Leaves Falling: The Beauty of Disillusion

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The following is a version of an article I wrote for Conscious Life News

 
Dogma of Fall Leaves

I wish I knew the beauty of leaves falling.

To whom are we beautiful when we go?

~David Ignato


And to whom are we beautiful as we go? This poem seems to point to the fact that even in our failing, there is a part of creation and therefore a part of ourselves that can grant a magnificence to any loss.

A beautiful concept. A bittersweet truth. Perhaps this is why Autumn is so colorful: it is the opulent  funeral procession of the death of so much. It is the rush of fireworks before the quiet stillness of winter.


Shiva Nataraj

Shiva

Many of the Hindu statues tell stories and offers insight which transcends dogma. The Shiva Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva, is a storytelling icon depicting Shiva, the creator of the universe, and illustrates his five acts which, in part, give understanding of death and dissolution. Through understanding the Shiva Nataraj, we too might understand "the beauty of leaves falling" as penned by poet David Ignato.

This statue depicts a person with several arms holding different tools, his hair on fire, body wreathed in flames, standing on an impish creature with one leg, and his other leg in motion.

Creation

In his first hand, Shiva holds a drum putting everything into motion through vibration. It's true that everything from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy, even the Universe itself, is in constant motion. As a musician, I love the idea of DJ Shiva laying down the backbeat that sets the Universe into motion. This represents the birth and spring in our lives and the events and circumstances therein.

Sustaining

His next hand holds a mudra or a gesture called the abhaya mudra. This Mudra is the power of sustaining. It's like Shiva is saying, "I've built this, now I'm supporting and nourishing it." For me this represents summer time when everything is in full bloom and thriving. It's also a reminder to be present, especially to our tendency to get attached to things when they are going well, or looking over our shoulder for the other shoe to drop. If possible be right in the moment as things are. The subtle message here is that things are in flux and don't get either attached or resist what's inevitably in flux.

Death and Disillusion

In his third hand, Shiva is holding a flame suggesting not to get too attached because just as soon as he will give birth to and sustain something, he'll also burn it down. This flame reminds you that not only does everything has a life cycle, but that even as things are changing and dying they do so as part of a perfect cycle. Shiva has no remorse about any of this, he simply stares straight ahead with a little grin as if to say, "This is what death looks like," meanwhile the beautiful fall colors are exploding in their passing.

Concealment

So, when you're at your lowest point, your house has just been razed to the ground and you're really hoping Shiva will give you a helping hand, he does just the opposite. His fourth arm is concealing his heart. At the moment when we are humbled and look to a higher power at our low points he covers his arm to say, "You don't learn heart of God for free." Sometimes this feels like just when you couldn't get any lower, you in fact do.

This lowest point is what Shiva is standing on, a little demon thing called the apasmara and represents the unrealized, naive or innocent part of ourselves. Shiva is standing on this representation of a part of ourselves, not in any way to be mean or spiteful, but rather as a way of literally taking a stand for our higher selves.


Revelation

Revelation Scott Moore Yoga

And once the old self has fully been put asunder, with the only limb left, Shiva last leg is swinging upward to invite you back into the a new and elevated cycle of new birth, sustainment, death and dissolution, concealment and revelation. Here is where everything is revealed and we continue to ride the circle in a spiral of evolution and growth. After such revolutions, there is no going back. And after several times around one might begin to start to expect the different cycles as they appear.

With the full picture in mind, whenever we encounter death, change, or dissolution we can resist it less and perhaps see if for what it is, one of the beautiful steps on our way to our full understanding being.

Mary Oliver writes about learning to accept death and loss in her poem, Maker of All Things, Even Healings. I love the title of the poem because it suggests that the healing, the bringing back to life for a fuller measure of life as in the Dancing Shiva, comes only after accepting death which she does so humbly.

All night

under the pines

the fox

moves through the darkness

with a mouthful of teeth

and a reputation for death

which it deserves.

