Over the last week, intermittently, I have had flashes of the immensity and singularity of the human experience. Yes, I know that there are nearly 7.5 billion individuals in the world, all separated by a singular experience, however, we are also joined , we are far more alike than we are different and we share many similar mental processes, daily activities, life cycles, environment cycles, day and night cycles , sleep and waking cycles, yearly cycles, and body/minds we don’t understand. Yes , that is 7.5 Billion people that share being alive and having to navigate their own Body/Minds on this mudball rocketing through space. A few riddles start to form, a dichotomy instantly appears, our experience of the world seems singularly our own, filled with sensory input and our own thoughts, and we have the experience of being alone in that experience, unable to experience what others are seeing, feeling, hearing and navigating in their own lives. People tend to forget that 7.5 Billion people are having very similar experiences, even if the details are different. That each has to navigate through this Body/Mind designed for a multitude of tasks while we are alive. Look around you. That person in the car in front of you, all of the people in the crowd at a football game, the people being born or dying in the hospital, each person dealing with navigating through life with only the gifts and deficits they were given or developed along the way.
It reminds me of the Farside by Gary Larson.
With these strange flashes of intuition, I was having a strange phrase go through my mind which makes no sense to me. Sun Face Buddha, Moon Face Buddha. It is from the 3rd Case study of the Blue Cliff Record. The Blue Cliff Record is a collection of Zen Koans. A collection of, I guess I could say exercises mental and physical, that are engaged in a non-linear way to yield insights. 23 years ago I played the 3rd case for a few weeks and until this morning I haven’t looked at it since. The process is one of doing specific Chi Gung, imagined in a specific place in the body, combined with thinking about the pointer, and imagining the case study, and engaging non-linear thought to see what can’t be said,what was in front of us all along. I must confess, I have not understood the riddle so I can’t speak to the intuitive process that yields the illumination. Though I understand that it was designed by people that could see/feel/intuit what we are most likely not to see in an effort that when played could lead to the insight it was designed to illuminate. I am reminded of the phrase that each step we take was built on the shoulders of someone that has traveled before us.
One of the names that I played with for this blog, was Explorations on a Contemplative Life, and How to Cultivate Being a Student of Life for the Rest of Your Life. It seemed a bit wordy. That being said, we all get to navigate our body/minds with all of our gifts and deficits. Yep, we all have them. Some things we get to learn quickly, some things take many years to unfold, some things will remain hidden. To live a contemplative life always starts with admitting to yourself that you know nothing and though the subjects of your contemplation are unknowable because they are so vast, you joyfully engage them and look towards the unknowable. We are as vast on the inside as we are on the outside. (yes, I know, the mystics say there is no inside and outside) The interesting thing that I have noticed, is that with good Kung Fu (time +experience) ideas, lessons, and concepts keep unfolding over time, and even things you thought you had a handle on open in new vistas that leave your jaw opened wide, and you are left saying to yourself. “Whoa, that is not what I thought it was!” In those moments, are little glimpses of the humanity all around you engaged in living life. This also comes with the understanding of the need for kindness within our shared humanity.
So look towards the unknowable, joyfully know that you do not understand, and keep looking, keep paying attention.