31 October 2007

Trick or Treat

Some time recently I read a piece of wisdom writing but I can't remember where I read it or exactly what it said. A snatch of the teaching, mostly a sense of it or perhaps a word or two, is all that remains in memory. As sometimes happens, I've been reading from lots of different books and magazines and newspapers--as well as blogs and other internet writing--all at the same time, for several weeks.

Now I can't exactly remember what I read; nor can I completely forget what I read.

The furry memory of it feels Buddhist. And very old; perhaps ancient. It may have been a poem. The theme was...desire...or maybe it was attachment.

Something about a quality of detachment or contentment that makes an enemy no more or less cherished than a lover.

Several times a day now the sense of the text comes to me, floats into the center of my field of attention. I stop what I am doing and stare into space and frown just a little--with frustration because I want to read it again but I don't remember where I read it; and also because I am unsettled with the idea and what it seems to mean.

I am not resistant to the idea but it is provocative. It's not like the concept of "unconditional
love", which was understandable, incontrovertible and appealing from the first time I encountered it. My mind wants to play with the current, haunting concept: to consider it, question it, hold it up to the light, cup my hands around it and see if it glows in the dark.

Wherever I read it, I understood the teaching to advocate a kind of meditative neutrality.

I placed the incompletely-glimpsed concept in dialogue with a recent Andrew Cohen Quote of the Week entitled "The Evolution of We" which opens

The evolution of consciousness and culture is not about the individual. It's not the evolution of you, it's the evolution of we—the evolution of the consciousness that's being shared in the collective or intersubjective “we” space between individuals.
(It's a long quote. You can find the full text here if you like.)

Last night, unable to sleep, while I tried to wrap my mind around holding friends and enemies
with the same regard and, by extension, viewing the potential for collaborative evolution of human consciousness as equals since the intersubjective "we" space between me and any Other -- enemy or friend -- would, of course, also be undifferentiated...

Two things happened: One, I received a long, angry, email rant from my adult son; and Two, I discovered a blog authored by some disgruntled former students of Andrew Cohen and a
critical biography of Cohen. Two explosions in the middle of the night.

(I finally fell asleep around 7 a.m. and slept fitfully for two hours. I'm hoping for some sleep tonight.)

Sleep deprivation makes it impossible to discuss fully last night's mental and emotional journey; but I'll say this much:

Due to the presence of the haunting concept, I'd spent the last few days experimenting with finding flat level ground from which to deal impartially with all people. The exercise saved my life today. I don't know if I could have survived reading my son's missive otherwise. If I'd had to receive the hit from the high place or the close place where I emotionally hold him. With everything else that's happened recently, I would have been devastated.

The Web writing pulled Andrew Cohen down to level ground from the lofty place he'd occupied in my thinking.That was a relief because though I've never met the man, I've read some of his writing and attended a sort of intro to Evolutionary Enlightenment talking circle in SF a few years ago led by some of his students.

I'd found some good stuff in his writing but being in the same space with his students was downright creepy. I couldn't explain the strangeness definitively but the dim lighting, the way the hosts all spoke at the same volume in the same pitch, the humongous screen at the front of the tiny room, suspended at a height that forced you to look up, running looped video clips of Andrew while the audience arrived, all the chairs facing the screen... and out of the seventy or so folks who showed up that night, I was the only person of color in the room and one of perhaps five people who looked like they had to work for a living...yeah, all that had something to do with it.

Anyway, this concept, indistinct as it must be for now, has been quietly floating around in my subconscious like a ghost in the machine for days. There's a fetching perfection about it finally howling through to consciousness on Halloween.

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