Initiation into Emptiness & the Pervading Force of Compassion
My first introduction into the pervading force & living structure of compassion was in 1998 during my Grandmother Louise’ death. A month prior to her death I was visiting her in St. Louis for her 97th birthday. I could see that she was struggling and in pain. During a moment we had together privately, I said to her that it’s ok if she decides to leave this world and that the family will be ok. She simply turned to me and said, “Yes, I think I’ve been around along enough”. A month later I got a call from my mother and she said come now, I think Grandma will pass and she’s asking you to be here. A few hours later I was on a direct flight to St. Louis.
When I arrived in St. Louis, my father picked me up at the airport and drove me directly to Louise’ apartment. All the family was there and Louise was on her bed and I could see that she was in the process of passing. I whispered in her ear that I’m here; she made a small acknowledgement as I took her hand. My cousin was on the bed with her and the rest of the family was in the room as well. There was some small talk but the feeling in the room was quiet. In an hour or less from my arrival, I was still holding her hand and a feeling of total emptiness & quiet came over me and I looked at my Grandmother and without thinking I said, “Grandma is gone”.
People in the home came to pay their respect and condolences to our family. One of the workers at the home that had helped my Grandmother came into the room; “Oh lord, Granny’s gone, who got the gift?” a second time she said “Who got the gift” and I said without thinking “I did”.
What was the gift? It was initiation and the unconscious experience of being totally empty of any thoughts or emotion for the pervading force & living structure of compassion to enter me during the exact moment of Louise’ passing. It was an all-encompassing energy of love that permeated my being in that moment of transition as I held her hand. There were no thoughts of “this is compassion”, or “this is love” it just was compassion. Louise had gifted me with the experience of compassion that is a family structure to bring into the world. This experience is to be the main component of the lineage of our family that I was destined to explore.
Shortly after her passing there were only three of us in the room so my middle sister and cousin could put my Grandmother’s favorite dress on here. Out of respect for this unique ritual, I turned to look out the window that overlooked the front yard of the home that had old growth oak trees and beyond the trees is the St. Louis cathedral. As I was standing there quietly looking, I felt this flow of energy like a swirl of wind quickly circle around the room and went past me through the closed window. This was the moment when my sister and cousin were putting on Grandma’s favorite red dress that her soul fully left her and went to her next phase. Here was another gift Louise gave me with her death. This all left me with a profound spiritual sense of beauty in the moment of one’s passing.
Transmission of the Ancestral Family Story from the Pervading Force of Compassion
Two years later Louise was to induct me into the next phase of viewing life from the pervading force of compassion. During this time we had a visitor, Onye, in our house from California. He was going to lead several African Village workshops at the Montessori school my daughter attended. Onye considered himself a Christian mystic and as a gift to me for allowing him to stay at our house he said he wanted to give me a “reading”. For a reading Onye goes into an altered state to allow the spiritual world to communicate. During this reading, Onye stated that my Grandmother who passed away a few years ago was in the room. He stated that she was requesting help to transition to another phase of her journey in the spiritual world. Onye said I should create an altar with her picture, her cross and a yellow rose. My Grandmother had always liked yellow roses. Once the altar was completed, I was to meditate & pray to ask how I can help her. Of course, Onye knew nothing of my Grandmother and that she liked yellow roses.
So I went out a few days later and bought a small table, put a Guatemalan weaving on it, a picture of Louise, her cross and a single yellow rose. A day or so later I woke up at 2am and felt compelled to go to my studio to meditate and ask Louise how I could help her. At that moment my studio became electrified with something I’ve never felt before. It was an electric energy that permeated the entire room and through my body with my hair standing on end. It was a visceral feeling and not a meditation experience. I asked if this was Louise and how can I help. At that moment I began to receive a visual energetic story being transmitted directly into my body and brain. This was not a story with a narrative but with images that had direct feeling attached to them. The images came quickly but not too fast and I was left with a “feeling impression” that went from image to image. These images were of people I had not seen before but the impression was that they were ancestors and the feeling that consistently moved from each image was the pervading force of compassion.
As each image transitioned to another image I was seeing my ancestors create relationships and then see the relationships fall away. Sometimes this was sequential and sometimes simultaneously. I could see relationships come together in love and some fall away into discord. As this experience was occurring, the wisdom that emerged from the pervading force of compassion was one of no judgment. The force of compassion wiped out any and all judgment because only love exists is this space. I could see & feel with the images being presented that people created issues without much awareness of the impact to themselves or in relationships. I could see how relationships played out and whatever was unresolved moved to the next generation. I was gifted this insight of what my lineage was, how it occurred, and that my legacy is to work from the pervading force of compassion to transform the ancestral family story at a soul level.
Surgery as the Tree of Life that Emerges with Interconnectivity
I am the tree of life, on the great plaza
In the primordial sea of the pervading force & living structure of compassion
In the three stone place of the forces of nature and earth
In the three stone place of the forces of stars and cosmos
And, I flow with the forces of interconnectivity in the spaces between the earth & cosmos.
Fourteen years later I learned that I needed surgery. I began to prepare physically & spiritually with meditations to ask my spiritual world to assist the doctors for the best outcome possible. During this time I began to read again a small section in the book “Maya Cosmos” about the tree of life. The Maya used the metaphor of the tree of life in their cosmology of how they connect to the Earth and the Cosmos. They have a story of the movement of the Milky Way that places them as the tree of life in a star group in the Milky Way as it rotates through the night sky. This story is one emerging as a tree of life with interconnectivity between the earth and the cosmos.
