Thou, Silent Form
We spent some time yesterday experimenting with wordless speech. After all, the most important part of what anyone ever says shines from behind the words or lurks around them. We used an exercise to isolate this silent part. It is the very power of speaking itself.
For our central meditation, though, we dove into the 59th Case from the Blue Cliff Record, as discussed in the previous email. And we sandwiched this focus between glances toward those whom we loved, and who loved us, and who have died.
At the end, we released our grasp on the good of the session. But the good lingered, hovering among us, unreleaseable after all.
What struck me somewhere along in this session, struck me hard enough to surprise me with tears, was the ferocity of the question: Who gave us the power of speech, the power of thinking? Who or what made it possible for us to receive, from time to time, a new idea or to formulate one for ourselves? Who or what prompts the fresh love?
And that it is a gift was so clear, and that the Giver is neither a “who” nor a “what” in our normal conception. Just as college kids these days want to choose the pronoun by which others address them, finding the standard-issue pronouns inadequate, we need to load our questioning use of “who” and “what” with different ore if we are to inquire after the Giver.
Leaving that aside, let’s consider this. To really know another person, and even to be known, you have to give up something –- privacy, self-protection, grasping, the ego as separate self. It’s a kind of death. So for next week, we’ll begin to shift from a direct contemplation of speech to a direct contemplation of death in some of its many aspects.
Case 55 from the Blue Cliff Record links un-sayability or intentional non-designation, with the question of life after death. That’s where we’ll go next, allowing the Zen style – like Keats’s Grecian urn – to tease us out of thought.
All blessings to all,