Saturday, November 13, 2010


The Tibetan Buddhists say that the purpose of meditation is to 'be ourselves'.  Self is a mystery.  Be that as it may, the task is for me to arrive at the fullness of who I am.

As modern people we get a very small view of ourselves and proceed to live in our own self-imposed small world.  The path of meditation leads me to a universe largely unknown to myself, where my personhood can be seen as vast, empty, and boundless.  There is a depth of being and a brightness of mind that surpasses all boundaries.  The discovery of that (experientially) doesn't make living in the world impossible but plausible.  I do not have to cram life into my small thinking--of expectations and judgments.

With this kind of endless awareness and unconditional viewpoint, I have stumbled into the discovery of the 'joyful mind.'  This precious human life becomes a revelation--The gift of myself arrives through meditation (both on and off the cushion).  Mindfully being with the notion of an unlimited self allows me to see where I hold back.  Where I do not want to open.

When I am willing to let go of 'who I thought I was',  I find myself invited into the moment of letting go.  When I am willing to die to self (letting go of all preconceived notions of me) something very different begins to unfold.  As the process continues and deepens, my fabricated sense of self, can be seen as something I hold on to.  I come face to face with my fears and concepts of myself (that are not working) and am, again, invited to let go.

There is a definite gritty nature to this journey; this journey no different from any of the ancient mystery schools and religions.  For me, this meditative path is one of the places in the present culture where this journey of what I can be: is real.  This journey, ever unfolding, is well worth the ride.

Gracie Garp

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Divine Ones....

"Many people hear voices when no one is there.  Some of them are called 'mad' and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day.  Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.
                                                                                                                                    --Meg Chittenden

My area of professional expertise is working with individuals who hear voices...some people like to call it schizophrenia.  I have always called them: The Divine Ones.
I have never been one who works with a 'diagnosis', psychiatric or otherwise.  I prefer, upon first meeting a client, to not ask them 'what they have' but 'who they are.
I am proud to say that I have published articles on my own style of 'treatment' when it comes to working with individuals in 'extreme states of mind.'
Mostly, I have found acceptance and for some, great relief, that I treat (psychotherapeutically), 'human beings' and not what some would characterize as a 'pathological disorder.'

We are all so much more than the labels that society dangerously doles out. This includes labels of stupid, unworthy, mongoloid, crazy, heartless, hopeless and the like.  Had I believed all the labels that have come my way (about myself), I would certainly be caught in the net of no-return, insane.  Am I eccentric? Yes.  Am I left of center? Yes.  I wear these labels like a 'badge of honor'.  Not out of arrogance but from a profound belief that whether I fit in with the 'norm', I possess 'basic goodness and basic sanity.'  The basics can carry me a long way-- I don't need to be 'extraordinary anything--basically human will suffice.

What I strive to be is alive in the world, compassionate, living in the moment with what the moment can that dark or light, difficult or easy.  Do I always succeed in this endeavor? No. Am I able to forgive myself my down-falls? Yes.

As a writer, I do hear voices.  They are the voices of the 'writing muse'... they are a literary divine intervention to my otherwise conditioned mind for what can be said, thought, or written down for the world to see and hear.  There will always be a cacophony of less than kind voices (even those I spew to myself) but I am learning slowly to not indulge the full lexicon of notions about what or what does not make me, or anyone else, a divine one.

Gracie Garp

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Three Jewels...

Today, I took Refuge in the Three Jewels: The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha.  I received my Refuge Name:  Compassion Tiger Lady or Nyingje Takmo in the Tibetan language.

For the rest of my days, I will contemplate the profundity and preciousness of this path that I aspire to enter completely.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Refuge Vow: The Interview...

"What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.  It is the birthplace of authenticity.
                                                                                                            --Brene' Brown

Maintaining my vulnerability is a daily practice.  Tenderness is always mighty when extended to both  myself and others.  I attended the beginnings of taking My Refuge Vows last night.  It is very auspicious that the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche ( he is the head of the Shambhala buddhist lineage that dates back some 2,500 years) is in town this weekend with his wife (the present Sakyong Wangmo whose name is Khandro Tseyang Ripa Mukpo) to celebrate the end of his year long retreat, and the birth of their  daughter (Drukmo Yeshe Savasvati Ziji Mukpo)...shortened to The Princess for those of us not well versed in the pronunciation of her very long Tibetan name.  Today's celebration was to honor the "Royal Family" being here in Boulder, the birthplace of his father's, Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche, bringing Tibetan buddhism to America.  Today, was an unprecedentedly warm afternoon...the high 70's, so it was an exquisite autumn day to spend outside with our gorgeous fall colors and the wind blowing the leaves of yellow, burnt auburn, and crimson red to the ground and swirling at our feet.

