PAIN

Beasts may know
more than you ascribe
and humans, less
Pain is the sea
from which
all life has sprung
the vastness
of each and every
experience
all that may be dreamt
and more
for consciousness first rose
from eternity
and this of course
is the everything
the all
And yet
we must tell you
that it was
and is
a beautiful sea
vast in its shades
of blue to green
suffering and birth
all wrapped
all contained
all spread
in penetration
of being
in its most primitive
design
At the time
as the waters rose
new and endless
there was no distinction
and compassion
as yet
held no place
it was a birth
pure and simple
with agony
surrender
all of a piece
at home
in the emergence
of the soul
And the sea
was not only water
not only salt
but the whole
of every being
swelling and receding
like the body
as it breathes
No separation
between the in breath
of purity –
vast virgin forests
and rivers clear
as tears
and the exhale
the surging aggression
of dying cells
a swirl
miasma of contradiction
in the substance of life
eating and then birthing
itself
over and over
where the waves crash
upon the shore
flatten the sand
and disappear
as if
they have never been
This was
a holy time
in its very chaos
no attempt
at a united control
fundamental particles
doing a dance
mating
exploding
destroying and then
multiplying
as the full spectrum
of consciousness
began its journey
a rich
and tempestuous
time
How could one ask
why
when suffering was woven
into the fabric
of being
as necessary
as colour
in a landscape
as true
as intelligence
as loving
as loneliness
for it was not
a design
it was not
a plan
it was always
and everything
an ocean
wise beyond the boundaries
of knowing
for there was no knowing
there was only
all
Pain is
experience
and experience
is perception
and perception
is the whole journey
I seek
the journey
we have taken
these infinite souls
and I
Fragrant
as dawn
in the empty mountains
blessed
as a funeral pyre
the ocean
was a cauldron
and it contained
every ingredient
as well as the spoon
the pot
the air
and the fire itself
Found in the broth
was even the cook
the very
Maker
As a child
wakes from a dream
to find
that truth
is the light of day
the safety of morning
so too
do you awaken
from dreams of pain
And I can no more
tell you
of its reason
than the bird
can translate
her song
It is the fabric
it is glorious
in its depth
and its expression
and it is only real
in memory
though there is no such thing
for once it leaves
it is gone
forever
But if you must reach back
to the point of union
with the physical
delve into the splitting
of the very first cell
and know that this
this is pain
It is awareness
it is being
and with all the fury
of a dragon’s blow
this is
the making
of your world
It is more real
than the costumes
you wear
yet it is ultimately
not
what you are
Let the ocean
seethe and settle
let the battle
seep into bloody ground
and dry
upon a long, long wind
Let the world somehow
begin again
but only when you are ready
when the sea
has wiped you clean
and death
is no longer
to be found

MAN OF WISDOM

Transmission: a man at a turning point in his life asks.. what do I need to do to be happy?

Oct 15 08
Once upon a time
there lived a boy
who believed in love
who loved to play
His brightness was contagious
his laugher pure
and he was like a new page
after the books of
his father
and his father’s father
away from the heaviness
of their fear
and control


He was a lover of life
a teller of stories
and his clear eyes
captivated the girls
who blushed
in his presence
for he played no games
but only told the truth
that flowed so easily
from his heart
He was young
like a baby’s skin
young
like a newly opened flower
young
like bread
fresh from the oven
captured in that moment
of time
which cannot last
cannot grow
anywhere else but away
from the newness
that must be lost
We take you back
to this story
because you
the man
are unaware
of how this haunts you still
of how the purity
of this boy
was so real and true
and how much of you
was in him
and how much of you
wonders still
where has he gone
what is he doing now
and is he forever
lost
You are now
in a time of reckoning
of examining
all you have become
Taking a close look
at the powers
you have found
the duties you perform
and the armor
you now wear

Somewhere
upon your journey
from there to here
something very important
has been lost
and if you choose
this is the moment
to turn your head around
and consider
what you have sacrificed
and where joy
might once again
be found
Let there be no mistake
this is not about
becoming the child
nor even
the young lad
but rather examining
the choices made
about what it meant
to you
to grow up
into adulthood
what it meant to you
to become a man
This is the place
where you took a turn
where you looked
at your world
and decided
what you must do
if you were to be
taken seriously
if you were to accomplish
all that men do

The place
where play was
was abandoned
in favour of being sensible
where innocence was lost
in exchange for strength
where honesty
was put aside
to make way for appearance
the trappings
of manliness
that you could not deny
You had no guidance
at this time
and you were so adrift
that you knew
you had to create
from your own
survival instinct
and what you saw
around you was rooted
in self-protection
so this then
you learned
this you copied
this became the new you
But what if
this child
could find a way
to express his truth
without defense
without hiding
and without the feeling
that he must frighten away
anyone who comes
too close
before there is
the possibility
of danger
and it is then
too late?

