Monday, April 21, 2008
A material relationship
What do our relationships consist of? And how can we establish a more material relationship with truth?
I ask myself these questions as a consequence of a brief drive I took at lunch to pick up some food for the dog. In my own case, more often than not, it's these unglamorous events -- rather than the cosmic glow of weekend spiritual retreats -- that produce miraculous insights. This reminds me that it pays to always and everywhere remember that the miraculous is always right here, right now--in the ordinary weave of a cotton placemat on my desk; light reflected from an oval heliodor gem; the fine, delicate swirls of a cobalt blue glaze on antique porcelain.
The click of the computer keyboard.
I don't need to run away to find miracles. I need to stay here so that the miracles can find me.
Spring spread its green-white wings this past weekend, and has achieved full flight. Driving down the local streets around the office in Metuchen, New Jersey, taking in the extraordinary explosion of new buds, leaves, and flowers on the trees reminded me of the story of Brother Lawrence, who saw the life that lurked within leafless branches in the dead of winter--and understood something completely new.
This thing called "spring" which I saw before me just a few minutes ago is part of what he understood.
It is not a small thing. There is an absolute mystery contained within this explosion of life. For a layman, I know a good deal about the biological processes that cause this, and yet none of them can at all explain the impression that I take in. There is a vibration emanating from it: of color, of light, of movement that cannot be described by any mental feat, by any science or philosophy.
I can, however, sense a relationship to it within my body. And that is what took place this afternoon.
As I was driving along, I realized that something in me is quite different than my ordinary state. There is a "forever-possible Truth" of experience available: something within that is in relationship to God ...even if God is not directly present.
And this something is material. It isn't in my mind. It begins within the roots of my body, down in crevices and cracks which cannot be defined by logic or seen with instruments. God has a material presence that can manifest within me and changes my intellectual, physical, and emotional state. This has a direct relationship to that inner force, that other nature, that I have discussed so many times before.
So there has to be a material relationship in order for me to sense reality differently.
Once this material relationship becomes a living entity, rather than a conceptual construction, it supports itself. It isn't born of the mind; if it is born, yes, the mind "discovers" it exists, but it has always been there. It is my awareness that does not know it... my mind itself usually stands in the way of it. Here's the supreme irony: my mind swallows awareness. And in that state, I perpetually hope that "God" will swallow "me," instead of seeing that
..."I" must swallow "God."
When we inhabit a more organic state of being, we inhabit a living universe. Of course, we are always inhabiting a living universe, but with a new relationship to the organism, we know that we inhabit this living universe, not just with the head, but with all of our parts. In such a way, everything becomes more natural, flows more easily, makes more sense. The knee-jerk resistance that I prefer to offer to my life at most times is replaced by a more cooperative attitude that allows me to explore each situation, rather than trying to control it.
The difficulty with me is that I always seem to try to think the relationship. I treat life as though consciousness were a plot that could be laid out on a sheet of paper and then followed. "If I do such and such, I will be more conscious. If I behave so and so, I will be more meritorious."
This is a constant habit.
What I forget when I think in such a way is that to discover any truth, the truth has to be inhabited. Not thought about. So in trying to cultivate the inner relationship, which arises out of stillness in the silence, I make an effort to discover that I have substance. To discover that I am a living, breathing piece of flesh, rather than a ghost that arises from imagination, lives within imagination, and can never touch anything solid.
Can we be bold enough to replace "i" with "a"-- to inhabit ourselves rather than inhibit ourselves?
We can, at least, try.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.