Friday, October 16, 2020

Plague Time

This morning, there is, as always, an invitation to stillness in the body.

The mind searches for where it is; and the mind, the intellectual mind, always searches within itself, because that's all it knows.

Yet, as Kierkegaard pointed out, there is a part of living and Being beyond the mind which he refers to as the absurd, that which lies beyond the rational; and it is a devotion to the absurd, the willingness to surrender to it, that marks the action of faith (interested parties will find this passage in Fear and Trembling.)

The part of me that senses myself can search for stillness and being outside the intellect.
Absurdly, I discover that my Being has an intelligence independent of the mind. I can study myself here in this moment without invoking the intellectual mind as the tool. It is very useful; but it comes after.
I don’t have to begin with my ideas about energy centers and chakras and the tandian and so on. Perhaps those ideas are tired and worn out anyway; I heard them from other people. I just want to see how I am right now without these ideas inflecting the exploration.

No confirmation bias.

I receive the breath more deeply in me. Where do I receive it? Never mind naming the physical place; what is the faculty with which I receive it?

What is the relationship between sensation and breathing?

This enlivening force is molecular and exists in the interstitial bonds between them.

What is the relationship between my molecules as they bind together? The breath animates this. I could be in relationship to this and be more attentive. There are two levels in me; they touch each other here in the midst of my awareness, and I can feel both the energy that forms me and the energy that enlivens me. It's everywhere in me.

It flows as the blood of the soul through my entire Being.

So I quietly experience my sensation. I receive life. This is my duty; to first receive life.
We are born of a love that gave us life. If we let go and trust it it can guide us.

The following words are attributed to Christ in the Gospel of Thomas: 

“Blessed is the lion which becomes man when consumed by man; and cursed is the man whom the lion consumes, and the lion becomes man."

The lion is outer life; if I take it into me deeply as a food and I digest it, I am blessed by the impressions it brings. This is the feeding of the inner by the outer.

If, however, the lion eats me — if life takes me away from my sense of being, my inner self—I'm cursed, I am harmed. Life has taken me away from myself and it owns me. It will do what it wants to with me. I lose what I am, and outer life makes of me what it is.

To be blessed is from an old English word meaning to be consecrated with blood. This idea is related to ancient traditions, including the marking of the doors of the faithful with blood in Egypt so that the angel of death would not visit them in the final plague of Exodus.

One can think of this life that begins in us before thinking and before the world as our firstborn, our original nature; if we don't cherish it and aren't wise with it, the world will take it from us and kill it like a lion who eats its prey.

The lion springs on us unseen, in the blink of an eye.

There’s no need to blame the lion; it's a creature of nature and only does what comes to it naturally.
But I don't have to be food for the lion. I don't have to surrender what I am to life. It's equally natural for me—if I wish— to consecrate my life with a mark of attention; to take the most essential part of myself, my innocence (the blood of a lamb) and mark the door to my inner life with it, as a sign: I live here.

This is my house. My life is born in it. My family, what is sacred to me, lives here.

This mark of blood is an action taken in preparation. A mark of attention and innocence and suffering, which serve as a preparation for the moment when life comes to take me from myself. That happens in the night, in the darkness — that is, when I'm inattentive and asleep.

Only a physical sign — the connection between my breathing, my sensation, my blood — can mark the gate that allows entry of impressions into me. If I stay within myself, I'll receive my life. If I do not mark the door of my life with my mindfulness, it will be taken from me. I'll forget who I am and where I am and what I'm doing, and immediately I’ll become agitated and helpless. I won’t be acting from who I am anymore. I’ll be acting according to the laws of all these outside forces that disrupt me.

I'll be a freaking idiot.

Each one of the plagues of Egypt represents an inner challenge, an aspect of my spirituality and my psychology, presented in allegorical terms.

The water that changes into blood represents the death of everything from life that ought to animate me.
The frogs represent lower thoughts. (The intellect.)

The lice represent lower, physical impulses of the outer world that feed on me. They seem small, are even invisible, but there are hordes of them. (The body.)

The plague of flies represents desires that feed on me. (The emotions.)

So we see that the second, third, and fourth plague srepresent the failure of the intellect, the body, and the emotions to have a right relationship with the world.

The pestilence of livestock represents a collective failure to recognize the sacred, which prevents me from being fed with the spiritual food that life offers me in every moment. Live stock also represent spiritual wealth or value, which is lost.

The boils represent negative outer manifestations.

The thunderstorm of hail and fire represents the destruction of my own outer values in the world around me as a result of my spiritual dysfunction.

The plague of locusts is metastasis—this the same destructive force spreading throughout the land, that is, all of my outer world. Everything’s corrupted.

The darkness for three days is the veil that descends over my Being—my intellect, body, and emotion—so that I'm asleep and cannot see my life.

There’s a lot of drama here; and I in no way intended to explain this when I began my diary post this morning. But here we are. Surprise!

The point is that the most precious gift I have been given in this life is life itself. It's a physical and actual, not intellectual and theoretical, embodiment of what is sacred and miraculous and beautiful in the world.

I've been put here within this condition of life as a custodian; it's my sacred duty to deepen my sensation and come into greater contact with the Being of this life which has been granted to me by God. I must make a better effort to become a responsible custodian. Otherwise, I'll surely stay in the slavery to the outer world which is represented by the kingdom of Egypt in Exodus.

My body and my mind and so on are of this kingdom; I must inhabit it, and I need it for work and the relationship of society. But I am not of Egypt; I need to establish a land within myself which is free of it, not ruled by the tyranny of the outer self. That requires an journey. Exodus is about an inner journey towards God.

All of this can begin with an attentive relationship that takes in the fine details of the energy within me. This may sound like an action much too small to have any affect, but its cumulative results are huge if I sit every morning for a little while and just sense myself.

Eventually I find out that I exist before anything happens; and this is a very profitable place from which to conduct further investigations into the value of my life.Go. and sense, and be well.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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