try as I might
to find a then and a when
in this ever-spinning cosmos
the needle of now
stays stuck in its groove
Art by Fiona Watson, Music of the Spheres
One of my father’s nick-names for me was ‘Tuppence.’ Perhaps it was because I was always eager to offer my “tuppence-worth” (i.e., the state-of-the-world according to my all-knowing self), and irritatingly persistent with my questions – “But why?” “Who says so?” When he was really mad at me he’d say, “For two pence I’d give you the hiding of your life!” I was always relieved no one came along with those pennies.
I never out-grew the tendency towards contrariness and insatiable curiosity. From here I regard them as having been essential companions – both tools and fuel – on the rather erratic life path that unfolded for the ‘Tuppence’ character.
The days when I held court in my pram are ancient history, but the questions that matter for me remain fresh and alive. My responses to them are an ever-morphing ontology. Here’s the current version – a crone’s tuppence-worth.
Tuppence in her pram: Well then. What’s this all about?
dressed up and dancing as the knowable.
I don’t know.
I can only say it’s all I ever experience.
You’ll never find it.
(You’ll never escape it either.)
An idea those who believe they are not already fully alight
like to entertain.
It can’t be known.
It’s quietly evident when all hunger for knowing drops away.
Presence is already perfectly and completely just so.
But ideas about it can be experienced as wrong/bad/incomplete.
I’ve spent a lifetime on this koan…
I only ever experience all-inclusive observing.
Too constricted and limited a notion, I’d say.
How about an Unlimited and Almighty Godding?
From the perspective of Presence,
One is one too many.
I ask Life. It grins:
Get onstage – it’s The Full Monty and you’re the star!
That’s easy because I’ve been across and had a look.
It’s a little side-step, from one theatre into another.
Reality transcends thinking entirely.
However, thoughts and beliefs determine the quality of experience.
We’d know if we could find a dreamer.
Abdication. Effortless, voluntary relinquishment
of the ME-project.
If it is
you’re the magician.
Illusion is the mirage in the desert;
delusion is believing it’s real.
could ever be sacred.
You are the glorious “am”.
I don’t know
K I N D N E S S
Being 100% present as the capacity for passionate engagement with life
and not minding what happens.
Nothing ever brings fulfilment.
It’s one’s natural state when there’s no need of fulfilment.
S I L E N C E
The GPS is set to nth – now! this! here!
Presence is driving.
sneaking up for a kiss.
I am whatever Presence wants to be
in response to whatever It meets.
[The words Awareness, Presence, the Unknowable, Reality, Grace, the Beloved, all point to the same ‘thing’. Except it’s not a thing. If anything (ha!) it’s an event-ing.
I like the Godding word; I might patent that one!]
I had quite forgotten these lines (unsurprising, since you didn’t write them, says Emptiness), and reading them again delights me. Unashamedly. So I’m sharing them here.
how could you not love something that
never leaves you
regardless of how often you ignore it?
that’s always self-shining –
never needing flint or switch or fuel?
that never changes
regardless of the vicissitudes of your daily experience?
that never takes sides
whatever person, team or nation you’re supporting,
whatever idea or opinion you hold?
that never breaks apart
even though your life appears to?
that never minds
that you spend your life running around looking for it
while it’s in your face the whole time?
how could you not love something like that?
something you can never escape,
and that’s so immanent
you are forced to accept it
as your own true identity?
how could you not then love
Y O U R S E L F ?
and everything arising
– thoughts, perceptions, memories, feelings –
within that inconceivable Self?
how could you not love that immensity which precedes
and includes all existence?
how could you not kneel at your own feet
how could you pretend that your enlightened
was not the Great Passion of That
which holds the planets in their orbit?
how could you ignore the urge to pour
your energy and attention
into whatever opens your heart?
– miriam louisa
Today – another tick in the annual count for she-who-scribbles while her spacecraft steers itself around the sun.
Sitting watching the morning star rise in the pre-dawn coolness, I thought back to this offering, which I posted exactly a year ago on this unlit light blog. It wants to be shared here. I fancy it might be my yearly birthday post, since I can’t find one word I’d change. And I need these words.
Birthdays are a good time to reflect on one’s blessings, and to offer gratitude to our friends for their kindness and thoughtfulness. I always begin my birthday with a gesture of thanks to my mother, who not only gave me the miraculous opportunity for life, but also fostered, nourished and inspired the flourishing of that life in every way possible.