In the spicy

villages of the mice

he is famous,

his nose

in the grass

is like an earthquake,

his feet

on the path

is a message so absolute

that the mouse, hearing it,

makes himself

as small as he can

as he sits silent

or, trembling, goes on

hunting among the grasses

for the ripe seeds.



Maker of All Things,

including appetite,

including stealth,

including the fear that makes

all of us, sometime or other,

flee for the sake

of our small and precious lives,

let me abide in your shadow--

let me hold on

to the edge of your robe

as you determine

what you must let be lost

and what will be saved.




As we celebrate the panoply of fall colors, may we, too, remember the beauty of leaves falling, the beauty and magnificence of this amazing dance in which we are all twirling, living and dying.

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Psyche and Eros: Knowing The Art of Love

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The story continues . . .  If you didn't read the first part of the story, click here.

Four Impossible Tasks

Psyche has had a tasted love and wants nothing more than to be back with Eros. Tragically, she finds herself exactly where she was previously— destitute on the bleak shores of the ocean. But this time it's different. This time she's willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Eros. No longer will she be passive and just allow things to happen for her.

As she is pleading to the gods for help, one god appears, Aphrodite, Eros' mother and says, "Okay, pretty thing. If you are serious about getting back to see my son again, you must accomplish four tasks." Psyche says that she is willing to do anything. And I don't know if you've really ever studied Greek gods but for most of them, benevolence isn't their thing. Aphrodite either wants to punish Psyche, watch her suffer or both. Or maybe Aphrodite can use this Psyche's energy in her desperate condition to get something she wants . . . from the underworld.

Sorting The Seeds of Love

 Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

First, Aphrodite leads Psyche to a door and says that in this room is some seeds and that for her first task if she is to see Eros, she must sort this pile of different seeds into their respective piles and it must be done by morning time. She opens the door and in this room is an enormous pile of seeds taller than her. Aphrodite smugly closes the door and leaves Psyche to her task. Psyche wants nothing more than to be with Eros but this task is impossible. She desperately tries for a while to sort seeds the best she can but eventually she is overcome with grief and fatigue and falls into a deep sleep. During her sleep an army of ants comes in, sees the task at hand and organize themselves to meticulously and thoroughly sort all of the seeds so that in the morning time when Aphrodite throws open the door, much to both of their amazement, all of the seeds are sorted and organized. Psyche is mute in astonishment. Aphrodite isn't amused but merely points to the next task.

Fiery Fleece

Next, Aphrodite instructs Psyche that she must gather some of the golden fleece of some rams that live in a far-off field. Problem is, that these rams breath fire and will singe you to a crisp if the so much as lay eyes on you. Desperate to find her way back to Eros, Psyche makes her way to the field and is hiding in the reeds. She quickly realizes how impossible it will be to gather the fleece of these incendiary animals before she gets turned into a toasted marshmallow. And just before she turns back in defeat, she hears the wind blow through the reeds and whisper to her that if she waits until the sun sets and the rams retire, she can find the bushes near where the rams like to feed where much of their fleece has rubbed off and she can gather it without the threat of getting burnt to a crisp. This she does and again returns, the impossible task done much to the disappointment of Aphrodite.

 Styx Water

 Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Her third task is to gather a goblet of water from the river Styx. She arrives at the gates of the underworld and in strange fashion, the river is raging high above her in the air. There is no way she is going to be able to fill her goblet until an eagle comes down, grabs her cup in his talons, and flies up and fills the cup for her. Aphrodite? Unimpressed.

The Irresistible Lure of Beauty

Persephone's box.jpg

For Psyche's final and ultimate task, she must go all the way through the underworld and find the beautiful Persephone, who has a box with a special ointment that she must bring back to Aphrodite, ointment that will make her more beautiful than any other god. Psyche arrives at the river Styx, is once again overcome with how to even start this journey. As she is contemplating this impossible task of going all the way through hell with its obstacles, dangers, and depths, a tower speaks to her and gives her some crucial instructions. It says that she must first gather some money to pay the boatman to carry across the river Styx, that she must bring with her some sweet treats to give to the animals along the way so they don't eat her, and that no matter what, she must resist all requests made to her for help. The money and sweets aren't a big deal. She accomplishes this without a problem. What's hard for her is when she comes across a man whose donkey has dropped most of its load and who pleads for help. Next some women who look like her mother and grandmother plead for help with their task of weaving. This one hits hard because it is so much like home, remember this is what she did when she wasn't out dating like her friends? Lastly, a dying man pleads to her for help and she must resist trying to help even the dying man. At long last, she meets Persephone who gives her the box of the precious ointment.

It's done. Psyche has completed her tasks. All she needs to do is return the precious ointment to Aphrodite and she will win back her Eros. But instead of rushing straight to Aphrodite, she paused a moment and looked at the box and thought, "Why should Aphrodite get all this good stuff?" And so her curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box. As she opened the box she looked in and never had she seen anything so white, so glimmering, and attractive. Her hand reached uncontrollably into the box and touched the divine contents and because this was stuff meant only for the gods, her mortal body was overcome and she collapsed dead on the spot.

Love Returns

psych and Eros.gif

Again, in Psyche's most desperate hour, the one and only Eros comes swooping down, sees the lifeless Psyche is pierced with love for her and in proper mythic fashion, bends down to give her the most divine, the most loving, the most beautiful kiss that has ever been. Maybe it was Divine Love's purpose (read Eros), maybe it was because Psyche had traveled all the way through hell for true love, or maybe it was the divine ointment in the box, but no sooner did their lips touch than did Psyche gain a rosiness back into her cheeks. Life started to flood back through her veins and soon her eyes fluttered open and she gazed upon her true love, Eros. But this time the gaze was different. To great astonishment, she realized that not only was alive again, but that she was seeing her one and only Eros without vanishing or being cast away, something very drastic had changed. Indeed she had been turned into a god herself and with this divine boon, she and Eros could forever live in love's bliss. At last, Psyche was reborn yet reborn into something much greater than she had ever imagined possible.

What Does This Myth Reveal about You?

The Oracle knew what she was doing when she sent Psyche out to die. The old part of her that wasn't her real, true self needed to die in order to finally become what was possible for her to be. She was more than someone who would marry the Frozen Greek Yogurt geek! She was worthy of the very Eros himself. At this point in the story, she abandons the passive realm of allowing things to simply happen for her and decides to make things happen for herself. Yet, despite her effort, she is met over and over again with impossible tasks. When you are ready to act, expect to be met with the impossible. But don't give up!

 

At first when she is faced with the task of sorting the seeds, she's overcome and falls asleep. Her part of her that was rational, the doer, became overloaded and she conked out. In her sleep, the ants come and did all the work. This represents allowing the tireless work of the subconscious, the dream world or image world to work its magic. And indeed many of life's problems can't be solved in the current rational mindset. We must open up to some unimagined creative force lying within us. This is a time to listen to our dreams, to pay attention to omens, to change our efforts from physical to the trust in the ethereal.

 

When Psyche goes and attempts to gather the golden fleece from the fire-breathing rams, she listens to the wisdom of nature for the most simple, and natural solution. This wasn't rocket science. It was good old, natural, common sense.

 

The eagle flying to fill her cup with water from the river Styx represents a messenger from the divine. Birds often represent that link between heaven and earth. Maybe we further our tasks by not only listening to our dreams and by listening to nature, but also find a mode to tap into our Divine nature through meditation, prayer, or scripture, in whatever form speaks to you.

 

Now, what about the tower? It's pretty strange that the human-made structure of a tower speaks to her and gives her such practical advice. Well, sometimes we need to rely on those things that are already built, already developed, that are solid real and practical. It could be we need to consult a therapist or medication, or do something like go to the unemployment office-whatever. Sometimes we need to use the help of the system or structure that is produced by human beings. The Tower gave some practical advice to Psyche like bringing money and treats to help the passage, but also it gave some difficult advice to avoid helping other people. In this instance, it was a time where she needed to use all her resources to help herself and not fall into that trap of putting others first. Her own ultimate evolution had to be her main concern. Sometimes we identify with being the helper when we need to be helped or just put all of our efforts toward our own rebirth. There is nothing wrong with this and to do otherwise is perhaps an offense to our greatest Divine purpose during times in our lives when we are called to give birth to this new self. And of course, sometimes, we have to go through hell in order to do so. But like in the end of this story we will find ourselves coming through the other side, not only reborn but reborn into a version of ourselves we never imagined with wisdom beyond our compression. Truly we will come to KNOW THYSELF.

 

Socrates is the father of western philosophy and is known by seeking wisdom through inquiring. This method of searching for knowledge by asking questions is known as the Socratic Method.

Socrates said that the one thing really worth knowing is the art of love. And just like Socrates, maybe, through understanding how myths like that of Psyche and Eros might apply to our own lives, we too might come to really KNOW, the the art of love.

How does your life play out like a Greek myth? Please comment below. And share this post! Thanks!

For these articles I drew upon a great book by William Bridges' called, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, particularly the Epilogue. For more information about this subject, I'd suggest reading it.

Guided Meditations for Sleep

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods Who Are Dying to Live Part 1.

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods

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Greek Gods

It is said that long, long ago, in mythic times, there was a woman named Psyche who was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. She was a Greek God without knowing it. In fact, she was so beautiful that all the eligible men thought her out of their league so she never got asked out. Here's Psyche, the most gorgeous woman in the land, staying home on Saturday night and helping her mom weave instead of partying with her sisters and friends who were hanging with the fine fellas.

Time went on and Psyche's parents began to get worried, all of Psyche's friends were getting married and having families and here's Psyche, as beautiful and sweet and smart as could be but without anyone to share her life with. And it wasn't like she wasn't trying. She'd go out and try to strike up a conversation with the man down at the Frozen Greek Yogurt shop but he would always turn his head away, all bashful like, and eventually start talking to some of the lesser ladies. This happened time and time again much to Psyche's disappointment.

So, Psyche's parents decided to stage an intervention. They decided to go to the great Oracle at Delphi and ask her what to do about their oddly destitute daughter. And with clarity and wisdom, greater than Psyche's parents could understand at the moment, the Oracle told them that they were to take Psyche out to the bleak and craggy cliffs along the shore and leave here there to die. Perplexed and disturbed but faithful, Psyche's parents did just that.

 Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Revelations

Now Psyche, bewildered and forsaken, resigned herself to her fate as she lay on the rocks ready to die. She knew that nobody would ever love her and that the only fate for her was death. In this desperate condition, she fell asleep while waiting for the inevitable messenger of death and when she was sleeping, she was visited by a god, but not the one she was expecting. Instead the great god Eros came down and discovered her there distraught and ready to die. He fell in love with her upon first sight, as is want to happen with Greek gods, and asked his friend, the West Wind, to carry her to his palace.

 Photo cred: wallsave.com

Photo cred: wallsave.com

Psyche awoke in Eros's palace. It was dark and even in the shadows, she could sense its opulence and majesty. She didn't know where she was or how she got there. Assuming she had died, she was perplexed because this wasn't what she had understood the underworld was supposed to look like. Where was the river of Styx, where was that terrible underground path winding downward, where was Hades, the god of the underworld?

Soon a figure appeared in the darkness. Though Psyche could not see his face, as he spoke to her she could sense his gentle and kind nature. He explained that he was Eros, that he loved her, and that she was in his palace, and could live there the rest of her days. He told her that she could have whatever her desire fancied so long that she was never to see his face; therefore, he would only meet her in the darkness. Eros then vanished. Finally, her desires to be in love had miraculously been fulfilled.

And so during her days she was treated to scented baths, servants, delicious food and drink, private yoga classes, and anything else she could possibly want. Each night Eros would visit her. Sometimes they would make love, sometimes they would eat together, but they would always fall asleep together.

Disruption in Paradise

 Photo Cred: mythman.com

Photo Cred: mythman.com

However, each time Psyche awoke in the morning, Eros was never there. Psyche had never seen Eros's face, for that was the agreement. Well, Psyche became lonely and one night as Psyche and Eros were enjoying a little pillow talk, she asked him in the darkness if she could have her sisters visit her here in the palace. At first, Eros was adamantly opposed to the idea but he loved Psyche and wanted her to be happy so eventually he relented and allowed her to summon her sisters for a visit.

Psyche's sisters came and fell in love with the place. They loved the palace, the servants, and all the amenities.  Psyche's sisters were perplexed that she had never seen her lover, Eros. The more questions they asked about him the more she realized that she really didn't know much about him at all. "How can you be sure that he's not some monster, some beast who is holding you captive here in this place?" they asked.

This planted a gnawing seed of doubt and curiosity in Psyche's mind. So, later that night after her sisters left, and Eros came for his nightly visit, she lay there in the darkness and waited for Eros to fall asleep. She crept out of bed, grabbed a candle, lit it, and fisted a knife incase indeed he was a monster whereupon she planned to kill him. She crept back to where Eros lay sleeping and as the first ray of light shone upon Eros's face, a shockwave of astonishment sent surged through Psyche's entire body. Never had she seen anyone as beautiful as Eros. Surely he must be a god, she thought. She shivered as she looked at his beauty and the movement caused a drop of wax to drop from her candle and land on Eros's shoulder waking him. When he realized what she had done, he lamented that she had broken the rule and that as a mortal she was bound to leave the palace and never return. And in a flash the West Wind carried her back to that desolate craggy shore where Eros had first laid eyes upon her.

The story will be continued . . .

Life Lessons

So, like many of us, there were aspects of Psyche's life that didn't seem to be working well. That old life needed to face a sort of death in order for a rebirth to happen. It meant the end of her old life as she knew it. And though her new life with Eros was something new and exciting, it wasn't without sacrifices.

Often times when life isn't working, maybe it's an old relationship or job or belief system that doesn't bring us alive anymore, that old life has to suffer a death. In this myth, the Oracle represents our deep inner-wisdom that prevails over any conscious or rational thought. This wisdom can also be facilitated by a teacher or mentor who might be able to see clearly. The Oracle could also represent the mysterious circumstances of life that sometimes simply work themselves out in a way that end up being perfect for us in the long run.

And even though Psyche's new life seemed perfect in some ways, Psyche had the wisdom to betray the old, rigid beliefs, value systems and agreements, the dogma of her decision with Eros which kept her captive in a realm that she thought would make her happy but was itself a limiting paradigm. Something told Psyche that this wasn't the end of her evolution, that some bigger step needed to occur even though it probably wasn't a conscious decision. In this first part of the story there is little or no effort for any of these decisions, things simply happened and appeared for her.

What are the parts of your life that need to die? Old beliefs about place, self, work, family sometimes need to die in order to find a new version of ourselves. I don't know what I feel about reincarnation, but I certainly feel like I've lived several lives within this life. I'm someone very different than even five years ago. Can you resonate with that? What are the ways that your life seems to have changed? Have you experienced any sort of death re birth, maybe without very much effort on your part? What are the old agreements and beliefs you need to let go of in order to truly embrace this new life for yourself.

Join me next week as Psyche starts to make some very conscious decisions. . .

Scott

Beach Paradise Visualization.jpeg