Bowl with Hare, Spain, 14th century
on loan from Hispanic society of America
Here we are, at the beginning of another year.
This morning, I was pondering the role of beginnings and the note "do" on the enneagram.
Beginnings may look quite ordinary to us. The first note in the octave looks like it's at a low level. We tend to get the impression that when we begin, we start at the "bottom" and work our way "up."
It isn't quite that way. Every beginning is a sacred beginning that emanates from a higher influence. Remember, the note “do” is located on the apex of the triangle representing the law of three. It's actually the highest influence that affects the entire existence and process of the octave. From that initial note, as the octave develops, the energy has to descend and incarnate itself before it can begin its journey back to the higher source it came from. The use of the terms up and down is relative; change in rates of vibration are omnidirectional. The enneagram is, in a certain way, a diagram of a cosmic electrical circuit. In the multiplications, we see a complex field of interaction where higher rates of vibration continually inform lower ones- and vice versa. Energy doesn't evolve in a linear fashion- 1,2,3,4,5,6,7- but in a much more complex one: 1,4,2,8,5,7.
The beginning of every moment, every object, event, circumstance, and condition, is a sacred moment. Reality always begins as it emanates from a higher source. The cyclical process whereby it recognizes itself and then returns itself to the source that it came from is not a journey from down here to up there. It is a journey through relationship in which all directions have a value and each one supports the others.
Our dualistic view of our own lives and relationships contradicts this truth. We don't see that every relationship and direction we engage in–or that engages us–is part of a mutually supportive whole, that in its collective nature expresses the Dharma. The whole point of Dogen's Genjo Koan is to express this wholeness of relationship, which is most certainly part of what we have forgotten when we say we do not remember ourselves.
In a certain sense, the beginning is the most sacred moment of all. If it is rightly recognized and valued, we start out by sensing the divine origin of every action. To truly be aware of this would create a fundamental inner transformation of attitude. That is, of course, an extraordinarily high aspiration which we can't speak of except theoretically.
Everything is under divine influence, higher influence, entering each octave of relationship from the highest possible point within that octave, and then returning to it. It is the iteration and expression of that energy as it develops that determines a man's right work and right action. When we consider this, we can perhaps begin to glean an understanding of Meister Eckhart's contention that all actions originate in God, serve God, and return to God. In the end, there is nothing but the Dharma–there is nothing but God. Every human being, in the course of all of their actions and their entire lives, is a steward of this sacred process that begins at the first note. Hence the overarching emphasis on service and stewardship that permeates the New Testament in the Christian Bible.
To live in the moment– presuming one had the faintest clue of what that means (and although we talk about it great deal, we do not have much of a taste of this) would be to eternally and consciously sense the sacred nature of Being.
It's a ridiculously tall order, I think you'll agree. Here we are, helpless little "slugs," as Hassein described us to his grandfather Beelzebub. Yet we have a wish to sense the sacred nature our existence and the sacred nature of every action. We're very fortunate slugs indeed to have this impulse.
Everything is sacred. Do we know the taste of that? These are not just words; and the inadequacy of words does not take anything away from the truth here. Man is created with an organic ability to know this, to know that he stands at the note “do” at every moment of his life. And to know that life emanates from its first to its last instant, in every expression and iteration, from a sacred source.
A right valuation of this could mean everything to our work. Doesn't the world look quite different if it is all precious, instead of something shrink wrapped and disposable, which is the way most of our culture presents everything to us?
Yes, a tall order indeed. Yet perhaps we could all join one another together this year in an effort to understand this forever arising, forever existing initial impulse and its sacred nature.
I respectfully ask you to take good care.