Here’s my final Challenge the Curmudgeon post. It’s been a very interesting week and I’d like to thank all of you once again for playing along and forcing me to think outside my comfort zone. This is another one from Pablo (https://pcuzco.wordpress.com/). Pablo requested that I discuss “…something about the progression of events that got you where you are today, drug free, Buddhist and insane (in a good way). No details, just a funny story.”
It didn’t happen when I put down the bottle. It wasn’t contained in the words of philosophers or Pandits, gurus or Geshes. There was no flash of enlightenment on the meditation cushion; no communication with dakas or dakinis, deities or demons. I didn’t find it in a Sangha and I sure as hell didn’t find it within 12 trite steps to sober mediocrity. But scientists and seers agree that it is happening because it is the nature of it to happen and in order to happen, it has to stop happening just as often as it happens.
Truth be told, nothing happened to me. This is because I’m not so much a “me” as a happening that calls itself me and nothing happens to a happening. Quite some time ago, events occurred on levels from macro to micro that set in motion an event that decided it didn’t like being an event, so it convinced itself it was a thing. That event was me. In attempting to change its nature from fluid to static, a miserable, frightened, angry, jealous event transpired and I kept ruminating on this pitiful event causing it to gain strength. Warm and cold fronts danced to a stalemate and in my resulting torpor, I forgot all about the blood circulating through my veins and arteries, the replication of cells, the regeneration of tissue, though I kept doing all of that, albeit unconsciously.
The most happenin’ of all the happenings was contained in a thought. Or rather, between two thoughts. The first thought was a son-of-a-bitch, full of self-deprecation and fear. The second thought was rather silly – something about a goose? I must have seen a goose that afternoon. But here’s the really far out thing: I didn’t craft yet another redundant sob story around the depressing thought, nor did I create a fairy tale around the goose thought. It was more like, “I suck”, “goose” in rapid succession. Then my emotions and intellect blinked off, just like that, but only for a second. “Huh?” I said to Bernadette as she was splayed out on the sofa going to town on her crotch. She didn’t respond because she’s a dog, but she dug what I was saying just the same because she instinctively understands that nothing needs to be understood.
The space between our thoughts – that’s where it all goes down. And that’s the most profound – no, strike that – the only thing that needs to be understood. But whether you or I or anyone else understands it is irrelevant to the creative vibration; it will continue to do its thing caring fuck-all about our opinion of it. I already knew that, but I was still a neurotic mess because philosophy is just a word game in which charlatans like me indulge to hear ourselves talk. It wasn’t until I was caught off guard – my ego that guards the gate of self-delusion took off for a nanosecond as it always does – but this time, ego clocked back in just a little bit early and noticed it. It noticed that nothing was there and then, as usual, something returned in the form of a goose. Self-hatred gives way to goose was how I had always interpreted it. I had it all wrong. Emptiness-self hatred-emptiness-goose – that was the actual order of operations, as it were. In other words, the self-hatred and the goose came from nothing. When they disappeared, they went back to being nothing-with-potential, because this is what happens to everything – thoughts, people, trees, galaxies – when they return to the emptiness, their source.
I understood then and there that I am a victim of nothing. I have no enemies or struggles. I suffer no injustices nor do I achieve any goals. I am not an individual – I am an event that was set in motion approximately 47 years ago and will cease happening at some point in linear time. Except that I will never cease happening. Sure, I won’t always inhabit this 120 lb. slab of amorphous flesh, but that isn’t really the end of the event. It will just seem that way to those who stick around long enough to notice that the Paul-shaped thing hasn’t shown up for work in quite some time. Meanwhile, the constituents of the Paul-shaped thing will be abuzz with activity. The energy that perpetually activated Paul-consciousness for a spell will move on to brighter pastures – maybe a little bit will animate a grizzly bear in the Yukon, another bit will help a distant star along on its journey to supernova. And just as it was prior to March 16, 1970, the Paul event will no longer be aware of itself. I’ve already been there – we all have, for far longer than we’ve been “alive” – so why are we so scared to return?
I now have the luxury of playing with my darker thoughts. That’s what happened. No outside forces control my mind because there are no “outside” forces. As I view aspects of the big unity through these temporary eyes, I’ll continue to have all sorts of thoughts and form all sorts of opinions about it and some of them will be downright horrifying. But I don’t have to settle in and spend time with such thoughts. They come. They go. The insubstantial feelings of dread disappear like smoke rings if you let them. It took me over 47 years to learn how to let them disappear, and to welcome them back like a surly old friend when they recur. Your old friends won’t hang around very long if you don’t engage them in discussion, so you may as well show some hospitality and keep the welcome mat out. As soon as you turn your back on your troublesome guest, the void will snatch it back and pause and introduce another guest – maybe an exotic stranger. But don’t pay that stranger too much mind, either. It’s that infinitesimal gap between the departure of one and the arrival of another that encompasses all of creation. As such, it’s the ultimate destination. I’ll see you there.