Forgotten Art: Jasper – Seth 6

A reply to: A letter from Seth

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Dear Seth,

I reread your letter again. I have read it at least five times. It’s a sacred text.

I enjoy the Spice Festival, too. I live near the plaza, close enough that it’s an extension of my living room, and I visit often, sometimes even during the festival.

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I’m not a spice hound, though I love saffron.

You asked about how I became friends with Bjorn and Raj. I met Bjorn at the meadows one afternoon when we were both young–he was a student; I was a young professor. We started talking about Bach, and the conversation continues to this day. We don’t talk about much else besides Bach, his life and his music, and maybe that is why we are such fast friends.

I met Raj… how did I meet Raj? He’s a neighbor. I see him in the plaza. We take morning coffee together. We don’t talk much, and maybe that’s the secret of our friendship.

I don’t have a good understanding of how I become friends with others. I seem to find myself in friendships with nearly everyone I meet. My wife told me that it was because I have no expectations of my friends: I don’t expect them to agree with me or do things with or for me or to meet specific conditions. I simply know that I like nearly everyone I meet–and those I don’t like, I learn to like. Somehow, that leads me into friendship with them. I don’t know if they like me, but then I don’t expect them to.

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Perhaps I know what you mean when you write, “There is meaning and notmeaning, and I always have too much of both,” and  also, “The hell of it is that the notenough is just as beautiful and infinite and painful as the toomuch, and I cannot contain either one.”

Yes. This brings to mind your question about how many Jaspers there are. My answer is connected with the experience of meaning/notmeaning, notenough/toomuch.

In the lifetime before Bess passed, there were many Jaspers: Professor Jasper, Scholar Jasper, Rebel Jasper, Iconoclast Jasper, Barefoot Jasper, Bess’s Jasper, Bearded Jasper, Bard Jasper, Uncle Jasper, Brother Jasper, Jasper with an awl in his hand, Jasper with a book in his hand, and Jasper with a beer in his hand. I didn’t even attempt to integrate them.

When Bess became ill and through the years after her passing, there was no Jasper. It was as you write, and I became lost in the infinity of both notenough and toomuch, sometimes bouncing from one to the other, sometimes stuck in the delta of both. In the pressure at the center of meaning and nomeaning, I dissolved.

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I surfed the oceanic oneness. I thought I was experiencing attainment, enlightenment in this anatta that devastated me.

Now, I am finding bridges back to myself: doors don’t work, but bridges do.

What was that that John Lilly wrote in Center of the Cyclone?

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I am a single point of consciousness, of feeling, of knowledge. I know that I am. That is all.

Lilly found this single point when he was out-of-body: I find it when I am fully in-body, embodied.

I agree with your definition of freedom: “an escape from this finite universe.” The only escape I know of comes through the finite universe: through the bridge to the infinite that is created when we are fully embodied. When the attention of conscious awareness sparks the consciousness within each cell inside of us, we light up. A light-bridge joins inside and outside, and we are both. Yet we are also fully and completely here, aware, and in our bodies. That’s freedom. That’s the bridge I traveled to become One Jasper.

Feel for a moment that one of your cells gains awareness. Imagine they all do. Each cell, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of the body that makes up the existence of you.

Now feel that you are conscious. Imagine that each of us is. Each one of us, aware, conscious, individual, and yet part of a cosmos that makes up the existence of all-that-is.

When I realize that this single point exists within each of us, just as it exists within each of our cells, then this brings me to individuality within unity.

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Yes… it’s the space between the toomuch and notenough where I strive to dwell. I’m not there always. Sometimes, I’m in the toomuch. Sometimes, especially when I wake, I’m in the notenough. But when I can feel the spaces in my body vibrating with that hum of electricity that is life energy, then I’m here, in the in-between.

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When I am with my friends, I see that same unity of being–both individual and universal bridged within them–and maybe that is how I am able to become their friend.

My editor friend is actually a collector of doors. He loves old handmade Spanish colonial doors, preferably carved in mesquite. He is a very linear person, my editor friend. And he has a good many selves. I am fortunate enough to know at least six of them.

My editor friend takes his press very seriously. He says, “Printing is a holy act. And rebellious. It’s holy and rebellious.”

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He prints books designed to restore people, to help them find and recover the broken up bits or, even better, to develop flexibility and resiliency so that those pieces never break in the first place. He’s a good man, my editor friend.

You say you’re wondering about the differences between bridges and doors. A door lets you cross between space that has been divided. A bridge connects a gap.

It takes, generally, one step to pass through the door. To cross a bridge takes many more.

I asked my editor friend what he would do if he were on a trestle and it began to hum. He says he would hum along with it, in a resonating key.

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You asked, “How do you know when you’re bound to someone else in the same time and space?” Ah, but I am not bound to them: We are both bound, individually, to the same time and space–but we are not bound to each other. We are able, in that moment, to connect with each other, because our individual binding, for that moment, to the same time-space/space-time forms the bridge which allows us to exist, at that moment, in shared reality.

I was speaking of music as having that bridging power. But any shared experience can do it.

You ask if my self works the same way I say music works. I have never considered this before. I am tempted to say that the vibrational energy of music and the vibrational energy within my cells operate on the same principles, but I will need to give this more thought.

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I think there’s something to your speculation that “perhaps all the different Seths are different notes, and if [you] could find the relation they have to each other then [you] would make sense to [your]self.”

As for me, the answer to your question regarding the “relation all the Jaspers have to each other,” the answer is not profound. All the Jaspers were various suits of clothes for various occasions , that’s all. Simply the dressing over this changing form that is me.

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I once asked a friend who is a yogi, “How do I know what is me when I don’t know who I am anymore?”

