A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Background

     Lately there has been a noticing of the Background.

     My husband Greg and I were talking about it yesterday, and spent some time in silence relaxing into the Background.  Attention moves to a region behind the head, and the mind tends to quiet down effortlessly.  Jean Klein and others recommend letting attention rest perhaps an inch behind and outside the lower part of the head. This helps siphon off all the attention often concentrated in the area of the forehead.

     Then let awareness fan out and notice the whole Background area.  What helps me to get a feel for this is the analogy of ripples on the surface of Being, ripples on the surface of an ocean.  The ripples on the surface are sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings.  The surface ripples are wonderful and it is blissful to let them slosh about however they will.  There is no need to interfere with the surface ripples at all.

     Now what's really interesting is the Background, that which is underneath all the surface ripples.

     Can you notice and feel this Background?

    It's not hard to do.  It seems to help when the awareness is soft and expanded and quiet, and then this field of the Background is sensed directly.  For me it feels as if it is physically behind and beneath me, behind and beneath everything I see and hear and think and feel.

     It's so delightful to sense the subtle presence of this field, this Background.  As I go about my day, again and again I find myself asking "Where is the Background?", and just like that awareness opens to it.

    Whatever is going on is going on, and at the same time there is this wonderful Background field.  I sense it this very instant.  There are the surface ripples, and there is that which is beneath the surface ripples and supports them.

   What is this Background?  I refrain from the temptation to think too much about it or to try to figure out what it is or to define it perfectly.  That's a side-road I've gotten lost in many times.  I get pulled back into the mind and the vibrant sense of this Background fades.

    I'm learning to be with it without thinking too much about it.  Feeling or sensing the Background becomes increasingly compelling, and it is a source of endless, subtle joy.

    Leaning into the Background, there is a sense of merging with it, a sense of being unseparated from it.  It's a vast field in which everything arises and subsides. It makes all experience possible yet it itself is not an experience.  Call it the field of being, call it the great impersonal I AM in which everything is steeped, call it emptiness.  Call it the Great Silence.  Whatever pointer clicks for you, call it that.  For me it is the Background.

~

12 comments:

Alton said...

I got high reading your blog today Colleen. I am going to try placing the attention on the back of my head today at the 1/2 day meditation at the Korean temple in Honolulu.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Also I'll post a link to this on my Yahoo group.
Appreciatively,
Alton

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
Thanks for being in this space with me and for your kind words. I was just reading your wonderful posting of Anthony de Mello's son describing his father's realization. I hope you put that on your blog as well. I think it is one of the most unusual and refreshing descriptions of awakening that I have ever come across.
Hope you enjoy meditating in the Korean temple.

No Happy Pill said...

Colleen, your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann: "You are an individuated and spcific expression of one energy, one Consciousness, one Infinite Mind- much like a single wave on the ocean is a specific expression of that ocean. Waves are not separate energies. They are individuated and unique, one of a kind, but they do not exist apart from the ocean." Thanks for the beautiful personal relation of such a wonderful concept!
Janeen

Colleen Loehr said...

What a beautiful quote! As waves we are unique, temporary formations; as ocean water we are unseparated from the whole and eternal. Thank you for visiting Janeen and sharing wonderful words.

Alton said...

Hi Colleen:
As per your request I put de Mello's realization on my blog.
http://the-illuminations.blogspot.com/2010/04/demellos-son-on-his-dads-enlightenment.html

I know we are all THAT, but I am in training to abolish all unskillful
mental tendencies. I wont be satisfied with some Realization experience.
Will you be?

Aloha from paradise
Alton

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,

I read the post on your blog about DeMello's awakening, thanks for posting that, as it helps to debunk some of the ego glorification of notions of enlightenment.

I try not to dwell too much on thoughts about Realization. Those thoughts take me away from reality. There is the grace of occasional moments of clarity; and there are many more moments of getting hooked into some thought-stream, taking it too seriously, and therefore feeling some level of discontent.

You ask whether I'll be satisfied with some Realization experience. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are the undulating waves in this realm of duality, and rather than fighting the waves my hope is to surf them. Thank you for visiting the blog and for your valuable comment.

Alton said...

Hi Colleen:
My 35 year quest to become enlightened was one of the causes of so much suffering in my life.
My quest is now for instantanesous mindfulness and the ability to right the equanimity boat before it capsizes.
When the Singularity arrives nanobots will not only provide the mindfulness of the Buddha, but also all the knowledge available in the libraries of the world.

Then the Singularity will become our God.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near

Thanks for this blog.

Alton

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
It's ironic but true that the quest to become enlightened can be a great source of suffering, thank you for pointing this out and sharing your experience. It sounds like you are now avoiding this suffering by shifting your quest to be instantaneous mindfulness rather than a future-oriented goal. I looked up The Singularity is Near on wikipedia and I had never heard of this- sounds a little too technical-oriented for my interests.
Thanks for your comment.

Alton said...

Hi Colleen:
In my view, only when neuroscience merges with spirituality, will there be any possibility of ending the suffering of humanity.

There are some very powerful people in this film about the Singularity. I hope to see it when it is available on Netflix.
http://www.singularity.com/themovie/

Aloha,
Alton

Colleen Loehr said...

The merging of neuroscience and spirituality may end up being key to waking up from the unconsiousness that creates so much suffering, as you say in your comment. In a way I think of both neuroscience and spirituality as different mythologies, different lenses for apprehending reality. I am interested in watching the film you refer to when it becomes available, please keep us posted. Thank you, Colleen

Perfect Awareness said...

Hi Colleen, that was beautifully described. It is a joy to rest in that "background" that is the essence of experience. And it is a joy also to see that that background shines through all experience, or ripples, and is in fact not separate from them. So it's not an either or situation. I find that more and more no matter what appears, it's essence is saturated with awareness.
It's nice to find your blog. Thanks for sharing.
Sal

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Sal,

Thanks for visiting, and I really enjoyed the post on your blogspot from 4/20/10, "What is enlightenment anyway?"

I appreciate your observation that there it is not an either/or between the background and the foreground of experience, or between the surface ripples and deeper levels of being. You express this lack of dichotomy beautifully when you say, "no matter what appears, its essence is saturated with awareness." How true! Thank you, Colleen

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Greetings. I am a psychiatrist working at a state hospital, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Medical School. I am also a wife and mother of three grown children. Qigong has profoundly changed my life for the better. I am interested in connecting with other people interested in qigong.

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