here it is

 

 

I don’t know what it is.

 

I can’t meet it face-to-face.

I can’t turn my back on it.

 

It’s impossible to flee from it.

 

If, by some wild grace

(I don’t know what that is, either)

it turns its all-knowing eye upon itself,

the default idea of duality

(by which I mean the unquestioned compulsion to label, define and separate)

vaporises.

 

Even the concept of ‘one’ is clearly one idea too many.

 

Knowing without a centre, without a knower,

knows

 

It excludes nothing.  It has no preferences.

 

Separation ceases.

 

The old urge to know what it is,

how it is, why it is,

has become irrelevant, obsolete, laughable.

 

I say: here it is.  Show me how you can possibly ignore it.

 

 

– ml

2021

 


 

Painting by Michael Leunig, Desert Song Man

leunig.com.au

 


 

{ pure gold }

 
     

It must have been more than 50 years ago.

I was a newbie meditator and yogini when my teacher threw this curved ball:

“Pray for disappointment.
Disappointment is the highest teacher.”

Gulp.  I thought I was signing up for Transcendence 101, not some advanced course in self-mortification.  Please explain, I asked, and she did:

Disappointment will unpick your stories.

It will shatter your certitudes.

It will strip you of hope.

It will lead you to the other side of the assumptions you unknowingly live by. 

(It will be a huge shock to realise that the only free and true choice you can ever make is to stop, shut up, listen and open.)

If you can live with its inevitability, it will deliver you to unbreakable peace and equanimity.  You will understand the real meaning of trust and you will make impermanence your touchstone.  

No fatalism or nihilism involved – no ‘isms’ whatsoever.  
No ideology, therapy or frantic god-bothering required.

 

{ pure gold }

 

Well, as it happened, she was right.

Did I ever offer up a prayer of invitation to disappointment?  
Not that I recall, but I’ve always been a bit contrary, and I was definitely curious.

Everyone was hunting for the enlightenment cookie via his or her own tendencies and patterns – I guess I was too.  In hindsight it’s clear that my fierce wild-maned Cincinnati yoga teacher (who was managing my return to mobility after having my right leg leg severed in an accident) was introducing me to the Via Negativa,
to the ancient Vedic Neti Neti inquiry.

And so far as the gods of disappointment were concerned,
my ingenuous curiosity was enough to catch their attention.  

Off I went, from one knee-grazer to the next.

Sometimes they served up the prompt in the midst of the mishap, accident, heartache, bust-up, betrayal, rejection.  Sometimes it would show up in the aftermath.  But it never failed to arrive, scribbled in gold on the back of an increasingly tattered calling card:

 

What knows this,

ceaselessly, inescapably, 

while remaining entirely unaffected?

 

a h h h h h . . .

s y s t e m – r e s t o r e

 

{ pure gold }

 

I bow before disappointment’s wild grace.

 

Speaking personally, mls.


Notes:

Sometimes a poem calls forth an image; sometimes an image elicits a poem.  I’ve been keeping company with this Kintsugi sculpture by Billie Bond for a while, waiting to see if words might line themselves up in response to its powerful eloquence.  What showed up surprised me.  While I have been blessed with untold good fortune, generosity and joy in my life, I confess that it was the unspeakably harrowing experiences that opened up intimacy with the entire field of experience.  So I’m posting this in case it matches the shape of a wound that needs loving attention.  We all have them. And we are the world.

From September 18, 2013: a love letter to disappointment

Sculpture:
Billie Bond, Kintsugi Head 1, 2014
H32 W22 D15
Black stoneware, resin, epoxy, gold leaf
Unique
http://www.billiebondart.com/kintsugi-sculpture.html

Kintsugi – “golden joinery” also known as Kintsukuroi – “golden repair”, is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.  As a philosophy it sees beauty in imperfection; it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.


I need to tell you this before it’s too late

 

Jean-Michel Meurice, Urgell 1, 2004

 

The knowing of Knowing

is the sweetest somatic intimacy, the ultimate G[od]-spot.

