These days there is a strong realization of how much of my life has been lived in ignorance and how that contributed to suffering both of my own and for others. Of course I didn’t know any other way at the time, as so many others today don’t know what it is to live without ego. It’s only in recent years that I have emerged from that cloud of confused identifying.
As well there as increased intuition of the collective consequences of living in ignorance and a fragmented envisioning. Our collective human living has directly contributed to our contemporary global problems. They have arisen for a reason and it is no surprise to me what is happening on this planet at this time. Humans have a responsibility to address this or to continue be deeply affected. There seems to be only one way through it all; not in returning to old ways, but in bringing a deeper awareness to life and living and in realizing the vastness of our interconnection and how our actions and behaviour affect our lives.
It’s a beautiful sunny, blue skied day here but it doesn’t do the same for me as a similar day in Canada does. Perhaps it is more that I miss the closeness to nature; being able to walk outside my door and find myself alone in nature, whenever I choose to. There is something about being in nature that allows me to settle into what I am. There are so many layers and actors in role here in Germany and in Canada as well but it’s more that nature is closer and that I can escape those not so intimate influences much more easily.
In nature; I am not compelled to contend with what mankind has so blatantly, in disregard, created. I don’t think that it,s avoidance as much as a submergence. What has become unconscious arises there; allowing for awareness of a bond with nature and a creative imagination that is more clearly revealed at those depths. There is an experience of transcendence in this; of the rising above a way of a world largely trapped in an , orientation that is an exhaustive materialistic pursuit of ephemeral goals. In transcendence, there is a leaving behind of a host of superficial problems that have arisen out of that orientation.
In nature, I am, closer to the “Imaginal”. I distinguish between imagination and thinking in the use of this word and the quote by John O ‘Donahue that I have included here illuminates that somewhat. “The imagination tries to take change and inhabit it in a way that allows it to be transfigurative rather than destructive. The lovely thing about the imagination is that, whereas the mind often sees change and thinks everything is lost, the imagination can always go deeper than the actual experience of the loss and find something else in it. There is an amazing difference between the way the mind sees something and the way the imagination sees something.”
Crossing Unmarked Snow by William Stafford
The things you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing the things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing.
The things you know before you hear them, those are you and this is reason that you are in the world.
Seeing the Illussion
There is a ‘painted veil’ before our eyes that contributes to an illusion about life. It has provided me with some sense of superficial and illusive security. From the silence I am able to realize the presence of the ” veil” that enables the realization that the life that I have perceived and the refuges that I have habitually sought are somehow unreal and contribute to lessen my integrity. It has all been a part of making what is boundaryless in life into a hard surface, partly to reduce feeling vulnerable and exposed. One can easily become so engaged in the pursuit of excess that moulds and forms that superficial surface to the point that one can no longer sense the true shape of oneself.
But beginning to glimpse beneath that hard surface I see that there lies a living, vital, magical world that the rigid and relatively impenetrable surface has hidden. The meditative, contemplative life has been transforming me and I think, not without grieving the loss of the illussion. Not depression, but lots of grief , but with a clearer seeing. I can no longer engage in activities that contribute to the surface creation and sustenance. Part of this deeper realization involves understanding how living a veiled life has isolated and desensitized me, draining me of humanity and compassion. My exposure to Asia and to myself has contributed to opening to something else, bigger than myself, that is very difficult to resist; however much it involves an adjustment, there is an increased awareness that most of us in what we call the west are privileged and that there is a duty of privilege and that is absolute integrity.
Discovery cannot come as long as you cling to the familiar. —NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ
These days I find myself more than ever looking to immerse myself in silence; allowing myself to sink ever deeper into that alchemical stillness.Out of the silence I am able to escape from blindness wrought by my conditioning. Following that conditioning I cling to the familiar. In silence there is a light that illuminates the compromising, self indulgent and limiting habits and patterns and the resistance to change. One such, most enduring, collective, conventional norm is the embrace of a most atrophied complacency that often passes for achievement and respectability. Contemplation for the best part enables a seeing of what ultimately has been a barrier to what is active, dynamic and authentic of existence. Out of silence I may become briefly aware, at moments, of my mind as an active power, and not, as it usually appears to me, a passive reflection of the “real world. I am aware that our minds are active and able in other ways than the limited ways that we have been directed to use them.
I understand that what emerges from the stillness determines what I am, discovering that I am energized and refined in this wordless essence. Life is endlessly unfolding and an ongoing process of transition. In opening in such a way, the external veneer of self that I have invested a life time in creating and sustaining is melting; a slow dripping into oblivion. As I slowly emerge from that, I rediscover a sense of innocence, creativity and nakedness long ago forgotten. There is apprehension in the unknown that is encountered here. Experiencing that which in my fear and ignorance, I have endlessly avoided I only now realize that there has been something essential in the knowledge of myself that has been hidden that could possibly be understood with new insight. It’s ironic that I am only now finding the courage to face what I have always inevitably feared. I thank God for that courage. I need It in order to be present to those experiences that I have in the past shuffled into the darkness and that I once again encounter in silence.
