As we explore deeper awareness to our feelings, thoughts, emotions and actions, we can determine whether they’re joining or separating. Do they lead us deeper in love to our felt sense of interconnection, or away from love with felt sense of separation and restlessness. Linguistic structure generally favor’s ego’s desire for us to separate. Certainly, there is a language of the soul that facilitates a joining response. Semantically, we can play it through poetry, prose and musical lyric. Syntactically, we can attempt to pull the rug from the separated response by tense and emphasis. Rather than exploring the separating question of “Who am I?”, how about digging into “Who is ‘I’?” Or how about moving from, “Who are you?” to “Who is you?” Can you feel the difference? One has me drifting on the surface of life, tossed around in anxiety by people and events. The other carries me to a more solid, connecting place.
My mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer November, 1979. After a month of struggling with her body deterioration I filled with selfish anger at the prospect of not having the physical presence of a mother through my life journey. I had attached to all the wonderful support a mother gives her son, and no doubt, my challenge to achieve had been most fed by her. I’ll always remember her syntactic/semantic play in a question that’s changed my life and fed my spiritual exploration. She said, “Randy, WHAT are YOU holding on to?” It struck as lightening as I came to peace with her transformation from form to formless. Here was a fifty-four year old farm wife/teacher/funeral singer, steeped in conservative Norwegian Lutheran belief, providing Buddha’s deepest Noble Truths in a phrase that pulled the rug from me.
The YOU was no longer attached to all I identified with. The question was bigger than any question previously asked of me. The YOU wasn’t what I had achieved; it wasn’t what I had accumulated; it wasn’t what I identified with. The WHAT was empty and full. There was a deep relief in feeling we could never be separated. It was like she asked me to find my original face, before she had been born. Can you imagine that? My mother was asking me who I was before she bore me…as she was peacefully transforming from her body to the unknown.
I’ve since come to learn that our physical dying is often a lengthy process. While she still had a month to go before her last breath, there was a bluish/yellow/green halo that I perceived around her as she spoke that day. Many have called these experiences moments of enlightening. Tomorrow we celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment and a few days later we celebrate the light baby Jesus brought to us. These are all joining experiences, enlightening moments of joining, smashing ego’s temptation to separate us from our linguistically based thoughts. While the ‘big belonging’ unified experience is usually dissipated from language, for me a deeper study of language and how we use it semantically and syntactically can do a lot for facilitating the unified experience.
Who “is” YOU?