(Part two: ALWAYS HERE)
THE FEAST OF LIFE
A mind-sourced life is the way most of us live our entire lives. Like Cinderella, we rarely get invited to the Ball – to this Feast of Life. Most of us will run through the corridors of our mind
looking at our own portraits of reality as we pass. Only rarely are we called to pause and ponder and look outside the hall window to get a more complete picture of things as they are.
From early childhood to elderhood, the arc of our life takes us away from our unconflicted self nature to take up a long residence in a picturesque place called Storyland. We join our brothers and sisters living in a collective, mind-made fog of conflicted pleasures with inflicted pains. That of course, breeds a great desire for us to get out of town – to hop on an imaginary bus – any bus that says it’s going to “Elsewhere.” Somewhere along the line, in our desire to be elsewhere, some of us pass through the Vale of Travail with very little water – that is “truth”, to keep us alive. We’re entranced by what seems to be our very own mind and body, and we spend our time sifting and sorting stacks and stacks of misperceived and misconceived questions about what is actually, factually going on here.
Q: Who am I in my mind? A: Whatever I think I am.
Q: Who am I outside my mind? A: Whatever I’m told I am.
In fact, we spend an entire life-time avoiding the really big question: who am I without my mind? Without those ideas and ideals, those beliefs and doubts, those memories and stories? Without those preserved and protected images of a “Me” that we highly suspect are not me?
And then it happens that, once upon a time, (as the story goes) our curtained, mind-view of everything, gets pulled back all the way, and some real light gets in! We step outside the story about living, and into the real Feast!
In aware living, there is no dining out on the past or the future. Contrary to what the mind often suggests about somewhere else, the feast of life we actually can attend is always and only here. Our being does not get fed by thoughts of becoming nor do we dine on yesterdays bread which is stale the instant that memory serves it up. In fact, even as we give voice to an idea – to our stories about the past, it is a referencing to something that has already gone. Never mind, we’ll press on with our story!
The Story of life
My story is your story. It’s the story of all mankind, of all the kinds of men or women we imagine and insist we are. In truth, there is no me or you, and no real story. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been hesitating so much to write this “My Story” part here. It seems so obviously invented, so manufactured, so much like lying to sit here and think up what happened, knowing clearly that it’s all bullshit, if you know what I mean? (And I know you do.)
On top of all this hesitation, there’s a realization that things are changing here all the while; that these and all words are misleading in themselves, but also, simultaneously, there continues to be an expanding of this awareness of being and its nature – to express itself. How? Who knows? Writing continues, so I continue to write.
With that expression comes more new discoveries followed by a kind of interior murmuring that can only mentally note, after the fact. It’s a commenting voice that seems to always be catching up to the activity of Now, to the revelation of this dance we’re dancing. It says “oh, of course, I see that!” It’s a gentle knowing sans judging which is hard to describe, but one which we all know none the less.
So what’s my story?
What’s going on here?
I don’t know about you, but all my life since I was a little kid, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on here? I remember that early, innocent version of “me”, looking all around the schoolyard and wondering “what is this all about?” Not in so many words, but more like Alice in Wonderland, who got “curiouser and curiouser.”
I soon learned that this joy in curiosity and marvelous wonder wasn’t enough; that simply being was insufficient and that I should know what’s going on. So there was a loss of innocence, a “growing up” like I saw around me. I watched and noted which acts and attitudes were considered “ liked, admired and welcomed” and which were not. In short, there was a tuning-in to how this critter called “James” could best survive and prosper. Not consciously, but innocently, carefully, cautiously, there was this assembling of who I am. Not of an imaginary “James”, it was thought, but of a real somebody with distinguishing and desirable qualities. Me, James. But all the while, heh, I kinda wondered about it, you know?
A favored life.
Anyway, there was this innocent process of selection for survival – what to leave in and what to leave out. And at the end of the day, what was left in was this created and fragmentary self, this story self that my parents and friends could relate to and like well enough. What was left out was my Self – this already complete and full non-identity. For sufficiency, insufficiency was substituted. For no favorites, favorites were introduced. For reality, pseudo reality became “my” reality.
