Friday, August 3, 2012

In A Body

We begin again.  Hello Dewey.  I am delighted you found your way here. 

Tonight I would like to continue to reply to you personally.  Last night I was surprised how much I learned by reflecting on your questions. 

Al says, "I'm one of the simple visitors to the Innermost House Facebook page and blog. Frankly, many of the discussions are over my head... I came first because I'm interested in conservation, building and small homes, so I pay attention to remarks about how the house was built and how it operates. I'm also interested in simple living and am inspired by the stories about the foods you eat, your iron pot and Japanese bowls." 

Dear Al, I too am a simple visitor to this page.  And it is true of me as well that many of the Conversations I love are over my head.  But they are over my head as the sky is over my head.  I breathe in the sky with every breath.  It gives me life.  Perhaps the same is true of you. 

I am always doing things like this—but when I first read your words I read "conversation" instead of "conservation."  It is only now that I see what you actually said.

But it makes me wonder.  What is conservation really but entering into conversation with the larger, silent world of nature on which we all depend?  I am thankful that so many care enough to devote themselves to the preservation of our natural world.  I wonder if any effort we can make would bring about so great a change in our natural relations as receiving the woods as an honored guest at our firesides, and opening our hearts to her in gentle conversation?

I love what you love.  I love the woods.  I love the great open spaces of my little house.  I love the homeliness of the foods we eat, our one pot and bowls.  I look forward to talking over the coming weeks about what life is like in Innermost House, and how it works, and if I can, what it means to me. 

What are these things?  The woods, a house, a pot and bowl of simple food.  To me they are the body.  

I can only speak for myself.  But perhaps you feel as I do.  The innermost life to me is inseparable from bodies.  I want a life of air to breathe and words to speak and hear.  I want to watch the steam rising from the kettle over coals in the cold of the evening.  I want the shadows that fall over walls where the signs still show of the hands that made them.  I want to feel the body. 

I know of my own experience that there are ways of living wholly in the mind.  Ways that have given comfort and peace to millions.  But I do not want them.  

I want that place and way of life where mind and body live in married union.  I have sought it always.  I have glimpsed it in a thousand lowly corners of life.  I have lived it for years.

How modest your words are Al.  I think you must have known suffering in your life, and perhaps sometimes wondered how in this world to find the satisfaction you long for.  

I don't know of course.  But if it is anywhere for you and for me, perhaps it lies waiting silently across the waters, in the woods somewhere, in a body.


  1. You wrote: "I want that place and way of life where mind and body live in married union. I have sought it always. I have glimpsed it in a thousand lowly corners of life. I have lived it for years."
    - Diana, when you said: "I have glimpsed it in a thousand lowly corners of life." What do you mean. In my imagination, anywhere that nourishes people to live with mind and body in married union would be a place that would not be described as lowly. So I am confused.

    -- and I really must say I just love to read your words. They are like sweet nectar.. comparable to the delicious peach I am enjoying right now as well! Thank you.

  2. "I want the shadows that fall over walls where the signs still show of the hands that made them. I want to feel the body."

    Many years ago I spent some time in a friend's adobe home that made me feel this way, although I hadn't been able to articulate the feeling such as you have. I can't imagine NOT having having this in a home/place that I long to create for myself.

  3. Diana, What I thought of when you spoke of marrying mind and body to live in harmonious union with life around us was the importance of recognizing that abstract 'life' is like a living, breathing, separate entity with whom we interact and interpenetrate with our thoughts, feelings and actions. I pictured how it would feel if I was in my kitchen lovingly wiping down my countertop with the same gentleness as I would use if I was giving a newborn baby's his very first bath, or making a bed gracefully and deliberately, as if I were smoothing the folds of my daughter's wedding dress, or cooking food as if I was preparing it for someone who I KNEW would be cured of a life-threatening disease if I made it with enough love and care. In other words, I pictured how I would move through with life in such a way that it (and I!) would be shaped and fed with conscious love, gratitude and one-pointed attention. Thich Nhat Hanh said: "Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet." (in 'Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life'.) And scientist Masuru Emoto (see his book, 'The Shape of Love') proved through his experiments how the vibration of our words influence the environment. He took plain water samples from the same batch of water, put them in drinking glasses and then affixed different words to the glasses. After a certain length of time he then microscopically examined samples of the water from each of the glasses. The water that was in glasses with beautiful words like 'love','respect',or 'honesty' attached to them looked like stunning, intricately patterned snow crystals. The water that was in glasses that had violent words attached to them like 'no good' or 'I will kill you' looked distorted, shapeless and ugly under the microscope. In subtle unseen ways that we usually don't think about in the moment, our actions, thoughts and feelings have a dramatic impact on the body that is the vibration of life. Bringing awareness to our environment and keeping our thoughts and actions filled with pure intention, sanctifies our environment in subtle ways. I know that when I am able to remember to bring my wholehearted attention to a sensation of love in my heart even as I interact with my world, I feel an undercurrent of free-floating contentment and joy with whatever I am doing. However, this requires a certain slowing down on my part so that I can attune my attention and consciously bring love to my actions. It's impossible for me to do this when I am rushed, have an agenda, or am already mentally pre-planning my next activity. Remaining in the timeless moment of NOW is the only way to respond consciously and with love to the body that is my life.

