I find this a fascinating inquiry as my teacher, Jack Petranker, asks us to “look—within ordinary experience—for the quality of aliveness“.
I am curious about darkness and color… looking inward, whether associated with mental images, and the space that accompanies them, or the appearing of insight like a light out of an inward darkness. I am as fascinated by the dark space as I am with what appears in the light.
I remember from one of Jack’s classes a year or two ago called ‘The Feel of Sensing’, in which he discussed how redness arises in the act of our seeing an apple. While red seems like it’s so basic and fundamental, but in fact it’s not there in the apple, but a kind of abstracting through an act or operation of our way of seeing.
I’ve learned from science that black is what you see when a surface absorbs all light hitting it. White is what you see when a surface ‘reflects‘ all light hitting it. So when you look at a surface, the color you see is the light that is reflected. For example, a red apple absorbs all light but the color red, which it reflects. We see the reflected light and it registers in our memory as what we have previously associated and labeled as red apple.
Inwardly, I’ve noticed a memory of some event in my life is often not crystal clear, not all the light of knowing of that remembered moment is with me now, so I see shadows and dark areas in my inward looking. If I sat with the memory over a period of time, hours or days, more of the memory would appear from the dimness, but not all of it, because a memory is just that, a dim recalling of a summary of the actual event. The memory involves what I have through process constructed it to be, what I conducted over time, as I review it now in the same mental space it was originally formulated.
So I look to the present as ‘things‘ arrive out of the dark horizon into the inward light. Just observing is calming, it slows breathing and calms all the appearances down to a trickle, and I seem to shift to what Jack describes in his Orientation for Week 6 as, “a deeper knowing, an at-homeness in the dynamic flow of time“. With this deeper knowing, there appears to be illumination, but not off the surface of things so much, also there is still darkness that I can’t seem to penetrate. Perhaps this is near the spark of life, near the zero-point prior to conducting light and darkness, in which sometimes a sense or feel of me is present, and in another moment that ‘me-sense’ is forgotten. It feels like there is a knowing/feeling of the capacity to know. Emerging from this calmness feels refreshing, the feeling of something fundamental has occurred. I am happy to be alive.
This may sound odd, but the past weeks have actually been a sad time for me, my wife passed away about a month ago, but I rely on TSK and practice to nourish and help me through this difficult time. Beneath the normal day to day living, even the sadness, there is the spark of aliveness that is always available. Tapping in to that aliveness is enormously helpful.