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!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Volumes of silence

A few weeks ago I came across this photo of a 12 month old boy being prepared for burial in 2001 after he died of dehydration in a refugee camp. Looking at the image there is horror at this baby's untimely death, mixed with a sense of profound wonder at the beauty of his peaceful countenance. There is such palpable love and reverence in the many hands carefully preparing this child for burial. I post this photo because it continues to speak volumes of silence within me.

It's been a chaotic few weeks with tons of stuff happening, and I ask myself if I have an image or expectation of how I'm supposed to weather these stormy seas (hospital and ER visits with Chris, an intoxicated person threatening one of my children, a loved one coping with dementia, and many other experiences)- and the answer is "yes!"- I absolutely have an image of how I'm supposed to weather life's storms. I'm supposed to be unflappable, serene, wise, a cross between Eckhart Tolle and Mother Teresa- NOT!  What a strait-jacket it is to have all these images of how I'm supposed to be, and then the secret internal-editor busily deleting all feelings that don't jive with the worshiped image of "how I'm supposed to be."

It's exhausting pretending to be someone I'm not.

And yet the pretending becomes a habit with a life of its own.

The flower doesn't control its reactions or strive to be peaceful, it just is itself.  It doesn't have a me. It doesn't need to have a me to be fully itself.  

I wonder if people also don't need a me to be fully themselves.  Even though I think I have a me, maybe there is in fact no me here typing these words, just as there is no cut-off and separated me in the flower curving in the sun.  There is an idea of me, there are plenty of ideas of me all over the planet, but maybe the fact is that there is not a me anywhere in all the universe, there is just life.  Life doesn't need a me.  It's absolutely complete without a me.

Chameli Ardagh talks about realizing that "this me I have been trying to get rid of is not really a thing.  It's not really there so there's nothing to change."

It's a bit hideous to imagine a flower with a me.  A flower with an ego.  Kind of ridiculous.  Maybe it's just as ridiculous to imagine myself or any other person as a me.  A me is a mental phenomenon, an idea, nothing more.  It's fine and will help me to take Mary out for some errands after I finish posting this.  But this mental phenomenon called me doesn't have to consume all my life energy in endless obsessions with protection and gaining.

It's exhausting pretending to be who I'm not, and maybe without realizing it I've been busy pretending to be a me when I'm not and never could be a me.  Maybe I'm fine without me.  Maybe I'm life here, undefined and undefinable.

Maybe that's easier than I think.

Time to take Mary for back-to-school errands.  Chameli says when we forget about me there is a noticing of love...

Indeed, this turns out to be the case.  The egoless flower and all of nature- including human beings- are the energy of great benevolence fluxing through form.  The child being prepared for burial and his caretakers...

Thank you for words from Chameli Ardagh available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Women-Extraordinary-Wisdom-Awakening/dp/1846940680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264527334&sr=8-1
And also here: http://www.youtube.com/user/NeverNotHere#p/u/3/SlaHtyyrZtk

Gratitude to Erik Refner for photo, and to the family of the child for allowing his burial preparation to be photographed. http://www.archive.worldpressphoto.org/search/layout/result/indeling/detailwpp/form/wpp/q/ishoofdafbeelding/true/trefwoord/year/2001

Gratitude for flower photo taken by Bahman Farzad


Tim Goulding said...

Just wonderful Colleen. So inspiring to us all to be as we are rather than who we think we should be. Beautifully described too.
Thank you thank you

tom sullivan said...

Hi Colleen, I'm curious as to how the "me" will help you do your errands.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Tim,

It's a joy to receive your comments.

With gratitude,

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Tom,

That's a good question. I guess I have the assumption that a "me" or ego is a mental construct that has a useful function, in the same way that a wrist watch has a useful function even though time does not exist.

There are glimpses that there truly is no "me"- and it is quite startling- the imagined burden is recognized as imaginary- and the weight disappears.

Then it's as if there is a re-congealing or falling back into the waking dream of thought- and "me" seems very real.

I will question whether a me or ego is really needed for the practical business of day to day life- maybe that is an unfounded assumption...Thanks for asking.

I definitely want to let go of that old notion that the ego is an enemy or obstacle to be overcome- that only strengthens the me-sense into a me-against-me mess. So there is a view of the me as a sort of practical social definition that doesn't have to be denied or vanquished in any way...

Diane said...

Loved this one, Colleen! I, too, wonder why the 'I' that is not here thinks it's a 'me' and I'm pulled back into the dream. Wondering and asking why is also a part of the dream. No escape, it seems, except now we know it's a dream. It doesn't go away, the good, the bad, and the ugly. What drama that exists in this dream! Would we really want it all to go away? No answers here.

Leslie said...

Welcome back Dear Colleen.
Thank you for the photo of this beautiful boy and the lotus…such a sweet peace and serenity emanate from that visage.
Yes…these words stir up the pot! “What a strait-jacket it is to have all these images of how I'm supposed to be, and then the secret internal-editor busily deleting all feelings that don't jive with the worshiped image of "how I'm supposed to be."
It's exhausting pretending to be someone I'm not.”
My question is…What do I DO with those thoughts? If I don’t delete them they are too painful. Your Light upon this would be greatly appreciated.

No One In Particular said...

So it's a dream. Go with it.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Diane,

The experience of being in a dream and believing it to be reality is very different from the experience of being in a dream and KNOWING that it is only a dream, not reality.

"Wondering and asking why is also a part of the dream. No escape, it seems, except now we it's a dream."
Yes! Freedom isn't "getting rid" of the dream of me, but SEEING that it is a dream...

