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A liminal state is a "threshold" period of transition where normal limits to thought,
self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed - a situation which can lead to new
Meaning and Purpose
I'm in a
middle-ageless funk, a huge pool of loss with no bottom, a nest
twigs blowing away in a cold, cold wind. It's a perfect place for existential
angst of every variety. What's worse is that there is no story I can weave fast
enough to fill the gaps--no sparkling distraction to keep my gaze off the
dissolving structures I used to stand on. Sad times.
something very...oh, words are failing me. There is something
real that I
can't define about watching every effort get immediately sucked into that
freezing maelstrom out there/in here. The Earth, the Story, the Mind, she is
a-changing, and there is nothing I can do in the face of such momentum. So I
stand still. I surrender. It's not as if I have a choice.
I am learning
about my "will", about the meaning of persistence (a
fight), and the seeming waste of personal energy it is to continually beat my
brain against my own walls. I say "seeming", because there really is no such thing
as a waste of energy, no matter what opinion arises. As I throw one more pebble
into the mother of all chasms in my life, I realize that each action happens just
so, exactly on cue, with precisely the force necessary to remind me that making
myself into anything is futile. And perfect.
So I'm standing
in the shower, wondering what to do with myself once I get done
with all the dailies. Is there something to look forward to? What state should I
attend? Should I make a huge change in routine, or resign myself to my fate, or
leave everything and everyone behind? Maybe I should just continue to "work on
myself"--you know, yank all my issues into a ruthless psychological glare (with
high-powered magnification). At the very least, this makes me believe, for a
minute, that I'm doing something worthwhile and, perhaps, rewarding. Somehow.
I hear the
thinking, and I don't remember if I washed my face. There is a
restless, furious churning going on. I want to run around the block. I am anything
but content. I am not happy. I don't even know, for god's sake, what happiness
Some time later,
drying my hair with a towel, silence falls inside. My thoughts
dissolve, and I watch them, and I am still the same, still the same. No matter
what I fill myself with or throw away or grieve over or welcome, I am still the
same. Water doesn't drown it, fire can't burn it, earth can't bury it and air
can't breathe it! Whatever this is stays undisturbed, untouched. Tension and
laxity, suffering and joy all share the same vast, spaceless space.
This is the point
where I touch what's real. I fall in. There is a baseless,
non-reactive equanimity, with a tendency to delight in Itself. I am that,
underneath all of the thinking and feeling, inclusive of both. It does not relieve
any pressure--pressure loops out of and returns to this. No relieving, and no
necessity for it--but both pressure and release are completely viable options. I
can "waste" my energy in suffering and finding the end of it. I have all the room
I need. It may furrow my brow even more, but there is no furrowing This...I may
as well draw a line in the water.
What does this
mean? I don't know. To what purpose? No idea. When I cease
trying to find and do the "right" thing, the correct Maria, the appropriate
response, I am free to be anything, anywhere. So much freedom--nothing holding
me down, no mistakes, nothing to regret. I can't even fathom this, it's so simple.
But there is a
direction--yes, this is true--there is a leaning into joy, into
senseless delight, into pointless contentment. It's a deeper, wider thing than
emotion, than the brief ups and downs that stories are so full of.
This, too, leaves
no trace. If I try to hang on to that invisible ship cutting a
wake through endless seas, it becomes a piece of flotsam in a swirl of foam.
Pointless Word Power
I really love
words and the concepts that can be constructed with them. Words
and their feelings create worlds, cultures, societies and stories, both lovely and
horrific. My favorite words are those used to make art, to communicate
sensation like ocean waves, and to give thanks. My least favorite words are those
used to attack or defend. Not that these aren't art forms in their own
right...just that I prefer to use words in other ways.
We can grant
words both "positive" and "negative" creative
power. We spin
them one way or another. We give them impact, or not. Long ago, I was given an
opportunity to see the world without names. Without descriptive words in my
head when I look at the world, there is a raw kind of seeing, an original feeling.
