Beyond Words and Letters
By Erin Johannesen, M.A., M.D.
Beyond Words and Letters
1. On rain: The nature of our being always in the sea of primordial awareness, may remind us of how we come to know our own various disabilities – learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or other inherent impairments. Sometimes, it takes a specialist to tell us we live in a land of rain…for us to see rain and to know it for the first time. If it’s raining everywhere all the time throughout one’s life, then rain is so immediately pervasive and ever-present that one’s attention is never brought to it. Its mere evenness camouflages it from view so that it remains unseen…unknown and yet…it’s always been there. We never leave it, even for an instant. Pulling otherness into awareness, holding otherness…the other-worldliness of another…enables us to see ‘not-rain’ and so, to see rain…a pointing out of ma-rigpa(unawareness) and rigpa (awareness) in a ‘felt’ sense. All the while, standing in the rain.
2. On immanence: It is the quiet darkness, a dissolving into and within oneself…no separation. It is sightlessness and soundlessness…consciousness so pervasive it doesn’t even have a name. A release…a letting go of every this…every that. It is the smell of stone away from stone…the motionless unrolling of drumless thunder. It is the space within and between every word. It is no word…no-thingness. It is unself. Selfless self-awareness of all these things, the alive essence of non-thingness…the breathless space that divines the universe. The still, deep, pristine place present everywhere in every time and beyond time, without center…without direction. It is where we go; where we were before we leapt…it is where we already are...always and ever self-arising. Beyond order and without precedent, the last born from the first as the first arising from the undying last. It is unbound, infinite, pure openness...without reference, without inside or outside…always belonging. It is...home.
The resonant flow of energy, the pouring out of light in writing this passage, in your reading it now, is more about immanence than are the words themselves.
3. On gazing at the sky: The place of release is where it all begins…and gazing at the sky, a field, a room, or into the face of another is looking with eyes that are uninvolved...It is detachment embodied…without expectation, inspired by nothing, and noticing…just noticing absence. Nothing to see, nothing to meditate on, nothing to do. Only forever to be where there is no end to the light…the vast, open sea of light. It is a place without hope, without fear. In our letting go again and again and again, freedom reveals itself, and we rest awhile in the ‘confident ease’ of spontaneous space.
Note: ‘Confident ease’ is Longchenpa’s term; isn’t it beautiful?
Gazing is a method in the wisdom of tögal a Tibetan term and Dzogchen practice which holds the field; it is a "direct crossing," and "direct approach" to complete awareness.
4. On gazing in meditation: When a companion tapped my arm inviting me to look at the young man to our right who was sitting facing us, his eyes closed, his mouth open, his head slightly back…we could see the yellow-white light in his body. And as I looked, he opened his eyes and smiled. His eyes were soft and filled with light.
The gaze, eyes open, mouth open, is vertical and horizontal at the same time. It holds the emerging light itself, the luminosity of the field. And seeing along the streams of light is everywhere the felt compassion of dynamic consciousness, of light resonating to light…connecting…always connecting one being to another. Connecting even apparent concrete discretions of separation…I am sitting here, while you sit there. Tubular cylinders of light connect us and are as real and certain as the sun’s rays extending and emanating everywhere in the luminous dark. In the radiant and returning spreading of awareness, the gaze holds our openness of being… holds the felt wisdom-fire of immanence unfolding within us and beyond us…holds the endless flow of ever-emerging presentation of our being and becoming. And our separateness, easily pouring through itself, comes to rest in the lap of pure emptiness where everything already is.
5. On bliss: Sometimes, on wings of sorrow, folding and unfolding, we transform ourselves in the blissful freedom of the sky. Beyond the birth of elemental Being, still wet with strands of sound unborn – the languaged shapes of air and wind – we emerge again, now as feathered light, on wings that spread and climb into the moment of this day…into a place that is, at heart, no time at all. It is the givenness of what we are and what we have to offer, an openness, unchanging, of all we see and hold and touch and feel. It is, for us, a liberating taste of bliss unbound and yet…embodied now.
