“The real mystery is not somewhere else.
It’s right here in what we call reality, or truth, or daily life.
It’s in confusion and loneliness and boredom, and in the thoughts and concepts, and in all the insects, lizards and fruit trees.
That’s how it manifests, but before it manifests, before conditions, there is a unity, a play of light.” Gesture of Great Love, by Tarthang Tulku
Have you ever wanted to be the person you suspect is hidden inside you–like someone buried in a chamber–who has been hypnotized into believing that such a chamber really exists?
When I hear that there is a unity from which I am extracting positions and limitations, and that those extractions are dim reflections of an all-pervasive play of light, I can’t help but wonder if it’s too late to do anything about this situation. Or have I been permanently recruited into a realm from which freedom of choice has been banned?
If I have been hypnotized into my low expectations of what is possible in this life, am I both the hypnotist and the one hypnotized? If a play of light is the fundamental reality and the deeper truth of daily life, how can I not dive in and marvel that a life-affirming illumination is playing before my eyes and behind them? How can I not be amazed to find myself alive; still breathing my way through a lifetime that began 80 years ago with my first inhalation; still breathing now in an openness that will continue until my final exhalation; after which this body will never again take another sip from the shining river of life?
What an incredible two-for-one deal! I get to be alive in this mysterious, unfathomable daily life; and I am free to catch glimpses of an illumination that is glancing through every conditional, conditioned appearance, every thought and feeling, every pondering and wondering, each one showing up astride its own beam of light.
It’s true that there is much that doesn’t work well in myself and in our world. It appears that the human species is running the world into the ground—or rather, since our Earth is itself the ground, we are running our relationship with the gift of this living planet into deeper and deeper darkness, as our capacity for appreciation is waylaid on its journey into our hearts.
But I am alive, and everyone I meet is alive. Each of us may be more or less in thrall to the hypnotist we have allowed to have a final word on how we are living. But as long as we welcome another in-breath, we are free to set sail on the winds of this moment’s bright infusion. Isn’t it odd that–even if we don’t notice it–every in-breath is followed by an out-breath? There are no exceptions. Even our final inbreath, which will one day inevitably arrive, will be followed by an exhalation. Living in the breath of life, riding the cascade of light that makes it all possible, let us share a profound sigh of gratitude.