Notes on a Buddhist path

The Crack in Everything

September 16, 2012 By | Leave a Comment

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

Washing dishes in the warm ease of a recent morning, something shifted in me. I don’t remember what I may have been thinking or what my plans were for that day, but as I rinsed a glass and placed it on my dish rack a beam of sunlight bounced through the tumbler and changed my life forever.

That may sound over-the-top dramatic and more than a bit on the woo-woo side of the tracks, but in a real sense I saw the world in a new way. For a spectacular instant I didn’t recognize the sun ray as anything I had ever experienced before. Its presence, the way it split into brilliant miracles of light in my hand as I held the glass turned on something inside of me. Or perhaps, turned off something. It was like listening to a radio station and the signal shifts ever so slightly so that the familiar song you’ve heard a dozen times before becomes crystalline and alive. You hear it, feel it in an entirely new way that you would never have known if that frequency had not changed. A shift in perception, a startled moment of setting aside all that I knew to be “true”, and stumbling upon unknowingness that felt like liberation from the day and all that I had believed with such assurance before that tip of the glass.

Even giving the experience over to words alters what I felt in an instant of sheer newness. Naming it sullies the interchange I witnessed with the glass and the light. Walking the path of Buddhism, I practice each day to find the novelty, the uniqueness of a breath or a step or an emotion, watching each with attentive tuning so that perhaps the clarity of wisdom’s eloquent frequency will touch my life. Each instant is a birth and a death, a chance to sense this life experience on a wider band width, attempting to stay open to the immense wisdom hiding behind the thousands of moments I live each day.

The feeling of wonder stayed with me. As I walked downtown I found the leaves of trees sounded different. Their green coats opening to the crisp notes of fall seemed to be breathing, their songs in the wind a symphony of exalted ripples against the sky. The people I passed were more luminous, more keenly felt in my heart. I tried not to hold on to the sensations or expect more of the grandeur I was feeling, but I couldn’t help slipping into an attachment to the ethereal nature of nature. As I found myself craving it more, it left me as gently as it had arrived.

This week I will be off to a 10 day meditation retreat. I expect there will be moments of clarity and chaos, silence and cacophony and perhaps, if the tuning is just right, a crack in my perceptions to let the light shine in.

i thank You God for most this amazing

By e. e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Photo credit: Sunrays through window, courtesy of Morguefile

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