Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In memory of Angeles Arrien

At this time I just want to share a few thoughts about Angeles Arrien, who passed away on Thursday, April 24th, 2014. Angie is both easy and difficult to describe.  I knew her as a teacher and mentor while I was at school at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and she has remained so until this present day, and will continue in these roles until the day when I follow her beyond the door.  She was born in the Basque country and was a Elder within her community.  She was also an anthropologist who studied a very wide array of cultures and spiritual traditions, focusing on their areas of commonality and agreement with the astute understanding that here was where one could find a perennial wisdom and also contribute an appreciation of humanity and of all of life that transcend the usual ethnocentric perspectives which so tragically can hold us all at a distance from each other.

I remember my first encounter with her.  It was my first week of graduate school and I was concerned at taking too many classes and being overwhelmed.  I met her outside the door of her classroom and told her of my concerns.  She simply suggested that I sit in on her first class and make my mind up after that.  It was a class on developing creativity and intuition.  I sat in on her class, decided to enroll in it, and took every class I could from her during the remainder of my stay at CIIS.  On that first evening she acknowledged a spark within me that she fans to this day.  It is because her teaching and wisdom are alive, they breathe deeply and so gracefully dance, accompanying me where ever I go, opening portals within my heart that address virtually every situation in life.

She is a teacher of the highest order, never looking at a note, storytelling in ways that reach the fibers of being in each student who attentively sits at her feet, effortlessly providing guidance with a penetrating gentleness that in a whisper told of great things within each one of us.  She has the power to transform lives and does so in a way that invite her students to move into places organic to their own individuality rather than trying to mimick her or anyone else.  She offers the authentic healing and empowering force of unconditional love and with Dr. Rina Sircar was both the inspiration of my dissertation on this topic and also sat on my dissertation committee.

I speak of her as if she is still alive.  It is not "as if."  She will always be alive in the hearts and lives of the truly countless number of people she touches.  Her influence, at once simple, direct and profound,  passes like a torch from person to person, forming ever expanding circles of light.  She has transformed and will to continue to shape my life, helping me reveal myself to myself, and supporting me to follow what she calls heart and meaning.  The sadness I feel pales in the light of the tremendous love, respect, and gratitude I feel for her.  I can't begin to list all the ways that she influences me so I simply encourage you to read her books, especially "The Fourfold Way."

Angie.  You are always with me, which is an understanding that both humbles me and gives me strength, that helps me to form a more present and vital union of heart and mind and body, that informs my life in myriad hummingbird ways.  With great respect and love, thank you always and in every way.