Maurice Ravel and The Living Inquiries

One of my favorite musical compositions is, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” by Maurice Ravel. He wrote it not only as a tribute to François Couperin, a French Baroque composer, but also as a tribute to Ravel’s father, as well as some of Ravels’ close friends who died while fighting in World War I. He originally wrote this as a suite for solo piano, in six movements, between the years 1914 – 1917.

Ravel orchestrated four of the suites in 1919, and these are the versions I originally heard and fell in love with. I absolutely loved the themes, the melodies, the ebbs and flows of these suites, and I was so touched by the beauty I felt while listening to this music. Later on, I came across the solo piano versions, and was amazed at the creativity they revealed. Those are a lot of words to describe something I could never accurately describe – let’s just say that this work touched my heart very deeply. It led me on a further exploration of Ravel’s work in particular, and classical music in general, an exploration that has greatly enriched my life.

OK, so what does Maurice Ravel, and in particular, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” have to do with The Living Inquiries, as created by Scott Kiloby?

The one aspect that I appreciate the most about Ravel’s music is his ability to give the listener the space to feel, as opposed to telling the listener how to feel. This is such a crucial distinction! His music doesn’t dictate, it allows. In this way, Ravel is honoring the listener, and allowing him/her to have whatever experience they are having while listening to his creation.

So too with The Living Inquiries. Each person is allowed their particular flavor of what they might be experiencing, and the facilitators aren’t giving advice or manipulating them in any way (ideally!). All that is happening is that the client is being facilitated in taking an honest look at whatever is happening in their present experience, no matter what words, images or sensations/energies might be present. This not only honors the process, it honors the client, just as Ravel is honoring the listener with the space to feel whatever comes up.

Ravel, being a composer during the French Impressionist period, paid tribute to the Baroque composer Couperin by adopting the Baroque form for these suites. This form is much more structured than what would normally be heard in other music from the Impressionist period (late 19th, early 20th centuries), but within this more structured form, Ravel was able to devise the most intricate, delicate and, well, simply beautiful music. Some of the suites are heartbreakingly beautiful, which is understandable, as each was composed in tribute to a different late friend. Either version, solo piano or orchestrated, is most profoundly affecting.

It is also apparent that The Living inquiries are evolving over time to allow more freedom in the types of questions that can be asked by the facilitators, thereby freeing the creative intuition of each facilitator. When first learned, the Inquiries can seem somewhat formulaic, but as demonstrated recently, these are indeed “Living” Inquiries, expanding and growing as they change to meet the challenges presented by each client. The range of questions that are being asked, and the shifting and evolving of the inquiries, is what gives meaning to the name, “Living Inquiries.”

However, all this takes place within a basic structure, so that we as facilitators don’t lose sight of the purpose of the Inquiries – a sincere looking into present experience. Within this structure, each facilitator can allow their creative, intuitive flow, permitting them to tune in to the client in a unique and responsive way. This is the art of the facilitation. The Living Inquiries are unquestionably an art form, as opposed to a science. I am so enjoying watching how this art form is evolving, with the input of the community that is such an integral part of this process.

In, “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” and many other compositions, Ravel makes extensive use of the dynamics of music, often with dramatic results. He uses the entire range of loudness and softness, struggle and peace, drama and calm, sometimes in surprising and startling ways.

So too, events can unfold in our lives in surprising and startling ways, evoking unexpected emotions,sensations, contractions, words and images. Sometimes these surprises hit us with dramatic force, and we can feel quite overwhelmed. The Inquiries present another opportunity to simply stop, rest, and investigate what is actually happening in our present experience. Much if not all of that overwhelm can be mitigated by having some structure with which to work.

There is something about music that touches me so deeply, and as I’m sure you are aware, cannot be put adequately into words. However, I’ll try a few here. “Le Tombeau de Couperin” seems to unlock that creative impulse that lies deep in the heart of each of us, always present, sometimes dormant, that can fill this One Space which we all are with the most reverent, beautiful and sacred vibration. That is the gift at the heart of music, where the illusory separation between composer and listener vanishes.

The Living Inquiries give us the opportunity to explore our uniqueness in the same way. When the various words, images and sensations/energies are simply seen for what they are, the gifts that have simply been waiting for our discovery of them are unlocked, allowing us to know the truth; that what we have been looking for, seeking for, with all our hearts, has been here all the time.

