In the between

It occurred to me today, thinking about relationality, that the reason it is necessary to get the attention away from thoughts is so that the mind becomes empty and focused on nothing (this is not the same as not being focused). I relate to my thoughts. My emotions are exercised. I become involved. Therefore there is a need to disengage from all that is relative so that I may focus on the Absolute. The Absolute, though, is not there to be focused upon.

Relating to a person is easy. We do it instinctively. In a meaningful relationship more is communicated than that which is seen or heard. Although the communication is in the seeing, the look, it is not itself what is seen. It is, rather, in the feeling, the emotion and the meaning of the emotion – love, anger, guilt, fear, anguish – which is communicated. It is mutuality, each participating in the being of the other – what the Japanese call aidagara, betweenness. Another word they use is basho, place, locus. This relationship is the ‘place’ where I am located. It is not in me, nor outside me, but in the between of the other and me. Hence the difficulty with God. There is no seen or felt God. There may have been experiences in the past, numinous and otherwise, but they were nearly always fleeting irruptions, momentary glimmers in the all-pervading darkness. There may too have been, at times, a sense of presence, more an intuition than a feeling and, at other times, a sense of belonging, kinship, of being part of a no longer alien world. These were times when cracks appeared in the enclosing walls of the self. But most of the time there is simply this dull lump of a self, bereft of the finer emotions and heavy with inertia. The only option is to leave the self on one side, to focus the mind on nothing – not self, not thoughts, not emotions or feelings, simply on the breath and the mantra until they disappear and there is nothing. Sometimes this absence of anything becomes a vast and empty nothingness which is like going home. This is the aidagara, the locus of the relationship with Absolute Nothingness.

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