I’m reading Feather Fall – an anthology of writings by Laurens Van Der Post, and relishing his wordsmithing. Can’t you just see yapyap thinking-mind as this wayside mongrel? Barking, sniffing, tumbling, whining … any tactic that will serve to distract one from the sweet sensuous fullness of This …
How little mere thinking helps a soul in trouble. What a wayside mongrel it can be, running the length of the threatened kingdom of our being, barking at one master instinct after another, sniffing at the trees of our natural selves for the scent of a bitch it can tumble, or whining at the back door of our first warm-lit emotion.
~ Laurens Van Der Post, The Face Beside the Fire
Image from Disney ‘Lady and the Tramp’ screencaps (with apologies to Tramp)
Crikey. Here I am contemplating the wantless life and the disappearing worlds and out of nowhere comes Life-as-a-lethal-lurgy. It invades my body and lays it to waste; days of dry heaving and a giddiness that has yet to take off its Sufi-shoes.
There’s nothing remotely pleasant about being sick. It’s a process that has its own mysterious reasons, strategies, timings. I’m in awe of the intelligence that powers this bundle of bones. I can’t grow a toenail, build a cell or mend a tear in the sheath of my skin.
But this body has The Complete Maintenance Manual and Toolkit built-in. The only requirement from my side is to relax and … relax more, to get out of its way while it does what’s necessary. And what amazes me in this simple allowing is that suffering doesn’t get a look-in.
I’m not pretending to myself or anyone that I won’t seek help, or that it’s cool or enjoyable to be ill. It’s horrid. But what I notice now is that it can be horrid without being difficult. It can be both painful and peaceful. It can be whatever it is and be loved for whatever it is. It’s very odd, but don’t-mind mind seems to be the most powerful healing tool of all.
The most effective medicine:
Silence and stillness and a sinking into the spaciousness
in which it is all arising.
Take as required.
As if a resident migraine and food-poisoning weren’t enough, L had an appointment at the Dental Clinic today. One of those pricking and scraping episodes, interspersed with hair-raising blasts of freezing water on screaming gums. L is not heroic. She lay whimpering and wanting it to be over. Then went home for a long lie-down.
What I love about these little stories is that L can stand for Louisa (me-myself-I), or for Life.
If L = Louisa, there’s drama and soreness and suffering.
If L = Life, there’s drama and soreness but no suffering.
That’s another story!
(I’ll put my money on L.)
I used to think that freedom was a word that went with a ‘from’ or a ‘to’:
Freedom from stress, pain, anger, jealousy, bad habits…
Freedom to express, to roam, to do what one wants…
It was all so mistaken.
I found that freedom is the ability to rest unfazed in the totality of whatever life is dishing up. It can’t be cultivated. It flows in when one stops believing life ought to be different, that it needs fixing, or any other commentary that the thinking machine generates.
Freedom is always waiting here, now, in exactly this, at the beginning and never the end.
there’s a palm frond fluttering
there’s a whistler mindlessly twittering
there’s a bird whistling too, purposefully
there’s a person laughing
there’s a radio quacking
there’s autumn sunshine
there’s toothache and tiredness
there’s a brain in which all this is occurring …
a brain that is simply being-all-that-is
~ miriam louisa
echoes from emptiness
Hafiz’s poem – my brilliant image – provides the perfect cue-in for a confession:
It all began with a killer migraine. My skull felt like a firebomb about to explode; the pain was so intense I wanted it to. I was retching and nothing would remain in my stomach. Painkillers weren’t an option. It was simply more than I could bear, and to my surprise (since I usually suffer in silence) I heard myself screaming, “Finish me off! I can’t stand it!”
It was instantaneous. Behind my closed eyelids a shimmer of white light washed over the blackness. Soft milky light – very different from the lights often associated with migraines.
The light brought instant calm, blissful relief from the panic. The pain was still there but in some inexplicable way it simply wasn’t a problem.
But then these words were somehow ‘heard’:
AND THIS LIGHT DOES KNOW ALL OTHER LIGHT AS ITS SHADOW
My hair stood on end. Where did that come from? What did it mean?
Those words were my koan for almost twenty years.
Those words led inevitably to the knowing of that “Astonishing Light” as my own Beingness.