Sitting outside in mindfulness meditation this morning, a light rain began to fall. The internal dialogue about abandoning my meditation flickered briefly and went out, doused perhaps by the rain. The other dialogue – the one about happiness and meditating in the rain – took longer to subside.
Then a new recurring thought arose: “I am raining.”
Not that I was the rain, no. No trace of sky or dripping trees in the thought and feeling. And although the thought inevitably merged back into the tides of breath, its footprints remain.
This incoherent blend of identity, mindfulness, and rain is strange for me. When a dog barks during meditation, surely I’m not alone in feeling that the dog barks inside me. When a fly divebombs my ear, many would understand the long distance from which I know it. The caress of the breeze familiarly abolishes all viewers. This intuition that I was raining was new.
The riddle posed by this driftwood of identity, mindfulness, and rain feels similar to the religious questions about the nature of God. Is God in all things, or does God contain all things? Is God the unifying threads weaving us all together, or is rather He the sea out of which we arise? There is no answer to such questions born of duality, of course. One may not meaningfully seek to divide up the properties of the Unbounded. And, it seems to me must be the case, there is no such answer to the questions of identity posed through our perceptions in mindfulness or meditation. When we engage in the pursuit of God or self, we are unable to find either. The seeking mind is blind.
There are many wonderful stories about people finding themselves, as though some shell had searched high and low for its innards. There are also many wonderful stories about people finding God, as though He was an attribute of circumstance and rode time just as we. What truth lies in any of them? How can something unbounded be found and stowed away once and for all?
The riddles of identity, spiritual discovery, and mysticism do not bloom in chessboards or itineraries. They lie in the eternal dissolution of our mental boundaries. They are in the flowered meadows and chilly rains, in the dark hours before dawn and in the blazing furnace of noonday desert. There is no final answer to the riddles, blessedly, and no designated map or plan to get to them. The riddles are luminous and lovely, alive and inexpressible. Perhaps the riddles are the brilliant rips of the veil between the eternal and temporal, divine and mortal.
Ah, but I’ve probably gone too far with that. I’m not raining anymore and I’ve started gazing into puddles.