POSTCARD#65: Chiang Mai: The photo is from the garden of Wat Phra Singh, one of a dozen Buddhist temples in the old city – 700 years of accumulated virtue, focus, and wisdom, means the sense of well-being almost becomes a tangible thing. An improved English translation might be: ‘When there is no beginning there is no end.’ Words, in any language, don’t stretch that far. In Thai it’s expressed better: meua (when) mai mi (don’t have) kanreumton (beginning) kho mai tong (not necessary) kangbon (worry) tung kwam sin sut (the end). No end, no beginning, leave everything in the continuous form of the present moment – ‘it’ never started so it cannot stop – it cannot leave because it never came [Mooji]. No past, no future – only for the simplicity of linear time and getting things in the right order. ‘It’ is simply understood… things are as they are, the on-going investigation of what else is happening in the mind/body organism and the world containing it; all this continues, and finding my way through a lifetime of sensory input is enough – observing the smallest details of conscious awareness.
Saying there is a point of origin, creates a story in the mind: once upon a time… but I can’t be certain what happened before that – the chicken/egg puzzle. A story inside a story (inside a story), the deep memory of many lifetimes spent searching for ‘it’… and the reason for ‘it’. Now I discover if I ask what ‘it’ is, the question leads to the semantically empty ‘it’… as in: ‘it is raining.’ What’s raining? The sky, the clouds? ‘It’ is a ‘dummy’ word broadly signifying a general state of affairs, a name for something that’s not there. It’s what the software does. I can ask the question: what was it like before the story began? In the vast abundance of no ‘self’ anatta, looking at a thing without the identity of it being a thing and getting to be okay with not having to know what’s going on. Language creates identity, issues a photo ID, sign here please and over that it’s stamped with the seal of authority to verify the bearer of this document is who he/she says they are in the identity details created for it.
Then there are other days when the insight into How It Began just suddenly arrives… the entry point is in the context of the here-and-now. A fleeting moment of understanding in present circumstances; a light that illuminates everything. ‘It’ goes without saying… No beginning, no end in the absence of ‘it’.
In the Beginning, there is no beginning,
Only the Solitude of the One.
The One Being, Emptiness, the Void,
Space filled with Ether.
An eternal Hunger resides in the Silence of Space.
Hunger moves, growing, longing to be filled,
Tension becoming agitation, vibration.
Water forms in Ether,
Fire emerges within Water.
All is vibration — pulsating waveforms
born from Hunger in the Solitude, the One.
We are the One enjoying the appearance of Separation.
[V. Susan Ferguson, ‘Voices from the Four Cycles of Time’: Beginnings: Satya (source: hipmonkey)]
with the luxury of wondering
if they exist forever
or they’ve not existed yet!
Wonderful to know there’s all the time in the world to contemplate how this can be…
V. Susan Ferguson also wrote a good introduction to Kashmir Shaivism.
Thanks for the link to the pdf, will study that later. I heard of V. Susan Ferguson by way of the hipmonkey site – see link at the end of the post…
Listened to the Mooji but am not enlightened so do not know what it is. But, I ask, are we enjoying our separateness? Seems we are seeking union with One and may or may not know that. Don’t we long for union in all sorts of ways.
I agree with you, we’re fundamentally uneasy about our separateness. It’s caused by ‘wanting’, by creating an object of wanting we move out from subjectivity into the duality of subject/object – I want ‘that’. It’s the ‘longing for union’ that causes the separateness from union. ND teachers say the ‘union’ we seek is already here, there was never a time when it wasn’t here. The Buddha’s teaching is more pragmatic; speculation on possibilities is a form of ‘wanting’ so let’s work towards a greater understanding of the reasons for our separateness, and the state beyond the cessation of ordinary consciousness is union.
Such a curious word, “it” is! Indefinite, all-assuming and yet, impossible not to include in modern English anyway.
Years ago, my therapist heightened my awareness to my own use of indefinite language and that my descriptions of things, events and feelings lacked qualities that surely are there if words like “it,” “this,” and “that ” were filled in with more descriptive language.
Perhaps though, “it’ is the ultimate personification for things unknown. We never really know who or what “it” is.
Yes, the word ‘personification’ does fit in this context, we need to customise the world somehow. Language becomes things, describes things – we have to call “it” something 🙂 But sometimes words seem so distant from how our perceived world actually is, there’s the feeling of a totally different kind of consciousness…
It was RD Laing’s writing that first introduced me to the idea that you can’t actually capture perception with words. What can ‘red’, ‘banana flavoured’, ‘love’ or ‘depression’ mean to anyone who hasn’t had those experiences herself? The best you can do is either use the word in the hope it will invoke a parallel experience in the listener or create a false impression of the experience by cobbling together others that the listener may have had (“It smelled a bit like a rose but with a kind of lemony undercurrent and a sort of earthiness”).
But non-dual experiences are even harder. When you try to pin them down with any words you don’t just fail to capture them you misrepresent them. Because words divide things, either explicitly with their meaning or implicitly with the grammatical structures they’re imbedded in. So to try to capture non-duality in words is to destroy it.
Maybe that’s why Ramana Maharshi said “Silence is the true upadesa”.
Thanks for this, it struck me that it’s impossible really. Language with its imbedded structures attaches itself to everything in our World like a benign virus. We use words to describe and create examples of the inexpressible, ineffable oneness that is the totality of it all, but it’s still just a description or an example of it…
I often remind myself by asking, are there really things? No, but our only means of communicating, even to ourselves, is to break the world up into pieces.
This is it. There are literally no words for our ‘reality’ that’s indistinctly seen from time to time. This is why I prefer the Buddhist way of seeing it only as far as ‘cessation’ – beyond that is speculation, there’s nothing that can be said… as in Cabrogal’s example of the ‘silence’ of Ramana Maharshi.
I loved the poem and had to share it with a special friend. I linked you, so hopefully they visit.
Hi Sindy, sorry it’s taken me so long to tell you thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you shared the poem with your special friend…
No worries friend. I enjoyed receiving your reply today! 😀
My friend (special) loved the poem.
This post reminds me of Jack Kornfield’s discussion on “expanding and dissolving the self,” a chapter in A Path With Heart, specifically: “When your vision clears and your heart opens, you will discover that you are living in a constant process of beginnings and endings…Every new year, every day, every moment is a letting go of the old and a rebirth of the new.” For me, this is the “it” you consider. For me, there are no words yet words are often all I have. Thank you for this thoughtful post.
Thanks for filling that empty space usually occupied by the word, ‘it’. ‘A Path With Heart’ has been on my bookshelf since 1995 – given to me by one of the monks in Wat Pah Nanachat. Reading it was a turning point for me. Time to revisit. Thanks for reminding me, I’ll find it and look for the chapter.