I am talking to a woman. She is telling me about a passion of hers. Her dream is that one day she will own and run a small hotel, a bed and breakfast by the sea. I notice that her eyes begin to well up with tears as she relates her dream to me. And then I notice that these eyes start to well up with tears too. It’s like what’s happening there is being mirrored here. Because there is nothing to get in the way, what is left here is just a total openness to others, just an open space which welcomes everything that appears. Her eyes well up, my eyes well up, what’s the difference?
When there is nobody here, there is nothing to block ‘you’ out. Because there is no ‘me’, there is no separate ‘you’ either. There are just voices, faces, the welling up of tears, or not. Just what’s happening. What’s happening fills all space. As that woman relates her story to me, I become her. I long to own a little bed and breakfast by the sea. It is my heart’s true desire. I feel the passion deep within my bones, and the tears come.
I’m watching television. It’s a game show. A man has just won a large sum of money. He says he is going to use it to take his family on holiday. They’ve never been on holiday before. The man laughs and shouts and weeps with joy. This laughs and shouts and weeps with joy. There is nothing to separate us. Oh, my family will be so happy when they find out!
Images of famine on the television. A young Somalian girl, all skin and bone, with hollowed out eyes and sticks for arms, gazes into the camera. There is nothing to block that poor child out. I am the child. I am gazing at myself. She enters me, and everything heals itself.
I am on the train. A large bald-headed man starts to shout at me for no reason. I think he is drunk. He shakes his fists. His face is red with anger. I am the man. I feel the anger, the violence, and underneath it, the anxiety, the fear, the contraction that goes along with being a separate person. I have been this man. I am this man now. He is myself, coming to meet me on the 12.23 to Brighton.
And then the woman stops talking about her bed and breakfast dreams, and the tears are wiped out. There is no memory of them. Everything is wiped clean, and it begins again.
The game show ends, and I change channels on the television, and it’s now a shopping channel, and the laughter and joy and money and family are wiped out, and now there is only fascination with item number 176387, what beautiful colours! It becomes absorbed in the shopping channel, and the game show vanishes without a trace. The game show might have happened a million years ago for all I care: this replaces everything.
The doorbell rings and I walk away from the image of the starving child. It’s my friend at the door. The starving child is wiped out, and my friend replaces her. The beauty of this is that it’s everything and it’s nothing. It’s no particular thing. One thing replaces another, and there’s no way of knowing what’s coming next. Friend replaces dying child, brother replaces friend, shopkeeper replaces brother, cat replaces shopkeeper. It emerges out of the Unknown, innocently, playfully, ceaselessly.
I walk away from the angry man. The anger disappears immediately. It’s like it never happened. Something else takes its place. And then something else. And then something else. There’s enough space here for an entire world. Joy, anger, fear, sadness, laughter, tears. Everything is welcome here.
I have no way of blocking life out anymore. Because there is nobody here, there is only raw, unedited, uncensored, unfiltered experience. And you can’t even call it an ‘experience’: there’s nobody here to experience anything. There’s just this, happening to no-one. Nobody sheds tears, nobody senses anger, nobody watches television.
But it’s not an empty void. It’s a space that’s constantly filled by life. By the woman who wants the bed and breakfast by the sea, by the starving child, by my friend at the door. You provide the solidity that I lack. The story of time and space is dead here, but you keep it going for me. There’s nobody here, but then you enter the picture, and suddenly ‘there is nobody here’ is – like any concept – not true.
When you are not, what else is there but to be all that is?
When the witness collapses into everything that’s witnessed, when awareness collapses into its contents, all that remains is a deep and total fascination with whatever is happening.