At the moment of conception, the intimate touch of Creation flashing through the yielding life of cell and tissue—Man appears, fully himself, fully present. He arises in a world of constant change, in which each new movement of thought, each new breath of his body, rushes silent as a wave through the reaches of the universe.
Body is visible cosmos.
Yet Man’s world is only partially visible. The unseen, which works in and around him, is the source of his body, as well as the feelings and impulses of his thought and mind. That which is unseen governs the events of life, powerfully and irresistibly; even in the solid forms with which Man identifies himself.
There is nothing that has a permanency of action or substance. All things are constantly being moved by unseen forces, changing and transforming in the rhythmic breathing of Creation.
Being is not permanency but change, the transformation of event by Love and meaning.
Life is not solid but Empty. Its very structures are filled with the Space of becoming, emerging and flowing within the forces that create them, forces that give them substance and sustain them. Man’s heart beats with the heartbeat of the universe. He has nothing he can truly call his alone, for he is the body of Body, and the mind of Mind.
This is the Teaching of nature. We have only to look to see.
Classical Medicine uses the language of these creative forces. They are referred to as Elements. These Elements, the great archetypal forces of Creation, are best understood as the principles through which all forms and events manifest themselves. They are not physical energies themselves, but the dynamic principles inherent in event and change which energies serve. In Sanskrit they are called the Mahabhutas, the “Supreme Principles”.
Maha, like Ta in Chinese, means “the Supreme”, “the Mighty”, and “the Abundant”. Bhuta means event, “that which truly occurs”. It comes from the phoneme bhu- which means “arising into being”.
The Mahabhutas are the Principles that make up the vast cosmic matter-energy systems of Creation. They are seen only in the qualities and actions of an event, for they are not things in themselves, are not observable to the senses, but are the invisible threads of origin upon which Creation weaves its Life.
The Mahabhutas are the great Archetypes. The Elements called Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
All phenomena contain all five of these Elements, though every phenomenon at any given time can manifest more of the qualities of one Element than another. In Classical Medicine, the correct assessment and evaluation of these Principles is the art of diagnosis.
The Element Space is Akasha. Akasha is the Principle of non-resistance and indetermination. It is the womb of Creation, the Void from which all phenomena arise. It is the Emptiness, the space within which all things live and have their being. It Allows. It is the Word of Creation echoing in the ear’s sense of hearing. It is the Word which holds all other words, the words of Man’s speech, bringing the mouth into the service of the heart, revealing the secrets of being and longing.
There are stirrings within Akasha, movements and motives—the Principle of energy. This is the Element of Air, the Mahabhuta Vaju, the Breath of all phenomena. Vajucomes from the root va—”to bestow life through the breath”. This is not only the breath of the lungs, but is the ‘breath’ of movement, the ground of all energy, the energy behind all transformation and change—the impulse of Life.
Vaju is the Wind moving across Man’s landscape, seen touching upon the waters and brushing through the trees. It is the strength of his limbs, and the charge of all his functions. It is the touch of skin on skin, the movement of the hand’s fingers to grasp the fleeting shape. It is the power behind motive, and the constant movement of the mind’s images. Man cannot see the wind, only its effect, but he can feel its surge, its waxing and waning. It is called Ta Ch’i in Chinese—the “Supreme Life-Giving Energy”, pneuma in Greek, Ka in Egyptian, and Prana Vaju in Sanskrit. It is the Prime Mover of all creative forces, the breath of the Heavens.
Vaju manifests itself through its mobility, its transparent clarity, and its lightness. It produces conditions that are cool, erratic, fragmenting and dispersing. Both chaos and order are manifestations of the presence of Vaju. Nothing can become anything without its movement. Vaju is the Principle within all movement, all motion.
The event of movement produces and releases energy, the Principle of warmth and light. This is the Element of Fire, called Tejas in Sanskrit. Tejas is a root word meaning “that which penetrates, that which pervades”.
It is the heart of the Sun, flashing within the landscape of body and mind. It is the living warmth, moist with the life that seeks it. It is the heat of fertility and the heartbeat of passion. It is the Light, the clarity of the eyes seeing. It is the mind’s vision, the heart’s Wisdom, the precision of the creative act. It is the Fire in which all things perish and rise again anew from its flames. Thought following upon thought, atoms binding, breaking and binding again, the transformation of form and growth within its cell—the will to be, the Light of Life. It is the Light of wisdom shining through Man’s Intelligence, and the wisdom locked in the life-knowledge of every cell.
Like Vaju, Tejas is known through its qualities of lightness and mobility, yet Fire penetrates and pervades all things with its qualities, bringing heat, the warmth of life, liquidity and unctuousness to the tissues of the body and mind.
