APPROACHES TO THE SECOND WORLD
The only aim of spiritual exercises is to gain control of attention.
Yoga is constraint placed upon the variations of consciousness. Then he who sees is present to himself. Otherwise, he remains identified with the variations.
Do you remember yourself when you were three?
Moss by a mountain stream. A dewy rose in the sun. And an open-hearted child. Sheer exultation of being.
The child sees the world as a miracle iridescent with possibilities. It sees trees praying to the sky, grassfields bowing to the wind. Even the thin peal of a schoolyard bell leaves a timeless shiver in the air.
And are its clouds of glory a half-remembered thing? Is its heart's heart linked to a unity known before birth?
Remember your first freshness? What a wonder the world was then. Marvels jostled to reveal themselves and somewhere everything was in tune.
Before grim knowledge spoiled you, Odyssey's called you on the wind and the song of your blood became perception. You breathed elation's sacred air.
An infant's thought-unclouded eyes can be as fathomless as the glaze before death - enough to agitate its parents into self-reinforcing baby talk. The child knows nothing and everything - as if it's not a child at all. So to teach it to be one becomes every parent's task.
As an infant, we saw directly - a discernment not easily found. We were well informed for a creature so recently born. So were we completely infants? Or potentials facing a new experience?
Some believe death thrusts us back into the morning of our lives and cite child prodigies as proof that expertise is transported through the womb. Some see lives as fixed roles that, like actors, we are obliged to play out.
We can be diverted for a lifetime by such theories. But theories don't feed hearts.
In the brief years before thought's pale cast enveloped us there was freshness of perception. Why?
Because life was filtered entirely through our senses and instead of 'thinking' we experienced. And because we received impressions directly, everything was vivid.
Descartes made a great mistake with his dictum: 'I think, therefore I am'. Because thought negates the organic experience of being. The reverse is the case: 'I think, therefore I am not'.
As we begin to imitate others we harden, grasp, demand. Soon we're adults, grubbing for money and attacking those in our way, caring for our young, fighting off competition. Then comes the third stage of life - age, feebleness, regrets and death. Does this eighty-year parabola end in softness once more? It can. But, often, the middle-aged hardness becomes brittle and fractious. Yet, while many second childhoods are stunting, some old people remain fully informed.
Our lives are finite. Like the trees, we grow, bloom, seed and die. We have a limited number of years. And mostly fewer years of health. Health translates as energy plus time. So we have X amount of energy and time.
How will we expend this?
What will we serve?
And with what?
THE HORIZONTAL AND THE VERTICAL
From a geometrical perspective the way we exist now is horizontal - on the level of ordinary life. But the 'way in' mentioned last chapter is vertical to life. This vertical direction is the antithesis of all we've been taught.
The need is to live in two worlds - at the point where horizontal and vertical meet - in the universe of all possibilities - a place sometimes called 'the eternal now'. That 'now' connects with truth, revelation, love - with all that is real. There, everything is one. There, time and eternity connect.
But expressed truths become lies before they leave the lips and fresh insights decay into mantras the moment they are thought. So even this famous 'now' is an expression that has died. Inspirational books still tritely urge us to 'be here now'. But the plunge into that bottomless pool can't be evoked by dying words. So such words remain theoretical - information without weight - until we experience what they mean actually, organically.
Until we ARE.