Monday, July 14, 2008

Let Your Senses Point You Home

I am sitting on my porch on a sleepy summer afternoon here in
Springfield. I close my eyes and listen to the house wrens and
cardinals calling to one another. Now and then my dog, Shadow, barks at
a biker or another dog barking in the distance. A truck rumbles by on
the street at the end of the block. I feel warmth and tingling in my
feet, especially the arches. The bumpy wicker chair's arm presses
against my elbow and the computer heats my lap. Jenna, my neighbor,
walks out of her house while talking on the cell phone, opens her car
door, puts a bag on the seat, closes the door, and returns to her house
still talking. Two flies chase each other around the bird feeders. The
soft breeze moves the branches of the sycamore. A circular saw whines
down the block. Patterns of light and shadow wander over the green wood
of the porch floor. My stomach tenses thinking of some nebulous worry.
The sun shines on a spider's web between bricks and porch railing,
turning it into crystal. A thought of my cat, Pumpkin, who died Friday,
forms and dissolves. Another thought that my mother will die someday,
too, forms and dissolves. The red arm of the thermometer registers 82.
Bushes waiting to be planted lean against one another at the end of the
drive. The thought 'I see all of this' forms and dissolves. Now more
birds. Discomfort in the left elbow.

Is there someone
experiencing this? Look closely in your own experience right now.
Outside of the thought 'I am -----', are you? The thoughts, whether
they shout 'I am somebody' or 'I am nobody' or anything else, are just
like the wrens - flying back and forth through emptiness.

your senses to point you home. Come to your senses now. Listen. See.
Feel. Taste. Smell. Pick one sense. Notice everything arising as that
sense. Notice, too, the thoughts that arise simultaneously. The
thoughts just arise - there is no one 'deciding' to think them.
Thoughts are simply seen, too, just like the sense objects. Even the
thought 'I see them' is itself another thought and, upon direct
looking, is seen to refer to nothing other than this openknowingness .
Everything, absolutely everything, that has ever taken form (including
what we refer to as 'states')has arisen within this formless awareness.
What 'you' typically refer to as 'I' or 'me' has also always and only
taken shape within this same formless awareness.

At this very
moment, the reading, the computer, the sounds, the smells, the
thoughts, the sense of 'I' - everything - is forming and dissolving
within and as this Great Knowing Formlessness. You ARE this Great
Knowing Formlessness. Relax. Enjoy the birds.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Better Living Through Chemistry

The following is a letter from a reader (Tim) that addresses a fundamental misunderstanding. I hope this article helps to clarify it.

Tim: I never wrote to you before - read your blog occasionally.

One thing I'm surprised at though is the fact that you take anxiety meds - I would have expected realizing "the truth" would relieve emotional tension most of the time.

VF: Overall, there is less tension - much less. However, the “realization of truth” is always here and now - it never begins and it never stops and never ends - it is always fresh. There is no longer (this will be awkward, but I think you’ll get my point) the experience of an experiencer in this experience - Whew!

Tim: At the very least, I would say that like a spinning wheel coming to a stop, you will eventually not need it - what are your thoughts on this?

VF: I may or may not need it – no idea. Who is there to care? Don’t get too hung up on some idea of ‘realization’ and what happens or doesn’t happen because NOTHING HAPPENS! The body/life continues along as before AND it is totally different. Realization is seeing that there never was anyone here to ‘become realized.’ There is just this, now, here and no one to see it.

It’s interesting that this idea comes up, about the medication thing, isn’t it? Would you be surprised to know that I take a cholesterol-lowering medication? Would you expect that ‘after realization’ one should come to a point where it is eventually not needed? Notice the artificial division that is created. Thought does this all the time. Recognizing what you are at a fundamental level does not exempt the body from the need for food, water, air, shelter, warmth, etc. Same here – the brain is part of the body – an organ just like the liver or spleen – and it benefits a great deal from the anxiety medication (an antidepressant)… better living through chemistry!

Tim, you know, I think your phrase “spinning wheel” fits what I am trying to say: the experience used to be one of being the spokes and the wheel and feeling very ‘dizzy.’ Now, the spokes and wheel continue to spin, albeit somewhat more slowly most of the time, but it doesn’t matter because now I see that you and I and everyone else who ever took shape on this earth(and the earth, too) is also – and most fundamentally – the space in the middle of the spinning wheel and the space in which the wheel spins. Nonetheless, my ‘wheel’ has always been a bit 'out of balance' (just ask my wife) and the medication helps to create a much more pleasant experience.

I hope this is useful and I hope that anyone reading this who is ‘searching’ and struggling with depression or anxiety (or any other physical illness) will get the help they need – ‘you’ are already ‘realized’ anyway - 'you' just haven't 'realized' it! There are no extra points for agony.