glad tidings of great joy

For the intrepid bunch of readers who find their way, now and then, to this blog  –  this little Christmas story is my gift to you, with love and gratitude.
 

 Mosaic of the Three Wise Men, Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, 1st Century AD

 

Once upon a time in the wondrous world of Mind there lived three powerful Kings.  (Yes, I know what you’re expecting – it being this time of year and all – but this is my story and I have artistic license to twist the tale.)  I’m calling these mad monarchs Me, Myself and Mine, and naturally enough, their respective Kingdoms bear the same names.  They enjoyed unchallenged rulership, and seldom warred with each other as they were too busy making sure their own realms stayed dysfunctional.

Now, although their names might elicit a negative response from those of us who are onto the mirage of the ME, they were actually very Wise Men, because they intuited that they were only actors in some weird kind of dream.  They sensed they were mere puppets and they wanted to know who or what the Dream Director might be.

After many bi-hemispheric conferences and neo-cortical dialogues the three Kings came to consensus.  They had inquired deeply and had found that whatever actions they performed – whether kindly or cruel – there was a clear, luminous Awareness present that never ever changed.  They found that it wasn’t possible to separate out from this Awareness in order to observe It, and that It could only be known by falling into It and being It.

They decided to call this Awareness the Great Light in the East (because, like the sun, it makes mincemeat of darkness).

Then the Kings made a pact:  they would take a journey together – they would experiment with this Great Light.  They would follow It simply by Being It, and see what might happen.

Well as everyone knows, it didn’t take long…

The Great Light of Being brought them to a place within themselves that was deliciously quiet, humble, and unadorned by thought.  We’ll call it the Heart, although in another version of this story it’s called a stable.

And as the Kings entered this inner chamber called Heart, they found – each in their own way – their Christ Child awaiting them:  unborn, unconditioned, unsullied, unchanging; the sweetest Love they had ever known.

And the Kings hopped off their hobbyhorses and fell upon their knees.  They offered their Kingdoms to the Innocent One:  Me, Myself and Mine.  And these gifts were more priceless to the Child than Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, for as far as He was concerned, the gift beyond price was the Kings’ heart-felt humility.

No one really knows what happened to the three Kings after that, but in my story they went back to their Kingdoms with new names:  Awake, Aware and Alight.  And they brought glad tidings of great joy to their Kingdoms for ever and ever after.

– miriam louisa


Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee…and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising…all they from Seba and Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth praises of the Lord. (Isaiah 60:1-6).


the universe arises in your light

The entire world is your eyes;

the entire universe is your complete body;

the entire universe is your luminance;

the entire universe is within your own luminance.

 

cosmos-light

 

OK.  Let’s take this seriously.  (Sez she to herself.)

The entire world is your eyes; not ‘in’ my eyes, but ‘is’ my eyes. The world in its entirety. Not selected, censored, comfortable bits of the world. Not just the light and lovely bits. All of it.

How can one fully grok this statement? Well, I don’t think it’s possible without accepting that aside from the consciousness / awareness that perceives “the entire world”, we cannot prove that it even exists.  Take away the conscious awareness of every sentient creature. What remains? Who knows? Who’s left to know? The world becomes a metaphysical assumption. (Which it already is, but we don’t acknowledge it.)

This inquiry starts off as an intellectual philosophical game but very soon runs headlong into the proverbial brick wall. It’s actually the simplest and most obvious of understandings, yet it remains in the too hard basket for most of us.

But just suppose you’ve ‘got’ it – intellectually first, then somatically. It’s a body-mind awakening for you: Awareness is all that you can truthfully claim exists. No matter how cunningly you track your thoughts, feelings and experiences, you always end up finding their existence is inseparable from Awareness itself. Try it. You’ll find that the whole world arises within this no-thing called ‘me’, within its capacity for Knowing. Not only the whole world, but the entire universe and all other possible universes. Awesome.

the entire universe is your complete body; complete, mind you. Not just the holy bits, the well-behaved bits, the bits that one approves of. This body is the only body: temporally, historically it enfolds every creature, human and non-human that has ever lived. Jesus is there, Buddha and Allah too, and also the fellows who were mean and ugly and murderous. Spatially it embraces the most distant clusters of star dust in the known cosmos. Your body: how can you claim to know whence it came and how it will evolve and mutate in the deathless dance of the cosmos?

the entire universe is your luminance;  I love statements like this (perhaps you’ve noticed?) because it was one of these pithy mind-benders that shouted itself into this brain years ago and set a terrorist loose among the neurones. Your luminance. Yours, mine, and that of every sentient soul. “Brighter than a thousand suns”, the Vedas tell us. I say brighter than any imaginable number of suns – trillions, mega-trillions. How can I say this? Because, without the light of  Awareness that ‘I’ is, not even one tiny sunbeam could be perceived and known.

