New Organs of Knowing
There are organs of knowledge almost unknown. Obviously the brain, that collector of facts and master of educated guesses. But the body is also an organ of knowledge, the whole body head to toe. Feeling as well, the emotional quality is an organ of knowledge. But even all three are only the tip of the iceberg.
The brain with its inductive logic draws generalized conclusions from finite collections of specific data. Often wrong. It mixes, mingles, mangles bodily and emotive input with logic and spews forth superstitions such as ‘self’, ‘birth,’ and ‘death.’ In our time and culture, body and feeling go almost unrecognized and so their potentialities uneducated.
Each of these organs can act as collectors of knowledge, bits and pieces of information collated and filed. Bits of past stored for retrieval and applied to the ever shifting present. This can be useful for getting to the grocery store, but little else. Each of these organs also has a higher possibility that seldom is actualized. The lower functioning of these organs is like a child that never grows up, increasingly distorted and bizarre.
The spiritual path is simply the function, the activity, of human growth – growth beyond the somewhat childish norm. When the organ of brain, and the associated consciousness, is matured, then it develops a profound Silence as its base. All normal functions can operate in this Silence but the action of random and confused identifications, associations and thoughts cease. In this Silence, all facts of perception are help in tremendous sensitive alertness and there is direct perception without the alienating mediation of ‘subject’ and ‘object.’
When body is matured, then it becomes a vehicle for incarnating Love, which is the mature aspect of the feeling organ. Body is like a shirt hanging on a hanger but in this case the hanger is a subtler construct of pathways and energies whose natural mature function is to give form to Love’s expression. When this is the case then body is also a profound container of bliss, pleasure, and wisdom even when it is sick or injured. As the yogi Milareapa said, “Feels good, feels even better, feels so good even feeling bad feels good.”
Feeling matured, like mind, loses most of its content which is simply the fretful, anxious, desperate action of a child trying to maneuver in an adult world. Feeling loses self concern, hope, fear, aggression and this is replaced by the simplicity of perceiving beauty and Love. Feeling then is no longer in doubt of Love and in the fullness of love, versus the ceaseless wondering “Am I loved?”, it lives the body as expression.
When these three are matured, calibrated by maturity, disciplined in function, then a fourth mysterious organ of knowledge is born from their synergy. This is the ability for that which is beyond consciousness, or even Being, to be recognized in its functioning through the body/mind/feeling state. In our tradition, we call this natural great awareness – the bright knowing that is not confused by the notion that there is ‘someone’ knowing or some thing ‘known.’ It is non self-reflexive awareness. It is what Meister Eckart referred to when he said, “You can not know God you can only be God.” You can not know this deep mystery because it is not an object of any sort. It is not even ‘the knowing’ or the ‘awareness’ – that is only its functioning. It is pure irreducible mystery. Awareness, as the functioning of this mystery is the fourth organ of knowledge.
Only when the mind is Silent, utterly alone, is there the possibility of right action arising from direct knowing. When the mind has been made tremendously supple, when it does not run after those shadows called desires (that inevitably become our masters and we their slaves) or fleeing from fears, then it can come to know freedom. Freedom is the self sensation of a mature mind in deep Silence. Then there can be direct seeing and this seeing, unburdened by presumptions, opinions, untouched by anxiety or self concern is also direct knowing.
For feeling the self sensation is Love, to inhere within an ocean of Love. For body, the self sensation is Stillness and bliss. These are available at any time, even when external circumstances are not pleasant or comfortable. This inherence relieves the mind from the burden of trying to manipulate attraction, aversion, and indifference, in dependence on uncontrollable externals, into happiness.
The path is not another conditioning, but a series of exercises help mind, feeling, and body mature into their natural adult state. A state that is almost unknown in human culture. If this work is not engaged, then the subtle muscles of these organs become flaccid, weak, corrupted. Eventually, the organs themselves degrade and are consumed by the cancer of endless self concern – the fretful effort to secure security, comfort, and pleasure in circumstances in which that is not possible. Like bringing water to a boil – a series of quantitative changes produces a qualitative leap.
This morning, the pale blue sky, perfect and still ... suddenly a mouse scurries across the porch. Motion in stillness, sound within silence - not two, not even one. The silent pine saw it also.