There is a rapid river which sweeps us all through time. If we are sensitive to it, if we can see it, it feels almost as if we can count the atoms in our coffee cup. It is a buzzing energy which never stops and moves like a swift current set in motion by the big bang itself. When a practitioner chooses to break time apart in this manner of rapid nows, she realizes both how little time we have as well as the importance of continuous practice.
Have you walked through a spider web recently? It is a thin gossamer which easily stretches and tears without much fuss at all for us humans. Yet a spider traps, kills and eats around 2000 insects per year by ensnaring them in this same gossamer like web that we barely notice.
Though we have evolved far past the point where spider webs pose a danger for us, we have our own problems to contend with. Jealousy arises and we become caught in its web. Anger arises and we become stuck. Fear grips us and we become paralyzed. The best a human bound by the body/mind can do is to try to fight or deflect these webs, trying to arrange outer circumstances and delusional posturing to try and avoid coming into contact with these dangerous webs. A bigger house, plastic surgery, a louder voice, a more ridiculous ego or suicide around the holidays… you get the picture. Enlightenment brings us to the place where we clearly see not only the false picture of ourselves that we uphold, but also the underbelly of fear within each belief which drives us to uphold it.
Let’s imagine for a moment that there is a large snake living right in the middle of you, starting at your anus and rising through the top of your head. There is a larger part of us, however, which stands apart from the snake and sees this snake operating. By long term meditation practice and contemplation of who and what we are, the enlightened person not only sees the snake but completely gets beyond and negates the snake, coming to abide permanently in that which is aware of the snake. Hence, there is no fight in an enlightened person because the snake he thought he was is seen as just a dead rope. It is not alive, it does not have agency, it does not have spiritual intelligence – it is just reactionary regurgitation of fears and delusional solutions to these imagined threats.
So when you meet an enlightened person, you sense that they can see through you. This is because they are so familiar and done with the snake that a snake can no longer hide from them and none of the snake’s lies or webs or traps can any more ensnare the enlightened one’s awareness because the enlightened one is awareness itself. Yes, she still has a body and still has a snake and all the lessons she’s learned from the snake. But having the snake is like having hair for the enlightened one, she doesn’t think about it that much.
Because the enlightened one can abide in awareness beyond the snake, she seems to leave no trace and become, in many respects, invisible. Because things like identity, fear, doubt, confusion, anger, jealousy and hatred only exist in the snake, it appears that her mind is too deep to be fathomed. It is not that it is only deep, but also wide. She contains and untangles the human snake because even as we call it a snake it is nothing but fragments and has no inherent reality beyond these fragments. Our snake may recoil at the site of her but this only betrays our weakness and the work we have yet to do. We may call her power radical honesty, but this radical honesty is only the beginning. We may call her sharp or cutting, but it is only our web of confusion she cuts. Were we not confused there would be nothing to cut.
Abiding right here, right now, yet altogether in a different way, we see only part of one who is enlightened because we do not yet have the capacity to see all of her. In the same way, we do not have the capacity to see all of ourselves. In reality we are one with her yet will not let ourselves see it this way. The work we do is a wholesale microcosm of the work she does. The problems she works on and the qualities she cultivates have less to do with what is relative and more to do with what is absolute. She works for us all while we know only to toil for our snake.
Meeting someone who is in the world but not of it is a blessing. It is a shame to dismiss it and an even bigger shame not to see it or to file it recklessly in the context of what we already think we know. True learning is not stealing concepts to integrate into our little perspective but abandoning all perspective to become something altogether beyond perspective.
The way is inside of us, the door is open to everyone and time moves very quickly. When we meet someone who is unbound by our bonds and clear about our confusion the only reasonable course of action is to practice as hard as we can to attain as much as we can in the little time we have. There is an evolution beyond the inner webs which ensnare us with anger, desire, fear and vexation. This evolution is well documented and there are many lamps guiding our way if we would only reach out and choose freedom. Moreover, as we begin to see clearly we realize that enlightenment is everywhere, in everyone and everything. The same world that was dark is now light and all beings are Buddha.