A genuine friend recently reminded me: “When you separate your self from your surroundings you actually become part of them. You don’t indulge because when you indulge you are imposing your reflection. Can you see what I am saying? You separate even from your self and you observe actively aware of your presence apart from your surroundings, including your own thoughts and desires.”

“Can I see what you are saying?” was the first thought that came to my mind. I picked apart the sentence word by word and replied, “Yes, I see what you mean.” My friend laughed playfully.

“There is a beautiful passage in the Tao te Ching,” he said. “’We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable. We work with being, but non-being is what we use.’”

Non-being. Ha! How does “non-being” translate Actually? I can say that I use non-being all day long, but saying won’t make me experience non-being, on the contrary, saying requires ‘something’, not ‘nothing’.

“I feel I am a being.” I declare. “I am the wheel. I am the clay pot. Tell me, how can “I” be a space? How can “I” experience Non-being?”

This time he only smiles. He knows that I believe I experienced a fleeting glimpse of genuine Presence ‘here’ and ‘there’ – “Riding the Divine Colt of Now” as he calls it. Perhaps he sees through my stubbornness.

“’I’ can’t’,” he replies.

If there was a moment in which I experienced Reality with the wholeness of my Being, there were moments which followed. These ‘following moments’ contained thoughts that questioned the Now which had since become a ‘previous’ experience. Could I really have experienced Now a moment ago?

“What does Being mean?” I stress, raising my voice knowing it’s useless. The louder you speak, the louder you speak.

“Well it’s hard to say” he roars, laughing hard!

But I know what this means, and knowing that I know he simply observes me. In the moments after BEING one no longer IS, one no longer SEES, rather, one is recollecting, remembering. It’s the difference between drinking from the chalice of life and drinking from its shadow. The difference is actually LIFE and DEATH – not virtually, but actually. In the moments ‘after’ Being I find myself asking, ‘what does it mean to BE?’

"Convergences" by Edgard Mazigi (2005)

 (Edgard Mazigi Art Gallery)

The answer which appears before me is the seeming riddle of the Tao: “We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.” Just Now I See the meaning of this sentence. I Sense the meaning behind the words. Reality is a convergence of ‘thing’ and ‘no-thing’. The space in the middle is no thing, no one, and yet without it there is no wheel, no life, no happening. The space in the middle does not interfere with the spokes, with the wheel which never stops spinning, yet it IS. A thing we call nothing, nonexistent and yet existent. Life can never exist as the phenomenal being alone, just as the wheel can never exist as the spokes alone. Being has to be all inclusive, including the space we call Non-Being.

“Can I Be the space in the middle? Can I simply witness the merry-go-round reality, this phenomenal world all about, without imposing my reflection effecting its speed and direction? How can “I” not cast a shadow?” I glanced at him sharply. Could he argue against such logic?

Smiling he asks, “How can an “I” experience non-being?”

Quite suddenly I See the simple fact. “’I’ can’t.” I reply dumbfounded.

Life is a paradox, but only when internally I participate in external happenings. What have “I” to do with external happenings? What have “you” to do with them? No thing is “mine”, every thing just IS.

“Separate your self from your environment and you actually become your surroundings!” I suddenly Realize. While hardly uttering a word my genuine friend had just reminded me again.

“Remember,” he speaks deliberately, slowly. “You can’t remember Now.” He watches me forget.

Forgetting to remember anything – Knowing Nothing – together we smile.