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Dave Brisbin

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

Jesus’ Way, the practice of presence, of stepping away from the verbal use and abuse of the mind, is impossible to put into words. Since we are putting words aside in order to experience real presence, words can never detail what we find there. At least not directly. One of the best attempts to describe a transcendent, contemplative experience is a poem of course, A Great Wagon by Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic. It’s the one with the famous line: Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

Though that line gets all the attention, each line and metaphor points toward a going beyond everything we think holds life in place. Beyond law, morality, ethics, logic, theology, doctrine, material possessions, even the laws of physics and any illusion of certainty, there is a field. When we lie down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense. As humans, even after having such an experience of being, we will still wake the next day empty and afraid. But if we don’t fly back to our words, if we keep playing the music, even the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell. The poet then warns us three times: don’t go back to sleep.

It’s all about awareness, about waking up inside our waking lives. Most of us are sleepwalking, barely conscious of the unseen unity at the core of life, the perfect love that alone has power great enough to cast out fear. Fears that make us crave those word-based enemies of presence: law, logic, material possessions, whatever makes us feel powerful and certain. But waking up takes time and a persevering desire for more than physical life seems to hold. As Rumi says, the music of a desire as widespread as Spring begins to move like a great wagon. Drive slowly. Some of us walking alongside are lame!

Waking up is a slow process, and we all go back to sleep at one point or another. Life is too traumatic at times to always keep eyes open. But to lie in the grass of that field out-beyond even once, is to have found the awareness and desire to wake again, eyes open longer each time we do.


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