Archive for April, 2011

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.


For those of you who love adventure travel and discovering other cultures, photographer Matthieu Paley is your guy.  Reading his blog, I am entranced.  (The photos in the text of this post are mine.  Please follow the link below to Matthieu Paley’s work–he is world class).

Matthieu Paley’s photography is a portal into another world.  Last night on his blog, I discovered “We Are The Anti-Taliban” (copyright, Matthieu Paley), a film he and his wife, Mareile, made in 2008, of the world’s biggest Sufi festival.  Singing, dancing, and love, a yearly celebration held in Sehwan Sharif, a town on the banks of the Indus River, Sindh Province, Pakistan.  

The people of Pakistan are so much more than the fundamentalists and terrorists, the difficult, untrustworthy government.

Below is the link to Matthieu’s blog.  Once you reach his blog, scroll down the site to find Matthieu’s video, “We are the Anti-Taliban”, on the right hand column, towards the bottom on the screen, and enjoy:

The link:  Matthieu Paley Photography.

I so wanted to experience Sufi celebration and dancing when I visited Pakistan, but my timing was off.  However, I was able to spend a morning in the Data Durbar Shrine in Lahore.  The remains of  the 11th Century Sufi Saint  Abul Hassan Ali Havjery, also known as Data Gani Baksh, are enshrined Data Durbar, which was built in the 11th Century.

Data Durbar welcomes people of all faiths to worship, be they Christian, Hindu, Sikh, or Jains.

I felt welcomed and comfortable at Data Durbar.  The holy men and worshipers radiated kindness and compassion.  My time in this beautiful shrine was the high point of my stay in Lahore.

Sufism is an Islam of love, tolerance, and devotion.

Sufism is a path to uncovering Divine Love within one’s own heart.

Sufism is the Islam of Rumi, the beloved poet.

Sufism is a voice of moderation in Pakistan.

Tragically, July 2010, there were three explosions in the Data Durbar Complex, the work of suicide bombers.

Three thousand people were present, 42 were killed, and 175 wounded.

Sufism in Pakistan is threatened by fundamentalism.

Related Articles, including more about Sufism in Pakistan and the festival at Sehwan Sharif:

Mara Rose
*I am sure you will also enjoy Matthieu Paley’s ongoing film-making and writing about the Afghan Kyrgyz, who live in the High Pamir Mountains of the Wakahn Corridor of Afghanistan.

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Much is being written about the Greg Mortensen Three Cups of Tea scandal.  As my initial shock and reaction wear off, some personal observations.

The situation in Afghanistan is a nightmare.  The Graveyard of Empires, both for the British in the 19th Century, and the Russians in the 20th.  Now we Americans are there.

Pakistan is unraveling, with fundamentalism on the rise, poverty and corruption rampant, armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, and at saber’s edge with it’s neighbor, India.


Nightly ceremony, Wagah, India-Pak border.

Faced with seemingly insoluble problems, in a world where earthquakes and tsunamis swath through nations, it is understandable that we look for symbols of hope.  To me and many others, Mortensen symbolized what one person, everyman, could do if he worked hard enough, was selfless enough.

A comforting myth, as it turns out, yet a powerful one.

The allegations are serious.  Fabricating his seed story.  Misappropriation of funds, which I believe is even more serious, but seems to be getting less attention.

Worse, Mortensen’s cause was meaningful and spoke to our highest aspirations.

Hero worship is a projection of our own psyche’s need to feel safe and protected.  To find tidy answers to difficult problems.

We once made heros of the Afghan Mujahedin, until they became dissolute warlords.

Visiting NW Pakistan and the Hindu Kush, I lived the romance of an area steeped in history, the Wild West of the British Raj, where 100 years ago, the Great Game played out between the Russian and British Empires to control the riches of the Silk Road.

The Roof of the World, where the Hindu Kush, the Hindu Raj, the Pamir, the Karakoram, and the Himalaya meet in unspeakable grandeur.  The inspiration for Shangi-La, the setting for The Man Who Would Be King.