You are asked to understand
that this boy
had a right
to his wide-eyed innocence
and that there are paths
to lead him forward
that are not a complete
about face
from what he knew
That you now
have a right
to be the author
of the new you
the one who smiles
without protection
who dares
without fearing
what he may lose
It is a rediscovery
of power
that is thrust upon you now
personal power that emerges
from that same tender heart
the one you put away
to be hidden
so long ago
It is knowing
that you need not
throw away
his vulnerability
nor the strength
of your fathers
but rather discover
a new union
of the two
Our journey of trust
is always back
to that of the child
for the innocence we lose
is not mistaken
but merely tested
by the pain of our fear
And on the other side
is the greatest courage
where we walk consciously toward that
which frightens us the most
our weapons dropped
our arms
open wide
Can you name the day
you began
protecting yourself?
Can you name the ways
you hide behind
the polish that you believe
the world expects?
Can you travel to that turning point
and make a different choice
let yourself consider
the inner power
that is much greater
much more lasting
than the external power
cultivated by a man’s man
in the distraction
of pursuit?
You are so much more
than you have shown
the world
and so much less
than you pretend
You are richer than you dare to dream
and more empty-handed
than you would ever admit
It is in the discovery
of the beauty of
your emptiness
your unknowingness
your softness
and your tears
that you can find a deep
and potent foundation
for the man of wisdom
you truly crave
Your body tells you this
in so many ways
each ache
each symptom
crying for your truth
Your heart tells you this
every day
in an unspoken longing
for something completely different
from the love
you have attempted to portray
And your spirit
coils
in explosive desire
to express and express
what has been unsaid
so very long
not in anyone else’s words
but only yours
your rawness
your unprettiness
and in this
your beauty
unlike any form
in which
you have been contained
This
is our prescription:
Observe your fear
and the many ways
it has learned to hide
How often does it speak
in the voice of others
the one that has made you feel safe
the one that has given you answers
until now
Consider your joy
and how it too might speak
What calls to you
that you have not
let yourself consider
what might feed you
the nourishment
you seem to lack?
Above all
examine what guides you
by what measure
do you define yourself
and your days?
What do you deem worthy
and why?
What is your purpose
in this world?

These questions may seem
both vast
and irrelevant
when you are facing
much simpler pain
and yet
they are the root
of a deep confusion
and a missing-ness
that has led you astray
for so very long
Your soul seeks
and yet your mind
does not let you wander
Your heart yearns
and yet you contain yourself
in sensible ways
Your body hungers
and you are afraid
to ask yourself
for the answer
always looking to another
to tell you
what your own instinct
might claim
Such power you hold!
Can you feel it?
Such softness you are!
Do you dare to admit it?
This is such
a redefinition of Self
that we know
you will reel
and shy away
from the whole of it
yet only begin
take one bite
of the apple
steal one piece
of the pie
lift up
one edge
of the blanket
to look beneath
at the wonders
of the unclothed truth
that awaits you
if you dare
Your process
is not about accomplishment
nor any task
you can measure
There are no
building blocks
to make a tower
No costume to wear
This is simply
a new day
of nakedness
of the adolescent
who lets himself discover
his own manhood
his own destiny
and the heartbreaking love
that will take
his breath away
Begin with the boy
and ask him
what he can teach
Then learn gently
without judgement
of Self or others
in the humility
of what you find there
The baby’s skin
the flower’s petal
the warmth of baking
that which will be eaten soon
These are promises
and you are their completion
Never again to deny
what was so perfectly
begun

Eulogy for Nic

On a full moon in the final days of August, Nicolas Jozsef Bergeron, a very dear young friend, completed the journey from physical form to being of light. His passing  followed that of his mother Ildiko, a beloved feminine soulmate of mine, by only three years. I was grateful to have the chance to speak at a service in Nic’s honour… 

Nic was a beautiful man.  Tall, dark and handsome, yes, but above all inwardly beautiful, and throughout his illness his beauty only grew.  Nic had his father’s lanky grace and gentle eyes. He also inherited Jacques’ gifts of artistry, diplomacy, and kindness. And in other ways, in the passions of his mind and spirit, Nic was his mother’s son. Like Ildiko, Nic bore a fierce curiosity about matters of the heart and soul, and after embarking upon his journey with leukemia his search for meaning exploded. Like his mother, Nic had always fought a battle with shyness and self-doubt, but he dreamt of travel, and women and love, and above all he longed for a clear direction in life, one that would allow him to step into the largeness that was his true Self.

