And there was endlessness

The wholeness of undivided, intimate attention – an awareing that has no boundaries, no sense of separation, where observer and observed are both obliterated in a single movement of observing – is the subject of one of Denise Levertov‘s last poems, First Love.  The whole poem is sublime, but the final few lines speak so powerfully to me that I’m singling them out for this post.

It seems to me that one taste of that timelessness changes everything. This is not some cunning escape into yet another thought-bubble; not some desperate effort to transcend one’s mediocre little life. This is an experienced glimpse of another order of relationship. Haven’t we all had this glimpse? For me, it took hold of the steering wheel and has driven the trajectory of my life.

Through the entirety of your lifetime, what is it that you’ve deeply desired?

What has been – is – the Great Motivator of your days?

 

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)

 
 
[…]

`Convolvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.

It looked at me, I looked
back, delight
filled me as if
I, not the flower,
were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlesness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving, the wholeness
of that attention,
that once-in-a-lifetime
secret communion.

 

– Denise Levertov, from First Love
 in This Great Unknowing, Last Poems

 


Painting by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Morning Glories (Convolvulus)


 

the body is the breath of the universe

While it’s unarguable that any facet of our existence could ever be separate from Primordial Awareness, we are deeply conditioned to believe that the undesirable aspects of experience, and especially the mouldy contents of the compost heap called the unconscious, can’t possibly be valid components of Ultimate Reality.  It’s deeply heartening to see this illogical, fragmented view being explored and corrected sensitively and wisely by teachers like Ellen Emmet.

Ellen’s beautiful article was originally posted on contemplativejornal.com, under the title The Sacred Body: Returning Our Experience to Its True Source and Substance of Awareness.

Gratitude!


a child explores wild spaces...

She runs down a hill. Warm air caresses her skin, and the pounding of feet on earth bring an intoxicating counterpoint to the expanding of her heart. Her body unravels like threads of light into the the surrounding space, and in a moment out of time, she surrenders into its open embrace. The liquid dancing world anoints her vibrating body with its loving substance … 

We all remember blessed moments in which our true nature of pure undivided and universal Awareness echoes at the emotional, tactile and sensual levels of experience. Our body then is felt to be transparent, without borders, suffused with a subtle quality of vibrating sensitivity. It feels less personal yet shares itself intimately with all that is met.

For most of us however the body has been deeply and lastingly conditioned by the belief that “I” refers to an individual and limited person, located inside a body, separate from others and from the world out there. Thus the feeling of the body is rooted in a set of repetitive psychosomatic habits, creating feelings of solidity, density, emotional inertia and contraction designed to validate and perpetuate the projected image of the “I” that seems to live at its center, with one’s past and future on either side. Such a body’s inherited dynamism is ruled by the complex and restrictive impulses to protect, defend or affirm itself.

In this way, the body-mind seems to become the envelope or the cage in which “I” appear to live in and the stuff that “I” seem to be made of, whilst the real “I” of undivided Awareness seems to have shrunk itself into confinement, limitation and fragmentation.

When we awaken to our true nature of Awareness in the presence of a teacher or of a teaching, we submit our thinking rational mind to the pure light of intelligence that is its source and substance.

With open, limitless Awareness as our invisible reference, we hear and understand that the ordinary awareness that is perceiving whatever is perceived in this very moment, “I”, is not contained within a body or located in time and space. We hear and understand that “I” is the Open Awareness in which all experience arises unfolds and dissolves, including thoughts, sensations, feelings and perceptions (mind, body and world.) We hear and understand that this Awareness is not a perceived experience, yet is that which perceives all experience, and is not an object, yet is found at the heart of all experience as its only and invisible substance.

My identity fits not in any name or form. Nor am I held captive between birth and death.

I am not the blood that runs through my veins or the warm breath that flows through my nostrils or the mouth that breaths. I am not the memory of myself or the hopes that skips like stones into the future. Past and future ripple through me as the wind of time, whilst space is the echo of my infinity. I am not this I am not this I am not this, yet I am the lover of all things, and find myself at the heart of all that has a name and form.

