Wednesday, June 18, 2008
crossing the bridge
Today I'm going to discuss an aspect of practice that has come to my attention recently which is a bit delicate. This is another one of those unfortunate occasions (like all of them, lol) when we have to use words to investigate a wordless phenomenon, and try to use descriptions to define the indescribable.
Practice in the sense of meditation and inner study always springs out of form, and form always begins with words. So, for example, if we are studying the Lord's prayer in our meditative work, we might be studying the phrase, "thy will be done." I am just taking this particular phrase as an example, because any object of inner study or meditation could serve equally well.
In any event, one of the practices that we can attempt is to truly find an understanding of a phrase within the context of our meditation, as we sense our bodies, our breathing, and our overall state. This is a deep way of going into prayer and studying the individual aspects of a prayer, in order to absorb it into the marrow of the bones themselves. This particular effort is one invariable aspect of my daily practice.
In working in this way this morning, I perceived that there is a direct parallel between the question of spirit and flesh, the inner and outer sensation of life, and what one might call an inner and outer aspect to the question of form and no-form within the body of organic experience itself. So this question of form and abandonment of form can become a completely organic question in the context of the meditation.
The outer aspect is the encounter of the body, the mind, and the emotions with the object of study within the context of form.
The inner aspect is the territory in which the form is abandoned, and a complete immersion in the questioning takes place. I would try to describe that further, but I see I can't, so I will stop there.
What interests me is the moment where we find the point between the form, where attention, intention, and effort originally reside, and the actual entry into the aim of the form. In this moment one engages the intention and the attention to cross a bridge from the known to the unknown. One discovers here the difference between the hypotheses and the experiment; between the aim of the archer and the flight of the arrow itself.
Understanding this moment in a deeper way, and discovering a greater interest in it, would represent a leap forward in terms of understanding what it means to stand in the middle. In fact, I see that I have stood in this place many, many times, but I did not know where I was standing. That is to say, I knew, but I did not understand.
So perhaps we can suggest this: one does not have to abandon the form; one does not have to completely immerse oneself in the question of the inner, at the expense of the outer. It is possible for consciousness to discover its balance between these two points so that an exchange can take place between them. And in fact it was not too long ago that a man I considered to be a true master intimated to me that the whole point is to stand in the middle there and see this, rather than to be taken by the form, or absorbed into the absence of form. His contention was that it is exactly here where the birth of something new can begin to take place.
What I am getting at is an expansion of a concept that has been offered for some months now. We've investigated the question of inner and outer impressions and the inner and outer senses for quite some time. The question of the position of consciousness between the inner and the outer in the overall sense of the organism is of course critical. This is where the questions of attention and intention are best investigated.
However, there is an identical set of circumstances within the inner life itself. In the act of meditation, the tension created by the crossing of this bridge between form and absence of form has a magnificent potential.
The flow of energy between the form we create with what we might call "our outer inner being"--that part that calls for help to the unknown -- and the formlessness of the inner inner being, which is in intimate contact with that place that is not silent, but has no words -- is a powerful subject for study.
Man, after all, is a bridge between levels. The nature of the bridge is not to try and be the left side of the river, or to be the right side of the river.
The nature of the bridge is to serve so that movement can take place between the two sides of the river.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.