This fiery Light of Creation condenses its fertility within the Element of Water that molds its heat into the myriad of phenomena. In Sanskrit, the Element of Water is Ap, the archetype of all waters. Its letter “A” is the first sacred sound, the first stirrings of Creation. This is hidden in Pa, that which “rules”, and “protects”. Ap carries the primordial energy of Creation into the necessity of all life, becomes the water that nourishes and protects, becomes the integrity of all form.
Water flows freely on the inner and outer surfaces of Man’s landscape, touching all things as it seeks within even the smallest of spaces, breaking down even the hardest resistance. It connects one thing to another through its soft touch, and binds the days of Creation into form and structure. It is the life-blood of the earth, and the moist breath of the heavens. Water is soothing and nourishing, carrying the subtle forces of nutrients into the processes of mind and body. It is the taste of all things. All that is alive is moist and wet, the fruitful verdancy, the greening Spring. It is held within the ovum and the semen, the waters of the womb, the surge of sea, and the vapor of clouds flowing in our tissues. It is the calm softness of mind feeling cared for and secure, it is hope and peace dwelling in the accents of love.
The Element Water makes soft and liquid the touch of Air and Fire. It is the refreshing coolness in the heat of all processes. It always seeks itself, bringing balance to phenomena and process. It brings together that which is dispersed, gathers the Elements, and binds life to form.
As Water condenses within its creative processes, it produces Earth.
Each Element has received of the fullness of the Element preceding it, and has given of itself to the next. Earth is therefore a receptacle for all other Elements, receiving the fruit of Creation’s every movement and every motive. It is the sign of Man’s Place, what Christian’s call the Kingdom of God.
The Element Earth is called Prithvi in Sanskrit. It means “the Great Extended One”, and comes from the root prith—”to extend”. The Element Earth is the extension of the creative forces of the cosmos into form and structure. Earth is the density of energy, the ground for all manifestation. It is the visibility of the invisible, the tissue of all phenomena. Earth allows Creation its greatest achievement—the form of being.
Man and his Earth arise as the child of form from the womb of Creation. It is the landscape of the senses, the world of the myriad things from which the senses build the sensual thought of mind and body. Man’s body is made of the clay of the Earth, which becomes the firm skeleton of limb and tissue. He has moved the life giving Water of sea and river into the firm channels of his veins, and given the Heaven’s Breath sanctuary in his lungs. The power of galactic energies he now carries in the soft compliant tissues of his organs as the fiery alchemy of metabolism. He moves and has his being in the limitless space of Creation. He is ADaM, the man of clay, the Image of the Divine.
Yet man finds himself to be a paradox.
He glimpses fragility within all his strengths, and hesitant shadow in his every purpose.
Fear lives hidden in the lands of his courage, and insecurity clouds his bounty.
He knows confusion and learns as often from pain as from joy.
His heart suffers from wounds and desires which reflect his fondest needs, and he hungers in the midst of his plenty.
Even in his most noble longings, in the success of his greatest achievements, man suffers.
Every man suffers.
Suffering seems to come from
Outside- a person, a
circumstance, a situation
which threatens our well-being,
our self-respect, or our body.
Our plans get thwarted,
our feelings hurt, our needs exposed.
If it would just go away. If they or that would just
be different. If I were stronger, more
attractive, or smarter. If I weren’t me.
Life becomes a strategy of
winning and surviving.
If I do this, then that will happen.
If I give this then I’ll get that.
It all seems to make sense, but
we’re just wandering in despair, from
one shallow victory to another, just
moving pain from one moment to the next, pursued
by something which follows us wherever
we go, appearing again and
again in a myriad
If I stop for a moment, become still
and listen, I realize that I’m the one
who is carrying this burden.
It is not out there, but in here.
I discover that it is Life that is seeking
me, calling to me from the midst of my unquiet.
I must discover that I am the living Life.
Fear is man’s encounter with Space, Akasha.
Man’s world, the world of his mind and of his bodily needs, his joys and security, surround him with a myriad of opportunities and situations, all of which he recognizes in the shapes of their visibility, recognizes as ‘this’ or ‘that’, or as possibilities and his demand for ‘action’.
It is his confrontation with Emptiness of Akasha, the loss of the distinctive contours in things, a glimpse of their invisible, infinite Space that causes him to fear.
Man knows intuitively and through
experience that he is not in control
of the Emptiness which shines its dark light
through the stratagies of the best laid
plans, lies awake in the deepest recesses of
his heart, and is the living impermanence
of the most tangible of forms.
