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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Space Between

When everything gets to be too much I run away; I am a coward; I cannot face my demons head-on. Instead I seek out the space between the desires that drive my life and the mystery that is the foundation of experience. Each time I find myself overwhelmed by the world I seem to find my way into the mountains where the air is hard to breathe and my dreams are surreal; they are filled with a potency they lack in the lowlands.
Deep in the mountains day breaks very early. Everything is quiet. A late January dawn comes stepping so quietly over the mountains that they are barely visible above the nascent pines. I don’t quite know what it is that wakes me... the chill of the air, perhaps, or the crack of stone falling from on high.
Or maybe it is the mystery.
I crawl from my bedroll intending to kindle a fire to brew coffee but first I stop. I stand without thought drinking in the morning. The breeze rattling through the trees is speaking in tongues. Though I listen long I cannot decipher its message. The wind has no interest in me. It does not care if I am here or not here. The days are constantly being reborn without any help from me.
I am alone. I have walked four days to reach this spot; I have not seen anyone else during my journey. Hunting season is over so like every year at this time the forest seems abandoned. I know I have never been so far away from another human being. If only I could I would go even farther until no one remembered my name or that I ever existed at all. I would dream a dream of myself and know I was dreaming.
I would become as disinterested as the mystery.
The mystery that comes before experience is like the crack of dawn deep in the mountains; it is disinterested. It sees these things that I name as that which arises, flourishes a short while, and then all is destroyed. In this way experience is constantly renewed and yet it is never exhausted.
I’ve known countless people in my life. Each has left an indelible mark upon me. Some of these people were takers who would never think of giving; others were givers who never thought of taking; a few neither gave nor took. Were I more like the mystery I would inhabit the space between this giving and that taking.
By attempting to injure others I am injured in return. By trying to please others I am merely adding fire to fire and water to water. There is no end to these signs of deferral. By entering the space between these two I bend to no one and yet I accept the world in all its suffering. I have heard of knowledge of the wise. I have not-heard of knowledge of the unwise.
In all manner of human discourse there are two cautionary considerations: one is what is naturally right while the other is the conviction of what is right. A child discovers duty in the love of the parent; a follower finds their obligation in serving the leader. When the child and the follower, the parent and the leader, do what they cannot but do virtue enters in the space between these two.
In all things this is so; people are at first sincere but always end by becoming rude. In the beginning things are treated as trivial but as the end nears these matters assume great proportions. Hasty vengeful thoughts arise and no one knows why. By keeping a reference to unavoidable obligations the mind finds enjoyment in the circumstance of position. The best thing is to be ready to sacrifice oneself; this is the most difficult of my teachings and the most far-reaching.
I am disinterested. I witness people being born, flourishing a short while, and then passing back to the mystery from which we all both move away from and back toward. In this way this gathering of lovers is constantly renewed and yet it is never wearied.
As I walk the rocky paths high in the mountains I recall a time when I held onto hope even when everything seemed hopeless. I could think of no reason to expect anything better so I quit expecting anything. I took a breath and then another. In my defeat I found victory. In my every victory I am defeated.
The space between that which I name and the mystery of the nameless is a breath, nothing more; it is merely an inhalation followed by the exhalation, a heart skipping a beat, the whispering grass under the rustling serpent meandering through the weeds.
The shapes of these things change but their forms remain. If this were not so I would wander like a new-born baby full of wonder and empty of regret.
Long speeches weary the listeners. By keeping to the center I avoid the extremes.
This is the way of the universe.


  1. Disinterested or disconnected? I often run into being disconnected and/or dissociative.

    Beautifully written :)

  2. Hello Mariah! That's a wonderful question. By using the term 'disinterested' I am attempting to convey the notion of caring without attachment. One may nurture the world without clinging to the temporal patterns that arise, flourish, and fade away.

    This is accomplished by keeping in mind our obligations not only to other human beings but to the world. Practicing disinterest doesn't entail forsaking our duty. It means we fulfill our responsibilities without becoming overrun by them.

