Well, sitting here in my studio without a lot to do this morning – Neal is at work in someone’s garden — and having come up with this phrase, the feeling – basis of existence, it seems like it’s worth examining it further.
Spring is here and the redbud outside my studio is blooming. Downstairs, our housekeeper is vacuuming the stairs. Between the beauteous silence of the flowering tree and the vigorous mechanical actions of my housekeeper, there is a stillness that lives within the heart.
There’s no need to get complicated about it. The stillness is not filled with thinking, which comes naturally and without any strain or effort. Nor is it filled with sensation, which simply serves as the signpost for being, the inward background radiation of the cosmos in its single note of presence, existence, and The Perfection itself.
What permeates all of this is the receiving of these impressions through feeling, which is once again passive and receptive, naturally capable of allowing these things to flow in. There’s always a certain agitation and tension that comes from the natural organic parts, because they can’t help this kind of activity. Each one of us has a different kind of neural tension of this kind: some of it anxious, some of it egoistic, and so on. I can’t escape these parts of myself, because they’re just part of my overall makeup and have to be accepted. Although I could configure my spiritual search as taking up a kind of a battle with these parts, it won’t do me much good. They’re natural parts which the spiritual self needs just as much as anything else in order to grow. Inhabitation of these experiences is far more important than reconfiguring them.
I’m reminded of a comment from the summer 2019 issue of Parabola magazine, which was made by Suzuki Roshi back in the 60s at Tassajara ( see page 77.) He said,
“I don’t really understand you Americans. When you put so much milk and sugar on your cereal, how would you taste the true spirit of the grain? Why don’t you taste the true nature of each moment instead of trying to make everything taste just the way you want it to? Why don’t you taste your own true spirit?”
One could come up with a lot of ways of playing with this idea, but it’s the receptiveness at its core that interests me. This receptiveness is certainly not formed from our mind, which is what wants always to reconfigure everything, and it’s not formed from our sensation, because sensation is the arising of the intelligence of inward being.
It’s feeling that co-responds to the intelligence of outward being as it flows into us: it’s the receptacle. If you’re interested in biology, you could think of it as the membrane lining the organ of being, which is tremendously sensitive and absorbs all the nutrients of impression through its receptive molecules. Unfortunately, our lining is usually irritated. We have a form of irritable bowel syndrome of the soul. Instead of digesting what comes to us, we mess around with it and expel it like diarrhea. We never absorb the nutrition that life can give us, because our feeling part is not receptive. It’s inflamed.
I’ll explain this yet another way.
These three forces of awareness interact in different orders according to necessity; if you try to arrange them for yourself, you’ll discover that’s impossible. Even trying to perceive them separately from one another becomes quite difficult. It’s only their integration, which must proceed naturally and by voluntary relationship, that reveals the true nature of their action.
The nature of their inter action forms a single nature; and yet because existence is founded on love, the basis of everything that can be perceived and perceived is a feeling-basis, even though it’s the third force that enters as one attempts to first become mindful in the intelligence, then connect to the body through sensation.
Wishing the best for you on this day,
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.