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May 2018 Musings

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. — Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It seems that Inspiration behaves much like Happiness. Actively pursued, it remains elusive. But if one is willing to be patient, it almost always reveals itself. In the stillness of meditation, while communing with a pine tree or in the expanded awareness of group discussions, it quietly signals its appearance. Over time, one becomes familiar with its call signature. Sometimes it’s a complete symphony that simply requires transcribing. Other times, it’s a single note with an invitation to pursue the thread of a melody. On a few occasions, there is an overture with a dissonant chord, an indication that the instrument requires tuning (some personal karmic knot needs untying) before the coda is revealed. In whatever form Inspiration arrives, writing the score is an exquisite process. Life calls and the instrument responds. In some magical way, whatever the encounter entails, polishing a sentence, wrestling for clarity, delighting in an insight, the faculty to “hear” Life as it is and the willingness to be played is continually enhanced.  
Musings articles can gestate for weeks on end or be dashed off in an afternoon. Life decides the length of the duet. But so far Inspiration seems to respect deadlines and schedules of delivery!
Until now.
Inspiration did not show up for April. On the afternoon of April 30, despite riding a tidal wave of practice insights all month, there is no Music. What now?
Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.
— Rumi
Someone at the Monastery recently said that the portal to transformation is the moment. What is going on now? What’s here?
Nothing. No inspiration. No article. Emptiness.
“Isn’t the knowledge of Emptiness blessed?” Inspiration whispers.
And the brass brand arrives with a flourish of trumpets.  
A day “late” according to conditioned mind. But the heart is busy dancing to the tuba.
What is the song?
At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,
a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden
within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,
spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it's not given us
to see the soul.
— Rumi
What hubris concludes: “I” can’t hear it, so there is no music. A limited instrument perhaps? One that is conditioned only to pick up a narrow range of frequencies, to recognize the song of forms but not the symphony of Emptiness? Isn’t spiritual practice the alchemy that transforms the finite experience of “me” into the Infinite experience of All? On every occasion where there is no expected “outcome,” no information to make a decision, no insight when we are confused, no inspiration when the article is due, perhaps Life is compassionately inviting a re-calibration of capacity to a hitherto unregistered octave of Music?
The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty.
— Rumi
In the practice of ever-expanding faith, devotion is a key ingredient. What if to hear the music, we must, in all circumstances, never lose faith that the Music is? If our practice is to choose the Unconditional unconditionally, isn’t a crisis of faith a gift from Life to practice expanding faith? When I don’t hear the Music, I train to recognize an opportunity to tune the instrument so that I can hear the Song.
The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy
and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender
and a fine love, together.
— Rumi
Ego rails at the nature of the “way of transformation.” But lovers of Music learn to surrender the limitation of “me” to participate in the Orchestra of Life. And then…
what sweet music…


The Rumi quotes are from the poem: "The Song of the Reed."