NATURAL WELL-BEING: Action and Activity
(FIELD NOTES: III)
All paths are formulated along “desire lines” to get one to go somewhere other than here. They lead away from the truth we already are. (Field note, May 3/12)
I saw a sign at the foot of an old wooden outside stairway the other day; it read: “Watch your head – low branch hanging over stairs!” I noted it then and now with a sense of irony as I reflected on my own apparent climbing of “the stairway to heaven” mostly led by my head! Indeed, most of our spiritual search is based on heady ideas or ideals – an apparent climbing, or as we like to think “ascending” –to an ultimate high place where at last we can rest in a kind of Nirvana. From our giddy perch above, we can then survey the steps below with a sense of satisfied accomplishment. That passes soon enough – we see new steps must be taken! – and we step up our efforts by climbing higher. That is, until and unless we are graced with hitting our head hard against some massive limb of an overhanging Reality! In my case, after decades of “climbing” activity, that was an opportune time to actually stop, sit on the steps and reflect a little on the nature of activity and action. And to pose the question: “where do I think I’m going?”
Truth in action
All activity is based on becoming. It is motivated by mind activity – a constant movement to and fro from past to future. The past of course is based on fragmented memory which in turn projects our fragmented future. I use the term “our” future to delineate the way we personalize all our experience. Indeed the human mind and its “mind view” creates the personal world which we think we inhabit. This personal life is filled with “personal” problems. Problems that are not implicit necessarily in our actual life but which the mind constantly foresees.
The dye was cast for this predominant role of our mind in the making of our reality with notions such as this from Confucius: “All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by their right name.”
Confucius went on to say that “…when things are properly identified they fall into natural categories and understanding becomes orderly”. Now of course, from the mind perspective, all of this makes common sense and our knowledge base is expanded. This base of labeled reality becomes the foundation on which we build our personal life. We become, in our head, this complex and isolated critter called “me” which in turn, sets up the concept of a separate “you”.
This mindset breeds the corporate dead hand of much of contemporary living – producing automatons sharing a common and deeply conflicted experience of life and living.
Life in action.
All roads to living this truth which we are lead us out of Conceptville. We come to see the nature of action arises from an impersonal wisdom far greater than our mind. First and foremost, we come to see that all action (versus activity) is always now and immediate. It flows – it moves in its own mysterious way. In aware living we become part of this movement itself. More accurately, we are this movement.
Ramana Maharshi : “To cease regarding as real, that which is unreal. That is all we need to attain wisdom”. This is an act of wisdom that recognizes the nature and limitations of all thought – all those calculations and rehearsals, studied sympathies and agreed empathies that have us nodding in trance. Real action has no experience or experiencer – it leaves no residue. It happens. This happening is natural and it arises from the moment, in the moment. It dissolves immediately, leaving no residue or “memory” attached to it.
Real action is always appropriate to the situation as it presents itself. Real action is the cutting-edge of our life. When we live it in a “headless” way, it is constantly startling! (And occasionally it may seem boring too.) We see and know and feel and taste and touch in a fresh way, free of all labeling of life as a series of mundane experiences. We’re simultaneously open and opening, resting easily, naturally, in this vivid being. And we learn to live freely, in a “meaningless” way that is directly aligned to the moment – to – moment unfolding of this that is. We see and dismiss all thoughts and distractions, and we rest in an alert awareness of them, knowing that the nature of things is to return to silence. In truth, this returning turns out to be a non-movement movement, for we never actually leave what we are. Seeing this permanence of our natural and present being, we come fully into a new and palpable sense of the nature of trust. Or more accurately, trusting.
We trust in spirit. We trust in life. We trust in love. From this time-less, trusting place, there is a lot less drama in everyday experience.There is less habitual activity and much more action. Constantly refreshed and refreshing, this trusting action sans activity unfolds and reveals itself to be life living naturally in an ambient peace and harmony.
We relax our grip and immediately settle into the ground of our being –that pool of infinite stillness at the heart of all action.