into the theatre of my life
after 39 days immersion in a
silent Dzochen retreat
I recently came upon a journal written on a 6 week silent Dzogchen retreat at Wangapeka Study and Retreat Centre in Nelson, Aotearoa-New Zealand, in 2010. (The Lama had asked me to do this as part of my practice.) Other writings from this period have been posted at this unlit light blog but the scribblings in this journal haven’t been shared before. The one above, written on the last day of silence, packed a punch from which I will never recover.
This is what happens on a retreat that goes long enough, deep enough, wide enough – you get ripped in three and re-braided.
“formations”? – anything that takes shape in consciousness: a thought, a feeling, a memory, a story, a self, an other…
“universe”? – the changeless, ever-present, immeasurable, all-inclusive and inescapable THIS.
“preferred”? – by whom? by what? (there being no chooser to be found) By the universe ITself, as the miraculous and incomprehensible expression of ITself.
“why”? – make up a good story; it doesn’t matter what you conceive … all stories are formations, fluffy consolations for a mind made redundant.
(Best not to attend such retreats unless prepared for obliteration of the old concepts and fixations around self-identity and world-view.)
who are you
when you’re not constantly
on social media?
when you’re not sharing
your selfies, your mundane and mediocre
when you’re not broadcasting
your insights, your threadbare, faded
what do you see
when you’re not there
telling yourself the old stories
(identify – label – judge)?
when there’s no observer
standing separate from
texture, color, energy?
when time and space
disappear, taking out your memorybank (poof!)
leaving . . . . . . . . . what?
who are you in that apocalyptic instant
when you realise that
every hard-earned conviction you hold
is merely an empty concept?
who are you when you aren’t there?
[conceptual answers not permitted; keep emptying!]
Drawing by Michael Leunig – it also accompanies this post from the early days of ‘the echoes’:
sitting in this leaky boat called ‘me’
the edges of the threatening clouds
suddenly it’s sailing clear –
the full moon!
– – –
awakening is precisely like this:
our precious fears and foibles
begin to melt into lightness
at the edges
the dark curtain of concepts
and the tireless concept-builder
and there it is
the self-luminous light
of our eternal beingness
that was veiled
by ceaseless story-spinning
if you want to know
the Unknowable start by
throwing out the absolute
and the relative and
and should you be blessed
with the capacity to survive
of your o-so-precious
into roaring silence
then you’ll know that Knowingness as
“the unborn flower of nothing”
and you’ll be its own soft echo
as it sings its eternal song
Who would dare to go nameless in so secure a universe?
Yet, to tell the truth, only the nameless are at home in it.
They bear with them in the center of nowhere the unborn flower of nothing:
This is the paradise tree.
It must remain unseen until words end
and arguments are silent.
– Thomas Merton
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. May your life blossom on the paradise tree, fulfilled and at peace in every way. You are so loved!
Image source unknown – if it’s one of yours please let me know so that I can give proper credit.
By the wondrous old age of 90 both my parents have seen enough of life to know that it unfolds according to its own agenda. Having been through a zillion shatterings and upliftings, they quietly confess that nothing much turned out the way they thought it would or wished it might. They like to say that everything in Life happens of its own accord.
To say “of its own accord” is another way of saying “by Grace” – and we can’t understand either the cosmic laws that orchestrate “happenings” or the dynamic of “Grace.” But we can have fun with concepts, while keeping the difference between concept and Reality in view.
My concept of Grace: active, dynamic, non-local information/intelligence. Primal Power.
My concept of Life: unborn, unmoving, immeasurable Primal Potential.
Without Grace, Life remains impotent.
Visual concept: Life’s omniscient and omnipresent Potential sit at the two corners of a triangle’s baseline, and Grace – omnipotence – forms the apex, transforming the connecting lines into form and unleashing creative energy.
When I show this bunch of concepts to the aged wise ones, they simply smile and make a cup of tea.
It’s curious that while most folk who inquire, even at a fairly superficial level, will concede that time is a conceptual construct with no objective reality, they continue to argue for the existence of a solid-state self-entity. This is ‘me’ – wysiwyg!
But if time is illusory, it follows that duration in space is impossible. How can any concept of space be workable without the added dimension of time?
How can there be a near and a far? A then, a now, a when? And bereft of space (in which to exist) and time (in and through which to endure) what’s left of ‘me’?
I’ll tell you what’s left: the entire gobsmacking universe.
I am not
but the Universe is Myself
~ Shih T’ou
AD 700 – 790
A concept of a self is necessary for function/interaction/communication with ‘things,’ including people that appear to be separate from that self. It’s impossible to avoid the use of this concept when using language, which is crowded with personal pronouns: I-me-myself-mine …
There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but imagine how amazing it would be to form a way of wordifying the world without dualism’s defaults? Imagine a language that was made up of vital verbs with little prefixes and suffixes to denote time and space? I’m not the first to raise this possibility, and I realize that some indigenous languages approach it, but imagine if it was mainstream-speak. Imagine how neat it would be to utter a phrase of this language and be understood – which would immediately imply a shared view of Beingness.
mind loves to move concepts around
but Beingness remains silent and ineffable
utterly unaffected by wordifying or worlding
while never for a second separate from them