Crescent moon on the wane this morning, Thanksgiving. I practiced early-early, left the shala saged and 80 degrees for everyone else arriving at 7. Now delayed on the tarmac at DTW. A man in a glass box on a lever is swooping around outside, shooting the plane with steam. De-icing our wings.
Teaching takes my creative energy and leaves me quiet. Empty in the best way. To re-set I wash, roll out the knots in the body, eat, sleep, meditate. So this Mysore teacher’s work day runs 4 – 4. But with today off, there’s a whole stream of creative ideas and words on the theme of, well, emptiness. Bodies are full of empty space. Just now, the hollows of my throat and head are super chatty… but in a way that’s more inclined to addressing the cosmos than to regular conversation.
I would submit this is what I always feel with a crescent moon on the wane.
Having a personality is like having a body.
Wonderful, painful, necessary. Cyclical. From stable to subtle, and back. From earthy, to cosmic, and back.
I remember when it started to dawn on me that a tiny vritti at the margin of my energy level indexed to the moon. Remember that? The first time you linked the kind of night you had with the kind of moon? It’s poor taste to overstate this, or to treat it as causal. Still, we come to this recognition of a subtle correlation.
In the same negligible way, another – very faint – dynamic is dawning on me now. A cycle of self.
Over 14.5 days I go from being “one” (singular), to being “one” (with everything). These are the pendulum poles: Fullness is 1, Emptiness is 0. Here is the mindset of each.
1 = Fullness. This personality is unique in time and space and history. Seize the moment! Do do do. Now now now. Yes yes yes. THIS. EXPREINCE. IS. ALL. THRERE. IS.
0 = Emptiness. Listen, McFly. And look. Stars sans moon. We are that. This. The cosmos is a black hole turned inside-out. You can’t seize that which you always already are.
This is so obvious it’s trite. Like that Nisargadatta line about inhalation telling me I am everything, and exhalation telling me I am nothing. “And between the two, my life flows.”
I think we habituate in to moon cues. Condition the nervous system cycle by cycle by cycle until she relaxes in to it. First we’re aware of the physical aspect (annamaya kosha, etc.), then the energetic, then the mental, then the supersubconscious. Then the way that it’s all nonsense anyway.
In recent months there have been a few shudders when I saw the moon, and in the next second saw my mind. A variable mind. More sattvic (stable + clear) with years of practice. But still this mind is made up of waves.
What I’m picking up most now is a pattern relating with the new moon. Maybe it’s most easy for sensitive types — yogis, drunks, and “skitzophrenics” (i.e., gifted outsiders cornered by western medicine) – to get to know the full moon. It dilates our animal aspects, does it not?
The full moon was something we talked about in the restaurant industry. Like, keep an eye on your lush customers that night. Big moon is ornery. Before that, I grew up on the campus of a children’s mental institution in rural Montana. I’ll say goodbye to that place Saturday, and my father retires Monday after 45 years of service. So maybe I’ll stop self-censoring my weird childhood when it arises. For now I will say full moon jokes and jitters are come around like clockwork on the psych ward. Big moon is the night the specific self comes out to howl.
Anyway. Here are some of the moon-shudders since September. Maybe there is a pattern and maybe there’s not.
I’m driving to Detroit to retrieve Dominic.
Dom’s energy has more empty space in it than mine. He’s like Gandalf crossed with the Tasmanian devil. Nothing to stick to.
New Sensation comes on the radio and I feel like an absolute zero. Like I’ve been skull-capped with a scythe, crown open to the cosmos, spine dangling below. It registers somewhere that last night was the new moon, and today there’s only a sliver of self.
“Gonna take you over.” Hello, high octane. I put the dial to the right and the gas pedal down. This zero is ecstasy. Empty, nothing sticking, nothing to do.
This is the Zero that is the best gift this lineage has to give – and no wonder I associate it with a great teacher because it’s the empty chaotic core of this practice if you are doing it right.
I offended people the last time I said the best thing about going to Mysore was getting to be a Zero. But please, if that is offensive, it might be worth getting closer to the source. I practiced faaaar too long before the zero side of self tapped me o the shoulder.
When we think the practice is mine mine mine, precious, it’s because we are settling for all heat and no light. All 1 and no 0. Emptiness is an ecstatic side of the self.
I wake up on a lake north of the 45th parallel, looking east into sun that shouldn’t be this golden because it looks like Instagram.
The two of us drive down the coast to Traverse City, in this sun, listening to City of Dreams. The only thing that exists here apart from the road and the sun on the water is millions of red and gold fall leaves – floating in the air and describing the landscape below the treetops.
I remember this same man 16 years ago, the person he was when he introduced me to this song, the night we watched True Stories on VHS.
This sun. This secret perfect coastline inside the country. The line “here where you are standing, the dinosaurs did a dance.” The luck to be here, in this life, with this man. Holy god.
Nostalgia for the present moment rocks through my chest and into my belly and I want to scream or throw up. Pleasure, pain, whatever. Shudder. The body check makes me do a moon check. Three quarters full.
Walking to work at 4:30, singing Willis Earle Beale, I look up and remember the night before. The moon – not even visible – is high and thin. My self follows, right in to my head, into analytical space.
Last night I wrote a long letter to Shinzen about the new materialism in social science. It’s an annoying problem, and not a tractable one for a mind that only waxes analytical a couple of days per fortnight. So I put ask Shinzen if he’d want to take this one on, with the same skill he’s used to legitimate enlightenment to the people who think mind reduces to brain.
There’s nothing wrong with the cool logician who speaks in syllogisms and lives to hunt down assumptions. The forgotten philosopher doesn’t get much play around here, but waxing crescent is the time she’s most likely to visit.
And so on.
Having a mind is exactly like having a body. There are no perfect ones, and only perfect ones. Control is impossible, but sometimes it is out of the doomed project to get control that the interesting stuff shows up.
How insane crazy it is that consciousness can become conscious of itself? It can double up and take witness. It can get behind the screen.
God is existing weird. What do you even do with the selfconsciousness gift/superpower?
I totally freaking do not know, but since Patanjali says apprehending the patterns in the mindstuff is high quality direct knowledge, may as well sit up and take note. I suspect this ability is here to tell us what we are.