Monday, December 28, 2015

The dark side of Love

Love spreads its wings and casts a shadow

To Amos Oz

She lay barren in the night…hopelessly calling unto death.
She lay listless, hoping to seduce death into believing, she was ready.

Then suddenly, she got hungry. 

Mary was that way. Her wick was short…both for patience, for focus, for desire.  During the day she was a patient at Londonberry Psychiatric Home. At night, she lit her wick and just for a flicker, she was brilliant.

She got up and walked over to the small refrigerator in her dorm. As she opened its door, light flooded in and lit the shadows all around her. She was accustomed to them as she walked in darkness, being born under the moon´s shadow. She reached in for the left-over hot-dog, she had started eating, earlier.

She hurried the door shut. Mary was reluctant to light. Her slight figure was more elegant at night. She was a shy and somber young lady…At daytime, just a profile. At night an enticing black hole. 

She went back to bed.. and continued bemusing the fact that she had so much to give..but no one to give it to, and chewed her tough hot dog.

Her ideas were so short that despite their depth, despite their intensity and fathomless desire, they seemed trifle. But her life was built on those fleeting moments…on the broken pieces of her shattered light…that glittered every now and then.

Replenished, she stretched and spread her wings. She only unraveled them, under the shelter of the night. She actually sat up and expanded her chest, as she unfolded the weight on her shoulders. She was majestic as she cast her shadow under the moonlight.

Where would she go, tonight?
She took a deep breath as she inhaled a hail Mary, invoking wind under her wings..

Whom would she love tonight?

“I’ll just trust the silent call that beckons”..she thought to herself, as she actually stood on the window sill, preparing to let go.

Love is a type of madness. Letting go like that, fearlessly trusting the gaping abyss of all, unknown. It requires generosity to take the leap. But Mary was fearless that way. She felt she had nothing to lose.

Every night she would go through this ritual before flying off to someone in need. It was much more than prayer.

Tonight, she envisioned a nearby hospital. She flew in the pediatric ward´s window and hovered over the sleeping children. One was awake. He was a seven-year old with severe burns.

“What happened, baby?” she asked tenderly as she flew down by his bedside…

The little boy just stared. He seemed to have been expecting the visit, but was heartless. He had been playing with his brother as they prepared festive fireworks for the town’s patron saint. They went off in his face. They also reached his heart because he felt nothing. No fear. No excitement. No expectations. No hope. No pain.

He too, wanted to die…but he didn´t know it, she felt.

They didn´t have to exchange words. The shared memory was gruesome, enough. She took him in her arms and cradled him in her wings. Suddenly she began to sing. The notes echoed from heavenly orbs moving to destiny’s partiture. Every stave had a tune, deep in rhythmic repetition. It seemed almost like a soothing mantra, rocking the boy to sleep.

She prayed down ointment as she sang, endearingly spreading it to soothe his wounds.

She enveloped him in her wings, all night. Then she placed him back on his pillow, listless.

Daylight.

Back in her bed, she curled up, tucking her wings ‘neath her covers, just in time, before the morning nurse walked in with her pills. Shadow-time.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What is righteousness?

There is nothing more radical tan fighting for righteousness.

Yet how can you target it, when everybody’s perception of righteousness, is subjective?

Righteousness honors life. It dignifies man, flaunting the full meaning of dignity, as it ignites inner light.

Despite its cost, you stand tall when you do what is right, whether recognized or not. You can still look people in the eye; shed a tear in outbursts of compassion; flush at public recognition. Innocence is repaired in righteousness, shedding the lurid shadow of guilt that tags you, forever bringing you down. Righteousness makes living, less burdensome. It keeps you humble as it stands, unreachable. It keeps awe and wonder alive, when choosing to do what is right.

But how do we know what is right? How can we recognize it as an option, as we choose our path through life?

Righteousness stems from good will. Though ‘wishful thinking’ is not enough to generate a ‘good’ act, it motivates good intention.  In itself, the subsequent act may not have a ‘good’ result but, if the intention behind it is ‘good’; if generated before the act´s consummation (a priori), it appeases the soul. Good acts stem from peace.

