This is the transcript of the talk I gave before a guided meditation on Insight Timer Live. I tried to edit it enough for it to make sense without the back and forth of the live session, but I also wanted to keep it conversational. Reading this is not required for the guided meditation to make sense.
I talked the other day a little bit about traveling, about this idea of going away to find yourself, and of the larger idea of separation from God, and the proposition of the notion of being the emissary for God as we cultivate a return. And when we consider one Buddhist perspective, we run into duality and non-duality. In some Buddhist traditions non-duality is spoken of as supreme- at least insofar as anything that hints at duality is considered lesser- but if we’re to know that there’s a difference, in some respect we discover non duality through duality (has there ever been a baby without dual thinking who gets through life and to enlightenment with only non-dual ways?). I’ve heard it argued both ways, that there’s no way to non-duality through duality, and that there is a way… but I digress. I was thinking about the return from travel, of homecoming, and how there’s a paradox there- or as I like to say, seemingly a paradox- because sometimes while we’re really far away we have a homecoming experience, like if you arrived at a lake in the mountains and you felt the welcome and familiarity of the place, or maybe you’ve been away on vacation and you thought, I think I’d like to stay here- it feels like home. At the same time when we come home there are those things that remind us of what we weren’t appreciating, took for granted about the place we live, and we can feel what is truly home in the return; and also maybe what is more alien than we thought. We needed to go away to see how we were engaged in habits that seemed normal, that now seem less so. Confusion can arise, we can become hypnotized from repetition, deluded, in a rut. So we of course can’t talk about homecoming without talking about, or at least implying, going out. Perhaps the seeming paradox is the non-duality knocking at the door of consciousness, disguised as duality.
I was also thinking of this group of people we meditate with on insight timer live- though we’ve only known each other a short time, coming to the sessions together is a kind of homecoming. We have connection that we didn’t know was going to happen… We’ve created a new kind of repetition- a good thing to keep in mind. By engaging here we broke a spell in a way, broke hypnotism, had to take a chance, give something to each other, share, maybe feel a little uncomfortable at first, or at different times…. so here we are and now this is kind of normal- we do this, we get together, and this will be cause for reflection at some point, evolution, maybe even stagnation, breaking, then the need to change and grow… so it’s nice… I decided to look for a quote, and I thought of the book Overstory, by Richard Powers- maybe not directly related, but a little bit. I was talking last week about being taken in by my hosts when I was in Montana.. a really nice experience, being taken in… we just brought our clothes… this is a little bit about that, a little about trees, and other things… you’ll see…
“The Greeks had a word, xenia—guest friendship—a command to take care of traveling strangers, to open your door to whoever is out there, because anyone passing by, far from home, might be God. Ovid tells the story of two immortals who came to Earth in disguise to cleanse the sickened world. No one would let them in but one old couple, Baucis and Philemon. And their reward for opening their door to strangers was to live on after death as trees—an oak and a linden—huge and gracious and intertwined. What we care for, we will grow to resemble. And what we resemble will hold us, when we are us no longer. . . .” -The Overstory, by Richard Powers
So that brings up the concept of self well beyond what we might think of as a normal sense of self- there’s an ongoing energy, but even more: what is it in that level of hospitality that warrants the result of the couple becoming beautiful trees? There’s a sense of selflessness, right? And of course, it’s exactly these everyday actions that are what we are becoming, in a sense. So, just some things to consider. I recommend the book. Ok, let’s have our sitting.
Click here for the meditation.
Thanks to Jeon Sang-O for the beautiful image.