Self Isolation Perspective

I have been in isolation since I left my job 14 days ago (not including today). Yesterday, my employer extended the pay period to May 3. So I still have 31 precious days. My isolation is in a rhythm. I speak occasionally to store clerks and I nod hello to people on the trail. An occasional text. Conversations are very few, maybe 3 in the past 14 days. Despite these pandemic times, I enter the silence of isolation with a quiet mind and the ability to maintain inner peace. This quiet mind stands out as a difference from other times when I have been unemployed. The occasional intrusion of bad news or frightening headlines gets fed into the stream of well being, which flows quietly through me, and I watch it float away.

I\’ve wanted to be a hermit for a long time, since I learned about solitaries in the monastery. Right now is the first time in 61 years that I have achieved such emptiness as I have now. I don\’t need to worry about getting a job. I\’m not going to class. There are no AA meetings. An empty life. I am coming to see how I am in my natural state, outside of societal programming or interaction.

I like sleeping, morning coffee, the view from my kitchen table, the apple blossoms popping out, the forests in which I walk or jog , lifting weights, eating well and little, spiritual reading with meditation and writing.

I learned a new word today: elision. Elision is a deletion, like elision of my social life. Does this leave me with only my soul for company? Yes, I think. My ego doesn\’t really have any plans or things to compete for or people to push against. And I feel at peace with that, surprisingly enough. My ego has little to say.

I\’ve wondered if I should impose some more aggressive schedule on myself. So far, I\’ve let the natural rhythms exist.My ego wants a schedule to show that I\’m not wasting my life by merely existing. Using my isolation to merely exist, to commune only with my soul, cannot be shown to be productive.

I\’ve always wanted to know the value of \”just being,\” mere existence. What does it mean to be human if you are not engaged but isolated? Does my life only mean something if I achieved worldly notoriety?

I am uplifted and inspired by this intense focus this morning on communion with my soul. I sometimes call my soul the Christ within, even though the word Christ comes with a lot of religious baggage. The word Christ within came to me from contemplatives of times past. I allow the Christ within to be free of religion and just represent the inner truth of my human soul. I feel thrilled by this open door to my inner being.


The Bread of Life

The thing I want out of life, this life and all the others, is God. Like a salmon returning to spawn time after time, I came back here for another journey. 

Here is a new thought: maybe I hated my mother\’s womb because I knew that this life\’s journey was starting at spiritual rock bottom. I wasn\’t born into spiritual privilege; like having enlightened or philosophical parents. I wasn\’t born already half way up the mountain. I was born into alcoholism, co-dependence; the deepest pain and despair imaginable existed my family.

I looked at the DNA of pain and anger and hate. I felt the net of this pain full DNA settle in. I fought off the poisons of thalidomide and alcohol. Then I looked up. I saw that somehow I could climb out of this pit. Somehow I could find sunlight. I realized the energy it would take. Begrudgingly I said, \”Okay God. I\’ll do it.\”
When I left the convent, I was determined to be spouse to the Lord anyway. When I left The Church, I was determined to have communion anyway. Jesus said, \”I am the bread of life.\” He is teaching us something new. It is not to have communion but to be communion. DNA and bread of life are the same thing. Allow Life to eat you. Be consumed by Life. 
Feed every scrap of pain into the fire of your heart burning within. Let the fire of your heart burn you up. This is life. This is communion. This is to be The Way, The Truth and The Life. This is to follow Jesus and be his disciple. This is the imitation of Christ.

Laps for nothing

Today I ran in Meador Park.

50 laps of this place:

What happened to the double marathon?

Well, I did drive to Dallas on Saturday and stayed in a hotel. I go up at 3:15 to get ready for a 5am race start. At 3:30, I received an e-mail from the RD cancelling the race due to thunderstorms. Any reasonable person would have gone back to bed, figured out how to have a nice day in Dallas and started the second marathon the next day.

Not me. Unfortunately, I was wired, completely wide awake even though I had hardly slept. I couldn\’t face the idea of spending 24 hours in that hotel room. I didn\’t think I wanted to go run around the lake for 20 miles just as a training run (remember it was a severe storm alert). In fact the only idea  that resonated with me was: If you leave for Houston now, you can have I45 all to yourself. Have a nice run when you get home. Save the hotel money.

Before I know it, I\’m on the road at a high rate of speed.

So, no marathons at all this weekend.

Today, as I mentioned, I did an 18+ mile jog walk. It was 80F to start at 8:30 am and 88F when I finished 4.5 hours later. I was completely sweaty the whole time. I drank 60 oz of sports drink and 2 Mountain Dews. I stopped mainly because I was out of drink.

