Last night I was meditating, staring at the old WWII ammunition chest that belonged to my grandfather. Inside the grain I saw the image of an old man leaning over a worktable. The brain struggled to make sense of the wood swirls and, somehow, labeled a particular pattern in this way. I looked away for a few minutes to unsee the old man, but it was no use. Each time I returned to the swirl there he was, still pouring over his project. He could not be unseen once identified and labeled by the brain.
This is the way the mind works and it is difficult to see through the trap of the conditioned grasping, clutching, and labeling brain. It is easy to get carried away by the thinking sickness, the checking and judging and struggle to make sense of things that, in and of themselves, are senseless. This is not a reflection of our True self. It is social conditioning, a ravenous virus of habit mind that feeds on pain and suffering.
This morning during a 5am meditation the brain and eyes wanted to re-see the old man. . .to search, label, and cling to an image from the past. I did not react to the urge, only witnessed it and let it pass.
There never was an old man. There was only a random swirl in the wood grain. It was beautiful just as it was.
“. . .transpersonal psychology is the disciplined study of behaviors and experiences that appear to transcend those hypothetical constructs associated with individual identities and self-concepts, as well as their developmental antecedents, and the implications of these behaviors and experiences for education, training, and psychotherapy” (Krippner, 1998).
Beyond ego, beyond I-Me-My / i me my, beyond beyond.
It was his scream that caught my attention.
So far away, up there. . .
Only the white underbelly spoke its name,
looking for snakes and rodents
Until the man scared me away and I fled
Peace in favor of distraction.
Reality is more complex than we would like.
If we insist upon it making sense,
We will find ourselves despairing.
Reality cannot be neatly packaged. . .
Reality is all that is, and that is often at odds
With what we imagine it should be.
–Rabbi Yannai, an early Jewish sage
Almost a year ago and the edge of the roof is back again, this time in a different form. When will you jump? Well, I’m waiting.
That night. . .in the desert. . .I jumped off the roof.
“I don’t like it here, I want to go back.
According to the old Knowers
If you’re absent from the one you love
Even for one second that ruins the whole thing!
There must be someone. . .just to find
One sign of the other world in this town
Would be enough.
You know the great Chinese Simurgh bird
Got caught in this net. . .
And what can I do. I’m only a wren.
My desire-body, don’t come
Strolling over this way.
Sit where you are, that’s a good place.
When you want dessert, you choose something rich.
In wine, you look for what is clear and firm.
What is the rest? The rest is mirages,
And blurry pictures, and milk mixed with water.
The rest is self-hatred, and mocking other people, and
So just be…
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The world does not owe you an explanation. Stop thinking about it; instead, live.
“You think about your acts,” he said. “Therefore you have to believe your acts are as important as you think they are, when in reality nothing of what one does is important. Nothing! But then if nothing really matters, as you asked me, how can I go on living? It would be simple to die; that’s what you say and believe, because you’re thinking about life, just as you’re thinking now what seeing would be like. You wanted me to describe it to you so you could begin to think about it, the way you do with everything else. In the case of seeing, however, thinking is not the issue at all, so I cannot tell you what it is like to see. Now you want me to describe the reasons for my controlled folly and I can only tell you that controlled folly is very much like seeing; it is something you cannot think about. . .
“. . .You really know how to talk and say nothing, don’t you. . .you seem to have an unbending intent to confuse yourself with riddles. You insist on explaining everything as if the whole world were composed of things that can be explained. Now you are confronted with the guardian and with the problem of moving by using your will. Has it ever occurred to you that only a few things in the world can be explained your way?”
-teachings of don Juan