So caught up as we are in activities that make up our everyday life we seldom find the space or the interest to take in more deeply the basic fact of eternity. When I ask myself what it is I am doing that will still be present in 200 years, or 2000 or 2 million, then I gain a new perspective on my position in existence. Some of the ancient human cultures on this planet have included contemplation on time in their scriptures. Here is an example from the Indian Veden:
“The insects (the termites called here ‘the white ants’) are addressed as ‘Ye Divine Ants, who originated at the Creation, ye who are combined with Rita’, Rita being the Vedic term for Cosmic Order, hidden in the nether world. It is curious that modern science also tells us that termites are indeed extremely archaic creatures and have been active since the Permian level on the geological time-scale – that is, for no less than 200 million years. In Indian folk culture, termites are associated with ancestor-worship and, because their shaft-holes are believed to lead down to the nether world, with Death and the ‘Womb of Life and Rebirth’.”
Ancestor worship goes further than ‘honoring our ancestors’ so as to nourish a sense of gratitude for our own existence which grew out of the line of our ancestors. To worship is to focus our entire body-mind-spirit complex on something, in this case our ancestors, for the purpose of energetically swimming back up the stream of time ‘against the flow’ of conditioned consciousness. In this way it is possible to merge our awareness with the universal genesis of creation, of which each of us is an integral expression with the entirety of creation recorded within our cells. Western thinking is characterized by a sense of separation from the whole. This comes to expression in the view that there was once a moment of the initial ‘big bang’ and from that moment all else in the phenomenal world resulted. This view intimates that there was a grand moment of aliveness, of creation, and then there is the result of that aliveness, or that explosion of creation. Once again we find a fundamentally different view in the Vedic culture:
“Fundamental to all Indian thinking about phenomenal existence is a deep and abiding belief in the continuance of the Beginning, but not as a unique “big bang” or originating moment sparking temporal succession, as in Western thinking about the origin of the universe. To the Indian mind, genesis is a continuing function; the cosmogony takes place not at the “beginning of time” but in the Eternal Present.”
When we take on this view and allows ourselves to be genesis real-time in this Eternal Present, something remarkable and absolutely life-changing occurs. Even the mere intention of wanting to open up to the ground of being and to the formless, unmanifest Supreme Reality, has a strong impact on our life. In my experience it is not a sudden, one-time revelation that is most life-changing, although each such ‘satori’ moment has had its effect on my psyche. As a case in point, allow me to relate my personal situation at present.
I am currently in transit from Morocco, where my wife and I have been living for the past year and a half, back to the USA. There are several stations on our present journey and right now we are spending a week over Thanksgiving at my brother’s place in Tennessee. Several of the members of my family whom I had not seen for eight years are here. I have changed a lot in those years as have they. As most of us know, such interactions can be very challenging and are perfect for bringing old behavior patterns such as judgments to the surface.
I found myself, at the height of some of these most challenging moments, innerly repeating the words >>worship the formless reality by unthought thought<<. This is a kind of affirmation I had contemplated for quite a while just before embarking on this journey home from Morocco. It means that I bring to my awareness the underlying reality of everything arising moment to moment from the formless, unmanifest Supreme Reality and that I surrender my latent tendencies to react according to past experiences with the respective person/persons. The second part by >>unthought thought<< is also very tricky, but for me very useful. It entails catching the thoughtform of judgment in its incipient stage, before it becomes a full-blown thought (with the respective emotional negative charge) and holding the dynamic of thinking in abeyance and then allowing it to subside without any outward expression, when it is recognized as a destructive thought. The sense of >>sacrificing this thought << is a reinforcement that appeals to my psyche and seems to allow me to completely let go of the judgment that is about to arise and rest more at peace with myself and with the other.
These latent tendencies (Sanskrit vasanas) are called latent because they are only active when the right energetic frequency arises. This is usually due to certain people or circumstances that are part of the fabric of frequencies that constitute the latent tendency, which is actually an energetic node that is lodged, or ensnared in our energy body. We will often feel the vasana as located within a certain organ or part of our physical body as well. Since these tendencies of behavior, belief or attitude are dormant except when the suitable circumstances arise, we feel as though we are caught by surprise when they suddenly show up. We feel blind-sided and generally are run by the vasana – until we ask ourselves >>what’s going on? << or also >>where did that come from? That’s not like me!<<.
Indeed it is behavior that we, with growing mindfulness, generally have dropped because it was not the way we want to live or relate to people and circumstances. Now that sleeping, inactive energy-node is triggered and we have to opportunity to recognize it and integrate it back into our greater energetic identity and thus heal it. So after it explodes into our Now in the form of, in this case, my old judgments about someone arising, and this explosion creates a bit (or a lot) of havoc and has sufficiently caught our attention, we can then deal with it. We then can follow the well-known steps to integrating this wayward energy and bringing it into alignment with our higher Self.
These steps are first, to feel compassion with ourself, knowing that we are now face to face with the energy of suffering that has kept humanity in bondage for eons. We make ourself aware that it is not an individual shortcoming or weakness. Then we embrace that wayward and orphaned energy in us with acceptance, compassion and caring. We own it as a part of us and take it in with love, knowing that it is just as valuable as any other energy that makes up our being. It has a great lesson to impart and we ask it for that lesson. In this case it shows me the suffering that the one I was judging has gone through, and thus my heart opens again to that one and compassion and a deeper understanding flows between us. We become more loving and forgiving of ourselves and others. If there is a way to be of service to the other, we are then moved to act. If not, the simple fact of the deeper understanding and compassion changes the basic energetic between us and our interactions can once again be a heart to heart connection, which is our purpose here in this world.
In the case of my experience here at Thanksgiving, I was blessed to have an experience of direct perception of the Primordial Source that is continually coming into form before our eyes. As the Zen words go in Japanese shin ku myo u (from true emptiness wondrous being arises), I was sitting on the deck of the little cabin in the woods that is our home here at my brother’s place. A very strong and healthy oak tree of about 10 inches circumference grows through an opening in the deck. As I sat appreciating this wonderful tree I was suddenly struck by the perception of the Primordial Force of creation embodied as this tree. From true emptiness, wondrous being arises. This happens moment to moment even now as I type and you read these words. Nothing from the past need cloud the new moment unless I carry it over. True emptiness is very difficult to realize, but each of us does have the capacity to do just that and this be free of all suffering and bondage.
Of course words are insufficient to convey the deeper feeling tone that accompanied this experience that lasted very clearly and graphically for about a quarter of an hour. It left a strong impression on me and served to completely humble me as an individual human person. All emotional residues of the tension-filled encounters of the past days dissipated as fog in the sun. What significance did they have in the presence of the force of the big bang that was still happening now as me, as you, as each form and being around me and before my eyes? So let my personality or those of others act out some immature tendencies, but by staying aware and awake and guided by primordial love as best we can, they sort themselves out. Forgive and forget is wisdom passed down from time immemorial and can serve us well.