This gave me plenty of time to review my behavior patterns regarding races. I reviewed the various times I\’ve quit races and the various times I\’ve not bothered to even start. I reviewed my Boston Qualifying races and my lack of desire to go to Boston. I reviewed the reason I run alot. I reviewed the marathons I\’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

It is clear that I no longer adhere to the numbers game. I see it as an illusion. Specifically, I had planned to complete my 50th marathon this year; furthermore planning it for a race in September where I would be with friends and they could pat me on the back for my accomplishment. That won\’t happen now.

But was it not an ego goal to begin with? Contrast that with my regular running of laps. I got involved with lap running as a method for self transcendence and prayer. Meditation as it were. If my overall spiritual quest needs detachment from this world, then running laps for no reason is best. So then I quickly drop my worldly ego running goals. Worldly ego goals is: running 50 marathons so I can tell everyone. Self transcendence running: 50 laps in a park on a hot day.

I read books by Henri Nouwen about downward mobility. I read a book by Anthony DeMello about breaking through the illusion. I read books by Paul Brunton about the spiritual quest and glimpses of the Overself. I really want the relationship with the Christ Within more than 50 marathons. So I let go. I drop the world like a rock. I do laps in the hot sun.

The Balance Sheet

Freedom from bondage. Bondage of ego that is.

Downward mobility. As detailed by Henri Nouwen in The Selfless Way of Christ. How does a high paid engineer follow Christ really? I am and can continue to let go of power, prestige and infamy. I do my job and try to help others.

I did something nice for some colleagues this week. They did not reciprocate. My ego noticed this and started in on a mental tear. I realize I am hopeless in the area of doing something without selfishness. Every time I do something good, my ego whips out the balance sheet to see if I profited.

Self centered in the extreme. Driven by a hundred forms of fear. Each day is a new beginning and I seem to arrive at each morning sober. I have a daily reprieve.

Last evening, I listened to a sober lady tell her story. She has 41 years of sobriety. In a few short months. I\’ll have 30 years. Sobriety in AA, conscious contact with a power greater than myself, is the best thing. A sober life is an amazing thing.

I am at an odd place in life. Or at least different for me. My outer world is stable. It is a chore to go to work each day, but overall, I have a very nice job and I like it. Everything is paid for. On days when I maintain my humility, I can be happy.

So this gives me time and space to continue to probe spirituality; to wonder about self transcendence.


It is now hot on the Gulf Coast. Today I did my laps under the trees. I thought about how I started ultra running and doing laps because of the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race. I thought about my short monastic life. I thought about the vehemence of my first ten post-monastery years. I was not able to pray today. No mantra was transfixed in my mind. But eventually, yes I did pray. I thought a question mark into the universe.

No answer came. But the trail was mostly in a forest. It clouded up a bit towards 2 pm. I felt good. Jog walk jog walk jog walk….. think….. muse about the past. Trying to put the pieces together.

A monastic contemplative goes into the silence. Can I reach silence and still go to work 5 days  week? I have to.

Laps are utterly meaningless; except for the silence.

An Inconvenient Truth

I was laying in bed last night, not getting to sleep, mulling over my spiritual situation. This thought came over my brain waves: you bear the yoke of Christ.

Now that was a shocker. Despite what I think of churches and denominations, I bear the yoke of Christ. It cannot be removed. I read all sorts of opinions about God and Christianity. But I bear the yoke no matter what I think of them. Inesacapble truth.

And so I got up this morning as usual and did my spiritual study. I slammed into Lesson 186 of A Course in Miracles. (found here in entirety, lesson 186). But the pertinent points for me were:
–   acceptance of a part assigned to you, without insisting on another role
–   Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea.
–   All false humility we lay aside today, that we may listen to God\’s Voice reveal to us what He would have us do
–   the Voice for God assures you that you have the strength, the wisdom and the holiness to go beyond all images
–   Arrogance makes an image of yourself that is not real…sensing its basis crumble. Let it go. Salvation of the world depends on you, and not upon this little pile of dust…like wind-swept leaves…like mirages seen above a desert…These unsubstantial images will go, and leave your mind unclouded and serene, when you accept the function given you
–  Do as God\’s Voice directs
–  Salvation of the world depends on you who can forgive

In ACIM, forgiveness is in fact \”looking beyond.\” Looking beyond the dream of this world to Christ within, not of this world. I do in fact understand and practice ACIM forgiveness. This morning, I realized how insubstantial the roles in this world are. How we honor the role of a person instead of honoring the Christ in each.  You don\’t have to believe in God to honor the inner being of any person. That is the beauty of an atheist. Love just is; no need to attach religion or spirituality or God or any code of morals.

So for a little while this morning, my ego laid aside its frustration over being nobody and instead beheld TRUTH. I closed my eyes as I rode my elliptical and beheld Truth, the core of all which I call Christ. Yes, my vocabulary is corrupted by denominational words. But still, it is the essence which matters, the truth which sparked the word. Someone was beholding and they needed to exclaim. I am exclaiming now. TRUTH.

I bear the yoke of Christ. My way is quiet. In silence I listen to the Voice. And then I go to work. No monastic profession. No religious confirmation. No bowing or kneeling or professing allegiance. No specialness of any sort (thank you atheists). I just bear the yoke.

ORW – Prelude

I\’m getting ready to go to Ottawa Canada to run a half marathon. Tomorrow, Saturday, I fly. I\’ll be met at the airport by a running maniac friend and we will zip into town in time to watch the evening races. I\’ll be meeting some new people and cheering them in their 10k. On Sunday, I run a half marathon at easy pace with a new internet friend.

Today, Friday, I took a day off work. I slept for 11 hours! And then, after running errands, and after the Houston weather had got to 85F, I went for a 2 hour jog. Yes, I can run in heat and humidity.

Now I have done some packing and eating and soon will do the evening workout.

I marvel at the status of my life. There are so many places where a path had to be chosen and radically different outcomes ensued. I could\’ve stayed in California instead of moving to Missouri. I could\’ve stayed a drunk rather than get sober. I could\’ve skipped the monastery. I could\’ve skipped Texas. I could\’ve got fat and sick. I could\’ve stayed a Catholic, or become a Buddhist.

Have I learned anything? I have learned peace; even in the midst of a busy city existence. I have to find the secret of the desert monks in the midst of cars, airports and a huge chempark.

I find this existence in my living room as I ride my elliptical. I find it in the tiny park across the street where one lap in 0.28 miles but trees provide shade. At the back of the park is a swamp. Birds with long legs find their lunch. Snakes perch on fallen logs.

In the desert, I find Christ within. I find love in all the other people I meet. I find that deep well of the Hidden Christ in the silence within.

The Gifts of God

The \”Gifts of God\” comes up in the ACIM and it is mentioned in the lesson I\’m doing today: \”I am entrusted with the gifts of God.\”

My first thought is, \”What gifts of God?\” So I read the lesson again. I doesn\’t really say; just hints. So I resort to asking the Holy Spirit. I get a clear thought, \”You don\’t need to know in words.\” This response seems like a miracle to me because if my ego understood what the gifts were, then I\’d be sure that it was wrong but I\’d think I knew what I had.

So I went on and put together a chant for my evening workout:

I am entrusted with the gifts of God.
Christ\’s hand _ _ has touched my shoulder.
He walks with me and says it isn\’t so.
He reminds me of the gifts I have forgotten.

The whole thing becomes believable to me because I am certain Christ\’s hand has touched my shoulder.

I went for my run this morning with yesterday\’s lesson playing in my head. Something about \”Christ\’s power….I count on God…\” seemed to put fire in me. I ran the same 16 miles I did the day before but 23 minutes faster. I am not in marathon shape; but I could do a 12 hour race because no one cares how far you go, just that you stay on your feet for 12 hours.

This evening, I rode my ex-bike for 25 minutes and the elliptical of 45 minutes. Why do an evening workout after a hard morning run?

Go\’in to the Rock

The Rock is Christ; who I believe is in me and you. And always has been. The Rock is my essence, my inner being, the Love in my heart, the life of my soul. I touch it so vaguely, yet I continue to believe it is truly there.

I\’ve been paying attention to my inner being. I need this strength.

I made it to chapter 2 of Aristotle\’s \”Metaphysics.\” At the end of chapter 1 he says, \”It is evident then…that all men seem to seek the causes …but they seek vaguely…\” And to start chapter 2, \”The investigation of the truth…since the truth seems to be like the proverbial door, which no one can fail to hit…but the fact that we can have a whole truth and not the particular part we aim at shows the difficulty of it.\” And, \”For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all.\”

Hummm….food for thought!

I\’ve continued my running and working out since the 50 mile endurance run. Today, I ran 19 miles on a trail. It took 3 hours to feel the deeper tiredness. At that point, I could also feel the infinity of the long distance runner.

So I ran another hour and a quarter after that.

Walking with Christ

This morning I was reading the chapter called Walking With Christ in A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text (31.II).

