Nothing in the Way newsletter theme april may 2015
~ Nothing in the Way At the Delhi airport last week, I sat blurry with fatigue, and nursed a latte during the dark first hours of the day. A child of perhaps 4 held on to a woman's kamiz. The small face twisted, tears glimmering. I just happened to catch the child's eye, then I tilted my head out of view behind the woman. Instead of a crying scene, we had a smile, and a game. Good old peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek fun. The woman's worn face stayed focused on ordering, far above the child world. The game lasted a few rounds, in and out of sight, smiling with our eyes. Then the woman stepped away with her coffee. Our hiding place gone. To meet in the open was too much. The child and I went back into ourselves, into our spheres of airport space. The game ended, though the smile in each of us lasted. Sometimes we need something in between. In between us and the meeting, between us and the love or the vastness. Something in between can demonstrate how big life is. The sun and moon look huge as they rise and set, with the horizon of trees or buildings or mountains giving us something familiar to compare them to. Up at midheaven, sun and moon seem smaller and easier to ignore. Just so the "small mind" can actually help us realize how vast the "big mind" is. We can look into the twists and drama of daily life to catch the eye of life. And just let the smile come upon us. We try our best to have experiences that will bring us closer to vastness. We go to teachers who "have it" and can "do it," to us, or for us. And sometimes a teacher can meet us through our twists and pain, and let a smile come up. We talk about enlightenment, though we know words cannot reach it. We read about cessation, relief, or Gautam's "sure heart's release." Can we leave room for the smile that comes up in our cells, like dew on grass in the cool morning? The words and the search sometimes help us know that this unknown and unknowable enlightenment thing is way bigger than any of our familiar concepts, though always within even our most ordinary experience. So close as to be unfamiliar. If we don't give up too soon, then words can help us not to settle for a pretense or watered-down version of awakening. The hardest job for us as human beings: do not settle for what you already know. Do not give up on the potential within the humble state of not knowing, and not demanding to know. Do not give up just because we only catch a glimpse or a whiff of the mystery. Give room to the glimpses that bring a smile. The unexpected meeting in life, with life, that interrupts our hurry to get there. It is possible. It is not easy. Or, as one Tibetan teaching says, it is too easy. And too close. Too profound and too wonderful. That is what they say. It is true that the path is conditioned, not unconditioned, as the Buddhist nun Dhammadinnaa says. The path is those conditions that help bring out and grow our natural potential to wake up. These are things we do on purpose and regularly and devotedly; also things that happen unexpectedly that we find a way to flow and grow with. Interruptions in our serious trip towards enlightenment. But the conditioned path, at some point, gradually or suddenly, dissolves us into unconditioned freedom. At some point, we can let ourselves love what we love. At some point, we can--we are allowed to--let hiding stop, but let meeting continue. At some point, we can let go of trying to get closer, and fall in very very close, into our own brightness and sensitivity. Our ordinary, brave, openness and power. Around many great teachers have tangled and twisted many big scenes. Just so inside ourselves. In our own experience, all around what is important, twist many knots of arrogance, shame, pressure, hiding, pretense, competition, and so on. Knotty dramas based on a belief in "not enough." It is important to notice these dramas, and say, clearly and decisively, "I see you." I love some of the Buddhist stories where people have caught sight of mara--the dead, the deadening, the destructive--and have said, "I see you." But then, they also said to mara, "You cannot touch me, not only because I caught you, but because there is nothing that is me or mine." We can also see through the twisted. We can see through the twist to the aliveness and allow a meeting in the open. Aliveness with aliveness. Not taking even our deepest patterns personally allows space for our exquisite love of what is important. When we meet a teacher that supports us to fall into our own vastness, even if there is a "scene," we meet anyway, before or through the drama. Just so inside ourselves. We can spot a scene about to happen, and catch an eye, play an old, simple game. I see you. I see you in a way that lets I and you be secondary.