John O’donahue writes “There is within you the presence in a refined sense of everything that has ever happened to you, and if you go looking for it you will find it. A lot of the experiences that we have in the world are torn, broken, hard experiences, and in broken, difficult, lonesome experiences you earn a quality of light that is very precious”.
There is knowing in the first person objective and there is stepping out from that.
I am returning to my wife in Germany in two days. Something has been resolved this time around. I no longer seem to be as attached to my home in Canada in the same way that I was. I know that I will miss friends and the peace and vast space here. I always enjoy a peaceful abode close to nature and Canada may be one of the best options in the world for that. But people are people and egos are egos. They separate us from being; under a collective disguise and facade of knowing that is a part of that. That separation is a deadly phenomenon; to humanity, to other beings and to the planet and this is so in a variety of ways.
Canadians are no different then people of other lands in this way. They may be more polite about how they interact but they seem to be just as blinded as most in their confidence in knowing and the fear that it arises from that. In that reduced place of awareness our “belief” in what we know separates us from the whole and a greater truth that comes with that and this general lack of awareness of this truth is most concerning. We are all fundamentally connected to each other and in our conditioning there arises a disconnection from that realization such that greatly contributes to the cause and perpetuation of the global crisis that is now looming on our planet.
A contemplative life has encouraged awareness and I now come to realize that humanity as a whole is responsible for taking the steps that would lead to a more comprehensive envisioning that transcends the fixated self that is the root of limited responses and interventions. This is a knowing of a different essence than can be realized by all.
The reality we live in is one created out of mental concepts that encompass a relative truth; meaning to some degree and that is not one of absolute truth nor a synchronisation with the reater reality. So how should we live in this existence of relative truths?
If we can come to understand the limitations of our human mind and how it has come to be conditioned and in that awareness come to find ground in direct experience and reflection of the kind of truth that Kierkegaard suggests, (truth of Subjectivity) here is the possibility that this influence can transform our conceptual orientation..
George Feurstein describes the classic Advaita-Vedanta perspective on enlightenment by defining it as “the shattering of all mental constructs about existence, including the notions of voidness and chaos or fullness and harmony.” He further suggests that, “Enlightenment is that condition of the body-mind in which it is perfectly synchronized with the transcendental Reality. It is identical with Self-realization.”
Truth as subjectivity (and reality) is Kierkegaard’s definition of “faith”. He encouraged the development of an inner life through critical self reflection. Through this reflection faith arises. Of truth, he comments that it is “an objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation-process of the most passionate inwardness that is the highest truth attainable for the individual.”
It is my experience and in turn realization that there can be agreement, or not, on objective perceptions but that a subjective reflection makes its way inwardly and in that inwardness it is culminated in passion; a passion that can not be easily communicated objectively. In my experience there arises a sense of vulnerability as a part of that experience that allows for dignity and that comes from being both capable and humble. It emphasizes the need for trust and courage alike in our relations and frees us to receive and respond to the other both in our need and through our own choosing; a freedom such that it is at the same time self-empowered and vulnerable, self-giving and receptive, independent and dependent.
Its only been recently that I am able to see in a more expansive way. For most of my life I perceived myself through the lens of assumed self. The thing that I now most realize is that what this self believes to be true is relative to the perception of the self. I was looking in a way that would only reveal relative truth through the observation of self as the subject observing the object.
It is from a place of greater openness that I am able to see with greater truth. Opening has involved letting go of fixed definitions, opinions and assumptions that have served a vague and limiting identity and a vague and limited understanding of the big picture . As well it has involved learning to cope and live with the experience of vulnerability rather than being dominated by its unacknowledged urges. A superficial resolution of these urges seems to have led humanity to a compromised perception. Often in open, honest and intimate reflection with others vulnerability can arise and I am coming to understand that it as a door to a more expansive awareness and greater insight.
One of the ways that I am finding myself transformed through this process is that I am discovering that I am much more interested and invested in the question as opposed to the conclusion.
I’m writing from the beach at the Oshawa marsh on Lake Ontario. This a favourite place of mine ; I know it intimately. It’s a place that I return to sit in silence. Today the waves are raging, more powerfully than I have seen them do in the past. The beach is submerged in the surge. I hardly ever encounter another person here at this time of year. It’s so desolate here at times yet so close to urbanity.
“The state we call realisation is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything. If one is realised, he is that which alone is and which alone always has been.” Ramana Maharshi.
Adyashanti writes that at the core of the false self is a void of deficiency derived from an essential turning away from one’s own divinity, either out of natural development, despair, or simply by succumbing to the trance of the world with all its masks of deception and harsh obligation to conform to its insanity. The false self orbits around this vacuous abyss at its core, in silent terror of its nameless, faceless threat of oblivion. The false self is a door you must pass through. I pass through it and return to it at times but more often these days I am able to leave it behind.