Sunday, February 12, 2012
The Fragility of Existence
As I turned off the water and pulled the curtain aside leaving our tiny bathroom in full view my spirit stirred seeming to dance amidst the shifting fog. I found myself most unwillingly plunged spontaneously in the moment between past and eternity. I felt almost like a vapor, translucent and just another swirl in the shifting elixir of the kosmos. Casting my unique hue, assuming my place in the life of things. I moved and had my being that shared being with everything else around me.
I could feel each beat of my heart and was acutely aware of my organs. I closed my eyes but could feel and see each one- my kidneys, my colon, my lungs, heart, spine-everything. The thin layer that separated these fragile organs that comprised of the system identified as me from the rest of the world no longer seemed like the barrier it once was perceived to be. Intensely conscious of the space between and within each cell I was struck at how truly empty and spacious we all are on a subatomic level.
Then it hit me. Like a thunderbolt. This feeling of dread as I stood becoming fully aware at the full fragility of my existence. I am going to die. I could die any moment really. I am truly fragile, a mere wrinkle in the folds of eternity, easily ironed out by any number of infinite things. And those I love, also wrinkles, little specks in the vastness of a timeless time. No wonder why so many people find comfort in religion.
The last couple of years as I began really turning over stones and searching for what might be true concerning the nature of God I've discovered the need to discard the definition of Him as defined by organized religion. Just a couple of years ago I remember asking my pastor questions that were obviously not the right ones. I was rebuked and accused of being a pantheist. But to me, something just wasn't quite right about the idea of an intentional personal deity, especially one in a world of such chaos and suffering. One that was supposed to be the embodiment of Love.
I was rebuked and repented and went back to reading the Scriptures exclusively, dropping all interests in other philosophies where I might find some answers and a more compatible view to the way I was starting to see the world. Eventually, a year later I broke entirely free from all of that. Thoughts of this all are now flashing through my head as I feel mortality's weight bearing down on my consciousness.
I rejected all of that because I started seeing things the way I feel they are. I want the truth but here I stand naked, caught now transfixed in reflection while my lungs are contracting and expanding and beads of water fall in rivulets down my breathing skin from here to there to eventually the bottom of the basin. Here I stand in complete dread at the reality of what life very well might be. I wanted the truth and here it is. I thought there was nothing better than knowing the truth but now that I have never felt closer to it and never felt more clarity towards it I'm starting to regret the inquisitive nature that defines much of my ego. It is leading me to dark and unfamiliar places. It's as if my soul longs to draw back the curtain, wrap itself in a towel and fall asleep somewhere warm and comforting, perhaps in the embrace of a psalm or hymn to be lulled back into the deep peaceful sleep my curiosity rudely woke it up from.
No no no...no sleep! Isn't the whole point in this lifetime to be awakened? And when I think I'm on the road towards such a lofty and perhaps unachievable goal I now want to stop and pitch a tent and go no further? I almost laugh. What an unbelievably cruel joke life might very well be. Though, not really a joke at all for that would presuppose that there was a jokester. Irony is probably a more appropriate word. Here on this planet life blooms complex life forms that blossom even more complex levels of consciousness. Memories, feelings, hopes, dreams, ambitions-factors that make us, us, just simply stop being when our bodies no longer function? Could that really be how it is? Isn't that already what I've been discovering through meditation? That we are not our thoughts, our body, our feelings. That those aren't really us. That within us lies a core of eternity , one and the same with that which holds together the Universe? Which is the Universe itself?
I guess I accepted that in practice and theory but the true realization of what it all meant never really dawned on me until this moment. Am I right to have such a foreboding towards that reality? Doesn't everyone want to continue forever, want their loved ones to continue forever? I didn't just cast aside a dogmatic God. I am now realizing the full weight and implications of what I am coming to accept God and reality as being. I am now realizing that I have cast aside the idea of having any real God at all in the traditional sense of the word.
Yes, I admit to myself, now drying off for there are things to be done in the day. I can feel the soft cotton running along my skin. The air is growing cooler as nearly all the fog has lifted. If the ego dies forever, which makes sense to me, and only Self remains, all our autonomy and sense of self (as defined by our ego) vanishes. Is that really a bad thing? Through life we are engrossed in our egos, captivated by them, must we seek to be the same also in death?
As I dress little hands knock on the door. It is my son. He is eager to go play out in the woods today. I am too. There is no place I feel more free than out in the natural world and I love seeing my son develop a passion for jumping over fallen trees, gathering vines and attempting to arrange them in a crown to wear and throwing rocks, kerplunk, into the river. All that really matters is now. That is all that really exists. Life between each beat of our hearts. And to live fully is what brings glory and honor to the thread in the tapestry of eternity that we weave with our egos. It gives it color and playfulness. Texture and a unique vibration all of its own. To live and not to sleep, to plunge in the roaring tides fearlessly and without abandon or excuse, is what this life is all about. To be caught up in dwelling on what the future holds in terms of eternity is to miss the point entirely.
I open the door and his bright smile is like a sunrise in my heart. Thoughts of death and mortality vanish as I get lost in his eyes that are filled with so much light and joy. His hands are already holding the dog's leash. He's ready to go...and so we do.
Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section. Thank you!