by Stew Glick
There were a number of questions that came out of meetings yesterday. I was undecided about which question to look at, so maybe I’ll just start by reading them all. And just to say, too, that a question isn’t mine or yours. It may be that at this moment it doesn’t seem relevant, but maybe at another time it does; so, can there be an open wondering and looking, together? Looking together.
One question is, “How do I integrate the so-called spiritual life with my daily life?” Then later in a dialogue group, someone brought up the question of identification with the body. Someone else wondered, “Does this mean that the body is sort of cut off? That is how it was for me in the past, feeling cut off from the body, and it was a very painful place to be. So is that what is meant, or implied, by being unidentified with the body?” A third question was, “It’s not so difficult to be with nature, to be open to the birdsong, the rustling leaves, watching the little chipmunk”…(it’s amazing, watching that little chipmunk, it’s so quick when it moves and so utterly still when it’s not moving) …”So, to be with all of that, undividedly, no feeling of me and that, that can be touched or experienced. But when it comes to people, feelings of separation come up.” Is that something we can all relate to? Maybe we’ll start with that.
If we look honestly, what is our relationship with each other? Is it wanting something from the other? Wanting some kind of support? I don’t mean just materially, but inwardly. To support how I am, give reassurance that I’m okay? Do we want to be loved by the other? Appreciated, treated with respect? Do we want to be listened to and understood? Do we hold onto past hurts, memories of what you said, what you did to me? Do we carry that around, maybe in the background, but still sort of simmering there? Do we ever see each other freshly? In looking at this question of relationship and discovering the expectations and wants and hurts which we may carry around, does the thought come up that this me needs to be annihilated? Wiped out? Or does something happen when these inner movements are seen? Is the awaring enough? Honest awaring of what relationship is; not the word, but the actuality of how we are together.
We sometimes use the metaphor of people “pushing our buttons.” But it’s so amazing to see time and time again that what seems to rub us the wrong way in someone else, if one really looks, is something that can be seen right here in oneself. But actually that’s not so surprising, because there is no me separate from you! It’s all one human consciousness. Maybe varying degrees of particular tendencies or personality traits, depending upon different causes and conditionings in each of us, but these conditionings are shared—they are not mine or yours.
There is no owner. And there is freedom in seeing it that way, without this sense of identification. And to see the self-enclosure when there is identification with it all. So maybe it sounds simplistic to ask if we can bring some awareness to our relationships, to what we are thinking about each other, to how we talk or don’t talk with each other, and to how we may ignore each other at times. Bring some awareness, and then see what happens. Not in order to obtain a result, not that it’s bad or good. That’s already the “me” in there wanting something again. Can there be a watching without the watcher, which means no expectations of results, nor judgment about how I should be or how you should be, how I would like to be…but an awareness of how we actually are in this moment. It’s in this awaring that something new may emerge. If you want to put a word on it…compassion, understanding, love. That’s what we want from each other, isn’t it? To be loved? Can that be found right here, in oneself? Even saying those words sounds dualistic, so one tries to go easy with words. Because it is when the self is in abeyance, with its wants and needs and demands, that this love, this open being, this listening, is possible.
Maybe this relates to the initial question of how to bring together spiritual work and one’s daily life. It raises yet another question: “What is spiritual life, spiritual work and what is my daily life?” Isn’t this what has occurred throughout history, this division between spiritual work and one’s daily life? There are difficulties in relationship, maybe in one’s job; there is a feeling of being cut off, dissatisfied, a lack of meaning…and then we look to something else, something other than what we call daily life. And we call that religion, religious work. Or can it be said that, in bringing awareness to moment-to-moment living, this is religious work? By the word “religion,” meaning to bring together, make whole, that which was broken. Being completely with what is here, whether it’s washing out a bowl or raking the gravel; talking to a friend, eating a meal—together or alone. Daily life, but with an inner and outer transparency to what is actually going on, from moment to moment.
Another question that came up a few days ago—or a statement I should say—was, “this work is so simple, and yet so difficult.” Simple to just be here? Difficult to be here openly, vulnerably? Is that what’s difficult? Is the difficulty in defending and maintaining an image, in taking so seriously the thoughts about how I should be and how others should be? Such thoughts help to create this resistance, this dis-ease. So can awareness be brought to what seems difficult.
Going back to this questioning of identification with the body—is there something implied suggesting that we need to somehow disassociate from our bodies, thereby becoming out of touch with them? Actually with this work comes greater sensitivity to what is here in the body. Some more wisdom in caring for the whole organism. But one can also question further, if one is so inclined, and ask, “What do we call my body?” Sitting here right now in quiet stillness, there is breathing, the sound of wind rustling the leaves, some birdsong, there is the feel of the floor underfoot, sensations of arms dangling. If there is looking up, there are silent people sitting here, the distant hills and white sky,…where is the dividing line except in thought, between “my body” and “the world”?! Can it be said this whole universe is one’s body? Or simply put, one is all of that! Meaning no separation, and no owner. So is that care and kind attention restricted to this here [pointing to body]? To what thought calls “mine”? Or is there love emerging, for everyone and everything? Is that possible, at this instant of birdsong, cool and warm air? And not knowing what one is? Just listening, not-knowing, out of a deep silence—from which everything emerges. Touching—even if just for the moment, time doesn’t matter—that which is beyond body and “no-body,” self and other, and all the travails of this world.