I arrived with my two 'khatas' (white ceremonial scarves) that the Sakyong blesses and places around your neck, after doing so...Leaving their presence one is met by a Tibetan monk, who places a goji-like berry in the palm of your hand.  It represents long life and one swallows it on the spot. Next in line, another Tibetan monk who gives you a royal purple string to hang around your neck (loosely) to be worn until it literally falls off.  I so love the pomp and ceremonial aspects that the Tibetans buddhists engage in for many occasions.

Last evenings 'interview' was done with an Acharya (in this case: Acharya Ferguson) whom you are introduced to singly to be interviewed by.  The protocol is to meet him and say: "I have come seeking refuge."  He responds: "Why are you seeking refuge?" I am sure no two answers are the same for each interviewee.  I paused a moment and answered: "No exit, no problem."  His countenance shifted to what looked like amusement and appreciation.  I am told that a part of tomorrow's Refuge Ceremony will be the Acharya giving you your "Refuge Name" based on your answer and his felt and intuitive sense of your essence...this giving of a Refuge Name is something I did not know about until this afternoon.

Tomorrow's vow ceremony will be my announcing, publicly, my aspiration to follow the path of the Buddha.  This is not a vow to follow a 'diety' but to proclaim that I have exhausted my strategies of distraction, denial and escapism and to find that learning to experience reality directly through the path of meditation and mindfulness is a life-affirming choice.

There is surely vulnerability in this momentous threshold that I am about to cross.  This threshold is full of beauty and an aspired authenticity that I vow to take hold of and nurture for the rest of my days.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Evacuation #2

Yesterday, the police coming to my door to announce Mandatory evacuation for the second Boulder fire (within a month of each other), was a bit surreal.
This was the second go-round for my being able to once again check in with my non-attachment to 'things.'    So far, so good.

Gracie Garp

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Fairytale....

Written in 1980

The Fairytale

There was once a boy who grew up terrified
in the House of Mediocrity.
He longed for adventure, the wild and the strange,
like an infant longs to suckle from the breast.

When he grew up to be a man he met a woman, a cliff-
walker who, after years of living in the wild, had become an
Expert Cliff Walker.

When he loved and trusted her he would allow her
to take him to the cliffs blindfolded.
But when his love turned to indifference and his
trust to suspicion, he begged her to stay away for
fear that if she blindfolded him she might actually
push him over one of the steep crags.

She knew what he did not...that he was going to the
cliffs anyway.  That they would beckon and call to
him much like the moon to the morning sun.

What he did not know and feared most was that she
would tell him--that if, per chance, he stumbled
on any of the deepest and steepled bluffs, he would
have the wings to see himself safely to the ground.

It was her deepest secret.  The very one he hoped she
would never tell him.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Shopping Cart....

Written in 1993:

           Put A Ribbon On My Shopping Cart

Put a ribbon on my shopping cart.  Let it flutter like a may-day banner in the
spring wind.  The homeless shopping cart.  Mine.  Let me push it through the
Santa Monica suburbs so that everyone will know that I didn't know how to
quite grow up.  That I stayed small, like a child, believing the goodness in my
heart would be enough to survive.  I wasn't prepared for the adult reality that
profiteering and not philanthropy is the way to success.  So call me stupid... I
really didn't know.  Inside my shopping cart there is nothing to show--nothing
tangible like stocks and bonds and real-estate holdings.  There are invisible
contents.  Memories.  No net worth on the Dow Jones, but palpable feelings
attached to following my heart through it all.  All the empty space in my shopping
cart, only filled with and overflowing with the love I have for my two children...
who, forgive me, I foolishly taught from the breast, that what really mattered was
 love and acts of kindness.  I may have doomed them to sorrow.  My worldly
ignorance may cost them dearly in a capitalist society.  They will be handing
out love and trust; smiling, laughing, while not knowing there will be nothing
in their cart to show the world their value.  Oh, but Love is stronger than tax-
free income and if I have loved them, truly loved them, they will  look
over at m own hollow cart and feel the weight of our carts now too heavy to
push any further down the street.