Wrongdoing comes from turmoil. It re-acts aggressively or defensively, instead of responding to conflict, from inner peace. It justifies ‘bad’ acts, after they have been done (a posteriori). Though the motivating force behind it, be not consciously directed to doing wrong, the need to cover it up defensively, justifying its intention, is in itself reflection of guilt. Guilt stems from wrongful intention. Whether the deed, in itself, is right or wrong, is hard to judge. Its effect may, in fact turn with time, or have hidden benefits. It depends on the significance given by those, affected.

Righteousness is constructed, both by the doer and by those affected by an act. It is not limited to a person or an act. It is the pulsating living force, that motivates life. It has movement of its own and is, therefore, unattainable. Nobody owns it. Its movement is released by ‘good’ will. Volition, both creates it and destroys it. We recognize it by its movement. It is alive; it cannot stand still; it cannot be possessed. Nobody is the owner of right. We can only travel on its back as it drives life, on. Resisting it is death-prone.

We choose righteousness; both, to do right, and to receive it. It does not come from judgment.  It is a choice. If we receive acts graciously, we can turn wrongdoing into righteousness. Gratitude is the grace that receives wrongdoing and its after-effect, into goodness, reverting its negative flow.
Righteousness is identified by its movement. It gives peace. If an act done, gives peace, it is right. ‘Good’ acts can only be generates from this inner peace. It is not about right and wrong, but about equilibrium.
Keep it simple. It is the flow of life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Change Management through Mass media


To survive in our fast-developing world and adapt to ever-changing technology, we have to be willing to change. Life itself is about change, continually evolving for adaptation. However, though nature has its laws to ensure the survival of the fittest, man’s life-span cannot wait that long! We change as a natural process, as we grow from infants to adolescence, to adulthood and old age. With consciousness and free will, man can give this change, a direction. It is, through conscious decisión-making, that we make of ‘change’, a ‘transformation’.
Given our multi-tiered nature, there are physical, emotional, rational and transpersonal (spiritual) factors involved in change. To control the way we change we must first become aware of these  multi-variate agents , as we play out our roles as individuals, as couples, as families, as communities and as society as a whole. Televised ‘reality shows’ are one way of associating ‘real-life’ with our own reality, identifying what we see with what we are living. It allows us to see in others, what we sometimes fail to see in ourselves. The process of unfolding from the safety of our living-room, introjecting awareness and projecting what we feel, on to what we see, is the first step towards developing consciousness through self-awareness and self-observation.
Identifying self in others as they live out our same life-situations, is the basic principle that sustains the television program “Hermosa Esperanza”, as it follows five reality-shows unfolding everyday-life in five different families, representing life in lower and middle class, Mexico City. The synergy between TELEVISA’s state of the art technology and Nestlé’s desire to change harmful eating habits among the Mexican population, make this program one of its kind. Its impact on behavioral change follows strategic steps in change-management, bridging the gap between the living condition AS IS, and change patterns that will determine conditions TO BE. Thus, mass media becomes an invaluable tool for change to become conscious, and transform our immediate reality.
Basic steps include:
1.       Develop self-awareness to observe yourself acting and reacting in daily life.
2.       Identify a problem affecting you.
3.       Pin-point  a direct cause.
4.       Set your target for change.
5.       Analyze the steps required for it.
6.       Decide to change.
7.       Commit to self-discipline.
8.       Be constant.
9.       Be willing to sacrifice and let go of ‘who you were, to give way to who you will ‘become’.
10.   Trust and open up to unforeseen novel conditions.
These basic principles set the guidelines followed during the pilot transmission of the one-hour  reality- show “Hermosa Esperanza”, transmitted weekly prime time, throughout Mexico. There is no script but life itself; nothing to hold on to except the hope for change; nothing to move you but the will to say YES to change.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How can we love beyond common sense?


