Note: This was first posted in March 2009. The words, quoted freely here, are from one of our scriptures (Sandokai), keep entering my mind. Here they come again…they speak to this post.
End and beginning here
return unto source
And high and low are used respectively.
Light goes with darkness
As the sequence does of steps in walking.
In the fields, drifts of lambs. Laying.
In the lanes and gardens, drifts of snowdrops. Waving.
Signs of spring.
Just now a Ewe walked up with lamb in tow. She walked so close, she looked so intently. Do we know each other, I thought. But I held the space. We gazed on, and there was mutual acknowledgment. Obviously, we don’t speak the same language however, a meeting can take place without the conventions of a common language. At least I like to think that the meeting is not bound to language.
In the conversation over the past days and weeks this kind of direct acknowledgment, with the added benefit of a common language, has enriched my days. Meaningful exchanges? Meaning exchanged. Great sounding isn’t it, meaningful exchanges! But I’m not so happy about using the expression. Two words that don’t really convey much of anything. And certainly not the color, tone, quality or depth of conversation.
We jokingly talk about being divided by a common language – the joke mostly comes up in North America. The same could be said here in Britain too. We do our best and for the most part, the meaning is conveyed and quite surprising, to me, spiritual meaning is derived from relatively ordinary exchanges. And often the most powerful teaching is derived from ordinary everyday events. Not so much what is said, more the way it is said. Amazing! I think that is to do with the sincerity of the listener, the ability to drop down past the words and derive a deeper meaning. Meaning becomes the listener’s gift to themselves.
But this isn’t quite where I wanted to get this morning. Although linked to the lambs and Ewe in the field. The other week while in conversation, with somebody I respect a great deal, he mentioned that I tend to jump to respond in a conversation rather briskly. In so doing a faster pace is set. I was thinking about that comment this morning – and the encounter with the Ewe. And of the many encounters, such happy ones, during these past weeks. With strangers and those I know or have come to know.
Well, I am back with rhythm and music, heartbeat, breathing and babbling streams. Snow drifts turning to snowdrop drifts. And what comes to mind is that while gain and loss, end and beginnings are ever present in our lives it is the small words between the big ones and the punctuation which give us the beginning-less and endless-ness of existence. The no-birth/no-death of Buddhist teaching. The blessing of our lives – the rhythm and the beat, the call and our timely responses. What better insight to come out of my R and R and R and R time.
And what of the term holding the space? Is it not the spaces in music, that fine timing which has the violins or the tenors coming in just so, which elevates music to something grand? How much more so with the music of language and living. Poised with my violin, I’ll come in just so. I’ll not push the beat and so not lose my space. (I wonder if anybody understands what I am trying to say…!)
With fond memories of my Master who would talk about language in terms of musicality. I remember her lesson on punctuation, and it wasn’t an English lesson either.