Saying For Today: And, when Life Itself is adventure, we do not have to go anywhere to have an adventure. The adventure has us.
*Brian Wilcox. 'Cherubic'. Flickr
A continuance of encounters with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
Space provides no place to abide, no foothold in which to secure our steps. In skylike emptiness, we cannot be stuck. Yet here we are, alive in this wondrous world of appearances,...
*Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. In Love with the World.
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A big shift occurs when you no longer look for adventure or an adventure, but you realize Life is adventure, is the adventure, and your life shares in that Life. Otherwise, you are like a child at Disney World theme park, crying to go to Disney World, missing all the fun, all the adventure of being at Disney World. Too many of us miss the adventure, settling for the status quo, not questioning if what we have been told is the adventure, or only a feeble, ultimately disappointing replica of the real thing ~ Life! Some say, "Get a life!," I say, "Let Life get you!"
I recall a creek near my childhood home. The water was so clean, clear, we could drink from it. I had never walked it, had never taken the adventure to see where it would lead. One day, a few friends and I decided to walk it. We wondered, "Where does this lead?" We stepped into the water and began the meandering trek, following the flow deeper and deeper into the wood, farther and farther from where we began. We had only ourselves, the stream, the wood, the sky, no compass or other means to guide us. We quickly got disoriented. At first, this was scary. We had no idea of where we were going or the direction we were going in. But we kept walking and, suddenly and thankfully, found ourselves stepping out onto some open grassland. We, still, did not know where this land was. It all looked unfamiliar, though I was to see it was less than a mile from my home. After walking more, we found out where we were, for seeing a familiar house, and from there, knew how to get back to a road leading us to where I lived. Looking back on this, I see we had an adventure. We wanted an adventure, we got it. If we had known the whole way where we were and where we were going, would it have been an adventure? Possibly. As adventurous an adventure? Likely not.
See, getting lost is essential to living a life of adventure, and faith can lead one to being lost, as well as being found. Being lost is simply the prelude to being found, as being found the prelude to being lost. Most of our lives, without our maybe seeing, we are both lost and found at the same time. We are the lost and found. And, when Life Itself is adventure, we do not have to go anywhere to have an adventure. The adventure has us.
What do you mean faith? In whom? What?
To live by faith was often used in my earlier years as a religious way of speaking of faith in God. Faith had an object, the God-object. Persons say things like, "I trust God," or "I have faith in God," or “Just have faith,” or "Have faith and all will be well." In Presence, or Oneness, devotional faith can arise. This treats "God" as an object however, and One whom to have faith toward or in. While in Presence, or Grace, faith is called pure faith, arising as Life Itself. This faith does not have to go anywhere, so to speak, to be faith, to faith. This trust is not in itself toward anything, anyone, "God," and, so, is an inner certainty spontaneously arising and disappearing as one means of Life expressing Itself. In the purest action of faith, there is no one having faith, as in the purest act of love, no one is present who can claim to be loving anyone.
No one can find where faith is or is not, for faith arises and dissolves like all else inner and outer. The more, then, the mind-and-body is drawn back into Presence, the more faith arises, and the more spontaneously as an expression of the soul, or heart, rather than it being a mental assent or our trying to make ourselves believe in some outside intervention on our behalf, in a confession, or a creed. We do not think ourselves into it, we do not project it toward someone or something outside.
Faith is; faith happens. Most fundamentally, this faithing ~ almost always the Christian New Testament speaks of faith as a verb, not a substantive ~ is Life trusting Itself. In this, one cannot say, "I have faith," for faith is seen not to be a personal possession to have or to express, to get or to lose. Simply, there is nothing personal about faith: you cannot have it, you cannot lose it, you can invite it, you can prepare yourself to be the spaciousness in which faith arises and expresses itself through you and, then, dissolves back into the One.
Where does doubt fit in this?
