social issues and trends. As a kid, I had longed to live a bigger life, so I stocked my meager wallet, packed my bags, and talked my little brother, Michael, into driving to California with me.
We have no idea what will befall us in the future, but we can commit to paying attention to how we show up to meet whatever happens next.
The rains have returned to my home on the Big Island of Hawaii, and with them, a memory. About a year ago, I had an experience that exposed my darker self. Granted, I was still coming out of a very dark period of grief. But I gained so much from this dramatic moment that I wanted to share it with you, and to remind you of how challenging experiences can make us stronger.
What is a guru, and does this concept have anything to do with your yoga practice?
The idea of a guru is a fairly common concept in India, the birthplace of yoga. In the 1960’s, The Beatles brought this idea of “finding a guru” to the popular culture, as the group set off to India and began meditating with a well-known teacher/guru, all in the hope of finding enlightenment.