Reblogged from zenothestoic.com
“Words from a Garden” by Anthony Garner.
Why is there something rather than nothing, he mused. Does life have any purpose.
Are we merely a jumbled collection of quarks and leptons or part of some grand design, something much bigger altogether.
He wondered, as he sat in his Edenic and walled garden, why he so badly needed to know. Why, since early childhood the concept of “no thing” had so disturbed him. If not this universe then what. How was “no thing” possible.
What were the answers and where were they to be found. Did he but know it he had spent his life seeking. In all the wrong places.
Had he advice to give, anything to help his younger self stumbling along the path. Or any other soul seeking to make sense of the maelstrom of life on earth.
There is no sense to be found, cried the materialists. All is physics they said and life a random element of evolution. Consciousness they claimed is an illusion, we have no self merely a string of memories we use to guide us in making predictions. Driven be a sightless urge evolved to spread our virus, our very lives no more than a carrier and we no better than a disease.
Surely, he reasoned, we might be said to be greater than the sum of our parts. Or was the ability to witness our universe and to sense our very existence yet another mirage dreamt up by a mindless algorithm.
I refute it thus, he thought and buried himself deeper in the mystery. Appealing not to the stone of Bishop Berkeley, but to the witness of his own changing thought patterns. To his ripening ability to enter a different reality even if only within the confines of his own mind.
He leant back in his chair and closed his eyes. A mist descended and that world so often called reality receded to be replaced by something other. Something altogether more benign. Which then was more “real”, internal or external.
Gradients of bliss were what he sought and in that alternate reality he often seemed to find them. He asked to be “where no storms come…out of the swing of the sea”. In such moods he found himself ” in fields where flies no sharp and sided hail and a few lilies blow”.
In such a world all became clear. Brutality and hunger did not exist, ambition and the quest for ever more made no sense. Creed and foolish dogma held no sway there and man did not kill man in pursuit of some fabricated ideal.
Was it an escape from harsh mundanity, from the often cruel and pointless. Was it a valid quest, this journey into a different reality which seemed at such times so close. He thought he saw transcendence, witnessed it, entered into a realm where all was well.
At these moments, the world made sense, if world it was he witnessed. Who was there, did anyone come to meet him. A creator perhaps or at least an omnipotence. He thought not, at least not persons or entities that he would normally recognize on a more terrestrial plane.
Something was there though. An indefinable sense of being. And well being at that. Creature of his own mind some would say and yet if so, what a creation, what a different way to exist. What a state to enjoy.
Drifting deep in meditation he sometimes found himself in a situation he recognized from waking “reality” and sometimes not. He is aware that he is aware. He is aware that he perceives, that he has or is consciousness. But what he is or quite where he is often eludes him altogether at such moments.
Sometimes he believes he may be a note of music as he seems to hear the deep and dark melody of a glorious cello. His being is intertwined with that music, that note. He is it, it is him. Who is playing or where the playing is performed does not matter and time itself seems to have no purchase. He is. No more seems necessary, no explanation required.
At other moments or places in this sea of infinity he is colour and pattern. He is in and integrally part of some great and beautiful scene, abstract at times and then something more recognizable. A field of flowers perhaps, gently waving in the breeze. A barque upon a sea whose white and wind filled sails lead on to some fabled land beyond a wall of blue water, where snow glistens upon distant mountains and the sun shines on gentle uplands. A blue sky with a light wind and the cry of wheeling gulls. The tang of a salt breeze.
Where are you he said, show yourself if you are to be found. But the answers were not so much ill defined as unexpected and arcane. It is not that simple they seemed to say. We are and we are not. Things work differently here. We are you and you us. Or neither, perhaps even existence itself is illusory.
While some may find alarm in such apparent chaos, he found great joy and calm. He did not expect to find sense in any conventional terms.
And yet sense he did find in an altogether more satisfactory manner. Common sense ceased to matter. Material existence was nowhere to be found, just a profound peace in an infinity without beginning or end.
The numinous some would say, the divine. Back in the world of men and letters such states had been described as best they might for thousands of years and across all races and creeds.
The Cloud of Unknowing wrote one such contemplative some 700 years ago. A liberation wrote another, sitting under a tree. A state of perfect peace and nothingness at the very fount of all that is or ever was or will be.
When he woke to find physical presence once again it was with a slowness and a realization that life was to be lived for the sort of dreams and ecstasy he had found within. If indeed there was any such difference between within and without. Increasingly he came to understand that there need not be.
Quietness and slowness and silence were the way to lead life, he knew. And simplicity within and without. To see and hear beauty at every twist and turn in a world which, while apparently physical, was in most senses as immaterial as anything encountered in the midst of meditation.
Matter they said had no solidity. All was energy arranged in such a way as to produce the appearance of stability. How wonderful then was this world and how closely did it reflect the visions he had seen from within.
And so he would listen to birdsong along the shoreline and he would play music and sing in quiet and ancient places. He would live among flowers and trees and he would write and he would read.
Why is there something rather than nothing, he mused. Does life have any purpose. I am, he said. Let that be enough.