We can spend our lives looking for something: having a sense that there is more to life in which we haven’t yet discovered and yet not really knowing what that might be. Following the dharma teachings of the Buddha and engaging in meditation practise can be seen as a process of relaxing and releasing the sense of contraction that centres around the sense of ‘me’ in relationship to everything else. In doing so we may sometimes feel the touch of life around us in a way that opens our heart and mind. This experience may arise with in formal meditation, or from something incredibly ordinary such as simply looking at a leaf or a pebble. In a moment of being present, something in the experience speaks to us in a language we’ve never heard before and yet understand immediately. It may be that we’re experiencing our mind or our body or the whole world as completely different than we’ve ever seen or felt or known it before. And although it’s clearly completely different, we recognise it. How do we recognise something we’ve never seen before? How is something at the same moment completely new and fresh and yet completely familiar?
Being present asks us to be unafraid of the truth of our life – to turn to it rather than turning away from it through unconscious reactivity. When we’re not in fear of life, when we’re not in fear of the world, we begin to relax. When we’re not in fear of what we conceive of as ourselves or as another, we quite naturally begin to open. We begin to attune to the vibration of life that is around us and within us. Sometimes we sense life vibrating in a resonance which communicates, that speaks to us in a way that doesn’t need to be translated through our models and our images and our concepts and in fact cannot be translated through them. This resonance reveals a sense of connection with everything and invites a questioning of how we have conceived our life. We feel something which touches us in a way that we can’t explain. We may almost wish to dismiss it because it unsettles us, and yet we’re drawn to let it in because something about the sense of it feels true, or authentic and meaningful.
In that moment, it’s not really us having an experience of something else, it is more like conscious life knowing itself, in a particular form. We can see that we’re all really the same stuff, this body is made of the same things as everyone else’s body and the trees and the earth and it’s born of earth and water and air and fire – the heat of the sun. These elements come together to create this living form, that we conceive ourselves to be.
The experience of taking birth is a bit like landing in the ocean as a piece of ice that has just broken off a glacier in the South Pole. What we experience is a sense of being different or separate from what is around us. But as we practise being present, we start to feel into ourselves and our world. As we learn to stop trying to fix or control the experiences, what we can sense is that the world resonates in us and that we resonate in the world. Like ice dissolving in water, because ice and water are the same thing, but in a slightly different condition. One is in the condition of contraction and rigidity, and the other is in the condition of fluidity and spaciousness.
The dissolving of self is the dissolving of rigid boundaries, of limitations, of identifications, of views. When we don’t have fixed boundaries, we are naturally unbound and it becomes clear that the boundaries and identities we hold on to are simply attempts to create something we can rely on. We also see that only place we can really allow ourselves to rest is in the releasing of that compulsive fixation with pulling away from life. Then we can let ourselves go, release ourselves back into life, allow ourselves to dissolve.
Trusting in life as it is isn’t something we can make ourselves do. Trust is something that we discover by letting go. By not believing those thoughts, habits and belief systems that suggest that we should not trust. So look for yourself, into your own experience, what happens when you let go? So much fear is born from our attachment to the sense of our separate existence. As we begin to soften the sense of separateness what do we notice? When simply present with life, not holding ourself apart from it, what happens? In the resonance and the vibration and the communion that happens, there is a natural sense of kindness present, in that we care for life. And we can feel in a way that we may not be able to explain, that we are cared for, we are valued, we are of value. This is a remarkable discovery: to know that we are just a little speck on a small lump of rock hurtling through a vast universe, existing only for a period of time so short as to be just a flicker in the consciousness of totality, and despite all of that, knowing that what we are is precious beyond conceiving.
As human beings we tend to confuse being precious, which we are, with being at the centre, which we are not. Science tells us that our planet is not at the center of the universe. What is it like to realise that the world does not revolve around us, any more than the cosmos revolves around the earth, as people once believed? And at the same time, to realise that we are truly precious? What is it like when we get that, we sense that: both in-significance and preciousness? So we’re not at the centre of anything and yet our life is of immense value
What happens when we rest in this not being separate, while seeing that everything is precious, deeply and profoundly so? Quite naturally the caring and kindness that is in us and around us, flows to touch all things. That love is only held back by the illusion of boundaries, of separateness. With the dissolution of those boundaries, it flows unfettered, unbounded. In this flow compassion and caring for the world are born, as the natural expression of understanding, as the natural expression of life.