2/07/2010

Many Eyes With One Heart












I don't know when this shift occurred. I know I used to think of my mind as separate. But after many years of meditation, the notion of separation just withered away. When did it happen? Was it a gradual thinning of veils, or did I wake up one morning, a wave of transparency in an ocean of Being, and didn't even notice?

Somewhere along the years I dropped the 'my' from awareness. Now, when 'I' become aware of awareness, it is no long 'mine.' Awareness is a sea where every human mind is a wave. At its peak, a wave is individualized; but at its base, every wave is every other wave. Every wave is the whole sea.

This is true both in wave physics and metaphysics. Founder of quantum mechanics, Sir Arthur Eddington, said: 'When the electron vibrates, the whole universe shakes.' St. Paul wrote, 'We all have the mind of Christ.' (1 Cor. 2:16) We are both individual and All in the same moment. If an electron can do it, we can.

The notion of a separation between 'your' awareness and 'mine' seems false to me now. Certainly we each have our own thoughts. And we each have separate egos constructed out of our most cherished thoughts. But underlying our thought-waves is one oceanic Self. This is not my 'belief,' for that would be a thought. This is the experience of my core silence.

We're all thinking ourselves into separate islands of brain. But if we gather together in meditation, in sat-sang, or in Quaker meeting for worship, and our 'minds' become silent together even for an instant, are there many silences? How can there be more than one silence?

When I was in seminary, I was impressed by the Islamic philosopher, Averroes, in Moorish Spain. He debated St. Thomas Aquinas over the nature of the intellect. Thomas argued that we all have separate intellectual souls. He defined the soul as 'the form of the body.' For Averroes, on the other hand, beneath our separate 'active intellects' we share a single 'passive intellect': the ever silent boundless witness, whose pure unmoving awareness watches all the fury and folly of thought.

St. Thomas went home to Paris and founded a university based on the Islamic model. His followers assumed (I guess because they were white European Christians) that they had won the debate with Averroes. From then on, Western culture was saddled with the notion of a separate soul bound to the form of its body. Thomas' view derived from Aristotle, while Averroes was a Platonist. If we had followed Plato and Averroes, rather than Aristotle and Thomas, how different the trajectory of Western culture would look! We would become the Na'vi of Pandora instead of military technocrats who invade oil-rich Third World nations. Each citizen would feel like 'we the people' instead of 'me the owner.'

The Chinese character for virtue is 'teh', as in the Tao Teh Ching. 'Teh' consists of several pictograms: 'many people,' 'ten eyes' and 'one,' all resting on 'heart.' A sublime picture of Virtue, isn't it? Many of us, with our collective visions, all at rest in a single heart.

Let America be many eyes with one heart. This was the vision of Lakota chief Crazy Horse, which he shared four days before U.S. soldiers murdered him: 'I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center in you and I am in that place in me, we shall be as one.'

Can Americans stop arguing about beliefs, ideologies and religions? Can we begin every project, great or small, by meditating together? Can we begin each day with the wondrous rediscovery that there is only one silence, the silence of the heart? Then truth will set us free: ideas may conflict with ideas, and egos with egos, but awareness is never in conflict with itself.

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