The Movement of Participation

woman-holding-mirror-on-grass-reflection by LAURA WILLIAMS
Picture by LAURA WILLIAMS

Reality is participatory in nature… just look at breathing: you take a breath – receive the air, you transform the air in your body, and you give back what you have transformed. Receive > transform > give, that seems to be the general dynamics of a humanimal’s participation in reality.

The same goes for our mind: Take in a concept, transform it into an understanding, and give that back in any form you like. And with every participatory transformation cycle our reality grows more diverse: out of one concept a never ending number of other, and very different concepts can and do arise. Our nature is participatory: no wonder that many of us feel such elation when we have authentic conversations in which we creatively play with our mutual concepts.

Participation is most intense when it is in the mode of transformation. This is why detachment via the cognitive self, the mind, by saying for instance, “I am not this body, not these feelings, not this mind” etc., feels so at odds with our nature. It is a process of singling yourself out until there is nothing left but the Self. And the Self is an emptiness, a void in which all in all plays. Yet, the Self is neither in it nor of it. For sure, this method will, if followed radically enough, land you in some non-duality that reveals the interdependence of all beings and becomings – or so I’m told – but there is a basic bias towards self and awareness that is almost imperialist; it claims “Tat Tvam Asi”, thou art that, meaning that the Self is supreme and that you are aware of that, and this very awareness enlightens you.

Maybe you think I’m picking on that path; if so then because while on that path it causes an amazing amount of suffering, even though I’m told that the result, finally, is utterly supreme. But maybe that’s a justification, and I’m so picky because this path has disappointed me in every way possible. It first dawned on me when it became clear that the “Witness”, the detached neutral observer of reality is a construction that puts a distance between witness-me and everything else, a distance that aggravates the dreadful consumerist, media-guided situation we find ourselves in. Exercising witness-consciousness turns us into a spectator of life making it harder and harder to just be the feeling, breathing, engaged and involved participator of reality that we always also are. It blinds us to what we always do, even in death.

Exercising ourselves in this or similar transcending ways will surely confuse us enough to actually think that we are an independent agent, an essentially disembodied awareness that is not of this endless and boundlessly deep world. And also, and paradoxically, whatever detaches us or moves us into avoidant and evasive spaces, what numbs us…  is still a way to participate in it all, only very confusedly and chaotically so.

We’re one in the beginning, and ever since we differentiate, diversify and become more and more unique. And the primordial unity is not broken; it just manifests as participation of everything/one with everyone/thing. Our differences are real, are authentic. Glossing it over in a civilized manner won’t help. Pretending that we’re one won’t help. Trying to make it go away won’t help. Trying to transcend it won’t help. Actually there is nothing that can be done about it: the chaos we live in is authentic, it’s real and it is the ground out of which we weave the story of life and civilizations. But maybe for the first time in history actually being able to radically accept this chaos, opens up the possibility for something new to emerge. May it help us through the next phase of our development.

The Original keeps on Returning

“Do not cling to your timeline,” he said.

As I followed this directive down a few paths, I felt lost. The Orient had gone, no direction. So I said, “No lighthouse in sight. No sun, no stars. What can guide me? Which line to follow? Where to put my foot?”

He smiled. In his eyes I saw how he felt for us, how he was willingly entangled in our human predicament. And yet he answered, “If all lines would be equally good and equally challenging in the long run, if the multitude of possible destinies were of equal quality overall, which timeline would you really want to travel down? What would you want to be your guiding light?”

On a round planet a path can bring you anywhere, and will eventually, if you travel it long enough, bring  you everywhere. And I’m in love with the two-armed form, the never ending diversity, the manifold presencing itself uniquely and originally wherever I care to just look.

The Original hides in plain sight. It reveals its nature as nothing; nothing without a capital letter and a -ness at the end. Imagine, if you like, a completely empty space; and for you smart-asses reading this, a space completely without any energy fluctuations, virtual or manifest. Now, if anyone would be asking you, “What is happening there?”, you’d answer, “Nothing is happening there.” That’s what I mean by nothing. The empty space would be nothingness, but what’s happening there is, “nothing, whatsoever.”

That’s how the Original is hiding in plain view, and reveals itself to me as soon as I remember, and sometimes even without me remembering anything.

The Neverending Dreamer by Cameron Gray

As soon as you try to take hold of the Original, mentally, feelingly, in Spirit or Soul, or any which way, it hides in plain view again. Pretending to be nothing. But once you see, once you understand that you cannot understand, that it cannot be turned into anything whatsoever, even identified with or arrived at neti-neti or iti-iti or any other way, once you let go of letting go, once you re-member, the Original is there. And even though you cannot identify with it, it’s You, it’s Me, it’s presencing originally wherever you care to turn. And it’s nothing special at all.

When the Original returns, it doesn’t return as a realisation. Realisations may follow in it’s wake, and often do, but the Original is no realisation. No sky, no heaven lights up, although colors may return to what seemed like tinges, hues, and glosses before. No divine trumpets announcing the omnipresent, non-dual, eternal out-of-time happening, although a transparent joy may infuse all that appears in your awareness as the Original returns to its ancient homestead in plain view.

And the Original keeps on returning. Not once and for all times, although it may often seem to be that way. Until you discover yourself in the distance, taking yourself to be this, that or the other. Trying to be enlightened. Trying to be good, beautiful and true. Meditating in the divine and blissful regions of the never-ending realms of light and darkness. Or finding yourself stuck in this or that karma, this or that trauma, this or that complex, this or that pain and suffering, this or that desire; finding yourself in all the never-ending imperfections of the human form. And that is Original as well: everything in plain view is. So you do whatever you can, to get the stuck unstuck, to see through your powerlessness and powerfully embody everything you choose, to welcome all and everyone that happens to visit the guesthouse of your awareness. Because, you may conclude on the timeline you’re on, whatever you meet, you meet as the one and only Original one. And healing is its wake, the trail it leaves behind. (Thank you Jody for pointing that out.)

For as long as you try to wrap your head, your self around it, the Original will hide in plain view. But as you accept the impossibility of it all, as you allow for nothing to happen at all, it may unwrap itself for you, and recalibrate everything just for the pure fun of it, the simple and ordinary presence of whatever happens to be.

Nothing is as it is. (Yes, you can read this at least in two ways.) So what I do, whenever I feel like it, is bring myself and what concerns me, or whatever else I care to bring, to nothing. And then it is touched, or maybe recalibrated and brought to another resonance, or it simply stays just the way it is originally.

Nothing is gained, and magically everything is. So, letting go of your timeline, which line to follow?

(Take Two – Take One here)