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.


tough love

Tough Love? Because most readers will find the contents of this post confronts their comfort-zone. Like happened here when I first encountered these notions. I won’t be surprised if you unfollow this blog, but I’d nonetheless love to think that you’ll take a look for yourself. For yourself. For. Yourself.

faith and hope

 

When you open your newsfeed and scroll through the week’s latest instalment of tragedy and brutality, you are observing the carnage wrought by faith and hope.

Faith and hope are two words sagely trotted out by both traditional and new age purveyors of fixes for the human condition. They feature large in the Christian Bible, and slip easily off our politicians’ tongues at times of crisis. “Only have faith!” “Defend the faith!” “Trust (have faith in) our democratic processes!” “Hope is our salvation …”

We are warned about “losing faith” or “losing hope” as though such absence will lead us to the top of a slippery slope and the inevitable descent into despair.

My teachers were strict. They demanded that every word employed be fully understood in all its implications. They would incisively question words that fed the illusion of separation, or that implied a ‘self’ solid and separate from the all-containing movement of creation. They had no time for those who counselled one to have faith, to hope, or to trust, because each of these positions betrays a desire for a self-satisfying outcome, a result that will bring relief, comfort, security or improvement in the life of the supplicant – or in the world they perceive to be faulty. They pointed out that these words, and others like time, need and want, are just more names for the illusory self, which is the root cause of all violence and suffering. They dismissed those who enthused about the merits of such attitudes with ruthless compassion: “Please come back when you want nothing but the Real.”

And I have grokked this so deeply it actually hurts my heart to hear people tell themselves they only need more faith or hope or trust (or compassion or understanding, or even time) to embody “the peace that passeth all understanding”, when it is the very abandonment of these notions that will throw them into a ‘me’-shattering, heart-melting intimacy with Life. An intimacy that makes future outcomes irrelevant, for the future is seen to be as illusory as the present (a dreaming streaming of perceptions, imagination, and ceaseless commentary); an intimacy that brings the mind unconditional peace and rest.

Let’s get the crucial questions lined up and check them out for ourselves:

Where can the one who needs to have faith (in any ideology) and hope (in any imagined outcome) be found? Be very precise. Where is the world to be found? Again – precision please. Where are disharmony, violence and tragedy to be found?

If you suggest they are all in the mind, tell me, where is one’s mind to be found?

If you can locate any of these, or anything else, outside of your fundamental awareness, you’ll be the first in the entire history of humanity to do so. And you’ll be wrong, because no matter where you stick the pin, it will still be a gesture occurring exclusively in the awareness that you are.

Gertrude Stein put it pithily: “There is no there there.”

If there is no place or time, or me or them, apart from the awareing of them, what does that do to ‘our relationship’ with the streaming shimmering dance we call world? Does it even make sense to speak of ‘relationship’ (which again implies separation), or is there only the streaming shimmering dance, dancing?

What are the implications of that mindshift?

Where is the brutality? The tragedy? The heroism? The suffering? It is nowhere but here, and it is all ours; it is all us – busily entertaining robotic thoughts and believing them to be real.

On the other side of faith and hope there’s a spaciousness that knows exactly how to respond to anything it meets with intense appropriateness. It’s a movement without a centre – without a trace of conditioning, without the burden of memory. We have all experienced it.

Let us rest in that spacious stillness, alert and awake, and see what Life will do with us. It might be something shocking, something we’d never imagine for ourselves. That will be a good indication of its authenticity.

I’ll meet you there.
 


 

In a similar vein, something I wrote in 2009 on ‘this unlit light’ blog:

the universe arises in your light

 


 

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men’s hands
even at the height of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound.

– Hafiz

 


letter to a reformed seeker

Echoes from Emptiness - Cartoon by Michael Leunig

 

Dear (newly wide-awake) reformed seeker –

If you haven’t yet been called delusional, flakey, misguided, weird, out-of-touch, in denial, crazy, mistaken, blasphemous, arrogant, heretical, evil, a nutter…

If you haven’t been judged, shunned, ostracised, scorned, ignored, rejected, excluded, gossiped about, sent to Coventry…

No worries – there’s still plenty of time.

Seven billion stories (and counting) are poised to project their characters onto the empty pregnant space that you know yourself to be.

Hang in there – if you can find a ‘there’ anywhere. (Chuckles)

When the barbs come thick and fast you’ll be astonished to find that they fly right through your shimmering spaciousness. It’s quite a trip actually!

Best

etc


Cartoon by Michael Leunig


the unborn flower of nothing

 

if you want to know
the Unknowable start by
throwing out the absolute
and the relative and
everything between

and should you be blessed
with the capacity to survive
the free-fall
of your o-so-precious
intellectual infrastructure
into roaring silence
into spaciousness
into stillness

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
to itself

 

Echoes from Emptiness - the unborn flower of nothing

 

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.


you won’t find this in iTunes

322

emptiness is ceaselessly singing itself into existence

shhhhhh – if you’re very still and silent
you’ll hear its unstruck sound

in the so and hum of breathtide
and the murmuring pulse of bodybeat

in the spaciousness too vast to be contained
within a bony cranium
you’ll hear the choirs celestial –
the harps, the tinkling bells,
the roaring, flaming om

and you’ll hear it all
without turning an ear

for if you’re curious enough to check it out
you’ll be amazed to find …
the ‘listener’ and that sacred sound
cannot be torn apart

~

great silence

210

Silence.

How I craved silence; how I loved the deafening silence of mountaintop, ocean depth, uninhabited desert.

It was a fix for my mercurial mind,
a de-frag for the neocortex.

In the suchness of this Life, another Silence is now present.
It has nothing to do with noise
or no-noise.

Abiding in, from, – no – as that silence
is living in a boundless space
where noise and no-noise meet no resistance.

~