Small Ground and Large Ground

The witness sees the ground of the ego’s being.
Who sees the ground of the witness’s being?

At every point, in this fractal field we call our life, the scale telescopes to larger or smaller scale. In surveying the choices of our activities, there is endless opportunity; and in each of those possible selections, there is yet a different array of more specialized choices, each zooming to infinite potential for our involvement.

Recently I was researching TV series, following the recommendations of a few friends. In the reviews a common refrain was, “addictive… sucks you in… watch one and you’ll be hooked for the series.” Mind you, that’s for each series. There were lists of top 50, top 100 series. Another index listed thousands. And that’s just TV series, backlogged. Meanwhile I bought three books at the bookstore one day, and three more on Kindle. How many can I read at once? That night I gave ten minutes each to these six new titles—and each wanted to suck me in.

Faced with the dilemma of “so much to do, so little time,” I pull back. I take refuge in my meditation practice: rationed to twenty minutes in the morning, to allow time for the rest of my necessary—that is, chosen—life activity. All the chakras and their representative areas of life deserve focus, after all; not just chakra 7, the spiritual. There’s yoga and exercise (chakra 1), shopping, errands and repairs (chakra 2), work for income and vocational satisfaction (3), social and community time (4), music practice (5), writing and reading (6). I suppose TV series can fit in there somewhere, or on the side. Back to the spiritual perspective, I wonder: is it all optional, can I leave it all aside?

Then, of course, a whole world of diversion is also contained within the spiritual envelope. There are various methodologies of meditation; philosophical schools of understanding; readings and teachings to absorb and ponder; satsangs and retreats; a cornucopia of teachers, each with their own following, their own demands for commitment, discipline, focus.

So I come back to a recent insight provided in one of my recent readings, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

In our twenty-minute meditation, we are lucky enough to glimpse, to taste the peace of just being, in what might be called the ground of our individual being, upon which the figures of our life activity play out. Resting in that ground, we may be content to call that our daily version of enlightenment.

But then we may encounter—if we are luckier still, or diligent enough in our practice—an opening to a larger ground of being, the all-encompassing ground of pure Being itself, universal, all-pervading, inclusive of everyone’s individual lives and deaths and grounds of being. Zooming out to this universal view, there is nowhere farther to go, nothing to get sucked into, nothing in fact to do at all. There is no “I” left in the picture: except as an infinitesimal portion of the whole. Then there is, again, no agenda, no dilemma.

 

The analogy of the house

Sitting quietly in a room within your house
You realize it’s the antechamber of the Great Hall.

Sitting quietly in a room within your house, the first level of transcendence brings consciousness outside the body to the house it resides in; aware of the movements of the tenants upstairs, the sounds of the furnace and fridge, and the sounds filtering into the house from outside. The house is the first realm to broaden to, past one’s body, mind and resident room. Then why stop there? There are infinitely higher levels of transcendence to go through: the neighborhood, the city, the region and province, the nation, the continent, the planet itself, solar system, galaxy, super galaxy, universe, multiverse…

Meanwhile there is also the corresponding journey within, to the great spaces which telescope likewise to infinity in the microcosmos. The large ground is all of that and more.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate.
Go beyond, beyond the beyond, utterly beyond.

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