Today’s randomly-chosen word is be and comes from The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard & Trinh Xuan Thuan. It’s a fascinating exploration of the intersection of Western science and Buddhist philosophy. I cannot more highly recommend this book. Turns out, I’m in good company:
The Quantum and the Lotus is the rich and inspiring result of a deeply interesting dialogue between Western science and Buddhist philosophy. This remarkable book will contribute greatly to a better understanding of the true nature of our world and the way we live our lives. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Conversations on the nature of life and what it means to be–to exist–are keenly interesting to me. I personally often find that the world around me shifts somewhat dramatically depending on what I’m focusing on which enhances studies of this type. The Bricolage Project, with its ephemeral nature, has led me to a greater awareness of my state of being on any given day. Not surprisingly, when I was out with my friend the other night, he began telling me about his meditation practice, Vipassana. The word means to “see things as they really are” and the practice is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. My friend recounted his time of going on a ten-day silent meditation retreat at a local meditation center and told me I would “rock Vipassana” because I have a way of seeing and experiencing things as they are that seems to align with the practice. As he described spending several days focusing on his nose and upper lip, I found myself thinking of my upper lip and how I love it kissed or sucked on. Then I looked at my friend’s lip and noticed that he has a kind of beard/soul patch thing but not a mustache. Then I would switch back to just being aware of the surface area of the lip and noticing my awareness there rather than a vision of it in mind.
Then I took a sip of my Manhattan.
Here’s the thing: I am a very embodied creature. I like sex. I am lusty. I love the smell of dirt. I’ve had two babies. I am a creature of the earth. Yes, I am certainly the awareness that is poured into this form but they are one, not separate. I find many spiritual traditions problematic in their rejection of the immanent aspect of life in favor of the transcendent. To be is to live the embodied life, to feel, to play, to express, not just to notice. I learned that as a new mother trying to learn how to meditate and walk a spiritual path as a householder. I was a nursing mother who had to tend to my baby’s needs. Such is the way of living the embodied life. Even now, taking ten days off to go on a retreat is not something I can do as a single mother. My child needs me to be here caring for her. Motherhood taught me a lot about surrender. To be is to surrender to the flow of the river of life. It’s uncontainable and will pull you under and have its way with you. As Laozi says:
Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.
I once took a Jungian class called The Divine Feminine. One of the readings, The Unknown She: Eight Faces of the Emerging Consciousness, penned by our professor, Hilary Hart, is a book of interviews with various modern-day mystics including a woman named Jackie who she quotes as saying:
Listening is an essential aspect of the feminine. It refers to a dynamic receptivity to the life going on around us, an awareness of our own interconnectedness, and our responsibility to be open to what comes to us.
Feeling into, being with, listening in to the whispers of the world and not trying to make sense of it as much as just allowing it to unfold and flow–that’s what that kind of listening means to me. Ms. Hart bluntly told me, “It isn’t your job to save the world. It’s your job to be the power you are in the world.”
I think I’m finally getting a sense of what that means, of what it means to be. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.