Gathering Ourselves

  • Books on My Shelf 2013

Welcome back to SunnyRoomStudio.  This week, from my shelf, I selected two books that compliment each other.

One is specific to the writing and creative process, but still touches on many aspects of life in a meditative journal; the other, generally more global in approach, also focuses on specifics you’ll recognize.

Both of them emphasize the intense spiritual walk we are all experiencing, knowingly or unknowingly, as mortals.  Even as external forms shift and sway, come and go, our internal evolution is markedly the same.

Too often, however, the world is caught up in “form,” instead of looking for the underlying patterns that are nearly identical.

Fortunately, once you begin to see the real depth of your life experience, slowly moving away from surface assumptions and superficial understandings, the patterns become more obvious.

  • Everything Is the Way: Ordinary Mind Zen by Elihu Genmyo Smith
  • A Walk Between Heaven and Earth: A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process by B. Nina Holzer

If you were to consider these book titles, for example, from a surface-based perspective, you might not see any similarity or connection.  But dig a little deeper …

If “everything is the way,” writing and creativity are also “the way.”

Smith writes: “If we allow the conditions of body-mind, of others, or of the world, to determine our life, then we are driven by conditions and circumstances and trapped by them.  Our practice life is not to create some place where we can avoid those things; doing that is another daydream. Our practice, our life, is being in midst of the circumstances and functioning according to cirumstances.” (Shambhala, 2012)

  • Later, he adds: Your life is this intimacy opportunity to manifest who you are in the midst of the conditions arising and passing.

Still, the tendency is to perceive life in reverse fashion, somehow convincing ourselves that the proper life agenda is to create just the right conditions — ones that will allow us to manifest a personalized sense of self in the ways we think are beneficial, without problems, and definitely, soothing to the ego.

But external conditions are largely beyond our control; and they will never be as desired, as sought, as expected — not for long anyway.  So, indeed, “everything is the way.”

Everything is our teacher, in other words.  And everything is actually beyond mind-made labels and cause-effect perception.  Writing and the creative process are also wonderful teachers, according to B. Nina Holzer.

In her book, A Walk Between Heaven and Earth, she writes: “Talking to paper is talking to the divine.  Paper is infinitely patient.  Each time you scratch on it, you trace part of yourself, and thus part of the world, and thus part of the grammar of the universe.  It is a huge language, but each of us tracks his or her particular understanding of it.”

I actually read Holzer’s book in ’94, the year it was published (Crown), back when I was “deciding” to become a writer.  And, now, nearly 20 years later, it seems I have been on a walk between heaven and earth in a multitude of ways.  So returning to this book now (to share it here in SunnyRoomStudio) seemed like a small slice of destiny in my midst.  A gift.

  • What we are drawn to in life very often persists.  Though disguised at times, or even buried under external conditions that press and prod us, the outline of our internal world eventually surfaces once more.  Coming about in unexpected ways, leaving us with a sense of awe.  As Hozer writes:

“The process of gathering ourselves is a mysterious one.  Sometimes we are not sure how it has come about.  One morning we rub our eyes and the baskets are full, and we are not sure how it happened.  I open my journal and find that I have already been in that place in the woods.  My own words of wisdom are on the page, and I didn’t even know about it.”

For many people in many parts of the world this is the season of Christmas.  We give gifts; we celebrate life.  But mostly, we make an attempt to step beyond self.  To see the world from a broader perspective.  To do something for someone else.  So even as we attempt to understand and “gather ourselves,” we try to extend our energies outwardly to experience something beyond the demands and drama of the personal ego.  However you do this, whatever your beliefs, in the end, we are all learning how to dance within the current of existence … no matter its form or time frame.

As I close out the 4th year of blog posts in SunnyRoomStudio, I hope you continue to discover the “self within,” because it is much more than popular definitions of good and bad, life and death.

It is complete; it is timeless; it is heaven and earth. ~ dh

Thanks for visiting SunnyRoomStudio: a creative, sunny space for kindred spirits.

Looking for book suggestions? 

 I maintain an informal list here in SRS.  See top menu or click here.

 See you again Friday, January 3rd, when I’ll share another book from my shelf.  Also, in January, I’ve invited a couple of Studio Guests to share a favorite book from their shelves.  So stay tuned!

I hope you are also digging into your book collection.  Dusting a few of those books off.  Opening to any page to read a passage or a chapter you loved but have forgotten.

 A book is just a book until you read it for the second time.

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