Blog4 Oct19 Reflections on life from Alexander Nevski Monastery.
Oct 19. Alexander Nevski Monastery. Sitting in cafeteria overlooking garden, cemetery and cathedral. The widows are steamy and it’s near freezing outside. Why am I here in this monastery in cold city in the far north where I can’t understand the language or even the letters? It’s expensive; Franny has very limited mobility; I was really getting going in sponsoring, teaching and writing back home; and I’m not a theater person. So the whole thing is whacky except for the light in Franny’s eyes when she said she wanted to come, and a quiet sure voice insde that said “go for it – you will learn and grow.”.
I’m pretty sure I came here to explore contrast — to learn and create — and to recognize and let go of my childhood habitual patterns of behavior (character defects) that I developed to protect me from a seemingly dangerous world — but which today block me from the vivid joyous experience of living in the Sunlight of the Spirit. This is the same reason I came to planet earth 73 years ago. As an infinite spiritual being, I came here to explore contrast and its creative possibilities — to ride the thrilling wave of life on the planet earth.
By starting as a helpless baby and creating the illusion of limitation, I got to generate all sorts of creative ideas: how to cry for help, how to eat, how to pout, how to walk, how to daydream, how to prove mathematical theorems, how to build computer models, how to use them to analyze nuclear weapon systems, how to get more money, how to make babies, how to raise children, how to surf, how to be happier, how to drink, how get happier without drinking, how to let go of my childhood protective patterns and fully appreciate this wonderful creative experience, how to re-connect with my true self or infinite spiritual self, and how to have fun writing blogs in monasteries in Russia.
Here in Russian it is very difficult for me to sink into complacency. At every turn there are prickles of new contrast. Getting out of the apartment with keys and passports, and money and cell phone and maps and camera and dictionary and satchel and undercoat and overcoat and hat and gloves and ….. Unlocking the wooden and steel front doors and then relocking them (we don’t lock doors at home) and descending the dismal stairway and pushing the magic button to open the outside steel door and avoiding getting trampled by the crowd rushing to the subway entrance by our apartment and avoiding getting crushed by the vehicles ignoring the cross walk and arguing with the monk over the need to pay 130 rubles just to get a cup of tea at their cafeteria and then realizing he speaks English and may be the AA-recovery guy I want to connect with and then looking for “blini” on the all Cyrillic café menu transliterating one letter at a time “б-л-и-н-ы” . . . . [My train of thought is interrupted by the bells of the monastery tolling the call to vespers. ]
Each little contrast shock provides me with the opportunity to dive into any negative emotion and then recall the truth — that I am an infinite being (a holographic extension of my higher power in AA terms) who is creating/attracting/projecting this miraculous illusion of separation and color and light/dark and hot/cold and joy/anger and … I am getting better at doing this recall and it has helped wonderfully in many situations — but I manage to remember only about 1% of the time. But 1% is a thousand times better than 0%.
When my pocket was picked in the crowded subway two weeks ago, I managed to come back from despair/ anger/ blame/ fear/ disillusionment and into alignment fairly quickly and then spend 4 hours on the erratic Skype phone answering security questions for American banks. The thieves were pro’s — jostling against me in a crowded subway — then handing off to another guy — then charging $7000-$12000 on the cards starting only 30 minutes later.
Why would I attract this situation? (If indeed, I did.) Well, I had somebody “feel me up” trying to get in my pocket earlier in the week. When I put on a different pair of pants that day I noticed how much easier it was to get into the front pocket where I was keeping my wallet. I felt a shiver of fear, but ignored the signal. So there I was sending out subtle “please don’t ROB ME” vibrations in the crowded subway — and ROB ME they did.
But I only partially processed this because two days later I had my camera picked out of my pocket while buying something from a street vendor outside the metro. And again the search thru all 12 pockets for the camera — the sinking feeling that its gone – it can’t be gone – but it really is – NOT AGAIN – it’s not fair – I am a malicious loser – Russians are all malicious thieves – I am soooo stupid – maybe I should just go home to California – Franny will know I am so spacy I can never take care of her.
[We all develop childhood patterns to protect us from a seemingly dangerous universe: angry confrontation, sweet appeasement, playing the clown, fearful shyness, etc. I developed a pattern of spacyness or vagueness. Then I really justified or solidified it by my “great scientist” aspirations — after all Einstein did not worry about such trivia as money or car keys. It is these patterns or character defects that we need to penetrate and dissolve to really live a vibrant joyous life on planet earth. ]
And so, standing by the metro on Nevskiy Prospekt, I breath in deeply and really sense all those feeling of loss and inadequacy — and then I breath in the open space and possibility of Source. I just let go of all the nagging little ego thoughts and remember that I am an infinite and beloved child of god.
And from that open space of god’s love it occurs to me that it is not the end of the world – not nearly as bad losing my wallet – and an idea pops into my mind. I could replace the camera for $150 or so at the nearby computer store — and that I did not need to whine or complain or even discuss the incident if I chose not to. I could just replace the camera and go on with my life — and most important I could let go of a bit of my childhood spacyness that blocks me from fully experiencing God’s wonderful universe.
And that is what I did.
From Russia with Love, Carter — Blog 4.