Love is a mystery. It cannot be explained or rationalized. It does not obey reason, logic, cause or effect. It cannot be controlled or directed. Love IS.
Being so, of course it directly dethrones Ego-self.  ‘What do you mean I did not create or destroy love from free-will? What do you mean that love is an external force that does not depend on what I say or do?
My late husband and I met half way between a falling angel and a rising ape (I needn´t say who was who!). We had a totally different understanding of life and love. Where I was always yearning with an instinctive longing for fulfillment from Love at a higher realm, he was proudly bragging the love he could generate. One lived an ethereal reality, while the other was earth-bound and totally physical.
Those who identify with the capacity to see beyond what the eyes perceive,  sense a reality yet un-manifest, understanding Love as absolute. Those who limit reality to tangible truths, proved by deeds, need bodies to love.
Of course, experience integrates multiple realms of: a physical, psychological, rational and spiritual nature. Love encompasses all. It cannot be fragmented, though our limited perception distorts that subjective understanding of it. But even so, it is ‘lovable’. It rings a bell as if tapping into our unconscious knowing that love IS, far and beyond our experiencing of it. So when I love, I am isolated, separated from other’s experiencing of it and yet merged into a flow where I lose my self-conceived identity and become ONE with others. I can feel totally alienated, when I perceive such unfathomable love.
Common sense cannot contain love. It cannot understand it. No matter how it tries to define love, it ends up limiting it. Love cannot be held or contained in the present; nor in the past. Only the future can hold the ethereal possibility of love, held in HOPE.
The challenge is not to give way to doubt but Be-LIVE it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Confusing Confessions

I was born an educator. The first ten years, I taught by repeating; the next ten years, I taught from knowledge; the following ten years, I taught from experience. Now, I teach from my errors.

Nothing brings us closer as humans, than our shared foibles and vulnerabilities.  The old aphorism states that “Errare humanum est” (it is human to err)…and yet, I think it is errors that make us human. Behind every deed there is an attitude, our outlook on life. But behind that, there is a mental pattern of associations that we create from our beliefs. So behind every error, we must look for the faulty thought-sequence we believe to be true.
These are some of my errors, which I share, not with the false expectation that they will help you avoid repeating yours, because somehow we each have to live our own mistakes, but in the hope that my boldness will encourage you to seek and reset your own false belief systems.

The hardest thing in my life has not been: becoming a doctor or a master in public health, or my field training in epidemiology, or my training as a military; nor running a national program against AIDS or spiking risk among adolescents to build resilient, life-driven pathways from death to health, but rather- having been born a girl.
I was the first-born of a Mexican patriarch, and not being  a boy, I was born a disappointment. Perhaps to appease such grievance, my father named me after his first mistress and as a child I became his girlfriend; he called me:  “novia mia”. That was my first confusion. He used to give me money, while keeping it from my mother. I embedded rivalry, guilt and carried shame and misgivings.

Now, he would have had me become a lady, since he inscribed me to Vogue magazine when I was fourteen – but oops! second disappointment. When I became ‘of-age’ for the ‘sex-talk’, he insisted I shun all male relationships, lest I become a whore. Little did he know I was no longer a virgin and his lecture was only branding me: ‘disgraced’.
Now my Mom taught me that to love was to suffer. And boy, she suffered enough: being an American single daughter, who ran after her love from the first-world, to live in the third-world was in itself a sacrifice. But then having five children, each 10 months apart, epitomized it.

