“In his first summers, forsaking all his toys, my son would stand rapt for near an hour in his sandbox in the orchard, as doves and redwings came and went on the warm wind, the leaves dancing, the clouds flying, birdsong and sweet smell of privet and rose. The child was not observing; he was at rest in the very centre of the universe, a part of things, unaware of endings and beginnings, still in unison with the primordial nature of creation, letting all light and phenomena pour through.” Peter Matthiessen
The game of becoming is one of our favourites. The game of setting out into the unknown, confronting reality, and emerging renewed.
“The hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder” and then “the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” Joseph Campbell
The acquiring of treasures and going on journeys is never ending. As such, sometimes one needs to retreat. Yet in the midst of adventure, it’s hard to remember that you can stop playing. That you can step out of worldly affairs at any moment - and step back into the sandbox of your youth. And when you step back into the very centre of the universe - it is understood that you were there all along.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time” T.S. Eliot
Through the busyness of living - we are wrapped up in beginnings and endings. We become wrapped up with what the Buddhists call the Eight Worldly Concerns.
Hope for happiness - fear of suffering
Hope for fame - fear of insignificance
Hope for praise - fear of blame
Hope for gain - fear of loss
It is said that in one way or another, all things worldly involve pursuing one or many of these eight concerns. We loop around continually experiencing happiness, suffering, gain, loss, and all of the others. But even though we know they come as pairs - we always hope for the better end of the duality of hope and fear. And in this hope rests our undoing, for in this hope our contentment with beingness vanishes - and we become engulfed in a never ending doing. Is this not why we ask one another “How are you doing?” as opposed to “How are you being?”.
But thankfully we can take rest.
Verily, what we are made of is situated elsewhere. We are in the world but not of the world. While we are firmly present in the world of multiplicity, in the world of doing, the roots of our being do not end there. They reach down to the unity of all things, the integrative core of existence. And one need only take deep rest to reconnect with this core. This core from which true spontaneous living emerges.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” Lao Tzu
And you require this inner belief to live free of worldly affairs. From then on - you can take the Eight Worldly concerns seriously but not literally1. When you don’t take things literally - you are free of them and exit a frantic state of perpetual motion. In physics, you know something is fishy when claims of perpetual motion are made. When a machine seems to obtain energy for free - you know there is trickery involved. Humans are the same - we cannot be in perpetual motion.
If you do not spontaneously
Trust yourself sufficiently,
You will be in a frantic state,
Pursuing all sorts of objects
And being changed
By those objects,
Unable to be independent.
And to leave this frantic state - we must rest. To be at rest is to leave these concerns aside. Not forever, but at least for a moment. We must sleep. We must move. We must breathe from our heels. We must hold counsel with birds and trees. We must bask in the sun. We must return to the body - and care for its simple wishes. To eat, to drink, to move, to rest, and to hug. When you return to this state - things are simple again.
What are you running after so intently?
Why are you trying to put
A head on top of your head?
Your head is already exactly where it needs to be” -Lin-Chi
Everything is where it needs to be. To attend to the body is to consecrate your human temple. And it is only after consecration that the sacred can emerge - and one can return to worldly affairs with integrity.
“The idea is not to confront bad ideas but to come up with good ideas. Otherwise, your enemies define the game and you are the loyal opposition” -Terrence McKenna
When you return with integrity, spend at least as much time attending to grand possibilities as you do attending to trivialities. Spend at least as much time pushing the boundary as you do defining it.
But for now - let’s just rest here.
It is as it is.
Music For Resting
A turn of phrase from a podcast I heard with Donald Hoffman on the nature of consciousness.