Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love As A Spiritual Path...

"Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."
~ Leo Tolstoy ~

Pugsley, the newest member of our family, who
will be coming very soon...

Dear Ones,

One day I woke up in love with the whole world and it changed my life forever. I can't say why it happened. Raised Catholic, a student of Buddhism since I was in my twenties, attending many churches to see what I could learn, what felt right, studying Native American spirituality, Goddess and Earth Based paths, being ordained an interfaith minister in the Christian church, and finding that even with all of that, all paths, religions and promises, as much as I wanted to serve, to live a contemplative life and dedicate myself to helping others, no building or tenets of any faith seemed to fit. I wanted Direct Communion with God. And so it would go, with me finally deciding that my "church" was right here, in the garden, with the many animals that I rescue who also rescue me, caring for the wild animals outside my cottage and in my woods, and this summer and fall I ventured out to go through the 3 attunements to become a Reiki Master and then took the Shamballa training to become a Master Healer in the Shamballa method. Still, tending my garden, walking in nature, sleeping with 3 small pugs surrounding me, their tender little faces moving me so deeply I would sometimes get tears in my eyes, I knew that life itself would provide me with everything that I needed to walk the path of faith in my own way. I knew that God would approve, and so I have continued on.

It has been my privilege to share my life with several parrots who came to me in my days of running a non-profit shelter for disabled and unwanted parrots. The last few years I have dedicated my life to pug rescue, and I have adopted 7 to date with the 8th on his way. I take in the elderly, disabled, or badly abused little ones who need much love, patience, and care, and last year I lost 3 of them, the elderly ones. I have since adopted more.

My last rescue, wee little Penny, such a tiny girl, was left outside for a year, her eyes crusted over leaving her 90% blind, she had no hair and her skin was a mess, and she had severe urinary tract infection. The foster mother and vet got her in good shape and when she came to me I knew that she would need special care the rest of her life. My eldest, my heart pug, Sampson, came to me 4 years ago after being so badly abused and left alone so much, often without food for days at a time, and then adopted out and returned twice to the rescue so that he was terrified, came to me and clung to me like a limpet on a rock. They said, "He has abandonment issues." I said, "That's okay, so do I," and we have been constant companions ever since. Two year old puppy Tanner was a stray and nearly run down by a car when he was rescued and he came to save both Sam and I when we lost two pugs, my beloved Big Dog Moe, a lab-doby mix we had adopted from the Humane Society as a little puppy and who was, at his death, 18 1/2, 3 weeks before sweet Harvey pug died leaving Sam and I alone. 4 beloved elderly animal companions lost in less than a year. Sam nearly grieved himself to death, and so Tanner quickly became part of our family. He lifted our spirits no end and Sam and Tanner bonded so deeply that often the two of them sleep curled around each other at night. It is a joyous thing to see two small boys happy and secure. And now comes little Pugsley.

I will never understand people that abuse innocent little animals, but Pugsley was adopted, crated ten hours a day, and then hit so frequently that he came back to the rescue so terrified of everything he was almost inconsolable. He went to an amazingly wonderful foster mother, and now is on his way to me since I also work with the little ones who have been hurt and are afraid. Pugsley has been put on Prozac, he can't bear being left alone and will become so terrified he will likely wet himself and go to pieces, and he has to wear a "thunder shirt" to calm him down when he gets really upset. To any of you who have heard of the brilliant autistic woman, Temple Grandin, and her "squeeze machine," the thundershirt was based on that. It velcros snugly around the little one and makes them feel safe. When he becomes very nervous and afraid he must wear the thunder shirt and it helps calm him down. He lost several teeth trying to chew his way out of the crate, and needs to be held and cuddled and reassured a lot to know that he is loved and okay. He is coming to the right home for that.

We live in a society where self-love, not selfishness but pure, unadulterated, innocent love, is almost non-existent and it has been the downfall of great numbers of people around the world. The Dalai Lama said, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." He also said, "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." I don't use the word religion any more, not about my own path in this world. I am a deeply spiritual woman who defines my walk in this world as one of love, compassion, and kindness. When Pugsley

I find that more and more it's the little things that matter most.Borderline agoraphobic, and sometimes full out agoraphobic, I learned that there was much that I could give from my own little corner of the world. My life here, centered in meditation, prayer, healing work, caring for the little ones, and being mindful of the small things in life, is the basis for my life and all of the writing that I do, and in this way I try to reach out in the world and say to people, "You are loved, you are truly loved. You need not live life as the world expects, live the life that you have and find the gifts therein. Celebrate what you can do, do not denigrate yourself for what you feel that should do but cannot. There is no one right way, there are countless ways to be of service in the world. I share with you how I have learned to live my life, not so that you feel you have to live this way, but so you can see that you, too, can live your own life, your own way, and be a blessing to the world, and find fulfillment and joy right where you are, right as you are. You are beautiful to me. I don't need to see you to know that. I feel the beating of your heart from this chair that I am sitting in. I close my eyes and say a prayer for you and ask that even in this one brief moment you know that someone, somewhere in the world, treasures you, and wishes you well. Start from there. Look in the mirror and say 'I love you.' You may feel uneasy at first and like it is a silly exercise, but if you do it every time you pass a mirror, with as much tenderness as you can muster, somewhere along the line you will believe it. Say to yourself, 'I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you,' and as you say it say it not just to yourself but to everyone and everything around you. Every natural thing on this earth is a living being. A rock, a crystal, a flower, a blade of grass, a spider, the wild bird at the feeder. Your elderly neighbor, a little child passing by, the lady at the checkout counter at the grocery store who has been on her feet all day and is tired but still serves you with a smile. Remember to say thank you. Say something kind to her. That is love."

The more you do this in your life, the more that you find your own cup filling up, brimming over, with so much love to give you can't help but let it spill out into the world. What can you do? How can you spread this love? It doesn't take much, or it can take a great deal, whatever you have to give. Imagine if everyone on this earth did one bit of loving-kindness, each and every day, what a world we would be living in.

Can you go a whole day without complaining about anything or making one negative statement? Try it. It's not as easy as you think. Don't beat yourself up if you do it, just start over again from where you are. And then do it the next day and I'll bet you'll go longer. And then make it a practice. It will change your life.

If you are walking down the street smile at a stranger. Think gently, "I love you." Don't say it out loud. A genuine smile can say it all and change the course of that person's day. Can you move through  your day and smile, mindfully and with love, at 5 people that you would normally pass by? Do it today.

Can you pick one neighbor in your neighborhood and do a kindness for them? A bouquet of flowers from your garden, or fresh vegetables if you grow them. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor or help a child who has fallen down. Adopt an animal companion if you are able or show the ones in your very own home some extra loving care. Water your plants and say, "Thank you for growing." Fill feeders outside for the wild birds and put fresh water in a big old pot if you don't have a bird bath. Take a notebook and write down as many things that you have to be grateful for as you possibly can. Shoot for twenty-five. Like the White Queen in Alice Through The Looking Glass don't get out of bed until you believe "six impossible things before breakfast." Now write them down. Now figure out how to do them. Now feel the joy of even trying. Feel the smile come across your face. Feel that warmth welling up inside. Sit for a minute and just feel it. That is love. Fall in love with yourself, with everyone and everything around you, with the whole world.

When you feel downtrodden and put upon think of ways that you might help another. That small act creates miracles. Feel your heart opening up. Feel your very cells changing shape and form. You are shedding old layers, of blame, of guilt, of shame, of grief, of pain and all the ways of living and being that no longer serve you. Cross a line in the sand and step over it. Leave all of those things behind. Walk into the world seeing it with new eyes, seeing it for the very first time unburdened by your past, not worrying about your future, living in the now, living in this moment, in the most trying times there is something good in the world around you. Hold onto that, and say thank you. Take another step. You have made it through.

Nothing is too small. Start something that is tiny, go from there. I have saved the tiniest of parrots abandoned by their mother. Nothing has brought me greater joy.

Love everything. Start small. Love everyone, start where you are and let it fan out to the world. Know that I love you, and that I mean that with my whole being. You are treasured, just as you are. Now treasure and love yourself. It will be the most important thing you have ever done. You can't give from an empty well. Fill your own and then let it spill over into the world. Is there anything more important that you can do?

Fondly, and with a full heart...


Catherine said...

What beautiful, wise and inspiring words. Thank you, Blessings, Catherine

avonrepbarb said...

Maitri, what wonderful words. I got teary-eyed reading your blog and I think I felt my heart grow (kind of like the Grinch, LOL)!

Anyway, I'll be following...keep inspiring.

With a little more love in my heart,


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