Thinking or Not

This morning, I read this in volume V of Paul Brunton\’s Notebooks: If the activity of thinking is directed towards external objects and inspired by the desire to attain or retain them, it binds a man to his spiritual ignorance. If however it is directed towards God or his divine soul and is inspired by the desire to attain it, then it leads him to spiritual intuitions.

I offer it in conjunction with my insistence on seeing the world through spiritual glasses and not ego glasses. I live in the world. I renounce the ego\’s way of thinking about it.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in resentment, anger, fear and jealousy of the corporate managers around me as they appear to compete for money and position, and appear to do everything to keep everyone else down. But this thinking hurts me. I can\’t stand it. I need another way.

So, true or not, right or silly, I insist on spiritual help. I insist on the intangible world as my true reality. I continue to learn to listen to the silence and accept inner peace.

I have had some wonderful early morning running this week. It is totally satisfying for me to spend 1.5 to 2 hours jogging easily around my neighborhood.

I Insist….

….on seeing life through a spiritual lens. Yes, I know some would laugh at my rose colored glasses. But I find that my greater sanity lies in spiritual belief. I can\’t stand the negativity of the other path.

I seek spiritual prosperity. Spiritual prosperity is not a physical manifestation. It is just something I know I want and have.

Various events have happened at various times in my life over the past several months. I have been seeking promotion within my current company by applying for openings at higher levels. Various bits of related information have come my way. Others in my field have departed. I should have the papers to sign for a promotion tomorrow.

Now, on the cusp, I find my ego as negative as ever. I find my belligerence whispering about how it will prove to that boss that I am so worthy and hurt him by walking out of his plant. I find the ego whispering of unfairness. As a contemplative solitary, I clearly see the angry thoughts swirling through my brain. I admit their presence.

But I also pray to whatever higher consciousness I have: I want to see this another way. I want another answer. I turn to the stately calm within and realize that I have been offered a gift of another order. True, I live in this world, but my true reality is not the material. One step up and my reality is thoughts and feelings; but those are still the ego world. Another step up and my reality is no-thought, silence.

In the silence, I know ineffable things. Peace itself is one of these intangibles. So is love. So is companionship with that great consciousness. Why do I need to change jobs to approach this question? I don\’t know. These events lead me to this realization. These events provoked my ego to start yammering in a specific way that I could see what a load of crap is the worldly rational.

And so I insist on turning to the silence and finding spiritual prosperity instead of worldly prosperity. I cannot live with the negative rational of our world. I can only live with inner peace and for that, I sacrifice my worldly rights. I renounce the struggle for fairness and the ensuing resentment, an indulgence practiced by the worldly. I simply must have silence instead.

Spiritual Basis of Life

I am faced with a decision. My first choice is for spirituality, humility, love.

\”Love is the predominate mode of existence.\”

My version of the answer involves more money in the form of salary. I\’ve been trained to judge by this. I become unhappy when this particular thing doesn\’t exactly meet my idea of how much is enough for me. And I become blind to all other things.

My reality assumes that there is a Spirit or Soul who will direct me to the right path for me. Spirit honors my first wish for spiritual prosperity. Guidance is towards greater insight into Spirit, not materialism. But my ego keeps forgetting this deep desire and continues to hammer me about dollars. This forgetting is why I have to stop and pray and meditate. I am happier after I remember.

ACIM Chapter 30, Rules for Decision:

  • Think about the kind of day you want.
  • Today I will make no decisions by myself. (Sit by and ask to have the answer given me. I need do nothing.)
  • If I make no decisions by myself, this is the day that will be given me.
  • I have no question. I forgot what to decide.
  • At least I can decide I do not like what I feel now.
  • And so I hope I have been wrong.
  • I want another way to look at this. (A statement of an open mind.)
  • Perhaps there is another way to look at this. What can I lose by asking?

Will

There is a thing I wish to speak of: will.

Today, during my long run, I was experiencing will and not-enough-will. I am signed up to run a 50 mile race in 2 weeks. Logically, my Silverton race was great training for a 50 miles race. But I cringe because there is a big difference in running 50 miles over 2 days and running it all at once. It is not a matter of finishing, but of how much pain will I be in?

It takes will to go out there 2 days in a row and complete 20+ mile training runs. Today, I realized that somewhere after 5 hours, I usually decide I\’ve had enough for that day. But to be a better ultra runner, I need to train longer than that. In a race, the other people push you to keep going. The threat of a DNF next to your name keeps you going.

And this lead me to yet another thought: how much of my thoughts are associated with other people. This is why I don\’t watch TV or participate in society in many other ways. I don\’t want other people\’s thoughts in my head. I want my own thoughts. Since I believe the Voice for God is very quiet and wordless, I have yet another reason for being quiet. I really want to hear the Voice for God more than anything else. Even running, when I find my mind wrapped up in worldly thoughts, I can change to a silent channel. Or at least to a channel that plays one of my own thoughts.

