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.)
the empress of emptiness
by her cronies and courtiers
see, she refused to wear
their stitched-together stories
one more moment: she
no new clothes (or old)
she is only visible to
the innocent eye
a nobody, a no-thing
she is, simply,
whatever you choose
to think she is
In all these decades of stalking
the sages’ “who am I?”
I’ve only learned what I’m not.
I thought I was this body,
these thoughts and feelings
and the timeline on which
they inscribe their stories.
But how can I be anything perceived
or felt or conceived?
Or remembered or imagined?
I’d have to split myself in two:
one bit of me to be the viewer
and one to be the view.
If I can’t split myself in two
(have you tried it?)
well, um m m m m
how can I claim that I’m even one?
Indivisible T H U S N E S S is present;
yet to claim that it is ‘one’
turns out to be
a thought too far.
Sartre was right: Hell is other people.
I don’t know enough about the man or his play to be sure that he was right for the right reason.
But I do know that whenever ‘others’ enter one’s life-play, the split from wholeness has happened, meaning, a ‘me’ has morphed.
Most readers of Sartre take the “hell” of “other people” to be their capacity to annoy or frustrate one.
But it seems to me that hell is the capacity of the imagined ‘me/myself’ to annoy and frustrate itself by turning the equally imagined ‘others’ into victimizers or objects of desire, or those who must be pleased with me and like me, regardless of the cost to body, happiness and sanity.
In other words, turning them into stories.
And then believing it’s all true and real.
The penny slipped through a crack in the basket-case I used to take for ‘me’. It fell, spinning like a dervish – one side chasing the other in the cosmic dance of dualism. And eventually, obeying the laws of entropy, it ran out of momentum and stopped.
It came to rest in the Real, the changeless,
where both its sides are equally true and valid.
It came to rest in the Real, which had been its home all along,
and it knew as much.
It knew it had never,
in spite of all its spinning and spending,
ever for one nanosecond left the Real,
because the Real is one without a second,
the Real is all there is,
the Real is totality, wholeness.
What a gobsmacker to realize that the two-sided penny called duality,
with all its stories, is inseparable from the Real.
Neither is the basket-case.
All Holy! Halleluiah!
So, here I am this soft mellow morning with a persistent itch on the brain. It tells me I should have been more … patient … understanding … tolerant … in the family encounter of yesterday.
It’s closely followed by another itch that tells me my behavior was … direct … honest … overdue.
Then something that doesn’t feel itchy in the slightest says “There’s the mirror old girl. Take a look.”
“Bad bitch, good bitch – is LOOKING-KNOWINGNESS affected by these arguing itches?”
The itching bitching wags its tail. What a good game! Toss me another story to tear up!
‘Wee-me’ loves to think of itself as being ‘what-one-really-is.’ And with the application of very odd logic it also claims to be able to change, train, control and make-up its own mind.
I looked everywhere for it, within and without. Being led to believe that I’d found it – by believing others’ stories about me, I tried all the tricks to train it, heal it, change and control it. I became a better story – again according to others.
But I knew I was a phony, a dissembler.
I couldn’t live with such incoherence. I had to take the inquiry deeper.
One day, having tracked the poor ‘wee-me’ thing to its archive in the thought-stacks, I gazed into its pathetic, cowering, tear-brimmed eyes and saw my shimmering mirage-self. I saw its terror at being exposed. I hugged it and told it not to worry. It fell into this Heart.
The gap between wee-me-myself and Selfing snapped shut.
That was the day the weeping ended.
mmmmmmmmm m m m m m m . . .