It’s no wonder poets pen passionate love-notes

to their beloved Beloved.

 

It’s more evident than any revelation,

more obvious than anything observed.

Yet this seamless saturation is neither an experience

nor anything that could be called an attainment.

 

It’s prior to consciousness,

to memory, to perception, to imagination.

(I say “prior to” but I don’t mean a-p-a-r-t from.

Perhaps precursory would be a better word.)

 

How mysterious that it’s completely overlooked, ignored,

while at the same time

hungered for/longed for/searched for/worked for/studied for/meditated for/practiced for/prayed for/paid for, in time, devotion and sacrifice . . .

 

What a joke! 

No GPS can locate it.

Yet it’s inescapable.

 

I don’t need a guru, method, scripture, sledgehammer

to wake up to the fact that whatever I am

is unarguably and precisely whatever I perceive, experience, feel.

I only have to look from a silent mind.

 

To acknowledge this Knowing –

to abide as it, to act as it

restores me to the all-inclusive immensity

I knew all along.

 

All along.

 

Since breath #1 was gasped on a summer’s morning in 1944

and these innocent eyes first opened

onto the mindscape

before

words like suffering and salvation were sown there

sprouting addictive fantasies

about enlightenment, transcendence, escape

before

I was thought-washed to believe that

the embodiment of this Knowing

would erase every discomfort and dysfunction from my experience

before

the dark net of distinctions descended

before

I learned to be clever.

 

– miriam louisa

 


 

Artwork by Jean-Michel Meurice
Urgell 1, 2004
Acrylic on fabric, 215 x 215cm
More info HERE

I love the way this work portrays the richness of our circular existence, the dance of the dreamer around the still, silent core. It’s a wonderful example of contemporary Tantric art.

 


 

It’s been a year of farewells: a brother, an artist comrade, and now another old buddy from my peer-group has gone.
Again I meet the temporality, the impermanence of this experience of being alive.
Again something rises to state the actuality of my experience – not to comfort or console, but to remind myself that everything appearing is a window onto the everlastingly unaffected.
So what?
So that whatever life dishes up has some small chance of being met with honesty and presence. So that I might be sane enough to remember that my wishes – no matter how profound – have nothing to do with what-is. So that I might see directly, act appropriately.
I’m ok with old age. The need to change anything falls away. Candles in the wind.
Yet (occasionally) (rarely these days) I’m moved to share a confession. You never can tell, it might be the last one. And there are things I want to say before I go.
Thank you for reading.

 


on popping the pink pill and dissolving into aware space

Alan Perriman, Fog

 

This is what I love about fog:

space is rendered opaque

so I get to see

Creation’s cauldron,

to see the emptiness I ordinarily move through

oblivious

to its strange solidity.

 

I had it all back to front –

assuming my solidity and its, well, nothingness.

One night a few months ago I asked how

Dōgen’s “aware space” *

might be made evident, physically perceivable,

experience-able beyond conceptualization

and next morning I woke up to thick fog.

 

I thought, OK let’s color it pink

to make it even more evident

– no problem for a visual mind like mine –

but then I noticed that my hands,

the exhalation of my breath,

my table, my room, my coffee,

everything was permeated with pinkness.

 

In high school science class I was taught:

An atom consists of 99.9999999999996% “empty space”

and should all the “empty space”

be vacuumed out of one’s body

the solid matter remaining would fit

on the point of a pin.

(Along with all those dancing quantum angels.)

 

And I lost it, almost wet myself laughing . . .

“You mean . . .?”

I’m leaving it to you, dear reader,

to join the dots for yourself.

If you do, you’ll never again be puzzled

by the paradox of the Prajñāpāramitā.

 
– – –
 

That’s how teachings arrive for me:

a question goes out

and the universe serves a set-up

perfectly calibrated for comprehension

by this old cow’s unique version

of craziness.

Mu!

