J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 5
“Who is here is what is there.”
– Ibn al-Arabi
Now in the quiet of the year the night comes close to earth. Peaceful, impersonal night. It touches your face with its coldness as you make your way through the snowy woods, it touches the tracks of a mouse in the snow, it surrounds the thin moon to the East and the dark branches of the trees. Night. Between the branches, your home galaxy glistens, a great banner of stars.
You stop. You stop making noise crunching through the snow. You stop the small concerns of your thoughts. You join the night in its stillness. You stand there alone, wondering, wondering what’s happening and what you are. Your wondering has no words; it doesn’t presume it knows anything. It doesn’t look for an answer.
An owl swoops through the trees and pulls up, wings wide, stopping on a high branch. You watch its small dark shape, framed by stars. You are alone together.
The owl, the galaxy — you wonder how the galaxy turned itself into all this — into the owl and you and into the trees and the tracery of the mouse’s footprints in the snow. You wonder how the galaxy flung all this out of itself, and how it keeps on turning into everything in this quiet moment as if it were a living being, an aliveness inside everything that doesn’t stop becoming snow and branches and moments. You feel the intimacy of this happening, the galaxy turning now into the warmth of your body and the mist of your breathing.
Your wondering lands like the owl on the very edge of the moment. The woods are quiet. What is inside of you, your privacy, loses its boundary and opens into the trees and the dark air, opens into a presence so familiar you feel it is you without you, the same presence of galaxy and night and owl, a presence of everything in everything.
And then, for an instant, something unbearable shines forth. Unnamable, indescribable — only later do you call it Bliss or say it felt like the Original Bliss of creation, ananda, the ever-present undisclosed radiance of a Happiness so exquisite and kind it bequeaths everything everywhere and resolves everything everywhere, all loneliness, loss, suffering, death resolved without erasure in its infinite wonder.
Suddenly the owl drops from its branch and vanishes in the darkness. Just as suddenly the unbearable epiphany vanishes and you are left, almost invisible, standing in the dark woods in the quiet of the year.