Most often, I turn to my spiritual creed and repeat some part of it over and over. Today, \”Love based thinking is my one desire. Inner peace is what I really want.\”

Back to will: I got 5h26 min done today. This weekend was a high mark since Silverton (over 44 miles between Saturday and Sunday). I can imagine myself going further, but in actuality, I don\’t; except in races.

I have a big question mark: I interviewed last week for an inter-company transfer. The hiring manager and his boss both liked me and indicated they would move forward. But our company is weird and things don\’t always work out the way a manager wants. So, I keep holding the question mark at bay with my spiritual litany: Inner peace is what I really want.

I realize that there might not be a God. I realize that there may not be any higher power working on my behalf. But I do much better emotionally if I employ faith in a higher power.

Serendipity

Various pieces are being moved around in my world. I could not do the moving. In one case, I was praying for a person: I pray for ____. I pray for his health, his prosperity and his happiness. I pray that everything I want for myself be given to him.

This prayer comes from the Big Book of AA (3rd addition page 552). This person lost at least 20 pounds and has obtained a new job. His house sold before moving day. This person is one of the most difficult guys to work with. As he left my office yesterday, he mentioned what a great friend I had been. So, I did well by my attempts to keep my ego out of this relationship. Spirituality worked.

He was a co-worker at the same level 5 as I am. Now, he is gone to the new job. Another guy in our company, who was also at level 5, has taken a promotion to operations manager; and is no longer doing the same work as me. But unknown to me (I know now after he told me), he had applied to some of the same transfers I have applied for. Now, his name is out of the running. This leaves 2 people in north America who are level 5. Both of us are in Kansas City. The other is not applying for any transfers.

There are at least 3 openings in north America at a higher salary level than I am now. This does not mean I am going to get anything I want. I have no rights and I work for a company which cannot be strong armed (already explained to me). I\’m not even sure what I want. But the timing of these other guy\’s moves in relation to the transfers as they have come up is fascinating to watch. The story is not over. The managers of my specialty are meeting next week to decide resources. My manager knows I am interested in promotion. I don\’t know what he thinks is best. He knows more than me.

I look at these events which are well beyond my control. I have decided to live life on a spiritual basis. I continually surrender to what ever higher consciousness there might be. I can\’t at all prove anything about the existence of spirit. I know I want to think at a higher level each day. I know I want to hear intuitive thoughts which come from the silence I surround myself with. Spirituality might be only my attempt to live at a higher level. I don\’t have to claim that God has anything to do with it.

This morning, I had a wonderful 16 mile run along the Little Blue Trace in a light rain. I ran the route 10 minutes faster than last week. This evening, as I listen to A Prairie Home Companion, I\’ll lift weights and do core exercises. I don\’t know what I\’ll do tomorrow because storms are still in the forecast.

Monday morning, I\’ll go to Houston for a job interview. Then Tuesday, make a presentation for a group of experts in our specialty in our company. haha! The meeting is in the same plant I just interviewed at. I\’ve spent several hours this week exploring running paths in Houston (not too promising).

My Ego Reactions

The act of eating and drinking in richness (aka gluttony) is dissipative of human physical and spiritual dignity. Human dignity is sacred ground and should not thus be desecrated.

I have always been at the bottom of the pecking order. Yesterday at work, as one of the guys was pecking away, I felt this incredible hatred. I am completely tired of competition.

At the same time, or on the other hand, I have an ego that completely can\’t accept quietly doing a great job and ignoring anything else. Spiritually speaking, it is good for me to have continuous ego deflation. I should just laugh at my ego feelings. I really do harbor resentments from years ago. I noticed that as I was out running this morning and was thinking about something from 30+ years ago.

Do you see why I need to live in the now? As I notice my ego drifting into resentment, I ask for spiritual help. It works.

Here is what my next long race would look like if I was doing it during the day:

Still

It is the weekend after Silverton weekend, my 86 mile weekend. Today, I did my usual Saturday routine. I went running. Today, I went to the Little Blue Trace (a flat dirt bike path) and ran for about 3.5 hours. I didn\’t fuel enough and didn\’t feel very energetic.

In the afternoon, after eating and napping, I was once again searching my inner self for answers. I see that running goes on. Running didn\’t stop just because my A race of the year is over. For no good reason, I am continuing to run. The thought came again: I have chosen the path of nothing and nobody. It means that I continually look inward and face a void.

I sit quietly and watch the void. I listen to its silence. Maybe I recite to my self my spiritual creed. And then I do sit-ups, or go running. I don\’t claim any sort of glory. All of my accomplishments are nothing.

I want Grace to be my most important value.

