A Caterpillar in Buddha’s Garden

(With thanks to my wife, Donna for the title and the poem)

I awoke this morning feeling fuzzy and low energy and started the day slowly by listening to Krishna Das sing Kirtan. The phone rang, jolting me from my peaceful reverie. It was Ron Roesler reaching out to help me plan and pull together the Second Annual Gathering of the Tribes, an event I am leading that will take place in just over a month.

An event like this needs a venue (Camp Collins in Gresham), a program (working on it) and participants. So far, we have 18 registrations with a target of over 100. That part will need regular nudging, but  it is starting to gain momentum. So that brings me back to the program and the small piece of magic that emerged this morning.

The theme of our weekend is Elder hood – what does it mean to be an elder and what are the roles and responsibilities of an elder? Our practice (within MKP) has been to create an opportunity at our elder gatherings for men to declare themselves as elders, but that has created a dilemma for us.

Traditionally, the term “Elder” is an honorific bestowed upon a man or woman seen as holding wisdom and humility. Our process, in essence, asks me to say, “Hi, I am Bob. I am and elder and therefore, I am wise and humble.” Ouch!

With Ron’s help, I was able to see another dimension of this dilemma. For purposes of this discussion, let me define “spiritual work” as transcendent, rising towards spirit. Soul work is descendant, stripping away the parts of me that no longer serve me so that I can become more pure of heart and let the flame in my heart burn more brightly. For the most part, those aspects of me lie in shadow that I first must reclaim . Only when I have awareness of these shadows and bring them into the light of consciousness can I see how they have served me in the past and how they may not serve me well now. Only from this place of awareness can I release those unclaimed shadows that lie as toxic bubbles of fear, sadness, guilt and shame in the swamp of my soul. One bucket at a time, I must drain the swamp and reclaim my lost gold… the flames that still lie softly shimmering within the muck of my shadows.

As I reclaim my gold and release that which no longer serves me, I do the work of the New Warrior. But that work is only half done. The Golden Child in the Iron John story has a later part of his life where learns to dwell in the ashes and from that place of humility, transform himself into a powerful warrior king, his own holy man. It is at the point in the story where the Golden Child is sent away by the Wild Man that I find myself in my life. I have become so comfortable sifting through the muck of my shadows that has become time to begin seeking a stronger connection with transcendent spirit. The path that is starting to call to me involves Kirtan (devotional chanting) and returning to the path that Ram Dass introduced me to over 40 years ago.

As I read what I have written to my wife, Donna, she smiled and shared a poem she had just written:

black_and_yellow_garden_caterpillar_resizedA Caterpillar in Buddha’s Garden

Inching along,

Painfully slow,

Touching down,

Covering the same ground

Again and again.

How I long to fly!

by Donna Jones – 5/3/14

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