At a recent evening group at the Monastery I heard myself say, “Let’s make 2019 the year we are able to articulate clearly how to recognize when we’re identified with ego, when we’re experiencing ourselves as an illusion of being separate from Life.” One of the monks said, “I think we already have that. You wrote a blog about it a few years ago. I can’t remember what the blog was called, but I’m sure it exists.”
Around the same time, while reviewing the Daily Peace Quotes I came across one by Thich Nhat Hahn that goes something like this: The moment of enlightenment for the wave is when it realizes it’s water, and its fear of death vanishes. When I looked it up, there were lots of references to the wave realizing it’s the ocean, but that is a very different point. He referred to the wave and the ocean of everything but not simply the wave and the ocean. Not that I could find anyway.
The difference between “the wave realizes it’s the ocean” and “the wave realizes it’s water” is everything.
How could the wave realize it’s identified with ego? (Stay with me, please.) There are several places that could happen.
- The wave is just rolling along, waving along, immersed in the life of a wave, not much concerned about where it came from or where it’s going. It has heard rumors about “crashing on the shore,” but having had no experience of such a thing, and despite a little anxiety, there’s a sense of “probably won’t happen to me.”
- The wave encounters some obstacles, rocks and reefs, etc., that break up its run and there’s a lot of, “I don’t like this, why is this happening to me” grumpiness.
- Time goes by and the wave has a growing sense of déjà vu. This whole thing feels very old and familiar. Other waves support this. “Yeah, there are always waves, we’re waves, we’ve always been waves, wave is just what we do.”
- Wave continues to roll along and, one day, right up there at the top, a great view of everything forever, and an insight drops in—I’m part of the ocean!
- Focused on returning to that great view of vastness, the wave looks around and sees, “I am not the ocean, the ocean is me.”
- “This is great,” thinks the wave. “I love awareness! I wonder what else it’s possible to see.”
- Rolling along, all senses tuned, fully alert, awake, aware…. It drops in. “I am water.”
No…. “Water is me.”
Currently, this little wave is engaged in writing The Communication Book. I adore the process. The only process that fully competes for that “favorite” title is email classes. Why? Because, immersed in those activities there is constant awareness of Life animating. I sit, put my hands on the computer keys, and which key to depress is clear to me. Sometimes there’s a whole sentence or a way to move things around or a point that needs to be clarified that appears in my head. Sometimes it’s more like taking dictation.
Does this mean I think everything that “comes out” is good? I don’t see thinking about that as my job. My job, my delight, is showing up and putting my fingers on the keys.
There are other aspects of what I do that I also adore: workshops and retreats, radio shows, group discussions. But sometimes, when it’s time to do those things, I don’t want to. Never the writing; just the “in person” activities. Maybe I’m tired. I don’t feel particularly inspired.
As I was looking at that difference, it dropped in! That’s it. That’s being identified with the wave as part of the ocean! As the wave, even with awareness of being a part of the ocean, there’s enough “separate self” identification to be seeing Life from “other” rather than “oneness.” And while there’s nothing wrong with it, that “other” cannot have an experience of oneness. The separate self, what experiences itself as other than the water, is simply incapable of “knowing” water.
This explains why as soon as the activity is over I’m aware of loving it. The “fingers were on the keys” and “I” was joyfully seated at the feet of All That Is. The wave knows that “the water is all of me,” and sometimes that knowing dissolves into water.