Faith and doubt are two sides of the same truth. Without doubt, one cannot have genuine, heartfelt faith, and vice versa. These apparent opposites are the ground for the arising of the other, yet they are never truly apart. Indeed, it takes mature faith to have mature doubt, as well as mature doubt to have mature faith. Doubt, in itself, is not a problem, though some have posited it as the opposite of faith. This sets up an opposition within us, and suffering is the result, for doubt, as well as faith, is a natural expression of Grace. If God were a cosmic Person, I could imagine that One saying, "I'm glad you consider me amazing enough that you don't always find it easy to trust that I even exist." God does not have a problem with doubt, humans, in the name of religion and the "god" they have created, have made it a problem. Also, atheists, in the name of the "god" they have created in being against faith in God, have a problem with faith. God as God has no problem with God being God, and so not with faith in God as God.
I assume all faith is good. Is all doubt, likewise, good?
What often appears as doubt is not doubt. Only the person of faith knows how to doubt, the person attached to doubt cannot well doubt; the person of faith who doubts knows doubt in a complimentary communion with faith. Again, faith alone, separate from doubt, is not the faith of which we speak, though it may by superstition, wishful thinking, or otherwise.
A person attached to apparent doubt is showing not doubt as much as willfulness, pride. Doubt is living, while the capacity only for doubt is dead and deadening. In some cultures, doubt is now celebrated, faith defamed. The religious are seen as naďve and stupid, out-dated, dumb, the doubters as the enlightened, the ones in-the-know. This is all an ego game, and the trick is on those who criticize genuine religious faith. This so-called progressive thinking is itself wishful thinking, while it points its so-called superior fingers at the apparently deluded religious. You hear this from comedians who make jokes about religion, showing they have little knowledge of the nature and diversity of religion.
See, the inability to have faith is not an expression of doubt, not as we speak of it, but an expression of ignorance and willfulness and, yes, arrogance. How sad to see persons running about on the surface of mind accusing others of the same, thereby not seeing they are not beginning to touch the depths of Life themselves. So, I would say, as many liberals could accuse conservatives of blind faith, the conservatives could reply with an accusation of the blind doubt of many liberals, liberals who have now, ironically, placed faith in human capacity, which is itself faith. Yet, in the latter, the human remains at the center, and this has not proven a means to an end any of us want. We humans have sufficiently disproved the virtue of humanism, sadly some have failed to see the broken axle will not support the vehicle of self-salvation.
You said faith can lead one to being lost, that sounds contradictory.
As with doubt and faith, there is no point of separation between being found and being lost. The whole idea that “I’m found” or “I’m lost” is part of our deluded thinking. To prop up our sense of self, the ego, we create these divisions. We feel safe feeling found, unsafe feeling lost. Such egocentricity needs to create this illusion of the lost or the found, rather than the lost and found. Either, on the other hand, lost or found is equally safe, as long as one is living in union with Grace. When in Grace, you come to feel being lost as welcome ~ it feels adventurous, it feels natural. When you are lost, that feeling is where you can feel the pregnancy of open spaciousness. Usually, when we feel found, we relax and lose the acuity of expectancy. We become indolent. We serve the norm.
Is there a way to live the adventure, rather than have it at times and, then, lose it?
Yes, the moment you fall in love with Life, your life becomes adventure, that very moment a rebirth occurs. You begin living an attitude of expectancy, of good, of blessing, of joyful surprises. You sense the Universe is for you, not against you. You sense Life and your life is not captive to luck, whether called good or bad. In this love, you realize you do not have Life or a life, not really, rather you realize directly the freedom of Life Itself, and you are part of that freedom. You realize that freedom is not in Life serving you as much as your being the servant of Life.
Where I came from, persons would speak of having a romp in the bed with someone, meaning to have sex. When you jump in bed with Life, this is what I mean, Life becomes a romp. Life becomes love-sharing, loving. Once you taste the freedom of this being-in-Love with Love, with Life, you will never want to return to your life; your life, if not dead, will be slowly dying into the joy of Life.
