There is a weaving running through the tapestry that is my life history that, over time, manifests as an existential interplay between consciousness anchored, composed, or mirrored in objects (the nature world, cities, family relationships, friendships, philosophy, religion, politics etc. ) and self-conscious soul that experiences existential support within itself; free from the need of mirrors to be ... Spirit.
As a young man, I often spent my days imagining Jesus Christ was right next to me in everything I did during the day. For example, as a cashier at Meijer in Taylor, Michigan, I would work at staying mindful that Jesus Christ was present (as if a physical presence though immaterial) in my interactions with the customers. Over time, it came to me that the "features" of this external immaterial presence wasn't all that important. I then began playing with the features of this Presence. Some days the Presence was a lion; some days it was a totally imaginary person and on and on as far as imagination would take me.
Then it happened, one day it came to me; "ideas could be 'features' of the Presence." Oh wow could I play with this! This opened up whole new worlds of imagination in the Present. For example, ideas of Freedom, political and spiritual, became a feature of the Presence; so that in my daily interactions and work I stayed mindful of the idea of freedom (for example) as a being ever-present.
Now, with all this said - this is significant - in all this intention toward the "featuring" of the Presence, I most often lived unmindful of the Presence in my daily life even though I strove otherwise. Most often, the Presence and the features of the Presence were not at the forefront of thought and mindfullness. I was most often lost in work, relationships, worries, joys, etc.
It was clear I needed quiet moments - scared moments - to strengthen the "featurings" of the Presence in everyday life. The need for these sacred moments frustrated me. The validity of the Presence was that it should light up in each and every thing. If that could not happen ... I would reject it.
In the summer of my 25th year, I was struggling with the question of my features. That is; "Who is it that is looking (featuring) at this body that I call me?" "Who is it that is thinking (featuring) these thoughts that I call my thoughts?" In this context, on a warm summer evening, I was walking in a feral field populated with short thorn-apple and aspen trees. I scarlet tanager landed on a thorn-apple tree right in front of me and its red plumage flamed in the light of the setting sun. I turned to look at the sunset and imagination was feed by intuition and I experienced; "I was the Presence and the Presence was in every thing and every moment." The features of the Presence I had been playing with took on a translucence so that I saw through them to the Presence behind each of them; even my own body and thoughts and comings and goings.The Presence (consciousness unconditioned by features) was and is always there behind the features I had formed around it.
I am now 52 years old. My life has been a working out of the Presence and illuminating every aspect of my life with the Presence in the context of family, work, and friends. It has been a story of much failure and some moments of victory.
There comes a point of saturation of light. Through, intentionality and concentration, more and more of the rooms of the house of my life are illuminated by unconditioned consciousness (the Present). The woman I love once came to me and read these passages from a book she was reading. She said she thought I would appreciate them:
Each day countless humans enter the Temple of Death, yet the ones left behind continue to live as though they were immortal.
The pleasures that arise from sense - objects are bound to end and thus they are only sources of pain. Don't get attached to them. And, when a man reaches a state were honor and dishonor are alike to him, then he is considered supreme. Strive to gain such a state.
What is more numerous than the grass?
The thoughts that rise in the mind of man.
Who is truly wealthy?
That man to whom agreeable and disagreeable, wealth and woe, past and future, are the same. What is the most wondrous thing on earth?
From: The Palace of Illusions
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
When you've played with the features enough so the you can give them over to the Presence ... suddenly you are free and dichotomies are at once acknowledged and resolved. In consciousness that exists in the Presence, the struggles between war and peace, love and hate, rich and poor, life and death, no longer sting - they are features of the Present not the Presence.
--- Lost Play Regained ---
As the Presence more and more illuminates every aspect of terrestrial life a pliability of Being results so that existence is no longer static, that is, conditioned by and dependent upon terrestrial, intellectual, and emotional objects.
The Presence is strong upon me so that features (mirrors to see the Presence) no longer condition the conscious soul to being in the Present.
When we enjoy a good book we are observers of the events. We do not pick and choose the events we will read ... we just read and observe the events. We do not cut out all the places where the bad person shows up in the story. Reading a book is playing in the events, we are above the events.
In the Presence, we play in existence ... in the good things and the bad. The Presence is sufficient unto itself. It is wonderful to be awake in the Present ... to show up in all things. Every happening and event is new, even the most mundane of events because they are not predicated by the past reflection or nostalgia or anticipation of the future. In the Present consciousness settles down into the moment so that the terrestrial, intellectual, and emotional events (life features) are observed, witnessed, or experienced as features of the story playing out before us.
A attempt to clarify.
Normally, that which we call our - selves, the combination all our perceptions (objects in the world - five senses), our thoughts, values, ethics (objects in the soul or objects that come to us from other souls), our emotions, and desires. These are the framework of our individual and social conscious ... the self-conscious ego. Take these away, and there is no thing to support personal idenity or self-consciousness. Perceptions, sensations, thoughts, feelings, and desires, are mirrors through which we see ourselves ... self-consciousness in the mirrors ... mirrored consciousness.
There is another way. There is an "ever-presence" behind, in, and amongst the features of mirrored consciousness. This ever-presence permeates the framework of mirrored consciousness. It is the glue binding the various features of mirrored consciousness. It is there in all things and it can be experienced directly ... unmirrored ... unrelfected ... unfeatured. Who is looking in the mirrors? Who is standing up against the mirrors? Who is reflected? Who is it that anger approaches in the mirror? Who is it that values peace? Who is it fighting in that war? It is the Presence. It is consciousness that exists without the need of mirrors. It is the self-conscious ego free of the need to reflect on some thing ... to exist. We know that Presence in silent meeting. We know that Presence in meditation. We know that Presence in prayer. It is there in all things. It is there in war. It is there in peace. It is there in hate. It is there in love. All these things: war, peace, love, hate, and on and on are reflections and each are hardened mirrors. The self-conscious ego can stand in the Presence and not falter. It can sustain in the Presence with intention and concentration even as it acknowledges the mirrors of terrestrial being. This is spiritual consciousness ... some call it the Kingdom of God. The words used have meaning only in the context of the direct personal experience of Being in the present ... the true Self. Imagination and intuition will strengthen you to walk through the mirrors ... playing ... lost play regained.