But there’s more: the entire universe is within your own luminance. There’s the knock-out bell; you’ll never get up from that curly hit without feeling utterly punch-drunk. Within. That means inside. Not out there, safely out of your control or influence. In here. In this cosmic body, in this unimaginable mind. In one fell swoop all one’s notions of helplessness and blame are obliterated. Responsibility rules. (The ability to respond.) If it’s all within my own luminance, it’s all my responsibility. Except of course, that it’s not mine. It’s the completely impersonal movement of that cosmic, luminous universe that is myself.

I repeat: awesome.

– miriam louisa


Quote from Zen Dust: The History of the Koan and Koan Study in Rinzai (Lin-Chi) Zen by Isshu Miura and Ruth F. Sasaki (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966).


Image source unknown; please notify if it’s yours and credit will be given. Thanks.


 

free-falling through the fantasy factory

This Unlit Light: free-falling through the fantasy factory

 

Kabir’s poem brought up reflections on the day “the Day came” here. It was a far cry from Kabir’s bliss; no soul-drenching, no showers of love or abundance, no sense of glorious renewal for this brain. That would all come later, years later. But the catastrophic Day is etched in memory. There would be no going back. It marked the end of a way of being in the world. Searching for an analogy … I felt like a penny free-falling through a slot machine.

Although the free-fall itself happened instantaneously and spontaneously, there had been ‘stages’ where the penny would land on a level and spin or wobble for some time. The initial tumble occurred some time before the fluid free-fall which the notes attempt to express.

First the penny fell hard onto an existential plateau when I failed to find any argument to refute the fact that nothing whatsoever can be proved to have any existence apart from the sensorial technologies in the body/brain of a sentient creature.

It spun around there then toppled further when I failed to find evidence of anything other than the functions of consciousness anywhere.

Eventually it fell clear through the works with the logical conclusion that my own independent existence, and likewise the existence of all ‘others’, could be, therefore, nothing but a concept in consciousness.

These three metaphysical notions had been orbiting my brain for many years, and were understood at some intellectual level. I was quite comfortable with them, but the penny had remained safely in the purse.

Without going into details, the Rubicon had been reached via some pretty difficult times, and ripeness must have been ready. I was thousands of miles from my work, colleagues and friends. I was hobbled by an old injury and forced into both stillness and silence. My brilliant life was in shreds, a relic lost in the dark recesses of my brain.

A huge ‘letting-go’ of the old ‘me’ story was called for, and it happened. It happened spontaneously and without volition on my part.

When the penny fell clear through, it took the bottom of my gut with it. I felt like throwing up. I got up from my zafu and said to myself: Well then, old girl, that’s it! No one here. No one to suffer. No one to be depressed. No one to beat up. No one to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone … ha!

First there was a kind of numbness, shock. A feeling of disorientation. A feeling of falling into an inner vortex. Then, an opening out into unbelievably serene spaciousness. Oceanic.

No sense of a center, and no opacity.

I’ve no idea what had happened. It seemed that there had been a brain-leap … yet time and space weren’t involved in any way. It was like an instantaneous interior reorganizing of information. I repeat: it had nothing to do with any effort on my part.

The how and the why of it remain a mystery. But many brain files were trashed – one is only aware of this when habit reaches for them and finds them gone; a giddy moment flashes, vanishes.

~

An entity is defined as a thing that has real existence. I thought I was an entity. Doesn’t everyone?

But to be a thing, an object needs a subject to recognize it as a ‘thing’. If I’m an object with real existence, what’s the subject that’s recognizing me?

If I turn around to examine this subject I immediately find it has turned into another object being observed, recognized, by the same subject!

If I stop this lunacy, what remains?

If I stay still, not moving a millimeter into rationalization or conceptualization, if I track that which I believe myself to be in its every movement, if I watch that notion of a self with all its ideas, it reveals itself to be – merely another concept.

I find that there is only awareness – unchanging, ubiquitous, knowing no duality, holding no opinions or beliefs, experiencing no emotion – and no independent entity whatsoever to be found.

There’s just observe-ing, just perceive-ing, just recognize-ing, just a changeless functioning. That’s all.

Life has never been the same since that Day. And yet, it is exactly the same. The ups and downs float by, equanimity visits on occasion; it all depends on how the story tells itself.

Without a past to identify with or a future to attain, the Awareness that lives this body-mind watches the play of existence, as it arises in Itself.

This is a story without beginning or end.

– miriam louisa


An extract from the echoes from emptiness blog, where the notes – written daily for one year following the free-fall – are being posted retrospectively.


always I shine

Experience seeking is natural. It’s all we know how to do, until and unless we come to understand that experiences (no matter how profound or blissful) come and go, but the truth, which is ever present, and totally accessible here and now, does not come and go. It cannot.

