Living in the Pacific Northwest affords you lots of opportunities to stare directly at the Sun.
That reads weird, but since childhood we’re told never to stare at the Sun because we’ll go blind or insane. So when the opportunity to stare arrives one should take it.
This childhood proscription felt doubly true when I lived in Hawai’i because there was so much Sun. Too much Sun after awhile — and so I moved to Seattle to stare.
I was looking at the Sun the other day because the conditions were ideal here on the island. A gritty fog was dispersing off of the harbor, overshadowed by a bowl of overcast — a spread of grey punctuated by a bright white smudgy ball; a stealthy Sun at high noon.
Staring was startling because it reminded me of something I don’t think about that often, but when I do think about it I’m transported into a visceral feeling of living on a planet that is floating around in the immensity of endless black space.
The cycle of night day, night day, night day fashions reality into a false notion that night and day are equal. When really day is just a gift of a sliver of a twelve-hour moment. All else is nightness.
And when I have that sensation I’m reminded of what I felt like as a kid with my mom and dad and how tethered I was to them, always in orbit around their presences. Much like the Earth is with the Sun. And the Moon with the Earth. People, stars, planets and moons. Unions comprise cosmoses — small and personal or immense and seemingly impersonal.
In that same cloud light the other day, staring at the Sun’s nimbus, I also recalled a passage from A.H. Almaas‘s last book in his Diamond Heart series. It’s called Inexhaustible Mystery. He wrote a chapter titled Beyond Consciousness (one of those chapters that is worth the price of the entire book). And in this chapter is a poem he wrote called The Guest Only Arrives at Night.
The Guest of course is the Beloved, which is really you without an identity that is based on a relationship to a mother and a father. Imagine that. Read more
“The moment you go from ego to non-ego you experience not only that you are one with all human beings but that you are one with everything.”
“You realize that the consciousness that has been compacted within boundaries has no boundaries. It is everywhere. Consciousness is the basic substance and nature of everything.”
“The truth you realize, then, is that who you are is not the product of your childhood, is not your body, is not a sense of limited individuality. You are some-thing that is everything, and you are seeing now the nature of everything, not only on the essential level, but on the level of Being itself, on a nondifferentiated level, a nonseparated level.”
“This does not mean, though, that you are no longer an individual. You will not lose individuality in the way you might imagine; the individuality will simply be one facet of who you are.”
“It’s like the example of the hand. In the beginning you think you are the finger, moving around, doing things. When your knowledge goes beyond the individual, beyond the ego, you find out you are the hand. You don’t lose the fingers by being the hand. The fingers are still there, the individuality is still there operating; however, it is part of something larger.”
“And you are that something larger. At the same time, you are also the individual. Your attention is sometimes the finger and other times the totality of the hand. Then you live as what is called a cosmic individual.”
—A. H. Almaas
Opening photograph: Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus by Isaac Gutiérrez Pascual.
“Human beings have two options: being in contact with the Source, or being in a state of disconnection from it.
Being disconnected from the Source is not the loss of a luxury, or something extra — this loss lies at the very heart of human suffering because this Source constitutes your most real nature, the true center of who you are. Without it, life is deadened in all its aspects and becomes meaningless.
We don’t simply lose a sense of peace or contentment, or the intimacy of feeling at home with ourselves, but we also lose the source of all of our real capacities that we need to deal with and live our lives fully and correctly. So this is not a small loss or simply a philosophical one — it is a very practical and immediate one.
Working on regaining the Holy Origin — realizing our unity with our Source — is not supplemental, something to do when everything else is taken care of. It is basic and fundamental. Not to do it is like trying to live your life without your insides, your bodily organs — what kind of life can you live?
Without the connection with your Source, in which your life is lived as a continuity of Being, life becomes a prolongation of hollowness.”
— A.H. Almaas Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas
Photograph: Elliott Erwitt, Wilmington, North Carolina, 1950
“The most important insight needed for a student to move from the deficient lack of support to the actual state of support is the recognition that the feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what to do to be oneself, is not an actual deficiency, nor a personal failing. It is rather, the recognition of a fundamental truth about the self, which is that we cannot do anything in order to be, for to be is not an activity.
We can come to this understanding only through the cessation of intentional inner activity. At this point, not to know what to do is a matter of recognizing the natural state of affairs, for since there is nothing that we can do to be, then it is natural that we cannot know what to do. There is nothing to know because such knowledge is impossible. Nobody knows what to do to be, and the sooner we recognize this, the easier is our work on self-realization. In fact, feeling that we don’t know what to do to be ourselves is the beginning of the insight that we don’t need to do anything.
As we begin to understand this perspective, we may learn that one’s helplessness is based on a delusion: the belief that there is something we need to do in order to be ourselves and the resulting conviction that we can know what it is. This is one of the basic delusions of the ego life of the self. It is inherent in narcissism that we will attempt to do things to support our sense of identity.
So the self is always engaged in inner activities of remembering, imaging, indentifying, repressing, projecting, idealizing, and various self-manipulations to shore up our insecure sense of identity…The real issue of support emerges clearly only after we have penetrated the various external manifestations of this ego activity, and have experienced essential presence directly and immediately.”
Contact sheet of artist Jackson Pollock in 1949 by Martha Holmes/Time & Life Pictures/Getty
“When you know that you are something beyond your body, mind, emotions, sensations, that there is a lot more to you which is deeper than these things, your point of view about life will change.
If all your life you’ve looked for somebody to love you, and then find that your nature is love, what will happen to that search? You spent all of your life trying to get love, and then realize that you are love; you are no longer the bee looking for nectar; you are the flower itself. Suddenly your prospective is totally shifted; now there will be something else to do with your life other than searching for love.
To work on gaining knowledge about ourselves, we use every possible means: emotional methods, energetic methods, psychological methods. We need to sharpen our capacity to learn, our ability to investigate, to see, to understand, and to know. We need to learn how to learn. Then we can go on finding out who we are, what’s really there, what life is about, what is really good, what we are supposed to go after.”