Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning the Summer of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
August 10, 2010
Student: Your words during last night’s Dharma talk invited understanding but not with the mind, and I know this because I can’t remember a word you said. How does one know there is understanding, if it doesn’t take residence in the mind?
Michael: Curious isn’t it? When understanding doesn’t need any foundation or any familiar kind of strip on which to land it often hits us in ways that feel really unfamiliar. It’s a bit of a mystery, as if we can see with, and from, our hearts.
Student: It seems as though when the mind tries to make sense out of chaos, it feels like it has to dodge bullets, but when the heart accepts chaos, and sees, it looks just like wind and the infinite naturalness remains unbothered.
Michael: Beautifully said.
Student: On another point, you also mentioned that standing or teetering on the edge of our experience of reality, or something like that, is an invitation to take another step. Where do you step after that last step has been taken?
Michael: Quite simply, one realizes that they can stop stepping toward or away from anything. Put another way we take a leap, fearing that we won’t be able to fly, which of course we can’t. But the big realization is that we don’t need to fly because there is no longer any gravity to resist. We start to see that we just can’t hit any ground. Just like we “fall” in love, so too do we “fall” awake.
Student: Or soar awake?
Michael: That works. The main point is that the “you” doesn’t step any longer. It has disappeared, in order to potentially to reintegrate as a “You” that sees with its eyes and its heart. The heart recognizes that All is one, one is many, All is many. One gem with many facets. One chocolate mousse, lots of fat. Wait… sorry. I have a weakness for chocolate. I try to stare at that with the heart but not get caught up in the indulgence of it.
Anyway, to go back a little, always explore any seeing with an open heart. Then start to “stare” at experience, without sunglasses, from this opening. Just know that the clarity may destroy the defenses that you’ve been using to get through an egoically oriented life.
Student: But this is the goal.
Michael: Okay. Just don’t cling to that idea. Stare at the experience, with your heart, and then let go.