On Grace and Polemics

By Chris Castle

I am a seeker who feels he has arrivedin that, these days, I both intellectually and feeling-wise, experience a oneness that is a great joy and comfort - completely unknowing, absolutely wondrous, constantly available, not really what I expected (as I didn’t know what to expect) and completely ordinary, except that everything is, as a bringer of Zen to the West - Alan Watts - said, two inches off the ground. I mostly thought that I would never achieve it but was sustained by brief periods of peace and relaxation that, somehow, were connected to practicing meditation and/or going for long, reflective, walks over a period of a lifetime. And over the last few years there have been wonderful internet teachers, or messengers, who have, sometimes, been connected to Science and Non-Duality.

I have always celebrated doubt and abhorred certainty. The struggle has always been what it is about - the full catastrophe, the human condition. Yet, ironically, when the big gestalt happened for me I got formulaic. So, I produced a little booklet, Flowing.

Perhaps the formula came out of the dogged determination that I would, in my lifetime, get it. But it did arrive after a chaotic life process, punctuated by periods of barren wasteland and anxiety, although I’ve generally had a sunny disposition. The ultimate formula is, therefore, that everything is in, that emptiness is form and form is emptiness, that that from which all meaning is derived may be experienced as meaningless and meaningful, that consciousness may be experienced as unconsciousness and oblivion, that timelessness may be experienced as time, that oneness may be experienced as anxiety and separation, that the Cosmic Self may be experienced as me.

And the specific formula…well you can go to Amazon…. just kidding. Based on the understanding that life is constantly arising all the time, that we are already enlightened, that that which is before you now is your beloved, is the most perfect realization of all that has been and will be, is unconditional love - then you have to set your mind aside to have it.

The formula that works for me - with practice and determination, every time - is to sit quietly, or walk or run, or lay, before sleep… and notice action arising around you and within you. It can be mechanical, or natural sounds, smells, perceptions and sensations. (I advise staying away from thoughts arising, initially, even though they are all part of what is.) Stay with one event. You might hear the kids listening to a cartoon, then go to another - your tummy rumbling, the smell of your surrounds, of food cooking, then a bird whistling, a plane overhead, traffic noise, the wind on your face, the smell of flowers in the garden…and shift from actively noticing what is happening, to waiting upon the next happening to arise in your mind. After a timeless time, life is arising around and within you. There is no longer a waiting for life events to occur to you; life is just arising with constant surprises. The thrill of a bird whistling. The enchanting aroma of dinner cooking. The texture of the gravel underfoot.

Will we call it grace, that quality which allows a shift from immersion in life events through conscious awareness, to the unknowing, flowing, within life as it arises? A pat formula which often occurs to me is that A is already A to Z in the liberation or enlightenment process. Z is already contained in A, but our minds seem to need a process stepped out from A to Z and all in between. And yes, we want the confidence to feel that it has really happened and will happen again! You will know when you have it. It comes in an instant, and you will realize you always had it, you always were it. When life is arising spontaneously, enchantingly and surprisingly, there is the sense of oneness. Your personal thoughts arise alongside the concrete at your feet or the walls of your house, the sounds of the air conditioner…. everything arises together, continuously, deliciously - even little tensions and worries, which go.

Each one of us, I believe, has our own flavor in the gestalt which emerges, according to our own life story and disposition, in the wonderful tapestry of which we are each an indelible part, arising alongside everything and everyone else. Wow, what a sense of community!

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Chris has always had an interest in mystical experience and often walked the hills of Alice Springs in Central Australia, with his dogs, in a state of bliss. His journey in the quest of “Who am I” has been life long. He works as a social worker and has been married to Dom for 42 years, with three kids and twelve grandchildren. His book, Flowing, is available on Amazon.

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