Sunday, December 16, 2012
Copyright Lance Kinseth 2012
RADIANCE IS THAT WHICH we refer to in namaste as perhaps its essence—seeing light emanating from ourselves and from others and from all events that we experience. But seeing the radiance is perhaps much more rare than imagining the radiance when we offer namaste. Seeing radiance requires practiced calmness and openness.
Sometimes radiance may come spontaneously in what we call “peak experiences.” Perhaps we are in a rare landscape and come to experience a light emanating from everything, from objects or other persons or the flow of wind or water. But as a peak experience, we stand to quickly lose it.
In Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard writes,
Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at
all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar
where the mourning doves roots charged and transfigured, each cell
buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that
was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like
seeing than being for the first time seen, knocked breathless by a powerful
glance. The flood of fire abated but I am still spending the power.
Similarly, from a poetic perspective, in the international anthology of poetry edited by Czeslaw Milosz, A Book Of Luminous Things [Harcourt Brace, 1996], Milosz selects poems that are realist and accessible, and that ‘illuminate’ the “secret of a thing.”
When we get it and however we get it and for however long we have it, one of the qualities that this ‘light’ produces is a sense of the disappearance of otherness—separation. At first, this holistic view can appear to be a dream, because the world that awe have come to know seems to be a landscape of differences. And yet, the obvious differences may come to be understood to be facets of the whole. And emotionally, there be the experience of expansion, thus reducing anxiety that may be associated with a sense of constriction and isolation/separation, and a newfound landscape of support.
The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are
always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always
emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding
to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.
It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it
even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.
[76, Zen maser Yuansou, in Thomas Cleary, Zen Essence]
Such luculent, luminous radiance will most likely remain invisible in the fast pace of the everyday. In the return of daylight that marks the coming of the New Year in the Northern Hemisphere, this light may be symbolically expressed in the electrified Yule tree and lights that decorate houses and lawn ornaments that metaphorically illuminate the everyday.
But in any season, by stilling and quieting and calming, Dillard’s “lights/fire” and Milosz’s “secret of a thing” and Yuansou’s “subtle, precious light”—may be opened and lived.