For the Sake of True Love

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But for the sake

Of true love

I let go…

Of pride

Of fear

Of illusion

Misunderstandings

Like a wind

Blowing through 

The forest

In a sacred dance

Of leaves

I let go…

For the sake

Of true love

I let go…

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016*

“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.”  ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love

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Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind.  Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.

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*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd

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Broken Branches

art1

In the nakedness

Of barren pain

Roots

Reach out

For inner healing.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” ~Ganga White

*linocut, by Anita Laurence, Winter II

http://anitalaurence.com.au/?page_id=222

Looking Within

within

Heaven and hell:

Our subconscious.

Meditation opens seldom glimpsed areas of our subconscious. When that happens, extraordinary thoughts and awareness come to us with seeming spontaneity. We realize truths that were opaque to us before; we perceive events that were previously too distant. But no one ever became superhuman because of meditation. They only opened their own latent potential. Everything is locked inside of us and need only be opened That is why it is said that heaven is within us.

In the same way, the pains and the struggles of the past sometimes haunt us with astounding vehemence. Problems and conflicts are difficult to exorcise. Although we may practice spirituality and move on to new endeavors and relationships, past hurts still come back in our memories and dreams. These are not demons from another world, nor are they karmic manifestations of previous lives; they are scars in our subconscious. No matter how diligently we try to make progress, there still are pains that curse us day after day. This is why it is said that hell is within us.

We ourselves are the battleground for good and evil. There is no need to look beyond our world. Everything to be understood is within us. All that must be transcended–the pains and scars of the past–is within us. All the power of transcendence is also within us. Tap into it and you tap into the divine itself.

-Deng Ming-Dao

*artist Yogeshh Goel,

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/yogeshh_goel/

Comforting Arm

comforting arm

I started to learn about true love when I walked “El Camino de Santiago” in 2011. I didn’t understand then what the universe was showing me…though I felt it…and now it is a little clearer…thanks to what it means to be a mother, but at the same time a woman who is trying to be true to herself. I still have to soooo much to learn about love.

Lately, I have been reading a book by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, called Life Lessons. Maybe some of you can tell based on some of my latest posts. 🙂 Today I’d like to share a story she wrote that deeply affected me.

“Being there is everything in love, in life and in dying. Many years ago, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in a hospital. Many of the dying patients began to feel wonderful; not so much physically , but mentally. This wasn’t because of me, but because of the cleaning woman. Every time she walked into the room of one of my dying patients, something would happen. I would have given a million dollars to learn that woman’s secret.

One day I saw her in the hallway and said to her rather curtly, “What are you doing with my dying patients?”

“I’m only cleaning the rooms,” she replied defensively.

Determined to know how she was making people feel good, I followed her around. But I couldn’t figure out what special thing she was doing. After a few weeks of snooping around like this, she grabbed me and dragged me into a room behind the nurses’ station. She told me how, some time ago, one of her six children had become very ill one winter. In the middle of the night she took her three-year-old son to the emergency room, where she sat with him on her lap, desperately waiting hours for the physician to come But no one came, and she watched her little boy die of pneumonia, in her arms. She shared all this pain and agony without hate, without resentment, without anger, without negativity.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked. “What has this to do with my dying patients?”

“Death is not a stranger to me anymore,” she replied. “He is like an old acquaintance. Sometimes when I walk into the rooms of your dying patients, they look so scared. I can’t help but walk over to them and touch them. I tell them I’ve seen death, and when it happens, they will be okay. And I just stay there with them. I may want to run, but I don’t. I try to be there for the other person. That is love.”

Unschooled in the ways of psychology and medicine, this woman knew one of the greatest secrets in life: love is being there, and caring.

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, we can’t be there physically. But that doesn’t mean we’re not connected in love.”

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross-

*photo by David Peat,

http://birdsong217.tumblr.com/post/31627838428

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAtWleBjM2k

Barbed-Wire Fence

barbed-wire fence

Barbed-wire

Tearing a hole

Like a liar

Into my soul.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2014

“Loving ourselves is receiving the love that is always around us. To love ourselves is to remove all barriers. It’s difficult to see the barriers we erect around ourselves, but they’re there, and they play into all our relationships.”

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—

*photo found on http://turningpoint2.tumblr.com/post/44012726658/country-fence