We could have chosen any parking place, but the choice of course was out of our hands. In the golden light of a late Sunday afternoon, we turned off the motor and together faced the obvious fact: above, below, and all around us, everything is spontaneously existing, and there is nothing anywhere that is outside of mind.
As this recognition was settling in, we noticed that, caught on the branch of a young oak tree, a streaming length of multicolored scarf was billowing out to share with us its secret of how to ride the wind. We immediately exclaimed together: “See!” Then we got out of the car and set the scarf free. It danced through the air across the parking lot and into the vastness of the oncoming night. May all beings be released from whatever hooks have snagged them!
Earlier, a paper airplane had been tossed from an open office window somewhere in downtown Manhattan. It sailed across the Hudson, soared swiftly over New Jersey, curved around the beltway of Washington D.C., cruised down the Mississippi, lifted higher on the air currents across the open prairie, then over the Colorado Rockies, circled Mt. Shasta, then breezed through a window in Paradise, while we were out and away for the day, admiring the sky and its clouds at play. Returning home we found it waiting for us on the living room floor. Curious, we opened it and read what turned out to be a verse from Ghalib:
“All that can be seen is nothing but a dream;
and even when we think ourselves awake,
we have only wakened in a dream.”
It seemed obvious enough, as Venus arrived to waltz with the new moon in its promenade through the oaks, firs, and pines. Nevertheless, by now we had heard enough about dreams, illusions, and fictional stories, and what difference does any of it really make — here we are, and we like it this way. Watched over by the Gracious Ones, generous in their blessings, we stand together holding hands in mudras of pure wonder.
Knowing that we exist without the slightest doubt or hesitation is our own perfect bliss. Likewise, realizing directly that we actually don’t is none other than our own perfect bliss. Hence, this way can be neither fabricated nor experienced, rendering it an excellent case in point of unspeakably perfect bliss. To clarify: the one who is here to break our hearts has brushed its lips upon our souls, and what remains is not a thing, not even a fading shadow blazed long ago on a crumbling wall.
For a current example, we like the way the light of day slips itself into the welcoming body of night with the confidence of someone who’s done it before. The bird songs are the most haunting then, and even the breezes slow to a stop, as the crack between two worlds opens up, and hosts of invisible beings ascend and descend, chanting their mantric hymns in a unison of celestial praise and angelic celebration.
There are times when love’s mounting flames leap higher into heaven, when the night spins off its dharma wheels in waves of joy ecstatic from the basement to the attic. At other times, let the record show, it may come as no special revelation — it’s just a matter of being reminded, and so the subject tonight was a word from Huang Po:
“To the great majority of people, the moon is the moon and the trees are the trees. The next stage (not really higher than the first) is to perceive that moon and trees are not at all what they seem to be, since all is the One Mind. When this stage is achieved, we have the concept of a vast uniformity in which all distinctions are void; and, to some adepts, this concept may come as an actual perception, as ‘real’ to them as the moon and the trees before. It is said that, when enlightenment really comes, the moon is again very much the moon and the trees exactly trees; but with a difference, for the enlightened are capable of perceiving both unity and multiplicity without the least contradiction between them.
The Mind is no mind of conceptual thought, and it is completely detached from form. There are those who, upon hearing this teaching, rid themselves of conceptual thought in a flash. But whether they transcend conceptual thought by a longer or shorter way, the result is a state of BEING: there is no practicing and no action of realizing. That there is nothing which can be attained is not idle talk; it is the truth.”
So true indeed, we both agreed. No one has ever gone anywhere, nothing has ever happened. There is nothing to be gained, yielded to, or grasped, nor is our own particular snap, crackle, and pop of any more consequence than the migratory patterns of the now extinct great-beaked birds of the Mezazoic. Still, we can feel — we can feel their heart-throbbing songs even as they echo and resound through distant uncharted galaxies, illumined by the perfectly magical bliss of waltzing paper airplanes, streaming multicolored scarves, and love beyond imagining!