My time in Bali is soon coming to an end and in a little more than a month I will be leaving this island after having lived here with my family for nearly six years. The next chapter of this long and unremitting erring on planet earth will take me back to Europe, this time to Portugal. Not at all sure what that will bring but not shying away form the uncertainty.
I am not particularly sad about leaving Bali nor really excited about going to live in Portugal. Grateful though for having been offered the possibility to sojourn here, Bali is welcoming and generous in many ways. Leaving seems the right thing to do and I am doing it without it stirring up too much emotion ( this statement is not entirely ture, the voice of human attachment protests from within and claims that I am both sad and excited, in no particular order.)
After all, us moving from place to place, changing whereabouts, changing continents, changing jobs, changing partners, changing dietary habits, our sense of obsessed concern with the well functioning of our organs and alarm about the potentially damaging effects of excessive acidity in our bodies may not be as big a deal as we would like to make it sound.
Maybe our brief, all too brief, fleeting passage on this earth is not such a big deal after all. Maybe, locked up in our own heads and walled up in our hearts we just make ourselves more important than we really are. An attitude that ends up tensing us in one way or another since to approach life from such a perspective would necessarily mean taking ourselves too seriously. Taking ourselves too seriously is exactly what identifying with our thinking does to us. A main thrust of meditation is to loosen us from the grips of this snare by showing us that while we do live in this house this house is actually empty and floats imperturbably and freely in mid-air and as the great bard, WS would have it; leaves not a trace behind.
As it may not have escaped your attention, I am a fervent adept of bringing a good dose of humour and laughter into my own life and, throughout my interactions with my fellow companions, have endeavoured, when my own mood has not been too bleak and sombre, to help them, more even than trying to make sense of things, sometimes that just doesn’t happen in an entirely satisfying way for the world within and the world without often collude to prevent us from fully comprehending the little picture let alone fathoming and grasping the big one and all the intermediary ones in between, to laugh at themselves and at the world, but with a laughter that has heart and compassion to it.
A warm and genuine laughter, seems to break through much of what our ego can construe; it has the buoyancy of grace coupled with the liberty of detachment. It gifts you with the ability of cutting through the crap, the one you have created for yourself and the one others, all the significant and not so significant others, have offered, a lot of times with the best intensions in the world, but you must have heard of this dictum haven’t you: hell is paved with good intentions, to trap you in.
And that my friends, is deeply liberating, laughing your way out of the ego’s unending deceit and delusion. Among the funniest things I have heard on this long journey of mine, no, you won’t hear me add that clichéd and hollow word spiritual to it, is the extreme pretence of some who have conceived of the idea of somehow cracking open what they call the cosmic code. Perhaps this is another way of expressing our doomed immortality projects of which striving for enlightenment could just be one. That’s our ego at its best and most pathetic, it simply wants to equate itself with God. "Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns." (T.S.Eliot.) The ego's joke is on us, or to talk in accord with non-dualistic parlance, another one on the list of today's fads; we are the joke, we are the ego and the ego's joke.
But those special, altered, blissed out and higher states of consciousness who is that wants them in the first place? Do we ever pause to even ask the question? This planet and all the beings on it, sentient and insentient, have suffered greatly from our pathological anthropocentricism; us putting ourselves at the center of the universe and exploiting every available ressource just because we could not find any force on earth capable of standing up to our absolute arrogance.
Such out of proportioned desires don’t seem to echo much these words of the Genesis, do they: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
If this journey of ours doesn’t teach us humility then it doesn’t seem to teach us much else other than, in some twisted way, coming back to enhancing our self-image and ceding to ego-aggrandizement.
These compelling words of the T.S.Eliot again come to mind:
“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.”
But humility is most difficult for us, for in it there is no sense of gain, nor accomplishment, not even realization, in it the self dissolves, our inveterate and all-consuming self-centeredness. A dissolution that you cannot even announce for there is nothing to announce.
Humility doesn't reflect anything back other than the endlessness of its own untracebility: it does not leave a return address, something we could come back to and claim as our own. It is light and lights up as a breeze that passes through branches without leaving trace of its passage.
But almond blossoms fall, be there wind or absence of wind!
May you all be well and happy.