I have hidden myself from me!
Layers within layers,
folds within folds,
Easter eggs within Christmas stockings
nested in hidden Jacks-in-the-box.
So I enjoy unwrapping, playing:
Hide and Seek,
Cowboys and Indians (Bang! Bang! You’re dead!),
The three games I never tire of.
I am eternal child.
© jon zuck // norfolk, virginia // january 31, 2006
A paradox I’ve noticed is that since I’ve stopped believing in the world, I love it more. It’s like the little shift of last week opened a space and love filled the void.
It’s a slightly different kind of love than I’m used to feeling. There’s nothing forced or effortful at all. It’s not “powerful” or dramatic in any way. It’s not really even felt at all. It’s just there. Maybe this is why the Buddhists use the word compassion more often than love. (I still like the word love better.)
But it’s there, and it’s noticed when I’m quiet.
That one of the most positive things that’s ever happened to me, gets memorialized in my blog with the single most negative post I’ve ever written! And to think it was the first time I ever used the F-word in my blog!
In short, what felt Sunday and Monday like horrible emptiness and aloneless, feels so full of grace that I can’t really describe it. I was at my teacher’s satsang tonight, and being in his presence felt like being “slain in the Spirit.”
It is beautiful, at once full and empty, the essence of everything and nothing. A spaciousness that courteously recedes when I think and work, and reveals its presence when I rest.
God really has a great sense of humor.
I’m really feeling better now. I can see myself coming to enjoy this, and pretty soon.
I’ve delayed posting for a bit… on one hand, it seems like I could write forever, on the other, that I have nothing to say. Yesterday, all morning long at work I felt like crying, until I had lunch with a friend. Afternoon was good, then evening and this very strange awareness that there’s nothing. Activity covers it up. TV covers it up. Thinking covers it up.
It feels insane to not trust my senses. I took a shower this morning, and realized that I feel hot water running. but nothing is happening at all. The holodeck is empty.
I can easity imagine that coming to this place would be terrifying for anyone not ready for it. My teacher once told me of a time he started talking about “too much truth” to someone, and they freaked out on the spot and ran away screaming. He had to catch up with them and change the subject to basketball!
There’s no hope here. None at all. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” But there’s no problem, so who the hell needs hope?
I see other things more clearly… It’s like the exact same rules apply here, as the in world we call the dream world. Jungians say that everyone in your dream is you. Well no shit! Everyone is “me” or “this” or whatever you want to call it. I reflect myself in different ways to myself to entertain, baffle, challenge, arouse, and calm myself.
For instance, what is sexual attaction? A reflection of something within me I find appealing. For me, it’s part of my animus. For straight guys, it’s part of their anima. (As if there’s any “me” or “they!”) The same applies for every other kind of attraction. Or repulsion. It’s just a game. Like I said, this is weird.
I must admit the hallucination is compelling–exquistely detailed and 15 billion light-years across. All it asks is that you believe in it. But there are gliches in “reality” everywhere.
I may be an idiot for posting this. In spite of all my brave words, “The Wild Things of God,” “Jedi Life in the Real World,” the bottom line is I’m a fucking coward as attached to delusion, identification, and self-deception as anyone. Even the damn blog’s a lie. I hold back so much, not wanting to put myself out there. Why? ‘Cause I want to be liked. I want you (whoever you are) to think… Oh, wow! How insightful! Challenging! Hmm, I never thought of that. Great way you have with words, Frimster! Gee, you’re one smart and spiritual guy!
And don’t for a minute think that I’ve left the ego behind and that’s no longer a motive. It sure is. But I’m going to write honestly about something that happened yesterday. I was listening to an except of a talk by Adyashanti, and when it was over, Suddenly, some words from the Bhagavad Gita came to mind:
Krishna said to Arjuna:
Behold, I create all worlds
out of my own magic.
Suddenly I realized that I was Krishna. I was the one creating the appearance of worlds. Close my eyes, stop up my ears, still the mind, and there is nothing. I don’t mean there appears to be nothing. I knew there is nothing at all!
I broke down and cried for what was a least half an hour. Talbot, my cat, climbed onto me to comfort me. _And I knew he wasn’t there!_ There was just “me” whatever that is, trying to comfort me, like there’s just me confusing me, playing with me, fighting with me, and oh God, I felt so alone.
There’s a Zen tradition about marking insights with poems. Here’s mine:
The world exists
only through my sight, hearing, feelings and thoughts.
Pull back, shut, still,
and all is gone.
