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
“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.”
I like how Blavatsky uses the word ‘wish’ when she describes the opportunity that awaits each of us at the start of a new year. A wish is different from a desire, or an idea in the mind about what we think we want. The word wish connotes a blending — not exactly a desire, not exactly a prayer — but something in-between. A silent ceremony that occurs between one’s soul (the personal experience of presence) and one’s Being (one’s existence and presence as the divine).
The fascinating fact about Being is that Being is not intrinsically involved with wanting, desiring or wishing. It’s much more immediate, beyond the confines of time and space. It is simply Being. As presence that is fully present, Being is simply being. Although our soul can register Being as being involved in the process of thinking about the past, registering the present and looking towards the future — objectively, Being is only about being. All the beauty, fulfillment and freedom that the ego dreams about ‘someday achieving’ is all contained, now, within the present-time experience of Being. So there’s nowhere to venture, nothing to get. This is very disturbing to the usual, conventional, ego-based sense of self.
The start of a new year is often a trap for us, because there are such high expectations for experiencing opportunities to do or be something new and different. Resolutions are made, lists are written. The habits we want to lose are noted, the skills we want to develop are highlighted. But within all of that resolving and planning we miss the most important part of what the new year symbolizes — what it is really about. Namely, the opportunity to partake of another cycle of the earth moving around the sun, from solstice to solstice. Another year to experience the mystery of Being. Read more
I’m back from a long, extremely hot, nine-day Ridhwan retreat on Maui. Believe it or not, I had a hard time uprooting myself from Vashon to head to the Valley Isle. Summer was just beginning to bloom in Washington, and folks who live here know that when summer starts displaying the goods, you gotta savor each golden day. Still, I made it to Hawai’i.
The retreat’s theme, the material presented, was incredibly challenging to articulate, and once again I’m in awe of the teachers’ focus and presence. Guidance on the subject of absence can easily devolve into acid trip-like meanderings (ask anyone that’s ever attended a bad Buddhist retreat on the subject). But our teachers’ transmission was crystalline, palpable and impacted me in a profoundly deep way.
This is all part and parcel of the process of the attempts to understand absence. The mind can’t absorb and hold on to the concept of emptiness because the observed and the perception of what is observed (in absence) are one and the same — there is no mind present, weighing and touching and parceling reality into familiar boxes. In fact ‘you’ aren’t even there to ‘have’ the experience — and yet there is the moment. So you can see the mindfuck of the whole subject.
But rather than ramble any further I’ll shift gears and go to a segment of one of Mary Oliver‘s poems, What Is There Beyond Knowing? — one of my favorites. Poetry being a fine way to trace the mind’s finger against the outline of emptiness (which is the best the mind can do — poor thing). Read more