It is at this point that music, The Living Inquiries, the sound of a rushing stream, the call of the shama thrush, airplanes flying overhead, newspaper headlines, anything you can literally imagine, becomes a conduit for realizing our Oneness with all that is.

[If you would like a major treat, have a listen to the 2nd Movement, Adagio Assai, of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. Put on the headphones and enjoy!]

A Merry Chase

You’ve led me on a merry chase, you have!
I could never have imagined a more clever foe,
in this ultimate game of hide and seek.
Every possible obstacle, you placed in my path;
Every blind alley, I was compelled to explore;
Your disguises were infinitely creative,
beautifully designed,
to trick me in every conceivable way;
And believe me, they all worked- every one!

Your infinite creativity has had me…
crying,
laughing,
hopeful,
hopeless,
in total despair,
in utter joy;
What emotion has gone unfelt (or unresisted),
by this person called “I?”

Where have I not gone,
seeking after you,
knowing you were right around the corner,
at the end of this book,
at the end of this meditation
in India, in Europe, in Mexico, in Hawaii;
I just knew I could lure you out of hiding,
if I just tried hard enough,
if I found the right path,
if I just meditated long enough,
if I did exactly what the guru/teacher said,
if I was sincere enough,
if I pretended well enough.
But no.
You were nowhere to be found.
I didn’t know how you could have escaped my seeking,
but you did.

And there came a moment in time
when I knew I would never find you.
I gave up seeking.
I gave up.

Now, here you are.
You found the cleverest hiding place of all –
Plain Sight.
You never left home base!
That whole time I was chasing after you,
trying to find you,
seeking for you until I thought I would burst with the longing;
There you were.
Just hanging around home base,
waiting, patiently, lovingly,
allowing me my search,
knowing all the time
that you would never leave me,
could never leave me,
that we had never been, and could never be, apart;
that you were always closer to me,
literally,
than my own skin.
Your sense of irony never fails!

Now that I’ve found you,
I sense you everywhere –
in the trees,
in the call of the shama thrush,
in the news of the day,
in all the appearances in my awareness,
in the faces of my friends,
in the eyes of my wife;
In fact,
where are you not?

I can’t not find you now.
The one I can’t find,
peculiarly enough,
is the “me” who was searching!
We are ever one and the same.
The seeker, the sought and the seeking,
All One.

A Five-Star Day

This is definitely a five-star day here on Kauai. We were greeted by sunshine, just a few clouds over the mountains, the birds in full-throated splendor, a perfect day, in other words.

After a wonderful, deep conversation with my wife, I went out for a walk by myself, as Juliet went bike-riding. We both know that change is afoot, and we have put out our intention to take our hands off the tiller and allow room to notice and allow whatever currents come to our awareness.

We’ve been on a long journey, you and I. We’ve been on a seemingly endless search for…… what, exactly? Have you ever spelled it out for yourself? I did that on a post I entitled, “Enlightened Expectations,” which I posted on June 12. (You can access that in the Archives on the left side of the page.) All of those items I listed, when you really take a good look at them, really boil down to one thing: I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable or so-called “bad feelings” anymore. I saw enlightenment as a way to escape having to feel bad. I had images of what it would be like to make that final breakthrough, and achieve total, permanent equanimity in all situations. That I would maintain my blissful state no matter what life presented in my experience. Really, all I was looking for was an escape from feelings I didn’t want to feel.

Isn’t it ironic in the extreme that it is by allowing the feelings, noticing how I had been labeling them with certain words, like fear, shame, embarrassment, anger, frustration, guilt, etc., the freedom I sought was already there. Not in traveling through life so I could go around the feelings, but by actually moving right into them, peeling off the labels and descriptions velcroed to them, and also noticing and allowing any mental pictures that would accompany the feelings and words.
Could it be that these sensations I had been avoiding were simply energies, energies that might hang out for a while, but might also move through our awareness and dissipate, when they were unaccompanied by the words and pictures that we had velcroed to them?
Could it be that simply by allowing our present experience, notice what is actually happening without trying to fix our story, we might find the freedom we have been seeking all along?
How many techniques have we employed in order to find that equanimous state we so dearly desired?
How many books have we read in the hopes of finding that one which would contain the magic key to our awakening?
How many years (lifetimes) have we been searching for what has been here all along, the one place we could never leave – our own perfect presence?

