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December 2022 Musings

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
― Rumi
A recent workshop offered a new way to work with a process map.  Instead of focusing on the stickies making up the map to get clarity about the process of suffering being depicted, we were encouraged to query the map for the life messages that it also contained. 
The map is a visual representation of conditioned space, capturing the turmoil of thoughts, sensations, emotions and behaviors comprising the process depicted by the map. But the map is not just a set of colorful stickies with a bunch of words scribbled on them. The map is both stickies and the white sheet of paper on which the stickies are affixed. So habituated are we to see only forms (stickies) that we seldom register emptiness (white space). So intent are we on thoughts that the space between the thoughts is unknown terrain. But what if we paused and paid attention to the “off pulse,” to hear the music between the notes of a melody, to query the white space between and beneath the stickies? Would we begin to see “no-thingness” as the embodiment of information? If we were to practice this method of inquiry, would we become receptive to the blessed knowledge of emptiness? 
Metaphorically speaking, focusing on the stickies, our preoccupation with the colorful drama of conditioned mind, obscures direct experience of the fabric of Reality, the conscious awareness that is always, everywhere, now. Here, the moment, awareness of consciousness being is impossible to describe, but one expression of that experience is insight. The veil drops and, in a singularity of comprehension, we are witness to a specific clarity, an exquisitely particular and appropriate nugget of information that liberates us from a habitual confusion. In a moment of insight, we find ourselves dropping out of the process map into the white space of conscious awareness. Being in Emptiness is sufficient to “end suffering,” for in that state (we are strangled by language here!) the map/conditioned mind doesn’t exist. But we find ourselves unable to abide in white space. We emerge once again to traverse the materiality of our lives. But does participating in life (day-to-day existence) necessarily mean that we forget the dimension of conscious awareness that is Life? Isn’t it possible to be connected to, in moments of darkness and in the brilliant light of daily living, the pulsing Intelligence of Awareness that is always informing the moment?
Querying the process map to get a sense of what Life has to say is a practice, a way to live in a conversation with Reality, anchored in what is, instead of being perpetually lost in a conversation in conditioned mind. Whether we like it or not, it seems that a human incarnation is an oscillation between obscurity and insight, an elaborate game of hide and seek. For those of us lucky enough to know we are on a spiritual journey, practice is the means by which we shift the locus of our being-ness from conditioned space to white space. 
Come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving,
it doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come, come again, come.

― Rumi
Spiritual practitioners are often called seekers, appropriate perhaps if the game is hide and seek! It’s a tricky game since feeling lost, frustrated, resentful and despairing can be where we spend much of our time, bewildered that the searching and not the finding is the bulk of our life experience. Fortunately, an occasional glimpse of insight bolsters the appetite to stay in the game because temporary relief from suffering stops being sufficient. A taste of the bliss of being only makes us hungry for a constant flow of it. 
It is only if we stay in the game that we discover that Life longing for itself is part of the game, Life recognizing itself is part of the game, developing love for being lost is part of the game, cultivating delight for playing is part of the game, surrendering to losing the game and then realizing the brilliance of that move is part of the game and being given the sight of insight is part of the game. Perhaps the realization that grows in the “hide” part of the game is faith, faith that what we seek is only hidden, that what is sought is not absent. If what we seek is merely hidden, all we need is to recall that the process map is both stickies and white space. Instantly, our sight is restored. We have “plain seeing,” the ability to see white space. The blessed knowledge of Emptiness rushes in and we realize we are not seekers, we are seers. Every encounter with conscious awareness stabilizes our center as always abiding in what is not seen. In our journey of incarnation, through a practice of awareness, we increasingly find ourselves “knowing” a context of steadiness, peace and compassion. We grow in our conviction that shining Intelligence, the presence of which may be “out of mind” but never out of sight, the awareness that guides and informs, is every breath, “unseen” but ever present. 
The game is transformed from a desperate quest to “find” into a joyful discovery of seeking all that is hidden in plain sight without losing the serenity that we can never be disconnected from the white space of being.
As soon as You claimed me, I was Yours,
body and soul.
What is left to want?

You are success and You are failure both,
Oh my life! 
They are meaningless
without You. 

Beloved, do as You will with me,
but promise me
ever greater desire for Your Feet!

― Ramana Maharshi