Gone With the Zen by Wayne Saalman

joshua-earle-252222-unsplashTHE WIND BLOWS through, the clouds quiver, the rain drizzles down and then the sun bursts through once more, radiant and magnificent.


Life goes on.


We go on… All of us. Together.


Physically, we quiver like clouds ourselves, our bodies composed of fiery atoms, airy molecules and watery cells, every part of us in endless motion.


Every animate and inanimate thing in the world is likewise vibrating.


We are vibrant beings in a vibrant world.


Physicists talk about vibrational rates in relation to light and point out that the gross elements of the material world are built on vibration.


Dr Wayne W Dyer in his book, Manifest Your Destiny, tells us that, “Sounds are a powerful energy. Every sound is a vibration made of waves oscillating at a particular frequency. The frequency range of the human ear is approximately sixteen thousand vibrations, up to roughly forty thousand vibrations, per second. Higher up on the scale, with increasingly faster vibrations, is electricity, at about one thousand million vibrations per second. At two hundred billion vibrations per second we find heat. Light and color are at five hundred billion vibrations per second, and an X-ray manifests at two trillion vibrations per second. It is theorized that thoughts and the unknown etheric and spiritual dimensions are in the realm of increased vibrations beyond anything that is calculable at this point in time. Vibrational frequencies are very clearly the very nature of our material universe.”


How does one even begin to conceive of energy – however microscopic – oscillating at five hundred billion vibrations per second, let alone two trillion? How can one begin to get one’s mind around the idea that anything can, and does, oscillate that incredibly fast?


The answer is, I suspect, “We can’t.” Nevertheless, all entities, whether human, animal or otherwise, whether here or elsewhere, do vibrate and each in a unique manner. That energetic vibration is as individual as the one that our physical bodies display in this world and that uniqueness is known as a “signature”. We humans don’t “have” one, we “are” one. (This is rather like how each of us signs our name in a unique fashion and can be identified by our signature in a court of law in such an absolute way.)


To “be” is to have a singular, energetic signature and we humans experience this phenomenon with other human beings virtually all of the time, whether those people are family, friends or complete strangers. It is because of this energetic signature that people either make us feel comfortable or uncomfortable. It also generally determines whether we like, love or are repelled by any particular personality.


Simply put, where resonances are closely aligned, the more in tune with each other any two people feel. In many cases, the resonance is a more neutral thing, but where there is a sense of dissonance, a very dark feeling can prevail. One might even interpret that dissonance as being hostile, unfriendly, unloving or even as demonic in extreme cases.


Near-death returnees, freshly back from that mysterious “otherworld” of which they speak, also tell of experiencing people or entities while there that either attracted or repelled them. The most compelling of these entities have come to be known as “Beings of Light”. Invariably, these beings have a unique vibratory nature that radiates out from an energetic core and fairly overwhelms those who are temporarily in their presence. This radiance can come across as exuding an enormous sense of love, or some other positive quality like compassion or understanding. In many people’s minds, such a being might actually be “God” or “Jesus”, or they might be “angels” or “highly evolved souls”, or “buddhas”, but those are impressions and no one can say with absolute certainty who these “Beings” “really” are if all impressions are not identical and do not corroborate each other. The diversity is what leaves us in wonderment.


Quite often, according to the returnees, the Beings of Light interact with them via a telepathic form of communication. Whole thoughts, idea or explanations about how life came into existence and how it manifests in the way we experience it are conveyed in these moments. According to reports, virtually all of a person’s questions can be answered while they are in the presence of these advanced souls.


Once, in a very profound, hyperlucid dream state, I experienced this phenomenon for myself. All of my questions during that episode were answered in full and after I came to in the middle of the night, I found myself in an incredible state of bliss. My entire body was buzzing. “So that’s how it all came to be,” I sighed quietly to myself. It seemed so simple. I even murmured that very thought aloud.


How it was simple and how it all came to be, though, turned out to be spectacularly beyond my ability to put into words, I soon found out. In retrospect, the only thing “simple” about it was how simply ineffable it turned out to be.


Which I found incredibly frustrating.


Nevertheless, I knew what I had experienced and from that experience I gained the consoling affirmation that there was an answer to the Great Mysteries of life and that the spiritual dimension is preeminent. I learned too that life goes on for us, even if we are in a disembodied state.


