The Day After
Inn Along the Way/Chapman Farm
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What would it be like intimately to know there is nothing about you that needs improvement? That improvement happens, but it can happen from the inspiration of the you that is entirely okay as it is - we are?
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The me feels threatened when it comes into a space that challenges its claim to know itself. The threat is only challenging what it thinks. This space is an opportunity, a gift, a grace. One may be dropped, surprisingly, in this space in any number of ways. It could be a result, for example, of devotion to a spiritual path, illness, or death.
If one remains in this not-knowing, she can wonder. This wondering is an invitation to acclimate to not-knowing, so fresh insight, rather than the same old answers, can appear.
The not-knowing is really a knowing, an intimacy with yourself and others free of thinking you know who or what you are, that you know who or what they are. Anyway, you do not and cannot know. And that does not have to be seen as a tragedy.
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"I feel like I've not accomplished anything of much importance in my life. I often feel guilty about that... even worthless sometimes," she said. The Sage replied, "Our way is to return before all that."
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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All we think or say about ourselves is a story. The story - stories interwoven of stories - creates a feeling-of-self. This feeling-of-self, carried around in unquestioned fashion by most persons, is not the self. The feeling affects our emotional and physical changes.
What might you feel if the story dropped and the storyless appeared? It often does, but we miss it, and the story arises again, clouding our true self's clarity, spaciousness, and radiance - the storyless presence.
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The late Toni Packer shares how liberating meeting the true, one self can be, telling of her husband coming to realize he did not need to do anything to prove his worth ...
A memory comes to mind about Kyle, my late husband. He grew up in a puritanical family and was raised to be modest and honest, imbued with a strong drive for bettering himself. The idea of improving himself, of becoming a better person, was a strong motive in his family. Then one day—he must have been in his fifties—we visited Ojai in California and sat in the Oak Grove listening to Krishnamurti talk about human beings' everlasting endeavors to become something or somebody in the future. As soon as the talk was over, I saw Kyle jumping up and coming toward me with a lightness of energy that was quite unusual for him. He laughed heartily and exclaimed, "Here I've been attempting to become a better person all my life—ha ha ha ha ha!" He beamed with joy and didn't describe anything more, because direct insight is indescribable.
*The Wonder of Presence.
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Silence is a means of welcoming the storyless spaciousness which is our nature before the story of self. There, we learn to live from ourselves rather than the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves or what others say we are or are not.
Freedom is not discovered in the worst or best stories you tell yourself about yourself; freedom is you, which means that of you that is before an individual self - that within that is still, silent, and untouched by time and does not do anything to be itself.
From this pure presence, action arises. The doing is not to prove anything about the personality, which is ever-changing. The doing arises spontaneously from the changeless: presence expressing presence.
Likewise, one may relish sharing with others... sharing something deeper, more subtle than the usual personality sharing with personality. This depth is the fount of pure love.
This depth cannot be captured in words. It is all words cannot say. It is not spiritual or unspiritual, not religious or irreligious, not good or bad ... not anything ... yet, it is.
Who are you? Are you a who or what or something? What remains when you are in deep sleep? Can you allow yourself to wonder about yourself rather than rehash the same old ideas? Have you had moments when you were aware your thought of yourself dropped, and no sense of yourself as a separate self with its self-stories was left? Have you enjoyed sharing with someone knowing the usual sense of yourself dissolved in the joy of sharing together? How might this wondering about who we are shape your view of death? Of relationship with others - human, non-human?
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2023.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and title and place of photograph.
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.