I experienced the seduction.

In Central Asia, hubris has destroyed many men.

I want to believe that Mortensen was in over his head, and lacked the ability to manage a successful and growing non-profit.  I want to believe he began with his heart in the right place, then took a wrong step down a dangerous slope.  That he became enchanted by the powerful lore of Central Asia and lost his center.  I want to find compassion for the man and his family, while not excusing his alleged behavior.

I have learned I was romantic and naive in my hero worship.  I have learned some things I did not know before about developmental aide.  I have been reminded there are no miracles, no quick and easy solutions.  That real answers must come from within ourselves.

Marianne Elliott, of ZenPeacekeeper, wrote a thoughtful and nuanced post about the Mortensen situation yesterday.  I recommend her perspective.

Mara Rose

You might also like:

Sufism–of Love and Tolerance

When Heroes Stumble

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Setting an Intention is powerful, as I am learning more and more every day.  My intention to become kinder to myself has drawn amazingly lovely resources into my life, and I have dived in.

However, there is one intention I catch myself avoiding–easing into Yoga.  On the surface, this makes no sense.  I eased right into meditation, and it has become the core of my morning ritual.  But I’ve caught myself avoiding yoga.

I did not want to go out to a class–I wanted to do simple movements in the privacy of my own space.  So, I signed up for a fabulous beginning yoga course on line, with a highly respected teacher.  Perfect.

However, I did not get started when the class began, due to a migraine, and the aftermath.  That’s legit.  I am really knocked sideways with a migraine.  But since then, there has always been something.  This morning, I suspected that I am resistant to yoga.

Why?  I like working out.  I ride a spirited horse.  I’m learning to meditate.  Why would I resist yoga?

Then it dawned on me–I associate yoga with should.  I have heard I should be doing yoga too many times.  Until I want to run the other way.  Many years ago, I tried yoga in a fairly advanced setting, way over my head.  I felt shamed when I was scolded, “You’re not in your body”.  And so I have avoided yoga, without understanding why.

What if I banished should and shame from the practice of yoga?

Becoming aware that I have associated yoga with should and shame is a huge first step.

My beginner’s yoga program is on-line and in my own home.  The teacher is awesomely supportive and kind.  My intention to ease  into yoga is for myself.  There is no one at home to “should” me or shame me.

Perhaps I can approach yoga in the morning with a fresh perspective, now that I have uncovered why I have unconsciously blocked my intention to ease into yoga.

I am learning much about being present in my body from meditation.  I am learning it is essential that we embrace our innate worthiness to banish should and shame.  I am “in my body” when I ride my mare.  Baby steps.

Perhaps in the morning, I will be ready to ease into yoga.

What are your experiences with intention and resistance?


Mara Rose

*Photos:  NW Frontier Pakistan, 1997.

You might also like:

Ask, and You Shall Receive

Kindness to Ourselves, the Heart of Healing

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What is your passion in life?  Of what do you dream?

This post is not really about horses–But about dreaming our dreams, and making them real.  And how our dreams sustain us and give us hope.

I am passionate about Arabian horses.

My passion for my horses held me together when my life fell apart.

I love every part of having horses in my life–from riding to managing their care and feeding them. The best is simply hanging out and being with them, they are so personable, engaging, and comforting.

I love their soft nickers and the salty sweet hay scent of their muzzles.

I love the way my mare bows her head and kisses my hands to greet me. I love that my gelding sticks his tongue out to get attention.

I love trail riding.

I have loved horses since I was a little girl, living in the smoggy concrete jungle of Los Angeles, praying every night for a farm and a horse of my own.

I do not have my own farm, but I am grateful for living the best part of my dream, special horses of my own.

I especially love my Arabian mare.  Ours is a true partnership.  A deep and sustaining friendship.  A love affair.

When I am tired or discouraged, my beautiful mare’s gentle spirit sustains me.  When she was hurt, I held the space for her to get better.  We carry each other.

What does finding your passion in life mean to you?

What do you dream of doing with your precious life?

