I learned early to view certain emotions and thought streams -- anger, greed, vengeance, jealousy, sorrow, etc. -- as negative. I learned that negative emotions are bad and need to be changed. I learned that being "nice" is the ultimate goal. People will like you...you'll go further in the world...it's what God wants me to be.
There was a battle to be fought, over and over again. Happy and Contented and Peace-Loving faced Pissed Off and Sad and Vengeful with "Put up your dukes! You're going down! Get outta here!"
Sometimes victory came after a minor scuffle; sometimes the battle raged for hours. While the conflict played out, it was hard to focus on anything else; there was often a lot of noise in my head while the forces of good and evil floundered. It required a lot of energy and attention to bring about the change.
This morning, after a pleasant walk, my first encounter with another human being was challenging. For many months, this person has behaved as though he has a complaint with me. He has so far declined to reveal the specifics of the complaint though I have indicated a willingness to hear them on more than one occasion.
And then, of a sudden, I felt my consciousness detach from "him" and "me" and all the analysis and rationalization in my head. I floated out to an energy field that surrounded and permeated us and just hung out there for awhile, watching the whole scene. Divested. Detached. Observing with "no dog in that fight." There he was: saying what he was saying, his face wearing the expressions it wore, his body looking and moving the way it was looking and moving. There I was: thinking what I was thinking, saying what I was saying, my face wearing the expressions it wore...
None of it meant anything. There were no positives or negatives. It was just two bodies in motion, like leaves in the wind...like water in a stream, flowing free where it flowed free and impeded by boulders and logs here and there. None of it meant a thing.
And a stillness came over me. Spread through me. Something like contentment but with not even a trace of a smile. It was like pure presence. Pure being. Vital, boundless, timeless, meaningless.
I taught a piano lesson after the exchange. I felt rested and very present during the lesson. My student had practiced more than usual since our last meeting. She played well and integrated new concepts quickly. I praised her work and noticed, too, that I was detached from the praise. My commentary was neither positive nor negative; it was a statement of facts "Your timing was impeccable in that exercise," "Your execution of the two-note slurs was precise," etc.
|"Netherlandish Proverbs", oil on oak, 1559, Pieter Bruegel|
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.