When did you first start searching for answers? When did you first realize that you weren't seeing the whole picture but started having a clue that it was possible to more fully experience truth, perhaps even live truth? Or was it that you lost the truth you once knew?
I still remember when I was a baby in my crib, must have been about a year old. I remember the turned wooden bars, the sunlight coming in through the window filling the room with light. I tucked my legs under me and gently rocked in its warmth. No thoughts. Just awareness of light, rhythm, motion, peace. Such deep contentment. I have to say, for me it began in that crib.
Or was it in daily morning mass in the old Catholic church at St. Joe's in first and second grade, the stereophonic drone of rows of black oscillating fans on either side of the nave, lulling me into a blissful state I also experienced in the crib, the cusp of wakefulness and sleep.
Or feeling my wrist in class in the 4th grade and realizing in a flash that there was a skeleton in me, that everyone in class had skeletons in them, that eventually our fleshy covering would be gone and all there would be are bones, the inevitability of death. Where was I once there was just a heap of dust and bones? For a time, the world seemed surreal and there was a vacuousness, a loss of sense of self, suspended in wonder. What are we all doing here? Why are we here? Left hanging with unanswerable questions until sufficiently distracted to forget such things.
Or was it in the euphoria of cocaine as a high school teen? Could it be found there? Or perhaps the Yaqui Way of Knowledge held a clue. Could I find it in weed, in alcohol, in peyote, in mescaline, psilocybin, LSD, morphine, Demerol, Thorazine, barbiturates. In heroin? In PCP?
Or was it laying on the beach at Cape Hatteras all night after a week on the flight line at Pope AFB, North Carolina, hearing the rhythmic waves under moonlit sky lulling the mind to juncture between alertness and sleep? Rising with the sun feeling strangely awake and alive, connected with sand, water, moon, stars, air, sun. My body, the elements.
Or was it the first time I learned to meditate that summer Saturday in 1976 after bringing a handkerchief, flowers and fruit for a puja to Guru Dev. I sat, my hands felt miles below my head, awareness taking in cars passing on the street, birds, light, mantra? Such peace, the peace that I had longed for since leaving the beaches of North Carolina, that I had longed for since the droning fans, since the rhythmic rocking in the crib. Awareness just expanding out to just be fully present in the environs of the TM Center.
Or was it when I was working on staff at Maharishi International U one summer after learning the Sidhis? Sitting in the expanse of white sheet covered sheets of foam, entering a contentment I never knew possible, an equanimity so profound it seems hard to believe I could have ever emerged from such a fulfilling state.
Or was it in 1985, on my first "Chan Qi", seven day Zen retreat with Master Shengyen in Queens, New York, when he convinced me to put down practicing the Sidhis and just follow my breath? I knew I was in the presence of someone that Knew. He had the answer to the question I had always been seeking. He was the first person that I ever felt could see me for who I really was. There was no hiding from him and no reason to hide. There was just shared silence.
Or was it when I was practicing Direct Contemplation in 2007 and suddenly the entire world pivoted and was as aware of me as I was of it until there was no separation, no inner, no outer, just a holistic continuum of silence, of lively, pure awareness in which all things flutter like leaves in a breeze?
Or was it when the abbot took off his glasses in the dark room, leaned forward and motioned for me to look into his left eye, his black pupil thinly encircled with dark brown iris, and the world went completely black? Complete emptiness. Emerging from that, I saw the universe, galaxies, stars, planets. And then his dilated eye. He reached over, put on his glasses, nodded with palms together. I bowed and left everything behind.
Or was it when, during a Vipassana retreat during walking meditation, focusing on when the impulse to lift the foot led to feet rising and falling without anyone there to control them?
Or was it when the trees at Consumnes River Preserve revealed to me what it was like in their world, how they perceive time and space, how hundreds of seasons came and went in a silence reaching deep into the earth and to the heavens?
Or perhaps it never began and will never end. There is nothing more than this and it's enough. Yet, we are drawn to look deeper, to be with ever greater clarity, to awaken more from the dream. It can only begin and end now and now is forever.