our understanding of what is going on deepens,
― Thich Nhat Hanh
― Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation
Although I didn't realize it at the time, it's now obvious that some of these space cadets were actually marching, perhaps even dancing, to the beat of a different drummer.
In doing so, they actually probably had a leg up on the rest of us. Being conditioned into the rat race of the so-called real world, our legs were usually fully engaged spinning the hamster wheel of an invisible, but very captivating, mind cage.
Lost in our thoughts and feelings about doing it right, going for the gold, being all we can be, etc., most of us were continually scrambling to get with the program. We had internalized the values and norms the mainstream society long before we had the experience or the skills to realize that our society's "conventional reality" was a house built on the ever-shifting sands of endless time.
The space cadet seemed not to take it all that seriously. It seemed that he or she could frequently let go, relax -- and journey elsewhere.
Aboard the Starship Enterprise
These days, I will gladly accept the title of space cadet. I've found that space, what some folks may call "inner space," is the final frontier. In fact, as we voyage to the precise edge of this ever-unfolding frontier, the present moment, there is actually no such thing as elsewhere. Inner and outer are two sides of the same coin. Although I've had to encounter some space monsters along the way, I grateful to have signed on for the voyage. Most every day I choose to step off the hamster wheel for at least an hour -- and go into free fall.
Some people call what I do meditation.
All that Glitters is...
As Practice has deepened, it's become quite clear that there is a whole lot more space than there is solidity in the nature of things. In fact, even what appears to be quite solid, when looked into deeply, isn't. Perceived directly, what we conventionally call "things" aren't. They are localized intersections in an infinite web of energy. With Practice, they appear in radical clarity as momentary events sparkling like diamonds within the embrace of limitless space.
At this stage of the journey, I find that being a space cadet is often quite delightful and refreshing. In the alchemy of Practice, even the lead and dross of the human condition are workable. Immersed in the Gracious Spaciousness, what had once seemed solid and fixed becomes malleable. No longer mindlessly reacting to the world, I can more readily approach the next moment with an open heart and clear mind. The awesome task that Yogi Jesus and others proclaimed as sacred, that of loving your neighbor as yourself becomes increasingly doable!
In the embrace of endless space, reality glitters like gold.
The Voyage Continues
As Practice deepens, the quality of consciousness cultivated on the meditation cushion persists. Over time, it embraces the activities of daily life, more and more. When this sense of spaciousness is readily available, all sorts of things shift.
These days, thoughts and feelings that used to dominate my awareness and send me spinning into countless hours of stressful angst at best, or an arsenal of painful and counterproductive behaviors at worst, rarely do. Most of the time, I can pretty much relax, keep my eyes, ears, and heart relatively open, and do what needs to be done (or not done) from moment to moment with as much skill and grace as I can muster.
With Practice, mind states that used to attach themselves to the illusory solidity of a "me" being right or being wrong are usually seen for what they are: ephemeral and fleeting clouds floating in the expanse of a clear, endless sky. As a result, the blame and self-blame that had so often arisen in the past usually don't seem to form. Even if they do, for the most part these too are experienced as fleeting thoughts and feelings that quickly dissipate if I don't allow them to dominate my attention. These days, what would have become angry arguments or hours of debilitating self-talk don't readily emerge. The old patterns may emerge momentarily, but usually they can't get any traction.
With Practice, I'm no longer as prone to rocking my own boat. So, navigating my relationships has become much easier. These days, when it becomes obvious that even my best efforts haven't dispelled seemingly stormy seas, there is generally enough ambient spaciousness to see and accept that more readily. I can usually take a deep breath or two, trim my sails, explore a different tack if it occurs to me -- or, if necessary, just turn around and sail away with the wind at my back. It's often just that simple.
But, don't take my word for it. See for yourself.
It just takes Practice.
Originally Published as "Sacred Space," December 6, 2014