Two Inches Above the Ground
“Enlightenment is like everyday consciousness but two inches above the ground.”
D. T. Suzuki
I read an interesting guided meditation by one of my favorite writers, Paul Loughman, who also goes by the name desertcurmudgeon on the blog Two Voices In One Transmission (see link below). If ever there was a must-read blog—with topics ranging from the minuscule to the grandiose, the political to the spiritual (two most unrelated topics, in my opinion—unless you’re talking Right Wing Conservative Cristioinsanity—I’m definitely not referring to that here), this blog is it. It’s hard to describe the complexity of thought and at the same time utter common sense you will meet in his writings. So I offer the following—not so much as an example—but as a topic I found very important in my continuing quest to make sense of Zen. As brilliant and cosmos-shaking as his usual, it was originally posted on May 14, 2017:
Guess what? You have never touched anything. The human nervous system is akin to a power plant that provides electricity to a sprawling metropolis. Neurons in the brain and [Central Nervous System] communicate via electrical impulses creating a wave of pulses that act upon the senses and form a literal electromagnetic field around the body’s exterior. […] Since the interactions between the electromagnetic field and objects of the physical world result in tactile sensations, the nature of which depend on the pressure exerted by the object’s own invisible electrical skin, we go through life unaware of this powerful but infinitesimal barrier. Hence, we think that we are gripping a steering wheel, caressing our lover’s face, or petting our dog when, in fact, it is only our electromagnetism that is making contact. […]
An amazing insight. Molecules never touch! I knew that. But then again, I never gave it a second thought. That is, until Mr Loughman describes how this seemingly minor detail can change our viewpoint about who we are and how we fit into the scheme of Everything-Else. Paul continues:
A few years ago, I attended a Dharma retreat conducted by the brilliant Anam Thubten Rinpoche. I am going to share a simple but profoundly intimidating guided meditation from that event.
Have a seat. How you sit is unimportant; it could be the lotus position, cross-legged or in a chair; just keep an upright but comfortable posture. Close your eyes. Concentrate on every point of your body that is “touching” something else – your knees, feet, butt, hands — spend a few moments feeling each point of contact individually. Now envision in your mind all of the visual phenomena in your immediate environment. One by one, allow these things to fade from your mind’s eye until you are picturing only yourself, suspended in empty space but still grounded, feeling the supportive points of contact. As you did with the visual details, imagine each sensation of support slipping out from under you: the floor, the chair, and so on. Applying some real world physics to your imaginary journey, understand that you are no longer supported by anything. You are not suspended in empty space; you are falling, tumbling through it with no ground anywhere below you, nothing to grasp above you. Perhaps your gut registered panic as it would if you were to step off the edge of a tall building. Let that be. Allow yourself to feel panic arising from the sensation that you are in an infinite free-fall. If you have the stomach to remain in this mental space long enough, the panic will surely dissipate. At that point, you will have finally experienced for one fleeting instant existence in its truest, most basic and egoless form. It’s frightening, exhilarating and ultimately, it kicks open the door to Samadhi.
You are impermanent. Now is eternal. You are only this moment. You are eternal until your metamorphic nature causes that infinite you of the moment to evaporate, a process you can watch from your vantage point in never ending now-ness. Eternalism and nihilism annihilate each other like a snake eating its tail. When Mind detaches from body, it never thinks of perpetuation or the erection of defenses to that end. It has no safety hatch and would never desire one since its egoless nature has nothing to protect. Now you know what god feels like. Now god knows what you feel like. This was accomplished by the simple act of forgetting all of the illusory ideas that view “you” and “god” as a duality. Heaven is where you sit.
From the voice of Paul Loughman: Two Voices In One Transmission.