Blog

Mindful Musings

THE POWER OF THE MANTRA

For 13 years, a great monk prayed, meditated and fasted in the mountains in order to see more clearly into the nature of things. One morning, this wise man decided to climb a high peak, where it was believed that great spiritual power dwelled. The monk filled his canteen full of water and ascended the five labourious miles (about eight kilometres), barefoot, to the mountaintop’s 13,000-foot (or approximately 3962-metre) summit.Upon arrival, he soaked in the transcendent beauty of the streams and valleys below. Tears rolled down his face as he felt the spirit of the mountain rush through him. Overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude, the monk dropped to his knees in exaltation and paid reverence to the Earth.After a few moments of deep contemplation upon the wonder of it all, the monk jumped to his feet and was immediately struck by what he saw. Standing there before him was the most beautiful, radiant woman he’d ever seen. She was tall and slender, with skin that seemed to glow in the afternoon’s high-altitude sun.The woman smiled warmly, and then seductively motioned for the monk to walk the 10 paces to where she stood, running her fingers through her long, flowing dark hair. The entranced monk stared at the woman for a long moment, and felt the desires of years past pulsate through his being with the intensity of deep ocean currents.To still his mind, the monk began reciting the vows that he’d made when he joined the monastic order. Of course, celibacy was one of those vows. He then began repeating the following mantra in his head:

“Desire breeds attachment
Attachment breeds suffering
Suffering breeds delusion
of who we truly are.”

As the monk continued to repeat his mantra, he felt the torrent of desire gradually fall away. The deluge of deep ocean currents was being transformed into nothing more than passing waves on a sea of change.

With an even more inviting smile, the mysterious woman motioned once more for the monk to approach her. The holy sage took two steps forward in her direction, and then bowed and said:

“My fellow soul traveller, it’s a great honour to be in your presence upon this mountaintop of bliss and wonder. It’s twice the honour that you’ve welcomed me with such a warm smile and kind spirit. But it’s spiritual wealth, nothing of the physical, that I seek upon this rarefied peak of truth.

“The Indwelling One commands that my mind surrender to IT’s pursuit of the highest kind of knowledge. Now, I must wish you farewell and much fortune on your journey.”

The monk then bowed to the woman one last time, and turned to walk back down the mountain. However, just before he took his first descending steps, the mysterious woman transformed into the brilliant colours of a rainbow and then vanished into the heavens.

In awe, the monk looked up at the sky, and saw a glorious double rainbow form out of the mist above the dazzling blue mountains.

The noble monk attained his spiritual power and went on to inspire and teach many disciples for 50 years, until he dropped his body to complete his cycle of birth and death.

****Originally published on the mindfulword.org

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings. He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com.

Mindful Musings

       Two ranges, one teacher


Two people partway up a mountain with a snow-capped peak

Two mountain ranges evolve over time. Both arise from the same spark of creation, but represent different qualities of their Creator.

The taller, vaster, younger and more rugged of the two ranges speaks to the spirit of adventure and youthful exuberance. With its tall, snow-capped peaks, jagged terrain and cold winters, this range draws in those youthful spirits who see in these mountains the metaphorical challenge to conquer their fears and achieve their hopes and dreams.

Due to this range’s imposing landscapes, many of its inhabitants choose to reside along the periphery rather than within the cradle of these great and inspiring mountains. Captivated by its majestic summits, many young people migrate here to fulfill their quest for adventure and to achieve personal transformation.

The smaller, homier, ancient and less rugged of the two ranges speaks to the spirit of deep-rootedness and refined wisdom. With its lush green forests, soft rolling hills and warmth-inviting climate; this range attracts those reflective souls who find, in these densely-wooded mountains, the solitude needed for meditation upon the eternal self.

Due to this range’s gentler sliding slopes and ridges, many of its inhabitants live within the heart of these exquisite blue mountains. While less young people may migrate here than to the former range, those who do lay down deep and permanent roots like the rhododendrons and mountain laurels that provide the range’s humble grounding.

The spirit of adventure, youthful exuberance, deep-rootedness and refined wisdom are all core facets of our inner journey along the path to self-realization. The qualities of each of these two great mountain ranges, then, serve as natural contemplative reflections of our own states of being.

Each also reminds us that we must always heed the call of our inner child to ascend the rarefied peaks of wisdom that comes with experience and age.

****Originally published on the mindfulword.org

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings. He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com.

