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Form and Formlessness

In meditating the other day I started to see how my experience, as a 12 or 13 year old, of the formless, as my mind flew past the edge of space and the return to my body through the funnels of light, each one having its own world and beings, where both form and formlessness were present together, is taken into account by the Buddhist model of causality that Joanna Macy calls dependent co-arising. In the formless state unaware of particularity there was an intuitive knowing of all things even without any awareness bounded objects. When returning to the awareness of my bounded living self I was aware of both form bound experience and formless at the same time. From either perspective both are inherent in each other, they dependently co-arise.

The way this came up in meditation was that in focusing on awareness of breathing I found that my mind wanted to fly out toward the formless. The two movements toward awareness of breath and flight toward awareness of formlessness seemed antagonistic at first but the false choice quickly became clear and the practice of awareness of breathing seemed to be a nice place to allow the two aspects of life to co-exist in my awareness. The western linear causal trap is to force a false choice to align with a causal starting point, so one side becomes the origin of the other, the source, the right side to identify with. It is much more true to my experience to regard them both as simultaneous and inherent in each other.

I owe a great debt to Buddha and Joanna Macy for this support of the teaching of dependent co-arising. There is a lot to learn in the process of unwinding my saturation with the false notion of linear causality. Maintaining the linear causal assumption is a largely subconscious culturally acquired process and there is a great subconscious effort and discomfort associated with holding tightly to the creation of false starting and ending points. When an insight unlocks the formerly unconscious holding of a linear causal assumption, in a particular area or circumstance of life, the release of the effort and discomfort is delightful. Then abiding in an awareness of the circumstance or life area as being, words are hard to find, whole and interconnected with no stress of start and end, problem, plan, action and goal, leaves you in a new relationship to what is happening in life. You can move about freely, returned to a natural process of engagement with your interconnected living. Most people when they hear this will imagine a sort of apathy, or passivity, that has not been my experience. When I am released from the prison of my own linear assumptions I flow more freely into life, give more to the living process of which I am an irreducibly wonderful and creative part. The motive for movement in this state is a natural attraction of being drawn by newly appreciated resonance with all things into deeper unfolding and participation in the interconnectedness of your living circumstance. The whole understanding of movement and motive from this perspective is different than that stimulated by life lived from the assumption of linear causality.

I”ll say more later as I discover more and have time to write it down. This is an unexpected follow up on my poem “I just want what Buddha had” several months ago.’, ‘Form and Formless’

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