The Eternal Appearing and Disappearing.
"It's clouds illusions I recall. I really don't know clouds at all." - Joni Mitchell
Birth, death and the space between (aka life) have always captivated us. We approach these facts of experience with wonder, with fear, with countless stories and endless explanations. Yet all around us are clear pointers to the underlying truth.
Take for example the cloud. We regard it as a thing, floating in the sky. Maybe there are many clouds, all floating in the sky. Two clouds bump into each other and without a sound there is now one cloud. The boundary of separation disappears instantly.
When we look closely we see that this sometimes beautiful and sometimes threatening "thing" is really an appearance of something else. When wind, temperature and moisture come together in just the right way, out of nothing arises a billowing appearance. All around this phenomenon is simply a state wherein those elements have not arrived at that particular mix... so no appearance, only potential.
The cloud is nothing other that the sky itself, appearing and disappearing as a cloud. The invisible appearing as something visible. This is cloud's illusion. The billowing mass is but the breathing of the sky. And so this continual appearing and disappearing, the arising and subsiding of conditions, produces what, to our limited senses, is called a cloud. When the conditions change and the cloud disappears back into its elements and the illusion is no more.
Has it died?
Was it born?
Has it ceased to be?
Has it ever been?
This is life.
This is the Tao.
Everything you see around you is a momentary appearing and disappearing of something that remains unseen. Like the image on a computer screen, it appears to be on the screen but, in fact, it IS the screen. The image you see, be it a series of seemingly statice characters like this blog or an exciting and engaging movie on Netflix, it is always, only, the self-modulating of the screen.
Everything is like that.
Everything is the Tao.
The cloud is simply the changing state of an unchanging essence. It is never born and never dies. The beginning-less essence is simply changing form, reconfiguring itself into the familiar, shapeless shape. So the universe itself, in all its vastness and mystery is simply some unknowable essence reconfiguring itself.
Or, as the mystics would say, it is the face of God.
"Nothing other than Him has ever had being, and there is nothing that needs to pass away so that His face remains. There is nothing except His face." - Awhad al-din Balyani, from Whoever Knows their Self, Knows Their Lord
The universe, of course, includes you. Yes, what you call your life, has been just a sequence of appearances and disappearances, conditions giving rise to experience and then dissolving back into some primal essence, a self-modulating, self-reconfiguring emptiness, known only by the temporary face it is wearing.
To ponder this deeply and to come to see its truth is to know freedom. Freedom from the fears, lack and limitations inherent in being a separate self. That is, imagining the cloud exists in itself, rather than a momentary illusion, caused by ever shifting conditions.
This is freedom even from the cycles of birth and death, from Shivas wheel and Kali's time. For, like that cloud, which is only the dancing sky, your life does come and go, but the sky of your being goes on forever.
Release the cloud and be the sky.
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