Where You Are Not

As I write at the tea shop today, I take a moment to look around. I see colorful art work hanging on old brick walls and mottled textures of a concrete floor. A wide variety of patrons are sipping tea, eyes glued to screens of electronic devices to which their ears are tethered by ear buds. A few unplugged conversations echo in the room along with the clatter of a tea shop kitchen. Background music is at a nice level for me, nearly inaudible.

Each thing I observe seems to have its own characteristics distinguishing it from every other thing. But, as I allow myself to be aware of the space in which things seem to appear, every phenomenon merges into a swirling mass of impressions. My perceptual field, momentarily freed of its habit, becomes an unchained field of awareness—nothing else. The urge to see things separately momentarily dissolves.

Now I am writing about the experience and see letters form into words flavored by the thoughts that spawned them. I type ideas into the electronic page of my iPad with the intention to communicate something useful. I hope the virtual impressions will be well received but choose to offer them with the comment section turned off. I just let them go.

All forms of words and worlds arise and dissolve. They crystallize from projected thoughts in the mind, change as the mind shifts perspective, and liquefy once again into a primal soup of awareness. The world that exists does not exist solidly and substantially. ‘I’ do not exist, inherently and independently. My true nature is empty—essentially unknown and ungraspable. I recall some words of T.S. Eliot from The Four Quartets:

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

Well, maybe a little ecstasy …