All that went on and on for decades and decades, and I will spare you the detailed suffering that resulted because you already know all about that, right? Let’s just say that the maintenance costs to keep this enormous structure air borne, including my mighty spiritual eagle…er, ego, that soared up, up and away into the heavens, was very high!
Let’s fast forward to when it all came crashing down!
Now here, at the point of a personal 9/11, words also collapse, are reduced like “me” to skin and bones. Let’s just say that my ego carcass and its world, which I thought was “me” and “mine,” painfully plummeted to the ground and was precisely picked apart by the crows of reality with sharp beaks strong as truth!
A mindless allowing.
Honestly, it wasn’t that much of a drama. It happened quite simply. I had quit a decades-long spiritual search, was sitting silently at a sangha, tired, limp and empty, listening (but apparently not “listening” with the mind) to Adyashanti at my third satang ever, in Oakland. In storied hindsight, let me put it this way: there was a looking away, a mindless allowing which had not occurred before, accompanied with a sudden cognition and simple recognition – a knowing, that this that is solid, simple and obvious – is reality.
It is simple, sudden, brief in this case, and totally revolutionary. There’s a knowing that there is no seer or seen, only seeing; that all life is at once, both empty of illusion and full of being.
There was, and remains, this vanishing point where it is seen clearly that “I” do not exist; that it was all in my mind. All of it! That was followed by a peace that does, indeed, “surpass all understanding” and about which I daily marvel! And about which, it seems, I am drawn to write.
Since that divine, timeless time, there has been and continues to be, an unfolding of that recognition moment-to-moment; a revealing of how spirit itself moves from necessity in all its expressions. Quite simply, it leads, I follow.
The Spirit of life.
There is a movement in stillness, a living in aliveness, that is at once alert and accepting of whatever is occurring, as it occurs. As Adyashanti put it: “There’s awareness, and the content of it.” Fresh, alive living – life experiencing life .
That’s my abiding interest! The world is the same, of course, except it seems to be going on quite well without me. Or my thoughts about it. It’s kinda like there’s a TV almost constantly “on” in the corner. It keeps trying to narrate a story about what’s going on. Usually, I don’t believe its story; occasionally, it happens that “I” – the otherwise dormant mind-conception of “me” gets a grip, is thought to be real. That passes when it is seen to be what it is.
So what seems to be happening these days, is a gradual –sometimes sudden – re-cognition that what I thought to be true is just that – thought.
These days, I get caught believing a thought less and less. It’s a moment-to-moment thing though; there’s the seeing of the mind-thought and the instant discarding of it in favor of what’s actually going on here and now. Except when there isn’t! And that’s when things also get… interesting! It’s kinda like watching life as a movie; now and then I get to “believing it” –actually thinking I believe I know what’s happening! That is seen, sometimes now, sometimes later, but always… well, almost!…who knows what will happen?
Now there’s a kind of engaged disengagement. Life and living is not personal and yet it is deeply, intimately personal. “My” hands are off the wheel; there’s this movement without my direction. It’s all an exploration of a known and unknown territory, an expanding of this awareness that we all are way beyond the limitations of anything the me-mind ever dreamt up! There’s no “James” – that’s been replaced by truth. And there’s the curious expression of this selfless self, with no one to know, much less revel, in it all. Sounds depressing to ego, but actually, there’s limitless joy!
Currently, there’s less and less interest in the minds’ stories; in looking at life from a conditioned, conflicted and divided mind. All that’s left is all there is – an unedited, unfiltered here/now.
I don’t want to say too much more here; the egoic mind –yours and mine – makes something out of no-thing, this simple, regular, normal, alive and prescient knowing which you already know you are!
So we’ll skip to a few bottom lines:
There never was, never is and never will be, a real person who makes real choices.
through love’s eyes.
seeing only love.
There’s this living
mystery of One Immensity
Aware of its self
in movement and rest