However, it is important to further deepen our exploration to include the level of feelings, sensation, tactility and perception. Taking our stand as the field of open Awareness in which all experience arises, we listen to our experience of the body directly, as if for the first time, free of any labels, without any mediation from the past or any agenda for the future. We take our time, descending below the threshold of rational experience, allowing thought to relax in the background whilst opening to the flow of tactile sensation and subtle vibration that is our actual bodily experience. We are invited to see and feel that the body flows through myself, Awareness, as does all experience.

When the welcoming of the body is open, uninvolved and global, it is as if the body like a frightened animal feels an unconditional invitation to come out into the open space.

In this friendly loving field, the body stands naked and naturally begins to liberate what it had been holding in and as itself: the crystallized energy of separation that lives as layers of contraction and tension in the cellular, muscular skeletal and nervous systems of the body.

As the body unravels in this way, the “me” charge that lives embedded in its layers is returned to the openness of Awareness.

Gradually the body is left free to open to, relax into and reunite with the openness that surrounds it. It is as if each feeling and sensation like an offering, gives itself back to the invisible altar of Awareness, telling its true story on the way. In time this allows a gentle and natural realignment with the felt understanding that the body’s essential nature is this very openness.

When I make of my body a thousand paint brushes dipped in gold

Everything takes on the form of you

And buries itself in my heart to make it bigger and softer

So that the world can overflow from it endlessly and everywhere

Returning ordinary days to infinite life

Over and over in this exploration, for which we may use guided meditation, postures, visualisations movement and breath, we are led to see and feel that in truth we cannot say that a sensation appears in “my” body, just as a sound does not appear in the world out there and a thought is not to be found inside a head. We see rather that sensation, thought and sound all appear in myself, non-located open Awareness without any separate individual existence of a body mind or world.

Over and over again we realize that like sounds and thoughts, the bodily feelings and sensations are subtle in nature. They are not solid or tangible cannot be held or measured. Rather they are like vibrating ripples appearing on the surface of myself, intimately one with myself, made of my own invisible substance. We feel and know that the body is the openness that “I” am.

Unlike most of the conventional approaches to the body that are taught in the world, this one is not a pragmatic endeavour intended towards the physical or energy body, to increase well-being, strength or flexibility, or even encourage expansive states of consciousness.

Rather it is a sacred and devotional practice that surrenders the body back towards into its source of Open Awareness: what we only and always are.

Every time the offering is made, the body is returned as it truly is, limitless, transparent, relaxed easeful and loving. It is realized as the very breath of the universe.

– Ellen Emmet

www.ellenemmet.com


News about upcoming events, from Ellen’s newsletter:

The Awakening Body: A residential/non-residential weekend retreat in Mill Valley:
Friday 14th October to Sunday 16th October 2016.
A weekend in an intimate and peaceful setting during which we will share guided meditations, gentle explorations of the body in the tradition of the tantric path of Kashmir Shivaism, and conversations with the non-dual perspective as our shared ground.
There will be delicious lacto-vegetarian meals and time for rest and walk in nature.

Science and Non-Duality Conference, 2016:
Thursday October 20th to Sunday October 23d, 2016.
I will be offering a yoga meditation session and a talk entitled The Sacred Body and participate in a panel entitled Full Embrace of Life.


Image source


a duet of paradox and praise

Two heart-healing poems from Chuck Surface.

I found these on the poetry blog – being silently drawn – one of my favourite online oases for mind medicine. Thank you Tina Koskelo.

First, the paradox of our wideawakeness: How can it be that we are not this or that but thisthat? How can it be that we are simultaneously wave and particle? How can we reconcile apparent dualism with the unsplitable reality of our experience? As it turns out, this endeavour on the part of the insatiable thinker is less paradoxical than it would have us believe.

Like, can there be more than one meaning to ONE?

And then, a little hymn to the Beloved.

 

Richard Diebenkorn - Coffee, 1959

 

cream, two sugars, please

 

Within… Fullness, Completion, and Bliss,

Without… She prefers milk chocolate to dark.

 

Within… nothing can be added, nothing taken away,

Without… everything comes to Her, and goes.

 

Within… Unmoving, Ineffable Sublimity,

Without… She experiences ever changing manifestation.

 

Within… joy and sorrow have never been,

Without… She Shines, even in the midst of tears.