He meets Space in every startling
moment when he looses his sense of
direction, or his feeling of being in control. It is
standing on a precipice and staring into the
abyss—nothing to grasp a hold of, no steps
to stand securely upon, nothing to cling to.
It is an anguish he knows well and
will avoid at any cost.
Man wills to determine his fate and
his surroundings, yet he meets the indeterminability
of Space with every step he takes.
He longs for security, yet the strategies
he uses to insure this, betray him,
leaving him anxious, needy, and wounded.
It is only when he embraces Space, leaps
into the unlimited abundance of his life,
that he begins to live without fear.
Only when he embraces
loss, that he finds he had nothing to lose.
Only when he can freely yield up
his most precious possessions,
even his life, does he realize
that he Lives.
Mahabhutas and the Mind
Akasha, Space, is the first Element of Creation. It precedes all of the other Elements, and is their basis, their origin, and foundation of their existence. Man’s mind as well as his body is a manifestation of the great archetypal principles expressed in the five Elements, the Mahabhutas. Man’s deepest experience, his deepest truth, is found within these vast regions of Reality, the immanence of the Divine. Here also, in his anguish and suffering, are the marks of this Divine Presence.
Nothing can ever be outside of reality. Everything is brought into being through an infinite web of causes; everything arises out of the necessity that conceived it. All the myriad of things bear with them the Principles of their being, and Akasha is their vessel.
Our encounter with Space is an encounter with what we call death. It is an encounter with Emptiness. Not dead-death, but Creation’s infinity, the Eternal Beginning.
In biological death, each Element, in the process of the organism’s dying, dissolves into the ground of Space, taking with it the elemental energies of mind and body that were its means of expression.
This process of dying, of experiencing the Emptiness of Space, is always present to us, always near—an ever present horizon in our landscape, a stillness in our movement, an eternity within time. It is present in every response, and glitters through all thought like reflections of sunlight on moving water. It is invisible to the psyche that is always busy with the apparent solidity of phenomena, and therefore goes unnoticed in the constant play of the senses.
The mind is conditioned by its relationship to things, to visibilities, to situations with which it can interact. It is used to experiencing itself as entity, as immutable form. The mind’s first conscious reaction to Space, the limitless vastness and freedom of the Divine landscape, is shock. It is the anguish of death, of disappearing into nothingness, of losing all that is known, all that is desired, forever.
The experience of Space is felt as a sense of a deep insecurity by the form creating images of the mind. It haunts the depths of the psyche as the fear of death, and emerges invisibly as the fear of life. Our initial reactions to this encounter are so painful, we quickly, and unknowingly, create compensations for this suffering we experience. We replace one feeling with another. Feelings of insecurity and fear are replaced by feelings of self-assertiveness, which strengthen our threatened territory and reestablish our integrity. These compensations are only further distortions of our responses to Space, and they affect us physically and mentally. Distorted responses are the manifestations of what Christians call Original Sin and the Buddhists and Hindus call Ignorance; affecting us both individually and collectively.
These responses, distorted as they may be, make up a good part of our emotional life and are important ‘defense’ and integration mechanisms that we must respect. They preserve us from the mental chaos that results from our encounter with things we cannot integrate. They save us from an abyss of emotional pain that results from lack of clarity and lack of insight into the nature of our being. They provide us with a motive to work from, a way out.
The mind, in its deepest wisdom, never does anything without the best of reasons. The problem is not the problem. The symptom is not the cause. The mind is making the best decision possible under the circumstances. Change the circumstance, and you change the mind.
The circumstance is Avidya, Ignorance. Ignorance is not a lack of knowledge; it is a lack of wisdom’s clarity. It is a fundamental denial of being, being alive, being who we are—the Image of the Divine. Though Wisdom resides in every consciousness and every heart, we often avoid listening and learning from it. Wisdom, unlike the intellect, embraces life fully in all its events and happenings with a trust and compassion that binds all things together in love. Here there is no need for strategies or manipulation, no need for the control mechanisms created by the intellect.
there is no
and fear cannot survive
it will change
through the pulse
of life-death into
its true nature
is dead to
that which is<
br /> alive is Life
nothing can ever
become that which it is
the seed always contains
within the Changing
in the blinking of
Earth is dense and solid; it is slow and heavy. Encountering Space in the Element Earth is the slow process out of which habits are formed. Slowly, over time, if we experience certain needs we have going unfulfilled, we encounter a nameless hollowness, a lack of earthy stability. We become ‘ungrounded,’ insecure, and fragile. This makes us also feel poor, unable to be what we think we should be, handicapped, and inferior. When we are feeling destitute, when we feel the hollow pain of insecurity, and the poverty of unworthiness, we know ourselves as impermanent, mortal in mind and body, as one destined to die, leaving not a trace in the paths of the world.