When spiritual guides speak of dying to self, they mean this ecstatic transformation where the old, limited life opens to the ever-knew, unlimited Life. This is eternal Life, here, now, not there and then. This is not a morbid death, but a dying into Life, from Life. Yes, a cause for celebration ~ I died! now I live! Your life, afterward, becomes a continuous resurrection, a spontaneous revelation. This is the life of awakening Eastern sages speak of ~ continuous resurrection, ceaseless wakefulness, peace unspeakable.
How does our meditation fit into this?
I once wrote, “We simply cannot think ourselves into the life Life wishes to give us, to bless us with. Yet, we can easily think ourselves out of the adventure Life offers us.” Meditation invites us into a spaciousness to be open, be receptive, not to think, not to wait for anything to happen, but simply invite Life to manifest, to present Itself. This is a reason Silence is so difficult for many: they have decided what they want to happen before they sit quietly long enough to see what Life wants to do. They want enlightenment or God or to hear God or something other to show up and do something, some addition to Life Itself. Just to sit with Life is not enough ~ not spiritual enough, not moral enough, not holy enough. Simply put, Life as an end in Itself does not please them. They do not realize the desire itself for more to happen shuts out the freedom of the spaciousness itself, for it creates conditions imposed on the spaciousness, effectively placing boundaries to the boundless, saying to Life, or God, "Be this, be that," "Do this, do that." They have already, through prior intent, often through training in group-thinking, thought themselves out of the adventure of simply receiving Life, or God, without That needing to do anything or anyone wishing That would do anything. To experience God fully, God does not need to do anything, but we humans politely expect God to do something to show us God is present, for we are often blind to God as God being already present. We want Life-plus-something, not just-Life. This is a subtle, spiritualized greed. As long as the “I” is present with an agenda to get something or get God to do something, “I,” with its thinking, is seeking to control what happens in the spaciousness, and that shuts it down. Simply put, the ego, fearful of releasing expectations on even the Absolute, plays being the Absolute.
The key to meditation, as life, is to relax into the not-knowing, the adventure, then your life becomes an adventure, a sacred unfolding. You no longer are looking for, waiting for, asking for an adventure. Life is adventure. If you say “No, my life isn't adventure,” then, you are not allowing Life to manifest as Life chooses to show itself, and you are missing seeing how It already is what it is; your idea of, so thought of, how your life is to be is blocking Life as It is and, so, how Life is able to manifest without your interference. Life was here long before you; God too. Realizing this can help us wisely realize just how insignificant and ineffectual our demands on Life, or God, are.
So, as to thinking, we're to stop thinking. How can we live without thinking?
Thinking has a role, use it as a tool in the domain for its utilization. Thinking is useful where thinking is called for. Thinking blocks Life when we apply thinking outside where thinking is wisely used; thinking comes up against its limits, and there thinking must be relaxed and nonconceptual openness, the spaciousness, allowed to be totally present in awareness. There is a time to think, a time to witness thinking.
What do you mean “witness thinking”?
There is a difference between thinking and thought, or thought arising. The brain will always be generating thought, whether you consciously agree to that or not. In fact, if you try to repress thought, thought increases. Mind can be understood as I, at times, use it, as the capacity of thinking. More simply, mind is thought. Without thought, there is no mind. Buddhists wisely speak of "no-mind." We can find a brain, we cannot find a mind, no one has found a mind. Some teachers say to let the mind look at itself; that is like saying let the eye see itself or let a knife cut itself. Mind cannot look at itself simply for mind is not present in the first place.
To “witness thinking” means awareness observing the self-generating of thoughts as they come and go. That awareness is an expression of Awareness Itself, or Universal Intelligence, or Consciousness. Once awareness witnesses thinking, thinking is transformed into simply thought arising and dissolving in awareness, for awareness shifts the locus of consciousness from the thinker, “I,” to itself. Now, thought is occurring as a process of brain functioning, but no thinker of thoughts is present. Meditation is not about negating thought, but allowing thinking to be transformed into the natural flow of thought, for thought is simply one expression of the manifold Life. Awareness, the witness of thought, replaces the "I" as thinker of thoughts.
So, your contention is that thinking hinders life being adventure?
