Sandpiper, Kitty Hawk, NC
Photograph by Lee van Laer
I've tried to explain many times that the body has its own language, a rich and present language that begins with sensation and fills all of Being with its gravity. This is the essential first language, because it is the sense that it erases all of the noise on the page, leaving it blank, open, prepared, and receptive to receive a new kind of force, a different energy.
It's only when this energy arrives to fill that empty space that anything true can happen in me. It's only then that I experience real life; it's only then that I know what humility and compassion mean. These qualities, which we talk about as though we knew them, don't belong to human beings at all; they are universal forces that can manifest in us actively, but only if we are open and receptive to them. Everything that I try to do myself along the lines of humility and compassion is contaminated by the things I fill my life with; and it's only within the presence of this energy, and in the emptiness that arises from a connection to sensation and openness to something higher, that I begin to experience them for the objective forces that they are.
I begin with this question of what is organic in me. And then I stay with it, which is why my second question is also organic. It's developing this intimate relationship to the sensation and what it can prepare me to receive that interests me; and if I am attentive — if I am mindful, which is a word that has been overused so much I find it irritating — so, again, if I am attentive — and even that word isn't a good one — then I can receive an impression of the sensation, and that is what forms my relationship to it, this active impression.
Nothing else in life matters, really, if I form a relationship to the energy. Everything else happens; and it is either good or bad, I meet it as it is, no matter. I become invulnerable; all of those fears that drive me don't seem to have much power anymore.
It's only when I am actively passive in this way that I receive something real; and that is the only thing I know about inner work that matters to me, this relationship that can be formed with something that is true about life.
I want to know something true about life; and that truth arises organically, not as a result of external objects, events, circumstances, or conditions.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.