It was a lovely, cool spring morning in 1990 and I had just been married about 9 months. I was in our front yard and was greeted by a bounty of lovely tulip blossoms. I bent down to pluck one and as I did so, the notion fluttered through my mind, “Am I plucking or being plucked?” That was such a random, silly thought that just “happened” but it immediately caught my eye even before I knew about “mindfulness.” And it is no coincidence that this event happened shortly after my first and only marriage, each of us being in our mid thirties.
This was the beginning of the end for my rigid, “lost in the head”, concrete thinking though it would take another two decades and more for the process to get to the point where the “flow” of life would begin to take place in my heart. The boundary ambiguity noted in that observation flourished over those decades and I increasingly have become more adept at drawing less of a distinction between “me and thee.” Now I do draw distinctions; and failure to do so would be a serious problem for we do live in the “real” world where distinctions and ego-functioning is required. But I’m not trapped in the paradigm of “I’m over here” and “you are out there”; I’m more able to see my world, human and natural, in more inclusive terms.
Now, I must point out that “I” was plucking the damn tulip! But in so doing the beauty of the moment was toying with my heart, bringing to my mind and heart the notion of “being plucked.” There is such magnificent beauty in the world but we can’t see, and feel, this beauty unless we are able to let go of the rigid ego-identification which our culture always mandates. But the ego identification is so insidious that we can’t even see it without having already somehow escaped its clutches. This is relevant to an old philosophical bromide that I came across decades ago, “You can’t have a perspective on your perspective without somehow escaping it” ; or, “Asking someone to see his ‘self’ is like asking a fish to see water.” Or, even better yet, one of my Indian blog-o-sphere friends offered, “Someone who has fallen into a vat of marmalade can’t see anything but marmalade.” I liked his observation because it was new to me and registered dissonant at first, thus communicating to me effectively as I quickly mulled it over.
This drawing of distinction between “me and thee” is intrinsically a spiritual process. And I’m not even address “Spiritual” here though it is very relevant. I’m referring to “spiritual” as a human enterprise in the depths of the heart, a willingness to look inside which is an enterprise that our culture discourages. And if we deign to venture “there”, we will eventually end up wrestling with “God” in the realm of the “Spiritual.”