*Brian Wilcox. 'a flower in the Light'. Flickr
Taken after a group meditation in Meeting house of Midcoast Friends, Demariscotta, Maine.
At distance, flower sits in window of streaming light, ironically as Quakers speak of the 'Light' in an inclusive way as that one sits in attention upon in the Silence of worship.
* * *
falling to sleep in the Silence
my head on chest
I awaken awake, moving face upward,
to Truth that never slumbers
I awaken awake
to the bliss of this gloriously fallible Journey
I am so blessed ! to be here
alert or sleeping
with You, who never leaves, who never sleeps
You, the sleep of my sleep,
as You are the wakefulness of my wakefulness
not two, one
this I have learned
the Way has taught
~ do not lovers relish slumbering in one embrace? ~
Silence, "Thank You"
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Awake or Sleeping, You Are." July 4.2019.
We can only live freely, when we see both perfection and imperfection are appearances. So, reality is, essentially, neither. Then, we accept the ideal and non-ideal as neither ideal nor non-ideal. All is. So, we can embrace it all absolutely, even while we live in the relative world of appearances. In this "Yes" to it all, peace arises. Possibly, the entire spiritual path is learning to lean into this "Yes," while, at the same time, living in this relative world where we live among contrary appearances. Spirit sees through the appearances, seeing through your eyes the Truth.
* * *
As I have noted before, one of the challenges of the way is to be compassionate toward ourselves. I once read a psychologist say, "More than one moment of guilt is a waste of time." He was pointing out the need to be compassionate toward ourselves, and how wasteful it is to spend time in self-recrimination, rather than self-appreciation. Likewise, even as we are fallible beings, the wisdom path embraces equally what appears as perfect and imperfect, even as we do, for we are, as noted yesterday, the path. As Richard Rohr, the Christian contemplative, titled one of his books, Everything Belongs. And, it does, for it is.
* * *
Recently, two friends who attend the Quaker Meeting I attend, spoke of a late Friend who often would go to sleep during Meeting. Then, from the quiet, while others were in silence, would arise loud snoring. Someone near the dear one snoring would wake the person up; then, later, this would recur. The Meeting enjoys remembering the blessing of this late snoring Quaker, when anyone falls to sleep and snores. I would say a snoring Quaker in Meeting would be both humorous and wonderful. Based on my readings of the Psalms of the Jewish Scriptures, a devotional Jew might say, "A snoring Quaker in Meeting is praising the Blessed One." Indeed, if, as the Psalms say, "The entire Earth is filled with the Glory of the One," we could agree sleep and snoring during gathered worship can be filled with that same Glory.
* * *
Once, a solitary visited with the sage, the solitary, who had meditated many years and was now in his senior years, wanted to inquire about something he saw as a problem in his times of quiet meditation. He had not this apparent problem when younger.
The solitary said, "Sir, I fall asleep often when I am in meditation. I get a good night of rest. I have tried choosing the right times of the day, when I am less likely to fall asleep, and I sit upright, but sometimes I fall asleep. I have done all I know to avoid this falling asleep. I used to never go to sleep in meditation. What shall I do?"
"When you have done all you know to discourage falling asleep during the silence, and you still fall asleep, enjoy the sleep."
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
* * *
After meditating for over 25 years now, I am older and my need for sleep has increased, as well as how more easily I can fall asleep in meditation at night. I used to be able to meditate at any time, day or night, and not go to sleep. No more.
Sometimes, I fall asleep in the Quiet and keep waking up, and go to sleep again. This cycle continues. I am learning to accept that when I go to sleep, the body is saying, "Brian! I need some sleep." This is like the body saying, "Brian! get me some food." This is natural.
I find it prayerful when going in and out of sleep, that in the sleeping phase, I seem to still be in a posture of Quiet, and I enjoy that phase, before the return to not-sleeping. I prefer this to getting up and just going on to bed.
* * *
Wisdom would teach us the body is wiser than we often give it credit. Many persons locate wisdom only in the head, brain. Yet, the body speaks to us. We need to listen to this precious body we have been given.
Also, when one has become stabilized in inner quietness, usually after years of meditation, one is not as easily removed from the sense of prayerful presence; after all, sleep and deep sleep is only different manifestations of Consciousness. Hence, as noted in my above testimony of how I work with going to sleep in the Quiet, one can experience the Quiet not being negated by sleep. When the body reawakens, there is a spontaneous recognition of Presence, of the Quiet, for that connection was not lost during the sleep.
This is not meant to say going to sleep does not matter, that a person should be lax about this matter. Anyone in meditation practice can learn ways to discourage this falling asleep. Yet, it will happen to him or her, and more likely with age and, also, during illness or times of deprived restfulness ~ we are all human, thankfully. Meditation is not meant to negate our humanness, but is a compassionate practice to integrate our humanness. Meditation is, likewise, part of the path that is meant to integrate the humor of being fallible sentient beings.
* * *
Any spiritual path has these two ingredients, or it is not spiritual: wisdom, compassion. So, here, with the imperfections of our spiritual practices, we may learn wisdom on how to work with these, as well as learn compassion that we can never live up to our ideals, and that the imperfections of our path are part of the joy and beauty of the way. We can learn the value, too, of learning from wise guides who have faced the challenges we encounter in fidelity to the way. Possibly, also, we will see that the apparent failure to live up to our spiritual ideals is itself a legitimate and beautiful aspect of the living, ever-self-revealing path.
*Brian Wilcox. 'our brief and precious life together'. Flickr
*(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019