Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Ichi-go, ichi-e" consciousness,"Infinite Light," the New Earth, What have I done?

I am moving into a new, debilitating, belligerent love with our Family, our fucking beautiful Family of souls. Every encounter we have, we change. The We changes. and the "we" gets wider.

And on top of that, our time here is so limited. It's precious. I must keep in mind that as I talk to someone, they are dying.

And so am I.

The Japanese have a very popular saying: "ichi-go, ichi-e," ( 一期一会)which is best translated as "every meeting is a once-in-a -lifetime chance." They use it often as a slogan for the Tea Ceremony. I think ichi-go ichi-e is an altered, positively angelic state of consciousness, one that is thick with the moment, filled with the feelings in the body, totally open to connections and relationships, totally open to love, and painfully pregnant with appreciation. It is "enlightened" consciousness precisely because it is satisfied with whatever is present, embracing what is present like a mirror its objects. It's consciousness pugged into the "cherishing-state". (感謝の状態), and so it is one of my favorite Japanese sayings.

I'm sunburned a bit on the shoulders and nose because today I went to a hippy/eco/music festival called "Live Earth" on my island. There were beautiful hippy Japanese people everywhere! I saw the band "Dewachen" perform, from Osaka. "Dewachen" is the name of Amida Buddha's heaven, or "Pure Land."(see footnote) The lead singer, about 35, chanted like a Tibetan monk on top of a sitar, bass, djimbe, didj, and bells. The music made everyone high. I met him after the show and asked who his teacher was and he said, in perfect English "Actually, I'm going to Italy next week to visit him. Namkhai Norbu. Do you know him?"

"Yes I do!" I replied. "I try to read everything he writes. I love the guy."
Chogyal Namkai Norbu is a highly respected teacher who writes books about Dzogchen and Dream Yoga. I like this quote from Dzogchen: The Self Perfected State:

"Duality is the real root of our suffering and all our conflicts. All our concepts and beliefs, no matter how profound they may seem, are like nets which trap us in dualism. When we discover our limitations we have to try and overcome them, untying ourselves from whatever type of religious, political, or social conviction may condition us. We have to abandon such concepts as “enlightenment,” “the nature of the mind,” and so on, until we no longer neglect to integrate our knowledge with our actual existence."

Footnote: Everyone knows that if you can develop the habit of prayer, then at death, in the midsts of all the confusion, you might spontaneously start praying and find yourself invoking the mind-states of the angels. And then from that space of infinite love and infinite light, you die (and are reborn).

This is one reason why Buddhists also use certain mantras at death. For example, in Pure Land Buddhism, the most popular form in Japan, at death one prays “namo amida butsu” which is best translated as “Hello Amida Buddha!” and suddenly Amida arrives, just as they imagined he would, to take the mind away to the heavenly realm Dewachen, where a river of infinite light and infinite life flow into a crystal clear lake growing lotus buds, each bud incubating a baby boddhisatva. You curl up inside one of those warm flower buds, beneath a soft blanket of light coming in through the petals, and then from there, in infant pose, you die (and are reborn.)

Or, if you practice Tibetan Phowa, at the moment of death you imagine yourself as a tiny ball of consciousness floating in your dying body's heart space, and with your last breath you, as that tiny star, you soar upwards, up and up and out the top of your head when instantaneously, just like a grain of salt jumping into the ocean, you dissolve and are released into the nondual mirror mind of All Space, Dewachen. And then from there, you die (and are reborn).

Or you pray for Jesus to come. And then for your children, and your lover. And then for your Mother. And then you think of how lonely you are, and how this is the end, and you don't want to say goodbye to music, and to mountains, and to your children. And why does it have to hurt so much, and oh god I wasted it, I wasted my life, and oh no, how horrible, and then, from there, you die (and are reborn).

Not to say you can’t have a mixture of all these kinds of deaths. I personally believe (with my Elisabeth Kübler-Ross books behind me) that we will all go through those stages of grief. Frightened thoughts and confusion will color the mind at death, as naturally as the changing colors in the leaves during fall; grief and confusion are just natural indicators that the brain is starting to die.

But I also believe that if you are lucid enough to stay awake and free as the conscious space in which those thoughts and feelings and confusions arise, then you can have enough peace of mind to also, alongside the stages of grief, experience the stages of enlightenment.

And this is where dream yoga , my primary practice, comes in. I won't talk about that right now; I really just wanted to help define “Dewachen.”

Dewachen is Infinite Light's (Amida’s) “Pure Land,” like I said. And some say it is literally just “pure land,” or pure earth, pure form, pure emptiness as form, and "pure" here means irreducible, but it also means fresh and innocent and new, ichi-go ichi-e, so we can say it’s Amida’s "New Land," or New Earth, which is what Jesus spoke about, the New Heaven and the New Earth. And he maintained that the New Earth arises before us continuously because life is not like the sea but like a river of "transparent glass" that never stays the same. This Pure Earth of Amida, whose name means “Infinite Light” is at hand and at heart and you can feel it if you look deeply enough into the very center of reality, past all the ideas about reality, and into the actual nitty, gritty, empty, experiential transparent heart of it. This is "integrating our knowledge (life) with our actual existence (life)." Infinite Light and Infinite Life, making love with each other forever and ever. "Hello Amida Buddha!" The Kingdom of Heaven is Within, and Without, and Withyou, and Withme, and at hand. "At hand" can also mean that it can be called for at any time, just like Amida, as well as the ichi-go ichi-e consciousness, to bring it all around. If you open the door, it's always right there, at hand.

Ichi-go, ichi-e consciousness and Infinite Light's New Earth. What have I done?

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