I'm hungry; so the taste is especially good. More than good; at this moment, it seems like the perfect food. Appetite has sharpened my awareness, and each bite is a delicious surprise, one after the other. The miracle of these disparate elements coming together in one lucullan blend floors me.
I think - how many other small treasures would increase in depth and beauty if I took the time to look at them fully, the way I am now looking at this breakfast? How many times am I not seeing, because I am looking with unopened eyes?
It is obvious to me that I do this; look without seeing. I know it because I can tell the difference when I do otherwise. Possibly it is sheer laziness that keeps me from doing it all the time; I have some chores to do, I want to sleep through them, so rather than staying intent and conscious on the moments in front of me, I slip into automatic pilot. I nap.
When I do this, my internal machinery steers the ship; it knows its job. Three hours later the chores are done, but without the participation of my self. It seems like a good enough transaction; things got done, didn't they? And yet...
There is another reason I sometimes nap; my instinctive wish to avoid the things I don't like. Listening to a conversation that seems trivial, for instance, may cause me to move my mind elsewhere and let my head nod at appropriate intervals. Doing this, I think I am saving myself from boredom.
The truth is, going unconscious saves nothing; whenever I sleep, I am the loser. things get done, yes -- but any joys inherent in the process slip by without my noticing. And here is the worst news: when my self is not there, there is no force present to alter or amend the event itself.
For example, I used to hate going to the dentist. I would enter the office with a grimace, endure the whole appointment with narrowed eyes and tightened jaw, and walk out like a human fist on legs.
But one day, as I sat in the waiting room, deep in aversion to the moments ahead, I did something different. I stopped myself from going asleep in self defense. As best I could, I relaxed every muscle in my body. I closed my eyes, took some authentic breaths, and began to appreciate the chair I was sitting on. With my breath in full operation, my focus was intense, and I could actually feel the kindness of the cushion I rested on, and the arms that supported my elbows. Think of the generosity of that support! My feet had a comfortable floor holding them up; there was faint music playing on the intercom. It was clear to me that the music had only one purpose: to soothe me. I began to sink into what felt like a river of safety.
By the time they called me into the small room where sharp instruments and cold jets of water awaited me, I was no longer tense with fear. Believe it or not, I was able to see those strange silver tools as friends; and the jets of water as a sidebar blessing. The dentist seemed utterly harmless; a helpful mechanic putting things in order quickly and quietly. I felt an enormous fondness for his skill and silence.
Perhaps it will not surprise you when I tell you that this appointment flew by in minutes and I felt no pain or distress whatever throughout the treatment.
And that's what can happen when the Self stays present. When I am looking very, very closely at a given moment-- free of aversion, free of fear, free of memories, free of judgment, free of barriers -- the moment suddenly steps out of its box and becomes a gift.
Funny, isn't it, how often large lessons come from small events.