There’s Something Bigger

I was driving from Cambridge, Ontario to London this afternoon when a moment came upon me, and it’s stayed through the hours since.  It was a sense of … completion … sufficiency … total allrightness.  It was, and is, quiet.  Almost not there, except it is.  What’s it look like, you ask?  Well here goes:

I don’t need now to be anything other than what it is

There’s nowhere to go

There’s nothing to accomplish

All is still

I simply am

That’ll do for starters.  I know that goals are good but they’re far off in the back of my being right now.  I’ll strive towards things in the future but at the moment I sense that I won’t be tied to the results.  I know that I need to be concerned about injustice and to act appropriately when it comes my way, but that’s smaller than whatever this is.

Time for some specifics:

1.  I haven’t written a blog post for 24 days. This morning that was a problem but not right now … There’s something bigger than the need to write to you.

2.  What if I never write again? … There’s something bigger than ever writing again.

3.  I have a cold and am all stuffed up … There’s something bigger than this discomfort.

4.  My left foot hurts when I walk.  I wonder if it’s plantar fasciitis.  I’ve had it before … There’s something bigger than plantar fasciitis.

5.  I want to lose weight in preparation for the 2018 Tour du Canada cycling trip.  So far not much has happened … There’s something bigger than losing weight.

6.  I want to improve my cardio and strength in preparation for the Tour.  To this point, there’s just a bit of improvement … There’s something bigger than getting fitter.

7.  I want to ride the Tour du Canada … There’s something bigger than crossing my country by bicycle.

8.  I want to be in a loving relationship.  I don’t see any potential life partner on the horizon yet … There’s something bigger than being in a romantic relationship.

9.  I want to live in my new condo for many years … There’s something bigger than having a lovely home.

10.  I love the kids in the Grade 6 class where I volunteer.  I hope than some of them love me … There’s something bigger than being loved.

11.  I love being around people and making them happy, making them laugh … There’s something bigger than spending time with human beings.

***

On one level, I don’t want colds and I do want to say good things to the folks I meet.  Right now, though, I’m immersed in a sense of sufficiency that is just sitting here with me.  Will it be on the bed when I wake up tomorrow?  I don’t know.  But there’s something beyond having this sweetness continue uninterrupted.  The fact that it’s here right now suggests that it will come back after it leaves.  And that’s good enough for me.

 

Gone … No … Here

Writers are supposed to speak to their audience, use words that they’ll relate to, be comfy to them so that meaning flows easily from me to you.  Well, perhaps not this time.

I’ve just come out of one-and-a-half hours of meditation, and the world is big.  There are spaces between my cells.  It’s not quite like a pause button, and it’s not really slow-mo, but those words are in the territory.  And “coming out of” is not true either.  That suggests some trance state of blissful nothingness.  What I’ve just experienced is sweet nowness, fully aware of the traffic on Belmont Road and the wind ripping at my condo.

It took maybe twenty seconds for me to go deep.  How can that be?  During my recent retreat, I often couldn’t reach peace during an entire sitting.  The mind was just too chatty.  “Couldn’t reach” suggests effort and I know now that there’s no loving cheese down that tunnel.  By grace do I flow.

Today, I mostly felt complete stillness, and such an alertness.  Many times before, my stillness was punctuated by ripples of energy running under the skin of my face, including some sort of movement under my eyeballs.  Don’t know what that looks like since I’m inside the show.

Wo.  (I really don’t know how to spell that.)  Half an hour later, in the midst of tap-tapping on the keys, all is quiet.  Somewhere way back in my head is a tiny voice.  “You’re not making any sense.  They won’t understand.  They’ll think you’re weird.”  But that voice is so small, just about not there.  What is here is love, and peace, and okayness.  Hmm.  It’s very nice.

Bathing in this land of sufficiency is warm and comforting … but now what?  Do I head to the nearest cave and pray for world peace?  Do I stay downtown and see if this space can show up in daily conversation?  Do I chuck it all out the window and just obsess about the Toronto Maple Leafs?  Think I’ll pick Door Number Two.

Ain’t life grand?

Sufficiency

There is no need for what is happening to go away
Or for what is not happening to appear

So says Ashin Tejaniya, a Buddhist teacher.  But what does it mean for my life?

Such as right now.  I’m sitting in my man chair, typing.  It would be lovely if Jody could sit beside me and let me rub her feet, something we did so often.  I’d get to send physical love to my dear wife.  But in this moment, I don’t need Jody to be here.  I don’t need wonderfully wise words to fall out of my brain into my fingers.  I don’t need to look in the mirror and see some outrageously handsome dude looking back.  I don’t need my feet to be warm and toasty.

Just as I am.  Just fine.

But what about if life was throwing me a few curve balls?  What if I was sitting here sad because I’m alone in life now?  My best self wouldn’t need the sadness to disappear.  What if now was just like the fall of 2003?  Seven-teen weeks on crutches after tendon transfer surgery, plus lots of pain.  Perhaps I wouldn’t need the cast and the angst to disappear.  What if I was being condemned by my colleagues for being a poor teacher?  I don’t think I’d need the hurt to go away.

Just as I am.  Just fine.

Can I really live this way?

Coming, Joining, Going

In July, 2013, I spent a week at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, on a silent retreat.  Every afternoon, we had  a long enough break for me to walk a three-mile loop road from the centre.

Early in the week, I found myself really attracted to a woman named Karen. She and I were in the same small group interviews with each of the teachers. The way those interviews were set up, you only talked to the teacher.  So I hadn’t said a word to Karen.

One day, as I was setting out on my walk from the front door of the centre, doing my usual right-to-left loop route, I noticed Karen starting to walk down the circular driveway, heading to the left.  I wondered if she was going to do the loop.  If so, we’d meet about halfway.

I wasn’t very mindful as I passed fields and woodlots, unless you’d include being mindful of Karen’s (!) possible approach.  During the middle of the walk, there’s a long straight stretch. As I curved left to start that section, I looked way ahead.  A tiny figure was on the road, hundreds of yards away. And then a little less tiny.  And then someone definitely wearing a wide-brimmed hat, like I had seen on Karen’s head at the beginning.

Closer still .. and that was Karen.  One hundred yards.  Finally, as we approached each other, I brought my palms together in front of my chest, smiled, made eye contact, and bowed.  She smiled back and bowed to me. And then … poof!  We were gone our separate ways.

At the end of the retreat, we spoke for a few minutes.  Neither of us mentioned our moment of contact.  She told me about the summer program at the Omega Institute in New York State and said that, who knows, we might see each other there someday.  I agreed.

And that was it.  No last names.  No e-mail addresses.  Probably no ever again.  But we touched each other’s lives.  That I know.  The bow was enough.