\”…you have come with but one purpose; that you learn you love your brother with a brother\’s love…\”

To agree with something a guy named Robert said, I say (based on the quote) that A Course in Miracles is a course in love. It is a different way of looking at love than is found in the ego\’s world of illusion. This love has no pain, fear, disappointment, compromise, hate, sacrifice, etc. Most of us do not know what this love is, but we do experience it in small un-noticed ways.

One of the main points of ACIM is that what I think I see is an illusion, part of an ego dream which was thought up by the ego and now exists for me as a dream world of fear and pain. My brother is not exactly the body I see, but the Christ beyond the body; and the Christ in him is the Christ in me. We are one in this Christ Self. So, knowing the oneness, I don\’t need to be afraid.

But obviously, I still have fearful and hateful thoughts about these people around me. And everytime I approach this topic of loving my borther, I become filled with hate. This feeling of hate, I define for myself, as an attempt of my ego to keep me from realizing I am one with my brother and that what I see is an illusion. If I look beyond, I will see Christ and fall down at his feet in gratitude, love and salvation. At that point, the world is over and I live in a reality of love.

When I find myself in the quiet early morning, attempting to be spiritual, but really thinking about someone at work and how much I hate them, I ask Christ for help and attempt to have a holy instant. And you know what? No matter how real those hateful feelings are, this is what happens:

\”Be very still an instant. Come without all thought of what you ever learned before, and put aside all images you made. The old will fall away before the new without your opposition or intent. There will be no attack upon the things you thought were precious and in need of care. There will be no assault upon your wish to hear a call that never has been made. Nothing will hurt you in this holy place, to which you come to listen silently and learn the truth of what you really want. No more than this will you be asked to learn. But as you hear it, you will understand you need but come away without the thoughts you did not want, and that were never true.\” (31.II still)

Then, I need to get on with my day; but I find that I forget all about the hate. Later, as I encounter whoever I was hating, I don\’t remember it at all. I find that I treat that other person with respect and try to be helpful. No matter what seems to be going on in my head, I find I behave well.

Thoughts, however, are real and they are shared in our one mind. Am I guilty because I had the thoughts? No, because this world and my body is still a part of the illusion. The hate serves to keep the bad dream going. The hate is not known in heaven or the part of my one mind that exists still in God. The thing is, I want the dream to be over, so I keep going through this process of bringing all my difficult thoughts to the holy instant and coming away without them.

It is difficult, but crucial, to learn that what my ego thinks is not true, ever, period. Learning this lesson and getting beyond my ego is the most loving thing I can do. Doing it is a miracle.

Listening Christ Woman

Normally my weekends are spent listening to the haranguing of my ego and believing its frightening statements about what a piece of crap I am. This weekend, I spent in gratitude for a realization of my Truth.

The spiritual text I study is of dubious background. It comes NOT with any authorization. The denominational religious and the atheists both are aghast. They ask how I could be so dedicated to such unprovable and outlandish proposals.

Yet I am grateful that yesterday, I took an affirmative action in denying both the ego and the world. I decided that I was going to stop listening to the ego, especially as it attempts to defend or attack based on what others say. I decided to stop these thought attacks and listen only to the Voice of peace which I am able to hear whenever I stop for it.

So I reached a point of extreme buoyant happiness in gratitude for The Course. The Course has helped me with the continuously punishing inner beast, my ego. AND it gives me a way to look at the world which extends spirit into every person and situation I encounter. AND it gives me a way to connect with my hearts desire: that ineffable, intangible, higher order consciousness, present throughout the human mind. It goes by various names: Christ, Atman, Tao, Buddha, etc. It is much squabbled over by those who have never realized it. Those who have realized it merely watch and wait, speaking only to genuine listeners.

This weekend, I was challenged in my dedication by 3 different people. I am astounded at my own newly found confidence in my decision. Without anyone\’s approval and in the face of disapproval, I know what\’s best for me and I am doing it. Ultimately, it is my inner being which is deciding what I should study, how I should see things and what I should do. I stand on firm ground, strongly faithful to this inner quiet thinker.

I am the Christ woman. The Christ woman alone, lifting weights in the living room, is the Tao. The Christ woman, eating austere as a way of life, is the Sunnyasa renunciate. The Christ woman, running on the levy and nodding at the other runners, is part of a great Sangha community. The Christ woman at work is distributing aid to the poor. The Christ woman studying her text and reflecting is a deep listener. My life is founded on listening, nothing more.

Ye Ha! Go Girl! I am free!

Listening is my act of love and my way of loving Love. Selah.