Wednesday, December 3, 2014

On Love

On Love

"When you love you should say not, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course."

From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Painting by Dante Rossetti (1853)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Case for Reincarnation

“I think it is lost…but nothing is ever lost nor can it be lost.
The body sluggish, aged, cold, the ember from earlier fires 
shall duly flame again.”

Walt Whitman

Monday, October 13, 2014

Your Daily Hafiz

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being."


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letting Go of Our Stories

I just heard of a story which I would like to share today.

In “A New Earth”, Eckhart Tolle describes a story entitled "The Duck With The Human Mind". He says that when two ducks get into a fight, it never lasts too long, because the ducks will separate and float off in opposite directions. “The duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times, thus releasing the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float on peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened. If the duck had a human mind, it would keep the fight alive by thinking, by story-making. This would probably be the duck’s story: “I don’t believe what he just did. He came to within five inches of me. He thinks he owns this pond. He has no consideration for my private space. I’ll never trust him again. Next time he’ll try something else just to annoy me. I’m sure he’s plotting something already. But I’m not going to stand for this. I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t forget.”

Tolle summarizes, “But this is how most humans live all the time. No situation or event is ever really finished. ...We are a species that has lost its way. Everything natural, every flower or tree, and every animal have important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen. Our duck’s lesson is this: Flap your wings - which translates as “let go of the story” - and return to the only place of power: the present moment.”

This story illustrates how our minds get caught up in making up stories about our experiences. We may in the moment find ourselves feeling deeply;

Our dog has just died and we feel intense grief. We reunite with a lover and feel intense joy. We fly into a rage when someone crosses our boundaries.

All of these feelings are valid. However, it is our thoughts that follow the emotions that lead to the tangles I wrote about in my blog "The Life Tapestry". And, it's what we do with these thoughts that make all the difference. In the moment that we notice our thoughts going down that all too familiar pathway of "story", we can stop, take a deep breath, and return to our center. If we are still feeling the intensity of the emotions, we can "flap our wings" and release the energy just as the duck did. It is then we can return to the present moment, to our "place of power". We can return to our Pond.

Duck Dance by ViaMoi

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Daily Rumi

"Come out of the circle of time, and into the circle of love."  -Rumi

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beyond Ideas: Your Daily Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.

Rumi  13th century

Friday, July 4, 2014

Be Inspired! Your Daily Hafiz

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness,
the astonishing light of your own being."


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dancing with the Bones

Running with Ravens; Dancing with Wolves: Dancing with the Bones- A Rather Startling Discovery

by Martha Brumabaugh, PhD. Featured in Counter Culture Magazine June 2014

It was a sultry day and there seemed to be no escape from the mid-day heat. We had returned to Paris just after Bastille Day, to spend our last couple of nights in the city we had all grown to love. My sister and I were travelling with my two sons, and had in tow my “third” son, a kid who spent a lot of time with us, and referred to me as Mom #2. Three teen-age boys seemed to add to the exhaustive heat. We spent the morning at the Louvre, had a leisurely lunch and then took the metro across town to the Denfert Rochereau Metro station. We emerged near the Lion de Belfort, but headed straight to the entrance of the Catacombs. I hoped that going underground would be the answer to the heat. What I didn’t know was that we were destined to have an experience that would change four of us forever.
We paid the fee, and began the descent down the 130 steps on an old stone spiral staircase. At the bottom we followed a long, low corridor for what felt like forever. It smelled of earth, and mud, and at 57 degrees, it was a relief from the heat on the surface, twenty meters above. We wandered down the corridor, chatting, and wondering where the bones were. And then we approached a veritable gateway, a door with a sign that read, “ArrĂȘte, c’est ici l’empire de la mort,” or in English, “Halt, this is the realm of death.” At this point we left the earthen corridor entering into a maze of dimly lit stone walls embedded with skulls. We stopped very suddenly, and it seemed as though the conversations around us stopped as well. With a shudder, I realized that the walls were not made from river rock but from bones. I turned to say something to the boys only to find that I was alone. Everything was silent, and for all intents and purposes, I was alone in this “realm of the dead.”
I pushed aside my initial sense of panic, and began to walk deeper into the maze. I had no idea where I was, and there was no sign of a living creature. Just me with all those bones. I stopped periodically to read the plaques that noted from which cemetery the bones had been moved, and when. I reached out and felt the energy emanating from them. I cried at the huge number of infant and children’s bones. And then, in a flash, I remembered that I had lived more than one life in Paris, and there was a strong chance that some of those bones could be mine. What if I was in the presence of my own bones? Was this an opportunity to reshape my understanding of reincarnation, and to embrace the knowledge that there are moments when we can truly look back through time and see remnants of who we were? I was here. I was looking at what could be me. There could be many versions of me, and we were all in this place at this time. I was overwhelmed at the possibilities, and sank onto a nearby stone bench.
And then, I heard the music. I felt the urge to sing, and to dance with the bones. I was all alone, and so I let go of all my inhibitions and stood up, and began to dance among the bones. The music was a song written by Victoria Marina Tompkins (1992) and I shifted the lyrics to match the setting.
DJJ_1_Catacombes_de_Paris (2)

