The 7th April 1987 – Reno, Nevada

(found fluttering in a breeze somewhere)

Dear Jules,

I read your latest letter with a little bird fluttering in my heart. That’s what it felt like, at least, like there was this little bird trapped in a cage, and then your letter came. Your letter was like a hand reaching for that cage, unlocking it and opening its tiny little door, either to set my bird free or to grab it and snap its neck.

Jules, you can brag all you want about your achievements and whatnot, but I’m going to ask you to calm down. You haven’t gotten anywhere or anything close to what you think you’ve gotten, you know?

Now take what I’m saying with some grain of salt or rice or a grain of something, something small.

See, I’m no enlightened fool. I’ve felt it before, but I knew whatever I felt wasn’t really enlightenment, as you insist on calling it. See, enlightenment, as far as I’m aware, as far as I’ve been told, doesn’t have a feeling. Enlightenment is nothing. It’s a pure, blissful nothing.

But I know where you are because I’ve been there too. I know what you’re thinking, and I know what you’re hoping for. And, listen, you’re just wrong. You’re hoping that if you have enough of these moments of clarity you can call yourself enlightened, as if we have found a substitute for actual enlightenment.

But enlightenment doesn’t come in bursts, flashes of a bright light. No. It is constant. It is forever. It is, itself, mundane and comes through only an acceptance of the mundane, an embracement of the mundane.

See, you can look at the world as if it were an ocean, and us bobbing along in it. We swim deep and get lost or trapped in our routine beneath the water. Then we come rushing to the surface for air. When you break the surface of the ocean, and you feel the air in your lungs, the sun on your face, you think you’ve accomplished something. You feel relieved. You feel enlightened.

But you haven’t. You’ve only found a new shelter, new distraction for your mind.

You’ve left enlightenment behind you, beneath you, in the depths of that ocean, where one man swims along peacefully in the water, with the water and awake.

The air is a distraction, Jules. The sun and the light, it’s all just a distraction. Down under the surface, with the constant pressure from the water squeezing your eardrums and pressing into your body, constant and inescapable awareness of your every existence. That’s what you want.

So good luck to you. Let me know how it goes.

-Kathleen

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