Thursday, February 14, 2008
Bromeiliads and breathing; quantum awareness
Bromeliads are epiphytes. Like other plants, they derive their nutrition from photosynthesis, but do not sink roots into dirt--they get their water from the air. Hence their colloquial name, "air plants."
Over the life of this blog, we have examined numerous questions regarding the nature of air and breathing, as understood within the Gurdjieff system and other religious and esoteric disciplines. During the trip to Guatemala, one relatively new and, I think, interesting impression struck me.
On Tuesday morning last week, we were driving in the car towards Yaxha, one of the larger Mayan cities near Tikal.
The way that the world was arriving in my organism that morning had a remarkable and unique sensation to it: a sensation not completely unfamiliar, but one that, as it deepens over time, provokes a different level of understanding about the entire phenomenon of physical sensation itself.
I described it to my wife Neal as the impression of experiencing reality as being "granular" in nature.
As usual, the words basically fail to meet need, but words are all we have.
It goes something like this. "Reality" itself is a "soup:" it is composed of an infinite number of tiny "particles", or grains, each one of which is in fact a vibrational interaction. The particles are too fine to see, are constantly in motion, and forever undergoing transformation. But they are there: a veritable sea which we inhabit, a sea of fineness of impression which we are, generally speaking, much too coarse to perceive.
Consciousness arises directly from this ocean of interactions; it is an intimate part of it: cannot be separated from it. There is, in other words, no difference between consciousness and non-consciousness; all "mind" and "not--mind" arises from and exists within the same endless medium. At the quantum level, distinctions and boundaries cannot even be visible.
Hence the division between mind and not-mind absolutely must, as the Zen masters indicate, be artificial: even from a strictly scientific point of view.
Our organism has the ability to sense this. We don't need to take a drug like LSD to do it; of course, that will work, but the organism has the ability to perceive this without the addition of any artificial chemicals. It becomes a matter of doing enough inner work to become sensitive to the possibility.
A good deal of this has to do with the ingestion of the sacred substance oft referred to as "prana," and putting the intention and the attention at the point where air enters the body in order to acquire it-- a form of what is generally called "pranayama," which practice is actually closely related to the work of completing the inner octave. If it begins to work properly, the body can do a great deal of this type of work or on its own, but there is no substitute for our own effort even after that begins.
What struck me about the question on this particular morning was that air does not just enter the body through the nose, mouth, trachea, or lungs. It does not just enter the body through the inner flowers, either, although acquiring an understanding of that is relatively important.
The skin is, you see, perhaps above all a breathing organ.
The granular perception of reality is directly related to the way that the prana in air affects the body as it enters through the skin itself. That is to say, we are not just built as machines that can take in sacred substances through the "main passage" of the lungs which ultimately connects to the six sacred "points" or flowers within the body.
We are, in fact, sponges, with the ability to absorb prana throughout the entire body, at countless individual points (probably what the yoga schools refer to as nadis) located at the breathing pores of the skin.
This aspect of absorbing reality in its entirety through the entire organism as a single organ of perception is quite interesting to me. The potential for this is certainly contained within the implications of the enneagram, but apparently the question is larger than the way I originally formulated it in various earlier essays on the subject.
So it follows from this that the body itself, which appears to us--in both ordinary sensation and in terms of its visual and physical structure--to be solid, is actually a transparent entity. This is reminiscent of many things that have been said about the nature of physical reality by Yogis, Zen masters, and Carlos Castaneda's sorceror Don Juan.
It makes perfect sense. After all, from a quantum point of view, every organism (as well as every other physical manifestation) consists of quantum interactions, that is, vibrations that resolve into a physical reality. Every cell in our body is a seething collective of quantum interactions. The quantum level, the level of vibration itself, affects everything.
What I realized here, as I contemplated the granular nature of reality, and the impressions of life as they arrived through the skin itself, is that human beings have the ability to sense things at a very, very different level. There are many intimations of this in spiritual and esoteric literature; true, none of them describe it exactly that way, but if you peel away the layers of the onion, that is what they are saying.
This is truly miraculous, is it not?-- in a state of greater refinement, consciousness is able to perceive the quantum nature of reality.
God bless you all in your various efforts today. May sacred joys and sorrows fill your life and feed your being.
And, as always,--
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.