I also lived ten years with our British tutor with whom we sang as a family quintet, songs that set the tune and rhythm to my life: the Impossible Dream, the Quijote of the Mancha and Sound of Music.
So my guilt came from my father; my self-sacrifice came from my mother; and my idyllic fantasy, from my tutor. These became my belief systems.
When my prince charming appeared, a stalwart Catholic believer, and asked me to marry him, I felt unworthy. And of all things, out of love for him, I self-sacrificed becoming a nun; a cloistered nun at that! Of course, I was fully equipped to enter the monastery: I was a whore in disgrace, who needed penance, to love;  a “problem to be solved”-like Maria in Sound of Music.  I even remember singing to the St. Joseph’s Carmelite nuns, from a ladder, as I enacted the theme song : “The hills are alive”. Little did I know it was the first scene to the screen-play that I would play-out throughout my entire life.
Now, my monastic experience was heart- wrenching but glorifying. Away from TV, radio, computer, newspaper or even books, with a vow of silence, poverty and obedience, I learned to wash, clean, mend and soothe my soul. My past Harvard aggrandizement of self-worth, mopped away. My years as a postulant, as a novice, and as a nun committed by marriage to God (in my Mother´s wedding dress) confronted me with the inner battle between my higher and lower selves. Everything became a metaphor: medieval ceremonies such as laying in meditation in a coffin, as a symbol for the need to die to the body in order to be reborn in spirit; old nuns in brown and black coiffures singing rocking songs to an enamel representation of Jesus, throughout the night; the intention of saving souls with every spot, obsessively cleaned…are memories that have rescued me from turmoil later in life. The grounding experience would have been enough to save me had I left, from my own free will. But my belief system (and cowardice to face life) was wired to have me play out the shame of having been ‘put out’. My restlessness could not be acquitted with self-flagellation; too much of a free thinker, too much of a dreamer.  Imagine the disgrace and drama of having been rejected not only by nuns but by God himself. ..paradise lost…and with it, the hope of being ‘good’. It just ratified that I was unworthy; painfully defeated as I witnessed my prince-charming’s marriage to someone better, when I returned.
Now these are examples of how we thread the canvas of our lives into self-built dramas; the threads of thought and their color are set by our beliefs and attitudes.
I won´t abound on the same dramatic pattern I have relived over and over again: my marriage to an older, wonderful man, defeated unto death by the guilt of his son’s suicide; my remarriage to a problem drinker, damaged by resentment against a mother who let her lover abuse his sister…
On and on… I have continued playing out the Impossible Dream, fighting ‘the unbeatable foe’ of AIDS, trying to ‘ right the un-rightable wrong’ even unto court, in an international white-collar scandal that deviated AIDS funds and unjustly blamed me ; fighting for women´s rights among sex-workers, and dignifying the right to love beyond color, race, sex, social institutions and even personal judgment. Love should not be erased by contract or divorce. Love is eternal and we should strive to strengthen its bonds, networking with good will. And yet, we are what we believe.
Now, none of this is true. Its a product of my own thought formation. We build associations with what we believe.

Check your own belief patterns. Which ones have molded your lives?

Be selective. Not all beliefs are bad. My heavenly husband still walks with me and despite my unworthiness, even gave me a late child born on Christmas Day.

Some beliefs do come true.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Patching, Packing, P’aching- to Love:

Trying to Learn to Love, through consciousness, I have realized that it can only be done a step at a time, inch by inch, day by day. That’s why God gave us Time, with the promise that we have eternity to get it right. And yet, we are relentlessly pressured by the shadow of death.
Now that my loved ones are making amends, patching up old wounds, packing their life-acquired goods before saying good-bye, I can only love them, by aching. It should come to me as no surprise, since, when the coin of awareness was tossed, in my life, it fell- pain-side up. Pleasure lost.  I learned to love through pain.
Early on, I learned that to ache was to love. As a child, every time I hurt, I was cared for; when I cried, I was embraced; when I was sorry, I was loved. Christ on the Cross, exemplified the Supreme act of Love by dying for us. So at this late age in time, I love by ‘aching’. Thus, when I hurt I tend to want to caress others´ pain away lovingly, knowing I am hurting from love. However sharing others’ sufferings with them, is not enough. It may lead to understanding and empathy, but it does not transform reality.
For a while now, I have been trying to change reality by ´praying’. I try evoking and breathing in, God’s Goodness, while exhaling all tension, anger and ill feelings. However, as I do it I am aware that I am releasing, all my negative feelings unto the world. I should rather, be taking in the world’s wrongs and ‘righting’ them, through Love. Thus, I could transform negativity, into blessings and ‘p-ray’ them back out, into the world. That requires transmuting pain into love.
We are all individual drops of water making way into the sea. When we unite with other droplets, we fuse our individuality to become one with them, as we gush together in the flow of life. Merging with others, I lose my subjective experiencing, and expand awareness through their experiences. My pain ceases to be mine when I expand my feelings, to perceive those of others and then give myself up, to be transformed into a ‘oneness’, altogether different. Thus, pain ceases, when there is no one to ache. Only then, can it be transformed into compelling Love. That is how I have come to understand that pain is just another way of perception. Stepping out of my experience of pain, I can become that added little drop of intention and become part of a greater flow of Love. Perhaps trying it, I could release the pain I feel for others and transform it into Love.
I was thinking how this century has brought about hopelessness, with the ill omen that menaces it-being the end on the world. But when I see my daughter elate into bubbles over a boy and be transformed into joy as she prepares for a party, I realize it must be a feeling that comes only as ‘our worlds’ get closer to their own ‘end’. Life seems to go on, as does the experiencing of it. So, with this renewed awareness, I chose to live what is left of it, transforming pain into love. Only then can I experience the pleasure of enjoyment and the grace of gratitude, for having a new day.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning to Love: Imagination?