I used this to prepare by connecting at a spiritual level to all the people and places that I would experience during pre-surgical prep, during surgery and in recovery. I used my tree of life meditation to feel the interconnectivity of it all. It was my opportunity to expand my awareness of the interconnectivity within my body to my spiritual world.
The Body as the Vehicle for the Pervading Force of Compassion
I had arranged for friends to assist me after my surgery. One friend had volunteered to stay with me for 3-4 days. I was about to realize how much this was appreciated because I had no idea that I would need the level of assistance required during recovery. The pain was such that getting in & out of vehicles, chairs & my bed was very difficult. Since I was homebound I took the opportunity to watch the DVD “The Lion’s Roar” which is about the 16th Karmpa of the Kagyu lineage in Tibetan Buddhism. He is considered the embodiment of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. I could see in this film how the 16th Karmapa inducted himself as the Bodhisattva of Compassion with the ritual of the black hat. This inspired me to research if there was a 17th Karmapa that was the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa after he passed away in 1983. The 17th Karmapa was identified according to a prediction letter left by his predecessor. One of the identifiers was the hearing of a conch shell shortly after he was born.
The night after I learned this, I got up at 3am due to extreme pain and went to meditate. I did my tree of life meditation and then used the image of the 17th Karmapa and called upon the Bodhisattva of Compassion to assist my body to relieve the pain. I did this several times with my tree of life meditation. During this meditation I heard the sound of a horn three times spaced about 8-10 minutes apart. I asked my body to become the tree of life and interconnected with compassion. I had switched from focusing on the frustration of the pain to using the pain as a calling for compassion.
Later on that morning during a meditation with my friend, we were listening to Tibetan Buddhist chanting. The chanting seemed to emanate the pervading force of compassion as its foundational structure. I looked at one of my roses I painted and I could feel the essence of compassion as the rose. The pieces were being put together again, the initiation into emptiness & compassion from Louise, and the calling of the horn (conch shell) three times, to the meditation with Buddhist chanting & my rose painting. It was another calling to go deeper into compassion as a primary structure in which wisdom emerges from.
The House of Compassion; Intellectual & Experiential
A week after my surgery I had several dreams that were communicating the choices I had with the path of compassion. In the first dream I entered a house that had a deep green (green-blue) interior. The house had solidly built with ample windows for light to enter. The bedroom was large with plenty of windows. I turned around and saw two wood pillars and each had address numbers that were different. I looked through a window and saw a man pass with sunglasses on.
The second dream I entered a theater to see an opera and sat down next to a woman on my left. She seemed like a person I had met before and we became friends. I put my glasses in cup holder in front of me. Then the rows of seats began to move like a Rubik’s cube. I was concerned that I would lose my glasses and then a woman on my right said that this happens all the time and your glasses will be easily found. I was focused on the seats moving and anticipating getting my glasses back. I could not tell what the opera was about because I was not entirely focused on it and there was running to and fro across the stage. The woman sitting on my right spoke to me again and said, “Of all the people in this theater, 75% are related”. I looked around and saw that all the people she referred to were women and they did look similar.
The first dream is a message indicating that my house of compassion is already built. It is of the color of the heart chakra, a solid deep color but there are two addresses. The two addresses are indicating I have a choice to travel the intellectual or experiential path of compassion. The unknown man with sunglasses walking outside past the window represents the intellectual path. The house and its deep green interior represent the experiential path. The interior of the house is large, open with lots of light that brings out the depth of the deep green color.
As I worked with this dream I brought forward the experience of compassion that Louise inducted me into. I could see the two addresses shift into one and the feeling of compassion expanded and deepened. This indicated to me that me path I am meant to explore is the experiential feeling of compassion.
The second dream is a message that I could focus on many individual attributes of compassion as represented by all the women related to each other. Or if I focus on the pervading force of compassion the opera becomes clear without my glasses and I now hear the singing. It provides the foundation and is the source of my creative energy. It also provides the interconnected structure within myself to remain focused amidst all the movement and changes. The pervading force of compassion provides the foundation for the components of wisdom to emerge for a creative expression into the physical world.
Family Lineage, Cultural Lineage
So with my experiences with Louise, my surgery and the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism with the 17th Karmapa brings me to the connection of all. My experience with Louise came back to me through the experience of my surgery and connecting to the Tibetan Karmapa’s. The experience I had with Louise is very difficult to communicate because it was an experiential event and not an intellectual event. It was a deep spiritual experience of compassion that goes beyond any words. I have never forgotten it and keep returning to it throughout my journey.
By watching the DVD “The Lion’s Roar” of the 16th Karmapa, which shows how he inducts himself into the Bodhisattva of Compassion, reminded me of my experience with Louise. It led me to the 17th Karmapa and the understanding that the Kagyu lineage is a social structure the Tibetans created to sustain and grow the pervading force and living structure of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. I furthered my research into this school of Tibetan Buddhism and quickly realized I was not meant to study Buddhism in depth.
But rather it taught me another lesson from Louise that came from her death and several years later with her transmission. That she was passing to me our family lineage for me to take on at another depth within myself. It was for me to consciously take on to return to compassion throughout my life. It is for me to feel and be in the space of compassion to allow wisdom to emerge in all areas, family, business, relationships and creative expression. It is for me to build a social structure of compassion in my lineage. It is for me to practice returning to it whenever the focus drifts away. For the pervading force and living structure of compassion provides the foundation for interconnectivity of all spiritual forces.