On Being

If you can't say something nice...

The Full Moon presides silently over the night sky, exuding sacred presence wordlessly. She does not have anything to prove. She does not feel the need to be consistent in her argument. She does not cite her sources. She does not follow any policy. She does not rail or rant. She does not try too hard. She does not feel like she needs to be heard. She does not worry what anyone thinks.

The Dark Moon keeps her secrets. She does not whisper. She does not gossip. She will not argue. She does not feel the need to make herself clear. She does not comply. She is not steered by anyone's agenda. She does not fear invisibility. She does not cosign anything. She doesn't volunteer. She owes no one an explanation.

The Moon moves heaven and earth without ever saying a word, simply through the force of her quiet gravity. Her silence is voluminous, rich, thick, and dense. Her power is in her dynamic dance with the sun and the sky, full of smoldering glances and meaningful turnings-away, void of verbosity. Her greatest gift is found in contemplation. She sheds her light without ever speaking of her mysteries.

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things

Thus, constantly free of desire
One observes its wonders
Constantly filled with desire
One observes its manifestations

These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders

Listen more often to things than to beings...

Chasing the Invisible

How much time do you spend each day thinking about the past or the future? Do you find yourself ruminating upon past problems and reflecting on past joys wistfully? Do you find yourself worrying about what might happen, if you will be alone, if you will be ok in the future? These thoughts arise unbidden from the landscape of the mind and provide us with the majority of the narrative we pay attention to daily.

The past is tricky, because unless we spend at least some time reflecting on what has happened, we are unlikely to learn or retain valuable lessons. Yet, every one of us has experienced the ways that sad memories and depressing or regretful thoughts creep into our consciousness and drain our life force. If you find yourself rehashing old arguments and conversations, thinking about what you could have said in order to "win" the discussion or gain situational favor, then it is likely that you are not getting the best possible lesson from your reflective time. If you do not have reflective time in your life deliberately set aside, it's even more important to pay attention to how rumination crashes into your daily life with a painful force, threatening your ability to be present.

The future is also tricky. Though you might consult oracles, make plans, coordinate schedules, save money, and create certain conditions in your life, you cannot ever really be sure of what will happen. All it takes is one single instant for everything to shift, for plans to fall away, for the whole fabric of life to change shape. In light of this, you must not get too attached to your mental fabrications of the future. Yet, you still must plan, because if you do not acknowledge that winter is just around the corner, and if you fail to store food sensibly, you will starve. Without any plans at all, the future is chaos. This is why it's important to pay attention to things like social security, the rising sea level, and health care contingencies. If you do not set aside the time to pay attention to these things, they, too, burst unbidden into your mind at the most unlikely and inconvenient times, like when you are just getting ready to sleep, or celebrate a birthday. And what good can you do about them then?

Without proper deliberate attention to reflection and planning, without the time put aside to attend to these things, they begin to dominate your life, swinging like a wrecking ball and derailing your intimate relationship with the Here and Now. Think about how much of your day you spend chasing the invisible: ruminating, rehashing, planning, and dreaming about what may come. It adds up. How much time? An hour? 6? More? How much of your day is spent in a time and place other than here and now? 

When you find yourself chasing the invisible, yet again, don't judge yourself too harshly. Just notice how your human, animal self is seeking a comfort that it will not find in the past or future, and turn your attention instead to the wonder of Here, Now. It is possible that you will find everything you might be trying to fabricate if you do this.

Your Sacred Wild Self

Do you know who you are apart from the opinions of others? Do you know who you are without the labels you apply to yourself or your process of identity in the public sphere? Do you know who you are without your accomplishments and mistakes? Do you know who you are without your pain?

Right now, before you automatically begin to argue that these things are all ways of knowing yourself, before you begin to defensively reach for security in your list of labels or identity markers, before you react with fear to empty presence, try instead to just play pretend: in your mind's eye, strip off all appearances and become a vast swirling cloud of nothingness. Just try it for one minute, knowing you can always come back.

"I am not my name. I am not my appearance. I am not my preferences. I am not my gender. I am not my religion. I am not my social media persona. I am not my job. I am not my relationships. I am not my problems. I am not my...."

Who or what are you when you are not made of things? Who or what are you when no one is looking? Who or what are you when you are not reporting to anyone, judged by anyone, approved or legitimized by anyone, or compared to anyone?

You are, now and always, nothing more or less than a sacred wild self. You are something beyond language. beyond identity, beyond appearances, beyond pleasure and pain. Your name, your labels, your appearance, and your experiences may serve to describe you, but they are not YOU. 

YOU are a very smart animal that wears clothes and labels, but that also hears the call to return to a less contrived and more natural state in which labels, clothes, words, identities, and ego all disappear, replaced by the naked song of your heart. Your sacred wild self clings to the naked song of your heart, the music that only it can hear, even when every other sense and sensibility seems to drop away in times of grief, pain, death.

Your sacred wild self is inconvenient at board meetings. She is a mess at cocktail parties. She gets in trouble on the Internet for having strong opinions and fighting with people. She does not behave herself in church, or in line at the DMV. Your sacred wild self gets you into some problematic situations and warns you against others (whether you listen or not). Your sacred wild self bows to no one. She is more likely to sniff at the hand of a stranger warily than offer hospitality. So often, because she is not socially acceptable, you ignore her or try to keep her quiet, or put her on a leash, or chain her out in the yard when company comes over.

But your sacred wild self is also the most raw, authentic part of you, who is there for you at some of the most extreme moments of your life. She kicks free from negative situations, she gnaws through societal shackles, she growls at those who would cause you harm or hardship, and she sings you to your death with her wyrd, haunting, discordant song.

For everything else you might wear, do, or say, your sacred wild self is who you are when life strips all of those things away. She deserves your respect. She deserves your caution. And she deserves to be nourished by appropriate activities. She loves to be in nature. She loves good food. She loves sex. She loves sleep. She loves nudity. She loves getting her ears scratched. And when she doesn't get these things, she gets irritable, gruff, and bitey.

When was the last time you nourished your sacred, wild self? If it's been a while, how might you nourish her today?