He replied, “Breathe. Just breathe. Is that enough?”

It wasn’t, not then, when I had lost myself entirely. But it is now. In fact now, to breathe is enough.

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Wishing you peace and space, my dear friend.

–Jasper

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Three Rivers 16.1

Sixteenth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

16. The gap inside is filled with presence

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Savannah Trejo loved to watch her young wife. Sierra moved with calmness. To be near her was to sit beneath a willow on a summer afternoon. Worries drifted away with the dandelion puffs.

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In the few years they’d been married, frenzy had dissolved from Savannah’s life–this, despite being the mother to two teens: Elaine, the foster child that Sierra and Savannah legally adopted, and Leigh, Savannah’s natural-born daughter.

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The girls weren’t angels: Elaine fell into moods, and Leigh would do nearly anything to pull off a successful prank. But somehow, Sierra made it seem that everything was ok: even the tension of Elaine’s hormonal cliffs and valleys or the principal’s call after an entire row of lockers were sealed shut with Leigh’s favorite brand of bubblegum.

For Sierra, life–in all its complications–was simple: accept everything. Nothing lasts, so nothing need be clung to nor resisted.

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Shortly after they’d first met, Savannah tried to learn Sierra’s secret.

They sat together at a café, and Savannah leaned over the table to look into Sierra’s eyes.

“How do you do it?” she asked.

“Do what?”

When Savannah finally managed to explain what she was asking, which was challenging because she wasn’t sure herself, Sierra just laughed.

“There’s no trick!” she said. “Do you remember when you were a baby?”

Savannah shook her head. “I don’t remember anything before Leigh was born. I mean, I know the facts, but I don’t remember how anything felt. It’s as if my life ended and then started again. Everything from before is merely hypothetical. Do you remember?”

“I do!” said Sierra. Sierra’s earliest memories were of lying in her crib while the sunlight poured in through the nursery windows. “Happiness, I discovered, was as easy as holding my toes! As natural as the sunlight! That’s all there is to it,” she explained. “Simply breathe! We have more than we need to be happy! We have everything.”

Savannah loved to watch Sierra walk through the park behind their home.

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“Are you meditating?” she asked sometimes.

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“I’m walking,” Sierra replied. “Walking and breathing and feeling the soles of my feet on the earth.”

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Savannah walked through the park while Sierra did a sun salutation. She wondered if she could walk long enough that her thoughts would stop. She wanted to ask Sierra if her thoughts stopped while she practiced walking meditation, but Sierra was in the middle of her yoga routine. Savannah continued to walk the path as it wound past the garden, behind their house, through the many arches and back past the sunny lawn where her young wife practiced yoga. With each step, she watched her breath. One, two, three, four–on the inhale. One, two, three, four, five–on the exhale.

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With each inhale, she thought: I walk on the earth. With each exhale: the ground is beneath me. With the next inhale: the sky is above me. Exhale: the ground is beneath. Around and around. Her feet sounded on the cement pathway, and the sound resonated inside.

She stopped to watch Sierra finish the routine. Stillness within, stillness without.

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“I think my thoughts stopped,” she said to Sierra, while Sierra rolled the yoga mat.

Sierra smiled.

They held hands and walked together down the path, while slowly thoughts found their ways back into the minds of each woman.

“Let’s have salad and scrambled eggs for supper!” Sierra said.

They met a community gardener on the way home.

“Oh! We should tell her about the next Green Party meeting!” Sierra said.

Savannah watched the two women talk. Her mind still had so much space within–is this what peace feels like? We don’t need the Green Party, Savannah thought. All we need is this. Stillness and quiet.

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They said goodbye to the gardener, who’d promised to attend their next rally, and as they approached the street, they came upon an old man.

“Good evening, M. Deveralle,” Sierra said.

“Ah, ma belle!” said the old man. “What is the young rebel doing wandering through the park this fine evening?”

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As they chatted, Savannah learned of the old man’s experience with political reform. “We will change the old ways once again,” he said. “You tell that to Alec. All he needs to do is call. I am always ready for the consultation.”

They bid goodnight to Claude Deveralle and walked the rest of the way home.

“He was once the leader of the Socialist Movement,” Sierra said.

“That old man?” Savannah asked.

“That man,” Sierra replied. “He has such stories to tell. Such experience.”

Savannah sat at the counter while Sierra chopped the salad.

“Are you sad, dear?” she asked.

“Oh,” said Sierra, “I suppose so. It will pass.”

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A hot shower, the supper of salad and scrambled eggs, and the sadness lifted and jokes flowed between the two.

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And then the doors slammed and the two daughters were home.

“School is the biggest crock of garbage,” pronounced Elaine. She sat on the couch and glared.

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While Savannah washed the dishes, Sierra sat next to her, not talking, simply sitting, smiling, resting and breathing. Elaine sighed and leaned against her mother. “If only everyone were like you,” she said.

Before bed, Leigh came down with an announcement.

“I’ve figured it out. I want to be a botanist. Either that or an astronaut. No, a botanist. Do you think that botanists make good money?”

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Her mothers laughed.

“I doubt that many botanists become botanists for the money,” said Savannah.

“No,” said Sierra, “but you know? There are so many good jobs for botanists!  And for gardeners, too! And if Alec wins, Three Rivers will be hiring even more of both!”

“I think I’ll be a botanist,” repeated Leigh. “I like trees.”

After the girls went up to their rooms, Sierra and Savannah tidied up the living room, putting away the books and magazines, watering the house plants, folding the afghans and comforters.

“I hope our daughters pick up something of you,” Savannah said, “so that when they move out into this big world, they’ll always have a center of calm, like we do, here in our home.”

“They’ll live their own way,” Sierra replied, “for it’s their lives, isn’t it?”

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