These feelings are too painful to live with for long, so we compensate for them by creating their opposites. We respond by holding tightly to the things we can acquire. We become willful and arrogant to cover the loss of worthiness. We become stubborn and miserly with the rare and rich gifts of our living, and instead, begin to bargain with life. We close ourselves to the fertile changes taking place within and around us. We lose faith and lose even the love that we must share in order to experience our lives as plentiful. Our world becomes fixed and rigid, solid against the incessant touch of life. We create our own earth. But this earth is only my earth, a cold earth, and has ceased to be the earth of abundance that we all share. It becomes my prison, and my hunger.
If we follow the path of this suffering into its depths, we find hidden within the Earth’s Space its reality, its resolution and it’s healing. We find its true nature, that which the Buddhists call Equalizing Wisdom. It reveals to us the wisdom of caring and nurturing, the expression of unity in love. It shows us that when our responses become caring and nurturing, then we are responding to the wisdom of Earth within us, and we gain a sense of wealth, fulfillment, and worthiness. We recognize that our worthiness lies in sharing the gifts of our body and mind, gifts that have taken form within the abundance of our earthiness. We experience the Mother of Earth, caring in the hearts of Her children. We experience the harmony, the relatedness of all things, the abundance of limitless Life.
Water is soft and fluid. It is our contact, our touching with all that is, our memory of the Waters of Creation from which all life arises. As we encounter the Space in Water we feel fear. It is the fear of contact, of feeling directly threatened by a situation or the immediate world around us. It is also the fear of not being real, of being destroyed, of losing ourselves forever. It is fear, naked, visible, and threatening, causing us to feel helpless and powerless. We lose contact with ourselves. Our vision becomes blind, searching for a path through this limitless emptiness of Space, and we feel ourselves wrapped in a cloudy weakness in which we lose our way.
This is so painful we quickly create an opposite response to relieve the suffering. We become angry and aggressive. We rise to destroy that which is threatening us. We sow the seeds of hatred and violence; we create an enemy. Anger is the dark light of our vision. It is not a justifiable protest against an aggressor, it is revenge. Its narrow beam defines the enemy and restores power to our feelings of weakness and helplessness through its sharp and cutting awareness. The violent clarity that is born in our actions replaces the fear that was threatening to paralyze us. We always justify our anger, calling upon fear as our witness as we tell others about the threat, often bringing them into the realm of fear as well.
Much of Man’s social life and its institutions are consciously or unconsciously motivated by fear. His politics become rationalized models of aggression. Even his concept of health is in reality motivated by the fear of disease, rather than trust in the ever present vision of wholeness. So too, his religious expressions are often fraught with feelings of guilt and self-righteous condemnation of others, all stemming from fear of his own worthiness.
In this darkness of fear, Man cannot see. It destroys his experience of love. The images we have created cannot last, but must dissolve in the clear wisdom of love and forgiveness. As we follow the pain of fear into its depths, we find the true nature of Water, that which is called Mirror Wisdom. As the still, clear pool reflects the trees and sky, reflects all that surrounds it, faithfully and without distortion, Mirror Wisdom reflects reality clearly. By looking into this mirror of reflected and silent Waters, I can see as I am seen. It is the Mirror that reflects things as they truly are, not as we imagine them to be. This is a Mirror in which error cannot be reflected and is dissolved in the pristine depths within us. It shows us who we truly are, and how we reflect all life, all being. This is the clarity of Spirit and the Spirit’s gift is Peace, the Divine fulfillment of Love. It allows me to embrace all within and around me, even those who would choose to be my enemies.
Fire is the bright flame of all transformation, all renewal. Originally, Fire had the status of a god in Hinduism, the god Agni. Here we see the Element Fire as AgniVishnu, an emanation of the Creator God Vishnu, in his role as the Renewer and great wisdom Teacher to the gods. When the Christian Bible was translated into Hindi, Agniwas chosen as the word for the Holy Spirit. Agni comes from the root ag-, the irresistible movement towards fulfillment. Here is the Element of Air, Vaju, the energy of the cosmos, and Ap, the fertile waters of Creation hidden in the Fire that transforms all things, making them new. Agni is also the manifestation of all digestive processes, which transform the nutrients of Earth and Water into the shape of our mind and body. It is the Spirit at work within us.