And what is the biggest obstacle to our awakening, to our even taking the first step in our awakening?
Our beliefs.
I could fill up pages upon pages listing everything I believe, all the many places my mind became fixed. Where I dug in my heels, basically declaring, “Here, and no further.”
Well, life had other plans for me, and through a series of very challenging situations, I knew that if I held on to my beliefs, I would suffer, physically and otherwise. So I made the choice not to allow my beliefs to stand in the way of my healing. This lead to openings I can hardly describe, and eventual physical healing as well.
I stand here before you voicing my intent, on this 5-star day, to continue to examine what I believe, knowing that not one belief, yes, not one, is true. No beliefs are true. Not even mine!

If anyone reading this would like to discuss this further with me, you can comment on this blog, send me an email at pgalewitz@mac.com, or comment on Facebook or Google+. I am now a Certified Facilitator of the Living Inquiries, as developed by Scott Kiloby (www.kiloby.com); this work has been so vital to me in my desire to allow my present experience, and to stop avoiding the fears, compulsions and beliefs that were plaguing me on this beautiful dream planet of ours.

I hold no beliefs at present about any past or future lives, but I do know that this dream character I am playing now has only this one go-round. I intend to live the rest of this life as authentically as possible.

An Unexpected Holiday Gift

I went to a “cookie” party Sunday evening, an annual affair at which I would almost certainly have gorged myself on all kinds of wonderful tasting cookies and other sweet snacks. This year, thanks to the Living Inquiries, I not only didn’t have a single cookie, I actually invited a friend to bring over a plate of cookies and eat them in front of me!

When I first walked in, and saw the spread of all my favorite cookies, I felt the contraction in my body. I then continued to stare at the spread, and asked myself, “Where is the command to eat these cookies?” In this case, thanks to the Inquiry sessions I had done, I not only couldn’t find the command, but any attraction I felt for them was gone. I was very hungry, as I hadn’t had dinner, so I ate some of the savory snacks that were available. I kept returning to the cookies and staring at them, and at no time did I feel tempted to eat even one.

The freedom of this is profound. Not only does this feel, well, freeing, but I also feel so much more present and authentic. This addiction to sugar and chocolate has been with me seemingly forever, and now I actually feel that there is less of this person who was addicted here now. The addicted one seems to have receded into the background of my memory. I’m actually having so much fun with this now!

My profound thanks to Scott for bringing these Inquiries into being, as well as working with me months ago on this issue during our Deepening Course. In particular, I’d like to thank Loyd and Grant for the latest rounds of CI that allowed me to get to the truth of what was driving this addiction, and the emptiness of it all.

I can’t think of a better holiday gift. So much appreciation!

Waves

Waves of emotion
they ebb and flow,
come and go,
never totally disappearing,
the peaks getting stronger and stronger,
tears coming closer and closer.

As the waves increased in intensity,
a fear emerged,
subtle but tangible,
coaxing me to turn away from these waves.
It would be so easy to do so,
to allow more words and images
to distract me from this exquisite feeling,
right on the razor’s edge
of my allowing.
I could feel the countless times
I have turned away from these waves,
where I have let this fear,
subtle as it might be,
to rule the day.
But not this time.
I felt the fear,
felt the waves build,
felt all that was being offered in that moment,
until the tears came;
how could they not?
The wave broke,
and the tears flowed,
with a poignancy impossible to express.

In allowing this current its full due,
in my not-knowing
how long it would last,
or how intense it could or would become,
I found in this wave my love of life,
the preciousness I feel in every moment.
In allowing the fear
as opposed to reacting to it,
something priceless was revealed,
something so essential to my being alive,
a current of life itself.

The waves continue.
They will do what they do,
all in the infinite ocean
of I Am.

Clearing the Prism

A pure white light of consciousness hits the prism of self and splits outward to become the universe as we experience it. If the prism of self is gray and murky with ignorance, choked with fear, contaminated with ego, then so becomes the universe that radiates out from it. It’s that simple. As the prism becomes free of such flaws, then the whole universe changes with it. It resolves into clarity, becomes brighter, more playful and magical. Because we are the lens through which it is projected, we are participants in its shape and motion; co-creators of our own universe.
– Jed McKenna

This quote (and many others like it) has had a prominent place in my awareness. If only I could clear the prism of self, I reasoned, the world would then appear differently. Maybe there would be no more wars, no more starvation, no more endless bickering about whose belief is right, and killing those who don’t share that belief. No more greed, no more torture, no more manipulation, etc. etc. I resolved to do whatever I could to clear this particular prism of any murkiness, so that the outer projection would more reflect the purity I intuitively feel is our true nature.

