― Pema Chödrön
“Where ever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see. You are one with everything. That is more true than I can say,
― Shunryu Suzuki
Although "I" readily can think in terms of an "I" that can think in terms of an "I", beyond those thoughts there is a seemingly seamless reality where "inner" and "outer" aren't so clear. Beyond the conceptual designations, a strict boundary between "me" and "that" (and the "space" between me and that and surrounding me and that) isn't discernible. What remains just is. A vivid display of energy and space, seemingly infinite.
Nowadays, that seems to happen more and more off the zafu as well. In those precious moments, as I feel the dance of sensations that exists in what appears to be the inside of my body, the presence of a vast spaciousness within and beyond the apparent "confines" of that physical form becomes more obvious. Paradoxically, the more solid and grounded I feel in the moment, the more transparent I feel.
This state of affairs certainly makes it easier to lighten up -- much the time.
Of course, there are still those moments where life appears to get very HEAVY. Two of weeks ago it happened a number of times over the course of a couple of days . Most of those moments were quite clearly the times when I was, once again, "self-absorbed". The bulk of my attention had been commandeered by patterns of thought/emotion characterized by my own fear and grasping. At those times, I found myself repeatedly rewriting a recent past event I had deemed "unacceptable" and/or projecting it into the future in screenplay dialogues where I either created a "successful" outcome (the word for ego in Tibetan translates as "me victorious") -- or, in other instances, creating an image where I once again, "blew it" and failed to say or do the "right" thing.
In those moments, it became obvious: I was HOOKED. Rather than relax into the clear, blue sky that exists within every moment, I'd become condensed into a cloud of "self-concern." Although those clouds can be appealing at times (especially when my fantasy is of "triumph"), I've found that they usually thicken and darken, blocking the sun. Having seen, again and again, that oftentimes those clouds will then lead to lightning and thunder, it has generally gotten easier to choose to let go of the thoughts and emotions that hold those clouds in place. More and more, it has gotten easier to just turn my focus elsewhere to take care of the business at hand.
In this case, though, that particular array of thought clouds kept returning. In this case I chose to focus on examining the whole process more carefully during my regular daily periods of meditation for a couple of days. Looking deeply, it became clear that underlying this particular inner drama was the energy of an entire history of experiences where, in my eyes, I just didn't "cut it" (i.e. events didn't emerge according to my model of good/bad, success/failure). At a number of times in my life, I had identified so strongly with that set of mindstates that I was quite incapable of shaking the obsessive thoughts and feelings involved in any consistent manner. Having developed an acute form of workaholism (itself propelled, paradoxically, by the attempt to avoid those feelings), I then burned myself to a crisp, even blowing a fuse pretty dramatically a couple of times.
The Fruits of Practice
I'm grateful at this point in my life for the Teachers and the Teachings -- and the Practice. More and more, cutting loose of the current story lines of thought and getting in touch with the underlying feelings, breathing the feelings through my heart or doing Tonglen practice, I can take it deeper. Over time, bringing the energy of mindfulness to these subconscious patterns of emotional energy gives them the opportunity to "breath" -- and release their energy.
Tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right?