The event of nutrition in the living organism is not the food we eat, but the process by which the ingested nutrients become body and mind. We digest not only foodstuffs, but every impression that life makes on our being. Digestion is participation, a re-creation. We live by ‘digesting’ life and making it our own. Agni is the Fire and Light of Creation transforming the cosmos into Body and Consciousness.
The cells of our tissues grow and develop in the Fire of meta-bolism, the nutrition of substance and impression, working through the senses and building life within life. We are not what we eat, but what we transform, meta-bolize. What is ingested disappears, is totally destroyed in the irresistible heat of Agni. What appears again is transformed into living identity, an organism bearing life.
Although every molecule of iron or phosphor has the same form and structure within all things, living or non-living, it is not identical. Every atom of mind and body is impressed with identity and purpose, a living vision of Life itself. There are no separate ‘building blocks’ of the universe, no ‘parts’ with which all things are constructed to give them meaning. There is only the event of identity, flashing through the vast and Spirit-filling reaches of time and space.
Our initial reaction to Space in the Element of Fire is the feeling of desolation. It is the dull pain of loneliness, overtaking us in unguarded moments. It is the ache of separation, of feeling apart, an aloneness, a world untouched by relationships. We feel in it the cold breath of isolation, mirrored in the all too bright light of others’ achievements and joy. We do not have a place among the worthy purposes of the world. We feel left out, forgotten.
This pain would wound us deeply, so we create our own wealth. We become driven by possessiveness, to have the things others have. Our love becomes parasitic, and we jealously claim the right to our own uninhibited satisfaction. Blinded by the dark light of our need, our Fire consumes all around us, unaware of that which we turn into dust and ash in the process. We acquire our place and our strength not by receiving, but by taking. Our goals become compulsive, pushing relentlessly forward to acquire power, prestige, worthiness, and the material goods that proclaim our sense of belonging as others belong. We wish to become visible, to become something, to be something we secretly feel we are not.
As we follow the path of this suffering, the path of our separation and isolation, we find the Wisdom of Perception — Agni, the Light that fills the deepest night of our Consciousness. This Light, this Perception, is Compassion. Compassion is the highest expression of Spirit, the goal of every Wisdom, the Word spoken by every heart. It is the sign of the Divine Presence, and the fulfillment of Creation.
Compassion is not sympathy or understanding. It is being present, being present to the other. Being present unconditionally, sharing any burden. It is Love’s greatest expression. The word compassion is comprised of two roots, com which means with, and passion, the wellspring of our feelings, the wholeness of our love, our reason for being. Passion also means suffering, and here is its mystery. When anything suffers, we suffer. No man is a self-contained, autonomous unit of Creation. In the deepest sense, just as we are nurtured by life itself, all life, so we share in the joys and sorrows, the pain and the healing of all that is.
Compassion is imprinted in the very nature of Being, and is its most authentic expression of life. Our feelings of isolation, our aloneness, are murky distortions of Fire’s clear brightness, creating shadows in the living tissues of mind and body. These feelings of separation are only reflections, not the Light itself. Our path calls us to pass through our own desolation, where in this hidden Light of Life, our darkness turns into Compassion. It brings us through the bitter chalice of our own pain, and the pain others feel, gently admonishing us to extend our love, our life towards them. We become Co-Creators, Co-Redeemers, acquiescing to the gift of being fully human. The Fire consumes our shadows. It is the Light, the Light of Love, the Light of life.
The Element of Air is the sphere of our freedom, our limitless movement through the realms of the mind, and the landscapes of body and tissue. It is the unsuppressed flight of vision and the movement of desire through the horizons of feeling and touch. It is the vast territory of my livingness, the sense of being alive, the span of time and space moving invisibly within each cell. It is the Dance of Life, the rhythm of the Divine Heart pulsing within its Body, Creation. It is motive moving with vision, and mind seeking purpose. The Element of Air is the realm of movement working its effect on all that has being.
When we first encounter Space in the Element of Air, we experience the sharp edge of panic. This soon becomes a feeling of anguish and anxiety focused on the world around us, creating restless visions of duplicity and hidden strategies. We become nervous and insecure, surrounded by circumstances and events that seem to be threatening but have no name, remaining invisible like the touch of air itself. These anxious presentiments change forms like ghosts in a mist, seeming now one thing, now another. But as the one disappears we remain in anxious anticipation of the next. There is something wrong, something threatening that moves with wraith-like persistency through the pictures of our imaginings, ungraspable, filling the places that we move in.
It is not fear, for fear reveals itself as something direct, something tangible. Anxiety is found only in our projections, the dialogues we have with ourselves about ‘what if this,’ or ‘what if that’. We feel exposed to forces beyond our control, and to motives that we can’t discern. We are insecure, unsure as to how we might gain control again and move freely through the circumstances of our lives. We feel trapped, paralyzed, with no way out.
If we do not flee from these feelings of panic and anguish, we discover All-Accomplishing Wisdom. This is the freedom of movement flowing in the Element Air. We discover a spontaneity of action, a self-fulfilling accomplishment which resolves our anxiety in a moving flow of response which meets every situation in its round, revealing the limitless capacity which our natural freedom contains. We move through our constrictions gracefully, an inner dance with life as partner, flowing in the streams of circumstance. This is the reed that bends but is never broken, the flame that both blazes and flickers, but is never extinguished.
Freedom is the seal of the Divine imprinted on the soul of Man. It is his honor and a mark of his worthiness. Yet it is the hardest to apprehend, the most difficult to manifest, the most corruptible of his gifts. Like all other gifts that reflect the will of Creation, freedom is not the prerogative of the few, of the individual alone, but a sign of Man’s destiny, that which is shared, that which can only be insured through a perception that the Spirit within us is the same Spirit within all. It protects the integrity of each being, but only through its collective expression. The one who does not insist on the reality of freedom for each being from the greatest to the least, binds himself into the slavery of limited goals, and inhibits the limitless and fertile becoming of his own being. Freedom is the ground of Compassion, the ability to truly Be, the invitation to meaningfulness, the fulfillment of each moment, the fulfillment hidden in every movement. Freedom is not doing but being. It is the unresisting Space within which being exists.
The Element of Space is the container of our being. It is the field within which all events occur, and is the limitless call to life. It has no visibilities, no boundaries or form, only a silent Emptiness, penetrating the vast reaches of Creation. It is the Element from which all manifestations arise, and into which they all return. It is the mind’s image of Eternity.
The most difficult thing for man to know is that this fertile and living Emptiness, this Space of all time and space, is part of his being. It is the invisible place of every cell and of every thought, the origin of every movement. It is a mirror that contains nothing of its own, but reflects perfectly all which is held before it. Yet it is this very quality of No-thingness which is so provocative and disturbing for Man’s psyche.
When we confront the Element of Space, our reaction is one of total bewilderment. Here there is no threat, no fear nor anxiety, no enemy. Nothing to project with or against. Nothing to grasp. All of our known horizons have disappeared into the Space from which they arose, and we can see nothing, find nothing in the situation that shows us what to do. We are in awe, overwhelmed by a nameless and ever present Emptiness that we know as being close and real, enveloping us in a timeless moment, where everything seems to stand still.
This experience can be sharp and acute, but can also become chronic and habitual. Our mind identifies itself with the phenomena which it creates from within the Emptiness of Space. It cannot bear the deep and silent Emptiness itself, unless it is well prepared. Therefore, the mind compensates for this experience of bewilderment and awe, by becoming willfully ignorant. The mind shuts itself into a blindness to avoid having to gaze into the Emptiness of its being. It slowly closes the senses, not wanting to hear Silence, or to reach out for that, which cannot be touched. In its most acute form it is called shock, and can precipitate a complete loss of sensory consciousness. Habitually, it becomes introversion and depression, an unwillingness to participate in a life that has become too spacious, too overwhelming, too bewildering to understand. The mind does not comprehend what is happening to it, and has given up its search for meaning and the desire to participate.
When encountering Space, the mind must either retreat and move into the Element of Air to find its solutions, or follow Creation beyond its Element of Space. The Element of Air would cause panic, and therefore the mind chooses to go beyond Space—and the only step beyond the Element of Space is death. The mind willfully becomes less alive, sharing and participating less and less, mimicking the death process in its search for release from its bewilderment.
If we allow ourselves to ‘feel’ the limitless, timeless event of being, rather than ‘feeling’ feelings, rather than clinging to the forms wrought by the psyche, and allow ourselves to flow within the Emptiness of reality, we find the origin of our identity. This is the All Pervasive Wisdom, Absolute Wisdom, the Knowing of Life. It is the limitless field of Creation, the sphere of pure Consciousness that holds all things within itself. It makes no distinctions, yet is infinitely creative. It does not cling or resist, but glitters in pristine clarity through in realms of phenomena and form.
This is nothing we can attain, for it is always present to us. This all-pervasive wisdom flashes in the spaces between each of our thoughts, and is the womb of both motive and tissue. It is discernible to us only in ‘letting go’ and ‘letting be’. It is allowing our selves to be shaped by Creation, the moments and movements of our lives. It is that which lets us rest and act within the eternal becoming of our life—all life.
This is the Dharmadhatu, the Wisdom of Ultimate Truth as expressed in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Dhatu comes from the root dha-. Dha- is the womb of conception, both Creation and the Created, united in an endless act of fertility, the Eternal Beginning manifest in its myriad of forms. It is the becoming of all things. Dhatu is the word used to denote phenomena and the essence of the creative form. In this sense it is also a medical term denoting the tissues of the body and their metabolic processes. Dhatu is the manifestation of all earthiness, the body of body within which Creation expresses itself.
Dharma comes from an older form, Dhar-man, and its root dhar (which also reflects dha-) means “that which bears the world”, that which preserves reality. -man is the consciousness reflecting in man-as, the Mind. Dharma is therefore Reality, the Divine Decree carried within the perfect clarity of the One Consciousness that is all consciousness- our consciousness. It is that which measures out the universe, the Way and the Truth of all that arises from the womb of Creation, that which echoes in the silent and unrestricted chambers of the heart’s Knowing. Again we glimpse the Mind and Creation as one, the Unity that has no divisions, no parts, nor opposites. It is a fleeting, transient Reality, constantly becoming that which Is.
The painfulness of this experience initially is that the psyche wishes to be an observer, to stand outside and watch. It wants to establish its permanency and stability by standing still, separating itself from all other things so it can ‘feel’ itself as being independent and self-contained. It wants to experience limitations so that it can have visible points of reference for itself. This is not a true experience of identity but of loss, and brings with it the subtle anguish of separateness and loneliness that we encounter again and again in the midst of our living. Even our Western science is based on observation, standing back and beholding a fixed object to gain knowledge of its nature. But in reality, there is no real object-ness to hold still, no state of stillness within which anything can be held. There is only the Dharmadhatu, Mind Creation flowing, eternally One with the myriad forms of Being.
The Buddhists call this Sambhodhi, “the Clear Mind”, Enlightenment, seeing Reality as it is, being present without limits or definitions, a glimpse into the utter nature of being. The Christian mystics call it the Beatific Vision, Union with God. This Union is described as being reached through the “Dark Night of the Soul”, a darkness to the psyche’s separateness, yet filled with the Light of all light, the Mind discovering its vast unlimited identity within the Divine. It is the truth of identity, the living Image of God. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” It can be discovered but not attained. We must let go of our anguish, ‘die’ to our separation of Self from Other in order to discover this, our true identity.
Encountering the nurturing aspects of Space can be met in the disciplines of meditation or contemplative prayer, but we experience it often when we ‘daydream,’ when our psyche takes a pause, when it is no longer driven to formulate things and fashion strategies. During these times, the psyche becomes still and simply Is, seeing all things intimately, with no word or thought to come between itself and what it sees, with no strategy to cling to—resting in the fullness of just being, being present, awake, and living. It is found in these moments when the Mind flows freely into the boundless realms of consciousness, having nothing to do other than life itself. It is so ordinary, we don’t notice it for what it is; yet it is these moments that are truly filled with peace and renewal. Even happiness itself contains a tension, is not truly peaceful. Peace is not passive; it is Whole. It is experiencing the Whole of life at one time, and resting within it, as a newborn, born to effortless being. It is an experience so ordinary that we forget, and seek the illusive incentive of our emotions, the spectacular and unusual, as the most meaningful parts of our lives.
This resting in the Element of Space is not a passive non-active state of being in contrast to being active and motivated. This stillness is not the opposite of action; it is being active with precision and clarity. Just as dance is a precise movement which rests in it’s rhythms as it moves gracefully through its flowing time, here the mind is not occupied with this nor that, but it is resting completely in its wakefulness, each movement arising of itself from the irresistible flow of body and light.
Feelings are universal, always present. They ‘feel’ life and are responses to the flesh and blood of the cosmos, which are the Elements themselves. This is why Man finds these same things, these same feelings, not only in himself, but in all others. He finds them in the winds, the waters, earth and stars.
Feelings are present because the Elements are present. And Presence is their only meaning, their only fulfillment, their only reality. When we suffer we naturally attempt to escape, to flee from the presence of fear and isolation—only to discover that we are fleeing from ourselves. This increases our anxiety, the pitch of our suffering. We feel relentlessly pursued. But it is Life that is pursuing us. It is Life demanding our presence, our whole presence, and even in the midst of our flight. We must stop.
When we were children we were told to stop, look, and listen, at every street corner, so that we could cross safely through the traffic. When we stop, we allow ourselves the Space to rest, to look and listen to what is happening to us. It is being truly present, undistracted by the urge of our flight or the pressure of our projections and strategies.
