– For Madhu and Viv
Sometimes, in a life, there may be a single moment out of time, when a connection occurs that is breathtaking. It leaves you speechless and you feel your will bows to something greater than itself.
A moment so remarkable that it makes you stop in your tracks and rise out of your self.
This is a moment when the psyche connects with itself and also with something/ everything outside of itself. You could call such an experience a moment of impersonal awareness. It is so awe-inspiring that you cannot forget it.
If you have had one or more of these moments, then you’ll know what I mean. And if you haven’t, then just think of a time when you’ve been struck or commanded to deep reverence and silence. The energy of such moments is very special. For some musicians I know it might be the moment of a deep connection with their music and their audience. Or it could be a time of connection in nature.
There is a particular energy in such a moment – it is hard to put into words, but you feel it inside of you and all around you. In my experience, having such a moment in mind, the energy lasted for hours, and even now several years on, I can reactivate the lingering reverberation. I felt a separation between my awareness and my body in this moment of connection - and as my body moved away, carried passively by the car I was driving and somehow could not stop, my spirit stayed and part of me is still there.
I would not be without such a moment. It brings a different quality to your life.
There are moments of such experience of different intensity – some mild and pleasing, others moderate and stronger, some intense and even overwhelming. This last category can be so potent its effect lingers for a very long time, possibly even a lifetime.
Who would not be without such moments? If you have had any experience at all like what I am describing, then you will know how difficult it is not to become attached to such an experience, let alone overwhelmed by it. This is particularly true of the most potent variety.
It gives you a feeling of certainty, of connectedness within and without, of direction and support. Without thinking or meaning to, you invest what was within that moment – the place, sounds, smells, feelings, people – with an importance that cannot be denied.
You can build a path forward from such a moment, which keeps that direction and support alive. You trust in its inner rightness, you have an inner faith.
But then, fast forward. The world gets involved in the conversation. You start to suspect that the experience might have been an illusion, possibly the fruit of your seeking psyche in need; or that the experience may have given rise to further illusions. Does that matter? Does it affect the integrity of the experience itself or the reaction it has triggered?
The world and your mind get in the way to undermine it, like taking in a pure gold ring to be valued and finding out it’s really cheap metal. All this interference is like rust on a ring, that obscures its original purity and light. You are no longer as purely connected to that experience. The memory is still there to be activated, but you find it hard to maintain your faith with all these increasingly resistant overlays, layers of paint covering the original walls.
So you feel a little uneasy and disappointed, maybe cheated. Over time these feelings are likely to intensify rather than diminish. You might feel devastated, deeply disappointed, even abandoned or deceived. Ultimately you may feel bereaved, as you will feel that you have lost something so precious. Something that you were not grasping on to, and trying to preserve, but something which was just there, just something that happened. You did not seek it or chase it, it came to you, as strong and steady as a glance.
It is hard not to feel such strong emotions when you have invested so much, involuntarily, in the response to this unplanned, unexpected treasure of a moment’s experience.
Perhaps you invested too much, because it was only a moment. Yet moments out of time, extraordinary moments, are hard to treat as mundane. They have a larger than life quality that commands your obedience and respect.
How can you hold on to that essential feeling even when you see that the moment too has its shadow? Should you even try?
Indeed the shadow of the moment is where you reside. From the shadow you can see the light, in the light you are simply blinded.
However, if you stay in this place, this dark and disappointed place, you can only become diminished. The person you are, the awareness you felt you had connected with, is suffocated and killed. You end up feeling less than you were. You and it are lost.
It was your experience, it still is. No matter what else, it always is. Only if you can realise that the essential integrity of the original experience is unperturbed, unruffled, untroubled by the noise of everyday life, maybe even by truth - then, despite the rust, overcoming doubt, you can perhaps still unlock the door to the secret garden.
‘It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together…All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rose-bushes if they were alive. There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees. There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look stranges and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselve. There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground. It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious. Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had ever seen in her life.’
- from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett