This is one of those rare days when I have lots of small things on my list to do, but it doesn't feel like the world will end if I don't get to all of them. It's days like this when I realize just how stressed I am a lot of the time - without realizing it. It's on days like this that I promise myself that I will "do" less and "be" more - and I try to keep that promise. But "being" me leads inevitably to "doing" more. Or so it seems. The tendency is for me to go into our temple room and sit, gradually settling into Stillness - and as soon as I've let go of the rush of everyday mind jabber - in that moment where the cosmic inner smile begins to peek through - another part of me begins to suggest how I can do this - or that - usually deeply spiritual things - anything to keep from falling into Stillness again. I have to smile. It's rather like a child who doesn't want to go to sleep and keeps coming up with excellent reasons why they should stay up. So I guess this analogy applies to when the kid has stayed up for a few days in a row - or when I've managed to skip my meditation for a few days - and then I fall into it like a rock into deep water.
This morning I sat - chanting mantras and letting go of thoughts - staring at the Enso calligraphy on the Enochi altar across the room from me. When Patricia is sitting with me, she blocks my view of this card - perhaps even takes the place of it. But its image reminds me - as does her presence - of what is truly important in this moment. And I let go and sink more deeply into that.
It's a good feeling - the letting go of "me" of everyday nonsense that seems to terribly important - until I let it go and it's not anymore. I breathe more deeply and smile from the inside out. The wave surrounds me and I float.
There are no words for the place with no words. But coming out of it, I feel - as usual - renewed, calm, and something like happy but without any subject. Just happy to be . . . here.
I find the words of the One Center chant rising through me, so I spill them out, letting them take me out of the timeless place of Stillness. They bring thoughts with them - images and movements within me. I find myself returning to the dharma hall at the zendo where the chant was inspired. And other moments when the clarity - what I used to call the "inevitability of life" - has come to me with an assurance that there is some greater "something" to which I belong and that, when I relax into the flow and direction of that greater Self, my movement carries me toward greater awakening and other Mysteries which I do not yet begin to understand. This state of gnosis is a comfort to those parts of me that are committed to this adventure and I find myself thanking my ancestors and all other benevolent beings for this opportunity to Be Here Now. To be here with a partner who shares my thirst for this path, and who challenges me and supports me in ways that I did not know possibly until now. I thank them for the opportunity to become a parent - to take part ever more fully in the Human Experience. And I begin to think of our child, growing for more than three months now inside Patricia, who will be emerging into a world so very different from the one either of us were born into. I consider how many people believe that this is an ugly and dangerous world to bring a new child into - but we don't see it like that. Not that we don't recognize the challenges and take them into consideration, but we also see what a treasure this life is and what a joy it is to pass on this blessing to another.
Thinking about the world in all it's complexity, I am reminded of a link that Patricia sent me a few weeks ago (www.storyofstuff.com) with an animated explanation of how things get made and the impact it has on our lives and environment. One thing that really stood out to me in that video was that people described themselves as much happier before we created the consumer society we live in today. It's as if the industrialists decided to make our happiness a part of their own equation of prosperity, and we are the ones who loose. They have created a perception that in order to be happy, we need the latest, sexiest, most expensive gadget, car or pair of shoes that we can afford. I realize that this is nothing new. Intelligent people have recognized this for decades. I was fortunate to have one of these intelligent people as my father. (Thanks, Dad!) He taught me that it was better to buy one really good pair of shoes that cost twice as much as the ones that were in style but that would last ten times as long and could be repaired rather than being thrown away after a couple years. (I still have a pair of wingtips I bought 20 years ago. They still fit and I still wear them.)
What's different for me right now is that, since we're expecting a child, I am thinking about how I can pass these values onto HIr. In other words, I'm in the same quandary that every new parent experiences: How can I pass along my values and ethics to my child in a world that seems to contradict them at every turn?
I don't expect to find one answer to this very large question. And I'm not interested in home schooling. What I do expect is that it will be a continued opportunity for our whole family to learn and grow together. And I'm looking forward to it!