May 23, 2006

Aware of the Sacred

"Here life goes on, even and monotonous on the surface, full of lightning, of summits and of despair, in its depths. We have now arrived at a stage in life so rich in new perceptions that cannot be transmitted to those at another stage - one feels at the same time full of so much gentleness and so much despair - the enigma of this life grows, grows, drowns one and crushes one, then all of a sudden in a supreme moment of light one becomes aware of the sacred."

- May Sarton Journal of a Solitude
Portrait by Polly Thayer

I was touched by this quote, and considered it most of the afternoon.

It would seem that in May Sarton's experience, she was pushed through the doors “without the use of her hands,” as you like to say. However, this truth that May Sarton found, this supreme moment of light, was undoubtedly always present. This realization could be more like a turning, an inward turning to bring the sacred into sharper focus. Nothing new or different, just a crystal clear view of what is right in front of us all the time. All the experiences of our lives, the monotony, the lightening, the summits and despair are lively and rich in their textures, but they are what is coming and going, coming and going, not what is unchanging and eternally present. This element that Sarton notes as sacred, this is always present. She opens her eyes, and for the first time, she sees what has been there all along. Sarton peers through her own persona. And there, in that light, is pure freshness, an awareness that is beyond her individual ideas or experience.

After sharing this with my teacher, my teacher replied, "You were present to the May Sarton quote. You went beyond the experience described by May, beyond her own particular path and passage; you did not get hung up on the form or process that is unique to her, or to any individual for that matter. May Sarton "peers through her own persona." Every individual tends to describe their realization through their own persona, personality, emotional registration. The expression of their realization will be unique as it shines though this persona, body, mind and emotion. There is a "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" trap there, comparing your own experience of realization to someone else's. This is the mind seeking validation for some conceptual understanding of the experience of awakening. You do not fall into this trap. Instead you recognize that this Presence, the sacred source, "what is unchanging and eternally present" is realized from an infinite number of approaches. The ultimate peak is one, the paths to it are many and varied. You get that standing on the peak the view is the same, oneness, whole, the "sacred, this is always present." Yet it is described differently from culture to culture, poet-to-poet, and person-to-person. Even with this tremendous diversity, it is easy, looking freshly, to see the common thread.

Existence, God is very generous and open, and allows access to realization from any door. When the eyes are purified, when the eyes of conditioning are purified, one looks with the eyes of the Unconditioned, realizes that one is looking with the very eyes of God as Meister Eckhart said:

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

1 comment:

Darius said...

What makes both of these quotes matter, to me, is that they work a bit like poetry so that you experience a glimmer of what the writer is trying to talk about.

Another form of language that I think can work, for purposes of discussion, is expository language that tries hard to keep interpretation to a minimum - that tries to talk about the quality of the actual experience.

And the most misleading way, imo, of discussing these experiences is in theological terms that incorporate beliefs that don't come out of the experience itself. Taking that approach makes it impossible to discuss deeper levels of inwardness and personal connection to life or existence or God itself, with, for example, atheists - who surely live at this level too.