This is a strange question to ask, but often it is the puzzling ones which need to be explored more deeply for answers.
I have spent more and more time in meditation, asking myself, or to the best of my abilities, the subconscious, the questions that matter?
What are you hiding?
What is in the darkness in your heart?
Can you learn to confront it?
And so much of the buddhist teachings that I have been exposed to in the past few years have extolled the ‘return’ to child and further still, the return to nothing. The consciousness we were before we knew we were ourselves. And that is a hard concept to grapple with. If I am not the sum of the things that have happened to me, who am I?
Naturally, the teachings have many answers, ranging from ‘consciousness’ to ‘everything and all things’ to ‘nature’ or even ‘nothingness’. And though each of these answers resonates on an intuitive level, it is hard to accept that the nothingness and unity are qualities we are born with and can access at any time. On top of that, we have so much conditioning. We have so much baggage from the life we live. The work we do, the people we must war and make peace with. The relationships that break down. The start over and collapse, the relocation, flight, settling, beginning, ending, breaking and fixing that we all go through. We are constantly in motion, and this is indeed a core principle of life itself and at the heart of the wheel that turns the universe, but until we acknowledge that the motion of the universe and the things that it has done to us, are still not ‘us’, we are trapped. We think to ourselves: ‘why is life so hard? why am I so exhausted? this wheel is never-ending, will I suffer until I am dead?’. It leaves a person with nothing but the absurdity and mundanity of repeated experience as a basis for their lives. And the dissolution that ensues is enough to drive anyone to madness.
We were hurt. By our parents who were supposed to love us. By our friends, who did not care about us. By our employers who did not value us. By our children who did not respect us. By our observers who wanted us to be what they wanted us to be. And we wrapped ourselves in a thousand bands of scar tissue, hardened and calloused against the world that did not appreciate us. We lost loved ones to misjustice. We were violated in our trust. We were used when we were vulnerable. Life is full of opportunity for violence and tragedy and the impact is to make us hate ourselves, to hate our scars because of what they represent. Each lashing a tailored violence against the body and mind.
But to return. To return to the child. To return to the wild. To return to nothing. These are our birth right, and our destiny. We may dip our toes into the lapping waters of the ever ebbing and flowing universal tides, if only we know how. And it takes a walk inside oneself, through the rugged terrain of life’s every day circumstance, through the caverns and caves where fictitious monsters lie created by a mind on fire with fear, and to go deeper still, into the rockpools and underwater tunnels, then into the vastness of open water where nothing is and no one goes. And in this place, you are drowning and breathing, living and dying, laughing and crying, catching and caught, finding and losing, holding and releasing, and it is indescribable and it is wordless, but is you and it is me and it is us. And from this place a great knowing floods in. That there is nothing to fear, that there is bliss in life and meaning in death, and heart and spirit move beyond the confines of circumstance, experience and body, and into this place where all is meaningful and empty and profound and wordless.
So, who were you before you were cut open? Before you bled for this life. Before the sacrifices, heartache and violence? Before the betrayal, misery, misunderstanding and displacement? Go inside. Find it. Ask the questions. Soothe your wounds in the blissful deep. And despite our fear of the ocean, of the indiscernible black liquid and the visceral undertow inside of us, no leviathans live there, only the bliss that a drowning man feels when he lets go, and the salt water fills his lungs.
Brine and ambrosia. So much the same.
A last breath is the first. The drowning man breathes again.