What did you love when you were a small child, before the “shoulds” of society took over your dreams?

What is standing in your way, holding you back?

What would you be willing to let go of to live your dream?


Mara Rose

You might also enjoy:

Contentment in the Rain

Profound writing about aligning with your soul’s purpose, from Hiro Boga:

Making Things Happen–Alignment.

Barrie Davenport is writing great things about discovering your passion at Live Bold and Bloom.

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Are you afraid of fear?  You are not alone.

I believe many of us privately struggle with fear, afraid to expose our secret vulnerable selves to others.  I do.

I also believe we must embrace our vulnerability to discover our strength.

And that real intimacy begins only when we share our fragile vulnerable selves with others who are safe and non-judgemental.

Others who allow us to be who we are and let us have our stuff.  Others who can simply give us our space, or offer loving Presence, without trying to fix us, or tell us who to be–in order to make themselves more comfortable.

And, having said all that, for me, the actual doing of it, the for-real sharing of my vulnerable self to another person, is hard.  Especially, after a Fall.

And so I take baby steps.  Then I stop.  I breathe, deeply.  I listen.  And I ask myself, “What am I feeling?  What is my body telling me?  About this situation?  About this person?  Am I still safe?”

Slowly, carefully, I am learning to trust myself again.

Two of my favorite blogs are Live Bold and Bloom, written by Barrie Davenport, and A Certain Simplicity, by Diana Baur.  It was my pleasure this weekend to open my email from Barrie and find a guest post written by Diana.

Diana’s beautiful writing touched me deeply, as she spoke from her heart, with rare honesty and bravery, about living through anxiety and panic.  About how anxiety and panic almost derailed her, how she faced her fear, and how she found the strength to get back up again.

Here is the link to this rich post:

How to Get Up When We Break Down.

Many of us live with bouts of panic and anxiety.  I found Diana’s story profoundly inspiring and helpful.  Perhaps you will as well.

How do you face fear?

How do you embrace vulnerability?  Or hide from it?

How can we create a safe space for others to be who they are?

And for ourselves?


Mara Rose

Photo:  Dark Night, Full Moon, Stable

You might also like:

Ask, and You Shall Receive

Kindness to Ourselves, the Heart of Healing

Read Full Post »

Discovering the power of a clearly set intention.

Last week, I promised myself I would begin just sitting every morning, using awareness of my breath to quiet my mind and extend lovingkindness and compassion to myself.

I was especially mindful that I avoid turning meditation into a big thing that would invite procrastination.  My intention is to practice daily for a month, creating a Ritual.

For the most part, the first steps of meditation practice have gone pretty well.

I discovered a beautiful CD by Jack Kornfield, a teacher of mindfulness meditation, that guides me to centering myself in my heart and on my breath, traditional lovingkindness practice.  I love this CD, and found it helps me to focus.

Some days, the process flows beautifully, and I feel peaceful and relaxed.  One special day, I met and embraced a lost part of me who needs my acceptance, my love and compassion.

Often, my mind is busy with worry and distracting thoughts.  I am learning to gently remind myself this is why meditation is truly a practice, and I return to my breath and the space between the stream of thoughts.

In the past, my intention to meditate was derailed by Busy Mind, as I told myself I wasn’t doing it right, that meditation was too hard.  Now, I find any attempt to let go of my perfectionistic tendencies is enormously helpful. Learning to be, not to do.

My intention, to just sit each morning and to learn to live from the inside out, has drawn to me exactly what I need now.

I am grateful to Havi Brooks, and her delightfully witty, wisdom-filled blog, The Fluent Self, and for her generous link to Hiro Boga.  I have immersed myself in Hiro’s program, How to Rule Your World From the Inside Out, and I am blessed by an exquisite garden of Being and Presence–“Sovereignity of Your Inner World.  Both women are a truly gifted healers and teachers.


Mara Rose

*Photo:  My mare and I were once guests at this beautiful stable in another State.

You might also like:

Finding Strength, Embracing Vulnerability

Kindness to Ourselves, the Heart of Healing

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