    In a very real sense the present becomes all that exists, an ever-flowing moment, if you will; these people in our life, all sentient beings in fact, become of paramount importance. By understanding we are all on a journey to death--by practicing disinterest--we might learn to hold those who are dear to us without strangling them with this thing we call love.

    'Disconnected' and 'dissociative' seem to have a connotation of uncaring, of being separate and apart from the world, a silent witness watching everything unfold yet never taking part.

    I would love to hear what you think. Thank you so much for writing!

  3. Hi Dan!
    Thank you for the reply :)

    I don't find myself uncaring - in fact, I am very passionate. Balance is my main problem. I can look into "reality" and see the love and the hate, the giving and the taking - the hurt and the good feelings. It is over-whelming at I pull myself away. It almost seems as though it is out of body - as though I am the observer of myself.

    Whether I react or not. So, perhaps I used the wrong words? I know that I am an INTP (according to some silly test)...

    And death...I have never become upset with any but one, and only because I blamed myself for it. Though, years later, I realized that her death had absolutely nothing to do with me and that it was simply her moment.

    (This may seem to be an odd response...but I wanted to respond. It's just been an unwelcome drama filled week for me.)

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  5. Hello Mariah,
    Thank you so much for your reply. I didn't mean to imply that you're an uncaring person. Forgive me if you took it that way. I was simply attempting to explain why I chose to use the term 'disinterested' as opposed to 'dissociated' or 'disconnected.'

    I see that you understood what my intent was as you go on to say that you pull away at times. I think we as human beings often times become so attached to those people and things we love that we end up becoming overwhelmed with the burden of it all; we become so larded with the pain we perceive others inflicting upon us that we just shut down. We say: I am depressed.

    I think we sometimes mistake these feelings of attachment for caring. We say: maybe I just care too much. We become numb to the pain. Yet by cutting off the sense of pain we also lose that sense of wonderment and magic that is the world.

    Instead, perhaps we'd be better off cultivating non-attachment. Rather than shunning the pain we might well explore it deeply and then just let it go. Much of my writing is my way of dealing with the suffering that life throws my direction. Rather than taking too much to heart I examine these feelings through words. In this way I find I can set aside the attachments I feel without setting aside my sense of caring.

    It's not that I stop caring; rather, I let go of my attachment to these temporal things. I strive to live in the moment rather than clinging to a past that is gone or waiting for a future that might never arrive.

    Does that help at all? Or am I further confusing matters?

  6. I'm so sorry I'm so random...I am going through a scattered time in my life. I never took you to say I was uncaring..sometimes my words don't come out the way they make perfect sense in my head.

    I made a decision to let go of many of the things that seemed to be taking me off my course...whatever that might be. Those things just didn't seem "right". Dating, going out, imbibing alcohol, and (duh duh duuuuh) Facebook. Not so much trying to "fit in" with groups of people, but putting myself into a category that allowed for me to mingle with them - when there was nothing to mingle about. It all became drama, idle chatter, really nothing of substance. I think the disconnect or pulling away was not an actual "action", but my true being trying to tell me that the way I was using was not actually "the way". I'm rambling to a complete and total stranger...but I appreciate your words, because they are that of substance. Even if mine don't seem so, I hope that it is making some sense...

    Thank you, Dan. :) You are inspiring.

  7. Hi Mariah,
    No need to be sorry, I enjoy your comments very much! Thank you!

    Yes, you make a lot of sense. We cannot just say: here's an idea. Instead, we have to live it, to make it our own. Otherwise, people see through us. They know we aren't being sincere in our life. I think this happens a lot with moralists, those folk who believe it is their duty to tell us all how to live our lives when they are a mess in their own life.

    Myself, I start by picking out two conflicting aspects of life and asking, what comes first? Am I going to go out drinking tonight, or am I going to stay home and write? What comes first? Well, for me, the writing always comes first. In time, the things that come first in my life have come to dominate to the exclusion of all else.

    I think you are doing that very well at that. You seem to be asking the right questions; there is no one right answer, of course. It will vary from person to person depending upon our personal histories.

    Thanks again! It is always a pleasure to hear from you.


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