Category Archives: simple pleasures

the unknown – take two

marsh path 1 smallerWhat is it that humans fear the most? Most people are apprehensive about the unknown of death, the unknown of their body not existing any more. On top of that is the fear of being forgotten—and that doesn’t take very long. For most of us, not famous, it takes just a couple of generations. This fear of not being is mirrored every time we experience deep quiet. I know people in my circle of friends who always have their television on. Another friend told me that her father would beat her if she turned off the television in the early morning hours of the morning. He wanted it on all the time, no exceptions. Sound, as company. Sound, to ward off the inevitable.

Fear also haunts people when their minds fall quiet. My friend Susan pointed out to me that the space between thoughts is terrifying to many people, again because it approximates death. It is in that very space that life actually lives—and we try to shut it out.

When I went on a ten-day solitary, silent retreat, most people I spoke to said that they could never undertake a retreat like that. The very thought of it petrifies them. I didn’t know how it would affect me—I wondered if I would find my own company uncomfortable—only to discover the delicious, vibrant emptiness that is available when we set down all daily activity and plunge into the unknown. It can make us hunger for more.

The easiest way to approach this empty, alive unknown is to follow a thought back to its root. When we discover there is no root, in fact, nothing there at all, there is at least a split second where we experience the absence of anything—and then we can return to the safety of the known world.

Ha! As though it is safe here!

I’ve become cordial with and curious about the void-that-is-not-void—the delectable, vibrant nothing-that-is-everything. It’s the very source, and it’s right here, right now, always.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013

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sensation as an anchor

anchorSometimes we feel less present than other times. In actuality, this cannot be true–but the separate self believes it to be so. Paying attention to sensation can be helpful, because sensations only occur now, in the present. As soon as you focus on the current sensation, you are instantly here!

This works very well when I discover that I’m anxious or afraid. Instead of focusing on the label, I notice sensations in the body; sometimes I choose a different sensation from the obvious one. Even while anxious, there are sensations in my feet or fingertips, for example. Simply noticing the feet or fingertips–and taking attention away from the central sensation I labelled anxiety or fear–can break the pattern free.

More often, I dive right into the discomfort. When it isn’t labelled, simplicity abounds. A simple sensation. A wonderful anchor.

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what do we know other than knowing?

knowing1

What do we know, except knowing itself?

I stare at words forming on the screen–actually, they form more intimately than that. They form right here.

An airplane is rumbling overhead–except in my direct experience, the sound is occurring right here.

I feel my butt settled deeply in my ergonomic desk chair (I’m working very hard on correct posture), but the sensations of that contact actually have no margins–no place that butt stops and chair begins–and furthermore, the sensations are felt right here.

I still taste cashew in my mouth; however, in my direct experience, that tasting happens right here.

This morning I brewed fresh coffee–I remember the smell. I remember that smell now, and it’s right here.

All of it, closer than close.
And when I break all of these perceptions and sensations down, all that I have left is the knowing of them.

That’s what we know. Knowing.

That’s all we know.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: Entertainment Wallpaper

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universe

barred spiral galaxyLast night as I sat in the hot tub, steam rose, hitting the frigid air. Stars–some in familiar patterns–dotted the moonless sky.

I mused about the immensity of the universe, and then thought turned to look at the word “universe” itself. Uni-verse.

One song!

Who named this vast, outrageous display, and got it so right?

I soaked and smiled, soaked and smiled.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo: barred spiral galaxy from NASA archives

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the natural state

zoeyandzephyrThe natural state:
remain just as you are…

Knowingly.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013

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Welcoming

snowy willowToday, I am not feeling particularly well. I’ve been bone cold for two or three days–cold from the inside. I don’t have my usual energy; I only worked out on the elliptical for ten minutes yesterday.

I’m not going to exercise today–other than the ten-minute walk that my husband and I took with our dog, Emma.

All there is, is to welcome this–whatever this is. I could come up with a story that I’m under the weather because I radically changed my diet three days ago, and I’m surely detoxing. But I have no idea if that is true or not, and it doesn’t matter. I welcome what is, and be kind to the body, snuggle it down early to bed under the warm comforter.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: Panhala poetry

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silence

missing supernova companionSilence. What is it? We speak of it as though we know or understand silence. But when I think about it, I am never without sound. Even when the external world is quiet, nighttime, no cars, no people talking, no birds, or perhaps out in the high desert—there are still the sounds of the body—the thudding heart, a slight ringing in the ears, the breath in and out. And yet we talk about, and seek after, silence. So what is it that we really mean?

In 2009, when I read the words of Dorothy Hunt, they stunned me: “Silence is not freedom from sound; silence is not freedom from thought, silence is freedom from some other moment.” I sat with that for a long time. When I am truly free of some other moment, the mind is not grabbing at the past or the future. Thoughts still happen—they may even run like a noisy train in the background—but disinterested, the mind comes present. And that is what Dorothy is pointing to.

Silence, redefined: it is not quiet we have been seeking after all! A closer description is stillness—but not lack of movement, that is far too limited—rather, that which does not change. Seeking quiet is only a substitute for the stillness, the steady nowness, the eternal immovability of the present moment. When I notice that, the need for quiet dissolves.

I had been pointing to the circumstances outside—as though they were separate from me—only to be brought to oneness again. That eternal immovability is always, always, here—“closer than your jugular vein,” the old Sufi saying goes. Always here, it cannot be sought. It can only be noticed. Not even that: noticing implies a separate one who notices. It can only be lived.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2012
photo credit: NASA

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the heart of the matter 2012 in review

Hilton Head, SC fireworks largeThe heart of the matter received 4,700 views in 2012. People from sixty-two countries visited–most from the United States, England, and Canada. I wrote 105 new posts.

Deep gratitude to all who contacted me, commented, or responded in one way or another. Hearing from you inspires me to write. May your lives be filled with kindness, with unlearning, with compassion toward others, with health.

Love, Amrita
thanks to Hilton Head, SC for the photo of your fireworks

 

 

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our reliable home

That which is unnameable, unfindable, indivisible, and unchangeable radiates through us and as us. If you pause for a moment and look inward, you will know that this is true through your own direct experience. Body-mind-world objects, while made of this-that-is-unnameable (whether human, pelican, thought, sensation, planet, or perception) come and go–they are not a reliable home.

Can you find that-which-doesn’t-change? The reliable home? Look now. It is closer than your heartbeat. It is closer than your breath. Closer-than-close. It is available to each one of us, always. Even when I’m caught, or depressed, or sad, or ecstatic, the reliable home underpins all. Don’t believe stories–even from authority figures–that it is difficult, or only for those who meditate for fifty years.

Look now.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2012
photo credit: Jeffrey Foltice

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no ground

We do not get to rest anywhere other than in this every-moment-unknown. Nothing is known, and that terrifies almost all of us. Life is free fall, and always has been.

We plan, make lists, hope, pray, fuss, worry, obsess… and none of that changes the truth: there is never a moment when we know anything.

I spend a fair amount of time each day reminding myself of this. I know nothing, ever. All the anxiety that I’ve carried decade after decade–quite the five-mile-long bag–is fear of life itself, of surrendering to its ever-present unfolding. When did I shoulder this load? It doesn’t matter.

I was the little duck, pondering, hesitating, denying, its essential nature.

Let ‘er fly, girl.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2012
I do not know the source of this photo. Whoever took it, thank you!

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