Clutching the Butterfly
There is a ritual to this process: the noting of date and start time at the top of the hand-written draft, the coffee growing cold in the reusable cup, the buttered wholemeal toast not quite finished. And four wrappers from the butter pate left on the plate. Always four. Always returned to the plate after consumption. Then I can start.
It’s not that I can’t write without all that. It’s simply that setting the scene, undertaking the ritual, sets this time apart – sanctifies it if you will, renders it special, some might say holy. The preparatory process slows the mind to concentrate upon the moment. And now the hand is poised upon page, ready to write what comes.
I could be in church at this moment, or temple, in a synagogue, in a zendo. All places of ritual, all in some sense sacred spaces, set aside from the humdrum and rush, the preoccupation with the superficially important to support concentration upon the moment and what dwells in the moment, outside of time, encompassing timing, outside of activity, wrapping its now-ness around the silence.
Here, when the meditation gong sounds, or the priest’s voice breaks through the distraction, or the Sharman’s drum first beats, here is where we return to what we are, as illusion evaporates. We abandon goals, projects and objectives. We release our attempts to control and discover what happens when there is no control, neither our own nor someone else’s in a space where everything is allowed simply to be as it is.
We are dedicated change-makers, we humans, always wanting things to be other than how they are, then grasping onto the impossibility of sustaining what we think we wanted. We change what is in order to make it suit our preference, then refuse stubbornly to see that the moment we have arrived at cannot be held. We miss the point: that everything changes. Not occasionally, not periodically, but continuously, moment by moment, each in-breath filling the space inside, each out-breath emptying. Then the briefest of pauses when we touch the silence.
Grasp it at your peril. You miss the point if you clutch the butterfly, breaking its wings as you hold it tight in your fist, destroying the very thing you are trying to sustain. There is congruence in opening the palm, knowing that the bright and colourful fluttering thing was never yours to possess. Why attempt the impossibility of ownership, possession, when there is another moment to be entered into? Focus on sustaining the moment that work was and you miss the moment that is. Receiving the power of now depends on permitting now to evaporate. A paradox that is not a paradox.
Eventually you see it, of course. However many moments, however many lifetimes it takes, you understand in the end that now is continuous and continuously becoming.
The incense burns down, the candle burns out, the vibrations of the gong wane, all spreading out into what is next.
Why would you be afraid of becoming what you have always been?