 


Painting by UK artist Alan Perriman, Fog – one of a series where he sets out to express in visual language a short Japanese poem.

Because fog engulfs
the house where I am
I feel as though
I have floated into the sky
– Myōe
1173-1232

alanperriman.co.uk


* Dōgen’s “Aware Space”:
I was sitting with a commentary on Dōgen zenji’s Being Time, given by Anzan Hoshin roshi.

He said, “Dōgen is pointing out the way Aware Space embodies itself as each of you, and how each of you unfold yourselves as each other and as all things, as all beings, all times, all worlds.”

Gulp.     God I love Dōgen.

White Wind Zen Community, Ottawa.


how a few moments of empty-mind spiked with questions of the unanswerable kind can deliver you to your effulgent nothingness

Edgar Degas, Woman, Seen from Behind, Drying Her Hair, c.1905 - 1910

 

I take off my clothes,

lift them to my face,

inhale the fragrance of my skin.

By what alchemy was that unique odour created?

  

I soak in the bath,

submerged to my chin.

Wetness, warmth: what registers these sensations

yet never gets wet?

  

I towel-dry my mop of silver hair.

I marvel that it grows, it falls out;

more grows, automatically.

Can I spin one thread of hair?

  

I trim a toenail.

How does this perfect toe-guard

know how to grow?

Is there a how-to manual for nails (and hair and cells)?

  

My scissors slip.

I watch my bright blood slowly seep,

congeal, clot (or not).

Can I control a clot?

  

I listen to the ambient sounds of my environment.

By what miracle can I hear

the kettle boiling urgently,

and those rowdy Kookaburras?

  

I make coffee and slowly savour the flavour,

asking myself,

(eyes shut)

Where exactly is ‘taste’ located?

  

Then, uninvited, the mother of all questions shows up:

Where’s my world viewed from?

I gaze undistractedly

at my coffee cup.

  

I can’t find a point of perspective.

So then I try to find a viewer.

Can I find a fixed point,

a “me”?

  

Almost 75 years of wondering, checking for myself,

what can I report?

Well, as the saying goes:  All the lights are on but

no one’s home.

  

I imagined myself into existence,

only to find I am unfindable.

What I find is inescapable space.

Space that’s unimagined, and unarguably aware.

  

Space – ceaselessly birthing

all experience in, and as, time,

including this tricky two-step called

BE-ing.

  

Aware space, dancing

as every sensation, feeling, thought,

every belief – questioned or not,

every thing and every no-thing too.

  

And I, hobbled and hollow-boned,

know its fancy footwork as my own.

  

  

Don’t you just love the way a few moments

of empty-mind

spiked with questions of the unanswerable kind

can deliver you to your effulgent nothingness?

 

– with a deep bow, ml


Art – Edgar Degas, Woman Seen from Behind, Drying her Hair c. 1905 – 1910.
Public Domain.


 
 

the birds come to my birdbath

 

Philip Sutton, The Tree, 1958

 

emelle says:

I’m a fool with little need of company.

There’s no one deemed respectable here,
so how could I demand respect?

When recognition only brings busyness,
how could I not love invisibility?

Knowing that mind is the slayer of silence
why would I want “the last word?”

Saturated by streaming aliveness
how could I be lonely?

I cherish the extraordinariness
of ordinary suchness
but few know what that looks like,
so I’ll tell you:

The birds come to my birdbath.

The dogs wag their tails
when I open my door.

My luna-lover beams at me
without reproach or expectation.

My cup runneth over
and the ants make the most of it;
they even cart off my toenail clippings.

When the tide of breath runs out
they will claim every scrap of this body
and have a banquet with the worms.

And their scats will feed the earth;
new grass will grow in the summer,
sap will rise in the trees
and they will exhale my smile.

I will be breathed back
into the fecundity of space.

Just like that.
And that’s enough for me.

 


Image: Philip Sutton, The Tree, 1958
philipsuttonra.com