I believe a lot of interesting things, things I’ve collected along the way. I have pages and pages of notes. Scribblings. Arrows and half-thoughts running up and down the margins. Ellipses and question marks. Coffee stains. My life is a draft copy full of edits. I’m always circling back– leaping from one passage to another, sifting through my notes, strengthening the narrative, discovering what was and might have been.
We are revealed in the living of it.
But I fuss with the details. I should have worn red that day. Red would have been different. Or a hat with a feather in it. Everything would have been different if I’d worn a hat that day. With a feather. If I had, what would have come next? We have to imagine it completely, the life we had when we didn’t miss the turn, conjure it top to bottom, and squeeze it onto the paper. If I had worn red and the hat, then maybe… We’re caught by our own perpetual revisions.
We sometimes live in circles.
* * * * *
The ideas we collect are keys. They open doorways to new rooms, new passages. Perception is reconfigured. Thought and experience reflect an ever-shifting maze. This is learning. I’ve learned so much… I carry a chain around with so many keys I hardly remember the doors anymore. I am standing in the dark, fishing through the keys, trying to remember where I am and which key it is I need.
Here’s a good one. Right key, wrong door. I’ve done this before… There’s no rush this time. I’ve been wherever that door leads, and here I am. Back here.
Anyone have a light?
In between keys, while my hands are fumbling with the chain and the ground edges and the burrs and the cold metal, I think of a place of staggering beauty, where I fill the air like the scent of springtime, where I resound as a pure tone. I remember something like it but I don’t have any keys that are specifically for that. It’s like one big Yankee Swap. We’re all trading in hopes of ending up with the same thing.
What am I doing with all of these keys? What is this place?
Ahh–! Here we go.
* * * * *
It’s an incredible problem, this idea that we can map our route to freedom. That would be great if the territory wasn’t our own mind, and we weren’t the most finely crafted experience-generating engines ever known, plunged in a neutral reality of figures and forms.
The other day I was working on a short essay and I was struck by the realization that in unity there is never a reason to question our experience. Call it what you like– unity, heaven, wholeness, selfless, nirvana– this unconditioned knowing is an experience (I lack the words for it, but I’ll call it an experience) one would never question. What would be the merit in questioning such exquisite perfection? It’s a ludicrous sentiment– to question the glory of what is when we’ve lost ourselves in its midst.
The entirety of such an experience is evidence not only of the meaning inherent in the experience itself, but of our own meaning as the experience and the experiencer alike. We over-saturate with possibility and it’s all happening at once. This is unity. But apply the same power to separation– to a false identification– and what do you have? You have an experience that is evidence of the underlying idea on which it is based– the idea of separateness– an experience that is seamless and consistent in its every facet, but is not a valid reflection of what is true.
This idea that we can have experience that isn’t necessarily a reflection of what is true is astounding to me. Think about it for a moment… how could that be? How…? The only way out of such a condition is to question the experience itself and the meaning we’ve assigned to it. In unity this would be an utterly meaningless act as it would be to question truth itself, the truth as given to us, the truth as us, so it is profoundly confusing. Why would we do that? Why would we ever question our inherent validity? Why would we do something so meaningless? I think it is a difficulty I have under-estimated most of my life.
This is the shift from a life of effortlessness to a life of toil, for suddenly we are saddled by the need to question what seems to be in order to allow for the transformation of our experience. It can be a heavy and tedious labor. I think our keys help us, but they don’t necessarily get us out. They inspire us to let go a little more perhaps, and that is good. But ultimately we have to let the maze itself be undone– let the passages and corridors be taken down. We have to let the geometry of our own minds be remade.
And then, as this occurs, we have to stop questioning everything and recognize the deed is done! To carry this questioning attitude into unity won’t really work either. This is why our part is so little. Our contribution so small. All we can do is make way for grace, until our experience transforms and we discover the miracle has occurred.
I’ve learned some interesting things along the way. I’ve collected them and carry them with me. I take them out when the darkness closes in and we review the nature of this problem together, and I am reminded each time– we live on a knife edge, afraid to fall, while grace is wiggling the knife to and fro, rolling Her wrist back and forth, hoping we’ll catch on to the plot and drop off the side– either side, pick a side… any side– into Her waiting hand.