Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning in August of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
June 29, 2010
Student: And if I am what is prior to understanding, who is there left to understand?
Michael: Understanding becomes, at this very point, utterly trivial. The real work is to relax into this spaciousness, and engage life from that openness. Embody truth… right now. Repeat as necessary and watch what happens.
Student: Let me try it this way: if we are what is prior to thought, movement and arising of any kind…are we able to ever see this priorness? It is awareness, and it is infinitely that, there, before everything else, but, and this gets weird, is the being prior without seeing? Or is the being the same as seeing? Is it just that it is w/out mind-seeing, so it cannot be described but is simply known? How is it known without description? If the Self is to be known fully, is this what must be seen?
Michael: Nice. Not sure which question to address first, so I’ll ask an old question from an old source in order to point stuff out. The Surangama Sutra asks, “Why is it that we can’t see the seeing?” Seeing the priorness comes from contraction. Being the priorness consciously allows for the expanse to manifest within us. More directly, Being is what gives birth to seeing. It’s like a mirror held in front of a mirror without anything in between; what’s seen there in that spacious? An unending echo of an infinite reflection? Being is that infinite reflection; like an object sandwiched by mirrors allowing for somethingness to be born and seen. Again we go back to the whole basis for the core of this teaching where we get a sense of the unborn, unmade, and uncreated aspects of that alive spaciousness between our thoughts that we call Being. There is no change there in that spaciousness. It’s just raw, unstained Awareness that doesn’t ever move. Never has, never will.
Student: Why is there ever any movement then? Is it an erroneous assumption that awareness wants to see itself? Is what wants to know the Self a contracted aspect of Self?
Michael: Yeah, which takes us back to “why is there anything at all?” Maybe its because, as the saying goes, God doesnt want to dine alone. Its a mystery that can make us laugh and at times cry. Relaxing into this space, into the wonder of not-knowing, seems to be the only space in which the realization beyond the knowing can arise. Weird, huh? While awareness doesn’t want anything, on the one hand, it seems to have fun when it can have dance partners. No-thing/something. One/many. Emptiness/complete fulfillment. Not one/not two. Not this/not that. Neti-neti
Student: Alright. Okay. Consciousness here is taking a chill-pill, as that other saying goes. Back to breathing.
Michael: Good plan… and repeat as necessary.