To “know” that is to have experienced what the ancient Gnostics called “gnosis”. One could only be considered a Gnostic once one had had a direct experience of this nature. This was the great epiphany of the mystical sect and their entire way of life was devoted to helping others have just such a revelation.


Near-death returnees and mystics to this day say something very similar in their attempts to explicate what they experienced while on the “other side”. Words can approximate the knowledge that is imparted, they say, but the proverbial simile about the menu not being the meal does perfectly describe how very different words are from the actual experience.


Zen masters know this truth better than most and tell their monks to just meditate without dependence on words. They also give their students what are called “koans” which can be totally nonsensical questions or questions without actual answers, such as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “What is your original face before your mother and father were born?” The idea is to raise the intensity of the pursuit to the breaking point. When the intellectual mind finally quits trying to answer what is, and always will be, ineffable, that is when the great breakthrough can come.


As it transpires, an academic answer simply cannot give one the direct experience that those on a quest for enlightenment seek. This is why the Zen masters tell their students to just concentrate their attention on the goal, stay disciplined about it and to remember that they are not enlightened if they only manage to achieve a wordy way of speaking about what is essentially beyond words.


To experience the “Ineffable” directly is the ultimate goal of Zen and to experience it is to have a “satori”. This word is derived from the Japanese word satoru meaning “to know”. In Zen, this refers to the direct, non-conceptual apprehension of the true nature of reality. Satori is a transcendent experience that goes beyond words and concepts, and perfectly corresponds to the notion in the Western Hermetic tradition of “gnosis” which also means “to know”, though in the case of Hermeticism this word refers to one having a direct epiphany or experience of “God”.


The Gnostics would, of course, say that God is the true reality. For example, Hermes Trismegistus in The Hermetica says that “Atum” (God) is “Oneness, the Whole, the Primal Mind, the Supreme Source of All That Is”. He also says that, “To define him is impossible.”


To reach a state of gnosis or satori, however, does not mean that one is automatically ready to expound upon the origin and meaning of life. It means only that one has glimpsed ultimate truth and experienced one’s own essence. That essence is about a person being directly consciousness of itself, of pure awareness, and this is how one may actually perceive one’s “original face”.


Even afterwards, where consciousness came from, how it began, whether there is a God or not, still proves impossible to say. Thus, the answer to such questions is ultimately “ineffable”.


The enlightened one is then left to sit in wonder, staggered by reality, intoxicated by its sublime and transcendent nature.


This is a beginning, not an end.


So I discovered when I awakened that night from my stupendous realization. All that I could do was sit in silence, awestruck, thinking how life is its own answer and that what I had been looking for was precisely what was doing the looking.


Which is doubtless why the Zen master, Rinzai, stated, “If you know that fundamentally there is nothing to seek, you have settled your affairs.” In other words, we already have what we are seeking: it is life and awareness itself.


One should, perhaps, retire into silence after such an experience, but the day to day world goes on and the intellectual mind keeps doing what it has always done: asking questions and trying to answer those questions. There is a powerful measure of peace about it at that point though, for if one is no longer frantic for verbal answers or suffering for lack of insight into life, there is no struggle. The greatest boon of all, however, is that one no longer fears death.


Not fearing death any longer doesn’t mean that you don’t mourn those who pass, nor lament the fact that you too, in a physical and social sense, will pass from this earth. Each of us is “one of a kind”. We’re each a “once off”, personality-wise, looks-wise, and so on, in all of eternity. That will be a loss when it ceases, but there are other realms where the “real” person each of us “is” will continue. There, new experiences will be gained once more.


What really matters here and now, then, is that we’re clued in to our own magnificent uniqueness, but always without egotism or pride, for even the idea that “I” am enlightened is a delusion.


As Suzuki Roshi put it: “Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an enlightened person. There is only enlightened activity.”


Enlightened activity: that is what is really precious in this world and we are all free to engage in it. Any of us can do the compassionate thing, the loving thing, at any time, no matter where we are in the world, no matter how “spiritually evolved” we happen to be. To pursue a noble life that works to end the suffering in this world is more than sufficient.


How it originated? Why it came to be? To what end life came into existence?


What beautiful, beautiful questions.



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