    1. I must add here in the spirit of full disclosure, that I am only able to consciously stay in the moment only a couple of times a day. How wonderful for you, Diana, that you have been able to live your life with such singlemindedness. It's quite an undertaking but it absolutely transforms living into praying.

  4. Diana, that is the most kind, sensitive and perceptive response to anything I have ever posted on a blog or page. Thank you.

    I have been very lucky in life to have a wonderful wife, two great children, a lovely home and reasonably good health. We have been spared most tragedies.

    The suffering I have comes (I think) from from being relegated to a life on the margins. No matter where I am, I feel I never quite fit in, that I am always just on the outside. This has led to problems in my career and friendships. I leads me to wander and wonder about why it seems I'll never find my true place in this life. That doesn't mean I can't find happiness on most days and in most places, but there is always this quite voice in my head that is just beyond hearing. If only I could get the message.

    I often think my problems comes from a worldview that is similar to what you describe. I tend to see (and worry about) connections and interrelatedness that others don't see or care about. Others tend to find my interests and concerns depressing or boring, so nowadays, I try to limit what I say.

    On a smaller, more personal level, I'm finding joy in the simplest things (like Pam )such as the elegant basic honesty of my iron skillet, or a simple wholesome meal made from fresh, local, whole ingredients.

    Thank you for opening yourself up to us. You will help those of us in our quests for honesty, goodness and simple joy.


  5. Beautifully said, D.B.

    Said another way:

    "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." - Steve Furtick

    I have to remind myself of this fact on occasion as well!

    1. This sounds like Facebook, Leah. Everyone is always on vacations in beautiful places and has kids doing wonderful things while I have to get up and face another regular day of work and worry.

  6. Diana wrote: "I know of my own experience that there are ways of living wholly in the mind. Ways that have given comfort and peace to millions. But I do not want them."

    I am curious about this quote. I believe you speaking about meditation, but I don't want to assume.

    It is true that millions of people receive benefits in communing with their inner essence. I would imagine, however, that the percentage of those people who live completely in that realm are few. Most meditators, like myself also appreciate and are nourished by our relationships and the connection with others in our life, and other things like nature and our sensory experiences in life.

    So when you say: "The innermost life to me is inseparable from bodies." - I find that to be very provocative statement -- in a good way, of course. We have only words to convey thoughts and they are, for me anyway, sometimes limiting.

    Meditation teaches connection to the whole universe and detachment to the drama around us. But does it teach detachment from sensory and cerebral discussion? I don't think so but would love to hear from other people here. I have often found that clarity comes during and after meditation and often opens up new ideas for discussion, for Conversation. Perhaps we are saying the same thing. Perhaps, Diana, when you watch the steam rise from the kettle you are becoming grounded and having moments of higher states of consciousness.

    I believe that we have many paths open to us on our way to Enlightenment, Unity Consciousness, God. And Pam, I loved your words: "move through with life in such a way that it (and I!) would be shaped and fed with conscious love, gratitude and one-pointed attention. Thich Nhat Hanh said: "Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet."
    - I aspire to do these things. Thank you, all of you.

  7. “I exist as I am, that is enough,
    If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
    And if each and all be aware I sit content.
    One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself,
    And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
    I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.” Walt Whitman

    1. I really like that one, Julie. Thanks!

    2. Thanks Julie for this lovely quote. I copied it and put it in my reading folder, so I can find it again.


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