*Brian Wilcox. 'living in a colorful world'. Flickr
A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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Experience is a relative, one could say even sacramental, means whereby formless Intelligence acts through matter as a means of solicitation. As a lover might utilize the scent of a perfume to elicit response from a beloved, the Beloved dons creation to elicit a response from that created, drawing one to realize that the Beloved and lover were and always are one. Yet, in form, the lover has forgotten his or her natural abode, asleep in attachment to form as form, and experience summons one to the un-experiencable Oneness. Thereby, one is awakened to form by and as the perfume of the Supreme, not an end in itself, but a means to awaken to and enjoy Life. Then, form becomes the means the Formless and form share love, all being the expression and means of Grace.
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At times, you seem to negate the role of experience. Why's this?
To experience is, you may know, at first applied to our sense of "to experiment." This derived from a root meaning "to try, risk." Later, it took on another meaning. So, experience has a role to play in both these ways. One is the importance of applying, or trying out, the path. So, the whole path is, in a sense, an experiment. You do not know without applying the path practically. And, as the earlier root implies, this can feel risky at times. The greatest risk one may feel is that the path is futile, that it will prove untrue, and one will have bought into a lie. Another felt-risk is that one is not up to the challenge, that the path is for more dedicated or more gifted beings than oneself. What the path as being experimental means is the experiment never ends, for Infinity is Infinity, and one can never reach an end of the path. If one would reach a sense of end, that end itself would be filled with the same Boundlessness as one experimented with from the start. To know, then, the Way as a practical matter helps in applying the wisdom emerging from the path.
Recently, a friend invited me to try almond milk. I had no recall of ever trying it. I tried it out of a spoon, and it tasted good. So, I poured it into the granola dish and enjoyed it. I will buy some for myself. The path is this practical, as practical as trying out almond milk. Yet, you must apply the path, you must experiment to receive the fruits of the Way.
What's the other sense of this?
The common meaning now of "to undergo." Usually, when I speak of experience, this is the use, context shows which sense. As long as we are embodied in this realm, experience will be important for us, even in religious or spiritual matters. Experience is an ornamentation of the Supreme One, is a way the body behaves in this realm. Ultimately, there is no separation between pure Presence and experience, while the latter derives its coming and going from That which does not come and go. Awareness initially is addicted, fixated on, experience, even defining Reality based on its personal undergoing. This shifts, for most slowly, and Being takes center stage, so to speak, and experience is known through the birthless-and-deathless Reality.
So, when you speak of the relativity of the person, is this what you mean, that person is an experience?
Exactly, person is not unreal, but a real experience. Seeing the person, or sense or thought of being a person, comes and goes, it cannot be who you are. You cannot be a person. Otherwise, you would only be an experience, with no substance at all, no more than a shadow. Likewise, though the Supreme is often treated as the hugest, most magnificent person, God cannot be as often depicted in religions. The person reduces even the Totality to the personal, even if the absolute Person. Yet, an experience cannot be God, for cannot be absolute in any sense. Hence, the non-person you are is an expression of the non-person that is your, is our, Source. We can logically ask, "What are you when you are not reflecting on yourself, having no thought or sense of being a self at all?"
I don't have an answer for that. I guess nothing.
You are of the same Nothingness the Divine is. Some in Judaism refer to this by using the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Ayin. Ayin means "nothingness." With a positive spin, they speak of this same Nothingness as Ein Sof, "boundless One." So, that which is nothing is the pleroma that overflows into the universe, as the universe. This cannot, then, be an experience, hence, likewise, you cannot be an experience.
Then, why the person?
Who knows? The ego likes to conjecture about these matters. The wise one knows to walk reverently on holy ground, while others trample around with words flowing out of the arrogance of the ego-sense. Better would be to consider what can this insubstantial, born person be in relation to the unborn, undying person-Source. I like the word "celebration" for this. We can honor the person as a means to celebrate, celebration, then, is praise to the Beloved. In living in a spirit of celebrating life as gift, one honors person as an expression and experience of our true Self and of the Absolute. Possibly, Being naturally chooses to experience life through form, so to experiment. Again, who knows?
So, experience is good, it seems.
Experience is good in itself as purely the effulgence of Life within the forms of this realm. The thought of experience being "good" or "bad" is not experience itself, but an interpretation of experience. Nothing un-good can emerge into form from the Good. Even evil itself is only un-good through the good being contorted from the quality of good in a manner betraying the good and Good. A knife can be used to cut a slice of pie or to stab someone in anger. The knife in itself is only good, in either case. Still, again, this good is not good opposed to not-good, but purely in itself good, without contrast to an opposite. Good in contrast to evil is a quality, good in itself, like the Good, is not a quality. This would be like saying that God is good, but not for not being evil, rather for being simply, purely good.
You said experience becomes less what one relies on as one is drawn to the Center. Do we move away, then, from experience?
As the self is transformed, so is experience. This being transformed is a redirection of self, a reorienting of self to the Center, to Grace. Yet, experience remains. One, to celebrate life, must plunge into life, including the experience of oneself as person. Asceticism has often missed this, I think, and it seems many in nonduality practice a duality in which the person is seen as something to be gotten rid of, like unneeded garbage. Experience, which is one with the experiencer, or person, is the playground of the Holy, so, in oneness with Grace, play, and enjoy experiencing this realm in which all becomes gift to you. The experience, in this sense, of one working as a bank teller is as much a means of the Holy as a hermit living alone in a mountain hermitage. Indeed, the bank teller may be awakened spiritually through his or her experiences, while the hermit may be meditating asleep to the beauty of Life.
*Brian Wilcox. 'radiant presence'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.