Friday, May 26, 2006
Work was over and I was stuck in traffic. Suddenly I noticed the sky. It was an ordinary spring afternoon sky -- bright blue, with a few small white clouds drifting about like not-too-compelling afterthoughts. I stared at it. I'd never quite noticed how odd it was, this "sky" thing. The only thing I could say about it with any certainty was "blue." I struggled with the geometry, no the topology, no not even that. No spatial category seemed to apply to that which was "blue." Dome ? Volume ? Ceiling ? Ghost ? Hallucination ? It was disconcerting. The frank, undeniable blue. "Up" there. Where ?
Well, what is "sky" then, a useful shorthand, or an act of liguistic bad faith ?
And what, for that matter, is "blue" ?
Or, more the the point (I glanced at the big Congregational Church to my left whose banner announced that it was "Still Speaking") "Christ" or even "God" ?
Don't speak, I muttered. Don't speak.
Luckily, at that moment, the traffic began to move. There is something about Easter's aftermath, coinciding as it does with the dizzying metamorphoses of spring, that addles me, and sends me on a mad dash down the rabbit hole of theology. What shall I call this besottedness ? Godlust ? Vertigo ?
I recalled another astronomical exercise I'd recently done. I'd been, I think, watching some tiny insects scurrying about. I felt massive, the size of a small god. I dwarfed the thing. As the earth dwarfed me, and as the universe dwarfed the earth. Now that was vertigo. Vertigo that even the psalmist felt -- who, after enumerating various celestial wonders, cries --
What are human beings that you are mindful of them ?
Parse that one. I dare you. What is this "you" and in what manner is this "you" "mindful" of us ?
You mind us.
Us you mind ?
Mind us. You !!
Us. (Mind you.)
Earlier in the week I'd listened to a talk on samadhi. A brain state one achieves only after strenuous meditational effort. A state prior to concepts, speech, distinctions. Where even the knower vanishes. So of course this state cannot truly be "known" or "experienced" in any usual sense. One emerges from it and, under the tutelege of a master, recognizes that, in retrospect, one has been "there." Therefore, you should --
engage yourself in zazen as though saving your head from fire !
Where have I heard that before ?
Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter -- and then, before you know it, there's fire shooting out of twelve heads which are babbling in some strange tongue that pre-dates Babel.
Don't speak ! Don't speak !