 

Within… time and space have never existed,

Without… She is born, grows old, and dies.

 

Within… within and without never were,

Without… within and without ever are.

 

Within… no preferences, propensities, proclivities,

Without… cream, two sugars, please.

 

Within… The Sun Shines,

Without… All is Illumined.

 


 

intimacy

 

There’s no intimacy in talking “about” The Beloved,

Moving away from Her into words and concepts,

As if She is not Present.

 

How rude.

 

She exists in the Quiet Stillness of our Heart,

When Attention returns from outward wandering,

And falls into Her awaiting arms.

 

How Inexpressibly Beautiful.

 

Some have turned Her into a science,

And argue Her existence, lawyerly.

They know nothing of Her.

 

Arid minds.

 

She cannot be “proven” through argument,

Or anyone “convinced” of Her reality,

Short of direct Experience.

 

Direct… Experience.

 

Only Longing entices the Beloved,

From Her Secret Garden…

In the Cave of your Heart.

 

How Ineffably… Sublime.

 


Chuck’s poetry website is In the Garden of the Beloved – a place to rest, and be both soothed and intoxicated.


Richard Diebenkorn, Coffee, 1959; oil on canvas, 57 1/2 in. x 52 1/4 in.
[Did you notice the bindi?]

Collection: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


taking it all to heart

Photograph by Alan Larus

what shall it profit me to know
that the leaf
has no color, shape or form
save those assigned by a bunch of brain cells?

to know that it has no existence
in time or space
aside from the space-time grid in my memory?

to know that it isn’t really anointed with
sparkling diamonds of dew
and it doesn’t really tremble
in the delicate dawn sunlight?

to know that all this appearance
is a figment of imagination?

in other words,
what’s the big deal to know
that form is emptiness?

if I stop there
where does it leave my heart?

I’ll tell you:
high and very very dry

but when I fall
into the suchness of the leaf
and wear its diamonds with delight
on my soft velvet greenness,
when I feel its quiver as my own
and float in its airy spaciousness

then I find, to my astonishment,
that the leaf’s gorgeous, sensuous livingness
and my own
cannot be wrenched apart

that’s when my heart leaps with juicy joy
and tears moisten my cheeks;
that’s when emptiness reveals itself
as none other than form,
and it’s so very clear
that love lies in the looking


It’s odd how outpourings are triggered. This morning this quote from the Bible fluttered across mindspace during a rapturous morning ‘meditation’. The last time I heard – or thought about – this quote was probably more than fifty years ago, when it was thrown, by a seriously strict teacher, at my friend and me for helping each other (cheating!) in a high school exam:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
– Mark 8:36 King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

It’s normally taken to refer to greed, ill-gotten gains and the loss of integrity, but after the poem wrote itself down I realized my take had shifted, or expanded. I think it could also apply thus:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain intellectual knowledge of the world, and lose his own heart’s intimate intelligence?

The Heart Sutra had to get a word in as well. Mark the Apostle meets Avolokitesvara. You never can tell what/who will turn up on retreat!


Photograph by Alan Larus, who tells me he just “clicks the button”. His modesty is as awesome as his artwork.


this sacred intimacy

I am

nothing I can

conceive

nothing I can

imagine

nothing I can

remember

nothing I can

know

nothing I can

feel

nothing I can

perceive

 

yet my Presence

makes every

perception

and every movement of

thought and feeling

p o s s i b l e

 

I am

the Beloved I sought;

there was no

attainment to be had, no

condition to be met, no

return to be made

 

nothing, nothing

could be more sweetly simple

than this sacred intimacy

 

– miriam louisa

 


when I talk to you

258

When I talk to You
do I talk to an object?

You are the Beloved,
my known ‘Beingness’

But is Beingness a ‘thing?’

I look and I find You displayed
wherever my senses land
wherever my thoughts lead…

You never hide
but You cannot be found
or defined

Yet You only display your creation
– w o r l d –
via this energy pattern called ‘me’
– an infinity of ‘me’s!

And I – (with open awe and wonder)
realize that there is no I
that can be anything apart from You

When I talk to ‘world’
in every shape and form
I talk to You

Beloved

.

~ miriam louisa

echoes from emptiness

.