I can picture the golden midnight hour of existence where the souls of the dead live in complete harmony with their own inner sound. I can imagine ships of the air sailing there on prosperous waves. And, closer at hand, I can feel the midpoint of the year approaching like a grassy hilltop which commands all directions and none. I want to arrive at all these points – metaphorically at least – in consciousness. But how? My ways and means fail me. I lose belief and fall into the shadows on one side of the path. I lose confidence and slip towards a steep drop on the other. My mind is unsteady, like a rockpool which changes with each tide. My feelings, my will, my hope and my trust are like the fluctuations of sand and crustacea drifting in the depths of the pool.
I turn for help to those souls of the dead. To my father. Surely a father is the one who bestows faith and confidence in your childlike interior, particularly one who wavered on the path himself? And, with heart in mouth, I ask the masters who guard the knowledge of ascension in their high places. From the first, I experience good heart and humor; from the second, observance: follow the steps which have been prescribed since ancient times. Be diligent.
There is no actual summit that is not also a beginning. The midnight hour leads back to earth again, the midsummer point tails off towards Fall. However, there is a humming, a sound, a musicality. The tone of souls – perhaps only bees and flowers, who knows? The only way to reach it in consciousness is humankind. Did Buddha have to achieve perfection in order to become perfect? A contradiction! He had to go through the stages of humanity, represented by incarnations as an elephant, a tiger, a blind man and so forth. Who can be perfect before the time? There is only good heart and humor, and observance. Practice your eight-fold path, your six-fold path and others. Open a space each day for contemplation and silence – for observing your own life and the world as if from a hilltop. The summit is already here, each step is a beginning. And there is always good company on the way, of those who have gone before.
And so I might come last to the hilltop
and yet be first – there is no completion
that is not also a bright beginning,
no edge not given by right of earning.
I will lay myself down on that hilltop
and lose all advantage of direction,
and forget my name and nature as well,
and forget that I’ve forgotten as well.
There is peace at the midpoint of the year -
peace from self and from learning, peace from all -
just a prominence where everything stays
by merit, no entitlement unearned.
Is confidence the gift of a father
to his son – and belief in the road’s end?
In the angled sunlight I find a path
with shades of disbelief to the one side
and a deep, clifflike drop to the other.
Where my father has gone I will go too.
The path, in its sloping allegory,
leads up to the midnight hour of sunlight
where seas become air and islands slip down
between prosperous waves and their bright crests.
I have a father in that golden flood
and only need to keep my eyes ahead.
And did Buddha himself need perfection
to reach what lay golden in his own soul?
The virtue of the unascended lives
in keeping to the path, not arriving.
My mind is a rockpool, changing with tides;
heart, will, hope and trust are fluctuations
in its depths, shifting sand, loose crustacea.
Never to be perfect, simply become.
Each silent thought, in its pain, needs rescued -
enlightenment is a place to begin.
There is a golden sea, a crowned hilltop,
but only in observance and ascent.
Best wishes, today,
©Jay Landar 2013. All rights reserved
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