I was out at Arizona Beach Lodge for two days over this last weekend on a private retreat. Here are some of my reflections.
My interest is to connect with those of you who are engaged in their own exploration of consciousness on the background of their direct experience. For me ‘direct experience’ is the same as direct perception. I know that sometimes the term ‘experience’ is seen as that which is recognized by the mind after the fact. For example, I see a tree and then I reflect on that ‘seeing’ and the taking in of the image of the tree. In other words, there is a subject-object relationship. Direct experience and direct perception for me point to the pure happening of ‘me’, as one integral part of this one beingness coming into contact with another integral part, which I, out of convention, call with the word ‘tree’.
In other words, when there is the sense of being totally immersed in that ‘seeing’ and the subject-object dichotomy is absent, my mind is in a state of abeyance, like disengaging the clutch on my vehicle. Then a quality of peace pervades my perception. This happens for me most pervasively in undisturbed nature, such as during the two days here at Arizona Beach.
This I call ‘connecting with the deeper reality of the present moment’, and when that happens, words sort of lose their meaning as does any re-cognition of the happening. On the contrary, letting go of past impressions, ideas and concepts seems to facilitate this direct perception. This is the actual intent of my yoga practice which I see as a deepening of the quality of unconditional acceptance and affectionate perception for all that I encounter and loving mindfulness in all that I do.
This happens on the background of choiceless awareness, such as I find expressed in the following lines:
“The Perfect Way is only difficult
for those who pick and choose;
do not like, do not dislike,
all will then be clear.”
(Hsin Shin Ming, Verse 1, Waley translation)
For me this conjures up that sense of reality being much too vast for linear thinking to grasp in any way. The verb ‘to grok’ is definitely more appropriate. Similarly, the Buddhist term “Suchness” transmits to me that sense of just being with what is. When I am able to relax into that state, then the Way does show up and I can grok it because my focus is not constricted by my conditioned mind. The Way is akin to what I call Intelligent Infinity. There is a deeper cohesiveness inherent in the fabric of reality and I fail to realize myself as a part of it only when my perception is constricted and focused on one particular or a limited segment of the whole.
So ‘just sitting’, or ‘just standing’, or ‘just eating’, or ‘just listening’ is simply the thing to do when I am not called to function in this rather constricted hologram called ‘consensus reality’. Then I open up and can listen to the depth of silence and what it has to show me.
I like the short passage by Alan Watts from “The Way of Zen” in reference to the idea of “sitting in meditation” as a spiritual practice: “Sitting meditation is not, as is often supposed, a spiritual “exercise,” a practice followed for some ulterior object. From a Buddhist standpoint, it is simply the proper way to sit, and it seems perfectly natural to remain sitting so long as there is nothing else to be done, and so long as one is not consumed with nervous agitation.”
There has been a shift for me over recent years, maybe most strongly since 2006 or 2007, when I began to feel the need to open up to a level of understanding that is more fertile than the intellectual understanding that I had gained over the decades prior to that. Only in the past few months, since the beginning of 2013, have I begun to see myself drawn to what I am calling “direct perception”. Now I recognize that many sages and teachers, such as Krishnamurti, have been pointing to exactly that with their teachings.
At present I am contemplating a lot of Zen teachings. Many assert that you cannot really “do” anything to bring about such direct perception, or “direct encounter with reality”, as Thich Nhat Hanh calls it, but only let go of all grasping, trying and purposing and then, when an empty state occurs (which you cannot willfully bring about) – such direct perception happens, of its own accord. I guess it is about getting the feel for no efforting 24/7.
Looking forward to any response you might have, such as your own view on this topic and your direct experiences: do they happen to/with you? when do they happen? can you describe their quality? Thank you!
- Zen: What is Nirvana? Thich Nhat Hanh (newearthpulse.wordpress.com)
- ZEN – Direct Perception (newearthpulse.wordpress.com)
- Zen: Purpose (newearthpulse.wordpress.com)
- Zen and The Ego (newearthpulse.wordpress.com)