6. On riding the light: It begins with the sound of wind in open sky holding a stillness once held by water so unbound it never knows the land. One enters there where air and water merge, and, spiraling ever faster, rides the hard, smooth rail of light where self on light becomes light in water, and water, tumbling toward groundless space, becomes its own surrounding song of syllables. A roar of clanging, crashing, and thundering arises and dissolves in endless falls of watered light. Self beyond self experiences the gathering again of separations, the merging of elements and sensation…the sound of light, the liquid flow of color, brightness of wind, and the calm beyond happiness of space unfolding.
7. On dissolving the claw of judgment: Evaluations as projections of our expectations fall away when we are in the light. Discernment remains, but, judging…the compelling instinctual claw of judgment raking the ground as though to ferret out danger, to gird and guard ourselves against the world-at-large…simply dissolves, and everywhere is the play of light. Nothing needs to be avoided, for lack does not exist…suffering and loss, wealthlessness of any sort, are all still completely in the light. They rest and abide in the indeterminant fold of opposites: Lack and no lack do not co-exist, for they are melded one and the same, with no experiential difference between them. We may simultaneously ride and be one with the brilliant, yet soft radiation of clear light, just as we may glide and be one with utter darkness. Each one already wholly contains the other in the vast ‘isness’ that surrounds us as us. When we experience sadness at the core of happiness and bliss emerging from the depths of sadness, then the woven knot of dualism loosens, and spontaneously, spaciousness arises that lives everywhere…even in our deepest places of terror. For without inside or outside, everything, no matter what it may be, just as it is, already holds every drop of divinity. Realization is that close…just as we are, just as we already have been…no difference.
8. On as we already are: The strange remains of shells of ourselves upon an inland shore, that cling to land and dirt and earth as though it can hold us, as if it houses our hopes and desires, as if it shelters us from our own chaotic storms of wish and dread…as if.
Such selves lie dead upon the land we claim. We stop there; we stop ourselves in furrowed ground, while water, the mother of our birth, --always over there, not here -- frightens us. It is deep and cold and vast. It holds the expanse of earth and sky, but is not that. It has no familiar hearth, no known place to rest. One dreams there at the foolish risk of being lost. That is how the shells, long beached upon the dry, hard sand, think. Think.
Yet in water, once one lets go of the land, “there is light everywhere and nowhere, for it is the same.” “A great ocean, deep and immediate, arises.” And here, “rudderless and concept-less,” one floats “without sight of land or stars. No guide outside. No preferred action.” In the disappearing base, porosity remains; one concept forever sifting through another, and self, abiding in uncompounded singularity, rests sublime. In the stillness, we exist and don’t exist; for in the eye of this infinite moment opening beyond ourselves, we are always becoming, becoming…becoming.
“Really, it isn’t entirely up to you.” Unchanging equalness is already there, already here, within you and me and without you and me. And so we can let go of hope and fear and striving. The center loosens, and extremes of limits and boundaries, seen and known that are darker than dark, we let them fall apart. They no longer contain us, for self in space is unfolding all around, through, and beyond the beingness of air, water, earth, and light. There is no effort to hold the light…we no longer try; there is no holding, just being…being light, unboxed, unframed, always moving, liquid light.
It is smaller than a step; we allow ourselves to fall…seemingly apart, but each piece, each fragmented moment, falls into fathomless light and emerges anew in Indra’s unborn net. The darkest brush with chaos, once felt as extreme, is now experienced as already spontaneously pure and requires nothing more than abiding, a complete un-holding, a breathing-in of the always arising middle of every situation. The center, the very heart of this…is that: A relaxing into the vast expanse of being…into the beingness of our own Being. The uncontainable ground, ineffable and enlightening, is already Being, my being and your being. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to be made or unmade.
Note: Phrases and sentences in quotations marks in this piece were originally
made by Rudy Bauer in a WCCS online meditation.
Written by: Erin Johannesen, M.A., M.D.
Edited by: Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D.