In the Woods, Outside the Body
  Meditation & the Acceptance of Life









In the Woods, Outside the Body

When god came down through the tops of the trees, dropping like a luminous speer from the black of the night, I at once remembered myself. My meakness, my nakedness, my desire to know god and the immediate knowledge that although I had convinced myself that god did not exist, the truth was that I had believed in him more than ever.

Myself, caught somewhere between sheer terror and disbelief, observed a cross with a dagger-like middle: seemingly on fire, but without flames, bursting with sound, but in complete silence, and completely suspended in mid-air, but without as much as a cloud around to hold it’s bold form.

To say that I was speechless would only begin to encompass the dynamic shift that had suddenly occurred within me. It was like being struck by lightning while swimming underwater, the miracle of which allowed me the ability to breathe in the water itself. There was no feeling of myself and yet, that non-feeling felt as though it had 'come home'. In that moment, I had ceased to be human. In fact, I knew nothing of humanness whatsoever. There was absolute space without end and although I can recall the experience as plain as yesterday’s breakfast, there was no feeling of ‘me’ there at that time. Whatever became of me simply was.

There was the wind. There was the trees. There was the darkness splintered by this magnificent, luminous cross. It was.

Devout Catholics may behold the pure splendor of the Virgin Mary, devoted Hindus may be overcome with the sound of Krishna’s flute, but I who had denounced the Church, the Almighty God and my friend Jesus whom I had once held so close, now stood in shame at the deep deception I had played upon my own heart.

The glow of the cross cast shadows amongst the many trees within the forest that surrounded me and now those shadows were growing. They grew across the darkness, long and rising against the trunks of the other trees. They grew up and planted themselves firmly next to the trees which bore them. Then, as if this great army of shadows was indeed one great spirit, they moved in perfect unison, approaching without steps.

If it had been me there, I surely would have run like a madman cursing the strange tricks my mind was playing upon me. But there was no personal feeling there to make haste, no feeling to turn against what it wished not to see. The army of shadows, born of the trees in the space which I shared with them simply was. I knew at once who they were, like a mother knows her newborn child whom, although she has never seen the baby, knows the child on such a deep intimate level that neither thought nor word could ever explain the relationship sufficiently. They showed themselves to me not because I was to learn something from them, but because they were the protectors of the life there and I had somehow been projected out of my own life and into their space.

It is difficult to say these words without seeing the apparent contradiction in the word 'I'. For again, it was not ‘I’ that had been separated from my life, but there was something there that was able to perceive these events clearly. And as I write these words, it is only the storage of this experience in my own brain that I use to relate the event to you now. I was not there, and yet something of my life had been.

Once within a close proximity of my presense within the woods and the cross that hung overhead, the shadows stood still. At this point was the first time in which I distinctly remember the feeling that my body was near. In a rather humorous way, I also had the quick impression that the body was feeling pain in it’s feet. If I followed this impression it grew stronger and there was a sense of being pulled back into the body itself, while at the same time the ‘sight’ of the cross and the shadow army that surrounded me grew less vivid. Like a man who loses his balance for a moment, only to quickly regain it, the non-self pushed away the body and returned to it’s center.

The body is like an agitated child in need of constant attention. However, when the non-self sees this state clearly, it can allow the body it’s agitation without discouraging or encouraging it in any sense. Wisdom sees that the more the body scratches, the more it itches. Therefore, when the identification with non-self gives birth to wisdom, the body neither scratches nor itches, there is simply a feeling which is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. In that moment in the woods, the non-self was in full power and the resulting wisdom let go of the body’s call without a second of hesitation.

If there is no thought, does time have any place in our experience? This apparition came to me in an instant, yet did not frame itself in either a question or an answer. In the observation of the body’s call and the freedom of the non-self to choose to answer or not, this wisdom appeared like a budding flower in a well-tilled garden. Time is of the body and the army of shadows agreed without any action nor feeling. The cross that shone above radiated a white fire and I could feel the heart within the body fill itself with pleasure as it now seemed to be experiencing things along with me. It was beginning to pull at the freeness of spirit once more. It ached to be recognized, acknowledged, known.

Perhaps I had gone far enough, the thoughts were beginning. My feet hurt. The rain has made me wet. Perhaps I will get sick. Are my friends watching me? My legs are stiff. I shall go there again someday.


in the woods
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