I Changed My Mind
Not because I am so impressionable, but precisely because of my impressionability I decided to take advantage of this ability to alter the course of my life, stepping off what seemed a path that was leading me nowhere and onto what turns out to be a mysteriously familiar and more natural trail.
Looking back to a vow I had made decades ago to devote myself to ‘know no rest’ until I stopped living a duplicitous life and in complete possession of my sanity, the obvious starting place was my impressionable mind. But it really didn’t start there .. well, it did, but it started up again recently in earnest, one day as I leaned a hand on the door frame and the other on the edge of my walk-in closet’s open door and peered into the daylight as it streamed in through the window.
A realization came to me suddenly and quite out of nowhere, that it was not just my eyes through which I was seeing! Yes, I can say it was not I but I or perhaps another that was seeing as it were, through me, yet as me. This captured my complete attention for quite some time as my mind tried to edit but couldn’t explain away the reality that it was not but was me. For how long had I been completely oblivious to this fact that no boundary exists between seeing and what is seen? None at all? I, and the seer, was all of it, it, the other, too, was all of me.
I had to think about this.
I was not imagining this. Had I been inadvertently blocking this sensation .. somehow? As an artist and painter, I know the experience of absorption, as a canvas overtakes control of a painter, and this experience seemed a lot like that, yet deeper, where you could ask, was it God seeing his creation as me? (But I’m really not very religious.) And as well, this goes pretty much against religion — that I was him and he was me — but there you have it, I was in check and needed to figure a way out.
Researching, I first discovered there had existed early Christians that espoused a similar experience (later shunned as heretics), which is known as monophysitism, that is, all existence is comprised of only one nature, that being divine. Apparently, some 1500 years ago this same notion was suppressed by the existing priest-classes of the day with help from the Byzantine Emperor, who also favored a system of duophysitism (that being there exists two separate natures, a natural one and a divine one). My experience flew in the face of this latter, to favor the former. And as well, these were the same rulers and religious teachers that jealously denounced all painters of icons during the 100 years of iconoclasm, so I have a small, personal grudge against them to begin with.
I was onto something. I decided to go deeper.
Having had if not exactly the same but similar experiences in the past, I looked back through my history to pick up the trail I was on decades ago, earnestly searching for that ‘lost chord’. My thoughts landed on my old friend and teacher Chogyam Trungpa in Boulder Colorado, and how impressed I was and still am with him. His personality and presence was beyond magnetic, it was electrifying. I picked up his books and started reading and contemplating his teachings again, which led me back into rigorous daily practice of study and meditation, renewed now with fresh enthusiasm.
Two years later, my discipline and impressionability began to bear fruit but my experience was .. well .. spotty. The whole process of learning meditation, I find now after much study, is a beautiful and natural process, one that everyone encounters as they age, and as well, one that can be trained. Nevertheless, what I found is there is a process and learning the process and experiencing it is very much like converting one’s mind from measuring by inches and feet to a more precise and workable metric system — which is much more precise and inclusive.
So .. change my mind? Yes. My thinking has changed and my old way of thinking is falling away like brown, November leaves in a good breeze and I am experiencing a sort of transformation — a deepening — in my life experience that I was not experiencing before, and which I was sorely missing. I now experience quite ordinarily the same dissolution into reality I describe above .. conventional thoughts fall to nothing while clarity arises, quite on its own. Nor do my emotions take me captive as they have in the past, so as my life grows steadier there is less restlessness.
My continuous practice and daily experience encourages me to go further, to open myself more and more to the ever newness of ordinary, daily life, not only when I’m behind an easel but in all my activities — and the term I’ve coined for this is: everyday artfulness.
I’d have a hard time changing my mind about this. I’ll share more. Later.