Bones, come dance with me! Bones, come dance with me! Bones, come dance with me! We’re dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight! Dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight.
Bones dance, know the shaman’s death. Bones dance, hear the raven cry. Bones dance, see the ancestors! They’re dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight! Dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight.
Bones, come fly with me! Bones, come fly with me! Bones come fly with me! We’re flying under Paris under Paris tonight!
Bones dance, know the shaman’s death. Bones dance, hear the raven cry. Bones dance, see the ancestors! They’re dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight! Dancing under Paris, under
Paris tonight.
Bones, come die with me! Bones, come die with me! Bones, come die with me! We’re dying under Paris, under Paris tonight! We’re dying under Paris, under Paris tonight.
Bones dance, know the shaman’s death. Bones dance, hear the raven cry. Bones dance, see the ancestors! They’re dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight! Dancing under Paris, under Paris tonight (Marina Tompkins, 1992; adapted by Brumbaugh 2003).
I have no idea how long I danced and sang my way through the maze. The experience was nothing less than magical. And then, just as suddenly as it had started, it ended. An announcement came over the loudspeaker that it was time to close and we had ten minutes to leave. Again, I felt a sense of panic, because I had no idea where I was, and the corridors in the catacombs stretched over 200 meters. I must admit, I thought that perhaps I would have the chance to spend the night with the bones. But then I became aware of conversations in German and French not far from me, so I followed the voices. There, in a room with a vaulted ceiling stood the three boys who wasted no time bombarding me with questions about my disappearance.
They said that they were following me, and I just vanished. Because they were all raised in homes that encouraged the acceptance of non-rational experiences, they understood that I had stepped out of time. My sister, more resistant to anything that can’t be scientifically proven, had long since gone up to the surface.
More than ten years later, I continue to ponder my experience in the Catacombs. I talked to my older son, Russell, this morning, and found that he had nearly forgotten it. As I began to retell the story, he remembered. I was rather stunned that it hadn’t stuck with him, and a little saddened by it. I guess that the day his mom vanished in the Catacombs of Paris was obviously not at the top of his list of life-altering experiences! Nor was it on the list for my “third” son, Brian, but after several tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, I can understand why. I spoke with my younger son and was not surprised that he remembered. Nicholas reminded me that the three of them were not only separated from me, but from everyone else as well, and for at least five minutes, Brian too had disappeared. It seems that they stepped back through the veil when they entered the chamber at the end of the catacombs.
Sometimes a shared experience such as this one can change the worldview, and perhaps the core belief systems of a person. Sometimes it just fades away. Perhaps the difference between the experiences of Nicholas and myself are different, because of our continued relationship with the magical world and the fact that we share the ability to slip through the mists to the other side. Or maybe it reflects that, although unexpected at that moment in time, it was not something they would consider to be out of the ordinary. If that is the case, then I have done my job.
Before I close, I would like to say a few words about my first shaman teacher, Victoria Marina Tompkins, who wrote the original lyrics to “Bones.” I had the honor to work with Victoria and consider her to be the most significant influence in my work. Victoria’s work at Flight of the Hawk, Center for Contemporary Shamanism, propelled me on to a path that led me to my doctoral work and beyond. The flier for her beginning class was nestled in a bag of Amway product delivered to me by one of her students. The message that I got from that was that it was not only time to clean up my house, but to clean up my life. Victoria’s teachings, circles, vision quests, and her music will be with me always, and I am deeply indebted to her for showing me the way. I will never forget the impact that she has had on my life.
You can visit Victoria’s work at and listen to a sample of the original recording of “Bones,” at The CD, Flight of the Hawk: Shamanic Songs and Ritual Chants is available through her website. (I had the privilege of participating as a vocalist on this CD.)
Martha Brumbaugh, PhD, is an artist, writer, ceremonialist, and shaman whose ground-breaking doctoral dissertation, Out of the Mists: An Organic Inquiry into Sacred Ways of Knowing and the Shaping of Reality(2006) brought lived shamanic experience into the world of academic discourse. She has mentored women and men on spiritual paths since 1988 and is co-founder of The Edge of Lemuria, Crossroads for Healers and Seekers. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing, she can be found petting her two cats, staring out to sea and contemplating the unlimitedness of possibility.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Guest House

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning is a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empt of its furniture
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door, laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When the Unexpected Happens

How many times do we set our sights on a specific outcome only to find our later that there is not only little likelihood that the result will be exactly as we had hoped, but that the outcome that does occur might in fact be a better one than we had envisioned? It is human nature to want to know and this includes knowing what, when, and how something will happen followed by the inevitable why did it happen or why might it happen this way or that?  All in the future and ripe for confusion and fear at worst and avoidance of the moment at best. Our minds seem to wander easily to an unending labyrinth of possibilities many of which may be based on fears, some on hopes, but all on thinking of what may occur which lands us in future trippin' or caught up in the past.

Take for example a young woman who wanted to enroll in the college of her choice. She was bound and determined to study at UC Berkeley and was profoundly disappointed when she was not accepted due to over enrollment. One scenario here is that she then regrouped, applied to another college where she had several major agreements waiting and saw in retrospect that this college was a better fit for her. Another would be that when she was denied entry into her first choice college, she decided that she was going to become a lobbyist for education reform and based on her experience chose a different life plan.

We are only limited by our inability to be in the moment and to accept life as it is. The next time you find yourself in a situation where the unexpected happens, take a breath and remind yourself that all is well.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Living in Gratitude

"Grateful seeing is the ability to look first for what is good and working in our lives without minimizing or denying the hardships or challenges that are also present. Many traditional societies hold the perspective, or worldview, that what has been given to us ultimately ignites growth and strengthens us. Individuals who are viewed as seers in Indigenous societies are highly respected, honored, and valued for their gifts of insight, vision, and grateful seeing. The Maasai of East Africa, for example, call their seers diviners, ones who perceive in the seen and unseen worlds, that which is divine and good. We, too, can learn to be seers- seers of the blessings, learnings, mercies, and protections that are ever present on a daily basis. "

from Living in Gratitude
Angeles Arrien (1940-April 24th, 2014) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eternal Consciousness

Our real self, the soul, is immortal. We may sleep for a little while in that change called death, but we can never be destroyed. We exist, and that existence is eternal. The wave comes to shore, and then goes back to sea; it is not lost. It becomes one with the ocean, or returns again in the form of another wave. The body has come and it will vanish; but the soul essence within it will never cease to exist. Nothing can terminate the eternal consciousness.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last Night as I was Sleeping (Antonio Machado)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt  - marvelous error! -
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of new life,
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that I had a beehive,
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt- marvelous error!-
that a fiery sun was giving light
inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt 
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Art by Daniel Holeman

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Your Daily Emerson

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, 
drink the wild air."

Ralph Waldo Emerson