 

An Ode to One

An Ode to One

One day, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Turned to IT’s beloved disciple, the Great Seer, and asked:
“Is it clear not to all who meditate upon me
That I am called by many different names?”
To which the Great Seer replied:
“Why, of course, Noble One!
To some, you are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords
Yet, others would know you as the Supreme Controller,
The Sublime Originator and the Eternal One—
Still, others would say you are the Divine Mother
Or the Wise Knower….”
Satisfied with the Great Seer’s response
The Cosmic Godhead inquired of IT’s loyal disciple once more:
“And is it clear not, dear seeker of Incomparable faith and devotion
That I, too, assume many different forms and appearances
For those tuned in to my form transcending essence?”
“That is indeed so, Oh Master Sculptor and Grand Architect
Of ALL planes of luminous awareness,
You are the sunrise at dawn and the sunset at dusk
The rain and lightning of an afternoon storm
And the majestic rainbow that appears to awe all those blessed
To view your breathtaking beauty….
You are the lush green forests teeming with life drawn
From the eternal fountainhead of divine knowledge.”
Beaming with delight
The Omnipresent Source transformed IT’s body
Of radiant orange light
Into wondrous Blue Mountains and replied:
“Great Seer, Noble Companion and Inner Voice of Timeless Odes to Love
Join me as the dirt-laden trails that guide aspiring seekers in pilgrimage
To my hallowed peaks of awakening.”
The Great Seer bowed before the enormous blue altars
And was instantly transformed
Into the rich soiled paths for all beings to travel
In their quests to achieve
Enlightenment upon the mountaintop!

Originally published on the Mindfulword.org

                    Mountain Heaven

By: Forrest Rivers (originally published by the themindfulword.org)


Sunset at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It was a beautiful day outside. The birds were singing, the sun was shining brightly and a cool autumn breeze swept across the countryside

I was hiking with my dear friend Jamie, back down the forested service road 316, a gorgeous trail in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’d walked about six miles (about 9.6 kilometres) and were 20 minutes from my car when the Divine fully presented itself.

We’d stopped to smoke a bit of herb and to reflect on our inspiring journey. To commemorate the moment, I expressed to Jamie that I wished to recite a few prayers I’d compiled over the past week.

The collection included sacred Buddhist, Sioux Indian, Hindu, Sufi and Christian invocations to the Absolute. I opened my journal and began to read the first lines from the Buddhist-Loving Kindness selection:

“May all beings be free from danger
May all beings be free from mental suffering…”

At the exact moment I recited these lines, a pack of wolves began howling in unison with the prayer. The tone of their soulful expressions was both haunting and awesome. The hairs on our necks stood at full attention. It felt as though the wolves were inside our souls, playing their heart-stringed instruments.

Because it was nearing sunset, I immediately placed my beloved canine companion, Abbie, on leash and finished reciting the Buddhist prayer. I then listened … mesmerized. After a minute or two, the primal sounds of howling stopped.

Jamie and I glanced at one another in silent recognition of this divine moment. Chills went down our spines, as it became evident to us that the Infinite was speaking through the wolves.

What were these loyal beings trying to convey? Oneness. Unity. Stillness. Sacred Earth Connection.

As we continued our walk back down to the car, the energy of the forest felt particularly heightened and pure. Soon, the glorious sun began to set over majestic blue mountains and I knew deep within that my home was heaven on Earth.

 

2020: A Renaissance of Art

By Forrest Rivers

In times of social upheaval, all human beings (whether conscious of this fact or not) are challenged to question the very meaning of their existence. Events such as war, economic collapse, pandemics, political revolution and natural disasters have the effect of shaking men and women out of their day to day routines and sense of comfort. As history clearly demonstrates, such occurrences have also sparked some of the most profound and inspiring renaissances in the creative arts such as music, writing, and painting. In truth, periods of social upheaval and soulful expression fit together seamlessly. Just as we cannot separate the river’s journey from its destination of the vast blue ocean, so can’t we separate revolutions in the creative arts from their societal contexts. As a case in point, consider the Renaissance of art that took place during the decades of the 1960s and ’70s.

From a global context, this age had it all: a hugely unpopular and devastating war in Vietnam; the Cold War and the looming threat of nuclear devastation; Independence movements in Africa and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; Women’s Liberation on both sides of the Atlantic; as well as indigenous rights’ protests in the Americas. In short, for much of the world, social revolution and war came to define that period’s external landscape. Unquestionably, the escalation of extreme state violence amidst a backdrop of mass protests and growing existential fears gave birth to an inspiring and formidable movement of higher consciousness: the hippie counterculture. At its core, the hippies were at the forefront of a spiritual movement that sought to promote a more soulful and natural way of living in harmony with the whole of Creation. On the surface, they saw an external world marked by widespread fear, greed, mindless conformity and hypocrisy.  In response to society’s madness, the hippies turned within through such spiritual outlets as meditation, psychedelics and communion with nature in order to arrive at their own inner truths in this time of moral fragmentation. The result of such inner searching(found especially through exploring Native American and Eastern traditions), saw an explosion of raw and spirited creativity that simultaneously served as a deep social commentary of the unjust and vapid corporate-consumer culture; while also sharing a vision of a transcended state of consciousness centered on our unity of being.

