By The Ocean

“Dawn on Ocean Beach” by the author

Walking beside the metaphorical ocean, listening to the waves strike the coast then retreat, lost in thought about a project I was trying to wrestle into success, there was a voice:

If you let go of this week’s wave,
it will subside into the sea
and again arise, it may be,
from the same waters that gave
it form before.

And I turned, and of course there was no one there — no one still there, for there had been a presence that gave the sense of this verse.

Nondualists are a humorless lot, aren’t they? I count myself among them. My face had hardly smiled in years, until I saw its dourness on a Zoom meeting. We are so grave because all our stories have the same punch-line :

“It is The One.’’

Of course our accounts have a devil in them too. The ego. What a flimsy tailless demon. We need it, though, to explain all the leakages and errors in the world. We pretend that a little thing like an individual ego could make the great sufferings, extinctions, genocides and cruelties.

I mock the ego. It is small of me to do it. The ego works to make us well when the world needs tending. The ego is writing this. And letting go of the ego’s projects, its “waves,” that is hard.

The ego, though, begs to write about it because it is painful to obsess and push on with its projects when they are being frustrated. It is hard. And the ego, surprisingly, is the one who has learned “If I could just let this go for a minute, I could sleep, I could incubate this and let the huge unconscious help.”

Odd, huh? It is the ego walking on the beach of consciousness that wants to surrender to the sea. It knows from its daily life that when it cannot with its little chisel fashion a sculpture — so it must let the sea bring it driftwood.

Now I know whose voice I heard. It was the same ego that has tried to care for me my whole adult life. Better than any spiritual thought or philosophical teaching, by practical experience, it has learned that the sea gives.

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For many years I was at a Public Broadcasting station, and got a doctorate in Religion and Philosophy over a decade. Now, in good company, I cook and write.

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Birrell Walsh

Birrell Walsh

For many years I was at a Public Broadcasting station, and got a doctorate in Religion and Philosophy over a decade. Now, in good company, I cook and write.

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