To be pure blandness in the world is a horrible fate for my ego. Mine simply won\’t stand for it; hence my emotional ups and downs. I insist on a spiritual philosophy to be the answer to my jealousy and greed. In my social programming, it is so wrong to accept inequality (mine is related to pay and position at work). To work at acceptance for the sake of inner peace is right for me. It is not right for everyone. I make a good living. It is the inequality which grates on my ego. But since my goal is inner peace, acceptance is necessary. I am powerless over a CEO of an international company who is sitting on all promotions regardless of level.

Jesus said, \”…turn the other cheek…\” I find this advice useful at many times. In and of myself I am fine. Whenever I compare myself to others, my ego agitates. The ego must be denied somehow.

Now for the simplest of all things: an urban hike with water.

Group Think – Boston

Wednesday, September 14, 10 am eastern time. That\’s when I\’m supposed to register for the Boston Marathon according to my age, gender and qualifying time.

I used the word \”supposed\” up there because it is \”the group\” that thinks I should participate in the Boston Marathon. I am the only one I know who doesn\’t want to go to Boston. In fact, I\’ve qualified for Boston twice. Neither time was I trying for a BQ. I was just running a marathon as fast as I could.

It baffles me that the idea of my time being a BQ earns more merit that the idea that my time was damn fast!

I didn\’t hesitate for one second to enter Silverton. I didn\’t hesitate for one second to enter Across The Years. I didn\’t hesitate for one second to enter Heartland Spirit of the Prairie. Yet, while many people have tried to convince me to enter Boston, I can\’t bring myself to click submit. Running a marathon with 28,000 others, along with sidewalks lined with crowds, actually sounds horrible to me.

It is the group that thinks Boston is good. But I have purposefully worked against the group ever since leaving the monastery. Not because of hatred or even arrogance, but because much of what the group does is noisy and forgetful of spirit.

Yes, I have once again mentioned spirit. Maybe there is spirit in each human running or lining the streets of Boston; but not many of them will be remembering the fundamental idea of God deep down within. Like it or not, most of us have to find a quiet and undistracted space to remember and connect with our inner divine person.

The group thinks I should vote. The group thinks football is important. The group is patriotic and favors war. The group thinks religion and the Bible actually mean something. I\’ve even considered giving up God and spirit because these words provoke group think. I quit participating in society so I could think differently than the group. I haven\’t watched TV or gone to movies or listened to music so that my brain is free of group thinking.

On September 14, I\’ll be at work as usual. I have many meetings already scheduled that day. I\’ll take my early morning run in the pre-dawn silence. I\’ll come home in the evening to the solitude of my apartment. Registering for Boston is not on the schedule. If I\’m going to blow a couple of thousand dollars on a running race, I\’d rather blow it in a number of other locations than Boston.

Monday April 18, 2012, I hope I am at work. Saturday April 16, I hope I am running a 50k in southern Missouri.

Silverton Aftermath

I completed my 86 miles of Silverton in the evening of Sunday, 9/4. On Monday, Labor Day 9/5, I drove to Durango. I had a 5:50 am flight on Tuesday, hence decided to spend Monday night in Durango.

I got to Durango at about 11 am, too early to check into a motel. So I had a soy latte and then wandered through a running store. I came out dressed in a new running outfit and headed for a bike path along the Animas River.

I\’d say I look pretty snazzy!

Anyway, I did a little slow jogging and walking for about an hour. I could feel tiredness but no injuries from the 86 mile Silverton jaunt. On Tuesday, United Airlines did a great job of delivering my body to Kansas City on time. So in the afternoon, I completed my usual core workout and added another 45 minutes of cross training.

Today, Wednesday, I had one more day of vacation. So (finally) a fantastic 11 hours of sleep; and then a 7 mile jaunt on trails including a couple of miles on a new gravel road I found. And, poor me, I clicked submit to enter a 50 mile race on 10/8 ( Heartland Spirit of the Prairie).

So here is my point: I didn\’t injure anything at Silverton. I only created tiredness for a few days; but nothing that needs weeks of recovery. I did come away from Silverton transcended. That is, I realize I am at a greater fitness level than I thought. I see I have trained up to a new standard. There was an absence of foot isses I\’ve had in the past. I\’m in fantastic shape, not just compared to other 50 year olds, but compared to everybody. And I\’m smart enough to not go over the injury line.

Two years ago, I entered the Heartland 50 mile. Right then, I got a new job, so I DNS\’d. But I was probably only half as trained as I am now. Now, Silverton proved to me what\’s in me. All I need do is not be stupid and over train going into Heartland.

I am excited about Heartland. Stay tuned.

