Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Shadow and the Song

We really are surrounded by the most breathtaking beauty - it's a wonder we get anything done!

The reason why we don't see the opulence of beauty around us, is because we have become numb to it.

All the time, our senses long for more. What is right in front of us isn't good enough.

The Just Mode of Perception is the term I coined a few years ago. It's how the majority of us perceive the world around us.

And it comes about by believing that what we observe, be it a tree, a flower, a cloud, an animal or a person, is the label we attach to it.

I touch upon this in my book, The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair.

Krishnamurti is known for saying, 'As soon as you teach the child the name of the bird, he will never see that bird again.'

We look at a blackbird and we say, 'It's just a blackbird.' But, as a child, when we first saw a bird we were no doubt amazed. Then someone tells us the name of the nameless thing we were amazed by. 'That's a BIRD.'

So we attach BIRD to this object, which before was without a label. Then when we see another BIRD we say, 'Oh, it's a BIRD.' Then as time goes on, the ornithologist in us might want to know what kind of BIRD it is. 'What bird is that?' you ask. 'That's a blackbird,' you're told.

Then the inevitable happens; the next time you see a BLACKBIRD you say, 'It's just a blackbird, I want to see something else now.'

Magic and wonder - gone.

If we become conscious of this pattern of perceiving the world, straight away it starts to undo itself. And as soon as that happens the light of immense beauty begins to scintillate around us once again.

I'm not saying labels are wrong or bad. They're very useful for communicating. It's how we differentiate between a tree and an ant, for instance - we describe the different characteristics. But what has happened is that we have formulated a habit of believing the object is the label we attach to it.

Labelling has always been a method for separating this from that.

It's not a tool to know what something is.   

A few days ago I was on my delivery and I heard a blackbird sing, but my perception of it changed instantly. It changed so that I didn't actually hear the blackbird sing. I don't know what I heard. But I can tell you how it felt when I heard the unknown: it was like nothing I had ever heard before. It flowed so smoothly and dipped and dived and swept and curled - and it did none of those things! Because it just was.

Then instantly a pigeon flew overhead and splashed its shadow on the pavement in front of me. The whole process, but this time with my eyes, not my ears, started all over again. I saw the shadow of the pigeon but I didn't see the shadow of the pigeon. It just was. And because I observed it without a label what I perceived was breathtaking.

Simple, day to day, occurrences, and with a flick of a switch their real identity - which will always remain unknown - becomes known.

You can't beat a good-old Zen paradox.


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