That exists in me, and before me, and after me
Effectively, what all this amounts to is that in the process of making things through living process, gradually I approach more and more closely knowledge of what is truly in my own heart.
Gradually, the older I got, I recognized […] that the thing which did have true value was only that thing which lay in my own heart. Then I learned to value only that which truly activates what is in my heart. I came to value those experiences which activate my heart as it really is. I sought, more and more, only those experiences which have the capacity, the depth, to activate the feeling that is my real feeling, in my true childish heart. And I learned, slowly, to make things which are of that nature.
Then, gradually, I began to recognize that in the midst of that cleverness, which I never truly understood anyway, the one thing I could trust was a small voice, a tiny soft-and-hard vulnerable feeling, recognizable, which was something I actually knew. Slowly that knowledge grew in me. It was the stuff which I was actually certain of — not because it aped what others had taught me, but because I knew it to be true of itself, in me.
I can’t truly claim that I understand what he is talking about, but it strangely resonates deeply. I don’t know how to describe how I choose the specific path of my research journey over the last four years, and it surely looks almost random even to myself, however, there is almost always a strong feeling of knowing involved. It’s not the kind of knowing as in “I understand it and can explain it”. It’s the kind of knowing as in “this must be right, I know it”. And more often than not do the outcomes in hindsight look exactly like what I needed to investigate, as slowly and gradually, all the pieces click into place.
Usually the things which embodied this knowledge were very small things, things so small that in ordinary discourse they might have seemed insignificant, like the fact that I felt comfortable when my back sank into a pillow arranged in a certain way, and the fact that a cup of tea was more comforting, when I lay thus, with my back in that pillow, staring at the sky.
Then in my later years I gradually began to recognize that this realistic voice, breaking through — and which by now, I had identified in many concrete ways, even to the point of writing this stuff down so others could recognize it also, for themselves, in their way, in their own hearts — was my own voice, the voice that had always been in me, since childhood, but which as a young man I had pushed away and which, now, again, I began to recognize as the only true value.
But this knowing of myself, and what was in my own true heart, was not only childish. Because at the same time that I recognized it in small things — like cups of tea, leaves blowing off an autumn tree, a pebble underfoot — I also began to recognize it in very great things, in works made by artists centuries away from us in time, thousands of miles away in space. In some thing which one of them had made, suddenly this childish heart, this me, came rushing back.
Somehow, I began to realize that the greatest masters of their craft were those who somehow managed to release, in me, that childish heart which is my true voice, and with which I am completely comfortable and completely free.
Knowing this changed my perspective. What at first seemed like a return to childhood or a simple increase of the personal, gradually took on a different character. I begin to realize that what I come in touch with when I go closer and closer to myself is not just “me”. It is something vast, existing outside myself and inside myself, as if it were a contact with the eternal, something everlasting existing before me, in me, and around me. I recognized, too, that my most lucid moments occur when I am swept up in this void, and fully conscious of it, as if it were a blinding light.
Yet even though I am next to nothing in the presence of all this force, I am free there. In such a place, at such a moment, I am crushed to understand my own smallness, and then understand the immensity of what exists. But this immensity of what exists — and my connection to it — is not only something in my heart. It is a vastness which is outside me and beyond me and inside of me.
Actions and objects increase or decrease my connection to this vastness, which is in me, and which is also real. A concrete corridor without windows and which and endless line of doors is less likely to awaken it in me than a small apple tree in bloom. The brick on my front doorstep may awaken it, if it is ordinary, soft, like life in its construction.
It is at once enormous in extent and infinitely intimate and personal.
This reminds me of many stories I heard and read from people who had psychedelic experiences, reporting a feeling of strong connection to “a larger whole” or being able to see the connections between everything at once.