Now in my eighth decade, and delighting in life regardless of its curved balls, I feel to share some of the observations that have delivered me to this joy. It’s the best I can offer; may your mind and heart be able to receive.
But what you are never feels pain.
But what you are remains unchanged, eternally.
You’re flat and exhausted and depressed.
But what you are is forever poised as equanimity.
You’re broke, stressed, squeezed dry, homeless and hungry.
But what you are is unaffected and impartial.
You’re smashed by disappointment, betrayal, abandonment.
But what you are is ever calm, accepting and unbroken.
You’re afflicted by physical and mental aberrations, abnormalities, imbalances.
But what you are never suffers for one second.
So what you are is clearly something with which you need to become very familiar. And it’s e-a-s-y to do so. You don’t need a formal introduction. You don’t need a manual or a map or a guide book. You don’t need to change your religion or your beliefs (although changes may well occur as a result). You don’t need a 12-step plan or a meditation practice.
What you are is more obvious and closer than the tip of your nose. It’s the one experience you can never escape, 24/7.
What would you call that? Your aliveness? Your awareness? Your presence? All these words come close, but none are ultimately true or exact. Why?
Because they aren’t yours. Or mine. Or anyone’s. Drop the personal pronoun, and there you are – radiant all-knowing alive presence. The Light of Knowingness, self-luminous, always-on, never-needing fuel or flint…
And that is what you are – free, fulfilled and flourishing as all you conceive, perceive and experience. All of it.
How wondrous that this is possible – that this primordial awareness is huge enough to hold the entirety of creation, excluding nothing – yet be unaffected and unmoved by any expression of its handmaiden, consciousness.
It is truly The Beloved, the Godhead of the saints and sages and poets.
And it is what you are.
Image – Bowl, Miriam Louisa Simons, Japanese washi, threads, cardboard
Under a new moon, at the turning of the earth towards summer, I sit at my table out on the deck, the candle flickering as the last stragglers of the bat community head over east, and I, a being once so addicted to “everywhere-but-here”, a global gaddabout of the first order, so easily seduced by salubrious memories of living and working and loving in Europe, North America, India, the Homeland (Aotearoa New Zealand), always ready to go – go – go now, am wallowing in a ridiculous contentment that consumes all desire to spend precious energy fleeing the inexplicable luxury of just this.
How, when my inhalation blesses me with the fragrance of Jasmine, Lavender, Wisteria, Orange and Mango blossom and I am giddy with double delight* at the excessive glory of the huge Bauhinia in my backyard, could I pine for any other clime?
How, when Kookaburra, Currawong, Magpie, uncountable Lorikeets and a host of unidentified cheepers and warblers chorus so insistently at 4am could I wish for a dark, cold, silent dawn elsewhere?
How, when greeted, like this morning, with a sky of powder-blue that throws the Border Ranges and Mount Warning into a chiaroscuro of subtle tones of silver, could I long even for those beloved Alps of my childhood?
I bless the land life has brought me to. It wasn’t my call, and it hasn’t always been easy. But I know beyond a shadow of doubt, it was, and it is, exactly where I need to be.
I am at last able to say – I love I love I love this sunburnt country.
And the weird thing is that it’s not about Australia at all.
I am simply and hopelessly in love.
Image by yours truly: Bauhinia blakeana – also known as the Hong Kong Orchid Tree. More info here.
*Treble delight actually – the tree is a dynamo of insect activity, and the Rainbow Lorikeets never draw breath.
“sunburnt country” – lifted from Dorothea Mackellar’s poem: My Country.
there is a joy
that’s neither an emotion nor a feeling;
that’s unaffected by unkind words
spat from spiteful mouths;
that’s unwounded by hurtful gestures –
off-handedness, rudeness, scorn
there is a joy
that pulses on regardless
of the world’s apparent disarray –
the distress, the abuse and denial –
a joy from which one is choicelessly
propelled into impartial action
there is a joy
that has no opposite, or cause;
it can’t be cultivated or contained,
bought or sold,
given or attained,
yet you’ll never escape its presence
there is a joy
that trashes all your
“teacup ideas” of transcendence;
that sets your wild fearless heart
spinning like a dervish
amongst the sorrows of the world
Image: Rumi on Facebook
propelled by memories of childhood intimidation
I toppled into the Venus flytrap called wee-me
my body’s ultra-sticky reflexive reactions
instantly creating a powerless self
that set about consuming itself
propelled by the practice of presence
I fell back into the changeless nameless
where nothing can stick or stain
and neither self nor no-self are on the menu