Thursday, May 7, 2020


No matter where I go or what I do, I wish to discover the center of gravity of my life with in my Being, not located outwardly in circumstances.

This can seem particularly difficult in these times, when obsessive fears about the virus and its dangers beset everyone. How can I remain more grounded in the face of these fears?

Of course the locus for a grounded being lies in sensation; yet perhaps my thinking parts can help me approach an understanding that my feeling and my body will gradually absorb and correspond to.

I’m a creature that receives impressions. No matter what else I think about my humanity, religion, society, or anything else, this begins as a truth and there is no escaping it. Whether I’m in the midst of a serene Buddha calm or a frenzied, anxious reaction to the sickness around me, I’m still a creature that receives impressions.

In a certain sense, all of the impressions I receive are of exactly equal value. As they arrive at the threshold of my Being, my consciousness, they arrive as discreet types of vibration which the receptive molecules in my being encounter and process. Now, this may sound excessively technical and even scientific, but it's necessary to see it from this point of view in order to understand that everything that takes place as the impressions are received represents various inflections that my conscious being imparts to them. The impressions themselves are all exactly equal. An impression of a glorious Gothic cathedral or a rotting dead body are exactly equal as they arrive in me. The impressions of someone touching me in a loving manner or someone yelling at me in hatred are exactly equal.

This is not to say that the inflections I impart to impressions are invalid; not at all. It’s my responsibility to discover valuation and meaning. The point is that if I begin from the inflections, instead of the receiving of life, they feed on one another in a cacophonous domino effect. I get distracted and the impressions begin to dictate my reactions. 

I need instead to begin from where my life is received, and receive it. There’s a poise available within the experience of my sensation — the living, active experience, not just what I attempt to deliberately inflect into it, and here in lies a crucial difference that must be carefully and intimately studied—that, if it is engaged, bestows upon my awareness an irrevocable and imperturbable center of gravity. The outside world enters into a place that’s silent and calm.

That silent place of stillness receives life, but is not affected by it, because all things in life are equal from the perspective of objective sensation. Of course the parts that are mostly unable to perceive in this way this are still here in me; yet even they become grounded around this axis of silence which receives.

This touches on Meister Eckhart's principle of Gleichgültigkeit, which means, roughly, all things have equal validity in the I of God. I say “I” rather than “eye” or “eyes,” because this perception is not just a question of seeing, but of the experience of self. 

Self can receive life objectively; but not with the thinking part. It comes after.

This objectivity can become an organ in me. That is to say, it becomes an essential part of myself in the same way that my lungs or my heart are a part of myself; but this is a spiritual organ, an organ of the psyche and not the body. If I don't form spiritual organs to receive life in a spiritual way, I remain enslaved by the material. So I need to attend to this with a very finely tuned perception.

This is the only way I know of to retain equanimity in the face of difficult circumstances. It isn't infallible because I’m not infallible. It is, however, a powerful tool for the encounter and digestion of life. The difference is between an awareness where the Self lives, and one where life seizes the Self. I live in the middle between these two possibilities; yet if I plant my roots where the self lives, the trunk of my awareness is strong and grows leaves and branches to receive life. 

If I fail to do this, I'm fertilizer, not a tree.

May your heart be close to God, 
and God close to your heart.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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