Here is a blurb for the race information:

“There are several ways not to walk in the prairie, and one of them is with your eye on a far goal, because you then begin to believe you’re not closing the distance any more than you would with a mirage.  My woodland sense of scale and time didn’t fit this country, and I started wondering whether I could reach the summit before dark.  On the prairie, distance and the miles of air turn movement to stasis and openness to a wall, a thing as difficult to penetrate as dense forest.  I was hiking in a chamber of absences where the near was the same as the far, and it seemed every time I raised a step the earth rotated under me so that my foot fell just where it had lifted from.  Limits and markers make travel possible for people: circumscribe our lines of sight and we can really get somewhere.  Before me lay the Kansas of popular conception from Coronado on – that place you have to get through, that purgatory of mileage.

Hiking in the woods allows a traveler to imagine comforting enclosures, one leading to the next, and the walker can possess those little encompassed spaces, but the prairie and plains permit no such possession.  Whatever else prairie is – grass, sky, wind – it is most of all a paradigm of infinity, a clearing full of many things except boundaries, and its power comes from its apparent limitlessness; there is no such thing as a small prairie any more than there is a little ocean, and the consequence of both is this challenge: try to take yourself seriously out here, you bipedal plodder, you complacent cartoon.”

Silverton 1000 – Race Report

It’s down there. Deep down there. Somehow, I will find it. That is all my life is for.

Mine is the story of a girl who could and a girl who couldn’t. A girl who is stubborn against the crowd, the club. A girl who is insistent on the other world, the world of the spirit.

Here is a picture of me on the Silverton course. Yes, that guy is dressed in a Jester outfit and ran more than 200 miles like that. I am stalked (literally) by the Jester.

From Wikipedia: “The root of the word \”fool\” is from the Latin follis, which means \”bag of wind\” or that which contains air or breath…In literature, the jester is symbolic of common sense and of honesty, notably in King Lear, the court jester is a character used for insight and advice on the part of the monarch, taking advantage of his license to mock and speak freely to dispense frank observations and highlight the folly of his monarch…The fool\’s status was one of privilege within a royal or noble household. His folly could be regarded as the raving of a madman but was often deemed to be divinely inspired….”

The runner, the ultra-runner, but especially the multi-day-runner, is a seeker. I am the girl who sought spirit in long distance running. I believe this to be true since I first began running at the age of 13. I was inspired by the idea of freedom and spacious distance. To go to a race course which is one mile, up 235 feet each time, at 9,300 plus elevation, and run 86 laps around it seems folly. Is that what the Jester is secretly symbolizing?

Multi-day races are for the patiently enduring. The average age of the athlete rises into the 50\’s. Its point is the forward movement over time and the eventual mental and physical struggle; a microcosm of life and death and re-birth. I went to Silverton Colorado for a 72 hour running race. I went very unsure that I could run 100 miles in 3 days, but it took all of each day yesterday to prove it to my ego.

No belt buckle for me, but a great showing for a flatlander. I ran 31 miles the first day and threw in the towel as day light waned. I went 24 miles the second day before my endocrine system shut down due to my fueling mistakes. I felt great the third day and went another 31 miles; stopping with a total of 86 miles, at 6 pm in the evening.

3 days. Total hours = 10.6 + 9 + 12.2 = 31.8 hours. Total miles = 31 + 24 + 31 = 86. Total feet climbed = 86 x 235 = 20,210 ft (omg, thats alot). And this brings me to the most major dilemma of the event: why not finish 100 miles and get the belt buckle? Real ultra runners would do that. I’ve already been treated like a loser because I didn’t do that. It is not like I couldn’t have done it. I certainly could have slowly walked another 7 hours until about 3 am, and finished 100 miles.

So I am both a winner (finished 86 miles) and a loser (didn’t finish 100 miles). This is what the Jester jokes to me about.

This is my first multi-day event. There are some awesome people here. Silverton is a beautiful place. I am still impressed at how mature most of the runners are. My age of 52 is about average with very few below age 45, some up into their 70s. We do have a couple of 10 year old boys running too. Two people from Hawaii age 61 and 63 are prolific ultra runners (I was able to look them up at Ultra signup). They made 114 miles total.

You know, each of us here is going through some sort of personal struggle and transformation. It is not really about finishing 100 miles to get a buckle. It is about your daily struggle to keep going to your own personal limits.

I sit quietly and ask my soul for an answer? Why did I come here? Why do I run? I guess the answer is in the fact that I go running again. I am an athlete. There seems to be no other answer than the two edged sword provided by the Jester: I am good enough/ I am not good enough.

The ego’s dilemma and always what the Jester points to: we are all fools, unknowingly naked in our strivings. We are unstoppable in our human endeavors, yet death stalks us all.

I would not trade the life of a distance runner for anything in the world. This life came with me into the convent and was efficacious in getting me kicked out of the convent. Running comes with me into contemplation and self transcendence. Running gets me out of bed each day.

The winner: