Optical Delusion

Lee gave me some words of solace on my possum predicament. It is a quote from Albert Einstein which he wrote in a letter dated February 12, 1950.

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

Synchronistically, my birthday happens to be on February 12.

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

Thanks, Lee: Days Two Hundred Sixty-Three - Two Hundred Sixty-Five

Unrelated (or is it?) synchronicity: There's a novel I've been working on for the past, say, fifteen years. I know. In my novel, the heroine's name is Lee.

Lucky for me, I was able to meet up with Lee yesterday. Lee (the non-fictional version) is my friend and supporter in all things meditation. This encompasses a lot.

The process Lee teaches works well for me since it is simple and flexible. By flexible, I mean there is no way to fail. As Lee likes to say, she has been doing this for forty years, but every time she sits down to meditate, it is a new beginning. The beginning, or as I like to call it pre-failure, is the place of perfection. As a writer, it is the place where the idea is still in my head, there are no words on paper, and all is lovely possibility. As a meditator, it is the place of the blank and the vast. Erase everything and begin again.

When we got together yesterday, as usual, Lee had insight into my meditative journey. She is a reader of my blog and noticed that in my last post, I wrote about my natural affinity for the Sanskrit words Sat, Chit, Ananda. (Deepak Chopra translated this as existence, consciousness, and bliss.)   I loved the way the words sounded and for some reason the phrase stuck in my head. Sat, Chit, Ananda became a natural mantra for me.

Lee knows that my usual mantra is "Who am I?" I use these words to coax away my thoughts. The question comes from other discussions I've had with Lee. She has encouraged me to seek an answer beyond the superficial. Yes, I am wife, mother, daughter, lawyer, teacher, widow, writer. But beyond those trappings, who am I? And so, I have said the Who am I mantra for many months.

Lee is not a believer in coincidence. How powerful to ascribe intentionality. How powerful to observe the obvious.

"You asked, Lori. Who am I. Now, you have your answer."

Fit It In: Days Nineteen and Twenty

Day Nineteen: With half an hour to spare before an appointment, I squeezed in the meditation. I figured I only needed twenty minutes, right? Plenty of time. The dog did not cooperate. He whined and scratched at the closed door until I let him in. He played with his ball and was intrigued by my stillness. He was compelled to investigate. I finally put him out, closed the door on him, and tried to resume from where I had left off. This was actually more successful than you might think. I was at the point in the process where I had relaxed my body and was ready to begin to meditate. After the disruption, I was easily able to resume the mode and rather quickly begin to coax my mind's eye toward my heart. The problem was that the running commentary in my head was that I would now be late for my appointment. When I opened my eyes to check whether or not my twenty minutes was up, it was five minutes early. I resumed. Checked again. Still two minutes to go. In my last session with Lee, she emphasized the importance of a kind of cool down period after meditation. She advised sitting for a few minutes after meditating, gazing at the floor, and letting your senses slowly get used to being back in focus. But since I was worried about being late for my appointment, I checked back in very quickly.

Day Twenty: was a very good day. The student I tutor at a charter school in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District got 100% on his reading test on Kafka's Metamorphosis, the book we read together over the past couple of months. This morning I woke up with an epiphany about the tutoring program. It all became very clear. Channels are open and firing, at least for the moment.

My twenty minutes took place on the porch of my parents' Florida condo. It's an interesting weather day here, storming one minute, sunny the next. Wind and slanty sheets of rain made it more practical to be inside, but the porch was the only quiet private place. The predominant sound was the rush of water through a drain pipe, very loud and distinctive, not at all the peaceful sound of rain drops. Not exactly irritating, but not relaxing either.