At Sea

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A portal appears. I am bathed in light, warm, soft, welcoming, forgiving, familiar. It fills me with a reminder of what has always been true. What I have known, what I have misunderstood, what I have dared to wish for, what I have forgotten, all emerges unexpectedly, like a musical styling never heard before, now returning.

The teachers always say to relax. But such a thing can only be achieved or expected to a limited degree. This quality of relaxation cannot be constructed. We cannot simply relax out of our human frame of reference, leaping beyond ego to see from an entirely different reference point. Attempting to do so relies on the very mental activities responsible for our blindness, the very behaviors we have used to climb the illusory ladder, the gradual path, to arrive here in the first place. To circumvent them now, not merely ignoring them, would be to see through them as if they no longer exist.

And that’s the point, is it not? To extinguish the very idea of a reference point? Perhaps trekchod (cutting through) is nothing so dramatic after all. Perhaps it’s simpler than it’s made out to be, more accessible than imagined. How does one “make space” for this? How can one make space for…something so elusive as this? That is the mystery. Perhaps I’m receiving an answer. The shift from ‘normal’ mental activity to a condition of relaxation, ‘cutting through,’ dropping through or ‘making space’ for a different way of seeing is quite subtle. But it truly is a relaxation. Not in the familiar sense in which we understand deliberate relaxation, doing so from within the fortress of ego. Such an approach is actually a mis-direction, a distraction. The nature of this relaxation is not even really a physical experience, though physical relaxation is a by-product. In this case, the activity of ‘thinking mind’ is cast in a wholly different and fresh light.

One cannot merely sweep away the activity of mind as if it’s some Herculean task, moving mountains of manure, searching or foraging into the most remote corners of consciousness with a mental broom or shovel, only to be overtaken by the relentless appearance of More. No, not at all. The task is to deconstruct the stable itself. Not relaxing the mind exactly; relaxing the thinker, the one entranced by the activity of mind.

But specifically, not in any deliberate way. As long as the mind is regarded as an object, as Other, and especially as Self, by the originator of that mind, attempting to relax thoughts will forever be an exhausting and ultimately misdirected task. ‘Relaxing the mind’ means relaxing the structure of mind, turning off the entrancement, allowing the entire architecture housing thought, the very idea of ‘my’ mind, to collapse. The dualistic view one has about mind as a phenomenon collapses into an awareness of Mind, infinite spaciousness not limited or contained in any way. Non-meditation.

It feels like stepping out; stepping out of thinking, out of identity, even the undoing of that identity, stepping away from the entire drama of being someone, a personality with a history, an agenda, a need to continue, to be perceived, to perceive oneself in a certain way. Such an experience highlights the random nature of all events, the appearance and disappearance of all things. And thus, wherever attention is drawn, beginning with inhabiting the structure of identity itself to the most minute and fleeting objects of attention, is determined by karma. Unless we become truly able to arrest that process, we cannot simply look away.

Everything before me, all thoughts, sensations, emotions, are only one thing: emanations from nothing, originating as nothing, unconditioned, becoming nothing; each a tiny wave upon a vast and gentle ocean. I am held, lifted and aroused, born by the mystery and the familiarity, the variety, simplicity and purity of everything being just as it is, unique, unchanging, and also being nothing whatsoever, appearing, disappearing and leaving no trace.

There is nothing to renounce; nothing to attain. There is only supreme relaxation, a surprisingly accessible, easy and straightforward condition, which is really no condition at all, only a subtle side step from ordinary awareness, without fanfare or drama, without a director and without consequence. No coming or going. Emptiness, dhamakaya, at the heart of all, fullness in the heart of all, without words or messages; nothing to do or be. Is this space? Is this the nature of what has no nature, the heart essence of the Beloved? Is this the time of having no time?


Superimposed on this essence, this condition of being unconditioned, is the vividness of lucidity, sambhogakaya, an innate brightness without source. It is the limitless expanse defying categorization, Being enjoying itself, the frequency of vibration intrinsic to all space. And beyond lucidity is the manifest nature of becoming a ‘thing,’ an ongoing ‘event’ level of Being, nirmanakaya, the realm of unnamable presence, which has nothing but absence at its heart. This is the nature of the three kayas, distinct yet non-existent, in unity, separately. Not layers, not even organs of differing functions, they are distinguishable, yet inseparable. Things are not things independent of them. Yet also, because of them, things are not things at all.

So it’s come to this. All the searching, striving, study, assimilation, conjecture, telling myself the story I want to hear, breaking open, closing again, remembering, forgetting, a lifetime of compliance within a field of wandering, constructing my boat, testing myself, riding waves, winds according to impulse or duty, it all comes to this moment; falling open.

I consume pita chips without awareness just now because I’m hungry, yet am also consumed by an inner quiet. No outward motion or need, no compulsion or mechanical adherence to random inner commands can disturb me. These are the mechanics of life, of the body, all understood, accepted, un-judged, even humorous in their urgency. All are included, regarded equally, experienced and allowed to disappear like pebbles sinking beneath the surface of a pond, momentary disturbances of an otherwise implacable and impeccable presence. Or like bubbles, once distinct and magical, bursting on my open palm.




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