Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5/25/11—Connecting With The Divine

Today's Draw: Five of Vessels/Ecstasy from the Wildwood. How do you connect with the divine? Do you ever let go of all control, release concerns about what you look like or what others will think, and surrender body and soul to divine communion?

Traditionally the Fives in tarot are about instability, loss and struggle on some level. So the Five of Cups...or Vessels...would be about loss in the area of love. Maybe a breakup or a disturbing discovery about your loved one. But the Wildwood has a different take on the idea of loss and love. It's about losing yourself to divine connection. Indeed, the card comes with the word Ecstasy on it.

I live in Washington, DC, which is probably one of the country's most conservative, image-conscious, career-driven cities. People here are very concerned about how everything appears. Being sort of Bohemian and eccentric in this city puts me in the vast minority, whereas in someplace like LA or Seattle, I'd totally fit in. For some reason, though I'm very insecure about certain aspects of who I am, I've never been afraid to be me, as far as my personality and spirituality are concerned. Drive down my street and look at the houses and you'll see taupe, cream, white, eggshell, beige, bright blue and yellow, cream, eggshell, taupe...not hard to guess where I live. 

About a year ago, I went to a kirtan with a friend of mine. A kirtan is like a concert, but all the singing is in sanskrit. And the singer sings a line of the song and the audience sings it back to them. For the purposes of understanding the kind of song, think of the Hare Krishna song most people have heard of...repetitive and growing in intensity as the repetition increases. The performers were two of the most famous chantmasters in the world, Krishna Das and Deva Premal. The whole idea of a concert like this is to lose yourself in the chant. The audience is expected to sing as loud as they like and break into ecstatic dance in the aisles at will. The performers encourage it. But a good one-third to half of the DC audience, who bought tickets presumably knowing what they were doing, sat in their seats, lips zipped, with their hands in their laps. 

Perhaps that's how they enjoy sacred chant. But as I noticed this, I thought, "maybe they want to participate, but just can't let go". You know, we see evangelical Christians dancing with snakes and speaking in tongues and think it's weird. But it's the same principle as what I've just described. These are people giving themselves over, body and mind, to the divine. And why? Well, for one thing, it's a way of expressing love for the divine. But for another, it feels good. Going to this kirtan and letting go for a few hours resulted in days of amazing bliss in my life. It moved the energy within me and totally transformed me. You know how you have to drive your car around a bit to blow the gunk out before taking an emissions test? That's what it does for your body and mind. It blows the gunk out. 

And it doesn't have to be chanting. Some people lose themselves in whatever kind of music they love and move around their house unencumbered by what it may it look like. Others will work up a frenzy painting on a canvas. Or go deep into meditation. Even sex can elevate you to this state. And there are many levels of it. When I'm meditating, that's a more quiet approach and the effects are just as blissful, but they don't last as long. At least not for me. But it does move beyond kneeling at the side of your bed and reciting "Now I lay me down to sleep...". It goes to a place of surrender, a place where you leave this earth and your spirit merges with the divine. It can happen spontaneously or it can happen through practice, like through learning how to meditate. 

Drugs can simulate this kind of thing. And in the shamanic practice, for example, they are sometimes used. But you don't need drugs to surrender. And they can just as often get in the way of surrender, not to mention make it hard to remember what happened afterward. Besides, if you're going to meet God, do you really want to hang out with him when you're stoned?

Anywho, I'm going to another kirtan soon with a friend. And one of my FBFs is going, too, and bringing her friends with her. This will be a first time for her and her friends. That road is not for everyone. But everyone does have an avenue and it's up to you to find what it is for you. For me, chanting and meditating work. Shamans usually use rhythmic drumming to induce the state. For some, saying prayers, like doing a rosary, helps. Repetitive stuff seems to work and the cool thing about rosaries is that you don't have to keep count. Malas do the same thing in Eastern traditions. They have 108 beads, twice that of a rosary. For other people it's more physical and they lose themselves in movement or some other extreme exertion. One of my FBFs does moving meditations in the Eastern tradition because he's hyper and can't sit still for meditation. At the very least, I think we all owe it to ourselves to experience who we are...or aren't...when we slip into the timeless euphoria of an ecstatic state. 

We've been conditioned to believe that life is all about looking good to others and being better than them. But it's not, imo. Instead it's about learning and growing and becoming more of our divine selves. It's hard not to care what other people think. But why deny yourself bliss because of that? You can do this in the privacy of your home. No one needs to know. But it's worthwhile to experiment with ways to connect more profoundly with whatever it is you believe in. 

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