Sunday, 26 February 2012

To Church on Mondays - Part 2

(Click for PART 1)
  
The heavy oak door with wrought-iron handle closes shut behind me.  Silence.

I take a step forward.  “Clunk-tap.”

A few more steps.  “Clunk-tap, clunk-tap, clunk-tap…” echoing through.  Silence.

No patron appears to greet me.  I am the only one here.

I begin my first-ever private walking tour around the inner sanctum of Christ Church Cathedral on Quadra Street.  I walk.

“Clunk-tap, clunk-tap, clunk-tap, clunk-tap...”

Five minutes.  Ten minutes.  Just me.  Silence.

I circumnavigate with senses taking in all that I haven’t paid much attention to until this visit… The immaculately chiseled edgings of massive stone columns.  The mild odor of worn leather pew cushions and polished wood.  The drone of seemingly distant cars passing by, which I experience in the same way as a forest hike at Upper Thetis Lake (I have to be very still to detect the highway in the far background).  The variety of windows-as-Saints constructed from cut stained glass pieces, filtering sunlight.


Symmetry and balance.  Order.  The sheer height of the domed coral-coloured ceiling with its criss-crossing patterns.  The sensation at the base of my neck as I look up into it, letting my head fall back into a cradle of observing.

Mostly, I love the softness the wall hangings around the perimeter bring to the Cathedral… The way the light picks up the glimmer in their fabrics.  The ones with the universal messages of peace.




It seems the church belongs to me right now. I select a pew and sit.

*   *   *

Pure Consciousness has a hum-like quality to it that is not heard as sound per se but rather directly experienced by one’s entire being, by one’s very nature of being, itself.  My teacher, C, liked to call it “the Current.”  It is profound, boundless, and whole – without shape or form.  Always here and available, it is graciously empty and abundantly full at the same time.  Fulfillment.

The recognition of this ever-present opportunity for fulfillment is precious, because it points to what is actually living as that which is referred to within every sentient being as “I”... living as All.

How to recognize it?

All the great prophets, the great saints and mystics since time immemorial have been telling us ‘how.’  All the Jesuses and the Buddhas and the Ramanas end up arriving at the same conclusion.  The greatest Teachings and Dharmas the world over give us this sublime instruction:

“Be still.”  Be exactly as you are.  Self/God alone is here.

*   *   *

Sitting in that pew quietly, as the firing of thought-creative neurons comes to rest (for now), it becomes effortlessly obvious that I am this empty fullness – moment for moment.   Before, during, and after every perception of thought, feeling or any other sensation, the Current remains the same.   In waking state, dreams and deep sleep, in life and in death, here it is.   Existing equally inside and outside, infinite in all directions, indescribable yet spoken of, nothing compares to the peace of surrendering oneself to this.

In the deepest waters of surrender, it can be seen to have already been the truth of oneself, all along.

The truth of oneself is the only thing that is not conceptual.  And undressing such a statement, one discovers the “divine paradox” in the fact that concepts are being used to describe this thing, which is not a thing, either.  Which is the kind of mess that can make a mind crazy for decades while lugging around the identity of a spiritual seeker…

My apparent separateness was a very convincing hallucination.


*   *   *

I take a moment to glance up at the pews in front of me, at the books dressing up their backsides.   At all the bibles and hymn guides.  So many books!  So many concepts!  So many reference points!

The books remind me of how much I enjoy words, reading and writing, and especially making music with other people.  When gathering for the purpose of being thankful together, “the Word” spoken and sung is definitely awesome.

But here I sit.  Just sitting, no big deal.  I keep quiet for a bit.  Mentally grasping at some reference point to define or understand – to identify myself as ‘this’ or ‘that’ – feels irrelevant and rather exhausting.  So I don’t bother.  The moment is as it is.  Soon I’ll go back to the office and maybe decide I like the drama of the “temporary insanity” this job seems to be causing me, so much so that an as-yet-not-dislodged attachment to masochism will re-engage my dance with drama.

Meanwhile, countless trillions of universes are spinning, in this very moment, as ‘me’ and everything – with no scientifically provable distinction between the two.  Same same.   It spins as all galactic events:  Milky Ways, supernovas, black holes, big bangs.  Spins as each living cell, as every fellowship of atoms and particles in a perpetual diversity of moving configurations.  The Moment will always be as it is, this Infinity.  Drama or no drama, the Current is indestructible.

The thinking mind is not a suitable instrument for apperceiving the Infinite.  In Zen, they say: you have to take the backward step.  This means that to recognize what is eternally present one must completely let go of every point of reference and fall hands-free off the cliff.  Not literally, of course.  But it’s a good metaphor for stubborn, busy minds like mine.

Such a complicated search!  How contracted and small did I feel my whole life while I worked towards what I imagined would comprise my happiness, my fulfillment?   "Be still" was much too simple an instruction.  As long as I got to keep things complicated, my suffering was nobler somehow.  Special.

What Grace pours in (and not from somewhere else) in stopping all my effort, my seeking… when I stop trying to get something!  Inwardly, what if I permit myself to not interfere with “things as they are” while I sit here?  What do I think is going to happen to me?  What if, for an instant, I don’t reach for a single concept?

Free of all referencing activity, what is left over?  What am I, then?  ‘Where’ am I?

“In Church,” obviously.  How about “everywhere.”   “Nowhere?”

Take your pick.  Same same.

*   *   *

These words are very BIG concepts.  A single instant of absolute trust in the incomprehensible bigness of true Reality shatters everything one once thought to be real.  Waiting here, allowing the Bigness to be the Bigness, what arises in the next moment can only be unknowable.  The freedom of letting go makes not knowing such a relief.

But you can bet it will keep getting bigger.  It is like this.  This is “normal life.”  In the most ordinary of events, and the most extraordinary, there is nothing unmiraculous about it.  The awe that saturates the heart of such a realization inevitably leads to creativity, commitment and responsibility, passion, joy...   Ah:  future writings await subject matter.

*   *   *

As I sit, breathing is happening somewhere.  There is repetition.  Expansion and collapse.  Like worlds forming and disappearing, maybe, or waves rushing up on sand then drawn back again.  Waves drawn back into the ocean, which they never left.

… Ocean, which they always were, and could never not be.


This photo was taken in Parksville, BC, from the back deck of my favorite place on Earth:
"Uncle Don's Cabin"

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