From Original Wisdom: Stories of An Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff
“Do not talk,” Ahmeed said — I knew he meant “Do not think.” “Water inside heart,” he said next, with a gesture of his hand on his heart. I knew he meant I should sense inside — not with my mind but from the inside.
It is sad to have to use so many words to say something so simple.
As soon as I stopped thinking, planning, deciding, analyzing — using my mind, in short — I felt as if I was pushed in a certain direction. I walked a few steps and immediately saw a big leaf with perhaps half a cup of water in it.
I must have stood there for a full minute, in awe. Not in awe of anything in particular, simply in awe.
When I leaned over to drink from the leaf, I saw water with feathery ripples, I saw the veins of the leaf through the water, some bubbles, a little piece of dirt. Reaching out, I put a finger in the water, then saw that one of the wriggling mosquito larvae had been trapped in a tiny bubble on my finger. How beautiful, how perfect. I did not put the finger with the water droplet in my mouth, but looked back at the leaf.
My perception opened further. I no longer saw water — what I felt with my whole being was a leaf-with-water-in-it, attached to a plant that grew in soil surrounded by uncounted other plants, all parts of the same blanket of living things covering the soil, which was also part of a larger living skin around the earth. And nothing was separate; all was one, the same thing: water – leaf – plant – trees – soil – animals – earth – air – sunlight and little wisps of wind. The all-ness was everywhere, and I was part of it.
I cannot explain what went on inside me, but I knew that I had learned something unbelievably wonderful. I felt more alive than I had ever felt before.
All of me was filled with being.
What this other sense is, I do not know. For me it is very real. I think of it as a sense of knowing. It probably is a quality we all have to a greater or lesser degree. For me it works when I can get out of my mind, when I can experience without having to understand, or name, or position, or judge, or categorize.
It is a quality that has to be used or it fades away; just as one has to exercise muscles, so too knowing must be exercised.
I am saying this after the fact, trying to describe something that does not fit into our Western concepts, and therefore there are no words. At the time I did not think anything. I was learning how to put my mind aside and use some other sense to know.
Standing over a leaf with a little water in it, somewhere in the jungles of Malaysia, I did not think in words. I did not think. I bathed in that overwhelming sense of oneness. I felt as if a light was lit deep inside me. I knew I was radiating something — love, perhaps — for this incredible world, this rich, varied, and totally interconnected world of creations that, at the same time, gave love to me. And with the love, I also felt a very deep sense of belonging.
After a while, I slowly woke up. I came to, so to speak, and was in my body again. I looked around. Ahmeed was not where I thought he was. In fact, he was not anywhere in sight. He must have walked on, I thought.
As soon as I thought, I panicked. I realized that I was alone, that Ahmeed had left me in a strange place. I had no idea where I was, or how to get back to Three or to find Ahmeed. My first reaction was to shout, to yell, to call him. But the sense of being part of this wonderful whole was so strong that I could not raise my voice. I opened my mouth and tried to make a sound, but no sound would pass my throat. I could not possibly disturb this oneness by yelling, by feeling panicked. I could not be afraid — after all, I was part of this all-ness.
My life changed in that moment.
(Original Wisdom: Stories of An Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff)