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Grooming the Interface

A poem

After ten years of disastrous problems with my health (and sometimes it seemed like everything else too), I got fed up with how badly my life seemed to be going, and I decided to find something serious to do about it. I found myself writing a poem.

As often happens for me, writing showed the direction I needed to go, and since then I've been working on a visualization of the interface between the me inside this skin, and the me out there in the rest of the universe.

A meditation

I see the whole as a dance of energy: light and dark, sound and silence, matter and spirit; patterns swirling and reforming to create and recreate the turning world.

I see my interface as a game I am playing, with myself as both dancer and the dance. As a fierce protective demon composed of the energy of all my angers, refined and condensed to its appropriate purpose. Who laughs great bellylaughs, growls with grizzly fearful threatening coutenance, and howls in holy glee in order to channel so much energy.

As a living silver film, turning refractive reflective in constantly changing moiré patterns, rebounding some energies back, filtering or transforming others.As a pink rose, petals folded delicately around me in the heart of it, nourishing me with a pink glow of life and love, pleasure and ease.

As creative energy, as an omni-mutual respect, as wisdom....


Since I have been practicing this meditation, I have in fact had some nourishment come to me that I sorely needed: electronic communication, for example, has noticeably eased the former feeling of isolation & loneliness resulting from my retreat from social situations where I was exposed to chemicals that make me sick. Another example: Before it was hard to find young people to help me with the heavy parts of gardening, and now I've been finding helpers more easily — who are interested in the work. (I think they know I think of them as my apprentices, though I've not used that word to them.)

[1 July 1999: more results; see my essay "Rock Meditations."]

The inspiration

One thing that inspired me to do this was a comment Suzette Haden Elgin made in her Linguistics & Science Fiction newsletter (Jan/Feb 98, p. 8):

"Doctors are in a serious bind with the literature on the effectiveness of prayer as healing agent, frankly. Larry Dossey [link added] is correct when he writes that if comparable studies and results were available for a new drug, medpros would risk charges of malpractice if they failed to use it when appropriate. The major thing holding back such actions at the moment (other than the traditional cultural subservience to doctors) is a matter of social class. Doctors and scientists are upper class by definition; 'faith healers' and those who rely on them absolutely are not; and class distinctions of that sort are powerful repressive mechanisms. And then there is the problem of *control* of prayer as a healing agent; no one has any idea how such things as 'size and strength of dose' could be standardized and controlled."

That got me thinking about how I could tap that resource, without being a theist. But another part of my inspiration comes from learning the flip side of the more-often referred to concept of anatta, no-self: the concept of self as full... full of the whole universe — one aspect of paticca samuppada, dependent co-arising.

Paticca Samuppada

This visualization is a shamanistic approach. Not one that comes specifically from the Tibetan tradition, but one that came to me as a result of everything I have learned, from everywhere. I used to do this kind of thing more often, with less success. I had no confidence in the interface, the interbeing, the interdependent web. Grokking paticca samuppada, realizing it meant the dependent co-arising of self and world, has made an important change for me.

Of course when you start something like this, you just keep going deeper with it. I have had some crises, showing me what I need to work on next. One that came crashing down this week resulted from my stubborn rebellion against my limits. I identified with some addictions last week, and as a result had two back-to-back attacks of migraine-plus-digestive-shutdown. The second was one of the worst I've ever had: for two days I lay on my back, trying to be mindful of pain, nausea, self-blame, fear of my addictions, and depression. (One of the addictions was to email; I stayed up far too late writing the folks I correspond with, who have grown so important to me. Oops. )

I can see there's more grooming that interface to be done

© Copyright Catherine Holmes Clark 1998. Last updated 16 August 1998