The Body is a Fiesta:
Naps, Meditation & Vertical Time

Posted 27-January: 204
by Bill Scheffel



Potential to "reset"

Meditation is not a process of manufacturing a state of mind but one of simply beginning to recognize what is. As one familiarizes oneself with what is, the practice of mindfulness, one begins to recognize that thoughts are just thoughts, a recognition which brings a moment of sudden freedom and openness, you could say a moment of vertical time.

This recognition, the product of our innate insight, "just happens." It is like sitting in a room where the electricity has gone off and then suddenly it comes back on; we know we didn't make the electricity return. Unlike the electric lights in our home, the clarity of our insight or celestial nature arises within ourselves, it is innate, yet is not something we can claim as "ours." It cannot be domesticated, but is like a wild animal that just appears. Unlike our dog, who can see and pet whenever we wish, this animal allows us to see it - and then disappears into our invisible homeland.

Meditation is a discipline that establishes the conditions for this insight to be recognized, a process little different than when a child is asked to take a "time out" so he or she can recognize that what was occurring before was simply a tantrum. The parents know that just by stopping the child, his or her composure will return naturally. Our acquired conditioning is a form of a tantrum and has an uncanny ability to keep us convinced it is real, that it is safe, like a homeland, if only we can master it. But it is an ersatz homeland, always. Our innate insight arises without content. It is awareness. Things occur "within" it, but it can not occur within what arises, being "not even one, but zero." It is the ultimate threat to our conditional homeland. Every time we recognize moments of awake, we "reset" ourselves. We cross over. We go native. We change allegiance. We take on the identity of zero, the gap.


Our life offers continuous opportunities to reset, a process that is essentially free and that we have a right to exercise, in the same way we have a "right" to breathe. Not to exercise it is like suffocation or at the very least missing the unique meal the dralas have prepared to share with us.


Curiously, taking a short nap is an excellent form of reset, perhaps sometimes our best “meditation” (who knows). In her essay, What are Masterpieces and Why Are There So Few of Them, Gertrude Stein wrote, "Picasso once remarked I do not care who it is that has or does influence me as long as it is not myself." When we wake up from nap - or anytime we pass from sleep into waking consciousness - for that moment, we are not ourselves. That is it often jarring, bewildering or even frightening to cross this threshold indicates this: we've lost track of who we are for a moment and been reset. That panic or uncertainty is the openness we have momentarily fallen into.


If we train ourselves to notice what does influence us in such a moment, to catch, as it were, our immediate insight or first thought we begin to restore the incessant creativity of vertical time into our consciousness. That insight, unlike the habitual story-lines of discursive thought, is a fresh, unmediated "message." You could say it is a thought of the dralas.


One can't hold onto that moment, much less figure it out. It's not unlike waking from a dream and simultaneously being unable to quite remember the dream or fully grasp the insight one may have had about the dream. But what a creative and fresh set of circumstances there uncertainties are! This is the electricity of vertical time, maybe fifteen watts, maybe sixty.·


There is something equally significant that occurs in the nap. We re-enter our body. Horizontal time is the forward momentum of stress, drive, ambition, anxiety, type-A behavior, of our perhaps most ingrained acquired conditioning: doing. A nap cuts this momentum the way an ax blade might slice a garden hose, severing the water pressure. The break in our thought patterns goes hand in hand with relaxation, and in the simplicity we did not to bring about except lay down and close our eyes, we enter our body. To do this even once a day is a revolutionary act in the service of vertical time.


. . . .


In the last year of his life I had begun to study with Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi. In his lyrical directness one felt the drala principle and saw it revealed, especially· in Kobun Roshi's lack of agenda. A question might prompt him to do a calligraphy and from the calligraphy would emerge an "answer." On one of his talks, for instance, he drew attention to the fact of how we always thing we "are bad" and the teacher is someone who tells is otherwise, but he added, "Don't misunderstand -- this teacher is not always a person. It can embrace you like morning dew in a field, and you get a strange feeling, Oh, this is it, my teacher is this field. This is an example of the dralas offering us a meal, a circumstance from the phenomenal world occurring in our consciousness as a corrective wisdom, as a guide.


In one of Kobun's classes we were practicing meditation, as we always did for a period of time, and after the session, Kobun said, "They are very interested in you when you sit." What a remarkable thing to realize or to begin to trust in: when we release ourselves from engaging with our habitual thought stream, other "beings" become interesting is us. If that is so, then why? The only answer is that in those moments we become available and the dralas are longing to meet us.


