The best laid plans . . . I just had an experience in the Aoelian Islands that was not in my plans – to take ferries to Stromboli to view the spectacular eruptions at night from a boat in the Tyrrhenian Sea, to climb Vulcano and then relax in the volcanic mud baths and the warm mineral volcanic springs in the sea, to travel to Panarea, and to Lipari where there is a renowned archaeological museum within an ancient high citadel. Instead, on my second night in Salina, I tripped on a metal bar extending from a shelf on the floor of a store and crash-landed on my knee and the right side of my face – forehead, nose and cheek. Although I did not lose consciousness, the blow to the skull resulted in a concussion. Nondual practice brought the experience to a level which was also unexpected and difficult to describe. When aversion arose, I saw it as aversion. Pain was experienced as just pain. There was gratitude to the Italian people who responded to me as if I were family, people on the street who brought ice and called an ambulance and stayed with us (along with my husband and sister) until an ambulance arrived on a street so narrow, the driver and attendant could barely get their doors open to squeeze themselves out of the ambulance. The compassionate hearts of so many “strangers” expanded my heart and the predominant feeling for me was gratitude. The doctor was compassionate– and in Italy, visitors are never charged for medical care. There were no forms to fill out before being seen, no payment asked for, only the signing of a report at the end of the visit.
Maybe when your brain gets jolted, it’s easier to let go, but there was also a decision to just go with it resulting in no sense of loss regarding the vacation plans – no urges to want things to be different or better – or, when those feelings did arise, I saw them as temporary and they dissolved. I thought of the Buddhist teaching that everyone has been your mother. This was my experience – so many loving mothers – from people on the street, to medical workers, to hotel staff. Yes, there was an accident, but nothing was wrong. The teachings of non-dualism that have been growing within me for 7 years came naturally and effortlessly. So I am here on Salina five days later, gazing across the sea at Stomboli and Panarea, with appreciation and contentment. Just being here, nothing to do, no place to go, complete in this moment. Just Being.
With appreciation to Peter Fenner, whose practical translation of the teachings of the great non-dual masters have made non-dualism accessible, practical, and relevant for this western being. And thanks to Yamuna Zake, who taught me to actually move the bones of my face and skull and put Humpty Dumpty together again.