The Breath as Radiance
I just sat with my workplace sangha, which is more and more becoming a real sangha, as Barry has started sharing his fictional story based on the Elephant Path.
This post is pouring out faster than I can set it down.
Questions Are Remarks
This practice was for novices and was on the breath.
But what is a novice? And what is the breath? Always the questions.
The breath these days for me can be anything from cascading vividly visionary unfoldings to tantric visitations with Padmasambhava. It can be chakras suddenly recognizing themselves and opening, visionary eyes opening, energetic connections with others coming online, and more. All this is the breath.
If I sit and relax into the coarse literal breath, any one or several of these experience may unfold. When the stop bell rings, I may be surprised to find my heart still a white-hot fire and my face quenched with tears. Whole universes may have passed before me, through me, as the breath.
So don’t misuse the term one-pointed. Don’t be the masculine practitioner hemmed in by foregone conclusions about how reality works, what the breath is. You truly never know. The trick is to keep asking, asking, asking. To ask is to open the heart and the body of sensation. The mind will follow; you need do nothing for, to, or with the “mind.”
Breath Is the Manifest Multiverse of Potentiality
The breath is light. And light is all. Light was the first self-division, the first self therefore, all of manifestation from out of the nought that was posited post hoc. Lucifer was the lord of light, so the beautiful tragic fall into division is a matter of light, of throwing darkness into relief, into background, into source-function.
So you see, or shall come to see, nought has properties, oddly enough: not findable properties, mind you, but dark matter properties, so to speak: what must be so, at least functionally, for there to be this spontaneous manifestation of all that we normally think is solid, selfsame phenomena.
Lilith, Adam, and Eve Are the Trinity
There are Two Truths, we Buddhists like to say: the conventional reality of manifest thingness, and the empty darkness of source-function. The problem is, however, that there are really Three Truths, because there are none. What mediates the Two Truths, depolarizes them, deconstructs the first and remaining duality? Light does! Light is the meaning-bearer: It illuminates all otherness; it gives even darkness its property-ness, which is none other than unfindable source-functionality. In the beginning there was light. The light is the Magician born to the High Priestess, to Lilith, who would not lie under Adam for all the world. The light is Infant Consciousness, the Male Principle, each of us, rig pa.
Eve was fully formed and married to Adam in manifest light. But Lilith, O Lilith. Hers is the unspeakable myth, the voiceless truth. She lay under no one and gave birth only to her own unsired demons. She fell into division without help, without a partner, without love. She was banished from Paradise. She lies fallow outside the gates east of Eden.
We children of light had to invent Lilith post hoc out of the clay we call darkness and emptiness. In the beginning there was the Word. She has to exist, you see. We posit her. We posit emptiness-of-inherent-existence. We posit the light that allows us to posit whatever we need to, always in retrospect. We posit a source behind the source. It must be so.
The great mystery of the Feminine Principle is that it is both untouched fruitless womb and all-potentiating tomb, moment by moment by moment by moment by moment. In the emptiness of the Three Times, if we awaken, we give birth to Lilith. It is a mad, mad mission to reach back beyond time to put her invisible form into manifest archetypal threads, but here you go.
Only the Question Awakens
There are at least two schools of thought on how to relate to the nimittas that tend to arise when concentration enters automaticity. One school says these lights are distractions, to ignore them as so much delusion and “return to the breath.” Thanissaro is in this camp. The other school entertains some elaborate theories on what these lights mean as positive signs of progress regarding staying with the breath.
What exactly is a distraction? The Feminine voiceless voice asks you. There is no answer to give, only response, only now. Response is whatever arises for you as the question. Always, always, always there is the question. Keep letting it ask. Allow it to ask. Allow the heart to open, for the openness of heart is Lilith herself and, ultimately, the dawning of actual Eve. In the beginning there was light, except that, well, how do we describe the beginningless and the endless?
Lilith is the High Priestess, not the Empress who is Eve. Lilith has a dark shrouded hollow where where Eve presents a face. Lilith lies with no one, not even the Magician. But unless we posit her, we do not exist. And unless we posit her, we cannot be free from the selves we fabricate to swaddle us in protective delusion, in our tapestry of inherited ancestral trauma, in our gloriously tragic tale of egoic maintenance.
People can have all kinds of theories. People can debate them until the elephant in the room comes home by long scenic route. Here is one more theory, then: It matters little how you are told to relate to the weird and wondrous phenomena that can arise in meditation. It matters infinitely more that you allow yourself, trust yourself, to respond to those phenomena. There is no patriarch, no authority, no teacher, no Buddha. There is only the question and moment-by-moment response that is the questioning itself.
My first mentor, Daniel Ingram, wrote elsewhere, I suddenly realize, of all that I’m saying here. He brought it forth, yes, as a different Daniel-flavored tray of metaphors, different myths, different figurally contingent polarities. But we are saying the same thing. He taught me to prize above all else that in this lifetime I can practice well. And practicing well, when it comes to surrendering into the unfindable, is, paradoxically, truly where it’s at.