There is no date, time or world removed from this one. I remember wanting to
live there...which sprung from my belief that I was somehow apart from this
place. Alas/thankfully...I am a character in a story, here, with a map agreed
upon by this culture, in which I participate, most of the time.
Sometimes I think
I like to paint, to be an "artist", because it gives me
sanctioned time in the wordless world. Meditation does the same. Anything
requiring a degree of concentration will turn down or off the chatter inside.
Most of us, though, don't notice. And over a period of many years, certain
word-patterns--thoughts--become habitual and hypnotic. We believe fully in
their power and act accordingly.
If I boiled down
the negative messages I was fed and began to believe as a
child, the concentrated stuff at the bottom would look like crap and sound
something like, "I'm not good enough." I used this sticky belief to flavor lots
and lots of storylines (all of them had sad endings). I used it as a cave. I used it
to attack, and I used it to defend...and to grieve, and to need. I used it without
knowing that I carried it like some powerful totem.
In spite of this
unconscious stuff, there were still those times I would fall
and pristine. I contrasted these two feelings--caramelized crud with open
spaciousness--and concluded that I was crud, trying to be spacious more often. I
understood the openness as a part of myself, and loved the good feeling of relief
it gave me, but the density always returned.
really paid off in identifying those "core beliefs", as
psychologist might say. I realized that when things happened (or didn't), it was
always due to the fact that I wasn't good enough. Someone looked at me and said,
"I want a divorce." Obviously, I wasn't good enough. I wanted to travel, and
lacked the funds, because I wasn't good enough at fund raising. I wanted more
peace, but wasn't good enough to deserve it. I wasn't good at saying "no" when I
needed to, or making friends when I needed them. Seeing this one-size-fits-all
ingredient was highly agitating, at first, and somehow a threat. I, I, I.
found myself wanting to "sit" with this agitation,
trying to trust
where it would lead, what I may uncover...I just looked at it, looked at the words
and their effect on my heart and body, the memories they stirred up, the
hopelessness and helplessness engendered again and again. In the midst of this
"being with" agitation and anxiety, one day, I found the silent clearness welling
up, and just looked.
Here it is...the wordless. I am. This is it. Too much, too much.
That's all I
could say, smiling in the rush of love, in the sweetness and
Some time passed, and I found itself almost afraid, suddenly, to
breathe--because I didn't want to disturb this peace with thinking, with
grasping, with despair or grief or longing. This peace was fragile, too beautiful,
and I was...not good enough to keep it! Somehow, though, I had leaned back into
this trust. Thoughts fell into it like pebbles. Ripples happened, and the "water"
remained, just as it was.
I have no effect
on What Is...whew. Further, that "I" is just an effect.
like these are puppies biting their own tails, always pointing to the circularity
of reasoning. This is why I can no longer believe in what I think, and tend to
think mostly for fun. Thinking is useless for solving philosophical problems...only
because there really are none! On the other hand, all my thinking, all my
problems, had to be exactly as they were/are.
I have to tell
you that believing my own stories--from the perspective of
world"-- is habitual, ingrained, and sometimes painful. Realizing that the
"I"-creature is another story on a profoundly visceral level makes the whole
experience Being much less painful. This is fabulous, and very freeing. I am free
to love or dislike myself, or just not have a self.
Under all that,
there is nothing to be understood. "I" can't possibly
anything but a product of itself, which is incredibly useful in daily life, and
psychologically speaking, a dead end. Inevitably, one comes to a place where the
tail-chasing is not so important. The puppy sits down, falls over into a boneless,
natural puddle of trust.
Maria Smith is an artist, writer, and "sensual contemplative".
Liminal Light Maria's Arts
[ http://marias-arts.blogspot.com/ for our plain text digest readers.]
http://www.nonduality.com/hl3496.htm previous issue with Maria Smith, 2009
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