I can recall only one mystical experience. In an eternal moment I felt myself expand out into the cosmos and then zoom into the micros. Imminence and transcendence, the temporal and eternal, corporal and spiritual, telescopic and microscopic… all hang out in the same universal bar at the same universal party. They sing fun drinking songs while we hunt for them in self-help books and churches and universities and the words of experts. They welcome anyone to the open bar but we are too busy with the mundane (“Life is frittered away with details” -Thoreau) or too busy perusing and pursuing profundity to attend.
A Zen saying is that all Truth is paradox. “Paradox” is the label we give to stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into our dichotomous demands. The universe, thankfully, isn’t as limited as our thinking. But I really didn’t start this to talk about Mandalas singing and dancing in a bar. That silly metaphor wasn’t even in my head when I started this. What I was thinking about when I started this is Perspective, particularly how something tiny and often unnoticed can be not just enough, but completely meaningful and fulfilling. I am not just talking about a what is obviously meaningful like a baby’s smile, I am talking about a grain of salt, a pinch of an herb, a ripe strawberry… . We are starving in our culture of excess and addictions. We are lonely though we surf an ocean of human connections. We are sex addicts who find holding hands uncomfortably intimate. And in the land of literal, on the corporal plane, we are obese but malnourished.
“Satis quid sufficit: Enough is as good as a feast,” -Holophernes. Enough is BETTER than a feast. If we are not happy with enough, we are miserable with excess. If we don’t appreciate healthy and nourishing portions, it isn’t possible to appreciate what is unhealthy and non-nourishing. Addiction isn’t appreciation. Addiction is fear- and scarcity-based. Addiction is control and we run the hamster wheel trying to control the control of addiction. Most (if not all) addictions start with a displaced reprieve from some pain. I ate that fruit pie and felt comforted. I felt life was a sweet celebration that first trip to McDonald’s that included a HAPPY meal with toy. A sugar rush from a “breakfast food” while we watched cartoons and dad LAUGHED is what I want to feel every Saturday morning… . The second high isn’t as high as the first but we keep chasing it until we are just stuffing unhealthy foods down our throats out of habit. And now that “food” is actually physically toxic and addictive, we are in a crisis of which too many are completely unaware.
And we all feel we are in this alone. I was struck when I first heard the line, “I look at all the lonely people,” from Eleanor Rigby. Why is it we feel even more alone in crowds? Why is it more painful to feel lonely in a relationship than when we are just alone? It’s disconnection. We are not just disconnected from nature, we are disconnected from ourselves. Even as we assess, inflate, defame, adore, compare, despise, esteem… each other we not only do not connect, we disconnect. We fear connection. We have apprehensions about the wounds that will result. The fear is as legitimate as a pregnant women worrying labor will hurt–but the best stuff results from labor.
I’ll wrap this up with the opening lines of