By Liwa Nim (John Pendall)
We are never isolated, even if we’re all alone.
Each instant we are acting amidst other actors. As I sit listening to frog songs and taking a drink of root beer, I am drinking with the frog songs. There is no separation between the two—both events are sharing the same moment. As I sit, I’m sitting with starlight.
When we let go of our labels, categories and schemas, we can see things as they are.
Most of the time we hear rather than listen, we look rather than see. This is all due to living in our heads.
I’m not conscious of the frogs songs if I conceptualize them. I’m not conscious of them if I focus on arbitrary labels and wander in thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow; I’m only conscious of my perception of the frogs songs. I’m placing a veil between myself and the present moment—a barrier between myself and reality. Then I cling to fixed ideas about things and this causes all of the suffering and dissatisfaction that I have ever felt in life.
Yet if we can sit and just listen, if we can eat and just taste, if we can look and just see, then the veil parts. Life is nakedly revealed as a dynamic and luminous tide of profoundly intimate experiences.
All sounds reveal themselves to be music. All sights are painted canvases too vivid to be confined to even the most prestigious galleries. The air is permeated by rare perfumes and each touch and flavor, a rich all encompassing wave of electricity. Throughout it all, attention romps and plays without boundaries, flowing from one delight to the next, to all at once, to none at all.
We can even attend to our attention and feel it move like a spotlight illuminating the surroundings.
This is not something entitled to contemplatives, mystics, shamans or sages. This is just ordinary life, and it’s available to us all. It cannot be taught, it can only be learned.
It cannot be found in the words of ancient Masters. It cannot be institutionalized and transmitted down through dogmatic hierarchies. It cannot be laid out as a linear map from A to B.
All it takes is letting go and attending to this moment. There is no deeper meaning or hidden door. How one lets go and attends, depends on the individual.
For me, it’s as simple as sitting outside with the frogs and the starlit night while just listening, just seeing, just attending to the events unfolding in this moment. The moment is always, so there is always the opportunity to attend to it and sail across the sea of suffering.
This moment is our home, and no matter where we go or what we think, it always just the moment.
Liwa Nim (John Pendall) lives in rural Illinois between two cornfields. He is a psychology undergraduate and a Wayfarer in the Order of the Boundless Way (part of the Boundless Mind Zen school). He writes poems, short stories and makes progressive rock music. He loves philosophy, astronomy and a 50/50 mixture of unsweetened green/black tea. He hopes to make a living in the mental health field with a focus on preventing mental illnesses from developing.
Editor: Dana Gornall