Thank you so much for your comments Diane, I think they get to the heart of the matter. No answers here either- "answers" and beliefs are what the me is made of...

My heart goes out to the mother and other family members of the Afghan boy being prepared for burial. I would never belittle the pain of such loss as a dream...

What is real and what is dream? Tolle says the consciousness in which the dream occurs is real. I exist, yet the me is a dream...

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Leslie,

Thank you for the warm welcome back- I've missed blogging and I'm eager to catch up on reading my favorite blogs as well as putting up new posts.

Sometimes when I (meaning awareness) go right into the scariest thoughts and feelings that arise, something unplanned happens. It seems possible to be present with thoughts and feelings in a way that doesn't feed them.

On the other hand, evading painful thoughts and feelings does tend to energize them- they are energized with the fear that propels the evasion/denial/deletion.

The opposite of evading feelings/thoughts is indulging them- to wallow in them and spin endless tales about them.

There seems to be another way besides rejecting or clinging to painful internal stimuli.

That way is perhaps simple openness. And sometimes overlooking or disregarding the noise in the head in a way that isn't so much a "deleting" what is there, but having a benign indifference. "There goes the mind cranking out another imaginary problem- that's what the mind does- and I don't need to buy into it or give it a lot of heed."

There's a subtle but significant qualitative difference between repression/denial and an open, benign indifference to the drama-in-the-head.

I often get caught up in the old wars with painful internal experience, and then sometimes it just doesn't "hook" me...I imagine you have similar experiences of taking the dream very seriously, and then not taking it too seriously...

All love and good will to you Leslie,

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Suzanne,
Going with the dream- YES!

Leslie said...

Hi Colleen,
Thank you for that beautiful answer. Whatever is there (in your words) is way more than what appears as I was lifted several feet off the floor. From the depths of despair to happiness and peace. God...thank You.
Rupert Spira recently wrote, as eloquently as he does, on benign indifference.
"Sometimes when I (meaning awareness) go right into the scariest thoughts and feelings that arise, something unplanned happens." This is key. I have felt that before...looking -- just looking -- and even the scariest of thoughts morph into joy. A miracle. Accessing that choiceless Awareness from which to look isn't easy (or hard)...LOL...probably because I don't do it :O
As Diane says..."What drama that exists in this dream! Would we really want it all to go away?" As Ramana said..."Where would I go?!"
Truly all your support is keeping me from falling into some abyss...For this I am ever grateful. Ever grateful.

rose duncan said...

I know there's a you. And yet I understand your longing for there to be less of that. Less anxiety. Less pain. Less deliberation. More flow as we used to say back in the day. However I believe that the me is actually essential. And also incredible. It's all the static that whirs round it. We can't live life without pain, I wish we could. But the joy that comes in opposition is that much more keenly felt. Just one middle aged woman's opinion.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Leslie,

Awareness without fixation seems to be the open door that doesn't impede life. Of course fixation happens all the time in a knee-jerk kind of way, but the openness is still there at the same time, it just tends to go unnoticed. BTW I have loved seeing you around Facebook lately. I'm glad our interchange resonates with you- it is equally uplifting for me.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi,

I wonder how much semantics cause confusion. Sometimes I wonder if there is a kind of self-hatred or fear of life in me that gets drawn to these ideas of anatta/ no-self...There's always the risk of misunderstanding and misusing ancient wisdom as a kind of ultimate cop-out or evasion of life, and I think I've fallen into this trap at times.

Everything is unique, singular, distinct, unrepeatable- and in that sense every flower and every person and every object has individuality, has a "me." But all the appearances are transient and interconnected with everything else, and in that sense there is no separate, personal ego-self, except as a tale told by thought.

Maybe it's another case not of either/or, but of both/and, depending on perspective. So there is a me, and there is no-me.

I sense that who I think I am is only a kind of surface self and not who I am in essence.

Rushing out the door- haircuts for the kids. Thanks for your comments Naomi- and thanks for visiting.

MeANderi said...

Whether there's a me or not doesn't matter :) Just *be* who you are in any given moment with whatever life presents to you, like the flower. It just opens to life, The "me" is still "I"... The "I" is always here! Just live!

Much love to you - christine

Colleen Loehr said...

Excellent point Christine! Thank you very much.

Doreen said...

It takes some time for the slave to get used to feeling the freedom of movement, after the removal of the shackles

Colleen Loehr said...

Very true Doreen, I'm glad you point this out. We have been shackled by a lot of painful and unfounded beliefs, and moving without the shackle of the mind can be discombobulating.

DirectSpirit said...

I wonder if there are an infinite amount of "me?" The me which worries about how I respond to Colleen's posts, the me that's fretting about participating in the subud regional conference call in 10 minutes, and the me that felt guilty for not getting much work done yesterday? Maybe they're all "me" but the more energy "I" (which is different from "me") put into me, the more lost "I" get. I just do things: respond to posts, make a conference call, work. Me characterizes what I do in thought and thematizes it as good or bad.


Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Aliman,

I agree there is a difference between "I" and "me" (wow- the semantics can get as convoluted as our brains). Paul Hedderman has a great way of describing this. He says we give so much "juice" (i.e. energy, attention, consciousness) to all those "me" thoughts, that the "me"-thoughts can't really handle this excessive energy of consciousness being pumped in and- voila- what do you get? Neurosis! That rang true to me. The river of conscious attention is "grooved" by long conditioning to flow into all that me-me-me mind noise. But once you see that, there is a natural "un-hooking" of attention from the me-thoughts. And that is bliss. If you're interested to see the Hedderman satsang from 8/25/10, go to ustream.tv and search for "satsangspain". Thanks so much for your comments Aliman!


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