Yes, thinking treats life as an object, something the “I” thinks about, mulls over; in this, life is treated as something to master, to understand, not be in communion with in mutual-mystery. Again, to the metaphor of romp in the bed: one cannot become immersed in thinking about the act of sex and be one with the act of sexing at the same time. “Romp” speaks of a freedom, a giving oneself to the act with the other, not an analyzing of. "Romp" speaks of ecstasy, literally, "standing outside oneself." If I see you and am thinking about you, analyzing you, that blocks closeness with you, even as if I come upon a flower and begin analyzing it, that removes me from intimacy with the flower. The flower has become an object, rather than another subject, one with the subject I am. What the heart longs for, is for you and the flower to be one I am, not one I analyzing another I, or it. Communion is negated by analyzing, for such mentalization annuls the inter-subjectivity of communion, or, literally, "the sharing of oneness."
Recently, on a meditative walk, I came upon a tree and hugged it. There was nothing special about this. No metaphysical experience to have, nothing to hear, no altered state of consciousness to seek. Intimacy meant simply hugging the tree as the tree. From that one experiences a delectable connection. So, adventure is hugging Life, and letting Life hug you... one embrace, wholehearted in nature. Again, as with Life, just be with Life. Do not impose expectations. Let Life be revelation, Its own epiphany ~ you are Life seeing Itself in the mirror Life is.
Why do we revert easily to thinking when such is not needed and is counter-productive?
We could not analyze the trip along the creek. For it to be and remain an adventure, we had to give ourselves to the adventure, the whole of it: the sky, the stream, the wood, each other, … We had to keep walking and see where it would lead, one step at a time. If we had allowed fear to take over, the adventure would have been lost, while fear could be used as energy for the adventure. When awareness witnesses fear, fear can be a friend, a means of transforming energy. Yet, if you get caught in thinking about fear, fear tends to have you, not you have fear. Again, fear is not in itself a problem, we get hooked when the "I" turns fear into an object to think repetitively about ~ this empowers fear. Awareness sees fear, the "I-thinker" thinks fear.
So, in life. The ego turned in on itself – egocentricity – fears losing its place, for orientation to its place means security to its sense of itself. The unfamiliar is a blessing to the true Self, to the ego often seen as unwanted territory. The egocentric “I” does not want an adventure, it wants to feel safe, it fears feeling and looking vulnerable to others. The Self, the Soul, has no fear of an adventure, it wants an adventure, always. Who you truly are has no interest in the status quo; the one Soul has an aspiration for the romp in the bed with Life, with Mystery.
To close, today, ... I had an opportunity to move once. It looked like a dream come true. I would move into the Great Smokey Mountains, in the middle of a national forest, on the side of a mountain, into a hermitage, and I would live in solitude. What began many months prior, as an offer that appeared to suit me and my lifestyle, fell through at the last, within two weeks of moving belongings down southward fourteen hours there. Over these many months, a lot of prayer and thought and planning had gone into this, to end in less than twenty-four hours. Some matters about inconsistency in what I had been told arose, among other things, and I backed out quietly and politely. This was, in a sense, a big loss, some would say. I lost the new beginning I had hoped for, worked for, prayed for. Yet, really, it was no loss, not from another perspective. I had wondered how I would readjust to remaining where I was, and again wondering where the next place was for me to move to and live. Still, I awakened the next day and felt a freshness of energy, a new lease on life, and a peace unspeakable, all confirming I had made the right decision. I was as lost as before, and as found as before, so really neither. I was in love with Life, now, here. When in love with Life, you cannot fall out of love with Life. Love does not come and go; Life does not appear and leave. Adventure transcends the where and how. Even a door closing on what appeared as an adventure can be the continuance of an adventure you are already in, and may not see.
So what, one door closes, but how many may from one door closing, open? Possibilities die, and often we look back in gratitude they did, while potentiality remains alive. The door of Grace, with all inherit in Its propensity at gifting us, never is shut, to anyone, anywhere. Life is always open, inviting us to enjoy and live inside the openness.
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*Brian Wilcox. 'Flow'. Flickr
*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.