Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Look closely enough and you can see the metaphor in anything. For me, cosmology conjures strings between what is out there and what is within us. These infinite and tiny facing mirrors that make me wonder if who we are is just an echo of what has always been.

And as I was watching 'The Universe' recently it linked in my mind to this book I read called
Open to Desire: The Truth about What Buddha Taught. The book is about the nature of desire and how we confuse it and make ourselves suffer because of it. Buddha taught that it's human nature to suffer. But to say it's because we are attached to things is a mistranslation. There is no way around being attached to things and people. But clinging to them -- that's where the suffering begins. It's the simple difference between holding a coin in your hand with a closed fist or an open palm. One method grips and worries; the other frees and offers.

I've done this. I've gripped onto relationships that were wrong for me because I feared being alone more than I worried about being with someone who didn't want or know my best and whom I couldn't help in happiness. But those relationships only made me suffer amidst questions and struggle and the discomfort of knowing someone isn't right for you despite what your heart may need.

The author describes how to avoid the clinging that can distort desire like this:

The problem is not desire: it is clinging to, or craving, a particular outcome, one in which there is no remainder, in which the object is completely under our power. … The trick, as far as Buddhism is concerned, is to accept the fact that no experience can ever be as complete as we would wish, that no object can ever satisfy completely….

Allowing ourselves into desire's abyss turns out to be the key to a more complete enjoyment of its fruits. By experiencing desire in its totality: gratifying and frustrating, sweet and bitter, pleasant and painful, successful and yet coming up short, we can use it to awaken our minds. The dualities that desire seems to take for granted can be resolved through a willingness to drop into the gap between them. Even living in the world of senses, we can be free.

So the gap becomes this place of true desire. This freedom to let go of fixed notions of how a person should act or be because the essence of connection is there even when it's clear you are separate and imperfect. Even when you feel disconnected and even when you are in synchronicity. The dualities fall away because they can never encompass the width of experiencing another person. So desire can become something that frees instead of something that holds.

I think desire is a force that moves us because we want to go back to our origin, that moment before dualities when all was one. Lovers are like gravity, pulling us into them like a planet weighing down the fabric of spacetime. Sex is this moment of movement and combination that, yes, can potentially lead to creation like that origin did – but more importantly can always lead to orgasm, this incredible release of energy and joy that lights us up like that first moment of the universe when there was no longer darkness but a point of light that burst forth like our moans and shouts and expanded like that moment expands us and makes us feel one and the same and connected to everything. Every time we lock and move ourselves into each other, every time we surrender and open and push into each other, we have that chance to feel that moment when everything – everything – was connected and one. To recreate that moment of origin when we forget what we are and only know the pure bliss of connection and heat and joy and passion and love and rush and awe.

We aren't meant to be still – to cling to each other in stillness. We hold on tight to still moments because of their joy or power, but the universe is meant to be in constant motion, has been in constant motion since that first moment of incomprehensible singularity. Inside us, DNA and cells spin like tiny clock parts. Blood flows, breath billows and contracts in an ocean rhythm, thoughts form and fall. Go larger: Earth spins, the moon orbits, the planets circle the sun in ellipse, the solar system twirls in the moving Milky Way, which moves out and out by the universe's expansion, this stretch and pull of spacetime fabric.

So when we cling we disobey the laws of the universe. We knock against an unnatural wall of being. Only when we give into flow and flaw, only when we accept that we and life can never be truly still, do we discern our connection to all. As we can in that moment of desire fulfilled that begins and ends in movement, that makes our bodies shiver and our hearts beat harder. And isn't that the point? Only connect. This metaphor of things in balance that repeats itself from the way our bodies fit to the way dark energy interacts with visible energy to the way all things come in combination.

In the episode, an astrophysicist says we're too stupid to know the nature of the universe on our own. We needed all the men of the past to wonder and wander in calculation and explanation so we could stand on their shoulders to see the universe in its still-incomplete picture. So the answer, the key, is to be connected to all of that. Knowing there are secrets to the universe we cannot know in our lifetime. Knowing there are depths to each of us that cannot be deciphered.

But we do have this chance to move into each other, to let each other be part of us and not part of us. To see that the point of all this combination and motion is to have moments when there is no need for definition, no need to place borders around what is me and what is you. To simultaneously connect and let go and open to the mysteries that are within and without and that can be known by these moments of perception that can only be felt in surrender, in release, in desire.