What preconceived notions do you have about yourself and others? What assumptions do you make about other people? Today I am reminded by Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities that we are each an unfathomable mystery. When you let go of the need to know who you are, and who others are, you become open to experiencing the majesty and wonder of the reality of our existence.
The following video of Marina Abramović’s performance for her 2010 MoMA retrospective speaks for itself entirely through silence. The most dramatic part of the video is Marina’s encounter with a former great love from the 70’s whom she used to create art with. What truly captivated me about this video were the shared moments of silent staring contents with strangers.
I find the act of staring into the eyes of another human being in silence to be revolutionary in a world consumed with conversation. Have you ever stared into someone’s eyes without speaking? Silence provides the opportunity to experience the reality, the fullness, the beingness of another human. Two humans staring into each other’s eyes in silence is consciousness gazing into a mirror.
I wrote the following paragraph a while ago, and have yet to post it until now. The reason being, that it contains a difficult truth for me to swallow. When someone says something that is blatantly untrue, or just has an opinion I find to be offensive, I will disagree and argue my point. But I know that deeper than these surface disagreements is the one true being that we all share. So I post this not to say that I am so perfect in my understanding that I can incorporate all ideas no matter what, but rather that I promise myself I will attempt to look beyond disagreement to the true self in each person, the one being we all share.
When someone thinks what you say is wrong that’s okay. If someone believes you are wrong and they are right, that is fine. While the truth is ultimately one, whole and unified, the truth manifests in all its aspects differently through form, through us. It makes sense that the truths in our worlds would be expressed differently, understood with different words, different ideas. The infinite aspects of the whole are not in disagreement, so why should we be? There is nothing that can be given or taken away from our being, so when someone has a different opinion than I do or thinks I’m wrong, I understand that is true for that world, that experience of existence. In that world the words and ideas I am using are not the same words and ideas it uses to express the truth. There are infinite ways. We are each one of them.
Now onto a brief update on day 2 of the “1 new thing a day challenge!” My boyfriend loves playing video games, whereas I do not. I never play video games with him. I don’t mind when he plays, but I am always doing my own thing in the meantime. Today, in honor of the “1 new thing a day challenge,” I decided to actually play a video game with him. I am a huge Blackhawks fan, so he chose NHL 10, and let me be the Hawks. Not only did I get to participate in something he enjoys, but I even scored a goal! Even though I was no Hatrick Kane on the ice, I enjoyed attempting a new activity with my loved one. What new thing did you try for day 2?
When I turned on my TV today I was greeted by a woman at the zoo with her children, lamenting her newfound realization that flamingos cannot, in fact, fly. (While I have seen videos of flamingos flying, these particular flamingos couldn’t. So for the sake of the metaphor let’s just discuss these non-flying flamingos.) As I appreciated her heartfelt woe, a poem came to me, as follows:
The Flamingo Situation
vain people become flamingos
they come back all pinked up
standing on that skinny leg
spreading their wings
and pointing their noses
as high as their necks will carry them
as they look up and see
their soaring brothers and sisters
they will bend bony knees
and with a great push
stay exactly where they are
In the poem I refer to “vain” people. But truer than that, is the plight of those completely identified with their physical form and thoughts. Before some degree of the realization of being, of the body as a vehicle for consciousness to enter the world of form, the physical world can be a terrible burden. After all, bodies are vulnerable, and inevitably subject to decay.
While matter doesn’t disappear, it always changes form, manifests as something new. For the one all wrapped up in the fears of the physical world, peace and joy are always just beyond reach. Fear is always just a bit too weighty.
The flamingos on TV were beautiful. But what is it like to be a bird that doesn’t fly? What is it like to be a human identified with forms and thoughts? It is to leave the highest manifestation of your being unrealized. Your highest potential inoperative. When those flamingos change form, they will soar to previously unimaginable heights. When humans change their attention from form, to presence, there are no more barriers, only an endless sea of dreams come true.
Today I had the privilege of performing with my family band at a town festival. Waiting to perform is nerve-racking for me. But the second I’m on stage and begin to sing all of the nerves just float away, and I’m there, completely present. I love the feeling of being totally in the moment. One of my favorite aspects of presence is the experience of joy; the natural state of being that is usually covered up by thoughts and emotions.
What makes you present? What snaps you out of thinking and brings in you completely into the moment?
Presence can be practiced in any situation, but a great place to start is by finding a situation that tunes you into the now. It could be yoga, taking a walk, straightening your hair, driving, singing, anything at all! When you find that thing that snaps you into the present, it isn’t really that thing that is so enjoyable. The joy comes from being fully in the now, without psychological past and future taking up all of your attention. So give yourself a gift and begin practicing being in the now. Start with whatever brings you joy!
For me, religions are like languages. If I were to call a shoe “a shoe” and someone else called it “un zapato,” neither of us would be incorrect. We were both describing the same thing using a different language. The words sounded different, but they were pointing to the same meaning. If I didn’t know Spanish I would have no idea what someone meant when they said “un zapato.” That doesn’t make that person wrong, it just means the noises they were using to describe something sounded different from what I had known.
As we have many different languages, we have many different religions. All over the world exist ways of pointing to God, the infinite, the divine, the universe, the oneness, being. In English I just used many different sounds that are meant to point to a reality, to truth. The many varied religions from this planet express God in God’s infinite aspects.
Right and wrong ultimately end up as thoughts in the head. When looking at the religions of the world without the mental screen of “right and wrong” you can see God growing and manifesting for all people in unlimited ways. Even further, without the mental screen of “right and wrong,” the present moment can be experienced as God’s current manifestation. When judgment ceases, the miraculous increases. Without judgment, you are accepting what is, allowing the highest potential of any moment to express itself freely in your life.
While I lived many years buying into the “right and wrong” voice in my head, I now can’t help but see God in everything. When you are very present, watching the moment, looking and listening for God, God appears through everything. For me, I could be watching a movie, overhearing a conversation on the bus, finding an encouraging sticker on the train window, and I receive it as something miraculous. And no matter what mental screen or ego another person is operating from, if I concentrate really diligently on the present I can sense God in and all around them. This is still challenging for me when people have really strong egos that feel very unpleasant, but the opportunity to recognize that person as their true self is always there.
The unity of the present is such that your awareness of God, (or being, or true self), in another human being, is also being experienced by that person in the present. Even if that person is completely identified with, and operating from, the voice in their head, the awareness you are experiencing is one with them. As was mentioned in yesterday’s post, once a small glimpse of awareness is sparked, it can only grow. That connection can change both of your lives. What a blessing it is to have the opportunity to understand another human being.