As we become still, in this space of a moment, we become aware of what our thoughts and feelings are doing. We often discover that we are being swept along in a drama of our own making, a drama where heroes and victims play in the fleeting image of our feelings. One thought has created another, and another, until we are overwhelmed by their power, caught in the ever-flowing web of a psychic drama.
By becoming aware of thought, we are sensing with the mind, seeing how it works. We are inviting ourselves to become aware of its infinitely creative process, to discover its way of being. We can never analyze it, for analyzing is an activity of the mind itself, but we can follow its flow, follow its path made visible by the bright and colorful radiance of feeling.
We must learn to slow down. To think, speak, eat, and move in time with the rhythm of our own heart, the breath flowing in our lungs, the pulse of blood, and gracious movement of the limbs.
Our mind, in its desire to achieve, to protect its anxious strategies, impels us mercilessly through the yielding space of life. We no longer just have feelings—we are driven by them.
Feelings are the touch of life within us. They nurture us. Feelings are intimately connected to the senses, and our sensory system plays a fundamental role in all the functions of the mind and body. The senses are the means by which life works its creation within us. They receive all the impulses of nutrition, mentally, physically, and emotionally from the environment. Feelings are the touch of these nutritional events within us, the taste of life’s gifts, building and transforming our beings. We feel with the senses of the body. Our tissues feel with the mind with which they are one. As our mind moves through life, often distorting the senses and their feelings, we suffer. We forget. We forget what the mind truly Knows, forget to be life, instead of being driven to possess it. We need to come again into the circle of the Dance, to let its rhythm carry and fulfill us. We can never own Life, only embrace it.
Man’s greatest challenge is to discover this Absolute Wisdom in the midst of his living, the fact that he lives in his earthy substance, yet longs for the freedom of eternal affirmation. This paradox has caused man to either deny his bodily nature and seek the Heavens, or deny Heaven and live in the realm of the psyche and body struggling to create an eternity from the mortal and ending by only affirming death. Life becomes for him either a ‘vale of tears,’ an illusion, waiting to be released in fulfillment of the thereafter in a future Heaven, or ‘living for today’ by which he means that every thing which his psyche can’t create and fulfill of itself does not exist. It is Only when Man understands that Heaven is not ‘up there,’ is not in a distant future waiting for him, but is that which is Present, is Life within life, the Life within his own living, only then will he find his way in Peace.
I must discover that I am the living Life.
I am the healer who feels pain, the wound of life that heals.
Man’s greatest illusion is seeing himself as exclusively separate from all others. His identity, his true individuality is indivisible, in-dividuus—that which cannot be divided, cannot be made lesser or smaller. It is not a separateness, but a wholeness which is indivisible from the Divine Body of Creation.
Even my suffering is not something I exclusively create by myself, nothing that happens to me alone. My pain resonates with the echoes of all pain, the pain of others, the pain of the World. We are not alone. We are not a ‘part’ of Creation; we carry it within us. It is not something we have; it is something we are. We often forget the ultimate reality of Compassion. The brilliance and gentleness of the great Teachers and prophets, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Zu, Mohammed—were born of the pain which only Compassion can release. This is being present, an act of Love, the true sign of Life, the nature of reality. It has no exclusive boundaries, but is the actuality of all. Every wound, every healing is both the suffering and the healing of us all. Every act of love and reconciliation touches every limb of every body.
I can never become that which others are not. Regardless of my practice or beliefs, my own health and well-being will ultimately reflect the suffering or well-being of others. The process of healing and fulfillment in myself is not exclusive, is not separate. It is discovered in my reaching out to touch, to comfort others, affirming and loving my other-selves. This is ‘loving others as you love yourself’—the first and only reality of the Way, the Path, and the Light, the Word of all the prophets, the Wisdom of all teachers.
Man is the Victim of Life.
We work desperately through the vagaries
Of pain and joy to become something.
He plans, hopes, dreams, and move things
from one place to another.
He assures himself constantly that
He’s in control. Only to be
taken by surprise.
Nothing is ever what he really
expected. It’s always better or
worse. Even his machines,
the one thing he has created himself,
seem to mock its maker.
Cars don’t always start. Matches
don’t always strike. The world has a
will of its own.
He meets this with obstinate
determination—He will be the master, not
the servant. To make life obedient, and
Only to be taken
As each piece of his puzzle falls
into its place
there’s always one piece missing.
Or one that doesn’t fit. It never
Does. Never will.
As he gives up the role of master
Life begins to serve him.
And he’s taken by surprise.