I said to Arjuna,
“Behold, I create all worlds
through my own magic.”
I pull back my maya, my senses
there is no God, no world,
no cat, no other, no me.
When I’m doing anything, I function totally normally. But when I quiet down alone, I feel “the suck.” I can see why there’s all the warnings and disclaimers about this path. Why Jesus said you have to keep your hand on the plow and not look back. (Look back and everything is gone!). Why this path is not for most people. And why everyone does everything they can to cover up the truth.
My teacher assures me that “this is a beautiful thing,” and I know he’s right, even without him telling me, I sense it underneath. Yet, it also sucks.
The WisdomReading group is off and running. Today we read Psalm 4, the latter half of Mark 2, and part of the third chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is especially interesting to me, because I’ve never read it before. One thing I’ve noticed that keeps coming up in the Gita readings is action combined with “detachment.”
I went sky diving;
I went Rocky Mountain climbing;
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu.
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
And he said, “Some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying.”
“Detachment” is one of those “spiritual” words (God save us from them!) that causes so much misunderstanding and grief in the world. An extreme case I heard of recently was a father assisting his son’s birth didn’t fully enter into the joy of the moment because he felt he needed to “practice detachment.”
How sad! Spiritual detachment has nothing to do with emotional distancing–it’s about not demanding God or Life or anyone or anything do things “for” you. It’s about accepting whatever happens, whether it thrills you or breaks your heart. It’s detachment from your will, as Jesus yielded his will to God in the garden of Gethsemane. It’s freedom from the future, that phantom that doesn’t even exist.
Life can only be experienced now. God is only encountered now. I only exist now. A billion billion nows flow in a stream, like rubber ducks in a river race; yet only the one that’s here, is now. Detachment means I don’t know what tomorrow, tonight, or even the next moment will bring, but now, I will do what I need to now.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna
Always perform with detachment
any action you must do;
performing action with detachment,
one achieves supreme good.
In the Tim McGraw gita, a man learns that he may have a terminal disease. Like Arjuna in the Gita, he’s despondent about the battle he must fight. Then he learns that it’s an opportunity to engage life more deeply than he ever has before; to straighten out his relationships; to savor every moment; to forgive unconditionally, to enjoy life every moment.
He becomes detached from expectations… every moment might be his last, but he, as Krishna said, achieves supreme good.
In high school, this very question was on my mind for a long time: “How would I live today if I knew it might be my last?” It’s one of the more relevant questions out there: because any day might be. Live like you were dying? You are, so do it.
My teacher once told me that the way to courageously face any encounter, is to simply determine in your mind that you will not come out alive. Then, with the fear of death gone, you are free to do whatever you need to. As dramatic as it sounds, it’s eminently practical in everyday situations. A friend of mine was once asked how she was able to finish her projects at work so fast, and she said, (shocking her co-worker) “It’s because I’m not afraid to die.”
Father, help me live like I am dying.
My friend Rick shares that he’s preparing for a cross-country move. He was experiencing frustration and sadness until he had an encouraging conversation with his cab driver, whom he discovered is named Michael Emmanuel (a name that translates as Who Is Like God? God Is With Us!”).
This odd blessing of “incidence” — I don’t call it coincidence anymore– reminds me of something that happened to me a couple of days ago. I have learned that unexpected appearances of enso (the Zen circle) work as a sign of God’s presence in my life, kind of like a smile or pat on the back.
Monday night, I found myself brimming over with enthusiasm as I was driving home. When stopped at a red light, I saw enso right in front of me.(It had been a while since I experienced enso.) This enso was actually in the taillight of a car in front of me. As it started up when the light turned green, I read the license plate. It was GVTHANKS.
So here’s a koan:
Q: Who is like God?
A: God is with us!
Well, there was some interest in my reading schedule, so I created a Yahoo! group, WisdomReading, so we can go through these books together and discuss them.
We start on January 10, and will read through the entire New Testament, most of the Old Testament Wisdom books, including Sirach and Wisdom from the Catholic/Orthodox version of the OT, and several non-Biblical wisdom books.
The latter category includes the Gospel of Thomas, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Ashtavakra Gita, the Tao Te Ching, and the Dhammpada. If you’d like to join us but don’t want to buy any books, don’t worry: Almost all are available online, and your library also will have copies of most of them.
The readings are kept deliberately very short; in almost all cases all three readings can probably be done in 10-15 minutes. This will let us have more time to reflect upon the texts and share what we’re getting from them.
Hope to see you there!