So, if one has an experience, and it goes, then my advice would be to try and find out, who is it this experience occurred to? Is there ‘someone’ always there? That’s the first step, the first question, in atma vichara, (inquiry into the nature of the self.)

Always I am
Always I shine

(from Advaita Makaranda [the Nectar of Nonduality])

~ Durga


Find Durga’s complete article at The Nonduality Highlights #3607


shortcut to heaven

This Unlit Light: Georgia O'Keeffe - Ladder to Heaven

 
Here’s the secret.

It’s totally open and available to everyone, yet it seems to be the last thing one can accept. (Too simple, to easy, too immediate!)

Creep up with cunning on anything you can see, feel, think, believe or do.

(You must be cunning because the default position is to be blindly absorbed in the “anything.”)

Ask yourself: Is this an experience?

It’s not a trick question.  It just wants a simple answer: yes or no.

If your answer is yes, fine.  Enjoy your experience and whatever it brings.

But just be aware of this: the joy and peace and freedom you seek cannot be experienced.

This is a kind of a koan. Keep chewing it. The sense of its nonsense will never be known, but a eureka moment is in the wings.

– miriam louisa


Image: Georgia O’Keeffe – Ladder to Heaven


the awakened eye

the awakened eye is the eye that perceives without labeling
– we could also call it the innocent eye,
or the eye of beginner’s mind

[This is where I put on another cap – the one that’s splashed with color and whiffy with linseed oil.  Since some of you might well be artists too, I’m posting these links for you.  I hope you’ll visit the website and its blog.]

Many artists and artisans have understood that the practice of drawing, and engaging in creative encounters in the visual arts, can – by making explicit one’s conditioned responses – open the mind to another way of seeing, a way that transcends habitual dualistic assumptions.

Nondual awareness occurs when consciousness is no longer divided into subject and object; when an inexplicable wholeness pervades and one’s actions flow seamlessly from and as that Oneness.  Yet we have no language with which to speak of this seamlessness – even the phrase “encounters with nondual awareness” (the site’s subtitle) invites confusion, for, within the encounter there is no entity separate from that nonduality.  Logically and experientially it is impossible to speak of subject and object, and yet speak one must.

Throughout history there have been – and still are – many wise teachers who speak of this transcendence of duality as one’s original nature – an a-priori ‘beingness’ which we seem compelled to simultaneously seek and reject.  Their teachings are sometimes referred to as advaita, which means “one without a second” – or more simply, nonduality.  Regarded in this wider context the awakened eye is synonymous with the awakened I.

the awakened eye website and its blog have been conceived as places where ideas and teachings on this topic put forward by artists, educators, scientists, philosophers, sages and saints, can be accessed; a rich and varied smorgasbord of offerings.  No claim that the visual arts have exclusive rights to either the ‘eye’ or the ‘I’ that awakens is being put forward – they simply happen to make up my personal creative milieu, the playground in which I first encountered the mysterious merging and began a lifelong attempt to make sense of it.  Writers, poets, athletes and performers are similarly familiar with this experience of merging, often referring to it as flow.  Indeed it seems so common in human experience that it can hardly be seen as unusual.  Why then, is it so elusive for most of us?  Why does it vanish the minute it’s stalked?

Read more at the awakened eye …

Your comments and feedback are very welcome.  Enjoy!

an impossible question

I’ve been asked for more info about the ‘who and why?’ of this blog, so I’ve added a few sentences to that page.

I had written:

I write because I like to read what gets written.  Same reason I paint, and make things.  Because I want to see what will happen.  What will appear.  What will amaze.

This is what I added:

It was not always so simple.  There used to be a ‘doer’ person here who needed to be, and thought she was, in control. But life kept undermining that assumption, particularly in the studio.  So often the ‘doer’ (artist) dis-appeared and in its place a totally non-personal gracious, fluid, movement of creativity was operating.  Whenever I tried to scrutinize this movement it ceased.  It was a tantalizing koan for me.  If I wasn’t in control, what was?

Decades passed.  Eventually my inquiry was seen to be an “impossible question”.  It could not be answered by any kind of rationalizing or conceptualizing because as soon as those tools were applied they hit a brick wall.  Whatever was doing the thinking seemed to be the core of the problem.  So I had to find out whether the ‘thinker’ was independent of the thoughts that kept spinning around the question.

What that amounted to, was finding out whether the self I took myself to be was real, or ‘thought up’,  imaginary.

The self I took myself to be never survived the scrutiny.  It simply couldn’t be found.  In its place there was simply an ineffable flow of being, a beingness that was inseparable from its own self-awareness.  It is embraced – by itself, it is beloved – by itself.  It is known – by itself – as this unlit light.