I wrote the poem ‘Journey’, just as my heart was beginning to open in 2013. The lifelong search for meaning was both beginning and ending.
I have been knocking at an open door. I have been straining to hear echoes from my voice. I have woken up to drag my feet through the unexplained, inexplicable days with my eyes closed.
When an animal like a dog or a bird spots an object of interest, it will race to it. It takes no time out for risk assessment. It consults no preflight checklist, it undertakes no critical path analysis of its intention, and it generally measures its actions against its peer group behaviour not at all.
When “I”, Peter the Pilley, lean into “I” the animal, I have no use for the old and much-thumbed ‘Wiki of What-Ifs’. I can leave it to sit on the shelf in the library of my mind.
The naked flame has no label. The naked flame hurts. That’s all there is to it from my perspective.
Picture a tree in a woodland setting. Here is the label neatly printed, affixed to the trunk. It confirms beyond all doubt this entity’s identity, because it is written: TREE.
Turn away and look elsewhere. Millions of labels are attached to millions of objects, most with subtext and supplementary information.
The naked flame needs its label. Either I acquire it by burning myself, or it is given to me by admonition.
The World of Labels is acquired from our human beginnings. It is a useful and often necessary complement to my navigation. Labels can disappear entirely under the influence of a hallucinogen. Labels will reappear later to be where I am, only to hang around one step in front of me — as persistent and ingratiating self-appointed guides — ready with their irrefutables… “this is this” and “that is that”.
Desperation, frustration and plain old misery can arise if the world of labels is accepted unquestioned. Labels can cage the heart and trap the soul. I am talking about barriers tagged “What if” and “I can’t” and again “not now, some other time”.
It is in the years since the Year of my Life, 2013, that I have seen through the heaviness of damp woollen shrouds, all richly hung with labels. Gradually, as I see mirrored everywhere the living-beingness of things, I have experienced over and over the thrill of recognition.
I stop. I see here the waving antennæ of a single lacewing at rest. What is it? What is it sensing? What does it search for, sifting the sightless drifts of air for what signal? I stop and ask Lacewing.
I stop at a stone on the footpath. It is different, maybe in shape or colour. I stop and ask Stone where did you acquire your shape? What processes and over how long originated your stoniness?
There is a curious, unmistakable recognition of excitement aroused by pausing to enquire In this simple way, where no parent, schoolteacher, employer has shown, instructed or directed before.
There is an urgency in the attraction of this feeling. It is related to, but not exclusive of, the search for an ultimate meaning.
I wanted to repeat the thrill of seeing both myself and the lacewing’s mind disappear under the cross-examination of reading the Mirror of Thisness.
Gradually, over a long period of time, I made my choice. I chose to ask, to see if I can see the unseen in everything I walk past. The more I stop to examine the macrocosm in the microcosm of my immediate surroundings, the more I began to melt away as “I” observer.
The intensity of what is mirrored to me from the life-energies which surround me everywhere, of which in truth I myself am composed, is perfectly able (if I allow it) to blow me away.
Blown away like the seeds on a dandelion. Like the mist over a morning pond. Like drunk with the most intoxicating liquor ever brewed by the ancients of days, in millenia past!
I went for a walk in Roydon’s Wood, near Brockenhurst in the New Forest, one spring not long ago. The months of build-up of house moving stresses demanded release in some forest bathing.
I started going on methodical, mostly solo, backpack rambles in 1978. Till now, I must have covered many thousands of miles, almost all in the south of England.
This woodland walk was not like the others. It felt like it was my very first. The woods and the Big Green of the scenery were not specially different. I was. The intensity of the recognition of pleasure at finding myself at last alone among so many mature trees on a windless Spring day was so surprising that my identity as a social creature had shrunk away. I had become little more than a sensitive receiver and I was filled up with awe and joy.
As I walked, very slowly indeed, “I” experienced the magic of Not Being Here in all its wonder and beauty. I knew what was happening. My self-referential identity had dwindled to unimportant. I willingly gave myself up to the awe of the moment. I had no need at all to reach out and label.
There are many who need little, even no preparation, and who “get it”, this discipline of enquiry into Thisness.
For me, it has been decades of stumbling, falling down, failing, being rescued, not recognising received love, ferociously hating, self-sabotage, asleep-waking, when all I needed was simply to stop and open the eyes of my eyes. I guess years of meticulous study and self-disciplined enquiry could have brought about the reunion of my heart within my identity, but I always rebelled against training.
As it turns out, a time came at the start of 2013, when other people allowed their hearts to share their visibility with my own.
This happened at a time when my courage to understand matched my curiosity discover. The result was an emotional earthquake, an explosive event which removed the decades old protective layers I had placed around my heart.
Since that moment, I have been working to revere and celebrate the continuing discoveries. My EveryNow blog is one way to record these.
My heart is an opening heart. It is no different to your heart. No different to the heart of a stone on the footpath!
Only connect! In an inevitable plurality of beings, I allow myself to melt into Beingness. As often as possible, I melt away the walls of the mind. Let the sighing relief of simply being alive fully take over from the exacting exigencies of imposed imperatives.
The entirety of the potential of the universe is yours and mine, and it only asks to be asked for!