and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
as I Sit here with the sound of one bird twittering in the distance (now two, now three) through steamy windows, I again sense the Presence of the Sacred. There is a brilliance, a vividness, a tangible energy to the present moment, a calm exhilaration. And yet there is certainly nothing really "out of the ordinary" happening at the moment. Birds twittering are, after all, simply birds twittering, right?
Having made a point of conversing about what might be called Spirituality with as many people as I could buttonhole for quite sometime now, I actually think that "special" moments like this aren't all that special. In fact, as children it seems we all may have been in "the Zone" quite a bit. To a child at play, Life simply is -- free of any sorts of discriminating thoughts about it. Although we can all remember the darker moments of our childhood, most everyone I know can remember those moments that everything was quite fine just as it was. Some of it may have even seemed quite magical. (Lest ye be like little children...--J.C.)
Then, all too quickly, there comes the Fall. Immersed in a highly materialistic and competitive culture that places a high value on the so-called "rational thought", we are conditioned to believe that the world is divided between good and bad, right and wrong. We learn to judge everything! Tossed back and forth between the emotional energies of praise and blame, we are taught that there is success and failure, gain and loss, fame and disrepute. As this develops, we learn to make a Big Deal of things, creating our "identities" out of a set of strong likes and dislikes, even attaching great importance to some pretty ridiculous things as we stumble ahead. Our lives can even become a roller coaster ride depending on how our favorite sports team does that day.
Yet, it seems that most of the people I meet can still relate to the experience of "perfect moments" that operate at a more fundamental level than any of that. At a certain point, standing (or sitting or walking or laying down) in the midst of those moments there was a deep sense that we were alive, somehow awake, aware that we were aware in a qualitatively different way.
Although the Gateway of these perfect moments sometimes emerges with high voltage bliss and fireworks as some sort of Big Bang with an outpouring of tears or ecstasy, this sense of Presence may have been just as simple as a deeply calm "moment's peace" in the midst of our personal fray or the direct perception of simple beauty in the world around us. Once we understand the nature of Heart, we realize that this Gateless Gate may even come adorned in a feeling of soft melancholy as we open to the vast groundless ground of Eternal Life/Death to experience a direct perception of the fragile beauty of the human condition. Although I didn't know what to make of it at the time, (terms like relative and absolute bodhichitta were still years ahead of me), I spent an especially Surreal passage through time one crisp autumn afternoon my senior year in high school awash in that one. Even now a sense of Presence resonates through that memory. That experience held within it a clear perception of the Truth of the Matter, a truth that has only ripened over the years through the Practice.
As we become more mindful of our breathing and the sensations of our body; as we gently gain greater control over exactly how and where we place our attention, a whole realm of previously subconscious feelings and energies emerge. We come to our senses in a different way. It's really no big deal.
We get out of our head and into our Heart.