The other day I was stung by a scorpion…it must not have been very poisonous because I did not get an anaphylactic shock. It was about as big as the palm of my hand, black and very angry as it forked its clippers wildly, when we finally killed it. Unfortunately, it stung me right in the nerve that innervates the plantar tendon of my sole; exactly on my ‘Achilles heel’.
As I have taken it upon myself to reflect on the underlying, every day lessons on Higher Loving, and give meaning to the synchronicity in my life, I kept asking myself ‘What meaning could a scorpion’s sting possibly have?’ ‘What was it telling me’. ‘What was this continuous burning pain in my ‘sole’ or should I say ‘soul’ for?’ ‘Why this crippling wound in my Achilles heel?’ It certainly was a constant reminder of my ‘soul’s vulnerability’. But why?  I knew it was not circumstantial.
After going over my familiar guilt-ridden associations, I ruled out punishment, sabotage, purging and penance. It had to have a constructive reason. As I explored my feelings related to it all, I uncovered frustrated anger at myself for having known, unknowingly, all along, that there was a scorpion in my room. I had even mentioned it to my family…but their familiar response to my gnawing intuition, only ratified that ‘it was just another crazy product of my imagination’. Even after being stung I denied my own intuition. It wasn´t till after we found it, the next day, that I was proved right. So, why didn´t I listen to myself? That has been my problem, along life. I’ve listened to others, rather than myself, always belittling my inner perceptions, which I shun as if I were indeed, ‘crazy’. Worse still, I thought perhaps it was my imagination that was actually creating the circumstances which I envisioned, would happen?
Suddenly, it dawned on me. The whole thing had a lesson to be learned. I had, in some weird way, unconsciously, provoked the circumstances that made for the scorpion to sting me. 
We are all generators of the things that happen to us. I had, somehow, agreed or accepted for this pain to come upon myself, much as I have created the problems and crises in my life, perhaps only to justify my self-commiseration as a victim.
Still, I kept asking my Higher Self: ‘But Why?’ ‘What for?’ ‘Why this continual pain?---and just like that, I understood. The pain was to remind me I have, as we all have, the capacity to create and change the circumstances around us. However, most of the time, we are unaware of it. So, we unconsciously induce only negative thoughts and effects…
The scorpion’s poisonous sting in my nerve has now, given me a constant reminder of the capacity we all have, to imagine, create and bring upon ourselves and others whatever we wish for. Now, this crippling pain has made me aware and conscious of the thoughts and choices, which I am consciously trying to use to wish for health, goodness and peace.
As as child, I used to play with an imaginary magic wand, waving it around to bless the people I met on the street, with. Sometimes at night, while trying to sleep, I would imagine flying into hospital rooms and showering those, sick, with ‘happy’ powders. But as I grew older I dismissed it all as ‘childish play’.
Now, my pain has made me wonder if we can, in fact create magic.