letter from Reggie
Recently Lee and I were driving back from Boulder and had just turned off route 17 onto the “T” road, heading due east, right for Crestone. On the right and left, you could see the mountains of the Sangre de Cristo, bright and clear in the sunlight. But straight ahead, where Crestone should have been, was just a huge dark, grey-black cloud, “mysterious and beckoning,” and completely unknown. As we drove, we were plunging right into it. I turned to Lee and said, “we are going home; that is our home” and she replied, “this is exactly what I am feeling.”
The only way we can make this journey “home,” I think, is when we do not deviate to the right or left, to the relative things we can see and know objectively and find security in. Our true home is not there, but rather in the “cloud of unknowing” that is straight head, due east. All our friends and companions, our money, possessions, and credentials, are to the right and left. Straight ahead, there is just this great mystery of the unknown. It is not hard to find—it is always there, directly ahead, as the ultimate truth of our lives.
It is important to remember that one can only enter this cloud alone. So please do not be afraid to be utterly alone. Being alone means that, in our journeys and in our lives, we are not continually seeking everybody else’s permission, confirmation, or even “support” for who we are; that we are not constantly looking to the relative world of “others” to feel okay about who were are. It is being willing, as the tradition says, to be “one without a second.” This is ultimately what it means to go for refuge—that we look only to the mystery of our actual human existence, to the cloud of unknowing that always lies straight ahead.
When we are willing to go “cold turkey,” not continually trying to feed ourselves on samsara, then the lineage can nourish us in its own way. To put it in practice language, when we are willing to abandon the impure food of samsara, to live without the usual confirmations and comforts of samsara, then the unseen lineage can and will nourish us with their own nourishment, the elixir of life, of immortality.
This process is not just an idea, it is what all of us practitioners—once we have truly taken refuge—can experience for ourselves. If we are seeking true fulfillment, satisfaction, understanding, and joy—there is no other place it can ever be found, except in this nourishment provided by the unseen.
Lee has gone into solitary retreat in one of the Carmelite cabins for the next month or so. I just received a letter from her in which she says, “I’m so happy to be here, I can’t tell you. Here I am truly alone. Here I can truly experience everything for what it is. It is so good to know that anything can be whatever it wants, whatever arises…”
With love in the practicing lineage,