Recently, I was facilitated in the Unfindable Inquiry during a particularly difficult time. My mother had just had an operation on a broken hip, and the doctors hadn’t yet found the proper pain meds. She had to return to the hospital in excruciating pain. At the same time, I read about the upcoming war in Syria. These two events both brought up the same utterly helpless feeling, and with the help of a wonderful facilitator, I went looking for the one who felt helpless.

While looking inside, the helpless feeling was coming up most strongly around the situation with my mother. After some time looking for the one who felt helpless, and not being able to find him in any of the words, images or energies that arose, the facilitator had me look outside the body. It was at that point that the whole Syria situation came up, along with a flood of words and images, more than I could possibly keep track of. But the feeling was the same. The same helplessness was present and alive as I allowed myself to move right into the center of it, feel it fully, and notice as it eventually faded away.

Two things became apparent to me in that moment. One, there is no separation between inside and outside – those are just two concepts which really have no practical meaning; and two, if I truly want to be accountable for the projection of the world that I am experiencing, my role is to simply feel whatever there is to feel in any particular moment. That is where my accountability begins and ends, in being present, noticing whatever is coming up in my present experience, and allow whatever that is without wishing it was different and pushing it away.

I have used many methods over the years for not feeling so-called negative or difficult feelings, all of which spell resistance and contraction. This is what clouds over the prism of self, and not the fact that my mind doesn’t understand how this mechanism works. There is no end to what my mind doesn’t understand, and indeed can’t understand! If my particular projection of the world depended on what my mind understood, things would undoubtedly be even murkier that they already are.

This particular inquiry didn’t put an end to the out picturing in these two circumstances. It still took several days for my mother’s pain to abate enough for her to be released back to her care facility, and the drums of war in Syria continue to beat. I still feel helpless to do much about either, and I have strong feelings about both situations. However, having seen the so-called boundary between inner and outer vanish, and knowing that there is really no “I” here somehow being responsible for how the world looks, a sense of peace has assumed a more prominent place in my present state of consciousness.

There is a poetry in how we each are moving uniquely through this life, and how the words and images and sensations pass through our awareness like the wind. Noticing all of it, even my resistances, brings a freedom, and especially an authenticity, previously unknown to me in this life. Maybe one day I will have a deeper understanding of this prism thing, but for right now, I am grateful and appreciative for my particular out-picturing.

That’s Human Adulthood. Spiritual Enlightenment is just the same, except you take the final step in purifying the prism of self: you remove it.
– Jed McKenna

The Tools of Separation

The last two weeks have been a demonstration for me of what can happen when belief systems are dismantled.

Thanks to the support of the other participants in my Living Inquiries Facilitator Training class, I felt safe enough to be totally honest and open, and bring three strongly held belief systems to the table, and watch as their component thoughts, images, sensations and emotions were peeled away. Lo and behold, the emptiness of these belief systems was revealed as just that, empty and unfindable.

After each session, I participated in events here on Kauai that I would previously have avoided, as I disguised my resistance to having my buttons pushed as, well, anything my mind could come up with. Imagine sitting in a place, listening to something you have been avoiding forever, and hearing and seeing with new ears and eyes, as if for the first time, without feeling a charge, without any thoughts and judgements nagging at you, reminding you of all the reasons that your resistance was justified.

Imagine experiencing and moving through life authentically. I can feel that authenticity now, and it feels like freedom.

While I was sitting at one particular event, listening to a woman speak, I could feel how my recently uprooted beliefs had basically chopped up my experience of everyday life into bits, and had seemingly created a prison of sorts, limiting my connections to others and to life itself. In other words, I had a practical demonstration of how I had created separation, and that the walls of this prison were composed of my belief systems.

The binding material for these walls are the words, images, sensations and emotions that are welded together, creating the beliefs themselves. The facilitator training I am involved in shows how these components can be seen for what they are, and how “un-velcroing” them from one another reveals the actual emptiness of the experience, that what we are reacting to cannot in truth be found.

The results from the sessions last week were dramatic, in that each of the three sessions yielded a freedom not previously experienced, that the “charge” I had held around the events in question was now totally absent. I have felt myself moving through life with more authenticity, and I can tell you honestly that it feels, well, more authentic, more true.

So much appreciation to so many people.