A MISPLACED SELF.
“Everywhere joy in relation and nowhere grasping;
world in abundance and earth enough.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Sometimes, I write to weep, and sometimes to sing, but always to explore reality. To explore this joy, this aliveness…to celebrate all that life offers up moment to moment, day to day. I take particular joy in transience, in wandering through this vast uncertainty. I am relieved now, of all the virtual Virtues I was schooled in; there is no need to act “as if” I loved someone, “as if” I cared for others; “as if” I know, “as if” I will know. This love is content in not knowing and in simply being.
I find I have not so much vacated the mind, as abandoned it. It’s like a house in which I used to live and which for years I tried to remodel, to let in more light, more space with “knowledge”. To add more rooms, more windows, more doors with “experience” – all the renovations I thought would open to views of a very pleasant garden!
Then one day, one mindless moment, I was tossed out of my familiar place in which I’d mentally resided for decades. And the beauty of it all now is that I’m an occasional visitor there. I don’t live there anymore. More accurately, there is no “me” residing in Memory House.
It all happened when I realized that, like you, I simply, innocently, misplaced my Self. To quote Alan Watts from forty years ago: “The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent and isolated ego.” Of course, that was the Seventies right, and we have come such a long way since then, right? Well no, we’re as misplaced as ever, as taboo – dominated as ever.
But our misplaced self is not lost – just misplaced! And not so much misplaced in Time, as in Mind. Our mind places us in time; it establishes this personal “Me”, in concept and context, “as if” separate things exist in isolation. This missed – understanding takes us over from childhood in what Watts calls “the ego trick”…
“Children are in touch with paradise to the extent that they have not fully learned the ego – trick.”
Ah, remember that? We all do, and welcome to that race to be Human we all enter so innocently! Because, of course, we are human, complete with all the body/mind experiences we call our “life.” We, you and I, experience – through our inborn ability to discriminate, to sort and arrange our personal “take” on things, the appearance of a real if only partial view of life and living. We peer through the key-hole in the gate that has been fashioned for us by our genes and conditioning, our time and place.
But we can see more! Not by making the key-hole bigger, but by stepping back to see. I’m reminded of the time I actually looked through a key-hole in an ancient gate high on a hill in Rome to view the golden dome of St. Peters Basilica. What a sight! But what’s more, after stepping back across the street and turning to look at the whole gate, a whole new world was revealed! I saw the panoramic and breath-taking magnificence of all of ancient Rome spread out before me!
Stepping back, lifting our eyes, happens to us naturally, or not at all. We cannot “do” it, like crossing the street in our mind. We cross that street when we step back from the body/mind trick and see that which beholds. That “I”of the beholder that surveys from wholeness and sees the human from the Divine. From there, from this ground of Being which we are, we see. Our looking ripens things, and they come forward to meet and be met, spirit-to-spirit.