stalking the numinous niche

This confession was originally posted on my blog this unlit light in 2011.  Recently I’ve been reminded about the little cache of my writing that quietly rests over on that blog and it’s been suggested that I share some snippets here for readers.  I figured that when the time was ripe to do so, I’d get a prompt.

It came a few days ago, over lunch with a couple of dear friends.  We were talking about the way humans seem compelled to “find their tribe.”  To join forces with those of like mind, to feel a sense of belonging and validation.  I had to admit that I’d never found a tribe or group that didn’t end up either disappointing me, or spitting me out for disappointing them.  If I had a tribe it would be in the league of the Rank Outsiders, the Solo Fliers, the Holy Rejects.

The conversation got me reminiscing about my mid-life preoccupation with finding where I fit.  It wasn’t so much about finding a tribe as finding my so-called niche.  It went on for the first half of my life and only disappeared (taking the need for company with it) when the split between the niche-less one and her experience zipped itself up. It had a lot to do with acknowledging what she loved to do (play with colour, texture, visual language), because in that encounter she unfailingly disappeared into the unknowable: into her numinous niche.

I have no idea how it happened. Love has a mind of its own; it slowly seeped out of the studio and spread itself at her feet.  Her niche turned out to be nothing more nor less than the full monty life movie, otherwise known as… S U C H N E S S – to the [n]


 

Lawrence Carroll, Untitled, 2015

 

My Niche is The Unknowable – April 22, 2011

About thirty years ago I confessed to a kindly iridologist that I felt I had failed to find my ‘niche’ in life.  He peered into my bright blue eye-maps and remarked that it was strange, because everything he could read there indicated that I was a highly capable person who could find a niche in many avenues of expertise.

It worried me, that feeling of being niche-less.  I was in awe of those who seemed, from a young age, to know exactly what they wished to do in the world and set about achieving it.  And it wasn’t helped by those who knew the potential here and kept asking when I was going to fully explore (exploit?) it.  I was in my mid 40s and still wondering what I would be when I grew up.

I had all the right tools: a reasonably sane brain, a good education, some skills as an educator as well as in the area of art and design, but my life-path seemed like a meandering groping from one neti-neti to the next.

I tried being a teacher, a broadcaster, a fashion designer, a wife, a lover, a wandering yogini, a ‘professional’ artist.  All those niches ultimately failed to fit. The role that held the most promise was that of the artist, but the funny thing was that whenever the flow of genuine creating was going on in the studio, I wasn’t there.  I mean, ‘artist-me’ was AWOL.  In its place there was a spacious, ownerless activity unrelated to all my small ideas of what should be happening.  And the moment the ‘artist-me’ tried to examine this mysterious activity it would vaporize.  It was ungraspable and unknowable.

Later I would find a philosophy that made sense of this mystery – it is spoken about by sages and artists alike as the movement of pure nondual Awareness. But back then it was a total enigma to me; it put the fire under a lifetime’s exploration of creativity. And it eventually delivered me to the niche I had given up any hope of finding.

My niche turned out to be that ineffable intimate Awareness itself.  And the amazing thing is that it always had been!  It had been my preoccupation for decades, yet I had failed to recognize that it was a valid contender for the niche stakes.  I had conceptualised the niche-notion, irrevocably keeping it at arm’s length and ensuring the survival of a niche-less seeker trapped in time.  Truly, I can be quite slow

When the penny dropped, a lifetime’s worth of seemingly incoherent bits of ridiculousness fell into place.  I fell about laughing like a lunatic.  The absurdity and awesomeness of it!  The beauty and simplicity and grace of it!

Like … landing on a bed of rose petals … sinking into their silken perfume … resting, at last … knowing that this simple at-one-ment always runs below the surface of experience, ALL experience … knowing that you never have to leave … even if it were possible!

– miriam louisa
(With minor editing to accomodate a further seven years’ worth of lightbulb moments.)


Artwork: Lawrence Carroll Untitled, 2015
Artificial flowers, pigment, stain, housepaint, dust
7,5 x 218 x 185 cm


it was a damn good deal

Ceramic sculpture by Haejin Lee

 

Until I woke up
to my unconscious insatiable insanity
it was the tireless weaver
of the fabric of my life.

