Our First Nature
Lately, I’ve been hanging out at the corner of 62nd and College watching life like a mountain stream flowing by bearing passing greetings with the autumn leaves. And there’s the occasional friendly meeting too, where a bunch of us get caught in a swirling backwater for a few moments, circling in convivial chatter. We whirl together, gain a certain momentum from the pause, then re-enter our life-flow. Some, indeed most of us, get busy again swimming upstream, against the current ( if only in our minds!) That’s okay too; it’s our second nature to try to shape the chaos we find ourselves in with our Plans. After all, where –and who – would we be without ‘em? Nowhere and nobody?
The poet Pablo Neruda, in his book Keeping Quiet, says this about that: “ If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves…” In our rare quiet moments, it can be useful to explore the nature of this “huge silence”, to prod and poke at Reality sans plans, sans our ideas about it. It is at these times we may glimpse our First Nature.
“Nobody is lost in reality. You’re only lost in your dreams. That is, your thinking.”
Our first nature precedes but does not preclude our second nature. That is to say, our first nature is that which is the source, which gives life to our body/mind and all its subsequent assumptions and proposals about the world we think we live in, i.e. our familiar and comfortable “second” nature. So our first nature is simple awareness. It is Reality stripped and laid bare, free of the ten thousand ways we humans decorate it with wispy thoughts and fleeting feelings. It is permanent, as in “Eternal”, real, as in “what is” and undying, as in “infinite”. Our first nature is that which lies way beyond words, which Adyashanti calls “ a useful fiction”. Useful to a point where all words hesitate and dare not enter.
It’s second nature for us to experience illusion and believe it is real and true. To take our fragmented and loosely assembled self-constructs and other-constructs for real; to divide and mistake the parts for the whole.
Our first nature recognizes and encompasses all that has become second nature, i.e. the limited and relative, plus it also includes the unlimited and the absolute. The Two are One, not because we think so, but because they actually are the way it is. We have a oneness then that is as inseparate as the moon reflected on the ocean; the real and the unreal, the manifest within the unmanifest, all “hand – in – glove”. And here’s the kicker –we are expressing the totality of what we are whether we recognize it or not. When we do not see this we suffer all the delusions man is heir to; when we do see into the depth of our being we recognize that all our body/mind activity is like superficial waves on the surface. We are both water and wave. Our two apparent natures are One, and our life is as it always is – a flow of time within the timeless.