Inviting Light

Cape May Beach

Working With Memories – (DTS Exercise 18 – Pastness Knowledge), can be quite similar to inviting “light as source by sinking ‘beneath’ the contents of mind, turning to inward illumination.” DTS 212 That is what Ken and I were doing while exploring memories, though we approached from different perspectives outwardly, you could say we both approached…

“Neither accepting thoughts as guides nor rejecting them as enemies, we grow intimate with the byways of the ordinary.” 212

A day at the beach has me remembering a friend who died here playing in the surf, many, many years ago. I was away at war, but was told what happened by my best friend. Our friend was big, with a face like a prize fighter; pushed-in nose, slight cauliflower ears, short black hair in ringlets when wet. I doubt he ever had a fight or even knew how. He was a facilitator, he mediated or alternatively, his imposing appearance gave anyone thinking of fighting a good reason to keep themselves in check. This day he was happy bodysurfing in a roiling Cape May surf, after a Nor’easter had passed through the previous day stirring up the waters.

In those days we bodysurfed with our arms at our sides, so only our heads peeked out ahead of the wave as we rode it. A successful run was catching the wave just right, just ahead of its apex and riding it like a board into shore. This time, however, our friend caught a large one, but instead of the wave rolling in, it rose high and crashed driving him, and his head, straight into the hard sea floor beneath him, and broke his neck.

Those on the beach, talking in their chairs, noticed him floating face down close to shore. At first they thought he was playing, but after a few moments my best friend ran down to the surf and turned him over. He was looking up at him, blinking, paralyzed, unable to move or breath, his face turning bluer…

Ken and I have been working with memories for many months, they are the stuff of our lives, we make them every moment, some pleasant and some not so much. The point is to see them, and also see through them to their structure, and not simply be carried away by the story and its emotional charge…NOT by cutting yourself off from your feelings, but by allowing them to arise and then by fully embodying them, not flinching and turning away. It’s not useful to enjoy only the fuzzy warm and good-feeling ones, and avoid the painful ones if you can help it. That’s how you unearth what remembrances are made of. The high and low rest on an ocean of emotion that runs beneath everything we do. Better to understand and be intimate with the nature of the experience of emotion than be unaware, and thus often set adrift.

My friend, Ken, is remembering a different interval, a child’s low to the ground, perhaps simpler time, fun/not fun moments that scurry like sand crabs along the surface at the edge of an ocean. The single-minded ambition toward the wet and wonderful, the free and fulfilling, ever changing sea…

Ken sent me an altered version of this poem after wrestling with it. He said feeling exasperated at having to fuss with the re-write… “Such tanglings! Such a fuss! Is there never a finish? Next question: Is there ever a start? Could be that’s what so enchanting about the sea, the unending touch of it, like a child’s sense of a long car trip, are we there yet? Lean into stillness, finish doing the dishes, then think of what next to do, then take a step. Rinpoche once asked me: in what direction would you step to get closer to the edge of space? I mumbled something and wandered off towards an empty cushion.

Day At The Beach
By Ken McKeon

Huntington Beach

I’ve had it with the noisy badgering days on the beach,
Loaded down with gear: blankets, an umbrella,
Chests of food, drink, candy bars, cookies,
Bags of Frito’s, carefully wrapped up sweet pickles.
All of it we trundled across hot sand,
The bulky load slipping from my hands
To elbows to knees and gone, then
Back to hands with a pained lift and trudging
On to the best spot our now seaside family could find,
There we proceed to goop ourselves up with lotions
And oxides and voiced cautions to everybody,
Warnings of cramps and rip tides and drowning,
Until finally we’re all set except for Susan
Who left her cap in the car and has to pee
And misses her phone, and television and nearly
Everything else that she can’t have here
And when are we going, she can’t wait,
And what’s for lunch, she wants a Drumstick,
And although I did not know the words back then
I could give a flying fuck, that’s what I felt.


And I turned to quickly make my way down to the sea,
The sand before, going dark and damp, with silvery
Bubbling edges, with moving oncoming watery sheets
Of flattened out waves in their final reach to shore,
To me so happily caught up in the chill rush that welcomes
Me out into its building receding, until it joins
To become yet another wave, with more seen now
Further out, darkly lofting only to topple down walls,
These in their crash and smash with me diving as I
Have been taught under the shove and tumble
Of surf break, then rising breathlessly up to find
Myself singular in the grey hiss of the after being,
Wondrous magic silence of a new world with sky
Higher, further still than I’d ever thought to think.


Now, that’s off, it’s all a mist and I within it
Begin to look for myself in the others I find
Around me here, there, and we grin and laugh
And speak in low tones speechless words
And it’s really neat, even a sea change we’ve
Undergone until the rise and slap of a wave
Bounces us back and we play on through
The afternoon until a loud voice calls out we
Have to be going, so I slowly make my way in
From my unnamed brothers, in from the telling sea,
To find a dry towel, I use it, then I turn
To pick up some stuff and head back
To the car, each step an aching now,
A match of sorts to my shivering self,
Done now, done with what I had just come
To be out in this day’s opening deepening
Ways, ways older than old, ways new to me

About David Filippone

For more than 25 years I’ve been a 'student' of the Time, Space, Knowledge vision (TSK), not a teacher. And I write from an inquiring student's perspective neither proclaiming nor declaring. I figuratively sit in awe at the feet of a master, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. For the past 12 years, my personal TSK guide has been Jack Petranker, Director of the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, and the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI), past dean of the "Tibetan Nyingma Institute", and author of "When It Rains Does Space Get Wet?", "Inside Knowledge", and other TSK related books and articles... I've also received TSK instruction from the late, Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Retreat Center... As a volunteer for the past several years, I've been curating the often TSK focused, CCI Facebook page at...
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1 Response to Inviting Light

  1. michaelg says:

    Fascinating. Clearly two minds are better than one. Especially when they are one in a shared appreciation for engagement and remembrance. How haunting to hear that the annealing sea was the cause of a friend’s death. If the sea is our mother, it seems a kind of crib death to lose life in her arms. And you at war ultimately sailed clear.

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