A student of varied spiritual philosophies, Nic was also drawn to the wisdoms of his mother. Nic and Ildiko shared a commitment to deep honesty, self-responsibility and a hunger to help others. Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend many hours in discussion with Nic about the things he found the most important in life, so I’d thought I’d like to share some of them with you today, because I think Nic, and the budding teacher and author in him, would really like it.  So … a taste of his favourite topics…
“Life is suffering, and that’s okay. It is through crisis and pain that we dare to become who we really are.” 

Those of us close to Nic were witness to the most extraordinary blossoming in him throughout the course of his illness, an opening that seemed to reach wider and wider, the more ill he became.  The young man who had once been afraid to speak, unveiled a startlingly honest and eventually award-winning blog about his experience with cancer. In his last months, Nic had no patience for falsehoods or denial. He was determined to learn every lesson, open every gift that came as a result of his challenges. And then, he wanted everyone else around him to get it too.

“Don’t be afraid. It’s a waste of precious time.”

Nic spoke to me often of his “old” self, and all the shyness he had worked to overcome.  But once Nic awakened to his new Self, there was no turning back.  There was so much he wanted to taste. To see Europe, to publish his writings, to find a woman who could match his own intellectual, emotional and spiritual enquiry.  And as he grew more and more courageous in the facing of his physical mortality, he could not bear to see others around him doing anything other than leaping into the abyss of life.  In the last conversation we had, he spoke of a plan to have a lovely woman friend push him along the boardwalk in his wheel chair.  He never undervalued the joys of a game with his brothers, a film with his whole family or just one more trip to Queen for an ice capp. He wanted more moments. And he wanted all of us to see just how perfect are the moments we have.
“Feel, express it, and be set free.”
Nic believed in the power of understanding our emotions, not running from them, and not drowning in them. One day he would speak of how tired he was of grief. Don’t they get it? he’d say. I’m the lucky one, I get to leave and be in bliss and they’re stuck here. And then the next, he would plot to draw someone into his arms for an embrace, sure to open their heart wide and spill the waiting tears. Some days he would question. Some days, he would doubt. Occasionally he feared the hurt his beloved family might experience and he would wonder if there wasn’t some deep truth behind it all that he had somehow missed.  But through his relentless self-honesty, his writings, meditations and dreams, he walked through his challenges with such strength in the midst of his own physical weakness that he was able to reach out to others. Nic visited other young cancer patients on his floor when he was in hospital, not just to cheer them up, but to remind them to empower themselves in their own healing. Those of us around him who were in good health weren’t spared either. Nic watched over all of us, and no one was permitted to get away with anything even slightly cowardly or unconscious. He wanted healing for the whole world, not just for himself.


(The photo on the left is of a particularly radiant Nic in the late stages of his illness.)

And finally..
“Never give up on joy, because Love is all there is.”
It’s impossible to speak about Nic without making reference to his extraordinary family. It would be so easy to see only the unfairness in what these beautiful souls have had to face. And yet Nic believed deeply in Trust, in grieving and then letting go, and in the eternity of Love. This faith was and is lived by each and every one of the Pataky/Bergerons. Their readiness for joy cannot be extinguished, and Nic led the way, as he never stopped reaching for the smallest of pleasures in life in his constant awareness of how the energy of his heart created his world. Nic knew that Love is everything, and everything is Love. He knew we cannot fail at love, that it cannot be lost or forgotten, only perhaps hidden for a time, beneath our fear.  But always, even in the darkest of moments, Nic knew how to return to joy, and he made it very clear that this was his wish for everyone, should he leave to join his mom.  And so from Nic to everyone who loved and loves him, cry as much and as often as you need. But then get ready to live a really great party, with food and drink and wild drumming and unbridled dance.  Because, as Nic knew so well, every piece we are given of life is worthy of celebration. And there’s no need to look elsewhere. Love is already here. 

Rays of light photo by Stefan Podrabinski