IT IS COOL THIS EARLY AFTERNOON, in the low fifties, with just a bit of breeze; mild for December, even in South Carolina. The sky is a true azure blue, and there is not a single cloud to break the color. I’ve just been out running squirrels off the bird feeder, which is a hopeless task, but the body seems to do it, and the squirrels don’t really seem to mind it, so all is well. The birds approve of my actions. The moment the squirrels are gone a male Cardinal appears, a beautiful branding of fiery red against a backdrop of dying, late autumn leaves. Then a Tufted Titmouse flutters in, pulls out a single seed in its beak, and then flies off to consume it. In just moments it is back, to snatch and fly off with another, like an artist dabbing paint on an invisible canvas. I don’t know if it’s a male or female. I don’t know the difference in that breed. In fact, I don’t care. Sometimes the more I divide a thing, the less able I am to see it.
I MOVE TO READING IN THE LIVING ROOM, a carafe of strong, hot, black tea in hand. I place it carefully on the coffee table that is neatly laden with two dozen books, and get the stage set ready: lights on, a blanket across my legs, iron paperweight pulled of the side table book stack, the first volume opened. And then comes Dickens, across the side table, stepping to the leather chair arm, then gracefully hopping to the other, which is his own morning spot. He is our 22 pound Maine Coon cat, who occasionally gusts up to 25; whereupon the vet scolds us, and then we put him on a diet. At that point it is Dickens who scolds us for treating him so poorly, thus it’s scolding either way for Betsy and me, but everyone is moving in the same direction: a happy, healthy animal.
HE CAME TO US ALMOST NINE YEARS AGO, a tiny kitten, an only kitten, breeder-raised, with little handling by humans. Without his mother, he was terrified of everything. Sometimes he still exhibits instant fear if there is change in his environment: an odd noise, a sudden move, a rearrangement of furniture or rugs; the appearance of anything new. They say that wolves are like this also. He doesn’t know that with his power and claws he could back down anything that entered the house. Like most human beings, he is unaware of his strengths, and only conscious of his deficiencies. And for Dickens, just like for human beings, whichever one he focuses on most expands in his experience. Fortunately for our big cat, there is not much physical change that happens here, beyond Betsy’s constant tweaking of the décor, and books that come and go as they are bought and sold. This apartment exudes a remarkable sense of peace, serenity, and stability. It is always quiet. People never fail to mention the sense of peace when they visit. It is not a tomb; it is a womb. Betsy and I are given fresh birth here every morning. She goes to work early, and then returns for nourishment in the evening. Because I work from home, I rarely leave it.
I READ PASSAGES from a stack of wisdom books every morning. It’s a habit I’ve had for years, and now even the ritual tuning of the process every morning brings fresh depth to my daily experience. This body is like a ghost that slowly meanders through an unfluctuating stage set at a given time each day. I am reading mostly Taoism right now, from five different volumes, plus one volume on Western philosophy which is equally fascinating, and also a bit every morning from Rupert Spira’s Presence,which is like a lighted wand in a dark room. Presence is art, it is jnana yoga, it is bhakti, all rolled into one. It is wholly remarkable. I am lost for the next hour or hour and a half. I take long pauses as I read. I look up the definition of a word or foreign term. I close my eyes and feel what has been said; I read another paragraph or two. I am like wood soaking up water; the process is slow, but once soaked, it stays wet for a very long time.
HENRY, OUR SMALL, BOSSY CAT, who seems to be in remission from lymphoma, comes and sits on the as yet uncatted arm of the chair. I am comfortably wedged between two warm beasts made entirely of fur and purr and love; it is heavenly. Reading is done, so I just sit with the cats. I am not doing anything at all. There is nothing to do. There never is. It’s all being done for us, not by us, or to us. For this moment, as I sit in stillness, in silence, reality is Realized, and the mask of Fredness collapses. All that is left is boundless, space-like awareness. That is all that was ever here. There is not even a here here; never was.
NO-THING TAKES TO ITS FEET, climbs the stairs, comes to the computer, sits down, and begins to write.
Housekeeping Notes: Posts will now be written and published spontaneously. As ever, I thank you for your precious attention. Namaste, Fred