Those other lives–are they from the past or future?–hover about me, weaving themselves into my consciousness intermittently, reminding me of the true dimensions and the nonlinear nature of reality. At times they help me realize the choices I’ve made in this life are made of the same stuff as the roads not taken.
Fortunately, attention is not a commodity to be plundered like a vein of raw material. It’s a renewable resource whose value never diminishes. The domain of the inner commons is where precious resources may be buried but not tarnished.
But honestly, tell me you can look into the eyes of stranger or even someone you know intimately without having this experience. Maybe not all the time, but with rising frequency. What do you see? A desperate search for signposts or guidance or truth or any modicum of trust?
I have wandered off from the campfire. I’m roaming in the dark, placing myself at the mercy of beasts of the night, divorced from camaraderie, landmarks, scents, ancestors, teachers, children, the whirling firmament and the community of souls that brought me here.
For two decades before his death, he became a study in deepening humility, self-deprecating humor, compassion and generosity, a slow softening process. I don’t know if it was deliberate or if some inexorable conviction took hold of him and he simply released and rode its momentum all the way into shore.
If there is an object of practice, it is to stop trying to be something, to unwrap the most subtle layers, progressively unmasking the operation and direction of the CEO, the games, identities, directives and assumed capacities of ego, until there is nothing left but living in the stream, free of all bardos. Non-meditation.
A quiet heart is a still place within a storm. It is where the voices of ego, judgement, instinctive self-preservation and grasping may penetrate, but to which an aggressive response is not automatic. A quiet heart is not immune to desire or greed, not dissociated from attachment, anger or sadness, confusion or grasping.
It seems perfectly logical to say we will all be confronted with a series of moments tightening the grip of death in which we will have to decide what we believe and what our conscious role shall be in attending and adapting to a process that is both in and out of our hands, that is entirely real and entirely illusory.
Being in an increasingly delicate and uncertain state for the past year for multiple reasons, it’s time to reassemble the elements of one’s known and unknown universe, the pieces scattered over a troubled and troubling landscape, to rediscover–or recover–one’s place in relationship to the ones close at hand and the ones far from view.
Reconciliation carries an implication of justice, a balancing of accounts. In this case it’s an honest discovery of others’ suffering while realizing our own mortality, complicity and limitations.