Another way to understand this is to realize that in the moments of reset we become host for the dralas. And the only sacrifice we need to make in order to receive these guest is to release the hold on the way we usually think. That is a very small sacrifice! But because we fail to make it, you could say that we are destroying the mountains, rivers and forests of our planet. Lord Mukpo spoke to us in no uncertain terms about the drala's longing to meet us. At a program in 1980, he had introduced a meditation practice (or sadhana) and had come, unbeknownst to us, to observe the practice from the back of the room. He was disappointed in what he saw and couple of days late spoke to us in a talk.


I was hoping... that the drala principle would descend on you and become part of you. So far as I have seen here – maybe I have been coming at the wrong time of the day, but I have watched the things happening· here – the sadhana was poorly attended, and it was very stiff, like what we have now. There was no humor. Usually, when you and I get together, we have some kind of fun. That is true of each of you. We always do. So that is the message: why don’t you use that kind of fun to improvise something else? I feel somewhat frustrated, myself... I feel that I could give you, impart to you, introduce to· you, such wonderful ladies and gentlemen of the drala principle. They are longing to meet you. At this point I’m afraid I have to be very bold: they’re longing to meet you! So why on earth do you have to create a barrier to exclude the dralas from your life? For heaven’s sake, heaven and earth, can’t we just relax a little bit. And please, shed a few tears. That will help a lot.


Here Lord Mukpo makes clear that meeting the dralas requires our participation, and really our hunger for them. We must cross a certain threshold which is composed of hundreds of years denial of this kind of thinking, which has become forbidden to us, as in a witch burning that later became scientific. This threshold of rationality, though created over centuries is itself so thin as to be essentially not even there, but, composed as it is of habit we take it seriously, as our parents, and those before them, etc. We can't slog through it horizontally, but we can escape it so easily in vertical fashion, by capsizing up. There is nothing "irrational" about the dralas any more than those of another culture are irrational, and yet, as we know, the projection of irrationality upon the other or the enemy is the mainstay of cultural identity. All in all, it does take a sense of humor and requires shedding some tears to awaken the courage to discover our ancestral homeland. In a sense, it is one thing to have a single epiphany or even one once in a while, but what if we become confronted with epiphany after epiphany, what if we begin to ask that of ourselves. That is a very real and demanding hunger.


It is essential to see that meeting the dralas has nothing to do with fantasy, which in fact would be the farthest thing from meeting them, since fantasy is a kind of idle cultivation of thought, like a sexual fantasy, whereas the experience of the dralas is a felt sense of them, something we begin to notice and become fluent in. A fantasy would do the hunter no good at all and hunting is as an aspect of meeting the dralas, having that kind of attunement to each moment as well as a familiarity with the landscape, a way of studying it again and again. Another way to consider how meeting the dralas in not a fantasy or approached through fantasy is to consider the radical difference between having a sexual fantasy and falling in love.


The hunger we have for the dralas is the hunger of falling in love which is the hunger from our primordial homeland which is the hunger for our teacher. We may not meet our teacher for a long time. We may have a single day or perhaps only a single hour with him or her (I know someone who met Lord Mukpo that day before he died; that one hour became equivalent to a decade or more that other had). We may never meet our teacher and it is possible we already have. The teacher awakens us to our self, whenever that process occurs we are meeting our teacher. So who is our teacher? And must she or he be "alive"?


. . . .


To return to the theme or our body and the process of reset, let us consider the postures that we are always in. From the age of one or two - if we are healthy and without disability - until the declines of old age, we are either sitting, standing, walking or lying down. Of course we are usually doings so many things, either mentally or physically or both that we seldom think in such terms, but it is precisely through consciously inhabiting the simplicity of each of these four postures that vertical time can be recognized and the dralas invoked. Eduardo Galliano wrote a poem that clarifies the confusion we have about our body


The Body

The church says the body is a sin.
Science says the body is a machine.
Advertising says the body is a market.
The body says, I am a fiesta.

We could say that our acquired conditioning is the combination of the false voice, the church, which says we sin and keeps us afraid, science which keeps us ignorant of all that it is not, and advertising, which keeps us hungry, desiring in order·to consume more. But our body, our celestial nature, our world says, I am a fiesta.