It wasn’t enough to have mentally unpicked
and clearly seen-through
the myth and mirage
of the solid-state ‘me’ story.

Unconscious residue of that ‘me’
I thought was done and dusted
remained, and so, another unpicking began
– a second-level unpicking if you like.

Waking up to what one isn’t is utterly mind shifting.
It’s tempting to rest in the inevitable sweet relief;
it’s tempting to assume one has attained
the ultimate wisdom.

Yet, although thought likes to tell itself otherwise,
the thrust of cellular conditioning forges on
below the limn,
obvious to everyone but oneself.

I am driven by curiosity –
especially concerning creativity and freedom.
What might I not know about this multi-layered energetic playground
called my life? An investigation was called for.

I saw how the old unconscious imprints
ran deep; how their effects can’t be denied
yet are avoided, by-passed, rationalised
by a self-idea facing sure extinction.

Have you ever unpicked knitting?
You take the single thread responsible for the fabric’s form
and simply pull. The stitches unravel with ease.
If there’s a knot, you tease it free.

Just like that: I grasped the master lie,
and pulled. Stitch by stitch the network of neurology
unravelled. Each stitch was an imprint of pain:
fear, anger or grief.

Separation ceased as each imprint was fully felt
without one word being brought to the alchemy.
(Commentary, analysis, explanation
are neither required nor helpful.)

The howling insatiability that fuelled
my craziness was slowly sated. An incomprehensible
fulfilment surfaced that has no idea what words like
sanity or insanity might mean.

These days I find it absurd to claim that I am
anything – even “That”, or “Life”, or “Nothing”.
To say “I am” is a lie, yet as a sage once observed,
“the universe is myself”.

The universe chuckles to itself:
“It was a damn good deal – an imaginary ‘me’ for an immensity!
It only cost me everything … and everything
came back, marked perfect, wondrous, eternal.”

 


“I am not, but the universe is myself.” – Shih-T’ou, A.D. 700-790


Ceramic sculpture by Haejin Lee


 

Link

goofiness and the great grok

After the last unashamedly goofy post about cavorting with twinkle-toed Hafiz and a pipe-playing bunny it seems timely to post something a little more … grounded.

Unfortunately Emptiness doesn’t deliver according to demand; this is what turned up. It starts off sensibly enough, but when the metaphorical “clicks” deliver one to the inevitable placeless-place, i.e. when the free-fall occurs, it all gets dizzy again.

(Sorry, but you did sign-up / click-through…)

ALICE and the Quantum CAT

Yes. It’s true. The mind shift out of separation is monumental. That’s why it tends to be mythologised. Yet the ‘happening’ itself is more like a series of extremely subtle nano-gestures; somewhat like the unnoticed adjustments one’s eyes make to a change in ambient light.

In my experience something is definitely ‘felt’ in perception – it’s physical as well as psychological. In other words, the shift can be sensed by something, yet I find the ‘something’ can’t be torn apart from the sensing. I notice, for example, a releasing of muscles in the eye area, the forehead and the back of my head. The top of my head wants to open like a flower.

However, it’s in the psychological arena that the effects are monumental. Imagine, if you will, a little meter in mindspace with a needle that registers ways of perceiving / creating / experiencing one’s world. As the needle moves through the various modes there’s a little ‘click’.

You start off in particle view; you know yourself as a solid-state person with a mind of your own. You don’t need anyone to tell you otherwise, but along comes a sage (or a kind friend) who says that’s a lie. (Ooops.) You explore a bit – maybe try meditation, or check out the evidence presented by your own direct experience. Eventually something causes your boundaries to melt and – you’re awash in wave view.

“CLICK”

You’re feeling pretty cool about your new wave view; it feels amazing actually. It makes you take the so-called spiritual search seriously and you suspect that this is what they mean by ‘enlightenment’. Maybe you crow about it a bit, start entertaining ideas about teaching others the particle / wave trick. But someone or something disabuses you (oh) and you settle down into humble not-knowing-ness. And without moving a neuron, maybe your humility quiets the wave and there’s a shift to oceanic view.

“CLICK”

Oceanic view seems like the pinnacle – enlightenment at last! – yet you find yourself asking, “What’s awaring this view?” Meaning – there’s still a sense of subtle separation. By this stage though, your flotation suit (the one with “ME” laminated in electric yellow on the back) is leaking badly. Your head is in the tiger’s mouth (as they say) and nothing can save you from drowning and dissolving. Now you no longer know any boundaries: self is spaciousness.

“CLICK”

Oh – – – so this is what they mean by cosmic view! Mama Mia, you say, I’m awake and I was never unawake! And it is true – you are awake and you know you are awake. Your eyes are wide with the shock of sensing your self as everything you can perceive as far as perception’s probes can penetrate.

(The sky-dancing sage is cackling and shaking her rattle. She knows the goose isn’t yet fully cooked; there’s more… )

Cosmic view is … yet another view. It’s the one, however, that places you in the neighbourhood of black holes, and eventually Life will make sure you are devoured, entirely devoured, by one of them. Everyone knows there’s no view inside a black hole. No view, and no you.

“CLICK”

{ { { J U S T  T H I S ! } } }

Crikey.

The edifice has been dismantled. Full-on wild wideawakeness pops the eyes right out of the head. Awareness beams itself through the slits in the eyes of Mr Schrödinger’s cat and sees that ‘dead’ and ‘alive’ and Infinite Potential coexist in timelessness. Goofiness floods in. The enigmatic grin of the great grok appears on your dial.*

The why and the how of it can’t be explained. It seems comic that thought desperately needs to bullet-point the ineffable.

As if it mattered!

Life joyously heads out into the theatre of  magical mind, meeting each moment afresh and recognising all arisings as its endlessly-morphing self: “This too! This too! This too!”

And what does the world see? A goof with a silly grin on her face and a cunning cat at her heels (or not).


* ‘Grok’ means ‘identically equal.’ It means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed — to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in…

“All that Groks is God.”


Image – detail from the cover of Alice and the Quantum Cat, edited by William Brandon Shanley – an adventure into the world of 21st century science with contributions from Fred Alan Wolf, Amit Goswami, F David Peat, Nick Herbert, Danah Zohar, Beverly Rubick and Peter Russell. What a line up!

http://www.paripublishing.com/books/alice-and-the-quantum-cat/


lessons from the lifeboat

 

Echoes from Emptiness - Lessons from the Lifeboat

 

Seventy years on and still floating along. This morning’s sit sent me scrambling for my pencil and here’s what downloaded – a list of seven treasured wisdoms the old girl has learnt (so far…)

 

peace

is this rock-solid, inescapable

aware-ing

 

contentment

is simply the end of seeking

salvation

 

separation

is a story without verifiable

substance

 

suffering

is an argument with Life’s

thusness

 

compassion

is meeting Life’s thusness without

a story

 

joy

is unbridled delight at Life’s endless

wonderment

 

grace

is the gift of this unshakeable

understanding

 


Image source


if there’s no ‘there’ out there…

Meditating Woman - sculpture by Dorothy Frankel

 

I keep on checking
but I always fail to find
a ‘within’ or ‘out there’
apart from thoughts in mind

 

so how can I ‘go within’
to ‘nurture’ the Immeasurable
or ‘cultivate’ it in the world
when ‘world’ and ‘me’ are inseparable?

 

if there’s no ‘there’ out there
(and this isn’t hard to see)
the buck stops right here
in this matrix called ‘me’

 

with nowhere to go
and nowhere to hide
no inner, outer, higher or lower
the heart can open wide

 

can kiss each wondrous moment
with a love that can’t be taught
the only way you’ll stop it
is to entertain a thought

 

~

Sculpture: Meditating Woman by Dorothy Frankel

 

proving nonduality

 

Echoes from Emptiness: Painting by Kazuaki Tanahashi

 

machine-mind (programmed for conclusions and certitude) asks:

how can you prove oneness, wholeness, nonduality?

 

fully defragged matrix-mind replies:

simply by failing to find proof of separation

 

[your ultimate and assured defeat in this quest
cancels all the questions
and leaves you blinking
in wonderment:
 
O M G
O N L Y
T H I S !
 


Painting by Kazuaki Tanahashi, at ‘the awakened eye’