So there I am. On my giant sofa, curled up into a little ball. The BBC’s playing classical music to calm me. I hate classical music. The doctors have given me weeks to live. The sun’s rising. I’m over the grief. Just trying to sleep. Eyes closed.
Snap. Suddenly, I’m in a different place. There’s nothing here. Just a soft white light, like a cotton ball. Yet it’s not light. It’s like the light in all light. It’s radiating not just like a flashlight but like a heart. Compassion, love. It’s illuminating like a pure moment of seeing, not a searchlight. It’s seeing me seeing myself. I’m not in it, it’s not in me. It’s flowing through me as if I was never there.
I open my eyes. The light is shining through everything. Not on everything. Deep in the heart of everything. Every tree, building, person. Yet I’m not seeing it with my eyes. I’m seeing it with the very same part of that light that’s in me. It’s like a million mirrors all reflecting one source.
Wait. WTF! Is this a figment of my imagination? It feels more real than reality itself. I try to ignore it, dismiss it as the silly fiction of a sick, needy, mind. And yet. I start to go back to that place, whenever I need to be recharged with solace, strength, compassion. And I am. I can’t not see it shining through everything, no matter how I tell myself to get a grip.
I am a die hard empiricist. I can’t make any sense of it. Have I lost my mind? And yet, as I think about it, I realise three things. It is the most peaceful and loving place I’ve ever been. An ocean. It’s pure and boundless, with no notion of time or space. And somehow, everything is “made” of it. Made is a metaphor, I realise. Everything is realised from it, by realising everything else. But beyond the little phenomenal existence of trees and selves and time and objects, there is just this light of pure awareness, which I can see without seeing.
So I read and I read, utterly baffled, mystified. Not sure whether dying has taken away my reason. Finally, after a year – I don’t die – I come across the Tibetan description of Rigpa. Pure being. The base of existence. It has three properties. Luminosity, awareness, the energy of love. It has exactly the sane three properties that left me bewildered, at peace, full of grace. Pure being. The essence of all that is. Final reality. Now I had a little clarity.
I see a blade of grass. A little puppy experiences it very differently. It smells, hears, touches it. The tree experiences it differently still. The blade of grass experiences itself still differently. Through all these experiences, the “blade” is coming into being. It is becoming an object and subject of awareness. Many awarenesses. But what is there, really?
In reality, behind all these experiences, which are just thoughts in minds, there is no “thing”. Just pure possibility, which is the light of awareness seeing itself. There is no blade, no puppy, no tree, no you. Each sees the next its own way and thus mentally divides up the experience of pure being. That pure light of possibility separates into spectra and objects and things, by imagining thoughts in mind.
We are awareness seeing itself in tiny ways. Different ways. Just little fleeting facets of it. We divide it up into trees and puppies and people and blades of grass. That is the source of our suffering and pain and hurt. Then there is desire, anger, envy, and so on. When we return to oneness, as we do during sex, creation, communion, moments where we lose ourselves, we gain a little contact with pure being again.
That is what love is, and in that way you are an expression of love. Made from love, you will come home to love. You are a little river returning to the ocean. All the pain and hurt and fear we feel in life is distance from pure being.
I didn’t find pure being. It found me. What did I learn? Nothing at all. What did I forget? Everything. That light that illuminates light itself shines through us. We are just its expressions, sometimes it’s shadows. And always, in every moment, we are its children.