Seeing Without Looking
If you’re not yet familiar with Adi Da Samraj‘s image art on the Da Plastique website, I hope you’ll investigate. Aside from the purely spiritual reasons you may be interested, the artwork is remarkably interesting and stunningly beautiful. If only measured on the scale of His artistic achievements, He’d be considered very rare in His accomplishments. But the artwork was specifically created to ensure His Communication would be more fully given than could be communicated exclusively with language (my wife and I have the great fortune to own a couple of his works, Kaleidoscape #5047 & The Spherical Tower #283).
For me, one of the first things that jumps out in the artwork and photography is how the point of view is broken up. It seems to me that the images are composed and layered so that the notion of a single point of view or way of seeing the “scene” is not obvious. How much time is embedded in the image? Are the objects in the image the “subjects” or is somehow the many positions and elapsing of time of the viewer being evoked by the artwork to imply the viewer is actually the subject? Is there any point in analyzing the artwork in these terms? These are really not rhetorical questions! But I’m not entirely sure I’m actually asking any of them anyway.
Adi Da often responds to questions by reflecting back to the questioner the presumption of the separate self inherent in the question. Who asks what? Subject verb object.
I’ve found that one of the effects of this remarkable, ecstatic, blissful communion that’s replaced the previous baseline of being “A Cage” has been that I really don’t feel questions arising with much force beyond the questions that naturally arise from bodies interacting, “Did you pick up the milk yet or shall I?”.
But questions related to this spiritual process tend not to come up for me with any more substance than clouds that appear and dissolve. I am where I am in the process. I know that “Cage” didn’t figure anything out. The yoga unfolds by Grace. I’m not this body-mind. This noticing is now deeply “felt” and so my moment to moment relationship to being A Cage has become dreamlike. Do I ask questions in dreams?
When studying Adi Da’s teachings or listening to a talk I notice that answers and questions seem to arise simultaneously. I flip open a page in The Dawn Horse Testament (which I just finished recently…Jai, Jai Adi Da!!) or listen to an audio of Bhagavan’s teachings and something He says, that I’ve often read about or heard before, suddenly crystallizes as a “felt” understanding. I didn’t notice or realize I hadn’t understood before.
I already feel at depth, prior to the questioner, that all answers in the realm of mind and language will be inherently flawed, incomplete and untrue. Why ask?
Sorry! Humour does continue to arise. I find myself laughing with my entire body often now. I’ve actually started myself back into being Cage when I laughed with such force that it sounded and felt like someone nearby had laughed “too loud” for polite company. “Oh damn…was that my out loud voice?” Questions reflect the questioner!
Often, throughout the day, I find I’m just breathing in and out. Blissful. Not talking or moved to conversation. When, an inkling of a question beings to bubble up, it feels like pressure on the location where the bliss IS, but before it forms as an object of my attention, my body may fill with a deep breath and whatever was about to pull focus, fades back into the current of this moment’s ecstasy.
In fact, a lack of visual focus is another sign of the process that’s underway. Shortly after the understanding took root in that hunting field, I noticed that I would often find myself not really looking out into the world with much intensity, particularly during the everyday activities that didn’t really require my focused attention. So sitting in a living room with my family with the TV on, my body might be oriented to the screen but I would hardly be “looking”. It’s literally as though my eyes’ irises are not expanding or contracting to bring anything into detailed focus.
I can see the story unfolding on the screen, but much like my relationship to my overall body-mind, the force of my attention would not entirely lock down on the images on screen. I know exactly what’s going on in the movie. I’m not daydreaming or absent. In fact, the contrary seems to be true. I’m deeply present, but the actors and scenes don’t come into sharp focus. I know where I am in the story, the body-mind is right here, but I’m located where the bliss is.
I’ve described this strange reality in which I’m driving any vehicle and totally attentive, and yet simultaneously, I’m not the driver, because the body-mind is and I’m not exclusively equal to it. However, there are times when the scene comes into sharper focus.
For instance, I was driving my motorhome back from a major cross continent trip this July 20th and in the final hours before reaching Sun Peaks, I noticed a car coming head on toward me had begun to drift into our lane. The driver of this very small, convertible, two seater was clearly absent while driving now a foot into my lane. I was fully present enough to first swerve to the right, but on a two lane road with not much shoulder there wasn’t a lot my wide load could do moving right.
Further, if you know anything about big motorhomes like mine, with the back wheels set about 2/3rd of the way back instead of right at the back end, moving to the right causes my back end to swing hard to the left. While I was avoiding a head on collision that might have been the end of someone’s life, our “bus’s” back end was pushed further into his lane which then obscured the vision of the driver behind me heading the same direction as our RV.
Milliseconds after I avoided the front of my vehicle colliding with his a full three feet into our lane, the sports car started to correct his trajectory and in this same moment, I began steering back left to avoid going off the road and to pull my back end out of the way of his car which I was now seeing in my left side mirror. Thankfully, my swerving back left magnified the leverage on my tail end and pulled it far to the right away from the oncoming car. The last thing my mind registered was the big pickup truck behind me also swerving wildly to avoid killing the people in the small car and a moment’s flash of something red flying through the air.
Obviously, this nearly calamitous event generated conversation between Deb and I immediately, but what I noticed more than all the other details at that moment was that I was still immersed in the blissful, unfocused ecstasy of attention itself. My heartbeat probably picked up to generate the response needed in that moment to save someone’s life, but the experience of a heightened pulse never registered.
If this was a movie, this impossibly close near miss would have required many cameras to capture all the hair raising moments. Life imitating art!
This moment while noteworthy, was not the focus of that day nor barely of my feeling. When you’re not the body-mind, experiences are a lot like being in a dream. I’m not sure if it’s true for everyone, but I don’t see details when dreaming. The dreamworld is more felt that viewed.
I was listening to a talk by Adi Da the other day while waiting in a BC Ferry’s line and Adi Da specifically mentioned that one of the body-mind adaptations of the advancing stages of spiritual practice is that the eyes no longer tend to focus on the world in the normal way compulsively. I had not realized I had wondered about this in my own experience until His explanation. But for the past two years, I notice that I’m seeing without looking.
The body-mind doesn’t generally need to focus on the objects of the world around it any more than a mind needs to think compulsively. When there’s a good reason to use the mind to think, that’s when thinking should occur. When there’s a good reason to notice the details in the side view mirror of your motorhome while avoiding a collision, the eyes will focus.
The world is still arising to my attention but it feels like a dream with my eyes focusing as needed. Like Keats’ Grecian Urn, the world of The Beloved is felt to be Beauty and Truth. While I still awaken each morning as A Cage, I don’t yet see Only the Great One exclusively. And yet in the dreamlike conditions of this world often out of focus, I begin to feel how Adi Da’s image art was generated in a swoon of Love, free of point of view.