The hippies’ powerful merging of an outer world critique and an inner vision of untapped hope, peace, and unity found its soulful expression most powerfully through music. Household acts like: the Beatles; Bob Marley; Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Doors, the Grateful Dead and many others communicated the hippie ethos through the vehicle of sound.  However, this era’s renaissance in art wasn’t limited to music alone. Beatnik poets and hippie authors like Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, and Gary Snyder accomplished through words what musicians did through music. And, who can fail to mention (perhaps) three of the most impactful and sage-like writers of that generation…. Baba Ram Dass, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts!

At the present moment, the world is primed for the latest renaissance of art. This spark of soulful expression may even eclipse the creative genius of the hippie counterculture from a half-century ago. So far, the events and happenings of 2020 are providing the ultimate context for the start of a tidal wave of creativity. The opportunity presented by this once in a lifetime pandemic (COVID -19) for such a movement cannot be overstated. There is no doubt that this virus has been terribly tragic in terms of human life lost. However, it is precisely this presence of death’s now very public face that is responsible for sparking inner reflection on the meaning of one’s own mortality. In essence, COVID-19 has forced all of humanity to at once confront that one mysterious yet omnipresent constant that pervades our very consciousness. For the first time in decades, the majority of humans are suddenly having to examine the tough existential questions that are typically buried beneath our techno-consumerist distractions. Some of these questions have consumed the minds of philosophers and the souls of mystics from every spiritual faith: Who am I? What happens when I die? Will I be reborn? What is my purpose here on Earth? Who or What is God?” Undoubtedly, many beings will feel drawn to the creative arts to express their own answers to such profound existential questions.

There is an additional layer to this pandemic that lends itself to the coming renaissance of art. In a desperate effort to contain the virus, governments around the world have carried out unprecedented shutdowns of several key industries in the global economy. The impact caused by these shutdowns has had far-reaching and unforeseen consequences for humanity. On the one hand, the massive shutdowns have facilitated the full-scale meltdown of the global financial system and led to an unemployment crisis not seen since at the height of the Great Depression. Predictably, the shock to the economy has exasperated our collective fear and inflicted significant hardships on the majority of workers and the poor. On the other hand, due to this necessary period of “social distancing” and home quarantining, most of the world’s population are finding themselves alone more than ever before. With this added solitude, comes a greater opportunity for spirited self-reflection on our own lives and of our relationship with the Earth. Remarkable works of art will be the inevitable outcome of both this economic suffering and contemplative wisdom.

 

What’s more, at the exact same time that the world grapples with the severity of the crisis and all it portends for the future of the human race; deep and long-standing systemic problems have been fully exposed for us all to see. Such problems include but are not limited to: continuous tax-funded government bailouts of greedy corporations; politicians who use their elite insider knowledge to profit amidst periods of crisis; soaring wealth inequality between the rich and poor; a pattern of pathological lies peddled to the public by callous corporate-backed politicians and media sources; and the devastating impact that modern industry has had on the health of our beautiful planet. The outbreak of COVID-19 has dramatically revealed that immoral values like greed, violence, fear, and division currently underlie the foundations of the global- capitalist system.

In the days and months ahead, we can expect many peaceful souls to do what their fore bearers did during the hippie counterculture. That is: turn within to the sublime reality of living spirit and transcend the lower depths of consciousness through channeling the divine in creation. The era of a new renaissance in art is upon us. To all artists and creative souls, the time has come to do what you do best: CREATE, MOVE and INSPIRE! Through your art, reveal the absurdity of organizing our societies around the worst aspects of the human condition. Even more important…. convey through your creativity the hope that exists in recognizing that death is not to be feared, that love will always prevail and that all things are connected as one. In these times of shared suffering, the reality of our eternal oneness has never been more apparent than it is now. Always remember, that conveying this truth of cosmic unity serves the highest and noblest aims of creative expression.

May the Great Renaissance of Art Commence!

Author Bio:

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book: The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings(https://www.amazon.com/Hippie-Revival-Collected-Writings/dp/1515396959). He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com